McIntosh Mirror: Reflecting news in the Tosh

Want to impact your community? Many of McIntosh's citizen boards have open seats and a council at a loss as to how to fill them.

Light-up McIntosh December 15

Light-up McIntosh will begin at the Civic Center at 6:30 p.m. The event will host Santa Clause and an area choir from six local churches will sing.

07.26.07: Letter to the Editor: Smith responds to blog coverage

Cher,

Because of recent entries on your Blog, I feel it is necessary to respond.

I would like to address some of the quotes and references that were attributed to me.

I want to make it very clear I am speaking as an individual, not for the School Board or any of the other members.


“Thursday evening I spoke with Joedy Smith during the council meeting and expressed the concern I spoke with to Linda about that morning. Joedy said that he knew. For that reason, he told me that no more than one of the school's board members could attend any one meeting.”

I've looked through the exemptions. The problem is that if the Sunshine Law applied to the school board members and they knew it”


I didn’t tell you I “knew” and for that reason no more than one school board member could attend any one meeting, I did agree with you, that because of our discussion that night there maybe some question to the sunshine law. I did agree with your concern that maybe two school board members should not be at any one meeting. I repeated this to the administrative staff at the school, if this got passed on to the rest of the school board members I can’t tell you. If another school board member would have showed up at the meeting I was at, I would have shared that concern with them.

“Smith said there would be another meeting in the future in the Civic Center or another large venue so more people could attend.”

“Joedy Smith said at Wednesday's meeting the school officials were planning a larger meeting later so everyone could attend. But each meeting would be different, since different residents, school officials and council members participated in different meetings. Therefore, not all residents have the same access to the issues discussed.”


I plan to ask the board to have such a meeting.

The idea of a larger meeting came from my discussion with you that despite our mass mailings to individuals, posting on the blog, putting up flyers, standing up at a town meeting and encouraging people to seek out a meeting, or asking that they call the school to find one in there area, or that putting flyers on residents doors and just stopping several people on the street and asking them to go home and tell there neighbors. Despite all those efforts, maybe, just maybe, someone did not hear about what we were trying to do. It was in those discussions that I realized that not only could we officially post this meeting, making really sure no one could say they where somehow excluded, we could bring together all of those smaller meetings. and address some of the issues that might have come up. Instead of just inviting, we could offically [sic] ask the Town council to attend.


“Several people, including Joedy, pointed this out to Lee and Eva Jo last night. They chose to stay. I did what I do and wrote about it.”


I did point out my concern about possible sunshine violations because I am sensitive to the sunshine laws. Plus, you warned me there would be an issue! I should have never doubted, - Eva Joe and Lee handled themselves in a very professional manner. My concern was that this would be seen as a discussion between them. In the end my concerns were relieved.

“My hope from this reporting is that future meetings held by the school board as they work through the issue of building a school are handled in a manner consistent with the Sunshine Laws so those meetings don't hinder them or threaten their future projects”

My hope is that you would have included how you have witnessed the school’s sensitivity, willingness to learn about and comply with the sunshine laws.

My hope is that you would have included how receptive I have been to your concerns about those laws,

My hope is that the residents of this town come together and make an informed decision about the future of The Mcintosh area public school.

Did I as a school board member learn something? You bet ya! Thanks,

Let me assure you I will continue to be mindful of my duty to operate in the sunshine,

Joedy Smith

Mcintosh resident and

Member of the Mcintosh area school board

posted by Cher @ 11:41 AM, , links to this post

07.22.07 -- Tree Committee Chairman to resign

Editor's Note: Sean Dowie, chairman of the Tree Committee, sent this letter to the editor on Sunday afternoon. He said in an e-mail and phone interview he will be submitting this letter of resignation from the McIntosh Tree Committee to Council President Frank Ciotti on Monday.

It is with regret that I announce my resignation as the Chair of the Tree Committee as of Monday July 23, 2007 due time restraints with my business and foremost the inappropriate and unsubstantiated accusations made by Councilman Lee Deadrick that were made at a time when I was not present and unable to explain or defend myself. This is unbecoming of a council member and I am no longer willing to volunteer my time for this position.

Upon returning this past weekend from a family funeral, (my sister was killed in a plane crash the previous week and the reason I was not able to attend the town council meeting) I listened to the Town Council meeting on the blog. I was disheartening to hear that after all of the hours of work and volunteered time from the committee members that our ordinance was tossed to the wayside. Our goal has always been for the Tree Committee to preserve the natural beauty of McIntosh by making sure we have a well established tree canopy and protect the existing trees that took, in many cases, hundreds of years to grow. Our position has never been to hinder or restrain land owners, only to protect what was and already is here.

