Palm Beach County McDonald’s offering even bigger Big Mac

Palm Beach County and Treasure Coast area McDonald’s restaurants are among the first in the nation to offer the chain’s latest creations — larger and smaller versions of the Big Mac.big-mac-event-graphic-final

Starting this week, local McDonald’s franchises will be offering the Grand Mac and Mac Jr.  The two new items will be available for a limited time on McDonald’s Florida menu in advance of a national rollout in early 2017, the company said.

The two are twists on the original Big Mac which boasts two 100 percent all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions on a sesame seed bun. 062112 OPENLATE 3

The Grand Mac is made with two 100 percent pure beef patties for a total of one-third pound with two slices of  American cheese and special sauce served on a larger sesame seed bun with lettuce, onions and pickles.

The Mac Jr. is a single-layer Big Mac that’s easier to eat on the go.

“The Big Mac is a legend and a great-tasting burger with hints of pickle relish, mustard, garlic and onions,” said McDonald’s Chef Mike Haracz. “We listened to our customers who told us they wanted different ways to enjoy the one-of-a-kind Big Mac taste.  The classic combination of ingredients remains timeless and customers around the world continue to enjoy its signature taste.”

 

Martin County businesses hurt by algae outbreak can apply for disaster loans

Martin County officials are encouraging businesses impacted by the algae outbreak that turned some Treasure Coast waterways a blue-green this summer to apply for state and federal disaster assistance.

Water full of algae laps along the Sewell's Point shore on the St. Lucie River under an Ocean Boulevard bridge on June 27, 2016.  (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Water full of algae laps along the Sewell’s Point shore on the St. Lucie River under an Ocean Boulevard bridge on June 27, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

U.S. Small Business Administration has set up a “Business Recovery Center” at Martin County Fairgrounds. Since  opening on July 13, 40 local businesses have visited the center to get information on disaster loan assistance, the county said.

The Center is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday thru Friday, and will operate until further notice, the county said.

Small businesses and nonprofits can borrow up to $2 million, with interest rates of 2.625 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 4 percent for small businesses, according to Martin officials.

Applicants may apply online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela, the county said.

Martin County officials are also encouraging business owners to complete the state’s business damage assessment survey.

“The information provided in this survey will be shared among various state and local agencies to expedite implementation of appropriate disaster relief programs for businesses,” the county said in a news release. “This survey assists the State with determining if relief services for businesses should be activated.”

Here’s why blue-green algae is unlikely to get too far south on local beaches

Water full of algae laps along the Sewell's Point shore on the St. Lucie River under an Ocean Boulevard bridge on June 27, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Water full of algae laps along the Sewell’s Point shore on the St. Lucie River under an Ocean Boulevard bridge on June 27, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Although the algae was found blanketing Summa Beach Park on the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach last week, a top county environmental official said it is highly the

Water managers have said it appears the algae bloom was caused by nutrient-rich water in the C-51 drainage canal, which is used to dumped runoff from inland Palm Beach County into the Intracoastal.

Summa Beach Park is located just north of the C-51 canal.

PHOTOS: Algae spreading along Treasure Coast Beaches

Rob Robbins, head of Palm Beach County’s department of environmental resources management,  said in order for the bloom to reach the ocean, it would have to travel miles along the Intracoastal, and then be swept out through one of the inlets. That is not likely, he added.

“It is a long way from the C-51 to the nearest inlet,” Robbins said.

Meanwhile, ocean currents would prevent algae from Martin County from traveling south along the coastline, said Laurent Cherubin, a research professor at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce.

“Most of the plumes from the inlet tend to be moved north,” Cherubin said. “If it is pushed south, it is probably because of bad weather. Big swell create those along shore currents and that move everything south.”

Officials with Discover The Palm Beaches, the county’s tourism marketing arm, declined to comment on whether Martin County’s beach closures might impact tourism here.

