The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on September 14, 1999 · Page 56
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September 14, 1999

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 56

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Tuesday, September 14, 1999
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Page 56
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The Palm Beach Post msl SECTION B MYSTERIOUS DEATH Amateur boxing state champion dies in his sleep in Port St. Lucie despite good health. STORY, 2B AFTER FLOYD Several important. events on tap right' behind the storm. " JERI BUTLER, ID TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14,1999 LOCAL NEWS Sewage at Lykes plant started fires days before big blaze of the other chemicals in the building. Workers also had to build a dike in the middle of the plant to prevent water containing overheated sludge to flow into some ammonium nitrate, where it could have caused an especially explosive situation. Ammonium nitrate, which is used to make some fertilizers, was a key ingredient in the bomb used in the Oklahoma City bombing. The blaze was the first of two emergencies in a Lykes plant in a two-week span. On Sept 9, about 100 employees evacuated a Pasco County plant after a fire marshal detected what he thought was a natural gas leak. A leak wasn't found, however. "What happens sometimes is that when the microbes begin to decompose, it generates heat," Schuler said. "When you get a hot temperature on top of that, it becomes combustible. This has happened for generations." Schuler said that usually the bins of sludge are separated by barriers that keep it from other combustible fertilizer ingredients. If the sewage does catch on fire, it will usually consume itself, he said. During the Aug. 29 blaze, three bins two containing sewage, one containing potassium nitrate caught on fire at the east side of the building. After that burn was discovered, employees were ushered in to remove some company's response would be that we haven't had any discussion with the fire marshal." Schuler said the report was based on interviews with fire district officials and the conversations they had with Lykes officials. Costello added that there's nothing out of the ordinary with sludge smoldering. "When you have sludge like that, it isn't uncommon for these areas to have little flares," Costello said. They don't really see it as a fire. It just smolders and then they put it out" The sludge is combustible and can ignite if it gets hot enough, said Schuler. ard Schuler. They were small and confined to small areas of the sludge, and the employees easily extinguished them." But Schuler said on Aug. 29 a Sunday there weren't any employees around to extinguish the fires, which eventually led to an evacuation of hundreds of people in a 1-square-mile area around the plant. Harry Costello, a spokesman for Lykes, said he's surprised that a report has been filed. The report's investigator, Gregory Gilkey, hasn't visited the facility or talked to any company officials, including plant manager Conrad Hardle, Costello said. "He hasn't been there," he said. The The smaller fires had been put out by plant employees, but on Aug. 29, a Sunday, nobody was around. By Michael Van Sickler Palm Beach Post Staff Writer J The treated sewage that investigators blame for igniting the Aug. 29 fire at the Lykes Agri-Sales fertilizer plant was also the source for smaller fires a few days before the blaze, according to a report by the state Fire Marshal's Office. 1 "Some of the employees had seen small spots of fires in the bay toward the east side of the building," said Lt. Rich if 1) . i i I vy J 7 1 I if 4 X .: f Land-use changes OKdfor Riverwalk The zoning alterations : will allow shops for the Port St. Lucie ; commercial project. ; By Teresa Lane Palm Beach Post Staff Writer PORT ST. LUCIE Despite hurricane warnings that canceled most other government meetings Monday night, city council members held a scaled-down version of their agenda that included preliminary approval of a $123 million spending plan and land-use changes for three parcels along the Riverwalk. Although no one spoke diir- ing a public hearing on the budj get, a handful of residents near Midport Road opposed land-use changes for three parcels along the Riverwalk and urged council members to table a decision until Hurricane Floyd had passed. The land-use changes will pave the way for new zoning categories on 13 acres owned by the city and developer Butch Ter-pening west of Midport Road between Lyngate and Rivergate parks. The sites are designated for recreational and multifamily residential uses now, but the land-use changes allow such commercial uses as restaurants and shops. Several residents who live near Midport Road said their neighbors were not available for Monday's final public hearing because they were busy preparing for the hurricane. Although council members said the land-use changes will not pave the way for the low-income housing formerly proposed by Terpening, some residents accused council members of continuing to ignore their desires when planning Riverwalk. Marilyn Paul of Sandpiper Bay said residents from several neighborhoods have been meeting for weeks to discuss the tourist-oriented district and want council members to seek their input before making more decisions. In other action Monday, Mease see PORT ST. LUCIE, 2B Photo by CHRIS MATULA board's attorney, was cleared of wrongdoing after a board inquiry into comments she made about killing two board members and the schools police chief. Cynthia Prettyman was all smiles Monday as she walked out of a Palm Beach County School Board meeting with her attorney, Bob Montgomery. Prettyman, the Palm Beach County schools attorney not a 'threat' neric to me," Handler told them. The bizarre series of events unfolded after Prettyman told Senior Associate General Counsel Tom Elfers on Sept. 2 that she wanted