March 17, 2024

Friends & Neighbors Edition

In This Edition

The legislative session is over and local control was not dinged as much as it looked like it would be at the beginning of the session.

For our legislative delegation however, it must be hard to represent Martin County and then do so for people in either St. Lucie and/or Palm Beach Counties. There is a great difference in what Martin County professes to want and what the other two counties do. That is especially true when it comes to the difference in our approach to growth.

At times it may seem that our state delegation proposes or vote for things that are not what we in Martin may want but their constituents in St. Lucie and Palm Beach do. I am sure that when they champion a Martin initiative the same feelings occur to the north and south of us.

In this edition we report on the Innovation Hub and what it can mean to the county. The official announcement that Brightline is coming to Stuart is contained here and why there is still work to be done between the parties. There is also a push to bring affordable housing to Stuart in its very early stages.

Sheriff Snyder will not be running for re-election and there is an article relating to that. Also, Pal Mar is still ungovernable and dangerous. Commissioner Heard seems to finally be fed up with it. I hope she will be able to bring some rational sanity to the place.

Dr. Libman in her column graphically writes about the return of measles. Unless you are now a senior you may not remember what it was like to have that disease or Rubella, mumps, or chicken pox. Having been a child that had each I can tell you that it wasn’t a walk in the park. I was in bed for over a month with the mumps.

Remember we are still looking for columnists, so if interested let me know. This publication would not be what it is if we didn’t have numerous community writers.

Make sure your friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and even enemies are signed up to receive their copy of Friends & Neighbors. Have a good Sunday Morning.

Remembrance of Cherbourg

From 1971 until the end of 2021, I would have been considered a full-time participant in the labor force. I began working in 1967 but that was part time while attending school.

Like many Americans of my age, the people who do manual labor has changed. My first job, where they expected me to show up on time, was as a dishwasher, the bottom rung of employment in a professional kitchen. My colleague was a recent immigrant from Armenia which was then part of the Soviet Union.

I was a kid who shaved twice a week barely and here was this middle-aged man doing the same job. He had been in the gulag and somehow ended up here. He spoke some French and I had a few vocabulary words and expressions in the language. That was enough to holler over the din of a busy kitchen.

Every now and then, the little musical combo in the dining room would call Mikayel to sing a set. He was introduced as the Armenian Charles Aznavour and then he would appear on the bandstand in his kitchen “whites” wearing a new apron for the occasion.

He would sing in Armenian, French, and Russian. Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) was a movie that had recently been released. The very beautiful song from the movie, “I Will Wait for You” by Michele Legrand, was very popular. That was always on the card.

French Movie Poster

At the conclusion, Mikayel would quickly go around to the tables while using his clean apron outstretched in his hands to collect tips from his admirers. He would then go back to his station and resume his duties with me as a “plongeur” (dishwasher) as he would say. This went on for the few months that he and I worked together on weekends.

The restaurant cuisine was known as continental. It was a “Frenchified” steak and seafood house. Strip steaks, filet mignon, lobster tails, and sole were the staples. Every table had fresh bread and butter, celery, olives, and Chow-Chow relish.

I was promoted (no pay increase) after a few months to help the “garde de manger.” That is the person who prepares salads, cold appetizers, and the specialty of this house, a Crème de Menthe Parfait. I can still see in my mind the kitchen layout and where the stations were.

In my new capacity, I would have to work all Saturday night after the dinner service to prepare for the Sunday Buffet. I learned to make all types of aspics such as “Chicken in Aspic” or “Eggs in Aspic.” There were always at least two tables of cold style salads. Gefilte Fish as well as Chopped Chicken Livers with Smaltz (rendered chicken fat) was on the buffet. Our clientele was overwhelmingly Jewish.

After a while, I moved on to other kitchens, learning new skills. I tried my hand in the front of the house but preferred the creativity and the pressure of being in the kitchen. I would feel great satisfaction at having just created a wonderful experience for the customer when service was completed. There is no explaining it.

I continued in food service...working in everything from diners to dives and fine dining establishments to catering halls until I was established in real estate a decade later. Of course, I could never have been as financially successful in the food business as my ultimate career. And by transitioning to a real estate career, I was able to carry on until a relatively old age at work. Something I could never do in a professional kitchen.

Yet even today when I cook, I feel like an artist (a mediocre one) creating a pleasurable experience for me and anyone else at our table. My satisfaction at being with food goes all the way back to being a plongeur in 1967.

Great Complainer

I was reading that great source of misinformation, Next Door.

It is wonderful that the website was able to provide a home to so many people who want to give their opinions on something they know nothing about. I am not against people speaking out about issues, but most of what you hear is so uninformed that it perpetuates a mistrust of government. And for the most part the participants are happy to stay ignorant.

Most of us are from somewhere else. And many are unfamiliar with the way we are governed on a state and local level in Florida. It takes time and the desire to become better informed to understand which government is responsible for what.

But I am surprised to read the posts of people who don’t even know where they live. By that I mean they believe that they live in Stuart though they actually reside in unincorporated Martin County. Some keep commenting that all the building that is happening is causing our public schools to be overflowing. However, the school district just opened every school to allow any student to go to any school even from outside the district because there was surplus availability.

The best, though, is the belief that the county can stop a property owner from developing their land. Some suggest that the land should not be rezoned to allow building. They are hoping by inaction the land will remain undeveloped. Unfortunately, that is not how it works. There are property rights and mechanisms that must be followed to allow for rezoning.

Here is my advice to all those Next Door readers. Learn where you live. Learn who governs you and then become informed about the process of how you are governed. No matter what your point of view, attend a commission meeting. Join a civic organization and become a knowledgeable voter. Then your opinions and comments will be informed.

St Patrick's Day

It seems you don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. And I like how easy it is to think you share that heritage on March 17th.

It is too bad that we haven’t found a way to celebrate other cultures as widely. There is nothing authentic about the corned beef that I relish. I like it so much that I cook the “Irish” meal of corn beef, potatoes, cabbage, and carrots several times a year.

Until recently, Columbus Day was supposed to be that cultural touchstone for Italians. Yet I never felt any specific Italian heritage on October 12th. Perhaps that was because history showed it was tied up with Spanish monarchs, and can we really say that Christopher Columbus discovered America? And never mind Columbus’ genocide of Native Americans.

I had an office on West 46th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues from 1973 to the end of 2021 when I retired. Every year, that block was one of the streets where bands and marchers lined up to join the St Patrick’s Day Parade. I simply hated how my workday was disrupted. And because of the noise, it was no day for anything but the most routine work. For many years, I would work from another office or use the day to visit properties I managed outside of Manhattan. For the last twenty years I was able to not go anywhere near the block.

I guess then I was of two minds about the day. I loved it when I was home but not when I had to endure the kids drinking and becoming sick on the street where I worked. Age has a way of making things more nostalgic and wistful.

Regardless, St. Patrick’s Day has become as American as Thanksgiving. And like Thanksgiving, it has its own special menu. I had my St Patrick’s feast on Saturday because I was flying back to Florida today. All our kids and their families came over for dinner, and I dressed in my Leprechaun suit.

As far as I am concerned, St. Patty’s Day is a day I celebrate now even if it isn’t recognized as an official holiday. Americans have already incorporated Cinco de Mayo into another unofficial celebration. I need to explore Lunar New Year and Diwali and see what I can cook up for those days.

The People Lost

Once again, it seems the special interests have won the day.

The county commission term limits bill that had been heard in committee and voted out favorably died in the morass of the Tallahassee swamp. Lobbyists came out of the woodwork to kill a good government measure. Even though this change would have held county commissioners to the same eight years that school boards and legislators must abide by.

Maybe at one time voters could easily vote the rascals out of office. But just like the special interests in Tallahassee, others on the local level have bought and paid for their commissioner. I don’t believe it is bribery in the traditional way most people think about it. Instead. They receive money for campaigns and help in putting up signs and knocking on doors that most insurgents don’t have.

A mailing will cost $100,000 in a county of our size. Our media is so fractured that we hear over and over the public doesn’t know what is going on. A favorite refrain is, “I never heard about it.”

Term limits would have given a new person an opportunity to be a public servant. Now at least for this year and really for the next two, those who want to see new blood will have to wait.

Fletch's Perspective

Keith Fletcher
Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County, President & CEO

When you’re trying to move up in life, it’s important to put your best foot forward. That’s tough to do when your shoes are in poor shape.

Thanks to several key partners and generous supporters, Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County is expanding on our ability to ensure that local children in need gain the skillsets and the footwear they need to step out in confidence.

It begins with a wonderful national organization called Shoes from Susan. The inspiration traces to Susan Ellen Caruso who grew up during the Great Depression. Despite the difficult times and constant want, her mother encouraged her with this simple reminder: “You are never truly poor if you have a good pair of shoes.”

Growing up, Susan moved to Florida and went on to work as an elementary school teacher serving children with special needs. She later became a social worker and even counseled the children of alcoholic parents. After her death in 2013, her four sons created in her honor this nonprofit dedicated to providing children in need with shoes.

Our friends at the Community Foundation of Martin and St. Lucie Counties connected us with this great organization. A big “thank you” goes out to this incredible organization, which provides invaluable support to area nonprofits.

Today, we’re able to provide 200 BGC members—our largest group yet—with new pairs of shoes. Rather than simply collecting their shoe sizes and presenting them with a box, the incredible BGC staff—always attentive to the sensitivities of such situations and committed to creating fun experiences—arranged to make everything special. Over spring break, they brought members of our Indiantown, Port Salerno, Hobe Sound and Palm City clubs to Rack Room Shoes in Stuart and turned everything into a shopping trip.  

It's a widely accepted (and to be fair, a widely documented) stereotype that women love shoes. But it’s also pretty much true of everyone. Countless male friends and colleagues of mine proudly identify as sneakerheads.

Something about a fresh pair of kicks makes everyone feel good. The opposite might explain why we all dread slipping on those less-than-fresh bowling alley shoes. (Although currently wearing a “boot” after an ankle injury, I’m a little envious of those right now; at least they match.)

This universal sense of satisfaction is reflected in feedback gathered from children enduring tough financial circumstances; they share that the highest degree of self-consciousness they feel comes from the condition of their shoes.

BGC invests into every aspect of our members—starting first by encouraging their sense of self-worth. Our emphasis on academics, good citizenship, and nutrition and healthy lifestyles further increases their knowledge, confidence and ability to focus. Our litany of culinary, technology, trades and entrepreneurial training further equips them to overcome the challenging environments most know all too well and enter the work force with competitive, in-demand skills.

Sometimes, you get the lift you need from something as simple as a new pair of shoes. They’re perfect for staying grounded, going in the right direction, and jumping over any obstacles that arise on their road to success.

Keitch Fletcher's opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

VanRiper's Views

Darlene VanRiper

One man’s dream is coming true…with the help of his friends.  I vividly remember when Ted Astolfi, CEO of the Martin County Economic Council, attended a Hobe Sound Government Action Committee meeting about a year ago.  I recall that he was uber enthusiastic.  He had a plan.  Ted wanted to create a vocational learning facility in Martin County.

No epiphany.  Most people know Martin County is sorely lacking in vocational training facilities.  Now that parents are realizing that not every kid is meant for college; now that the trades are screaming for trained employees; now that people are feeling the consequences of the lack of those services; now that students are realizing they can make good money (really good money) with a vocational skill; and now that they realize they don’t want to be shackled with exorbitant student loan debt right at the  beginning of their working careers, the retort to the stigma attached to lacking a degree has become “No, I was too smart to attend college”. 

So, Ted contacted IRSC and George Stokus (Asst. County Administrator) and a plan was hatched.  Ted had identified an old building at the Stuart airport which the County will donate.  Indian River State College agreed to pitch in by teaching the courses which will not only certify students in certain trades, but offer a pathway to a higher degree if necessary.  (For example, some types of pilots have to have a BA as well as a certificate.)

The typical student at this facility would be an adult who is, as Ted describes, “underemployed”.    Maybe working at a fast-food restaurant when, with proper training, they could be working at a manufacturing facility.  The hours they would attend classes will correspond with their needs so they can keep their current jobs.  Aviation industry specific English will be taught to help them land jobs in the aviation industry. 

