OAK HILL, Fla -- Volusia County's smallest coastal municipality on the southern rural frontier has struggled for decades with trying to come of age from its orange-grove roots where modern amenities like water and sewer are non-existent -- save for a stretch of River Road -- in this rural outpost of 1,737 residents.
That is save for a stretch of River Road with water and sewer where NFL Hall of Famer Larry Csonka lives part of the year and four decades removed from his Miami Dolphins' back-to-back Super Bowl victories.
And it's this backdrop where secret deals, back-room promises by Daytona insiders and bizarre and possible criminal behavior by elected politicians could further tear this city apart even more than the divisiveness and corruption that led to the dismantling of its police force three years ago.
And in the 41 years since the bruising fullback capped a second consecutive Super Bowl win with an MVP trophy, one year after the Dolphins' perfect season, city officials now see a secretive manufacturing plant as the winning ticket that has eluded them for several generations.
While the secrecy surrounding this manufacturing -- which apparently is a rocket-rebuilding facility on the former city dump just down the road from Oak Hill City Hall, was dividing the community -- staunch environmentalists on one side opposed to manufacturing so close to the water's edge and those on the other side desperate for better-paying jobs.
Outspoken City Commissioner and Vice Mayor Jeff Bracy smelled a rat after learning that his political rival -- Mayor Douglas Gibson had signed a non-disclosure agreement on Jan. 30 with a group of Daytona Beach influential insiders -- led by Kent Sharples, the former Daytona State College president with his CEO Business Alliance financed by even richer Daytona insiders -- like International Speedway's Lesa France Kennedy.
And there was County Councilwoman Deb Denys who took to the Daytona Beach News-Journal in a write-up that was rushed into print, a half hour after Headline Surfer® broke the story on Feb. 16, headlined, "Volusia County, Daytona insiders & Oak Hill mayor sign 'confidentiality agreement' for manufacturing on 415 acres."
Denys described the secretive project as a "game changer," saying it was something she swore to secrecy even as Volusia County officials confirmed that no county elected or administrative officials had signed anything of the sort and had no legal standing -- directly or indirectly on the project being touted in Oak Hill.
And while Headline Surfer® discovered through elections campaign reports that Sharples' investors had provided Deuys with close to $20,000 in contributions for her 2012 and 2014 election cycles, she refused to comment as to her being beholding to these influential insiders as her motive in being coy about the project.
County Chair Jason Davis said he's learned what is being proposed is a manufacturing plant for the rebuilding of missiles used in launches at Cape Canaveral for Space X and Space Florida with the possibility of a remote launch site at the nearby Shiloh preserve straddling the Volusia-Brevard county lines.
Among Bracy's claims:
• Commissioner Robert Livingston signed a non-disclosure agreement with Kent Sharples & Glenn Storch at the NSB Angler's Club over drinks on Friday the 13th (of February) in hopes of getting an inside track on a lucrative job since he expects to be laid off from his crane operating gig at NASA.
• Bracy said his colleague on the municipal dais pounded on his door later that night, having realized he '(expletive) up, really (expletive) up' and possibly selling out his elected position of trust office in the process in trying to work a deal.
• So Livingston donned his bizarre disguise -- the long blonde wig covering his balding head and the bathrobe far too small for his 6-foot-2 lanky stature -- not quite reaching his jeans and work boots in trying to cover his tracks in his second meeting of the night -- this time with an elected colleague to discuss city business privately in clear violation of Florida's government in the Sunshine.
• Bracy denies that he himself did anything wrong in his interaction with Livingston, who has ignored repeated inquiries from the internet newspaper for an explanation to Bracy's claims.
• And there is yet another angle to this story that has resulted in Headline Surfer's nearly two-week delay in publishing these revelations. The internet newspaper is not revealing this last development for at least another 24 hours because it involves something far more sinister.