NEW AT FIRST STEP PAGE 4
YOU. YOUR NEIGHBORS. YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.
FREE • OCTOBER 2019
VOLUME 1, NO. 2
‘Limitless’ possibilities on LPGA Q+A with Daytona Beach City Commissioner Rob Gilliland about LPGA development and growth PAGE 2
At home in Volusia
Pumped for Buc-ee’s Buc-ee’s first travel center in Florida breaks ground in Daytona Beach. PAGE 6
Former Seminole official finds new pace of life in Latitude Margaritaville PAGE 3 INSIDE SWEETHEARTS TRANSFER
Seabreeze employees get married, move to Lopez. PAGE 5
SEABREEZE WINS, NOW 4-2 See more photos on OrmondBeach Observer.com
Photo by Tanya Russo
Officials turn dirt at the groundbreaking for the new Buc-ee’s travel center in Daytona at LPGA and I-95.
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DAYTONA WEST OBSERVER
Observer “If we are to build a better world, we must remember that the guiding principle is this — a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy.” Friedrich Hayek “Road to Serfdom,” 1944
Q +A ROB GILLILAND, DAYTONA BEACH CITY COMMISSIONER
‘Limitless’: Daytona official on LPGA development of events. It was the city jacking up the fees it needed for water and sewer. It was the impact fees going up. It was charges coming from the Florida Department of Transportation, construction costs going up — it literally got to a point where they couldn’t charge $400,000 for a 2,000-square-foot home.
JARLEENE ALMENAS NEWS EDITOR
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ith retail businesses and real estate booming in the LPGA corridor, Daytona Beach City Commissioner Rob Gilliland understands transportation is an issue on the forefront of residents’ minds. Gilliland, who has represented Zone 4 in Daytona Beach since 2005, grew up in the area in the 1970s. He studied in the University of Maryland, obtained a degree in economics and returned to Daytona in 1996. The Daytona West Observer recently spoke with Gilliland, and this is what he had to say about the growth in his zone: There’s a lot of new development coming to the LPGA corridor. What do you think is important for residents to know now?
The one thing that always comes up is the little Tomoka River bridge. Prior to Margaritaville or Mosaic even being considered, that bridge was failing from a traffic performance perspective. The problem with the bridge is that a lot of people use LPGA as a cut-through. It’s projected that about 70% of the traffic that crosses that little bridge every day is from people outside of Daytona Beach. There’s been a lot of talk about impact fees, and the reality is, you can’t put an impact fee on somebody who lives in DeLand because they’re consuming traffic facilities in Daytona Beach.
At [the River to Sea Transportation Planning Organization Board] August meeting, Mike Shannon (Florida Department of Transportation District 5 secretary) acknowledged it was going to take a partnership with the county and other jurisdictions, presumably FDOT, to do something to fix that bridge. To replace the bridge, it’s looking to be something around $25 million. [The county] designated that whole corridor along I-95 and LPGA as an area where they can pool money. All the projects that are being built in Daytona — for example the Buc-ee’s gas station — is putting $3 million into that pot. What can you tell me about Buc-ee’s investment into the community?
It’s an interesting concept because they don’t allow tractor trailers. People hear about something that large and they assume it’s a truck stop, but it’s not. The store is going to be larger than the new Publix that is being built out of Margaritaville. I have never been to a Bucee’s, but what I’ve read, it’s a very responsible organization. I believe their starting wage is $15 an hour, and they offer benefits as well. It’s a nice opportunity for somebody to come into town and hopefully some of the other peer-industry folks recognize they’re really lagging in what they’re doing to compensate their employees. When they think of LPGA, some people may think of Margaritaville. What do you think is the community’s impact on the corridor?
The original project was going to be 6,400 homes in two phases. The first phase is obviously underway; the second phase, they couldn’t make the numbers work. It was a confluence
If you were to describe the future of LPGA in one word, what word would you use and why?
I would say limitless. With rooftops come retail and professional uses. The county is obviously well aware of the transportation issues that are in that area and are working hard to amass the funds that are needed to make those improvements. It took LPGA 20 years to get to where they were 1,000 [homes.] We are looking 5,000-6,000 in the next 10 years between other developments. These are folks that will go out and spend money in the community. It could eventually be almost a suburb of itself.
“The county is well aware of the transportation issues that are in that area.”
