Mary Kate Leming's Posts (242)

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By Mary Hladky
 
Boca Raton bicyclists have pressed city officials for years to make streets safer for them, but a horrific Jan. 4 crash on State Road A1A in Gulf Stream injuring six cyclists struck by an SUV has made the issue even more urgent.

At the invitation of City Council member Fran Nachlas, members of the Florida Share the Road Coalition, formed after the Gulf Stream crash, as well as the city’s Citizens’ Pedestrian and Bikeway Advisory Board and well-known local cyclist Jim Wood, spoke at a Feb. 12 council workshop meeting. Municipal Services Director Zach Bihr then outlined what the city is doing to improve safety.

Also fresh on everyone’s mind was a March 3, 2023, crash at the intersection of Federal Highway and Palmetto Park Road downtown that claimed the life of bicyclist and Boca resident Mark Rudow, 66, who was struck by a pickup truck.

Stressing the need to prevent tragedies and improve safety, coalition member Cameron Oster said that pedestrian and bicyclist deaths combined represented a third of the fatal crashes in Palm Beach County.

“Our mission is to make A1A and Palm Beach County safer for drivers and recreational traffic while preserving the beauty of the coastline, allowing community members and our visitors to enjoy it, whether by two feet, two wheels or four wheels,” he said.

While improvements are needed throughout the city, his 2,000-member organization is prioritizing A1A, which is highly popular with cyclists.

The Florida Department of Transportation is planning a $7.3 million project to make over the nearly 5-mile stretch of A1A that runs through Boca Raton. It is expected to start in the fall of 2027.

Another FDOT project will tackle the 3 miles of A1A through Highland Beach beginning this summer.

Holli Sutton, chair of the Citizens’ Pedestrian and Bikeway Advisory Board that is coordinating with city officials to identify roadway deficiencies, said the group has a list of 27 projects that should be done. Among them is improving commuter routes to the Brightline station.

Wood showed photos of existing bike lanes that are in poor condition and said very little had been done to improve them.

A pressing need, he said, is to connect the existing five shared-use trails in the city. Sutton echoed that recommendation.

Wood also called for construction of protected bike lanes that are separated from car traffic by barriers, which he said is much safer than separating them with white lines.

“We hear you,” Nachlas said after listening to the presentations. “And we want to keep hearing what you have to say.”

Bihr said that his municipal services staff has identified 118 potential projects, which would cost about $165 million — an amount that Mayor Scott Singer said “will require difficult choices on prioritization.”

The city has hired a consultant to help staff create a comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian plan, Bihr said.

He noted that the city will be making major changes to East Palmetto Park Road that will improve its appearance and make it better for walking and cycling.

The city also has received grant funding for upgrades to El Rio Trail lighting and a shared-use path on Southwest 18th Street.

The city will soon hire a director of transportation and mobility whose job will include improving bikeability.

“I truly believe to have someone at the helm of that … will be pivotal to our success,” said Council member Yvette Drucker.

The city joined the national Vision Zero campaign in 2022 and received a $300,000 grant last year to create a plan to improve safety for all roadway users with the aim of eliminating severe traffic injuries and deaths.

It also is participating in Complete Streets, an approach to planning, designing and maintaining streets to reduce risks for all road users.

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By Mary Hladky

A former Boca Raton City Council member and a former unsuccessful council candidate will face off in the March 19 city election to fill the seat now held by term-limited Deputy Mayor Monica Mayotte.

Vying for Seat D are Andy Thomson, who resigned his council seat in 2022 to pursue his unsuccessful candidacy for the Florida House District 91 seat now held by Peggy Gossett-Seidman, and Brian Stenberg, who lost to incumbent Mayotte in 2021.

In the Seat C race, Council member Yvette Drucker, who is seeking her second three-year term, is being challenged by Bernard Korn, a repeat candidate who received almost no support in his previous attempts to win office.

12390437883?profile=RESIZE_400xSeat D
Thomson, senior counsel at the Baritz & Colman law firm in Boca Raton and an adjunct professor at Florida Atlantic University teaching local and state government, lost his first campaign for council in 2017, won a special election to it in 2018 and was reelected without opposition in 2020.

He has endorsements from the Boca Raton IAFF local 1560 firefighters and paramedics union; Business Leaders United for Boca Raton, the political arm of the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce; the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35; Palm Beach County School Board member Frank Barbieri; Broward, Palm Beaches & St. Lucie Realtors; Hispanic Vote of Palm Beach County; the South Florida Sun Sentinel and the Palm Beach Post.

Thomson is running again for a council seat, he said, because even though the council accomplished many things while he served, “there is more to be done and I want to see it through.”

Those accomplishments included helping secure a Brightline station for the city and enacting a recertification program to ensure that condominiums are safe following the 2021 collapse of a Surfside condo.

“I loved the job while I had it,” he said. “You can get a lot accomplished at the local level, more than a single person can accomplish at the state level.”

When council members were at odds, Thomson often advanced solutions or compromises that helped them reach consensus.

He launched “Run the City” in 2021, in which he and volunteers jogged all 475 miles of city streets, picking up trash and spotting safety issues. Thomson kept it up after leaving office, and he and the volunteers so far have picked up 1,500 pounds of trash and identified more than 450 needed safety improvements that mostly have been fixed.

His priorities are getting public safety officials the resources they need to keep the city safe, addressing traffic congestion, making sure city growth is done responsibly and keeping the tax rate low.

Asked why voters should support him rather than Stenberg, Thomson noted that the city has a new city manager and deputy city manager, and two relatively new council members. A new finance director will be in place soon and the city attorney will retire in the next few years.

“That’s a lot of institutional knowledge that has left,” he said. “Now is not the time for inexperienced decision-makers. I have that experience in spades.”

As of Feb. 16, Thomson had raised $107,489 for his campaign.

Stenberg, a partner in the Greenfield Properties medical office real estate management firm, is making his second bid to serve on the council after Mayotte defeated him in 2021 with 58.8% of the vote.

He remained in the public’s eye since then as treasurer of the Federation of Boca Raton Homeowners Associations and as a member of the Boca Raton Housing Authority board before resigning late last year to run for the council.

He also is president of the Boca Square Civic Association and serves on the Palm Beach County Planning Commission.

Most recently, he opposed Mayor Scott Singer’s attempt to increase City Council terms from three years to four. Voters soundly defeated the proposed change last March.

Stenberg said he decided to run again because he got enough votes in 2021 to give him encouragement to do so. As a businessman who has become involved in matters that led him to speak at City Council and city board meetings, he thinks he has something to offer.

