February 4, 2024

Friends & Neighbors Edition

In this Edition

The past two weeks were a relatively quiet time for government meetings.

Since most governments meet twice monthly when there is a fifth week the governments’ staff are able to take a little break. February on the other hand, being a shorter month, packs more into those 4 weeks. The February 17th edition will have our full complement of governments to report on.

The Martin County Fair is back in the news with the resignation of the director less than a month before the event. Why it occurred I am still not sure but when will the commissioners have had enough and stop pandering to the few members of that board over the interest of all Martin residents.

We also have heard that our “Non-Profit” Section has also been popular. If you have something to report for your organization, send it to us. The generosity of residents is one of our differences over other communities.

Our columnists are once again opining and informing. If you want to be one of our writers just let me know. We are always looking to add other voices.

This is a community endeavor. We need the support of our contributors, and I mean that financially as well as with editorial input. We keep the editorial (me) separate from the business. You can show your financial support to help defray the costs here (https://www.friendsandneighborsofmartincounty.com/support/)

We want divergent viewpoints. Send us your letters, just be respectful in tone and tenor. That is something we lack today…a respectful disagreement. Yet something many of us want to encourage.

Have a Happy Sunday Morning!

To Take A Walk

I am one of those people who never listens to music or a book when I go on my daily walk.

I like solitude and listening to the world around me. Except for the passing car, there are mostly no sounds since it is so early in the morning. One can be alone with one’s thoughts.

Every so often, a rabbit will scurry by. There were once a few cats to be seen. But they are now all gone because of the coyotes. It also seems the rabbit population fluctuates depending on how many coyotes are in the neighborhood. I also understand that every couple of years, a virus runs through the rabbit population that culls the herd so to speak.

There is also the occasional person with whom I cross paths. The conversation is usually limited to a nod or a “good morning.” Perhaps every so often a comment is made regarding the weather. Any human interaction that I have on these walks is limited to once or twice per week. I much prefer to just nod as I pass someone…just enough to acknowledge their humanity and that I intend no harm and they do the same.

For about 45 minutes each day, it is a kind of meditation. Alone with the universe is another way of phrasing it. A rather pleasant time without distraction.

I can think of it as like a monk’s vigil prayer. The Benedictines always begin with Psalm 50, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.” Though any prayer of mine is usually a few “Hail Mary’s” or an “Our Father”. Some things you learn and never leave you even Oremus for “Let us Pray.”  

Sometimes I mentally run through my day. A mental checklist of what I should accomplish. A calendar of appointments to come and the purpose of the meetings. I might go over something I am going to write later…sort of forming an outline in my head. Though any new ideas that pop in are just as likely to pop out to never be remembered again or at best some other time.

Perhaps the last ten minutes of my walk, I will just sing a song or think about something I read. It is dark when I start and still so when I end. It is a calm beginning to a sometimes hectic and long day.

Occasionally, the past will intrude on the present. A memory from another time brought to the present for no apparent reason. Yet like a dream, there is a reason.

And that is what these early morning walks are. Which is an extension of the night that passed. A way to greet the day not with a jolt but with a physical and mental stretch.


At last night’s Stuart Commission meeting, the problem with approving projects with conditions was front and center. This came up because of a restaurant project on Seminole Street seeking commission approval.

Robin Cartwright spoke about approving projects with conditions earlier. She is someone with whom I seldom agree on development matters, but she made a good point about the enforcement of conditions placed on projects during the approval process. Her point was that there is very little enforcement. There are various reasons, but the bottom line is that no one has come up with a good way of tracking them.

Conditions can be placed on projects that are not built as of right when they are approved by the commission. Stuart’s projects are much more likely to need commission approval than in other places. That sets up the applicant to have the project approved by the advisory boards recommending conditions and then the commission itself either sticking with the recommendations or rejecting them.

The commission often places their own conditions on the project that becomes part of the final approval. In the development order that has been passed, a myriad of these conditions can be what the developer lives with to build his project. But is it?

Two years after approval when the project receives its certificate of occupancy, does anyone remember that the approval was conditioned on the owner doing or not doing something? How does code enforcement know what to look at several years later? I don’t believe there is any tickler system to remind the city.

How often does an inspection reveal that the 60-seat restaurant has turned into an 80-seat one. Remember parking, fire code, and a host of other calculations were based on that lower number. The smart applicant agrees and then, years later, waits for someone to dig up the approval if there is a complaint. Though recently a restaurant did receive a violation for having more tables than are allowed.

A real vexing problem is outdoor music. It has been my experience that trying to enforce it as a noise violation is impossible. For years now, I have been unable to enjoy my back porch on weekend nights, or sleep with open windows during the winter months because a mile away the music from Sailor’s Return is wailing away.

In the early years I would call the police and I would have a sympathetic ear but not much else. I stopped calling the police. They had a machine to calculate the decibel level, but it is very complicated to prove that the machine is properly calibrated, the officer knows how to use it, and other technicalities. It isn’t just me, but a rash of other people throughout the city have had similar problems because of different venues. My doors and windows are closed once the music begins.

While the enforcement of the sound ordinance is handled by Stuart PD, most other conditions are enforced by Code Enforcement. Over the years, Code Enforcement has been under different departments including the police. They currently reside with the Development Department. How do they know whether a property or business is following the conditions set forth in that now-years-old development order?

The City of Stuart has decided not to be proactive in most cases. It is not as if the agents will ignore a serious violation if they encounter it. Tickets are not issued for the car parked on a lawn or the boat in the front yard unless a neighbor complains. If the obvious ones are winked at, then how about the “one off” that make up much of approved projects.

I don’t have an answer to this dilemma. There doesn’t seem to be a desire by most neighbors to turn snitch. Sometimes, as in my case, you just live with the problem. But a couple of times a week when I hear the music, I become angry and then am resigned, and finally disappointed because I know that my quality of life has been impaired, and no one in city government cares. How many more people feel the same way?

As Published In Martin County Moments

The Myth Of The All Powerful Commissioner

I am always amazed at the public’s perception of how much power they believe commissioners have to change or deny development projects.

Much of it has to do with commissioners’ own perception of their own importance. The high drama that often accompanies public hearings often leads the public to believe that a project can be stopped. That usually isn’t possible for a variety of reasons.

Two recent Stuart projects demonstrate what is and isn’t possible. Where approval was a mere formality was for the Creekside Hotel Project. I wrote extensively about it in our last edition. (You can read more here  And here 

The project where citizen input did matter was the restaurant proposed for Seminole Street. In that instance, it wasn’t a mere tweaking of the code that was necessary. For it to happen, the commission needed to allow the restaurant to become parking exempt which re-zones the parcel. In deciding that, the commission has the total ability to deny without ambiguity. (Read the entire story in our Stuart Section below.)

Too many things go to the commission for approval that are done administratively in other jurisdictions. The Creekside Hotel is one of those that should have been approved administratively. That was the entire point about revising the code to be form-based.

Form-based simply means that if the project fits into the box that is allowed, then it can be done. There is no need for hysterics from the public because the outcome has already been determined when the code was passed. So why do we in Martin County go through this?

One reason is transparency. By having public meetings there is a chance for the residents to have their say. That doesn’t mean the outcome will change only that most people would think they could have some impact.

If Stuart had adopted a real form-based code most projects would be decided administratively. By making so many things go before the commission, most commissioners don’t even realize how little power they have. They may even think that filling the room will change the outcome.

Once a code is written and a parcel zoned, the landowner now has property rights. To deny the owner would be against the law. The courts usually rule in favor of the property owner if they are merely exercising the property right that the government assigned to the property.

The important point at which citizen input is vital is when the comp plan, codes, and zoning are being written and amended. After being involved in government for so long, I see that the public is not interested in participating when their voices would mean the most.

Right now, the county is in the process of doing a mandatory review of the comp plan. There are 162,000 residents in the county. The first meeting had 100 people turn up, the second about 50 (many the same from the first meeting) and 30 residents who were interviewed extensively by the Treasure Coast Planning Council (for transparency, I was one of those).

When a project is proposed in a person’s back yard, they become really interested. Unfortunately, by then, it may be too late to have much of an impact. At that point, the myth of the all-powerful commissioner is relied upon to save the day. It is a myth perpetuated by the elected officials themselves and in some cases even believed by them.

Do not thank the errant commissioner for ignoring the code and the law and voting to deny the project because they are playing to the crowd. They are not responsible public servants. They are usually the minority vote and can afford for you to believe they have your best interests at heart. They don’t.

The last time that a majority in a commission ignored the rules and codes was when they ignored the property rights of Lakepoint in western Martin County. That cost us, the taxpayers, millions. The myth of the all-powerful commissioner is still alive…just don’t you believe it.

Has The Fair Board Stayed Too Long At The Fair

With great fanfare, K.C. Ingram Mullen was hired as the fair director six months ago. She resigned on January 15th citing financial misrepresentation by the Martin County Fair Board and their refusal to engage legal counsel as the reason.

I have been given the minutes for November, December, and the January 11th meetings. Mullen apparently believes that a legal opinion is needed because of grant submissions that contained what she alleges are financial misrepresentations. She apparently wrote a letter outlining the problem to the board. The board also gave both she and her husband, Tim, letters. What those letters outlined or stated I do not know. What was contained in those letters was not in the minutes.

Mr. Mullin was employed by the board to act as a consultant. How much he was paid and what he was to do was not clear. I spoke with Ms. Mullen, and she did not want to elaborate further except what was contained in the email to the commissioners explaining her resignation.

I have requested the contract between Mr. Mullen and the board but have not yet received it. It is still not known what his responsibilities are. Why the board decided to contract for services with the spouse of their employee is also unknown.

What I really do not understand is how the Board of County Commissioners repeatedly ignore the rank amateurishness of the Martin County Fair Board and entrust them with expensive county assets…namely the present fairgrounds in Stuart and the future one in Indiantown.

For decades there has been a desire to move the fairgrounds to a more spacious location. Several years ago, it was decided that Indiantown was the place. For some inexplicable only-in-Martin-County reason, an independent body is being entrusted to build a new home for the fair which is on county-owned land.

But the fair board’s track record is abysmal. Martin County should be the one that is in charge because it is their asset. They can then lease it to the fair association to run the fair. It is a one-week event. The Martin County Parks and Recreation Department could have the Indiantown site ready in less than 6 months. The $80 million Agriplex that the fair board wants to build is never going to happen.

It is time the commissioners acted responsibly and performed their fiduciary duty to the taxpayers. They are being very irresponsible by ignoring the troubled record. They now currently have two underperforming assets…the current and future fairgrounds.

As developments happen, I will keep you abreast.     

VanRiper's Views

Darlene VanRiper

Do you know your alphabet?  A, B, C, D, G…. When it comes to Medicare its not easy. 

I turned 65 in 2022 and am still learning the intricacies.   I am being polite when I say this “system” is replete with “intricacies”.  I don’t claim to be the brightest bulb, however I am not the dullest either.  And, by the time I was introduced to the options, the deductibles, the supplements, Advantage, the “out-of-pocket” and on and on it became a calculus problem that I just wanted someone else to solve.

Happily, I ran across a program run by the Department of Elder Affairs.  SHINE, it’s called.  Its free and has no agenda except to unravel the riddle.  The volunteer advisors are well educated and experienced in the healthcare industry.  No insurance agents here.  No one to make a profit.  No one with an agenda except to help me.  I made an appointment.  It was at the Kane Center which I have found to be an exceptional senior facility offering all sorts of programs including adult daycare for those caregivers looking for a break.  But I digress. 

The requirement was for me to bring a list of my medications and my insurance cards including the omnipotent Medicare card.  The meeting took only an hour.  But I was given a clear idea of what I needed to do and whom I needed to contact, including phone numbers when I left

The gentleman I met with was a senior also.  So, he understood that I was baffled.  He was an intelligent, well-educated person with experience and patience.   I asked the same questions over and over.  He drew me a Venn diagram after asking if I knew what a Venn diagram was.   Humm.  He even asked that in a very respectful way.   I got the feeling he wouldn’t have judged me if I had not known. 

This is a good service.  I encourage anyone without complete clarity regarding Medicare, supplements, Medigap etc.  to call for an appointment.  I made my choices with confidence and now have one less thing to worry about. 

