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June 29, 2009

City accepting applications for Green Living Task Force

The city is currently accepting applications for the Green Living Task Force, which will be responsible for developing a plan to heighten environmental awareness throughout Boca Raton. Those interested should possess a knowledge of or interest in environmental sustainability, and the nine members will be appointed by the city council. Members must be city residents or own real property in Boca Raton, but up to two members can be Boca business owners. The task force will present its findings in a written report to the city council, and applications must be submitted to the city clerk’s office by July 17. For more information or to download the application, visit www.ci.boca-raton.fl.us and click on taskforce application.

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Woodfield residents step up to help fight hunger

neighborhoodlemonade.jpg Residents of Woodfield Country Club and Woodfield Hunt Club recently joined forces to help local families in crisis. The "Woodfield Feeds the Hungry" initiative was led by volunteers from the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, and they raised $9,000 in food and monetary donations during May.
“As unbelievable as it may sound, there are many people in our Boca-Delray Jewish community who are going hungry. The donations went to the Forster Family Kosher Food Pantry, a program of Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service that is helping more families than ever before,” said project co-chairwoman Susan Rahn.
Several of Woodfield’s younger residents also joined the project and raised funds by canvassing neighborhoods and setting up lemonade stands. For more information or to assist, e-mail jessicar@bocafed.org or call 561-852-3109.

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Klein to talk about health care and veterans' issues this week

Congressman Ron Klein will be in Boca Raton this week discussing health care and veterans' issues. Klein will host a health care town hall from 2 to 3:30 p.m. June 29 at the Boca Raton Community Hospital’s Dawson Theater, 800 Meadows Road, and his staff will assist constituents with health care casework. He will also meet with the Veteran’s Advisory Board from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. June 30 at Palm Beach Community College in room HT 102, 3000 St. Lucie Ave., to assist with VA claims and registration for the new GI Bill. For more information, call 561-544-6910.

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June 22, 2009

Foundation celebrates victory against dredging near Lake Worth pier

jjbaby.jpgJJ Grey headlined the event under the watchful eye of a budding fan. A crowd of eco-enthusiasts gathered this past weekend for the inaugural "Surfin Snook Summer Jam" at the Sunset Cove Amphitheater in West Boca to raise awareness and celebrate a recent landmark decision. The event was co-sponsored by the Snook Foundation and the Palm Beach County chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, both of whom were plaintiffs in a recent lawsuit against the town of Palm Beach. The proposed project would have granted the town a permit to dredge and fill 1.8 miles of beach surrounding the Lake Worth pier with what the groups argued was poor-quality sediment.

"This project would have obliterated the beach and coastal environment because the material they proposed to use would not cement. It would end up on top of 7 acres of reef, kill off marine life and jeopardize tourism revenue by impacting surfing, fishing and diving," said event co-chairman and Surfrider chapter chairman Greg Lyon.

Snook Foundation Southeast Florida Regional Director Brett Fitzgerald said the lawsuit is proof positive that grassroots campaigns can and do bear fruit.

"It really is a huge victory on so many levels. There was so much science and concrete evidence backing our case that it would have been very difficult to come to any other conclusion," he said.

Dee and Ed Ottenthal moved to West Boca one year ago from New Jersey and it was their first time at the amphitheater.

"This is such a beautiful venue, and the music has been fantastic. What these organizations are doing is so important, and it also nice to be able to spend time outside watching the sun set sipping a glass of wine," said Dee.

For information about the organizations, visit www.surfriderpbc.org or www.snookfoundation.org.

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June 19, 2009

Boca Raton resident donates $40,000 to Red Cross

xnxfpgbrfSteinberg0624.jpgJulie Ott, Lee Steinberg, Larry Casey, CEO of the American Red Cross Greater Palm Beach Area Chapter, and Tracy Sussman, manager of the South County Service Center.

Boca Raton resident Lee Steinberg moved to the area in 2003, just in time to witness the aftermath of a busy hurricane season. He saw how much support the local Red Cross provided to struggling residents and has been a major benefactor for the last six years. Steinberg recently donated $40,000 to the Red Cross as part of its HEROES Campaign, a six-week fundraising initiative that wrapped up June 5.

“The money was donated through the Lee Pearlson Steinberg Foundation, which my mother is also a part of. We try to support organizations that make an impact locally, and the Red Cross certainly fits that bill,” he said.

