What could “The Observer” be observing? Reply


A person or persons responsible for a blog post by “The Observer” this week accused the Indian River Neighborhood Association of blocking the sale of Vero Electric.

In light of this accusation, an April 2014 letter to the editor by the IRNA’s John Higgs is both revealing and instructive.  Perhaps “The Observer” has not read Mr. Higgs’ letter, or possibly he/they are choosing to ignore it.

Letter: Indian River Neighborhood Association fully supports sale of Vero Electric More…

More misleading babble from Wilson? 2


‘”Interestingly, ‘The Observer’ made no mention of the significant advertising investment FPL made and continues to make in the Press Journal and in the island weekly. In the most recent city election, both publications stridently supported candidates to whom FPL indirectly made significant financial contributions. Somehow, this inconvenient truth went unobserved by ‘The Observer.'”


Former Vero Beach City Council candidate Charlie Wilson

Former Vero Beach City Council candidate Charlie Wilson

Recently, I was humored to read a blog post by some anonymous writer claiming to be “The Observer.”  Who knows for sure, but the post reeks of the kind of cowardly thing Charlie Wilson might do – perhaps with a little help.

I was most puzzled, though, not by the writer’s lack of courage to use his name, but by the writer’s assertion that one neighborhood organization has single handedly blocked the sale of Vero Electric to Florida Power & Light.

This accusation against the Indian River Neighborhood Association, a community organization which has never taken a position on the sale, along with personal attacks on one of its members, have long been a part of Wilson’s comedy routine.

According to the IRNA’s published statements, the organization endorses candidates with particular consideration for their position on quality of life issues. These are concerns about which Wilson appears to have no sensitivities.

Wilson, the court jester of local politics, frequently performed his comedy routine and leveled his attacks on the IRNA under the lights and before the cameras at city council meetings, as he sought free media exposure and attention in a failed bid for a seat on the council.

“The Observer,” whoever he or she may be, also accused the IRNA of essentially buying stories from InsideVero.com.  In truth, the IRNA bought advertising in our special election editions, which were mailed to every resident within the city limits.  The special print editions were an effective way to reach all potential voters in city elections. More…

City withdraws request for wholesale power bids 2

“According to a second source, the CIty and the OUC have reached a tentative agreement on a revised contract. Agreement on a revised contract, the source said, makes it unnecessary for the City to continue to seek proposals from possible alternate wholesale power providers.


The City of Vero Beach yesterday abruptly retracted its request for bids from possible wholesale power providers, including possibly Florida Power & Light, to replace the Orlando Utilities Commission.  The OUC currently supplies Vero Beach two-thirds of its wholesale power.

In a cancellation notice issued yesterday, John O’Brien, manager of purchasing and warehouse operations wrote, “The City and its advisors have recently reassessed the City’s initial procurement strategy to replace the City’s current bulk power supply contracts.  As a result of this development, the City has decided to withdraw and cancel this Request for Proposals effective immediately.” More…

When the Highwaymen were the Unknowns Reply


Painting by Al Black from Ralph Oko collection

Painting by Al Black from Ralph Oko collection

If you live in Vero Beach or anywhere on the Treasure Coast, you have no doubt heard about The Highwaymen, the collective name for a group of loosely-aligned African-American artists known for their vivid and pristine Florida landscapes. But few people know their true origins —  common laborers struggling to survive in the Jim Crow south until a well-known Fort Pierce artist, A.E. “Bean” (or “Beanie”) Backus (1906-1990) discovered their innate talent.

That is about to change.


Commissioner of Major League Baseball visits Historic Dodgertown Reply


Rob D. Manfred, Jr. became the ninth Commissioner of Baseball to visit world-famous Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida this week. Manfred, who became Commissioner of Baseball on January 25, 2015, met with youth campers and instructors, comprised of many former major leaguers, at the first-ever Elite Development Invitational, operated by USA Baseball and initiated by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association. The two-week camp at Historic Dodgertown, with 160 youth, ages 13-16, is designed to provide player development opportunities to top prospects from minority or underserved communities throughout the country.

The curriculum has focused on overall character development, strength and conditioning, arm care, MLB scout and college recruiter interaction, NCAA compliance, umpire education/interaction and media training. The camp, which concludes this Thursday, is part of the newly-announced $30 million joint initiative to improve growth in youth baseball and softball by MLB and MLBPA. More…

Morgan joins Marine Bank & Trust Reply


Earl Morgan

Earl Morgan

Marine Bank & Trust has announced that Earl Morgan has joined the 18-year-old institution as vice president and manager of business banking. A 20-year veteran of the banking community in Vero Beach, Morgan has held positions at The Northern Trust Company and TD Wealth Management.

