News

Wed
27
Jun

Fewer inmates to get rehab services

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A changed life — Ryan Stanley plies his skills as an executive chef. He earned the certification while serving out the final months of his prison sentence as a resident of Reality House.

A changed life — Ryan Stanley plies his skills as an executive chef. He earned the certification while serving out the final months of his prison sentence as a resident of Reality House.

PHOTO COURTESY STEWART-MARCHMAN-ACT

Volusia’s Reality House loses contract that had 96% success in keeping convicts from returning to prison

Fewer convicted criminals will get the addictions counseling and anger-management training they need to transition back into society, thanks to budget cuts by the Florida Department of Corrections.

The DOC’s $2.4 billion budget was increased this year by $1 million, but that wasn’t nearly enough to cover $55 million in cost increases, largely for medical care and medicines for about 98,000 inmates.

“In general, we had a gap of $28 million in health care and $22.2 million in pharmacy,” Department of Corrections spokeswoman Michelle Glady told The Beacon.

The Florida Constitution requires the Department of Corrections to provide those services to people who are incarcerated.

Wed
27
Jun

Pig predicament perplexes Orange City

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Orange City may allow pigs to be kept as pets in residential zones, after Stacey Fox made the request at the June 26 City Council meeting.

Fox said her small, Juliana-type pig, named Hamlet, is a must for her well-being.

“He is a certified emotional-support animal,” she told the City Council.

Fox said she has had Hamlet for two years, and has received no complaints from her neighbors. She offered, for the public record, 53 petitions signed by neighbors supporting her desire to keep Hamlet.

The law is the law, however.

“A police officer came to the house and told us we had to get rid of him,” Fox said.

She said the officer was polite about it.

City Attorney William Reischmann drafted a memorandum noting Orange City’s zoning law forbids having “livestock within the corporate limits of the City,” but advised that the City Council may make “a reasonable accommodation” for Fox and her companion.  

Wed
27
Jun

Goodbye, Father Tom

Farewell, Father — Beloved St. Peter Catholic Church Pastor Father Tom Connery bids farewell to parishioners at a party for him on June 24, which was proclaimed Father Tom Day by the City of DeLand.

Farewell, Father — Beloved St. Peter Catholic Church Pastor Father Tom Connery bids farewell to parishioners at a party for him on June 24, which was proclaimed Father Tom Day by the City of DeLand.

BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

After 15 years as pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church, Father Tom Connery has been transferred by the Diocese of Orlando to St. Theresa Catholic Church in Belleview.  

Earlier in June, Mayor Robert F. Apgar presented the beloved pastor with a certificate recognizing Connery for his contributions to our community and proclaiming June 24 as “Father Tom Day” in the city of DeLand. Dozens of members of the St. Peter family attended the City Commission meeting to watch.

The mayor’s presentation was re-enacted at the St. Peter Holy Family Life Center June 24 for the benefit of members of Father Tom’s family who joined more than 500 St. Peter parishioners and other friends at a goodbye luncheon catered by Brian’s Bar-B-Q. 

Father Tom has endeared himself to many during his time in DeLand. He worked tirelessly to help the uninsured, the poor, the homeless and the many young people who were drawn to his meaningful homilies. 

Wed
27
Jun

DeLand City Commissioner Jeff Hunter arrested on drug-related charges

Troubled commissioner — DeLand City Commissioner Jeff Hunter speaks during an event at the African American Museum of the Arts in DeLand in February. 

Troubled commissioner — DeLand City Commissioner Jeff Hunter speaks during an event at the African American Museum of the Arts in DeLand in February. He was arrested Wednesday on drug-related charges. 

BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

A DeLand city commissioner was arrested today by state agents on drug-related charges.

Jeff Hunter, who was elected to the DeLand City Commission in 2016, is charged with the sale or delivery of hydrocodone, an opioid drug more popularly known as Vicodin.

Hunter said the charges were fabricated by a girl he dated briefly in 2017.

The investigation was launched after the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to look into allegations Hunter was trafficking narcotics.

Hunter initially told Sheriff's Office detectives in October 2017 he had been defrauded by a 24-year-old DeLand woman with whom he had been involved in a relationship.

Tue
26
Jun

Suspect in 2004 Virginia Beach homicide case arrested in Deltona

Christopher Schmidt, 46

Christopher Schmidt, 46

Volusia County sheriff’s deputies assisted Virginia Beach, Virginia, police in making an arrest Monday of a suspect in a 2004 murder case.

