Celebrating The Easter Season And Welcoming Spring – Florida Style! – East Lee Chamber Celebrates Its 62nd Year And Gala!

By: Mike Welch

The East Lee County Chamber (formerly the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber) celebrated a well attended gala at the Plantation Golf & Country Club with its reflection on servant leaders who make our community what it is today.  From teachers, law enforcement, fire and public safety to healthcare, the awards given to individuals and groups reflect the positive and the constructive in our communities.  It describes these lives of service as vocation – a calling.  Business leaders and elected officials were on hand to congratulate and honor the “unheralded heroes” in our communities who teach and care for our children, protect us from harm and treat and nurse us.  

The evening was also a time to say thank you and to let Lee Superintendent Dr. Christopher Bernier know that we were so fortunate to have him come our way just before the Hurricane Ian Disaster.  A talented and enthusiastic leader who rose to the disaster to put back together our school system, to assist the homeless faculty, staff, and citizens and to work feverishly to bring some sort of normalcy to our young students.  And he and his team did it – so much so that it became a national example of servant leadership at its best by unifying and bringing together our people in common service.

Last election saw that the voters of Lee County have opted to begin electing our Superintendent of schools beginning in November of 2024, Dr. Bernier has chosen not to run for the office, and he will leave us later this year.  In an emotional presentation the East Lee County Chamber Board of Directors awarded Christopher Bernier with the “Pride of Florida Award”  Dr. Bernier responded at the presentation:  ‘There’s a reason why police officers, fire fighters, health care and education professionals do what they do.  They provide a service.  There is a reason why educators do what they do.  They do it because they joined an organization when they wanted purpose and impact.  Tonight, you reminded them they have that.”

As we say farewell, no doubt Christopher Bernier will open a new chapter of servant leadership and we will remember his leadership.  Good luck!

Progress!  With the leadership of School Board Member Armor Persons who is our district board member and with the sponsorship of Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka, Senator Jonathan Martin, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and Senate President – Designate Ben Albritton $2.1millions has been placed in the budget passed by the Legislature for the planning and design of the East Lee Technical College project for 2024/2025.  This appropriation is now subject to approval by the Governor. This has been a long-standing effort by successive state, county, and business leaders in Eastern Lee County.  A new technical college will serve eastern Lee and no doubt eastern Hendry and Collier Counties.  Site will now be determined.  Well done!

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