Fernandina Beach may see short term rentals downtown

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
March 26, 2015 6:40 p.m.


First Baptist Church's former educational building at 15 N. 5th Street
First Baptist Church’s former educational building at 19 N. 5th Street

Local businessman and Fernandina Beach City Commissioner Tim Poynter appeared before the city’s Technical Review Committee (TRC) this morning to discuss a proposal to convert the existing First Baptist Church education building located at 19 North 5th Street into a lodging facility. The property is zoned C-3, Central Business District, and is located between Centre and Alachua Streets. Poynter has proposed associated parking at the northeast corner of N. 4th Street and Alachua Streets, where a church parking lot has existed for over 20 years as a nonconforming use in a medium residential (R-2) zoning district.

Lot at the corner of N. 4th and Alachua Streets that has served as parking lot for First Baptist Church
Lot at the corner of N. 4th and Alachua Streets that has served as parking lot for First Baptist Church


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Dr. Peggy A. Bulger – Fernandina resident named Buckley Scholar

Press Release
March 26, 2015 1:00 p.m.

Peggy Bulger - s  Copyright 2014 Steve Leimberg - UnSeenImages.Com A8436198-1
Dr. Peggy A. Bulger award recipient.

The Cooperstown Graduate Program, Cooperstown Alumni Association, and Buckley Selection Committee are honored to announce Dr. Peggy A. Bulger as the 2015 Bruce Buckley Scholar. Peggy Bulger will speak on April 16 at the Fenimore Art Museum Auditorium at 7:30 PM. Bulger, a resident of Fernandina Beach, Florida, will discuss her extraordinary career in folklore. Her lecture, entitled Florida Folklife: Searching for Authenticity in the Land of Disney, focuses on field experiences from her work as a folklorist in Florida.

A native of Albany, New York, Bulger was inspired by the various musical folk traditions that surrounded her in upstate New York — including the music of Pete Seeger, Larry Older and Sarah Cleveland. . After graduating from The Milne School, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Fine Continue reading

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Police Captain David Bishop graduates from prestigious FBI National Academy

Fernandina Beach Police Department
Press Release
Submitted by James. T. Hurley, Chief

March 26, 2015 12:40 p.m.

Police Captain David Bishop

Among the two-hundred-twenty (220) law enforcement officers that graduated from the FBI National Academy Program at Quantico, Virginia on March 20th, Fernandina Beach Police Captain David Bishop became the first city officer to complete the program in more than a decade. The 259th Session of the National Academy consisted of men and women from across the United States, and also included members of law enforcement agencies from the District of Columbia, 24 international countries, six military organizations and five federal civilian organizations.

Internationally known for its academic excellence, the National Academy Continue reading

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Nassau County Sheriff’s bloodhound puppy has a name

Nassau County Sheriff’s Office
Press Release
Submitted by Bill Leeper, Sheriff
March 26, 2015 12:24 p.m.

Angel Bloodhound Puppy1 CroppedThe Nassau County Sheriff’s Office has named the new Bloodhound puppy that will soon be on watch in Nassau County. The 9-week-old canine cop was donated to the K-9 unit at the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office Jail and Detention Center.

The pup will eventually be trained to search for missing and endangered children and adults. But, since this little female puppy came without a name, the sheriff’s office held a “Name our Puppy Contest.”

Sheriff Leeper and his K-9 Team reviewed over 1200 names that were suggested and finally selected a winning submission. Kansas Hogan, from Mrs. Bullard’s 3rd grade class at Callahan Intermediate Continue reading

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Grand Theft Suspect Arrested

Press Release
Fernandina Beach Police Department
Submitted by James T. Hurley, Chief

March 26, 2015 11:10 a.m.

Jamie Lee Call

Paul Voisinet left his beach bag unattended for a few minutes as he walked back to his car for a moment. As he was returning to his spot on the beach he observed an individual entering a white car with a bag that looked strikingly familiar. He quickly confirmed that his own bag was now missing from where he had left it and he attempted to confront the man that was now leaving the beach parking lot in a white Impala with NC tags.

The suspect opted to quickly flee the area of Main Beach, driving in a reckless Continue reading

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Tourism: We & Them – An opinion

Submitted by Malcolm Noden
March 25, 2015 1:00 p.m.

FOpinions_ SmallerMuch has been said and written about tourism and its wide ranging effects upon local communities. One important issue concerns the question of how we feel about, and behave towards tourists, and research shows that when it is our home community to which lots of tourists come to visit we display several specific responses towards them. This is important since our individual and collective attitudes and behaviors towards inbound visitors has a profound immediate and delayed impact upon their stay with us. When they feel welcomed, and see and feel the spirit of hospitality at work, they enjoy their stay and, as a result, when they go back to their home towns they speak warmly about their experiences with us to their friends and neighbors.

What then is this thing we know as the spirit of hospitality, and how can we be a part of it? It may be as simple as that moment when we spot tourists downtown waiting to cross Centre Street and we stop our car, and with a gentle wave to them we let them cross in front of us. It may be when we are standing in line at a local store, we see the tourist glancing around looking puzzled and we step up and ask if we may help them. It may be that we meet them at the beach, and they ask for our recommendation for a local lunch spot. In fact, most of our interaction with visitors comes out of a spontaneous willingness on our part to show a friendly face and attitude while seeking to help another human being. In short, as your Grandma used to put it, “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met”.

