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April 2012 Chamber of Commerce Events

Steven GrossmanNassau County, FL – Coming up in April at the Amelia Island-Fernandina Beach-Yulee Chamber of Commerce:

Island Council
8:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 4
Amelia Island Montessori School, 1423 Julia St., Amelia Island

The Amelia Island Montessori School will host the Chamber’s Island Council in April. This business council meets at 8:30 a.m. the first Wednesday of every month to network and discuss business issues. Admission is free.

Yulee Area Council
8:30 a.m., Tuesday, April 10
Chick-Fil-A, 464004 State Road 200, Yulee

Grow your business by making and strengthening your connections with Yulee businesses at the Yulee Area Council, hosted in April by Chick-Fil-A. This business council meets at 8:30 a.m. the second Tuesday of every month. Admission is free.

Member Benefits Breakfast
8:30-10 a.m. Tuesday, April 17
Amelia River Golf Club, 4477 Buccaneer Trail, Amelia Island

Find out how to make your Amelia Island-Fernandina Beach-Yulee Chamber of Commerce membership work for you at the Chamber’s next Member Benefits Breakfast.

Get an overview of how to get the most out of your membership and enjoy speed networking during this fun and informative event. The Member Benefits Breakfast is an ideal introduction to the Chamber for new members and great way for existing members to get up-to-date.

There is no admission charge; optional breakfast is available for $7, includes taxes and drinks. Cash only. If you plan to attend the Member Benefits Breakfast, please RSVP to the Chamber at (904) 261-3248 or info@aifby.com by Friday, April 13.

Business After Hours
5-7 p.m. Thursday, April 19
Council on Aging of Nassau County, 1367 S. 18th St., Fernandina Beach

The Chamber’s April Business After Hours, hosted by the Council on Aging of Nassau County, will feature a unique show by 12 Chamber members who also are members of the Rotary Club of Amelia Island Sunrise: A1A Wealth Management, Inc., Mark Dennis; Advanced Muscle Therapy, Larry Ogilvie, LMT; Boomer-Care Insurance, Patti Duncan; CB Advertising Services, Inc., Caroline Blochinger; Concierge Services of Amelia, Lila Keim; Council on Aging of Nassau County, Tom Moss; HR Business Connection, Barbi Coyne; Maximize Social Media, Suzanne McLeod; Sharon’s Designs, Sharon Stanley; Sonny’s Bar-B-Q, Mickey Ulmer; A Taste of Wine by Steve, Steve Raszkin; and World On A String, Deb Cottle.

There will be great food and drinks, and a game card to visit each vendor and register for prize drawings. Admission is $5 for Chamber members; $25 for non-members. Be sure to bring plenty of business cards!

Health Care Council
8 a.m. Tuesday, April 24
Baptist Medical Center Nassau, 1250 S. 18th St., Fernandina Beach

The Chamber’s new Health Care Council focuses on raising awareness of health care services in Nassau County as well as developing professional contacts among local health-related organizations.

The group will meet at 8 a.m. the last Tuesday of the month at a participating Chamber member. Baptist Medical Center Nassau will host the meeting in April.

Quarterly Luncheon
11:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 24
Fernandina Beach Golf Club, 2800 Bill Melton Road, Fernandina Beach

The Chamber’s Quarterly Luncheon series continues this month with “JAA: An Economic Engine for Northeast Florida,” sponsored by Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Speaker will be Steven J. Grossman, chief executive officer/executive director of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority. Get an overview of how the JAA and its portfolio of assets drive tourism and economic development in our region.

Admission is $18 for Chamber members; $25 for non-members. Reservation deadline is Friday, April 20. Cancellations must be received 24 hours in advance or all charges will apply.

For more information about any of these events, contact the Chamber at (904) 261-3248 or info@aifby.com.

Get local business news at Nassau Business Today
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The Amelia Island-Fernandina Beach-Yulee Chamber of Commerce is a membership-based association of businesses, professional leaders and individuals working together to sustain a favorable business climate that enables existing and new businesses to prosper. The Chamber will provide leadership that aggressively promotes responsible economic growth, employment opportunities, responsible government, excellence in education and quality of life.

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April 3rd Agenda for City Commission Meeting

April 3rd Agenda for City Commission MeetingHere is the Amended Agenda for the Fernandina City Commissioner Meeting for April 3, 2012. The meeting will take place on Ash Street, at City Hall, and be called to order at 6:00 PM.

*AMENDED AGENDA

1. CALL TO ORDER
2. ROLL CALL
3. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE and Invocation by Reverend Robert Goyette of Living Waters World Outreach.

