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IN THIS EDITION OF THE NEWSLETTER
Today, a teenager or college student must beware of old White men! They carry guns and are not afraid to shoot unarmed kids they may be terrified of.
In the past week, it was almost as if the old declared open season on the young. The revenge of the Baby Boomers and even those older against the fear of vibrant youth. The first kid to be shot was a black 16-year-old who rang the doorbell of the wrong house while looking to pick up his younger brothers.
The shooter, an 85-year-old apparently out-of-touch White guy, claimed he was afraid of the black kid who was a hulk. The kid was 140 Lbs. and 5’8”. He is in the school band not on the football team. The old man was so afraid he shot through a locked storm door hitting him twice. That happened in Kansas City, Missouri.
Then there was the case of college kids who drove up the wrong driveway in rural New York state looking for a friend’s house. There was no cell service and therefore they lost their GPS. This old White guy apparently was also in fear of his life even though no one exited the car, and they were turning around to leave the driveway.
He gave those kids what for by standing on his porch which was elevated from the driveway and let loose two shots killing a young White girl in the process. This is like a bad version from days gone by of the old guy railing against kids going into his yard to retrieve an errant softball. Now instead of some yahoo turning on their water hose, the guy lets go with a couple of rounds to teach these young’uns about property rights.
The last case was a cheerleader in Texas who accidentally got into the wrong car in a dark parking lot but had already exited. This time it looks like a Hispanic guy was afraid of the kid and blasted her and friend. I think she was Black, but does it really matter? She was a teenage girl.
What these incidents have in common is that along with 2nd Amendment rights to own guns there is a 2nd Amendment responsibility to exercise judgement before using a gun. You can defend your home and property, but there must be a clear threat. Just because someone is old doesn’t give them the right to blast away, especially if the supposed threat is down a driveway or on the other side of a locked door.
Maybe these guys never grew up. They believe they are playing with toy guns. Similarly, it is ridiculous to be able to carry a long gun into a store or bank because the law allows it. What is the point except to show one’s inner child or to prove to people how brave they are. These are the very people who should not be carrying guns.
Law enforcement professionals practice and drill for hours and hours with their weapons for situations that for many of them will never happen. It would not be acceptable if they wounded or killed a civilian in any of the situations outlined above. The “Stand Your Ground Law” was never meant as a get out of jail free card if a gunowner did not act in conformance with a real threat.
Before you pick up a weapon and think you are either John Wayne or Rambo you better realize firing could result in death. You need to understand just like most cops will never need to fire their weapon, civilians will be in even fewer situations where it is necessary.
We have 2nd Amendment rights, but there are responsibilities associated with those rights. It isn’t a one-way street and there is no 2nd Amendment right to shoot at anyone because you have an unfounded fear. It would appear to me that the three individuals who shot those kids should pay the price for their unlawful actions.
The shooters’ 2nd Amendment rights weren’t taken away if prosecuted and convicted. But they did take away the rights and lives of their victims. There is no such thing as rights without responsibilities and we should never forget that.
Friends & Neighbors is continuing to tell you, our readers, the true story of what is going on in our county and municipalities.
Friends & Neighbors has no hidden agenda or side. We are unashamed of our pro property rights and good government stances. And we are under no illusions as to what will happen if both are ignored, or incidents swept under the rug.
Tallahassee has ended any semblance of Martin County, Stuart or any local government having local control as was enshrined in our constitution. The legislature and now this governor has made that doctrine if not obsolete consigned to the endangered list. Preemption is what we can expect.
Some of it has been the fault of local government. Idiotic and unreasonable denials of projects by commissions are part of the explanation for our treatment. Some have the Chicken Little rection to every approval. Because of that the legislature passed the “Live Local Act” which will tie the hands of local government when it comes to the approval process.
Does that mean we will have unlimited growth? Probably not because market forces will dictate how many units can be built and absorbed. Many projects now will happen administratively. The commission and indirectly the public will have no say.
In many instances the people we have elected have caved to the minority and have shown no courage or fortitude. Most individuals that want to accomplish something quickly learn that being an elected official doesn’t equate to having better government. The best of us don’t become or stay very long in those positions.
So, at Friends & Neighbors we will continue to bring to light things like the “Tunnel No One Claims” and other bad policies that government makes.
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A DEVELOPER’S BEST FRIEND
The now Kanner PUD (Costco) has had its ups and downs since it was first proposed as a project to be built in Palm City years ago.
Costco ran from the site on High Meadow Road near the entrance to the Florida Turnpike. The Palm City location had been a bust because of local opposition. Now a Tractor Supply, Wawa, and an assortment of other retail establishments will or have made the spot their home…hardly an improvement over the Costco proposal.
Costco next wanted to build on a 50-acre parcel in Stuart bordered by Kanner Highway, Indian Street, and Willoughby. According to the plan, adjoining the store would be 378 apartments and other restaurants.
Joe Marino, the developer, spent an inordinate amount of time with the city staff, friendly and unfriendly neighbors, and the then city commission to hammer out a very nice deal. It included a park by a lake, roads, upland preserve area, and preservation of broadly defined wetlands. Robin Cartwright, a city resident, appealed the commission’s decision where she won what appeared to be a pyrrhic victory with a hearing before Administrative Law Judge Francine Ffolkes.
That decision was overturned by Governor DeSantis and his cabinet about a month ago. Ms. Cartwright has now filed a notice of appeal to the Fourth District Court of Appeal. There are currently no pleadings. Here is where it becomes very interesting and why Cartwright may be Moreno’s best friend.
A week or so ago, Governor DeSantis signed into law the “Live Local” Act. That is the bill that intends to bring a large amount of housing to Florida communities like Stuart and Martin County who have been very busy saying no to reasonable (sometimes high-density, multi-family) development. Because of the bill, the Costco site can now have 1500 units plus maybe even a Costco.
Once it receives a land use change to either commercial or multi-family which is what every surrounding city parcel has, the site approval is administrative. The commission will not see a site plan, there will be no park, roads, or lake. The Florida Environmental Protection Agency has already ruled there are no wetlands that need to be preserved.
If Stuart decides not to fight the appeal, then the result will be the above. And Cartwright will have unwittingly provided to the developer four times the number of units that were going to go there. If I were Mareno, I wouldn’t be rushing to defend the old deal either. Cartwright, the environmentalist, and small-town activist probably will have done more to destroy the character of the city she wanted to preserve than anyone I can think of.
We should all hope Mr. Mareno, who has shown a great deal of integrity, continues to do so. He has put together a great project that the residents of Stuart want. He has shown a willingness to work with the community to achieve the best outcome for all.
This can all be tumbling down because of a few short-sighted people. What many have not grasped yet is that Tallahassee has had enough of this NIMBYism. States throughout the country are cracking down on local governments’ ability to guide their own destiny because of the need to have housing built. While I am not a fan of DeSantis and the Florida Legislature, in this instance, I completely understand why “Live Local” was passed.
If all else fails and Mareno relies on the new law to build the project, then Ms. Cartwright did more for his bottom line than she can imagine. Mareno and his company will maximize this investment beyond their wildest hopes. It is all thanks to a developer’s best friend, Robin Cartwright.
As Published In Martin County Moments
Is it time to panic over SB 102 or the “Live Local” law that was passed by the Florida Legislature and signed into law by the governor?
Frankly, it is too late to panic or for that matter do much about it. Instead of local bodies trying to thwart it, they should be looking at how they can live within its boundaries. The Florida Legislature didn’t pass the bill because they didn’t see a problem with how local government was treating development.
From the time that Governor Scott came into office, the policy in Florida has been to clear obstacles out of the way for developers. Local government has continued to be one of those obstacles to the state’s plan to house 350,000 new residents a year. In some ways, we have been thumbing our noses at the guys that have all the power.
The state government, including the Florida Legislature, is accountable to no one. They may say that the people elected them but because so many of us ignore what individual legislators do and pull the lever for a Republican, there is no negative consequence for removing the impediments of local control.
In fairness to the “Lords of Tallahassee” as I affectionately call the legislators, they feel that they are in a bind. Voters keep griping about the lack of affordable housing, and M’Lords feel they are responding to those gripes. The same can be said for local commissioners who keep harping on the issue and then do everything possible to discourage multi-family housing.
