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Town of Ponce Inlet
Mayor’s State of the Town Address
January 21, 2021

Happy New Year!  With the start of a fresh New Year, many of us take time to reflect on the prior year.  The Town does this as well and we provide this information to you each January through this annual State of the Town Address.

Town’s Financial Health.  We’ll start with the financial health of our Town.  The Town received another excellent audit for the prior fiscal year.  We have a general fund reserve of approximately 2.8 million dollars, which equates to approximately 6 months of our current operating expenses.  The Town has a long-established goal to keep the general fund reserve at a level between 3 and 9 months of operating expenses.  The Town’s composite millage rate at 19.4726 mills remains the 5th lowest out of 24 primary service delivery taxing districts in Volusia County; the Town’s specific millage rate is 5.9 mills of this total composite amount.  We strive to meet our stated mission to provide you with excellence in service delivery while ensuring you obtain the greatest value for your tax dollar.  With that in mind, I’ll describe some of the specifics of what we have done this year in this Address.

Town’s Response to COVID-19.  2020 was wrought with the unprecedented challenges of the Coronavirus Worldwide Pandemic, also known as COVID-19.  We pooled our executive and elective resources with Volusia County and our neighboring cities to navigate this collectively to reduce confusion.  There were weekly meetings of Mayors, City Managers, Fire Chiefs, Finance Directors, and HR Directors; some of these meetings continue today to ensure interlocal coordination remains intact through this event.  The Spring of 2020 was a period of information overload; many expected governments to respond with force and mandates while others cited personal liberty concerns.  Park closures, temporary facility closures, reduced capacities, face masks, quarantine, daily body temperature monitoring, plexiglass barriers, cancellation of events, Zoom meetings… We all experienced these inconveniences.  The Town reopened its facilities as quickly and as safely as possible.  We still offer the Zoom meeting option for all Town Council and Town Board meetings; we have done this since May and will continue to do this at least until our most vulnerable population has had the opportunity to receive vaccinations.  We maintain our plexiglass barriers, we require masks of employees and masks of the public if entering our restricted work areas, and we check employee temperatures each day.  We continue these prudent protection measures for the welfare of all.  Our staff timely filed and attained all of the COVID-19 funding available to the Town from various sources, which totaled $160,873.  We used approximately $25,500 of this funding for a significant infrastructure upgrade that we promptly initiated to enhance air quality in our government-owned buildings for the safety of our employees and citizens.  This was the addition of ultraviolet lighting to our air conditioning systems.  Buildings completed include the Community Center, Town Council Chambers, Town Hall, and the Police, Fire, and Public Works Department buildings. UV lighting is used in the air handlers as an efficient means of killing germs, bacteria, and viruses as air processes through the system.  We hope you and your loved ones have been fortunate and remained healthy through this pandemic.  We know that some people who have contracted the disease have mild symptoms, while others become very ill and sometimes die.  Our hearts go out to those who have suffered with this illness. 

Fire-EMS Service Discussion.  I know that many of you are interested in hearing from me on the subject of contracting Fire-EMS service to Volusia County and I want to make sure that I provide you with all of the factual information that we have obtained to date, understanding that there will be more to come in months that follow, and possibly even more information will be available between the time that we prepare this and the date it is published.  I have sworn to always do my best as your Mayor to provide you with honest and fact-based information.  Ponce Inlet citizens deserve nothing less.

Town’s Request:  Over the past two years, the subject of the number of firefighters needed per shift, type of equipment needed, and possible advantages in contracting fire services has come up in a variety of forums.  There have been estimated efficiencies to include greater access to additional personnel and equipment when paying for a service from a larger agency when service level requirements are the same, which they are for Fire-EMS service.  Several months ago, the Town Council requested that the Town Manager obtain a quote from Volusia County and find out more about contracting Fire-EMS service.  Volusia County staff provided proposals which include two staffing options: one with four firefighters on a shift and one with five firefighters on a shift.  These two staffing options are broken out with two contract options.  One option is to contract the maintenance and replacement of vehicles and equipment and one is for the Town to continue to maintain vehicles and equipment.  In any scenario, the Town maintains ownership of the fire department facility.

Call Process:  The process for placing a call to the fire department would not change from what occurs now.  All calls are currently received and dispatched through the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office dispatch center to each fire department within Volusia County, whether a city or county operated fire department.

Personnel:  All of the Town’s present personnel are to be retained at no less than their current pay rates.  Many, if not most, of the Town’s firefighters would receive pay increases with a transition into the County pay band system.  Both the Town and Volusia County provide the same retirement system, so there is no retirement plan change.  Volusia County firefighters receive a full array of employment benefits at least equivalent to those currently received by the Town’s firefighters and have greater promotional opportunity.

Qualifications & Training:  Volusia County’s Fire-Rescue Department is currently among the elite agencies striving toward national accreditation status to develop higher standards and greater accountability to their citizens.  Volusia County Fire-Rescue operates a full-service training facility, in conjunction with Daytona State College.  In addition to other training opportunities provided by Volusia County, their firefighters visit the training center throughout the year to take classes, maintain fire and EMS re-certification, as well as training to meet ISO requirements.  The site is also used for multi-agency training and provides a variety of educational programs for numerous governmental agencies throughout the year.

Equipment:  If the Town chooses to contract Fire-EMS Service, there are two options regarding equipment: Town maintains the equipment or County maintains the equipment.  The value and anticipated replacement costs have been calculated into the County equipment maintenance proposal.  Except for the new ambulance that we have ordered for the coming year, the majority of the Town fire department’s large-scale equipment is reaching the end of its lifespan and will have to be replaced within the next couple years.  If contracting with Volusia County, their entire Fire-EMS protection system becomes available to us and it is built with sufficient redundancy to ensure that equipment is available if a sudden replacement is needed.  They report having a highly robust equipment replacement system and use top of the line, state of the art equipment.  If accepting responsibility for the Town’s fire service, the County would perform a risk assessment of Ponce Inlet and make recommendations on the equipment needed to mitigate the specific types of fire risks that we have in our community.

