Amelia Island revealed . . .

Submitted by Dotty Heritage
February 19, 2017 1:00 a.m.

“Loch Ness of Amelia” Photo courtesy of Dotty Heritage

Editor’s Note: What looks like Loch Ness is actually a palm tree floating in the tide.

Dotty and her family moved to Fernandina Beach from New Jersey in 1996. Dotty enjoys taking pictures of the beach, nature, wildlife and lighthouses. She loves to take pictures of things that make her smile.

Dotty is a member of The Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch as a permitted volunteer. She is also an Ambassador of the St. John River Ferry and National Park Service. She feels it is a privilege to live in paradise right here on Amelia Island.

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Sunrise Rotary’s “Wine and Food Tasting Event” to support local organizations

Press Release
Sunrise Rotary
Submitted by Peggy Albrecht

February 18, 2017 3:00 p.m.

The Rotary Club of Amelia Island Sunrise recently announced the recipients of proceeds from their upcoming Wine and Food Tasting Event. This is the fifth year of this popular night, which will feature six Mediterranean wines and food from ten local restaurants. Craft beer and spirits will also be offered. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, March 4th at the Atlantic Recreation Center located at 2500 Atlantic Avenue. Tickets are $75 per person and are available for purchase on line at www.rotarywineevent.com. The evening begins at 6 p.m. with tastings offered throughout the evening.

Crescendo Amelia will provide the music with their 13-piece band and vocalist performing jazz, big band and pop songs. There will be both silent Continue reading

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Alachua Street Rail Crossing: A brief history

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
February 13, 2017 1:00 a.m.

 

Alachua Street currently dead ends at the railroad tracks that run along Front Street.

There have been many attempts by many Fernandina Beach City Commissions over the years to open Alachua Street to vehicular and pedestrian traffic between Second and Front Streets. Many local citizens have claimed that at one time the street had been open, but recent research in City Archives indicates  that other than officially sanctioned temporary openings during some Shrimp Fests, any travel across the railroad tracks on Alachua Street over the past 40 years was done at the risk of the travelers.

There was a moment in time when the city had permission from the railroad to open the crossing and had both engineering and funding to support construction. However, political tides turned, and by 2013, the moment had disappeared.

From 1975 to 2013, many commissioners either personally supported or served on commissions that supported opening the Alachua rail crossing. The list includes:

  • Charles Albert
  • Lewis “Red” Bean
  • Jeffrey Bunch
  • Grace Butler
  • Eric Childers
  • John Crow
  • Dale Dees
  • Arlene Filkoff
  • Joe Gerrity
  • Thomas Goolsby
  • Greg Haddock
  • Mike Lamb
  • Bill Leeper
  • Bruce Malcolm
  • Bill Melton
  • Franz Mitchell
  • J.C. Mottayaw
  • Tim Poynter
  • Don “Beano” Roberts
  • Greg Roland
  • Ronnie Sapp
  • Milt Shirley
  • Ben Sorenson
  • Susan Steger
  • Ken Walker

The current Fernandina Beach City Commission is again focused on this issue. However, city elections will occur in November. It remains to be seen whether elected officials and the public will remain interested in opening Alachua Street to Front Street.

Continue reading

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FSCJ danceWORKS to Present 20th Annual Spring Dance Concert

FSCJ Media Release

 

Florida State College at Jacksonville’s (FSCJ) student dance company, danceWORKS, will celebrate 20 years at its annual Spring Dance Concert on March 9 and 10, 2017.

Produced by FSCJ Dance Repertory Company Director Professor Rebecca R. Levy, the concert will showcase athletic, dynamic and thought-provoking performances by danceWORKS students as well as notable alumni guests including Kimberly Collins, Kavin Grant and Tanesha Payne.

The Spring Dance Concert will also feature a variety of choreographic works from faculty members Rebecca R. Levy, Paige Ricci and Talani Torres; and new work by local choreographers Ellie Potts Barrett and DeWitt Cooper.

The event is open to the public. Tickets cost $10 ($5 in advance with an FSCJ student ID). To purchase tickets, visit the Nathan H. Wilson Center for the Arts box office or call (904) 646-2222.

