Port of Palm Beach to conduct massive security training exercises Monday

The Port of Palm Beach plans to conduct Operation Guardian on Monday.

If you’re driving by the Port of Palm Beach in Riviera Beach on Monday and notice a lot of commotion, such as protesters,  hundreds of law enforcement personnel, and maybe even what appears to be a bus being hijacked, fear not.

It’s only an exercise.  South Florida’s Regional Domestic Security Task Force Operation Guardian plans to conduct a full day of training, safety and security exercises at the port from 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The Maritime Transportation Security Act requires every seaport to conduct full-scale security exercises every 18 months and drills once every 90 days.

By conducting Operation Guardian, the port strengthens its resolve in upholding its mission to prevent, deter, respond and recover from acts of terror or aggression, while giving law enforcement the opportunity for complex and rigorous missions, port officials said.

The eight agencies participating are the Department of Homeland Security, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Riviera Beach Police Department, West Palm Beach Police Department, Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Lauderdale Police Department, Miami-Dade Police Department and Miami Police Department.

“Operation Guardian is a splendid example of eight agencies working alongside each other to enhance the security of our port,” said Manuel Almira, the port’s executive director. “These exercises will reflect the best possible training effort to secure our port facilities.”

In addition to law enforcement personnel, 120 actors will be on-site to assist in executing the various scenarios. The agencies will conduct hostage situations and active shooter sequences in the Maritime Office Building.

Actors depicting a protest will be staged in front of the Maritime Office Complex along the cruise terminal entrance.  Additional training scenes, such as an assault on a vessel and a hijacking of a city bus, are also planned.

Port Commissioner Katherine Waldron has volunteered to pose as a hostage during one of the assault exercises in the Marine Office Building.

The primary staging area for specialty vehicles will be the Jim Barry Light Harbor Park, 1800 Broadway, Riviera Beach. Aircraft and boats are also expected.

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s ship, Grand celebration, will not be docked at the port during the exercises on Monday.


New restaurant slated to open at Riviera Beach Marina Village this fall

Riviera Beach Marina Village
Riviera Beach Marina Village

Rafiki Tiki, a restaurant to be owned and operated by a longtime Riviera Beach business owner, is slated to open this fall at the Riviera Beach Marina Event Center.

The cafe will offer both indoor and outdoor dining near the Intracoastal Waterway and will be the first tenant for the event center at Riviera Beach Marina Village, 190 E. 13th Street.

The Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency announced the signing Monday. Last Wednesday night the CRA Board of Commissioners approved a lease for Rafiki Tiki  with owner Demetri Salloum.

Solloum  operates a sizeable catering business in Riviera Beach, and is the owner of the Citgo gas station on Blue Heron Boulevard.

“It has been our goal from the beginning of this project to provide opportunities for Riviera Beach residents and business owners, and we welcome Mr. Solloum to Marina Village with great enthusiasm,” said Tony Brown, Executive Director of the Riviera Beach CRA.  “We have created a spectacular waterfront destination, and this new establishment will give visitors one more reason to come by and see what we’ve accomplished.”

The operation will include 1,047 square feet of interior space and 1,591 square feet of patio space. Plans call for the  café to be open morning through evening seven days a week. It will feature  a relaxed vacation-like atmosphere with cool colors, fresh flowers, live music and tropical drinks.  The menu will be inspired by Mediterranean and South Florida influences with a wide variety of international and vegetarian options.

“I’ve been in business in Riviera Beach for more than 25 years, and I can clearly see what this new vision for the Riviera Beach Marina Village will do for this city,” Solloum said.

The first phase of Riviera Beach Marina Village was recently completed with a public investment of $35 million. Highlights include the two-story Marina Event Center and a re-imagined Bicentennial Park.  Future plans include a waterfront restaurant row, shops and a permanent year-round Public Market.  You can find out more by visiting www.rbcra.com or by calling 561-844-3408.

84 Lumber to open new concept store in Riviera Beach today

84 Lumber opens new concept store, plans to hire more people
84 Lumber opens new concept store, plans to hire more people

Building materials and service supplier 84 Lumber is holding a ribbon cutting at 5 p.m. today for its new concept store opening at 5 Cheney Way,  Riviera Beach.

The privately-held company has more than 11 stores throughout Florida, but this will be the company’s one and only concept store and showroom.

