Valeche cites illness as the reason for his absences

Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche, who missed a series of county meetings last week, told his colleagues illness is the reason he’s been hospitalized.

“I was scheduled for some medical tests regarding gastrointestinal issues I have been facing when I fell ill the week before last, and was admitted to the hospital,” Valeche wrote to his colleagues this morning. “My doctors and hospital medical staff are working through the issues and I am confident I will be back in action soon. I am grateful for all of the well wishes and outpouring of concern from so many and look forward to getting back to work as soon as possible.”

Valeche, 67, represents District 1, which covers northern Palm Beach County. He is facing re-election.

Commissioners are scheduled to meet on Tuesday. The subject of Valeche’s note was “absence from November 1, 2066 BOCC meeting.”

PBC Commissioner Hal Valeche
PBC Commissioner Hal Valeche


More than 150,000 already voted in Palm Beach County; 2.86 million statewide

Early voting Friday at Hagen Ranch Rd. branch
Early voting Friday at Hagen Ranch Rd. branch

Between early voting and mail-in, more than 150,000 people have cast ballots so far just in Palm Beach County.

Just the 66,176 Palm Beach County early voters, reported through Thursday by the Supervisor of Elections, represent more than half of the 124,896 who voted early in 2012.

Statewide, according to the Florida Division of Elections, more than 2.86 million used one of the two pre-Election Day options as of Friday morning.

Of mail-ins submitted statewide, Republicans still led Democrats 731,713 to 679,326, with “other” or “no party” voters accounting for the rest.

Of the 1.12 million Floridians who did early voting, GOP voters trailed Democrats 439,845 to 477,636.

Statewide figures show that for Palm Beach County, which leans Democrat, those voters led Republicans in submitted mail-ins 43,482 to 25,361.

In early voting — state figures don’t exactly match those posted locally — it was 18,741 Republican and 32,390 Democrat.

More than 50,000 voted early or by mail in Palm Beach County; nearly 21.5 million statewide

102516-pbc-early-voting-4 The number who already have voted in the Nov. 8 election, by either early voting or mail-in, is nearly 2.5 million in Florida and nearly 50,000 in Palm Beach County, stats show.

Palm Beach County’s three-day total of 49,714, as reported by the Supervisor of Elections, already is more than a fourth of the 124,896 who participated in eight days of early voting for the November 2012 general election.

For all three days,  the highest volume among the 15 early-voting sites has been the Hagen Ranch Road Palm Beach County Library branch, west of Delray Beach, which by itself accounts for 11 percent of all early voters.

The Florida Division of Elections’ mail-in and early-voting figures, as of midday Thursday, show 2.47 million people already have used one of the two pre-Election Day options. Another 1.65 million ballots were requested but not yet turned in.0

Among mail-ins submitted statewide, Republicans still outnumber Democrats, 677,907 to 631,672, But among those voting early, the GOP trails 336,299 to 370,809.

The state’s figures for Palm Beach County, which don’t exactly match those posted locally, show Republicans trailing 23,662 to 40,955 in mail-ins and  13,905 to 24,748 in early voting.

Solution for excess horse manure?

Palm Beach County has a problem – too much horse manure. And that’s not because presidential candidates keep coming here.

No, the county has a vibrant equestrian industry. But some of the waste from those horses is dumped illegally, threatening the environment.

More companies that recycle or process that waste have wanted to set up shop in the county, but residents, wary of the potential odorous effects of such an operation, have shouted NIMBY (not in my backyard).

County officials now hope they have a solution.

Commissioners have given preliminary approval to an amendment of the county’s comprehensive plan that would allow an equestrian waste recycling pilot project to operate in an area called the Glades tier, a large swath of unincorporated farming land west of Wellington and east of Belle Glade.

The goal is to have the operation located close enough to the equestrian hot spot of Wellington but not close enough to Wellington (or to cities in the Glades, for that matter) for it to foul the air of neighborhoods and depress property values.

Commissioner Priscilla Taylor initially expressed concern that the operation would be foisted upon already economically depressed cities in the Glades, but Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, whose office has been working on the issue, assured her that is not the case.

McKinlay’s district includes the Glades, and she bristled at the suggestion that she would support foisting anything on the area.

Ultimately, commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the amendment, which must be reviewed by state officials before it comes back to the county for final approval.

McKinlay viewed the amendment as a step in the right direction.

“We’ve got hundreds of thousands of tons that need to be disposed of,” she said.



Second day of early voting in Palm Beach County as robust as first

102516-pbc-early-voting-4102616ev102616ev01Nearly as many people voted on Tuesday, the second of 14 days of early voting in Palm Beach County for the Nov. 8 election, as voted on Monday, according to preliminary stats from the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections.

The two-day total of 32,936 — 16,592 Monday and 16,344 Tuesday — already is more than a fourth of the 124,896 who participated in eight days of early voting for the November 2012 general election.

Topping the 15 early-voting sites Tuesday continued to be the Palm Beach County Library Hagen Ranch Road Branch Library,  west of Delray Beach, with 1,787, a little fewer than the 1,923 who voted Monday.

The Florida Division of Elections’ mail-in and early-voting figures, as of midday Wednesday, show nearly 2.1 million people already have used one of the two pre-Election Day options.

The state figures show a partisan split. Of mail-ins submitted, Republicans outnumber Democrats 609,290 to 573,748. In early votes already cast, the GOP trails 225,962 to 256,593.

The state’s mail-in figures for blue-leaning Palm Beach County show 36,244 Democrat and 20,735 Republican. Its early voting figures for Palm Beach County, which, at 32,495, don’t exactly match those posted locally, are 9,023 GOP and 16,694 Democrat.

