A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
NOVEMBER 19, 2007
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in a special Department Workshop session, Department of Community Services, on Monday, November 19, 2007, at 9:00 a.m., in Training Room 233, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Jennifer Hill, Vice Chairman; Elaine Renick; and Linda Stewart. Commissioners Welton G. Cadwell, Chairman, and Debbie Stivender were not present. Others present were Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; Cindy Hall, County Manager; Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager; and Susan Boyajan, Deputy Clerk.
Mr. Fletcher Smith, Community Services Director, explained that they had six divisions within the department, with a total of 113 full-time employees and 23 part time employees. He commented that they did a lot of customer service work for people that came to them for assistance. He specified that in the month of October, they received 27,426 phone calls into their offices, excluding the Agricultural Center.
AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION SERVICES
Ms. Deborah Boulware gave an introduction, stating that the Cooperative Extension service in Lake County dated back to about 1917 and was a partnership with the University of Florida, the land grant institution in the State of Florida, and the U. S. Department of Agriculture. She explained that the extension service provided research-based knowledge to individuals, families, businesses, and youth. She also mentioned that this division was one of three under Agricultural Education Services, and the other two were the Horticultural Learning Center and the Soil and Water Conservation division.
Mr. Ryan Atwood, a multi-county fruit crops extension agent, related that he worked primarily with citrus in seven Florida counties, but he was located in Lake County. He stated that they acted as public consultants and visited with growers who requested site visits to provide research based information for the production practices. He explained that the number one priority was diseases, and they were looking at citrus canker and citrus greening, which proposed real threats to the citrus industry. Some of their program areas were also weather watch, which was primarily looking at weather information for freeze protection; pesticide applicator training; best management practices, which dealt with irrigation and fertilization; new variety development; and integrated pest management. He specified that there were approximately 569 citrus growers in Lake County and about 15,200 acres of citrus, and the economic output was about $143 million a year. He also reported that there were 4,225 acres of nursery production area and 279 greenhouses or nurseries in Lake County, and the economic production level was about $207.1 million a year. He believes that they have increased awareness of new pests and diseases for their producers and that their efforts have resulted in the use of less water, fertilizer, and pesticides, promoting a healthy environment and saving money.
Ms. Martha Thomas, Livestock and Natural Resources Agent for the Agricultural Center, stated that the areas that she covered were commercial livestock and that there were approximately 28,000 head of beef cattle and calves in Lake County and about 1500 heads of meat goats. She explained that she worked with the producers to help them increase their operations profitability, which included health issues and improving their genetics or marketing tools to get a better price for their hay or cattle. Another one of her major program areas was pasture and natural resource management for the livestock and horse owners, as well as Bahia grass sod production as a subsidy for the cattle operations. She stated that there were approximately 10,000 acres of pasture that were used for hay production in Lake County, and the most important part of pasture management was knowing what the soils needed and applying the appropriate soil amendment. She related that she teaches producers about best management practices, including saving water and using the right types of fertilizers. She made note of her equine program which included the help, management, and training of horses. She also worked with the 4-H program in connection with youth livestock and educated the children about animal science practices such as feeding and nutrition. She commented that all of the programs were reviewed by program advisory boards, which suggested, reviewed, and critiqued them, and were made up of members that were stakeholders in the Lake County agriculture community.
Mr. Chris Catanzaro, the 4-H Extension agent, stated that in 2006 and 2007, Lake County 4-H had approximately 4,205 youth enrolled in its program, ranging in age from 5 to 18 years old. He reported that they had 256 adult volunteers putting in about 70,000 volunteer hours last year and explained that 4-H was a national youth development organization that focused on assisting youth to become self-directed, productive members of society by hands-on, learn-by-doing approaches and youth-adult partnerships. He pointed out that 4-H was not just an agricultural based group, but it also provided projects on hundreds of topics such as leadership, citizenship, fitness, rocketry, finance, and astronomy. They also had a strong emphasis on community service, such as the Peanut Butter POP program. He commented that their programs had touched the lives of many youths and adults.
Ms. Julie England, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, stated that they provided programming in housing, home environment, health, nutrition, disaster preparedness, financial and resource management, and food safety. She stated that some of the main programs they worked on were SHIP (State Housing Initiatives Partnership) and Affordable Housing by Lake. She was also currently doing programs in osteoporosis, stretching food budgets, basic nutrition programs, and Lake County employee wellness programs.
