LAKE WORTH — Despite still facing serious challenges and dealing with years of benign neglect, Lake Worth is a city on the upswing, one that is finally ready to put a 30 year downward trend in the rear view mirror, Mayor Pam Triolo said Tuesday night during her annual State of the City Address.
“We truly have turned the corner,” Triolo said during her 35-minute speech at the Lake Worth Casino ballroom.”We’re going in a new direction…many good things, record-breaking things are happening.”
Triolo pointed to several projects, including the $40 million road project that is scheduled to start in the spring, the new solar panel energy field that will be unveiled on Feb.28 and one the city said will generate enough clean energy to power more than 250 homes and reduce carbon emissions by four million pounds.
She also referenced the LED street lighting project that has city crews replacing more than 4,000 city lights with energy efficient LED bulbs.
Lake Worth said it’s only the third Florida city to build a solar farm.
“The new Lake Worth is a city that embraces the future,” Triolo said.
One of the biggest problems facing the city — and Palm Beach County — is the heroin epidemic.
“It’s ravaging lives across our nation and it is no secret that we are seeing it play out on our streets,” Triolo said.
Last year Lake Worth added five more Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies to help fight the war on drugs.
“The old Lake Worth would have considered dumping the sheriff’s office contract, not expanding the number of deputies,” Triolo said.
LAKE WORTH — The six candidates vying for two City Commission district seats Monday night participated in a wide-ranging Candidate Forum at the Lake Worth Playhouse that covered a variety of issues, including sober homes, crime and increasing term lengths.
Running in District 2 are Omari Hardy, a civics teacher at Roosevelt Middle School, William Joseph, a private investigator and incumbent Christopher McVoy. In District 4, a seat now held by Ryan Maier who is not seeking reelection are Maryann Polizzi, a consultant fundraiser, community organizer Herman Robinson and Ellie Whittey, a former entrepreneur and one-time senior executive to former Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vanna.
During the forum, which lasted more than two hours and was hosted by the Neighborhood Association Presidents Council, the candidates fielded 17 questions that were previously submitted by residents. The candidates were then allowed to ask one “yes” or “no” question of their fellow candidates.
Asked whether the candidates were satisfied with the communication between residents and elected officials, all six said they weren’t.
“We can do better,” Robinson said. “Communication is key.”
McVoy said there needs to be more transparency in making city information available to the public.
Whittey recommended more staff training and better use of social media.
As for building a spring training baseball facility in John Prince Park, west of Lake Worth, only Whittey supported the idea.
“It takes money to make money,” she said. “Do you know what kind of revenue it would bring?”
Hardy said he would never vote for such a proposal if it ever came before the commission.
“We can’t use public funds to build a baseball stadium,” he said.
Polizzi said the city doesn’t have the money for such a project.
“Lake Worth should not be responsible for a baseball field,” she said. “That should be Palm Beach County.”
Check back later for a full report on tonight’s forum
Why you should check it out: In addition to gourmet pizza, which sells for $4.25 per slice, everything from chicken cacciatore to a Philly cheesesteak are on the menu. Sure, you can never go wrong with Downtown Pizza, which is down the street, but a little competition never hurt anybody.
Why you should check it out: Remember the old days when you would visit a clothing store and get personalized treatment? Now, you’ll be lucky if you can even find a salesperson. Not in this quaint women’s clothing store. The owners —Carrie Childs and Elle Horigan — actually take time to get to know their customers like girlfriends. Plus, there are plenty of designer threads. And what lady doesn’t like that?
Why you should check it out: Who doesn’t love flowers? You’d have to be some kind of Grinch not to love the smell and look of freshly cut flowers. And you’re not a Grinch, are you? Besides, Valentine’s Day is coming up…hint, hint.
Why you should check it out: A Mexican street food eatery that replaced the popular Taco Lady. The food has been getting rave reviews from many residents. The 400-square-foot space remains as intimate as ever.
LAKE WORTH — The Neighborhood Association Presidents Council is scheduled to host a Candidate Forum tonight at the Lake Worth Playhouse.
In District 2, Omari Hardy, a civics teacher at Roosevelt Middle School and William Joseph, a private investigator, will face off against Christopher McVoy. Meanwhile, consultant fundraiser Maryann Polizzi, Herman Robinson, a community organizer and Ellie Whittey, once a senior executive secretary to former Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana are running for the District 4 seat now held by Ryan Maier, who is not seeking another term.
LAKE WORTH — In the end, it came down to family for John “Jack” Borsch, Lake Worth’s outgoing Utilities Director who’s leaving next month.
Borsch has lived apart from his wife the past eight years while he’s worked in California and Lake Worth. His wife, who works for the chancellor at Lone Star College, lives in Houston.
Borsch has five grandchildren he rarely sees. He has three grown daughters who live in Houston, Phoenix and Utah.
He goes home once a month, but that’s not enough anymore. Borsch turns 60 next week. He’s at the age where you feel time growing short. Priorities change.
