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Even Churches Are Touched by the Recession

Church Buildings need maintenance, even in bad times

There are many who are praying that things will get better concerning our economy, and soon.  There are those who have not attended church in many years, yet are now going.  It’s bit like networking the shrinking opportunities. Personally I see nothing wrong with this, as I think prayer is a good thing.  Of course, I don’t think people should wait until things get so bad they feel as though they have no place to turn to before they start praying or attending church.

But where do Churches go when things go bad?

Where do the churches go when financial times turn against them?  The overhead for building, people and services is still there every month.

For the past two years churches have seen a constant decline in contributions due to the economy.  It seems the the mega churches have been hit the hardest as of course they have the largest overhead to contend with.  But even the small churches are feeling the pinch, especially when it comes to maintaining their buildings.

Church members turn to the Church in times of need for moral and financial support.  It is in these times of need though that Churches have less financial space and often resort to fundraisers and Yard Sales to collect much needed extra cash.  It seems that this recession has touched almost everyone, even the collection plates on Sunday.

Easter Weekend Events

Easter Weekend Events

Larry O'Neal comes to Amelia Island

Sounds on Centre with Instant Groove kicks off the weekend in downtown Fernandina Beach on Friday night, from 6 to 8:00 PM.

On Saturday, the new Turner Ace Hardware will have Larry “The Plant Guy” www.larrysgarden.com from radio and TV, at the Fernandina Store on April 3 from 2 to 4 pm. This is a perfect opportunity for you to come see the new store and ask Larry your landscape questions.

Easter in the Park is Saturday, from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM at Central Park on Atlantic Avenue.

Peterbrooke's Easter Bunny

Peterbrooke's Easter Bunny

Easter egg hunt at Grace Community Church – Join Grace Community Church at its annual Easter egg hunt at 11 a.m. Saturday at Yulee Middle School, 85439 Miner Road. The event is free and will feature a bounce house, games and snacks. Children 12 and under are invited to participate. For more information, call 491-0363 or go to www.gracenassau.com.

The Ritz Carlton is holding Easter Sunrise Service at 7 a.m., this is a non-denominational worship service on the ocean front.

Sunrise service is available with the Yulee Baptist Church. They will hold a communitywide Easter Sunrise Service at the Lofton Creek boat ramp on April 4 at 6:30 a.m. Bring your friends, family, a comfortable pop-up chair (or use one of the church’s metal ones), flashlight and blankets, if needed. There will be special music, whole-group singing and a short message. Come celebrate the Risen Christ.

Cross Easter Sky

Cross Easter Sky

Sunrise Easter service at Lofton Creek in Yulee. A communitywide Easter sunrise service hosted by Yulee Baptist Church will be at 7:00 AM on Sunday at Lofton Creek Boat Ramp off Florida A1A in Yulee.

Annual “Sonrise” service at Fort Clinch State Park. The East Nassau Ministers Association will host a community Easter “Sonrise” service at 7:10 a.m. Sunday at Fort Clinch State Park in Fernandina Beach. The Rev. L. Holton Siegling Jr., pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Fernandina Beach, will deliver the Easter message. All are welcome to attend.

Bible Baptist is holding Easter service at beach. This is their seventh annual sunrise Easter service at 7:10 a.m. Sunday at Main Beach. It will be followed by a pancake breakfast back at the church, 820 S. 14th St., Fernandina Beach. For more information, call 261-5457.

Easter Egg Hunt – There will be an Easter Egg Hunt in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island on Sunday April 4, 2010. This fun event will take place at Central Park on Atlantic Avenue from 2 to 2:30 PM.

Controversy about High Speed Train Funding in America

Harry Reid kills MagLev between Vegas and SoCal

I should point out up front that I personally am a vocal proponent of high speed trains as a cornerstone of domestic travel and transportation. Being born and raised in the Netherlands I have witnessed the birth and advance of high speed trains intimately and can vouch for its value, ease,comfort, safety, punctuality and economic sustainability, let alone its environmentally friendly use and the easing it creates for metro road traffic congestion.