If you are thinking its too late…its not.  According to the National Council on Aging:

“If you're enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, there are additional opportunities to re-evaluate coverage during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Periods (MA OEP). The first is the annual period from Jan. 1 – March 31, when anyone with a Medicare Advantage plan can change plans during this time. The other is an individualized Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period that’s limited to new Medicare beneficiaries who enroll in an MA plan during the first three months they have Medicare. The MA OEP offers a three-month window to switch plans. During these times, you can:

  • Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare and a standalone Part D plan”

There are some loop holes which may allow you to switch even now and if you don’t qualify for that, you should review your plan every year with someone who can help you work through this mess. 

You can contact SHINE at https://elderaffairs.org/?s=shine  or call 1-800-963-5337.

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

Nicki's Place

Nicki van Vonno
van Vonno Consulting, Owner

Dictionaries And Influencers

Book dragons are trending these days. I am one. Like the dragons of olde, we hoard our treasure. We venture into dusty thrift stores, secondhand bookstores, and new book stores. I try and do give books away.

 But reading the dictionary, who does that?   I randomly read the encyclopedia as a kid .

As I sip my morning coffee, I am reading my mother’s dictionary. Her signature is on the inside cover.  It is not just a dictionary. It is the “Everyday Encyclopedic Edition Webster’s New World Dictionary” published by the Southwestern Company of Nashville, Tennessee.

The dictionary is designed “for professional and business people, office workers and students” according to the Foreword.  It has that old book smell that book dragons love, its cover coffee stained. As I thumb through it, I find words marked “Infection,” “inflammation”, “Joan of Arc.” In the Student’s Guide to Literary Appreciation, I find checkmarks by some of the titles. Are they hers or mine? “The Death of a Nobody”  by Jules Romains is checked. Must be hers. But now I will have to read Romains’ book.

After the Table of Contents is a series of pictures:

 Life in Ponds and Streams, Angel Terrace and Yellowstone Falls, Rare Birds of Brilliant Plumage, Game Birds of North America, Sheep Lake, Reflection Lake and Mount Rainer, Game Fish Caught with a fly, Fish of Unusual Interest, Scenes from Switzerland, Plants of Commercial Value, Principal Edible Grains, Precious Stones, Building Stones, and Living Corals.

I can consult it for a dictionary of musical terms, business terms, Miscellaneous Facts and Figures, and Household Information. I can find out if my name is on the list of common names for girls. It isn’t but Nicholas is under the boy names.

It comforts me to know my mom owned this book. Books were her way out of the coal mine camps. This book,  with its images of wonder, and its many helpful sections, such as  household and accounting tips helped her craft a life as a young woman coming of age during the 1940s. Never give up was her motto.

Websters was an influencer before that word morphed into its current definition.  My Mom is an  influencer, and as words beckoned to her, they now call to me. Thanks Mom.

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

As Templeton the rat sang in Charlotte’s Web (1973), “A Fair Is A Veritable Schmorgasboard-orgasboard-orgasboard.” At the fair there are so many delicious treats to try, sights and lights to take in, and fun rides to enjoy. You will find livestock, arts and craft exhibits, and community organizations all on display. The fair is an event that the whole community can not just enjoy but also participate and be involved.

To me, the fair is like the championship game for members of the 4-H Youth Development Program. They have been working hard for months, and likely years, to develop their skills through their projects, and at the fair they have the opportunity to show their hard work and dedication to the community.

When you talk to 4-H members about their 4-H experience one very common story goes something like, “When I joined 4-H I was very shy and afraid to talk. But now I have the confidence to stand in front of my 4-H club- in front of my peers- and give a speech or run a business meeting or lead a 1,000+ pound animal around an arena.” If you press further and ask how they went from shy to confident you will hear about their completed 4-H projects and the volunteers who dedicated the time to work with them on those projects. The cattle, swine, horses, goats, sheep, rabbits, guinea pigs, and poultry, the arts and crafts, the baked goods, the horticulture, the community service, the shooting sports, all these projects are part of a 4-H member’s larger story and are the tools used to develop confidence and skills in these youth.

As a 4-H Youth Development Agent, I am not looking at the animal in the show ring or the blue ribbon on the art exhibit. I am looking at the child who just a few months ago was unsure if he or she was good enough and now knows “Yes I am!” For me, it’s the personal development of each member that matters most. The awards are icing on the cake and a testament to the acquired skills that were picked up along the way.

In the past year I have watched Martin County 4-H youth members take on new heights as statewide officers, committee chairs, club officers, and executive board members. I have observed them try things like public speaking, new 4-H projects, and statewide events. I have seen our youth travel across the state to meet with decision makers and share with them personal stories of triumph. I have witnessed heightened levels of confidence that will lead these young adults to be productive members of our community, not only when they are adults but now as children.

I will close with this: The Martin County Fair and Youth Livestock Show will be held February 9-17. When you visit the fair, please talk with the youth exhibitors. Ask them about their projects. Let them share with you their 4-H journey. You will be blown away with what they share.

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

Carl's Conclusions

Carl Frost
Kai Kai Farms, Owner

Citrus farewell in Martin County

In 2003 I received a tip that 20-acre lots were for sale on SW Kanner Highway. As Diane and I were looking to establish a small-scale farm the size sounded right. I had recently graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in horticulture and during my studies I worked at the Indian River Research and Education center as a technical assistant to Dr. Ed Stover a citrus expert. The Fort Pierce center had a fine assortment of citrus in its research farm, and I was fortunate to have worked in some groves around the state collecting fruit for yield analysis. SW Kanner Highway, like its partner SW Citrus had plenty of groves in those days as did the acres I was interested in.

Being a Palm Beach County resident, it was my first time on SW Kanner Highway. I pulled up to a barbed wire fence with some survey markers spaced 660 feet apart marking the individual lots for sale. The trees were Valencia on I think a sour orange rootstock.

They looked OK but you could tell there was some decline setting in. Probably canker, despite the best (or worst) efforts by FDACS, was widespread. HLB aka Greening may have already entered this land as the trees did not have the vigor, I was used to seeing on the ridge groves to the northeast.

I walked the alleys and noted several dead or dying trees. I thought to myself that replacement trees called resets could keep this grove viable but there were other concerns. The fruit was for juicing which growers called ‘processing’ and that implied the need for far more acres than the 40 I considered buying. Yes, there was the Indiantown juice plant but the return on investment would be paltry, so these trees had to go. I was just another factor in the decline of Martin County citrus which at its peak in the mid 90’s was about 48,221 acres (about twice the area of Manhattan) most if not all for processing.

These groves were on flatwoods soils and were at the southern limit of Florida east coast citrus.  The west coast had groves further south but due to climate being warmer on the east coast and of course development pressures on groves, Martin County followed by Indian River County was the limit.

Compared to Florida ridge groves these were sub-optimal. The trees in these flatwoods' groves had a bit more stress to contend with because the roots were vulnerable to suffocating in the high-water table particularly after tropical storms. Citrus in flatwoods locations, such as along SW Kanner and SW Citrus, suffered when pest and disease pressure combined with water and wind stress.  Yields declined in an extremely competitive market; so, groves had to go. Here I was. I cleared my lots of every single tree. It looked like a desert.

Shortly thereafter the last citrus trees in Martin County died or were removed and the Indiantown juice plant shut down. The citrus industry had an 80-year run.  Today that ground serves up a fine assortment of fresh vegetables.

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

As February commences, signaling the faltering of many New Year’s resolutions, the United Way of Martin County is pursuing a notable resolution for 2024 – the revision of its strategic plan.

The previous strategic plan, created for 2018-2023, was on the right path, effectively gauging the impact of grants in various sectors. Our investments in early childhood kindergarten readiness programs yielded a graduation rate of over 90% ready for kindergarten. Simultaneously, in the health sector, increased services were provided for those grappling with mental health issues, and within the financial stability impact area, there was a considerable decline in the percentage of people experiencing food insecurity.

Then COVID hit and all the measurements went out the window. Is it fair to say that the strategic plan did not consider a global pandemic?

Currently, we are creating a new strategic plan through a collaborative process involving donor consultations, committee formation, and a comprehensive evaluation of current community data. This plan will serve as the guiding roadmap for our organization, directing investments in local programs for the next five years. So, what does that mean?

Our focus involves developing strategies for the allocation of community impact dollars raised in Martin County to high-quality programs that create measurable and meaningful impacts. We are assessing currently funded programs, reviewing their outcomes, analyzing annual data from 211 calls, and considering any other pertinent community metrics.

Anticipating likely changes, the forthcoming strategic plan will consider whether United Way impact dollars will be distributed across forty-four programs or concentrated on fewer programs with higher financial allocations, thereby maximizing impact. Key areas of focus include basic needs, transportation, mental health programs and more.

Our task is to recognize how United Way of Martin County can invest donor dollars in areas that will foster lasting benefits for our community. Recognizing the inevitable challenges, we acknowledge that not all program providers may share our perspective.

A vital lesson from my career is the realization that universal satisfaction is unattainable. However, our commitment lies in leading with fairness and prioritizing what is best for our community. We invite you to stay engaged as we navigate this ongoing journey toward making Martin County a paradise for all residents.

For further information about the United Way of Martin County, please visit our website at www.unitedwaymartin.org or contact our office at 772-283-4800.

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

Contemplative Christian

Chad Fair
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Pastor

I’m a huge sports fan and as a sports fan this time of year is about the Super Bowl. 

Last year I was out of the country and missed the Super Bowl but this year I’ll be back in front of a screen somewhere watching the big game.  Some people will roll their eyes and scoff that Taylor Swift will be part of the coverage.  As a girl dad, I love it!!!  My daughters had zero interest in football prior to the Kelce, Swift romance but now they’ll sit and watch parts of games and want to know scores.        

The next two weeks will be filled with Super Bowl talk, but I have been thinking a lot about buckets lately not bowls.  My wife frequently uses buckets as a metaphor for life.  You see, buckets can only fit so much stuff in them before they overflow.  When buckets overflow it often creates a mess. 

Think about it this way, if you do not take care of yourself physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually eventually your bucket will overflow because you are not your best self.  What comes out is usually not pretty.  We often become short tempered, snippy, and rude.


So, then the trick becomes not letting your bucket get to the point of overflowing.  As a pastor, I believe faith and spirituality can play a huge roll in that.  Spending time in prayer, spending time in worship can help to ground ourselves in something other than us.       

Oddly enough I don’t get the opportunity to worship very often.  I lead worship several times a week, but leading worship and worshiping isn’t the same thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love leading worship and find it to be life-giving, but it isn’t the same. 

Recently we took a group of youth to Rock the Universe at Universal Studios.  Rock the Universe is a night of contemporary Christian concerts.  This year I was blessed to experience it with my daughter.  I was able to have a night of worship and experience that with my daughter.  Needless to say, it was a night of recharging and bucket emptying.        

That got me thinking, many people are stretched so thin and on edge.  The other day in the Publix parking lot a driver was laying on the horn because someone was waiting to park.  I’m guessing their bucket was overflowing.  I wonder if as a community we can make it a point to practice self-care that empties our buckets and helps us be more kind to one another. 

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

Business Development Board

Susan Rabinowitz
Business Development Board of Martin County, Board Chair

Availability of land. Cost of acquisition. Timing of the transaction.

Such are the high-level factors that business owners consider when looking to expand. As new properties properly zoned and entitled to vital services such as water and sewer come online in Martin County, the local commercial market is brimming with prospects.

Savvy investors and shrewd businesspeople understand that the dynamic conditions currently in play beg many questions. Fortunately, the Commercial Real Estate Forum offers many more insights and answers.

Now in its fourth year, the premiere Business Development Board of Martin County event spotlights several select sites, provides a pulse on up-to-the-moment market trends and financing conditions, and hosts a slate of experts that’s sure to sharpen each attendee’s knowledge and equip them with a decisive edge.

Best of all, it’s free.

The event takes place from 8:15 to 11:45 a.m. Feb. 22 at the Indian River State College Chastain campus in Stuart. Attendees will enjoy a continental breakfast before nourishing themselves on the insights of the esteemed speakers.

Two speakers will provide a broader perspective and assessment of the horizons regionally and internationally.

Z-Joe Kulenovic, vice president of international operations for Select Florida, the state’s official organization tasked with economic diversification and high-wage job creation, will speak on the strength of international markets.


Kenneth Krasnow, vice chairman of institutional investor services for Colliers, will tackle the 2024 commercial real estate outlook and projected demands.


