Category Archives: Uncategorized

Customer Service Team Is Standing By To Help Wellington Residents In Need

Customer Service Team Is Standing By To Help Wellington Residents In Need

In 2018, Wellington’s Customer Service Department handled 43,000 phone calls and assisted 33,000 visitors. The team of 13 people is dedicated to serving the community and takes the relationship between local government and its residents very seriously.

“Instead of each department, we have one centralized location where we can provide the best customer service to the residents of Wellington,” Customer Service Manager Mindi Lockhart said. “Everyone is trained so that residents are getting consistent information and not being bounced around. Resolution is our goal.”

The department covers more than the front line of service windows, it also handles the village’s call center and the main front desk at the Wellington Municipal Complex. Operators are available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and there’s a plan in place for emergency calls outside of normal business hours.

Lockhart’s teammate Elizabeth Arocho is also a customer service manager. She finds working during the worst of times — specifically during a major storm — a vital responsibility for the department.

“During storms, we have folks here on lockdown. That means they are here before the storm starts, during the storm and after the storm. We don’t leave. We make sure the public has the ability for direct contact with a live person,” Arocho said. “During Tropical Storm Isaac, we had a lot rainfall and flooding. So many residents were calling in scared and worried about their horses. Just watching the call centers take those calls in a calm manner that helped quell our residents’ fears — that was a proud mom moment.”

The team is passionate about this important role. Customer Service Administrative Coordinator Wayne Turpin is a perfect example. After nearly five years in the department, he is still excited about his work, even during a storm.

“I volunteered for it. My family lives close by, so I might as well be here working and helping out. They normally get us in a couple of hours before a storm gets bad, so we are here through everything. In the last storm, we were here Saturday morning through Monday morning,” Turpin recalled. “There is always a liaison from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue here with us. I got a call during the last storm from a resident who lost part of a pergola, and it had punctured a gas line in the middle of the storm. We were able to get people dispatched to address the problem. PBCFR coordinated with us and got someone there to seal it off without any issues.”

Lockhart and Arocho work in tandem to keep the department running smoothly. “Our main goal during a hurricane is to make sure that the public is safe, and our staff is safe. We are all in this boat and have to get through a hurricane together,” Lockhart said. “Afterward, of course, we work to get everything back to normal as fast as possible.”

The recurring theme in the Customer Service Department is teamwork. They treat each other as a second family, but also as an additional resource when dealing with difficult situations.

“People call us for every single thing, from people who don’t know what to do with an alligator to others wanting to rent a pavilion; from what the movie is going to be this weekend to how to get a passport or driver’s license. We have to be on point and have all the information at our fingertips,” Senior Customer Service Representative Christina Fugarese said. “We get calls from everywhere and have so much to offer our residents. We like to wow all our callers and give them wonderful, outstanding Wellington service.”

Arocho has worked for the village for more than 14 years now, in several different departments. She finds her current work very different than when she started out reading water meters in the field.

“Customer service is a bit fast-paced, and you definitely have more responsibility,” Arocho said. “I think it’s because you’re dealing with customers firsthand and making sure that the image we portray is a good one.”

The Customer Service Department team is charged with knowing what all 300 Wellington employees do, otherwise routing calls to the correct person becomes a much slower task. Training remains important to the department, and future plans include finding more ways to better serve the community.

“We are in the process of putting in a training for crisis management so that not only is our call staff knowledgeable about the community, but they’ll also have the knowledge of how to handle those types of calls, too,” Arocho said.

Utilities Customer Service Representative Jashly Botex noted the differences in her past three years with Wellington compared to her experience working with other municipalities, particularly regarding the web site.

“I needed special training on the online system, especially things like troubleshooting with the customers. We will help them set up an online profile or autopay, and they have all other types of questions,” Botex said. “We must have such an understanding of the site and also be consistent both on the phone and in person. We learn to ask the right questions, to go above and beyond, even offering same-day service.”

With a staff that ranges from two to nearly 20 years working for Wellington, all take pride in developing solid, genuine relationships with residents.

“I get very few escalated phone calls because our representatives treat the customers how they want to be treated,” Lockhart said. “It’s also because when you give good, you get good. Our employees do that because they know they are treated well here, and it’s a great place to wake up in the morning and say, ‘I get to go to work, and it’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing.’”

Both managers agree that working for a smaller, tight-knit community allows for excellent customer service.

“My favorite thing is the relationships that you form with residents — it’s a friendship more than a customer-type feeling here,” Arocho said.

Whether handling business tax inquiries, sharing information about public meetings and events, or helping customers solve problems with their homes, the consistency and commitment of Wellington’s Customer Service Department remains strong.

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Service Is The Key To Keith Jordano’s Success As An Independent Insurance Agent

Service Is The Key To Keith Jordano’s Success As An Independent Insurance Agent

Being available to listen is a key to the success of Keith Jordano’s 30-plus career as an independent insurance agent. Recently, the Jordano Insurance Group, the firm he founded and leads, expanded its services to assist with home and auto insurance coverage as well.

