Employees, Mica honored at Winter Park State of the City

Winter Park recognizes best, brightest

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  • | 6:27 p.m. February 23, 2017
Photo by: Tim Freed - Former Congressman John Mica became the first-ever recipient of the Winter Park Mayor's Founders Award at the Winter Park State of the City luncheon last Friday.
Photo by: Tim Freed - Former Congressman John Mica became the first-ever recipient of the Winter Park Mayor's Founders Award at the Winter Park State of the City luncheon last Friday.
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A year has come and gone for the city of Winter Park, and a chosen few city employees were recognized for their service.

A slew of awards was handed out at the 2017 Winter Park State of the City Address on Friday, Feb. 17, including Employee of the Year, Police Officer of the Year, Firefighter of the Year and the introduction of a new annual honor known as the Mayor’s Founders Award.

The city’s 2017 Employee of the Year was Ed Batcheller of the Parks and Recreation Department, an employee that Parks Director John Holland said played a crucial role in renovating the Winter Park County Club golf course.

“Last year Ed was presented with the opportunity to take on a huge challenge of overseeing the $1.2 million renovation of the Winter Park Golf Course,” Holland said. “After assisting the golf designers with the heavy earthwork, Ed was given the nerve-racking responsibility of carefully and delicately nursing the new turf sprigs into the lush lawn you see today.”

“He lived every day, every night and every weekend on the course to make sure everything was right, and it shows.”

John Bonnell was named Firefighter of the Year for his work in creating and spearheading a community paramedicine program, which strives to give better treatment to residents who frequently contact the fire department for their medical needs. The program allows officers to better assist those residents by placing paramedics at public events and frequently sending paramedics to visit ongoing patients.

“He had the courage to bring a program to us that is going to change the face of the Winter Park Fire Department in the years to come with community paramedicine,” Fire Chief Jim White said.

“We’re normally just a responder: you call and we come. John said we’ve got to be better than that. … We’re going to be able to get out in front of those cases. He had the courage to do that when others didn’t step up.”

Officer Edwin Santos Jr. meanwhile won the honor of being the top cop when he was named the 2017 Police Officer of the Year. Police Chief Michael Deal credited Santos’ hard work, positive attitude and sincere desire to help others. He was also one of many local police officers who helped rescue injured victims during the Pulse nightclub shooting last June.

“Along with other officers and at great personal risk, Officer Santos entered the nightclub while the active shooter was still inside,” Deal said. “He assisted removing victims who had been shot, as well as rescuing others who were trapped inside. Officer Santos’ bravery in the face of extreme danger resulted in numerous victims being rescued and saved.”

“While his actions on this night exemplify the actions of a hero, this incident alone does not define who Officer Santos is. Officer Santos’ actions each and every day exemplify the character of a true hero and a role model.”

Mayor Steve Leary presented former Congressman and longtime Winter Park resident John Mica with the first ever Mayor’s Founders Award. The small trophy made from a street brick and railroad spikes recognizes dedication and commitment to building on founders Loring Chase and Oliver Chapman’s vision: to develop Winter Park into the best place to live, work and play.

Leary credited many of Mica’s initiatives, including SunRail, I-4 Ultimate, the Orlando International Airport expansion, Winter Park’s new train station and his success in keeping the Baldwin Park VA open.

“I accept this on behalf of my longsuffering wife,” Mica quipped. “We will be very much part of this community. I can assure you we’ll do all we can along with you, and each of us can contribute to make it an even better place to live, work, raise our children and retire. …”


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