Business

Wed
08
Nov

DeLand Chamber searches for new leader

DEPARTED LEADER — Lacey Ekberg, who was hired as the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce’s executive director this past January, has resigned to handle family business matters after her father, brother and another relative died this year. A search for her replacement has not yet begun.

DEPARTED LEADER — Lacey Ekberg, who was hired as the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce’s executive director this past January, has resigned to handle family business matters after her father, brother and another relative died this year. A search for her replacement has not yet begun.

BEACON FILE PHOTO/COURTESY LACEY EKBERG

Ten months after landing what was thought to be its leader well into the future, the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce is once again searching for a new executive director.

Lacey Ekberg, who started Jan. 3 following a six-month search, has quit so she can focus on family business issues spawned by several deaths in her family, said Susie Dolan, this year’s Chamber president.

“She had several deaths in her family over the last year, [including] her father, a brother and a sister-in-law,” Dolan said. “She’s been having to go back and forth between here and Texas and Idaho,” where the family businesses are.

With all the traveling, Ekberg apparently found it difficult to focus and felt she had to be with her remaining family to help run the businesses, Dolan said.

“We’re definitely disappointed,” she said. “We were so excited when she was hired, and she was, too.”

Ekberg’s last day on the job was Oct. 27. Efforts to reach her were unsuccessful.

Wed
01
Nov

Morgan & Morgan sets up shop in DeLand

BRANDED BUILDING — Orlando-based Morgan & Morgan, which recently opened its 41st office in DeLand, has emblazoned the firm’s name on two sides of the New York Plaza office building Downtown. The office is in Suite 315.

BRANDED BUILDING — Orlando-based Morgan & Morgan, which recently opened its 41st office in DeLand, has emblazoned the firm’s name on two sides of the New York Plaza office building Downtown. The office is in Suite 315.

BEACON PHOTO/JOE CREWS

ATTORNEY IN RESIDENCE — Martin Jaffe, left, is the attorney who will be working in Morgan & Morgan’s DeLand office in the New York Plaza office building. He is shown with Wayne Carter, executive director of the MainStreet DeLand Association, during the law firm’s open house to showcase its new office.

ATTORNEY IN RESIDENCE — Martin Jaffe, left, is the attorney who will be working in Morgan & Morgan’s DeLand office in the New York Plaza office building. He is shown with Wayne Carter, executive director of the MainStreet DeLand Association, during the law firm’s open house to showcase its new office.

BEACON PHOTO/JAN GIROUX

John Morgan, founder of Morgan & Morgan

John Morgan, founder of Morgan & Morgan

BEACON PHOTO/JOE CREWS

A number of prominent law firms headquartered in Daytona Beach or Orlando have satellite offices in DeLand or elsewhere in West Volusia. But none of them has emblazoned the firm’s name on a high-rise building.

Until now.

Morgan & Morgan, a personal-injury law firm based in Orlando, has opened an office on the third floor of New York Plaza at 100 E. New York Ave., which for many years was known as the Dreka Building. The building is on the southeast corner of New York Avenue and Woodland Boulevard.

Eighteen-inch-tall letters spell out the firm’s name between the second and third floors on the sides of the building facing both major thoroughfares. The lettering went up in mid-September, according to Michael J. Smith, a partner and attorney in the firm’s Tavares office who oversees Morgan & Morgan’s expansions outside of Orlando.

The cost of the naming rights was rolled into the lease, Smith said, and was not a separate expenditure.

Wed
01
Nov

Construction starts on DeLand Sport Aviation Village

BREAKING GROUND — DeLand’s city manager and all five city commissioners were joined by airport officials in ceremonially breaking ground Oct. 30 for the Sport Aviation Village on the DeLand Municipal Airport. The village will be a year-round commerce center for everything related to sport aviation.

BREAKING GROUND — DeLand’s city manager and all five city commissioners were joined by airport officials in ceremonially breaking ground Oct. 30 for the Sport Aviation Village on the DeLand Municipal Airport. The village will be a year-round commerce center for everything related to sport aviation.

