Heckscher Drive from Blount Island to the St. Johns River Ferry resurfacing project starting soon

FDOT Media Release
March 25, 2017 8:35 a.m.


The Florida Department of Transportation will begin a resurfacing and improvement project the week of March 27, 2017 along seven miles of Heckscher Drive (State Road 105) from Blount Island Boulevard to the St. Johns River Ferry terminal entrance.

The project includes resurfacing, road base work, 5-feet shoulder widening at various locations including Tabago Drive and Heritage River Road, shoulder sod placement, drainage improvements and new guardrails.

Construction will occur weekdays and weeknights with some occasional weekend work. Single lane closures with flaggers will be in effect during construction. No lane closures are allowed from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The $2.7 million project is scheduled for completion this fall. Preferred Materials, Inc. of Jacksonville is the contractor.

The Florida Department of Transportation urges motorists to always follow the speed limit and stay within the limits of orange cones and barrels while traveling through construction zones.

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Weekly comments from Dale Martin

Dale Martin
City Manager
Fernandina Beach

March 24, 2017 1:00 a.m.

City Manager Dale Martin

Near the end of Tuesday’s City Commission meeting, City Attorney Tammi Bach listed a series of state legislative bills that are directed at local governments. These issues warrant serious review and consideration from not only local government officials, but also residents of Fernandina Beach.

HB 13/SB 1770 (Community Redevelopment Agencies)- Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRA) were originally authorized by the State Legislature (Community Redevelopment Act of 1969). The enabling legislation described a series of findings and declarations of necessity as the basis for the legislation (and many of those conditions remain applicable today).

CRAs are created by local governments are typically funded through a mechanism called “tax-increment financing” (TIF). When created, a property’s value is recorded as a base line value. As time passes and property values increase (in theory), the new additional revenue is channeled to the CRA, not the local government. For example, a property pays $1,000 in taxes as related to the base line value. If a subsequent year’s taxes are $1,200, $1,000 goes to the local government and the additional $200 is directed to the CRA. No new taxes are levied, but the distribution of the Continue reading

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“No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”― Gideon J. Tucker

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
March 23, 2017 3:50 p.m.


The Fernandina Observer doesn’t usually focus on Tallahassee activities, not because they aren’t important, but because we have limited resources. This legislative session, however, we have become alarmed over the number of bills introduced that seem to gut home rule authority of chartered cities and counties throughout the state.

At the March 21, 2017 Regular Meeting of the City of Fernandina Beach (FBCC), City Attorney Tammi Bach updated commissioners on some of the pending legislation that could dramatically alter local government authority to regulate business and address matters of concern only to their community.

Bach, who met with members of the Nassau Delegation in Tallahassee last week, spoke to the following specifics:


  • Wireless communication facilities. Small cell towers and boxes would be able to be placed in city rights-of-way with no coordination or approval with local governments.
  • Vacation rentals. Because Fernandina Beach has an ordinance in place, Bach believes that the city should not be affected, but the state is once again trying to stop local governments from such regulation.
  • Transportation network companies. Local governments would be prohibited from regulating services like Uber and Lyft, but does not mention taxicabs.
  • Local government preemption (HB17). This would prevent any local regulation of businesses, professions, and has already been passed by 3 committees.
  • CRAs. The state is cracking down on Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRAs). Unless an existing CRA is paying off bonds, SB1770 would eliminate CRAs. An amendment is pending that would allow a local government to keep a CRA in place by a super majority vote of the governing body.
  • Drones.  Despite Police Chief Hurley’s request that the city develop a policy to deal with the growing drone issues, the state is pushing a measure to prevent local government from regulating drones at all.
  • Local business taxes would be capped at $25 per business. The city currently generates about $40,000 from local business taxes. The fee is $75 for a restaurant and $50 for other types of business.
  • Stormwater management preemption. No local government could pass a more restrictive ordinance than state law to set standards for clean water. The state would dictate how clean stormwater should be prior to discharge.


Continue reading

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Fernandina Beach selects Dix.Hite+Partners to develop waterfront master plan

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
March 22, 2017 2:12 p.m.


Fernandina Beach waterfront and downtown

After listening to presentations from the three top-ranked responses to the city’s RFQ seeking a waterfront master plan consultant, Fernandina Beach City Commissioners (FBCC) during their Regular Meeting on March 21, 2017, selected Dix.Hite+Partners as their first choice to help the city engage the citizenry in designing and implementing strategies to overcome years of conflict and inertia over waterfront/downtown redevelopment—and to find ways to pay for the improvements.

Commissioners instructed the City Manager and the City Attorney to enter into negotiations with the firm of Dix.Hite+Partners over terms for a professional services contract. The top 3 firms—Dix.Hite, TSW and GAI–were identified by a committee consisting of city staff and local citizens from 12 responses to the RFQ.

All three firms questioned the wisdom of the original waterfront planners in placing parking lots at the foot of Centre Street.

