What is the next step after Mosaic’s sudden and unexpected defeat in their bid to re-zone in DeSoto County? Some think they will appeal the decision, but also they could repeat what they did in Manatee County and sue for hundreds of millions:
A prior denial of a Mosaic mine in Manatee County resulted in litigation and the commission reversing its decision.
Prior to an election in the fall of 2008, a previous commission voted 4-3 to reject Mosaic’s application to expand its Four Corners Mine to a 2,048-acre site commonly called the Altman Tract. Mosaic filed a $617.8 million lawsuit against the county.
In January 2009, a commission with a new majority voted to reverse that denial. (Journal on line,
Mosaic is not used to losing. The bullying tactic of a $617.8 million lawsuit worked very well before, it may be used again. The people have spoken, but the giant will surely not go away quietly.
Although they have not yet mined in DeSoto, Mosaic has worked its way into the county by means of millions in donations to the community.
The following is taken from Mosaic’s website, and lists the company’s involvement with the DeSoto community:
From the relationships we’ve built through our sponsorship of staple events like the Arcadia Rodeo and DeSoto County Fair to the ongoing support we’ve provided to countless organizations like the DeSoto County Education Foundation, DeSoto County Historical Society and the DeSoto County Youth Athletic Association – everyday, we’re making a positive, significant impact in the communities where we live and operate.
Strengthening the Local Community
Who we are is about so much more than what we produce.
At Mosaic, we believe that nurturing relationships is just as important as nourishing crops. And, it’s this commitment to being a good neighbor that motivates our employees to give their time and energy in support of countless activities throughout DeSoto County.
Investing in the communities where we operate is one of Mosaic’s core values. Through programs, activities and sponsorships that focus on food and agriculture, the environment and education, Mosaic makes a difference in DeSoto County by providing support to:
The DeSoto County Chamber of Commerce
- Leadership DeSoto
DeSoto County Education Foundation
DeSoto County 4-H
All Faiths Food Bank
DeSoto County Youth Baseball
DeSoto Memorial Hospital Foundation
DeSoto Relay for Life
DeSoto-Arcadia Habitat for Humanity
DeSoto Arts and Humanities Council
Desoto County High School Boosters and Big Dogs Supporter
Arcadia Rodeo and Youth Rodeo Association
The largest single contribution in DeSoto appears to be the Mosaic Arena, to which Mosaic gave three million. The arena is in Arcadia, seats nearly 8,000 and cost nine million. During the public comments at the re-zoning hearing, reference was made to this arena.
Read the following article in its original form, published in NewsPress, March 2, 2018.
Notwithstanding the millions that Mosaic has poured into DeSoto County, the people there do not want their rural lifestyle turned upside down and the land ravaged. Their beautiful rural land and streams are worth more than ten thousand rodeo arenas. We commend the courage of the commissioners who have said “No,” and we hope they find their way to remain steadfast against the giant and the money behind it.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
Arcadia Rodeo opens $9 million arena with signature four-day event
It’s not every day a $9 million rodeo arena opens in your backyard, but that’s happening Thursday.
The Arcadia All Florida Championship Rodeo hosts its signature “Granddaddy of ’Em All” four-day event March 8-11 in the new Mosaic Arena, next to the Turner Agri-Civic Center in Arcadia — about an hour’s drive from Fort Myers.
The venue will have 7,796 seats — nearly one for every Arcadia resident — in 107,000 square feet, with a covered arena.
The site will be ready, but final touches are still being completed after delays caused by Hurricane Irma in September.
The shrillness of concrete being cut and the beeps from an aerial lift punctuated the breezy air as the smell of fresh dirt hit the nostrils on a Monday colored by blue sky and puffy white clouds, as The News-Press got an exclusive tour.
“The paint’s going to be wet, but we’re having the rodeo,” assured Katherine Marks, its executive director.
Entering the arena is like stepping into an industrial grand hall, with raw steel as far as the eye can see, while a rich clay color on the ground offers a crisp contrast.
Come Thursday, attendees will be able to witness events such as bronc riding, calf roping, barrel racing and bull riding.
A trade show at the next-door civic center from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. all four days will feature 50 vendors with wares from jewelry to clothing to sweets, with a trolley going back and forth.
There is still time to get rodeo tickets, Marks said, but don’t delay. Order online or they might be sold out. The venue’s “premium” and “premium-plus” are already booked for the weekend events.
The arena, which is owned by the rodeo association, will have what spectators might expect: bucking and roping chutes, along with concession areas and restrooms. By next spring it will also be home to the new Florida Cowboy Museum.
What attendees might not expect are a design that eliminates support beams that often block views, more than 20 giant ceiling fans to ensure a degree of coolness on hot Florida days, and a 270-panel skylight system that minimizes shadows and lighting costs in the second largest clear-span Butler Building ever constructed in the United States.
“This is just a lot more comfortable and there’s not a bad seat in the house,” Marks said. “We really wanted to make this the best it can be.”
‘It takes a village’
Arcadia and company may have taken the “it takes a village” adage to a whole new level to make this possible.
Fort Myers-based GCM Contracting Solutions spearheaded the arena’s construction, while the project used local tradespeople whenever possible, from cement to the sound system. Then there are the local volunteers who have donated thousands of hours of their time.
“It is astounding to think that a group of volunteers, especially in a little town, did all of this,” Marks said. “I’m really proud of our directors and volunteers. I don’t think many nonprofits could do this. The way the community rallied — they really supported us. And so did DeSoto County.”
