By: Lisa Broadt, Treasure Coast Newspapers
INDIANTOWN — An argument over incorporation kept a mother and daughter, two of the community’s best-known residents, from speaking to each other for several months.
Jonnie Wall-Flewelling — a businesswoman, rancher and owner of the historic Seminole Inn on Warfield Boulevard — supported incorporation.
Her mother felt differently.
Iris Wall — an 89-year-old rancher and Indiantown's longest-living resident — opposed the major change to a community rich in "old Florida" history, according to Wall-Flewelling.
That sort of divide was common among Indiantown's 6,000 residents. Many hailed the formation of a municipality governed by a local Village Council, rather than the Stuart-based Martin County Commission, as a chance to improve the economy and quality of life.
Others questioned the need for an additional layer of government and said they feared special-interest groups would take over their rural community.
But now, nearly nine months after incorporation passed 576-337 and six months since unincorporated Indiantown officially became the village of Indiantown, the mother and daughter have found common ground, and both are cautiously optimistic about the future of Martin County's first new municipality since 1960.
“Council meetings are packed. People here are invested, but there’s an attitude of wait and see,” Wall-Flewelling said. “We’re country. We don't want talk. You have to prove to us what you can do. In practicality, I think it will take a year to get our feet under us.
"A lot of people want us to be successful,” Wall-Flewelling added. “If we can hold onto our history and culture, we’ll be a one-of-a-kind town.”
Indiantown's five-member Village Council hosted its first meeting March 21, and since then has held well-attended meetings every second and fourth Thursday of the month. None of the five — Mayor Susan Gibbs Thomas, Vice Mayor Guyton Stone and council members Jackie Clarke, Anthony Dowling and Janet Hernández — previously held elected political office.
But aided by seasoned government officials such as Paul Nicoletti, who is serving as interim village attorney; Teresa Lamar-Sarno, interim village manager; and Bonnie Landry, planning consultant, the council has plunged into the work of governing.
Nicoletti, former Stuart city manager, said watching and helping Indiantown build a government from nothing has been extraordinary…