News

Fri
24
Feb

Raucous, rowdy and rude in Deltona

Commissioner Brian Soukup gestures during the Deltona City Commission's heated Feb. 20 meeting.

Commissioner Brian Soukup gestures during the Deltona City Commission's heated Feb. 20 meeting.

BEACON PHOTO/AL EVERSON

Deltona Mayor John Masiarczyk speaks during the Deltona City Commission's Feb. 20 meeting.

Deltona Mayor John Masiarczyk speaks during the Deltona City Commission's Feb. 20 meeting.

BEACON PHOTO/AL EVERSON

The three R's — raucous, rowdy and sometimes rude — marked the Deltona City Commission’s Feb. 20 meeting, as the session stretched until almost 1 a.m. of the following day.

City Commission members debated what to do about choosing a new city attorney and engaged in personal attacks, parliamentary squabbling and a sprinkling of coarse language.

Thu
23
Feb

West Volusia Calendar of Events Feb. 25-March 4, 2017

Saturday, Feb. 25
 
Farmers Market
8 a.m.-1 p.m. at Gateway Center for the Arts, 880 North U.S. Highway 17-92, DeBary. Call 407-443-6965.
 
Market in the Park
8 a.m.-1 p.m. at Blake Park, 437 S. Lakeview Drive, Lake Helen. Call 305-393-0682.
 
Deltona Woodcarvers Breakfast Carving Get-Together
8:30-11 a.m. at Veterans’ Memorial Park, 1921 Evard Ave., Deltona. Free. Visit
www.deltonawoodcarversclub.com, or call 407-323-3056.
 
Stetson Equestrian Western Team Regional Horse Show
9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the Stetson University Equestrian Club’s team barn, 32100 Root Road, Eustis. Free admission; raffles.
Wed
22
Feb

On the road again: Neighborhood Center puts wheels on a family’s journey from homelessness

A life-changing gift — Erika and Jerry Cooper and their children, Hunter, 2, and Alena, 3, celebrate their new 2004 Chevy Malibu, a Christmas gift from the staff of The Neighborhood Center. The center has been helping the family out since September 2015. The car will help the parents get to work and back, as well as get the kids to child care.

A life-changing gift — Erika and Jerry Cooper and their children, Hunter, 2, and Alena, 3, celebrate their new 2004 Chevy Malibu, a Christmas gift from the staff of The Neighborhood Center. The center has been helping the family out since September 2015. The car will help the parents get to work and back, as well as get the kids to child care.

PHOTO COURTESY THE NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER

A Christmas gift from The Neighborhood Center of West Volusia changed the lives of one area family this year.

Jerry and Erika Cooper were shocked when members of The Neighborhood Center’s housing staff surprised them with a 2004 Chevy Malibu that had been donated to the agency in November.

After a setback that left them homeless, the Coopers were working to put their family back on its feet via bus and bicycle.

The center also assisted with reinstating Jerry Cooper's driver’s license.

The car will help Erika Cooper get to and from her job at Porky's BBQ, and Jerry Cooper to his job at Atlantic Septic, installing drain seals.

They’ll also be able to get their two children, Hunter, 2, and Alena, 3, to and from child care.

“It has been an inspiration to keep us moving forward, to keep improving,” Erika Cooper said.

The Neighborhood Center has been helping the family since September 2015.

Wed
22
Feb

Stanley the Pekingese wins prize at Westminster Dog Show

What a beauty — Stanley the Pekingese shows off the style that helped him win an Award of Merit at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in February in New York City. With Stanley is his owner, Susan Shephard of Deltona.

What a beauty — Stanley the Pekingese shows off the style that helped him win an Award of Merit at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in February in New York City. With Stanley is his owner, Susan Shephard of Deltona.

PHOTO COURTESY SUSAN SHEPHARD

Susan Shephard of Deltona and her Pekingese pooch, Stanley, brought home an Award of Merit from the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

The show, one of the biggest in the country, took place Feb. 13-14 in New York City. This was Stanley’s first time competing in the United States as an adult dog.

This is not Stanley’s first adult show title, however.

The award-winning dog is also an English Grand Champion, and competed at shows across the United Kingdom before his appearance at Westminster.

The Pekingese breed is a member of the Toy Group. They have been recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club since 1906.

Stanley’s show name is Deja vu Stand By Me; he was bred at Shephard’s kennel in West Volusia.

“He’s such a special dog,” Shephard said.

Shephard has been breeding Pekingese for many years.

She first fell in love with the breed at a young age, after meeting her grandmother’s Pekingese pooch.

