Middleburg mobile home explosion injures 2

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1 USPS eystone Heights, Florida Thursday, Jan. 5, rd ear 35 th Issue 75 ENTS What s Inside A mobile phone led deputies to a man they say burglarized several vehicles and garages in December. Deputies arrested John Luther Bennett Sr. for burglary, grand theft, grand theft auto and grand theft of a firearm. 2A. The Assistant lay ounty Property Appraiser has been reappointed to a prestigious post. Tracy S. Drake will continue as chair of the International Association of Assessing Officers. 2A. Bradford ounty saw several commercial projects come to fruition in 2016, including a handful of restaurants. One of the biggest Bradford projects last year was the issionary Aviation ollege hangar at the eystone Heights Airpark 3A. The Florida ommission on Ethics cleared the chair of the St. Johns River Water anagement District of conflict of interest charges. 3A. Worth Noting elrose hili ook Off Feb. 4 - Free registration begins at 10:00 a.m. Judging by public opinion at 1 p.m. All proceeds benefit the elrose Public Library. Th event is at hiappini s Gas Station at orner of SR 21 & 20, elrose. inimal electricity is available; bring gas stoves to keep warm, soup scoopers and ladels For ore Information, ontact Debbie Ellingham at All hili is available for tasting at $3 with a spoon and bowl and for sale at $5 a pint. iddleburg mobile home explosion injures 2 Twenty-four firefighters responded to an explosion and fire at a iddleburg mobile home Tuesday morning. IDDLEBURG lay ounty Fire Rescue said two New representative ready for first session Rep. Bobby Payne tries out his new office at the capitol, right after the room was assigned to him. PALATA State Rep. Bobby Payne has established offices in Tallahassee, Palatka and Starke, and will be attending his first committee meetings next week in Tallahassee, as ity manager Scott ornegay was asked to name the highlight of city accomplishments in He named three items he was especially pleased to have gotten rolling in the previous 365 days, and will have ramifications for the coming year. First was progress on the city s 2020 Vision program; a series of objectives to be accomplished within the next few years to keep the city fresh. The most immediate project will revitalize the city s street scapes, or at least those on Lawrence and the downtown area. ornegay said the plans are largely finished and the work is scheduled to begin, hopefully this year after funding is assured. The first renovations will include brickwork, bulb outs for more traffic control, additional cross walks and landscaping along Lawrence Boulevard. The city is already pursuing fundraising for the project people were injured when family members tried to light a propane stove Tuesday morning, causing an explosion and fire. Deputy hief of Operations the newly elected District 19 representative settles in for his first two-year term. Payne said his district offices will be the same that his predecessor: harles Van Zant Sr. used, the Bradford ounty ourthouse annex H ity manager pleased with 2016 accomplishments ornegay through grant proposals to FDOT and lay ounty with some city money added. ornegay said he was excited about the new water steering committee, formed after the city s water summit, held last fall. Representatives from two water management districts, two counties, the Save Our Lakes Organization, amp Blanding, hemours and other water interests will meet on a regular basis to move action forward on selected projects. ornegay will chair the group, See IT, 5A David otes said moderate damage was sustained to the home. He said the kitchen sustained extensive structural damage and that most of the in Starke, and the Northeast Florida Educational onsortium See PANE, 6A windows in the trailer were broken. The home is located at 5189 Buckhead Road, one block south of Alligator Boulevard. Sexual assault lands O in jail Assaults started in Orange Park B AR J. RAWFORD Telegraph Editor STARE A correctional officer from ape anaveral has been charged with sexually assaulting a 13-year old girl in Bradford ounty. The Florida Department of orrections is terminating 35-year-old Leith James Sullivan, Sullivan who worked at Okeechobee orrectional Institution. According to the arrest report See ARREST, 2A Business association members optimistic about 2017 LRBA officers told their treasurer, Doug Wise, they were coming to his house on Dec. 30th for a board meeting. It was really a surprise party for Wise s milestone birthday. The surprise was on everyone else. When they arrived, Wise already had the house done, the snacks out, the poolside furniture arranged and the bar open when members and other guests arrived. Pictured, (l-r) are Harold Gilstrap, president and Doug Wise, treasurer, seated. Standing are Debbie Strickland vice-president and Barbara Franklin, secretary. Harold Gilstrap is president of the eystone-lake Region Business Association, and is owner of Gilstrap and Associates. alling See LRBA, 6A eystone Heights man killed in collision The Florida Highway Patrol said several Good Samaritans pulled a traffic crash victim from a burning van, Sunday morning, but the driver died from his injuries. Patrick James cgee, 40, of eystone Heights was pronounced dead at the scene by lay ounty Fire Rescue, near the intersection of.r. 214 and Twin Lakes Road. According to an FHP report, cgee was driving a 1999 Ford Eco Line Van westbound around 6:15 a.m. when he failed to negotiate a curve and ran into a large pine tree. After impacting the tree, wrote a trooper in a report, the vehicle caught fire and began to burn. Several Good Samaritans passing by the scene observed the fire and pulled the driver from the driver compartment. Real Estate climbs out of Great Recession Seven and eight years ago, home buyers, sellers and mortgage holders alike wandered about in a real estate purgatory with all hope abandoned. But land sales seem to be doing just fine right now, thank you very much, a definite uptick since the Great Recession. Dean Weaver of Watson Realty gave the onitor some ulti-listing Service numbers to back up that new-found optimism. The LS is a tried and true real estate industry tool See HOES, 3A Weekend weather: Showers likely JASONVILLE Thursday - ostly sunny, with a high near 70. Light and variable wind becoming west 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon. Thursday Night - Partly cloudy, with a low around 46. West wind 3 to 5 mph. Friday - A 20 percent chance of showers after 1pm. ostly sunny, with a high near 69. alm wind becoming west around 6 mph in the morning. Friday Night - A 40 percent chance of showers. ostly cloudy, with a low around 46. Saturday - Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. loudy, with a high near 56. hance of precipitation is 70%. Saturday Night - ostly cloudy, with a low around 30. Sunday - Sunny, with a high near 49. Sunday Night - lear, with a low around 29. onday - ostly sunny, with a high near 53. Deadline onday 5 p.m. before publication Phone Fax