Patient Transport:  The Town is currently allowed to transport under the Municipal Transport Agreement and has been afforded this opportunity under some form of agreement since 2012. This is not a municipal right, but we collectively participated in negotiations for this with all of the cities within Volusia County that choose to transport. One of the requirements of the Municipal Transport Agreement is to respond outside of your city’s jurisdiction for certain priority calls based upon closest unit response. This means that in order to be able to transport Ponce Inlet residents, we have to respond to calls outside of Ponce Inlet when dispatched. This issue has been raised a lot in the past year with statements made about the Town’s personnel being sent to Port Orange, Daytona Beach Shores, etc… Until now, there has been only one other option: cease Ponce Inlet’s fire-based transport and wait for EVAC for every call. Now, under the County’s proposal, a Volusia County Special Service District could be created for only Ponce Inlet and Wilbur-by-the-Sea and the transport response from our fire department facility under County operations would be limited to that area.

Cost Comparison:  A comparison of costs show that personnel-wise, the Town’s expenses are comparable for shift personnel and overhead costs.  When we look at vehicle and equipment costs, that is where we lose cost-efficiency as a single-station department because we are either paying for extra equipment or lacking redundancy.  

Performance Standards & Accountability:  Specific performance standards and accountability, to include monthly reporting to the Ponce Inlet Town Council, would be established in a service contract.  The Town would also have a liaison to the Volusia County Fire Chief.    

History of Fire-EMS Service Delivery in Ponce Inlet:  For approximately 20 years, the Town of Ponce Inlet has provided professional Fire-EMS service with full-time staff.  The Council of 1994 took what was considered a controversial step toward our current model by initiating a hybrid model to blend professional firefighters with their long-standing completely volunteer service; over the several years that followed, this grew to become our current Fire-EMS Service model.  In the past 20 years or so, the Town’s Fire-EMS service model has remained pretty much the same with the exception of adding the internal transport component and recently one more firefighter per shift.  Yet, over these same 20 years, almost all of the Town’s condominiums have been developed, dramatically larger single-family homes have been built, increased historical structure preservation efforts have taken place, including the Pacetti Boarding House restoration project which will soon be underway, and more businesses have come to Ponce Inlet.  These significant changes in our community indicate a review of our service delivery is prudent to ensure the continued health, safety, and well-being of Ponce Inlet residents and their property. 

Summary:  There are a lot of factors to consider regarding the provision of Fire-EMS services and we have attempted to break them down into the various preceding categories.  Ultimately, this decision should be based upon which entity can provide the highest level of Fire-EMS protection using nationally established standards for the benefit of the Town of Ponce Inlet’s residents.  The Town Council welcomes your input in these discussions in the coming months.

Pollard Park “Grand” Opening.  In February 2020, the Town reopened the Officer Timothy Pollard Memorial Park, located at 4680 South Peninsula Drive, after completing an approximately one-million-dollar renovation project for which we received about forty percent of the funding from Volusia County ECHO.  We were very excited to be able to offer this fun recreational park for our citizens of all ages to use and had a Grand Opening planned for March.  Unfortunately, we not only had to cancel the Grand Opening but we had to close the park very shortly after opening it because it was attracting large groups of people and there were executive orders against that at many levels of government due to COVID-19.  We knew so little in those early months about surface contamination and masks were scarce.  It was great to reopen it after a few weeks and to continue to see so many active residents playing in this park now.

Davies Lighthouse Park Project.  We had barely completed our work at Pollard Park before we started the improvements project at the Kay & Ayers Davies Lighthouse Park, at 4931 South Peninsula Drive.  This project was budgeted at $350,000 for sidewalk widening to eight feet, decorative lighting along the sidewalk, new pirate ship playground equipment with artificial turf in the playground area, and new picnic tables and bench swings around the park.  This project was completed in November.  We hope that you are enjoying the renovations to this park and the new opportunity to stroll in this historic area in the evening hours with the addition of the lighting. 

Elber’s Park.  At the Cultural Services, Historic Preservation, and Tree Advisory Board’s request, the Town updated the survey of Elber’s Park and the right-of-way in the area for consideration of improvements to this small park located at the end of Beach Street, just off of Front Street.  The Cultural Services Board will continue discussions regarding this park in the coming year and may propose recommendation to the Town Council.

Vice-Mayor Lois Paritsky recognized as Home Rule Hero.  The Florida League of Cities recognizes an individual as a Home Rule Hero for consistent response to the League’s request to reach out to members of the State Legislature and to help give local perspectives on issues.  These individuals are considered some of the greatest advocates for municipal issues, and the League calls them “a shining example of local advocacy in action”.  Ponce Inlet is proud that Vice-Mayor Paritsky has been recognized by the Florida League of Cities for the past two years as a Home Rule Hero.

New Chief of Police & Deputy Fire Chief.  In the months preceding the pandemic closures, the Town had initiated a search for a new Chief of Police and a Deputy Fire Chief.  By the time we were ready to conduct interviews for both of these positions, it was mid-April and it was tempting to wait until after COVID-19 was over because we didn’t know this was going to be a one-year-plus pandemic event.  Our capable staff decidedly marched forward though to keep this process on-track using Zoom technology, even before we tried it for anything else.  Jeff Glazier, a 27-year veteran law enforcement officer and deputy chief with the City of Atlanta Police Department, was selected as the most qualified candidate for the Chief of Police position.  Chief Glazier holds a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Georgia State University and is a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics from the University of Notre Dame.  Noble Taylor, a 24-year veteran firefighter/paramedic and deputy chief with Volusia County Fire Rescue, was selected as the most qualified candidate for the Deputy Fire Chief position.  In addition to his experience with Volusia County Fire Rescue, Deputy Chief Taylor worked for the City of Memphis Division of Fire Services.  He holds a Master of Science degree in Operations Management from the University of Arkansas and is a Certified Florida Fire Code Administrator, an accomplishment achieved by few.  Both of these public safety management professionals have been a good fit for our departments and our community.  We are very happy to have them as part of our team and glad we didn’t wait until COVID-19 was over to hire these new Chiefs!

