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Now browsing: Hometown News > News > St. Lucie County

Fort Pierce saw year of new faces, changing scenery
Rating: 1.81 / 5 (26 votes)  
Posted: 2012 Dec 28 - 07:01

By Dawn Krebs


FORT PIERCE -- As 2012 comes to a close, looking back over the past 12 months shows the residents of Fort Pierce have experienced both the good and the bad.

Here is a small sampling, in no particular order, of what city residents witnessed as 2012 becomes part of the history books.

Port gets a closer look

The Port of Fort Pierce had a busy year in 2012 when the city commission gave its approval for the Florida Department of Transportation to conduct an assessment of one of the only 14 deepwater ports in the state.

In May, the state held a series of public meetings for residents to share their thoughts about the port and its future.

The port took an economic hit in July, however, when the only tenant currently at the port, the Indian River Terminal, announced it was laying off almost three dozen workers.

As the city moves into 2013, the state is continuing to look at identifying infrastructure improvements that would be consistent with a mixed-use plan of recreation and industrial.

One city manager leaves

It was the end of one career and the beginning of another when city manager David Recor tended his resignation on May 10 at a special meeting.

He had narrowly avoided being fired in Oct. 2011 and over the ensuing months, had applied for the city manager position in a number of other cities, including the one where he was eventually hired, Ocean City, Md.

He had worked for the city since 2005.

One city manager arrives

After a months-long process and help from a hiring firm, the city council voted 3-2 to hire Robert Bradshaw as the next city manager.

The two votes against Mr. Bradshaw were cast by city commissioners Rufus Alexander and Reginald Sessions, who wanted Nick Mimms, the city's public works director, to have the position.

Mr. Bradshaw has been familiar with the city, having lived in the area and worked with area governments for years.

Mr. Mimms was later appointed to be the city's assistant city manager.

Buildings reflect area growth

Some important buildings were completed and named in Fort Pierce in 2012.

In January, the new marine science laboratory building at Harbor branch Oceanographic Institute was completed to showcase the state's investment in research and science.

In December, the newly built United States Courthouse in Fort Pierce was dedicated.

Judge Alto Lee Adams Sr had the courthouse officially named for him and the inside atrium was named for Dr. William Dannahower, a former mayor of Fort Pierce.

Programs earn state, national recognition

Not one, but two city main street programs were recognized by the state this year.

The Main Street Fort Pierce program was recognized as the Florida Main Street Program of the Month for February 2012.

In addition, the Lincoln Park Main Street program received two state recognitions in 2012. The first was for being the Florida Main Street Program of the Month in May, and the second was the award for Outstanding Special Event of the Year, for the group's Jazz on Moore's Creek events.

Another city group took national accolades this year. The Fort Pierce Police Athletic League had three who were recognized for their hard work and dedication: Steve Dipalma, president of the PAL board and Bill Parrish, general manager of the Wal-Mart distribution center, were both awarded the Florida State Police Athletic League Volunteer of the Year awards. Also, Fort Pierce Police Officer April Lee received the honor of being the National Police Athletic League Volunteer Woman of the Year.

Wharf gets go-ahead

In September, the Fort Pierce Redevelopment Agency voted to proceed with developing the Fisherman's Wharf area.

The wharf, currently owned by the city, will undergo a reconstruction of commercial and industrial buildings that will house future and current tenants, as well as make the area more public friendly by building viewing stands so the public can watch the fishing vessels unload their boats.

Also in the works is reconfiguring existing boat slips, adding a fueling station and dredging the marina basin. The redevelopment is expected to create about 200 jobs in that area.

Bus accident stuns community

The community came together in shock and compassion on the afternoon of March 26 when a collision between a St. Lucie County school bus and a semitrailer carrying sod collided at the corner of Okeechobee Road and Midway Road in western St. Lucie County.

The bus was traveling from, among other school, Francis K. Sweet Elementary in Fort Pierce.

One student on the bus, Aaron Beauchamp, was killed and 14 other students were injured, along with the bus driver, Albert Hazen.

In September, Mr. Hazen received a six-month license suspension and a $1,000 fine.

Edgartown becomes official historic district

In October, after years of meetings and workshops, an 8-acre section of about 40 homes in Fort Pierce received the special designation of being a historic settlement.

Before Fort Pierce was settled, Edgartown was a fishing village here.

The new designation included changing the zoning into one that allows for mixed-use development.

Long-range plans for the area include upgrading the streets within the development and adding parking and sidewalks.

Marina project on track

All through the year, the city marina project showed signs of progress, one island at a time.

The unique plans, that the state is considering a pilot project, consists of building habitat islands in the Indian River Lagoon as protection from incoming storms.

When completed, 12 islands will be constructed out of sand filled with geotextile cores with graded rock. The larger islands will also have a natural sand covering dredged from the marina basin.

The islands will range in size from a third of an acre to 10 acres, and is expected to be completed by spring 2013.

First female mayor takes office

Following a close election for more than one member of Fort Pierce government, after the dust settled, Linda Hudson had taken the title mayor of Fort Pierce.

Other local officials who also ran this year included Edward Becht and Reggie Sessions, who retained their seats as city commissioners.

The elections this year, however, had a few stumbling blocks when machine and vote counting issues came to light in Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker's office. The issues led to a recount of the Fort Pierce mayor's race and the congressional race between Patrick Murphy and Allen West. Mr. Murphy prevailed in that contest.

State election officials who traveled to the county afterward stated the need for better equipment and training.

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