News

Wed
30
May

Long ballot awaits voters Nov. 6: Voters to decide on 13 amendments

The Nov. 6 general election is still five months away, but it is not too early or too soon for voters to begin informing themselves about the many and varied state referendums due to appear on the ballot.

A baker’s dozen Florida constitutional amendments — on practically everything from gambling to taxes and terrorism — await action by the voters this fall.

“There will be 13 amendments on the ballot,” Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Lisa Lewis told The Beacon, warning the ballot will be a long one, perhaps four pages.

That array of proposed changes in Florida’s basic law worries Lewis, who says voters may choose to leave portions of their decision documents blank. The prospect of  “under-voting” looms large this fall.

“Voter fatigue. With so much on the ballot — the later you get into the ballot, the more it will be under-voted.”

Wed
30
May

The evidence is in: Sheriff’s Office makes case for new building

FACILITY OF THE FUTURE — This rendering shows the  new $13.5 million Volusia County Sheriff’s Office Evidence Facility, which is expected to open next spring. The new facility will replace the agency’s current facility, an aging former jail west of DeLand. 

PHOTO COURTESY VOLUSIA COUNTY GOVERNMENT

A steadily growing volume of evidence stored in a deteriorating building presents challenges for the Volusia County government in general and for law enforcement in particular.

During heavy rains earlier in May, water made its way into the building the Volusia County Sheriff's Office currently uses to store evidence — a former jail west of DeLand — damaging boxes containing evidence. 

Fortunately, the evidence itself remained undamaged.

But for Sheriff's Office officials, that made the facility’s replacement all the more urgent. 

The sorts of evidence the agency stores — including everything from fingerprints, DNA samples, firearms and blunt objects used as weapons to scraps of paper, photos and furniture — can make the difference between a suspected criminal getting convicted, or walking free.

Authorities are in a sort of race against time to safeguard the evidence against contamination by the leaking water, mold and mildew. 

Wed
30
May

Orange City police officer accused of attempting to extort Georgia woman

An Orange City police officer was arrested May 29 and charged with threatening and attempting to extort a Georgia woman and her family in a series of text messages, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said.

Joshua David Fancher, 25, of DeLand, was taken into custody at the Orange City Police Department on a Georgia warrant charging him with making terroristic threats.

The Lowndes County (Georgia) Sheriff’s Department is investigating the case, according to Sheriff’s Office spokesman Andrew Gant.

Tue
29
May

VCSO: Man arrested after woman slips DeLand Animal Hospital staff saying she was battered at gunpoint

The note — The note passed to DeLand Animal Hospital staff, which resulted in the arrest of 39-year-old Jeremy Floyd.

The note — The note passed to DeLand Animal Hospital staff, which resulted in the arrest of 39-year-old Jeremy Floyd.

PHOTO COURTESY VOLUSIA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

39-year-old Jeremy Floyd. Floyd is charged with domestic violence: aggravated assault with a firearm, false imprisonment, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon and simple battery.

39-year-old Jeremy Floyd. Floyd is charged with domestic violence: aggravated assault with a firearm, false imprisonment, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon and simple battery.

COURTESY VOLUSIA COUNTY CORRECTIONS

A quick-thinking staff member at DeLand Animal Hospital helped rescue a 28-year-old DeLand woman from a violent domestic situation, resulting in the arrest of her live-in boyfriend, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said.

The woman was treated for injuries May 25, and her alleged abuser, 39-year-old Jeremy Floyd, is in custody, according to Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Laura Williams.

However, the victim later declined to complete a sworn statement for sheriff’s deputies, and said she didn’t want to press charges. It’s ultimately up to the State Attorney’s Office whether to prosecute the case against Floyd. 

The victim told deputies she had been beaten Wednesday, May 23, and was threatened at gunpoint, preventing her from leaving their home for two days.

Tue
29
May

Artist chosen for Rufus Pinkney mural

Artist named — Rufus Pinkney's children Sharon and Rufus Jr. meet Robert Ammon, right, the artist selected to memorialize their father's life and legacy in a Downtown DeLand mural.

Artist named — Rufus Pinkney's children Sharon and Rufus Jr. meet Robert Ammon, right, the artist selected to memorialize their father's life and legacy in a Downtown DeLand mural.

BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

The Mural Committee of the MainStreet DeLand Association has chosen Robert Ammon to paint a Downtown DeLand mural depicting the life and legacy of beloved shoeshine man Rufus Pinkney.

“This is such a great honor. I cannot thank you enough for your confidence and support,” Ammon said. “I will make you proud, and will do my utmost to honor Rufus' memory.”

The MainStreet Association received eight proposals from artists, including some from out of state. The committee selected four of them to submit renderings of the murals they envisioned. 

