Stories that captivated Palm Beach County in 2015

A sign hangs at a fundraiser for Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen at the Square Grouper on July 31. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
A sign hangs at a fundraiser for Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen at the Square Grouper on July 31. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

1. Two Tequesta teens go missing at sea; massive search comes up empty

Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, a pair of 14-year-old friends from Tequesta, went fishing on a 19-foot boat July 24 from the Jupiter Inlet during a brewing thunderstorm and were never seen again. The Coast Guard’s search for the boys extended from Daytona Beach to South Carolina before it was called off July 31. The teenagers’ families called off their private search — aided by an army of volunteers that included actor John Travolta and former NFL quarterback Joe Namath — on Aug. 9.

» Photos of the Missing Teen tragedy

 

2. Corey Jones is shot, killed by Palm Beach Gardens police officer

Corey Jones
Corey Jones

The 31-year-old Boynton Beach musician joined the list of young black men killed by police under questionable circumstances when he was shot dead by Palm Beach Gardens Police Officer Nouman Raja. Jones was returning from a gig on Oct. 18 when his vehicle broke down

on the southbound Interstate 95 off-ramp at PGA Boulevard. Waiting for a tow truck about 3:15 a.m., Jones was confronted by Raja, who was working a plainclothes detail and driving an unmarked van. Jones was armed but never fired his weapon before Raja shot him three times. Raja was fired by the police department on Nov. 12. As the year ended, investigations by the sheriff’s office, the FBI and the state attorney’s office had not been completed.

» Timeline of the Corey Jones shooting

» Photos

Nick Weaver, one of the plane crash victims, with wife Robin Gargano Weaver. Photo handout: Family
Nick Weaver, one of the plane crash victims, with wife Robin Gargano Weaver. Photo handout: Family

3. Seven from Boca real estate company die in Ohio plane crash

Seven employees of Boca Raton-based PEBB Enterprises were killed along with two pilots Nov. 10 when a chartered plane slammed into an Akron, Ohio apartment building. The plane was less than two miles from Akron Fulton International Airport when it crashed. The seven employees were on a real-estate scouting trip for PEBB, which owns, operates and develops commercial properties, including shopping centers. A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board released Nov. 18 didn’t give an indication why the jet crashed.

 

 

TRAIN_EYE LEVEL4. All Aboard Florida breaks ground on site construction

All Aboard Florida crossed some critical junctures in 2015. It’s environmental impact statement was approved, and it broke ground on construction at its stations. The rail line, which projects to start passenger in 2017, also changed its name to Brightline, and used the moment to kick-off its marketing campaign. It still has its opponents and detractors, but that won’t stop All Aboard from chugging into 2016.

 

Juri Galicia at the scene of the plane crash that killed her sister Banny Garcia in Lake Worth on Oct. 19. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Juri Galicia at the scene of the plane crash that killed her sister Banny Garcia in Lake Worth on Oct. 19. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

5. Pilot, PBSC student die when plane crashes into Lantana mobile home

A Palm Beach State College student and a well-known engineer were killed Oct. 13 when when a small plane crashed into a suburban Lake Worth mobile home park. Banny Galicia, a 21-year-old student, died while taking a nap inside the mobile home. Dan Shalloway, the plane’s 64-year-old pilot and an influential engineer who played a key role in a land deal that led to the successful corruption cases against two Palm Beach County commissioners, also was killed in the fiery crash.

 

 

West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio at the groundbreaking ceremonies to kick off construction on the new spring training complex in West Palm Beach. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio at the groundbreaking ceremonies to kick off construction on the new spring training complex in West Palm Beach. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

6. Land swap paves way for baseball stadium in West Palm Beach

West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County agreed to a land swap, paving the way for a $144 million spring training baseball stadium on a former landfill south of 45th Street between Military Trail and Haverhill Road in West Palm Beach. The Washington Nationals and Houston Astros plan to begin play in 2017. The land swap happened after a developer with first dibs on the 160-acre site pulled out and the county agreed to give the city 1.8 acres downtown in exchange. The state is putting up $50 million, the county hotel tax and the teams will pay the rest.