The Tree Committee has spent many months updating the Tree Ordinance with recommendations from the LPA and the Town Council, and every month Councilman Deaderick, would have another issue with the ordinance as if he were reading one paragraph a month rather than telling the committee all he would like to see in one meeting. This makes writing and updating an ordinance difficult. It has always been Councilman Deaderick view that the Town of McIntosh has no need for a Tree Ordinance which reflects his comments at the July 12 meeting.

McIntosh has lived many years hidden from the progression of development and has prospered as a small community but times are definitely changing and growing up in South Florida I have fist hand experience in seeing this. Every part of Florida is now available for a price and this is why I do not share the views of Councilman Deaderick and why I chose to volunteer for the Tree Committee. I think perhaps Councilman Deadrick would benefit from remembering that his place is to represent the view of the town and not treat his position as his own personal soap box.

As to several comments made by Councilman Deaderick, one being the removal of a tree on town right of way by the water tower to which proper procedures were not followed, Jill Allen and I both looked at this tree and determined it was completely dead with serious decay on one side, presenting a serious hazard & safety issue and with the high winds and recent rains it was in the best interest of the Town to have the tree removed. Unfortunately, at that time, our committee was unable to meet and give proper 72 hour notice due to the fact 2 of the 3 committee members were out of town at that time. The towns current Tree Ordinance written in 1997 made no provisions for such an emergency, as the new Tree Ordinance would have, so I did make the decision to have the tree removed. I do not apologize for what I thought was in the best interest of the town and unfortunately was not able to follow proper procedures in this situation but it was obvious the tree was dead and presented a safety issue and therefore would make the town liable.

To councilman Deadericks other comments about my trustworthiness and accusations to insult to my character, I will only say this is completely unacceptable from a town council member and serve only his own agenda and not the best interest of the town.

It has been a pleasure working with Jill Allen and Bill Weltner on the committee and I hope they continue to do great work. I would also like to give high praise to the McIntosh Garden Club for their gracious gift of trees to the town of McIntosh and there continuing efforts in keeping McIntosh beautiful

Sincerely,
Sean M.Dowie

posted by Cher @ 7:36 PM, , links to this post

07.20.07 -- EDITORIAL: Owning it

By CHER PHILLIPS

Editorial:

It's always been my policy to own my mistakes when I am wrong.

I'm torn, here, because I don't think I was wrong to pursue this story. For pursuing it, I can't apologize. I accurately reported what happened at that meeting. There are times when stories unfold as you work them. This one has.

As you will read in the following story, I was wrong, in part, when I wrote council members attended a meeting outside the Sunshine Law. Of course, the problem with that statement is that the council members attendance was outside the Sunshine Law -- just not for the reasons that I, and others at the time, understood.

For all practical purposes, some of the council members in McIntosh probably did meet outside the Sunshine Law. The documentation and expert comment supports that conclusion. The fine print is that if there is a violation, the two council members, Eva Jo Callahan and Lee Deaderick weren't the responsible party, because it wasn't their meeting. Notices for these meetings that I've gathered from my neighbors in the Cove show that it's questionable as to whether they serve as sufficient public notice, according to expert sources. Further, at the meeting I attended, I saw no minutes being taken.

I do apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Even though my pursuit of this story seems to upset people enough to personally attack me on my own blog, I continued my reporting today, and I hope the following story clarifies the issue.

My hope from this reporting is that future meetings held by the school board as they work through the issue of building a school are handled in a manner consistent with the Sunshine Laws so those meetings don't hinder them or threaten their future projects.

posted by Cher @ 1:44 PM, , links to this post

07:20.07 -- REPORT: Sunshine Law Expert: school neighborhood meetings fall under Sunshine, School board responsible, not council

By CHER PHILLIPS

First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Peterson said this afternoon in a phone interview that two council members who attended a meeting Wednesday night in McIntosh to discuss building a new school were not in violation of the Sunshine Law.

However, Peterson said any Sunshine Law violations that existed as a result of that meeting would be on the part of the McIntosh Area Charter School Board. Peterson is the president of a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Tallahassee that produces an annual publication called the Sunshine Manual, which explains the Sunshine Law and its exemptions.

