Changing our name, expanding our mission 2

MARK SCHUMANN

Inside-IndianRiver-Logo_online BTwo years ago, Milt Thomas and I began publishing InsideVero, a community news magazine dedicated to offering balanced reporting on issues of importance to the residents of Vero Beach and southern Indian River County. Beginning in February, we will expand our coverage to include news and features of importance and interest throughout Indian River County. At the same time, we will increase our circulation from 15,000 to 33,000. To reflect our expanded mission, we have changed the name of our news magazine to Inside Indian River.

Many important issues, including growth management, education, economic development, tourist development, intergovernmental relations, water supply, water quality and restoring the health Indian River Lagoon transcend the city limits of Vero Beach.

It is also true the diverse neighborhoods and municipalities within Indian River County share common interests and, ultimately, will share in a common destiny. Working well together requires effective communication. Inside Indian River’s mission will be to offer a comprehensive, thought-provoking and colorful report on life in Indian River County.

As a news magazine, the cornerstone of Inside Indian River will be in-depth, unbiased reporting on the issues affecting the quality of life for all residents of Indian River County, present and future.  A Perspective section, featuring guest commentary, will serve as a forum for thoughtful, reasoned discourse and debate.  Inside Indian River will also cover the local arts and entertainment scene.

Every day, Indian River County residents young and old are making a difference for good.  Inside Indian River will tell their stories.  In addition to a regular “helping hands” feature, Inside Indian River’s People section will celebrate some of Indian River County’s more interesting, influential and colorful citizens.  Other regular features will include, Business, Active Life, Home Life and more.

As we expand our mission, I would welcome hearing your suggestions on what you would like to see in a community magazine serving all of Indian River County.

editor.insideindianriver@gmail.com – 772.696.5233

The Salvation Army makes final push to achieve Red Kettle goal Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Hot Country picWith less than 7 days left till Christmas The Salvation of IRC is edging closer to the goal of $115,000. As of Friday December 19th the Salvation Army is at $76,140 or 68% of goal on pace for $111,489.

Your pocket change will make the difference whether The Salvation Army makes its goal or not this Holiday Season. Your change will help make change in our community for 2015 year and help The Salvation Army “Do The Most Good” with your generosity.

This year we will need just as much support and we are asking you to take notice of all the Red Kettles that are out in front of many retail locations in Indian River County during these final 7 days ending December 24th and make a donation to The Salvation Army, some of these locations include, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Publix, Winn Dixie ,The Post Office and The Vero Mall. More…

Ray of Hope: Watching 1

Queen Bee

Queen Bee

Why does watching a dog be a dog fill one with happiness? - Jonathan Safran Foer

Vero Beach City Council wants answers from Public Service Commission 3

Indian River Shores puts lawsuit on hold through March 2

“Wednesday’s mediation session opened with representatives of the Shores insisting the issue is not electric rates but the “sovereignty” of the Town. In actuality, the Town of Indian River Shores is not sovereign, but is an incorporated municipality of the State of Florida. As such, the Town is subject to federal and state laws, including those laws intended to provide for a stable and reliable electric power grid.

“Just as every utility in Florida, public and private, opposes what the County seeks to do, they can be expected to urge the courts to uphold long-established utility law and to reject the Shores’ claim of ‘sovereignty.'”

NEWS ANALYSIS

MARK SCHUMANN (This story updated 12/18/14 8:00 a.m.)

As the Town of Indian River Shores and the Indian River County Commission seek the breakup of Vero Electric, city officials are moving ahead with plans to lower rates, including possibly decommissioning the power plant.

As the Town of Indian River Shores and the Indian River County Commission seek the breakup of Vero Electric, city officials are moving ahead with plans to lower rates, including possibly decommissioning the power plant.

Having twice deferred its request for declaratory statements from the Florida Public Service Commission, the Indian River County Commission appears to be avoiding answers it may not like. Though the County Commission may be wavering in its pursuit of answers, the Vero Beach City Council voted 5-0 Wednesday to file its own request for a declaratory statement from the PSC.

The Council is seeking clarification from the PSC on what, if anything, should happen when the City’s franchise agreement with the County expires in 2017.  The central issue is whether PSC service territory assignments are superior to or subordinate to franchise agreements.

