June News — yes, I know it’s almost July!!

Mary Lindsey attended our recent meeting and educated us about the world-wide Little Free Libraries project as well as the initiative here in Lake Worth. These libraries are an awesome way to encourage reading for all people, particularly children, and a great way to get to know your neighbors. Vernon Heights will be installing at least one Little Free Library within the next few months, although the location has yet to be determined. However, should you wish to place one on your own property, please feel free to do so, just let us know so we can coordinate and so we won’t have them clustered too close together. You can learn more about the project by going to the website for the worldwide project at: https://littlefreelibrary.org/ or by visiting the Lake Worth Little Free Libraries project on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/LakeWorthLFL/. You can also volunteer to help build, install or steward one.

Thanks to those of you who attended and received the parking decals being distributed. We are issuing the decals so we and PBSO will know at a glance if your vehicle belongs in the neighborhood or in our park. If you have one or 10 vehicles, as long as the vehicle is registered to a Vernon Heights address, it’ll be issued a decal. That’s not to say you can’t have visitors (even ones who stay for extended periods of time) but we are just trying to assure ourselves that most of vehicles you see in and around here, belong and are nothing to be concerned about. I and a couple of neighbors have been walking the streets and distributing invitations to the 4th of July Party and decals to those folks who are home. We’ll continue the door to door campaign over the next few days/weeks till all homes have had decals issued.

Vernon Heights has entered a raft in the Great American Raft Race to take place on July 4 at Bryant Park. If you wish to volunteer to help build, decorate or crew our craft, please contact Tom Bassie (773) 983-0303 or Raymond Casazza (561) 386-7667. The Captain’s meeting is Sunday, June 26 at 5:00 p.m. CJ’s Island Grill on Lake Avenue. The Raft Parade on July 4 begins at 11:00 a.m. with race time at 1:00 p.m. launching at Bryant Park. Come on out and cheer our team to victory!!

Afterward, please join us for the 2d Annual 4th of July Party in the Park, beginning at 4:00 p.m. in our neighborhood Park. There’ll be a bounce house, water slide, and some fun events for the kids to win prizes. There will also be a “Dessert/Bake-Off” for the adults as well as a kids and adults watermelon eating contest!! We ask that everyone bring an appetizer, side dish or dessert to share with your neighbors. Please let committee members, Lauren Dively (561) 358-9940, Carla Blockson (561) 628-2576 or Tina Casazza (561) 301-0123, know whether you will do an appetizer, side or dessert so we know what’s coming. We have the basics, hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans, potato salad, cole slaw, chicken nuggets and mac n cheese. If you are over 21, please feel free to bring your favorite adult beverage. We would ask that you let your furry kids stay home so there are no issues with those who may have allergies or fears and so they don’t get spooked by the fireworks.

Our neighborhood has been experiencing a startling number of auto break-ins recently. Sadly, the perpetrators are breaking windows to access the vehicles and take whatever they can — this includes the remote garage door opener. Be sure to remove that along with your other valuables. They steal the remote and return to the home at a later time using it to gain entry into your home. You may want to consider purchasing motion detection lights. Costco has a solar powered model for $34.99. Otherwise, leave your outdoor lights on. If you see something suspicious, call PBSO. Dial 911 for emergency and (561) 586-1611 for non-emergency. www.pbso.org

With summer finally settling in (yes, indeed, it felt like summer never left us this year), please take a look around your property and see what can be spruced up – does your lawn or landscaping need some loving care, now would be the time to fix it up, when nature will water for you – we get rain most every day, so you’d be able to save on your water bill trying to get new sod and plants established. Does the roof need to be cleaned? The house painted? That sort of thing? Now would be the time to take care of those chores. Please keep the front side of your property looking spic and span to avoid violations. Click the Governance Tab then the Documents Tab above to see the Rules and Regulations.

It seems we’ve been having some issues with the storm drains in the neighborhood, so I am requesting that all of you who have lawn service companies ask your yardmen NOT to blow the clippings in the street where they eventually end up in the storm drains. Please request that they bag your clippings on lawn day as they and other trash accumulate and ultimately end up contaminating our waterways.

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Decals are Here!!

DecalThey’re Here!! Decals. In conjunction with our REAP Grant and upcoming Crime Watch Program we are instituting a neighborhood decal program. All residents will receive a decal for all vehicles registered to their Vernon Heights address for display on the front window. This will enable PBSO and others to identify your vehicle as part of the neighborhood. Please stop by the meeting (June 14) at the Scottish Rite Center to pick yours up. All you will need is your vehicle’s registration reflecting your Vernon Heights address. Thanks in advance for your cooperation!!

