The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 26, 1998 · Page 131
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 131

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Thursday, March 26, 1998
Page 131
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Page 131 article text (OCR)

SECTION B w HOME RESALES SOAR CHARTER SCHOOLS The school board gives provisional approval to open five charter schools in August. STORY, 5B Sales of existing single-family homes rose 30 percent in Palm Beach County in February. BUSINESS, ID The Palm Beach Post THURSDAY. MARCH 26. 1998 TT N A TT 1 TTTTI17 ATT7W7D LUIAL w in va Federal cash on line without emissions test Failure rates by model year Failure rates for mandatory emissions tests show how many cars the government considers 'fross oolluters.' ) Transportation officials say o- ' inJ TVT7!f For the next five years, most of its federal money is budgeted to turn Southern Boulevard into a highway, widen State Road 7, and expand Military Trail to six lanes, Whitfield said. There is no proof the mandatory emissions tests have done anything for Florida's air, and state records confirm the proposed cutbacks would have no effect on pollution. Last year, Palm Beach County residents tested about 348,000 cars for more than $3.48 million, records show. "I've heard this argument about the money before," said Sen. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, who supports cutbacks. "I'm not worried about that. I'm going to base my decision on scientific data." million in federal money for road projects without statistics gathered from the emissions tests. "By having the Motor Vehicle Inspection Program, we get credit for cutting tons of pollution," MPO Director Randy Whitfield said Wednesday. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has threatened to block money to states that can't control air pollution, it rarely rejects waivers to states that design other tests. The EPA's air-quality rating system rewards states with emissions testing, regardless of whether it helps air quality. The MPO earmarks $200 million annually for roads and mass transit. 25 24 11 2 0 3 9 30 38 20 1975-1979 1980-1984 1985-1989 1990-1994 1995-1997 program or make only minor changes despite records that show the tests do not decrease smog. A Florida Senate committee on Tuesday OK'd a bill to spend $125,000 for a consultant to probe the state testing program and recommend changes by next year. If approved by the Senate, the bill would prevent companies that test cars from renewing their contracts until the consultant's report recommends how frequent and expensive the tests should be. Other House and Senate bills would exempt the last four model years of cars and cut annual testing to every other year. MPO members fear the county would not qualify for its annual allotment of $25 road projects would pay tne price if inspections ended. By Matt Reed Palm Beack Post Staff Writer Cutting emissions tests could save Palm Beach County motorists more than $3 million a year and wouldn't increase pollution, but local transportation officials worry making any changes could risk federal road money. The county's Metropolitan Planning Organization a panel of 17 elected city, county and port leaders is urging state legislators to keep the $10-a-car testing 1998 model year data not available Source: Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles UNA LAWSONStaff Artist The way it's sung in Finland District planning RflMflUlllll r v Y I cu hospita ii V IS X It l Y. A 'Acs 't'riA . I '. ; . ill"' h , ; I-, i j i-! '.I - lit v 7 I 4, rm . w W X ' 1 ----- . i r 1 takeover Health care district officials will ask the state's permission to take over Everglades Regional Medical Center. By Jennifer Peltz Palm Beach Post Staff Writer WEST PALM BEACH Palm Beach County officials are preparing to take over a Pahokee hospital if they have to, but they haven't abandoned hope for a peacefiil transition. County Health Care District officials on Wednesday didn't soften their stance toward the private board of Everglades Regional Medical Center. They also agreed to seek state permission to take over if they can't reach a deal and if the state will protect county taxpayers against at least some of Everglades' mounting debts. Two more hospital creditors sued last week. And in a letter Tuesday, state officials announced they expect the hospital to refund nearly $1.7 million worth of Medicaid payments made between 1992 and 1996. . . The state doesn't suspect the hospital of abusing Medicaid, which pays for medical treatment for the poor, said John Owens, supervisor with the Agency for Health Care Administration. The agency pays hospitals according to their reported costs in previous years, later auditing those reports and changing the rates retroactively. Owens said decreases are common, generally because of technical errors. The health district is concerned because anyone who takes over a hospital must also assume its Medicaid debts, said Peter Sachs, a district lawyer. District officials said they'd take over only if they can bargain the state down. ' The district and hospital board have fought over control of Everglades since 1991. In December, facing financial problems, the hospital board said it was ready to surrender. Then the two sides started fighting over the terms of the turnover and whether the hospital had fully disclosed its finances. The tax-financed health district wanted a guarantee it wouldn't have to pay any of Everglades debts. But the Everglades board contends some ol those debts arose because the health district stopped supporting the hospital in 1995. The Everglades lawyer couldn't be reached. Administrator Donald Anderson would only say. "It kind of takes us back to where we were." RICHARD GRAULICHStaff Photographer Mth no sponsor, Scouts find they're up a creek tn an However, he said and turn it in" to the national organi V f space is limited with more than 30 other clubs and town boards already sharing the two available