Mark “America Recycles Day” Saturday at Solid Waste Authority

082713-met-recycle-11Every day should be America Recycles Day, but the official day is Saturday, and the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County is marking the day with a free event from 8 a.m. to noon at its Education Center, 6751 N. Jog Road in West Palm Beach.

People will be able to watch garbage get burned and turned into energy, and household hazardous wastes get safely recycled, and will watch identities protected by shredding of personal documents.

Families will have the opportunity to sort recyclables on an interactive touch table line, see a 9-ton claw feed trash into a machine at Renewable Energy Facility 2, experience recycling processes at the Recovered Materials Processing Facility, and be witness to how much garbage Palm Beach County residents throw away.

The authority also is offering free on-site shredding of up to six boxes of personal documents per vehicle, and will hand out free blue and yellow recycling bins to Palm Beach County residents who need them.

Participants also can bring a nonperishable food item to be donated to the Palm Beach County Food Bank.

And from  7 a.m. to 5 p.m., people can bring home chemicals for proper recycling or disposal to the Home Chemical and Recycling Center, about a mile south at 6161 N. Jog Road in West Palm Beach.

581-acre chunk of Ag Reserve could be up for sale

The South Florida Water Management District has designed a 581-acre piece of Palm Beach County’s Agricultural Reserve to be surplus and available for sale, increasing the prospect of more development in a farming zone some fear is being gobbled up by builders.

The district co-owns the 581 acres with Palm Beach County. A majority of the seven-member county commission would have to agree to a sale.

Last year, when the district first began discussing the idea of declaring the land surplus and taking bids on it, Commissioners Paulette Burdick and Melissa McKinlay opposed private ownership of the land, which is part of a 624-acre tract purchased with public money in 2000.

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Palm Beach County Inspector General: We had fewer calls last six months


The Palm Beach County Office of Inspector General fielded 25 percent fewer calls in the six months ending Sept. 30 than in the same period before that, Inspector General John A. Carey told Thursday’s meeting of his governing committee.

“Those numbers show a true success for your office,” committee member Sarah Shullman told Carey. “You’re bringing the municipalities and county into compliance. We shouldn’t see an increase.”

In the budget year ending Sept. 30, Carey said in his update, his office found $5.7 million in questioned costs and $314,000 in potential cost savings. He said it made 14 referrals to law enforcement or the county or state commissions on ethics.

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Palm Beach County Commissioner Valeche: I won’t stand for mayor

PBC Commissioner Hal Valeche

County Vice Mayor, and newly-reelected Commissioner, Hal Valeche, hospitalized for weeks, said Wednesday he will not stand for the mostly-ceremonial mayor’s post when the new commission is seated at its Nov. 22 meeting.

“I don’t think I can do it because of my health. I’m going to decline,” Valeche said from Jupiter Medical Center, where he’s been since at least Oct. 24.

On Tuesday night, the 67-year-old Palm Beach Gardens Republican defeated his Democratic challenger, suburban Jupiter attorney Tony Bennett, for a second term on the commission.

For the position of mayor, created in 2013, the board traditionally has turned to the person who is Vice Mayor and also is chairman as the commission sits as the governing board of the Solid Waste Authority. That would be Valeche. Next up would be Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, the current vice chair of the Solid Waste Authority’s board.

Valeche has in recent weeks been prominent mostly for his absence. He missed more than two weeks worth of meetings; his last was Oct. 18, at which he arrived late. In a pair of brief emails sent a week apart, Valeche told fellow commissioners he was undergoing tests for gastrointestinal issues when he fell ill and was hospitalized. But the commissioner has not said whether those gastrointestinal issues are the reason for his hospitalization.

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Palm Beach County Mayor Berger: ‘State of County’ is ‘thriving”

Palm Beach County is on the move, attracting new business, and ready to get around to some much-needed handyman


projects, County Mayor Mary Lou Berger said Wednesday at the annual “State of the County” breakfast of the Chamber of the Commerce of the Palm Beaches.

“This truly is, together as a community, a perfect place,” Berger told the gathering at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

In the last year, the county has experienced “record tourism and a robust real estate market,” Berger said.

And, herself hours removed from being reelected Tuesday as District 5 county commissioner, she cheered the passage of the 1-cent county sales tax surcharge for schools, roads and parks.

“We’re going to get that stuff done,” Berger said.

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Palm Tran offers free rides to polls Tuesday; 368 take advantage


UPDATE, noon Nov. 9: Palm Tran says 368 people used the free Palm Tran rides to the polls on Tuesday.

Palm Tran, Palm Beach County’s public transportation system, says it will offer free rides Tuesday for people to vote.