Mr. Charles Fedunak, the environmental horticulturist in Lake County, explained that he worked with residential horticulture, did the master gardener program, and served as the County division manager for the horticulture learning center. He stated that he did up to 60 programs for residents in a wide range of things, such as best management practices for homeowners. He related that they recruited and trained volunteers to help with the master gardener program, which allowed them to operate a plant clinic every weekday to serve about 60,000 people. They also operated a mobile plant clinic that they took out into the public, which won an award at the 2005 International Master Gardener Conference for community outreach; and they won the NACO Award in 2004 as well.
HORTICULTURAL LEARNING CENTER
Ms. Pam Netherton, the Gardens Manager of the Horticultural Learning Center and Discovery Gardens, explained that there were two part-time people and about 30 master gardener volunteers that worked with her and that the purpose of Discovery Gardens was to educate homeowners about what kinds of plants would grow in their yard and what it would look like in the future. She explained that they also educated youth and served about 2,000 Lake County students per year, including a lot of special needs groups such as hearing and physically impaired and home-schooled children through the horticulture programs which met the Florida Sunshine State Standards. She commented that with their new building, they would be able to expand a lot of those programs. She also noted that many other groups, such as garden clubs, civic groups, boy and girl scouts, and nursing homes, come through their gardens for educational tours. She also mentioned that they even served as a model to other extension offices in other counties.
SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION
Mr. Brad Russ, Soil and Water Conservation District Coordinator, stated that this district worked under the general direction of an elected five member Board of Supervisors to promote and encourage the wise use and management of Lake County’s natural resources. He explained that to accomplish this, they focused on four areas, which were conservation education, water conservation, conservation technical assistance, and conservation program assistance. He further explained that they assisted the USDA natural resources conservation service by helping to promote their cost share programs and that in 2007, $225,000 was brought into the County to help install conservation measures in the form of nutrient and pest management, range management, and irrigation system conversions. He predicted that in 2008, a range of $350,000 to $450,000 was expected to be contracted through the federal cost share programs and reported that in return for the County’s assistance, the USDA natural resources conservation service also provided office space, utilities, phones, computers, and use of a vehicle for their office.
Ms. Cindy Strickland, Resource Conservationist with Lake Soil and Water, stated that their District Board of Supervisors wanted to expand their conservation educational outreach, and she had created an educational program on the subjects of soil and water for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. She specified that since February of 2005, she had given 925 presentations to over 3,000 students, and 157,000 water and soil publications had been distributed to children and teachers. She also noted that she had received over 475 thank you notes and letters and that many teachers had mentioned to her that prior to the creation of their program, there was never any speaker available to them at the elementary school level to speak on the subject of soil. She also related that she coordinated or assisted with several annual events, including the Envirothon, the Speech and Poster Contest, the Tree Giveaway, and the Land Judging Contest. She commented that their Lake County Land Judging team won the State contest last year and went on to represent Lake County at the national contest.
Mr. James Joiner with the Lake County Mobile Irrigation Lab (MIL) explained that in August 2006 the MIL was established through a grant with the Florida Department of Agriculture. He stated that they focused on agriculture irrigation systems in Lake County and provided on site evaluations of irrigation systems as a voluntary non-regulatory free public service. He related that since August 2006, the MIL had performed 47 evaluations and five follow up evaluations on 1600 acres, with a potential water savings of 158 million gallons per year. However, he reported that the actual water savings were 15 million gallons per year and instant water savings had been 18 million gallons per year. Besides performing the work outlined in their contract, they assisted the USDA natural resource conservation service with helping to promote cost share programs they offered while in the field.
Mr. Tony Deaton, Probation Office Director, stated that he believed the probation staff was the department’s greatest asset with virtually over 200 years of experience in criminal justice and many areas of law enforcement, community-based corrections, substance abuse, and mental health.
