THE VILLAGES - District OKs purchase of amenities
Bonds finance $63 million facility buy from developer
COURTESY: OCALA STAR BANNER
By JOE CALLAHAN
Published November 10, 2005
THE VILLAGES - Nearly 7,000 homeowners living south of Sumter County Road 466 will soon begin paying back $63 million in bonds that will be acquired next week for that area's recreation facilities.
In an unanimous vote on Tuesday, the supervisors of the Sumter Landing Community Development District approved acquiring the bonds needed to pay The Villages developer for more than 20 facilities.
A portion of each resident's monthly amenity fee of about $130 will be used to pay back the bonds through October 2038. The facilities include golf courses and recreation centers, as well as security and postal buildings.
Amenity fees generate about $10 million annually south of County Road 466.
Hank Fishkind, the Sumter Landing Community Development District financial advisor, wrote in a document that the Villages developer will actually receive 4 percent less than the value of all the assets.
Bonnybrook Neighborhood Pool, located on Belvedere Boulevard, is among the $63 million in recreational facilities acquired by the Sumter Landing Community Development District.
Fishkind wrote the developer will receive $60.5 million from the transaction, after all fees are paid. That is about $2.5 million less than the appraised value of all the facilities.
Pete Wahl, district administrator for The Villages, told the five supervisors the deal with The Villages was in the best interest of the residents because it would guarantee their ownership and public access.
"The developer is in the business of building and selling property," said Wahl, adding if the bonds were not acquired then the developer would sell the facilities to a recreation-oriented company.
That would mean the residents may not have free access to the facilities, have no say in how the facilities are operated and would have no venue to voice concerns and opinions about how the money is spent.
Numerous bond issues in the last decade have been controversial with many residents living in the community of 50,000 residents located in Marion, Lake and Sumter counties.
The controversy surrounds the fact that each district's first supervisors - who represent the residents to determine how the amenity fees are spent - are appointed by the developer.
"The fact is the developer appointed the supervisors and the supervisors approved the deal with the developer," said Joe Gorman, president of the Property Owners' Association of The Villages. "I would say that is a conflict of interest."
Florida law allows for the development districts to be established so that residents have a quasi-governmental agency to make decisions on where the money is spent.
When each new section of the development is launched, there are no residents to sit on the board - thus the developer appoints a board that remains for a few years.
When enough residents move into the area, then elections are held and the residents can choose those supervisors. Gorman said before the supervisors are replaced with actual residents that the bonds have been purchased and "we are saddled with the debt," he said.
Gorman believes that before residents can elect district supervisors that all bond transactions should be subject to a referendum so the residents can vote to determine whether to buy the facilities.
Bob Blakeley, a resident who lives south of CR 466, said he does not like the bond concept. He called The Villages developer a machine that only cares about money.
"They are looking to make a large profit and that's it," Blakeley said.
Villages officials did not return calls for comment about how much profit The Villages developer makes on all recreation bond transactions.
Here is a list of the properties that will be sold to the residents for $63 million:
Pimlico, Bridgeport, Churchill Street, Hibiscus and Allamanda village recreation centers;
Winifred, Bonnybrook, Ashland, Belvedere, Lynnhaven, Sunset Pointe and Poinciana neighborhood recreation centers and postal parks;
Laurel Manor Regional Recreation Center;
Lake Sumter Wayside Park;
Lake Sumter Landing Port Authority building;
Belvedere Executive Golf Links;
and all associated security facilities.
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It Takes a Village
Equal parts Aldous Huxley and Walt Disney, Gary Morse's brave new world vision puts lots of hyper in active adult.
VILLAGE PEOPLE: Immigration at a rate like nowhere else in the nation is what makes The Villages an off-the-charts active adult phenomenon, where amenities rule.
Source: BIG BUILDER Magazine
Publication date: April 1, 2005
By Theresa Burney
ROSELYN AND BOB GRIBBLE REALIZED JUST HOW much control The Villages developer has over this Central Florida community when they went shopping at the local furniture store a year ago.
