Category Archives: DeBary News

Hurricane Irma cleanup inspired by Charles Richard Beall

You don’t need to bring gloves or any equipment.

Just show up at 8 a.m. Saturday in the Winn-Dixie parking lot, preferably wearing patriotic-themed clothing,  and prepare for hard work in honor of a local hero.

Hurricane Irma downed trees at a property occupied by the mother of Vietnam War hero Charles Richard Beall. U.S. Highway 17-92 is named in his honor.

Now his mom, 88-year-old Arbutus Beall, and her family need help, according to community activist Bret Douglas, a volunteer who runs the DeBary Legacy page on Facebook.

The DeBary businessman is asking for volunteers to help clear downed trees from her property on Monroe Avenue.

Douglas, a Gulf War-area veteran and horticulturalist, wants the cleanup to be a celebration of  Charles Richard Beall’s life.

Beall was 20 when he was fatally wounded on March 6, 1968 while storming enemy bunkers during the Viet Cong Tet Offensive.

He attacked as snipers shot at an army convoy.

As his platoon tried to rescue the convoy, Beall “rushed the bunkers, one by one, firing into them. Three bunkers were destroyed. He was killed attacking the fourth,” the Orlando Sentinel said in 1996.

That was the year U.S. 17-92 in DeBary was renamed in his honor.

A Beall relative recently reached out to Douglas for help after Irma stormed across Florida.

“I think this is worse than Matthew,” he said, referring to a powerful hurricane in October 2016. Then, as now, the burly man muscled into action.

Douglas, who owns a DeBary landscaping firm called Ironclad Landscape Management, has been highlighted on social media for working hard to help those who need it the most.

The 50-year-old volunteers in DeBary by removing trees, trimming limbs and fixing fences. He said he focuses on helping the elderly, disabled and low-income residents.

Douglas is also building a local ministry with a food bank for the needy.

He says he gets about five to six calls per week from people who need help.

“We answer them all,” Douglas said.

Anyone who wants to help Douglas clean up Arbutus Beall’s property should show up at 8 a.m. in the parking lot of Winn-Dixie at 2 N. Charles R. Beall Blvd.

Douglas will lead volunteers in a prayer and provide directions to the Beall home. He’ll also provide drinks and food. And gloves.

“Just show up,” he added.

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Hurricane Irma: DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia asks for help

As Hurricane Irma neared, DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia this morning urged residents to quickly complete storm preparations and volunteer if possible to help the community.

Garcia made his comments at about 9 a.m. from the parking lot of Genuine Bistro & Lounge at the crossroads of DeBary’s busiest roadways: U.S. Highway 17-92 and Highbanks Road.

He said residents should complete preparations by 5 p.m. today or, if they’re planning to evacuate, they should leave immediately.

His comments were captured by a Facebook user and posted online.

Garcia was flanked by City Commissioner Erika Benfield and workers can be seen in the background completing storm preparations.

Volusia County is facing an increased threat for tornadoes based on the latest track, according to county emergency managers.

They are expecting 8 to 12 inches of rain with some areas
receiving 15 inches.

After the storm passes and conditions are safe, residents should check on their neighbors to make sure they are safe. Garcia urged residents to clean up, but not to put debris near roadways, fire hydrants and utility poles.

He encouraged residents to join him sometime Monday after the storm passes to volunteer with cleanup efforts.

He said he expects to stage at noon Monday near the intersection to coordinate volunteers.

“I need your help,” Garcia said.  “This is not going to be sponsored by the city. This is us coming together as a community.”

Garcia made his comments shortly before a briefing by Volusia County emergency managers and Sheriff Mike Chitwood.

Chitwood said Volusia County will be under a curfew from 9 p.m. Sunday to 9 a.m. Monday.

Volusia County’s Citizens Information Center is answering questions from callers right now. The number is  866-345-0345.

“We do not want people in the water or at the beach today and in the coming days,” the county said in a news release this morning. “Beach officials are flying the double-red flag. After the
storm, please wait [for] an announcement that it is safe to visit the beach. There may be debris in the water and along the shore.”

