•••The long-awaited and expected resignation of Dan Espino finally took place at the city’s Monday night (May 14) regular council meeting. Espino resigned his Group II council position, effective Wednesday, May 16, in order to run for the District 5 seat on the Miami Dade School Board.
Under state law, Espino, 29, was required to step down in order to be a candidate for the school board election on Aug. 14. His term as a Miami Springs councilman would have expired in April 2013 and plans were made later in the meeting as to how and when to elect Espino’s replacement.
The council, by consensus, agreed to put the issue of naming an interim replacement for Espino on the agenda for the next regular meeting, on Tuesday, May 29. That person would serve on council until the Aug. 14 election.
•••What an ironic, classic, bittersweet moment it must have been for 18-year-old Melanie Wolff on Thursday night, May 17 as she sat with her father Marc and other family members in the James L. Knight Center in downtown Miami. The event was The Miami Herald’s Miami-Dade County Silver Knight Awards Banquet and Melanie, a lifelong Springs resident who attends Ronald Reagan High School, was one of 32 nominees in the English & Literature category and was named the winner.
Just getting nominated for The Herald’s Silver Knight Award is considered an honor. Winning it? A big-time feat. The bittersweet part of the story was that her mother wasn’t there to share the evening. After a four-year bout with ovarian cancer, Marlene Wolff, a long-time beloved teacher at Blessed Trinity School and catalyst for the origination of the Message from Marli Foundation, succumbed to the disease on Feb. 20.
•••Sergeant Jimmy Deal was named Miami Springs Officer of the Year 2011 at the Annual Respect for Law banquet on Saturday night, May 19 at the Rebeca Sosa Theatre inside the Community Center.
Also honored with plaques were: Community Policing Officer Jorge Capote with the Charles B. Stafford Memorial Going the Extra Mile Award; Officer Justin Robbins with the 09-39 Award for making the most arrests; and Dispatcher II Joyce Cox for being named Civilian Employee of the Year.
•••It was hardly your everyday run-of-the-mill bank robbery when a man walked into the BB&T Bank on Westward Drive on Thursday, May 31 to rob the bank without much of a getaway plan. Daniel Alvin Gallagher, 54, walked into the bank at 10:48 a.m., wrote a note on a brochure saying he had a bomb and asked for $100. He passed the note to a teller who gave the man two $50 bills and, before leaving, the alleged robber told the teller to call the police.
Two tellers sounded silent holdup alarms and another employee called 911. When the man walked out of the front door, he made no attempt to flee and was arrested immediately by two Miami Springs Police officers. There was no bomb or other weapons. Gallagher was charged with robbery with an implied weapon and taken to jail. He told police he was homeless and usually stayed in Hialeah.
JUNEShortly after midnight on Friday, June 1, Medley resident Fidel Borges, a retired Miami-Dade Police pilot and mechanic, watched in “slow motion” as his truck and trailer were rattled by an explosion. When he peered outside, he saw a Cuban flag draped on the mailbox and his motorcycle ablaze.
Borges pointed the finger at his next-door neighbor, Yuniesky Molina, 32, who was quickly arrested and charged by Medley police with three counts of arson. After setting Borges’ motorcycle, pick-up truck and mobile home ablaze, the police report stated that Molina went back to bed inside his tiny efficiency to resume watching television. When asked why he set the fires, Molina told police that he was watching an action movie. He described a scene where a man blows up a motorcycle and a truck, which burst into flames, and seconds later ventured over to his neighbor’s trailer to “re-enact” the scene.
•••The fruits of a lot of hard work bore out on Saturday, June 9 when the Miami Springs Majors Girls Softball team, aka the Lady Tigers, traveled to Federal Little League in Fort Lauderdale for a best-of-three District 8 championship final. As it turned out, the locals would never even need a third and deciding game as they swept the host team with wins of 19-2 and 5-2 to claim the district championship.
They didn’t know it at the time but the Springs girls, who thought they were moving on to the sectional tournament, got some great news a few days later. That’s when they learned that District 7 did not field a representative, meaning they would skip sectionals and had qualified for the state tournament just outside Orlando in mid-July. After dropping their opening game of the season to Weston Majors, the Springs girls reeled off 17 straight wins, including two of those over that same Weston team and a pair of road wins over Upper Keys (14-4, 16-3) that clinched their berth in the District 8 tournament.
•••At Miami Springs’ regular council meeting on Monday, June 11, it was determined that Grace Bain would take over Dan Espino’s Group II seat by the end of June, but it took an unopposed election and some theatrics at the meeting for that to happen so quickly. Bain would be sworn in prior to the ensuing council meeting on Monday, June 25 and serve until the April 2013 municipal election. The June 8 end of the qualifying period for the Aug. 14 election to replace Espino on the Miami Springs council came and went, with the lone candidate being Bain, the wife of former mayor Billy Bain.
•••As if South Florida wasn’t excited enough over the Miami Heat making the NBA Finals and closing in on a possible NBA title, things hit even closer to home on Monday afternoon, June 18 when a very special event took place at the Miami Springs Community Center. As part of the ongoing NBA Finals against Oklahoma City, the NBA and the Miami Heat opened a new NBA Cares Learn & Play Center — and it was the Miami Springs Community Center that drew the very lucky straw.
Thanks to the efforts of the NBA, Miami Heat and sponsors HP and State Farm Insurance, the community center was the very lucky recipient of a major upgrade to the multi-purpose room. The room itself was transformed with a showcased reading area stocked with new books and a technology space outfitted with brand-new HP PCs, printers and gaming consoles. And, of course, the room was Heat-themed all over the place.
The Monday event was an invitation-only affair that was kept under wraps for more than a month by Springs city manager Ron Gorland, and heavy security from not only the Heat but the league served as a reminder of what an absolute Who’s Who kind of day it was. Numerous local dignitaries, former NBA greats, a slew of Miami Heat players attended, but the big headline-grabber was NBA commissioner David Stern.
With the basketball gym all closed off and decked out in the Heat’s white-themed colors, stands were set up for all of the local Miami Springs “summer campers,” who were escorted into the gym to enjoy the festivities.
Former NFL great Ahmad Rashad served as master of ceremonies, handling all of the introductions for the famous guests, who included Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez; District 12 Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz; former NBA stars Bob Lanier and Clyde Drexler; Heat players Mario Chalmers, James Jones, Juwan Howard, Norris Cole, Eddy Curry and Terrel Harris; Heat Managing General Partner Micky Arison; and finally Stern himself.
Right next to the NBA Finals podium sat the main attraction of the day, the bright and shiny Larry O’Brien Trophy, awarded annually to the NBA champion.
•••Miami Springs offered two-for-one on council meetings on Monday night, June 25 and it was a bargain as both were over by 8:30 p.m. The first, a special meeting at 6:30, had the sole purpose of replacing councilman Dan Espino in Group II. The second, the regular meeting at 7 p.m. ended early, as the council moved quickly toward their July recess.
Grace Bain was sworn in as Espino’s interim replacement by City Clerk Magali Valls within minutes of Mayor Zavier Garcia opening the meeting. There were many friends and family present to see her take a seat on council and she got a standing ovation from everyone in the council chambers.