November 5, 2023

Friends & Neighbors Edition

In This Edition

We are entering a most exciting time of the year with the holidays fast approaching. We will be looking for gifts for our families and friends. I have a great idea as a gift---a free subscription to Friends & Neighbors. It costs nothing to give or receive.

All it requires is you sign them up by using their email address. If you feel guilty about not spending a dime you could pay something for the service by hitting the contribute button on the website.

Interestingly it has been a busy few weeks with our local governments and politicians. For normal people, the election is in 2024. But in today’s hyperbolic world election time is eminent. Even for local races people have already filed to run, making their intentions known.

Your best source of news will be right here as the races heat up. As usual we will ask all candidates once the qualifying deadline passes to write something telling us why they have decided to seek office. They should convince you with their words as whether they are worthy of your vote.

We do not endorse candidates nor make them go through “cattle calls” answering questions. We will call them out if they are being deceitful or not adhering to the rules as they campaign. Voters should know the caliber of their character as they seek to lead us.

So, stay tuned!

Don’t forget to follow us on our Facebook page for stories between newsletters. It is a way for us to keep you informed. As it becomes harder and harder to ferret out news from gossip or rumors from facts, this is a trusted place to acquire information.

You may not agree with all our columnists or myself but if you want you can always rebut us or become one of our writers to share your opinion.

Thanks for reading and Have a happy Sunday!  

The Difference Between Nation & Religion

By not embracing Israel’s stances regarding the Palestinians does that mean that you are anti-Semitic.

Is it the same as saying that if you do not embrace the Vatican’s positions on women or Gays, you are anti-Catholic? In both instances, the answer is a resounding no. Then why do we equate the actions of the Israeli government with a test on whether one is anti-Semitic?

Hamas’ actions toward the Israelis living along the Gaza border were horrendous. That was pure evil and against every moral teaching of our Judeo-Christian philosophy. Yet what about the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza? According to the Palestinians, thousands of civilians have died. Does one horror justify another?

I remember the 1967 War as a teenager. That was really the first time I became aware of the modern-day politics of the Middle East. Up until then, it was all about the religious teachings of the Old & New Testaments. Of course, I knew about the Holocaust and the formation of the state of Israel as a result. Yet the enmity between Israelis and Arabs only came to my conscience from the 1967 War.

I don’t think I gave it any thought again until the Yom Kippur War in 1973. By then, I was a married college student who had read more broadly. I thought at the time the Israelis would never be secure in their country unless the Arabs agreed that they should be there. In the ensuing 50 years, there has been some progress but still their position is tenuous.

The Jews I have known from my earliest years were not Israelis but Europeans. I’ve known mostly Reformed Jews but also Conservative and Orthodox. For almost 50 years, my office was on West 46th Street, which is the heart of the Diamond District. Many of my business dealings were with Jews.

I have Jewish friends. We have been to each other’s homes. We have celebrated both Christian and Jewish holidays together. We are all Americans except that we have different religious traditions.


That is why I find anti-Semitism irrational. It is just as irrational as being Islamophobic. We let the politics dictate our hatred of a religion that an Israeli or Palestinian practices. We find it hard to separate one from the other. Yet we certainly must do so.

You can be a Christian with roots in Europe, Africa, or even modern-day Israel. The same is true for Moslems and Jews. Religion transcends nations. Americans should not be an anti-anything based on how someone worships God. We should not confuse what Hamas’ or the Israeli government’s current paths are in response to the mess that is today’s Middle East by either those who are Moslem or Jew.    

A Look Into the Future

A few weeks ago, Indiantown Village Manager Taryn Kryzda was good enough to take me on a guided tour of the village.

Except for the new Tractor Supply, Indiantown hasn’t seen much new construction yet. I believe it is the lull before the storm. Development is coming, and the village will be changed forever.

Terra Lago is a massive new development which will surround the old village center and then some. It will draw thousands of new residents to the area. Not only will it be a bedroom community for those working further east but also in Palm Beach County. Prices will be very affordable by Palm Beach/Treasure Coast standards. Not so much for those now living in Indiantown.

I also peeked at the massive marinas in the area. It appears to me that much of the future of the boating and marine industries could be centered here. The waterway is protected from coastal storms and near Lake Okeechobee and would be a draw for the west coast too.

There is enough commercial and industrial space for the village to be a true hub. Manufacturing is more and more for those who have specialized skills and not as much for those possessing mere brawn and little technical know how. With Terra Lago and other communities being planned, decent housing for their workers won’t be a problem.

There are also rentals going up. The rentals are being snapped up before they are finished according to Kryzda. That is a sign that more is needed, and that development has just begun.

With all this happening, what is the future for the current residents? Indianwood may decide to sell out. That is the community that was the place many retired residents called home.

As the homes and rentals begin to fill up with new residents, Indiantown will change. There is no doubt that the village government will have to change to accommodate the new majority. Kryzda replacing Brown as manager is a sign of that. As she moves to create a more professional staff, it must reflect the desires of changing demographics.

The elected council will also change. As new residents become familiar with their new community, they will want to see Indiantown government look more like the place they lived in before. In Ocean Breeze, we just saw a council makeover once the new residents of Sea Walk moved in. Don’t be surprised to see the same thing here.

What Weather Brings

As I write this, we are having a beautiful cool day in Martin County. The wind is whipping around, the air conditioning is off, and the doors and windows are open.

After our steamy hot summer, this is a breath of fresh air…literally. It probably won’t last for very long. October is the month where a hurricane can pop up with little notice. I am under no illusion that the heat and humidity are completely over. Yet this is the day I have wanted since July.

I have never been completely happy with the weather wherever I have lived. To me, the perfect temperature is about 70-75 degrees during the day and 60-65 degrees at night. Neither the New York area nor Stuart fill that bill.

Like so much in our lives, we are always looking for something different. Some of us would prefer to live in a more politically liberal place or a more conservative one.

Perhaps we would like to have our children and grandchildren closer to us. I know I would. But the last time one of my daughters and her family came to visit, after about three days I became annoyed because my routine had changed. They were delightful. I was the curmudgeon. I also firmly believe in the proverb that after three days fish and guests need to go.

I was once told by a friend who was older that he didn’t ever expect to be happy or satisfied with his life. He felt if that was ever accomplished, he would stop growing as a person. Perhaps many of us may not express that sentiment but somehow believe that.

I will say that I am happier with my life now than I have ever been. The rat race for me is over. My wife believes that it is a drop in male testosterone that has made me, if not nicer, at least more sanguine and accepting.

Whatever it is, who can be unhappy with a bright, sunny and cool day. Besides, I am saving big time on my electric bill. And next to perfect weather not spending money also makes me happy.

The Free State of Freedonia

Ron DeSantis in the role of President Rufus T. Firefly of Freedonia, (Groucho Marx originated the role in the 1933 film, “Duck Soup”) has declared a state of emergency in Florida because of the attack of Hamas against Israel.

By DeSantis doing so by executive order he wrote Floridians need help being evacuated from Israel and local agencies need assistance handling pro-Palestinian demonstrations. Rufus’…I mean Ron’s declaration states that these concerns “constitute a major disaster which warrants the National Guard and Firefly’s…I mean DeSantis’ Praetorian Guard also known as the State Guard being activated as needed to respond.

What is going on in Israel and Gaza is horrendous. Hamas’ actions have precipitated a war that has resulted in the deaths of Israeli and Palestinian civilians. Americans have also died in the conflict. This is serious and there is no room in this tragedy for political buffoonery.

Airlines have cancelled commercial flights out of Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport. It is estimated that 20,000 Americans (Jews, Christians, and Moslems) are on the ground there and they want to come home. President Biden has announced that they will provide charter flights for all Americans who desire to return.

DeSantis in his quest to be the President of the United States thinks by sounding as if he is already president, his dream will come true. Far from it. He sounds a little desperate and grasping for relevancy as he falls further and further behind in the polls.

What happened to DeSantis? He started out as a good conservative governor. Once bit by presidential ambition he hasn’t distinguished himself in his current job much less does he seem to be ready for America’s top job. His post on X that he is sending help to the stranded Americans is a bit pathetic sounding instead of his intent to sound presidential.

DeSantis has been a strong supporter of Israel. Florida is home to many Jewish Americans (657,000). There are 300,000 Arab Americans in the state. Florida now has the fourth largest population after California, Michigan, and New York of Arab Americans.

Let us leave Rufus T. Firefly (now played by Ron DeSantis) in the capital of the Free State of Freedonia (Tallahassee, FL) to ponder his next adventure. Maybe next year Ron will star in a new production of “Horse Feathers”. He could play Groucho’s role of Professor Wagstaff and bring havoc to a college. Unfortunately, he already had that role when the production used New College as the backdrop.

Anything for a vote…” Ha cha cha cha cha.” We will save Jimmy Durante for another time. “Goodnight Mrs. Calabash. Wherever you are.”

Updated from a post in Medium”


VanRiper's Views

Darlene VanRiper

Seniors vs. Crime is a “Special Project” of the Florida Attorney General’s office.  I attended their program on Fraud at the Kane Center.  We all like to think that we are too savvy to fall victim to any of these nefarious schemes but in Martin County alone there are 5 fraud detectives handling so many cases that they cannot keep up.  Their message is not “if you become a victim, but WHEN you become a victim”. 

Categorically, there are scams that work on your emotions and are entirely preventable and then there are scams which you cannot prevent.

One of the most common is the “Grandparents Scheme”.  We all know about this one now, but it is still successful.  I thought, of course I’d know my grandchild’s voice.  Not how it goes down.  Your phone rings and the caller ID indicates that it’s a relative of yours.  You answer and the voice says Grandma/Grandpa?  You automatically say your grandson/daughter’s name. 

The phone is then snatched by someone who claims to be a police officer or attorney representing your relative.  So, you’ve only heard your loved one’s voice say one word.  You are caught off guard and your emotions are running wild.  Relationship schemes work on emotions as well.  These perpetrators know how to work you…no matter how smart you think you are.


They may present themselves as someone in uniform because people instinctively trust someone in the military or other protective services.  Martin Jacobson, Deputy Regional Director of Seniors vs. Crime Project’s advice is to STOP, THINK AND CALL a friend or relative that you trust and ask them if the situation sounds reasonable.   So many of these involve sending money overseas and once your dough is overseas, ITS GONE.  Nothing the police can do for you.

You can often get your money back from some scams, but only if you are diligent.  Check your bank balance and credit card activity several times a week.  Check your credit report a couple of times a month.  Anytime you cannot watch your card being scanned you are vulnerable to a crime.  Restaurant wait staff have used scanners.  You can set your accounts up so that you will be alerted if a charge is made.  Do this online or contact your bank for help. Don’t use a debit card.

We are all aware that scanners are commonly attached to gas pumps.  Be sure to notice that the tape on the pump has not been broken as the scanners are attached to the inside of the pump.  It’s a good idea to use the pump in front of the station door.  Most criminals would not want to be observed attaching a scanner by the station attendant.

Mr. Jacobson wants you to know that you can contact his division if you are a victim of contractor fraud as well. (  Contractor fraud is considered a civil crime and law enforcement will not be able to help you.  Contractors may take a deposit and you never hear from them again. 

Solar Energy Contractors may install obsolete panels.  Roofers could install inferior materials which will not pass an inspection.  You will be unable to obtain homeowners insurance and the bank may foreclose.  Unlicensed contractors are a big problem.  There are several sites to confirm their legitimacy. 

Florida Division of Corporations has one…  The Florida Dept. of Business and Professional Regulation has another…

Automobile finance is a newer scam.  Even well-known dealerships can be affected!  The numbers on a sales contract can easily be changed on the computer.  HAVE THE FINANCE MANGER PRINT YOUR CONTRACT OUT AND GIVE IT TO YOU! 

Darlene VanRiper’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Nicki's Place

Nicki van Vonno
van Vonno Consulting, Owner

We talk about books for children these days. We argue about books that are inappropriate and argue about who is complaining. Those individuals complaining are often labeled as Goody Two-Shoes: prim, prudish, suspicious, and sickly sweet.

The Fall edition of Smithsonian Magazine details the amazing story of the real Goody Two-Shoes and the birth of stories written for the young readers.

Ms. Goody Two-Shoes was not a book banner. She was an orphan who only had one shoe! The child  realized that to survive, she had to learn to read, borrowing books from children who did go to school.

Published in 1765,  “The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes” is the novelization of Margery Meanwell’s life story. Margery is so excited to receive a pair of shoes that she becomes known as Goody Two-Shoes. Meanwell teaches herself to read, foils a robbery, founds a school, earn her own living, marries a wealthy man, fights for animal rights, and overcomes rumors and accusations of witchcraft.

