Editorial: Gigs and garlands

<p>On Sept. 1, Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket booster exploded on the launch pad over in Cape Canaveral. The 22-story rocket blew up while being fueled for during a routine test prior to a mission to carry a $200 million satellite into space. Thankfully no one was injured, but the satellite was destroyed along with the rocket.</p><p>Musk has been a pioneering visionary for space exploration and entrepreneurship. His company, for example, was the first private firm to complete a mission to the International Space Station, and to utilize a recoverable rocket. But Musk’s accomplishments might not have been possible were it not for a gauntlet thrown down on this day 54 years ago.</p><p>On Sept. 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy told an audience at Rice University in Texas that the United States would land a man on the moon and bring him back safely, and do it before the end of the decade. Kennedy recalled the comment of British explorer George Mallory, who when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, replied, “Because it is there.” “Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there,” Kennedy continued. “And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.”</p><p>We landed men on the moon just seven years later, although Kennedy did not live to see it. But his speech provided the space program with focus and purpose that paved the way for Musk and those who will follow.</p><p>GARLAND: The word hero is often tossed around too easily these days, but surely the noun applies to Austin Welch. On Sept. 3, Welch, 18, and his family were fishing along the Peace River, when his sister, Crystal Droze, 11, fell in and got swept away by the current. He and his mother dove in to rescue her. His mom grabbed Crystal, but Austin disappeared and drowned. The Bible assures us that one cannot show greater love than sacrificing his or her own life for someone else. Rest in peace, Austin.</p><p>GARLAND: He didn’t save a life, but Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph sacrificed some of his time and brought great joy to a young man in the process. Rudolph, one of several Seminoles visiting Montford Middle School in Tallahassee in late August, asked sixth-grader Bo Paske if he could eat lunch with him. Bo, who is autistic and sitting alone, as he frequently does, said yes. Rudolph gave Bo a great gift and we applaud him for it.</p><p>GARLAND: We salute Legoland for its salute of first responders. During September, the Winter Haven theme park will give free one-day admission to law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMTs and paramedics. A great honor and well deserved.</p><p>GIG: The city of Lakeland’s human resources department earns a gig for failing to follow state law regarding a hiring preference for military veterans. Air Force veteran Robert Aiken was unemployed and had applied for 19 city jobs, including two openings for a water meter reader. He sought $60,000 a year, at least $20,000 more than the job paid. Although he was the highest-scoring applicant, Aiken never got an interview. City staff felt he was overqualified and instead hired two others, including someone who had no experience as a meter reader. The dispute cost taxpayers $35,000 in legal fees and a $7,500 settlement payment to Aiken. Aiken at least deserved the courtesy of an interview, and if offered the job, likely would have worked at the posted salary.</p><p>GARLAND: For a wise HR decision, we garland Polk State College. After 6-year-old Aryanna Smith was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer and treated, PSC gave her mother, Brianna Sepulveda, a PSC student, a part-time job so Aryanna could qualify for the college’s Kids at College program. That way, Aryanna can take classes in subjects like history and robotics, and be on campus when her mother is.</p>