Angel Street Opens at Fernandina Little Theatre

Angel Street Opens at Fernandina Little Theatre The Mouth of Amelia invites you to Angel Street at the Fernandina Little Theatre.

Kicking off the 20th season, Fernandina Little Theatre presents this suspenseful Victorian thriller by Patrick Hamilton. Under the guise of kindliness, handsome Mr. Manningham is methodically trying to drive his wife into insanity, and since her mother died of insanity, she is more than half convinced that she is going out of her mind. While her diabolical husband is out of the house one day, a benign police inspector visits her and ultimately proves to her that her husband is a maniacal criminal suspected of a murder committed 15 years ago in their very same house.

The play will be performed on September 3, 6, 8, 9, & 10 at 7:30 PM, and Sunday, September. 4 at 4:30 PM.

Fernandina Little Theatre is located at 1014 Beech Street in Fernandina Beach. Tickets are only $12.50 – $14.00 and can be purchased in advance at The UPS Store, located in the Publix shopping center, or by mail at P.O. Box 1070, Fernandina Beach, FL 32035.

For more information please visit the website at ameliaflt.org.

NOTE: Fernandina Little Theatre is a small, intimate space, and patrons are advised to purchase tickets in advance.

Evening of Story and Song With Tricia Walker

Evening of Story and Song With Tricia WalkerAn Evening of Story and Song, presented by Donna Paz and Mark Kaufman, features Tricia Walker on Saturday, September 3, 2011 at 8:00 PM.

Social hour begins at 7:15 in Burns Hall, of St. Peters Episcopal Church, on 8th Street and Atlantic Avenue in Fernandina Beach, Florida.

When Mississippi native Tricia Walker performed here in 2007, she captured the hearts and souls of everyone in the audience, not only with the sweetest, richest voice you’re likely to hear, but also with compassion, insight, humor and true Southern style.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b61HybwYR9o

From her inspirational song for cancer patients, “What a Wonderful Day,” to the color-blind family story that is “The Heart of Dixie,” Tricia is guaranteed to entertain. Her new Gospel release, “Farther Along,” brings her full circle with a combination of hymns and spirituals that celebrate both the black and white church traditions of the South.

This very special “Evening of Story & Song” is only $15.00.

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Just an Oasis in the Financial Desert?

SearchAmelia Camels in the Desert

Real or Mirage, Camels in the Desert

Like wanderers in the desert, investors and broad financial markets breathed a sigh of relief when an apparent oasis appeared last week. After Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s speech in Jackson Hole WY, the Dow Jones Industrial Index posted its first weekly gain in more than a month, finishing at 11,284, an increase of more than 4 percent for the week and has been climbing ever since, while I’m looking at 11,698 midday on Wednesday. The Standard & Poor’s Index and Dow Jones Global ex US Indices also were up for the week. In addition, the Chicago Board of Exchange Volatility Index (VIX), which is known as the ‘fear index’ because it reflects the amount of volatility investors anticipate in the next 30 days, fell by more than 10 percent. According to The Wall Street Journal, the head of U.S. equities index trading at Barclays Capital said that after Mr. Bernanke’s speech, some investors set up options positions that are designed to profit from improving stock market stability in the future.

Essentially, the Fed Chairman said in his speech that it is time for fiscal policy, not monetary stimulus, to take the reins and demonstrate some economic leadership for a change. If we are being intellectually honest, there is little more the Fed can, or should, do at this point. With interest rates already at zero, there are no other tricks up the magician’s sleeve. A commitment to maintain present course is all Bernanke has to offer.  Raising interest rates would definitely be the wrong thing to do, with so many other economic indicators still struggling. Perhaps it is this commitment to doing nothing – to staying out of the way – which the market seems to applaud.

While stock markets reflected optimism, economic indicators provided a mixed picture. According to Barron’s:

•    The Commerce Department revised second quarter’s Gross Domestic Product growth number down slightly to 1.0 percent annualized from 1.3 percent.
•    Inflation estimates remained relatively stable.
•    The manufacturing sector showed strength as new orders for durable goods increased 4 percent during July.
•    Sales of new and existing homes fell, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s purchase-only house price index showed that housing prices fell quarter-to-quarter.
•    Despite debt-ceiling woes, a downgrade of U.S. credit, concerns about European debt, and a wildly volatile stock market, the Reuters/University of Michigan survey consumer showed that consumer sentiment improved slightly.
•    Despite improved sentiment, the survey also found that consumers don’t expect things to get better any time soon.

While a week with positive market performance was welcome, the question remains: Has stability returned or is this just a very complex shimmering illusion or fata morgana (mirage) as they call it in the desert? Only time will tell.

Electricity 101

Electricity 101Okay, so you’ve seen power lines running along big telephone poles down the sides of your streets and you know that they carry electricity to your home. For most people this is all they care to know, but for all of you information junkies and aspiring Jeopardy contestants I’m going to give you a little more in-depth explanation of what exactly that electricity is that’s being carried along those lines down to your home and running the computer you’re reading this from.

