Anthony Westbury: Fort Pierce port buy could be a real shot in arm

History was made Thursday afternoon in St. Lucie County.

County commissioners voted unanimously to get back into the port business. They agreed in principle to purchase the Indian River Terminal, the only working part of the port, for $22 million and another $3 million for almost 7 acres of other land at the port.

That, together with land at Harbor Pointe the county already owns, adds up to almost 40 acres of port property.

It also puts the port back in public ownership for the first time in more than 20 years.

MORE | St. Lucie County Commission OKs buying property at Port of Fort Pierce for mega-yacht repair

County Administrator Howard Tipton, who has wanted to jump-start activity at the port ever since he arrived in St. Lucie County two and a half years ago, admitted to some queasiness on the board members’ parts when he briefed them individually ahead of the meeting. 

“What can go wrong?” Tipton said he heard several times.

That’s a legitimate question. Over the years we’ve been promised so much at the port, yet have almost nothing to show for it in terms of development.

So, what’s the difference this time around?

Timing

Tipton argued there’s been a rare alignment of circumstances recently.

For the first time in decades, there’s a willing seller. Entrepreneur Lloyd Bell, now deceased, bought the port in 2000 for $5.5 million and had resisted selling it to ever-more eager purchasers for astronomical amounts during the boom years.

Dean King, owner of the terminal property, had tried to sell the land last year to a private shipyard operator from Fort Lauderdale. The deal failed, and once it did county staff pounced.

The county, Tipton argued, is in a good financial position to consummate the deal on its own, if it has to. Obviously, he’d welcome other partners, such as the city of Fort Pierce and the state of Florida, Tipton said. Yet, the county could go it alone if it had to. 

Fort Pierce City Manager Nick Mimms, Mayor Linda Hudson and other city commissioners at Thursday’s meeting positively glowed at the prospect of an operating port. 

“Absolutely,” we want to be a partner, Mimms beamed. “We want to be 50-50 partners,” added Hudson.

Fort Pierce’s financial contribution is yet to be formally determined.

Political allies

St. Lucie County and the city of Fort Pierce seem happily in lock step over plans for the port.

A successful seaport could pay huge dividends for the city. A working mega-yacht repair/refit operation could generate about 900 high-paying skilled jobs within three to five years, county officials say.

There could be a second wave of vendor and supplier jobs after that.

When mega-yacht refit specialist Buddy Haack of Fort Lauderdale brought three vessels to Fort Pierce two years ago, he had few difficulties finding skilled craftsmen. Yet he noted the lack of specialist businesses nearby, notably a marine chandler to supply specialized boat hardware. The nearest chandlers are in Fort Lauderdale.

A working port also could bring a downtown hotel and more restaurants and entertainment businesses nearby.

The state, with Gov. Rick Scott’s hand on the helm, has been generous in helping develop Florida’s seaports. Scott is a firm believer in the economic-growth potential of the state’s 15 deep-water ports.

At No. 15, Fort Pierce is the only privately owned one on the list. Taking it back into public ownership would make Fort Pierce eligible for infrastructure grants.

 ”We’re at the bottom now; there’s only one way we can go — up,” County Commissioner Tod Mowery pointed out.

‘Hot’ industry getting hotter

Repairing and refitting mega-yachts in Florida traditionally has been concentrated in Fort Lauderdale. Yet many facilities there are congested or cannot expand. Fort Pierce has affordable space and an inlet that makes for easy port access.

Tipton and Port Director Stan Payne both believe the mega-yacht business is getting hotter.

“Yes, the mega-yacht business is better than it was three to five years ago,” agreed Lucy Chabot Reed, publisher of Fort Lauderdale-based The Triton, a monthly international news magazine that caters to yacht captains and their crews.

“Back then we were still in the recession bubble,” she said. “The latest Superyacht Report showed an increase in the production of those vessels for the first time in a long time. And boats are starting to move around again. Yachts and crews were idle for a while; there’s been more activity lately. And vessels that haven’t been used in a while will need more servicing and so on.”

Talent

Tipton has been focused on reinvigorating the Port of Fort Pierce ever since he arrived from Brevard County.

He brought on board Stan Payne, who has an impressive track record operating ports from Virginia to Port Canaveral. Payne spent the past two years as a consultant handling the negotiations in the King deal. 

Both Tipton and Payne represent a significant upgrade in management talent as far as the port is concerned. We can learn many lessons from their background.