2 2A Lake Region onitor Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 UF ollege of edicine Jacksonville gets new dean JASONVILLE The University of Florida ollege of edicine Jacksonville began a new chapter in its history recently with the official arrival of a new dean, Leon L. Haley Jr.,.D., HSA, FAEP,.P.E. Haley comes to North Florida from Atlanta, where he rose up the ranks as a professor of emergency medicine and an executive associate dean for the Emory University School of edicine and as a key administrator at Grady emorial Hospital, the city s safety-net hospital. I am thrilled to be a part of one of Northeast Florida s premier medical and academic organizations, Haley said. The University of Florida is regarded throughout the country as one of the leaders in educating physicians and providing cutting-edge research, and UF Health has become a symbol for providing the best, most compassionate health care to everyone who needs it. I am proud to now be a part of both organizations. Haley s experience in leading a major department at one of the country s most notable safety-net hospitals gives him great insight into serving patients of all backgrounds. He has experience as a clinician, administrator and educator. At Grady emorial Hospital, staffed primarily by Emory University physicians, Haley was one of the leaders overseeing all faculty matters, most recently as executive associate dean for clinical affairs for Emory. We re extremely fortunate to have someone with Dr. Haley s experience and passion join UF Health Jacksonville, said David S. Guzick,.D., U.S. Attorney s Office ollects ore Than $236.9 illion For Taxpayers In Fiscal ear 2016 TAPA U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announced last month that the iddle District of Florida collected $236,927, for taxpayers this fiscal year (F). In F 2016, which ended on September 30, 2016, the Office s ivil, riminal, and Asset Forfeiture Divisions collected these monies through criminal and civil actions. The Office s ivil Division, led by Randy Harwell, recovered $96,354, from affirmative civil enforcement cases, most alleging health care fraud. An additional $57,148, was recovered as a result of joint investigations with the Department of Justice s ivil Division and other U. S. Attorneys Offices. The Office s Asset Recovery Division, led by Anita. ream, recovered more than $140.5 million, most of which was in the form of restitution, criminal fines, and special assessments. Providing restitution for victims of crime is a top priority of our office. Working with partner agencies, the Division s Asset Forfeiture Section recovered an additional $26.7 million in criminal and civil forfeitures. Depending on the type of case, forfeited assets are deposited into the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund or the Department of Treasury s Assets Forfeiture Fund. onsistent with Departmental policy, in cases where a defendant lacks the means to pay restitution, assets can be forfeited from that defendant and restored to crime victims. In addition, $1.6 million in forfeited funds was shared with state and local law enforcement agencies. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch added that the Justice Department collected $15.3 billion in civil and criminal actions last fiscal year. The $15,380,130,434 in collections in F 2016 represents more than five times the appropriated $3 billion budget for the 94 U.S. Attorneys Offices and the main litigating divisions of the Justice Department combined in that same period. Every day, the men and women of the Department of Haley Ph.D., president of UF Health and senior vice president for health affairs at the University of Florida. It s clear from his achievements, both academically and as a clinician, that he is the perfect fit for the University of Florida and UF Health. I believe his extensive background, especially with Emory University and Grady emorial Hospital, will give him great insight into what we do and what we are trying to achieve moving forward in our patient care, education and research missions. Haley comes to UF Health Jacksonville at an exciting time for the organization, which is about to expand on its successful reach into North Jacksonville with the opening of a new inpatient hospital. The 92-bed unit is set to open in mid-2017 and will complement UF Health North s medical office complex, which has received glowing reviews from patients and the community. Dr. Haley s addition to the UF ollege of edicine and UF Health is a coup for both organizations, said Russ Armistead, EO of UF Health Justice work tirelessly to enforce our laws, ensuring that taxpayer dollars are used properly and that the American people are protected from exploitation and abuse, said Attorney General Lynch. Today s announcement is a testament to that work, and it makes clear that our actions deliver a significant return on public investment. I want to thank the prosecutors and trial attorneys who made this year s collections possible, and I want to emphasize that the department remains committed to the well-being of our people and our nation. Recovering monies from convicted criminals and others who have defrauded the government is critical in enforcing our nation s laws, said U.S. Attorney Bentley. Working together with our law enforcement partners, and other federal, state, and local agencies, our efforts ensure that criminals and others committing fraud are held fully accountable for their offenses. Through these coordinated efforts, we are able to help victims recover from their losses, wherever possible, and replenish public resources. The U.S. Attorneys Offices, along with the department s 90 Day Deferred Financing & Rent-To-Own Available heck out w w w. F r o s t y s A. c o m for more specials & information! (386) or (352) Give us a try! ou will be pleasantly surprised! USPS Published each Thursday and entered as Periodical Postage Paid at eystone Heights, Florida under Act of arch 3, POSTASTER: Send address changes to: Lake Region onitor P.O. Drawer A - Starke, FL SR 21 - eystone Heights, FL Phone: (352) (352) Subscription Rate in Trade Area $39.00 per year: $20.00 six months Outside Trade Area: $39.00 per year: $20.00 six months Jacksonville. It s obvious he has a passion for helping people from all walks of life. I am personally excited to begin working with him to help lead UF Health Jacksonville in its role as one of our community s major health care assets. In addition to his roles as professor and executive associate dean at Emory, Haley served as chief medical officer of the Emory edical are Foundation in Atlanta. Haley formerly served as deputy senior vice president of medical affairs, chief of emergency medicine for Grady Health System and vice chair of emergency medicine at Emory University. Prior to his positions at Grady and Emory, Haley was a senior staff physician at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. Haley received his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a master s degree in health services administration from the University of ichigan. Haley completed his residency in emergency medicine at the Henry Ford Health System, serving a year as chief resident. He is board-certified in emergency medicine and a Fellow of the American ollege of Emergency Physicians, and serves as an oral board examiner for the American Board