Members of the board of the Belleair Civic Association include, from left, President Petey Henning, former Past President Sandy Tuten and Vice President Roz White.
BELLEAIR – The new president of the Belleair Civic Association wonders if she is the right person to be talking about her organization. Patricia “Petey” Henning said she doesn’t think she’s been on the board long enough to speak for it.
“Surely I must be acting under false pretenses,” she said, laughing.
The fact is there is probably no one better to be speaking on behalf of the association. Henning moved to Belleair with her family in 1972 and has served on the boards of a variety of community organizations. As much as anyone she has an intimate knowledge of her community.
As president of the 242 member strong Civic Association, her job is to steer the group through the activities that define Belleair every year. The association is the prime source of funds for the Halloween party in October, the holiday tree lighting in December and the Springfest in March. It is also involved in the Holiday Concert and the Holiday Parade, the first of which was held last year.
“I feel sure we will continue the activities we are doing now,” she said. “It is needed as we continue to grow and share the growth and hopefully it will be with people who feel some commitment of service to their community.”
Getting people involved does not seem to be a problem in Belleair or for the Civic Association.
“We have 15 members on our board now,” said Henning. “That is the maximum allowed by our bylaws. However I’m hoping we can develop subcommittees so even more people can get involved and help.”
She noted specifically the young mothers who help now at the Community Center.
“Perhaps we can get them on board with us so they can help us with events like the Halloween party,” she said.
It costs $15 to become a member of the Civic Association. The money goes to supporting the activities sponsored by the group. In addition each homeowner gets a copy of the Belleair Directory, which is currently being developed. “This is the 50th edition of the directory,” Henning said. “Back when it began it cost 50 cents and was just a typewritten list. Now we have color ads, it will be glamorous.” Producing the directory she said is the biggest effort of the association.
“There is the compiling, proof reading, soliciting advertisers and so on. It is a big task,” she said.
Outgoing President Bobby Yevich said he is encouraged by the growth of the association.
“I like the direction we are moving,” he said. “Last year was a really nice year for me with the concert, the parade, the Halloween party and Springfest.”
Yevich, like all association presidents, served a year at the helm but remains on the board. He, too, feels supporting the recreation department is the way to go for the association. “The rec people who are there now are the right people to bring the programs and activities to the next level,” he said.
Henning said without the support of the Civic Association the Recreation Department might not be able to continue with certain programs.
“Some taxpayers don’t always want their money going to the rec center so we fill that void and support the activities there,” she said. “Many older people aren’t interested in the rec center because it doesn’t impact them. But the children need the opportunities and the chance to mingle with others.”
When asked why there is a need for a Civic Association and why the Town Commission can’t do the same job, Henning is quick to answer.
“The commission is responsible for the legal things in town,” she said. “They make the laws and enforce the laws and provide necessities and things like that. That is their major obligation. We support the activities the town needs.”
Besides continuing to support ongoing activities, Henning hopes during her presidency she can make an impact in bringing more people into becoming part of the community. She refers specifically to residents of the RPD, the enclave of large condominium buildings inside the guarded gate around the Belleview Biltmore Hotel.
“I wonder if many of those people actually feel part of the bigger community,” she said. “Many of them are seasonal residents so maybe they don’t have the same feeling for the history of this town. We are reaching out to them to join us and become closer to the community.”
In fact the vice president of the association is Roz White, an RPD resident.
“She is a great addition to our group,” said Henning.
Residents of Belleair, whether they are members of the Civic Association or not, are asked to register to be included in the upcoming directory. Residents are asked to supply their names, addresses and phone numbers by emailing the association. It must be done by Oct. 5. Anyone who wishes to join the association can do so also by email. The address is: email@example.com.
Henning said the Civic Association is important because it unites the people in the community. It is a community she loves: “I live two blocks from the water and I can walk by it every day. The beauty is breathtaking. I have oak trees on my property. I’m fortunate and I’m blessed to be living here.”