Closer to home, the leads from four existing Martin County projects will detail their sites’ attributes, including:

  • James FitzGerald of Mattamy Homes on the Newfield workplace district in Palm City offering 300 acres with entitlements to support 2 million square feet of industrial, office, hotel, retail, multifamily and flex space.
  • Jill Marasa of Ashley Capital on Sunrise Grove— Martin Commerce Park: 250 acres approved PUD-C, 32 acres approved for gas station, convenience store, hotel, and restaurants; Sunrise Grove Commerce Center: more than 1,600 acres; Martin Triangle, 200 acres, a large portion of which fronts I-95.                                                                                                                                                                               Jill Marasa
  • Matthew McAllister of Cushman & Wakefield on the South Florida Gateway Distribution Center, a Stuart site with two large buildings totaling more than 1 million square feet with a future site spanning more than 210,000 square feet for retail, commercial and light industrial and 352,845 square feet for future freezer and cooler space.
  • David Powers, principal of Indiantown Realty Corp. on the variety of residential and employment prospects coming forward in the Village of Indiantown. 
  • Stuart Commissioner Troy McDonald will share an oversight of the recent commercial activity in the city.



David Powers

From professionals in commercial real estate,banking,finance, and investment eager to ascertain the opportunities to local employers and entrepreneurs looking to expand, this is a can’t-miss event. RSVP today at 772-221-1380 and ensure your seat is reserved.

Susan Rabinowitz's opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Anne's Assessment

Anne Posey
Tykes & Teens, CEO

Holiday  Survival – Valentine’s Day

For many people, Valentine’s Day can be a struggle. 

As a holiday devoted to love and to couples, those not is a relationship, either by choice or by circumstance, may find this day challenging.  As a recent widow, I have found that holidays that commercialize relationships can make me feel sad or like I am missing out on something special.

Media, especially social media, inundate us with images of happy couples and gift ideas for the holiday.  During Christmas, many stores already had their Valentine’s décor up and displayed.  It is difficult to avoid the onslaught of hearts and happiness.

So, what can we do to cope with this day of couples and happiness and love, if we aren’t experiencing this reality?  In the words of Miley Cyrus, “I can buy myself flowers.”

Plan for the day.  Consider planning an activity that you enjoy or that gives back to the community.  Schedule time with other loved ones, friends, or family.  Remember that while Valentine’s Day is marketed to those IN love, we can also celebrate those people we love in a platonic of familial way.

Avoid restaurants.  We know they will be filled with couples, and this could reinforce feelings of being alone.  Consider ordering in and binge watching a favorite series or scheduling a walk/hike with a friend.

Home improvement.  Shop for new throw pillows or clean the refrigerator.  Do something around your home that makes you feel accomplished.

Schedule appointments.  Because this isn’t a holiday when things are closed, consider using the day to catch up on appointments so you stay busy.

Volunteer.  Giving back to others often helps us take our minds off our problems.  Consider volunteering for a cause that is meaningful to you.

Reach out.  Someone you know is probably in the same boat.  Reach out to someone else alone and do something fun together.

Self-Care.  Schedule a massage or a nail appointment.  Visit the barber and get a haircut.  Do something that makes you feel good!

Remember according to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 47% of the U.S. population (just over 117 million people) are currently single.  While it may seem like everyone is part of a couple, that is not reality.  Remind yourself you are not alone.  And remember….you can buy yourself flower

Anne Posey'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

Humane Society Events

The Humane Society of the Treasure Coast has many signature and third party events throughout the year. These events aim to raise funds and awareness for the homeless animals in Martin County. At many of these events, we also bring adoptable animals, which provides them with an opportunity to find their forever homes. At the very least, they can get a break from the shelter and have a fun day trip out.

Our next upcoming event is our largest event of the year, the Paws and Claws Gala, which is taking place at the Cape Club of Palm City on Saturday February 24. With a “Fire and Ice” theme, live and silent auctions, live entertainment and excellent food, it is always one of the most memorable events of the season.

By participating in HSTC’s events, you support our programs and services while providing care for thousands of homeless pets in our community. Our goal is to provide education and create awareness about responsible pet ownership.  This results in more lives saved through adoption, fostering and veterinary care for our shelter animals.

Another event this season is the 20th annual Mutt March on Saturday March 23.  Hundreds of people and their pets attend this 5K race and festival each year. This year the Mutt March will be held on site at the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast in Palm City. Make sure to bring your family and friends along - there will be plenty of activities and entertainment for everyone. The best part of having the event at HSTC will be the showcase for all the adoptable animals on site during the event.

Our events are so successful because of our generous sponsors and supporters. Each event has a variety of unique sponsorship opportunities to help promote local businesses that support our efforts.  Some of opportunities include promotion through our social channels (with over 64K followers and subscribers!) or having a more traditional presence through print and event day advertising and collateral.  Or both!

Additionally, sponsoring an event offers networking opportunities that are unique for building relationships within the local community. You will have the chance to connect with like-minded individuals, including other sponsors and attendees who are passionate about animal welfare. This experience can significantly increase brand awareness among attendees and supporters of the event, allowing you to reach a wider audience.

If you’d like to learn more about our upcoming events, you can simply visit our website at www.hstc1.org/events. If you would like to learn more about sponsorship opportunities or other ways to get involved, please contact Development Manager, Ashton Standish at 772-600-3216 or Astandish@hstc1.org.

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

Helping Hand

Suzy Hutcheson
Helping People Succeed, CEO

Love is a Wonderful Feeling

What do you think of when you realize that Valentine’s Day is just a couple of weeks away—spending the evening with your spouse or significant other; having dinner with some friends or is it just another day in your life?

Here are some interesting facts about Valentine’s Day—approximately 224 million roses are grown for Valentine’s Day—mostly red. Apparently 18.6 billion dollars will be spent on candy, flowers and jewelry. Chocolate and candy sales reach profits of $1 billion during Valentine’s Day season.

Valentine’s Day is an exciting, romantic, special time for many people. What does it mean for adults with learning or other disabilities? According to the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), it’s a different story.

In the past adults with learning disabilities were not thought to have the same emotional, psychological or social needs as other people. The attitude has made it difficult for people with learning disabilities to have the adult relationships they wanted.

A study was conducted to determine how people with learning disabilities felt about love. The participants enjoyed caring and being cared for, and like the comfort that relationships can bring. What they also found was that a lack of social opportunities can make it difficult for people with learning disabilities to find love.

Many of the barriers were created by social service organizations, fear from parents about the unknown, not having any dating experience, and a lack of friends. So, what does Valentine’s Day mean to a person with a disability—mostly, it’s just another day.

What has happened to help change this for a significant number of people in our communities—

  • Schools are creating more opportunities for inclusion through main streaming. Many individuals with issues such as autism attend regular classes, join clubs and other activities—but rarely date.
  • Employment has become a strong outcome for many adults with learning disabilities giving them a chance to meet people and become a part of not apart from society.
  • Classes within organizations realizing the importance of friendships and relationships.
  • Specialized dating/vacation agencies.

What we know is that loving relationships are important to all of us including those with disabilities. At Helping People Succeed, we are proud of the services that we offer that help adults with all disabilities feel included, providing opportunities for building friendships through social and recreational events.

If you would like to join us in helping all citizens share everyday lives, please call us at 772.320.0777 or look at our website hpsfl.org. You’ll be glad you did.

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

Keep Martin Beautiful

Tiffany Kincaid
Keep Martin Beautiful, Executive Director

Environmental Stewardship Awards Nominations will Reflect Diversity of Our Community

“Where are you from?” This is a frequent conversation-starter in Martin County, especially during this time of year when “snowbirds” are back in town and visitors are everywhere.

Our community is fortunate to have this kind of diversity – people from other places who have settled here permanently or part time who see Martin County as a paradise and want to do whatever they can to keep it that way.

 Marilyn Gavitt, Brook Bullock, Heather Arnold, Michelle Fowler, and John Vanilla

Keep Martin Beautiful is a volunteer-driven organization, and we benefit from the ideas and enthusiasm that come from this diversity. When you see our volunteers on beaches during the International Coastal Cleanup, in neighborhoods during the Great American Cleanup, or along roadways as part of the Adopt-a-Road program, you see they represent all ages, professions, income levels and educational backgrounds.

What they all have in common is their devotion to protecting and improving our environment through litter removal, beautification and community revitalization activities.  But there’s so much more to environmental stewardship and that’s where you come in. 

Help Us Showcase Environmental Diversity

Keep Martin Beautiful’s Environmental Stewardship Awards event is back, and our Call for Nominations is now open. Who do you know that is doing interesting and significant work to improve or preserve our environment? Nominate them today! The application process is very easy. Simply describe the project, who did it, and why it matters.  Nominations are due by March 1. 

As part of our 30th anniversary year, we’re especially excited to celebrate the diverse people, projects technologies and initiatives that are making a difference for our natural environment and quality of life. All nominees and of course, the winners, will be recognized during our Environmental Stewardship Awards event on May 1.

Need some inspiration?  Check out the diversity of past nominees and winners here.

To submit a nomination click here  or visit our website at  keepmartinbeautiful.org/environmental-stewardship-awards.

Thank you for doing your part to help keep Martin County beautiful.

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

Art of Business

Chriss David
Founder, Chriss David and Associates

Local Small Business = Economic Growth

Small businesses are more than just local shops and startups; they are powerhouses of innovation and opportunity, deeply rooted in and essential to the prosperity of local communities. Despite their modest size, small businesses contribute more substantially to local economies than their larger counterparts. Small businesses typically outsource services like accounting,  legal, and job materials to local professionals,  keeping the money circulating within the community.

Why is small business crucial for Martin County’s economic growth?

Job Creation

According to the SBA, small businesses are pivotal in job creation, having generated 12.9 million new jobs over the last 25 years, accounting for about 66% of all jobs created during that time. Their role was even more pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic, recovering 60% of the jobs lost in the early stages of the crisis. When I talk with small businesses around town, I continually hear about the new hires from the local area. Kudos to all of you who hire from our county.


Small businesses and startups are hubs of innovation. Their size allows them to be nimble, making it easier to try new approaches and pivot operations with minimal investment. This entrepreneurial spirit brings fresh perspectives to the market and places local communities at the forefront of innovation.

Opportunities for Individuals 

The pandemic led to many layoffs, prompting individuals to start their own businesses. In 2021 alone, Americans created 5.4 million new businesses. Small businesses often hire based on personal merit as much as professional experience, providing unique opportunities for individuals in the community. I have hired four people since the pandemic and started another business.

Additionally, the success of small businesses boosts demand for local professional services. Small business owners prefer working with locals they trust, creating opportunities for professional service startups in the community. This synergy between small businesses and local services further amplifies local economic growth for Martin County.

Despite their substantial contribution, small businesses often go unnoticed by American leaders and consumers, overshadowed by the more visible impact of larger businesses. Yet, they create nearly two-thirds of American jobs and generate almost half of the country's economic output. It's crucial to foster a healthy environment for small businesses, recognizing their significant role in the economy. This includes not giving unfair advantages to a few large firms when small enterprises, including solopreneurs, contribute significantly to the economic landscape.

By actively promoting a 'shop local' culture and spotlighting success stories through county platforms, Martin County can create a nurturing environment that not only aids in the growth of existing small businesses but also attracts new entrepreneurs to the area, thereby helping the tax base and providing jobs. A Win-Win for everyone!

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

President of the Martin County Education Association

Matt Theobold
President of the Martin County Teachers Association

The Martin County School District often uses the phrase “Making Connections” in their communications with the public; it is a concept readers of Friends and Neighbors know very well, considering this publication was founded as a way for the community to connect with the actions of their local government.

In last month’s article, I wrote about the gap between the cost of living in Martin County and teacher salaries (in the state, we are currently 7th highest for cost of living, but 46th in teacher pay), and how other school boards have worked fervently to close that gap in their communities. There is a desperate need for this right now in Martin County, which was crystallized for me recently when dropping off some donations to a local nonprofit.

As I was unloading the items from my vehicle, the staff of the organization were flabbergasted that one of the items had been requested that very morning by a client in crisis they were supporting; the item was a roll of toilet paper, and the individual in need requesting it was a teacher from our school district.

Hearing that frankly broke my heart–the union had organized this supply drive to assist those in need, as many of our students and their families are…we never thought we would be helping one of our own. Later when I shared this story with another teacher after a negotiation session with the School Board, they were far less surprised by what had happened, and said they understood what that individual was going through: this particular educator’s spouse recently re-entered the workforce, so this veteran teacher of twenty years and their family of four were finally able to get off the government assistance rolls they had been on for nearly a decade.

