Category Archives: Feature Stories

Wellington The Magazine, LLC Featured Articles

Law & Justice Attorneys Michael Pike & Daniel Lustig, Pike & Lustig LLP

Law & Justice
Attorneys Michael Pike & Daniel Lustig, Pike & Lustig LLP

The law firm of Pike & Lustig LLP includes partners Michael Pike, Daniel Lustig and Talina Bidwell. The practice focuses on legal matters associated with business litigation and personal injury litigation. Wellington The Magazine interviewed Managing Partner Michael Pike.

 

How long has your firm been doing business in Palm Beach County?

I have been in practice for more than 16 years in Palm Beach County and the tri-county area. I was born and raised in Miami and decided that we would open up a law firm here in Palm Beach County after practicing here for several years. I always wanted to move to Wellington and raise a family, and that is what we did.

 

What type of cases do you generally handle?

We handle complex business litigation cases, corporate disputes, business acquisitions and personal injury. My firm has two separate departments that handle business litigation and personal injury, which includes catastrophic auto accidents, trucking accidents, slip and falls, and sexual assault and battery.

 

What percentage of your practice is devoted to each type of law?

It is about 60/40 with 60 percent business litigation and corporate disputes, and 40 percent personal injury.

 

How many cases has your firm represented in this field of the law?

Hundreds upon hundreds. Over the course of my career, many, many more. We have represented more clients than I can count.

 

What special training or knowledge does your team have that sets your firm apart from other law firms?

In particular, I have a background in complex business litigation and personal injury in both state and federal courts. My partner, Daniel Lustig, has a background in business litigation, personal injury and intellectual property. In fact, he has an LLM in intellectual property, which is a legal master’s degree in intellectual property. My other partner, Talina Bidwell, has a sophisticated background in business litigation and financial litigation.

We also have a team of six to seven lawyers and a full support staff that handle all client needs. We handle complex partner disputes, physician practice disputes, physician partner disputes and several shareholder disputes in any given year. We try several cases per year in front of juries in both state and federal courts, arbitration proceedings, bench trials and evidentiary hearings in connection with all of our practice areas.

Recently, we obtained a federal jury verdict in excess of $2.5 million for a willful copyright infringement case. We also succeeded at trial in piercing a homestead exemption in Florida where a debtor attempted to fraudulently shelter assets in his alleged homestead without ever residing at the residence and in Florida. And, in connection with that case, we were just affirmed on appeal by the Fourth District Court of Appeal, here in Palm Beach County. We draft all of our appeals and have argued in front of the Fourth District Court of Appeal.

We have also obtained several personal injury results for clients injured in the State of Florida. We also have an office in Miami, off of Brickell Avenue, where we cater to our clients’ needs in Miami-Dade County.

 

What are some of the things to consider when hiring an attorney?

First, people should always consider the true number of trials the lawyer has been involved in, the types of cases the lawyer specializes in, and the academic and professional experience a lawyer has based upon his or her past employment.

Many lawyers claim to be “trial lawyers” but hardly try more than one case per year. To me, I don’t believe that is a fair characterization of a true trial lawyer. How can you sharpen your skills if you are only trying one case per year? At our firm, we try several cases per year, which include matters in both state and federal court.

 

What awards and recognitions has your firm received?

I have received numerous accolades and awards including “Top Up and Comer” by the South Florida Legal Guide; “Up & Comers” by the South Florida Business Journal; “Legal Elite” by Florida Trend Magazine; a “Rising Star” and “Super Lawyers” by Super Lawyers magazine; and a “Person on the Move” numerous times by both the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Palm Beach Post. I am on the board of directors of the Hanley Foundation, active within the community and involved with numerous organizations.

My partner, Daniel Lustig, is the president of the board of directors of Families First of Palm Beach County, a member of the board of directors of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and served as a member of the board of directors of Networking Hispanos. He was named to the list of Top 40 Under 40 for Attorneys in South Florida and was recognized as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers magazine.

My other partner, Talina Bidwell, has been named numerous times as a “Rising Star” and as one of the “Florida Super Lawyers” by Law and Politics magazine. She was also recognized numerous times as a “Top Up & Comer” by the South Florida Legal Guide.

 

To contact Pike & Lustig LLP, call (561) 291-8298 or visit www.bigfirmalternative.com.

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Law & Justice Attorney Marcelo Montesinos, The Law Office Of Marcelo Montesinos

Law & Justice Attorney Marcelo Montesinos, The Law Office Of Marcelo Montesinos

Attorney Marcelo Montesinos was raised in Wellington and currently lives in the community. He is a graduate of the Seton Hall University School of Law in New Jersey. Montesinos always loved South Florida and moved back after earning his degree to be near family and friends.

Building a life here, Montesinos is raising his family and growing his legal practice in the community. He said that success is measured in many ways, but nothing is greater than giving back to your community. To that end, he supports the community in various ways, including donating school supplies and backpacks to students each school year.

Transitioning from criminal defense to personal injury cases 17 years ago, Montesinos feels he is still “standing up for the little guy.” As a defense attorney, he was fighting for the rights of his clients, and now he battles large insurance companies that do not want to give an injured individual a fair settlement.

His firm provides individual representation to people who need help, seeking for them the best possible compensation for their injuries. His office handles many areas of personal injury law, but trucking and automobile accidents always stay at the forefront of his focus.

Wellington The Magazine interviewed Montesinos regarding his background, law firm and legal practice.

 

How long has your firm been doing business in Palm Beach County?

In 1997, I became an attorney and worked for the Public Defender’s Office in Palm Beach County. I was fortunate to open the doors to my private practice in 2001. For the past 17 years, I have been fighting for the rights of victims.

 

Why did you choose Palm Beach County to establish your practice?

Palm Beach County has always been my home. I moved here when I was less than one year old, so I think of myself as a Wellington native. My parents and my sister are here, my kids and my family. I went to law school in New Jersey and was blessed enough to find a job here after graduating.

 

What type of cases do you generally handle? What percentage of your practice is devoted to this type of law?

My firm handles 100 percent plaintiff’s personal injury cases. I only represent victims who have suffered damages and injuries caused by another person’s negligence.

 

How many cases has your firm represented in this field of law?

Over the past 17 years, I have successfully represented thousands of victims injured by the negligence of others.

What sets your firm apart from other law firms in the area?

My office staff and I strive to provide continuous individualized attention to my clients. When I represent you, you become family and not just a number in my system. I work as an advocate for my clients and have compassion for each person throughout the entire claims procedure.

I know every person wants to be treated as the most important case, so that’s how I treat them. They want to talk, to connect with the attorney, not a legal assistant, anytime that they have a question. I make sure I clear up any questions, so my clients always feel they remain connected to their attorney.

I provide individualized service for each client. I act as an advocate for them. I don’t take every case that comes along. I don’t want to give them a false illusion that they are going to prevail. Sometimes it is not practical to expect a case will be successful.

