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Firm marks 90 years in county

By Don Crinklaw, Forum Publishing

This month, the law firm of Rogers, Morris & Ziegler LLP will turn 90 years old. Not a bad feat considering Broward County is100 and Fort Lauderdale just turned104 this year.

“My gig is always to try to align myself and our firm with the good things in our community,” said Romney Rogers, a current Fort Lauderdale commissioner and one of the firm’s partners. “And 90 years is testimony that we’re doing something right.”

The firm was co-founded by his grandfather in 1925, while Rogers himself came on board in1978. His son, Romney Rogers Jr., nicknamed Cam, joined the firm in 2012.

His grandfather, Dwight Rogers, and Mercer University classmate John Morris flipped a coin to see whose name would come first in the firm name, he said.

The two founders had sons who also joined the firm, which had such an abundance of relatives by the late 1940s there wasn’t even room for the current Rogers’ two uncles. “They had to go up to West Palm Beach,” he said.

But after 90 years, they’re not confronting the same legal world as their fathers or grandfathers.

“The biggest issue is the technology,” Rogers said. “First the computer, now the hand-held computer. You can be connected 24/7 if you want, and that can put a little stress on you.”

“The firm’s longtime specialty, real estate, has become more complicated due to the growth of the industry and the complications of financing,” he said. “People want to be here — you can’t manufacture sunshine in your backyard — and Broward County is unique with its peaks and valleys. When real estate and the economy are down, litigation is up.”

Rogers was elected to the City Commission in 2009. He most recently took on a final term when he ran unopposed in January. But his status on the commission means the firm “can’t take any case that has anything to do with the City of Fort Lauderdale.”

Fort Lauderdale Comfort Suites converting to Four Points by Sheraton

By Arlene Satchell, Sun Sentinel

Change is coming to the Comfort Suites Airport & Cruise Port hotel in Fort Lauderdale, a longtime staple near Port Everglades.

The 112-room hotel at 1800 S. Federal Highway will become the Four Points by Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Airport/Cruise Port effective July 1, a hotel spokeswoman said this week.

The hotel plans to drop the Comfort Suites flag on Dec. 21 and operate independently as the Fort Lauderdale Airport/Cruise Port Inn through June 30, said Ellen Serra, director of sales and marketing.

The property is expected to get upgrades to convert to Four Points, but details weren’t available, Serra said.

Last year, the Comfort Suites’ owner – Shelini Hospitality Ft. Lauderdale LLC -submitted plans for an $18 million renovation and expansion that included a new 106-room Staybridge Suites and parking structure on the site. That plan appears to have been shelved.

Shelini acquired the hotel for $8.5 million in December 2010, according to Broward County property records.

The Fort Lauderdale hotel would become Four Points by Sheraton’s first hotel in Broward County and its third in South Florida. Starwood’s website lists the Fort Lauderdale hotel’s opening date as October 2016.

It will join Four Points by Sheraton Coral Gables, which opened in July, and the longer-operating Four Points by Sheraton Miami Beach.

Another South Florida property- Four Points by Sheraton Miami Airport – is set to open in April 2017, according to its parent company, Starwood Hotels & Resort’s website.

Lauderdale seeks ideas to put brakes on SE 17th Street traffic woes

By Larry Barszewski, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Neighborhoods along Southeast 17th Street east of Federal Highway have waited for years for relief from traffic that inundates the city’s southernmost entrance to its beaches and barrier island.

Besides beach traffic, residents have to contend with cruise ship crowds heading to and from Port Everglades, visitors attending Broward County Convention Center events and normal traffic in the heavily developed stretch between Federal Highway and the 17th Street Bridge.

City planners are emphasizing a “multi-modal” solution that includes expanding the future Wave streetcar system to the area, which would link to the airport and downtown. They’re also interested in making the corridor more biker-friendly and in encouraging people to park their cars and walk.

At a “My 17th Street” community meeting Monday to gather suggestions for street improvements, residents urged planners to just make the traffic flow better.