The county said Florida Power & Light is expected widespread
destruction throughout its service area. More than 16,000 workers from nearly 30 states are responding.
“FPL expects 3.4 million customers may lose power as a result of Irma, and could experience prolonged outages, based on the current forecast,” the county said.

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Teen gang suspect gets 6 years for DeBary shooting

A 15-year-old Sanford gang suspect was sentenced this week to six years in prison for a shooting a DeBary man in a random attack last year.

Thallas “Thump” Inman entered a guilty plea to a charge of attempted murder on Monday, according to Volusia County Courthouse records.

The September shooting in the Parkview Heights subdivision sent the victim to the hospital and left him with a limp. The attack on Pine Springs Drive happened sometime before 5:15 a.m. September 22, 2016.

Inman, who was 14 at the time of the attack, remains held without bond at the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach.

He was also given credit for the 287 days he has already spent behind bars.

The victim, Kirk Thomas, told investigators he was about to leave for work when a vehicle pulled up behind him in the driveway and an armed suspect got out.

Thomas said he charged at the suspect when he realized he was armed.

Thomas later told reporters he was shot three times. He ran to a neighbor’s home and banged on their front door seeking help, according to an arrest report. Neighbors rushed to help.

The suspects drove away, prompting a search and investigation by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

At one point in the investigation, an acquaintance of Inman told investigators that Inman and two other alleged gang members had originally intended to rob a drug dealer, according to an Orlando Sentinel report.

But the drug dealer didn’t show up as planned.

So the suspects decided to find another victim, a report said.

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DeBary officials attend Florida League gathering in Orlando

The kids are back to school. Now it’s class time for Florida leaders — at the World Center Marriott in Orlando.

DeBary officials this week joined scores of other officials from across the Sunshine State for an annual conference hosted by the Florida League of Cities in Orlando.

All but one elected DeBary leader – Mayor Bob Garcia — was scheduled to attend. Interim DeBary Manager Ron McLemore also was scheduled to attend, according to Florida League of Cities spokeswoman Erika Branchcomb.

Interim DeBary Manager Ron McLemore also was scheduled to attend, according to Florida League of Cities spokeswoman Erika Branchcomb.

“Yes, I am in attendance at the Florida League of Cities Conference. I sit on the Transportation & Governmental Relations Committee,” City Council Vice Chair Lita Handy-Peters said in an email to DeBaryLife.

“Attending Ethics class 1st up Sunshine Law #FLCities2017,” City Council member Erika Benfield said on Twitter.

City Council member Mike Brady said the conference is a good learning opportunity.

“I have attended an Ethics and Sunshine Law seminar, a seminar of the City’s Role in the Opioid Epidemic, and plan to attend seminars on Response and Recovery as it relates to FEMA and Insurance Claims, a seminar on Home Rule, a seminar on the Homestead Exemption Legislation recently passed by the state Legislature, and a seminar on City Ballot Initiatives,” Brady said in an email.

“There is also an opportunity to network with elected officials from other municipalities on best practices,” he added.

DeBary’s estimated cost to send the officials to the conference was not available Thursday.

About 1,000 city officials from across Florida attend the annual conference to “share ideas, attend educational workshops and sessions, discuss strategies for Florida’s future, determine League policies, and visit the Municipal Marketplace,” the league’s website said.

The 91st annual conference runs through Saturday.

Twitter feeds on Thursday showed elected and appointed officials attended a discussion during the conference about the nation’s opioid epidemic.

“We knew when we shut down the pill mills, people would move to heroin, ” West Palm Beach-based State Attorney Dave Aronberg is quoted as saying on Dr. Scott Paine‏’s twitter account.

Review the agenda for the conference below:


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Solar Eclipse: Volusia keeping kids in amid sun fears

Eclipse fears will keep many kids indoors Monday afternoon.

Volusia County and other Sunshine State school districts are opting against outdoor activities as the moon’s shadow crosses the United States.

Volusia’s partial eclipse will begin at 1:15 p.m. and last for three hours.

“Due to the dangers associated with viewing the eclipse, all outdoor activities, such as athletics, physical education, extracurriculars and extended-day, will be held indoors beginning at 1:15 p.m. until the eclipse ends at 4:15 p.m,” the school district said in a statement.

