Opinion

During the November 1st Apopka City Council meeting, several members of the Apopka Area Concerned Citizens Council (AACCC), and other Apopka residents used the public comments period to express their displeasure over the Apopka Historical Society’s decision to not re-stock the book “The Pennings of Perrine Slim: Stories of Northwest Orange County Florida”.

On Friday, November 3rd, The Apopka Chief published an account of the meeting, which included a description of the public comments, as well as a response by Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer defending the Apopka Historical Society’s actions.

On Sunday Cheryl Kilsheimer, President of the Apopka Historical Society, emailed a statement to The Apopka Voice in response to the allegations and to The Apopka Chief’s article. The statement is endorsed by the vast majority of the Apopka Historical Society Board, and their names are listed at the end of the response.

Here is Cheryl Kilsheimer’s statement:

“The article in The Apopka Chief, “Mayor defends criticism of his wife’s actions as group president” saddens me beyond belief. Clearly what happened at the November 1 City Council meeting was a politically motivated, manufactured stunt to hurt my husband by using me. And The Apopka Chief bought it: hook, line and sinker.

Here’s the real story: The Apopka Chief chose to do no fact checking or investigating of the claims of a group the Apopka Area Concerned Citizens Council (AACCC) to ascertain the truth. The Chief printed one side’s version of a story. Had The Chief made a simple phone call to either myself or any other board member, it could have avoided putting the community through the turmoil of such a public spectacle.

Why would The Chief publish such blatant untruths? It’s clear: The Apopka Chief intends to “carry the water” for Joe’s opponent and they will use anyone or anything – no matter how sacred to our community – to achieve their goal.

As the President of the Apopka Historical Society, I can state that the following are the unequivocal facts of what recently happened at the Museum.

  • The first paragraph of the Chief’s article states the book was “banned.” This is completely untrue. The book is indeed at the museum and has been. As a matter of fact, we have it displayed prominently along with information about where the book can be purchased. Also, the book appears on the museum website with a direct link to the publisher – Olmstead Publishing
  • In regards, to Ms. Olmstead, there was never a “disagreement.” The museum board – at several meetings – talked about her disruptive behavior. Collectively, board members decided that it was easier to not deal with her.
  • Earlier in September, Ms. Belle Gilliam ordered a case of books from Phyllis Olmstead. Ms. Gilliam did not seek the permission from the board. Gilliam’s son-in-law delivered them to the museum.  The board considered the invoiced delivery of the books and decided it was best to send the books back to Phyllis Olmstead.
  • The board also asked me to go and speak to Ms. Gilliam in order to explain its decision. Our board members wanted to ensure that we were being considerate and transparent to Ms. Gilliam.
  • Along with another board member, I went to speak to Ms. Gilliam. To our surprise, Phyllis Olmstead, the proprietor of Olmstead Publishing and Ms. Gilliam’s daughter, Ms.  Beverly Byrd and her husband were also there.  There was no demand, no yelling or getting in anyone’s face by either myself or the other board member.  This was intended to be a nice visit and we had no intention of upsetting Belle.
  • It pains me personally that anyone would mischaracterize our intentions or the visit itself as an attempt to attack an elderly woman. This version of events reported in The Apopka Chief is absurd. If The Apopka Chief had done any simple fact-checking at all they would have known that what they were reporting was a malicious lie.
  • Leroy Bell is not a member of the museum. As long as I’ve been associated with the museum, to my knowledge, he has never been in the museum until he showed up three or four weeks ago. I was in the office talking to a board member.  He, his wife and another person walked in and were greeted by one of our volunteers.  Mr. Bell went on a rant demanding to know where the “pictures” were.  The volunteer simply explained that we are still re-doing our displays.  She was flustered by his behavior and quickly came in to get our museum employee.
  • The employee went out to talk to Mr. Bell and Mr. Bell acted in the same belligerent manner. The employee came into the office and said someone wanted to talk to me. I asked why, and was told that he wanted to know where all the pictures of black people were.  I went out and asked how I could help. Mr. Bell continued with the same loud accusatory behavior.
  • I attempted to explain to Mr. Bell that we are still renovating the museum. I also said we have taken many pictures down and not just pictures of black people.  Bell got frustrated at this point and stormed out of the museum. But this was not before his wife called me a “bitch,” and Mr. Bell threatened me by saying:  “You will get yours.”

The Apopka Chief also took it upon themselves to include another lie about Ed Velazquez.  Mr. Velazquez is a retired Vietnam Army Veteran, a member of the Elks and a board member on the Apopka Historical Society.  Neither he nor any other board member has ever turned away a volunteer because of the color of their skin.  There is simply no factual backing for that statement and The Apopka Chief therefore owes him an apology.

In regards to Ms. Beverly Byrd alleging that the museum has an “arrangement” with Orange County School Board Member Christine Moore, this is another lie.  If The Apopka Chief would have done any fact-checking at all, they would have learned the books by Ms. Moore were purchased by a Museum board member and donated to the museum.

I have to respond to Ms. Byrd’s rude and uncalled-for behavior at the recent Apopka City Council meeting.  I have never and would never treat your mother disrespectfully. But I ask: Why would you treat my husband, the Mayor of Apopka with such disregard?  With all due respect, you don’t even know him.   I assure you Ms. Byrd, many people have won elections for which I favored the other side, but I would never disrespect the office or the person who puts themselves, their family and friends through the process of running for election.  If this is customary of a “southern gal from Apopka,” then I feel sorry for Apopka.

