Saturday, August 4, 2018

“A Little Town Called Lake Worth”, by Carleton Varney.

For distribution by internationally-recognized publication featuring architecture, arts, and interior design, Summer Issue, 2017.

Click on image to enlarge:

Lake Worth is not a town generally frequented for the Saks Fifth Avenue or the Tiffany set. . .

By Carleton Varney

“South of Palm Beach and north of Boynton Beach, tourists to South Florida will find the sleepy little town of Lake Worth where the streets are lined with small cottages painted bright and happy Floridian colors – melon, pineapple, aqua blue and pink. Where terraces and patios have canvas awnings and where gardens are protected by white painted fences, trellis borders and pickets.”

and. . .

     “Recently the book Cottages of Lake Worth was published and authored by Dean Sherwin, Janice Snearer and Taylor Jones, and I have found the book inspirational in style, as well as in design, with decorating ideas that are modestly costly. Lake Worth may in some respects be a village for the now and new younger set, as you’ll see some of the tattoo generation about Lake and Lucerne avenues where restaurants and small shops flourish.
     Lake Worth is not a town generally frequented for the Saks Fifth Avenue or the Tiffany set, but for sure that set drops into the village on occasion to see what is what in the vintage clothing shops that are part of the town ambiance.”

The first printing of the Cottages book was in 2016 with a second printing of hardcover books in 2017. Click on this link for the new Cottages website.

Where can you go and look through the book?

Two convenient places to go and see the book are at the City’s newsstand located at 600 Lake Ave. in Downtown Lake Worth and at The Book Cellar bookstore just up the street (at 801 Lake Ave.).

Friday, August 3, 2018

August 7th, 2018 will be a very significant day in this City of Lake Worth.

At City Hall next week, a regular meeting of the City Commission, from the draft agenda under “New Business”,

Agenda Item 12C: CPZ Beach
Complex presentation.

The process to finally fix all the deficiencies, bad planning decisions back in 2008–2010, and all the defects that later came to light at the former ‘renovated’ Casino Complex — which was actually 94% demolished — was a process that first began in the Spring last year and then became official in October 2017:

“RFQ 17-305 for Lake Worth Beach Complex Conceptual Plans Design, Cost Estimates & Construction Design and Construction Phase.”

Out of the vetting process came two presentations to the City Commission. One by CPZ Architects, Inc. from Plantation, FL and the other by Kimley-Horn from Delray Beach. Without getting into why, most everyone breathed a sigh of relief when CPZ Architects was chosen.

Then in January of this year:

A motion was made by Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell and seconded by Commissioner Omari Hardy to approve the Consent Agenda. The vote was unanimous. Here is “Item Q” on consent: Professional Services Agreement with CPZ Architects, Inc. for Task Order #1.

The next big step came in April with the all-day community charrette held at The HATCH. To learn more about that meeting click on this link.

Why will August 7th be so significant? Because, hopefully, this will be the break from the past we have all been waiting for so long.

Check back later on for more about this very important process. In the meantime click on this link to learn more about, “What’s going on at the Beach and Casino Complex?” which includes an interesting timeline explaining how we got to this point.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Excerpt #4: Post reporter Scott McCabe about Lake Worth High School: “Project Lake Worth”, the Unity Wall, and our 4th annual Street Painting Festival.

Below is the final excerpt.

To read Excerpt #1 in its entirety use this link:

“For what had begun six years earlier [1989] as a search for a way to save the high school had flowered into a movement to save the city itself — Project Lake Worth.”

Excerpt #2:

“Despite the rumors of Project Lake Worth’s imminent demise, Joe Egly, its former president, vows to keep it alive — no matter what it takes.”

Excerpt #3:

“Project Lake Worth brought people together who would otherwise have never met and made things happen,” Kathy La Croix said.*

A pull quote about Project Lake Worth
in Excerpt #4 below:

But as the city has come back to life, Project Lake Worth has struggled. . . . Meetings once were packed with
125 members; now there’s
about 23, Dale said.†

Read more about Project Lake Worth from Post
staff writer Scott McCabe, datelined:

Sunday, February 14th, 1999.