Steinberg said he had always known of the Red Cross’ work internationally, but was unaware of how much assistance the group provides to local residents in need.

“We all know how quickly they respond in a storm’s aftermath, but they do so much more. If a local family is displaced by a fire, they are right there with food or anything else they may need,” said Steinberg.

He also said the only other entities that provide so much support to so many are police and fire departments, both of which are funded.

“The Red Cross sustains by way of donations, and they do not receive any kind of funding. I wanted to be involved with an organization that helps everyone regardless of race, gender, age or any other factors,” he said.

For more information or to assist, call 561-994-2060 or visit www.redcross-pbc.org/southcounty.

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June 18, 2009

Get a carbon monoxide detector among advice at hurricane workshop

A handful of residents were recently treated to a wealth of pertinent information during the city’s Hurricane Preparedness Workshop. Representatives from the National Hurricane Center, Red Cross, Fire Rescue Services and various city departments spoke in a unified voice about the importance of early preparation and extending the discussion.

“I’d like to think that the attendance is a bit low because everyone knows this information and is making the necessary plans. Hopefully, everyone here will extend the conversation and discuss these measures with their neighbors,” said Boca’s emergency management coordinator Nicole Gasparri.

Meteorologist Robert Molleda made the trek north from the hurricane center in Miami and provided a comprehensive overview of the forecast process and Boca’s susceptibility.

“Based on history and all of the models, the chance of tropical storm or hurricane force winds passing within 75 miles of Boca Raton is about 15 percent. That may not seem like a big number, but the odds of winning the lottery hover in the .001 percentile but people do win,” he said.

Hurricane season officially began June 1, but Molleda said things really heat up in August.

“Based solely on numbers, Sept. 10 is the peak of the season. That said, sometimes people let their guard down a bit as we near October, but as we all know in South Florida, October can be a busy month,” he said.

Proper generator use and storage was a recurring theme, and public information officer Frank Correggio was emphatic about one particular point.

“Even if you don’t have a generator yourself, your neighbors may, and you should absolutely have a carbon monoxide detector. Do not run the generator near a vent or especially near an open window,” he said.

For information on city measures and programs, visit http://www.ci.boca-raton.fl.us/safety/hurricane.


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June 17, 2009

St. Andrew's School becomes first school in state to receive gold-level LEED certification

St. Andrew’s School recently became the first school in the state and the sixth in the nation to be awarded the Gold level certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. The rating is based on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, which is a voluntary third party rating system where credits are earned for satisfying specified green building criteria.

“We are thrilled and honored that the Moabery Early Years Learning Center has been certified at the Gold level by the LEED for Schools Rating System. Saint Andrew’s School is fully committed to finding long term ways to do our part and live in balance with the natural world that sustains us,” said school headmaster Dr. Ann Marie Krejcarek. F
or more information about the rating system, visit www.usgbc.org.

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June 16, 2009

'Come Out & Play' at Sugar Sand Park

The Sugar Sand Park Community Center, 300 S. Military Trail, is accepting applications for its third annual juried art show, "Come Out & Play," until 5 p.m. July 3. Interested artists must be 18 or older, and entries can be two or three-dimensional work. Forms are available at www.sugarsandpark.org or at the community center. For more information, call 561-347-3900.

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West Boca Medical Center becomes certified Primary Stroke Center

West Boca Medical Center was recently awarded certification as a Primary Stroke Center by the state. The designation is based on treatment protocols and the hospital’s ability to diagnose and treat stroke patients rapidly.
“Being certified as a Primary Stroke Center is truly a great accomplishment for West Boca Medical Center and our community as a whole. This designation reinforces West Boca Medical Center’s strategic goal of achieving excellence in healthcare,” said WBMC CEO Mitch Feldman.
Time is of the essence in the event of a stroke, and Feldman said treatment begins immediately and continues after the patient is discharged. For more information, visit www.westbocamedctr.com.

