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IN THIS EDITION OF THE NEWSLETTER
Now that we have had our Thanksgiving turkey, it is time to look forward to Christmas.
Many of us have already decorated or are finishing up. We are looking at a December packed with parties, gatherings, and celebrations. What we can’t lose sight of are those who are in need.
I don’t want you to forget that non-profits such as the United Way, Salvation Army, and House of Hope are trying to make sure that those less fortunate have a Happy Chanukah, Good Kwanza, or Merry Christmas. When you pass the Salvation Army kettle put a few dollars in. Send a year-end contribution to United Way or House of Hope or any of your favorite charities so they can bring a little joy to those in need.
Many studies have proven that people who volunteer their time or contribute their treasure are happier than those that do not. Bringing joy to others makes the giver joyful. “Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.” Proverbs 21:13.
St. Francis of Assisi, who believed that the greatest virtue was charity, has been a spiritual mentor of mine for more than 50 years. He dedicated his life to prayer and the poor. Many a time, he took his robe from his back and gave it to a beggar, his last morsel of food to one without, and preached to those that were sinners and poor. We will probably do none of that. But can we not give a little of our earthly treasure to those in need?
A Cold Morning Walk
During Thanksgiving week, I was in Connecticut. Just like in Stuart, I begin my walk at about 5 am.
There are two big differences. The first is that the temperature was about 50 degrees colder than Florida. If that doesn’t wake you up, nothing does. The first day was the worst, and somehow by the third, it didn’t quite seem so bad.
Of course, instead of a tee and shorts, I have my sweatpants, flannel shirt, sweater, knit watch cap, thinsulate jacket, and gloves. Not once did I get warm enough to shed any article of protection. When I was walking in the summer and fall in CT, it wasn’t much different than Florida including the humidity.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you that a Northeast summer is cool and refreshing. It is considerably shorter than ours, but the mosquitos are still biting and the sweat still running. Northern autumns are the best time. Just cool enough so that you can embrace the tingle in the air and not feel as if you are in a hot kitchen.
The second difference between Stuart and Connecticut is the hills. If you don’t want to continuously walk up a hill, you need to plan your itinerary. You may think if you walk up a hill, then going back you are going to walk down. You will find this hard to believe, as did I, but unless you are retracing your exact route in reverse then more than one uphill climb can await you. And I swear some routes have no downhills to return to my apartment at all.
In Stuart, the only incline is if you go over one of our bridges. And you do walk downhill once you climb to the bridge peak. That leaves you with a bit of a dilemma. Unless you plan to swim across the river, you will need to retrace your steps. The only way out of it would be to go over the New Roosevelt Bridge and return using the Old Roosevelt Bridge.
All of this is secondary to why I take a daily walk in the first place. It started for exercise and because my doctor said to do it. Then I found during the walk, my thoughts began to wander to so many places. For a time, you are no longer in the present.
In high school I read a short story entitled “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner.” I don’t remember much about it except the story was about alienation and how every time the kid ran, he was able at least mentally to leave his tough Nottingham neighborhood.
There are no bad neighborhoods I am leaving behind when I walk. Yet the walk itself is transformative. Whether it is the cold of a New England morning or that of a hot Florida one, after a time it doesn’t matter. I know I am deep in my own thoughts as I walk for my health and mental sanity.
GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
I have been critical of Congressman Mast at times.
When he does something that is beneficial then he should be praised. I have just read in a news report where he has introduced the “Veterans Home Choice Act.” This is a great idea for veterans but also should be extended for every senior.
This bill would give more options when selecting homecare service providers for those that have served our country. With more options, it will be easier for veterans to remain in their homes as they age. It makes perfect sense to allow people to do so to enhance their quality of life.
Mast has said that he may also introduce legislation to revamp the VA Home Loan Program. Many of the programs for our vets need improvement. And Mast has been in the forefront of leading the way in this respect.
I hope Congressman Mast and all his colleagues won’t forget all the Americans who need programs such as he has championed for our former service members. Since the inception of Medicare, the life expectancy of Americans has increased dramatically. The elderly, whether they served in the armed forces or not, should be able to afford to live in their homes for as long as possible.
Mr. Mast’s bill should be seen as a first step in the process of universal care in this regard. It is a great place to begin, and I applaud his efforts to make this happen.
MURDER & COMMUNITY
For the past few years, the nation has been gripped by the perception that crime is out of control. And maybe in some places that is true, but not in either Martin County or Stuart.
Both county and city seem by some to be on the verge of a homicide meltdown. This past week alone we have had a stabbing in Hobe Sound and a shooting in East Stuart. If you throw in the Harrouff sentencing for two gruesome murders, you can see where watching the local news would leave people to believe that we have become the murder capital of the nation.
I can’t add anything on the Hobe Sound crime. The murders that Austin Harrouff was found guilty of happened several years ago. But the senseless crime of an innocent woman sitting in her East Stuart home on Thanksgiving eve and that of young man a few weeks earlier in the same neighborhood are probably both related to drugs.
Stuart PD is being tight-lipped about each investigation. They have released no information except the bare facts. In many of these types of cases, the police know who the shooter is. Knowing who the shooter is and proving it beyond a reasonable doubt in court are two different things.
Here is where the community needs to step up. Most crime is caused by a handful of people. The number of serious lawbreakers in East Stuart can be counted on ten fingers. Too many residents, out of fear or a perverted sense of loyalty, refuse to tell the police what they saw or to testify against the very criminals that are committing the crimes in their neighborhood. They are putting their own families at risk of being an unintended victim like Mattie Jones, the murdered woman.
Eyewitness testimony is the best piece of evidence a prosecutor can present in court. All other evidence pales by comparison. No state’s attorney will take a case to court without proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Stuart PD has stepped up patrols in the area. However, cops in cars are the least effective way of gaining citizens’ trust. Do residents feel better protected or better occupied?
The way to gain trust is by a cop on a beat. The same officer on his segway or bike stopping and speaking to people continuously. The officer needs to become a neighborhood fixture. Someone that residents can use as an ombudsman to every city department. This is what is known as community policing.
Community policing won’t solve the bigger issues of drugs, poverty, and dysfunctional families. But it will let people know a cop is on their side. And maybe, just maybe, a bad guy seeing an officer will think twice before shooting up his neighborhood.
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By Carol Houwaart-Diez
United Way of Martin County President-CEO
It is hard for me to fathom that 2022 is coming to a close. As I reflect on this year, I am grateful for the people I have met, the agency partners who work daily with clients in our community, and my family that supports me in many ways.
By the time you read this, we will have assisted over 750 families in our community who needed help during the holidays. So many people come together to make this happen. The partnership with Toys for Tots, House of Hope, Zweben Law Group, local small businesses that are collection sites, AmeriCorp Seniors, Martin County Fire Rescue and the hundreds of volunteers and donors that make this happen for our families is so amazing!
Think back to your childhood and the memories you had about the holidays. If yours was anything like mine, it was about family. On behalf of the families that we served, thank you for being a part of making magic for these families.
As I look forward to 2023, I hope to bring more people and partners together to work on the common good for our community. It’s not always a popular opinion, but I believe that collaboration and partnerships can truly make a difference in Martin County. True collaboration is recognizing that there is no one partner or entity that can do it all; rather, many can join together to make things happen effectively and efficiently. In the words of Harry Truman, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
I tend to dream big and look at the big picture in life and in our community. We are Martin County with generous people who want to do good and make Martin County the best it can be. My wish is that we do this by working together.
Santa is always good to me, so I think he may bring me that in my stocking this year. One can only hope.
Since this is my last article for 2022, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Kwanzaa and New Year. May 2023 be a year of good health, joy, and love for each of you.
As always, if you have questions or need more information about United Way of Martin County please feel free to reach out to me at work, 772-283-4800, via email, email@example.com or our website, www.unitedwaymartin.org.
