Sen. Aaron Bean highlights 2018 FL Legislative Session

Office of Senator Aaron Bean
March 23, 2018

Se. Bean speaks during a recent committee hearing.

Florida State Senator Aaron Bean (R) has issued a report citing highlights of the recently completed 2018 Florida Legislative Session. Bean said, “The 2018 Legislative Session has officially come to a close.  Although there were many important debates and positive outcomes this session, there is still great sorrow because of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy.  When the shooting happened, the Legislature made it a priority to keep our children safe, and do all we could to prevent this from ever happening again.

“It is always a great honor to serve you.  Please let me or my team know if we can ever be of assistance.  I look forward to seeing you back home in Northeast Florida.  Let’s go get ’em!”

Bean reported the Florida Legislature successfully passed an $88.7 billion balanced budget this year with $168.6 million in broad-based tax relief for all Floridians and a specific focus on those impacted by the recent hurricanes. He wrote, “It is important to allow individuals and businesses to keep more of their own hard-earned money, but we also maintained our commitment to improving the affordability and efficiency of Florida’s higher education system, which was just named #1 in the country by U.S. News & World Report in their recent rankings.”

The newly passed budget also features:

  • $3.3 Billion in State Reserves
  • A 7-Day Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday (June 1 to June 7)
  • A 3-Day Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday (August 3 to August 5)
  • Permanent Lowering of Commercial Lease Sales Tax
  • Unprecedented Per-Student Funding for K-12 Education
  • $50 Million in Funding to Repair Florida’s Beaches
  • Historic Investments in Student Financial Aid (Bright Futures Scholarship Program)
  • Over $100 Million in Funding for the Florida Forever Program
  • Pay Raises for State Law Enforcement, Firefighters and Probation/Detention Officers
  • Historic Funding of $50 Million to Nurture Florida’s Springs
  • Record Funding of $25 Million to Protect the St. Johns River and Keystone Heights

Some of the Northeast Florida projects that received state funding include:

  • City of Jacksonville Talleyrand Connector – $12.5 million
  • City of Neptune Beach Stormwater Culvert Improvements – $375,000
  • Port of Fernandina Improvements – $2 million
  • Northwest Jacksonville YMCA Teen Programming – $250,000
  • Nassau County Council on Aging Nutrition Support Program – $400,000
  • University of North Florida Operational Enhancement Funding – $4.1 million
  • ElderSource Home Delivered Meals – $400,000
  • St. Vincent’s Saving Lives Project – $624,105
  • Jacksonville School for Autism S.T.E.P. Program – $250,000
  • City of Fernandina Beach Downtown Shoreline Stabilization – $450,000
  • City of Jacksonville Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) – $250,000
  • Northeast Florida 21st Century Workforce Development – $975,000
  • City of Jacksonville Mayport Working Waterfront Revitalization – $360,000
  • Safe Harbor Boys Home Dock Replacement – $250,000

To contact Senator Bean, email

Leave a comment | Posted in General |

Nassau County road & lane closures: March 24-30, 2018

FDOT Media Release


Daytime closure from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday southbound near the Nassau County line and Georgia State line for Gateway sign and guardrail construction.

Barnwell Road at State Road A1A 
Nighttime lane closures Sunday through Friday, March 30 from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for road work.

Blackrock Road at State Road A1A 
Nighttime lane closures Friday, March 23 through Monday from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for road work.

State Road A1A from Miner Road to Amelia Concourse
Nighttime lane closure Monday through Thursday from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for traffic signal work.

Leave a comment | Posted in County News |

Task Force working to eliminate beach litter on Amelia Island beaches

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
March 23, 2018

Slide from Task Force presentation

Toby Tovar and Christine Harmon, representing the Amelia Island Beach and Marine Life Task Force delivered a slide presentation to the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) on March 20, 2018 to dramatically underline the consequences of litter for marine life and shorebirds. They provided information about the organization they have self-funded to bring awareness to the problem and try to enlist local government in enforcing existing regulations as well as providing increased public education on the size and depth of the problems affecting our beaches.

