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Published by Vero Beach 32963 Media, 2017-03-23 15:38:52

03/23/2017 ISSUE 12


Pelican Island Wildlife fest
raises awareness. P28
Rail bill is nightmare

for All Aboard Florida. P9
Acupuncturist who questioned
billing practices gets hate mail. P7

School employees Local voters to
have data disclosed get yet another
in security breach voting system

Staff Writer Staff Writer

The Indian River County Cars circle Sexton Plaza in the frustrating daily search for beachside business district parking spots. PHOTO BY GORDON RADFORD When Vero Beach residents
School District is blaming vote in this fall’s municipal
PlanSource, a third-part ven- MY Time to get serious about parking problems election, it will be on paper
dor, for a security breach that VERO ballots using a fill-in-the-bub-
revealed Social Security num- ble system instead of connect-
bers of some school employ- BY RAY MCNULTY ment to our community, and feelings of mistrust and sense ing the dots by a line.
ees to other employees in the Staff Writer city leaders should be ashamed of desperation that filled the
course of mailing out tax forms of themselves for putting us room was unbecoming of Supervisor of Elections Les-
for the district’s self-insured What happened across four in such an unseemly predica- a place that prides itself on lie Swan was set to ask the In-
health insurance plan. hours at the Vero Beach Plan- ment. its small-town charm, old- dian River Board of County
ning & Zoning Board meeting school manners and neigh- Commissioners on Tuesday
PlanSource was hired to gen- last week was an embarrass- The often-hostile, some- to approve a contract to pur-
erate Internal Revenue Service times-condescending tone, CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 chase a new, state-law compli-
1095-C forms, a required doc- ant optical-scanner voting and
ument that verifies employee tabulation system with funds
health insurance and reports if that have been set aside over
other family members are cov- the past three years.
ered on the plan.
“I hope to have them in
A School District email to May,” Swan said Monday, al-
employees sent March 10 lowing her time to fully test
states, “On March 3, 2017, the out the equipment, to order
School District of Indian River the most practical writing im-
County was notified that the plements to fill out the ballots,
Vendor that was contracted to and finally to conduct public
produce the Form 1095-C for outreach to familiarize the


He’s baack! Bobby returns to New shelter set to open its doors
his restaurant on St. Patrick’s for homeless single women April 1

BY RAY MCNULTY Bobby McCarthy with his daughter, Mallory. BY KATHLEEN SLOAN organization workers and the
Staff Writer Staff Writer generosity of local donors.

St. Patrick’s Day is a festive occasion at Sixteen single women fac- The new facility will begin
Bobby’s Restaurant & Lounge, where the ing homelessness will be operation April 1.
bar area again this year was decorated with housed and helped until they
shamrocks, leprechaun hats, and green, can get back on their feet, The women will live at a
thanks to fast, effective work quadplex purchased by church-
CONTINUED ON PAGE 6 by volunteers and non-profit es, a Jewish temple, private do-
nors and the Treasure Coast


March 23, 2017 Volume 10, Issue 12 Newsstand Price $1.00 Oldies on display
at antique auto
News 1-10 Faith 73 Pets 72 TO ADVERTISE CALL show. Page 22
Arts 35-42 Games 53-55 Real Estate 77-88 772-559-4187
Books 52 Health 57-62 St Ed’s 74
Dining 66 Insight 43-56 Style 63-65 FOR CIRCULATION
Editorial 50 People 11-34 Wine 67 CALL 772-226-7925

© 2017 Vero Beach 32963 Media LLC. All rights reserved.

2 Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


My Vero punt this problem – a parking short- public is saying – that they don't want voted 4-1 to approve the project, had
age in the Central Beach business dis- this – but there's nothing we can do. We no real choice, despite hearing a steady
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 trict, particularly along Ocean Drive, can't vote the way you want.” stream of complaints from more than
especially during our busy season – to a dozen residents and nearby business
borly demeanor. We’re supposed to be the next bunch, hoping we'll not no- Zudans said the developers are fol- owners who, citing the already-prob-
better than that, especially in how we tice or at least grin and bear it? lowing the rules and adhering to city lematic parking shortage in the area,
treat each other. codes in their proposal. voiced their opposition.
When will we get the leadership we
The proposed construction of a need and deserve – a group that pos- That's what Vero Beach Planning Di- Before giving their blessing, in fact,
new restaurant on Ocean Drive, where sesses the courage to confront the rector Tim McGarry found after his de- some board members expressed their
in-season parking is already scarce, challenge head-on, and the grit to partment studied the site-plan appli- trepidation, all but apologizing for
seems to have brought out the worst make the tough decisions necessary to cation submitted by Sony Investments their ensuing vote and explaining that
in some of us, though. And the bulk address a difficult issue? Real Estate Inc., the Miami-based firm they were duty-bound to abide by the
of the blame lies with our elected offi- eager to build a 143-seat restaurant – law, even though they, too, had serious
cials, who've done nothing to address "I find the whole thing very frustrat- across from Bobby's, on what is now a concerns about the restaurant's im-
the parking problem. ing," said board member Dr.Val Zudans, parking lot on the west side of Ocean pact on Ocean Drive's parking dilem-
a local ophthalmologist who could see Drive – that is expected to become the ma and the residential neighborhood
How many more incarnations of our where last Thursday's marathon ses- new home of The Tides. to the immediate west.
City Council are going to continue to sion was headed. "I hear everything the
That's why the P&Z board, which "If I lived in that neighborhood adja-
cent to the property, I'd be sitting with
you," board member Lawrence Lauffer
told the gathering at City Hall. "But I sit
on this board, and we're going to lose if
we don't follow the laws on the books."

And, yes, it was that simple: Sony's
site plan met the standards set in the
city's Code of Ordinances, and unless
the project's opponents could prove
otherwise, their complaints and ob-
jections meant nothing.

It didn't matter that their complaints
and objections had real-life merit, or that
the city's complex formula for determin-
ing how many parking spaces are need-
ed to accommodate a 2,685-square-foot
restaurant works only in theory.

It didn't matter that board members
felt compelled to do what was legal,
instead of doing what they believed
was right – and what they believed was
best for the city.

"If you don't like the code," McGar-
ry told the board, "you need to go to
the City Council and change it."

The code, though, isn't the problem.
Nor is the proposed restaurant proj-
ect, which, even under the best of cir-
cumstances, will increase the demand
for parking spaces along Ocean Drive.

The problem is the city's ongoing
refusal to make parking in the Central
Beach business district a priority.

"Let's face it," McGarry said after
the P&Z board meeting, "if there was
ample parking over there, we wouldn't
be here."

For the past decade, at least par-
tially because the city failed to require
the Vero Beach Hotel & Spa and Costa
d'Este Resort & Spa to provide suffi-
cient parking facilities, the situation
along Ocean Drive – as well as on Car-
dinal Drive – has become more con-
gested than anyone ever expected.

The past five years, as theVero Beach
barrier island became an increasingly
hot destination, have been especially
challenging with more seasonal resi-
dents and visitors arriving each winter.

Still, the city leaders do nothing, pay-
ing only lip service to complaints from
beachside merchants who say the park-
ing shortage is hurting their businesses.