“Traffic is our main concern and that’s where we want the emphasis. Not on bicycles. Not on pedestrians,” businessman Jack Loos said. While planners emphasize bike lanes, “the other 98 percent of the people are going to have a hard time getting anywhere,” he said.

“You look at the age of a majority of these people,” Port Side Yacht Club resident Arlene Abajian said of the generally older group that turned out for Monday’s meeting. “Are they going to get on a bicycle, go to Publix, and get one or two shopping bags?”

The community would prefer to see port and airport traffic diverted from the corridor, but a previously proposed flyover is no longer being considered by the county. While they want less development along the corridor, city officials said landowners have property rights that have to be respected.

Marilyn Mammano, president of the Council of Fort Lauderdale Civic Associations and Harbordale resident, is encouraged that county and state officials are working with the city. Southeast 17th Street is a state road and the county controls traffic signals, so both governments need to buy into any proposed changes.

“I hope that all of our frustrations and all of our suggestions that have gotten nowhere for 10 years get put down on paper,” Mammano said. If people think traffic is bad now, it’s only going to get worse, she said.

People wrote down their thoughts – on side street intersections that need four-way stop signs, on stopping trucks from double-parking and blocking traffic, on creating a scenic bike route using secondary roads between Southeast 17th Street and downtown – on maps for planners to consider.

Officials will return in February with proposed strategies for improving the corridor and make final recommendations to city commissioners in April.

However, while residents may have given less attention to mass transportation and bicycles, Diana Alarcon said there has to be a change in mindset.

“It’s a paradigm shift,” said Alarcon, the city’s director of transportation and mobility. The city will do what it can to improve traffic flow, but the real solution is for more people to use alternate forms of transportation, she said.

CruiseWorld opens in Fort Lauderdale

Travel Weekly

Travel Weekly’s CruiseWorld officially kicks off today in Fort Lauderdale, with more than 1,000 members of the travel industry expected to be on hand.

This year, the three CEO Conversations will be keynoted by Carnival Corp. President and CEO Arnold Donald, who leads off the three-day conference on Wednesday; Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., who addresses delegates on Thursday; and Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, who speaks to the audience Friday. An onstage Q&A with Travel Weekly Editor in Chief Arnie Weissmann will follow each CEO’s address.

On Wednesday, leaders from the host agency community will take the stage to share amazing success stories from their members in a panel discussion titled “Commissions with Commas.” Panelists include Van Anderson of Avoya Travel, an American Express Travel Representative; Debbie Fiorino of CruiseOne and Cruises Inc.; Michelle Fee of Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative; Jackie Friedman of Nexion; and Meredith Hill of Gifted Travel Network.

Fain’s CEO Converations on Thursday will be followed by a CruiseWorld tradition: the Masterminds panel. This year the sales and marketing masterminds will be Vicki Freed of Royal Caribbean International; Eva Jenner of Holland America Line and Seabourn; Ken Muskat of MSC Cruises USA; Adolfo Perez of Carnival Cruise Line; Dondra Ritzenthaler of Celebrity Cruises; and Randall Soy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

And following Del Rio’s Q&A with Weissmann on Friday, eight cruise line presidents and CEOs will take the stage: Orlando Ashford of Holland America Line; Michael Bayley of Royal Caribbean International; Christine Duffy of Carnival Cruise Line; Lisa Lutoff-Perlo of Celebrity Cruises; Jason Montague of Prestige Cruise Holdings; Larry Pimentel of Azamara Club Cruises; Rick Sasso of MSC Cruises USA; and Jan Swartz of Princess Cruises.

Karl Holz, president of new vacation operations and Disney Cruise Line for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide, addresses attendees, will close Friday’s general session.

Events begin with training sessions for CLIA, VAX VacationAccess and Special Needs Group. This year’s CruiseWorld includes three days of jam-packed general sessions, more than 30 breakout sessions, a selection of 14 ship inspection options, five hosted meal functions and significant networking opportunities. A one-day exhibitor showcase will be held on Thursday with more than 150 suppliers on hand representing every segment of the travel industry.

