Melbourne City Council Meetings -you don’t know what you’re missing

Do not be late to a Melbourne City Council meeting, you have no idea what you could miss in as little as fifteen minutes.

Every first and fourth Tuesday of the month Melbourne City Council gathers at 6:30 pm to tackle new business, old business, and presentations by movers and shakers with big plans for Melbourne. If you attend a meeting in person or watch online, you’ll be among the first to hear about what’s shaking in the ever growing Harbor City.

How do you like the sound of Gator Reef? It’s the name of a neighborhood bar planned for downtown Melbourne; it comes with a food truck and a side of live music; the owners were on-hand to request the tiniest bit of amplification as they plan to host mostly acoustic solo artists and duos.

Sarno RV Sales was on the agenda with plans to open a dealership across from the Apollo Blvd Planet Fitness. Time to revisit those dreams of the open road.

There were some contentious moments on January 26, as a group of citizens took turns at the podium. These residents were in attendance to express concerns over a 22 unit townhome development. The engineer and developer each had their say in defense of the project that will be built behind the plaza that houses Crickets Pub on Wickham. Rd.

In moments that were not so serious, Mayor Alfrey teased council member Mark LaRusso about an inability to remain silent, and there were chuckles over some confusion between Vice Mayor Tim Thomas and Council member Debbie Thomas (no relation). But it was the “Price is Right” moment I missed by showing up late that really stunned me.

City council meetings are videotaped and made available on the City of Melbourne website. I decided to open the link and see what little thing I missed in those first fifteen-ish minutes.

Roll the tape…you can hear the thud of the gavel just before the call for the invocation. I’m proud of my city for including this before each meeting. Then, the Pledge of Allegiance– another important tradition. After that there were the proclamations and presentations.

Feel-good moments are always important, but they are especially important at this time, when there is so much fear over Covid and the uncertainty that is a biproduct of the Covid beast.

There is lots of opportunity for feel-good moments in Melbourne. The City of Melbourne is blessed to have many great people who ask themselves–what can I do to make my city better? Rose Yeary is one of those people. Yeary is the Commander of American Legion Post 163, and was honored for her efforts, along with the efforts of her Post, for their support of the 2020 Veteran’s Day Parade. As Tim Thomas read the Certificate of Recognition, he added that the parade would not have been a success, or even possible, without Rose Yeary and her troop at the 163. Mayor Alfrey personally thanked Yeary as he presented the certificate. Yeary was also praised for support of the Veteran’s Cemetery Restoration organization, not only did Yeary and the 163 show up to every cemetery cleanup event, they helped with a fundraiser that raised almost $15,000. Thank you, Rose Yeary and American Legion Post 163.

Another wonderful moment that I missed came as City Manager, Shannon Lewis, recognized Faye Wofford for her thirty years of service to the City of Melbourne. Lewis spoke glowingly of Faye’s dedication to her job and her positive attitude. Ms. Wofford began as a Parks and Recreation employee; decades later, she has grown to be a much depended upon IT Technician in the city’s communication department. There was mention of Wofford’s many awards and accolades, as well as the certifications she has worked hard to earn.

Wofford’s glow goes beyond being a stellar employee for Melbourne, she spent many years as a coach and mentor for young athletes in Brevard County. Lewis pointed out that every team Faye Wofford worked with had a winning record. It takes a pretty big glow from within to accomplish such a feat. “Cornerstone of the service desk”, Lewis called the woman, as a humble Faye Wofford offered a gentle smile and a quiet thank you to Lewis and to Mayor Alfrey as she accepted her certificate.

That’s what I missed by being late to the meeting, but that’s not all...

As Mayor Alfrey teased District 3 representative, Yvonne Minus to “Come on down, you’re the next contestant”, I had no idea that a dramatic history lesson was about to unfold. Ms. Minus took microphone in hand and relayed the story of a tragic, yet inspiring, event that took place on February 3, 1943 in the cold waters of the North Atlantic.

The USAT Dorchester was headed for Greenland. The ship was carrying over 900 military and civilian passengers when it was torpedoed by a German submarine. As the ship began to sink and passengers scrambled to save themselves, four military chaplains focused on the safety of others. The four distributed lifejackets and directed passengers to lifeboats. When no other lifejackets were available, the four chaplains removed their own lifejackets and handed them to four young soldiers.

These chaplains were: Reverend George Fox–Methodist, Rabbi Alexander Goode, Reverend Clark Poling–Dutch Reformed, and Father John Washington–Roman Catholic. When nothing more could be done, these men linked arms and prayed continuously as they went down with the Dorchester; a total of 672 people lost their lives that morning.

Ms. Minus read a proclamation establishing February 3, 2021 as Four Chaplains Day in the City of Melbourne, Florida. Mayor Alfrey presented the proclamation to local chaplain and veteran, Reverend Williams.

American Legion Posts across the nation commemorate this event each year in honor of the courage and faith demonstrated by these four men. Post 81 has a Four Chaplains Day event planned for February 4 and Post 163 has plans for a Four Chaplains Day event on February 6.

And, that is what you may miss if you’re late to a city council meeting.

But, because Melbourne City Council accomplishes so much at each meeting, I was present in the chamber as two vital Melbourne employees had their yearly reviews– right there in front of the people of Melbourne–and anyone who was watching online, around the world. There’s nothing like having an audience as you receive your annual review. How comfortable would you be?

Mayor Alfrey and council members spoke of the exceptional job done by Shannon Lewis as City Manager; she was a huge asset to Airport Director Greg Donovan in securing the deal that brought Aerion Supersonic to Melbourne. An equally exceptional rating was given to Alison Dawley for her work as City Attorney. The two women sat quietly during the open discussion of whether or not either of them would receive a raise. Awkward. In the end, both employees were granted much deserved performance bonuses amid praise and accolade.

If you do come to a Melbourne City Council meeting you’ll learn for yourself that we have a great mayor, a great council, and other terrific people like Lewis and Dawley who work tremendously hard to grow and beautify Melbourne.

But never come late to a city council meeting, because at a Melbourne City Council meeting there is always lot on the agenda, and anything can happen; even in the first fifteen minutes.

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