I’m a happy man tonight. Tax season, for the most part, ended today (Monday, April 17). Washington, D.C., celebrates Emancipation Day on April 17, so the Internal Revenue Service was closed today. But that doesn’t mean I’m working a full day April 18. And it’s 11 p.m. April 17.
I’m heading out at high noon tomorrow. I’ll check my email until midnight. I don’t leave anyone hanging. But I don’t work an extra day because of a holiday only celebrated by what amounts to a city.
Many of my clients this year have come in talking about the election specifically and politics in general. Some of my favorite clients are Democrats, my comrades. It’s true. I’ve told them and I’ll tell you that I’ve enjoyed ignoring the news since Donald Trump won.
I was recently taken to task by a person for whom I have the utmost respect and consider a friend. He takes exception to my using our president’s original family name rather than the Americanized version he goes by today.
I understand his point. My Friend comes from a military and police background, and his belief is that whether or not you respect the person in a position of authority, the position itself is deserving of respect. I get that. It is the basis for the concept of “chain of command” in the military and of “contempt of court” charges in the judicial system.
He also suggests I might have a better chance of communicating my ideas to those who question them were I to show that respect for the position. Maybe, although, from what I see going on in this country, I don’t see much in the way of open minds or hearts among the supporters of our so-called president.
Everyone who lives in DeLand should take a moment to email or call our Mayor Bob Apgar, our City Manager Michael Pleus, and every one of our city commissioners to compliment their handling of two issues of great importance to our city.
Other approaches could have been good or adequate, but our team went the extra mile to create a standard of best practices. At a time when many are ranting about draining the swamp at the national level, we can keep our wetlands intact and be very grateful for the excellent leaders who head our municipal government.
The first kudos-worthy accomplishment was the selection of a new police chief, a very important concern for the community. Mr. Pleus put in place an open and transparent process that gave members of the community multiple opportunities for involvement in the selection.
Ready to grow — Chris Jacobs prepares a new garden plot. As part of Project Vineyard, Jacobs and his sister Kwana have assisted in preparing more than 20 gardens in Orange City, Deltona, DeLand and Seville.
Sowing self-sufficiency — Desirae Williamson, left, and Olivia Williamson help Chris Jacobs plant seeds in a new garden. Chris and his sister Kwana started Project Vineyard to teach people how to grow their own vegetables.
As the fragrance of spring hits our senses, community members attend home and garden shows, and men and women prepare to harvest, at least a really nice rose garden.
Kwana Jacobs of Project Vineyard has made it a priority to assist with personal vegetable gardens in West Volusia.
“I learned about conventional foods, and that we are eating products and not nourishment. This is why this became so important to me,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs, a DeLand native, is a wife and mother, and is raising an autistic son.
“I also believe that him not having what is needed to thrive affects his autism,” she said.
Project Vineyard is a volunteer-operated project that promotes healthy living and growing your own nutrients, which are found in fruits and vegetables.
Want to write a letter to the editor? Use our online form. Click "Opinions" at www.beacononlinenews.com. Or, mail your letter, marked "for publication," to 110 W. New York Ave., DeLand, FL 32720.
Grateful for law-enforcement personnel
Editor, The Beacon:
Imagine the shock of finding that your property had been trespassed and your vehicle stolen feet from your front door sometime during the night. Never expecting to recover the vehicle or your sense of security again; imagine the great feeling to hear the vehicle was found and the thief was in custody.
Having just read the narrative on the effort by the DeLand Police Department and Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, I am extremely grateful for the professionalism and full use of assets to bring the chase to a safe conclusion for all.
The only names I have are Officer Patel, Sgt. Stikels, Deputy Lewis, Deputy Omelia, Deputy Moss and his K-9 partner, and Air One support personnel, whose names are not in the report, and I have no doubt others were involved whom we cannot personally thank.
President Donald Trump, my friends, has separated the men from the boys.
That little weasel in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad, is on notice. Fifty-nine missiles about the same size as telephone poles were launched at a Syrian base where the plane that launched a chemical-weapons attack on Syrian citizens originated.
There was warning for those at the base. Casualties are their problem. The Israelis drop leaflets. We give notice.
I’ll tell you, once again, to watch and learn. Some Democrats will praise Trump for this. The dirty little secret is that President Barack Obama was an abysmal failure when it came to foreign policy. He should keep silent about the attack on Syria. He had his chance.