As vice president and manager of business banking, Morgan will manage the Bank’s delivery of commercial banking services efforts while leading the commercial lending team. Marine Bank provides commercial and commercial real estate loans to businesses, non-profit organizations, and professional practices. With Series 7 and 66 FINRA licensing, he can also assist clients with investment management and other related services. More…

Cultural Events Reply



weekend-WEB_Crop_Arpeggione1The Cultural Council of Indian River County presents Summerfest 2015 on August 6th at Christ by the Sea United Methodist Church, 3755 Hwy. A1A in Vero Beach beginning at 7:30 pm. Musicians from Symphony of the Americas will be joined by the Arpeggione Chamber Orchestra of Austria for this concert. Works to be performed are W. A. Mozart ‘s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik; David Popper’s El Fentanze for Cello and String Orchestra; Jules Massenet’s Meditation from Thais; Victor Herbert’s Serenade for Strings, Op. 12; Antonio Vivaldi’s L’ Estro Armonico Op. 3 No. 1, RV 549; Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2; Johann Strauss’s Annen-Polka; and Jacques Offenbach’s Can Can from Orpheus in the Underworld. After the concert, guests are invited to a toast with the musicians. Thank you to our Media Partner, Indian River Press Journal/TCPalm.com, for their support of this magnificent concert. For tickets, Adults $35, Students $15, call 772-770-4857 or visit http://www.cultural-council.org/Summerfest.html.

1715 Fleet Commemoration week events

weekend-John-de-Bry-Collection-02Several events this week will commemorate the 300th Anniversary of the Loss of the 1715 Spanish Plate Fleet.. Take a 1715 History Bus Tour on Thursday, July 30th, from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm with stops at wreck sites, the McLarty Treasure Museum, and the Mel Fisher Treasure Museum for $55 per person. (Call 772-770-5060 Ext. 5 to reserve.) At the Main Library on Friday, July 31st, hear speakers: Capt. Carl Fismer, Treasure Diving on the 1715 Fleet (10 to 11 am); Last known Interview of the Real Eight Corporation Members on March 15, 1997 (11 am to Noon); and Capt. Bonnie Schubert, The Gold Pelican of the 1715 Fleet (1 to 2 pm); and Capt. John Brandon Recovery of Historical Shipwrecks off the Treasure Coast (2:30 to 4:00 pm). There are ongoing art and artifact displays as well as live music. Visit http://www.irclibrary.org/genealogy/



Dance Space registration is now open online for the fall semester for both adults and children. Choose from Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, Modern, Lyrical, Musical Theatre, Tap, or Contemporary styles of dance. Visit DanceSpaceVero.com for details, times, and to register. Registration will also be accepted at the studio, 499 22nd Place in Vero Beach on Monday, August 10th and Tuesday, August 11th from 5 to 7 pm.
Garden and Biosphere Tour of Northern Cuba


The Environmental Learning Center in coordination with The Florida Keys TREE Institute present a tour of the gardens & biospheres of Northern Cuba scheduled for March 17 – 25, 2016 for 9 days/8 nights departing/returning Miami on private jet charter. Explore Vinales Valley, Pinar del Rio, Zapata & Havana. For details and itinerary, visit discoverelc.org.


Wednesday, July 22

Thursday, July 30

Friday, July 31

Saturday, August 1


weekend-15-0708-iRascals-KidsRecommended for ages 2 to 10, iRascals KIDS performances will be held at the Riverside Childrens Theatre on July 31st and August 1st at 1:30 pm and 4 pm. The Students of the iRascals KIDS Camp will showcase kid friendly music hits of pop and Broadway songs! Tickets are $12 for adults & $6 for students and are available at RiversideTheatre.com.

Howle’s ‘platform’ lacks foundation in law or logic 1



Former City Council candidate Harry Howle

Former City Council candidate Harry Howle

I read with a mixture of dismay and amusement former Vero Beach City Council candidate Harry Howle’s recent letter to the editor. A mere 173 words, Howle’s letter is little more than flash fiction. His latest submittal, though, may give an indication of the platform he will run on should he become an FPL-sponsored city council candidate again this fall.