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 3


GoLine, with local funding provided a longtime leader of the Indian River McGarry did his part: He had the au- "Give us some hope," said Melinda
by the Vero Beach Hotel, tried to help Neighborhood Association, went so far thority to approve the Sony plan with- Cooper, owner of the Cooper & Com-
by creating a free, park-and-ride shut- as to say, "I consider meters unfriendly, out putting it before the P&Z board, pany boutique, immediately north of
tle that utilized the lot at Riverside Park and we're a friendly community." but he knew parking was a volatile is- the restaurant site.
as a parking alternative for beachside sue and he wanted the public to have
hotel and restaurant workers. We weren't so friendly at that P&Z its say. What happened across those four
board meeting, where theVero on display hours at that meeting last week should
But the effort failed – and the route wasn't the Vero most of us want and ex- Now, having seen how much is at put the beachside parking situation
was discontinued – because the work- pect our hometown to be. And that's far stake, it's time for our city leaders to high on the City Council's to-do list.
ers refused to ride the bus, preferring more disheartening and distasteful than step up and tackle a problem that They need to do something, and they
the convenience of parking on Ocean seeing parking meters on Ocean Drive. threatens our way of life. need to start now. 
Drive, where their vehicles continue
to occupy precious spaces during the Exclusively John’s Island
business day.
Overlooking serene pool and Indian Lake views is this beautifully
As for what's next, nobody knows. renovated 4-bedroom retreat. Beamed T&G ceilings, Baltic White Oak
City leaders are embarking on an up- hardwood floors and custom finishes add warmth to this 5,243± GSF
date to their "vision plan," which, by the home. Features include a voluminous living room with fireplace adjoining
way, encourages the addition of more the expansive lanai, bonus theater room with bar, large center island
restaurants and entertainment estab- kitchen with premium appliances, custom finishes, luxurious master suite,
lishments in the Central Beach business 2nd level guest bedroom ensuite with tree-top views and A/C garage.
district, especially along Ocean Drive. 631 Indian Harbor Road : $3,200,000
Sony's proposed restaurant, which
includes an outdoor dining area, is three championship golf courses : 17 har-tru courts : beach club : squash
exactly the type of business the city health & fitness center : pickleball : croquet : vertical equity membership
wants to attract to the area. That the
planned tenant is The Tides, one of 772.231.0900 : Vero Beach, FL :
Vero Beach's most successful and
highly-regarded fine-dining restau-
rants, should be cause for celebration.
And it would be ... if parking weren't
so scarce.
"Parking is a problem all over the
beach," said Leanne Kelleher, The
Tides' owner and chef. "I understand
the parking issues there, because I
deal with them where I am now, and
I completely understand the concerns
of the other tenants.
"I'm going to do my best not to be
part of the problem," she added. "I
want to be part of the solution. If I
move my restaurant there, I will make
it my business to help figure out how
to make it work for all of us. That's
why we're successful business people.
We can figure things out.
"We just have to work together."
Everyone does need to do that – and
that includes city leaders who no lon-
ger have the luxury of kicking the can
down Ocean Drive.
They must make parking a priority,
commit themselves to finding a viable
solution and make the hard decisions
that need to be made to prevent a re-
peat of what happened at last week's
P&Z board meeting.
Maybe it's impractical to expect the
city to spend what it would cost to
purchase the beachside land needed
for a parking lot or on which to build
a parking garage. Maybe the added
number of spaces created by install-
ing center-median, angled parking on
Cardinal Drive wouldn't be enough.
But what about some form of me-
tered parking?
For years, city leaders have refused
to even consider parking meters, say-
ing paid parking in the Central Beach
business district would go against ef-
forts to keep Vero "Vero."
P&Z board chairman Honey Minuse,

4 Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


Security breach Employees were asked to contact Last year the School District had prised of Beth Livers, Maria Calda-
Mike Smeltzer if they found errors, 1,876 employees on its health insur- rone and Ashley Harris.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 but Vero Beach 32963 was contacted ance plan. If errors occurred on 3.5
by several people who said no one percent of forms, that would be 65 They did the fundraising, found
District employees made some errors answered the phone number that forms, though there could have been the property, and held a thank-you
(about 3.5 percent of the forms) re- was given, or responded to their multiple errors and Social Security dinner for the contributors with the
garding the information contained on emails, when they tried to contact number breaches on each form. Plan- restaurant, Avanzare, also donating
those forms. Smeltzer, a member of the district Source did not respond to a request the meal.
benefits team. for comment. 
“This included the release of some The property cost $415,300 and 23
Social Security numbers. ... It appears An anonymous source submitted Shelter for homeless women donations – including $100,000 from
that the error was caused by a misap- a list of 24 employees who were af- CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 the Treasure Coast Homeless Servic-
plication of information that was pro- fected, some reporting that up to four es Council – amounted to $470,800.
vided to the Vendor by Florida Blue. names and Social Security numbers Homeless Services Council. The extra money went for paint, air
This does represent a security breach were listed on the forms they received “It came together in 90 days,” Trea- conditioners and other upgrades to
on their part. of people they didn’t know. Others re- the 2001 property, “which is in pretty
ported their children were listed twice sure Coast Homeless Services Coun- good shape,” Caldarone said.
“The District is in communication with different Social Security num- cil Executive Director Louise Hub-
with the Vendor to ensure that all State bers, both wrong except for the last bard said. The Treasure Coast Homeless Ser-
and Federal requirements are honored four digits. vices Council holds title to the facil-
with regards to security breach rem- “There was no contention about ity, bringing the number of residential
edies and credit monitoring services for “I have yet to receive a response who would be served. The faith- properties it owns to 32, all of which
affected employees. When we have fi- from anyone at district headquarters based community saw a need, rec- serve low-income people.
nalized details on this, it will be shared.” as to how my family’s identities will be ognized what needed to be done and
protected as I suspect my information made it happen in three months,” Hubbard estimates the yearly cost
An email sent to teachers by Indian was probably shared with someone as Hubbard said. “It was amazing.” to operate and maintain the quad-
River County Education Association well . . . several of us feel this is a seri- plex will be about $20,000. “I don’t
President Liz Cannon revealed the ous breach of personal information,” Other shelters in the area, such as know right now how ongoing costs
third-party vendor to be PlanSource. another employee said, who also Hope for Families Center and the Sa- will be funded. We are continually
wished to remain anonymous. maritan Center, take homeless fami- applying for federal and state funds,”
The School District sent out an ear- lies, but not single women. she said. “We’ll see.”
lier email to employees March 3, in- The Affordable Care Act requires
forming them the 1095-C forms had employers with 50 or more full-time The coordinator of the effort was The purchase of the quadplex will
been mailed the day before and an employees to report each employee’s the Sand & Land Real Estate Team save money in the long run. Churches
employee had already reported errors. health coverage to the IRS on the at the barrier island brokerage Berk- were donating money to buy hotel
That email, too, shirked blame, stating 1095-C. A separate copy is to go to the shire Hathaway Home Services, com- rooms for single women who weren’t
“the forms were provided by a third- employee. eligible for other shelters.
part vendor (not the District).”
“Only one hotel will take them,”
Hubbard said. “It’s $400 a week, $1,200

12 Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


1 23


1. Mary Ryan, Michael Mandel and Bonnie Spitzmiller.

2. Hal Oberkotter, Fran McIntyre, Dorothy Chaffee and Sam

Beach. 3. Leslie McGuirk, Maria Whittle and Jill Collinson.