 

 

 

 

 (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
(Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

7. School buses run late for weeks, ‘culture of distrust’ blamed

Late school buses for the first few weeks of school, blamed on a computerized route system pressed into service too soon, plagued new Superintendent Robert Avossa’s first school opening day. A consultant, paid about $50,000, blamed the problem on a “perfect storm” of institutional failures, from the “undue influence” of a school board member, to the rollout of new technology, and to a “culture of distrust” that prevented managers’ concerns from being heard.

 

8. St. Mary’s CEO resigns, closes kids’ heart surgery program

St. Mary’s Medical Center CEO Davide Carbone resigned in August after a CNN expose of the West Palm Beach hospital’s pediatric cardiothoracic surgery program raised questions. Two days earlier, the hospital closed the kids’ heart surgery program, started by surgeon Dr. Michael Black, who came under fire in the CNN report. The Tenet Healthcare hospital couldn’t sustain the program after CNN reported nine infants had died in four years, a mortality rate that experts said was partly because the program was not attracting enough patients to be proficient.

 

9. Affordable housing crunch problems return to county

If you fast-forwarded a decade to 2016, you wouldn’t know there had been a residential real estate crash. The rise in home prices — from mid-2011 to mid-2015, the median price of houses and condos in Palm Beach County soared 66 percent, according to the National Association of Home Builders — has brought back the affordable housing crunch. So, very few houses at $200,000, or less, were on the market. And those that do got snapped up fast.

 

10. First black female selected as county administrator

Palm Beach County commissioners, torn between two top aides, selected longtime deputy Verdenia Baker to be county administrator in May, replacing Bob Weisman, who retired in August after nearly 24 years. Baker is the county’s first black female administrator. She had been Weisman’s deputy for 15 years. She edged out another assistant, Shannon LaRocque, and four outside candidates.

 

11. Unemployment falls to eight-year low in county, but income can’t keep up

In a sign of economic strength, Palm Beach County’s jobless rate fell to an eight-year low — 4.6 percent. That’s not the only sign of a robust Palm Beach County economy, which has record-setting tourism, increased consumer confidence, rising sales tax revenues and a strong real estate market. In Palm Beach County, the jobless rate has remained below the state average for 25 consecutive months, and is less than half of what it was at the peak of the Great Recession in 2010, CareerSource said. The one missing piece of the puzzle? Rising income. Many county residents still aren’t making enough to advance financially.

 

 

12. Presidential front-runners’ ties to Palm Beach County

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a Pearl Harbor Day Rally at the U.S.S. Yorktown on Dec. 7 in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a Pearl Harbor Day Rally at the U.S.S. Yorktown on Dec. 7 in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

The two outsiders who took early leads in the crowded Republican field for president have ties to Palm Beach County. Donald Trump operates a private club in the historic Mar-a-Lago ocean-to-Intracoastal property on Palm Beach. The New Yorker bought the 1920s estate for $10 million in 1985 and opened the club in 1995. He leased land from Palm Beach County next to the county jail, where he built a golf course for his club members. He also has sued the county over airplanes flying over Mar-a-Lago three times, including an ongoing suit. Ben Carson, the soft-spoken neurosurgeon who emerged early as an alternative outsider to Trump, paid $775,000 in January 2013 for a home in the Ibis Golf and Country Club west of State Road 7 in West Palm Beach.

» The 5 candidates from Florida

 

13. Despite a scare from Erika, county’s hurricane drought hits 10 years

Florida made it through another hurricane season with no storms making landfall, marking an unprecedented 10 years since a hurricane has hit the state. But there were some tense moments when Tropical Storm Erika was forecast in late August to become a hurricane and make a beeline for Palm Beach County. The storm fizzled out over Cuba and never reached hurricane strength but it was a lesson in why it’s important to be prepared.