This is an attack on my character which is unfounded.  I’ve donated my time, my personal money and have persuaded my friends to donate their time for our museum.  I cherish it and my ability to give back to our community through it.

If The Apopka Chief had made one phone call, or sent one email or inquiry of any kind to anyone with knowledge of the truth, this article would not have been written and this political stunt would have been seen for what it is.

In closing, I have long been concerned that The Apopka Chief was writing articles that contained a great degree of bias. Now I realize The Apopka Chief’s articles are worse than biased. They are woefully uninformed and devoid of facts.

Lastly, I share with my fellow Museum Board Members a concern that the museum has been used as a pawn in this vicious, politically motivated attack that brings with it racial overtones that are unnecessary and unfounded.  The Museum is about our collective history in Apopka and politics has no place in its walls and we would hope that it not be used to further anyone’s political agenda.”

Respectfully submitted,

Cheryl Kilsheimer

Reviewed and endorsed by the following Apopka Historical Society Board members:

Dianne Faircloth

Barbara McLeod

Betty Ann Huntsman

Jack Douglas

Ed Velazquez

Trudy Weiss

Hilda and Larry Leudenburg

Terri Morrell

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Cheryl Kilsheimer and the Apopka Historical Society Board, and do not necessarily reflect the position of The Apopka Voice. 

10 COMMENTS

  1. What a crock of bull , got her hand caught in the cookie jar, as far as the Apopka chief goes knowing the publisher for many years I tend to believe them over any Politician, and I bet many of those named after her rant don’t really agree with her , probably didn’t give her permission to use their name, I would believe the Gilliam family first.

  2. Too bad Mrs. Kilsheimer has such a short memory. The first piece of Joe’s campaign literature did nothing but attack the age and character of Mayor John Land.

  3. Cheryl, I have listened to the Apopka City Council Meeting audio, as well as in person, when I attended the last meeting. I have also read your letter here on the Apopka Voice, as well as the Apopka Chief newspaper article on Friday, and the various social media comments on different websites. First, let me say, I understand a husband taking up for his wife, and also for a wife taking up for her husband. I think everyone can understand that, at least, those that are married. I know my husband and I stand up for each other. That said, I hope that whatever is going on within the walls and operations of the Apopka Historical Museum, for whatever reason, is not used as a reason to shutter the doors of the museum, because that would be a shame, and in closing and padlocking the doors to our town’s historical outlet, it would be a much greater shame, if that happened, than any shame anyone committed by getting hostile, showing off, or being rude. We all know there opposing sides to every story told. I don’t think very many of our citizens actually know what went on, and the words spoken, etc. they are getting bits and pieces of information here and there, and so I think most citizens are like me, and don’t understand truly what is going on. Regardless, Cheryl, I cannot see any good coming from this blow-up, if the various memorabilia is not returned, and placed back into the museum, both the items taken down, and the book, even though you have said that things are being remodeled. Cheryl, as the Apopka Historical Museum President, I personally ask this favor from you, for you to act to resolve these matters, for the good of our city, and not in the interest of who is right, or who is wrong. You can put the blame on me for asking you to do this, if it will help resolve the issues within our community. All I can do is ask. Our younger residents need the Apopka Historical Museum, as it is one of their only links to our past in this city. The mayor words seems to indicate to me, that the museum may be shut down, so again, I ask this of you, as the President of the Apopka Historical Museum. Thank you for your consideration.

  4. Sad, sad, sad….another bear hit and killed. This time it was a mother bear that was killed, and she has two cubs who didn’t know what to do when the mother was struck and killed. One cub climbed a wall, the other cub tried standing there next to his mama, said a person who lived near there, and saw the dead bear by the road. This was on Welch Road, near Wekiwa State Park somewhere along there, so BE CAREFUL driving along that way! FWC was called out, and bear traps have been set between Wekiva Glen subdivision and on east toward the state park. This happened not long ago.

  5. I have read your article and I am hoping that you are going to put back all the historical items that you have taken down.I want to purchase the book “The Pennings of Perrine Slim : Stories of Northwest Orange County Florida. Since I was raised here in Apopka I enjoy reading about the history here.I f someone reads this would you send a message to my E-Mail and tell me the cost of the book. Also is there any others available.

    • You can buy it off of Amozon and does Amozon return % of the PROCCEDS back to the MUSEUM NO!!!! But the current arrangement from the Author did.
      The fact of the matter is if the PRESIDENT of the Museum hadn’t verbally assault a 96 year old (Lady) a staple of the Community the AACCC would not have to address this with the museum. The Mayor’s wife life in her article. And to date the Mayor’s wife the President of the Museum has NOT replied to the 2 letters that she was sent! I did not want to just a phone call from the first email. I wanted a response in writing. The second email that was sent to she still has not responded. It is noble for her husband to defend her honor. But not when she is wrong. So Sir I’d want to blame or thank anyone it’s your spouse that is to blame. And say this wth the upmost respect!!! Never call the person(s) that pay your salary a liar. You are the Mayor for all.

  6. Well Leroy Bell certainly treated Ms. Belle Gilliam with tenderness, total respect, and the utmost kindness……So try keeping that thought of Leroy Bell in mind also…….

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