of Emergency edicine. He is chair of the board for the Essential Hospital Institute, the academic and research arm for America s Essential Hospitals. He is a member of the American ollege of Emergency Physicians and the American Association of Physician Leadership, and was also a member of the Institute of edicine ommittee on Health and Insurance Status. litigating divisions, are responsible for enforcing and collecting civil and criminal debts owed to the United States. and criminal debts owed to federal crime victims. The law requires defendants to pay restitution to victims of certain federal crimes who have suffered a physical injury or financial loss. While restitution is paid to the victim, criminal fines and felony assessments are paid to the department s rime Victims Fund, which distributes the funds to state victim compensation and victim assistance programs. The largest civil collections were from affirmative civil enforcement cases, in which the United States recovered government money lost to fraud or other misconduct or collected fines imposed on individuals and/or corporations for violations of federal health, safety, civil rights, or environmental laws. In addition, civil debts were collected on behalf of several federal agencies, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Internal Revenue Service, Small Business Administration, and Department of Education. Lake Region onitor John. iller, Publisher Editor: Sports Editor: Advertising: Typesetting: Advertising & Newspaper Prod: Bookkeeping & lassified Adverts: Bookkeeping Asst: Front office Asst: Dan Hildebran liff Smelley evin iller Eileen Gilmore. Hurston Heather Wheeler Linda Lacombe Beth Tillman obile phone leads deputies to one-man crime spree A stolen mobile phone allowed lay deputies to locate a man they say committed several burglaries in the Lake Region on Dec. 19. John Luther Bennett Sr. was charged with burglary, grand theft, grand theft auto and grand theft of a firearm. Deputies say Bennett broke into vehicles, and garages on Payne Road, Alderman Road, Gas Line Road, Alameda Road and in Bradford ounty. While in Bradford ounty, the defendant allegedly took a cell phone and the owner of the device tracked its location to a Highridge Estates address where deputies found Bennett. Bennett also had an outstanding warrant for petit retail theft that occurred earlier in the year. According to court papers, on Sept. 3, the assistant store manager of the ircle on Lawrence Boulevard saw a man take several food items off store shelves and leave without paying. The value of the merchandise lay assistant property appraiser reappointed chair of international committee GREEN OVE SPRINGS Roger A. Suggs, FA, AAS, F, lay ounty Property Appraiser, announces that Tracy S. Drake, Assistant Property Appraiser, has been re-appointed to serve as chairperson of the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) Professional Designation Subcommittee (PDS). Drake Drake has served on various IAAO committees since 2013, including chairperson of the PDS in IAAO is headquartered in ansas ity and is a nonprofit, educational association with approximately 8,000 members whose mission is to provide innovation and excellence in property ARREST from the Bradford ounty Sheriff s Office, the crimes took place over a period of several months, beginning in August in Orange Park and continuing when the girl s family moved to Bradford. The victim said she was scared during the encounters, which would take place after she went to bed, including twice in the week following hristmas. She objected, but he wouldn t stop, and he told her not to tell anyone. Sullivan told the sheriff s office he knew it was wrong, but that did not stop him. He said he knew he had crossed some lines, but denied forcing himself on the girl. He said if she asked him to stop, he would. Describing the relationship as one sided, Sullivan said he was more concerned about pleasuring her than himself. He claimed to have fallen in love and told her she would always be his princess. The arrest report lists another suspect, and according to the sheriff s office additional charges could be filed. totaled $31.32 and a customer identified the thief as Bennett. However, when a deputy asked Bennett about the incident, he denied any involvement. appraisal, property tax policy and administration through professional development, education, research, and technical assistance. The subcommittee s purpose is to support this mission. IAAO members subscribe to a ode of Ethics and Standards of Professional onduct and the Uniform Standard of Professional Appraisal Practice. Tracy holds three designations through the IAAO: the ertified Assessment Evaluator, Residential Evaluation Specialist and Assessment Administration Specialist. 7P Garden lub announces hristmas decoration winners ESTONE HEIGHTS The Florida Federation of Garden lubs, Garden ub of the Lakes has chosen the winners of our Holiday ard Decoration contest. Our first-place winner is Glenn and Lyn Stanley, R. 219, elrose. The runnerup is Tommy anning, R. 352, eystone Heights. They have won a $50 and $25 gift card at Ace Hardware. ongratulations! The presentation of the prizes will be at the Jan. 12 meeting, at Faith Presbyterian hurch in idway at 10 a.m. We want to thank all the participants and encourage them to enter, again, next year. All the homes were beautifully decorated and choosing the winners was a difficult decision. For more information about the Garden lub of the Lakes, please call Jackie Host at , of Toni Davis at , or any of our members. (Hwy. 100 just east of Hwy. 21) LEGAL NOTIE NOTIE OF ELETION 2017 SUPER TUESDA UNIIPAL ELETIONS ity of Green ove Springs ity of eystone Heights Town of Orange Park Pursuant to Section of the Florida Statutes, notice is hereby given that the 2017 Super Tuesday unicipal Elections will be held on Tuesday, April 11, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at each respective unicipality. ity of eystone Heights 555 S. Lawrence Blvd., eystone Heights, FL Seat Four (4) (ayor Seat) for a three (3) year term of office on eystone Heights ity ouncil. Qualifying for Seat Four (4) - (ayor Seat) will open onday, January 30th at NOON and remain open until Friday, February 3rd at NOON at the ity of eystone Heights Office. Those interested in qualifying for Seats on the aforementioned ity or Town ouncil(s) must be a qualified elector, a citizen of the United States and meet all other qualifying requirements as outline in each respective unicipal harter. A Run-off Election, if necessary for any unicipality will be held on the 2nd Tuesday of ay. For further information, please contact the lay ounty Supervisor of Elections Office at (904) In accordance with the Sunshine Law of Florida, this meeting is open to the public. Note: Section , Florida Statutes, states that if a person decides to appeal any decision by the board, agency, or commission with respect to any matter considered at a meeting or hearing, he or she will need a record of the proceedings, and that, for such purposes, he or she may need to ensure that a verbatim record of the proceedings is made, which record includes the testimony and evidence upon which the appeal is to be based.