Carol Houwaart-Diez opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint
By Darlene VanRiper
I got a speeding ticket a couple of weeks ago.
Yes, I was caught in the apparent crack down after that horrendous crash on Baker Rd. If you are unaware of it, several people, including an older couple returning from their anniversary dinner, were killed because an irresponsible driver was exceeding 100 miles per hour. Just awful. Everyone involved died.
So, when I got pulled over, I was not the least bit annoyed. I deserved it plain and simple. I chose to take the Basic Driver Improvement Course rather than opt for the 3 points that my insurance company would have used as an excuse to raise my rates even though this is my first ticket since I can remember.
But I digress. I have been driving for many decades now. Still, I was amazed by some of the information revealed in my 4-hour punishment. Just read through some of this and see if you were as ignorant as I. Did you know…
- You are not allowed to exceed the speed limit to pass someone. I am so guilty.
- In order to avoid a “head on” collision, it is better to steer than to break. Try to hit something “soft”…”like a pole or a tree”. Yes, the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles advises this. However, when you read the following, you may consider a tree or a pole “soft” by comparison. I’d try to side swipe the unfortunate tree, I think.
- A 3-thousand-pound car traveling 70 mph has 8 million pounds of force to release during the impact. YIKES!
- If you are traveling at only 20 mph and hit an object, the force is equivalent to your vehicle plunging off a 1 story building. Not so bad? At 60 mph, its like you just drove off a 9-story building.
- One thing that I read concerned me a bit. To avoid confrontations with aggressive motorists, “Do not display a slogan or bumper sticker that may be considered offensive and may provoke strong emotions in other drivers”. Wow! My First Amendment right winced. When I think of how many bumper stickers offend me, that I am terrified to have to explain to my grandsons, that make me think Americans have lost their minds, I still would argue the right of their expression. What say you? A bumper sticker enforcement? Soon a tee shirt militia?
- Most collisions happen at intersections. This probably doesn’t surprise you. I have often been amazed (and nearly hit) by numbers of drivers who run red lights. I have adopted the non-codified law to always look both ways before proceeding even after the light turns green. I would welcome a crackdown to thwart T boning. I just can’t get out of my head the picture of an octogenarian entangled with one of those heavy-duty pickups.
If you find yourself having to take this course, do not, I repeat, do not click on the optional graphic pictures at the course’s conclusion. You just cannot unsee these things. Upon looking at the final image, I thought “What IS that?” Then I realized it was the mangled body of a crash victim such as I had never imagined.
Having said that, EVERY young person should view these pictures. So, at the end of the day, do like I did. I started leaving 5 minutes earlier and simply not worrying about being late. Make sure you thank the deputy if he pulls you over. He deserves it. He/she may have just saved your life.
Darlene VanRiper’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.
By Nicki van Vonno
A Thanksgiving feast brings forth much cheer and memories of times past.
It is the day when we, as a country, pause and remember our blessings; and in this time, to remember those no longer with us. Here are my thanks for giving.
Bless our troops. They are serving in many places around the world. Wasn’t it wonderful to see the pictures of soldiers who served our country lining the streets of downtown Stuart for Veteran’s Day? Thank you.
Bless the airlines. This year was a reunion for many families who could not travel to spend time with their loved ones due to COVID and travel shutdowns. The airlines worked hard to deliver its passengers to loved ones across the country. Bless them for reducing flight loads, hiring pilots and other workers. Bless the staff who ensured we arrived safely to our families.
Bless the families that shared their holiday with the less fortunate and volunteered to brighten their load. Bless the people collecting toys, supplies, blankets, and Christmas ornaments to those who lost all their possessions to floods and fires around our great country as others continue to deliver supplies to war torn countries.
God Bless Macy’s. The words on the Statue of Liberty come alive watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. The float participants, the volunteers and the crowds of festive parade watchers reflect the many colors and hues of America. Does it get any better than watching the Radio City Rockettes dance? Maybe watching the Texas high school dance team with Rockette style moves.
God Bless America. America is the shining city on the hill, a country of many colors and many faiths and cultures. A country that says to all we are the land of freedom, opportunity, and pluck.
I recently finished “In My Place,” the memoir of Charlayne Hunter-Gault, the pioneering woman journalist who integrated the University of Georgia in 1961 with her friend Hamilton Holmes, who became a prominent doctor and hospital administrator. A born storyteller who used her formidable skills to teach us about each other. I count her as one of my teachers. She ends her story with a quote from the poet Gwendolyn Brooks.
“We are all each other’s harvest,
We are each other’s business,
We are each other’s magnitude
For the new year let us resolve to learn about each other so we can continue to perfect our union.
Nicki van Vonno’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.
By David Hafner
Tractors moving from field to field and trucks packed with freshly harvested produce are welcome sights on Martin County’s rural roads this time of year.
Martin County’s harvest season runs from October through May and $112.6 million of agricultural products from nearly 600 farms will be harvested and sold to destinations all over the world.
Martin County is 22nd out of the 67 counties in Florida on the market value of agricultural products sold. To me this is rather impressive when you consider our county places 54th in land area. This level of agricultural output is possible because 44% of Martin County is being farmed or is in agriculture in some way.
That is something we should celebrate. There should be parades and celebrations to kickoff and end harvest season and there should be festivals boasting our agricultural accomplishments in between. We have the Martin County Fair, Indiantown PRCA Rodeo, and Farm-City Week Luncheon, but we have lost the Port Salerno Seafood Festival and the Pineapple Festival in recent years. We really should do more to honor the men and women who grow the agricultural products that feed and clothe us all year long.
On February 22 members of our community flocked to the Martin County Commission meeting to say we need to protect our county’s farmland. Though I want to be excited to hear this, I am torn as to why these people really want to protect the farmland.
At that commission meeting Commissioner Doug Smith talked about how agriculture in our country is under attack- and it is, both domestically and from outside countries. He went on to comment on how much support was voiced for agriculture in the commission chamber that day, but for years the comments were completely reversed with agriculture being the target of blame.
He further stated that it cannot be both ways. I was there that day and hearing the public comments it made me wonder, did they really support the farmers growing food for our families or do they simply want to thwart any possibility that our rural lands will be developed so they can preserve their own way of life?
I am going to be optimistic and say these people really do want to support our local farmers. I mean why not, 88% of Americans say they trust farmers. To those people, I am counting on you to help promote American agriculture through your purchases at the store and I plan to see you at our few agricultural events over the next year, and I look forward to your support and to seeing you in attendance when agricultural parades and festivals start to become a bigger part of our community.
Lastly, I ask, when you see a tractor on the road please give it some space, pass cautiously, and give the driver a honk and a wave because he or she is on their way to grow your food.
David Hafner’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT BOARD BENT
By Joan Goodrich
Few of us need reminders as to how not so long ago the cost of everything was a lot lower. That refers not only to food and fuel but the cost of money as well.
The ability to borrow with low interest rates often fuels periods of growth and expansion. But when the growth of the money supply spikes, we can see inflation rise accordingly or even higher. Hence the balancing act playing out to varying degrees now as the Federal Reserve adjusts interest rates.
As a hedge for economic development during volatile times, we’re fortunate to have in our economic arsenal the Martin County Industrial Development Authority (MCIDA). Created in 1981, MCIDA assists in financing and refinancing projects by issuing tax-exempt bonds for select private projects.
Of course, criteria to qualify is highly specific and limited to projects with undeniable public uses and benefits. Examples include social service centers, retirement housing (if registered as 501(c)3) and educational, manufacturing, tourism, water and sewer and solid-waste disposal facilities.
Past examples of local entities that benefitted from MCIDA includes the YMCA of the Treasure Coast, the Indiantown Cogeneration facility and Stuart Web, a commercial printing facility. The Cabana at Jensen Dunes is a more recent example. The incoming 126-unit assisted living facility—which spans more than 100,000 square feet—represents a total capital investment of $47 million. The bond value is $15.7 million.
