Commissioner Stuart – January 2020
Most years, I feel a little let down this month, a hangover of sorts following all of the goings on of the holiday season… but not this year! We are all glad to see 2021 on the calendar. But we also need to thank 2020 for showing us how strong we could be and how, in a crisis, our city didn’t become divided. Instead we worked hard to help each other, our essential workers, our hospitals, and our businesses.
Another thing we can all help this month is our environment. As the holidays wind down, please know that you can put your live Christmas tree, free of decorations, on the curb with your yard waste. You can also repurpose your used cooking oil. Place it in a shatterproof container (the one it came in is a good option) and bring it to a City of Orlando drop off location where it can be turned into bio-diesel. Find drop off locations at orlando.gov/grease.
You can also recycle many other holiday items: standard greeting cards and envelopes that aren’t shiny or have glitter on them, and cardboard and gift boxes (consider breaking them down and not leaving them visibly on the curb as this can send a message to would-be-thieves of what fun items are now in your home for them to take). Check out orlando.gov/recycle for a full list of items and where our drop-off locations are located for oversized items.
While we are hopeful for brighter days ahead, this year is bringing a big change to my office, as our District 3 Police Liaison Officer, Corporal Kevlon Kirkpatrick, retires from the Orlando Police Department, effective this month. Cpl. Kirkpatrick has served the residents of District 3 since I took office in 2006. Before serving in his current role, Cpl. Kirkpatrick was the school resource officer for Edgewater High School. If you look up the definition of public servant in the dictionary, Cpl. Kirkpatrick’s picture would be listed. While we are excited for him to embark on new adventures, he will be dearly missed. We appreciate his recommendation of Ofc. Steven Smith to take over his position and look forward to introducing Ofc. Smith around the district during the next few months.
As a reminder, for our City residents, our liaison officers are available to perform a security assessment of your property, help set up a Neighborhood or Business Watch Group in your area, attend local meetings, and more. They serve as your community connection to our police department. Visit orlando.gov/police for more information.
While Neighborhood Watch is a great way to get involved, there are many other ways to volunteer and get more connected with your community and your city (in case that is your New Year’s resolution). As we all watched our state and our nation go through a difficult election cycle, the bright spot was the record voter turnout. I may be biased, but I really do believe that there is much truth to the saying that, “all politics are local.” My hope in 2021 is that we can utilize that enthusiasm and passion to make a difference here at home. One idea is to serve on a City volunteer board. These boards advise the City Council on many important decisions. There are also opportunities to work with our youth through mentoring, coaching, even as a book club facilitator. Our Orlando Police Department is also supported by volunteers. Maybe you have a green thumb and can dedicate some time to our Keep Orlando Beautiful program, working on community clean-ups, park beautification projects and more. Visit orlando.gov/volunteer for details on these and other ways you can give 2020’s passion a constructive outlet in 2021… other than arguing with friends on social media.
Finally, another way we can all help this month (and year) is to dig deep into our well of patience and show grace for all of those working hard to roll out the vaccination programs for our county. We can all keep doing our part to wear our masks, wash our hands and support our businesses however we can while we wait. If you need the most recent information, visit ocfl.net/vaccines.
Happy New Year and as always, thank you for all you do for our shared community; keep up the great work!