Dismissal times are not changing.

Teachers, “administrators and bus operators will remind students to not look directly at the sun when walking or riding home,” the statement added.

“The solar eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime event that I’m sure many of us will want to experience,” Dr. Celeste Philip, Florida’s surgeon general and secretary, said in a statement.  “I look forward to viewing the eclipse safely using approved solar eclipse glasses, and I encourage all of Florida’s residents and visitors to practice caution while driving or walking outdoors during the period of darkness.”

Officials expressed concerns about even the most fleeting of glimpses taken of the sun without protection.

“Extra caution is also urged because afternoon drivers may be distracted, creating additional hazards on the road,” the Volusia County school district said in a statement.

Never look at the “uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun with the naked eye or through an unfiltered camera, telescope, or binoculars,” the statement added.

“Sunglasses or handmade filters are not safe methods for viewing an eclipse and may damage your eyes,” the school district said.

Other school districts, including Seminole, Lake, Orange, and Brevard counties are taking similar precautions:

Web resources:

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Fire on the Bayou Restaurant ignites SW Volusia

They can’t wait for another serving of kick-ass sausage bites. Or gumbo. Or crawfish etouffee.
Satisfied diners at Orange City’s latest eatery, Fire on the Bayou
Restaurant, already want to return.
This American/Cajun/Creole-themed restaurant in the Orange City Town Center on Enterprise Road has a following. It just opened Aug. 1.
“The food is on point, everything was great,” David Pojero wrote in a post on Facebook’s DeBary Proud! “The servers did the best they could given how busy they were. Their prices are a bit higher than I thought it would/should be, but the food was so good.”
The restaurant is at  921 Town Center Drive, Suite 1100, in the Orange City Town Center. That’s on Enterprise Road across from AMF Deltona Lanes.
“We went last night and the food and service was spectacular,”  Lori Coolidge wrote on DeBary Proud! on Facebook. “It’s a shame though it’s so small I kind of felt guilty finishing my meal while people were standing to be seated..”
Another poster,  Howard Gates, it’s probably best for them to start small and grow into the business.
“If they have a good year or two, then they can look to go bigger,” Gates wrote.
  • 921 Town Center Drive, Suite 1100, Orange City, FL
  • @FireontheBayou
  • (386) 218-0771
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Volusia’s Chitwood on back-to-school Monday: ‘Slow down and pay attention’

Slow down. Pay attention. Those are among the messages from local officials in preparation for Monday, the first day of the academic year for public schools in Volusia County.

Your work-week driving routine will change, even if you don’t have kids in the school system.

More than 70 schools are reopening across the county, meaning school zones are returning and thousands of students, parents, teachers, administrators and support staffers are hitting roadways and sidewalks.

Extra deputies will be deployed to enforce traffic laws and ensure students’ safety.

Drivers must slow down in school zones and stop at stop lines when children or crossing guards are in crosswalks, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said.

Avoid school zones if possible. Remain alert. Avoid distractions.


“Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it can’t happen to you,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said in a statement. “The moment you look down at your phone might be the moment an innocent child steps into the road. Don’t make a mistake you have to live with for the rest of your life. All we’re asking you to do is slow down and pay attention.”

Don’t text and drive. The same goes for pedestrians. Distracted people, whether drivers or walkers, are dangerous.

James T. Russell
Volusia County Superintendent of Schools

“Students may think a driver sees them, but if the driver is distracted or the student darts in front of the vehicle, the result can be tragic,” Volusia County School Superintendent Tom Russell said in a statement. “As a community we must be more aware of students traveling to and from school and exercise caution in school zones.”

Other safety reminders include:

  • Deputies are cracking down on speeders and crosswalk violators.
  • The law prohibits passing school buses on undivided roadways if the vehicles are stopped to load or unload children.
  • Drivers don’t have to stop if they are moving in the opposite direction of the bus on a highway divided by a raised barrier or an unpaved median at least five feet wide.
  • Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States
  • Twenty-five percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers occurs during the after-school hours of 3 to 7 p.m.
  • Following the rule s of drop-off/pick-up area are schools
  • Be prepared to stop at all times.