Click on newspaper clipping from 18 years ago:

 From the timeline. 1997: “Project Lake Worth board members assume same roles for Lake Worth Community Development Corp.” 1999: “Housing stock: still about 50 percent rental.

Excerpt #4:

     A 1,000-foot wall in the Osborne community, raised to separate blacks and whites, was transformed into a symbol of unity when [Exec. Dir. Kathy] La Croix introduced an artist to residents who wanted to erase a symbol of bigotry.
     The artist covered the graffiti with a mural designed by students to depict their vision of unity.
     The downtown, meanwhile, started to come to life. Now, with only one vacancy, it bustles. Organizers of the fourth annual Street Painting Festival, held under the umbrella of Project Lake Worth, say their biggest concern is that they’ve grown too big.
     The festival has grown from 10,000 visitors five years ago into the city’s signature event, with about 100,000 expected next weekend.
     A new $10.2 million Southgrade [public elementary school] opened in October. Northgrade has begun reconstruction. Last month, a new $11.6 million Highland Elementary opened, ending its reign as the county’s most crowded school.
     At the high school, enrollment is up to 2,800. [Principal David] Cantley’s turning away students. There are 3,000 applicants vying for 150 magnet school slots.
     But as the city has come back to life, Project Lake Worth has struggled.
     Meetings once were packed with 125 members; now there’s about 23, Dale said. When there were committees, there is only a chairman.
     “There were disagreements and controversy and people went their separate ways,” Egly said. “Things couldn’t get done.”
     He can’t point at one single cause for the decline.
     When the meetings moved from mornings to nights to accommodate the public, some founders, like Gleason and Cantley, dropped out. Their evenings already were full.
     Project Lake Worth’s mission became so broad it no longer qualified for the narrowly defined public and private grants available.
     Subgroups tackling specific problems spun off on their own. Romano’s and Crocilla’s§ [city-wide] clean-ups, for instance, evolved into the Trojan House, a program that gives students academic credit for renovating city-donated homes.
     The Business Council broke away to become the Downtown Homeowners Association.
     The Street Painting Festival organizers were upset last month when Project Lake Worth board members wrote to say they would take out $2,500 from the festival’s account to pay Project Lake Worth’s insurance and administrative costs.
     “There was a lot of bad feeling,” said event founder Erin Ehman, who agreed to pay about $1,800 to cover the insurance.
     Next year, Ehman said, the Street Painting Festival will apply for its own tax-exempt status or use the city’s. 
     Despite the setbacks, Egly has a plan.
     Board members have taken over the faltering quasi-governmental Lake Worth Community Development Corp., which can more easily obtain grants because it focuses on housing.
     That also gets La Croix involved again. The former executive director of Project Lake Worth, who declined to be photographed, is now one of the CDC’s four paid employees. The two groups share office space.
     Project Lake Worth retains its nonprofit status, making it a sponsor for others seeking tax-exempt donations. Police have asked for help with a burglary study grant, Egly said.
     “Retreating?” Cappella said. “We’re attacking in a different way.”

The end.

So. What happened to Project Lake Worth?

Will try and delve into that more later on. But two things are for certain: Project Lake Worth was a spectacular success after it formed in 1989. It withered away in 1999.

Most everyone agrees in 2018 we need more community and public involvement in our public schools to get attendance up, help struggling and at-risk communities, and raise scores across the board. The political leadership needs to come from City Hall. About two years ago there was a Lake Worth Education Council; however, there’s been little activity in many months.

But there are other groups and efforts presently that boldly carry on like the Neighborhood Assoc. Presidents’ Council and the Little Free Libraries all over the City. PBSO, which took over for the LWPD in 2008, has their anti-gang and school initiatives as well.

There are groups outside the City supporting Lake Worth High School (e.g., in Atlantis and elsewhere out west) composed of former Lake Worth residents — many of whom are Lake Worth High School alumni — who moved out of the City in the 1980s and 1990s. Everyone appreciates all their hard work, but having some take up residence here in the City once again would send a powerful message.