How will the facility find the students?  With the help of House of Hope and United Way.  Two Martin County organizations happy to help. 

This will be the first facility of its kind in Martin County.  It will certainly be a valuable asset to all of us directly or indirectly.  The icing on the cake…it will be funded by federal grants.  No county taxes will be used.   REACH as it is called (Reimagine Education and Career Heip) will start with 60-90 students.   I bet it will grow rapidly.  Since the building is existing, only interior renovation and a new roof stand in the way of the opening.  (I do hope they paint the exterior…just a suggestion.) Ted thinks by the end of this year they could cut the ribbon!

IRSC will determine which certificates will be offered.  Area businesses are currently being interviewed to determine pragmatic need. 

I just can’t find a downside to this.  Local organizations helping local young adults to lift themselves up or “upskill” as Ted describes it, to enhance the work force of local businesses.  So, they will be locally employed and as Ted pointed out ‘They will eventually move out of the scarce housing that is affordable and make way for others who need it.’  A welcome unintended consequence.

This effort just makes me proud to be a Martin County resident and I wish all involved God’s speed!

Darlene VanRiper’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors nor the Martin County Taxpayers Association's viewpoint.

Hafner's Corner

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

Have you seen the blue “UF/IFAS Extension Martin County” sign in Stuart and wondered what does that mean and what does it do? It’s one of the most useful services available to our community and I am going to tell you about it.

UF/IFAS stands for University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Within UF/IFAS there are three divisions: teaching, research, and extension. “Extension provides non-formal education and learning activities to people throughout the country- to farmers and other residents of rural communities as well as to people living in urban areas. It emphasizes taking knowledge gained through research and education and bringing it directly to the people to create positive changes” -USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Research from the University of Florida is delivered directly into our community through the Extension Office. Each county has an extension office, and each office offers different programs that fit the needs of the community. In the UF/IFAS Extension Martin County office, we have agent led programming in the areas of urban horticulture, commercial horticulture, 4-H Youth Development, Sea Grant, Master Gardeners, and family, youth, and community sciences.

I am the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Martin County 4-H Youth Development Program Agent. You can just call me a 4-H Agent.

Because our programming is funded through the University of Florida- a public university- our programming is offered at low to no cost. You can learn more about the programs we offer here:

Some may know our programming as Cooperative Extension. It gets that name from the fact that the programming is offered through a cooperative agreement between the University of Florida and Martin County. We also have a cooperative agreement to offer programming with the City of Stuart.

These agreements help us reach deeper into the community to provide our services. For example, through the agreement with Martin County, the 4-H Youth Development Program has the opportunity to teach S.T.E.M. and nutrition regularly to the attendees of Martin County Parks and Recreation’s After-School Programs.

The explanation I gave on how extension works is specific to Martin County, but extension programming is offered nationwide through each state’s land-grant universities and into the communities similarly to how it’s done here. Some states have more than one land-grant university offering extension services. In Florida we have University of Florida (UF) and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU).

The most important thing I want you to take away from this column is there is a resource available to you and I want you to take advantage of what we are offering. Stop by or give us a call to find out more. We are located at 2614 SE Dixie Highway, Stuart, FL 34996 and you can call us at 772-288-5654.

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

Carl's Conclusions

Carl Frost
Kai Kai Farms, Owner

The 2024 FDACS Florida Farm to School Conference at Orlando’s Renaissance Sea World convention center was attended by dozens of state government employees, some farmers, and many teachers.

Given the title the topic seemed simple enough: feed school children fresh Florida grown produce and protein. Wilton Simpson, the current Commissioner of Agriculture, in his kickoff speech made it clear that this conference was more than just feeding our children, it was about food security within our state. He cited the fact that our food system is designed to be just-in-time and there is minimal resiliency baked in. Simpson advocated for more local food resources and what better way to nurture this goal than by encouraging the school districts to engage with more local farmers. Furthermore, our children should be encouraged to learn the basics of growing food plants. The obvious connection to science and technology is obvious; and hands on stuff is great for our kids; they will feel engaged.

I cannot help but be reminded that not too many years ago GLOBALIZATION was the trend and then we started seeing food from Central and South America in our grocery stores. Our leaders are reconsidering that agenda, its dependencies, and vulnerabilities. Farmers are aging, farmland is disappearing under asphalt, concrete, solar panels, and water storage reservoirs.

The trend is worrisome. Simpson cited the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program as a tool for farmland preservation. And there are others such as the NRCS Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. These are a fine example of land reserves but without farmers all we get are wildlife habitats. Hence Farm-to-School. Build a more resilient local food system and introduce children to where their food comes from.

The conference synopsis cited three key elements to build a better food system:

  1. School Gardens
  2. Agricultural Education
  3. Procurement

I have been serving on the Indiantown Green Market formation committee and I have been advocating a FOOD HUB model to serve Martin and our neighboring counties. At the conference I suggested a statewide food hub network as an alternative or complement to school commissaries and food pantries. The response was encouraging.

Food hubs can reduce duplication in our food system. Consider that each county has one or more food pantries and school commissaries. With some consolidation efficiencies will be realized. Farmers could use food hub facilities for processing, storing, and selling produce. The coordination of moving food could benefit.

Wilton Simpson and the FDACS organization should be applauded and supported in this mission to serve fresh, nutritious locally grown food to school children.

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

Humane Society of the Treasure Coast

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

All About Heartworm Disease

Did you know that dogs, cats, and even ferrets can get heartworms? According to our Lead Shelter Veterinarian, Dr. Erin Arruda, heartworms are transmitted through mosquitos and are a serious concern for pet owners, especially in Florida, where mosquitos thrive. Luckily, they cannot be transmitted directly from animal to animal. In Florida, about 50% of dogs and about 5% of cats not on prevention will get heartworms. This is why monthly heartworm prevention is crucial for our pets.

Heartworm is exactly what it sounds like – worms in the heart. Heartworm larvae are deposited into ALL animals the mosquito bites. Yes, this includes humans! But animals have different natural immunities to things, which is why not all animals actually get the disease. Heartworm disease is extremely rare in humans because we’re naturally immune, but it has happened! Cats are 10 times more immune than dogs and ferrets which is why cats aren’t infested as frequently. Dogs are the natural host, and ferrets are just as susceptible as dogs.


The worms live in the pulmonary artery and chambers of the heart (in the bloodstream). They block blood flow through the arteries and heart, and also damage the heart valves that the worms keep from closing properly. The presence of heartworms in the body eventually causes “heartworm disease” which is also associated with inflammation in the body, mostly affecting the heart, the lungs, and the kidneys.

Keeping your pets safe from this potentially fatal disease requires staying up to date with vet appointments and preventative measures. Dr. Arruda shares that heartworm SNAP tests are testing for the presence of adult worms (adult, female, and pregnant worms). It takes 6 months from exposure for larva to develop into adult worms, which is why heartworm tests are not done before 6 months of age. We heartworm test all adoptable dogs at the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast and treat them at no cost to the new owner if the test is positive.

All dogs, cats, and ferrets in Florida should be on year-round heartworm prevention… Even if they’re “indoor-only,” since only one mosquito in the house could be enough to infest an animal. There’s many low-cost vet clinics in the area that we recommend for services. You can view all of our recommendations and partners on our website at And if you haven’t done so already, I would highly recommend looking into getting pet insurance for your furry companion. Pet insurance can help save you money and also give you some relief for any unforeseen pet emergencies. 

Every dog and cat at the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast gets monthly heartworm prevention, along with being spayed or neutered, dewormed, vaccinated, and microchipped. Our pets are vetted by our amazing veterinary staff, proudly led by Dr. Erin Arruda, so that they can have their best paw forward towards their forever homes.

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

Hope in Our Community

Rob Ranieri
House of Hope, CEO

It’s gleaning season at House of Hope. Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers' fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it may not be economically viable for the farmer to harvest. The term has biblical origins, and House of Hope is proud and grateful to partner with CROS Ministries every season from February through May. Several commercial farms across the Treasure Coast and Palm Beach County provide access for our volunteers to harvest large quantities of vegetables on most Saturday mornings during the season. It is a meaningful way for individuals, families and groups to have a tremendous impact on hunger and health in the region. For more information or to sign up for a session visit us at

Martin County 4-H Club 

Fresh, healthy produce is vital to the success of our pantry program and the success of our many food partners, such as local soup kitchens, after school programs, and other agencies across Martin, St Lucie and Okeechobee Counties. Last year we distributed 1.3 million pounds of food, with almost 500,000 pounds being fresh produce. Nearly 100,000 pounds of that produce came from gleaning. Our produce is distributed to those in need through our four client choice food pantries, shared with our partner agencies, used in the meals we produce for our neighbors experiencing homelessness, and is integral in our nutrition education program and cooking classes. To follow the path of our produce from our farm to our programs, you may view our Farm to Table to Future video at

This season, all of our produce that we glean, grow, or receive unpackaged through partners and donations will go through our new packing center that is part of Growing Hope Farm, our production farm based in Palm City. We have also just added our fourth greenhouse to the farm, giving us approximately 92,000 cubic feet of hydroponic greenhouse growing space to go along with our in-ground growing and our grove of fruit trees.

Volunteer Beth Galt-Salsamendi  

House of Hope continues to work hard to empower residents to overcome hunger and hardship.  But we could not do this work alone. We are grateful to our partners, donors and volunteers who bring their time, talent and treasure to our mission every day. Your support helps us to reach nearly 8,000 people directly each month with our programs and services, and over 13,000 more through our food partners. To learn more about how to support our mission or to access services, please visit us at


Rob Ranieri’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Michele's Medical Moment

Michelle Libman, M.D.
Treasure Coast Urgent Care, Physician

If you have been reading the headlines lately you probably saw that there is a measles outbreak down in Weston, Florida.   These cases occurred in elementary school aged children, but Orlando Health reported seeing 4 cases of measles in adults in the month of February.  So, what do we need to know about measles?

Believe it or not, measles was declared eradicated in the year 2000 but due to parents choosing not to vaccinate their children, and immunity from prior vaccines wearing off we started seeing an uptick in cases.  The thing about measles that is so alarming is how contagious it is.  It is an airborne virus that spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes.  It is so contagious that if just one person has it, 9 out of 10 people around that person will also get infected.


The first symptoms of measles are usually a hacking cough, runny nose, high fever, and red eyes.   A sign that is pathognomonic for measles are Koplik spots... these are small red spots with white centers that are seen inside the mouth. 

About 3-5 days after symptoms start a rash will appear.  The rash is usually accompanied by a high fever. The rash is red or reddish brown which usually begins as flat spots on the forehead and then spreads to the rest of the face, down the neck to the torso, arms, legs, and feet.  The fever and rash go away after a few days. 


People with measles can spread the disease as early as 4 days before the rash appears.  They are most contagious when they have a runny nose, fever, and cough.  If you have been exposed to the virus the incubation period is quite long and you usually won’t show symptoms until 7-14 days later.  This is why it is recommended that unvaccinated children should stay home from school for 21 days after an exposure, however the surgeon general of Florida sent out a letter to the parents at the school with an outbreak telling them it was their decision if they wanted to keep their child home.  

Measles can have serious health complications.  About 1 in 5 people who get measles will be hospitalized.  1 out of 1000 people will develop brain swelling (encephalitis) which could lead to brain damage and 1 to 3 people out of 1000 will die even with the best care.   People at high risk for complications include infants and children aged 5 years or below, adults over the age of 20, pregnant women, and people who have a compromised immune system such as those with HIV or cancer. Before we had a vaccine 3 to 4 million people were infected each year, with 48,000 being hospitalized, 400 to 500 people died, and 1000 developed encephalitis (swelling of the brain). 

If you have been exposed to measles there are ways to lower the risk of disease.  You can get the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine within 72 hours of measles of exposure or get immunoglobulin within six days of exposure but do not do both as the immunoglobulin will invalidate the vaccine. 

There is no specific anti-viral therapy for measles.  There is only supportive care (fever control, fluids, etc....). Never give aspirin to a child or teen who has a viral illness as this can cause Reye Syndrome which affects the brain and the liver which can be life threatening.  If someone ends up in the hospital, they are treated with high dose Vitamin A.  Vitamin A has been found to reduce the effects of the measles infection an helps prevent secondary infections. 


