Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
Despite the fact that three Fernandina Beach City commissioners last week voted not to fund July 4th fireworks, thereby upholding the decision made last year during budget deliberations, Tim Poynter seems to be the only commissioner taking public flak from this decision. Tim is anything but shy about explaining his positions on the issues that come before the city commission. He believes that it is important for the citizens to understand why commissioners vote the way they do, even if they do not agree with how they voted on any particular issue.
It is not difficult to find Tim, since he is a hands-on manager of two local eateries on North 3rd Street: Café Karibo and Timoti’s Fry Shak. He also holds an advertised, monthly town hall meeting at 7:00 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month in the courtyard behind Café Karibo, where his wife Theresa joins him for a frank exchange of ideas with interested citizens over iced tea and freshly baked cookies.
There is an intensity about Tim Poynter that can be a bit startling for those more familiar with the conventional politician who talks around issues. Tim tackles questions and issues directly, sometimes leaving those more accustomed to small talk a bit bewildered. When you chat with him, you have his full attention and get his honest, candid opinion. An expression not in his vocabulary: political correctness.
With respect to the recent fireworks flap, Tim had a lot to say. “When the commission made the decision to cut July 4th fireworks from the budget last year, not one person came before the commission to protest. We were dealing with the need to make lots of cuts, and this was just one of them. Fernandina Beach was not the only city to do so, either. Jacksonville Beach also had to eliminate this expense.”
But what about the public outcry this year? “Fernandina Beach will have July 4th fireworks this year,” Tim asserted. “The difference is that they will be paid for by the community, not the government. Many of the angry people who called me after the commission vote were not even people who lived in the city.”
So how will the fireworks be paid for if the city doesn’t fund them? “When the commission declined to fund the fireworks, local businesses immediately stepped up to the plate to raise the necessary money. The Historic [Fernandina] Downtown Merchants Association and the [Amelia Island Fernandina Beach Yulee] Chamber of Commerce are collecting money and pledges to make sure there will be fireworks. Isn’t this how things should work? The 4th of July is a time for communities to come together to celebrate our country’s birthday. If the fireworks are important to you in that celebration, why wouldn’t you or your business be willing to support the effort?”
OK, let’s assume that this year’s fireworks will be good to go. But what about next year? “You know, the next city budget is not going to be better. It will probably be worse. With all the calls out there for lower taxes and less government, the city can’t continue to do everything it has in the past. We can’t afford it. We have a whole year to raise funds for next year’s celebrations. Between the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Merchants, I’m sure we can come up with some great ideas to do this. I’ve even read that businesses in some communities have jars at the cash registers to collect contributions for fireworks. Why wouldn’t we want to find some easy ways for folks to help out whether they live in the city or Yulee or any other place? ”
While it did not come up during our chat, I discovered that Tim was one of the first merchants to contribute toward this year’s fireworks display. He has sent a check for a thousand dollars, representing a $500 contribution from each of his two downtown businesses. So if you think Tim Poynter is anti-fireworks or against July 4th celebrations, think again. If you or your business would also like to contribute to this year’s fireworks celebration, you may donate cash or checks (payable to AIFBY Chamber Fireworks Fund”). Contributions may be dropped off at the Chamber of Commerce, 961687 Gateway Blvd., Suite 101G, between the hours of 9-5, Monday through Friday.
Editor’s note: As of 11:00 a.m. on June 14th, the A.I. – Fernandina Beach – Yulee Chamber of Commerce is reporting total monies received to date at $3035.00.
June 14, 2012 1:21