ABOVE: Coach Hutchinson (left) greets returning Mount Dora High School football players today.
Just as construction started on Mount Dora High School’s stadium improvement project, the school tapped a new head football coach.
Luke Hutchinson, recently an assistant coach at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, started today in his new role as the Hurricanes’ head coach today. A native of Fort Pierce, Hutchinson is entering his thirteenth year of coaching and has coached in both California and Florida. His coaching history includes a stint at Upland High School east of Los Angeles, as well as the defensive coordinator for the Riverside Notre Dame CIF Championship team in 2015.
Meanwhile, construction has started on the first phase of the school’s stadium improvement project. The improvements are due in large part to a community fundraising effort that garnered more than $1 million within just a few months.
Phase One of the construction project includes improved drainage and complete reconstruction of the football field, a rebuild of two concession stands, paint and landscaping at a cost of about $1.25 million. The school district contributed $250,000, the Mount Dora community raised $500,000 and the Mount Dora Community Trust matched the funds raised with another $500,000. Completion is expected in about eight months.
This is the starting phase of a five-year plan to upgrade the field and stadium, which was built in 1961. Future phases will include the addition of artificial turf and replacement of the asphalt track.
As part of the ongoing efforts to fund the other phases, a new Mount Dora cookbook will soon be available and residents are now being asked to submit their favorite recipes. Entries can be submitted by email to email@example.com or mailed to Mount Dora Recipes, 128 W. Fourth Avenue, Mount Dora, FL 32757. The cookbooks will cost $18.95 and pre-ordering is encouraged. Click here for more information.
Families and businesses also have the opportunity to purchase a brick with their name to be placed at the finished stadium. The proceeds from both projects will go directly to the stadium improvement project.
Our January 4, 2022 Mount Dora City Council meeting was fairly brief mostly because of the recent holidays. I chosen several items to highlight for you but please keep in mind that what follows come only from me. I'm not reporting on behalf of City Council as a whole.
Resolutions were read by Mayor Stile recognizing the service of former elected city officials; former Mayor Cathy Hoechst, former Vice Mayor Harmon Massey and former District 1 Council Member Pam Burtnett. All three of them were on hand. They all served our city with integrity and energy. I personally appreciate each of them for their willingness to serve. Their contributions have made Mount Dora an even better place to live, work and play.
I have championed an ordinance that would put a temporary moratorium on the consideration of any buildings over 35' tall in the downtown historic district until our Building Heights Advisory Committee completes its work in about 4 months time. My rational is that I want citizens to rest assured that there is no intent on the part of City Council to approve any taller buildings in that area in the near term. To my knowledge there are no projects that would exceed the current 35' and 25' height restrictions in the pipeline at this time. Some council members expressed their belief that this moratorium would hamstring City Council, but the first reading passed by a 5-2 vote with Gunther and Rolfson voting no.
Look for some improvements coming up in the downtown area where "landscape islands" are located mostly along Donnelly St. Two of those bump out features will be removed and drainage grates as well as electrical outlets near several others will be reworked to make them safer and less likely to require constant repairs.
I'd like to remind you that on Monday January 10th at 6:00 there will be a public presentation and Q &A about the proposed Mount Dora Groves development on either side of US Rt 441 between ABC Liquor Store and The Country Club of Mount Dora. That meeting will be held at the Community Building.
On Saturday January 22nd, please plan to drop of food or monetary donations for Lake Cares Food Pantry at the fire station between 10:00-2:00. This is a friendly competition with Eustis and Tavares. The food bank deserves our support. Thanks in advance for your support.
My quote of the day comes from former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. "I think it will take people, true patriots, on both sides of the aisle to say enough of this nonsense, we should all work together for the good of the people of the United States."
Thank you for your continued interest in our great community.
I've selected a few items from our December 21 City Council meeting to share with you. My Christmas present to you is that I'm going to keep it short tonight!
Please keep in mind that I'm not sending this out on behalf of City Council. It comes only from me.
The Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has representatives from the cities in our two counties and also from both County Commissions. One of their responsibilities is to prioritize needed transportation projects for funding. We heard a report from our MPO. Several high priority projects are in or near Mount Dora. Once the priority list has been finalized I'll let you know what roadway projects in our area will be forthcoming.
Two meeting are on tap regarding the potential Simpson Groves development on US Rt. 441 that I told you about two weeks ago. There will be a public presentation and Q & A on Monday January 10th at 6:00 in the Community Building. The project will come back before City Council at our January 18th 6:00 p.m. meeting. You are welcome to attend and participate in either or both of these meetings.