 

What are some of the things to consider when hiring an attorney?

Before hiring an attorney, make sure to meet with that attorney in person. Pay attention to the small details. For example: Can you speak with the attorney directly? Did you have to leave a voicemail and wait for a call back in order to obtain your initial consultation? Was the office staff helpful?

Beyond these questions and considerations, ask the attorney if they are prepared to go to trial or are they prepared to settle the case? Does the attorney have a background of trials under his or her belt?

 

Is there a fee if there is no recovery?

My office never charges a fee if there is not a settlement. If there is no insurance coverage to compensate you for your damages, my office will assist with resolving property damage claims as well as resolving your medical bills for free.

 

How has your firm given back to the community?

Each year I host a back-to-school event at my office where I donate at least 1,000 backpacks and school supplies to local school-aged children. I personally hand out each backpack and meet every family that attends. Additionally, I sponsor several youth sports teams.

To contact the Law Office of Marcelo Montesinos, call (561) 721-1600 or visit www.montesinoslaw.com.

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Attorney Alec Domb, The Law Offices Of Alexander L. Domb

Attorney Alec Domb,
The Law Offices Of Alexander L. Domb

Wellington attorney Alec Domb of the Law Offices of Alexander L. Domb P.A. was born and raised in New York. He attended the University of Miami and earned his law degree from the Nova Southeastern Law Center. Domb later chose Wellington for his business, his home and his arena for community participation. A practicing attorney since 1986, his primary focus is on commercial litigation and contested matters, real estate transactions, estate planning and guardianship, and the disputes that arise from these areas.

Managing guardianship proceedings means protecting people’s liberties, especially in adult situations, when such cases involve verification that the person petitioning to be a guardian is qualified and that it would be in the best interests of the person for the petitioner to actually be the guardian.

With a background as a legal practitioner and through his title company, Domb has been involved in the real estate business for more than three decades. When it comes to real estate transactions, there is not a title problem that he hasn’t seen, worked through and fixed during his tenure.

Domb offers this advice to residents, reminding them of the importance of having these four completed documents that every adult in Florida should have: a will, a living will, a durable power of attorney, and a healthcare surrogate designation that covers HIPAA concerns. These documents are especially important as people get older.

Wellington The Magazine interviewed Domb regarding his legal background and practice.

 

How long has your firm been doing business in Palm Beach County?

I relocated from Broward County in 2005. However, my firm was the HUD closing agent for Palm Beach over 25 years ago. I have been practicing law for more than 32 years.

 

Why did you choose Palm Beach County to establish your practice?

I chose to live in Wellington around 2003, and eventually transferred my business here 13 years ago. I love Wellington, and moving here is the best move my wife, Melody, who is a nurse, and I ever made. The village has so much to offer socially. I enjoy the Wellington community, the horse shows and polo. The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center and the dressage arena make Wellington a unique place among communities. It is not your average South Florida bedroom community.

 

What type of cases do you generally handle? What percentage of your practice is devoted to this type of law?

I deal primarily in the area of real estate, including related litigation, title insurance and title disputes, as well as zoning and code enforcement matters. I handle foreclosure cases for the lender. I am presently prosecuting a $36 million foreclosure matter regarding a property in the Town of Palm Beach.

I handle commercial litigation, contested matters, real estate transactions and estate planning; all litigation fights and the disputes that arise from that. I also participate in court-appointed guardianship matters as attorney for alleged incapacitated persons. My job is to make certain [the petitioner] is qualified [and the guardianship is] in the best interest of the allegedly incapacitated person.

 

How many cases has your firm represented in this field of the law?

There are too many cases to count over the course of 32 years.

 

What special training or knowledge do you have that sets your firm apart from other law firms?

I owned a real estate and mortgage company, as well as the title company, prior to the great real estate recession. There is nothing related to real property purchases, sales or closings that I have not litigated and/or negotiated to a resolution in the past 32 years, including disputed estate and probate issues.

 

What are some of the things to consider when hiring an attorney?

I would suggest people make sure that the attorney has experience with contested hearings and trial experience, including jury trials. I would also make sure they have experience with mediation and arbitration and the alternate dispute resolution process.

 

Does your firm do any pro-bono work in Palm Beach County? If so, what type of pro-bono work?

Yes, but not with any particular agency. I pick and choose who I help and when. It has to be someone really in need and without the means to protect themselves. I am engaged in the community and involved in local politics. I am a member of the Palm Beach County Bar Association and the South County Bar Association. I was president of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce and on the board for five years, and on the Palm Beach Consumer Affairs Board for four years.

I am also a member of Wellington Cares, a charity aimed at keeping seniors in their homes, allowing them to age in place with shopping and other services. I drafted the documents and qualified them as a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) with tax-exempt status. I did that pro bono.

The Law Offices of Alexander L. Domb P.A. are located at 11199 Polo Club Road, Suite 1, in Wellington. For more information, call (561) 578-8900.

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Law & Justice Attorney Les Shields, Morris & Shields, Attorneys At Law

Law & Justice
Attorney Les Shields, Morris & Shields, Attorneys At Law

Attorney Les Shields of the firm of Morris & Shields handles mostly civil matters in the western communities, primarily Royal Palm Beach and Wellington.

Shields has been in practice for 23 years. Admitted to the Florida Bar in 1993, he has a vast amount of experience representing both lenders and homeowners in mortgage foreclosure actions, as well as a wide array of civil litigation cases.

Wellington The Magazine interviewed Shields about his legal background and his law firm.

 

How long has your firm been doing business in Palm Beach County?

I’ve been doing business in Palm Beach County for about 25 years. This firm has been here for 25 years; it was owned by my father-in-law, Bob Morris. About five years ago, he retired. I purchased the firm from him. My wife is my paralegal, my assistant, my office manager and my right-hand woman. She has been here for the full 25 years, working first for her father, so she has experience since day one. It works out great, because not only is she experienced, she knows the clients.

 

Why did you choose Palm Beach County to establish your practice?

I actually came down here to go to law school. I worked for the Hertz Corporation in Nashville, and I moved down here to go to Nova Southeastern Law School. The area has grown a lot in the time we’ve been here, that’s for sure. During my three years of law school, we fell in love with Wellington, as well as the climate and the equestrian community.

 

What type of cases do you generally handle? What percentage of your practice is devoted to this type of law?

The big three [that we handle] are estate planning, wills and trusts, and probate. We do a lot of business law, and we handle a lot of litigation, where one business is suing another business.

I represent several electrical suppliers that supply materials to builders. Sometimes builders will take the supplies and use them, and then not pay for them. We work to get the money or the supplies back.

My first jobs after law school were all representing major banks and insurance companies, so I know a lot about that. The firm that I left to come to this firm was a general practice.

 

How many cases has your firm represented in this field of the law?