Let’s start from the beginning of the line: the creation of energy. You see, energy is everything and everything is energy. The first law of thermodynamics says that energy cannot be created nor destroyed. However, that first law says NOTHING about your ability to change, manipulate, shape, fold, and direct energy into your own personal use. On the one hand energy is all around us and there’s only so much out there… it’s called the universe, and everything you can see to everything you can’t see is energy, in some form or another. So the first step in getting electricity into your home involves harnessing energy into a usable form. That’s what power plants do.

The power plants have this energy in a usable form and they have to get it to your house in an uninterrupted, continuous supply so you can keep reading this article without the lights going out, and so that they can trade that electricity for some of your hard earned money. So they’ve erected these giant wooden poles down the sides of roads and across the migration routes of all sorts of critters. And they’re sending electricity along those big fat black wires all the way to your neighborhood. The electricity in those wires is at about 600 Volts. What’s a Volt, you ask? Well, there was this Italian physicist in the 1700’s named Alessandro Volta who is credited with inventing the first battery (yeah, yeah what about Egyptians and clay jars…). Long story short, Mr. Volta did a whole lot of research with capacitance and for all his hard work history credited him with naming the unit for electrical pressure after him. So the Volt (named after Alessandro, get this: Alessandro Giuseppe Antonia Anastasio Volta…his full name, wow!) is a measure of the pressure of electricity. Think of pressure like putting your thumb over the end of a water hose. What happens when you put your thumb over the end of the water hose? Yep, the water comes shooting out faster, just in a smaller stream. This rate of water coming out of the hose with your thumb over it is like electrical current. It’’s comparable to the number of little H2O molecules running through the hose. And as pressure (Volts) goes up, current (Amps) goes down. Oh yeah, current is measured in Amperes… named after another guy, this time a French mathematician from the 1700’s. So basically, keeping the voltage at about 600 allows the power company to regulate the flow of electricity (or ‘electrical charge’ for those of you who want to get specific) at a fairly low current. But why do we want a fairly low current running through those giant wires going down the sides of our roads? Well, since you asked, it’s because if the current were higher those big fat black wires would have to be even bigger and fatter to hold all that current. And since the wires are copper wrapped with black rubber, that would mean a lot more copper would be needed…and copper’s not too cheap. So basically it’s cheaper to run low current, high-voltage because you can use smaller wires.

The electricity in these high-voltage lines is in a form called alternating current (AC). Alternating current means that the current or ‘flow’ of electrons goes one way then the other, then back the same way, then the other way. It does this back and forth action at a rate of 60 times per second, and this back and forth action is measured in Hertz (named after a German physicist this time). But if the electrons just keep moving back and forth, how are they flowing down the lines and into your home? Well that brings us back to Voltage. When you have things plugged into your wall outlets, those things also have a voltage. But because their voltage is much smaller than the voltage on the power lines, the electricity flows from the higher voltage to the smaller voltage, thus running your electronic devices.

Now you’ve also heard of Direct Current (DC), right? It’s not much different than AC except that it doesn’t do the back and forth action. The electrical charge just moves along the wires in one direction. Oh, that seems so much simpler! Why aren’t the high-voltage lines DC instead of AC? Basically, it comes down to back in the 1800’s when power lines were first installed. A company called Westinghouse had the patent rights to a whole bunch of electrical transmission processes and started setting up their power lines before anyone else could get in the game. And their transmission processes just happened to revolve around AC power rather than DC. That was the start of the U.S.’s infrastructure to power lines and things basically just followed in suit ever since because they built so much infrastructure that changing over to DC just wasn’t economical.

Now that you have a cursory knowledge of electricity you can begin to think about some of the problems that are associated with it. First and foremost being the way the world creates it at the power plants. Electricity is vastly refined from non-renewable resources like fossil fuels… which means that there’s only a limited amount in the world and we will run out. Problem is, as we get closer to running out of these resources the prices will go up. And as we get even closer to running out there will be battles fought over the rights to the last remaining reserves of these resources. Then still, at some point, the reserves will be gone. Not to mention that many fossil fuels are horrible pollutants. So how do we generate electricity forever if we only have a limited supply of fuel? Well, that’s where the beauty of renewable resources comes into play. Things like solar panels, hydroelectric dams, wind turbines, and biofuels are becoming prominent in electricity production and will begin to be the main source of electrical energy.

Until that time, we just need to be a little less wasteful with our current electricity usage levels. My name is Alex Watts and I run a small company called GreenWatts that, right now, is focused on reducing the amount of electricity you use at your home. For more information, give me a call at (904) 583-0658.

Passports Applications Now Accepted at Fernandina Library

Passports Applications Now Accepted at Fernandina LibraryThe Nassau County Public Library, Fernandina Beach Branch Library, is pleased to announce that it now accepts passport applications on behalf of the U.S. Department of State. U.S. citizens planning international travel may apply for their passports beginning 30 August 2011.

Basic instructions for U.S. Passport Applications First Time Customers:

Complete application form DA-11, but DO NOT SIGN it until instructed to do so by a passport acceptance agent.

You must apply in person if:
You are a first time applicant,
Your previous passport was issued before you were 16 years of age, or
Your previous passport expired more than five years ago.
All minors must be present and both parents must execute the application.