Leigh Bennett, the business development director for Visit Palm Beach, the tourism company that runs the West Palm Beach visitor information center and also provides waterfront recreational activities in West Palm Beach and on Singer Island, said she has seen an uptick in the number of Treasure Coast residents traveling to Palm Beach County to  kayak, paddle board, snorkel and jet ski.

“As a business person, I am thankful that it is not affecting our business yet,” Bennett said. “We aren’t seeing it in the water. We aren’t having people frightened by it. It has not slowed down. If anything, we may even bet getting more traffic.”

Bennett said the company’s annual Fourth of July fireworks cruise has been sold out for months, but said there are some spaces available for several other holiday weekend tours and activities.

“We are pretty full,” Bennett said. “We are looking forward to a busy weekend.”

Robbins said popular snorkeling spots in the Intracoastal near Peanut Island have not been affected by the algae, adding that he doesn’t expect the bloom to travel that far.

“I would be surprise if we did see it all the way to Peanut Island,” Robbins said.

 

 

 

 

Martin County rodeo named one of the top tourism events in the Southeast

The Indiantown Rodeo ranks among the best events for tourists in the southeast part of the country, according to the Southeast Tourism Society.

Bull riding scenes such as this one will be a featured attraction at the Indiantown Rodeo.
Bull riding scenes such as this one will be a featured attraction at the Indiantown Rodeo.

The tourism group named the rodeo one of its Top 20 Events for 2016. The designation is designed to highlight the best tourism-related events in the Southeast.

“Having the Indiantown Rodeo recognized by STS as part of their highly respected Top 20 Event Program is a tremendous honor,” said Nerissa Okiye, Tourism and Marketing Manager for Martin County. “Indiantown is unique to our area and it is the diversity of our communities and events that make Martin County so special. The STS Top 20 Events program has highlighted events and festival around the southeast since 1985. Travel industry experts select only 20 events per month, from 12 states all competing for this prominent award.”

The rodeo, in its sixth decade, will take place Oct. 14-15. Tickets will be on sale starting Sept.1 . Visit http://www.indiantownchamber.com for more information.

 

“This rodeo continues to have a sold out crowd each year,” said Indiantown Chamber board member Hilary McKeich. “You will experience an array of rodeo related associates from steer wrestling to barrel racing and bull riders, cowboys, and team roping. This event is a huge economic driver to the small business community in Indiantown.”

 

 

 

Rail tie maker to open plant in Fort Pierce

Rocla Concrete Tie Inc., a Denver-based firm that supplies concrete ties to railroads, will open its new plant in Fort Pierce this week. 2_rails__de__chemin_de__fer1_

The plant will supply railroad ties to All Aboard Florida’s Brightline train service, Florida East Coast Railway, other transit agencies and railroads in the Southeast.

It is located along the Florida East Coast Railway’s main line in Fort Pierce.

A grand opening ceremony will be held at the facility on Wednesday.

Rocla announced it was building the new plant last year. At the time, company officials said the Brightline train service was pushing the need for the plant.

Brightline plans to run 32 trains a day between Miami and Orlando with stops in Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Service is expected to start in 2017.

“Rocla is excited to be part of this unique partnership between FECR and All Aboard Florida,” Vice President of Business Development, Brett Urquhart, said in a news release last year. “The immediate need for concrete ties by the All Aboard Florida passenger rail project helped justify this investment, which will allow us to be an ongoing supplier to any other capital projects of All Aboard Florida & FECR, as well as use the FECR network to reach other customers in the future.”

 

Bridge tender may be added to ease backups in Martin County

A bridge tender could be stationed at the St. Lucie River drawbridge in Martin County to help decrease boater backups caused by passing Florida East Coast Railway trains.