The best way to prevent getting measles in the first place is to be vaccinated against it.  The vaccine is recommended for everyone born after 1956 who has not previously had measles.  All children should get two doses of the MMR vaccine at least 28 days apart with the first dose at 12 thru 15 months of age and the second dose at ages 4 through 6. 

Michele Libman’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Martin County Real Estate

John Gonzalez
Engel & Volkers, Managing Broker

Neighborhoods are so important when choosing your new home and I love our full palate of choices. If we want a gated community (with or without golf), no HOA, land for a horse or a small farm you must look at beautiful Palm City.

I was the President of the Palm City Chamber of Commerce back before we had two bridges and the beautiful new Mapp Road corridor. Many newer residents and shoppers do not realize Palm City is not really a city. It is simply a geographical zip code in an unincorporated region of Martin County. A discussion to form Palm City into its own township with a governing body has been discussed many times. Usually, the answer is “no” - we are just fine the way we are - Martin County Sheriff, Firefighters and government are keeping residents safe and secure.

Palm City began in the late 1880s but real development began in 1912 when Charles Chillingsworth bought over 12,000 acres which would become the diverse Palm City. An offer of land and a house brought the very first wave of northern buyers to the Treasure Coast for fresh air, temperate climate, good soil and great fishing. In 1977 things really changed for Palm City. Peter Cummings bought land that would ultimately become Martin Downs and include some of the best-known neighborhoods and golf courses. John Dodge followed with Harbor Ridge and Pipers Landing.

Today’s Palm City includes homes for every family or empty nester. Palm City residents have a demographic that includes first time home buyers with a small starter home to billionaires with a waterfront mansion in a gated, amenity rich, community. I lived in Palm City for nearly 18 years and enjoyed its lifestyle and its convenience to I-95 and the Turnpike.

Being a foodie - Palm City has changed drastically over my life in Martin County. It seemed like there were only three restaurants - M & M Deli (now Reubens), Palm City Grill and Tony’s Italian Restaurant. Today, some of Martin County's best restaurants are in Palm City. Ristorante Claretta may be the best restaurant in South Florida and serves homemade pasta, fresh seafood, and succulent veal with great service. Manero’s, perfectly operated by Jay Mahoney, has been a Palm City standard since locating here from Palm Beach in the1990s. Give me a Gorgonzola salad and a French Dip and I am in heaven. Palm City Social has recently arrived and is owned by the same family that owns The Gafford in downtown Stuart. Today, Palm City has every cuisine and price point for its hungry residents.

When looking to relocate in Martin County - Palm City has great schools, restaurants, amenities, parks and, most importantly, its people. Remember - work with a real estate professional when shopping for or selling a home.

John Gonzalez’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Palm City Highlights

Missi Campbell
Palm City Chamber of Commerce, Executive Director

Palm City has a lot to celebrate, including at least one major milestone and several upcoming community events.

Love the outdoors? Get ready for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Ripple—the only stormwater eco-art project in the county. A beautiful, educational, and environmentally sustainable destination in the Old Palm City Community Redevelopment Area, Ripple’s name reminds us of the power of water and that a single drop can become a river.

The event includes tours of native landscapes and lessons about the journey of water in route to reaching our rivers and waterways. Things get started at 10 a.m. March 29 and parking is available at Charlie Leighton Park.

We’re welcoming the newest addition to Mapp Road—the Patio at Palm City Place. This facility will include a pavilion, concrete game tables, and beautifully up-lit palm trees surrounded by pavers. The property has a lovely walking path around the gorgeous stormwater treatment area, complete with a fishing pier and fountain. The grand opening is set for early May so stay tuned to the Palm City Chamber and Martin County Facebook pages for more information.

There’s a lot of anticipation and curiosity about Newfield—the incoming Palm City community envisioned by renowned financial journalist Knight Kiplinger and being constructed by Mattamy Homes.

A few months ago, I had the privilege of getting a sneak peek at the trails Mattamy is creating at Newfield. Those trails—protected thanks to the Kiplinger Conservatory—have hosted limited community events but are getting closer to an official public opening.

Martin County Commissioners recently voted 5-0 in support of Mattamy’s Newfield Parks Master Plan, which will protect and conserve more than 2,000 acres in perpetuity. The trail network, which will stretch more than 50 miles, will be open to hikers, bikers and horseback riders. Best of all, it’s available for the public to enjoy, but privately maintained. Shout outs to our chamber board members Peter Sicoli, incoming president, and Meghan Shirey, who spoke in support.

This is an exciting milestone in the making. We’ll keep you posted when the ribbon-cutting date is announced.

Finally, and also at Newfield, children in the Go Green Club at Citrus Grove Elementary reminded us why protecting our environment matters so much.

A recent event at the Kiplinger Conservancy in honor of Arbor Day—which had been delayed due to rain—featured David Hafter of 4H leading the kids in planting pine trees. There were poem readings by the club leaders and comments by Commissioner Ed Ciampi, Jen Russell, chair of the Martin County School Board, and Karl Albertson, Jr. of Mattamy.

Karl quoted an old newspaper article about an Arbor Day ceremony at Jensen Beach Elementary in 1974. Then Principal John Clyde said, “We want our kids to know what green space 20 years is from now.”

It’s wonderful to see our community still coming together to uphold this goal for current and future generations to enjoy.

Missi Campbell’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Fishing Tips

Paul Sperco

Here it is the tenth of March and the official start of our Springtime Pompano Run on the beach.

Daylight Savings time always kicks off the mind set of all of us that fish the surf and the anticipation of the best pompano fishing of the year. Pompano, like many other species of fish migrate up and down our coast every year and their spring migration to the north always gives us the biggest body of these silver bullets.

March and April are traditionally the months where recreational and commercial anglers post the best catch numbers of the year. The large amount of sandfleas are still showing on many of our beaches which is another reason the spring bite should be a good one. The one factor that has hurt our catch rate continues to be dirty or off colored water which we have been dealing with since October.

The steady easterly swell from offshore has kept our waters murky and is probably the biggest reason we are not catching the pompano, whiting, croaker, bluefish, ladyfish, and permit on a daily basis. When we do get a window, the fish show up but unfortunately Mother Nature shuts the window quickly and turns off the action.

We had a few days of great weather a couple of weeks ago and I was lucky enough to go out and fish at a local beach with my wife Deb and just fill the cooler with nice pompano. The picture attached to the column this month is the result of that day. Electric Chicken, EZ Flea, and Pink/ Flesh Crab scented Fishbites have been the top producing baits.

A sandflea tipped with one of those baits will certainly provide strikes when you find some clean water. This is time when the beaches in Juno, Jupiter, and Hobe Sound are almost automatic for a good catch when conditions allow. Check the tide table for the area you like to fish and a high tide in the afternoon from 1 to 5 pm will normally be the time to target.

Look for the whiting and croaker to start showing in big numbers in that first trough area from 10 to 15 yards from the beach. A piece of shrimp tipped with a Pink Shrimp Fishbite will catch those tasty fish. Let’s hope we get a break from this murky water and if we do the rods will bend.

Good luck and catch em up.

Paul Sperco’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

On Education

Victoria Defenthaler
Retired Martin County Principal & School Board Member

Last year, the Martin County School District received national attention for book banning.

As I mentioned before, it appeared that a parent of a Martin County student and member of the local chapter of Moms for Liberty made it her mission to ensure certain books were removed from the shelves of all school libraries in Martin County. At the time, 92 books were banned in our school district and there is still not a clear procedure in place to challenge the book removals.

CBS recently aired a segment on “60 Minutes Overtime” about how Beaufort, South Carolina dealt with a similar situation. Residents were asked to read and review all 96 books so 146 community members “read, discussed, deliberated and voted on” whether or not these books should be returned to library shelves. Only five of the books were banned with the remainder returned and, depending on the book, they were returned to middle and/or high school library shelves. It appears that these community members found that the books taught valuable lessons and stories about people of color and the LGBTQ+ community and should not be erased. I do not know if the approach Beaufort used would have worked in Martin County, but I would hope that presented with this more reasonable course of action, adults in our community would have been willing to at least try to work together.

Those against Book Banning

It was an embarrassment to many of us that a few people were able to cause such chaos in our school district. When that happened, people spoke up and attended school board meetings as they realized that a couple of people should not be making decisions for everyone’s children. One person who spoke up was Grace Linn. Her words that “fear is not freedom; fear is not liberty; fear is control” resonated around the country.

Her appearance at our school board meeting went viral.  At 101-years-old, Grace Linn continues to serve as a strong activist in her quest to shed light on and educate others about the threat book banning can have on our democracy. She has highlighted the fact that our freedom to read is protected by the First Amendment, and she is helping people to understand this is an “essential right and duty of our democracy”.

Sheila Nevins, an award-winning former head of HBO’s documentary unit, was inspired by Grace Linn’s presentation to the Martin County School Board and realized the importance of communicating the effect book banning has had on students’ education, marginalized individuals, and communities so she invested time and money to produce the documentary entitled, “The ABCs of Book Banning”.

Grace Linn as well as students from our community and around the country are featured in this film. As IMDb’s review states, the documentary “reveals the voices of the impacted parties of books banned from school districts, inspiring hope for the future through the profound insights of inquisitive youthful minds”.  This film was one of 5 short documentaries nominated for an Oscar this year. I encourage everyone to view the film which is streaming on Paramount Plus

Grace Linn

It is truly heartwarming to hear from the mouths of children what they thought about the book banning efforts. Grace Linn’s advocacy continues to be inspirational. We must remember that each one of us, in our own way, can make a difference for those around us.

Victoria Defenthaler’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

IT Insight

Eric Kiehn
C&W Technologies, Owner & CEO

Making Business Apps Your Friend and Making you Money Part 2

If you read Part 1 you know that I left you hanging on the new “old” stuff that’s waiting for you to implement so let’s dive in.

Along came Microsoft Teams: Wow. Suddenly during the pandemic, everyone learned about Teams. Even Microsoft figured out how important an App this is. Communication and collaboration are key, and this is the platform that brings together chat, video conferencing, file sharing, and project management all in one place. It's an easy and efficient way for business teams to stay connected and work together, internally, and remotely. Add Teams apps and really leverage this product. Most of you already have it as part of your MS 365 package.

SharePoint: Everything is beginning to tie into this App that up until recently only large businesses new about. Think you need a Peer Server. Nope. You need SharePoint. Teams is largely a front end for SharePoint. Migrate your shareable environment to SharePoint which is highly customizable and can be tailored to fit your needs.

Last but not least is Power BI: This little gem of an App can take all that data you collect from accounting, spreadsheets databases, emails and put it together in a dynamic “live” graphic presentation. This is business analytics and visualizations to help you make data-driven decisions. If you aren’t using Power BI, then you should put it on your 2024 list to start. Get a BI “expert” to help you make it work, there are a lot of them out there at reasonable prices.

So, start here, be more productive and drive efficiency to the bottom line. I mentioned earlier I’d give you a little secret about AI. If you use the Apps listed above, Microsoft has a new product called Copilot for MS 365. This is layered AI that will be able to expand on the data you put into the Apps listed. Microsoft is already rolling out, for Free, large parts of Copilot soon baked right into the Operating System! That’s right Microsoft is giving you AI, to a point, without any extra cost.

There is a lot going on in the technology world and more new things every day. It’s been like that for all the years I’ve been doing this, and I don’t think it will stop anytime soon….  Someone asked me do you ever get tired of what you do. My simple answer is no, how can you get tired when every day you wake up to a new challenge, a new way to help make a business more successful, or a new way we can make our lives better. We are doing these things every day and so should you. I’ll have more to come in future articles so stay tuned.

Eric Kiehn’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Legal Corner

Gene Zweben
Founding & Managing Partner at Zweben Law Group

Accident in the Sunshine State? Key Insights on Making a Police Report in Florida

Have you ever been in a car accident and wondered, "Should I call the police?" Dialing 911 ensures that the police come to the scene and document everything. While exchanging information with the other driver might seem more manageable, this can lead to complications later. Trust us; having an official report can make a difference in protecting your rights.

Why You Shouldn't Skip the Police Report

It's common for the other driver to suggest handling things without involving the police. They might be worried about getting a ticket or their insurance premiums going up. You might even feel sympathetic and agree. But, in our experience, this is often a mistake. With a police report, it becomes much easier to prove what happened. And all too often, people change their stories or decide to dispute fault.

