Mike Welch, who has served as chairman of the East County Water Control District for the past year, said he could not have been more pleased with the large crowd of people who turned out for a special reception last week with newer Lee County government personnel on hand to meet the people of Lehigh.
The reception, with a nice layout of food, was opened to anyone in Lehigh who wanted to come and meet with the new county officials.
"We had about 70 or more people here, a nice turnout," Welch said. "It was all organized by the commissioners and myself and held prior to our regularly scheduled monthly meeting at our headquarters on East County lane," Welch said.
The East County Water District’s mascot, an otter, is joined at the reception by Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais, left, and at right, Commissioners Larry Kiker and Brian Hamman.
On hand were Lee County Commissioners Larry Kiker and Brian Hamman; County Manager Roger Desjarlais and the new county attorney, Richard Wesch.
Commissioner Frank Mann was unable to attend the reception due to the death of his mother, Barbara B. Mann, in whose honor the Barbara B. Mann Arts Hall was named. She passed away last Sunday morning at the age of 100 and would have been 101 on January 4 of 2014.
During introductions, Welch noted that Hamman, who as appointed by the governor, has already been named to be chairman of the group.
One of the highlights of the early evening reception was the appearance of the East County Water Control District's mascot, an otter in costume with Ray Qualk, an ECWCD employee inside. Some thought it may have been a bear, but Qualk diminished such thoughts and said, "I am an otter, haven't you ever seen an otter before?"
The reception began at 5 p.m. with guests mingling and eating good food provided by the water control district.
After about 20 minutes, Welch introduced the group and told them they were welcome to Lehigh.
Brian Hamman, the newest commission member, laughed and said he had been in Lehigh several times over the past weeks at ribbon cutting ceremonies.
He first spoke of work underway on the council that will benefit Lehigh, noting the money spent in Lehigh for such things as repaving of streets.
Mike Bonacolta, a member of the ECWCD, was named chairman for the coming year. He joins other members, Welch, Nate Stout, Kenneth Thompson and David Deetscreek, who also publicly welcomed the guests from Lee County government.
The next meeting of the East County Water Control District is on Jan. 27 with the meeting beginning at 6 p.m. All sessions are open to the public and are held in the large meeting room on East County Lane.
East County Water Control District (ECWCD) preserves and protects water reserves through drainage, conservation, mitigation, navigational and water management practices in 70,000 acres of land in both Lehigh Acres and the western portion of Hendry County.