Police Lieutenant: Retirement and Promotion.  Lieutenant Mark Walker retired in September 2020 after 10 years with the Ponce Inlet Police Department.  Lt. Walker brought almost 30 years of experience to our department from the Ormond Beach Police Department when he came to Ponce Inlet and spent most of his last year as Acting Chief of Police.  After nearly 40 years of service in this honorable profession, we all wish Lt. Walker the very best in his retirement.  This was followed by a competitive internal promotion process in which Sergeant Corey Mead was selected as the department’s next Lieutenant.  Lt. Mead has worked for the Ponce Inlet Police Department for 24 years, so he is very familiar with our community and he holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from the University of Central Florida.  Congratulations go to Lt. Mead on his promotion!

Septic-to-Sewer Project for Ponce de Leon Circle.  Since February 2018, the Town has been pursuing grant assistance for a septic-to-sewer project on Ponce de Leon Circle.  We are very pleased to announce that after a great deal of perseverance by our staff, the Town has received approval from St Johns River Water Management District Board for a 75% grant for this project.  The remaining 25% will be split between the Town and the City of Port Orange via a cost-share agreement.  This project will not only provide a state of the art gravity sewer system but it will also provide stormwater improvements, a new street, and some water line improvements on Ponce de Leon.  In all, we have applied for 4 grants and a legislative funding request for this project.  In accordance with our Town Goals and Sewer Master Plan, our staff worked to obtain as much funding assistance as possible and we know they will continue to do so for future sewer expansion projects in our community.

Coastal Resiliency Planning.  As a community surrounded by water on three sides, Ponce Inlet took a leadership role in the region and invited the American Flood Coalition to make a presentation here in March. This led our Town Council to initiate planning efforts to improve the Town’s resiliency and capacity to adapt to changes in sea level. This Fall, the Town will kick-off a study to assess vulnerabilities related to coastal hazards and changing climate conditions, facilitate public engagement and education, and update “peril of flood” policies in the Town’s comprehensive plan. This effort will be used to guide future decision-making for development, infrastructure projects, and adaptation to projected sea level rise.  Coinciding with this effort, the Town has budgeted for and applied for a grant for a Watershed Master Plan.  This plan is the next step as we seek to improve our Community Rating System (CRS) which is currently at a level 5; an accomplishment shared by only two other municipalities in Florida and provides our residents with a 25% discount on flood insurance.  Completion of the Watershed Master Plan will allow us to move to a level 4 rating improvement and provide even greater discounts to our residents on flood insurance.  This is an ongoing and time-consuming effort by our staff, but it yields a quantifiable benefit for all of us living in this barrier island community.

Model Animal Welfare Regulations.  Our Town continues to distinguish itself at the forefront of animal protection, recognizing the status of animals as cherished members of our community.  We have amended our animal welfare ordinances in their entirety, setting forth clear standards for their application by our law enforcement officers.  Owner responsibilities and animal protections have been clarified and updated.  The protections in many of our ordinances have been reviewed and are in harmony with the Humane Society of America, the Florida Humane Society, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund.  We are extremely proud that this past year, other Florida municipalities have adopted one of our more significant protections, the anti-tethering ordinance.  This ordinance prohibits the chaining or tethering of unattended dogs as it is viewed to be cruel and inhumane to the animal.

Fire Protection Rating.  On December 30, 2020, the Ponce Inlet Fire Rescue Department received the results of its most recent Public Protection Classification (PPC) report from the Insurance Services Office (ISO). This evaluation typically occurs every 5 years, and a lower numerical rating translates into a greater level of fire protection and a possible reduction in property insurance rates. Ponce Inlet Fire-Rescue Department is proud to report that they maintained their previous ISO rating of 3, an ISO classification placing us in the top 14% of the 39,850 communities evaluated by the Insurance Services Office.

South Peninsula Drive Sidewalk Improvement Project.  As a small town with big goals in meeting your recreational desires, the Town continues to work with the River-to-Sea Transportation Planning Organization to obtain federal/state grant monies as the primary funding source for a sidewalk expansion project for eight-foot-wide sidewalks along South Peninsula Drive.  So far, this funding has resulted in the completion of a bicycle-pedestrian master plan and was followed by the completion of a feasibility study.  In 2019 and again in 2020, we applied for grant funding for the design, engineering, and construction of this sidewalk improvement project and have been placed on the TPO priority funding list, from which allocations are made based upon available federal/state funding each year.  Our project was submitted under the 10% local match requirement so, while we are aware that considerations have been discussed regarding increasing this requirement, we are of the understanding that our project will be considered under the funding requirements that were in place when it was submitted and prioritized by the TPO.  Timing can be everything, so we are hopeful that it lines up for us and that an affordable improvement to eight-foot-wide sidewalks along South Peninsula Drive, wherever feasible, will be coming to you over the next few years. 

Planning & Development Permitting.  Despite pandemic conditions, housing development continued to prosper in 2020, as demonstrated by the number of permits issued this year.  Over the course of the year 1,148 permits were issued (compared to 1,048 permits in 2019), including 17 for new single-family homes (compared to 13 in 2019).  We conducted 2,536 inspections with an 98% pass rate (compared to 1,551 with an 89% pass rate in 2019).  Our staff works to assist contractors in understanding the requirements of the Florida Building Code with the primary goal to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of our residents.  In addition, the Town has implemented over-the-counter building permitting for mechanical permits, sewer connection permits, simple electric permits, and simple plumbing permits.  We are also working toward online permitting as an option, but it is not our intent to eliminate the ability for face-to-face interactions with our staff.  We remain ready to meet your permitting needs according to your preference.