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June 15, 2009

Mae Volen to partner with Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County

Starting July 1, the Mae Volen Senior Center will partner with the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County to begin day-to-day management of the Adolph and Rose Levis Alzheimer and Adult Day Care Center on the Federation’s campus in West Boca. “We are especially pleased that our search for a partner led us to Mae Volen, a highly qualified and most experienced agency from within our own community. Our Federation has provided tremendous support to this vital service and will continue to do so,” said Federation President and CEO William Bernstein.
Mae Volen President and CEO Elizabeth Lugo said the union is a perfect fit. “Like the Federation and JCC, we know the profound value, for both clients and caregivers, of a rich, nurturing environment that recognizes seniors as unique and complex individuals. This is now our joint commitment to the community,” she said. For more information, call 561-558-2510.

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Boca's annual Hurricane Preparedness Workshop set for June 16

The city is hosting its annual Hurricane Preparedness Workshop at 7 p.m. June 16 at 6500 Congress Ave. National Hurricane Center meteorologist Robert Molleda is the featured speaker, and there will also be representatives from various city departments. “This is a great opportunity for citizens, business owners and professionals to learn about storms, storm preparation and equipment and to ask questions about what service will be available should a hurricane or disaster strike our area,” said public information officer Frank Correggio. For more information, call 561-982-4000.

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June 12, 2009

Condo owners fight no-pet policy

Nanette Gordon lives in an East Boca condo with a no-pet policy that she finds quite absurd. She now sits on the board of directors for Citizens for Pets in Condos, a Tamarac-based group seeking to change association polices prohibiting pet ownership.
“The health benefits, both physical and mental, of owning a pet cannot be disputed. Because of a minority of irresponsible pet owners, we all have to suffer,” she said. Gordon’s health benefit argument was bolstered recently when Humana Insurance came on board and partnered with the grassroots organization.
"At Humana, we're dedicated to providing guidance to our members when they need it most, and in many cases that can be when folks would benefit from the companionship and affection a pet can provide," said Humana Florida Senior Products CEO Michael Seltzer.
Gordon said the rationale against pet ownership typically centers on noise or neglectful owners not picking up waste.
“I can understand fines for irresponsible owners, but a total ban makes no sense. Also, I want cats, and I really don’t understand what harm a small, indoor animal causes any neighbors,” she said.
The argument for pet ownership is not based solely on the owner, but advocates also note the benefit to the animal population.
“Not only do we help responsible pet owners and guardians keep their companion animals, but we also do our part to reduce the huge number of perfectly adoptable animals who die needlessly in shelters each day,” said Maida Genser, president of Citizens for Pets in Condos.
Gordon drew parallels between other community restrictions that do not result in prohibition of any kind.
“If a neighbor has a loud party or parks in an assigned space, do we ban gatherings and parking? No we don’t. We should certainly fine owners that do not pick up waste or whose pets are a nuisance, but banning it entirely makes no sense,” she said. For more information, visit www.petsincondos.org.

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Boca families benefit from exchange student program

xnxfpgbrfExchange0617.jpgSome exchange students at Monte's home. Two Boca Raton families, the Tices and Lubitkens, took in foreign exchange students this year as part of the Program for Academic Exchange, and things went so well they plan on doing it again next year. “The director of my chess club posted a notice to members about the program, and that is where I first leaned of PAX. Fellipe arrived last August and just left three weeks ago, and he needed a bit of guidance at first but it turned out to be a great experience,” said Marni Tice.
After no time at all, Fellipe was taking out the trash, clearing the dishes and became part of the family.
“They come with their own funds, so there it not a great expense, just a few extra portions at meal time,” she said.
The Tices are expecting a female student from Germany in August, and Marni said it will be nice to have a female this time around.
“I have four kids and it was nice to have a big-brother type this go around, and now they will benefit from a big sister,” she said.
The Lubitkens took in Jao from Thailand, and Amy Lubitken said it provided her children with a cultural education not available in textbooks.
“There are so many cultural differences that my children learned, like the fact they do not use ovens to cook, and they were things they probably never would have come across. She really became much more like a family member after no time at all,” said Lubitken.
PAX community coordinator Jeanne Monte said the program places about 1,000 exchange students a year, but that the program cuts both ways.
“We also send close to 500 American students overseas each year," she said. For more information, call 561-883-2783 or visit www.pax.org.

