Mayor Declares November “Right Whale Month” in Fernandina Beach

City of Fernandina Beach
October 19, 2018 3:00 p.m.

On November 2, 2018, at 2:00 pm, Mayor John A. Miller will recognize the month of November as, “Right Whale Month” by order of Proclamation. The ceremony will take place in front of City Hall at 204 Ash Street, Fernandina Beach, and will be attended by members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Right whale and her calf (Photo: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

The North Atlantic right whale is a federally-protected endangeredspecies under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. As few as 450 right whales exist today. The greatest threats to right whales are collisions from vessels, entanglement in trap/pot and gillnet fishing gear.  Right whales are slow-moving and difficult to see even close to the surface because their profile features a broad, flat back and no dorsal fin.

Proclaiming the month in Fernandina Beach is fitting, as this will be the location of the 11thAnnual Right Whale Festival in November of 2019. The Right Whale Festival celebrates the annual return of endangered North Atlantic right whales to the warm coastal water off northeast Florida and Georgia, where they give birth to and nurse their young. This family-fun event raises awareness of the threats to right whales and how to aid in their recovery. The festival highlights local efforts to protect these whales from extinction as well as ocean-themed activities and exhibits that emphasize education and environmentally responsible adventures and products.

The City of Fernandina Beach looks forward to supporting efforts to protect these majestic animals while they’re in Florida during their calving season (each November through April).

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Nassau Community Band to perform at St. Michael Catholic Church Annual Trunk or Treat and Fall Festival on Saturday, October 27

Nassau County Band
Press Release
Submitted by Lori Kale
October 19, 2018 12:00 p.m.

University of North Florida Professor and Director of the Nassau Community Band, Dr. Marc Dickman, leads the band as they prepare for their upcoming concert at the St. Michael Catholic Church Annual Trunk or Treat and Fall Festival on Saturday, October 27, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Nassau Community Jazz Band will open at 7:00 p.m. followed by the concert band.

The event is free and includes trunk or treat, scary Science table, cakewalks, bounce houses Continue reading

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Interstate 95 and A1A/SR 200 outside lane closures in Nassau County For installation of overhead DMS structures

Press Release
October 19, 2018 10:00 a.m.

Motorists can expect an outside travel lane closure on A1A/State Road 200 Saturday, October 20 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. from west of Wildlight Avenue to east of Mentoria Road near Burger King, depending on weather. There will also be an outside travel lane closure on A1A/State Road 200 Thursday, October 25 from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. from west of Wildlight Avenue to east of Mentoria Road near Burger King, and an outside lane closure on A1A/State Road 200 eastbound, on the same night, from east of Hudson Drive to west of Semper Fi Drive, weather permitting. The lane closures are necessary for installation of the Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) support structures.

The 17-mile ITS Freeway Management project began in November 2017 with completion Continue reading

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Weekly comments from Dale Martin

Dale Martin
City Manager
Fernandina Beach
October 19, 2018 12:00 p.m.

Dale Martin

Earlier this month I received a summons for jury duty in Nassau County. It seems as if such as summons is bemoaned by most recipients. I felt privileged to participate in this civic duty. Many years ago, I had served as a jury foreman in a civil trial, and despite the subject of that trial- a dispute involving low income housing tax credits- I found it to be an exciting experience, and looked forward to serve as a juror again.

I arrived at the County’s Robert M. Foster Justice Center near I-95 a little earlier than the appointed time, looking to meet Mr. Steve Murphy, General Manager of the City’s Golf Course, who had also received a jury summons for the same day. We met in the parking lot and followed the stream of other potential jurors into the courthouse. Our opportunity for conversation didn’t last long as once we entered the appropriate room with others, we were directed to different rows to fill gaps in the rows of chairs.

After completing a short application for jury compensation, it was interesting to watch as other citizens filed into the room. From my perspective, it was a “Parade of America,” representing a unity of purpose for government rather than the hatred of differences for politics during this election season. I recognized a few others in the roughly one hundred or so that had “won the jury summons lottery” [note to self- remember to purchase Mega Millions ticket this evening]. The people in the room were subdued, but the environment did have a anticipatory “buzz.” Everyone was appropriately dressed in recognition of the Continue reading

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WTF responds to FO article on Clyde Davis resignation

Submitted by Christopher Ragucci
CEO Worldwide Terminals Fernandina (WTF)
October 18, 2018 — 10:38 a.m.

Fernandina Observer notes:  Mr. Ragucci asked to rebut and/or clarify information presented in our article about Clyde Davis’ resignation as Port Authority Attorney.  His response is provided below. 

Christopher Ragucci

Worldwide Terminals Fernandina (“WTF”) acquired Nassau Terminals LLC on February 7, 2018

Nassau Terminals was and still is the Operator of the Port of Fernandina pursuant to the existing Operating Agreement (“OA”) which has 5 years left to go.

