• 0

Stuart – To celebrate the organization’s 40th anniversary of helping victims of domestic violence become survivors, SafeSpace along with presenting sponsors Joe and Margaret Richebourg Temple, will be hosting a birthday bash event including cocktails, dinner, entertainment and chance to win …

  • Updated
  • 0

ORLANDO ― WonderWorks Orlando is inviting teachers in Florida to check out all they have to offer for free on select dates in September and October 2019. During Teacher Wonder Days, educators can learn about all the programs they offer. Teachers will get free admission into WonderWorks Orlan…

  • 0

Treasure Coast - There is still time for interested applicants to take part in an apprenticeship program with Indian River State College (IRSC) this Fall. IRSC is offering apprenticeship programs in air conditioning, refrigeration and heating; plumbing; and electrical trades as well as culin…

  • 0

Treasure Coast - Every year, Guardians for New Futures, a small, grassroots nonprofit organization located in St. Lucie County, coordinates and hosts a huge, two-day Child Summit at Indian River State College’s Treasure Coast Public Safety Training Complex in Fort Pierce. This year’s Summit,…

  • 0

MARTIN COUNTY – At the August meeting of Project Linus,152 blankets were collected, setting a new record. Two groups each donated 44 blankets. Some of this total was attributed to no meeting in July. A new group from Vitalia in St. Lucie West, Knit One, Crochet Two, has chosen the Martin and…

  • 0

On Monday, September 9, 2019, the Public Works Department will explore drainage failures under SE Salerno Road, just east of US-1 (SE Federal Highway). This work will necessitate an eastbound lane closure between the hours of 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. Motorists and pedestrians are encouraged to e…

  • 0

Residents urged to avoid contact with waters near Leighton Park in Palm City

  • 0

On Tuesday, September 10, 2019 the Public Works Department will repair SE Dixie Highway at the intersection with SE Delmar Street. This work will necessitate a southbound lane closure between the hours of 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. Motorists and pedestrians are encouraged to exercise caution and t…

  • 0

The Indian River State College (IRSC) Public Service Education Division is hosting a special “Discovery Night” for current and future public safety students—including online learners—friends, family and community members where they can explore all the opportunities the division offers.

  • 0

Martin County is under a local state of emergency as of Thursday, August 29 as Martin County Emergency Management officials continue to monitor the progress of Hurricane Dorian. Residents are urged to be prepared and finalize plans in advance of the storm.

  • 0

Registration for Fall Express Schedule classes at Indian River State College (IRSC) is now underway. The last day to register and pay for Express Schedule is Tuesday, September 3, and classes start on Wednesday, September 4.

  • 0

Martin County – The Florida Department of Health in Martin County is offering free STD, HIV and Hepatitis C testing on Friday, August 30 from 1:00 – 4:00 pm at 3441 SE Willoughby Blvd., Stuart. Testing and counseling is offered on a walk-in basis, no appointment is needed.

  • 0

 The Martin County Board of County Commissioners is seeking applications from individuals interested in being considered for appointment to fill vacancies on the Community Development Block Grant Citizen Advisory Task Force. All individuals serve without compensation and are requested to sub…

  • 0

MARTIN COUNTY - Notice is hereby given of the following meetings to be held at the Martin County Administrative Center, 2401 SE Monterey Road, Stuart, Florida and other locations as indicated for September 2019 . Matters affecting your personal and property rights may be heard and acted upon…

  • 0

MARTIN COUNTY – Join us September 12 from 7:00pm.  As a kid, Tommy Marascuillo grew up singing Italian songs and as a teen, he discovered rock. Then, while working in his father’s pizza parlor in Queens, he discovered doo wop. He joined a group called “Bubba and the Bubbles” and a career was…

featured
  • 0

Martin School District parents say minimum two-mile limit puts children at risk walking to school

  • 0

The County Commission directed staff to keep all $1-million-plus contracts off Consent Agenda

STUART – After much unscheduled debate during commissioner and staff comments, the Martin County Commission voted unanimously Aug. 13 to make all $1 million-plus contracts part of a public hearing process and no longer passed as part of a supplemental memo list on the non-discussion Consent Agenda.

County Administrator Taryn Kryzda first broached the subject in defense of the county’s recent handling of a multimillion contract for the continuation of its employee wellness center with the current vendor, Employee Wellness, PA. At least one public speaker and one of a handful of other proposers not selected, Dr. Rob McLaughlin, criticized what he viewed as a lack of transparency in the request for proposal selection process.

