|Winston Panton |
Continued from Issue #4, Vol. 17
At a young age, Winston would help his grandfather tend to the various pets. He admired his “grandpa” for making animals feel better. One of his favorite past times was tinkering with electrical equipment, taking them apart and finding out how they worked. The greatest task was always discovering the ways to make the items work once more.
In 1960, Winston successfully completed his studies at the prestigious junior college of Saint John’s College Junior College.
Winston’s expertise and volunteerism was put to good use when Hurricane Hattie made its way to the shores of Belize. In 1961, he was a warden at one of the many hurricane shelters in the city; coincidentally the shelter he helped to man was at the St. John’s College Junior College.
1964 was the first year that Winston would send the daily weather observations to the Weather Office in Jamaica who would then forecast the weather for the country.
In 1972, with the renovations of the Phillip Goldson International Airport, the meteorology department moved into their newly refurbished offices. The met office had also received a weather radar that would allow them to forecast the climate more accurately.
Two years after returning from his studies and internship in Reading, England, Winston Franklin Panton, put his teachings to practice at the threat of imminent Hurricane Carmen. The storm lasted from August 29th to September 10th, 1974 and caused significant damage on the Yucatan Peninsula and in Louisiana. With the help of the new equipment, they were able to track Carmen very well.
New interns at the met office that year included Ramon Frutus and Alberto Fuller who began their meteorological career. They were of great assistance to Winston, and together, along with the rest of colleagues, the Met office grew in knowledge and efficiency.
In 1982, Winston became involved in the developing the beginnings of the Hydrology Unit in the Department of Meteorology.
Working hand in hand with the department, he began to study the various river systems in Belize. Winston studied as much as he could about local hydrology – the study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water throughout the Earth, and thus addresses both the hydrological cycle and water resources.
Winston pursued further education in the field of hydrology and in 1985 received a Master’s Degree in hydrology and hydrological engineering from the Institute of Hydrology and Environmental Engineering in Delft, Holland.
Winston became more and more involved with the Hydrology Department to the point that half of his time would be spent at the Meteorological office and half at the pursuing hydrological studies of Belize. Dedicated, Winston became more knowledgeable about the dynamic processes of water, where it gathers, etc. and producing the river basin maps of Belize that we see today. So instrumental and knowledgeable was he that Winston’s expertise and the hydrology department was required for the feasibility studies for Belize’s first Hydro power plants on the Macal river at Mollejon and Chalillo.
In 1996, Winston retired from government and the public service. He became an environmental consultant with the consulting firm of Miller and Miller where he would help to draft up Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) for new and modified development projects. Through the years, Winston has provided EIA’s for many government and private developments including the sewage lagoon and the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) Subdivision in San Pedro Town as well as the Caye Chapel Golf Course Development. Winston has also interpreted studies for businesses who require EIA’s.
In 2003 Winston followed his love and partner Joy who works for Caye International Bank, to San Pedro. On the island, Winston operates his own businesses from home. He still conducts EIA’s and is an engineering consultant, as well.
In 2005, along with dear friend Jim Diehl, started Panton-Diehl Applied Physics, a “think tank” to help young scientists and commercial entities with their various projects. Through this medium, Winston has engineered new products that will, in the near future, be placed in the market. A couple of the inventions are a rain gauge that is being tested and which he hopes to distribute locally and a whole house filter system that turns tap water into safe drinking water. This filter system will have the capacity of filtering 16,000 gallons of water per cycle. Winston already has a manufacturing company for the filters and after a few alterations they will be up on the market. Some resorts in the Cayo District have already tested them.
With many plans ahead of him, including an ongoing study and analysis of lagoon tidal movements in Ambergris Caye, Winston has acclimatized to the island life. Just recently he has been appointed a member of the Ambergris Caye Local Building Authority. “In the early 1990’s a team, myself included, came to San Pedro to design a plan on how to structurally develop the town. Some of the guidelines [pertaining housing plans as well as environmental management] that we recommended are being used to this day,” he explained.
Living the island life, Winston enjoys fishing, socializing and beach days with his family, including his son Winston (4) on his free time. A loving father (he also has two sons – Robert (27) and Karl (29) – from a previous marriage), environmentally conscious, pro-active in development, and always looking for the betterment of the country, Winston Franklin Panton is an asset to “Our Community.”