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Residents hear from local representatives during town hall

April 3, 2019
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Lehigh Acres citizens filled up the room and showed their support last Wednesday, by attending a town hall meeting hosted by Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District.

Lee County Commissioner Cecil L. Pendergrass along with Lee County School Board member and Chair Gwyn Gittens came to discuss issues pertaining to both Lee County's road ways, bridges and the Lee County School District.

The town hall meeting began with an opening introduction from LA-MSID Commissioner Michael J. Welch who gave a short summary on the various ways Pendergrass has aided the community and made sure that the citizens of Lehigh received the resources needed post hurricane Irma.

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Prior to beginning the town hall, Commissioner Cecil L. Pendergrass was presented with a birthday cake to celebrate his birthday.


"We owe you a debt of gratitude commissioner for going above and behind to help us get things up and going as quickly as we did after Irma. If it weren't for Cecil we would not have had the assistance of organizations such as the American Red Cross. He was instrumental in getting them here and aiding the citizens in the community. Sometimes we fail to recognize the people behind the scenes," said Welch.

Prior to beginning the town hall, Welch presented a birthday cake to Pendergrass who was celebrating his birthday on that Wednesday.

LA-MSID Chair Mike Bonacolta then took the podium to announce Gwyn Gittens who came up to speak. Bonacolta shared his experience with Gittens as a young adult when attending her leadership class while in high school.

Gittens began by thanking the community for attending and then spoke about how co-hosting this town hall meeting was one step towards fulfilling her promises made to voters during the elections.

"Presently I'm spearheading a couple programs within the school district. One being the 'Grow Your Own,' which is aimed towards nurturing future teachers in our area. It can also help prevent high turnovers and help teachers pass their test for certification," Gittens said.

The "Grow Your Own" scholarship program's goal is to assist with creating a local pipeline of educators to aid in Lee's current teacher shortage. The Suncoast Credit Union Foundation has contributed $50,000 to the district with the potential of adding incrementally for a total of $250,000. This program will provide scholarship opportunities to current employees.

Other programs discussed by Gittens included the district's plan to hire and maintain part-time security guards who would cover restrooms within the school to tackle the drug situation and setting up an advisory board.

"We really need people to apply for our advisory board. The information on the board and an online application can be found on Lee County School's website," said Gittens.

Welch segued the meeting by giving an update on the Richmond Avenue bridge walkway, which is in need of repair after parts collapsed following hurricane Irma.

"The district applied for a Safe Sidewalk grant with the State of Florida, which takes time to be approved. Until then Pendergrass and Gittens are working together to find an immediate remedy for the situation," said Welch.

Pendergrass brought up the recent incident where a child was killed after a hit-and-run in Cape Coral.

"Some people feel 'not my bridge, not my problem,' but we have an obligation to make sure there are safe crossings and bridges for the kids," said Pendergrass.

According to Pendergrass, the county is currently sitting on a million dollars in reserves from various revenues including Conservation 20/20 efforts. He also announced the possible plans for creating a Lakes Park in Lehigh Acres.

Pendergrass closed with an update on the blue-green algae clean-up.

"We are still working with state and local legislators on the clean-up efforts," said Pendergrass.

Regular Lee County Commission Board meetings are held at 9:30 a.m. the first and third Tuesdays of the month in Board Chambers in the Old Lee County Courthouse, 2120 Main St., Fort Myers. For more information visit

For more information about Lee County Government, please visit



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