4. Amy Patterson, Ellen Frazier with Crash, Trude See and

Atticus Barbara Butts 5. Tonya Martinez with Tink, and Virginia
and Warren Schwerin. 6. Heidi Rose with Chalmers Morse.

7. Pam Harmon, Pat Marquis and Trude See. 8. Priscilla

Lamond, Mary Daly and Jo Ann Becker. 9. Dr. Michael

Rooney 5 Wein, Dr. Jeff Slade and Richard Ray. PHOTOS: DENISE RITCHIE

4 6


‘Tails’ of fundraising success at Cause for Paws event

BY MARY SCHENKEL They and the others pups that and that should make for some lively and spay and neuter. In the coming
Staff Writer night tugged at the heart-strings of bidding,” said Board President Mary weeks we expect to open our newly
the almost 350 animal lovers who at- Ryan, co-chair of the event with Bon- renovated and expanded Wellness
Guests at last Tuesday evening’s tended the event at the Oak Harbor nie Spitzmiller, who Ryan credited as Clinic named in memory of Miriam
Cause for Paws fundraiser to benefit Club. As the county’s official intake being “the mighty force behind the D. Oberkotter and funded in large
the Humane Society of Vero Beach shelter, the Humane Society main- success of Cause for Paws.” part by her son Hal. I am also pleased
and Indian River County were greet- tains an “open door” policy, never to announce tonight that a gift of
ed by a half-dozen or so adorable turning down animals of any sort for After thanking the many sponsors $100,000 has been made by the Cal-
representatives of the organization’s any reason, and to do so must rely on and underwriters, Ryan introduced vin and Marisa Allen Foundation
raison d’être. the generosity of its supporters. Michael Mandel, who the board has to name a surgical suite in our new
appointed as the shelter’s new execu- clinic.”
Among them were two of the seven Cause for Paws has a well-earned tive director. He replaces Chalmers
surviving 8-week-old puppies born to reputation as a leader when it comes Morse, now executive director of the Mandel shared that the gift was
Toffee, one of the initial 10 dogs res- to silent and live auctions and this HSVBIRC Foundation. made by the foundation to honor Mil-
cued from a South Korean dog meat year was no exception. Their bid-pals licent Allen, a longtime and ardent
farm, just 24 hours after she arrived in hand, guests wandered through “The fact is that the Humane Soci- supporter of the Humane Society.
at the shelter. Another was Crash, the carefully laid out silent-auction ety receives very little public funding,
whose friendly disposition and tail- items before heading in for a delicious and what little we do receive barely “On behalf of the board, and all of
wagging belied the obvious mistreat- dinner and later, a spirited live auc- makes a dent in the costs we incur to us at the shelter, I’d like to thank the
ment of an earlier life. Caring shel- tion. Tables in the dining rooms were provide quality care to the thousands Calvin and Marisa Allen Foundation
ter veterinarians had to remove his cheerfully accented with napkins in a of homeless, abused and abandoned for this generous gift in your honor,”
right eye, leaving him with a per- rainbow of colors and homey animal- animals who come through our said Mandel, presenting Allen with
manent “wink” to go with his sweet centric centerpieces, hand-made by a doors each year. Instead we rely on f lowers.
doggy grin. And then there was the committee of volunteers. you, our donors, to keep those doors
blond bombshell – a cocker spaniel open,” said Mandel. In addition to its role as a safe ha-
with an enviable hairdo and a non- “I am delighted to see that we have ven for animals, the Humane Society
stop wiggle. a full house tonight. I know that you “One significant way we impact provides a vast array of programs and
are all here in support of the animals the lives of animals and our commu- services to help keep animals where
nity is through our focus on wellness, they belong; with loving families. 

14 Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


13 14
15 16

10. Roger Smith, LaLa Maresi, Sally Smith and Henry Maresi.
11. Barry and Marsha Reardon with Myra and Harry Webber.
12. Steve Boyle, Cindy O’Dare, Gary and Cathy Ball, and
Gretchen Cover.13. Ginger Atwood and Page Franzel check
their Bid Pals. 14. Mike and Leslie Swan. 15. Ray Smith, Ana
Beindorf and Beth Smith. 16. Howard and Betty Morgan.
17. Deb Freed, Marlene Putnam and Cynthia Haskett.


Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 15


18 19


18. Hope Woodhouse, Nancy Brewer and Katherine Seem.
19. Leslie Ash with Stacy and Adam Katz. 20. Susan McConnell
and Tony Tremaine. 21. Doug Klug and Gloria Allen. 22. Rod
Grandison with Tonk and Susan Jaeckel.

21 22

16 Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


All grown up, Shining Light Garden feeds a need

Eric and Rachel Flowers with Greg Vafiades. PHOTOS: DENISE RITCHIE Cheryl Mackie, Joel Bray and Sandy Robinson. Carol Kauss with John and Darlene Scott.

Staff Writer

It takes more than a green thumb Kathleen O’Brien Joachim, Carol Christiansen, Barbara Sotos and Gail Kinney. Martin and Renee Bireley with Anne and Tom Michaels.
to keep 20 acres of vegetables grow-
ing, something Joel Bray, founder of the dinner will go toward purchasing vegan plate, shrimp and grits, steak- happen; it’s just a matter of when.
the Shining Light Garden Founda- seeds and farm equipment, making frites or roasted chicken breast, We’ve doubled our production and
tion, has managed to do for nearly 10 repairs and improving irrigation. topped off with brownie à la mode. can grow more crops on the same
years. Supporters of the organization property. Our vision is to continue to
enjoyed a lovely evening last Tuesday As they gathered before dinner, “God continues to meet our needs,” expand as long as there are hungry
at the fifth annual Spring Dinner at the 150 guests perused silent-auction said Bray. “I would like to thank the people. We just want to continue to
Osceola Bistro to benefit the grass- items and were entertained by mem- community for their support. The feed them.”
roots nonprofit whose motto is “feed- bers of the Vero Beach High School people here rally around a good
ing the hungry, one garden at a time.” Orchestra Ensemble. cause, and as long as there are hun- Noting that high percentage of In-
gry people our mission is to continue dian River County residents live in
Bray has turned what began as a Osceola owner Chef Chris Bireley, feeding as many people as we can.” poverty, Bray said, “We’re finding
backyard garden tended in his spare a Vero native and longtime advocate more people who need our help and
time, into a nutritious lifeline for the of the garden, served up a delicious Bray said he hopes to eventually how we can best meet them.”
less fortunate. farm-to-table meal that featured a farm 100 acres, adding, “I know it will

“I had more than I could eat, so I
started giving it away,” Bray recalled.
Over the years the garden has grown
from a small patch into 10 and now 20
acres, greatly expanding the number
of people they can help.

At Shining Light Garden, they give
it their all: The garden is 100 percent
volunteer-run, it is subsidized 100
percent by donations and 100 percent
of the vegetables and flowers they
grow are given away. Proceeds from


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Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 17


Roger Potvin with Carrie and Jim Adams. Al and Beth Sammartino with Earlene and Richard Batiste. Diane Titherington and Sherry Leard.

