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Board Meeting

3:00 pm

December 19, 2023 Meeting Agenda 

Highlands Soil and Water Conservation District

4505 George Blvd.

Sebring, FL 33875-5837


Board of Supervisors Meeting

Tuesday, December 19, 2023 – 3:00 p.m. 

HSWCD Conference Room - Bert Harris Agriculture Center


I. Call To Order, Welcome & Introductions – Chairman Causey

II. Approval of Agenda – Chairman Causey

III. Approval of Meeting Minutes

a. Board of Supervisors Meeting Minutes – Nov. 21, 2023

b. Board of Supervisors Special Meeting Minutes – Nov. 29, 2023

IV. Financial Activity

a. Overview & Approval of Financial Reports -  November 2023 – S. Bishop 

V. Agency Partner Updates

a. FDACS – S. Bishop & K. Nickerson

b. MIL – S. Bishop /C. Harmon

c. NRCS Report – C. Torres

d. HCBCC - Scott Kirouac

VI. Old Business

a. Proposed Legislation – S. Bishop

VII. New Business  

a. FDACS – OAWP Leadership – S. Bishop

b. Audit – S. Bishop

VIII. Executive Director’s Report

IX. Citizens Not on the Agenda

X. Supervisor Comments


Next Board Meeting:

Tuesday, January 16, 2024  – 3:00 p.m

Citizens Not on the Agenda requesting to speak will be limited to 3 minutes unless additional time is allotted by the Chairman.  The Chairman reserves the right to remove anyone from the meeting who is unruly or displays disruptive behavior.

December 19, 2023 Meeting Minutes 

Highlands Soil & Water Conservation District - Board of Supervisors

Meeting Minutes

Meeting Date: 12/19/2023

Meeting Location: HSWCD Conf. Room – Bert Harris Center

FINAL – Approved 1/16/2024

Recorded by:  Susie Bishop


Meeting Scheduled Start: 3:00 P.M.   Call to Order: @ 3:00 P.M.

Public Meeting Announcement Read by Chairman


I. Welcome & Introductions

Dr. John Causey, HSWCD, Chairman

Steve Smith, HSWCD, Vice Chair

Doug Deen, HSWCD, Secretary/Treasurer

Sara Sebring, HSWCD, Supervisor

T.J. Wohl, HSWCD, Supervisor

Susie Bishop, HSWCD, Executive Director

Kayla Nickerson, HSWCD, BMP Technician

Lauren Ahrens, HSWCD, BMP Technician

Andrew Adams, FDACS, ES 1

Chad Harmon, HSWCD, MIL Manager

Wade Smith, HSWCD, MIL Technician


II. Approval of Agenda – Motion to approve agenda as presented with added item IV.B – Budget Amendments (Wohl/Sebring). Unanimous Approval.          


III. Approval of Meeting Minutes- November 21, 2023 - Motion made to approve the minutes as presented (Wohl/Sebring).  Unanimous Approval. November 29, 2023 – Motion made to approve as presented (Sebring/Wohl). Unanimous Approval.


IV. Financial Activity

Overview & Approval of Financial Reports- November 2023: Review of bank statements & financial reports. Motion to approve the financial reports as presented (Wohl/Sebring). Unanimous Approval.

Budget Amendments for General Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23 – Bishop

provided details of the year ending journal entries requiring the budget amendments be approved. Motion to approve Budget Amendments # 3 as presented (Wohl/Sebring). Unanimous Approval.


V. Agency Partner Updates 

a. FDACS – Bishop provided updates on vision and goals of the new Director of OAWP, West Gregory. A major goal is to increase technology across the board of OAWP.

The position of Bureau Chief of Field Services held by Bonnie Wolff- Peleaz, who resigned earlier this month, will be filled by Steve Smith. Commissioner Simpson has tasked the OAWP to update ALL of the BMP Manuals in 2024. Bishop explained teams in the department are being formed and assigned to a specific manual and she encouraged industry to get involved. No Action

MIL – Bishop & Harmon updated the board on the status of the SOP. The MILs statewide are working to re-write the MIL Handbook into a new SOP to assist the OAWP with this task. The Handbook would no longer be used. It will be easier to amend an SOP than to the SOW in a contract. No response from the MIL Project & Contract Managers to date regarding this proposed plan. The MIL has completed evaluations in excess of their required number per contract. No Action.

NRCS – No Report.

HCBCC – No Report.


VI. Old Business

a. Proposed Legislation – Bishop reported Representative Truenow’s rumored Bill has not been formally filed. A House Bill, # 7013, relating to Special Districts could possibly add the Soil & Water Conservation District as a section. Causey shared with the Board his directive to the Executive Director of the Heartland Ag Coalition, Ray Royce, to draft a letter to submit to Representative Truenow to not file any Bills to change anything with SWCDs in the State and opposition to regionalizing Districts. Bishop asked for direction from the Board as to how she will testify in Tallahassee should a Bill be filed, her plans were to support the regionalization vs. abolishment. Bishop is supportive of regional Districts as the best solution to save successful Districts and combine the weak Districts with a leading District so the services provided can continue and be stronger statewide. She shared words of Commissioner Simpson in a conversation she had with him… the strong Districts need to step up and lead the cause to save Districts which could well mean regionalizing because there are a whole lot of them who do not function well. As shared last month Bishop has been working to develop re-organization of Districts to Regional in an effort to be proactive and prepared for the Bill being filed and passed. Once a Bill is filed Bishop will distribute to Board for Supervisor review. No Action. 


VII. New Business

a. FDACS – OAWP Leadership – Bishop discussed this under Agenda Item V.a. No Action.

b. Audit – Bishop reported the Audit could start as early as February.  No Action.


VIII. Executive Director’s Report - Items presented:          

Website – K. Nickerson has worked hard with new website company to completely rebuild the site.  Supervisors asked to update their bios.

The Annual Report is in draft and will be presented at the January meeting.

The District records in storage will be sorted and disposed of during the week after Christmas.

The transition of leadership of Ag Venture is going well.

The community garden is flourishing with gardens at full capacity.

Bishop will teach Leadership Highlands Ag Day with Ray Royce on January 18.

IX. Citizens Not on the Agenda – None

X. Supervisor Comments             

Smith –    None

Deen -     None

Sebring – None

Wohl – None

Causey – None


Meeting Adjourned at 3:48 p.m.



Post Meeting Action Items


Action: Monitor Legislation regarding Florida SWCD Reorganization          

Assigned to: S. Bishop   

Deadline: Spring 2024


Action: Monitor and Manage SOW and SOP for the MIL Contract & Project Manager Concerns        

Assigned to: S. Bishop & C. Harmon  

Deadline: Jan. 2024


Action: Discard old SWCD Records. Organize permanent SWCD Records   

Assigned to: All Staff  

Deadline: January 2024


Action: Rebuild of Website   

Assigned to: K. Nickerson & S. Bishop

Deadline: January 2024


Action: Complete FY 2022-2023 Annual Report       

Assigned to: S. Bishop & K. Nickerson           

Deadline: January 2024


Action: Assist with Transition to Staff for Ag Venture Program        

Assigned to: S. Bishop

Deadline: January 2024


Action: Monitor updates to the BMP Manuals         

Assigned to: S. Bishop

Deadline: Year 2024


Action: Manage DEP Stolen Saddle Ranch Contract

Assigned to: S. Bishop

Deadline: Ongoing