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Published by Vero Beach 32963 Media, 2018-02-15 12:45:32

02/15/2018 ISSUE 07


Island investors not rattled by
market roller coaster. P12
Theatre Guild marks
60th anniversary. P30
County eyes Aviation Blvd.

extension from U.S. 1 to hospital. P11

For breaking news visit

MY VERO Johnny Benjamin’s
woes started with
BY RAY MCNULTY Michigan pot bust

Mall bans younger teens
unless they’re with parent

This is stupid. BY BETH WALTON
That was my first reaction Staff Writer
upon learning that the Indian
River Mall has begun enforc- Duke phaseout seen natural part of Cleveland takeover Dr. Johnny Benjamin’s legal
ing a “Code of Conduct” that troubles related to illicit drugs
prohibits anyone under age BY MICHELLE GENZ momentous, if much less ex- It was 2005 when IRMC started 10 months before In-
17 from being on the premises Staff Writer tensive, affiliation with a presti- leadership decided to sub- dian River County Sheriff’s
unless they are accompanied gious institution: Duke Univer- scribe to the Duke Health af- Office deputies arrested him
by a parent or legal guardian. Long before the Cleveland sity Health System, whose main filiation for its planned Welsh at his island home in October
For the mall’s ownership Clinic offered to lend its aura of campus is a nationally ranked, Heart Center. It was a major for allegedly masterminding
and management to essen- renown to Indian River Medi- internationally recognized aca- stride for the community hos- a cross-country counterfeit
tially ban a sizable segment cal Center, there was another demic medical center. drug trafficking operation in-
of their visitors seemed silly, CONTINUED ON PAGE 6 volving fake oxycodone pills
or at least counterproductive, laced with fentanyl.
considering the place already
is struggling to attract enough Newly filed court docu-
customers to survive. ments suggest the Vero Beach
It didn’t make sense for spine surgeon, who is behind
them to turn away the dollars bars in Miami awaiting trial
spent by the swarm of teenag- on federal drug charges that
ers buzzing around the place, could send him to prison
particularly at the food court for life, struck a plea deal in
and arcade, especially on Fri- Michigan after a state trooper
day and Saturday nights. stumbled upon a marijuana
grow operation linked to him.
Christmas tree-like
cell tower rises over a 115-foot pine tree-type Polish-American group wins lengthy
Shores town offices structure to the town’s legal battle to reclaim club on U.S. 1
BY LISA ZAHNER Shores cell tower. PHOTO BY GORDON RADFORD BY BETH WALTON the old club and transferred its
Staff Writer The main tower structure Staff Writer assets to a new Vero Beach So-
was delivered in two pieces cial Club violated the original
Indian River Shores’ by truck on Feb. 6 and as- A group of Polish Americans club’s articles of incorporation.
stealth “monopine” cell sembled like a Christmas won a major battle in a long-
tower went up almost as tree. Then the “branches” running legal dispute Monday “The articles are clear: the
quickly as Jack’s famous were installed and covered when an Indian River County dissolution of this corpora-
beanstalk, hoisted into place with special “socks” de- judge ruled that a 2015 take- tion required the vote of the
and adorned with green fi- signed to mimic pine foli- over of the old Polish-American general membership and ap-
berglass branches, adding age, but not to block radio- Social Club was unauthorized. proval of the general member-
frequency waves. ship,” he said. “If they didn’t
The Hon. Paul Kanarek found have authority to dissolve the
“I was pleased with how that action by an insurgent corporation, they didn’t have
board of directors that dissolved

February 15, 2018 Volume 11, Issue 7 Newsstand Price $1.00 British invasion
motors into McKee
News 1-12 Faith 81 Pets 73 TO ADVERTISE CALL for classic show. P34
Arts 37-42 Games 57-59 Real Estate 83-96 772-559-4187
Books 52 Health 61-65 St. Ed’s 72
Dining 74 Insight 43-60 Style 66-71 FOR CIRCULATION
Editorial 50 People 13-36 Wine 75 CALL 772-226-7925

© 2018 Vero Beach 32963 Media LLC. All rights reserved.

2 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


Shores cell tower had positive comments. Several said versity to withstand wind speeds up to “Due to the flood-zone, all of the
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 ‘It’s not as tall as I pictured it would be.’” 140 mph. equipment cabinets will need to be fab-
ricated and that will take some time,”
fast the tower was up and branched,” Mayor Brian Barefoot concurred, “It will most likely lose pine needles Stabe relayed from DataPath. “AT&T
said Town Manager Robbie Stabe. describing the tower as “less obvious in a hurricane but the tower is insured is working on running the fiber-optic
than what I expected. You hardly see it for that and they can easily be replaced cables from their cabinet on Fred Tuerk
Stabe said there were no surprises in from A1A and only when across from as needed,” Stabe said. Drive to the site and electricians are
the construction, which made up a lit- it on Fred Tuerk. I’m very pleased with scheduling the electrical connections.”
tle bit for all the many delays in years the look.” DataPath Tower, the company cho-
-long planning, approval and permit- sen by the town to permit, construct DataPath will be bringing in fill and
ting process. The 108-foot tower, which extends and market the tower, has secured a grading the 50-foot by 50-foot tower
to 115-feet with the faux branches deal for Verizon to use the tower. That site and prepping it for a fence and
“The tower is exactly how Larson on top, is rated according to the 2014 transmission equipment can be in- landscaping.
Camouflage depicted it and I person- Florida Building Code to withstand stalled now, but Stabe said he’s waiting
ally think it looks even better than the wind speeds of up to 160 miles per on a definite schedule. Another piece of good news for town
pictures they sent us,” he said. “Every hour. According to manufacturer Lar- cell phone users: A second major car-
resident that has shown up at the site son Camouflage, the “branches” are Some other technical facets of the rier wants to broadcast from the tower.
wind-tunnel tested at Texas A&M Uni- project must come together in the
meantime. “AT&T has applied for space and are
currently in negotiations with Data-
Path so I would expect them to soon
get busy installing their equipment as
well,” Stabe said. 

My Vero


So I put on my reporter’s hat and
went to work.

I drove to the mall – admittedly, a
place I don’t frequent – and talked to
people. I called Mike Kohan, the mall’s
owner. I found on social media dozens
of public comments expressing both
criticism of and support for the paren-
tal-accompaniment requirement.

And now, having mentally digested
all that I’ve seen and heard, the change
in policy doesn’t seem so stupid. It
seems wise, maybe even necessary.

Certainly, it was worth a try.
“We didn’t do this for no reason,”
Kohan said of the decision to require
adult supervision of the 16-and-under
crowd. “Some things were happening
and we were receiving complaints.”
Kohan did not offer specifics or cite
the particularly egregious incidents
that prompted the mall to implement
its controversial policy, which went
into effect Feb. 1 and will be revisited
after 60 days.
But Facebook did.
TheVero Beach Eyes and Ears Neigh-
borhood Cyber Watch page provided
an ongoing, informative, sometimes-
emotional debate that was as madden-
ing as it was entertaining.
Apparently, far too many unsu-
pervised teens had been conducting
themselves boorishly, acting like thugs,
and the problem was getting worse.
The comments posted cited ev-
erything from the too-public use of
disgusting language and blatant dis-
respect for adults to allegations of
shoplifting and destruction of property.
There were reports of pseudo-tough
teens running in packs and intimidat-
ing older customers. Some posters
said they had witnessed physical al-
tercations that prompted calls to the
sheriff’s office.

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 3


“I am actually fearful of going to the mall’s management felt compelled to That’s true, to a certain extent. But were built across America and teens
mall, even in the daytime,” one poster do something to protect its custom- it’s not the mall’s job – or the security from coast to coast flocked to them
wrote.“I was in line for food when three ers, employers and itself, as well as the staff’s responsibility – to raise our chil- with their friends in search of “some-
teen boys came up, stood on my right well-behaved teenagers who might be dren and teach them how to conduct thing to do.”
side with the biggest bumping into me harmed by their peers’ reckless antics. themselves respectfully in public.
and then stepping ahead of me. To this day, walking into a mall
Some critics of the policy say it’s up You want to blame somebody for fills me with nostalgia, spurring fond
“He acted as though he didn’t know to the mall’s security staff to police this new policy? Blame the parents memories of my own teen years,
I was there, and the other two were the place and, with the help of law who didn’t do their jobs. when my neighborhood buddies and
just watching and poised for me to say enforcement when necessary, protect I would go to a local mall to catch a
something,” the post continued, add- the innocent from the disruptive kids. Maybe that’s what has changed over
ing, “My young grandson was with me, the past 50 years as shopping malls CONTINUED ON PAGE 4
7 at the time. No one else in line paid
any attention. Extremely intimidating.” NEW LISTING

Others supportive of the new policy Exclusively John’s Island
Indulge in breathtaking sunsets, multiple fairway, lake and scenic John’s
 They saw teens “break the sliding Island Sound views from this exceptional 3BR/3BA retreat with desirable SW
doors open and then gang up on the exposure. Centrally located on a large corner lot, bright interiors and lush golf
security guards, pushing, shoving and course and sound vistas envelop you. French doors throughout allow ample
trying to fight them” before deputies natural light and access to outdoor living areas. Features include 3,400± GSF,
arrived and arrested the young thugs. gracious living room with fireplace, family room with wet bar, state-of-the art
kitchen with center island, beautiful master suite and a side entry 2-car garage.
 Seeing a “gang of 11 or 12 of them 281 Indian Harbor Road : $2,350,000
completely terrorize the food court
area one day last fall . . .” three championship golf courses : 17 har-tru courts : beach club : squash
health & fitness center : pickleball : croquet : vertical equity membership
 Observing “tons of kids, ages 10
to late teens,” unsupervised and act- 772.231.0900 : Vero Beach, FL :
ing like fools, running and screaming.
“The boys grabbing young girls by the
breast or butt.”

Another poster to the Cyber Watch
page recalled visits to the mall’s movie
theater, where teens weren’t only loud
and disruptive – uttering profanities,
rudely talking and using their smart
phones to take photos during the show,
propping their feet up on the backs of
the occupied seats in front of them,
throwing popcorn at other customers
– but one couple was having sex two
rows behind where he was seated.

When anyone would ask the teens
to be quiet or behave themselves, the
response was always the same: “(Ex-
pletive) off.”

And just so you know, it’s not only
older mall-goers who are complaining
about the teens’ behavior and support
the mall’s actions.

A self-described 18-year-old poster
wrote that the “same 12- to 16-year-
olds” show up every weekend and
“all they do is walk around and cause
problems,” adding, “They have to be
watched like 2-year-olds and they’re
just making it an all-around bad ex-
perience for everyone involved.”