Essentially, Howle argues the current city council needs to sit down at a closing table and sign paperwork handing Vero Electric over to Florida Power & Light.

Does the would-be city councilman not realize the contract approved by voters in the spring of 2013 cannot be legally executed? Is he not aware the City’s liabilities to the Florida Municipal Power Agency could total well over $300 million? And has he not considered that any new agreement will have to provide for the cost of settling the City’s obligations to the FMPA, and must also be put to voters in a referendum ? More…

Vero Beach Airport adds “Regional” to its name Reply


This week, the Vero Beach Municipal Airport (VRB) received official approval from the City Council to change its name to “Vero Beach Regional Airport.” Airport staff had been asked to consider the name change by the Vero Beach Airport Commission at their public meeting held on May 28, 2015, at City Hall. Following the official approval, the airport will pursue review by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“The name change is timely in that the Airport Commission has been working on a new airport master plan and sustainable economic business plan to improve the airport’s viability as a potential commercial carrier airport. So, we’d be pleased to have the formal designation as a regional airport from the FAA,” said Mayor Richard Winger, City of Vero Beach. “The name change is a key component in the long-term strategy to enhance economic and business development opportunities at the airport.” More…

Public Service Commission weighs in on Shores’ lawsuit against Vero Beach 1


Attorneys for the Florida Public Service Commission this week weighed in on Indian River Shores’ lawsuit against Vero Beach. The PSC is asking the Circuit Court to dismiss the Town’s complaint, arguing that the PSC, and not the courts, has the “sole and superior jurisdiction” over service territory agreements, such as the Commission orders giving Vero Beach the right and obligation to provide electric service within Town of Indian River Shores.

In its complaint, the Town’s attorneys assert that the soon-to-expire franchise agreement between the Shores and Vero Beach is superior to any authority the PSC may have to establish, maintain and enforce service territory assignments for the state’s electric utilities.

The PSC counters, “determination of service providers pursuant to territorial agreements is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Commission.” More…

‘Getting Ahead 2015!’ to be held in Fellsmere Reply


Want to go on a helicopter ride? How about meeting players from the Florida Institute of Technology Panthers football team? Bounce House anyone? Police K-9 Demonstration?

The City of Fellsmere, in conjunction with the Fellsmere Action Community Team (F.A.C.T.), is pleased to announce that Getting Ahead 2015! is scheduled for Friday, July 31st from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM at Little League Park, located at 4 N. Broadway Street in Fellsmere.

Getting Ahead 2015! Is a unique opportunity for people to check out the services and programs that are available in Indian River County to “get ahead”, make a job connection, pick up some food from the Treasure Coast Food Bank, or to just have some fun on a summer day!

Attractions this year are as follows: Continue reading…

United Way expands Day of Caring Reply

Marine Bank & Trust team

Marine Bank & Trust team


United Way’s traditional Day of Caring will take on new dimensions Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, as more non-profits and more volunteers are given the opportunity to participate in this phenomenal annual event.

If you are a non-profit and need some painting done; lawn care; office work; or limited building projects, United Way has volunteers who want to work for you.

If you are an individual volunteer, a family group, neighborhood, club, or employee team interested in participating, there is a wide variety of projects that need your help.

New this year: More…

Florida’s investor-owned utilities fight against solar power 1


Got to hand it to the powers who so deftly control Florida’s electricity market.

Just when solar power finally shows signs of progress in the Sunshine State, the cabal of electric utility monopolies and the Tallahassee political machine so beholden to their cash contributions find a new way to say No.

On Wednesday, a group with the quick-stamped name of Consumers for Smart Solar unveiled a petition drive to place an amendment dealing with solar energy on the 2016 ballot. It will need to collect nearly 700,000 signatures. Continue reading…

City Clerk, Tammy Vock, receives state associations highest award Reply

Councilmember Amelia Graves, Vice Mayor Jay Kramer, Mayor Richard Winger, Councilmember Pilar Turner, FACC President, Tracy Ackroyd, Vero Beach City Clerk, Tammy Vock, Sebastian City Clerk, Sally Maio and Sebastian Deputy City Clerk, Jeanette Williams

Councilmember Amelia Graves, Vice Mayor Jay Kramer, Mayor Richard Winger, Councilmember Pilar Turner, FACC President, Tracy Ackroyd, Vero Beach City Clerk, Tammy Vock, Sebastian City Clerk, Sally Maio and Sebastian Deputy City Clerk, Jeanette Williams


Tammy K. Vock, Vero Beach City Clerk, was awarded the Robert N. Clark Memorial Award at the Florida Association of City Clerks (FACC) Summer Academy that was held in June, 2015.