WHEN: Thursday, March 9 – Friday, March 10, 2017, from 7:30 – 9 p.m.

WHERE: Florida State College at Jacksonville-South Campus
Nathan H. Wilson Center for the Arts
11901 Beach Blvd.
Jacksonville, FL 32246 Continue reading

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Nassau County Building Department now offering Online Permitting/Inspection Requests

Media Release
Nassau County Manager’s Office

February 18, 2017 9:00 a.m.

The Nassau County Building Department began utilizing software today that allows contractors to submit a permitting/inspection request online. Previously, the only way to request an inspection was to call the Building Department and make a request by telephone. By utilizing the website, contractors can now make requests quickly and conveniently. Inspection results are available the following day.

To locate the inspection page online, visit www.nassaucountyfl.com and select Building Department from the drop down menu under “Departments”. Once on the Building Department page, select “Permitting/Inspection Request” on the left side of the screen. Here you can also Continue reading

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March is Take Stock in Children Month

Press Release
Contact Dee Torre Kaufman
904-491-0644

February 17, 2017 1:00 p.m.

The Nassau County Board of County Commissioners and the City of Fernandina Beach will proclaim March 2017 as “Take Stock in Children Month” in recognition of their 20 years of service to Nassau County students. The celebration begins with the annual Light Up a Life Gala on March 2 from 6-9 pm at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort.

Take Stock in Children is a non-profit student mentoring and scholarship program that helps academically qualified low-income students break the cycle of poverty and reach their highest potential through higher education. Take Stock helps students stay in school, get better grades and, ultimately, succeed in college.

In its 20 years of service to Nassau County students, over 500 young people have Continue reading

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Weekly comments from Dale Martin

Dale Martin
City Manager
Fernandina Beach

February 17, 2017 1:00 a.m.

City Manager Dale Martin

A common question for many local government professionals is “How are we doing?” It is typically to believe that we are doing well, but is that necessarily true? Is it possible to scientifically measure community satisfaction rather than gauging our effectiveness based upon letters to the editors, blog comments, or social media posts?

The International City/County Managers Association (ICMA) has long advocated the use of the National Citizen Survey (NCS), a community-based survey developed in cooperation with the National Research Center. Much of the information about the NCS can be found on the ICMA web site. The NCS solicits feedback from residents across a spectrum of issues relevant to the community and captures residents’ opinions within the pillars of a community (Community Characteristics, Governance, and Participation) and across eight central facets of community (Safety, Mobility, Natural Environment, Built Environment, Economy, Recreation and Wellness, Education and Enrichment, and Community Engagement).

Surveys can be designed to be completed either through traditional mail or web-based techniques. The surveys are scientifically sampled (approximately 1,500-1,800 households) to be based upon a representative cross-section of the community population, with multiple contacts with those selected to ensure adequate response rates. A non-scientific web-based option is also available- the community simply promotes participation in the survey. The surveys can also contain customized questions and reporting options to address specific needs.

When completed, the NCS provides multiple reports to communicate the results in a way that enables every audience – staff, elected officials, business owners, and residents – to quickly find the information they need and want. The local results can also be compared to those of other similar communities. Testimonials from municipal officials have indicated that the survey improved service delivery, strengthened communications with community stakeholders, and helped leaders identify clear priorities for use in strategic planning and budget setting.

The City Commission has annually conducted a visioning session. The goals that have emerged from those visioning sessions have a principal focus on the short-term: what do we want to address in the next fiscal year? City staff then works to incorporate those goals into the subsequent budget. It is the long-term perspective that tends to get overlooked. Even more troublesome, long-term efforts are often derailed by short-term memories. A scientific survey can establish a thoughtful foundation for legitimate long-term planning.

An additional component of the NCS is the opportunity to have a facilitator work with City officials. The facilitator will, over the period of a half-day, work to use the compiled data to develop long-term strategies and offer recommendations. This function may serve as a useful complement to the City Commission’s short-term efforts at its annual visioning workshop.

Other options for the survey include an expanded survey size, demographic comparisons, and an in-person presentation of the survey results. According to the ICMA web site, other Florida communities that have completed the NCS are Cape Coral, Miami Beach, and Winter Garden.