There are too many to count. It would be hard to count how many are going right now.

 

What other special training or knowledge do you have on your team that sets your firm apart from other law firms?

Working in the corporate atmosphere with the insurance companies and the banks, I have a lot of hands-on experience doing litigation. I was in court literally every day. In the morning, I was in court, and then taking a couple of depositions in the afternoon, then a mediation before quitting time. It was extremely busy, jam-packed with experience. I was exposed to things that I wouldn’t normally experience representing a large company.

 

What are some of the things to consider when hiring an attorney?

The type of experience is important, especially trial experience. People ask me, “Can I do this probate myself?” I tell them, “Yes, you can, technically, but there’s no way you should.” Attorneys have been doing this for a long time, and they still make mistakes, so the chances of you actually doing it right by yourself are very slim.

You need to hire someone with experience in the areas you are dealing with. Someone who is not afraid to go to court. I know attorneys who just despise going to court, having to put on a tie. I wear a suit and tie and go to court every day.

Another thing that is important is that the firm not take on too much work. They need to be comfortably busy. See if it is going in a forward manner, not at a crawl, at a convenient, plausible speed.

Find an attorney you can trust. I’ve known less than a dozen attorneys in the past 25 years that I trust enough to refer to someone. It’s very important to talk to the attorney and find out how they charge; how much the service is going to cost.

 

What kind of community support does your firm participate in?

We handle a lot of mortgage foreclosure cases. I handled bank foreclosures for years, and now I’m on the other side handling individuals. It’s very rarely a positive situation for the people being foreclosed upon. They don’t have the money, obviously, or they would have been paying their mortgage. Often, they don’t even have the money to pay an attorney [the full amount]. If they seem sincere, and they’re trying to make the payments, then we have no problem taking on the case.

 

Morris & Shields is located at 685 Royal Palm Beach Blvd., Suite 205, in Royal Palm Beach. For more info., call (561) 793-1200 or visit www.fllawman.com.

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From Music To Fighting The Opioid Scourge: The Many Facets Of Chief Assistant State Attorney Alan Johnson

From Music To Fighting The Opioid Scourge: The Many Facets Of Chief Assistant State Attorney Alan Johnson

When he is playing in the band Americana Jones, Wellington resident Alan Johnson dons a hat and boots. Most days, though, he wears a suit to the office, where he is the Chief Assistant State Attorney of Palm Beach County.

One of three chief assistants to State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Johnson manages what would be the largest law firm in the county. When he is playing in the band Americana Jones, Wellington resident Alan Johnson dons a hat and boots. Most days, though, he wears a suit to the office, where he is the Chief Assistant State Attorney of Palm Beach County.

One of three chief assistants to State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Johnson manages what would be the largest law firm in the county. He first joined the State Attorney’s Office in 1993 when he worked under former State Attorney Barry Krischer. He left after almost 17 years when Krischer retired. Johnson spent the next several years as executive director of the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics. He returned to the State Attorney’s Office in 2013 when Aronberg took over as the county’s top prosecutor.

Johnson’s resume is impressive, including serving as a member and then chairman of the Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee; and at the Prosecuting Attorney’s Association in areas including prosecutors, evidence, homicide prosecution, jury selection and victim rights. For more than 20 years, he has also regularly served as a volunteer judge for youth court. Other community service runs the gamut from legal organizations to little league coach.

When not working or pursuing his musical hobby, Johnson enjoys swimming and riding his bike through his long-since-adopted hometown. In fact, the community pool is one of the things he likes best about Wellington.

“It is a lovely community, and it has a great swimming pool that needs to be open on Sunday,” he said. “I swim there all the time. I’m friendly with all the guards. They have a great crew out there and a great facility, as I say, it just needs to be open on Sunday.”

When Johnson moved to South Florida, he checked out Wellington at the suggestion of a law school friend, Judge Peter Evans. “One of my best friends suggested Wellington,” he said. “It was, and is, a great family community. I raised two children in the village.”

While his children are now grown and have moved away, Johnson stays active in the community.

“While I don’t wear my religion on my sleeve, I am on the board of directors at Temple B’nai Jacob in Wellington,” Johnson said. “I am a gabbai, which is kind of like an alderman or deacon. We help with the officiating of the service.”

In Wellington, Johnson served as a member of the village’s Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board from 2000 to 2010, during some of the village’s boom years. “I’ve seen a lot of growth. We were annexing parcels of land along State Road 7,” he recalled, remarking that there have many improvements over the years. “The roads don’t flood quite as often.”

There have also been challenges with that growth. “I’ve seen the neighbor versus neighbor issues develop, the equestrian versus residential, and then the equestrian versus equestrian,” he recalled. “I live in the area of South Shore, so I’m right near the equestrian preserve.”

Now at the pinnacle of his profession, the law was not really his first career choice, although he made excellent preparations for it.

A graduate from Columbia University in 1973 and the Georgetown University Law Center in 1976, Johnson is also reported to have spent 16 years on the road in the 1970s and 1980s with the North Star Band and the Pheromones, releasing eight albums, before he devoted his primary energies to his daytime gig as a lawyer.

“I could have been a contender,” said Johnson with a laugh. “I don’t know how big a part of my life music has been; our band performs an average of about three or four times a month around South Florida.”

Palm Beach County is much better off that Johnson’s primary career ended up being in the law, not music.

Today, he supervises the departments of training, ethics, legal affairs, juvenile and investigation units; a support staff of 220 for the 120 attorneys in the office. He also presents training seminar courses on the ethics of discovery.

It has been mandated that every attorney take training on discovery or exculpatory evidence, also called Brady evidence, before they practice in circuit court. “I was tapped to give the presentations,” said Johnson, who added that a recording of the two-hour course is on the Florida Bar web site. “So, I took some teasing from peers about that.”

Johnson also chairs the Sober Homes Task Force, which includes the Criminal Law Enforcement Task Force and the Civilian Task Force. This effort is charged with combating the opioid crisis and abuses at uncertified recovery residences and drug treatment centers. Both task forces meet once a month to develop recommendations on how to fix this community scourge.

The serious side of Johnson’s personality comes out when he discusses the opioid epidemic. “I give community talks for the office to different groups about this problem and what people in the community can do,” he said. “Opioid addiction is the health crisis of our time.”

Two years ago, the department received some funding for this issue and Aronberg asked Johnson to handle the Sober Homes Task Force. However, that was just the start

“We were responsible for the legislation that passed last spring,” Johnson said. “I think it has made us one of the most innovative and forward-thinking states in the United States.”

As a matter of fact, other states, such as Texas and California, have begun to emulate Florida’s program. “Folks from Orange County, Calif., will be observing our next monthly task force meeting to see how we do things,” Johnson said.

South Florida is the location of many vibrant communities, destination cities with amenities and a tradition of tourism. Such places have a long history in the addiction treatment industry. This, combined with the misuse of well-intentioned laws such as the Affordable Care Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, created a perfect storm for the opioid crisis.

