Weekly Comments from Dale Martin

Dale Martin
City Manager
Fernandina Beach
October 21, 2016 1:00 a.m.

Dale Martin City Manager
Dale Martin
City Manager

With Hurricane Matthew driven northward and the return of the temperate northeastern Florida weather and sunshine, the last few weeks have been a flurry of activity following the storm.

The City’s special debris contractor began residential debris removal (mainly trees) roughly four days after the storm. Crews were deployed to the north end of the City to work south and the south end of the City to work north. As of Tuesday this week, approximately four hundred tons of debris (estimated to be about thirty percent of the total debris) had been removed from the streets. With the cooperation of Rayonier Advanced Materials through the use of its scales, the debris is weighed and then transported to the City’s Airport. At the Airport, the material is ground into wood chips.

The final destination of the wood chips varies. Some of the chips may be transported to a landfill. Some may be provided to the local mills. The City may keep some for uses around the City (playgrounds, weed control, etc.).

Given the amount of debris, a second “debris collection tour” will begin next week, again from the north south and the south north. I expect that after the second tour, regular yard waste collection will resume by the City’s solid waste hauler, Advanced Disposal. As with the first tour, please keep the following issues in mind. Debris must be placed in the right-of-way, not on private property. Debris must not be placed in plastic bags. Separate yard debris (vegetation) from any building material- only those two types of debris are being Continue reading

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Amelia’s Ironman King Buchanan recounts successful journey

Bruce Buchanan

By Bill Pennington
October 21, 2016 1:00 a.m.

He’s never had a windmill dunk, scored a college or NFL touchdown, or turned the double play. He had no formal coaching, access to a training manual, and admits that he’s never been great at any single sport. But, 76-year-old Bruce Buchanan is likely Amelia Island’s most accomplished athlete.

His feats are not what drive mainstream sports media, make national headlines, or create appearances on the Tonight Show. However, Buchanan’s two decades of athletic success are glowingly documented.

Officially, Buchanan is an Ironman. And, Bill Gates has some money, Adele hits the high notes, and Pinocchio features a unique profile. Simply referring to Buchanan as an Ironman seems understated since one becomes an Ironman by completing a single event consisting of a 2 ¼ mile swim, 112-mile bike, followed by 26.2-mile run.

bruce-buchanan-runningConsider that between 1983 and 2006, Buchanan completed 15 World Championship Kona, Hawaii Ironman competitions, finishing in the top three in age in all but three. He has won his age group seven times, and was the first person over 50 years old to complete the event in under 10 hours, which he did in 1992 at age 52. The average athlete finishes an Ironman in about 12 hours. And, besides the intensity of hours and hours of competition, the Kona championship has the added pleasures of 80-plus degree heat, crosswinds and hills through the island’s lava fields.

“I’ve always been a good athlete, but not great at any one sport,” said the soft-spoken Buchanan. “It just so happened when you put the three sports of swimming, biking and running together I was able to be better than good.”

Actually, he was much better than good.

During his competitive 23-year run, the retired Periodontist won the Triathlete-of-the-Year, The Master’s Triathlete-of-the-Year (for those over 40) and the Grand Master’s Triathlete-of-the-Year award (competitors over 60). He is the only person to win all three awards as recognized by the world’s triathlete governing body.

“I always had the feeling that I was going to win. I wasn’t cocky to anyone, but I was confident I was going to win my age division. Triathlons are so mental. I’m not the smartest guy around, but I am mentally tough, and if it wasn’t for my back injuries, I would still be competing,” Buchanan, an Amelia Island resident since 2000, said. This year’s Kona Ironman will take place on October 8.

A four-year collegiate swimmer, a young Buchanan never imagined he would be a triathlete, but injuries, combined with coercing from friends spurred the transformation.

“When I graduated from college (1962) I stopped swimming competitively completely,” he said, instead feeding his competitive spirit with tennis, golf and handball; obviously, not exactly precursors to triathlon success.

But, when the years of competition took its toll with some back injuries, Buchanan started running on the advice from a doctor who said it would help alleviate some of his back pain.

“I really didn’t like running at all,” he said. “I’d only run about two miles five days a week, and I really didn’t enjoy that. When I look back on it, it really wasn’t much.” But, a handball friend encouraged Buchanan to train and run the 1976 Atlanta’s Peachtree 10K Road Race. So, begrudgingly he pushed his weekly mileage to prepare for the event. “I can still remember how sore I was when I started running four instead of two miles, then six instead of four. I really didn’t like it, but I wanted to do well in the Peachtree,” he said.

And, he did well… finishing the 10K in 39:36, which was in the top 10% of all finishers. From there the ultra-competitive Buchanan trained and competed in a marathon, finishing his first 26.2-miler in 3 hours and 15 minutes. Now, with his weekly mileage around 80 miles per week, he continued to compete in marathons, lowering his times to a personal best of 2:42. In perspective, less than 2% of marathoners ever break three hours.