If you didn’t know, two former Lake Worth mayors live within the walls surrounding the City of Atlantis.

There remains much hard work to be done in our public schools, all the public schools, not just Lake Worth High School but in the elementary schools too. Maybe it’s time for Project Lake Worth II? But this time make it more sustainable, professionally run and organized, more consistent and more exciting too so it doesn’t fall apart in just 11 short years.

Ideas anyone?

*Kathy La Croix was executive director of Project Lake Worth in 1998; hired in 1993 for project.
David Dale, former president of Project Lake Worth.
Parent Jody Gleason was a member of Project Lake Worth; later became a member of the PBC School Board.
§“Romano” is former Lake Worth Mayor Rodney Romano; “Crocilla” is Gerry Crocilla, a former teacher at the high school.
PBSO took over for the LWPD in 2008.
Joe Cappella, Realtor and founding member of Project Lake Worth.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Video: Last night’s Special Meeting about the Lake Worth Electric Utility.

In attendance last night were many members of the public. Will leave this blog post at the top of the blog all day which includes the City’s entire 2 hour fifty-two minute YouTube video (see below). City Manager Michael Bornstein, after the meeting is officially started by Mayor Pam Triolo, has some remarks that lay the groundwork for this Special Meeting.

Our City Commission, if you were not aware, also sits as the Board of Directors of the Lake Worth Electric Utility. Watch the video in segments throughout the day and take note where you stopped watching so you can pick up where you left off, just in case the video reverts to the start.

Going forward, the City Commission will hold a monthly meeting just about the City’s Electric Utility.

At the 11:20 mark Electric Utility Dir. Ed Liberty is introduced:

A message from Mr. Greg Rice:

“To those of us that are wanting to see our Downtown Lake Worth prosper we need to go out of our way to support our restaurants and shops a little more in the summertime. Especially new ones that open after The Season is over.
     Lori and I have been really looking forward to one of our favorite restaurants in PBC opening a new location at 806 Lake Ave. (the former Little Munich). Victoria’s Peruvian Restaurant has been quietly open and they recently rolled out their full menu and we were there to give them our support and give our taste buds a real treat.
     The menu has something for everybody: Seafood, meat, chicken, Peruvian style pasta and sushi. What a great addition to our beloved Downtown and the amazing variety culinary treasures we have right here in our City.
     Thank you Victoria’s and all our Lake Worth restaurants for believing this City is a great place to be. Bon Appetit!”

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane. . .

The excerpts below are from an article written by Palm Beach Post staff writer Josh Hafenbrack.

“After [Hurricane] Frances struck Sept. 5 [2004], it took Lake Worth Utilities two weeks to fully restore power to its customers, about the
same amount of time it took FPL to restore
power to 2.8 million.”

Back in 2004, “Crews applied only Band-Aid fixes to sagging lines, mangled poles and a disrupted power grid.”

Newspaper clipping from October 2004:

2004: “The system is still unstable,” he [former city manager Paul Boyer] said. “That’s on top of the fact that it’s old and worn out and has a tendency to have failures anyway.

“There’s no doubt they have a maintenance issue. Linesmen from other utilities said, ‘this would not happen in our hometown.’ They haven’t maintained it. That’s a fact in Lake Worth.”
ibid. Quote by Dr. Robert Tome.

A lot has changed since 2004. Take for example how well organized the LWEU and the City were during and after Hurricane Irma especially as it related to getting the out-of-state linemen in place and ready to get to work. Here is a quote from City Manager Michael Bornstein:

[T]hese guys came in at 6:00 in the morning, they were fueled up, hit the street. We fed them there at the yard. We fed them in the field while they were working. Then they came home, we fed them and they went to bed. They got back up.
     That’s the life they’re living right now as mutual-aid [out-of-town] employees coming in. The more they work the more money they make, obviously. That’s something they’re focused on. They care about what they do. I think you met some of the folks, they’re really genuine people.

Starting with the “turning on of the lights” in 1914 our utility was a thing to admire throughout the State of Florida and the country. Having our own stable and reliable electric utility was one reason why people moved here. But then late in the 1990s and early 2000s things began to turn noticeably worse.