Originally from New Orleans, Jordano moved with his insurance firm, founded in 1993, to the western communities 20 years ago.

“When I first went into the insurance business, my manager told me not to give out my cell and personal phone number,” Jordano recalled. “I told him the day I could not be accessible to my clients was the day I should not be in the business.”

This is a goal that he has kept his focus on ever since.

“I’ve made myself available for my clients when they need me. Most insurance agencies all sell the same companies’ [products] at the same price, as the providing insurance company sets the price. The difference is the service,” Jordano explained. “We are here because of our clients, mentors and family.”

He noted other areas that Jordano feels set him apart from his competition, such as “listening to the client and working with them to find their needs with a personal touch.” 

The cliché about an agent who can “sell snow to an Eskimo” is the story of a terrible agent, Jordano remarked.

“To sell them the right heater or blanket is to find their needs and sell them based on that,” Jordano said. “We listen and try to place clients where they are protected at a price they can afford. We try to cover our clients with a blanket of protection.”

On April 1, 1999, Jordano resettled in the western communities after traveling all over the eastern United States.

“It may have been April Fools’ Day, but we got the last laugh,” Jordano said. “After 20 years, we are going strong and growing our footprint of products and services. We travel around the United States and meet people from all walks of life, occupations, social and economic status, and we have learned how to listen to their diverse needs.”

While Jordano’s firm previously focused on varieties of life insurance and health insurance, he now offers a more comprehensive array of services.

“The Jordano Insurance Group represents home, auto and motorcycle insurance; Medicare supplements and Medicare Advantage plans; as well as individual and group health and benefit packages,” Jordano said. “We try to get to what our clients really need and lead them to where to find it.”

Jordano stressed that the benefit of his firm is truly listening to each client’s needs.

“Whatever plan they need, we make them feel protected, safe and still have money to feed their family,” Jordano explained.

Jordano and his wife Lois have three grown children: Melissa, 36; Robin, 35; and Adam, 31. He described his hobbies as gardening, sports, charity work and community involvement.

An active member of the Rotary clubs in Wellington and Royal Palm Beach, as well as the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce, Jordano has served as a board member and officer in all of them, even being named small business of the year, as well as being named to the industry’s Health Underwriters Soaring Eagle membership and leading producers roundtable.

“Living in the western communities has been one of the best moves our family has made,” Jordano said. “We have many friends, with many of them starting as clients. I’ve tried to make all my clients feel like a friend and mean it. Our community is safe and friendly with lots to do. It is a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

The Jordano Insurance Group is available online at www.jordanogroup.com, where there is an option to reach out for a quote. Jordano can be reached via e-mail at keith@jordanogroup.com or through his cell phone at (561) 307-2622. For specific information on life and health insurance, call (561) 333-6228. For auto and home insurance questions, call (561) 225-2659.

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For Jo Ann Abrams, Elder Law Is All About People, Not Paperwork

For Jo Ann Abrams, Elder Law Is  All About People, Not Paperwork

Jo Ann Abrams has always wanted to be an attorney. It was a goal dating back to her childhood in New York. Joining the Florida Bar in 1986, she has been practicing law in South Florida ever since, first in Broward County, and for the past 19 years in the western communities of Palm Beach County. Her practice has a focus on elder law and estate planning.

Married with four horses and six dogs, Abrams enjoys her work, and in her off hours, she spends her time taking care of her dogs, western-style riding, reading, scuba diving, traveling, working out and riding motorcycles. She has two Hondas, a Rebel 250 and a 750 Shadow, and in cooler months can be seen riding one to work.

“Basically, I do elder law, which includes estate planning, Medicaid and Medicare planning, guardianship, wills, irrevocable trusts and more,” she said.

The specific field of elder law is growing more important each year as the population continues to age. Wellington records indicate that 12 percent of the population is over age 60, consistent with the county percentage, although that figure is expected to grow with the census in 2020.

“I have been in practice for more than 33 years and have seen many situations in life. The thing that distinguishes my elder care practice is probably that I have been doing it for so long,” Abrams said.

One of the benefits for clients who work with Abrams is that she is an avid listener.

“I really believe that clients should be heard. Listening is the most important thing,” said Abrams, who remarked that when she understands their specific situation, she is ready to offer advice to clients based upon her experience.

Abrams’ experience manifests itself most strongly in the way that she listens to each client.

“I listen carefully to clients and let them fully express what they want and need,” she said.

Abrams explained that her elder care practice includes guardianship, estate planning, probate, preparing wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and handling Medicaid and Medicaid planning.

“I will explain how to avoid probate of the estate, and I fully explain what to do with documents I prepare and make it as easy as possible for the client,” she said.

Unfortunately, the reality of elder law means that she is often working with clients in difficult situations. And in over three decades of practice, Abrams has seen a lot.

