In the Loop

A quality-of-life issue and a quality life lived were the themes of the recent Port Orange City Council meeting.

Viewed as a quality-of-life issue for the city residents, the City Council voted unanimously to approve funding of the SUNTrail/St. John’s River to Sea Loop Trail project. Honoring a quality life lived, Mayor Don Burnette proclaimed June 1 as James S. Purdy Day.

The City Council approved June 1 the appropriation of $200,000 for the design of the SUNTrail St. John’s River to Sea Loop Trial project. The trail runs from the north in St. Augustine through Port Orange south into Titusville. It then heads northwesterly to DeBary, up to Palatka, making a right east to complete the loop back St. Augustine.

The paved, unmotorized, multi-use trail isn't built in Port Orange. Not unusual as 18 miles within Volusia County and nearly half the 260-mile trial isn't built. The funding appropriation is Port Orange’s first step to change that. The money won’t be used to build the unpaved trial section, but to design it.

It is an estimated cost, subject to change by the Florida Department of Transportation based on the design contract signed by the City of Port Orange. The city has one year to complete and submit to FDOT the design and construction package. If all goes well, construction may begin as early as fall 2022.

But before the nuts and bolts of funding was finalized, a life of service was recognized. James S. Purdy, who has spent the past 16 years as public defender, retired in December from the 7th Judicial Circuit of Florida. (The circuit encompasses Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns, and Volusia counties.)

A Port Orange resident since 1990, he does not intend to leave the city. The Seabreeze High School graduate earned a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Florida, his Juris Doctorate degree was conferred by the Nova University Center for the Study of Law in 1978.

His wife of 40 years, Marilyn Purdy, was in attendance, standing by his side as he received the proclamation. Mr. Purdy previously worked as assistant attorney general and assistant state attorney in the 7th and 12th Judicial Districts of Florida along with seven years in private practice.

His community involvement went beyond the job to such interests as party chairman for the Volusia County Republican Party, district chairman for the Boy Scouts of America, service on the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, and volunteering for the National Park Service at Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine.

Matt Metz is his successor as public defender for the 7th Judicial Circuit. He referred to Mr. Purdy as an, “aspiring leader” who “pushed us all to be better.”

In retirement, Mr. Purdy is looking forward to enjoying his family, traveling, and following his passion for history. Appreciative of the recognition, he thanked the city, “I want to thank you for this honor. It really means a lot to me coming from my hometown.”

In other action, Councilman Chase Tramont thanked Parks and Recreation for the Memorial Day celebration, saying it was a “fabulous job” and noting how nice it was to “get back in a crowd like that and honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice so we can do exactly what we do day in and day out.”

Councilman Drew Bastian read into the minutes the obituary of George Meister, who was retired as a Port Orange Department of Fire and Rescue division chief. Mr. Meister died at 76 May 9. He retired in 1997 after a 20-year career.

Councilman Scott Stiltner mentioned the vandalism at City Center that knocked out several lights, creating a darkened section. City Manager Wayne Clark is working to restore the lighting.

City Center will host 4th of July activities beginning at 5:30 p.m., fireworks will begin at 9 p.m.

The council reappointed Philip Klema to the Environmental Advisory Board and appointed Daniel Pompi and Kat Atwood.

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