First there were the outages every few weeks. Then the daily flickering. Then the inexplicable outages in the afternoon on a clear sunny day. There were the reports of appliances “getting fried”, TV’s and refrigerators primarily. The explanations from the utility were “falling palm fronds” and “small dead animals”.

Remember, this was BEFORE the terrible hurricanes in 2004 and 2005: Frances, Jeanne, Wilma.

Following those storms all the fanciful notions about our electric utility were laid bare. An excerpt from this blog (click on link below):

“Nothing like this happened during Hurricane Matthew [in 2016]. Granted, we were spared the brunt of that Category 4 storm spinning off of our shores, and very few (at most 200) went without power for a short period of time. As I wrote this on October 9th, two days after the storm, the Town of Palm Beach reported that 103 properties are still without power on the island. If I’m not mistaken Lake Worth had everybody back on line by then. FPL, at the peak of the storm, had 60,000+ without power in PBC. . . .

. . . That number is nearly double the entire population of Lake Worth.”

But going forward there is no lack of political will to get all this stuff fixed.

I hope this blog post helps to put things in perspective. And, as always, Thank You for visiting today.

Where do you get your news about Lake Okeechobee and managing water levels in South Florida?

Have you tried going straight to the sources? Bypassing the news media and the press?

Get your news from the experts. The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and the Jacksonville District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). First, below is news from the USACE and later more news from SFWMD.

USACE to reduce flows from Lake Okeechobee

Starting Friday [today], the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will reduce flows from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries.

The new target flow for the St. Lucie Estuary will be reduced to a seven-day average of 1,170 cfs as measured at St. Lucie Lock & Dam (S-80) near Stuart. The target flow for the Caloosahatchee Estuary will remain at 3,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), but will be measured at W.P. Franklin Lock & Dam (S-79) located near Fort Myers. This change in measuring location has the effect of reducing flows because basin runoff in the Caloosahatchee will now be incorporated in the discharge calculation.

“The water level in the lake has dropped slightly over the past two weeks,” said Maj. Joseph Sahl, Jacksonville District deputy commander. “The guidance under LORS (Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule) calls for reduced flows under current conditions.”

Today [7/26], the lake stage is 14.31 feet. Since discharges began on June 1, the Corps has released 396,000 acre-feet of water, equivalent to approximately 0.89 feet in the lake stage.

“The releases we’ve conducted have produced close to a foot in storage in Lake Okeechobee that wouldn’t have existed without the discharges,” said Sahl. “This additional storage could prove vital in the coming months should tropical weather influence the area.”

The Corps will continue releasing water to the St. Lucie Estuary from the lake in a “pulse” fashion, which means flows will vary during the seven-day release period. Additional runoff from rain in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie basins could also occasionally result in flows that exceed targets. The decision will take effect on Friday and remain in effect until further notice.

For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management website.

News from SFWMD, the latest video posted on their official YouTube Channel.

Akin Owosina, SFWMD’s Chief of the Hydrology and Hydraulics Bureau, provides an update on operations to move water across South Florida:

Thank You for visiting today and hope you found this information helpful.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Visioning about our local public schools and “Project Lake Worth II”.

Highland Elementary School was a topic of discussion at last week’s “Visioning Worth Session” at Lake Worth City Hall (see video below). To learn more about this all-day work session click on this link.

Briefly, the original Project Lake Worth began in 1990,

The 63-year-old Southgrade Elementary was turned into an alternative school for kids with behavior problems. Its twin, Northgrade, was on the verge of closing. Highland Elementary School was dubbed “Portable City.”

But after ten years the president of Project Lake Worth said, “We need fresh blood.” Project Lake Worth was a huge success but later it lost steam and momentum and the effort that created so much progress and change fell apart. Click on this link to learn more. Now fast-forward eighteen years later to the present. . .

To help our students and teachers in local schools.
Is it time for Project Lake Worth II?

Watch and listen very closely to the first minute of the video below. Last Tuesday afternoon visited the “Visioning Work Session” at City Hall facilitated by consultant Kevin Knutson. This work session came on the heels of the news reported in The Lake Worth Herald, “Overcapacity Schools Cause for Alarm”.