If Vero Beach’s special counsel Schef Wright has a petition ready by Friday as planned, the PSC could have answers as early as March 3. More…

Florida’s top energy corporations spending millions to buy political influence 1

Sen. Joe Negron

Sen. Joe Negron

Rep. Debbie Mayfield

Rep. Debbie Mayfield

MARK SCHUMANN

To listen to State Rep. Debbie Mayfield, the members of the Indian River County Commission and local utility activists Glen Heran and Steven Faherty, the interests of Florida’s utility consumers are safe in the hands of the Florida Public Service Commission. Not everyone agrees.

The watchdog group, Integrity Florida, published a March 31, 2014 report detailing the ways Florida’s top energy corporations are using their millions to buy political influence.  As just on example, the report reveals Sen. Joe Negron’s law firm was paid $254,459 by Florida Power & Light for lobbying efforts in 2012.

On the last day of the 2014 legislative session, Negron slipped into the Senate appropriation bill $200,000 to pay for an audit of the Florida Municipal Power Agency. FPL had lobbied directly for the audit of the joint action agency with whom it is previously gone to court, and with whom it is currently struggling in its effort to acquire Vero Electric. The audit will reportedly be available soon after the first of the year.

Below is the executive summary of Integrity Florida’s report, followed by a link to the full report by Ben Wilcox and Dan Krassner.

Summary of Research Findings  

  1. Major campaign donations.  Electric utilities contributed more than $18 million to state-level candidates and party organizations between the 2004 and 2012 election cycles.
  2. Significant lobbying.  Lobbying spending by Florida’s four largest electric utilities was more than $12 million between 2007 and 2013.
  3. Revolving door and cronyism.  Electric utilities have made a point of hiring former state regulators and have employed the firms of several sitting state legislators.
  4. Higher electric bills for consumers.  Floridians have faced higher electric utility bills from each of the four corporations examined in this study in recent years.
  5. Anti-consumer regulations.  The Florida Legislature and the Florida Public Service Commission routinely side with electric utilities rather than consumers.
Power Play: Political influence of Florida’s top energy corporations

Concerts and Adult Baseball Camp at Historic Dodgertown benefit local organizations Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Ford Fegert (Chairman, VNA of the Treasure Coast), Carol Kanarek (Chairman, VNA & Hospice Foundation), Ann Marie McCrystal (Director and Founder), Mary Linn Hamilton (President & CEO, VNA of the Treasure Coast)

Ford Fegert (Chairman, VNA of the Treasure Coast), Carol Kanarek (Chairman, VNA & Hospice Foundation), Ann Marie McCrystal (Director and Founder), Mary Linn Hamilton (President & CEO, VNA of the Treasure Coast)

The late-October Jake Owen Benefit Concert and December’s Step Up America Heroes Festival starring The Band Perry brought two of the biggest names in country music to Historic Dodgertown. The Los Angeles Dodgers Adult Baseball Camp Game that featured campers versus their instructors saw Dodgers greats take the field once again at Holman Stadium. With these events along with the annual St. Helen’s Harvest Festival, the County-owned facility has truly been utilized for community endeavors in recent weeks.

The two concerts were highly entertaining events that raised dollars to benefit The Jake Owen Foundation and the American Security Council Foundation, respectively. More…

City, County, Shores to meet in mediation session this morning Reply

MARK SCHUMANN

Representatives of Vero Beach, the County and the Town of Indian River Shores will meet at 9:30 this morning in a public mediation session to be held at the Community Center in downtown.

At issue is the Shore Town Council’s request that Vero Beach cease serving its Shores electric customers and remove its utility infrastructure from within the Town when the franchise agreement between the two cities expires in 2017. The Indian River County Commission, which has joined the Shore’s in its threatened lawsuit against Vero Beach, is at the same time seeking permission from the Florida Public Service Commission to, without compensation, take over Vero Beach’s customers and utility infrastructure in the unincorporated areas of the county. More…

County Commission reverses decision to close Winter Beach garbage collection center Reply

County to rebid garbage pick up contracts

MARK SCHUMANN

Winter Beach convenience collection center
Tim Zorc earlier voted with O'Bryan and Solari to close the Winter Beach convenience collection station.

Tim Zorc earlier voted with O’Bryan and Solari to close the Winter Beach convenience collection station.