This novel is the first kid lit book. It sets the standard even now for children’s literature: entertaining young readers while teaching the values of kindness, honesty, hard work, and education. Although the hero is female,  this book was popular among both boys and girls.

Jane Austen’s copy of Meanwell’s book was found after her death. You can see the alphabet printed on the bottom of the page so that young readers can learn their letters. There are many versions and copies of her story. In addition, another version of her story was  published  several decades later, written by a male writer. 

Meanwell’s lasting contribution is the acknowledgement that women’s lives mattered, especially considering the harsh economic conditions many women experienced. It reflects the growing arguments about women’s education, and women’s roles. Her school was an education incubator developing teaching methods. Some of her innovations are still used today. Meanwell  crafted wooden block sets to teach reading and math. She invented “the Considering  Cap” for students to wear when they needed to focus on an assignment and used mediative techniques.


Nicki van Vonno’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Hafner's Corner

David Hafner
UF/IFAS, 4-H Youth Development Agent

Beware of Stingy Jack!

As families decorate their homes with autumn motifs and carved pumpkins, there is a story that should be remembered: the origin of the Jack O’ Lantern.

According to Irish legend, old Jack was a drunk and a trickster and was not well-liked by the people in his village. In fact, he was so deceitful he caught the Devil’s attention. The Devil, looking for souls to steal, visited Jack to take him to Hell. Jack, being a quick wit, convinced the Devil to let him have a drink before they went. At the pub Jack told the Devil to pay as Jack had no money. When the Devil turned himself into a gold coin Jack put the coin in his pocket next to a silver cross so the Devil could not turn back into himself.

The Devil, now stuck in Jack’s pocket with no way out, began to plead and bargain with Jack. The Devil promised to leave Jack alone for ten more years if Jack released him. Jack accepted the deal and released the Devil.

Ten years later the Devil came again for Jack’s soul. And again, Jack used his wit to trick the Devil. Jack told the Devil he’d go willingly if the Devil would get an apple for Jack from up a nearby tree. The Devil agreed, but once the Devil was in the tree Jack carved a cross in it which trapped the Devil once again.

Jack offered another deal to the Devil, but this time it was the Devil’s freedom in exchange for Jack’s soul. Jack made the Devil promise to never come for his soul again. When the Devil agreed Jack released him.

Not long after old Stingy Jack died. When Jack approached Heaven’s gates Saint Peter denied his entrance due to the sinful, deceitful life he had led. With no other option, Jack headed to Hell, but when he arrived the Devil wouldn’t take him either. The Devil not only promised not to take Jack’s soul, but he was still upset from being tricked twice by the man. As the Devil turned Jack away, he gave Jack a burning coal to light his way.

Now stuck between Heaven and Hell, Jack was left with nowhere else to go but to wander the darkness on earth. Jack carved a lantern out of a turnip, placed his coal within, and he has been wandering the earth ever since. Some say you can see him wandering in the swamps late at night.

As the story of Stingy Jack- how he lived in such a way that no one would take him- passed down from one generation to the next, the ghost of Stingy Jack became known as Jack of the Lantern and then eventually as we know him today- Jack O’ Lantern.

On All Hallows Eve, the Irish would make Jack O’ Lanterns out of hollowed out turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes, and beets to ward off evil spirits and to keep Stingy Jack away. In the 1800s, waves of Irish immigrants came to America where they discovered the larger and easier to carve pumpkins.

That is why today we carve a pumpkin, put a scary face on it, illuminate it, and put it on our porch.

David Hafner’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Carl's Conclusions

Carl Frost
Kai Kai Farms, Owner

With ever more scrutiny on greenhouse gas emissions, farmers will have to modify their operations, specifically “cultural practices” or the interaction between man, soil, fertilizers, and machines.

No-till farming is gaining favor as it reduces emissions produced by soil decomposition when fields are violently ploughed exposing soil biology to the elements leading to their decomposition. Furthermore, when that biology is diminished or destroyed entirely the next crop does not receive the benefits of those colonies of microbes and fungi. These must be re-established with expensive soil amendments and composts.

Commercial vegetable farming practices rely upon fossil fuels. Traditionally fields were sprayed with herbicides followed by discing. This mechanical practice inverts the top six inches of the soil to accelerate decomposition of crop and weed residues and so begins another cycle of weed development; formerly buried weed seeds are exposed to oxygen. By lifting weed seeds to the top inch germination begins when water and the correct temperature are present.

When weeds germinate the farmer must decide either till, which is a less violent form of discing or apply more herbicide. Without a protective crop, grass pasture or forest, the field is at its most vulnerable state. Rain and wind will erode topsoil diminishing its capacity to grow anything and the topsoil which is transported off site can pollute water bodies. No-till farming reduces soil disturbance.

No-till farming is practical for crops like corn, soybeans, and sugarcane because they are grown on a field which has not been modified with raised bed plasticulture common in Florida vegetable farms.  Vegetable seeds are extremely expensive.  For yield enhancement the farmer builds raised beds and employs plastic film which offers many benefits like disease suppression, moisture control and structural reinforcement to name three. With plastic film the soil must be free of residues which can puncture films, about 1 mil thick, compromising their effectiveness. No-till and plastic film are opposites.

While no-till vegetable farms are possible on a small scale due to resource limitations reduced tillage farming is possible if significant modifications are made to cultural practices. This includes sub surface drainage networks to replace raised beds and large portable plastic blankets for weed suppression during off-season or when cover crops are not present.

Carl Frost’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Non-Profit Perspective

Carol Houwaart-Diez
United Way of Martin County, President & CEO

Fall is here, and this time of year marks the beginning of preparations for the holiday season by local nonprofits.

For over 30 years, United Way of Martin County has proudly served as the official coordinating organization for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation. The generosity of our community is showcased through the toys donated at various drop-off points across Martin County, which plays a vital role in assisting families who enroll in our program.

While some people aren’t even thinking about Christmas yet, here at United Way, we have been working with Santa’s Helpers, A.K.A. our community partners and the school district, to identify and register families who could use an extra hand during the holidays. Yes, I said registered. Our program is not a giveaway. It is designed to assist families during one of the most stressful times of the year, to create memories for children and families, and to allow parents the dignity of providing a Merry Christmas. In Martin County, over 44% of families represent the ALICE population (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed or the working poor). These individuals are one paycheck away from a disaster and let’s face it, the holidays can tap everyone’s resources.  

Through the United Way Holiday Project, parents get to shop for toys, receive stocking stuffers and, to top off the festive experience, take a frozen turkey and all the trimmings for a holiday meal. Volunteers and staff work tirelessly to prepare for two full days of distribution and help is always appreciated. If you’re interested in joining in on this magical time of year, please check out our website to find the many ways you can help during the holiday season. It’s as easy as being a toy collection site, volunteering some time or just making an outright donation to the program.

Our gratitude extends to so many volunteers, partners, and sponsors that it would be hard to name them all. But I would be remiss if we didn’t mention our AmeriCorps Senior volunteers, Ashley Capital, STS Aviation, Zweben Law Group, Dennis Longstreet and other generous donors, Martin County School District and the agencies we partner with who refer individuals and families to our program. What sets our program apart is our commitment to avoiding duplication of services. Just like Santa, we make a list, and we check it twice with both House of Hope and the Salvation Army to ensure accuracy and efficiency.

Annually this program benefits thousands of children and anywhere from 800 -1200 families. However, we can only rely on the generosity of our local community to assist all the families that need help with the upcoming holidays.

While for some, it is the most wonderful time of year, for others, it is the most stressful. It is a staple in every child’s life to experience the magic of Christmas, and I hope you will join me and others to ensure that we make that a reality for our kids in Martin County.

As always, if you would like more information, please feel free to reach out to me at work, 772-283-4800, via email, or our website,

Carol Houwaart-Diez’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Contemplative Christian

Chad Fair
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Pastor

War is Never Black or White or Faithful

In February of this year, I took my first pilgrimage to the Holy Land. 

If I’m being honest, I went because it was something I thought I needed to do because I’m a pastor, not because I wanted to.  You see, I went to a seminary in Gettysburg PA, so I got a heavy dose of tourism living on the battlefield.  But this trip to the Holy Land wasn’t a tourist trip.  It was a spiritual pilgrimage.  The running joke between a colleague and I was that we cried our way through the Holy Land, because we were frequently moved to tears. 

During Sunday worship at Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem the organ started playing “How Great Thou Art.”  We began singing in English, of course, and the congregation sang in Arabic.  What resulted was a heavenly rendition as the voices melodically bounded off the old stone walls.  Afterwords we imagined that’s what heaven might sound like.  Different cultures, different languages lifting their voice together in beautiful song.  I was so moved by the entire experience I am scheduled to return in April.  While our trip is not yet cancelled, it is on hold.


Over the last few weeks, I’ve really struggled with what’s going on in the Holy Land.  I have some amazing Jewish friends, for them the attack by Hamas hits much closer to home than it does for most of us.  I also have Palestinian friends, including some I met during my trip in February.  They too are experiencing the harrowing effects of war.  So often the world is presented to us in black and white terms. 

If this, then that and if that, then this.  There has been so much rhetoric that tries to force us to pick a side.  If you support the Palestinian people, you are automatically antisemitic and if you support the Jewish people, you must hate Palestinians.  My world, and I hope yours as well, is not that black and white. 

You see, we can denounce the terrorist actions of Hamas and denounce the airstrikes that take innocent lives.  Much of the rhetoric in faith communities says, “pray for Israel.”  Yes!!! Pray for the people of Israel, and the people of Palestine.  Hamas and Palestinian are not one and the same.         

These are indeed difficult times.  Times fraught with conflict and division.  Maybe we can rise above the divisive narratives and choose the side of peace and justice.  That is the prayer we should all be offering.  

Chad Fair's opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Walter's Corner

Walter Deemer
Martin County League of Women Voters, Co-Chair

The October 26 Rivers Coalition meeting topic was “Moving Lake Water South”, which every Coalition member devoutly wants to see happen to avoid harmful discharges down the St. Lucie Canal. Drew Bartlett, Executive Director of the South Florida Water Management District, and two colleagues explained, though, that sending water south isn’t just a matter of opening a gate and letting ‘er flow.

Getting water from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades National Park, they explained, is quite a complex process. The water first goes from the lake into one of the Stormwater Treatment Areas (STAs) which use native aquatic vegetation to clean water.  Later, it’s sent further south into one of the Water Conservation Areas (WCA), essentially big reservoirs for Miami-Dade and Broward County. The water then has to get past the Tamiami Trail, a big man-made barrier with only a few openings for the water to get into the Park.

There are constraints every step of the way.  STA and WCA levels must be carefully managed to 1) avoid damaging the aquatic growth, an essential part of the cleansing process, 2) make sure there’s enough room for them to take in excesses during the wet season (think hurricanes), and 3) monitor how close they are to capacity. Right now, for example, all the WCAs are full; nothing can be sent south from the STA’s. And on top of all that there’s a huge unknown unknown: how much rain will we get during the rainy season and just where in the basin will it fall (most of the water in the WCAs comes from rainfall, not the STAs just upstream).

The bottom line: Sending water south is a highly intricate procedure with operational restrictions each step along the way. The SFWMD is acutely aware of our concerns and intends to respond to them as best they can, but can’t just open the floodgates and send all the water south.

A bright spot: Although the authorities have been working for years to establish new operating guidelines for managing the lake level and discharges those guidelines – which are much friendlier to our area – aren’t officially in effect yet. This summer, though, the Army Corps of Engineers followed the new guidelines more closely than the old ones, which resulted in the lake being kept at a higher level than it would have been under the old but still-in-effect guidelines and thereby avoided the need for large discharges. If the old guidelines had been strictly followed we could very well have suffered through another Lost Summer with large toxic discharges being sent down the St. Lucie Canal into the estuary. The Corps, in other words, took our oft-expressed health concerns into consideration as they managed the lake level this summer – and that’s encouraging!   

One final note. Our beloved River Warrior, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, was kicked off the South Water Management District’s Governing Board this summer when Senate President Kathleen Passidomo had a hissy-fit in response to some comments Jacqui made. Jacqui was an unbelievably powerful advocate for our local needs and is irreplacable.  However, our new local representative on the Board, Cheryl Meads, has been attending the Rivers Coalition meetings regularly, and her comments have been constructive and addressed our concerns. Personally, I think we could have done a whole lot worse than having Ms. Meads represent us. My fingers remain crossed…

Walter Deemer's opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Business Development Board

Joan Goodrich
Business Development Board of Martin County, CEO

There’s good and then there’s scary good. Since it’s almost Halloween, we’ll go with the latter to describe the winners of the 2023 Martin County Business Awards.

They’re that impressive.

At the Business Development Board of Martin County, we have the privilege of conducting Pulse visits with local businesses. These meetings enable us to learn directly from the individuals whose innovations and services power our economy.