4. PRESENTATION/PROCLAMATIONS
4.1 PROCLAMATION – RECOGNITION OF FRAN MIDDLETON – Recognizing Fran Middleton after thirteen (13) years and two (2) months of dedicated service to the City of Fernandina Beach.
4.2 PROCLAMATION – DONATE LIFE MONTH – Proclaims the month of April, 2012, as “Donate Life Month”. Mr. David Caples will be present to accept the Proclamation.
4.3 PROCLAMATION – KATIE CAPLES RIDE AND WALK FOR LIFE DAY – Proclaims Saturday, April 21, 2012, as “Katie Caples Ride and Walk for Life Day”. Mr. David Caples will be present to accept the Proclamation.
4.4 PROCLAMATION – FLORIDA LIBRARY APPRECIATION MONTH – Proclaims the month of April, 2012, as “Florida Library Appreciation Month”. Ms. Dawn S. Bostwick, Director, and Ms. Janet Loveless, Assistant Director, of the Nassau County Library, and Mr. Bill Flynn, President, and Ms. Dee Torre of the Friends of the Library will be present to accept the Proclamation.
4.5 PROCLAMATION – NATIONAL LIBRARY WEEK – Proclaims the week of April 8-14, 2012, as “National Library Week”. Ms. Dawn S. Bostwick, Director, and Ms. Janet Loveless, Assistant Director, of the Nassau County Library, and Mr. Bill Flynn, President, and Ms. Dee Torre of the Friends of the Library will be present to accept the Proclamation.
4.6 PROCLAMATION – NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK – Proclaims the week of April 19-21, 2012, as “National Volunteer Week”. Nassau County Volunteer Center Board of Director member Mary L. Mercer will be present to accept the Proclamation.
4.7 RESOLUTION – HONORING PAUL CONDIT – RESOLUTION 2012-20 OF THE CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF FERNANDINA BEACH, FLORIDA, EXPRESSING ITS APPRECIATION FOR OUTSTANDING SERVICES RENDERED BY MR. PAUL CONDIT AS A MEMBER OF THE PLANNING ADVISORY BOARD AND THE LOCAL PLANNING AGENCY FOR THE CITY OF FERNANDINA BEACH, FLORIDA.
Synopsis: Expressing the City Commission’s Appreciation to Mr. Paul Condit for ten (10) years of dedicated service as a member of the Planning Advisory Board.

5. CONSENT AGENDA
5.1 AGREEMENT FOR SERVICES – STATELINE DISPOSAL – RESOLUTION 2012-50 APPROVING THE PROPOSAL FROM ADVANCED DISPOSAL SERVICES TO PROVIDE SOLID WASTE REMOVAL AND CLEAN-UP SERVICES FOR THE 2012 SHRIMP FESTIVAL; AUTHORIZING THE EXECUTION; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
Synopsis: Approves the solid waste removal service and clean-up for the 2012 Shrimp Festival in the amount of $33,803.00.

5.2 EQUIPMENT PURCHASE – POLICE DEPARTMENT – RESOLUTION 2012-51 APPROVING THE SOLE SOURCE PURCHASE OF IN-CAR VIDEO/AUDIO RECORDING EQUIPMENT FOR FIVE POLICE VEHICLES FROM WATCHGUARD VIDEO; AUTHORIZING EXECUTION OF ALL DOCUMENTATION PERTAINING TO THE PURCHASE; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
Synopsis: Approves the purchase of In-Car Video/Audio Equipment for five (5) Police vehicles in the total amount of $25,800.00.

*5.3 BUDGET AMENDMENT – CRA – RESOLUTION 2012-55 APPROVING A BUDGET AMENDMENT TO TRANSFER $5,000 FROM THE CRA RESERVE ACCOUNT TO THE PROFESSIONAL SERVICES ACCOUNT; PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
Synopsis: Approves a budget amendment to pay for the unbudgeted costs to investigate purchasing property at 101 Front Street.

6. REQUESTS FROM THE PUBLIC TO BE HEARD ON ITEMS NOT ON THE AGENDA
6.1 CITY RESIDENTS
6.2 NON-CITY RESIDENTS

7. RESOLUTIONS
7.1 FINAL PLAT APPROVAL – AMELIA PARK – RESOLUTION 2012-52 APPROVING FINAL PLAT, FPL 2011-48 TITLED FINAL PLAT OF AMELIA PARK COASTAL DISTRICT BLOCK FIVE (5) AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
Synopsis: Approves the Final Plat titled “Amelia Park Coastal District Block 5”.

7.2 AIRPORT RENTAL AGREEMENT – RESOLUTION 2012-53 AUTHORIZING APPROVAL OF UPDATED AIRPORT RENTAL AGREEMENTS FOR T-HANGARS OR BULK HANGARS, STORAGE UNITS, AND HANGAR B AIRCRAFT STORAGE LOCATED AT FERNANDINA BEACH MUNICIPAL AIRPORT, AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
Synopsis: Approves the updated Rental Agreements for the Municipal Airport.

7.3 AGREEMENT APPROVAL – PEOPLES GAS AND PENINSULA PIPELINE – RESOLUTION 2012-54 APPROVING A RIGHT-OF-WAY USE AGREEMENT WITH PEOPLES GAS AND PENINSULA PIPELINE FOR INSTALLING AND MAINTAINING A NATURAL GAS PIPELINE; ACCEPTING A ONE-TIME PAYMENT OF $200,000 IN EXCHANGE FOR THE USE OF CITY RIGHT-OF-WAY TO INSTALL AND MAINTAIN THE NATURAL GAS PIPELINE; AUTHORIZING EXECUTION; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
Synopsis: Approves the Right-of-Way Use Agreement for the installation and maintenance of a natural gas pipeline.

*7.4 DESIGNATING AND RANKING FIRMS FOR RFP #11-104 – RESOLUTION 2012-46 DESIGNATING AND RANKING THE MOST QUALIFIED FIRMS PURSUANT TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF RFP #12-101 FOR PROJECT MANAGEMENT/COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER SERVICES FOR PROJECTS RELATED TO THE FORWARD FERNANDINA (F2) STRATEGIC PLAN; AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER TO NEGOTIATE THE CONTRACT; AUTHORIZING EXECUTION AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
Synopsis: Accepts the Evaluation Committee’s ranking recommendations as follows: 1) URS Corporation; 2) Hill International, Inc.; 3) McCranie & Associates; and 4) Passero Associates.

8. ORDINANCES – FIRST READING
8.1 CODE AMENDMENT – ART IN PUBLIC PLACES PROGRAM – Ordinance 2012-03 Creating CHAPTER 70, ARTICLE 3, SECTIONS 70-150 THROUGH 70-154 OF THE CITY CODE OF ORDINANCES establishing an Art IN Public Places Program, Providing for purpose; providing for Definitions; providing for establishing committee roles and responsibilities; providing for ownership and maintenance; Establishing an Art in Public Places Fund; providing for severability; and Providing FOR an Effective Date.
Synopsis: Code Amendment by adding a new article under Chapter 70 to allow for Art in Public Places Program.

