Amelia Musical Playhouse presents “Grand Hotel “

Amelia Musical Playhouse
Press Release
Submitted by Jill Dillingham
June 25, 2019 4:00 p.m.

To purchase tickets click here.

Nicholas Jankowski performs as the young and charismatic ladies man, Baron Felix von Gaigern and local librarian Laurel Seymour performs as the tortured aging ballerina Elizaveta Grushinskaya. Photo courtesy of Stephan Leimberg,

This July, Amelia Musical Playhouse brings us back to the 1920’s at the picturesque Grand Hotel in Berlin. In this gorgeous musical, we witness the stories of six guests who check into the Hotel and experience the fun, romance, adventure, tragedy and, most important, the Life they experience as a result.

The cast is led by talented Florida Southern College junior and AMP newcomer, Nicholas Jankowski, as the young and charismatic ladies man, Baron Felix von Gaigern. Opposite Jankowski is local librarian Laurel Seymour as the tortured aging ballerina Elizaveta Grushinskaya. AMP veterans Jeff Packer and Adeline Bishop are exquisite to behold as the sickly Jewish bookkeeper, Otto Kringelein, who is searching for Life and Flaemmchen, the beautiful young typist pursuing Hollywood fame. Rounding out this powerhouse cast are Barrett King as Hermann Preysing, the upright businessman faced with an impossible choice, Heather Harding as Raffaela O’Tanyo, a simple dresser with a secret wish, Stovie Weems as Erik Litnauer, the sweet concierge whose wife is having a baby, Mark Cameron as the mobster disguised as a Chauffeur looking to rectify certain debts and Ron Price as Colonel-Doctor Otternschlag, a cynical World War II veteran who serves as the show’s narrator. With extravagant dance numbers and fun abounding, Grand Hotel is going to be a show you will not want to miss!

Show dates are July 5,6,11,12,13 at 7:30 pm, and July 7 at 5:00 pm. Tickets are available in the box office at 1955 Island Walkway, 904-277-3455, or through our website at

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Rayonier seeks to amend complaint v. Nassau County

June 25, 2019 3:31 p.m.

The Fernandina Observer has obtained a copy of Rayonier’s motion to file an amended compliant against Nassau County for violations of Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Law.  As a public service, the Motion and the Amended Complaint are available below.  The Fernandina Observer will print the County’s response when it is received.

Rayonier+Raydient is alleging in the court filing that through discovery and “depositions of current and former County employees,” that additional Sunshine Law violation evidence was obtained including Nassau County Commissioners meeting in private.

To view Rayonier’s motion to file an amended complaint and the complaint click here.


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Amelia Schoolhouse Inn debuts in Fernandina Beach

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 25, 2019 12:40 p.m.

Getting sent to The Principal’s Office isn’t what it used to be in Old Schoolhouse No. 1 in Fernandina Beach, FL.  After a major historic preservation and rehabilitation project that has received both local and state recognition, the ugly duckling of a building has been transformed into a swan: the first-class Amelia Schoolhouse Inn.   And, oh yes, The Principal’s Office has become an upscale bar, visited by inn patrons and locals alike.

Those who remember how the old building looked just a few years ago must look upon the renovated structure with wonder.  To say that the old schoolhouse had fallen into disrepair is an understatement.  The outside was characterized by failing brick walls; the interior was dark, dank and gloomy. 

Owner Spence Romine sits in lounge chair in The Principal’s Office

Spence Romine, along with his business partner Sam Van Voorhis, tackled the transformation of the long neglected schoolhouse.  This is the sixth hotel that Romine has transformed, but the first historic preservation project.  He has concentrated on small hotels, from Anna Maria Island to Lake Tahoe and Sedona.  One of his properties at Lake Tahoe — the Deerfield Lodge — was rated number one in the nation for customer service.  His service manager at that facility — Amanda Mitchell — has come on board to manage the Amelia Schoolhouse Inn.

A native of south Georgia, Romine has lived in south Jacksonville with his wife and children for the past three and a half years.  After selling his Anna Maria Island hotels, he was Continue reading

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Nassau County recognizes employees for years of service

By Cindy Jackson
June 25, 2019 10:00 a.m.

