Transportation: Cleared for Takeout- Southeast- June 2003
The problem is called "runway incursion" -- incidents involving drivers, pedestrians or other airplanes that enter onto a runway without clearance. While officials say incidents at Fort Lauderdale Executive created only a low risk of collision, airport and Federal Aviation Administration officials agree the potential for catastrophe is always real.
At Fort Lauderdale Executive -- the nation's third-busiest general aviation facility with 240,000 takeoffs and landings a year -- pilots have seen everything from a pizza delivery driver to police cruisers to inexperienced pilots crossing paths with taxiing aircraft.
In April, a U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General's Office report ranked the facility second in the nation for runway incursions, with 34 such incidents between 1999 to 2002. Only North Las Vegas had more, with 35.
But airport officials say the recently released statistics do not reflect significant improvements made over the past two years. In fact, says assistant manager Mark Cervasio, if the last year were taken into account, Fort Lauderdale Executive's ranking would fall to seventh.
In the past 12 months the airport has experienced only six incursions, compared to 13 in the 12-month period before, Cervasio says.
The improvement is the result of a joint program with the FAA, which has conducted pilot education seminars and provided a $4-million grant to improve runway lighting and signs. A second grant worth $2.4 million will provide a new gate system and perimeter fencing. "We've been working really hard on this," Cervasio says. "We consider any number too high."
Dirk Van Onselder, who pilots large corporate jets for the Hop-A-Jet charter company at Fort Lauderdale Executive, has noticed improvements. But, he says, the combination of inexperienced weekend fliers and language barriers will continue to pose challenges for some pilots at Fort Lauderdale Executive. "You just have to be very vigilant," says Van Onselder. "You question everything."
IN THE NEWS
Boca Raton -- American Media Inc. will move its weekly celebrity gossip tabloid, the Star, to New York City. AMI Chairman David Pecker says the publication will be redesigned and relaunched as part of the move.
The Hellenic Society Paideia of South Florida has launched a fund-raising drive aimed at building a $2.5-million, 15,000-sq.-ft. Greek studies center at Florida Atlantic University modeled after a Greek temple.
A Florida Atlantic University inspector general's report has found "no reasonable basis" to continue an investigation into anonymous claims that board of trustees Chairman George Zoley, general counsel Ondina Felipe and business college dean Bruce Mallen misused university money on trips to France.
Broward County -- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has given preliminary approval for a $600-million natural gas pipeline between Broward County and Ocean Cay, Bahamas. The 90-mile pipeline is to be built by power company AES Corp.
Dania Beach -- A federal appeals court has ruled that the estate of slain Miami Subs founder and casino boat operator Gus Boulis must step aside as manager of SunCruz Casino. The half-day gambling cruise enterprise founded by Boulis is reorganizing in bankruptcy court. The court held that the estate could not act both as a creditor and manager of the business.
Delray Beach -- Office supply retailer Office Depot (NYSE-ODP) is negotiating to buy French office supplier Guilbert S.A. for $873 million.
Fort Lauderdale -- Marine Environmental Partners, a developer of shipboard water and wastewater treatment systems, is teaming up with Italy-based marine supplier ISIR to develop wastewater treatment systems to comply with environmental regulations.
The Salvation Army has opened an $8-million downtown facility that includes a 300-seat chapel, classrooms, gymnasium and playground.
The Securities and Exchange Commission charged three SunCoast Capital executives -- principals David A. Zwick and Todd J. Cohen and trader Terrence J. O'Donnell -- with civil securities fraud in connection with a kickback scheme that ensnared former New York Life Insurance Co. bond trader Anthony Shen, who pleaded guilty in 2001 to cheating the insurance company out of $4 million. The SEC is asking that all three give back any illegal profit they may have gained. They have denied wrongdoing.
Site clearing for a 360-unit condominium tower along the New River may be damaging priceless Tequesta Indian artifacts, Broward County archaeologist Christopher Eck says. Eck says he will seek a cease-and-desist order against the project's developer, Boca Raton-based Altman Cos., if executives do not take steps to survey and protect possible artifacts.
Hollywood -- County commissioners have called for further study of a controversial plan to build a 9,000-foot runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Nearby residents complain the runway will bring noise pollution and environmental problems.
Lauderdale Lakes -- Florida Memorial College officials are considering a site along State Road 7 for what would be the historically black college's first expansion into Broward County. The school's main campus in Miami-Dade County and four satellite campuses have 2,260 students.
Pompano Beach -- Federal prosecutors have accused a defunct defense contractor of supplying the military with faulty components used in Cobra and Blackhawk helicopters, machine guns, fighter jets and grenade launchers. A 92-count indictment names Nestor Daniel Lopez, owner of defunct manufacturer Damon Industries.
Port Everglades -- Broward County's 2,190-acre port will undergo $37 million in security enhancements over the next 12 months. Improvements will include waterside gates, video motion detectors and a closed-circuit television system.
Plans to allow a third gambling ship to pick up passengers at Port Everglades have drawn complaints from some county commissioners and operators of the port's two other gambling cruiser operators over the no-bid, short-term deal negotiated by operators of the 435-foot St. Tropez.
West Palm Beach -- A nonprofit corporation formed in 1990 to boost downtown development by making grants and loans to businesses suffers from poor financial management and should be disbanded, a city auditor has concluded. Among other problems, the audit found that the City Center Partnership, created by the Downtown Development Authority, co-mingled funds and failed to return loan proceeds to the city on time, forfeiting more than $18,000 in unearned interest.
Newly elected Mayor Lois Frankel has hired former Mayor Nancy Graham as executive director of the Downtown Development Authority. Graham helped revive Clematis Street and create CityPlace.
Weston -- Miami-based Kos Pharmaceuticals, the maker of a cholesterol-reducing drug, will relocate 150 employees to a 50,000-sq.-ft. site in Weston.
WAL-MARK GETS GO-AHEAD
PEMBROKE PINES -- Plans for a Wal-Mart Supercenter survived objections from nearby residents, with the company agreeing to city commissioners' request for the retailer to build an 8-foot-high wall along the store's boundary with the adjoining SilverLakes development.
WHERE THE WORKERS ARE
Indian River County's economy is based primarily on tourism, light industry and agriculture. Services and retail trade account for more than half of the county's employment.
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY EMPLOYMENT
IndustryEmployees??% of Total EmploymentAvg. Annual WageServices12,11832.21$23,569Retail trade??8,56822.78$15,285Public administration??4,71612.54$30,505Agri., forestry, fishing??3,79510.09$18,098Construction??2,673??7.11$22,638Manufacturing??2,235??5.94$29,739Finance, insur., real estate??1,726?4.59$35,599Wholesale trade????999?2.66$51,354Transpor., comm., utilities????684?1.82$24,540Source: Indian River County Chamber of Commerce