Instead of local governments trying to see how they can get around the act’s provisions, they should be working to minimize the worst parts of the bill by accommodation. It probably is too late to stop the momentum but not to have some say in the outcome.
More preemption is on tap for the next session unless we heed the warnings from the “Lords of Tallahassee.” There is nothing in the Constitution that says local governments must even exist. Poof! And the City of Stuart or Ocean Breeze becomes just a memory.
WHY SO SECRET?
On occasion I will go on the BOCC website and look through the commissioners’ emails.
It is fascinating stuff to see what their constituents and others are interested in writing about to the commissioners. Some are obviously cut and paste campaigns. Others are people asking for help from their elected representatives. A few are by a commissioner asking a county employee for information. Taken together, they paint a picture of what is on the mind of Martin County.
At the City of Stuart, they do not place commissioner emails online. Anyone who is interested in seeing what people are writing to the commission about must make a public records request. Why such secrecy? The clerk’s office will send the information to the requestor, but in the name of transparency, why aren’t they just available for all to see?
The same is true for Don Donaldson, the county administrator, and his emails. It would also be great to see what people are writing to the Stuart city manager to inquire about or inform. With today’s technology, it isn’t much of a burden to have emails placed online for the public’s viewing. So why the hesitation?
Stuart, like Martin County, is a big enough government that it should be mandatory for these public records to be always available. In general, the more sunshine the better. It would go a long way from dispelling conspiracy theories that can rapidly take hold in today’s world.
Commissioners sometimes need to be dragged into the sunshine. Staff may need a push to get that accomplished. At some point, I believe the Florida Legislature will require it, along with video recorded meetings on websites. The public should demand it.
I remember when Stuart had to be dragged into having their meetings recorded and online. Troy McDonald and I were two of the commissioners that pushed it to happen. It may be time for Troy to insist that this next step occur now. Stuart citizens need to know that there is nothing to hide.
The only difference between the county and city is the commitment to openness. Stuart currently lacks that, and all municipalities should embrace it. After reading the BOCC emails I sometimes feel sorry for what those commissioners must endure. Maybe if Stuart put theirs online, I would feel the same measure of sympathy.
As Published In Martin County Moments
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By Keith Fletcher CEO & President of
Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County
Many of the kids in our care often grow up knowing things that belie their tender ages. That’s because the conditions in their neighborhoods often force them to grow up fast.
At the Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County (BGCMC), we recognize that preparing them for success means widening their awareness of the larger world.
Thanks to our network of generous business partners, our members enjoy open invitations to immersion experiences in worlds where they would otherwise lack access.
Martin Health Cleveland Clinic remakes our clubs into operating rooms. Doctors and nurses equip the kids with scrubs and gloves and lead them through mock surgeries. The aim is equal parts education and inspiration, hopefully awakening a love of medicine in the next generation of physicians and caregivers.
Starting this summer, Cleveland Clinic will offer our members chances to earn certifications in Basic Life Support and Advanced Life Support as well as opportunities to gain paid internships.
Recently, we partnered with Mattamy Homes for its first-ever event at Newfield, the new town proposed for Palm City as envisioned and articulated to a welcoming community reception by Knight Kiplinger, nationally known financial journalist, and editor of The Kiplinger Letter.
Mattamy’s “First Planting” event showcased what will become Newfield Farm, a 100-acre sustainable ag operation where future Newfield residents and the broader public will shop for vegetables and fruits at its coming green market. Our members planted seasonal vegetables and thanks to Mattamy will return over the weeks and months to cultivate their plantings.
In addition to learning about agriculture and food origins—essential to our nutrition and healthy lifestyles emphasis—the experience might inspire a future organic farmer. Our relationship with Mattamy Homes extends beyond the farms. We’re teaming up on a carpentry program so our members can learn more about homebuilding and the construction industry.
Our Digital Vibez enables our aspiring musicians and creative types to work with experienced songwriters. Club members choose a song topic, develop beats, create lyrics and rhymes, and take part in recording, producing and even performing a video of their song.
The Paws to Read program features four-legged furry friends (of the canine variety) from the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast. Our members read to the dogs, comforting the children and pups. The dogs enjoy the company and the children—especially those still mastering reading aloud—appreciate doing so in front of a judgement-free audience.
Many others—FPL, Indian River State College, Martin County Sheriff’s Office, Stuart Police, Everglades Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, House of Hope, to name a few—open their doors to BGCMC members, making seemingly simple field trips special enough to possibly spark lifelong, lifechanging, pursuits.
We can’t change the tough lessons many of our members have learned growing up. But we can introduce them to the possibilities—and remind them of their potential—if they keep looking up. And we’re incredibly grateful for our business partners who help make a fresh perspective up close and personal.
Keith Fletcher’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint
By Darlene VanRiper
Everything You Need To Know About the Little Flying Blood Sucking Vampires in Martin County
It just rained, thankfully. I understand that mosquitoes will be more bothersome after it rains. But I was noticing them prior to that …in a drought! So were some of my neighbors on Nextdoor. One person in particular was blaming our Board of County Commissioners.
I needed to find out exactly what our county staff do for us concerning the 39 species of flying vampires that plague us here. That there are so many species is just one of the fun facts I learned from Roxanne Baudelaire, the Mosquito Control Manager for Martin County. The ever-helpful Commissioner Jenkins put me in touch with Roxanne.
The first thing I asked Roxanne was whether this is an outlying year or are we imagining more mosquitos than in other years. NOT an outlier. But it is Spring. And there are pockets of wetlands that stay wet all year round. I live in Hobe Sound. Johnathan Dickinson State Park backs up to my neighborhood. Within it are wetlands. And while mosquitos have only a 2-week lifespan, they can travel up to 3 miles.
I was surprised to find out that this problem is tackled on many levels, even by airplane and mosquito eating fish. I had seen the trucks come by to spray but did not realize that a staff of 13 people is dedicated to ridding us of these little vampires. They identify and spray breeding sites. (Great job if you can get it.)
They visit at least 20 traps countywide in order to monitor the blood suckers’ population. They do this daily.
How much does all this cost? According to Roxanne, the FY2023 Adopted Budget for Mosquito Control is $1,601,406 (Pages 398-401 https://www.martin.fl.us/resources/fy2023-adopted-budget). The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) provides grant funding annually. Grant funds vary depending on available state funding and the size of the recipient mosquito control program. Martin County Mosquito Control received $78,578.57 for the fiscal year 2023. I imagine we taxpayers pick up the rest of the tab which is $1,522,828 annually.
I was impressed with the knowledge, professionalism and transparency offered by Roxanne. She wanted to be sure the citizens of Martin knew of all resources available to them. The following was provided by her:
- Several resources are available to our residents on the County’s website. Residents can enter service requests (Request for Service) from the homepage on the County’s website. Alternatively, residents can submit Requests for Service on the Mosquito Control webpage (https://www.martin.fl.us/MosquitoControl) under the Services Provided tab. This is also where our Constant Contact program can be found (https://www.martin.fl.us/PriorNotification). Constant Contact/Prior Notification is a free service that notifies enrolled residents when their areas are scheduled for evening mosquito fogging (both ground-based and aerial). Email notifications are sent to enrolled residents at 3 pm on the day fogging is scheduled for their area.
- Additional tabs on our webpage provide a Spraying Area Lookup Map to see where evening treatments are occurring, mosquito bite prevention tips, mosquito basics with FAQs, and copies of the labels for the products we use.
- The primary phone number for Mosquito Control is 772-419-6974 should residents need additional information or assistance with the Request for Service system.
My question is can I call Mosquito Control at 2am when that one little vampire is hovering just next to my ear?
Darlene VanRiper’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.
By Nicki van Vonno
Paradise and Poetry
In “The Half Known Life: In Search of Paradise” Pico Iyer teaches us how to find paradise in a war weary world. We wander Persia, Tibet, Korea, Japan, Australia, Sri Lanka, and the Middle East. Iyer finds paradise in each place.
