“Observer” recognized for 57 years; DB approves Athletic Field policy

Posted on 17 January 2020 by JLusk

The “Observer” was honored for their commitment to the community by publishing for 57 years. Receiving certificates were publisher Dana Eller (L to R), Lead Reporter and former Editor Diane Emeott, Vice President Jim Lusk and Editor Rachel Galvin. Pictured with (L to R) Vice Mayor Todd Drosky, Mayor Bill Ganz, Commissioner Michael Hudak, Commissioner Bernie Parness and Commissioner Ben Preston.

By Diane Emeott

The local Observer newspaper received a Certificate of Appreciation for publishing for 57 years at the first Deerfield Commission meeting of a new decade on Jan. 14, 2020.

Mayor Bill Ganz sponsored the proclamation presented to Observer Publisher Dana Eller and staff, including Eller, Vice President Jim Lusk, Editor Rachel Galvin and Lead Reporter/Former Editor Diane Emeott.

Also seated in the front row at the meeting was previous Observer owner/managing editor Judy Wilson, who now works as a reporter for the Pompano Beach Pelican.

Said Ganz, “It’s a sad day in Deerfield that the Deerfield Beach Observer is not being delivered anymore — since Dec. 26, 2019, its last printed issue.

“The newspaper has educated, informed, and entertained residents and visitors in our community since 1962. It has impacted us all. [Since 1980] under Eller family leadership.

“You’ve been part of our life – part of my life since I’ve been here in the city for 12 years now,” Ganz concluded.

Said Eller, “It’s been a labor of love for my family, since my father, former publisher David Eller, bought the newspaper. Both my father and grandfather grew up here. We love the sense of community. Journalism

is a labor of love. Journalists sometimes get a bad rap. The journalists I know put in way more hours than they get paid for. The journalists out there are so important to our community.”

(Continue to see Observer news posts at www.observernewspaperonline.com).

See more from the eight presentations of the night below.


Parks & Recreation Director Preston Pooser presented a new Sports Policy regarding Athletic Facilities in Deerfield, and Assistant Director Cassi Waren presented requirements for organizations that want to use city fields.

Highlights include: All coaches and officials must have proper certification and proof of insurance; if a child wishes to participate, they must have ability to play; all fields and teams must have 50 percent Deerfield residents and must show two proofs of residency.

“I think we’ve crafted a policy to outline guidelines and procedures. This applies to residents and non-residents who want to use any of our facilities,” said Pooser.

City Manager David Santucci called item No. 12, an ordinance that passed on second reading “a clean-up item to go with item No. 13,” a resolution to adopt the City’s Athletic Facility Use and Sports Policy.

“It’s an effort to ensure staff has documentation as it relates to use of our fields,” he said.

“We all know why this came out,” said Ganz, referring to the 2019 issue of Barwis’ alleged use of city fields with only an affidavit, not a formal contract. Renewal of Level 2 background checks [which Ganz instituted for the City of Deerfield Beach] had also reportedly fallen through the cracks under the old policy.

“When [a policy] is too wide open, we saw it was abused,” said Ganz.

Resident Katy Freitag said, “A lot of organizations have been waiting for this. [It gives] accountability,” she said, adding that if the city leaves lights on in the gym or a field, people are going to come in and use it. “If not in use, turn the lights off so there is no illegal activity.”

Resident Lamar McThee added, “I’ve been in Deerfield all my life. We have 40 to 50 kids we’ve worked with real hard who are now at Louisiana State University (LSU), Princeton, Yale. We help kids off the street — from anywhere.”

Addressing Mr. McThee’s concern that kids not be left out just because they don’t meet a ‘50 percent Deerfield residents’ stipulation, Ganz answered, “If it’s not 50 percent, I would encourage them to come before the commission. If it’s 48 percent, for example, I want to make sure we’re not so regimented we can’t allow them [to play].”


Deerfield Commission approved, 4-0, with Mayor Ganz abstaining from the vote, a $1000 reimbursement of attorney’s fees and expenses incurred by Ganz to retain legal counsel who successfully defended him against ethics and elections allegations.

According to background information, two complaints were filed with the Florida Elections Commission and one complaint was filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics against Mayor Bill Ganz.

The three complaints were related to the alleged misuse of a public position, alleged breach of confidentiality, and alleged election violations related to the Mayor’s Comments at City Commission meetings and the mayor’s participation in a holiday celebration sponsored by the city.

Florida Commission on Ethics found the Ethics Complaint to be legally insufficient and dismissed the Ethics Complaint against Mayor Ganz.

Florida Elections Commission found the Elections Complaints to be legally insufficient, and closed out the last of the Elections Complaints via a correspondence dated Dec. 16, 2019.

(This agenda item No. 28 was the last business item at a meeting that concluded at 11:36 p.m).


Commissioner Michael Hudak, a Human Resources professional, included an evaluation form and proposed criteria for the City Commission to consider regarding the city manager’s yearly performance review. The item was put on the agenda for discussion only. No vote was taken. The city’s contract with the city manager requires the commission to evaluate the manager’s performance annually.


Superintendent Robert Runcie addresses the mayor and commissioners about safety and construction improvements in the Broward Schools.

During Presentations, Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie updated the commission on a variety of topics including School Resource Officers (SROs) and SMART construction at Deerfield schools.

Several people were honored:

  • The owner of the Food Bazaar, Frank Espinal Sr., was recognized for his commitment and contributions to the community.
  • James Jackson was honored for 20 years of exceptional service to the city in Street Maintenance.
  • Danielle LoBono (who didn’t attend) was appreciated for her service since May 2018 on the Planning & Zoning Board.
  • BSFR District Fire Chief Matt Pellitteri recognized Art Kamm with a probationary fire hat for donating a clean environment to firefighters for drills in pulling lines, forcible entry and more.
  • BSO District Captain Rodney Brimlow honored 27-year-old Detective Jessica Hamel for employing tactfulness, tactics and compassion in holding onto a young woman dangling from the bridge for 3 ½ minutes while backup arrived, and finally convincing her not to jump off the bridge, saving a life.
  • Elizabeth Ricci (daughter of former Mayor/Commissioner Peggy Noland) was appreciated for her 12 years of service to the city.

      “She’s a homegrown talent; not only did she work for Parks &      Recreation, she participated in the programs growing up. In 2007 she was Part-Time Lifeguard, moving up through the ranks to become Full-Time Lifeguard, Aquatic Center Supervisor, Superintendent of Recreation,” said Ganz.

  • In a surprise presentation, Commissioner Ben Preston received a yellow sports coat from the commission in honor of he and his son being inducted into the Cardinal Gibbons Hall of Fame on Jan. 11. Preston, a retired Deerfield Beach firefighter, and owner of his own personal trainer company has worked with students for 25 years.

     “It’s not how you start, but how you finish,” he quipped.












Due do the unavailability of one commissioner, the regular Tuesday, March 3, 2020 commission meeting was proposed to be rescheduled to a Wednesday night, March 4. The commission unanimously approved the change in date.

*The next Deerfield Beach City Commission meeting is Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m.


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