Council Adds Funds for Lateral Replacement

Two New Fire Captains 

At the regular council meeting Tuesday, December 3, Gulfport Fire Chief James V. Marenkovic, left. introduced the city’s newest fire captains James Lundh, captain of fire inspections and fire investigations, and Rene Fernandez, captain of medical operations.

First order of business during Gulfport’s Tuesday, December 3, regular city council meeting was Fire Chief James Marenkovic’s introduction of Gulfport Fire Department’s newest fire captains, James Lundh and Rene Fernandez. 

“All firefighters and fire chiefs agree that company officer is one of the most important positions for the organization,” Marenkovic prefaced the promotion ceremony. 

Lundh, recently retired from Seminole Fire Department, was promoted to captain of fire inspections and fire investigations. Fernandez was promoted to captain of medical operations. Both new captains were pinned by their wives. 

“Spirit of Gulfport” Award Presented to 49th Street South Business Association 

Mayor Sam Henderson presented the Spirit of Gulfport Award 49th Street South Business Association (SO49) at the regular council meeting Tuesday, December 3. From left: Mayor Sam Henderson, Jeri Reed, Kieu Barnes, Mike Yakes, Michelle Kotewa, Vanessa Gray. 

Mayor Sam Henderson presented the 49th Street South Business Association (So49) with the “Spirit of Gulfport” award during the Tuesday, December 3 council meeting, “for their continued efforts maintaining a good and growing business climate on the 49th street corridor between Gulfport and St. Pete.”

Founded in 2008, the 49th Street South Business Association “seeks to unite, enhance, and promote the 49th Street South business corridor and embedded residential communities,” according to their Facebook page. 

So49 Pays it Forward

The 49th Street South Business Association (SO49) presented Vanessa Gray, president of the Lincoln Cemetery Society, with a riding lawnmower after having maintained all 8.82 acres of the cemetery’s grounds since 2016 with a push mower. Photo courtesy of SO49.

Paying it forward, 49th Street South Business Association (So49) closed out the council meeting by gifting a riding lawn mower to Vanessa Gray, president of the non-profit Lincoln Cemetery Society, who has helped maintain the cemetery grounds since 2016 with a push mower.

Gray’s passion to restore Lincoln Cemetery, located at 600 58th St. S. has been apparent in her dedication to the property over the last four years. The Lincoln Cemetery Society of Gulfport has owned it since February 14, 2017. 

More than 6,000 people are interred with graves dating back before the 1900s.

Liens in the amount of $31,788.26 had accumulated on the property starting in 2012 and only stopped in the summer of 2016, when Gray requested that the City of Gulfport stop maintaining the cemetery grounds. Since then, Gray and other volunteers have taken on the never-ending task of weed-eating and mowing the 8.82-acre property. 

The goal of the Lincoln Cemetery Society is to restore the cemetery to what it was intended to be, “a peaceful, serene, garden-like resting place, and to preserve it as a place where families can visit, find their loved ones, and pay their respects, for generations.”  

According to Jeri Reed, president of So49, the donation of the new mower “was made possible by the Trolley Market Square Blues N Brews, So49 and the City of Gulfport.” 

More funds requested for Lateral Replacement Assistance Program

To date, the Private Lateral Replacement Assistance Program has reimbursed 43 residents $114,065 this year according to City Manager Jim O’Reilly. 

Under the assistance program, Gulfport residential sewer customers are eligible for a rebate of 50 percent, up to $3,500 after the replacement, purchase, installation and inspection of a failing sewer pipeline between the home and the city connection.

The program runs on a first-come, first-served basis. Once funds have been depleted, homeowners who apply for the program later in the year have a higher likelihood of being turned away. 

Currently there is $15,464 in unused monies under the utilities fund. O’Reilly’s proposed to move that money and permanently make it a part of the Private Lateral Replacement Assistance Program’s budget. After the Tuesday’s city council meeting, the budget cap for the project is now $142,964 as opposed to $127, 500. 

A unanimous vote of “yes,” by councilmembers on resolution N0 2019-89, authorized the city manager to provide the program with additional funding and a budget amendment. The money will be available immediately. With this amendment, this year’s balance for the program is just under $29,000, leaving assistance available to an estimated eight to nine homeowners. 

By creating the amendment and approving the new budget, the city has avoided $10,308.88 in civil penalties to the Florida Department of Environmental Protections (FDEP). 

Residents can contact Public Works at 727-893-1089 for the Rebate Application.

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