Weekly comments from Dale Martin

Dale Martin
Fernandina Beach
City Manager
May 4, 2018 12:00 a.m.

City Manager Dale Martin

As we are now well into the second half of the City’s current fiscal year and planning for the next fiscal year, let me take a brief moment to share information about a few City employee aspects.

Ms. Mary Hamburg just completed her first complete year with the City, serving as the City’s first Public Information Officer with additional duties related to special events. During her first year, Mary refined the City’s Facebook page, added a City Twitter account, and has worked to develop a new mobile app for the City. These technology tools can supplement the City’s traditional information efforts such as articles like this and the efforts of local journalists who attend and report on City issues (and thank you to all of them for those efforts). The challenge, of course, is the City’s ability to present accurate and complete information when erroneous information is so commonly promoted (and sadly accepted as factual) through social media. Ms. Hamburg is a great soldier to have in that fight.

Ms. Hamburg has also taken the lead in recrafting the City’s special events policies, bringing together a core group of key staff to review and endorse special events in our community. Understandably, we live in a wonderful community that is attractive to many event organizers. Special events typically have unseen costs for City staff, City services, the disruption of local businesses, and the aftermath of the event (complaints, trash). The City Commission has accepted that some events are truly key community events and accepts the cost as part of our quality of life. Mary has brought a sense of order and consistency to the City’s special event process.

Two other employees recently surpassed their six-month anniversary with the City. Ms. Lorelei Jacobs serves as the City’s Grants Administrator. Frankly, she was an outright theft from Hillsborough County, where she previous served the Sheriff’s Department for many years. Ms. Jacobs has brought an increased enthusiasm and passion for procuring grants for the City. She daily pokes City staff about funding opportunities from regional, state, and federal sources.

While preparing and obtaining grants is difficult enough, an overlooked component of grants is the subsequent reporting requirements associated with successful grant awards. Ms. Jacobs has done a marvelous job of reviewing and reporting the status of grant awards. It was through her efforts that the City was able to utilize funding originally awarded to the City approximately thirty years ago for a recent project! She has been an exceptional professional addition to the City staff.

Mr. Nathan Coyle, the City’s Airport Manager, also recently passed his six-month anniversary. Mr. Coyle and his family came to the City from Idaho. The successful hiring of him demonstrates the uncanny role of luck in getting good people. Following the release of the previous Airport Manager, the City again solicited applications through the same recognized professional sources. For whatever reason, the total quality of the pool of applicants for this second round overwhelmingly surpassed the first round. As was the case with Ms. Jacobs, Mr. Coyle was a steal.

With his impeccable and professional Air Force background (air traffic control in both Iraq and Afghanistan as well as several other stateside duty stations), Mr. Coyle brings an unprecedented level of aviation experience to the City’s Airport. He has developed strong relationships with the airport tenants, successfully managed the recent transition between fixed-base operators, and overseen the construction of the terminal building (see comments above related to social media).

Mr. Coyle has a strong vision for the current operations, the future development and, most importantly, the unerring safety of the Airport. He recognizes that the Airport can serve as a key asset to not only the City, but the entire region. With Mr. Coyle at the Airport and Mr. Steve Murphy at the City’s Golf Course (recently nominated for Billy Casper Golf’s General Manager of the Year), I unhesitatingly tell everyone that I have no management concerns south of Sadler Road.

As part of Ms. Robin Marley’s tasks for the current year, I asked that she informally survey senior staff to get an idea of when those staff members were considering retirement. Given the tenure of some of the staff, it was not surprising to learn that nearly half of the senior staff will be retiring in approximately three years. It will be critical to have professionals such as Ms. Hamburg, Ms. Jacobs, and Mr. Coyle assume those management roles.

All in all, I believe the City staff is the most professional and most passionate staff that I have had the opportunity with which to work- from top to bottom. It is through their efforts, not necessarily mine, that the City performs its routine tasks that contribute to and enhance our quality of life. Kudos to the City staff.
Enjoy this year’s Shrimp Fest!