Administrator: Palm Beach County on the rise; extra penny will help

Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Baker in 2016 talk (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker started her “State of the County” update Wednesday to a business group by talking about pennies.

“Thank you for your support to reinvest in our community,” Baker said at a breakfast meeting for the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce. She referred to the 1-cent sales tax surcharge voters approved in November. The county, the school board and municipalities will split the money, which mostly will repair and improve roads and buildings.

Now some eight years removed from the real estate crash and recession, Palm Beach County continues on the rise, Baker said.

The county has added 11,500 jobs, its unemployment rate is 5.1 percent, and it is “experiencing a healthier economy with tourism, agriculture, biotech and transportation continuing to be vibrant aspects of what makes the county a great place to live, work and play,” she said.

And, she said, “We are also enjoying record-setting tourism and a robust real estate market. Property values and home sales are up, while foreclosures and interest rates are low.”

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Cold War sub would sink off Jupiter, become Florida’s first sub artificial reef

(USS Clamagore Preservation & Memorial Assn)
(USS Clamagore Preservation & Memorial Assn)

For decades, a 320-foot Cold War-era submarine has been a floating tourist attraction in downtown Charleston S.C. Now a group hopes to sink it off Jupiter, perhaps as early as this summer, as part of Palm Beach County’s renowned 150-plus piece artificial reef program and as an “underwater museum.” Organizers said it would be the first sub ever turned into a reef in Florida.

Palm Beach County plans to sink the USS Clamagore, the “Gray Ghost of the Florida Coast,” in about 100 feet, according to a memo for Tuesday’s county commission meeting.

County Commissioners would vote to approve paying a Miami firm $1 million. The money will come from a vessel registration fee trust fund.

The diesel-powered Clamagore, built in 1945, just after the end of World War II, ran up and down the Atlantic coast from Key West to Charleston and trained sailors to track Soviet nuclear subs. It was retired in 1975 and since 1981 has been docked since at the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum in Charleston.

According to the memo for Tuesday’s commission meeting, while the sub has been a popular draw, it has “structural fatigue” so extensive it’s not practical to repair it enough for tourists to safely tour it. Several groups had suggested new homes for the sub but couldn’t come up with the money.

The museum decided the sub deserved a better fate than a scrapyard and signed a deal last spring with Artificial Reefs International-Clamagore, a subsidiary of Miami-based CRB Geological and Environmental Services, to find a home for it somewhere in the ocean, ARI principal Joe Weatherby said Tuesday.

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Jupiter Farms man released from South Korea jail

Julius Malinowski (Family photo)

Julius Malinowski is coming home.

The 79-year-old retired Federal Reserve vice president, who winters in Jupiter Farms, has been released from jail in South Korea and arrives Tuesday night in Miami. He’ll spend a few days at the Jupiter Farms home of his son Kent before returning to Virginia, Kent said in an email.

Julius Malinowski has been in a South Korea jail since Nov. 10, charged with fraud, his son said. The family says he is the real victim, set up by people posing as executives of North Carolina-based BB&T Bank to unknowingly rip off a South Korean businessman.

Kent Malinowski said Dec. 21 that his father’s attorneys have told him his father agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a 1-year sentence that was suspended.

Kent said at the time he had an emotional phone call of less than 10 minutes with his father, who was awaiting clearance to leave. He said his father “choked up, and said to me, ‘Thank you… thank you…for all you did to get me out.  You saved my life.’  That’s when I couldn’t hold back my own tears. Both of us… on the phone… sobbing like little kids. This phone call was the single greatest gift of my life…it’s taken me 57 years to experience the unrestrained joy of a Christmas miracle.”





Don Kings’s annual holiday turkey giveaway set for next week

Don King hands out turkeys in 2011(Staff photo/Lannis Waters)
King in 2011 (Staff photo/Lannis Waters)

Flamboyant boxing promoter Don King will be at his former jai alai fronton site in Mangonia Park at 9 a.m. next Tuesday, Dec. 20, for his annual holiday turkey giveaway.

King, in partnership with the town and Palm Beach County, will distribute birds to local social service agencies who will deliver them to families and individuals they’ve selected. No birds will be handed out to the general public.