Sadly, these stories are all too common in our community, and unless we commit to closing the wage gap, the disconnect between policy and our teachers’ reality is only going to get worse. The responsibility of the School Board is to implement policy, and the responsibility of the union is to make sure the Board sees the direct fiscal impact of their decisions on bargaining unit members; management and labor have been operating under this premise for centuries, generally to the mutual benefit of both parties.

I would argue that an investment in our children’s future by investing in those who educate them is not only sound fiscal policy, but also the right thing to do.

It’s an easy connection to make: how can we hope to be #1 in the state, retain quality educators and staff, and grow as a district if we do not offer a fair and livable wage?

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

Cleveland Clinic Reports

Dr. Rishi P. Singh
Cleveland Clinic Martin Health, President

Becoming Heart Wise:
Cleveland Clinic Martin South Patients Learn to Care for Their Heart and Health

Jolene Polidoro is wise in many ways, and now she can add heartwise to her list of accomplishments. The 81-year-old came to the Emergency Department at Martin South in October 2023 with labored breathing and fatigue. An underlying kidney condition was causing water retention and affecting her heart.

Through a new program at Cleveland Clinic Martin South called Save the Failing Heart, she has learned to manage her health with diet, be vigilant about fluid intake, and stay active. She diligently watches her salt intake, monitors her weight and blood pressure, and measures water and fluid intake every day.

“Doctors give us advice; it’s up to us to put it in practice,” Jolene said. Following her doctors’ advice and having clear parameters to monitor, has yielded positive results for Jolene, who is staying at a healthy weight, regaining mobility, avoiding trips to the hospital, and enjoying life with her family. 

Save the Failing Heart – a catalyst grant from Cleveland Clinic in Ohio

Dr. Parth Patel and Dr. Matthew Mozzo, both hospital-based internists at Martin South, observed the difficulty in creating healthy habits that might keep cardiac patients from returning to the hospital with repeat emergencies.

They applied for and received a grant from Cleveland Clinic to help them move the needle in improving heart health for their patients.

Their program, Save the Failing Heart, provides heart failure patients with self-monitoring tools and follow up appointments via telemedicine. Doctors and nurses coach patients on medication management to reduce readmissions and keep people healthy.

“Our goal is to help patients manage their own heart health with proven tools that are easy to use, and help them stay out of the hospital,” Dr. Patel said.

Like Jolene, each patient receives a kit with scales to weigh themselves, water bottles to measure fluid intake, a blood pressure cuff, and a log to help them track and report back to their caregivers. Patients also learn about salt intake and the risks to their heart.

Dr. Patel is an advocate of long-term follow-up with cardiologists and primary care physicians. He and other hospitalists at Martin South and Martin North work hand in hand with community doctors who see patients like Jolene and who want to empower their patients to receive the best care possible. 

Long-term well-being for the community

Dr. Patel tells his patients that salt and water intake are crucial to keeping the body’s main pump – your heart – healthy. He is empowering patients to take charge of their health and encouraging them to enlist family members in helping to hold them accountable for their daily habits, as well as their medication compliance. He also reminds them to keep following their doctor’s advice even after they feel better.

It takes a community to hold each other accountable for health outcomes. Cleveland Clinic is here to partner with each community member in improving quality of life for everyone.

Learn more about living with heart failure: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/departments/heart/patient-education/recovery-care/heart-failure/living-heart-failure

Rishi P. Sing's opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Martin County Forever

Preserving Paradize: A Half Cent At  A Time









What You Can Do to Help!

The essence of democracy is to let the people decide. Of course, practically speaking, not every decision can be made by citizens – that’s why we have elected officials.

On February 20, an agenda item will go before the Martin County Board of County Commissioners asking them to place a referendum on the November 2024 ballot for a temporary, half-cent sales tax to purchase and conserve natural lands in Martin County. 

If commissioners vote to approve placing the referendum on the ballot, it does NOT mean commissioners are voting to raise our taxes. What it DOES mean is that voters in Martin County will get to decide if they want to tax themselves.  This is the democratic process in its truest and purist form – let the people vote and choose their own destiny.

As we’ve stated in our previous articles, that you can read by clicking here, there are about 46,000 undeveloped acres in Martin County within four target areas that could potentially be acquired. Some of those lands are at high risk of development over the next decade if we don’t act now.  

If acquired and conserved, these environmentally significant lands will help clean and restore our rivers and waterways, safeguard sources of drinking water, create wildlife corridors, provide more access to beaches and shorelines and increase recreational opportunities.

Preserving natural lands also has economic benefits including increasing property values, promoting more efficient development, enhancing ecotourism, and helping farmers continue to farm.

It is worth repeating that commissioners would not be voting on whether to raise our taxes. This is a really important point as the election cycle begins and misinformation is likely to run rampant. They will simply be voting on whether to let the voters decide.

While we know voters want to protect our quality of life, citizens can be skeptical of government and expect assurances that the funds raised through the sales tax will be used in the ways they were intended.  For that reason, guardrails have been put in place to limit how the monies can be spent. Specifically:

  • The land acquired will be limited to four regions – “Blueways” beach areas, Pal-Mar, Indian River Lagoon Region, and Loxahatchee/St. Lucie Rivers
  • There will be a citizen’s oversight committee and an annual audit
  • The sales tax increase won’t apply to groceries, prescription medicine or school supplies and also doesn’t apply to purchases exceeding $5,000

Another positive aspect of the sales tax is that more than a third of the money will come from people who don’t live in Martin County.  

Sales tax revenue will be used to leverage additional matching funds from state and federal sources – stretching our local dollars even further!  Projected cash flow over the 10-year tax increase period can also be used to borrow funds to make major land acquisitions during the first several years.

If you believe in this Martin County Forever sales tax Initiative, NOW IS THE TIME TO LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD.  Please send an email to Martin County Commissioners and encourage them to vote yes on placing this referendum on the ballot in November 2024.

Simply send one email to comish@martin.fl.us and it will be received by all five commissioners and other senior county staff.  And you don’t need to spend a lot of time writing a long email.  Something simple and heartfelt is all that’s needed.

Any questions?  Please reach out to us at martincoutnyforever@gmail.com

For more info visit www.martincountyforever.com. Follow us on Facebook at Martin County Forever Facebook   or on Instagram at Martin County Forever Instagram

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

Martin County Taxpayers Association

MCTA Accomplishments in 2023

We began last year with our annual dinner featuring the very witty Judge Darren Steele.  Commissioner Stacey Hetherington was awarded our “Friend of the Taxpayer” plaque for tenacious questioning on behalf of the taxpayers of Martin County. 

Our monthly newsletter didn’t miss a beat and has remained a concise and important source of information on actions taken by the County’s independent taxing authorities.  The newsletter focuses on the Board of County Commissioners, the School Board, the Children’s Service Council and the South Florida Water Management District.  When appropriate, we cover happenings at the Business Development Board, Parks & Rec., the Community Redevelopment Agency and others.  We have continued to write more in-depth articles on various topics which can be found on our website  https://mctaxpayers.org/.   You can also sign up for the newsletter there.

Last Spring were invited by the County Administrator to attend the Capital Improvement Plan meetings for each department.  These are an integral part of the budget process.  We put out a call to action for people to attend the final two budget hearings once we realized that the BOCC was looking at an ad valorem tax increase.  We weren’t the only ones, but over 100 concerned citizens showed up to protest the increase causing two commissioners to remark that they had never before seen people at the budget meetings.  The increase was held to .89%, a far cry from the original 5%+. 

We attended endless public meetings in order to keep you informed.  And to that end, we added another selection on our website menu titled “Your Questions Answered”.   Be sure to visit it and lay your questions there.  If we don’t know the answer, we will do the research to find it.  We continue to search out those who would join our little group of observers, researchers and writers.  If you are interested, contact Darlene at 772-285-7447.

We look forward to this year and have begun by supporting the Term Limits for County Commissioner’s bills and garnering support from our Legislative Delegation.  We have a tour of US Sugar coming up on February 28th which is already nearly filled!  We are planning our annual meeting in early April.  Watch for the Save-the-Date and be sure to attend.

The MCTA will again in 2024, as in our previous 73 years, remain steadfastly dedicated to you, the Martin County Taxpayer. 

MCTA’s opinions are their own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Beaver Eco Works

Clean Water for a Clean Future: Beaver EcoWorks Delivers First Water Pretreatment Trailer to the Village of Indiantown for Improving Drinking Water Quality

By Ted Astolfi, Sales & Marketing Manager

Beaver EcoWorks LLC, a Palm-City based water engineering company, recently delivered a mobile water pretreatment unit to the Village of Indiantown that is already generating positive impact on the operations of the municipal drinking water facility and the water quality for Indiantown residents.

The Water Pretreatment unit leverages a portfolio of technologies, including electrochemical oxidation and ultrafine bubbles, to trigger a series of advanced oxidation reactions in the water. These reactions enable the pretreatment unit to efficiently remove organic contaminants, kill bacteria and viruses, oxidize heavy metal, remove odor, reduce color, and improve the overall quality and taste of the water. Importantly, the underlying technology uses no added chemicals, which results in an eco-friendly process with additional cost savings for the Village.  

These advanced technologies are implemented on a trailer-based mobile platform, custom engineered to meet the needs of the drinking water facility. This mobile and flexible design means that installation of the unit occurred in less than one week, with no significant rework to the facility infrastructure required.

Shantanu Jakhete, Operations Advisor, pictured standing in front of the unit.

Innovation doesn’t stop at the technology. Beaver EcoWorks is disrupting the traditional model in which private businesses can deliver projects for governments. The company’s model is to establish deep partnerships with Government, which means working closely with Indiantown professionals and investing in the community’s long-term goals. In this case, Beaver EcoWorks partnered with the Village of Indiantown, and was able to deliver the water pretreatment unit in less than 6 months from initial conversations. As part of this delivery, Beaver EcoWorks demonstrated the unit’s capabilities in a 1-month-long pilot deployment, allowing the Village to evaluate its performance before committing to full operational use. As part of its partnership, Beaver EcoWorks provides the Village of Indiantown with available testing data and a discounted price on the delivery of the unit. Water quality data is monitored continuously through in-line sensors and was audited by a laboratory run by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The data collected from the pilot deployment is supporting what Indiantown water customers are already saying: the drinking water quality has improved. Within 24 hours of initial operation, heavy metals in facility equipment were precipitated and oxidized. Ammonia injection is no longer required, which enables removal of algae and biofilm growth from the plant structure and piping system. Pre-chlorination is no longer needed, water hardness has been reduced, and no chlorine byproducts have been detected in the water. All in all, the drinking water quality, color, odor, and taste has been greatly improved.

Beaver EcoWorks looks forward to continuing its partnership with the Village of Indiantown, including with the upcoming delivery of a trailer-based unit designed to improve treatment at the municipal wastewater treatment plant. This wastewater treatment unit, in conjunction with the delivered water pretreatment unit, enables the Village of Indiantown to increase its volume and to produce and sell water to upcoming landscaping and golf course customers. With the delivery of these 2 custom-designed units, Beaver EcoWorks will have demonstrated innovative technologies and partnership models, both of which are creating a positive impact for the Village of Indiantown and its residents.

About Beaver EcoWorks LLC: Beaver EcoWorks LLC is a water engineering company headquartered in Palm City. The company was founded by water engineering professionals who built decades of expertise solving water recycling challenges in the oil and gas and wastewater industries. The team developed a unique technology portfolio and expertise. With the emergence of contaminants such as microplastics, the Beaver EcoWorks team exited the oil and gas industry to focus on delivering custom solutions for local communities. With its unique technology, expertise, and focus on local government partnerships, Beaver EcoWorks’ mission is to create clean water for a clean future. 

Ted Astofi’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Constitutional Corner & Non Profit Notices


Supervisor of Elections

Tax Collector

Property Appraiser


Martin County Clerk & Comptroller

Non Profit Notices





Save the Date!                                                               
The 3rd Annual Jensen Beach Garden Expo

Don’t miss this annual tradition in Jensen Beach
February 24, 2024 – 9AM to 3PM


The 2024 Jensen Beach Garden Expo will be held on Saturday, February 24, 2024, from 9-3 at Indian Riverside Park in front of the Dockside Pavilion. The event will be better than ever, with lots MORE PARKING, a parking shuttle, and more food trucks and door prizes.