Onsite registration is available through Friday.

Fake cop arrested by real cop after stopping motorist, Fort Lauderdale police say

By Wayne K. Roustan, Sun Sentinel

A man from Sunny Isles in northeast Miami-Dade is accused of impersonating a police officer during a traffic stop in Fort Lauderdale.

Michael Shutov, 35, was driving a white van in the 900 block of Davie Boulevard about 12:30 a.m. Saturday when he motioned to another motorist to pull over, according to the arrest report filed in the case.

The driver did not pull over until Shutov pulled out a red and blue police light, activated the van’s flashing hazard lights and parked behind the motorist, the report stated.

According to police, Shutov walked up to the man’s vehicle and told him to drive around the corner, off the main road.

Just then, a Fort Lauderdale police officer parked behind the two vehicles and approached the man who had been stopped by Shutov. The driver asked if Shutov was, “really a police officer,” the report stated.

A search of Shutov’s van turned up a black, 9mm-style BB gun, a police-style radio and a flashlight, investigators said. During the search, Shutov pulled a glass pipe from his pocket, threw it on the ground and crushed it with his foot. Tests revealed traces of cocaine in the pipe debris, police said.

Shutov was charged with impersonating a law enforcement officer, possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia, and evidence tampering. He remained in jail Tuesday on a bond of $3,100, records show.

According to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records, Shutov has prior convictions for cocaine possession and resisting arrest.

Tearful Veterans Day in Fort Lauderdale

CBS4

In Fort Lauderdale, on Veterans Day, there was patriotic music, honor guards standing ramrod straight and lots of tears as those who have served to keep America free were honored.

“Thanks to all these men and women, we live in the greatest country on earth,” Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler told a crowd of hundreds of veterans and civilians who gathered at the Veterans’ Memorial on the New River.

Richard Maggiore of American Legion Post 36 symbolically issued a one name roll call.

“Sergeant Jonathon “Doc” Peney,” Maggiore called out.

There was no answer.

Jonathon Peney, a Fort Lauderdale native, gave his life in the war in Afghanistan five years ago.

His widow, Kristin, placed a brick in his memory at the Fort Lauderdale memorial, as his mom held photos of her only son, who chose to be a soldier.

“The recruiter said ‘why do you want to do this, there’s no draft, why do you want to do this?’ and he said ‘I want to serve my country, I want to protect my mom,'” said Peney’s mother, Sue.

They called Jonathan “Doc” because he was a medic. He saved others’ lives through three tours in Afghanistan but lost his own life on a fourth tour.

“He fought hard to go on the deployment he went on, he wasn’t actually supposed to go on that one, but he didn’t want his boys to go without him,” said his wife, Kristin, speaking through tears.

When Peney went on the patrol he wasn’t scheduled to be on, his unit got into a firefight.

His mother described what happened next.

“One of his best friends was bleeding out on a rooftop,” Sue Peney explained.

Her son was killed as he ran through withering gunfire to help his fellow soldier. He gave his life, as he gave so much in life, his wife said.

“If he had something and you needed it more, it was yours,” Kristen Peney said, weeping.

Among those in the large crowd Wednesday was 93-year-old David Brown. He remembered those he fought beside in World War II.

“I had several buddies who didn’t make it back, and they’re going through my mind now. They just didn’t make it back, and I remember them and I love them,” said Brown, his voice choking.

His buddies who fought in Germany were young, just like Jonathan Peney.

“He was probably the most selfless person I’ve ever met,” Peney’s wife said, tearfully. “So I’ve tried to be like him ever since.”

Sgt. Jon Peney did not achieve his dream, which was to earn a medical degree while making the army his career. He received a Silver Star for bravery, posthumously, for his selflessness under fire.

With American flags blowing in a gentle breeze by the river in Fort Lauderdale, vets, their loved ones and grateful citizens paused to honor those who have served and celebrate their bravery. At the same time, they mourned the loss of those who did not return and recognized that, sadly, there has been no war to end all wars.