Wildlight Welcomes Marriott-Branded Hotel to Community

Media Release
February 15, 2019 4:00 p.m.

Raydient Places + Properties’ hotel partner, Impact Properties, to develop, own and manage new Marriott hotel

WILDLIGHT, FL – Feb. 14, 2019 – Today, Raydient Places + Properties announced that Impact Properties will develop a Marriott-branded hotel in Wildlight, the new town under construction in Nassau County. The Marriott-branded hotel will be the first hotel to open in Wildlight.

Rendering of Wildlight’s future hotel is provided by Impact Properties. All renderings are subject to change.

With over 60,000 square feet and up to 105 guest rooms, the hotel at Wildlight will provide a full range of services for business and vacation travelers alike. It will offer a refreshing and stylish take on the travel experience with modern, upscale décor, premium food and beverage venues and a variety of wellness options.

Amenities such as a convenient 24-hour market, dedicated business center, state-of-the-art fitness center and outdoor spaces such as a fire pit and pool area will cater to every guest’s needs and create the perfect stay.

“We are delighted to bring one of Marriott’s powerful brand names to Wildlight,” said Kish Kanji, Executive VP of Impact Properties. “Partnering with Marriott on this project will enable us to deliver a truly unique guest experience for visitors to and residents of Northeast Florida. As this region continues to grow and expand, having an established Continue reading

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Original Celtic woman Chloë Agnew returns to Amelia Community Theatre

Amelia Community Theatre
Press Release
Submitted by Linda McClane
February 15, 2019 2:00 p.m.

Original Celtic Woman Chloë Agnew

Original Celtic Woman Chloë Agnew returns to Amelia Community Theatre for the third year in a row for a concert of traditional Irish songs, new original material, and fan favorites. Concerts will be at 7:00 PM on February 22 and 23 on the Main Stage at 207 Cedar Street.

Tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for students, with a preshow “meet and greet” with the singer for an additional $20 ticket.

Call 904-261-6749 or visit www.AmeliaCommunityTheatre.org for tickets and information. In March, Chloë will headline the Music City Irish Fest in Nashville.

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“Resources of DAR Library” topic of Amelia Island Genealogical Society meeting

Amelia Island Genealogical Society
Press Release
Rob Portegies-Zwart
Program Chair
February 15, 2019 2:30 p.m.

The Amelia Island Genealogical Society (AIGS) will hold a regular monthly meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 19, in the Community Room of the Fernandina Beach Branch Library, located at 25 N. Fourth St.

Jean Dixon Mann will discuss the NSDAR (National Society Daughters of the American Revolution) Library. Since its founding in 1896, the NSDAR Library in Washington, D.C. has grown into a specialized collection of American genealogical and historical manuscripts and publications, as well as powerful onsite databases. The Library collection contains over 225,000 books, 10,000 research files, thousands of manuscript items, and special collections of African-American, Native American, and women’s history, genealogy and culture. Nearly 40,000 family histories and genealogies comprise a major portion of the book collection. Jean will speak about these resources, and how to obtain records by mail.

About the speaker:

Jean was born only a few miles from where her Dixon ancestors came to Florida in 1805. She grew up in Fernandina Beach and graduated from Florida State University where she received her B.S. in Elementary Education. Jean and her husband returned to Fernandina Beach in 1992. She was a member of the Historic District Council in Fernandina Beach for 11 years, serving as chairman for two years. She served as treasurer and member of the Board of Trustees of the Amelia Island Museum of History from 1993 to 2000, during which time she helped secure the Old Jail from the Nassau County Commissioners as the permanent home of AIMH. She was a founding member of the Amelia Island Genealogical Society and served as president (2015-2016) and editor of The Nassau Genealogist, the quarterly publication of that organization for 25 years.

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Joint meeting of City Commission and Nassau County School Board shares information and concerns

By Susan Hardee Steger
February 15, 2019 1:30 p.m.

Members of the Nassau County School Board and the Fernandina Beach City Commission gathered at a joint meeting on February 12, to share information that will be of benefit to all.

Nassau County School Superintendent Kathy Burns began the discussion touting the district’s A rating, and the 92.8% increase in the graduation rate. The state average is 86.1%.

Area residents will notice a facelift taking place at the Fernandina Beach Middle School on Citronia Drive. There will be an extensive remodel of the cafeteria, and windows will be replaced.