At one point in the video below Lake Worth Commissioner Omari Hardy says about students at Highland Elementary,

“If they could just get their science [27% proficiency] to catch up to where their reading is in the third, fourth and fifth grade Highland would be a ‘B’ school today. That’s what their principal is focusing on.”

Consider this: The City of Lake Worth has a number of volunteer advisory boards, e.g., a C-51 Canal Advisory Board, an Electric Utility Advisory Board, a Library Board, a Recreation Advisory Board, and even a Tree Board too.

But guess what this City doesn’t have? A board tasked with coordinating and working with our one charter school, the four public elementary schools, Lake Worth Middle, Lake Worth High School and the private school at Sacred Heart Catholic. And how many other private and faith-based schools are there in this City? Does anyone even know?

If this City had something like an Education and Schools Advisory Board maybe that could be the impetus for Project Lake Worth II. The original Project Lake Worth caught the attention of a lot of public officials twenty-eight years ago. Our public schools are directly linked to poverty and economic development and exactly what visioning is all about.

And FYI: Department heads and administrators in this City need to pay close attention to the second minute of this video.

This video is only three minutes. The entire
Visioning Session was six hours long:

Monday, July 30, 2018

School teacher in our City and music students need your help: Ms. Tiffany Cox and the sax section at Lake Worth High.


Find out what happened below.

First, the blog post from earlier today. . .

Some very sobering information: more than ¾ of Ms. Cox’s students are from low-income households.

She is still short of her funding goal. The sax section needs reeds, straps, harnesses, ligatures, and pretty much all those items music students need to learn how to play the saxophone. To learn more and maybe help out and contribute there is a link below.

“Ms. Tiffany Cox is the band director at Lake Worth High School . . . She has been passionately devoted to rebuilding the band program at Lake Worth High and returning it to its former glory.”

Lake Worth Herald, July 12th, 2018: Nomination of Ms. Cox for national 2019 Grammy Music Educator Award for “commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.”

About her funding project, Ms. Cox wrote:

My students need reeds, ligatures and neck straps to prepare our saxophone section for the school year.
     At our high school, we are fortunate to have an incredibly diverse student body. Our band students are incredibly driven young people who are working to become leaders and valuable members of our community through music.
     We are working together to create a culture that values music education, and all that music can teach us.
     We take our natural skills and talents and put them to work in our band program. We learn from each other and we teach others to love music.


Ms. Cox’s project has been fully funded! She said, “Thank you so much for completing our project! We are so lucky to have your support!”

To see the funding page and the list of “Where Your Donation Goes” click on this link. Thank You to all the generous contributors.

For those of you who missed the news in the Herald about Lake Worth High School two weeks ago. . .

Events, community news, school news,
club meetings and so much more:

Click on this link to see the latest front page news. Herald is still just 50! To contact the editor call 561-585-9387 or by email:

Three excerpts from the feature news story about Lake Worth High School:

Across the United States, 2800 music educators were nominated for the 2019 Grammy Music Educator Award. Presented by the Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Museum, the Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (kindergarten through college, public and private schools) who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.
     Out of the 2800 nominees, 188 have been chosen as quarterfinalists. Five of the 188 are from Palm Beach County and two are right here in Lake Worth! Even more amazing is they are both from the same school! Mr. John Weatherspoon and Ms. Tiffany Cox are the chorus and band directors at Lake Worth Community High School.
     Mr. Weatherspoon, the chorus director, just completed his 26th year at Lake Worth High School. He was hired in 1992 by Mr. Dave Cantley, principal. Weatherspoon has created a legacy of excellence in choral music education at Lake Worth High. This year, his chorus received a superior rating at their music performance assessment and even brought home a first place trophy from the southern star music festival in Atlanta, Georgia.

and. . .

     Ms. Tiffany Cox is the band director at Lake Worth High School and just completed her seventh year of teaching though this is her first at Lake Worth High. She has been passionately devoted to rebuilding the band program at Lake Worth High and returning it to its former glory. Her hard work has not gone unnoticed by our community and apparently by the Grammy Music Education Foundation as well.

and. . .