We got some very good news regarding some grants that Mount Dora will be receiving to help offset the costs of projects including a "Baffle Box" near Lake Gertrude. A baffle box helps maintain good water quality by filtering runoff water before that water runs into the lake.
After an long discussion Council voted 5-2 (Bryant and Stile voted no) to reduce a fine for uncut grass and litter on an empty lot located at 1209 Jackson St. to $5,000. The new property owner plans to immediately proceed with the construction of a new single family home there. In my opinion, that new house will be an asset to the neighborhood and produce property tax revenue for decades to come.
During our second meeting of the evening (Northeast Community Redevelopment Agency Board Meeting) we learned that Habitat for Humanity has raised $90,000 to match a like amount from the NECRA to renovate and upgrade 6 homes in the neighborhood. That's good news from my point of view.
I'd like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2022. My quote for you today comes from our 30th President, Calvin Coolidge who has strong ties to Mount Dora. "To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas."
Our December 7th. City Council meeting began at 5:30 and didn't wrap up until well after 11:00 p.m. As usual, I selected a few key items to tell you about. Please keep in mind that I'm reporting to you as one individual and not on behalf of city council as a whole.
We adopted a resolution to utilize Florida's state revolving loan fund to borrow $12 million to update our 40 year-old Wastewater Plant #1. This state financing option will allow us to borrow the needed money with practically no interest. We will also be pursuing a grant from St. Johns River Management District to help lower the cost of these much needed renovations to our taxpayers.
The bulk of our marathon meeting involved consideration of a proposed 224.56 acre development on either side of Route 441 between the Publix at Loch Leven plaza and the Country Club of Mount Dora. Most of this property is currently orange groves and it is currently outside of our Mount Dora city limits in unincorporated Lake County. The owners have decided to sell their property and they have selected a buyer who will develop it. The proposal is for about 18 acres of Commercial development on the south side of 441 and several types of residential options ranging from single family to high density on the vast majority of the property. This project would be one of the biggest expansions of property and residents in recent Mount Dora history.
There were two items on our agenda involving this property. The first one was a first reading to approve annexation into Mount Dora. The second item was another first reading of a "Transmittal Hearing Ordinance".
It seems likely to me that either or both of these items could be reconsidered at a future City Council meeting so I'm going to try to give you the facts of each one without offering my personal opinion that could violate my Sunshine Law obligations. I also want to say that boiling down several hours of community members' comments and council members' discussion into a couple of paragraphs is nearly impossible but I'll give it a try.
On the proposal to annex the 224.56 acres into Mount Dora, the motion, after much discussion was approved. The rational for annexation is that if the property is in Mount Dora, our ability to control the plans for future development would be enhanced.
The second item dealing with the Transmittal Hearing ultimately failed with Mr. Gunther and Mr. Rolfson voting in favor and the other five members voting against it. The majority expressed their interest in delaying approval for Transmittal for a for a month or two so that council would have some time to hold a work session discussion and a public meeting.
When the second (Transmittal) issued failed, the property owner's representative said that his client would no longer be requesting annexation.
It seems likely to me that we will all be hearing much more on this topic in the future.
The other big item on our agenda was a report by our City Attorney on the status of the building height initiative demands by a citizens' group. After hearing her report and lots of good discussion, a motion was approved by a 4-3 vote (Gunther, Rolfson and I voted no) to have our staff draft language for an ordinance to propose placing a Charter Amendment on the November 2022 ballot that would limit building heights in the downtown historic district to a maximum 35' and 25' near the lakeshore with some possible exceptions that would be recommended by our Building Height Review Committee that has been formed and has begun meeting.
Council will also craft a "moratorium" that will preclude any taller buildings being approved in the historic downtown area until the November vote.
I believe that our community needs to get this issue resolved and I think that this compromise will afford citizens with varying opinions the opportunity to get some closure.
I've got a quote for you today from Paulo Coelho who said, "The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion."
Thanks for allowing me to be one of your representatives on Mount Dora City Council.
Months after the departure of Mount Dora’s previous City Manager Robin Hayes, a new City Manager is finally in place.