Connie Derman and Cynthia D’Amico. Liz and Brian Adams. Raymond Stevenson and Sara Hansen. Pam and Dr. Bradley Reiner.

Greg Vafiades, Shining Light Gar- cut weekly and arranged by volun-
den vice president, said that since teers for patients at the VNA Hos-
its inception the Garden has given pice House.
away upwards of 18,000 bushels of
fresh vegetables. Connie Derman, garden volun-
teer and event organizer, has dirt in
“It was just three of us in the early her veins. A member of the Garden
days. We had three shovels, a bor- Club of Indian River County and
rowed tractor and 10 acres. Now “an old farm girl from Pennsylva-
we’re growing on 20 acres and give nia” she was naturally drawn to the
to about 25 nonprofit organiza- nonprofit.
tions, including food banks, soup
kitchens, thrift food pantry’s and “It’s amazing how many needy
countless people in need,” said Va- people there are in Indian River
fiades. County,” said Derman. “If people
can’t eat they can’t live. If we can
In addition to fresh tomatoes, help a little bit, it makes it all worth-
sweet potatoes, onions, potatoes, while.”
lettuce, cucumbers, eggplant, col-
lards and okra, flowers are grown, For more information, visit Shin- 

18 Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


Floral designs dazzle at Art in Bloom luncheon

1 23
Staff Writer 1. Gail Mellin and Laura Buck. 2. Sharie Mortimer, Ann
Webber and Laura Penfield. 3. Connie Patterson and
There was a wintry nip in the air 4 PHOTOS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 20 Dhuanne Tansill. 4. Allegra Coryell, Molly Hurley, Kay
last Thursday but it definitely looked Hammond, Lee LaPointe, and Laura Hurley. 5. Sandy
like spring at the annual Art in Rolf, Helen Cook and Annette Rodriguez.
Bloom Luncheon at the Vero Beach
Museum of Art to benefit its educa- PHOTOS: DENISE RITCHIE
tion programs. The popular event
featured a return engagement by 5
Bruno Duarte, owner and creative
director of Fresh Floral Creations in
Toronto. It was also a repeat pairing
of luncheon co-chairs Connie Patter-
son and Dhuanne Tansill and exhibi-

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 19


tion co-chairs Lee LaPointe and Ann the event’s inception. They work second and third choice,” explained This year’s creatively talented de-
Webber. closely with Dana Twersky, Collec- Webber. “When they send in their signers were Ann Boyd, Ann Jones,
tions and Exhibitions manager, who choice it has to be by U.S. Mail, be- Barbara Kaytes, Lee LaPointe, Su-
“I think it’s the most sophisticated selects various works from the mu- cause it goes by the postmark date. zanne Mallory, Betty McCarthy, Sha-
and well-presented show that we’ve seum’s collections for the designers It’s old-fashioned but it works. We rie Mortimer, Helena Pearson, Kath-
ever had. This is the 10th show,” to choose from. have arrangers here from all over the leen Poole, Gretchen Riley, Pinkie
said Webber, who has coordinated country; it’s by invitation.”
the exhibition with LaPointe since “Each person gets to pick a first, CONTINUED ON PAGE 21

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 23




Perfect weather drew large crowds
of car lovers to the 40th annual
Antique Automobile Show, hosted
by the Indian River Region of
the Antique Automobile Club of
America, which took place this
past Saturday at Riverside Park.
The event drew roughly 300
vehicles to what is Vero’s oldest and
largest car show. On display were
all variety of lovingly cared for
antique, classic, prestige, foreign,
special interest, commercial and
modified vehicles, with trophies
awarded to the very best in 15
classes. As has been its tradition
in recent years, the local club
partnered with the U.S. Postal
Service as a collection point for
nonperishable food in its “Drive
Out Hunger” campaign. 

1. Chuck Houlbjerg and Sandy Jansen.

2. Charlie Jandik with his 1977 AMC Gremlin.

3. Roy Simpson and Dennis Simpson.

4. Lisha and Shawn DeSantis with dog Oden.

5. Kathy and Billy D’Arton. 6. Craig and Connie

Herbert with Alisha Trio and children Adrianna

and Vinnie Trio. 7. Bud Rodgers, Ed Whitehead,

and Ashley Badger. 8. John Deford with Dawn

and James Redman. 9. Celia and Tom O’Neill sit in


24 Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


A toast to St. Francis Manor’s housing expansion plans

BY STEPHANIE LaBAFF In 1972 Frank Zorc noted a lack of Center for Housing Studies of Harvard
Staff Writer housing for limited-income seniors University, America is failing to meet
in Indian River County and began the the needs of our aging population,
Affordable-housing advocates at- project to develop St. Francis Manor forcing millions of low-income seniors
tended an intimate cocktail party at to provide them with affordable, inde- to sacrifice other necessities including
the home of Al and Pilar Turner last pendent apartments. Since 1974 more food and health needs.
Monday, hosted by Maria Elena Kitch- than 900 seniors, who might otherwise
ell, Gladys LaForge and Pilar Turner, find themselves homeless or living in “Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a forgot-
to learn about plans to expand the St. substandard housing, have found a ten part of our community,” said Pilar
Francis Manor housing facilities. safe haven there. Turner. “The elderly need a safe place
to live and St. Francis does a great job.”
Karl and Bonnie Steen. PHOTOS: DENISE RITCHIE
“When was the last time you attend-
“They all need one thing ... a place ed a fundraising event for the elderly,”
to live,” said Board President Anthony asked Kitchell. “Our elderly are over-
Dzielski. “The residents of our apart- looked. The people that we have at St.
ments have an average income of $980 Francis Manor would most likely be
a month. St. Francis currently provides homeless if not for our facility.”
housing for 98 senior citizens, with
more than 40 people on the waiting “It’s a place that when you walk in
list. Every day somebody calls our ex- you sense the need these people had.
ecutive director and asks for a place to The Manor is where the rubber meets
live.” the road for many of them,” added
“A year ago we averaged 30 individu-
als waiting to get in. But recently it has Residency, based on a first-come,
ballooned to 45 as more baby boomers first-served basis, serves applicants
retire, many of whom never recovered with limited means and less than
from the last recession,” said Louis $25,000 total assets. Rent at St. Fran-
Schacht, capital campaign co-chair cis averages roughly $350 per month,
with Kitchell. as opposed to more than $700 in rent
charged for a typical efficiency or one-
To increase their housing capabili- bedroom apartment elsewhere in the
ties, St. Francis is in the process of rais- county.
ing funds to add two buildings with
18 efficiency apartments for couples. “St. Francis provides a much-needed
The apartments sit on a 100-year lease, service in the community,” said La-
in alignment with the county’s com- Forge. “I got involved because I see
prehensive plan to provide affordable what my elderly mother lives on. Any
housing. of us could find ourselves in the same
To date, the board has raised $1.2
million toward its Grow Homes at Guests were asked to help spread the
the Manor Capital Campaign goal of seeds to grow more homes at St. Fran-
$2.025 million. Construction is set to cis Manor, inviting them to take a tour
begin in late spring. of the facility, host a party to spread the
word, or make a monetary donation.
According to a study by the Joint
On April 29 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
St. Francis Manor will host its annu-
al All American Country BBQ Bash
on its premises. For more informa-
tion visit or call
772-562-8575. 