Even with the benefit of this familiarity, the ingenuity, creativity, and diversity of the local economy is especially on display during the nomination period of the annual business awards.

(We certainly don’t envy our award selection committee, composed of board of directors tasked with choosing among the high caliber of immensely qualified contenders.)

This year’s crop of winners includes companies whose contributions to the marketplace range from reimagined shipping containers to tattoo treatments to even shaping key scenes in the sequel to the blockbuster film, Avatar.

Supported by presenting sponsor Bank of America, the 2023 Martin County Business Awards take place at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 8 at Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa in Jensen Beach. Other key sponsors include Ashley Capital, Carr Riggs & Ingram CPAs and Advisors, Sandhill Cove, City of Stuart and many more.

Here’s a look at the winners, saving the recipient of the esteemed Charlene Hoag Leadership Award, which remains under wraps until its big reveal at the close of the ceremony:

  • Business of the Year: International Training, a Stuart-based multinational learning management system that also operates dive centers locally and globally and even helped train the cast of “Avatar: The Way of Water” on free-diving techniques.
  • Company to Watch: ADDiTEC, a Palm City manufacturer that develops novel metal 3D printing technologies and engineers' robotic systems tailored to its customer needs.
  • Headquarters of the Year: Awareness Technology, the Palm City-based manufacturer acclaimed internationally for its clinical laboratory instruments and diagnostic kits used in life science research, food safety, veterinary and environmental applications.
  • Manufacturer of the Year: Pace Machine & Tool, a Stuart aerospace manufacturing company specializing in precision tooling, fixturing and parts creation for defense suppliers and the aerospace industry.
  • Newcomer of the Year: Containing Luxury is a Palm City company that designs shipping containers into affordable, safe, stylish housing solutions.
  • Nonprofit of the Year: Martin County Police Athletic League uses sportsmanship, friendly competition, fitness and mentoring to instill in elementary-, middle- and high school-age children invaluable life lessons. 
  • Entrepreneur of the Year: Eddie Kolos, CEO and founder of Stuart-based H2Ocean created an expansive line of clean beauty products, skin care, pain relief, tattoo aftercare and First Aid items using eco-friendly organic ingredients.
  • Youth Entrepreneurs of the Year: Jaxon McIntrye and Matthew Elder, seniors at Jensen Beach High School, launched J&M Window Cleaning Service started this summer by going door-to-door and have since acquired nearly 50 clients.

So, when you see these owners, entrepreneurs, and executives around town, give them a “way to go” shout-out,” “congratulations,” and wish them a sweet treat-filled (not tricks) day!

Joan Goodrich's opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Humane Society of the Treasure Coast

Frank Valente
Humane Society of the Treasure Coast, President & CEO

Teaching Future Generations To Be Kind

Therapy dogs play a valuable role in the community. They provide therapeutic services to people in need and also educate the public on proper animal care and pet body language. The Humane Society of the Treasure Coast’s (HSTC) Lessons in Kindness program is specifically designed to keep children safe and raise future generations to be responsible pet owners.

Over one hundred HSTC certified therapy dogs and their handlers visit a multitude of schools and clubs each month. Their goal is to teach children to recognize the signs of fear, aggression, or discomfort in animals in order to reduce the risk of bites or other negative interactions.

Unfortunately, children are the number one victims of dog bites in America, and we are hoping to lower that statistic through our Lessons in Kindness Program. Our teams teach students that anything that has a heart or brain is trying to communicate with them. Through interactive sessions and activities, kids can learn how to approach animals calmly and gently, respecting their boundaries and personal space. They also learn when to leave an animal alone, and what to do if a stray or unknown animal approaches them.

By educating children about proper pet care and empathy towards animals, we are hoping to reduce cruelty cases and instances of animal neglect for the next generation. Teaching children from an early age to care for animals not only benefits the well-being of pets but also raises a more compassionate society overall. Our teams teach about the importance of spaying and neutering your pets as well as educating students on Puppy Mills. Caring for a pet is a big commitment, and we want to make sure our future generations know what it takes to be a responsible pet owner.

Surprising to many, animals share many of the same emotions that people do! We teach students that they should treat their fellow humans with kindness, just as they do with animals. Our therapy dog teams help create an environment where young individuals develop responsibility and respect towards pets – qualities that will have long-lasting positive effects on both humans and our furry, four-legged friends.

HSTC’s Lessons in Kindness program is free of charge. It can be presented to classrooms, scout troops, after-school programs, and much more. If you or anyone you know are interested in participating in our Lessons in Kindness program, please reach out to Jessie Clifford at or 772-600-3221. More details about this program can be found at Please note that this program must be scheduled at least 60 days in advance.

Frank Valente's opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Helping Hand

Suzy Hutcheson
Helping People Succeed, CEO

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

As we come to the end of October and National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), we are celebrating the many contributions and achievements of employees with disabilities. While we celebrate, there are still many people with disabilities who would like to be employed but aren’t so please keep reading!

Employees with disabilities are dependable, loyal, and eager to learn—and research shows that their inclusion in the workforce improves overall employee retention rate and morale. According to the Harvard Business Review—"Disability as a source of Competitive Advantage”, their research suggests that having employees with disabilities in its workforce can build a firm’s competitive advantage in four ways: (1) Disabilities often confer unique talents that make people better at particular jobs; (2) the presence of employees with disabilities elevates the culture of the entire organization, making it more collaborative and boosting productivity; (3) a reputation for inclusiveness enhances a firm’s value proposition with customers, who become more willing to build long-term relationships with the company; (4) being recognized as socially responsible.

Helping People Succeed is the nonprofit that’s been making a difference on the Treasure Coast for more than half a century in the employment for people with disabilities arena and other valuable services leading to employment.

First, we offer employers in Martin, St. Lucie, Okeechobee, and Indian River counties the opportunity to explore and hire someone with a disability. We have many businesses that the employer can contact to see what their experience has been. They will gain the confidence they need to hire someone with different abilities.

Secondly, we offer employers individuals who match the needs with the abilities and skills necessary; we provide on-site training for the new employer (if needed) and we

 Brittany Ramus—Bonefish Grille

provide on-going support services to ensure a successful job placement for the employee and employer.

In addition to job placement services, Helping People Succeed offers additional opportunities leading to employment including

PROJECT SEARCH—a school year internship program with Cleveland Clinic in collaboration with the Martin County School District, the ARC of the Treasure Coast and Helping People Succeed. The purpose is to provide real world training leading to employment.

Individual Placement and Support (IPS)—an opportunity for those

with mental health issues continue with their therapy services as well as employment.

Career Camps—offered during the summer and specific holidays for students to experience opportunities as they reach adulthood. Included are excursions to the various educational institutions in our area; visits to small and large businesses to learn what was available and traveling to various museums, libraries and other generic resources that are available to everyone.


                                                                                           Charles Chambers—HomeGoods

Helping People Succeed has the answers to the needs of employers as well as students and adults with disabilities. Our slogan is “We create taxpayers”.

While October is National Disability Employment Awareness month, people with disabilities are looking for employment all year long and Helping People Succeed is here to help!

Call Shannon Wilson, Successful Futures, at 772.320-0770 to see how we may assist you!

Suzy Hutcheson's opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Keep Martin Beautiful

Tiffany Kincaid
Keep Martin Beautiful, Executive Director

Dreaming of a Green Holiday:

Keep Martin Beautiful’s Guide to an Eco-Friendly Season!

While holiday time in Florida might not bring snow, it sure brings heaps of waste – a whopping 25% increase between Thanksgiving and Christmas! This year, let’s paint the town green with these eco-friendly tips from Keep Martin Beautiful:

1.  Wrap it Right: Ditch the traditional wrapping paper and get creative:

  • Use recycled paper or the comics section of a newspaper.
  • Scarves double as gorgeous gift wraps and presents.
  • Decorate plain brown bags with flair, minus the glitter.
  • Better yet, skip the wrapping altogether – it’s your thought that counts!

2. Deck the Halls Sustainably: Transform your holiday decor with a touch of green magic:

  • Invest in a live Christmas tree with roots for replanting.
  • If artificial, choose recycled PVC trees for a greener option.
  • Opt for LED lights – they’re 95% more energy-efficient.
  • String popcorn instead of tinsel for a classic, eco-friendly look.
  • Embrace nature: paint pinecones or use branches for a rustic vibe.

3.  Gifts That Give Back: Spread love while being kind to the environment:

  • Explore thrift stores for unique, affordable finds while supporting charitable causes.
  • Give plants or herb gardens – decorative, healthy, and eco-friendly.
  • Donate to a local or global nonprofit in someone’s name.
  • Shop locally and support unique community businesses.
  • Gift experiences like massages, concerts, or painting classes.
  • Choose recycled items or high-quality reusable products.

4. Clean Up Green: Be mindful when cleaning up post-celebrations:

  • Recycle what you can and find new purposes for items.
  • Compost organic waste to enrich the soil.
  • Opt for eco-friendly cleaning products to reduce your impact.
  • Make sure you dispose of your Christmas tree properly. Learn more here.

This holiday season, let’s reimagine our celebrations, making small changes that make a big difference. Together, we can truly go green and stay green! From all of us at Keep Martin Beautiful, we wish you a joyous and eco-friendly holiday seaso

Tiffany Kincaid's opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Art of Business

Chriss David
Founder, Chriss David and Associates

AI – Should It Stay or Be In Our Business Life?

Many local business owners have asked me my thoughts about artificial intelligence. Does it really help you do business? Is it safe? Will it take over our lives? The answer is yes and no; it depends on how you choose to use it and the power we all give to it.

I like to use the theory that Huang and Rust developed regarding AI. They broke it down into four types of intelligence: mechanical, analytical, intuitive, and empathetic. In simpler terms, they suggested that machines can't just be "smart" – they've got to have some heart, too. You know when you're chatting with a customer service bot and wish you were talking to a real person? That's because machines often lack that human touch.

But imagine if we could teach machines to think and feel a bit more like us. Beyond just customer service, this could revolutionize marketing. Think about the times Amazon or Google hit the nail on the head with their targeted ads. AI's potential is not just about crunching numbers but also understanding our moods and behaviors.

For small businesses in Martin County and beyond – this AI trend isn't just for the big leagues. A study showed that 91% of small businesses using AI said it's made a huge positive difference! AI has recently made some giant leaps. It’s not just about crunching numbers anymore. Businesses can have a conversation with AI, which can become your AI assistant!

Most small businesses save time, reduce errors, and grow faster thanks to AI. Can you believe nearly a third of them said AI could save them at least $5,000 in the next year? And while only 26% are on the AI bandwagon now, 44% are looking to hop on soon. Their main concerns? Understanding AI, data security, and the costs. But with the proper guidance, these can be tackled head-on.

And here's something interesting: when small business owners were asked what they'd do with an extra hour saved by AI, many said they'd use it to better their business. Only 22% said they'd take a breather – Having either option is terrific.

I believe AI can seriously help small businesses with their biggest pain point: getting new customers. With AI, marketing becomes less of a chore and more of a strategic game. Automation combined with AI can lead to more personalized and effective campaigns. Think of it as your marketing assistant who knows when and how to reach your customers.

AI isn't some futuristic, out-of-reach tech. It's here, and it's making waves. It could be the secret sauce for success for small businesses, especially in places like Martin County.

Chriss David’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

President of the Martin County Teachers Association

Matt Theobold
President of the Martin County Teachers Association

As I write this column, I know we’re not even at Thanksgiving yet, but like many of our local retail chains, I simply cannot wait to get into the holiday spirit! With the pumpkins of Halloween starting to fade and the aroma of turkey filling our homes, the traditional songs of the season begin swirling in my mind like a sugarplum fairy dancing the Nutcracker ballet.

The song stuck in my head today is “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, and as it plays on repeat in my brain, I can’t help but think of the many gifts that my teacher’s union has fought to provide me and my fellow educators. Unlike those in the Christmas carol, these gifts aren’t extravagant or unnecessary. They are rights that are essential so that teachers can provide the best possible education for our students. So, with that in mind, I’d like to present my own rendition of this holiday classic, called The 12 Rights My Union Gave to Me

  1. A lunch that is duty-free.
  2. Two and a half uninterrupted pre-school planning days to help me prepare my room and my lessons for my students.
  3. Workdays for planning, preparation, and professional development to allow me to hone my craft and respond to the needs of my students.
  4. Health insurance and other benefits like vision, dental, and life insurance.
  5. Supplements for extra-curricular activities.
  6. Six Paid Holidays.
  7. Evaluations that ensure high quality instructional services.
  8. Faculty Councils to provide teachers a voice regarding their working conditions.
  9. Paid Sick Leave.
  10. The right to due process should I need it.
  11. 45 minutes of uninterrupted planning every day.
  12. A 196-day contractual year that includes time off during the winter and the spring.