“I have learned a lot over the years and I feel it is incumbent on me to use what I have learned to bring about the common good,” he said.

Further, most of the current council members live in western Boca, while he lives in the eastern part of the city and will bring that perspective to the council. “I think we have a different perspective, living every day with the growing congestion and traffic,” he said.

He wants “respectful growth” that does not lead to overbuilding and damaging the city’s quality of life.

“I would like to see a little more pushback by council members and people on the Planning and Zoning Board,” he said. “When a developer comes before the bodies and the proposal they are making is outside the balance we are accustomed to in Boca Raton, someone has to push back against that.”

Stenberg drew criticism in 2021 when he turned his campaign negative, criticizing Mayotte for making “anti-senior comments” that led to a lawsuit against the city and another action by Mayotte and former Deputy Mayor Andrea O’Rourke that resulted in an adverse court ruling.

Stenberg owned up to going dark at the time, and now says he was relying on the advice of a political consultant. But it won’t happen again because residents told him they didn’t like it, he said.

“That definitely is not a thing that I will do this time around,” he said. “People don’t want it.”

Stenberg has raised only $13,100, and $4,620 of that came from personal loans to his campaign.

That is by design, he said. He is saving money by doing without a consultant and reaching out to voters directly and through volunteers. He also is not focused on getting endorsements.

“I decided this is something I could do myself with volunteers,” he said. “It just requires a little more work and creativity.”

12390437699?profile=RESIZE_400xSeat C
Drucker, a first-generation Cuban American who is the first Hispanic to serve on the City Council, came to office as a former chair of the city’s Education Task Force. She also is a longtime volunteer with many organizations, including the Junior League of Boca Raton and the Boca Raton Historical Society.

She now is on the executive board of the Palm Beach County Transportation Planning Agency and serves on several committees with the Florida League of Cities, including the Legislative Advocacy Committee. She also is a voting delegate member of the Palm Beach County League of Cities. Most recently, she was appointed to the National League of Cities Transportation and Infrastructure Services Federal Advocacy Committee to help set policy priorities on transportation and infrastructure.

Although dubious when council members asked her to represent them on the TPA, Drucker is now enthusiastic about her work there and has elevated improving transportation and mobility to a top passion.

She also devotes considerable effort to monitoring legislation under consideration in Tallahassee, especially bills that take away the power of city leaders to make decisions on behalf of their residents.

Although Korn is not likely to end her council career, Drucker said, “I take every election seriously. … Hopefully I will get another three years to complete what I started.
“I am going to continue a commonsense mentality when it comes to development and will hold City Hall accountable” for maintaining a balanced budget and providing quality services to city residents, she said.

Drucker has endorsements from the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce’s political arm, Professional Firefighters and Paramedics of Boca Raton, Boca Raton Fraternal Order of Police, Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance, the South Florida Sun Sentinel and the Palm Beach Post.

She has raised $45,279 for her campaign, which includes a $500 personal loan.

Korn, a real estate broker, has twice lost elections to Mayor Singer and once to Drucker. In the 2021 race against Drucker, he drew 4.9% of the vote.

While he spoke with one Coastal Star writer compiling facts at a glance on his campaign, he did not desire to speak with a second writer delving into details.

His current and previous campaigns have focused on alleged corruption in the city and among council members.

“We must stop corruption in Boca Raton City. Boca Raton City Council Members are greatly influenced by Special Interest Groups, Lobbyists and Political Action Committees. DARK MONEY PREVAILS in our great city.” he wrote in a statement to The Coastal Star.

“IT’S TIME FOR AN FBI INVESTIGATION INTO BOCA RATON POLITICS,” he said in another statement.

He is self-financing his campaign with $5,550 but spent only $334 through Feb. 16.

It has long been unclear if Korn is a city resident.

He has produced a driver’s license and voter registration card showing he lives on the barrier island at 720 Marble Way, but his campaign financial reports list his address as a P.O. box in the city’s downtown post office.

County property records show that Korn and his wife own a home at 19078 Skyridge Circle in an unincorporated area far west of the city.

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By Mary Hladky

Most Boca Raton City Council candidates facing off in a Feb. 8 candidate forum ahead of the March 19 municipal election advanced similar views on many issues, but the city’s tax rate sparked disagreement.

Brian Stenberg, who is running against former Council member Andy Thomson for Seat D, said city revenues must increase to pay for the rising cost of running a growing city. He acknowledged that suggesting a tax increase is “not a popular thing to say.”

Bernard Korn, a Seat C candidate who has been soundly defeated in three previous attempts to win a council seat, did not address the tax rate directly, but said the city has crumbling infrastructure and “is in bad shape.”

“We probably are going to need $1 billion to keep up to speed,” he said.

Thomson, an attorney who resigned from the council in late 2022 to make an ultimately unsuccessful run for the Florida House District 91 seat, was unequivocal.

“I am not going to be raising taxes,” he said. “We have one of the lowest tax rates in the state. That attracts a lot of businesses and residents to the city. … I will not dig into your pocket” to raise revenue.

Incumbent City Council member Yvette Drucker, who is challenged by Korn in her bid for a second three-year term, said she opposes higher taxes.

The city can improve efficiency and “run a lean machine” to maintain the revenue needed to continue providing quality services, she said.

Asked by the forum moderator about how to handle development and redevelopment, Korn, a real estate broker, was the most strident.

Builders and developers “hate me because I oppose unrestricted and unlimited development,” he said.

His top priority, Korn said, is to “end uncontrolled development. It must be fixed.”

Thomson acknowledged that the city will continue to grow. The role of the City Council, he said, is to manage growth “responsibly.”

Drucker, the council’s first Hispanic member and a longtime volunteer with many organizations, said the council must find the right balance so that development and redevelopment are done with “common sense.”

Stenberg, a partner in a medical office real estate management firm who made an unsuccessful council run in 2021, called for “respectful growth” that would prevent overdevelopment.

When candidates were asked about their top priorities, Thomson’s list included strong public safety, keeping taxes low, maintaining the high quality of the city’s parks, and addressing traffic issues.

Drucker has made fixing transportation problems a top focus as a council member. She said she would continue her work on traffic and mobility, along with increasing the stock of affordable housing.

“Public safety and making sure our children are safe,” said Stenberg.

The candidates were respectful of each other, with the exception of Korn, who repeatedly attacked Drucker.

He complained that Drucker had an unfair advantage in the 2021 election because council members months earlier had appointed her to temporarily fill the council seat left vacant when Jeremy Rodgers was deployed on an overseas military assignment.

