Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Alimacani Has Special Celebration for Holland

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Alimacani Has Special Celebration for Holland

Article excerpt

Byline: G. Lee Brooker, Shorelines correspondent

Jerry Holland was in the hot seat again Friday.

But this time, instead of being criticized by constituents over a redistricting controversy, the Jacksonville city councilman was surrounded by hundreds of smiling Alimacani Elementary School children dressed in red, white and blue.

He was being honored for his work as the Beaches area's councilman.

"It is really overwhelming," Holland said. "I have never been a part of something so gratifying."

The school and some residents from San Pablo Road gathered to celebrate the first Councilman Jerry Holland Appreciation Day. Holland was honored for his participation in securing funds for the newly completed Alimacani Elementary School Park.

Holland smiled broadly as he sat on the edge of the chair, watching Jill Grens' second-grade class -- some dressed as trees, others carrying a park bench made of paper -- shout and dance. Students, parents and school business partners joined in a hand-clapping cheer, referring to Holland as "our man."

Jan Tipton, the school's physical education specialist, initiated the park project about two years ago. It includes several park benches, trash receptacles, trees, picnic tables and a gazebo. Area residents were invited to the celebration so Holland could see how much his support has meant to them, she said.

"With a park like this, he's not just helping the school, he's helping a whole community," Tipton said. "He's helping families by giving them somewhere to go."

Immediately after the school's Friday flag-raising, a special reception for Holland was held under the 30-by-60-foot concrete floor gazebo. The pavilion was finished in July, one of the last items to be installed.

This year's redistricting of Jacksonville's 14 council districts almost resulted in the Beaches being split up, and many residents criticized Holland, saying he wasn't aggressive enough in trying to keep the district intact.

After that, Friday's reception was encouraging, Holland said. …

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