Nassau County Attorney/Administrator receives annual performance evaluation

By Cindy Jackson
September 20, 2019

County Attorney/Administrator Mike Mullins

At the BOCC meeting of September 18, Director of Human Resources, Ashley Metz, reported on the County Attorney/Administrator’s annual performance evaluation.

As part of that report, she noted all commissioners had responded to the survey, overall, it was an exemplary report.

The survey consisted of some 13 questions and ratings of Outstanding and/or Exemplary were overwhelmingly received.

In totality, a mere 4.62% of responses were in the category of Satisfactory and not one survey response suggested “Needs Improvement.”

HR Director Metz noted that as a result of such an evaluation, a salary increase may be received as approved by the Board of County Commissioners.

County Attorney/County Manager Michael Mullin quickly spoke to say “Let me interject Continue reading

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Invest in higher teacher pay today for a better Florida tomorrow

Florida Council of 100
By Chris Corr
September 21, 2019

Editor’s Note: Chris Corr is the President of Raydient Places & Properties, Rayonier, and the current Chair of the Florida Council of 100.

You probably remember an outstanding teacher who impacted your life: a science teacher who inspired you to become an engineer, or an English teacher who recommended a novel that changed your outlook on life.

These are the kinds of teachers who truly make a difference. And these are the kinds of teachers that we need more of in Florida. But if we want the best, most dedicated teachers for our children, we need to pay them enough to want to enter and stay in the classroom.

The need to bolster teacher salaries is one of the key findings in the Horizons 2040 Project: PreK-12. The comprehensive study is the latest in a series of groundbreaking reports from the Florida Council of 100, a leading nonpartisan group of business and civic leaders for almost 60 years.

Florida gets good grades for rising test scores, fewer achievement gaps and skyrocketing graduation rates over the past 15 years. But the council set out to provide the long-term vision and initiatives to continue building on Florida’s educational success for generations to come.

The result is a report that lights the way for the next 20 years using nine “beacons.’’ They run the gamut from staying committed to rigorous standards to providing a higher-quality Pre-K system with additional extended programs as needed.

One of the most important recommendations is increasing teacher salaries to recruit and retain the most talented educators. After effective parenting, the No. 1 determinant of a student’s success is having an outstanding teacher.

The report found that innovative teachers and school administrators are vital to providing the kinds of learning environments where students can flourish.

We are encouraged that Governor Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran have taken the leadership on this important issue.

Building a better education system doesn’t come without a steep price. Our state is ranked 46thin the nation when it comes to average teacher pay, or about 20 percent below average. And, only 3 percent of Florida ACT test-takers said they wanted to be teachers, the lowest number in the country.

But we can change that. The report offers specific policy initiatives to move Florida forward and get us where we need to be. These include:

Raising teachers’ salaries to make them competitive with those of other highly valued professions and comparable to those in the highest-performing states.

Creating compensation packages for teachers that include incentives like assistance for housing or child care, or forgiveness of student loans.

Enhancing the image of the teaching profession to make it more attractive to would-be teachers.

Providing teachers with the leadership skills they need to succeed, such as specialized middle school training.

Creating environments where teachers feel they belong, have a voice and are a part of the school team.

The council spent three years crisscrossing the state visiting successful schools and getting input from students, teachers and other leaders. The resulting report envisions a brighter future if we lay the groundwork now.

We owe it to ourselves and our children to commit to enhancing Florida’s education so we all can prosper in years to come. Top-notch, passionate and caring teachers are the ones who can inspire our children to greatness. Let’s make sure Florida’s schools are filled with them.

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Fernandina Beach lowers city’s insurance rates

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst

September 20, 2019

Sean Woleshin

At their September 17, 2019 Regular Meeting, the Fernandina Beach City Commission unanimously approved Resolution 2019-162, which accepted a twelve-month renewal offer with a two-year rate guarantee by Preferred Governmental Insurance Trust (PGIT) for insurance coverage including, but not limited to, City property (building and contents), general liability, workers’ compensation, law enforcement liability, public officials’ liability, automobile liability and property damage.

Sean Woleshin of Harden Insurance made a brief presentation to the FBCC and presented slides which showed a decline in proposed rates for the upcoming year. The City’s incumbent insurance provider is PGIT, a government-sponsored insurance trust.  This is a non-profit government insurance pool authorized by Florida Statute.  PGIT was one of two firms that responded to Harden’s RFP in seeking insurance for the City.  Woleshin said while both responses were competitive the PGIT response provided guaranteed rates for 2 years and added a million dollars of coverage for deadly weapons events.

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This Fall with Amelia Lifelong Learning – Come learn with us

Amelia Lifelong Learning
Submitted by Evelyn C. McDonald
September 20, 2019 2:00 p.m.

Did you ever wonder when people first started to use perfumes? Did you assume hypnotism started in Europe? Do you sometimes wonder how your brain came to the conclusions it did? Do you wish you could take better photos? Amelia Lifelong Learning has some of the answers for you. Recognizing that many of the people who take our courses go up north for the summers, we are debuting a few short courses this fall.

The History of Hypnotism is a four-week course, given by Carlos Bustabad, and starting September 23. Among other things, you will find out that the Egyptians practiced it. Marge Powell will present the History of Perfume. Clue: perfume wasn’t just for women. Hers is a three-week course beginning October 21.

Moving from a historical to a current perspective, Terri Dean will provide insight into what’s going on in brain research and why we may not actually think the way we assume we do. Terri’s class is four weeks and begins on October 28. Lea Gallardo will repeat her popular two session courses on photography – the Basics on October 8 and Composition on October 15.

Longer courses (five to eight weeks) address areas such as foreign relations, future Continue reading

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FSCJ to Host Town Hall to Discuss Opioid Crisis

September 20, 2019

In observance of National Recovery Month, Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) will host a Town Hall event to discuss the opioid crisis in Jacksonville. All community members are invited to participate in this event which will feature a screening of the PBS Documentary “Addiction,” followed by a guided discussion with an expert panel of local professionals who are helping to manage and find a solution to the issue.

The event will take place on Friday, September 27, 2019, from 9-11:30 a.m. at the
FSCJ Downtown Campus, Advanced Technology Center, Rooms T-140/141,
401 West State St., Jacksonville, FL 32202

All are welcome and online registration is required. Visit to register and learn more.

The panel will be moderated by Chelsea Garcia, a member of AmeriCorps VISTA. Panelists Continue reading

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