Hidden away in a quiet, beautiful residential neighborhood, 903 Mills Market is a cafe with plenty to offer.

The cafe known as 903 Mills Market is in a quiet residential neighborhood. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

ORLANDO – The sign out in front of the building appears to state the address, but it’s really a lot more than that.
903 Mills is the address, all right, but this building at the corner of Mills Avenue and Gore Street is not just another quiet home. One of the few remaining businesses in a now largely residential area close to Delaney Park, 903 Mills Market, as the full title goes, is a place so fully integrated into this charming neighborhood that it serves a unique purpose.
Yes, you can get plenty of fine meals there, for breakfast, lunch or dinner. But more importantly, it’s the neighborhood hang out. If you don’t find yourself seated at one of their outdoor tables, enjoying a beer or a veggie burger, chances are you rarely if ever leave your home.
So what is it?
Pass by 903 Mills Market, and it looks like a house … except for the parking spaces out front, or the metal tables off to the side. It also has the look of the corner variety store of decades past, which is actually pretty appropriate, but it continues to serve that function.
If you walk into this marketplace, chances are you might say one of several things, like:
“Wow, look at that amazing beer selection.”
“Check out all those unique bottles of wine they sell.”
“This is a really interesting menu.”

903 Mills Market, first of all, is in one of Orlando’s great up-and-coming neighborhoods, right in the middle of Mills Avenue between South Street and Briarcliff, and beautifully surrounded by picturesque lakes. If you start at 903 Mills Market and begin walking in one of several different directions, you’ll soon come upon Lake Davis, Lake Emerald and Lake Weldona, all within minutes of one another.
It’s a neighborhood filled with beautiful older homes, and lots of pedestrian foot traffic in the evenings, of joggers circling the lake multiple times, and people out walking their dogs along the shore. It’s a place to feed ducks by the water, or to see what a house right across the street from a lakes looks like (hint: they’re not tiny bungalows, let’s put it that way.)
903 Mills Market is the ideal place to stop at after one of those long walks, to enjoy one of their specialized beers – sometimes I think they give Total Wine & More a run for their money as far as selection goes – or a tasty meal like the Grateful Bread sandwich.
This convenience store café has everything you might need: drinks, sandwiches, salads, soups and coffee, pastries and muffins, plus a wonderfully friendly staff and relaxing atmosphere that makes you want to keep coming back. You also might want to go there just to check out their huge wine rack, which takes up an entire wall.
There are only three tables inside, but unless it’s raining heavily or temperatures have dipped down into the 30s, I’d recommend you move outside anyway, because this is a truly rewarding place for outdoor seating. It’s a quiet area, and relaxing outside while you wait for the staff to bring out your meal is one of life’s great small pleasures.

903 Mills Market has an amazing collection of imported wines. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

Remember I mentioned this is a good location for people who like to walk their dogs? By the same token, 903 Mills Market is happy to accommodate yoy if you bring your pet along. The outdoor seating area is dog friendly and the café provides water bowls for your pup to drink out of after those long walks on hot days.
The café is open Mondays through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. If there’s one downside to the place, it’s that parking is a challenge – there are some spaces out front and a few in the back, but they fill up fast at lunch time, and there’s no street parking on either Mills or Gore, so you may need to find a nearby side street to park on, and then walk a few blocks to the café – although considering this neighborhood’s considerable charms, that’s not such a bad idea.
Call 407-898-4392 to learn more. And take advantage of 903 Mills Market’s unique combination of attractive location, beautiful nearby lakes, and delicious sandwiches to make this your regular lunch or breakfast spot … even if the locals may end up wishing their could keep this little gem all to themselves.

Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.

To raise awareness about suicide prevention, Orange County’s law enforcement hosts a Motorcycle Card Run.

Getting sentenced to jail can be scary, and leave some people feeling suicidal. The Crisis Intervention Team is specifically trained to deal with those individuals. (Photo by Steve Schwartz).