So, by 1982 at age 42, Buchanan had two-thirds of a triathlon in his arsenal with swimming and running, but he did not even own a bicycle.

“I had a group of guys that I used to run 20 miles with every Sunday. A few of them started bringing bikes to use after running. I had no desire to add biking – – the running was enough for me,” he said. “But, one day one of the guys brought an extra bike and insisted that I ride with them, so I said okay.”

Oprah would have called it an “Aha” moment.

The next thing you know, Buchanan had trained on his home streets of Atlanta and signed-up for the Savannah Half-Ironman (1.2 mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1 mile run) and inexplicably finished fourth overall. “I finished and felt like I found my sport. When you put all three together (swim, bike, run), I could do them all pretty well,” he said. “You could say that I was hooked.”

He began training for the full Ironman.

“I had to train myself, because back in the early 80’s there were no training manuals or coaches around to help you train for Ironman. And, the biking was especially difficult because there were no bike lanes at that time, so you had cars crowding you off the road, yelling stuff at you and even throwing things. I think they felt like we were invading their space,” he said.

So, in 1983, Buchanan went to Kona for his first Ironman, finishing third in the 40-44 men’s age division. However, the experience was not exactly a sunset luau.

“I finished and felt like ‘that was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.’” He said. “There was no way I was ever going to do that again. It was just too much.”

But, like many competitors, after the initial shock associated with the body aches and pains subsided, Buchanan’s competitive juices kicked-in and he vowed to do it again and do it better. Thus, the run of Kona starts and Ironman acclaim between 1984 and 2006 had started.

“If you had told me after that first race that I was going to be doing another 15 of those races I would have told you that you’re crazy. That is one tough event,” he said. “But, when I decided to keep doing them, I didn’t show up to lose.”

Today, with an assortment of back and knee injuries eliminating running and biking, Buchanan exercises by swimming. He is also a locally known guru for coaching area triathletes or simply individuals seeking to improve their swim stroke.

His advice for those looking at doing a triathlon is to train in difficult conditions. “I tell them to ride their bike when it’s windy and train when it’s hot because it will make them mentally tough,” he said… like their coach.

Editor’s Note: William (Bill) Pennington is a former sports columnist for the Savannah Morning News and Florida Times-Union. He was honored as Writer-of-the-Year for the Road Runners Clubs of America as well as a Associated Press award winner and Georgia Sportswriter columnist winner. He is a contributing writer for the News-Leader. We thank Bill for his contribution to the Fernandina Observer.

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Development at 14th & Lime Streets moves a step closer

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
October 20, 2016 4:15 p.m.



The Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) during its October 18, 2016 Regular Meeting, approved on First Reading and somewhat reluctantly four ordinances that open the way for a Planned Unit Development on 24 acres of land located on the southwest corner of 14th and Lime Streets. The Ordinances were approved on a 4-1 vote, with Mayor John Miller in opposition. Controversy has dogged the development for two years because of environmental concerns over filling wetlands and changing density requirements.

While some citizens strongly opposed development because it would require wetlands to be filled snd therefore run afoul of city policy opposing such action, others claimed that the wetlands were low-grade, currently giving rise to stagnant water and mosquito breeding grounds. The potential developer planned to build 260 units on the property, with monthly rents for the smaller units starting at $1,000, thereby meeting longstanding community demands for affordable, moderate income housing on the island.

As a result of commission action, initial approval has been given for the following actions:

  • Annexing into the city the portion of the property (9.26 acres) located in Nassau County;
  • Vacation of the S. 12th Street unopened public right-of-way totaling approximately 865 linear feet between Lime Street and Nectarine Street;
  • Approving the Large Scale Future Land Use Map (FLUM) Amendments that would result in approximately 22.4 acres as High Density Residential (HDR) and 2.0 acres as General Commercial (GC);
  • Approving zoning map changes that would result in approximately 22.2 acres as High Density Residential (R-3) and 2.0 acres as General Commercial (C-2) and a PUD Overlay for the entire 24.2 Acres.

The ordinances will require a Second Reading and public hearing before they can be given final approval. Continue reading

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Fernandina Beach moves forward on 8th Street land use changes

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst

October 20, 2016 4:01 p.m.



On Second and Final Reading during their October 18, 2016 Regular Meeting, the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) unanimously approved without further discussion four Ordinances dealing with land use changes in what has been described as the 8th Street Corridor. Commission action followed two years of study and recommendations from city staff and citizens to remove impediments to improving the appearance of 8th Street as the main entry to the city, encourage redevelopment of abandoned or vacant properties and move toward a more pedestrian and bicycle friendly city. Changes were also reviewed b the state. Information pertaining to all efforts, including meeting minutes, maps and other visual representations of the opportunities presented by the changes may be found on the city’s website: www.fbfl.us/8thStreet.