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 25


Maria Elena Kitchell, Pilar Turner and Gladys LaForge. Louis Schacht, Al Turner and Anthony Dzielski. Joe and Evelyn Montgomery.

Karen and Mark Morein. George and Frankie Ballman.

26 Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


Leprechauns on loose at Vero Beach Book Center

BY STEPHANIE LaBAFF festivities as Miss Erin led a Story-
Staff Writer hour celebration that would rival any
of the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations
Parents were green with envy as lit- on the Emerald Isle. It has been a tra-
tle leprechauns discovered their own dition at the Book Center almost as
pots of gold in adventures at a special long as the store has been open.
St. Patrick’s Day Storyhour with Miss
Erin last Friday morning at the Vero Everyone is a wee bit Irish on St.
Beach Book Center. Patrick’s Day but Maureen Campeau,
with her red hair and Irish-Scottish
Young and old alike enjoyed the heritage, is the real deal. She’s lived

Tripp Reuther talks to storyteller Erin Rich. PHOTOS: DENISE RITCHIE

in Vero Beach for 40 years and was first time for many of them, as they
happy to spend the morning among belted out the “Hello Song” and put
the shamrocks with her grandson, on their imaginary glasses so that
Emerson. they could read.

“I’ve come full circle,” said “Emerson loves the stories, the
Campeau. “I brought my three chil- music and the movement,” said
dren to storytime here, and now I’m Campeau. “It’s so animated. This is
blessed to be able to experience this a great learning experience for him.
with my only grandbaby. It’s the All the children are well behaved be-
greatest thing in the world.” cause they are completely engaged
with Miss Erin.”
It didn’t take the “luck o’ the Irish”
to participate; folks just had to show Kate Gibbons came dressed in
up to hear Miss Erin read “Ten Lucky hopes of catching a leprechaun. As
Leprechauns” and “The Night Before she showed off her toile skirt, adorned
St. Patrick’s Day,” before turning the with shamrocks, she explained that
little ones loose to color pots of gold her favorite part of storytime is the
and eat shamrock cookies. books; finding the big donut in one of
the stories particularly funny.
To break up the activities and rid
them of any pent-up energy, the boys The leprechauns may have been
and girls sang and danced with aban- elusive this St. Patrick’s Day, but there
don. It was obvious this wasn’t the was plenty of fun for all. 

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 27


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28 Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


Green alert: Pelican Island Wildlife fest raises awareness

BY MARY SCHENKEL be able to share their messages with due to erosion, adding, “Our group
Staff Writer the populace. Large crowds visited paid to have oyster shells flown in
throughout the day at Riverview Park and put around the island to protect
With their already meager federal in Sebastian, eager to learn how they it.”
and state funding once more on the can help in the effort to protect our
chopping block, roughly 40 ecologi- natural resources. The refuge, off A1A north of Wind-
cal-, environmental- and conserva- sor, is roughly 5,000 acres, some sub-
tion-oriented nonprofit exhibitors at The event was hosted by the Peli- merged. Centennial Trail, leading
the 25th annual Pelican Island Wild- can Island Preservation Society, to a Pelican Island overlook, is lined
life Festival last Saturday were glad to which provides support to the Peli- with boardwalks with names of each
can Island National Wildlife Refuge. of the more than 500 National Wild-
life Refuges.
“We’re open for business every day,
PHOTOS: DENISE RITCHIE 7:30 a.m. till sundown. People can
come and walk on our trails,” said
“It’s very confusing sometimes, the refuge volunteer Sandee Dawdy, not-
difference between Pelican Island ing that funding for the whole Na-
and Pelican Island Refuge,” said Steve tional Wildlife system is under threat
Massey, PIPS president. “It’s basically of elimination.
a support group for the refuge and
Pelican Island. We have this festival A very convincing President Theo-
every year to raise awareness. It’s a dore Roosevelt (aka Joe Wiegand)
great thing; we’re educating the kids shared with the crowd that on March
and the adults get educated, too.” 14, 1903, he established Pelican Island
as the nation’s first National Wildlife
He explained that the original five- Refuge, appointing Paul Kroegel, who
acre Pelican Island is now three acres had lobbied on behalf of birds being
slaughtered for their plumage, as the
first National Wildlife Warden.

And while the wholesale slaying


8 Professional BBQ Rib Vendors
Live Music From Fantastic Local Bands

Regular & Craft Beer Selection

Sat. Mar 25 - 12-8 pm & Sun. Mar 26 - 12-6 pm

Riverside Park - Vero Beach

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 29


Talia Hurst and Jason Lloyd. Oscar and Ruth McLean.

PHOTOS CONTINUED ON PAGE 30 an River County,” said Richard Baker,
PIAS president. “We fight for environ-
Tim Brown with a gopher turtle. mental and conservation issues in the
county. We’ve really moved into the
of birds for their feathers is no longer education realm with our after-schools
a threat, birds, marine life and other program and we’re collaborating with
wildlife are still in danger, making the new environmental horticultural
the festival’s educational aspects even agent, Nickie Munroe. She’s offering a
more important. class on Florida Friendly Plants at our
new facility.”
A Kids’ Activities area offered a va-
riety of crafts, including Gyotaku Fish Youngsters at Brevard’s Riverwalk
Painting. “It’s a tradition with this fes- Park booth could get a feel for the life
tival,” said PIPs volunteer Suzanne Va- of a sea-turtle as they worked their way
lencia, explaining that children paint through a creative sea-turtle obstacle
Jacks and other bait-fish and press course.
them onto T-shirts, schoolbags and
aprons. Magnificent hawks, owls and a state-
ly bald eagle drew interested visitors
Across the pathway, the Pelican Is- to the Treasure Coast Wildlife Center
land Audubon Society was teaching display, where permanently impaired
about various bird species by means of birds, thanks to human-related inju-
a ring toss. ries such as from guns and cars, are
now educational ambassadors.
“We are the advocacy group in Indi-
Several sea-turtle groups highlight-
ed that nesting season began March 1,
meaning that no lights should be vis-
ible from the beach after 9 p.m. each

“Federal funding will not be avail-
able in 2017 for nest monitoring,” said
Jill Uttridge, a volunteer with Friends
of the Carr Refuge. “And this is one of
the most important nesting beaches in
the world!”

For more information visit firstref- 

30 Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


PHOTOS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 29 Paul Tritaik with Jim and Pam Kroegel, Kristin Beck and Bill Miller. Front: Anne Sullivan, Julie, Hailey and Jenna Pashayan.
Back: Jim and Mollie Pashayan

Rowan, Aidan and Christena Callahan.

Anya and Elena Arias Runyan with Dawn Miller.

Charlotte Booth touches a 4-year-old
alligator held by Dawn Miller.

Cam Bruckner navigates the sea turtle obstacle course.

