The news is frozen as of June 11. That's the last day Don Prendergast and his wife, Bethany, could operate the Orange County Internet News Service, also known as OCINS.com.
Don, a hero wounded in the Korean War, lost his battle with cancer on Monday. The community lost a steadfast champion, who kept his mind active in retirement by becoming a self-appointed member of the new internet media.
At its height, OCINS.com was drawing 40,000 hits a month from all over the world. Where else could one watch unfiltered and in-depth interviews of county commissioners, Sheriff Demings, Harris Rosen, and others?
During the 1990's, as development pressures ramped up in the Dr. Phillips area, residents were often caught unaware of the latest proposed land use change. As internet pioneers, Don and Bethany sought to inform Dr. Phillips residents by posting community meeting notices, which most citizens would never learn of otherwise.
Thanks to Don and Bethany's community work, Turkey Lake and Sand Lake Roads would never host the Dolly Parton Dixie stampede, now a vacant big box further down I-4 after a succeeding business, a flea market, failed. Thanks to Don and Bethany, we never had the Dr. Phillips Flea Market.
When I ran for office as a political newcomer, Don and Bethany couldn't have been kinder to me. They gave me invaluable experience in front of their video camera and I became a much better candidate as a result. Others, who managed to win office, owe a similar debt of gratitude to Don and Bethany.
Those attending last night's Dr. Phillips Advisory Committee meeting we're saddened to learn of the news and asked me about a memorial service. I'm told Don didn't want one. He didn't want people to make a fuss over him. Well, I just did anyway and I can hear Don's voice now, "Rick, no, no, no."
I'll miss Don's kindness, his political convictions, and his dedication to the community. He and Bethany were inseparable. Don is irreplaceable. My heartfelt sympathies to Bethany and to their daughter.