Town Events.  The majority of 2020’s Town events looked a lot different than usual.  We started off the year with the Historic Racing Parade and Ponce Preserves the Planet, and those were the last of the Town-sponsored events conducted in our usual manner.  Our Cultural Services staff came up with various online crafts and speakers to provide you with some enjoyment from the safety of your homes.  Our September 11th Ceremony was our first virtual event.  We conducted a “Spooktacular” Halloween Drive-Through that was a nice event even though we under-estimated the turnout, having never done it before.  Our Christmas Tree Lighting was held virtually as well.  Even Santa could only drive-by and wave “Ho, Ho, Ho” this year.

Volunteers.  We know that we are not the only ones who work for our Town.  We have about 60 volunteers whose work is directly related to Town government, and there are many other volunteers who give of their time to other various community clubs.  In total, there are at least 22 different boards, clubs, or other organizations for a census population of just over 3,000.  These volunteers make our Town the special place we all enjoy.  On behalf of the Town Council, I want to say thank you to all our volunteers and welcome additional residents to get involved as their time, talents, and capabilities permit.

All of you, just like all of us, are ready for a better year ahead.  I certainly wish all of you a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year! 

Respectfully yours,
Gary L. Smith, Mayor


Happy New Year to all of our Ponce Inlet Citizens!  We celebrated the holidays differently this year, but we hope you found your own way to have a special holiday season.  Thank you for your generosity in giving to the Town’s Heart of Ponce Inlet food and toy drive, for those who are less fortunate in our surrounding area.  Many of our Town employees actively participated in this charity event or others.  Ponce Inlet citizens and Ponce Inlet employees share the value of a strong commitment to the welfare of those around us who are less fortunate.  As we enter our new year, many of us are focused on Covid-19 vaccinations.  The Town will continue to share the information provided by the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County with you regarding vaccination opportunities.  Please sign-up for our e-mail notifications on our website to have this information sent directly to you and follow us on Facebook to see the information on your newsfeed.

Ponce Inlet Employee of the Year!

Dave Hooker, Code Compliance Manager, Planning & Development Department

Congratulations go to Dave Hooker who was selected by his peers as the Town’s Employee of the Year for his work in 2020.  Mr. Hooker was hired by the Town in 2015 as the Code Enforcement Officer.  He had previous experience in this position both in Ponce Inlet and in other neighboring communities.  In 2018, Mr. Hooker had earned the appropriate certifications and was given the additional task of fire inspector with his title being changed to Code Compliance Officer.  In 2019, Mr. Hooker was promoted to the position of Code Compliance Manager in recognition of the general independence in which he performs most of his work.  Mr. Hooker handles all aspects of the Town’s Code Enforcement process: notification to homeowner of violation and method to remedy, the notices for the board process if unable to be resolved prior, filing of a lien if required, and filing the release of lien when authorized.  Mr. Hooker processes all the Town’s rental permits, maintains the records and ensures compliance related inspections are performed.  Mr. Hooker takes the initiative each year, before hurricane season, to make sure all supplies are ordered and stocked up for the Planning & Development Department in the event of a hurricane or emergency.  He helps update emergency forms to ensure contact information with contractors for jobsite safety and the list of current/active contractors to provide to the residents if needed and to keep staff informed.  Mr. Hooker has also created and organized the damage assessment process for his fellow development staff members to know their roles and responsibilities following a disaster.  His experience and knowledge in emergency management are of great help to the department in staying ahead of each storm and remaining prepared.  In addition, Mr. Hooker has for several years served on the Florida Leagues of Cities Legislative Committee and works with other League members to establish State Code Enforcement legislative priorities.  Mr. Hooker works well with other departments and is always ready to lend a helping hand.  Mr. Hooker is a dedicated and professional asset to the Town of Ponce Inlet and a key member of the Planning & Development Department’s team.  We are proud to recognize Dave Hooker as the 2020 Employee of the Year!   

Retirement of Planning & Development Director, Aref Joulani. 

After more than 13 years as the Director of the Planning and Development Department, Mr. Aref Joulani will be retiring at the end of February 2021.  When he joined our organization, the Town was in serious need of a well-rounded planning professional who could assist the Town Council and citizens in their efforts to chart the future of Ponce Inlet.  The Town was in need of an update to its Comprehensive Plan, a rewrite of its Land Use and Development Regulations, a full assessment of its permitting fees, and the department was struggling with internal growing pains that come from the increasing demands for service and professional work product without the funding to match.  Mr. Joulani had the experience, skills, and commitment needed to do the job.  Prior to moving to this area with his wife and two daughters, Mr. Joulani served the citizens of Monroe County (Florida Keys) as their Director of Planning and Environmental Resources.  During his tenure in Monroe County, he developed and implemented a major initiative named “the Essential Piece”.  Its goal was to promote performances excellence in a cooperative working environment where process redundancies were reduced to a minimum and quality customer service was given a high value.  In Ponce Inlet, Mr. Joulani put his initiative to use once again and began realigning the department; setting forth work-flow procedures, delegating responsibility where appropriate, and ultimately creating the cooperative, highly professional planning & development department that we have today.  

While the Town was overdue for a Comprehensive Plan update upon Mr. Joulani’s arrival in 2007, he has now seen us successfully through two full Comprehensive Plan Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) initiatives (2008 & 2015) to review for any major state-mandated concerns, local planning issues, and provide an in-depth assessment of the effectiveness of each of the Comprehensive Plan’s established goals, objectives, & policies, and prepare a description of any necessary plan amendments to address any issues found.  Mr. Joulani has been a strong advocate for a safe, walkable community.  He was instrumental in achieving the completion of the Town’s Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan, followed by a Feasibility Study and worked to obtain grant funding for each via the Transportation Planning Organization.  He has since been seeking this same grant funding for the design, engineering, and construction of an 8-foot sidewalk along South Peninsula Drive, where feasible.  Mr. Joulani was the Town’s project manager for the development Ponce Preserve phase II and Timucuan Oaks Garden.  He employed his design skills to enhance these projects in a cost-efficient manner.  The Ponce Preserve phase II project consisted of the addition of a boardwalk to the beach, a playground, restroom facility, an observation tower, a pergola, walking trails, fitness equipment along the trails, and two parking lots.  The Timucuan Oaks Garden project included a trail, a boardwalk, gazebos, a kayak/canoe launch facility, a pergola, pavered walkways, a picnic gazebo, restroom facility, and a fountain surrounded by garden landscaping.

