City of Fort Myers Fire Department held its Promotion and Award Ceremony for 2020 at the Downtown Firehouse on Jackson Street last Friday, April 30th. Last year's ceremony was suspended because of COVID. With the help of a volunteer committee called the "Firehouse Wives", the firehouse bay area was transformed and ready for family and friends to gather to finally see their loved ones formally pinned.
All those pinned were 2020 promotion candidates or newly hired.
The first pinning was that of Fire Chief Tracy McMillon. He was confirmed in 2020 as the new Ft. Myers Fire Chief. The other positions pinned were Deputy Chiefs, Assistant Chief, Division Chief, Fire Marshal, Assistant Fire Marshal, Battalion Chiefs, Fire Training Manager, Fire Inspectors, Captains, Engineers and Firefighters.
Firefighter of the Year: Engineer Oliver Castellanos
Paramedic of the Year: Engineer Drew Demond
Dedicated Service Award: Engineer Oliver Castellanos, Inspector Tyler Daniels and Pastor Jon Zehnder
Other recognition awards were the Unit Citations, Recognition Certificates and the Phoenix Award. Photos by Jacquie Matthews Williams.
The School District of Lee County is starting the bidding process that will lead to the tearing down and rebuilding of Franklin Park Elementary School. The Florida Department of Education has approved the District’s plan to replace the school rather than modernize it.
“We are so excited to have a beautiful new campus soon that our community, families, and staff can be proud of for many years,” says Franklin Park Principal Michelle Freeman. “Franklin Park will genuinely be a Community Partnership School! We will be able to provide unique services and support to ensure student success. We look forward to continuing to serve our community!”
Franklin Park Elementary opened as an all-black school in 1958. It was converted into a middle school in 1970 and integrated. In 1977, Franklin Park was renovated and returned to an elementary school.
The rebuild, pending state approval at the time, was one of the promises the District made to voters if the half cent sales tax was approved in 2018. The project is expected to cost around $53 million. All but one classroom building and the gymnasium will be torn down and replaced. Both remaining structures will be completely renovated.
“The new Franklin Park Elementary School will acknowledge the historic significance this site has served within our community, but embolden us to provide even more for our students and families,” says Chief of Operations Dr. Ken Savage. “For the first time in the history of Lee County, we will be using our partnerships with the United Way, Lee Health, FGCU and other providers to incorporate community wrap-around services on a school campus. Franklin Park will be a true community school. It will benefit not just the whole child but the whole family.”
Demolition and construction are expected to begin in October 2022 after a year of planning and design. The new school should open in August of 2024. Students will be relocated to a temporary portable campus during the rebuild.
We are finally here and excitement is in the air. I brought to you a month ago or so that we would finally be ready for the rebuild of Franklin Park Elementary School. A briefing was held on April 13th giving an overview of the Community Partnership School Model and the Re-build process with next steps.
Along with the re-build Franklin Park Elementary School is our first Community Partnership school which offers many programs and services such as, Student Supports, Family Support and School Supports. With the 5 year plan they will look at on-site school-based health clinic, on-site food pantry, individual, group, and family counseling, enrichment activities, before and after school activities, Community Partnership School Committees, FGCU internship programs, and Parent resource center just to mention a few.
We are very thankful for our partnership with the United Way, FGCU, Lee Health and the great leadership of Ms. Freeman (Principle) who have made all of this possible for our Community Wrap-Around Programs.
Our campus rebuild project timeline is as follows: Scoping to be completed by Spring of 2021, RFQ’s – Spring 2021-Fall 2021, Design Fall 2021-Winter 2022, Construction (Portable Campus) Winter 2022-Summer 2024, Opening Fall of 2024.
Draft Scope will include Community Engagement for the Project Vision Workshop. I will keep you updated on as we move forward.
If you have any question please feel free to reach out to me at debbiej@ leeschools.net.
Your School Board Member, District 4/ Chairperson, Debbie Jordan.
A Message from The Prince Hall Freemasons
On behalf of the Scottish Rite Masons-PHA (Prince Hall Affiliation), of Southwest Florida, we say thank you, to our sponsors, donors, golfers and volunteers for supporting our 2nd Annual Golf Tournament to benefit the American Cancer Society, at the Lake Venice Golf Club in Venice Florida. With your help we are able to be a blessing to others.
Again, thank you.
Overseer, Grand Inspector General Andrew L. Jordan,33° and Commander-In-Chief, Grand Inspector General Harrison S. Knight, 33°.
“If you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something about it.” John Lewis
The quote by John Lewis has been my mantra since being elected to the school board of Lee County. I remember my days as a high school teacher and hearing my students say, "I won't be a snitch" and explaining to them that sometimes it is your duty to help others by sharing what you know. It is not easy, it is sometimes scary and often very lonely, but it is the right thing to do.
What is something that is "not right": Students not receiving the same equitable resources.
What is not fair: Students being educated in sub par conditions; e.g. 20-year old portable classrooms with unsafe walkways and exposed insulation.
What is not just: Millions of tax dollars being spent to enhance areas that have 18% growth while areas with 66% growth are deprived of their basic tools for success.
If I sit in my seat on the dais and say and, do nothing, I am guilty of complacency, not doing my job. If you are aware of the not right, unfair and not just conditions and do nothing, are you complacent as well? Our children cannot afford for any of us to be complacent, it is their future we are dealing with. You can use your voice to advocate for what are right, fair and just. You do have a voice, an opinion, and a right to be heard.
In the past few weeks the school board has seen more interest and participation in the work of educating children than I have seen since I have been on the board. The district has no choice but to listen and act especially when is comes from the collective voice of The community/Taxpayers that allow us to work for them on behalf of all the children.
What can you do Be Present in mind, body and thought. Be observant of what is being said and done about the education of our children? Be involved; attend board meetings, watch meetings on YouTube Lee Schools TV. Share your voice in an email to BoardOffice@leeschools.net. Participate at a school, you don't have to have children there, we have plenty of students that would love to hear you read or talk to them. Write letters of encouragement to staff and teachers. Thank a Teacher or Staff member, let them know they are appreciated and valued. There are a lot of opportunities for the words Great Job to be spoken. They need to hear from you. You can help, you do have a voice and we need an entire choir, not a solo.
Eccl. 4:7-12: “Two can resist an attack that would defeat one and a rope of three cords is hard to break.” Gwynetta Gittens