“I pretty much have seen it all — well, not everything, because things always come up,” she said. “I have many bad examples to explain to clients.”

Abrams strives to ensure that the legal documents she prepares accurately depict the wishes of the client, not a decision influenced by a relative. She said that nobody should be railroaded into decisions, and too often, elderly people are not listened to carefully enough.

Abrams spends plenty of time to make sure the client understands what the document is and what it does, and that it is indeed what the client wants. She added that her practice is a lot more about people than it is about paperwork.

While Abrams lives in the area surrounding Wellington, she takes a great interest in the community.

“I have many clients in Wellington, I shop there often and have many friends in Wellington,” she said, adding that she was involved with the best management practices for manure disposal when it came up in Wellington. “I mediated the agreement between Wellington and the South Florida Water Management District at that time so that Wellington would not be fined.”

Jo Ann Abrams’ practice is located at 11440 Okeechobee Blvd., Suite 216, in Royal Palm Beach. For more information about Abrams and her elder law practice, call (561) 795-9590 or e-mail to j.a.abrams@att.net.

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Village Clerk’s Office Protects The Past And The Future Of Wellington

Village Clerk’s Office Protects The Past And The Future Of Wellington

As custodian of the Village of Wellington’s vital public records, Village Clerk Chevelle Nubin leads a department that serves a key municipal function steeped in history.

“The profession of the clerk is the one of the oldest in history, second only to tax collectors,” Nubin explained. “It is one of the oldest public servants in local government, tracing back before biblical times. We are considered the hub. We tend to be that link between the residents of the community and the government.”

With more than 20 years of experience in the government sector, Nubin has been a municipal clerk for most of that time, joining the Village of Wellington two years ago. She is a master municipal clerk, which is the highest designation achievable for the position.

“I am also a member, and past president, of the Florida Association of City Clerks. So, I get to do outreach and represent our profession. I have served on the Florida League of Cities Municipal Administration Committee for the past three years and did some webinars for training. I enjoy it,” Nubin said.

After a long tenure with the City of Delray Beach, coming to Wellington was a significant transition for Nubin, but working with team members like Deputy Village Clerk Rachel Callovi made the change easier. Nubin referred to Callovi and her office as more than just a quality resource.

“What I love about Wellington, and what I saw quickly when I came here, was just the camaraderie. Wellington values its employees, and they are such a talented team and group of people to work with and work for,” Nubin said. “The atmosphere is amazing here — high energy and a demand for excellence. People deliver on that, and they give you the tools that you need to be successful.”

Some people see the clerk’s office as little more than secretarial work, answering phones, taking notes and keeping meeting minutes. Nubin makes sure that everyone knows that her team does so much more than attend council meetings.

“We serve as historians, responsible for transcribing minutes so that we can provide records to the public. The purpose for literally transcribing the minutes is to maintain an accurate, unbiased record of any legislative action that has taken place,” Nubin said. “We also do the legal advertising for the village, serve as supervisors over municipal elections and a huge part is records management.”

When records are created, the clerk’s team of eight people are responsible for following every step of its life cycle. From the initial filing, to the task of properly managing record destruction, the detailed process of having every document housed and scanned into digital form and catalogued is daunting. Digital access means the public, and the village, can save time and get back to work quickly.

“We have a team who do all the scanning of our records and archives on a daily basis. It’s a pretty interesting function. Adrienne Shaffer is the records manager, and she does an amazing job and works directly with the village departments about their records, too,” Nubin said.

The clerk’s office has managed to digitize more than half the historic records for the village, which is quite an accomplishment considering the size of the job.

Other members of the team include Assistant to the Village Clerk Tamika Rogers, senior administrative assistants Alice Machiela and Angie Butler, Administrative Assistant Shanti Singh and Transcriptionist Traci Mehl.

For Nubin, election time is a personal favorite function of the job. Meeting new people, from candidates to poll workers, directly connects her to the people she serves.

 “Essentially, we serve as the local elections supervisors. For the village, your clerk is your contact. We also hire the poll workers, gather the elections information, receive the campaign treasurer’s reports, and even go on election night to wait for the results,” Nubin said. “I am responsible for canvassing our absentee ballots. During election day, I travel around to precincts to make sure everything is flowing properly and that our workers have what they need. I am responsible for making sure I order the ballots and have to make sure we have enough. It’s not a glamorous job, but it’s vital.”

Nubin, is also the official custodian of the village seal, and her team members are direct observers of all government business conducted in Wellington.

“No one day is the same, and although our work demands a level of versatility. We have to be alert, we have to be accurate and depending on what situation comes up — whether we are dealing with a resident or another colleague — it may require us to be extremely patient,” Nubin said.

This team mentality means everyone works together for residents of the community. Nubin shared a story of such a case.