Fernandina Beach High School’s student population is at 1,949, a slight increase over previous years. Southside Elementary is experiencing a large increase in kindergarten students. Burns said redistricting is bringing off-island students to island schools. In some locations  portable classrooms are being used to accommodate additional students.

Fernandina Beach High School (FBHS) will soon see a student run VyStar Branch in its school. FBHS students will be trained in the summer. A student run VyStar branch is now opened at Yulee High School.

Burns reported on a new strategic plan developed by community members, students, and leaders in the school district. Five areas of focus were developed and include: Continue reading

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Juvenile Justice S.W.E.A.T. program could happen in Nassau County

By Cindy Jackson
February 15, 2019 9:00 a.m.

S.W.E.A.T. stands for Sheriff’s Work Ethics and Training and is a program that got its start in Clay County, Florida in 2017 through a grant from the Department of Juvenile Justice for $145,000. It was originally intended to be an alternative to placing youth on probation in secure detention but has gone well beyond. Some might refer to it as a type of diversion program.

According to Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), “Diversion is a term used to describe intervention approaches that redirect youths away from formal processing in the juvenile justice system, while still holding them accountable for their actions. The goal of diversion is to remove youths as early in the juvenile justice process as possible to avoid later negative outcomes associated with formal processing, such as increased odds of recidivism, stigmatization/labeling, and increased criminal justice costs.”

While the first S.W.E.A.T. program began in Clay County, similar programs have also been Continue reading

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Weekly comments from Dale Martin

Dale Martin
City Manager
Fernandina Beach
February 15, 2019 12:00 a.m.

City Manager Dale Martin

Over the course of several hours spread across two days, the City Commissioners worked to enhance efforts to work together and develop goals for the community. Their efforts were facilitated by Ms. Cindy Jacoby of Bizhelp Consulting and supported by City Department Directors. Also attending the sessions were a few members of the general public, a few of whom represented other agencies, such as the Nassau County Board of Commissioners (thank you, Commissioner Bell) and the Tourist Development Council (Mr. Gil Langley).

The general purpose of the Visioning Session is the informal commencement of the budget process. The City’s “operating” or fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30. Once we roll into a new fiscal year, City staff has a few months to get newly-funded projects started before again turning to budget preparation. The City Commission’s goals and comments provide direction for staff focus throughout the development of the budget.

This year’s visioning, however, focused not so much on the next fiscal year, but rather an immediacy of goals for the balance of this fiscal year. I expect that as we progress toward achieving those immediate goals, we will easily transition toward budget priorities for not only next year, but also for following years.

Unsurprisingly, the bulk of the City Commission’s discussion focused on the Amelia River waterfront. The longstanding and overwhelming community desire has been for a waterfront park. This concept was validated in the City’s 2017 National Citizen Survey Continue reading

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Board of County Commissioners tackle lawsuits, roads, conservation, and more

By Cindy Jackson
February 14, 2019 8:03 a.m.

Commissioners Aaron Bell and Pat Edwards.

Development was front and center at the February 11, 2019 meeting of the Board of County Commissioners. Discussions ranged from a representative from the Yulee Historic Council indicating the desire of that organization to turn the old depot into a museum, a proposed partnership with the Trust for Public Lands to assist the County in land conservation efforts, issues with rights-of-way (ROW) on a number of roads across the County, an ordinance allowing for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) with the expressed goal being more affordable housing options, and amendments to the final development plan for Phase 1 of the Three Rivers community.

Attorney Gregory T. Stewart

In addition, the ever-so controversial Wildlight development, the East Nassau Stewardship District (ENSD) and related hot button issues did not go unmentioned. Gregory T. Stewart, attorney with the law firm of Nabors, Giblin and Nickerson, addressed the commissioners summarizing the many complaints and lawsuits that have been filed against the County by various Raydient entities. Stewart talked of the special Municipal Service Taxing Unit (MSTU) created by the board in October 2018 which Rayonier has contested and also the rights and responsibilities of the ENSD and the County as outlined in HB 1075, the legislation that created the special district. The County has indicated that it would like to see changes made in the enabling legislation and expressed this desire to Senator Aaron Bean and Representative Cord Byrd earlier this year.