Even though there is a distinct cultural transportation difference between Western Europe and North America, essentially reflected in preferred modes of transportation, an efficient railroad system saves money, increases productivity and saves the environment. A strategic Dash Train (Sprint) circuit between the quadrouple-cities of Amsterdam – Utrecht – Rotterdam and the Hague in the Netherlands beats any attempt of sensible road travel in speed, cost and environmental impact.

But Americans love their cars and its convenience and will take them to the grocery store 200 yards away to get a bottle of wine. They also became enamored with airplanes for longer distances in the early 1970s when air travel became affordable to the masses with the introduction of wide bodies. And now, more than 30 years after Europe, Japan and even China have adopted the long term vision that high speed rail is an important contribution to all forms of transportation, the US is still battling its apparent functionality.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood last week delivered a stern rebuke to aviation experts and executives who criticized the Obama administration’s interest and investments in high-speed rail.
“Let me give you a little political advice: Do not be against high-speed rail,” LaHood “threatened” the audience attending the annual FAA Forecast Conference in Washington. “The administration wants it. Americans want it. It is coming. We are going to be in the high-speed rail business,” were his exact words.
The U.S. will develop high-speed rail the same way the country developed the Eisenhower interstate highway network, LaHood said, adding that it should not be seen as bad news for aviation.
“People are still going to fly,” he said. “But we need alternatives and options. People want high-speed rail, so get with the program.”

LaHood’s comments followed an FAA conference panel about on-time airline operations that featured several aviation experts attacking the Obama administration’s financial commitment — $8 billion, so far — to develop fast passenger train service.
A very shortsighted, self-serving remark from an “airline lobbying politically conservative think tank” questioned if it made sense to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to create a new mode of travel that competes with a self-supportive one, using the argument that supposedly nowhere in the world rail recovers capital costs, a remark that is at the very least deceptive and at best a lie.

In further discussions however another side of the coin became visible when aviation officials claimed that because there’s precious little public funding available, this should be targeted for important aviation programs like NextGen air traffic control and airport operations, immediately rebuking its own previous statement of being self supportive.
American Airlines CEO Gerard Arpey came out by saying that, it’s the government’s responsibility to keep today’s system vibrant and pay for the costly NextGen air traffic control system, which relies on GPS technology.
Aviation officials also claimed their industry has borne the costs of the national campaign against terrorism more than other business segments. The added security measures, they said, have added expense to air transportation, making it a more costly and less desirable mode of travel. “Why airlines are singled out to bear the fight against terrorism escapes me,” Arpey said. “I would argue that airlines should not pay for national defense.”

With 800 billion in defense budgets I would consider this remark poppycock or ignorance, the choice is up to Arpey. Sure all the Homeland Security issues around air travel have made this mode of transportation inconvenient for consumers and it is not easy for airlines’ operations, but to claim that the Airlines are paying for national defense would be a slap in the face of the taxpayer, in my opinion.

Apparently this was also the opinion of James Crites, executive vice president of operations for Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, who quickly pointed out that the airline industry has done a bad job selling Next Gen technology.
“We have to bring back the value of our product”, he said “and high-speed rail could actually boost aviation by improving overall transportation in the U.S. “I don’t see it as competition,” he said. “I see it as a complementary mode.”

And that is exactly the strategic approach for high speed rail versus airline transportation.

A Brookings Institute report (http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2009/1008_air_travel_tomer_puentes.aspx), “Expect Delays: An Analysis of Air Travel Trends in the United States,” released last October said the U.S. should look at starting high speed rail links between major metro centers that are 200 and 500 miles apart, specifically those now served by congested air hubs.
“Many of these aviation corridors offer an excellent customer base to quickly create significant ridership and begin making returns on investment as soon as possible,” the Brookings report said. “At distances of less than 400 miles, high-speed rail can meet or beat air travel times while decongesting high systems and improving travel convenience.”

Nevada senator pulls funding for rail project

And then….almost at the same time that secretary LaHood tells the airline executives to get with the program, Democratic top idiot Harry Reid plays politics with the high speed rail program by redirecting $45 million in funding for a proposed magnetic-levitation rail line that its planners say would connect Southern California to Las Vegas in just 80 minutes, to road improvements near Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport.
Reid defended his narrow minded decision to redirect federal funds to “a transportation project in southern Nevada that will actually create jobs right away.”