The tax-exempt bond status obviously increases appeal to investors. Revenues derived from the projects go to paying the principal and interest on the bonds. Martin County (or any municipality with an industrial development authority, for that matter) is in no way liable for any debt incurred on the bonds.
We recently welcomed new board members Charles David, Marshall Dees, John Moffitt and Pam Ouellette alongside returning members Brian Powers and Jacob Bynum to the MCIDA board of directors (thank you retiring Directors Donald Barber, George Haley and Melissa Pietrzyk). We’re excited to bring together both fresh talent and veteran leadership as we anticipate the potential that MCIDA could avail to qualified projects. Their varied individual experience levels in business, a keen recognition and high degree of responsiveness to the needs of executives seeking financing will help in these ever-changing economic times.
To find out more about how MCIDA or the Business Development Board of Martin County can assist your business, please call (772) 221-1380
Joan Goodrich’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint
KEEP MARTIN BEAUTIFUL
By Tiffany Kincaid
Ideas for Eco-Friendly Holidays
No matter how often we hum the song “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” holiday time in Florida remains green.
But did you know that household waste increases 25% between Thanksgiving and Christmas? That’s not very “green” at all. Here are some Keep Martin Beautiful tips to reduce your waste footprint:
Wrapping paper alternatives
- Traditional wrapping paper is beautiful and festive, but not good for the environment.
- Try using recycled paper or the comics section of a newspaper (if you still get a print version).
- Scarves can be used for wrapping presents and makes a great second gift.
- Glass jars and tote bags are also reusable. Kids (and adults) can decorate plain brown bags—use color, just not glitter!
- Although I personally love creative gift wrapping – almost to a fault – you could also opt to not wrap the gift at all. It’s your thought, not the wrapping, that counts.
Decorating for the holidays is fun. This year, think about how to do it with “green” in mind.
- String popcorn and stay away from tinsel.
- Decorate with nature. Collect branches or pinecones – either painted or use them in their natural beauty. Scent your home with spices and herbs and dried citrus instead of cans of scented spray.
- Refurbish old decorations. They may just need a little repair or touchup—or turn them into something else!
- Use LED lights. They use 95% less energy than traditional holiday lights.
- Purchase a live Christmas tree with an attached root ball. When Christmas is over, the tree can be replanted somewhere so it can continue to absorb carbon dioxide, produce oxygen, and provide a home for animals. If you must use an artificial Christmas tree, purchase one made from recycled PVC. Using it for at least ten Christmases evens out the carbon footprint over its lifetime compared to buying real trees each year.
It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday shopping frenzy, even when we know that buying more things is not best for the environment. Here are some eco-friendly ideas for gifts that show our love for friends and family and also the environment. And be sure to bring your own bags when you shop!
- Shop locally. Embrace what makes our community unique. You save the cost and negative environmental impacts of shipping, and you help our friends and neighbors who own businesses to survive and thrive.
- Give experiences, not things. Give the gift of local services like massages, facials, a boat ride, a painting class, tickets to a concert or sporting event.
- Buy things that are recycled. Or items that make recycling unnecessary, like sturdy, high-quality reusable water bottles to replace those single use plastic ones.
- Think “thrifting.” There are many non-profits in town that operate high-quality thrift stores where you can find unique items and decor at good prices and keep more items out of the landfill. And all for a worthy cause. Check out House of Hope’s HOPE Shop, the Humane Society, Treasure Coast Hospice, Hibiscus Treasure House and many other consignment stores for a true “upcycling” experience.
- Give plants. Or an herb or edible garden. Plants are not only decorative and make any room feel cozier, they’re also good for your health by improving air quality and reducing stress. Buying low maintenance plants such as succulents, peace lilies, orchids, ferns and herbs also makes it easy to nurture and build confidence and self-esteem.
- Support a local or global nonprofit by making a donation in someone’s name.
And when it’s time to clean up after the holidays?
- What can be recycled?
- What can be reused? Maybe given a new purpose or kept for next year.
- What can be composted?
- How green are the cleaning products you’re using?
Tis the season to use our imagination and ingenuity to make small changes in how we celebrate. That’s how we can truly go – and stay – Green!
From all of us at, Keep Martin Beautiful we wish you a joyous and eco-friendly holiday!
Tiffany Kincaid’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint
By Suzy Hutcheson
CEO Helping People Succeed
All our lives we’ve been told that “It’s better to give than to receive”— this year Helping People Succeed is so grateful for what we have received that we want to acknowledge all that we have been given!
We are thankful for our donors and funders.
In the past year we have received such amazing financial support from donors and funders allowing the organization to grow and significantly improve our programs and financial stability.
We were awarded significant funding from the Southeast Florida Behavioral Health Network that has enabled us to expand services to youth with serious emotional disturbances. This funding has allowed us to meet the needs of the community with little to no wait list.
We have also received funding from the Board of County Commissioners in Martin County – American Rescue Plan Act for two transformational programs – workforce development and family mental health wraparound services. These two programs have enabled us to focus on employment in Martin County and the needs of families to improve their resiliency. Family wraparound services is most simply stated as an evidence-based, strength-based, team-supported planning process to help achieve a highly individualized plan to address an individual’s complex emotional and behavioral needs.
We received funding from the Board of County Commissioners in St. Lucie County to expand services to St. Lucie County for our adult programming. These services include enhanced community inclusion volunteer activities as well as offering more employment opportunities for adults with disabilities.
We received funding from the Agency for Health Care Administration to support our incredible staff in the adult programming to improve salaries.
We received increases in funding for the Healthy Families programs in Martin and Okeechobee Counties which will provide additional resources for our Family Support Engagement Specialists who are working with at risk families.
The expansion in funding has been complemented by significant donor contributions which have allowed us to improve our overall financial stability, allowing Helping People Succeed to expand services and increase, substantially, the number of children, families, and individuals who we have the honor to serve.
The Helping People Succeed Foundation is comprised of a dedicated group of board members and supports the operations of Helping People Succeed. Our Foundation is not all about raising contributions. It is about advocating within our community, connecting individuals and businesses with a common link to our mission and openly (and often) sharing the impact of each gift.
For those of you who know us – have heard our mantra. No gift is too small, and EVERY gift is significant. Helping People Succeed recently held its most largely supported fundraiser event of the year – Pinot & Picasso. We are thankful for the outpouring of support from volunteers, businesses, sponsors, guests and for our host and good friend Bill Lichtenberger. This picture says it all. One can feel, within that moment, the connection and joy that was present on that evening. For that, we are thankful.
Helping People Succeed and the Helping People Succeed Foundation are thankful for 2022. We’re looking forward to 2023 where we will continue to thrive with your help!
Whether it be your gift of time, talent or treasure – we welcome it all!
Suzy Hutheson’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint
By Pastor Chad Fair
Immanuel Lutheran Church
Tis the season to be…
Thomas Oliphant, wrote the famous lyrics to the song “Deck the Halls” in 1862.
This song is a staple of the holiday season and with a mere mention of it, “Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!” will echo in your head for hours (you’re welcome). I, however, can’t help but focus on the line, “Tis the season to be jolly.”
Unfortunately, this time of year isn’t jolly for everyone. It’s sometimes filled with sorrow, anxiety, and frustration rather than joy. Frustration about overstuffed calendars, anxiety about decorating, shopping, wrapping, traffic, and a host of other stressors often spills out in unhealthy ways.
Every year, on Black Friday we hear about a fight breaking out at a retail store over the hot gift of the season. So much for fa, la, la, la, laing. Somehow, we’ve managed to take a season to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or one of many other holidays during December and make it about stuff. Hint: that’s not the reason for any of these holidays but it is a reminder of how culture has informed faith rather than faith informing culture.