Mr. Joulani has been a Director of high impact and a great benefit to the Town, particularly to the Planning & Development Department.  We thank him for all of his hard work and dedication and we wish him the very best in his well-deserved retirement!

Appointment of New Planning & Development Director, Mike Disher. 

Almost 3 years ago, in prudent preparation for Mr. Joulani’s retirement, we hired Mr. Michael Disher as the assistant director of this department.  Mr. Disher has had the opportunity to work with Mr. Joulani on many of the Town’s projects and to help the department catch-up on many of its goals and to establish and meet some new ones, while keeping up with all of the current development activity of the department.  Mr. Disher had previously worked for the Town as the senior planner in this department (2011-2016) and then worked for Volusia County for a few years, further expanding his experience before returning to the Town.  Mr. Disher has 22 years of experience in the field of urban planning.  He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Geography & Global Policy Studies from the University of Georgia in 1993, his Master of City / Urban & Regional Planning degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1997, and his American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) certificate in 2000.  Council, Boards, and Staff working with Mr. Disher and find him to be extraordinary in this field of work and a great fit for our community.  Effective March 1, 2021, he will be the Town’s new Planning & Development Director.

Ponce Preserve Boardwalk. 

Many of you enjoy the Ponce Preserve boardwalk, which is 1,746 feet long and provides a natural, scenic walk safely through the mangroves toward a stunning river view at the end.  A couple years ago, the Town made significant upgrades to the decking, from a deteriorated wood to a long-lasting composite material.  We will now be replacing the handrails along this boardwalk with this same type of composite material for improved wear.  We were fortunate to receive 10 proposals in our competitive bid process and we expect a contract to be awarded in January, with construction to begin in February.  There will be closures to the boardwalk during this construction project.  We will get information out to you in advance as this project unfolds.

Ponce Inlet Historical Museum.

The Ponce Inlet Historical Museum has been planning virtual alternatives to our normal in-person provided events. Through the video conferencing application, Zoom, participants near and far can engage in programs from the comfort of their own home. The Cultural Services Department continues to seek virtual programs moving forward, so please consider joining our museum educator, Emily Kovacs, on educational opportunities through cultural, historical and natural topics of Ponce Inlet. Contact Emily for the latest in programs offered at Suggestions for additional programing are welcome.

Town Holiday Closings.  Town offices will be closed on Monday, February 15th, 2021 in observance of President’s Day.

Town Businesses on Website.  Please check out our webpage for a directory of Ponce Inlet businesses.  You’ll be surprised by the variety of services so close at hand.  This is a compilation of those within the Town limits who have obtained the required business tax receipt (formerly known as occupational license).  This business directory can be found as a link to the Town’s home page –

Town Council & Board Meetings.  The Town Council meets the third Thursday of every month, 6:00 p.m. at the Council Chambers, 4300 S. Atlantic Avenue.  Special meetings are scheduled and noticed as needed.  The agendas are for all Town Council and Town Boards are posted at Town Hall, on the Town’s Facebook page and on the Town’s website. 

Keep up with what’s happening in your Town.  Please visit our website for all public meeting notices and minutes, general information, and status of current or upcoming projects.  Further, be sure to read the back of your utility bills for special announcements and important information.  If you haven’t already done so, please sign up for our e-mail list through the website.  If you have a Facebook account, please be sure to “like” us so you’ll receive information regularly on the Facebook newsfeed.



For over 34 years The Citizens for Ponce Inlet Organization (CFPI/C4Pi) has been identifying and honoring Ponce Inlet residents who have made outstanding volunteer contributions to our community

A “CITIZEN OF THE YEAR AWARD” is given annually to one resident or paid employee involved in volunteer work who has not previously received it.

A “LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD” is given to one or more citizens who have spent over 20 years volunteering in our community.  This honor may be, and often is, awarded to former Citizens of the Year. 

Nomination applications are being accepted by CFPI until February 19, 2021 at 12pm for each award. Applications may be submitted electronically or a paper form may be picked up at the Community Center and returned there by the deadline.  If you have any questions and are not a member, please “Join” through our website, (it’s free,) and “Contact Us”.


Volunteering strengthens your ties to the community.  It not only benefits your community directly but exposes you to people with common interests, broadens your support network and keeps you mentally stimulated.  It provides you with a sense of purpose and offers you a way to participate in fun & fulfilling activities all while making a positive impact on your immediate environment.

Ponce Inlet is a residential haven for those who value nature, quiet and privacy and for citizen volunteers it offers a small town lifestyle where you know your neighbors, have lots of friends, interact with fellow volunteers and town government employees and feel personally a part of your community.

Ponce Inlet volunteers have accomplished amazing feats over the years.  The Town of Ponce Inlet was created and Incorporated by a group of volunteer citizens.  Volunteers saved the Lighthouse by creating the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse Association, Inc. and petitioning the federal government to deed the Lighthouse property to the town. Through ongoing volunteer accomplishments, the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is now on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as respected as one of the premier Lighthouses in our nation. 

There are many town volunteer opportunities where you could help out right now…. In addition to The Citizens for Ponce Inlet and the C4Pi website needs, there is the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse Association, PI Community Center, Women’s Club, Garden Club, Lions Club, Veterans Association, and Historic Museum.   You can also share your time and talents by volunteering for Town Board Positions:  Planning Board, Code Board, Cultural & Tree Board and Town Council. 

Ponce Inlet Volunteers are valuable and necessary to preserve our small town charm.… please consider sharing your personal energy with whichever Organization or Town Board you feel would be the best to compliment your interests and talents.