"Those are meetings subject to the Sunshine," Peterson said. "The school board was responsible here."

The Mirror reported on Wednesday night that two council members, Eva Jo Callahan and Lee Deaderick, attended a meeting outside the Sunshine Law. Peterson cited a 1996 Florida State Attorney General decision when she said that the two council members would not be in violation for their attendance as long as they did not discuss issues in private.

"They can participate in the public discussion but not have private discussions," Peterson said.

An invitation to the council members said the neighborhood meetings were sponsored by the board members and the friends of McIntosh Area School. Though the meetings had been described as neighborhood meetings, they were hosted by school officials and held in the homes of school board members. The Sportsman's Cove meeting was held on private property hosted by its owner, but the discussion was led by a school board member.

Last Wednesday, the Mirror ran a posting e-mailed to the blog by Linda McCollum. Initially, the Mirror posted that everyone was welcome at these meetings. Then Thursday morning, McCollum called this reporter and asked that the clarification be made in the blog that organizers wanted residents to attend the meetings to which they were invited, when possible, to make sure there were enough refreshments to go around.

Peterson said the first violation with the neighborhood meeting would involve whether or not the meetings were properly noticed. She said posting on the blog is not sufficient, because not everyone has access to a computer. Invitations were sent out to residents per a list of registered voters, which is also insufficient. Peterson said someone who lived in another part of the county and wanted to attend wouldn't know they were welcome.

Cove residents received one of two invitations, but neither noticed that two council members would be present at Wednesday night's meeting. (Notices shown.)





Joedy Smith said at Wednesday's meeting the school officials were planning a larger meeting later so everyone could attend. But each meeting would be different, since different residents, school officials and council members participated in different meetings. Therefore, not all residents have the same access to the issues discussed.




Peterson said that two members of the same board, the council members, could participate in another board's meeting as long as their discussion was part of the meeting. But their combined presence at that meeting would have to be noticed as "two or more council members" on the public notices prior to the meeting.

Invitations to the town council members said they could attend any or all of the meetings. (Invitation shown.)




With the Sportsman's Cove meeting, notice would have had to have been made prior to the meeting by the school board that two council members would be present.

The Sunshine Law also requires that minutes be taken of public meetings. This reporter was the only person taking notes at the Wednesday night meeting.

posted by Cher @ 9:10 AM, , links to this post

07.19.07 -- Neighborhood meetings broach building local school

By CHER PHILLIPS

About 15 residents from Sportsman's Cove, Robert's Acres and other parts of McIntosh met in the screen room of the Cove last night to listen to Joedy Smith explain options for building the McIntosh Area Charter School a permanent building.

Two months ago, the McIntosh Town Council and organizers from the school met in a public workshop to discuss potential future plans for the school.

Five breakout meetings were planned around town, in which registered voters were invited to the homes of the charter school's board members. Casey Girardin, the owner of Sportsman's Cove, hosted last night's meeting. The meeting organizers will then report back to council members with feedback from the community.

Smith explained that the charter school would like a permanent building, because they are currently spending money renting expensive portables. He said school organizers feel their money would be better spent paying off a mortgage.

The school attempted to obtain a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. To do that, the school board would need to own the land the school where they would be building.

The charter school is located on the southern border of McIntosh on the town's land, next door to the doctor's office. The town was given the land from the county, and it was the site of the first McIntosh school in the early 1900's. The old McIntosh school closed in the 50's, and then was dismantled later in the 70's for scrap.

"We looked around and there's not really any other good place to build," Smith said.

The options for how to accomplish building a school have been narrowed down to two.

The first would involve the town giving the school the land. The risk with this option is that if the school failed, then the U.S.D.A. would want something done with the building and for it to be paid off. The land could feasibly go back to the county school board. The town's auditor, Richard Powell, informed the town clerk through an e-mail last week that this was a feasible method, but the town would need to declare the land surplus before deeding it over to the school.

The other option would be for the town to build the school building. This path would mean that the town would take on an approximately $1 million mortage and pays the U.S.D.A. off over 25 years.

Powell said in an e-mail that the risk with this option would be if the school failed, the town would be stuck with mortgage payments. Last night, Smith answered questions and supplied more information about the contingencies if the school did fail.

"Every thing's got a risk, but we think it's a low risk," Smith said.

