Submitted by Stephen Mintz August 28, 2016 1:00 a.m.
Editor’s Note: Stephen Mintz, MD, a long-time Amelia Island snow birder retired from pediatric practice after 35 years. He remains active as an adjunct faculty member of the LeMoyne College Physician Assistant School in Syracuse NY.
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Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) invites students and members of the public to attend the traveling exhibition “Role Models” in August and September.
“Role Models” is a survey of contemporary ceramics, with each artist showing one exemplary piece. The exhibit offers a range of exciting examples in sculptural and functional clay work. Organized by the Morean Arts Center and Florida CraftArt in St. Petersburg, the exhibit features 45 ceramic works representing the exciting range of sculptural and functional clay works being created by contemporary artists in Florida and beyond.
This exhibit offers students a unique opportunity to see the lineage of prominent contemporary ceramic artists and to witness firsthand the ways in which technique and aesthetics are passed from professionals to generations of students, affecting not only the personal work of an individual but entire trends within the medium. “Role Models” recently returned from exhibition at the prestigious National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA), the world’s largest all-ceramics conference.
Seventeen artists currently working in Florida were selected to participate in “Role Models.” Each artist was asked to choose one person who mentored them and another person whom they have mentored. Many of the artists have chosen craftspeople from elsewhere in the country – people they studied under in school, look to for professional advice or artists they have mentored who have moved on to successful out-of-state careers. Continue reading →
Submitted by Mary Pitcher
Friends of the Library August 26, 2016 1:00 p.m.
You’ll giggle, laugh and maybe even cry when six area storytellers compete for the coveted title of Island Tales Story Champion on September 30 at Burns Hall, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in downtown Fernandina Beach.
This year’s theme “I Was So Embarrassed!” promises to be a rousing, hilarious storytelling event. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and libations first, then sit back and be regaled by some of the area’s finest storytellers.
The reception begins at 5:30 p.m. with island-themed delights sponsored by Lulu’s Restaurant and a cash bar. The storytellers take the stage at 7:00 pm to entertain you and earn your cash votes.
The stakes are high as audience members will vote with cash for their favorite storyteller. Tickets for votes will be on sale during the event with proceeds helping fund the Friends of the Library Capital Campaign for the newly renovated Fernandina Beach Library.
Competing for champion bragging rights are: Doris Davis, a beach lover, actress and director of Christian education at First Presbyterian Church; Geoffrey King, a Scottish lad who found his calling on the theatrical stage; Frank O’Donnell, a champion for clean air laws who has appeared as a “talking head” on every major television network; Marsha Dean Phelts, a former librarian for the Duval County Public School system and Florida Genealogy Collection of the Jacksonville Public Library system; Thea Seagraves, a former mime and current Education Director at the Amelia Island Museum of History; and Doug McDowell serving as Master of Ceremonies, an accomplished amateur actor, struggling playwright, and all-around supporter of the arts.
If you want to vote in person before Florida Primary Election Day (August 30), time is running out. Early voting locations are open today and tomorrow—August 26 and 27—between 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. It is already too late to request a mail ballot, unless you have an emergency. If you have already received a mail ballot, remember that it cannot be returned to a polling place. Your ballot must be received by the Supervisor of Elections by 7:00 p.m., local time, on Election Day (August 30) in order to be counted. For all information relating to voting in the Primary Election, visit the Nassau County Supervisor of Elections website www.votenassau.com.
As of this morning 9,270 Nassau County voters—15 percent of registered voters– have already cast ballots. The most active precincts have been: 202 – 22.64 percent; 301 – 18.63 percent; 201 – 17.81 percent; 102 – 17.02 percent. No precinct has registered below ten percent.
Polling places open at 7:00 a.m. at all locations. Unlike early voting, on Election Day you must vote in your assigned precinct. Your opportunity to vote will end at 7:00 p.m. on Primary Election Day, August 30, 2016.
Margaret Johnson Nassau County Extension Courtesy Agent II 4-H Youth Development August 26, 2016 10:09 a.m.
The 2016-17 class of Youth Leadership Nassau is taking applications, any 10th and 11th grade students who are interested in leadership and community activities, who are interested in addressing the issues confronting Nassau County, and who have a “B” or better GPA are invited to apply.
Fernandina Beach August 26, 2016 1:00 a.m.
I had the opportunity to attend my first Florida League of Cities conference last week. The Florida League of Cities is the advocacy organization representing the 412 cities in Florida. Cities continue to be incorporated throughout the state, with the most recent incorporation being the City of Westlake in June, 2016. More cities have incorporated since 1990 (25) than incorporated during the 1970s and 1980s. The annual conference is an opportunity to gain additional knowledge related to municipal operations and issues and to meet with other city officials from throughout the state.
Westlake shares the distinction of being the least populated city with two other communities, Weekie Wachee and Marineland- all have a population of five (yes, 5). Approximately sixty percent of Florida cities have a population less than 10,000, with the median population being approximately 5,700. In other words, Fernandina Beach is not a small city by Florida standards. The most populated Florida city is Jacksonville- 861,252.
The first training session that I attended was related to Florida ethics, “sunshine,” and public records laws. It was critical for me to attend this session as such laws greatly vary from state to state. Municipal elected officials are required to annually complete four hours of specific continuing education in ethics. Although as an appointed official I am not required to complete such training, my membership in the Florida City and County Managers Association was conditional upon completing similar ethics training (which was completed several months ago, but I believed this session would provide additional details related to Florida statues- and it did).