3 Real estate HOES that assembles market data on all properties listed and on those sold; not including those being traded by owners. The information can be retrieved by price range, ZIP code, by county, state or by date. In 2016, there were 124 homes sold in eystone Heights ZIP code, and 49 mobile homes. One of the most telling numbers for 2016 is the local absorption rate, which uses current sales information to project how long it would take to sell the inventory of all homes on the market at a given point. According to Weaver s LS data, on Dec. 29, 2016 the absorption rate for was That is, a realtor could expect a eystone area property to be on the market for 8.83 months before it was sold. In the industry, this is a vast improvement over Dec. 29, 2015, when the absorption rate for the same ZIP was months. Since then, it s gone down by almost three months; homes sold percent quicker in Looking over the information for the last two years, the onitor found that lower priced properties, $ 0-69,999, were selling, but sales were sluggish compared to homes in the $70, ,999 bracket. The number of homes sold in the lower range dropped by 27 percent between 2015 and 2016; the number of homes sold in the higher bracket increased 25 percent during the period. Weaver Scanning the data, Weaver said it appeared that family homes were on the rise, with buyers intending to live in their purchase. The lower priced homes may have been targets of investors, with rental income or flipping in mind. Weaver guessed the Federal Reserve s recent increase in its interest rate from almost nothing to 1 percent might have had something to do with the uptick. Fed hair Janet ellen signaled that the board might do it again in 2017, several times if necessary, to keep the economy from overheating and the rate of inflation from rising. The higher the Reserve s lending rate, the more a buyer will be paying for a property. Investors traditionally wait awhile to see if that rate will drop for a lower-priced purchase. Investors, and especially families, may be tempted to purchase now if it seems clear the mortgage rate will rise. At Watson Realty, Dean Weaver said his office had done about 30 percent more in sales in 2016 than the year before. Spiritual Warfare Bible onference 12 11:00 :00 :00 Gadara Baptist hurch Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 Lake Region onitor At a New ear s weekend event, eystone-lake Region Business Association member and realtor Deirdre urphy was upbeat about the industry, 2017 and Lake Region sales. The buzz around the coffee table veered toward buying and selling; business cards got traded. Dean Weaver had also noticed another hopeful figure on the LS date. Among the ZIP-code homes sold in 2015 were 29 foreclosure properties left from the Great Recession. In 2016 the number urphy of foreclosures sold was down to 16. The 45-percent drop probably indicates that the glut of foreclosed homes on the books of banks and mortgage lenders is dwindling. If true, this would also tend to drive up the average price of all homes on the market. Some foreclosed sales may have been overvalued with high mortgage values during the housing bubble. Institutional lenders may be holding onto homes until prices rise again, Weaver said. If so, there could be an increase in inventory with lenders eager to cut their lending losses. This may be the case. The LS data shows the increase in the average price of all homes sold in 2016 over the year before was just over four percent. The average sale price of the 29 distressed properties sold in 2015 was a little over $30,000. The average price of the 16 bank-owned properties sold in 2016 was almost $42,000, a 40 percent increase. Potential buyers may still get a bargain on a foreclosed home. But it might not be as big a bargain than if they bought the same home the year before. REAH FLORIDA for next to nothing! for next to nothing! Statewide reach in 100+ top newspapers. Advertising for way less than you think. Bradford builds a few more businesses, homes issionary Aviation hangar among Bradford s biggest projects B AR J. RAWFORD Telegraph Editor STARE Residential development picked up slightly last year, and 2016 also brought the completion of a couple of notable commercial projects. As with the Beef O Brady s in 2015, there was another restaurant-related commercial building project in the city of Starke in issing the promised deadline of Whoppers by hristmas Burger ing nevertheless managed to open next to ommunity State Bank in Bradford Square just before New ear s and had been serving long lines around lunch and dinnertime. Also opening in December was Elegance Thai. The restaurant is serving up curries and stir fries six days a week on all Street in a renovated historical building that has housed a couple of restaurants and a sports bar. Earlier this year, Dunkin Donuts converted the longempty Wendy s restaurant to serve up its popular pastries, coffee and sandwiches. Starke also expanded its collection of discount stores with the opening of Dollar Tree right next to the Steakhouse. While there was buzz about a Dairy Queen at the end of last year, it s rumored locations have both been occupied. Burger ing built across from cdonalds, and Woody s BBQ opened in the former Dickey s location out by Walmart. ity lerk Ricky Thompson confirmed that development of the Dairy Queen had stalled. They may opt to wait for the completion of the bypass to locate on S.R The only other such discussion involves a possible miniature golf development at the old bowling alley site on U.S. 301, which would be a welcome reuse of the blighted property. Of the county zoning office s five commercial building permits, one stands out for the wrong reasons. Zoning Director Randy Andrews was quick to point out that Florida Gas Transmission is responsible for the work on property owned by the Hazen family near Brooker. The transmission company built a modular office building, and work in the area generated calls to the building and zoning office. Andrews had to assure concerned members of the public that the work was not related to a pending phosphate mining permit, which has not received county commission approval. Get the scoop, contact Linda West Rayonier pulled a permit for a similar project on Southwest 155th Street. The other commercial projects included a hangar by the ollege of issionary Aviation to support its training activities, and a permit pulled by ichael Walters for an open-air produce market across S.R. 100 from Tom s High on the Hog Barbecue. eystone Gun and Pawn also moved