Minors age 16 and over must execute the application. One parent should accompany minors ages 16 to 17 unless the minor has a valid driver’s license (not a learner’s permit).

To obtain a U.S. passport, you will need each of the following four items:

1. Proof of Citizenship
(Be prepared to surrender these documents; they will be returned with your passport.)

U.S. Born
U.S. born persons need an original birth certificate, listing both parents’ names, with a raised seal and filing date from the Bureau of Vital Statistics or city of birth.

Children under the age of 16
Effective February 1, 2004, all minors must be present. Both parents must execute the application, and provide ID. Children under the age of 16 must submit a long form birth certificate, which includes the mother’s and father’s names. This is required even if the child has previously had a passport.

Foreign-born
Foreign-born persons must submit a naturalization certificate. Foreign-born children of naturalized parents may apply for a U.S. passport, provided the child was under the age of 18 when the parents became naturalized.

2. Proof of Identity (all documents must be originals. no copies accepted.)

    Valid Florida driver’s license,
    Naturalization Certificate
    Prior U.S. passport,
    Government employee ID,
    Official Military ID card

3. Photographs
Present 1 passport photograph taken within the past 6 months. Photos must be 2×2 inches in size. It should be front view with a white or off-white plain background. The customer must be the only person in the photo.

4. Fees
You will need to make two payments: one to the U.S. Department of State and one to the Library. All fees are set by the Department of State and are non-refundable. All passport acceptance facilities charge the same fees.

Passport Fee: This fee must be paid by check or money order payable to “U.S. Department of State.” One check/money order per application form. On bottom left side of check/money order, please write the applicant’s full name and date of birth.

Passport Book Fee for Routine Processing (4-6 weeks):
Age 16 and older: $110.00
Under age 16: $80.00

Or:
Passport Book Fee for Expedited Processing (3 weeks):
Age 16 and older: $110 + $60 + $18.30 + $12.72 = $226.02
Under age 16: $80 + $60 +$18.30 + $12.72 = $196.02

Execution Fee
Cash, check or money order payable to Nassau County BOCC for $25. One fee for each application form. You may combine this payment on one check/money order if there is more than one application.
Processing Time
Routine processing time is currently taking 4-6 weeks. Expedited processing (15 business days) is available for an additional fee of Processing time may vary according to workload.

Please check the official website for additional passport information and for current processing times at Travel.State.Gov

Forms are available at the Library.

Please Note!
FB Library has temporary reduction in hours from 6 September – 26 September. The Fernandina Beach Branch Library will have a temporary reduction in hours of operation from 6 September – 26 September, 2011. Hours of operation will be: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 am – 6 pm, Thursday 12 n – 8 pm. Regular hours of operation will be restored on 26 September 2011.

Saturday Activities for High Tide Women’s Weekend

Saturday Activities for High Tide Women's WeekendHere is a list of activities for Saturday, September 24, 2011, at the upcoming High Tide Women’s Weekend on Amelia Island. There are plenty of events to choose from!

8:30 – 11:30 AM Kingsley Plantation’s Special tour by National Park Conservation Association. There is no charge but you must have a reservation. Contact Dickie Anderson at 556-6455 for more information.

9:00 – 11:00 AM Yoga with Liz on the beach at Elizabeth Pointe Lodge. First timers are welcome and the buffet breakfast is a $25.00 ticketed event.

9:00 – 11:30 AM Jewelry Making Class at Beadlemania on 8th Street. Reservations are required, please call 277-0024.

11:00 AM – Museum Tour at the Amelia Island Museum of History. Tickets are $7.00 and no reservations are required.

Noon – 1:00 PM Treasures of the Sea Lunch at the Florida House Inn. The speaker is Theresa Pierno, Executive Vice President National Park Conservation Association. Tickets are $40.00 each.

2:00 PM – English Tea at the historic Hoyt House. The event costs $30.00 and for reservations please call 277-0162 code HT804.

2:00 PM – Museum Tour at the Amelia Island Museum of History. Tickets are $7.00 and no reservations are required.

2:00 – 4:00 PM Horseback Riding on the Beach at Elizabeth Pointe Lodge. $60.00, please call 322-9739 for reservations.

2:00 – 4:00 PM Kayaking on Lofton Creek for first timers to old timers. Cost is $49, from Up The Creek Xpeditions. Call for reservations (912) 882-0911

2:00 – 3:30 PM Chocolate Class at Peterbrooke in Fernandina for only $30.00. Reservations are required, please call 277-4300.

5:00 PM Hooping By The Harbor! Remember hoola hoops this is the latest way for women to unwind – literally. Hoops will be supplied at no charge.

Tickets available at Red Otter Outfitters Amelia Island at either location or on the website www.ameliaislandcoastalconnections.

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Residential Structure Fire on Florida Avenue

Residential Structure Fire on Florida AvenueFernandina Beach, FL – Friday, August 24, 2011 at 1125 hours, the Fernandina Beach Fire-Rescue Department was dispatched to a residential structure fire at 2115 Florida Avenue. The initial report from Nassau County Dispatch was that the caller stated there was heavy black smoke coming from inside the residence.

