New motto for seaside community: 'City of Oak Hill -- We make fishers of many'

Mayor and commissioners: Citizens more united in wake of cop shop demise

Oak Hill PD cars lined up / Headline Surfer
Headline Surfer photos and videos / The 24/7 internet newspaper recognizes Oak Hill's motto contest with this quick-hit video set to the 1964 smash hit "The Name Game" by Shirley Ellis. The contest puts the city that much further ahead from the divisiveness of a community rocked by a scandal that led to the demise of the police force two years ago under embattled Police Chief Diane Young, a former cocaine addict.
 
Matthew 4:18-20: And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

Oak Hill Police Chief Diane Young loses her department / Headline SurferOAK HILL -- There's a winning motto for tiny Oak Hill, Volusia County's smallest city with a mere 1,793 residents straddling the border with Brevard County, just north of Titusville, Merritt Island and the Kennedy Space Center.

The city held a contest earlier this summer that asked the public to come up with a new motto that best represents the good in the seaside city that is home to world-famous Mosquito Lagoon, where fishing is plentiful for highly competitive professional sportsmen and the average fishing enthusiast alike, who come from near and far to this oasis.

Connie Newport was declared the winner by the Oak Hill City Commission with her motto: "City of Oak Hill – We make fishers of many.” It's a clear biblical reference to Jesus encouraging two fishermen to droop their nets and follow him as disciples.

Newport's prize was a $50 EE savings bond. In all, there were 40 entries. Donna Ross and Tom McGow were declared the runners-up with their entry: “Come Chill in Oak Hill.” And with their showing, they received a $25 gift card to the Oak Hill restaurant of their choice.

Mayor Douglas Gibson commended his elected colleagues and city staff for engaging the public in the contest, and judging by the results, he sees it as a sign the city remains special to its residents.

Certainly, Gibson, a retired Florida state trooper, elected to the top municipal post in November, sees the city coming together after several years of acrimony that led to the demise of the scandal-ridden police force a year ago. "It was a dark cloud in the city's history, but we weathered the storm," Gibson told Headline Surfer. 

Oak Hill Mayor greets a VCSO deputy / Headline SurferCertainly, Douglas Gibson, a retired Florida state trooper, elected to the top municipal post in November, sees the city coming together after several years of acrimony that led to the demise of the scandal-ridden police force a year ago. 

"It was a dark cloud in the city's history, but we weathered the storm," Gibson told Headline Surfer. 

As an appointee commissioner on the dais just a few months, Gibson led the charge to disband six-member police force led by Police Chief Diane Young, promoted a couple years earlier by a previous commission despite her admission of snorting cocaine a decade earlier.

Gibson and company endured the intense coverage of Headline Surfer's nearly two-year multi-media investigative series, "Oak Hill Cops: Cocaine, Corruption & Chaos." One of the segments in the investigative series, "Ex-Oak Hill Mayor: Embattled Police Chief Diane Young not only snorted coke and smoked pot, but also popped ludes," was recognized with an award for public safety reporting in the 2012 Florida Press Club journalism contest.

There was the chaos of City Clerk/Administrator Laura Goodearly, who not only was fighting with the police chief, but the media as well, especially after Headline Surfer reported she failed to put on her job application that she had been convicted of DUI after city workers complained she had been routinely dumping her empty beer bottles in the city dumpster before reporting to work.

Headline Surfer video produced by Multimedia Editor Serafina Frederick / A week after the Oak Hill police force was disbanded, ex-cop Meredith Ebarhart and his wife, Theresa, blasted Commissioner Ron Engele for his politics in the desintegrating situation in the department where officers were pitted against each other and the chief. Engele was the department head.

To compound matters, City Commissioner Ron Engele had Headline Surfer illegally removed from a Commission meeting. Bracy, who had not yet returned to the commission as an elected official, remembered it all coming to a head after then-Sgt. Manny Perez giving Headline Surfer an exclusive video interview airing the department's dirty laundry.

Then there was the internet newspaper's breaking a story where then-83-year-old Mayor Mary Lee Cook was accused of growing marijuana plants, prompting an investigation by the Sheriff's Office that revealed Young was working behind the scenes to make at the case. The VCSO didn't bite.

Earlier, there were accusations that then-Sgt. Michael Ihnken took certification tests for other officers and that Perez was stealing gas, the latter pushed by officer Meredith Eberhart, who had been a whistleblower and had to deal with backbiting within the department and city hall.

Vice Mayor and City Commissioner Jeff Bracy remembers all too well it was not that long ago that Oak Hill was referred to as "Joke Hill" and even "Coke Hill." "We were the laughing stock of the county," Bracy told Headline Surfer of the embarrassment in the crumbling police force led by then-Police Chief Diane Young, a former cocaine user hired as a cop with no prior experience who eventually worked her way up to police chief. 

Oak Hill Vice Mayor with ex-Police Chief Diane Young / Headline SurferVice Mayor and City Commissioner Jeff Bracy remembers all too well it was not that long ago that Oak Hill was referred to as "Joke Hill" and even "Coke Hill."

"We were the laughing stock of the county," Bracy told Headline Surfer of the embarrassment in the crumbling police force led by then-Police Chief Diane Young, a former cocaine user hired as a cop with no prior experience who eventually worked her way up to police chief. 

Bracy said the city endured the adverse news coverage advanced by Headline Surfer that resulted in the Orlando TV stations and the Daytona Beach News-Journal swooping in at the 11th hour.