“There was a lady who was extremely upset about the town center project. She had talked to a few people in a few departments, and finally the call came up to me. Upon me picking up the phone, I could tell she was upset. I let her get all of that out,” Nubin explained. “After I thanked her for calling, I continued listening, and in the midst of her comments, there was also a request for information she felt that she was not getting. Finally, after explaining her entire story, we were able to find the information — a survey her father had filed. She needed the survey before making important repairs to her home. That just made our day because, when we called her, she started to cry.”

Whenever possible, Nubin wants the answer to be “yes, we can,” not “no, we can’t.”

“We always look for a way to help while still being compliant with our charter, our code and the state. The mentality here is that we look for a way to get it done,” Nubin said. “We all have that same goal, and for us, that goal is to serve our residents.”

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Village Engineer Tom Lundeen Is Working To Engineer A Stronger Wellington

Village Engineer Tom Lundeen Is Working To Engineer A Stronger Wellington

As the Village of Wellington works to build a stronger, more resilient community that works for residents today and well into the future, understanding the big picture is an important character trait for leaders like Village Engineer Tom Lundeen.

Lundeen joined the Wellington team in 2016 and is looking forward to a long future supporting Wellington and its residents.

“I’m here to help protect the residents and their property,” explained Lundeen, who leads a dedicated crew of professionals. “I oversee the Engineering Department and the Public Works Department, which means I manage more than 100 employees.”

Lundeen grew up on a farm in Minnesota. After completing a degree in civil engineering, he moved to Florida in 1985 to find new challenges and career options.

“A friend lived down here and said, ‘Come on down, there’s plenty of jobs.’ Within three days, I had three job offers,” Lundeen recalled.

Over time, he gained a great deal of experience in both the public and private sectors, always looking for new ways to improve both his own knowledge and the infrastructure around him. Lundeen was involved in massive projects ranging from new bridges and roadways in Brevard County to raising U.S. Highway 1.

Before coming to Wellington, Lundeen was the engineer and deputy director for the Port of Palm Beach for many years.

“Working for the Port of Palm Beach was one of those jobs where you wake up every morning because you want to see what’s going to happen next,” Lundeen said. “I was working with electrical and structural engineers, building sea walls and bulkheads, managing paving and drainage.”

An avid scuba diver, Lundeen integrated his skills at work by completing more than 300 inspections underwater.

After a time, Lundeen was ready for something new, since he believes that change is not only inevitable, but also a good thing. He has known Village Manager Paul Schofield and Assistant Village Manager Jim Barnes since his time with Palm Beach County, and the shift to Wellington has been a good fit.

“I’ve been in government for more than 29 years now, and it is a lot different,” Lundeen said. “I get excited when we get into a project. The system works, but it can always be improved.”

He gives most of the credit, though, to his teams in engineering and public works. Lundeen is proud to have a group of people who see the big picture, just like he does.

“There are some fabulous people who work here. I don’t think I could have hand-picked them any better,” Lundeen said. “Right now, everything is in place and working well in both departments. Public Works is filled with jacks of all trades, and masters of most of them. If an issue comes up, like a traffic problem, we can fix a road, put in a turn lane or design a traffic circle.”

He is especially proud of the work done by his fellow staff engineers. “Jonathan Reinsvold and Alyssa Dalloo are doing a fabulous job designing in house, saving us time and money,” Lundeen said.

The engineering department stays busy with a wide array of projects ranging from drainage improvements to permitting, and even altering the layout of congested intersections like South Shore Blvd. and Pierson Road.

“It’s one of those projects that you would feel good about,” Lundeen said.

The department has the plans in place for more than traffic concerns. There is another project meant to improve drainage in Wellington by removing some of the aging pipes and replacing them with two instead, to avoid choke points that get clogged by debris — especially after large storms.

“It’s not glamorous work, but if it’s not done, and we get a big storm, you are sure to hear about it,” Lundeen said. “For every project, no matter the size, I feel better because it’s done. We are doing our best to protect the community, one step at a time.”

Lundeen works hard, but he embraces that there is more to life than his career. He is still in close contact with the same friend who first convinced him to move to Florida. They work together on volunteer service projects of a very special nature.

“My friend got me into a project called Special Spaces. We fix up rooms for kids, and some of them are pretty intense,” Lundeen said. “I’ve worked on maybe five or six projects, the most recent being a three-year-old boy in Wellington battling leukemia.”

But when not helping in the community, Lundeen and his wife Michele would rather be outside adventuring, including riding motorcycles, kayaking and, of course, diving. “We take about one dive vacation a year,” Lundeen said. “My all-time favorites are Australia and Grand Turk Island.”

His appreciation for man-made structures sits well alongside his passion for nature. Lundeen’s family at home includes several rescued animals, and he even adopted a bird swept into his yard after Hurricane Frances.

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New Tyler Brooke Clothing Store Caters To Both Men And Women

New Tyler Brooke Clothing Store Caters To Both Men And Women

Just as important as fine quality clothing that compliments him and flatters her is complementary clothing for couples. That’s the retail niche that new store Tyler Brooke specializes in at the Mall at Wellington Green.