At 1130 hours, Fire-Rescue Crews arrived on scene and reported that smoke and flames were visible coming from the front and sides of the one story single family residence. Firefighters pulled hose lines from Engine 102, entered the three bedroom home conducting a search to confirm reports that all occupants had evacuated the home, while attack crews extinguished the fire. Fire damage to the residence was heavy, consisting of heat, smoke and water damage. It took 14 (fourteen) Firefighters approximately 15 (fifteen) minutes to bring the fire under control.

Fire Damage to the structure was heavy with a total loss estimate of one hundred thousand dollars. No injuries were reported as a result of the fire; however, Fire-Rescue crews evaluated two patients while on the scene. The two were later released without transport to the hospital. The American Red Cross was notified and met with the occupants on scene to offer assistance after their loss. At this time the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The Fernandina Airport Tree Cutting Scare in perspective

Nightmares of a Naked Island

As the entire island population is getting in uproar over the “criminal” thought to cut 188 acres of trees at the Airport and surrounding areas to facilitate alleged FAA safety requirements, it should be clarified that NO DECISION has been made by the local government. Yet, the thought alone puts shivers down our collective citizenry’s spine, considering the impact this would have on the mid-island’s nature and population, without any economic benefit whatsoever.

In an updated statement on the City’s website it says that the “preliminary” plan WILL NOT be implemented as proposed because it contains serious flaws, even though Ron Price of QED Aviation Consultants, conveniently located on Amelia Island, has an active and solid reputation in the industry (see http://www.njherald.com/story/news/airport-purchase and http://www.emissourian.com/news/st_clair_news/article_dd1f8cde-28ba-11e0-81b3-001cc4c03286.html).
So the next logical question would be to research if Mr. Price was instructed to do a completely new study (the cost should show up somewhere on the city’s budget) or to abstract most of the information from a Survey that was done 10 years ago by a Flagler County outfit then called Florida Mapping Resources. It seems that the latter could have been the case but this could so far, not be independently verified.

As it stands however, on May 11, 2001 Joseph Ricke from Flagler Beach took the picture in question (click on it to see enlarged) as part of a mapping proposal contract with the city of Fernandina Beach to perform a 3DAAP (Three-Dimensional Airspace Analysis Program) Tree Height Survey intended to determine which trees were potential obstructions to the Fernandina Beach airport space and FAA qualification for Instrument Landings.

In the ensuing survey report it was recommended that for Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport to become Instrument Approved under FAA regulation a massive amount of trees had to be removed (especially because of 3 runways).
It seems that now 10 years later the city is picking up pieces of that report to somehow validate the luxury of having a GA (General Aviation) airport on a small mixed use (tourism/industrial) barrier island.
Apparently the recent Million Dollar plus loss in a Lawsuit with McGill Aviation has put the airport square into the focus of our city fathers and this now seems to be a desperate move to find some economic justification for having the airport in the first place. Thinking however that becoming Instrument Approved would tip the balance in favor of cutting all these trees is ludricrous, besides the fact that it would mean the ultimate displeasure of night landings. While studying the Airport Budget I found an entry that mentions 47,000 aircraft handlings a year or on average 129 per day. Am I missing something here or is a mechanic walking the tarmac also considered economic impact as a “handling”. In any case, why would we need night landings in a community where restaurants stop serving at 9pm and the term nightlife is considered a misnomer? Even the City acknowledges in their Noise Abatement Guidelines from April this year that Aircraft Operations should be avoided between 10pm and 7am. If you can’t make it here during operating hours, than Jacksonville would be your best shot would be my advice. One of our executive concierge transportation services will be happy to pick you up for an appropriate fee.

Why the cutting plan was never implemented in 2001

Even in those days of uncontrolled growth, the red dots on the picture created political nightmares and on August 10, 2001 the Newsleader reported that: “Fernandina Beach commissioners again delayed their decision on a newly proposed tree ordinance, voting 3-2 to defer consideration.” And this was in the days of unbridled, uncontrolled growth! Nothing like today, when we want to be a bit careful with dwindling economic resources and taxing the citizenry for facilities most of them will never use.

Yet, while details are still vague and as one commissioner stated: “No decision has been made officially…this issue has not even come in front of the Commission. What I do know is that this exercise was to look at all options for the Airport from as little impact to major impact to the area. I am confident that my fellow commissioners feel the same way but nothing official yet”, the mere fact that it was even brought up warrants utmost caution and therefore public vigilance is strongly suggested.

The Economic Importance of FHB

As it’s quite difficult to obtain any real figures on the Airport’s economic impact for the city and the county, a rather self aggrandizing piece of information put together by the Florida Department of Transportation FDOT reports that among General Aviation airports in Florida, Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport’s (FHB) annual aviation economic impact ranks 35th in payroll of $10.1 million and 37th in economic activity with $31.2 million. For more details on the report you may visit the FDOT website at www.dot.state.fl.us/aviation/economicimpact.shtm. To save you some time however I have included a screenshot of the only page that shows any figures and you’ll be the judge of the information displayed.

