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Boy gets replacement for stolen boat
week of April 17, 2014

Twelve-year-old Nicholas Soltysik was surprised and saddened when late last month someone slipped into his backyard near the river in Sebastian and stole the little rowboat that was his pride and joy. He and his dad, Steven Soltysik, had worked hard to spruce it up, and he couldn’t understand why someone would do something so mean. Soltysik did his best to explain to Nicholas that sometimes people just do bad things. But, thanks to the kindness of a stranger, the story has a happy ending. Sebastian resident Dominic “Dom” Civetta, who owns Dom’s Technical, Inc., read the Sebastian River News story about Nicholas and his stolen boat, and how he and his dad had worked together getting it seaworthy. “I had this jon boat just sitting by the side of my house,” Civetta said. “I had picked it up a couple of years ago and hadn’t been using it. I was going to sell it and then I saw the story and I remembered when I was a kid I had a boat and I know how I would have felt if it got stolen.” READ FULL STORY

Sebastian doc got $4M-plus from Medicare
week of April 17, 2014

A Sebastian oncologist earned more than $4 million in Medicare reimbursements in 2012, making him the second-highest earner of Medicare reimbursements in Indian River County. The oncologist, Noor Merchant, who earned a total of $4,097,556 from Medicare during that year, trails only Vero Beach ophthalmologist Dr. Thomas Baudo of the Florida Eye Institute among Medicare earners in the county. The Department of Health and Human Services last week released figures on individual Medicare reimbursements throughout the country and The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal published the entire list online. Dr. Baudo received $6,678,904 from Medicare for 2012, making him seventh in the hierarchy of Medicare’s top-paid physicians in Florida, which, not surprisingly, ranks first among all states for having the physicians getting the most money from the government insurance program for the elderly. The Medicare Top Ten in Florida – five ophthalmologists; four oncologists and one cardiologist – received from $20.8 million to $5.8 million each for a year of practice. Nationally, the Top Ten Medicare earners, which included three from Florida, received between $20.8 million and $9 million each. READ FULL STORY

New law bans alcohol in city cemeteries
week of April 17, 2014

The city fathers of Sebastian want to make it clear they believe it is inappropriate for people to drink alcohol in city cemeteries and that they will not tolerate any such behavior in the future. A few incidents of alcohol use in the cemeteries last summer precipitated the need for an amendment to the city code to clarify the regulations in regard to cemeteries. At its April 9 meeting, the city council, without any comment or public discussion, passed on first reading a new ordinance concerning the regulation of conduct in city cemeteries. The ordinance amends the city code with regard to cemeteries, to prohibit “possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages in the cemetery and engaging in raucous activity.” The new ordinance would also prohibit parking on or driving over grass burial areas. According to city staff, consumption of alcohol is not allowed in city parks or on any other city property, cemeteries included, unless a special permit is granted by the city council. READ FULL STORY

Joe Griffin chosen as city manager
week of April 17, 2014

Joe Griffin has finally been confirmed in the job of Sebastian city manager. It was with great pleasure and a sense of relief that the Sebastian city council, at its April 9 meeting, voted unanimously to name Griffin to the position, a job he has been performing on an interim basis since mid-December after his predecessor Al Minner resigned to take a similar position in Leesburg, FL. Although the entire council had always held Griffin in high regard, and both Councilman Richard Gillmor and Mayor Bob McPartlan had pushed for naming him to the permanent position right away, the majority of the council ultimately decided it would be wisest to go through an open search process. To assist in the search, the city enlisted the help of the Florida City and County Management Association Range Rider Program, in which experienced, respected, retired city and county managers assist municipalities seeking new leadership. Following a meeting with city staff the previous week, Range Rider and Vero Beach resident Kurt Bressner appeared before the council to present the list of nine semi-finalists (there had been 10, but one dropped out), selected after each of the 42 submitted resumes had been carefully considered. READ FULL STORY

New hire plans tough enforcement of fertilizer rules
week of April 17, 2014

County officials have followed through with their promise to hire a new stormwater education and fertilizer enforcement officer to help keep nitrogen and other harmful chemicals out of the Indian River Lagoon, and it seems like they picked the right person. Alexis Thomas, who graduated last May from the University of South Florida with a degree in Environmental Science and went to work for the county in February, grew up here from the age of 3 and feels a deep personal connection to the scenic waterway that is the aesthetic and economic heart of our community. “The lagoon is very important to me, which is why I am so excited I get to help it now,” says Thomas. Her job is twofold: She will patrol the county to make sure strict fertilizer regulations passed by the county commission last summer are followed by homeowners and lawncare professionals; at the same time she is responsible for educating the public about the ordinance and storm water pollution in general. READ FULL STORY