Politicians with band-aids as solutions, it seems Washington DC has its share of them. If I would have been in charge of any Las Vegas Hotel Group I would have pulled out all stops to get that $45 million back in the hands of the developers. It would be a lifesaver for Sin City in the Desert

Amelia Island SunSplash

Amelia Island SunSplash

Click to Enlarge

The Amelia Island SunSplash is an annual reggae music concert series, presented by various businesses on Amelia Island and co-sponsored by the City of Fernandina Beach. It takes place on the beach at the Sadler Road beach access, every first Saturday of each month of June through September.

This free concert series is open to the public and caters to all ages and features a multitude of beach-activities for everyone. The purpose of this event is to showcase our island’s beautiful beaches with an event that promotes positivity in the community and unity among all people.

Event dates and performances:
June 5th – Spirit Government (from Jacksonville, FL) and Jah Creation (JahCreation.net)
July 3rd – Spred the Dub (from Miami, FL) and De Lions of Jah (from Jacksonville, FL)
Aug 7th – Scholar’s Word (ScholarsWord.com) and 4th Dimension (4thDimension.org)
Sept 4th – Jah Works (JahWorks.com) and The Resolvers (TheResolvers.com)

The Amelia Island SunSplash is not JUST a reggae music concert. Originating from the Sadler Road beach access at 7am, there will be a beach cleanup in conjunction with the Keep Nassau Beautiful, who will also be providing recycling bins for the event. The Eastern Surfing Association (ESA) starts our community surf contest at 8am with some of the areas best surfers, young and old. The live reggae starts at 1pm and goes until 7pm, aligned with a swimwear fashion show and tons of creative activities put on by area businesses. Beach volleyball, ping-pong, sand castle contest, tons of giveaways and prizes. We will also be showing people how to get involved in renewable energies, conservation and preservation.

Attendance is estimated to be 1500+ people. To make this event as safe as possible, the beach access road will be temporarily closed from 6am to 8pm, to limit the interaction between the pedestrians and vehicles moving through soft sand. Additional parking for the event will be announced very soon on the official website.

Everyone is welcome, so come dig your toes in the sand, relax and enjoy some positive island vibrations. For more information please visit our website: www.aiSunSplash.com

Nassau Goes Pink 2010

Nassau Goes Pink 2010

Nassau Goes Pink 2010

Saturday, April 3rd, Nassau Goes Pink is holding an all day festival at Main Beach on the Atlantic Ocean in Fernandina Beach, Florida. This Amelia Island event starts at 10:00 AM and will have vendors, live bands, bar-b-q, hamburgers, hot dogs, a kid’s park, and a horse shoe tournament that begins at 3:00 PM.

Southpaw, from the Jacksonville Suns will be making an appearance from 10:30 AM until noon, but the fun doesn’t end until 11:00 PM. There will be raffle drawings, a silent auction and the luminary lighting ceremony begins at 7:00 PM.

Nassau Goes Pink began in 2009. Founder, Chrissy Branch is a breast cancer survivor who underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment after having major surgey. During this time bills piled up, and she nearly became homeless. She dedicated herself to help others who are going through the same thing she endured. The organization began with the intent of helping others with their finances while undergoing cancer treatment.

Nassau Goes Pink, Inc, will work closely with the local doctors, as well as The Nassau County Health Department to determine those who will need these services the most.

This is their first event, so come on out and support this wonderful event that truly gives back to our community!

Florida in the Cross Hairs of Offshore Drilling Plans

Crystal Clear Turquoise Waters ??

Remember all the things we enjoyed as kids, in the days before bicycle helmets, knee pads, litigious threats, when teachers took over the parents’ roles when we were in school and were completely entitled to do so. The days we could walk home from school without being afraid of pedophiles trying to harm us, or roam the beaches and shorelines without parental supervision. The days before politically incorrect became a lawsuit waiting to happen or HIV and AIDS became household words.

