August 6, 2023

Friends & Neighbors Edition

In this Edition


Before I retired, I was a very frequent flyer. I never really minded flying. I tried to go with the flow. When I do fly now, which is usually once a month, the flight is almost certainly delayed.

Except if we are going on vacation, my itinerary is from West Palm Beach to White Plains and back. As I have written before, we have an apartment in Connecticut which is 10 minutes from that airport. We are currently sitting in the White Plains Airport…once again delayed by 2.5 hours.  Polly and I were delayed on our arrival last week. We took off on time but because of thunderstorms we were diverted to Syracuse, NY to refuel after circling the White Plains airport. That was a 3-hour delay also.

I know you can’t predict weather, but today’s delay is not weather. For a 3pm departure I received notice of the delay last night at 1:30 am. Any guesses as to why? The airline said be there on time in case they make up for lost time.

For those who have never been to the White Plains Airport (call letters HPN), it is indescribable. It is small and there are more people standing (way more) than seated. People are pressed up against the loading gates, and when a flight is announced they surge forward regardless of row or zone. There is just nowhere for people to wait. The photo is of us getting ready to board.

How did an airport in one of the most affluent areas in the United States end up resembling something that even a third world nation would consider unacceptable? NIMBYism is not just for Martin County. The multi-million-dollar estates that surround this airport are afraid that if the terminal is somehow improved, it will mean more flights coming in and more disruption for them.

I don’t know why that would be the case if there was an agreement with the FAA, the county, and state not to have more flights. There is plenty of room on the existing property to expand. It is just one more thing that shows how much our country needs to do something about our infrastructure.

In the meantime, I will sit at the airport and write Friends & Neighbors.


This was a light period for government meetings.

That doesn’t mean that things have not gone on behind the scenes. In the next few months, we may see how the “Live Local Act” will affect our county. There are new budgets coming online. The revenue may not be enough to offset increases that the public and commissioners have been spending. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

At Friends & Neighbors we will continue to bring you what is going on in Martin County not only in government but in other areas of our lives. As you can see our Non-Profit Notice section is growing. If you are a non-profit send us your information and we will publish notices of your events or activity or who will be on your new board. We think it is important for the community to know about the generosity and unselfishness of those who give of their treasure, talent, and time.

Don’t forget to let us know how you we are doing by shooting us an email. If you want to be a columnist fill out the form and we can talk. Friends & Neighbors is your community forum. And make sure your friends, relatives, co-workers, and neighbors have signed up for their own copy of our digital publication.

Have a Good Sunday Morning.



In school, most Americans study history by reading a textbook. The key to understanding history is to look at as many contemporary texts, letters, and records available for the period being studied.

One of the most enjoyable experiences of my life was researching and then writing about Clement Clarke Moore. At one time, he owned a vast Manhattan estate that was named Chelsea, much of which was farmland in Manhattan during the 18th and very early 19th century. Moore’s father was an Episcopal clergyman and the president of Columbia College now University which Clement attended at the end of the 18th century. We know Moore as the author of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”


Clement Moore was a writer, scholar, land developer, lifelong member of the Episcopal Church and devoted family man. He inherited Chelsea from his parents who had inherited the land from his maternal grandmother. His parents also inherited four slaves. Slavery was legal in New York until 1827.

Moore deeded some of his property for a seminary. It is still located on 9th Avenue and 20th Street. I did much of my research in their library.

I mention the above because of the controversy over Florida’s new educational standards regarding the teaching of African American studies. Moore’s family were educated, landed, rich, civic minded, and owners of other human beings. They did not live in the deep south. There were no tobacco or cotton fields in Manhattan. Most of the country estate was orchards and pastures.

British Museum on Uplash

As an American institution, slavery was found throughout the British colonies and then the new United States. It was evil everywhere including in Florida which belonged to Spain before the U.S. Slavery cannot be justified even if a handful of slaves were allowed to learn a trade and then a few of that handful were given permission by their owners to do odd jobs for other White families and keep a little of their earnings.

There was no good side or unintentional benefit to being the human property of someone else even if you became a French-trained chef as James Hemmings did while owned by Thomas Jefferson. Slaves were subject to beatings, being maimed, and raped by their owners. What I stated were facts. That is what should be taught, not drawing a moral equivalency, or looking for the silver lining in an evil institution.

At no time nor at any place was slavery right or ethical. A few fortunate slaves learned a craft out of the millions of slaves that did not learn any skill even how to read or sign their own name. A name which could only be bestowed after master’s approval. Nothing in the institution should be equated to the enslaved having received some benefit from slavery.

Politics has no place in the teaching of history. History is composed of facts. Teach the facts and the facts alone. There is no need to try and justify any behavior through tortured logic. The truth will speak for itself.

As Published In Medium



There is a project moving forward that will bring 90 units of housing to the Palm City CRA which will be located on Martin Highway. Commissioner Ed Ciampi, who has made speeches about having more housing, especially affordable housing, has a plan to block this development by having the county buy the land for a price of $4 million I heard. That is NIMBYism at its finest.

The Palm City Chamber of Commerce is backing the proposal. The Chamber is the organization that is supposedly there to help business develop and prosper. What could be better for business than a couple of hundred new residents to buy products and services from the merchants of Palm City?

Ciampi realizes that he can’t stop it by trying to prevent a legal development from occurring on land that is owned by the private sector. Instead, he wants to use our tax dollars to stop a development that is moving forward as prescribed by the codes and comp plan in Martin County.  

This is not affordable or workforce housing. But to a great degree the price of housing is so high is because there isn't enough of it. To have the same number of units built as single-family homes would equire 35 or 40 acres at the least. The cost of which is far more expensive for a family to occupy than an apartment.This is illogical and Ciampi is following and not leading his constiuents. 

If I were one of his fellow commissioners, I would give it all the importance it deserves…none. What he thinks the county should do with the property once acquired is still a mystery, but I have heard perhaps a dog park. The property has no ecological significance. This is illogical and that thinking has resulted in what Palm City has instead of Costco…a Tractor Supply and Wawa.

This may be a terribly designed project. It isn't the point. Our commissioners cannot go around claiming to want housing and then block people from doing so in areas that are in the CRA and on a four lane highway. If this project is not up to our code or needs a zoning change then it is easy for the commission to vote no.  

I am becoming more and more convinced that Tallahassee is not through taking away land use decisions from local government. Actions like Ciampi proposes just make it more likely that there will be further erosion of home rule. Perhaps he sincerely believes this action is justified. To me it smacks of NIMBYism that has after all resulted in not enough housing.  



The Martin County Fair Board has announced that it has hired a new director, Kasey Ingram Mullen.

