River Cities Gazette

2013 YEAR IN REVIEW: April through June

 
 
WINNING MOMENT: With an emotional embrace from his wife Melinda, Michael Windrem reacts when his name is announced as the winner of the Group I council race in the Miami Springs Municipal Election on Tuesday, April 2 at the Miami Springs Country Club.
WINNING MOMENT: With an emotional embrace from his wife Melinda, Michael Windrem reacts when his name is announced as the winner of the Group I council race in the Miami Springs Municipal Election on Tuesday, April 2 at the Miami Springs Country Club.
Gazette Photo/ERIC ELZA

River Cities Gazette

 APRIL

Election Day in Miami Springs takes place on Tuesday, April 2 and just over 2,000 of the more than 8,000 registered voters went to the polls. Mayor Zavier Garcia is re-elected by a wide margin over Councilwoman Jennifer Ator, while first-timers Michael Windrem and Jaime Petralanda earn seats on council. Billy Bain and George Lob are unopposed and also earn two-year terms on council.

•••

The City of Miami Springs Public Works cleanup crews were out in full force on Monday morning, April 8 and with good reason. Another Springs River Festival — the 2013 version held April  5-7 — was now in the rearview mirror and plenty of cleaning up needed to be done. The Festival again was a success, with the Mega Reunion on Saturday night drawing the biggest crowd. The weather was perfect, as an estimated 10,000 people “dropped by” over the three days for some food, free entertainment and socializing with familiar faces.

•••

The Miami Springs/Virginia Gardens U-14 girls won the Region A Cup, a first-time achievement for any local soccer team. That win earned the right for this team to in compete the President’s Cup final four in Auburndale, Fla. on the first weekend in April. The girls fell to Cape Coral 4-1 in the state semifinal but came back to take third in the state with a 1-0 win over a team from Pensacola.

•••

On April 16, a new golf director was named and his mission was to improve the playing conditions of the Miami Springs Golf Course and bring it closer to profitability. Paul O’Dell, with years of local experience at Turnberry Isle, the Golf Club of Miami and Doral Park, took over for Mike Aldridge, who resigned in January. 

•••

Construction began in mid-April on the new Space Coast Credit Union building on 36th Street in Virginia Gardens. The old Victoria Station location will be home to a brand new 3,000-square-foot one-story building. Space Coast has been operating out of the old Eastern Financial building at 700 N. Royal Poinciana Blvd. for many years but will move into the new facility later in 2013.

•••

A daytime robbery with shots fired at the AT&T store on Westward Drive took place on Saturday, April 20. The robber wore a hoodie and was armed when he entered the store at 143 Westward Drive. 

The manager and an employee were the only ones in the store at the time and they were forced into the back room. The manager scuffled with the gunman and ran out the door toward the police station. The gunman shot at the manager before entering a black Buick Enclave and escaping. Police arrested John Arthur Lee Jones the next week and charged him with attempted murder and   robbery of the AT&T store.***AY

•••

Longtime Virginia Gardens resident and real estate icon Nancy Deno passed away on April 23, one week shy of her 76th birthday. She and her husband, who died in 2011, started Deno Realty on Westward Drive and it remained there for decades. A “celebration of life” was appropriately held at the Hurricane Bar on April 26, after her memorial services.

•••

On Saturday, April 27, the fifth  annual Relay for Life 18-hour event took place on the Circle. The fundraiser for the American Cancer Society had a goal to raise $65,000 and organizers were 65 percent toward that goal by the end of the day. The usual survivor’s luncheon, this year at Grace Lutheran Church prior to the cancer walk, was very well attended.

 

 MAY

The Medley Chamber of Commerce held a very special meeting on May 8 when Miami Dade-County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle was the guest speaker. She spoke on a variety of subjects for 30 minutes, including the dramatic drop in the crime rate since she took office in 1993. Later, the Medley Co-Police Officers of the Year, Chris Little and Jose Ayala, were honored.

