May – Celebrate Historic Preservation Month

May – Celebrate Historic Preservation Month

May – Celebrate Historic Preservation Month

by Anne Mooney / May 2, 2023

May is historic preservation month. If your home is historically designated and boasts a plaque, please display your “historic home” yard sign for the month of May – now through May 31.

If you haven’t put your sign out, please do so as soon as you can. If you need a sign, contact Susan Omoto at Casa Feliz or Sally Flynn at and they will arrange to get you one.

For more information regarding the Historic Preservation Board, historic designation and the city’s history, please access

Photo of The Batchellor Home courtesy of the Winter Park Library.

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Why local news matters and how you can help

Why local news matters and how you can help

Why local news matters and how you can help

by Beth Kassab / March 7, 2023

Winter Park is a special place and one of the many elements that make up this city’s spirit and identity is this very site: The Winter Park Voice. 

Love it or hate it, the Voice has delivered important news about one of Florida’s biggest small towns for more than a decade as other sources of local news here and across the country have faded. 

Regional newspapers long ago lost the resources required to give communities the attention they deserve. But because of a group of civic-minded residents who cared about maintaining an informed electorate, the Voice was born to help fill some of that gap in Winter Park.

That’s what I mean by Winter Park’s spirit: A sense of community so strong that people were willing to come together (even from different political persuasions) to ensure that city elections, growth and development and other significant events are documented by an independent source. 

That’s why I’m so honored to step into the editor’s role to not only continue that legacy, but to help grow the Voice’s presence and visibility as a hyperlocal news leader.

I spent 20 years devoted to local journalism at the Orlando Sentinel, where I came to realize a great irony about American democracy. Many voters can discuss (or at least parrot talking points heard on cable news or social media) why they like one presidential candidate or one party over another. But most would be hard-pressed to name all of the members of their city or county commissions. 

Yet it’s local officials who make the most crucial decisions about our quality of life and how much we will pay for it. In Winter Park, it’s the five people who step onto the dais every two weeks who decide the price of water and electricity and how to make sure its clean and reliable; whether to add more parks and green space; how to address traffic congestion; the level of police and fire service; and even how easy it is to pull a permit to renovate your house or business. 

Such choices hit right in the wallet because they impact home values or the cost of monthly utilities. And then there are the intangible effects like how people feel when they enter a neighborhood or drive down an old brick street shaded by a green tree canopy.

Whoever is in the White House or in control of Congress has little or no control over many of the decisions that shape our everyday lives. 

That’s why a number of organizations around the country have called the loss of local news sources a crisis of democracy.

Last year’s State of Local News report from Northwestern University noted that the United States has lost a quarter of its newspapers (more than 2,500) since 2005 and that figure is on track to go up to more than a third of newspapers by 2025.

“In communities without a credible source of local news, voter participation declines, corruption in both government and business increases, and local residents end up paying more in taxes and at checkout,” the report stated.

For all of those reasons, sites like the Voice are crucial to helping people better understand and influence the places where they live and work. We are a small operation (I’m the only employee, though there is a group of reliable contributors) and, like all news organizations, we won’t be able to cover every story. 

My goal is to find stories that inform, surprise and even entertain you with unfailing attention to truth, accuracy and fairness. Over time, I hope you will come to this site to find a mix of hard news that provides a dose of transparency and accountability to local governments and businesses along with feature stories that help showcase what makes Winter Park so very special. 

The Voice is supported financially by people in the community just like you and you can find our major funders here or make a contribution here. We don’t sell ads or subscriptions. Our content and emailed newsletter are free and our editorial policy notes that financial donors do not play a role in news decisions nor do funders review stories or other content in advance of publication. Even our largest supporters see the stories at the same time as everyone else – when they are published on the site. 

I am incredibly grateful to Anne Mooney, the Voice’s editor for nearly nine years and one of the most professional, caring and talented journalists and people I know. Anne has agreed to stay on as an advisor and contributor and her guidance has been invaluable to me through this transition.  

I’m excited to get to know even more of you and want to hear your ideas, questions and concerns. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at or leave a comment on this column. We also encourage you to join our Facebook group and find us on Twitter.

Related: Voice Names New Editor

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Voice Names New Editor

Voice Names New Editor

Voice Names New Editor

by Anne Mooney / March 7, 2023

We are pleased to announce the Winter Park Voice has named Beth Kassab as its new editor, effective immediately. I will still be affiliated with the Voice, but in a much less active, visible role.

Beth has worked as a journalist for more than 20 years. She served in various capacities at the Orlando Sentinel, both as an investigative reporter and as a popular columnist. She is no stranger to Winter Park, having covered it off and on for the Sentinel. 

Beth expressed gratitude for the opportunity to build on the work we have done here for the past 10 years and to take the Voice to the next level. With Beth at the helm, the Voice is poised to continue delivering quality news and information to our readers while upholding the values of journalistic integrity and community engagement that has established the Voice as a trusted source of information.

I am truly grateful for all the support and collaboration I have enjoyed over my years as Voice editor. Winter Park is a unique and wonderful community, and I am proud to be part of it. This transition in leadership is a milestone for the Voice and the community it serves. I am grateful to Beth for accepting the torch and am excited to see where she will take the Voice, with renewed energy and commitment to journalistic excellence.

Good luck, Beth! Winter Park, you’re lucky to have her.