A sales rep at Southern Lifestyles Fine Furnishings typed the address of their under-construction home into a computer and the floor plan popped up. The couple bought furniture for the house. On the day they closed on their home, the furniture had been delivered and put in place. This developer has got it all covered, says Bob Gribble. They own the bank and the furniture store.
Not to mention the community's local water utility, real estate, insurance, and mortgage companies, assisted living facility, The Villages' Daily Sun newspaper, WVLG-AM 640 radio station, and VNN cable TV station. Representatives of the developer also operate the community's dozens of amenities, from golf courses and tennis courts to polo fields and recreational facilities.
Buyers are typically so dazzled after touring the 20-square-mile development between Ocala and Orlando that they spend little time dwelling on the developer's local monopoly before they ante up for a lot.
The Villages sold 3,955 homes for better than $800 million in revenue last year, one home every two hours and 13 minutes making it the fastest growing master planned community in the U.S. in 2004, according to Robert Charles Lesser & Co. It eclipsed the No. 2 player, Avatar's nearby Poinciana, by 1,176 homes.
The Villages was No. 25 on BUILDER magazine's BUILDER 100 listing in 2003, reporting $668 million in gross revenue, a 44 percent increase from the year before. And it was also the only builder in the top 50 doing that much business in one location. It's been pretty wild, says Gary Lester, vice president of community relations for The Villages. And it's likely to continue to be.
Ryan Mathews, a futurist and CEO of Black Monk Consulting, says a development like The Villages is attractive to those on the cusp of the baby boom generation because they like to be around other people like themselves, who are writing new rules about what retirement is about. These are not people getting ready to die. They are getting ready to go to a party, says Mathews.
Visitors, as in the case of the Gribbles, often decide to buy within hours of touring the community. Even if they are a little uneasy with the developer's control, they are entranced with his product and a little in awe of his business acumen. It's pure capitalism and it works, says Bob Gribble. We bought into the whole thing. We even put our money in their bank, says Roselyn Gribble. At last year's rate of sales, 145 new people moved in each week. Amenities and lifestyle, rather than the houses themselves, lead buyers to hand over their cash at first sight, residents say.
It is difficult for buyers not to be impressed with a community that's an adult Disney World. There are two quaint Main Streets with stores and restaurants, and two transportation centers where buses leave for airports and other excursions. Landscaping is so pristine that a weed hardly gets a chance to root before it is plucked out and replaced with a flowering annual.
And there are so many activities that it should probably be labeled a hyperactive adult community. Residents crisscross the community in their golf carts, not only to tee off but for groceries, belly dancing, billiards, swimming, movies, college courses, two-for-one happy hours, and free entertainment every night at the two town squares. Even the new hospital is accessible via golf cart paths that burrow beneath the streets via tunnels.
The Villages is so self-contained that there are residents who seldom leave its boundaries. Others don't want to. We call it our bubble, says one-year resident Lynda Pearce. You don't want to visit the kids or anything, chimed in Roselyn Gribble.
The Morse Code
Many developers would be eager to share the details of growing what was a sleepy and unprofitable community of 400 manufactured homes in 1983 to a lively series of individual villages with about 24,000 homes and 47,000 people in 2005. But The Villages President H. Gary Morse turned down interview requests. Mr. Morse is a modest man, says company spokesman Lester.
Morse is said to be quiet, even shy. He keeps business dealings quiet and in the family. A son runs day-today operations. One daughter is in charge of architecture and interior design. Another is sales manager. A son-in-law is in charge of commercial and professional real estate. Clearly, though, Morse is at the helm.
He is like Walt Disney, a visionary, says John Rohan, an administrator of The Villages' newest development districts. Like Disney, he waxes dramatic. Morse, who lives on a chunk of land in the development, keeps a herd of buffalo that residents take their grandchildren to feed.
And he wields power. The development recently got state approval for a new hospital without having to go through the lengthy certificate of need approval process. Last fall, President George W. Bush showed up in The Villages on a campaign swing. Morse ranks as a top-25 Republican Party fundraiser, and there's a 2-to-1 Republican majority among Village residents.