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We Live in an Enclave…..

en·clave – enˌklāv,ˈäNGˌklāv (noun)

a place or group that is different in character from those surrounding it.             any small, distinct area or group enclosed or isolated within a larger one.

We live in an enclave – defined above as a place that is different in character from that which surrounds it – truer words were never spoken regarding any neighborhood in Lake Worth.

            We don’t face many of the issues that some adjoining neighborhoods face: our streets are wide and well paved, our homes are nicely kept, we have no abandoned properties or lots.  We don’t have drug houses or sober homes in our midst or prostitutes walking our streets.  All of our residents endeavor to keep it that way.  We are not, however, completely immune to the influences of the surrounding areas.  We have had homes and cars, although not many and not often, broken into and burglarized and we occasionally have some unsavory characters using our park for less than respectable purposes.

            We should all be encouraged by the fact that the Mayor, Pam Triollo and two of our City Commissioners, Andy Amoroso and Scott Maxwell, were reelected after a hotly contested race.  Most people don’t appreciate that government work is somewhat thankless and, in order to get things done – and have them be noticed, it takes time.  It takes time to discover what hasn’t been done and to determine the best way to go about rectifying the issues.  Pam, Andy and Scott have been diligent in their efforts to put Lake Worth back on track and deal with some of the issues their predecessors left undone or in shambles.  I believe that the residents of the City spoke loud and clear and that the City itself will continue to move forward and we’ll really begin seeing the result of their diligence and everyone’s efforts to effectuate the changes.

            Lately, we in Vernon Heights have begun to pull together more as a community and we’re renewing our collective interest in who’s who and what’s what.  The Board is working hard to determine what the future may hold for Vernon Heights.  We recently had Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Captain Todd Baer, the new Station 14 Commander for Lake Worth, attend a meeting and give us insight on what’s going on citywide regarding crime and the steps being taken by PBSO to reduce it.  He gave us statistics regarding crime in our immediate neighborhood (Pierce Drive, Kelso, 22d Avenue North, Kelso and Vernon Street) and for the immediate surrounding areas (A Street, D Street, 20th-17th, etc.).  We are, fundamentally, safe and sound here in Vernon Heights.  The statistics regarding the area surrounding us, unfortunately, wasn’t as encouraging. His admonishment to us being:  keep your car doors locked and bring your valuables inside with you.  Be cognizant of what’s going on around you and, if you see something, say something.  Just what he tells all of the neighborhoods.  I believe this characterizes precisely what living in an enclave means.  We are different than the area that surrounds us, yet we are part of the City as a whole.

            Looking to the future, we recently invited West Palm Beach City Commissioner, Shanon Materio, to a meeting to address our residents and give us a very clear description of what’s being planned for the C-51 Canal that abuts our Park and the land to our immediate north and to the Spillway that separates Lake Worth and West Palm Beach.  It’s exciting to me and to many others that there will be a boat lift capable to giving Intracoastal access to boats 25’ or shorter with a dedicated area for launching canoes, kayaks and paddleboards.

            Pursuant to the Feasibility Study done for this project, officially called the Chain of Lakes Blueway Trail Project (http://www.bluewaytrail.com), home values in the immediate surrounding communities where these green way to blue way boat lifts have been installed in other parts of Florida, have increased by about 150%.  Our fair City of Lake Worth, has also been offered a federal grant to help improve the adjacent area on the immediate South side of the C-51 canal where all of this is taking place.  Our State Representative, Dave Kerner, recently sent a mailer that advised that the State of Florida has also budgeted $286,900 toward this project for permitting and design.  Having this project take place virtually in our back yard will only serve to increase our home values and enhance our local economy significantly.

            Recently, Vernon Heights was advised by the Palm Beach County Office of Community Revitalization, that we, along with 9 other Lake Worth Neighborhood Associations, were recommended for a Residential Education to Access Program (REAP) Grant.  Our Grant, will be in the amount of $2,000.  All of the Grants are a result of Lake Worth and other county neighborhood residents attending free classes offered by Palm Beach County for 5 weeks.   Board Members, Carla Blockson, Tom Bassie and Tina Casazza attended on behalf of Vernon Heights.  The Grant will enable Vernon Heights to establish a Crime Watch Program and purchase Banners identifying our neighborhood.  We will be able to obtain signs, brochures, banners and other related resources for these projects with little or no cost to the Association.  A commendable result for attendance at 5 weeks of classes and a first attempt at grant writing.  We also learned that there are many more grants available from many different sources.  Our future plan is to apply for more grant money for additional projects in our neighborhood.