Smith said school organizers were willing to put $64,000, the estimated amount of one year's mortgage payment, in escrow -- as a last month's rent sort of plan. If the school failed, the town would have one year to find another tenant for the building. Smith, an employee with the Department of Veteran's Affairs, said that he thought agencies like the VA are always interested in moving into a government buildings, especially ones that are already established.

Some residents said they didn't understand how a school could fail. Smith explained last night how charter schools are funded. The county provides a certain amount of funding per child called full-time equivalency, or FTE's. Therefore, the school could grave face financial problems if the enrollment dropped drastically.

Smith said that because the school's records are open to the public, due to Florida's Sunshine Laws governing open records, that the town would have forewarning if the school was doing poorly enough that failing was a concern.

He said that the school is doing a good job of saving money and was awarded a $160,000 grant from WalMart last year, but that money was not earmarked for building.

McIntosh Area Charter School is an elementary school serving grades K-5 only. Smith said they would like to build two phases of the school. The first phase would be a building with eight classrooms and the second would be a cafetorium, a combination cafeteria and auditorium area.

Councilwoman Eva Jo Callahan was in attendance and asked if the cafetorium could serve as a hurricane shelter.

Smith said that in the best case scenario, they would pursue FEMA funding so the cafetorium could serve as a hurricane shelter and was confident they could get funding from that agency.

McIntosh does not currently have a shelter certified to withstand more than a Category 3 hurricane, by Red Cross standards.

One resident asked if the school was planning on expanding to a middle school and if only eight classrooms would be enough. Smith said that school organizers were talking about a middle school, since the school opened five years ago, and the children attending the school were graduating fifth grade. But he said some school organizers were hoping to expand to higher grades, but he was busy managing the growth of the elementary school.

The charter school has 103 pupils incoming for the next academic year, but only 19 of them are from McIntosh.

Councilman Lee Deaderick said that he wasn't sure where all the other McIntosh children went to school. He said he had some friends in McIntosh who sent their children to school in Gainesville, because they said they get a better education in Gainesville's schools.

Both Deaderick and Smith both did not think that the public schools in Marion County were as good.

When asked what was wrong with the public school in Reddick, Smith said that there are gangs, drugs and attitude problems in the public schools, even the elementary school.

"I don't want to say public schools are bad, I just think we can do better," Smith said.

Residents asked Smith about attendance and opinions expressed at the other neighborhood meetings.

Deaderick said there weren't negative comments, but there was a great deal of apathy, that people didn't care about building a school.

Smith said that one of the comments made was that the school organizers don't want to send McIntosh children to school with black children. He said that he knew the town had a history of racial bias, but that the school welcomed diversity.

"If a black child showed up tomorrow, he'd have a seat," Smith said. "As long as the classroom isn't already full."

While he and Deaderick, who was involved in the school before serving on the town council, did not know how many minorities the school currently has enrolled. Deaderick said that the first year, there were pupils from several different minorities.

Girardin compared the charter school to Catholic school she went to growing up. She said that the most important points about the community school was that the McIntosh children could have small classes, better discipline and could go to school with their neighbors.

Smith said there would be another meeting in the future in the Civic Center or another large venue so more people could attend.

posted by Cher @ 12:00 PM, , links to this post

07.18.07 -- Council members attend neighborhood school meeting outside state Sunshine Law

By CHER PHILLIPS

Two McIntosh Town Council members attended a meeting tonight at Sportsman's Cove with knowledge that their attendance at that meeting was outside Florida's Sunshine Law.

Councilman Lee Deaderick and Councilwoman Eva Jo Callahan were informed by this reporter and Joedy Smith that their attendance at a meeting to discuss whether how the town should proceed with school officials' desire to build a permanent building for the school was outside Florida's Sunshine Law. *

The neighborhood meetings were open to the public, but were not publicly noticed town meetings, in which minutes were taken. Designed to be informal, five meetings were held in McIntosh. Council members were invited to attend.

The Sunshine Manual says that Florida's Sunshine Law is "applicable to any gathering, whether formal or casual, of two or more members of the same board or commission to discuss some matter* on which foreseeable action will be taken by the public board or commission."

About 15 residents of Sportsmans' Cove and Robert's Acres, and other parts of McIntosh, attended the meeting. The neighborhood meetings were planned by school organizers to gauge the feeling of residents about building a permanent building for McIntosh Area Charter School. The Mirror reported last week that these events would be taking place and that organizers were hoping that individuals would attend the meetings they were sent invitations to, when possible, so enough refreshments would be available for everyone.

