Large Fort Pierce family loses everything in duplex fire; GoFundMe …

FORT PIERCE — Jenea Rolle was terrified Thursday to see flames creeping toward her children’s bunk beds inside their Fort Pierce duplex.

One of her young sons was still in the bunks, screaming and crying.

“I had to run in there and drag him out of the bed,” Rolle said Friday.

The mother of six children was in the living room with two of her daughters that afternoon, helping them do the hair of one of their friends, when they smelled smoke. At the time, two of her other kids were sleeping in her bedroom, and another two were sleeping in bunk beds in another room.

Rolle thought someone had burned something while cooking – until one of her daughters saw flames coming from the room with the bunk beds.

They ran to the kitchen, filled pots and buckets with water and threw it on the fire.

“But it wasn’t doing nothing,” Rolle said.

Her five kids, her daughter’s friend and her nephew got out of the house safely before she pulled her young son from his bunk bed. Rolle ran to her aunt’s nearby home to get a fire extinguisher.

“By the time we went back in, the black smoke had started filling the house,” Rolle said. “The windows and stuff were popping.”

That’s when she realized they couldn’t go back in, Rolle said. She managed to grab her purse, but that was it.

“We lost everything,” Rolle said.

She said she doesn’t know how the fire started. St. Lucie County Fire District officials continued Friday investigating the cause of the blaze that displaced the family from the home where Rolle said she’s been living with her kids for nearly three years.

For now, she’s focused on taking care of her family. Rolle needs clothes and shoes for her; her kids, who are between 11 months and 14 years old; and their grandmother.

She’s also looking for a new home. The American Red Cross provided them with money to last a few days, Rolle said, but she doesn’t know what they’re going to do next.

In the meantime, she and her family are staying with friends, but she hopes that doesn’t last long.

“I don’t like to be a burden on people,” Rolle said.

How you can help

A family friend started an online fundraiser for Jenea Rolle and her children after they were displaced from their Fort Pierce duplex following a fire. Money can be donated to the GoFundMe page at http://bit.ly/2sCtgn8, which contains the sizes for clothes and shoes for the family, as well as a drop-off locations for the donations.

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/st-lucie-county/2017/06/16/fort-pierce-family-displaced-duplex-fire/404244001/

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Supreme Court ruling gives Fort Pierce win in case over marinas’ property taxes

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Local governments can continue levying property taxes against private marinas, while at the same time exempting publicly owned ones, the Supreme Court of Florida ruled Thursday. KEONA GARDNER/TCPALM
Wochit

FORT PIERCE — Local governments can continue levying property taxes against private marinas, while at the same time exempting publicly owned ones, the Supreme Court of Florida ruled Thursday.

The decision came in a six-year-old case filed against the city of Fort Pierce and two other government entities.

In 2011, Treasure Coast Marina and Riverfront Developers, the former owners of Harbortown Marina at the west end of the North Bridge, sued the city of Fort Pierce, the St. Lucie County Property Appraiser’s Office and the Florida Department of Revenue, claiming the city-owned Fort Pierce City Marina and the Fisherman’s Wharf Marina, owned by the Fort Pierce Redevelopment Agency, should be paying property taxes because they are commercial enterprises not used exclusively for a municipal purpose.

A Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, but the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed that decision, siding with the city and Property Appraiser.  

The Court of Appeal called the issue of “great public importance” because it affects more than 200 marinas in the state. 

On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal, ruling the two marinas should be tax-exempt.

Public marinas, the state high court ruled, provide an “invaluable contribution to serving the transportation needs of coastal communities,” “ensure public access to waterfront” and “advance the recreational needs of a municipality’s citizens.”

“Municipalities across the state have struggled in recent years to protect both a view of and access to the water to the citizenry from the profit-oriented grips of developers seeking to privatize the waterfront through the construction of towering condominium and apartment buildings that block the waterfront from those who do not have the means or simply do not want to live in a condominium,” the court said.

Former City Attorney Robert Schwerer, who represented the city in the case said, “We are obviously very pleased with the court’s ruling. It eliminates any question that these marinas are entitled to the constitutional protection against the levy of ad valorem taxes, and saves the city and its FPRA an estimated $150,000 per year in revenues that would have been diverted to paying property taxes.”

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/shaping-our-future/property-values/2017/06/15/supreme-court-ruling-gives-fort-pierce-win-case-over-marinas-property-taxes/400241001/

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Fort Pierce apartment fire displaces 10 people, sends 4 to hospital

FORT PIERCE, Fla. – St. Lucie County firefighters battled a multi-unit apartment fire in Fort Pierce Wednesday night that left six adults and four children displaced.