32 Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


Alarmingly good time at Firefighters’ county fair

BY STEPHANIE LaBAFF luck at winning a giant stuffed bear. tricks of the trade, dousing flames but tertainment, the fair provided a venue
Staff Writer To keep things fresh, new entertain- not enthusiasm while promoting fire for local youth to showcase livestock at
safety. the 4-H Youth Fair Show and Auction.
Strolling down the midway at the ers are booked each year, including
37th Annual Firefighters’ Indian Riv- nine new rides and a thrilling Pirates Also popular were the demolition According to Darren Cole, 4-H pro-
er County Fair was like taking a nos- of the Caribbean High Dive Show that derby, hypnosis, comedy and illusion gram director, there were about 180
talgic trip back in time. The music featured hijinks and death-defying, acts, local and national entertain- entries this year, some with multiple
blared, colorful lights pulsed, and car- 80-foot-high dives that kept the audi- ers, with a bake sale, barn dance and projects. More than 25 categories are
nies called out to wide-eyed children, ence at the edge of their seats. homemade crafts to round out offer- on the roster, including showmanship,
tempting them with funnel cakes and ings and elicit fond memories for older breeding, grooming, Barn King and
kettle corn or challenges to try their Another family favorite was the attendees. Queen, shooting and even a barbecue
Firefighter Training Show, with ju- competition.
nior firefighters suiting up to learn the In addition to games, rides and en-
“The kids raised goats, chickens,
swine, steer, rabbit, cavy and citrus,”
explained Cole, noting that the chil-
dren learn valuable life skills through-
out the process. “They care for and
keep records for a whole year for this
competition. The show at the fair is the
culmination of their projects.”

The 4-H event ends with an auction,
where Cole said, “A lot of the buyers
come to support the kids. They buy the
animals and donate the meat to food
banks and organizations that have a

Kendahl Brown started out show-
ing rabbits and guinea pigs, and for
the past four years the 11-year-old
has been showing pigs, including this
year’s 281-pound hog, Pinky. She said
she might one day try raising a steer.

A participant as a child and today a
parent, Krystal Cominsky showed for
10 years and now was busy getting her
14-month-old son ready for his debut
in Peewee Swine Showmanship.

“I loved raising and showing my ani-
mals,” said Cominsky, adding she did it
for fun but has come to realize just how
much she learned from the 4-H Head,
Heart, Hands and Health motto.

While the Firefighters’ Association
is at the helm, it takes a community ef-
fort to make things run smoothly, with
more than 100 volunteers from local
sports teams, clubs and off-duty fire-
fighters helping out.

“My dad was involved with the fair,
and I grew up out here. Now I’m help-
ing run the event and have my boys
out here running around too,” shared
Steve Graul, the fair’s assistant manag-
er, noting that he expected attendance
to exceed 50,000 people.

Proceeds support the Indian River
County Burn Fund, which provides
financial assistance to local burn vic-
tims during their recovery, just one
more way firefighters help residents
when tragedy strikes. This year the
Salvation Army, American Red Cross,
United Against Poverty and One Blood
mobile blood bank also benefited
through food drives, a clothing collec-
tion and a portion of ticket sales. 

34 Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


PHOTOS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 33 Kylah Flynt, Brianna Robertson, Kenleigh Flynt and Haylei Emanuel. The Sweeney Family Band.
Stacy Gabbard, Stacey Ford, Addison Gabbard and Avery Gabbard.

Garrett Abernathy.

Firefighter Neil Snyder assists
Wade Graul and Connor Atwell.


36 Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


Stars shine on Symphonic Association silver season

BY STEPHANIE LABAFF ance in IRSA’s silver anniversary cel- Symphony. I played the clarinet as a John Crosby and Penny Odiorne.
ebration concert. child and sang in the choral society, P HOTOS BY GORDON RADFORD
Staff Writer but I just love the symphony.”
Amato has toured and recorded with poration of the nonprofit.
When the Indian River Symphonic countless pop stars and jazz groups, When she moved to Vero Beach in “I was invited by Penny Odiorne
Association was at its zenith, there from Quincy Jones to Liza Minelli. the early 1990s, to get her music “fix”
could be 100 people on the waiting Odiorne would travel to Melbourne and Harriet Samson Yemm to attend a
list for tickets. In the past few years, as But it is the star power of Bell and and visit friends involved with couple of meetings. They were very en-
longtime patrons have aged out of the Zukerman that will set the Vero classi- the Brevard Symphony Orchestra, thusiastic and ready to do something
concert scene, tickets aren’t as hard to cal music scene glowing next year. formed in 1954 when 13 local musi- big. I could see they were looking at the
come by. cians got together to accompany the future,” recalls Ortega-Cowan, who in
Violinist Bell received his first violin Northrop Glee Club’s performance the 1970s had worked frequently with
That will not be the case next season when he was 4 years old. The musical of “The Mikado.” Brevard Symphony Orchestra through
when the classical music presenters genius performed with the Philadel- his involvement with Brevard’s Opera
celebrate their 25th anniversary with phia Orchestra at the age of 14 and de- In 1987, the orchestra began to Arts Association. At the time, Ortega-
two of the world’s most famous violin- buted at Carnegie Hall at 17. Hailed as perform as orchestra-in-residence in Cowan and his wife Joan lived in Cocoa
ists and conductors, Joshua Bell and one of the most celebrated violinists of the newly constructed King Center Beach, where Joan grew up.
Pinchas Zukerman. his era, in 2011 he was named music di- in Melbourne. As the orchestra grew,
rector of the Academy of St. Martin in it was eager to increase its viewing Ortega-Cowan’s career in banking
Both have performed with the the Fields. This season, he has served audience. kept him from devoting as much time
IRSA series before but never in the as 2016-2017 artist-in-residence at the to IRSA as he would have liked, but he
same season. Kennedy Center and National Sym- In 1993 the Indian River Symphon- says he was pleasantly surprised when
phony Orchestra. ic Association was formed. One year several years later he tried to buy tick-
“It’s really exciting to have them re- later the Brevard Symphony gave its ets for the symphony only to discover
turning,” says the presenting group’s Zukerman has been pushing the first performance at the Community there was a waiting list of 100 people.
board president, John Crosby. “We are limits as a musician and conductor Church of Vero Beach, where the pro-
so fortunate to draw such a high caliber since he was 5 years old. He went on to grams are still held today. “I thought that was just fantastic.
of talent to Vero Beach.” study at Julliard before beginning his With the enthusiasm that those two
career. His unique style has resulted After two performances during the ladies began this effort, I’m not sur-
The Indian River Symphonic As- in the development of innovative mu- first year, IRSA’s season grew quickly.
sociation’s silver anniversary season sic education programs around the Two years later, they brought in their
opens next Jan. 12 with Zukerman per- world. Zukerman has spent time as first non-local symphony, the Iceland
forming with the Royal Philharmonic a solo performer and musical direc- Symphony Orchestra.
Orchestra. Then, on March 23, violinist tor with world-renowned orchestras.
Bell performs with the Academy of St. He has directed the St. Paul Chamber Today the group typically offers four
Martin in the Fields. Orchestra and Canada’s National Arts international orchestras plus three
Centre Orchestra. performances by the Brevard Sym-
Those two alone could make for a phony. “In those 24 years, we’ve had 55
sell-out season when tickets go on sale IRSA was founded in 1993 when sev- international orchestras coming from
next week. Factoring in a Feb. 2 pops eral like-minded classical music en- 22 countries. We’ve had quite a diverse
concert with the group’s longtime col- thusiasts mapped out a plan to bring representation,” says Crosby.
laborator, the Brevard Symphony Or- orchestral music to Vero.
chestra, makes demand for Commu- Roman Ortega-Cowan, the long-
nity Church’s 900 seats even higher, as That group included Penny Odiorne, time artistic director of Vero Beach
vocalist Michelle Amato, who trained board member and orchestra histo- Opera, was also part of the music
at the University of Miami’s Frost rian. “I lived in the metropolitan New scene when IRSA was formed. He
School of Music, makes a guest appear- York area and attended the New York played an integral role in the incor-

