By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — While the phrase, “out with the old, in with the new,” is true with physical calendars, the memories of those days gone by will stay forever.
In no particular order, here are some of the top stories Hometown News reported in 2012.
David Gore execution
A death-row inmate who confessed to killing six women in Indian River County more than 30 years ago was executed in April.
David Alan Gore was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a 17-year-old hitchhiker, Lynn Elliot, in July 1983. During an interview with Carl Elliot, her father, now in his mid-80s, Mr. Elliot said he never imagined he would wait so long for the execution, wondering at times if his daughter’s murderer would outlive him.
Lynn was the sixth woman Mr. Gore confessed to killing, and had she not been seen trying to escape by a witness, more women could possibly have fallen prey to Mr. Gore and his accomplice and cousin, Freddy Waterfield.
Mr. Gore’s death warrant was originally signed in 1988, but it was stayed later that year. Subsequent appeals dragged out the process.
Vero Beach, FP&L negotiations proceed at full steam
Negotiations between the city of Vero Beach and Florida Power & Light for the sale of the city’s electric utility continued to move forward.
The latest news is that in a split vote, Vero Beach City Council members requested the city attorney and city manager to draft language for a referendum to put the question of the sale to city residents, and a nonbinding straw poll for all electric utility ratepayers, inside and outside the city limits.
The referendum question, if approved by the city council, could appear in a March election.
Council members who voted for the referendum made clear they were not putting the question to ratepayers because they felt they had to get permission, but rather to once and for all learn if people wanted to sell or not.
Spiritual community figurehead dies
The spiritual leader of the Kashi Ashram in Sebastian, Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati died on April 13 of pancreatic cancer.
Ma Jaya was a person who showed love, kindness and compassion to all people, friends and acquaintances said after her death.
Some of her local actions that will leave a long-lasting impression on the community include opening By The River, an affordable senior housing development in Sebastian. A sliding-pay scale helps seniors on a limited income afford housing, keep their independence and not need to live in nursing homes.
Four Chaplains monument completed
After more than three years of fundraising, a new monument was erected in Sebastian’s Riverview Park.
The veteran’s memorial section of the city park now has an 8-foot granite monument depicting four military chaplains who died during World War II when a German torpedo caused the vessel they were on to sink.
Vero Beach resident Ernie Heaton, one of the last living survivors of that tragedy, lived in Vero Beach and was a driving force behind its construction.
The four chaplains, all of different faiths, are known for giving up their life vests and staying onboard the quickly sinking ship, saving lives by their actions and inspiring others through their loud prayers.
Mr. Heaton said the monument was promoting interfaith actions. He lived to see its dedication in February and completion in May. He died of cancer in November.
Bridge renamed to honor Vero Beach’s ‘first lady’
Vero Beach’s 17th Street Bridge was dedicated and renamed for a woman who has proven to be a leader in Indian River County for more than 40 years.
Alma Lee Loy, the first female Indian River County commissioner, a long-time business owner and a community leader, was humbled by the request to recognize her accomplishments by naming the bridge after her.
The bridge was one of the major projects she worked on as a commissioner, and opened in 1979.
Unspent impact fees refunded to some residents
Approximately $1.1 million in unspent impact fees and collected interest were refunded for some homeowners on the barrier island south of Beachland Boulevard earlier this year.
The refund was offered to current property owners of the qualifying properties after activists repeatedly spoke before the commission to bring to light the provisions on the impact fees say they must be returned if not used in six years.
Proponents of returning the impact fees also made it known that the process for collecting the fees was arduous and the commission voted to make the process easier and more transparent.
Proposal for temporary housing for homeless evolves
The homeless in Indian River County have advocates working diligently on a way to help them back on their feet and ideas on how to make that happen are coming closer to actual reality.
The latest news from the organizers of Camp Haven, a nonprofit group working to develop a temporary housing situation for qualified homeless individuals, is that a foreclosed motel could be their new home.
The old Citrus Motel on U.S. 1 near the Vero Beach Airport is the latest property being considered for the temporary housing site, after a tent camp proposal in south county did not appear feasible with readily available funds and expected fundraising efforts.
The change came soon after a leadership change in the nonprofit after its founder moved out of state.
City, police department sign three-year contract
After months of negotiations, the city of Vero Beach and the Vero Beach Police Department’s union signed a three-year contract in October, avoiding an impasse.
The contract was hotly debated among residents because the city manager was proposing rank reductions that would have affected nine officers.
The final contract did not include rank reductions, but did include fewer holidays, a change to vacation and sick pay accumulation and an increase to the percentage officers must contribute to their pension funds.
The city manager proposed the rank reductions to help the city meet its shrinking budget.
‘Pill mill’ crackdown closes one Vero Beach clinic
A lengthy investigation on the Treasure Coast and other parts of Florida on drug trafficking and pain management clinics resulted in the closing of one Vero Beach clinic earlier this year.
Stuart Pain Management in Vero Beach, operated by Dr. Bruce Jay Kammerman of Palm City, was searched this summer by law enforcement after reports of suspicious activity since 2010.
Fourteen total arrests were made, including Dr. Kammerman, for prescribing millions of pills to people who didn’t need them. The drug-trafficking organization included nine clinics from Pensacola to Miami.
Abuse of oxycodone pills or other pain management pills are serious problem in Florida, local law enforcement said.
Sports village draws more tourism dollars
Directors for the Vero Beach Sports Village are encouraged at the amount of tournaments and activities being booked at the sports facility and the benefits they bring to the whole community.
In 2012, the Treasure Coast Sports Commission estimated the sports complex had an economic impact of $9.4 million, close to $3 million more than 2011.
The addition of four youth-size softball and baseball fields and a new multi-purpose playing field have allowed Vero Beach Sports Village to broaden their marketing scope and attract more than just baseball tournaments, making it a true sports destination.
To read past articles in their entirety, visit www.myhometownnews.net.