The fire started shortly before 7 p.m. in 700 block of Southland Dr.  

All four units had significant damage.

The fire, which appears to have originated in an upstairs bedroom, was under control at 7:11 p.m., officials said. 

Two women, a man and one child were transported to a local hospital. Their condition is unknown at this time.

The Red Cross is assisting residents who lived in the apartments. 

The cause of the fire is under investigation. 

Article source: http://www.wptv.com/news/region-st-lucie-county/fort-pierce/crews-on-scene-of-multi-unit-apartment-fire-in-fort-pierce

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Duplex fire in northern Fort Pierce displaces mother, seven children

FORT PIERCE — A mother and her seven children were displaced by a Thursday afternoon fire inside their duplex in northern Fort Pierce, said St. Lucie County Fire District officials.

Firefighters went to the duplex in the 900 block of 20th Street about 2:30 p.m. Thursday and found flames coming from the building when they arrived, said Brenda Stokes, executive aide for the Fire District. They had the fire under control in 20 minutes.

Everyone was already safely outside both residences of the duplex when firefighters arrived, Stokes said. No injuries were reported.

The fire began in the residence occupied by a mother and her seven children — four girls and three boys, Stokes said. That residence was significantly damaged while the other residence in the duplex sustained smoke damage.

The American Red Cross was called in to help the family, Stokes said.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation Thursday afternoon.

It was the second fire in Fort Pierce in less than a day.

An apartment fire Wednesday evening in the 700 block of Southland Drive left four units with significant damage. Two women and a child were taken to a hospital.

The cause of that fire also remains under investigation.

 

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/st-lucie-county/2017/06/15/duplex-fire-northern-fort-pierce-displaces-mother-seven-children/400971001/

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Anthony Westbury: Build it and they will park? Fort Pierce hopes so

Ideas come and go. Sometimes, they come back again.

That’s the case with the idea of building a parking garage on the old J.C. Penney lot on Indian River Drive in downtown Fort Pierce.

More than a decade ago, the city planned to build a 309-space garage there to alleviate parking pressure downtown. 

Yet, after delays caused by the hurricanes of 2004, the project was scuttled by a variety of design and expense issues. Nevertheless, a private developer, Hans Kraaz, recently has suggested he might build something similar on the same site.

City Commissioner Tom Perona is chairman of the city’s parking committee. The resident group has been active in seeking extra parking all over the city, including another high-pressure area, Jetty Park on South Beach.

When Kraaz resurrected the J.C. Penney garage idea, Perona said his first reaction was “no way.” Yet the more he thought about it, the more sense it made, he told me last week. His fellow committee members concurred.

The idea has received pushback from Mayor Linda Hudson, who doubts the wisdom of using prime waterfront property for parking.

But allowing a multi-story garage on the J.C. Penney site could free up surface spaces elsewhere on the waterfront, such as Marina Square and land adjacent to St. Andrews School, for higher and better uses, Perona argued.

We’ve been talking about parking problems in Fort Pierce for as long as I’ve been here, almost 30 years. I dug up a sheaf of old stories dating back to 2000 that all came to the same conclusion: We need more spaces because of booming development demand.

That was true during the boom of the early 2000s, when several downtown multistory housing developments were given the green light. In the end, only the Renaissance building actually got built. But it does have its own parking garage inside the structure.

Back in 2005, delays and mounting costs for the J.C. Penney garage prompted city leaders to find a faster and cheaper solution. They wound up building a new garage on the parking lot behind City Hall.

Yet, as many of us warned at the time, that simply isn’t a very good spot for a garage. It sits west of the railroad and, when a train is parked in the way, the location has the unfortunate tendency to maroon patrons of the Sunrise Theatre on the wrong side of the tracks.

Welcome to the Sunrise City, visitors.

The garage also is a good walk away from waterfront festivals, the farmers market and Friday Fest. As a result, it sits virtually empty much of the time.

According to St. Lucie County Facilities Manager (and District 2 City Commissioner) Jeremiah Johnson, old plans to add more decks to the county garage across from the courthouse are dead in the water for cost reasons.

Having a shortage of parking downtown is, of course, not necessarily a bad problem to have. It’s a sign the city is at last attracting new retail businesses and patrons. I’ve written recently about the vitality of some of these new millennial-fueled enterprises, such as the Sailfish Brewery and the upscale Galleria of Shops, both on Second Street.

Anthony Westbury: Resurgence in downtown Fort Pierce as galleries, brewery come alive

Something similar is happening on South Beach in the Jetty Park area, which is fast becoming a popular entertainment district in its own right.