To explore, in more detail, more specific volunteer possibilities or to discuss which Board, Club or Organization might be the best fit for you, please go to our website: and “Join” (it’s Free) then “Contact Us” in the top right corner of the Home Page.

Past Lifetime Achievement Award winners are our volunteer role models, you may recognize their namesAyers & Kay Davies, Tony Girolami, Constance Hunter, Gladys & Earl Davis, Edwina Knox, Wilda Hampton, Carolyn Sprague Hazel Dauksis, Bill & Shirley Hibbert, Jim & Mary Lou Hinson, Carolyn Diemicke, Robyn Hurd, Mary Hoss, Edson Graham, Sherry Utter.

Previous Citizens of the Year Award Winners may be reviewed here:


Getting Back into the Groove at The Community Center

Exercise Classes

The Community Center’s exercise classes should be in full swing starting in January.  The Aerobic/Toning Class meets Monday/Tuesday/Thursday 9am.  The Silver Sneakers class meets Tuesday/Thursday at 10:30am.  The Yoga class is expected to start in January on Monday/Wednesday at 6:30pm.    Please contact the office with any questions. The office is open Monday – Friday 9:00am – 12:00noon. 

Flea Market

CONGRATULATIONS PONCE INLET.  Again we have topped expectations with the most donations and the most money raised at the October 2nd and 3rd  Flea Market.  Go Ponce Inlet!  We are now accepting  donations, for our March 5th  & 6th  Flea Market.   Please drop them off into the large plastic bin to the left of the Community Center.  Keep in mind that items need to be free from stains, tears, missing or broken pieces.  We cannot accept printers, monitors or computers.  PLEASE HOLD ON TO LARGE ITEMS UNTIL March 4th at 1:00.  Becky Urlanbach and I would like to THANK YOU in advance for all the wonderful donations and all the people who donate their time to the Flea Market.  Your support on this function and others helps keep our community center running.  We sincerely appreciate your support.   

150+ Mile Garage Sale

Florida’s largest shopping extravaganza starts in Ponte Vedra and ends in Ponce Inlet.  There are hundreds of locations along the A1A coastal corridor on four Florida Scenic Highways!  The Community Center participated and sold out for those who wished to rent a table.  Shoppers delighted in the mix of treasures the multiple vendors we had to offer.  Don’t miss the next Garage Sale hosted at the Community Center.

Wrap It Up Fundraiser

As always, Ponce Inlet Residents are the BEST.  We received so many wonderful donations of supplies for our 1st Annual Wrap It Up Fundraiser.  Many people brought us their gifts to wrap.  It was a successful fundraiser and we plan on continuing the tradition next Christmas. 

T – Shirt Fundraiser

If haven’t seen them yet, they’re the hottest item yet!  Our Positively Ponce T-Shirt is a must to wear around town.  We sold out and will be getting in more as well as some children sizes.  Stop by the community center to buy your T-Shirt.

Soup and Salad Night

We will be hosting our annual Soup and Salad Night on Thursday, February 11 at 5pm.  Sample our bottomless variety of soups.   We will be offering eat-in or take out for $8/person.  Pick up your Tickets at the Center. 


Come to the center to meet new friends; Connect with old friends.  NEW at the Center this year is our once a month Game Day.  On the 3rd Wednesday of each month, anyone can bring a game, invite some friends or come alone to join others.  Why not learn how to play Mah Jong.  Challenge some friends to a game of poker.  Meet someone for a game of chess.  See you on our 1st day, Wednesday, January 20, 10am – 12pm.  (Games are not supplied)


The Community Center is available to rent for weddings, family reunions, birthday parties, anniversary parties and more!  Our eight-hour rental comes with many amenities:  10-person dining tables, buffet tables with floor length covers, table cloths and chairs.  There is also a dance floor, stage, ice machines, two refrigerators, commercial size kitchen and portable bar.  Contact Maureen Day at 386-212-3700 for information.


By Jane Magrady

Due to the Covid 19 virus, the Garden Club has not had any meetings for the past nine months and has placed all special events on hold. The club is still maintaining plantings around town and the Garden Club crafters are still meeting at PICCI on Monday’s from 10-12. Anyone is invited to join them. The club has installed a plaque in memory of Diane Smith on the podium in the PICCI.

Congratulations to the new 2020/2021 board!  When meetings resume, these ladies will be our leaders.  In the meantime they will be working behind the scenes to get us back to business.

  • President- Dorothy Beard
  • Vice Pres.-Pat Morris
  • 2nd VP- Joann Doyle
  • Treasurer- Lorene Mattei
  • Secretary- Diane Whitney
  • Corr. Secretary-Barbara Stewart

Congratulations to The Garden Club of Ponce Inlet Annual Holiday Lighting Contest 2020 Winners:

Residential Homes:

Fred Treadway at 4623 Oak Hammock Court.  His spectacular display is inside the gates at Harbor Village on the west side of Peninsula.  You can view it from the parking lot across the street.  Mr. Treadway was awarded a certificate and a poinsettia.  We are told that several elves helped him install this display!

Condo/Business: Sea Gull Landing Cabana on Jana Drive.


January/February – What to Plant:

  • Annuals/Bedding plants: Plants that can be added to the garden during the coolest months include dianthus, pansy, petunia, viola, and snapdragon, verbena, strawflower, and lobelia. Protect from frosts and freezing temperatures.
  • Bulbs: Crinum, agapanthus, and gloriosa lily bulbs can be planted now. Provide adequate water for establishment and protect from cold weather with mulch.
  • Camellias: Select and plant camellias this month. Visit local nurseries now for the best selection of colors and forms.
  • Azaleas: With azaleas in full bloom this time of year, now is a great time to select varieties to add to the landscape.
  • Deciduous fruit: Plant deciduous fruit trees now to give their roots time to develop before the warm, dry spring months. Prune and fertilize existing trees.

Keep in mind our words to remember “the seeds we sow today become the flowers of tomorrow.”


