A look back at some of the major headlines of 2013

Community By The Miami Laker staff Wednesday, January 1, 2014


From politics to scholastic awards to major public works projects, many stories made headlines in Miami Lakes during 2013. The following is a brief recap of some of the top stories:

Wayne Slaton returns as mayor for the town of Miami Lakes, winning a special election in October to replace suspended mayor Michael Pizzi, who was arrested on public corruption charges.

Slaton, the catalyst for the incorporation movement, served as the town’s first mayor from 2001-2008.

Frank Mingo wins Council Seat 4 during the October special election to serve out the remaining term of former Councilmember Nelson Hernandez, who resigned to run for mayor.

After 12 years of renting space for a town hall building, Miami Lakes finally moved into its new state-of-the-art Government Center on Main Street in April.

Town officials held a historic ribbon-cutting ceremony to usher in the new building and invited guests included Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo Jr., officials from The Graham Companies and the city of Opa-locka, as well as long-time residents who were part of the incorporation movement.

In May, Miami Lakes Town officials broke ground on the N.W. 154 Street Project to add additional lanes between N.W. 84 and 87 avenues to alleviate traffic congestion and compliment the massive N.W. 87 Avenue project to open up the roadway between N.W. 154 and 162 streets.

Both projects are expected to be completed early this year.

In June, a majority of Miami Lakes voters changed the Town’s Charter through a mail-in ballot election to eliminate residential district council seats in favor of all at-large seats.

According to the Miami-Dade Elections Department, among the 17,504 registered voters in the town, 2,517 (14 percent) cast their ballots, as 1,372 (54.86 percent) approved the charter change, while 1,129 (45.14 percent) voted to keep the original residential district seats intact.

Since incorporation in 2000, the original town charter called for two at-large council seats, but now candidates can run for any of the four-year term council seats starting with the next regular election scheduled for Tuesday, November 4, 2014.

In September, longtime Miami Lakes Optimist Club member Jim Hamilton received the South Florida Optimist International’s District Optimist of the Year Award, recognizing his achievements in the Miami Lakes community. He became only the second person at the Optimist Club to win the accolade.

Current Governor of South Florida Optimist International, Jack McCall was the first, and it was only fitting he presented Hamilton the award during the annual Florida Optimist International Convention in Marco Island.

McCall and Hamilton have been working side-by-side since they joined the organization 40 years ago.

In February, Nick Mandich started a annual golf event to honor his late father and a way to give back to the community.

The first annual Jim “Mad Dog” Mandich Golf Classic took place at Shula’s Golf Club in Miami Lakes.

Jim Mandich, a former Miami Dolphins tight end who played on the 1972 undefeated team and Dolphins radio color radio commentator, died in 2011 of bile duct cancer.

Nick Mandich, 25, said his father was such an influence in the community and he wanted to continue his legacy.

Proceeds from the golf classic benefit the Miami Dolphins Touch Down Club, which Jim Mandich founded 12 years ago to give to the community and help former Dolphins players in need.

The Touchdown club gives a portion of its proceeds to help fight cancer in honor of Mandich.

In April, Jose Abreu officially resigned as Miami-Dade’s aviation director, ending a successful eight-year career with the county, Miami International Airport and the millions of passengers who visit the Magic City.

After Abreu announced his resignation in January to become senior vice president for the international engineering firm Gannett Fleming in Margate, Florida, the County Commission begged him to stay.

But the 58-year-old Miami Lakes resident closed another chapter of his storied government career and is ready to write a new one in a field that was his first love since he was kid – engineering.

In June, Miami Lakes residents began watching the Town Council Meetings live from the comfort of their own homes or at their kids sporting games by accessing the live webcast via the town’s brand new website.

Residents access the meetings by scrolling down in the section “Miami Lakes Means Business” and click on “Town Council meetings.”

The meetings are broadcast live from start to finish, and they are also available to watch at any later date.

Webcasting the meetings live was an initiative of Councilmember Manny Cid, one of the campaign promises he made to area residents.

In July, the Hialeah Miami Lakes High School’s Future Business Leaders of America traveled 3,000 miles to California to compete in a national prestigious competition.  The group initially won the state championship during the Florida Leadership Conference in Orlando, qualifying the six-member team to compete for the national title in Anaheim, California.

The group calls the national stage the cherry on top of their senior year.

In October, the first SPED-Parent Night Meeting took place at Barbara Goleman Senior High with the participation of a large group of parents of special needs students from several schools in the community.  The event, the first of its kind for the parents is just the beginning and was a complete success.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Miami Lakes, a group of art students and their teacher at Miami Lakes Middle School created a mural reminiscent of the 1960s when the area was a cow pasture and a dairy farm.

The giant-sized painting adorns the school’s wall at 6425 Miami Lakeway North near the students pick-up, drop-off point, creating an image to reflect the many academics, magnet programs, sports and elective courses the school has to offer to students.

But in the mural, the cows are portraying the students and teachers.

“It shows the community what we have to offer in courses filled with a diverse culture and different colors to describe the atmosphere at the school,” said art teacher Irene Albalat.

The mural mirrors the learning and recreation ambiance of the students’ everyday life that helped the school earn an A for five consecutive years.