Daytona Beach, FL – The anticipated opening of the First Step Shelter is set for October 1. Some Board members, including Chase Tramont, don’t think that is going to happen. He said that he’s walked through the building in the last week and even though he’s not a contractor, he doesn’t see the building being operational in less than six weeks time. Even if the building is ready, staff that hasn’t even been hired yet will have to be trained in order for the programs to be run properly.
Another major issue is the creation of a safe zone. A proposal from Catholic Charities of Florida to spend $425,000 on an outdoor holding area for people who don’t want to or can’t be a part of the shelter program was quickly rejected by the Board. Tramont said Board members did not reject the concept of a safe zone, they rejected spending $425,000 annually to run it.
A decision was made to make Jane Bloom, who has been serving as volunteer interim director, a paid employee. While all members agreed that Bloom has been going above and beyond anything a volunteer would be expected to do, Tramont said the salary decided upon of $5,500 monthly was a lot more than the stipend he was thinking of. The vote to approve that salary was 4-3 with Tramont, Dwight Selby and Joe Forte dissenting. Tramont went on to say that it’s nothing personal and that he think’s Bloom does a terrific job. What he had issues with are how it was done and the dollar amount being suggested. Also, Bloom will not be the interim director when the new executive director takes over, hopefully in October.
Speaking of a new executive director, Bloom and another volunteer have been going through the applications received for the position and are now working to come up with a shortlist of six viable candidates to pass on to the Board. A decision was made by the Board to hold one-on-one interviews with the candidates to keep the process out of the public eye. Tramont said while he’s amenable to the Board’s decision, he’d like to see the candidates in the public arena and how they react under the stress.
Other issues discussed include adding $5,000 to a $25,000 donation to purchase a new 12-person van for the Shelter’s use. Tramont said if they don’t have washers and dryers installed at the Shelter by the time it’s scheduled to open, the Board will pay 59 cents per pound for the jail to do laundry. Another issue is the Shelter kitchen. The city of Daytona Beach will cover up to $400,000 for kitchen equipment. Tramont says he hopes they won’t have to spend that much and are looking to purchase good used, commercial kitchen equipment.