To be fair – the policy is unfair.
As several Cyber Watch page posters
argued: There are plenty of mall-going
teens who were properly raised, be-
have appropriately and don’t require
adult supervision.
Why shouldn’t they be allowed to
hang out at the mall with their friends
and without their mom or dad?
According to those I spoke with at
the mall – and contrary to what some
parents posted on the Cyber Watch
page – the good kids might still out-
number the bad kids, but the number
of trouble-making teens is increasing.
And the behavior of too many teens
is getting worse, so much so that the

4 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


My Vero business? Will economics, rather than sets once set aside to promote the cul- to decide that, ‘Yes, membership had
public safety, determine whether the ture and heritage of the Eastern Euro- the right to approve or disapprove of
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 3 policy will be revoked or amended? pean nation. the board’s action.’”

movie, or to eat, or to just hang out in I don’t know how much money teens Following years of disagreement over The resolution of this specific legal
hopes of meeting girls. were spending during their weekend club’s direction, the board of directors question will chart a pathway for this
mall visits. I don’t know if it was enough then in place formed a new corporation case to finally move forward, he said.
Sometimes, we rode our bikes. Some- to justify the damage done by the ag- – the Vero Beach Social Club – in 2015.
times, a parent dropped us off. When gressive teens who were scaring away It then transferred the Polish-American Members of the Polish-American
we turned 16, we borrowed mom’s car shoppers, intimidating older custom- Club’s assets to the new nonprofit and, Social Club filed their first civil com-
and drove ourselves. ers, destroying property and shoplifting. without a vote by its membership, dis- plaint in October 2015, not long after
solved the original corporation. the board dissolved their club.
Our parents weren’t there, and they I do know such behavior should not
didn’t need to be. be tolerated anywhere, not only at the Attorneys for the Polish faction ar- Around that time membership and
mall, where the new policy requires gue this was unfair – that while the revenue from social events like dinners
We weren’t perfect kids. We got in- adult supervision of kids 16 and under. club’s bylaws left financial and busi- and dances was shrinking. There were
volved in our share of mischief. But ness affairs to the board, major deci- some 750 participants in 2007 to just
we were raised to respect our elders, That’s essentially banning them, sions were “subject to the approval of 325 by 2015. Between 2014 and 2015
respect authority, and respect other because hanging out at the mall with regular membership,” including any alone, revenue dropped nearly $40,000.
people’s property. friends is not something teens want to expenditures over $499.
do with their moms and dads in tow. The board of directors thought it could
We were taught that actions had But given the troubling circumstanc- “It is unreasonable and indeed non- grow the club by expanding cultural of-
consequences – and, trust me when I es, what else could be done? sensical for an interpretation of the ferings. Polka dances turned into Salsa
tell you, those consequences could be bylaws to provide that the same board night, and the perogies and potato pan-
quite unpleasant. Parental supervision should begin that can’t spend $500, can simply cakes were replaced by meat loaf and
at home. give away 10 acres of property and a lasagna. A newsletter soon boasted, “You
Clearly, parenting has changed 5,000-square-foot clubhouse,” argued don’t have to be Polish to join this club.”
through the years, and so have children. Not at the mall.  attorney Casey Walker on behalf of the
We live in a far more permissive, com- Polish members. Meetings became so tense the
plex, connected and dangerous world. Polish American Club police had to be called, said Lynne
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 “We are not here today asking the Hampton, an attorney for the board
The teen-behavior problem at our court to determine why this was done, that dissolved the old club. The prem-
mall was merely a microcosm of what’s authority to distribute the property.” whether this was a thoughtful and nu- ise was picketed. There were threats of
going on in many places, which is why Kanarek’s order comes two-and-a- anced response to changing demo- violence. This type of emergency, out
the mall’s management has received graphic and economic conditions, or of the ordinary situation, called for a
both praise and criticism for taking a half-years into the legal battle over the whether it was just a brazen theft. different interpretation of the bylaws,
position. clubhouse on U.S. 1 near 39th Avenue according to Hampton.
and an estimated $1.25 million in as- “All we’re asking the court to do is to
Did Kohan and his team go too far? construe the bylaws in such a way as The governing body sought the
Will the adult-supervision require- help of its legal counsel when decid-
ment put too large a dent in the mall’s

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 5


ing what to do, she said. The club “was Such isn’t the case today, said Pol- terested in continuing this fight and ing. It’s good. It’s a good feeling.”
about to go under.” ish Club President Jerry Cygler as Pol- building a group to benefit the com- In the wake of Monday’s ruling of
ish Club members celebrated outside munity, added Cygler. A Polka dance
The board had no choice but to take the courthouse chambers. Member- held at The Moose lodge Sunday night partial summary judgement in favor
the action it did, added board attorney ship is at 170 people, even with the attracted nearly 100 attendees. of the Polish Club, the club can file
Katie Merwin. Attendance had gotten club operating in exile, he said. additional petitions with the court
so low there wasn’t even a quorum. “We “Finally, the judge is listening to seeking to regain control of the U.S. 1
were in a state of disarray,” she said. A new, younger generation is in- the people,” Cygler said. “He’s listen- property and other assets. 

6 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


Duke affiliation Duke Health say the university medi- be around much longer anyway. No- With the Duke affiliation, the hos-
cal powerhouse is fine with the exit, if body’s upset about it. Duke complete- pital also scored a top doctor to direct
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 and when it occurs. ly understands. They have no prob- the Scully-Welsh Cancer Center. Dr.
lems with it at all.” James Grichnik, a Harvard Medical
pital and one that would shape its fu- “By their nature and almost by de- School graduate with a Ph.D. in cell bi-
ture in ways barely imaginable at the sign, affiliations all come to an end,” If the Duke-IRMC relationship is ology from Baylor College of Medicine
time. said Jamie Burgdorfer of Juniper Ad- indeed entering its twilight, the ben- in Houston, is a nationally recognized
visory, hired to guide IRMC through efit arising from it continues to shine. melanoma expert who previously di-
A decade later, IRMC signed on with the current partnering process. “And Patients continue to participate in im- rected the melanoma programs at
Duke for a second center of excel- that’s fine. It’s not a sign of failure. portant clinical trials and benefit from the University of Miami and at Duke.
lence, the Scully-Welsh Cancer Center. They all end because everybody’s cir- advances in genetics and other diag- He took over as director of the cancer
Together the heart and cancer centers cumstance changes. The two parties nostic tools under development at center in January 2016, shortly after it
brought the aging 37th Street hospital to the contract have individual cir- Duke. Programs begun under Duke’s opened. His wife Dr. Katherine Grich-
into the 21st century, with state-of- cumstances and they don’t want to do watchful eye now stand on their own, nik, a cardiovascular anesthesiologist,
the-art treatment capabilities, excel- it anymore.” monitored remotely for the most part. was named IRMC’s first Chief Quality
lent doctors and in the case of the can- And staff recruited, vetted and trained Officer later that year.
cer center, a physical extension of the “We got to know the people at Duke by Duke seem more than willing to
hospital that would strikingly update and have nothing but a phenomenal stay on to serve under new leadership. “When somebody is looking at leav-
its rear façade. opinion of them,” said Burgdorfer, ing a successful practice or leaving a
who first heard of Vero Beach when “They basically gave us the playbook major metropolitan area, it’s a scary
Now, it appears the Duke brand may Duke spoke of its affiliation here. “I in how to set up a successful heart pro- proposition for them,” Longenberger
be replaced by an even bigger name, probably couldn’t have found a better gram. I think that helped us attract the said. “I think knowing that they were
and in a far more extensive integra- partner (for the cancer and heart cen- kind of talented physicians we have,” going to have a connection with an ac-
tion. With a letter of intent due to be ters).” said Janet Longenberger, IRMC’s asso- ademic center helped. They knew they
signed any day, the Cleveland Clinic ciate vice-president of cardio-thoracic were going to have colleagues that
will enter into exclusive negotiations He says physician leaders at IRMC services. She was the first administra- they could bounce ideas off of.”
with IRMC to take over the publicly- all spoke highly of the Duke affiliation. tor of the Duke Heart Center when it
owned hospital. opened in 2006. Dr. Joshua Kieval, an interventional
“They helped develop very high- cardiologist at IRMC, formerly prac-
Even absent a takeover, letting go of quality programs in cancer and car- Longenberger credits the Duke con- ticed at West Palm’s JFK Medical Cen-
Duke may be a natural evolution for diac care. They lent their expertise nection with attracting top talent to ter, along with Dr. Jay Midwall. “Duke
the Vero hospital. Already Duke doc- to develop clinical protocols and re- the heart program, including Dr. Cary vetted us before we were even offered
tors are on site less and less. And ad- cruit physicians, and now it’s up and Stowe, a highly respected cardiovas- a contract [at IRMC]. My partner went
visors in the possible Cleveland Clinic running. As a relationship it’s been cular surgeon who remains director of up to Duke and was interviewed. They
takeover who’ve already spoken with quite successful. Even if Cleveland the program today.
Clinic wasn’t coming in, it might not

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 7


went through our CVs and our num- on prospective partners, not only for tained patient volumes “above the ner – could have on IRMC’s standing.
bers. It wasn’t just a rubber stamp. the advanced healthcare offerings business plan.” Cleveland Clinic’s distal campuses,
They had to make sure that we were already in place, but the anticipated including in Broward County, don’t
appropriate not only in what we do support for future efforts, all but guar- Profitable or not, the centers came come up to the level of their mother-
in our practice but to coordinate with anteed to be buoyed by the town’s re- up again and again as suitors laid out ship. Cleveland Weston is rated “high
what Duke’s policies are.” markable philanthropy. their reasons for wanting IRMC in performing” in cancer care with a
their portfolios. score of 52.1 out of 100, but it is not
Once they were on staff at the Vero “I thought the suitors were very im- ranked in heart care with a score of
hospital, Duke followed the physicians pressed with those two centers,” said In the end, IRMC officials chose to only 40.8. In addition, it is ranked No.
closely. “It’s changed a little bit over Burgdorfer. “You don’t find centers of negotiate exclusively with Cleveland 42 in gastroenterology and No. 31 in
the years, but initially there was a lot excellence of that quality in towns of Clinic, whose main campus boasts orthopedics.
of interest,” said Keival. “Duke moni- your size, and it’s because you have the highest-rated heart program in the
tored us. We had to report almost on people who gave generously. That’s country with a perfect score in the U.S. As for Vero, there is plenty of oppor-
a monthly basis – the stents, balloon very helpful – and very unusual. It News and World Report rankings: 100 tunity to up the excellent in its centers
and cath procedures. And, obviously, certainly had a positive impact on the out of 100. Its cancer program ranks of excellence. Right now – not surpris-
any problems with morbidity and any impression that the finalists had when seventh, with a score of 75 out of 100. ingly considering its size – IRMC is not
mortalities were immediately sent up they visited Vero Beach.” even ranked on the U.S. News list. Its
to Duke for review.” Overall, Cleveland Clinic’s main heart program has a score of 26.5 out
On those visits, there is little doubt campus is ranked No. 2 in the U.S. of 100. Though its patient services, in-
Today the association relies more that the hospital’s curb appeal was That is “rarified air,” as one former cluding cardiac rehab and hospice, are
on teleconferencing. But a decade ago, enhanced by the two centers. Having IRMC board member put it, though ranked excellent, its 30-day survival
Duke physicians came to Vero twice a a Duke affiliation likely didn’t hurt ei- Duke University Hospital, the flag- rate is below average, with nurse staff-
year, going over difficult cases and giv- ther, and the marketability of the cen- ship of Duke Health, ranked a very ing, advanced technologies, patient
ing their opinions on approaches in ters has proved especially important respectable No. 17 on U.S. News’ Best safety and patient volumes all ranked
care. Between visits, IRMC doctors felt as both require a high volume of pa- Hospitals list. As for programs, Duke average.
free to consult with Duke. “They were tients to be profitable. is ranked 11th in cardiology and heart
always very receptive,” Keival says. surgery, and 38th nationally in cancer. Its overall cancer program wasn’t
Whether or to what degree profit- scored in the most recent U.S. News
“Duke helped build a structure,” ability has been achieved isn’t known Cleveland’s focus on cancer care report, perhaps because it has existed
said Longenberger. “We report all of to the public; the hospital’s manage- expanded last year, when on its main only two years. Two treatments were
our data to national registries and ment company does not break out campus it opened the $276 million graded, however: lung cancer surgery
have since the very beginning.” such centers in its public financial re- Taussig Cancer Center, a massive sev- and colon cancer surgery each earned
ports. But the cancer center’s director en-story building centralizing outpa- an “average.”
Most significant to the hospital’s Lori McCormick says confidently that, tient care from surgery to social work.
long-term outlook is the impression in just two years, Scully-Welsh has at- CONTINUED ON PAGE 8
the cancer and heart programs made It remains to be seen how much in-
fluence Cleveland Clinic – or any part-

8 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


Duke affiliation tals in urban areas, Scully-Welsh Can-
cer Center feels like a neighborhood
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 7 clinic, albeit a serene, spacious and
elegant one. In design, it is very much
Cleveland Clinic, which is run by its in keeping with the Cleveland Clinic
foundation, poured close to half-a-bil- ethos that puts the word “empathy” in
lion dollars into a new cancer center, its architectural imperatives.
which dwarfs Vero’s investment.
Scully-Welsh adds a striking and
It was IRMC’s own fundraising foun- modern rear façade to the main hospi-
dation that provided the money for the tal building. Inside the cancer center,
cancer center here. After it announced much as at Cleveland Clinic, the emo-
a $30 million fundraising campaign tional aspects of good design become
for the center, two island couples – Bill obvious. The calming, uncluttered in-
and Marlynn Scully, and Pat and Carol terior with minimalist furnishings are
Welsh – stepped up, each donating in a neutral palette. Like Cleveland,
$12 million. That philanthropy en- streams of mood-lifting natural light
abled the hospital to enlarge its plans pour through floor-to-ceiling win-
for the center, which ultimately cost dows, not only in the lobby waiting ar-
$49 million. eas but in the spaces curtained off for
Pat Welsh is the former president
of Citicorp Venture Capital who went There, the view of lushly landscaped
on to co-found the investment firm gardens is uplifting even for a healthy
WCAS in 1979; Bill Scully worked on visitor. Signs honoring donors’ losses –
Wall Street before joining the invest- Andrew’s Garden, Sally’s Garden – fur-
ment firm Twin Oaks Partners in Cha- ther convey the momentous task the
tham, New Jersey. center daily takes on.