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DAYTONA WEST OBSERVER
Former Seminole County official finds new pace in Margaritaville Margaritaville residents: Meet your neighbor, Michael McLean. JARLEENE ALMENAS NEWS EDITOR
If it hadn’t been for aerobics, Michael McLean may have never discovered Latitude Margaritaville. While living in Lake Mary, his wife, Lisa, went to an aerobics class, and one of her friends informed her she was building a house in Daytona Beach. His wife asked for more details and came
home excited to tell McLean. He didn’t share her enthusiasm in the beginning. “My first thought was, ‘Margaritaville? And also being that it’s a 55-and-up-community, we’re going to listen to Jimmy Buffett all day long with a bunch of old coots.’” But, the former Seminole County commissioner changed his tune when he heard about the beach club in Ormond-by-theSea. He loves the beach, and having access to a private oceanfront club that provided a shuttle to and from the community was attractive to him. The McLeans have now been
living in Margaritaville for 10 months. It’s gone better than he anticipated, McLean said. They’ve actually just returned from a vacation in Hawaii, which they took with two other couples from their neighborhood. “It’s kind of like, when you were 18,19, 20, 21 years old, and you’re all in the same place in life,” he said. “You all have the same hopes and dreams and aspirations. Take that group and move them 40 years later, and that’s what you have in Latitude Margaritaville.” McLean, a Detroit native who is passionate about the University of Michigan, first moved to Florida in 1986. After meeting his
Brenden McNeil, Kaley McNeil, Michael McLean, Lisa McLean, Jennifer Twilley and Jake Twilley on the bridge over the Latitude Margaritaville community pool.
wife, they moved to the Orlando area in 1988. He opened up an insurance agency in 1994, which he sold last year, Froom 2000-2006, McLean served on the city commission for Lake Mary, before running for the Seminole County Commission, where he served from 2006-2010. After he sold his business, he realized he wasn’t ready to retire. So, he started McLean Strategies LLC, a governmental and business consulting firm. He recently graduated from the16th Ormond Beach Leadership Class, and forms part of the Ormond Beach Chamber. He’s on the Government Affairs committee. When he’s not busy in the community, you may catch him playing pickleball in one Margaritaville’s seven courts. He’s new to the sport, but three months ago, he played in a tournament, and his team won. “It’s an example of something I never would have been familiar with had we not made the decision to move to Latitude Margaritaville, or Volusia County for that matter,” McLean said. McLean has two daughters, Tera and Kaley, and, thanks to them, two sons-in-law, Jason and Brenden. He’s also a grandfather to three children: Jameson, and twins Weston and Violet. McLean can describe life in Margaritaville in three adjectives: Fun, simple and easy. “It’s not forced,” he said. “You don’t get the feeling that there’s anything you have to do, but there’s so much that you want to do.”
“It’s kind of like, when you were 18,19, 20, 21 years old, and you’re all in the same place in life,” he said. “You all have the same hopes and dreams and aspirations. Take that group and move them 40 years later, and that’s what you have in Latitude Margaritaville.” MICHAEL McLEAN
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DAYTONA WEST OBSERVER
Ormond-by-the-Sea resident to be First Step executive director Victoria Fahlberg said she is looking forward to garnering support for the shelter in the community. JARLEENE ALMENAS NEWS EDITOR
Victoria Fahlberg sees herself as a goodwill ambassador for First Step shelter. After many months of challenges with the shelter, Fahlberg was recently named the shelter’s new executive director, effective following the board’s approval on Monday, Oct. 7. She comes to the job with previous grant writing, fundraising and leadership experience; she served as the executive director of ONE Lowell Corp. in Massachusetts, and held various consultant and grant writing positions over the years. The Ormond-by-the-Sea resident has a doctorate in philosophy and psychology from the Union Institute and University in Ohio, as well as a master of public health in population and international health from the Harvard School of Public Health in Massachusetts, according to her resume. Going into her new role, Fahlberg said one of her main focuses will be fundraising for the shelter. “Right now, we have a need
for about another half-million dollars to make sure that it runs really well, and then we need more because we want to get it up to the full capacity,” Fahlberg said. While she didn’t get to experience the difficulties of construction, she said that going forward, First Step will face different challenges. For her, it’s important that as a unit, everyone involved with the shelter is able to move on from the past. “This is a really important and significant entity and everyone in the county needs to embrace it,” Fahlberg said. With a grand opening scheduled for Dec. 11, what the shelter needs to do now is figure out how to implement the vision of aiding individuals out of homelessness by providing temporary housing and access to services. That’s where Fahlberg feels she can help. Between now and when First Step opens, Fahlberg said she’s aiming to get acquainted with all the services offered by the community. She’s also hoping to meet as many people as she can — from Catholic Charities partners to the people the shelter
“Right now, we have a need for about another half-million dollars to make sure that it runs really well, and then we need more because we want to get it up to the full capacity,”
Photo by Jarleene Almenas
Victoria Fahlberg is the new executive director for First Step Shelter.
