Lake Helen


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Party Lines Political Notebook for Lake Helen, FL / Headline Surfer®

David Hughes is among 6 candidates vying for 2 commission seats in Lake Helen, FL / Headline Surfer®Lake Helen, Florida qualifying for 2014 elections / Headline Surfer®Photos for Headline Surfer® / David Hughes, shown here at left, is among six candidayes vying for two commission seats in Lake Helen.

LAKE HELEN -- The two incumbents up for re-election here in rural Lake Helen in West Volusia have two challengers each in the 2014 elections with qualifying having ended noon Friday.

 Zone 2 City Commissioner Vernon Burton is being challenged by Ernie DeBoliac and Bart Gawlikowski. And Zone 4 City Commissioner Cameron Lane is facing challenges from David Hughes and Tura Schnebly.


LAKE HELEN -- So much for transparency and public information in Lake Helen: According to the city's website two seats are listed as up for elections, but no information on who qualified is listed.

Headline Surfer® did get a live person on the phone, but as soon as the internet newspaper said it was calling about qualifying, the phone was transferred to a recording in the city clerk's office.


Deputy returned fire in defensive mode, but gunman wasn't struck and instead died from self-inflicted shotgun blast

Man kills himself after domestic quarrel in Lake Helen / Headline SurferHeadline Surfer locator / After keeping deputies and a SWAT team at bay for several hours in the 2700 block of Ranch Road near Lake Helen, a man who had been fighting with his girlfriend while drinking, turned a shotgun on himself and fired one round. The man, whose name has not yet been released, was pronounced dead at 3:08 a.m. at Florida Hospital Fish Memorial in Orange City after being rushed into the ER a little more than an hour earlier. He had been drinking and got into a fight with his girlfriend who suffered minor injuries.

LAKE HELEN -- An armed man who threatened his girlfriend Monday night and then kept responding Volusia County Sheriff's deputies at bay for more than four hours has died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, an agency spokesman said.

share / Headline Surfer video and photo by multimedia editor Sera Frederick
Smoke chokes the air in the woods of Pioneer Trail in Samsula near New Smyrna Beach as shown in this video.

SAMSULA -- A 55-acre fire that raged in the woods of Pioneer Trail left the unmistakable stench of smoke for days.


LAKE HELEN -- Bud Budzinski, owner of the Elusive Grape in DeLand, will discuss “My life and times in wine” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, at Hopkins Hall, 192 Connecticut Ave., in quaint Lake Helen.

Budzinski has served as a food and beverage manager for a major hotel chain and opened and operated several restaurants in the area. His presentation is sponsored by the Friends of the Lake Helen Public Library.

For more information on the event, please call Pam Swanto at 386-228-1152.


Courtesy photo / Donald Bennett, the 81-year-old Lake Helen man reported missing Tuesday by his family was found safe earlier in the day Thursday.

LAKE HELEN -- Donald Bennett, the 81-year-old man last seen pedaling his black trek mountain bike on Tuesday when he was reported missing by his family in Lake Helen, was found safe today in Orange County and reunited with loved ones, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said.

Donald Bennett left his house at 1210 Deer Run Court at about 1 p.m. Tuesday. His family was worried because he has Alzheimer's and takes medicine for the condition, but did not have any with him when he left. But when he failed to return home from his bike ride after an hour, the Sheriff's Office was called by family members. 

This story had a happy ending, though.

"A citizen saw him at a convenience store near the intersection of Piedmont Wekiwa Road and East Semoran Boulevard in Apopka," Sheriff's spokesman Brandon Haught said. "The citizen had seen his picture in the news, recognized him and reported his location to local law enforcement. A family member was notified and went to a police sub station in Apopka to pick Bennett up."


Courtesy photo / If you see this man, Donald Bennett, reported missing by his family in Lake Hellen, please call 9-1-1 immediately as he has medical issues related to Alzheimer's.

LAKE HELEN -- The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help in locating an 81-year-old man who rode away on a bicycle from his house near Lake Helen Tuesday evening and has failed to return home.

Donald Bennett left his house at 1210 Deer Run Court at about 1 p.m. He has Alzheimer's and takes medicine for the condition, but did not have any with him when he left.
His family reported him missing at 3:40 p.m. He regularly takes bike rides, but is usually only gone for about an hour.

Bennett is 5 feet 4 and 140 pounds, with white hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a cream colored baseball cap with a Castrol logo on it, a blue shirt, blue polyester pants and brown loafer shoes. He wears a medical bracelet.
Bennett was last seen pedaling on a black trek mountain bike.

Anyone who spots Bennett is asked to call 911 immediately.


Courtesy photos / A large mid-June fire shown here in the Maytown Road area between Oak Hill and Osteen was among dozens of wild fires plaguing rural Volusia County, have finally been quelled by several weeks of steady rain leading to county officials announcing Wednesday that bans in place on fireworks use and outdoor burning would be lifted by this weekend. 

DELAND -- Volusia County Fire Services will lift the outdoor and fireworks bans for the county’s unincorporated areas as well as the cities of Lake Helen, Pierson and Oak Hill at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

The burn ban had been issued March 3, and the fireworks ban took effect June 6.

“The environmental conditions have improved because of the recent rain storms,” Volusia County Fire Services Chief Joseph Pozzo said earlier today, referring to the 12-plus inches of rainfall in the last few weeks. “But there is still a lot of dry vegetation throughout the county, so we ask residents to continue practicing wildfire safety.”

Pozzo notes that residents should not discard cigarettes from moving vehicles or park a hot car or operate all-terrain vehicles on dry grass. Outdoor fires and grills should be attended constantly and extinguished completely, and lawn mowers and farm equipment should be checked to make sure they have properly working spark arresters.


Courtesy photo / Thick smoke billows from a wild fire off a muddy dirt road in DeLand near Daytona Park Estates subdivision where a dozen homes were briefly evacuated earlier in the week.

DELAND -- With growing concern about the extreme dry conditions, the spate of wild fires and a forecast that calls for less than normal rainfall, Volusia County Fire Chief Joseph Pozzo has been authorized to enact a fireworks ban that begins Monday in the unincorporated areas of Volusia County and the cities of Lake Helen, Oak Hill and Pierson, which are part of the county’s unified fire district.


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DELAND -- Volusia County Fire Services will lift the outdoor burn and fireworks bans for the county’s unincorporated areas as well as the cities of Lake Helen, Oak Hill and Pierson at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.