News

Tue
10
Jul

VCSO: Blue Spring State Park employee charged with possessing child pornography

A 43-year-old park employee at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City was arrested Monday and charged with 20 counts of possessing child pornography after sheriff’s detectives executed a search warrant at the suspect’s home June 29.

Mon
09
Jul

USS Liberty survivor to recount Israeli attack

Ernie Gallo

Ernie Gallo

A survivor of the 1967 attack on the USS Liberty will speak at an event planned 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, at the DeLand Memorial Hospital and Veterans Museum at Bill Dreggors Park, 230 N. Stone St.

All are welcome to attend. 

The free event also will include an open house at the museum and a tour of its military collections, as well as a presentation on the Rollins Bachler Army Air Corps Aviation History Photo Exhibit (1919-27) by Dan Friend, museum curator. 

Refreshments will be served. 

Ernie Gallo, president of the national USS Liberty Veterans Association, was aboard the Liberty, a U.S. Navy technical research ship, during the Six-Day War. 

On June 8, in international waters off Egypt’s Gaza Strip, Israeli air force jet-fighter aircraft and Israeli navy motor torpedo boats advanced on the vessel, killing 34 Americans and wounding 172.

Mon
09
Jul

Stetson Baptist Church pantry: Food, plus prayer and caring

Helping for years — For more than 12 years at Stetson Baptist Church, member and volunteer Kay Cogburn has been helping feed the community of DeLand. She sits among bags of food prepared for the June distribution. She also makes amazing cupcakes.

Helping for years — For more than 12 years at Stetson Baptist Church, member and volunteer Kay Cogburn has been helping feed the community of DeLand. She sits among bags of food prepared for the June distribution. She also makes amazing cupcakes.

BEACON PHOTOS/RYAN ROUGEUX

The joy of helping — Stetson Baptist kitchen manager Marjorie Savage, front, and volunteer Carmen Mack share a light moment.

The joy of helping — Stetson Baptist kitchen manager Marjorie Savage, front, and volunteer Carmen Mack share a light moment.

BEACON PHOTO/RYAN ROUGEUX

As a food writer, with most of my current life centered on eating, I felt a passion to give back and help feed those who are having hard times.

My journey started with reaching out to Heather Priest at The Neighborhood Center of West Volusia; she sent me a list of food resources around DeLand.

I saw that Stetson Baptist Church was listed, and gave the number a call. A very friendly Pastor Brad Gwartney answered, and he gave my information to Carmen Mack, the contact person for the Stetson Baptist Food Pantry.

Within the hour, I received a call from Mack, who was thrilled, enthusiastic and eager to help me volunteer.

Stetson Baptist Church offers a food pantry open to the public 1-4 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month.

Sun
08
Jul

DeBary fireworks fiasco fires up city leaders

Bursting in air — Unlike in DeBary, DeLand's fireworks show July 3 went off without a hitch. 

Bursting in air — Unlike in DeBary, DeLand's fireworks show July 3 went off without a hitch. 

BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

DeBary’s July Fourth celebration took an anticlimactic twist, when no bombs burst in the air over Gemini Springs.

The firm contracted to put on the show blamed a muddy staging area. 

Now there may be fireworks in court, as DeBary leaders wonder who is to blame for the holiday letdown.

“This issue needs to be investigated. This issue needs to be checked out,” Mayor Bob Garcia said.

To the chagrin of DeBary officials and the disappointment of thousands of celebrants, the planned fireworks display simply did not occur — and the recent wet weather was cited.

“The bottom line is, you can’t load guns that are in water. The ground was mucky,” Creative Pyrotechnics owner, founder and President E.J. Weppel told The Beacon.

The company has also been blamed for failing to put on shows in other Florida cities. 

In response, Weppel has offered to put on a fireworks show for Labor Day in DeBary, in an effort to make up for the cancellation. 

Tue
03
Jul

Safe at home in DeLand: Unwanted birds find permanent pleasure at Patty’s Parrot Palace

GOLDEN YEARS — Blue-and-gold macaw Sophia and her green parrot partner Brandon welcome visitors to the large flight cage at Patty’s Parrot Palace, a sanctuary in DeLand for displaced and unwanted parrots.

GOLDEN YEARS — Blue-and-gold macaw Sophia and her green parrot partner Brandon welcome visitors to the large flight cage at Patty’s Parrot Palace, a sanctuary in DeLand for displaced and unwanted parrots.

BEACON PHOTOS/ERIKA WEBB 

YOGA WITH GOATS? — Indeed, it’s a thing. Six dwarf and pygmy goats, all named after types of candy, participate twice monthly in yoga with people at Patty’s Parrot Palace in DeLand. Shown here, Goober greets visitors as if to say, “Is it time yet?” 

