City Hall’s Friendship with ARK’s Founder and President
“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.” – Albert Camus
For decades DeLand exterminated healthy abandoned cats and dogs annually costing taxpayers over $45,000. The city’s contract with the facility that accepted their strays ended in July 2009 when ARK’s Founder and President Maggi Hall was asked by DeLand’s new Manager, Michael Pleus, to explain the details of the “No Kill Policy” to city staff and community leaders. The commissioners then voted unanimously to save lives and thus save tens of thousands of dollars. DeLand created a holding facility, Second Chance, with ARK’s promise: You’ll never have to kill again. Up to the day of the raid no healthy animal ever was.
ARK advertised Second Chance animals, adopting many from its website www.ARKsaves.com. The city relied on ARK to take pit bulls, sick and aggressive dogs, and find homes for the remainder. Another group rescued the cats. Rarely did any group pull from Second Chance. It was generally ARK that came forward as the city admitted in a news article THREE DAYS PRIOR TO THE RAID. The article quoted city employees’ desperation, “We’ve got to do something different than what we’re doing. We’re literally on the verge of implosion.... Usually ARK takes the dogs.” Yet three days later the city destroyed ARK’s Rescue Center.
City officials knew Hall well. After three decades as a special education teacher, Hall and her husband Ron, native Floridians and Stetson University graduates, moved back to DeLand in 1999 where Hall’s husband chairs Stetson’s Philosophy Department.
In 2001 Hall opened West Volusia Properties Real Estate office to facilitate her downtown revitalization of a ghetto of over 80 houses in various stages of decay ignored by the city for decades. Named “The Garden District,” the area incorporated four square blocks, two blocks from town center where drugs and prostitution flourished unchecked for years. The project was featured in Southern Living March 2004. In February 2006 the acclaimed American Bungalow printed Hall’s article “DeLand Florida: Architectural Revitalization in Action.”
In 2005 Hall received the “Teresa and Bob Apgar Faith, Hope, and Charity Community Service Award.” In 2006 Hall received the “Florida Trust for Historic Preservation Individual Achievement Award” for historic restoration of five commercial buildings in the Garden District. Hall was designer and contractor for the project. She also received the state’s “Florida MainStreet Outstanding Economic Restructuring Program Award” for leadership and financial support as Chair of MainStreet DeLand’s Design Committee.
In 2006 Hall won the prestigious state award from the Florida League of Cities having been nominated by DeLand’s Commissioners. The “2006 City Citizen of the Year Award” was given for numerous projects benefiting DeLand. When Assistant Manager Pleus read Hall’s resume and the numerous national and state awards she received while residing in South Carolina, he expressed delight in filling out the nomination.
Manager Mike Abels stated, “We're very proud of not only her winning, but what she's done in the city of DeLand."
Mayor Bob Apgar added, "Maggi Hall has done so many things in our community over the last couple of years, it really was hard for me to think there could be anyone else more worthy of recognition."
Hall is a national and state award winning environmentalist and historic preservationist having restored the oldest and longest operating public school in South Carolina. She authored five books, one on DeLand, another on Stetson. She was a member of DeLand’s Strategic Planning Committee, sat on the city’s tree advisory board, the West Volusia Historical Society, the West Volusia Audubon, and president of the local PEN Women, a national writing organization. Hall served on the city’s design committee for the bus station to be built adjacent to ARK. She sat on DeLand’s Code Enforcement Board for six years; she knew ordinances and legal procedures. When ARK was raided Hall knew the city was guilty; not ARK.
In 2007 Hall resigned from all boards to form ARK and assist the city she loved in rescuing DeLand’s abandoned cats and dogs.
November 8, 2012 a warrant was sworn out for Hall’s arrest accusing her of animal cruelty.
 Email from Hall to commissioners and staff, 10.12.12
 “DeLand considers options for overcrowded Second Chance Animal Shelter,” News-Journal, 11.5.12
 “Maggi Hall protects the town she loves,” West Volusia Beacon, 11.05
 "Architectural Revitalization in Action," American Bungalow, Fall 2005
 “The Power of One: Garden District Dreamer Garners Bouquet from Florida Trust," News-Journal, 6.7.06
 “League Names Hall Citizen of the Year: Activist honored for DeLand beautification work,” News-Journal, 11.22.06