 

14. Jailhouse snitch story sparks First Amendment fight

The Palm Beach Post reprinted jailhouse phone transcripts filed in a criminal court case and a judge ruled it must unpublish them, forcing quotes in a story retracted from the newspaper’s website six weeks after initial publication. Circuit Judge Jack Schramm Cox’s ruling, which the paper appealed with backup from the public defender, said no one can share the documents, limiting lawyers looking to use them to defend a man against murder charges. It all started when The Post’s Jane Musgrave wrote a detailed account of prosecutors’ use of a jailhouse snitch, Frederick Cobia, and cited Cobia’s phone calls that had been introduced into a court file by public defender Elizabeth Ramsey. When Ramsey files documents mentioning the transcripts after the judge’s ruling, she is charged with contempt. An appellate court has dismissed Cox’s ruling, and transcripts are once more posted on The Post’s website.

 

15. Heroin deaths rise as sober homes proliferate

The role of Palm Beach County and particularly Delray Beach in the addiction recovery industry became more pronounced as heroin overdoses, many of them fatal, rose precipitously. The Post found huge profits in the uncontrolled industry drew the attention of an FBI task force. “Addiction Treatment: Inside the Gold Rush” described one family’s $300,000 urine drug-test bill for nine months worth of tests. One insurer decided to drop its addiction-treatment coverage, which it said had been abused by addicts.

 

16. Courts throw out state Senate, congressional maps

Years after voters changed the state Constitution to require politics be taken out of map-making for voting districts, lawsuits challenging maps drawn by Florida’s Republican-dominated Legislature forced change. Leon County judges, backed by the Florida Supreme Court, rejected the maps for Florida’s congressional delegation and its state Senate. The courts backed a congressional map backed by voter-rights group and in December was considering similar action concerning Senate maps. For Palm Beach County, the new maps mean fewer representatives in Congress and the state Senate.

 

line of fire17. Sheriff skips symposium on police-involved shootings after newspaper probe

Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw skipped a symposium called by County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor after The Palm Beach Post’s April Line of Fire series, with WPTV NewsChannel 5, documents all police-involved shootings dating to 2000. Bradshaw sought FBI assistance with one investigation and later invited the FBI to assist in the probe into the shooting death of Corey Jones in Palm Beach Gardens. He also called an industry think tank to review his agency’s approach to investigating its own and initiates meetings with hand-picked community members.

 

18. Harbourside Place celebrates first anniversary in Jupiter

Harbourside Place in Jupiter
Harbourside Place in Jupiter

The $150 million outdoor entertainment center on the Intracoastal Waterway continued to draw praise and criticism. Proponents call Harbourside Place an economic engine that is creating about 1,500 jobs, bringing newcomers to Jupiter and adding about $800,000 annually in property tax revenue to the town. Opponents say Harbourside Place is causing too much noise from concerts, is an architectural “monstrosity” and is bringing too much traffic. The town twice fined developer Nick Mastroianni for allowing the music to be played above town limits, for a total of about $36,000. Mastroianni says the town has designated Harbourside Place an entertainment district, and the music is needed to attract customers and tenants.

 

19. Grandmother, 53, kills daughter, two grandchildren in Greenacres

A 53-year-old grandmother killed her daughter and two grandchildren June 28 before turning the gun on herself. The victims were found by a family friend, who walked into a home. Police do not have motive for the shootings. Among the dead were a 7-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl. The deaths brought the homicide total to six in Greenacres this year, one more than the city had in the past four years combined.

 

20. United Technologies chooses Palm Beach Gardens for mega-project

Rendering shows what the Center for Intelligent Buildings on the Briger Tract in Palm Beach Gardens will look like.
Rendering shows what the Center for Intelligent Buildings on the Briger Tract in Palm Beach Gardens will look like.

Gov. Rick Scott in July announced United Technologies had selected Palm Beach Gardens for its 241,400-square-foot Center for Intelligent Buildings. The center at Donald Ross Road and I-95 on what was once known as the Briger tract will be a showcase for the Fortune 50 company’s brands. Palm Beach County commissioners voted this spring to lift restrictions that called for the land to be used for bio-science and biotechnology, despite some objections raised by The Scripps Research Institute. Palm Beach Gardens, Palm Beach County and Florida offered United Technologies millions of dollars in economic incentives to choose the location over other options in the Southeast. In exchange, United Technologies promised to create 380 jobs and retain 70.