The June 19, 2019 meeting of the Board of County Commissioners began with County Attorney Mike Mullin and Commission Chair Justin Taylor recognizing and thanking employees for their years of service to Nassau County. Certificates were presented to:

Susan McKenney (Library) 20 years
Matt Waggoner (Fire Rescue) 20 years
Jeffrey Lott (Fire Rescue) 21 years
Dawn Bostwick (Library) 24 years
Curtis Wilder (Road & Bridge) 26 years
Ken Barr (Fire Rescue) 29 years

Pictured left to right: County Manager, Mike Mullin; Chairman, Justin Taylor; Curtis Wilder; Jeff Lott; Ken Barr; Dawn Bostwick; Susan McKenney. Photo courtesy of Sabrina Robertson.


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M1 Concourse Madness – An opinion

Submitted by Samuel Jefferson Kennard
Amelia City, Florida
June 25, 2019 1:00 a.m.

It is shocking to understand that the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport Advisory Board is entertaining a proposal to convert the Amelia River Golf Course into a M1 Concourse like the one in Pontiac, Michigan.
The M1 Concourse facility in Michigan occupies 87 acres and is centered on its 1.5-mile performance-racing track and is known for “all things motor sports”. For more information google M1 Concourse, Pontiac, Michigan.

The project is being promoted as a means of generating incremental revenue. This desire to “make more money” comes at the expense of quality of life, the main reason people choose to make Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island their home.

First, historic Fernandina Beach on small Amelia Island is obviously not metro Detroit.

Second, developing a pristine natural golf recreational amenity into a concrete and steel performance track with its loud noise and increased traffic is not compatible with the shape Continue reading

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FBCC sets new rule for Advisory Board no-shows

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 24, 2019 – 11:00 a.m.

At their June 18, 2019 Regular Meeting the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) unanimously approved on Second and Final Reading Ordinance 2019-11, amending the Land Development Code specific to advisory board attendance requirements.  The change eliminated subjectivity in excusing absences from regular board meetings.

Henceforth, board members will be automatically removed from their position without action from the FBCC following a third absence from regular meetings in any calendar year.  This applies to all boards except the Planning Advisory Board.

Commissioners agreed that three absences — regardless of the reason — has the potential to seriously jeopardize the work of the city.  Commissioners receive complaints from citizens when their cases or projects are delayed because advisory boards cannot produce quorums at Continue reading

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Author of “Beach Calling: A Devotional Journal for the Middle Years and Beyond” to speak at Story & Song – June 26

Story & Song
1430 Park Ave.
Press Release
Submitted by Mark Kaufman
June 24, 2019 5:00 p.m.

Author Missy Buchanan

Spiritual Lessons for the Journey of Aging

Aging doesn’t take much effort — all you have to do is breathe. Aging faithfully is different. It requires intentional effort to stay focused on God as you make your way through a world of youth and change.

Many women dread aging and resist thinking about it. Yet God designed the human body to change over time, and growing older is part of God’s plan. How we handle the changes that accompany aging reveals much about our spiritual maturity.

In her latest book, Beach Calling: A Devotional Journal for the Middle Years and Beyond, Missy Buchanan takes a fresh approach to aging. She uses comforting imagery from the beach and ocean to engage us in spiritual reflection.

Each devotion focuses on a familiar aspect of beach life and offers a parallel lesson on aging. Continue reading

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FSCJ Holds Instrumentation and Control Technology Center Grand Opening Event

June 24, 2019 3:51 p.m.

On June 9, 2019, Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) held a grand opening event for its new Instrumentation and Control Technology Center (ICTC), located inside the Advanced Technology Center at FSCJ’s Downtown Campus. The learning lab features state-of-the-art instrumentation and controls that are utilized in the leading manufacturing systems throughout the world.

This industry-driven laboratory was developed to enhance the education of students who choose to work toward the newly created instrumentation and controls concentration within FSCJ’s Engineering Technology (Advanced Manufacturing) Associate in Science degree program. Through the concentration, made possible by a $499,655 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), participants will be able to earn five technical certificates in Advanced Manufacturing Automation, AutoCAD Foundations, Engineering Technology Support Specialist, Mechatronics and Pneumatics, and Hydraulics and Motors.