Drucker, who became a candidate to replace Rodgers permanently, won 50.6% of the vote, defeating Korn and two other challengers. Korn garnered 4.9%.

He said Drucker had raised “all” her campaign contributions from developers. Drucker said that was “inaccurate,” noting that she obtained contributions from a “wide range” of supporters.

Her campaign financial forms show that while she has support from developers and land use attorneys, they are not the only contributors to her campaign.

Korn said Drucker was a “co-signer” on a city ordinance that “destroyed the elections system for years to come.” He contends it restricts a candidate’s ability to collect valid petitions that qualify the candidate to run for office.

Although Drucker did not know at the time what ordinance Korn was talking about, she immediately shot back: “You need to get your facts straight. I won my election.”

Ordinances do not have co-signers. The ordinance Korn cited resulted in large part from his previous candidacies when he created confusion about where he lives. Candidates must be city residents.

It lengthened the time people must have lived in the city from 30 days to one year before they can qualify to run and required residents to provide proof of residency. It also disqualified from running those who have a homestead exemption on a property outside the city limits. It eliminated a requirement that candidates pay a $25 qualifying fee, and instead requires them to submit a petition with the signatures of at least 200 registered city voters.

Council members started work on the changes about two months before Drucker joined the council.

They were approved by voters in the March 9, 2021, election, after which the ordinance was enacted.

For this election, as has been the case in his previous candidacies, Korn produced a driver’s license and voter registration card showing his address is on the barrier island at 720 Marble Way, but his campaign financial reports list his address as a P.O. box in the city’s downtown post office.

County property records show that Korn and his wife own a home at 19078 Skybridge Circle, in an unincorporated area west of the city. In the past, the records showed that the couple claimed a homestead exemption on the home.

But last year, Korn provided a homestead withdrawal form from the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office to the city. His wife still claims the exemption.

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The Coastal Star received 13 awards from the Florida Press Club at its annual recognition ceremony in January.

“We always appreciate the judges’ recognition of the excellent journalism done by our writers, photographers and designers,” Executive Editor Mary Kate Leming said. “These award winners are professionals dedicated to community journalism.”

Reporter Rich Pollack led the paper’s awardees with a first-place and two second-place honors in the annual FPC Excellence in Journalism Competition.

Pollack’s first-place award, in the education category, reported on how the pandemic-driven migration to Florida of affluent families from up north was pushing up enrollment figures at the region’s elite private schools. One judge’s comments said Pollack’s entry was “well written and well researched.”

Pollack’s second-place awards came in the light features and public safety categories.

The awards announced Jan. 27 were for work published from June 1, 2022 to May 31, 2023.

Other prize winners for The Coastal Star were:
• Steve Plunkett, second place in the breaking news category;
• Charles Elmore, second place in health writing;
• John Pacenti, three third-place awards, in environmental news, general news and health writing;
• Tim Stepien, two third-place awards, in feature photo essay and general news photography;
• Janis Fontaine, third place in religion news;
• Scott Simmons, third place in feature page design layout;
• Leming, third place for commentary writing.

In a separate competition, Paws Up for Pets columnist Arden Moore won two awards in the Dog Writers Association of America’s 2023 competition announced in February — and she was a finalist for three others — for her works published in The Coastal Star.

Her winning entries were in the behavior or training and the rescue categories. Those entries were a column with savvy advice from dog trainers and another about rescue groups helping with animals displaced by hurricanes.

Moore also won a separate award for her Four Legged Life radio program. 
— Staff report

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By Steve Plunkett

In a long-running lawsuit over public records requests made by the owner of an undeveloped beachfront parcel on State Road A1A, a judge has decided that Boca Raton “unlawfully withheld and illegally delayed” turning over 42 documents that were “damning to the city.”

Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Donald Hafele said in his Feb. 1 ruling that he was not suggesting that the city purposely withheld the records. And he had no issue with what he called the city’s “substantial” efforts, which included handing over some 122 gigabytes of data or roughly a half-million pages of information.

“However, the court finds that whomever it was, be it the city attorney, be it the clerk, be it the elected officials themselves, that the production (of the records) was late, untimely, led to the filing of this lawsuit and the non-production was prejudicial to the plaintiff and its business pursuits,” Hafele wrote in his 37-page opinion.

The conflict arose after Delray Beach-based Azure Development LLC, an affiliate of 2600 N Ocean LLC, was denied a permit in February 2019 to build a four-story duplex at 2600 N. Ocean Blvd. east of the Coastal Construction Control Line.

Azure had already made public records requests in March and November 2018 and in January 2019 seeking “any and all documents, including emails, text messages, social media accounts, or official or unofficial reports” regarding or referencing 2600 N. Ocean. Robert Sweetapple, Azure’s lawyer, noted on the requests — in boldface and all capital letters — that he also wanted to see “text messages and emails from private accounts.”

The developer filed its initial public records complaint in March 2019. Four years passed before the city provided Facebook Messenger conversations between Jessica Gray, founder of the anti-development group Boca Save our Beaches, and then-Deputy Mayor Jeremy Rodgers in which Rodgers stated that “I’m of course going to continue going NO on 2500 and likely NO on 2600,” referring to two beachfront parcels.

By that time, a panel of circuit judges had disqualified former Council member Andrea O’Rourke and soon-to-be term-limited Council member Monica Mayotte from voting on the 2600 N. Ocean application, also based on their email messages to constituents and to each other.

Judge Hafele noted that “timely production of the Rodgers Facebook Messenger exchanges might well have led to a determination that a majority of Council members had prejudged 2600’s application.”

In a statement, attorney Sweetapple said, “In effect, the city has for years been running a secret government on private devices and social media of elected and other officials. …

The city’s conduct entirely undermines the requirements of open government and open public records.”

In a federal case brought by the owner of 2500 N. Ocean Blvd., a nearby undeveloped beachfront parcel, U.S. District Judge Rodney Smith disqualified O’Rourke, Mayotte and Mayor Scott Singer from involvement in future issues regarding development of either the 2500 or the 2600 parcel, citing bias on their part.

Hafele denied Azure’s requests for declaratory, injunctive or other supplemental equitable relief but said the city would have to pay Azure’s attorney’s fees and costs.

Sweetapple estimated that Boca Raton will be liable for around $2 million in legal fees incurred by Azure and the owner of 2500 N. Ocean, in addition to the amounts already spent by the city to defend its behavior.

Azure has since decided it wants to build a three-story single-family residence instead of four stories with less glass than its original submission. Its revised plan must still be presented for a recommendation by the city’s Environmental Advisory Board and a vote by the City Council.

