Category Archives: Business

355 new jobs with $58K average salaries heading to Lake Mary

MoneyMore than 350 new jobs paying an average wage of nearly $58,000 annually are heading to Seminole County – a short drive south of DeBary.
Superion, a software company, announced a $12 million expansion plan this week in Lake Mary.
The firm, which is getting a publicly financed incentive package worth $355,000, said it would create 355 new jobs in three years.
“The new positions in the areas of product management and support, software development, professional services, finance, sales, marketing, and administration,” the company said in a statement.
Salaries will vary by position and will average $57,829 a year, the company noted.
“Investments in building improvements, machinery, equipment, and leasing will help further extend the company’s expansion commitments,” the company said.

Economic incentives

Superion considered locations in North Carolina and Iowa before picking Lake Mary, said Tim Giuliani, Orlando Economic Partnership president and CEO.
The agency worked with local officials together to land the expansion.
Lake Mary and Seminole County are each chipping in $177,500 for a performance-based, economic-incentive package to Superion.
The company’s location in Lake Mary is at 1000 Business Center Drive.
‘Right decision’
Superion will renovate 87,000 square feet of office space under the agreement. It will retain 215 jobs and create 355 new jobs, county records show.
“Superion has found success already in Lake Mary, and I know they are making the right decision to expand here,” Lake Mary Mayor David Mealor said in a statement. “Lake Mary’s growing IT cluster, coupled with the talent pipeline coming from our local colleges will support Superion’s continued success. We’re proud to have Superion in Lake Mary, and we know their growth helps tell the story of economic development in our city.”
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DeBary gives nod to negotiate with possible fireworks vendor

DeBary is negotiating with a small Ormond Beach company to run the city’s next annual Fourth of July festival.

But if a deal can’t be forged with Festival Designs, city staffers are prepared to manage the party at Gemini Springs, interim City Manager Ron McLemore recently told City Council members.

Ron McLemoreThe event draws 7,000 to 10,000 attendees from across Central Florida.

Festival Designs was the only company to respond by the deadline when DeBary put out feelers for potential vendors online, said Parks and Recreation Director John Fletcher.

Eleven entities downloaded information about DeBary’s event, which was posted on, Fletcher said.

Terms and conditions

On Jan. 17, the City Council authorized McLemore to negotiate with Festival Designs and make a recommendation about whether the city should hire the company.

A contract would have to be approved by the City Council, McLemore said.

“So, as part of this, we will be evaluating them as well as studying and negotiating terms and conditions,” he added.

DeBary entered the market for a party planner after McLemore and some council members expressed concerns about an arrangement with a nonprofit that ran the show annually since 2011.

CPPI ‘handshake’ deal

A DJ’s burst of profanity-laced music just before the fireworks display on July 4, 2017 prompted city officials to take a closer look at their deal with Community Partnership Program Inc. (CPPI).

They realized they had no official agreement with CPPI, even though DeBary contributes thousands for the cost of fireworks, security, and staffing.

Last year, for example, the city’s cost was about $35,000.

McLemore called it a “handshake” deal that left responsibilities unclear and exposed the city to certain liabilities.

‘People like to get involved’

The City Council, in a 4-1 vote, agreed on Nov. 15 to seek proposals from other entities.

Stephen Bacon
Stephen Bacon

Council member Stephen Bacon, who cast the dissenting vote, went along with the recent decision to negotiate with Festival Designs. But he still expressed an interest in having a community-based operator like CPPI.

“People like to get involved,” Bacon said.

Bob Garcia
Bob Garcia

Mayor Bob Garcia’s response:  “It’s not as easy as you think it is, sir,”

Festival Designs said in a letter to DeBary that it is licensed with Volusia County and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Festival Designs pitch

“As a graduating company of the UCF Business Incubator Program in 2013, started by Volusia County, Festival Designs has grown to provide festival and event management services to several regional events,” the letter said. “These include the World Rowing Championships in September, Christmas Tree Experience in November, the Chuck Strauser Candy Cane 5k in December.”

Cathy Pulliam, a 35-year resident and veteran office manager with experience in finance and law,  is the sole member of Festival Designs LLC.

“Scott Chesley is the Director of Operations and will be the primary contact,” the letter added.

Chesley has more than 38 years of festival design, layout, and event management experience and has participated in more than 3,000 festivals and events.

“The purpose of Festival Designs is to create events of any size that exceed the expectations of the attendees and enhance the community, the city and this region,” the letter added.

Festival Designs,

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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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Mom in DeBary theft case must repay doctor $100K, judge says







When she ran a DeBary doctor’s office, Tisha Krutsinger stole more than $100,000 from her boss for such expenses as tanning sessions, plane tickets and a maid for her house, records allege.

