The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 29, 1998 · Page 791
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March 29, 1998

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 791

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Sunday, March 29, 1998
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Page 791
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The Palm Beach Post MSL SECTION B STOCK LISTINGS The listings from Friday's close of . the New York and American stock exchanges. PAGES 7-10B A TEEN RALLY Some Treasure Coast students are invited to the Governor's Teen Tobacco Summit. STORY, 11B f V f WWW f ifyHfW t i1' r m" . SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 1998 LOCAL NEWS v-.'fi' . . : " .... .. 1 , m . ; ' V- ' I I Vi 1 9 Glenn Henderson felcome to the world of fish lesions ----- - f . V 4? - L DAVID LANEStaff Photographer have been found in the Indian and St. Lucie rivers since the freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee began. Allow me a few moments to dream: Sensing a devastating blow to the Treasure Coast's economy, local, state and federal officials band together in a united effort to find the cause of fish, pelican and turtle deaths in the Indian and St Lucie rivers. A team of researchers is dispatched to the area, sets up a headquarters and begins a thorough investigation. A prompt response is important, everyone agrees, not only because of the harm to sea life but because of the more-serious health threat facing humans. Politicians resist the temptation to twist the crisis to their own advantage, instead working behind the scenes to get money and assistance. Within months, the mystery has been solved, solutions have been designed and action is taking place. The rivers quickly show signs of recovery. Now it's back to reality: Nearly a month, after the sick-fish problem became acute, the response has been inadequate, the investigation is disorganized and the lack of answers is frustrating. Who is in charge? What is known is that a toxic algae is suspected, and the problem is being exacerbated by massive fresh-water releases from Lake Okeechobee. Where the algae comes from, how it affects marine life and what can be done about it are among the many questions no one seems close to answering. The biggest problem is that no one has taken charge. : The Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, the Martin County health department and Martin County officials are all involved. But coordination and communication are lacking. DEP sent one biologist from a Stuart Middle School teacher Lois Lynch trails a plankton net behind the Environmental Studies Center boat River Scout to collect samples. Few plankton Dearth of plankton, death to other species? Plankton - food chain's missing link Salt levels 30 parts per thousand - Plankton, microscopic k organisms at the base of the food chain, have almost 25 20 15 TV 10 o5 - IN disappeared from the once salty St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon since heavy releases of fresh water from Lake Okeechobee. 490 1 497 489 592 398 c- Pelican, Shrimp and crabs struggle to find food in rivers filled with too much fresh water. By Sally D. Swartz Palm Beach Post Staff Writer For shrimp and crabs, they're what's for dinner. So tiny that you need a microscope to see most of them, plankton are crucial to marine life in the St. Lucie and Indian rivers. Snapper and other fish eat the shrimp, and pelicans, ospreys and other birds eat the fish. "Plankton are at the very base of our food chain," said Demma Bailey, teacher at the Environmental Studies Center in Jensen Beach, "and they are disappearing from our estuary." Teachers and students have monitored the rivers for plankton for 25 years, Bailey said. In daily tests at different sites throughout both rivers in Martin County since March 2, they haven't found any of the one-celled plants and larvae of crabs and shrimp. "It's too soon to make a definitive statement about what this could mean, but we're pretty horrified," Bailey said. "It's scary. We've always had spots where there was not as much plankton, but we've never seen these kinds of results so consistently." Past studies have shown dramatic increases of plankton in the rivers each spring, teacher John Wakeman said. This year's absence of plankton coincides with the heavy releases of fresh water from overflowing Lake Okeechobee into the rivers. The fresh water coursing to the ocean blows the salt water out of the rivers, threatening the survival of ocean species that live in the brackish inland waters. El Nino's rains throughout Central and South Florida have filled the lake 4 feet above normal. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, trying to lower the lake before hurricane season starts so residents won't face flood danger, is releasing 4 billion gallons of fresh water a day into the rivers. Mullet and several species of ocean fish began turning up with sores, tumors and lesions March 2. Scientists have identified a microscopic algae, Cryptoperidiniopsis, that Please see PIMK10H10B and other birds Plankton, are food for... : Snapper, ' ,are food for... :74 a? Shrimp, are food for... f! U v ' 1 Sea grass St Petersburg institute, to take samples of water and sick fish for a few days. The department's Te-questa and Melbourne labs are providing some support but basically DEP is relying on a fish-kill hotline and local bait and tackle shops and Please see HENDERSONitffi Plankton eat algae found in sea grass, but sea grass can't grow when excessive fresh water churns up sediment, blocking sunlight. MARK HEMPHILLStaff Artist ?How can St. ; Lucie help?' 4 s . High school, college sharing plan offered The idea, a lawmaker says, is addressing common needs through location. By Joe Vidueira Palm Beach Post Staff Writer STUART High school and colleges have common needs: libraries, gymnasiums, cafeterias and classrooms, for example. So why not build high schools and colleges right next to each other so they can share those - ' -a -""' ".-.' county asks businesses The new economic : development guru sends questionnaires : to 800 firms. . By Jim Reeder ; Palm Beach Post Staff Writer FORT PIERCE St Lucie County officials have asked 800 lnral comoanies to tell them what mmmm things? That's the idea behind a request by state Rep. Tom Warner, R-Stuart, for $250,000 in state money to study whether such a plan is workable in Martin County. The plans are sketchy, but some details are being discussed by local education officials, including Indian River Community College President Edwin Massey. Martin Schools JASON NUTTIEStaff Photographer Dominique Colarusso, 7, of Key Largo, helps make a tissue-paper collage at ArtsFest '98, which continues today. ArtsFest '98 rolls out warm colors, cool jazz Warner the county can do to help keep them in business here. - Ifs part of the county's new economic development activism, " which includes an ambitious plan for more industrial parks with water, sewer and other basics that ; businesses need. Julia Shewchuck, the county's economic development coordinator, said they're trying to gather information on what businesses are already here and what problems they have. "We sent out the first questionnaires last week and have already gotten a ton of them back." Shewchuck said. "We're trying to learn if there are common prob- lems for each' type business and, if so, how we can help." For example, the responses could lead to development of new employee-training programs at Indian River Community College r-or assistance with getting financing for plant expansion through Martin County High to display drawings, paintings and sculpture. Mark's drawings included an interesting study of an African woman and her baby. "I loved the proud look on her face," Mark said. In addition to the art on display, crafts and hands-on projects for the kids, entertainment is available at several stages throughout the day. Food ranging from pizza to turkey legs to shrimp is also offered. The festival continues from 1 1 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. Admission is $4. and let them express their creativity," said Kate Wood, one of the tissue-paper supervisors. Art work from older students and professional artists is also on display at the two-day event, which wraps up this afternoon with a feature performance by the Dave Brubeck Quartet A section of East Ocean Boulevard from the courthouse to Stuart Middle School is closed during the festival with parking available behind the courthouse. High school senior Amanda Mark was one of several art students from Superintendent Sara Wilcox and board member Tony George. "It's about thinking out-of-the-box, something totally different," Massey said. What is being discussed is a collaboration by IRCC and the Martin County School District to build the county's next high school on or adjacent to IRCC's Martin campus, the Chastain Center. "It's a neat idea." said Chris Dudley. Commissioner Frank Brogan's deputy chief of staff. "It makes a lot of sense to share resources. It lets you , put more money into the classroom." Warner could not be reached for comment. If the legislature finances the preliminary Aase see SCHO&SiOfl By Jin Taylor Palm Beach Post Staff Writer STUART One would-be Andy Warhol from Hidden Oaks Middle School displayed his rendition of the famous Campbell's soup can while other budding artists swabbed thin glue over tissue paper to create a colorful wall at Stuart's ArtsFest Saturday. "It's like glue sticks," exclaimed 9-year-old Paul Aposilides as he slathered his blue paper with the glue. This is fun!" "It's just to get people involved I r leases BUSINESSES

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