8.2 CHANGE IN LAND USE – TIZZANO – ORDINANCE 2012-04 CHANGING THE FUTURE LAND USE MAP FROM GENERAL COMMERCIAL (GC) TO CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT (CBD), FOR TWO PARCELS TOTALING 0.11 ACRES OF LAND LOCATED AT 109 NORTH THIRD STREET, PARCEL ID NUMBERS 00-00-31-1800-0009-0270 AND 00-00-31-1800-0009-0272 AND; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
Synopsis: Approves the Change in Land Use from General Commercial (C-2) to Central Business District (C-3) for property located at 109 North 3rd Street.

8.3 CHANGE IN ZONING – TIZZANO – ORDINANCE 2012-05 CHANGING THE ZONING MAP FROM GENERAL COMMERCIAL (C-2) TO CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT (C-3), FOR TWO PARCELS TOTALING 0.11 ACRES OF LAND LOCATED AT 109 NORTH THIRD STREET, PARCEL ID NUMBERS 00-00-31-1800-0009-0270 AND 00-00-31-1800-0009-0272 AND; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
Synopsis: Approves the Change in Zoning from General Commercial (C-2) to Central Business District (C-3) for property located at 109 North 3rd Street.

9. ORDINANCES – SECOND READING
9.1 CHANGE IN ZONING – FOREST RIDGE VILLAGE – ORDINANCE 2012-01 amending the terms of the Forest Ridge Village Planned Unit Development (PUD) to permit Resort Rentals within the 104 residential units; for parcel # 00-00-31-128R-A000-0000 consisting of 9.98 acres; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
Synopsis: Approves the Change in Zoning to amend an existing PUD overlay within the Forest Ridge Village condominium complex to include “resort rental” dwellings.

10. BOARD APPOINTMENTS
10.1 PLANNING ADVISORY BOARD – 2 Appointments.

11. DISCUSSION – DIRECTION – ACTION ITEMS
12. CITY MANAGER REPORTS
13. CITY ATTORNEY REPORTS
14. CITY CLERK REPORTS
15. MAYOR/COMMISSIONER COMMENTS
16. ADJOURNMENT

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Accidental Garden Party at Council on Aging

Accidental Garden Party at Council on AgingNassau County, FL – When COA Executive Director Tom Moss discovered the lawn service company that COA had contracted with had gone out of business without notification, Tom went out and bought a lawn mower.

His Executive Assistant Anita McCarthy secured some donated mulch from the local Walmart. By Friday afternoon, COA staff members were “having a garden party”, enjoying the beautiful day and taking matters into their own hands to get the COA’s curb appeal back to beautiful, until the funding is in place to build their new building.

Pictured (L to R) are Data Entry Officer Stella Auklands’s daughter, Shi-Anne Gros-Ventre; Elder Services Manager Anna Lindler, Stella Aukland and daughter Morgan Gros-Ventre, and Case Manager Lisa Ward “taking a stand for beautification” while Tom was off site getting gas for the lawn mower.

the finished productThe AFTER photo shows the finished product of a job well done by all staff who participated. The COA is more than half way toward its fundraising goal (You can donate on-line at www.cosanasssau.com to make it happen faster!) of building The Life Center, next door to The Transportation Center, which is under construction at 102 North 13th Street off Atlantic Avenue, near downtown Fernandina Beach.

Photo Credit: Allen Lennon, Capital Campaign Chairman, COA Board of Directors

The Council on Aging of Nassau, COA, is a not for profit corporation actively involved in the Celebration of Agelessness in the Nassau County, FL.

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2012 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance Photos Available

neil-rashba-photosOver 1800 professional high resolution photographs of the 18th Annual 2012 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance are available now in print or digital form from www.neilrashbaphotography.smugmug.com.

The photos of the 18th Annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance by Jacksonville-based professional photographer Neil Rashba are presented on the web in eleven galleries.

    1) 2012 BEST of SHOW
    2) 2012 GREAT ENDURANCE DRIVERS SEMINAR
    3) 2012 AMELIA FIELD
    4) 2012 CONCOURS AWARDS
    5) 2012 AMELIA MARQUE TOUR
    6) AMELIA COVER CARS OF ROAD & TRACK
    7) 2012 AMELIA ROLLS ROYCE DINNER
    8) 2012 AMELIA GALA
    9) 2012 PORSCHE TOUR
    10) 2012 HAGERTY FERRARI COBRA INVESTING SEMINAR
    11) 2012 FERRARI vs COBRA SEMINAR

All images are available in either print or high resolution digital format for private use or for publication.

Neil’s Concours photographs and his architectural photography are also available at 904-273-0388 or on the web at www.rashba.com.

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Why Google and Intuit Offer Free Websites

google and intuit forge alliance and state of florida endorses it.

Disclosure in the Eye of the Beholder

Was it only a matter of time before Google realized that there is money in building websites for the unsuspecting small business owner, or is there more to the recent mammoth campaign the Internet giant has rolled out to entice small business owners into having a website. Google first teamed up with Intuit in 2006 in the sales of Quick Books accounting systems, especially used in online commerce, and is now doing an all out campaign to sign up every small business in America with the promise of a free website.

With 63% of small business owners in the US still not having a website, while 97% of consumers look online for local products and services, a major technology and marketing disconnect looms on the horizon.
Google is saying small business owners you NEED a WEBSITE or else….the learning curve from zero to advanced becomes too tasking and will take your company out of the loop in less than half a decade.

