News

Wed
02
May

Four fires in 30 days: Warm welcome for new fire chief

Overwhelmed with flames — These photos show recent significant structure fires in and around DeLand since April 2. Firefighters from DeLand, Volusia County, Deltona and other cities have had their hands full responding to fires at the historic Hotel Putnam in Downtown DeLand April 29; an internet cafe north of DeLand April 2; an education building at The Lighthouse Church in DeLand April 27; and a home in the Country Club Estates subdivision May 1. While fire officials have said that having so many structur

Overwhelmed with flames — These photos show recent significant structure fires in and around DeLand since April 2. Firefighters from DeLand, Volusia County, Deltona and other cities have had their hands full responding to fires at the historic Hotel Putnam in Downtown DeLand April 29; an internet cafe north of DeLand April 2; an education building at The Lighthouse Church in DeLand April 27; and a home in the Country Club Estates subdivision May 1. While fire officials have said that having so many structure fires in short succession is certainly unusual for a community like DeLand, they don’t yet believe a serial arsonist is on the loose in West Volusia. Still, investigations into the fires are currently ongoing, and the causes of some of the recent fires aren’t yet clear.

BEACON PHOTOS/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN (PUTNAM AND 5/1), PHOTO COURTESY VOLUSIA COUNTY PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTERS (4/2), PHOTO BY JOHN RUSSELL COX (4/27)

Daniel R. Hanes began work as DeLand’s new fire chief April 2.

That was the day an abandoned former internet cafe burned north of DeLand. In the ensuing 30 days, there would be three more major structure fires: at The Lighthouse Church on April 27, the Hotel Putnam on April 29, and a home in Country Club Estates on May 1.

“It made me feel at home,” Hanes said.

Hanes, whose firefighting career has spanned more than three decades and four fire departments, last worked in West Palm Beach. There, he said, four structure fires in a month wouldn’t raise an eyebrow.

“South Florida — every single day, something’s burning down,” Hanes said.

Wed
02
May

Fire destroys Country Club Estates home

Whole lotta flames — A single-family residence at 2140 Pennsylvania Drive in DeLand is engulfed in flames May 1 when the DeLand Fire Department and other agencies arrive. The home was unoccupied at the time of the blaze.

PHOTO COURTESY VOLUSIA COUNTY PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTERS

Aftermath — Little is left of a home in Country Club Estates after it was engulfed by flames. 

Aftermath — Little is left of a home in Country Club Estates after it was engulfed by flames. 

BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN 

A home at 2140 Pennsylvania Drive was destroyed by fire May 1.

Amy Killgallon, who lives next door in the Country Club Estates area of DeLand, said another neighbor’s gardener called 911, and firefighters arrived within moments. Nevertheless, the home was fully engulfed in flames when firetrucks arrived.

Killgallon sister, Debbie Daycon, who is visiting from Marshall County, Illinois, was sitting on Killgallon’s backyard deck when the fire erupted just before 12:45 p.m.  

A German shorthaired pointer dog Killgallon is caring for, “started getting nervous, pacing and pointing,” the women said. 

“It smelled acrid,” Daycon said. “I heard popping and cracking.”

Daycon said she saw flames through the trees as the two-story, wood-frame home burned. 

Volusia County, DeLand and Orange City firefighters all responded, and the blaze was upgraded to a two-alarm fire, according to the Volusia County Professional Firefighters Association. 

Mon
30
Apr

Leaders put the brakes on proposed sales tax

HITTING THE PAUSE BUTTON — Volusia County Council Chair Ed Kelley, seen here (center) in a December 2017 meeting of the Volusia County Council, reluctantly agreed to recommend a pause In the yearlong effort to put a sales-tax on the November ballot.

HITTING THE PAUSE BUTTON — Volusia County Council Chair Ed Kelley, seen here (center) in a December 2017 meeting of the Volusia County Council, reluctantly agreed to recommend a pause In the yearlong effort to put a sales-tax on the November ballot.

BEACON PHOTO/AL EVERSON

Deterred by the prospect of a very long general-election ballot in November, elected officials on the Volusia County Council and in the cities are backing away from asking voters this fall about adding another half-cent sales tax.

The question was all but set for the Tuesday, Nov. 6, ballot, pending an affirmative vote by the County Council that was scheduled for May 1. At a meeting April 30, however the Elected Officials Roundtable called for caution and restraint in the political campaign cycle now beginning.

Mon
30
Apr

Guest column: Bill of Rights has prevented federal takeover of the states

BY RON JONES

It was established last week in Part 1 that all the individual and sovereign American states participated in their common defense under the Articles of Confederation. In the years after the Revolutionary War, it became apparent that the Articles of Confederation were insufficient in many areas, especially in meeting the financial responsibilities of the Confederation.