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By Steve Plunkett

The first look at a city consultant’s ideas for reimagining part of Palmetto Park Road was not a good one.

First off, Boca Raton City Council members did not get backup documents for the Feb. 26 presentation by Alta Planning + Design — but enterprising residents called them with questions before the meeting after getting copies via a public records request.

“I just want to know why the public had access to this and we did not,” Deputy Mayor Monica Mayotte said.

Then, Alta engineer and principal Alia Awwad gave council members, sitting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, a “very quick, high-level overview” of the firm’s timeline, starting with data collected after it was given its first work order in late September and running through a planned summary report of its efforts to come this summer.

The firm, which has a $431,645 contract, has already spent time creating a branding identity and logo for its campaign.

“We just received the peak season traffic counts that were just done in January and that’s going to be really beneficial for us,” Awwad said.

In March and April “is when we’re going to really roll out the engagement process” with stakeholders and residents, she said, “and that will lead us to start to develop those mobility strategy and ideas — what’s feasible and what’s not.”

Council members were impatient for results and underwhelmed by the progress.

“I just feel like it should be moving faster,” Mayotte said.

Council member Yvette Drucker wondered whether the “Make Connections/East Palmetto Downtown” slogan should be changed to “Make Connections/Downtown Boca” instead.

“I don’t want a deliverable that is not effective after we spent all this time and money,” she said.

Council member Marc Wigder, who chairs the CRA, noted that the redevelopment agency was established 40 years ago.

“And so when we, all the public says we’re waiting, we’re not just waiting for the last two years. We’re waiting for the activation of Palmetto Park Road for 40 years and it has still yet to occur,” he said.

Alta is looking at the road from City Hall east to just before the Intracoastal Waterway bridge. It will host virtual meetings with various stakeholder groups in March and is preparing to put an informational website and a voluntary survey online, Awwad said. Two meetings open to the public are planned for April 10 and April 17.

Her firm’s goal, she said, is to “create a place that is beautiful, that people would love to visit and stay at, not just pass through. And that is essentially what Alta specializes in.
“We don’t just build streets. We would never build highways and interchanges. We specialize in building communities.”

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Residents packed a Feb. 1 meeting with Palm Beach County Commissioner Marci Woodward to oppose the county’s plans for the Milani Park site in Highland Beach. They at least want parking spaces on the west side of the project curtailed (below).
Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

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By Rich Pollack

Could the western portion of the controversial Milani Park property in Highland Beach be used for something other than a 40-space-plus parking lot?

That was one of the questions Highland Beach residents asked when more than 250 people, some wearing “No Park” stickers, packed into the town’s library early last month to let

Commissioner Marci Woodward and other Palm Beach County officials know their objections to the planned development of the park.

The suggestions on what to do with the 5.6-acre property that straddles State Road A1A included a wide range of ideas.

Current county plans include building a boardwalk leading to the beach on the east side of the property and installing historical and educational signage. The west side would be used for parking.

Although residents expressed concern about environmental impact and safety issues that a park would create on the east side, the parking lot on the west side of A1A seemed to be the residents’ biggest concern.

One resident suggested just leaving the property vacant and letting it become a natural area. Another suggested transforming it into a neighborhood park, which would have limited parking and benches and other amenities that residents could enjoy after riding their bikes or walking.

Another recommendation, submitted to county leaders in writing, was to use the property for pickleball courts, according to Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Cirillo.

Town commissioners, at one of their meetings last month, continued to press for another option: To have the county sell the property for development and use the millions of dollars it receives for other, more pressing projects. The county bought the land from the Milani family for a beachfront park more than 30 years ago for $4 million.

“Palm Beach County could utilize the funds from the sale coupled with funds not used to develop the park to address crucial community needs, including affordable and workforce housing, recreation facilities and parks, or other capital projects throughout Palm Beach County,” said a resolution that passed unanimously.

As part of the town’s push for alternative uses for the property, Mayor Natasha Moore was dispatched to meet with members of the County Commission who represent other districts, to present the town’s position.

Cirillo said that county leaders are listening to the suggestions of residents.

While the idea of using the property for pickleball courts probably isn’t getting much traction, the option of transforming the west side into a neighborhood park hasn’t been totally ruled out. But the idea faces many obstacles before it could be ruled in.

Cirillo said the neighborhood park option hasn’t been discussed by the team that will make recommendations on changes, if any, and pointed out that only one of the county’s 26 neighborhood parks has parking spaces.

Neighborhood parks, she said, draw from a radius of about a half-mile, with visitors coming mostly on foot or by bicycle. Beach parks, she said, generally draw residents from within a seven-mile radius.

Cirillo said that one of the county’s reasons for wanting a park at the Milani site is the lack of county parks in South County.

“There is a county beach park desert where Milani Park exists,” she said, adding that the only county beach parks in South County are South Inlet Park in Boca Raton, Gulfstream Park near Gulf Stream, and Ocean Inlet and Hammock parks in Ocean Ridge.

She said that a recent survey of county residents showed that they put a top priority on more beaches.

“Our purpose with Milani Park is to provide countywide residents with access to the beach,” she said.

While some have suggested that the money from selling the property could be used for parks in the northern portion of the county, Cirillo said that area already has a half-dozen beach parks.

“The location of Milani Park is important,” she said.

Cirillo said she couldn’t comment on whether the county could legally sell the property for development since it was acquired through a voter- approved bond issue, but she does not believe it would be a good idea to sell it for residential development.

“The property was intentionally acquired for a public purpose,” she said. “Ethically, it would be difficult to sell it for another purpose because voters approved the bond issue for recreational and cultural purposes.”

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By Rich Pollack

The buzz is gone.

Normally the last weeks before referendum issues are decided are filled with presentations from town leaders, mail flyers explaining the rationale behind the ballot questions, and postcards being handed out to people strolling on the walking path.

This year, however, with Highland Beach residents having a chance to vote on three issues March 19 — including increasing the Town Commission spending cap from $350,000 to $900,000 — there’s been little talk about the issues.

“It’s been quiet,” says Town Manager Marshall Labadie.

One reason for that, Labadie says, could be that there is little opposition to any of the three ballot questions — the spending cap, a request for up to $3.5 million for a sewer lining project, and approval of a measure to allow the supervisor of elections office to oversee the town’s election canvassing board.

Another reason, Labadie says, could be a new state law that prohibits local governments from spending tax dollars to communicate with the public on ballot questions.