Of course at Searchamelia we have been singing that song for the better part of a decade now, so I cannot say: don’t do it. As a business you need a website because that’s where your customers are!
However there are many different conditions for a website to be viable and viability does not come for free. No Sir. Especially not if you have been sitting on your hands for years where it involves online commerce.

Cheap Websites

A couple of day ago I got a postcard in the mail from websitebychuck.com. Chuck claims he’s the best in the business in North Florida and his overhead is the lowest around by far. So for $495 Chuck builds you not just a website, but the best one in North Florida. I have tested Chuck’s websites to be exactly what you paid for: a Business card on the Internet or about exactly what we did for early online customers about 18 years ago when the worldwide web came out of the starting blocks.
Chuck sent his invitation to Amelia Oceanfront Bed and Breakfast with an old fashioned but time-tested postcard mailer. It could have saved him a postcard and a stamp if he had googled “amelia oceanfront bed and breakfast”, because it would have shown him a website that cost way more than his offer but actually books more than 90% of the Inn’s guests and saves tens of thousands a year on third party commissions.
I wonder what Chuck is going to do now that Google is going to throw its 800 pounds into the ring and offer websites for “free”.

Admittedly, free is always a debatable word since we all know that nothing in life is free, except maybe beautiful sunrises and sunsets. But to be fair, the Google deal is not all bad since the first year of hosting and the domain name purchase are free. How special is that? Not that much actually. First time website owners get special deals from many different hosting companies for the first year. Our hosting company Siteground.com gives specials that sell the same package for as low as $24.95 for the first year. GoDaddy, HostMonster, HostGator and other ones hover in the same price range for start ups.

So what makes the Google-Intuit Alliance different?

Nothing earth shattering here either. Many hosting companies offer web templates and tutorials that can teach anyone to build a website in a couple of hours. I can actually build a simple navigation website in about 40 minutes, but  that website’s configuration has about the same chance of being found on the worldwide web as a snowflake in the midday sun. What’s more, Intuit’s templates, just as www.wix.com and a whole range of other webdesign farms, offer free website builders with the promise of being simple to build, drag and drop, no programming skills needed and all are so called “searchengine friendly”.

But there are a bunch of catches they won’t tell you; catches that will make visitor visibility impossible.

Let’s take the example of www.wix.com which operates in Canada and the US with the proud homepage statement that 14,514,978 sites were created with Wix’s free website builder. Now that’s an impressive lot of websites.

I recently was approached by a Canadian couple that owns a prominent fashion establishment on Lake Huron, to build an online presence that can sell product globally. Their current website is www.sistersonhuron.com and is a product of wix.com‘s ‘generosity’ to help small businesses build free seo friendly websites.
However, their website does not score any ranking or attract visitor numbers of any significance, since all the attention from the searchengine spiders and robots go to wix.com.
To understand how this works, look at the bottom left of this Searchamelia page. Depending on the status it will either say “Transferring data from searchamelia.com” or “reading searchamelia.com”.

Now click on this link www.sistersonhuron.com and see what it reads in the bottom left. That’s right, it reads “transferring date from static.wix.com“. No mention of the sistersonhuron domain
My Canadian friends’ website does not get any respect, with a nod to Rodney Dangerfield. All recognition goes to www.wix.com and in the Google/Intuit Alliance all the recognition will go to Intuit. The free part of the offer is a calculated loss leader to corral customers for their financial services.

The End of the Website as we know Era

Old friends of mine, Keith and Sharon Jardine, from my days in St.Martin are currently staying with us. Sharon was my chief creative designer in the early 90s. She and Keith were born in South Africa and on a circumnavigation on their ferro cement sailboat. After we parted ways in 1994 they sailed to Fiji, got married, sailed to Bora Bora and the rest of the South Pacific and from there to Australia and finally back to Durban SA from where they moved to London and later to the States. Keith became an IT guru/speaker/lecturer in the trenches of the world wide web and he has probably forgotten more about building websites, then I’ll ever learn.

He works with the big boys in IT; the Fortune 500 members. He told me last night that insiders into new technologies give websites as we know them another 4 years, before they become the victim of mobile App technology. Look around you and see the speed that i-Pads and Smartphones are making the internet mobile and you cannot deny the observation.

Google went into this latest alliance for two reasons:
1. to attract the massive amount of small business without online presence in a last ditch effort before the Internet moves on and looks back at a “lost generation”.
2. to sell them all the small business Google services available in QuickBooks (especially the financial transactions services) to promote themselves online.

What Google/Intuit offers is a “free, easy to build Intuit website; free customized domain name; free web hosting for one year; and free online tools and training.” After the first year, it is $4.99 a month and your domain name is $2 a month — which adds up to $84 a year. Now this is shared hosting, meaning your website shares the server with many other websites. It’s not like Searchamelia which uses dedicated hosting on a dedicated cloud server at a cost of $1,500 per year, because the reality is, the more visitors you attract, the more you get charged for bandwith usage and the more you need stability and customer support.

Also interesting is that the Google service was initially also promoting a website search engine boost for $4.99 a month, which promises to submit content for constant updating and improved search ranking. Interestingly, this offer vanished when I checked on the site before publishing this article, but it was prominently displayed last Sunday. The service is clearly set to boost SMB penetration, and will not only help SMBs get online, but also help Google and Intuit sell a lot of services once the SMBs are locked in.

The Adoption Bell Curve rings Google's Bell

Advice is don’t jump on the bandwagon too fast and realize that a free website does not mean you don’t have to work it daily with new content and lots of SEO. You are now a webmaster!!! It also means that if you don’t, no potential customer is going to see your site, unless by an accident surf or search. And last but not least, realize that it is only a temporary solution as the world wide web moves into the next phase of mobile in the next 3-4 years.
According to the Bell Curve of Adoption big money can be made when the curve crests and that is why Google and Intuit started offering  “free” websites.

