Volusia County’s 2022 State of the County Address.
Written by Anthony Bicy
Belden Communications News
Volusia County hosted its annual State of the County Address at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach on Tuesday, February 8, 2022, displaying the various accomplishments achieved countywide during 2021.
According to Volusia County officials, 2021 paved the way for a great deal of change in Volusia County government while providing a year full of improvements for bedrock issues such as water protection, public safety, beach services, and more.
“We live in a beautiful place, with a lot of talented, forward-thinking people,” said Volusia County Chair Jeff Brower opening the address. “This past year, we have learned a lot on what is needed going forward, to keep our County safe, clean, and beautiful.”
Ben Johnson, Councilman At-Large, spoke on public safety and the new radio system, P25, which had a $26 million upgrade, allowing victims and public service officers to receive real-time updates on emergencies and stay connected with this improvement.
Heather Post, District 4 Councilwoman, announced a surge of new paramedics joining the workforce in Volusia County with the help of sign-on and retention incentives. These incentives allow all new-hire paramedics to receive a $4,500 sign-on bonus, current medics earn a $5,000 retention bonus, and full-time EMPs get a $2,000 incentive.
Danny Robins, District 3 Councilman, discussed the ECHO and Volusia Forever programs that have provided $20.4 million in grant funds that funded two wastewater projects to remove waste and advance treatment to keep Volusia’s lakes safe. In addition, anti-litter divers have removed 1,200 pounds of debris from the waterbed.
Billie Wheeler, District 2 Councilwoman, talked about Volusia’s quality of life improvements like various upgrades to popular beach ramps, the making of the Mary McLeod Bethune statue to represent Florida at the Capitals’ Statuary Hall in Washington D.C., and 650 new mobile hotspots in libraries.
Fred Lowry, District 5 Councilman, updated residents on improvements made to the Daytona Beach International Airport and the winning achievement of the 2021 Commercial Service Airport of the Year award recognizing the airport's renovations and service. The airports also opened three hundred sixty jobs because of its $150 million in private investments.
Lastly, Barbara Girtman, District 1 Councilwoman and Vice-Chair, spoke on the new affordable housing initiative and COVID testing sites, the $900,000 in funding support to an apartment complex in Daytona Beach with four hundred affordable housing units, and the Strive to Thrive initiative to bring added focus and attention to the needs of DeLand’s Spring Hill community.
Mr. Brower closed the address by touching on some of the accomplishments to be worked on this year, like focusing on preserving water sources, making our homegrown businesses a top priority, expanding affordable housing options, and renewing commitments to our local communities.
"It is going to be a busy year, focusing on affordable housing, a clean environment, and improving our quality of life," said Brower in closing. "We all must work together to make Volusia County the best play to live, work, and play.”