If Morse made The Villages profitable, it was his father, Harold Schwartz, who is credited with founding The Villages. Unlike the shy Morse, Schwartz, who died in December 2003 at age 93, was often seen walking about the community, talking to residents. He and Morse got into the business of selling thousands of acres in New Mexico and Florida by mail order in the 1950s and 1960s. They sold land in central Florida for $10 down and $10 a month until the Florida Legislature banned mail-order land sales in 1969. That left Schwartz holding a lot of land in Florida.
Schwartz started what would become The Villages as a manufactured home community in 1972 under the name of his land company called Orange Blossom Hills. In 1983, the development on U.S. Highway 27/441 had 400 homes and, with less than $2-million in sales, was unprofitable.
Schwartz bought all the company's stock in 1983 and put in a new management team led by his son
Under Morse's leadership the business started turning a profit. By 1987, the development had $40 million in annual sales and more than $4-million in profits, the bond documents say. In 1989, The Villages began constructing site-built homes. Sales remained steady until 1997, when the first town center was completed, and sales jumped from 753 to 1,054 homes. From there, sales climbed steadily by about 300 more homes each year until 2002, when the numbers began to multiply exponentially, before jumping close to 4,000 last year.
The Villages used to boast impressive stats on construction details but the construction pace has accelerated to the point where such numbers become obsolete almost immediately. The Villages hires six contractors to build the houses it sells and it's safe to say they employ thousands of workers, says Lester. It's an army, and it's an army on the move, he says. The Villages itself also employs thousands as well: 2,289 in 2004.
Jay Thompson, who runs Del Webb's Spruce Creek Country Club community a few miles from The Villages, says the development's independent family ownership has allowed them to be nimble and to take big risks. They made some really bold, and what proved to be appropriate, decisions back in the late 80s and 90s, says Thompson.
Investing in the community's first town center, a Ponce de Leon-themed mecca designed by Universal Studios architects Forrec Ltd. was a watershed event that sparked The Village's building explosion. The town center gave the community a heart and a place to gather. And it gave The Village's marketing department a theme to build on. The Villages, where the smiles shine all year round. The Villages, Florida's friendliest hometown, became the community's jingle. Their first town center was a paradigm shift for what was really a sleepy little subdivision, says Thompson. That was a significant investment top notch.
The town went up so fast that it startled development consultant Daryl Spradley as he drove by one night in the late 1990s. "I stopped my car, opened the door, stood up and said, 'My God.' I was overwhelmed at what was happening in the middle of nowhere," says Spradley. "Ever since, it's been on our radar screen."
The Villages has since grown to two town centers. Sumter Landing Town Square, themed to look like a Key-West style village with a lighthouse on the shores of a newly dug lake and its own fake historical plaques, opened last year. A third is on its way.
Both town squares and the residential areas were developed by creating Community Development Districts (CDDs)-special-purpose government entities that were written into Florida law in 1980. For The Villages, which created its first CDD in 1992 to build its first town square, infrastructure means far more than streets. Bond money also built the development's many golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pools, recreation complexes, and the Savannah Center, a performing arts hall. "CDDs gave them the capital that they needed to really launch the community," says Thompson. "That was clearly the point where they moved from the sleepy little trailer park to the community behemoth they are today."
Through assessments, residents pay a bill for the infrastructure in their neighborhood that varies from $100 to $250 a month. Another monthly assessment of $119 covers the development's amenities. The mandatory monthly assessment fee buys residents access to every amenity, including free golf on all the executive golf courses and access to the development's country clubs.
"For five years we went everywhere from Miami to North Carolina," says Ron Pearce, who moved to The Villages about a year ago from Miami with his wife, Lynda. "Other communities pointed to the houses and said they would be adding amenities. Every time we went back, they [the amenities] weren't done. Here, we saw first-hand what we were going to get."