Yulee Publix is Now Open

Yulee Publix is Now OpenThe new Publix grocery store is now open in Yulee, Florida!

In addition to the traditional grocery, meat, produce, dairy and frozen food departments, the new 45,600 square-foot store will contain a pharmacy, a bakery, a deli, a floral, and a fresh seafood department. Approximately 130 Publix associates will be employed at the store.

Store hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Pharmacy Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Publix is privately owned and operated by its 151,500 employees, with 2011 sales of $27.0 billion. Currently Publix has 1,050 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. The company has been named one of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For in America” for 15 consecutive years. In addition, Publix’s dedication to superior quality and customer service is recognized as tops in the grocery business, most recently by an American Customer Satisfaction Index survey.

For more information, visit the company’s Web site, www.publix.com.

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Relieve Spring Fever by Spending Easter at the Ritz Carlton

Relieve Spring Fever by Spending Easter at the Ritz CarltonSpring’s arrival means Easter is near and The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island celebrates the holiday with time-honored traditions.

AMELIA ISLAND, FL – For those who want to relax in the warm sun, nothing beckons like the call of spring at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. “Our resort grounds are in full bloom from colorful azaleas to green dune grasses, it’s a wonderful time to come and rejuvenate,” says James E. McManemon, the resort’s general manager.

The resort offers a wide range of solutions to relieve spring fever whether it’s starting the day to meet sunrise at the beach with complimentary coffee, fruit and juices to sleeping in late in newly redesigned coastal plantation rooms and suites. For the more adventurous, activities include kayaking, paddle boarding, nature hikes, heaven in a hammock spa treatment and stargazing at the beach lovers fire by the dunes.

The resort is offering a “Comfort Package” to relieve the stresses and strains of spring fever.
Package includes:

    • Overnight accommodations
    • Breakfast for two in restaurants per day
    • $40 USD Resort Credit per night

Spring’s arrival means Easter is near and The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island celebrates the holiday with time-honored traditions.

Easter Weekend Highlights

Easter Bunny Tuck-Ins
April 6 and 7; 6:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m. – Children will delight in a personal visit by the Easter Bunny just before bedtime. Includes a keepsake gift for each child. Complimentary. Reservations required.

Cottontail Tea Party
April 7; 12:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m., $45 per person (inclusive) Ages 5 and up – Create a memory of a lifetime for a child as they join the Easter Bunny and Mad Hatter for stories, afternoon tea, petite sandwiches and an endless array of sweets and souvenir photo.

Grand Easter Egg Hunt
April 8; 9:00 a.m. Complimentary, reserved for guests – Behold the wonder of children as they gaze at the Courtyard Lawn teeming with 9,000 eggs.

Salt Easter Brunch
April 8; 11:30 a.m.–3:00 p.m.; $99 per adult, $32 children (5-12) plus gratuity. Reservations required. – Delight in a taste experience as Chef de Cuisine, Rick Laughlin adds a unique contemporary American twist to traditional Easter favorites including foie gras, herb-crusted lamb T-bone, flounder steamed in banana leaf, pan roasted diver scallops, carving station featuring mesquite grilled pork loin and eleven dessert specialties. The price also includes Champagne and Bloody Mary Bar.

Café 4750 Easter Brunch
Date: April 8; Time: 12:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.; $45 per adult, $19 children (5-12) plus gratuity. – Visit the Easter bunny and enjoy a scrumptious coastal brunch with Eggs Benedict served four ways, fresh Mayport shrimp, slow roasted prime rib, local fish and breakfast favorites including a delectable dessert bar.

The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island is Northeast Florida’s premiere oceanfront resort. Known for its unique natural beauty and warm Southern charm, this luxury resort is home to the award-winning restaurant, Salt, and The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Amelia Island, named one of the top spas in the world by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler. Featured amenities include three pools, on-site golf, fitness center, children’s recreation programs, and 446 guest rooms and suites all with new coastal redesign, private balcony and a view of the Atlantic coastline. For reservations, please call The Ritz-Carlton toll-free at (800) 241-3333 or visit www.ritzcarlton.com/ameliaisland.

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The Philosophy of Ambiguity and the English Language

The beauty of misunderstanding

In a two mother tongue household many hilarious misunderstandings flare up on occasion as a result of the English language being buried in idiosyncrasies. When I was much younger I often blamed the language for the misunderstandings that turned into serious arguments but nowadays I have come to love the philosophy of ambiguity and the fact that the English language was formed on the go. Especially comedian Steven Wright became my favorite language magician. So when my dear friend Ric emailed the following Philosophy of Ambiguity this morning, I felt an instant need to share. Enjoy.

1.  DON’T SWEAT THE PETTY THINGS AND DON’T PET THE SWEATY THINGS.

2.  ONE  TEQUILA, TWO TEQUILA, THREE TEQUILA, FLOOR.

3.  ATHEISM IS A NON-PROPHET ORGANIZATION.

4.  IF  MAN EVOLVED FROM MONKEYS AND APES, WHY DO WE STILL HAVE MONKEYS AND APES?

5.  THE MAIN REASON THAT SANTA IS SO JOLLY IS BECAUSE HE KNOWS WHERE ALL THE BAD GIRLS LIVE.

6.  I  WENT TO A BOOKSTORE AND ASKED THE SALESWOMAN, “WHERE’S THE SELF- HELP  SECTION?”  SHE SAID IF SHE TOLD ME, IT WOULD DEFEAT THE PURPOSE.