     Both Cox and Weatherspoon have submitted their applications to become semifinalists. Out of the 188 quarterfinalists, 25 will be selected in September. After the semifinalist round, 10 finalists will be selected and one educator will receive the Grammy Music Educator Award. 
     Best of luck to Ms. Cox and Mr. Weatherspoon! Lake Worth is rooting for you!

Tomorrow, 6:00, at Lake Worth City Hall: Special meeting of City Commission.

The big news in this City of Lake Worth. What everyone wants to know:

“What’s going on at the
Lake Worth Electric Utility!”

Well, guess what? There is a meeting coming up tomorrow evening and it’s all about one topic and one topic only: The Lake Worth Electric Utility (LWEU). See the agenda below.

On Wednesday is the monthly meeting of the Lake Worth Electric Utility Advisory Board in the City Hall conference room at 6:00.

By the way, the Dir. of LWEU, Mr. Ed Liberty, was hired in July 2017. Two months after being hired he got a visit from Hurricane Irma. Many of you will recall how valiantly the City and LWEU performed prior to, during, and after that storm. Liberty is as reported in The Lake Worth Herald:

“An energy industry executive with experience in natural gas and electric T&D [Transmission and Distribution] operations, electric generation, renewable energy project development, energy and sustainability services and asset development.”

Then this year came the significant power outages in April and June. And remember the breaking news about the “Zombie Alert” from Palm Beach Post staff writer McKenna Ross last May?

Ross was the one who broke the original story in the Post. At the end of this blog post is a link to more information about all this for those of you who may have slept through it all, maybe dreaming of zombies taking to the streets.


Not the best of news for young women in the news industry. Ross’ breaking news report last May went viral on every continent on Planet Earth. But did any news organization credit Ross? No.

Without further ado, here is the agenda for next
Tuesday at the City Commission:

City of Lake Worth
Special Commission Meeting
City Hall Chamber
Tuesday, July 31st at 6:00

Roll Call.

Pledge of Allegiance led by Commissioner Scott Maxwell.

Agenda: Additions/deletions/reordering.

Presentations (there is no public comment on Presentation items).

New Business:

  • Resolution No. 46-2018 — establishing an Electric Utility City Commission Meeting.
  • Electric Utility Budget FY2018/FY2019 and Five Year Capital Improvement Projects.
  • Purchase Power Contracts.
  • Transmission Tie Line Outage.
  • Second 138kV Canal Road Substation Tie line.
  • Distribution Reliability Indices.
  • System Hardening Reliability Improvement Project.
  • Task Order No.1 with TEAMWORKnet for professional engineering services for the Main Substation Protection and Control Upgrade 25% Design.
  • Approval of current fiscal year purchases exceeding $25,000 to Siemens Industry, Inc.


To look over the entire agenda for yourself click on this link and scroll down for City Commission “July 31 Special Meeting” to download the agenda and backup material.

Cannot attend this meeting next week? This public meeting will be available on YouTube early the following morning for everyone in the public that is interested in learning more about this very important topic.

As promised, for more about that “ZOMBIE ALERT” click on this link to learn more about what happened back in April–June.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Last week’s Visioning Session at the Lake Worth City Commission.

Now that all the critics — the usual suspects and all the naysayers and malcontents have had their say — let’s take a look back at what happened last week.

This all-day Visioning Work Session will be the gift that keeps on giving. Content for many weeks and months of future blog posts.

Yes, there were some at this meeting who grumbled about this or that but that’s to be expected from those who spend most of their week trying to put out fires and dealing with complaints all day. But with fewer and fewer fires to fight it’s time to look forward. And that’s what City Manager Michael Bornstein decided to do. That was the purpose for “Visioning”. It was sad to see some cynical gestures and some ‘making of faces’ now and then from officials in the highest levels of this City administration. No doubt happy to be on the platform but not quite ready to board the train.

At any point whilst reading this blog post you can begin to watch the City’s YouTube video of this meeting, more information about the facilitating consultant, and some brief notes scroll back up and click on this link.