“This store, design studio and millwork shop represents 84’s continued expansion, providing more jobs int he community and creating inspiration for remodelers, designers, builders and homeowners alike. Our grand opening festivities are about celebrating the community’s economic growth and providing better service and access to our customers in the state,” said Maggie Hardy Magerko, president and owner of 84 Lumber Co.

The store employs 29 associates and plans to double that within the next 12 to 18 months. Positions include sales, management, manufacturing design, machinery operators and drivers. It’s now a retail and manufacturing facility.

84 Lumber invested $8 million to renovate and overhaul the 77,850-square-foot facility.

84 Lumber, headquartered in Eighty Four, Pa,  operates more than 250 stores, component manufacturing plants, custom door shops, custom millwork shops, and engineered wood product  centers in 30 states, representing the top 130 markets in the country.




Port of PB to tell Army Corps not to seek funds for deepening project

A ship loaded with steel rebar comes into the Port of Palm Beach last year.
A ship loaded with steel rebar comes into the Port of Palm Beach last year.

A proposed $88.6 million dredging and expansion project at the Port of Palm Beach’s harbor is off the table for now, but a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chief’s Report  stating that the improvements are needed will remain open until 2021.

Thursday the Port of Palm Beach Commission voted to accept executive director Manuel Almira’s recommendation that the port notify the Corps  it does not want to pursue the Lake Worth Inlet navigational improvement project that would have widened two channels and  deepened the inlet to 39 feet.

Almira said this past week the port received a request for the Army Corps asking if the Corps should include the project in its 2017 funding request to Congress.

The port’s tenants have all said they do not need a deeper inlet, as long as the inlet can be maintained at a 33-foot depth, Almira said.

The expansion has been widely opposed by residents of Palm Beach, Riviera Beach, Palm Beach Shores  and environmental and marine groups who  it would change the face of the area and could harm fishermen, divers, boaters, manatees and sea grasses.

In 2014, the Palm Beach Civic Association formed the Save Our Inlet Coalition to oppose the plans. The coalition said the Corps’ environmental impact statement was seriously flawed.

Thursday, Lisa Interlandi, an attorney with the Everglades Law Center who represents the Save Our Inlet Coalition, The Sierra Club, Florida Wildlife Federation, and the Center for Biological Diversity told the commission, “I’m glad to hear there is not support for the larger project.”

However, Interlandi said she would like for port officials to completely abandon the project. It’s difficult  to move forward with the chief’s report still open, placing the project on standby, she said.

Interlandi pointed to a recent study by the National Marine Fisheries Service which found dredging at the Port of Miami severely damaged reefs.

Commission Chairman Wayne Richards said that when the corps presented the project, it was made clear the port could pick and choose what needed to be done, and it has several areas of significant concern.

“We just had a major maintenance dredge project here that was very successful,” Richards said.

While the port has turned away vessels recently that were too large,  it’s an urban port surrounded by municipalities which have grown up around it, Richards said.

“How do you co-exist harmoniously?” Richards asked. “An $88 million project does not make sense and never made sense to us.”

“This is a significant step on behalf of the Port of Palm Beach to work with our neighbors and greater marine community,” Richards said.

A major  reason for the proposed expansion has been the  safety of ships while attempting to maneuver where the 400-foot-wide channel  narrows to 300 feet.

Richard Pinsky, a consultant and lobbyist hired by the port, said he is confident that funds will be available to keep navigation safe, but that a conversation with the harbor pilots needs to take place.





Richrds said, “This is a significant step on ehalf of the port ofPalm Beach to work with our neighbors and greater marine community

Port of Palm Beach to share $1.9 million security grant


Port of Palm Beach. Provided.

The Port of Palm Beach is sharing a $1.9 million U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and the Riviera Beach Police Department.

The Riviera Beach port is alloting $1.3 million to the two law enforcement agencies. The remainder of the grant from the Seaport Cyber Infrastructure Protection Program will be used by the port and its tenants.

PBSO and RBPD will use the funding to enhance their Situational Awareness Platform and monitor the seaport’s cameras, inlet cameras, sonars, coastal radar and other sensor and data feeds.

Since 2007 the port has provided PBSO with more than $3.5 million in security grant funding, and RBPD with $1.1 million since 2011.

The port commission approved the interlocal agreement and funding on Feb. 18.