DeBary Burger King robber gets 12.5 years in prison

The felon who robbed the DeBary Burger King last year was recently sentenced to more than a decade in prison.

Mathew H. Juan, 33, flashed a gun while robbing two employees at the restaurant at 305 Sunrise Blvd. before noon June 21, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

No one was hurt. The robber ran into the woods.

Minutes later, an Orange City police officer spotted his getaway vehicle – a silver Ford SUV – in the area of Saxon Boulevard and Threadgill Place in Orange City and conducted a traffic stop.

2 witnesses

Deputies responded to the scene with two witnesses who identified Juan as the suspect. Deputies said they think he was homeless.

“Deputies also recovered cash from the wooded area near the Burger King where the SUV had been parked,” the Sheriff’s Office report said. “At the scene of the traffic stop, deputies noticed a piece greenery stuck to the back of the vehicle, as if it had been recently parked amid some brush and vegetation.”

Juan entered no-contest pleas to charges of robbery with a firearm/deadly weapon and false imprisonment.

Volusia County Circuit Judge James R. Clayton recently found him guilty and sentenced him to 12.5 years in state prison.

Clayton on Jan. 12 also declared Juan a habitual violent felon, meaning he’ll have to serve at least 10 years of his sentence.

Violent past

Juan has a violent criminal past, both as a juvenile and an adult, records show.

Records show Juan served more than three years in state prison before he was released in December 2012.

He was adjudicated guilty in Volusia County in 2007 after pleading no contest to charges of aggravated battery and aggravated assault.

Juan was accused of attacking his wife’s brother with a baseball bat in Edgewater.

State prison

He was placed on probation in the 2007 case but was charged the following year for violating his probation for allegedly attacking his wife.

A judge sentenced Juan to five years in prison with credit for 153 days in jail and five years of probation.

He entered the state prison system in March 2009 and left in December 2012.

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DeBary declares emergency for Fort Florida Road

Emergency repairs on the worst sections of Fort Florida Road could be underway as soon as next week after the City Council declared a public emergency Wednesday.

The narrow roadway is crumbling along the edges because of dump-truck traffic, prompting some drivers to swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid going off Fort Florida Road, officials said.

The City Council voted unanimously for the emergency declaration, giving Interim City Manager Ron McLemore the power to waive purchasing policies and make repairs as quickly as possible.

Henin Group’s share

McLemore said the work will cost about $53,000 and Henin Group — the developer of two subdivision expansions – will pay 80 to 90 percent under a road-maintenance agreement with the city.

Dump trucks – possibly ones only approved for construction sites and not traditional roadways – are hauling dirt from Springview and to Riviera Bella, causing heavy damage.

“Those are not street-legal dump trucks,” DeBary resident Howard Gates told City Council members.

He commented on photos provided by another resident showing extremely large trucks on Fort Florida Road – equipment only allowed on construction sites.

City Council member Stephen Bacon said Henin should pay for all of the repairs.

“It’s his trucks that are doing it, especially these,” Bacon said, referring to Henin Group founder Jerome Henin.

Head-on crash threat

Kevin Hare, the city’s construction manager, the roadway is rapidly deteriorating and is a public-safety hazard.

The risk of head-on crashes is increased, he said, because drivers trying to avoid the crumbling edges of roadway are veering into the oppositive travel lane, he said.

Fort Florida RoadDeBary Mayor Bob Garcia said he recently witnessed the dangers.

“I was out there this weekend and I had a vehicle in front of me that hit one of those soft spots and they did lose control,” Garcia said. “It went to the left or right on it.”

Called the worst road in the city, Fort Florida connects U.S. Highway 17-92 to West Highbanks Road, running between two water bodies – the 1,100-acre Konomac Lake and the St. Johns River.

Road failures

Fort Florida Road was paved about eight years ago using temporary asphalt meant to last roughly five to seven years.

Last spring, the City Council approved a quick-fix resurfacing plan for $183,000 for the worst sections of Fort Florida Road.

Ron McLemoreThe work authorized Wednesday will fix other sections, mainly ones between Barwick Road and  Riviera Bella, McLemore said.

“We think we can be at work next week if the weather will be reasonable,” McLemore said. “At 50 degrees and below, you don’t get asphalt. You have to wait until it warms up.”

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Clint Johnson lawsuit settled by DeBary’s insurance company

The city’s insurance company resolved a lawsuit filed against Clint Johnson, meaning City Council members didn’t have to vote on a proposed $2,000 settlement.

Interim City Manager Ron McLemore announced the settlement Wednesday during the City Council meeting.

Additional details were not immediately available.