Ms. Margaret Mize Jones, Senior Probation Officer, stated that their mission was to provide high-quality, cost effective offender supervision and diversion services with public safety as the primary goal. She commented that the staff presentations would relate how their court-ordered misdemeanor and traffic offenders were supervised through probation, diversion services, electronic monitoring, and pre-trial intervention as an alternative to incarceration. She mentioned that their teen court program provided diversion services for their juvenile offenders. She stated that their division promoted a crime-free lifestyle by requiring that all of their offenders be employed or attend school, perform community service, make restitution, attend counseling, and remain substance free as appropriate. She relayed that they utilize over 100 community service sites, work closely with treatment agencies and other probation agencies for the transfer of cases within and outside of Florida, and have self sufficiency programs to achieve their goal. She listed the 2006 and 2007 accomplishments, which were that they supervised over 3200 adult offenders for misdemeanor crimes and defrayed the costs of the division operations to the collection of over $509,000 in supervision and related fees, enforced the collection of over $55,000 in restitution to disburse to crime victims to help compensate them for their losses, coordinated the completion of 23,325 hours of community service, and safely increased the electronically monitored house arrest program by 22 percent from the previous year which saved Lake County $355,000 in incarceration costs. She related that they also provided vehicle immobilization services for offenders convicted of DUI in compliance with the Florida Statutes. She explained that they instituted specialized domestic violence and Spanish speaking caseloads to increase compliance with these populations. She reported that their key action steps for this year included implementing adult literacy programs and a GED satellite site for offenders through the Lake County Library System, community partners, and their volunteers; implementing a driver’s license assistance class to educate offenders about the reinstatement process and consequences of continuing to drive without a license; and improving their records management system, access, and efficiency by implementing electronic document management.
Ms. Christine Carroll, Office Associate, stated that they provided customer service to both their probation staff and probationers and set up the files for every offender placed on probation, including the offender’s photo, contact information, and arrest report. They also obtained both state and national criminal histories on those placed on probation through access to the Florida Crimes Information Center, enabling them to determine whether a person was designated as a violent felony offender, a habitual offender, or a sex offender, as well as whether they had an active warrant in another jurisdiction.
Ms. Kirsten Mabry, who handled the Sex Offender caseload, stated that they currently handled about 40 sex offender cases. She noted that their office was a member of the Lake County Sex Offender taskforce in which they shared information from other law enforcement agencies, resulting in their ability to identify offenders that had moved and had flown below the radar and requiring them to register in this area. She also mentioned that they had been able to identify illegal aliens that had committed serious crimes here and had them deported. They also used reverse number lookup and gave information to local law enforcement on their individuals to assist in apprehending some of the very dangerous offenders.
Ms. Linda Gussler, who handled the Domestic Violence caseload, stressed that victims were not always women. She also related that law enforcement sometimes used pictures to make the determination of whether there was enough cause to take them to court. She reported that they had approximately 200 domestic violence cases at any given time and that their primary goal was for the victim’s safety and for accountability for the domestic violence offenders so that they understood and came to terms with what they did and how to correct their behavior. She stated that regarding customer service, they needed to be available for their clients but they needed to have them accountable for their actions. She told about how she diverted a suicide attempt by one of her clients and commented that during the holidays, many people had a difficult time with domestic violence, alcohol, and drugs, and they needed to make sure they were available for them.
Ms. Tracy Carrasquillo explained that their Pre-Trial Intervention Program (PTI) was a diversion program through the State Attorney’s Office that allowed first time offenders to have an opportunity to have their case dismissed but still be held accountable for the offenses that they had committed. She stated that this was done by the defendant signing a three to twelve month pre-trial intervention contract which outlined the requirements that needed to be completed within that time frame in order for the case to be dismissed. She noted that they initially averaged 20 cases a month, but that they were currently averaging 75 to 80 cases a month. She reported that they had approximately a 95 percent success rate.
Mr. David Diaz, who handled house arrest, immobilization, and Spanish speaking offenders, stated that one of their responsibilities was the electronic monitoring of the equipment for individuals that were placed on house arrest from 30 days to one year, and they ensured that they complied with the court orders and were confined to their homes as they were supposed to be and were following their work schedules. He explained that one of his other responsibilities was the immobilization, which provided for locking of vehicles for a certain time period when required for offenses such as DUI. He was also one of the Spanish speaking officers, and stated that it took a great deal of encouragement and responsibility to help Spanish speaking individuals with obtaining education, community service, treatment facilities, or immigration status issues. He noted that he got between 50 and 100 Spanish-related phone calls per day.
