don elder 2020 pres

At the time of this writing, I have been President for 31 days. I knew that when I took the office, I would plan to do a variety of things, and with the help of others that we would accomplish many of them and hopefully make headway on the rest. I knew generically that the unexpected would arise, and that we would meet challenges as they came. On January 7, I got to kick off the year at a great meeting with the Panhandle Chapter.

Near the end of 2019, I got an invitation to attend a meeting of the Exterior Chapter of CIAPR on January 18 and was looking forward to seeing some of the surveyors again who I got to meet last year. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this group, CIAPR is the association run by the college of engineers and surveyors of Puerto Rico, and their Exterior Chapter is based here in Florida. Last year, Dianne Collins and I began work on strengthening friendly ties between our organizations, something that is long overdue given the substantial numbers of our fellow American surveyors who have come to Florida from the island. 

However, following the strong earthquakes of January 6 and 7, holding a fiesta seemed inappropriate and the CIAPR event was canceled, as some of the organizers were bound for the island to render aid. The subsequent quake of January 11 compounded the problems on the island that much more. I’d encourage everyone who can to donate to the NSPS Disaster Fund in support of our colleagues in Puerto Rico who are wrestling some harrowing conditions.

Monday, January 13 brought a different kind of unexpected challenge in the form of proposed legislation. HB 6073 and SB 1826 are bills which do far more to strip the public of safety and property protections than they do to open employment opportunities for people in the surveying industry. More will come on this front.

The rest of the week of the 13th was much more pleasant, as I got to spend time with the Chipola, North Central Florida, and Broward Chapters. 

 In the big picture, next up for us are widening support for what Rick Pryce and Earl Soeder have been doing to combat the scourge of equipment theft, along with finding ways to develop education programs for survey technicians.  

Lack of survey technicians is a much more immediate problem for the industry than lack of licensees is. However, this is a problem we can make headway against if we do so in a unified manner. I think we can agree that at present, virtually every surveying company in the state would hire a trained technician on the spot and compensate them well.

At the first FSMS Board meeting of 2020, Director Greg Prather issued a challenge to the individual members in the room and across the state to build the reserves of FSMPAC to $50,000 by the end of the Legislative session in mid-March. Our PAC is critical for helping to support constructive legislation and budget allocations, including coastal mapping provisions and funding for restoration of tidal stations and benchmarks. 

Our teammates from the Manasota Chapter are slated this week to exceed their generous $1,500 donation from February of last year with a $2,000 commitment this year. Large donations are not necessary to be meaningful – every $25, $50, or $100 helps!

Finally, Director Dodie Keith is leading this year’s membership drive, so expect a call if you are not a member. If you are in the business of Florida Surveying and Mapping and are an individual or represent a firm which has been on the sidelines, suit up and join – we need you in the game!

Until next month, stay safe out there!