VeroNews.com 32963 Homepage
ADVERTISING
TOP BEACHSIDE NEWS STORIES

Want to purchase reprints of your favorite 32963 or VeroNews.com photos?

Copies of Vero Beach 32963 can be obtained at the following locations:

OCEANSIDE

Our office HQ: (located at 4855 North A1A)
1. Coco's (North A1A)
2. Shores Post Office
3. The Bottle Shop
4. Lemon Tree
5. Corey's Pharmacy
6. 7-Eleven

(South A1A)

MAINLAND

1. Grand Harbor
2. Oak Harbor
3. Regency Park
4. Vero Beach Book
Center

5. Classic Car Wash
6. Hospital Gift Shop
7. Divine Animal
Hospital
8. Sunshine Furniture

9. Vero Beach Bridge Center
10. Many Medical
Offices

Two oceanfront homes sell, one doesn’t, in luxury auctions
week of May 5, 2016

Lemon Tree owner George Shinn managed to extricate himself from two oceanfront homes he no longer wanted with comparatively modest losses at a luxury auction last weekend, but the owner of the so-called “barcode lady’s house” didn’t even come close to getting the $12.9 million minimum she was seeking in a separate auction. The most high-profile property was the lavish south island estate Palazzo Di Mare, commonly known on the island as “the barcode lady’s house.” Offered at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 30 by Naples-based DeCaro Luxury Auctions, the house reportedly attracted few bidders and did not sell. But two homes offered by Concierge Auctions and represented locally by Clark French and Cindy O’Dare drew a combined 25 bidders and sold for prices much closer to asking than most other homes auctioned in Vero in the past few years. The 4-bedroom, 5-bath, 4,200- square-feet home at 980 Crescent Beach Road in Castaway Cove was listed most recently for $3,795,000. It sold for $3.3 million, including the buyer’s premium, according to French. READ FULL STORY


Hospital looks to improvements at emergency room
week of May 5, 2016

While wait times at the Emergency Room of Indian River Medical Center still are longer than both the Florida and national averages, the hospital is hoping a new approach to managing the department will soon reduce ER delays and improve performance. Hospital president and CEO Jeff Susi, chief medical officer Charles Mackett and director of emergency services Dr. Paul Giasi outlined their plans for reducing patient frustration in an interview coinciding with the hospital’s assumption of full direct responsibility for the staffing and management of the ER. Less than two years ago, the physician staffing company ApolloMD was brought in to take over from another ER contractor, Emergency Physicians of Central Florida, in a bid to address complaints about long wait times. Now, the hospital is dumping ApolloMD and taking over direct hiring of ER physicians. Figures just obtained for 2015 show there were slight improvements in average ER wait times on ApolloMD’s watch, but consultants recommended the hospital move to a directly employed physician model to increase patient satisfaction. READ FULL STORY


Back to the future for Piper: Refocus on trainers is paying off
week of May 5, 2016

It’s back to the future for Piper Aircraft, which is re-emphasizing its trainer aircraft production roots to drive increased sales of trainer airplanes to flight schools. From Vero Beach to North Dakota. flight programs are buying more and more Piper trainers to teach the next generation of aspiring pilots, especially with the commercial airline industry needing more aviators. Each year since 2011, the percentage of trainer sales out of Piper’s total aircraft sales has increased. Five years ago, trainer sales accounted for 13 percent of total sales before it increased to 16 percent in 2012, 27 percent in 2013, 33 percent in 2014 and 38 percent in 2015. That trend reflects the marketing strategy of Piper Chief Executive Simon Caldecott, who began as CEO in 2011 and made trainer sales a priority. The company’s 1937 Cub is an iconic trainer in the aviation industry.“Piper is one of the original names in pilot training. Their brand is and always has been tied heavily to training,” said Ian Twombly, editor of Pilot and Flight Training, an aviation industry trade publication. “The Piper Cub has trained thousands of pilots, and many people in aviation today look at it fondly as one of the great airplanes of all time,” Twombly said. READ FULL STORY


School Board goes to court in bid to block two charters
week of May 5, 2016

The School Board has decided to waste another $35,000 in an attempt to block Somerset Academy, an A-grade charter school organization, from opening an elementary and middle school in Indian River County. Rebuffed by the Florida Board of Education, which unanimously approved Somerset’s application, the School Board voted 3-to-2 to carry its battle to keep Somerset out of Indian River County to the Fourth District Court. No hearing date or judge has been assigned yet. Remarkably, the local School District – one of only a handful in Florida that still remains under a half-century-old court desegregation order – cited desegregation concerns in opposing Somerset before the state Board of Education. “Somerset is completely ignorant of the federal desegregation obligations in Indian River County and cannot comply with these obligations,” the School Board’s attorney Suzanne D’Agresta said in a brief sent to the State School Board of Education. But most of the 14,000 students Somerset serves in the 37 charter schools it operates in Florida are minorities, a Somerset spokesman said. READ FULL STORY