The central issue of the meeting was to take stock of residents' thoughts on the school's future so
event organizers could report back to the town council, guaranteeing that any discussion would come before the town's highest board in the future.

At tonight's meeting, another resident and this reporter informed the two council members that both of them being present was a violation of the Sunshine Law. Then, Smith also confirmed this for the council members.

Callahan went as far as to tell the other council member that one of them would need to leave. Deaderick joked about the meeting being "in the moonlight." Neither council member left and stayed through the meeting.

The purpose of the Sunshine Law is to ensure the governmental decision-making process is open to everyone. It is unknown at this point how many council members attended the other neighborhood meetings.

Smith said tonight that one of the other informal discussions was well attended and the other was not, making the Cove meeting one of the better attended meetings in town.

(* spelling and grammar edit made July 19)

posted by Cher @ 8:52 PM, , links to this post

07.18.07 -- BRIEFS: Noise complaints fall to county, road paving potential future project

By CHER PHILLIPS

Harold Geddes, who lives at the end of 3rd Street asked the council Thursday night to help him address complaints he filed about noise from a neighbor's home. McIntosh does not have a noise ordinance and refers to Marion County codes for any noise complaints. Geddes said he called the Marion County Sheriff in the past, but the officers told him the music was not loud enough to warrant a code violation. Geddes played a recording he made of his neighbor's music, and council members said they would ask the sheriff's office to take a decibel reading in the future.

Town Clerk Debbie Miller informed the council representatives from the Department of Transportation examined McIntosh's roads and said the biggest problem for the town are the cracks in the roadways. An estimated$150,000 would fix the streets in town as far as the roads were concerned. The town is considering resurfacing and will be measuring the roads and mapping the cracks and problem areas to determine which streets are priority. One of McIntosh's largest funding mechanisms comes gas taxes every year, but this money is allocated for roads only.

The council agreed to give the town's employees a $20 per month raise so they will be reachable 24 hours a day, instead of paying for a cell phone.

An engineering firm, Brown and Cullen, Inc., or BCI, submitted an estimate to the town regarding the ongoing case between the town and the Leytems. The 2002 case has been in arbitration for years, and neighbors, some of whom were in attendance Thursday night, would like the town and the Leytems to correct the drainage problems alleged created when the Leytems built a horse rink. BCI would charge the town $18,500 to create a report that could be submitted to court. The council balked at this amount, since this did not include fixing the drainage problems but only assessing them. The council asked Town Attorney Scott Walker to see what the engineering company would do for $5,000. Read the BCI proposal.

Thurman Kingsley gave the council an inexact estimate for the cost of a new town hall. "I got some numbers but I’m not sure they’re 100 percent accurate," he said. Kingsley said he thought a 1,000 square foot building would cost about $110,000 and a 1,500 square foot building would $130,000. He also said he thought that maybe it would cost $65,000 to close in the Civic Center, turning part of it into a town hall. At a workshop, the council asked for estimates of what a new town hall would run. Kingsley provided the council no documentation or other information about what would be included in his estimates last Thursday.

The town's accountant, Richard Powell, said in an e-mail that the town could most likely donate land to the school without receiving other bids, but the town would first have to declare that land surplus. He said the "greatest issue" with the town building a building for the school would be in assuming the loan in the town's name. See CPA report.

posted by Cher @ 11:05 AM, , links to this post

07.18.07 -- REPORT: Council to consider water rate increase

By CHER PHILLIPS

The McIntosh Town Council approved new proposed water rates last Thursday that could generate more than $18,500 in revenue for the town that would wipe out the deficit created by a water system that is not paying for itself, but doesn't account for pending repairs.

Current water rates are $6 for the first 5,000 gallons and 50 cents per 1,000 more than 5,000.

From the water rate plans presented last Thursday, the council decided the next rate proposal is $9 for the first 5,000, then 75 cents per 1,000 gallons used above 5,000 and then $1 per 1,000 gallons used above 10,000.

Last month, the council asked for a breakdown of water usage and several rate proposals from the town clerk. In May, the council discussed the need to plan to replace one of the water system pumps. The initiated a water fee to generate a fund to pay for pending repairs, but then repealed that fee a month later.

But preparing to pay for repairs isn't the only issue facing the council. The water system is not paying for itself.

Based on McIntosh water use year from the 2006-2007 year, next year it would cost the town an $18,492 deficit. Broken down, at the current rates, the projected water fund income would be $32,538 next year, while expenses could amount to $51,030.