Related: Why local news matters and how you can help

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Mayor says future power sources to be city’s ‘biggest’ decision

Mayor says future power sources to be city’s ‘biggest’ decision

Mayor says future power sources to be city’s ‘biggest’ decision

Winter Park’s 55th mayor, Phil Anderson, delivered his state of the city speech focusing on the environment and ‘small-town feel’

Mayor Phil Anderson zeroed in on imminent decisions over Winter Park’s environmental policies in his “State of the City” address on Friday, calling the choices about how to provide electricity to residents and business the biggest decision “for the next 50 years” and said flooding from Hurricane Ian was a “wake-up call” prompting changes to how to move water through the region.

A study is underway to determine what sources of power – natural gas, coal, nuclear or solar — Winter Park’s electric utility should purchase. Winter Park is one of only 33 municipal-owned providers in a state where more than three quarters of the population is served by one of the large investor-owned utilities such as Duke Energy or Florida Power & Light.

“This is probably the biggest policy decision that this city is going to wrestle with for the next 50 years,” Anderson said, noting he wants to reduce the city’s carbon footprint “responsibly.” “We’re going to do this right.”

He also noted the need to work with other nearby governments from Osceola County to Jacksonville to address how the region will contain onslaughts of water brought by major storm events such as Ian, which dumped more than 15 inches of rain on Central Florida in September 2022. 

Anderson noted that “by the old math” such a rain event would happen only once every 500 years. “We think the old math may not work and we’ve got to do something about it,” he said, though he said it was unclear how much the changes would cost.

Winter Park, which has about 30,000 residents, remains on strong financial footing with a budget of just under $200 million. That’s more than an 11% increase over the previous year, including $1.6 million of new revenue from the newly-acquired Winter Park Pines Golf Course.

Anderson emphasized his desire to protect the city’s “small-town feel” and neighborhoods as well as the health of the shopping and dining corridor along Park Avenue. Part of those efforts will include enhancements to the city’s parks and potential traffic calming measures.

Proposed changes to State Road 426, a major east-west carrier of traffic through the heart of Winter Park to the growing Seminole County city of Oviedo, are likely to be a subject of debate this year.

A group of citizens known as ‘Fix 426’ is advocating for safety changes and the Florida Department of Transportation is considering ways to address concerns on S.R. 426 between Park Avenue and Lakemont Avenue, a stretch of the road carved through the city’s chain of lakes and neighborhoods with a series of sharp curves.

“People do not feel safe walking those roads,” Anderson said. “Because of grassroots organization we are seeing great progress and great ideas being shared. We may not get everything we’d like to see but we are going to get a lot of things we need to see.”


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Todd Weaver to remain in office

Todd Weaver to remain in office

Todd Weaver to remain in office

Close vote determines resignation wasn’t sufficient

Todd Weaver will remain on the Winter Park City Commission after three of the five commissioners voted to determine an email he sent earlier this month titled “Stepping Down” was not a “legally sufficient” resignation. 

The 3-2 vote concluded nearly two weeks of debate over Weaver’s future since the he sent the message to supporters and senior city staff on Feb. 3 only to say days later that he didn’t want to resign after all and asserting in a commission meeting last week that the email was merely an “announcement” rather than a resignation.

A contrite Weaver apologized for the hubbub at a special meeting on Wednesday to decide his fate.

“I apologize for being the cause of this special session,” he said, noting that he was sleep deprived and contending with new work duties outside of City Hall on the morning he sent the letter. “I should have given it a little more time before I hit the send button …  it was just a stupidity move on my part.”

At stake was whether Weaver could serve the remainder of his term until 2025 or if the City Commission would appoint someone new to fill the seat until the next general election in 2024. The city attorney said at last week’s meeting that if Weaver’s note was considered an immediate resignation then it was unlikely he could take it back.

Jockeying among interest groups and candidates to fill the post began within hours of Weaver’s email.

An opinion from a labor attorney sought by the city on the matter questioned Weaver’s credibility and concluded his message was a clear resignation.

“In my view, Mr. Weaver’s recent statements appear to be a crude attempt by him to recharacterize the events of him drafting and sending the email,” wrote Benton Wood of law firm Fisher Phillips.

Mayor Phil Anderson and Commissioner Sheila DeCiccio voted in favor of calling Weaver’s action a resignation and pointed to the attorney’s opinion as well as language in Weaver’s letter, including his use of the past tense when talking about his tenure and his signature on the email, which noted his time as a commissioner from 2019-2023, two years before his term is scheduled to end.

“The clear thrust of the communication is to inform residents he’s stepping down,” DeCiccio said.

Commissioners Marty Sullivan, Kris Cruzada and Weaver himself voted to keep Weaver in place and rejected the legal opinion.

Sullivan said Weaver clearly wanted to continue to serve and it was in the best interest of Winter Park residents to have a commissioner elected by the people rather than one appointed by the commission.

Ten residents spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting and were split over whether to keep Weaver, a proponent of more sustainability policies in the city, on the board.

“Have you ever changed your mind about something?” asked resident Pat McDonald, noting that at last week’s commission meeting the people on the dais conceded they wanted to change course on plans for the old library building when they ended an agreement with one developer to solicit new ideas. “Let’s just assume it was a resignation letter. He changed his mind.”

At least one resident noted her “trust is not within Mr. Weaver anymore.”

Cruzada said he found Weaver’s email to be “ambiguous” and assigning meaning to it would be a “slippery slope.”

“When I read the email, it was kind of like reading a book with no ending …,” Cruzada said. “It’s not as crystal clear as I would like it to be … Do I cringe about how we got here? Yes, it’s regrettable. We’re all human. We all err every now and then.”


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