Senior living facility in Orchid saddled with many caveats
week of May 5, 2016

When the Orchid Town Council considers plans for a proposed 120-unit, upscale senior living and memory care facility next week, it comes with the very conditional blessing of the Town’s Local Planning agency, laden with nearly 50 different, and in some cases expensive, stipulations. The Orchid Local Planning Agency after a more than six-hour hearing last week voted 4-1 to recommend approval of what would be the barrier island’s first assisted-living facility, located on the Wabasso Causeway near the county fire-rescue station, just outside the gates of the Orchid Island Golf and Beach Club. According to Orchid Town Clerk Cherry Stowe, Chairman Ron Borque was the lone vote against the project, but even those who voted yea proceeded to pile on dozens and dozens of conditions that the developer must meet. According to Stowe, who was preparing the draft minutes of the April 26 meeting for the Town Council to review, “The waivers that were discussed included that the height be no taller than 30 feet with no exposed heating/air-conditioning units on top; that the setback to the Northside be a minimum of 40 feet without a walkway; that the setback along Caribe Way from the turnaround North be a minimum of 25 feet; that setback on that same side along the tennis courts from the turnaround South be a minimum of 10 feet, that the gross floor area not exceed 142,000 square feet; that opening hours be allowed to be 24/7. READ FULL STORY


State files formal felony charges against Ken Kennedy
week of May 5, 2016

State Attorney Phil Archer of the 18th Circuit in Brevard County has filed four serious felony charges against former Kennedy Groves and United Indian River Packers owner Ken Kennedy for stealing potentially more than $1 million that was intended for the care of an aging relative and, ultimately after her passing, to be divided among his dozen cousins. Kennedy, 64, was arrested on March 14 at his home in the Vero Beach Country Club neighborhood on a probable cause warrant based upon a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into the depletion of the bank accounts of Kennedy’s aunt while the funds were under Kennedy’s control, court records state. The charges say Ken Kennedy “did stand in a position of trust and confidence” with regard to his aunt’s estate, and used that position to siphon off funds. Kennedy’s defense attorney Andy Metcalf at the time said the case was a matter for civil court, not criminal, and that he was confident that prosecutors would see that way, too. In late March, Kennedy entered a not guilty plea to the criminal charges and requested a jury trial. READ FULL STORY


Vero’s $22 million ‘price drop’ for Shores electric customers
week of May 5, 2016

In an almost surreal display of technical jargon and numbers in five-point type, Vero’s team of experts attempted to explain to a joint session of the city’s Finance Commission and Utilities Commission this week how the asking price for 3,000 customers in the Town of Indian River Shores dropped from $64 million to $42 million. The new “price drop” is still a far cry from the $13 million Florida Power & Light says it’s willing to pay to pick up some customers and unite the Shores’ citizens north and south of Old Winter Beach Road under one electric provider. But realistically, are any of these numbers remotely meaningful? The price Vero wants in exchange for releasing the Shores customers from the city’s electric system is based upon the notion that the Shores should provide ongoing financial support to Vero for decades to replace the revenue that Shores customers would be contributing to the system – even though they’re not being served by the utility anymore. READ FULL STORY


County gets few jobs for our economic development millions
week of April 28, 2016

The Indian River Board of County Commissioners has poured more than $7 million into its economic development program in the past decade, yet there are fewer jobs in the county now than when the program started – even though the county’s population has increased by more than 10 percent over that time. The taxpayer dollars went for inducement payments, job grants and tax abatements intended to generate job growth by luring new companies and retaining current ones, but a Vero Beach 32963 look at these economic development subsidies show the overwhelming majority of the tax money went to two deals that were controversial at best, with most of the grants raising questions about why the commission continues to throw good money after bad. Here are some of the findings from the 32963 investigation. READ FULL STORY


Contractor arrested, accused of bilking remodeling clients
week of April 28, 2016

Vero Lake Estates resident and contractor Mark Frederick Murphy is facing felony charges for allegedly bilking his remodeling clients out of big deposits, and never furnishing the materials or finishing the work paid for by two barrier island homeowners and one in southwest Vero. Murphy, 47, who state records show had been a licensed building contractor in Florida since February 2007 until his license was suspended last month, was arrested on April 12 and charged with stealing about $150,000 from three local clients, including the owners of one North Beach home just off Jungle Trail, and one South Beach home on Pelican Lane. A third victim lives in Legend Lakes in southwest Vero. Investigators suspect more victims may come forward after they learn Murphy is being held accountable. READ FULL STORY