The Robert N. Clark Memorial Award is presented by the FACC each year in recognition and honor of a Municipal Clerk who has promoted and advanced the ideas and goals of the City Clerk profession by actively participating in the improvement of municipal government in the State and local community. Tammy is a dedicated Clerk who has been involved with FACC and the International Institute of Municipal Clerks (IIMC) for the past 30 years. She is a Past President of FACC and has served on many Boards and Committees of FACC and IIMC.

Miss Tracy Ackroyd, City of Clermont City Clerk, FACC President, presented Mrs. Vock with the Award at the July 21, 2015 City Council meeting. In her presentation she quoted, “Tammy’s love of the City Clerk profession is evident by the way she shares her knowledge and expertise with others and by seeing the potential in others and inspires them to step out of their comfort zone to achieve goals. She is the epitome of professionalism always with a positive outlook that is admired by anyone who knows her.”

It is time to address long overdue raises, aging computers and equipment, and delayed capital projects 2


“Over the next two months we will be pondering those choices, and listening to suggestions from the public, City Management, the Finance Commission, and other Council members, before reaching a decision. Please join in the process, it is important to get everyone’s views on this important matter.”


Randy Old

Randy Old

Editor’s Note: Randy Old is a member of the Vero Beach City Council.

Last week, after three full days of budget discussions among all City Council members, the City Manager, the City Financial Officer and all Department heads, the City Council voted provisionally to set the maximum millage rate at 2.6437. This together with an 8 percent increase in property values could result in a 38 percent increase in City taxes, or about a 4 percent overall increase in one’s property taxes, which means, if you have a house valued at $300,000 your annual property tax bill would go up by about $183 for the year in City of Vero Beach property taxes.

The reason for the tax increase is to generate $1,700,000 in new revenue for the City, which is needed to keep Vero effective and safe, while still maintaining sound fiscal policies. This provisional increase is to be reviewed by the City’s Finance Committee and will be the subject of two public hearings in September before a final Council decision is made. With the proposed tax increase, our city tax level still remains at the lowest 25 percent of all Florida cities. More…

Cultural events this weekend Reply

New & Ongoing Events

SUMMER CAMPS FOR KIDS Three weeks remain of the Summer Art Camp at the Vero Beach Museum of Art, 3001 Riverside Park Drive, with limited spaces still available for day classes. For descriptions of the classes offered and space available, call Ellyn Giordano at 772-231-0707 Ext 116. weekend - wed kayak 3St. Paul’s Church’s 4th Annual Survivor Camp for ages 9-13 will be held Monday, July 27th to Friday, July 31st from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Prestige Hotel, 1526 Ocean Drive in Vero Beach. Based on the TV show, competitive campers will enjoy swimming, kayaking, fishing, puzzles & games. Learn about snakes & insects, survivor skills & God’s Word. Cost is $160/week and includes lunch. Call today! The deadline is July 20th. The camper who earns the most points at the end of the week will be named: “Soul Survivor” and win a $50 gift certificate. Call 772-231-3552 or visit http://www.stpaulsirc.org to register. More…

Long-time Indian River County citrus man, Hubert Graves, passes Reply

Hubert Graves

Hubert Graves

Today, Strunk Funeral Home released the following obituary for long-time Indian River County citrus man, Hubert Graves, who died earlier this week.

Hubert “Hubie” Graves, Jr. died July 17, 2015 surrounded by his family. Born on February 16, 1931, Hubert was a native of Indian River County. Hubert earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts and was a graduate of Vero Beach High School Class of 1949. Hubert served in the United States Navy and received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture from the University of Florida.

Hubert descended from a long line of agriculturists and was a business leader in the citrus industry as a grower, harvester and packer. As a farmer Hubert would race the sun up every morning, a fact never lost on his family, as he would make sure they woke up as well. A man of simple taste, Hubert enjoyed lunch with friends almost every weekday at Fat Boys for over 30 years. More…

More questionable assertions from Press Journal columnist 1


“To borrow two phrases from a recent dissenting opinion by Supreme Court Justice Antinon Scalia, their (Reisman’s and Zahner’s) reasoning is ‘profoundly incoherent,’ and their conclusions little more than ‘jiggery-pokery.'”


