The town of Windermere received a little jingle in its pocket to improve and enhance two of its many parks, thanks to a grant from the Florida Recreational Development Assistance Program.
At the Oct. 9 Windermere Town Council meeting, Aldin T. Mathews — park manager at Lake Louisa State Park — presented the town with two checks for $50,000 each that will fund improvements to Fernwood and Central parks.
This time last year, town leaders approved design plans for a capital-improvement project regarding some of its parks. Fernwood and Central parks are two of the seven included in the improvement plan.
According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, its Land and Recreation Grants staff administers these funds to local governments through the FRDAP. This is a competitive grant that annually funds both the acquisition and development of land for public, outdoor recreation.
And according to DEP documents, Windermere’s Fernwood Park improvement project and its Central Park improvement project ranked 10 and 17, respectively, on its list of 40 priorities. The scope of these projects includes projects such as development of picnic areas, disc golf courses, nature trails, exercise trails and improvement of the existing facilities.
“Because we are a small community, we do have to count on grants like these to support the recreational amenities at the various parks that we have,” said Town Manager Robert Smith. “We just finished up one (project) at the Windermere Recreation Center where we have new fishing gear, we have a kayak launch, a new picnic area and we did some more improvements there. … We’re actually going to be doing a walking trail/conservation walkway, so you’re going to be able to enjoy and take a look at the lakes. It’s a beautiful view, and now that we have the check … we can get started right away. It helps us out. With small communities like this, it’s large.”
NEW AND PROMOTED OFFICERS
Windermere Police Chief Dave Ogden took to the podium for a bit to talk to residents about three police officers, each of whom was either being promoted or sworn in to duty.
Officer Carlos Hernandez, who recently became the full-time school-resource officer at Windermere Elementary, was promoted to the rank of Patrol Officer 1. Officer Sam Keith was sworn in as a full-time officer, and Officer Jerrell Ogletree was sworn in as a reserve officer.
Ogden told residents and town staff Hernandez completed the Officer 1 testing procedure and received his promotion last month. Hernandez came to the department a few years ago after serving in Casselberry, and he also previously served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“It’s a great time at the Windermere Police Department,” Ogden said. “We have three different levels of structure in the WPD, and we created that a few years back. The purpose is to create a mentoring program for individuals to be able to promote through the system and be able to take on responsibilities as supervisors and leaders and managers of this department.
“We’re very blessed in this way,” Ogden said. “If you look around Central Florida, one of the things you’ve probably seen in the news all the time is that every police agency around here is short-staffed. ... We have not been short-staffed, and we have been at full staff for two years.”