Now the former office manager is under orders to repay Dr. Humberto Dominguez at a rate of $1,000 per month.

But Krutsinger, 43, says she can’t afford to pay and is asking for the court to give her a break. She can’t make the payments, citing severe financial hardships and mounting health-care bills.

“I was clearly in the wrong committing this crime, and I know that my behavior was deserving a punishment,” Krutsinger wrote in a letter last month to a Volusia County judge. “I can offer no excuses, but instead state categorically that I am truly very sorry that I broke the law and it will never happen again.”

Her request for leniency and a lower monthly restitution payment was denied.

Tisha Kurtsinger

Circuit Court Judge James R. Clayton sentenced Krutsinger in June,  finding her guilty of grand theft over $100,000.

She entered a no-contest plea.

In July, Clayton put her on community control for 12 months followed by 108 months of probation. He also ordered the $1,000 per month payments to Dominguez.

“This is putting great strain on my family as well as my health,” Krutsinger wrote. “I will have to foreclose on my home, declare bankruptcy and forego any more medical treatment if this continues. At this time I am barely able to feed my family and I am truly concerned and very scared as to the future of myself and my children.”

Dominguez realized there was a problem with his finances after his credit card was declined in May 2014, around the same time Krutsinger was fired.

He later learned Krutsinger had a credit card issued in her name that was linked to the doctor’s business, deputies say.

At the time, the doctor didn’t realize Krutsinger had been charging large sums of money and then paying them with funds from his personal bank account, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman said in 2014.

The doctor confronted her and she admitted making the personal purchases, saying she would repay him. He fired her on May 27 and called the Sheriff’s Office for help.

“Mere minutes after Krutsinger was escorted out of the office, the doctor learned that the mortgage payments on his office building hadn’t been paid for several months and foreclosure proceedings had been initiated,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman said detectives discovered that she issued an extra payroll check to herself and took cash advances on the doctor’s credit card.

She used the money to pay for her cellphone, auto insurance, car repairs, cable, orthodontic bills and a plane trip to Kansas City, deputies allege.

Records show the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office successfully seized the couple’s 2006 GMC Yukon and a 2004 Land Rover because they had both been linked to the crimes.

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TISHA to Judge

DeBary Golf & Country Club lost $6.5K to veteran-charity scammer, deputies say

DeBary Golf &  Country Club lost $6,500 as one of the alleged victims of a man who falsely claimed to be raising money for military veterans, deputies said Friday.

Christopher P. Blake, 46, of Ormond Beach is accused of ripping off supporters of his organization, Second Chance Veterans Foundation, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

Anyone who thinks they were scammed by Blake or has information is urged to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 386-254-1537.

$6,500 check bounced

During an investigation, a detective learned that Blake’s $6,500 check for his Oct. 28 fundraiser at DeBary Golf &  Country Club bounced, said Andrew Gant, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office.

“The manager reported that Blake had about 40 people at the event, each of them paying Blake $100 to play golf and eat lunch,” Gant said in a statement.

The investigation began last week after the Sheriff’s Office got a complaint from a local business that provided Blake signs and banners for a fundraiser but was never paid.

No Harley donated nor displayed

Gant said the detective on the case quickly realized something was up.

“The detective found a promotion for a Memorial Day raffle of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that was said to be donated by Bruce Rossmeyer’s Harley-Davidson and on display at Ace Café in Orlando,” Gant wrote. “However, Rossmeyer’s denied ever donating a Harley, and Ace said no Harley was on display for Blake or his organization.”

The detective went to Blake’s office, where the landlord said Blake had not paid for rent in six months.

Chitwood, Sheriff’s Office not affiliated

The case remains under investigation as other potential victims come forward, some prompted by seeing photos Blake has posted on Facebook featuring himself and various figures, including Sheriff Mike Chitwood. Neither Sheriff Chitwood nor the Sheriff’s Office were affiliated with Blake or his organization.

“The landlord was scheduled to meet with Blake at her office that morning, and she let the detective sit in on the meeting – introducing him to Blake as her friend,” Gant wrote.

At one point, Blake showed the “friend” videos of events like a fundraiser at DeBary Golf and Country Club.

“Blake also told the detective he could buy a raffle ticket for the Harley,” Gant added.

Orange City hotel scammed

The detective also discovered Blake’s tracks at a Holiday Inn in Orange City.

The hotel gave Blake a $100 donation to sponsor his golf tournament.  Blake also asked for four free hotel rooms. He got a discount instead.

“But Blake’s debit card used for payment was ultimately declined, and his bill of $956.30 was never paid,” Gant wrote.

Gerald Riggs lost $2,500

Gant said former NFL running back Gerald Riggs was a victim. Riggs was a celebrity guest at the golf tournament. He received a $2,500 check from Blake that bounced.