What the FDOT considers the impact of a local airfield

If I would be financial controller at the city however I would want those figures rechecked a couple of times, especially when comparing these figures to the City’s decreasing 2011 Airport Budget that calls for One Fulltime and One Part time Employee with a total payroll budget of $103,093 for 2011. Even when adding some additional personnel to the independent operators like McGill, it should be clear that the airport is not an employment generator. So does it generate any significant income for the city? Well from the looks of it, the best scenario is borderline breakeven and if the Federal and State Government one day soon would decide that there is no reason for FHB to be in business and dry up the grants, it would be shut down time instantly. Not an impossible scenario since grants dropped already 9% from last year. The 2011 Revenue and Cash Balance shows $3,505,000 with a minimal cash balance of which $2.782,000 consists of grants, leaving a true operational balance of $723,000, which is substantially smaller than a professionally operated local auto repair shop with 10 employees.

If you like to check the numbers click Airport financial PDF

Maybe it’s time to get real

Obviously we are looking at a very scary picture, not only because of the environmental and quality of life impacts, but even more so because now, more then 10 years later, many aspects that initiated the original survey, have drastically changed. I’m all for responsible progress that incorporates and takes into consideration that the events of 911 have changed the aviation industry to the core, resulting in safety and security requirements that may be financially, administratively and logistically out of the league of what is essentially a municipal airport, serving a very small discretionary group of people.

Cutting the trees would just be the thoughtless first step of an inevitably losing proposition leading to runway expansions (beacons), cargo and passenger facilities, traffic congestion, island wide homeowner insurance premium hikes because their properties are in commercial aviation zones etc. etc.

Unless we are willing to turn the island into “an aircraft carrier” attraction with logistics that will forever change the nature of Amelia Island, we should tread very cautiously, because once the trees are gone, economic growth has taken precedence over quality of life, never to come back. It’s human nature…and I’ve seen it dozens of times with idyllic pristine Caribbean destinations turning into touristic hell holes.
Amelia Island does not have the carrying capacity for an airport expansion, nor a cruise ship port or a race track, regardless of the fact that these monster attractions do not fit the profile (brand) that has been carefully crafted over the years.

Still remaining is also the question of why today’s local government would pick up a study done in a time when we all were delusional enough to think that growth and wealth and safety were solely birth rights of the righteous. Events since then have scarred many of us enough to get better informed and involved.
Assuming that the current commissioners have been elected to initiate and execute programs that have our best interest at heart, I wonder why they would even consider an “impact exercise” for the airport, based on a plan that dates back 10 years ago, when the world was a different place.

Bottom line is that our Municipal Airport, at a stone’s throw from Jacksonville’s aerodrome, has no chance in hell to become a financially feasible undertaking that would support the city’s coffers. Originally designed for the military, it became a comfortable attraction to the super wealthy and a handful of prop-plane air-jockies. Nothing more and maybe less. At this point the island does not even possess a convention center or indoor concert venue of any size that could be used as a justification for even the size of the current airport facilities.

Maybe we should ask Mr. Price to redirect his survey to what he did in a study for St.Clair Airport in Missouri where he stated that: This airport is not critical to the aviation system, both regionally or nationwide, for air transportation used in commerce while capital funds for airport improvements are increasingly in short supply nationally, regionally and locally. Prudent financial management should allow for providing grants to those airports that have the best potential to accommodate growth with the least impact on the environment and consistent with local goals and objectives. Using these criteria as measuring sticks I would think that in the real world Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport would be a thing of the past.

Last Minute Fernandina Budget Politics

Fernandina Beach Budget DecisionsHave your opinions heard if you are at all interested in the Fernandina Beach budget political agenda!

Agenda for the City Commission Budget Workshop on August 29th, 2011 at 5:30 PM, City Commission Chambers.

1. CALL TO ORDER
2. ROLL CALL
3. PRESENT AND DISCUSS THE PROPOSED FISCAL YEAR 2011/20112 BUDGET.
4. ADJOURNMENT

The following comments are from Commissioner Childers:

I have forwarded these observations to the City Manager for comment and will review at tomorrows budget workshop, if you would like a follow up to this email just let me know.

Warmest Regards,
Eric Childers

Budget talks 08/29/2011
Beach Preservation; Is Still not funded, this is the single most important reason I am willing to assign an ad-valorum increase.

Parks and Recreation:
The Parks and Rec departments rates for non-city residents have not been discussed enough.

Utilities Department:
Reductions in staff within the Utilities department coupled with rate increases for non city residents have not been addressed to my satisfaction.

Commissioners Pay:
I think it is a mistake to reduce the compensation of the Commissioner by 20% without grand-fathering this reduction, as it is highly unlikely that any future Commission will restore it to it’s current levels. Furthermore, I believe it is unhealthy to position our Commission in such a way, that only retired people or the highly successful find it attractive to run for office. I believe we need a diverse commission to best represent our community. We are a Port town, a Mill town, a Military town, a retirement community and a Tourist town. No one can argue that $12,000.00 per annum is exorbitant. I would further suggest we consider an increase for a second term. We the citizens of Fernandina Beach make a significant investment in each Commissioner we elect via; on the job training, Florida League of Cities Membership and no one can deny there is a learning curve. Relatively few Commissioners seek a second term so I think we should consider compensating second term Commissioner’s at a rate that makes it a little more attractive. Say $16,000.00 per year. By election we can decide whether or not a Commissioner deserves a raise.

