River Cities Gazette

2013 YEAR IN REVIEW: January through March

 
 
IN DEFENSE: Attorney Jose “Pepe” Herrera (left) defended former Medley Police Lieutenant Joe Olmedo at a Medley public hearing on Jan. 9 in an attempt to get him reinstated.
IN DEFENSE: Attorney Jose “Pepe” Herrera (left) defended former Medley Police Lieutenant Joe Olmedo at a Medley public hearing on Jan. 9 in an attempt to get him reinstated.
Gazette Photo/BILL DALEY

River Cities Gazette

JANUARY

The new year was rung in with the usual parties and celebrations, but the  death of Father Joseph Carney the next day had a sobering effect on the community. Father Carney, 70, had been a priest for 44 years and the pastor of Blessed Trinity Church for the past 30 years.

Father Carney had battled cancer for  more than a year and a funeral mass was held on Jan. 5. More than 500 people attended to say goodbye to a man who impacted so many lives in the community.  

•••

The Town of Medley held two meetings in early January and both were about employees who had been rightfully or wrongfully terminated. The results were different for electrical inspector Bob Ruiz and police lieutenant Joe Olmeda. Ruiz got his job back by a 3-2 vote of the council, while Olmeda’s termination was upheld in a marathon, court-like special meeting that took two days.

•••

Miami Springs Senior High School earned a performance grade of A, the first time since the grading system started in 1999 that the local high school got that honor. Only 35 of 392 schools in the Miami-Dade County School District received an A grade. 

•••

On Jan. 18,  Rebeca Sosa made history when she was named the first Hispanic chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners. More than 300 friends and family attended the installation. Sosa was first elected in 2001 and has contributed to many worthy causes in Miami Springs, including the new Community Center and the Curtiss Mansion.

•••

On Saturday, Jan. 26, the Hialeah-Miami Springs Rotary Club held its Fifth Annual Poker Tournament at the Lions Club on Swallow Drive — and the event was a success once again. Roger Collette turned out to be the big winner as he outlasted 79 other players to win the championship. 

But the real story was 85-year-old Sydney Garton, who left the hospital the morning of the tournament and finished second. Collette won a $1,500 seat at a World Series of Poker tournament the following summer, along with airfare and hotel accommodations.  

•••

At the regular Miami Springs council meeting on Monday Jan. 28, one of the city’s pioneers was honored. Mary Ann Goodlett-Taylor, known as the city historian, got proclamations from the Miami Springs council, County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, and Florida State Senator Rene Garcia. The three proclaimed Jan. 28, 2013 Mary Ann Goodlett-Taylor Day to honor the 78-year-old resident.

•••

The Miami Springs Golden Hawks girls soccer team avenged a district final loss to Mater Academy by beating  them 1-0 on Jan. 25 to advance to its eighth regional final in the last nine years.    However, the next week the Lady Hawks lost Melbourne 4-0 and finished the season with a 17-6-4 record.

•••

The founder of Grace Lutheran Church in Miami Springs, Pastor Albert Schmidt, passed away on Jan. 28. The 86-year-old patriarch of the church was honored with a celebration of life 10 days later. The Miami Springs council would later name the street in front of Grace Lutheran Church “Albert Schmidt Way.”

 

 FEBRUARY 

Two Miami Springs robbery suspects were arrested for murder in early February, after Springs Detective Ray Tomargo distributed a flyer on the beating of a man on the pedestrian bridge on Canal Street. Miami Beach detectives had a similar case and eventually arrested for murder Yorisane Lazo and Cristian Perez, who confessed to the crime in Miami Springs 

•••

With the deadline for entering the Miami Springs municipal election approaching on Feb. 15, the lineup was set for mayor and the four council seats. Incumbent Mayor Zavier Garcia was being challenged by Councilwoman Jennifer Ator, while two of the four council seats had multiple candidates.

Councilman Bob Best was term-limited in Group I and five candidates filed to challenge for his seat: Helen Lawrence, Michael Windrem, Nestor Suarez, Alexander Anthony and Miguel Becerra. In Group II, former Mayor Billy Bain, set to replace his wife, Grace, was the only candidate to file. George Lob in Group III also had no opposition, while the race to replace Ator in Group IV had Jaime Petralanda and Constantine Hernandez as candidates. The election was set for April 2.

•••

On Feb. 16, one of the most popular events in Miami Springs, Daddy and Daughter Date Night, took place at the Miami Springs Country Club. More than 200 daddies and daughters gathered for an evening of dinner and dancing.

•••

For the 14th straight year, the Taste of the Springs was held to generate seed money for the Springs River Festival. The event, co-sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce, took place on Feb. 10 and it was held at the Miami Springs Optimist clubhouse. For $20 per person, attendees sampled food from area restaurants and helped raise $3,000 toward the April 5-7 Springs River Festival. 

