Tuesday, October 20, 2020
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The Villages

The Villages brings in ‘Big Boss’ to ride out apartment controversy

Jo Thacker

The Villages has brought in a “Big Boss” to help ride out the apartment battle to be waged in Sumter County.

Attorney Jo Thacker took the lead Monday night before a Sumter County special master in a hearing at Everglades Recreation Center at the Village of Fenney. The six-hour hearing featured a parade of speakers opposing The Villages’ plans. 

One week earlier, Thacker quietly remained in the background when an overflow crowd of Villagers shouted down the idea of introducing apartments at the former home of Katie Belle’s at Spanish Springs Town Square. That night, Thacker was content to leave the lead with Darrin Taylor of Tallahassee consulting firm Carlton Fields and Villages Vice President Marty Dzuro. The Lady Lake Planning and Zoning Board voted 3-0 against the apartments. After the meeting, she was seen huddling in the parking lot with Taylor and Dzuro. From the body language, it was apparent she was ready to take charge.

Darrin Taylor of Tallahassee consulting firm Carlton Fields, left, and Marty Dzuro, at the podium, make the case for apartments Sept. 14 before the Lady Lake Planning and Zoning Board.

Thacker took the reins Monday night and rode out with the Sumter County special master’s approval of the apartments.

Before entering private practice, she served as the Osceola County attorney for 13 years. As county attorney, she represented the county in all legal matters. She is now a partner with the firm Nelson Mullins in Orlando, a firm that specializes in “resort and planned communities.”

Jo Thacker in 2016 served as the Big Boss of the Silver Spurs Rodeo.

Thacker was the second woman to ever serve as the “Big Boss” of the Silver Spurs Rodeo in Kissimmee, where she is a sixth generation Osceola County resident. Her grandparents were among the group of local ranchers who founded the event, now the largest rodeo east of the Mississippi River. She started out making snow cones at the rodeo.

“The only thing I don’t do is ride in the arena,” she said in a 2016 interview.

Thacker is surely to earn her Sumter County spurs in two hearings in October when the apartment issue goes before the Sumter County Commission, which will lose three of its five members the following month.

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