“We can no longer take the extra step to explain the rationale behind the questions or to produce insight into commission discussions about the issues,” he said. “We can’t do a lot of outreach.”

Labadie added: “There might be an element of the community who won’t be knowledgeable because we don’t have the ability to educate them about the questions at hand.”

Residents can still go to the town’s website to find the referendum questions and a short explanation of how the questions were chosen, and they can reach out to town leaders with any questions.

What impact the law will have on voter turnout is still unknown, Labadie said. While there are no races for the Town Commission or other local elected office to be decided, Republican voters will go to the polls to cast their ballots in the Presidential Preference Primary, which includes former President Donald Trump.

In a change from previous elections, in-person voting will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Highland Beach Library, 3618 S. Ocean Blvd., instead of at St. Lucy Catholic Church.

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By Mary Hladky

After eight months of protracted debate over how to implement the state’s Live Local Act in Boca Raton, City Council members on Feb. 13 cast their final votes on ordinances and city comprehensive plan changes that clear the way for developers to submit their plans for projects that include affordable housing.

Now that city rules are in place, officials expect to immediately receive many project applications from developers who have pressed council members hard to act quickly so they can build.

But the council’s work may not be finished. Bills to make changes to the state law that went into effect on July 1 were working their way through the state Legislature this session, and whatever passes may mean cities that have enacted local legislation will have to make changes to come into conformity. The session is scheduled to end on March 8.

While council members realize that many people who want to live in the city can’t afford to do so because of the surging costs of homes and apartments, implementing the state law that encourages developers to build affordable housing was fraught.

The reason is that the Live Local Act strips away the ability of local elected officials to control what is built within their borders. The law, critics contend, is a continuation of years of actions by the Legislature to assume control and override local decision-making.

“This is something that is being forced down our throats,” Council member Yvette Drucker said at a Sept. 11 meeting.

But developers who want to take advantage of financial incentives included in the law to build affordable housing wanted fast action.

“We have five (projects) that are ready to go,” prominent land use attorney Bonnie Miskel told the council on Aug. 22. “We need your help. We need to get these into the pipeline. Let’s give the market an opportunity to do it.”

Yet council members were not willing to rush ahead as they searched for whatever they could do, no matter how limited, to safeguard the city from the construction of huge developments that are not compatible with the areas in which they would be built.

The law has sparked outrage in cities across the state. In Miami-Dade County, for example, the village of Bal Harbour is seeking to block the proposed construction of a high-rise hotel and residential towers in an area where 90% of voters in 2021 rejected a proposal to build over current height limits. In Doral, city officials fought a 17-acre high-rise residential and commercial development next to a community of two-story townhomes before reaching a settlement that reduces the height of the buildings.

And there are complaints that the Live Local Act has yet to produce much housing that is actually affordable.

The law says that cities must allow multifamily and mixed-use residential in areas zoned for commercial, industrial or mixed use if at least 40% of the units are affordable for people who meet certain income criteria. The units must remain affordable for at least 30 years.

The law does not allow city leaders to restrict the density of a project below the highest allowed density on any land in the city. They can’t restrict the height below the highest allowed within 1 mile of a project. They also can’t impose rent controls.

That leaves cities able to control matters such as setbacks and parking.

Another option exists under a state statute that was amended under the Live Local Act. It allows projects to be built with only 10% affordable units in areas zoned commercial or industrial.

That is more palatable to city officials because the statute gives them discretion to impose controls. Local regulations, including those governing density and height, would not be preempted by the state.

Developers told council members they prefer that option because it allows them to build more market-rate units which are more lucrative. They shunned the 40% option because they can’t make enough profit building so many affordable units.

But projects that include only 10% affordable units won’t do much to resolve the need for more affordable housing.

So the council offered incentives that it hopes will boost the number of affordable units to at least 15%. A developer with a 10% project could build up to 20 units per acre. A 15% project could build up to 25 units per acre.

The projects cannot abut single-family properties or Palmetto Park Road east of the Intracoastal Waterway. Sidewalks and canopy trees will be required along street frontages. And affordable units cannot be of lesser quality than market-rate units in the same building.

The council also capped the number of new units that can be approved in 10% projects at 2,500 for now. If council members don’t like the new projects being built, they can put the brakes on any more construction.

In the last of a series of votes since October, the council on Feb. 13 voted 4-1 in favor of the ordinance that allows 10% projects, with Deputy Mayor Monica Mayotte dissenting.
She said she strongly supports affordable housing, but disagreed with changes other council members added to the ordinance. They were micromanaging, Mayotte said, and moving far afield from the goal of getting more affordable housing.

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12390429293?profile=RESIZE_710xNamed Lefty because his other front flipper is missing, a rare Kemp’s ridley sea turtle has moved into the Mangrove Aquarium at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. Photo provided

By Steve Plunkett

After an 11-month wait, the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center has a second “resident” sea turtle to amaze and educate its visitors.

Meet Lefty, a rare Kemp’s ridley sea turtle that arrived on Feb. 22 from Orlando’s SeaWorld to become the latest occupant of the Boca Raton nature center’s Mangrove Aquarium.

“He is missing most of his right front flipper and about half of his left front flipper,” said David Anderson, the city’s sea turtle conservation coordinator. “He has trouble swimming and surfacing in deep water and is non-releasable.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issues permits to qualified organizations and individuals to keep threatened or endangered sea turtles in captivity for educational, research and rehabilitative purposes. A non-releasable turtle could not survive on its own in the ocean.

Anderson said there is no record of how Lefty’s injuries occurred.

“Lefty’s early history, including where he originated from, how and exactly when he arrived at a facility in Florida is unknown,” he said. “This turtle resided at Miami Seaquarium from some point prior to January 1994 through May 2023.”

Since then, the turtle was temporarily housed at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach and at SeaWorld while the FWC searched for a permanent home.

Anderson said the state agency made Lefty’s situation a priority because he had been living in a rehabilitation setting for eight months and desperately needed something like Gumbo Limbo’s Mangrove Aquarium to thrive in. The mangrove exhibit is “a perfect depth and length for him to comfortably swim and surface,” he said.

“After hearing about Lefty we agreed to take him, and we are glad we did,” Anderson said. “He has settled in nicely and our staff is providing excellent care.”
Kemp’s ridley turtles are the smallest species of sea turtles in the world and one of the rarest, he said. They are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Like other turtle species, the major threats they face are loss of habitat, predation of eggs and hatchlings, vessel strikes, pollution and climate change.

Anderson also said the FWC told him that Lefty is the only permanent resident Kemp’s ridley on the east coast of Florida.

