NOVEMBER 13, 2007

The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Tuesday, November 13, 2007, at 9:00 a.m., in the Board of County Commissioners’ Meeting Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida, for the 2007 State of the County Address.  Commissioners present at the meeting were: Welton G. Cadwell, Chairman; Jennifer Hill, Vice Chairman; Elaine Renick; Debbie Stivender; and Linda Stewart.  Others present were:  Cindy Hall, County Manager; Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; and Susan Boyajan, Deputy Clerk.


Commr. Welton G. Cadwell, Chairman, Lake County Board of County Commissioners, welcomed those present to the 2007 State of the County Address, stating that the theme for this year’s presentation was “A Picture of Success.”  He commented that Lake County was fortunate to have great constitutional officers, and he introduced Mr. Bob McKee, Tax Collector; Mr. Neil Kelly, Clerk of the Court; Mr. Larry Metz, School Board Chairman; Ms. Cindy Barrow, School Board member; Mayor James Rotella of Eustis; Senator Carey Baker; Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager; Mr. Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager; and the members of the Board of County Commissioners.


Mr. Ken Harley, Public Transportation Manager, gave the Invocation.


Sheriff Gary Borders led the Pledge of Allegiance.


Commr. Jennifer Hill explained that the Lake County Women’s Hall of Fame was created by the Board of County Commissioners in 1995, and 21 women were now enshrined into it.  She announced that the Lake County Women’s Hall of Fame inductees for 2007 were Ms. Antoinette (Minnie) Viti, a volunteer for 43 years at the South Lake Hospital Volunteer Services; and Ms. Barbara Mittermaier, President of the Performing Arts of Lake and Sumter Counties (PALS).  She provided brief narratives on the accomplishments of Ms. Viti and Ms. Mittermaier, who were both presented with plaques commemorating their induction into the 2007 Women’s Hall of Fame.


Commr. Stivender, as the liaison to the Arts and Cultural society, presented the Performing and Visual Arts Awards to the following individuals, giving a brief narrative on the accomplishments of the individuals and the groups they represented:

Ms. Amy Griffin, Executive Director, Leesburg Center for the Arts

Ms. Christina Padgett, Executive Co-Chair for Mount Dora’s Center for the Arts

Ms. Kristin Van Dorn, Executive Director of the Lake Eustis Museum of Art

Ms. Audrey Sanders, Executive Director of the Florida Lakes Symphony Orchestra

Ms. Sue Thomas, Vice President for the Melon Patch Players

Ms. Beverly Steele, Founder of Young Performing Artists

Ms. Elizabeth Drew Scholl, Executive Director of Bay Street Players

Ms. Janice E. Shelton, Executive Director of Moonlight Players

Mr. Robert Acosta, Executive Director of Icehouse Theater

Commr. Stivender noted that Lake County had a new Arts and Cultural Alliance, which included the municipalities, and it had already come up with some great ideas on how to work with the cities and be the facilitator for this venue.


            Commr. Cadwell presented a video presentation and referred everyone to the annual report in the booklet that was handed out.  He pointed out that all of the materials were done in house in what he believed was the best community outreach effort in the State of Florida.

            The video mentioned some of the new projects that were unveiled by various County Departments this year.  One of those was a new team of park rangers from the Parks and Trails Division in December of 2006, who secured and promoted the County’s 37 parks, boat ramps, trails and Blueways and developed educational activities including guided hikes, kayak trips, and bird watching tours.  Also, the Boundless Playground, the construction of the four-mile long South Lake Trail, and the Arnold Brothers recreational facility were all completed in 2007.  With the efforts of the Public Lands Acquisition Advisory Council (PLAAC) working with the County, the County closed on seven properties totaling 1,231 acres in sensitive land in two recognized environmentally-sensitive areas, which were the Green Swamp and the Wekiva River Protection area.  The Department of Facilities Development and Management were working on construction of three major projects, which were the future Cagan Crossings library, the health facility in Umatilla, and a new fire station in the Lake Gem Community.  Also, the Department of Public Works completed several road construction projects in 2007, including repaving CR 48 from US Hwy 27 to SR 19, new construction of Hook Street Phase II from Citrus Tower Blvd. to East Ridge High School, and an extension of Citrus Tower Blvd. from the Hook Street extension to SR 50.  The video commented that the most significant achievement for the department has been finishing the $13.1 million, 2.5-mile long South Clermont connector.

            The County garnered awards in several different departments.  The Flood Plain Determination and Mapping Program earned a National Association of Counties Achievement Award; this program provides property owners with accurate data and allows staff to add or revise a flood plain.  Public Works earned a team award from the Florida Association of County Engineers and Road Superintendents for completing the special assessment project at the Hilltop Sorrento neighborhood, which was done in house for a savings of nearly half a million dollars.  Also, the Department of Information Outreach received five Red Baron Media Awards as well as several printing awards for the Citizen’s Handbook and the County’s new official stationery.

There were other note-worthy accomplishments for the County during 2007, including the introduction by the Building Services Division in 2007 of a software package for building inspectors enabling them to use BlackBerry cell phones to view inspection schedules, research inspection and contractor histories, create new inspections, and instantly submit completed inspections.  Also, the Office of the Lake Soil and Conservation District implemented a mobile irrigation lab that helped about 1100 acres of commercial citrus groves and nurseries conserve water, as well as inspected irrigation systems and recommended enhancements and efficiencies which saved about 18 million gallons of water.  The Department of Economic Growth and Redevelopment helped process job growth incentive applications for three companies, bringing in an additional 121 high-wage jobs to Lake County. Also, the Department of Tourism and Business Relations celebrated the 425,000th visitor to the Lake County Welcome Center, and the LakeXpress began providing service along US Hwy 441 in May, running every hour from the Villages to Eustis and averaging nearly 400 daily passengers.  It was also mentioned that the Department of Environmental Services obtained a State permit modification to the existing active Phase II Landfill, which will provide an additional 168,000 cubic yards of disposal capacity and was working on further future expansion projects.

The County and other partners quickly responded to the tornadoes of February 2 in Lady Lake and Lake Mack, including the conducting of search and rescue operations and setting up the Emergency Operations Center.  While the Department of Public Safety led the disaster response, numerous other County departments assisted with the operation. The Department of Public Safety continues to prepare for future emergencies and had conducted a large disaster multi-agency drill in July with the Sheriff’s Office, Fire Rescue Division, Health Department, Lake Sumter EMS, and Lake County Schools.  Also, the Animal Services Division of the Department of Public Safety opened a spay and neuter clinic this year to assist with pet adoptions, which resulted in a dramatic 70 percent increase in adoptions, and they instituted a new fire evacuation plan to transport livestock and horses out of the path of fires.


There being no further business to be brought to the attention of those present, the State of the County Address was adjourned at 9:45 a.m.





                                                                        WELTON G. CADWELL, CHAIRMAN