We wander with local guides cast by deceased SAG Union members now assigned to God’s Central Casting Office to find each hidden garden, each curated by centuries of sacred wandering by earlier seekers. Paradise means something different to each seeker, to each culture, in each landscape, whether on earth, in the afterlife, or in poetry. (I know it when I feel an Amen coming on. Emily knew it when it took the top of her head off)
In Persia Iranians live in a harsh environment, and in Iran, Persians are Shia, a very distinct minority surrounded by a hostile land, housing hostile neighbors. Iyer notes that they “have been given license to dissemble if only to ensure their survival.”
This is National Poetry Month, established in 1969. The Academy of American Poets sent me a poster. In April I can read a poem a day or better yet, write one. At the end of April there will be a reading by many stars of stage and screen of great poetry.
Wanderers trod the sacred places of the earth hearing again the drumming, the dreaming, the raining tears of the wayward winds, the moaning of a people shackled. The bargain of slaver and enslaved begins in the swampy muck, chains of sable skinned mostly naked humans driven by whips and dogs and guns. Thank God our prayers in this season of drought and fire has been heard. On lord preserves our trees and poems that called our mortal world and us into being. Let us wander your sacred paths anew.
Let us tell our stories.
My sister Twinkle went to Paradise on Easter Sunday. She left us as she began, grasping for breath. She waited for Jesus and as the Easter egg hunts began, she slipped away. It was our father’s birthday. There was a delightful irony in this.
Daddy’s birthday always got lost in the drama of our mom’s life. To divorce in the early 1960s was scandalous. When the railroad transferred him to Baltimore, his absence became just another fact of life. Twinkle died on Daddy’s birthday.
She has restored him to our family tree. No more will his life and death be tangled up with the many springtime born kin and the tangled family leaves of time. Humans are just the universe examining itself and saying AHHH.
Poetry is the language of the soul, of the earth, of life.
Read me and weep.
Nicki van Vonno’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.
By David Hafner
I wanted to start with a cow joke, but you’ve probably herd them all. Ba-dum-bum-ching.
How dairy open his article like that! I’m sorry. I’ll stop with the jokes, but I will continue with the agricultural education. I’ve never worked at a dairy, but I do know many dairy farmers and I respect their dedication to their animals and to feeding us. So, let’s talk about the dairy industry!
Dairy cows are great up cyclers. Though they have a strict diet that is monitored by veterinarians and cow nutritionists, the ingredients in their diet can range from corn silage and hay to Skittles and old doughnuts. Food waste is often fed through farms rather than sending all the discarded or unwanted produce and food items to the dump.
There are dairy farmers who milk their cows and send all the milk to the processor and there are dairy farmers who hold back some of their milk to make items that can be sold at a higher value. These items are called value added products in the industry. Value added products could be pudding, like my friend Beth makes at Echo Farm Pudding in New Hampshire. It could be cheese like Kevin and Shelby Lussier make at Hawthorne Creek Creamery just outside Gainesville (their Gouda is in stock in the Hobe Sound Publix). Or maybe it’s Sutton Milk ice cream which we can get locally from the Rucks family out of Okeechobee. Maybe it’s even a product like beef; not all dairy cows are good milkers, but they all have a purpose.
No matter how the dairy operates and sells their milk, no matter if the dairy is in Wisconsin, New York, Washington, Florida or elsewhere, no matter if the cows are barn kept or out in a pasture, no matter if the dairy has 300 cows or 3,000 cows, the dairy farmer more than likely works on that farm just about every day of the year. A dairy farmer is married to the farm and everything in a dairy farmer’s life that isn’t farm work must be scheduled in between milking times.
One reason for this is farm labor is hard to secure and reliable labor is even harder. On top of that, and this is something I talk with my children about often on our farm, farmers need laborers who are attentive to the animals and are observant to the signs the animal may be showing. A cow cannot say, “Excuse me, my stomach hurts”, but the cow does act in a way that a good observer will notice early and so they can give that animal the right thing to give it comfort and bring it back to health.
Before you listen to one more word about cattle and the environment or how cows are treated on farms, I ask that you seek out farmers who openly share their farm with outsiders- even if only virtually- and see for yourself the care that these animals get. And don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Quick dairy fun facts:
- Cows don’t have four stomachs, but their stomach does have four compartments.
- They don’t have top teeth in the front of their mouth. Instead, they have a hard plate.
- 98% of all farms, including dairies, are family farms.
David Hafner’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.
HOPE IN OUR COMMUNITY
CEO for House of Hope
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” This quote goes back thousands of years to Hippocrates, the father of medicine.
That is how long we have understood the connection between health and diet. It underscores the reality that healthy eating and nutrition is essential for good health and the prevention of chronic illness. Here at House of Hope we are also painfully aware of another reality that for tens of thousands of our neighbors, the cost of eating well prevents the act of eating well.
This is where House of Hope comes in. Even with the wide range of services we offer beyond our four food pantries, such as case management, financial assistance, nutrition education, career support, enrichment programs and more, food insecurity is still what drives over 70% of new clients to our doors. So almost five years ago we made the decision to improve the quality and quantity of healthy foods available to our clients in our pantries.
It was not that long ago when a typical year at House of Hope saw about 80,000 pounds of produce move through our pantries and to our partners. A substantial portion of that produce was toward the end of its shelf life, with diminished nutritional value and appeal. Last year, we distributed nearly 600,000 pounds of high quality, fresh fruits and vegetables to our clients and partner agencies.
Three amazing opportunities drove this remarkable improvement in our capacity. First, House of Hope established a partnership with Farm Share. They are a statewide non-profit organization that receives huge donations of fresh produce and other foods and shares them with partners across Florida. House of Hope is a proud Farm Share distributor, receiving weekly donations of produce that we distribute through our pantries and our partner network.
This has allowed us to assist agencies across Martin, St. Lucie, and Okeechobee Counties, and even into Palm Beach County. Next, our partnership with CROS Ministries grew to new levels. House of Hope and CROS share similar values and goals, and we are so fortunate to partner with them in their gleaning program, where we recruit volunteers to assist in picking fresh produce at commercial farms for use in feeding our communities. Last year we received over 100,000 pounds of fresh produce through this incredible program. To learn more about gleaning visit www.hohmartin.org/gleaning.
Last, we established Growing Hope Farm. Today our farm has approximately 65,000 cubic feet of hydroponic greenhouse growing space, a small grove of fruit trees, and a variety of in-ground crops. This is all possible through another valuable partnership and the generosity of Palm City Farms Produce & Market.
We also operate four nutrition gardens and a traveling garden. While these do provide some food, they are more valuable as the foundation of our nutrition education programs that reach over 3,000 children and adults with education and information centered on healthy habits and the impact of diet on overall health and well-being.
To access our programs and services, or to learn how you may assist in our success for our community, please visit us at www.hohmartin.org.
Rob Ranieri’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint
MICHELE’S MEDICAL MOMENT
By Michele Libman M.D.
What’s New With Regard To High Cholesterol
According to the CDC, approximately every 40 seconds an American will have a Heart Attack! Sadly, Cardiac Disease is still the number one killer of both men and women in the US. Compared to other developed countries, the United States has the second highest mortality rate for ischemic heart disease. This is mostly due to the fact that we have staggering obesity rates due to the high consumption of fast food, sedentary lifestyles and cigarette smoking.
We know that one of the risk factors for developing coronary artery disease is high cholesterol. In fact, due to the obesity epidemic in the United States it is now recommended that children between the ages of 9-11 have their cholesterol checked and then again between 17 -21. Children with diabetes should have their cholesterol checked frequently.
The decision to take medicine to lower your cholesterol should be based on what your lifetime risk of developing a heart attack or stroke is. The American College of Cardiology has devised a Cardiac Risk Calculator that determines your risk over the next 10 years. It considers your age, gender, race, cholesterol numbers, blood pressure and whether or not you are diabetic or a smoker. A simple search of the internet will allow you to pull up a cardiac risk calculator and plug in your information and determine your risk. If your risk is over 7.5% then lipid lowering therapy is recommended.
In addition to the cardiac risk calculator, there are other tests that can help stratify your risk for heart disease. Some cardiologists have started measuring levels of ApoB. ApoB is a protein that helps carry cholesterol through the blood stream. Measuring ApoB tells us the number of cholesterol carrying particles in your bloodstream, which is the most important risk factor for heart disease.
Other tests like LDL-C measure the concentration of cholesterol, which can be misleading as only small sized LDL particles cause atherogenic plaque and larger fluffier LDL particles are nowhere near as dangerous. Recent studies have shown that ApoB testing is a more accurate measure of heart disease risk than other tests.