The Gumbo Limbo Nature Center had resident turtles Morgan and Cane for years until last March when the FWC ordered that the two reptiles be relocated after the city terminated its sea turtle rehabilitation coordinator and assistant coordinator.

Morgan returned to Gumbo Limbo in January.

The firings were part of a transfer of the care of the turtles from the city to the nonprofit Coastal Stewards. The group, formerly known as the Friends of Gumbo Limbo, has since hired a veterinarian and a rescue-rehabilitation coordinator and applied for a permit to resume giving medical care to sea turtles. The FWC is still reviewing the group’s application.

Morgan first came to Gumbo Limbo after being rescued in 2014. A sub-adult green turtle, she was hit by a boat and her injuries caused her to be partially paralyzed in her rear flippers.

Morgan was transferred to the Marinelife Center; Cane was taken to a facility in Stuart. The Coastal Stewards and Gumbo Limbo initially said the turtles were taking a vacation and would return soon.

“It is my understanding that Cane is doing well and has a great habitat at Florida Oceanographic Society,” said Anderson, who did not know what the FWC plans for Cane. “It is ultimately FWC’s decision to determine where particular individual turtles will be housed.”

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12390430481?profile=RESIZE_584xThe 28-unit Glass House Boca Raton condominium is proposed for 280 E. Palmetto Park Road. Rendering provided

By Mary Hladky

A developer has announced plans to build a nine-story condominium in the heart of downtown Boca Raton at 280 E. Palmetto Park Road.

The 28-unit Glass House Boca Raton is touted by 280 E. Palmetto Park Road LLC as “the first modern glass building” in the downtown. The two-, three- and four-bedroom condos will range from 2,550 to 3,990 square feet and are priced at $2.5 million to $6.9 million.

The developer is moving rapidly. The company submitted its plans to the city on Dec. 20, and they have received only a preliminary review. As of February, no dates had been set for consideration by the Planning and Zoning Board and City Council.

Yet the developer said in a news release that it launched sales in March. Groundbreaking is slated for the first quarter of 2025, with the project expected to be completed in the fall of 2026.

The architect is Garcia Stromberg of West Palm Beach, whose projects in Boca Raton include the Alina Residences and the makeover of The Boca Raton. Douglas Elliman Development Marketing is handling sales.

The condo will replace a former Bank of America private bank building. The developer bought the 0.62-acre site for $9.75 million in May.

A pool, jacuzzi, catering kitchen, fire pit and entertaining space will be located on the roof deck. The first floor will feature a fitness center, sauna and plunge pool, along with a residents-only lounge.

The building will have a doorman and two levels of underground air-conditioned and dehumidified parking.

Glass House is offering residents a limited number of preferred memberships with The Boca Raton, not including golf. A shuttle will take residents to the resort.
280 E. Palmetto Park Road LLC is managed by Brandon Chasen, CEO of Baltimore-based Chasen Companies, and Paul Davis, Chasen’s managing partner and chief investment officer. Adam Gottbetter, of Boca Raton’s Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club neighborhood, heads ASG Development and is the developer’s vice president of finance and development.

Gottbetter pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities and mail fraud in New Jersey in 2014 and was sentenced to 18 months in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged him with fraud in 2015, and he agreed to pay $4.6 million to settle that case, the SEC said.

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12390420468?profile=RESIZE_400x

By Mary Hladky

Assistant City Manager Chrissy Gibson is now one of Boca Raton’s two deputy managers.

And the city’s longtime financial services manager, Linda Davidson, will retire on Aug. 31 after 41 years with the city.

The city has hired Jim Zervis, chief administrative officer for Kern County, California, to succeed Davidson, beginning in late March.

Gibson, a Boca Raton native and Florida Atlantic University graduate, joined the city in 2010 as the community relations manager for the Mizner Park Amphitheater. In 2015 she launched the city’s Communications and Marketing Division. She was promoted to assistant city manager in 2021.

Gibson also received a master’s degree in public administration at Nova Southeastern University last year.

“Given her demonstrated history of effective leadership and strategic insight, I am confident that she will excel in this new capacity and continue to drive positive change within our city,” said City Manager George Brown.

Until Davidson retires, she will join the city manager’s office and will work with Zervis during the transition.

Davidson joined the city in 1983 as an accountant. She has since served as Office of Management and Budget director, deputy director of financial services and became financial services director in 2010.

Davidson is a certified public accountant, certified public finance officer and certified government finance officer.

“We express our deepest gratitude to Linda for her tireless efforts, commitment and the positive impact she has had on the financial well-being of our city, as well as her love for Boca Raton,” Brown said.

Zervis told the Bakersfield Californian newspaper that he was contacted by a job recruiter late last year and found the Boca Raton position interesting. He said that he has family in Jupiter.

Davidson’s retirement marks another departure of top city administrators, starting with Deputy City Manager Mike Woika in 2022. City Manager Leif Ahnell retired on Dec. 31 and was replaced by Brown, his longtime deputy. City Attorney Diana Grub Frieser is in the city’s retirement program and will have to retire in about a year.

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Construction of Interstate 95’s express lanes from just south of Glades Road to just north of Congress Avenue is over.

The project was “final-accepted” by the Florida Department of Transportation on Feb. 1, project spokeswoman Andi Pacini said.

The $148 million project included converting the Glades Road interchange to what’s called a “diverging diamond interchange” and reconstructing the Clint Moore Road bridge over the interstate.

“Huge congratulations to the team who came in on time and budget despite a complex scope of work and numerous challenges encountered during the course of the project,” Pacini said.

The FDOT started collecting tolls for the express lanes on Nov. 18. Tolls in Miami-Dade County, which was the first to get I-95 express lanes, vary from 50 cents to $10.50 depending on distance, time of day and congestion. The FDOT’s goal is to keep express lane vehicles moving at 45 to 50 mph on average.

— Steve Plunkett

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Pets: Thanks fur the memories

12390142859?profile=RESIZE_710x Debbie Broyles, minding the store for the new owners of Fins Furs ’N Feathers, calls a customer to say pet food is ready for pickup. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

Boca’s first pet store changes hands after half-century in family

By Arden Moore

In 1970, a gallon of gas cost about 40 cents. You could buy a loaf of bread for 25 cents. A new car, on average, cost $3,560. And the city of Boca Raton was home to 28,500 residents.

The cost of everything has gone up in the past 53 years and so has the population of Boca Raton, now at 99,435, according to the latest U.S. Census.

