A unanimous vote at the May Governing Board meeting elected Talmadge G. “Jerry” Rice as Governing Board chair of the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
“I have had the privilege to serve under four very dynamic and effective chairs, Ronnie Duncan, Tom Dabney, Watson Haynes and Heidi McCree,” said Rice. “I hope to build on the legacy they established at the District.”
The Board also selected Judith C. “Judy” Whitehead as vice chair, Jennifer E. Closshey as treasurer and Neil Combee as secretary.
CHAIR Jerry Rice
Rice of Dade City was appointed to the Governing Board in March 2003. He was elected the Board’s treasurer in May 2004. He is also chair ex officio of the District’s Withlacoochee River Basin Board. His term expires March 1, 2007.
Rice is a native Floridian. He holds a bachelor of science degree with a major in citrus and a master of science degree with a major in agricultural economics from the University of Florida.
Before beginning his real estate business, Rice was president and chief operating officer of Lykes Pasco, Inc., and subsequently vice president of government and industry relations for Lykes Bros., Inc. He retired from that position in 1998.
Rice is currently a member of the Greater Lake County Association of Realtors and Sumter County Chamber of Commerce. He has been past president of the Florida Citrus Processors Association and the National Juice Products Association, former board member of the Gulf Citrus Growers Association, and former member of the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service.
VICE CHAIR Judy Whitehead
Whitehead of Brooksville was appointed to the Governing Board in March 2003. She was elected the Board’s secretary in May 2004. She is also chair ex officio of the District’s Coastal Rivers Basin Board. Her term expires March 1, 2007.
Whitehead is a native Floridian and has spent most of her life along the coast in west-central Florida. She attended the University of Tampa Business College from 1962 to 1963. Whitehead is a state certified real estate appraiser.
TREASURER Jennifer Closshey
Closshey of Plant City was appointed to the Governing Board in April 2005. She is also chair ex officio of the District’s Alafia River Basin Board. Her term expires March 1, 2009.
Closshey has been a Florida resident since 1956. She received bachelor of arts degrees in both marketing and business administration from the University of South Florida. Closshey is a licensed Florida real estate broker.
Closshey is president, CEO, and owner of Ideas & Innovations, Inc., a strategic business consulting firm.
SECRETARY Neil Combee
Combee of Lakeland was appointed to the Governing Board in April 2005. He is also co-chair ex officio of the District’s Peace River Basin Board. His term expires March 1, 2009.
A Polk County native, Combee graduated from Lakeland High School and attended Polk Community College and Florida State University. He has a Florida real estate license.
Combee is a former Polk County commissioner who continues to work on his family’s farm and ranch, and is a realtor for Century Companies of Lakeland.
The officers assumed their duties Tuesday, May 30, and will serve one-year terms. Board officers are allowed to serve no more than two consecutive one-year terms in the same office.
Governing Board members are unpaid, citizen volunteers who are appointed by the Governor for a four-year term and confirmed by the Florida Senate. The 11-member Governing Board sets policy for the District, whose mission is to manage the water and related resources of west-central Florida to meet the needs of current and future water users while protecting the environment.
“In my opinion, we have an excellent board, an effective executive staff, and knowledgeable and tremendously dedicated employees,” said Rice. “I am confident that together we can continue to move the District forward in a manner that will make the citizens that we serve and ourselves proud.”
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