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Tom Slater rejoins Shores Town Council, and becomes mayor

Photo: Tom Slater is sworn in as new Mayor of Indian River Shores.

Moments after former councilman Tom Slater was unanimously selected to serve out the nearly three-year balance of Mayor Brian Barefoot’s term on the Indian River Shores Town Council, he was elected to succeed Barefoot as mayor.

A long-time John’s Island resident, Slater served one term previously but did not seek re-election in November 2016 due to health issues. He was welcomed back with open arms last Thursday.

Slater said he looked forward to quickly getting up to speed on pending matters. “There are a number of issues that are important for all the residents that I hope can be settled in the best interest of all the Town,” he said.

Outgoing Mayor Barefoot, who had said it was an opportune time to step down from the Council with the Vero electric sale in the home stretch and the cell tower up, was honored for his service in the unique Shores tradition, the presentation of a Shores Public Safety fire helmet. Barefoot was a good sport and donned the helmet, commenting, “My grandkids will love this.”

In one of its first official duties as a reconstituted group without Barefoot, the council approved a contract with Summit Construction for $797,000 to complete the new 3,000-square-foot community center on the site where the old center was demolished over the past two weeks.

The hope is to have the center ready and open to serve as the Shores’ polling place for the August 2018 primary election. The backup plan is to set up voting booths in the adjacent fire station.

The council also got an update on the cell tower, in which the public was told that the Shores now has contracts with both Verizon and AT&T and that building permits are underway. Verizon customers should see improved signal in roughly two months, with AT&T a few weeks behind in the process.

News this week that cell providers Sprint and T-Mobile had reached terms to complete a merger means that if the merger is approved, and the Shores is able to ink a lease with that new, combined provider for space on the tower, the vast majority of residents will end up with much better phone reception, plus data coverage for their mobile devices.