Wed
22
Feb

School Board talks about school choice, new Pierson Elementary School

The Volusia County School Board talked about school choice and plans for a new Pierson Elementary School at a recent meeting.

The Volusia County School Board talked about school choice and plans for a new Pierson Elementary School at a recent meeting.

The Volusia County School Board is looking at adopting a new policy that would bring the district’s school-choice rules into line with recent changes in state law.

The new policy also spells out the rules that govern when a principal can revoke a student’s school-choice privilege.

Currently, with some restrictions, students and their parents are allowed to choose a school that’s different from the one they are zoned to attend based on where they live.

There must be seats available at the chosen school, however, and applications to attend a different school in the 2017-18 school year must be turned in no later than May 26 this year. Online applications are available.

Also, the privilege to attend a school out of zone may be revoked. The new policy seeks to define more exactly the grounds for a principal to revoke a student’s school- choice options.

Wed
22
Feb

Changes for Relay for Life: new location, hours

Victory over cancer — Cancer survivor Susie Macon of DeLand shows off her Relay for Life shirt in front of the DeLand Wings. The American Cancer Society’s signature fundraiser is moving back to Downtown DeLand for the first time since 2011.

Victory over cancer — Cancer survivor Susie Macon of DeLand shows off her Relay for Life shirt in front of the DeLand Wings. The American Cancer Society’s signature fundraiser is moving back to Downtown DeLand for the first time since 2011.

PHOTO COURTESY SUSIE MACON AND RELAY FOR LIFE

Relay for Life of Greater DeLand is moving its cancer-fighting mission back to Downtown DeLand.

On Saturday, March 4, at least a dozen teams will participate in the DeLand edition of the American Cancer Society’s signature national fundraiser.

In addition to changing its location from DeLand Middle School to DeLand City Hall, the Relay for Life of Greater DeLand also will not be an overnight activity this year.

The event is moving from its home of three years at DeLand Middle School, where activities continued overnight. This year, the Relay for Life of Greater DeLand will be in front of DeLand City Hall, and will take place 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Relay-team members will take turns walking a designated path over the course of the 12 hours. Each team has a member on the track at all times to show that “cancer never sleeps,” according to the Relay for Life website.

Wed
22
Feb

Survey says DeLandites are mostly happy

Happy birthday, Mayor — DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar prepares to cut a cake to celebrate his 70th birthday. The City of DeLand staff, fellow city commissioners and other friends from the community surprised Apgar with a proclamation and a cake at the Feb. 20 City Commission meeting; Apgar’s birthday is actually Friday, Feb. 24.

Happy birthday, Mayor — DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar prepares to cut a cake to celebrate his 70th birthday. The City of DeLand staff, fellow city commissioners and other friends from the community surprised Apgar with a proclamation and a cake at the Feb. 20 City Commission meeting; Apgar’s birthday is actually Friday, Feb. 24.

BEACON PHOTO/A. JANELL WILLIAMS

DeLand’s recent community survey revealed a pretty happy citizenry.

“We have a good overall quality of life, as far as our residents are concerned,” City of DeLand spokesman Chris Graham said, as he reviewed the survey results Feb. 20 in a workshop with the DeLand City Commission.

The survey, conducted by the National Research Center Inc., compared DeLandites’ responses to those of residents in 613 cities throughout the United States, including 102 South Atlantic communities. In the past, the City of DeLand has partnered with Stetson University to conduct a more localized citizen survey.

“We wanted to compare ourselves to other communities,” Graham said. “In the past, we have compared ourselves against ourselves.”

Wed
22
Feb

Autism a challenge for local families

The Stewart bunch — Walter Stewart, 3, on Mom’s lap, is rarely seen without his hat, which his mother said is “his security blanket.” Born with physical disabilities and diagnosed at 2 with autism, Walter already has had to overcome a number of daunting obstacles and has earned the capes he also loves to wear. Here, Walter is shown at his DeLand home with parents Renee and Shawn Stewart, and brothers Jackson, 9, and Elias, 7.

The Stewart bunch — Walter Stewart, 3, on Mom’s lap, is rarely seen without his hat, which his mother said is “his security blanket.” Born with physical disabilities and diagnosed at 2 with autism, Walter already has had to overcome a number of daunting obstacles and has earned the capes he also loves to wear. Here, Walter is shown at his DeLand home with parents Renee and Shawn Stewart, and brothers Jackson, 9, and Elias, 7.

PHOTO COURTESY STEWART FAMILY

Poised to climb — Andrew Palmisano, 15, was diagnosed with a disorder on the autism spectrum when he was 3 years old. Like many families, Andrew’s family has searched for schools and services that can help him achieve his full potential.