The Expo is a specialty garden show featuring local vendors showcasing tropical plants, trees, native specimens, and exotic orchids. Shop for herbs, succulents, outdoor art, and gardening supplies for your backyard or patio. The show includes free educational presentations and demonstrations each hour on the half hour. Stroll through the park under the shady live oak trees, enjoy waterfront views of the Indian River, and check out this fun, educational plant and garden fair.

As in the past, net proceeds raised by the Expo will support our community. We are very excited to extend our giving this year through an annual scholarship to deserving local high school students pursuing a degree in horticulture, landscape design, environmental sciences, or other related subjects. The Expo will continue supporting those in need, including camp scholarships for children to attend the Florida Oceanographic Society and the Environmental Studies Center, the Junior Master Gardeners, and the Community Gardens of the House of Hope.

Brought to you in part by Circa69 American Gastropub our major event underwriter, and the many sponsors supporting the Expo. For more information, please visit our website: www.jensenbeachgardenclub.com
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ArtsFest 2024 Adds Jimmy Buffet Tribute Band on February 11

ArtsFest 2024, one of the largest arts events in the region, just added a special tribute to Jimmy Buffet to its Sunday, February 11 lineup.

The Landsharks, the original Jimmy Buffet tribute band, was judged so good by none other than Jimmy Buffet himself that he hired them as the house band as his restaurant Margaritaville. The Landshark's credentials are impressive, having played all over the world including shows at The Super Bowl, in Disney, at Universal Studios, and MGM Studios, and at major concerts with acts including Jimmy Buffett, The Beach Boys, Bob Marley's Wailers, Patti Labelle, Pablo Cruise, Alan Jackson, Black-Eyed Peas, Three Dog Night, WAR, Inner Circle, The Tams, The Swinging Medallions, and more.

“The loss of Jimmy Buffet is still painful,” said MartinArts Executive Director Nancy Turrell. “We hope that bringing the premier Jimmy Buffet tribute band to ArtsFest will give all of the parrotheads and other Jimmy Buffet fans another chance to honor him and enjoy his incredible music.”

The Landsharks will perform in Memorial Park in Stuart at 2PM on Sunday. ArtsFest itself runs from 10AM to 5PM on both Saturday, February 10 and Sunday, February 11 with fine arts, crafts, a chalk art contest, an Arts Speaks Poetry contest, and Stuart CHOPPED! Admission is $5 at the gate, with 18 and under admitted free.

For more information on the entire two-day lineup of events, go to www.artsfeststuart.org.

About MartinArts

MartinArts serves as the local arts agency within the Martin County community, supporting the arts through advocacy, promotion, research, community planning and programming. Founded in 1980, it has as its mission to inspire participation and passion for the arts in throughout the community so that arts and culture are woven into every aspect of life. MartinArts is based the Court House Cultural Center, formerly the County’s first courthouse, in historic downtown Stuart, where it presents art exhibits, concerts, and cultural events. Each year it presents the Marties, awards for artist excellence in the community; holds ArtsFest, the largest arts event in the area; presents the All-Florida Juried Art Show; and supports the arts and artists who add richness and beauty to the community. For more information, go to www.martinarts.org


2nd Annual Father/Daughter and Mother/Son Dance

On Saturday February 24th at 5pm, Banner Lake Club Inc. will be hosting our 2nd annual Father/Daughter and Mother/Son Dance at the Community Center, 12212 SE Lantana Ave, Hobe Sound 33455. This is a red-carpet event that allows children to dress up and have a special night out with their parents. Everyone in our community is encouraged to attend. Tickets are $25 per parent/child couple. We will be providing games, dance offs, entertainment, and prizes. Everyone is looking forward to having just as much fun as we did last year! We are looking for generous donors to help make this event as fun as we can for as many families as possible. Banner Lake Club Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit organization that serves the Banner Lake community in Hobe Sound. Please contact Banner Lake Club Inc. at 772-206-3990 for information on how to donate and to find out how your sponsorship will impact our event.


Ladies Night Out Returns to The Flagler Center, Benefitting The Children's Museum

Jensen Beach, February 22, 2024 – Get ready for a night of glamor, generosity, and local flair as Ladies Night Out, Presented by Ms. Karen Borin, makes a triumphant return on Thursday, February 22nd at The Flagler Center. This much-anticipated event promises an evening of exclusive shopping, delectable appetizers, signature cocktails, raffles, and more—all in support of The Children's Museum of the Treasure Coast.

Attendees can indulge in a unique shopping experience, perusing offerings from a curated selection of local vendors. The Flagler Center will be transformed into a haven for fashionistas and philanthropists alike, creating an atmosphere of celebration and community spirit.

In addition to the shopping extravaganza, guests will be treated to light appetizers, signature cocktails, and exciting raffles throughout the evening, adding to the festivities.

Sponsors and vendors eager to be part of this exceptional event are encouraged to secure their spots early. To become a sponsor or reserve a vendor booth, please contact Wendie Berardi at 772-260-4742 or email nj2flagirl@gmail.com.

This year's Ladies Night Out promises to be a remarkable celebration, blending the finest local talent with a dedication to the support of The Children's Museum. Come and be part of an evening filled with style, substance, and philanthropy. A special acknowledgment to our devoted sponsors Ms. Karen Borin, Daher, Tracy Armstrong & Chris Clifton, Jennifer Atkisson-Lovett & RE/MAX of Stuart, Veranda Falls, Eberst Law Firm & Donna DeMarchi, and Lively & Napoli Orthodontics – they are the driving force behind the magic!

Event Details:

Date: Thursday, February 22nd

Time: 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm

Venue: The Flagler Center, 201 SW Flagler Ave, Stuart, FL 34994

Stay tuned for more updates and surprises as we count down the days to this exciting evening. Save the date, spread the word, and let's make Ladies Night Out 2023 a spectacular affair!

About Ladies Night Out

Ladies Night Out is an annual event that brings together the community for an evening of shopping, socializing, and philanthropy. This year's event will benefit The Children's Museum of the Treasure Coast, supporting its mission to provide educational and enriching experiences for young minds.


Raffle Highlight: Win a Louis Vuitton Diane Bag Valued at $2,400!

Adding an extra layer of excitement to Ladies Night Out, we're thrilled to announce an exclusive raffle featuring a stunning Louis Vuitton Diane Bag valued at $2,400! For your chance to make this luxury accessory yours, raffle tickets are available for $25 each or 5 for $100. The best part? You don't have to be present to win! Secure your tickets now on our website and elevate your style while supporting The Children's Museum.

About The Children's Museum

The Children's Museum is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering creativity, learning, and play for children of all ages. Proceeds from Ladies Night Out will contribute to the museum's ongoing initiatives and programs.


Education Foundation of Martin County’s Charity Mah Jongg Tournament at Harbour Ridge benefits students and teachers

PALM CITY, Fla. — “Make a Hand and Give a Hand to Education” — that’s the theme of the upcoming Harbour Ridge Mah Jongg tournament. All proceeds will benefit the Education Foundation of Martin County (EFMC), which organizes many educational enrichment programs for students and teachers in Martin County’s public schools.

Presented by Sandhill Cove, the charity event will be held on Friday, March 1, at Harbour Ridge Yacht & Country Club, 12600 Harbour Ridge Blvd. Registration and a continental breakfast begin at 9 a.m. and morning play begins at 10:30 a.m. A luncheon will follow at 12:30 p.m. and afternoon play will begin at 1:30 p.m. Awards will be presented at 3:45 p.m.

The registration fee is $85 per player and includes cash prizes, a continental breakfast, lunch, awards and valet parking at the clubhouse. The tournament is limited to 100 players. Reservations are required and may be made online at www.EducationFounationMC.org


L to R:  The Mah Jongg Tournament Committee: Carolyn Caiola, Lois McGuire, Annette Theriault, Kathy Tierney

A waiting list will be started after 100 players are registered. To add your name to the wait list, please call the EFMC office at 772-600-8062.

During this daylong event, guests will have the opportunity to peruse and bid on items in a silent auction. Organizers also are collecting donations for the auction. A sampling of last year’s auction items included spa treatments, jewelry, gift baskets and golf outings.

“Donating to this exclusive auction is a fantastic way to promote your business to a targeted audience,” said Tournament Committee Chair and EFMC Board Member Lois McGuire.

Jill Burton, marketing director at Sandhill Cove Retirement Living, and Edwardine Tasco of The Tasco Family Foundation, the breakfast sponsor.

Sponsoring the event also provides an opportunity for businesses to gain exposure. Remaining sponsorships that are still available range from $250 to $1,750.  For more information or to join Sandhill Cove, The Tasco Family Foundation, Water’s Edge Dermatology, Treasure

Coast Urgent Care, Edie Stevenson, and Ann Vossekuil as a sponsor, please call 772-600-8062 or visit www.EducationFoundationMC.org.

The Education Foundation of Martin County is the Martin County School District’s strategic non-profit partner with the mission of enriching and enhancing educational opportunities and support for students and teachers in Martin County’s public schools. As an independent group, the Foundation promotes this effort by raising and distributing private and corporate funds through several established programs, including classroom enrichment grants, Adopt-a-Class, the EFMC “For the Love of Reading” Book Vending Machines, the EFMC PLAYS program for kindergarteners, the EFMC Career Exploration Labs in Martin’s middle schools, special initiatives, professional development for teachers, and programs to recognize outstanding teaching. For more information, please visit www.EducationFoundationMC.org.

Photos by Doreen Poreba


– Cirque Du Soirée, a glamorous and enchanting celebration of unique experiences and glorious artwork, kicked off the festive 2024 season on January 20 to benefit House of Hope’s Project HOPE (Helping Others Progress through Empowerment). Nearly $150,000 was raised in support of the nonprofit’s work.

The sold-out event at Piper’s Landing Yacht & Country Club in Palm City featured an exquisite gourmet dinner, a live auction with unique experiences, an intriguing array of items in a silent auction, and the live band Soul Survivors from Chase Music 2.0.

Brian and Maria Reich with Liz and Commissioner Ed Ciampi were among the 160 guests at House of Hope’s Cirque du Soirée. Commissioner Ciampi, serving as auctioneer, encouraged guests to donate a total of $35,000 in an impromptu “Call for Hope.”

Commissioner Ed Ciampi acted as Auctioneer. His vivid descriptions of the impact of House of Hope on the community inspired guests to donate $35,000 in an impromptu “Call to Hope.”

“This was a very special event for us,” said House of Hope CEO Rob Ranieri. “It was a fantastic evening among friends and a great fundraiser for House of Hope, but it also was the kickoff of our 40th anniversary.”

During the auctions, guests had the opportunity to bid on several items that are not only one-of-a-kind but also carry special emotional meaning. Local artists Deborah Lovequist, Kiora Slate, Sue Ann Saleeby, Teagan Carregal and Stacy Ranieri each created a piece of art for the silent auction that reflects their personal response to House of Hope’s work in the community. The live auction included a stunning piece of jewelry contributed by Martin County resident and jeweler Terry Rieger of Diamonds by Terry. The white gold ring, created by Terry herself, sparkled with more than two carats of gorgeous stones including emeralds and diamonds.

House of Hope CEO Rob Ranieri, center, is joined by members of the Pedersen Family Foundation, the Presenting Sponsor for Cirque du Soirée 2024: Cory Pfister, Timothy Pfister, Stephen Pedersen, Kari Pedersen, Kenny Gould, and Jack Waldroup

House of Hope was founded by compassionate members of the community in 1984, including the remarkable couples David and Marni Abate and Robert and Toddie Neal, alongside retired priest  Father Jerome Herman, and Deacon Jack Raisch and his wife Eleanor. Over four decades, a small nonprofit dedicated to feeding the hungry has expanded in size and broadened its mission, providing transformative programs to empower Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship.

House of Hope now has a staff of 48, with 864 volunteers, 7 service locations, and a hydroponic production farm with a packing house. It reaches more than 21,000 individuals each month and distributed 1.3 million pounds of food last year.