“Be especially careful in areas with parked vehicles on the side of the road. Children crossing between vehicles may be difficult for you to see,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

Check out the Volusia County School District calendar for 2017-2018.

Volusia 2017-18 School Calendar

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Stephen Bacon: Brady’s wrong, ‘I am a statesman’

Stephen Bacon passionately defended himself Thursday – a day after he was slammed by a DeBary City Council colleague in a wide-ranging rebuke for his behavior during public meetings.

DeBary City Council member Mike Brady on Wednesday (Aug. 9) blasted Bacon, calling him a time-wasting, grandstander who wrongly questioned the integrity of Interim City Manager Ron McLemore.

“There wasn’t one item that Mr. Brady stated correctly,”  Bacon said in a 320-word message to DeBaryLife on Thursday.

“The bottom line is that I am not a politician. I am a statesman,”
Bacon declared. “I am interested in improving the quality of life the safety, jobs and the economy in DeBary and keeping DeBary with the lowest tax rate in the County.”

Mike Brady
Mike Brady

At first, Brady chewed out Bacon for his behavior during an Aug. 2 meeting when Bacon questioned an item on the consent agenda, typically a routine part of the meeting.

Trailer issue

Bacon took issue with a measure to dispose of a nearly 7-year-old, worn-out utility trailer originally purchased for less than $2,000, Brady said.

The discussion inappropriately turned into a debate about the function of the consent agenda, Brady said.

Bacon said his questions were justified “because this process was abused in the past with large items that required discussion. As such, this was not about the one insignificant item that was on the agenda.”

Bacon debate

Brady said Bacon’s issues turned what should have been a 30-second item into a six-minute debate.

In all, Brady blamed Bacon for dragging out a meeting for more than three hours, even though it should have been just two-hours long.

Bacon’s behavior since taking office in January came up Wednesday under an agenda item called Discussion of Council Decorum. and it covered more than just the Aug. 2 meeting.

Dam safety

At one point, Brady slammed Bacon for his questions about the dam encircling the roughly 1,100-acre Konomac Lake in south DeBary.

Bacon said he simply brought up a resident’s concerns about the dam, which holds back 3 billion gallons used to cool water from Florida Power & Light’s power plant on the St. Johns River.

“The safety issue of the banks in Konomac was brought up by a complaint from a resident seeing emergency repairs in December 2016, when I was a candidate,” Bacon said. “Yes, the banks leak and they have maintenance issues 24/7. ”

DeBary Konomac Lake
DeBary Konomac Lake

A power-company official during a DeBary City Council meeting in December acknowledged leaks, though he insisted there was no danger, there never has been and the property is monitored constantly and everything is approved by all regulatory agencies.

Asked whether earthen dams leak, FPL’s regional manager Larry Volenec said: “That’s why there is a drain at the toe of the dam because there is slight seepage and that water is taken and put right back into it.”

Bacon said that’s a problem.

“At first, FP&L admitted nothing and then the truth came out,” Bacon said Thursday. “Is it an issue? You bet because there will be a thousand homes on the West side of that Lake” adding that the lake “contains enough water to wipe out all the homes should the bank give way.”

At the December meeting, Volenec noted that employees are on staff to ensure the safety of what he called a “cooling pond,” a man-made lake built in the 1970s.

The dam is inspected on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually and annual basis, Volenec added.

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Stephen Bacon rebuked for ‘grandstanding,’ delaying DeBary meetings

It was a routine matter — a vote to dump an old utility trailer. But it turned into a big mess, according to DeBary City Council member Mike Brady.

He blamed fellow council member Stephen Bacon.

Brady on Wednesday  (Aug. 9) rebuked Bacon for his behavior during a meeting a week earlier and during previous meetings since joining the DeBary City Council in January.

He blamed Bacon for extending what should have been a two-hour meeting on Aug. 2 by more than an hour.

Stephen Bacon
Stephen Bacon
Mike Brady
Mike Brady

“When I left the house last Wednesday, I thought the meeting would last no more than two hours,” Brady said. “After the meeting, I spoke to Councilwoman (Erika) Benfield. She said she thought, you know, maybe an hour and a half.  We’ll, we were both wrong.”