to kill the two board members and schools Police Chief Jim Kelly. Elfers said he didn't think she was kidding and took her remarks to Kelly 36 hours later. Kelly opened an investigation and suggested Burdick and Montgomery lock themselves in their homes over the Labor Day weekend even though Prettyman was in Mexico on a scuba-diving vacation. Prettyman told board members she never meant for any of this to happen. "I am sorry about the great embar- Please see PRETTYMAN, 2B Responded Montgomery: "I find this motion totally and absolutely unacceptable and its hard for me to believe we can send this type of message to our children, to our fellow employees . . . under this kind of circumstance." Attorney Henry Handler, hired by the school board last week to advise them on how to proceed with the investigation against their own lawyer, told board members that what Prettyman said did not constitute a threat under the law. A true threat would have been more specific (including where and when it would be carried out), would have been intentionally relayed to its target and would have posed imminent danger, he said. "It seemed rather rambling and ge dick and Dorothy Montgomery dissenting, the board voted to close an inquiry into what Prettyman said Sept. 2, deciding that she never meant to hurt anyone. She will return to work this week. Prettyman says she made a "stupid, offhand" comment about blowing away the two board members after a school board meeting during which they gave her grief. Those words blew into a circus of enormous proportions. On Monday, board member Tom Lynch told his colleagues it was time to put the controversy to rest. "It's my feeling there have been hurt feelings and remarks that may be regrettable, but it's time for us to move on," he said. Cynthia Prettyman got so mad she said she wanted to kill two board members. The board decides she was just blowing off steam. By Stephanie Desmon Palm Beach Post Staff Writer WEST PALM BEACH Palm Beach County School Board attorney Cynthia Prettyman escaped Monday without so much as a reprimand for remarks she made about turning a shotgun on two school board members. The board ignored the concerns of the pair who felt threatened by her. With board members Paulette Bur- Sexual offender freed; Ryce Act assailed District 82 primary election delayed a week by hurricane 'In terms ofsparseness and depravity . . it rivals the worst ones in other states. That ends up hurting them. Not helping them.' CRAIG HANEY University of California at Santa Cruz day, then the top two vote-getters will face off Oct. 5. While Floyd might have canceled the election, it won't stop the Martin County Commission. Martin officials will hold their meeting at By Howie Paul Hartnett Palm Beach Post Staff Writer : STUART Hurricane Floyd postponed the special Republican primary today in the District 82 race. The schools will be shelters, the fire 9 a.m. today as scheduled in the Blake Library. But the meeting will be shorter than expected. Most of the agenda will be put off until another meeting. What can't be put off, however, is the acceptance of a few state grants and the adoption of this year's solid waste assess The Indiantown center is like prison, a psychology professor tells the court during Monday's hearing. By Susan Spencer-Wendel Palm Beach Post Staff Writer WEST PALM BEACH Lawyers in court Monday decrying the practice of keeping sexual offenders in state custody after the end of their prison sentences lost one of their shackled charges right as the hearing began. Guards removed the chains from sex offender Tony Wilson's hands and feet after a prosecutor conceded that new psychological evidence in his case could no longer justify keeping him. Wilson, 35, finished his prison sentence in February, but has been forcibly interned at a state treatment center under the Jimmy Ryce Act The lawyers presented evidence Monday that the center, with its former use of electric shock belts and a staff made up of trained jail guards, is just an extension of prison. Wilson walked out of the lOth-floor courtroom, stood and stared at the expansive view of the white-capped ocean and Palm Beach. "I'm overwhelmed. I know who I am. I know I won't re-offend But I'm still overwhelmed," he said. Three fellow patients of Wilson's at the state's stations will be closed up and poll workers will be in shelters," said Peggy Robbins, Martin County's supervisor of elections. "We're not having an election." Gov. Jeb Bush ordered the postponement and rescheduled it for next Tuesday. House District 82 Re-nublicans were scheduled .fit. v specially designated sex offender treatment center remained inside the courtroom, chained, listening to Assistant Public Defenders Peggy Natale and Nellie King launch their local attack on the act's constitutionality. The Jimmy Ryce Act glided through the 1998 Florida Legislature and became law Jan. 1. It was named for a 9-year-old Miami-Dade boy who was raped and murdered by a convicted sexual predator who had completed his prison sentence. The act allows that when a violent sex offender's sentence is ending, but he's still considered dangerous, prosecutors sue him in a civil trial and try to prove to a judge and jury that he's likely to offend again. If so, Please see SEX OFFENDERS, 2B Bush Warner ments. The assessments have to be set so the tax collector can send tax bills to residents on time, officials said. "We may be there an hour, a half-hour or 30 seconds," Commission Chairwoman Janet Gettig said. D . Staff writer Lady Hereford contributed to this story. to vote today to narrow the five-candidate field looking to face Democrat Cara Scherer in the Nov. 2 general election. The winner of . the general election will replace Rep. Tom Warner, R-Stuart, who is stepping down in October to become the state's solicitor general. ; If none of the five GOP candidates gets more than 50 percent of the vote next Tuesj

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