In addition to blood tests, another useful test is the coronary calcium score. This noninvasive test uses CT imaging to detect calcium deposits in the coronary arteries of your heart. A higher coronary calcium score suggests you have a higher chance of significant narrowing in the coronary arteries and a higher risk of future heart attack.
This test is recommended for those people between the ages of 40-70 years old who are at increased risk of heart disease but do not have symptoms. This includes people with a family history of heart disease, past or current smoking history, being overweight, having an inactive lifestyle and having diabetes or high blood pressure.
Finally, as we know there are many people who are intolerant of statin medications. Fortunately, there is a new class of medications that are as effective if not more effective at lowering cholesterol. PCSK9 inhibitors are being hailed as a game changer by many experts.
In your liver there are cells that have receptors that remove excess cholesterol in your blood stream, but another protein called PCSK9 destroys these receptors. This new class of drug binds to these proteins and blocks them from working. The result is more receptors can do their job and lower the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood.
A review of the studies done on PCSK9 drugs found that they reduce LDL levels by an average of 47%!! This helps protect your heart and can reduce the risk of heart attacks by almost 30%! When combined with statins these drugs can lower LDL levels by more than half. Unfortunately, these medications are currently only available in injectable form and are very expensive. An oral form of the medication is currently in phase 2 trials.
With the current technology at our disposal coronary artery disease will hopefully soon no longer be the killer that it is today.
Michele Libman’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint
MARTIN COUNTY REAL ESTATE
By John Gonzalez
Who is moving to Martin County?
I won’t get into the politics of growth – although I have my well formulated opinions – but there are a lot of newcomers coming to our little town. Who are they and where are they coming from is a common question I get asked by my friends and clients.
Historically, most new residents have come from the Northeast. This is still the predominant group of newcomers. The latest trend that I see, in my daily life, is the influx of buyers that are coming from different regions of Florida. Normally, we see South Florida residents coming to our town but recently l have encountered more buyers from Northeast, Central and Southwest, Florida. What is unique amongst these new arrivals?
Younger buyers are coming to our town. We have thought of Stuart as a retirement community for many years. The pandemic (how cliché) changed so much about our society and real estate trends are included.
Millennials and Gen Z buyers are coming, and they have buying power. They can work from anywhere – why not choose a slice of paradise. A luxury real estate firm coined the phrase ” Emerging affluence”, which refers to first-time homebuyers, made up of millennials and Gen Z, who are making over $100,000 in yearly household income. The most important factors in deciding where to purchase their first home are neighborhood vibe, walkability, and proximity to both restaurants and work.
“Baby boomers will continue to have a lasting effect on our economy, empowering millennials with financial means to largely drive the buy side of the real estate market in the years to come,” said Anthony Hitt, president and CEO, Engel & Völkers Americas.
We are the best of all worlds. Not only do you find every desirable trait a newcomer desires in a neighborhood – add in perfect climate, waterways, and beaches – who wouldn’t want to move here as soon as they are able. It is no longer 65 or 70, it’s 40- or 50-year-olds that are migrating to our region. So, your new neighbor may be a millennial with money who spends a lot of time working from home. The desirability of working in a small town that is close to major transportation hubs is our great driver.
Hopefully, this answers the who and why the buyers are coming to Martin County. Sellers can still get great returns for their homes because good inventory is still below historical levels. We are in a market that still favors the seller if the home is in top notch condition and ready for a new family.
Our latest stats are here:
John Gonzalez’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint
PALM CITY HIGHLIGHTS
By Missi Campbell
Executive Director of the Palm City Chamber
Sometimes things you have no control over are just meant to be.
As a young girl of 12, I didn’t have much to say about where my family chose to live. We had moved all over south Florida, Delaware for a year, and Freeport, Grand Bahama for 3 ½ years before our family settled in Jensen Beach. I realize how fortunate that was for me and my children.
My father was an electrical contractor, and he was transferred to where the company felt he was needed most. Each time we moved, it was a transition for me, my mom, and my brother. I believe this is part of the reason for my more outgoing personality because I was constantly meeting and making new friends.
I bring this up because we are constantly hearing about how fabulous Martin County is and that it is special. Often, people say it is unique due to the “small town charm,” the wonderful location, and the controlled growth. It may be all of these, but I believe the number one reason that Martin County is so fabulous is the people.
I taught in the Martin County School District for 34 years. Each year, I would get a new crop of little learners that would blossom and grow throughout the school year into wonderful young people. I have had the opportunity to stay in touch with many of my former students and I am proud of every one of them.
When I retired, I chose to get involved in the business and community part of our county by becoming the Executive Director of the Palm City Chamber of Commerce. I have held this position for 3 ½ years now and I am learning more each day.
I now understand why Martin County has so many non-profit organizations because we NEED them. The philosophy at the Palm City Chamber is that if we have a strong community then we will foster a strong business community. This is why we highlight a Non-Profit of the Month each month. The purpose is to get the mission of each of our non-profits out to the community so that citizens realize what is available when they are in need, or so that residents can find an organization that they can be passionate about to volunteer their time or donate financially.
For me personally, I have recently lost my amazing mother. Before she passed, she was at Treasure Coast Hospice and her care was beyond amazing. Every person we encountered was kind, caring, and passionate.
The friends that I have made in Martin County came through to support my family and me during this difficult time. It makes me extremely grateful to my parents for choosing to live in Martin County way back in 1974 when it was very quaint. Maybe instead of the “Sailfish Capital of the World” we could rename it to “Martin County where your community cares.”
Missi Campbell’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint
BY Capt. Paul Sperco
It is April 18 and anyone who was waiting for the pompano to bite on the beach, the waiting is over.
The fish showed up in big numbers last week and are being caught from Juno to Fort Pierce. The best action has been right here in South Martin County at the public beach and the National Wildlife Refuge Beach in Hobe Sound. The traditional late afternoon springtime activity has been on fire with the best action from 4 to 7 pm.
EZ Flea Fishbites has been the go-to bait this week and I had a nice catch this past weekend just using EZ Flea. The hours around the high tide mark have seen the most bites and days when the tide is high in the late afternoon have produced some big numbers. The best news is the anglers south of us in Palm Beach County are still catching them too and I do not see any reason why this pompano action won’t continue through mid-May.
One tip I want to share is make sure you do not overcast the fish. The areas 40 to 60 yards from the surf has been super productive and this usually occurs in the spring. Along with the beach producing I am happy to report the Indian River lagoon is alive with a species list that includes pompano, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, big croakers, and ladyfish.
This bite has just started in the past couple of days so get out your light rods and 3/8- and 1/2-ounce yellow goofy jigs and get to the bridges. There have also been reports of schools of tarpon and big jacks along our beaches and as the water temperature continues rising, the bait schools will continue their southward migration and those predators will be right on top of them.
The weather is hot and so is our local fishing so grab a rod and go play tug of war with any of the species I have mentioned. Good luck and catch em up.
Paul Sperco’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint
By Victoria Defenthaler
Retired Martin County Educator & School Board Member
Providing children with instruction from highly qualified teachers should be what is first and foremost on the minds of parents and educators. However, the endless attacks on education force school districts to focus on all the new headline-making legislation coming from the state legislature.
- Mask debates
- “Parental Rights in Education Act”
- “Stop W.O.K.E. act”, bansschools from teaching anything that could make anyone feel “guilt, anguish or any form of psychological distress” because of their race, gender, sex, or national origin.
- Book Bans, parents are encouraged to pursue the removal of books from schools until they are vetted
- “Don’t Say Gay“ bill, prohibits educators from discussing gender or sexuality with students
- Rule limiting access to special testing for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities
- Rejection of an Advanced Placement course on African American studies, saying the course “significantly lacks educational value”
- Voucher expansion, and the list goes on….
These mandates have created fear and chaos in school districts because they are vague and confusing. Educators are treated like the enemy. Remarks are made by school board members, legislators, and even the governor himself to disparage staff, and educators are expected to do their bidding without question or input.
Media specialists were required to attend training outlining the criteria for vetting library books followed by hours spent vetting books, and teachers removed their classroom libraries that took many years to build until books could be vetted. This means students have lost access to books and this has limited their learning.