So Borsch took a position for IHI Industrial, a Japanese manufacturing firm that wants to own and operate power plants in the United States. The job, director of operations, will allow Borsch to spend more time at home in Houston where he will be based.
While there is travel involved, Borsch says he’ll be home every weekend. He can also work from there one week out of each month.
“That’s something I haven’t had in eight years,” he says “I want to see my grand-kids grow up and I think being around them is important. They need a grandmother and a grandfather.”
The bump in pay Borsch will be getting is nice, but he says that wasn’t the primary reason for leaving Lake Worth, a city he says he’ll miss.
While he enjoyed his short time in the city — Borsch started in August 2015 — he says the grueling job often drained him.
“I’m in commission meetings, I’m in board meetings, I’m in neighborhood association meetings,” he says. “Over time, sometimes that wears on you when you have a 10, 12 hour job. The energy in this city and the passion people have can sometimes effect your energy level. That happened to me a little bit.”
But Borsch, a stand-up guy, likes where the city is headed.
“I love the city and I think everything is going in the right direction,” he says.
LAKE WORTH — John “Jack” Borsch, director of Lake Worth Electric Utilities, has resigned, effective Feb. 26, the city said.
Borsch, who has been in the position since August 2015, is moving to Houston where he will manage a fleet of power stations along the Eastern Seaboard for IHI Industrial. The company is based in California.
“I love the city and have worked hard to make positive changes over the last two years,” Borsch said in a statement. “This decision was not one based on any malcontent with the city but rather was based on a positive opportunity that would allow me to be located closer to family.”
In the same statement, City Manager Michael Bornstein called Borsch a “strong leader” and a “key part” of his management team.
In Borsch’s time with the city, Lake Worth Electric Utilities has closed the gap on Florida Power & Light Co.’s rates bringing Lake Worth on the verge of rate parity for residential properties, the city said. Lake Worth has also seen fewer power outages during hurricanes and storms.
Only 144 customers, for instance, lost power late Sunday night when a storm tore through Palm Beach County, the city said.
Next month the city is scheduled to host a ribbon cutting ceremony for its Solar Panel Energy Project, which was led by Borsch.
The project has taken a 63-acre landfill off Washington Avenue, just a few blocks west of South Dixie Highway on the south end of the city that was an environmental eyesore and turned it into a producing solar energy field.
The city said the solar panels will generate enough clean energy to power more than 250 homes and reduce carbon emissions by four million pounds — the equivalent of taking 400 cars off the road.
The panels will provide 2 percdent of the city’s electric needs.
Borsch’s department was also at the center of “Light Up Lake Worth,” a project to replace more than 4,000 old city street ligths and replacing them with enery efficient LED bulbs.
The city said the project will save taxpayers $250,000 annually in energy costs.
LAKE WORTH– The life and work of South Florida political activist Matilda “Bobbi” Graff will be celebrated Sunday at the Clay Glass Metal Stone Gallery.
With roots in both South Florida and Michigan, Graff, who died last year at 93, dedicated her life to peace and living in a just world.
Graff and her husband, Emanuel, were leaders in the struggle for civil rights and liberties in Miami from 1948 to 1954 where they confronted Jim Crow, the police and the KKK.
The Graff family was forced to leave Florida in the face of political persecution in the 1950s. But Graff returned in the 1980s to create the Citizens for Social Responsibility, a social reform group based in Delray Beach.
Sunday’s event is scheduled for 1 to 5 p.m. The gallery is on 15 S J Street.
LAKE WORTH – Compass Community Center was recently accredited for excellence in nonprofit management for the 10th straight year by Nonprofits First.
The accrediation process requires agencies to meet or exceed more than 875 standards, including nonprofit administration, board governance, finance and strategic planning.
The center on N. Dixie Highway serves the LGBT community.
“Achieving accreditation for excellence in nonprofit management is the way our staff and board collectively demonstrates our committment and passion to the generosity of our funders, donors and volunteers,” Tony Plakas, Compass’ CEO said in a statement.
Nonprofits First was started in Palm Beach County by a coalition of funders and other community partners to streghten local nonprofits.
LAKE WORTH — The ladies of Burckle Place, a program for single homeless women, are working hard to turn their lives around.
Many times for women, part of feeling good, is all about wearing clothes that make them feel stylish, sexy and confident.
Evelyn & Arthur, a contemporary clothing store, is doing what it can to make sure the women of Burckle Place on S. J Street feel just like that.
On Tuesday, Adrianne Weissman, the company president, and her team of fashion mavens, will host a special “pop-up” event for the women of Burckle Place and Halle Place, a program for women who have been incarcerated and who are trying re-enter society. The women will be outfitted in a new clothing line from Lisette L Montreal, Lisa Todd and Sympli.
Weissman sits on the board of The Lord’s Place, which operates both Burckle and Halle Place.
After the event, which starts at 5:30 p.m., and will be held at Burckle Place, Weissman will host a dinner.