Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
May 7, 2015 3:05 p.m.
FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY
On behalf of the city, Mayor Ed Boner expressed thanks and gratitude to the Friends of the Library (FOL) for their tireless efforts in raising funds to construct and renovate the existing city building housing the Nassau County Library Branch at 25 N. 5th Street. Tracing the library’s history back to its formation in 1880, Boner noted that the organization called the Friends of the Library was formed in 1985. Since then FOL volunteers have been responsible for many library improvements. Specifically, on this, their 30th anniversary year, Boner commended FOL for raising over $850,000 in gifts and contributions toward the expansion and renovation of the existing Fernandina Beach facility. This amount, which continues to grow, is in addition to the Nassau County and City of Fernandina Beach commitments to contribute $600,000 each to the project. In concluding his remarks, Boner said that FOL serves as an example for other non-profit organizations in the city.
In accepting the proclamation on behalf of the Friends of the Library, President Bill Flynn thanked the city and invited everyone in the community to visit the library often, but especially for the 30th anniversary celebration at 6:30 p.m. on May 7 during which a special announcement will be made. He said that there are hundreds of people to thank for their work over the years for making FOL such a successful organization. But he offered special thanks to Dee Torre Kaufman, Vice President and Chair of Capital Campaign. He said that the amount raised during this campaign, which is still ongoing, is now closing in on $1M.
AMERICAN WETLANDS MONTH
The City of Fernandina Beach has proclaimed the month of May as “American Wetlands Month.” In delivering the city proclamation, Mayor Boner reminded the audience of the importance of wetlands in improving downstream water quality, mitigating the impact of floods and storm surges, and protecting drinking water.
He specifically recognized the efforts of the Wild Amelia Jr. Naturalist Program for their contributions and support in providing education and resources about the community’s valuable salt and freshwater wetlands.
A group of the Wild Amelia Junior Naturalists was present to accept the proclamation. Young naturalist JoshBarber explained the purpose of the program. In thanking the city for the recognition, Junior Naturalists Coordinator Robyn Nemes characterized the children as “special, intelligent and kind youngsters who know more about nature than most adults on the island.” She credited them with producing books to help people understand the value of wetlands.
WORLD LUPUS DAY
The city proclaimed May 10, 2015 as “World Lupus Day.” A copy of the proclamation, which is part of a worldwide effort to increase awareness, medical research efforts and the discovery of safer, more effective treatments for lupus patients, will be mailed to the Lupus Foundation of Florida.
This year the city has proclaimed Friday, May 8 as Arbor Day in recognition of the importance of trees in reducing erosion, moderating temperatures, providing wildlife habitats and increasing property values. This year the city celebrates its 13th year as a Designated Tree City USA community. Mayor Boner specifically recognized the contributions of Early McCall, Julia Nowlin and the Amelia Tree Conservancy towards continuing to maintain and improve city tree canopies.
Mayor Boner encouraged citizens to attend the Arbor Day tree planting ceremony to be held at the Peck Center on Friday, May 8, at 10:00 a.m.
Early McCall, a local arborist who has worked closely with city staff to evaluate and maintain the city’s urban forest, accepted the proclamation.
In thanking the city for its work to protect trees, McCall recapped the history of Arbor Day, going back to 1872. He reminded the audience that trees, in addition to their natural importance highlighted in the proclamation, are an important part of the local economy, with the two local pulp and paper mills. He said, “Trees are a good investment of our public dollars.”
SEA TURTLE & SHORELINE BIRD NESTING SEASON
Mayor Boner read a proclamation declaring May through October as Sea Turtle and Shoreline Bird Nesting Season. The city recognized the conservation efforts of the Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch and Florida Public Utilities for their protection and preservation of beach wildlife and the work of city Code Enforcement Officer Michelle Forstrom in monitoring beach lighting to limit interference with turtle nesting activities.
Mary Duffy, president of the Amelia Sea Turtle Watch, accepted the proclamation as other volunteers looked on. She thanked the city for its continued support since 1987, when the city became one of the first cities in Florida to enact a beach lighting ordinance to help sea turtle nesting. The organization started with 8 volunteers and has grown to over 100 today. Michelle Forstrom also thanked the commission and city staff for helping to darken skies during turtle nesting season and bring the beachfront properties in compliance. Both Duffy and Forstrom thanked Florida Public Utilities for their cooperation in lowering public lighting as well.
NATIONAL POLICE WEEK AND PEACE OFFICERS MEMORIAL DAY
The city proclaimed May 10-16, 2015 as National Police Week and May 15, 2015 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day. These actions are intended to honor those peace officers who, through their courageous deeds, have lost their lives or have become disabled in the performance of their duty and also the officers that are presently placing their lives on the line on a daily basis serving the community through law enforcement. Mayor Boner noted that Police Chief James “Frank” Surrency was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1930; and that Nassau County Sheriff’s Deputy Joe Robinson (1891), Chief Deputy Everett Johns (1905) and Deputy Jeremiah Mattox (1954) were all shot and killed in the line of duty while responding to calls for service on Amelia Island. Boner encouraged local citizens to take time to thank local law enforcement personally for their efforts to keep our community safe.
In accepting the proclamation, Fernandina Beach Fire Chief James T. Hurley thanked the city and said, “The nature of the events of the past week have shown that some events can get awfully tense awfully quick.” This remark was in reference to a violent encounter with a robbery suspect on Bonnieview Road, which is still undergoing investigation.
Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.