The Role of a Police Report in Protecting Your Rights

A police report is your best defense in accurately documenting the accident. This isn't just about recording the damage to your car; it’s about safeguarding your version of events. Florida police officers are trained to collect evidence, take witness statements, and objectively assess the accident. This report can be invaluable, especially if you weren't at fault. It provides clear and official documentation of what happened, which is crucial for any potential legal or insurance claims.

Documenting the Accident Yourself

Documenting the accident yourself is a proactive step that can significantly support your case. Here's a breakdown of why it's important and what it involves:

  • Why Document the Accident?: The scene of an accident can change rapidly. Vehicles are moved, conditions change, and memories fade. Documenting the scene immediately helps preserve crucial evidence.
  • What to Document?  Take clear pictures of all vehicles involved from various angles, showing the damage and their positions on the road. If you or anyone else has visible injuries, photograph them if it's possible and appropriate to do so. Also, note the weather, lighting, and time of day, as these can be relevant to understanding how the accident happened.
  • Witness Information: Collect names, contact details, and, if possible, brief witness statements. Witnesses can provide an independent account of the accident, which can be invaluable in disputes.
  • Personal Notes: Write down your accident account as soon as possible. Include details like the direction you were traveling, the speed, the actions you took to avoid the accident, and any conversations you had with the other parties involved.
  • Supplementing the Police Report: While the police report is a critical document, your documentation can provide additional perspectives and details that the police might have missed or deemed unnecessary at the time.
  • Use in Legal or Insurance Claims: This self-collected evidence can be vital when filing an insurance claim or if the case goes to court. It provides a well-rounded view of the incident and can help establish facts that are in dispute.

How a Police Report Helps Your Injury Claim in Florida

If you pursue a personal injury claim, the police report serves as a cornerstone of your case. It can help establish fault, detail the extent of damages, and provide a narrative of the incident. Remember, in Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is typically two years. A detailed police report can expedite the legal process and strengthen your claim.

Gene Zweben’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Storie Celebrates Water Champions

Storie Magazine was created to celebrate and explore various facets of Martin County’s culture and community.

For example, our "Making a Splash in Martin County" page features local water parks, and our “The Art of Life" page showcases the incredible talent of Martin County artists. Our primary goal has always been to provide enjoyment and insight to our local Martin County audience, whose support we greatly value.

Our recent feature on “The Champions of Clean Water” aimed to honor local advocates for clean water—a topic of significance given Martin County’s diverse lagoon ecosystems.

However, it is important to clarify that our publication never suggested any endorsement from Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, Congressman Brian Mast, Captains for Clear Water, or Riverkidz. A disclaimer at the bottom of the page states their non-involvement with our project. Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch was highlighted out of respect for her role as a former governing board member of the South Florida Water Management District, where she oversaw vital environmental restoration projects.

We also commended her informative blog, which serves to educate a broad audience on environmental preservation efforts statewide. Storie Magazine remains steadfast in its goal of offering insight into the diverse essence of Martin County while maintaining transparency and respect for all individuals and organizations featured within our pages.

Storie Magazine wrote this column at Friends & Neighbors suggestion after our editorial in our last edition. Story Magazines’s opinions are their own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint. 

Not a Game: Daring to be Poor in Martin County

By Pat Austin


This is not a game. That introduction to the House of Hope’s Dare to Care Poverty Simulation turned out to be brutally true.

A cross-section of Martin County residents, me included, had a chance to feel what it is like to live on the edge of poverty for just one morning in March, and we realized immediately that what we experienced wasn’t anything like a game. For many people in our community it’s real life – and a struggle for survival.

Just a few minutes into the simulation, I overheard a woman say, “This isn’t even my life, and I want to cry.” I felt the same.

We were each assigned an identity. I became Ed, a 17 year old who dropped out of high school and lived with his mom and sister. At first I thought this could be fun – I’m far from 17, and I’ve never been a boy. It wasn’t fun.

My “mom” was at her wit’s end because she had only $10 to her name, my “sister” needed $5 for a school trip, and I was mostly useless. We had no transportation to get anywhere and couldn’t get services if we couldn’t figure out how to get transportation to the offices where we could get help. By the end of week 1 in the simulation, we had no food in the house, I was being hassled by the police because I wasn’t in school, and my sister suggested that since I was such a deadbeat anyway, I should just go steal something to help out.

Honestly, as Pat, I would never consider that. As Ed, it started to seem like a good idea.

By week 2, we started to figure out the system. Mom got to the employment office to apply for a job, but it wouldn’t start for a week. We got some food. Then she got sick. She never got to start the job.

I could feel the frustration in the room. These usually confident people were feeling powerless in their new identities. It felt like a catch-22 horror movie. You can’t keep a job because you don’t have transportation. You can’t afford transportation until you have a job and get paid. You can’t leave your kids to get a job because the child care center just closed and you have to stay home with the kids. You thought you had a job, but now they’re not hiring.

My family got evicted. My mom and sister went to a shelter, but I couldn’t go because males over 13 aren’t allowed in any of the existing shelters in Martin County. My girlfriend’s dad reluctantly let me move in with them but told me I had to get a job or get kicked out. I applied for a job but I have no skills or experience, and the application just got pushed to the side.

One woman was distraught. Her “baby” was taken from her because she couldn’t care for the child. She had no income, no way to leave the house to get an income, and she couldn’t decide whether the pain of losing her child or the pain of not being able to care for her child caused greater pain. This was a simulation, remember, but we all felt the injustice of it all.

Bad things happened unexpectedly. Even family units that seemed as though they were pulling it together were falling apart because of illness, housing problems that they couldn’t afford to fix, utilities being cut off. And then the worst of all - someone in our little community was trying to scam us! Mistrust was growing,

Also anger. Who were these people at the service desks around the room who were determining our fate, closing the door just when we finally got transportation to the office or telling us that we didn’t qualify because we didn’t have certain pieces of required paperwork? Common refrains were: “You can’t do that!” and “How can they do that?!” Going to jail seemed like a stroke of luck – a place to live and 3 meals a day. Better than the alternative.

Many families were evicted before the session was over. Some moved in with other families to try to make a go of it. People started relying on each other.

But please don’t think for a moment that there is a happy ending here. Families were pulled apart. Everyone who wasn’t paralyzed from being overwhelmed was frustrated. And families couldn’t share what they didn’t have.

We learned some hard lessons: you need money to make money. You spend most of your time running around looking for resources. If you don’t have transportation, everything is doubly difficult – or impossible. There are gaps in the available resources, and if you fall in one of those gaps, you may never get out again.

Our experiences were way too real. Every day we had to try to survive. We had to keep coming up with new plans. It was impossible not to take things personally while feeling like you couldn’t win even if you tried.

It was debilitating and exhausting – and it only lasted a morning. For people living at poverty’s edge, this scenario is life – and anyone who survives is heroic.

A cross-section of Martin County residents took part in House of Hope’s Dare to Care Poverty Simulation on March 6 

What did we learn from this experience? As the group discussed it after the simulation, we knew in every cell of our being that poverty is hard. We were humbled as we realized what it takes to survive when you’re financially on the edge. And we were immensely grateful to be able to return to our own lives.

We also realized that gaps exist even in our caring community of Martin County and they make life even harder – lack of affordable housing, lack of transportation, lack of sufficient mental health resources, limited child care.

Rob Ranieri, House of Hope CEO, consoled as we finished the exercise, reminding us that in our community there are lots of agencies doing good work to help people in need. But, he said, there’s always more to do.

Oh yes, there is – because being poor is not a game.

I recommend this program to anyone and everyone, no matter how well you think you understand the community. Dare to Care gives you a perspective that you won’t find anywhere else – and one you won’t easily forget.

Pat Austin’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Presidential Preference Primary Election

Vicki Davis
Martin County Supervisor of Elections

The Presidential Preference Primary (PPP) will take place on Tuesday, March 19 and will be for registered Republican voters only. For even the most seasoned voters, the PPP can be a little mysterious and seem to catch voters by surprise. For starters, it only occurs once every four years, and is the first step in which Florida voters will begin the process of electing the President of the United States.

Florida is one of approximately a dozen states that hold closed primaries. That means only voters who are registered members of Florida’s two major political parties may vote for respective party candidates. Since the state Democratic Party already selected its candidate for the party’s nomination for president, only the Republican Party will hold a statewide presidential primary. Our presidential primary is held on the same day as Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, and Ohio.

We have received many questions from voters concerning the presidential candidates who have dropped out of the race or suspended their campaigns. If a candidate did not submit a formal withdrawal to the state of Florida before December 12, 2023, their name must remain on the ballot. A vote cast for any candidate appearing on the ballot will count as a vote cast for the candidate.

As a voter, you need to determine how you wish to vote in this election, if you are eligible. The state of Florida has three ways in which a voter may elect to cast their vote:

Option #1 Vote by Mail- If you need to request a vote-by-mail ballot for the March 19 election, you must do so by 5 p.m. on March 9. Request may be made by calling the Elections Office at 772-288-5637 or visiting us online at

Option #2 Vote Early- Early Voting will occur Saturday, March 9 through Saturday, March 16 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily in three central locations:

  • Martin County Elections Center-135 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Stuart
  • Hobe Sound Library-10595 SE Federal Hwy, Hobe Sound
  • Elisabeth Lahti Library-15200 SW Thelma Waters Ave, Indiantown

Option #3 Election Day- March 19 is your last opportunity to cast your vote. Voters who choose to vote on Election Day must cast their vote in their assigned polling place. Polling precincts will be open from 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. on Election Day. There have been a few polling location changes and those voters have been mailed new Voter Information Cards. To confirm your assigned polling location visit us online at or call the Elections Office at 772-288-5637.

See you at the polls!

Terra Lago


By The Garcia Companies

Business owners in Indiantown are banking on a new attainable housing community to bring responsible development and economic growth to western Martin County.

Terra Lago, Village of Indiantown, A Garcia Community is currently under construction and once completed will become a viable option for folks looking for housing opportunities in Martin County aside from the high-priced homes and rentals along the coast.

“The legacy of The Garcia Companies has been to build sustainable businesses where we can give back to the people who live, work, and play in those communities,” said Josh Kellam, President of The Garcia Companies.

Terra Lago has been years in the making and will consist of more than 2,000 homes including apartments, townhomes, and single-family houses. This rural hideaway was created with workers in mind and community at heart.

“At Terra Lago we are able to offer the average everyday worker – first responders, nurses, teachers, and young people starting families – a place to call home in a community that values family and connection.” added Kellam.

Indiantown’s rich history is equally matched by its rich soil. Farming and ranching have been a way of life here for decades. This Treasure Coast gem is also home to a thriving marine industry.

Scott Watson, owner of Indiantown Marina said, “Indiantown would be the place to come because there’s so much opportunity. It’s going to be creating the future with the industry we have coming in, that’s why I love it,” Watson explained.

“The village of Indiantown is looking at the marine industry to see the development and the construction and we have much bigger plans than just the facility you see here at Indiantown Marine Center,” said owner of the center, Dan Romence.

Terra Lago Future Site

With a solid infrastructure already in place, young entrepreneurs are being encouraged to set up shop in Indiantown. No hard sell needed with a long checklist of obvious benefits including open areas surrounded by natural habitats and waterways, a less crowded, small-town charm with a sense of community and a much simpler way of life.

With that kind of lineup, business owners are banking on Terra Lago to create a steady flow of opportunity and hopefully, repeat customers.

“The best part about Indiantown is if you have a need someone is going to help you. If you need a mentor, there’s many here,” said Danielle Williamson, owner of The Fresh Stop and native of Indiantown.

“You can come to school here. You can grow up here. You can now buy a home here,” said Stephen Leighton, owner of Leighton Farms. “Indiantown is on a trajectory to become the beacon of Martin County.”

The Garcia Company’s opinions are their own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Constitutional Corner & Non Profit Notices


Supervisor of Elections

Tax Collector

Property Appraiser

Florida property tax laws can be complicated for new homebuyers. Websites using previous owners’ taxes as an estimate for future taxes oversimplifies and inaccurately advertises the true tax liability new homebuyers will inherit. Please watch the New Homebuyer Timeline video and learn how to prepare for the financial impact.