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 37


prised that it has done so well,” says SPREADING ‘RUMORS’: HYPE BUILDS

Brevard Symphony Orchestra’s mu- BY PAM HARBAUGH The first couple to arrive at the home with back spasms.
sic director and principal conductor are Ken and Chris Gorman, both law- The plot becomes increasingly fran-
Christopher Confessore has also been Correspondent yers. They decide it is in the politician’s
involved in IRSA since its beginning, best interest to keep the gunshot acci- tic with the arrival of each new charac-
joining the orchestra at nearly the Forget March Madness. Brevard’s dent in the dark. ter and with the fibs unraveling about
same time IRSA was forming. got its own dream team lined up for the gunshot, the never-seen politician
Melbourne Civic Theatre’s revival of More characters arrive, including and his missing wife.
“It’s an amazing program and so “Rumors.” gossips, a psychiatrist, an accoun-
great for the community that they tant with whiplash and a TV cook It’s basically “add water and stir” for
bring orchestras from around the Indeed, there is an element of
world to the Vero community,” he community theater legend in this CONTINUED ON PAGE 38
says. “We’re certainly honored to ap- production of the Neil Simon farce.
pear on the same roster as some of Some of the area’s best-known comic SPEAKING IN
these amazing national and interna- actors have performed in it multiple STONES
tional guest artists.” times – together.
“I’ve done concerts with Itzhak Perl- Their previous productions sold out JEWELRY BY
man and Joshua Bell,” Confessore mar- and this new one, opening March 23
vels. “Just last week I was standing next in the intimate, 93-seat venue in Mel- JAMIE JOSEPH
to Pablo Villegas playing the guitar. bourne, is quickly following suit. With-
You just felt like you were standing next in hours of tickets going on sale, the
to one of the greatest musicians in the first two Sundays sold out and many
world. He was just so committed and performances only have a scant num-
so passionate, it was amazing.” ber of seats left. Plans are already being
made for additional performances.
IRSA hosts the Brevard Symphony
for two children’s concerts each sea- “I don’t know if there’s a cult sur-
son. More than 1,600 fifth-graders get rounding it, but I know a lot of people
what, for most of them, is their first are excited about seeing it again,” said
taste of the symphony. actor Terrence Girard, who for the
fourth time plays Leonard in the show.
“We consider the youth concerts
to be the most important concerts Written in 1988, Simon’s “Rumors”
we do all season,” says Confessore. ran for a year-and-a-half on Broadway.
“We have worked with classroom Directed by Gene Saks, it had a host of
and music teachers to develop cur- big-name actors including Christine
riculum to help students prepare in Baranski, who won the Tony for her
advance of the concert. They study turn in it.
units on composers, the make-up of
the orchestra, history of the compos- The story takes place north of New
ers and concert etiquette.” York City in a politician’s comfortable
home in Snedens Landing, a ritzy en-
IRSA awards several scholarships to clave on the Hudson River. Friends
high school students who are going on are about to gather to celebrate the
to study music in college. “We’ve given 10th anniversary of the politician’s
away almost $138,000 to about 35 stu- marriage.
dents,” says Crosby.
“It begins with a gunshot and never
“This is a labor of love and a great gift stops,” said director Peg Girard, who
to that community, and it’s our honor also is reprising her role of Cookie.
and pleasure to work with the IRSA,” Like her husband, Terrence, this is her
says Confessore. fourth time in the show.

The final concert of the 2016-2017 sea-
son is April 2 with the Brevard Sympho-
ny Orchestra and a special performance
by violinist Elmar Oliveira . 



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46 Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


BY JOBY WARRICK | WASHINGTON POST military testing program to acquire a more than three decades ago. Over Often, in the past, the new innova-
proven capability.” the years, it has shown ingenuity in tions have been accompanied by de-
On the day of North Korea’s first increasing the range and power of a mands: a clamoring for security guar-
atomic test in 2006, aides to President Pyongyang’s ambition to become stockpile of homemade short- and antees and international respect by a
George W. Bush began phoning foreign an advanced nuclear-armed state is medium-range missiles, all based on paranoid and nearly friendless gov-
capitals to reassure allies startled by not new. North Korea began building Soviet-era designs. ernment that perceives its democratic
Pyongyang’s surprising feat. The test, its first reactor for making plutonium neighbors as plotting its destruction.
aides said, had been mostly a failure: After the first atomic test in 2006,
a botched, 1-kiloton cry for attention then-leader Kim Jong Il threatened to
from a regime that had no warheads launch nuclear missiles unless Wash-
or reliable delivery systems and would ington agreed to face-to-face talks.
never be allowed to obtain them.
North Korea has been slammed
“The current course that they are on instead with ever-tighter United Na-
is unacceptable,” State Department tions sanctions meant to cut off ac-
spokesman Sean McCormack said cess to technology and foreign cash
publicly at the time, “and the interna- flows. Yet, in spite of the trade restric-
tional community is going to act.” tions, diplomatic isolation, threats
and occasional sabotage, the country’s
A decade later, that confidence has weapons programs have continued
all but evaporated. After Pyongyang their upward march, goaded forward
successfully lobbed four intermediate- by a succession of dictators willing to
range missiles into the Sea of Japan sacrifice their citizens’ well-being to
earlier this year, U.S. officials are no grow the country’s military might.
longer seeing North Korea’s weapons
tests as amateurish, attention-grab- And now, in the fifth year of Kim
bing provocations. Instead, they are Jong Un’s rule, progress is coming in
viewed as evidence of a rapidly grow- leaps.
ing threat – and one that increasingly
defies solution. Pyongyang’s fifth and latest nuclear
weapons test occurred on Sept. 9 on
Over the past year, technological the 68th anniversary of North Korea’s
advances in North Korea’s nuclear and founding. As usual, seismic monitor-
missile programs have dramatically ing stations picked up vibrations from
raised the stakes in the years-long the underground blast and quickly
standoff between the United States determined that this one was excep-
and the reclusive communist regime, tional.
according to current and former U.S.
officials and Korea experts. Scientific analyses of the test de-
termined that the new bomb’s explo-
Pyongyang’s growing arsenal has rat- sive yield approached 30 kilotons,
tled key U.S. allies and spurred efforts two times the force of the “Little Boy”
by all sides to develop new first-strike bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan,
capabilities, increasing the risk that a in 1945. The device was twice as pow-
simple mistake could trigger a devas- erful as the bomb North Korea tested
tating regional war, the analysts said. just nine months earlier, and 30 times
stronger than one detonated in 2006 in
The military developments are a remote mountain tunnel.
coming at a time of unusual political
ferment, with a new and largely un- More ominously, North Korea last
tested administration in Washington March displayed a new compact bomb
and with South Korea’s government design, one that appears small enough
coping with an impeachment crisis. to fit inside the nose cone of one of its
Longtime observers say the risk of con- indigenously produced missiles.
flict is higher than it has been in years,
and likely to rise further as North Ko- Regardless of whether the miniature
rean leader Kim Jong Un seeks to fulfill bomb is real or a clever prop, North
his pledge to field long-range missiles Korea does finally appear to be “on
capable of striking U.S. cities. the verge of a nuclear breakout,” said
Robert Litwak, an expert on nuclear
“This is no longer about a lonely proliferation and director of Interna-
dictator crying for attention or de- tional Security Studies at the Wood-
manding negotiations,” said Victor row Wilson International Center for
Cha, a former adviser on North Korea Scholars. He said Pyongyang’s arsenal
to the Bush administration and the is believed to now contain as many as
Korea chair at the Center for Strategic 20 nuclear bombs, along with enough
and International Studies, a Wash- plutonium and highly enriched ura-
ington think tank. “This is a now a nium to make dozens more.