Ms. Stephanie Glass, Teen Court Program Coordinator, explained that the Teen Court Program was for first time juvenile offenders to be held accountable in front of a jury of their peers and that the teen volunteers were the attorneys, the Clerk, the bailiff, and the jury that came up with the sanctions. She related that they took a lot of time during the intake with the family to find the root cause of the crime, such as boredom, supervision needs, mental health issues, substance abuse issues, or associations with the wrong friends and specifically address those issues when working with the defendant. She commented that one of the most gratifying parts of her job was to see some of the hardcore defendants successfully complete the program and change their behavior and attitudes. She further explained that they recruited and trained the volunteers, who got to do things hands on, see how the criminal justice system worked, and do something positive to make a difference in their community. She also commented that the teens responded to their peers much more than they did to the adults. She noted that their program was fortunate to have a dedicated funding source of a $3 fee from traffic tickets and criminal offenses.
CITIZENS SUPPORT SERVICES
COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKER PROGRAM
Ms. Allison Thall, Citizens Support Division Director, opined that she had an amazing team and introduced them. She commented that the Board would be hearing about the sheer volume of activity and involvement that they had with the citizens of Lake County.
Ms. Maria Granado, Community Health Coordinator, stated that their program had just recently started in February and that they have already reached over 1500 individuals with direct services, including outreach, education, information, and referral. She related that they had also trained 14 community health workers in health promotion projects. She reported that soon they would have five staff persons and they had been able to bring in approximately $117,000 in grants and funds.
Ms. Maria Ramirez, KidCare Outreach Coordinator, stated that in the month of September, they assisted 26 families which involved 48 children in just three weeks. She explained that she did outreach by coming out to the community and assisted the families. She noted that they targeted families that did not have access to a computer or transportation, and they worked around their schedule. She served mainly families that had children with no type of health care insurance to provide them with medical and dental insurance once they enrolled in the KidCare Program.
Ms. Leticia Turcios, Early Breast Cancer Detection Project Coordinator, reported that the volunteers reached over 200 women during the months of August through October. She mentioned that they were currently working on Hispanic obesity prevention education and had completed 339 diet and fitness evaluations on several individuals who were interested in making changes in their eating and nutrition habits, which would result in less health problems.
VOLUNTEER LAKE PROGRAM
Ms. Helena Osborne Ponsi, Director of Volunteer LAKE, stated that the VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) Program was created by President Lyndon Johnson under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 and was known as Peace Corp in America. She reported that they received about $40,000 per year for each VISTA, which totaled about $120,000 a year in services for three years. She specified that two VISTA projects were for assistance with homeland security and disaster, as well as empowering faith based and grass roots organizations; and one was to assist in volunteer-based community leadership projects for a target population of low income, senior, rural, and English-as-second-language citizens. She reported that replication and sustainability were the key elements in the indirect services that VISTA provided.
Mr. Tom Osebold, Director of Veterans Services, stated that he expected the amount of VA disability, compensation, and pension payments to exceed $42 million for Lake County from the federal government. He reported that their Leesburg clinic office was doing very well, and they had assisted over 450 clients there this past fiscal year. He also noted that their main office in Tavares had received over 1,600 phone calls this month from people asking about veteran benefits. He related that a lot of veterans who did not think they would quality for benefits did in fact qualify. He opined that it was a very good program and that he appreciated the Board’s support of it.
Ms. Brenda Reynolds, Veterans Services Specialist, explained that she was a liaison for the veterans and their dependents and families. Her duties included administrative services such as assisting veterans applying for disability compensation benefits, death benefits, survivor’s benefits, health care, education, vocational rehabilitation, and life insurance. She opined that what she did was just a small measure of the veterans’ contribution to our country. She also mentioned that they coordinated with community agencies such as Social Security and other federal agencies and County resource agencies such as the United Way. She served as a benefits counselor at the VA clinic in Leesburg with Mr. Osebold on a rotating basis and conducted outreach activities into the homes of disabled veterans. She commented that probably the heaviest workload that they had in their office was for assisted living and nursing home cases for veterans and their dependents. She also conducted speaking engagements in the community.