Everyone I spoke to at the county has his or her fingers crossed for the next 90-day due diligence process. Are we paying a fair or an inflated price? Is there ground pollution at the port we’ll have to deal with? What could go wrong this time?

County residents have been promised the moon and stars at the port so many times, with almost nothing tangible to show for it.

Let’s hope this time will be different. Bringing in a steady supply of mega-yachts could bring a game-changing number of decent-paying jobs and an overall level of prosperity Fort Pierce really could do with. It could be a major economic shot in the arm.

I’m hopeful, but still a little wary. I suspect I’m not alone.

Anthony Westbury is a columnist for TCPalm. This column reflects his opinion. Contact him at 772-221-4220, anthony.westbury@tcpalm.com, or follow him at TCPalmWestbury on Twitter.

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/opinion/columnists/anthony-westbury/2017/09/22/anthony-westbury-fort-pierce-port-buy-could-real-shot-arm/688359001/

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St. Lucie County wants to buy 12 acres at Port of Fort Pierce – TC Palm

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St. Lucie County and the City of Fort Pierce want to turn the 290-acre Port of Fort Pierce in to a mega-yacht repair center. KEONA GARDNER/TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS
Wochit

St. Lucie County is entering the mega-yacht repair business.

During an 18-minute special meeting Thursday, the County Commission unanimously approved County Administrator Howard Tipton’s request to buy the 12-acre Indian River Terminal property at the Port of Fort Pierce for $25 million.

The county plans to operate a mega-yacht refurbishing business from the property to capitalize on the overcrowding of these facilities in South Florida.

In the past two years, three mega-yachts received refitting services at the port. Dean King, the owner of the property, had hoped to do more repairs there, but a deal fell through in August.

That is when the county started negotiations with King to buy the property, Tipton said.

Last Friday, King agreed to sell the property to the county.

MORE: Major road project at Port of Fort Pierce helps to bring vision closer

In addition to the land, the proposed sale includes the submerged lands around the property and a 10 percent ownership in the 67 acres owned by Destin Beach Inc., owned by the family of businessman Lloyd Bell, who has been reluctant to sell or develop the property.

Now, county staff immediately would lease the property from King for $50,000 per month for the next three months and use it as a refurbishing center with Port Director Stan Payne overseeing the process. The lease amount would be deducted from the final purchase price.

“Immediately after the sale, we will be on the phone calling to see which ships we can line up to have them come,” Tipton said.

The county estimates the sale would create 100 full-time jobs with an average annual wage between $45,000 and $50,000, he said.

The county would pay for the sale by borrowing $1.6 million a year for 30 years, according to county records.

MORE: St. Lucie rejects bid for ship-repair operation at Fort Pierce port

At first, the county plans to use money from its transportation reserves account to start repaying the loan. However, Tipton said he anticipates using revenue from the mega-yacht refurbishing as well as state grants. County-generated revenue projections show estimated monthly revenue projections of $57,600 for dockage.

Fort Pierce City Manager Nick Mimms said the city would “absolutely” contribute to the sale but the City Commission has yet to decide how much.

“We want to be 50-50 partners,” added Fort Pierce Mayor Linda Hudson.  

Revitalizing the 290-acre port, just north of downtown Fort Pierce, is a key component in the city’s and county’s economic development plans to bring jobs to the northwest part of Fort Pierce.

The sale follows the guidelines in the port master plan, the document that outlines development. It calls for the north area of the port and Harbour Pointe Park, a 20-acre parcel in the north end of the port, to be used for traditional port work and mega-yacht activity. Fisherman’s Wharf would be a buffer between traditional industrial activity and the business and residencies in downtown Fort Pierce, according to the master plan.

The County Commission acts as the Port Authority, but Fort Pierce’s planning and zoning rules apply because the port is in the city.

The sale is contingent upon the findings during a 90-day “due-diligence” period, when the county would get two appraisals, an environmental assessment, a land survey and a title insurance commitment, Tipton said.

“It’s been a port for a long time,” Tipton said. “We’re not sure what’s there. We’re buying it as is, so we need to understand what will be in the ground.”

The county also plans to conduct an economic impact study on the number of jobs the sale could create, he said.

“After those 90 days, we either buy it or walk away,” Tipton said.