The Second Chance Veterans Foundation website is at

“Help U.S. Veterans Keep a home, start a business, create jobs, and to more effectively reintegrate back into society by partnering with the Veteran Entrepreneur Center,” the website said.

Blake was taken to the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach on Friday and held on $10,000 bail.

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Duke Energy wants rate hike for Hurricane Irma

DeBary residents and others across Florida would see their energy charges go up to pay for Hurricane Irma costs under a new Duke Energy plan.

Duke residential customers would get a $5.20 monthly rate hike per 1,000 kilowatt-hour of electricity, assuming a three-year payment plan.

The energy giant wants $381 million in “cost recovery” revenue and an additional $132 million to replenish the utility’s storm reserve account.

“This past hurricane season impacted Florida significantly, from damaging homes and infrastructure to affecting agriculture and tourism. Duke Energy Florida understands the impact this filing has on both our residential and business customers,” Harry Sideris, Duke Energy Florida state president, said in a statement. “We will continue making smart investments to significantly enhance service reliability throughout the year, including during storm season.”

Florida Power & Light, another electric provider in DeBary and elsewhere in Florida, has also proposed an Irma-related surcharge.

Customers will be charged $4 a month per 1,000 kilowatt hours, assuming state regulators approve, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Duke Energy came under heavy fire from local officials for response and communication after the storm passed through.

“I have issues with Duke Energy and how they went about it, ” DeBary Mayor Garcia. “Yes, they need a lot of fixing. Yes, they need to turn around and hire more people.”

Florida Power & Light responded within 48 hours and had 98 percent of customers’ power restored after Hurricane Irma, Garcia said.

“Duke Energy took almost nine to 10 days before they turned around and addressed the issue of power in the city of DeBary,” Garcia said.

Duke Energy said it restored power to more than 75 percent of customers in just three days and 99 percent within eight days.

Duke Energy Florida just filed a petition with the Florida Public Service Commission to recover from an estimated $381 million in costs associated with the company’s response to September’s Hurricane Irma in Florida.

In addition, the company is seeking to recover $132 million to replenish its storm reserve fund for use in responding to future storms.

“The company depleted the remaining $62 million in the reserve fund as part of its Hurricane Irma storm response,” a Duke statement said

“Commercial and industrial customers will see an increase of approximately 2.5 to 6.6 percent, though bills will vary depending on a number of factors,” Duke added

The Florida Public Service Commission will review the proposed initial storm cost recovery surcharge within 60 days.

Duke Energy said “crews and contractors traveled to Florida from as far as Canada to get 1.3 million customers restored as quickly and safely as possible.”

In Florida, more than 12,000 line and field workers replaced approximately 1,800 distribution poles, 140 transmission poles and 1,100 transformers.

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SunRail announces special services on Dec. 28, Jan. 1

SunRail on Wednesday announced special train services on Dec 28 and Jan. 1.

The services are options for Orlando Bowl Game traffic on both days.

The Camping World Bowl will be at Camping World Stadium on Dec. 28. Virginia Tech and Oklahoma State are competing.

Overton’s Citrus Bowl, also at the same stadium, is on Jan. 1.

Special night trains on Dec. 28 will leave from LYNX Central Station at the following times:


  • 9:28 p.m.
  • 10:18 p.m.


  • 8:48 p.m.
  • 9:49 p.m.

SunRail added: “On New Year’s Day, SunRail is offering more than 11 hours of special service, with the first southbound train leaving DeBary at 8 a.m., and the last northbound train leaving Sand Lake Road at 6:15 p.m., arriving in DeBary at 7:18 p.m.”

Check for details at

“This New Year’s Day special service provides a transportation option to those attending the Overton’s Citrus Bowl game featuring Notre Dame vs LSU at Camping World stadium in downtown Orlando,” SunRail noted.

“It also provides a transportation option for those who wish to try the train and tour local sites along the SunRail service area on New Year’s Day,” the agency added.

Shuttle bus service will be available between LYNX Central Station and Camping World Stadium for both athletic events.

Get details at

DeBary’s 2017 top stories: Irma, crime and medical marijuana

Crime, business and city government issues topped DeBary Life’s most popular stories in 2017.

Hurricane Irma

  • Hurricane Irma‘s impact, causing downed power lines and snapping tons of branches in September, also was a top issue for readers of the 4-year-old local news blog. The city’s rapid-response cleanup may end up costing local taxpayers $1 million, though city administrators pledged to get as much money from FEMA as possible.

Business, traffic

Hawthorne Landing makes big news

  • One of the biggest city-government stories this year was the September approval of a 289-unit apartment complex — the first project for DeBary’s transit-oriented development district. Construction on  could begin in spring 2018 with completion set for summer 2019,  said David McDaniel, president of Integra Land Development.  The project,  also called Integra 289 Exchange, is planned on 16 acres southeast of U.S. Highway 17-92 and Dirksen Drive on land commonly known as the Costa property.