Interlocal agreement;
Renegotiate this agreement with the county

Storm water Funding:
I am not going to be creating a new tax or fee to fund Storm water improvements.

Employee’s comments;

1. Eliminate Christmas Party $6,000.00
2. Eliminate Janitorial Services $30,000.00
3. Eliminate Safety jackpot program $13,000.00
(This is worth $49,000.00)

4. Utilities Department is not showing the same kind of sacrifice as the rest or the City Departments.
5. Cost analysis for heating pool at Atlantic Rec Center in Winter.
6. What… taxidermied Animals?
7. What remodeling?
8. Centralize Purchasing, I’ve heard this before, why are we not doing it?
9. Explore 4 day 10 hour workweek. We’ve discussed this before.
10. Justify Phone system replacement
11. Install lockable, programmable thermostats
12. Jeremiah needs to provide a cost benefit analysis for take home vehicles also paying mileage for other vehicles or car allowances for other vehicles in the fleet. Also, extending the service life of vehicles because of quality improvements and civilian vehicles being retained longer.
13. Justify position in HR from pay classification 128 to 130?
14. What about the Lap-top question of preferred vendor in the IT department?
15. Discontinue paying for certifications that are not directly related to position.
16. Limit Cell phones taken home to key-supervisors and on-call employees, fire non-key supervisors.
17. Kronos cost benefit analysis
18. Justify 6 supervisors in Parks and Rec
19. Justify Airport assistant
20. Consider cost benefit to privatize CDD
21. Justify no reduction in staff
22. Shop health insurance
23. What about that fence at Ybor field
24. Can we as Commissioners rotate writing letters monthly to submit to the Newleader, SearchAmelia, Folio Weekly, the City website and any other publication that comes to mind?

Next year’s Union negotiations;
-Uniform cleaning budgets ($110,000.00) are exorbitant considering most are wearing shorts and/or tees.
-Reduce PTO to one week after 1st year, two weeks after 2nd year, one month paid -vacation a year is not consistent with civilian counter parts
-Eliminate Fire Department Christmas Pay out Program

To mass email the Commissioners send comments to: Commissioners@fbfl.org

Artist Kathleen Maurer Donates to Council on Aging

Artist Kathleen Maurer Donates to Council on AgingKathleen Hardin Maurer has donated her lovely painting, Season of Life, for the live auction at the Council on Aging’s 8th Annual Fall Gala celebrating the “Season of Life”. Pictured L to R: Kathleen Maurer, Fran Shea and Jessica Styers

The COA has partnered with the Omni Hotels & Resorts, Amelia Island Plantation to host this event on October 9, 2011, 6:30 – 10:30 p.m. sponsored by The Jane Adams House, Assisted Living Community; Janet Carver, Esq., Elder Attorney-at-Law; First Coast Community Bank; Heekin Orthopedic Specialists; Edward Jones, Pam Brown, Financial Advisor; Hoyt House, a Luxury Inn, Deborah Gold, Innkeeper; Omni Hotels & Resorts, Amelia Island Plantation; and Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.

The $75 Gala ticket includes wine with dinner, dancing, entertainment, cash bar, silent auction and live auction with the possibility of owning this wonderful work of art to be featured in the live auction called by local celebrity Aaron Bean early in the evening.

Kathleen graduated with a license in nursing and has returned to her life’s interest in painting. She attended the prestigious Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota prior to returning to Amelia Island in 1979. She has made this special island her home for 32 years, raising her children here, and is excited by this opportunity to give back by donating this work of art by her own hand. She shared that this painting depicts the road of life going off to where everyone’s life is going and the importance of stopping along the way to do what one thinks is important. “The colors are happy and fresh, and will go with any décor,” says Kathleen.

Season of Life, By Kathleen Maurer

Kathleen wants to lead by example with this gift to COA. “We’re all going to need this new building and its services,” says Kathleen. “It will be used.” Kathleen comes from a family with a history of volunteerism. She proudly mentioned that her mother, Audrey Stone, won the Elsie Harper volunteer award this year. Kathleen is a member of the Miniature Art Society of Florida and the Island Art Association, where she has served as Gallery Director and Board Member, among other positions. She often travels to France where she has received instruction at the Association des Beaux-Art de Cannes and is currently teaching Acrylic Painting.

The COA is grateful for her exquisite contribution to the 2011 Gala.

Beginning in 2008 with Milt Shirley, The COA Gala featured a local artist whose art embodied the theme of the event. Georganna Mullis’ work was featured in 2009, and Sandra Baker-Hinton’s painting was featured last year in 2010. Now, it is a tradition for COA to partner with the artist community for each Gala! The COA plans to follow this tradition for years to come, and we invite others to submit their work for 2012.