The jai alai site, at 1415 45th St., was in the news last year after Victor Palacios of Palm Beach, an investor and a former real estate broker, told Mangonia Park elected officials his vision of a $500 million high-tech business and technology center at the site. King, now 85, has said he’s all for selling the property; all Palacios has to do is write him a check.  Palacios has met a few times with town officials, but a year later, nothing’s come of the plan.


Palm Beach County Commissioner Valeche out again; ‘I’ll be back next week.’

Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche, noted for recent absences, was out again at Tuesday’s workshop.

“My doctors wanted me to take it easy to the end of the week, so I’ll be back next week for all the meetings,” Valeche said by phone during the workshop’s lunch break.

Valeche’s aide sent commissioners an email Monday afternoon giving notice that Valeche would not attend.

The recently-reelected commissioner, and outgoing vice-mayor, missed weeks of meetings, and was hospitalized for weeks, in late October and early November. He said Nov. 9 he would not stand for the mostly-ceremonial mayor’s post, citing his health.

Valeche did attend last month’s organizational meeting, his first in weeks, and was sworn into his new term. He did not make mention at that meeting of his absences or his health.

Valeche has not describe his health situation, and during the election, opponent Tony Bennett had called on Valeche to be more transparent about his health. Bennett, a Democrat, noted that Republican Gov. Rick Scott would appoint a replacement if Valeche, also a Republican, won re-election and could not finish that four-year term.

Palm Beach County judge gives Riviera Beach five days to give activist Fane Lozman a street address


A judge Monday gave Riviera Beach five days to assign activist Fane Lozman street addresses for the five Singer Island lots of what the activist calls his “Renegade” complex.

Palm Beach County Judge Martin Colin’s order said “credible evidence belies the City’s position” that Lozman hadn’t exhausted his avenues to get the address, saying Lozman first contacted the city via email and written correspondence more than a year ago.

Lozman’s suit, filed Feb. 12 in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, said that, without an address, if there’s an injury, a call to 911 could be catastrophically delayed.

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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 Appraiser Nikolits files to join Fane Lozman’s “address” suit vs. Riviera Beach


Gadfly Fane Lozman has a new supporter in his court fight demanding Riviera Beach assign an address for his Singer Island property. Palm Beach County Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits Friday filed a court motion to join Lozman’s suit.

Nikolits told The Palm Beach Post Friday he’s acting based on a concept that sounds like a technicality but which is a legal imperative of his post: he needs a place to send his bill.

Lozman's house sinks in August
Lozman’s house sinks in August


Riviera Beach City Attorney Andrew DeGraffenreidt did not immediately return a call Friday.

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Groundbreaking Thursday for new northwest Palm Beach County shooting range

022010 met gunrange 2.jpgGroundbreaking is set for Thursday morning for the new Palm Beach County Shooting Sports Park, a public target shooting facility being built by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in partnership with Palm Beach County.

The 150-acre complex, near the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area in northwestern Palm Beach County, will feature target shooting, including Olympic-style shooting events, as well as hunter safety courses. Its first phase is set to open next year.

Good ship Ana Cecelia to be sunk Wednesday off Palm Beach County coast

(El Nuevo Herald)
(El Nuevo Herald)

Weather permitting, the Ana Cecelia, a ship that saw both charity and crime will be sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean this morning.

The county’s Department of Environmental Resources Management has set today to drop the 170-foot, 629-ton freighter 75 to 90 feet down off the Port of Palm Beach, making it one of the county’s 150 artificial reefs and the southernmost in a line of 11. It ran humanitarian goods to Cuba but later was seized after drugs were found on it.

When the Ana Cecilia sinks, plaques on it will honor 14-year-olds Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, who were lost at sea after their 19-foot boat left the Jupiter Inlet on July 24. A third plaque honors Palm Beach County sheriff’s corrections officer Fernandez Jones, his 70-year-old stepfather, Willis Bell, and Jones’ 9-year-old son, Jaden. The three drowned when their boat capsized off Martin County on April 10. A cousin, Robert Stewart, survived.

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