7.  WHAT IF THERE WERE NO HYPOTHETICAL QUESTIONS?

8.  IF A DEAF CHILD SIGNS SWEAR WORDS, DOES HIS MOTHER WASH HIS HANDS WITH SOAP?

9.  IF  SOMEONE WITH MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES THREATENS TO KILL HIMSELF, IS IT CONSIDERED A HOSTAGE SITUATION?

10.  IS THERE ANOTHER WORD FOR SYNONYM?

11.  WHERE DO FOREST RANGERS GO TO “GET AWAY FROM IT ALL?”

12.  WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU SEE AN ENDANGERED ANIMAL EATING AN ENDANGERED PLANT?

13.  IF A PARSLEY FARMER IS SUED, CAN THEY GARNISH HIS WAGES?

14.  WOULD A FLY WITHOUT WINGS BE CALLED A WALK?

15.  WHY DO THEY LOCK GAS STATION BATHROOMS?   ARE THEY AFRAID SOMEONE WILL CLEAN THEM?

16.  IF A TURTLE DOESN’T HAVE A SHELL, IS HE HOMELESS OR NAKED?

17.  CAN VEGETARIANS EAT ANIMAL CRACKERS?

18.  IF THE POLICE ARREST A MIME, DO THEY TELL HIM HE HAS THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT?

19.  WHY DO THEY PUT BRAILLE ON THE DRIVE-THROUGH BANK MACHINES?

20.  HOW DO THEY GET DEER TO CROSS THE ROAD ONLY AT THOSE ROAD SIGNS?

21.  WHAT WAS THE BEST THING BEFORE SLICED BREAD?

22.  ONE NICE THING ABOUT EGOTISTS: THEY DON’T TALK ABOUT OTHER  PEOPLE.

23.  DOES THE LITTLE MERMAID WEAR AN ALGEBRA?

24.  DO INFANTS ENJOY INFANCY AS MUCH AS ADULTS ENJOY ADULTERY?

25.  HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE A CIVIL WAR?

26.  IF ONE SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMER DROWNS, DO THE REST DROWN TOO?

27.   IF YOU ATE BOTH PASTA AND ANTIPASTO, WOULD YOU STILL BE HUNGRY?

28.  IF YOU TRY TO FAIL, AND SUCCEED, WHICH HAVE YOU DONE?

29.  WHOSE CRUEL IDEA WAS IT FOR THE WORD ‘LISP’ TO HAVE ‘S’ IN IT?

30.  WHY ARE HEMORRHOIDS CALLED “HEMORRHOIDS” INSTEAD OF “ASSTEROIDS”?

31.  WHY IS IT CALLED TOURIST SEASON IF WE CAN’T SHOOT AT THEM?

32.  WHY IS THERE AN EXPIRATION DATE ON SOUR CREAM?

33.  IF YOU SPIN AN ORIENTAL PERSON IN A CIRCLE THREE TIMES, DO THEY BECOME DISORIENTED?

34.  CAN AN ATHEIST GET INSURANCE AGAINST ACTS OF GOD?

A Streetcar Named Desire at Amelia Community Theatre

A Streetcar Named Desite at Amelia Community TheatrePictured from left to right: Toni D’Amico, Rodney Kluessendorf, Jennifer Johnston, Doug McDowell, Jennifer McCarthy, Joe Parker. Photo by Bill Raser.

Perhaps no other play captures the contradictions of the South as well as Tennessee Williams’s Pulitzer-prize winning drama, A Streetcar Named Desire . Set in New Orleans after the Second World War, this New York Drama Critics Best Play explores the warring factions of that transitional period—the genteel Old South versus a rising urban-industrial working class, and the fluctuating boundaries between the refined and the primitive, fantasy and reality, romance and sexuality, kindness and cruelty. These themes play out during an extended visit by fallen southern belle Blanche DuBois to her sister, Stella, in which Blanche’s fragile delusions of grandeur are eventually shattered by her earthy, pragmatic brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski.

The play is the eighth Amelia Community Theatre production directed by Marylee Long, a past president of the ACT board. A longtime teacher of English, she holds a bachelor’s degree in theater arts and master’s degree in English literature.

The cast features, among others, well-known local actors Joe Parker (Stanley Kowalski), Doug McDowell (Harold “Mitch” Mitchell), and Toni D’Amico (Eunice Hubbell), as well as two of the Kit Kat Girls from last season’s stunning Cabaret Jennifer Johnston (Blanche DuBois) and Jennifer McCarthy (Stella Kowalski).

Performances take place in Amelia Community Theatre’s main-stage theater at 207 Cedar Street at 8 p.m. on April 12-14, 19-21, and 26–28, and 2 p.m. on April 22. (The Opening night party will be held April 12th at 7 p.m.)

Purchase tickets ($20 adult, $10 student) online at www.ameliacommunitytheatre.org, or beginning March 29, call the box office from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, at 904-261-6749; the box office also opens 90 minutes before curtain.

Cast
Blanche DuBois — Jennifer Johnston
Stanley Kowalski — Joe Parker
Stella Kowalski — Jennifer McCarthy
Harold Mitchell (Mitch) — Doug McDowell
Eunice Hubbell — Toni D’Amico
Steve Hubbell — Rodney Kluessendorf
Pablo Gonzales — Dale Hair
Bill Collector — Gray Edenfield
Woman — Lisa Meeks
Mexican Woman & Nurse — Cari Cahill
Doctor — Dan Cahill

Production
Director — Marylee Long
Producer — Linda Chastine
Assistant Director/Stage Manager — Jackie Eaton

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2012 COA Memorial Day Golf Tournament

2012 COA Memorial Day Golf Tournament

Click to enlarge

Nassau County, FL – The Council on Aging is proud to announce our 2012 Charity Golf Event to be held on Memorial Day Monday, May 28, 2012 at the Omni Hotel and Resort on Amelia Island Plantation, on the Ocean Links course.