The Council on Aging is a 501-c-3 non-profit agency, the highest level of charitable organization. We cheerfully deliver critical services to Nassau County seniors in five categories including Meals on Wheels, COA Transportation, In-Home Care, and Adult Day Health Care, while operating two senior recreation centers. We are partially funded by government grants and donations from private individuals.

More information is available on their website www.coanassau.com.

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Amelia Challenge 2011 Announces Gold Sponsors

Chip, Katey and Mark

Photo Courtesy of Caroline Blochlinger

Fernandina Beach, Florida – For the second time First Coast Community Bank and Florida Public Utilities pledged $1000 each to support the 2011 Amelia Challenge, the annual signature event of the Rotary Club of Amelia Island Sunrise. This unique event, that is presented by the title sponsor, Baptist Medical Center, combines sportive and intellectual challenges. It will be held on November 12 at the Fernandina Beach High School in Fernandina Beach, Florida.

First Coast Community Bank President/CEO Chip Townsend noted, “In 2010, its inaugural year, the Amelia Challenge proved to be a wholesome, competitive event that was fun for everyone who participated. We’re delighted to be a Gold Sponsor again this year and know AC2011 will be bigger and even more fun.” Mark Cutshaw, General Manager of Florida Public Utilities, had this to say, “We committed to the second year of Gold Sponsorship solely due to the success of last year’s event. Not only did several not-for-profit organizations benefit from the event, participants had a great time competing while spectators enjoyed all the festivities.” In the photo, it is Chip Townsend, (First Coast Community Bank), Katey Breen (Sunrise Rotary President), and Mark Cutshaw (Florida Public Utilities).

Supporting this event makes sense. So much so that Sonny’s Bar-B-Q and Red Otter Outfitters just came on board as AC2011 Silver sponsors, pledging $500 each.

Starting 9:00 am. on November 12, teams made up of four members will compete as a group against each other. All 4 team members will collaborate to solve mental challenges and exercises which combine biking and a walk/run. Once the runs/walks, rides and challenges are done the teams will need to put together the final signature jigsaw puzzle. The big winner is the team who collected the most points.

The AC2011 promises to be a great community event. Teams will be formed by businesses, not-for-profits and among families and friends. A cash price will be awarded to the charities that were chosen by the top three winning teams.

To learn more about the 2011 Amelia Challenge or to become a sponsor or register a team visit www.ameliachallenge.com. It’s all about teamwork and fun and we hope to see you and your families on November 12.

The Rotary Club of Amelia Island Sunrise meets every Friday from 7:30 am to 8:30 am at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club. Everyone is invited to attend. For more information, contact President Katey Breen at kateybreen@comcast.net or visit the club’s website: www.AmeliaIslandRotary.com.

Retail Therapy Consignment End of Season Sale

Retail Therapy Consignment End of Season SaleRetail Therapy Consignment is having there semi-annual End of Season sale from August 29 to September 3, 2011.

The entire store will have items marked from 25 to 75% off!

They only do this twice a year and they are clearing out all of their fabulous summer items to make room for fall!

Shop early for the best selection. You will find great designer denim, dresses, shorts, tops and amazing handbags! Now they are all priced to move!

Retail Therapy Consignment is located at 732 South 8th Street in Fernandina Beach. Store hours are Monday – Friday from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, and from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturdays.

For more information call (904) 277-1248.

Hurricane Irene Teaches Another Lesson for the Future

In today's energy driven world this is unbelievable

Reading about the more than 4 million homes and businesses (or somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 million people?) being left without power as a result of Hurricane Irene hitting the Mid Atlantic states and North East so far, I had strong flashbacks of the 6 weeks we were left without power after Category 5 Hurricane Hugo hit the Caribbean Island of St.Croix on September 17, 1989.
Six weeks, and yet we were located almost next door to WAPA, the Virgin Island’s power company. It took between 6 months and a year for the rest of the island to be hooked up again, even though crews and utility trucks came in from all over the world to help out.

Ever since moving to the US, now more than 30 years ago, I have wondered why power in this country is still distributed above ground (overhead) on powerlines stretching via ugly wooden poles, with exposed transformers that blow up on occasion. When this happens powers goes out and businesses shut down for the duration. When the shut down happens because of a hurricane impact, the economy of a neighborhood, town, city, state or in the case of Irene, the entire eastcoast, comes to a screeching halt.
Destruction and danger go hand in hand, when water, wind and electricity meet and businesses go bust and lives are lost.
When I went through another category 3 hurricane Luis on the island of St.Martin in 1995, it happened again. Power was out for months and the tourism economy of the island barely survived the blow. But there was one difference in the ensuing reconstruction of the island. Holland, which is the “rich” partner in the constellation of The Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba”, sent utility workers, equipment and supplies to put all powerlines underground. A major and no doubt costly effort (most of the island is rock and granite) that however paid off nicely over the years. Since 1995 the island has been hit by at least half a dozen strong hurricanes, of which Lenny in 1999 was a major one. During the storms, the power company still shuts off the power, but as soon as the storm has past, the juice is turned back on and live is back to “normal” within days with huge clean up advantages because there is power.

