Town-Crier Newspaper August 13, 2021

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Your Community Newspaper


PBC Officials: Vast Majority Of Virus Cases Are Among Unvaccinated

Volume 42, Number 18 August 13 - August 26, 2021

Serving Palms West Since 1980


Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner and medical staff from the Palm Beach County Health Department and JFK Medical Center updated the community Monday, Aug. 9 on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking from the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center, Kerner said that the spread of COVID-19 is once again out of control, primarily due to people who aren’t getting vaccinated. Page 3

Wellington Council OKs Unchanged Tax Rate And Assessments

The Wellington Village Council approved its proposed taxes for the upcoming fiscal year on Tuesday, Aug. 10. The rates, which are largely unchanged from the current year, will now be subject to public hearings for resident input. Page 4

Students Working to Achieve Greatness (SWAG) is a Village of Wellington program that serves high school students by teaching them career readiness skills and helping them network within the community. Since its inception, approximately 50 students have received paid summer internships through the program. This year, 17 students took part in summer internships. They were saluted at a SWAG program graduation ceremony held Tuesday, Aug. 3. Shown above are Melik Frederick, Hermione Williams, McKenzie Henry, Community Services Director Paulette Edwards, Wellington High School teacher Nancy Toussaint, Victoria Loredan and Margaret Hunt. STORY & MORE PHOTOS, PAGE 5 PHOTO BY DENISE FLEISCHMAN/TOWN-CRIER

Nonprofit Arts For Smiles Prepares 100 Backpacks For Kids

Local nonprofit Arts for Smiles stuffed 100 backpacks on Saturday, July 31. They were taken to underserved children in Belle Glade and Lake Worth. Friends and family helped stuff the backpacks with supplies donated by Vans and the general public. Page 8

Local High School Football Teams Start Pre-Season Practice

While high school football players have been busy this summer working on getting fitter, faster and stronger during their off-season workouts, the upcoming high school football season officially started with practices on Monday, Aug. 2. Since then, area high school football teams have been busy installing new plays on offense, new schemes on defense and fine-tuning the execution of their special teams, while also working on improving their overall fitness and conditioning. Page 21 DEPARTMENT INDEX NEWS...............................3 - 18 NEWS BRIEFS......................... 7 SPORTS................................. 21 SCHOOLS.............................. 24 PEOPLE................................. 25 BUSINESS............................. 27 COLUMNS............................. 28 CLASSIFIEDS................ 29 - 30 Visit Us On The Web At WWW.GOTOWNCRIER.COM

Input Meeting For County’s Off-Road Vehicle Park Plan Aug. 19 At Acreage Library By Ron Bukley Town-Crier Staff Report Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay will host a public meeting on Thursday, Aug. 19 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Acreage branch library (15801 Orange Blvd.) about the off-road vehicle park being planned at 20Mile Bend near the intersection of State Road 80 and State Road 880. Palm Beach County Parks & Recreation staff will be there to provide information and receive public comment. “I look forward to hearing the public’s input on Palm Beach County’s much-anticipated offhighway vehicle park,” McKinlay told the Town-Crier on Wednesday. “It will be an exciting, long overdue recreational facility for residents and visitors and provide

a safe place for enthusiasts to ride. It will also help spur economic development in the western region of our county and add yet another jewel to our renowned tourism destinations.” The Palm Beach County Commission approved the concept of the park in July after hearing a feasibility report from county staff. The commissioners authorized the county administrator to prepare a needs analysis and feasibility study for the development of an off-highway vehicle (OHV) park at the county’s property near 20Mile Bend in 2013. The Parks & Recreation Department assembled a steering committee including representatives from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, the South Florida Water Management District, the Palm Beach County

Sports Commission, other county departments and OHV enthusiasts to undertake the needs analysis and study. The study was completed in 2015 but was not submitted, since other board-approved projects became priorities. The report was recently updated in an effort to provide the latest information that more accurately reflects current market conditions. The report concludes that there is a demonstrated need for an OHV park in Palm Beach County because residents regularly travel to Miami-Dade County, Okeechobee County and beyond to participate in trail riding and other OHV activities. The need for additional off-road vehicle opportunities has also been identified by the state See OFF-ROAD, page 14

Wellington Capital Improvements Plan A Wish List For The Village’s Future

By M. Dennis Taylor Town-Crier Staff Report The Wellington Village Council spent several hours Monday, Aug. 9 in a workshop session about capital improvement projects planned for the next fiscal year and beyond. It was primarily an informational question-and-answer presentation from the village staff, and decisions on projects were not finalized. First up was a look at the capital improvements plan for the village’s utility department during fiscal year 2021-22. These projects follow a strategic direction of five elements — to secure a sustainable water supply source, provide a major renewal of critical facilities, a major replacement of aging equipment, increase resiliency, and provide an emergency operations upgrade in investments and technology. Deputy Village Manager Tanya Quickel said that the utility system has come a long way in recent

years, and that is reflected in the changing strategy. “It took us about three years, but right now we’re set for 2039 from the water supply, and that is a very good thing,” she said. After reporting that the village has secured a South Florida Water Management District water use permit through 2039, which secures its water sources, Quickel explained the village has made significant strides in all areas of the strategic objectives, representing more than $60 million in completed projects. “Before I start talking about each of the projects and our overall plan, I’d like to say that our fiveyear capital improvement program is really a roadmap,” she said. “It’s a guide to our decision-making process for a budgetary and planning perspective, and we’re constantly evaluating it and constantly re-prioritizing as necessary.” Some of the most significant See CAPITAL, page 14


