Tag Archives: Bob Garcia

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 myvendorlink.com, 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 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 other 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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DeBary mayoral race wide open with Bob Garcia’s departure

Kind words and gratitude followed after Bob Garcia announced his political retirement last week.

But the full impact of his move on DeBary’s election landscape remained unclear this weekend.

Political newcomer Louis Sweet of DeBary-based Sweets PC Consulting launched his campaign for mayor last year and remains the lone announced candidate.

Louis Sweet
Louis Sweet

However, a few other unspecified names are “floating around,” according to DeBary resident Patricia Stevenson, who ran unsuccessfully for Seat 2 in 2016.

Hopefuls should announce soon.

“It shouldn’t be long now that Garcia has bowed out,” Stevenson said.

DeBary City Council member Mike Brady said he has not heard of any other possible candidates but noted that it is a bit early to commit.

Garcia, most recently elected in January 2017, said he will serve the remainder of his term, which expires on Dec. 31.

He previously served from 2009 to 2014.

Mike Brady
Mike Brady

“Bob represented our city very well for many years and he will be missed,” Brady noted. “He is someone I am proud to call my friend.”

Asked if he had heard of any other mayoral hopefuls, DeBary City Council member Stephan Bacon said:  “An organization is

Stephen Bacon
Stephen Bacon

only as good as it’s leadership and at this time I have no prospects in mind that I would endorse for Mayor.”

Candidates have until June to officially qualify, and open seats generally draw multiple competitors.

The next mayor will most certainly play a key role in shaping the future of DeBary.

It’s a city that’s been bruised by small-town political scandals and lawsuits amid unresolved financial challenges and increasingly intense growth pressure from Central Florida.

Some have speculated that former Mayor Clint Johnson – ousted by his colleagues in 2016 – will attempt to retake his seat this year.

Clint JohnsonHe hasn’t responded to messages about his political future.

Two other positions – Seats 3 and 4 – are up for grabs this year.  Phyllis Butlien and  William Sell are running for Seat 4. No one is running for Seat 3 right now.

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DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia: I’m not running again

This year’s election season just took a surprise turn after Mayor Bob Garcia announced his political retirement.

Bob Garcia
Bob Garcia

During Wednesday’ s City Council meeting — the first of the New Year — Garcia revealed he would not seek another term.

“It’s been wonderful serving you,” Garcia said. The move leaves only one officially declared candidate – Louis Sweet — though an open seat will likely draw more hopefuls with months before the election.

Garcia, 67, was most recently elected a year ago, defeating two other challengers for the vacancy created by Clint Johnson’s removal from office.

Johnson was removed after four other City Council members said he violated the charter by trying to direct staffers. Johnson lost an appeal to overturn the decision and return to office.

Garcia said he will serve the remainder of his term, which ends on Dec. 31.

Garcia previously served as mayor from 2009 to 2014.

He resigned effective June 2014 to run an unsuccessful bid for the state House.

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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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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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DeBary’s Stephen Bacon gets lesson about collaboration

Stephen Bacon
Stephen Bacon

Stephen Bacon is off to a rough start.

The new DeBary City Council member’s vision for a multimillion-dollar community center-amphitheater went nowhere.

He’s struggling for two other ideas: 911 callboxes along county trails in DeBary and a citywide safety preparedness drill.

Then Bacon – who joined the council in January – got a lesson about how to get things done on the DeBary City Council.

“If you can convince us, then we can direct the city manager to take action on it,” DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia said during a workshop Wednesday.

Bob Garcia
Bob Garcia

Multimillion-dollar amphitheater

The debate surfaced as council members pondered the fate of interim City Manager Ron McLemore and the process of finding his eventual replacement.

The debate is expected to continue at a meeting next month.

McLemore, 71, indicated he would like to stay for roughly a year, help the city find his replacement and ensure a smooth transition.

But Bacon wanted McLemore gone within six months.

His critical assessment of the veteran government administrator comes less than a month after Bacon outlined a proposal for a community center-amphitheater.

In a 14-page proposal, Bacon described a $16 million facility with 5,000 seats inside and 7,000 more outside on donated land within the “Costa property.”

The project, funded largely with taxpayer-backed bonds, would have cost $25.6 million with interest under Bacon’s proposal.

He proposed a specific designer  — world-renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

Bacon included Calatrava’s designs in his presentation, including the Information, Science and Technology (IST) Building at Florida Polytechnic University.

The $100 million building is in Polk County off Interstate 4.

During a DeBary council meeting Feb. 23, council members  thanked Bacon for his proposal but said the city had more pressing needs, including managing storm-water.

A vastly scaled-back proposal for a community center is already being studied by a task force and city consultants.


Bacon said Wednesday he is frustrated that McLemore isn’t getting results for him on fulfilling his campaign promises and other projects.

For instance, Bacon wanted McLemore’s help to persuade the county to add emergency call boxes on county trails that go through DeBary, including the ones in Gemini Springs Park.

He’s concerned a jogger will have a medical issue and won’t be able to get help.

“One of these days somebody is going to have a heart attack and they won’t be able to locate him,” Bacon said.

McLemore told Bacon he works for the council as a collaborative body and can’t take direction from one member.

That’s one of the issues involved in the high-profile ouster of former mayor Clint Johnson, who was removed from office in August because he allegedly tried to direct city staffers. That power is delegated to the manager under the charter. The council, in turn, directs the manager.

Johnson is suing the city to get his job back, and a decision from a judge is possible as soon as April.

McLemore told Bacon if a majority of other members don’t like his ideas then “they’re going nowhere with me.”

Bacon said McLemore didn’t fully explain the process.

“You should have told me that from Day 1 in January that that was the procedure because I was led to believe from others, other past council people, that by sweet talking you, you would work with me…” Bacon said.

McLemore said he’s ready to work with Bacon, but the council member has to sell his ideas to his colleagues.

“I spent four times the amount of time with you in the last three months than I spent on anybody on this council –  probably five times,” McLemore said. “And I’m willing to do it.”