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Now browsing: Hometown News > News > Volusia County

New administrator takes helm in Lake Helen
Rating: 2.53 / 5 (30 votes)  
Posted: 2012 Nov 16 - 06:15

 

 

By Patrick McCallister

For Hometown News

 

 

LAKE HELEN - Kent Cichon is a Volusia County kid who's done well for himself. The new Lake Helen City Administrator used to sit in a Seminole County government office in Sanford with a glorious view of Lake Monroe.

"I was looking across the lake at Volusia County and saying, 'I will be back one day.'"

Back officially started on Monday, Nov. 12, as the baton passed from Lake Helen's first administrator, Don Findell, to Mr. Cichon (pronounced Chichone).

With the city administrator's job comes the oftentimes rough-and-tumble world of Lake Helen politics. As former mayor Mark Shuttleworth used to put it, "Mayberry with an attitude." Mr. Shuttleworth lost his seat to Joan Duffy in 2007. That election year's wedge issue was Mr. Findell.

That year Mr. Shuttleworth and commissioners Lewis Long and Buddy Snowden, who's now mayor, spent much of their campaign time defending Mr. Findell's wages - $130,000 a year including benefits. On the other side, Ms. Duffy along with commission candidates Ann Robbins and Mark Moir decried the pay as an indefensible king's ransom.

The city administrator's job had been created just a few years before to fix another one of the town's wedge issues - former city clerk Ray Leibensperger. During and after the term of former mayor Chris Craft, Mr. Leibensperger was a frequent contentious topic at city commission meetings. At the time there was no administrator and he was frequently forced to essentially act as one. That ruffled a lot of feathers.

Mr. Leibensperger never applied for the new job. He found work elsewhere.

But Mr. Cichone is no stranger to sometimes contentious small towns. In a 4-1 vote, the Jasper City Council fired him without explanation in August 2008. That was at a special meeting, according to the "Jasper News." That newspaper reported eight citizens spoke against the proposed termination, and two for it.

Mr. Cichon said Jasper is behind him, and he's confident Lake Helen and he are a perfect fit. In recent interviews Mayor Snowden said Lake Helen has calmed down a lot over the last five years and old wounds have healed.

After his three-year gig as Jasper's city manager, Mr. Cichone, who likes to be called KC, was budget supervisor for Alachua County's Office of Management and Budget. He started there in 2009.

"I was born at the Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach," he said. "The majority of my life I've lived and worked in Volusia County."

The 47-year-old did his undergrad work at the University of Florida. He got a post-graduate degree from the University of Central Florida. His first couple semesters at UCF were at the Daytona Beach campus.

"I'm a huge Gators fan," he said. "Part of me bleeds orange and blue, and part of me bleeds black and gold for UCF."

Mr. Cicone graduated from Seabreeze High School. During his junior year he set a track record at DeLand High School. That was in 1982. He went on to bodybuilding and other sports. He said golf is one of his favorites, but he rarely gets to play even though he's single with no children.

Not much of that story surprises folks, Mr. Cichon said. However, he said many expect to see him driving a practical sedan. Perhaps an occupational hazard of being a government budget guy.

"I tell them, 'No, I drive a Trans Am., a 2001,'" he said. "The last year they made the Trans Ams and Firebirds was 2002. I also ride motorcycles. I own one, but haven't ridden in quite a while."

That's a nice, impractical Suzuki Intruder - 800 cubic centimeters of cruising comfort.

"The bike I would eventually like to get is more of the super-sport bike," Mr. Cicone said. "Like a 1000 cc."

He plans to hit a lot of Bike Weeks on it when he gets one.

"My parents are still living in Ormond Beach at the home I grew up in," Mr. Cichon said. "Now that I'm back, I'm not looking to leave. I started my life here and want to die here."




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