Nearly 27 years have passed since an ill-fated golf shot cost Scott Keefer the vision in one eye. “I was playing back home in Rhode Island, at Kirkbrae Country Club in Lincoln, three days before my 60th birthday,” Keefer was saying last week from his longtime winter residence at Ocean Club III. “I had driven the ball into the woods and there was a small opening to the green, so I tried to thread the needle through the trees with a 3-wood. “Before I hit it, I remember turning to my playing partner and telling him to be careful, in case the ball comes off the tree on the right.” Keefer’s shot hit a tree on the left. The ball ricocheted back at him and struck him in the left eye with such force that, as he describes it now, “It felt like my eye exploded.” Doctors told him the ball hit him flush in the eye, entirely missing his cheek, nose and brow. The cornea was destroyed. The retina was detached. “I forgot to tell myself to duck,” he quipped, not a hint of bitterness in his voice. READ FULL STORY
Thirteen was an unlucky number for Sebastian’s Kristen O’ Connor, who last week became the first finalist on “American Idol” to be dropped from the popular TV show. Her performance in the show’s segment last Wednesday ended her run, which had caused considerable excitement in the area, when she wound up in the bottom three spots after votes were tallied. On Thursday, O’Connor, 24, sat with Malaya Watson, 16, and M.K. Nobilette, 20, in the hot seat waiting for what seem liked hours to find out if who would be sent home. O’Connor was not voted into the final 13 by the national TV audience even though she had been a pick of three judges. The singer said she had an idea she might not make the cut. “After my performance last night, I had an idea,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “My performance needed to be the best I’ve ever given and unfortunately it wasn’t. I’m going to look back and be proud of it but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. I wanted to blow everyone away.” READ FULL STORY
In a bit of good news for the Indian River Lagoon, St. Johns River Water Management District committed $137,000 to pay for a Harbor Branch study that will investigate the relationship between drift macroalgae and the estuary’s ongoing environmental problems. The project is important because the disappearance of drift macroalgae, which is floating clumps of seaweed, probably played a critical role in the algae blooms that crippled the lagoon in 2011 and 2012 and persist today, but scientists aren’t sure exactly what that role was. According to the Indian River Lagoon Superbloom Plan of Investigation, a multiagency effort to protect and restore the estuary, “Drift macroalgae, the most abundant aquatic macrophyte community in the IRL, apparently crashed in mid-2010 and has yet to recover.” READ FULL STORY
After an initial rejection, the Sebastian city council finally passed, by a 3-2 margin, a new strong fertilizer ordinance championed by the state and already adopted by Indian River County, St. Lucie County and the cities of Vero Beach, Indian River Shores and others to help protect the Indian River Lagoon. The council’s second vote on the ordinance was taken Feb. 26 before a standing-room-only crowd. The council’s second reading, public hearing and final approval vote are scheduled to take place March 26. Council member Jerome Adams brought the issue back to the table after it had been recommended by the city Natural Resources Board last year, then shot down by the Sebastian city council 4-1 in September. As read by City Attorney Robert Ginsburg, the ordinance would amend the City Code Section 50-5 – Health and Sanitation – by prohibiting the application of certain fertilizers between Jun. 1 and Sept. 30 (called the blackout period), and also regulating fertilizer content and application rates, with certain exemptions. When the ordinance first went before the council Sept. 11, council member Andrea Coy was the lone pro vote. This time Coy, in the 3-2 “yes” vote, was joined by Adams and council member Richard Gillmor, who had not been on the council at the time of the last vote but has been a vocal lagoon protection advocate. READ FULL STORY
To fish or not to fish – that was the question before the Sebastian Recreation Advisory Committee last week as the group, at the request of Parks and Recreation Superintendent Chris McCarthy, considered creating some specific rules for the popular pastime in the Storm Water park and drainage canals. After lengthy debate, a motion was made and seconded to officially allow catch-and-release-only fishing in the Storm Water Park and canals. The vote was 3-1 in favor, with Chairman John Tenerowicz casting the lone dissenting vote. The proposal will now go to the St. John’s River Water Management District for pre-approval, then to the Sebastian City Council as a recommendation. Although there have been no problems and people enjoyed fishing in Sebastian for years, McCarthy noted that fishing is not officially allowed in the Storm Water Park, governed by the St. John’s River Water Management District, and “no fishing” are signs in place.
He told the committee that “many people fish (in these waters) all the time, we really have no rules,” and that it involves mostly just catch and release. “We just wanted you all to take a look at it ... and give me your ideas.” READ FULL STORY