“Opioid addiction is a disease, substance abuse disorder, and is a fact of life. The demographic most affected is young people, still on their parent’s insurance, who have come to our state for substance abuse treatment,” Johnson explained.

Here they exhaust their benefits and sometimes become the victims of unscrupulous bad actors who promote them into a cycle of relapse, with sometimes bogus treatment in rogue sober houses, instead of a cycle of recovery in facilities certified to national standards.

Johnson is quick to differentiate between the legitimate part of the industry and those rogue elements.

“There are good providers in the industry, and they are getting killed by all the bad actors causing all the bad press,” he said. “The good ones, most of the time you don’t even know they are there. They have good neighbor policies. The physical appearance of the house is usually better than most of the homeowners on the block.”

The bad ones, however, are more flop houses and not really sober houses.

“Those are the ones that drive neighborhoods crazy,” Johnson said. “There is drug use, no one overseeing the house, criminal activity. Residents can report such a house to our office or the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. They have a very professional and knowledgeable crew that is trained to deal with it safely.”

The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office has worked to get laws on the books that prohibit kickbacks for referrals to treatment facilities. “We are turning on the lights, and the bad actors are scurrying to other jurisdictions,” Johnson said. “We are working to reward outcomes instead of just paying a fee for services.”

Johnson is very proud of the office’s work fighting this scourge.

“It is such a thorny issue that has touched almost every home,” Johnson said. “It is a true everyman epidemic. I give kudos to Dave Aronberg for the program he has set up. It is the only one of its kind in the country.”

Johnson said that the office’s work on opioids is a huge team effort that takes a tremendous amount of work, “It takes up a lot of time. I can’t swim as much as I used to,” he remarked, although he does have some time on Sundays.He first joined the State Attorney’s Office in 1993 when he worked under former State Attorney Barry Krischer. He left after almost 17 years when Krischer retired. Johnson spent the next several years as executive director of the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics. He returned to the State Attorney’s Office in 2013 when Aronberg took over as the county’s top prosecutor.

Johnson’s resume is impressive, including serving as a member and then chairman of the Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee; and at the Prosecuting Attorney’s Association in areas including prosecutors, evidence, homicide prosecution, jury selection and victim rights. For more than 20 years, he has also regularly served as a volunteer judge for youth court. Other community service runs the gamut from legal organizations to little league coach.

When not working or pursuing his musical hobby, Johnson enjoys swimming and riding his bike through his long-since-adopted hometown. In fact, the community pool is one of the things he likes best about Wellington.

“It is a lovely community, and it has a great swimming pool that needs to be open on Sunday,” he said. “I swim there all the time. I’m friendly with all the guards. They have a great crew out there and a great facility, as I say, it just needs to be open on Sunday.”

When Johnson moved to South Florida, he checked out Wellington at the suggestion of a law school friend, Judge Peter Evans. “One of my best friends suggested Wellington,” he said. “It was, and is, a great family community. I raised two children in the village.”

While his children are now grown and have moved away, Johnson stays active in the community.

“While I don’t wear my religion on my sleeve, I am on the board of directors at Temple B’nai Jacob in Wellington,” Johnson said. “I am a gabbai, which is kind of like an alderman or deacon. We help with the officiating of the service.”

In Wellington, Johnson served as a member of the village’s Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board from 2000 to 2010, during some of the village’s boom years. “I’ve seen a lot of growth. We were annexing parcels of land along State Road 7,” he recalled, remarking that there have many improvements over the years. “The roads don’t flood quite as often.”

There have also been challenges with that growth. “I’ve seen the neighbor versus neighbor issues develop, the equestrian versus residential, and then the equestrian versus equestrian,” he recalled. “I live in the area of South Shore, so I’m right near the equestrian preserve.”

Now at the pinnacle of his profession, the law was not really his first career choice, although he made excellent preparations for it.

A graduate from Columbia University in 1973 and the Georgetown University Law Center in 1976, Johnson is also reported to have spent 16 years on the road in the 1970s and 1980s with the North Star Band and the Pheromones, releasing eight albums, before he devoted his primary energies to his daytime gig as a lawyer.

“I could have been a contender,” said Johnson with a laugh. “I don’t know how big a part of my life music has been; our band performs an average of about three or four times a month around South Florida.”

Palm Beach County is much better off that Johnson’s primary career ended up being in the law, not music.

Today, he supervises the departments of training, ethics, legal affairs, juvenile and investigation units; a support staff of 220 for the 120 attorneys in the office. He also presents training seminar courses on the ethics of discovery.

It has been mandated that every attorney take training on discovery or exculpatory evidence, also called Brady evidence, before they practice in circuit court. “I was tapped to give the presentations,” said Johnson, who added that a recording of the two-hour course is on the Florida Bar web site. “So, I took some teasing from peers about that.”

Johnson also chairs the Sober Homes Task Force, which includes the Criminal Law Enforcement Task Force and the Civilian Task Force. This effort is charged with combating the opioid crisis and abuses at uncertified recovery residences and drug treatment centers. Both task forces meet once a month to develop recommendations on how to fix this community scourge.

The serious side of Johnson’s personality comes out when he discusses the opioid epidemic. “I give community talks for the office to different groups about this problem and what people in the community can do,” he said. “Opioid addiction is the health crisis of our time.”

Two years ago, the department received some funding for this issue and Aronberg asked Johnson to handle the Sober Homes Task Force. However, that was just the start

“We were responsible for the legislation that passed last spring,” Johnson said. “I think it has made us one of the most innovative and forward-thinking states in the United States.”

As a matter of fact, other states, such as Texas and California, have begun to emulate Florida’s program. “Folks from Orange County, Calif., will be observing our next monthly task force meeting to see how we do things,” Johnson said.

South Florida is the location of many vibrant communities, destination cities with amenities and a tradition of tourism. Such places have a long history in the addiction treatment industry. This, combined with the misuse of well-intentioned laws such as the Affordable Care Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, created a perfect storm for the opioid crisis.

“Opioid addiction is a disease, substance abuse disorder, and is a fact of life. The demographic most affected is young people, still on their parent’s insurance, who have come to our state for substance abuse treatment,” Johnson explained.

Here they exhaust their benefits and sometimes become the victims of unscrupulous bad actors who promote them into a cycle of relapse, with sometimes bogus treatment in rogue sober houses, instead of a cycle of recovery in facilities certified to national standards.

Johnson is quick to differentiate between the legitimate part of the industry and those rogue elements.

“There are good providers in the industry, and they are getting killed by all the bad actors causing all the bad press,” he said. “The good ones, most of the time you don’t even know they are there. They have good neighbor policies. The physical appearance of the house is usually better than most of the homeowners on the block.”

The bad ones, however, are more flop houses and not really sober houses.