Owner Henry Mosely first got into the clothing business while living in Winter Haven, Florida. He relocated to Wellington with his family in 2015. Mosely’s previous store location was in the Kobosko’s Crossing shopping center, but Tyler Brooke has since moved to a new location in the mall, opening just over a month ago. This new store location is receiving rave reviews for its impeccable, personalized customer service.

“We had been a fine menswear clothier, and when men wearing suits and dressing nice kind of went away, we rebranded as Tyler Brooke, a store for men and women who love to shop,” Mosely said.

Mosley is married with three children, two girls ages 21 and 15, and a boy, age nine, His hobbies outside of running his business include watching college football, visiting Disney World with his family, and catching a movie and dinner with his wife.

“I am a true Floridian, who has actually watched the Village of Wellington grow to what it is today,” Mosely said. “Wellington doesn’t have all the hustle and bustle and retains its small village flavor.”

Mosely especially likes the family community aspects of Wellington. “It is a great community with great schools for my children,” he added.

He believes that the community will benefit from the Tyler Brooke shopping concept.

“The Tyler Brooke concept is one where men and women can shop together in a relaxed atmosphere,” Mosley said. “They can also purchase items that complement each other, whether they’re going to a polo match or they are going to dinner or to the Kravis Center.  We offer a unique concept and clothing that allows husband and wife to complement each other.”

This concept works great for date night apparel, Mosely said.

“Say, it’s an anniversary or you’re celebrating your wife or husband’s birthday, you can dress as a couple with anything from black tie options and evening gowns, all the way down to just a nice button-down shirt and matching dress for her,” he explained. “The line that we specialize in working with is Robert Graham, and we have Robert Graham button-downs for women, just as we have them for men. So, women have the option to wear their jeans and a nice button-down shirt, just as the gentleman wears his jeans and a nice button-down shirt.”

Mosley’s store features a number of clothing lines, including several local brands.

“Some of the more famous brands are nationally known like Robert Graham for men and women, and Gretchen Scott for women with special colors and fabrics,” he said. “Local brands include Three Friends Apparel located out of North Palm Beach, and Sir Menswear by Eddie Edwards located in West Palm Beach.”

One benefit that Tyler Brooke customers enjoy, Mosley explained, is that they won’t see a whole bunch of the same thing in the store.

“They won’t see a rack full of identical pieces,” Mosley said. “All the items for men and women are hand-selected from different designers, and we try to keep it as limited as possible, meaning a minimum of three pieces per style, but no more than six. That gives the customer a little bit of exclusivity to the styles, the size and the brand when they shop for retail with us.”

Mosely got into the clothing business for personal reasons.

“Something I’d like people to know about the business is that it was started because of the challenges that I personally faced in retail in some stores finding my size,” Mosley said. “At Tyler Brooke, we offer apparel for everyone. We can dress any guy from size small to a 5XL, for women from extra small to a 3XL.”

He invites the community to visit the store, located on the upper level of the Mall at Wellington Green.

“We invite people to come in and visit our store, because I believe in fashion. Even though the internet boom is what everyone is talking about, I still feel there is a unique group of people who actually want to touch the fabrics,” Mosely said. “They actually want to put their hands on it and try things on. Ladies want to put the dress on. The guys want to try the shirt on. At Tyler Brooke, they have their choice to see the items as soon as they hit the shelf. They don’t have to wait for shipping.”

That immediacy continues into the way he uses the internet.

“One of the things I do every other Tuesday is I post ‘What’s New at Tyler Brooke,’” Mosley said. “It’s a Facebook post with items that just came in and we are featuring them.”

For more information about Tyler Brooke, call (561) 281-9522, visit www.tyler-brooke.com, follow the store on Facebook at Tyler Brooke Wellington and on Instagram at tylerbrookewellington.

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Designer’s Touch Jewelry Welcomes Community To Visit New Store Location

Designer’s Touch Jewelry Welcomes Community To Visit New Store Location

After many years of providing a bit of sparkle in the lives of Wellington residents, Designer’s Touch Jewelry has opened a new location with an eye on the future.

A true Florida native, Adam Yorke is the third generation in the jewelry business at Designer’s Touch. With roots going back to the Broward area in the 1980s, the firm started by his grandparents has had a convenient Wellington location since 2006. Now, it’s even more convenient with a new location at 2891 S. State Road 7, Suite 120, near Trader Joe’s in Wellington.

“My grandparents and parents have run the store, and now I am a part of it,” Yorke explained. “We’ve been a true family business for more than 35 years. Our business was established and built on trust and long-term relationships. Although we may have grown and developed into a bigger store in a nicer shopping center, we will always have that feeling of family and true personal care and attention to any jewelry want or need.”

Yorke is excited about the store’s recent move a few blocks down SR 7.

“Our new, more central, stand-alone location is near Trader Joe’s and Starbucks,” he said. “It’s a nicer place, a more modern venue, with updated tiles and nice lighting. While near the old location, it seems like a happier plaza environment that is more convenient for our existing customers and those who will become customers in the future.”