By the numbers

  • 290 acres
  • 28-foot depth, authorized by Army Corps of Engineers
  • 98 undeveloped acres
  • 67 undeveloped acres owned by local businessman Lloyd Bell of Destin Beach Inc.
  • 20 undeveloped acres owned by St. Lucie County

Source: Treasure Coast Newspapers research

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/shaping-our-future/growth/2017/09/21/st-lucie-county-wants-buy-12-acre-property-port-fort-pierce-mega-yacht-repair-business/685884001/

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Sen. Nelson meets with displaced families in Fort Pierce


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Sabal Chase residents transitioning from shelter





Sen. Bill Nelson visits flooding victims in St. Lucie County


Sen. Bill Nelson visits flooding victims in St. Lucie County


Sen. Bill Nelson visits flooding victims in St. Lucie County








FORT PIERCE, Fla. – People forced from their Treasure Coast apartment complex because of flood waters are still living in limbo.

On Thursday afternoon, Senator Bill Nelson paid a visit to the Red Cross shelter they’re staying in to meet with storm victims.

There are about 40 people staying at the Percy Peek Gym, all of them displaced residents from Sabal Chase Apartments.

Some are transitioning into another place to stay but after staying there for well over a week, others are worried about where to go next.

“It’s been very stressful knowing what answers or where to go but to see the city officials jump in and the senator come down to meet our personal needs that’s a very big deal for us,” said Jenice Faneite, a Sabal Chase resident who spent the past week staying at the shelter.

The city condemned 144 units on the first floor of the complex because of flooding and the risk of mold. Last week, around 138 families had just 48 hours to grab what they could and leave.

“We’re hanging in there day by day. It’s been sometimes very difficult. Red Cross has been doing everything to get us out, we’ve been trying to scramble to figure out what to do,” said Faneite.

St. Lucie County and Fort Pierce city leaders are still working to find temporary homes for everyone.

“Getting temporary housing for them to get into hotels, motels. But we need to get that assistance so that they can get more permanently, into a permanent housing situation until those homes can be repaired,” said Sen. Nelson.

During his visit on Thursday, Sen. Nelson told the people at this shelter he hopes to work with FEMA to expedite the process.

“They need somebody to cut through the red tape and fortunately I can call FEMA directly in Washington to see if we can get things moving,” he said.

The Red Cross also said this shelter will stay open as long as it’s needed.

“They’re working with FEMA and local housing authority from st. Lucie county, they are getting every one of the 30 families — by the time they have to shut down this shelter — they’re going to have every one of those 30 families located in temporary housing,” said Sen. Nelson. ”Individuals are apprehensive and of course when you get apprehensive, it’s subject to rumor and they hear all kinds of things. But this is a success story as a shelter because they are going to accomplish all the things they set out to do.”

Some people have been able to get their own housing but others have needed assistance, said Diana Wesloksi, Housing Manager for St. Lucie County.

“They no longer have a computer and a way to apply for FEMA. We do have FEMA here and they’ve been a great help. We’re getting them some case numbers so we can get them temporary housing and then move on to permanent housing,” said Wesloski. 

She added that no one will have to worry about being left behind.

“Sometimes FEMA requires documentation and people don’t have it or lost it, so we try to help with that. Someone might need a birth certificate so we can help with that. Just a lot of things you don’t think about — when you have everything, and the next day you don’t, it’s strange,” she said.

St. Lucie County leaders said the apartment complex is continuing work on restoring the bottom floor units to living conditions. Demo work should be finished soon and a total completion time is hopefully expected in the next three months.

“We’re very optimistic and we’re hoping it will be sooner,” said Wesloski.

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Article source: http://www.wptv.com/news/region-st-lucie-county/fort-pierce/sen-nelson-meets-with-displaced-families-in-fort-pierce

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Bill Nelson visits Fort Pierce shelter where residents still displaced …

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Sen. Bill Nelson visited a local hurricane shelter Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, in Fort Pierce and met with residents still displaced by damage from Hurricane Irma. More than 50 people are still staying at the Percy Peak Gymnasium after floodwaters from the storm caused their homes to be deemed unsafe for living.
PATRICK DOVE/TCPALM

FORT PIERCE — Jerrell Nickerson told U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson that not knowing when he will be able to return home has been the hardest part of staying in a shelter since Hurricane Irma turned his life upside down. 

Nickerson, of Fort Pierce, his wife and three young children have been staying at a shelter at the Percy Peak gymnasium since their ground-floor apartment in Sabal Chase Apartments flooded.