into the former Dollar General store on S.R. 100 in eystone Heights. No new homes were built in Starke in 2015, but that changed this past year. A new home is still under construction and 1552 Dodd Street for an estimated cost of $255,000. The county s community development office also used state funds to rebuild 3A a couple of homes on Dell and Pine streets. Tammy and John s Properties of Lawtey built homes on all and ypress streets. Starke could see 10 new duplexes built on Southern Villas Drive in Unincorporated Bradford ounty had 29 new single family dwelling permits pulled in 2016, which was nine more than the year before. At least three of those homes had an estimated value in excess of $200,000, including the $276,000 three bedroom, threeand-a-half bathroom home being built on Lake rosby. Fewer new mobile homes were installed and fewer were replaced last year. Only two dozen new mobile home permits were issued compared to 39 the year before, and only 13 were replaced compared to 16 in State Road 21 eystone Heights, FL South of Santa Fe ollege Watson ampus I Believe in God but I Do Not Fear Him Son-Shine Traditional Worship ontemporary Worship Traditional Worship Sunday School classes and childcare available. Wonderful Wednesday, Jan. 11 th 5:45 pm Roast Beef Dinner Senior Pastor, Reverend Jeff Tate

4 4A Lake Region onitor Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 Business AAT-Omega: new name, but still a H presence lockwise from top left: Looking a little like futuristic astronauts, harles Sutton and Austin Snyder recently gave the AAT-Omega powder booth a workout. Jake van der ooy is one of three brothers from Wisconsin who bought the local company once known as Omega etals. AAT-Omega staff and equipment fabricates metal-bending, cutting dropouts and punching holes but the company can also paint (powder) and silkscreen electronic equipment casings, building panels, traces and more. A few years ago, the owners of Benz etal in enomonee Falls, Wisconsin, got a call from a broker to see if the company wanted to buy a business, a sort of spin off from a company headquartered in Texas. Just a few years before, the company had merged with American Access Technologies located just outside eystone Heights, Florida. The merger didn t go quite as either of the two mergees thought it might; the Texas company realized there wasn t as much synchronicity with metals fabrication as they thought. Would Benz anufacturing be interested in buying the metals company? The company in question, of course, had once been Omega etals, and later, American Access Technologies, located in eystone Heights and originally founded by local entrepreneurs. And so, in 2014, Jake van der ooy and his two brothers, Joe and Jason, with help from an investor, bought the company and moved to Florida. The van der ooy brothers now live in St. Augustine. It s only a minute commute, Jake said. I haven t seen much difference in the capability of the manufacturing, van der ooy said (pronounced koi). Benz and the eystone ompany now called AAT-Omega were roughly comparable. There were some adjustments. Whereas in enomonee Falls, when you need supplies or a part, you hop over to the industrial park next door. Shopping local (near ilwaukee) means you ll get it in an hour to an hour and a half, van der ooy said. Here, you ll get it delivered tomorrow at the earliest. If I need to get product out, there s no such thing as early UPS here. That isn t a deterrent, he added, but it was part of the new owners learning curves. Was there anything else he found different? The weather, he replied without hesitation. While Florida doesn t have snow days, which sometimes affects the flow of business or manufacturing in Wisconsin, it does have hurricane days when business comes to a halt. It evens out, the owner said. Jake van der ooy comes from an old Dutch family that s been in the U.S. for only three generations. He s in the first generation actually born here. The name refers to the family occupation of centuries ago. ooy is 1400s Dutch for cage; at the time the family business was trapping ducks. Van der ooy s grandfather came to the U.S. where he started a metals fabrication business, Benz etal Products, now in enomonee Falls. Van der ooy grew up in the business and reflects that combination of comfortable Dutch accessibility, but yet is all business. I think the community here has a strong work ethic, he added. People are kind to each other; everyone here has a lot of integrity. It s very family oriented. The company still makes varied products at customer demand. We satisfy low to midlevel orders, he said, which keeps us competitive with the hinese. His company usually makes between a few to about 5,000 items per order. But, hey, I m willing to look at anything the customer shows us, he said. He added that 95 percent of the items he manufactures are for American customers, the rest are usually for anadian clients, maybe going to exico or Honduras. We don t know how many of our stateside customers ship their finished products abroad, he said. Whereas American Access Technology was working on hinese solar energy fabrications five to 10 years ago, AAT-Omega is now manufacturing items related to wi-fi and wireless technology. The company says on its website, AAT Omega has been located just south of Jacksonville, Florida Does your business have a product or service to sell? Advertorial Advertising Works! WE AN TELL OUR UNIQUE STOR. all or us to discuss your needs & brainstorm The Lake Region onitor some new ideas. Advertising Department can provide you with the in-depth coverage you need to get your word out See AAT, 5A Auxadyne to make loaves and pads, not sports shoes A sign on the door of the Auxadyne building the former eystone Building Supply tells callers that the new company isn t hiring just yet: no need to rush down to ommercial ircle with your resume until further notice. But stand by. The sign suggests the eystone Heights community is certainly aware of one of its newest businesses with a sense of excitement and expectation, and maybe a few misconceptions about what the company is and what the future holds. Joe and Betsy ondon licensed a patent from Florida State University a few years ago and started the business in their garage. They make auxetic foam, they call it Xylafoam, and it looks like the dark packing material you may have seen cushioning electronic or sound equipment or fine breakables in metal boxes. Xylafoam may look like packing foam, because that s what it s made from. But it s very different. The ondons take