With Commissioner Tim Zorc changing his mind, the Indian River County Commission voted 3-2 today to reject a staff proposal to close the county’s least used garbage collection center.

The planned Jan. 5 closing of the Winter Beach collection center, located at 3955 65th St., would have saved an estimated $250,000 a year. That money was to be re-allocated to help expand the county’s recycling program.

The county is lagging behind in its effort to meet a 2020 state mandate to recycle 75 percent of collected garbage. Currently, the county is only recycling 37 percent of all that is taken to the landfill.

According to Utility Director Vincent Burke, less than 10 percent of all the material brought to the landfill comes through the county’s five convenience centers. Last year, Burke said, $1.2 million in tax money was needed to subsidize the collection centers. He explained all county taxpayers, not just those using the convenience collection centers, pay toward the annual subsidy. More…

Mercyhurst dig suggests human presence at controversial Old Vero Man site 1

NEWS RELEASE

Vero Man archeological dig.  The  site is located along the main relief canal just north of County Administration Building B.

Vero Man archeological dig. The site is located along the main relief canal just north of County Administration Building B.

Were he alive today, E.H. Sellards, Florida state geologist in the early 1900s, would likely have reveled in the validation of his controversial theory that humans co-existed with large prehistoric animals some 14,000 years ago in Vero Beach, Florida. And he would have had the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute (MAI) to thank.

In what MAI Director James Adovasio, Ph.D., describes as the most extensive Paleoindian excavation currently under way in all of North America, that being the Old Vero Man site where Sellards drew his now century-old conclusions, evidence uncovered recently by MAI positively demonstrates the contemporaneous presence of humans and late Pleistocene animals. More…

Ray of Hope: A common calling 1

RH-12-14-14

The work of community – love, reconciliation, restoration – is the work we cannot leave up to politicians.  This is the work we are all called to do. - Shane Claiborne

Mayfield letter to newspapers lacks veracity 3

“As long as outlandish claims of possible corruption are being tossed around, why not ask how much Mayfield may have been paid, or what promises she may have been given in exchange for putting her name on the letter that reads as if it was written by a public relations wizard working for one of the state’s largest investor-owned utilities.”

Editor’s note: In an effort to determine what input, if any, Mayfield received in the drafting of her letter, InsideVero yesterday made public records requests of Mayfield’s office, Indian River County, the Town of Indian River Shores and The Ballard Group, a Tallahassee lobbying firm working for the County.
COMMENTARY

MARK SCHUMANN

 State Rep. Debbie Mayfield

State Rep. Debbie Mayfield

When it comes to vetting guest commentary for truthfulness and veracity, it appears the editors of The Beaches Leader/Ponte Vedra Leader and the Vero Beach Press Journal hold themselves to a pretty low standard. The Leader and the Press Journal recently published as guest commentary a letter to the editor that was – there’s no other way to say it — chock full of lies.

The claims made in the letter published in the Dec. 11 edition of The Leader and the Dec. 13 issue of the Press Journal are so disconnected from the truth that one wonders if the author is suffering from bouts of delusion, or is simply a master propagandist.

The author, allegedly, is none other than Indian River County’s State Rep. Debbie Mayfield. (Reportedly, Mayfield moved out of Indian River County soon after winning re-election to represent House District 54.) I say “allegedly,” because the letter reads as if it was written by one of Indian River County’s utility activists, or perhaps someone working in the public relations or “external affairs” department of a major utility. More…

“Holiday At McKee” brings wonderlands of delights and festive attractions Reply

Popular holiday event begin this Saturday

NEWS RELEASE

MCKEE CHRISTMAS-100-LRFamilies along the Treasure Coast can experience the joy and delight of the holiday season with a variety of activities and attractions during McKee Botanical Garden’s “Holidays at McKee” event taking place December 20, 21 and 22 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm.

The Garden will close at its regularly scheduled time of 5:00 pm and reopen at 6:00 pm, transformed into a wonderland of holiday delights with thousands of lights and festive decorations displayed throughout the botanical paradise.

Classic holiday music will fill the air as a McKee favorite, a fully-restored 1924 Wurlitzer band organ makes its annual appearance for a third year in a row. The antique organ has become a popular attraction with Garden visitors, bringing smiles to all ages with its lively, whimsical tunes. MORE…

Education Foundation and Payless Shoes providing shoes to children in need Reply

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Indian River Academy Principal Diane Fannin and her students benefit from the Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids program.