•••

Miami Springs High School basketball coach Delmar Wilson not only was honored as the South Florida Chevy Dealers Teacher of the Year but his team qualified for the regional playoffs for the first time in six years. A week later, his Golden Hawks hoopsters lost to the defending state champions in the regionals, but the season was still rated a success. 

•••

At the Miami Springs regular meeting on Feb. 25, it was reported by staff that the city’s pool was in terrible shape and a decision on its future needed to be made. The options were presented to repair the pool for a short-term solution, expend significant dollars to restructure the pool or to build a new state-of-the-art facility at a $2-4 million price tag. No decision was made but it was clear that something needed to be done soon.

•••

The Town of Medley addressed another employee issue at a special meeting in late February. Assistant Town Clerk Mary Taylor had been fired by Mayor Rob Martell and now she wanted her job back. The council voted 4-0, with Martell abstaining, to reinstate Taylor, a 17-year employee who had more than 100 supporters at the meeting.

 

 MARCH

An annual tradition in Miami Springs, the opening of Little League Baseball, took place on Saturday, March 1. Mayor Zavier Garcia and Councilwoman Jennifer Ator, his opponent in the upcoming election, threw out the ceremonial first pitches for baseball and softball, as hundreds of players and parents engulfed Prince Field. 

•••

With Election Day less than a month away, two events were set up to help residents make up their minds on who to vote for on April 2. On Monday, March 11, the Miami Springs Woman’s Club hosted a “Meet the Candidates” luncheon at the Lions Club where residents could talk to the candidates one-on-one. On March 22, a “Candidates Forum” sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce took place at the Rebeca Sosa Theatre in the Community Center. 

•••

Miami Springs High School softball coach Charlie Green got his 900th career win with an early March 13-0 victory over Ferguson High School. In his 23rd season at the helm, Green was presented with a plaque as he became just the third coach in Miami-Dade County history to reach 900 wins.

•••

Miami Springs hosted a state archery tournament at the Community Center on the second weekend in March. More than 100 archers from around the state traveled to Miami Springs for three days of healthy competition. The event was nine months in the planning and was deemed a success by the organizers. 

•••

The old Medley Town Hall is sold to Imagina U.S., a Latin broadcasting network, for $2.6 million. The council unanimously approved the sale of the land “as-is” of the property that housed the town hall and police station since 1976.

•••

Boeing announced in late March that all of its flight simulators were being moved to Virginia Gardens. More than 100 employees were expected to move to the area, as Boeing consolidated its entire North American flight training facility to the 134,000-square-foot Virginia Gardens location.

Read more River Cities stories from the Miami Herald

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PASTOR SCHMIDT WAY: From left, Councilman Jaime Petralanda, Councilman Michael Windrem, grandson Erik Schmidt, son Mark Schmidt, Diane Schmidt (Mark’s wife), son Matthew Schmidt holding the proclamation, Councilman Billy Bain, grandson Jason Schmidt, Pastor David Imhoff, and Mayor Zavier Garcia. Family members were given commemorative street signs.

    Former Grace Lutheran Pastor Albert Schmidt honored by City of Miami Springs

    Kind, caring, and a leader. Those were some of the words at a recent tribute used to describe the Rev. Albert R. Schmidt, the beloved former pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Miami Springs who passed away in 2013 and was the subject of a dedication ceremony when the City of Miami Springs designated a portion of Curtiss Parkway as “Pastor Schmidt Way.”

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CHARTER INDUCTEE: Doug Orr (second from left) was inducted onto the Miami Springs Wall of Fame on Saturday afternoon, April 12. Members of the Miami Springs City Council, from left Mayor Zavier Garcia, Billy Bain, Michael Windrem and Jaime Petralanda were on hand to make the presentation.

    Doug Orr earns spot on Miami Springs Community Center's "Wall of Fame"

    There was a lot to celebrate last weekend as people came from near and far for the River Cities Festival but not all of the celebrating occurred around the Circle and Canal Street as there was an entirely different kind of celebration going on at the Miami Springs Community Center.

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BIG CROWDS, BIG FUN: The annual River Cities Festival enjoyed one of the largest turnouts in its history last weekend and the success was due, in part, to the variety of music and vendors offerring something for everyone as these three festival-goers proved.

    Annual River Cities Festival hits all the right notes for Miami Springs

    The City of Miami Springs Public Works cleanup crews were out in full force on Monday morning, April 14. And with good reason as another River Cities Festival was now in the books and there was plenty of cleaning up to be done as the weekend was highlighted by great weather and big crowds.

Miami Herald

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