Martin County Clerk & Comptroller

Non Profit Notices



Boys Town South Florida’s Family of the Year

Meet this beautiful family, Karly, and her eight-year-old son, Ronan, who participated in our In-Home Family Services program!

In-Home Family Services is a family focused, skill-oriented intervention that brings Boys Town’s well-established methods and strategies directly to families’ homes to foster a positive transformation. Karly needed help setting a routine with Ronan related to mealtime, dressing, and reinforcement of potty-training habits. Ronan is on the Autism spectrum, which required Karly to find strategies that would be tailored to Ronan’s capabilities and fit into her schedule, so she wouldn’t feel burned out from being the sole caregiver.

Kally & Ryan

To alleviate the family’s stress when it came to reinforcing positive potty-training habits at home, Boys Town South Florida Family Consultant was able to use charitable donations to buy Karly a washing machine. The washing machine has been a tremendous time saver. Karly is now able to wash clothes at home versus going to the laundromat. When it comes to mealtimes and getting dressed, it is still a work in progress. Ronan isn’t fully verbal, so Karly has learned different skills and approaches to help her son communicate his needs, while creating a healthy family routine. 

For further information about the In-Home Family Services program offered by Boys Town South Florida visit and to refer a family, please call 561-612-6069.  We are able to provide services in English and Spanish in Martin county at no cost to the family thanks to the generous support of Children’s Services Council and Communities Connected for Kids.


Top Chef 2024  is Heating Up to Support House of Hope

STUART, Fla. –Top Chef 2024, House of Hope’s fiery and intense competition among five amateur chefs, will blaze into action for the sixth year on April 8 at 7 p.m.

The contestants will have just 45 minutes to transform ingredients from a surprise pantry of items commonly found in House of Hope’s Client Choice pantries and production farm into a dish that will wow the judges. The fun-filled evening offers guests small plate delicacies from top local restaurants as they cheer on the chefs during their friendly battle for bragging rights.

The District Table & Bar in Stuart is once again hosting the competition, turning over their food preparation facilities and restaurant seating for the evening to support the mission of House of Hope. District staff is on hand throughout the evening to make sure everything runs smoothly.

“Every year we’ve been astonished at the creativity of the chefs,” House of Hope CEO Rob Ranieri said. “Even though they’re not professional chefs, they still concoct dishes that any restaurant would be proud to serve, and with an enthusiasm that you have to witness to believe.”

A panel of volunteer judges, made up of local notables and professional chefs, will critique the cuisine presented to them. They will award prizes to the Top Dish and to the Top Fundraiser, with the Overall designation of Top Chef going to the chef who excels in a combination of both categories. Last year’s Top Chef winner Jessica Bohner is serving as a judge this year. Commissioner Ed Ciampi, a veteran of the Top Chef wars, will serve as emcee.

Top Chef 2024 Photo

This year’s competing Chefs are Jennifer Atkisson-Lovett - Re/MAX of Stuart, Sonita Farr,  Wendy Kohler - member of Less Is More Treasure Coast Facebook group, Niki Norton - N2 Architecture & Design, and Katy O'Neil.

In addition to sharpening their culinary skills, each Top Chef contestant crowdfunds in advance of the competition to earn points towards their overall score and raise dollars that directly support House of Hope's mission to empower Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship.

House of Hope is seeing an ever-increasing number of Martin County residents who are food insecure and need the services of the organization to feed their families. Funds raised from this fun, food event will go directly to feeding hungry neighbors.

Sponsors to date include District Table & Bar, Stifel Investment Services, RE/MAX of Stuart, the Hawkins Family, Frank & Diane Warren, HBKS Wealth Advisors, Molly K. O’Neil Esq., n2 Architecture + Design, Russell & Dianne Weller, Century 21 Move With Us, Deborah Lovequist, Girl Scout Troop 71734, Jim & Elaine Matts, Justice for Kaitlyn Kohler, Manchester Insurance, Mann’s Consulting, Stuart Financial, Treasure Coast Accounting Inc., and Wong Family Foundation.

Sponsorship opportunities are available until March 20 for inclusion in the program, and each chef is still busily raising funds. Top Chef is a sold-out event, a testimony to its popularity, but you can still become a sponsor support a favorite chef at or (772) 286-4673 ext. 1031 or go to

About House of Hope

Founded in 1984, House of Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship. House of Hope touches the lives of more than 7,000 people each month helping with basic needs such as food, clothing, furniture, financial assistance, as well as longer-term case management services that help build life skills for a more self-sufficient future. 

The organization has service centers in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown, and Jensen Beach, with thrift stores in Stuart, Hobe Sound, and Indiantown. House of Hope’s Centers for Enrichment at Golden Gate in Stuart, in Jensen Beach, and now at KinDoo Family Center in Indiantown offer free programs, technology, and workshops designed to enhance life skills, earning potential, 




Put a Spring in Your Step at Martin Artisan Guild Exhibit

By Jackie Holfelder

Right on the heels of a hugely successful Open Studio Tour, the talented members of Martin Artisans Guild welcome everyone to their exciting new exhibit, Spring Forward.

It runs from March 13-Saturday, April 27 at The Palm Room Art Gallery and Artisans Boutique, located at 3746 SE Ocean Boulevard in Harbour Bay Plaza, Sewall’s Point.

The always-exciting Meet the Artists Event will be April 3 from 4-6 p.m. and will feature the libations, hors d’oeuvres and conviviality for which the Guild’s gatherings are noted.

                                    Doreen E Lepore Studio

Enjoy works of the following artists:

·        Doreen E. Lepore

·        Dot Galfond

·        Glen Allen

·        James J. Demartis

·        Jane Lawton Baldridge

·        Jose Farinos

·        Kimberly D Beltrame

·        Linda Reymore

·        Lynn Morgan

·        Maria Miele

·        Martha Quigley

·        Mickey Rudolph

·        MJ Dowling

·        Patricia Pasbrig

·        Susan Clifford

·        Suzan Allen

Dowling Studio

While you’re enjoying Spring Forward, check out the special, one-of-a-kind items in the Artisans Boutique that are perfect for gift-giving as well as some self-pampering.

Susan Clifford

The Palm Room Gallery is open Tuesdays-Saturdays from noon - 6 p.m.

For information, visit

Photos provided by Martin Artisans Guild


March 1, 2024, Port St. Lucie, Fla: Cleveland Clinic researchers have discovered a key mechanism used by Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), also known as human herpesvirus 8 (HHV8), to induce cancer. The research points to effective new treatment options for KSHV-associated cancers, including Kaposi’s sarcoma, primary effusion lymphoma, and HHV8-associated multicentric Castleman disease

“Our findings have significant implications: viruses cause between 10% to 20% of cancers worldwide, a number that is constantly increasing as new discoveries are made. Treating virus-induced cancers with standard cancer therapies can help shrink tumors that are already there, but it doesn’t fix the underlying problem of the virus,” said Jun Zhao, Ph.D., of Cleveland Clinic Florida Research & Innovation Center. “Understanding how pathogens transform a healthy cell into a cancer cell uncovers exploitable vulnerabilities and allows us to make and repurpose existing drugs that can effectively treat virus-associated malignancies.” 

The Nature Communications study, led by Dr. Zhao, reveals that KSHV manipulates two human enzymes called CDK6 and CAD to reshape the way human cells produce new nucleotides - the building blocks of DNA and RNA - and process glucose. The changes to how infected cells grow and how KSHV persists put cells at a much higher risk of forming tumors and play a crucial role in causing cancer.  

The team showed the virus activates a specific pathway driving cell metabolism and proliferation. Inhibiting this process with existing FDA-approved breast cancer drugs reduced KSHV replication, blocked lymphoma progression and shrunk existing tumors in preclinical models.  

Like other herpesviruses, KSHV often has no symptoms initially and remains in the body after primary infection. The virus stays dormant, suppressed by the immune system. However, KSHV can reactivate when immunity is weakened – as in older people, those with HIV/AIDS, and transplant recipients. In these high-risk groups, the now active virus can trigger aggressive cancers.

KSHV-induced cancers are fast-acting, aggressive and difficult to treat. An estimated 10% of people in North America and Northern Europe have KSHV, but this ranges throughout the globe. More than 50% of individuals in parts of Northen Africa are estimated to have the virus. Experts estimate these rates are higher, as KSHV often goes undiagnosed because of lack of symptoms. These findings have implications that reach past KSHV; researchers can apply knowledge about KSHV to other cancer-associated viruses that might use the same process to cause cancer. 

To understand the cells’ metabolic processes to uncover the virus’s vulnerabilities, Dr. Zhao collaborated with Michaela Gack, Ph.D., Scientific Director of the Florida Research & Innovation Center.  

Rapidly replicating cancer cells reprogram metabolism to fuel growth. Meanwhile, most viruses cannot produce energy or necessary molecules on their own, so they rely on human cells to do the work for them. The team found that the virus takes over the host protein CDK6 and CAD, causing the infected cells to produce extra metabolites, which allows faster replication of the virus and an uncontrolled proliferation of the cells.

The research team treated pre-clinical models with a CDK6-blocking drug, Palbociclib, an FDA-approved breast cancer medication, as well as a compound targeting CAD. They saw significant decreases in tumor size and increases in cancer survival rates: most tumors virtually disappeared after about a month of treatment, and remaining tumors shrank around 80%. Survival increased to 100% for selected lymphoma cell lines. 

Dr. Zhao and his team are working to better understand the connections among KSHV, CDK6/CAD pathway, and cancer formation. With the knowledge they obtain, they plan to implement and refine their experimental drug combinations for clinical trials.  

“Cellular metabolism could be hijacked by both viruses and cancers for pathogenesis,” said Dr. Zhao. “By investigating these metabolic rewiring mechanisms, we aim to find the Achilles’ heel of cancer-causing viruses and non-viral cancers. I’m excited to see what the future of this work holds.” 

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. Cleveland Clinic is consistently recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for its expertise and care. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 77,000 employees worldwide are more than 5,658 salaried physicians and researchers, and 19,000 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,699-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 23 hospitals, more than 275 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2022, there were 12.8 million outpatient encounters, 303,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 270,000 surgeries and procedures throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at Follow us at News and resources available at




2024 Butterfly Tea Post Event Press Release

Enchanting Butterfly Tea Event Hosted by The Children's Museum and Sponsored by Questers of Stuart

Jensen Beach, February 17, 2024 - The Children's Museum, in collaboration with Questers of Stuart, delighted attendees with a charming Butterfly Tea event on February 17th. Held within the Explorer’s Gallery of The Children's Museum, the event captivated guests with a delightful array of activities celebrating the art of tea parties.

Guests were treated to a delightful spread featuring tea, sandwiches, and a variety of delectable treats. The atmosphere buzzed with creativity as attendees engaged in craft activities, unleashing their imaginations and crafting beautiful creations. The highlight of the event was undoubtedly the enchanting butterfly release, where colorful wings fluttered into the sky, filling hearts with wonder and joy.

Questers of Stuart's sponsorship of the event exemplifies their dedication to supporting community engagement and providing enriching experiences for families. Their generosity helped make the Butterfly Tea a memorable occasion for all who attended.

"We are delighted to have partnered with The Children's Museum to bring this magical event to our community," said Christina McIntosh, Event Coordinator of The Children’s Museum. "The Butterfly Tea was a celebration of creativity, camaraderie, and the simple joys of life, and we are grateful to all who joined us in making it a success."

For those who missed out on the festivities, stay tuned for future events hosted by The Children's Museum and Questers of Stuart. For more information about upcoming events and opportunities to support these organizations, please check out our website,

Photos by Melissa Fuller



Council on Aging of Martin County Celebrates 50th Anniversary with

New Look and New Slogan

The Council on Aging of Martin County knows that the secret to successful aging is to keep growing and changing. The organization is taking its own advice. As it celebrates its 50th anniversary of serving seniors and their families, the Council on Aging has unveiled its new brand identity.

“We have an incredible legacy in Martin County,” said Council on Aging President and CEO Karen Ripper. “From a small nonprofit founded in 1974 by concerned community members, we’ve become a comprehensive hub of resources for seniors. We’re celebrating 50 years of service with a visual makeover that better reflects what we’ve become over the decades. 