CHILDREN’S SERVICE COUNCIL
Ms. Rebecca Foley-Kearney, Children’s Services Manager, stated that she was the liaison to all of the agencies that the County funded for children’s programs and that last year they were able to reach over 6,000 at-risk children and were hoping to reach approximately that many this year as well. She also related that she maintained their publications such as the monthly event calendar, the bi-monthly newsletter, and their resource directory which listed all the agencies in Lake County that served children and families. She talked about customer service, specifying that she received over 600 phone calls in October from citizens of Lake County asking for help or information, as well as 20 to 30 e-mails per day from local, state, and national organizations and agencies with information pertaining to children.
Ms. Brenda Quattlebaum, Elder Affairs Manager, informed the Board that in the past year, their division had compiled a directory specifically geared toward senior citizens that has proven to be a valuable tool and that they also began a new outreach program directed to their external customers, by participating in health fairs and symposiums, visiting assisted living facilities, and supporting groups which distributed information to help educate seniors concerning insurance problems and other issues. She related that altogether they had reached over 1,000 seniors with information which helped them live quality lives and remain independent and noted that she had contact with over 675 customers by phone. She mentioned two special projects that she had in progress, which were the County-wide United Way campaign and a Christmas tree to honor servicemen in Lake County who were currently serving and those who had served, which was located in front of the historic courthouse.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 10:30 a.m., Mr. Smith announced that they would recess for five minutes.
HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
AFFORDABLE HOUSING – HOME REPAIR PROGRAM
Mr. Richard Campbell, Administrative Support Program Coordinator, stated that he maintained data bases of expenses for the hurricane housing recovery, State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP), and tornado programs. He reconciled them monthly, researched any discrepancies, and submitted journal entries to correct them. He related that he processed applications for the foreclosure prevention program, which assisted citizens whose homes were in foreclosure by providing them with three months of mortgage payments or $3,000, whichever was smaller. He reviewed applications for new contractors and verified all information by contacting credit and business references and searching data bases such as the Better Business Bureau, Department of Corporations, Department of Professional Regulation, and Lake County Building Department. He also monitored all existing contractors to check that all licenses and insurance certificates were up to date.
Ms. Trudy Blackstone, Community Development Specialist with SHIP, stated that the program was funded through doc stamps and that they rehabilitated or replaced homes owned by low and moderate income households. She specified that this rehabilitation housing assistance came in the form of a deferred payment, zero interest loan of up to $60,000. She further explained that the family made no payments on the loan, which was forgiven and the lien removed after five years if the family still resided in the home and if it was not sold, refinanced with cash out, or used as collateral for a home equity loan. She related that the replacement housing assistance program was also a zero percent interest payment deferred loan of up to $150,000, which covered the demolition of the original structure and construction of a brand new home. She pointed out that they had several programs under the SHIP repair and replacement umbrella, including the original SHIP program, the hurricane housing recovery program, tornado assistance program, and the CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) Program. She stated that they also went out to the applicants’ homes, assisted them in completing the application, and did a thorough inspection of the home and the repairs that were needed. They then went ahead and assisted the family with securing a contractor and the subsequent repair or replacement of their home, as well as lodging, storage of belongings, and inspections of the work being done. She concluded by showing pictures depicting the extreme improvements that these programs had made in the lives of the homeowners, their families, and the community.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING – NEW AND EXISTING HOME PURCHASE PROGRAM
Ms. Melanie Hicks, Community Development Coordinator, stated that she had been working with the program since 1993 and that they partnered with non-profit agencies, who met with the families, made sure the classes were completed, and submitted the applications and documentation to them. Her job was to review those applications to make sure the applicants qualified for their program, prepare the commitment letters to those who were accepted, call the families to come in to sign the proper paperwork, and work with them on the purchase of their home until they closed on it. She also related that just before closing, the closing agent would send her a settlement statement that she reviewed to make sure all the requirements were being met, such as that the amount the lender charged was not more than two percent of the amount of the loan, the fees were what was allowed, the debt to income ratio was acceptable, and that the interest rate was within accepted limits. She also kept track of the recorded mortgage and note and other documents that came after closing, did Satisfactions on any loan that was maturing or paid off, and answered many phone calls that came in to their office.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT PROGRAM
Mr. Bill Gearing, Community Enhancement Coordinator, stated that his major responsibility was the Community Enhancement Area (CEA) Partnership Program and that they had a CEA working group which met monthly to make sure the various projects were getting done. He mentioned that he worked closely with other County departments to resolve issues that came up in some of the communities. He explained that there was an application process to become a CEA, and a review committee reviewed all the applications before they came up with a final recommendation, which would get presented to the Board in June or July. He also mentioned that there were workshops and conferences that the communities could attend to learn how to go through the process. He stated that they entered into agreements with the communities that they chose, worked with those communities on the projects, and made sure all County and federal regulations were met. He stated that he handled a lot of the administration of the CDBG Program and contributed to the yearly action plan and the consolidated plan.