“When I got into this field,” Litwak
said at a North Korean symposium
this month, “I couldn’t have conceived
of North Korea acquiring a nuclear
arsenal approaching half the size of
Great Britain’s.”

The country’s missiles also have
grown more sophisticated. Last year,
North Korea’s military conducted the
first test of a two-stage ballistic mis-

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 47


sile that uses solid fuel – a significant in the weeks since the inauguration of launch of four intermediate-range called the “map of death”: a chart that
advance over the country’s existing President Trump, who, just before tak- missiles appeared intended to show- portrays Japanese and U.S. mainland
liquid-fueled rockets because they can ing office, appeared to taunt Pyongyang case the country’s ability to fire mul- cities as potential targets.
be moved easily and launched quickly. in a Twitter posting, saying that North tiple rockets simultaneously at U.S.
Also in 2016, North Korea broadcast Korea’s plan for building intercontinen- military bases in Japan, increasingly The laughter has now stopped, said
images of engineers testing engines for tal ballistic missiles “won’t happen.” the likelihood that some will penetrate Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on North Ko-
a new class of advanced missiles with anti-missile shields. rean weapons systems. “This idea that
true intercontinental range, potential- A month later, Kim launched one these things were just bargaining chips
ly putting cities in the U.S. mainland of the country’s new solid-fuel mis- North Korea’s state-run media have – something that was true years ago –
within reach. siles, interrupting Trump’s Mar-a-La- occasionally shown propaganda foot- is superseded by the fact that there is
go dinner with visiting Japanese Prime age of Kim huddling with his generals now a rocket force . . . with a command-
The provocations have continued Minister Shinzo Abe. The coordinated over what some analysts have jokingly er and a headquarters and subordinate
bases, all with missiles,” said Lewis, di-
rector of the East Asia Nonproliferation
Program at the James Martin Center
for Nonproliferation Studies. “This is
now a living, breathing thing.”

There have been notable failures
as well. Numerous test rockets have
drifted far off course, and others never
made it off the launchpad. Many ana-
lysts say it could still be several years
before Kim can construct a true ICBM


48 Vero Beach 32963 / March 23, 2017 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


that could reliably reach the U.S. main- Three years ago, alarmed by North mains an exceptionally difficult target While China urged the United States
land, and perhaps longer before he can Korea’s advances on missile systems, the because of its isolation and limited to remain “coolheaded” over North
demonstrate an ability to incorporate a Obama administration ordered the Pen- digital infrastructure. The official sug- Korea and not to turn its back on dia-
nuclear payload into his rocket design. tagon and intelligence agencies to de- gested that at least some of the recent logue, visiting Secretary of State Rex
Yet, already, the basic components for ploy highly classified cyber and electron- missile failures were probably caused Tillerson expressed a “sense of urgen-
a future arsenal of long-range, nuclear- ic measures against North Korea, largely by North Korean errors. “I would be cy” to curb dangerous levels of ten-
tipped missiles already are in place, aimed at undermining the country’s nu- wary of claiming too much,” he said. sion on the Korea peninsula. Tillerson
Lewis said. clear and missile programs, two former had earlier declared that diplomacy
senior administration officials said. “We were trying to use all the tools has failed to persuade North Korea to
“The ICBM program is real,” Lewis that were available to us in order to abandon its nuclear program and omi-
said. “They’ve showed us their static Aspects of the initiatives were de- degrade as much of their capabilities nously warned that all options were
engine test. They showed us the mock- scribed in a recent report by the New as possible,” a second former official on the table to counter the threat from
up of the nuclear warhead. They have York Times. The effort was further in- said. “But we just did not have nearly Pyongyang.
done everything short of actually test- tensified last year, the officials said, in as much game as we should have.”
ing the ICBM. When they do test it, the response to new intelligence assess- As more missiles streak across North
first time it will probably fail. But even- ments showing North Korea inching In handoff meetings with Trump, Korea’s eastern coast, Japanese and
tually it will work. And when it works, closer to its goal of fielding long-range Obama described the gathering threat South Korean officials are pledging
people are going to freak out.” ballistic missiles. in stark terms, calling it the most se- increased investments in defensive
rious proliferation challenge facing shields and highly accurate, conven-
For decades, the United States and The clandestine effort begun un- the new administration, according to tionally armed missiles designed to
its East Asian allies have tried an ar- der President Obama appears to have aides familiar with the discussions. preemptively destroy North Korean
ray of strategies to blunt North Korea’s borne fruit, judging from a rash of launch sites and command centers if
progress, ranging from diplomacy to missile failures in the past year, said The Trump White House has since an attack seems imminent. North Ko-
covert operations to defensive anti- one former official familiar with the convened three deputies’ committee rea has responded with similar threats,
missile shields. Lately, the search for program. The officials spoke on the meetings on North Korea and ordered describing its recent missile launches
solutions has taken on an intensity not condition of anonymity to discuss the a new, top-to-bottom threat assess- as a dry run for a preemptive attack
seen in years. secret operations. ment. White House officials say that on U.S. bases in Japan, the presumed
Trump is weighing all options, from a staging ground for forces preparing to
As diplomatic initiatives have “We’re stopping shipments. We’re new diplomatic initiative to enhanced come to South Korea’s aid if war breaks
stalled, U.S., Japanese and South Kore- making sure things don’t work the way military capabilities, possibly includ- out.
an officials have broadened the search they’re supposed to,” one former of- ing a highly controversial return of tac-
for measures to ensure that Pyong- ficial said. “We’ve been able to delay tical nuclear weapons to South Korea In the past, such a strike would be
yang’s missiles remain grounded, or things, in some cases probably by a lot. for the first time since the early 1990s. seen as suicidal, as it would certainly
— in the event of a launch — can be It’s a cat-and-mouse game.” result in a devastating counterattack
brought down before they reach their The administration dispatched Sec- against North Korea that would prob-
target. The efforts have proven to be But the second official, familiar with retary of State Rex Tillerson to East ably destroy the regime itself. But Kim
partly successful at best. the Pentagon’s cyberwarfare efforts, Asia last week to confer with counter-
acknowledged that North Korea re- parts in Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul.

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