Comiskey, a seasoned city manager with over 20 years of experience took over the position on November 15, 2021. Comiskey’s most recent appointments were as the top administrator to the City of Cambridge, Maryland, from 2018 to 2021, the City of Thomaston, Georgia, from 2002 to 2016, and the City of Wellsburg, West Virginia, from 1998 to 2002. In addition, Comiskey served as the Director of Purchasing and Personnel, and then as the Director of Personnel at the City of Clarksburg, West Virginia, from 1993 to 1998. Prior to working in local government, he was the District Executive for the Boy Scouts of America in Clarksburg/Parkersburg, West Virginia. Comiskey earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Florida, Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in Accounting from Middle Georgia State University and Master of Public Administration from West Virginia University. Additionally, he is an Eagle Scout and a Certified Purchasing Manager.
Patrick resides in Mount Dora with his wife, Jane, a native Floridian, and their dog, Weaver. He enjoys hiking with Weaver, reading and learning American and Irish history, exploring places with Jane, and spending time with friends and family. ] “The family and I are extremely excited to join the Mount Dora Community. I am confident that Mount Dora’s best years lie ahead of us,” said Comiskey. “We have a great team here and I’m excited to build upon that team as we continue to serve the residents of this great city.”
For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, click here. For local things to do, click here and for the area's free mobile app, click here.
ABOVE: From left is Mayor Crissy Stile and Council Members Nate Walker and John Cataldo.
Known for its festivals, quaint downtown and mossy oaks, little Mount Dora woke up in November to some big changes. For years, the city’s residents have predominantly been represented by active retirees, willing to give their time and experience to serve their city. The result was a cohesive council, but one that didn’t reflect the increasing diversity of Mount Dora or cultivate new ideas.
Fast forward to this year’s non-partisan election, and the result was extraordinary, not only for the large margins of victory, but also the dramatic change to the City Council's demographics. Three much younger representatives earned seats on the council and the trio also work full time.
Meet the new faces of Mount Dora City Council:
CRISSY STILE, MAYOR Crissy Stile, 45, moved to Central Florida in 1994 to attend Stetson University, after growing up in the small town of Fishkill, New York. She graduated from Stetson in 1998 with a B.A. in Accounting and continued to earn her MBA in 1999. After working for several large companies in accounting, budgeting and treasury, Stile knew she wanted to follow in her parents' footsteps and establish her own business. Today, she’s the owner/operator of Barrel of Books and Games, which has been open for over a decade in downtown Mount Dora. Stile loves the outdoors and tends to a community garden to grow food for the clients of Lake Cares Food Pantry, where she volunteers. She's also an avid cyclist, a rising pickleball player, a partner in programs with the W.T. Bland Library, a book club organizer, and a strong proponent of green initiatives. In the 15 years Stile has lived in Mount Dora, she has become involved in almost every aspect of the City. The new mayor, who won with almost 59 percent of the vote, lives in the Pinecrest neighborhood with her partner of 15 years, Elena, a registered nurse, and their three rescue dogs, Gracie, Toby and Brin. Stile stated the most important thing in her life is her family. She is the middle child of five and was raised by, she claims, the best parents in the world.
“The only promise I make is to always consider the thoughts and concerns of all residents and work as hard as possible to be a responsible voice to our taxpayers,” said Stile, who previously served on Mount Dora City Council from 2018 to 2020.
JOHN CATALDO, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT 1 John Cataldo, 57, is passionate about helping people. Thoughtful growth, progress and historic preservation will be among the priorities of his term on Mount Dora City Council. Together with his partner Arthur Natale, John has been a resident and business owner in Downtown Mount Dora for sixteen years, operating the award-winning Adora Inn. The two turned their 105-year-old building into a boutique, hotel-style bed and breakfast. Since then, they have been hosting travelers coming to Mount Dora from all over the world. John was born and raised in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan, the youngest of seven children. Having a mother who was a terrific cook, he always loved food and chose to attend the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York, and graduated in 1985. John’s educational experience opened the door for a successful 35-year career in the hospitality and tourism industry.
Having served on the Economic Advisory Committee and Planning & Zoning Commission, John, who won with nearly 64% of the vote, hopes his experience and dedication will help address the concerns of District 1 and guide Mount Dora’s growth in a positive direction.
NATE WALKER, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT 5 A lifelong resident of Mount Dora, Nate Walker, 47, is the first councilmember to represent the newly created District 5. He is a graduate of Mount Dora High School and has worked in the telecommunications industry for 25 years. Walker and his wife Sheree have been married for 20 years and have six children and three grandchildren: Kyson, Kyla and Kinsley. Walker has a long history of advocating for the Northeast Community and is passionate about working with and serving the community in various capacities. He has served on both the Northeast CRA Advisory and Charter Review Committees, and is Chairman of the Steward Board at Bethel I.F.M. Church. “I’m honored to be afforded the opportunity to continue to serve the city that I love, and I’m excited about the future of Mount Dora. I look forward to listening to the residents, working with fellow council members and staff to make Mount Dora someplace special,” said Walker.
