From the City of Longwood

Monday was a celebration day in Longwood as the City Commission presented four dedicated individuals with the annual Key to the City Award: David Dowda, Keith Shoemaker, Brian Sackett, and Cheryl Bryant.

David Dowda, Longwood Police Chief

Chief Dowda was born in Oakland, California. He and his wife Michelle, and their two children, daughter, Shelby, and son, Mason have been residents of Longwood for over 25 years.

Chief Dowda graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the University of Phoenix and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Florida. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Law Enforcement Academy Class 230. In 2015, he completed the Southern Police Institutes’ Chief Executive Leadership Program. He is also an FDLE certified law enforcement trainer.

Chief Dowda began his career in law enforcement with the Longwood Police Department on May 5, 1992. In a career spanning 28 years, he has served in the patrol division, and in the traffic enforcement division, as a motorcycle officer, traffic homicide investigator, and traffic crash reconstructionist. In 2000, he was awarded a promotion to Sergeant where he served in several supervisory roles in the patrol division, traffic division, and training sections. In 2006, he was promoted to Lieutenant and then in 2009 to Commander. In October 2015, he moved into the role of Interim Police Chief, then on December 18, 2017, the City Commission confirmed his appointment as Chief of Police for the City of Longwood. He runs a 50 manpower department with steadfast dedication and loyalty. He oversees a multitude of special programs including Longwood’s School Resource Program, the Police Explorer Post 212, Neighborhood Watch, House Watch, Child Safety Seat Checks, and RuOK. He also promotes ongoing education and advanced training for the department’s staff.

Chief Dowda gives back to his community by his service as a Board Member of The Christian Sharing Center in Longwood. He is blessed and honored to have the opportunity to lead the Police Department and appreciative of the support given by the City Commission, fellow employees, and the Longwood community.

The City of Longwood is very pleased to have presented the Longwood Key to the City Award to David Dowda as an outstanding public servant with an allegiance to Law Enforcement and a profound vision for safety in this City, giving 100% of his time and energy protecting the community.

Mr. Keith Shoemaker, presented posthumously

Mr. Shoemaker was born in Otero, New Mexico in 1956. He married his high school sweetheart Abigail and they became residents of Longwood in 2000. They have a son, James, who was born on April 13, 1989.

Mr. Shoemaker attended Winter Park High School and during his senior year, he met his wife Abigail. He completed a Diesel Mechanic certification, an Associate’s Degree in Information Technology & Electronics, and a Core Certification Program in Electronics with a 4.0-grade point average.

Mr. Shoemaker had 27 years of dedicated employment with the City of Longwood and was a Fleet Service Supervisor, in the Public Works Department when he retired in 2014. While employed Keith served as the Blue Collar Union Stewart where he advocated and supported all members. Many nicknamed Keith, “The Wizard” due to his magical ability to fix most anything.

Mr. Shoemaker was very active in the community. He volunteered for many City of Longwood events and causes such as Night Moves Teen Dance, Celebrate the Season, and The Fall Festival which included the popular Longwood Haunted House. He was part of the Needy Family Program and the Needy Family Christmas Basket Program. He was instrumental in providing aid after Hurricane Andrew hit and traveled to South Florida to deliver supplies.

Mr. Shoemaker developed many friendships throughout his employment. Many described him as smart, witty, sincere, positive, and fair. His wife Abigail, describes him as a kind and giving person who put family above all.

The City of Longwood is very pleased to have presented posthumously the Longwood Key to the City Award to Keith Shoemaker for being an outstanding example of someone involved, dedicated, and volunteering his time to the City and serving their community.

Longwood Key to the City Award recipients, August 24, 2020

Brian Sackett, Longwood Deputy Mayor

Deputy Mayor Sackett was born in Amsterdam, New York in 1953 on Friday the 13th. He has been married to Mary 44 years and has three daughters, Amanda, Lindsey, and Lauren, and four grandchildren, Sydney, Cameron, Chloe, and Phoenix. He has resided in Longwood since 1989.

Deputy Mayor Sackett graduated Suma Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Special Education from Windham College in Putney, Vermont in 1978, and in 1994, he graduated Suma Cum Laude with a Master of Science Degree in Mathematics and Science Education from the University of Central Florida. Then in 2000, he achieved the National Board Certification as a Middle Childhood Generalist at the University of Central Florida.

Deputy Mayor Sackett has been teaching for 42 years and taught over 2000 students and is now teaching former student’s children. He has worked with Elementary School children, High School teens, and College Students and is currently a fifth-grade teacher at Woodlands Elementary School in Longwood.

Deputy Mayor Sackett has been recognized and awarded the Teacher of the Year numerous times, the SCPS Foundation Grants in Literature, and the Becky Bailey Discipline Strategies and Science Strategies. He was elected to the City Commission in November 2003. He has served as Longwood’s Deputy Mayor and as Mayor from May 2008 through May 2009 and again from May 2012 through May 2014.

Deputy Mayor Sackett has been very active in the community. He supports any program that benefits children and local culture. He has been involved in the Longwood Babe Ruth Baseball program and the Boy Scouts. Some of Brian’s memberships have included: Former Adjunct Professor for the University of Central Florida, Lake Mary High School Advisory Committee, National Board of Certified Teachers (County President and now as State and National Liaison), PTAs, Seminole Education Association, Wilson Elementary School Advisory Committee, and Woodlands Elementary School Advisory Committee.

The City of Longwood is very pleased to have presented the Longwood Key to the City Award to Brian Sackett as an outstanding and devoted Longwood Citizen contributing his talent, time, and energy serving the community; and his dedication and a strong commitment to helping mankind.

Mrs. Cheryl Bryant, Owner of the Wild Hare Kitchen and Garden Emporium

Mrs. Bryant was born in Evansville, Indiana. She is married to Nathan and has a son, Maxwell, and a daughter, Alexandra who served in the Navy. She attended the University of Evansville

Mrs. Bryant is the owner of Wild Hare Kitchen and Garden Emporium located at 335 North Ronald Reagan Boulevard in The Shoppes of Historic Longwood. The Wild Hare is a farm market and health hub focusing on local clean produce, local products, vendors, health foods, herbs, essential oils, and supplements. She has proudly been in business for 8 years.

Mrs. Bryant has been very active in the community. She continues to go above and beyond by providing a Little Free Library that promotes neighborhood book exchanges, and free educational classes at the Wild Hare on bee-keeping, gardening, and cooking. She has hosted guest speakers that are Doctors who also give free educational classes.

Mrs. Bryant works with physicians on meal prep for their patients, hosts free community breakfasts, and has a catering and rental kitchen for start-ups to incubate their dream business.

Mrs. Bryant during the COVID-19 pandemic has provided over 400 free lunches to Longwood students, free masks for first responders and nurses, and provided curbside service. She also offered free delivery to cancer patients, the immunocompromised, people who had recently gotten out of surgery, and those over 55 years of age.

Mrs. Bryant loves the City of Longwood and advocates for the small businesses by continuing to promote shopping local and supporting mom-and-pop businesses.

The City of Longwood is very pleased to have presented the Longwood Key to the City Award to Cheryl Bryant, for her incredible willingness to give of her time serving the community with passion and dedication, and a strong commitment to helping mankind.

Congratulations to each of these Longwood citizens for their commitment, example and impact in the community.



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