The basic principle of Florida ethics is that public officials hold their positions for the benefit of the public, and not for private gain. The subjects related to ethical behavior include gifts, unauthorized compensation, misuse of office, financial disclosures, business relations, and conflicts of interest or relationships.
Many of the issues can be accommodated by simply using common sense, but, as is sometimes the case, common sense is not necessarily common. One item of interest that I learned was that members of any state, county, or municipal governmental board, commission, or agency are not permitted to abstain from voting unless a legal conflict is disclosed. In some of my former communities, some officials would simply abstain so as not be tied to a controversial vote, but that practice is not permitted in Florida.
The “sunshine” law training offered additional insight into public meetings. A “meeting” is specifically defined as any communications between two or more board members of the same board on any matter which may come before that board. In other words, the interactions of board members of the same board are significantly restrained: any conversations related to an issue that is not only currently before the board but any that may also later come before the board are forbidden. These restrictions apply to local governing and advisory boards, but not to staff meetings.
I meet with City Commissioners on a regular and routine basis, and during those meetings, the Commissioners often share insight regarding issues pending before the Commission. Florida statues prohibit me from sharing those conversations with other Commissioners: it is unlawful for any person to act as a liaison or conduit of information between board members. As with many other aspects of the digital era, the use of social media platforms is beginning to draw increased scrutiny- communication programs and sites such as Twitter and Facebook can be utilized to surreptitiously communicate with others to circumvent the provisions of state statutes.
As with most legislation, several exemptions to public meetings exist- discussions related to specific pending litigation, labor negotiation bargaining teams, and security system meetings. Social functions with colleagues on a board are permitted, but again, as long as no discussions occur on matters before or what may appear before the board. Penalties for violating public meeting laws include criminal and non-criminal penalties and fines.
With regard to public records, it is the policy of the state that all government records are open for personal inspection and copying. The City receives many requests for public records- as of today, nearly three hundred such requests have been filed with the City Clerk. All responses to public records requests must be completed within a reasonable time. As described previously, some exemptions to public records exist, but those exemptions must be specifically defined in state statutes and very narrowly applied.
I look forward to sharing more of more League of Cities experiences in a future column.
I was just about to conclude that at my senior age, and with years of experience as an elected official at both the municipal and county levels, I had “seen it all.” But then Nassau County Politics reared its ugly head, and I was forced to realize that in Nassau County there is no absolute maximum for hypocrisy.
The most recent example involves Clerk of Court John Crawford and his merry band of obstructionists, Commissioners Steve Kelley and George Spicer. For years Crawford has been a thorn in the side of the BOCC by using every opportunity to promote himself to the voters and taxpayers as the county’s only honest official. All of us have seen his self-serving articles (masquerading as news) wherein he questions the accuracy of the financial figures supplied by the Office of Management and Budget, and assures citizens and taxpayers that he alone has the only plan that has no tax increases, but still balances the budget and addresses crumbling infrastructure.
In an effort to actually see the Crawford Plan, Commissioner Junior Boatright extended an invitation to Crawford and his followers to attend a Budget Workshop following the regular Continue reading →
Fernandina Beach Police Department
James T. Hurley, Chief August 24, 2016 3:22 p.m.
The Fernandina Beach Police Department is continuing to seek answers to the apparent hit and run fatality that occurred last summer. Initial autopsy results indicated that William Ragsdale, who died early in the morning in a dark Sadler Road parking lot, was likely struck by a passing vehicle.
Dr. Madeline Roa told Fernandina Beach and FHP investigators that the fatal head trauma was apparently caused by high velocity impact consistent with sudden Continue reading →
Evelyn C. McDonald
Arts & Culture Reporter August 24, 2016 3:00 p.m.
Last weekend, I went to stay with my daughter and grandchildren at the JW Marriott in Orlando. The hotel features a Lazy River in the pool area. For those of you not familiar with this latest in pool development, it’s basically a long track where you can float along on a current using floats that look like inner tubes. I was anxious about this part of the weekend because of my first experience with a Lazy River.
Last year we went to the Hilton Bonet Creek where they also had a Lazy River. My daughter explained that you grabbed a float and let the current take you along the river. That was the theory. The practice was quite a bit different. At least for me. Continue reading →
Axia Public Relations
www.axiapr.com August 24, 2016 2:00 p.m.
Local real estate agency Century 21 John T. Ferreira & Son, lead by broker Bobby Ferreira, and its fellow franchisees of the iconic Century 21 brand, earned all four industry-leading customer satisfaction awards in the annual J.D. Power 2016 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study.
For the third consecutive year, the brand swept the awards by receiving the highest ranking among national real estate firms across four customer satisfaction segments in the study, including:
– First-Time Home-Buyer Satisfaction
– First-Time Home-Seller Satisfaction
– Repeat Home-Seller Satisfaction
– and tied for the top spot in the Repeat Home-Buyer Satisfaction category.
“Our local real estate office has served Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach and Yulee since 1919 and we couldn’t be more honored to provide outstanding service to first-time home buyers and sellers and repeat home buyers and sellers,” Ferreira said.*