Kasey has been a local fixture for quite some time. She first came to prominence as the leader of Not All Aboard Florida, the opposition to the passenger train from Miami to Orlando that was then known as All Aboard Florida and now Brightline. She is also the host of a radio show on 1450 AM.

Whether the new director will have better luck than her predecessor, Jay Spicer, is an open question. It all comes down to fundraising to make the dream come true. So far, it hasn’t been very successful.

The move to the Indiantown location is needed. Stuart has not fit the needs of the Martin County Fair for some time. The property is too small and yet too valuable to be fallow for most of the year.

The plan for Indiantown has always been grandiose for little Martin County. It will be called Agriplex of the Treasure Coast. A few ancillary ideas that are currently on the fair’s website for the future site include a farm, museum, and Motorcross track. So far there hasn’t been enough money raised even to fulfil the terms of signing a lease with the county.

What Kasey does have that Jay never did was more political reach. I am betting the commissioners will cut her some slack and, in a 2024 election year, rabbits could be pulled out of the hat.

Ultimately it will come down to whether the commission wants to commit more time and money to a private entity. It would be just easier to have the county build and run the physical plant and let the fair board lease the property for the month that the fair takes place. The plans for equestrian centers, museums, and all the rest will never come to fruition. There are too many components that have nothing to do with a county fair.

I would like to offer Kasey and the board an opportunity to be a monthly contributor at Friends & Neighbors to keep our readers informed as to their plans and progress. This could be one way to maintain their plans in the eye of the public. As I have said and firmly believe, I don’t have to agree with an organization or person to have them contribute to Friends & Neighbors. The more information the readers have the better they are at making their decisions.

VanRiper's Views

Darlene VanRiper

I went to the christening of the Kiplinger Conservancy located in Palm City on Citrus Blvd. 

The directions were “…just after the Airstream, near Boatramp”.  Having no sense of direction and not having left my house without my GPS since the thing was invented, I ventured forth on my quest.  I found it! 

This land, (complete with cow patties, I stepped in one, I think we all did), was owned for 40 years by the Kiplinger family and was once used for agriculture.  So, there was minimal disturbance in order to bring the public 1000 acres of trails on which to bike, hike, stroll or horseback ride.  

The Conservancy, nearly twice the size of Halpatiokee Park, will be dotted with informational signs along the trails describing the flora and fauna.  It will be the home of the 1st Gopher Tortoise preserve in Martin County.  Mr. Kiplinger envisions bull fields and “Cracker Cattle” which were the original cattle brought over by the Spanish explorers. 

There will be a farmer’s market opening in about a month.  They only have to reinforce the parking lot and this acreage will be available to the public in perpetuity.  That’s right. And at NO cost to the taxpayer!  The nearby development to be built, Newfield a mixed-use plan with a town center, will pay for the maintenance...always. 

If you want to buy in Newfield, a fee for the maintenance of the public Conservancy is part of the contract.   Conservation just doesn’t get better than that.  This plan was first presented to the Martin County Commission six years ago.  It’s been “a very long road of many steps” according to Mr. Kiplinger.   The ground breaking for Newfield is anticipated to happen in the first part of 2024. 


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

Hafner's Corner

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

Creative land developments like Newfield and Atlantic Fields might be what is needed to preserve agriculture in highly sought after areas across Florida.

I am an agriculturalist and selfishly I do not want to see any agricultural lands developed. Instead of seeing homes and shopping centers popping up, I want to see cows grazing, green rows rising, and citrus blooming. But I also recognize there is a cost that farmers and ranchers pay to keep their businesses open. Those beautiful views we see as we drive through rural areas mask a lot of hardship due to regulation, foreign competition, and increasing expenses. Due to those costs, sometimes farmers need to sell some of their land to pay bills, make repairs, or buy new supplies or seeds. Sometimes they need to sell to save the rest of the farm.

April 10, 2018, I was introduced to a new style of development when I attended a presentation by Knight Kiplinger at Ground Floor Farm (now Colab Kitchen). Mr. Kiplinger unveiled before us a plan for his 3,400 acres of land located just outside the urban services boundary in Palm City Farms. He called his plan Pineland Prairie. Kiplinger’s plan called for a higher density development than what was currently allowed. In exchange he would set aside land as agricultural and environmental easements. In essence the same number of homes would be built, he just wanted to build them on a smaller footprint so that larger chunks of land could be left untouched.

Long story short, Mr. Kiplinger’s project was approved, and now Pineland Prairie is known by a new name- Newfield. In May of this year Newfield announced a new endeavor that was part of the presentation and promised in 2018. Newfield dedicated 170 acres to agriculture. Crops were planted at Newfield Farm and their first harvest began in June. This land that was dedicated to agriculture was already being farmed so the land use did not change, and no native land was lost.

Another promise kept came just a couple of weeks ago when Mr. Kiplinger unveiled KC Trails. KC Trails is part of the Kiplinger Conservancy which is about 1,000 acres of preserved, maintained Florida flora and fauna. Soon KC Trails will open to equestrians, hikers, and birdwatchers so they can enjoy a piece of native Florida the way it once was while staying a short drive from home.

Just as Knight Kiplinger has kept true to his word on his project, I also expect to see the same from Tom Hurley, Atlantic Fields, and the agricultural uses and green spaces that are promised in their project. And through these promises kept and land developed, land will be set aside for agriculture and the environment in perpetuity.

The alternative was to keep the land uses the same, to spread the development out over larger areas, for the land to be divided, cleared, and fenced, and for the agricultural uses and native vegetation to be, by and large, snuffed out. Given the two options, I am glad Kiplinger and Hurley found creative ways to put farming and the environment in their plans. I hope other developments will follow this template.

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

Non-Profit Perspective

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

Need A Lyft?

The beginning of September, United Way will be celebrating the official start of the second year of the Ride United Program.  For many locals, transportation is not always easy to find. As an organization looking to fill unmet needs in our community, we are excited to continue this program to assist those who have transportation barriers. 

This rideshare program will serve as a resource to Martin County residents with limited access to transportation to get to and from essential appointments. The program covers the cost of Lyft rides of up to $25 each way. We are working with many community partners to assist our residents of Martin County.

During our first year, we have assisted veterans, the homeless, children, seniors and families by getting them to and from doctor appointments, legal appointments and even the bus station.

The program is open to anyone needing assistance with transporation for health appointments, employment opportunities, procurement of food, educational, legal, housing or economic stability appointments.

To date, we have provided over 125 round trip rides to individuals needing assistance.  Whether it was a child needing to see the dentist, a senior who no longer drives needing to get to their doctor’s appointment, or a disabled veteran needing groceries, this program was there to assist.  

We currently are expanding the program to include many more community partners.  Our goal is to assist anyone that needs assistance with transportation.  While this program can not be the long term solution for any one individual, it is there to help the people in our community during critical times.