James Madison of Virginia, being alert to the many controversies arising among the states under the Articles of Confederation, pressured the Virginia legislature to call for a convention of states in order to address these issues.

Mon
30
Apr

Foodie File: Raved-about wings at Rachel's Wing Shack

RACHEL’S WINGS — Owner Rachel Decker is outside of her restaurant on Old Daytona Road in DeLand. Wings as a concept in DeLand got a boost several years ago, when artist Erica Group drew a pair in the Downtown DeLand alley newly named Persimmon Lane. Although Rachel’s Wing Shack and Erica Group’s artwork are not related, locals seem to connect the two. Rachel's stays busy.

RACHEL’S WINGS — Owner Rachel Decker is outside of her restaurant on Old Daytona Road in DeLand. Wings as a concept in DeLand got a boost several years ago, when artist Erica Group drew a pair in the Downtown DeLand alley newly named Persimmon Lane. Although Rachel’s Wing Shack and Erica Group’s artwork are not related, locals seem to connect the two. Rachel's stays busy.

BEACON PHOTO/RYAN ROUGEUX

Wings and more — This trio of delights makes a great meal at Rachel's Wing Shack. The signature wings are in front, accompanied by the Holy Cow Burger with tots, at left, and fried cheese sticks, in back.

Wings and more — This trio of delights makes a great meal at Rachel's Wing Shack. The signature wings are in front, accompanied by the Holy Cow Burger with tots, at left, and fried cheese sticks, in back.

Even though the restaurant was not yet open, I felt the vibe when I walked into Rachel’s Wing Shack at 495 Old Daytona Road in DeLand. The music was loud and energetic as employees and co-owner Rachel Decker made preparations for the day.

Rachel is a fast-paced restaurant where you order at the counter. Decker said it’s one of the busiest small restaurants in Volusia County.

“We have been voted Best of the West for chicken wings numerous times, and are in the running again this year,” she said.

Owned by Rachel Decker and her husband, Scott, Rachel’s Wing Shack has been in business since August 2008. The business went through some name changes, such as DeLand Wing Shack and Flippers Wings, until Rachel’s Wing Shack finally took hold seven years ago.

Sun
29
Apr

Fire breaks out at Hotel Putnam

FIRE TRAJECTORY — Morning light on April 30 shows the apparent path of the Hotel Putnam fire up the rear of the building. The fire was reported just before 9 p.m. April 29. DeLand Fire Chief Daniel Hanes said the point of origin of the fire, as well as its cause, are both uncertain. Firefighters are on the scene today, managing a few remaining hot spots.

BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

FIGHTING THE FLAMES — Firefighters from the DeLand Fire Department and other nearby agencies worked to extinguish the flames at the historic Hotel Putnam. 

FIGHTING THE FLAMES — Firefighters from the DeLand Fire Department and other nearby agencies worked to extinguish the flames at the historic Hotel Putnam. 

BEACON PHOTO/ANTHONY DeFEO

CLOSER VIEW — Flames could be seen Sunday night through the sixth-floor windows at the Hotel Putnam.

CLOSER VIEW — Flames could be seen Sunday night through the sixth-floor windows at the Hotel Putnam.

BEACON PHOTO/ANTHONY DeFEO

FROM ABOVE — An aerial photo of the firefighters at work. New York Avenue is towards the top-left of this photo.

FROM ABOVE — An aerial photo of the firefighters at work. New York Avenue is towards the top-left of this photo.

BEACON PHOTO/ANTHONY DeFEO

Firefighters from several cities converged on Downtown DeLand April 29 to fight a blaze at the historic Hotel Putnam that threatened ongoing renovations there. 

A call about the fire to 911 came in from a passer-by at 8:56 p.m., according to DeLand Fire Chief Daniel Hanes, and the first crew was on the scene at 225 W. New York Ave. four minutes later.

The fire appeared to have started in the back of the hotel on the ground floor, and climbed up to the sixth floor, scorching the exterior in back and producing dramatic flames as it consumed wooden window frames and roof members.

On May 2, the DeLand Fire Department and area residents were still awaiting results of an investigation of the fire by the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Fire Chief Hanes cautioned against speculation about the cause or origin of the blaze. He said the fire is being treated as suspicious, because the building is vacant and did not have electric service.

Fri
27
Apr

Fire severely damages building at The Lighthouse Church in DeLand

Billowing smoke — Beacon reader John Russell Cox took this photo of the fire at The Lighthouse Church from his vehicle on State Road 15A in DeLand. 

Billowing smoke — Beacon reader John Russell Cox took this photo of the fire at The Lighthouse Church from his vehicle on State Road 15A in DeLand. 

