Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
May 3, 2017 2:00 p.m.
The May 2, 2017 Regular Meeting of the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) may have set a record by issuing six Proclamations issued, all to recognize important achievements and milestones.
54TH ANNUAL ISLE OF EIGHT FLAGS SHRIMP FESTIVAL
This year commemorates the 54th Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, which will be celebrated May 5, 2017, through May 7, 2017.
The Fernandina Beach City Commission extended its sincere appreciation and gratitude to the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival Committee for its dedication in keeping the time-honored traditions and reminders of the shrimping industry alive, and for introducing visitors to the gracious ambiance of downtown Fernandina Beach’s historic district and the beauty of the Amelia River.
In accepting the Proclamation, Committee spokesman Harry Harrison thanked the Mayor and recapped the many benefits the Shrimp Festival brings to the local economy and participating non-profit organizations.
NATIONAL NURSES WEEK – May 6-12, 2017
There are more than 3.3 million registered nurses in the United States today. Together they constitute the nation’s largest health care profession. The nursing profession is highly respected and still experiencing tremendous growth in over 200 medical specialty areas; each governed by federal, state, and local regulations designed to protect nurses and their patients. As the American population ages, coupled with the expansion of life-sustaining technologies, so grows the demand for high-quality, compassionate, and cost-effective nursing care. The American Nurses Association is the voice for registered nurses across the country and has been diligently working to create a healthy nation by delivering primary and preventive health care.
Ed Hubel, President of Baptist Medical Center Nassau, thanked the City Commission for recognizing the contributions of the nursing staff and other hospital professionals to serving local residents.
RECOGNITION OF ACHIEVEMENT OF EXCELLENCE IN PLANNING, BRONZE LEVEL AWARD
The City of Fernandina Beach adopted a significant update to its state-requiredComprehensive Plan in 2012 by incorporating community desires and sound planning principles into a holistic policy document intended to assist current and future decision makerson growth-related matters. The Northeast Florida Regional Council recognized the City’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan and selected it as recipient of the 2011 Regional Leadership Award for Excellence in Planning and Growth Management.
In April 2017, the City of Fernandina Beach 2030 Comprehensive Plan ranked among the top five nationally recognized plans for its policies towards creating Sustainable Places by the American Planning Association (APA), resulting in a Bronze Level Award for setting Standards for Sustaining Places, a program which recognizes plans that exemplify how communities today are working to create a sustainable future. In bestowing the award, the APA cited the City’s Plan for “creating distinctive and appealing communities with compact development and multi-modal transportation though an emphasis on environmental sustainability with particular focus on land use, energy, and the natural environment while addressing issues related to resiliency and hazards.”
Through this Proclamation, the Fernandina Beach City Commission recognized the valuable contributions made by members of the community, members of the Planning Advisory Board, members of other City volunteer advisory committees, and members of the City planning staff in achieving this recognition. The FBCC extended its appreciation for the continued commitment to public service by these volunteers and professionals.
Senior City Planner Kelly Gibsonaccepted the Proclamation and recapped the achievements of the city through its staff and boards in advancing sustainability goals over time and for the future.
SEA TURTLE NESTING SEASON: May – October 2017
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.
The City’s beach shoreline and coastal environment provide important habitats for a variety of bird species and sea turtles. Many of these bird species and all three species of sea turtles that nest in Fernandina Beach are listed as endangered or threatened species and are protected by state, federal laws, and international laws.
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 May1 through October 31 each year. Outdoor artificial lighting is a common interference for newly hatched sea turtles who rely on the moonlight to guide them to the sea.
Mary Duffy thanked the city and the community for supporting the Turtle Watch’ efforts. Vice Mayor Len Kreger added that last year Florida saw the largest number of Loggerhead turtle nests ever recorded: 122,000. He attributed this to the 1973 passage of the Endangered Species Act, and the fact that it takes 35 years for a Loggerhead turtle to mature.
MAY 2017 – NATIONAL BIKE MONTH
For the last 61 years, the month of May has been designated as “National Bike Month” by National, state and local governments in recognition of the fact that for more than a century, the bicycle has been an important part of the lives of most Americans. Today millions of Americans engage in bicycling because it is a viable and environmentally-sound form of transportation, an excellent form of fitness and provides quality family recreation. Also, bicycle commuting is an effective means to improve air quality, reduce traffic congestion, and conserve energy.
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.
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.
In accepting the Proclamation, Phil Scanlan, a member of the Amelia Island Trails Association, used the opportunity to highlight work that has been done to promote trails not just for recreation purposes, but to provide safe transportation lanes for commuters and residents who do not use automobiles. He expressed hope that the city and county would explore ways to dedicate transportation revenues toward trail construction and maintenance to accommodate growing dependence on island trails.
CODE ENFORCEMENT APPRECIATION WEEK: May 29, 2017- June 2, 2017
Code Enforcement Officers and staff provide for the safety, health and welfare of the citizens in this community through the enforcement of building, zoning, housing, business, resort rental, environmental and other codes and ordinances. Code Enforcement Officers and staff are often not credited for the jobs that they do in saving lives, protecting property values, and improving neighborhoods and quality of life. Often their efforts go unnoticed, even after code compliance has been accomplished due to their efforts and expertise.
Code Enforcement Officers are certified, dedicated, well-trained, and highly responsible individuals who take their jobs seriously and are proud of their department and the local government within which they serve. The Florida Association of Code Enforcement (F.A.C.E.) has declared the first week of June be set aside by local government to honor and recognize their Code Enforcement Officers.
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.