Sprinkle list: Central Florida lands Ocoee massacre, Indian River Lagoon funding

Indian River Lagoon
More than $3 million in pet project money sprinkled onto Central Florida.

The Legislature is sprinkling across Central Florida to help Ocoee tell the story of the 1920 Election Day massacre, provide help for veterans with PTSD and for people with addictions to opioids, and help restore the Indian River Lagoon.

The Central Florida budget “sprinkles” — mainly coming in the Senate’s supplemental appropriations released Monday evening — were topped by $1.6 million set aside for a muck removal project in Brevard County.

The Senate also is providing — assuming the appropriations survive Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ line-item veto pen — $600,000 for a documentary called “July in November” memorializing the Julius “July” Perry story; $350,000 for a post-traumatic stress disorder center at the University of Central Florida; $150,000 for a drug treatment program partnership in Seminole County; and $95,000 for improvements to a nature trail in Winter Park.

The Senate and the House of Representatives supplemental appropriations each include $175,000 for the Center for Aerospace Resilience in Daytona Beach.

The Legislature’s annual budget conference produces each chamber’s lists of member-sponsored special appropriations, most often for their high-priority local projects in their districts that never made it through the regular budgeting process, colloquially referred to as “sprinkles.” Like all budget line-items, they’re subject to the Governor’s vetos, and DeSantis has shown no hesitation to wield the red pen.

Central Florida’s biggest 2021 supplemental appropriation comes in Republican Sen. Debbie Mayfield’s Brevard County: $1,629,569 for a river muck removal project in the area of Eau Gallie Causeway of State Road 518, near where the Eau Gallie River enters the Indian River Lagoon.

The project is part of Brevard’s Save Our Indian River Lagoon program, otherwise backed by a voter-approved half-cent sales tax.

“Several years ago, the St. Johns River Water Management District dredged muck out of the Eau Gallie River, but a lot of the muck had already spilled out of the river into the lagoon, so we’re doing the downstream work to clear it,” said Brevard County Natural Resources Management Director Virginia Barker.

The July in November appropriation aids a mission pursued the past several years by Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy of Ocoee to bring attention to the 1920 violence in western Orange County and to have 21st century Florida count for and understand it and the racism behind it.

This will back a film being produced in association with Valencia College.

On Election Day, 1920, after several Black residents in Ocoee attempted to register to vote, Perry, a Black businessman, was arrested, taken by a White mob, and lynched. Over the next two days much of the Black community in Ocoee was burned and most of the Black population was driven from town.

Last year Bracy pushed through legislation to develop a curriculum that would teach about the Ocoee massacre in Florida schools.

July in November is a local commemoration in the city of Ocoee.

Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur managed to sprinkle $150,000 for an inpatient drug treatment program at Seminole County’s Hope & Healing Center. The opioids addiction treatment center in Sanford is a partnership of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, the AdventHealth hospital system in Central Florida, and other Seminole County agencies.

“We think this will be a really great tool to help address what the Sheriff sees on the front lines, and Advent, and really all of our health care providers, deal with on the back end,” said Brodeur, of Sanford, who has pushed several pieces of legislation in this Legislative Session regarding opioids. “If we can do a better job addressing individuals with addictions and getting them help early, we can help keep them from being repeat customers for the Sheriff’s Office, when in reality they’re just sick.”

The UCF RESTORES PTSD Clinic has established itself in the past decade as a leading center for research and treatment of PTSD suffered by veterans and first responders. Funded by both the Legislature and the U.S. Department of Defense, it is in Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart‘s district.

Stewart’s district also includes Winter Park, which is getting $95,000 to help with Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility improvements to the Mead Botanical Garden nature trail.

The Center for Aeronautical Resilience is hosted at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, yet is a joint program with the University of Central Florida. Each chamber is sprinkling on $175,000 for the center. The Senate appropriation says it is for a space optics detection and communication project.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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