Charter schools sue School District on divvying up funds
week of April 28, 2016

All five charter schools in Indian River County are suing the school district, alleging the district is flaunting state funding guidelines that require it to treat charter schools the same as district schools. Charter school leaders blame overcrowded conditions, class cuts and the loss of valued teachers on the district’s refusal to provide more funding for campus repairs and new buildings needed for an expanding student population. The five charters – the Charter High School, North County Charter School, St. Peter’s Academy, Sebastian Charter Junior High and Imagine School – educate 13 percent of county students but the schools receive only $295 per student in capital funding while other schools in the district get $1,546 per student, according to Gene Waddell, Charter High School board chairman. If the money was divided equally, all schools would get $1,365 per student. READ FULL STORY


It’s that time of year, and several stores are closing on Ocean Drive
week of April 28, 2016

Take a walk along Ocean Drive in the heart of the island’s business district and – along with shoppers and tourists trying to dodge motorists at the Beachland Boulevard intersection – you will see some For Lease signs on retail storefronts as several longtime shops close or move. Soiree Kitchen to Table closed on Saturday, after five years in business. Customers scored discounted buys last week at the kitchen utensil store at the northwest corner of Ocean and Beachland across from Sexton Plaza. Not only did customers walk away with great deals on kitchen items, the owners of nearby Countryside Citrus bought some of the store furnishings – a table and some shelving – from Soiree. READ FULL STORY


Shores to disguise cell tower as pine tree on Town Hall property
week of April 28, 2016

After nearly a dozen years of dithering, the Indian River Shores Town Council voted last week to locate a 115-foot cell tower, disguised as a massive pine tree, on Town Hall property, with the exact spot to be determined later. The decision made enemies and potential litigants out of 90 Bermuda Bay residents who have signed petitions opposing the move, which is intended to remedy notoriously bad cellphone service that has long plagued residents of the wealthy town. By a four to one vote, the Town Council adopted its consultant’s recommendation based upon radio-frequency studies showing that the Town Hall location would provide the best service, without relying on upgrades to other cell towers to eliminate dead spots. (Whether or not the owners of those towers and the carriers would invest in those upgrades is beyond the Town’s control.) READ FULL STORY


Piper books $90 million in orders for new plane
week of April 28, 2016

Piper’s new, bigger, dressed-up corporate prop plane seems to be finding favor in the market. The company says it has already sold more than 30 of the $2.85 million, six-seat aircraft, months ahead of the plane’s earliest delivery date. The result: The company says it plans to add 75 employees as production ramps up later this year. Piper announced the M600 a year ago and expects to begin delivering planes to customers in August. Three M600s have been built for testing purposes, and Craig Masters, Piper manager of flight operations, said a pilot and flight test engineer with the Federal Aviation Administration are at Piper now checking out the plane’s handling, stability, control, climbing, take-offs and landings. “It is the complete gamut of testing,” Masters said. READ FULL STORY


Vero Wine and Film Festival signs Sundance winner
week of April 28, 2016

For a rookie film festival, the upcoming Vero Beach Wine and Film Festival is scoring some big-league titles. Last week, organizers were making Vero travel arrangements for the creator and star of “Between Sea and Land,” a full-length narrative feature that in January won two big prizes at the Sundance Film Festival. The film, directed by Carlos del Castillo, won the Sundance World Cinema Audience Award, and its two lead actors won the World Cinema Special Jury Award for Acting. It was also nominated for the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. Manolo Cruz, a well-known Colombian actor who in addition to having the male lead conceived of the film and wrote its screenplay, will be coming to Vero for the festival in June. “I get to go to the beach!” he told Stewart when she called to confirm his attendance. In the film, Cruz plays a severely disabled man whose goal in life is to go to the beach, even though he lives in a shack on stilts over a marshy inlet off the Caribbean. READ FULL STORY


County hires consultant to design fix for eroded beaches
week of April 28, 2016

Here is the good news about the island’s eroding beaches: The Board of County Commissioners has approved a $142,763 contract for the design of a $3 million-plus project that will replenish beaches along 2.2 miles of shoreline, extending from Tracking Station Beach Park south to the Gables Oceanfront Condominiums. That stretch of beach is the most economically important piece of sand in the county. It borders the Ocean Drive business district, and the island’s high-end hotels and restaurants are on these beaches. The county's updated Beach Preservation Plan reports more than 1.9 million beach visits a year to this section pump approximately $33.1 million into the local economy. Here is the bad news: The narrow beaches at Jaycee Park, Sexton Plaza and Humiston Park that are the county’s most popular tourist attractions were classified as critically eroded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in 2008, and it will take the county at least three to four more years to actually get the needed sand onto the beaches. READ FULL STORY


Read previous News Stories...