The Council on Aging Score One For COA Charity Golf Tournament kicks-off a very exciting year for us. This event will raise funds for our five outreach programs: Adult Day Healthcare, Transportation Services, In-Home Services, Meals on Wheels and running our two senior centers (East Nassau Fernandina Beach and West Nassau Hilliard). We hope you will consider being a Hole Sponsor with a custom sign placed on the Tees and Greens in our upcoming tournament for a $100 tax deductible donation. The continuing support of Nassau County residents and surrounding communities is greatly appreciated. To sponsor a hole, please contact Jeff McDowell, 904.261.0701 x 117 or jmcdowell@coanassau.com.

We would love to have you play with us as well—it will be a great day! Plan to attend and challenge your team to a beautiful golf adventure as you play some of the most breathtaking par 4 and 3’s fronting the Atlantic Ocean. The event is planned around all of our contestants enjoying themselves and taking home a memorable experience. We look forward to seeing you on Monday, May 28, 2012.

ENTRY FEES:
Four Person Team Entry – $500
Individual Entry – $125

ADDITIONAL:
Mulligan Tickets 3 for $10
Putting Contest Tickets $5
Door Prize Raffle Tickets – $20 each/3 for $50.00

GOLF TOURNAMENT FORMAT:
8:00 – 9:30 AM Registration, sign in (Includes: green fees, carts, range balls, cart baggie, lunch & awards)
10:00 AM – Play begins with a shotgun start at 10:00 am on Monday, May 28, 2012
Noon – Box Lunch delivered on course; beverage cart (Cash only) on course
3:00 – 4:00 PM Awards Ceremony- Prizes for Top 10 Men’s Teams, Top 3 Women’s Teams; (Cash bar) Prizes include rounds of golf and restaurant gift certificates, Raffle Ticket Drawings for new drivers, woods, putters, golf bags, and other exciting items like fly away lunches, fishing charters, and more. (Must be present to win)

To register online go to: www.coanassau.com

Click on the Golf Tournament Registration Form, print, and return with your credit card information to COA fax 904.261.0704 or by mail (1367 S. 18th St, Fernandina Beach, FL, 32034).

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Fernandina Waterfront Helicopter Sightseeing Flights

Fernandina Waterfront Helicopter Sightseeing FlightsThere is a sightseeing helicopter service interested in operating near the historic Fernandina Beach waterfront. Test flights are scheduled for Saturday, March 31st, from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, weather permitting, from Mr. Cook¹s property (south of the City Marina).

This will be a great opportunity to see how this operation may or may not interfere with the usual functions of other downtown businesses and attractions.

The planning advisory board is considering this request from the helicopter sightseeing tours to add this to the list of permitted usages in the Industrial Waterfront (IW) and the Waterfront Mixed Use (W1) zoning districts. If approved by the City Commission, any property within those zoning districts could be used for that purpose.

This matter will likely come before the City of Fernandina Beach Commissioners. PAB members and the commissioners have been advised to refrain from any discussions about their reaction to the demonstration until the Public Advisory Board meets again at their next scheduled meeting on April 11th at 5:00 PM.

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Expect Consumers to Drive Stock Prices in 2012

Consumer spending is now driving the markets

Consumer spending is now driving the markets

Although positive economic reports and easier monetary policy in parts of the world have fueled recent stock market gains, look for consumer spending to drive the stock market bus this year. Although we don’t expect consumers to dive in head first, moderate economic growth is helping to ease the pervasive gloom of recent years. Of course, buying local is always appreciated by your neighborhood business owners, and it helps improve the local economy directly.

Following a lackluster performance in 2011, U.S. stocks advanced 8% between December 31, 2011, and February 23, 2012 (as measured by the S&P 500). Although an early year surge is no guarantee that stocks will continue to advance for the remainder of 2012, investors appear willing to take more risk. What is driving this change of heart? Some market observers believe that better-than-expected U.S. economic reports, efforts by the European Central Bank to address the continent’s sovereign and banking issues, and easier monetary policy in China and India have combined to ease investor concerns about stocks.

Consumers Rule

Consumer discretionary spending, as the name implies, consists of services that consumers enjoy but could live without in tough times. Examples include cable and satellite television, restaurants, and movies, etc. Drivers of this sector will include a gradually improving U.S. economy, advances in technology, continued expansion in emerging markets, and growth in digital media technology. Technology advances are making it possible for companies to target consumers more precisely, potentially increasing return on investment, especially when analyzing buying patterns.

Never Give Up

Even when economic times are uncertain, most consumers still purchase goods & services that they use regularly. Think soft drinks, alcohol, packaged food, and household products here. Analysts believe that volume gains for consumer staples stocks are likely to be uplifted by higher marketing expenses and robust sales in developing markets. In the minds of certain investors, consumer staples are considered a defensive move that may be appropriate when the households are reluctant to purchase big-ticket items. This mindset may drive sales growth in private label goods and inhibit sales of more expensive branded items.

When re-evaluating your investment approach, keep in mind that investment in specialized industry sectors involves additional risk compared with a more diversified portfolio. Include a financial airbag to cushion against market swings in one area by maintaining a diversified approach with your investments.

