Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
May 3, 2018 9:30 a.m.
During their May 1, 2018 Regular Meeting, the Fernandina Beach City Commission recognized four community projects.
PROCLAMATION – 55TH ANNUAL ISLE OF EIGHT FLAGS SHRIMP FESTIVAL
This year commemorates the 55th Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, which will be celebrated May 4, 2018, through May 6, 2018, in downtown Fernandina Beach. The all-volunteer Shrimp Festival Committee partners with the City of Fernandina Beach, area businesses and approximately fifty local non-profit organizations to encourage community volunteerism while instilling a sense of pride through working together for the benefit of the Shrimp Festival. Over the last fifty years, the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival has grown into a nationally recognized festival that provides a financial impact in excess of $16,000,000 to the City of Fernandina Beach, Nassau County and surrounding areas.
In accepting the Proclamation from Fernandina Beach Mayor John Miller, Shrimp Festival President Harry Harrison thanked the City Commission on behalf of the 150 volunteers who put on the event each year. No one draws a salary. He said that the Kids Zone will be expanded this year and that the event will offer even more entertainment.
PROCLAMATION – “NATIONAL BIKE MONTH”
The League of American Bicyclists and independent cyclists throughout Florida are promoting greater public awareness of bicycle operation and safety education in an effort to reduce accidents, injuries and fatalities for all.
The Friends of the Amelia Island Trails work tirelessly to maintain and improve trail systems for bicyclists, pedestrians, and runners island-wide with the primary objective of becoming the safest place in Florida for biking.
Phil Scanlan, a member of the Amelia Island Trails Association, accepted the Proclamation on behalf of the organization.
Wanda Lanier, the President and CEO of Barnabas, explained how partnering with the Amelia Island Trails Association helps provide refurbished bicycles to assist low income residents commute to work, seek medical help, and shop. She singled out JoelBeckham for his work to repair and refurbish these bicycles before they are given to needy residents. Lanier reported that over 7 years Barnabas has given out more than 300 bicycles to people in need.
In an unusual move Amelia Island Trails also presented the City Commission with a proclamation recognizing the city’s consistent support for safe and enjoyable bicycling. In reading the proclamation, organization president Mike Pikula cited 7 specific city actions ranging from bicycle racks and grant assistance to education and maintenance of the Egans Creek Greenway Trail System.
City Commissioners and city staff accepted the proclamation from the organizaation.
PROCLAMATION – “MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID MONTH”
Mental Health First Aid is an extremely effective public education program where participants learn about depression, anxiety, trauma, psychosis, eating disorders, substance use disorders and self-injury. In an effort to assist those who may be developing a problem or may be already in a crisis; Mental Health First Aid program participants also learn how to assess people’s risk of harm or suicide, listen nonjudgmentally, give reassurance, and encourage the appropriate professional help.
Numerous Mental Health First Aid program studies show participants significantly increase their understanding and knowledge of mental health issues and treatments. Participants can confidently and appropriately respond to an emerging problem or a crisis and connect more people with care. Mental Health First Aid also reduces the stigma often associated with mental health.
Mayor John Miller encouraged all citizens to learn more about mental health and substance use disorders, implement early intervention measures, recognize warning signs, intervene to prevent suicide and other traumatic events, and guide those in need to appropriate treatment and other support services.
Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare Community Liaison/Mental Health First Aid Instructor Ms. Katrina Robinson-Wheeler accepted the Proclamation. She explained how this training is helpful for everyone in the community who may be dealing with a friend or family member in crisis. She announced that the next program would be offered on June 22.
Dr. Laureen Pagel, Starting Point CEO, encouraged community participation in the program, noting that Robinson-Wheeler had recently received national recognition as one of the top 100 mental health trainers in the United States.
For more information on Starting Point and registration information, visit their website www.spbh.org.
PROCLAMATION – “SEA TURTLE NESTING SEASON”
Protected species such as the Leatherback, Loggerhead, and the Green Sea turtles come to the City’s beach shoreline each year to nest and lay their eggs during “turtle season” which runs from May 1 through October 31 each year. Outdoor artificial lighting is a common interference for newly hatched sea turtles that rely on the moonlight to guide them to the sea.
Via this Proclamation 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. The City of Fernandina Beach works every year during turtle nesting season to monitor lights on the beach and limit light interference with turtle nesting activities.
In accepting the Proclamation, Mary Duffy thanked the city for being one of the leading communities in Florida to enact a lighting ordinance to protect sea turtle hatchlings. She cited the constant support provided by city police and code enforcement as well as efforts of 150 volunteers. She said that this promises to be a great nesting season.
Mayor Miller urged all citizens to become familiar with ways that we can continue to protect our sea turtles and shore birds.
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.