That clientele will find a great jeweler that does much more than just sell high-quality pieces. Designer’s Touch Jewelry uses artistry and technical know-how to design and create beautiful items.

With impeccable workmanship and a wide range of services, including jewelry cleaning and polishing, white gold dipping, heirloom repair and updating, they even carry the top brands for men’s and women’s watches, such as Michele, Movado, Citizen and more.

The store works with jewelry of all types and materials, including platinum, gold, white gold, silver and stainless steel, and with precious stones, such diamonds, gemstones and pearls.

“As for custom work, we can make anything, and it’s done by hand,” Yorke said. “Our customers can see the wax and mold of their piece before it’s created, and they are really made to be part of the process. We can use a customer’s gold and stones to turn old, rarely worn pieces into new and modern masterpieces.”

In addition to the custom work that Designer’s Touch is known for, the store has a reputation as the go-to experts for simple to intricate repairs.

“Our repairs are done in house. We have two expert jewelers on premise,” Yorke explained. “We make sure that the work is concise and quick, and that each customer is satisfied with the piece before walking away. One of the big benefits of this is having one of the jewelers be able to work hand-and-hand with a customer if needed, such as an intricate ring sizing or something along those lines.”

One thing Yorke is especially proud of is that his family’s work has been on hand in the marriage of so many Wellington couples.

“We truly have a variety of just about everything, but if I had to specify something we specialize in, it would probably be bridal jewelry,” Yorke said. “We truly have such a wide variety of diamonds and settings that you won’t really see anywhere else locally.”

When not working, Yorke helps teach a drumline at Palm Beach Central High School, and his mother is an avid painter who enjoys riding horses, so the Wellington community is a great home for them and their business.

“Since being here, it’s like we’ve grown a new family because Wellington is such a tightly knit community,” Yorke said. “Everyone seems to look after each other, and growing our business here, we’ve been able to see so much of that first hand and are happy to be able to serve the Wellington family and will continue to do so for years to come.”

Visit Designer’s Touch Jewelry at 2891 S. State Road 7, Suite 120, in Wellington, or call them at (561) 790-6220. Business hours are Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Visit www.designerstouchjewelry.com for more information.

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Community Services Team Dedicated To Changing Lives In Wellington

Community Services Team Dedicated To Changing Lives In Wellington

Every municipality goes through the constant need to upgrade infrastructure to meet the needs of its population, but an integral part of making the Village of Wellington work for its people is the Community Services Department.

With a tightly knit group of individuals dedicated to helping their community, Community Services Director Paulette Edwards is proud of her team and the work being done every day.

“We’re a family that has come together to put our capes on and get out there and serve our citizens. They come up together with innovative ideas and always come to me with potential solutions, not just problems,” Edwards said. “I am the coach. I draw up the plays, and they go out and execute. They are passionate about what we are doing. It’s not just a job.”

Originally from Milwaukee, Edwards worked for almost 20 years with the City of Orlando, where she learned about some great programming initiatives and was excited to bring new ideas to Wellington.

Her team includes all demographics and ages, and the diversity reflects the population of Wellington itself. To meet the goal of becoming an inclusive community, the staff takes on a variety of tasks, including knocking on doors to help citizens in need. It was just such a case that led to Community Services Specialist Jenifer Brito saving a woman’s life.

“We got a call from village hall, and that’s when I started to go and check on her. We developed a relationship, and we went over and saw she had a really bad leg wound. I always take a fellow team member because we saw changes in her,” Brito explained.

Despite calling Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue, the woman refused assistance and headed to New York. “The hospital in New York contacted me because she listed me as a contact and had my business card,” Brito said. “She was discharged back to Florida on a Thursday. I worried about her all weekend. On Monday, we needed to go check on her.”

That visit ended with emergency aid and the woman being rescued after being unable to get up from the floor for more than 36 hours. Brito discovered that had they not called for help, the resident would not have survived much longer.

Supporting Brito in helping the woman was Community Service Program Coordinator Kyle Ostroff. It all happened on his first day with Community Services. After being with the village for nearly 10 years, coming over from the Wellington Aquatics Complex, Ostroff has found that his work in a new department has changed his point of view.

“I grew up in Florida since fifth grade, and working here has been eye opening,” Ostroff said. “When this position opened, I thought it was a match made in heaven, and I like working with kids. Right now, we are working on the SWAG (Students Working to Achieve Greatness) program, where we tailor internships toward the students’ interest.”

In all, communication remains key, and the long-term goal of Community Services is to be a one-stop shop for information regarding any programs and services offered throughout the Village of Wellington.

Project Manager Gloria Kelly, who focuses on neighborhood needs, is also the go-to person for social media and communication for the rest of the department. She spent time working for the village both in social media communications and the Wellington Village Council’s office. This experience gives her more than just a diverse foundation.