Reading Press Journal community editor Larry Reisman’s Sunday column, I wondered if he is now being coached by a corporate public relations specialist, perhaps one who works for a major investor-owned utility.

Reisman persists in erroneously claiming the voters of Vero Beach have twice approved referendums on selling their electric system to Florida Power & Light, (Amy Brunjes, wife of Press Journal publisher Bob Brunjes, is a vice president of external affairs with FPL). More…

Ray of Hope: Stress Test 1

Valles Caldera National Preserve

Valles Caldera National Preserve

From reading my reflections on working with what the day brings, a few readers seem to have gotten the impression I’m some kind of blissed-out mystic. Nothing could be farther from the truth!

This past week, a photographer friend dropped me a note letting me know he had taken a stress test.  Thinking back to my photography experience earlier that day, I suggested to Tony that the next time he needs a stress test I could suggest a less expensive way he could do it. More…

Quote of the week Reply

Currently, County Commissioner Bob Solari claim to not have a position on short term rentals.

Currently, County Commissioner Bob Solari claim to not have a position on short term rentals.

In a May 21 letter to South Beach Property Owners Association President George Lamborn, Indian River County Commissioner Bob Solari wrote, “I have not taken a stand to allow short term rentals…”

According to official minutes of the July 10, 2012 meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, Solari made a motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Joe Flescher, to reject a proposed amendment to the county’s land development regulations that would have clearly and specifically prohibited rentals of less than one month. Related Story: Commissioner Bob Solari: Mr. Short Term Rental

First-ever Major League Baseball elite development invitational to be held at Historic Dodgertown July 18-30 Reply


Dodgertown LogoHistoric Dodgertown will host the first-ever Elite Development Invitational, operated by USA Baseball, and initiated by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association on July 18-30. Approximately 150 youth, ages 13-16, will participate in the two-week program geared toward providing player development opportunities to top prospects from minority or underserved backgrounds.

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced on July 13 a commitment of $30 million toward a new joint initiative that will focus on improving the caliber, effectiveness and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs across the United States and Canada. More…

United Way hires new campaign director Reply


Tracey Segal

Tracey Segal

Tracey Segal has joined the staff of United Way of Indian River County as Campaign Director.

“We are thrilled to have Tracey join us,” said Michael Kint, United Way CEO. “We have known her work in the local non-profit community and expect her to be a real asset to our team.”

Most recently Segal was Program Administrator at Samaritan Center for Homeless Families, and before that Community Development Officer at Indian River National Bank. More…

Second suspect in June 24th robbery arrested Reply




Through the collaborative efforts of the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, The U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, and the Saint Lucie County Sheriff’s Office Warrants Division, Kadarius Powell (21) was arrested in Fort Pierce on July 16, 2015, on two Indian River County warrants.

Powell had been wanted for a June 24th robbery that had occurred in Indian River County since shortly after the arrest of an additional suspect, Renard Paul (21) on July 2nd. According to witnesses, Paul and Powell approached several subjects who were in the yard of the 29th Avenue home in Vero Beach and attempted to rob them by displaying a firearm. A struggle began and both Paul and Powell fired at the victims. One of the victims in the yard was in legal possession of a firearm and returned fire in self defense. Paul was shot twice in the right shoulder and once in his right leg. He and Powell fled the scene in a vehicle before initially arriving at Indian River Medical Center. Later, Paul was transported to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center where he was treated for the non-life threatening gunshot wounds. Through the use of witness statements and forensic evidence, investigators gathered enough information to arrest Paul and obtain a warrant for Powell for their involvement in the robbery. More…

FPL customers to pay $500 million for natural gas fracking Reply


Florida utility regulators gave approval Thursday for the state’s largest power company to further invest ratepayer money in natural-gas production.

And unlike a decision late last year to approve Florida Power & Light’s investment in a controversial Oklahoma fracking operation, future exploratory ventures for natural gas won’t have to earn regulatory approval on a case-by-case basis to determine if the spending is prudent. Continue reading…

Related Story:

FPL Gets approval to charge customers $500 million annually to pay for natural gas

TALLAHASSEE, Florida — State regulators have given Florida Power & Light permission to invest up to $500 million a year in natural gas drilling projects and to pass those costs onto customers.

The Florida Public Service Commission unanimously approved guidelines Thursday to allow FPL to invest further in natural gas drilling projects. This allows the company to charge its more than 4.7 million customers for the investment over a 30-year period. Continue reading…