2009 in Indian River County marked by Swine flu, DUI, Chihuahuas

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – The last five months have seen innumerable stories out of Indian River County that have run the gamut from the county’s first – and so far only – Swine flu death, community togetherness, school protests, abandoned Chihuahuas and a county leader who has vertigo and not DUI.

Looking back at these stories since VeroNews.com launched in mid-July, we can tell which articles and topics were of the most import. And we’d like to share those with you in our half-2009 Year in Review. Community’s help needed to fill care packages for Marines, posted Oct. 13

A family friend of the Tozzolos decides she wants to send a care package overseas to Marine Michael Tozzolo, and not only that, but send more than 40 boxes over there so the fellow men and women in his platoon can have comforts from home.

Now, Carolyn is on a mission to get donations to fill and ship 46 care packages in time for a Thanksgiving arrival.

“They really do need a lot of things,” Carolyn said, explaining that the Marines need foot powder, eye drops, water flavorings such as Crystal Light, along with sunscreen, lotion, gum, and other such essentials.

Along with sending items the Marines could use, Carolyn wants to send reminders from home and other comforts to remind the 44 men and two women in the platoon that they are appreciated.

“He’s all about the Gators,” his father, Wayne Tozzolo, said, adding that the care package they send to Marine Tozzolo will most likely have something Gator related in it.

“We’re trying to give these guys a feeling of home,” Wayne said.

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20 Chihuahuas – and pug – leave animal shelter for new homes, posted Oct. 28

For a couple weeks in late October, the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County was filled beyond capacity when a Chihuahua breeder relinquished custody of her 75 Chihuahuas and a pug.

With the generous support of the community, local veterinarians and PetSmart Charities, the Humane Society was able to find forever homes for nearly all the dogs in record time.

 READ the full story

 For more about the Chihuahuas and other news from animal groups, check out our Organizations – Animals Section. 

 

School board terminates contract with North County Imagine Schools, posted Aug. 11

A new charter school slated for Sebastian will not be opening as planned. Imagine Charter School at North Indian River County’s contract was terminated at the recommendation of Indian River County School District Superintendent Harry La Cava.

He told the school board that he felt his decision was fair, considering that the district had already given the school extra time to get its affairs in order.

Imagine Charter School Principal Joe Mills, who oversees the Imagine School at South Vero and would have led the Sebastian school, had asked the school board to consider granting the charter an extra year to address the zoning issues that had stopped the school from opening inside Community Baptist Church on Roseland Road.

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First County H1N1 flu death reported, posted Oct. 27

A 36-year-old male has become the first laboratory-confirmed H1N1 flu death in Indian River County, the county Health Department reported Tuesday.

According to the release, the man had underlying health conditions, which may have played a role in his reaction after coming in contact with the virus.

Over the summer and into the fall, the Indian River County Health Department has confirmed other cases of Swine flu, though none fatal. Other cases include four people at the Life for Youth Camp and two cases at the Boys and Girls Club in Sebastian.

Since the government released Swine flu vaccines, the county, too, has been announcing vaccination clinics.

READ about the first reported Swine flu death READ Boys & Girls Club notifies parents after 2 Swine flu casesREAD 4 cases of Swine flu found at Life for Youth CampFor more on this topic, check out our Health Section

 

Superintendant faces angry public over Obama education speech decision, posted Sept. 8

School Superintendent Harry La Cava drew the ire of many of the approximately 90 residents at the Indian River County School Board meeting Tuesday night for his decision to delay the showing of President Barack Obama’s national speech on education until it could be reviewed for content.

“Dr. La Cava, you have failed our students,” said the first of nine to address the school board and the superintendent. “You should be dismissed.”

The battle raged all day long as the School District decided not air President Obama’s speech inside classrooms. The next day, the School District allowed classes to air the taped speech. Parents were given the option to opt their children out.

READ the full story

 For more on the issue, check out our Education Section

 

County Administrator Joe Baird not guilty in DUI trial, posted Aug. 26

After a two-day trial and approximately two hours and 15 minutes of deliberation, the four-woman, two-man jury came back with a decision to acquit 52-year-old County Administrator Joe Baird of Driving Under the Influence on his way home from a Youth Guidance fundraiser.

“We’re obviously pleased,” said defense attorney Bobby Guttridge. “I think his reputation is still tarnished, but it definitely goes a long way.”

Guttridge added, “fortunately for Mr. Baird, he’s been vindicated” and that Baird wants to “get on with doing the business of the County.”

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Two moms in two towns get probation in deaths of their infants

This summer was marked with the deaths of two infants whose mothers accidentally left them locked in vehicles for too long. In both cases, the mothers received probation instead of jail time.

In Fellsmere

A Fellsmere mother who left her 20-month-old son in the back of her car as she ran errands this summer has received five years probation in the case, according to court records.

On Oct. 28, she entered a similar plea as that of Stephanie Salvilla-Werking, of Sebastian, who received the same sentence in court Friday.

Alejandra Alvarado had been charged with aggravated manslaughter and leaving a child unattended in a motor vehicle resulting in death.

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In Sebastian

The mother of a 5-month-old infant who died in the back of her SUV while she worked all day entered a plea deal today that gives her five years of probation instead of 30 years in prison.

Judge Robert Pegg accepted the plea deal between Stephanie Ann Salvilla-Werking’s attorney and the State Attorney’s Office. Werking has no right to ask for an early termination to her probation under the agreement.

“They understand this could happen to the best of parents,” Werking said of the legal teams outside the courtroom.

The plea deal means that Werking agreed to plea “no contest” to a charge of leaving a child unattended resulting in death and dismisses the charge of aggravated manslaughter.

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