MORE: Sabal Chase residents say goodbye to flooded Fort Pierce homes after Hurricane Irma

Nelson visited the shelter Thursday afternoon, a visit Nickerson said was comforting. 

“Florida has 67 counties,” Nickerson said. “(He went) out of his way to make sure every area has been assessed and looked at to try to get things rolling.”

Nickerson and his family rode out the storm in their apartment before flood waters breached the foundation. It took only minutes for the water to reach his chest, he said. 

Nickerson was living in one of the 144 ground-floor units at Sabal Chase the city deemed unsafe because of water damage that occurred when nearby canals and ponds flooded.

“It looked like an ocean,” Nickerson said. 


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Sabal Chase resident Tony Cureton, 21, (center) discusses
Sabal Chase resident Tony Cureton, 21, (center) discusses the destruction of the first floor apartment he shares with his fiancee, Blanca Forbes, 23, (left) and his brother, Matthew Cureton, 19, (right) Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, in the aftermath of flooding caused by Hurricane Irma at Sabal Chase Apartments in Fort Pierce. All first-floor residents of Sabal Chase were given 48 hours to evacuate their apartments because of unsafe living conditions. 
JEREMIAH WILSON/TCPALMA truck bed is filled with belongings Thursday, Sept.Jake Gaston, 8, helps his family move furniture outFirst floor residents were forced to evacuate theirFirst floor residents evacuate their residences Thursday,First floor residents evacuate their residences Thursday,First floor residents evacuate their residences Thursday,First floor residents evacuate their residences Thursday,First floor residents evacuate their residences Thursday,First floor residents evacuate their residences Thursday,First floor residents evacuate their residences Thursday,First floor residents evacuate their residences Thursday,First floor residents evacuate their residences Thursday,First floor residents evacuate their residences Thursday,First floor residents evacuate their residences Thursday,First floor residents evacuate their residences Thursday,First floor residents evacuate their residences Thursday,First floor residents evacuate their residences Thursday,First floor residents evacuate their residences Thursday,First floor residents evacuate their residences Thursday,First floor residents evacuate their residences Thursday,First floor residents evacuate their residences Thursday,First floor residents evacuate their residences Thursday,

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Complete coverage of Hurricane Irma

Displaced residents he spoke to were in good spirits, Nelson said. 

“People are being loved. They’re in a nice, comfortable place,” he said. “Their family is with them. Their family is safe and they’re getting meals.”

Throughout the whole ordeal, Nickerson, an Army veteran, said he’s been focused on the light at the end of the tunnel. 

“This type of circumstance humbles you,” he said. “It opens up your mind to get the bigger picture. You got life, you have your health, you have your strength and you have basic necessities.”

Nickerson and his family were secured temporary housing at an area hotel with the help of FEMA and the Red Cross. 

Since Hurricane Irma, about 90 families have stayed at the shelter, Red Cross officials said, and most were from Sabal Chase. All but four individuals were placed in temporary housing by Thursday until their apartments and homes are repaired. Those final four are expected to be in hotels by nightfall Thursday, Red Cross officials said. 

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/weather/hurricanes/2017/09/21/sen-bill-nelson-visits-fort-pierce-shelter-where-residents-still-displaced-after-hurricane-irma/689397001/

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Fort Pierce city manager updates efforts to help Sabal Chase residents, still displaced from Irma


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Residents of Sabal Chase Apartments are still trying to figure out their future after flooding from Hurricane Irma has made them homeless.




FORT PIERCE, Fla. – More than 100 families displaced by flood waters from Hurricane Irma in Fort Pierce are still relying on a shelter for housing.

More than 140 Sabal Chase Apartments units were deemed unsafe for living last week.

Now, the families who lived in those units are going into their second week without a home. Some people lost most everything they own because they could not find storage they could afford.

At Monday night’s city commission meeting, city manager Nick Mimms updated the commission on what the city has done so far to help the displaced individuals.

Mimms said more than 40 people are staying at the Percy Peak gymnasium. Dozens of others, staying with family and friends, have been stopping by the gym for meals.

Mimms said it could be 30 to 60 days until repairs are made at Sabal Chase. The city has expediting the permitting process for Sabal Chase contractors.

“They’re in. They’re already working,” Mimms said.

He also said the city has helped find hotel rooms for some residents at a Fairfield Inn and Motel 6.