The Kids Cancer Foundation held its annual Jam-Packed Backpack Event on Friday, Aug. 6 at the Kids Cancer Center in Royal Palm Beach. Patients and their siblings gathered to collect student backpacks filled to the brim with school supplies for every child. The backpacks and school supplies were donated by Christ Fellowship’s Royal Palm Beach campus and The Acreage community supporters of the Kids Cancer Foundation. Shown above are Peter Zaasi, Ashlyn Guererri, Bella Pena and Anthony Pena with their tote bags. MORE PHOTOS, PAGE 18 PHOTO BY DENISE FLEISCHMAN/TOWN-CRIER

RPB’s Commons Park Remains Town Hall Meeting Busy Every Wednesday With On Incorporation To Drive-Through Food Giveaway Be Held Aug. 14 At Seminole Ridge

By Ron Bukley Town-Crier Staff Report Feeding South Florida distributes tons of food to families at numerous locations, but Royal Palm Beach Commons Park has been a popular site, giving out about 3.4 tons of food over the past year, with more than 600 cars lining up every Wednesday morning. Councilman Jeff Hmara has been volunteering at the site since the giveaways began last year. “You try to maintain a presence to the community to get people to come and have the experience,” Hmara said. “The whole idea is to build that sense of belonging and a sense of community.” Hmara said the project was manned originally by village staff, but much of the work has since

been turned over to a loyal team of volunteers. “We’ve got really good at setting that up and operating it,” he said. “Somebody told us that they’ve been to other [distribution locations], and they said, ‘You’ve got a pretty good system going.’” Village staff members are still involved as backup, but the number of volunteers fluctuates between 12 and 20 volunteers each Wednesday morning. All the food comes through Feeding South Florida. The operation will continue at least through September, adding that it is uplifting to see the appreciation of the people receiving the food. “It’s quite an experience to actually see the people in their cars and pickups, watching their reaction,” Hmara said. “Their gratitude is

extreme, and 90 percent of them are looking to thank everybody loading their car. I’ve had people come up with tears in their eyes, and people who just go on about how much of a difference it makes. You can’t just walk away from that without a really good feeling about having made a difference in somebody’s life in a good way.” Feeding South Florida Executive Vice President Sari Vatske said her organization feeds about 25 percent of the state’s food insecure population. “During this past fiscal year, we distributed 154 million pounds of food throughout the quad county service area,” Vatske said. “More than 40 million pounds went into Palm Beach County alone.” She explained that the driveSee FOOD, page 14

By Ron Bukley Town-Crier Staff Report The Indian Trail Improvement District’s Feasibility and Charter Review Committee held a fivehour meeting Saturday, Aug. 7 featuring presentations on many aspects of a possible incorporation from experts recruited to give input, including former Greenacres Mayor Sam Ferrari and representatives of Clifford McCue & Consultants, a firm helping ITID conduct the feasibility study. ITID President Betty Argue, who chaired the meeting, plans to have a draft of a proposed charter to present at the committee’s meeting set for Saturday, Aug. 14 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

at Seminole Ridge High School, located at 4601 Seminole Pratt Whitney Road. “I’d like to have something that’s worthy to present to the community as a draft on Aug. 14, which is a town hall meeting at the high school,” said Argue, who noted that the meeting will be available via Zoom for those who cannot attend in person. “It will not be a committee-style meeting. It will just be a presentation, and everyone who speaks will have to go up to the microphone.” ITID Executive Director Burgess Hanson confirmed that postcards have been sent to residents informing them about the proSee MEETING, page 7

RPB Principals Glad To Return To In-School Learning

By Ron Bukley Town-Crier Staff Report The Royal Palm Beach Education Advisory Board heard reports Monday, Aug. 9 from Royal Palm Beach High School Principal Dr. Jesús Armas and Crestwood Middle School Principal Dr. Stephanie Nance. Both noted that they were glad to be starting the new school year with in-school learning after a year of largely remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the uncertainty over COVID-19, Armas said his faculty is excited to start the new school year.

“We had our week back with the teachers, and they are as excited as they’ve ever been,” Armas said. “We got last-minute guidance on how to handle masks and how they’re doing things, so we gave it to the staff, and they’re going to go with it and make it work.” He noted that there is still construction going on at the RPBHS campus as they start the new school year. “Ours is supposed to be done in October. We know that in construction, that usually means November,” Armas said. “Fortunately, the big concern for us was

doing the lights in every single room and making them bigger.” That involved taking everything out of every room and then moving it all back in. “The one good thing about the pandemic was because we had so few students on campus, that became easier,” he said. “Fortunately, we’re done with that, and we won’t have to displace students.” Armas added that most of the air conditioning upgrades are in place. “We feel good about the rest of the construction,” he said. “Hope-

fully, it won’t impact the students as much as it would have last year had we had all 2,400 students.” He said enrollment at RPBHS is projected at more than 2,400 students this year. “We are right now at 2,414,” he said. “That’s the highest we’ve had in 12 years. Of course, that number will change.” His big question is what happened to the students who disappeared last year. “The question is not, ‘Are we going to get them back?’ or ‘How soon are we going to get them back?’” he said. “We’ll get them

back. The question is when. We don’t want to lose instruction time. That’s a big deal — get them back and get them going.” Armas said the school is fortunate to have federal COVID-19 money coming in. “We received a lot of money, and to our leadership’s credit, I think they’ve done a good job of distributing the money and making it categorical,” he said, adding that six additional staff positions have been added due to that money, which will go to ensure that some of the lagging students will be See PRINCIPALS, page 14

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