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June 10, 2009

Boca attorney appointed to school district's Technology Committee

Michelle%20Bamdas%20%282%29.jpgBoca Raton resident Michelle J. Bamdas was recently appointed to the Palm Beach County School District’s Technology Committee. Bamdas is an attorney with the Boca law firm Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith, PLLC and a mother of two children attending district schools in Boca.
“I very much look forward to serving on the committee to champion technology for all of the district’s schools. My longtime passion in this area came from the frustration of seeing new schools being built with technology and older schools being retrofitted, while mid-age schools remained stagnant,” she said. The technology committee has seven voting community members and seven non-voting ex-officio members, and they focus on assisting the school board with its technological infrastructure.

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June 9, 2009

Boca Fire Rescue presents Paramedic of the Year award

badge.jpgCouncil member Constance Scott, Firefighter / Paramedics Jesus Barrera, Evan Gaub, Jonathan Vought, Paramedic Lt. Patrick Bayne, Firefighter / Paramedic Sean Migone and Fire Chief Tom Wood.
Boca Fire Rescue presented its award for Paramedic of the Year recently to Firefighter/Paramedic Sean Migone.
“Sean was off duty when he rescued a swimmer who had broken his neck when he dove into the ocean at Hollywood Beach. Fire Rescue Lt. Pat Bayne was also presented a department award for excellence for his exceptional work in EMS training and competing on the departments Advanced Life Support Competition Team,” said public information officer Frank Correggio. New badges were also presented to Firefighter / Paramedics Jesus Barrera, Jonathan Vought and Evan Gaub. Barrera and Vought have been members of Boca Fire Rescue’s explorer post for nearly five years.

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June 8, 2009

Soldier returning from Iraq gets a 21st birthday bash

Shaan Hogun, 21, joined the Marines immediately after graduating West Boca High School in 2006 and spent his 21st birthday in Iraq. He returned from duty May 15, and his mother, Maria Rose, wanted to throw him a welcome home/birthday bash, and the party evolved into much more.
“We have missed so much with Shaan from Christmas to New Years to birthdays, and we wanted to give him the hero’s welcome he deserves,” she said.
Rose wanted to rent the hall at the community where she lives, but needed a little assistance, and the Sons of Italy Leonardo da Vinci Lodge in Boca Raton came through in a big way. The group got together and paid for the space, provided a tenor to sing the National Anthem, reached out to State Rep. Adam Hasner and Sen. Ted Deutch, both of whom provided proclamations.
“I was expecting a birthday party with a few friends, but had no idea all of this would take place. There were veterans from prior wars, and it really was overwhelming,” said Hogun. He was also presented with an American Flag that flew over the state capital in his honor, which he said was a highlight of the evening.
Da Vinci Lodge founder and president Frank Giacalone said they caught wind of Rose’s plight through a community association meeting.
“Our vice president was at the meeting, and once we heard how she wanted to honor her son, we had our own meeting. Everyone agreed that this hero should be welcomed home with open arms, and we all pitched in,” he said.
Hogun leaves soon for Camp Lejeune, N.C., and he will then deploy for a global mission.
“I will be leaving on an aircraft carrier, and we will be deployed to various ports around the world. This night will stay with me, and it is something I will think about a lot,” he said.

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June 5, 2009

Sitting down with Danielle Stever, founder of Heading for Hope

xnxfpgbrfSpotStever0610.jpg
Danielle Stever, founder Heading For Hope

danielle@headingforhope.com

1. How did the idea for Heading for Hope come about? We are involved in a number of causes at my place of employment, and it seemed like it would be a lot of fun to do these things with people I know.

2. How does the organization differ from other philanthropic entities? Our motto is no pressure and no problem. People can volunteer when they have time, and there is no hassles or bureaucracy.

3. Who decides the causes? We get together at our meetings and brainstorm. We then list all of the events and activities on our Facebook page, which is an open group and anyone can join.

4. What has the group been involved with thus far? The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Forgotten Soldiers, MS Walks, Habitat for Humanity to name but a few.

5. How many people are in the group? We have 75 members to date all over South Florida, and we also have postings in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

6. What is the ultimate goal? Ideally, we would like to see this catch on across the country. We are a group of friends that like to volunteer and raise money together, and it would be wonderful to see the initiative replicated in other cities.