ORLANDO – As a crisis intervention coordinator for Orange County Corrections, Lt. Deanne Adams has seen people brought into the jail after being given a prison sentence who are shocked, depressed – and suicidal.
“I’ve worked within corrections for 29 years now, and we have a really good system in place where we screen everyone who comes in for depression and mental illness and suicidal behavior, and we always have to be one guard for that,” Adams said. “We just have to follow our policies and procedures and communicate as much as we can.”
But no one at the jail was prepared last summer when one of their own colleagues took her life. No one expected it, or had seen any warning signs, she said. And the suicide victim’s colleagues were left to helplessly wonder why it happened.
“When something like this happens, it really devastates people,” Adams said. “Within our corrections family, it devastated us. But this happens everywhere, whether you’re a high school student or someone in law enforcement or corrections. It happens every single day, and we need to talk about this and raise awareness about it.”
Adams is a Crisis team Intervention Officer, a team of law enforcement and corrections officers trained to work with people who suffer from mental illness and depression.
“We learn about the different types of mental illnesses,” she said, “and I’ve been involved in this training for 10 years now.”
Adams is hoping to heighten awareness about this very emotional issue – and to help raise funds for organizations that assist the mentally ill or that work to help people who are suicidal – through the 1st Annual CIT Motorcycle Card Run, which will be held on Saturday. The event is actually called Jody’s Run, named after the corrections officer who committed suicide this past summer. This kind of tragedy is far more common than a lot of people realize, Adams said.
“Every time we do a CIT class, which is a 40 hour class, someone will come up to me to tell about someone they know who suffers from mental illness,” she said. “It’s something we just don’t talk about. I guess people think it’s shameful. Well, let’s stop hiding from it and let’s start talking it.”
That’s why she helped organize Jody’s Run, to serve that purpose.
“The community is welcome to attend for a $10 donation,” Adams said. “We’re just trying to make it a party and honor people’s lives and bring awareness.”
The cost to enter is $25 per bike, and $10 per passenger, and $10 per person for non-riders. The First Bike Out is at 10:30 a.m., and the Last Bike Out at 11 a.m. At the conclusion of the run, everyone is invited to attend the After Party starting at 1 p.m. at the Route 46 Entertainment Complex in Sanford. There will be live music, a barbeque, raffle prizes and a silent auction. The Matt Shenk Band and Jills Cashbox Band will perform.
Bikes depart from Southern Honda, 16123 W. State Road 50 in Oakland, with the first stop at JB Boondocks in Howie in the Hills; second stop, The Shamrock on State Road 441 in Leesburg; third stop, Rock Springs Bar & Grill in Apopka; and the final stop at the Route 46 Entertainment Complex, 4316 W. State Road 46, Sanford.
Money raised from this event will benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness–Greater Orlando Affiliate, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The Crisis Intervention Team is a group of specially trained Central Florida law enforcement officers who deal with mentally ill individuals. The team members are trained to deal with complex situations and direct the person into treatment rather of jail.

The Crisis Intervention Team is sponsoring the 1st Annual CIT Motorcycle Card Run, which will be held on Saturday.

CIT is made up of members from various local police departments, including the ones in
Apopka, Eatonville, Edgewood, Maitland, Oakland, Ocoee, Orlando, Winter Garden, Winter Park and Windermere, as well as staff from Orange County Corrections, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, and the University of Central Florida Police Department. It will be a nearly all day event.
“This is the first motorcycle run I’ve ever put on,” Adams said. “I’m a little nervous.”
But with meteorologists forecasting a cold spell that will knock temperatures from the low 90s to the low 80s, Adams is hopeful the weather will be ideal for an outdoor event like this one.
“I’m really excited about that,” she said. “We have a lot of people that are riding. Today, for instance, I’ve had five people call me and they told me they saw the information about it.”
Sadly, all too many of them are asking for more information about this event because their own lives have been tragically impacted by the suicide of a loved one, Adams said.
“A mother called me and told me her 17-year-old daughter committed suicide last year,” she said. “Not 10 minutes ago, a man called me and told me about his wife’s suicide. Sadly, when I got involved with this about 10 years ago, I was so passionate for these two causes, I become a board member for both of these organizations. I also work with the homeless who are mentally ill. You reach out to families and you work with people, but when it happens to you, it cuts so deep, and it changes you.”
This event, she said, is done not only in tribute to her former colleague Jody, but also to anyone whose life has been touched by suicide or mental illness in some way.
“This year we wanted to reach different levels of people, people who have lost neighbors and friends, to let people know there is education and changes out there, and to break down the walls of this stigma,” she said. “That is what this is all about. We’re all coming together to bring awareness and honor the people that we love who have lost their lives. We’re all so very passionate about this.”
Oct. 1 is the first day of Mental Health Awareness Week. Adams said this issue should no longer be one that people are afraid or embarrassed to talk about.
“I was over at the Wekiva State Park last weekend, and a band was getting ready to close down, and I asked if they could make an announcement about the run,” she said. “After I did, three people came up to me and told me their story.”
To learn more about the run, contact Adams at deanne.adams@ocfl.net or call 407-448-8301.

Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.

Upcoming Poinciana job fair could have thousands of jobs to fill.