New hospital CEO named on interim basis
week of April 10, 2014

The Chief Operations Officer at Sebastian River Medical Center, Kelly Enriquez, has taken over as Interim Chief Executive Officer of the hospital in the wake the of the sudden resignation of Steven Salyer.  Enrquez will continue to serve in that capacity until a permanent replacement has been identified, according to an announcement by SRMC Director of Community Relations Angela Dickens, who added that a search is already underway for Salyer’s permanent replacement.  In a move that completely blindsided the Medical Center’s Board of Trustees and staff, Salyer announced over the weekend of March 22-23, that he was resigning his position, effective immediately, citing personal reasons. He later elaborated in an interview with Sebastian River News that he is in Tennessee, looking after his mother, who is suffering from leukemia, after the recent death of his father.  Sebastian hospital Board of Trustees Chairman Frank Sherako said Salyer’s sudden decision “absolutely took us all by surprise. I’m disappointed,” he said, adding that he nevertheless respects Salyer’s decision. READ FULL STORY

Democrat files for Mayfield’s District 4 seat
week of April 10, 2014

Sebastian River High School teacher Jorge Lugo, 35, will challenge incumbent Republican Florida State Representative Debbie Mayfield in the Florida House District 54 election on Nov. 4. The District covers Indian River, and northern St. Lucie counties.  Lugo, a Democrat, has taught at Sebastian River High School for 11 years and holds a Bachelor’s degree in history from Lebanon Valley College in Annville, PA. He serves on the Florida AFL-CIO executive board; the Florida Education Association Government Relations Committee; the IRC School District Health Advisory Task Force; and the IRC Education Association Executive Board, where he is North County Director of Secondary Education.
“I am committed to moving all of Florida and the residents of District 54 forward through the 21st century,” Lugo said on his website, explaining his decision to challenge Mayfield. “Focusing on education and building a solid foundation for continued success is my main objective. The needs and interests of the residents of District 54 are the needs and interests that matter most to me.”

Fellsmere celebrates 103rd civic birthday with pride
week of April 10, 2014

The day known across Indian River County as “Fellsmere Day” has become a staple for the community of Fellsmere, bringing residents together every year in celebration of the city’s birthday.  On Saturday, the event kicked off with a pancake breakfast and continued with a parade, live entertainment, food, opportunities to learn the history of the city, and a “Little Miss, Little Mister Fellsmere” pageant. Residents of the community showed up in droves to enjoy the whole day of festivities, all centered around the pride of Fellsmere.  Mayor Susan Adams honored Moses Santos as this year’s Fellsmere Day Grand Marshall, a title awarded to a member of the Fellsmere community as an honor for service and having a positive influence on Fellsmere.  Santos has been deeply involved in Fellsmere since 1990, when he took a job with Redlands Christian Migrant Association. In 1995 he began working with the Fellsmere Medical Center, known today as Treasure Coast Community Health, and he now serves as the Director of Community Outreach of the organization. READ FULL STORY

Opposition mounts to All Aboard Florida trains
week of April 10, 2014

Suddenly, it seems, everyone from Sebastian to Jupiter wants to derail All Aboard Florida and its $1.5 billion plan to provide high-speed rail service between Orlando International Airport and South Florida’s three metropolitan areas.  And Indian River County appears to be leading the rapidly growing opposition along the Treasure Coast.  “This project would do great damage to our quality of life,” county commissioner Bob Solari said. “It will impact us in a half dozen ways we know of and another half dozen ways we haven’t thought of yet.  “As people learn more and more about it, more and more of them are getting on board. It’s remarkable how much more we’re hearing from them the past couple of weeks. But we still have a lot of work to do,” Solari added.  The obvious concerns stemming from 900-foot-long passenger trains hurtling through the county at 110 mph 32 times each day between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. are traffic disruptions, blaring horns, delayed emergency vehicles, public safety along the tracks and the likely drop in property values in neighborhoods in close proximity to the road crossings. READ FULL STORY

Sebastian River Hospital CEO resigns
week of April 3, 2014

In a move that completely blindsided the Sebastian River Medical Center’s Board of Trustees and staff, CEO Steven Salyer announced over the weekend of March 22-23 that he was resigning his position, effective immediately, citing personal reasons.  Board of Trustees Chairman Frank Sherako “regretfully” confirmed the news and agreed that the seemingly sudden decision “absolutely took us all by surprise. I’m disappointed,” he said, adding that he nevertheless respects Salyer’s decision.   As to rumors that Salyer might be considering a top management position with Indian River Medical Center in Vero Beach, which itself has had recent leadership issues, Sherako said he was not aware of that or any other specific reason for Salyer’s sudden resignation. IRMC has been searching for a chief operating officer to serve as a top administrator under CEO Jeff Susi since last year. READ FULL STORY

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