Teachers and administrators breaking this law could be found guilty of a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. This fear-based, threatening culture is driving educators away from their career and passion for positively impacting students’ learning and lives. Currently, there are more than 72 teacher vacancies in the Martin County School District.
Who is most affected and caught in the middle of these political antics? CHILDREN! We will find in the years to come that they were part of the collateral damage. This generation of children lost precious learning time as a result of the pandemic. They returned to school only to have their education negatively impacted due to the culture wars taking place. I cannot imagine the amount of instructional time they continue to lose due to excessive testing, lack of qualified teachers, and the political circus that continues to swirl around them.
Not only is this generation of children affected by the present political landscape, the lack of access to literature and experienced teachers, but they also must contend with bullying, lock down drills and fear of a possible active shooter at any moment in time. The toll on their academic and social/emotional growth and well-being will not be evidenced for years to come.
Victoria Defenthaler’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint
By Arati Hammond
Senior Real Estate Specialist at Keller Williams
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Downsizing or upsizing your house is one of the tougher challenges baby boomers and seniors need to grapple with. Start by asking yourself these five questions:
- Is maintaining your house starting to wear you down?
- Are you comfortable managing your daily routines?
- Can you get around to stores, restaurants, and social activities?
- How much support would you have in an emergency?
- Will loved ones worry about you and do your children need peace of mind that you’re safe?
Upsizing Not Downsizing
Here’s a surprise. Most assume that the bulk of retirees move to downsize. In fact, 49% actually upsize. Some do it to comfortably accommodate visitors, including children and grandchildren, from out-of-town.
Other retirees find themselves in a boomerang situation (16%) with adult children returning to live with them. Between 1980 and 2010 the number of multigenerational households doubled from 11% to 22%.
Emotional Connections to Home
And while the move, frequently to a sunshine state, is thought to be a norm, one-third of respondents expect to stay where they are throughout retirement both because of emotional connections with their home and town and because the house is a financial asset.
Many opt to renovate their existing home to make it more attractive, comfortable, and friendlier for aging in place.
Remodeling also entails technological upgrades to make homes more connected and secure and less costly to maintain.
Some of those upgrades include apps that control appliances and smart thermostats to reduce utility bills.
Three-quarters look to technology for monitoring their health through sensors, alerts, and medication reminders, and 64% are interested in technology that lets them better connect with family and friends through video chat, for example.
Preparing for the Future
Some topics to consider when you’re thinking about the future and making housing decisions.
Here are five items.
- When deciding where to live in retirement or whether to move, think of future life stages and priorities regarding things like affordability, climate, proximity to family and friends, recreational or cultural activities, and opportunities for continued work. Test-drive potential relocation areas by making long visits or doing short-term rentals.
- Weigh the expenses associated with all of your options. Those include things like income, mortgage or rent payments, property taxes, relocation expenses, along with any renovations you’d like to make for aesthetics or for aging-in-place purposes.
- Determine whether paying off your mortgage before retirement would be beneficial to your long-term plan.
- Have a strategy for long-term care and determine the options that would let you receive care where you most prefer, whether that’s at home or in assisted living.
5. Consider the home modifications – both physical ones, like installing a ramp, and technological ones for, say, remote health monitoring – along with the services needed for you to remain in your own house should you face health challenges.
Arati Hammond’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint
MARTIN COUNTY TAX COLLECTOR
By Ruth Pietruszewski
WHAT IS A TAX CERTIFICATE SALE
What is a tax certificate?
A tax certificate is a first lien against real estate (not the owner) and can become the basis for a tax deed application. The tax certificate sale is NOT a sale of real property, nor does a tax certificate give the certificate holder a direct means to acquire a property. According to Florida Statute 197.432 (13), “The holder of a tax certificate may not directly, through an agent, or otherwise initiate contact with the owner of property upon which he or she holds a tax certificate to encourage or demand payment until 2 years after April 1st of the year of issuance of the tax certificate.”
It is your sole responsibility to research any tax lien certificates you intend to buy. You can see additional property and tax information for any item by clicking on the Account or Parcel Number on the auction web site. Research any advertised items carefully before submitting bids. There are potential risks associated with tax certificate purchases. All purchases in the tax certificate sale are final.
When does the tax certificate sale take place?
The 2023 Martin County Tax Certificate Sale will be available starting on May 10, 2023, and closes June 1, 2023.
- Items for sale are advertised (in a local newspaper and on the auction web site)
- Bidders can begin to register for the sale (submit W-9 forms, pay deposits, get bidder numbers)
- Bidders can begin to submit bids
- Starting on, or before, June 1:
- Bid submission ends
- Sale results are generated
For exact dates, please see the Auction Schedule. All activity related to registration, bidding, and certificate awards takes place on the auction web site, Lienhub.com.
How do I register for the sale?
All bidders who wish to participate in the sale must perform the following steps on the auction web site:
- Obtain a User ID and password for the web site by clicking the “Register” link on the home page and completing the required form
- Submit an IRS W-9 form
- Submit information necessary to process redemption payments by ACH
- Set a budget amount (the most you are willing to spend in the sale)
- Pay a deposit of at least 10% of your anticipated purchases
- Submit a Single Bidder Agreement
Please note that you can only submit or modify your W-9 or make a security deposit while a sale is open. You will be assigned a bidder number after you successfully submit your W-9.
How do I pay my deposit?
Deposits are accepted by ACH initiated on the auction web site and must be made before bids can be submitted.
How do I submit my bids?
You can submit your bids on the Bid page individually, as a group (using a saved list), or via a file upload. You must complete all the registration steps before you are allowed to submit bids.
How do I pay for certificate purchases?
Payment must be made by ACH. The balance due for your purchases will be automatically debited from the bank account you designated as your “Final Payment Account” at the designated Final Payment Deadline. If you wish to manually make your payment prior to the Final Payment Deadline, please go to the “Payments and Budget” page under “My Account” and click “Pay for Certificates”. The button is activated once the last batch in the sale closes, and any final data updates are complete. The deadline to pay is listed on the Auction Schedule. If your final payment is returned as invalid for any reason, you may forfeit your security deposit and certificate purchases.
What is an ACH debit?
An ACH debit is an electronic payment from your checking or savings account. When you enter your bank account information and submit payment on the auction web site, you are authorizing the Tax Collector to debit your account for the amount you indicated. All payments are sent for processing immediately. Additional information is available on the page where you authorize payment.
Funds must be drawn from a US financial institution. Some types of money market, brokerage, and/or trust accounts cannot accept ACH debits. Please check with your financial institution prior to initiating payment on the web site.
Ruth Pietruszewski’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint
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CONSTITUTIONAL CORNER & NON PROFIT NOTICES
SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS
Hibiscus Children’s Center
Keeping Children Safe Every Day
Martin County – April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. This national observance is dedicated to raising awareness, preventing child abuse and recognizing the importance of working together to strengthen families. According to national reports, a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds in the U.S., more than 4 million referrals are made annually to child protection agencies and on average, 5 children die each day due to abuse and neglect. These are disturbing statistics but many individuals, businesses and organizations work tirelessly to help ensure children are no longer statistics but are protected, loved and have the opportunity to thrive in life. Hibiscus Children’s Center has been doing just that for over 37 years along with our wonderful community by our side.
Hibiscus provides children who have suffered severe trauma with life-changing services. Children like Sabrina find safety, love and healing every day at the Tilton Family Children’s Shelter in Jensen Beach. Sabrina was 10 when she was placed at the Hibiscus Shelter. She had never been to school, never played outdoors and was unfamiliar with normal social behaviors. This young girl’s life was filled with uncertainty and a deep lack of social skills. The Hibiscus Mental Health Therapist immediately began working with Sabrina to help her sort through the issues she was dealing with and staff enrolled her in school. She was behind academically but excited to be learning and making new friends.
Over time, Sabrina made great progress learning how to handle social situations, how to get along with other children and enjoying the fun of childhood. A year later, Sabrina was able to return home to her father and they are both doing very well. Sabrina has improved her grades and behavior and is excited for the future. Thank you to our wonderful community, you have helped to make a significant difference in the lives of children just like Sabrina. For more information about Hibiscus’ services and how you can get involved, please visit us at HibiscusChildrensCenter.org.