“Those are the ones that drive neighborhoods crazy,” Johnson said. “There is drug use, no one overseeing the house, criminal activity. Residents can report such a house to our office or the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. They have a very professional and knowledgeable crew that is trained to deal with it safely.”

The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office has worked to get laws on the books that prohibit kickbacks for referrals to treatment facilities. “We are turning on the lights, and the bad actors are scurrying to other jurisdictions,” Johnson said. “We are working to reward outcomes instead of just paying a fee for services.”

Johnson is very proud of the office’s work fighting this scourge.

“It is such a thorny issue that has touched almost every home,” Johnson said. “It is a true everyman epidemic. I give kudos to Dave Aronberg for the program he has set up. It is the only one of its kind in the country.”

Johnson said that the office’s work on opioids is a huge team effort that takes a tremendous amount of work, “It takes up a lot of time. I can’t swim as much as I used to,” he remarked, although he does have some time on Sundays.

One of three chief assistants to State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Johnson manages what would be the largest law firm in the county. He first joined the State Attorney’s Office in 1993 when he worked under former State Attorney Barry Krischer. He left after almost 17 years when Krischer retired. Johnson spent the next several years as executive director of the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics. He returned to the State Attorney’s Office in 2013 when Aronberg took over as the county’s top prosecutor.

Johnson’s resume is impressive, including serving as a member and then chairman of the Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee; and at the Prosecuting Attorney’s Association in areas including prosecutors, evidence, homicide prosecution, jury selection and victim rights. For more than 20 years, he has also regularly served as a volunteer judge for youth court. Other community service runs the gamut from legal organizations to little league coach.

When not working or pursuing his musical hobby, Johnson enjoys swimming and riding his bike through his long-since-adopted hometown. In fact, the community pool is one of the things he likes best about Wellington.

“It is a lovely community, and it has a great swimming pool that needs to be open on Sunday,” he said. “I swim there all the time. I’m friendly with all the guards. They have a great crew out there and a great facility, as I say, it just needs to be open on Sunday.”

When Johnson moved to South Florida, he checked out Wellington at the suggestion of a law school friend, Judge Peter Evans. “One of my best friends suggested Wellington,” he said. “It was, and is, a great family community. I raised two children in the village.”

While his children are now grown and have moved away, Johnson stays active in the community.

“While I don’t wear my religion on my sleeve, I am on the board of directors at Temple B’nai Jacob in Wellington,” Johnson said. “I am a gabbai, which is kind of like an alderman or deacon. We help with the officiating of the service.”

In Wellington, Johnson served as a member of the village’s Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board from 2000 to 2010, during some of the village’s boom years. “I’ve seen a lot of growth. We were annexing parcels of land along State Road 7,” he recalled, remarking that there have many improvements over the years. “The roads don’t flood quite as often.”

There have also been challenges with that growth. “I’ve seen the neighbor versus neighbor issues develop, the equestrian versus residential, and then the equestrian versus equestrian,” he recalled. “I live in the area of South Shore, so I’m right near the equestrian preserve.”

Now at the pinnacle of his profession, the law was not really his first career choice, although he made excellent preparations for it.

A graduate from Columbia University in 1973 and the Georgetown University Law Center in 1976, Johnson is also reported to have spent 16 years on the road in the 1970s and 1980s with the North Star Band and the Pheromones, releasing eight albums, before he devoted his primary energies to his daytime gig as a lawyer.

“I could have been a contender,” said Johnson with a laugh. “I don’t know how big a part of my life music has been; our band performs an average of about three or four times a month around South Florida.”

Palm Beach County is much better off that Johnson’s primary career ended up being in the law, not music.

Today, he supervises the departments of training, ethics, legal affairs, juvenile and investigation units; a support staff of 220 for the 120 attorneys in the office. He also presents training seminar courses on the ethics of discovery.

It has been mandated that every attorney take training on discovery or exculpatory evidence, also called Brady evidence, before they practice in circuit court. “I was tapped to give the presentations,” said Johnson, who added that a recording of the two-hour course is on the Florida Bar web site. “So, I took some teasing from peers about that.”

Johnson also chairs the Sober Homes Task Force, which includes the Criminal Law Enforcement Task Force and the Civilian Task Force. This effort is charged with combating the opioid crisis and abuses at uncertified recovery residences and drug treatment centers. Both task forces meet once a month to develop recommendations on how to fix this community scourge.

The serious side of Johnson’s personality comes out when he discusses the opioid epidemic. “I give community talks for the office to different groups about this problem and what people in the community can do,” he said. “Opioid addiction is the health crisis of our time.”

Two years ago, the department received some funding for this issue and Aronberg asked Johnson to handle the Sober Homes Task Force. However, that was just the start

“We were responsible for the legislation that passed last spring,” Johnson said. “I think it has made us one of the most innovative and forward-thinking states in the United States.”

As a matter of fact, other states, such as Texas and California, have begun to emulate Florida’s program. “Folks from Orange County, Calif., will be observing our next monthly task force meeting to see how we do things,” Johnson said.

South Florida is the location of many vibrant communities, destination cities with amenities and a tradition of tourism. Such places have a long history in the addiction treatment industry. This, combined with the misuse of well-intentioned laws such as the Affordable Care Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, created a perfect storm for the opioid crisis.

“Opioid addiction is a disease, substance abuse disorder, and is a fact of life. The demographic most affected is young people, still on their parent’s insurance, who have come to our state for substance abuse treatment,” Johnson explained.

Here they exhaust their benefits and sometimes become the victims of unscrupulous bad actors who promote them into a cycle of relapse, with sometimes bogus treatment in rogue sober houses, instead of a cycle of recovery in facilities certified to national standards.

Johnson is quick to differentiate between the legitimate part of the industry and those rogue elements.

“There are good providers in the industry, and they are getting killed by all the bad actors causing all the bad press,” he said. “The good ones, most of the time you don’t even know they are there. They have good neighbor policies. The physical appearance of the house is usually better than most of the homeowners on the block.”

The bad ones, however, are more flop houses and not really sober houses.

“Those are the ones that drive neighborhoods crazy,” Johnson said. “There is drug use, no one overseeing the house, criminal activity. Residents can report such a house to our office or the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. They have a very professional and knowledgeable crew that is trained to deal with it safely.”

The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office has worked to get laws on the books that prohibit kickbacks for referrals to treatment facilities. “We are turning on the lights, and the bad actors are scurrying to other jurisdictions,” Johnson said. “We are working to reward outcomes instead of just paying a fee for services.”

Johnson is very proud of the office’s work fighting this scourge.

“It is such a thorny issue that has touched almost every home,” Johnson said. “It is a true everyman epidemic. I give kudos to Dave Aronberg for the program he has set up. It is the only one of its kind in the country.”

Johnson said that the office’s work on opioids is a huge team effort that takes a tremendous amount of work, “It takes up a lot of time. I can’t swim as much as I used to,” he remarked, although he does have some time on Sundays.