YOGA WITH GOATS? — Indeed, it’s a thing. Six dwarf and pygmy goats, all named after types of candy, participate twice monthly in yoga with people at Patty’s Parrot Palace in DeLand. Shown here, Goober greets visitors as if to say, “Is it time yet?” 

GREETINGS — Above, Patty’s Parrot Palace founder Trish Koile shares a moment with Lorraine, a rescued parrot resident. 

GREETINGS — Above, Patty’s Parrot Palace founder Trish Koile shares a moment with Lorraine, a rescued parrot resident. 

It all started in 2010 in Tuscawilla with a conure in need of a cage. 

Eight years later, Patricia “Trish” and Tony Koile live on 5 acres in DeLand — with 98 parrots, 27 chickens, six goats, four dogs and one cat.

And, Doris and Duncan, the resident turkeys who follow Trish Koile everywhere.

A gigantic aviary houses dozens of macaws and cockatoos, the largest of Patty’s Parrot Palace’s rescued residents. 

Trish Koile worked 32 years as a real-estate manager; her expertise was in the apartment industry.

After being diagnosed with systemic lupus and unable to manage a regular workday, Koile still wanted to remain as productive as possible.

The wheels had started turning five years earlier, with that conure.  

Koile stumbled upon horrid conditions while responding to a Craigslist ad for the conure cage her bird needed. 

Tue
03
Jul

Tax roll takes a billion-dollar bump up

We’re worth more — This graph from the Volusia County Property Appraiser’s Office shows the steady increase in the value of property in Volusia County year to year, since 2014. The lighter-color bars represent the “just values,” which are supposed to approximate fair market values. Generally, however, real estate sells for more than the property appraiser’s estimate of its just value. The darker bars represent the values assigned to properties for taxing purposes.

We’re worth more — This graph from the Volusia County Property Appraiser’s Office shows the steady increase in the value of property in Volusia County year to year, since 2014. The lighter-color bars represent the “just values,” which are supposed to approximate fair market values. Generally, however, real estate sells for more than the property appraiser’s estimate of its just value. The darker bars represent the values assigned to properties for taxing purposes.

GRAPHIC COURTESY VOLUSIA PROPERTY APPRAISER

Property in county is now worth nearly $34 billion

The latest figures released by the Volusia County Property Appraiser’s Office put the taxable value of property in the county at $33.9 billion.

That’s up almost $1 billion from the estimate released in early June.

Overall, the value of land, homes, buildings and other improvements has increased 7.5 percent over last year.

“I think everyone will be pleased with the growth,” Deputy Property Appraiser Jan Cornelius said.  

Cornelius said yet another increase is possible, as some condominiums and tangible personal property may still be uncounted. The county’s final tax roll will be certified in October.

In the meantime, local governments, the School Board and hospital districts will use the July figures to plan their tax rates for next year. 

Tue
03
Jul

DeLand gives Automall deal initial OK

NEW PLAN — Under a proposed agreement between DeLand, Lake Helen and the developers of the I-4 Automall, the plans for the mega-dealership would be tweaked. This graphic shows how a distribution center (top left) would be reoriented and moved east, farther away from nearby homes. 

NEW PLAN — Under a proposed agreement between DeLand, Lake Helen and the developers of the I-4 Automall, the plans for the mega-dealership would be tweaked. This graphic shows how a distribution center (top left) would be reoriented and moved east, farther away from nearby homes. 

GRAPHIC COURTESY CITY OF DELAND

DeLand officials have agreed in concept to a plan that would end the city’s dispute with Lake Helen over the I-4 Automall, and that clears the way for the project to be constructed.

The two cities have been feuding over the project, the brainchild of Brendan Hurley of DeLand Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, since it came to light in January that the developers would seek to have Lake Helen annex the roughly 52-acre site along Orange Camp Road.

DeLand asked a judge to review Lake Helen’s annexation. The proposed settlement, if approved by both cities in its final form, would moot the pending court battle. 

“The week of June 18, the developer's attorney approached us with a settlement agreement they wanted us to consider,” DeLand City Manager Michael Pleus told city commissioners at their July 2 meeting.

Under the proposed agreement, DeLand would annex the western portion of the project site, slated to contain a hotel, restaurants and a gas station. 

Tue
03
Jul

Governor reviewing case of DeLand commissioner

Jeff Hunter sits behind the dais at a DeLand City Commission meeting shortly after his inauguration.

Jeff Hunter sits behind the dais at a DeLand City Commission meeting shortly after his inauguration.