The Scullys and the Welshes, who The grasses and bromeliads outside
have given generously to other hos- are in counterpoint to the life-extend-
pital expansions, have made clear ing technologies within. Scully-Welsh’s
their desire to make high-quality outpatient center offers radiation
care available close to home for their therapy via a Varian Truebeam accel-
Vero friends and neighbors, as well as erator, remarkable for its high speed
county residents at large. and accuracy while accommodating
for movement as the patient breathes.
Indeed, compared to large hospi-

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 9


Other equipment for the center in- “The last time I was here, a doctor a year ago at IRMC, TAVR programs guys started to pass each other in the
cludes a DaVinci surgical robot, and a from Duke was actually present and are expensive to start and require spe- halls and have conversations and next
new tool for lung biopsy called elec- he made a presentation. We even have cialized training; they typically aren’t thing I know, they’re like, hey, we want
tromagnetic navigation bronchosco- medical students from FSU who come found in small community hospitals. to have a cardio-oncology program.
py. It uses a GPS-type sensor at the tip because they want to learn.” And it just sort of took off.”
of a catheter that extends the reach of Two years ago, the center added an
a bronchoscope, enabling the physi- On the cancer center’s second floor electrophysiology lab to treat arrhyth- Two weeks ago, the cancer center
cian to gather tissue samples deep are doctors’ offices and a spacious mia, including atrial fibrillation. Led called again, she says: this time, they
down in the lungs. waiting room, empty on a Friday lunch by Dr. Brett Faulknier, the lab includes want to create an oncology rehab to
hour last week but packed just the day a new device called Mediguide, only mirror the heart rehab program. “I
A spectrum of practitioners from before, officials said. the second in the state that allows thought, wow, that’s different. I don’t
surgeons to chemo nurses meet week- Faulknier to track the procedure with know anybody that’s doing that kind
ly to discuss challenging cases in ad- Where the new cancer center exten- minimal radiation exposure to both of care.”
vance of treatment. Occasionally, an sion joins the existing hospital, patient patient and provider.
expert from Duke Health is brought rooms dedicated to cancer care were “On the eve of all these changes,
in via video-conferencing. At IRMC, gutted and enlarged, allowing for a “This assemblage of technology is we’re looking at the heart program
the weekly meetings can be standing fold-out bed for a family member or state of the art,” said Jeff Passaretti, and kind of doing a gap analysis to see
room only, their benefits extending friend. Existing operating rooms were manager of six departments including what it is we do and don’t have,” said
beyond patient care to continuing ed- refurbished to accommodate various cath labs, echo cardiology and electro- Longenberger. “I’m always amazed
ucation for medical professionals. cancer surgeries. physiology. He says he sees 2,000 pa- that we really kind of already have ev-
tients a year in the cath labs and elec- erything.” 
“This room is full” during the week- In contrast to its cancer counter- trophysiology lab combined.
ly sessions, says McCormick, opening part, the Welsh Heart Center is more Johnny Benjamin
the door to a well-appointed con- of a program than a structure, its com- Passaretti also takes pride in “door CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
ference room, its U-shaped tables ponents mostly clustered around the to balloon time,” the time it takes to
formed around monitors for remote emergency room entrance. One facet get a heart attack patient from the Benjamin, 52, was booked in the
participants. “It’s very well-attended.” still in development actually begins ER to the point where the heart is ac- Sanilac County Jail Dec.14, 2016, two
outside the ER – it is a program that al- cessed via catheter. “We’re at 52 min- months after police responded to an
“It’s an opportunity for collabora- lows emergency responders to trans- utes. That puts us in the top 15 percent alleged electricity theft at the home.
tion that includes community doctors, mit EKG results by cell phone to on- in the country.”
even physicians who are not involved call heart doctors. The property in rural Sanilac Town-
in a case, but they may have some- Today, the two centers are collabo- ship had been deeded earlier that year
thing like this. They can observe, hear Among the most recent offerings of rating in a cardio-oncology program, to Marsha Benjamin, a woman the
the discussion, ask questions of their the heart center is TAVR, or transcath- overseeing patients on chemotherapy doctor claims he married years ago in
own,” says the hospital foundation’s eter aortic valve replacement, a less whose regimen may damage their
newly named president, Liz Bruner, invasive technique that uses a cath- hearts. “It’s been so exciting to watch CONTINUED ON PAGE 10
who gives frequent tours to donors. eter to replace the valve without sur- this spring up naturally out of the can-
gically opening the chest. Added only cer center,” said Longenberger. “The

10 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


Johnny Benjamin Benjamin was arrested for allegedly The conversation was on speaker him to grow plants at the residence,
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 9 dealing fentanyl-laced pills. phone and Benjamin’s father-in-law Craig wrote. The officer told him this
was shaking his head back and forth as was not true, but he continued to
Vero Beach, though federal prosecu- The Michigan State Police started he listened, Craig observed. “He stated deny wrongdoing and wouldn’t let her
tors point out the county has no mar- investigating the doctor on Oct. 19, he believed Benjamin was lying to him search the home.
riage certificate for the two on file. 2016, after an electrician arrived at his so he was going to tell me what was
family’s property to check the meters, going on,” she wrote. “I advised Benjamin I knew there
Benjamin was charged with violat- according to a state police incident were plants in the house and now was
ing Michigan’s Controlled Substance report introduced as evidence in the Benjamin’s father-in-law then told the time to be honest because honesty
Act, accused of marijuana produc- federal case last month. the state trooper the doctor and his goes a long way,” Craig wrote. “I asked
tion and the possession of dangerous daughter had purchased the home in him again how many plants were in the
drugs, according to records obtained Something at the Michigan home 2016 and were growing marijuana in- house. He stated there were none as far
by Vero Beach 32963. wasn’t right, noted Trooper Bethany side. He said Benjamin had about 60 as he knew. I asked him for permission,
Craig. An electrician had installed a plants, but that none had been har- then, to search the house if there were
The case was later bound over to cir- new meter and in only one hour the vested yet. no plants inside. He hesitated again.”
cuit court where the doctor faced alle- house used 6 kilowatts of power – a
gations of maintaining a drug house number “which is extremely high, es- Benjamin’s father-in-law said the As she applied for a search warrant
and the delivery or manufacture of pecially for a house that is vacant,” doctor had told him the operation was at the scene, Benjamin repeatedly
between 5 and 45 kilos of marijuana. Craig wrote in the report. legal – that he was allowed to grow tried to call his father-in-law, but the
medical marijuana for his patients. The man was angry and refused to answer
The record was sealed, which makes “At this point due to the electricity man “was skeptical because he had his phone, according to the trooper.
it hard to be sure exactly what hap- issue, I suspected a possible marijua- not seen paperwork yet, but he trusted The trooper eventually got the search
pened next, but according to Assistant na grow or meth lab,” she said. his daughter and her husband,” state warrant and Benjamin was arrested
United States Attorney John McMillan, trooper Craig wrote. “[He] did not be- two months later in December 2016.
the felony case was dismissed after Ben- A man claiming to be the caretaker lieve Johnny would take those kinds of
jamin pleaded guilty to a lesser offense of the property met police at the resi- chances by growing marijuana illegally.” Despite his arrest on drug manu-
in exchange for a diversionary sentence. dence. He introduced himself as Ben- facturing charges and his subsequent
jamin’s father-in-law and did not re- Doctors in Florida are not permit- plea deal, Benjamin was able to con-
Even though Benjamin avoided jail spond when asked if there were drugs ted to distribute medical marijuana, tinue practicing medicine in Florida,
time – and managed to keep practic- inside the home. Instead, he got the nor are they allowed to legally grow or where he is to this day a licensed phy-
ing medicine in Indian River County Vero Beach surgeon on the phone. sell it, according to the Department of sician and controlled substance pro-
– the marijuana venture was “a fully Health. Medical marijuana is only le- vider in Indian River County.
operational commercial grow house Benjamin told the trooper that he was gally dispensed in Florida by approved
that the defendant engineered in a doctor in Florida, and that he didn’t and regulated Medical Marijuana Neither the Michigan State Police
Michigan,” according to the federal know anything about electric larceny, Treatment Centers. nor the Sanilac County Prosecutor’s
prosecutor, who described the opera- Craig recalled. When Craig offered to go Office would comment on the case.
tion in an October court hearing after inside and see if there was some sort of Benjamin later told the state troop- Both agencies declined to say if they
malfunction, Benjamin acted confused er he thought the state’s laws allowed alerted Florida medical authorities
and didn’t grant her permission, she said.


for School Board, District #4
“For Our Children”

Paid for by Randy Heimler
for School Board District #4

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 11


of the doctor’s arrest and subsequent regulatory authority and sent to the COUNTY EYES AVIATION BLVD.
plea. The ProSpine Center did not re- board’s probable cause panel for review. EXTENSION TO THE HOSPITAL
spond to a request for comment.
“According to our license verification BY RAY MCNULTY chasing the right-of-way needed for
The DEA, whose work with federal site, Dr. Benjamin holds a clear and ac- Staff Writer the road to its construction – probably
prosecutors against Benjamin is ongo- tive license with no public complaints will take five years to complete, "as-
ing, also refused to speak about his case. or discipline on his record,” Dalton With 37th Street – lined by dozens suming we have the funding."
said last week, even as Benjamin re- of medical offices, rehab facilities and
In general, the federal agency would mained in jail on federal drug charges. imaging centers – nearing its maxi- The cost of the project was not yet
not be in a position to notify profes- mum traffic capacity, county officials known.
sional accrediting agencies of an arrest The DEA began investigating Benja- are devising a plan to make it easier
until after its investigation is complete, min in 2016 after a Palm Beach woman to get to Indian River Medical Center In his PowerPoint presentation to
said Anne-Judith Lambert, a spokes- died from an overdose and the fentanyl- from the west of town by extending commissioners attending the MPO's
woman for the Miami field office. laced oxycodone found in her posses- Aviation Boulevard from U.S. 1 north- December meeting, Matson said ex-
sion was allegedly traced to him. He was east to the hospital. tending Aviation Boulevard would
The American legal standard is not to arrested in October after being stopped ease a growing traffic congestion on
shut someone down on suspicion, she in the Melbourne airport while trying to "We're very early in the process," 37th Street by diverting more than
said. “We gather evidence as fast as we board a flight to Philadelphia with 4,000 county Public Works Director Rich Sz- 5,600 trips per day to the new roadway
can to build a good case that will shut counterfeit oxycodone pills. pyrka said last week. "Right now, there's within the first year, thus improving
[these doctors] down and put them away not much more than a sketch of where access to the hospital area.
forever or as long as legally possible.” Benjamin was indicted Oct. 31 on we think we're going to put the road."
three federal drug charges, including Matson said the extension project
The Florida Department of Health will the distribution of a controlled sub- The proposal, presented to county would be less disruptive, less chal-
neither confirm nor deny if it received stance resulting in death, and faces commissioners by Metropolitan Plan- lenging and, possibly, less costly than
notification of Benjamin’s Michigan ar- 20 years to life in prison if convicted. ning Organization Director Phil Mat- widening 37th Street from its current
rest or prosecution, said Brad Dalton, a He has pleaded not guilty and is being son two months ago as an alternative three lanes to five – two lanes in each
spokesman for the state regulatory agen- held without bond at the Federal De- to widening 37th Street, calls for the direction plus a center-turning lane.
cy that oversees medical licenses. tention Center in Miami. extension of Aviation Boulevard across
U.S. 1, through mostly vacant lots and "To widen 37th Street would be a
By law, the Florida Department of A hearing to consider a defense mo- intersecting with 35th Lane on the daunting undertaking," Matson said
Health cannot make such notifica- tion to suppress evidence obtained south edge of the hospital property. last week. "There are more than 24
tions public until the Florida Board of at the Melbourne Airport was held separate driveways, cross streets and
Medicine investigates and finds prob- last week in a Fort Lauderdale court- Matson said the project – from pur- access points in a 1.2-mile stretch that
able cause for disciplinary action. room. U.S. District Judge William P.
Dimitrouleas ruled this week that the CONTINUED ON PAGE 12
Complaints are filed internally based pills seized at the airport can be used
on stories in the media and by patients, against Benjamin. The case is set for
law enforcement, or physicians them- trial in April. 
selves, Dalton explained. They are then
analyzed to see if the department has