The houses themselves are unremarkable, starting at $110,000 for a villa, and climbing well beyond the $200,000 starter price for designer homes. No problem. "When you come, you are not in the house anyway," says Jean Shawley, who moved to The Villages from Pennsylvania 4 1/2 years ago with husband, Barry. She's out at dawn to dance, then meets up with her husband for afternoon golf. Most evenings, they're at the town center, for more dancing.
The couple visited other retirement communities before deciding to buy in The Villages, but was turned off because they never saw anybody outside. One look at The Villages and the couple decided to buy within a few hours. "We saw all these active people," Shawley says.
Active adult communities can help shield younger seniors from society in general, where younger people discount them as obsolete and those from their parents' Depression-era generation chastise them for frivolous ways. "I think creating meaningful community for people as they age is going to be one of the significant social challenges that America has ever faced," says futurist M
athews. "And there is going to be a huge fortune for people who are willing to do it correctly."
Getting The Word Out
Residents have become the developer's best marketing tool. They tell their friends and families how happy they are and pressure them to visit and buy. "We have got some folks who are almost in a competition to bring in the most residents," says Pete Wahl, district manager for The Villages Community Development Districts. Some residents are so industrious that they essentially recreate their hometown in Florida.
"We had one guy who, I think, brought 150 families here," says Wahl. "And we have got one street that is made up of one family." But the rate of growth is far beyond that of any small town. "I am basically recreating my own hometown four times a year," says Wahl, who grew up in a small town in the Midwest.
Drive through a new neighborhood under construction, and it is common to see a dozen homes in various stages of construction within a few block area. "They are organized, very well organized," says Jim Holland, president of building materials for Hughes Supply Inc., which built a facility at The Villages in the 1990s and has since built a bigger one to meet the development's materials needs.
"They do an excellent job running their business and they forecast well," Holland says. "They can pretty much tell you how many homes they are going to sell next week, next month, and they finish when they say they will."
The development's bond documents project that The Villages will continue to build homes at the current pace until 2012, when the 20,256-acre development reaches build-out at 55,960 homes and about 100,000 people. That pace may be a challenge to maintain, says Spradley, the development consultant.
"There are major labor issues around Florida and not having the ability to get enough craftsmen to deliver finished product could be a problem," says Spradley.
Plus, as the development grows to the size of a good-sized city, it may lose the feeling of small-town life and community the developer has managed to nurture and grow, says Thompson of Del Webb's nearby community. Keeping the community feel that has made the development a success, "that is their challenge now," says Thompson. For now, Gary Morse's code is signaling unabated growth.
It's About The Amenities
The Villages offer enough activities to earn the title of "hyperactive" adult community. Here is what highly amenitized living looks like at a glance:
Two town squares with free entertainment nightly
Two movie theaters with eight screens each and stadium seating
18 executive golf courses available to residents for only a cart fee
7 championship golf courses
30-plus tennis courts
5 softball fields
2 bowling centers
A professional polo field
A performing arts center
A wellness center
A woodworking shop
Hundreds of clubs that run the gamut from "dirty Uno" to kite flying
12 recreation centers
74 shuffleboard courts
72 bocce ball courts
56 pickleball courts (a sport played with a whiffle ball and a ping pong paddle in an area half the size of a tennis court)
57 billiards tables
53 horseshoe pits
A buffalo herd
Using Other People's Money
A secret to what has made The Villages such a phenomenon has been press-shy developer H. Gary Morse's strategy to borrow money to build the community like governments do. He issues non-taxable bonds with an interest rate of 2 percent to 2.5 percent. And he pays no state sales tax on goods and services, saving 6 percent on all purchases.
That's because his mega-community is being developed by 12 little governments called Community Development Districts (CDDs). In Florida, CDDs are special-purpose local governments approved by cities and counties to provide specific functions for its residents. The districts provide infrastructure and tax residents for it in the form of assessments and fees. Traditionally, a developer finances the infrastructure and then pays off his debt with home sales. In contrast, The Villages sells bonds to build the infrastructure and the residents are assessed a fee to pay off the debt. They also pay assessments for maintaining infrastructure. Elected officers manage CDD communities. In the early years of the projects, before there are many homeowners, the developer appoints the officers.
