33. NSB businessman Bob Garrigues dies at age 88; drew controversy by trying to help Steve Dennis

Top 100 Local Stories of 2014 in Central Florida / Headline Surfer®
Bob Garrigues on Canal Strreet during the 2013 Halloween Parade with his wife, Peggy / Headline Surfer®Headline Surfer® photo /
New Smyrna Beach businessman Bob Garrigues was a fixture at street festivals on Flagler Avenue and Canal Street, even in advanced age with his wife, Peggy, by his side, as shown in this image from the 2012 NSB Halloween Parade on Canal. 

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. -- Bob Garrigues was a leading businessman in New Smyrna Beach for decades, before he passed away on July 18, 2014, at the age of 82.

Born and raised in the Baltimore, Maryland area, Bob served in the Army during the Korean Conflict then graduated from Towson State University. He started a staff leasing company in the 1990s but spent most of his career in insurance.

Garriques was active in the American Legion, Elks, Kiwanis, Chamber of Commerce, and the Episcopal Church, and belonged to Smyrna Yacht Club in New Smyrna Beach, where he and his wife have lived for 35 years. Garriques also was a one-time president of the Siutheast Volusia Chamber of Commerce.

Back in 2011, Garriques went through a tough stretch of controversy in trying to help out a friend -- Steve Dennis.

Garrigues said he was was approached by Dennis, at that point trying to stay on the New Smyrna Beach CRA as its vice chairman by becoming a duly sworn member of one of Garrigues' companies.

But the then-chairman of the CRA, Charles L. Belote wasn't buying it and neither was NSBNews.net, the predecessor name to HeadlineSurfer.com prior to 2012.

Dennis was forced to abruptly resign from the Community Redevelopment Agency after his latest claim to ties with the district were called into question by his board's chairman and by the internet newspaper.

Dennis' departure started as a result of the Observer Newspaper abandoning its offices on Flagler Avenue with no forwarding location. In order to serve on the CRA its members must either live in the district, work in the district or be an officer in a corporation in a business located in the district.

When Dennis was fired in August 2010, as director of the Southeast Volusia Chamber of Commerce, he was able to stay on the CRA after Michele Lott, publisher of Coronado Beach Publishing, wrote a letter to the city claiming Dennis was a "duly sworn officer" of the corporation doing business as the Observer newspaper.

But when the Observer left its Flagler Avenue offices in 2011, which it shared with Lott's husband, Robert Lott of Lott Financial Services, Dennis could no longer lay claim to his seat. The city then received a letter from Garrigues, former president of the chamber, stating that Dennis was now a "duly sworn officer" for his leasing company.

That did not sit well with CRA Chairman Charles L. Belote who sent an e-mail to other city officials, including CRA Director Tony Otte and CRA attorney Mark Hall, questioning the veracity of Dennis' new-found business connection within the CRA district.

"Pursuant to s.817.155, Florida Statutes, it is a 3rd Degree Felony to knowingly file a false document with the Division of Corporations," Belote wrote in the e-mail sent at 1:25 p.m. Friday, which included an attachment that cites the law.

Dennis was a no-show at the CRA meeting, which NSBNews.net attended and during which asked the CRA officials about the status of Dennis' situation with the CRA after the Observer newspaper closed up shop on Flagler.

Photos by Henry Frederick /
Steve Dennis, shown in the larger photo, can thank Michele and Robert Lott for costing him his 25-year tenure with the New Smyrna Beach Community Redevelopment Agency since they closed up their rented office for the Observer newspaper on Flagler Avenue in 2011. The Observer then moved to the Lotts' home in Edgewater where its newspaper operations finally ceased in November 2011. The following year, the Lotts sought and received bankruptcy protection from their creditors. The Observer was purchased from the bankruptcy receiver for $2,500 by Realtor Tom Alcorn who re-opened it as a monthly, but he, too, saw the handwriting on the wall and closed shop.
 

The internet newspaper asked the CRA for proof of Dennis' membership with the CRA, for which the board attorney, Mark Hall, tersely responded, "We're looking into those questions. We just found out about this yesterday."

The Observer had vacated Flagler during the tail-end of the week of April 4, 2011, prompting NSBNews.net to call CRA Director Tony Otte in advance of the CRA meeting meeting to inquire as to Dennis' status with the CRA.

The internet newspaper was told by Otte's assistant that Dennis had called in the day before the meeting to announce he would not be attending the meeting because he had other pressing business. Otte's assistant, Claudia Soulie, told NSBNews.net that Dennis had not missed a meeting in years.

The internet newspaper called Garrigues and asked him if Dennis' new appointment was legitimate or if it was just a mans for him to stay on the CRA. Garrigues said "the idea was all Dennis'." As for his duties, Garrigues said they were not defined and added he was just trying to help Dennis out.

The internet newspaper called Garrigues and asked him if Dennis' new appointment was legitimate or if it was just a mans for him to stay on the CRA. Garrigues said "the idea was all Dennis'." As for his duties, Garrigues said they were not defined and added he was just trying to help Dennis out.

As for the legitimacy of it all, Garrigues said he was not trying to do anything illegal and said he would ask Dennis to call the internet newspaper. Dennis did not call back.

Instead, Dennis sent in a letter of resignation from the CRA, and the resignation was accepted by then-Mayor Adam Barringer. 

The death of Bob Garrigues comes in at No. 33 in the HeadlineSurfer.com countdown of the top 100 local stories of 2014.

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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 narly eveenly 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 Wst Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.