BEACON FILE PHOTO

The governor is reviewing the case of the DeLand city commissioner arrested by state agents on drug-related charges June 27.

Meanwhile, City Commissioner Jeff Hunter continues to maintain his innocence.

“I’m not worried about it,” he told The Beacon June 29. “I know I’ll be found innocent.”

Florida law gives Gov. Rick Scott the discretion to suspend municipal officials accused of crimes, and to remove them from office if convicted.

“Gov. Scott expects all elected officials to behave ethically and responsibly,” governor’s spokeswoman Ashley Cook said. “Our office is reviewing this.”

If the governor suspends Hunter, the remaining four DeLand city commissioners will appoint a fifth member to the empty seat. If Hunter is found not guilty before his term ends in November 2020, the law provides that he would be reinstated.

Hunter said he would be glad to continue to serve, but doesn’t want to put DeLand in a bad light.

Tue
03
Jul

What are they doing to New York Avenue?

Common sight — Continuing lane closures along New York Avenue between Garfield and Boston avenues halt westbound traffic June 29. Contracted crews will work through the summer to complete a Florida Department of Transportation project that involves replacing and repairing concrete slabs in the roadway.  

Common sight — Continuing lane closures along New York Avenue between Garfield and Boston avenues halt westbound traffic June 29. Contracted crews will work through the summer to complete a Florida Department of Transportation project that involves replacing and repairing concrete slabs in the roadway.  

BEACON PHOTO/ERIKA WEBB

Detours and delays will continue for a while along New York Avenue in DeLand, but the roadway should be smoother once workers are finished.

Since December 2017, a contractor for the Florida Department of Transportation has been working to repair and replace concrete slabs on the roadway, also known as State Road 44, between Boundary and Hill avenues.

Drivers noticing indentation where new concrete slabs have been installed need not be alarmed, according to the agency.   

“Once the work placing the new slabs is done, the contractor goes back . . . to smooth it all out,” FDOT spokeswoman Sara Shepherd wrote in an email to The Beacon. “So, in the interim, it is bumpy, but it will not be staying that way.”

The $966,000 project is being completed by DeLand-based Faith Construction Group. It involves 2.3 miles of roadway along New York, as well as concrete replacement at the intersection of Woodland Boulevard and Plymouth Avenue.

Mon
02
Jul

Foodie File: DeLand Natural Market is a bakery, a deli and more

BREADWINNER — Blessed to be able to tour the bakery at DeLand Natural Market and Deli, I find myself in a sea of certified organic bread. It will be packaged for customers, not only in the DeLand store, but all over the United States. In a separate room is a certified gluten-free bakery.

BREADWINNER — Blessed to be able to tour the bakery at DeLand Natural Market and Deli, I find myself in a sea of certified organic bread. It will be packaged for customers, not only in the DeLand store, but all over the United States. In a separate room is a certified gluten-free bakery.

BEACON PHOTO/IRMA AVILA

CUSTOMER-FOCUSED — From left are DeLand Natural Market and Deli store manager Ivonne Montalvo, deli manager Janet De La Vega, and owners Irma and Alfredo Avila, standing in the store's deli-style restaurant. “We pride ourselves on delivering the best customer service around,” Ivonne Montalvo said.

CUSTOMER-FOCUSED — From left are DeLand Natural Market and Deli store manager Ivonne Montalvo, deli manager Janet De La Vega, and owners Irma and Alfredo Avila, standing in the store's deli-style restaurant. “We pride ourselves on delivering the best customer service around,” Ivonne Montalvo said.

BEACON PHOTO/RYAN ROUGEUX

PREPPING — Cristal Borja preps fresh ingredients for the Natural Market Deli. Hot and cold food is available for dining in or taking out. 

PREPPING — Cristal Borja preps fresh ingredients for the Natural Market Deli. Hot and cold food is available for dining in or taking out. 

BEACON PHOTO/RYAN ROUGEUX

Your health is a priority at DeLand Natural Market and Deli

I was surprised to find all there is inside DeLand Natural Market and Deli on North Woodland Boulevard in DeLand.

Under this one roof is a large health-food store, as well as a deli where you can eat in or take out hot and cold foods, and a certified organic and gluten-free bakery that produces bread for sale all over the United States.

“We bake between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds of bread a day on average, Monday through Thursday,” store manager Ivonne Montalvo said.

Natural Market’s owners are Alfredo and Irma Avila, natives of Puerto Rico, who started their business in 1999 at what is now the location of De La Vega Restaurante y Galeria in Downtown DeLand. Natural Market was then called DeLand Bakery.

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