 

21. West Palm’s bloody summer: 10 die, 28 wounded by feuding ‘cliques’

Ten people were killed and 28 wounded in shootings in a 2-square mile section between Fourth Street and 36th Street centered on Tamarind Avenue. City officials attributed the violence to feuding “cliques” of teenagers and twenty-somethings. West Palm Beach police reacted by quadrupling the number of hours police patrolled the area.

 

22. Former private school teacher given life for abusing young girls

Former Rosarian Academy teacher Stephen Budd was convicted of capital sexual battery for molesting two girls, ages 8 and 9 during the 2006-2007 school year at Rosarian. The girls testified that he gave them play money called “Budd Bucks” that they could use for candy and prizes in exchange for sexual contact. Another woman testified of Budd’s abuse when she was 7 at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School in Riviera Beach.

 

23. North Palm ophthalmologist in scandal with New Jersey senator

North Palm Beach ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen was jailed in April on 76 charges that he scammed Medicare out of more than $105 million. He was released after extensive negotiations. Earlier in April, he and U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., were indicted in Newark, N.J., on more than a dozen charges for engaging in what prosecutors claimed was a mutually beneficial bribery scheme. The senator, a longtime friend, had traveled with Melgen to the Dominican Republic, where they were accused of engaging with underage prostitutes. Melgen argues that his Medicare charges stem from a dispute with Medicare over how much he could charge patients for a pricey eye medicine.

 

24. Palm Beach County sizzles to record high temperatures

The Sunshine State lived up to its name in 2015 as the year is expected to be the warmest on record dating back 121 years. Through November, temperatures statewide and in Palm Beach Broward and Miami-Dade counties were higher than average, including a 90-degree day Nov. 10 in West Palm Beach that broke a record of 88 degrees set in 1987.

» Interested in weather? Read Kim Miller’s WeatherPlus blog

 

 

Former Boynton Beach police officer Stephen Maiorino was acquitted of all charges on Oct. 6. (Brianna Soukup / The Palm Beach Post)
Former Boynton Beach police officer Stephen Maiorino was acquitted of all charges on Oct. 6. (Brianna Soukup / The Palm Beach Post)

25. Former Boynton Beach police officer acquitted of rape charges

A jury found former Boynton Beach police officer Stephen Maiorino not guilty of rape, kidnapping and unlawful compensation or reward. Maiorino was accused of raping a 20-year-old woman near Interstate 95 while on-duty in 2014. The woman testified that Maiorino threatened her with arrest then drove her to a field and raped her at gunpoint. Maiorino, who resigned from the police department before his trial, said the sex was consensual. Despite the acquittal, Boynton Beach city commissioners awarded the woman $850,000.

 

 

 

Hundreds gathered on Lake Worth beach for the full lunar eclipse on Sept. 27. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)
Hundreds gathered on Lake Worth beach for the full lunar eclipse on Sept. 27. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

26. Rare lunar eclipse creates coastal flooding, rising sea levels

A rare lunar eclipse that coincided with the moon’s perigee in September was not only a rare sight to behold, but brought attention to the problem of coastal flooding because of rising sea levels. Roads from West Palm Beach to Miami were underwater during high tide cycles. Even some homes along the Intracoastal were threatened with flooding. It was a situation that repeated itself throughout the fall when the moon was full.

» WATCH THIS: Time-lapse flooding video

 

27. Palm Beach County School Board picks new leader

Robert Avossa, the 43-year-old superintendent from Fulton County, Ga., was the unanimous pick of the Palm Beach County School Board to replace E. Wayne Gent as superintendent, the county’s third superintendent since Art Johnson’s departure in 2011. Within months, he hired a former boss for $50,000 to be the district staff’s “executive coach” and announced a $570,000 consultant to review all district operations.

 

28. School district takes on charter schools

The Palm Beach County School Board went to court over its right to reject charter schools, appealing the state school board’s ruling that it couldn’t reject schools for failing to provide “innovative” programs. The ruling by an appellate court is expected to set statewide precedent. The board also ordered an investigation of Eagle Arts Academy, a Wellington charter school, after The Palm Beach Post showed the school’s founder profited by steering school money to his own companies.