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First Florida Development Brings Palm Beach Island Luxury To Wellington

First Florida Development Brings Palm Beach Island Luxury To Wellington

In Wellington, many neighborhoods, particularly equestrian neighborhoods, are experiencing a surge in building and development. From 50th Street and South Shore Blvd., to Palm Beach Polo and beyond, there is a new home or farm popping up, each seemingly more opulent than the last.

First Florida Development and Construction, led by president and owner Paul Kleinfeld, is one of the professional contracting companies responsible for the beautiful homes that are adding to Wellington’s aura. The company boasts an unmatched reputation for building some of the most spectacular homes in Palm Beach County and is looking forward to many more projects as part of this Wellington development surge.

First Florida was already a distinguished leader in South Florida luxury development and construction when it landed its first contract in Wellington in 2016. The company, which has a footprint that spans from Palm Beach to Martin County, has created a signature style for luxury homes, and is widely respected for its impeccable standards on building material quality, project management, and the ability to exceed client expectations and schedules.

“I have worked with First Florida over an 18-year period, and it is a truly exceptional company in terms of the product it produces,” said famed landscape architect Howard Ostrout, who frequently works with the firm. “The staff and management’s attention to detail is unmatched, and the company has really good team members, from managers to superintendents.”

Much of the driving force behind First Florida’s success is Kleinfeld, a visionary dedicated to leading the overall strategic planning and direction of the company.

A Florida native, Kleinfeld attended the University of South Florida and graduated with a degree in zoology, followed by graduate studies in marine biology. After a personal realization that he was passionate about building and the satisfaction that comes with completing a project, he founded First Florida in 1975 and has curated a team of professionals with more than 200 years of combined building experience.

“I always believed that if I strived to meet my client’s expectations and do the right thing, that success would follow, and that has been the case with First Florida,” Kleinfeld said. “Ever since I was a young man, I really valued hard work, diligence and respect for people and the environment, and I built my business largely on those principles. I continue to base our company on them to this day. It is a very simple strategy that works wonders.”

Having worked with First Florida and Kleinfeld for a number of years, Ostrout has a similar philosophy.

“In my experience, success starts at the top, and Paul Kleinfeld is such an honest person that he immediately relates well to equestrian clients,” Ostrout said. “Property owners have to feel comfortable when making a decision to place trust in a general contractor, and whether it is a $5 million or $40 million project, Paul is always going to make sure it gets done properly.”

The home that First Florida was contracted to build in Equestrian Estates was designed by the award-winning architectural firm Smith and Moore Architects of Palm Beach. The home, which is part of a larger equestrian property, was a traditional 9,000-square-foot, West Indies-styled home.

“The owners selected First Florida during the design process because they really responded to what they saw in the portfolio and their references,” said Johnathan Moore of Smith and Moore Architects. “First Florida has worked on very high-end projects, and that really fit what we were doing in Wellington. It was immediately apparent that they were very conscious about the work that they were doing, not to mention that the lines of communication were always flowing easily, which was crucial on a project that had such a tight deadline.”

Similar to most construction projects, the general contractor is the driving force on completing construction, which has a trickle-down effect to the rest of team hired to complete the home, such as architects and interior designers.

Constant and complete communication is key to making each project successful, especially when owners may be located anywhere in the world.

“If there is an issue or change of plans, we get calls right away from the First Florida project superintendent, asking how we would like to resolve the issues,” Moore said. “The meetings they facilitate between all of the relevant parties are really helpful in making sure that their jobs move forward on time, concisely and that the client is satisfied — which is, obviously, the most important detail of all.”

With summer quickly approaching, First Florida Development is looking forward to working on a handful of equestrian properties in the Wellington area, as well as acquiring new projects and making clients’ dreams a reality.

“I am really excited about making our mark in Wellington,” Kleinfeld said. “This community is incredibly vibrant and ever-changing, which gives us the opportunity to bring the building expertise that we have honed on coastal-constructed homes to the equestrian space and help to blend the best that Palm Beach County has to offer.”

To learn more about what First Florida Development and Construction can do to help bring your building dreams to life, visit www.firstfloridainc.com.

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Women’s Empowerment A Key Focus For Polo Star, Entrepreneur & Model Ashley Busch

Women’s Empowerment A Key Focus For Polo Star, Entrepreneur & Model Ashley Busch

Ashley Van Metre Busch, a polo star, entrepreneur and model, has achieved global success at the young age of 27. Her career has come a long way from the first time she rode a horse at age 5 and immediately fell in love with everything about horses. Playing polo is a great way to combine her love for horses with her competitive nature, which she gets from her father and grandfather, who were sailboat racers.

As a bonus to loving polo, Busch also happens to be really good at the sport. She has reached great heights throughout her career with multiple defining moments, and she has solidified herself as one of the sport’s fiercest competitors.

Busch has played in renowned tournaments across the globe, from New York to Argentina, Chile, England, Florida and more. Notable victories include tournaments like the Port Mayaca 14-goal and the International Polo Club 12-goal, which she played with her father Beau. During the Hobe Sound 8-goal tournaments, Busch and her Altair team made it through the season undefeated. Currently, her team competes in tournaments in Wellington throughout the winter season.

As a member of the 2011 U.S. Eastern Circuit polo team, Busch competed against the British Forces/Combined Services polo teams in the historic Chapple Cup Series. The three-match series began at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, in which the teams battled for the Sudan Cup, the second match at the Tidworth Polo Club competing for the Indian Cavalry Officers Cup, and the final match at Guards Polo Club for the United Services Cup.

In addition to her on-field success, last year Busch was named the U.S. Polo Assn. female global brand ambassador. This allowed her to branch out into the modeling world, in which she has found great success.

Busch makes sure to not let her platform and reach go untouched, as she is an avid sponsor of women’s empowerment and equality, particularly in athletics. “My goal is to be a female face for polo as a sport and show women that they can do anything they put their minds to,” she said.

Busch preaches self-confidence and recognizes that polo is one of the few sports that allows both men and women to play on the same field together simultaneously. Because of this, she takes that opportunity to prove to the world that women can be just as successful as men in any sport, and she is always looking to break through the stereotypes.

Her time away from polo allows her to explore other passions in her life, such as fashion and philanthropy. She is coming out with her own swimwear line this year. The Beachy Chic collection is set to launch this spring, and she is expected to branch into other fashion fields in the near future. While the details are still being finalized, Busch has decided that 10 percent of the profits will be going to various charities around the world.

Her other charitable endeavors include hosting polo exhibitions like the Van Metre Polo Cup benefiting Capital Hospice and supporting the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the Commonwealth Polo Cup, the National Sporting Library Polo Classic, Polo for a Purpose and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She is also proud to be a part of the Van Metre 5-mile run, which benefits the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Busch’s ultimate goal is to create her own foundation and host charity events throughout the U.S. for various causes to pay it forward.