The original proposed rates did not offer a three-tiered rate system the council agreed on last week. The third tier targets the high-volume users in town.



Half of McIntosh's water customers use 5,000 or fewer gallons per month. But some residents are high volume users, with about 28 percent of the town's water customers using more than 10,000 gallons per month.

The customer with the largest water usage in McIntosh is Sportsman's Cove with 3.8 million
gallons per year. The Cove has 41 permanent families, plus an unknown number of visitors who stay in the RV park. Even without the RV park included, the Cove's residents average out to be low-to-mid level water consumers.

But some McIntosh residents consume a great deal more water. The top single family homes use more than 500,000 gallons of water per year.

Single Family home Yearly Use
#1 user 828,860 gallons
#2 user
555,260 gallons
#3 user
553,520 gallons
#4 user
538,700 gallons
#5 user
506,210 gallons


The high-volume customers would be hardest hit by the water rate increase. Take the No. 1 single family user for instance. That customer's highest month of water use was 151,560 gallons. At the current water rates, the monthly bill for that customer was about $79. At the new rates, that family's monthly bill would jump to about $158.

The town's average water customer would see far less of an impact in their bills. Even the moderate users who fall in the 16,000 gallon per month range would have water bills around $21.

One consideration the council discussed was that by raising the water in a tiered fashion, the high-volume users might be inspired to conserve more water. This is one point which clouds the projected income the town could make from the water hike, if passed.

Water rates in McIntosh have not been raised in more than 10 years. The last approved water rate hike in the 1990's was revoked a year later. In an interview a year ago, Council Vice President Howard Walkup said the rate increase was a hardship on the elderly in town. The town has not raised the water rates since.

This current council killed a water rate increase last fall of an increase of $3 per month. McIntosh currently has the lowest water rates in the county. This reporter has not been able to find water rates in the state of Florida lower than McIntosh's.

Check out the town's total water consumption for the year: McIntosh Water Use
(While water bills are public record, I chose not to post names of users online. Anyone with questions about this decision can contact me.

posted by Cher @ 9:13 AM, , links to this post

07.16.07 -- REPORT: Council kills tree ordinance, repeals 2006 historic ordinance

By CHER PHILLIPS

The council made fall back decisions regarding the laws governing two aspects of that shape McIntosh's historic and aesthetic countenance.

After more than a year of work, the McIntosh Town Council tossed out a proposed tree ordinance written by members of the town's tree committee.

The tree ordinance traveled a rocky path undergoing rewrites after nearly every workshop and hearing before it reached last Thursday's public hearing, where council members finally killed it.

Councilman Lee Deaderick, who had been a vocal advocate against the new tree ordinance and steered discussion that reshaped the proposed law, said that the current committee did not seem to be able to come up with an ordinance the council would pass.

None of the tree committee members were present Thursday night. Under urging from Council President Frank Ciotti, Deaderick will now draft a new tree ordinance himself.

One issue council members had with the ordinance was that decisions made by the tree committee were to be held in public meetings. Council Vice President Howard Walkup stated again at Thursday night's meeting that he did not think a public meeting was needed to make the decision to take down a tree.

Florida's Sunshine Law says that contact between two members of a public board -- meaning meetings and therefore decisions -- have to be noticed and have minutes taken. The town's Tree Committee is a public board of appointed residents.

Therefore, as long as a public board is governing the decisions over which protected trees should be cut or trimmed, those meetings would have to be held in the Sunshine, as public meetings. The current ordinance already calls for decisions regarding cutting and trimming to be made in a public meeting, even though clause in the town's law has not recently been followed.

The council discussed a recent approval given by a tree committee member without a public meeting being held, as well as the town clerk giving approval to trim one of the limbs from a tree in Van Ness Park in preparation for the July 4 holiday. The council indicated they would most likely reprimand that tree committee member at a later meeting, when another citizen board member was reprimanded Thursday night.

The lack of an emergency clause for tree trimming and cutting was another issue council members had with the tree ordinance.

Over the last year, McIntosh applied to be a Tree City, U.S.A. The town's sprawling, moss-laden tree canopy is as much a part of its defining character as its historic district. Both the tree ordinance and the historic ordinance met with conflict when attempts were made to rewrite them in 2006.