Finding a parking space there on weekends is harder than landing a trophy fish at the Jetty. The city has scrambled to add grass surface lots to keep up with demand.

Yet, as Perona said, more food and drinking places are coming in the near future. They’ll soon eat up those extra spots, too. 

Perona’s parking committee has been studying how best to fix that problem. Within three or four years, we might see a small parking garage go up across from a beach access just south of the Jetty area.

Meanwhile, the city is readying a surface lot behind a small convenience store on A1A to ease the parking pressure.

I see one big change likely in the very near future: paying to park in Fort Pierce. That’s always been a big bugaboo for merchants and politicians alike, who’ve long feared making motorists fork over hard cash to park would kill retail business. 

That’s something I think we’re going to have to get used to all over town. It’s the price of growing up as a destination. Perona noted the question of charging a daily fee has come up in negotiations with developer Kraaz on the J.C. Penney project.

Some high-tech parking aids also could be on the entrance ramp. Perona mentioned an electronic capacity sign which will warn drivers when the existing city garage is full. At the moment, drivers are left to motor fruitlessly around the upper floors only to emerge at the exit, tempers and blood pressure flaring.

And one day we might be able to consult our smartphones about where parking is available anywhere in downtown. Perona said talks are ongoing with a vendor to make that a reality.

If there’s an app for that, I’d love one on my iPhone.

At this rate, perhaps we’ll finally stop writing about parking woes in another 10 years. If you believe that, can I interest you in one of those flying cars?

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  on Twitter @TCPalmWestbury. 

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/opinion/columnists/anthony-westbury/2017/06/16/anthony-westbury-build-and-they-park-fort-pierce-hopes-so/392568001/

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World Changers get to work in Fort Pierce

World Changers get to work in Fort Pierce

World Changers participant Blake Cruvillon, 18, of Bath, South Carolina, holds a ladder Friday, June 16, 2017, as Quintin Lindsey, 15, of Wauchula paints the exterior of a home on the 1200 block of North 24th Street, Fort Pierce. More than 60 junior high and high school students from around Florida and beyond have gathered in Fort Pierce to tackle a variety of tasks, including house painting, landscaping, sorting thrift store goods and more. To see more photos, go to TCPalm.com.

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/picture-gallery/news/local/st-lucie-county/2017/06/16/world-changers-get-to-work-in-fort-pierce/102918782/

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Large Fort Pierce family loses everything in duplex fire; GoFundMe set up

FORT PIERCE — Jenea Rolle was terrified Thursday to see flames creeping toward her children’s bunk beds inside their Fort Pierce duplex.

One of her young sons was still in the bunks, screaming and crying.

“I had to run in there and drag him out of the bed,” Rolle said Friday.

The mother of six children was in the living room with two of her daughters that afternoon, helping them do the hair of one of their friends, when they smelled smoke. At the time, two of her other kids were sleeping in her bedroom, and another two were sleeping in bunk beds in another room.

Rolle thought someone had burned something while cooking – until one of her daughters saw flames coming from the room with the bunk beds.

They ran to the kitchen, filled pots and buckets with water and threw it on the fire.

“But it wasn’t doing nothing,” Rolle said.

Her five kids, her daughter’s friend and her nephew got out of the house safely before she pulled her young son from his bunk bed. Rolle ran to her aunt’s nearby home to get a fire extinguisher.

“By the time we went back in, the black smoke had started filling the house,” Rolle said. “The windows and stuff were popping.”

That’s when she realized they couldn’t go back in, Rolle said. She managed to grab her purse, but that was it.

“We lost everything,” Rolle said.

She said she doesn’t know how the fire started. St. Lucie County Fire District officials continued Friday investigating the cause of the blaze that displaced the family from the home where Rolle said she’s been living with her kids for nearly three years.

For now, she’s focused on taking care of her family. Rolle needs clothes and shoes for her; her kids, who are between 11 months and 14 years old; and their grandmother.

She’s also looking for a new home. The American Red Cross provided them with money to last a few days, Rolle said, but she doesn’t know what they’re going to do next.

In the meantime, she and her family are staying with friends, but she hopes that doesn’t last long.

“I don’t like to be a burden on people,” Rolle said.

How you can help

A family friend started an online fundraiser for Jenea Rolle and her children after they were displaced from their Fort Pierce duplex following a fire. Money can be donated to the GoFundMe page at http://bit.ly/2sCtgn8, which contains the sizes for clothes and shoes for the family, as well as a drop-off locations for the donations.