PHOTO COURTESY JOHN RUSSELL COX 

Putting out the hotspots —

Putting out the hotspots — Even after the flames were brought under control at the church, firefighters continued to spray water on the smouldering building. 

BEACON PHOTO/ANTHONY DeFEO

The damage  — The damage to the building's side and roof can be seen in this photo.

The damage  — The damage to the building's side and roof can be seen in this photo.

BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

From above — The collapse roof of The Lighthouse Church's education building can be seen in this photo, taken by a drone from roughly 300 feet in the air. 

From above — The collapsed roof of The Lighthouse Church's education building can be seen in this photo, taken by a drone from roughly 300 feet in the air. 

BEACON PHOTO/ANTHONY DeFEO

A Friday-afternoon fire at a southwest DeLand church caused severe damage to an education building and left one firefighter with minor injuries.

Units from Volusia County Fire Services and the DeLand Fire Department responded to The Lighthouse Church, at 1525 State Road 15A in DeLand, early Friday afternoon, and found flames and plumes of smoke billowing from a building used for Sunday-school classes.

The building sits roughly in the center of the church’s campus. No children were in the building at the time of the fire.

Thu
26
Apr

Judge: Halifax may not build hospital in Deltona

The work doesn't stop — Workers were seen Thursday afternoon at the Halifax Health construction site in Deltona, apparently signaling no end to construction of the new facility, despite the court ruling. 

The work doesn't stop — Workers were seen Thursday afternoon at the Halifax Health construction site in Deltona, apparently signaling no end to construction of the new facility, despite the court ruling. 

BEACON PHOTO/AL EVERSON

Halifax Health’s ambitious plan to establish a medical campus on the north side of Deltona may be in danger, after a judge ruled in a civil suit challenging Halifax’s decision to expand beyond the Halifax Hospital District’s boundaries.

Volusia County Circuit Court Judge Michael S. Orfinger sided with former Ponce Inlet Mayor Nancy Epps in her complaint against the hospital-taxing district.

Wed
25
Apr

Automall hearing postponed

Lake Helen and DeLand jointly requested a 30-day continuance of the April 25 meeting of the Volusia Growth Management Commission. 

Lake Helen and DeLand jointly requested a 30-day continuance of the April 25 meeting of the Volusia Growth Management Commission. Lake Helen's land-use change for the Automall site would have been discussed at the meeting.

After legal threats, DeLand and Lake Helen try to talk

After months of hostility and threats of legal action, DeLand and Lake Helen are now taking steps to de-escalate their conflict over the proposed I-4 Automall.

Officials from both cities have agreed to request postponement of an April 25 meeting that would have decided the fate of a land-use change needed to make the project possible.

Since it came to light in January that the mega-dealership project’s backers would annex the 52-acre site along Orange Camp Road into Lake Helen, staff from the two cities have been attempting to work together to make the project more tolerable to nearby residents. 

While many of DeLand’s issues with the project were addressed throughout the process, a few key points weren’t. 

Wed
25
Apr

Orange City man dies after fight at park

HELP — Neighbors heard cries for help coming from this basketball court area at Mill Lake Park April 5. Witnesses said a fight occurred between 43-year-old Johnnie Earl Beveritt, who lived across the street, 18-year-old Nicholas Martz, who lives up the road, and an unidentified juvenile. The teens told police Beveritt had tried to rob them. Beveritt later died at Florida Hospital Fish Memorial. The cause of his death has not yet been determined by the Medical Examiner’s Office. 

HELP — Neighbors heard cries for help coming from this basketball court area at Mill Lake Park April 5. Witnesses said a fight occurred between 43-year-old Johnnie Earl Beveritt, who lived across the street, 18-year-old Nicholas Martz, who lives up the road, and an unidentified juvenile. The teens told police Beveritt had tried to rob them. Beveritt later died at Florida Hospital Fish Memorial. The cause of his death has not yet been determined by the Medical Examiner’s Office. 

BEACON PHOTO/ERIKA WEBB

Johnnie Earl Beveritt

Johnnie Earl Beveritt

An Orange City man died April 5 after fighting with some teens at Mill Lake Park, but police said the fight did not contribute to his death.

The Orange City Police Department is investigating the death of Johnnie Earl Beveritt, 43, but not as a suspicious or criminal matter, according to Orange City Police Department spokesman Lt. Jason Sampell.

Beveritt died at Florida Hospital Fish Memorial nearly seven hours after the fight was reported, according to the Police Department’s incident report and the 911 dispatch record.

Orange City Police Department spokesman Lt. Jason Sampsell said, despite conflicting witness reports, police are certain Beveritt was not seriously injured in the fight.

“We know what the injuries were,” Sampsell said. He noted that, although medical reports are not final, Beveritt was treated at the hospital for a cardiac condition, not fight injuries.

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