The venue will host 22 equestrian events each year, but it’s not solely for rodeo. It’s booked through May, with events that include a monster truck show, dinners and a Hispanic festival.
About $6 million of the over $9 million project cost has been paid for, mostly from donations and grants as big donors joined forces with ranchers, construction companies, business leaders and townspeople. Funds are still being raised to cover the remaining $3 million or so.
The project’s next phase, expected to be complete next spring, will include the rodeo museum, retail space, a kitchen, offices and stables.
Besides the rodeo, Arcadia is best known for its citrus industry and a historic downtown filled with quaint antique stores.
But it’s those four days in March that give the community its biggest single jolt. With the new arena, that jolt expects to be bigger than ever.
The rodeo anticipates attracting more than 20,000 spectators and participants from across the state and beyond, generating a $1.6 million economic impact in those four days alone.
That’s important for a county where the median household income is $35,513 and 30 percent of the residents live below the poverty level.
Aside from Mosaic, the largest donor at $500,000 is Ben Hill Griffin III, who insisted on a ranch-style entryway.
“We wanted to assure the entrance to the rodeo had a good ranch flavor to it,” he said. “I think it will help to complement the entire atmosphere of the rodeo.”
Griffin III is perhaps best known in Lee County as the donor of land that today is home to Florida Gulf Coast University. His family has attended and participated in the rodeo since the 1950s.
“I had no idea it was going to be as impressive as it is,” he said, after visiting recently. “I think it’s going to be a fine investment for all of Central Florida and attract rodeo entrants from all over the Southeast.”
Griffin III has 25 tickets, planning to attend with family and friends.
“We’re all excited about it,” he said, and he’s definitely not alone.
“We get people here from all over,” said Marks, mentioning a group of 40 Brits who attend each year.
Overall, the largest number of people come from Sarasota County, with Lee and Charlotte counties next, followed by folks from Highlands and Manatee counties.
Rich history, bright future
James Parker, the rodeo association’s first vice president, talked of Zeb Parker, his uncle, who played a significant role in the rodeo’s founding.
According to rodeo history, it began in the late 1920s when the American Legion wanted to raise money to help pay for a new building. A local businessman asked prominent rancher Zeb Parker if a rodeo could be held to raise money. Parker agreed it could be done, and offered to furnish the stock for free.
“He put in the first rodeo in Limestone,” he said, referencing a tiny community in Hardee County, 12 miles northwest of Arcadia. “We go back a long ways. It was a different rodeo competition. No PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) back then. Just local.”
Later, Ed Welles kept the rodeo going in the community from 1938 until 1950, when he died. The rodeo kept going at Welles’ arena until 1959 when it was moved to the location it has called home until now.
That arena was battered during Hurricane Charley in 2004 and became mired in disrepair during the economic downturn. The former location sits along U.S. 17, less than three miles southwest of the new arena.
The old, open-to-the-elements arena has 6,500 seats, and many of the sight lines are poor.
The new arena is a perfect oval, Marks said, whereas the old one was “cattywampus,” or less than perfect.
There is a little of the old arena in the new one, though, with the bottom layer of dirt providing a solid foundation for the fresher mix of two-thirds clay and one-third sand that comes from Sebring. There are also chutes and signage from the old place.
That dirt is important since the rodeo wants to win another PRCA Best Footing Award for the Southeastern Circuit.
James Parker’s earliest rodeo memory is riding his horse to Welles’ arena in the 1950s. To be sure, though, the rodeo has come a long way over the years, with the new venue something to behold.
“This is the Cadillac,” he said of the new home, although the chairman of the building committee may be just a little biased. “We’ve been talking about this for 20 years. People want more comfort, a covered area. It’s cool. You can have more events if it’s closed too.”
While the rodeo revels in its heritage, it also has an eye on the future.
It is the largest fundraiser for the local Boy Scouts and the DeSoto County High School band, with the Boy Scouts handling parking and the band in charge of cooking and selling concessions. Each receives half of the net proceeds.
With 120 children, it also boasts the second largest youth rodeo organization in the state. Along with a new arena, Marks thinks the future is bright: “This place is going to be here forever.”
Don Hall, president of the rodeo association, feels excited the journey has gotten them to this point.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “There was a lot of effort put into it. There’s nothing stronger than the hearts of the volunteers. Now we’re reaping the fruits of our labor, this beautiful new facility. I’d be surprised if there’s a better one in the state.”
People have been working weekends and nights to finish it, Hall said, but “we’re gettin’ ’er done.”
“We really had to kick on the afterburners to get this thing prepared,” he said.
What’s Hall most proud of? “The way that our committee and the community came together in a common goal and worked together to get this done. None of us realized how difficult this was going to be. Without the community support, we wouldn’t have made it.”
Connect with this reporter: email [email protected] and follow on Twitter @caseylo
If you go
- What: Arcadia All Florida Championship Rodeo
- Where: Mosaic Arena, 2450 NE Roan St., Arcadia (next to Turner Agri-Civic Center)
- When: Thursday, March 8 – Sunday, March 11; gates open at 11 a.m.; shootout at 1 p.m.; mutton bustin’ at 1:30 p.m.; rodeo starts at 2 p.m. and ends about 4:30 p.m.
- Cost: Premium plus seats are $31; premium seats are $26; general admission is $19 in advance
- Online: Go to arcadiarodeo.com to buy tickets