Competition is Heating Up for House of Hope’s 2023 Top Chef Event
STUART, Fla. – Defending champ Katie Ertz, the Top Chef of 2022, returns to the House of Hope Top Chef competition on May 8 to take on five new challengers for the coveted title of Top Chef of 2023.
The District Table & Bar in Stuart is once again hosting the competition, turning over their food preparation facilities and restaurant seating for the evening to support the mission of House of Hope.
Jessica Bohner, Paula Hundt, Kelly Johnson, JD Lewis IV, and Jeanne Schmelzenbach will join Katie Ertz at the District as they test their culinary talents against this year’s challenge: in just 45 minutes, transform ingredients from a surprise pantry of items commonly found in House of Hope’s Client Choice pantries and nutrition gardens into a dish that will wow the judges.
“This is a really fun and lively event,” said House of Hope Chief Executive Officer Rob Ranieri. “Our volunteer chefs, none of whom are actually professional chefs, always surprise and impress us with the dishes they prepare.”
The event also has a serious side. House of Hope is seeing an ever-increasing number of Martin County residents who are food insecure and need the services of the organization to feed their families. Funds raised from this fun, food event will go directly to feeding hungry neighbors.
A panel of volunteer judges, made up of local notables and professional chefs, will critique the cuisine presented to them. They will award prizes to the Top Dish and to the Top Fundraiser, with the Overall designation of Top Chef going to the chef who excels in a combination of both categories.
New this year is the chance for guests to purchase a raffle ticket and win the opportunity to sample a dish or two as the chefs are preparing their prize-winning entries.
The event begins at 7 p.m. at the District and promises, as always, to be a sold-out event. Sponsors to date include Andy & Lorraine Popky, R.V. Johnson Insurance/Auto Owners Insurance, Stifel Investment Services, Culver’s of Stuart and Jensen, Byers Auto Group, HBKS Wealth Advisors, Russell & Dianne Weller, Lotus Loft, Deborah Lovequist, Diane Warren, and the Wong Family Foundation.
There are still sponsorship opportunities available, and each chef is still busily raising funds. To support a favorite chef or sponsor the event, contact House of Hope at Events@hohmartin.org or (772) 286-4673 ext. 1031
Piper’s Landing Holds Golf Tournament Fundraiser for SafeSpace
On February 21, 2023 the Pipers Landing Women’s 18 Hole Golf Association (PLWGA) held a Golf Tournament Charity Event for SafeSpace, the only state certified agency serving domestic violence victims and their children in Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties. Members of the PLWGA and other members of the Piper’s Landing community supported the event by sponsoring golf holes, making donations, buying raffle tickets and auction items. The event co-chaired by Nancy Wong and Rosemary Burns included a luncheon with a live auction conducted by Mik Panavas, silent auction and a tea cup raffle of over 60 items and a talk by SpaceSafe CEO Teresa Albizu.
The event raised $26,535 which included over $3,000 from about 50 PLWGA members who paid to buy welcome bags/purses containing personal hygiene and toiletry items to give to domestic violence victims when they enter the emergency shelter, many of whom come with nothing but the clothes they are wearing. This helps defray the costs of about 50 bags SafeSpace will give to victims who come to the shelter for safety.
Albizu shared that besides a hotline and emergency shelters, SafeSpace also provides a wide range of other services to victims seeking help inside and outside the shelter such as, safety planning, mental health counseling for victims and their children, legal assistance, financial literacy training, child protective services, youth violence prevention education, and more – all free of charge.
“Federal and state grants cover only about half of the agency’s expenses,” says Albizu, “so SafeSpace is very grateful to Piper’s Landing for raising over $26,000 to help us sustain the programs and services that will help victims become survivors and transition to a life free from violence.”
The Charity Event would not have been successful without the donations of items for the auctions and raffles from PLWGA members and Piper’s Landing staff, as well as from others in the Martin County community: Diane Anthony’s Permanent Make-Up, Frank Bianco/Miracle Jewelry Exchange, Marjorie Collins Massage Therapist, Lourdes Cortina/Tapas by Lourdes, Cat Kaltenhauser Personal Trainer, Dr. Charles Oliveri/Spinal Health & Wellness Center, Michelle Radich/Alyce & Co., Sailfish Point Golf Club, The Gafford and The Lyric Theatre.
Piper’s Landing could not have held this fundraiser without the help of its many volunteers. They are: Susan Ash, Zenta Barger, Nancy Bowden, Michele Bragg, Lois Brooks, Sue Chase, Sandra Conley, Micki Dion, Pattie Dunn, Sonita Farr, Barbara Flynn, Ann Grace, Linda Harlan, Maryann Kiely, Shirley Kohl, Gretchen Kundahl, Deborah Lovequist, Shirley MacDonald, Judy Papayanakos, Nancy Patterson, Leslie Robinson, Mary Sabbatelli, Mary Simpson, Ellen South and Helene Young.
For more information about SafeSpace, visit www.safespacefl.org or call 772-223-2399. Hotline help is available 24/7 at 772-288-7023.
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Nothing that I want to publish this week.
THE TUNNEL 2
This a follow up to my reporting on “The Tunnel That No One Claimed” here
I spoke with Representative Snyder last week regarding the $6.5 million appropriation for a tunnel under Kanner Highway to connect the 2 sections of Three Lakes Golf Course from one side to the other. The appropriation was filed as a local government request even though it was signed by an employee of the owner of the property. (You can find the link to the appropriation here
Though Don Donaldson, the county administrator, is listed as the party to contact for information, he did not sign any of the paperwork. Donaldson is claiming that it was not the county’s request in any way, shape, or form. But the money, if it had been appropriated by the state, would have gone to Martin County to administer.
Snyder told me that it was filed as a local government request though apparently no one in his office thoroughly went through the paperwork to make sure that it was. The person who filed it works directly for one of the partners of Three Lakes and not Martin County. Representative Snyder said it was too late to pull it but that there was no way the money would be appropriated. He went on to say that, in the future, he would require a resolution to have an attachment showing that the local government approved the request in a unanimous vote.
Some individual commissioners have told me that they would not vote to accept the money for this purpose from the state. Martin County staff in some way knew that the developer was looking for state funds for the project. The commissioners, while not running the day-to-day activities of the government, do oversee policy and the actions of the administrator. What are they going to do to make sure this does not happen again?
In my opinion, most commissioners stick to their lane and stay out of the nitty gritty of operations. At present I don’t see this being discussed at a public meeting as to how it occurred. If they sweep this under the rug, it will inevitably happen again.
There is a duty to insist publicly that no individual commissioner pushes the process or county staff into unilateral action without full commission consent by giving Donaldson and Attorney Woods specific instructions to that policy. Sometimes things become unpleasant and confronting the problem is the only way to give staff clear guidance.
We should expect the entire BOCC to hold each other responsible for infractions by a single commissioner. Sunshine Laws require them to do this in public and for their constituents to see it occur. There can never again be a publicly-funded tunnel benefiting a private company that no one claims.
As Published In Martin County Moments
COMMISSION MEETING APRIL 18, 2023
There was a brief discussion regarding the Best Management Practices (BMP) of golf courses as practiced today. Martin County is becoming home to some of the most exclusive private courses in the country.
While some may believe that golf courses are extensions of development, they may yet become the saviors in keeping our no longer feasible ranch and farms as open space. For a variety of reasons, farming may no longer be economically viable. The only thing left for this land is development.
As Martin County has more and more of these exclusive courses being built, it is likely that it will attract even more top-notch courses. It then becomes important about how the courses use irrigation and chemicals. For many years, golf courses were thought of as places that used inordinate amounts of water and spread chemicals to maintain the greens.
That apparently is no longer true. The golf course that was on the agenda for approval was continued. However, at the LPA meeting (I am an LPA member) it was explained that they will be using the St. Lucie Canal for their irrigation. The runoff will be treated before being allowed to go into the aquifer.
It was also explained that the nitrogen and phosphorus in the canal water that is used for irrigation is beneficial for maintaining the greens instead of applying more chemicals. They will also be using native plants for the landscaping.
Chair Ciampi asked John Maehl, Ecosystem & Restoration Manager, to give a presentation to the commission.
