Thumb down: Cost of barge removal from Fort Pierce Inlet may fall on taxpayers

COSTLY PROJECT: Taxpayers may get stuck with the tab to remove the 110-foot barge that sank in the Fort Pierce Inlet in February.

Cost: $2.6 million.

It took several weeks for the Army Corps of Engineers, working with contractors, to remove the vessel.

Rodney Grambo, 54, of Middleburg, was towing the barge when it sank. He was issued a citation related to not having a proper lookout and reckless operation of a vessel, according to a final report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

John Tellam, 56, of Miami, owns the barge and “made no effort to recover the vessel … from the inlet,” the report states.

Both Grambo and Tellam have been sent formal letters demanding payment for removal costs.

If they don’t pay, taxpayers likely will get stuck with the bill.

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Deadly shooting in Fort Pierce early Saturday

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — One person is dead after an early morning shooting in Fort Pierce.

Fort Pierce police say one person was shot around 3 a.m. on the 100 block of 25th Street, near propane tanks outside the “House of Meats” supermarket.

The person was transported to Lawnwood Medical Center where they died.

Officers are still searching for a suspect.

No other information is available at this time. Police continue their investigation and will release further details soon.

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Boil water notice lifted in Fort Pierce

FORT PIERCE — A precautionary boil water notice issued Tuesday for some areas of Fort Pierce was lifted Friday morning.

Customers in Golden Ponds, Timberlake and the I-95 rest areas north of Orange Avenue were placed under a boil water notice until repairs were made to a broken water main. Bacteriological tests show the water is safe to drink.

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Fort Pierce high school teacher accused of having sex with students

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Man charged with impersonating a police officer in Fort Pierce

Story by CBS12 Web team

FORT PIERCE (CBS12) — A man who knocked on a homeowner’s door, claiming to be an undercover deputy working with a narcotics task force, turned out to be a fake, police say.

Authorities arrested 19-year-old Calvin Michael Paige of Fort Pierce on a charge of impersonating a law enforcement officer and carrying a prohibited weapon.

Police said Paige showed up at the front door of a home on Southern Pines Drive Tuesday night, asking if anyone called 911.

Paige, according to the homeowner, said he was working undercover and “Sheriff (Ken) Mascara had him working the area when a call came into dispatch of a robbery nearby.”

The homeowner told police the impersonator was dressed in a green Polo shirt and jeans, with his hand on his holster and told stories about graduating from high school at the age of 17, and that he “loved kicking in doors.”

The homeowner said he didn’t notice a badge.

The impersonator eventually drove away.

Police said they received reports of similar incidents on Georgia Avenue.  In one of those cases, someone wrote down the license plate number on the impersonator’s car.

The tag number led police to an apartment on Ixoria Avenue.

Police searched a car and found a semi-automatic BB air pistol and a box for a gun holster.  Authorities also found a green American Eagle Polo shirt and blue jeans in Paige’s bedroom, which Paige admitted to wearing that night before taking a shower.

Police arrested Paige who admitted to knocking on the stranger’s door and identifying himself as a law enforcement officer with the vice unit.
Man charged with impersonating a police officer in Fort Pierce

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Water main break puts Fort Pierce customers under boil water notice

A water main break has put Fort Pierce Utilities Authority water customers under a boil water notice until Friday.

An 8-inch water main broke at Angle Road and Timberlake Drive. FPUA water customers are advised to boil all water used for drinking and cooking for from 8:30 p.m. Tuesday through midnight Friday.

Boundaries of the area covered by the boil-water notice includes:

North, Angle Road; east, North Rock Road; south, Shady Lake Lane; and west, Golden Ponds.

These boundaries include all of Golden Ponds, Timberlake and the I-95 rest areas located just north of Orange Avenue.

The boil water notice is issued as a precaution, and FPUA will conduct periodic testing during the next 72 hours to ensure water quality.

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Fort Pierce man charged with impersonating law officer

ST. LUCIE COUNTY — A 19-year-old man was arrested Tuesday after investigators said he told several people he was a law enforcement officer, according to affidavits released Wednesday.

Calvin Paige, of the 600 block of Ixoria Avenue in Fort Pierce, was arrested on four counts of impersonating a law enforcement officer and two counts of openly carrying a weapon. Paige reportedly was wearing a BB gun in a holster.

In one case, an off-duty sheriff’s deputy reported he was driving on Ohio Avenue when he saw a man waving his hands in the middle of the road. The man had a firearm in a holster.

The off-duty deputy stopped and the man said he was working undercover and then asked the off-duty deputy if he knew how fast he was going.

The off-duty deputy told the man he was a deputy and asked the man for identification. The man said it was in his vehicle before he sped away.

In another case, a man identified as Paige was accused of telling a man at a home in the 3400 block of Southern Pines Drive that he was an “undercover deputy working the narcotics task force” and that he loved “kicking in doors.”

Investigators reported the man was seen in a white Dodge, and determined it was registered to Paige. In the trunk, investigators found a BB gun.

In the case of the man from Southern Pines Drive, Paige told deputies he identified himself as “Officer Calvin Paige” and that he was a member of the “vice unit.”

Victims identified Paige.

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Palm Beach Co. murder suspect arrested in Fort Pierce after 2-hour standoff

FORT PIERCE, Fla. – A St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office task force, U.S. Marshals and Fort Pierce police have arrested a man in Fort Pierce wanted on murder charges stemming from a recent shooting in Palm Beach County.

All Sheriff Ken Mascara would say is Dacoby Wooten was involved in a case where a person was shot, but he could not provide further details.

Wooten was arrested after a two-hour standoff at an apartment complex.