We’ve all seen the bumper sticker that pleads, “Keep Christ in Christmas”. I confess I don’t really know what that means. I suppose it means different things to different people. If the bumper sticker means say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” I think we are missing the mark. I don’t care which of those things people say. Those statements have no ill intent.
I’m just happy that people are being kind to one another. But the question looms, what does “keep Christ in Christmas” look like? Can I just pause for a minute…really? What about the other 364 days or 11 months out of the year? I know, I know, baby steps, baby Jesus steps.
Back to the question at hand, what would keeping Christ in Christmas (and the other 364 days) look like? Well, it should mimic Jesus and the 13th chapter of John’s gospel tells us what that looks like. “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Love one another as Jesus did. I looked for the fine print or asterisk but there are no exceptions to this. Jesus fed the hungry (feeding the 5000). Jesus comforted the afflicted (Mary and Martha after Lazarus’ death). Jesus loved the outcast (healed the leper). Jesus forgave the wrong doer (forgave Judas and called him friend after he betrayed him). Jesus inspired the hopeless (the woman at the well).
No where in scripture does Jesus call us to hate or violence. Nowhere does he call us to shoot up a Walmart, a workplace, a synagogue, or an LGBTQIA+ nightclub. Jesus simply calls us to love one another. In that spirit of love: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Season’s Greetings, Happy Holidays. Whichever applies to you and your family I wish you a blessed season where love overflows.
Chad Fair’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint
Farm City Luncheon 2022 Dives into Martin County Aquaculture
One Martin’s Event Brings Together Business, Ag, Environment and Community
PALM CITY, Fla. – Aquaculture is big business in Florida, accounting for more than $200 million in annual revenue and making Florida one of the top producers in the nation for this branch of agriculture.
Guests at the 2022 One Martin Farm-City luncheon on November 17 learned about the innovative ways that the Florida aquaculture community is farming the seas, its growing promise to address an increasing global demand for food, and its local economic impact.
Now in its fifth year, the One Martin’s Farm-City Luncheon, held in partnership with the Martin County Farm Bureau, brings together urban and rural residents of Martin County to celebrate the important relationships between farmers, consumers, civic leaders, and everyone in between who contribute to the community’s safe, abundant food supply. It is part of the national celebration of Farm City Week, traditionally held the week before Thanksgiving to highlight the interdependence between rural and urban citizens.
“People have an image of agriculture as fields of citrus groves or cattle grazing on the land, and that’s certainly an accurate picture of a good portion of western Martin County,” said Rick Hartman, president of One Martin, a nonprofit organization that hosts the local Farm-City luncheon each year. “But there’s much more to farming than row crops and livestock. There’s an entire aquaculture (fish farming) industry that provides important food sources grown in water. It’s a big economic driver in our region.”
Megan Davis, Ph.D., Research Professor with the Aquaculture and Stock Enhancement Program at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, described HBOI’s ongoing work to develop sustainable production techniques for farming fish, clams, oysters, shrimp, urchins, algae, seaweed and sea veggies. “Our research work has immediate and practical impacts on the food supply, health and nutrition, and the environment,” Davis said. “It’s cool science and it’s also the hope of the future.”
Butch Olsen, Executive Director of the Port Salerno Commercial Fishing Dock Authority, and Paige Cruise, a 16-year-old passionate advocate for Florida agriculture, inspired the sold-out luncheon audience with a renewed appreciation for the agricultural community and how interdependent rural and urban communities are. “Everything in our day, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear and the homes we live in, comes from the farm in some way,” Cruise said. “Agriculture is our life blood.”
The Farm-City luncheon menu was a model of farm-to-table cuisine: beef from the iconic Adams Ranch, flounder and sheepshead from the Port Salerno Commercial Fishing Dock Authority, veggies from the Everglades Agricultural Area, and potatoes from Agri-Gators. The event took place at Pirate’s Cove Resort and Marina, a prominent part of the Historic Port Salerno Waterfront District.
A fast-paced live auction by Ransom Hartman (which included – name the three things) helped One Martin to raise funds to continue its educational work.
One Martin is grateful for the sponsorship support of these organizations: Ashley Capitol, Becker Tree Farm; Adams Ranch; Three Lakes; Midbrook 1st Realty Corp.; Hartman Real Estate; The Tucker Group; M Ranch; Star Farms; O’Rourke Engineering and Planning; Velcon Engineering and Planning; U.S. Sugar; HJA Design Studio; Shearwater Marine and Industrial; Bull Hammock Ranch; Van Vonno Consulting; McNicholas & Associates; Captec Engineering; Market on Main; Agri-Gators; Wedgworth’s; Team Parks; SLC Commercial; Camo Farms; Ralicki Wealth management & Trust Services; Ideas For Us; Proctor Construction Co.; The MilCor Group, a division of Haley Ward, Inc.; Indiantown Marina; Tarpon Blue; Meritage Homes; Lucido & Associates; Family Lands Remembered; Sugar Cane Growers; Tellus; and Caulkins Water Farm.
One Martin’s opinions are their own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint
MARTIN COUNTY TAXPAYERS ASSOCIATION
Sailfish Sands Revisited
On Thursday, October 20th, there was the Grand Opening of Sailfish Sands formerly known as “The Martin County Golf Course”.
A large crowd was in attendance to hear from several county commissioners and officials The public could tour the facilities which looked terrific.
According to an article in Hometown News by Donald Rodrigue on March 17th, Parks & Recreation Director Kevin Abbate admitted the $11-million-plus renovation of the municipal golf course and construction of the new clubhouse and its high-tech hitting bays “was a big project for the county.”
What are the overages to the $11 million renovation project? Let’s review the history of what is referred to in the business world as “scope creep” or project mismanagement.
On January 8th of 2019, Mr. Abbate, presented a 15-point plan to the BOCC to redo the Martin County Golf Course. The main tenets of the plan included the following key points:
- Reduce the course from 36 to 27 holes by re-designing the Red and White courses to a 9-hole walkable and reversable executive course.
- Construct a “modest” 4,000 square foot clubhouse with a small bar, grille, and full kitchen.
- Upgrade the 18-hole Gold and Blue courses to include the greens, tees, fairways and cart paths.
- Utilize $400,000 from 2019 budgeted allocations (Parks Paving Funds-$200,00 and Fixed Asset Replacement Budget-$200,000) to improve golf cart pathways.
- Utilize the design-build procurement method for golf course renovations which
includes golf holes and all practice facilities.
Mr. Abbate proposed a line-item budget and announced verbally and in writing that “The maximum amount of borrowing for the golf course improvements will not exceed $5.5 million.”
Sixteen and a half months later, on May 19, 2020, Mr. Abbate again appeared before the BOCC to inform them that $2.4 million was spent on the 9-hole walkable, executive course which comprised the original budget of $2.3 million plus $190,000 in change orders. $3.1 million was left unspent of the $5.5 million that Abbate proposed in his line-item budget.
This did not include an additional $1.5 million for the clubhouse which was 90%
designed and $305,000 for the cart paths for the Gold and Blue Course. Which have not been completed as of this writing. No money was allocated to redo the greens on the old Blue and Gold courses.
When questioned, Mr. Abbate punted and said this would come out of future
budgets. He also elaborated that the “modest” 4,000 square foot clubhouse was being designed at 5,500 square feet and the construction costs were estimated to be between $400-500/ per square foot.
Here we are four years later with a project initially approved for $5.5 million costing $11-million-plus with the clubhouse alone costing $4.6 million.
Who should the taxpayers hold accountable?
- Mr. Abbate, the Director of Parks and Recreation? Who was responsible for
managing the project.
- His supervisor, the Assistant County Administrator, Mr. Stokus? Who should be
keeping an eye on projects to see that they are on time and on budget.
- The County Administrator, Mrs. Kryzda? Who should have been monitoring her direct reports to ensure that things are running smoothly.