“The city of Fort Pierce is working to get hotels signed up and approved by FEMA. We made calls all weekend.”

The Red Cross, few local churches and the Treasure Coast Food Bank have helped either basic needs and food.

The city is helping those impacted with transportation and trips to the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office to help residents get needed background checks to apply for more federal aid.
 
“We’re going to be here as long as there is a need,” Mimms said.

“The issues that they’re dealing with is limited resources, financial resources. Food, of course, stable housing,” said Fort Pierce resident Mario Wilcox.

Wilcox, a veteran, does not live at Sabal Chase, but knows other veterans and friends who do.

“It’s like I felt the pain and the frustration of the people.”

Wilcox spoke up at Monday’s meeting and told commissioners he and others will make sure the city keeps it’s word.

“My goal is to raise awareness to these elected officials.”

Mimms also expects a local FEMA disaster relief center to open this week where people can apply for long term federal assistance.

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Article source: http://www.wptv.com/news/region-st-lucie-county/fort-pierce/fort-pierce-city-manager-updates-efforts-to-help-sabal-chase-residents-still-displaced-from-irma

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Confusion over Fort Pierce shelter for those displaced by Irma

FORT PIERCE, Fla. —

Nearly two weeks without a good sleep and Elisa Ortiz still tried to put a positive spin on life after Irma Wednesday

“We actually have been here about two days, it isn’t bad, it’s just,” said Ortiz stopping short. But there was just no sugar coating it, she continued “It was kind of just like being in hell on earth, a little bit.”

The Red Cross shelter in Fort Pierce is the latest spot she’s had to spend the night since Hurricane Irma flooded her home in Sabal Chase, where at times water was waist-high.

The mom and her family stayed in motels and even their rental car before coming to the shelter but Ortiz said there’s mounting confusion over how long it will stay open.

“We hear they’re extending it and then again we hear they’re not extending it and then they tell us okay they’re going to keep it open longer,” Ortiz said last she heard, the Shelter was closing Thursday.

“The Red Cross is doing the best they can,” said Ortiz. “They’re giving us food, they’re giving us clothes that is donated but they don’t have the right information. Every time we call we get something different… we don’t know if the shelter is closing or they’re open or if we’re going to be on the street.”

“As a matter of fact the Red Cross never closes,” said Red Cross spokesperson Roberto Baltodano over the phone Wednesday. “And there is no confirmation at this point of that shelter transitioning out.”

With little certainty, Ortiz said some direction is a small relief.

“Just help us get on our feet. We’re not trying to be leaches and just stay in places, we just need somewhere to be, we want to get up on our feet,” said Ortiz.

Baltodano insisted the shelter is staying open and they continue to work with each individual family on their recovery plans.

Article source: http://www.wpbf.com/article/confusion-over-fort-pierce-shelter-for-those-displaced-by-irma/12440175

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Westwood turns turnovers to touchdowns in Tuesday’s win over South Fork

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Fort Pierce Westwood’s football team defeated South Fork 52-38 on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.
AIMEE FORD FOSTER/SPECIAL TO TCPALM

TROPICAL FARMS – After falling behind early, the Fort Pierce Westwood High School football team turned it around by taking advantage of a series of South Fork turnovers.

Westwood turned four of South Fork’s five turnovers into touchdowns on its way to a 52-38 win at Joebud Staggs/Bulldog Stadium on Tuesday. Westwood is now 2-1, its best start since 2010 — despite enduring a 19-day layoff between games because of Hurricane Irma. South Fork (0-2) had 25 days off because of weather.

“This is a real big win,” Westwood junior Willie Lewis said. “We honestly didn’t know what we were going to. We knew we were going to win, but we’re not used to taking so many days off. We haven’t done it since January. I just thank God for the win.”

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Fort Pierce Westwood defeated South Fork 52-38 on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.
AIMEE FORD FOSTER/SPECIAL TO TCPALM

Lewis was a huge playmaker. He had both interceptions by the Westwood defense. The first set up the tying touchdown in the second quarter, after South Fork got two first-quarter field goals and then a touchdown early in the second quarter to take a 14-0 lead.

Marques Burgess tied the game with an 8-yard run, his second touchdown, just five plays after Lewis’ first pick.

On South Fork’s next drive, Lewis came up with fumble recovery to set up the go-ahead score. Lewis recovered the ball on the Westwood 6-yard line. On the third play from scrimmage, Coy Gray found Keyontay Gholston open for a 93-yard catch-and-run play that ended in the end zone.

Less than a minute later, Westwood’s David Hall grabbed another South Fork fumble and ran 10 yards on a scoop-and-score to give Westwood a 26-14 halftime lead.

“They do a lot of drills and talk about it all day long, about creating turnovers and being a fast-break defense,” Westwood coach Aaron Sheppard said. “We have the ability to do it, we just have to focus and hone in on it. It’s tough, coming in like this after four days of practice, but they did a good job of responding.”

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Fort Pierce Westwood’s football team defeated South Fork 52-38 on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.
AIMEE FORD FOSTER/SPECIAL TO TCPALM

Westwood’s speed was also a factor. Khalil Hayes broke open the game with a 72-yard punt return for a score midway through the third quarter. Minutes later, Westwood went up 39-14 after Lewis’s second pick set up a 55-yard touchdown pass from Gray to Hayes.

Oliver Spann also recovered a fumble for Westwood late in the game. It was the only takeaway that didn’t lead to a Westwood score. Turnovers have hurt South Fork since the spring game.

“It’s a product of having 11 days off, and us as a coaching staff not being able to fix our biggest Achilles’ heel,” South Fork coach Mike Lavelle said. “That’s on me. We keep turning it over. Ultimately, you can’t keep blaming the kids. I’ve got to do different things or I’ve got to figure something out where we either put a better focus, or better drills, or whatever it may be to stop turning the ball over. If we just corrected just that one thing, we could be a lot better football team.”

Gray led the Westwood offense with 204 yards on 8-of-11 passing. Gholston had two catches for 120 yards, and Hayes two for 64. For South Fork, Johnny Auvil had 19 carries for 131 yards and a touchdown, plus three catches for 54 yards. RJ Weaver had an 88-yard kick return for a score.

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/sports/high-school/football/2017/09/19/westwood-turns-turnovers-touchdowns-tuesdays-win-over-south-fork/683839001/

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Body found near search for missing man in Fort Pierce


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His body was found floating in a lake.


A body has been located near the entrance of Portofino Shores, a subdivision where a search has been underway for a missing man.


A body was found in front of a lake at Portofino Shores in St. Lucie County, possible that of missing man.




John Kim











FORT PIERCE, Fla. – Only minutes after the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office created a social media post Tuesday for 24-year-old John Kim, something was spotted in the Portofino Shores neighborhood, where Kim lived with his aunt and uncle.

“It was discovered there was a body found floating in the lake,” said St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara.        

Soon police tape surrounded the water.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the body had been officially identified as Kim.  

He was last seen about 1 a.m. Monday morning by a security guard getting out of a cab and running into the neighborhood.  

A missing person report was filed in the afternoon.

All night Monday into Tuesday, friends and family members searched the entire community, even on horseback.

“He would always call his family and say he would be late, he wouldn’t be on time.  He would always check in,” said Indian River County School Board member Laura Zorc.

Kim was supposed to start a new job Monday.  His family owned a produce stand and Kim had been very active in local politics, losing a race for the Indian River County School Board last year.

“He was an intern with Congressman Posey, he was an intern with Indian River County, he was a volunteer to maintain campaign efforts, nonprofits,” said Indian River County Commissioner Tim Zorc.

Sheriff Ken Mascara will work with his counterpart in Indian River County to put all the pieces together, but at this point, it doesn’t appear there was any foul play.

“As we see it … no.  We don’t see anything alarming right now,” said the sheriff.

 

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Article source: http://www.wptv.com/news/region-st-lucie-county/fort-pierce/family-and-friends-search-for-missing-man-in-fort-pierce

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Tent camping coming to Fort Pierce Inlet State Park

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Unspoiled beauty, teeming with wildlife and highlighting the natural wonder of the area. how many of the nine state parks located on the Treasure Coast can you name?
VIRGINIA BEAGAN/TCPALM

Fort Pierce Inlet State Park is expected to open St. Lucie County’s first state park campground as early as this winter.

Preliminary plans call for six tent sites in a grassy field near Tucker Cove on the west side of the park, said Fort Pierce Outdoor Center manager Seth Wilbur. The concessionaire has managed the park’s amenities for the past year. 