“I grew up in Wellington. This past August, I moved over to the Community Services Department,” Kelly said. “We want to be that first step, so people don’t have to go to village hall or a council meeting to voice their concerns. We want to make sure to have contact and make sure they are stopping by our office to learn what resources are there.”

In many cases, residents’ feel that they need to go to the top of the administrative chain to get help or answers, but Community Services is there to connect first-hand with individuals, whether they are seniors or youth, affluent or in need of help.

“Right now, I’m on a mission to make community outreach efforts to all of our neighborhoods,” Kelly said. “I work with Neighborhood Watch captains a lot, so there can be a liaison to our office.”

Whether the team members are new, like Program Coordinator Gus Ponce, or have years in service as Code Enforcement Officer Helen Archer does, the group works as a cohesive unit of people filled with passion for what they do.

“The project that I love is the food drive. I know where it is going. I know these tenants, who the residents are — seeing their kids, I know their parents — and it’s really great to bring a smile to their faces,” Archer said. “We have so much, and you really don’t know that there are people in our community who have so little. The relationship between them and the village, it’s great.”

Community Grants Coordinator Jim Fackrell has worked for Wellington for more than six years. His résumé includes massive projects in his former home state of Wyoming, but he finds that the work being done here yields great impacts.

“We fund youth programs, Americans with Disability Act improvements and now a housing rehab program,” Fackrell said. “The Great Neighborhoods Program is one of the more successful programs, in my opinion. The program provides a forgivable loan so residents can complete repairs and bring their home up to code with our help.”

Edwards is proud of both her team and the direction of the Community Services Department. As a leader with passion herself, it works well for the team in its proactive pursuit of reaching out to the community.

“We are the department that can let residents know about what services are out there to help them,” Edwards said.

For more information about Wellington’s Community Services Department, call (561) 791-4796 or visit www.wellingtonfl.gov/communityservices.

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USPA’s Matthew Baran Helps Market The Sport Of Polo To The Public

USPA’s Matthew Baran Helps Market The Sport Of Polo To The Public

Over the past several years, the United States Polo Association has built a talented communications department that is dedicated to marketing the sport of polo and highlighting USPA tournaments for members and fans. With his successful track record promoting the Flagler Museum in the Town of Palm Beach, Matthew Baran was brought on board, rising to the director of communications.

Baran, a native Floridian born and raised in Jupiter, works out of the USPA offices on Lake Worth Road next to the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame, spearheading an ambitious program promoting polo across the nation.

“We built a state-of-the-art web site focusing on tournaments and presenting polo like other major sports. This was accomplished through interactive scoreboards, a tournament calendar and dedicated web pages with rosters, history, video highlights and much more,” Baran explained. “The department continually pushes to elevate coverage across all media platforms and outlets, highlighting team and player statistics, amazing plays, player quotes and horse information.”

This includes a wide array of streaming video content.

“In 2017, we created the USPA Polo Network, livestreaming more than 125 polo matches throughout the year for free, across uspolo.org, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter,” Baran said. “All games can also be viewed on-demand through our YouTube channel or uspolo.org/video.”

When not working, Baran enjoys surfing or swimming at the beach, playing tennis, visiting local art shows, and hanging out with his family and friends.

“Ironically, I do not ride or play polo,” Baran said. “I grew up playing baseball, basketball and football, and received a scholarship to play baseball. My background in sports has helped with re-branding our digital platforms to cover polo like other major sports.”

While not a polo player, Baran is passionate about the sport with deep roots in Wellington. “Polo is one of the world’s oldest team sports that can be enjoyed by all ages, male or female,” Baran said. “There are approximately 270 USPA member clubs throughout the United States, and about 15 here in the Wellington area.”

It is an impressive sport, and he is certainly a polo fan.

“I continue to be mesmerized every time I watch polo,” Baran said. “The athleticism and hand-eye coordination of the professional players is something everyone must witness live. I would put it on par with hitting a 95-plus mph fastball in baseball, which has been described as the most difficult feat in sports. Players are riding flat out on the most agile horses in the world, bumping into other players and horses, all the while hitting a small ball through a goal with a bamboo mallet. The incredible precision in the goals and team play is what continually makes me revere the sport and push to get polo out to the masses.”

Baran believes that Wellington provides the opportunity to witness one of the most epic team sports anywhere in the world, and he invites area residents to, “get out and experience something new.”

To bring in more players to the sport, the USPA launched a “Learn to Play” campaign, which provides a platform for all member clubs to have a strong presence at uspolo.org.

“Whether you are interested in picking up a mallet and learning to play, or would like to watch some of the top players and horses compete in a USPA tournament, you can visit uspolo.org for more information,” Baran said. “And if you are in the Wellington area, you have to come watch a match of the Gauntlet of Polo at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. The level of competition and horses is unrivaled anywhere in the United States.”

The Gauntlet of Polo is comprised of America’s most historic and prestigious tournaments: the C.V. Whitney Cup, the USPA Gold Cup and the U.S. Open Polo Championship. “There is $1 million on the line, and the tournament series features 16 teams and more than 800 horses competing for a chance to be crowned Gauntlet Champion,” Baran said.