PIWC continues to be active although with a smaller number of our members. We met at the Racing’s North Turn for our Holiday lunch. Fun was to be had with the ladies who attended.

Ladies at Racing’s North Turn for Holiday lunch.

On December 5 we participated in the annual Daytona Boat Show with an entry by Kay Brawley. Although we did not win any prizes it was a great time.

On December 19 we hosted with the HRYC a Holiday Ball. It was great fun with much Glitz and Glamor.

Rhonda and Walt Glasnak
Kent and Shannon Arceneaux

Our 2020-2021 drive for Scholarship Donations is unique in that it is designed to be a donation to a education and training and therefore a taxable expense. At the Holiday Ball we raised anther $2400. Our current donation total is $11,400.

Our next meeting will be April 14, 2021. In an abundance of caution we have decided to cancel the January meeting to be held next Wednesday Jan. 13.

The following two meetings are scheduled to be at Down the Hatch in Ponce Inlet on February 3 and March 3 at 4:30. Racing’s North Turn is not available due to race and bike weeks.


Winter 2021
Creature Feature

By Nancy Epps, Ponce Animal Welfare (PAW) President

Welcome to 2021! I am sure hoping this will be a turnaround year for the virus and that we can resume more normal behavior by the end of the summer.

The big news for PAW this quarter was David and Cindy Israel’s kind gift of all the donated funds collected at their amazing Christmas lights display. The total collected was $688.43! In addition, many cans of cat food were also donated. Those of us who both care for the cats at the colony as well as assist citizens with any stray cat problems they have, etc., truly appreciate the support. (NOTE: This was not a town-sponsored project; it was strictly run by the Israel’s.)

Some of you asked about our 990 form that would document how we spend the funds. We gave up our 501 (c) 3 status a few years because we were not doing any major fundraising. However, our treasurer, Mary Ann Eicher, has all the records of how the funds have been spent to date. I can tell you from recent experience (2019 and 2020) that we have purchased a trap, taken three cats to the vet where they sadly had to be euthanized, and had numerous cats neutered to help prevent the explosion of free-roaming cats that results when they are allowed to breed. As I have mentioned in previous articles, the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine says that one mama cat who is allowed to continually breed can potentially result in 100,000 cats if all of her offspring are also allowed to breed! The goal of the Trap-Neuter-Return to field (TNR) program is to interrupt this cycle before any new cats are born in the wild. Although it will always be a challenge, the PAW TNR program has made a significant difference since its inception in 2009.

The two cats at our colony are still thriving. They have grown their winter coats and are really enjoying the fresh straw in their beds and on the ground. The straw gives them a warm place to curl up on the chilly nights we have had and will be having for the next few months. That is another way we spend the funds, by the way.

Have a safe winter and let me know if you have any needs that PAW can help with: or (386) 795-2310.


Winter 2021
By Nancy Epps, President

As I write this, the end of 2020 will be in 2 days. The year seems to have flown by in spite of the bizarre lockdowns, etc.

Lion Mahyar Okhovatian has been busy as our Vision and Hearing chairperson. First Step Shelter has contacted him for numerous clients who need eye exams and glasses, and he also has a contact at the clinic in New Smyrna Beach through which he is helping a client who needs vision services. He recently worked with Taylor Hearing in Edgewater to provide hearing aids to a woman who desperately needed them and she is thrilled to be able to communicate again.

We held our November 4th meeting in the private room at Down the Hatch (DTH) where we were so pleased to in¬¬duct Bob Day as our newest member. DTH had set the room up beautifully and Past District Governor Shel Reichard performed the induction ceremony with the appropriate mix of pomp and fun. We are always happy to welcome members of the community who want to share our joy of service. Immediate Past District Governor Greg Evans also talked about how not only Lions, but also members of the community, can help clean and sort recycled eyeglasses. This represents a wonderful opportunity to help others from your own home and on your own schedule. Please let me know if this interests you and I will give you more information. You can also experience the joy that serving others brings as well as camaraderie with some wonderful people by joining our club. If you want to attend a meeting to check us out, you can call Membership Chair Marian Schlaupitz at 386-756-0340 for information.

One of our more popular and fun events every year has been Barktoberfest, our version of Octoberfest that is dedicated to raising funds for the Paws for Patriots veteran’s assistance dog program of Southeastern Guide Dogs. We canceled the large dinner/dance event at the PICC this year in order to protect the health of our guests and members. However, we have determined we will work with some of our local restaurants to do some smaller replacement events and we did just that at Racing’s North Turn on November 10th. It was a sell-out plus 5, the food was great, and due to the generosity of Margo and Tom Whalen and our attendees, we raised over $12,000 for the Paws for Patriots veteran’s assistance dog program! We have committed to payments for three years to the endowment for Southeastern Guide Dogs and we will provide our eleventh Team Scholarship so another veteran to receive an assistance dog. Thank you to Rhonda and Walt Glasnak and staff and all of our wonderful friends for your support! For more information about the personal impact of the veteran’s dog program,
click these links: Link #1 Link #2.

Margo and Tom Whalen

Our Christmas party at Halifax River Yacht Club on December 2 was a great event, as usual. Awards were presented, carols were sung, and a good time was had by all!

Our annual spring 2020 golf tournament was also postponed because of COVID-19, but it is now set to take place on March 27, 2021 at Cypress Head Golf Club. This is an important fundraiser for the RJ Longstreet Elementary School (RJL) food program and the Paws for Patriots veteran’s assistance dog program as well as some of our other vital charities. There will be many prizes and lunch is included in the registration fee. For more information, call Ponce Inlet Lions Club Vice President Mark Oebbecke at (610) 716-0041. We need sponsors at various levels in addition to golfers. We continue to support the food and gift card program at RJL so that no family of a Longstreet student suffers from food uncertainty, and the golf tournament is the primary source of those funds.

It bears repeating that the Ponce Inlet Lions Club supports a myriad of significant charities including: Paws for Patriots, RJ Longstreet Elementary, Halifax Urban Ministries and the Hope Place Family Shelter, the Conklin Davis Center for the Visually Impaired, diabetes awareness, vision, hearing and much more.