12 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


Aviation Blvd. extension Matson, Szpyrka and county plan- chase the property, offer to trade land Island investors are
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 11 ners determined that a two-lane ex- parcels or ask for the right-of-way "in not rattled by wild
tension of Aviation Boulevard from its lieu of other considerations." stock market swings
includes the hospital, a large number U.S. 1 intersection to the hospital area
of medical offices and other related offered the most feasible solution – if Both Matson and Szpyrka said the BY RAY MCNULTY
businesses. the county can acquire the privately property owners might be eager for
owned lots needed for the project. the county to build a road through Staff Writer
"And with 37th Street already oper- their land.
ating at 90 percent of capacity, you've Szpyrka said he will begin negotia- Island stock brokers say local inves-
got people coming and going all day tions with the property owners once "Building a road would increase the tors showed patience – not panic – as
long," he added. the exact route is selected. value of the property in the area, so Wall Street endured a turbulent six days
they might even be willing to donate of trading that included a 1,032-point
"The construction required to wid- "Going across U.S. 1, the land is the land we need," Szpyrka said. "We'll drop on the Dow last Thursday that
en the road would be a nightmare for pretty much vacant until you get closer discuss all that when we know what put the market into correction terri-
people driving through there to get to the hospital," Szpyrka said, "so the the final route looks like." tory, and another 1,000-point swing
medical care. road would meander through a mostly Friday, when the index dipped dra-
undeveloped area and have as little ef- "The land is there with virtually noth- matically and then reversed, gaining
"It makes more sense to find anoth- fect on property owners as possible." ing built on it," Matson said. "If we're 330 points for the day and avoiding its
er route." ever going to get a new road in there – worst week since 2008.
Matson said the county could pur- and we need one – now is the time." 
Several brokers said experienced,
long-term investors were not sur-
prised to see some correction to the
market, which had been enjoying a
strong upswing for more than a year.

"For the most part, people were
expecting this," said Mike Williams,
a Raymond James certified financial
planner and branch manager of Vero
Beach Wealth Management on North
State Road A1A. "We try to educate our
clients, and most of them knew that,
eventually, a 10 percent correction was
probably coming.

"So I didn't see much in the way of
panic," he added. "I got one call from
one investor who expressed some con-
cern, but everyone else was just riding
it out. We're still up more than 20 per-
cent since the [presidential] election."

Other island brokers, whose cor-
porate policies prohibited them from
being quoted, said they experienced
a similar reaction from their clients.
They said they detected little anxiety
from investors.

The roller-coaster ride actually
started two Fridays ago, when the
Dow closed down 666 points, or 2.5
percent – the largest drop since Brexit
jolted the market in June 2016.

The following Monday, the Dow
nose-dived more than 1,500 points
before recovering slightly and clos-
ing down another 4.6 percent. The
1,175-point drop was the largest sin-
gle-day point drop in Dow history.

There was a 567-point surge Tues-
day and a wobble Wednesday before
the Dow plunged 1,033 points Thurs-
day. Then came an up-and-down Fri-
day that ended with a 330-point gain.

"The market fundamentals haven't
changed in the past week, and we've
been on a pretty good run," Williams
said. "I still think we've got another
two or three years of a bull market."

But if the market loses another 10
percent this week or next?

"Then" Williams said, "things get
interesting." 


14 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


‘Starfest’ shines light on high-quality childhood education

Karla Spooner and Judy Munn. PHOTOS: DENISE RITCHIE Liz Huntley and Shannon McGuire Bowman. PHOTOS CONTINUED ON PAGE 16
Stephanie MacWilliam and Nora Koontz.

BY MARY SCHENKEL “One of the axioms of that is, if education to literally save my life.” quality early learning education,”
Staff Writer you want quality, you pay for quality It was the start of desegregation and said Shannon McGuire Bowman, ex-
people to do the job,” said Huntley be- ecutive director. Childcare Resourc-
“School readiness is everything; it fore sharing how caring teachers and a group of women set up a free pre- es now reaches roughly 3,200 local
is the key to starting on a level play- a quality education rescued her from school in a Baptist Church to prepare children through their Childcare
ing field,” said Liz Huntley, the dy- heartbreaking adversity. underprivileged children for kinder- Resources School and contracting
namic guest speaker at two Child- garten. “I remember that preschool centers, innovative programs and
care Resources Starfest luncheons, When she was age 5, her father like it was yesterday. For the first time services, partnerships, early educa-
co-chaired by Judy Munn and Karla was sent to jail for dealing drugs. Her in my little fragile life, I felt the nurtur- tion coaches and, most recently, the
Spooner. To accommodate the sold- mother, who had five children from ing touch of an adult. And I melted.” Credentialing Program for Early Ed-
out crowd of roughly 450 guests, the four different men before age 21, ucators.
luncheons were held Monday and committed suicide after depositing Living for the affirmation and love of
Tuesday at the Quail Valley River Club. her children at the homes of various her teachers, she responded, flourish- Pointing to a recent New York
relatives. Huntley was brought to her ing in the midst of all that adversity. Times article entitled, ‘Why are our
An accomplished litigation attor- impoverished paternal grandmother. most important teachers paid the
ney, child advocate and author of the Within a month, her innocence and “I am the ‘why’ it is so important least?’ Bowman added, “Unfortu-
memoir “More than a Bird,” Huntley, self-esteem vanished when an uncle that we make this a number one pri- nately it paints an excellent picture
who serves on the Alabama School began sexually abusing her on a regu- ority in this country. And you are the of what the profile of an early educa-
Readiness Alliance, said their legisla- lar basis. ‘how’ we do it. Education is the great tor looks like in this country and it
ture made the commitment to expand equalizer; it’s the thing that gives op- really underscores all the important
access to high-quality pre-K to all “It was a tough, dark time in my portunity. Nothing gives children work we’re doing here in Indian Riv-
4-year-olds in Alabama. life,” said Huntley. But, she said, “God more of an opportunity to defy the er County.” 
used the ministry of early childhood odds than a quality education.”

“We strive to be the hub for high-

16 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


PHOTOS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 14 Karol Lynch, Denise Battaglini and Carol Welsh. Kyle Morgan, Stacy Miller and Tom Nelson.
Pam Barefoot, Emilie Hinman and Kitty Mountain.

Wivi-Anne Weber, Elke Fetterolf, Sandy Robinson and Marie Ek. Wendy Streetman, Ginny Glazer, Susan Donovan and Jan Alfano.

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Celebrating Over 25
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Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 17


Kathy Marshall, Carol Buhl and Sara Labellarte. Tanya Belkin, Helen Robertson and Maya Peterson. Toni Hamner and Christine Osborne.

Sheila Iodice, Patricia Cheslock and Linda Bradley. John and Judy O’Steen with Dan Kross.
Darlene Ryder and Martha Kelly.
Sandi Reinhard and Cathy Campana.

18 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


‘Habitat’ helpers thanked for building better future

Staff Writer

Indian River Habitat for Humanity Larry Lauffer, George and Janet Watson and Bruce Barkett. PHOTOS: DENISE RITCHIE Allison and Jim Beindorf.
honored the contributions of benefac-
tors who are helping to build a better that people can achieve lasting change
future at their annual Donor Apprecia- when provided with “a hand up not a
tion Night at Northern Trust Bank last hand out.” The program’s job require-
Tuesday evening. ment spurred Jelks to pursue a career
in order to become accepted, having
“I hope you know what a difference
you make in the lives of our homeown-
ers,” said board chairman Connie Pop-
pell, thanking attendees for making
affordable homeownership for local
working families a reality.

“We don’t just build a house, we build
a home. These homes provide hope,
gives them opportunities, and motiva-
tion that empowers them to have more
and do more with their lives. Home-
ownership in America is a dream, and
you help us achieve that dream for all
of our homeowners.”

Habitat homeowner Trashonda Jelks
and her son Travion Rivers shared
heartfelt thanks for the assistance
they received through the program.
Jelks personifies Habitat’s conviction

Rose and Ron Virgin with Joan and Bob Mark.

Todd and Theresa Heckman. the first time. This program is more
than just a home to us,” shared Jelks.
previously been twice denied partici-
pation. Andy Bowler IRHH president and
CEO, recognized three individuals
“Habitat for Humanity inspired me who have been instrumental in en-
to be better; to be great. Now I have an couraging members of their commu-
awesome career and a new home for nities to support Habitat homes.

Honorees were Jim Maxwell of the
Grand Harbor community, 17 hous-
es; Mike Schwartz, Orchid Island, 25
houses; and Dick Winkler, The Moor-
ings, 65 houses.

“You are making a difference in peo-
ple’s lives,” said Bowler. “We are now
over 400 families that have been served
by your generosity over the years.”

And despite his upcoming April 27
retirement, Bowler assured donors
that Habitat is steadfast in its mission,
adding, “We have a purpose, a plan
and the people. We’re going forward.”

For more information, visit irch- 

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 19


Dick Winkler, Jim Maxwell and Mike Schwartz. Rene Donars, David Willis and Andy Bowler. Jan and Bob Garrison with Georgia Irish.

Joan and Al DeCrane. Barbara Crosby, Alice Brady and Janet Baines. Katie Nelson and Chantral Warner.

Lou and Frank Shannon. Lynette Brockway and Alice Donars.

Eve Kyomya, Anna Valencia-Tillery and Susan Lorenz.