Chat with your advisor regarding your risk tolerance and time horizon when deciding the proportion of your portfolio to invest in stocks and other investments

Why Airplane Food Sucks

airline food preparation

Airline food is mass production; don't expect gourmet cuisine

I’m a big believer in science, even though I have some nagging doubts about the latest scientific explanation why airplane food (these days) tastes so bad. True, the explanation of how foods need to be spiced up to taste like anything at all and how taste buds suffer from flavor arrest the higher up we are, sounds logical, but does not explain why a pan fried steak with sauteed mushrooms and Pommes Parisienne on a transatlantic Sabena flight from Brussels to New York in 1972 tasted like heaven at 36,000 feet.

Some of us may remember flying in the sixties and seventies, before deregulation, when airlines like Sabena, Singapore Airlines, Garuda and Swissair served full meals with great tasting fresh food. The rhythm of a flight consisted of a snack after take off, a full meal in midair and lunch or breakfast, depending which way your travel went. I remember a Christmas Eve flight from Amsterdam to Singapore on Singapore Airlines in 1976 with stops in Rome, Bahrain and Bangkok, which at each take off was followed by those cities native cuisine dinner, lunch and breakfast, a true Tour de Gourmet that lasted 26 hours.

But deregulation came and flavorful food went first to the front of the plane and from there probably out of the window.
Today science (or maybe pseudo science) wants us to believe that the moment we step aboard a “modern” airliner, our taste buds loose all sensitivity.
It starts with the cabin atmosphere drying out our nose and as the plane climbs higher into the air, it numbs up to 1/3 of our tastebuds, science claims. But once the airliner reaches cruising altitude somewhere at 35,000 ft or higher, the artificial humidity inside the fuselage to reduce corrosion, wreaks havoc with our tastebuds as cotton mouth sets in.

Modern food safety standards require all meals to be cooked first on the ground and during that process airlines add a lot of salt, spices and sweeteners to their foods to try to offset the taste numbing experience that reportedly comes with altitude. After cooking, the portions are blast-chilled and refrigerated until they can be stacked on carts and loaded on planes. Another modern safety rules prohibits open-flame grills and ovens on commercial aircraft, so attendants must contend with convection ovens that blow hot, dry air over the food.

Experts these days agree that getting any food to taste good on a plane is an elusive goal, because the  packaging, freezing, drying and storage are hard on flavor. ‘Ice cream is about the only thing I can think of that tastes good on a plane,’ says Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. I see a Cold Stone Creamery franchise in the friendly skies in our future, but I am still wondering why that steak at 35,000 feet on that Sabena flight so long ago, was one of the best steaks I ever had. Must have been the ambiance of a jetliner fuselage, being surrounded by strangers enroute to an exciting destination. Oh the mind, it’s such a powerful thing.

Major Changes for the Amelia Arts Academy

Major Changes for the Amelia Arts AcademyThe Board of Directors met on March 12, 2012 to begin developing a strategic plan for the Amelia Arts Academy. They decided to continue as they are until the end of the fiscal year, June 30th, 2012.

At that point, effective July 1, 2012, their focus will be directed toward serving a targeted group of children who have little or no access to the arts through the After School Arts Initiatives. They will no longer sponsor individual instruction under the auspices of the Academy.

Private lessons will continue through the end of the fiscal year but as of March 31, 2012 they need to be out of the Peck Center so teachers will be at different sites.

You may still pay for your lessons by sending a check to Amelia Arts Academy, PO Box 222, Fernandina Beach, FL 32035. They will also accept credit card payments until June 30, 2012.

Some of the teachers have made other arrangements and will be collecting their own fees. If you currently attend the Academy, your teacher will advise you as to what you need to do and where you need to be.

This was a hard decision to make but one they felt would be best for the future of the Arts Academy. It is their belief that narrowing their focus will make them better able to provide quality arts education to a larger group of children without major costs for administration and infrastructure.

It is sad that the Academy as we know it today will no longer exist but they have great hopes that they will still be able to make a difference in the lives of Nassau County children.

While they are appreciative of the support given from members of our community, they are sorry that the current economic climate has made this decision imperative.

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Rodeo Excitement in Kingsland Georgia

Searchamelia announces First Annual Equine Rescue rodeo in Kingsland Georgia

This looks like fun!!!!!!!!

Last week we were introduced to the first Cattle Baron’s Ball and in a couple of weeks we’ll be witnessing the First Annual Equine Rescue Rodeo of South Georgia in Camden County. On April 13 and 14, this All American Event will be held in Kingsland Georgia on Highway 40 across from the K-Mart and the Publix Shopping Center.

We already introduced you to the fine people behind this event in a previous story on how they became a sanctioned horse rescue farm. One thing is for sure, they didn’t stop there. With this exciting event being sanctioned by the Professional Cowboy Association (PCA) and co-sanctioned by the Professional Armed Forces Rodeo Association (PAFRA) bringing some of the top contestant in rodeo to the field, the organizers are resurrecting an old American tradition for Camden County.

Rodeo is a window into a past much less complicated than today and the organizers, who retained stock contractor T Bar- T Rodeo out of Waycross, famously owned by Justin Thigpen, to provide the “talent”, expect some 2,000 spectators both nights. Proceeds from ticket sales are benefitting the non profit Equine Rescue of South Georgia and proceeds from food ticket sales will benefit Kingsland’s Caring Hearts Organization.

Some of the fun includes Bull Riding, Bareback Riding, Steer Wrestling, Calf Roping, Saddle Bronc Riding, Cowgirl’s Break Away Roping (Hmmm), Women’s Barrel Racing (double Hmmmm?) and Team Roping.

Mark your calendar for this fun event, while helping those who need funds to care for humans and animals that others have forsaken, abused and mistreated.
Today I heard a story of a puppy duct taped to a pole in Jacksonville, saved by a friend who provides intermediate home and care and looking for adoption.
I swear that if I ever catch some lowlife sub-human mistreating an animal in such a horrible way, Raiford may have a place for me on death row.