- The Board of County Commissioners? Who have a responsibility to their constituency to spend tax dollars wisely and not allow project “scope creep”?
- ALL OF THE ABOVE?
In Mr. Abbate’s speech at the Grand Opening, he made several statements. One was that business plans were developed for the project. MCTA is requesting a copy of the business plan for the $11-million-plus renovation and the time frame for when it was developed.
He also stated that the county subsidy for the golf course was reduced by $800,000, and then acknowledged that the subsidy in 2019 (pre-covid) was $670,000 climbing to $1.3 million when the course was closed for renovation. The subsidy for Fiscal Year Ending 2022 was then reduced to approximately $500,000 ($1.3 million less the $800,000) due to the driving range being open, as well as the reversible 9-hole course and the 18-hole course being available for
MCTA will be evaluating the return on investment of the project when the numbers for Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2023, are available.
Another interesting side note is the lease of the bar and restaurant to Mike LaMattina, which MCTA applauds since we do not believe that government should compete with private industry.
However, is this a change of heart since the Parks and Recreation Department cancelled the leases for the snack bars at Stuart and Jensen Beach? Can we expect these two entities to go out as an RFP for the private sector to operate?
Martin County Taxpayers Association opinions are their own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint
2023 Florida Ranches Calendar Highlights Statewide Conservation Success
By Stacy Weller Ranieri
President of The Firefly Group
Political divisiveness may seem to be today’s norm, but it’s clear that protection of Florida’s natural environment is a non-partisan issue that our state legislators can agree on.
Florida is a national leader in land protection, with two highly respected state land protection programs: Florida Forever and the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. These programs purchase conservation easements over ranchlands and protect the properties in perpetuity. They are making a positive difference in our state.
In August of this year, for example, the Florida Governor and Cabinet approved more than $56 million dollars in funding for the permanent conservation of nearly 20,000 acres within the Florida Wildlife Corridor. https://floridawildlifecorridor.org/ The Corridor connects notable lands and waters that help protect Florida wildlife and preserve critical parts of Old Florida into the future. Its success depends on ongoing partnerships and connections at every level to keep Florida’s existing conservation lands viable while helping to support the sustainability of agricultural lands and working cattle ranches.
Since 2006, my firm, The Firefly Group, has had the great privilege of being the publisher of the award-winning Florida Ranches Calendar, a classic wall calendar that is used as a teaching tool to tell the story of Florida’s cattle ranches and the vital role they serve in preserving Florida’s environmental, agricultural, and cultural heritage. The calendar includes stunning photographs by Carlton Ward Jr., National Geographic Photographer, founder of Wildpath, and eighth generation Floridian.
The 2023 Florida Ranches Calendar features many of the ranches recently approved for conservation easements during the state’s 2022 summer legislative session. It is a year-long reminder that ranchers are our state’s oldest environmental stewards, and their lands are a vital part of the green infrastructure that is the foundation of Florida’s economy and quality of life.
My history with the calendar and ranching in Florida dates to 2004, when I first met Alto “Bud” Adams, Jr. Bud and I served together on the Governor’s Committee for a Sustainable Treasure Coast. “Hello, little lady,” he said to me as I sat down beside him the first day the committee was convened, and that was the beginning of a friendship between a cattle rancher and a city girl.
As a native New Yorker, I had never set foot on a cattle ranch before meeting Bud. I was admittedly one of those “environmentalists” who had no understanding of agriculture, farming, or ranching, but after Bud gave me the first of many tours of his beautiful Adams Ranch in St. Lucie County – teeming with birds and wildlife, amidst a seemingly endless backdrop of pines and oaks and wetlands – I understood. Bud was a calm and respected voice in the fight to preserve the most beautiful natural places left in Florida. I can’t think of another person who was a better representative of successful environmental stewardship in action.
Bud passed in 2017 at the age of 91. I adored this man – the iconic figure known throughout St. Lucie County and the state – and feel honored and humbled to have had a chance to know him on a more personal level. He left a legacy of wisdom, beauty, and respect for our right to clean water and a healthy environment that still endures today.
I think Bud would agree with the words of William Shakespeare: “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
As we bring this year’s calendar to you, I hope it will foster a greater understanding and appreciation for the current beauty, past legacy, and promising future of Florida ranch lands and the people like Bud Adams who have preserved them for us.
The calendar is the perfect holiday gift for your nature-loving family and friends and can be ordered here: www.floridaranchescalendar.com. Be sure to follow the Florida Ranches Calendar throughout the year on Facebook and Instagram.
Stacy Weller Ranieri’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint
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CONSTITUTIONAL CORNER AND OTHER GOVERNMENT NOTICES
And from our Supervisor of Elections:
From The Clerk of The Court:
From the Property Appraiser
While Martin County is predominantly a residential community, the commercial and industrial sectors consist of 3,600 parcels that have a total value of $3.8 billion. This represents 8.5% of our total real property value. In this educational video, learn how the Martin County Property Appraiser’s Office appraises commercial and industrial properties.
YouTube video link HERE
CITY OF STUART
NON PROFIT NOTICES
The KinDoo Center and House of Hope Join Forces to Serve the Indiantown Community
Stuart, Fla. – The KinDoo Family Center in Indiantown, a non-profit organization that teaches local families useful skills that enable them to achieve a better life, will become part of the House of Hope family of services by the summer of 2023.
KinDoo was founded by Sister Mary Dooley SSND and Sister Kate Kinnally SSND to meet the community needs that they witnessed firsthand in their work as administrators with Hope Rural School. “Many of the families were struggling economically,” Sr. Mary Dooley said. “We saw what a difference it would make if the lower income, underserved women of Indiantown could learn skills in their own community that they could use to support their families.”
The sisters wanted the students to have a “can do” attitude and it so happened that the first syllables of their last names were KinDoo. Thus, the name took on a life of its own. In 2015 they established the KinDoo Center in the heart of the community in a building owned by Indiantown Non-Profit Housing. Then, in the words of the Sisters, “miracles began to flow.” The center has evolved over time into a true community hub and a vibrant educational setting for classes in literacy, computer skills, sewing, cooking and art.
As the Sisters prepared to retire in 2023, they and the KinDoo Board of Directors began searching for an organization that would meet their one non-negotiable condition: a demonstrated deep concern for the education of the poor and powerless.
“It was an easy decision to choose House of Hope to continue our mission,” Sr. Mary Dooley said. “We have witnessed first-hand their commitment and dedication to the Indiantown community and the people we serve.”
“Everyone at House of Hope stands in awe of the amazing careers of these two women, their dedication to the Indiantown community, and the impact the KinDoo Center has had,” House of Hope CEO Rob Ranieri said. “We are honored and humbled at the opportunity to steward their legacy.”
There will only be a minor name change to the center, which will now be called the KinDoo Center for Enrichment.
“Our missions align perfectly, and we already provide many services in Indiantown, so we expect the transition to be an easy one.” Ranieri said. “We are grateful that Indiantown Non-Profit Housing will continue the lease, so what the community will see is year-round programming in the same space with the same name and the same spirit.
The first letter is from Bobbie & Walter Deemer LWVMC Environmental Issues Co-Chairs:
Notes from the November 17 Rivers Coalition meeting:
Hurricanes Ian and Nicolle dealt two big blows to the St. Lucie Estuary. Firstly, they churned up a lot of sand which is being brought into the estuary on incoming tides. This has significantly increased the turgidity of the water which, in turn, makes it extremely difficult for sunlight to get to the bottom and nurture the seagrass; the seagrass which is such an essential part of the estuary’s ecosystem and which has been disappearing at an alarming rate.
Secondly, the storms generated a three-foot rise in the level of Lake Okeechobee via direct rainfall and then unusually-heavy runoffs from the north, where so much of the rain fell; water flows into the lake from the north are, even now, 25% higher than normal.
