1,400 bikes for kids in need

“Jack the Bike Man” Day, 2015

If it’s anything like last year, they’ll start lining up at 5 a.m. Sunday, even though doors don’t open until 9.

It’s that time of the year, when “Jack the Bike Man” Hairston and his 150 volunteers give out free bicycles to those in need — nearly 1,400 bikes this year.

It’s not a public event, so don’t rush down to the shop at 2406 Florida Ave. The bikes are pre-assigned to people recommended by churches and other nonprofits.

And the bikes go quickly because there are so many volunteers helping, many of them people who got bikes from  him when they were kids, Hairston says. “We can’t get rid of them,” he jokes.

The volunteers have an efficient system. They line kids up and give them a helmet, then help each child pick out a bike.

This is the event’s 19th year. It’s usually over by noon. If any bikes are left, the word goes out to the nonprofits to submit more names.

“Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus will be there” but they’re not arriving by bicycle. “They’re both kind of getting like me, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and all that stuff,” said Hairston, who is 75. “I don’t know how many more years we’re going to be there.”


“Jack the Bike Man” Hairston, right, at last year’s bike giveaway.

He and John Glenn were this close

Gene Stephens shows off photo of a younger Gene Stephens with astronaut-to-be John Glenn.

The recent death of astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn brought back memories for West Palm Beach resident Gene Stephens.

Back in the early 1960’s, Stephens worked for NASA contractor Pan Am, at a missile tracking station on Eleuthera, The Bahamas. The assignment was so secret, he still won’t talk about it, more than 55 years later.

What he will say is that he met all seven original U.S. astronauts, including Glenn, in 1961, before Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.

The astronauts used to fly 350 miles on private jets from Cape Canaveral to The Bahamas to chill out for a day. The tropical paradise, now a big stop for tourists, was pretty quiet back then.

There was a bar, but Glenn didn’t drink, he says. The two struck up a conversation one day on the way to the mess hall. They had something in common: Glenn was born in the Cambridge, Ohio, just down the road from the Pleasant City farm where Stephens grew up.

He got Glenn to pose for a photo with him, and to sign it. A copy of the photo was donated to the John and Annie Glenn Historic Site and Exploration Center in New Concord, Ohio.

Nowadays Stephens lives in the Cresthaven East community in West Palm Beach but he looks back fondly on the first seven, who he says were just regular guys in old clothes. “They were just ordinary guys,” he says. “You wouldn’t even think they were astronauts.”

glenn1 glenn2


Clematis Street to close at railroad crossing for Brightline work

An upcoming downtown road closure could snarl vehicle traffic for commuters and foot traffic for the hundreds who visit Clematis Street each weekend for entertainment.

Clematis will close at the Florida East Coast Railway crossing from 7 a.m. Dec. 14 to 6 p.m. Dec. 18 as All Aboard Florida crews perform work to get ready for the introduction of the company’s Brightline passenger-rail service.

A freight train passes the All Aboard Florida's Brightline station, which is under construction in downtown West Palm Beach. The passenger rail service will connect West Palm Beach with Miami and Orlando. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
A freight train passes the All Aboard Florida’s Brightline station, which is under construction in downtown West Palm Beach. The passenger rail service will connect West Palm Beach with Miami and Orlando. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

» RELATED: More road closures to know about in downtown West Palm

It’s the most recent crossing closure in Palm Beach County as All Aboard crews have worked along the FEC corridor for the past year preparing for the new rail line’s launch, slated for 2017.

Get the latest news on All Aboard Florida’s Brightline rail service.



Ballpark of the Palm Beaches four-game tix on sale Monday




Game on.

Four-game “Flex plan” ticket sets go on sale Monday for spring training games at the new Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, at www.BallparkPalmBeaches.com/tickets. Single-game tickets will go on sale Jan. 14. The stadium is at 5444 N. Haverhill Road, just south of 45th Street.

Here’s the announcement:

For the Flex plan seats, buyers can purchase one Marquee game and their choice of any three Prime or Regular games during the 2017 Spring Training season.
The 2017 season is highlighted by visits from the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox for a total of four games.  The Red Sox will visit on consecutive days, against the Astros on Monday, March 6 and the Nationals on Tuesday, March 7.  The Yankees will take on the Astros on Sunday, March 19, while the Nationals play host to the Bronx Bombers on Monday, March 20.
In addition to the Red Sox and Yankees games having Marquee status, other top-tier games include Opening Day on Feb. 28, when the Nationals host the Astros. The remaining Marquee schedule dates include: Saturday, March 4, Mets vs. Astros; Monday, March 20, Cardinals vs. Astros; Friday, March 24, Cardinals vs. Nationals.
Fans will receive a $2 discount on each Flex Pack ticket for the four games chosen. Best available seating will be automatically provided with each purchase.
Single-game ticket purchases will be available beginning Jan. 14 in-person, online and over the phone. Prices for single-game tickets range from $15 for a lawn spot in the outfield to $65 Marquee seating behind home plate.Due to the continuing construction and subsequent jobsite restrictions, single-game tickets will be available for purchase at an offsite location to be announced before the holidays.

Fans interested in Season Plans, Suites and Party Decks, or those wishing to receive additional Spring Training ticket information may call The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches office at 844-676-2017, or visit www.BallparkPalmBeaches.com for more information regarding the Astros and the Nationals new Spring Training home.

Season ticket packages for 31 home games, as well as Nationals 16-game season and Astros 15-game season, are on sale now by calling 844-676-2017.

