clean-up-volunteers_riviera-beach_web.jpgRIVIERA BEACH — Mayor Thomas A. Masters of Riviera Beach returned to Washington, D.C., again invited by the White House, this time to talk about a subject of great importance to him: jobs.

Masters attended a day-long symposium at the White House on “Promoting Economic Recovery and Job Creation through Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships” organized by Obama administration officials.

The invitation followed an August trip Masters made to the nation’s capital, also at the invitation of the White House, for the administration’s “Community Leaders Briefing Series.” That session brought together 150 local leaders from across the country with the aim of fostering dialogue between them and their national counterparts.

That trip also led to planning for a workshop, in conjunction with the federal Small Business Administration, which will take place at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, at the Riviera Beach City Hall, 600 W. Blue Heron Blvd.

Masters met with SBA officials in August and, after discussing with them his work force development initiatives, they offered the agency’s support, the mayor’s office said in a statement.

The workshop will feature Jerry Flavin, assistant administrator of the SBA’s Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He will bring with him officials from the SBA’s regional office in Miami and representatives from Palm Beach State College’s Small Business Development Center in Boca Raton.

More than 200 small business owners, leaders of faith-based organizations and neighborhood groups have been invited to attend.

“We have to put people back to work. I am proud of [President Barack Obama’s] focus on job creation and I will continue to do what I can in Riviera Beach,” Masters said in the statement. “Now, with Washington’s help, I can complement the job fairs with programs that have worked across the country.”

The mayor’s next job fair is scheduled for Oct. 13 and will be aimed at ex-felons.

In other Riviera Beach news, more than 75 volunteers braved high heat and intermittent heavy rain to pick up trash in Monroe Heights neighborhood on  Sept. 17 as part of the International Coastal Cleanup. Honey Smith was one of them.

Smith, a teacher at Palm Beach Lakes High School in West Palm Beach, joined a half-dozen of her students in walking several streets in the neighborhood, vinyl gloves, garbage bags and pick-up sticks in hand. It was hot or wet, she was alternately sweating or soaked, but she said  enjoyed it.

“You can see your accomplishments,” Smith said after she returned to Monroe Heights Park, the event’s staging area, with several bags of trash. “That’s what makes the difference for me: to be able to see how you’re contributing. It was actually fun.”

The cleanup was jointly organized by the office of Riviera Beach City Councilwoman Billie E. Brooks and Neighbors United, one of the oldest and largest neighborhood groups in the city.  It was the fourth time they’ve partnered on neighborhood cleanups, working in conjunction with Keep Palm Beach County Beautiful Inc.

KPBCB is an affiliate of the national Keep America Beautiful campaign and organizes cleanups and beautification projects all year countywide.

The International Coastal Cleanup is the world’s largest one-day cleanup of the marine environment and is sponsored by The Ocean Conservancy. While it has focused for the last 26 years on cleaning up the nation’s waterways and water systems, it supports neighborhood cleanup in an effort to remove trash before it gets into bodies of water.

Brooks said the cleanups are critical.

“They show we have pride in our city, they show partnership — we have young people from several cities in Palm Beach County — and they show persistence,” she said. “We are determined to get our city cleaned up.”

Though the weather kept volunteer turnout low, the outcome was more important, said Riviera Beach resident Bernice Wooten, the event’s site coordinator and a member of Neighbors United.

“Cleanliness is next to godliness,” Wooten said. “Unfortunately, we can’t have these cleanups more often.”

Corporate support for the cleanup came from Lowe’s of Lake Park, Waste Management, Publix and Sam’s Club.

City of Riviera Beach small business workshop

WHEN: 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29

WHERE: Riviera Beach City Hall, 600 W. Blue Heron Blvd.

For more information, call City Hall, (561) 845-4095.


CLEAN UP VOLUNTEERS: Several volunteers turned out on Sept. 17 to help clean up the Monroe Heights neighborhood in Riviera Beach as part of International Coastal Cleanup.