Cash for Clunkers Crashed?

cash-for-clunkers1Almost as fast as the Cash for Clunkers program was launched, it is in danger of being over. The program has been very popular, helping people trade in older gas-guzzling cars for newer fuel efficient models. In just a week, the $1 billion allotted for the program has been issued. According to one article I read, auto analysis firm J.D. Powers Associates has determined that “cash for clunkers” has created 110,000 new sales. At $3,500 and $4,500 each rebate, it sure didn‚Äôt take long to crash Cash for Clunkers.

Originally, the automakers and legislators wanted the budget to be $4 billion, but the administration opted for the lower budget. They may need to figure out how to expand that money now due to high demand and pressure from the auto manufacturers and the public.

Our local dealerships are reporting that the program was suspended as of Friday morning, but on Friday afternoon Obama administration officials opted to keep it going through the weekend while options are considered. There is a bill that has been presented to add another $2 billion through September 30, 2010. If you are one of the many people that wants to take advantage of this program, stand by. Be sure to contact your local dealership for details before you head down and face disappointment.

Growing Summer Vegetables in North Florida

summer-vegetable-gardenHere on Amelia Island in North Florida it is not too late to start a post summer vegetable garden. We still have at least 60 to 75 days of warm weather left and many plants will produce fruit in less than this time. I recommend using already established plantings, rather then starting from seed as this lengthens the harvest time. Remember that because of our extreme heat in August, you may have to water frequently to maintain the plants. Consider planting a container garden or a scaled down bed for your vegetables.

Many peppers have a short harvest time. Some of these are; Sweet banana, habanera, jalapeno and Thai hot peppers. Most of these mature in 60-80 days when planted from seedlings. Bush beans are also a good bet for the summer as they are ready to harvest in 50-60 days from planting. Many varieties do well here.

Cucumbers are a decent bet too as they only take 50-65 days to harvest. Okra is another good choice with a 50-75 day cycle. Many varieties of squash are excellent choices as well. Straight neck and crookneck yellow squash, and zucchini only take 40-55 days to produce fruit. Make sure you add plenty of nutrients to your soil and don’t forget the banana peels. Water frequently and enjoy fresh vegetables in September and October from your own garden.

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2009-2010 Nassau County School Calendar

school-calendarHere is the official 2009-2010 Nassau County School Calendar:

August 24, 2009 School begins and is an early dismissal day for students.
September 5, 2009 No school, Labor Day Holiday
October 23, 2009 the first semester grading period ends.
October 26, 2009 is a non-school day for students, Teacher planning day
October 27, 2009 is a non-school day for students, Staff Development
November 11, 2009 No school, Veteran’s Day Holiday
November 25, 2009 is an early dismissal day for students.
November 26 – 27, 2009 No School – Happy Thanksgiving
December 18, 2009 is an early dismissal day for students.
December 21st, 2009 thru January 4th, 2010 is Christmas Break.
YES, I said Christmas – Still my Web site, still my 1st amendment right!!!
January 18, 2010 is a non-school day for students, Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday
January 21, 2010 the second semester grading period ends.
January 22, 2010 Teacher planning day, no school for students.
February 15, 2010 is a non-school day for students, President’s Day Holiday
March 29th, 2010 the end of the third semester grading period.
April 2, 2010 Teacher planning day, no school for students.
April 5th thru the 9th, 2010 is Spring Break!
April 19, 2010 Ally at the Desk gets her Learner’s Permit – Clear the Roads!
May 31st, 2010 is a school holiday for teachers and students.
June 9, 2010 is the last day of school and also an early dismissal day for students.

Weather make-up days if required are November 25th, December 21 and 22nd, January 4th and February 15th.

Florida Summer Thunderstorms

storm-in-floridaJuly and August are some of the hottest and most violent months for summer weather and thunderstorms in Florida. Temperatures can easily remain in the high 90’s to low 100’s for weeks on end cooking anything and everything that’s left exposed. Black asphalt parking lots are often hot enough to fry an egg and the thought of no air conditioning scares even the most granola individual. Bringing with these extremely warm temperatures are the droves of tourist visiting the Island, fishermen both on shore and off, beach goers and the dreaded and spectacular afternoon thunder showers.

