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

  •  
CLUTCH HITTER: Miami Springs senior Austin Voeller contributed to the Hawks district semifinal win over Norland on Monday with a base hit and an RBI.

    Miami Springs baseball team tops Norland in district semifinal contest

    Thanks to a great pitching performance from David Cervantes, the Miami Springs Golden Hawks baseball team qualified for the regional playoffs for the first time in five years when the Hawks knocked off Norland 3-1 in a district semifinal contest at Shelly Dunkel Field on Monday afternoon and will take on Goleman on Thursday for the district title.

  •  
Michel Escoto stands as the jurors leave the courtroom on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. He was accused of murdering his new wife for a $1 million insurance policy and found guilty of first-degree murder.

    Criminal courts

    Escoto convicted in murder of new bride for life insurance money

    Miami-Dade jurors deliberated less than three hours to convict Michel Escoto in 2002 slaying of Wendy Trapaga, who was strangled and beaten to death with a tire iron.

  •  
ACE IN THE POOL: Team captain Ellen Scott has played a big role in the resurgence of girls water polo at Springs and proved it last week by scoring nine of her team’s 14 goals in a come-from-behind win over Goleman.

    Miami Springs girls water polo team knocks off Goleman, program on the way back

    Normally, facing a four-goal deficit going into the fourth and final seven-minute period of a water polo match spells certain defeat. But nobody bothered to tell that to members of the Miami Springs High School girls water polo team last week when the Lady Hawks hosted Goleman at the Miami Springs Community Center Pool.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK