Killing CRAs would endanger the renaissance of Fort Pierce | Guest column

If you follow the Florida Legislature, prepare to hear a lot of criticism about Community Redevelopment Agencies. As you consider these mostly unfounded complaints, I’d ask the people of Fort Pierce to think about a few of the revitalization projects that have been completed in our CRA district:

  • The restored and enlarged Fort Pierce City Marina, which had its grand reopening a decade after back-to-back hurricanes Frances and Jeanne destroyed it and most of its boats in 2004. A system of islands now protects the marina and the waterfront. The marina suffered little to no damage in hurricanes Matthew and Irma.
  • Our restored Sunrise Theatre, enhanced Veterans Memorial Park and new Melody Lane Fishing Pier, all of which attract residents and visitors to the city’s downtown waterfront corridor.
  • Our Intermodal Transit Facility, located in a previously transportation-challenged neighborhood, which provides bus transport to residents to and from jobs, doctors, hospitals and shopping areas.

These are just a few examples of redevelopment in the city of Fort Pierce. Unfortunately, legislation expected to come before the Florida Legislature would jeopardize the CRA and its ability to undertake similar projects in the future.

In the Florida House, at least, the pressure against more than 220 CRAs across the state comes from the very top. Because of questionable practices in a few CRAs, critics have called for stricter auditing and oversight, ethics training for authority leaders and other improvements that many city leaders would welcome, including me.

But any attempt by the Legislature to impede the creation of new CRAs, or to phase out existing CRAs, would be a terrible mistake — one that would halt the progress historic cities like Fort Pierce have been making toward revitalizing our neighborhoods and economies.

CRAs allow local leaders to target blighted areas for redevelopment. The money comes from “tax increment financing,” defined as increased tax receipts arising from business growth attributable to its investments in the targeted areas. CRAs dedicate those funds to further improve the CRA district.

Fort Pierce’s CRA dates to 1982, and has been expanded from time to time. It has produced many improvements, including Jetty Park and Highway A1A and beach amenities that have lured thriving businesses like the Square Grouper and Inlet Grill.

The CRA produced the downtown parking garage that provides free parking to businesses and venues and is a key aspect in the revitalization in downtown.

CRA funds helped rehabilitate the old YMCA building for the Fort Pierce Police Athletic League and helped construct our Human Development Resources Center, a collaboration with Indian River State College. The city’s Percy Peek Gymnasium is a venue for Boys Girls Clubs activities, summer camps, basketball clinics and tournaments, job fairs and many positive youth activities.

The CRA helped rehabilitate houses and apartment buildings on Orange Avenue. It collaborated with state and federal agencies to purchase land and build houses on 12th and 13th streets, and reclaimed a failing neighborhood.

All CRAs are not alike, and they don’t always make universally popular choices. I, personally, have not agreed with everything our CRA has spent money on. Still, the program was designed to give aging cities an opportunity to flourish again. Investments made years, even decades, ago now are paying dividends.

Our CRA enjoys the support of both the city and the county. We have an advisory committee of citizens who live or work within the targeted area. The program has been transparent and fair. If legislators saw our city now, they would have to admit the CRA has helped Fort Pierce establish itself as a beautiful beach and tourist town with an historic, vibrant downtown and neighborhoods proud of their art, culture and history. Our seaport is on the brink of a rebirth.

It would be a terrible shame to halt the renaissance of Fort Pierce.

Linda Hudson is mayor of the city of Fort Pierce. 

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/opinion/contributors/2017/10/19/killing-cras-would-endanger-renaissance-fort-pierce-guest-column/780667001/

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1 dead in Fort Pierce shooting, 1 injured in nearby shooting


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Police are investigating a homicide that occurred overnight in Fort Pierce.


Police are investigating a homicide that occurred overnight in Fort Pierce.






FORT PIERCE, Fla. — Police are investigating a homicide that occurred overnight in Fort Pierce.

The Fort Pierce Police Department received a report of the homicide at 12:30 a.m.

Officers responded to Madison Cay Apartments on North 29th Street and found one person dead. The person is a 32-year-old male; police say he was shot in the chest. No suspect is in custody, but police said they interviewed people overnight at the police station.

Crews received a call reporting a shooting on Douglas Court, while officers were on the scene of the homicide, about 8 minutes away.

One person was shot in the hip and is expected to survive. No suspect is in custody.

Police say the homicide and the shooting are unrelated.

This story will be updated with more information as it becomes available.

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Article source: http://www.wptv.com/news/region-st-lucie-county/fort-pierce/1-dead-in-fort-pierce-homicide-1-injured-in-nearby-shooting

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Fort Pierce Utilities Authority: Wastewater spill into Indian River Lagoon being addressed

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Even when Florida’s waters are beautiful blue, dangers can lurk in the form of bacteria. Three are particularly troublesome, even deadly: Vibrio vulnificus, cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) and enteric bacteria. TYLER TREADWAY/TCPALM
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Power and communications problems that led to more than 1 million gallons of treated sewage being dumped into the Indian River Lagoon are being fixed, Fort Pierce Utilities Authority official said Thursday.

What went wrong

  • Power went out on one of two lines serving the plant.
  • A second power line deemed ”unreliable” since Hurricane Irma had not been repaired and was unavailable.
  • A computer warning system didn’t notify an on-call operator of the power loss, so the spill went unnoticed for three hours.

What FPUA is doing

  • A dedicated power feed to the plant has been installed.
  • More FPUA staffers will be trained to manually transfer the plant from one power line to the other.
  • A switch to automatically transfer the plant from a damaged power line to the other will be installed.
  • Two aging transformers at the plant will be replaced by next year’s hurricane season.
  • A stand-by generator will be installed by the 2019 hurricane season and portable generators will be available in 2018 in case both power lines fail.
  • A larger backup battery has been installed on the computer warning system, which will alert several FPUA personnel if there’s a power outage at the plant.

About 1.25 million gallons of wastewater was released into the Indian River Lagoon between 3 and 6:45 a.m. Oct. 2 because of a power outage at the FPUA’s Water Reclamation Facility on South Hutchinson Island, at the southeast base of the South Bridge.

The effluent was “completely biologically treated,” said  FPUA spokeswoman Jann Widmayer, and posed no threat to people or wildlife. The plant had removed heavy metals as well as nitrogen and phosphorous, which can spur algae blooms.

The effluent did contain bacteria “that would not survive in saltwater,” Widmayer said. 

The lagoon water at the treatment plant is brackish, a mixture of saltwater and freshwater.

FPUA collected water samples from seven sites in the area for 10 days after the spill and found no problems, Bo Hutchinson, FPUA director of water and wastewater, told the utility’s board of directors Tuesday.

According to Hutchinson’s presentation to the board, power went out at the plant about 2 a.m. when a broken circuit knocked out electricity to customers in the South Beach area of Fort Pierce.

Two independent circuits provide electricity to the plant. The two “can be switched back and forth” so if one goes down, the other can power the plant, Hutchinson said.

One of the circuits was “less reliable” after Irma, so the plant was running on the other. Operators failed to fix the faulty circuit so there would be a back-up source of power, Hutchinson said.

“That’s an operational error on our side,” Hutchinson told the board.

The back-up power source wouldn’t have eliminated the wastewater release, he said, “but the volume would have been reduced.”

Also, the battery backup on the computerized warning system ran out of power and failed to notify the on-call operator the plant had lost electricity.

The plant had capacity to store the treated wastewater for about an hour after losing electricity, Hutchinson said, but about 3 a.m. it started overflowing into the lagoon.

FPUA staffers didn’t realize there was a spill until they arrived at the plant at 6 a.m.

The discharge ended about 6:45 a.m. when power was restored to the plant.

The spilled water had gone through all the treatment processes except having chlorine added and was supposed to go into the injection well. But because of the power outage, there was no way to push the effluent into the well.

The plant can treat up to 10 million gallons of the area’s wastewater a day and discharges the treated effluent into a 3,000-foot-deep injection well, according to FPUA’s website.

The portable generators FPUA plans to rent in case of emergencies for next year’s hurricane season will be able to power the well pumps, Hutchinson said. The generator that will be on site by the 2019 season will be able to power entire plant.

The automatic switch and the generator will cost a total of about $1.5 million, he said.

The treatment plant had two similar spills because of power outages during Hurricane Irma:

  • About 6 million gallons between 10 p.m.  Sept. 10 and 1 p.m. Sept. 11
  • About 3 million gallons between 3:49 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Sept. 12

Hutchinson said those spills were unavoidable because the hurricane knocked out all electrical power to the plant, but future outage-related discharges should be prevented or lessened when back-up generators are in place.

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/indian-river-lagoon/health/2017/10/19/fort-pierce-utilities-authority-wastewater-spill-into-indian-river-lagoon-being-addressed/776560001/

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Co-founder of Chuck’s Seafood Restaurant in Fort Pierce turns 100 years old | Laurie’s Stories

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Mary Elodie Slay Tabor McCready, who turned 100 years old Oct. 9, 2017, celebrates her birthday Oct. 8 with friends and family at the restaurant she co-founded with husband Charles “Chuck” Tabor, Chuck’s Seafood Restaurant, in Fort Pierce.
XAVIER MASCAREÑAS/TCPALM

I always wondered how I would honor my grandma on Oct. 21, 2017, what would’ve been her 100th birthday.

Barbara Marguerite Frere Blandford was my hero and favorite person. With both parents working full time, she helped raise me. My biggest fear in life was realized Nov. 26, 2010, when she died at 93.

A day after my first column was published, introducing myself as TCPalm’s entertainment reporter and columnist, I got an email about a Fort Pierce woman who was turning 100 years old Oct. 9.

Even though it’s the ultimate milestone birthday, it’s not something I typically would feature in a column.

But this was Mary Elodie Slay Tabor McCready, co-founder of Chuck’s Seafood Restaurant on South Hutchinson Island in Fort Pierce that opened in 1961.

Chuck’s was my grandma’s favorite restaurant, and it still is mine.

We would go there for every birthday and special occasion and always order their popular fried shrimp. Before I was diagnosed with a shellfish allergy, I would power through the odd feeling I got every time I ate it because their shrimp was that delicious.

FORT PIERCE SPOTS: Chuck’s a favorite of food reviewer Melissa Stonesifer

McCready’s family and friends celebrated her 100th birthday Sunday at the restaurant. That’s all she wanted — if she could’ve told me herself — said her grandson, Charles “Chuck” Buchanan.

“Her goal has always been to be 100,” Buchanan said. “Because her mother made it to 99.”

I was shocked to learn McCready was one of nine siblings with seven girls and two boys — exactly like my grandma. The McCready family lived in the historic Seven Gables House.

“As my great-grandfather used to be put it,” Buchanan said, “he had a house built with seven gables for his seven pretty daughters.”

I also couldn’t believe they both were young girls when they moved to Fort Pierce in the 1920s — McCready from Mississippi and my grandma from Kansas.

But that’s where the similarities end. My grandma lost the love of her life and was left to raise two young boys on her own while she worked as a legal secretary for a local judge for more than 40 years.

As a teenager, McCready worked at a little diner on old Seaway Drive before the bridge was built. A merchant marine during World War II named Charles Leonard Tabor sailed into the Port of Fort Pierce on the freighter Betty Weems, the first merchant ship that came into the port.

“Whenever the ship was in town, he would come in and have lunch,” Buchanan said. “Well, they got married (in their early 20s) and moved to Baltimore.”

After the war, Tabor got a job working in the Baltimore shipyards. He originally was from a small crabbing town in Virginia on the Chesapeake Bay, and his family was in the crabbing business.

The couple often would visit McCready’s parents in Fort Pierce and finally moved away from the cold and back to her home with their only child, a daughter, Buchanan’s mother. By the time the restaurant opened, he was born.

“To this day, my grandmother says they named it after me,” Buchanan said. “If people ask me how it got its name, I tell them ‘Well, they always told me they named it after me.’”

They ran the restaurant as a team. McCready did all the business while Tabor did all the cooking. He also drove to Grant four times a week to pick up fresh seafood.

“He’d sit out on the back dock and peel shrimp and split shrimp for hours,” Buchanan said. “She pushed for the business to be a success. She ran it hard.”

Tabor didn’t have any cooking experience when he opened the restaurant. His grandson said he likely learned from his mother’s cooking when he was growing up.

Buchanan worked every job at the restaurant, except wait tables, for about 11 years on days he was needed in addition to his full-time job.

“I can cook anything in the restaurant that they cook his way because he taught me,” Buchanan said. “It was a family business. Everybody filled in.”

They retired in the 1980s. Despite different owners, Tabor’s recipes — including the famous one for fried shrimp — continue to be used.

After Tabor died, McCready married his best friend, Ben “Chris” McCready. The men had worked together in the shipyards, and they and their wives used to vacation together. Chris McCready and his wife continued to take then-Elodie Tabor on vacation after her husband died. The tradition continued after his wife died.

“One year, she calls me and says ‘I got something to tell you,’” Buchanan said. “She goes, ‘Chris is here.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I know. I was there the other day.’

“She goes, ‘Well, he’s not leaving anymore.’

“We saw it coming,” Buchanan said. “It was surprising, but then it wasn’t.”

Even after she lost her second husband, McCready continued to work part time at the restaurant until she had a stroke before her 95th birthday.

“Unfortunately, it took her memory,” Buchanan said. “It’s not hard anymore because I’ve accepted it.”

McCready is in great shape physically and still can get around with the help of a walker. She took it easy in a wheelchair for her party.

Her nursing home has become her home, and she loves to play bingo there. Buchanan and his wife visit several times each week, as much as possible.

“She’s just as happy as can be,” Buchanan said. “All we’re concerned with is she’s happy and taken care of.”


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Peter Angelos, of Fort Pierce, who bought Chuck's SeafoodElodie McCready, who turned 100 on Oct. 9, 2017, celebratesAmy Flickinger, of St. Lucie Village, talks with centenarianElodie McCready, who turned 100 years old Oct. 9, 2017,Elodie McCready (right), who turned 100 years old Oct.Elodie McCready, who turned 100 years old Oct. 9, 2017,Elodie McCready, who turned 100 years old Oct. 9, 2017,Elodie McCready, who turned 100 years old Oct. 9, 2017,Elodie McCready, who turned 100 years old Oct. 9, 2017,Peter Angelos, of Fort Pierce, who bought Chuck's SeafoodElodie McCready, who turned 100 years old Oct. 9, 2017,Elodie McCready, who turned 100 years old Oct. 9, 2017,Elodie McCready, who turned 100 years old Oct. 9, 2017,Elodie McCready, who turned 100 years old Oct. 9, 2017,

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I remember seeing McCready in the restaurant. She would always go around the tables, greeting what seemed like her guests.

And she always would come say hello to my grandma. They were old friends.

Our families aren’t sure how they knew each other. But Fort Pierce was an even smaller town when they were young. I wish I could ask them. Both of these women were — and still are — remarkable in their own ways. They’ve made an impact here, big and small.

It’s up to us, grandchildren of the greatest generation, to carry on their legacies in their honor.

Laurie K. Blandford is #TCPalmSocial’s entertainment reporter and columnist dedicated to adventure and finding the best things to do on the Treasure Coast. Read her weekly column, Laurie’s Stories, on TCPalm.com. Follow her on Twitter at @TCPalmLaurie or Facebook at faceboook.com/TCPalmLaurie. Get behind the scenes with TCPalm’s Instagram and Snapchat stories.

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/entertainment/tcpalmsocial/2017/10/19/co-founder-chucks-seafood-restaurant-fort-pierce-turns-100-years-old-lauries-stories/727705001/

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Meeting Thursday in Fort Pierce could limit fishing

Anglers who have enjoyed fishing from the catwalks under the South Bridge in Fort Pierce may soon have one less spot to catch dinner.

From 4-6 p.m. Thursday, there will be an open house at the Fort Pierce River Walk Center, 600 N. Indian River Drive, with project managers with the Florida Department of Transportation. They will be there to discuss and inform the public about a proposal to rehabilitate and replace the Peter P. Cobb Bridge (South Bridge) observation walk over the Intracoastal Waterway (Indian River Lagoon) in Fort Pierce.

According to the meeting announcement posted on the Florida Department of Transportation site, “project personnel will be on hand to discuss the scope of work, construction schedule, and address questions and comments one-on-one. … There will not be a formal presentation.”

The project was expected to begin this week, and is anticipated to be completed by spring 2020, weather permitting. The purpose of this project is to strengthen and protect the existing bridge. The cost for construction is $7.93 million. Work will be performed by Munilla Construction Management LLC, with FDOT and Cardno overseeing the project.

Impacts to road traffic are not anticipated, according to FDOT. Impacts to marine traffic and channel closures will be coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard, and a notice will be sent out for all closures.

What is of interest to land-based anglers who fish there for snapper, black drum and croaker dinners, “the observation walks will not be accessible during their replacement and once they are reopened fishing will no longer be permitted. The pathway under the west end of the bridge will be maintained during construction.”

For more information, contact Community Outreach Specialist Kathleen Dempsey at 772-359-5118 or kdempsey@corradino.com.

Access discussed for Fellsmere WMA

The 10,000-acre Fellsmere Water Management Area has the foundation of what could be one of the most legendary bass fisheries in Florida one day. At the present time, paddlecraft anglers are about the only ones who have access to the massive water storage project located on the east border of the Stick Marsh.

That could soon change. Or will it?

From 6-8 p.m. Thursday, the St. Johns River Water Management District is hosting a public meeting to discuss updates to land management and recreational across Brevard and Indian River counties including the new water storage area. The meeting will also include an opportunity for public comment. It will take place at the Blue Cypress Room at the SJRWMD Palm Bay Service Center, 525 Community College Parkway S.E. in Palm Bay. A calendar of all recreational public meetings is available online at www.sjrwmd.com/meetings-announcements/#recreation.

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/sports/outdoors/fishing/2017/10/18/meeting-thursday-fort-pierce-could-limit-fishing/777032001/

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Plane full of pets from Puerto Rico lands in Fort Pierce

FORT PIERCE, Fla. —

Dozens of dogs and a handful of cats arrived by plane at the airport in Fort Pierce this afternoon.

The animals were rescued from Puerto Rico.

Many of the them are from shelters.

Several owners surrendered their pets because they could no longer care for them after Hurricane Maria.

Pilot Nick Barson has a plane and hangar in Fort Pierce.

This is his second trip to Puerto Rico in a month.

So far, around 200 dogs and cats have been flown to Fort Pierce.

The pets were given to eight rescue agencies where they will be vetted, washed and fed.

Organizers said animals will go to loving homes soon.

Article source: http://www.wpbf.com/article/plane-full-of-pets-from-puerto-rico-lands-in-fort-pierce/13040483

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Arrest made in weekend death of Fort Pierce man

People can call Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers to leave anonymous tips.
Wochit

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/crime/2017/10/17/arrest-made-death-fort-pierce-man/771678001/

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Fort Pierce man robs gas station with cattle prod, police say

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Fort Pierce police released this security video after arresting Middleton Henderson, 21, on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2017, and charging him with robbery with a weapon and aggravated battery.

FORT PIERCE — Police detectives arrested a Fort Pierce man Thursday after he used a cattle prod to rob a gas station, according to an arrest affidavit.

Middleton Henderson, 21, of the 3800 block of Edwards Road, was arrested at about noon after Fort Pierce police detectives and a K-9 and helicopter from the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office were deployed to search for him, police spokesman Ed Cunningham said.

He was charged with robbery with a weapon and aggravated battery, according to the report.

More: Chemical leak in Fort Pierce causes temporary evacuation

The clerk of the Citgo gas station on the 4100 block of Okeechobee Road said Henderson was hanging around the gas station before the robbery. He walked in and out of the store multiple times, making small talk with the clerk, according to the report.

Henderson re-entered the store with a white T-shirt wrapped around his hand and a taser-like weapon. Police later identified the weapon as a cattle prod, according to the report.

Henderson jumped over the counter, and the two began fighting, with the clerk getting shocked, kicked and punched, Cunningham said. 

Leaving the cattle prong on the floor, Henderson took money from the drawer under the register and left, according to the report.

More: Fort Pierce man charged with hit-and-run of bicyclist

Officers found Henderson in an abandoned house in the 2300 block of South 29th Street, according to the report. 

Henderson said he robbed the gas station because he hadn’t seen his son in weeks and lost his home, his job and his car, according to the report.

Henderson was taken to the St. Lucie County Jail, where he remains with a $45,000 bail.

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There’s a reason why Fort Pierce experienced such a drastic drop in crime from 2015 to 2016. LAURIE K. BLANDFORD/TCPALM
Wochit

 

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/crime/st-lucie-county/2017/10/12/fort-pierce-man-robs-gas-station-cattle-prong-police-say/760104001/

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2 small children drown in Fort Pierce swimming pool


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Two children drown in a family pool in St. Lucie County


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FORT PIERCE, Fla. — Two small children drowned Sunday in a backyard pool in Fort Pierce.

Deputies received a 911 call at 6 p.m. reporting that a man was screaming for help. While a deputy was headed to the scene, the 911 caller updated dispatch informing them that two children had drowned.

A deputy arrived at the home and was directed to the pool in the rear of the house where he found two males performing CPR on the children.

The responding deputy asked the men how long the children had been in the water and a man, later identified as the children’s father, said, “I don’t know, I just took a nap.”

St. Lucie County Fire Rescue arrived and transported the children to a local hospital where they were pronounced dead.

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Article source: http://www.wptv.com/news/region-st-lucie-county/fort-pierce/2-small-children-drown-in-fort-pierce-swimming-pool

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Pair of murders over the weekend push Fort Pierce total to 6 this year

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The homicide was one of two shootings reported in the city Oct. 15, 2017.
ELLIOTT JONES/TCPALM

FORT PIERCE — Retired Marine Mario-Victorez Wilcox was cleaning his car Sunday night when he noticed police arriving at Madison Cay apartments.

Unknown to him, a man with gunshot wounds was found dead outside the apartment complex.

It was the second homicide during the weekend in Fort Pierce, raising the city’s homicide total to six, compared with seven last year, police records show.

“It’s disheartening,” said Wilcox, who lives at Madison Cay. ”I didn’t tell my 7-year-old daughter (of the death at their 146-unit complex in the 1600 block of North 29th Street). I didn’t want to traumatize her.”

But the 47-year-old said the death at Madison Cay will be a setback for what he has been doing for two years: working to make the complex a place where residents feel safe.  He’s given away backpacks donated by American Legion Post 171, Fort Pierce, and at Thanksgiving he will give away donated food and turkeys to residents.

Now he said, city officials should do more to prevent homicides, shootings and crimes. “This reflects badly on the city,” he said.

A 29-year-old man was stabbed  Saturday in the 2900 block of Avenue I, said police spokesman Ed Cunningham. A 37-year-old woman was charged with second-degree murder.

Details of the stabbing and the name of the woman have not been released.

At about 11:30 p.m. Sunday, a passerby found a body of a 32-year-old man on the ground outside Madison Cay apartments. He was shot in the chest.

About a half-hour later, a man was shot in the hip in the Douglas Court residential area at Avenue D and 12th Street, Cunningham said. That person is in Lawnwood Regional Medical Center Heart Institute.

  “There doesn’t appear to be a connection between the two gunfire incidents,” and so far, there are no suspects, Cunningham said.

Police are interviewing people to try get more details about the shootings. 

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-273-8477. Tipsters will remain anonymous. 

More: Fort Pierce police have ‘some leads’ in weekend homicide

Police also continue investigating a Sept. 30 homicide of a 36-year-old man shot near North 12th Street. 

At 3:06 a.m. Sept. 30, police got a call and found Alberto Vasquez dead along a canal in the 300 block of North 12th Street, Cunningham said.

The suspected assailant is a male who was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and khaki shorts, according to police.

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Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/crime/st-lucie-county/2017/10/16/fort-pierce-reports-sixth-homicide-year-after-man-dies-gunshot-wound-sunday/723975001/

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