The combination pushed the lake level up to 16.25 feet – and, critically, the level where the Corps of Engineers must decide whether they need to start releasing water into the St. Lucie Canal and, ultimately, the St. Lucie Estuary is just above that, at 16.5 feet.
The spectre of new releases generated a wave of passionate pleas from Rivers Coalition members not to send any – any — water from Lake Okeechobee east. “This would be the worst possible time to discharge to the east” was a typical comment. One person farms clams at the Florida Oceanographic Society for restoration projects and reported that given the already-present turgidity issue “if there are any discharges I will lose 25 million clams”.
Lt. Col. Polk, from the Army Corps of Engineers, shared our concerns and said the next couple of weeks will be critical. He hopes and expects we will get through the rest of the inflows from the north and into the dry season without the lake rising above 16.5 feet — but it’s going to be an uncomfortably-close call.
Meanwhile, the Martin County Chapter is very fortunate that the speaker at our December 13th lunch meeting will be Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch. Jacqui is a member of the South Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board and one of the strongest and most passionate fighters for the environment on the Treasure Coast. The SFWMD is obviously a key player in this area, and Jacqui is well-equipped to answer any questions you may have.
Some more good news: The rebuilding of the dike around Lake Okeechobee is almost finished, and the ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place January 25th. This will give the Corps a little more leeway in determining how much water the lake can safely hold before discharges are necessary.
The next is from Oscar Torres:
I disagree whole heartedly on your view of Trump and your twist on history.
You watch way too much fake news.
President Trump was 174 to 9 with his endorsements.
And maybe if Mitch McFailure had not held funds on the America First candidates in order to give them to the RINO’s that vote with him on anti-gun legislation and the Biden budgets we may have had a different result.
DeSantis would never had been governor if it were not for President Trump, the duly elected president.
From Leona Quigley
Although it’s long overdue, I want to thank you for the diligence, hard work, love, and care that you give to all of us in Martin County by producing, printing, and consistently publishing “Friends and Neighbors.” The time you volunteer is immeasurable! You are a genuine asset and blessing to our community.
May this Thanksgiving reward you with special gifts of gratitude for your selfless service.
And from Tom Hannon
What are the counties plans for the 9+ % increase in tax revenue?
It has already been absorbed into the budget. They also gave a small tax rate decrease. With inflation most of it went to cover that.
BOCC MEETING NOVEMBER 22, 2022
Commissioners Hetherington and Heard were sworn in for another four-year term at the start of the meeting. Congratulations to both for their work on behalf of the people of Martin County.
It was also the meeting where a new chair is selected. A motion was made by Hetherington and seconded by Jenkins for Ciampi to become chair. It passed 5-0. Jenkins was nominated for vice-chair in a motion made by Hetherington and seconded by Ciampi. It passed 4-0.
In the re-organization of the committee assignments, Chair Ciampi gave up his seat on the MPO to Commissioner Heard. Vice-Chair Jenkins relinquished his seat on the Pal Mar board to Commissioner Heard. The rest of the assignments stayed the same with minor tweaks.
The old Golf World site on Kanner Highway was re-zoned to General Commercial. The applicant, Barron Landings, stated that the old zoning was no longer appropriate. Michael Houston, their land planner, argued that Kanner was no longer the same 2 lane road that it had been. It is a classic infill project he said.
Commissioner Heard did not think that it was compatible with residential. I don’t understand why not. Don’t you want commercial uses next to residential to encourage multi-modal transportation?
The vote was 4-1 with Heard voting no. You can see the presentation here
The idea of the county building its own wellness center was once again discussed. It would be operated under a VEBA Trust. A VEBA is a way to provide benefits to employees under the IRS code.
They predict that the county will run out of space with their current setup by 2024. If they build the center under a VEBA, the county can customize providing medical care to employees, their families, and former employees who have retired and are still on the county’s plan.
According to the study presented, the VEBA model would give a better ROI than any other in the long run. The downside would be the higher startup costs. Currently, Palm Beach County uses that model.
The staff gave the commission five location choices for the building. The consensus was to locate the facility on one of two vacant parcels already owned by the county on Ruhnke Street.
The more employees who participate the better to keep costs down. Currently, the sheriff uses a different center than the rest of the county. If the county and sheriff become consolidated, it would add 600 more employees.
Hetherington, Jenkins, and Heard are fine with the VEBA model. Ciampi likes the idea of a county-owned facility but would lean toward a 3rd party administrator. Smith apparently was not happy with the choice of location. He wanted to locate the facility on the lot owned by the county between the Blake Library and Kingswood.
Heard moved approval of exploring one of the Ruhnke lots for a site. Jenkins seconded. The vote was 4-1 with Smith voting no.
Whether it would be the VEBA model (owned & operated by the county) or a third-party administrator has not yet been determined.
You can find the presentation here
You can find information on VEBA here
For years, the City of Stuart has had a financial reimbursement program as part of their CRA to encourage businesses to improve their properties. After extensive NAC and other community-based meetings, CRA Manager Susan Kores has now brought a similar program to the commission for final approval.
There were three parts to the program. One was a minor business retention piece for up to $2000 for things like design and very small improvements. There are also $10,000 and $20,000 grants available. It is a reimbursement program and will be up to 80% of the uppermost grant amount.
When questioned by commissioners about non-profit participation, Kores said the reason not to include non-profits was because the program’s aim is to increase tax revenue…non-profits pay no tax.
Heard was not going to support it. She has never been a fan of the CRA concept. Hetherington was not initially in favor of the program, but once she went to the Golden Gate NAC meeting, she saw where it could be useful. She was not in favor of the smaller grants going toward marketing and business development. She also did not think non real estate taxed properties (non-profits) should benefit from taxpayer dollars.
Smith cited Stuart and stated that non-profits were still part of the street scape. He did agree to eliminate the marketing piece. He made a motion for the program without non-profits and the marketing. It was seconded by Jenkins and passed 4-1 with Heard dissenting.
Smith then made a motion to include non-profits to be part of the program. It was seconded by Jenkins. It passed 3-2 with Hetherington and Heard dissenting.
I have never been a fan of the government choosing one business to receive tax money over another. However, I also see that it could be a beneficial program. I certainly agree that marketing and non-profits should not benefit from tax dollars under any circumstances.
You can find the presentation here
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STUART COMMISSION MEETING NOVEMBER 28, 2022
Imagine that Tropicana wanted to place orange juice stands on city property and pay nothing in rent. Tropicana stated it provided a benefit to the citizens by allowing them to buy fresh orange juice. The company also claimed that it was an incentive for Stuart’s tourist visitors because everyone associates orange juice with Florida. At the end of the ten-year agreement, the benefit for the city would be they became the owner of the stands for a dollar.
Would that be a good deal for Stuart? Just substitute EV charging stations for juice stands, and you will have the deal the commission cut with FPL. You can put a pretty bow on it by saying that electric vehicles are good for the environment (the jury may still be out on that) or people will stop while their vehicle is charging and buy a cup of coffee or eat lunch adding to sales revenue.
In their quest to be green, the city commission has decided to mess with the free market. Is there a reason to do so? The answer resoundingly is no. Would the city entertain putting an Exxon-Mobile gas pump to be fair to most drivers? Of course, the answer is no.
This is the Looney Tune stuff the City of Stuart now deals with instead of substantive policy. I get it that development is dead. What is a poor commission to do? I know…go where no commission has gone before and think up things.
Commissioner Collins was the only person that sort of got it. You don’t give away something for nothing. I don’t know whether he believes in government staying out of markets because in the next agenda item he wanted to influence markets by manipulation of fees. But he was right to challenge FPL here.
Too bad the other commissioners are willing to allow our infrastructure to be used for trendy things and not for the purpose it was intended.