Quit often these days I feel sorry for today’s children and their canvassed existence and I’m afraid that they in turn will one day feel the same as they look back at a childhood we considered poor, because their children will have to live with the legacy of self serving politicians and governments that keep kicking the cans of doom down the road, until they will run out of pavement.

truthfully, deep in my core I believe that the US needs a structured social health care coverage plan. I grew up in Western Europe and social medicine worked very well 40 years ago as it does today. Obama’s plan however is a millstone around our necks. Actually it is an abomination of political misdirection and grandstanding tit-for-tats. But since it was his white horse he rode in on, he will have made the history he set out to accomplish, no matter the consequences.

And so will the announcement today that his administration is set to allow offshore oil drilling on the Eastern Seaboard from central Florida to Southern New Jersey. Politically the whole plan aims at the US becoming less politically vulnerable to oil imports.

Even though oil independence is heralded as an immediate need, the package is now sold as: it will take years before actual platforms and drilling will begin, while in addition we won’t be able to see the platforms from our beaches. Oh Great!
Anyone familiar with ocean oil drilling can tell you how much slick will end up on beaches once in a while, especially when emergency shut downs occur because of hurricanes in the crosshairs.

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement: “Drilling our coasts will do nothing to lower gas prices or create energy independence. It will only jeopardize beaches, marine life, and coastal tourist economies, all so the oil industry can make a short-term profit.”

In addition it doesn’t seem to matter that the geological estimates are, that the total projected output this side of the Atlantic for example is apparently just enough for 3 days of oil consumption in the USA.
Actual drilling in much of the newly opened areas, if it takes place, would not begin for years, the administration says, but then why bring it up, if it is not going to benefit the economy NOW. The paradigm shift of the US economy will be long completed before our energy import dependency becomes minimized by domestic resources.

The "opened-up" areas

No further explanation was provided for the reasons why the Atlantic from New Jersey north and the entire West Coast of America have been excluded from this exasperating initiative, considering the fact that annual hurricanes are not a factor there. Yet fact will be that sometime down the road, Florida will stop being a tourism destination and gas prices at the pump will still be $6 a gallon and up.

Sorry grandchildren, just forgive our immense shortsighted stupidity and do the best you can.

Sunset with the Birds

Join the Naturalists at the Nature Center of the Amelia Island Plantation for a spectacular sunset and watch Amelia’s beautiful birds settle in for the night. You may spot egrets, herons, wood storks and other birds feeding and roosting.

The Nature Center is at 6800 First Coast Highway, Amelia Island or you can call (904) 321-5082. The cost is $10.00 and all ages are welcome. www.aipfl.com

Mandarin Art Festival

Mandarin Art Festival

Mandarin Art Festival

The 42nd Annual Mandarin Art Festival is this weekend, April 3rd and 4th, from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on both days.

The admission fee is only $1.00 to see over 100 locally and nationally known artists. There is also a children’s art show featuring the work of middle school students with complimentary art classes and demontrations by Young Rembrandts. There is a new T-shirt this year and the bake saled is back! Be sure to check out the Green Market located at the adjacent Billiard Park.

A raffle to benefit Billiard Park Butterfly Garden has great prizes such as a Josh Scobee autographed football provided by the Jacksonville Jaguars, a family pass for four for the St. Johns River Tour, a Fossil “Gator” watch donated by Espling Jewelers, a gift card to Anthony and Sandra Day Spa, a collection of historical books and related items from the Jacksonville Historical Society, an Arnold Palmer autographed book, and “Dine Around Mandarin” gift baskets featuring wine and gift cards to the Tree Steak House, Cafe du Marche, Outback, and Picasso’s. The raffle tickets are only $1.00 each.

On Easter Sunday at 1:30 PM, enjoy an Easter Egg Hunt at Walter Jones Historical Park for children ten and under.

The Mandarin Community Club is located at 12447 Mandarin Road, in Jacksonville, Florida. Call (904) 268-1622 for more information or visit their website at www.mandarincommunityclub.org or www.artfestival.com.