Sponsors of the second annual Cirque du Soirée include the Pedersen Family Foundation as the Presenting Sponsor, Cleveland Clinic Martin Health, Michele Bragg, Three Lakes, Ashley Capital, Immanuel Palm City - Stuart, O’Rourke Engineering & Planning, Hooks Construction, Treasure Coast Legal, d(K) Capital, Debra Duval with Water Pointe Realty Group of Stuart Inc., HBKS Wealth Advisors, Jensen Beach Garden Club, Lucido Design, One Martin, ReMax of Stuart, and Timothy & Maureen Cotter.

Pictures of the event are posted on House of Hope’s Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/Hohmartin.

To read the full history and understand more about House of Hope’s impact in the community, visit the website www.hohmartin.org or call 772-286-4673for a tour .


Lakeside Stroll Honors Loved Ones

Treasure Coast Hospice Foundation’s Lakeside Stroll to be held Saturday, February 10

(STUART, Fla. January 23, 2024 – The Treasure Coast Hospice Foundation will hold its annual Lakeside Stroll: A Walk for Hope and Healing  on Saturday, February 10, 2024, at 8 am, at Tradition Square in Port St. Lucie. The free 1.2 mile walk around the Lake at Tradition is an opportunity for individuals and families to honor loved ones and support members of the community who are grieving.

“The Lakeside Stroll is a remembrance event where the community can honor and remember loved ones while showing support to those who are learning to navigate their grief journey,” said Director of Grief Support and Pediatric Services Jacki Nardone, LCSW, ACHP-SW. “The event helps raise awareness about the grief counseling services that Treasure Coast Hospice offers to the community and how we are here to support those who are coping with the death of a loved one.”

Therapeutic aspects of the event that offer hope and healing to those who’ve experienced loss include a peaceful stroll in a serene setting and an inspirational song selection from the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County.

Participants can also contribute to a special legacy project by inscribing names and messages on strips of fabric that will be woven into a memorial tapestry that hangs in the Treasure Coast Hospice Grief Support Center. The project, which was started during the 2019 event by master weaver Hollie Machen, has expanded to a second tapestry that holds hundreds of names and sentiments of love and healing. Strollers are also encouraged to bring photos of their loved ones to place on the memory wall. The event also features children’s activities, a Veterans station, a Pet Tent and raffles. Pets are welcome to walk alongside their owners.

Presenting sponsor Dignity Memorial is joined by other event sponsors, including A&G Concrete Pools; Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County; True Crew Dance Co.; Children’s Services Council of St. Lucie County; Remnant Construction; Martin Funeral Home and Crematory; Fox Haven Roofing; iThink Financial; PDQ; St. Lucie Draft House; Living Faith Church; Natalie’s Juice; and Gordon Foods.

The Lakeside Stroll is free to attend. Registration and breakfast begin at 8:00 a.m. 

Pre-registered attendees receive a free shirt while supplies last. For more information or to register, visit www.treasurehealth.org/LSS or contact Mark Olson at 772-403-4413.   

About Treasure Coast Hospice

Treasure Coast Hospice is a non-profit community organization of skilled professionals and dedicated volunteers whose mission is to provide access to compassionate, caring, expert and professional hospice and grief support services to patients and families at the end of life. Founded in 1982, Treasure Coast Hospice has grown to serve more than 4,000 patients annually in Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee counties. Thanks to the generous support of our community, the Treasure Coast Hospice Foundation is able to fund comprehensive hospice and grief support programs for Treasure Coast Hospice, including three Inpatient Units for those who need a higher level of care, the specialized pediatric program Little Treasures, music therapy, massage therapy, virtual reality experiences, individual and group bereavement services, and Camp Good Grief for children who have experienced the loss of a loved one.



Presenting Scholarship Opportunities For College and Trade Students Ages 18-25 To Experience Travel (DEADLINE EXTENDED TO 2/5/2024)

Treasure Coast, FL, January, 2024 - The Traveling Youth, a nonprofit organization committed to fostering global understanding and personal growth among underserved youth, has announced an extension of its scholarship application deadline for the Summer 2024 Study Abroad Program. The new deadline is January 31st, 2024, providing college and trade students aged 18-25 with an extended opportunity to apply.

Founded in 2020, The Traveling Youth believes in the transformative power of education through immersive study abroad experiences. The program, dedicated to opening doors of opportunity for underserved young adults, has witnessed remarkable results through its Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQi) test, with students showing significant development in 93% of the assessed categories.

The extended deadline aims to encourage more local students to seize this unique opportunity to embark on a month-long educational journey across Europe. Multiple levels of scholarships are available, covering a majority of the program costs. Partnered with the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, Czech Republic, the program integrates history, business, and culture into its curriculum.

Scholarship deadline has been extended to February 5th, 2024. There are currently 6 scholarships available applicants must have a minimum of 2.5 and be able to demonstrate financial need. Applicants should be a resident of Martin, St. Lucie, Okeechobee, or Indian River Counties.

Partial and full scholarships are available. For more information about The Traveling Youth and the scholarship application process, please visit: www.thetravelingyouth.org/scholarship




Fire & Ice the theme of this year’s Paws & Claws Gala

PALM CITY, Fla. — Fire and Ice may seem like opposites but for the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast’s annual Paws & Claws Gala, they belong together. That’s because that’s the theme of the 2024 event. Presented by the Catsman Foundation, the Gala will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24, at The Cape Club of Palm City, 10664 SW Whooping Crane Way.

Back Row (standing, from left): Cindy Greenspan, Debbie Hansen, Jennifer Campbell, Allola McGraw, Shaun Kelly (holding Molly), Monica Olsen, Kimberly Izzolo, Alison Shade. Front Row (sitting, from left): Wendy Talbot, Palmer (dog), Diane Coakley, Melony Zaravelis, Honey (dog), Carol Dippy

Paws and Claws will feature premium cocktails, flavorful fare, music by The Chase Band, both a silent and live auction, interpretative dancers, a snowball throwing contest and much more. This premier event is the largest of its kind along the Treasure Coast and all proceeds benefit the humane society’s shelter animals.

Event Co-chairs Shaun Kelly and Kimberly Izzolo

“The Paws & Claws Gala is our premier fundraising event of the season,” said Sarah Fisher, communications manager for the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast. “It is responsible for raising critical funds to help our shelter continue to achieve its mission … to provide compassionate care and nurture the bond between people and pets.”

Volunteers Kimberly Izzolo and Shaun Kelly are co-chairing the event and are supported by committee members Katie Astras, Jennifer Campbell, Dixie Church, Diane Coakley, Dana Coates, Carol Dippy, Cindy Greenspan, Kit Haas, Debbie Hansen, Michael Izzolo, Alison Kohloff, Allola McGraw, Monica Olsen, Sarah Ralicki, Alison Shade, Wendy Talbot, Karen Wilkens, Melony Zaravelis and Kay Ziegler .               

Tickets are $250 per person. To purchase tickets and find all the details for the 2024 Gala, go online to www.hstc1.org/gala or contact Alyssa Bean, community events specialist, at 772-600-3215 or Events@hstc1.org.

Additional support of this event is provided by Stuart Magazine and TC Palm.

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 https://www.facebook.com/humanesocietyTC and Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/hstc1. For more information, visit https://www.hstc1.org or call (772) 223-8822.

photos by Doreen Poreba


2024 Commercial Real Estate Forum: Martin County market starting to sizzle as millions of square feet under construction or coming online

STUART—Talk of real estate in Martin County usually centers on the residential market. But as more sites come online or move into prime position for development, the commercial real estate market is presenting compelling opportunities and generating lots of excitement.

Those opportunities and more go on community display at the Business Development Board of Martin County’s fourth annual Commercial Real Estate Forum. The event—free and open to the public—takes place from 8:15 to 11:45 a.m. Feb. 22 at Indian River State College’s Chastain campus in Stuart.

“This event is an excellent resource for professionals in real estate, banking, finance and more,” says Susan Rabinowitz, chair of the BDB board of directors. “Attendees will find out about the hot properties, learn market trends and hear from local and state experts.”

Speakers include:

·       Z-Joe Kulenovic, vice president of international operations for Select Florida, on international markets.

·       Kenneth Krasnow, vice chairman of institutional investor services for Colliers, on the 2024 commercial real estate outlook.

·       James FitzGerald of Mattamy Homes on the Newfield workplace district in Palm City, spanning up to 300 acres entitled for up to 2 million square feet of industrial, office, hotel, retail, multifamily and flex space.

·       Jill Marasa of Ashley Capital on Sunrise Grove in Palm City—Martin Commerce Park: 250 acres approved PUD-C, 32 acres approved for gas station, convenience store, hotel and restaurants; Sunrise Grove Commerce Center: more than1,600 acres; Martin Triangle, 200 acres, a large portion of which fronts I-95.

·       Matthew McAllister of Cushman & Wakefield on the South Florida Gateway Distribution Center in Stuart with facilities totaling more than 1 million square feet of industrial and a future site spanning more than 210,000 square feet for retail, commercial and light industrial and 352,845 square feet for future freezer and cooler space.

·       David Powers, principal of Indiantown Realty Corp. on the variety of residential and employment prospects coming forward in the Village of Indiantown.

·       Stuart Commissioner Troy McDonald on recent commercial activity in the city.

Free continental breakfast included. Attendees must pre-register for complimentary tickets at www.bdbmc.org

About the BDB

As the county’s official economic development organization and an official partner with Select Florida, the Business Development Board of Martin County provides business relocation services, resources and helps foster a business climate that helps Martin County companies compete on a global scale. Core services include:

·       Expansion, relocation and site location assistance

·       Financial assistance, grants and incentives

·       Training and workforce development

·       Data and market intelligence

·       Business climate advocacy

·       Permitting and regulatory assistance

·       Export assistance and market research


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 Eric Kiehn


Being an EV owner (Ford F-150 Lightning) I did want to give you a perspective regarding the charging stations that you might not be aware of. These types of stations are referred to as destination chargers and unlike high speed chargers, are meant to essentially be a replacement for charging at home while visiting a Hotel or other establishment. The need for this type of charging station is actually very necessary when people like myself do day trips or drive to areas for conferences. I have found myself at a Hotel where they had essentially 4 chargers and 10 of us (that I know of) jockeying to get a charge in before we left. So while 12 destination chargers might seem like overkill, that is a little less than 12% out of 102 rooms. With EV adoption at around 8.6% or more you can see that this could very quickly be an issue.  So while even a year ago 12 stations seemed a stretch, today it seems like they were forward thinking and the numbers, or as you would put it the market, are demonstrating the need.

I thought I would pass this perspective along. When I plan a weekend trip with my wife or go to a conference I now ask three questions, do you have destination chargers, how many and are they working. I book my stay accordingly even if at a slight premium for the convenience.

Just thought I would give you the other side of that story.

All the best,


Brandon Tucker/Executive Director, Florida Landowners Association


It can be argued that farming is the backbone of a successful society. Florida reflects this with an economy that leans heavily on a healthy agriculture industry with more than 47,500 farms, employing more than two million people, and almost $254 billion in sales revenue.

That’s why Hurricane Idalia’s destructive path through the Big Bend region was so troubling as it crippled infrastructure and destroyed chicken farms, damaged crops, hurt livestock and left farmers and growers in crisis. The damage from the CAT4 storm might have been most visible in Taylor County, which is the heart of Florida’s timber industry where tall pine trees were turned into matchsticks.

The need was great and state lawmakers and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson agreed to plant the seed for recovery during a special session late last year. Now, farmers, ranchers and growers get to reap the benefits.

Two agricultural disaster recovery programs were launched this month with more than $112 million in funding for loans to restore and replace essential property and equipment and remove debris. The loan program offers low interest or interest-free loans up to $500,000 for eligible producers. The timber recovery program offers grants to eligible timberland owners up to $250,000 which can be used for site preparation, the purchase of seedling, replanting and post-planting herbicide costs.

As someone who has grown up on and around farms, I know many farmers couldn’t get back on their feet without these innovative programs. The Florida Farm Bureau Federation, Florida Forestry Association, and the Florida Ag Coalition have all praised this bi-partisan effort because we know an industry that feeds you is an industry worth appreciating.

As a third generation Floridian I am proud to join the chorus of folks commending these recovery programs and want to thank state leaders for ‘singing from the same hymnal’ by putting politics aside and focusing on solving a problem that affects us all.

Farming is a profession of faith because as the quote goes the farmer must be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer. Faith in a farmer means we have hope for the future.


From Ron Schatten

The Governors State of the Union speech. A response to Darlene VanRiper.