BEACON PHOTO/JOE CREWS

THE LAYOUT — This drawing shows the different phases in which the Sport Aviation Village complex will be built. Phase 1A and Phase 1B, shown in blue and purple, respectively, will likely be built simultaneously. Phases 2 and 3, shown in green and orange, respectively, are to the north.

THE LAYOUT — This drawing shows the different phases in which the Sport Aviation Village complex will be built. Phase 1A and Phase 1B, shown in blue and purple, respectively, will likely be built simultaneously. Phases 2 and 3, shown in green and orange, respectively, are to the north.

IMAGE COURTESY CITY OF DELAND

DeLand Municipal Airport has long been known worldwide as a skydiving mecca. But in recent years, airport officials have embarked on a mission to also become known as a center for sport aviation.

To that end, city and airport officials broke ground this week for the airport’s Sport Aviation Village, a 40-acre commerce center on the east side of the airport property that will  cater to recreational-aircraft manufacturers, dealers, suppliers and owners.

“This will hopefully provide one-stop shopping … for everything someone in sport aviation could want or need,” said Mayor Bob Apgar before he and other city officials turned shovelfuls of dirt. “Sport aviation is compatible with other sorts of aviation, and we’re very pleased and proud of this project. It’s very cutting-edge for our community.”

Wed
25
Oct

DeLand’s aviation showcase takes off in sophomore year

’ROUND THE WORLD? — DeLand Municipal Airport’s Jana Filip, not a large person, is crammed into the small sport-aviation plane that recently completed a round-the-world record flight and will be on display by TOMI Aircraft owner Tad Olmsted at the Sport Aviation Showcase at the airport.

’ROUND THE WORLD? — DeLand Municipal Airport’s Jana Filip, not a large person, is crammed into the small sport-aviation plane that recently completed a round-the-world record flight and will be on display by TOMI Aircraft owner Tad Olmsted at the Sport Aviation Showcase at the airport.

BEACON PHOTOS/RICK BUTLER

CUTTING-EDGE ENGINE — Tad Olmsted, owner of TOMI Aircraft on the DeLand Municipal Airport, shows off the latest fuel-injected Rotax engine to Jana Filip, the airport’s sport-aviation administrator. This engine is in a Slovenian-made aircraft shipped to TOMI for assembly, testing and FAA certification. Olmsted’s company is one of the few in the nation qualified for such work, including full diagnostics on the Rotax sport-aviation engine.

CUTTING-EDGE ENGINE — Tad Olmsted, owner of TOMI Aircraft on the DeLand Municipal Airport, shows off the latest fuel-injected Rotax engine to Jana Filip, the airport’s sport-aviation administrator. This engine is in a Slovenian-made aircraft shipped to TOMI for assembly, testing and FAA certification. Olmsted’s company is one of the few in the nation qualified for such work, including full diagnostics on the Rotax sport-aviation engine.

In only its second year, DeLand’s Sport Aviation Showcase is becoming an international drawing card for small sport-flying manufacturers and buyers.

The sport-aviation world is light private planes, ultralights, flying trikes, rotorcraft, powered parachutes, avionics, pilot gear, flight schools, and companies offering products and services to those who fly for fun.

More than 6,000 people are expected on the DeLand Municipal Airport Thursday, Nov. 2, through Saturday, Nov. 4, to inspect more than 100 aircraft, watch a Showcase Flight demonstration at noon each day, and hear a parade of expert speakers.

Flying will take place nearly continuously all three days, expected to top the 1,000 flight operations recorded last year. Because of the frequency of demonstration flights, a commercially operated temporary tower will control flying during this event.

Wed
25
Oct

Walmart readies for DeLand store opening

COMING IN EARLY 2018 — A Walmart Neighborhood Market taking shape on South Woodland Boulevard in DeLand is expected to open next January.

COMING IN EARLY 2018 — A Walmart Neighborhood Market taking shape on South Woodland Boulevard in DeLand is expected to open next January.