While it isn’t quite as catchy as the original, I am thankful for these and other rights that have been collectively bargained between MCEA and the Martin County School District. Many non-union members can also be thankful because Florida is a right to work state, and all teachers enjoy these rights, regardless of union membership.

However, there are some grinches who believe we shouldn’t have a voice, and they are actively trying to take these rights away by passing laws that require teachers’ unions to maintain 60% membership in order to negotiate.  There is a solution, though. All teachers can give themselves the gift that keeps on giving...

Join your union and stop the grinches from taking away your rights and your voice. Becoming a member of MCEA will cause more than your heart and your union to grow. As your union grows in strength, you will see wages, benefits, and student performance increase as well.


Matt Theobald's opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Julia's Healthy Gems

By: Julia Chiappetta


The autumn harvest brings healthy & delicious produce options rich in vitamins & antioxidants. On the scene you will see squash, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and crispy apples. The selection is colorful and abundant. And remember, Organic key.



Sweet, crunchy, and available year-round, but always associated with fall and packed with antioxidants & flavonoids. Did you know there are 7,500 varieties of apples! Chop them into salads or bake wonderful pies.


At their best in the fall, with colors of red, purple, golden and white. Their greens are rich in nutrients and a compound called betaine, which helps soothe the live. Consider adding the greens to your juice, smoothies, or salads. 

Brussels Sprouts & Cabbage

These two offer useful sources of vitamins A & C and high concentrations of cancer-fighting glucosinolates.


Associated with Thanksgiving, but I also like to add the dried, unsweetened ones to my salads & side dishes. They may help with urinary tract and oral infections.


I really like the European to Asian varieties along with Bosc and Bartlett. Pears are high in soluble fiber which may help in lowering bad cholesterol.


Held sacred by ancient religions, their health benefits recognized by some popular juices and studies suggest their antioxidants may reduce cardiovascular complications.


They offer one of the best sources of alpha and beta-carotene which help with cell growth. The seeds offer a source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that may help with high blood pressure & colon cleansing. 

Rutabagas & Turnips

These root vegetables may look odd and bumpy, but they make up for that in fiber & nutrients. Like beets, their greens pack a punch.

Butternut Squash

Part of the gourd family with good levels of vitamins A, E and B6 and they make a great fall soup. I add chopped apples & pears to taste, and for a nice thick blend.

Sweet Potatoes

Rich in beta-carotene and a reliable source of Vitamin C. Eat the skin for extra nutrients and fiber.

As we reflect on the Fall Harvest, my hope is that we share our blessings with those around us who are hurting. Perhaps offering a bright smile and greeting to a stranger, random hugs to those we know or surprising an elderly neighbor with a visit.

We are all wired for Love & Encouragement.


Glucosinolates: Molecular structure, breakdown, genetic, bioavailability, properties, and healthy and adverse effects - PubMed (

Julia Chiappetta is the author of “Breast Cancer: The Notebook

Julia Chiappetta’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Other Opinions


Article 2: A Track Record of Success

Jim Snedeker & Merritt Matheson
Martin County Forever


                                                                                             By: Jim Snedeker & Former City Mayor Merritt Matheson Committee Members 

Martin County is a special place. That’s why so many of us who weren’t born or raised here decided to move here and call this place home. The small-town charm, the slower pace, the lower density, and of course the abundance of undeveloped, natural lands.

Over the past 10 months, a small group of concerned citizens has been working together on an initiative called “Martin County Forever.” Our mission is to acquire and preserve important natural lands in Martin County for the benefit of present and future generations. 

Why does that matter?  For many obvious reasons. Acquiring land will help to protect the unique character of Martin County, clean and restore our rivers and waterways and safeguard sources of drinking water, preserve valuable wildlife habitat and wetlands, and create more recreational opportunities.

How much land are we talking about and where is it located? There are about 46,000 acres of natural lands within four target areas that are identified on Martin County’s Land Acquisition Map. As seen on the map, they include Blueways, Indian River Lagoon Watershed, Loxa-Lucie, and Pal-Mar.

The citizens of Martin County have a long and proud history of supporting the acquisition of environmentally sensitive lands.  Several referendums have been passed where Martin County Citizens voted to tax themselves to generate funding for land acquisition. 

For example, a voter approved half-cent sales tax in 2006 generated about $30 million and was used to leverage an additional $30 million from state and federal sources.  This is often the case, where the County commits to funding a specific local initiative and is then able to secure State and Federal funda to make our local tax dollars go further. 

In fact, many of your favorite parks and preserves were acquired with funds generated from those referendums.  These acquisitions include important preserve areas such as Halpatiokee and Atlantic Ridge state parks, beaches throughout Hutchinson Island and regionally significant park facilities like Indian Riverside Park.  In addition, these acquisitions have been critical to the improving water quality in the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. 

In total, over 70,000-acres of conservation land have been acquired because of this type of funding. These parks and preserve are used by tens of thousands of people every year and are critical to the Martin County way of life.

There are still significant matching funds available but they are limited and the clock is ticking. Unless we get in-line for them, we will lose out on this opportunity.

We can do it again and shape the change and the future we want.

We know talking about taxes can be controversial but as we’ve embarked on our outreach efforts, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the widespread support we’ve received for the idea. Environmental groups and business leaders alike have encouraged us to move forward with our proposal to the Martin County Board of County Commissioners - to have referendum language placed on the November 2024 ballot for a half-cent sales tax to purchase and preserve Martin County’s most environmentally sensitive lands.  

A half-cent sales tax could generate about $18.3 million a year for 10 years.  A significant portion (about 38%) would be funded by visitors who spend their money in Martin County.  And importantly, the tax will NOT apply to groceries, prescription medication or school supplies.  Also of significance is that properties would only be acquired from willing sellers.

Skeptics might want to know how we can trust our government to spend the money as intended.  That’s why we’ll be building safeguards into the referendum language including the creation of a Citizen Advisory Committee and an audit among other things. 

If you’d like to schedule a presentation to your group or association, please contact us at

For more information, visit our newly launched website at  and follow us on Facebook at

Jim Snedeker's & Merritt Matheson's opinions are their own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Florida Still Best Place Under The Sun

By Brandon Tucker Ex. Dir. Florida Land Owners Association

I recently stumbled upon some vintage ads from the 50s and 60s about living and retiring in Florida.  “We’ve found the recipe for happier living” read one. Another was selling a 1,226 square foot, 3-bedroom, home for just $70 a month. Another promoted Space Age Homes for only $2.18 a day.

At those prices, it’s easy to see why Florida was sold as the ‘Best Place Under the Sun.’

A lot has changed over the years, but I think that description still holds true. Last year, Florida was named the fastest growing state in the nation for the first time since 1957.

According to Zillow, Florida has surpassed New York as the second-most-valuable real estate market in the country.  Big cities like Miami and Tampa have seen the most dramatic housing price increases but statewide home prices have gone up every year since 1946. Today, the median sales price for single-family existing homes is about $415,000, a 2% increase from last year.

There is a lot of talk about billionaires buying up property and pushing home prices higher. Which in turn is pushing the middle class out of the state in search of fewer costs and people.

But our beautiful state is not just for the rich. There are still parts of the state where median home prices are in the $150,000 range. Small towns like Clewiston, Palatka, Port St. Lucie, and Lakeland are garnering a lot of national attention for their charm and affordability.

As the state evolves, there is room for improvement to ensure it can be enjoyed by all. There’s been no shortage of conversation around the need for more affordable housing, higher wages, and lower home insurance rates.

And, to keep our state great, we can’t lose sight of the importance of thoughtful development with an eye toward preserving critical agricultural land and protecting our coastal regions. 

Long-term, successful growth in Florida requires that we protect and preserve land ownership both for those who have lived here for decades and those who are new to the Sunshine State. That’s how we maintain the fundamentals of what this state represents and how it entices others to move here.

Things change, but I look forward to seeing more ads about Florida still being the Best Place Under the Sun for the next generation too --- recognizing they might be in digital format this time.

Constitutional Corner & Non Profit Notices


Supervisor of Elections

Tax Collector

Property Appraiser

If you are a homeowner and have the Homestead Exemption, your assessed value is limited from increasing year to year to a maximum of 3%. But did you know that even Non-Homestead properties benefit from an assessment limitation? Please watch our newest educational video to learn more.

Martin County Clerk & Comptroller

Non Profit Notices

Champions of Change: United Way of Martin County Celebrates Community Leaders

STUART, FL – United Way of Martin County celebrated the kickoff of its annual campaign with the Community Leaders’ Celebration luncheon held at Sailfish Point Country Club on October 20. The event served as a platform to honor the outstanding achievements of the past year while highlighting the organization's goals for the future. At the luncheon, which was attended by nearly 200 people, United Way thanked the dozens of organizations and thousands of individuals who raise millions of dollars every year to help Martin County residents meet their basic needs and build better, more stable lives for themselves and their families.

Bryan Garner, Senior Marketing and Communications Director for NextEra Energy/FPL, served as event emcee.


“Although we’ve experienced a lot of turmoil this past year causing unexpected world changes, one thing that stays consistent is United Way,” Garner said. “Regardless of the situation, local United Ways play a critical role in communities by providing help and hope for residents to get back on their feet.”

During the luncheon, United Way announced Martin County’s Top 10 Most Generous Workplaces and Communities that make our community investment possible:

Top 10 Most Generous Workplaces:

  1. Publix Supermarkets
  2. Seacoast Bank
  3. Florida Power & Light (FPL)
  4. Cleveland Clinic Martin Health
  5. Martin County Board of County Commissioners
  6. Pratt & Whitney
  7. City of Stuart
  8. Raymond James Associates
  9. Bank of America
  10. Ashley Capital

Top 10 most Generous Communities:

  1. Sailfish Point
  2. Piper’s Landing
  3. Harbour Ridge
  4. Willoughby
  5. Loblolly
  6. Sandhill Cove
  7. Mariner Sands
  8. Sewall’s Point
  9. Jupiter Island
  10. Jupiter Hills

Ashley Capital

These are the Top 10 of the nearly 200 companies and communities whose employees and residents gave philanthropic contributions to United Way of Martin County during the previous fiscal year. Since United Way’s inception of honoring our Top 10 Most Generous Workplaces and Communities, Publix Supermarkets and Sailfish Point continue to reign as the most generous workplace and community in Martin County.

The following awards were presented to organizations and individuals that went above and beyond to support United Way of Martin County’s efforts by donating their time, talent and treasure:

  • The Hand Raiser Award was presented to STS Aviation Group for always raising their hands to help when United Way is in need.
  • The Rising Star Award was presented to Ashley Capital for their volunteer and sponsorship support.
  • The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Germaine Alger for being a staple volunteer in our AmeriCorps Seniors Program for over 24 years.
  • The Unsung Hero Award was presented to Alicia Kotch for her significant behind-the-scenes impact on our community.

United Way also would not be able to uphold its mission without the support of our incredible sponsors. Their unwavering commitment is the driving force behind our ability to honor the true game changers in our community:

  • Publix Supermarkets
  • Seacoast Bank
  • Pratt & Whitney
  • Arati Hammond Team at Keller Williams Realty
  • Besty Herold
  • C&W Technologies
  • Florida Power & Light
  • HBK CPAs and Consultants
  • Keane Thomas & Pinnacoli
  • Sandhill Cove
  • SouthState Bank
  • STS Aviation Group

Campaign Co-Chairs

The goal of United Way is to increase self-sufficiency for every person in Martin County through resources and programs that promote health, education and financial stability. This year, United Way invested over $1.7 million in local programs to help Martin County families get solid financial ground, students succeed in school, and youth learn vocational and technical skills, among other amazing programs.

For more information about United Way of Martin County, visit


About United Way of Martin County

United Way of Martin County’s mission is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of our community. United Way continues to create long-term social change and provide support to Martin County residents by investing in programs that strive to: enhance healthy living, improve education, and support financial stability.



Martin Artisans’ Guild Presents “Tis the Season Exhibit

By Jackie Holfelder

Whatever holidays you celebrate between now and New Year’s Day, they will be merrier and brighter and more festive if you include ‘Tis the Season in your revelry.

Enjoy the conviviality at Martin Artisan Guild’s annual holiday exhibit from November 1-December 30 at The Palm Room Art Gallery & Artisans Boutique, located at 3746 SE Ocean Boulevard in Stuart’s Harbour Bay Plaza.

The opening rlive takes place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on November 1 and will feature the live music, cash bar and delectable appetizers for which all Martin Artisan Guild events have become known.


Return to the Palm Room for a second round of seasonal joy at the “Meet the Artists” event on December 6 from 4-6 p.m.