Court records show that  Dav-neisha Bryant filed a petition for an injunction against Wooten in Martin County on October 19th.

Bryant was found shot to death Monday in Belle Glade after a domestic dispute, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

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Anthony Westbury: Highwaymen movie producer ditches Fort Pierce for Georgia

James Gibson, of Fort Pierce, one of the original Highwaymen artists, waves to the audience after being called out in attendance during a press conference announcing a Highwaymen movie “The Unknowns” Tuesday outside Fort Pierce City Hall in Downtown Fort Pierce. The movie is to be filmed in Savannah, Georgia. “The most important thing, I want it to be here, but they can’t get together on it,” Gibson said. “So if it’s in Georgia, California, whatever, it’s good for the Highwaymen and the State of Florida.” (ERIC HASERT/TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS)

So near and yet so far away.

A proposal to film the story of the Highwaymen group of painters in Fort Pierce, where it all took place, has collapsed at the eleventh hour.

The $8 million project became a victim of financing and lack of state incentives, the movie’s producer Walter T. Shaw announced Tuesday outside Fort Pierce City Hall.

Instead of using Fort Pierce for location shooting at the sites where the Highwaymen were active in the 1950s and 60s, Shaw has accepted a multimillion dollar offer from the city of Savannah and the state of Georgia to film the story there, the Fort Lauderdale-based producer said.

Jointly, the two Georgia sources have offered Shaw’s Top Cat II Productions LLC 40 percent of the $8 million production budget. It’s a number the state of Florida — let alone Fort Pierce — cannot match.

“This production demonstrates another example of a production business choosing to film scenes that are set in Florida in one of our neighboring states,” said Michelle Hillery of Film Florida, in notes provided by Shaw.

“In the absence of a state-supported financial program,” Hillery went on “Florida will continue to lose hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in local spending. If a new Film, Television and Digital Media Industry program is not funded this year, a once thriving business that has been cultivated in Florida for more than 100 years will severely deteriorate as we watch a quick exodus of high-paying jobs and companies move to competing states.”

Shaw noted that Gov. Rick Scott failed to mention any such incentive program Monday when he unveiled details of his proposed 2016 state budget.

The lack of state money and a ready-made moviemaking infrastructure here were the most serious obstacles to getting “The Unknowns” made in Fort Pierce, but there may have been other aggravating factors.

It seems there were differences between Shaw and Fort Pierce city government which recently became “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Shaw claimed.

“The story of Florida’s Highwaymen should be a film to rally those who oppose discrimination and racism to bring about more change and equality through art,” Shaw said in a written statement. “Their paintings should hang in every home or business in America as a visual rallying point. Because even today out attempt to produce a feature film in Fort Pierce … about the Highwaymen was met with constant obstacles and an intransigent local government that was willing to accept the free publicity created about the city in the film but unwilling to support its production. If you ask me, ‘Does prejudice still exist today, the answer is yes,’ ” Shaw added.

The city paints a rather different picture.

“He was producing plaques (to install at various Fort Pierce sites associated with the painters) that included the city seal,” city spokeswoman Linda Cox said. “He was advised not to do that without getting the permission of the City Commission beforehand. That’s standard procedure, but he did not do that.”

Cox explained the city is in the process of establishing a Highwaymen Trail and that Shaw wanted to add his plaques to the project.

“It’s unfortunate because the Highwaymen are from here,” she said. “It would have been great if we could have worked it out. I can’t fault him for going elsewhere (to find financing). I’m not aware of any other problems (with the city),” Cox said. “It was made very clear what he had to do. I’m told he had never applied to the county Tourism Development Council for a film permit either. We weren’t putting up any obstacles.”

Shaw has championed the story of the Highwaymen, a loosely affiliated group of black painters who took to the highways of Florida to sell their landscapes because white gallery owners would not display their work. Shaw has been scouting locations for the last 20 months in Fort Pierce, he said. I have interviewed him several times.

The decision to film the movie in Georgia represents a great loss to Fort Pierce. Although there have been at least two previous attempts to film the Highwaymen story, Shaw’s project seemed the closest to coming to fruition.

Shaw has been assembling a roster of actors including Whoopi Goldberg, Sam Rockwell, Khandi Alexander, Keith Stanfield and director Bill Duke.

Making the movie in Fort Pierce would have undoubtedly given the city both prestige and a financial shot in the arm. Along with hotels and restaurants likely to benefit, about 600 extras will be needed for crowd scenes, Shaw said.

One of the original Highwaymen, James Gibson attended the news conference.

“Yes, I wanted it to happen here,” he said. “But to me, the most important thing is that the movie will be made and that the world will be able to see it. I wish it could’ve been here, but I can’t change that.”

Anthony Westbury is a columnist for Treasure Coast Newspapers. This column reflects his opinion. Contact him at 772-221-4220,, or follow him at TCPalmWestbury on Twitter.

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Megayachts in Fort Pierce

This is Paul Janensch with a Treasure Coast Essay about megayachts.  Two of them are now docked at the Indian River Marine Terminal in the Port of Fort Pierce, north of downtown.  Maybe more will come.  The port needs the business.  Fort Lauderdale to the south is full-up with exotic vessels.  Fort Pierce has space, and labor rates are about half of what they are down there.  The first to arrive was the 212-foot “Lady Lau,” to be renamed “Double Down” by her new owner.  He bought her for $44 million.  The other is “Freedom” — 229 feet, with eight staterooms and a helicopter pad.  Both are undergoing $1.5 million in maintenance.  Local electricians, carpenters and other workers are being employed.  Fort Pierce, a place for megayachts.  Pretty cool, huh?  I’m Paul Janensch. 

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