By Cecil G. Brumley
1. Deltona leaders freeze planned utilities rate increase
After huge protests by residents, Deltona City Commissioners froze water and sewer rates rather than continue with a 17.25-percent increase. While residents complained rates had gotten too expensive, the city is going to be under the gun to pay existing debt and needed improvements.
2. Student killed on way to school prompts stepped up safety efforts in Orange City.
While safety of children on their way to school was a big issue countywide, it was especially critical in Orange City after a high school student was killed on his way to University High. The city improved crossing lanes and police stepped up enforcement of school zone speeding limits and other rules.
3. Orange City councilman censured for suggestive e-mails.
An Orange City councilman was reprimanded by his colleagues for a string of sexually suggestive e-mails on his city-issued cellphone. Tom Abraham did not lose his council seat and also claims his privacy was violated.
4. Elections create big changes in area governing boards; voters were in a no mood.
In the biggest surprise of the election, relatively unknown Jason Davis won the Volusia County Chair's position. Sheriff Ben Johnson easily won re-election as did Supervisor of Elections Ann McFall and Clerk of Court Diane Matousek. County voters rejected a new school tax, though. In Deltona, three new city commissioners were elected. County Councilwoman Patricia Northey also easily won re-election.
5. University High student fatally shoots himself in Orange City library
An Orange City 16-year-old was playing with a gun in a library when he shot himself in the eye. Yardeh Gautier, another 16-year-old and a 19-year-old went to the Dickenson Memorial Library at 148 Albertus Way after they left University High School. While there, Gautier was showing the gun to the others when he accidentally fired it.
6. DeBary boy gets to keep his chickens.
A two-year-old DeBary boy with autism spectrum disorder and his "therapy" chickens were big news after the city tried to take them away as a code violation. In the end J.J. Hart got to keep three chickens as part of a year-long pilot program the city decided to try.
7. Deltona becomes city of champions.
The city of Deltona could boast two sports teams with big championships. The West Volusia Wolves became first Volusia County team to win a Pop Warner national championship. Trinity Christian's baseball team won its third state championship.
8. DeBary council members censure Mayor Bob Garcia
Citing irrational behavior, the DeBary City Council reprimanded Mayor Bob Garcia and took away some of his privileges. Garcia made several outlandish comments as he opposed the other four council members on issues, including the city budget, the construction of a splash-pad park and J.J. Watt's chickens.
9. Former Deltona Little League president accused of stealing
George Joseph Anthon, 45, the former Deltona Little League president, was arrested and charged with the theft of league money. Anthon, who admitted having a gambling problem, was accused of stealing $7,647.14 (which included overdraft fees) of the league's funds. Investigators showed he also paid for a North Carolina ski trip for his family, Volusia County sheriff's investigators said.
10. Manatees return to Blue Spring in record numbers
An early cold snap brought down the water temperature in the St. Johns River and sent manatees heading to Blue Spring. A manatee count showed more manatee calves than had ever been reported before at Blue Spring in Orange City.