Carolyn Walsh

The talented artists with work in Tis the Season include:

·        Carolyn Walsh

·        Caryl Pomales

·        Charlie Cote

·        Chris Kling

·        Cynthia Cooper

·        Deborah Bottorff

·        Dinija Berkien

·        Ed Douglas

·        Glen Allen

·        Jane Baldridge

·        Josephine Stokes

·        Judi LeBlanc

·        Linda Reymore

·        Lynn Morgan

·        Maria Miele

·        Mark Stall

·        Mary Mirabito

·        Nancy Smyth

·        Patricia Pasbrig

·        Patricia Reagan

·        Sue Klahne

·        Suzan Allen

Gallery hours are noon- 6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Days, when it is closed.


Mary Mirabito

For more information, visit

Photos provided by Martin Artisans Guild


House of Hope Is Serving Up Thanksgiving Dinner

With All the Fixings

STUART, Fla. –A Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings is a tradition that is financially out of reach for thousands of Martin County residents who are food insecure.

House of Hope is once again stepping in to help with its annual turkey drive and its goal of serving a holiday meal with all the trimmings to families in economic need. In the true spirit of the giving season, community members are invited to drop off a frozen turkey and any other food or monetary donations to any House of Hope pantry by November 3. Groups, organizations and neighborhoods are also encouraged to conduct a food drive in their community to help those in need.

“Boxed and canned items are also always in demand,” according to House of Hope CEO Rob Ranieri. “Vegetables, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy – all of the things that help to make a meal festive are needed by our families. Thanks to our operations at the Growing Hope Farm, we’re also able to add fresh fruits and vegetables to our meal packages.”

In an innovative approach to getting fresh food to their clients, House of Hope developed hydroponic greenhouses as well as conventional in-ground beds and an orchard at their production farm in Palm City. “We’re growing our own,” Ranieri said, “so we can be sure our clients benefit from fresh produce along with other staples in their diet.”

The demand for food assistance remains high. “This year we have distributed over 1.5 million pounds of food through our four food pantries and the thirty food pantry partners that collect food from us regularly. And the current economic uncertainty means that the demand curve keeps trending up,” Ranieri said.

Donations of turkeys and other foodstuffs or monetary donations can be brought to the House of Hope offices at 2484 SE Bonita Street in Stuart or any of the House of Hope food pantries in Jensen Beach, Hobe Sound and Indiantown by November 3. Monetary donations can also be made online at

“People need food, and we’re prepared to help them. With the generosity of our community and the harvests from our farm,” Ranieri said, “we can make this Thanksgiving one that’s filled with the spirit of gratitude and also healthy food.”

Families or individuals in need can contact House of Hope at 772-286-4673 to learn about eligibility and registration deadlines.

About House of Hope

Founded in 1984, House of Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship. House of Hope touches the lives of more than 7,000 people directly each month, helping with basic needs such as food, clothing, furniture, and financial assistance, as well as longer-term case management services that help build life skills for a more self-sufficient future. Over 6,000 additional residents are served through House of Hope’s food partners, bringing the total served to over 13,000 people each month. The organization has service centers in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown, and Jensen Beach, and Thrift Shops in South Stuart, Hobe Sound and Indiantown. House of Hope’s Enrichment Centers in Stuart, Jensen Beach and Indiantown offer free programs, technology, and workshops designed to enhance life skills, earning potential, health, and overall well-being. House of Hope also operates the Growing Hope Farm in Palm City and several nutrition gardens that provide sustainable sources of fresh produce for clients as well as nutrition education and vocational opportunities to the community. For more information, visit or call 772-286-4673. Updates and announcements can also be found on Facebook, Instagram, and the platform known as X.


Loxa-Lucie Initiative Secures Second Parcel for Protected Ecological Corridor in Hobe Sound

Hobe Sound, Fla. – An innovative and ambitious plan to create a permanently protected ecological corridor in south Martin County between the Loxahatchee and St. Lucie rivers has taken a significant step forward with a second land acquisition along Bridge Road in Hobe Sound.

The Conservation Fund, a member of the Loxa-Lucie Headwaters Initiative, has closed on a 20-acre tract on the south side of Bridge Road in Hobe Sound. This piece of land is another critical component to the Loxa-Lucie vision for conserving a landscape spanning nearly 70,000 acres between and including Jonathan Dickinson State Park and the Atlantic Ridge Preserve State Park.

“We’re especially proud that the land purchase was made possible solely through the generosity of the community,” said Matt Sexton, Senior Vice President and Southeast Regional Director for the Conservation Fund and a Loxa-Lucie Steering Committee member. “The fundraising campaign we launched last December to purchase this piece of land was a great success. The $1.2 million raised enabled us to acquire the land with private donations. We didn’t need to draw on any governmental funds.”

The first parcel purchased by the Loxa-Lucie Initiative was a two-mile long stretch along the north side of Bridge Road that was acquired in 2021. This second acquisition, which is on the south side of Bridge Road and is adjacent to county-owned lands, furthers the Loxa-Lucie Initiative’s vision to bring undeveloped properties along the Bridge Road corridor into permanent conservation stewardship. The tract will help restore previously existing wetlands and assist in re-establishing the natural hydrological connection to the Loxahatchee River. It is within the eastern leg of the Florida Wildlife Corridor project and will also help to conserve a corridor for the wildlife that depend on these connected ecosystems of the Atlantic Ridge Preserve State Park and Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

Historically, this land mass, called the Atlantic Ridge Ecosystem, was recognized by the state as the critical component in the preservation of the Loxahatchee Watershed and the South Fork of the St. Lucie River and was included in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program’s (CERP) Indian River Lagoon South Project.

The need to preserve the remaining lands that are part of these important watersheds is greater than ever. Saltwater intrusion issues in the Loxahatchee, higher demand for potable fresh water, increase in development pressure and rising real estate values are all driving this urgency.

As the Steering Committee for the Loxa-Lucie Initiative continues its campaign to generate funds from private donors for additional land acquisition, it has also taken its message to Tallahassee.  “We’re raising awareness about the project to garner funding through Florida Forever, a well-established state-wide program to buy land for conservation and recreation,” explained Sexton. “We have an opportunity to preserve this precious ecosystem for future generations, and we need to take it.”

The Loxa-Lucie Headwaters Initiative is a collaboration among three well established non-profit 501(c)(3) environmental organizations: the Guardians of Martin County, the Treasured Lands Foundation and The Conservation Fund. The Initiative has generated widespread and growing support among citizens, community groups, businesses and government entities, including the Town of Jupiter Island and the Martin County Board of County Commissioners.

Other organizations that have expressed support include: Audubon of Martin County; Center for Plant Conservation; Friends of Jonathan Dickinson State Park; the Hobe Sound Golf Club; Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program; Jupiter Island Garden Club; Jupiter Island Historical Society; Jupiter Island Residents Association; the Loxahatchee River Management Coordinating Council; the Martin County Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society; the Rivers Coalition; various Hobe Sound area homeowners associations and landowners along the Bridge Road corridor.

The Steering Committee urges all who care deeply about the Loxa-Lucie Initiative and its noble objectives to contribute generously to its ongoing efforts to purchase adjacent and related properties in Martin County. To make a tax-deductible contribution, click here. Education and outreach is also critical to this initiative. To schedule a presentation to your group, contact Greg Braun at 561-758-3417 or  For more information, visit


Homecoming to help the shelter animals 

STUART, Fla. — Homecoming isn’t just for high school students! It’s also for supporters of the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast (HSTC), which is hosting its own Homecoming dance, presented by The Bark Park. The festivities will be held from 7-10 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 17, at the Marriott Hutchinson Island Beach Resort, 555 NE Ocean Blvd.

“This is a formal ball in the fall, which many will identify with as a millennial dance party,” said HSTC Communications Manager Sarah Fisher. “We invite you to join your friends and familiar faces center stage, as your favorite songs from the mid-90s to the early 2000s fill the air. This will be a night to remember, so arrive in style and prepare to break it down on the dance floor.”

The event will include a DJ, light bites, raffles, a photo booth, and of course, a king and queen crowned during the event! There also will be unique vendor opportunities taking center stage on the homecoming court. Tickets are $60, which includes two free drinks. Participants must be 21 years of age or older. Tickets may be purchased online at

Participants are encouraged to create a personalized HSTC Homecoming fundraising page to share with their family and friends. All funds raised from this event will directly benefit the shelter animals. To create a fundraising page, go to

The top male and female fundraisers will be crowned king and queen at the event, and will enjoy all the “purrks” of their newfound royalty to include the following:

  • two tickets to the HSTC’s August 2024 Pup Crawl
  • two tickets to the HSTC’s November 2024 Homecoming
  • naming rights for one animal in adoption
  • a one-quarter page ad in Clawsmopawlitan, the keepsake program at the Paws & Claws Gala
  • and one ticket to the Paws & Claws Gala on Feb. 24, 2024 (with a minimum of $500 raised)

For more information, contact Community Events Specialist Alyssa Bean at 772-600-3215 or Or visit the website,

About the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast – The Humane Society of the Treasure Coast (HSTC) is a no-kill animal welfare organization located at 4100 SW Leighton Farm Ave. in Palm City, FL. Since 1955, it has been the leading advocate for animal protection and well-being in the Martin County area. A 501(c)3 private, nonprofit organization, the HSTC is independent and locally operated and relies on donations to support its programs and services. Follow the HSTC on Facebook at and Twitter 


Helping People Succeed Recognizes October as

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

By Glenna Parris

Each October, during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), Helping People Succeed celebrates the many contributions and achievements of employees with disabilities. There are still many people with disabilities who would like to be employed but aren’t, however.

Employees with disabilities are dependable, loyal, and eager to learn—and research shows that their inclusion in the workforce improves overall employee retention rate and morale. According to the Harvard Business Review—"Disability as a source of Competitive Advantage”, their research suggests that having employees with disabilities in its workforce can build a firm’s competitive advantage in four ways: (1) Disabilities often confer unique talents that make people better at particular jobs; (2) the presence of employees with disabilities elevates the culture of the entire organization, making it more collaborative and boosting productivity; (3) a reputation for inclusiveness enhances a firm’s value proposition with customers, who become more willing to build long-term relationships with the company; (4) being recognized as socially responsible.

Helping People Succeed, the nonprofit that’s been making a difference on the Treasure Coast for more than half a century in the employment for people with disabilities arena and other valuable services leading to employment.

They offer employers in Martin, St. Lucie, Okeechobee, and Indian River counties the opportunity to explore and hire someone with a disability. They have many businesses that the employer can contact to see what their experience has been. They will gain the confidence they need to hire someone with different abilities.

Sharon Harmer, a participant in Helping People Succeed’s Successful Futures program, working at Wendy's in Jensen Beach

Helping People Succeed offers employers individuals who match the needs with the abilities and skills necessary; they provide on-site training for the new employer (if needed) and provide on-going support services to ensure a successful job placement for the employee and employer.

In addition to job placement services, Helping People Succeed offers additional opportunities leading to employment including:

PROJECT SEARCH—a school year internship program with Cleveland Clinic in collaboration with the Martin County School District, the ARC of the Treasure Coast and Helping People Succeed. The purpose is to provide real world training leading to employment.

Individual Placement and Support (IPS)—an opportunity for those with mental health issues continue with their therapy services as well as employment.

Career Camps—offered during the summer and specific holidays for students to experience opportunities as they reach adulthood. Included are excursions to the various educational institutions in our area; visits to small and large businesses to learn what was available and traveling to various museums, libraries and other generic resources that are available to everyone.

Helping People Succeed has the answers to the needs of employers as well as students and adults with disabilities. Their slogan is “We create taxpayers.”

Call Shannon Wilson, Successful Futures, at 772-320-0770 to see how they can assist you.

Photo provided by Helping People Succeed


Worthy Property Bonds Donates $10,000 to Family Promise of MC

By Jackie Holfelder 

A generous donation of $10,000 from a prestigious and socially conscious company to Family Promise of Martin County will help alleviate homelessness for working families with children in Martin County.

Worthy Property Bonds, a leading sustainable investment platform, announced its donation at the nonprofit’s recent Bed Race fundraiser. The grant will support the construction of tiny homes designed to provide housing and hope for those whom Family Promise serves in Martin County.

The grant will help Family Promise of Martin County advance its mission of providing safe and stable housing for working families with children and seniors experiencing homelessness. The tiny home project not only provides shelter but also empowers residents to regain independence and self-sufficiency.

"We are thrilled to support Family Promise of Martin County in its noble mission to combat homelessness. At Worthy, we believe that every individual deserves a safe place to call home. The tiny home project aligns perfectly with our values of creating a positive social and environmental impact on communities," said Sally Outlaw, Chair of Worthy Property Bonds.