To read more, go later to




Nearly 17,000 took part in first day of early voting

102516-pbc-early-voting-4early1024116In a hint of a dramatic turnout in the the Nov. 8 election, nearly 17,000 people cast ballots Monday, the first of 14 days of early voting in Palm Beach County, according to an unofficial box score from the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections.

The total of 16,592 already represents more than half the 28,865 who cast ballots in 14 days of early voting for the Aug. 30 vote, and nearly a third of the 54,092 who did so in nine days of early voting for the March primary.

It’s more than the 15,525 who voted early on the first of eight days for the November 2012 general election and accounts for 13 percent of the total of 124,896. If the pace were to continue, the 14-day early voting total this year would be 232,288.

Pundits have forecast that as many people will vote  before Nov. 8 as on Election Day, doing so either by mail-in ballots or via early voting, which started Monday in Palm Beach County and runs through Nov. 6.

As was the case in the March and August primaries, the biggest turnout of the 15 early voting sites on Monday was at the Hagen Ranch Road branch county library west of Boynton Beach, where 1,923 showed up.

According to the Florida Division of Elections, as of midmorning Monday, nearly 2 million mail-in ballots statewide remained outstanding, and more than 1.2 million already had been turned in. Of those submitted, Republicans held a 503,632 to 483,019 edge. In Palm Beach County, 117,838 were out and 60,051 had been submitted; of the latter, Democrats in the blue-leaning county outnumbered GOP voters 30,980 to 17,664.


Criminal Justice Commission creates list of police body camera use

cjc0120150116_met_cams_055Law enforcement agencies in Palm Beach County will have a 1-stop source for what their counterparts in the county are doing about police body cameras, courtesy of the county’s Criminal Justice Commission.

The commission has assembled a list of each agency and whether and how it employs body camera technology.

It also was in consensus to create a committee to study the issue and its local aspects.

Commission Executive Director Kristina Henson distributed her “matrix” at the panel’s regular meeting Monday morning and said that as she reaches out to more agencies she plans to expand the list and also show details.

Among the items the commission hopes to gather: If a department employs cameras, what does it pay for the camera and how much for data storage? And how many staff did the agency have to add to manage the records and do redactions when they get public records requests for a video clip?

To read more, go later to

‘Honor Flight’ delayed by Matthew now reset for Nov. 19

Andy, Robert, Daniel Mayer
Andy, Robert, Daniel Mayer
April 2015 flight
April 2015 flight

The Oct. 8 veterans’ “Honor Flight” cancelled by Hurricane Matthew has been rescheduled for Nov. 19, Honor Flight officials said Monday.

An especially poignant aspect of that flight had been that of the Mayers. Veteran Andy Mayer, himself a veteran, had planned to escort not just his father Robert, a World War II veteran, as well as brother Daniel, who was in Vietnam and who is dying of cancer.

Andy Mayer said Monday the trio is set to be on the rescheduled flight.

One change Nov. 19: the flight will land at 7:20pm instead of the usual 8:20 p.m. As always, the public is encouraged to come out in force to the airport to give the veterans a heroes’ welcome.

Since 2009, the nonprofit Stuart-based Southeast Florida Honor Flight, one of 133 such operations nationwide, has taken more than 2,100 veterans, free of charge, from Palm Beach International Airport to Washington and back.

Honor Flight operates solely on corporate and individual donations. Its four flights a year comprise a daylong trip to see the World War II Memorial, the Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery.


Tropical Shipping sending supplies, toys to Haiti

Tropical Shipping is sending about $3,000 worth of supplies, including diapers, clothing and toys, to Haiti, which suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Matthew earlier this month.

Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas Masters, who is leading an aid delegation to the country later this month, hailed the assistance and is urging others to help.

The storm killed an estimated 1,000 people, cut off communities and damaged the country’s already sub-standard housing stock.

Area residents can take relief supplies to a donation site at Blue Heron Boulevard and Avenue O in Riviera Beach.

Monarch Shipping is delivering the supplies to Haiti free of charge.

Tropical Shipping’s employees donated the $3,000 in relief supplies. It was important, they said, to include toys.

“In all of this, we still want to make the children smile,” said Jennifer Hill, Tropical Shipping’s director of governmental and community affairs.

Wind blows coconut trees during the pas(AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)


Solid Waste Authority: post-Matthew pickups should catch up by weekend

Wind blows coconut trees during the pas(AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
(AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

Garbage and yard trash pickup, backlogged by preparations Solid-Waste-Authorityfor Hurricane Matthew, should be caught up by this weekend, staff told Tuesday’s meeting of the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County‘s governing board.

The authority reported last week that volume was about 40 percent higher the Monday and Tuesday after Matthew’s Oct. 6 near-miss than it was for Sept 26-27, before the storm became a threat.

The authority said Matthew knocked down a lot of vegetation but that people also took the opportunity during preparation and cleanup to do mini-spring cleanings. The problem grew geometrically when pickups were canceled for Oct. 6-7.

Matthew generated about one day’s worth of additional garbage and three to four days of additional yard trash, Chief Operating Officer Mark Eyeington old county commissioners sitting Tuesday as the authority’s board.

“We’re slowly getting back to normal,” John Archambo, the authority’s director of customer relations, told the board. He said garbage pickups are caught up and yard pickups should catch up by Saturday.

The authority board also voted Tuesday to renew for one year its $250,000-a-year agreement with the Palm Beach County Office of Inspector General.

And it agreed to a 3.5 percent merit raise for Mark Hammond, executive director for the past nine years. He currently earns $199,971.