Deputies arrested Christopher Schmidt, 46, at his Deltona home around 10:43 p.m. Monday, according to Sheriff's Office spokesman Andrew Gant.

Schmidt is charged with first-degree murder.

The Sheriff’s Office Major Case Unit also executed a search warrant at Schmidt's home, Gant said. His arrest stems from a 2004 double homicide.

The incident happened June 28, 2004, when police responded to a home on a call about a reported gunshot wound, according to information released by Virginia Beach police.

Mon
25
Jun

Drug dealer charged with murder stemming from Deltona mother's overdose

A Sanford man has been charged with first-degree murder after deputies said he sold a Deltona mother the drugs that caused her to fatally overdose last October, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday.

Steve Montilla, 31, has actually been behind bars since the week of the victim’s death on heroin-trafficking-related charges, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Andrew Gant said.

“Volusia County sheriff’s detectives who responded to the overdose immediately started working to track down her dealer — and then conducted a buy-bust operation that resulted in Montilla’s arrest on drug trafficking charges,” Gant said in a news release.

Montilla was recently sentenced to 39 months in state prison on those charges.

However, Gant said, a grand jury voted to indict Montilla on first-degree murder charges Monday.

Mon
25
Jun

Foodie File: Exploring the flavors of the Amazon

Main course — The main course consisted of a prehistoric Amazonian fish, pirarucu, crusted with Uarini cassava flour, Amazonian vinaigrette, cassava cream with puxuri, and tapioca caviar.

Main course — The main course consisted of a prehistoric Amazonian fish, pirarucu, crusted with Uarini cassava flour, Amazonian vinaigrette, cassava cream with puxuri, and tapioca caviar.

Stars of the event — Chef Beto Bellini, left, chef-owner of Makun Restaurant in Roraima, Brazil, joins Chef Marcela Guzman to take over the kitchen of the Bolding home in DeLand.

Stars of the event — Chef Beto Bellini, left, chef-owner of Makun Restaurant in Roraima, Brazil, joins Chef Almir Da Fonseca to take over the kitchen of the Bolding home in DeLand.

Dessert like no other — The final course is an egg-white pudding with an essence of tonka bean, caramelized tucupi preto, and Brazil or Uará nuts. 

Dessert like no other — The final course is an egg-white pudding with an essence of tonka bean, caramelized tucupi preto, and Brazil or Uará nuts. 

 

Eats and education — Chef Beto Bellini of Brazil speaks with guests about the dinner he created for them, during a Culinary Culture Connections event in DeLand. Gary Bolding, who hosted the event in partnership with his wife, Jane, is seated at the head of the table.

Eats and education — Chef Beto Bellini of Brazil speaks with guests about the dinner he created for them, during a Culinary Culture Connections event in DeLand. Gary Bolding, who hosted the event in partnership with his wife, Jane, is seated at the head of the table.

BEACON PHOTOS/RYAN ROUGEUX

Eating your way to making a difference in the world

Culinary Culture Connections owners and founders Brian Kermath and Gregory Prang put together an event in DeLand in May that was a night for Amazonian gastronomic exploration and discovery.

Local residents Gary and Jane Bolding volunteered to host.

Chefs were Beto Bellini of Makun Restaurant in Roraima, Brazil, and special guest Almir Da Fonseca, professor at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, and a native of Rio de Janeiro.

The purpose of the event, in line with the mission of Culinary Culture Connections, was to celebrate the flavors, textures and colors of Brazilian culinary traditions, and to promote the idea that threatened ecoregions can be strengthened by supporting the indigenous communities that depend on them.

Fri
22
Jun

ELECTION 2018: All of the candidates who have qualified for the ballot

The qualifying period for candidates seeking nonjudicial local and state elected offices ended at noon Friday. Here are the candidates in West Volusia who have made the cut.

In races with only one candidate listed, that candidate is unopposed and will be deemed automatically elected. Incumbents are designated by “(inc.).”

 

CITY OFFICES

DeLand - Mayor/Seat 1

Robert “Bob” Apgar (inc.)

 

DeLand - Seat 3

Jessica Davis (inc.)

 

DeLand - Seat 5

Markesha James
Phil Martin
Kevin Reid

 

Deltona - Mayor

Santiago Avila Jr.
Heidi Herzberg
Troy Shimkus

 

Deltona - District 1

Wed
20
Jun

Volusia’s last dairy closes

HAVE YOU HERD? — A lone heifer, one of a significantly thinned herd on the Fieser Dairy property, stands in the now-unused milking facility June 20. Since the milking operation has been shut down, this youngster’s future is uncertain. The St. Johns River Water Management District might purchase a conservation easement on the 300-acre property, in which case some cattle might remain to graze. Or, the land could wind up being developed, according to co-owner Gerald Fieser. 

