Waterfront: November 2009

A Beautiful Balloon

Pool serviceman launches weather balloon

4 H 1109 AqWhat hobby have you always wanted to pursue? For one self-employed pool serviceman in San Jose, Calif., launching a weather balloon has been on his mind since watching a PBS special on the subject over a year ago.

Ron Meadows spent a year researching and planning the launch and kicked in the $2,500 needed to make it happen. Once it's up, Meadows plans to track the balloon using two dangling transmitters, which will send coordinates every 60 seconds.

"A million things could go wrong," Meadows told The Mercury News. "What if this thing lands in the California aqueduct and heads to Southern California? Or what if it lands in farmland and the farmer plows over it? You have to be OK with never seeing this thing again."

Meadows and his team will inflate the balloon with helium and watch it rise at an estimated 1,000 feet per minute. They've equipped it with a modified camera engineered to take photos of the horizon every 15 seconds. The balloon's parachute is scheduled to open if it reaches the intended 20 miles in the sky, where it would expand to 31 feet in diameter and burst, sending it drifting down to a waiting Meadows.

Meadows' wife, Julia, refers to him as Inspector Gadget, according to the newspaper. She's gotten used to him staying up late studying, researching, building and making sure he's notified a flight service station so his balloon is not misinterpreted as a ballistic missile.

Meadows' has dubbed this endeavor the "California Near Space Project." Well, in honor of all the space missions before him . . . Godspeed, Mr. Meadows!

Pentair And Red Rock Pools Keep Arizona Energy Efficient

Local country club pool receives first commercial-sized VFD

Obb 1109 AqLa Casa at Encanterra, in Phoenix, is pioneering the use of new energy-efficient pool filtration technology, thanks to Pentair Water Pool and Spa's first commercial-sized variable frequency drive filtration system. Red Rock Pools and Spa recently outfitted the 120,000-gallon pool with Pentair's VFD and expects Encanterra to save thousands of dollars in utility costs each year, in addition to further reducing the development's environmental footprint.

Like residential variable-speed pumps, the Acu Drive XS allows a system to circulate water at much lower rates throughout the day, resulting in increased energy savings. The flow rate on the La Casa pool can be adjusted by up to 45 percent.

"The technology is much more common in residential pools," says Rick Chafey, co-owner of Red Rock Pools and Spa. "But the potential for energy savings is actually much greater in commercial pools, where the pumps are generally required to run 24 hours a day and are much larger than residential pools."

Chafey says the La Casa pool can expect to pay off the cost of the energy-efficient pumps within its first year of operation.

According to Hal Looney, area president of Shea Active Lifestyle Communities, the energy-efcient pool is just one way Encanterra incorporates eco-friendly living into their residents' lifestyles. Satellite-controlled sprinkler systems, recycled insulation, wood from sustainable forests and water-conserving appliances all help in the company reduce its carbon footprint.

Solutions For Change

Watkins gives help to those in need

Oii 1109 AqThis past August, the employees at Watkins Manufacturing, Vista, Calif., went above and beyond, filling the company's hallways with bedding, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items, clothing, food and school supplies, all to be delivered to North County Solutions for Change, an organization dedicated to helping homeless families. Watkins also presented a $15,000 check from Masco Corporation, Watkins' parent company.

"Our company has been an active supporter of Solutions for Change for several years," says Sandra Shuda, vice president of human resources for Watkins. "We appreciate the proactive way they're creating a solution for homeless families in Vista.

"When the Masco Corporation Foundation invited its subsidiaries to apply for grants to help local organizations devoted to ending homelessness and hunger during these tough economic times, we knew immediately who our candidate would be.

"Solutions for Change has a 10-year track record of successfully helping homeless families transition into the community, find work and put their lives back together," adds Shuda.

The Solutions for Change campus is a series of apartments designed to have a community feel, says Solutions co-founder Chris Megison. So far, the organization has helped 542 families.

"The donations and this generous grant from Watkins will help us continue and build on that success," says Megison, whose organization has collected $6.5 million in donations to date.

Kudos to Columbia Spas

The U.S. Commerce Association in Washington, D.C., presented Columbia Spas with its 2009 Best of Jefferson (Oregon) local business award in the plastic or fiberglass hot tub category.

Each year, the USCA recognizes companies that it believes have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. The Association also recognizes these companies because they enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

The organization is funded by local businesses operating in towns across the country. Its purpose is to promote local business through public relations, marketing and advertising.

Underwater Inspiration

Former swimmer brings her talent to the canvas

Odd 1109 AqFor many, graduation from college marks the end of an athletic career. But Jamie Wayman, a former member of the University of Utah swim team, wasn't ready to let go of her passion. Instead, she incorporated it into her life as an artist.

Wayman first began painting underwater images in 2001, stacking canvas on top of canvas, immersing herself in a world surrounded by water.

"To really be good at it takes everything," Wayman told The Salt Lake Tribune. "It has to become part of your life."

At first Wayman wasn't ready to accept being full-time artist, dubbing the lifestyle too exotic. But then something changed and she enrolled in the BFA program in painting, ultimately earning her degree and moving on to having her work on public and private display, as well as being bestowed many honors throughout her academic and professional career.

This fall, the Horne Fine Art Gallery in Salt Lake City opened an exhibition of her newest works, "Making A Splash." Wayman told The Tribune that her work is a visual journey through all that is important to her life. And her new exhibit features nothing but family and friends.

"She has a formed, mature viewpoint almost from the beginning," Karen Horne, owner of the gallery, told the newspaper. "A lot of young artists really struggle to find that."

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