In the course of his explanations, Mr. Stewart stated, “the legislature does not like governments suing other governments” referencing the fact the ENSD recently weighed-in Continue reading

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Outstanding Senior in “Take Stock in Children” honored

By Evelyn C. McDonald
Arts & Culture Reporter
February 14, 2019 9:00 a.m.

Kristen Wright (2L), is joined by her mother, Karen Smith (L); Tammy Johnson, Hilliard Principal;   Christie Chairs (3L),  school counselor; and Robin Lentz,(R) Take Stock executive director.

Led by Robin Lentz, Executive Director of Take Stock in Children (TSIC), six people walked into Kiersten Wright’s afternoon class at Hilliard Middle-Senior High School on Monday afternoon to surprise her. The surprise was to honor her as this year’s outstanding senior in the TSIC program in Nassau County.

Robin gave a brief introduction and Michelle Karst, Kiersten’s mentor, handed her balloons, sunflowers and a plaque honoring her achievement. College success coach Johnnie Green said a few words. Kiersten’s mother Karen Smith; Tammy Johnson, HMSHS Principal; Christie Chaires, School Counselor; and Dee Torre-Kaufman, TSIC Marketing and Development Chair, applauded.

Each year Take Stock in Children selects an outstanding senior from each affiliate. Outstanding Seniors are exemplary students in academics and involved in their community Continue reading

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Black History Month Program to be held on Gullah/Geechee Culture

Submitted by Janet Loveless
Nassau County Public Library System
Assistant Library Director
February 14, 2019 1:00 a.m.

Fernandina Beach Branch Library

Dr. Amir Jamal Touré

Dr. Amir Jamal Touré will be the special guest speaker at the Fernandina Beach Branch Library on Saturday, February 23rd at 2 pm. Dr. Touré, a native of Savannah and Hilton Head Island, will present a program on the Gullah Geechee culture. His families have been in the low country of Georgia and South Carolina since 1814 and established family compounds in the late 1800s. He is a graduate of Savannah State University with dual degrees, Cum Laude, and the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University.

Touré is called the People’s Historian. He is the resident scholar for Geechee Kunda, Cultural Center and Museum in Riceboro, Ga., and is known as a Djeli (cultural historian) who shares the history of African people at home and in the diaspora, in particular. He has performed internationally in sharing the history of culture of African people. He is the founder of Day Clean: The African Soul and Day Clean Journeys. History, Culture, and Empowerment are their focus.

Dr. Touré has served as a consultant and writer regarding Low County History.

Dr. Touré has served as a consultant and writer regarding Low County History Segments for the BBC, CBS and NBC affiliates. He was appointed by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a Commissioner on the Gullah Geechee Culture Heritage Corridor Commission. Dr. Touré is a professor at Savannah State University in the African Studies Department.

The program is free and open to the public. Persons with disabilities requiring accommodations in order to participate in this program or activity should contact (904) 548-4660 or the Florida Relay Service at (800) 955-8770(v) or (800) 955-8771 (TDD) at least seventy-two (72) hours in advance to request such accommodations.

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Former Fernandina Beach High School graduate honored with Florida Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing

Florida Humanities Council
Press Release
February 14, 2019 1:00 p.m.

Dr. Raymond Arsenault
Photo Credit: Simon & Schuster

Former Fernandina Beach resident Raymond O. Arsenault, and Randy Wayne White, divergent writers who have introduced Florida culture and history to a wide audience, have won the Florida Humanities Council’s 2019 Florida Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing. The winners, announced today (Feb. 12), will be honored at an event at a later date.

A five-person panel selected Arsenault, 71, and White, 69, from among 24 nominees. The judges praised them as “giants in their respective fields.”

Arsenault, the John Hope Franklin Professor of History at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, has written or edited more than a dozen works on subjects that include the Freedom Riders, celebrated singer Marian Anderson and tennis great Arthur Ashe, which is his most recent work. Arsenault is a co-founder of the Florida Studies program at USFSP.

“I was really shocked and happy,” Arsenault said. “It made my day.”

Arsenault attended Fernandina Beach High School during the 1960s. He played baseball and basketball, earning all-conference and all-North Florida honors in the latter sport during his senior year. He later attended Princeton University for his undergraduate degrees and Brandeis University for his master’s and doctor’s degrees.

Said White: “It was an incredible honor and sense of fulfillment. Florida has done so much Continue reading

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