a less expensive foam product and give it almost magical properties, using the patented process that, for now at least, belongs entirely to them. Auxetic foam is in one key way the complete reverse of ordinary foam. When pressure is applied to ordinary packing foam, it bulges out and gets thinner at the pressure point. Observe a marshmallow when you mash it with your thumb. When serious pressure is applied to ordinary foam and it thins out at the pressure point, it also loses its protective quality. However, when you apply pressure to auxetic foam, it gets thicker at the pressure point. If it were an auxetic marshmallow, it would curve inward and become stronger, denser and more protective. It would do the same job as regular foam, but since Subscribe to THE EXLUSIVE in-depth local News overage Sports, Student Athletes & School & ommunity Teams rime Reports & Arrests Government Social Happenings & Gatherings School Events & Information Graduating Seniors Straight A Students ommunity Events hurch & Group Announcements onthly Special LR ailer... Plus you can use less of it, the auxetic foam would be thinner, lighter in weight, and would surpass the protective quality of regular foam. Auxetic foam is not new and has been around for 21 years. Auxadyne is not the only company in the world that knows how to make it; lots of company s can make auxetic foam by applying chemicals or heat. But the results from these methods vary, they have unwanted side effects and production costs are high. One company trying to make auxetic foam mattresses Hitchcock s Harveys Family Dollar Store VS Walgreens Winn-Dixie Ace Spires IGA for better hospital beds added chloroform to regular foam mattresses. They made auxetic foam, but the problem was they couldn t get the chloroform out, with completely unacceptable consequences for hospital patients. ompanies working with heat discovered that the outer cooked portions of their foam pads became auxetic, but it left the center of a pad raw as a Thanksgiving turkey. The result didn t do what it was supposed Serving eystone Heights, elrose and the surrounding area for over years! 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5 Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 Lake Region onitor 5A G&A anufacturing grows with commitment to Lake Region A quick trip to G&A anufacturing Inc. is proof that an entrepreneur can be committed to the Lake Region and not only survive, but thrive. The company is also a petri dish for studying the Lake Region economy and its business environment. John and Debbie Hoffman are prime examples of entrepreneurship done right. Debbie founded several day care centers in the eystone Area, at one point running three at once. She still has three centers: one in eystone Heights, one in Palatka and one in Lake Asbury. John was an employee at REDD TEA anufacturing, also founded in eystone Heights, but was bought by Alcoa Aluminum and moved out of state. The couple made a commitment to stay in the area and for almost 15 years, they ve made it work. At present, G&A has 16 full time and three part time employees. Sales anager Scott Slater said virtually all G&A s employees live in the Lake Region. G&A anufacturing makes aluminum residential and commercial railings, docks and stairs. During a recent visit, Slater pointed out that while those may be their bread and butter products, the company also makes other aluminum products, like top rails for toolboxes in the back of your pickup truck. G&A can manufacture to customer specifications, but also has a host of standard products, like the handrails, that can be produced and delivered upon order. G&A s shops are welllighted, safe, industrial spaces, sometimes refitted to accommodate new, high tech, industrial tools. The company has just invested over $200,000 in new technology. The new Brother RS650 Drill and Tap enter, for example, uses 22 tools. It can machine almost any shape of aluminum, changing tools as programmed. It makes the product on one side as an operator loads materials on the other. It completes its assigned tasks as Slater said quickly, as in seconds. The new machine is known for its tool change time, and has been set up in a renovated room of Above: New G&A sales manager Scott Slater points to a company mainstay, aluminum handrails like those to be used on the Flagler emorial Bridge in Palm Beach. Left: Among G&A employees working to get the company s Brother RS650 Drill and Tap enter up and running are Savannah Smith, left, and Tabatha Rondeau. its own, still being readied for operation. Slater pointed out the new railings in the ceiling were provided by American Gutter in eystone Heights, climate control was provided by ike Bertie Heating and Air of eystone Heights, and electrical work was done by Regional Electric, also based in eystone. See G&A, 6A Water management district chair cleared of conflicts of interest TALLAHASSEE A Dec. 14 press release from the Florida ommission on Ethics read as follows: A complaint filed against St. Johns River Water anagement District Governing Board ember John A. iklos resulted in a finding of no probable cause (that) r. iklos had a conflicting contractual relationship regarding a company consulting and assisting the ity of DeBary in acquiring and developing land zoned for conservation under the care and management of the SJRWD. The ommission also found no probable cause to believe that iklos accepted compensation given to influence his official action. IT with SOLO president Vivian atz sitting in as vice chair. The first meeting of the committee will be held in January. ornegay said several projects will be proposed; the group will select one or two it is most interested in working on and take action. The city has already applied The decision came after months of calls from North Florida newspapers within the water management district s jurisdiction calling for iklos removal. The Daytona Beach News- Journal reported that the city of DeBary paid iklos firm, Bio- Tech onsulting Inc., $38,600. In return, the city got a permit modification from the district whose board iklos chairs. Neither iklos nor atthew arlucci, hair of the Florida ommission on Ethics, nor any member of the commission, are elected to their positions. Gov. Rick Scott appointed all Ethics and SJRWD commissioners and board members involved. The ity of DeBary applied for permits from the St. Johns District, but also asked for district land for a storm water for FEA hurricane mitigation funds to improve water flow in the area. This project will be supported by FEA funds for local