            Vernon Heights also renewed its membership in the NAPC – Neighborhood Association of Presidents Council – this Council will help us strengthen our voice as a neighborhood when we undertake certain projects which require City approval and assistance.  It will also broaden our horizons as a community.  We hope to be more involved in what makes the City tick and to insure that the City is run in a manner we all feel is in keeping with the principles everyone wants to live by –  neighborhoods free from crime, homes that are well kept, neighbors that look out for one another and a community we can all take pride in.

             In order to effectuate these changes, we must become involved.  All of us have something we can bring to the table.  A talent, a knowledge or an ability, that we can utilize to assist our friends and neighbors.  All we have to do is share it with them.  Maybe you have a green thumb and your neighbor struggles to keep the grass growing – you are likely to have the ability to impart information and knowledge that will help that neighbor get their grass growing again and to thrive.  Not much effort was put forth by you, your green thumb is your gift and all you did was share information.  You got involved on a most basic level.

             I’d like to encourage you all to begin participating in your own neighborhood and in the community as a whole.  We can make a difference — maybe only on a small scale — but it will matter and have an effect on the community.  You can do it for your own sake and for the sake of another.  It will enrich your life and the life of those you come in contact with. 

           All of this brings me back to the fact that we live in an enclave.  A small part of the big picture.  By getting involved, we can make a difference in how that picture is perceived by those who are viewing it.  I’m proud to say I live in Lake Worth and particularly proud of the fact that I live in the enclave known as Vernon Heights and I hope you are too.


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Earth Day Park Clean Up

Thanks to all who showed up on Saturday, April 16 to help clean up the Park for Earth Day. We were able to clean up and remove trash from the lakes and the park itself. We also had a great crew of men who did some tree clearing. The Park looks really very neat and clean as a result.  Volunteers went throughout the neighborhood and cleared all storm drains of debris also.

We also had a neighbor who found a little duckling on her property and we were able to reunite the little one with its mama and siblings, but not before the children had an opportunity to check him out.  This little guy was also able to help demonstrate Tom Bassie’s softer side!!  Here are some photos from Saturday:

Tom showing his softer side.

Tom showing his softer side.

The children learning about benevolence to all creatures.

The children learning about benevolence to all creatures.

Paul Blockson, Raymond Casazza and Tom Bassie worked hard to make our Park beautiful

Paul Blockson, Raymond Casazza and Tom Bassie worked hard to make our Park beautiful

That's a big pile of clippings!

That’s a big pile of clippings!

Mama and babies all together!!

Mama and babies all together!!

The Beautiful Results

The beautiful result of all that hard work

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Thanks and Other News You Should Know!

Thanks to all who attended the Annual Membership Meeting Saturday, April 2, 2016 in the Park.

I’d like to thank our immediate past-Vice President, Theresa Leiser, for her MANY years of service on the Board of Directors, over the years Theresa has served in all Board positions — her presence will be greatly missed!  I am gratified knowing she is willing to continue with limited participation by being on a committee or two from time to time.

With that said, your new Board is as follows:  Tina Casazza, President; Tom Bassie, Vice-President; David Cotton, Treasurer; Kathy Yates, Secretary; and, Carla Blockson, Director.  Congratulations to Tom and Carla!!  I look forward to working with all of you to further the goals of all residents and enhancing our community.

Over the next months, we will be working together to bring an active Crime Watch Program to the neighborhood.  This is very important particularly in light of some of the recent vehicle and home burglaries in the neighborhood.  None of us should be victimized in our homes or on our property.  We can all work together as a community to keep our neighborhood safe.  If you see something that doesn’t look right or someone who looks suspicious, say something!  Go ahead, make the call!

We will also be working toward becoming more transparent — we’ll be uploading the monthly meeting agendas, meeting minutes and budget information onto our website.  We’ll be obtaining resident’s e-mail information so we can communicate more efficiently  and effectively by utilizing electronic means to reach community members.

We’re planning some fun and community based activities also – Our Earth Day Park, Street an Alley Clean Up will be held on April 16; Tom Bassie will be hosting his Annual Block Party on April 23.  Vernon Heights will be participating in the Great American Raft Race at Bryant Park on July 4, 2016. Details regarding all these events will be posted here on our website, on our Facebook page and sent to you via our e-mail service.

I certainly appreciate having had a chance to hear everyone’s input and comments regarding some of the issues we’ve been facing recently and some things we may be facing in the not too distant future.   The Board can only take action to deal with situations and problems if they are made aware of them.  The Board can’t be everywhere all the time, so your input is  critical, necessary and always MUCH appreciated.

I, personally, would like to thank everyone for the support and confidence you’ve shown  me as President this past year.  I will continue to strive to be approachable and receptive to your comments, criticisms, complaints and compliments and want to help make Vernon Heights a friendly, fun and safe place to live.

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