Ms. Barbara Schamel, Project Manager for both public service projects and construction projects, stated that currently they were working with four very good urban partners, which were the Town of Astatula, the Town of Montverde, the City of Lady Lake, and the City of Tavares. She mentioned that Astatula and Montverde put some new playground equipment in their parks, and they did some road resurfacing in Lady Lake. She added that they would use last year and this year’s money for Tavares to improve Summerall Park. She explained that the main objective of the CDBG Program was to improve low income areas. She also related that they had a prescription program run by the Health Department that gave inexpensive prescriptions to very low income people and that they were in the sixth phase of the Lake Katherine Road resurfacing in the Paisley area. She explained that she worked with the urban partners to help them decide what their projects would be; they did a proposal for that; and then they composed and approved the partnership agreements, which then went to the Board for approval. They also received a monthly report that was due on the 10th of every month giving them the progress of the projects, helped with the bidding process, and monitored the programs.
SECTION 8 HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER PROGRAM
Ms. Karen Davis, Senior Housing Intake Specialist, explained that there were two core aspects of the Lake County Section 8 Rental Assistance Program, which were the monthly rental assistance and the HQS (Housing Quality Standards) inspection. She stated that the general HUD regulations were to provide tenant based rental assistance to very low income families on a monthly basis, and the tenants agreed to abide by rules set forth on the housing choice voucher. The tenants complete an annual re-examination, and an inspection is done annually to make sure that they were keeping the properties up to standards. Also, the landlords agree to abide by rules set forth on the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Contract and ensure that the units are safe and habitable; they also are required to report any lease violations to the housing agency. She noted that both parties must abide by the Florida Tenant/Landlord Act to ensure that the tenant did not pay any side agreements. She generated the monthly payments to their finance department that went out to the landlords, which totaled about $250,000 each month, and ran reconciliations. She specified that they assisted about 485 voucher holders every month and that their waiting list currently contained approximately 122 people. She noted that the waiting list was prioritized by preferences, which were in the order of elderly with disabilities; disabled; elderly without disabilities; and chronological order of application date. The tenants were given a full briefing of their program’s expectations and a housing choice voucher to secure their place of residency anywhere within Lake County that was willing to accept their program.
Ms. Frostie Ross, Housing Intake Specialist, presented a brief overview of the Housing Quality Standards (HQS) of the Section 8 Housing Program, which were HUD’s minimum quality standards for tenant based programs which were applied to the building, premises, and unit. She explained that all units must pass an HQS inspection initially and an annual inspection each year afterwards. She stated that there were four different HQS inspections, which were the new move, annual, change of unit, and the special or complaint inspections, which was done when the Housing Agency received a complaint about either the landlord or the tenant. She specified that during the inspections, they inspected the ceiling, walls, paint, electricity, windows, security of the unit, kitchen appliances, sink, tubs, smoke detectors, rodent and vermin control, heating, and plumbing.
Mr. Fletcher Smith commented that Library Services was the largest division within Community Services, with about 51 full-time employees and about 18 part-time employees.
Ms. Wendy Breeden, Library Services Director, stated that they could not present all the information they would like to in the time allowed and would be distributing a handout afterwards. She introduced the two Assistant Directors, Mr. Tom Merchant and Ms. Charlene Smith; all the Branch Managers who were present; and the individuals who would be speaking.