The Council on Aging’s modern new logo swirls with bright, cheerful colors and includes the tag line - Your Hub for Senior Resources.

“Because we offer so many programs and services to seniors, it has been a challenge to explain them all in a way that was easy for the community to understand,” Ripper said. “Now, with our new branding, we have a compelling and engaging way to communicate all that we do.”

Board Member Jim Simoneau, (standing) Dave Schoonover, County Commissioner Ed Ciampi and City of Stuart Mayor Becky Bruner helped the Council on Aging of Martin County to celebrate its 50th year of service to seniors and their families.

Each of the organization’s key program and service areas take an identifying color from the logo: green for health, gold for nutrition, red for social activities, and blue for programs that offer help in areas like adult day care and case management.  Four short phrases, keyed to the service area colors, sum up our program offerings and are easy to remember while offering great advice for successful aging: Stay Healthy, Be Active, Eat Well, and Get Help.”

Past confusion about the Kane Center being the place where services and activities take place, and the Council on Aging being the nonprofit organization that runs the Kane Center and other facilities in Martin County has also been addressed through the rebranding process. 

A new logo has also been created for the Kane Center on Salerno Road in Stuart, headquarters to the Council on Aging.

Throughout 2024, the Council on Aging of Martin County will recognize those who created and sustained the organization over 50 years along with a busy and dynamic calendar of activities for seniors and community members. The next major event, the much-loved Sage Awards, honoring Martin County residents who continue to give back to their community well after retirement age, will be held on March 27 at Piper’s Landing Yacht & Country Club.

“The Council on Aging Board of Directors is proud of the last half-century of accomplishments our predecessors achieved, delighted with our new branding efforts and excited about our forward-looking vision of how to serve our community in the future,” added Board Chair Nicki Schoonover said. “Our look is new but our unwavering commitment to serve as a hub for senior resources remains the same.”

About the Council on Aging of Martin County

The Council on Aging of Martin County is the community’s hub for senior resources and the county’s Lead Agency on Aging. Founded in 1974, the organization offers expertise, programming and support for older adults and their families to help seniors maintain lives of quality and purpose. Services include: Day Primary Care Center, Memory Enhancement Center, Adult Day Club, Meals on Wheels, care management, caregiver support, and a robust offering of educational, cultural, fitness and wellness programs.

The Kane Center located at 900 SE Salerno Road in Stuart is the Council on Aging of Martin County’s headquarters and is also an event venue available to the public. It serves as a special needs hurricane shelter when necessary.  Council on Aging of Martin County also operates senior outreach facilities in Hobe Sound, Jensen Beach, East Stuart and Indiantown.  A  501(c)3 nonprofit organization, the Council on Aging receives funding from state and federal agencies and relies on philanthropic support from the community, including other agencies, private foundations and individual donors. For more information, visit


Mah Jongg Tournament benefits students and teachers

PALM CITY, Fla. — The Education Foundation of Martin County’s recent Mah Jongg tournament raised both awareness of public school needs as well as $22,000. All proceeds benefit the local Education Foundation, which organizes many educational enrichment programs for students and teachers in Martin County’s public schools.

Presented by Sandhill Cove, the day-long charity event took place on March 1 at Harbour Ridge Yacht & Country Club. One hundred players participated in the sold-out event, which began with a continental breakfast and included lunch and a silent auction spearheaded by Education                                                                            Foundation Board Member Lois McGuire.

– Jill Butte, second place finalist; Education Foundation of Martin County Executive Director Lisa Rhodes; and Tournament Champion Andi White ( Above photo)

During the awards presentation at the end of the tournament, Andi White was declared the champion. Jill Butte took second place followed by Carolyn Currier, Linda Lavinsky and Kathleen Carden in third, fourth and fifth place respectively.

The Education Foundation of Martin County thanks the event sponsors: Sandhill Cove, Edwardine Tasco, Water’s Edge Dermatology, Treasure Coast Urgent Care, Edie Stevenson and Ann Vossekuil.

Third place finalist Carolyn Currier with Education Foundation of Martin County Executive Director Lisa Rhodes

For more information, visit the website,

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

Photos by Doreen Poreba


Treasure Coast Hospice to Observe National Healthcare Decisions Day 2024

Advance Care Planning Information and Tools Offered at 12 Local Libraries

(STUART, Fla. March 12, 2024) – In observance of National Healthcare Decisions Day on Tuesday, April 16, Treasure Coast Hospice will distribute advance care planning materials at 12 local libraries in Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee counties. Staff and volunteers will offer information and tools for the public to talk about their wishes with loved ones, including Five Wishes, America’s most popular advance directive, at the following library branches from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.:


Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Road, Stuart, Florida 34996

Hobe Sound Public Library 10595 SE Federal Highway, Hobe Sound, Florida 33455

Hoke Library, 1150 NW Jack Williams Way, Jensen Beach, Florida 34957 (12 – 2 pm only)

Peter & Julie Cummings Library, 2551 SW Matheson Avenue, Palm City, Florida 34990

Robert Morgade Library, 5851 SE Community Drive, Stuart, Florida 34997


Okeechobee Public Library, 206 SW 16th Street, Okeechobee, Florida 34974
St. Lucie

The Susan Broom Kilmer Library, 101 Melody Lane, Fort Pierce, Florida 34950

The Zora Neale Hurston Library, 3008 Avenue D, Fort Pierce, Florida 34947

Lakewood Park Library, 7605 Santa Barbara Drive, Fort Pierce, Florida 34951

The Paula A. Lewis Library, 2950 SW Rosser Boulevard, Port St. Lucie, Florida 34953.

The Morningside Library, 2410 SE Morningside Boulevard, Port St. Lucie, Florida 34952

The Port St. Lucie Library, 180 S.W. Prima Vista Boulevard, Port St. Lucie, Florida 34983

Founded in 2008, National Healthcare Decisions Day is observed annually on April 16. Its goal is to increase the number of Americans who have completed an advance directive (“living will”), in which they name the person who will make medical decisions for them in the event they are seriously ill and can’t speak for themselves. Experts say only about 20-30% of Americans have completed an advance directive even though all people age 18 and older should have one.

“It’s understandable that people would put off discussing the topic of serious illness and death, but it’s essential to have this family conversation in advance,” said Treasure Coast Hospice CEO Jackie Kendrick, CHPCA. “Advance care planning empowers individuals to shape their future healthcare decisions, ensuring their wishes are honored with compassion and respect.”

Treasure Coast Hospice staff and volunteers will encourage community members to prepare their advance directives by distributing Five Wishes, America’s most popular advance care planning program at participating area libraries. Five Wishes, a 12-page booklet that helps guide individuals in discussing personal, family and spiritual matters, in addition to medical and legal concerns, is a valuable tool for beginning difficult family discussions. When completed, it meets the legal requirements of 46 states and is useful in those states that still require state forms and mandatory notices. To meet the cultural needs of the community, English, Spanish and French Creole versions of Five Wishes will be available.

Five Wishes deals with the things people say matter most to them,” Five Wishes President Joanne Eason said.  “It allows them to clearly state what kind of treatment they want or don’t want so their families aren’t left to guess or second-guess.”

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.

About Aging with Dignity 

Founded in 1996, Aging with Dignity is a national non-profit organization that seeks to protect the God-given human dignity of the most vulnerable among us.  Five Wishes is an advance care planning program created with help from national legal experts, with initial development and distribution funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.



2024 SECRET GARDENS TOUR: From the Tropics to the Trails

Presented by: The Garden Club of Stuart

EXCITING NEWS! Plein Air Artists of Martin County will be painting at several gardens during The Garden Club of Stuart’s Secret Gardens Tour on Saturday, March 23rd, from 10am – 5pm.

What an EXTRA special treat!

Plein Air Artists of Martin County is organized by the Art Associates of Martin County Art League. Weekly this group of artists paints outside at various locations such as county parks, botanical gardens and private residences.

The Garden Club of Stuart sincerely thanks these wonderful artists for sharing their AMAZING artistic talents and time during our Secret Gardens Tour. What a wonderful experience it will be to stroll through a beautiful garden and find an artist at work!


Martin County Master Gardener Volunteers will also be at each garden to answer horticultural and gardening questions and to “TALK PLANTS”. This event, held biennially, is the garden club’s only fundraiser, and The Garden Club of Stuart uses the money raised to award college scholarships to local students.

Tickets for The Garden Club of Stuart’s Secret Gardens Tour are $35, $45 day of tour, and can be purchased online here:

Tickets are $35, $45 day of the tour & are available online at:

& on the garden club’s website:

Tickets are also available at the following businesses, payment by check or cash only:

  1. Pinder’s Nursery - 5500 SW Martin Hwy Palm City

2. The Gate - Harbour Bay Plaza 3742 SE Ocean Blvd., Stuart  

3. Stuart Art Supply and Studio - 43 SE Kindred St., Stuart

4. Kilwin's Chocolates - 41 A SW Osceola St., Downtown Stuart

5.  Hobe Sound Beach Shop - 9128B Bridge Rd., Hobe Sound   

6. Cove Gardens - 4968 SE Dixie Hwy., Stuart

7. Palm City Palms - 7390 Martin Hwy., Palm City

8. Big Pine Nursery - 800 SE Salerno Rd., Stuart

The day of the Secr

et Gardens Tour, between 9am and 1pm, patrons will exchange their ticket for a TOUR BOOK at one of the following locations in Martin County: Blake Library, Cummings Library in Palm City, the Hobe Sound Library, or Colab Kitchen, downtown Stuart. Tour Books include garden addresses & descriptions, garden photos, and maps. The Garden Tour begins at 10am.

 Please visit or The Garden Club of Stuart’s Facebook page for more details and updates. 

About The Garden Club of Stuart, Inc.

The Garden Club of Stuart, Inc. (GCS) was organized in 1936 and federated in 1937 as a member of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc. affiliated with the National Garden Clubs, Inc. GSC is a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization with a mission: to further the education of members and the public in the fields of horticulture, floral design, botany, landscape design, conservation of natural resources, and civic beautification.

GCS maintains several gardens throughout the community, including Audubon-Possum Long Nature Center, Blue Star Memorial By-Way Marker Garden at Memorial Park, Butterfly Garden at Sewall’s Point Park, House of Refuge, and Mary’s House. In 2023, more than $12,000 in scholarships were distributed to Martin County students. Membership is open to all who have interests consistent with the mission of the Club.




Martin County Unites for Care from the Heart VIM Gala

STUART, Fla. – Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) Clinic hosted their highly anticipated annual VIM Gala at the Willoughby Golf Club on Saturday, February 10th, 2024, bringing together over 150 enthusiastic supporters, raising funds, and celebrating the clinic's ongoing mission. The event successfully raised over $300,000, contributing to the clinic's operating budget and enabling the continuation of its mission to provide over $9 million in free health care services to eligible Martin County residents in need annually.

Dr. Jim and Marguerite Morris and Petra Eberle

The gala's theme, Care from the Heart, set the stage for an evening of celebration and philanthropy. Gala chairs Judi Powell and Bob Truckenmiller welcomed the crowd sharing, “My life experiences have led me to know that angels exist. Angels manifest themselves through good people doing good deeds for worthy people. The doctors, nurses, and staff, and the volunteers and donors at VIM are all angels.”

Dr. John and Catherine Fasano

During the gala, FVIM Board President Chuck Cleaver expressed his gratitude, stating, “'Care from the Heart' isn't just a theme for tonight – it's what drives us every day to make a difference in the lives of Martin County residents.”

Libby, a patient at the clinic, shared her heartfelt story, illustrating the profound impact of VIM Clinic on individuals like herself and the community.

Dr. Jordan Bromberg and Dr. Howard Robbins

98 percent of all funds raised go directly to patient services. That’s possible because VIM Clinic is staffed primarily by volunteers and receives support from community partners such as Cleveland Clinic Martin Health which donates nearly $5 million worth of lab tests and other services.

Executive Director Mary Fields shared her reflections on the clinic's impact, saying, "This gala's success directly impacts our community's health. It's 'Care from the Heart' in action.”

As VIM Clinic welcomes its 29th year of operation, the organization remains committed to ensuring that all eligible Martin County residents receive the highest quality of compassionate care. The annual VIM Gala exemplifies the collective mission of the community towards this noble cause.