The tents would be barely visible from the water. It would be about a 15-minute walk from the campsites to the inlet and ocean beaches on a paved pedestrian/bicycle path.

The sites likely will have potable water and environmentally friendly composting toilets, but not electricity, Wilbur said.

The state classifies such campsites as “primitive,” which could mean a low fee of about $5 per person per night.

Reservations likely would be made through an online service such as ReserveAmerica

“I think the price will be pretty low,” Wilbur said, “but we haven’t decided on the exact fee. This is all still in the planning stages.” 

Closer to home

The campground could draw visitors from other counties, including Okeechobee, Wilbur said, and bring state-park camping closer to home for St. Lucie residents and visitors.

A biological survey indicated there would be little environmental impact, Wilbur said.

Until the campground opens, campers who love overnight stays in state parks will have to continue trekking north to Sebastian Inlet or south to Jonathan Dickinson State Park at the southern end of Martin County. 

The tent sites would make Fort Pierce Inlet State Park the 59th of Florida’s 174 state parks to host camping. 

Concessionaire

Proceeds would not go to the public state park, but to the private Fort Pierce Outdoor Center, which has offices in Fort Pierce, Jupiter and Singer Island, Wilbur said. 

The company also rents bicycles, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, surfboards and bodyboards; conducts ecotours; and offers surfing and SUP lessons. The company is considering making arrangements for a food truck in the future.

When the state created the park’s 2006 management plan, it proposed a concession that would sell food and small convenience items to beachgoers. Planners also described it as renting equipment and offering canoe and kayak tours, fishing and surfing lessons to enhance the park’s outdoor water-focused recreational use.

At the time, the state’s planners also determined the park was not a candidate for secondary revenue-raising activities such as forestry and agriculture projects because its primary use was recreational. 

If you go

What: Fort Pierce Inlet State Park
Where: 905 Shorewinds Drive, Fort Pierce
Phone: 772-468-3985
Hours: Open 8 a.m. to sundown
Entrance fee: $6 per vehicle carrying 2 to 8 passengers
Size: 340 acres 
Beaches: ½-mile sandy ocean beach and a second beach on the inlet

 

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/indian-river-lagoon/recreation/2017/09/20/tent-camping-coming-fort-pierce-inlet-state-park/546037001/

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Fort Pierce city manager updates efforts to help Sabal Chase …


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Residents of Sabal Chase Apartments are still trying to figure out their future after flooding from Hurricane Irma has made them homeless.




FORT PIERCE, Fla. – More than 100 families displaced by flood waters from Hurricane Irma in Fort Pierce are still relying on a shelter for housing.

More than 140 Sabal Chase Apartments units were deemed unsafe for living last week.

Now, the families who lived in those units are going into their second week without a home. Some people lost most everything they own because they could not find storage they could afford.

At Monday night’s city commission meeting, city manager Nick Mimms updated the commission on what the city has done so far to help the displaced individuals.

Mimms said more than 40 people are staying at the Percy Peak gymnasium. Dozens of others, staying with family and friends, have been stopping by the gym for meals.

Mimms said it could be 30 to 60 days until repairs are made at Sabal Chase. The city has expediting the permitting process for Sabal Chase contractors.

“They’re in. They’re already working,” Mimms said.

He also said the city has helped find hotel rooms for some residents at a Fairfield Inn and Motel 6.

“The city of Fort Pierce is working to get hotels signed up and approved by FEMA. We made calls all weekend.”

The Red Cross, few local churches and the Treasure Coast Food Bank have helped either basic needs and food.

The city is helping those impacted with transportation and trips to the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office to help residents get needed background checks to apply for more federal aid.
 
“We’re going to be here as long as there is a need,” Mimms said.

“The issues that they’re dealing with is limited resources, financial resources. Food, of course, stable housing,” said Fort Pierce resident Mario Wilcox.

Wilcox, a veteran, does not live at Sabal Chase, but knows other veterans and friends who do.

“It’s like I felt the pain and the frustration of the people.”

Wilcox spoke up at Monday’s meeting and told commissioners he and others will make sure the city keeps it’s word.

“My goal is to raise awareness to these elected officials.”

Mimms also expects a local FEMA disaster relief center to open this week where people can apply for long term federal assistance.

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Article source: http://www.wptv.com/news/region-st-lucie-county/fort-pierce/fort-pierce-city-manager-updates-efforts-to-help-sabal-chase-residents-still-displaced-from-irma

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