mitigation strategies. The project is designed to improve the flow from Brooklyn Lake to eystone Lake and from eystone to Lake Geneva. Other projects ornegay and the city council were happy to accomplish in 2016 were renovations to ity Hall and the reopening of eystone Beach. The biggest improvement to pond for a 2,800-unit housing development. iklos said he follows the letter of the law simply by recusing himself from board votes on matters where Bio-Tech is involved. The Daytona paper said since iklos was appointed chairman in 2013, he has declared a conflict of interest in more than 86 occasions when Bio-Tech was involved. iklos praises the benefits of appointing environmental consultants such as himself, to the board. These are people who understand the issues at hand, he maintains. He said he does not see it as a conflict of interest per se when developers hire his firm to petition the SJRWD for permits and waivers which the board he sits on must grant or deny. ity Hall, he said, was a new roof, designed to stem water leaks that have plagued ity Hall staff for years. Included in the renovations were ripping out water damaged and stained carpet; and replacing flooring throughout the building. ornegay said he expects to see more family swimming and resident participation at events at the beach park, playgrounds and the pavilion in the months ahead. ity anager Scott ornegay (behind column) and lerk Lynn Rutkowski unveil renderings of eystone Heights streetscape project last year. The ONL Publication ailed Directly to 11,000 Addresses in eystone Heights elrose Lake Geneva Florahome & Grandin AAT ontinued from 4A for over 25 years. With two manufacturing buildings contemporary equipment and a knowledgeable, experienced work force, American Access/ Omega etals is one of the premiere Precision Sheet etal anufacturing and ontract anufacturing facilities in the southeast. AAT is a Lean anufacturer, and is ISO ertified 9001:2008. The company comes complete with computer controlled cutting, punching and fabrication technology, plus a paint room and silkscreen capabilities. For some tasks, this calls for a change in the skill set compared to fabrication shops of yesteryear. Now, the worker who programs the machine s computer functions also runs the machine. Tool and die workers of years past are still on hand; especially positions like grinders, welders and painters. I m always happy to look at anyone who can bring value to the organization, van der ooy said, and especially anyone with a manufacturing background. But even employees in packing and shipping need to be alert: there are always customer requirements. The right label has to go on the right package. We can always find office workers and bookkeepers, van der ooy added, referring to the Lake Region s labor force. anagerial styles may be a little different for the workers now some of whom were around during the Omega etals era. We don t micro-manage; we lead. van der ooy said. We set expectations and give the employee an opportunity to meet or exceed expectations. Why should I tell an employee to do it for me in five minutes, if he or she knows they can do it in three? During a tour of the facility, van der ooy said he was optimistic about the coming year has been a good year, and I don t see why next year wouldn t be even better, he said. He attributed his company s recent growth to increased construction around the country and also to AAT-Omega s natural growth through exposure, name recognition and satisfied customers and marketing. The care and wellbeing of your elders is very important to the staff at Parkside Assisted Living Facility OUR DEISION REGARDING WHO WILL HELP ARE FOR OUR LOVED ONE IS IPORTANT Our room rate is $1,980 per month for a semi-private two-bed room and $3,100 per month for a private singlebed room for all aspects of our care. 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6 6A Lake Region onitor Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 G&A ontinued from 5A eanwhile, eystone Heights Flooring provided new tiles in the front office. G&A is about to do it again with a arvel N Bandsaw. N in this case stands for computer numerical control. Asked if the Lake Region had a good supply of the skill sets G&A needs, Slater said, They re available. He added that those skills would certainly change in time with a move to higher tech equipment, but as more product is sold, G&A would still need more people for other operations and shipping. Sawing may soon be automated, but putting the final finish on the aluminum products will still be manual. Slater said an associated company making repairs of hurricane damage recently told Slater that G&A s products held up well under the storm and needed no repair, which, Slater added, are full welded. Slater is himself an example of how the business environment may change the area. He s new to the company; until two months ago, he was a sales rep for an industrial products supplier. As such, he traveled over 1,000 miles a week, returning to his Immokalee Road home each day. He s lived in the area for 31 years. Now, his commute is about 25 miles a week, 2.5 miles each way. Slater said his perspective on 2017 is very upbeat, especially with G&A s new investments in equipment that will increase production capacity. G&A has several contracts with school districts that use portable classrooms, although that work is decidedly cyclical. Slater said, If I do my job right, we have a favorable outlook for The new sales manager pointed to G&A s current project, the Flagler emorial Bridge in Palm Beach. That one project began last spring and won t be completed until Feb., LRBA himself a recognitionologist Gilstrap provides promotional materials to large businesses and small, everything from engraved employee-of-the-year crystal bowls and plaques to aprons, hats and pens with a company s name and logo on them. Asked about the LRBA membership s expectations for the coming year, Gilstrap said he sensed members were mostly upbeat and looking forward to the New ear. Some businesses were doing better than others, he added. He pointed out advances during 2016: the arrival of manufacturer Auxadyne (see related story, Page 4A) and eystone Gifts and Guns in the Dollar General building, previously a large, empty commercial property on Lawrence Boulevard. The news that the graduation rate at eystone Heights High School moving from 73.8 percent to 82.3 percent will be a big boost for attracting new families to the area as well. There s even some cautious good news about the area s lakes. All in all, the LRBA