This Special Work Session was from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 on Tuesday, July 24th, attended by the City Commission, administration and department heads in a “retreat” format. The purpose was to allow the mayor, commission and staff time to focus and look at where Lake Worth will be in the future.

A big part of that future is messaging, branding and outreach which will draw some chuckles from blog readers. The City still hasn’t created an official Facebook page. Just keeps on dithering. Meanwhile, the nearby municipality of Greenacres has been using Twitter in combination with Facebook quite effectively for almost two years. Click on this link for a view of the Visioning Session on Twitter in Lake Worth City Hall.

You see, an official photo on the City’s Twitter feed is OK. But the City doesn’t have an official Facebook feed. November 11th will be another Veterans Day Parade in this City and then will come the annual hand-wringing and solemn faces at the City Commission why attendance is so low. Again. Just like the miserably low attendance at the Memorial Day event this year. Again. And the dithering about Facebook continues. . .

“So why now for this ‘visioning’ thing?”

The answer is simple. It was time.

Instead of dealing with the mundane daily business of running a City, it was an opportunity to look at the “Big Picture”. The meeting was held in the Commission chambers. The first two rows of seats where removed allowing a large table to be placed in front of the dais. The public could come and go all day long during the meeting. I showed up between 3:00 and 4:00. Curiously asked around if any news media or anyone from The Palm Beach Post showed up and nobody recalled seeing any reporters.

While I was there you could see that the Commission had been very busy earlier in the day with the help of facilitator and consultant Kevin Knutson. There were large sheets of paper posted on the walls showing thoughts expressed during the day about the general direction and condition of the City. I was able to capture most of them. Look them over. Some will be surprising and others not as much.

Click on all images to enlarge:

One of the recurring themes was how the City presents itself to the world. There was also a lot of discussion on the importance of redevelopment and getting a larger share of tourism dollars through additional hotel rooms. The City’s demographics, ways in which to improve incomes and the importance of our education infrastructure were all identified as important areas of future focus.

How the product of this meeting will manifest itself and become integrated into actual policies and procedures is yet to be seen. It is my understanding that Mr. Knutson and his colleagues will distill areas where the mayor, commissioners, administration and staff share a common vision. This should emerge as some sort of report in the coming weeks or months in the form of a written report or a public presentation to the Commission.

This is the first “Visioning Session” I remember this City holding in a quite a long while. They were much more common 10–15 years ago. For a while they were held on an annual basis. 

Here some more sheets posted
on the wall from the session:

Please check back every few days for more about this Visioning Work Session. And it might be good for some public officials to pay close attention as well when they begin to go “off the rails”. And this will also be good information for those seeking election and re-election on March 12th, 2019. The “Visioning” train is heading forward. Not backward.

When the next blog post is up will place a note at the top of the right-hand column.

And, as always, Thank You for visiting today.

“No good way to prevent suicide by train, experts concede”, front page headline on Sunday in The Palm Beach Post.

And buried in the paper on page A15 were the steps to help people considering suicide. Later in this blog post is more information, what every editor and reporter needs to know:

According to numerous research studies, prominent media stories about suicide are associated with a significant increase in suicide attempts within the media outlet’s coverage area.

Please Note: All news reports about suicide must prominently display what is called “The Lifeline”.

Reading the article in the Post, front page news on Sunday, July 29th, don’t recall any reference to a thing called “suicide contagion” and the important role the press and media plays in reporting about suicide. Suicide is not you’re typical news reporting. It’s treated much different, or should be. For example, a blaring news report on a Sunday can have very real consequences for families and friends on Monday–Saturday.

Aside from the 1st Amendment, as you’ll read about below, a “careful and deliberate moral reasoning needs to take place” when reporting about the topic of suicide. It’s certainly worth questioning the editorial decision to make suicide the front page blaring news on a Sunday. Officials and professionals concerned with public safety and rail safety may consider it reckless.