Big crime stories

  • The fatal stabbing of Lisa Bresie in her Lantana Drive home and the November arrest of her former boyfriend, Anton Sanders, of Sanford.
  • Christopher Langer


    Also in November, readers on stories about Christopher Langer, who is accused of keeping bomb-making materials and bottles of urine in his parents’ home in Saxon Woods.

  • The arrest of DeBary resident Clay Curtsinger in the fatal shooting of his girlfriend’s ex in Orange County also was a top story.

More big city news

The approval of an ordinance in December allowing medical marijuana dispensaries under certain conditions in DeBary rounded out DeBary Life’s top 10 list.

What was your top DeBary story in 2017?

Share your thoughts here or on Facebook at

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DeBary OKs medical marijuana despite opposition

The DeBary City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance allowing medical marijuana dispensaries under certain limits, despite opposition.

The Council voted 3-1, with Erika Benfield dissenting, on the second and final reading of the ordinance.  Mayor Bob Garcia was absent.

Benfield reiterated many of the same concerns she raised when she cast the lone dissenting vote on the ordinance’s first reading Nov. 1.

She urged her colleagues to “hit pause” on the matter until someone applies for permission to open a dispensary. She raised concerns about the ordinance opening the door to recreational marijuana in the future.  She also said she had safety concern s for children if a dispensary opened near the city’s splash pad, local churches or neighborhoods.

”It’s just too broad,” she said of the ordinance.

Council members Stephen Bacon and Mike Brady said DeBary bush obligated to follow the will of the voters.

”We just can’t get puritanical about it,” Bacon said.

Supporters say Florida residents must have access to the substance, citing voter approval of a constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana in the Sunshine State in 2016.

”We’re not voting on recreational marijuana,” Brady said. “We’re voting on medical marijuana.”

Medical users say the substance is a needed, legitimate and safe medical option for many for pain relief, mental trauma and other conditions.

Opponents worry medical marijuana will serve as a gateway drug, sparking illicit substance abuse and other crimes.

Under the ordinance, dispensaries in DeBary will be allowed in the same commercial and industrial areas where pharmacies are permitted.

Dispensaries wouldn’t be allowed within 500 feet of an elementary school under the proposal.

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DeBary medical marijuana up for 2nd vote

DeBary’s medical-marijuana debate will flare up again this week.

The City Council on Wednesday is set to take a second and final vote on an ordinance allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in DeBary under certain restrictions.

The Council voted 4-1, with Erika Benfield dissenting, on the first reading of the ordinance on Nov. 1.

DeBary medical marijuana debate

The meeting prompted debate from people on both sides of the controversial issue.

Supporters say Florida residents must have access to the substance, citing voter approval of a constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana in the Sunshine State in 2016.

They say it’s a needed, legitimate and safe medical option for many for pain relief, mental trauma and other conditions.

Opponents worry medical marijuana will serve as a gateway drug, sparking illicit substance abuse and other crimes.

Recently,  DeBary resident Gary Crews argued in a letter to the Daytona Beach News-Journal that medical marijuana could lead to recreational marijuana.

Crews said DeBary should follow the leads of Winter Park and Lake Mary and vote against medical marijuana.

Writer: hit ‘pause button’

“If the city of DeBary approves this now and later finds it objectionable, we are stuck,” he wrote. “The marijuana ordinance will be Dec. 6 at DeBary City Hall. The City Council could hit the “pause button” by voting to table the decision until an actual application has been received. ”

Benfield offered a similar argument Nov. 1.

She said dispensary rules are not needed because no one has applied for one in DeBary. Besides, she added, a dispensary already exists a just a short drive away — in Deltona.

However, her colleagues said residents need medical options and they’ve already heard of many, including military veterans, who have to fly to places like Colorado for treatment. Recreational marijuana is legal in that state.

About 50K OK’d for  medical marijuana

Benfield also argued that large companies – not small-town businesses – will benefit from medical marijuana.

Nevertheless, Florida transition to a medical-marijuana state is underway, albeit at a pace too slow for some.

A South Florida grower recently filed suit against Florida because it failed to follow its own rules by issuing 10 new pot-growing permits. Only six have been approved.

Meanwhile, about 50,000 residents in Florida are registered to use medical marijuana, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

The state says Florida has 21 dispensaries.

In DeBary,  legal advisors for the city said the state Legislature has left local governments with limited options.

As proposed, dispensaries in DeBary would be allowed in the same commercial and industrial areas where pharmacies are permitted.

Dispensaries wouldn’t be allowed within 500 feet of an elementary school under the proposal.

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