 

 

Heather Hironimus cries as she prepares to sign the consent form to allow her son be circumcised on May 22. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post
Heather Hironimus cries as she prepares to sign the consent form to allow her son be circumcised on May 22. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post

29. Circumcision fight leads to ‘cyber-terrorism’ complaint

Heather Hironimus of Boynton Beach took her 4½-year-old son on the lam rather than have him circumcised but ultimately cut a deal to escape prosecution for interfering with child custody. Backed by groups that considered circumcision to be unnecessary and deeply damaging, she took the boy despite a 2012 accord that allowed the boy’s father to have him circumcised. The father, Dennis Nebus, claimed the groups’ harassment amounted to “cyber-terrorism.” A judge ruled the circumcision could go forward but, because of a gag order, it has not been publicly acknowledged as to whether the surgical procedure was done.

 

 

 

Mark Stenner addresses seniors at their May 22 graduation ceremony.
Mark Stenner addresses seniors at their May 22 graduation ceremony.

30. Plagiarizing high school principal loses job

West Boca High Principal Mark Stenner is removed after reports surface that he plagiarized a 2015 commencement address, relying on a speech made popular on the Internet. Follow-up reports show he plagiarized a different speech in 2014. New district Superintendent Robert Avossa recommended Stenner’s transfer to a non-instructional job.

 

Paris weapon did not come through Delray Beach gun wholesaler

The corporate headquarters for Century International Arms in Delray Beach, photographed on Jan. 19, 2007. (Chris Matula/The Palm Beach Post) 01/19/07 NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION OUTSIDE COX PAPERS. OUT PALM BEACH, BROWARD, MARTIN, ST. LUCIE, INDIAN RIVER AND OKEECHOBEE COUNTIES IN FLORIDA. OUT ORLANDO. NO SALES. TV OUT. TABLOIDS OUT. MAGAZINES OUT. WIDE WORLD OUT. INTERNET USE OUT. NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION OUTSIDE COX
The corporate headquarters for Century International Arms in Delray Beach, photographed on Jan. 19, 2007. (Chris Matula/The Palm Beach Post)

The Justice Department says terrorists in the Paris attack that killed 130 did not use a firearm previously sold by a Delray Beach gun wholesaler, disputing an Associated Press story released Dec. 9. In fact, the gun is not even in Europe; it’s in Mexico.

Federal authorities say the M92 semi-automatic pistol in question traces back to a crime scene in the Latin American country and is now in the custody of the Mexican government.  The story first broke on VPR, Vermont’s National Public Radio station, late Thursday. Century Arms has a manufacturing and distribution center in the “Freedom and Unity” state.

The result for Century Arms is a vindication of sorts since the company said Dec. 11 that it couldn’t confirm reports that the gun ended up in Paris. But it underscores that guns passing through Century Arms end up south of the border where they are often the weapon of choice for drug cartels.

The Justice Department release contradicts an Associated Press story citing Milojko Brzakovic, a Serbian arms factory chief, as saying a semi-automatic pistol found in the carnage of the Paris attacks carried a serial number matching one of the guns the Zastava arms factory delivered in May 2013 to Century Arms.

“After further investigation of the firearm mention(ed) in the Associated Press story, it is clear the firearm reported in previous stories is not related to the Paris attacks,” U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman Danette Seward wrote in an email to Century Arms lawyer Brady Toensing obtained by The Palm Beach Post.

Toensing released a statement to VPR blaming the AP for the story.

“At a minimum, the AP should have waited for a response from the United States government. And it should have performed an elementary-level review of the United States import laws, which require that all firearms imported into the United States have specific markings on them,” the lawyer said. “Performing proper due diligence and verifying whether the firearm had the required United States import markings should have been, but was not, done before reporting this story.”

The AP issued a correction on Friday:

“Serbian authorities declined to provide any additional details this week on the advisory cited by Zastava or what it was based on. Interpol said it could not provide additional material because it only acts as a clearinghouse for information among police agencies.”

FDOT in Royal Palm Beach today and Thursday gathering ideas on future of Southern Boulevard

More lanes, less lanes, fewer stops lights, more access roads.

State transportation planners heard all that and more Wednesday during interview sessions with local residents and leaders about the future of Southern Boulevard.

