Fernandina mourns the passing of Jonathan Hill – ‘The Pride of Stetson’

Mr. Hill NoSubmitted by Susan Hardee Steger
April 25, 2015 4:00 p.m.


Former graduates of Fernandina Beach High School (FBHS), family, and friends are mourning the death of Jonathan H. “Bud” Hill, who for 20 years served as band director of the award winning high school band. Mr. Hill was a Stetson graduate and for years his alma mater’s march “Pride of Stetson” was the FBHS fight song.

Mr Hill brought music to our town. During the 1950’s and 1960’s when the population of Fernandina ranged from 5000 to 7000, he taught hundreds of students how to play musical instruments. He was devoted to his students.

Although Mr. Hill was not a frustrated composer turned high school orchestra leader as portrayed by Richard Dreyfuss  in “Mr Holland’s Opus,” those who knew Mr. Hill saw a connection.  He was Fernandina’s Mr. Holland.

In addition to band practice five times a week, the marching band practiced after school on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, stage band was on Wednesday afternoons, and pep band on Friday afternoons. Mr. Hill’s schedule was full. In the summer, optional band practice was held and he taught private lessons. In the corner of the band room he placed numerous tools to tackle instrument repairs.  He was a dedicated teacher!

Mr. Hill was a natural conductor. He looked the part. He stood erect, held his baton high, and brought just the right balance, tone, and emotion to the piece he directed. There was no one better.

Band0002 Re do
Jonathan Hill’s FBHS Band lead by the Class of 1966.

Music requires discipline, and Mr. Hill made sure his students arrived at band practice on time and ready to go. The students were not always perfect. Some were prone to mischief (hurling spitballs at the bass drum was a popular sport), and rehearsals did not always go well. Yet Mr. Hill ended his band practice with a respectful, “Thank you very much.”

On occasion he displayed great wit. “We are a military band,” he often said. “We are not going to form a fish and play scales, or form a jackass and play Our Band Director’s March.” Mr. Hill spent hours on the football field preparing his students for upcoming performances with his megaphone always at his side.

There were trips to district and state contests where straight superior ratings in sightreading, concert band and marching band were the norm. The return trip home called for a great small town celebration. The incoming buses was met with a police escort. As sirens blared, a parade of cars and happy families followed to offer congratulations. It was a privilege and fun to be in Mr Hill’s band.

Although some of Mr Hill’s students still enjoy playing, most have not picked up an instrument since high school. All of the past hours of practice were not wasted. His students took with them a life long appreciation and love of music.  In addition, there were many life lessons learned with the greatest being through practice and hard work, you can accomplish most anything.

So “thank you very much” Mr Hill for sharing your love of music with your students and community, for the great memories, and for the many gifts you have given to us. We are forever grateful.

Funeral services will be held at 2:00 pm on Saturday, May 2nd at the First Baptist Church of Fernandina Beach with Pastor Jackie Hayes officiating. The family will receive friends one hour prior to service time. Mr. Hill will be laid to rest following the service in Bosque-Bello Cemetery with military honors. Oxley Heard is in charge of arrangements.

Editor’s Note: Fellow high school classmate and trumpet player Bruce Byrd is credited with gathering up many of Mr Hill’s old tapes and videos. They appear on a website www.brucebyrdmusic.com We thank Bruce for allowing us to share some of the recordings.

Mr. Hill playing saxophone, “When Sonny Gets Blue,” Accompanied by Chuck Jones on piano, Dickie Fox on bass, and Greg Haddock on drums.

Many former band members believe the most talented band was led by the Class of 1962.

And a transition Bruce put together from beginning band to a 1962 performance. Worth your time to listen.

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Part 2 Fernandina Beach City Commission Meeting – Fire Dept, Musicians’ permits, wayside horns, citizenship?

Submitted by Eric Bartelt
April 24, 2015 2:45 p.m.

Following four lengthy presentations made to the City Commission at their April 21st meeting (a proposed Trolley Loop, a proposed Performing Arts Tent at Main Beach, progress on Economic Development, and a CRA update), the Commission entertained comments from the public on items not on the agenda.

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Chett Lynker

First to address the Commission was Mr. Chett Lynker, President of the Firefighter’s union. Mr. Lynker told the Commission that he had good news and bad news, The good news was that this would be his last time he would appear before the Commission “on this issue”. The “issue” he was referring to is apparently the controversy regarding former Chief Higginbotham’s tenure as Fire Chief. He said the bad news is “it’s going to escalate to the next level because we are becoming very concerned that public safety is becoming more and more affected.” He provided no explanation as to why he would no longer appear before the Commission on this “issue” or what he meant by “escalate to the next level.”

He did provide, however, his version of a 60 day update, referencing City Manager Gerrity’s earlier promise to update the Commission within 60 days about progress in resolving the Fire Department problems. Mr. Lynker said the only thing that has happened in the 60 days is that a “false FDLE allegation has been placed on me, which has been proven false.” He also asserted that the “shuffling around of Chiefs” has changed nothing, that morale continues to Continue reading

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Fernandina Beach Commission Meeting – Trolley, Performing Arts Tent, Economic Development

Submitted by Eric Bartelt
April 23, 2015 4:50 p.m.

A Proclamation and Four Presentations

The April 21st City Commission meeting began with Fernandina Beach Police Department Chaplain Don McFadyen’s invocation in which he acknowledging the contribution of the many people who make government in Fernandina Beach function. He cited not only the five Commissioners, but the 200 employees, 25 managers and 100 volunteers who contribute through the various advisory boards and committees.