The Ride United program is one example of how a local United Way is leveraging grant dollars with local dollars to continue to address an issue that is so pressing in Martin County.  Our goal is to remove barriers for people, one issue at a time. 

As always, if you have questions or need more information about Ride United or United Way of Martin County, please feel free to reach out to me at 772-283-4800, via email, or our website,

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

Contemplative Christian

Chad Fair
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Pastor

Hotter Than the Hinges on the Gates of Hell

Our family recently took a trip to Texas for vacation and to visit family. 

We did all the Texas things, ate BBQ, went to a cattle drive, watched a rodeo and roasted in 107-degree temperatures…IN THE SHADE!!!!  The local weatherman broke down the temperature in the shade and the temperature in the sun.  107 versus 124, but it was a dry heat as if dry heat isn’t hot. 

I will say the heat felt different there.  Here in Florida, we boil in the thick humid air.  In Texas we didn’t boil, we roasted.  It was almost like you could feel your skin cooking under the hot Texas sun. 

It’s ok, you can keep reading this article isn’t about climate change or boiling Atlantic waters affecting our coral reefs or even the increased potential for major hurricanes.  It’s far too hot to debate that stuff but walking to the corner BBQ joint does give you time to ponder. 

By the way, it’s totally fair to question my sanity for walking anywhere in temperatures that high, but I do believe that life is about experiences.  Our experiences shape us, both the good ones and the bad ones.  So, when the opportunity to experience something new arises, I try to take advantage and gain a new perspective.     

One thought that I couldn’t escape while spending time in the Dallas area was the incredible sorrow, I felt for the homeless population in the midst of the intense summer heat.  I’m involved with various organizations here on the Treasure Coast that are doing amazing work to aid our homeless population but when you can’t escape the extreme temperatures even in the shade, it does, or should tug at your heart strings.  What’s worse?  We do have the ability to eradicate homelessness in this country if we really want to.  It’s just easier to ignore it. 


Another pondering while taking our stroll in the scorching heat; exactly how hot is hell?  Of course, there are many different views and descriptions of hell.  I’m using the more cartoonish version of hot boiling cauldrons and fire.  If 124 degrees in the sun isn’t hell on earth, then what exactly does hell feel like?  (I know it’s a bizarre stream of consciousness to think about how hot hell is while walking in the heat to a BBQ joint.  Maybe I suspected the amount of meat I was about to eat was going to test my mortality.) 

Then I pivoted my thought to Jesus on the cross and the shade that is provided by the crucifixion.  His outstretched arms provide the shade that provides respite from the flaming temperatures of hell.  Whether your view of hell is the cartoonish flaming underworld or a more theological definition, the separation from God; Jesus’ outstretched arms provide the respite we need. 

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

Water Corner

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

The current State Of The Lake: 63% of it is algae-covered; the current lake level is a too-high-for-comfort 15 feet (but would have to rise to 16.5 feet before discharges down the St. Lucie Canal would start), and there is some, but not much, algae in the canal east of the Port Mayaka Lock (it comes through during boat passages). 

The most alarming thing: A comment by Florida Audubon’s Dr. Paul Gray, who monitors the lake extremely closely. While we have all been concerned by the loss of seagrass in the St. Lucie Estuary, Dr. Gray reported a huge loss of aquatic growth in the lake. That growth, primarily eelgrass, supports marine life, and the aquatic-growth cover has fallen from an average of 40,000 acres to only 3,000. The potential impact on, among other things, the lake’s legendary bass population is alarming.

The guest speaker was Dan Egan, who wrote the July 10th front-page New York Times article the ongoing threats to Stuart and the St. Lucie Estuary from the algae-laden discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Most of his comments, though, were on big-picture things such as the dangers of phosphorous, which is overused as a fertilizer and promotes algae growth when it gets into the water afterwards: “It’s magic on crops but disastrous in the water”. Then, in the “If You Think We’ve Got Trouble Department”, he noted the biggest algae problem in the country is a huge annual bloom in western Lake Erie; a particularly nasty strain in 2014 made it impossible for the residents of Toledo to come in contact with their tap water, let alone drink it, for three days. 

Finally, Lt. Col. Polk, who has represented the Army Corps of Engineers at these meetings for years, is retiring. His departure is worth s comment; in days of yore, Rivers Coalition members viewed the Corps as Villain #1, but Col. Polk’s willingness to listen to criticisms and then work with his colleagues to address them has changed the relationship to a much friendlier, more positive one. Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch once remarked that there has been a cultural shift at the Corps leading to that much more positive and beneficial relationship with environmental advocates, and Col. Polk is a large reason behind this change. Essayons, sir; you will be missed. 


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

Business Development Board

Joan Goodrich
Business Development Board of Martin County, CEO

It’s well known that Martin County residents prioritize our community’s quality of life and organize to preserve it. This collective characteristic is in many ways rightly credited with what makes us distinct by design.

Many citizen-led organizations participate in this process, which entails scrutiny and even a little skepticism but almost always a sincere smile and fair shake. So, when the Martin County Taxpayers Association (MCTA)—a local institution in watchdogging public agencies—invited us to speak at its recent annual luncheon, we gratefully embraced the chance.

The opportunity did, however, come with one string attached: We had to open for Sheriff William Snyder, an inspiring speaker in a far more interesting line of work than ours.

As one of the oldest (if not the oldest) organizations of its kind in Florida, MCTA works to protect taxpayers’ rights and monitors legal and legislative developments that impact residents’ pocketbooks and businesses’ bottom lines. MCTA’s position toward economic development—specifically its support of “tax and economic development incentives to attract investment and stimulate job growth”—resonates nicely with our core mission of helping existing and expanding businesses.

From generalized services such as business advocacy to specific ones such as site selection and market research/business intelligence tailored to individual industries, the Business Development Board of Martin County employs a multitiered strategy to long-term economic strength. That includes cultivating entrepreneurs and forging partnerships to advance local talent while bolstering growth in our Hubs of Excellence such as aviation-aerospace, marine, agri-business, healthcare, IT and clean tech.

Some results take time to blossom, others are measurable now. We provided specifics to MCTA on our success in attracting direct capital investments exceeding $125 million, assisting in the creation or retention of 294 jobs and impacting nearly 1 million square feet of commercial real estate. We even teased (more details to come) announcements of an international company’s incoming North American headquarters alongside other exciting new investments and acquisitions.

We also appreciated the chance to address our overall budget and spending, share more about our campaign to attract private investors, and discuss the broad representation of our board of directors.

The BDB is committed to transparency—without which we would never have earned unanimous support by the Martin County Commission for a 10-year contract for services.