All the work that Baran is doing is directly in line with the longstanding mission of the USPA.

“The USPA was organized and exists for the purposes of promoting the game of polo; coordinating the activities of its member clubs and registered players; arranging and supervising polo tournaments, competitions and games; and providing rules, handicaps and conditions for those tournaments, competitions and games, including the safety and welfare of participants and mounts,” Baran explained.

Founded in 1890, the USPA is the national governing body for the sport of polo. With thousands of individual members, the USPA oversees 40 national tournaments. For more information, visit www.uspolo.org or call (800) 232-8772.

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Public Works Director Bruce Wagner Brings Winning Attitude To Wellington’s Staff

Public Works Director Bruce Wagner Brings Winning Attitude To Wellington’s Staff

Bruce Wagner, director of the Public Works Department for the Village of Wellington, believes that “without your team, you’re nothing.” This phrase is a mantra for everything, from his love of sports to his management style.

“I started out in the Parks & Recreation Department as the supervisor of the grounds,” Wagner recalled. “Then I went to operations manager of grounds and facilities, but the last 10 and half years, I’ve been here at the Public Works Department.”

His journey to Wellington was unusual for administrators working in the government sector. Wagner, a native of New York’s Long Island, spent most of his career working in construction and various forms of landscaping.

“I did have a partnership with my brother in landscaping for about 15 years. I went to college for commercial art, believe it or not, and then I started to gravitate toward landscape design,” Wagner explained. “Then I worked for a lighting company in Long Island and took over running the grounds.”

In 1996, Wagner and his wife moved to Florida for the first time. They chose Orlando, where he landed a position that ended up being a dream job — working for Walt Disney World.

“I was like a test project for Disney at that time. HR hired me directly off the street, which was not normal for them. It was a match made in heaven. I loved it; loved everything about it,” Wagner said. “Most landscapers don’t know all the characters and stuff about the park, but I did. I jumped in with both feet.”

A few years later, however, the Wagners moved back to New York to be closer to family and had their first child. Shortly after his daughter turned one, they moved back to Florida and brought the family with them this time. Living in Coconut Creek, Wagner started the next chapter of his career with humble beginnings.

“I worked for Home Depot in the outside garden area,” Wagner said. “It’s amazing the amount of people you start meeting. After a couple of months, I went to work for a management company.”

But 2004 was a difficult hurricane season. It meant Wagner was spending more and more time managing properties and away from home. His wife began researching positions further north and found an opening with the Village of Wellington.

“Within two weeks, I was hired, and I’ve never looked back. It has been a great experience coming here,” Wagner said. “We all care about each other. It is definitely a family because you spend all this time with each other. Communication is the key, and it has never been better.”

After nearly 14 years with the Village of Wellington, Wagner has found a second version of the happiest place on earth.

At approximately 46 square miles, Wellington is about the same size as Walt Disney World. Some days it’s like Tomorrow Land, some days it’s like Fantasy Land and some days it’s like Adventure Land. It’s never dull. “There is something new every day in public works, and we love it,” Wagner said.

The Public Works Department is crucial to the mission of Wellington.

“Public works takes care of the infrastructure, including roadways, canals, pumping stations, all the maintenance in any park, lights on the fields, mosquito control and all of the miles and miles of horse trails,” Wagner said. “We also do set up, break down and cleanup after large events. It’s always different here. We have 108 employees, and everyone pulls on that rope.”

Some of his proudest accomplishments for the department include twice earning American Public Works Association (APWA) accreditation, and the role played in the Parks & Recreation Department’s certification by the Commission for Accreditation of Parks and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).

“We are one of maybe nine entities in the whole state to get both of those awards,” Wagner noted.

Aside from pride over his work and team, Wagner also has a strong sense of family. Married for 29 years, Wagner and his wife are raising two children with a sense of love for sharing adventures.

“We are obsessed with snorkeling,” Wagner said. “It’s so much fun to go as a family. We love cruising and have been to Barbados, Bequia, St. Thomas and San Juan.”

Sports also plays a big part in Wagner’s everyday life and philosophy.

“I’m more of a player’s coach. I like to watch what’s going on before I really have to say something. There are so many times you can look back and say, ‘You guys did a great job,’ and don’t have to constantly tell them what to do. Let them go out and experience things. We all make mistakes, but if they can correct them right away, it’s phenomenal. I love this crew,” Wagner said. “Nothing is better than when you can grow your own, bring them up and keep them. When you can keep them, that’s a good thing.”

Wagner’s team mentality, combined with his respect for both administration and the crew he supervises, makes for an environment set up for sustainable success. From succession plans to cross training and preparation for the future in Wellington, the foundation keeps coming back to one thing — “without your team, you’re nothing.” Wagner sees a bright future filled with opportunity for his team at Wellington’s Public Works Department.

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