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Shrimp Festival Committee members receive proclamation.

Following the Invocation, Mayor Boner presented the only Proclamation of the evening, awarded to the 52nd Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival Committee. Nine members accepted the Proclamation and they were a happy bunch indeed, as they approach the end of the many months of planning they have put in to bring about this year’s Shrimp Festival.


Four presentations were on the meeting’s agenda:


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Ernie Saltmarsh

Mr. Ernie Saltmarsh proposed a Trolley Loop pilot plan that would expand Mr. Saltmarsh’s tourist oriented trolley business to include public transit. He thinks a trolley loop would help both residents and visitors navigate the city and that “residents could use it for day-to-day work, play, dining, shopping.” As an added benefit, the trolleys would help reduce the number of cars downtown.

The trolleys would run on a prescribed transit route, stopping to pick up and drop off passengers at 20 or so stops, for a cost of $3. The route would be a large loop running from the Marina to Main Beach along Centre St. and Atlantic Ave., then south on Fletcher to Sadler Rd. The trolley would then head west on Sadler to 8th St., then north on 8th to Gum. From Gum, the trolley would wend its way to Ash St. and back to the Marina. The pilot program would begin Continue reading

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Fairbanks House teams with Tesla Motors

Submitted by Fairbanks House
Theresa Hamilton, Owner/ Innkeeper
April 23, 2015 9:22 p.m.

Tesla Destination Charging now offered as new amenity for guests

Fairbanks House - Amelia Island, FloridaAmelia Island, Florida – April 22, 2015, Earth Day – Fairbanks House Bed and Breakfast has teamed up with Tesla Motors to provide an increasingly desirable amenity; Tesla Destination Charging.

Bill and Theresa Hamilton, owners of Fairbanks House since 1997, have made continuous strides to convert their inn to a model of engagement of environmentally-friendly practices without sacrificing the upscale nature of their award-winning bed and breakfast. The addition of the Tesla and universal charging stations is another important component in the inn’s green Continue reading

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Nassau Transit: Taking people where they need to go

Submitted by Anne H. Oman

April 23, 2015 7:49 a.m.

It’s 8AM, and phones are already ringing in the little yellow cottage on North Thirteenth Street that serves as the nerve center for Nassau Transit, operated by the Council on Aging of Nassau County (COA). Linda Jackson, Sonya Matthews, and volunteer Lisa Reese are taking calls, which are coming in fast and furious.

DSCN1634One caller is checking on the time of his pickup to go to a dialysis appointment. Another is asking about the bus to River City Mall. And another is making arrangements to be taken to Shands Hospital next month.

“We make appointments up to three months in advance, but they should call at least three days in advance,” explains Ms. Jackson. “We go to Jacksonville three times a week, to hospitals and doctors’ offices. It takes some juggling.”

As the customer service team juggles, driver Sam Pittman has already been on the go for about four hours. Every weekday, he leaves his home near Fernandina Beach High School at 4:40 AM, drives to the transit center on Thirteenth Street and “pre-trips” his 14-passenger white bus.

“I check the oil, and make sure the wheelchair lifts are ready by running them Continue reading

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Suspect charged with burglary to local bank

Fernandina Beach Police Dept
Submitted by Mark Foxworth, Deputy Chief
Telephone 904-310-3202

April 22, 2015 5:19 p.m.

Kerrick Peters

On Saturday, April 18th at approximately 6:30 pm, a subject went to the First Coast Community Bank located at 1750 South 14th Street and was able to gain entry into the closed bank. Once inside the subject rummaged through teller drawers and attempted to open cash dispensing machines. The subject was unsuccessful and fled from the bank. The act was captured by security cameras and details were shared with members of the Fernandina Beach Police Department.

On Tuesday, April 21st at approximately 2:20pm Sergeant Tracey Hamilton observed a subject at 15th Street and Lime Street that resembled the description captured by the security cameras. Subsequent investigation determined that the subject later identified as Kerrick Peters of Nectarine Street in Fernandina Beach was in fact the person who entered the bank. As a result he was arrested and charged with burglary.

For additional information contact Sergeant Chad Lee at 904-310-3215.

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Nassau County Sheriff’s Deputies arrest burglary suspect

Nassau County Sheriff’s Office
Press release
Submitted by Bill Leeper, Sheriff
April 22, 2015 1:44 p.m.

Miller 1
Edward Shawn Miller

On the morning of April 21, 2015 the Conner’s Service Center on US-301 at Booth Road in Callahan was burglarized. It was reported that the suspect entered the business by breaking a side window. The suspect broke the widow of a vehicle in the parking lot and also entered an unlocked vehicle. The suspect reportedly cut his hand when he broke into one of the locations as blood was found at the scene. The individual stole a car radio out of one of the vehicles and fled the scene. Video surveillance at the business showed images of the suspect and the vehicle he Continue reading

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Volunteer recognition luncheon to be held at Nassau County Council on Aging

Media Release
Submitted by Jeffrey B.McDowell
Communications & Marketing
Nassau County Council on Aging

April 22, 2015 9:32 a.m.

Council on AgingNassau County Council on Aging (NCCOA) will be recognizing the many volunteers who lend their time and skills assisting Nassau County seniors by holding a special luncheon at the Fernandina Beach Senior Center on April 30. The public is invited to join the Executive Board, Executive Director, staff Continue reading

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