LIBRARY SERVICES TO RURAL AREAS
Mr. Ron Moore, Branch Manager, Paisley County Library, talked about some of the ways they met the needs of the residents of northeast Lake County. He related that one way they served the community was through programming, including pet clinics, hunter education classes, flu shots, antique appraisal fairs, story times, craft times, and a movie book club for upper elementary and middle school students, where students read and discussed a book and were showed the movie that corresponded with that book. He reported that another way they served the people was through their scholarship fund from their very active Friends of the Library group awarded to students who were graduating high school and met the required criteria. They also helped many people through their literacy program and by providing access to computers and other materials. He concluded by stating that they were providing a wonderful library service throughout the entire county and were reaching out to the rural and remote areas.
LIBRARY ASSISTANTS, THE HEART OF THE LIBRARY
Mr. Scott Amey, Senior Library Assistant, East Lake County Library, stated that the circulation desk provided services that people might not be familiar with, such as providing voter registration and tax forms, promoting the Lake County Prescription Discount Card, and directing callers to various County offices. He assisted patrons on the computer with on-line job applications, public assistance programs, and finding schools’ Accelerated Reader lists. He also got to know his patrons to better serve their needs and commented that libraries constantly impacted people’s lives and greatly added to the public’s quality of life.
SERVICES TO CHILDREN AND YOUTH
Ms. Kerri Bottorff, Children’s Librarian, Citrus Ridge County Library, related that they held three story times a week for three different age groups, which were babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, in which they presented stories, songs, and sign language each week using almost all of the seven multiple intelligences put forth by the psychologist Howard Gardner to tie into children’s learning styles. She also noted that they served school-aged children and that they tried to interview each child, find out their likes and dislikes, and match them with a book. She commented that her goal was to make reading an educational and enjoyable experience for the young people, and she thought they were accomplishing that at Citrus Ridge.
E-GOVERNMENT, THE NEW REFERENCE SERVICE
Ms. Caryl Harris, Reference Librarian II, Cooper Memorial Library, informed the Board that the fastest growing area of reference service in their library was helping patrons gain access to e-government services, especially social service applications for such things as food stamps, temporary cash assistance, Medicaid, unemployment compensation, and the State run medical insurance program for children. She pointed out that they needed to make the patrons feel comfortable about asking them for help, to know where those applications resided on the internet, and to help navigate those websites and applications for their patrons. She mentioned that they were currently proctoring tests for 28 students who were taking on-line classes. They also got asked to help find family-related legal forms and tax forms, make appointments for the Office of Immigration and Naturalization, and access jail and prison lists. She predicted that with government and other agencies putting more and more forms and applications on line, this area of reference would continue to grow.
THE NETWORK THAT HOLDS US TOGETHER
Mr. Randy Shappard and Mr. Danny McCullough, Network Technicians, reported that they serviced the library system’s 13 locations throughout the County’s network spanning over 1,000 square miles of area. They commented that their primary mission was to provide uninterrupted service to the library system’s staff and patrons. It was pointed out that during the aftermath of the hurricanes of 2004, the library facilities were some of the few locations that still were able to provide online internet service so that people could fill out registration forms to get help with FEMA, the American Red Cross, and other agencies. They related that they supported over 400 computers spread throughout the County.
LAKE COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM COOPERATIVE MEMBERS
Ms. Stephanie Haimes, Director, W.T. Bland Public Library, stated that the member libraries interacted with the headquarters and the branches on a daily basis and commented that the patrons wanted seamless service of the latest books, DVD’s, audio books, and internet access with the same policies across the board. She recognized the behind the scenes support staff that kept the materials coming, computers working, catalogue updated, and programs presented. She concluded by commenting that it was the synergy of the six member libraries and seven branch libraries, the front line staff, the behind the scene staff, and the support staff at headquarters to provide seamless and uninterrupted services to all the citizens of Lake County.
LAKE COUNTY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
OVERVIEW OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
Mr. Ken Harley, Public Transportation Manager, stated that their main objective was to provide the citizens and visitors of Lake County with safe, dependable, and cost efficient transportation services. He commented that as a result of receiving Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds for fixed route transportation, they had been encumbered with a lot more federal regulations, reporting requirements, and monitoring requirements than they have had in the past years, resulting in an increased work load and the need to hire additional staff to fulfill their responsibilities. He reported that currently they were monitored by at least five different agencies, which were the Federal Transit Administration, Department of Transportation, Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Medicaid, and the Commission of Transportation Disadvantaged. They currently have two providers that assist them with providing transportation services, MV that provided their fixed route and Lynx that provided the South Lake Express and extension of Route 55 on the Hwy 27 corridor. He reported that so far their highest fixed route day was over 600 passengers and their highest month was over 10,000 trips. He also reported that they were providing 603 trips a day for paratransit, but once they started to prioritize trips, there were a lot of citizens they were unable to provide services to.