By their actions, the Commission amended the city’s Comprehensive Plan to create a new zoning district (MU-8); changed the Future Land Use Map to assign Future Land Use Map Designations of 8th Street Small Area Mixed Use (8MU) and Central Business District (CBD) to approximately 67 acres located in the 8th Street Small Area; adopted modifications to the Land Development Code pertaining to the 8th Street Small Area; and assigned a Zoning Category of 8th Street Small Area Mixed Use (8MU) and Central Business District (CBD) to approximately 67 acres located in the 8th Street Small Area.

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Book donations needed for Friends of the Library Fall Book Sale

Friends of the Library
Press Release
Mary Pitcher
Communications Chair

October 20, 2016 1:15 p.m.

Large drop box for book donations at 516 South 10th Street.

Friends of the Library (FOL) needs your books, CD’s and DVD’s now, so volunteers can get them sorted and organized for the annual November sale. Contributions may be left in the book “drop box” under the covered walkway in front of Peck Head Start at 511 S. 11th St. For larger donations call Patti Kirschling (904-310-9134) or use the collection area in the Peck School, 516 South 10th Street.

Go in the front entrance (Fir Street between S. 10th and S. 11th Streets), turn right and look for the Friends of the Library sign on your left, next to the stairwell.

Please, no text books or encyclopedias. Books will be accepted through October 31.

FOL’s spring and fall book sales feature thousands of books in dozens of categories, plus audio books, CD’s and DVD’s. One hundred percent of the proceeds pay for specialized databases, network access, books, e-books, periodicals, and other materials to keep the Fernandina Beach Library current. The next sale will be November 10-12 at the Peck Center.
For more information on this and other FOL projects, visit www.FernandinaFOL.org.

Large drop box for book donations at 516 South 10th Street.

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Island Photography offers treat for canned goods for Barnabas

Submitted by Lisa Burghardt
Island Photography
October 20, 2016 3:00 p.m.

Juliana Santos, one of the many trick or treaters visiting Island Photography on Halloween.

Free Halloween Photos for Trick or Treaters! Island Photography is having their 8th Annual Halloween Food Drive for the Barnabas free food pantry on Monday, October 31st from 5:00-7:00 p.m.

Receive a free digital photo via e-mail with a donation of a non-perishable/canned food item. The Best Costume winners will also receive an 8×10 print.

Island Photography is located at 1401 Atlantic Avenue (the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and 14th Street) in Fernandina Beach. For further information please call 904-261-7860.

Name of person in attached photo:Juliana Santos


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Pulling a thread . . .

Evelyn C. McDonald
Arts & Culture Reporter

October 20, 2016 11:00 a.m.

museum-community-appreciation-day“Pull a thread from the archive and a story pops out,” Jayne Nasrallah said. Jayne is the Collections Manager at the Amelia Island Museum of History. She says that archives are stories. I might add that the thread you pull might not connect you to the story you had in mind.

Jayne Nasrallah, Amelia Island Museum Collections Manager

Jayne said that people visit the archives for various reasons. Some visitors have recently bought property here and want to know its history. Some are interested in people for genealogy purposes or are doing research for a biography. Novelists come looking for information about the south end of the island during the 1880s.

I wanted to write about the archives. I had done a photo of the courthouse fountain for the museum’s summer show of architectural details in Fernandina. So it seemed logical to see what the archives had to say about the fountain. The museum’s archives are accessible on the website and I found several references to the fountain and to the courthouse. I told Jayne that I was doing a piece for the Observer and gave her the reference numbers of the items I’d found. When I visited, she had located the boxes that contained the items I’d mentioned.

There were 9 items concerning the fountain, including photos, construction drawings, and an item on the dedication of the fountain to Mrs. Aubrey Williams. All well and good but pretty mundane, right? Here’s what I meant by saying that the thread you pull may turn Continue reading

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Nassau County Board of Commissioners places temporary ban on beach driving on Amelia Island

Press Release
October 19, 2016 10:45 p.m.

nassau-county-sealAt today’s meeting, the Board of County Commissioners approved a temporary ban on motor vehicle driving on County beaches until further notice due to the amount of debris from Hurricane Matthew. This ban includes cars, ATV’s, three-wheelers, four-wheelers and dirt bikes. The public will be notified when this ban is lifted.

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FBCC approves changes to Planning Advisory Board on First Reading

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
October 20, 2016 9:00 a.m.

dscn7686After two continuances, the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) took up an ordinance dealing with the composition of the city’s Planning Advisory Board (PAB) at their October 18, 2016 Regular Meeting. On First Reading commissioners approved on a 4-1 vote Ordinance 2016-34, brought to them at their request by City Attorney Tammi Bach. Commissioner Len Kreger, a former PAB chair, opposed the changes.

City Attorney Bach drafted the changes based upon the expressed will of the FBCC and following research into similar boards serving Nassau County, the city of St. Augustine (St. Johns County) the town of Orange Park (Clay County) and Jacksonville (Duval County). The seven key points of the modification include: Continue reading

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