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Then and Now Leads Apopka Social Media Growth


Social media is booming in Apopka. Just look at the membership of groups like Apopka Rants, Raves, Reviews and News (over 5,000), and The Apopka Critic (over 4,000). Scroll through the membership lists and you will see nearly every elected official in Apopka with memberships on almost every Group page.

Commissioner Diane Velazquez even referred to Facebook as a local news source.

With that in mind, it is not surprising that another local site is emerging.

Apopka Then and Now is in the middle of quite a growth spurt. Founder Gene Knight started it in December of 2015, but since mid-April (post runoff election), Then and Now has increased its membership from about 500 to over 2,000 (2,134 as of this posting), and added key contributors/administrators to transform a site dedicated to the history of Apopka (with historical photos and snippets of historical information) into an all-encompassing group covering a diversity of issues.

This is what Knight wrote on the group’s page as a description:

“This is a page for people to come and see what's going on in Apopka like events, elections, new business etc. You can also post old pictures of Apopka, your favorite restaurant in Apopka or whatever you think people in Apopka might like to know… just keep it clean.”

Knight’s wife Cheryl has been with Then and Now almost from the beginning. She is in charge of food and recipes.

Apopka Then and Now has grown in membership from 500 to over 2,000 since April. Apopka Then and Now has grown in membership from 500 to over 2,000 since April.

“I love sharing food. If it’s a good recipe I’ll share it and I hope they enjoy it as much as I do.”

Cheryl’s recipes and restaurant posts are often the most popular articles of the day.

Fred Kinney and Knight have been friends and residents of Apopka for a long time, and Kinney brings a certain skeptical experience to Then and Now.

“I’m sort of the curmudgeon of the group,” he said.

Kinney posts quotes of the day and inspiring thoughts of the week, but he also is not one to shy away from a passionate topic or thread that might resonate.

Those three administrators formed the core of the early group, but it was the addition of two key contributors that has transformed Then and Now into what it is today.

Misha Corbett has lived in Apopka since 2001. She is a paralegal who volunteers approximately 600 hours per year at Dream Lake Elementary and has served as its PTA Treasurer, Vice President and President. She is plugged-in to Apopka politics, and she wants to make a difference.

She met with Knight shortly after the April 12th runoff elections in Apopka. She was not happy with the treatment she received on Rants, but liked the social media approach to public discourse.

“Your page is good,” she told Knight. “We need to make it the big one in Apopka.”

Corbett handles government, politics, restaurants, and news for Then and Now. Her City Council summary article has received praise from many, including Commissioner Velazquez.

Corbett is upbeat and hopeful about the page's mission.

“We’re here to give Apopka a social media source without censorship,” she said. “They (Rants) banned politics during the election. It just got frustrating to see what was allowed and what was not. It’s not fair to anyone to have the truth stretched.”

She contrasts the Rants style with a more open approach on Then and Now.

“I think we do it in a constructive manner. People might not always like what is said, but they can interact with it and learn from it. We won’t delete their comments.”

Robin Tater has firsthand experience with Rants. She was an Administrator for over a year, and she was appreciative of the opportunity.

“I was not very active in Apopka politics until I was an admin on the group,” she said. “As an admin I was involved in Apopka community and government issues.”

However she parted ways with Rants in April.

“I was removed as an Admin and I was never told why.”

Like Corbett, Tater became an Administrator for Then and Now in April. She sees this role as a better fit for her. Tater is in charge of the question of the day, but she is also involved with news, restaurants, and their charity, volunteer and summer program posts.

“I wanted to continue having a voice in the community. I think this town has phenomenal potential. That’s why I moved here. I want to bring another festival to Apopka. I want to bring a nighttime parade. I want to bring snow to Apopka.”

With growth spurts such as what Then and Now is experiencing, there are often growing pains, but so far there have been no bumps in the road.

“We all have different ideas, but we work well together,” said Knight.


Apopka Then and Now


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