Skip to main content
Port Orange Observer Monday, Aug. 19, 2019 1 year ago

Sugar Mill Gardens is accepting donations to save the dinosaurs

Check out what's happening in Your Town, Port Orange...
by: Alyssa Warner Staff Writer

In wake of the recent loss of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Sugar Mill Gardens is now accepting special donations for the dinosaur sculptures that are still standing. 

Those interested in lending a hand should leave their donation at the gardens with a note stating it is for the dinosaur repairs, said Mona Tompkins, grand-daughter of Manny Lawrence, the creator. 

Tompkins explained the dinosaurs were all hand-sculptured using concrete, chicken wire and some rebar at the base. The T-Rex that fell last month had a hollow stomach with the only solid part of the sculpture being the tail and legs. 

“My grandpa said three to four people could fit in the stomach and play cards,” Tompkins said. 

She was saddened that the city removed the T-Rex's remains before she could ask for the head to be saved. When the sculpture was built, she said her grandfather had put a bottle in the head which contained all the information about the T-Rex, including who made it, when, how long it took and the materials that were used.

There are four remaining dinosaurs at Sugar Mill. However, the newest dinosaur, the Ground Sloth, was made in the early 90s and is in "terrible condition," Tompkins said.

“I was privileged enough to help my grandfather on the weekends build that one, along with my cousin Dave Cabo,” Tompkins said.

When Tompkins went to check on the condition of the remaining dinosaurs, she noticed the Ground Sloth had large cracks going around the middle, on the legs, and part of the tail. The director of the gardens told her he thought the ground was very wet and is settling, causing the cracking to worsen. 

“What we hope to do is to find someone who can come out and look at the ground and tell us how we can build some type of a solid foundation around or under the Sloth so it won’t sink any more," Tompkins said. 

Once the foundation is fixed, she said they would like to repair the cracks and try to save it. Tompkins explained the family was devastated when they learned the news of the T-Rex falling. 

“Sugar Mill Gardens has always been a big part of our family’s legacy," Tompkins said. "We have had many family members get married there, we have taken our kids there, our friends and we even had my grandfathers memorial service there."

Losing the T-Rex felt like "losing a family member," she said. It had been a part of her life, and going back there to see the empty space was horrible, she said. She has spoken with Sugar Mill Gardens about putting a plaque in its place, or a bench, in memory of the T-Rex and her grandfather. 

City to host military officer

D. Michael Whitecotton pictured with City Manager, Jake Johansson. Photo courtesy of Christine Martindale

The City of Port Orange has again partnered with the International City/County Management Association to host another transitioning military officer through the ICMA City-County Management Senior Fellowship Program.

The program provides qualified military members with a one-week indoctrination into municipal government that helps prepare individuals to manage military installations. 

From Aug. 5 through Aug. 9, the city will welcome D. Michael Whitecotton, director of emergency services operations -plans and security, to provide him with a better understanding of the various facets of local government, as he explores innovative ideas for increasing efficiency and partnerships. 

While in Port Orange, Whitecotton will experience city department tours, participate in discussions with elected officials, attend community forums and sessions on community engagement. He will also collaborate with other senior professionals to exchange ideas and to discuss shared challenges, successes, and opportunities.

“We are excited to once again be part of this program with ICMA and to support Mr. Whitecotton, as he prepares to transition to manage military installations,” said City Manager Jake Johansson. “Many military installations operate as small towns or cities with many of the same challenges and opportunities in municipal government, so this will be a great opportunity for Mr. Whitecotton to learn about our city and apply practical principals to his next military installation.”

See "Nuts" by Tom Topor at the Stage at Thank You Five

“Nuts” is not your typical courtroom drama.

In fact, the play is set in the psychiatric wing of Bellevue Hospital where a sanity hearing will determine whether or not a woman is capable of standing trial for manslaughter. 

The cast of "Nuts" pictured from left to right: David Goldstone, Robert Siegel, Patrick Forestell, Annie Gaybis, Terence Van Auken. Photo by Mike Kitaif, courtesy of Jim O'Connell.

Claudia Faith Draper, a high-priced prostitute has been charged with murdering a client. She comes from an upper-middle-class white family and her parents would rather see her hospitalized than subjected to what they view as an embarrassing public trial. The literal and figurative price of love is what drives the plot of “Nuts,” while the issue of a woman’s worth is the basis of the drama play.

See the staged reading of "Nuts" by Tom Topor at the Stage at Thank You Five on Aug. 23 and 24 at 7:30 p.m., and August 25 at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $15. Call 295-5699 or visit

Thank You Five’s staged reading of “Nuts” is directed by Robert Dimsey and contains strong language and adult situations.


Related Stories