will serve. Fahlberg also said that the commitment of the board has been noteworthy, despite all the controversies and challenges. “How they have stuck it out all this time, how they have made sure that this vision has become a reality, is amazing to me,” she said. She has been on a number of nonprofit boards, and even had her own board at one point. Fahlberg said she’s never seen the same level of dedication from a board of directors. Once the shelter opens, it will need the community’s support,
IN PERSON The shelter’s grand opening is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 11.
she added. The shelter will need financial support, goodwill and volunteers. “[First Step] belongs to everyone,” Fahlberg said. “I would like people to feel proud of the homeless shelter that we’re going to be running.”
“This is a really important and significant entity and everyone in the county needs to embrace it.”
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Seabreeze High School employees get married, move to Father Lopez
SKYE MacDUGHLAS CONTRIBUTING WRITER
It all started on Match.com. More than two years ago, Christopher Stephenson and Buffy Briggs found love, as Briggs gave a virtual heart to an unsuspecting user. Both lovebirds were part of the Seabreeze family — Stephenson as an AICE teacher and position football coach, and Briggs as an administrator of 10 years with, she said, “many memories and bonds” at the school. One fateful night Stephenson was faced with a knotty dilemma. It was Christmas Eve 2018 when he was offered a coaching position at Father Lopez High School. “Did I want to leave Seabreeze? No,” he recalled thinking. “I love my job, and I love my students. But I’m a football coach and always have been, and so when this opportunity came, I had to take it.” No matter the circumstances, Briggs and Stephenson apparently were meant to be together, as Briggs got an offer to become the administrative assistant to
Christopher Stephenson and Buffy Briggs
guidance and a testing coordinator at Father Lopez — and of course work with her boyfriend. While the school-crossed romance seemed like a dream, she still had to come to terms leaving Seabreeze. Then, May 28, Stephenson proposed at Seabreeze. Hundreds of students and faculty flocked the scene. Stephenson even employed some students to hold up the letters as he played Jeopardy with his future fiancé in the courtyard. Briggs kept guessing until the jumble of letters soon became clear: “Will you marry me?” The kids grinned as they watched Briggs come to the realization, and in the next moment — teary-eyed — she accepted. The courtyard erupted to celebrate. So, Seabreeze said goodbye to two faculty members: Stephenson and Briggs. Their wedding was July 11 at Andy Romano Park, with Seabreeze faculty and staff attended the wedding. Erika Scott, the bookkeeper at Seabreeze, even married them. Stephenson recalled that they looked down to see “tons of Seabreeze kids below on the beach, just peering up.” Both began work at Father Lopez in August. And it’s not only Christopher who’s coaching football. Coaching girls flag football at Seabreeze was one of Buffy Stephenson’s fondest memories, and she felt that bringing the sport to Lopez would be like taking a piece of home with her. Skye MacDughlas is a student at Seabreeze High School.
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TANYA RUSSO STAFF WRITER
Gov. Ron DeSantis attended the groundbreaking ceremony.
A Buc-ee’s future
Photos by Tanya Russo
Buc-ee’s first travel center in Florida breaks ground in Daytona Beach.
Volusia County Council Chair Ed Kelley poses with Daytona Beach City Commissioner Paula Young at the groundbreaking ceremony.
onday morning, Sept. 16, dawned cloudy and rainy for the groundbreaking ceremony for the first-ever Bucee’s travel center in Florida, but spirits ran high as local and state officials, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, were on hand to celebrate. The new chain will be located on the northeast corner of LPGA and Interstate 95 in Daytona Beach, across from the Tanger Outlets. It will have 120 gas pumps, and the convenience store will be 50,000 square feet, making it the largest of its stores outside of Texas. The mega gas station chain is the brainchild of Arch “Beaver” Aplin, a Texas businessman, and his partner Don Wasek, who started from the ground up to provide customers with cheap ice and clean bathrooms. Since the original business, Bucee’s has grown to mega stores throughout Texas and is now expanding across the country. They are known for their food, clean bathrooms and specialty gifts. “When you go in there, you’re going to be able to get whatever it is that you need in one stop,” DeSantis said. “What you are going
Mascot Buc-ee Beaver was on hand to lend support to the new travel center.
