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Holiday Town Reception features speakers, awards presentation

December 20, 2017
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

The Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District held its fifth annual Holiday Town Reception on Dec. 14, featuring speakers and a special awards presentation.

The community had an opportunity to hear from its state and county elected officials, including state Sen. Kathleen Passidomo and Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass. One of the highlights was a leadership award given to Charlotte Rae Nicely, executive director of Lehigh Community Services.

"Nicely has played an integral role in getting the help to those in need during and after Hurricane Irma," LA-MSID Commissioner Michael Welch, the event chair, said. "She has served the community for more than 10 years."

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State Sen. Kathleen Passidomo speaks at the LA-MSID’s fifth annual Holiday Town Reception on Dec. 14.

"She found a way to put things together in a way that catered to all the needs of those less fortunate," he added.

Nicely is set to retire effective Jan. 1; she will be succeeded by Carolyn Peplow.

"I couldn't have done everything by myself. It takes the help of everyone working together to make things work," Nicely said.

Welch also recognized community leaders and first responders for their role during Irma.

"Ninety days ago this building was a campus full of sleeping bags and local government entities working together through Hurricane Irma," he said.

Welch pointed out how well the local agencies worked together during the storm.

"We will be much more organized in the future," he said. "Our goal is to create a more localized emergency command center that will set an example for the rest of the region."

Welch acknowledged Lehigh's hospital for its perseverance.

"Lehigh Regional Medical Center was known as the little hospital that kept running, even when others throughout Lee County were turning people away," he said.

Welch also announced that LA-MSID's board approved a resolution to continue to grow its powers as outlined by state law and serve as the foundation for a municipality.

"We were elevated to a municipal district partly due to the storm and our actions in its aftermath," he said. "The legislation's intent is that if the conditions are right someday and Lehigh does incorporate, then LA-MSID will help serve as that platform."

Welch invited the officials present to sign the resolution.

Passidomo signed the resolution and spoke about how crucial it is for Lehigh to be financially stable and have the right infrastructure prior to becoming a city.

"Legislature is very careful on which unincorporated areas will be authorized to incorporate," she said.



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