By Darryl Ford

December 20, 2021


I had a wonderful opportunity to volunteer at a food drive on Friday, December 17thsponsored by Farm Share, The Coalition for the Homeless of Nassau County, Worldwide Terminals Fernandina, and the Ocean Highway and Port Authority.  While happily loading boxes of wipes into the cars of the nice people I met, I also had a chance to chat with my co-volunteers from many different places, including a group of volunteers who work at the port.

I returned home and thought about the people I met both in need of a hand and volunteering to help and stopped to appreciate the community I have joined once again.  I have been to Christmas parades, listened to a wonderful children’s choir sing carols, avidly followed and supported Foar From Home all in just the last week.  Fernandina Beach is a special place.

The port is part of that special place.  There are 70 good jobs at the port, jobs which provide for 70 families, along with many related jobs in trucking and specialized trades supporting the ships and equipment.  This is an island where we still have good jobs which do not require a college degree.  We have the huge challenge of affordable housing to match, but at least we have the jobs and a fighting chance.

There is also quite a brawl going on between our city commission and the entities at the port.  I do not pretend to understand it all.  I do know that I am tired of it.  Politics in our country have become and are just plain nasty on a national level.  We seem to be doing our best to outdo the rest of the nation by showing just how plain nasty our local politics can be here, however.  The Boathouse, constant controversy about local music venues downtown, Atlantic Seafood, Brett’s, lawsuits, and personal attacks over the operation of the port, taking property by eminent domain et al are just the recent activity in our city commission.

There are significant issues of disagreement between the port and the city commission.  Settle them, mediate them, settle them in court if necessary, but do it with courtesy and respect.  I do not know if the real agenda is to close the port, but I sure am worried about it.   The people who work at the port and the 70 jobs at the port are the real victims here.  Please . . . Just stop it.


Editor’s Note: After a 35-year career in Human Resources, Darryl Ford and his wife moved to Fernandina’s Historic District in 2018. Darryl now spends his time as a volunteer with the Coalition for the Homeless. We thank Darryl for his contribution to the Fernandina Observer.




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Bob carter
Bob carter (@guest_63433)
1 year ago

Yes, by all means, keep promises and protect the historic district. Seems simple enough. Those employees are pawns in an aggressive game of industrial creep.
It’s not the employees doing.

DAVID LOTT (@guest_63435)
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob carter

Yes, the issues have never been about the employees or closing down the port. The actions by the City and the residents of the area have always been about the Port management and OHPA keeping the commitments outlined in the charter.

Mary Gardner
Mary Gardner (@guest_63434)
1 year ago

Well said! I agree with Mr. Ford! I would also be grateful for articles that try and explain the truth behind this port problem. (I suspect it has greed, power and control at its roots.)

I am also growing increasingly concerned about the huge number of homes being built both on and off island and how the increase in population density will effect the once gentle home town feel of Fernandina Beach and the condition of our pristine beaches.

Thanks for the great articles and commentaries and for providing such a wonderful publication!

Will Holder
Will Holder (@guest_63438)
1 year ago

Thank you for some human perspecitve. Lawyers and their high dollar lifestyles fuel most of the arguments on both sides. Thank you for some common sense.

Kenneth Roy Nestor
Kenneth Roy Nestor (@guest_63500)
1 year ago

I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read Mr.Ford’s opinion letter. My wife and I are new to Fernandina Beach. However, I am disappointed, but not surprised, to learn about this contention of push and pull between the City and the Fernandina Beach Port Authority. Working together on this could lead to incredible opportunities for our City and port operations. Good mediation using modern mediation techniques can align goals and objectives and everyone can win by honest discussion and consensus by sitting down and giving key players a seat at that table. It will rely on honesty and a desire to have a good outcome for everyone as a prerequisite. One method I am very experienced with is a process known as “Force Field Analysis.” I was instrumental in using the process between Counties and Unions and also within large companies.

As defined by ASQ*, force field analysis is a basic tool for root cause analysis that can help you take action once the root cause has been identified. The technique is based on the assumption that any situation is the result of forces for and against the current state being in equilibrium. Countering the opposing forces and/or increasing the favorable forces will help induce a change by reinforcing positives and eliminating or reducing negatives.
Force field analysis does the following:

  • Presents the positives and negatives of a situation so they are easily comparable.
  • Considers all aspects of making the desired change.
  • Encourages agreement about the relative priority of factors on each side of the balance sheet.
  • Encourages honest reflection on the underlying roots of a problem and its solution.

The Force Field Analysis Process
Conduct a force field analysis through the following steps:

  1. Brainstorm all possible forces inside and outside the organization that could work for or against the solution.
  2. Assess the strength of each of the forces.
  3. Place the forces in a force field diagram, with the length of each arrow in the diagram proportional to the strength of the force it represents.
  4. For each force, but especially the stronger ones, discuss how to increase the forces for the change and reduce those against it.

Since I recently retired, I would love to voluntarily help get this important situation moving forward. Maybe Daryl Ford would like to assist me if the two organizations are interested? It’s sounds to me like it is time to lay down the axe’s and work together.

*ASQExcellence (ASQE) was founded in January 2020 as a trade association whose mission is to set the standard for quality-driven offerings and insights worldwide, inspiring the organizations it serves to achieve excellence.

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