Most of the rainfall on Amelia Island takes place during the early afternoon and finishes up around the 7PM time frame. This is due to the wind patterns this time of year. The ocean breezes are drawn in replacing the hot air that is rising off the Island. Warm water, high humidity and an abundant amount of built up heat cause these summer thunderstorms to build quickly and quietly, packing a huge punch of lightening, rain and wind to the affected areas. These storms are often experienced first hand by those visiting our Island. Not knowing what to look for or the corrective action to take when these storms are building, places you directly in harms way.

Some signs to look for are darkening skies, windy conditions, the rumble of thunder and a drop in air temperature. Some of the worst places to get caught in these types of summer storms are the beach and out on the water either boating or jet skiing. Out of the two, the beach offers the quickest means for shelter either retreating to a structure or car. Since these storms are typically generated in the south west and build quickly, it is unlikely you will have lots of time to vacate the beach for shelter. At the first sign of dark skies or cooler temperatures, that is your cue to leave the beach, right then.

On a boat you are more limited to options but should take the same corrective measures as on the beach. Should you get caught in a summer thunderstorm there are several things to consider; first keep everyone in the boat seated and place all antennas in the down position. Take a course that gets you and your crew to the closest boat ramp or marina that offers shelter of some type. If you are offshore, treat these storms with lots of respect! You may experience heavy winds and rapid building seas followed by a period of time that your vision may limited due to the rains. If you are unable to see clearly do not attempt to enter the channel until your complete vision has been restored, the last thing you want to do is miss the markers and end up grounding or worse, hitting the jetties or another boat. Keep your motor on and do not anchor in these conditions; while keeping head way towards shore point your boat into the seas to maintain complete control.

Afternoon summer thunderstorms are just a part of the season here in Florida and if you are aware of the signs and take immediate action when these storms pop up, you’ll keep yourself and your family safe.

Bee’s Knees II

Photo by: Allrecipes

Photo by: Allrecipes

Honey is 80% natural sugar that is sweeter than regular sugar. This summer drink is sweet because it is made with honey. Check out the water content when you purchase honey, the less water in the honey, the better quality. Vitamins in honey include B6, thiamin and niacin among certain amino acids. Honey also has calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc. This recipe from Vikki Hollis calls for honey, so consider this another way to have an adult beverage that is good for you, too.

1.25L pineapple juice
1.25L grapefruit juice
250g honey
300ml gin

1. In a blender, combine pineapple juice, grapefruit juice, honey and gin and mix until frothy. Pour into a jug and serve.

News Broadcast for July 31, 2009

search-amelia-news and SearchAmelia.TV News Broadcast for July 31, 2009. This is the first trial run of our local evening news production for and SearchAmelia.TV. We hope to bring this to a daily evening segment soon, but please do pardon our dust, we are still “under construction”!

Help a Neglected Horse Back to Health

hope-the-horseHope was found on Craig’s List. She was listed for free from a home in Hilliard, Florida, and in desperate need of Veterinary care. The Cheer Horse Ranch on Blackrock Road in Yulee was called as the owner has gained a reputation for nursing back to health rescued horses. This is their forth this year alone.

The children who attend the Cheers Summer Horse Camp named the sweet mare Hope; hope that she can be nursed back to health. Of all the rescue horses the ranch owners have taken in, Hope is in the worst condition.

Hope’s sweet disposition makes her a perfect addition to the camp that specializes in youth enrichment, and they could use a bit of community support to supply her with the required veterinary bills and all the hay she can eat. Look again at the picture, it truly says it all. So, if you some of you can spare a small amount, when added together they can indeed create a miracle for this horse and others like her. Please submit your checks to CHEERS, and mail it to 96841 Blackrock Road, Yulee, Florida, 32097.