Mr. Harley noted that national studies showed that over 34,000,000 people used public transportation each work day and that every dollar that was invested in public transportation projects created between $4 and $9 of economic impact. He also pointed out that another significant accomplishment this year was using toll revenue credits and FTA funds as a means to purchase their fixed route vehicles, resulting in the County not having to contribute any funding for that capital expenditure. He stated that their future projects were the Mount Dora circulator which would start next year, weekend service projected to start in 2009, and advertising on buses to minimize expenses. He commented that public transportation was expensive to operate but that they looked at every federal grant that they could receive to offset the cost. He was concerned that when they reached a population of 200,000 in the urbanized area, the FTA dollars they were currently receiving could not be utilized for operational costs any longer.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION FUNDING PARTNERS
Ms. Brenda Likely, Financial Analyst, Public Transportation Division, commented that the leaders of Lake County had set a standard for quality customer service. She reported that her duties as a financial analyst consisted of preparing the annual budget; accounts payable and receivable; reconciling the billings; monitoring p-card transactions; reviewing and approving all requisitions, budget transfers, purchase orders; forecast; trend analysis; cost analysis; revenue analysis; maintaining the inventory on fixed assets; and coordinating the disposal of obsolete vehicles. She also provided Mr. Harley with financial data that he needed to obtain certain grants. She informed the Board about some of their funding partners and explained that the State reimbursed the County for a portion of the costs for non-emergency transport of patients that received Medicaid. She reported that the Agency for Persons with Disabilities also reimbursed the County for transportation services for citizens who were primarily transported to places such as Sunrise ARC for rehabilitation and therapy. They also received several grants to assist with operating costs of the fixed route and paratransit service, Transportation Disadvantaged trips, transportation services to the elderly, and to assist with planning, engineering, design, and evaluation of transit projects and other studies. They also received some funding from nursing homes that paid for special event trips that they provided to them, as well as from regular fares, and co-pays. She concluded by commenting that their team possessed dedication and commitment, were focused on the challenges ahead, and would continue to do their best for the citizens of Lake County.
BILLING AND NTD REPORTING
Ms Kathy Hartenstein, Office Associate III, stated that her function in the Public Transportation Department was customer service, and commented that customer service now had to be superior and that they went the extra mile to help customers. She related that it was often difficult dealing with customers’ communication skills, because some had developmental issues and physical disabilities. She explained that another primary responsibility of her job was med waiver billing, which was a funding source from the State of Florida designed to provide clients with institutional care support so that they could remain at home, and they currently had approximately 70 of those clients that they transported on a monthly basis and had invoiced and received over $327,000 back since April. She was also currently training to take over all the billing functions for the division, including funding sources, Medicaid, Mid-Florida Community Services, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Transportation Disadvantaged, and service development grants. She added that she was also taking over the National Transit Data Base, which was a system of collecting uniform and operational data for fixed route and paratransit services so that the County could receive FTA funds in the amount of about $1.4 million annually.
CONTRACT COMPLIANCE AND MONITORING
Ms. Amy Bradford, Office Associate V, commented that quality customer service was their main focal point in Public Transportation. She related that a customer once stated that transportation services meant so much to them and made a difference between them living or just merely existing. She reported that her duties included answering phones; processing complaints; assisting with preparation and administration of all the grants; helping conduct annual inspections on the operators to make sure they were in compliance with all state, federal, and local regulations; preparing the coordination contracts for eight contractors; assisting in preparation of annual evaluations conducted by FDOT; overseeing the processing of the incident and vehicle damage reports they received from the operators; and preparing the annual operating report. She mentioned that they have conducted mock DUI’s in the past couple of years before graduations, and they had collected 2,122 pounds of food at the Stuff the Bus event that past Saturday in Leesburg and Mount. Dora.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 12:10 p.m.
WELTON CADWELL, CHAIRMAN
NEIL KELLY, CLERK