2017 – 2018 Season in Review Video

Civic Association  |  April 19, 2018

The Palm Beach Civic Association was involved and engaged in the community throughout the 2017 – 2018 season. See the video in the link above for a six minute review of recent association activity.

Happy news and sad news this season…  First, the happy news:

In September, our Chairman and CEO Bob Wright married our Vice President of Marketing and Membership, Susan Keenan.  We congratulate the happy couple who are so supportive of Civic Association activities.  During the season, the Wrights graciously hosted a Civic Association party at their home for our directors and major donors.

As the wedding day approached, the soon-to-be Mrs. Wright resigned her position at the Civic Association, and we were sad to see her go.  Soon, however, Mary Robosson, the widely-known, very capable former Development Director at the Kravis Center (1992-2004), stepped up to take the job.  Mary recruited Allison Tardonia, also widely-known and very capable, the former Kravis Development Assistant (1998-2004), to serve on the Civic Association team as our new Membership and Events Manager.

Now, the sad news:

Last fall, our former chairman, Stanley M. Rumbough Jr., passed away at 97.  An entrepreneur and philanthropist, Stan was a Civic Association director for more than 40 years. He was co-chairman for 10 years and CEO from 2005 to 2009 where he led the association’s policy-making executive committee.  Stan loved Palm Beach and he loved the Civic Association. He was our friend and we miss him.

Through Stan’s generosity and the generosity of his family and friends, the Palm Beach Civic Association has established the Stanley M. Rumbough Jr. Legacy Society with gifts and commitments totaling more than one million dollars.

The Stanley M. Rumbough, Jr. Legacy Society will ensure the Civic Association long-term fiscal stability to continue our mission of protecting and enhancing the quality of life in Palm Beach.  The Society will serve as a catalyst to educate our citizens through organized forums and symposiums in perpetuity.

In other news, the Civic Association was extremely active on all fronts this season in our efforts to protect and improve Palm Beach.

We partnered with the Town of Palm Beach and invested $50,000 to conduct a peer review of the Town-Wide Underground Utilities Master Plan.  The report helped Town officials make sure they were employing the most effective, financially sound procedures when burying the overhead utilities.

We engaged an engineering firm to study traffic congestion created by West Palm Beach development and recommend solutions for Palm Beachers who must fight their way through the city of West Palm Beach to get on and off the island.

Civic Association Directors E. Llwyd Ecclestone and Leo Vecellio and our consultant, former County Commissioner Karen Marcus met with West Palm Beach elected officials and West Palm Beach residents’ groups.  They attended West Palm Beach public meetings with our traffic experts to appeal for improved access and egress to Palm Beach Island.

In the fall, the Civic Association hosted a community forum on Hurricane Irma recovery and the Town’s undergrounding program.

During the winter, the association presented a town-wide forum for residents to hear their elected officials, meet the candidates for the Town Council, and get to know the new Town Manager Kirk Blouin.

Civic Association directors were treated to a special luncheon by Civic Association Director Jeff Greene at his Tideline Hotel in Palm Beach.  As our host and a major local developer, Mr. Greene presented a comprehensive overview of West Palm Beach development along with his own plans for the future.

Under the skilled leadership of Civic Association director and executive committee member Harvey L. Poppel, Civic Association volunteers undertook an exhaustive long range planning study of the Town of Palm Beach.

Our Tax and Finance Committee, led by our treasurer Pat Cooper, analyzed the Town budget, helped Town officials address pension challenges and participated in the Town’s Comprehensive Review of Town Operations.

Our consultant Karen Marcus and the Save Our Inlet Coalition, led by Civic Association Director Keith Beaty, encouraged Palm Beach County to take over Peanut Island and the Kennedy Bunker and turn the entire Peanut Island property into a County park open to the public.

Our Public Safety Committee, chaired by executive committee member Dave Duffy, met with then Public Safety Director Kirk Blouin to discuss Town safety issues.

Our Health Care Committee, led by director Jeffrey Levitt, welcomed Good Samaritan Medical Center’s new CEO Tara McCoy and produced a community forum entitled: “Live to be 100 with a High Quality Palm Beach Lifestyle.”

In February, the Civic Association hosted a highly successful luncheon and fund raiser at the Breakers featuring MSNBC’s Brian Williams.  More than 60 event underwriters joined Brian Williams and his wife, Jane, at a dinner hosted and underwritten by Howard and Michele Kessler at their beautiful home.  Director Jeff Smith was awarded the William J. “Bill” Brooks Community Service Award.

