KARI COBHAM - STAFF WRITER
November 22, 2006
League names Hall citizen of the year
Activist honored for DeLand beautification work
Friday night was Maggi Hall's version of the Oscars, complete with wringing hands and a tearful one-line acceptance speech. The Florida League of Cities awarded Hall, a well-known DeLand resident, city citizen of the year at its third annual Cities of Excellence awards ceremony in Orlando.
"If any of you choose to relocate, come to DeLand," said a stunned Hall as she accepted the evening's first award.
The league, which is a consortium of municipal governments statewide, gives the awards to "focus attention on the good things that cities do to improve the lives of Florida's citizens," said Sharon Berrian, league spokeswoman.
Hall received the award for her outstanding volunteer contribution to DeLand's quality of life.
When the Stetson University alumna returned to the city in 1999, she embarked on a project soon after to transform dilapidated historic homes in an area known as "Crack Alley" in southeast DeLand.
"I fell in love with a small town," Hall said. "There's just a really genuine goodness in the community."
More than 50 homes were restored to their 1940s grandeur and the newly tree-lined streets became the Garden District. Since its revitalization, district property values have increased and more businesses have moved into the area.
"It's the greatest gift I've ever been given, for the city I fell in love with in the '60s to recognized me," Hall said of her win.
Among her community roles, Hall also serves on MainStreet DeLand's design committee and was instrumental in pulling together the annual downtown beautification "Fresh Facade" contest where business owners compete for $10,000 in prizes donated by her real estate company, West Volusia Properties.
Two tiers of judges from Leadership Florida, within the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and the executive committee from the league independently reviewed nominations from across the state and narrowed the list to five. Hall was the eventual winner of her category.
"All of the nomination forms presented people who were stellar," Berrian said. "The information about Ms. Hall was one of exemplary character and service to the city of DeLand."
Next on Hall's plate: Improvements to Painter's Pond Park on Wisconsin and Alabama Avenues.
"Maggi Hall has done so many things in our community over the last couple of years, it really was hard for me to think there could be anyone else more worthy of that recognition," Mayor Bob Apgar said.
DeLand also was nominated for Florida City of Excellence, Mayor of the Year and the City Spirit Award for the Spring Hill Redevelopment Agency.
"It was quite an honor for the city of DeLand to have four finalists for the league," Apgar said. "That says a lot for the positive things going on in our community."
The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation honored Hall in May for the Garden District project. City commissioners recognized Hall on Monday for her recent win.
"We're very proud of not only her winning, but what she's done in the city of DeLand," City Manager Mike Abels said.
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