Road closures in West Palm Beach you should know about

The city of West Palm Beach just released a new list of road closures you should know about. Below is the list to help you plan your commute for the coming week:

• Lake Avenue from Summit Boulevard to Bradley Street is closed until Feb. 10 as the city replaces the drainage system. This may change from week to week based on construction activity.

• Parker Avenue at Park Place will be partially closed until Jan. 13 as the city performs utility installation work.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

• Flagler Drive at Southern Boulevard will be partially closed until Feb. 14 as the city performs utility installation work.

• Dixie Highway at Fern Street will be closed and Fern Street itself will be partially closed from Dec. 12-15 as crews dismantle a crane at The Alexander worksite.

• Flagler Drive at the Flagler Memorial Bridge will closed from Dec. 16-19 for work related to the bridge replacement.

• Miramar Way will be closed from Olive Avenue to Washington Road from now through Jan. 31 for utilities installation.

• Partial closures for work related to All Aboard Florida’s Brightline passenger-rail service: Third Street at Quadrille Boulevard from now through Dec. 11; Clematis Street at Quadrille from Dec. 14-18; Banyan Boulevard at Quadrille from Dec. 19-23.

• Rosemary Avenue at the Palm Beach County Convention Center will be partially closed — with the end date to be determined — as crews replace the roof on the CityPlace South Tower.

• Florida Avenue will be closed at Rosemary Avenue until Dec. 20 for work at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. This may change from week to week based on construction activity.




Bike the Grassy Waters Preserve this Sunday


This word from the Grassy Waters Preserve:

Hop on your bike and enjoy an easy paced ride through the Northern Everglades on this educational group trail ride Sunday, Dec. 11. Along the way you’ll discover the unique history and ecology of this important hammock forest habitat.

Bring bike, helmet, water, and sunscreen for the ride, which goes from 10-11:30 a.m. on the Hog Hammock Trail, 8537 Northlake Blvd.

Ages 8 and over are invited. The fee is $5 for adults, $2 per child.




5-tower Prospect Place project up for city approval today


A big turnout is expected at City Hall today to oppose the Prospect Place project, a five-tower condo complex planned for 3111 S. Dixie Highway, a quarter-mile south of Belvedere Road.

The 14-story towers are proposed to replace a mostly vacant, one- and two-story office complex. In addition to the 300 condos, plans call for six one-story retail buildings lining South Dixie in front of the towers.

What’s before the city commission, which meets at 5 p.m., is a requested zoning change to allow residential use of the 9.3-acre site.

City officials say that even without the approval, the property owner, 311 Prospect Place Equities LLC, could build a project of similar density or intensity. But many residents, including members of nonprofit Citizens for Thoughtful Growth, say the project would tower over the houses in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Honda classic exec to produce revived Palm Beach Marathon


The Marathon of  the Palm Beaches will return in December 2017 under new management with a familiar name as its leader.

Honda Classic Executive Director Kenneth R. Kennerly has formed K2 Sports Ventures, an event and consulting firm that bought the marathon and associated races from the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches.

The chamber took over what was the Eau Palm Beach Marathon and Run Fest after Life Time Fitness said this summer it would no longer operate the races.  At times during its 12-year run, the event drew as many as 7,000 participants. Last year, it was down to 3,700.

The 2017 event, renamed Palm Beaches Marathon, will include a half-marathon and 5k races, to take place Dec. 1-3.

Kennerly, who will continue to run the Honda, has partnered with sports event veteran John Matthews of Sunshine State Races to produce the running events.

Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.--01/22/10-- Ken Kennerly, Honda Classic Staff, PGA National, The Champions Course.--(Photo by Tracy Wilcox/GOLFWEEK)
Kenneth Kennerly (Golfweek)

West Palm in push for Tri-state hedge funds


They might as well have had the meeting on the dock. The water was sparkling, the sun, shining, the mega-yachts, rocking gently in the breeze. If you wanted to make an impression….

The city and Business Development Board launched a campaign Friday to brand a large swath of downtown as The Flagler Financial District, a bid to lure hedge funds and other financial firms from the chilly Northeast. Along with the geographic designation comes a new website, flaglerfinancialdistrict.com/, boasting of the city’s amenities and an ad campaign set to hit Tri-state trade publications from December through April.

At a meeting at noon in the Lake Pavilion — as close as you can have a waterfront gathering and have air conditioning — Mayor Jeri Muoio was joined by Russell Marcus, chief of business and economic incentives for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity; Emily Clifford, chair of the county Business Development Board’s Financial Services Task Force; and Chris Roog, the mayor’s director of economic development.

The district lines stretch from the middle bridge to just north of the north bridge, from Rosemary Avenue on the west to the waterfront.

More details coming in tomorrow’s Palm Beach Post.

Cougars get new home at Palm Beach Zoo


New exhibits at The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society Florida’s wetlands section include the John and Carole Moran ‘Panther Prowl,’ home to cougar Micco and a rescued Florida female panther Sassafras.

Sassy, rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in Collier-Seminole State Park, was in the temporary care of Naples Zoo before arriving in West Palm Beach.  It is believed the orphan’s mother was hit and killed by a vehicle on U.S. 41 in October 2015.


Mardi, the zoo’s resident white alligator, also received a new spacious home with stunning underwater views. The bald eagle exhibit, the roseate spoonbill, and the ibis exhibits were also upgraded.