The agenda originally called for City Council members to vote on a $2,000  settlement to resolve a lawsuit filed by DeBary resident Colette Rowley against then mayor Johnson for an alleged verbal assault in 2015.

Rowley accused Johnson of a verbal assault and slander from an alleged confrontation June 24, 2015 at City Hall.

Rowley’s suit alleged Johnson told her to leave because she spreads lies about him on the internet.

Clint Johnson

As others watched at City Hall,  the suit alleges, Johnson moved close to Rowley while telling her to go away.

The case was set for trial in February.

A majority on the City Council removed Johnson from office in August 2016, saying he violated the charter by telling staffers what to do.

Johnson unsuccessfully challenged his removal by filing a lawsuit against the city.

Details of the alleged conflict between Rowley and Johnson are outlined in the court document below:

Colette Rowley vs Clint Johnson

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DeBary OKs $70,000 for auto-plate readers to fight crime

DeBary City Council members approved $70,000 on Wednesday to help pay for license-plate reading cameras aimed at curbing crime in the River City.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood told council members the devices will help battle a spike in car burglaries and other crimes.

Overall, crime is down in DeBary, Chitwood said. He said the spike is largely a result of criminals from Seminole County.

Tag readers automatically scan plates and immediately trigger alerts when they spot stolen automobiles.

Chitwood originally asked for the money in June. But city council members delayed a decision at the time because of budget concerns.

The Sheriff’s Office used the devices to help make an arrest in Deltona after a boy was captured on video taking a package off a front step.

“The quick arrest would not have happened without modern technology,” Andrew Gant, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman said in a statement earlier Wednesday.

Santana Lindsey, 20, was arrested.  She is accused of driving the kindergartner ran to the front door of the house on Tamerlane Street.

Home security video, detective work and license-plate reader technology led deputies to Lindsey.

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DeBary bust: Coke, pot, mushrooms and ‘monkey face’ pills

Deputies uncovered a diverse hoard of illicit drugs – everything from psychedelic mushrooms to MDMA /ecstasy pills imprinted with monkey face designs – during a recent DeBary bust.

Josh Kuzlik
Josh Kuzlik

Joshua Kuzlik, 32, of DeBary was taken into custody and charged with:

  • making hash oil
  • possession of alprazolam
  • trafficking more than 400 grams of cocaine
  • armed trafficking of MDMA (10-200 grams)
  • possession of schedule I substances
  • possession of marijuana with intent to sell
  • possession of amphetamines

A detective got a tip  on Friday that someone living in a house on
Colomba Road had a large amount of marijuana.

Two detectives knocked on the door at about 8 a.m. Friday. (Jan. 12).

“Detectives with the West Volusia Narcotics Task Force (WVNTF) performed surveillance of the residence and awaited the arrival of an occupant or for an occupant to emerge from the house,” a report said.

A man later identified as Kuzlik pulled into the driveway in a white van at about 2:25 p.m. and opened the garage door.

The detective could smell marijuana when he walked to the van to talk with Kuzlik, who was still sitting in the driver’s seat of the
van using his phone, a  report from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said.

The officer could smell an “overwhelmingly noticeable odor of fresh/raw cannabis emitting from the garage.”

“Kuzlik was informed of the information received and he denied being in possession of any cannabis,” even after the detective said he could smell it.

Two other officers arrived and confirmed the odor. The detectives entered through the garage door to ensure no additional persons or hazards were inside.

“This was done to ensure the integrity of the residence and its contents as well as ensure the safety of law enforcement personnel at the scene while a search warrant was constructed,” the report said.

The officers found a large amount of marijuana and a “hand rolled marijuana cigar.”

After obtaining a search warrant, officers combed the property and found a variety of drugs.

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DeBary Legacy: Let’s party on Sunday at Gemini Springs

When they’re not clearing downed tree limbs for free, DeBary Legacy volunteers like to have fun.

You can celebrate with them and other residents during Sunday’s free Debary Volunteers Give Back Party at Gemini Springs Park.

The gang will gather from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Pavilion 3.

You’re invited.

Bring your appetite, too. Lunch is covered.

Nonna Maria’s Pizzeria is providing slices, said DeBary Legacy founder Bret Douglas.

“Please invite everyone whose life has been touched by a volunteer,” Douglas said online. “This is a chance to say thanks. The people who were blessed can thank the volunteers in person.”

The past few months have been busy for volunteers.

After Hurricane Irma stormed across Florida, Douglas organized helpers to clear debris for free.

Volunteers cleaned up the property occupied by the mother of Vietnam War hero Charles Richard Beall. U.S. Highway 17-92 is named in his honor.

Then helpers cleaned up the home of a Lake Mary woman who had health and other problems so she wouldn’t get in trouble with code enforcement.