20 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


Yes soiree! Wine & Dine attendees in ooh-la-la land

BY MARY SCHENKEL Carole Casey, Executive Chef James Mason and Mackie Duch. PHOTOS: MARY SCHENKEL “I am a former educator and I
Staff Writer know that this population needs all
Salmon, veal osso bucco, and lava so creative. How are we going to top the help they can get,” said Duch,
A tri-colored Eiffel Tower lit the cakes topped with bourbon berry this next year?” noting that the ladies of the Hibis-
way to the Grand Harbor Golf Club flambé – each paired with a selec- cus Guild are involved in consider-
for the recent Wine & Dine Taste of tion of wines to compliment the As guests left after the evening of ably more than just fundraising ef-
France event to benefit the Hibiscus mouthwatering French cuisine. dining and dancing, they were pre- forts. “We do the fundraisers, but we
Children’s Center. Co-chairs Carole sented with a little gift box, hand also give them birthday parties with
Casey and Mackie Duch and their “Grand Harbor has gone over the stamped with fleur-de-lis and as- gifts, Christmas gifts, haircuts and
imaginative committee organized top supporting what we’re doing,” sembled by the creative Rosemary clothes for proms; it’s a very hands-
the festive soirée in grand ooh-la-la- said an ebullient Casey. “Grand Smith, each filled with a croissant on organization. With all the women
style. Harbor supplied all the wine and and jelly – perfect for a midnight in the guild, their main focus is tak-
our new chef did up a menu that is snack or petit déjeuner. ing care of these teens.”
Greeted with warm smiles and
flutes of French champagne, arriv- Proceeds will help fund Hibiscus
ing guests enjoyed the antics of a Children’s Center, whose residen-
classic French mime even before tial care facilities and recovery pro-
checking in for the delightful eve- grams provide safe shelter and care
ning. Tables filled the main dining to youngsters who are victims of
room and each of the two side rooms child abuse, neglect and abandon-
to accommodate the sold-out crowd ment. At Vero’s Hibiscus Children’s
of roughly 250 partiers. Village, programs for teenagers ages
13 through 17 help them achieve
Grand Harbor Executive Chef high school diplomas or GEDs and
James Mason and his exceptionally learn basic life skills. As part of its
efficient staff presented a progres- Career Pathways program, Hibiscus
sive buffet featuring food six food recently opened its Graphic Design
stations – charcuterie and cheeses, Impact Center to provide them with
heirloom tomato and burrata sal- career skills for a better future. 
ad, Coquilles St. Jacques, Ora King

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 21


Julie Otto, Kathe Canby and Ken Otto. Paul and Donna Sexton. Irma Schikorra with Armund and Marie Ek.

Ellen and Jerry Zollenberg. Susan and Ed Smith with Karen Deigl. Michael and Linda Levine.

Ed Cortez and Karen Loeffler with Sue and George Sharpe.

Robi and Sandy Robinson with Elke and George Fetterolf.

22 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


Community Outreach gala fetes priceless hearts of gold

Susan O’Shea, Kelli Martin, Sue Post and Tina Wilcox. PHOTOS: DENISE RITCHIE Ed Cortez, Karen Loeffler, Pat and Michael Cole.

BY STEPHANIE LaBAFF The evening gave Outreach mem- standing Group Supporting Philan- we should put our energy.”
Staff Writer bers a chance to celebrate the success thropy award. The gala has also grown over the
of its mission to address the unmet
The Grand Harbor Community needs of Indian River County resi- “We’re not trying to be the biggest past six years. In addition to the
Outreach Gala Dinner & Live Auction dents in the areas of health, educa- charity in Indian River County; we’re Grand Harbor Artists’ silent auction,
at the Grand Harbor Clubhouse was tion, youth mentoring and job train- trying to be thought leaders,” said attorney John Moore served as auc-
a solid-gold hit last Wednesday eve- ing. Doug Sweeny, GHCO president. tioneer over a live auction of must-
ning. have items as well as a third auction.
Since its founding, GHCO has Of their current focus on the
Rays of light sparkled off gold stars, raised and funneled back into the needs of the Gifford community he “We’re calling it the Angel Auction,
illuminating the “heart of gold” that community more than $3.4 mil- explained, “We view this as a social where donors can support a specific
is at the center of the community’s lion. The group recently received the experiment. We share a ZIP code need,” said event chair Pat Murphy.
outreach efforts. Guests dined on a Children’s Home Society’s 2017 R. and that makes us more than just “As a thank you, they will receive a
gourmet meal, caught up with neigh- David and I. Lorraine Thomas Child neighbors. We’ve built a relationship Willow Tree Angel figurine.”
bors and plotted their game strate- Advocate of the Year Award and was with the Gifford Pillars and they’re
gies for the upcoming Bridge and also nominated for the Association very willing to have our helping Proceeds will help fund general
Mahjong Luncheon. for Fundraising Professional’s Out- guidance. This is their community grants to be awarded to local chari-
and we want them to tell us where ties in March. For more information,
visit 

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 23


Pat Murphy with Doug and Susanne Sweeny. Raynor Reavis, Diane DeFrancisci and John Moore. Mary Potter, Kathy McGinnis and Henriette Churney.

Don Bestor. Bruce and Sue Stone with Barbara and Jack Reis.

Anne and Bill LaViolette. Ed and Joyce Churney. Mary and Ken Potter. Dale and Betty Jacobs.

24 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


Ale of a good time at Red, White & Brew VIP bash

Staff Writer

Sunrise Rotary served up a People’s Choice winners: Boil Over Boys’ Devin Giles paired with Sandy and Tom Curl of Tommy T’s BBQ. Todd and Leila Darress. PHOTOS: STEPHANIE LABAFF
brewtastic evening of brewskis and
bites at the fourth annual VIP Red names such as Squid Ink, Sandy Bot-
White & Brew Party last Friday night tom, Watching the Tropics and We
at Walking Tree Brewery. The event Were Promised Galaxies.
was created to tempt taste buds
ahead of the upcoming Florida Craft Gourmands enjoyed the sounds
Brew and Wingfest this Saturday, of the Jacks Band while savoring
Feb. 17, on Royal Palm Pointe. shrimp appetizers, crawfish jamba-
laya, shrimp and grits, beef empa-
The Red, White & Brew theme nadas, snapper or shrimp ceviche,
was meant to bring people together,
said Mandy Hooker, event co-chair
with Linda Scott, sharing that, like
the Olympics, they wished to show
a unified, homegrown and home-
brewed community.

Nearly 300 attendees sampled
their way through pairings of craft
brews with tapas-style dishes from
local restaurants. Red Buoy Brew-
ers, Treasure Coast Brewmasters,
Boil Over Boys and Mash Monkeys
Brewery were on hand with brews
running the gamut from dark ales
to American IPAs, sporting unique

Kyle Melanson, Marty Zickert and Alex Chopie.

Etienne and Katey Bourgeois with Cal Kreigh and Tyler Kreigh.

mango chipotle barbecue shrimp pulled pork with Soul Stealing Gin-
on a sweet potato pancake, Fra Dia- ger Saison, a fruity, spicy pale ale.
volo rigatoni, smoky black bean dip
with Cotija cheese, smoked brisket, Taking the palate in a different
shrimp rolls, Chunky Monkey ba- direction Varietals offered a 1000
nana bread, and fried sea salt cara- Stories red wine, paired with a sam-
mel cheesecake. pling of coastal cheddar, Napoli sa-
lami and smoky blue cheese.
Tommy T’s BBQ and the Boil Over
Boys were awarded the People’s Proceeds benefit Sunrise Rotary
Choice title, pairing pecan smoked community projects and scholarships.
baby back ribs and slow smoked For more information, visit sunrisero- 

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 25


Jeanette McCain and Heather Reeb. Arthur and Brenda Hodge. Linda Scott and Mandy Hooker.

Buck Vocelle and Ray Hooker.
Tony Young, Tracy Carroll and Chief David Currey.

Bryan and Amanda Martin.

26 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


UP Valentine Ball celebrates a love for empowerment

Staff Writer

Guests at Bal en Rouge, the fifth Barbara Lowry and Amy Patterson. Annabel Robertson, Pam Harmon, Cindy Galant and Austin Hunt.
annual Valentine Ball at the Oak
Harbor Club last Saturday evening, successful programs is its Success
showed some love for the less fortu- Training for Employment Program, a
nate, contributing generously to the three-phase program providing tan-
life-changing programs and services gible employment skills, on-the-job
of United Against Poverty. training, placement assistance and
ongoing career development support.
The evening was once again the
epitome of elegance, from the styl- “For some time now I have come
ish crowd to the sophisticated décor. to realize that the work at United
Throughout the event, a wonderful Against Poverty is borne out of our
selection of silent-auction items en-
ticed bidders as did the spirited live
auction led by Geoff Moore, guests
dined on a sumptuous gourmet din-
ner and danced to the upbeat band

“Ginny and Austin Hunt, who
founded the organization, are amaz-
ing people who have done amazing
work in this community with a tre-
mendous amount of self-sacrifice,”
said Annabel Robertson, UP execu-
tive director.

One of the organization’s many

Sylvia Cancio with Bob and Carmen Stork. PHOTOS CONTINUED ON PAGE 28


Come in and let us create a masterful blend of function God-given sense that we should do Beach but found shelter at the Sa-
and esthetics for the kitchen of your dreams. for others what we would have them maritan Center, where a case manag-
do for us,” said Hunt, in his intro- er told her about the STEP program.
f e at u r i n g : duction of Barbara Lowry, UP board After successfully completing the
chair and honorary event chair. “Bar- program, she was hired by Piper, pur-
Established 18 Years in Indian River County bara Lowry is completely sold out to chased a car and eventually became a
the cause of inspiring and empower- Habitat for Humanity homeowner. “I
Monday - Friday 9 AM - 5 PM ing those who live in poverty so that just thank (people involved with the)
• The Treasure Coast’s most Comprehensive, Professional Showroom they can lift themselves and their STEP program; if it wasn’t for them I
children to prosperity. This is the air wouldn’t be the woman I am today. I
• Extensive Collection of Styles and Finishes to Meet Your Budget that this woman breathes.” thank everyone for it.”
• Under New Ownership • Remodeling specialists
“We empower those who are will- “In just over two years, we have
(772) 562-2288 | ing to climb the ladder from poverty placed over 250 individuals in jobs,”
3920 US Hwy 1, Vero Beach FL 32960 to self-sufficiency. This is a very dif- said Lowry. “Last year alone, 109
ficult journey,” said Lowry, before graduated from our STEP program.
introducing Sara Williams. Williams Of those 109, 98 are out of poverty
got to the heart of the matter with her and en route to total economic self-
uplifting story, which also highlight- sufficiency. The greatest gift that we
ed the collaborative efforts of local can give any human being is for them
nonprofit providers. not to need us anymore.”

Williams, two children in tow, was For more information, visit upirc.
homeless when she arrived in Vero org. 

28 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


PHOTOS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 26 Dick and Sally Daley. Linda Rusciano, Richard Douglas and Karen Kost.
Betty and Dale Jacobs with Lynn and Ted Miller.

Mary and Chris Ryan. Laura and Bill Frick. Sherry Brown and Ginny Hunt. Linda and Don Drinkard.


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Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 29


Mike and Jan Harrell with Janet and David Croom. Noel and James Cooke with Barbara Butts. Richard Schlitt with Robyn and Sam Hjalmeby.

Maria and Jason Tarr. Dennie and Trude See. Nancy and Stanford Erickson. Peter and Kjestine Bijur.

30 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


Take a bow! Theatre Guild stages sumptuous ‘60th’ bash

BY STEPHANIE LaBAFF Beach Country Club.
Staff Writer “The dinner gala is a great way for

The Vero Beach Theatre Guild our patrons and supporters to meet
rolled out the red carpet last Sat- our board of directors and to discuss
urday evening to celebrate the six with them in a social setting what our
decades they have been providing goals and future plans are for the next
entertainment to theater lovers, at 60 years at the guild, or at least the
a festive 60th Anniversary Dinner next five anyway,” said Jon Putzke,
Gala & Silent Auction at the Vero VBTG president.

“As the guild’s president and pro-

Martha Kelly, Colleen Brennan and Carole Strauss.