Christine Harmon and Toby Tovar

They have sounded an alarm regarding the potential for increased adverse impact on local beaches coming from rising tourism and residential population growth.

At the end of their presentation, they presented the FBCC with a specific request: dedicate the resources necessary during the Memorial Day through Labor Day beach season to enforce anti littering ordinances and clean beaches on a daily basis. They have asked for the creation of a beach patrol. Continue reading

Leave a comment | Posted in City News |

Nassau County School District To Host Inaugural Reverse Job Fair

Nassau County School District
Submitted by Brent Lemond
Director of Career & Adult Education

March 23, 2018 1:00 p.m.

On Wednesday, April 18th from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the Nassau County School District will host the area’s first ever Reverse Job Fair at the Lewis “Red” Bean Nassau Technical Center on the FSCJ Campus in Yulee.

For those that have previously participated in job or career fairs, a “Reverse Job Fair” is exactly what you might guess. Job seekers are stationed throughout the room, and Continue reading

Leave a comment | Posted in General |

Girl Scouts honored in Fernandina Beach; prepare for summer camps

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
March 23, 2018

At the March 20, 2018 Regular Meeting of the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC), Mayor John Miller proclaimed March 12, 2018, as, “Girl Scouts Day” and the week of March 11 – 17, 2018, as,”Girl Scouts Week” in recognition of 106 years of this great American organizations’ commitment to connecting girls to a world of possibilities in a positive girl-led environment where they are inspired to discover their passions and empowered to reach their full potential.

The proclamation noted that in 1927, the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council, Inc. was established in Duval County and began serving girls in Nassau County and Fernandina Beach in the 1960’s. The Girl Scouts Gateway Council is comprised of 4,000 adult volunteers who deliver Girl Scout Leadership Programs to nearly 10,000 girls. The Girl Scouts of Gateway Council, Inc. is the largest, girl-serving organization in Northeast Florida, and is nationally recognized as a premier leadership organization for girls.

Rachael Mueller of the Council and many Girl Scouts at all levels were on hand to receive the proclamation.

Summer Camp Preparations Underway

 Girl Scouts of Gateway Council (GSGC) recently announced 2018 summer camps open to girls of Northeast Florida.

This year, GSGC is offering summer camp experiences at two different locations. Camp Kateri near Gainesville and North Fork in Middleburg are the select sites for Girl Scout activities this summer and will offer a variety of session themes. Campers can earn badges including Archery, Gardener, Adventurer, STEM and Survival. Every girl will have the opportunity to make her summer story the most memorable yet.

Continue reading

Leave a comment | Posted in City News, Things to do |

Student from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School to speak at “March For Our Lives Amelia Island”

By Susan Hardee Steger
March 23, 2018 11:00 p.m.

Two  students from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School in Parkland, Florida will be in attendance at March For Our Lives Amelia Island, and one will speak to the marchers that gather at Fernandina’s downtown waterfront on March 24, at 10:00 a.m. The MSD students recently lost 17 members of their high school in a mass shooting.

Along with the MSD student speaker, marchers will hear from Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper, City of Fernandina Beach Chief Jim Hurley, and City of Fernandina Beach  Mayor Johnny Miller.

March For Our Lives Amelia Island is a “sibling” march in support of the national March For Continue reading

Leave a comment | Posted in General |

Board of County Commissioners Statement on Raydient/East Nassau Stewardship District

Nassau County Board of Commissioners
Press Release
Submitted by Shanea Jones
County Manager
March 23, 2018 9:00 a.m.

Editor’s Note:  During a Tuesday board meeting, the BOCC voted to issue a statement regarding the Raydient/ENCPA dispute. The following statement was received from County Manager Shanea Jones.

Recently, disagreements between Raydient Places + Properties(the current name for Rayonier Inc.’s development subsidiary) and the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) have become very public with regards to the East Nassau Stewardship District (ENCPA). One of the issues atthe forefront of this debate has
been public recreation space, particularly who will fund the public recreation space contemplated within the ENCPA.

In short, the BOCC believes Raydient and the ENCPA committed to not only providing the land for public recreation space inside of the ENCPA but also to fund any necessary construction for elements such as ball fields.Raydient, however, is asserting it was never under any obligation to fund such recreation space.