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June 3, 2009

Boca police implement new communication tool

The Boca Raton Police Department recently implemented a new communication tool designed to deliver vital information to residents in real time. Nixle is similar to Twitter, but was created specifically for law enforcement agencies.
“We can send e-mails or text messages to subscribers and give them information about a road blockage, evacuation, predator in the area or anything else of importance,” said public information officer Mark Economou.
Residents enter their address when signing up for the free service and will receive pertinent information for their specific area.
“It can be as pinpointed as a street, or we may send city-wide blasts,” said Economou. He also said residents need not worry about being sent information continuously, which would defeat the purpose.
“We will not send things of little importance, as that may lead to people ignoring the message,” said Economou.
The service is free, but text rates do apply. To sign up, visit www.nixle.com/boca-raton-welcome.html.

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First-aid course offered June 8

Boca Fire Rescue and the Boca Raton Community Hospital are partnering to offer a Heartsaver First Aid class from 6 to 10 p.m. June 8 at 6500 Congress Ave., room 211. “Preparing for emergencies goes beyond stocking up on canned food, water and batteries, and now is the time to take a first-aid course. The Heartsaver First Aid Course teaches rescuers to effectively recognize and treat adult emergencies in the critical first minutes until fire and rescue personnel arrive,” said public information officer Frank Correggio. After completing the course, participants will receive a course completion card from the American Heart Association. The cost is $30, which includes course material. For more information, call The Smart Heart CPR Line at 561-955-4468.

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June 2, 2009

Coomes appointed to West Boca Chamber's board

Larry%20Coomes.jpgWest Boca Medical Center’s Chief Operating Officer Larry Coomes has been appointed to the West Boca Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors by chairman Tom Kruse. Coomes has been the hospital’s COO since 2005 and worked as a healthcare consultant prior to his position at West Boca Medical Center.
“We are extremely pleased to have Larry join our chamber’s board of directors, and his expertise will be an asset to our program,” said Kruse.
Coomes holds a bachelor’s in business from Eastern Illinois University and an MBA from Duke University.

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Montessori school students win at math, science fair, geography bee

2_Claremont%20photo2.jpgDevin Weinberg, Jessie Brandwein, Alex Venarchick.
Three Claremont Montessori School students were honored recently for lofty academic achievements. Fifth-graders Jessie Brandwein and Alex Venarchick earned ribbons at the 2009 Palm Beach County Elementary Mathematics and Science Fair in a competition that featured 1,456 entries.
“Jessie won the coveted first-place Green Earth Award for her mathematics project on the popularity of reusable grocery bags, and she was judged alongside green projects across all grades. Alex donned a second-place ribbon for his science project on the biodegradability of toilet paper,” said Rebecca Venarchick.
Fifth-grader Devin Weinberg competed at the state level in the National Geographic Bee, and was one of only six elementary school-aged children competing in the contest for grades four through eight.

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June 1, 2009

Program is developing character - one child at a time

Adonis Balbuena’s background is in martial arts and he owned his own academy, but he decided to switch gears recently. He is currently the director of operations for the Children’s Character Development Center, 401 NW Boca Raton Blvd., and he said the children in his charge do much more than just kill time or clock watch.
“As a single father, I understand that utilizing childcare facilities is a necessity. At many of these places, you just get the sense that they are watching their watches and just keeping kids busy until you arrive,” he said.
The CCDA uses an award-winning character curriculum, Character First!, which teaches children leadership qualities including loyalty, patience, self-control and attentiveness among others.
“We work on one concept per week, and the reason I really like this curriculum is because it reflects the school year. The lessons are broken down into 36 parts, and we really gear the plan toward their interests,” he said.
Balbuena sits perspective clients down for an interview and gears the child’s program toward their specific needs and interests.
“Let’s say Sally wants to be a journalist. I would devise a curriculum where she would interview mom and dad, take pictures, write the story and I would print it out,” he said.
Balbuena said this approach grew out of a desire to begin teaching children at an early age about leadership and character.
“If you want to be a police officer, there is an academy for that. If you want to be a doctor, you go to med school, but where can children go in these formative years to learn about character and leadership?” he said.
Balbuena also knows cost can be an impediment and said money would not prevent a child from attending the academy.
“Losing an arm, that’s a problem. Not having enough money is a challenge, a challenge that can be easily overcome,” he said.
The academy accepts children ages 2-11, and it is offering a $99 a week summer special. For more information, visit www.characterthroughsports.com.

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About This Blog

Marci Shatzman


Marci Shatzman is a staff writer for the Boca Forum and West Boca Forum.
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