David Israel.

ducer of the Theatre Festival, I hope Pat and Dan Kroger. PHOTOS: STEPHANIE LABAFF
the community will learn firsthand of
the dedication this volunteer-driven bliss. In addition to the gala, the The-
organization has amassed over the atre Festival featured a “Celebrating
past 60 years and that they will come 60” musical revue of past and pres-
to share in the wealth of talent this ent Broadway Blockbusters, an open
community has to offer,” said Putzke. house to give theater-goers a peek be-
“The theatre is a place that teaches hind the curtain and the upcoming
us so many things about the human Readers’ Theatre Productions.
spirit. The theatre can appeal to every
emotion we humans possess. Hap- Over the course of four days (Feb.
piness, sadness, thought-provoking; 15-18), the Vero Beach Theatre Guild
the entire gamut of our lives can and will stage “Murderers” by Jeffery
is portrayed in a live performance. No Hatcher, “The People’s Republic of
other form of entertainment moves Edward Snowden” by Willian Turck,
one’s emotions as the art of live the- “A Night to Remember” by Walter
atre can.” Lord, “Judgement at Nuremberg,” by
Abby Mann, and “Jerry Finnegan’s
As pianist David Israel tickled the Sister.”
ivories, guests bid on silent-auction
items and enjoyed a delicious dinner The 2017-2018 season continues
while reminiscing about past perfor- with “To Kill a Mockingbird” (March
mances. During dessert, Putzke an- 8-25) and “The Fantasticks” (May 10-
nounced the 2018-2019 season sched- 20). For the full schedule, visit vero-
ule: “The Dixie Swim Club,” “Yankee 
Tavern,” “The Game’s Afoot or Holmes
for the Holidays,” “Miracle on South
Division Street,” “A Funny Thing Hap-
pened on the Way to the Forum” and
“The Savanah Sipping Society.”

To commemorate a rich history of
355 mainstage productions, the VBTG
has offered three weeks of theatrical

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 31


Jon and Marg Putzke. Sarah Morley and Madelyn Rogers. Marlys Kauten and Katha Kissman.

Jim Gerwien and Laica Moreta. Walter Blogoslawski and Carole Niles.

Jan Meyers, Ann McCabe and Marianne Anderson. Phillis Rock and Robin Volsky.

Susan Grandpierre and Don Croteau. Sally Dillon and Lily Jaramillo.

32 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


Creative juices flow into 3-D at Art on the Island show

Laura Moss and Rosemary Polsky-Newman. PHOTOS: DENISE RITCHIE Janine Stecca with Cynthia Roach and Claudette Roche. Harry Poole, Sharon Bastide and Witha Lacuesta.

BY MARY SCHENKEL mixed media, pottery, glass, wood or
Staff Writer fiber, jewelry and 2-D with Pizzazz
Members of the Vero Beach Art exhibited at a recent VBAC show.
Club stretched into a third dimen- This year’s judged, members-only “I love the character of the show,”
sion once again with their entries in said event chair Rosemary Polsky-
last weekend’s fourth annual Art on show featured 130 pieces of 3-di- Newman. “It’s a challenge for the 2-D
the Island 3-Dimensional Fine Art mensional art, divided into sculpture, artists so the 2-D with Pizzazz catego-
Exhibition at the lovely Marsh Island ry allows them to get a little creative. I
Clubhouse. Members could enter two think it’s a lot of fun for them.”
pieces of artwork, completed within
the last two years and not previously The fun factor was clearly evi-
denced in First Place 2-D with Pizzazz
winner Mags Hobbs’ colorful piece,

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 33


The Abstract Art Class, epoxied with One of the things I like about the Art sculpture, Manhattan Composite art supplies to elementary and mid-
studio paraphernalia such as tubes of Club is that we have so many great Number 2, an embodiment of the dle schools.
paint and brushes. artists.” iconic New York skyline.
Next up, the VBAC will host its 67
Like many of the crowd at Friday Like the show’s judge, the delight- A percentage of sales help support annual Under the Oaks Fine Arts &
night’s opening reception, Polsky- fully creative sculptor Jack Hill from VBAC educational outreach pro- Crafts Show, March 9 to 11 at Riverside
Newman said it was difficult to pick Deland, she was impressed with Best grams, including scholarships for Park. For more information, visit vero-
a favorite. “I really like a lot of the art. of Show winner Mark Scott’s bronze high school seniors and donations of 

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34 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


British Invasion motors into McKee for classic show

Several thousand people motored
over to McKee Botanical Garden
last Saturday for the ninth annual
Motor Car Exhibition, which this
year featured 40 classic and cur-
rent British cars and motorcycles.
Tucked in among the verdant
grounds of the 18-acre garden, their
perfectly polished chassis glisten-
ing in the sunlight, were rarities
such as a 1970 Marcos Mantis and
1958 Tojeiro Jaguar; a completely
different sort of animal than those
featured in McKee’s current exhib-
it, It’s a Jungle Out There, with its 24
hand-crafted metal African animal
sculptures. For more information,
visit 

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 35


Gavin and Marcia Ruotolo with Felicia Garmon. Geoff Newcombe. Bruce Humphrey and Pete Humphrey.

Cathy Curley with children Jack and Chris. Christine Kahler with children Elliotte and Landon. Ron Rosner. PHOTOS: GORDON RADFORD

38 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


LaJoie de vivre: Paintings reflect artist’s creative soul

BY ELLEN FISCHER PHOTOS BY GORDON RADFORD “I don’t paint images. I don’t start off The photographs are for sale, howev-
Columnist with images. I don’t think, Oh, I’m going er, and at least two that feature orange-
the photos are distinct creations. She to do a water painting today, or, I’m go- hued skies have been purchased since
On view through Feb. 26, a solo show notes that many of them were taken af- ing to do a rowing painting.” the show’s opening.
by Shotsi Cain LaJoie at Center for Spiri- ter the completion of the paintings with
tual Care features her recent abstract which they have been paired. More than what she sees when out on
paintings along with some of her cell the water, LaJoie wants to show visitors
phone snapshots of scenes on the Indian how she feels while rowing.
River Lagoon.
“What you do to open yourself in one
The inclusion of colorful photos, en- area of life will penetrate to every other
larged and printed on glossy aluminum part of your life,” she says.
panels, has to do with LaJoie being an
avid member of Vero Beach Rowing The large paintings in the show are
Club, an organization she helped found some of her brightest yet. Although none
in 2010. All of the photos in the exhibi- of the works in the show are dated, LaJoie
tion—of sunrises, foggy mornings and says that with one exception, none was
the Merrill Barber Bridge—were taken created before 2017. The larger paintings
from the vantage point of her seat in a are executed in acrylic and acrylic with
rowing shell. oil on unprimed canvas; the smaller
works are in acrylic on cradled panels.
Despite their being hung cheek by
jowl with the canvases on display, La- A painting that greets your eye upon
Joie insists that the photos are not in the entering the Center is the impressive
same category as her paintings. “Latitude or Longitude.” The six-foot-
square painting combines areas of
“I don’t consider myself a photogra- stained raw canvas with pools of poured
pher,” she says. paint, which LaJoie spread into fluid
shapes using sponges, brushes and her
Some people might therefore assume hands. Dripped and flung paint make a
that these photos inspired her paintings’ splashy appearance throughout the can-
color themes or compositions. vas, as do delicate loops of paint - some
as fine as pencil lines - that flowed from
Not so, says LaJoie, who explains that

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 39


the pointy nozzle of a plastic squeeze bition is, in relation to the bright and in 2007, where she continues to create Samaritan Center, a shelter for home-
bottle. bold paintings on display, inscrutable. and exhibit her work. less families in Vero Beach. That was
“Fog in the Morning” is a 40-inch- 25 years ago. She has been point person
“This is like a Helen Frankenthaler- square acrylic and oil pastel painting Volunteering is an important part of and cheerleader for The Samaritan Cen-
-Jackson Pollock--Cy Twombly collabo- composed of a foggy gray application LaJoie’s life. As an advisory board mem- ter’s annual Soup Bowl fundraiser for
ration,” LaJoie teases, referring to three of semi-opaque paint over stained-in ber for the Palm Beach Diocese of Cath- just as long.
significant American abstract painters blues in the top half of the composition olic Charities, she helped found The
whose work she admires. and a pooled area of cool red at the bot- It seems only natural for her to be on
tom, with many a painterly drip, dribble the board of directors of the Center for
LaJoie says that “Latitude and Longi- and splotch in between. Spiritual Care, too.
tude” is an experiment in unifying large
color areas by connecting them with cir- Looking at this painting close up is a “This place is about igniting your soul
cuitous lines of the same hues. pleasure akin to gazing upon a conden- and finding who you are in the process,”
sation-fogged window pane. You know she says.
A multi-layered painting like that that there is something beyond that
takes months to complete, she says. translucent top layer. Allow yourself to The artist will be present at a recep-
be mesmerized by the conundrum of a tion at the Center for Spiritual Care,
“Each layer asks for resolution, and painting seen, but not seen, beneath its 1550 24th Street in Vero Beach, from 4
sometimes I don’t know how I’m going mottled veil. p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 16. 
to resolve it.”
According to LaJoie, that is what her
LaJoie marvels that her friend and art is about.
mentor, Tim Sanchez, can work continu-
ously on one painting until it is finished. “Think about your creative soul. How
deep is it—where does it go?” she asks.
She, on the other hand, will stop and
reflect on the work she has done, work LaJoie’s life has taken many direc-
on other in-progress paintings, or just tions. A graduate in business admin-
stop and “absorb other pieces of art” istration from Saint Mary’s College in
before returning to the next bout with a Notre Dame, Ind., she got her feet wet in
particular canvas. rowing as a member of Notre Dame Uni-
versity’s women’s rowing team. Her pro-
On the wall to the left of “Latitude fessional career in financial accounting
or Longitude” is a 96-inch wide art- began in Chicago. She moved to Miami
work that LaJoie created by putting two in 1978 to manage the southeastern of-
48-inch-square canvases side by side fice of the title insurance company for
and painting them to create a contigu- which she then worked and transferred
ous composition. to Vero Beach in 1981.

The painting is titled “The Catch.” Building on her training and expe-
That’s a rowing term for the moment rience in the psychology of business,
when an oar dips into, or ‘catches,” the LaJoie received an MA in counseling
water to propel the boat. from Webster University in 2001. As a
Licensed Mental Health Counselor, she
Painted primarily in blue acrylic pig- continues her current career as a psy-
ments that LaJoie allowed to soak into chotherapist and counseling coach.
the unprimed canvas, the painting bears Following her artistic inclinations, she
a long splash of white paint through joined Tiger Lily Art Studios and Gallery
which, while still wet, the artist slewed
her fingers. The marks she left behind
give translucence, and the appearance
of three-dimensional form, to what
would otherwise be an opaque shape.

“It’s kind of scary (to do something
like that), because sometimes you ruin
your painting. You don’t get a lot of tries.
People don’t realize that sometimes
you’ve got to do this a few times before
it is spatially correct; all the elements are
hitting just right. You’ve got to be brave
enough to allow it to be that fluid.”