PrintOf course, the other side of this coin is that how visitors speak and behave towards us has a long term effect upon us, and how we react to having many visitors in our midst. If they are friendly and are interested in us and our community it is easy to act accordingly. But, if they are rude and impatient it is hard for us not to respond in kind. If they talk down to us as mere “locals”, it is hard not to get our collective back up, and think, if not say aloud, if they believe that they are better than us, they should go back where they came from.

In short, the wider reputation of our community as a desirable destination may rest upon what we say and do today, and even if we sometimes find it difficult to be pleasant to some visitors, we perhaps should give some thought to moderating our negative attitudes and behaviors, in recognition of what is known as an intelligent self-interest. Translation, we all reap what some of us sow!

Malcolm Noden 1Editor’s Note: Malcolm A. Noden, who is the (Retired) Senior Lecturer in Management, Economics, Marketing and Tourism at the School of Hotel Administration, at Cornell University, is a well known expert in the applied economics of hospitality and tourism policy, promotion and development.

During his thirty-two year tenure at the Hotel School at Cornell, Mr. Noden was the Chair of the Academic Integrity Hearing Board, and served as an advisor to several successive Deans on various international education outreach programs. He taught several courses including, Resort & Condominium Management, Airline Management, Franchising, and two Tourism policy and development seminars. Noden’s publications include a series of articles detailing the Federal tax and partnership consequences of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, in the Cornell Hotel & Restaurant Quarterly, in which new forms of ownership and asset based management, were explored.

Previous to his Cornell experience he served for many years in the operational aspects of the travel industry having been both an owner, and a manager of wholesale and retail travel agencies in the United States. He has had managerial experience in large international agencies as Thomas Cook & Sons, Ltd. and American Express Company, Inc.

Noden is also a consultant to several major companies in the private sector
Including, Banco Nacional de Mexico, and several resort hotels, both in the Caribbean and the United States.


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Florida Department of Health in Nassau County addresses county health rankings

Media Release
Florida Department of Health – Nassau County
Vicki D. Roberts, Administrative Secretary
(904) 548-1800 x5328

March 25, 2015 8:30 a.m.

Florida Health NassauNASSAU COUNTY – The Florida Department of Health in Nassau County recognizes the value in measuring health outcomes and today acknowledged the sixth annual County Health Rankings & Roadmaps tool released by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This study highlights the many community factors that influence health and uses established data, much of which is available from the department at www.floridacharts.com.

“Nassau County continues to improve in overall rankings and specific Continue reading

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Marlin & Barrel Distillery Grand Opening

Submitted by Gerry Clare
Roving Reporter

March 25, 2015 1:00 a.m.

Another foggy morning did not dampen the “spirits” of those who attended the Chamber ribbon cutting and grand opening of the new distillery at 115 South Second Street on Friday, March 20th. Roger and Heather Morenc, founders and owners of the new business were busy at the tasting bar after the ceremony as customers packed the newly renovated building for the first batches of vodka and rum.

Gin 2
Heather & Roger Morenc & Frank Hoffmeister

The former warehouse has distillery in the rear with the stills, oak barrels and bottled spirits, visible through the window at the front in the bar area. The Continue reading

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Tough Times, Strong Women – Tales from old Fernandina on April 18


Amelia Island Museum of History Information Release

Submitted by Jennifer Harrison

It pays to keep a regular eye on the Amelia Island Museum of History’s webpage, www.ameliamuseum.org . New and exciting programs, events, and trips are occurring more and more frequently thanks to the enthusiastic, hard working staff and volunteers. One event you will need to get tickets for as soon as possible is coming up on April 18th – and in an unusual location!

Imagine sitting on a protected deck on the banks of Anderson/Clarke/Egan’s Creek in the most historic spot on our island! You are enjoying good food from Lulu’s restaurant and sipping a glass of wine on a beautiful Spring evening as the tide comes in!

Then Dr. Bill Birdsong takes us back to the tumultuous, chaotic years of our history. You are sitting in old Fernandina in Spanish La Florida where life was rarely peaceful and always difficult – especially for the women. Continue reading

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City Proclamations for March 2015

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
March 24, 2015 10:00 a.m.

Girl Scouts listen intently as Mayor Boner declares March 12 "Girl Scouts of the USA Birthday"
Girl Scouts listen intently as Mayor Boner declares March 12 “Girl Scouts of the USA Birthday”

The Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) joined other communities in recognizing the Girl Scouts of America on their 103rd birthday. Local Girl Scouts opened the March 17, Regular FBCC Meeting by leading commissioners and audience members in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. Mayor Ed Boner proclaimed March 12, 2015 as ‘Girl Scouts of the USA Birthday’. Suellen Ramshaw accepted the proclamation on behalf of the Girl Scouts of Nassau Unit, Gateway Council. She indicated that the last time the Girl Scouts received city recognition was in the 1990’s, and thanked commissioners for their recognition of the value of their program.

Bretta Walker receives proclamation declaring March 16-22 Flood Awareness Week.
Bretta Walker receives proclamation declaring March 16-22 Flood Awareness Week.

Mayor Boner also read a city proclamation declaring the week of March 16-22, 2015 as Flood Awareness Week. Bretta Walker of the city’s Community Development Office accepted the proclamation that reinforced the city’s efforts to continually improve standing within the Community Rating System, promote awareness and increase citizen knowledge about flood risks, the availability of flood insurance and protection methods. In accepting the proclamation, Walker said that the city’s current flood rating is a 6, which “is truly exceptional,” but the city is striving to achieve level 5, a rating enjoyed by very few cities. The current rating provides city residents with a 25 percent break on their flood insurance rates.

Suanne Thamm 4Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.

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