Fernandina Port Making Last Minute Try For Grants

Florida Politics
By Wes Wolfe
June 13, 2022

The next opportunity to do something is the Port Authority’s June 22 meeting.

Last-minute moves are underway to help the Port of Fernandina receive a grant for current-year funding, but the Ocean Highway and Port Authority (OHPA) must act before the end of the month. One of the first things is making sure the documents are in order, including the public transportation grant agreement.

“According to the rules, you’re supposed to execute that before the next fiscal year starts, which would be July 1, or you risk those dollars being absorbed by somebody else,” OHPA Executive Director David Kaufman said at the Authority’s last meeting.

The next opportunity for OHPA to do something about that is at its June 22 gathering.

“That grant, right now, is planned to supplement a previous grant that you guys executed for the (fabric) warehouse,” which should be another $20,000, Kaufman said.

Before that happens, he said he wants to sit down with Nassau Terminals CEO Chris Ragucci and nail down specifically where those dollars are headed.

“I have pretty good sense that if we don’t work it out by next week, or in enough time for you guys to vote on it,” Kaufman said, “I think (Florida Department of Transportation) and the Florida Ports Council will work with us, knowing that we’re in this transitionary period, to make sure we don’t (lose those dollars).”

Kaufman completed his first week on the job as Executive Director, a post that’s been involved in controversy before his arrival in Fernandina Beach. He informed Commissioners that he put in orders for such markers of officialdom like shirts and business cards.

“I just want to say, I’m real happy so far with — he’s only been on board for eight days, and he’s done more than I ever expected him to do in eight days,” OHPA Chair Danny Fullwood said. “He’s got a good vision for where we need to be, where we’re going, and I can’t tell you what an asset that’s going to be for us and helping us out and keeping things on track — handling some communications not just with Chris, but with everybody. And that’s what we pay him for.”