A new Poinciana Medical Arts Building is one of the future construction projects that the Poinciana Economic Development Alliance is hoping creates jobs for local residents. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

POINCIANA – When a local group working to bring more jobs to Poinciana held an informational job fair on Sept. 22, “We had prepared for 150 registrations,” said Nick Murdock, chairman of the Poinciana Economic Development Alliance.
The fact that more than 600 people showed up, he said, not only drastically exceeded their expectations, but also demonstrated how strong the need is for more local employment opportunities.
The really good news, Murdock said, is that when PEDA holds a second job fair in January, the next one won’t be informational. There will be recruiters there looking for workers – and hiring.
“We need to make sure we have enough hiring contractors there for the job fair,” Murdock said. “If we don’t have enough contractors lined up by January, we may set it back by a month.”
But he doesn’t expect that to happen, because the community is looking at several major construction projects that will begin around the first of the new year, and PEDA has been reaching out to the firms behind those projects, ensuring that if they hold a job fair, there will be companies looking to take on workers, and not simply collect resumes.
“There’s tentative dates for everything,” he said. “That’s why we essentially scheduled a job fair for January.”
PEDA was formed over the summer by a group of residents, Murdock included, who didn’t want to leave the community’s economic future to chance. PEDA has estimated that Poinciana is going to benefit next year from up to 7,000 construction jobs being created through a host of projects, big and small, that are currently in the planning stages.
They include Osceola Regional Medical Center’s decision to build the first ever hospital in Poinciana, and Osceola County’s plans to construct the Poinciana Parkway, a new toll road designed to get residents in and out of Poinciana more quickly.
The state of Florida is also moving forward on SunRail, a commuter rail line that would run from Volusia County to downtown Orlando, then on to Poinciana, the final stop on this 61-mile route.
These projects, Murdock said, could begin at varying times, but in most cases construction will start next year.
“Our SunRail station, I doubt it will go out to bid before the end of 2012,” he said. “But the hospital should be starting in the first quarter or early second quarter of 2012.”
Osceola Regional Medical Center is also planning on creating an emergency room facility and a Medical Arts building to house medical offices, and construction on both of those projects will likely start after the main hospital work begins.
“I think they’re going to wait for the hospital groundbreaking to make that decision,” Murdock said.
The Poinciana Parkway, he said, should begin construction in the second quarter of 2012.
“Osceola County has got designs and engineering issues they’re working on now,” he said.
As each of these projects moves closer to the start date, he said, the firms overseeing the construction work will begin recruiting workers – and it’s been PEDA’s goal all along to ensure that Poinciana residents snag a good percentage of those jobs, if not the clear majority.
“With the Poinciana Parkway and the hospital starting in the next six months, and a couple of other smaller projects, I think we’ll have half of the 7,000 jobs ready by the end of January,” he said.
PEDA’s goal was to ensure that if so many jobs were coming to the community, Poinciana residents would get strong consideration — even first dibs — when it came to the hiring process.
Poinciana grew solidly in the past decade – in fact, Osceola was one of the nation’s fastest growing counties between 2000 and 2008 – as the community experienced a residential home construction boom and the population soared past 84,000.
But the collapse of the housing market in 2008 left the community with a high home foreclosure rate – and an equally high unemployment rate, which is why PEDA was formed, to help link residents to the new jobs being created by projects like the hospital and the Poinciana Parkway.
Murdock said his goal goes well beyond simply matching residents to those construction jobs. PEDA has reached out to other employers, in fields like health care, retail and entertainment, to consider Poinciana as a good place to do business.
“If I’ve got contractors who can hire day laborers or painters or a road work crew, I want them to consider our residents,” he said.
The informational event, held on Sept. 22 at the Poinciana Community Center, was organized to let residents know about the construction jobs in the pipeline, and to encourage people to take the time now to get prepared if they want to apply for any of them. More than 600 people showed up, overwhelming the PEDA members.
“We were absolutely bombarded,” said Melody Nadal, who volunteered to work at the informational fair, helping people draft resumes. She said they handed out resume writing kits, and ran out of them by 7:30 p.m.
“They went out the window,” she said. “We had a waiting list of people wanting them emailed to them. We ran out before it was even over.”
The event demonstrated that a lot of people are looking for hope for the future, Nadal said, adding that she did the best she could to help them put their best foot forward.
“I told them they needed to keep it to a one page resume that is job specific to what they want to get into,” she said. “I said, ‘Make it as a specific as you can to construction work.’ There were a lot of mixed cultures that didn’t know how to write a resume. There were a lot of people who didn’t speak English. I had to speak Spanish to them.”
Murdock said it was encouraging that “We did get a lot of good applicants with experience, and we got quite a few people interested in our plans.”
Now he hopes that by January, PEDA will be ready to start matching applicants with employers.
“We’re going to actually be trying to do our placement before the January job fair,” he said.

Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.

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