An intriguing painting in the exhi-

40 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


Ballerina Schweitzer appreciates the familiar lure of Vero

BY MICHELLE GENZ Katerina Schweitzer, far right, with other dancers. more prominent roles. based style taught at the Kirov Ballet. It
Staff Writer Schweitzer has a significant leg up is the same method Schweitzer studied
Accepted as a trainee at Nebraska, in Florida at Melbourne’s Space Coast
Ballet has taken Katerina Schweitzer she joins a growing number of aspiring on those skills. Mime, acting and mu- Ballet and later, in Miami.
away from home for much of her young dancers whose talent and training have sic were all supplemental courses at the
life, including spending her high school led them to the threshold of profes- Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical At 14, she auditioned for a spot in
years training in New York with Gelsey sional companies. With more dancers Ballet, which the famed Balanchine Kirkland’s summer program. While
Kirkland. Now 18 and dancing with Bal- than openings these days, becoming a ballerina formed in 2010 with husband there, she was accepted into the full
let Nebraska, she returns to Vero Beach trainee lets dancers perform in lesser Michael Chernov. There, Katerina stud- year’s program. On the drive back to
Friday, Feb. 16, to perform at the Vero roles while gaining the polish, expres- ied the Vaganova method, a Russian- Florida with her family, they decided
Beach Museum of Art. siveness and acting skills needed for she would accept. “I had to pack up my
life and move,” she says.
Schweitzer will appear as part of
Nebraska’s sister company, Ballet Vero Two years later, in 2016 she was invit-
Beach. And watching from the wings ed to dance in the premiere of “Stealing
– such as they are, in the museum’s Time,” choreographed by Chernov and
intimate Leonhardt Auditorium – will the focus of a New York Times feature
be two of her childhood instructors: article on the couple.
Adam Schnell and Camilo Rodriguez,
artistic director and ballet master of “He was working on that ballet for
Ballet Vero Beach. four years – longer than I had been
there. It was an honor to be in the per-
Both were there last February when formance because it was mostly the
Schweitzer flew to Omaha to audition company and people in the top level of
with the company. The move came af- the school,” she says. “It was amazing
ter a year of “cattle call” auditions in to work with the company and to work
New York, where companies gather to with him, watching him teach us this
watch some 300 dancers at every audi- choreography that came from his mind.
tion, she says. “There are so many cuts,” It was brilliant.”
she says. “The chances of being seen
were extremely slim.” Thrilling though it was, living in New
York was difficult; it included a long
commute into Tribeca from her pater-


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Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 41


nal grandmother’s home on Staten Is- That travel time with her “ballet dad” erina in early childhood, singling her class with everyone.”
land. After a full day of dance classes, as she calls her father, Larry Schweitzer, out for her talent as early as age 5, when At one point, as other students quit the
she would get home and start study- became a defining element of her child- she showed up for his beginner’s class at
ing, taking online dual enrollment high hood. At the same time her mother, a Vero ballet studio. class and only Katerina remained, Khur-
school and college classes. Saturdays Tara, lent her 100 percent support. She sandi continued to teach her, and that
were often spent taking exams at a cen- too pursued a career in dance, a former “I knew from that day she’s got some- one-on-one focus continued for years.
tral testing center. Rockette now teaching dance at River- thing very special, her eyes popping
side Theatre. Tara Schweitzer clearly out, the excitement in her face and how “He’s the one who made me really
Six months into her stay, life in Oma- passed on her genes to her daughter, as attentive she was. It was incredible – love ballet.”
ha is far more relaxed than in New York. did Katerina’s grandmother; she owned you could say it was spiritual – she had
“I was ready to leave,” she says. “The a dance studio on Staten Island. it straightaway,” recalls Khursandi. Friday at 7 p.m., Schweitzer will take
commute had worn me down, I was the stage at the Leonhardt with two
tired and stressed out. It was a lot of late Larry, who has known Tara since Schweitzer remembers that first day. other dancers in a new work by com-
nights and I never had a resting period.” high school, may have already had ap- Her mother had intuitively packed bal- pany dancer Chloe Watson.
preciation of dance through his wife. let slippers in her bag. “I had on my nor-
Now, Ballet Nebraska’s rehearsal stu- mal clothes, and five minutes into the In the audience will be her parents,
dio is within walking distance of her But in watching young Katerina’s in- class I told my mom, ‘I need my shoes Tara and Larry Schweitzer. “It’s so
apartment, which looks out over a golf tensive training, the surfer and mixed right now!’ In my jeans, I joined the great. They don’t have to fly anywhere.
course – these days, covered in snow. martial artist developed a real love for They can just drive a few minutes and
Three days a week, she teaches ballet ballet, his daughter says. see me dance.” 
at a Jewish Community Center. She is
making friends, cooking a lot, and dat- “He studied it a lot while I was grow-
ing someone; they and another couple ing up so he could help me with the
just got a puppy together. mentality,” she says. “He loved how dis-
ciplined you had to be.
Best of all, Ballet Nebraska has taken
her in like family. “I love the environ- At first, the commutes to Melbourne
ment. Everyone is very genuinely nice were three days a week, then four, more
here. And there’s so much joy when when she started performing in Space
we’re dancing. It’s not very competitive Coast’s “The Nutcracker,” which re-
and I like that,” she says. hearsed on Sundays. When the studio’s
owners moved to Miami and Katerina
And coming home to Vero is a real began studying with them there, the
treat, she says. “It’s been such a great travel became overwhelming, particu-
place to come back to,” she says. “I wasn’t larly with out-of-town auditions and
able to appreciate it when I was younger. competitions. So, like many aspiring
I was always traveling for ballet.” young dancers, she stopped going to
school and began taking virtual cours-
Katerina was still at Beachland El- es from home.
ementary when she started commut-
ing to Melbourne for ballet lessons to “The thing that has always been ap-
supplement her training with various parent with Katerina is that she would
teachers here, including Schnell and make it as a professional,” says Schnell,
Rodriguez. who cast Schweitzer as a Snowflake in
his new “Nutcracker on the Indian Riv-
“My dad would have my dinner ready er” in December.
and I’d do my homework in the car. I’d
dance until 7 o’clock at night.” “Some kids you aren’t sure about, but
just looking at Katerina, you just knew.
She dances with every cell in her body
and has always had the ability to make
even the most pedestrian movements
look amazing.”

Her first teacher in Vero was Hedi
Khursandi, ballet instructor at In-
dian River Charter High School, who
holds classes on Saturdays for adults
and children.

It was Khursandi who mentored Kat-

42 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


Coming Up: Acting action heats up at Readers’ Theatre

BY SAMANTHA BAITA theater, in which the audience is “the very popular outdoor concert series, the 3 The Treasure Coast Jazz Society is
Staff Writer press.” On Saturday at 2 p.m., brace Vero Beach Museum of Art Concerts in bringing the Allan Vaché Quintet
yourself for “A Night to Remember.” the Park. This Thursday, Don Soledad
You’ll definitely be on the edge of your brings a personal touch to the music to the Vero Beach Heritage Center this
seats with Walter Lord’s classic 1955 tale of Spain, with its romance and allure.
1 Who says there’s not much hap- of the 1912 Titanic tragedy. From the Transplanted to Florida from the left Saturday in its Jazz at Noon series. If you
pening on Thursdays? Thursday strength of the human spirit in the face coast, Soledad is a San Francisco native.
of tragedy, the play at 7 p.m. Saturday is His passionate rhythms were a favorite go, you’re going to hear some seriously
powerful drama of an entirely different in the Bay Area and throughout the
launches the Readers’ Theatre segment ilk, and one of the greatest courtroom Napa Valley, and he toured extensively smooth clarinet. According to Allmu-
dramas of the last century, the tribunals all over the state. Inspired by the gypsy-
of the Vero Beach Theatre Guild’s Feb- that prosecuted those who committed flamenco music of Andalucia, Soledad’s, when Allan Vaché plays swing
war crimes against the Jews in WWII, music, says his website, can reach di-
ruary Theatre Festival and Fundraiser, “Judgment at Nuremberg.” Ending with verse audiences, the organic rhythms on his clarinet, “the smooth sounds
some welcome comic relief, Sunday at 2 intertwining with modern, up-tempo
celebrating the dynamic community p.m., it’s “Jerry Finnegan’s Sister,” about jazz, bossa nova and Spanish classical invite comparisons to a young Benny
a man who has spent a decade not get- guitar. The Museum’s unique outdoor
theater’s 60-year anniversary. This ting up the nerve to tell his best friend’s concert setting appeals artistically not Goodman,” not much of surprise since
sister (and his next-door neighbor) how only to the ear, but to the eye. Typi-
Readers’ Theater extravaganza pres- he feels about her. Could be love. With cally, a couple hundred people will fill Goodman was a major influence on Va-
her marriage approaching, he’d better the Alice and Jim Beckwith Sculpture
ents 35 Guild actors in five productions step up or lose out. Hysterically funny Park, to enjoy excellent music as well as ché. Biographer Linda Seida writes that
situations ensue. The Guild has out- the compelling visual environment the
over four days: two comedies, a pair of done itself in creating this impressive Museum describes as a “landscape of the jazz clarinetist “can be downright
series. Single admissions, $12.50. All monumental sculpture, flowering trees
dramas, and a political satire. If you’re five plays $50. and perennials.” Concert time is 5 p.m. blistering as well as warm and invit-
to 7 p.m., rain or shine. Tickets are $10
new to readers’ theater, you might be for Museum members; $12 general ad- ing,” and adds that his playing makes
surprised at how engaged you’ll quickly even complicated pieces seem easy.

become. First, this Thursday at 7 p.m., Appearing with the Vaché Quintet will

you’ll hear and visualize “Murderer,” “a be vocalist Ashley Locheed. With a rep-

lightweight black comedy” about mur- ertoire that includes jazz, pop, rock and

der (of course) and mayhem in a Florida R&B, Locheed has toured with Michael

retirement and golf community. It’s not Bolton and Englebert Humperdinck,

a whodunit; we find that out right away. and has performed extensively in the

It’s more of a howdunit and whydunit. U.S. and abroad, including the U.K.,

Friday brings “The People’s Republic of Jakarta, Malta, Russia, Belgium, Hol-

Edward Snowden” at 7 p.m. This, says land, Israel, the Philippines, Singapore,

the promo, is a “thought-provoking, yet Dubai and Beirut. Doors open at 11:15

comedic satire” which takes place at a a.m. Music begins at 12:30 p.m. General

Snowden press conference in a Moscow 2 Also on Thursday: If you act fast, seating tickets, $51.75, non-members;
you can catch one of the island’s
airport. This is immersive, interactive $46.61, members. 

44 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


Back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes may have blown a

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands – growing concern that a ¬decades-long VOLUNTEERS DECONSTRUCT A STORM vote in the presidential general election
More than four months after back-to- drive to build up a broad middle class DAMAGED HOME IN ST. THOMAS ON JAN. 22. and have no voting representation in
back hurricanes shredded the roof of has been snuffed out by the storms. Congress. That can limit the attention
his house, Charles Caines feels as if he’s bean paradise could quickly unravel that the territory – with a population of
“living in a tent in the jungle.” Sleeping If Congress and the White House fail into a permanent decline that would 103,000 and a land area about the size
under a blue tarp draped on the roof’s to deliver a massive infusion of cash to send thousands of economic refugees
steel beams, he and his wife are fend- the islands, analysts warn, this Carib- to the mainland. of Philadelphia – commands from
ing off lizards, frogs, rats and mosqui- the federal government.
toes in what remains of their home. Residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands
are American citizens, but they can’t “When a hurricane hits a small part
Caines spent much of his life stock- of [a] very large state or country, you just
piling his paychecks of up to $700 a move resources,” said Damien King, an
week to buy a home. Now, the 72-year- economist and executive director of the
old worries that the Category 5 storms Caribbean Policy Research Institute.
that took his roof also blew him and an “On islands like the Virgin Islands, there
entire generation of Virgin Islanders is nowhere to move resources from.”
out of the middle class.
These worries come after native-
“I’m now going to die in debt,” said born Virgin Islanders, as well as immi-
Caines, who expects repairs to his home grants from other Caribbean islands,
will cost $100,000, far exceeding his sav- made considerable strides in break-
ings or expected insurance payout. ing into the middle class, taking jobs
in the tourism industry that flourished
“It feels like hell,” he said. “I didn’t throughout the 1990s.
get the assistance I needed, and now
I’m out here suffering.” Average salaries here nearly dou-
bled from $21,000 in 1990 to $40,000 in
With similar stories of grief and hard- 2016, according to government statis-
ship throughout St. Thomas, St. John tics. Poverty rates also dropped from 32
and St. Croix – the three major islands to 22 percent between 2000 and 2010,
that make up the territory – there is according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 45