Ammon, from Palm Coast, depicted Pinkney's life.

The unveiling of Ammon's mural May 16 kicked off formal fundraising for the mural project, which has a goal of $8,500.

According to Wayne Carter, executive director of the MainStreet DeLand Association, donations have been coming in for several months. 

Those donations were used to compensate the four artists for their proposal artwork.

Wed
23
May

Ready for more rain? Another tropical system moves in

LOTS OF RAIN — This map shows the estimated rainfall amounts in the 14 days preceding May 23 across Central Florida.

MAP AND DATA FROM NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

A break in the rain — Vicki Menrisky, Ariana Senez, Lauren Mandese, Izzy Mandese and Rachael Jemison enjoy relief from  rain during a fundraising barbecue May 19 for lineman Ronnie Hastings. While working on restoring power in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island last year, Hastings was involved in a car crash that left him severely injured. Friends stepped up to help, and rainy weather didn’t stop people from coming out to support Hastings and his family during his r

A break in the rain — Vicki Menrisky, Ariana Senez, Lauren Mandese, Izzy Mandese and Rachael Jemison enjoy relief from  rain during a fundraising barbecue May 19 for lineman Ronnie Hastings. While working on restoring power in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island last year, Hastings was involved in a car crash that left him severely injured. Friends stepped up to help, and rainy weather didn’t stop people from coming out to support Hastings and his family during his recovery.

BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

Sunshine has been in short supply across our part of the Sunshine State as of late, with tropical moisture bringing as much as 8 to 9 inches of rain to West Volusia since May 13. 

A typical May should see just a bit more than 3 inches of rainfall in Daytona Beach, the closest location where official climatological records are kept, according to the National Weather Service.

“We’ve had a trough of low pressure across the Gulf, and it’s pulled up some tropical moisture over the state the last week, week and a half,” said Matt Volkmer, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service forecast office in Melbourne. 

Several weather stations in the area have reported seeing upward of 9 inches of rain so far in May, as of press time May 23, according to unofficial measurements from the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, or CoCoRaHS.

Wed
23
May

Time to fix the clock: County says complete overhaul is on the way

GEARING UP — These gears have kept time in the clock atop the Volusia County Historic Courthouse in DeLand for long enough, according to county officials. With parts for the clock obsolete and the chimes breaking, the entire mechanical works must be modernized. The job will be put out to bid, nationwide.

GEARING UP — These gears have kept time in the clock atop the Volusia County Historic Courthouse in DeLand for long enough, according to county officials. With parts for the clock obsolete and the chimes breaking, the entire mechanical works must be modernized. The job will be put out to bid, nationwide.

PHOTO COURTESY GEORGE BAKER

WEIGHT WATCHER — At left, now-retired Volusia County employee Pete Musselwhite stands beside the 500-pound counterweights that mechanically wind the clock atop the Volusia County Historic Courthouse

WEIGHT WATCHER — At left, now-retired Volusia County employee Pete Musselwhite stands beside the 500-pound counterweights that mechanically wind the clock atop the Volusia County Historic Courthouse

TICK TOCK — The nearly 100-year-old clock atop the Volusia County Historic Courthouse is not on time, but once county officials select a bidder, the timekeeping, chime-ringing mechanisms like these at right will be brought up-to-date, and parts to fix any future breakdowns will be easier to find. 

TICK TOCK — The nearly 100-year-old clock atop the Volusia County Historic Courthouse is not on time, but once county officials select a bidder, the timekeeping, chime-ringing mechanisms like these at right will be brought up-to-date, and parts to fix any future breakdowns will be easier to find. 

PHOTO COURTESY GEORGE BAKER

The Volusia County Historic Courthouse clock — which has been silent for about a year — will ring again throughout Downtown DeLand, but not soon.

Though broken and silent, the chimes in the clock — which also displays the incorrect time — have not been forgotten, Volusia County spokeswoman Pat Kuehn said. 

In two to four months, the county will seek bids for the job of completely rebuilding the 89-year-old clock. The county is looking for experts to write the scope of work.

“It’s not easy to fix, because it’s hard to get parts for such an old clock,” Kuehn wrote in an email to The Beacon. 

In 2016, the county paid $2,780 to Thee Clockmaker Shoppe in Mount Dora to replace the main bearings in the towering timepiece, according to Kuehn.

About a year later, the music died. The chimes ceased tolling the Westminster Quarters every 15 minutes. And, the timekeeping faltered. The clock is about an hour and 10 minutes behind.

