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News Story
Updated: 04/24/2014 03:40:02PM

When 100 years isn’t really 100 years

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PHOTO BY JAMES COULTER

Frostproof Mayor Anne Dickinson, right, gave her State of the City Address Monday evening.

By JAMES COULTER

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When will Frostproof celebrate its 100th anniversary?

It depends on when the city was first founded, the exact date of which proved hard to agree upon by members of the city council during its meeting Monday night.

Eventually, the group voted 4-1 to accept 1915 as the year Frostproof became a city, thus meaning next year will be the centennial celebration.

Three years ago, at the suggestion of then Mayor Kay Hutzelman, the council voted to set aside $2,000 per year for five years, for a total of $10,000, to help finance the city’s centennial celebration, originally planned for 2016.

However, not only did the council recently determine that the estimated total may not be sufficient, but that the centennial’s date may not have been properly set.

City Clerk Sarah Adelt requested the State Archives to research the year when Frostproof was created. They discovered that Frostproof was incorporated through a charter issued in 1915.

However, several years later, in 1918, for reasons unknown, the city was abolished by the State Legislature, which simultaneously reincorporated it as the “Town of Frostproof.”

Florida municipalities can exist only by being incorporated through the state legislature, which also has the power to terminate a municipality, City Attorney Mark Smith explained.

Frostproof was once again reincorporated in 1921, as the “Town of Frostproof.” This was the last time the town would be incorporated. It would later be renamed the “City of Frostproof” in 1961.

So while Frostproof was originally founded in 1915, it was legally incorporated in 1921, thus leaving two dates for the City Council to discuss and determine.

Vice Mayor Diane Biehl suggested that the founding year be recognized as 1915, as this was when Frostproof was first recognized as a city, and thus would make for a more accurate historical celebration in 2015.

City Commissioner Martha Neher, conversely, suggested recognizing the official date as 1921, as not only was it the year Frostproof was recognized as a legal entity, but would allow the city more time to raise funds and plan its celebration if it were set in 2021.

To help determine the costs and planning for Frostproof’s own centennial, City Manager Tenny R. Croley looked to Auburndale to learn how the city held its celebration three years ago in 2011.

Auburndale spent over a year planning its celebration, and though its total cost was not available, the cost for its final event alone, which included a concert and fireworks, was more than $58,000.

Frostproof currently has $6,000 set aside for its centennial. To provide fireworks alone, it would require at least $20,000, vastly dwarfing its current budget, Croley indicated.

Mayor Anne Dickinson did not consider it fiscally responsible to host such an extravagant event, and suggested holding a smaller scale one for 2015.

“Fiscally, I wouldn’t want to spend $58,000 or anywhere near that for basically an expression of civic pride or history,” Dickinson said. “So I would like to see us stick with the historicity of Frostproof and celebrate it with whatever money we have.”

Dickinson suggested that the city could easily celebrate its anniversary with affordable yet equally entertaining activities such as lectures, scavenger hunts, and a community picnic.

Biehl agreed with the mayor’s sentiments, claiming that waiting an additional seven years for the sake of additional funds seemed overtly lengthy.

“I don’t think we are going to choose to celebrate in 2021 just so we can have a bigger war chest,” she said.

Neher said she believed that funding was not the only issue. Even if the city decided for more affordable alternatives for its celebration, setting it for 2015 would only afford it nine months for planning and preparation.

In the end, the council agreed to officially recognize 1915 as the year the city was founded, as it was the year it was originally established as a municipality, changes in terminology in later years notwithstanding.

“I would not personally support celebrating it in 2021 or a later year when it does not reflect when the town was established,” Biehl said. “Part of our identity is that we are one of the oldest towns in Central Florida, and we wouldn’t want to give that identity up.”

The decision was motioned and seconded, and voted on 4-1, with Neher offering the only ‘nay’ vote.

As for when the centennial celebration will be held next year, the exact date has been left by the council for a future committee to decide.

The official charter establishing Frostproof as a city was made between April and June of 1915. The centennial will either be held in the summer or fall, though a yearlong celebration is also a possibility.

Earlier during the council meeting, Dickinson was sworn into Seat 3, in which she will serve an additional three years. She was originally going to be sworn in during the last meeting on Apr. 7, but was absent that evening.


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