•••

The 34th annual “Daughters of All Ages” banquet took place on Saturday, May 11 at Grace Lutheran Church. More than 200 guests enjoyed the theatre production “Anything Goes” and the dinner prepared by the Grace staff. For young and old alike, many of the daughters honored their mothers the day before Mother’s Day.

•••

The Village of Virginia Gardens held its Sixth Annual Police Appreciation Banquet at the Miami Springs Country Club on Saturday, May 11 to honor its officers and the Village went all out again with an open bar, sumptuous buffet, countless raffle prizes, and a SWAT team demonstration.

And at the end VG Police Chief James Chohonis made the big announcement, naming Darwin Villavicencio as the Virginia Gardens Officer of the Year for 2012. 

•••

Since the death of Father Joseph Carney, Blessed Trinity Church had been without a pastor, until May 19. Father Jose N. Alfaro was appointed to replace Father Carney in late April and announced himself to the congregation and officially took over in June. He is 38 years old and has been a priest for 10 years but has big shoes to fill, as Carney was a beloved figure in the area for many years. 

•••

The Memorial Day tradition continued in Miami Springs on May 27 with a touching ceremony just off the Circle. Mary Ann Goodlett-Taylor read the names of the area servicemen who died in the line of duty and many veterans took to the podium to have their say. The event was organized by the John MacDonald Chapter of the American Revolution (DAR) and included the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and the Sons of American Revolution Color Guard.

•••

On May 31, Miami Springs held its Officer of the Year Banquet at the Optimist Clubhouse. The annual Respect for Law Dinner honored Miami Springs’ finest officers: Officer of the Year Bob Evans; Charles Stafford Going the Extra Mile Award winner Ray Tamargo; Civilian Employee of the Year Leah Cates; and 09-39 Award winner Justin Hall.

 

 JUNE

Miami Springs High School closed another chapter in its books in early June when Principal Anna Rodriguez resigned to take a new position as an administrator at the district office. That brought the arrival of a not-so-new principal. Ed Smith, who was principal during the 2005-06 school year, returned along with his 20 years of experience in the field of education. 

•••

The Miami Springs Council learned at their meeting on Monday June 10 that a new city clerk would have to be found. Magili Valls, after 21 years in the position, notified council that July 5 would be her last day. The vote was unanimous to begin the succession plan immediately and approved the recruitment process presented at the meeting.  

•••

The 12th annual Miami Springs/Virginia Gardens Optimist Dolphin Classic Fishing Tournament took place on Saturday, June 8 and again was a big success. The weather was iffy but 25 boats entered the tournament and a $5,000 check was waiting for the winning team. The Big Kahunas took the check  by catching over 83 pounds of dolphin. Everyone enjoyed the fish fry that followed and all the past Optimist presidents in attendance were honored.

•••

It’s official, the River Cities Festival is back. After 15 years as the Springs River Festival, the dates for the 2014 River Cities Festival (April 11-13) were approved by council at the June 24 meeting. A new festival committee took over immediately and began the planning for the annual three-day event on the Circle and along Canal Street.

Read more River Cities stories from the Miami Herald

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CHARTER INDUCTEE: Doug Orr (fifth from right) was inducted onto Miami Springs’ Wall of Fame on Saturday afternoon, April 12. Orr, who was accompanied by his family, is the first person to receive this honor.

    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.

  •  
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.

  •  
TEE TIME: Miami Springs Golf Director Paul O'Dell worked hard to try and bring the First Tee national golf program to his course which came closer to reality last Monday night when the Miami Springs council gave it the green light go-ahead.

    National golf program, First Tee gets green light from Miami Springs Council

    The regular Miami Springs council meeting last Monday night, April 14 was highlighted by the news that an exciting, nationally known program is coming to the golf course as the council gave the go-ahead to bring a satellite of The First Tee program to Miami Springs and the youth of this community will be the beneficiaries.

Miami Herald

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