You can see the presentation here
Dr. Collins, in his quest to bring Stuart back to the 1950s, wanted to manipulate the new impact fee schedule to favor single-family dwellings. The fee schedule was derived by the city’s consultants. In many cases, fees are going down. And the thing to remember is that fees are only paid on lots where nothing was built previously.
For example, if a home of 2500 sq. feet existed on a lot and was torn down to build a new home of 2500 sq. feet, then no fee is charged. If it is now a 3000 sq. foot home, the fee would only be on 500 sq. feet.
Collins main concern was that any newly annexed properties into the city be encouraged to build single-family homes instead of multi-family. The manger burst that bubble when he said he had never heard of a developer considering the difference in impact fees when deciding on what to build. He also stated there are no new tracts to annex. The city no longer has any place to become larger.
Impact fees are supposed to consider what it costs to provide new infrastructure. If you place 4 families on the same lot, then you don’t have to provide 4 times the roads or sewer connections. The impact doesn’t go up proportionately.
That is why I say Dr. Collins may not really believe in markets determining what to do. He would rather that he determines what is to be built. I think it will be interesting to see what the county ends up doing regarding development in the next ten years. I think they are poised to do many infill projects which will make anything the city has done look small.
Perhaps Dr. Collins will get his way of a 1950s village surrounded by a 21st century unincorporated Martin County. Our tax dollars will shrink so services will have to do so also. But traffic through the city will only increase since Stuart is incapable of returning to a medieval 12th century market town with a drawbridge and moat.
Then came the battle over prayer.
Dr. Collins wanted to have an invocation before the meeting. Commissioner Rich was adamantly against. All the usual arguments were made pro and con. Rich wanted people to sit during the prayer so that those not participating would feel no obligation to do so. Collins said people needed to stand.
I think most people are like me. Usually when an invocation is given at this type of meeting, my mind is not on the words but wandering somewhere else. If some believe that God will look kindly on the meeting beginning with a prayer, then that is fine. I am of the “no harm no foul” side of this.
It is not unconstitutional or a problem because of separation of church and state. There is nothing about this anywhere in the constitution. The entire idea of prayer is sort of meaningless in this context. It cheapens the power of prayer. If Collins needs to have a prayer said out loud prior to a commission meeting, so be it.
The vote was 3-2 with Rich and McDonald dissenting.
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SCHOOL BOARD MEETING NOVEMBER 22, 2022
At this meeting, the new school board members took the oath of office.
Jennifer Russell and Amy Pritchett were sworn into office by Todd Mozingo, the pastor of Revive Church. There was a list of public officials that were present including James Campo, Ed Ciampi, Harold Jenkins, and Christopher Collins. Afterwards, the meeting was adjourned for photos and a small celebration.
A motion was made by Russell and seconded by DiTerlizzi for Powers to become chair. Powers moved that Russell be vice-chair, and it was seconded by Pritchett. Both motions passed unanimously.
Russell being elected vice-chair was a bit unusual. I would think that Mr. DiTerlizzi should take that spot…although he has attended many meetings by telephone since Covid.
Good luck to these new members.
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SUPERINTENDENT DR. JOHN D. MILLAY TO RECOMMEND MODIFICATIONS TO PLANNED EMERGENCY MAKE-UP DAYS
Martin County School District
DEC 02, 2022
Due to Hurricanes Ian and Nicole, students enrolled in the Martin County School District have missed four (4) days of instruction this school year. When considering this fact and the learning gaps associated with pandemic-related disruptions, addressing lost instructional time is an extremely pressing concern for Superintendent Dr. John D. Millay and the Martin County School Board.
In November, the decision was made to have students make up two (2) of the four (4) missed days of school. While the District originally announced that school would be in session on December 19 and 20, 2022, Dr. Millay’s many conversations with families, employees and the District’s employee bargaining units, as well as the high volume of planned employee absences that would not be conducive to meaningful instruction for students, have led to his decision to recommend a modification of the planned makeup days to the School Board.
“To be successful, our students need every opportunity to experience quality teaching and learning. This is evidence-based and something we wholeheartedly believe in,” Dr. Millay said. “After consulting with our bargaining units’ leaders and in collaboration with our School Board, our school calendar will be revised to reflect instructional makeup days that do not interfere with the valued holiday plans many of our families and employees have made.”
There will be no school or work for students and employees on December 19 and 20, 2022. The final day of classes before Winter Break will be December 16, 2022. Winter Break will begin Saturday, December 17, 2022, and conclude Tuesday, January 3, 2023. Students will return to school on Wednesday, January 4, 2023.
Superintendent Millay will recommend the School Board’s approval of the following 2022-2023 school calendar changes during the Regular meeting scheduled for December 13, 2022:
- February 6, 2023, is currently listed as a Professional Development Day on the 2022-2023 school calendar. Dr. Millay will recommend that school be in session on this date.
- March 28, 2023, and May 3, 2023, are currently listed as Early Release Days on the 2022-2023 school calendar. Dr. Millay will recommend that school be in session for full days on both dates.
- Dr. Millay will recommend the Professional Development Day that was scheduled for February 6 be rescheduled to May 31, 2023.
- Dr. Millay will recommend that the professional development that would have taken place during the early release days on March 28 and May 3 be rescheduled to June 1, 2023.
SEWALL’S POINT WORKSHOP NOV 29, 2022:
As Commissioner Campo likes to say (and he did several times during the meetings), Sewall’s Point is like Mayberry. It is a far cry from the town where Andy was sheriff. This is a sophisticated place with rather sophisticated residents…not the simple town continuously referred to by Campo.
Take the never-ending circular discussion about sewers. In this rather affluent community nestled between two bodies of water and the sensitive Indian River Lagoon, there is not consensus about removing septic tanks and bringing in sewers. For as long as I can remember, the commission and residents have been arguing about whether to do this. I don’t mean months…I mean years.
North Sewall’s Point has the infrastructure to allow hook ups. South Sewall’s Point does not. This is what the discussion is all about. Some of Mayberry’s citizens don’t believe it is necessary. And that is fair enough.
Joe Capra, the town engineer, presented several options with their estimated costs. Option 1 would bring a low-pressure grinder system to all 706 homes. The cost would be $14 million. Option 2 is a combination gravity-grinder system for 406 homes that would cost $25 million. Option 3 has gravity, vacuum, and grinder systems depending on location for almost $30 million. Option 4 is an all-vacuum system that requires an additional land purchase for $34.5 million. In all options, the town is installing the lines in the roads but not funding any work to hook up individual homes
In all cases, Capra assumes grants for 50% of the cost with the town somehow making up the difference. There is no mandatory hook up unless your septic fails. It is state law that you must hook up if sewer is available if a septic system fails. The individual homeowner’s charge is $8,000 to $12,000 to install the system on an individual property. He also assumes that the town’s 50% will come from reimbursable grants to be paid by the construction connection fee.
His recommended option is to provide hook ups for 300 homes that are the most environmentally critical. The cost would be $4 million. The reason Capra gave was because Martin County does not allow grinder systems when the area being serviced has as many as 706 homes. Capra and the manager were in meetings with the county whose utility would provide the service. Martin County Utilities wants proof of the town’s seriousness. If the town were to build the infrastructure for 300 homes using the least expensive grinder system, then the county would allow that system for all the homes.
At this point MCU, as well as some granting agencies, are skeptical about the town’s seriousness. Campo wants an MOU to that effect, or he won’t support the pilot project design phase costing $130,000, but the county says it is against their policy to do so. Another wrinkle is that some residents are telling the county grant writers they don’t want sewers, according to Capra.
Without a design, there are no grants. Where do they go from here. The commission wants a workshop to answer residents’ questions. That is a good idea. One more meeting in the many already had wouldn’t hurt.
The workshop should not be the commissioners sitting on the dais giving their opinions once more. Capra and the manager only need to address the audience. The commissioners can be in the audience, but they should remain quiet. That is a large ask of the commissioners of Mayberry on the Lagoon.