Under the old Operating Agreement, OHPA had no legal right to approve the acquisition other than WTF needed their consent to pledge the OA to our bank as collateral. They did not “hire” us to be their Port Operator.

As part of the acquisition, WTF paid-off $6.2 million of OHPA’s outstanding bond debt, and agreed to finance another $4.56 million in Advance Use Fees that OHPA owed to Nassau Terminals, with the firm agreement and commitment that by OHPA’s Counsel (who advised that he represents the Commissioners) AND OHPA’s Chairman that we would REPAID through the execution of new long-term (30-year) Operating Agreement which would allow us to recoup this debt (plus interest) over 12 years. This was the only alternative since OHPA was unable to pay us the $10.7 million it owed.

OHPA (through OHPA’s Counsel and Chairman) agreed with this arrangement and encouraged us to go forward with the acquisition. This agreement was witnessed by OHPA’s Financial Advisor.

For the sake of clarity, WTF is OWED and has been carrying $10.7 million of OHPA’s debt since February 7, 2018.

A 30-year Operating Agreement is standard in the Port industry and is required to support the tens of millions of dollars in investment that is required. Without this agreement in place, WTF will not be able to make the investments that are required to be made for the long-term survival and prosperity of the Port.

Davis’ statement that WTF “has not paid monies due to OHPA under the current Operating Agreement” is patently false. There are presently no monies due and owed under the existing Operating Agreement.WTF has honored all its obligations under the existing Operating Agreement.

Davis’ statement that “3rdquarter dockage, wharfage and use feesare due and owing” is also not true. If the existing Operating Agreement remains in force, these monies would not be due and owing until the end of October.  Irrespective, any dockage, wharfage and use fees would be employed to OFFSET the $10.7mm owed by OHPA to WTF, as they have been for the previous two quarters, as ratified by OHPA resolutions.

The plan that was agreed to between the WTF and OHPA in April was to make sure that the negotiations of the new Operating Agreement were completed by October 1st. This was to ensure that all payments under the new Operating Agreement would fund OHPA’s NEW operating budget. There is no financial crisis here for OHPA. They just need to conclude the negotiations in an orderly and businesslike fashion and allow us to get back to our focus on growing the Port of Fernandina and attracting more ships and new shippers. Continue reading

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First Presbyterian Church to celebrate 160th anniversary with “Homecoming”

First Presbyterian Church
Press Release
October 18, 2018 1:00 p.m.

State Senator William Naylor Thompson’s Funeral at First Presbyterian Church Fernandina. (1896)

On November 18, 2018 First Presbyterian Church of Fernandina Beach will celebrate their 160th anniversary beginning at 8:30 a.m. with a total campus tour, and one worship service at 10:30 a.m. that will be followed by a traditional southern Homecoming “dinner on the grounds”. Former pastors, members and the community are invited to join in the celebration. For more information contact the church at 904 261 3837.

Time Line for November 18, 2018 Continue reading

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UF Health breaks ground on first health care facility in Wildlight

Nassau County Economic Development Board
October 15, 2018 11:00 a.m.

UF Health broke ground October 9, 2018 on a comprehensive medical office building in Wildlight, a new town under development in Nassau County. This is the first step in a strategic health alliance between UF Health, the University of Florida and Raydient Places + Properties that will bring a new style of healthy living to the region.

 One year ago, UF Health and the University of Florida were selected to provide medical and wellness services to Wildlight, a master planned community just east of Interstate 95 at the A1A exit.

The building will hold 40,000 square feet of office and medical space for primary care using a patient-centered model focused on prevention and early diagnosis, urgent care staffed by emergency medicine faculty, imaging services, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, mental health services, dentistry and a laboratory. Over time, UF Health may add other medical specialties, including sports medicine and orthopedics.

“UF Health is extremely excited to be part of this ambitious project that will bring thousands of people to this community,” said Leon L. Haley Jr., MD, MHSA, CEO of UF Health Jacksonville and dean of the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville. “Our part focuses on providing a wide range of health care services to the families that will make Wildlight their home.”

The medical office building is UF Health and UF’s first step in bringing health care and healthy living to Wildlight. The second facility, the UF Health Wellness Center, will be a 35,000-square-foot building that will include UF Health rehabilitation services and a YMCA.
Continue reading

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Worldwide Terminals continues to invest in Port of Fernandina

Worldwide Terminals Fernandina
October 18, 2018


Worldwide Terminals Fernandina(“WTF”), working in partnership with the Ocean Highway and Port Authority (“OHPA”), is pleased to announce that they have closed on a $2 million Bridge Financing Facility with BRANCH BANKING AND TRUST COMPANY (“BB&T”) for the acquisition of a Liebherr Mobile Harbor Crane (the “Crane”). This purchase will include all necessary attachments including a state-of-the-art container spreader, as well as onsite training.