You must present a valid voter information card when boarding.

The offer is valid for all 35 routes system-wide throughout Palm Beach County for the entire day, but isn’t valid for use on Palm Tran Connection, which provides call-ahead bus service for the elderly, disabled and ill.

Palm Beach County voters will cast ballots for president as well as 36 other federal, state and local races and seven referenda, including four amendments to the Florida Constitution and a Palm Beach County sales tax increase.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday for 868 precincts at 461 polling locations, according to the county supervisor of elections.

Bring your voter registration card and a form of photo identification. Your polling place is shown on your voter registration card, or you can find it at

Palm Beach County Mayor Berger gives ‘state of the county’ Thursday


With the fallout from Tuesday’s national election still settling, Palm Beach County pivots back to local politics Wednesday morning, as the county’s mayor, District 5 Commissioner Mary Lou Berger, presents the annual “State of the County” address at a breakfast meeting of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches.

Berger also will know by Wednesday morning whether she herself is a lame duck, or has fended off a challenge by suburban Boca Raton GOP newcomer Taniel Shant.

She also likely will weigh in on whether voters approved the 1-cent sales tax surcharge the county proposed in order to generated what it said is much needed money for schools, roads and parks.

Wednesday’s event is from 7:45 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Palm Beach County Convention Center,  650 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Call (561) 833-3711.

Palm Beach County early voting nearly double that for 2012; 6.4mm voted statewide

031316-met-early-voting-02Nearly a quarter million people took part in early voting in advance of Tuesday’s election, nearly twice as many as did in 2012, according to unofficial overnight numbers from the county’s Supervisor of Elections.

Sunday, the last day of the 14-day event, was the busiest. The 23,091 coming to the county’s 15 sites represented nearly 10 percent of the total of 242,017.

That compares to a total of 124,896 locally in eight days of early voting in the 2012 election.

According to the state Division of Elections, 380,048 people in Palm Beach County have cast ballots either by mail-in or early voting. Of those voting by mail, Democrats lead Republicans 68,193 to 41,288. Of those voting early, Democrats lead GOP voters 112,021 to 66,932 .

Statewide, more than 6.4 million Florida voters have cast ballots, with Democrats casting 87,249 more than Republicans.

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Palm Tran names two executives


Palm Tran has hired Sean K. Smith as Director of Operations for the county bus agency. Smith starts Nov. 14, Palm Tran executive director Clinton Forbes told county elected officials and staff in an Oct. 26 email.

Smith has 25 years in the transit business. He started as a dispatcher for the Greyhound bus line and for seven years has been general manager and CEO at the Durham, N.C., transit system. He will oversee more than 530 bus drivers, maintenance workers and training and safety staff, and a nearly $80 million budget, and will report to Forbes.

Forbes had announced Oct. 11 that he was appointing Keith Clinkscale manager of a newly-created office of performance management, starting Oct. 17. Clinkscale will produce performance reports.  Clinkscale joined Palm Tran in February 2015 as a paratransit dispatcher, arranging pickups for ill, elderly and disabled passengers.

More than 300,000 have voted in Palm Beach County, 5 million-plus statewide

031316-met-early-voting-02Nearly 19,000 people voted early Thursday in Palm Beach County, topping the previous high set Wednesday for the 14-day event, which ends Sunday.

Thursday’s figure of 18,867 brings the total so far to 178,062, according to overnight statistics from the county’s Supervisor of Elections.

That compares to a total of 124,896 locally in eight days of early voting in the 2012 election.

In all, 304,120 in Palm Beach County have cast ballots for the Nov. 8 election, either by early voting or by mail-in, through Friday morning, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

Nearly 5.3 million Floridians have either voted by mail or cast ballots at in-person early voting sites in advance of Tuesday’s election, according to this morning’s report from the Florida Division of Elections. That far surpasses the 4.8 million who voted before Election Day in 2012, according to state figures. In 2012, 3.8 million voted on Election Day itself

Statewide, either early or by mail-in, Republicans have cast 2,093,586 ballots, or 39.74 percent, and Democrats have cast 2,091,753 ballots, or 39.71 percent. That’s a difference between the parties of 1,833 ballots or 0.03 percent of all the votes cast so far.

In Palm Beach County, according to state figures, for mail-ins, Democrats led 62,395 to 37,863. In state early-voting stats, which don’t exactly match those posted locally, Democrats led 83,410 to 50,650.

While early voting ends Saturday in most Florida counties, it runs through Sunday at Palm Beach County’s 15 sites, as well as in Bay, Bradford, Broward, Charlotte, Duval, Hillsborough, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Seminole, St. Lucie and Suwannee counties.