Wed
23
May

10 acres of Automall site are on the market

THE SITE — The proposed site of the I-4 Automall along Orange Camp Road.  BEACON FILE PHOTO

THE SITE — The proposed site of the I-4 Automall along Orange Camp Road.

BEACON FILE PHOTO

Developers of the proposed I-4 Automall said they don’t have time to wait for DeLand’s legal challenge to play out. So, they’ve put a piece of the project site along Orange Camp Road on the market. 

DeLand City Attorney Darren Elkind asked a Circuit Court judge May 11 to review Lake Helen’s decision to annex the 52-acre Automall site, but Elkind also filed a request May 14 to stay any legal proceedings until required discussions between the two cities take place. 

Within days, a “for sale” sign went up on the southwest corner of the site.

“We remain confident that Lake Helen will prevail in the annexation challenge if it goes forward to the end,” said Rob Doan, attorney for Automall developer Brendan Hurley. “The problem is, we just don’t have time to wait for that to play out.”

Wed
23
May

State advertises for lifeguards to work at DeLeon Springs

WILL ANYONE APPLY? — The state’s job online posting seeks lifeguards to work at DeLeon Springs. 

WILL ANYONE APPLY? — The state’s job online posting seeks lifeguards to work at DeLeon Springs. 

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is now advertising for lifeguards to work this summer at DeLeon Springs State Park, after announcing earlier that it would not provide lifeguards this year at the popular swimming spot.

Lauren Engel, a spokeswoman for the DEP, told The Beacon the state agency could not find candidates for the position. 

Caution signs would be placed around the pool, Engel said, adding that the department was searching for alternative safety measures, which she could then name.

The state park website also cautioned that DeLeon Springs would not have lifeguards.

But maybe it will.

“We have not yet contracted with a lifeguard for DeLeon Springs for the summer season,” DEP spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller told The Beacon via email May 18. She added, “We have continued to work to identify opportunities to contract for these services, and as part of these efforts we have advertised the position at DeLeon Springs.”

Wed
23
May

Foodie File: A newcomer on the barbecue scene

TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK — Owner Jennifer Smith, left, and servers, from left, Samantha Calloway, Tamie Darnley and Tara James are in front of their little jam and honey shop at 3 Bricks BBQ & Grill in the West Volusia Regional Shopping Center in DeLand.

TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK — Owner Jennifer Smith, left, and servers, from left, Samantha Calloway, Tamie Darnley and Tara James are in front of their little jam and honey shop at 3 Bricks BBQ & Grill in the West Volusia Regional Shopping Center in DeLand.

BEACON PHOTO/RYAN ROUGEUX

SMOKED BRISKET HANDHELD — I've been a fan of grilled cheese since I was a little kid. Now that I'm grown-up, I order grilled-cheese sandwiches stuffed with smoked brisket at 3 Bricks BBQ & Grill, and dip them in 3 Bricks’ house-made sweet barbecue sauce and put coleslaw on top of each bite.

SMOKED BRISKET HANDHELD — I've been a fan of grilled cheese since I was a little kid. Now that I'm grown-up, I order grilled-cheese sandwiches stuffed with smoked brisket at 3 Bricks BBQ & Grill, and dip them in 3 Bricks’ house-made sweet barbecue sauce and put coleslaw on top of each bite.

BEACON PHOTO/RYAN ROUGEUX

POPULAR APPETIZER — One of the most popular appetizers at 3 Bricks BBQ & Grill is the loaded pork fries: smoked pulled pork piled on top of a mountain of fries, with cheese sauce, bacon, sour cream and chives.

POPULAR APPETIZER — One of the most popular appetizers at 3 Bricks BBQ & Grill is the loaded pork fries: smoked pulled pork piled on top of a mountain of fries, with cheese sauce, bacon, sour cream and chives.

BEACON PHOTO/RYAN ROUGEUX

3 Bricks takes over old Beef ‘O’ Brady’s spot

Robert and Jennifer Smith opened 3 Bricks BBQ & Grill April 15 in the West Volusia Regional Shopping Center in DeLand, in the location previously occupied by Beef ‘O’ Brady’s sports bar.

3 Bricks is a classic American barbecue restaurant, specializing in smoked brisket and juicy pork, adding a new cuisine to the restaurant-dense shopping center, which is also home to Taste of Soul, Angelina’s Pizzeria, Oriental Garden Chinese Restaurant, Subway, Rincon del Sabor and McDonald’s.

The Smiths fully renovated the eatery and gave it a Southern-home feeling with bricks, classic wooden tables and benches, light bulbs hung by thick twined ropes, paneled stained wood, and even a quaint little country shop selling jams and honey.

3 Bricks has two large dining rooms separated by a wall, and a large bar at the back that invites you in as soon as you set foot in the door.

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