 Madeleine Bozone-Greenwood, executive director of Family Promise of Martin County, accepting a $10,000 check from Sally Outlaw, chair of Worthy Property Bonds

The donation is part of Worthy’s belief in supporting initiatives that address critical community needs and promote financial inclusivity. The sustainable investment platform allows individuals to invest in bonds that support small businesses in the United States. The company remains committed to making a meaningful contribution to the betterment of communities across the United States. This donation reflects their dedication to addressing one of the most pressing issues of our time, homelessness.

In accepting the $10,000 check, Madeleine Greenwood Bozone, executive director of Family Promise of Martin County said "This grant opportunity came to us through another wonderful donor of ours. We are grateful to all who have contributed. This gift from Worthy bond investors will add to the funds contributed by our many supporters and will help us complete our goal to expand our Almost Home housing program that offers shelter, dignity and hope to those who need it most.”

To learn about Worthy, visit

For learn about Family Promise of Martin County, visit

Photo provided by Family Promise of Martin County


Banner Lake Early Learning Center CLASS scores

Banner Lake Early Learning Center is a School Readiness provider. The School Readiness program prepares young children for success in elementary school and beyond. Each local Early Learning Coalition provides support to School Readiness providers through professional development training, mentorship, assessment, health screenings, and more. They also provide funding and assistance for families to have access to high quality child care for their children.

In order to be able to be a School Readiness Provider, a program must be able to get a CLASS score of at least 4. CLASS is an acronym for Classroom Assessment Scoring System. This is an evidence based observation tool used by certified observers from a local Early Learning Coalition. This tool measures the quality of the interactions between teachers and children. An observer spends time in a classroom to see how these experiences and interactions are helping preschool children to develop language skills and learn. They also tour the classes to see how well they are organized and whether or not the room is set up to manage children’s behavior and keep their attention. A classroom should be responsive and sensitive to a child’s needs, helping them to manage emotions and interact with peers.

We are extremely proud of our early childhood educators. They are dedicated to academics and the emotional well being and growth of each of their students. Each classroom scored at least a 5 and because of their efforts we have an overall facility score of 5.46! Programs that earn a high CLASS score support greater learning in language, math, and early literacy.


Three Years In, CarePortal Holds Door Open to New Opportunities

Port St. Lucie – CarePortal, a wish-request system supported by a network of local churches, has been fully implemented in Okeechobee and the Treasure Coast for three years and is proving itself an effective tool for those working directly with families in the dependency system.

In fact, dependency case managers and protective investigators who use CarePortal give the tool a nearly perfect rating - 4.9 out of 5.

"That's better than the iPhone 14," said Derek Albinson, CarePortal coordinator for 4Kids, the nonprofit organization hosting the tool in Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties.

Nearly 800 local children have been served through CarePortal since it was unveiled in St. Lucie County in December of 2020.

And more are served every day, Albinson said.

From July through September of this year, 72 percent of all local requests made to the CarePortal from July through September of this year were fulfilled. The outlook was even better in Okeechobee, which saw 100 percent of its requests fulfilled.

That's up from the previous three months, when 57 percent of requests throughout the four counties were fulfilled, Albinson said.

The total number of requests and the number of children served have also been increasing, generating a total in-kind value of $46,000 during the most recent quarter.

"CarePortal provides a lifeline when the needs of a client don't align with the priorities of the community," said Kolena Powell, a Hope Navigator for the state Department of Children and Families' Pathways to Prosperity program.

Hope Navigators Like Powell guide Floridians on an path to economic self-sufficiency by focusing on community collaboration between the private sector, faith-based community, nonprofits and government entities.

Some of the needs specially met through CarePortal include payments for storage and specialized baby formula. Powell said the CarePortal even helped her provide a sturdy tent to a homeless woman while she was working on more permanent housing.

CCKids - the organization that oversees the local child-welfare system - also has found CarePortal to be a significant help in serving families, said Christina Kaiser, CCKids community relations director and agency CarePortal liaison.

“CarePortal has been significant in improving the experience of children and families in our foster-care community,” she said. In many instances, it helps to stabilize a placement in foster care or with a relative, and it sometimes helps in the process to reunite children with their families.

And its been an effective tool for dependency case managers who previously had to run from county to county to find resources for their families.

"Not only does CarePortal provide needed resources, it does it in a way that is highly efficient for case managers," Kaiser said. "The churches connect directly with families and take care of everything, including delivery."

In return, the responding church has an opportunity to embrace the family spiritually and to continue to be a presence in their lives if asked.

St. Lucie County was the first to roll out the program in late November of 2020, followed by Martin County a few months later and then Indian River and Okeechobee counties during the summer of 2021. The total economic impact of those fulfilled requests over all four counties is $332,000, Kaiser said.



Martin County Healthy Start Is Florida’s Leader in Alliance to Reduce Infant Loss and Maternal Morbidity

Stuart, Fla. - Martin County Healthy Start has joined the ranks of some of the country’s largest and most innovative maternal health providers to reduce preventable maternal morbidity and mortality. It is the only organization in Florida invited to be part of the National Healthy Start Association’s Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health Community Care Initiative (AIM CCI).

“We are excited to be in the company of providers like the  Dartmouth Hitchcock Clinic in New Hampshire, the Eli Collins for Premature Infants at the Williamsburg County Community Coalition in South Carolina, and Hello Neighbor Smart Start in Pennsylvania,” said Healthy Start CEO Samantha Suffich. “It puts us in a leadership position in the state to establish Local Maternal Safety Workgroups and work with community partners to improve birth outcomes for our mothers and babies.”


The Martin County Healthy Start Coalition received another accolade from the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health. It was named a Clinical Community Integration Champion at the association’s 2023 annual meeting.

Lucy Collazo, a Doula with the Martin County Healthy Start Coalition

All of the Healthy Start Coalitions on the Treasure Coast – Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee - came together this year to collaborate in a community process called Fetal Infant Mortality Review (FIMR). A Case Review Team examines the details leading to each incident of infant death on a monthly. The Community Action Group then develops and executes an action plan based on what they’ve learned to prevent future fetal or infant losses.

Martin County’s infant mortality rate stands at 1.2 deaths per thousand births, a significant decrease since Healthy Start began its work in 1994. At that time the rate was 12.31 deaths per thousand births.

“All of our partners have worked hard to provide the care and support expectant mothers need to be able to deliver healthy babies,” Suffich says. “Our current rate is an improvement, but we know that every infant loss is one too many. Every effort to prevent such a tragic loss is worth it.”

Healthy Start is home to Madison’s Miracles, which offers bereavement support to families who experience such a loss. More information about Madison’s Miracles is available at the Martin County Healthy Start website,

About Martin County Healthy Start

Martin County Healthy Start is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that every baby is born healthy, every mother is supported, and every father is involved. It provides educational and health services to pregnant women, new mothers and their families at no cost, particularly expectant mothers who are at risk for late or no prenatal care.

Part of a statewide coalition, Healthy Start connects pregnant women and young mothers with essential services including prenatal care, home visitations by a nurse or social worker, breastfeeding support, parenting education, car seat and sleeping safety, a free diaper pantry, and access to other community partner agencies through the Betty Moore Prenatal Outreach Center. The David Cardno Fatherhood Initiative, also part of the Martin County Healthy Start Coalition, helps fathers to become more involved in parenting and offers legal assistance to fathers who are separated from their children.

The programs of Martin County Healthy Start Coalition are voluntary and available to all Florida residents at no cost.

For more information about Martin County Healthy Start Coalition and its ongoing programs, visit, call 772-463-2888 or follow the organization on Facebook.


Impact100 Martin Brings “Woman Who Started It All” to Kickoff in November

STUART, FL - Impact100 Martin is celebrating that start of its seventh year of awarding grants to local nonprofits with a kickoff on November 9 featuring “the woman who started it all,” author and philanthropist Wendy Steele.

“Wendy has been an inspiration to our local Impact 100 chapter and to chapters across the country and the world,” said Maureen Cotter, Board President of Impact100 Martin. “She has helped us define the model for collective giving that truly transforms entire communities.”

The kickoff, in addition to featuring Wendy Steele’s presentation, will give Impact100 Martin members an opportunity to hear about the tremendous work that past grant recipients have accomplished and to sign up for another year of membership.

The Impact100 model is a very simple one: each woman who participates contributes $1,000 a year, reviews the nonprofit grant submissions, and votes at the annual meeting on the projects most likely to have profound and lasting community impact. For every 100 women, Impact100 is able to award one $100,000 grant.

In its brief history, Impact100 Martin has awarded more than $1.4 million. Last year alone, the group distributed three $100,000 grants and two other grants totaling an additional $66,000.

“We have a vibrant nonprofit community,” Cotter said, “and we share their passion for the projects they propose in their grant submissions. Our goal is to reach 500 members, allowing us to award five $100,000 grants this coming year - one in each of our five areas of focus.” Those focus areas include: art and culture; education; family; health and wellness; and environment, preservation and recreation.

Impact100 Martin membership continues to grow in number and in camaraderie.  Each 100 members translates into another $100,000 grant to benefit a nonprofit organization in Martin County.

“Wendy’s message has resonated throughout our community,” according to Cotter. “Her simple but powerful model for women’s philanthropy  has given us the tools we need to make generosity contagious.”

Prospective members are invited to attend the kickoff celebration from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 9 at the Elliott Museum. Tickets are $30. To register or for more information, go to


Impact100 Martin is a nonprofit organization with a mission of creating positive, lasting change in the community through collective giving. Founded in 2017, it is a chapter of the national Impact100 Movement founded by philanthropist Wendy Steele to transform communities through the power of women’s philanthropy. It is a member-driven organization that awards grants in $100,000 increments each year to local nonprofits in the areas of arts & culture, education, family, health & wellness, and environment, preservation & recreation.  Detailed information about membership, grants, and community impact is available at the website or on Facebook at


WEST SIDE STORY Directed by Jennifer Yormak! November 9-12 at StarStruck Theatre! TIX at or call 772.283.2313



No Tricks, All Treats for Local Kinship Caregiver

Port St. Lucie – There are no tricks this Halloween season for local kinship caregivers – just a friendly knock on the door and a bag of treats.

This week, CCKids’ kinship navigators distributed 22 bags of food to the families they serve throughout Okeechobee and the Treasure Coast. It was all thanks to an unexpected donation from Hands and Feet of the Treasure Coast, an organization that provides resources to foster parents and relatives caring for family members in CCKids’ child-welfare system.

Hands and Feet had extra food donated to its pantry, so the organization’s coordinator – Kristin West – offered to share the abundance with the CCKids’ Kinship Navigator program.

The program provides support to relatives and others caring for children in the child-welfare community and helps them access local resources to ensure those children don’t move further into the system or into licensed foster care.

“Our kinship families often have urgent needs for financial assistance or other tangible goods,” said program supervisor Rachel Khail. “Because of these donation, caregivers get to experience relief and support as they work tirelessly to keep children in safe  homes where they feel bonded.”

She added that strong partnerships with community provides like Hands and Feet allow the entire child-welfare system to better serve families.

Khail’s team spent the week sorting and packing food and other donated goods into family bags. Families who could pick up their bags came to CCKids headquarters in Port St. Lucie Wednesday, while the remaining bags are being delivered by staff throughout the rest of the week.

The Hands and Feet project began serving local families in July of 2022.

“When we get a request, we go to the community first,” West said. If that doesn’t work, the request is posted to a following of Amazon “wish listers,” people who follow the project and purchase needed items.

For more information, or to become a supporter, follow the program on Facebook @thehandsandfeet:deliveringhelpandhope, or visit the website at

Learn more about CCKids, the Kinship Navigator program and the local child-welfare community of care at


4th Annual Family Promise Bed Races: A Resounding Success

By Jackie Holfelder

Nobody got out of the wrong side of bed on the morning of October 14 when 250-plus attendees, including 13 teams of creative and energized folks who rolled down the streets of Stuart in themed beds, made Family Promise of Martin County’s 4th Annual Bed Races a roaring success.

People of all ages came together for a fun-filled day of spirited competition, laughter and philanthropy. The event featured bounce houses, facepainting and a food truck, along with vendor tables.

The enthusiastic support that Family Promise received confirmed the admiration the community has for the nonprofit’s commitment to providing shelter, support and hope to families experiencing homelessness in Martin County.

Team Toby Overdorf vs. Immanuel Palm City

Of course, the highlight of the day was the thrilling bed race, where 13 teams vied for the coveted title of "Fastest Bed in Martin County,” among other honors! Teams from local businesses, community groups and families designed and decorated their own beds on wheels, each with its unique flair and style. The competition was fierce, and the creativity on display was impressive. Team Toby Overdorf won fastest bed.  Other categories and winners included Best Theme: First United Methodist of Hobe Sound; Popular Vote: American Legion Post 62 and Auxiliary Unit 62; and Highest Fundraising: Unity of Stuart.