Raydient has stopped communicating with the BOCC regarding these issues and has refused Continue reading

1 Comment | Posted in General |

Weekly comments from Dale Martin

By Dale Martin
City Manager
Fernandina Beach
March 23, 2018

City Manager Dale Martin

An editorial in Wednesday’s edition of the News Leader raised several issues related to the lack of progress in repairing the City’s Marina, which was significantly damaged by Hurricane Matthew nearly eighteen months ago. Several of the issues require clarification.

The headline of the editorial is “The Money Pit Marina Business,” and further states, “The city runs a money pit called the Fernandina Harbor Marina. Though it is supposed to be a self-sufficient enterprise fund where ‘revenues are intended to fund department operations,’ the general fund of the city has regularly injected hundreds of thousands into the marina’s budget.” This is true: over the last five years, the City’s General Fund (which is primarily funded through property tax revenues) has contributed approximately $300,000 annually to support the Marina. For the past twelve years, the Marina’s expenses have exceeded revenues in every single year: ten of those years by more than $200,000. Based upon those figures, it’s not a money pit, but a money abyss!

Despite that bleak fiscal history, the editorial questions the City Commission’s and my reluctance to spend emergency funds or take out loans to do expensive restoration of the current facility. The estimated cost of repairs to the Marina (prepared separately by both the City’s maritime consultant and a FEMA Coastal Specialist) surpassed $6 million: the ENTIRE General Fund reserve is slightly over $5 million. That is exactly why I advised the City Commission to not spend the money until FEMA guaranteed reimbursement. It didn’t Continue reading

4 Comments | Posted in General |

City seeks grant for Simmons Road park

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
March 22, 2018 7:57 p.m.

There are about 12 parks on the north side of the city of Fernandina Beach and only one on the south side. And currently the southern-most playground is located at the Martin Luther King Center, which is located in the north area of the city.

Because city residents place a high value on parks and recreation opportunities, as evidenced by responses to the recent Fernandina Beach National Citizen Survey, the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) voted unanimously at their March 20, 2018 Regular Meeting to support a city grant request in the amount of $200,000 to the Florida Department of Environmental Project, Land and Water Conservation Fund to create a low-impact public park on city-owned property off Simmons Road.

The proposed park is in an approximately 6 and 1⁄2 acre parcel located within thirty acres of City property through which future nature and bicycle trails are being considered by the Fernandina Beach Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee.

The City of Fernandina Beach Parks and Recreation Master Plan documents that, “the southern portions of the City are where annexations and new subdivision growth is occurring…the central and southern areas (of the City) also have limited access to recreation facilities; specifically playgrounds, multi-purpose open spaces; and sports courts.

Should the grant be awarded, the FBCC has also authorized the use of City Parks and Continue reading

1 Comment | Posted in City News |

Newsracks: FBCC finally says it’s time to serve these whines

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
March 22, 2018

It took our nation’s Founding Fathers four months to draft the United States Constitution.

It took Michelangelo 4 years to complete painting the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

It took ten years for the United States to build the Panama Canal.

And now after more than 23 years of complaints and discussion, and multiple readings of multiple ordinances, the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) has finally passed an ordinance to deal with downtown newsracks.

2009 photo of stand alone news boxes along Centre Street
Proposed standard design

At their March 20, 2018 Regular Meeting the FBCC unanimously passed Ordinance 2017-23, which provides for a limited number of such boxes or racks at specific locations. And most importantly to many, the newsracks will be of a uniform design and color (forest green).

Although initially the FBCC seemed to want to consider additional styles and preferred the color black, they were persuaded that because of the declining interest in print newspapers as well as coin operated vending mechanisms, there were not a lot of choices in the marketplace. Foy Maloy, publisher of the only city print newspaper (the Fernandina Beach NewsLeader), had expressed his concern that the Ordinance would be considered punitive if distributors had to comply immediately with new newsracks or even if they had to repaint the traditional green boxes black. Continue reading

Leave a comment | Posted in City News |