The board also looked at the proposed CIP list for next year. The list is a compilation of the projects that the county would like to see funded in 2024. The total cost is $108,486,311.
No one expects that the entire amount will be funded. The county administrator said as much when he told the commissioners that staff is ready to cut the amount by 50% by the effective date of October 1st when the budget year begins. Even 50% may be a high number for ultimate approval.
The commission, not wanting to disappoint anyone, approved all except for the firing and training range and the new pod for the jail. They asked that Sheriff Snyder make a presentation.
The commission does not seem to have any fiscal philosophy. For the past few years, it approved a hodge podge of projects and expenditures without laying out what is important to accomplish. This was on display most recently with Wojcieszak Park.
For years they ignored the deteriorating conditions at the park by underfunding the FARB (Fixed Asset Replacement Budget). The Parks Department came up with a plan to address many of the issues resulting from the neglect by using ARPA funds. They could do this because this was the only park that was in a poor area that qualified to use such funds.
A plan was being created by staff in conjunction with the neighborhood. But the commissioners received negative feedback from the baseball parents. To appease them, funding was taken that should have gone to other park improvements wanted by the neighborhood residents and devoted it to fixing the fields. Most of the ball players and their families are not from the neighborhood.
This is the result when there isn’t a disciplined approach to budgeting and having a sustained capital improvement vision.
That doesn’t mean our taxes will not creep up. It just means that things are funded in an undisciplined way. I would not be surprised if there won’t be a necessity to have a super majority (4 commissioners) vote because of the possible size of the rate increase to fund a budget for 2024. Or they could make no capital improvements and watch more infrastructure fall apart.
You can see the capital improvement budget here
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CITY COMMISSION MEETING APRIL 10, 2023
This was Mike Mortell’s first meeting as city manager.
It appeared to me that he did a good job. That really should come as no surprise since he was city attorney for the past decade as well as mayor and a city commissioner before that. He kept some of the duties of the city attorney by reading all the proclamations, ordinances, and resolutions. The acting city attorney was on Zoom and spoke once during the meeting.
Many times, the commission shoots itself in the foot. They did so at the last two meetings because when they gave their consent to entertain a proposal for a dog café conceptually at the dog park on Central Parkway, there was no site plan, particulars, or lease to discuss.
In a 5-0 decision at the meeting last month, they decided that the park was a great thing to have…unfortunately the neighbors, those who sail their model boats in the same area, and those that use the dog park itself were anything but enthusiastic. At the last meeting, many members of the public spoke against the café causing the commission, in a 5-0 vote, to decide to reconsider the idea at this meeting.
At the last minute, the “applicant” (if you could call someone without any application) decided to pull the request. He had been asked to do so for the entire week prior to the meeting but waited until right before the meeting to do so in an email. Of course, once again the chamber was packed with the public wanting to speak in opposition.
The commission needs to ask people to work with staff prior to presenting a new plan or idea. Once an idea or a concept becomes a solid proposal that staff believes is ready, they will bring it to the commission. Until then, there is nothing really to talk about and nothing for the public to become incensed about.
The last item was a “Discussion & Deliberation” item regarding the fate of the 2-acre parcel on Federal Highway that was supposed to be an income producing property to pay for the maintenance of Haney Creek Preserve.
A referendum was held in 2011 that authorized the proceeds from the use of the parcel for the preservation of Haney Creek. It passed with 76%. The key was that the parcel was supposed to be a money generator…it never has been. A hotel proposal and other possible projects never happened.
Even the affordable housing deal fizzled, and it would have been for less than market value for the property. Could the city make a less than market rate deal and still be following the terms of the referendum? The referendum clearly stated that the City of Stuart would not use any tax money to maintain the preserve. Unfortunately, that has never been true.
If I had been asked whether the idea of cutting out this parcel from the rest of the preserve was a good idea, I would have said no. It was the kind of cockamamie idea that only commissioners with no practical real estate experience would like. The proof is it has sat idle for the past dozen years. The entire maintenance issue should have been negotiated where the county and city split the cost of maintenance.
Should there be another referendum to incorporate the parcel into the preserve? Collins would like to see the site used for parking and a trailhead. When McDonald said there is no trail there to have a trailhead for, Collins really didn’t have an answer.
Collins is also worried about the non-city residents across Federal Highway who do not want to see development let alone the proposed fast-food franchises. Of course, since they don’t pay city taxes or vote, their opinions should be given all the weight they deserve…which is not much.
Collins’s experience regarding Haney Creek Preserve is literally that of Aristotle’s person whose mind is a “tabula rasa” or blank slate in this regard. McDonald and Clarke were around, and they remembered the promises made. Bruner thought that the promise of it being income producing should be honored. Rich echoed that sentiment because to not pursue a lease meant handing the city taxpayers a bill for $7 million plus in the rent they would not collect.
At the end, Collins once again stood alone. His argument was this is a different Stuart than 2011 when the referendum passed. It is a different Stuart, but then in many aspects it is the same. Clarke said one commission needs to honor the commitment another commission made such as the promise of not spending tax dollars on the maintenance of the preserve.
It appears that Manager Mortell had consensus to move ahead with bringing a lease to the commission for the property. I am not so sure this is a done deal. We have seen the commissioners swing in the wind when there is any opposition as there is sure to be from Palm Lake Park across Federal. I hope the staff are not wasting their time and the lease applicant’s time as well.
You can see the city attorney’s memo here
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS THE CITY ATTORNEY?
Some of you may believe I have been too critical of the commissioners and the interim city attorney in the past few issues. I don’t think I have.
When I first heard that Nicoletti was going to take the job in the short term, I believed it was the right choice. It would have been except that he is going to be away for a good part of the time. Is the arrangement where he listens on Zoom while on a cruise fair to the city?
Until the internet, working from somewhere other than an office was unthinkable. For many it may now be doable. But there are still certain functions that require the person’s physical presence. A city attorney needs to meet with staff about projects. Applicants have questions about their submissions. He needs to give his legal opinion and at least initially represent the city in court proceedings. Those things cannot be done if the person is thousands of miles away.
The commission made a mistake. Even though Nicoletti who is on a cruise was participating by Zoom at this meeting, I don’t know how much he was aware of what was going on. He only uttered a sentence or two and that was on the last item. Are the taxpayers getting their money’s worth? This taxpayer doesn’t believe he is.
Going through with this even after learning he would be away for weeks; it appears that the commission is more interested in helping a friend make a buck than safeguarding Stuart. It is wrong and needs to be corrected.
There are two chartered officers that the commission hires. One is the city manager. It looks like Mortell will be a good choice. At some point, they will have to select the next city attorney, the other direct report the commission has. From what I see in the interim selection, I am not so sure they can do it.
The optics of keeping Nicoletti are bad. It is also not in the best interest as the commission are fiduciaries for our tax dollars. Perhaps they like looking at the empty chair on the dais and playing the game ‘Where in The World Is Paul Nicoletti?” The commission owes us more than this arrangement.
A version of the City Attorney was published earlier in Martin Moments
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SCHOOL BOARD MEETING APR 18, 2024
It does not appear that the board will have any reprieve in the book wars.
Most of the meeting was given over to public comment regarding books being removed from the shelves throughout the school system. Overwhelmingly, the comments were not in favor of book removal. The questions of what to keep in and leave out of a library, or for that matter a curriculum, are not so easily made.
I don’t think anyone truly understands how a book is removed from the shelves. There is a policy about how it is done but ultimately it can be appealed to the board itself. I think the board should go over that policy step by step in public and how the board determines which books to keep, which is age appropriate and why.
I remember two books we read in high school that were both by Erich Marie Remarque. The first one was the better known “All Quiet on The Western Front.” The other was his lesser-known work “Arch of Triumph.” “All Quiet” was a brutal portrayal of the futility of war and what the trench warfare of WW I was really like. “Arch” follows the love affair of an actress and doctor in Paris between the wars and the hopelessness of the generation that survived WW I.
If the depiction of sex (even in a rather calm manner) is the only determinate, then surely the second book would be banned today. Yet “All Quiet” is so much more disturbing as men are slaughtered and death becomes routine for the survivors. Both books convey themes that are unpleasant. Should one or the other be removed?