While Oak Hill was trying to ride out this firestorm early on, it took a back seat to a scandal in the Windemere police force that was heavily covered by the Orlando Sentinel and the TV stations. 

Still, Bracy said he, for one, in hindsight was more than pleased the internet newspaper had aggressively dogged the story.

"If it hadn't been for your reporting, we might still be the laughing stock," insisted Bracy of Headline Surfer's nearly investigative series, with heavy emphasis on public records and extensive video interviews with the cops themselves.

"I'm serious about that," said Bracy, a former acting mayor, who was who was automatically seated in November when his fellow challenger for the position, Lynne Seward, failed to qualify in time, a circuit judge ruled in what became a mini-drama, after the police force was disbanded in favor of coverage from the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.

The issues dividing the city weren't limited only to the cops.

Oak Hill Police scandal in editorial cartoon / Headline Surfer Headline Surfer cartoon by Multimedia Editor Serafina Frederick / The image here looks at the three antagonists in the municipal scandal that rocked Oak Hill. Below are Commissioner Ron Engele and since-fired City Clerk Laura Goodearly, who are featured in the cartoon along with former Police Chief Diane Young.

Oak Hill Commissioner Ron Engele has a reporter removed / Headline SurferFired Oak Hill City Clerk Laura Goodearly / Headline SurferThen-City Clerk/Administrator Laura Goodearly was warring with Young and with the media, especially after Headline Surfer reported she was hired two years earlier despite a DUI conviction which she left off her job application. 

She was replaced by Kohn Evans who had been the deputy clerk.

Headline Surfer also reported on complaints from city workers of Goodearly emptying beer bottles from her car into the city dumpster on a regular basis before starting work.

Things even got heated in the commission chambers when Commissioner Ron Engele erupted into two screaming threats before having Headline Surfer illegally removed from the premises by the police chief.

Mary Lee Cook, ex-Oak Hill Mayor in pot scandal plant / Headline SurferThe online search engines like Google here highlighted how when Mary Lee Cook was mayor during the police scandal where she found herself caught up in  a situation where marijuana plants were 'planted' on her property. The then-83-year-old mayor made national headlines after Headliner Surfer (then-known as NSBNews.net) broke the story. Cook was not deemed a suspect by the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.

Then-Commissioner Linda Hyatt demanded he resign at a subsequent meeting for his behavior with the internet newspaper as did others after complaints alleging he was showing up in the community intoxicated and bossing cops around.

Two meetings later, Cook read a prepared statement of apology to Headline Surfer while Engele was a no-show. He has never apologized to Headline Surfer for his behavior.

Engele was the lone vote in June against a $1,200 annual contract the city and the internet newspaper signed with the internet newspaper offering to speak up for the community with county, state and federal officials on big-ticket items like the city's need for water and sewer, grants and other issues where the city has traditionally been ignored by the politicians.

Video description of Oak Hill motto / Headline SurferThe images on this snapsho of the Headline Surfer video on Oak Hill's name game shows Mayor Douglss Gibson and Commissioner Robert Livingston. In the center is the longstanding municipal sign in front of Oak Hill that still lists the now-defunct police department. The far rioght image shows Linda Hyatt, former commissioner and vice mayor who writes a community blog for Headline Surfer called 'Linda's Lagoon,' and to her left is Mary Lee Cook, the former mayor.

Headline Surfer also hosted and sponsored a community forum last month in the commission chambers on Oak Hill's needs should authorities move forward with plans for a private aerospace program at the nearby Shiloh preserve where several suitors are jockeying for federal approval.

The internet newspaper is working on a video highlight package from the forum as well as a brief written report it will publish and deliver next month to the Volusia County Council, the Volusia legislative delegation and Congressman Ron DeSantis.

FAST FACTS: The Name Game by Shirley Ellis

Shirley Ellis / The Name Game / Headline SurferReleased 1964 / Peaked at No. 3 / USA / Billboard singles chart
This song was written by Soul singer Shirley Ellis and her manager, Lincoln Chase. In it, Ellis proves that she can rhyme any name, including her own, using just a few simple rules ("Shirley - Shirley, Shirley bo Birley Bonana fanna fo Firley Fee fy mo Mirley, Shirley!").
Ellis used to amaze audiences by taking name game requests. She usually had the good sense to ignore requests for "Chuck."
Source: Songfacts.com
 
About the singer:
Shirley Ellis (born 1929, died 2005) was an American soul music singer and songwriter of West Indian origin. She is best known for her novelty hits "The Nitty Gritty" (1963) (US #8), "The Name Game" (1964) (US #3) and "The Clapping Song" (1965) (US #8/UK #6). "The Clapping Song" sold over 1 million copies and was awarded a gold disc.
By 1954, Ellis had written two songs, which were recorded by The Chords. Ellis was originally in the group, "The Metronomes," and she went on to marry the lead singer, Alphonso Elliston.
All her solo hits were written by her and her manager, record producer, and songwriting partner, Lincoln Chase. Ellis had recording contracts with the Kapp Records subsidiary Congress and later Columbia and Bell Records, but retired from the music industry in 1968.
Source: Wikipedia
 
Did You Know?
 
Uploaded from YouTube / On the Jan. 2, 2013, Season 2 episode of "American Horror Story: Asylum," titled "The Name Game," the song was used in a sequence where Jessica Lange's character hallucinates herself and some of the other main characters singing and dancing to the song. Source: Wikipedia
In the second video, Jessica Lange talks about her role on the ABC TV show, "The View."

Previous Coverage:

Wanted: Motto for City of Oak Hill
Posted Tue, 2013-07-02 08:53
Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.