BEACON PHOTOS/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

SAVING THE TREE — This is the massive oak tree in the South Woodland Boulevard median that will be the centerpiece of a traffic roundabout at the entrance to a new DeLand Walmart Neighborhood Market, under construction to the left of this photo.

SAVING THE TREE — This is the massive oak tree in the South Woodland Boulevard median that will be the centerpiece of a traffic roundabout at the entrance to a new DeLand Walmart Neighborhood Market, under construction to the left of this photo.

STORE MANAGEMENT — Matt Williams, left, and Jose Oliveras are the assistant store manager and store manager, respectively, for the DeLand Walmart Neighborhood Market that is expected to open in January.

STORE MANAGEMENT — Matt Williams, left, and Jose Oliveras are the assistant store manager and store manager, respectively, for the DeLand Walmart Neighborhood Market that is expected to open in January.

The No. 1 company on the Fortune 500 list is now seeking 95 workers for the DeLand store it intends to open shortly after the start of the new year.

While construction of the Walmart Neighborhood Market continues on the old flea-market grounds along South Woodland Boulevard, the retailer has set up an application and hiring center in the Cedar Ridge Pointe shopping center at 2235 S. Woodland Blvd., Suite 103.

“We need people to apply. We’re looking for everything from stocking to cashiers to hourly supervisors,” Matt Williams, the assistant manager of the DeLand Neighborhood Market, told The Beacon.

The DeLand Neighborhood Market is scheduled to open in January. The exact date will be announced later.

Wed
18
Oct

River-to-Sea trail could be economic driver for several counties

St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop Alliance

St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop Alliance

Jim Wood

Jim Wood

A paved trail for bicyclists and hikers circling through Volusia and four other East Florida counties could bring economic benefits to the communities along its 260-mile length, according to Jim Wood, a chief planner for the Florida Department of Transportation.

“Trails are not only meeting the needs of residents and surrounding businesses, but they’re also a draw for biking visitors,” Wood told The Beacon. “That’s why projects like The Loop are so important — they take on a whole new level of interest.”

The St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop, or SJR2C, encompasses Volusia, Flagler, Brevard, St. Johns and Putnam counties, and incorporates inland communities such as Deltona, DeLand, DeLeon Springs, Crescent City and Palatka.

Wed
11
Oct

Hugh Ash Manor joins Westminster family

UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP — Westminster Communities of Florida recently bought Hugh Ash Manor, shown here at 740 N. Woodland Blvd. in DeLand, for an undisclosed sum. Westminster had been managing the affordable-living community for seniors since 2015.

UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP — Westminster Communities of Florida recently bought Hugh Ash Manor, shown here at 740 N. Woodland Blvd. in DeLand, for an undisclosed sum. Westminster had been managing the affordable-living community for seniors since 2015.

BEACON PHOTO/JOE CREWS

Westminster Communities of Florida and the Hugh Ash Manor board of directors have announced that Hugh Ash Manor, an affordable senior-living community in DeLand, is now part of the Westminster family.

The sale, which has been approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, preserves Hugh Ash Manor’s mission of service to low-income seniors. The seven-story, 150-apartment community at 740 N. Woodland Blvd. will continue to honor all residents’ leases and provide employment to current employees, according to a news release.

Hugh Ash Manor has been a ministry of next-door neighbor First Presbyterian Church of DeLand since 1971. The community is dedicated to fulfilling the physical, social, spiritual and recreational needs of its residents. It has been managed by Westminster since 2015, company officials said.

Wed
11
Oct

Wildlife park showcases reptiles of all sorts

GATOR TRAINING — Nathan Sweeting works with Trapper, a nearly 13-foot American alligator, at Smooth Waters Wildlife Park. Sweeting says he’s training Trapper to pose and react to commands.

GATOR TRAINING — Nathan Sweeting works with Trapper, a nearly 13-foot American alligator, at Smooth Waters Wildlife Park. Sweeting says he’s training Trapper to pose and react to commands.

