Vero Beach Dog Park Update Reply


Dog Park 5No truer words were ever spoken than “If you build it they will come” (from Field of Dreams). Since the day the gate was opened to the recently completed fence at the newly leased Vero Beach Dog Park, every day brings a steady flow of new K-9 and human faces. The fence itself accounts for a good deal of this, but the fact that it has small and large dog enclosures has made it even more appealing.

The Friends Of The Vero Beach Dog Exercise Area, Inc., ( d/b/a Vero Beach Dog Park), a Florida nonprofit with 501(c)3 charity status pending, is now moving ahead with Phase II of improvements in the way of amenities and further beautification of the park such as landscaping, water and electric service, and shaded seating areas with canopies similar to those in Humiston Park. The park is entirely self-supporting with no subsidy from the City. More…

The Shining Impact Reply


“This is thyme. This is rosemary.”


2014 Impact 100 Grant Winners (L – R) Joel Bray, Shining Light Garden Foundation; Edie Widder, ORCA; Michael Kelley, Florida Institute of Technology, Scott Center for Autism; and Michael Naffziger, Indian River Charter High School.

2014 Impact 100 Grant Winners (L – R) Joel Bray, Shining Light Garden Foundation; Edie Widder, ORCA; Michael Kelley, Florida Institute of Technology, Scott Center for Autism; and Michael Naffziger, Indian River Charter High School.

Not that he wanted the television cameras from WPTV Channel 5 to be there. But the Jefferson Awards had just honored Joel Bray for his volunteer work at Shining Light Garden. That annual award is considered by many to be the pinnacle of national recognition for volunteerism and public service. Bray and other recipients from across the country were honored at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C., last July. Now reporter Tania Roberts from WPTV Channel 5 had come to visit. Bray felt obliged to be hospitable. So the pony-tailed former construction worker was pointing out what was in the garden when she visited.

Indian River Impact 100 in April had awarded Shining Light a $100,000 grant to provide equipment that would be used to increase production by 50%. As a result, Shining Light leased another 20 acres, adding to the 30 acres Mr. Bray and a group of volunteers already worked. Impact 100 President Judy Peschio said, “This national recognition for Joel Bray and the Shining Light Garden solidifies our selection of him as one of our choices for a recent grant. The women of Impact 100 take great care in the selection of our recipients and this is just icing on the cake.” More…

Winger interview coming Wednesday Reply

Richard Winger

Richard Winger

Vero Beach Mayor Richard Winger met with InsideVero editor Mark Schumann this past week for an interview in which the mayor spoke at length about what he considers the most pressing issues facing the city, including the health of the Lagoon, reducing elect rates, forming a utility authority and preserving the special character of the community.  Mayor Winger also address the coming election.

About the coming election, Winger said, “Quite frankly, there are those that are running to serve themselves for one cause or another, or they are serving some ideological cause, like small government or something. You know, limited government is good, but it the public wants it, small isn’t good.  We’ve gone from 526 employees to 396 and we’ve kept the services up. But what was attempted was to get rid of services, like 911 and to go 17-minute reaction times.  I can’t be for that.

“There is one candidate that has an ideological view of the world. There are a couple more that are there to serve themselves. I think there are some very good candidates that, if you listen to them carefully, they are here to do what the public wants and keep this place special. And I think the public is going to have to listen to that, but I think its fairly obvious.”

Candidate roundtable set for Oct. 7 2

Vero Beach Heritage Center

Vero Beach Heritage Center

InsideVero will host a moderated roundtable discussion for Vero Beach city council candidates the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 7 at the Heritage Center in downtown Vero Beach. The public will have an opportunity to speak with the candidates one-on-one from 5 to 6, with a two-hour roundtable discussion to begin at 6.  To date, Brian Heady, Jay Kramer, Randy Old and Jack Shupe have agreed to attend.  The remaining three candidates, Harry Howle, Pilar Turner and Charlie Wilson, have also been invited to participate.  The Heritage Center is located at 2140 14th Avenue.