Poised to climb — Andrew Palmisano, 15, was diagnosed with a disorder on the autism spectrum when he was 3 years old. Like many families, Andrew’s family has searched for schools and services that can help him achieve his full potential.

PHOTO COURTESY KIMBERLY ESCUDERO

In the swim of things — Andrew Palmisano enjoys the water. Now 15, Andrew was diagnosed with autism at age 3. His mother, Kimberly Escudero, said it has been challenging to find programs and classes that would enable Andrew to keep progressing. When the family lived up North, she said, they paid higher taxes, but had a wider choice of services for Andrew. Now, she said, they must pay for much of his help on their own.

PHOTO COURTESY KIMBERLY ESCUDERO

In the swim of things — Andrew Palmisano enjoys the water. Now 15, Andrew was diagnosed with autism at age 3. His mother, Kimberly Escudero, said it has been challenging to find programs and classes that would enable Andrew to keep progressing. When the family lived up North, she said, they paid higher taxes, but had a wider choice of services for Andrew. Now, she said, they must pay for much of his help on their own.

Facing challenges together — Tyler Dotson and his mom, Kim Dotson, share a hug at home in Deltona. Tyler, who is 20 and is diagnosed with autism, hopes to go to college. His mom hopes to find programs that will help him as an adult to achieve his full potential.

Facing challenges together — Tyler Dotson and his mom, Kim Dotson, share a hug at home in Deltona. Tyler, who is 20 and is diagnosed with autism, hopes to go to college. His mom hopes to find programs that will help him as an adult to achieve his full potential.

BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

The chances are pretty good someone among your family or friends has a child who has been diagnosed with autism.

The nonprofit organization Autism Speaks estimates disorders in the autism spectrum affect one in every 68 children. Boys are more than four times more likely to be affected than girls.

Some say cases are growing at a rate of 10 percent to 17 percent a year. But are there really more cases, or just more diagnoses — or both?

For the families affected, that debate takes a back seat to finding the help they need to navigate a maze of mental, physical, emotional and bureaucratic confusion.

Their days may be dominated by fear, information overload, and problems that manifest without clear solutions.

The families may become isolated, either because of sheer exhaustion or the trauma of being criticized because of their child’s misunderstood behavior.

Wed
22
Feb

Autism: Families learn to PLAY

Playtime — Kim Rust and her son, Quinn, blow bubbles together. Quinn, who is in Volusia County Schools’ gifted-student program, was diagnosed with a disorder on the autism spectrum. Kim Rust became interested in the challenges children like Quinn face, and became certified as a home consultant in PLAY Project therapy, which is designed to teach parents how to interact with their children who have autism.

Playtime — Kim Rust and her son, Quinn, blow bubbles together. Quinn, who is in Volusia County Schools’ gifted-student program, was diagnosed with a disorder on the autism spectrum. Kim Rust became interested in the challenges children like Quinn face, and became certified as a home consultant in PLAY Project therapy, which is designed to teach parents how to interact with their children who have autism.

PHOTO COURTESY KIM RUST

A common goal among parents of children with autism is helping the child reach his or her full potential.

The PLAY Project — designed to be affordable and practical — can help.

PLAY was developed by Dr. Richard Solomon, a pediatrician, because of the lack of early-intervention programs for children with autism.

PLAY is often used to supplement special education, language and occupational therapies, and other therapies, such as Applied Behavior Analysis.

Kim Rust is a licensed clinical social worker whose office is in Downtown DeLand.

When her son was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, Rust searched for a way to connect with him.

“One of the biggest challenges for these kids on the autism spectrum is they can get stuck in their own world,” Rust said. “We call it their comfort zone. They’ll continuously spin wheels, watch YouTube. It’s hard to get them to play with you.”

Wed
22
Feb

Volusia parents of children with autism plan federal complaint against school system

Parents of children with autism are planning a federal lawsuit against Volusia's school system.

Parents of children with autism are planning a federal lawsuit against Volusia's school system.

BEACON FILE PHOTO

Members of at least 11 Volusia County families of children with autism are preparing to sue, alleging that the school system discriminates against children with disabilities, especially those with autism.

Dr. Katie Kelly, who heads the Children’s Rights Unit for Community Legal Services of Mid Florida, is drafting a complaint to be filed with the U.S. Department of Justice against eight Volusia County schools.

At issue, according to Kelly and one of the parents involved, are a variety of concerns about the treatment of the students, including arrests and inappropriate placements in classrooms with children who have delinquency problems but not neurological disorders.

Kelly told of the experience of one 9-year-old student who was struggling to cope in the classroom.

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