During the same public hearing, the council repealed the 2006 historic ordinance for the second time, thereby eliminating it as McIntosh law. The historic board is now falling back to the town's old historic ordinance, which was voted back into law when it became clear that the 2006 ordinance would be repealed.

Walkup also attempted to remove Historic Board President June Glass from her post, but he met with no support from the other council members. Walkup said Glass did not wait 10 days to have an application to put a fence in her own yard approved.

Walkup also accused Glass of going onto other resident's property without their permission and accused her of not communicating with other committee members.

Glass, present at Thursday's meeting, denied the lack of communication. She and Walkup discussed the property she allegedly trespassed, saying she could see the property from the road and did not need to walk on the land owner's property.

Glass said she did get her approval for a certificate of appropriateness before the 10-day wait period because she thought that the fence would have to go up quickly, but that approval was several months ago and as of Thursday's meeting, she had not picked up the certificate to build her fence.

Walkup is no stranger to skirting rules himself. In January, he initiated and voted as part of the council to have the town take up rezoning his own land without excusing himself or declaring a conflict of interest. While Walkup has not been publicly censured, the council voted to reprimand Glass Thursday night for breaking the historic ordinance codes. A reprimand has no merit, beyond being tracked in the town's minutes.

The council created an ordinance this year that would allow it to remove citizen board members with a super-majority vote. A series of reprimands could give future council decisions the grounds to remove a citizen board member from a post.

posted by Cher @ 12:58 PM, , links to this post

07.16.07 -- Audio file: July McIntosh Town Council meeting

Download available: July 12, 2007 Town Council meeting (WMA 42.3 kb)


(MP3 flash player will be up Monday evening)
Listen to the July 12, 2007 Town Council meeting:
(Internet Explorer users may need to click the start arrow twice)














July 12 Town Council Public Hearing











Final vote to rezone Strange Ag land to residential
0.00.00
Final repeal of the 2006 Historic Ordinance

0:07:45
Tossing out tree ordinance



0:12:24
Regular Council meeting



0:35:11
Citizen board updates



0:48:12
Message from the Clerk



1:16:48
Water Rate




1:47:00
Mayor





2:04:05
Homestead exception for seniors


2:39:55






posted by Cher @ 11:22 AM, , links to this post

07.11.07 -- REPORT: Community meetings to discuss building a permanent school building

BY CHER PHILLIPS

Members of the McIntosh Area School Board and other school employees and volunteers will be hosting community meetings to discuss two options for building the town's elementary charter school a permanent building.

Linda McCollum said today that invitations would be sent to the town's registered voters inviting them to one of their neighbor's homes. McCollum said they used a mailing list of registered voters to send individual invitations, but that everyone is welcome to attend. Residents were divided into geographical areas and invited to the neighbor's home who was hosting a community meeting closest to them. (***Event organizers ultimately would like residents to attend the home they are invited to initially, when possible. While everyone is welcome to attend a session in town, the hosts in the individual homes are planning refreshments and to accommodate so many people.)

The neighborhood meeting schedule is as follows:

Sunday, July 15

2:30 p.m. Neil & Nancy Crenshaw’s Home, 6369 E. Place

4:00 p.m. Cary & Linda McCollum’s Home, 20900 9th Street

7:00 p.m. Randy & Celeste Brown’s Home, 20601 10th Street

Wednesday, July 18th

7:00 p.m. Sportsman’s Cove Screen Room, Hosted by Casey Girardin

7:00 p.m. Henry & Beth Nelson, 5758 Ave. F


McCollum said that the residents hosting the homes are either of volunteers or school board members. She said the meetings will be somewhat structured, but will include a question and answer time.

"At each home, there will be at least one board member," McCollum said. She said Jody Smith would be presenting at Sportsman's Cove.

There will also be a method for attendees to be able to fill out a form so the school's supporters ** (a better word here would have been event organizers, see clarification below) can give feedback to council members on how people in town feel about building a permanent school building.

The school board has narrowed down their options for a new school building to two for consideration. The first option involves the town retaining the property where the school is currently standing and taking on a loan to build a new school, which the charter school would pay back in a yearly lease. The other option could be for the town to sell the land to the school.

EDITOR'S NOTE:

*** CLARIFICATION made July 12: I spoke with Linda McCollum, the source for this story, this morning and she asked me to clarify a couple points. The first point surrounds the event locations, made above. The second was my use of the word "supporters" in terms of reporting the feedback. A better word here would have been "event organizers." McCollum's concern was that those who don't support the school might not attend these events or speak their minds. Though the organizers of these events do support the school, McCollum asked me to make it clear they want to hear feedback from both residents who do support and those who do not support building a permanent building for the charter school.