to see is when people are going north on I-95, once word gets out about this, they’re gonna plan to stop right here at this place in Daytona Beach. That’s obviously going to drive more revenue here to the local community.” DeSantis thanked Aplin for planning to further expand in Florida with future stores to open in Fort Myers and St. Augustine. Buc-ee’s will support at least 200 jobs in the area, pay $15 per hour, with full health care benefits and three weeks of paid
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vacation. DeSantis said that will make a big difference for folks in Volusia County who are looking for work. “The fact that they are breaking ground here is a testament that Volusia has a really bright future, and Daytona has a really bright future,” he said. Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry shared his appreciation for DeSantis’ support of the Daytona area. Henry said Buc-ee’s gets 100,000 visitors a day. He talked about driving to the groundbreaking site with his son. “One of the exciting things is, I get to explain to him what’s taking place in our city,” Henry said. “Hopefully it will be a place where he will be able to live and raise a family with excitement.”
Henry was also hopeful Bucee’s would increase Daytona Beach tourism. “We want those visitors who are visiting Buc-ee’s world class facility to see the rest of Daytona Beach as a stopping place, a resting place and a place to visit,” Henry said. During Bike Week, could Bucee’s see 120 pumps filled with motorcycles? That, DeSantis said, will be the question.
“When you go in there, you’re going to be able to get whatever it is that you need in one stop.” RON DeSANTIS, governor
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Golfers Paradise Dream Home! This 4BR/3BA home, with an oversize 3-CG, offers a fabulous in ground pool with hot tub, fully screened. From the new roof to the emergency generator, wait to be impressed. Move in ready! $525,000 John Decarie 386-334-0996
Great Neighborhood! This 3BR/2BA just 2 blocks to the Halifax Intracoastal. Vaulted ceilings in living room. Ceramic tile floors in kitchen, livingroom and dining area. Beautiful wood floors in all bedrooms. Move in ready. Screened porch overlooks fenced backyard. Relax on the backyard deck surrounding your above ground pool.
$199,900 John Decarie 386-334-0996
Happiness Found! MOVE IN READY! Completely refurbished! This 3BR/2BA home has high ceilings and Newer HVAC. Close to St. John’s Boat Launch. Backyard shed and a metal Carport... A MUST SEE! $150,000 John Decarie 386-334-0996
Considering Buying or Selling Real Estate? Beachside Home! Fall in love with this 3 BR/2BA one-owner beachside home, walking distance to the beach. Large Master Suite with walk-in closet. Large screened back porch. High dry lot w/hurricane shutters. $389,000 John Decarie 386-334-0996
Call John Decarie!
Luxurious Oceanfront Condo! Bright, well maintained 2nd floor end unit. Like new, features custom cabinetry, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, crown molding, wet bar w/wine chiller, large walkin closet & private balcony. A perfect place to relax and enjoy the sea. Includes private oversize garage, two underground parking spots & storage area.
$575,000 John Decarie 386-334-0996
CO U N ND TR E ACR T! Lovely Views! 2BR/2BA unit with lovely views of the Daytona Beach Golf Course from the living room, balcony and Master Bedroom. A/C and Heating System new in 2015. New carpeting in bedrooms and tile in bathrooms. Spacious Master Bedroom with private bathroom. Nice sized living room and dining room combo. Did I mention building has a Brand new Roof. Great Return on Investment. Opportunity knocks!
$63,000 John Decarie 386-334-0996
Waterfront Lot! This vacant Lakefront lot can be yours! You will be delighted by the Fountains in the Lake. Friendly neighborhood, clean and organized. Very low HOA fee’s!
$60,000 John Decarie 386-334-0996
Great Location! This lot is just off US 1 in Ormond Beach, prime B8 Zoning w/ an affordable price. Just South of the I-95 interchange and the New Ormond Crossings. Opportunity knocks!
$49,500 John Decarie 386-334-0996
I speak French and my associates also speak Russian, Spanish, German and Arabic.
CALL ME TODAY! 386-334-0996 For all your real estate needs! Each Office is Independently Owned and Operated.
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