President Drumpf launched a largely meaningless and wasteful Tomahawk missile attack on an airbase in Syria April 7. It was purportedly in response to the use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces and Drumpf’s reaction to videos of Syrian children affected by and/or killed in the attack. There are more holes in this affair than there are in a block of high-quality Swiss cheese.
First, and foremost in my mind, is the flagrant hypocrisy of Drumpf’s crocodile tears over the victims of this horrendous attack. These are the same people he is blocking from escaping the horrors being inflicted on them with his absurd refugee ban.
Highway safety has improved greatly in my lifetime!
In 1933 (my birth year), a total of 29,746 highway deaths were recorded nationwide, creating a ratio of 23.6 fatalities per 100,000 of population. In 2015, 35,092 traffic deaths were recorded, equaling 11.3 fatalities per 100,000 of today’s total population — less than half the death rate of 1933. Altogether, that is remarkable considering the far greater number of vehicles on the road in 2017, compared to 1933. Does the foregoing suggest that today’s congested highways have no perils?
Of course not!
The differences between today and the 1930s (re highway safety) are mostly attributable to greatly improved automobile (and truck) design, better highways and better-trained drivers. We also have better highway policing today, as well as seat belts and other safety provisions within our motor vehicles.
Developer Tony Collins wants to save the Hotel Putnam, but he's asking for some help from the city.
But, is Collins asking for too much money?
If we agree with the concept of subsidizing private investment to make historic preservation possible, we might still ask: Is developer Tony Collins asking for more public money than is necessary to achieve this goal?
A quick analysis:
Cost to rehabilitate the Hotel Putnam: $8 million (based on developer’s documents and architect Jack Stoudenmire Carter’s study).
Cost to build a new similar structure: $5 million (based on costs for the Marriott currently under construction in Downtown DeLand; does not include demolition costs for the Putnam, which are estimated at at least $600,000).
Difference: $3 million. (The developer’s plan calls for this gap to be closed by private investment, federal tax credits and public investment, including $750,000 from DeLand’s Community Redevelopment Agency.)
It is easier and cheaper for a developer to build new than to restore a dilapidated historic structure. Unless this cost difference is somehow mitigated, the free market will push developers to avoid investing in historic properties in the urban core, in favor of constructing new buildings on the outskirts. Historic-preservation incentives work by making the rehabilitation cost-competitive. In this case, $750,000 is a reasonable request.
— Lorenzo N. Bizzio
There has been much discussion in the past few weeks about a proposal put forth by developer Tony Collins of Sarasota to restore and revitalize the derelict Putnam Hotel, a proposal that — if implemented — would turn the building from a blighted ruin into a high-end rental complex.
Among residents of DeLand, there is near universal agreement that such an outcome is infinitely preferable to having the property remain in its current state of dilapidation (or even worse, seeing the majestic historic structure torn down and destroyed forever).
However, there is disagreement over one important element of the developer’s plan: the request for $750,000 in Community Redevelopment grants, along with a change to city ordinances that would allow the Putnam property to qualify for up to $800,000 in tax abatements over a period of 10 years.
Sarasota-based developer Tony Collins (pictured here at the Hotel Putnam) has asked the City of DeLand for two things, which he says are necessary to make restoration of the Putnam possible.
1. After he redevelops the hotel into 47 one- and two-bedroom apartments, with commercial space on the first floor, Collins wants to have property taxes on the increase in property value waived for 10 years.
This has an estimated value of $700,000 to $800,000, and would require DeLand to amend its historic-preservation tax-abatement ordinance, which currently prohibits tax abatement for historic properties if they are located Downtown.
2. Collins wants DeLand’s Community Redevelopment Agency, a special property-tax fund for Downtown DeLand redevelopment, to contribute $700,000 or $750,000 to the project. The money would be paid only if Collins achieves certain performance measures with the rehabilitation project.
Below, two area residents weigh in on this big decision. The DeLand City Commission will take it up in a public meeting at DeLand City Hall, 120 S. Florida Ave. The date has not been set.
Being a fourth-generation native of DeLand, I grew up watching the Hotel Putnam go through several stages until its current state of disrepair.
As a registered architect, I look at the property through a different prism, perhaps, than most residents. I consider the emotional connections to the community and also the aesthetics, function and financial feasibility associated with reutilizing this once-majestic structure.
In early 2013, I became professionally involved in assessing the difficulties and costs linked with restoring the exterior and redesigning the interior of the Hotel Putnam. Over several months, my responsibilities included measuring and drawing every room, as well as documenting the mechanical, power, lighting, fire-sprinkler, and life-safety systems.