OCTOBER 16, 2003

            The Lake County Board of County Commissioners held the State of the County Address on Thursday, October 16, 2003, at 6:00 p.m., in the rotunda of the Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Welton G. Cadwell, Chairman; Debbie Stivender, Vice Chairman; Jennifer Hill; and Robert A. Pool. Commr. Catherine C. Hanson was not present, due to another commitment. Others present were: Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; William “Bill” Neron, County Manager; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Board of County Commissioner’s Office; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.


            Presenting of the Colors was performed by the Lake County Fire Rescue Honor Guard.


            Commr. Debbie Stivender, Vice Chairman, gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.


            Commr. Welton Cadwell, Chairman, presented opening comments and welcomed those present to the 2003 State of the County Address, at which time he introduced the other members of the Lake County Board of County Commissioners; Mr. Bob McKee, Tax Collector; Honorable Judge Donna Miller; representatives from the Lake County Water Authority; Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager; and Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney. He introduced city officials that were present, as well, and noted that Commr. Catherine Hanson was not present, due to the fact that she was attending a Wekiva River Basin Coordinating Committee Meeting in Altamonte Springs, on behalf of the Board.


            Commr. Cadwell stated that this year’s State of the County Address would be in the form of a video, with the theme “Diversity of Landscape, Lifestyle and Leisure”, which captures the essence of Lake County and shows that it offers something to young and old. It was noted that transportation, infrastructure, and public safety are among the highest priorities of Lake County Government. The video covered the fact that the voter approved one cent sales tax money allowed for countywide resurfacing of numerous roads, improving accessibility to local area residents, and the construction of a new four-laned road, extending from East Ridge High School to South Hancock Road, relieving congestion in that area. The Public Works Department focused its efforts on stormwater drainage and road surface improvements, relieving localized flooding in some areas. Through the use of Community Development Block Grant funding, considerable improvements were made to roads in the Lake Kathryn area of the County. Lake County’s Fire Rescue Division opened two new 24 hour manned fire stations in Astor and the Four Corners area, with advanced life support capabilities, and a new volunteer fire station in Harbor Shores, bringing the number of volunteer fire stations in the County to seven, with 91 active volunteers currently on the roster.

            Lake County has established an Anti-Terrorism Task Force, co-chaired by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and the Division of Emergency Management. The members of the Task Force include Lake Sumter EMS, the County Health Department, Lake County Schools, and countywide law enforcement and fire rescue organizations. During 2003, the quarantine area of the Animal Control facility was expanded to accommodate an additional 40 dogs, thus expanding the facility’s capability to avert health risks, by isolating potentially dangerous animals. The Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus again elevated its activity to above normal levels and, responding to that threat, the Lake County Mosquito and Aquatic Plant Management Department sprayed over 900,000 acres with insecticides.

            The video highlighted the County’s ever expanding trail system, noting that the new South Tav-Lee Trail connects SR 19 to Main Street in Tavares, and the South Lake Trail connects the Clermont campus of Lake-Sumter Community College to Minneola and Clermont. The Tav-Lee Trail, which is expected to open in 2004, will connect the Lake Square Mall to downtown Tavares. The video highlighted the opening of the new Lake Idamere Park, located north of Astatula, and the fact that currently under development is the PEAR Park, located off Hall Road, on the Palatlakaha River, acquired through a long-term lease with the State of Florida. Three new multi-purpose buildings in Umatilla, Paisley, and Montverde provide neighborhood centers for community activities, such as summer recreation programs for youth, as well as week day meals for seniors. Maintaining a responsible environment is essential to the long term quality of life for the County’s residents and monitoring water quality in the County’s lakes is critical. Lake County staff analyzes wastewater from over 100 local wastewater facilities, as well as from drinking water samples, for bacteria and nitrates. Last year the lab received accreditation from the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program. Committees and studies are actively exploring methods of protecting environmentally sensitive lands and maintaining the health of the Wekiva Springshed. The creation of a permanent committee dedicated to environmental land acquisition has been approved and a study has been completed, which identifies a process to preserve the unique characteristics of the Mt. Plymouth/Sorrento areas. The County’s environment will be enhanced in the long run from its expanded landfill capacity and construction of a 1.8 acre infill that utilizes a new composite bottom liner design and leachate collection system, which is being considered for a national award. As development and citizenry expand, Lake County continues to initiate programs to accommodate growth. It is working with all 14 municipalities on the creation of Joint Planning Agreements (JPAs), which will lay the groundwork to better plan for growth, as well as to provide for logical transitions between county and city regulations.

            The County’s Economic Development and Tourism Department creatively explores new ways to bring tourism dollars into Lake County. For those seeking alternative vacations in Florida, Lake County offers activities from horseback riding and canoeing to golf and antiquing. Tourists are encouraged to stop at the Lake County Welcome Center, located on Hwy. 27 in Groveland, for information on interesting sites and activities. The County knows that jobs drive a healthy economy and improve the County’s employment climate; therefore, in 2003, it awarded monetary incentives to six companies who relocated to or expanded within the County, adding 274 new high paying jobs to its residents. The video covered various ways in which the County keeps its citizens informed, from the clowns that utilize the fire prevention safety trailer to teach children how to escape from a smoke filled building and how to create a home escape plan to Discovery Gardens at the Horticultural Learning Center, where residents learn about Florida friendly landscape techniques for their homes. The merger of the Lake County Library System with the Leesburg Public Library System provide citizens with full resource sharing capabilities, including a combined library catalog, Books by Mail service, and interlibrary loans. Library patrons within the County benefit from the recent library system expansion - Cooper Memorial Library in Clermont became a new branch library this year and Marion Basinger Memorial Library in Groveland moved into expanded space, increasing its reading, research, and technology capacity. Property has been purchased in the Four Corners area of south Lake County for the purpose of bringing to reality a unique library concept - a multi-county partnership that will build a facility which will serve citizens in four neighboring counties.

            Technology advances, communications improvements, and proactive policy decisions have paved the way for Lake County services to reach out to its citizens. E-911 telecommunications and cable television programs enable communication among all public safety agencies and the public, thus providing critical public safety services to the County’s citizens and visitors. Lake County offers many services to its population with special needs. Using grant funds, 13 private agencies provided a broad variety of services to over 8,100 children and their families. Grant funds are often used by our non-profit organizations to leverage additional funds from other grantors. During 2003, $197,000 in county funding brought almost $500,000 in matching funds from outside sources to non-profit organizations who assist families with disabilities, families in crisis, and families with health issues. Lake County’s Veterans Services Division assisted local vets in claiming benefits exceeding $1,100,000 from the Veterans Administration. The County’s elected officials and staff will focus on delivering services to the citizens and continue to make Lake County a great place to live, work, and play.


            Commr. Hill announced that the Lake County Women’s Hall of Fame inductee for 2003 was Ms. Priscilla Getchell, a resident of Umatilla, at which time she provided a brief narrative on the accomplishments of Ms. Getchell and presented her with a plaque commemorating her induction into the 2003 Women’s Hall of Fame.

            Commr. Cadwell invited everyone to partake of the refreshments that were being provided by the Eustis High School Culinary Arts students and to socialize.


            There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 6:30 p.m.





                                                                                    WELTON G. CADWELL, CHAIRMAN