The event also highlighted the first-of-its-kind training partnership which brings together FSCJ, OnSyte Performance, Siemens, AWC, Inc., ITG Technologies, Sun Coast Hydraulic Electric Manufacturing, Inc. and Rayonier Advanced Materials. The partnership allowed FSCJ to acquire the industry-standard equipment on display in the lab, including various types of electrical controls, data acquisition systems, computer equipment and virtual instrumentation. Representatives from OnSyte Performance, Siemens, ITG Technologies and Rayonier attended the event to help open the space.

Left to Right: John Avendano, President-Elect, FSCJ; Karen Bowling, FSCJ Board Chair; Jeff Littlejohn, OnSyte Performance; Candace Holloway, FSCJ Board of Trustees; Doug Brauer, FSCJ Dean of Engineering and Industry; Luis Narvaez and Kyle Frederick, Siemens; Palmer Clarkson, FSCJ Board of Trustees; Councilwoman JuCoby Pittman; Mike Bell, FSCJ Board of Trustees

“One of the biggest challenges facing the water industry is filling the need for qualified instrumentation and control technicians as much of the existing workforce transitions into retirement,” said Jeff Littlejohn from OnSyte Performance. “We are thrilled to partner with FSCJ to put students on a path to a rewarding career in the increasingly high-tech water industry.”

Working alongside Jacksonville-based technology partners, Siemens, AWC, ITG, Sun Coast Hydraulic Electric Manufacturing and OnSyte Performance also donated and installed a state-of-the-art, miniature wastewater treatment system at the Advanced Technology Center that will be used for teaching, training and research.

“As students work through the program, they will receive the highest quality of instruction combined with unique, hands-on learning opportunities utilizing the same state-of-the-art equipment and instrumentation that is actually in use by today’s industry leaders,” said Interim College President Kevin Hyde. “By giving students the opportunity to advance their education and training in this specific segment of manufacturing and wastewater management, we are cultivating the global changemakers of tomorrow for the benefit of the generations that will follow.”


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Reverse-mortgage fails not a factor in Florida’s stubbornly high foreclosure rate

By John Haughey
The Center Square
June 24, 2019 10:00 a.m.

Foreclosures are down nationwide since last spring but not in Florida, where foreclosure filings increased by 23 percent this May compared to May 2018, according to ATTOM Data Solutions’ May 2019 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report (FMR).

June began with one of every 1,238 Florida homes in foreclosure, the nation’s third-highest rate, behind only New Jersey’s (one in every 1,117) and Maryland’s (one in every 1,127}, ATTOM Data Solutions reported last week.

According to ATTOM’s, in mid-June there were 94,062 properties in Florida listed in some stage of foreclosure, default, auction or as bank owned, including more than 3,800 procedures started in May. In 2018, there were 33,031 foreclosure starts statewide, the report documents.

Despite the high foreclosure rates, Florida’s overall real estate market continues to stabilize from the recession that followed the 2007 housing market crash, presaged in 2006 when the foreclosure process was initiated on one in every 102,875 homes in the state.

Nationally, the foreclosure process was started on 30,554 U.S. properties in May 2019, less than 1 percent more than in April but down 9 percent from May 2018. the fourth consecutive month with an annual decline, according to May’s FMR posted on ATTOM’s

In May 2019, the foreclosure process was completed on 10,634 U.S. properties, down 4
percent from April and down 50 percent from May 2018, seventh consecutive annual decline, the report documents.

“We are continuing to see a downward trend with overall foreclosure activity, especially in completed foreclosures declining year after year,” ATTOM Data Solutions Chief Product Officer Todd Teta said in a study synopsis. “However, in May 2019 we did see an uptick in the number of states increasing in foreclosure starts going from 17 to 23 states rising annually – and again Florida is bucking the national trend with a continuous annual increase.”

Florida’s rate of one in every 1,238 homes somehow embroiled in the foreclosure process is significantly higher than the national rate of one in every 2,411.

The five counties with the highest foreclosure rates are in rural central or north Florida: Hendry one in every 458; Clay one in every 580; Gilchrist one in every 620; Lafayette one in every 645; and Desoto one in every 652.

According to ATTOM’s FMR, Jacksonville had the second-highest foreclosure rate among metro areas nationwide with more than 200,000 residents – one in every 764 homes was at some stage in the foreclosure process last month. Continue reading

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