Former Dunedin High principal dies

DUNEDIN — Reuben Hepburn, 49, of St. Petersburg, a former Dunedin High School principal, died of a debilitating illness Dec. 3.

Hepburn also had been principal at Gibbs High School. Admirers online called him a "fearless leader" and "an amazing principal and person."

A former Dunedin resident, Hepburn was said to have loved the community. He ran for a seat on the City Commission in 2016, losing to Heather Gracy.

Born in Miami, Hepburn was the only son of Christina Hepburn and grew up with two younger sisters, Rodrika and Regina, and helped raised another sister, Renae, who lived elsewhere.

Hepburn was educated in Miami-Dade public schools and graduated from Florida A&M University.

In 2008, Hepburn was ordained as a minister and served at St. John Primitive Baptist Church and Gateway Christian Center.

Hepburn is survived by his wife, Maribeth Hepburn; two children, Joshua Townsend and Mariela Myrick; his mother, Christina Hepburn; and his three sisters.

Arrangements are handled by Memorial Park Cemetery and Funeral Home.

Gow named vice mayor

DUNEDIN — Commissioner Jeff Gow was named vice mayor at the commission's work session Dec. 1.

He was the only commissioner nominated for the position. Commissioner John Tornga made the nomination.

The vice mayor serves in that capacity for one year and acts as mayor during the absence or the inability of the mayor to perform the duties of his or her office.

Gow was elected to the City Commission in 2018.

City honors firefighter of the year

DUNEDIN — City commissioners honored firefighter of the year Lt. Brandon Young during a ceremony Dec. 15.

Fire Chief Jeff Parks said Young was nominated by his peers.

According to the recommendation letter, Young comes into work on a day-to-day basis with a positive attitude.

"Lt. Young's attitude is one that makes every firefighter strive to match it, making a very stable and fulfilling work environment," Parks said.

Young shows loyalty every day when he strives to make Dunedin even better, such as teaching firefighters the latest technology or making everyone in the department face masks for them to use, the letter said.

"His commitment to the department and his drive truly are limitless and make us all better every day," the letter said.

He was presented with a plaque and received applause from commissioners and other attendees at the meeting.

"I truly don't deserve this award this year," Young said.

He said especially with the pandemic this year, his fellow firefighters should be getting the recognition, not him.

"They have gone through so much this year," Young said. "It' been hard on all of us."

He also received gifts from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2550.

"We thank you with pride and honor," said Frank Vanore, representing the post.

Young was hired by the city in 2002 and was promoted to lieutenant in 2013. He also received the award in 2005 and 2006.

Dunedin Fire Chief Jeff Parks presents a plaque to Lt. Brandon Young, the city's firefighter of the year, during a ceremony at the City Commission's meeting Dec. 15.

Committee presents environmental awards

DUNEDIN — The Dunedin Committee on Environmental Quality presented awards at the City Commission meeting Dec. 3.

Stone Age Bakery and Cafe, 332 Skinner Blvd., received the 2020 Environmental Advocate Award for small businesses.

"Your commitment to the environment in your use of ocean-friendly products, recycling and plastic reduction is to be commended," said a memo from Natalie Gass, city sustainability program coordinator.

The committee presented the 2020 Environmental Advocate Award for Outstanding Environmental Partner to the Suncoast Sierra Club.

"Your work on helping Dunedin transition to 100 percent renewable energy, preserving Hammock Park and the Causeway and promoting the Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot are to be commended. Your organization does a wonderful job of engaging our citizens as volunteers for your many projects," Gass wrote.

The committee presented Jessica Palenchar, 979 Virginia St., with the 2020 Environmental Advocate Award for outstanding use of the media.

"Your multi-platform 'Sustainability Made Easier' program is educating the public in ways to live a more sustainable life," Gass wrote.

The committee presented the 2020 Environmental Advocate Award for nonprofit businesses to the Salty Soul Foundation of Clearwater.

"Your outstanding work on beach cleanups and your recruitment of volunteers is to be commended," Gass wrote.