For more information visit

Free Classified Ads are Available

free-sa-classifieds-hresThe new FREE classifieds section of is up and working. You can now place as many ads as you want on the site. The link is located at the top of the page. These can be announcements, yard sales, items for sale, real estate ads for sale or for lease, job postings and just about anything else.

There is a limit of three images per ad and each image cannot be more than 150kb. Ads can have up to 750 words of text to describe the item for sale and they will not be visible until they are approved by our editor – for obvious reasons. We will do our best to only approve legitimate advertisements.

All ads have a life span of eight days and you will get a notification that the ad is about to expire, you can renew the ad if you want to at that time. All of this is FREE of charge to residents in and around Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach, Yulee and Eastern Nassau County, Florida.

Kingfish Fever in Full Swing

fishing-boatBy: Captain Jim
Cleansweep Charters

Kingfish fever, although satisfied somewhat by the recent king mackerel tournaments held locally, should still be in full swing for all of us who get giddy over the sound of a screaming reel drag or the sight of a skyrocketing king. Bait should be readily available along Amelia Island’s beaches as well as those of Cumberland Island in the form of menhaden (pogies). Look for dark areas in the water and or flips on the surface.

Try to ease up slowly to the edge of the school of bait before launching your cast net. Don’t overload the live-well as too many pogies will get fatigued and not troll well. Trolling speeds should be extremely slow to allow a natural presentation of the live bait. Change out baits regularly to keep them frisky in your spread. Bait pods near the beach can attract a variety of fish feeding on the mass quantities of menhaden and it sometimes pays off to free-line a live pogy close to a bait pod for kings, tarpon, redfish or jack crevale.

Kings will be around almost all the near-shore reefs, along the beaches and in the St. Mary’s channel from the jetty rocks to the STM sea buoy. Look for bait and Spanish mackerel schools on or below the surface, where you see birds working an area and along the tide lines for best results. Temperature also is important as colder water can push kings farther offshore. 80 degrees or there about, seems to be a good standard. More tips to follow soon. In the mean time go fishing, because you can’t catch ‘em from the couch. If you need a charter, call me at (904) 753-0882.

Has the U.S. Economy Turned the Corner?

economy-turnsBased on the evidence presented by the USA Today, the answer would be yes, the US economy has turned the corner. The paper has its own proprietary index that suggests 4Q in particular will serve up an upside GDP surprise (see page 4B). The front page of the USA today runs with Reports Show Economy Mending; the Fed’s Beige Book (see more below) was rife with talk of “stabilization” and the pace of decline “moderating”. But are there still lingering strains? Absolutely ‚Äî and for how stretched the marginal household is, have a look at Unpaid Property Taxes Hit Localities. Moreover, as Washington pumps the economy with fiscal steroids, the state governments are in amputation mode.

But there is no doubt that after the sharpest downturn in housing, production and employment since the 1930s, that the laws of gravity themselves prevent the economy from any further deterioration. Nothing is going to zero, and there is always the chance that housing sales edge back up towards their demographic levels, auto sales recover to their replacement demand levels (plus GM getting back into leasing), and inventories get rebuilt in line with spending levels. The government has its hands in 40% of the economy and when public sector officials can influence how banks can value their assets, how mortgage servicers should be doing their business, who shall fail in the financial industry and who shall not; and when we have a central bank that is not just the lender but the market of last resort, even for RVs, and a government willing to run up its deficit to levels that would have frightened FDR , then perhaps we can end up seeing a recovery occur sooner than we had thought.

Garage and Yard Sales, the answer to finding bargains


Garage Sales for bargain hunters

Saturday mornings are usually filled with quality time between my wife and I dedicating the early hours scanning through garage and yard sales in the area. As many of us are slowly winding down from a couple of decades of abundant buying sprees, often collecting merchandise that still has the store tags on them, weekend garage sales, moving sales and yard sales signs have become as abundant as for rent and for sale signs. People are looking to make a little cash out of stuff they bought mostly because it was “nice” to have and credit cards carried an easy seduction.