Although no exact numbers are available, industry observers say the CDD or special government method of financing is on the rise, though the details differ from state to state. They are useful for developers facing increasingly high up-front development costs because CDDs take the burden of financing projects off their shoulders and puts it on homebuyers.
"Access to the capital markets provides the ability to produce infrastructure and amenities at a high level and a high quality early on in projects," says Stanley Geberer, an associate and senior economist for Fishkind & Associates, which helps developers establish CDDs.
Governments tend to like them because CDDs relieve cash-strapped cities and counties from infrastructure costs while increasing the tax base, says Keyvan Izadi, a land-use planner for the NAHB. For homeowners, CDDs provide an entity designed to take care of infrastructure in perpetuity and a way to pay for it.
But the funding method does have a down side, says Jim Nicholas, a professor of law and urban planning for the state of Florida, who helped draft Florida's CDD law, which won approval in 1980. The costs of setting up a CDD can be prohibitive for all but larger developments. And, even though governments do tend to like CDDs at first, they can develop a love-hate relationship with them over time, as CDDs start doing things that governments do, and residents start complaining that they are being taxed twice. The financing method has also come under some criticism in Florida, where the powers of CDD districts tend to be broader than other states, says Nicholas.
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The Villages Hospital Expansion
Central Florida Health Care Development Corporation
Leesburg Regional Medical Center
The Villages Tri-County Medical Center, Inc.
Contact: Ken Peach 352-751-8984
The board of directors of Leesburg Regional Medical
Center (LRMC) and Central Florida Health Care Development Corp. (CFHCDC),
parent company of LRMC, approved resolutions on July 26, relating to expansion
plans for The Villages Regional Hospital (TVRH), followed by approval today by
the board of directors of The Villages Tri-County Medical Center, Inc.,
governing board of The Villages Regional Hospital.
The current plans provide for the addition of three
floors to the hospital along with an expanded emergency department, a new
intensive care unit, two additional operating rooms and special
procedures/cardiac catheterization laboratory. The plans also include the
expansion of ancillary departments to support the additional services and beds.
Each floor will accommodate approximately 50 beds and will be built out in a
manner that is consistent with the growth and demand for additional bed
capacity. Earl Swensson Associates, Inc. in Nashville, TN,
is the architectural firm developing the plans.
The estimated cost of the project is $65 million which
does not include financing costs. The target date for the start of the
expansion program is December of this year and the estimated completion date is
December 2007. The plans and timeline are subject to various regulatory
approvals and the completion of financing.
"We've been working a long time with our financial
consultants to assure the financial viability of this expansion," said
CFHCDC Board Chairman Bill Binneveld. "Since the tax initiative was
defeated last year, we've been looking at alternatives to finance the expansion
which would not require the use of tax dollars, but instead would be funded by
a bond issue and operating funds.
"We have engaged an architect and are finalizing
details regarding the scope of the project. We've also received
preliminary renderings and a model of the new addition, which will add up to
three floors to the existing facility, some or all of which will be built out
in this first phase.
"Our commitment to The Villages area spans decades, including the
initial $35 million we invested to open TVRH in 2002," added Binneveld.
"Those who live here can be assured we want to continue to be their
primary healthcare partner long into the future."
"For more than 40 years, there has been a strong
bond between Leesburg Regional Medical Center and the people we serve in Lake,
Sumter and South Marion Counties," said LRMC Interim CEO Louis
Bremer. "The continued growth of The Villages and surrounding areas has
placed an urgent responsibility on those of us in healthcare to meet the
burgeoning needs of this region. "This planned expansion will provide
excellent, patient-focused services to the sick and injured among us."