But one of the treasured constants was — and still is — a beloved pet store called Fins Furs ’N Feathers on North Federal Highway.

12390144669?profile=RESIZE_710xBroyles’ father, Charlie Holland, opened the store in 1970 on North Federal Highway. Broyles and her family sold the shop this year to Ana and Franco Lepiane, who plan to keep its name. Photo provided

Let’s travel back in time to 1970. Charlie Holland was a well-liked Boca Raton resident who worked in grocery and antique stores. He loved providing great customer service and he loved pets — and that included his prized fish aquarium in his home. There were no pet stores in Boca Raton, so he had to drive to Fort Lauderdale for fish and supplies.

At the urging of friends and his wife, Betty, he decided to combine these passions by opening the first pet shop in Boca Raton in the fall of 1970. He named his store Fins Furs ’N Feathers.

“I remember when I was 12 years old that my dad’s store was the place for kids to visit after school,” recalls Debbie Broyles. “It wasn’t unusual to see nine or 10 bicycles parked out front and inside, see kids coming to check out the turtles, birds and fish we had.

“Dad always believed in — and taught us — to treat people right. He made everyone feel welcomed who came into our store.”

Debbie and her sister, Lisa Holland, began pitching in to help the family business as teenagers and never left. They took over their dad’s business in 1999, but Charlie would make regular visits to greet people — regulars and first-timers — through the years.

Since opening day, the Hollands have focused on providing quality food, toys and supplies for dogs, cats, small mammals, birds and fish. They have championed pet adoptions by working with animal rescue groups and have hosted fundraising events for pet groups. They have continued to post flyers about missing pets.

Through the past five decades, Debbie, now a mom of three and a grandmother of six (the seventh is due very soon), has witnessed the explosive growth of Boca Raton, the arrival of big box pet store chains and online pet giants like Chewy.

But what never changed was her love of pets and of helping people — just like her dad.

12390144895?profile=RESIZE_710xCharlie Holland with daughters Debbie Broyles and Lisa Holland in front of the store for its 53rd anniversary.

She posted this surprise announcement on the store’s Facebook page on Jan. 12 with a photo of her with her sister and Charlie, now 87, in a wheelchair due to a stroke:

“Lisa & I have a bittersweet announcement. Change has come to the pet shop. Our Dad had a stroke almost 2 years ago and doesn’t leave the house often. This photo is a recent visit to the shop. We hope to do more outings with him in the future. It is no longer owned by the Holland family.

“We have sold the pet shop to another pair of sisters. I’ve been trying for a few days to post this but it’s hard for me. We hope to see you and introduce you to the new owners.

I’ve worked here since I was 12 years old, and change is not easy.

“I know God has a plan and I’m trusting in it.”

The news sparked an avalanche of well wishes and fond memories from friends and longtime customers.

Among the Facebook posts:

“Lisa and Debbie, you will be missed. Mom-and-pop stores are so hard to find these days and FFF is a Boca landmark.” — June Beth Gordon

“You have done Boca and the pet world proud! Love you guys!” — Donna Williams

“You have taken care of me and my girls in the best of times and worst of times. I am forever grateful for your wisdom.” — Jill Leigh

“Debbie, it seems like only yesterday that we were buying our Koi fish from you for our pond. Of course, we bought things for our hamsters that the kids were raising. God bless you and the family.” — Diann Cundiff

12390145463?profile=RESIZE_710x

The new owners, Ana and Franco Lepiane, with their son, Matteo, and Ana’s father-in-law, Tony. Photos provided

The Holland family made the decision to sell the pet store to another family, Franco and Ana Lepiane and Ana’s sister, Maria. During the transition, Debbie is still at the store and says she has not decided on an exit date. She confirmed that longtime employees Zeidy Velez and Terri Bennett plan to continue working at the store.

Ana confirmed that her family plans to keep the store’s name. Her husband, Franco, also operates a pet grooming salon in Baton Raton called Pet Pourrie. The Lepianes have also created a line of organic, chemical-free grooming products for pets called EcoSpaw.

“It is rare for a store to be in business this long and we know this is bittersweet for the Hollands,” says Ana. “We know that they go above and beyond for their customers, and we hope to do the same.”

Fins, Furs ’N Feathers
The store is at 1975 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton. Learn more by calling 561-391-5858 or by visiting Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id= 100063279081448.
The new owners plan to add a website and online ordering options and offer boarding for birds and small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs.
They will not sell pets but will continue the store’s commitment to work with rescue groups to get companion animals adopted.

Arden Moore is an author, speaker and master certified pet first-aid instructor. She has a radio show, Arden Moore’s Four Legged Life (www.fourleggedlife.com), and the weekly Oh Behave! podcast on PetLifeRadio.com. Visit www.ardenmoore.com

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12390141472?profile=RESIZE_584xThe National Society of Arts and Letters’ Florida Chapter’s annual Star Maker Awards will honor Yaacov Heller with the Lifetime Achievement Award and raise money for scholarships, competitions and mentoring programs for performing and visual artists. The event is 6 p.m. March 26 at Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club. Tickets are $375. ABOVE: (l-r) Co-Chairwomen Shari Upbin, Alyce Erickson (seated), Arlene Herson and Sue Heller with Yaacov. Photo provided

By Amy Woods

This year’s Star Maker Awards, the big benefit for the National Society of Arts and Letters’ Florida chapter, will celebrate musical theater by showcasing the talents of young artists on the rise.

The annual extravaganza includes the presentation of scholarships to those whose performances win first, second and third places in the competition, with the No. 1 winner earning a spot at the society’s national contest in May.

“It’s wonderful to be able to present these young artists,” event Co-Chairwoman Alyce Erickson said. “They come, and they are presented, and that’s how they grow.”

The gala is set for March 26 at Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club, where guests will gather for the black-tie-optional evening of cocktails, cuisine and stage numbers.

“It’s a matter of giving back to the community and helping younger people,” event Co-Chairwoman Shari Upbin said. “I think our main goal, of course, is to present the scholarship winners artistically — it’s almost mind-boggling when you hear them — and to bring in funds.”

The 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is internationally renowned, Boca Raton-based artist Yaacov Heller. Heller’s accomplishments as a sculptor and a silversmith convey messages of acceptance, hope, love and peace, and throughout his 60-year career he has been commissioned to create historically significant works for presidents, kings and queens, heads of state and other dignitaries.

“He’s really excited,” said Kirsten Stephenson, president of the Florida chapter. “It’s nice to have someone who is really honored to be honored.”

The National Society of Arts and Letters’ mission focuses on finding talented amateurs at the beginning of their careers and providing a combination of money and opportunity for them to advance in their disciplines.