After those jobs and others, it’s time to have fun, Douglas said.

For details about the giveback party on Sunday, check the DeBary Legacy page on Facebook.

 

DeBary’s Fort Florida Road: Emergency declaration proposed

City officials are poised to take “decisive action” this week on something Fort Florida Road drivers have known a long time: The road is a mess and a public-safety threat.

Ron McLemore
Ron McLemore

Fort Florida Road  – narrow, crumbling and scarred with potholes – serves the fastest-growing part of DeBary.

Roughly 1,000 homes worth an estimated $300 million are approved but not yet built along the patched together, poorly drained roadway, city records say.

Interim City Manager Ron McLemore is asking the City Council to declare an emergency because of unsafe conditions on some sections of the nearly 5-mile-long road.

Fort Flordia Road threat

The rare move, if approved Wednesday, would allow city officials to waive purchasing policies and authorize McLemore to make repairs as quickly as possible.

“This emergency request is needed at this time to protect the safety of the public utilizing Fort Florida Road,” a city memo to the City Council says. Plans for repairs are already in the pipeline.

“In the interim, the City needs to take decisive action to make repairs to the hazardous sections,” the memo urges.

DeBary’s worst road

How much the manager needs for emergency repairs wasn’t immediately known.

Fort Florida RoadStaffers are getting quotes and should have an estimate at Wednesday’s meeting.

Called the worst road in the city, Fort Florida connects U.S. Highway 17-92 to West Highbanks Road, running between two water bodies – the 1,100-acre Konomac Lake and the St. Johns River.

It’s the only road along that route, serving existing and planned high-end subdivisions, and it links to the SunRail station at the southern end in DeBary’s Transit Oriented Development (TOD) high-value growth zone.

Conditions worsened

Last spring, the City Council approved a quick-fix resurfacing plan for $183,000 for the worst sections of Fort Florida Road. The move came after sections of the road fell apart in places and a vehicle got snagged in a giant pothole.

Conditions have worsened in recent months, DeBary resident Karen Chasez said during a recent City Council meeting.

“There’s a liability to the city from these potholes, which are getting worse,” she said.

She cited construction traffic from expansions at two subdivisions – Riviera Bella and Springview – as well as Florida Power & Light’s work at the utility’s Konomac Lake – as key contributors to the problem.

Developer impact

Matt Boerger, growth management director, told City Council members DeBary staffers are constantly monitoring conditions on Fort Florida Road under a maintenance agreement with developer Jerome Henin.

A 195-home expansion is underway at Springview.

Discussions are also underway for reimbursing the city

Matt Boerger
Matt Boerger

for impacts caused by development on Fort Florida Road, Boerger said.

“We access that almost daily,’ Boerger said.

At a meeting last year, Henin told council members he’s already spent $2.1 million on certain segments of Fort Florida Road to serve Riviera Bella.

“This is a very, very large investment,” Henin said at the time.

Approved, unbuilt homes

The waterfront subdivision, originally approved for 415 single family homes, got the green light from the City Council in 2016 for an additional 293 homes.

That’s a combined total of 708 single-family homes on the east and west sides of Fort Florida Road.

At least two other subdivisions are approved for that area.

Riverbend on the St. Johns River, also known as Estates at River Bend, has 330 acres along the St. Johns River and approved plans for 250 homes.

Fort Florida Commons, owned by DeLand-based Empire Cattle Co., is proposing roughly 700 units on 278 acres south of Fort Florida Road and west of Barwick Road.

That subdivision, supported by landowner representative Steve Costa, is being called an “agrihood” because residents can grow their own vegetables in a community garden.

City-county partnership

Fort Florida Road was paved about eight years ago using temporary asphalt meant to last roughly five to seven years.

The area is flat and the roadway lacks adequate drainage, allowing water to build up and soften the road’s base, undermining the foundation, the City Council was told last year.

The City Council took action earlier this month to fix a half-mile section of Fort Florida Road between U.S. 17-92 and Barwick Road under a unique partnership with Volusia County.

The county provides potable water, sanitary sewer and reclaimed water in DeBary.

Economic incentive

The city and county will equally share the cost of design – $180,000 plus a $40,000 contingency – with DeBary’s share coming from its economic incentive fund, the City Council decided Jan. 3.

Construction costs are estimated at $2 million. The county would cover half of that for utilities, with a combination of city and developer funds paying for the other half, records say.

Normally, the developer picks up all of those costs. But that policy has hampered the development of this area in the past, according to city officials.

The new city and county partnership is intended to expedite development, road improvements and utility upgrades in that area.