BEACON PHOTOS/JOE CREWS

NICE TORTOISE! GOOD BOY! — Katie Durborow scratches the head of Bertram, an African spurred tortoise at Smooth Waters Wildlife Park. Spurred tortoises are endangered, and the only tortoise species that guards its eggs after they’re laid.

NICE TORTOISE! GOOD BOY! — Katie Durborow scratches the head of Bertram, an African spurred tortoise at Smooth Waters Wildlife Park. Spurred tortoises are endangered, and the only tortoise species that guards its eggs after they’re laid.

Wildlife managers — Katie Durborow and Nathan Sweeting own and manage Smooth Waters Wildlife Park in DeLeon Springs.

Wildlife managers — Katie Durborow and Nathan Sweeting own and manage Smooth Waters Wildlife Park in DeLeon Springs.

Hidden among the trees in the middle of DeLeon Springs sits a small wildlife park that gives kids and adults a chance to learn more about alligators, snakes, land tortoises and other scaly critters.

Smooth Waters Wildlife Park is at the end of a dirt lane off Reynolds Road. It’s owned and run by the husband-and-wife team of Nathan Sweeting and Katie Durborow, who about a year ago took over an overgrown and abandoned property where reptiles had been collected but never shown to the public.

After months of clearing, cleaning, repairing and restocking with animals — the previous menagerie had been given away, not abandoned — the couple opened the park to the public about four months ago.

“The park will always be reptile-heavy, but maybe next year we’ll get into mammals and birds,” Sweeting told a recent visitor.

Wed
04
Oct

Wells Fargo closes its DeLeon Springs branch

FORMER TENANT — Wells Fargo was still open in DeLeon Springs when this photo was taken recently. The property now is for sale, along with an adjacent property to the left in this photo that has a vacant training center on it.

FORMER TENANT — Wells Fargo was still open in DeLeon Springs when this photo was taken recently. The property now is for sale, along with an adjacent property to the left in this photo that has a vacant training center on it.

BEACON PHOTO/JOE CREWS

Another bank has closed a branch office in West Volusia.

The Wells Fargo branch at 5065 U.S. Highway 17 in DeLeon Springs closed Oct. 4, leaving that community without any banking locations.

Wells Fargo spokesman Michael Gray said the closure is among about 200 the San Francisco-based national bank was making this year.

“We expect to close around 250 branches across the country next year, and many of the closures in 2017 are locations in close proximity to another branch,” Gray said in an email. “Because of this, we don’t expect a significant team member impact.”

Operations at the former DeLeon Springs location are being consolidated with those of another branch in Gibbs Plaza at 1695-1 N. Woodland Blvd., a little more than 5 miles south, near a Walmart Supercenter in north DeLand.

Gray couldn’t say if any other Volusia County locations will be closed in the future.

Wed
04
Oct

Big changes announced in Stetson’s Entrepreneurship Program

NEW ASSISTANT DIRECTOR — Luis Paris, a Stetson alumnus, has been named the assistant director of the university’s Joseph C. Prince Entrepreneurship Program in the School of Business Administration. His appointment is one of several changes announced for the program this fall.

NEW ASSISTANT DIRECTOR — Luis Paris, a Stetson alumnus, has been named the assistant director of the university’s Joseph C. Prince Entrepreneurship Program in the School of Business Administration. His appointment is one of several changes announced for the program this fall.

PHOTO COURTESY STETSON UNIVERSITY

Entrepreneurship continues to be one of the fastest growing areas of undergraduate student growth. To support that interest, Stetson University’s School of Business Administration recently announced a number of exciting changes beginning this fall for the Joseph C. Prince Entrepreneurship Program.

“After joining Stetson last year, I began developing a plan to expand the program and advance innovation and creativity through entrepreneurial activities,” explained Bill Jackson, Ph.D., director of the Prince program. “The ability to connect students from all across campus, to better connect to the community, and to be part of advancing economic development was a key driver in the formation of the new major as well as the overall curriculum overhaul.”

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