Here is an excerpt from the Post, the second paragraph:

“Experts say there’s no easy fix – and they caution that the very act of debating and trying to prevent the practice might bring the unintended effect of increasing the number of people using trains to deliberately end their lives.” [emphasis added]

Once again, reporting news about suicide is much different than any other reporting. Note that buried on page A15 was this information called “The Lifeline”:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 800-273-8255.

Please continue reading for more very important information.

If you believe someone is attempting suicide
DO NOT DELAY! Call 911 immediately.

About the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

“We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.”

The excerpt below is from “Media Guidelines
For Suicide Reporting

Are you a reporter who is working on a story related to suicide? If so, you may want to be aware of a phenomenon called “media-related suicide contagion.” [emphasis added]
     According to numerous research studies, prominent media stories about suicide are associated with a significant increase in suicide attempts within the media outlet’s coverage area. Adolescents and young adults seem to be especially susceptible to suicide contagion.

Another resource for anyone considering suicide or if you think someone is considering suicide is the Florida Suicide Prevention Coalition. They are “A coalition of Floridians for the elimination of suicide in our communities.”

Understand that the First Amendment and news reporting takes on an entirely different perspective when it comes to suicide. It’s long been recognized that news about suicide needs to be handled delicately and with compassion and it’s always a ‘best practice’ to include a lifeline in a news or media report! Someone out there may be watching or reading the news and considering suicide at that moment. A ‘lifeline’ in your news report may be the thing that saves their life.

Those ‘best practices for professionals’ include reporters and journalists in the press and news media:

“SPJ’s [Society of Professional Journalists] Code of Ethics tells journalists that they have an obligation to report the truth. They also have an obligation in minimizing the harm that’s done in the pursuit of that truth.
     When it comes to suicides, a careful and deliberate moral reasoning needs to take place aside from the First Amendment right to report. Families don’t care about your rights when they are grieving.
     That’s why compassionate and responsible journalism is necessary and why cautious deliberation is needed.”

—Quote. Kevin Z. Smith, Deputy Director, The Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism.

I hope this information is helpful for everyone in the press and news media.

Uncontrolled hysteria about a controlled burn. . .

From the file labeled ‘H’ for hysterical. . .

In May 2014 the City of Lake Worth and the Lake Worth CRA posted press releases on the City’s website about a controlled burn (see video below) of an uninhabited, dilapidated former home in Lake Worth. As Palm Beach Post reporter Andrew Marra pointed out in late 2013 the situation was very dire in this City:
Dangerously dilapidated properties were left untouched, while code enforcement officials continued tacking on fines they knew would never be collected.

Following that news from the City in May 2014 there were several controlled burns of abandoned homes too dangerous to be left standing. For many neighborhoods these structures were creating issues with public safety, e.g., a chronic nuisance attracting drug users, vagrants, and prostitution.

Then later that year, in November 2014, I posted a notice announcing another upcoming controlled burn.

And that’s when the uncontrolled hysteria
about a controlled burn began. . .

A former City resident, Suzanne Squire, discovered the news and upon learning of that controlled burn had several options. She could have called the CRA. She could have gotten more information from the City. She could have called the Palm Beach Fire Rescue Academy. She could have done any one of a number of things to learn the facts.

But instead, this is what was posted on Facebook in Nov. 2014: Warning City residents to “EVACUATE”.

Cue the hysteria. Here is Ms. Squire’s post on Facebook:
FYI: These structure were prepared for a controlled burn ahead of time. Hazardous materials were removed prior to the controlled burn.

Here are the comments that followed the uncontrolled hysterical rant about controlled burns.

Click on image to enlarge:
As you can see, some City residents attempted to educate and calm Ms. Squire, but to no avail. Sincerely valiant attempts they were.

Now enters another former resident of this City, a professional photographer and drone pilot Jim Stafford to the rescue. Jim Stafford filmed this controlled burn on May 31st, 2014:

This is a screen grab from Stafford’s video that describes the procedure:

Due to training such as this, a life Palm Beach Fire Rescue firefighters save some day may be your own or someone in your family or neighborhood.

The lesson here is be wary from where you get your information. And to all our brave and hard-working men and women in the fire and rescue services we say, “Carry On!”