HAVE YOU HERD? — A lone heifer, one of a significantly thinned herd on the Fieser Dairy property, stands in the now-unused milking facility June 20. Since the milking operation has been shut down, this youngster’s future is uncertain. The St. Johns River Water Management District might purchase a conservation easement on the 300-acre property, in which case some cattle might remain to graze. Or, the land could wind up being developed, according to co-owner Gerald Fieser. 

BEACON PHOTO/ERIKA WEBB

LITTLE MILKMAID — Fieser Dairy co-owner Gerald Fieser helps his granddaughter Mykaela Lankford, 5, feed a calf at the farm in DeLeon Springs during the summer of 2017. In the past few months, Fieser has sold off most of the cows — his end of a deal he hopes to finalize with the St. Johns River Water Management District. With the herd significantly reduced, the agency could agree to pay the landowners for a conservation easement.

LITTLE MILKMAID — Fieser Dairy co-owner Gerald Fieser helps his granddaughter Mykaela Lankford, 5, feed a calf at the farm in DeLeon Springs during the summer of 2017. In the past few months, Fieser has sold off most of the cows — his end of a deal he hopes to finalize with the St. Johns River Water Management District. With the herd significantly reduced, the agency could agree to pay the landowners for a conservation easement.

PHOTO COURTESY GERALD AND DEBBIE FIESER

GOT MILK? — Ever curious, members of the Fieser Dairy herd crowd a photographer on the dairy property in DeLeon Springs. Months ago, the herd numbered about 650 cows and some bulls. Hoping to strike a deal with the St. Johns River Water Management District for the agency to pay them for a conservation easement on the 300-acre farm, Gerald Fieser and his brother Karl Fieser have since thinned the herd.

GOT MILK? — Ever curious, members of the Fieser Dairy herd crowd a photographer on the dairy property in DeLeon Springs. Months ago, the herd numbered about 650 cows and some bulls. Hoping to strike a deal with the St. Johns River Water Management District for the agency to pay them for a conservation easement on the 300-acre farm, Gerald Fieser and his brother Karl Fieser have since thinned the herd.

PHOTO COURTESY GERALD AND DEBBIE FIESER

The slow but reliable, single-file evening migration to the feed troughs is diminished by many heads; across seemingly endless pasture, the choral lowing is an outro. 

Fieser’s Dairy has closed.

The future of the 300-acre farm on Lake Winona Road in DeLeon Springs is uncertain. The land may be sold for development, or the St. Johns River Water Management District could prevent that by paying the owners for a conservation easement.

The dairy was the last of its kind in Volusia County and in East Central Florida.

When his family moved here from Kansas in 1960, co-owner Gerald Fieser said, there were 30 dairy farms in Volusia County. 

Fieser’s was always comparatively small. The operation produced 4,500-5,000 gallons of milk daily, but toward the end was supplying only two or three milk retailers, Fieser said.

It was the last of the old farms to supply T.G. Lee, through a milk cooperative.

Wed
20
Jun

DeLand to build rec center on MLK

BRAINSTORMING SESSION — Citizens from around DeLand attended a June 6 community meeting about the proposed recreation center in southeastern DeLand. The current plan for the recreational complex shows a 35,000-square-foot facility surrounded by sports fields, a pond with a floating fountain, and interior trails.

BRAINSTORMING SESSION — Citizens from around DeLand attended a June 6 community meeting about the proposed recreation center in southeastern DeLand. The current plan for the recreational complex shows a 35,000-square-foot facility surrounded by sports fields, a pond with a floating fountain, and interior trails.

BEACON PHOTO/ERIKA WEBB

If DeLand’s Parks and Recreation Director Rick Hall has his druthers, the city will build a sizable new recreation center sooner rather than later.

DeLand has hired CPH Engineers Inc. and has hosted two public meetings to come up with a plan for the complex, which could be built on 13 acres along the west side of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Beltway, north of Taylor Road.

The developers of Victoria Park donated the acreage to the city in 2005 as agreements for the sprawling development were negotiated. The site fronts a Victoria Park conservation easement. 

“It was set aside to be a recreation site,” Hall told The Beacon in a phone interview.

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