Sounds on Centre April

Sounds on Centre April

Sounds on Centre April

Friday night, April 2nd, is Sounds on Centre in historic Fernandina Beach. You may want to bring bug spray as the gnats come out at sunset and this FREE concert and street dance goes from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.

Centre Street will be closed from 2nd Street to Front Street so you can dance to the sounds of Instant Groove. There will be Pirates, popcorn and lots of people, so come on out and join your neighbors for an evening of family fun! Don’t forget your camera! The sunsets over the Harbor Marina are spectacular this time of the year. No, I take that back – sunsets in Fernandina Beach are spectacular ANY time of the year!

Candidate Forum

AARP Candidate Forum

AARP Candidate Forum

Who will you vote for in April?

AARP is sponsoring a Candidate Forum for the upcoming general election in the City of Fernandina Beach.

From 7:00 to 8:00 PM, on March 31st, all of the City Commissioners have been invited to attend to answer questions regarding the Eleven (11) Charter Amendments on the City General Election Ballot on April 13th.

From 6:30 to 8:30 on April 5, 2010, the Concerned Friends of Fernandina will be sponsoring the same event, at the same location, according to emails we received from the City of Fernandina Beach.

The forum will be held at the City Hall Commission Chambers located at 204 Ash Street in Fernandina Beach, Florida.

Waterfronts Florida Partnership Meeting

CITY OF FERNANDINA BEACH – WATERFRONTS FLORIDA PARTNERSHIP COMMITTEE – CITY HALL COMMISSION CHAMBERS
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7, 2010, 5:05 P.M.

1. CALL TO ORDER
2. ROLL CALL
3. APPROVAL OF WATERFRONT COMMITTEE MINUTES – March 9, 2010- Meeting
4. OLD BUSINESS
4.1 Progress of the Waterfront Park Master Plan
4.2 Progress of Boat Ramp Relocation
4.3 Old Town Boardwalk
4.4 Acquisition of Waterfront Lots North and South of the Marina
4.5 Vote on By-laws Change to Include Marina Representative

5. NEW BUSINESS
5.1 Sunshine Laws Overview (City Attorney presentation)
5.2 501(c)(3)- Non-Profit Group Status –Legal Perspective (City Attorney Bach will be present)
5.3 Discussion on Committee’s Direction, Roles and Responsibilities
5.4 Future Committee Projects (Including but not limited to, Use of Marina Welcome Center, Dredging Options, Relocation of Atlantic Seafood, Marina Expansion, Mooring Field Usage, Charter Fishing Fleet Support, Boat Shows, Farmers Market Relocation, Fundraising, and Volunteer Recruitment)
5.5 Submerged Lands Acquisition

6. STAFF REPORT

7. ADJOURNMENT

Three Ladies in a Sauna

Three Ladies in a Sauna

Three Ladies in a Sauna

Grandma is sending me email and I don’t normally receive a lot of jokes from her, so I knew this would be a good one. It just goes to show you that she has not lost her sense of humor one bit since she turned 90 years old earlier this month!

Three women, two younger and one senior citizen, were sitting naked in a sauna. Suddenly there was a beeping sound. The young woman pressed her forearm and the beep stopped. The others looked at her questioningly. “That was my Pager,” she said. I have a microchip under the skin of my arm.

A few minutes later, a phone rang. The second young woman lifted her palm to her ear. When she finished, she explained, “That was my mobile phone. I have a microchip in my hand.”

The older woman felt very low tech by this time and not to be out done, she decided she had to do something just as impressive. She stepped out of the sauna and went to the bathroom. She returned with a piece of toilet paper hanging from her behind. The others raised their eyebrows and stared at her. The older woman finally said, “Well, will you look at that? I’m getting a fax!”

Log Cabin Demolished

Log Cabin Demolished

Log Cabin Demolished

Without pomp and circumstance, the treasured landmark Log Cabin was demolished this morning in Fernandina Beach, Florida. Built in 1939 by Rayonier, Inc., many relatives of the locals helped skin the logs for its construction. The building has served our Amelia Island community for over 70 years.

At the demolition this morning I met up with Tom Gora, Commander of our local American Legion post, Cliff Lewis and Eason Bennett and all were happy to share some fond memories of the old building.