"The benefits of the expansion will be enormous," said Dewey Burnsed,
TVRH board chairman. "The hospital only just turned three years old, and we're
looking at an expansion that will allow residents of The Villages area to
benefit from new health services, continue to receive their care in a
state-of-the-art facility that is close to home, and with the same caregivers
they know and trust. We will be able to reduce the number of ambulance
diversions taking place due to high patient occupancy, and waits in the
emergency department for acute-care beds should decrease with the addition of
new beds. In addition, TVRH patients will have the full resources of LRMC
behind them for tertiary level care such as open heart surgery and
neurosurgery. Should that level of care be needed, patient records are linked
electronically and digitally to eliminate the need for redundant testing. This
is a real win for our community."
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More Grist for Hungry Villages Mill
OCALA STAR BANNER
Published Jul. 6, 2005
Last week's "power to the people" protest by some 30 residents of The
Villages offered an unmistakable lesson for those who seek ease and comfort
behind the walls of their all-inclusive but exclusive retirement meccas: you
might live there, but power resides with the rich and powerful who run such
The retirees appeared last Friday outside The Villages main sales offices in
the development's downtown square to raise a stink about the closing and
pending sale of a popular nightspot, the Chula Vista Club.
Protesters complained that Gary Morse, developer of the megadevelopment,
planned to convert the dining and dancing club into a recreation hall and
then sell it to the Villages Center Community Development District, the
quasi-government that oversees the development and is funded almost entirely
by residents' amenity fees.
But as the sign-bearing marchers took on Villages hall, law enforcement from
the Sumter County Sheriff's Office and the Lady Lake Police Department
arrived to squelch the ruckus, telling activists to disperse. No arrests
were made, but a deputy wanted to take names to hand over to prosecutors -
an effective way to chill the firebrands.
It turns out, however, the police were ill-informed about what is and is not
public property in the development. The pro-Chula gang had every right to be
where they were to express their First Amendment rights.
One Lady Lake police official later apologized, acknowledging that she
goofed by ordering the crackdown. She believed a city ordinance mandated
that they get a permit, when no such law existed, and did not seek a legal
opinion to clarify where they could protest.
The demonstrators, as the Star-Banner reported, were grateful for the
apology. Yet, that doesn't alleviate their larger concern.
See, once the club renovation is complete, Morse and his underlings will
sell it to the development district, which will use the residents' amenities
fees to purchase it and subsequently operate and maintain a community
facility no one seems to be asking for.
It's clear, as the Chula Vista Club marchers learned, that in community
development districts, all power flows uphill. And while they get no say,
residents' money covers the tab for expansion and community features.
It's probably time lawmakers reviewed such developments and CDDs in
particular, if only to see if something can be done to boost residents'
rights. Until then, buyer beware . . . and if you don't, keep the checkbook
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Paradise Center construction slated to begin
Published May 5, 2005 in The Reporter newspaper from the Ocala Star-Banner, Ocala, FL.
BY BILL KOCH
THE VILLAGES - Workers may begin razing The Villages' oldest recreation
center in the next few weeks.
The Paradise Center, built about 25 years ago in what was once called
Orange Blossom Gardens, is slated for a major overhaul as early as next
month, Villages officials said.
The Villages' Property Owners' Association began pushing to have the
building torn down and rebuilt nearly two years ago, saying the
community's first center was infested with rats and cockroaches and was
Plans have been drawn for the new Paradise Center, and The Villages'
government has received several construction bids for the project.
POA president Joe Gorman and other association members said they were
pleased construction of the new center is on track but were disappointed
that plans didn't go far enough.
"I think it'll be top-notch," Gorman said.
The POA has held its monthly meetings in the center, but meetings will be
moved to the La Hacienda Center, about a half mile away across U.S.
441/27, assistant district administrator John Rohan told the association.
The building has three parts: the north side is the center's auditorium,
the pool is in the middle and the south portion consists of several
Part of the center is on top - as the second floor - of the Mark Twain
library, both of which are not slated for work, Gorman said. In the 1970s,
the south building was built around a mobile home in a small community of
similar structures. "It was a sleepy retirement community of mobile
homes," Gorman said.
Gorman and Sadie Woollard, a member of the POA and a neighborhood focus
group that advised The Villages' government on the center's design, said
they had hoped more work would have been planned for the south buildings.
