MOORE HAVEN — To correct an annoying misspelling these days might be no simple matter, it seems — especially if it’s routinely misrendered online by Google Maps and in Bing searches because of errors in federal maps and documents. It so bothered fifth-grade science teacher Anthony Narehood of LaBelle that he decided to find out how to fix the spelling of M-u-s-e in the official national lexicon so searchers won’t see the incorrect “M-u-c-e” that keeps popping up.
That just won’t do, what with the longtime sparsely populated area drawing more residents these days. The Tourism Development Council’s website, visitglades.org, claims it’s the fastest-growing community in the county, he learned.
Mr. Narehood also is always trying to remind his students at Moore Haven Elementary School how important it is to spell names and all words correctly, so he’s using it as a teaching moment, too.
Mr. Narehood discovered that it takes a petition called a “Domestic Geographic Name Proposal” to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and action by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, after a recommendation by local and state officials.
(Did you even know there’s an official called the “Florida State Names Authority”? Yep. It’s a professor at Florida State University.)
So Mr. Narehood looked into this during the last school semester of 2018 and found out what he had to do. He contacted the USGS by email and advised he was going to file a petition, resulting in a “Case Brief” generated by clerk Julie-Ann Danfora, then approved by M. O’Donnell at the USGS to proceed.
After initiating it, he had to get the endorsement of the local authority, the Glades County Board of Commissioners, which took up the cause at its Feb. 12 meeting, and unanimously agreed with it.
Glades County Board Chairman Tim Stanley told the commissioners, “a teacher from Moore Haven Elementary had found that when you search for Muse on the (Google) website or Maps, some of them spell it M-u-s-e and some of them spell it M-u-c-e, so this is going to correct all the maps, supposedly, so it will be spelled M-u-s-e.”
Commissioner John Ahern noted, “I’ve noticed the same thing over the years in looking at different maps, and this would clarify that.”
Mr. Stanley said he’d spoken with several people at the Muse homeowners association’s meeting the previous night, and they didn’t have any objection. “They liked the ‘M-u-s-e,’ so that’s where we’re at,” he said. Commissioner Donna Storter Long, who represents the area, immediately moved to approve the petition, and Mr. Ahern seconded; the motion passed 5-0.
Interestingly, Mr. Narehood’s petition brought to light another misspelling that’s somewhat older: The USGS Case Brief reveals that the town’s name was originally “a corruption of ‘Meuse’ … which is the name of a river that flows through France, Belgium and the Netherlands; some Belgian families reportedly settled in Glades County east of Muse.” At least that was intentional.
Caloosa Belle reporter/editor Chris Felker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.