It was an upbeat meeting of the Wellington Village Council on Tuesday, Feb. 23, as council members honored Palm Beach Central High School’s Justin Arnone for being named the Palm Beach County School District’s Assistant Principal of the Year, and also received a visit from local Cub Scouts with a special invitation.
This year was the first time that the school district chose an assistant principal to honor, and Arnone received this inaugural recognition last month.
Wellington’s Community Services Director Paulette Edwards introduced PBCHS Principal Darren Edgecomb. “I am always so glad to present these awards and highlight the partnerships we have with the schools in our village,” Edwards said.
Edgecomb thanked Wellington for the village’s continual support.
“We are grateful for the emphasis on education that the Village of Wellington provides,” he said. “Tonight, we want to honor Justin Arnone. I think I hit a homerun in hiring him. He is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, but he continues to grow, and he is one of the most innovative people I work with.”
Arnone oversees performance, fine arts and testing at the school, but his fingerprints are all over everything that happens at the school, Edgecomb explained. “I couldn’t be any prouder of him and of the team at Palm Beach Central,” he said.
Arnone thanked the council for the recognition but also stressed that it is all about the entire school team. “It’s not about me, it’s about the team that supports all the work we do,” he said.
While the council agreed with the team approach, the night was about Arnone.
“We are all so proud of our schools,” Councilman Michael Napoleone said. “We know they are great, and while you are part of the team, it’s good to be recognized individually for the hard work you’ve done.”
Councilman Michael Drahos thanked Arnone for the journey that is involved gaining experience and education in becoming an assistant principal. “The journey is really two full-time jobs, doing your job, and behind the scenes taking the courses to become an assistant principal,” he noted.
Councilman John McGovern was not at all surprised when he heard that Arnone had won the inaugural award. “I thought this was so appropriate for the work you do,” he said.
“This is a big county, to win an award in this county is even more impressive,” Mayor Anne Gerwig agreed.
Vice Mayor Tanya Siskind joined her colleagues in congratulating Arnone. “This village puts emphasis on education, and we appreciate the work you do,” she said. “Congratulations on this. It is a well-deserved award.”
The council also received a visit from Cub Scout Pack 125. The pack members visited to officially extend the invitation to the council to participate in their annual Pinewood Derby. The village’s Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office contingents also participate in the event, so representatives of each team took the opportunity for some good-natured, competitive ribbing.
The car-making kits have already been distributed, said Napoleone, who acts as the village’s pit crew chief. He said they are building a new car this year.
“This is what the rules require,” Gerwig interjected. “We plan to beat fire-rescue and the PBSO — but not the kids.”
She noted that the council looks forward to the annual race. “Thanks for including us within this competition,” Gerwig told the scouts. “We really appreciate the opportunity.”
In other business:
• Two public hearings were held regarding two more elements of Wellington’s Comprehensive Plan, which for months has been working its way through committees for review by the council. The required document will be submitted to the State of Florida for review, then brought back before the council for final approval.
The two portions reviewed at the meeting were the Housing Element, now expanded to the Housing & Neighborhoods Element, and the Infrastructure Element, which is now expanded and renamed the Public Facilities Element. The council had a short discussion with only a few clarifying questions, and no members of the public offering comment. The measures passed unanimously as presented.
• Village Attorney Laurie Cohen, who is also the president of the Wellington Historical Society, recused herself briefly while the council discussed and unanimously approved a co-sponsorship for that organization’s scavenger hunt planned for the end of March in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the village’s incorporation.
“I support this, and it was good that we built the promenade,” Gerwig said. “Not knowing anything about the pandemic at the time, but it gives an opportunity to attend such events without being clumped up, so people can social distance.”
• Social distancing was also on the mind of McGovern, who asked Village Manager Jim Barnes to reaffirm that the protocols agreed to for next weekend’s South Florida Garlic Fest would be followed. Barnes said that his staff and PBSO deputies would be on hand to ensure that it remains socially distanced and does not wind up a super-spreading event. “They will stay in front of the situation to ensure it is a safe event,” Barnes said.
• Cohen also alerted the council that a possible state law regarding vacation rentals could have an impact on the village’s municipal ordinance regarding them, and that she would continue monitoring the situation.