"It's infested with termites," Gorman said of the Desi Arnaz and Lucille
Ball room, which is used for playing bridge and other table games and part
of which is above the library. Workers repaired and painted portions of
that room last year.
Woollard said she's looking forward to using the new center. "It's really
going to be lovely," she said.
Gorman said he had suggested a plan that would have created a type of
picnic area at the center overlooking Gulf Lake.
The auditorium's structure will be razed, but the foundation and some of
the girding will be left in place for new construction, Gorman said.
"We'll end up with roughly the same footprint," he added.
Portions of the building will be designed to allow it to be opened for
concerts, Gorman said.
Gorman said he's confident the new building will last considerably longer
than the current center.
"I'm sure they're going to use better construction techniques," he said.
Bill Koch covers The Villages for The Reporter. He can be reached at
1-800-255-4105, 1-352-732-6058 or email@example.com
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Sexual Predators and Offenders in Central Florida
Below is important information published in the May, 2005, issue of the
POA Bulletin about the Florida government's web site on Sexual Predators
and Offenders. Please click on the link below to go directly to that web
The state of Florida maintains an on-line database of registered sexual
predators and offenders listed by county and/or zip code.
An examination of this database for the 32159 and the 32162 zip codes
showed a total of nine (9) sexual predators/offenders listed with
addresses in The Villages.
In these two zip codes, there were another fourteen (14) individuals
living close to The Villages. An additional five (5) individuals live in
the Oxford zip code of 34484; thirty-three (33) more are listed in the
Summerfield zip code of 34491; and nineteen (19) are listed in the
Wildwood zip code of 34785.
The listings can be accessed at: http://www3.fdle.state.fl.us/sexual_predators/.
Once into the database,click on the button to Search the Sexual Predator/Offender database. Then enter either your zip code or your county to see a listing with pictures of all sexual predators and offenders in that area. You can click on any
person to see a more detailed listing and a bigger picture.
Villagers are urged to go to this web site and view the pictures and
addresses of these sexual predators/offenders. Some of the individuals
listed with addresses outside of The Villages may also work here in The
It is important to be familiar with these individuals. If you have
grandchildren visiting on occasion and have a listed sexual
predator/offender close-by, you need to be on guard. Study the pictures
in detail so that you have the information you need to protect your
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Campaign Rhetoric Picking Up Steam
Published August 5, 2004 in The Reporter newspaper from the Ocala Star-Banner, Ocala, FL.
If you haven't already registered to vote in the Aug. 31 primary, it's too late now. The books closed Monday.
Several thousand Sumter County residents of The Villages and several thousand residents of the county who live outside the retirement community are expected to head to the polls to decide the fate of the One Sumter referendum, arguably the hottest item on the ballot.
It would be inaccurate to describe the effort to change the way Sumter County voters choose their county commissioners as a campaign. This is a political crusade employing tactics that would have raised the eyebrows of even Richard Daley, the late and former mayor of Chicago.
One of the developers of The Villages, in ridiculing arguments by those who oppose One Sumter at a meeting of The Villages Homeowners' Association two months ago, said he only gets one vote, so therefore the notion of concentrating control of the county into the hands of developer cronies is absurd.
The late and famous Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune newspaper columnist Mike Royko, in writing about Chicago politics, used to make fun of the old political bosses' way of somehow getting dead people, multi-voters and other assorted nonvoting creatures to show up on election day - and thus was born the phrase "Vote Early, Vote Often."
Times and attitudes - and certainly election laws - have changed since the old Chicago mayor's generation.
But in an effort to keep pace with the Windy City's wonder days, today's politicos have had to adopt even craftier methods to accomplish their ends.
Daley never owned a newspaper. In his heyday, he may have had a few reporters or editors tucked away in his pocket, as Royko and other satirists teased. But the Tribune and the Sun-Times were independently owned and not always friends of Daley.
The developer, on the other hand, owns a newspaper, which in the minds of many a Sumter County residents has a habit of belittling those who oppose One Sumter, a movement that is gaining ground precisely because of the negative news coverage.
