On Monday, July 17, VHA members who live north of CR 466 were treated to presentations from the County Commissioners of all three counties that contain The Villages. This was a rare opportunity for Villagers to gain an understanding of the changes and improvements underway and contemplated that affect our members and residents.
Lake County was represented by Commissioner Sean Parks and County Manager Jennifer Barker, both of whom had starring roles in the “State of the County” video they showed. Strongly featured were the responses by Lake’s Emergency Management and Animal Services to the incredible demands caused by Hurricane Ida. Mr. Parks gave a little bit of his background as a lifelong Central Florida resident, public servant, and family man. The video was impressive. You can view it at https://lakecountyfl.gov/board-of-county-commissioners/state-of-the-county.
Marion County BOCC Chairman Craig Curry, a lifelong resident of Marion County, was next, along with Assistant County Administrator Tracy Staub. They told us about Marion County’s major strategic initiatives:
- an additional interchange on the north side of Ocala to relieve the backups on Interstate 75
- CR 42 extension across I-75 which will speed Villagers going west and northwest
- one of the largest Buc-ee’s destination service plazas in the U.S.
- plans to build a veterans nursing home in the county
- attracting scheduled passenger air service back to Marion County Airport in Ocala
Chairman Curry’s presentation can be found at https://www.thevha.net/chairman-craig-curry-marion-county-presentation-2023/curry-presentation-at-villages-07-17/.
Sumter County BOCC chairman and District 3 Commissioner, Craig Estep, represents The Villages north of 466. He briefed the audience on county activity, focusing strongly on budgeting, revenue streams, and the dramatically increased demands on county services over the last several years. He highlighted how the millage rate is coming down as the promised homes in The Villages are being completed and occupied in the area south of SR 44. The county’s infrastructure responsibility was front-loaded, but now the revenue from improved homesites is catching up. Like most Villagers, Mr. Estep is a transplant from the north, but he is clearly dedicated to his Florida friendliest hometown and his neighbors. His slide presentation is https://www.thevha.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/Sumter-County-BOCC-Proposed-FY2023-2024-VHA-Meeting.pptx.
After the three presentations, the crowd split into three areas to ask questions of the commissioners and their colleagues. After the meeting, our guests commented on the insightful questions and comments and the respect and constructive attitude of The VHA members. In return, several members told me that they appreciated the program, as it gave them a glimpse into the different people who represent not only our own homes, but also those of our friends and not-too-distant neighbors.
Karl Arps, Vice President