City And Port Strengthen Ties

Submitted by
Suanne Thamm
News Analysis
May 21, 2012 2:53 p.m.

Port of Fernandina

On May 10, 2012, the Fernandina Beach City Commission entertained the Ocean Highway and Port Authority in a working session which parties agreed was the first of its kind.  The word “entertained” is especially appropriate, since technical difficulties delayed the start of the session 15 minutes during which the City Clerk and city staff tried to fix audio problems that flooded the chambers with music and what sounded like a soap opera track.  Once Mayor Filkoff gaveled the meeting to order the second time, Port Commission Chair Danny Fullwood provided the FBCC with a historical overview of the OHPA from its chartering in 1941 to the present (See

The Port’s Commercial Director, Val Schwec, indicated that 2011 was the best year yet for the port.  The value of goods flowing through the port is about $400M, and 99% of the tonnage is export cargo.  Of Florida’s 15 deep-water ports, Fernandina ranks 8th.  The port employs 86 full-time employees, each of whom earn more than $50K with benefits annually.  The port spends $1.3M annually on maintenance, most of which goes into the local/regional economy.  Approximately 85% of the port cargo arrives by rail, reducing truck traffic through the city.  A busy week would involve 100 trucks, as compared with Rock Ten (600) or Rayonier (150).

OHPA Attorney Clyde Davis explained the Port’s role in beach renourishment.  The Port is the local sponsor for the Army Corps of Engineers dredging.  As such, it provides the liability insurance for dredge dumps of beach compatible sand at Fort Clinch and the beaches.  The Port does not pay for the dredging itself.  In 1994 the Port worked with the Corps to dredge the channel to a depth of 36 feet.  The Port is now responsible to maintain that depth.

The final topic on the agenda was the need/desirability of attracting a permanent Coast Guard presence to Fernandina Beach for search and rescue operations.  OHPS District 1 Commissioner, Melvin Usery, led this discussion.   The nearest Coast Guard air search and rescue operation is at Mayport, about an hour away.  While such a distance meets the response standard for the Coast Guard, it is on the outer edge.  The Coast Guard detachment at Kings Bay is dedicated to submarine operations; the one at Cecil Field is dedicated to Homeland Security.  Commissioner Usery said that if the city were willing to provide space for a helicopter detachment at the airport, the Port might be willing to work with the city on constructing a facility.  Once the air search and rescue operation was established, the Coast Guard might be willing to consider basing a cutter here as well.  Any consideration by the Coast Guard for an air or sea presence requires a deep-water port, which our community has.  City commissioners reacted favorably to the idea, and the City Manager was directed to work with the OHPA to get the project into the 2012 planning pipeline.  It was generally agreed that much preliminary work remains to be done before approaching the Coast Guard with a proposal; a committee will probably be formed to drill down on details.

The FBCC and the OHPA plan to continue meeting quarterly to address the Coast Guard issue and other issues of mutual interest.

During the May 15, regular City Commission meeting the FBCC agreed that Vice Mayor Jeffrey Bunch would serve as their liaison to the Port Authority on the Coast Guard initiative.

2011 City of Fernandina Beach Preservation Awards

Entrance to Historic Fernandina Beach

Submitted by

Suanne Thamm

Award remarks from Adrienne Burke, City Planner Presentation

At the May 15, 2012 Fernandina Beach City Commission meeting, city planner Adrienne Dessy Burke announced the winners of the 2012 city historic preservation awards.  Presenting the awards were Jennifer King Cascone, Chair of the city’s Historic District Council (HDC) and Adam Kaufman, President of the Amelia Island Fernandina Restoration Foundation.

This program was established two years ago to recognize those property owners, architects, building professionals and citizens who have contributed to the health and vitality of the city’s history through efforts to preserve historic architecture and culture.  Projects worthy of recognition are found throughout the city and not limited to the Downtown and Old Town Historic Districts.  There is no fee associated with the nomination.  Timing of the awards announcement coincides with National Preservation Month.

The recipients of the second City Historic Preservation Awards included:

Florida House Inn – First Place for Restoration/Rehabilitation at 22 S. 3rd Street. This Florida House Inn - First Place Preservation/Renovationcategory acknowledges proper rehabilitation of a structure according to the Secretary of the Interior Standards, and includes exterior improvements that respect the historic integrity of the structure or adaptive reuse of a building. The judges noted that the “extensive” interior and exterior work for this project warranted a first place award.



Island Art Association

Island Art Association – First Place New Construction

First Place for New Construction at 18 N. 2nd Street. This category is for sensitive design and careful construction of a new structure in either the Old Town or Downtown Historic Districts. The judges noted the “well-done construction that ties in with the existing structure,” and “good use of fencing to create an ‘up to the sidewalk’ feeling of a historic downtown.”




Miranda Architects

Miranda Architects – Honorable Mention – Sensitive Addition

Honorable Mention for a Sensitive Addition at 31 S. 10th Street. This category recognizes additions exemplifying compatibility with the original historic structure. The judges commended the nominee for their efforts in this project.





Madeline Richard

Madeline Richard – Honorable Mention Historic Facade Renovation

Honorable Mention for Storefront Facade Renovation at 227 S. 8th Street, which recognizes projects creating a positive contribution to the streetscape and respectful treatment of historic aspects of the building. The judges appreciated the nominee’s efforts to enhance a historic building on S. 8th Street.





Harvey Ward

Harvey Ward – Outstanding Craftsmanship


Harvey Ward – winner for Craftsmanship,    which honors traditional methods of construction, including but not limited to wood-working, wrought-iron work, framing, or plastering, and recognition of the craftsperson that completed the work. Mr. Ward was nominated for his craftsmanship at 130 N. 6th Street, although his work can be found throughout historic buildings in Fernandina Beach.