Our adherence to this principle is why we value the roles of MCTA and other likeminded organizations, which inform the public, uphold accountability and produce outcomes that benefit everyone. Best of all, their contribution speaks to the shared recognition and responsibility that animates our motto and sincere belief that, “A stronger economy is everyone’s business.”

Thank you, MCTA, for your essential role in building up our economic resiliency which provides for the high quality of life and services we desire for our families and businesses.

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

Anne's Assessment

Anne Posey
Tykes & Teens, CEO

Back to School is upon us!  As parents, we can set our children up for success by ensuring we are prepared.

Parents and youth are getting ready to jump back into the day-to-day routine around school after experiencing a more laid-back time in the summer.  For youth with mental health challenges, understanding routine and knowing what to expect is very important to their success.

  • Set up a routine a couple of weeks before school starts.  Now is the time to ensure kids are getting to bed at a reasonable time and starting to get them up at the time they will need to rise during the school year.  This will make certain that the first week of school is much less stressful.
  • Pick out a week’s worth of clothing with your child and place the items in bins labeled by day of the week to ease decision making each morning.  The less decisions, the less anxiety.
  • Work with your child’s treatment team to identify calm grounding techniques they can use when anxious and practice these techniques with them each day during the lead up to school.  These can be breathing or mindfulness activities that they may already be using in therapy.
  • Be sure to identify a “safe” staff member at school that your child can approach when anxious or upset.  This could be their teacher or school counselor.  Practice with them how and when to approach them.
  • If difficulty with separation, consider a transitional object such as a family picture they can take with them to school.
  • As parents, recognize our own anxiety and try to use techniques to manage that anxiety so we don’t pass it on to our children.  Children are little sponges and absorb the emotions around them.

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy and happy Back to School week!

Anne Posey’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Humane Society of the Treasure Coast

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

Animal shelters across South Florida are all over capacity due to increased intake of animals and the decrease in adoption numbers. According to Best Friends Animal Society, there are 100,000 more pets in animal shelters nationwide than there were in 2022. This number is rising each day.  


The Humane Society of the Treasure Coast (HSTC) is currently caring for over 400 animals, 150 of which are available for adoption. Many animals are housed in the back, away from the visitor’s views, due to the lack of space. It’s important that potential adopters know to view all pets on our website at, as some animals may not be able to be physically seen on the adoption floor.

Our humane society has had an influx of all animal types – from purebred animals to puppies, kittens and baby bunnies. No matter the cuteness or the breed, these animals are all sitting in the shelter longer than they need to. We offer daily discounts and adoption specials including special adoption fees for seniors and veterans.

The animals at our shelter are all spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped before becoming available for adoption. We strive to set up the animals and the adopters for success the moment they leave our shelter. Any animal over seven years old has a waived adoption fee so that the new owner can focus those extra funds on the pets’ needs further down the road.

We are hoping that our community of supporters and pet lovers will consider taking just one animal into their home, whether it’s temporary as a “lack of space” foster or a permanent and loving, adoptive home. In addition, we are always searching for new rescue and shelter partners who can assist us with transports in times of need. In return, we would be able to take in their animals when space allows. One animal leaving our shelter means one more we are able to save.

If you are looking for a companion that will provide endless loyalty and love - the time is now! Our humane society has an entire shelter full of homeless and deserving animals that are just waiting for a family. If you can’t adopt or foster, please spread the word or consider donating to support the animals in our care.

You can view all adoptable pets and learn about our services on our website at Please also feel free to visit our shelter Monday – Saturday: 10am-5pm or Sundays: 10am-4pm at 4100 SW Leighton Farm Ave, Palm City, FL 34990. The animals can’t wait to meet you!

Frank Valenti’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.

Helping Hand

Suzy Hutcheson
Helping People Succeed, CEO

Dreams Can Come True!

Helping People Succeed experiences success on a daily basis as we assist people realize that their dreams can come true. The story you are about to read is the result of difficulty, hard work and collaboration with a truly successful outcome.

Helping People Succeed transforms lives by realizing potential, creating hope, and building futures through education, counseling, training, and employment. In the case of the Zackery family, this mission statement holds steadfast and true. Tameka Zackery is a single mother to our client, 14-year-old David, and two adult children. She is also a proud grandmother of two. Tameka is a dedicated hard worker as a full-time electronic processer at a local credit union here in the local community. The road that led her to Helping People Succeed includes her life experiences with homelessness, divorce, and caring for her son, David who has Epilepsy and is on the Autism Spectrum.

By utilizing the resources available to us, our case manager assigned to the Zachery family, was able to link them to a community program sponsored by Habitat for Humanity of St. Lucie County. Tameka Zackery and her son David were made aware of the application process for a new home with the program in June of 2022. Throughout the difficult challenges this family endured, Tameka remained optimistic and committed to the application process, as she knew this would change their lives forever if chosen.  Through a rigorous selection process, assisted by Helping People Succeed staff, Tameka and David were finally selected for a new home in Nov. 2022.

Tameka was required to attend training seminars and completion of 300 required hours of “sweat equity” volunteering. These stringent requirements needed to be met to qualify and move into her new home.  Helping People Succeed assisted her throughout this process and with a dedicated team was able to contribute to her sweat equity hours by painting her home.

Additionally, with finances being a barrier for home ownership, Helping People Succeed donated $2,500. With this donation, Tameka was able to meet her obligation and provide the mortgage company with the closing costs for her new home. Tameka’s home dedication was on 7/15/23 and she closed on her home on 7/19/23.

Since moving into her new home, Tameka has made a giant leap forward with the stability of owning a new home that will give her and David a sense of belonging and a sense of community. Tameka expressed “there will be less stress, more peace and something to pass on to David”. More importantly, having their own home will open the doors to the delivery of medical and therapeutic home services which are available for her son. This was not possible with her previous living arrangements and residence.

Tameka stated that there are no easy words to describe the joy and gratitude she has for being accepted as a new Homeowner with the St. Lucie Habitat for Humanity program in collaboration with Helping People Succeed.

Congratulations and thanks to Behavioral Health Services professionals Kimberly Cittadino, Christina Porto, Janet Cooper, and the professionals who never stop believing in dreams.

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

Keep Martin Beautiful

Tiffany Kincaid
Keep Martin Beautiful, Executive Director

The Beaches Are Calling! It’s Time for the Annual International Coastal Cleanup

Here’s a math problem for you: How many volunteers does it take to clean and remove trash from hundreds of beaches and waterways in Martin County in one morning in September?

The answer: thousands! Fortunately for our environment, each year Martin County residents come out in record numbers for the International Coastal Cleanup. This year it’s scheduled for September 16.

The International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) is a worldwide event that brings together massive numbers of volunteers from around the world in a unified effort to remove trash from beaches, parks and waterways – all on the same day.

The result? A cleaner and healthier coastline for people and marine life and an increased awareness of the actions people can take to protect the land and water we love.