A Lesson for Puerto Rico

Irene, long before she decided to harass the US east coast as barely a category 1 storm, came through the Eastern Caribbean, including St.Martin and Puerto Rico (a hundred miles to the west of St.Martin). The result: St.Martin was back in business the same day, but eastern Puerto Rico, from the city of Fajardo on, was declared disaster area and power is still out for many customers and businesses.

So what is the reason for a technologically advanced country as the US, not to put power distribution under ground. Too expensive according to the Power Companies, who think in short term scenarios, which exclude natural disasters, because that is something for insurance companies to deal with.  Western Europe did it in the 50s and early 60s and while I lived there I cannot recall every having a power outage. My brothers who still live there, have never reported computers being fried by power surges, not even in the worst storms. It rains, in various measure, on 300 days out of the year in Holland, the reason why it’s always green, dairy and flowers are major products and every city street has at least one bar on every block. There is an abundance of water to deal with, which is why powerlines are triple insulated in pipes and concrete housing as it crisscrosses the country and cities. As I said before, Holland, Belgium and Germany experience major inclement weather with storms producing windspeeds in access of 100mph, but I never experienced a power outage.

With hurricane Irene long passed here in North Florida I look over Fletcher Dr. towards the Atlantic on this sunny Sunday morning and see ugly wooden utility poles, powerlines and transformers obscuring my view and I imagine the misery if Irene would have passed us a hundred miles closer than she did. We’d be without power, no way to post this observation, no coffee, dead cellphones, no TV to update ourselves on what Irene was doing to millions of other Americans, food going bad in refrigerators, no gas at the pump for our cars. Misery all around.

Try to figure this one out after a storm

Oh I’ve been down that road several times in my Caribbean years…especially when hooligans come out at night to steal or demand at gunpoint whatever little there is left from canned goods to gasoline in the tanks of destroyed cars. And you better give it to them if you’re not armed and ready, because without power, the night is pitch black and law enforcement is usually busy elsewhere.

So here is a “novel” thought. We have serious unemployment in this country; we have a government itching to print more money for another Quantitative Easing program; two of which so far have only benefitted financial institutions; we have a society and economy that entirely depends on stable energy; we are moving into a major economic shift from industrial to technological society; all needing reliable, uninterrupted power supply.

Let’s put America’s power underground, for once not bowing to the ignorant corporate short term thinking that I found on the Florida Power website . There are numerous examples around the world that prove what FPL claims as their justification for overhead service is wrong, archaic and irresponsibly outdated.
The opening statement reads: FPL and other utilities build to an overhead standard established in Florida by the Public Service Commission (PSC) as the most cost-effective type of construction. It smells a bit too much like forceful lobbying in my opinion.

America built its wealth on energy. Without power/electricity there is no economy, just ask the people in the 4 million homes and businesses who were just cut off by what in reality should be called a minimal force tropical storm. Imagine what a category 5 leaving us without power for a year will do to the economy and then develop the vision to look into the future. Our economic driving force needs to be much better protected than hanging from ugly wooden poles and exposed to the elements. That was okay up to 1950, but the world has changed enormously since then. Time we get with the program.


Fernandina Beach Selects Next Chief of Fire Rescue

Fernandina Beach Selects Next Chief of Fire RescueThe City of Fernandina Beach has named Charles R. Bogle of Titusville, Florida, as their next Chief of the Fire/Rescue Department.

The City received over fifty (50) applications for the position and it conducted a thorough and comprehensive process to replace the former Chief Daniel R. Hanes.

Mr. Bogle has twenty-seven (27) years of experience with the City of Titusville, Florida Fire Department, the last four (4) years as Fire Chief/Fire Marshal and Emergency Manager.

Mr. Bogle holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Central Florida and holds many certifications in the Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Management fields. Mr. Bogle will assume the Fire Chief position effective September 26, 2011, at a starting salary of $77,000.00.

Sunday’s Inspirational Reading From the Internet

Sunday's Inspirational Reading From the InternetSunday’s inspirational reading from my 91 year old grandmother came from the internet.

Original Author Unknown

The Necklace

The cheerful little girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them, a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box.

“Oh Mommy please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please?”

Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl’s upturned face.

“A dollar ninety-five. That’s almost $2.00. If you really want them, I’ll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday’s only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma.”

As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.

Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere, Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.

Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story one night as he finished the story, he asked Jenny, “Do you love me?”

“Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you.”

“Then give me your pearls.”

“Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess, the white horse from my collection, the one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She’s my very favorite.”

“That’s okay, Honey, Daddy loves you. Good night.” And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.

About a week later, after the story time, Jenny’s daddy asked again, “Do you love me?”

“Daddy, you know I love you.”

“Then give me your pearls.”

“Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper.”

“That’s okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you.”

And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian style.

As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek.

“What is it, Jenny? What’s the matter?”

Jenny didn’t say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, “Here Daddy, this is for you.”

With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny’s daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny.

He had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her the genuine treasure. So it is, with our Heavenly Father. He is waiting for us to give up the cheap things in our lives so that he can give us beautiful treasures.

God will never take away something without giving you something better in its place.

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