Michael Harrison

Michael Harrison – Historic Heritage Advocate

Preservation Champion winner for being a heritage advocate. This category is awarded to an individual(s) who has demonstrated a commitment to the preservation, protection, and enhancement of Fernandina Beach’s historic and cultural resources. Mr. Harrison was recognized by the judges for his “extensive list of contributions to the community and involvement in issues revolving around preservation;” in particular, his advocacy for highlighting the heritage of the Old Town Historic District and role in the Old Town Bicentennial in 2011.




George Stewart – Slider’s

Slider’s – Preservation Champion Winner of Cultural Heritage


Mr. Stewart is responsible for the renovation of Sliders Seaside Grill at 1998 S. Fletcher Avenue. The judges noted that while the project did not revolve around preserving the original structure, it did preserve a community institution and important part of Fernandina Beach’s cultural heritage.




According to Adrienne Dessy Burke, the city’s Preservation planner, the number of applicants this year doubled over those received in 2010, the initial year of the program. Projects completed within the past five years were eligible for consideration. The nomination period ran from January 5 – April 6, 2012. Applications were reviewed by three judges, who met and deliberated on April 10, without city staff, HDC or Restoration Foundation input or review.

This year’s judges included:

Peggy Bulger

Peggy Bulger, who recently relocated to Fernandina Beach from Washington, D.C., where she was the Director for the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Prior to her tenure at the Library of Congress, Peggy worked for the Southern Arts Federation for ten years, and for the ten years prior to that position, was the Folklife Programs Administrator for the Bureau of Florida Folklife Programs. In 2011, Peggy was named an American Folklore Society Fellow, and she served as President of the Society from 2000-2002. She has published numerous articles on folklife and cultural heritage, and has served as a consultant to a variety of folklife programs, history centers, and schools. She received her Ph.D. in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania, where she wrote her dissertation on Stetson Kennedy.

Phyllis Davis, the Executive Director for The Amelia Island Museum of History in Fernandina Beach, Florida. She feels very fortunate to be able to work in such an important capacity in her hometown, preserving the history for future generations. She is responsible for 3 full-time and 3 part-time staff members and reports to the Museum’s Board of Trustees of 14 members from the local community while coordinating over 200 volunteers. She works closely with city officials, local businesses, other non-profits and the Tourist Development Council. Prior to joining the Amelia Island Museum of History, Phyllis obtained a degree in Art History at Mercer University with a minor in accounting. Her first job out of college was as an Assistant Curator at Jekyll Island Museum; however, most of Phyllis’s career has been spent primarily in the business arena. Phyllis is active in her community and is a member of Rotary (where she serves on the Scholarship Committee and is a Paul Harris Fellow), serves on the Fernandina Beach Arts Council, and is a member of the American Association of Museum’s Small Museum Administrators Committee.

William Leuthoid

Bill Leuthold, a practicing architect in Jacksonville with a specialty in historic preservation projects. Bill has received numerous historic preservation awards for his projects in Riverside Avondale, including the Herschel Street Office Building, the Grimsley House, and the Marino House. Bill has served on the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission, the Riverside Avondale Preservation Design Review Committee, and is on the Board of Directors for the Jacksonville Historical Society. He has also served as a staff architect for the Bermuda government, and is a licensed architect in both Florida and Bermuda. He received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s     Degrees in Architecture from the University of Florida, where he specialized in Architectural Preservation.

The Amelia Island Fernandina Restoration Foundation again partnered with the city in sponsoring this year’s awards. Other community assistance was received from Mead’s Framery and Trophy Store and Fast Signs. More information about the awards program and the City of Fernandina Beach’s historic preservation work is available on the city’s website:

A Week In Review

Thank you readers and writers! Those of us involved with the Fernandina Observer are overwhelmed with the positive response to our “Journal of News and Opinion.” We are amazed at the growth in our subscriber base, and the positive comments we have received are very gratifying.

As we launch Fernandina Observer, mastering the technical components has presented some challenges. Subscribers, please bear with us as we overcome our subscriber e-mail issues. In addition, some individuals have expressed difficulty accessing our website at  If this issue presented problems for you or your friends, our technical expert suggests a browser update may correct the problem.

As mentioned in our opening blog, “encouraging others to work with us will be a key to our success. We need volunteer reporters ((Write for F O) who wish to get involved, and grow with us.” You have responded. Articles are in the works and many from individuals who keep abreast of city happenings. Keep those offers coming in!

We appreciate the support received from Suanne Thamm whose article on the commission meeting on May 15th received much praise. In addition, the article submitted by Donna Paz Kaufman regarding a state library award received by Bill Flynn was well received. The uplifting news that Fernandina Beach High School ranks in the top 3% nationally impressed many of our readers. We asked high school principal Jane Arnold for good news and what a thrill it was to have that news to share.

Following up on the U S News ranking, is new information from principal Jane Arnold; “We just received notification that FBHS is one of only 27 “open enrollment” schools in the state of Florida to make Newsweek’s’ list of “America’s Best High Schools” and one of only 69 schools from Florida to make the top 1000 high schools in the country! That’s on top of the U S News report last week .” To have two well-known publications, U S News and Newsweek recognizing Fernandina Beach High School speaks well for our teachers, administrators, and students. Congratulations!

Douglas M Newton

Susan Hardee Steger


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Lindy Kavanaugh
Lindy Kavanaugh (@guest_18)
11 years ago

First time reader of the FO and I enjoyed it very much! Well written and informative. Thank you!

Elenice (@guest_19)
11 years ago

hi, good post. i want to thank you for this informative read, i really appreciate sharing your post. keep up your work…