Interview with City Council candidate Jay Kramer Reply

Jay Kramer

Jay Kramer

“This is an election that has got to bring us back to running the city again.We’ve spent a number of years of going through an exercise of seeing whether the public wants to sell off Vero Beach or keep Vero Beach…It’s been a pretty rough last four years, and my hope is people are tired of it and are ready to get back to running the city again.” More…

The arrogance of Charles Searcy, the silence of the lambs 5


“If the tables were turned, if Searcy’s opponent, Randy Heimler, had won the election and were now refusing to comply with state law and School Board policy on background checks and drug testing, the Press Journal would be all over the story.”

Reader Poll: Drug testing for School Board members


Charles Searcy

Charles Searcy

Newly elected Indian River County School Board member Charles Searcy will soon become an employee of the District.  As an employee, he will receive a salary and will be eligible for benefits. Yet, unlike all other School Board members, as well as employees, contractors and volunteers of the District, Searcy is refusing to submit to a background check and drug testing.

The School Board’s attorney has said Searcy can refuse fingerprinting, background tests and a drug test, so long as he is willing to be escorted when he is on any one of the District’s school campuses, including charter school campuses.

The Board attorney’s opinion is predictable, given that when Searcy is sworn in he will become one of her bosses. Because it would set an exceeding poor example for Indian River County’s school children to let Searcy thumb his nose at Florida law, the Board should seek the legal opinion from Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

At least according to Florida Statutes, the only way Searcy can be assigned an “escort,” is if an when he fails a drug test. So far, he has refused even to be tested.

News of Searcy arrogant refusal to submit to fingerprinting, a background check and a drug test has yet to be reported in the Press Journal newspaper, whose editorial board endorsed him in the recent election. The silence of the lambs on this story is yet another example of how the Press Journal is failing to fulfill its promise to offer readers what Press Journal editors themselves call “watchdog” journalism.  If the tables were turned, if Searcy’s opponent, Randy Heimler had won the election and were now refusing to comply with state law and School Board policy on background checks and drug testing, the Press Journal would be all over the story.

Below are the relevant Florida Statutes with which Searcy is refusing to comply:


Counter revolt in Kansas mirrors limited-government debate in Vero Beach 1



After four years of cutting taxes and state spending, Kansas Gov.Sam Brownback faces a revolt from within the Republican Party.  JOHN HANNA/AP

After four years of cutting taxes and state spending, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback faces a revolt from within the Republican Party. JOHN HANNA/AP

Today’s New York Times features a report on Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s struggle to win re-election after four years of drastically cutting taxes, spending and state programs, including education.

In a Sept. 9 editorial, the Kansas City Star editorial board wrote, “New figures indicate Kansas’ redial income tax cuts still are reducing revenue expected to help provide public services.”

In June, 2013, RollingStones Magazine published a story headlined, “Rogue State: How far-right fanatics hijacked Kansas.”

Stateline reporter, John Gramlich wrote that Brownback’s radical limited-government agenda has been, “gutting spending on social services and education, privatizing the state’s Medicaid system, undermining the teacher’s union, becoming the only state to entirely abolish funding for the arts, boasting that he would sign any anti-abortion bill that crossed his desk, and – most significantly – pushing through the largest package of tax cuts in Kansas history. His avowed goal is to eliminate the state income tax altogether, a move that many predict will torpedo the budget and engender even more draconian cuts in spending.”

Thought 1400 miles distance Vero Beach, Florida from Topeka, Kansas, the conservative revolt and counter-revolt in the heartland in some ways mirrors the debate soon to take place in Vero Beach, as seven candidates vying for three seats on the city council begin explaining in more detail their vision for the future of the city. Essentially, the divide is over the proper role of local government. More…

City Council candidate Harry Howle III takes down personal Facebook page 2

Since filing to run for a seat on the Vero Beach City Council, Harry Howle deactivated his Facebook page.

Since filing to run for a seat on the Vero Beach City Council, Harry Howle deactivated his Facebook page.



Harry Howle III

Harry Howle III

HowleNewly elected Indian River County School Board member, Charles Searcy, this week refused to take a drug test required of all School District employees and volunteers. While Searcy is unwilling to be drug tested, Vero Beach City Council candidate, Harry Howle III, apparently wonders if he can pass a Facebook test.