A school board member explained to me that the member’s test would be whether the student is uncomfortable discussing the content with their parents. In my opinion, that may be too simple an explanation. Some things may be uncomfortable but a valid learning experience.
This issue is not going away. The board needs to explain its policy and how it is enforced. Parents do have a right to have their child opt out of content. Should one or two or three parents have the right to have books removed for every child?
The board is following policy when they do not speak during public comment, yet they need to educate. The board and district must continuously review their criteria so that everyone understands what it is. The debate should be not over which book is “banned” but how does any book become accepted or rejected. Right now, it seems to me the debate is more accusation than actual substance.
I would welcome having the board or their staff write something for us that we could publish outlining their steps and policies. Accusations going back and forth do not settle the problem. It is only making it worse.
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COMMISSION MEETING APRIL 12, 2023
Once again, the commission devoted a meeting to trees.
There was a resolution to place any tree fines and permit fees into a restricted account within the general fund. The money collected would then be used to further Sewall’s Point’s aims regarding maintaining their trees.
With fines and fees, the town has collected $109,842 and spent $26,565 which leaves a balance of $83,276. The money in the fund could be used to buy additional trees to give away to residents for planting on their property. A motion was made by Campo and seconded by Fender to move forward with restricting the funds. It passed 5-0.
Commissioner Campo wants to have an Arbor Day Event. He has contacted an event planner whose name he has given to the manager to begin a dialog. The commission and Daniels think the idea is great. A consensus was reached to proceed.
The town attorney and manager brought forth Chapter 70 which is the town’s tree ordinance for commission review. At the last meeting, the manager took notes and brought back what he believed was a complete incorporation of what the commission wanted. The commission once again went through it with a fine-tooth comb.
They discussed what is meant by mitigation, circumference, and when a mitigation plan is due. Again, Daniels took notes of the changes. This will be brought back as soon as possible. I wonder if there will be more changes.
You can find the chapter here
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COUNCIL MEETING APRIL 13, 2023
Once again it is time for street parties and festivals in Indiantown.
This Memorial Day weekend, which encompasses Friday-Monday, “Da Swamp Homecoming Committee” wants to hold a festival in Booker Park. The area will be closed to traffic, and the park will be completely taken over by the event. There will be vendors, food, games, a DJ and more. The theme is a big family reunion for those people who live or have lived in the neighborhood.
So why was there so much dissension associated with this seemingly good idea?
If you look at the LDRs, the issuance of a special events permit is a lengthy process. The permit application submitted to the village states the organizers will have portable rest stations. There will be a bounce house, generators and 4 tents. Then why did staff want to move it from Booker Park to Timer Powers Park?
They are concerned about the closure of streets during the holiday weekend and taking over of the entire park including the recreational fields and areas during a holiday weekend. The organizers indicated that they will be using a private owner’s land for parking, but there is no written agreement confirming that plan. Also, there is only a screenshot of an insurance certificate and not one naming the village as additionally insured. It is very difficult to obtain adequate insurance coverage for bounce houses.
Lastly, until proof of insurance is provided, the sheriff cannot ask for deputies to volunteer to work the event according to staff. And how many deputies will be necessary for a crowd of 1500 people each day for the 2 days of the official festival?
Last year, no permit was issued because the requirements of the LDR were not met. Will the same occur this year? The council did vote to grant the permit last year once all conditions were met, but according to staff, the requirements were unfulfilled, so no permit was issued. The unpermitted event was held anyway.
The council once again voted 4-0 to issue the permit if the conditions of insurance and parking are met. What occurs if that never happens? There will be no deputies. It is already very close to the event to find off duty deputies who want to work that weekend. If it is like last year, the show will go on without adequate security.
Does the manager pull the plug by calling the sheriff if the event occurs without a permit? What happens if there are cars on an owner’s property who did not give permission? Are they towed? This is all the kind of stuff that doesn’t help a situation that is already seen through a racial lens by many, including the organizers.
One couldn’t help noticing at the meeting that the speakers, and frankly some of the council members, were ready to make race a reason. That is too bad but because of the simmering undertones, it is unmistakable. If all is provided as required by the permit application, then fine. Right now, no one has asked the village to pick up any costs, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened. As an aside…how is payment for the deputies handled and what happens if the service is provided, and payment is not received?
I understand another festival is scheduled for the end of June at the same venue. The permit can be found here
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The Next Meeting Is October 10, 2022
OCEAN BREEZE COUNCIL MEETING APRIL 10, 2023
Ocean Breeze held its first nighttime regular council meeting.
It was a whopping success with 45 people attending. Usually there are a handful when meetings are held during the day. This proved to be vindication for Council Member Docherty who has brought this over the finish line. Mayor Ostrand also heavily lobbied for evening meetings.
There was only one piece of business on the agenda. It was an ordinance that changes the date of new council members’ swearing in after the election from the current November meeting until December. Given that this was the only business, it will be interesting to see whether there will be as many residents attending future evening meetings. Evening meetings will be held quarterly.
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COMMISSION MEETING APRIL 4, 2023
After the last edition reporting on this meeting, I received the following email from Town Clerk Kimberly Kogos.
Good morning, Mr. Campenni. Regarding your latest news publication pertaining to the Town of Jupiter Island, it is important to note that all commissioners were sworn into office on or before April 4th. Those out of town were sworn in prior to leaving town. The April 4th meeting was lawful, and Marshall Field is/was permitted to be voted as Vice Mayor.
Regarding Jones Foster and Skip Randolph, please note that Mr. Randolph rendered his resignation effective April 4, 2023, thus retiring from service to the Town of Jupiter Island. The firm has not resigned, and Tom Baird is the Town’s legal counsel at this time.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Kimberly Kogos, CMC
I told her I would print the email and here it is.
I am also enclosing the agenda here which does show that both Commissioners Field and Smith were sworn in prior to this meeting. Therefore, Smith’s votes would count as would any motions made or seconded by him.
I should have looked at the agenda and read it far more carefully and not just for the items that were going to be discussed. I wish someone would have mentioned the fact that the two commissioners had been sworn in at the meeting so that the public who hadn’t read the agenda thoroughly would have known.
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When I take my walks in the pre-dawn hours, it is easy for my mind to roam.
Walking in the dark when there are very few other people around or little traffic to be concerned with brings a sense of freedom that you don’t have at other times in your daily life. There is no pressure to go to the next appointment or back to the office. This is truly your time to be disconnected from our interconnected world.
We all should have these “disconnect” moments. For my wife, it is when she has her weekly golf game. Others enjoy secret time when they are on their boats or at the gym. There are fewer and fewer places in daily life where we aren’t part of a connected world.
Before there were cell phones or for that matter car phones, you could use your daily commute to unwind and be alone. Remember what it was like to listen to music on your car radio without interruption as you either sped down the highway or sat in traffic? Some of us just drove in silence…thinking.
Always being connected means always being available. There may not be a moment ever when we are unreachable. That is good and bad. If we make no time to be alone with our thoughts, what happens to the art of thinking? We can no longer separate the wheat from the chaff. Our critical abilities atrophy and the ridiculous becomes the possible.
So, I would urge all of us to carve out a time to be alone. Not with a podcast going in our ears or perhaps even any music. Just you and your brain talking things out and going over yesterday and contemplating today. You will be surprised how cathartic thought can be.
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GET THE WORD OUT
Friends and Neighbors of Martin County is your eyes and ears so that you know what is going on in Martin County’s municipal and county governments. I attempt to be informative and timely so that you may understand how your tax money is being spent. Though I go to the meetings and report back, I am no substitute for your attending meetings. Your elected officials should know what is on your mind.
Tom Campenni 772-341-7455 (c) Email: email@example.com
ARTICLES OF INTEREST
Articles Tom wrote:
From Martin County Moment:
“A Deal In The Works”
“The Emperor Has No Clothes”
“School Vouchers Can Prevent School Censorship”
“Christian Nationalism For America Is A Fallacy”
The Capitolist: “Jeff Brandes’ think tank: Live Local Bill will help, but bigger changes needed to fix affordable housing crisis”
The New York Times: “How To Clear 500,000 Ferel Cats From New York Streets”
Florida Phoenix: “Statehouses debate who should build EV charging networks”
The Washington Post: “Tracing the power of Casey DeSantis”
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)
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