“I know you had a couple of speakers today that referenced our RFP process, and we follow the process that’s currently in your purchasing manual,” Ms. Kryzda told commissioners. “If the Board would want to change the thresholds relative to contracts that come to the Board for approval, I’m happy to look at that and would welcome any suggestions. Our process was established years ago actually to keep commissioners out of the process, and that’s why we have the cone of silence, this relative to the employee clinic.”

Dr. McLaughlin, who said he represented both the Back In Action Medical and Access 365 Urgent Care centers, said many circumstances locally had changed since the county first awarded the contract to Employee Wellness, PA several years ago.

“This time around is very different from the circumstances that were in place in 2011 when the chamber voted and entered into an agreement to provide those services,” he said. “There were fewer facilities that could adequately provide those services. Today, other than my full-service, comprehensive medical facility, there are several other very qualified respondents that I believe are also paying close attention to the process by which this has come together. I know that the Commission is dedicated to transparency, and I was surprised at how subtly this contract kind of made its way through the process in this last meeting with no such transparency. I was looking for the contract to be discussed, I wanted to hear the input of my county administrators and their corresponding questions to staff, as well as public comment to ensure an agreement that’s in the millions of dollars of taxpayer money is vetted properly by those who we count on for oversight.”

Ms. Kryzda went on to explain that the recommendation to stay with the current provider had been made by a 10-member selection committee that included Martin County Supervisor of Elections Vicki Davis, whose own employees also have access to the clinic. The Employee Wellness Center serves all Martin County employees and those of its constitutional officers.

“I have got minutes from the meetings, the meetings were public, and you had 10 individuals that sat on that selection committee,” she added. “We have asked the Board not to meet with those individuals precisely to keep you out of that process. It’s unfortunate that we’ve had to have that conversation, but that’s kind of where we’ve been on that.”

County Attorney Sarah Woods also defended the transparency of the selection process for the public in attendance or watching via television.

“We have a procurement division, we have a purchasing manual, and the whole process is done in a transparent way,” she insisted. “The people that propose are able to hear the ranking selection committee’s comments, there are minutes, and if somebody’s not selected, they can hear why. In the case of the Wellness Center, one of my attorneys was there the entire time, listening to the discussion and ensuring that all of the transparency and rules were followed.”

For his part, Commission Chairman Ed Ciampi said he wasn’t necessarily in favor of changing how the county handles its bidding processes but agreed with Dr. McLaughlin that the process could have been more open.

“These are multimillion-dollar contracts, both the original one and this one for the clinic,” he said. “When that is part of the purchasing agenda item that then is on the Consent Agenda on a day when we’ve had many more than I’ve ever seen, it didn’t give a very important issue, in my opinion, a fair public airing. What I heard this morning, and I’ve heard it the last couple of weeks, is that ‘we were waiting to hear the item and it never was heard.’ In the future if there’s a certain multimillion-dollar threshold or something that has a vast issue for employees or citizens, let’s hear it publicly as an agenda item.”

Commissioner Doug Smith, however, worried that such a move might cause the Commission to revert to the days when they voted and decided on almost every contract coming before the county. County residents in those days looked upon such contract-awarding as being too politicized and unfair.

“Many years ago, there were actually contracts that came to the full Board and they were debated amongst the Board, and there were winners and there were losers,” he said. “The idea that if you have three applicants who are applying for contract and the five of us are deciding on who ought to be the winner, that becomes a really big question in peoples’ minds watching the process on how are you debating and how are you choosing who ought to be the winner and loser. Quite frankly, when we went through the process of changing it, it was probably one of the biggest reliefs I think that we experienced at the time was to get away from being in the middle of it.”

Commissioner Sarah Heard concurred with both Commissioner Smith and Chairman Ciampi’s sentiments.

“I too was on the Board when companies could lobby us, the commissioners, for contracts because we were the decision-makers, and it was extremely uncomfortable, so I’m very happy with our current policy,” she emphasized. “But I think it’s entirely appropriate that we make a policy decision that contracts that are above a threshold – $500,000, $800,000, whatever amount you want to make – can’t be put on the Consent Agenda, so that they become items that merit discussion.”

