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October 3, 2013

Season of song reminds group of humble start

When the Villagers of John Knox Village in Pompano Beach first performed, the men’s chorus group didn’t have an official name and it was only suppose to be a one-time gig.

But the amount of joy the group experienced from that single performance prompted them to make the effort a full-blown endeavor. The chorus is made up of John Knox Village residents that perform at the Village and venues around Broward County.

“There were no auditions, we just got together and I arbitrarily estimated what they could sing in terms of range and that's how we got started,” said Ron Davis, musical director of the Villagers.

Davis has the most musical expertise in the group after serving for 19 years as the supervisor of music for Broward County Schools as well as the choir director for six years at Fort Lauderdale High School.

The men's chorus group formed shortly after Davis was in the hospital in 2007 and received a phone call from several residents from John Knox Village that sang him ‘Happy Birthday.’ After reflecting on how well the men sang and what it meant to him, Davis decided to form a music group and with that, the Villagers were born. Since its humble beginnings, the group now consists of 55 members from ages 62 to 99.

“Needless to say, I don't have any discipline problems with my current choral group,” Davis said. “They do a great job.

John Knox Village resident Charles Johnson is one of the group’s original members and said he’s learned a great deal about performing from Davis and that he has more appreciation for what it takes to prepare.

About 75 percent of the men in the group have no prior organized chorus experience as well not being able to read music. However, that doesn't stop them from being in high demand.

The group routinely performs at John Knox Village's monthly birthday celebrations, the Veterans Day Parade, John Knox Village's Holiday Parade and at off-site performances from September through May. The next goal is to perform the 'National Anthem' at an upcoming Miami Marlins or Miami Dolphins game.

Past performances have been so popular, that tickets to the inaugural 'Knox Rocks' concert series sold out within hours of going on sale and John Knox Village had to add a second show for the second year.

“Most of them don’t have a lot of musical experience, but they work well together,” Davis said.

For more information, call 954-784-4726.

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New website part of greater tourism efforts

Looking to increase the visibility of the city as an ideal tourist destination, the Pompano Beach Chamber of Commerce recently launched a new website to help connect visitors and residents to local businesses and activities.

In its creation, the Pompano Beach Chamber of Commerce partnered with South Florida Chamber Maps to launch PompanoFun.com. The site can introduce visitors to more than 100 local businesses including boating and fishing trips, professional services and even events happening around the area.

“It provides a comprehensive site that offers detailed information about the businesses in Pompano especially the restaurants, hotels and things to do like scuba diving, jet skiing and boating,” said Jeff Levine, president of South Florida Chamber Maps.

The new website is also part of the Chamber’s effort to use a variety of tools to help expand the city’s reach outside of South Florida. Additionally, the Chamber recently launched a printed Visitor’s Guide.

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POmpano to host A1A improvement meetings

If Broward County wants to keep State Road A1A a scenic highway, first given the designation in 2009, an update to its corridor management plan is required every five years.

This year, the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization is asking county residents for help and will be hosting a series of meetings to gather public opinion on how to improve the corridor as well as present preliminary plans.

“A1A is very important to us as an intrinsic resource and as an economic and tourist development tool,” said Priscila J. Clawges, transportation planner for the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization. “We want to keep the corridor as beautiful as possible and very attractive to outside visitors and our residents.”

Since A1A is already designated a scenic highway, Clawges said the roadway is promoted around Florida as a tourist destination in addition to being able to receive state and grant funding for improvements. It is also the only scenic highway designated corridor in the tri-county area, which makes it unique, she added.

“For us in Broward County, our designation is a treasure,” she said. “We’re showcased all around Florida as a scenic highway attraction to help bring tourists in.”

The public meetings will take from 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Pompano Beach Marriott, 1200 N. Ocean Blvd. and Oct. 15 at the Hollywood Beach Marriott, 2501 N. Ocean Drive in Hollywood.

During the meetings, which serve as public outreach to gather feedback, the management team will also present an overview of the corridor with some coastal cities also presenting plans for the corridor. Typical improvement projects include pedestrian-friendly upgrades and added bicycle lanes.

“We definitely want to hear from the public and what they want to see on the scenic highway in Broward,” Clawges said.

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May 29, 2013

Chamber still focused on driving new business

Over the next month, six new businesses will open in Pompano Beach as the Chamber of Commerce continues to work on redevelopment in the city.
“We're certainly seeing people feel more confident and they're starting to understand how beneficial it can be to work with organizations like the chamber that help get the word on their business,” said Ric Green, president of the Pompano Beach Chamber of Commerce. “In this day and age with Internet marketing and social media, one of the best things that the Chamber does is communicate with its members.”
The Pompano Chamber has recently celebrated the opening of Studio 410, a photography studio in Deerfield Beach; Oar House, a dockside restaurant and paddle board rental facility in Pompano Beach; PNC Bank; Your Pie, a new custom-made-to-order pizza place in Lighthouse Point; Fred Hunter's Funeral Home; and Oxygen Fitness, a women's fitness center.

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Church pews make journey to Grenada

Roughly 54 large pews from a local church are making a long trip to help another congregation in Grenada, thanks in part to Food For The Poor.
Christ Church United Methodist Church Pastor Fawn Mikel wanted to stretch the church's reach beyond local borders after undergoing renovations to its Pompano campus.
A church member who also has an affiliation with Food For The Poor helped make the connection to the church in Grenada.
“We had decided that this campus should be a ministry center used for many things and we don’t use the sanctuary,” Mikel said. “We talked about what would need to be done for others to use it and it was a lot. It is such an exciting thing to see things that had been here for so many years continue to be used as intended and not stored away or thrown out.”
“Serendipitously we had received a plea from Grenada for more pews, and these are huge pews that fit 15-20 people,” said Angel Aloma, executive director of Food For The Poor. “We have no real relation, [just] the go-between. The church in Grenada let us know their need and it happened to work out. We put donor together with recipient and both are very happy.”

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