MARC CRAIL, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT 4 Although Marc Crail isn't one of the three new faces on council representing the demographic shift, it’s important to note that he ran unopposed in the election and will serve again as Mount Dora City Council representative for District 4, which includes Lakes of Mount Dora. Crail brings along his years of experience on the council and as a former teacher and School Superintendent to benefit the city.
By Marc Crail District 4 City Council Representative
There was a large crown on hand in the Mount Dora Community Building for the November 16th City Council meeting. I've been through this changing of the guard a few times now and it still stirs my emotions to be sworn in along with the others who will make up our City Council. Many thanks go out to Mayor Cathy Hoechst, Harman Massey and Pam Burtnett who served our city and our citizens so well and so faithfully. Our new additions are Mayor Crissy Stile, and council members Nate Walker and John Cataldo. Their friends, relatives and supporters welcomed them as did the rest of your city council members. This was also the first meeting for our brand new City Manager, Patrick Comiskey who along with his family has arrived from Cambridge, Maryland only last weekend. New energy and ideas are always important as we move forward.
There is something uniquely American in a peaceful and respectful transition of government leaders. There were Boy Scouts in the audience learning about how our government works. I was reminded of a quote by Thomas Jefferson who wrote; "We do not have a government by the majority. We have government by the majority of those who participate." Thanks to everyone who participated in this democratic process and voted in the recent election.
As usual, I've selected several items from our agenda to tell you about today. I'm reporting as one individual, not on behalf of City Council as a whole.
All of your elected officials are obligated to study and follow the Florida Sunshine Law and Public Records laws. Our City Attorney provided us with a condensed synopsis of those requirements. Florida elected officials must take four hours of training every year to stay current on these subjects.
We voted 7-0 to make an application for a potential $550,000 African-American Cultural and Historical Grant that would require a $50,000 match from Mount Dora. If we get the grant, it will be used to help fund the major upgrades and renovations at Cauley Lott Park and to educate the public who visit there regarding the contributions of African-American residents and history in Mount Dora.
We also approved a series of measures all related in one way or another to the future construction of a mixed use Town Center style development (442 apartments and commercial space) to be located between Round Lake Rd., Niles Rd. and SR 46. There will be many other steps involved as this concept moves forward. Questions were raised about the capacity of the city to provide water, sewer, reclaimed water, etc. for this project. We have the capacity to do that. This development will include connector roads and trails that will help ease and disperse traffic flow in the area.
To help several of our Council Members who have "day jobs" and to boost community member attendance at our Council meetings, beginning in January our meetings will begin at 6:00.
Since I snuck my quote for the day in earlier, I'll just close by saying how much I appreciate the opportunity to serve our wonderful community. Thanks for your ongoing interest in your city's government and please stay informed and involved.
By Marc Crail District 4 City Council Representative
By Marc Crail Mount Dora City Council, District 4 Representative
Our November 2 (Election Day) City Council meeting was held at 1:30 p.m. instead of 5:30 because some council members and city staff serve on the Lake County Canvassing Board and need to be at the Supervisor of Elections' office by 5:00. The agenda was fairly brief. I've picked out some agenda items and discussion items to tell you about hoping that you find them to be of interest. As always, I report to you from only my own perspective and not on behalf of City Council.
We heard a report from our fire chief who recognized the accomplishments of 3 firefighters who recently completed their 1,100 hour of Paramedic training along with nearly 500 additional hours of hospital study in order to become Paramedics. That is nearly as many hours as a full time worker puts in in a year! We also learned a bit about an ultra sound study that our MDFD participated in and saw a "Lucas Device" that our fire fighters use to provide an electronic version of CPR. We are lucky to have these talented and hard working public servants to help keep us safe.
Speaking of public servants, we recognized Pam Burtnett and Harman Massey for their service as out-going members of Mount Dora City Council. We will miss them but we look forward to welcoming new members at our 11/16 meeting. Today is election day and I'd like to thank all of the candidates who have stepped up to the plate and run for public office. Later this evening we will know the results of our contested mayor's race and District 1 city council race.