With the islands’ economy, educa- ABOVE: LEROY AND PEARLETTE LAWRENCE “FEMA does tell you, ‘I’m here to
tion and health systems now in tatters TAKE A BREAK FROM HOUSEWORK AT THEIR help you.’ But it just doesn’t happen,
after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Gov. FORMER RESIDENCE IN ST. JOHN, U.S. VIRGIN and what are you going to do? You can’t
Kenneth Mapp (I) says he needs $7.5 press them,” he said.
billion from the federal government to ISLANDS. THE COUPLE WAS LIVING WITH
rebuild lives and buildings in the cash- AN ELDERLY WOMAN, AND PEARLETTE WAS Manuel Broussard, a FEMA spokes-
strapped territory. HER CAREGIVER. THEY SAID THEY ARE NOW man, counters that the federal govern-
LIVING IN A SHELTER AND LOOKING FOR AN ment has been working with the ter-
The storms damaged or destroyed ritory to offer a plethora of assistance
about 18,500 homes and businesses AFFORDABLE APARTMENT. programs including emergency food
on the islands, including multiple stamps, reimbursement for lost cloth-
high-rise apartment buildings. ing and furniture, and help finding
temporary shelter.
On Jan. 31, in a sign of just how dire
the economy is, Moody’s Investor Ser- The Army Corps of Engineers also
vice said that the territory’s govern- affixed watertight blue tarps onto 3,658
ment is likely to default and that its damaged roofs, which offer a couple of
employee pension system will be in- months’ protection from the elements.
solvent by 2023. It assigned the terri-
tory the third-lowest of 21 ratings, only But as is often the case after a major
one level above Puerto Rico, which de- disaster, Broussard said, many people
clared a form of bankruptcy last year. fundamentally misunderstand the
role FEMA plays in helping local resi-
“We are not predicting a timing, but dents recover from a storm.
I don’t see the numbers adding up any
way that they can avoid” default, said “FEMA programs are designed to
Ken Kurtz, a senior vice president at help the uninsured and underinsured,
Moody’s Investor Service. to help people get back on their feet,”
Broussard said. “It’s not a program
Although the response by the Feder- that will make you whole again. That is
al Emergency Management Agency to what insurance is for.”
disasters in the Caribbean was widely
criticized initially as being too slow, Although insurance adjusters have
the agency so far has processed more disbursed more than $520 million to
than 33,000 claims for assistance from Virgin Islanders so far, many residents
the U.S. Virgin Islands and distributed say their properties were severely un-
more than $600 million for cleanup, derinsured. Policies for even a modest
emergency housing, rebuilding and house in this hurricane-prone region
loan-assistance programs. can cost up to $1,000 a month, causing
many here to take their chances with
Residents said authorities have minimum coverage or high deductibles.
made considerable progress in clean-
ing up. Roads once choked with thick Direct assistance from FEMA is
tree branches, jungle vines and util- capped at $33,300 per household, as is
the case stateside, although contrac-

generation of Virgin Islanders out of the middle class

ity poles are open. Power has been tors say it is far more expensive to re-
restored to more than 95 percent of build here because of limited supplies
customers, although Internet and and human resources. The average
cellphone service remains spotty. And FEMA grant payout so far ranges from
cruise ships that are the underpinning $6,000 to $8,000, the agency said.
of the local economy are once again
docking in ports, allowing some res- The result is that disparities between
taurants and tourist stands to reopen. rich and poor that have persisted for
generations have become even more
But that daily tourist foot traffic glaring.
masks the slog facing residents endur-
ing a triple whammy of setbacks – lack On St. John, where million-dollar vil-
of insurance, federal aid limits and job las cling to hillsides overlooking teal
loss as most major hotels remain closed. ocean waters and coral reefs, business
owners estimated that overall revenue
For many Virgin Islanders, more than is down as much as 70 percent this win-
75 percent of whom are black, the fi- ter. But second-home owners are re-
nancial hardship now facing them is turning to high-end restaurants for lob-
reinforcing their disconnect from the ster dinners and $100 bottles of wine.
mainland, which has only hardened af-
ter President Trump’s recent slur against For Livio Leoni, who owns Da Livio
some of their Caribbean neighbors. Italian restaurant in Cruz Bay on St.
John, the major lingering post-storm
“Everyone was looking at Puerto inconvenience is that the island’s U.S.
Rico, and no one was thinking about Customs and Border Protection office
us,” said Michael Walker, 48, who is liv- has not reopened.
ing in a leaky apartment and lost all of
his clothing and furniture in the storm. Without it, he said, he cannot im-
He’s waiting to hear from FEMA about port the cheese, cured meats and bot-
the status of his aid application. tles of wine bearing his family name


46 Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™


directly from Italy. He instead would adding that someone offered the cou- CYNTHIA RIVERS, 65, IS RETIRED AND while dumping more than 10 inches of
have to take a 25-minute ferry ride to ple a plot of land but they cannot af- RECENTLY HAD CONVERTED PART OF HER rain on the islands.
St. Thomas to pick up those goods. ford building materials.
HOME IN ST. CROIX TO A RENTAL UNIT. More torrential rain fell in October
“I usually buy the porcini directly Despite the overall income gains HURRICANE MARIA DAMAGED HER ROOF, and November, leaving many houses,
from Italy, but now I cannot have it,” here in the years before the storms, businesses and government buildings
Leoni said. the economy hit a setback during the AND NOW SHE DOES NOT HAVE THE with extensive water damage. Both
2008 recession and again after a large MONEY TO MAKE NEEDED REPAIRS. major hospitals sustained significant
Meanwhile, 25 miles away in Coral oil refinery on St. Croix closed in 2012. water damage, forcing critically injured
Bay, roofs and walls remain crumbled The slump saddled the territorial gov- bounding throughout 2017 until the patients to be airlifted to the mainland
alongside roads. Some residents in this ernment with $2 billion in debt. hurricanes. In August, the unemploy- for treatment.
port town, known for sailors and a bo- ment rate dipped to 10 percent for the
hemian culture, sleep in tents on their Still, the economy had been re- first time in five years. Eleven public schools were damaged
front porch or in vehicles. or destroyed. The school system also
Then on Sept. 6, Hurricane Irma’s lost a student-led chicken farm, two
A few hundred yards from the bay, eyewall plowed across St. Thomas and aqua farms used to produce fresh school
Pearlette Lawrence was sweeping St. John with winds topping 100 mph, lunches, and $3 million worth of musi-
the front porch of the house where damaging scores of roofs. Two weeks cal instruments and band uniforms. As
she had lived with her husband. The later, on Sept. 19, Hurricane Maria many as 58,000 books that had been
house has no roof, and the couple scraped past the southern island of sent home with students over the sum-
has been living in a shelter, but they St. Croix, taking even more roofs there mer also remain unaccounted for, ac-
return each day to cook meals and cording to Sharon Ann McCollum, the
hand-wash clothes. territory’s commissioner of education.

Before the hurricanes, Lawrence had When the school year resumed this
worked as a live-in maid and health-care fall, McCollum said, the system had 2,000
aid for an elderly woman who owned fewer students than it did in the 2016-
the house, earning $900 a month. The 2017 academic year, when about 13,000
homeowner died shortly after the storm, students were enrolled, with families re-
the couple said. locating to the mainland or elsewhere.

FEMA has approved an 18-month, Mapp, the governor, said his $7.5
$2,300 voucher to help the Law- billion funding request to the federal
rences find temporary housing. But government would rebuild schools,
rental units are hard to locate on a hospitals, the energy grid and ports
20-square-mile island, 60 percent of while helping to offset the loss of tour-
which is a national park. ist revenue, which had accounted for
30 percent of the overall economy.
“We still need some help to build
a house of our own,” Lawrence said,

Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™ Vero Beach 32963 / February 15, 2018 47


Congress hasn’t responded to the On Feb. 2, the U.S. Department of construct permanent roofs on about ability to recover from Hurricane Hugo
ambitious request, but it has promised Housing and Urban Development an- 12,000 homes. in 1989 and Hurricane Marilyn in 1995.
$900 million over three years to shore nounced that it had awarded $243
up the territory’s finances. That lifeline million to help residents with dam- “The recovery actually brings a Based on FEMA guidelines, however,
could help stave off more-severe job age not covered by private insurance, strong level of revenue. It brings strong the Sheltering and Temporary Essen-
losses because the government is the and Mapp’s government has secured employment, and it brings serious tial Power program (STEP), launched
territory’s largest employer. $600 million in federal funds to help consumption,” said Mapp, noting that by the federal government after 2012’s
skeptics also doubted the territory’s

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BY DAVID IGNATIUS | WASHINGTON POST macy during a Jan. 1 speech, and South to-face meetings will start before the rea right now if I wasn’t firm, strong
Korean President Moon Jae-in, who re- Olympics end; the United States will and willing to commit our total ‘might’
Sometimes diplomacy is the art of sponded positively to the overtures. characterize the goal as eventual denu- against the North,” he tweeted. Trump
going in two directions at once, and the clearization of the Korean Peninsula. famously likes to be flattered, and
Trump administration seems to have Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prob- Pyongyang may offer a different for- Moon this week wisely lauded his
chosen that sweet spot of ambiguity, ably gets a “save,” but not a win, for mula, but Washington probably won’t “huge contribution” to peace talks.
for now, in managing its continuing persisting with his diplomatic agenda care so long as the other side shows up.
confrontation with North Korea. despite periodic thunderbolts from There’s no sign yet that it will, however. Who has blinked here? It’s hard to
Trump. argue that it’s Kim. The mutual stand-
President Trump has paused his “Lit- The State Department official ex- down for the Olympics looks very much
tle Rocket Man” rhetoric and his boasts The problem with this Olympic peace plained that the conversation with like the “freeze for freeze” approach that
about the size of his own nuclear but- parade is that nothing has really been Pyongyang can “start at the edges,” Russia and China were recommending
ton. He’s insisting that talk of a U.S. resolved. Once the games have ended, with each country describing how it last year, although U.S. officials resist
military strike (which he had encour- all the same problems will continue to sees the future, and then “work toward the characterization.
aged) is “completely wrong” and is call- exist. If the United States resumes mili- the center,” meaning denuclearization.
ing for discussions with North Korea tary exercises, North Korea may go back “The Olympics themselves might be For all Trump’s bluster and self- con-
“under the right circumstances.” to testing missiles and bombs. “We have the perimeter” from which talks start, gratulation, the past month’s diplo-
avoided escalation of tension,” said says the official. macy really has been a Korean show,
A fragile detente seems to have be- one U.S. official, but in several months, with Kim and Moon both showing
gun. North Korea hasn’t tested weap- “we’re back to square one.” Trump argues that his nuclear considerable finesse. Kim gave his New
ons in more than a month and is sweet- brinkmanship over the past year has Year’s Day speech with the confidence
talking South Korea. North Korean Ideally, the next step would be direct worked. “Does anybody really believe of a member of the nuclear club, but
athletes and spectators are attending talks between the United States and that talks and dialogue would be go- he was also deferential toward Seoul.
the PyeongChang Olympics. The Unit- North Korea. A senior State Depart- ing on between North and South Ko- Moon responded avidly, but he also
ed States has postponed joint military ment official told me he hopes face- kept faith with Washington by stress-
exercises with South Korea until after ing that diplomacy must eventually
the last gold medal is awarded. encompass denuclearization.

Call it speed-skater diplomacy, if What the Trump administration can
you like, but the table for negotiations take credit for is building a robust inter-
has at least been set. Trump adminis- national coalition around the demand
tration diplomacy is like the oft-quot- that North Korea must eventually give
ed description of New England weath- up its nuclear weapons. Russia and
er: If you don’t like it, wait awhile. But China have joined in a series of U.N. Se-
at least through late February, we’re curity Council resolutions sanctioning
likely to continue experiencing a thaw North Korea, and this slow squeeze is
on the Korean Peninsula, and it’s inter- beginning to hurt. Diplomats report the
esting to explore what it means. beginnings of food shortages in North
Korea, and China is sending some North
Trump is already taking credit for the Korean workers back home.
success of “peace through strength,”
and you can’t dismiss his argument But the bottom line, alas, is that the
that firmness brought some benefits. U.S.-led coalition, so far, has failed to
But the real winners in this round are stop North Korea from becoming a de
probably North Korean leader Kim facto nuclear power.
Jong Un, who pivoted toward diplo-
A pause for the Olympics, and then,
alas, the crisis resumes. 

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