“I really feel like we all need to collaborate on the arts right now,” Stephenson said. “When we find a kid who wants to play violin, I think they need a lot more help than the kid who wants to become an engineer. When you’re dealing with kids in the arts, it’s almost an uphill battle.”

Founded in 1944, the society has 15 chapters across the country. The Florida chapter’s membership is 60 and counting.

“We’ve taken off on membership,” Stephenson said. “We’ve got a waiting list for the board. We’re in a really good place right now. But we’re not in a good place financially. We are struggling a bit because we give our money straight to the kids. We depend on the gala, so it’s very important that we do this well.”

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When Susan B. Anthony, the great-niece of the women’s rights advocate, opened the doors of Wayside House in 1974, there was no way of knowing the impact it would have on helping women suffering from alcoholism.

What started in a small house near Atlantic and Northeast Sixth avenues in Delray Beach now is a thriving, highly respected addiction-treatment facility. More than 20,000 clients have been served.

Wayside House recently joined the Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce for a ribbon-cutting ceremony heralding the organization’s 50th anniversary and announcing a branding initiative and other plans.

For more information, call 561-278-0055 or visit www.waysidehouse.net.

Plaque commemorates 75 years of airport
The Boca Raton Airport dazzled attendees with its 75th anniversary dinner and reception that took place inside the Signature Flight Support hangar.

The event featured a cocktail reception and presentations throughout the night. The reception welcomed current and past board members, employees, tenants and local and state dignitaries. All were treated to such activities as an interactive photo booth, virtual reality experiences and a live band. The highlight occurred when city officials presented the airport with a plaque recognizing 75 years of service to the general public.

For more information, call 561-391-2202 or visit https://bocaairport.com/75years.

$1 million gift will go to Bethesda East project
Baptist Health Foundation will use the planned gift of $1 million that the late Carl DeSantis pledged to support the renovation of the emergency department at Bethesda Hospital East.

DeSantis, who died last year at age 84, was an entrepreneur involved in the creation of Sundown Vitamins (later known as Rexall Sundown) and Celsius energy drinks. He and his family turned to the hospital for care for years, and his appreciation for the institution and its staff led him to leave the funds.

“We are so honored to have had the long partnership with Mr. DeSantis over the years,” said Kimberley Trombly-Burmeister, senior director of development. “We are grateful for this impactful gift that will assist with our emergency department renovation campaign and get us that much closer to our fundraising goal.”

For more information, call 561-737-7733, ext. 84428, or visit baptisthealth.net/foundation.

Junior League readies for Week of Impact
Hundreds of volunteers are preparing to make a difference March 11-16 during the Junior League of Boca Raton’s annual Week of Impact initiative.

Projects include reading to students at Plumosa School of the Arts, participating in food drives at Boca Helping Hands, delivering feminine hygiene supplies and gathering prom dresses and accessories.

The public is invited to participate in all three efforts benefiting not only Boca Helping Hands but also Cereal4All and Prom Beach.

For more information, call 561-620-2553 or visit www.jlbr.org.

Town Center food court serves up holiday cheer
For the eighth consecutive year, Town Center at Boca Raton joined Boca Helping Hands to make the holidays brighter for the community’s underserved.
The shopping center and the nonprofit organized the North Pole-themed Christmas Day Feast in the food court. Attendees — close to 500 in all — experienced five-star treatment, with fresh flowers on the tables, balloon pillars and candy canes.

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12390133876?profile=RESIZE_710xThe third annual event welcomed more than 350 guests who helped generate nearly $250,000 for the Hanley Foundation to fund scholarships that aim to save students from drug addiction. Board members John and Michelle Makris chaired the benefit that honors their son, who died at age 23 from an overdose. ‘We observed a change in Brice’s behavior toward the end of his senior year at Florida State University,’ Michelle Makris said. ‘Within weeks of this discovery, he began treatment. We learned that addiction is a brain disorder; it’s a disease. Tragically, the disease overcame our son, and we’re sharing his story to help other parents who are fighting in their kids’ corner to battle this disease.’
ABOVE: (l-r) Skeets Friedkin, Tia Crystal and Jan Savarick.


12390134301?profile=RESIZE_710x George and Andrea O’Rourke.


12390134683?profile=RESIZE_710x Amy Gottlieb and April Lewis. Photos provided

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12390132491?profile=RESIZE_710xBaptist Health Foundation’s annual fundraiser drew more than 150 guests, including members of the Giving Society and other donors to Bethesda Hospital, who collectively helped raise nearly $400,000. The money will go toward the campaign to renovate the emergency department at Bethesda Hospital East. ‘The emergency department is often the front door of the hospital for many in our community,’ foundation Vice President Barbara James said. ‘Patients and their families depend on the expert care of our emergency medicine physicians, nurses and staff as well as our equipment and technology.’ ABOVE: (l-r) Melissa and Jeff Pheterson and Laura and Dr. Steve Litinsky.


12390132297?profile=RESIZE_710x Ben and Barbara Lucas.

12390132892?profile=RESIZE_710xBrenda Pumilia and Rebecca Walsh.


12390133087?profile=RESIZE_710xMary Ann and Mark Ronald.

12390133288?profile=RESIZE_710xMary Blum and Michele Burns.

Photos provided by Capehart

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12390131463?profile=RESIZE_710xMajor benefactors and their friends turned out for a special evening affair paying tribute to the Kravis Center’s Founder members. CEO Diane Quinn kicked off the event by saying, ‘Last year, we celebrated 30 years of providing exceptional performing arts and arts education programming to our community. I did not think we could top last season’s activities that our programming team arranged, but our current classical music series and our Broadway series have been stellar. These … would not be possible without you and your support of this landmark performing arts center.’
ABOVE: Aggie and Jeff Stoops. Photo provided by Capehart

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12390130258?profile=RESIZE_710xLes Girls of Palm Beach celebrated its 52nd seasonal soiree attended by 44 women representing 29 countries. The group united to enjoy shared values of loyalty, travel, openness to new experiences and friendships. TOP: (l-r) Jacoba Bill, Virginia Pellitieri, Poon Pierce and Christiane Francois.

12390130300?profile=RESIZE_710x(l-r) Gus Melander, Peter Isaacs, Joe Betras and Ravi Chopra.

12390130676?profile=RESIZE_710x (l-r) Margaret Kallman, Rita Sullivan, Henya Betras and Martina Covarrubias, Les Girls of Palm Beach president. Photos provided by Jacek Gancarz

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