Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Leader at Last

Ben Preston, in his short time on the Deerfield Beach Commission, has done more for his district in accomplishments and in morale improvement than was done by any past  District 2 commissioner.

The folks in District 2 often felt that they were slighted, or ignored when it came to city support, but not anymore. 

Ben ran for office not because he wanted to be a commissioner but because he felt that being on the commission would enable him to help the people in his district help themselves.  And he has done that. 

Everything in the list below was done in response to what the residents wanted, all could have been done in years past but no one listened until Ben came along.

Ben feels that our children are our future and is doing everything in his power to make sure as many Deerfield Beach students as possible stay in school, or return to school and graduate.
  • Ben, in response to residents’ suggestions, spearheaded the new policy on how long the public has to speak at commission meetings; the new policy allows the public 4 minutes (versus 3 minutes) and an additional minute can be granted at the discretion of the Mayor.
  • Ben initiated the renaming of Westside Community Center to the Johnny Tigner Community Center.
  • Ben had the name of SW 10th Ct. changed to Bethlehem Ct.
  • Ben started Project 2nd Chance, a GED class program culminating in a graduation ceremony for successful participants.
  • Ben spent hours and hours getting the 1st ever Deerfield Beach Elementary and Middle School Debate Competition started which was such a success that everyone wants it to be a yearly event.
  • Ben fought for an Appeals board as a resource for volunteer coaches involved in city athletics.
  • Ben was successful in bringing baseball back to Westside Park with the new little league and adult baseball fields.
  • To improve the appearance of District 2, and to improve safety conditions, Ben expedited the repaving of SW 11th Drive, the repaving of SW 15th Street, the installation of sidewalks in North Deerfield and moved to get a drop-off lane at the High School, which also eased traffic congestion on SW 15th Street.
  • Ben supported the BSO/FAU Owls on Patrol program.
  • Ben, knowing that appreciation is a great motivator, moved to get a trophy case at City Hall where awards and achievements can now be displayed.
  • Ben listened to the people who were upset at the potholes in the cemetery and made sure they were repaired.
  • Ben moved to help provide transportation to and from football games for the parent run Packer Rattlers youth football team.
  • Ben listened to the many residents who complained to the city about wild chickens and made sure they were removed. Some had been complaining about this for many years.
  • Ben organized a field trip for Deerfield Beach children to see the movie Red Tails about the all African American Tuskegee Airman.  The event included an essay contest and awards
  • Ben was quick to answer complaints about trash and litter dumping and Instituted regular D2 street cleanups and has been actively fighting to eliminate illegal dumping in D2, which seems to be working ,as there has not been a single case of illegal dumping in more than two months.
  • Ben’s efforts in championing his district has led to the city working to keep District 2 as clean and as possible, for example frequent pressure cleaning of the columns at the entrance to Westside Park which has a new deer statue, and there is new focus on cleanups of parks.
  • Ben responded to residents and so the basketball courts at Westside have recently been resurfaced.
  • Ben worked with BSO to increase patrols and investigation activities at Mayo Howard Park after residents contacted him about their concerns, and also worked to move up the timeline for repairs at Johnny McKeithen Park, and the elimination of drug activity at Johnny McKeithen Park.
  • Ben, again alerted by residents and crime reports, worked with BSO to fight elderly intimidation.
  • Ben supported the redevelopment of the Teen Center set to open this summer.
  • Ben worked with the Butters Construction Company on the donation of a new community center in their new business park.
  • Ben listened to the residents’ concerns about our Martin Luther King Day celebration and worked to make historical changes to the parade. This year was the first year ever that the parade crossed Federal Highway it was also the largest parade this city has ever seen, he is continuing to work to make the celebration even better.
  • Ben helped to make the People's Trust transition from Boca Raton to Deerfield Beach as seamless as possible, while working with the late CEO Mike Gold, to develop relationships with the community.
  • Ben was instrumental in securing a $25,000 donation to the SW 15th Street (which runs in front of the Deerfield Beach High School) beautification Project set to break ground this summer, and is working to get SW 15th street renamed as "Buck Pride Way”.
When I compare Ben’s outstanding effort in getting residents involved to that of the last District 2 commissioners I see a pattern emerging.  Ben’s message is together we can make a difference - help me help you.  He is proud of his fellow District 2 residents and makes sure that their accomplishments are made public. 

Ben often distributes certificates of achievement to residents and employees who have made contributions to the quality of life of our city.  This is an exciting improvement compared to the past commissioners’ message of keep quiet, don’t complain and don’t make waves.  Keep up the good work, Ben!