Unfortunately, as you said, you are not only “a shameless fan of the Governor”; you also choose to portray political spin as fact even though the information you are passing along is either false or misleading. I’d like to provide another viewpoint and some additional facts behind the information that you have provided. The word limit imposed does not allow me to address every point.
Since you are comparing Florida to New York, I will do the same. First, it may be true that Florida has the fewest state employees and the lowest government cost per capita. Florida also provides fewer, and in many cases less beneficial services to its residents. As a comparison Florida provides unemployment benefits of $275 a week for a maximum of 12 weeks while New York provides $504 per week for a maximum of 39 weeks. How many families can live on $504, let alone $275 per week? Today, most families do not have an emergency fund to fall back on to help them when they suffer a loss of employment.
Your stated comparison between the federal government and Florida’s budget was interesting: You stated that “Each American’s share of national debt is $100,000, while Floridian’s share of state debt is $661.” Conflating state debt with federal debt is not valid. Unless you are inferring that Floridians are not Americans. Unfortunately, the federal deficit belongs to all of us. When you compare the federal debt, you should compare the taxes paid by each state versus federal monies returned to each state. When you do, you find that Florida ranks 34th and New York ranks 39th in federal government dependence. Which means Florida does a poorer job of getting federal dollars. An interesting fact is that Florida's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is $1.37 million versus New York's $2.03 million.
You provided information regarding teacher salaries creating the impression that Florida was doing a great job compensating its teachers. The fact is that New York ranks first in the nation in teacher compensation providing an average salary of $92,222 vs Florida ranking 48th at $50,315 with only South Dakota and Mississippi ranking lower. Is it any wonder that Florida has a teacher shortage?
I could continue providing more information about the Governor’s State of the Union speech, but I think I have shown that the information you chose to convey is not fact. One of the major problems today is many people no longer distinguish fact from opinion or political spin. Today, in this country, there is a new trend recognizing what Kelly Ann Conway called “Alternate Facts” which are merely distortions of the truth.
As a side note, it was a pleasure meeting you and getting to speak with you in person.

Martin County


The commission approved the Preserve at Port Salerno in a unanimous vote.

It is 79 units on nearly 9 acres off Hydrangea Street. The PUD has a clubhouse with pool, a 2.33 acre preserve and is not gated. There are two entrances. It looks like just a few streets in an established neighborhood and is ideal as an infill project.

There are 10 two-story buildings. The landscaping is more than what is needed by the code. Parking exceeds requirements. It is a very well-designed project in Port Salerno.

The LPA voted unanimously for approval. (I am a member.) The five members of the commission voted the same. What is not to like about the project?

But you can tell Commissioner Smith is up for re-election. He once again is badmouthing Stuart for approving different projects. I often think Smith forgets that he represents half of Stuart. It is amazing how he uses the city as his personal whipping boy.

In 2023, the Martin County Commission approved hundreds of units to be built. The City of Stuart approved one new single-family home and one town home development of 60 units. In almost every request in unincorporated Martin County, Smith voted in the affirmative for these new projects.

I don’t disagree with his votes. The projects conformed to zoning and the LDRs. In many instances he was obligated to vote for the project.

Then why does Smith believe the city shouldn’t have any projects that conform to their LDRs and zoning? Stuart is the center of the county. It is the county seat and a real city with a walkable downtown.

Smith knows better. He often begins the bashing at election time as if by casting aspersions on Stuart as being out of control, his comments will take away from the votes he casts for county development. His votes of aye are proportionate to the projects proposed a good deal of the time. Smith doesn’t need to pretend Stuart is the ogre and should be blamed for out-of-control growth.

The city is built out. There is little land left. What is Smith going to do when perhaps no new projects in Stuart are approved in 2024? Just make it up, I guess.

Commissioner Smith has a good record when it comes to approvals. The county has grown by less than 2% per year in population in the past decade. It is far from run away development. Own your votes, Commissioner Smith, and don’t try to hide your record behind what Stuart does. Those that hate your votes will still hate your votes.

City of Stuart


This session, the legislature is once again trying to dictate development standards to local government. But it may work out well for Stuart this time.

If you remember last year, they passed the “Live Local Act” which sent this governing board and every other one in the state into full panic mode. To obtain more affordable housing, Tallahassee decided that one way to do it would be to open more land to residential development. The act allows that kind of development on industrial-zoned property and allows that those kinds of proposed projects only need administrative approval thus bypassing the commissioners.

Airports must have complained about having tall buildings erected around their perimeters. Planes crashing into buildings full of people are not a good thing. The legislature has now introduced a bill to correct that flaw. SB 328 is working its way through committees along with a House companion bill which states:

“(5) Sections 125.01055(7) and 166.04151(7) do not apply to 499 any of the following: 500 (a) A proposed development within 10,000 feet of the 501 nearest point of any existing airport runway or planned airport 502 runway identified in the local government’s airport master plan. 503 (b) A proposed development within any airport noise zone 504 identified in the federal land use compatibility table. 505 (c) A proposed development that exceeds maximum height 506 restrictions identified in the political subdivision’s airport 507 zoning regulation adopted pursuant to this section.”

Most of Stuart on the southside of the Roosevelt Bridge is within 10,000 feet of the Witham runways. The only places according to the city manager the city that do not fall within the 10,000 feet are the end of Flagler Park by Hudson’s and the Marina where Sailor’s Return is located. The commission passed a resolution in support.

You can see it here

The commission also approved on 2nd reading the free-standing emergency room for HCA.

The proposed new restaurant on Seminole Street ran into problems. The restaurant wants to have 150 seats mostly as an outdoor venue but had been stymied by neighbors because of concerns that the valet parking would create speeding on the block. I don’t think it would, but the developer was eager to drop the idea and save money.

The restaurant is not in Downtown’s parking exempt district. They must provide parking. The developer at this meeting is requesting that his project become parking exempt. They had rented a lot for nighttime parking at 111 S.E. Osceola Street, which is 675 feet away.

The CRB approved the project with the valet and no music. At the time, the developer did not state that he was against the two restrictions.

Because of opposition at a neighborhood meeting, the property owner/developer dropped the valet and providing any parking. They further wanted to have music. They would be willing to give riparian rights to extend the boardwalk.

The neighbors were not satisfied with just the valet issue. Many spoke against the project. The commission itself was not in the mood to buck the feelings of the neighborhood.

I do not usually address the commission, but I did in this case because I am a member of the CRB. I proposed the no music condition which the CRB incorporated in their recommendations to the commission.

Commissioner Rich wanted them to continue to provide parking spaces. The property owner claimed that there would be a liability issue without the valet. Both Mortell and City Attorney Baggett said an arrangement could be worked out.


During my comments, I said they should provide open parking to anyone. By doing so, they are giving a benefit to the city in exchange for allowing this to move forward. Probably employees of this restaurant and others would park there since it doesn’t have the three-hour restrictions freeing up spaces closer to Downtown.

Providing music is a different issue. If it were a restaurant that had seating mostly inside instead of mostly outside, there would be no problem. But since it is outdoors, the sound would travel, and the neighbors would be negatively impacted. Their claim of being an upscale venue doesn’t really fly for two reasons.

Upscale restaurants don’t have 150 seats on terraced grounds, and they certainly do not need live or even amplified sound. The weather here is too much of a factor to guarantee success. Probably it will be a place to drink and have more casual food. The music will bring them in. And once it starts, there will be continuous battles between the place and the neighbors.

No motion was made, and it will be on the agenda on February 12th.

The applicant’s representatives made some noise about constructing a four-story building on the site. The parcel is only a quarter of an acre. Even to this commission, how many units could go there with parking and setbacks? I wouldn’t take it as much of a threat. But it would fit in with the apartments that are their neighbors.

Town of Sewalls Point


There was a discussion about charging a nominal fee for use of the chamber by outside groups.

Currently, both businesses and non-profits use the chamber. If the use is after hours, a key is provided, and it is supposed to be returned the next day. The groups who use the chamber don’t always clean up. They sometimes leave empty coffee cups and other trash.

The manager is proposing that a $300 cleaning deposit be made and a $30 per hour charge with a minimum of 3 hours to be paid to a town employee for events occurring after 4 pm. Manager Daniels believes that leaving the place open can be a security risk. There have been instances where doors have been left unlocked.

The commission agreed to have Daniels speak with the businesses that use it regularly and come up with a policy.

The grants coordinator outlined where the town stands in the grant process. Since 2021, the town has been awarded almost $16 million in grants. The money is for the South Sewall’s Point Road and septic to sewer project. You can see a spreadsheet here 



Sewall’s Point is having a special election on March 19th for the seat left vacant by the resignation of James Campo.

Friends & Neighbors does not endorse candidates, but we do ask the candidates to write an essay. We don’t present a set of canned questions and then try to elicit responses. When someone is writing in their own voice it tells the reader things they may not have even known to ask.

This is the end of the process but the beginning. The candidates are easy enough to find and speak to. We encourage that dialogue.

We believe by candidates having the freedom to spell out what they think is important, the voters can have an insight into their personality.

Here are their unedited essays.

Vinny Barile

My name is Vinny Barile and I am running for the vacant seat on the Sewall’s Point Commission.

I am a Navy Veteran - 4 years active duty and 2 years inactive in Naval Aviation. I have been a resident of Sewall’s Point for 23 years. I believe I have the leadership skills and experience to fill that vacant seat.

During the 8 years (2012-2020) as a Sewall’s Point Commissioner

  • I was Mayor for 1 year; Vice Mayor for 1 year
  • As Mayor, I was instrumental in raising funds which helped purchase playground equipment for our Town Park. I also sponsored a Kickoff event which helped secure more dollars towards our park.
  • I was appointed by the Town Commission to the Metropolitan Planning Organization in 2015 serving a total of 5 years.  Of those 5 years, I was elected Chairman for 2 years. This allowed me to work with the Florida Dept. of Transportation on many issues - one was securing the green bike lane in Sewall’s Point at no cost to the Town.
  • Instrumental in securing a grant to reduce the cost of sewer conversion on A1A and North Sewall’s Point Road
  • Helped secure reliable fire, EMT and paramedic service thru 2030
  • President of the Treasure Coast Regional League of Cities
  • Vice Chair of the Treasure Coast Council of Local Governments
  • Appointed to Legislative Committee for the Florida League of Cities and a Voting Delegate
  • Served on the Municipal Administration Committee for the Florida League of Cities
  • Part of the Advocacy Team for the Treasure Coast Regional League of Cities, which fought for issues affecting our Cities and Towns
  • Selected as Home Rule Hero 4 years in a row by the Florida League of Cities

These are some of the reasons I believe I would be an asset to the Town as your Commissioner. EXPERIENCE MATTERS!

As in the past, some of my goals are

  • Protect our quality of life
  • Maintain a strong Police Dept.
  • Work to be fiscally responsible with our budget
  • Not to raise taxes and avoid any mandatory assessments
  • Only take on projects the Town can afford
  • Remain transparent on issues facing the Town
  • Be available to our residents to listen to their concerns and issues

As your commissioner, I would be representing you, the residents of Sewall’s Point.

I am humbly asking for your vote on March 19, 2024.

Thank you,

Vinny Barile

772- 288- 4080




Diane Kimes

Diane Kimes built a career as a problem solver, bridge builder and change agent. Diane is the opposite of a career politician and she embodies the path forward towards preserving and protecting Sewall’s Point. Diane has been a resident of Sewall’s Point (SP) since 1994 and a life-long resident of South Florida. Kimes resigned from her three-year tenure on the Board of Zoning Adjustment to run for the vacancy on the Commission. Her priorities include:

● Communications in Town operations & construction projects and most importantly to involve residents in strategic planning to shape long-term goals

● Develop and implement strategies for long-term resiliency

● Continue to prioritize public safety and enforce town codes with a watchful eye on taxpayer costs and public expenditures  

● Ensure clean waterways that define our vistas and support initiatives for  homeowners to convert impermeable driveways for greater water storage 

● Encourage tree planting to maintain hammocks, pocket parks and shaded space 

● Secure safe, walkable, bikeable streets and promote traffic calming 

● Create a more adaptive community when considering projects throughout the town that account for the 17% of residents that have a form of impairment-sight, hearing, mobility, or cognition compared to the state average 15% (2020 US Census); 

Diane has a long list of past & current volunteer board affiliations including governance in the sunshine. One of her proudest accomplishments, was being part of a cadre of volunteers creating Friends of High School Lacrosse for Martin County in 2009, a 501c3, introducing lacrosse programs for girls and boys in MC public high schools.