rooms. An option would be to leave Lake Park and merge with another town's troop. "It would be no fair for us because we already have a group, and to split us up because we have nowhere else to go isn't right," 12-year-old Adam Johnson said. Devin Tompkins, 15, agreed: "I just hope someone will come forward and sponsor us. We're not bad kids. We help people." Potential sponsors can call Coleman at 845-1856. said. Until they do, the 10 boys can't renew their charter with the Boy Scouts of America or the insurance that allows them to take part in outdoor activities. The youngsters were forced to skip a three-day camporee in Dreher Park three weeks ago that drew 1,300 Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts from Boca Raton to Sebastian. Other events scheduled through June have been postponed. "We have the money for the insurance, but our hands are tied," Coleman said. "Until we get a signature, we can't fill out the paperwork zation. The boys, ages 11 to 15, have been relegated to meetings, which have been temporarily moved to the town hall. They need a sponsor, which would become the troop's charter organization. It could be a club, church, business or group of people who would provide a location where the boys could hold their weekly meetings and store their camping equipment. Lake Park Director of Community Affairs Dale Dougherty said the town would allow the troop to continue meeting at town hall if they had no- Lake Park's only troop can't renew its charter, get insurance or even camp. By Kristin Vaughan Palm Beach Post Staff Writer LAKE PARK The town's only Boy Scout troop has been packing up instead of camping out since losing its church sponsorship last month and they haven't found a new sponsor. For 14 years, Troop 753 met at the Immanuel United Presbyterian Church. The building was sold last year, and its new owners told the troop in February they had 30 days to find a new home, Scout leader Rob Coleman 3 welfare reform projects await key OKs, won't start April 1 Man found guilty in earjack-murder of Bible teacher 'I find it hard to believe that anyone is confused about this. Viey either weren 't listening or they Keren 't at the meetings. ' ED FEAVER Department of Children and Families - ' I 3 - ' V . f JS u r By William Cooper Jr. Palm Beach Post Staff Writer A key part of Florida's welfare reform plan to have the private sector run certain programs hit a snag because of bad communication between the state and local officials. Ed Feaver, the secretary for the Department of Children and Families, said three welfare reform projects can't begin by April 1 as required by law because his agency is still waiting for federal approval to allow the private sector to run food stamps and Medicaid. Without that approval, pilot projects here and in Lake, Sumpter. Volusia and Flagler counties can't operate solely in the hands of the private sector. Feaver said. Yet. that was the intent of state lawmakers who wanted to know if a private company could run Florida's welfare system better and cheaper. IxKal officials overseeing welfare reform in Palm I?each County disagree with leaver. ITiey believe the pilot projects can proceed without the federal approval only if DCF would follow the wishes of the state legislature. But local officials interpret Florida's welfare-to-work legislation which allows a private company to do everything from determine eligibility to 'job training to say they can proceed, even without the special approval. The dispute has both sides hoping for a favorable decision from the federal government that will prevent confusion for the thousands ol recipier: who must find work by S-pt. W or 1; se By Scott Hiaasen Palm Beach Post Staff Writer WEST PALM BEACH Jurors found Sergio Soto guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder and five other charges stemming from the carjacking and shooting of a Bible teacher in 1995. Prosecutors said Soto, 21, and another man, Jason Diaz, abducted Rafael Costa, 25, from a Lake Worth gas station to steal Costa's Ford Mustang. With the help of a third man, Ernesto Brady, they took Costa to a remote spot on U.S. 441 and shot him four times. Though Diaz denied shooting Costa, Assistant State Attorney Dan Galo said he should be convicted of murder because he helped with the carjacking and accepted money and a beeper from the theft. , . Soto said the carjacking was Diaz s idea, and that Soto was threatened at gunpoint into coop- "(Diaz) would have shot Sergio just as surely as he shot and killed Mr. Costa," said Soto's attorney. lola Mosley. Brady pleaded guilty in the murder and was M-ntenced to 40 years in prison. Diaz is a fugitive. IVosecutors are asking Circuit Judge John Phillips to sentence Sto to death. Costa's sister. Anna Valdez, said Nto s vktion was more imxrtant to her than his sentencing as Ion as he's never freed from prison -Whatever justice he's getting is for the rest of his 1." she said. their benefits. Under federal welfare reform, Congress gave states the authority to hire private companies to operate welfare programs. Two weeks ago, Lockheed Martin won the contracts to do that in two Florida communities. The problem is that Florida's welfare system is designed for one worker to determine eligibility for three separate federal program ca-h assistance, food stamps and Medicaid. DCF believes if Ixkhtn-d Martin only t k over the cash assistance program, clients will be confused because they 11 be bounced troni program to program. According to DCF Svretary Feaver, his agency has always held an all-or-nothing approach to the pilot projects. "1 find it hard to believe that anyone is confused about this." Feaver said. "They i-ither weren't listening or they weren't a! the 1 ii in ' LIU XiN Sraf PtKrfng'fWef Bumper crop WEST PALM BEACH - Andy Hanson (left) and Greg Peterson place bumpers between boats in preparation for today's opening of the 13th annual Pa'm Beach Boat Show along Flag'er Drive. STORY, 9C

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