The global Coastal Cleanup event has impressive numbers to share: over 35 years, 17 million volunteers have picked up 348 million pounds of litter and marine debris. Last year alone, volunteers collected 1.1 million food wrappers; over a million cigarette butts; over 849,000 plastic bottles, and over 515,000 plastic bags.

That’s good news, right? But the bad news is that the beaches and waterways are once again littered and in need of our help.

Keep Martin Beautiful is the local coordinator for this worldwide event and has already begun recruiting volunteers. You can be part of the action! We have a big list of available coastal and river cleanup sites and lots of supplies for individuals, families, or groups who want to volunteer. We ask that volunteers register in advance and choose a location so we can keep track of our community’s efforts.

As our volunteers collect trash and litter, they are encouraged to download the user-friendly http://CleanSwell™ app. This app makes it easy to track the litter that’s collected and then share it to a global database used by scientists at the Ocean Conservancy to analyze patterns across the world.

What Volunteers Need to Know

  • The coastal cleanup targets beaches, waterways, and parks throughout Martin County.
  • Pre-registration is required to ensure volunteers are assigned to areas most in need.
  • Volunteers should wear protective clothing and closed toe shoes.
  • Participants will be provided with cleanup supplies and a T-shirt (while supplies last).
  • A unique data-gathering feature of this cleanup records every piece of litter collected. Volunteers can download the Clean Swell® App or request paper data cards through preregistration.

The International Coastal Cleanup is also a great way for businesses and organizations to show their support of environmental stewardship in Martin County by becoming a sponsor. Sponsors receive significant exposure through our social media platforms, digital marketing and promotion of the event, as well as inclusion of their logo on volunteer T-shirts.

For more info on how to be a part of this “think global, act local” event, go to

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

Art of Business

Chriss David
Founder, Chriss David and Associates

Unlocking Success in the Digital Age: 5 Must-Know Tech Trends for Small Business Owners

Navigating the digital landscape has become a fundamental aspect of running a successful business. As technology evolves, it becomes crucial for small business owners to understand and adapt to these changes. In this article, we’ll explore the role of Artificial Intelligence in everyday business operations, the shift to remote working, the relevance of influencer marketing and social media advertising, and the importance of online directories, maps, and business profiles for brand awareness.

Firstly, let's discuss Artificial Intelligence (AI). Think of AI as your intelligent assistant who never sleeps. AI tools can automate mundane tasks, improve efficiency, and offer insights humans might overlook. Whether it's chatbots for customer service, predictive analysis for inventory management, or automation of administrative tasks, AI is enhancing productivity and freeing up time for business owners to focus on strategic tasks. And the good news? AI technology is no longer exclusive to big tech companies; cloud-based services have made it accessible for small businesses as well.

Next, we address remote working, an arrangement fast becoming the new norm. COVID-19 acted as a catalyst, transforming where and how we work. For businesses, pivoting to remote work has meant investing in the right tools to facilitate communication, collaboration, and project management. Moreover, it has highlighted the need for cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive data. As we move forward, the hybrid model - a blend of in-office and remote work - is likely to prevail, offering employees flexibility and saving operational costs for businesses.

Thirdly, influencer marketing and social media advertising are two sides of the same coin. Influencer marketing will continue to be a powerful tool but with a twist. Instead of broad celebrity endorsements, there's a shift towards 'micro-influencers' - people with a solid following in niche areas. Their genuine connection with their audience makes their promotion of products more authentic and effective.

Simultaneously, social media advertising is growing at an unprecedented rate. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn offer businesses - large or small - the chance to target potential customers based on their interests, behaviors, and demographics. The ROI for social media advertising can be significant if the campaigns are well-planned and executed.

Lastly, leveraging existing online directories like Google and Bing for brand awareness can't be overstated. Think of it as your business's online business card. Listing your business on these platforms helps improve your visibility on the internet. It's a simple and effective way to make your business findable to your local customers, improve your SEO ranking, and attract reviews, thereby enhancing credibility.

In conclusion, the ongoing evolution of technology presents a plethora of opportunities for small businesses. AI simplifies complex tasks; remote working opens the global talent pool; influencer marketing and social media advertising offer cost-effective ways to reach customers, and online directories serve as digital billboards for your business. Staying informed and adaptable to these trends is not just a survival strategy but a gateway to thriving in this digital age.

Have questions or topics regarding your small business or starting a business that you would like answered? Send them to Tom’s email referencing this column.

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

Constitutional Corner & Non Profit Notices


Supervisor of Elections


Tax Collector


Property Appraiser

Learn How a Calamity Can Affect Your Property Taxes

Recent legislation was passed that allows a prorated refund of property taxes if a calamity has caused your home to be deemed uninhabitable after January 1, 2023. To be eligible, you would need to apply for this refund in the year following the calamity. To learn more, watch our newest educational video using the following link here or clicking the photo above.   If you have questions, please call our office at (772) 288-5608.

Martin County Clerk & Comptroller


Non Profit Notices


ARC Treasure Coast Summer Camps Not Just Fun & Games

Summer has long been thought of as a carefree time for kids, a season for fun in the sun and endless opportunities for trivial pursuits. Of course, ARC of the Treasure Coast summer camps includes all of the above; however, they offer so much more for young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

While campers are swimming twice a week at the YMCA and bowling weekly, they are not only having fun like most other kids, but they are also working on developing and honing their motor skills. Three-year-olds just starting out up to young adults aged 22 enjoy activities based on their personal intellectual and developmental skill levels


Campers at both the St. Lucie County and Martin County camps go on field trips to places like Lion Country Safari, the West Palm Beach Zoo, Ox Bow Eco-Center, and the Loggerhead Marine Center. They also explore the Science Museum, take in a METS baseball game, and enjoy a lazy Lagoon River Boat Ride. Sounds like a great mix of summer fun.

These events not only support building and improving motor abilities but also social skills. Trips to the library and opportunities to create unique arts and crafts work to improve intellectual abilities. All the activities provide endless amounts of fun for the kids and numerous benefits to parents.

The camp opens on the first day of summer break and stays open until the last day of summer break. So, parents can continue to work throughout the summer. Every parent understands what a gift it is to know your child is not only having fun and being taken care of but also learning and exploring and improving every day.

ARC of the Treasure Coast takes a holistic approach to summer camp. It all starts with a good blend of fun and peer engagement, sprinkling in the right amount of education to inspire intellectual progress, adding a good portion of developmental dexterity building in the pool and on the playground, and topping it off with the perfect portion of imagination time on movie days.

Most of ARC of the Treasure Coast programs are funded by the Children’s Services Council of Martin County and St. Lucie County, as well as donations from our charitable sponsors and generous community partners who make up a large portion of the overall program budget. We cannot thank them enough for all of their contributions and we look forward to their continued support all year round. Their kindness brings joy and happiness to our campers.