I've gotten a couple of questions recently about the schedule for this year's holiday events in the downtown area. Our events coordinator, Chris Carson used the word "evolve" to help explain some changes that we will see during the upcoming holiday season. He explained that in 2019 due to loads of publicity on TV, radio stations and electronic media our "Light Up Mount Dora" event that was held on the Saturday evening following Thanksgiving resulted in huge crowds, parking problems and even safety concerns. Last year, because of COVID concerns, we were forced to postpone or cancel several popular holiday events.
This year we will be trying to find a "happy medium" and spread the holiday events across more days to benefit our downtown merchants and alleviate the worst of the traffic and parking snarls. Chris mentioned the planners hope to reclaim the local, home town, family feel.
Rather than have tens of thousands of visitors from all over central Florida flood into Mount Dora for "Light Up" that is co-sponsored by The Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Leasing who provides the Christmas Tree and the City, they have cooperatively decided to make some changes.
Mount Dora residents will receive a day or two of advanced notice about when the Christmas lights will be lit up. That will probably be a few days before Thanksgiving, likely on a week night so that our guests in town for Thanksgiving can see the display without an onslaught of out of town traffic.
The "Christmas Walk" is being rebranded and could have a new name, but it will be held on Friday evening December 3rd. We'll all look forward to shopping, hearing carolers, sipping hot chocolate and getting into the Christmas spirit after last year's pandemic. The Chamber of Commerce representative expressed her support for spreading out the events this year.
The Main Street Leasing tree is being put up now and we should be seeing the dancing lights a bit earlier this year.
The City sponsored "Snow in the Park" event is scheduled for Saturday December 11th. The " New Year's Eve" celebration and fireworks display are a go but I don't have the exact times for you today.
I was taking notes as fast as I could but I'm sure I've missed something but rest assured that the holiday celebrations that we all enjoy will continue to evolve and hopefully be better than ever.
My quote of the day comes from Jonathon Safran Foer, an American author. "Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life."
By Marc Crail Mount Dora City Council, District 4 Representative
Mount Dora mailboxes are getting bombarded with mailers for mayoral candidates and City Council hopefuls from District 1, an area that includes the Historic District. Leading up to an election, it can be difficult for residents to differentiate between the candidates on local issues and to distinguish disinformation from stubborn facts.
Below are similarities and differences between the candidates on key local issues. Their stances were taken from existing statements and readily available public information. The mayoral candidates’ positions are listed first in alphabetical order by last name, followed by District 1 candidates.
BIKE TRAIL A trail to connect Mount Dora to Tavares and other regional trails has been talked about for years. It will take continued commitment from the City and citizens to come to fruition. All mayoral candidates and District 1 candidates are in favor of the bike trail.
FUNDING THE POLICE All mayoral candidates and District 1 candidates have clearly and consistently stated they support fully funding the police. Mount Dora Police Department is not in jeopardy of being defunded, reimagined or having its budget cut. No Mount Dora candidate has been endorsed by the police.
TAXES & FISCAL CONSERVATISM All mayoral candidates and District 1 candidates are fiscal conservatives with regards to taxes and spending.
BUILDING HEIGHTS IN HISTORIC DISTRICT Last February, the Historic Preservation Board rejected two new downtown projects that exceeded the City’s current code for downtown building heights. Mayor Hoechst cast a vote to grant an appeal by the developer to let those projects proceed to the Planning and Zoning Commission without approval from the Historic Preservation Board. Hoechst also voted in favor of pursuing negotiations with the sole bidder on a 5-level parking garage project. Stile advocates for preserving the existing building height limit in the Historic District and requiring multiple bids on a parking garage project.
In District 1, John Cataldo has consistently maintained a strong position to preserve current building height requirements in the Historic District, including during the April 21 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on this issue. By contrast, Carroll Jaskulski spoke favorably about increasing heights in the Historic District at the same meeting. “By going to 55 feet we’re not really changing the complexion of anything … It’s bringing us into 2021 instead of miring us back in 1890,” stated Jaskulski. Since starting his campaign, he changed his position on the issue. However, in September, Jaskulski raised $2,750 in monetary donations of which $2,000 came from a fellow Planning & Zoning Commission (P & Z) member and his wife, who each contributed the maximum $1,000 on September 21. That P & Z member is on public record speaking in favor of increasing downtown building heights.
RECYCLING Mount Dora did away with its recycling program due to cost. Mayor Cathy Hoechst voted to discontinue the recycling program. Candidate Crissy Stile stated she seeks to explore starting a less costly recycling program. Cataldo favors exploring cost-effective options to recycling. No existing information was located on Jaskulski’s position.
