SW Orlando Neighborhood News

compiled by Lauren Salinero

Dr. Phillips

neighborhood news 1Vesper, pictured with her handler, Dr. Phillips resident Matthew FitzGibbon, overcomes sight obstacles to become certified in human remains detection.

In SW Orlando neighborhood news, Vesper, a working-line German shepherd, earned national certification in human remains detection, despite the complete loss of one eye. Together with her handler, Matthew FitzGibbon of Dr. Phillips, Vesper serves as a member of the Florida Alliance of Search and Rescue K-9 and can be deployed by law enforcement in wilderness settings as a cadaver dog. After frequent eye infections and complications, Vesper was diagnosed with a neurogenic eye disease that caused the tear production gland in her left eye to completely shut down. Her training was suspended due to battling the condition. At 20 months, complications following a second surgery led to the complete removal of her left eye. After recovering, and while still learning to cope with limited vision, Vesper continued training at Central Florida K-9, and she earned national certification in the Land Type IV Wilderness Test, which requires a canine to identify a thumbnail size of source material, or the absence thereof, in four 1-acre sectors.


Michael Oates of MetroWest graduated from Baylor University with a Doctor of Physical Therapy during the summer commencement. Baylor University, located in Waco, Texas, is a private Christian university and nationally ranked research institution. It blends interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship.


neighborhood news 2Southwest resident and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs (left) endorses Oakland resident Betsy VanderLey as Orange County District 1 Commissioner.

Oakland resident Betsy VanderLey, who is running for Orange County Commission District 1, was endorsed by Southwest resident and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs.

“I am very honored to have earned the endorsement of Mayor Jacobs,” Betsy said. “I was raised with the American ideal that serving others and making one’s community stronger was part of being a good citizen. That’s what I’ve tried to do through the years.”

Betsy also received the endorsements of more than a dozen other District 1 leaders and elected officials, as well as community organizations.

Orange Tree

neighborhood news 3Emilie Jean Scheetz of Orange Tree makes her debut at Mad Cow Theatre as part of the all-female cast of 1776.

Orange Tree resident and Windermere Preparatory School junior Emilie Jean Scheetz has a role in Mad Cow Theatre’s all-female production of 1776, the Tony Award-winning musical that celebrates the creation of America’s Declaration of Independence. Emilie has performed as Susan in Tick, Tick … Boom, Pennywise in Urinetown, and Drowsy in The Drowsy Chaperone at Dr. Phillips High School. She also played Fiona in Shrek the Musical and Bizarbara in Starmites at WPS, as well as Liza in Peter Pan at the Garden Theatre.

“I’m so excited to be making my debut at Mad Cow Theatre,” Emilie said. “I’m looking forward to working with and learning from this awesome cast of talented ladies. I’d like to thank Mark Edward Smith and Mitzi Maxwell for this amazing opportunity to grow as an actor.”

The show will run from Sept. 23-Oct. 23. For ticket information, visit madcowtheatre.com on the web. Windermere Prep students can use the code EMILIE for a 10 percent discount.


The town of Windermere held its annual 9/11 Memorial Service on Sept. 11 at the site of the 9/11 memorial behind town hall. Mayor Gary Bruhn was joined by other elected officials, Boy Scouts from local troops, musical performers from First Baptist Church Windermere, and many families who lost loved ones on Sept. 11.

“I can think of no better way to honor the innocent people who lost their lives that day than a memorial service at dusk before a piece of the World Trade Center that is now an everlasting memorial in their memory,” said Mayor Bruhn.

neighborhood news 4Windermere resident Makaila Nichols launches her first book, Blatantly Honest.

Eighteen-year-old Makaila Nichols of Windermere was named the national ambassador for The Great American No Bull Challenge, a nationwide effort to raise awareness against bullying. Makaila, who was a victim of bullying, speaks out about it in her debut book, Blatantly Honest, which is set for national release Oct. 3.

“I wanted to turn my experiences and difficulties into a platform that could truly reach and help others my age,” Makaila said. “I hope the book sparks real conversation. Teenagers should talk about their problems to others and be able to make a change in their life.”

In addition to becoming an author, Makaila began her modeling career at age 14 and has landed her first lead acting role in a major motion picture.

Because of his company’s continued exceptional growth and soaring revenues, Windermere resident Issac Lidsky, CEO of ODC Construction, had his company named to the 2016 Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing, privately held companies. ODC Construction was named No. 1,881 on the list.

“We are truly honored to be recognized again with so many other wonderful and successful organizations — it’s a great company to be in,” Issac said. “As we continue to grow and evolve, ODC remains committed to its core mission of building success for our homebuilder clients every day.”

Et Al

neighborhood news 5Vista Toastmasters 7250 President Randall Labranche presents Cindy Call with a Competent Communicator Award.

During a recent Vista Toastmasters 7250 meeting, Hidden Springs resident Cindy Call gave her 10th speech and was presented with a Competent Communicator Award. She has been a member of Vista Toastmasters since March 2014. The next level for her to achieve is Advanced Communicator Bronze. Cindy ended her speech by expressing her appreciation for her fellow Toastmasters, especially her mentor, Lyn Porpora, who holds the title of Distinguished Toastmaster. Vista Toastmasters 7250 meets every Thursday from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Southwest Library at Dr. Phillips. For more information, visit www.vistatoastmasters.org on the web.

neighborhood news 6Girl Scouts from Dr. Win Service Unit troops 954, 1069, 1175 and 2063 help to welcome 33 new U.S. citizens in a naturalization ceremony.

Four Girl Scout troops from the Dr. Win Service Unit participated in a naturalization ceremony for 33 new U.S. residents. They recited the Girl Scout Promise and Law, read a poem and handed out tiny, folded “pocket” flags they had made ahead of time.

neighborhood news 7Andy Binau addresses members of the Rotary Club of Lake Buena Vista.

At a Rotary Club of Lake Buena Vista meeting, Susan Binau and her son, Andy, of SerenityGate Foundation spoke to club members. They shared how, through their trials and challenges, they learned that when people get sudden, horrific news, they can use a friend to comfort them. Andy has written children’s books about a fictitious dog named Zam. The books are designed to help children handle a disaster within their family or circle of friends.

Although we try to ensure that all information presented above is the most current, correct and dependable available, we do rely on others for the source of our news. Therefore, the Southwest Orlando Bulletin and Kearney Publishing Corp. cannot be held responsible for the validity of the information presented here, nor does mentioning it constitute an endorsement. In Your Neighborhood news is welcome and may be mailed to P.O. Box 851, Windermere, FL  34786; or emailed to Lauren@kearneypublishing.com.💓

Please follow and like us: