Juneteenth events on tap for the weekend

Juneteenth events on tap for the weekend

Juneteenth events on tap for the weekend

A series of celebrations to mark the day of emancipation for enslaved people will include a remembrance of the Rosewood massacre

By Beth Kassab

Celebrations of the federal Juneteenth holiday will kick-off in Winter Park on Thursday with the 5th Annual Hannibal Square Community Land Trust Juneteenth Roundtable Discussion on Race, Housing and Health.

The event will take place at the Winter Park Events Center from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Admission is free. To register go to hannibalsquareclt.org/juneteenth-2023.

On Saturday, residents will have multiple events to choose from including a free Father’s Day breakfast and “Remembering Rosewood,” a program curated by Barbara Chandler in partnership with the Hannibal Square Heritage Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Winter Park Community Center & Shady Park. For a full schedule of events and more information click here. 

Then on Saturday evening the Equity Council and the city’s Parks & Recreation Department will put on A Night Under the Stars: Jazz & Jubilee at Shady Park from 5  to 10 p.m.

Finally, the Winter Park Library will host multiple programs related to Juneteenth. For a full calendar or to reserve a seat at an event click here.

The federal holiday will be officially observed on Monday, June 19.

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League of Women Voters to host discussion on the affordable housing crisis

League of Women Voters to host discussion on the affordable housing crisis

League of Women Voters to host discussion on the affordable housing crisis

Affordable housing is a concern in Winter Park, where officials have discussed transforming the old library into workforce apartments

The Orange County League of Women Voters will host a panel on affordable housing solutions for the region this week as Central Florida continues to see soaring rents and property values that price even middle-class families out of homes in some areas.

“Give Me Shelter: Innovative Solutions to Our Housing Crises” is the latest in the league’s popular “Hot Topics” series and will begin at 11:30 on Wednesday at the Winter Park Events Center. Register here. 

Panelists include Terry Prather, senior advisor to Lift Orlando, Ryan Von Weller, chief operating officer for Wendover Housing Partners, and Mitchell Glasser, Housing and Community Development manager for Orange County. Beth Kassab, editor of the Winter Park Voice, will moderate.

“Low wages, a shortage of apartments and rising rents create a perfect storm for workers, their families and others who live on fixed incomes,” reads a description of the event. “What is being done long-term to provide the kind of communities where people can live? The panelists will provide examples of two innovative solutions to housing and how they work with the community and local government.”

This week the Winter Park City Commission will hear from residents at two meetings where the fate of the old library is on the agenda. At least one potential proposal by a local developer calls for the city to trade the library property for the Bank of the Ozarks property, which would allow the old library land to be transformed into, at least in part, workforce housing.

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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 susan@casafeliz.us or Sally Flynn at flynnlinks@aol.com 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 cityofwinterpark.org/historicpreservation

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

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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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Global Peace Film Festival Comes to Winter Park

Global Peace Film Festival Comes to Winter Park

Global Peace Film Festival Comes to Winter Park

September 19-25

Guest Columnist Charley Williams / September 6, 2022

Wander the globe without going through a single pesky TSA line. Leave your luggage in the closet where it won’t get lost. Catch up on your bucket-list destinations, as the world comes to Winter Park!

It’s the 20th Annual Global Peace Film Festival, Monday, September 19 through Sunday, September 25, with screenings at Enzian, the Rollins campus and the Winter Park Library.

Long and Short Documentaries in 23 Categories

More than 34 long- and short-format documentary films in 23 separate categories address issues which are top-of-mind in today’s world: voting, social justice, music, civil rights, environmental justice, ethics and immigration — to name a few.

Website Available Now

View trailers and film bios on the festival website peacefilmfest.org.  Most films will be screened multiple times. The website also lists panel discussions and art exhibitions. You can purchase tickets for in-person and virtual viewings on this site. Tickets for opening night are $12; all others are $10.

Virtual Screenings Available

From September 20 to October 2, virtual screenings will be available for movie lovers who are out of town or unable to attend in-person events.

Opening Night – September 20 at the Enzian

Opening night will be held at the Enzian theatre September 20th, with the screening of World Peace and Other 4h Grade Achievements.

Human Peace Sign – September 21 at the Library

As a bonus feature, Valencia College will celebrate the United Nations International Day of Peace with the staging and photographing of a Human Peace Sign, Wednesday, September 21 at the Winter Park Library following the 6:00 pm screening of Mission Joy.

What are your personal choices?

My personal picks: Into the Canyon (750-mile hike thru the Grand Canyon); American River (Passaic River, NJ); Shepherds of the Earth (Kenya); Into Dust (Pakistan); The Long Break-up (Ukraine); and the Big Payback (discussing reparations solutions for past racial injustices).



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What Does Democracy Mean to You?

What Does Democracy Mean to You?

What Does Democracy Mean to You?

Editor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.  

Guest Columnist Charley Williams / July 2, 2022

July 4th is the time to re-examine and to celebrate WHAT democracy means to each of us, to our families. to our close associates, to those with whom we may disagree.

Democracy is fragile. Our unique brand of American democracy is based not only upon representative government but also upon inclusiveness and a healthy respect for the minority point of view. The road to compromise begins with inclusion, healthy discourse and respect.

E Pluribus Unum: “Out of Many, One”

These words from the Great Seal of 1776 have formed our mantra for the past 246 years, thanks to John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. As we approach this July 4th, how will each of us renew those words? We should be intentional about engaging in these conversations. As Winston Churchill said, “A nation which forgets its history has no future.”


A free media is essential to a healthy democracy. Can democracy flourish in an environment where truth is neither honored nor respected? We have seen how propaganda works if unchecked and unchallenged. Misinformation causes real harm. Is social media an asset or a liability? Ask your kids.


One person, one vote. Have we strengthened the right to vote and maintained easy access to the ballot for all citizens? Have we made it more difficult to vote? Is our Achilles heel voter fraud or the simple fact that not enough Americans are voting?

Church and State

Are we maintaining the separation between church and state that was so important to our Founding Fathers?

Future Citizens

Our children are our country’s greatest asset. Are we investing enough in healthcare, education and skillsets that nurture productive and engaged future citizens?

Rule of Law

Do we know our own history? The United States is a nation of immigrants. It was almost dissolved over the issue of slavery and was further endangered by the “neo-slavery” which transgressed the rule of law for more than 70 years. With the exception of our native peoples, we need to remember that all our forebears came from somewhere else.


Are our institutions fostering trust by operating in a transparent and responsive manner, providing for the common good? Are our collective efforts focused on safe roads, safe drinking water, healthcare for people when they need it, and a fair and impartial judicial system?


Can we rely upon law enforcement at all levels to provide a safe and secure society even though we now live in a country where the number of guns far outnumbers the number of citizens?

When you start the conversation this July 4th, ask yourself first: “What does democracy mean to me?” Then ask yourself, when was the last time I heard the words: “I might be wrong,” or “I’m sorry?” Having begun the conversation, practice stepping back and listening to the person with whom you’re having this conversation.

More than ever, the weight of our country’s health rests on each of our shoulders. As political scientist Barbara F. Walter maintains, “Democracy only works if we want it to work.” And we have work to do to make sure our Democracy remains strong and healthy.

Charley Williams
Winter Park

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