This season, more than a dozen organizations stepped up to underwrite Civic Association programs and activities.  Major sponsors included Boca Nursing Services, The Breakers, Braman Motorcars, Campazzi Concierge Medical Services, First Republic Bank, Florida Crystals, the Frisbie Group, Good Samaritan Medical Center, Holistic Integrated Health (HIH), Linda R. Olsson, Inc., Palm Beach Island Hospice Foundation, Scripps Research Institute, Florida, and Tiffany & Co.  The Civic Association is grateful to everyone who supports our community efforts.

The Civic Association Holiday party in the Breakers Circle Ballroom was attended by over 300 guests and once again proved to be a highlight of the year.

The very successful Civic Association-Garden Club tour of the magnificent Four Arts Garden sold out for another season.

The Association’s 2017 Raymond J. Kunkel Award for heroic or meritorious service to the Town was presented to:

  • Sean Luca Frankland, a student at Bak Middle School of the Arts and South End resident, for creating “Recycle with Sean Luca” in which he collects abandoned or donated bicycles, washes and fixes them, and delivers them to homeless and family outreach centers.
  • Gray Foster, a Palm Beach Day Academy student and Palm Beach resident, for his research on the environment and his efforts to improve Palm Beach by banning plastic bags and ending the release of balloons on our beaches.
  • Friends of Palm Beach, founded by Diane Buhler, for their comprehensive beach cleaning program in the community.

Again this season, the Civic Association joined the Citizens’ Association of Palm Beach to co-fund the Town’s “Employee of the Year Award” and a scholarship for the child of a Town employee.

In April, Mayor Gail Coniglio delivered her annual State-of-the-Town address to a full house at the Civic Association’s Annual Meeting and Season-End Celebration at the Flagler Museum.  The Town Beautification Award was presented to the Garden Club of Palm Beach for its amazing contributions to the beauty of Palm Beach over many years.

Following the tragic school shootings in Parkland, Florida, the Civic Association Executive Committee issued a statement condemning the violence and calling on elected officials to ensure the safety of all citizens.

Last July, after almost five years of construction, the new Flagler Memorial Bridge opened to the public.  Mayor Gail Coniglio and Civic Association directors worked behind the scenes to help make it happen while keeping the old bridge open to traffic during construction.

To spread the word about the negative impact of plastic shopping bags, the Civic Association partnered with Publix and Oxbridge Academy students to hand out reusable grocery bags to Publix shoppers.  Spearheaded by Civic Association Director Brian McIver, the two day-long efforts resulted in the distribution of thousands of free reusable bags to Palm Beach residents.

In March, forty Civic Association directors and friends boarded a bus for a field trip to Florida Crystals, Inc.  Hosted by Civic Association Director Pepe Fanjul, the sensational event introduced Palm Beachers to the extensive world of farming in Central Florida that impacts the nation and the world.

This season, the Civic Association provided directors as keynote speakers for a leadership series sponsored by the police and fire-rescue departments.  Civic Association Chairman and CEO Bob Wright and executive committee member George Cohon shared stories of their successful careers and the important leadership lessons learned along the way.

The Civic Association hosted a luncheon series at Cafe L’Europe where former United States ambassadors, many of whom are Civic Association directors, shared their experiences and reflected on the state of the world today.  Featured guests included Ambassador to France, Howard Leach; Ambassador to France and the Czech Republic, Craig Stapleton; Ambassador to Denmark, Stuart Bernstein; Ambassador to Finland, Bonnie McElveen-Hunter; Ambassador to Hungary, Nancy Brinker; and Eric Javits, Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague.

In addition to our weekly email newsletter, “This Week in Palm Beach,” our Communications Director Mike Brown launched a successful video news feature in which the Civic Association now also reports Palm Beach news in a video format each week.

I want to thank the Civic Association staff—Vice President Mary Robosson, Membership and Events Manager Allison Tardonia, Communications Director Mike Brown, and Office Manager Cathy Coleman.  They are a capable, highly skilled, dedicated, enthusiastic team that serves our organization exceptionally well.  We are fortunate to have them.

I also want to thank our chairman and CEO Bob Wright, our Treasurer Pat Cooper, our executive committee, and all our many Civic Association directors, members, and friends.  Palm Beach is privileged to have such an active, highly energized organization like ours where so many residents roll up their sleeves and get involved in their community.

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