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/st-lucie-county/2017/06/16/fort-pierce-family-displaced-duplex-fire/404244001/

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Fort Pierce’s Indian River Estates under boil-water notice

FORT PIERCE – Water customers in Indian River Estates are under a boil-water notice after a loss of water pressure Thursday, according to a news release.

The notice was issued as a precaution after a loss of water pressure from the bulk water provider, according to a news release from the St. Lucie County Utilities Department.

The notice is in effect until further notice.

Residents will be notified once testing has been completed and the notice is lifted.

Any water used for drinking or cooking should be boiled. A rolling boil of one minute is sufficient. Bottled water may be used as an alternative.

Customers may call 772-462-1150 with any questions.

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/st-lucie-county/2017/06/15/fort-pierces-indian-river-estates-under-boil-water-notice/402132001/

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Supreme Court ruling gives Fort Pierce win in case over marinas …

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Local governments can continue levying property taxes against private marinas, while at the same time exempting publicly owned ones, the Supreme Court of Florida ruled Thursday. KEONA GARDNER/TCPALM
Wochit

FORT PIERCE — Local governments can continue levying property taxes against private marinas, while at the same time exempting publicly owned ones, the Supreme Court of Florida ruled Thursday.

The decision came in a six-year-old case filed against the city of Fort Pierce and two other government entities.

In 2011, Treasure Coast Marina and Riverfront Developers, the former owners of Harbortown Marina at the west end of the North Bridge, sued the city of Fort Pierce, the St. Lucie County Property Appraiser’s Office and the Florida Department of Revenue, claiming the city-owned Fort Pierce City Marina and the Fisherman’s Wharf Marina, owned by the Fort Pierce Redevelopment Agency, should be paying property taxes because they are commercial enterprises not used exclusively for a municipal purpose.

A Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, but the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed that decision, siding with the city and Property Appraiser.  

The Court of Appeal called the issue of “great public importance” because it affects more than 200 marinas in the state. 

On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal, ruling the two marinas should be tax-exempt.

Public marinas, the state high court ruled, provide an “invaluable contribution to serving the transportation needs of coastal communities,” “ensure public access to waterfront” and “advance the recreational needs of a municipality’s citizens.”

“Municipalities across the state have struggled in recent years to protect both a view of and access to the water to the citizenry from the profit-oriented grips of developers seeking to privatize the waterfront through the construction of towering condominium and apartment buildings that block the waterfront from those who do not have the means or simply do not want to live in a condominium,” the court said.

Former City Attorney Robert Schwerer, who represented the city in the case said, “We are obviously very pleased with the court’s ruling. It eliminates any question that these marinas are entitled to the constitutional protection against the levy of ad valorem taxes, and saves the city and its FPRA an estimated $150,000 per year in revenues that would have been diverted to paying property taxes.”

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/shaping-our-future/property-values/2017/06/15/supreme-court-ruling-gives-fort-pierce-win-case-over-marinas-property-taxes/400241001/

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Celebration Pointe housing development wants to be annexed into Fort Pierce

FORT PIERCE —  About 755 homes could be coming to Fort Pierce. 

The developers of Celebration Pointe, a 147-acre development on the east side of Jenkins Road north of Okeechobee Road, have applied to be annexed into Fort Pierce.

The project, initially approved in 2005 by St. Lucie County, is a mix of 318 single-family homes, 145 townhomes and 292 villa lots, according to city planning records.

Bill Barbaro, of Carnahan, Proctor, and Cross of Deerfield Beach, who represents developer Antonio Huerta, of Longwood, declined to comment.

Several model homes were built on the property before 2008, but those have been demolished, said city Senior Planner Kori Benton.

City Planning Director Rebecca Grohall said the developer wants to keep plans to build 755 homes, but might reconsider the housing design or style.

“I think they may be looking to retool some of these designs,” Grohall  said. “Perhaps they will do smaller houses on smaller lots. I think they are looking at what today’s (housing) market demands instead of what people wanted 10 or 12 years ago.”

When completed, Celebration Pointe could become the city’s largest single-family-home subdivision. It is competing with neighbor Bent Creek, a subdivision of 692 homes just east of Peterson Road.

The owner has until June 28 to answer questions from city staff if it wants to be placed on the city Planning Board meetings in July, Benton said. 

Celebration Pointe is not expected to negatively impact traffic on Jenkins and Hartman roads and Orange Avenue. Before construction halted in 2008, the former owner built a section on Peterson Road to connect Jenkins and Hartman roads and installed turn lanes from Jenkins Road into the development, Benton said.

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/shaping-our-future/growth/2017/06/15/celebration-pointe-housing-development-wants-annexed-into-fort-pierce/398110001/

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