Now that times have changed a “tad”, the tide has turned and people wonder how they can get rid of a lot of this stuff. Last weekend my wife took me to a community yard sale in the Timbercreek Development west of I-95 on SR 301. As a rule we hardly ever leave Amelia Island for sales in the boonies, mostly because you can go down a road like Blackrock Road for 20 minutes chasing an advertised yard sale and never find it. Except however, when it comes to organized neighborhood sales. Then we’ll be there.

Garage sales are nothing new and have been as common on any Saturday morning as cartoons. They are typically held by one family during the morning hours operating out of their garage or driveway where items that the family no longer wants or needs are offered and sold at great deals to others. A typical garage sale last for 3-6 hours and the goal is to not only make extra money, but to also clean out closets and rooms that are stuffed with a variety of things we once couldn’t live without, but now need to be removed from the home as undesirable or in the current economy as something that may get some money back in the pocket. It also gives us a potential chance to better organize the house and to make more room for new “things” that are surely going to take their place.

There is no permit needed for a family to host a garage sale out of their home, nor is there a need to charge sales tax. These types of sales are exercised freely on a regular basis all over the country, with the exception of one group of homeowners, the ones that live in gated communities and deed restricted developments. They need their association’s approval.

Several of our friends and partners happen to live in some of these McMansion Parks and have never given much thought to the rules and regulations that prohibit them from having garage sales at individual homes.

However the statutes usually allow homeowners semi-annual garage sales centrally located at the clubhouse facilities. In a discussion with my partner Jamie we discovered a great home based business opportunity for an enterprising individual, because trying to manage more than two households coming together in one sale, is nearly impossible, let alone trying to get the entire development to choose a Saturday, put in the common effort, show up at 6am and allow absolute strangers to rummage through your stuff. Having an independent person specialized in this type of event planning would be a welcome solution.

He or she would be organizing and putting on garage sales for those neighborhoods that are restricted. This would include gaining permission from the property owner’s association for the use of a common area within the development, attending a monthly meeting within the community advising all the homeowners of the event, advertising and promoting the sale and physically running the event. Other services that could be offered are assistance with transportation from the private homes to the sale site, making sales tables available and help with pricing of items to be sold. After-the-sale logistics would include the management of household items to be returned to the owners or arranging the items to be donated and transported to a charity of their choice.

Compensation for this service would work something along the lines of a flat fee for each family to enter the sale, but most importantly and this is why I bring this story to the forefront, it could be made part of a developer’s advertising and marketing budget in these economic times. WHY?

Well our trip to Timbercreek Development last week on SR 301 took a caravanserai of several hundreds of cars (and occupants) from Amelia Island out to a residential neighborhood with units for sale which they would have never gone to without this Neighborhood Sale as a trigger.

If I would have been the developer/financer of that neighborhood I would have gladly paid someone $1,000 or more to bring this type of traffic through the neighborhood. The makes and models of vehicles that we saw hunting the sale should be a clear indication that it would be very ignorant to assume these folks were cheap bargain hunters who could never afford to buy a property in Timbercreek. I know. My wife and I see a lot of the same “hunters” every Saturday morning. It’s a sport and a social event even though we often spent a couple of hundred dollars on bargains every weekend. Just imagine how many potential neighbors we would already have met on this Saturday morning event.

Again if I were a developer looking for qualified traffic, a regularly sponsored Yard Sale Event would be one great way to attract potential buyers. I would also kick my marketing department in gear and let them pull out all stops on those Saturday mornings. A well advertised model home with the right incentive program would have gotten some real attention at Timbercreek, oh well, maybe next time.

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Amanda’s Sangria

Photo by: Stargal

Photo by: Stargal

With deep roots in Spain, Sangria is a fruit based punch of red wine, seasonal fruits and soda or champagne. This drink is always great at social gatherings, easy to make and even easier to drink. This recipe is a little different from the classic Spanish recipe, but still a tasty adult beverage.