Howle's signes bear a resemblance to former Congressman Allen West's signs.  West is another Tea Party favorite.

Howle’s signs bear a resemblance to former Congressman Allen West’s signs. West is a Tea Party favorite.

Howle’s Facebook page, which was reportedly peppered with right wing rants and Tea Party tirades, has been taken down.

Since anything is possible, it could be Howle’s last-minute entry into the city council race came at the urgings of the American Civil Liberties Union, but it is far more likely Howle’s backers will turn out to be members of the Indian River Tea Party, the same limited government champions who continue to cheer on Councilwoman Pilar Turner as she advocates policies sure to lead to the disincorporation of the City of Vero Beach.

Could it be that after scolding former candidate Brian Curley so harshly he withdrew from the council race, local Tea Party leaders turned to Howle to help Pilar Turner carry their banner?  The answer to this question may come in early October, when Howle files his first campaign finance report. As they say, follow the money.

Howle, who qualified to run Sept. 5, the final day of the qualifying period, has since been unavailable to speak by phone, has not responded to email inquiries, and has been too busy to schedule interviews.  As one local politico put it, “It is as if Howle submitted his filing papers and then dropped off the face of the earth.”

Though Howle has apparently been too busy to communicate, he has at least had time to come up with a campaign logo, which was posted this morning on his wife’s Facebook page.


Overnight shooting turns deadly Reply


At approximately 3:35 A.M. Indian River County Sheriff’s Office Deputies responded to a call of shots fired in the 2900 block of 45th Street in Gifford. Deputy Robert Sunkel located a thirty-year-old black male with multiple gunshot wounds laying near a local barber shop. Deputies Sunkel and Evans performed CPR until Indian River County Fire Rescue arrived and transported the wounded male to Indian River Memorial Hospital. The man later died as a result of his gunshot wounds. More…

Detectives seek information in armed robbery Reply



Saturday evening, deputies and detectives responded to an armed robbery in the 700 block of 4th Street in Vero Beach. Just after 10:00 P.M. a white male dressed in black with his face covered entered the convenience store portion of a gas station and pointed a gun at the clerk. The unidentified robber grabbed money from the cash register and fled from the store. The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, Hawk, and a K9 tracked the suspect, but were unable to locate him. Crime scene detectives responded and processed the scene for forensic evidence. More…

Two local elections officials awarded national certification honors Reply

Stephanie Nelson and Trisha Boyle

Stephanie Nelson and Trisha Boyle


The Indian River County Supervisor of Elections Office announced that Tricia Boyle, Accounting and Operations Coordinator and Stephanie Nelson, Technical Programs Coordinator have received their Certified Elections/Registration Administrator (CERA) designation, the highest professional achievement awarded by the Election Center, a non-profit association comprised of voter registrars and elections administrators throughout America.

“The Indian River County Supervisor of Elections Office is indeed fortunate to have six out of nine full time employees earn CERA status. Obtaining and maintaining CERA status demonstrates the Elections Office commitment to a career long process of continuing education in order to improve the electoral process in Florida and the nation,” Supervisor of Elections, Leslie Swan stated. More…

When a candidate forum becomes an echo chamber everyone loses 3


The solutions to our nation’s and our community’s problems will not be found by subtracting voices and dividing groups. Such tactics only lead to myopia. Rather, progress will come by adding to the discussion varying perspectives, thus multiplying energy and creativity. It is time even the most partisan zealots realize that in the realm of real-world politics two minus one equals, not one, but always some negative number, while one plus one adds up to a much larger sum multiplied by the power of synergy.


How do you describe a discussion in which all the participants think alike? Boring. Even worse, unenlightening, uninspiring and unproductive, a cyclone of hot air.

When local Republicans hold their so-called candidate forums, they only want hear from fellow Republicans. No independent thinkers, and certainly no Democrats, are allowed to participate, not even in forums held for non-partisan races, such as the coming Vero Beach City Council election.

Recently, I was told the members of the Indian River County Republican executive committee must pledge to support only Republican candidates, even if one candidate, registered as an Independent, has a stellar background and business reputation, while his opponent, a Republican, is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. This was certainly the case in the 2012 Indian River County Commission race between Independent Tony Denadio and Republican Tim Zorc.