Barbara Powell, (pink shirt), offers suggestions about Southern Boulevard to FDOT consultants this morning at Royal Palm Beach Village Hall.
Barbara Powell, (pink shirt), offers suggestions about Southern Boulevard to FDOT consultants this morning at Royal Palm Beach Village Hall.

The interviews, which end at 4 p.m. Thursday at Royal Palm Beach Village Hall, will help shape a proposal that the Florida Department of Transportation will share with the public next summer on ways to meet projected traffic increases over the next 20 years on a 45-mile stretch of Southern Boulevard.

The DOT hopes to adopt a formal plan by the fall of 2017, a blueprint that will affect the road, also known as State Road 80, from Interstate 95 in downtown West Palm Beach to the town of South Bay near Lake Okeechobee.

A final interview session is set for Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Royal Palm Beach. The first two sessions took place Monday and Tuesday in Belle Glade.

The public can still offer comments any time on the DOT’s website for the State Road 80 project.

Santa Train brings holiday cheer to 300 kids in West Palm Beach

The Santa Train made its annual Jacksonville-Miami run on Saturday, including a stop in West Palm Beach. Click the video for the highlights.

About 300 kids sat on Santa’s lap after the train pulled in around 3 p.m. just east of the Florida East Coast Railway tracks on 36 Street.wreath

The train left Jacksonville at 6:30 a.m. and made its final stop in Hialeah around 6 p.m. with stops along the way in St. Augustine, New Smyrna Beach, Cocoa, Fort Pierce and Fort Lauderdale.

A total of 936 kids got gifts from Santa and his FEC elves – mainly $10 Burger King gift cards, coloring books, school supplies and water bottles.

On every other day of the year, Santa has a different name and job — Jim Hertwig, the FEC’s chief executive officer.
SANTA on TRAIN

New look for old trash dump — Houston Astros and Washington Nationals spring home taking shape in WPB

It has been just over a month since Houston Astros and Washington Nationals started clearing trees and debris from their new spring training home south of 45th Street in West Palm Beach.

In 2017, this view — from the northwest corner of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, looking southwest from Military Trail Just south of 45th Street — will show Houston Astros practice fields.

But the 160-acre site, a former landfill, looks vastly different than it did for the previous six-plus decades. (Click here to see a video of what the site used to look like.)

Land clearing started Nov. 10. Gone are the rows and rows of Australian pine trees and shrubs.

You can now stand in front of Palm Beach Lakes High School on Military Trail (opposite of the east side of the complex) and look west and see cars traveling on Haverhill Road (opposite of the west side of the complex).

“This is a mining project. We are removing about 180,000 cubic yards of garbage that’s been disposed on that site over the last 60-something-odd years,”  said Tom McNicholas, a representative for the teams, told the Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council on Friday.

Until bulldozers started clearing the trees on Nov. 10. this was the view off Haverhill Road.
Until bulldozers started clearing the trees on Nov. 10. this was the view for years and years of the former landfill site off Haverhill Road.

The site is now surrounded by a 6-ft. chain link fence. On the northwest corner of the land — visible from Haverhill Road — is a huge mountain of sand, which will be used for construction.

gravelThere’s also a huge pile of gravel near the main entrance off Haverhill Road. And on the southwest corner are a cluster of relocated cabbage palm trees that will be planted throughout the site as construction nears completion.

“We are putting so many trees  back on these practice facilities,” McNicholas said.

“This place is going to be phenomenal for local kids coming across the street from Palm Beach Lakes (High), dropping their bikes and sitting under the trees and bleachers (to watch practice) and it doesn’t cost a dime. They can see Bryce Harper of the Nationals.”

The Astros will practice generally on the north end of the site with the Nationals on the south end. Most of the fields practice will be close to Military Trail, with the main stadium in the middle of the site.

Look east as you drive south on Haverhill Road, just south of 45th Street, and you see this mountain of sand on the baseball site.

The main stadium will probably have a navy blue color theme — that’s the color the Astros and Nationals have in common.

“You won’t see many oranges or reds too predominant unless you are on the practice fields,” he said.

He said the teams also are gearing up on their search for a general manager who will be in charge of the stadium, now called The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Physical construction will start some time early next year. The complex is slated to open in January 2017.

