Sound The Alarm
Ocala Fire Rescue and the American Red Cross recently joined forces to Sound the Alarm about fire safety. For a period of three days in January, Ocala Fire Rescue firefighters and Red Cross volunteers roamed the streets of The Villas at Spanish Oaks mobile home park as part of a door-to-door smoke detector installation canvass. Installing 144 smoke alarms in the three-day period, the campaign was a huge success. Ocala Fire Rescue also visited the neighborhood three days in February to install additional smoke detectors. Installations were free of charge and meant to add a layer of protection against fire to the homes. Ocala Fire Rescue reminds the public that any homeowner residing inside the city limits can request a free smoke detector and its installation by visiting ocalafire.org.
In December, Ocala resident Lance Powers scored a hole-in-one while playing in a charity golf tournament at the Ocala Country Club. He was presented the keys to a new Toyota and a check for $27,400 to pay for it in January. The presentation was given by long-time Rotarian Frank DeLuca, owner and president of DeLuca Toyota. The third annual tournament, sponsored by the Ocala-Silver Springs Rotary Club, supported Project Hope and the Rotary Foundation. More than $12,000 was raised through the tournament to support both charitable efforts.
Welcome To The Team
Angel Roussel, PE, now leads the Marion County Public Works division as assistant county administrator, bringing more than 17 years of public works-related experience to the position. He served in an interim capacity for the past three months after the previous assistant county administrator left the county in September. Roussel joined Marion County in 2007 as the engineering manager for Marion County Utilities before taking an opportunity outside of the county in 2013. He returned to utilities as the department’s director in April 2016 and served as both utilities department director and acting assistant county administrator since September 2017. As assistant county administrator, Roussel oversees nine departments and a total staff of about 400.
A New Leader
Marion County Fire Rescue operates under new leadership with the appointment of James Banta as fire chief. Banta, who has more than 20 years of experience in fire service—all with Marion County—replaces Paul Nevels, who retired at the end of October. Banta joined Marion County Fire Rescue as a firefighter/paramedic in 1997 and was promoted through the ranks to division chief of operations in 2012 and deputy fire chief in 2016. He has served as acting fire chief since October 2017 and was appointed fire chief in December after a competitive hiring process. In his new role, Chief Banta oversees a department of more than 500 members.