Communication Builds Our Community

"Unity" Cookout Draws Crowd to Share With Current, Former City Officials

Event May Be Start of "Unity in the Community 2'0"

A community gathering drew a large group of current, future, and former city officials Sunday evening to initiate what some hope will become a new "unity" effort in Lake Wales,

Robert Connors

James "Peanut" Loydd, in white in background, called upon a gathering of citizens to pull together for the improvement of the community and work on "the 90 percent of stuff we agree on" at a unity cookout at the B Street Center on Sunday evening.

Current city commissioners Keith Thompson and Daniel Williams joined commissioner-elect Carol Gillespie, former commissioners Terrye Howell and Curtis Gibson, and former mayor Gene Fultz at the cookout at the city's B Street Center.

The officials were greeted by several dozen citizens who enjoyed a meal in the shade of spreading oak trees, cooked by Narvell Peterson and volunteers on a grill brought for that purpose. The public and all city officials had been invited to attend.

Former city commission candidate James "Peanut" Loydd addressed the crowd in a passionate appeal for unity, saying that he didn't care "what group you belong to, we agree on 90 percent of this stuff, let's not worry about the other 10 percent, let's work together."

Former mayoral candidate Tammy James introduced Loydd, telling the audience that she hoped that the event would lead to the re-birth of a formerly-active group called "Unity in the Community." Peterson was among the directors of the organization, which has been dormant in recent years. "Let's hope this is the start of what we might call "Unity 2.0," James said to applause.

The event was organized by a small group of individuals representing the Green and Gold Foundation, Unity in the Community, the B Street Center, and the Lake Wales Area Democratic Club, which provided the food.

Several in the crowd mourned the loss of what was described as a "neighborly" feeling about local issues and politics, which they said has become more divided by outside issues and political groups. The recent city commission races was marked by thousands of dollars in expenditures by "dark money" political action committees from other parts of the state in a futile effort to direct the outcome.

"We agree on what we need to do," Loydd said. "Let's do that."


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