Out of Katrina comes idea for damage tally

Jun 2, 2008

Orlando Sentinel--June 1, 2008

Longtime Volusia County Property Appraiser Morgan Gilreath is being recognized for a damage assessment model he designed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Gilreath will receive the Prudential-Davis Productivity Award on Tuesday in Tallahassee for his model, which allows appraisers to enter "pre-disaster" data on all properties and lets property appraisers, other government officials and volunteers do damage estimates, something that Gilreath said can save millions of dollars. He developed the model with staffers when they spent five weeks volunteering in Mississippi after the 2005 hurricane.

Ringtone warning

Watch those cell phones at School Board meetings.

Volusia School Board Chairman Judy Conte told audience members last week that if their phones go off, she is taking them — just like your teachers did years ago when you brought something cool and inappropriate to class.

In this case, though, Conte joked, adults won’t get their phones back. Money is so tight, she said, that the school district is collecting them.

"Bring it up and give it to the agency clerk and enjoy the thanks of the School Board," said the former high-school teacher.

OK, who wants a time-out?

She stopped short of confiscating cell phones, but at a recent Volusia County Council meeting, Vice Chairwoman Joie Alexander seemed to lapse into her former role of elementary school principal.

Despite her attempts to resume the meeting after a break, council members and others in the chamber were slow to return to their seats and settle down.

"Can I get council?" Alexander, who used to be principal at Samsula Elementary, repeated. Then, she pulled out this line: "We cannot finish if we don’t begin!"

Memories from the street

Council member Jack Hayman also offered observers a blast from his past at the same meeting last week. During a discussion about deputies’ contracts, Hayman said he had special insights as to why a fitness requirement was important.

"Being a former law enforcement officer, I understand," the former Edgewater police chief said. He explained that his first arrest was of a rather strong drunk woman. "She just beat me to a pulp!"

Questions for the mayor

Deltona Mayor Dennis Mulder and City Commissioner Paul Treusch went back to school last week.

The two visited Deltona Lakes Elementary on Tuesday to celebrate students’ fundraising efforts — they collected more than $10,500 to help pay medical bills for a critically ill first-grader.

As Mulder helped pass out pizza, he said he was tickled by children’s questions.

Instead of asking about city issues or politics, these young constituents asked his age, if his wife is "hot" and how much money he had.

"I signed about 350 autographs because they thought it was just amazing I was there," said the 29-year-old mayor. "It was a treat for them, and it was a treat for me."