president said, he and other members of the business group had reason to be hopeful. Gilstrap is the only employee in his company and he works from his home. He said when you work for yourself, some years you are in a sustainable pattern where you do the work at a comfortable pace. Then, a business owner might hit a spell where for whatever reason, he or she gets highly motivated to attract new customers, either to replace dropouts, or to grow the business. He was happy to report several large new clients for his company over the last two years. As for Gilstrap, taking everything into consideration, he said he is highly motivated to blaze new trails in FOA ontinued from 4A to do. Then too, chemicals and heat were more expensive than the endgame sale price could bear in the marketplace. A number of years ago, the VA gave a grant to Florida State University s science and engineering departments to create auxetic foam to be used as cushioning in prosthetic limbs for wounded warriors. The auxetic foam padding would expand and contract during the day as needed, saving the warriors time spent putting on and taking off cushioning socks. FSU labs discovered a process requiring neither chemicals nor heat and patented that process. They transferred the patent to the university s commercialization department, which puts patents out to vetted entrepreneurs for development and mass production. Naturally, the university gets a royalty off the patent forever. Joe and Betsy ondon had backgrounds in engineering, science and production. Joe had once headed a medical device company, including prostheses. The ondon s were retired, but still ready for new challenges. They won the bid on the FSU auxetics patent and set up a production lab in their eystone Heights garage. A Tallahassee AB news affiliate and other media outlets got hold of the story and suddenly the ondons phone started to ring. Around the same time, Betsy decided to run for the lay ounty school board. Everyone s cell phones started to ring. Suddenly the ondons realized they either needed a much bigger garage or space elsewhere. They contacted a bank about the True Value space, and shortly thereafter moved in, subleasing parts of the campus they aren t using yet. At present Auxadyne s entire operation takes up about a tenth of the total floor space in the main building. Joe ondon said by the end of this year, he hopes to have the building fully occupied and humming. Betsy turned the sheltered lumberyard over to the eystone Heights High School s FFA program for the moment. Somewhere down the road Auxadyne Inc. a name Betsy came up with may have to use the lumber facility for shipping. Joe said last week Auxadyne is still in Phase 1, the point where they are out of the lab and into the first stages of product testing and development. They are also learning to mass produce the product to a company s scale in size and quantity. In off hours, lay school employee Janice Goetzman took a small pad of Xylafoam and sewed a heel protector for bedbound patients useful for fighting bedsores. Still in development, the cuffs look like the toe end of a foam slipper. In this case, the auxetic foam does what it s designed to do: it becomes stronger and more protective at the pressure point, but is lighter in weight and slipproof, in case the wearer gets up to move around. Auxadyne will probably not, however, be making heel cuffs or prosthetic limb cushions or packing materials or even protective sports shoes and protective sports gear. Other companies will do that. What Auxadyne will be making is big loaves of auxetic foam they re called buns, Joe said--and each one may need to be twice the size of your refrigerator. Or since Auxadyne may have a variety of customers, other customers may need thousands of smaller tablet-sized pads. ondon said he is already billing customers for small purchases used for materials testing. A growing number of manufacturers are trying to see what they can and can t do with Xylafoam. The beauty of ondon s Xylafoam is, if the testing of one potential product fails, there will be others where it works splendidly. After all, there are many uses for foam: furniture, bedding, shipping, transportation, medical products, space programs, the military. Auxadyne s future depends on the size and quantity of pads the ondons can turn out. Joe said he already has 12 part-time employees and has used at least three local contractors for shortterm projects. He hopes to have a minimum of two products using Auxadyne s foam on an on-going basis by the end of this year. So stay tuned, Lake Region. A new manufacturing operation appears to be here now, and at this point, Auxadyne s 2017 appears to be bright. PANE headquarters in Palatka. Last month Speaker Rick orcoran assigned Payne to one committee and four subcommittees. Payne said his appointment to the ommerce ommittee will allow him to focus on bringing economic development and job creation to Putnam, Bradford and Union counties, in addition to southern lay ounty. Economic development is the primary catalyst for everything, he said. That really starts things for us. He added that his service on the Pre- to Grade 12 Quality Subcommittee will allow him to fight a problem he sees as endemic in District 19: generational poverty. Payne will also serve on the Energy and Utilities Subcommittee, where he will utilize his 33-years experience working for Seminole Electric, the power supplier for lay Electric ooperative. Payne said that serving on the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee will allow him to watch out for the interests of his constituents. He said he wants to make sure that when the state makes investments in infrastructure, District 19 does not get overlooked. He will also serve on the Oversight, Transparency and Administration Subcommittee. Payne also said that under House rules, he will only be allowed to file six bills in the 2017 legislative session. He said he is considering legislation related to salaries and wages of state workers, including law enforcement and correctional officers. He added that he is also considering bills that would yield a direct benefit to District 19, in addition to education legislation and bills he described as socially conservative. Payne is replacing Van Zant, whom did not seek reelection because of term limits. In the August Republican Primary, Payne beat Van Zant s wife atherine Van Zant and former Republican Party of Florida hairwoman Leslie Dougher. In the November, General Election, Payne defeated Democrat Joe Snodgrass and a write-in candidate.