While these young people face certain challenges, they are truly blessed to have a summer camp experience full of fun and learning provided by ARC of the Treasure Coast, where the programs are “Inspiring Success through a Lifetime of Achievements!”

To learn more about all ARC programs visit


Summer Salon’s Smash Opening at Martin Artisan’s Guild

By Jackie Holfelder

The Martin Artisans Guild hosted the opening of the sixth annual Summer Salon, as well as the beginning of their third year in the current location with a smashingly successful soiree on July 5. The exhibit features 24 of the Guild’s artists with 48 originals in the main gallery. 

Sue Klahne and Dinja Berkien

A crowd of more than 125 people attended, enjoying the new artworks, appetizers, music and a cash bar. 

There were four red dots by the end of the evening, meaning four sales by Guild artists. It was a super way to kick off another year at the Palm Room Art Gallery and Artisans Boutique at 3746 SE Ocean, Harbour Bay Plaza, Stuart.

To learn more, visit

Photos by Danuta Rothschild



Family Promise and Career Connect Have First Success Story

By Jackie Holfelder

Stuart/Martin County Chamber of Commerce new Career Connect program and Family Promise of Martin County are a match made in heaven.

In January of 2022, the Chamber launched Career Connect Martin. The program supports both job seekers and employers: potential employees learn new skills and potential employers are introduced to non-traditional pipelines.

After a stunning success rate its first year, the Martin Chamber Foundation was established in May, 2023 to ensure that future funding for Career Connect Martin is secure.

With its template that provides residents who live in underserved areas of Martin County the opportunity for individualized job training and programs that will help them secure employment, the organization is a perfect collaborating partner for Family Promise of Martin County.

The mission of Family Promise of Martin County, a non-profit, interfaith hospitality network, is to provide temporary shelter, housing, caring support, meals and a host of social services for working families with children experiencing homelessness. Of course, stable employment is the glue that holds these other parts together. Family Promise offers training and provides guidance and contacts to help the families it serves as they navigate that search.

Recently, the first success story from the Career Connect Martin/Family Promise partnership was announced. Unique, a Family Promise client and single mom who is extremely motivated to be successful in a career, started a job as a trial employee at Guaranteed Garage Repair in Stuart. After overcoming that hurdle, she is now working full-time as an administrative assistant, making $18-plus an hour and learning new skills that will enhance her resume for the future. Unique and her sons are on the road to financial independence and security.

She says, “I have absolute gratitude for the opportunities that were provided by Family Promise. This organization has helped my family in so many ways. One was the way in which I was introduced to Career Connect with such promising results. With their resources I landed in my career at Guaranteed Garage Doors & Repair. I am happy where I'm working. These angels God had placed in my life was exactly what my family needed. I don't believe it was luck. My family and I are truly blessed.”

To learn more about Family Promise of Martin County, visit


Helping People Succeed’s Annual Meeting Celebrates Successful Year

By Jackie Holfelder

The annual meeting of Helping People Succeed is always filled with business, good news and recognition of key people who have continued to make the nonprofit the vital organization it has been for more than half a century.

This year’s June 28 version was no exception. Suzy Hutcheson, President/CEO, provided details of a successful year and the accomplishments of the Baby Steps, Behavioral Health Services, Community Connections and Employment Options, Healthy Families programs as well as the Administrative, Fiscal and Technology departments and the work of the Helping People Succeed Foundation.

A new Governing Board of Directors was approved.

•              Chair – Heidi Bosley

•              Vice Chair – Michael Borlaug

•              Secretary – Rosie Portera

•              Treasurer – Tom Campenni

•              Members – Candie Abbott, David Dees, Allen Herskowitz, Leah Suarez

A new Foundation Board of Directors, the nonprofit’s fundraising arm was also approved.

•              Chair – Claire Nash

•              Vice Chair – Jessica Roberts

•              Secretary – Marian Vitale

•              Treasurer – Dale Forbes

•              Members – Mary Rose Bressman, Tom Campenni, Bonney Johnson, Beth Prinz, Stacy Ranieri, Kathryn Strauss

Helping People Succeed recognized several community members for their outstanding service and support.

•              Bill Lichtenberger was the recipient of the Tom Warner Advocacy Award, given to an individual who embodies the same love of family, God and community as did Warner – a staunch supporter of Helping People Succeed. The award will be formally presented at the annual Pinot & Picasso fundraiser. Tom’s wife, Martha, was present at the meeting.

•              Bonney Johnson for her support through the William and Helen Thomas Charitable Trust.

•              Carolyn Timmann, Martin County Clerk of the Court and her staff for their support.

•              Mary Kay Buckridge, Marlee Matheson and Robin Makowski for the founding of the Art for Living Calendar.

•              Ann Berner, President of the Southeast Florida Behavioral Health Network, for her support of our mental health programs.

•              Dan Mackin and Craig Kinston for their creation of White Shirt Night.

•              Outgoing Foundation Board Member Lee Borellis, Outgoing Governing Board Member Bonney Johnson and former chairs of both boards Mary Rose Bressman and Jenny Yingling.


To learn more about Helping People Succeed and its programs and services, visit

Photos by Glenna Parris


Kitty Catalina Wine Mixer

Date: Friday, September 8th, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Location: Humane Society of the Treasure Coast, Memorial Garden, 4100 SW Leighton Farm Avenue, Palm City, FL 34990

Details: The 2023 Kitty Catalina Wine Mixer will take place the evening of September 8th at the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast, Memorial Garden, 4100 SW Leighton Farm Avenue, Palm City, FL 34990. Attendees will get to mingle with friends and some famous felines and sample delicious wines from local Florida wineries. They will be able to listen to live music while strolling the gardens, tasting light bites and mingling with friends (people and pet!).

Learn more at

Thank you to our generous sponsors!

O'Donnell Impact Window & Storm Protection

Apex Pavers & Pools See less






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.

Keith Muniz Of The ARC

ARC of the Treasure Coast Thanks Two Local Lawmakers for Funding

Americans have collectively felt the pain of inflation this year. Non-profits are no different. It’s been tough securing funds for ARC of the Treasure Coast.

But thanks to the help of two very special state legislators our 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization was able to secure $750,000 for two WAIBLE homes.

Senator Gayle Harrell of District 31 represents Martin County and portions of St. Lucie and Palm Beach counties. Rep. Dana Trabulsy serves the residents of Fort Pierce in District 84.

Both lawmakers were instrumental in helping ARC secure these funds for WAIBLE also known as Women’s Accessible Intensive Behavioral Living Environment.

These homes are for women with intellectual and developmental disabilities who need long-term care that can provide intensive behavioral programming within a structured home environment.