I have often wondered why the crowd chose Barabbas over Jesus in that fateful election held at the feet of Pontius Pilate. Now I think I get it. Barabbas must have been a card-carrying member of the dominant political party. This may sound flippant, even sacrilegious, but I do believe that if Jesus ran as a Democrat, or even as an Independent, he could not win election in Indian River County. Turn the tables, and the same would probably be true in a Democratic stronghold. More…

New, free volunteer service available to local nonprofits Reply

United Way offers easy-to-use web-based platform matching donors, advocates, and volunteers with opportunities for service


United Way LogoUnited Way of Indian River County has picked up the baton for promoting and managing volunteerism by hosting a new website, .

“Other organizations have done some volunteer coordination in the past but there has been nobody taking the lead in Indian River County in recent years,” explained Michael Kint, CEO, United Way of Indian River County. “We have tested this website ourselves and with our funded partners, now we’re excited to offer it to any nonprofit that uses volunteers.” More…

Tompkins named chairman of Indian River Community Foundation’s Professional Advisors Council Reply


Sue Tompkins and Scott Alexander

Sue Tompkins and Scott Alexander

The Indian River Community Foundation is pleased to announce Sue Tompkins, Vice President and Wealth Management Advisor at Merrill Lynch, has been appointed as chairman of the organization’s Professional Advisors Council. Ms. Tompkins takes the reigns from Scott Alexander, President of Northern Trust, who has served as chairman since its inception in 2009.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to bring greater attention to the important role advisors play in helping improve our community through donor-driven philanthropy,” Tompkins said. “Indian River County is blessed with so many charitably inclined residents. It is important for local advisors to understand the opportunities and tools available to help clients support the causes they care about most.” More…

Indian River State College named top ten finalist for 2015 Aspen Prize Reply

1200 celebrate at five IRSC campuses




Indian River State College was named as a top-ten finalist for the prestigious Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, America’s most respected and selective recognition of sustained high achievement and performance in state and community colleges. After a rigorous review of the College’s performance, IRSC was selected as one of ten Prize finalists from a pool of more than 1,000 colleges nationwide. More…

IRMC employees help students with school supplies Reply


A partial group of those who contributed were Cricket Crum, Patient Access specialist; Richard Smith, registered radiographer; B.J. Enright, Patient Access specialist; Kim Burgess, medical assistant; and Tracy Williams.

A partial group of those who contributed were Cricket Crum, Patient Access specialist; Richard Smith, registered radiographer; B.J. Enright, Patient Access specialist; Kim Burgess, medical assistant; and Tracy Williams.

The employees at Indian River Medical Center’s Walk-in Care—Sebastian and IRMC Family Practice North with Dr. Marie Prinsen collected and donated school supplies to Sebastian Elementary School recently as part of a Sebastian community project. “I dropped them off at the school and they were so appreciative,” said Tracy Williams, office manager, Walk-in Care—Sebastian.

Ruby receives Neal Stannard Scholarship 2

Kaitlin Ruby

Kaitlin Ruby Photo By J. Scott Kelly/Island Images

Treasure and Space Coast Radio, again honors deceased radio anchor, Neil Stannard with their second disbursement of the Neal Stannard Scholarship fund. This year’s recipient was awarded to Kaitlin Ruby, who recently graduated from Indian River Charter School as an honors/Ap/duel enrollment student. Her honors included being awarded Miss Hibiscus at the 2014 festival, receiving the Bill Posey congressional Award of Merit and the National Honor Society to name a few.

The Treasure and Space Coast Radio sponsored award chose to focus the scholarship recipients to those who have a love of theatre, music, and writing, all things Neil was profusely prolific at performing. Kaitlin, before leaving for college this summer, preformed to high acclaim Miss Annie Sullivan in the Vero Beach Theatre performance of Guide Miracle Worker. Her other credits include The Great Gatsby, Blood relations ,Spring Awakening and numerous others.

She began her sophomore year this past August at Stetson University, where she is studying Performance, and was grateful for the $1000 to go toward tuition. For more information or application for next year’s scholarship please contact Karen Franke at Treasure and Space Coast radio 772-567-0937.