Commissioner Heard then said she’d be “perfectly happy to make a threshold,” and Chairman Ciampi suggested $1 million be the threshold for keeping the items off the Consent Agenda in the forum of public purview. Both of them balked, however, at the suggestion by Commissioner Smith and Ms. Kryzda of leaving them on the Consent Agenda but as individual items easier to remove rather than part of a supplemental memo list.

Commissioner Heard then made a motion to require all agenda contract items valued at $1 million or more be placed on the regular agenda and that all RFP respondents be notified when the matter would be discussed, which was seconded by Chairman Ciampi and passed unanimously.

  • 0

Stuart — The American Red Cross responded to a mobile home fire today on SE Broadway Street in Stuart. Local Red Cross volunteers on a Disaster Action Team were on site to help coordinate emergency aid to those affected. Fire officials say four (4) people have been displaced by the blaze, in…

  • 0

MARTIN COUNTY – Martin County has been recognized for its achievement in government budgeting for twenty-one consecutive years by The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). "The GFOA's Distinguished Budget Presentation Award represents a significant achievement in recognizing the bo…

  • 0

MARTIN COUNTY - Celebrate National Library Card Sign-up Month during the entire month of September with free admission into local attractions by simply showing your Martin County library card. One library card will act like a day pass for a family of four and restrictions apply. Local attrac…

  • 0

MARTIN COUNTY – The Florida Department of Health is urging residents to take steps to stop the spread of hepatitis A, which is on the rise in Florida and in parts of the United States.

featured
  • 0

Simmered in East Coast history, this renowned “Place For Ribs” carries on a legacy with the coziness of Cheers

  • 0

TREASURE COAST - As Florida begins a new school year, a statewide grand jury says that school officials, police, and the Department of Education have failed to comply with safety laws enacted after the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

featured
  • 0

Martin County – This summer, two students, Harseerat Dhillon and Audrey Millet, were selected for an internship as Bank of America Student Leaders. These students earned this selection through hard work. As Student Leaders, they attended a leadership summit in Washington D.C. with 300 fellow…

  • 0

MARTIN COUNTY – Local students are headed back to school this month to their favorite classes of all: musical theatre, ballet, tap, jazz and more in exciting fall classes at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre Goldner Conservatory of Performing Arts.

Multimedia

  • 0

Father, Johnny Stambough and son, Zach who caught the big bass of 7.31 pounds with a winning tournament weight of 22.12 pounds for the Indian River Bass Anglers. Meetings every first Tuesday of the month at 7:30 PM located at Marsh Landing in Fellsmere.

  • 0

Developing from a tropical wave in the central Atlantic on September 24, Hurricane Dorian churned over several islands in the Bahamas on September 1including Grand Bahama and Abaco Island.  Islanders endured 48 hours of almost unprecedented fury from the Category 5monster with sustained wind…

  • 0

Having been spared the category 5 fury of Hurricane Dorian, the sun sets at Rivergate Park in Port St. Lucie on Sept. 4. 

  • 0

Having been spared the category 5 fury of Hurricane Dorian, the sun sets at Rivergate Park in Port St. Lucie on Sept. 4. 

  • 0

Patti Spina and her 11-year-old son Julien check out the storm surge at Sewall’s Point Park with Louis Martinez.

  • Updated
  • 0

Hometown News Staff Photographer Sevin Bullwinkle capturing the sunset at  Port St. Lucie’s Rivergate Park after the storm.

  • 0

The dock at Captain Hiram’s, along with most other points of access to Sebastian’s Indian River, closes for safety checks.

  • 0

A sidewalk on Ocean Drive in Vero Beach washes away, leaving behind a cavernous hole beneath the boardwalk.

  • 0

Michael Kennedy tries his luck with a metal detector after Hurricane Dorian displaces several inches of sand at Sexton Plaza in Vero Beach.

  • 0

Employees remove shutters and debris from Vero’s Ocean Grill after Hurricane Dorian leaves their outdoor area unusable.

  • 0

Beach access points on Ocean Drive in Vero Beach are closed until safety concerns regarding beach erosion are met.

  • 0

Electrical and water system engineers fill an Orchid Island parking lot while performing maintenance on the local infrastructure.

  • Updated
  • 0

A sailboat sits partially capsized in Sebastian’s Indian River on Wednesday, September 4 just after Hurricane Dorian’s visit.