Bed Race judges included Florida State Senator, Gayle Harrell, Martin County Commissioner Ed Ciampi,  Stuart Police Chief Joe Tuminelli and Joe Flanagan, who also was race referee.

Teams included generous sponsors who not only support Family Promise of Martin County's mission financially, but also by participating in the race. You can find a complete list of their names at

"We are thrilled that the 4th Annual Bed Races had such an incredible turnout," said Madeleine Bozone-Greenwood, Executive Director of Family Promise of Martin County. "This event is not just about racing beds, it's also about racing towards a brighter future for families in our community who are experiencing homelessness. The support we've received from teams, sponsors, vendors and our volunteers this year has been nothing short of remarkable." 

The event, which raised close to $35,000, not only served as a source of entertainment for the community but also as a vital fundraiser for Family Promise of Martin County's programs, which provide emergency shelter, meals, and comprehensive support to homeless families.

Allison Wigley, Bed Race committee chair and emcee, the entire Bed Race committee and all the teams, sponsors, vendors, and attendees combined their talents and hard work to make the 4th Annual Bed Race an exceptional day. Their support is instrumental in the ongoing success of the organization's mission to end family homelessness in Martin County.

For Love of Learning/Stuart Congregational team

To learn more about Family Promise of Martin County, visit

Photos provided by Family Promise of MC


Letters From Readers

I urge those who are reading this newsletter to send an email expressing their opinions on subjects. When a reader sends one, it will be included if I find it relevant and I have adequate space. I may edit the letter because of length and clarity. You don’t have to agree with me to have your letter in Friends & Neighbors. All you must do is send it to TOM CAMPENNI or fill out the form on the website.

From Richard MacAuley

Re Ronald Schatten's letter to the editor 10/13

While I can not speak of Ms. Van Riper's issues with the IRS,  as a new member of the MCTA I can speak to Ms. Van Riper's hard work and dedication to the taxpayers of Martin County   The MCTA  is a non-government volunteer organization ( MartinCountytaxpayers ) whose officers are elected or appointed by a governing board.

 I can, however, speak to Mr. Schatten's shallow defense of the IRS. The IRS has been politicized and weaponized against conservative thought including the Tea Party and other patriotic groups and has now apologized and paid restitution. 10/27/17. Reporter Matt Taiabbi's home was visited by an IRS agent on the very day that he was testifying before Congress which ironically was investigating the weaponization of government agencies. 3/27/23.  IRS leaked personal data to the public and to various government agencies about Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Donald Trump. Bloomberg news 10/16/23. Surely there are bigger fish for Mr. Schatten to fry than an individual's complaint about her encounters with yes I'll say it, "a rouge IRS.


From Suzanne Balcaitis

Save Our Salerno: just asking if you could do a story on what all these signs mean , did I miss something, and who’s behind this ?

See Darlene VanRipers' story on the NAC this week and look for more in the future.

Martin County


There was a presentation from Adam Blalock from Florida’s DEP.

HB 1379 which passed last year applies to the Indian River Lagoon. Not only does it expand water quality, but it also provides more funding for those projects. It establishes the Indian River Lagoon Protection Program made up of Basin Action Management Plans for the Banana River, the Central Indian River Lagoon, the Mosquito Lagoon Reasonable Assurance Plan, and the North River Lagoon. The BMAPs must have measurable plans to meet TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Loads) which is the total daily pollutants allowed.

The state has determined that beginning next year, all new construction must either hook up to a sewer system and, if none are available, then an enhanced septic system. By 2030, no new septic systems will be permitted. If there is a sewer line available, the homeowner must hook up. If sewers are not available, then the homeowner must have an enhanced septic system. An enhanced system costs around $30,000. 

There were $100 million available for Indian River Lagoon projects in 2023/24. Over the past 4 years Martin County was awarded $84 million. All agricultural operations must have BMAPs also. You can see the full presentation here 

Discovery had a revised master site plan. This was mostly related to the phasing of the project. The only other change of note was that there will now be 18 golf cottages instead of the 10 as per the existing plan. They are allowed one cottage per hole by code.

During the LPA meeting the week before, I (as an LPA member) asked the applicant how many bedrooms there would be per cottage. I was told they were planning on up to 2 foursomes (8 bedrooms per cottage) or a maximum of 144 bedrooms. That is a large hotel. At the time, staff said nothing.

During the commission meeting, staff said that only 6 bedrooms per cottage were allowed in the rural lifestyle land use. These cottages are owned by Discovery and cannot be sold. However, they can be rented by Discovery members. Discovery has many resorts and members.

I moved to approve the site plan at the LPA because it was perfectly within the LDRs. However, I also stated that I didn’t believe the intent of the commission was to allow for what, in reality, is just a high-end Airbnb. I still believe this matter should be addressed by the commission.

A motion was made by Smith and seconded by Jenkins. It passed 4-1 with Heard dissenting.     

Our Very Own Hole-In-The-Wall Is Back

An email to Pal Mar Manager Michael McElligott from Martin County Sheriff’s Office Legal Advisor, Bernard Romero notified the district that they would no longer provide an off-duty detail, paid for by the district.

That doesn’t mean they won’t respond if called to Pal Mar it just could take several hours to do so. The district was willing to pay for the extra patrols to end the destruction of district property. The sheriff’s willingness to do so lasted only for a few short months.

The email is produced below:

From: Bernard R. Romero <>
Sent: Monday, October 16, 2023 4:34 PM
To: Michael McElligott <>
Cc: William K. Dolan <>; John M. Budensiek <>; Cynthia R. Brown <>; Peter D. Croft <>; Bonnie M. Bouvier <>
Subject: Off-Duty Work details.

Good afternoon, Mr. McElligott.

I spoke with Chief John Budensiek and Lt. William K. Dolan regarding the off-duty work details that the Martin County Sheriff’s Office has been providing to residents of the Palmar area regarding the many issues that may arise there.  Providing an off-duty work detail is a courtesy that is often extended to members of the public.  This entails the allocation of resources and manpower, when they are available, and when there will not be an appearance of impropriety.

I have been told that these off-duty work details have become onerous to those who are providing them.   Due to manpower resource issues, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office has decided not to staff these off-duty details henceforth.   Perhaps FWC will provide the off-duty details for you and the property you manage.

If you have any questions regarding this issue, please contact Lt. William K. Dolan.


Bernard Romero, Esq.

Legal Advisor

Martin County Sheriff’s Office


For some time now the newest landowners in Pal Mar have acted as if the water control district was their very own lawless wild west. It has become reminiscent of where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid would hide out in the badlands of Wyoming where no lawman ever went. Environmentally sensitive lands are being destroyed but so too has it become dangerous for the farms, ranches, and communities surrounding Pal Mar like Trailside because of nonstop gunfire.









Illegal Structure In Pal Mar

There was a noticeable difference recently since the patrols began in the amount of deadly fire being directed from Pal Mar to the neighboring community of Trailside. When I first became involved in this story the automatic rifle gunfire was nonstop. Farm animals had been shot and having rounds piercing Trailside buildings was common. Some residents even left their homes on the weekends because they were afraid.

The sheriff’s budget is over $100 million. There are 621 total FTEs of which 449 are in enforcement with the rest of those working at the jail or courts. It doesn’t look like our county sheriff wants to protect the residents of this part of the county from mayhem…even if they pay extra.

Bullet Hole In Trailside Barn

I am now convinced Martin County has its own area where law enforcement either fears to tread or intentionally wants to ignore the dangerous conditions that exist. The residents of Trailside deserve better. So too do those Pal Mar landowners that want to peacefully enjoy their property, including the ones that go to hunt legally.

If a Palm City, Jensen Beach, or Hobe Sound neighborhood was experiencing a crime wave would they have to pay extra to make sure they received adequate patrol services? The residents of Trailside or the board of the water control district shouldn’t either. Even if they are willing to do that as in Pal Mar’s case they shouldn’t have to.

It is time for the state to step in and investigate the deteriorating situation in this part of the county. Or are county and state officials going to wait until a resident of Trailside or a kid exploring Pal Mar is killed by gunfire? This lawlessness is being allowed to happen by the very officials that are charged with preventing it from occurring.

As Published In Martin County Moments    

Parking & Parks In Port Salerno

Darlene VanRiper

The Port Salerno Civic Center was not quite as crowded on October 12th as it was for the recent Town Hall meeting. That night It was a near standoff between the residents of the Port Salerno CRA (Community Redevelopment Area) and Commissioner Heard. 

But many did show up at the Neighborhood Action Committee (NAC) meeting with concerns about a suggested “linear” park to be installed along Salerno Road (behind “Getting Crabby”) and parking along Commercial Ave, just west of the railroad tracks.  $34,000 has already been spent on a feasibility study and another $15,000 recommendation by the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council to see if the linear park is “feasible”. 

Now that it was determined to be so, more will be spent on environmental and engineering studies etc.  Martin County will give birth to its 74th park.  The rendering showed it to be lovely.  No doubt it will enhance the leisure activities of the residents of Port Salerno.   This issue seems settled.  

Port Salerno NAC

While parking has been discussed for over a decade as part of the CRA overhaul of “downtown” Port Salerno, there simply is no land to be had east of the tracks.  The CRA director has been recommending parking spaces to be installed along Commercial Ave.  Residents, some having lived over 60 years in the area, protested that parking west of the tracks has never been an issue. 

Common sense tells them that no one is going to use parking which would require walking across the heavily used railroad tracks.  Parking there was only necessary during the now defunct Seafood Festival.  Someone remarked that this was a typical example of government trying to solve a non-existent problem. 

However, there were several levelheaded residents and business owners present to question the solution.  When Port Salerno is finally developed, they suggested the parking issue could be resolved.  If it is up to the residents that will be at least another decade. 

City of Stuart


During the CRA meeting the matter regarding structural repairs to the city-owned restaurant next door to City Hall was voted on by the board. In a 4-3 decision, the board authorized the payment of $204,487.33 to the tenant after the city manager and attorney confirmed that there are no contractors’ and suppliers’ liens upon the premises. You can see the report from the structural engineer here 

During commissioner comments in the commission meeting, Mayor McDonald brought up the fact that there is a lawsuit between U.S. Sugar v. Army Corps of Engineers. He said he had spoken to the Everglades Law Center and that the city should contribute $10,000 and become a party to the Amicus Brief in support of the Corps.

The purpose of the suit by U.S. Sugar is to prevent Lake “O” from releasing water. By not using the reservoirs and canals and in some cases preventing them from being built, water will never resume the natural flow to the south. It will necessitate that the lake holds more water than what was necessary for

               Lake "O" Wikipedia

agricultural purposes using the plaintiff’s metrics. If a storm comes, then the Corps would have no choice but to send water down the St. Lucie devastating the Indian River Lagoon which has happened repeatedly in the past.

McDonald made the motion that was seconded by Collins. It passed 5-0. Collins made a subsequent motion to send a letter to Martin County to also support the matter. That also passed 5-0.

Ashley Capital, which has taken a big stake in our county, has now set its sight on the old Stuart Landfill. Unlike the last company that took a year to do their due diligence before doing nothing, Ashley Capital is asking for no exclusivity on the parcel. They will either make an offer or not.

Ashley is one of the largest industrial real estate firms in the country with more than 30 million square feet. They also recently signed a lease with Flint, Michigan for 273 acres in a brownfield redevelopment in that city. I spoke with Jill Marasa of the company in Palm City regarding the viability of this project. If any company can do something with this development site, it will be Ashley.

For several years, Jill worked for the Martin County Business Development Board before moving to the St. Lucie County Economic Development Council. In my opinion, it is too bad she was never tapped to run our county’s BDB before we lost her to St. Lucie County. She is a consummate pro.

The motion to allow Ashley Capital to move forward was made by Collins and seconded by Bruner. There was also a condition by Rich that any report that is produced on the landfill would be given to the city. It passed 5-0.

If possible, for development, it will transform 50 acres from a liability to an asset. It is big enough for a small industrial park to bring jobs for city and county residents. Perhaps in less than a decade, an eye sore will be a productive part of the city.

Martin County School Board


During public comment at this meeting, those who did not want to have books banned from schools came to speak.

Sometimes I think the pro-banners and the anti-banners coordinate to see who is going to be at any meeting to speak. So, it is becoming rather predictable in the arguments used. Education has become more and more drawn into the politics of party and state. This is only one of the issues that has reared its head. Reasonableness is long gone, and the kids have fewer and fewer resources to draw upon.

Board Member DiTerlizzi wanted to speak about the SPAM agreement for leased space.


The way the organization will have its own space in the schools is, the group is an independent one that needs to become a 501c3 in order to fulfill one of the conditions of having a lease. Insurance requirements are more expensive as a tenant. For instance, it was asked why the organization needs a form of coverage known as non-owned auto. No one at the meeting could explain what that coverage is and why it is needed. That coverage is when the insured’s volunteers use their own cars or rent cars.