DONATIONS & SUPPORT Most candidates have primarily been supported by small donations from local residents or local entities, but there are exceptions.
A recent mailer promoting District 1 candidate Carroll Jaskulski falsely claimed that he was the sole candidate that stood with law enforcement and the only one dedicated to providing resources to first responders. In truth, all of the candidates stand with law enforcement, fire and EMS, and all support fully funding the police.
The mailer in question was funded by an out-of-town Political Committee. These political organizations can receive bundled donations which can mask the original source of the money that the committee uses to fund mailers and other materials in support of a candidate. The use of such non-transparent funding, frequently referred to as “dark money,” to promote a Mount Dora candidate is uncommon. However, in 2018 dark money was used to fund a similar election mailer in Mount Dora and a developer with financial interest in the City was responsible.
State of Florida records show the chairperson of the Political Committee that produced the misleading flyer supporting Jaskulski, is also a partner in the Tampa-based electioneering firm which Cathy Hoechst’s campaign has paid $9,560.25, as of her October 15 campaign finance report.
DOWNTOWN PARKING All of the candidates support a parking garage, but differ in their ideal size, location and scope of the structure. Last spring, Cathy Hoechst, John Cataldo and Carroll Jaskulski all voted in favor of a Land Code Development amendment to allow up to a 55-foot garage in one of four specific Mount Dora locations. Stile opposes a structure in the historic district that exceeds 35 feet and has suggested short-term solutions to the parking shortage until a longer-term solution is built.
GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT All candidates favor development in some form in order to increase the city’s revenue to help offset the cost of city services. The difference between the candidates seems to be the size, location and scope of the growth they favor, as well as the candidates’ relationship to developers. The starkest difference is between the District 1 candidates. John Cataldo is a proponent of uptown revitalization on Highland Street, development in the city’s Innovation District, and a consistent advocate for preserving downtown Mount Dora and maintaining its building height. Carroll Jaskulski has recently flip-flopped on increasing downtown’s building height limit, so it will be up to voters to decide on his commitment to the issue. As recently as an August City Council meeting, Carroll Jaskulski spoke favorably about Mount Dora development in general. Before he became the associate broker for a new Mount Dora development in 2021, he cast a vote to approve it on the city's Planning & Zoning Commission in 2019.
SIGNIFICANT ENDORSEMENTS In the mayoral race, Cathy Hoechst received the endorsement of the Orlando Sentinel, while Crissy Stile received the endorsement of the local Firefighters Union. District 1 Candidate John Cataldo received the endorsement from the Orlando Sentinel, while Jaskulski has not received any to date.
DOWNTOWN FESTIVALS & VACANCIES At a October 14 mayoral candidate forum, Hoechst and Stile drew a stark contrast on their positions on downtown Mount Dora festival and events. Cathy Hoechst stated there are currently enough festivals, while Stile supports the current festivals plus adding smaller events that wouldn’t require street closures.
The candidates also differed on their position of filling vacant downtown commercial spaces. Hoechst stated filling the spaces would be a detriment to existing businesses, while Stile opined that if the spaces were filled it would boost downtown and the other businesses.
Mount Dora’s election is Tuesday, November 2. Vote-by-Mail is currently available. Voters are encouraged to seek out public records on the City’s website and recent interviewswith the Orlando Sentinel to help them select the candidates that would best represent them.
Yesterday, Florida's new Surgeon General issued a new Rule regarding students and COVID-19 quarantines. In accordance with the rule, a parent or guardian of a child who has been exposed to a person infected with the virus will still be notified by a school official. If the student shows any COVID-19 symptoms, they must stay home as outlined in the rule. Free COVID-19 testing is available at local pharmacies and the Lake County Health Department. However, if the exposed student has no symptoms, parents or the legal guardian can opt to quarantine the exposed child, without penalty for being absent, or to allow the exposed student to attend school without restrictions. Students that test positive for COVID-19 are still required to quarantine and will not be penalized for being absent. With the new rule, a child currently under quarantine, but not positive for COVID-19 and showing no symptoms, can return to school if decided by the parent or guardian. Lake County Schools is encouraging parents to regularly monitor their child’s health for any COVID-19 symptoms and if present they must stay home as outlined in the rule. Additionally, the school district recommends that all students exposed to COVID-19 wear a mask for seven to ten days when they return as a precautionary measure.