Reedy Creek’s renamed board meets for 1st time since being appointed by Gov. DeSantis

Board members say department needs more staff, resources

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – It was an emotional start during the first meeting of the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District—the newly renamed Reedy Creek Improvement District—Board of Supervisors on Wednesday.

Board members, appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in late February, heard from several firefighters from the Reedy Creek Fire Department who took the podium to express their concerns.

The widow of fallen Reedy Creek Fire Lt. James Dorminy told the new board she is fighting for justice after her husband died in 2017.

“My husband served for 18 years. His last shift, he went and trained with men who wanted to join,” Leslie Dorminy said.

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Bridget Ziegler, one of the newly-appointed board members, said Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is hoping to work with the Department of Justice to find a resolution and bring justice for Dorminy.

“It was a very moving moment and as a new board, I think that it’s one of the most important things that we dive in,” Ziegler said. “I have to applaud (Leslie Dorminy’s) incredible resilience and strength to get up here and speak. As a wife, it still chokes me up even just thinking about it. I can’t imagine having to deal with that so as a board member and all of us collectively made it very clear that that’s going to be a priority.”

A firefighter also told board members the department is in need of more staff, rescue training and equipment.

“It’s safe to say Disney has grown. We have very outdated manuals and procedures. We haven’t been able to update that since 2005,” he said.

Board members discussed the district’s management report and went over its meeting schedule for 2023. The board also agreed to vote on whether or not to bring in a special counsel.

This comes after DeSantis signed HB-9B into law, giving him full authority to appoint the district’s five-member Board of Supervisors and change the name to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

The Disney district takeover was initiated last year when Disney publicly opposed the Parental Rights in Education bill, dubbed by critics the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bars instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade and lessons deemed not age-appropriate. DeSantis moved to penalize the company, directing lawmakers to dissolve the district during a special legislative session in April, beginning a closely watched restructuring process.

Walt Disney World Chairman of Parks released a statement Wednesday following the meeting.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District created and maintained the highest standards for the infrastructure for the Walt Disney World Resort. We are hopeful the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District will continue this excellent work and the new board will share our commitment to helping the local economy continue to flourish and support the ongoing growth of the resort and Florida’s tourism industry.

Josh D’Amaro, Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences & Products

The new board is set to meet again on April 12.

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About the Author:

Ezzy Castro is a multimedia journalist on News 6's morning team who has a passion for telling the stories of the people in the Central Florida community. Ezzy worked at WFOR CBS4 in South Florida and KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, where she covered Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Being from Miami, Ezzy loves Cuban coffee and croquetas!