I believe that we are performing our duties in Fernandina Beach at least at a satisfactory level, but I have nothing more than anecdotal stories to either support or dispute that belief. We typically hear more loudly from those who point out our shortcomings, but we actually do hear more frequently, but quietly, from many who believe we are serving our community well. It would be nice to have some data to address specific areas in which improvement is needed and to reinforce and promote our areas of success.

I will examine the costs associated with the survey and assess the value that such a survey could have for our community. According to the NCS timeline, it appears that the entire process is approximately four-to-five months. If the survey merits consideration, if we start the process in August or September, the results could be in place for City Commission consideration at its next annual visioning session in December or January.

I look forward to continuing the discussion of the conducting the NCS in Fernandina Beach with City Commissioners and others in the community.

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Local photographer to share pictures of Cambodia thirty years after the “Killing Fields”

By Anne H. Oman
Reporter-At-Large
Photos by Page Teahan
copyright protected

February 16, 2017 11:43 a.m.

As the small boat approached the fishing village of Kompong Phluk on Cambodia’s “Great Lake,” the Tonle Sap, Fernandina Beach photographer Page Teahan saw people bathing and washing their hair, children splashing, nets filled with fish. Children shouted “hello, goodbye,” the only English words they knew. Gazing up, she saw a mini-world built on stilts: a pig farm, a crocodile farm, a fish farm, and a whole village of wooden shacks – including the one where she would spend the night. She climbed the steep steps leading from the water to the house, and was greeted by her host, Mr. Hun. The house, with woven thatch walls and a corrugated metal roof, consisted of two large, open rooms furnished with hammocks and sleeping mats. The toilet was a seat with a hole emptying into the water below, and a barrel of water with a bucket and a ladle made up the bathing facilities.

“Fernandina Beach photographer Page Teahan saw people bathing and washing their hair, children splashing, nets filled with fish” Copyright protected.

Ms. Teahan will share her experiences – and her photographs – at an “Art Chat” at the Island Art Association on Tuesday, February 21. The program, which will begin at 6:30 pm, is free, and the public is invited.

The photographs – in color and black and white—depict the people and landscape of the small Southeast Asian nation, but this is no mere travelogue. Ms. Teahan journeyed to Cambodia in 2010 – thirty years after the Khmer Rouge genocide – to document the remnants of that reign of terror that killed some two million people as well as the day to day life of the people who survived it.

“My main inspiration for going to Cambodia was a book by journalist Jon Swain, River of Time,” Ms. Teahan told the Observer.

Jon Swain was in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, when it fell to the Khmer Rouge under the notorious Pol Pot in April, 1975. Some of Mr. Swain’s experiences were included in the film, “The Killing Fields.”

“I think he wrote the book in order to move through it – it was so painful,” she said. “Everyone was a victim of Pol Pot – he took out three generations. There are very few old people, and 80 percent of the population is under Continue reading

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European American Business Club hosts evening with Cal Atwood W W II Veteran

Press Release
European American Business Club
Submitted by Marc Williams

February 16, 2017 2:00 p.m.

We are very honored to have Cal Atwood as our keynote speaker for the February EABC meeting. Cal is a WWII veteran and Amelia Island resident with an extremely interesting past and plenty of great stories. As you can see by his bio he has been around the block a few times and has graciously agreed to speak to our group. Please join us at the February 21st meeting and give a warm welcome to Mr. Atwood.

Cal Atwood

Calvin Atwood’s poems have appeared in The New York Times, Leatherneck Magazine, International Poetry Review, The Texas Quarterly, The Crucible, Southern Poetry Review, The Golden Horn, Tar Heel Magazine, Pembroke Magazine and the Fernandina Beach News-Leader. He has served as President of the North Carolina Poetry Society and the Georgia State Poetry Society. He has been poet-in-residence for the North Carolina Arts Council. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II and was wounded in combat on Iwo Jima. He holds degrees from Lawrence University and Columbia University. He has taught and worked in school administration at the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., at Robert College, Istanbul, Turkey, at the Pembroke Hill School in Kansas City, Missouri, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and at Emory University in Atlanta. He lives today on Amelia Continue reading

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