One way or another, the manager needs to bring this to a head. Either build the system or wait until Martin County Utilities decides to come in and then have their mandatory assessments. That will be within the next decade, but the way Sewall’s Point decides it may be quicker to wait the decade.
To see the presentation, go here
To see the excellent report please go here
Following the workshop, the commission met as the LPA.
In most local governments, the LPA is an appointed body of citizens who meet as an advisory board to discuss matters such as code rewrites, which is what was on this agenda. When the commission acts in that capacity, they lose the ability to tap knowledgeable individuals in town and broaden support for decisions.
As the LPA, they met to discuss the LDR rewrites that Bonny Landry, and her team did. It is mandatory after a revision in the comp plan that the LDRs be rewritten to conform to the new plan. This was supposed to be a corrective session considering and noting LPA members (commissioners) comments.
It is a difficult process, and it is rather an insular one since only commissioners are involved. This was more a workshop than a voting meeting. Commissioners asked questions and made suggestions which is part of the process. What really hampered to delaying moving forward was that the matrix Landry prepared asking for direction and outlining the changes never got to the commissioners somehow.
Landry will make the changes requested, answer the questions the board members (the commissioners) had, and address it at the next LPA meeting. After the LPA vote to send the new code to the commission, then the commission will take a vote.
The commission meeting that followed had nothing to consider because the LPA had not finished its work.
You can find the LDR changes here
The matrix can be found here
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The Next Meeting Is October 10, 2022
The next meeting will be December 12, 2022
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In The Spotlight
by Jackie Holfelder
Jackie is always looking for a good story…you may reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the Spotlight Ends the Year on a High Note
As luck would have it, there’s a wonderful story to share as my final column of 2022.
I got to know Sister Mary Dooley when she was the heart behind Hope Rural School. I can’t begin to imagine the number of lives she impacted positively there and later at the KinDoo Family Center, which is also located in Indiantown.
I’m grateful to Diane and Mark Tomasik, two dedicated volunteers at KinDoo, for letting me run this article which they published in the KinDoo Family Center Newsletter.
Miracles are fueled by HOPE that sparks the DIVINE in us and makes EXTRAORDINARY things happen.” — S. Mary Dooley, SSND
Dear Friends of KinDoo Family Center,
It seems so appropriate to address you as friends, for you have truly embodied all that friendship implies: love, loyalty, concern, interest, faithfulness and so many examples of caring.
This past summer, Sister Kate and I took stock of our lives and the life of KinDoo Family Center. As we reflected on the endless blessings over these past seven years, we were in awe at the way the mission has progressed. We gave thanks to the dedication of the KinDoo Family — board, staff, volunteers, and donors. And we recognized that the KinDoo Family Center is strong and stable.
In view of all these points, and considering our age factor, Sister Kate and I have made the decision to step down in June of 2023. As we shared our decision with the KinDoo Board, difficult as it was, we told them we wanted to leave while the stars were all aligned, and the pieces were in place for continued success.
After significant prayer and discernment and in agreement with the KinDoo Board of Directors, the hope was to entrust our precious mission to an organization that has demonstrated a deep concern for the education of the poor and powerless.
It was an easy decision to choose House of Hope as the potential carriers of the mission, for we have witnessed first-hand their commitment to the Indiantown community. After an initial meeting with the executive director, Rob Ranieri, and further discussion with the House of Hope Board, the decision was made to have KinDoo continue its mission under the House of Hope umbrella beginning with the 2023-2024 school year. It is our ardent desire that the ministry to underserved women of Indiantown will continue to be a priority in the years ahead.
We want you to know that our lives have been full because of friends like you. Hugh Newell Jacobsen once said, “When you look at a city, it’s like reading the hopes, aspirations and pride of everyone who built it.” When we look at KinDoo Family Center, it is like reading a miracle story about friends who have fueled, nourished, and nurtured our hopes, aspirations, and dreams and made extraordinary things happen.
Bless you for being such good friends.
Sister Mary Dooley, SSND Sister Kate Kinnally, SSND
I can’t imagine a higher note on which to end In the Spotlight for 2022.
No matter what holiday you celebrate as we round out the year, I wish you love, peace, health, serenity, and the ability to respect and feel respected in return.
Jackie is always looking for a good story…you may reach her at: email@example.com
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Almost everyone who lives in Martin County must step into Publix to grocery shop.
The only other full-service grocery store is Winn Dixie. There are more specialized places such as Sprouts and Fresh Market. Those stores cater to residents with more money but for the average shopper, Publix is virtually the only game in town.
When Winn Dixie was in Stuart, I would go there every other week alternating with Publix. Shopping at Sprouts or Fresh Market, besides being more expensive, still means that a trip to Publix is necessary to buy staples such as detergent or canned goods. Not that I mind going to more than one store, but I can see that if you have a few kids in tow that one-stop shopping is essential.
Even now I usually make a separate stop at my butcher, fish store, and greengrocer besides Publix. I do that because the butcher has better meat, the fish store better fish and the greengrocer better produce. I hate the Publix way of having fruits and vegetables in bags rather than picking my own.
There is one thing that Publix is unmatched at and that is customer service. Their employees are so helpful, and I like the way they hire many who would have trouble finding work elsewhere. That is why I was so disappointed to see self-checkout stations popping up. Jobs will be lost no matter what the corporate line is to the contrary.
Self-checkout makes the customer do the work and not even more efficiently. You inevitably have some item that will not scan, or you are buying a six pack that requires someone to make sure you are of age. There is annoying sounds and beeps. You have lost a personal connection with another person that you may have seen for years either as a cashier or bagger.
In the big picture, I guess the bottom line to most big businesses is how to hold onto the customer by doing the least. Publix has a monopoly hold on Martin County. All the ads about family, holidays, and giving back to the community doesn’t mean much once the employees are out of the equation.
When I contacted Publix corporate offices to voice my concern, I was told that customers preferred things prepackaged and the ability to do self-checkout. Let me just say this customer doesn’t prefer not picking his own fruits and vegetables and saying hello to a smiling face. How about you?
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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)
Annual Medium Income (AMI)
Basin Action Management Plan (BMAP)
Best Management Practices (BMP)
Board of County Commissioners (BOCC)
Business Development Board (BDB)
Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)
Career & Technical Education (CTE)
Center For Disease Control (CDC)
Centum Cubic Feet (CCF)
Children’s Services Council (CSS)
Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)
Community Development District (CDD)
Community Redevelopment Board (CRB)
Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)
Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR)
Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP)
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
Emergency Operation Center (EOC)
Equivalent Residential Connection (ERC)
Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU)
Evaluation & Appraisal Report (EAR)
Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA)
Fixed Asset Replacement Budget (FARB)
Federal Rail Administration (FRA)
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND)
Full Time Equivalents (FTE)
Future Land Use Maps (FLUM)
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)
High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)
Hobe Sound Local (HSL)
Indian River Lagoon (IRL)
Land Development Code (LDR)
Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS)
Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSUM)
Local Agency Program Certification (LAP)
Local Planning Agency (LPA)
Martin County Fire/Rescue (MCFR)
Martin County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO)
Martin County Taxpayers Association (MCTA)
Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU)
Municipal Service Taxing Unit (MSTU)
Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY)
Organization For Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD)
Parks & Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB)
Planned Unit Development (PUD)
Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)
Preserve Action Management Plan (PAMP)
Request for Proposal (RFP)
Residential Planned Unit Development (RPUD)
Right of Way (ROW)
Secondary Urban Services District (SUSD)
South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD)
South Martin Regional Utility (SMRU)
State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP)
Storm Water Treatment Areas (STA)
Tax Increment Financing (TIF)
Urban Planned Unit Development (UPUD)
Urban Services Boundary (USB)
World Health Organization (WHO)