Linda Evans and Patricia Gage


About Volunteers in Medicine Clinic

Since 1995 Volunteers in Medicine Clinic has been providing comprehensive medical care to uninsured Martin County adults, through the efforts and expertise of a small staff and volunteer medical and lay personnel, at no charge to the patient. VIM Clinic is located at 417 SE Balboa Avenue in Stuart, Florida. For more information, please contact 772.463.4128 or visit online at





                                Phil and Julie Wintercorn

Mary Fields, Bob Truckenmiller and Judy Powell


Photos by Liz McKinley

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.

John Maher

Hello Tom,

I’m not sure if my letter will interest you or our readers, but here it is.


Has anyone “done the math” on BRIGHTLINE’S “claimed ridership numbers”?

For the month of January 2024 Brightline claimed 122,703 passengers between Miami-Orlando as published in TC Palm.

Well, 31 days in January = 3,958 passengers per day. With 16 trains per day (per the Brightline on line website) from Miami - Orlando; that would be 247 passengers per train per day from Miami to Orlando.

Dana Young, CEO of Brightline stated todays train capacity is 240 passengers. As published on 9/22/23 by Edward Russell from   Well, that would mean every seat on every train if full from Miami to Orlando leaving 7 passengers per train standing for the 3 1/2 hr train ride and with “standing room only” for passengers traveling between any of the other four published stops.

Have you ever noticed that the windows on the Brightline trains are covered with some graphic so people on the outside of the train can not see into the train cars? I guess this is because Brightline is embarrassed with this “standing room only” problem?

In conclusion, to Brightline and to our News Publishers, please stop treating us as uninformed. 

I’m sure we all know that since Amtrak was founded in 1971 that the Government has basically been supporting Amtrak on our taxes. Amtrack received a hefty $2.5 billion in the most recent omnibus spending package. But this ignores an even larger pot of money—the $4.4 billion per year that Amtrak receives from the infrastructure bill. 

I point this out as I’m sure Brightline sees a large pot of gold at the end of their rainbow.


Mike Searle

Hi Tom,

I don't say much politically and never will, just not my style.  I will say I truly enjoy your newsletter every other week and thank you for all your efforts you put into it for your readers.

Best Regards,

Martin County


Commission Meeting March 5 2024

Clyde Dulin from the county and Dana Little from the Regional Planning Council presented the Draft Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR).

This is an examination of the entire comprehensive plan to see whether any amendments are needed because of community wishes and to comply with Florida Legislative changes that have been enacted since the last review. This presentation is only what occurred at the public input meetings. There are no changes being voted upon now.

Dulin and Little held two public workshops. There was an online survey that could have been taken between September 1st and December 31st of 2023. Approximately 100 people were at the first public workshop and 50 at the second. Some participants attended both. The Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council conducted 30 in-depth individual interviews of community leaders.

According to what we were told when this was presented to the LPA, each chapter will be given a thorough review. Staff will incorporate all the public comments, the changes that must be made because of revisions in the statutes, and staff and commissioner comments. Those revisions will then be presented for further public comment and a vote by the commission.

You can see the presentation here

There was the presentation of the Newfield Parks Master Plan.

Commissioner Heard had some questions regarding whether the conservation easements could be voided in the future. There has been news lately that conservation easements that had been given to state agencies had been rescinded by the agency and the property was then developed.

Marcela Camblor who began working on this project for Knight Kiplinger years ago represented the owner, Mattamy Homes. She stated that since the easements were part of the development order and there were no third-party agencies, it would be difficult for the easements to later be developed.

The plan itself exceeds the current code for park space required. There will be active and passive elements. The entire park system will be open to everyone in Martin County.

The easements are all outside the Primary Urban Services District. The easements are as follows:

PAMP I Conservation Easement for wetlands and native upland habitat

PAMP II Conservation Easement for wetlands and native upland habitat

PAMP III Open Space Easement for open space outside of wetland and                        native upland habitat within PAMP II area.

Ciampi moved to accept staff recommendations. It was seconded by Smith and passed unanimously. You can see the presentations here 

Several months ago, the county bought a property in the Old Palm City CRA to stop the parcel from being developed. The county paid a total of $4,028,000 which includes closing costs. The funds came from the General Fund until further direction could be given to staff.

The property borders on Danforth Creek. Public Works will be able to pay the general fund $800,000 from their stormwater and road fee. This part of the parcel will be used to access the creek and the larger basin for possible public use as stormwater management.

The balance of $3,228,000 will be an interfund loan to be paid by the District MSTU and the CRA TIF. It was also decided that staff should come back with an RFP to put the property back on the market with certain conditions. Commissioner Smith wanted to have neighborhood input. Commissioner Ciampi has spoken to possible applicants.

This has been a political hot potato since it was done. Ciampi’s political interest would be to take this off the table as soon as possible before the election. It was his idea to stop the development by this purchase.

The vote was 3-2 to sell the property minus the stormwater piece. Heard and Hetherington dissented. 

Commission Meeting March 12, 2024

The public comment portion of the meeting had to do with the request for “reasonable accommodation” for a residential treatment facility in a single-family home located in a development in Martin County’s part of Tequesta.

Voyage Recovery, the applicant, can have up to 5 unrelated individuals in the house according to code. They are asking for 15. The neighborhood residents also questioned whether the facility is closer than what is allowed by code to other such facilities.

Since this has to do with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the commissioners won’t decide the outcome, but it will be decided by a special magistrate familiar with the ADA and the case law surrounding it.


This is the same neighborhood where Austin Harrouff gruesomely killed a couple in their garage and severely injured a neighbor who tried to aid them. Harrouff was determined to be insane, but it was claimed at the time that the crime was drug induced.

Commissioner Ciampi reiterated the neighborhood’s case. Commissioner Smith stated that the residents should contact Senators Rubio and Scott along with Congressman Mast. The county will send a recording of the meeting to them.


Commissioner Heard wanted to know whether the neighbors could become intervenors. Deputy County Attorney Elise Elder stated that there are no intervenors in the proceeding. She also said that there would be no public comment allowed at the magistrate hearing, but she would send emails and the record to the magistrate.


The ADA is a good law that like so many laws can be taken to the extreme by people to make a profit. Anytime people are living together, tempers can flair. If there are 5 family members, things sometimes become so heated that law enforcement must be called.

Then make it 5 unrelated people who are on the cusp of sobriety, living together, and the odds of conflict are much greater. Finally, pack 15 people into the house who are all strangers dealing with the issues of substance abuse, and it is very problematic. How many people would find living next door to that scenario acceptable?  

Now give this some thought…what if I told you that a business, I ran has had a 55% decline in customers over the past 10 years. It costs $26.70 per individual use, and I charge $1.00. And most of my potential customers don’t even know I exist.

That actually describes the Marty System, Martin County’s public transportation entity. Only the government could dream up a system that is a money pit, satisfies no one, has few riders, and wants more money. It is county government at its worst.

Indian River County’s public transit, which is like us in size, population and demographics, is considered the gold standard in Florida. In 2022 they had 1,239,000 riders compared to our 92,670. That year we spent $32.60 per ride compared to $4.35 in Indian River. What goes on?

Indian River really wants a public transportation hub. I don’t believe Martin County does. From what I saw on the dais, there weren’t too many interested faces. The commission accepted the report.

To see the presentation go here

The Fair Still Has No Home Or Competent Leadership

I have learned to be patient when waiting for public records.

Florida has one of the most expansive laws that require governments and other semi-governmental bodies to produce records when asked. Unfortunately, what it doesn’t have is much of an enforcement mechanism. That is without spending money and time to enforce that right.

The last executive director of the Martin County Fair left after she claimed that irregularities were occurring. I put in a public records request to see the minutes and letters. Guess what? I am still waiting.

KC Ingram Mullens lasted about six months as the director. Whether she was the right choice to be responsible to move the fair has become irrelevant to the point. She resigned because of the Martin County Fair Board’s refusal to hire an attorney to sort through what she described as some shortcomings in their filings for grants and other matters.

The Fair Board has been trying for many years to move the fair from the current fairgrounds across from Witham Field to Indiantown. Year after year in a complete abrogation of their responsibilities as custodians of county owned land, the commission has allowed this to go on. In both the current location and the location in Indiantown, the land belongs to the county…which means to the taxpaying citizens.

And year after year, the commission goes through their little ritual of asking why there is no progress or movement and then gives the self-appointed Fair Board more time. Why would that board or anyone else take the commission seriously? Why is the commission so cavalier about giving the fairgrounds, a valuable county asset, to what seems like an incompetent bunch to manage?

We need to understand how Martin County has entrusted this self-perpetuating board with the exclusive right to run the Martin County Fair. If it is county property, then why doesn’t the county run it, maintain it, and manage it? I am asking as someone who wants the private sector to run things like the fair. Yet when the government subsidizes a private entity, that is not the free market.

The Martin County Fair is a ten-day event once a year. Why couldn’t the county’s park’s department just lease the space to this group of incompetents to hold their fair. The rest of the time, the county could develop the asset to benefit all the county residents.

Without a doubt, it is for the commission to stop the kabuki dance and take hold of the situation. All around us, there are county fairs. How come Martin County needs to have such drama accompanying theirs?

As It Appeared In Martin County Moments

Pal Mar


It seems one Pal Mar board member is finally taking the situation in Pal Mar seriously.

Sarah Heard appears fed up with the lawlessness that has been in the water control district for some time. She said she wants to begin to hold violators responsible. Heard proposes hiring two law enforcement agents.

Heard also wants the code violations prosecuted. The attorney pointed out that was the county’s responsibility. It sure is, and luckily Heard’s day job is as a Martin County commissioner. Please, commissioner, get code enforcement out there and get the sheriff’s office to do more than ignore what is going on.


For some time now, Trailside residents have been 

asking the county to protect them. For the most part, those pleas fallen on deaf ears. We all understand that there are problems because there are no surveys of the parcels. And we have also been told that yahoos firing off weapons are allowed to do it.

For certain, nowhere in Pal Mar is it legal to have structures or roads. The county has the right to tear them down if an owner builds there. How about doing it?


TJ Mansell, the district’s maintenance contractor, gave his presentations with photos. And wonderful photos they are. They illustrate just how out of control things are. Locks being cut on gates, cars abandoned, and the works of the district being destroyed.

The photos in this article are illustrative of just that and better than thousands of words I could write.

Sheriff Snyder Retiring



Martin County Sheriff Will Snyder has decided not to run for reelection. Though rumors had been rampant for the past year that he would retire, there was no official notice until now.

Snyder has been sheriff for three terms. He is currently 72 and felt as an active leader of his department it was time. He stated there were no health problems. Snyder went on to say that he was not a desk person. He led his deputies in the field and at crime scenes.

At the time of the announcement Snyder also endorsed John Budensiek,

his chief deputy, to run for the position. Budensiek has been a member of the department for almost a quarter of a century. He started as a road patrol deputy. For the past couple of years John has taken a more out-front role representing the office in the community.

Snyder before becoming sheriff had served as a state legislator and spent 20 years in the Miami Dade Police Department. He is the father of Representative John Snyder. He did not rule out running for another legislative position for the state or congress if the opportunity arose.

The hardest thing is to know when to go. Snyder could have easily won reelection but chose to put Martin County first. Too many elected officials believe they are indispensable.

Will Sheriff Snyder be missed? Sure, he will, and he will be remembered for leaving at the top of his game. I congratulate him for recognizing that.

As he said he has put together a great team and believes they can carry on. Budensiek is a consummate professional that has been instrumental in helping Snyder build the team. Regardless of what happens in the election, Martin County’s safety will be left in good hands.   

The Hub

What is the Innovation Hub?

It is an area that is home to some of the best kept secrets in Martin County.

The heart runs down Commerce Avenue from Stuart to Port Salerno. The businesses are already there, and they are contributing to our economy even with limited involvement from the government. They are responsible for creating many U.S. patents. From these innovations, products are being produced and sold worldwide.

Call it what you want, but George Stokus from Martin County has been tasked with figuring out what local government can do to keep these businesses happy and here. An improved infrastructure such as fiber for internet connectivity is at the top of the list. Stormwater and sewers are important components to alleviate flooding and the ability to grow. Adequate power to ensure that new businesses can be added to the corridor should be a no-brainer.