The actual funding for the Crane was the result of a $2 million grant authorized by the Florida State Legislature, approved by Gov. Rick Scott, and funded through theFlorida Department of Transportation(“FDOT”) to the OHPA, and was the result of diligent efforts by State Senator Aaron Beanand State Representative Cord Byrd. The Bridge financing provided by BB&T facilitates the purchase and delivery of the Crane by alleviating timing issues with the FDOT funding.

Christopher T. Ragucci, Chief Executive of Worldwide Terminals Fernandina remarked, “We continue to believe that Nassau Terminals is an undiscovered gem in the growing Southeast region.  The acquisition of this Crane will support the continued growth of our Port operations. We are grateful to Gov. Scott and appreciate the dedication of Sen. Bean and Rep. Byrd to the growth of world trade and the economy in Nassau County.  I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our financial and equity partners in WTF, Four Wood Capital Partners, who arranged this innovative financing on behalf of OHPA.”

John M. Morale, Managing Partner at Four Wood Capital Partners who also serves as WTF’s Vice Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary commented, “We are pleased to work with a premier financial provider such as BB&T to secure the necessary funding for this project on behalf of our colleagues at OHPA. This transaction is a part of the first phase of our capital improvement plan for the Port which will bring more jobs and greater economic growth to Nassau County.  Further, we also note that we are in the process of finalizing a new long-term Operating Agreement with OHPA which we hope to have executed by October 4, 2018.”

“Strategically positioned ports are essential to retaining, as well as attracting industry to an area and we are blessed to have one here in Nassau County/Northeast Florida to help us achieve both goals”, remarked Laura DiBella, Executive Director of the Nassau County Economic Development Board, and the Port Director for the Port of Fernandina.  “I am thankful for Worldwide Terminals’ commitment to our unique general cargo port and even more excited to work with them”.

Continue reading

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Beach parking remains free for now in Fernandina Beach

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
October 17, 2018 – 2:20 p.m.

Question:  How do you get the public to turn out for Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) meetings?

Answer:  Place the potential for paid beach parking on the agenda.

FBCC chambers were packed solid for the October 16, 2018 Regular Meeting with city residents, non-city residents, proponents and opponents, and the curious all to express their concerns and listen to commissioners discuss the potential of eliminating free parking at city beach accesses and beach parks.  This was the last FBCC meeting before the November 6 Election, during which two commission seats will be up for grabs.

Citizen concerns grew with the publication of two recent articles in the Fernandina ObserverCity Manager Dale Martin’s weekly column  in which he put forth the plan approved unanimously by the Beach Committee; and Commissioner Chip Ross’ opinion column asking the question who really pays for beach parking.

As proposed, Resolution 2018-30 established a City Commission goal of determining whether to implement paid beach parking to reduce the burden of beach operation costs on City residents, since data indicates the preponderance of beach users are, in fact, non-City residents.

On a 3-2 vote with Commissioner Roy Smith and Vice Mayor Len Kreger dissenting, the FBCC instructed the City Manager to prepare a formal plan to consider the implementation of paid beach parking with the following conditions:

a) City residents, validated through the review of drivers’ licenses and motor vehicle registrations, will be exempt. [NOTE: The city has since modified this to permit continued free beach parking for residential property owners of the city in addition to residents.]
b) Paid parking will be implemented at all City beach parking facilities.
c) Paid parking will be implemented on a year-round basis.
d) Other conditions as directed by the City Commission.

“Other conditions” added by Commissioner Chip Ross included a long list of data requests, cost analysis, enforcement issues, fine questions and details on how money collected would be dedicated to beach improvements.  Other commissioners agreed, asking also that ideas raised by the public during the meeting be considered.

The City Manager will present a recommended implementation plan to the City Commission at the City Commission Regular Meeting on December 18, 2018. Continue reading

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Nassau County Bird Club Field Trip – October 20

N.C. Bird Club
Press Release
Submitted by Bill George
October 17, 2018 5:00 p.m.

Roseate Spoonbill

WHERE: Goffinsville Ramp and Park
WHEN: Saturday October 20, 2018 at 8:30 a.m.
DIRECTIONS: From Amelia Island take 200/A1A to Nassauville Rd and turn left and drive approximately 4.5 miles to Goffinsville Rd. Turn left and park in the area by the restrooms.
Please join us to look for migrating birds on the Nassau River and in the woods at the park. From here we will proceed to Holly Ramp. Bring binoculars, scopes, bug and sun lotions. Dress for the weather. If you have any questions, please contact Bill George at [email protected] or 612-709-4998.

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