One recent editorial called those who oppose the referendum the "same old tired" people and laid out a litany of demeaning accusations against those who dare to challenge the developer or One Sumter.
The Villages' district administrator Pete Wahl hasn't been able to restrain himself either from getting into the act with his newspaper column "Pete's Place."
Besides his literary attacks on those in the county who hold opposing viewpoints, Wahl has told Republicans in The Villages that he "cannot unite the county" without passage of One Sumter. Not "we" but he. Presumably, single-handedly. (That is, if only the contrarians would only mind their manners.)
Apparently, Wahl's way of persuading everyone in the county to get along and to recognize his good neighborliness is by bullying, abusing and distorting at least two county commissioners' records. (Several VCDD supervisors have in the past helped fan Wahl's vitriol with name-calling of their own.)
Wahl recently accused Jim Roberts, the county commissioner Wahl loves to hate, of trying "to find additional ways to pick your pocketbook."
Roberts had discussed at one county commission meeting the idea of considering a tourist tax so the county would not have to raise fees or taxes for current county residents. The apt word is "discussed" - something smart politicians are supposedly to do before they make a decision.
It was just an idea; let's talk about it, Roberts said.
Besides, Roberts would have to convince four other commissioners to go along with it - that is, if it became a proposal.
For administrator Wahl and his One Sumter brethren, that was just one more way to villainize the Republican from Bushnell, who happens to lead the Stop One Sumter cause.
Miser Roberts, in Wahl's mind, is now out to tax the poor children and grandchildren of Villages residents - a sort of Robin Hood in reverse, which is surely reason enough to pass One Sumter and banish the political heathen.
"So every time your kids come down . . . it would be an opportunity to add to the coffers of the 'Bushnell Boys,'" Wahl stated his column.
Oh, is that so.
Wahl has criticized Roberts, Commissioner Joey Chandler and interim Public Works director Tommy Hurst for wanting to reign in spending by trimming how much the county pays the retirement community for roadside maintenance, the previous hot issue.
During their discussions, county officials said the counties of Lake and Marion and the town of Lady Lake don't pay The Villages for that service, nor does any other county in Florida pay community development districts or retirement communities for mowing. Why should Sumter be any different?
All Wahl's "Bushnell Boys" wanted to do was reduce the amount to bring it closer to what the county pays to maintain other roadsides; in the end, however, the county agreed to pay The Villages more for the service than it does in other places in the county (the motion was made by Roberts and seconded by Chandler), which certainly wasn't enough to make Wahl happy.
County commissioners completed their budget workshops last week. They went through the same complicated and arduous process that Wahl has expertly guided VCDD supervisors through - so you would think Wahl, a former Lake County manager, could empathize.
Commissioners - even Roberts himself - have said they want to lower property taxes, which to Wahl's apparent surprise would apply also to The Villages.
In order to do that, commissioners must find ways to trim the budget to make it lean and tight, which includes eliminating wasteful or unnecessary expenditures.
It's not democracy or electoral fairness Stop One Sumter is fighting against. It is the kind of antagonistic and manipulative rhetoric that Wahl and certain "editorial" writers seem to take delight in espousing.
What those Sumter County voters who have already registered and who plan on voting need to remember when they go to the polls on Aug. 31 is there's more to One Sumter than what meets the eye.
For those who missed the primary deadline, they have until Oct. 4 to register to vote in the Nov. 2 general election, where they can decide whether they want to put onto the county commission those candidates who share Wahl's mean-spirited approach to politicking.
Bill Koch covers The Villages for The Reporter. He can be reached at 1-800-255-4105 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Radio Interview With Joe Gorman
On June 5, 2004, Joe Gorman, President of the Property Owners Association (POA) of The Villages, Florida, was interviewed on On the Commons radio station WEBR, in Fairfax, VA. On the Commons is a radio program dedicated to Mandatory Common Ownership Developments.
Mr. Gorman gives an excellent explanation of CDDs and explains some of the many pitfalls of concern to all of us.
Click Here to Listen
(Quick Time player is required.)
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