“This is a sad day.” Bennett said when I first arrived on the scene to capture this historic moment in Fernandina Beach. Originally, the building was used for parties, civic meetings of the Garden Club, voting took place inside those walls and the cabin even served as temporary classrooms.

It wasn’t clear when the city of Fernandina Beach took over the building, but by 1978, the log cabin had been severely neglected and termites had chewed through the building leaving the bathrooms, literally, on the ground. No one could inspect the roof for fear of falling through.

Fernandina Log Cabin

Fernandina Log Cabin

Volunteers and members of the American Legion made repairs to the building and eventually a lease agreement with the city was reached and the Legion had a permanent home. For the past few years, the American Legion has been planning a new home with a larger facility complete with rental hall and a full kitchen, and had their Dedication ceremonty on Veteran’s Day last year for the new, Theodore H. Hernandez American Legion Post 54 building. The new facility is located at 626 S. 3rd Street in Fernandina Beach.

For over 70 years the landmark log cabin has served the citizens of Amelia Island and Fernandina and it was indeed a sad day watching the handful of citizens who came out to pay their last respects. Mayor Susan Steger was on hand, but there was no ceremony and no words of gratitude. In less than an hour, seven decades of history was no longer recognizable as she was promptly transformed into a pile of debris.

Some of the cedar wood from the old building will be used as decor in the American Legion’s new home, and some may be available for souvenirs. It feels like something is missing in our community. I suppose it will take a few years before that piece of property appears familiar to Fernandina Beach once again.

A New Breed of Poor Has Arrived

The New Poor have arrived

Springtime has finally arrived here in North Florida so I was talking from yard to yard with my neighbor yesterday, and of course the subject was the economy and the state of our Nation.  As we were sharing information on things like the housing market, both residential and commercial, unemployment figures and how small businesses are closing their doors daily, we both agreed that we have created a new breed of “poor” in this country. We now have a wave of once middle class working citizens who find themselves dependent upon government to survive.

It seems this sudden change has happened inside of the last two years.  People who once earned between eighty and two hundred thousand dollars per year are now on the unemployment rolls and can’t find work.  My neighbor is a contractor who once employed over forty people and had three sub contractors working exclusively for him; but not anymore.  He now employees one employee: his wife to answer the phone and keep up with the mail and other daily business.  Her salary by the way is only one hundred dollars per week.

He was telling me that the majority of his former workers tell him that living off the government is not that bad.  They sleep late, enjoy fishing and hunting and watching TV all day.  There income has dropped of course, but couple their unemployment checks, (most of the wives once worked and are now drawing also) with under the table cash money they receive for doing odd jobs for those who still have some money and all in all, life ain’t too bad.  I don’t mean to indicate that everyone on unemployment is not truly looking for work, there are many who are, the only problem is there are no jobs to be had.  I am saying as we continue this downward spiral there will be more and more who will simply throw their hands up and accept what the government offers as the new “norm”.

So where do we go with this “new normal”?

Will this situation continue for the foreseeable future?  Will these once skilled workers simply continue to live off the system?  I think the answer to these questions will be more or less the outcome of decisions made in Washington, along with the Fed and the Treasury.  Have they given all they are going to give to the big boys on Wall Street?  Are they now ready to address the true problems of Main Street?  Life in this country, as we once knew it, is gone.  Things have changed and will continue to drag for at least the next five plus years.

Will there be those who will become millionaires during this time? You bet there will be.  It will happen for those who are smart enough to see the changes and adapt, adjust and get on track early.  The old business model has changed and if we are to survive then we must change with it.  Of course you will not hear any of this on the evening news.  As part of the vanishing old establishment they are too busy telling you how great things are and how we have turned the corner and are rebounding.

It is said that knowing the True State of Affairs is your guiding light to a better future. If you still are part of the group who thinks that things will be better than my advice is to talk to your neighbor and look around your own community. Notice how many for sale signs do you see in the same yards, month after month after month?  How many of your friends and family members are unemployed, how many small business do you see closing daily?  And then…tune into the new news and watch this video and realize the numbers they speak.