Labels:

posted by Cher @ 3:02 PM, , links to this post

Public Notice - Agenda for Town Council Meeting July 12

AGENDA
Town Council Meeting
July 12, 2007
Civic Center
Immediately Following Public Hearing at 7:00 pm

Anyone wishing to place a subject on the agenda may do so up to 72 hours before the meeting by notifying the Town Office.

I) Call to Order, Lord’s Prayer, and Pledge to the American Flag

II) Roll Call

III) Consent Agenda:
All matters listed within the Consent Agenda have been distributed to each member of the McIntosh Town Council for reading and study, are considered to be routine, and will be enacted by one motion of the Council with no separate discussion. If separate discussion is desired, that item may be removed from the Consent Agenda and placed on the Regular Agenda by request. Please call 591-1047 for questions on Consent Agenda items prior to the Council meeting.
A) Minutes of the Town Council Meeting of June 14, 2007 and Town Council Workshop of June 26, 2007
B) Financial Report for June 2007

IV) Guests:
A) Harold Geddes – Complaint re: Neighbor/Loud Noise

V) Citizen Board Committee Updates:

VI) Message from the Clerk:
A) Mosquito Spraying – Hired Part-Time Operator
B) Water tower telephone dialer – installed and operational
C) Town street resurfacing/drainage program
D) Employee cell phone reimbursement
E) Water rate plan

VII) Message from the Mayor:

VIII) Message from the Attorney:
A) Brown & Cullen Proposal Civil Engineering Services/Leytem
B) Low Income Senior Property Tax Exemption

IX) Old Business:
A) Land Development Code
B) Future town office plan
C) McIntosh Area School

X) New Business:

XI) Message from the Council:

XII) Citizen’s Comments:

Meeting Adjourned


***Notice to Board Meeting Attendees: As a courtesy to others, please ensure pager and cell phones are turned off during meeting***
Welcome to the Town of McIntosh Town Council meeting. All persons wishing to address the Town Council will be asked to limit their comments to the specific subject being addressed. However, in order to foster mutual respect between the Town Council and the public, it is requested that comments are directed at specific issues rather than personal comments directed toward Board members or staff.

Please note that if a person desires to appeal any decision made to any matter considered at the above meeting, that person may need to ensure that a verbatim record of the proceeding be made, which record includes the testimony and evidence which the appeal is to be based.

Labels:

posted by Cher @ 1:57 PM, , links to this post

Editor

Editor and Publisher:

I'm Cher From McIntosh, FL I'm a graduate student at the University of Florida working on a master's degree in Mass Communication. While I was finishing my undergrad degree in journalism last year, I reported on McIntosh, Fla. for an in-depth reporting class. I figured that the reporting and the public record files should go somewhere people can access them. Reporters don't report to keep the information they find to themselves. Some of that reporting is included here in a forum that allows response. McIntosh suffers because with no news coverage, the local government and the rumor mill have too much potential to run rampant over residents. I moved to McIntosh in the fall of 1999. My profile

About This Blog

The primary purpose of this blog is to accurately reflect what happens in town public meetings and dispel rumors. I record the meetings and make them available for download. One of the goals of this blog is to offer residents a place to voice opinions. The comments, views and opinions expressed there are not necessarily those of the editor.

 
Web This Blog


"A Popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." - James Madison, 1822

"Personal journalism is also not a new invention. People have been stirring the pot since before the nation’s founding; one of the most prominent in America’s early history was Ben Franklin, whose Pennsylvania Gazette was civic-minded and occasionally controversial." - Dan Gillmor, 2004, We the Media

News Tips:

Call 352-363-0234

Archives



Previous Posts

Listen to meetings online:

Listen for yourself to McIntosh Public meetings. Digital recordings are available in the audio archive page of the blog. Audio Archives



Message from the Editor:

The news blog covers McIntosh, Fla. We strive to be accurate in our reporting. If you believe you something is inaccurate, please e-mail Cher Phillips at philicher@aol.com.

I would like to know more about how the blog serves you and the community, what I can do better and generally what you think. I've created an anonymous survey. Please CLICK HERE to take a survey about the blog and give me your input.

Powered By

Powered by Blogger


Add to Technorati Favorites


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial -Share Alike 3.0 United States License.