Hoping for a great 2021!, (386) 795-2310


FLA Grant funds Principal Keeper Dwelling Roof Restoration

The Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Association is pleased to announce the recent restoration of the principal keeper dwelling roof.

This important project included the removal of modern asphalt shingles and the installation of pressure-treated western red cedar shingles to replicate the wood shake roof that was installed during the light station’s initial construction in 1887. Copper flashing and drip edge were also be utilized to mirror the roof’s original material composition. Deteriorated wood underlayment was repaired using reclaimed lumber dating to the late 1800s/early 1900s as needed.

The completion of the roof restoration project was made possible by a grant from the Florida Lighthouse Association (FLA). This generous gift was provided to the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Museum through the FLA’s Gene Oaks Lighthouse Grant program.  

The Florida Lighthouse Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of Florida’s 29 surviving historic lighthouses. FLA members include delegates from lighthouses around the state, historic preservationists, educators, lighthouse enthusiasts, and more. The mission of the Florida Lighthouse Association is to “preserve, restore, protect and defend Florida’s lighthouse towers, along with their material culture, buildings, artifacts and records to assure that the magic of Florida’s lighthouses and lighthouse keepers will be available for the enjoyment and understanding of future generations.

The Gene Oaks Lighthouse Grant program is funded FLA’s Visit Our Lights specialty license plate. This unique tag features a beautiful rendering of the Hillsboro Lighthouse at sunrise and is available at most Florida DMV offices and licensed service locations. In addition to its eye-catching design, all proceeds realized from the sale of the Visit Our Lights license plate (90% of the $25 annual specialty plate fee) are used to fund the preservation and restoration of Florida’s historic light stations. As a beneficiary of the Gene Oaks Lighthouse Grant program the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Museum highly encourages all of its members to consider purchasing a Visit Our Lights specialty plate when they renew the tag.

The Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Association would like to express its sincere thanks and appreciation to the Florida Lighthouse Association for its generous support and encourages all Ponce Inlet residents to learn more about the FLA by visiting its website at

The Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Museum is open daily to the public from 10:00 AM until 6:00 PM with last admission sold one hour before close. Don’t forget, all Ponce Inlet residents are admitted free of charge with proof of residency. We hope to see you soon!


This past November our Veterans Day ceremony had to be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Instead, at the Memorial, we put out our flags and wreaths and our members were there to meet and thank those who came to pay their respects and honor our veterans.  We had a steady flow of folks and we extend our appreciation to all who stopped by.

The Association would like to invite all local veterans and those who are still serving on active duty to join us.  The Association is a non-profit 501c(19) organization and our mission is to maintain our Memorial and promote veterans activities in our community.  Dues are $20 per year and meetings are held at the Ponce Inlet Community Center at 7:00 PM on the second Tuesday each month, except during the summer.  Contact Jim Hinson at 386-760-5448 for additional information or to obtain a membership form.

We are no longer selling commemorative brick pavers as we have run out of space.  We want to sincerely thank all of you who bought a paver to commemorate a family member or friend.  Your support has helped us build and maintain the Memorial.

And finally, if all goes well with the COVID-19 vaccinations and we get back to a more normal existence, we are planning to have a ceremony on Memorial Day at the Ponce Inlet Veterans Memorial at Davies Lighthouse Park.  Therefore, we would like to extend an invitation for all to join us on Monday, May 31, 2021 at 9:00 AM when we celebrate Memorial Day and honor those men and women who gave all while serving our country. 

The Ponce Inlet Veterans Memorial members wish all of you a wonderful and happy New Year.  May you all have smooth seas and following winds in 2021 as we move smartly out of a “different” 2020.


The Marine Science Center (MSC) invites you to read their latest newsletter.


Ponce Church meets Sundays 10:00AM at the PI Community Center: 4670 S. Peninsula next to the fire station. Everyone is Welcome at Ponce Church.


Seventeen years ago, the Lord led our family to the beautiful town of Ponce Inlet. One day while my husband was walking on the beach the Lord spoke to him and said, “There is no church in this town- I want you to start one.” In January of 2003 the Tidwell Family launched the First church in the History of Ponce Inlet. Over the years, we have ministered to many. We are a Christian non-denominational church that is active in obeying the words of Jesus by caring for the orphans, widows, and the poor. At Ponce Church, we teach the importance of obeying the words of Jesus through loving our neighbor. Matthew 25:31-46.


Join us January 30, 2021 for our 2nd Annual Care Pack Party to Benefit the Homeless Women in our City. There are over 200 Homeless Women in the Daytona Beach area. In 2015 studies estimated there are 565,000 Homeless in the USA on any given night–40% are Women. Statistics say Domestic Violence and Abuse is the leading cause of Homelessness among Women and families. 20-50% of all Women and Children become Homeless as a direct result of fleeing Domestic Violence. (The National Center on Family Homelessness and National Coalition for the Homeless.) The Homeless Women in our city are in constant need of personal hygiene products. Join us and help fill care packs with these essentials. For more info go to: Ponce Village Homeless Women Housing on Facebook for Care Pack Party Event information, or visit

PONCE VILLAGE HOMELESS HOUSING for Women and Men. Over the last 6 years we have served over 30,000 meals to our homeless friends and families in need in Daytona Beach. With PONCE VILLAGE HOMELESS HOUSING, we provide Housing Assistance and Roommate placement for our Homeless Community. To contribute, please visit, thank you.


At Legacy House, we prevent Homelessness and trafficking by providing Safe Housing for girls aging out of the foster care system. The Legacy Housing Project also provides a safe support system which allows our youth to graduate high school, enroll in a local college and obtain employment. The Legacy Housing Project is also working to provide housing for boys aging out of the foster care system. Visit  

Join Us Sundays 10AM at Ponce Church
4670 S. Peninsula in Ponce Inlet.  386-308-1533. Thank you.