 

Rainbow over the northwest corner of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in this photo taken on Friday by McNicholas & Associates.
Rainbow over the northwest corner of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in this photo taken on Friday by McNicholas & Associates.

Leonardo DiCaprio among celebs pitching in for foundation for missing Tequesta teens

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio is among a handful of celebrities pitching in to help a new charitable foundation that was set up to honor one of two Tequesta teenagers who went missing at sea in July.

LEO
Leonardo DiCaprio via instagram account @perryjcohenfoundation

Pamela Cohen and Nicholas Korniloff, mother and stepfather of Perry Cohen, are working in Miami as directors of Art Miami, which is part of the popular international art show Art Basel.

The exposure to the art crowd has helped raise  awareness to the Perry J. Cohen Foundation.

Instagram accounts belonging to Pamela Cohen and the Perry J. Cohen Foundation show separate photos of DiCaprio, fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, musician Bernie Taupin, (Elton John’s longtime collaborator),  and Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody showing their support for the Perry J. Cohen Foundation.

Tommy Hilfiger
Tommy Hilfiger via Instagram account @perryjcohenfoundation

The foundation, announced last Sunday, is a nonprofit aimed at teaching people about boating safety following Cohen’s disappearance with Austin Stephanos on July 24. It will also provide scholarship money to marine science students and funding for search-and-rescue efforts.

DiCaprio, who posed with Cohen and Korniloff in a photograph earlier this week, made an undisclosed donation to the foundation, according to the Miami Herald.

Korniloff and Cohen gave DiCaprio “the first ‘Perry Jacket’ to benefit” the new foundation, according to the Instagram photo.

Bernie Taupin on the left
Bernie Taupin (on the left) via Instagram account @perryjfoundation

DiCaprio, an Art Basel regular, spent time with Cohen and Korniloff less than three weeks before the Dec. 25 premiere of his upcoming Oscar-buzz movie The Revenant.

Stephanos’ parents, Blu Stephanos and Carly Black, launched a similar nonprofit, the AustinBlu Foundation, in August.

Several art-related T shirts are being sold at the fair with proceeds benefiting the Perry J. Cohen Foundation.

Adrien Brody via Instafram account for the Perry J. Cohen Foundation.
Adrien Brody via Instafram account for the Perry J. Cohen Foundation.

In case you were wondering: How to make a Christmas tree out of empty beer bottles

If you happen to have a large collection of empty Heineken bottles burning a hole in your garage and you’re not quite ready to send them off to the recycling bin, how about using them to build a Christmas tree.

That’s what the elves at O’Shea’s Irish Pub in downtown West Palm Beach did over the weekend, continuing a December holidays tradition that started about seven years ago.

Black Friday is Green Friday at O’Sheas, where Rachel Costigan, whose husband owns the pub, spends at least four hours on the day after Thanksgiving firing a glue gun and stacking the empty beer bottles in 13 circular rows, each descending in diameter.

HEINEKEN XMAS TREEWith their green glass and red stars, Heineken bottles are perfect for a Christmas tree, Costigan says.

It takes more than 200 bottles to build the 15-ft. high tree, but Costigan won’t say exactly how many it took. That’s up to her customers, who can try to guess the total number of bottles — the number varies every year — and win a prize.

The tree, lit up at night by large spotlights installed inside the tree, can be seen just inside the entrance to the pub at 531 Clematis St.

After Christmas, it is taken down – one bottle at a time – and placed in cartons that are put into storage until the next day after Thanksgiving.

Video of Corey Jones’ final performance

Mathew Huntsberger was filling in for the regular bass player on Oct. 17 when the local reggae band Future Prezidents performed at Johnny Mangos in Jupiter.

Just after the band’s intermission, he set up a camera to shoot video of the show’s second half so he could show a friend. He had no idea he was taping the final performance of drummer Corey Jones.

Here are clips of two of those final songs that night. The show ended just after 1 a.m. on Oct. 18. Around 1:30 a.m., Jones’ car broke down on the southbound exit ramp from Interstate 95 at PGA Boulevard.

As Jones waited for a tow truck, he was shot and killed around 3:15 a.m. by a Palm Beach Gardens police officer.