Educated at Florida Atlantic University, with a BBA in General Management, her career spans forty years primarily in university and health system development beginning with Diabetes Research Institute Foundation’s (University of Miami) expansion into Broward and Palm Beach County. Ms. Kimes led several campaigns at Broward Health, Lee Health System, and at Jupiter Medical Center Foundation. Elliott Museum’s Capital Campaign-A Defining Moment.

Kimes is a certified Master Gardener and a member of Stuart Garden Club-Satin Leaf Circle (SP).

Diane and husband Tim raised son Alex (and Scottish terriers) in Sewall’s Point. “I care about the same challenges facing my neighbors, rising liability coverage and property taxes. Progress in our town as evidenced with $15,719,525 awarded in resiliency grants is outstanding! Finding ways for that momentum to continue efficiently is my goal. “Representing the Town is not about having all the answers but knowing how to ask the right questions. I look forward to listening and working to advance the town’s priorities in a fiscally responsible way,” stated Kimes. “I respectfully ask for your vote on March 19.”

Village of Indiantown


The formation of the Parks & Recreation Board (PRAB) was on the agenda.

This is not the first time it was. For over a year, this item has periodically come before the commission. Each time, some obstacle has been in its way that prevented naming the board.

The comp plan requires them to have a PRAB. There is now a master plan for the village’s parks. There may not be the money to implement the plan, but it exists. Council Member Dipaolo wants one more thing to happen before an advisory board is formed and people are appointed.

He wants a fact-finding group to go to different parks departments and find out the type of programs they offer. It isn’t clear whether the members will be on the PRAB or not. Once an official board is formed, the members will be under the sunshine, and public records and meetings laws will apply. I don’t know why this would be different if the members were appointed by the council and they were given instructions to be fact finders.  Aren’t they acting as a public body?


A motion was passed 5-0 to have a fact-finding body. There was nothing in the motion about size or who would appoint the membership. Nothing was said about a deadline to report back to the commission (And, again if the fact-finding group is doing that, aren’t they under sunshine?)

A motion was also made to form a PRAB board which passed 5-0. It seems that the members will be appointed after the fact-finding has found facts.

And that is one of the problems with the method this council uses to approve motions. There are no specifics. Dipaolo’s all encompassing “motion” means what? Or the famous “I make a motion.” The specifics are missing. And I am continuing to be surprised by how Kryzda, Vose, and the clerk does not try to correct this. There is way too much interpretation for staff.

If the council believes that they are going to run sports leagues, they had better get ready to spend. Even Martin County doesn’t run sports. They work with different associations to provide athletic opportunities. Vice-Mayor Perez runs a youth soccer program. She uses village fields, but the program is operated independently.

I would imagine this is what will happen in Indiantown much as it is done now. The village provides the infrastructure, and others use the infrastructure to have the programs.

Dipaolo asked that there be an affordable housing workshop. He stated that he had a company from down south interested in building 2-bedroom homes for $140,000. Unfortunately, the land on which they would have been built was snapped up by someone else which squashed the deal.

Mayor Gibbs-Thomas said it was of universal concern. 50% of the workforce can’t afford the rent. She would like to have programs quarterly with guests speaking on different topics to educate the public on different housing matters.

Council Member Stone stated he is a G-C and works with developers. He believes it would be impossible to build homes today for $140,000. The cheapest would be $300,00. He thinks they should partner with Habitat for Humanities.


Council Member Hernandez wants to understand who will be at the workshop. Dipaolo said it would be open to the public and builders, developers, and community people would come and discuss. There was a public comment from Rob Ranieri, CEO of House of Hope, regarding his group and the Martin County Community Land Trust that was formed. Everyone will come together seems .

Taryn Kryzda has been the interim manager for a year. There was an agenda item regarding her evaluation. She put it on there because, in the past, the council had evaluated its past manager in January. Kryzda felt that she is evaluated every two weeks when there is a meeting, and there was no need to go further.

Dipaolo wants to make her permanent and give her a contract like the last manager’s. He made a motion to that effect that was seconded by Perez. Attorney Vose will draw up a contract and present it for approval. Then it will go to Kryzda.


After much discussion the council decided not to evaluate Kryzda this year. Instead, they will wait until next since she will then have a contract that calls for such an evaluation.

Mayor Susan Gibbs-Thomas has decided to run for County Commission in District 3. The seat is presently occupied by Harold Jenkins. Jenkins has not yet announced whether or not he is running again.  


Sedron Technologies


Sedron Technologies is a company that takes the sludge from wastewater plants and converts it to products such as fuel for high temperature kilns or fertilizer that contain no phosphorus or nitrogen.


One such plant will be in Indiantown. And once up and running will take Indiantown’s byproducts and other wastewater facilities in Florida. This will be a win for the environment, the different municipalities that can truck their waste there, and Indiantown.


Below is a memo from the village manager, Taryn Kryzda, that is about her visit and what she and staff witnessed at the company’s headquarters in Washington state.

Staff (Pat Nolan and Taryn Kryzda) were invited by Sedron Technologies to perform a site visit of their Septage Receiving Facility located in Selma Washington. The site visit was key for staff and provided the opportunity to better understand what impacts the facility has on the surrounding neighborhoods and the environment, given the plant is located next to a wetland and close to a retirement community and other neighborhoods.

The operation and processing of material is completely contained within the facility. There were no visible impacts to the surrounding community and environment. Due to the location next to a wetland, the site required additional aproning to ensure, should any spill of any sort happen, containment would be 100% on site. The process of the septage (sludge) in very simple terms, is taking the raw material that is the by-product of a wastewater treatment system, pumping it into a large cylinder which has large metal disks that are heated to very high temperatures, and as the disks rotate, the material adheres to the disks, and the high-heat within the disk causes the moisture in the sludge to evaporate, and the remaining dried material is then scraped off and placed onto a conveyor belt to continue the drying process and ultimately is disposed into a container for final processing. The processed material has no smell, and the consistency is similar to peat moss. This by-product can be further processed into pellets that are used for concrete high-energy kilns or is a spreadable fertilizer that does not contain any phosphorus or nitrogen. The process also eliminates any Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctyl Sulfonate (PFOS) and other Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs). This is important as these chemicals are a group of manufactured chemicals that have been used since the 1940s and have become highly regulated by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Sedron Technologies is a subsidiary of Janicki Industries. Janicki Industries began in 1993 with machine design and development. Over the decades, Janicki Industries has ventured into technology areas of composite metal and tooling for aerospace parts to companies such as Boeing and Orion. Their development of carbon fiber composite material is part of aerospace and military operations. These additional operations of Janicki Industries are important to note as the company has been so diversified, with their more recent venture of waste processing and waste-to-energy being the branch of Sedron Technologies. This venture was initially part of a grant funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recognizing alternative methods for treating waste and providing water to remote areas in Africa.

The septage processing facility planned for the Village will have the benefit of the latest technologies that have been developed and ‘lessons learned’ from the existing plant in Selma. Sedron Technologies has been in contact with surrounding communities to solicit their intent to provide their sludge to Indiantown for processing. In addition to sludge from wastewater treatment plants, there will be a receiving area for businesses that pump out septic tanks. Septic tank material is different than wastewater sewer plants but can be treated in the same manner at the Sedron plant.

The site visit, although brief, was an opportunity for staff to better understand what the Sedron Technology treatment facility for the Village will emulate. Councilman Carmine Dipaolo was also on Monday’s site tour and having arrived a day earlier, was provided the opportunity for other site visits on his own volition. Also in attendance on Monday’s tour was Mr. Kevin Powers. Staff are excited about the opportunity the Village will have with the Sedron Technology partnership. This opportunity for the Village will introduce state-of-the-art technology, enhance operations for the disposal of septage and sludge, and will have a positive impact on Village residents and businesses and the environment.

The Village has been working with Sedron Technologies on a site location for their facility in Indiantown to be located on vacant property at the Village’s wastewater treatment facility property. The Village’s wastewater treatment facility was acquired when the Village bought the water and wastewater facilities from Indiantown Company, Inc. in 2020. The Village applied for, and received, funding from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) State Revolving Fund (SRF) loan program. The wastewater treatment facility SRF loan was $5.6 million with an 80% forgiveness and 0.0% annual interest rate. To allow Sedron Technologies to lease a portion, 4 acres on a total of 29.1 acres of property, an amendment to the SRF loan agreement is necessary. That amendment will be presented to the Council for approval on January 25, 2024.

The council did approve the amendment to the SRF loan on January 25th.

Town of Ocean Breeze

I was unable to attend the January 8th Ocean Breeze Council meeting. However, I did receive a copy of the unofficial minutes that have not yet been approved by the council. They reflect a council trying to be a municipality.

Originally, Ocean Breeze was a trailer park owned lock, stock, and barrel by the Hoke family. In 1960, the family convinced Tallahassee to incorporate the trailer park as its own municipality to avoid being controlled by the county government. In fact, the first three mayors were named Hoke and the fourth, Dorothy Geeben, a long-time park resident, was elected at 92 and served until her death in 2010 at almost 102.

Once the trailer park was sold to Sun Communities after the residents could not find the wherewithal to buy it themselves, it became a different place. The mobile homes were changed for more substantial dwellings. The Publix shopping center was built and finally Sea Walk became a reality.

The town’s center of gravity now looks to be more and more the Sea Walk community. This can be seen by the council’s make-up of five members from there and one council member plus the mayor from the Sun resort area. The one thing to remember about Ocean Breeze is that it has no infrastructure...not a road, a park, waterworks, or a piece of real estate. Even the town offices are in Jensen Beach.

If it doesn’t own anything, then why does it still exist? Maybe out of habit but probably because both Sea Walk and the resort have many unresolved outstanding issues from their build-out. The town has yet to give clean bills of health to either development.

Until those issues are resolved, the town can’t unincorporate. The property owners will continue to pay taxes to fund the town government. Most of the expense is to conform to the mandates of the state, and the state hardly ever distinguishes their laws and edicts between a small town and a big city. This results in things that are very necessary for Stuart but hardly needed here.

As you can see from the unofficial minutes here https://acrobat.adobe.com/id/urn:aaid:sc:US:924c9603-b7d4-49b1-806d-315ea279bb8f

there is still not clarity in residents’ minds about what is the town’s responsibilities, what is the resort’s and homeowners’ association’s responsibilities, and what are the individual owners’ responsibilities when confronting the outstanding items with Sun Communities and D.R. Horton.

The town’s officials, led by Terry O’Neil, are leading a valiant effort to move the process forward yet at the same time making sure that the town doesn’t overstep its authority. Town government is not a tenant or homeowner body but a government agency. It especially cannot be too involved in individual warranty issues.

Once these are cleared up within the next few years, don’t be surprised to see a movement afoot to unincorporate. Unless somehow, Ocean Breeze can convince Jensen Beach to be annexed into the town, it would make little sense to remain an independent municipality that provides no services except the prestige of being its own town.

Final Thoughts

As a kid, I remember watching a television series titled “The Millionaire.”

The premise of the show was that each week John Beresford-Tipton, the benefactor, would hand a cashier’s check to Michael Anthony, his personal secretary, and instruct him to give the money to someone John had selected. The money was tax free since I guess John had already paid Uncle Sam on the recipient’s behalf.

The median salary in 1955, the year the show premiered, was $3400 a year for a man and $1100 for a woman. A home cost just over $18,000 and a new Chevrolet 4-door wagon was $2350. That is when a million dollars meant something.


A favorite expression and compliment from my Italian grandmother were that some person was a millionaire. She said it in awe and longing for a status she would never possess. In her 80’s, I took her to Pittston, Pennsylvania where she grew up. We saw the church where she married my grandfather and the house her mother owned.

We made several stops around town to visit relatives. We stopped at Grandma’s cousin’s and were immediately welcomed in to have dinner with her family in the back yard. As we drove home that evening, all my grandmother could say was how Laura was a millionaire because of the dress factory she owned.

Even in the mid-1980s, being a millionaire still had status for many working-class people. In New York, you could still buy a home for $100,000 though that was fast becoming a thing of the past. Rents were still affordable even in the better parts of town.

I guess if Beresford-Tipton was still giving out money, he would need to be doing so with at least eight figures and not seven. Being a millionaire isn’t what it used to be. Sometimes it doesn’t even buy you a house. 

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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: thomasfcampenni@gmail.com


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