“From a young age, I was always taught the importance of giving back,” Busch said. “And it is my goal to pay it forward in whichever endeavors I am involved in, whether hosting charity polo events or through my swimwear and apparel line.”

In early 2017, she married NASCAR champion Kurt Busch. As a power couple of athletes, they both realize the danger that comes along with their chosen sports. “To be honest, you could get hurt just walking down the stairs,” Busch said. “You cannot let fear stop you from pursuing your passions. You have to live each day to the fullest.”

When asked about the inherent danger that comes with her husband’s profession, Busch noted that the NASCAR safety technology provided to drivers is incredible, and in all likelihood, that probably makes the sport safer than polo.

Busch has actually spent time in a stock car when she drove three laps in Las Vegas for fun. “You get out, and you feel like you can’t even walk. You feel like you’re floating,” she said. “I can’t imagine how these guys do it for 300, 400 laps.”

When they are not at the racetrack or the polo field, the newlyweds split their time at residences in Wellington and Mooresville, N.C.

Free time, which is at something of a minimum, is very important to Busch. During that time, she likes to stay fit, work out and just relax at home with her dogs and husband. Nights out are rare, since Ashley and Kurt usually just cook dinner at home and enjoy each other’s company there.

Busch advises those who travel and want to stay in shape to take time out of each day to do at least one thing, just as she does. From walking her dogs, doing sit-ups in the park or even going for a bike ride, she makes time to just keep active.

Learn more about Ashley Busch at www.ashleybusch.com.

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In Retirement, Roxanne Stein Puts Her Focus On Her Adopted Hometown Of Wellington

In Retirement, Roxanne Stein Puts Her Focus On Her Adopted Hometown Of Wellington

Along with providing the people of Palm Beach County with their news for nearly 25 years, Roxanne Stein has made her mark on the Wellington community, just as Wellington has made its mark on her.

From a young age, Stein knew that she wanted to work in the business of producing and delivering news. She vividly recalls growing up in Pennsylvania, watching the news on a black-and-white screen and aspiring to one day provide communities with the important news of the day.

“I loved that every night the news was different. Every night there was something new to follow,” Stein recalled. “I was only seven or eight, but I loved it. I started clipping out headlines from newspapers and making scrapbooks because I loved tracking what happened every day in life.”

After graduating from the Pennsylvania State University, Stein began her news career in her hometown of Lancaster, Pa. In 1993, she made the move south to West Palm Beach and became the news anchor known and loved by many on WPTV News Channel 5.

Stein, along with her co-anchor John Favole, became familiar faces in Palm Beach County.

For Stein, the most rewarding feeling of being responsible for delivering news — good or bad — to the people of the Palm Beaches was being able to be there for residents by providing necessary information.

“I have had so many great opportunities and covered many amazing stories, but what I really loved was being part of the community and part of people’s lives,” said Stein, who recently retired from her news anchor position. “It was important to me to embrace people around me, because it’s part of my personality to do so. I tried to deliver news [thinking] of the families and kids watching at home.”

After her 41-year news career, some recent events began to take a stronger toll on Stein. Hurricane Irma last year, for example, was harder for her than previous storms she covered.

“It was hard — sleeping at the station, being away from home and having my husband be home alone,” Stein said. “It’s the business, and I wouldn’t complain about it, but it was hard.”

Covering the news surrounding the Feb. 14 deadly school shooting in Parkland was also harder and more surreal for Stein.

“Parkland really got to me. Parkland is only an hour away, and it is so much like Wellington,” she said. “The stories of the kids and teachers who went to school just trying to make the world better and ended up dying really affected me. I got emotional about it, and there were a couple times on the air that I had to look away.”

The best stories Stein delivered were those about the people in the community who go out of their way to help others in need.

“There is so much good in this community, and there is so much being done by people who want to help each other and make a difference when it’s needed,” she said. “It is so important to tell the stories of what the community does for each other.”

After more than two decades at WPTV and much consideration, Stein left her anchor chair on March 30.

“I was very lucky to do what I wanted to do for 41 years and to [work] in the same place for 25 years,” she explained. “I really have been very fortunate to be part of a community that embraced me just as I embraced it. I also love the people I worked with at Channel 5, but I felt ready to be off such a hectic schedule. It just felt like the right time. I always wanted and planned to retire while I could still do things.”

She is excited about this new phase of her life and has no regrets about the timing.

“WPTV gave me a job for so long, and my job was great, but it was time to move on. People told me I would mourn my job, but I don’t think so,” Stein said. “I think if people have a lot of fun throughout life, they can continue to have a lot of fun when they are no longer working.”

Since her retirement, Stein has invested most of her energy into spending more time with her husband, Steve Moss, going on daily trail rides with her horse, Bamboo, riding her bicycle around town or playing tennis to stay active.

“Bamboo and I trail ride around Wellington every day and have a wonderful time,” said Stein, who has long enjoyed the equestrian aspects of her adopted hometown. “He’s a special horse, he loves what he does and loves taking care of me.”

She is thankful that her career left her financially secure, but noted that she has never been a big spender. “[My husband and I] live a very modest lifestyle,” Stein explained. “We bought a house 22 years ago, we still live in it, and we are not moving out of it.”

While she has retired from WPTV, she has clearly not retired from high-profile community roles. She was recently installed as the new president of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce.

With the chamber, Stein hopes to support Wellington businesses on a positive and prosperous path.

“With the chamber’s members and board, I want to help businesses become stronger and provide them with the tools they need to be profitable in the community,” she said. “Businesses make our community stronger. It is also important that we support our local businesses, our mom and pops.”

After taking a period of time to relax and enjoy a more laid-back schedule, Stein hopes to get even more involved in maintaining Wellington’s community.

“Wellington is a very special and significant place to me,” she said. “I love the community here, and I want to help keep Wellington as wonderful as it is. It is such a family place, and communities that embrace families, like Wellington does, are at the fiber of this country.”

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Maggie Zeller Specializes In Personalized Health Insurance Plans

Maggie Zeller Specializes In Personalized Health Insurance Plans

Independent health insurance advisor Maggie Zeller has been finding the best-fitting health insurance coverage for her clients since 2013. As of January 2018, Zeller has created her own firm, Zeller Health Insurance Solutions LLC, through which she pairs her clients with insurance plans that will meet their unique, individual needs.

A resident of Florida since 1991 and of the western comminutes since 2002, Zeller had an extensive professional career in banking and business development dating back to 1974. She earned her health insurance license in 1994 and fully transitioned from banking to health insurance advising in 2013.

Though there are some similarities between the businesses of banking and insuring, Zeller found her passion and fulfillment in helping people navigate their way in the often confusing and overwhelming world of health insurance, and, more precisely, Medicare plans.