Dix.Hite+Partners stresses transparency in working with communities. They brought to fruition waterfront projects in both Jacksonville Beach and Daytona Beach. Members of their team have been attending various city meetings for months both in anticipation of bidding on the project and better understanding the issues and positions of commissioners and the public. A major part of their presentation involved their process of gaining consensus in the community. Continue reading

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Another clean audit for the City of Fernandina Beach

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
March 23, 2017 12:56 p.m.

Ryan Tucker delivers audit report.





Mr. Ryan Tucker of the accounting firm Purvis Gray and Company formally presented the Annual Audit Report to the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) at the FBCC’s March 21, 2017 Regular Meeting. Tucker said that their firm has delivered the city an unmodified or clean opinion, the highest level of attestation that you can receive from a Certified Public Accounting firm. The audit process began in October and concluded with the FBCC’s formal and unanimous acceptance of the report by Resolution.

While not reviewing the entire 75-page audit (available on the city’s website in the Document Center under the Finance/Audit tabs), Tucker touched upon highlights, including the fact that annual revenues were higher than budgeted, and expenditures for the same period were lower than budgeted. He reported that city departments did a good job of financial management. He also reported that there are now special events procedures in place as recommended by a separate audit last year. Continue reading

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Nassau County Insider March 23, 4:53 p.m. update on Bryceville Fire

Nassau County Insider
Update at 4:30 p.m.
County Manager’s Office
Sabrina Robertson

Bryceville Fire

3/23/17 @ 4:30 p.m. – Nassau County Emergency Management has indicated that the evacuation order has been lifted, power has been restored, and residents can now return to their homes. Active flare-ups and smoldering areas are not near residential structures. Emergency personnel will continue to work through the day and night until all fires are out.

If you are not a resident of this area, please stay away! Fire is still burning and there is still a large amount of first responders and heavy equipment in the vicinity. Extra people and cars make it difficult for them to navigate the area. We appreciate your understanding.

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CREED sponsors Health Fair at Peck Center – Saturday April 1

Press Release
Vicki D. Roberts
Administrative Secretary
Florida Department of Health – Nassau

March 23, 2017 10:00 a.m.



Date: Saturday, April 1st

Where: Peck Center

   516 South 10th Street

Fernandina Beach

Time: 4:00pm – 7:00pm

Changing a community’s health means giving everyone the opportunity to be healthy. Come and learn and be part of the movement for change!


Event will provide free

  • Testing: Blood Pressure checks, HIV testing
  • Informational pamphlets: Nutrition, Diabetes,

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Nassau Humane Society seeks donations in response to fast moving fire in Bryceville

Nassau Humane Society
Submitted by Marianna McIntyre

March 23, 2017 9:40 a.m.

Nassau Humane Society accepting donations of pet supplies due to Bryceville fire.

We at the Nassau Humane Society are deeply concerned about our neighbors in Bryceville and the other areas of Nassau County impacted by this very fast moving fire.   Families are being  evacuated to a local shelter with their pets.

Starting at 9 am today at our NHS Shelter, 639 Airport Road, we will begin taking dog and cat food, as well as cat litter donations. We will be available for you to simply drive through and we will unload your kind donations. We want to make it as easy as possible Continue reading

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The persistence of memory

Evelyn C. McDonald
Arts & Culture Reporter

March 22, 2017 11:35 a.m.

Hats off to Studio 209 at the Amelia Community Theatre. Once again, they have taken on a small play and made it blossom.

“Marjorie Prime” is set in a future where we can have programmed holograms that learn and repeat our memories to us when our own brains fail. It debuted in 2015 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama that year. The following year it was awarded the 2016 Horton Foote Prize for an Outstanding New American Play. It’s been made into a movie that was shown at the Sundance Film Festival. The author, Jordan Harrison, is also a writer on the Netflix TV series, “Orange Is The New Black.”
There’s a fine line between discussing this play and giving away too much for anyone who will be going to see it this weekend. I will try to toe that line carefully because the play unfolds in ways I didn’t expect.

As the play opens, we meet Marjorie. She is 85 and her memories come and go. She has a hologram representation of her husband Walter, probably as he was in his mid-40s. Walter Prime has been fed memories by Marjorie’s son-in-law and can relate those memories back to her. He also asks her about her memories so that he can acquire more of Continue reading

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Friends of the Library offers monthly computer classes

Friends of the Library Press Release
March 22, 2017 11:00 a.m.

Friends of the Library is offering a series of computer classes free of charge to teach the basics of PC’s, MAC’s, tablets, smart phones and other computer programs. These ongoing monthly classes will begin this Saturday, March 25th from noon to 1pm in the Fernandina Beach Library Tech Lab at 24 N. 4th St.

Each hour-long class will be taught by Deryck Burnett, owner of Megabite Computer Services. Mr. Burnett has been serving Nassau County for over nine years as a registered partner of Microsoft. This coming Saturday he will take the class through the process of choosing the right email provider. The first half of each class will be used for presentation of material and the second half will be hands-on.

Registration is necessary as class size will be limited to twelve participants. To register, please call the library at 904-530-6500, Extension 1.

For further information regarding this event, on joining Friends of the Library, or to donate, please visit the Friends of the Library website at www.fernandinaFOL.org.

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