1 (750 milliliter) bottle red wine
1 Liter of lemonade
1 orange
2 limes
1 cup fresh pineapple – peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup cherries, pitted and halved

1. Slice the fruit up into bite-size pieces and place in a punch bowl. You may want to slightly crush the citrus fruits to get a little more of the flavor into the punch.
2. Pour in the bottle of red wine, and stir in lemonade. Taste as you go along – you don’t want to over-dilute the wine!

Sexual Battery Suspect Sought



The Fernandina Beach Police Department is actively working a residential sexual battery that occurred this afternoon in a townhome subdivision near Sadler Road. The juvenile victim was home alone and confronted inside her home by an intruder after she had been jogging in the neighborhood.

The suspect was armed with a knife and did cut the victim during the assault. The suspect is described as a very skinny white male, 40 – 50 years of age, with a scruffy reddish-brown and gray beard, and nearly shoulder length hair. He was last seen wearing a dirty yellow Polo shirt and khaki shorts to the knees.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Fernandina Beach Police Department at 904-277-7342.

Black Bear Safety Tips

blackbear-cropBy: Eric Childers

We have the privilege of having an indigenous Black Bear on Amelia Island. I wish to convey to you all the importance of following a few simple rules to ensure this bear is allowed to live.

1) Do not feed the bear. If this bear associates people with food he/she will lose the natural fear of people and become a danger to people. Bears that are not afraid of people are destroyed, NOT relocated!

2) Put bungee cords on your trash lids so the bear doesn’t associate trash cans with food.

3) If the bear is in your yard open a window and bang some pots and pans together to discourage the bear from returning.

4) If the bear is near a road blast your horn to frighten the bear.

5) Bears are very smart and are generally afraid of people; let’s keep it that way so the bear will not be destroyed.

6) Tell your children not to run, but to bang anything they have together and make as much noise as they can to scare the bear off.

SearchAmelia and Parago Exports Officially Legal

search-amelia-imageIt is our utmost pleasure to be able to announce that SearchAmelia and Parago Exports LLC are now officially legal business entities in the City of Fernandina Beach. In a short but intense altercation several weeks ago, it was pointed out on several occasions by the local Fernandina Beach Newsleader that we were not officially licensed by the city to do business inside the city limits.

With deep gratitude towards the Newsleader in exercising its policing function, we have now corrected that unfortunate oversight and are ready to unfold and activate our plans for local tourism and travel TV, Web streamed to the world via and the expansion of with a customer driven restaurant review site called Amelia Bites and the inclusion of Amelia Island Classifieds as a free service to the local community as a recession goodwill gesture.


Both services are operating in beta right now, meaning we’re still improving certain functions and eliminating potential glitches, but both will be fully operational by August 15, 2009. When this is released, everyone can upload their own reviews and classified ads. As the next expansion consideration we are researching a job portal to announce the job opportunities in the marketplace.

The plans for include supporting the city government in its efforts to communicate and inform, as well as developing a separate commercial entity that will “sell” the destination Amelia Island to the world. With the current first numbers coming in for the Website , which so far is completely un-supported by search engine optimization and promotion on the world wide web, the site is showing a very substantial interest in Amelia Island as a tourism destination.

We are currently expanding the video production capabilities with additional state-of-the-art HD equipment which should all be in place and operating by the end of August. Our sales force which is headed by Lawrence Mackie is undergoing expansion as well, while offers to contribute stories and news from local sources and individuals come in daily.

Last but not least, we are currently experimenting with the production of a 5 minute Daily News Bit to be aired on the SearchAmelia.TV website at 7pm every weeknight. Tentative starting date for this service is Monday, August 10.

If you have news to report, please click on the “Contact Us’ option at the top of the page or use the following contact information:

Stay tuned as we are reaching across the globe to create new business opportunities for our community and promote responsible tourism growth.

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