Indian River Academy Principal Diane Fannin and her students benefit from the Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids program.

The Education Foundation of Indian River County (EF-IRC) is pleased to announce that they have been selected as an official partner of Payless GivesTM Shoes 4 Kids, an annual giving program from Payless ShoeSource. The EF-IRC’s grant application was one of 1,000 that were reviewed.  Charitable agencies representing all 50 states in the United States were selected as partners of the holiday giving program. The EF-IRC will be distributing merchandise certificates for children’s shoes through their Sneaker Exchange Program. More…

Former school bus driver arrested for sex with teen Reply

NEWS RELEASE

On December 8, 2014, detectives with the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office obtained an arrest warrant for Shauna Miratsky (38) of Vero Beach. After learning of the warrant, Miratsky turned herself in and was booked into the county jail on December 11, 2014. She is charged with one count of unlawful sexual activity with a minor (16 or 17 years of age.) More…

Exchange Club of Fellsmere donates toys to the Fellsmere Police Department Reply

NEWS RELEASE

Fellsmere Exchange Club 12-16-14Recently, the Fellsmere Police Department announced to the public that it was initiating a toy drive to collect toys for local youth this Holiday Season. The Exchange Club of Fellsmere partners with organizations in the community each year on various occasions, but makes a special attempt during the Holidays for just such a purpose. This year the Club adopted the Police Departments’ cause as their own. MORE...

GYAC Announces five humanitarian award recipients to be honored at annual event Reply

DKR Photo B

NEWS RELEASE

The Gifford Youth Activity Center will be honoring five individuals in 2015 with the Dan. K. Richardson Humanitarian Award at their annual award dinner. The event will be held at the Moorings Club in Vero Beach on January 12th. The evening will celebrate the recipients’ extraordinary service to the GYAC, and the community.  More…

Homeless Family Center announces participating chefs in Top Chef Challenge Reply

Chefs participating in Homeless Family Center 7th Annual Vero’s Top Chef Challenge PHOTO  BY HFC

Chefs participating in Homeless Family Center 7th Annual Vero’s Top Chef Challenge PHOTO BY HFC

NEWS RELEASE

The Homeless Family Center today announced the chefs competing in the 7th Annual Vero’s Top Chef Challenge. The two day fundraiser includes the Qualifying Event Monday, January 26, 6pm, at the Vero Beach Elks Lodge and the Finale Monday, February 23, 6pm, at The Club at Pointe West. More…

Business: Bob Morgan joins Marine Bank & Trust as Asst. Vice President for residential and commercial lending 1

NEWS RELEASE

Bob Morgan

Bob Morgan

Marine Bank & Trust has announced that Bob Morgan has been hired as Assistant Vice President, Residential/Commercial Lending. Mr. Morgan will serve all of Indian River County in addition to southern Brevard County with focus on Sebastian. He brings more than 20 years of lending experience to the Bank. Most recently, he was a commercial lender for Oculina Bank in Vero Beach. MORE…

Social Justice Film Series will feature “Bidder 70″ Jan. 11 Reply

Crowds rally in support of DeChristopher

Crowds rally in support of DeChristopher

NEWS RELEASE

The communitywide, nondenominational Social Justice Film Series continues its ninth year on Sunday, January 11, 2015, at 7 p.m., with “Bidder 70,” a 2012 award-winning documentary centering on an extraordinary, ingenious and effective act of civil disobedience demanding government and industry accountability in the name of climate justice. More…

County’s legal bills for PSC filing at $81,443 and rising 7

MARK SCHUMANN

Year-to-date, the Tallahassee law firm of Gonzalez Saggio and Harlan has billed $81,443.47 to represent the Indian River County Commission before the Florida Public Service Commission.  Essentially, the County Commission is seeking approval from the PSC to force Vero Beach to abandon its out-of-city electric customers and utility infrastructure when the franchise agreement between the City and the County expires in 2017.

The latest invoice from Gonzales Saggio and Harlan only bills through Oct. 31. It does not include the cost of work done in November and December, including attorney Floyd Self’s appearance before the PSC Nov. 25, when he moved to delay consideration of the County’s petition. It was the County’s second request for a delay. More…