“My real passion is in the Medicare field,” Zeller explained. “I really like helping people find the right plan for them as they age into Medicare at age 65 or during open enrollment in November.”

Zeller is licensed with all major health insurance providers, such as Humana, Aetna, United Healthcare, United American and Florida Blue. Her position as an independent advisor allows her to advise clients with the health insurance provider who offers an ideal insurance plan for their health conditions, budget, preferred doctors and medications.

“Because I am licensed with every major carrier, I have the ability to best advise my clients to a plan that is tailor-made to a client, instead of gearing them only in one direction or to one specific insurance carrier,” she explained. “In the Medicare world, specifically, there is a plan for everybody. But not one plan for everybody.”

Zeller serves clients throughout the western communities, though she does have some as far away as Tampa and North Carolina. Her clients’ medical insurance needs range from short-term health insurance plans to applying for specific plans within Medicare. Since all of her clients’ needs vary, Zeller’s daily work centers on conducting in-depth research in order to find the plans that meet precise medical needs or preferences, as well as aiding those in the process of applying for Medicare and consulting with families about their healthcare plans.

“It’s difficult for people to do the extensive research on healthcare and health providers, and that is why it’s important to meet with an independent consultant,” Zeller said.

In her experience, Zeller has found that a majority of her clients have been on healthcare plans from previous employers or specific prescription drug plans. These types of health insurance plans, Zeller explained, can end up costing people more than average healthcare plans. Her fulfillment comes from helping her clients out of wrong healthcare plans and getting them onto plans that will not only meet their medical necessities, but sometimes save them hundreds of dollars.

“Just recently, I met with a retired client who was paying more than $800 a month for her health insurance through a former employer. After enrolling her in a new plan, she is saving in excess of $500 a month. Many people think it is best to stay on a former employer’s plan or a plan that is not right for them,” Zeller said.

Over the last four and a half years, Zeller’s efforts to work in the best interest of her clients have earned her a solid referral-based client list. Zeller not only gets people on the right medical plan, but she also prioritizes the importance of good customer service.

“I have built my business on referrals. I never know who’s going to call me, [and that is] because customer service is key,” she said. “Truthfully, the greatest complement I can receive is when a client refers me; that is when I know I’m doing the right thing, because when you do the right thing for people, they remember.”

Aside from her business, Zeller works every day to make a difference for the people of the western communities. She is an active board member of the Wellington Rotary Club, the Wellington Community Foundation, Back to Basics and the YWCA.

Zeller explained that she recognizes and values the ties between helping people through her business and giving back to the community.

Zeller is available for morning or afternoon consultations, and regularly advises clients in the comfort of their own home. For more information, call (561) 715-9262 or e-mail medicaremaggie@gmail.com.

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Wellington Cares Volunteer Evelyn Regan Loves Helping Other Senior Citizens

Wellington Cares Volunteer Evelyn Regan Loves Helping Other Senior Citizens

Evelyn Regan is one of those people whose name is not often in the news, the kind of person who quietly facilitates the lives of others, helping out whenever she can and not thinking twice about it. Family, friends and business associates have all benefited from her care — and her caring.

Regan was born in Cambridge, Mass., grew up in New Jersey and, as an adult, moved to West Palm Beach, where she worked for the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office throughout the 1960s.

“Then I met a man and married him and moved to Loxahatchee, where we raised two boys, John and Richard, on five acres,” Regan recalled. “It was a wonderful place to raise a family. My older son, John, showed goats at the South Florida Fair. We had two polo ponies we rode. One had been retired and one had pulled a muscle in his chest and could no longer play. We lived behind Tony and Barbara Coppola, and they’re the ones who helped us acquire the ponies. Polo ponies are perfect for inexperienced riders and kids — they don’t mind activity around them on the road or things flying up near their face.”

About 25 years ago, after her sons went off to college, Regan downsized. She sold her home, moved to Wellington and went to work for financial planners Ben and Joanna Boynton.

“My title was office manager etc., etc., etc. When you only have one employee…,” Regan’s voice trails off as her daily duties grew too numerous and varied to list. “I can’t say I’ve lived an exciting life, but it has been a wonderful and dull life. I love living in Wellington. I feel very safe and have lots of friends. I’ve been in my condo about 20 years now, although I do miss having property and the horses we had.”

About 10 years ago, Regan retired from her busy office job, but she’s still just as busy. She is a member of the Wellington Seniors Club, plays dominoes and cards, and loves to travel, visiting Greece, Italy, Croatia, Ireland, Mexico and “quite a bit” of the United States. She also has six grandchildren.

“They keep me very busy, and they make me very happy,” Regan said. “They range in age from 4 to 10, so they’re very young for my age, which is almost 81.”

She has also been involved with the nonprofit Wellington Cares since it began.

“Wellington Cares was founded by [Wellington’s first mayor] Kathy Foster, who patterned it on an organization out of Virginia,” Regan explained. “It has a wonderful board and wonderful trustees. Its goal is to help elderly people ‘age in place’ without the necessity of going into a nursing home or senior care facility. We, volunteers, provide respite care so their day-to-day caretakers can go out… or we’ll take the elderly to their doctors’ or physical therapy appointments… or we’ll shop for them or take them shopping.”

In short, they do whatever is needed to allow clients to stay in their homes, where they feel most secure and happy.

Regan said that when she started with the group, there were just a handful of volunteers, but now there are more than 40. In addition, other communities such as Royal Palm Beach and Boynton Beach are coming to Foster, asking for information on setting up their own similar programs.

Regan has two clients she assists almost every week and, before she knew it, had logged nearly 150 volunteer hours in one year.

“I don’t keep track of hours, but evidently Wellington Cares does,” she said, shrugging off the donation of her time. “I’m elderly myself. But I’ve been blessed with good health, and I don’t take advantage of it. I don’t take any medications, but I do take care of myself. Besides, I have always gotten along with elderly people, even when I was young. When my grandmother was widowed, she came to live with us, and I grew up with her. She moved from Cambridge to New Jersey with us. She would visit her other sons, but she would live with us. My dad passed away when my brother was 6 and I was 12, and I think she was a big help to my mother. Plus, she was a sweetheart. I think children and families have become fractured around the nation, and I think children need their grandparents. They can learn a lot from the elderly.”

Regan herself is still learning. “I hear their stories, and I love them,” she said of the other senior citizens she works with.

Even before Wellington Cares, Regan had always done her share of volunteering.

“When my boys were young, I was class mother and I love hospital work, but I wasn’t drawn to that,” Regan said. “Helping elderly people stay in place and not have to go into a nursing home — I get more from giving to them than anything. They are so appreciative. They just love us.”

Any octogenarial words of wisdom for others?

“What I’ve learned is that anything is possible if you work hard enough, are kind enough and are giving enough,” Regan said. “And that every child needs an education. My advice to the next generation would be simply to be kind, be helpful and be responsible.”

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