Some thought a lease of 1.5 years is not long enough. Roberts was throwing out terms like 10 or more years. Powers asked why can’t SPAM be treated like any other club or team in the school? Why indeed.

It seems to me the goal from the beginning of time was to have them incorporated under the banner of the school district which is no different than the drama club or the football team. Just like every club or team, participation is open to attending students, charter school students, home taught or virtual students. There should be no obstacle there since SPAM has students from all of those educational options now.

There are many parents involved in after-school activities. SPAM has more outside involvement, but a Level 2 background check is all that is needed for any adult.

Superintendent Maine should bring this program in-house. That would obviate the need for expensive insurance or a tax filing. I thought that was the point all along. SPAM should not be a tenant of the district but a proud part of it. As a past sponsor for more than a decade, I believe the kids deserve it.


You can find the agreement here 

There were two legal contracts up for discussion. One was from Attorney Tony George, the school board generalist, and the other for Tyson Waters, the land use attorney. There are other legal contracts for labor and other specialties.

Pritchett wanted to know the dollar breakdown for each. She is in favor of having an in-house attorney. I was too for a very long time, but with the complex issues that the board deals with, there is no one attorney that would be able to do it all.

What is probably no longer necessary (and I don’t sense this is an issue) is the board having one attorney and the district another. Since the superintendent is no longer elected, there doesn’t seem to be a reason for that. All in all, the Martin County School District and Board will continue to use several different attorneys and firms depending on the situation.

You can find Waters’ and George’s contracts here 


"Free State Of  Florida"

If you live in Florida, you are eligible to receive free books. An organization entitled “Banned Books USA” will send a copy of any book that has been removed from a library, school, or prison to any person, library, or school in the Sunshine State for free. They do charge $3.99 for shipping.

I guess they figure we are under the yoke of a repressive government instead of the Free State of Florida where we need to be protected from the perils of free thought and speech. The idea is the brainchild of a Boston tech entrepreneur Paul English and Massachusetts’ Library Board member Joyce Linehan. For every book sent, a donation will be made to a Florida-based LGBTQIA+ nonprofit.

The catalogue of banned titles can be found here    Instead of individuals and parents choosing what books to read, the state wants to do it for us. This is the antithesis of what this nation stands for.

From my school days, I recognized only two titles, “To Kill A Mockingbird” and “Native Son,” and both were required reading for me by those subversive anti-Christs, the Franciscan Brothers, who were my teachers. Being a free speech advocate, I can’t abide by the shroud of censorship that has descended on Martin County and Florida. This is not a conservative/liberal debate but one of whether individuals should oversee their own minds and souls.

I heard one school board member express the age-old cop out that the district was just following the law. And while I don’t believe we have entered the Third Reich or Stalinist Russia yet, it is reminiscent of hearing their excuse of what choice did the petty official have when pleading their cases to the allies after the regime was toppled. Moral conscience did not enter their decisions. Mainly because they themselves believed in the cause they were espousing.

Following the “Dear Leader” was never an American characteristic though it has popped its head up from time to time. Most of these types of movements look for scapegoats to be blamed for economic, demographic, or social change. It is no different today.

Pope Gregory VII banned the ancient Greek poet Sapho in 1073. Today’s Hungary is attempting to do the same thing. The New Yorker states that Allen Ginsburg’s “Howl” has been on the top of more people’s banned list than any other modern work. Not much has changed in the intervening years between Sapho and Ginsburg.

Censorship is not an American or a modern-day problem. It has been with us since the trial and execution of Socrates. Repression in the name of morality, religion, or the state is usually the result of a lack of cogent ideas and philosophy not an expansion of them. Stopping human thought is impossible. Censorship of books and ideas has failed to endure in the long run. The same will happen in the Free State of Florida.

Town of Sewalls Point


The board approved the first ever contract between the town and the PBA representing the town’s police.

It seems to be the industry's standard for this PBA. Every year, there will be a limited opportunity to reopen provisions that both sides can bring up including pay. Commissioner Campo asked whether there was compulsory membership by rank and file? There is not, but if the officer does not belong, then the union will not represent them if there is a disciplinary dispute of some sort.

The contract is for three years. The chief and lieutenant are not members of the union. You can see the entire contract here 

The first casualty that I have heard of in Martin County because of the new law regarding more stringent financial disclosure has happened. James Campo will be resigning on December 30th. Though that wasn’t the only reason he mentioned, it was one that weighed heavily on his decision. Campo was re-elected last year to a four-year term without opposition.

James stated that he was supportive of term limits. He also said that his children had all grown up and moved away from the area. Campo, who is a financial planner and is a deeply conservative person, probably did not want the world to know what his detail financial situation is. And I don’t blame him.


Citizens seeking election to the local commission in this town and many others are not done for the salary or benefits because there are none. It is what I believe all, but the largest municipalities should offer their elected officials…which is nothing but the chance to serve. This new very intrusive financial disclosure form is really about what?

If it is a way to stop qualified, successful, and diverse businesspeople from serving in office, then it will no doubt have some success. If it is supposed to deter people from conflicts of interest, then filing a false form is the least of their worries. This will drive out those who want to do their civic duty and will keep the hacks in office.

The reason this came up is because the town’s charter requires that an election for a resigned seat happen within 6 months of the vacancy. To spare the town the cost of the special election, it will now be held the same day as the presidential primary so that it can be piggy backed on an existing election. An ordinance doing so will happen at a meeting in November.

Manager Daniels will chair a charter review committee to come up with recommendations for a charter that has not been changed in decades. The commission agreed to have those interested see the manager. He would like it to be about five residents, but there may be more. He wants to report back to the commission with the recommended changes for their approval. It would go to the voters in 2024.

Town Engineer Joe Capra presented the Stormwater Master Plan update. There really is nothing new. They will use $100,000 in ARPA funding. You can see the presentation here 

Village of Indiantown


The meeting had 18 minutes of dead air. That is right. There was nothing that we could hear remotely. This is now starting to become a pattern.

Even when the microphones were turned on, several speakers and council people refused to speak into the mics. The manager, attorney, and clerk had no problem. They were clear as a bell. Council Members Hernandez and Perez were also mostly audible. Mayor Gibbs-Thomas, who is usually very good at speaking in her mic, was sometimes not heard at all during the meeting.

Council Member Dipaolo began with an effort to be heard but quickly reverted to unintelligible utterances. I have long given up on Guyton Stone who must believe that if someone doesn’t come to the meeting in person, the listener should not be privileged to hear him.

The Village Manager needs to assign someone to listen through headphones and be brave enough to pipe up during the meeting when those speaking are not being heard. Perhaps she should conduct a class on how to use the mics. Or just mic-up the participants with body microphones.

On August 10th the council extended the TPP grant program with FPL for another five years until December 31, 2028. FPL is the village’s largest taxpayer by far. By giving them a rebate on some of the tangible personal property tax paid, the Village is making sure that the company continues to store equipment in Indiantown.

The requested amendment is to add a second parcel for equipment storage. FPL is decommissioning one solar field which will have an effect on tax revenue. This second parcel for storage of equipment will more than make up for that. You can see the agreement here 


A staff-initiated item wants to substitute The Griffin Group for Gray Robinson as the Village’s lobbyist. The previous group charged $4000 per month; the Griffen Group will charge $5000. Manager Kryzda believes they are better suited to bring in the millions needed for the water plant construction.

Clearly this too is one of the issues that is dividing the council. Hernandez wanted to know what was presented at the legislative delegation meeting regarding priorities. Though it tangentially is part of lobbying, a lobbyist would not only be working with Snyder and Harrell but also many other people in Tallahassee. Stone said something but because he did not speak into his mic it is lost to history.

Dipaolo made the motion to hire the new firm and it was seconded by Perez. The vote was 3-2 with Stone and Hernandez dissenting.


The village and county have concluded an agreement on the reduction of county impact fees. The fee for roads will be reduced to 30%. Parks and Recreation will be eliminated, and Public Buildings will be reduced to 33%. This will take effect when the Village passes its own Intermodal Transportation Fee. The fee chart can be found here 

The Village will collect all county impact fees. For that service, they will retain a 3% servicing charge. Attorney Vose wants to have it all done by the end of November. Due to the issues with mic usage, I could not hear the vote, but I believe it passed 5-0.

Town of Ocean Breeze

Next meeting will be November 13, 2023

Town of Jupiter Island


Thank you to the commissioners and staff for having the new microphones installed. Except for a few rough minutes at the start of the meeting, all was crystal clear. I watched the meeting after it had been recorded and the difference was night and day.

I hope that Mayor Townsend is feeling better. Though she was at the meeting and participated, Vice-Mayor Field presided. He did a very good job for his first time.

There was some discussion regarding the evaluation of the manager. Scott did not find the narrative portion of the form very helpful although Townsend did. After more discussion, a motion was made to offer Bob Garlo the manager’s job on a permanent basis. It passed unanimously. Taddeo began discussing compensation, but it was put aside until the next meeting.


There was another discussion regarding whether the Impact Review Committee and the Board of Adjustment should be advisory or not. They currently have full authority with the commission acting as an appellant body. The commission can only look at the same trial facts as were presented to those boards. No new evidence can be introduced.

Scott would like to see both boards as advisory only but doesn’t believe the commission has “the will” to do so. Taddeo believes that some of the best members may leave if the change was made. Scott stated if they quit, they quit.

There is still the de novo aspect for the commission which would allow them to hear a case from scratch. Scott asked for more information such as how Palm Beach does it. She doesn’t believe there is enough information to decide. No changes were made.

In accordance with commission direction, Garlo wrote an RFQ for firms to advise the town on the waterfront setback line. The question was asked about the pending litigation. Attorney Baird, who was asked for his opinion, stated that they could move ahead. It was decided unanimously to do so. The memo is here 

The commission passed an ordinance prohibiting the construction of any more pickleball courts. You can see it here 

Mayor Townsend stepped down from the dais so that the commission could discuss re-imbursement of her for legal fees in the matter of a civil suit for sunshine and public records violations. The amount was over $100,000 in the ongoing lawsuit. According to the other side’s attorney, Ethan Loeb, Judge McNicholas has ruled that Townsend, and her husband did not fully provide all the public records.

An attorney from Loeb’s firm went on to say that he believes that since this case convened prior to the reimbursement ordinance being passed, it is not eligible for the money at this juncture. When asked whether the points brought up in the letter sent were salient, Baird was not ready to give his opinion. It was decided to wait for now and if necessary, have a special meeting. You can read Loeb’s letter and the agenda item here 

Baird gave an update on the many legal cases the town is currently facing. There does not seem to be any end in sight. There doesn’t seem to be any compromise or settlement possible in the near future either.

The board also adopted rules and procedures governing their meetings. Scott was the only no vote since she said you must be careful what you wish for. The board adopted Roberts Rules.  


Final Thoughts


Hunting Season

The human hunting season is over in Lewiston, Maine just in time for the deer season to begin.

Today, hunting humans is not as widely practiced as hunting for deer. Of course, one is perfectly legal while the other results not only in the death of the hunted but also the hunter either by police or suicide. And so far, at least the humans hunted aren’t butchered and placed in freezers for the coming year.

What has been the latest result of hunting for humans? People lining up in front of Maine gun stores to buy guns for protection. It is an industry’s dream come true. No marketing expense is needed to increase sales but a limited hunting season of humans. It saves millions on advertising costs.

The current mass hunter was nuts. And still he was allowed to go “a Roamin in the Gloaman” as Harry Lauder would sing. Not for the heather that Lerner & Lowe would later add, but humans.

The army knew he needed help and called the police. He voluntarily committed himself and after 2 weeks walked out of an institution not cured but still possessing an arsenal. What is wrong with that picture?

Throughout history we have seen people give up rights for security. I would hate to have our 2nd Amendment right go away because of a lunatic fringe who ignore the super majority of the American people’s belief in common sense gun measures. As a former hunter and current gun owner, I want to continue to have and use my firearms for protection and recreation. That doesn’t mean we can go on in this denial when the leading cause of death for children in the U.S. is being shot.

Mass shootings and indiscriminate gun violence are no longer acceptable if they ever were. The answer is not everyone being armed and supposedly ready to kill the perpetrator. As we have also seen, people knocking on doors or turning into driveways can be shot by those supposedly exercising their 2nd Amendment right but what really is apparent is their inability to adequately judge a situation.

The Lewiston killer had no right to have a lethal weapon in his possession. Anyone who believes that to take away his guns has anything to do with the 2nd Amendment is wrong. Society has an affirmative duty to protect the whole from the actions of a few. Otherwise, no one will be able to have any rights…just anarchy. 




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:


Tom’s Articles

From Medium

" Parking Problems"


"The Free State of Freedonia"


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