What the county must do is have safe intermodal corridors and complete streets. Most of those who will be employed will need access to transportation. Many will use bikes. Others will want reliable mass transit options. Some will have no choice but to walk from their neighborhoods such as Golden Gate to their employment. How do they get over the rail lines to their places of employment.

In the report that was prepared outlining the steps to be taken, there are several pedestrian bridge concepts to facilitate crossing the tracks safely. It is important that if a bridge ever does happen, it be strategically placed to accommodate pedestrians and other forms of intermodal transportation. This is where the county can really be helpful.

When thinking of the district, don’t just think of high tech. It is manufacturers such as Hog Technologies (an equipment manufacturer) and Pursuit Aerospace (manufacturer of complex aircraft engine components). There are marine industries in the periphery of Port Salerno…. employers most of us have no idea about.

What the area is critically short of is housing of all types. These businesses will have managers, technical employees, and semi-skilled workers. Right now, there is no place for them to live. And that is due to the NIMBYism that is prevalent in the area but especially in Salerno.

Businesses can’t grow or locate in areas where housing for their employees is nonexistent. Housing, good schools, and infrastructure need to be there for business to come to a place or to remain there. It is a romantic idea to be a quaint village. However, if that village wants jobs and tax revenue, it must find a way to be both quant and inviting.

The Innovation Hub starts on Monterey Road and goes down to Port Salerno. The main district is from Federal Highway to Dixie with Commerce being its spine. Here is where Martin County believes our future lies. Are we going to spend the resources needed to attract and keep businesses? Or will we do nothing but talk about it and hope that something happens?

The entire report is here

City of Stuart


During commissioners’ comments, Commissioner Collins said something that I am in complete agreement with.

He stated that he hoped that the PFAS settlement money would not be used for commissioners’ pet projects. He unfortunately went on and specifically mentioned “affordable housing” as an example of a pet project.  It probably was a way of reminding Commissioner Rich that he does not support his vision for the garage site. Collins of course would not want to see any new housing built so using the money for it would not fit into his ideas.


Collins mentioned that the filters at the new water plant must be changed to the tune of $800,000 a pop. No back-up was provided to confirm that cost. If settlement money is used as a commissioner piggy bank for pet projects, then what could be a substantial amount will be quickly dissipated. The actual amount of the settlement has not yet been made public.

An idea was previously floated by Manager Mortell to have the settlement treated as an endowment. The proceeds could be used but the principle just keeps earning. A great idea if the commission will agree to do it.

Commissioner Rich brought up the poor attendance at the last CRB meeting. Of the seven members, only 3 were present which means there was no quorum. (In full disclosure, I am a member and was there.) This is a problem with many of the boards in Stuart but also throughout the county. These volunteer advisory boards are important to the functioning of local government.

Two things need to occur for them truly to be useful. First are the board members must take their participation seriously. When accepting the position, it is imperative that the member then attends the meetings. Applications for projects can’t move forward to the commission unless the board first hears the project. We do not have to approve, but we do recommend whether the commission should approve.


The other part is up to the commission. That is, they do not have to agree with our recommendations, but they should weigh them and take them seriously. Too often I have heard advisory board members frustrated by being ignored by the commission.

City Attorney Lee Bagget has been working to clean up the code and bylaws regarding boards. At this meeting, a revamp was presented to the commissioners for their approval. They voted 5-0 to do so.

Helen McBride, Stuart’s Grande Dame, once again spoke how Hudson’s Restaurant was hogging the parking spaces at the north end of the peninsula.

According to a resolution of several years ago, Hudson’s is allowed to block the spaces (31) that are at the end of the peninsula by their premises. In exchange, the restaurant’s paid valet will park any car for free. You do not have to be a patron of the restaurant. They are allowed to begin blocking off the spaces with cones after 4 pm.

There are no signs anywhere telling people that the valet is free. So how would people know? And second, it was mentioned the spaces are being blocked off before 4 pm. Mortell was going to put up signs so that people would know that it is free of charge but is waiting since this will come back to the commission for further review.

A constant refrain at meetings is that the public did not know about a change or procedural alteration such as the free valet parking near Hudson’s. Unfortunately getting the news out in our fractured information world is hard. That doesn’t mean it is impossible.

In Friends & Neighbors, we have an entire section of government notices. Two weeks before we publish, an email goes out to each government entity inviting them to send any informational notices they want to be published. The constitutional officers (except for the sheriff) send something each time. Occasionally, I receive something from Martin County. The rest…never.

Stuart and many of the other governments have newsletters. And that is great. However, with almost 30,000 emails receiving this publication, our reach is substantial. We do not charge to publish government notices. If Stuart and the rest want one more avenue to reach their citizens, all they must do is send the informational notice our way.

But don’t be surprised if their desire to communicate goes no further than it does now.

Step One

Step One is now complete. The official announcement on Monday by Brightline that the first Treasure Coast station will be in Stuart.

Many of the “power people” gathered at the site by the courthouse to celebrate.  Brightline officials were there. Four county and four city commissioners were in attendance. City and county staff were present. As were some people who are or purport to be VIPs. And of course, the most Very Important Person, Congressman Brian Mast.

Commission Chair Harold Jenkins spoke at this most public of events which is a rare occurrence. Mayor Becky Brunner haltingly made her prepared remarks written by a city staff member. And for some odd reason, Troy McDonald a city commissioner and chair of the MPO spoke from what sounded like an AI created speech that was the longest and most pointless of the three addresses.

I spoke to none of the commissioners except to say hello. It was the staff I wanted to talk to. They are the ones who will ceaselessly work to have the station happen.

What I learned is that everyone is on a high at this moment. Yet the hard work of obtaining the money is far from complete. Negotiations between Brightline and the city and county have probably just begun. Until an agreement is signed, this can still go away.

The county believes that they are done at $15 million. It seems they are quite convinced the grant money is there. I don’t have the same impression of the city being so assured. The two entities are now cooperating in their grant requests by giving each other information but they are on two separate paths.

Stuart has the hardest lift by having to come up with $30 million for the parking garage that Brighline will effectively manage. City Manager Mortell has been working tirelessly to make sure the station is in Stuart but now comes the hard part. And city commissioners need to keep their mouths shut regarding the negotiations.

I have heard that one commissioner is going around telling the county that the city will come up with the money needed. Being a big shot can cost Stuart a bundle, and it may have helped throw a wrench in to everyone working together.

The real key to making sure that this happens is Brian Mast. The Congressman has already been instrumental in having the money for the new train bridge appropriated which resulted in state money being made available to help with the cost.

Now Mast will need to continue to work for us to secure any additional money for the entire project. Though local officials spoke yesterday, it was Brian Mast who was the most important elected official there. And all the rest are just making reelection videos. 

Martin County School Board


We may have traded in the fight about banning books for keeping the MCHS pool open at public comment.

I never understood why the school district should pay for the upkeep of a pool so adults can swim in it. Speaker after speaker told the board how they go there to swim every day and how devastating it would be for the community if the pool were to close.

I believe there should be public pools. Apparently, many people do not have a pool or one suitable for laps at their homes or condos. But having a pool for adult recreation or exercise is not a function of public schools.


I have never understood why there aren’t public pools in our parks. Not pools in water parks, not pools for competition, but just the kind of public pools that are so common in other parts of the country. They are expensive to build and maintain. Yet in Martin County they would be used all year round.

Every kid should be taught to swim. The only safe way to do so is in a pool. All the speakers here should be at the county commission meetings urging the construction of several community facilities.

It is amazing how many students are taking classes through Florida Virtual School (FLVS). A student who can’t make a class like driver’s ed fit into their schedule can do so online in the evening at home. A kid who is being home schooled needs Algebra, but their parents just can’t effectively teach it, so they end up taking the course from FLVS.

When a MCSD student takes a course, part of the student’s allotted Full Time Equivalent Funding goes to FLVS. Martin County considers full time as seven courses. If a class is a semester long, then 1/14 (0.0714) of the FTE would go to FLVS. If the student is taking the course after school which would be considered 8th Period, then the FTE would be calculated as 1/16 (.0062).

Last school year, there were 1940 FLVS segments. That translates into $318.62 per semester for each student that is paid out by the county. Last year it would have been the district losing $617,000.

FLVS will franchise courses to the district. Their charge is $43-$80 per segment depending on the course. By becoming a franchisee of FLVS, the district automatically benefits from the use of their training, platform, and curriculum. After paying the fee to FLVS for the three most signed up courses, the district would have had a net of $286,682.

The district would like to begin a pilot program this summer with the three most attended classes. They would need three part-time positions with a cost of $25,000. The board wants to vote on this at their next meeting.

With this and open enrollment, the district is beginning to embrace the market. While government is not a business, it still provides services that are susceptible to market conditions. If the district has a way to keep money here, we should embrace it.

The presentation can be found here

Town of Sewalls Point


Two people spoke during public comment regarding the procedure for securing grants.

I wish I understood why people are so agitated about this. I would understand the problem if, by accepting the grant, the town is obligated to any matches. I would understand if the purpose of the grant was for a project the commission had not approved. It doesn’t seem that any of this is happening.

It appears to me that some residents, and at times a few commissioners, just don’t want to have the issue of sewers, stormwater, or roads being raised. The collective mind of the community is not on board. Which leads to this perpetual argument about why grants aren’t better vetted.

Mayor Tompeck’s statement that some pressure should be put on the town engineer and grant consultant to find out about grants sooner illustrates my point. If I were a commissioner and I had a team continuously bringing in state and federal money to pay for these improvements that I voted to approve, I would be very happy. Unfortunately, that has not been the case consistently.

There are some residents who do not want sewers. There are some who don’t want to be forced to hook up. There are some that would hook up immediately if they could. And until all of this is resolved the acceptance of grants will be one of the fault lines.

The commission adopted a summer meeting schedule which you can find here 

Final Thoughts

The Loop

Once again, we will be discussing affordable housing in Stuart in the coming months.

And we will have all the same pro and con arguments that have been going on forever. The rent proposed will be too high. The location identified will not be in the right place. It will kill our small-town charm. Traffic will become even more horrendous.

When I look at Ocean from downtown to the bridge to Sewall’s Point, I don’t see quaint charm…I see many barely standing buildings. I see a school district that hasn’t done anything to help their employees, from bus drivers to teachers, have homes. I see a hospital that can’t staff their wards but won’t do anything about it either.

We hear county commissioners lament the fact that local children leave and won’t be back. That people do not have access to housing they can afford. Their own employees live everywhere but here.


And so, the “bleeding hearts” know that they can get some Stuart commissioners to agree to do something…anything…and then ultimately do nothing.


We postpone problems. We complain. We put it out of our minds for a while and then do nothing.

I am not so sure providing housing can be done on the local level. Stuart will have a hard time giving land, fees, and tax abatements. It is a city of 17,000 people. The city needs taxpayers.

Yet we are about to hear the debate again. And I will be very surprised if we do anything. The building will be too tall, too small, a vertical slum, it won’t really be affordable. The never-ending loop continues going round.

And I haven’t even mentioned the churches and the nonprofits and why are they missing in action on this important initiative.




Friends and Neighbors of Martin County is your eyes and ears so that you know what is going on in Martin County’s municipal and county governments. I attempt to be informative and timely so that you may understand how your tax money is being spent. Though I go to the meetings and report back, I am no substitute for your attending meetings. Your elected officials should know what is on your mind.

Tom Campenni 772-341-7455 (c) Email:


Tom’s Articles

From Medium

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"Republican Redux"


From Martin County Moments

"The Fair Still Has No Home Or Competent Leadership"


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The Capitolist: "The cost of owning condos in Florida soaring:


The New York Times: "The U.S. Economy Is Surpassing Expectation. Immigration Is On Reason."


The Economist: "The obesity capitals of the world"


The Washington Post: "Ever more undocumented Indian migrants follow ‘donkey’ route to America"


The Washington Post: "Ultra-processed foods linked to 32 health problems: What to know"


Florida Phoenix: "Florida conservation easements preserve land – until a developer needs it"


The New York Times: "Older Americans Should Get Another Covid Shot This Spring,C.D.C. Says"


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