The Aug. 2 meeting clocked in at 3 hours, 10 minutes, Brady said.

Brady said Bacon also wrongly called into question the integrity of Interim City Manager Ron McLemore. Bacon’s statement that McLemore was trying to slip items onto the agenda for council approval made no sense. It’s McLemore’s job to prepare the agenda and he’ll answer council members’ questions before votes are taken.

Brady called Bacon’s allegation against McLemore “nonsensical.”

At issue was a routine request on the so-called “consent agenda,” which typically includes low-interest matters that don’t normally generate controversy. At one point, Bacon tried to steer the discussion into a debate over the role of consent agenda, a move that violated meeting procedures, Brady said.

“I repeat. The item was very routine. It concerned the disposal of a utility trailer purchased 6 1/2 years ago for less than $2,000,” Brady said.  “So how did we end up spending over six minutes on the item? Because, in my opinion, decorum and procedure were not followed, individual agendas won out and egos were not checked at the door.”

Bacon couldn’t be immediately reached for comment after Wednesday’s workshop.  His behavior came up under an agenda item called  Discussion of Council Decorum and it covered more than just the Aug. 2 meeting.

In all, Bacon was blasted for proposing an amphitheater-community center a few months ago at the same time a city task force was already studying a community center.

Brady also slammed Bacon for questioning the safety of a dam encircling the roughly 1,100-acre Konomac Lake in south DeBary.

The lake, part of the cooling system for Florida Power & Light’s power plant near the St. Johns River, and dam are safe, a company official told council members. They’ve never had any problems, the official noted.

Brady said those instances and others were examples of Bacon’s “grandstanding” and wasting time.

DeBary Mayor Bob Garia took responsibility for allowing the meetings under his guidance to move off topic and he pledged to do a better job in the future.

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TeleTech: 600 jobs heading to Volusia in 3 years

A ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday will mark the grand opening of TeleTech’s new Daytona Beach location, where 600 jobs are planned over three years.

Volusia County beat out four other locations vying for the “customer experience” provider’s new location, according to county economic-development boosters.

The Englewood, Colorado-based company has already invested $5 million for the expansion, which is expected to bring an annual payroll of more than $20 million.

The company has 48,000 employees worldwide, including roughly 1,000 workers at two locations in Brevard County:  Melbourne and Rockledge, according to the Orlando Business Journal.

The company, founded in 1982, recorded $1.24 billion in annual revenue in 2014.

Team Volusia Economic Development Corp. landed TeleTech by beating out competitors in Mobile, Alabama and three cities in Texas, according to Volusia County.

TeleTech moved into space previously occupied by insulation company TopBuild Corp.

“TeleTech has entered a long-term lease for 43,000 square feet of space, with an additional 20,000 square feet of space for future expansion, in the building formerly occupied by TopBuild,” Volusia County said in a statement.

“Due to our aggressive promotion of the former TopBuild Corp. Corporate Headquarters to site selectors and brokers throughout the United States, the space became highly sought after,” Keith Norden, president and CEO of Team Volusia, said in a statement.

He said recruiting TeleTech involved a “number of community partners,” including:

  • Volusia County Government
  • Enterprise Florida
  • The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
  • CareerSource Flagler Volusia
  • Daytona State College among others.

“Special thanks go out to Mr. Dick McNerney with Adams Cameron who represented the Fisher Family, owners of the building, and negotiated the lease,” Norden said.

TeleTech is eligible to earn a tax refund of up to $180,000 for job creation. The state would pay 80 percent with the county covering the balance.

TeleTech qualifies for the incentive because at least 60 employees will earn more than $41,288, or 115 percent of this year’s average wage.

Volusia County Council members, other local dignitaries, and business leaders will gather celebrate at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8, at 260 Jimmy Ann Drive, Daytona Beach, for the ribbon cutting.

Grand-opening career fairs will be held at this location from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 9, and Thursday, Aug. 10.

“TeleTech is actively hiring licensed health and life insurance agents and customer experience representatives interested in obtaining their insurance license, and other administrative and management positions,” a statement said. “For employment information, visit”