The funds we received will go toward modifying two homes currently owned by ARC, so that individuals residing in the homes will be able to age in place long term. Funds will also assist with hiring, training, and certifying behavior professionals and purchasing various equipment used for mobility and therapeutic purposes the residents will require.

Advocates for the Rights of the Challenged, is a private, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit dedicated to empowering children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to achieve their fullest potential.

Thank you, Sen. Harrell, Rep. Trabulsy, and the Legislative Budget Committee for your support.

Now the ARC of the Treasure Coast will be able to provide these women in our care with a place to live, in a safe and structured environment.


From Tom Hannon

I don’t see anything in the article as it relates to the windfall that the county has received through increased property values over the past few years and how they use that to offset having to increase our tax base. Is that something you’ll be covering? Thanks I really look forward to reading these all of Psalm. Yes articles. 

Tom the only reason the tax increase was not more was because of the increased values due to a great greal estate market. Otherwise the county's General Fund would have increased substantially more     Tom Campenni


From Julia Kelly

Thank you for sharing. The “tree issue”(Sewall's Point)  I find most intriguing.

I suggested we teach folks

towns folk new and ancient the benefits to maintain ourHabitate and wild life.

Native tree giveaways, prizes for yearly sucess. Boom. Whaddaya think?


Althea Redway

Mr. Campenni:

Thanks ever so much.  Appreciate it.  They are having a meeting on Wed 7/26 stating they received an additional $2,000,000.00 in grant for Port Salerno.  WOW, amazing, I guess the out cry from the Petition which started June 15 and then Jennifer speaking at the Commissioners meeting June 20 miraculously appeared this additional grant.  MAKES US WONDER.........

Blessings and thanks for your continued community support.

Martin County

The next meeting will be August 8, 2021


City of Stuart


It is not unusual for this first pass at a budget by the manager and finance director to be out of balance, and this one is no exception.

Expenses always exceed revenues. This year the overage is about $1.5 million out of a total budget amount of over $93 million. Not dire nor unexpected. 

Final revenue figures are not in yet from the state. At the same time, the different departments’ wish lists are still included in the numbers. By the next time this is presented, reality will set in as Mortell begins to remove and cut items.


One glaring thing that needs to be fixed is the Fire Fee. It is no longer covering 30% of the fire budget. The fee cannot be used for the medical portion of expenses. Almost a decade ago when it went into effect, it was meant to be 30% of the amount needed to cover the fire portion. It gave residents that were paying very little in ad valorum, sometimes nothing at all, a way to conribute something toward at least one essential service.

Mayor McDonald pointed that out and a good call it is. I hope there is follow through with this. Commissioner Collins wanted to see things cut but he had no suggestions on where to do so. He also wanted more grants.

Collins’ said that having only high-end type residences would be beneficial to the tax base. And from a strictly financial point of view that is correct. It is very reminiscent of Jeff Krauskopf’s when he was a commissioner. I guess Stuart would be the poor man’s Jupiter Island in that scenario. I don’t believe it is a realistic idea.

It was time to set the tentative millage rate’s not-to-exceed-number for Fiscal Year 2024. The millage rate has been set at 5 mills for several years. Mortell asked that it be set at 5.25, but he believes it will not be necessary to raise the rate above 5 mills. He just wanted flexibility. It passed 4-1 with Collins dissenting.

You can see the presentation here 



The commission hired a city manager and began the search for a permanent attorney.

Interim Manager Michael Mortell had negotiated a contract with Interim City Attorney Paul Nicoletti. The contract was very similar to the one that David Dyess had. The compensation will be $225,000 plus the usual benefits.

It seemed the only commissioner who had questions was Campbell Rich. He wanted to know why there was no end date to the contract. Both Mortell and Nicoletti answered with the usual old chestnut of the contract comes up for renewal at every commission meeting since the manager can be fired at any time by the commission. And there is some truth to that. The end date was left alone.


Another point of discussion was about outside employment, which is permitted under the contract. As an attorney, Mortell could in theory represent clients and continue to be city manager at the same time. It was decided that he would have to clear outside employment with the HR Department…a department that reports to him.

Like so much in any contract, it depends on the integrity of the parties. Mortell has proven to be a very ethical person and so have the commissioners. Therefore, I am fine with the provisions as stated in the contract.

The only two things I would have liked to have seen were a formalized review process and a sliding scale on severance. I think it is very important to have the boss (in this case, the commission) analyze and critique an employee’s performance. This is missing and doing so is quite common in most employment contracts and other cities.

Regarding severance, if Mortell were to be let go at the next commission meeting, he would be entitled to 20 weeks of severance pay. It should have been structured on a sliding scale over four or five years. The contract can be found here 

The vote was unanimous. To read more see the article below.

With Mortell’s appointment to city manager, the commission now needs to hire a permanent attorney.

The commission approved an aggressive timeline in finding their attorney. The salary range is from $190,000 to $210,000 and any candidate must be a member of the Florida bar. It will be advertised in different government and bar publications. They are looking to onboard the new attorney by October 1st.

To see the proposed item go here 



Mike Mortell was officially hired as the city manager of Stuart at last night’s commission meeting.

It was almost anti-climactic after being named interim a few months ago when David Dyes left to become city manager of Juno Beach. And that was the way it was supposed to be after the calamity of Dave Ross several years ago.

Ross was hired as manager after a national search that ended up being one of the worst decisions any Stuart City Commission ever made. It resulted in several department directors leaving along with complaints from staff regarding his work habits. Then Police Chief David Dyess ended up being appointed interim manager when Ross was finally fired by the commission. Dyess had been a Stuart fixture both as a resident and city official for many years.

He too became manager after a few months without any doubt in anyone’s mind. Now Mike Mortell, who has been a city resident since he was just a small boy, has been appointed. Mortell, an attorney practicing in Stuart for 20 years before taking the job as city attorney a decade ago, was a past city mayor and commissioner. His roots go back in Stuart and Martin County as deep as Dyess’ and that is the way I like it.

Anytime you parachute a supposed expert into a community, the learning curve can be substantial if not insurmountable. Doing it in this peculiar place results in a Dave Ross. Stuart and Martin County should rely on home grown talent. Being born and raised here isn’t necessary, but candidates better have spent enough time getting to know the people before attempting to lead them.

And that is what a Stuart City Manager is…the defacto leader of the town. Sure, we have a mayor and commissioners, but the place is actually run by the manager. A successful one knows that but makes sure his ego is in check and he doesn’t embarrass his commission.

Mortell has all the makings of a good manager and leader for the city. His $225,000 salary is probably a little below market for a full-service city like Stuart. The city is comprised of the normal departments but also utilities, fire, and police. As a certified civil litigation attorney, he can think on his feet and although sometimes he has the tendency to argue both sides of a matter. Pinning him down can be challenging.