Image of Florida East Coast railroad bridge at mile 7.4 at Stuart on display at front of auditorium at Blake Library in Stuart Thursday evening, November 13, 2014, during an information gathering session hosted by the United Coast Guard.   (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)
Image of Florida East Coast railroad bridge at mile 7.4 at Stuart on display at front of auditorium at Blake Library in Stuart Thursday evening, November 13, 2014, during an information gathering session hosted by the United Coast Guard. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

In a letter to Martin County officials this month, the U.S. Coast Guard said manning a similar span in Fort Lauderdale has been sucessful. Coast Guard officials said they are working with the railroad “to implement similar procedures for the St. Lucie River Bridge.”

The letter came in response to a request by Martin County officials. In a three-page letter to the Coast Guard last month, Deputy County Engineer Terry Rauth  called on the Coast Guard to require a bridge tender at the drawbridge, pointing to the increased rail traffic that All Aboard Florida’s Brightline passenger train service could bring to the trestle.

Rauth also called on the Coast Guard to require that the bridge be locked down for no more than 30 minutes every hour. The county pointed to its 15-month study of vessel traffic at the bridge, which was released Thursday, saying it was critical that Coast Guard ensure the waterway remain open to boat traffic “no less than 30 minutes of every hour.”

In its letter, the Coast Guard said it was weighing the traffic data along with the county’s request for “minimum open times.”

All Aboard’s Brightline service plans to run 32 trains a day — 16 round trips — on the Florida East Coast Railway between Miami and Orlando. Service is expected to start in 2017.

Martin County: Tender needed at St. Lucie railroad bridge

Martin County officials on Thursday called on the U.S. Coast Guard to require a bridge tender at the Florida East Coast Railway drawbridge over the St. Lucie River, pointing to the increased rail traffic that All Aboard Florida’s Brightline passenger train service could bring to the trestle.

In a three-page letter to the Coast Guard, Deputy County Engineer Terry Rauth said it was critical an “onsite, constant bridge tender” is needed to monitor the nearly 80-year-old span.

Image of Florida East Coast railroad bridge at mile 7.4 at Stuart on display at front of auditorium at Blake Library in Stuart Thursday evening, November 13, 2014, during an information gathering session hosted by the United Coast Guard.   (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)
Image of Florida East Coast railroad bridge at mile 7.4 at Stuart on display at front of auditorium at Blake Library in Stuart Thursday evening, November 13, 2014, during an information gathering session hosted by the United Coast Guard. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

Rauth also called on the Coast Guard to require that the bridge be locked down for no more than 30 minutes every hour. The county pointed to its 15-month study of vessel traffic at the bridge, which was released Thursday, saying it was critical that Coast Guard ensure the waterway remain open to boat traffic “no less than 30 minutes of every hour.”

All Aboard’s Brightline service plans to run 32 trains a day — 16 round trips — on the Florida East Coast Railway between Miami and Orlando. Service is expected to start in 2017.

The letter comes as Coast Guard officials evaluate potential rules changes at the bridge. Martin officials have argued Brightline’s trains could make it more difficult for boaters to navigate by the drawbridge.

“The operating rules for the St. Lucie Bridge will be inextricably entwined with current and permitted future growth of traffic on the associated rail line,” Rauth wrote in the letter. “Projected increases in freight rail traffic, the proposed introduction of passenger rail traffic, accurate measures of current maritime activity and projections of future maritime activity are all key to ensuring the reasonable needs of navigation for the foreseeable future.”

Martin County’s analysis of boat traffic at the St. Lucie River railroad bridge, which was conducted by a private engineering firm, recorded 90,808 vessels passing under the span during the 15-month period from June 2014 through Sept. 2015.

An average of 209.7 boats per day crossed under the bridge, the study found.

The county said traffic counts at the bridge peaked between March and August, when more than 250 boats per day crossed under the span. Traffic on the weekend was also “significantly higher” than other days, the study found.

The St. Lucie River bridge is one of three, including the Loxahatchee River bridge and New River bridge in Fort Lauderdale, that All Aboard Florida has said will get upgrades to allow them to be raised and lowered more quickly.