“Word of this agreement has already attracted a quality developer to the Costa property located on Ft. Florida Road,”  a city memo said.

Sustainable growth

At the Jan. 3 meeting, Costa praised city and county staffers for developing the cost-sharing agreement.

In the past, potential developers of Fort Florida Commons have been scared away by the upfront infrastructure costs.

Now, with the new agreement in place, Costa expects to worth with a new developer to move the project forward.

“I can tell you that the plans that we’re putting together are going to be phenomenal. It’s going to be something that everybody in the city of DeBary will be proud of,” Costa said. “It is putting the citizens first.”

Mort Culligan
Mort Culligan

DeBary critic Mort Culligan called the partnership a “$110,000 shakedown.”

“It benefits – to a large degree – developers,” he said.

McLemore defended the agreement, saying it would lure the kind of high-end development that would provide long-term and substantial growth of the tax base.

“You can work together to make things happen or you can just let happen what will,” McLemore said. “We’re not after growth. We’re after sustainable growth. We don’t want the low-hanging fruit…”

Ron McLemore
Ron McLemore

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Erin Boyd: Once-missing woman charged in motel abduction lie, cops say

Erin Boyd jail photo
Erin Boyd jail photo

An Orange City woman who went missing this week was arrested for lying about being abducted, deputies say.

Erin Boyd, 31, is accused of two charges related to falsely reporting a crime, according to the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach.

Her boyfriend reported her missing Sunday.  She was found safe and alone at the Chimney Corner Motel in DeLand, according to Andrew Gant, a spokesman for the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

“Initially, Boyd was evasive on the circumstances around her disappearance,” Gant said in a statement.

She pretended to she was being held hostage, even calling 911 while deputies were on the scene, Gant said.

While deputies were on scene at the motel, she called 911 from her room asking for deputies to let her out, as if she was being held against her will.

“She then attempted to report to a deputy on scene that she was intimidated into leaving home and coming to the motel, and that she had been deprived of her phone,” Gant added.

A deputy later found her phone in the motel-room toilet.

“Boyd alleged again Friday that she was imprisoned against her will, and her claim was disproved,” Gant said. “She is being charged with two misdemeanors: making a false report to law enforcement and making a false official statement.”

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Nicole Grebosz named Volusia County Teacher of the Year

Nicole Grebosz, a technology teacher at Citrus Grove Elementary in DeLand, was named Volusia County’s top teacher late Friday.

Grebosz, one of five finalists for Volusia County School’s 2019 Teacher of the Year, took top honors at a gala ceremony attended by roughly 900 at Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanwalk Resort.

In her role at Citrus Grove, she teaches students in kindergarten through fifth grade and serves as a mentor to new technology teachers.

She took the newly created position of technology teacher at Citrus Grove Elementary in 2015.

Grebosz, who earned her bachelor and master degrees from Stetson University, began her teaching career with Volusia County Schools in 2006 at Pine Ridge High in Deltona.

At that school, her alma mater, she taught English/Language Arts and served as the sports science/emergency medical services academy teacher until 2008.

That’s when then became a career and technical education teacher at Pine Ridge. She also taught a web design class part-time for a few months at Florida Virtual School.

Grebosz will be nominated for the state Teacher of the Year competition.

She also gets to drive a  new automobile provided by Craig Conway of Diamond Motors & Marine and Daytona Mitsubishi/Kia.

The FUTURES Foundation for Volusia County Schools hosts the annual event.

The presenting sponsor is Halifax Health, according to Nancy Wait, spokeswoman for the Volusia County School District.

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$1.5M available to upgrade septic systems

Got a crappy septic system? The St. Johns River Water Management District wants to help.

The agency has $1.5 million available to help local governments and utilities to replace septic tanks with more efficient systems within the Volusia Blue, Wekiwa and Silver Springs “springsheds.”

The Volusia Blue springshed, headquartered in Orange City’s Blue Spring State Park, covers 130 square miles and includes parts of five cities in Volusia County, including DeBary.

The program is the latest effort announced to help springs in Florida.

The water district will explain the cost-sharing program at 10 a.m. Jan. 22 at its headquarters in Palatka.

You can link to the meeting remotely via Bhttps://global.gotomeeting.com/join/403433773.

“State funds will cover 50 percent and the district will contribute 25 percent toward a program to replace septic tanks with more efficient systems for the removal of nitrates,” the district said in a news release. “With up to $1.5 million in funding available, this program is targeted for areas where extending sewer lines may not be feasible.”

Contacts:

Project Manager Carol Brown at cgbrown@sjrwmd.com or 386-329-4816.

Project Management Bureau Chief Dale Jenkins at drjenkins@sjrwmd.com or 386-312-2304.

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