All in all, he does have the ability to quickly learn things he does not know. It seems he understood the city budget intricacies after a very short time.

Mortell should be a good manager, but I would suggest that he do two things to be a great one though. The first is to make the commissioners be disciplined. They should give him two or three priorities each that he can work on for the year. If the commissioners come back to him and want him to do another, he should suggest that they hold that thought to next year. It is hard enough for him and his staff…don’t let the commissioners make it any harder by changing things up midstream. The result is a lot of half things.

The second is to grow the next city manager and department heads in house. There needs to be a concerted effort to bring along the most talented junior members and, if need be, to hire them from outside so that when a department is ready for a new leader, there is someone there who understands the culture.

I fully endorsed Mortell for this job. I think at this moment he has all the commissioners rooting for his success because it is also their success. As a city resident, I want him to be one of the greats. Whether he will be or not is completely in his hands.

As Published In Martin County Moments

Martin County School Board



The board had a workshop to finish the policy review. It seemed to me there was tortured logic when it came to making sure parents had the final say on students’ information and photos being published, redacted, or given to advertisers. I am in favor of parents having the final say, but the permutations on the different choices were mind boggling.

In weighing the choices, I am sure the board was justified but I suspect there were many confused parents. With all the direct marketing there is today, an email address or phone number being given out could result in the student or parent being inundated. Listening to the board made my head hurt.

The board’s main job is to set policy. For the last couple of meetings, that has been the bulk of what they have done. Superintendent Maine asked that a few of the items be brought back after staff re-works them. But all in all, the district is ready for the coming year.

During the special meeting, the board adopted a nearly $567 million budget. The Required Local Effort Tax Rate set by Tallahassee is 3.195 mills which is a slight decrease from last year. The Discretionary Rate which the board sets is the same as last year .748 mills, as is the Capital Project Rate 1.5 and Special Referendum Millage of .5 mills. That translates into a reduction of .045 mills and a total tax rate is 5.943.

The board approved the tentative budget and millage rate 5-0.

You can see the budget here

Town of Sewalls Point

The next meeting will be August 15, 2023


Village of Indiantown


For the first time in several years, the village’s taxable value grew instead of being less than the year before. For the next tax year, it will increase by $354,000 to $2,348,119,224.

Manager Kryzda stated that the taxable value of the average property was $61,780. If the property owner has the $50,000 exemptions, then that equates to a tax bill of $19 which does not even cover the cost of the average lot’s village services.

Next year FPL is de-commissioning a solar plant which will knock 9.3% off the village’s taxes. The manager and finance director want to keep the millage rate of 1.6304 the same. The biggest drain on village resources is the upgrades needed to the utility plants.

Finance Director Florio stated that they have replaced about 25% of the system meters that are broken. It looks like the new administration is working diligently to correct the problems. Unfortunately, the village is still far too dependent on one taxpayer, FPL, to pay their bills.

You can see the budget presentation here 



There has been some trouble regarding ironing out the mobility fee with the county commission. According to Kryzda, County Administrator Donaldson doesn’t want to talk.

There were all kinds of suggestions such as Dipaolo wanting to come in hard and negotiate strong. Gibbs-Thomas wanted to get Jenkins back involved as an advocate. Stone will speak to individual commissioners.

They actually believe that they can sit down commission to council and iron something out. Taryn Kryzda knows better than anyone what a “no response” means—there aren’t three commissioners who want to make a deal yet. She has many years of experience with how the county commission operates. Silence means don’t bother now.


Attorney Vose recommends that they have a refresher on what the mobility fee is and what they should ask for. That will be done at the next meeting.

There is someone who wants to put on a car, bike, and truck show over Labor Day in Booker Park. As of now, according to the village’s own rules, he would be too late to apply to apply. Staff found out initially by Facebook posts.


An incomplete application was given to the park director. He hasn’t paid the fee, there is no sheriff component, he claims to want to use a private piece of property without so far obtaining the owner’s consent, they want alcohol, will run until midnight and there is no insurance. The council is not authorizing the event. That is the right call.

Town of Ocean Breeze

The next meeting will be August 14, 2023

Town of Jupiter Island

The next meeting will be August 16, 2023


Final Thoughts


Is It Really A Hard Call?

Mike Greenwell, a Lee County Commissioner, is also a big landowner in the small rural town of Alva which is in his district.

I read an article in the Florida Phoenix where Mike, the landowner, needs zoning and comp plan changes to develop his property from agricultural to Mixed Use Planned Development. He wants to build a 400,000 square foot shopping center and 122 apartments on the 76-acre site. Commissioner Greenwell and his board would be the final determinant.

Greenwell, a former Boston Red Sox player, was appointed to an open commission seat by Governor DeSantis and then won in a special election a few weeks later. He did recuse himself from the final vote of 3-1 for the re-zoning. There is a pending lawsuit.

To me the question isn’t whether Greenwell has the right to have his property rezoned, it is whether he should ethically do so while sitting on the commission. Even by not voting or participating in discussions, he still has sway over county staff. His fellow commissioners may give him the benefit of the doubt. The project, because of its size and location, appears to be very controversial.

Something being legal is different from something being ethical. Commissioner Greenwell stands to make a lot of money from this. Would it be rezoned if he were not a commissioner?

It appears to me he has a legal right to do what he is doing but morally he has let down his constituents as well as himself in his responsibility as a commissioner. Being an elected official, Greenwell is acting in a fiduciary role for the interest of the citizens of Lee County. In that capacity their interest comes before his. He needed to wait until he was no longer a commissioner to push the project and his self-interest.

Too often, not only in this case but in statehouses as well as Congress and the White House, the word legal is substituted for moral or ethical. That concept should be unacceptable to every American. It is unfortunate that we as voters hold our elected leaders to such low standards. Commissioner Greenwell is just one more example of lowering American expectations.



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:



By Tom


“History Is About Facts”


“What Does Hawaii And Mississippi Have In Common? Nothing When It Comes To Life Expectancy”


Martin County Moments:

“Stuart Picks A New Manager”


“Our Development Has Schizophrenic Qualities”


Other Articles

The Washington Post: “When government bureaucrats masquerade as financial savants, watch out”


The New York Times: “The Steep Costs of Ron DeSantis’s vaccine turnaround”


The Washington Post: “He was an undocumented immigrant. He became ‘Your Excellency’”


TC Palm: “Environmentalists worry that DeSantis will usurp home rule over local fertilizer ordinances”


The New York Times: “Is Miami English, A Dialect”


Bloomberg: “Hawaii’s Plan To Build More Housing”


Florida Phoenix: “Rural Florida residents strike out when their own commissioner pitches a big development”


Join Our Mailing List