Search Amelia’s New Lease on Life

A new lease on lifeOn May 29, 2008 we published the first story on Searchamelia, which had little to do with Amelia Island, other than that it was an early warning light for the economic downturn that was about to happen and its potential impact on tourism. Over time that blog story received more than 14,000 hits!
In the 6 years that followed we saw a meteoric rise in readership and subscriptions with impressive rankings and page views. A slow decline in these numbers in recent years were due to diverse business distractions which left on occasion not enough time to devote on the technological infrastructure nor constantly updating Search Engine Optimization techniques. To be honest, we did not consider ourselves front runners in online technology anymore and attacking a 6 year old structure with almost 10,000 blog stories and numerous manual changes, had slowly turned the idea of upgrading to the latest technology platforms into a potential nightmare. But…a couple of months ago we decided on taking the bulls by the horns and upgrade or internet capabilities to 2014. A couple of weeks ago we pushed the button of change, faced broken links and other technology nightmares and corrected the site. Last night we finally got Feedburner to work again and play nice with the theme. As a consequence many of our readers got a long email with stories dating back to April 11. Rest assured, if you’re signing up for daily updates now, you’ll faithfully receive them in your inbox every morning.

And last but not least, Judie and I have started to revive and restore SearchAmelia with an influx of new content contributors on the local, national and international scene.
We are proud and honored to announce that the following authors have committed to weekly column contributions.

Dave Scott – Fernandina Beach Wrecker – weekly
After his stint as weekly column contributor to the local newspaper, Dave started his own blog and has now agreed to write a weekly observation of curiosities and local weirdness for SearchAmelia and in turn we have promised to actively support his latest project called The Fernandina Beach News Wrecker. Details to follow.
Dave looks back at a distinguished 40 year career in journalism and communications, during which he developed a keen insight in the industry’s challenges and exaggerations, which he now exposes in true to form irony.

Jim Weinsier – Musings and Poetry – weekly
Jim Weinsier is an interesting man. The first time I met Jim I felt that his outward quiet presence hid a multi layered, highly intelligent human being. He was (and is) handy, a hands on problem solver and a man you can count on. The Petanque America needed a hands on tournament builder Jim came forward and made the organization look like a piece of cake. When the Blues Festival needed someone to calmly orchestrate the many facets of a festival grounds, Jim unassumingly offered his services and made it a success. What I didn’t know is the multi talented Jim Weinsier is also a poet, writer and painter and we are honored to expose many of his insightful musings, poems and observations in a weekly column and expect updates from him as main honcho of the Amelia Island Boules (Pétanque) Club, the largest one in the nation.

Keith Johnson PhD – Philosophy and Religion
Keith Johnson has been submitting stories to SearchAmelia for almost 2 years now. Sometimes with religious overtones, embedded in human philosophy, other times stories on improving life’s outlooks when facing defined and less defined mental and/or physical challenges, Keith Johnson brings home every day life and how to cope, change or develop someone’s reaction. If you can’t change the circumstance, change your personal reaction to it. His Amazon published book “If Life is a Grocery Store, I need better Coupons” illicit the following review: Dr. Keith Johnson continues to excel in providing thoroughly entertaining wit and wisdom for our journeys through life. Drawing on his vast experience in education, counseling, and personal choices, Dr. Johnson gives the reader an easy to follow way to achieve success in the most important aspects of life.

Nikolaus Menches – Europe- weekly
Nikolaus or Nick was born and raised in a suburb of Vienna, Austria. He frequently visited the US as exchange student and since for professional reasons. He’s a close family friend, so close actually that he is considered a son. Very smart, observant and cultured with a wide spectrum of interests, I asked Nick after his recent vacation stay with us on Amelia, to write a weekly column about a European’s observations of living in a Florida beach town, as well as provide us with on the ground information of developments in Europe. Nick is an executive in a Central European Online Real Estate company and commutes between his hometown of Vienna and the company’s Berlin Headquarters on a very frequent basis.

Pierre Guite – Real Estate – weekly
Pierre Guite started life many years ago in Montreal, Canada. As a true Canadian, he started his professional career as a hockey player. After retiring from hockey, he began a long Sales Career that included Medical Sales, Communication Sales and currently Real Estate. He and his wife left the northern cold at an appropriate time and moved to Amelia Island in 2003. We love the area and enjoy introducing Fernandina Beach to our many visitors. Pierre works with Keller Williams Realty and is a regular online contributor with his finger on the pulse of local real estate. Pierre embraces “Don’t fear the unknown……..Fear the untried!” as one of his guiding principles.

Rick Traum – A Lifetime of Movies and TV productions – weekly
Rick is widely known as the producer behind NBC’s Late Night Show during the Johnny Carson era, producer of many famous Radio City Music Hall productions, including the Rockettes and recipient of the prestigious Emmy. Rick has several pockets full of interesting stories about TV and the movie industry. When I first heard his name, I recalled seeing his cousins Happy and Artie Traum performing in Woodstock during the early 80s. But Rick’s pedigree is anchored in New York entertainment.

Ronnie Stoots – Travel / Hospitality – weekly
Ronnie is a multi-layered friend. He started his days out in the urban areas of Mississippi where religion became a major part of his upbringing, so much that he became an ordained minister and very accomplished musician, blessed with a voice that commands attention. As life moved on Ronnie studied finances and economics and became a financial advisor in Nassau County, first under the Edward Jones flag and later as an independent. His real passion in life however is travel. He loves seeking out and writing about new destinations and build custom travel packages. His upcoming attraction is the many facets of Italy and the Amalfi Coast.

There are several more contributing writers in the pipeline, such as a banker in London, a retired professor fishing and living in Norway, a sports and fitness expert, a musician in New Zealand, a retired policeman in the mountains of Panama and a native american historian.
Should you want to publish on Searchamelia, you may always contact Judie or myself, but keep in mind that regular frequency (at least every two weeks) is required to become a profiled contributing writer.

And to our readership: Thank you for your continued support…thanks to you the best is yet to come!

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Edgar Hansen’s Shrimp Festival Appearance

Edgar Hansen's Shrimp Festival AppearanceFresh From Florida Seafood is bringing Capt. Edgar Hansen of the F/V Northwestern as featured on Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” to the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival.

He will arrive at the Shrimp Festival at noon on Saturday and is scheduled to judge the Adult Pirate Costume contest at 12:30 (waterfront stage area).

Otherwise, he will be in the Fresh From Florida Booth (found at the waterfront near the food court) waiting to meet you!

1:00-2:00 Fresh From Florida booth meet and greet
At 2:15 Edgar will take the stage as the Fresh From Florida Guest Speaker
2:30-5:00 Fresh From Florida booth meet and greet

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VA Researchers Receive Nation’s Top Award for Early Career Scientists

VA Researchers Receive Nation's Top Award for Early Career ScientistsWASHINGTON DC — Four Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) researchers were among the 102 recipients of the 2012 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) honored at a ceremony held April 14th. The PECASE is the highest honor conferred by the U.S. government on federal researchers in the early stages of their careers.

“These four VA scientists truly embody the spirit and intent of the PECASE,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “In addition to making important contributions to our understanding of Veterans’ health and provision of treatment, they are also adding to the body of scientific knowledge in their chosen fields of study.” Joining fellow award recipients from 11 other federal agencies and institutes as well as the intelligence community were VA investigators Dr. Karunesh Ganguly, San Francisco VA Medical Center; Dr. Brian P. Head, VA San Diego Healthcare System; Dr.Katherine M. Iverson, VA Boston Healthcare System; and Dr.Hardeep Singh, Michael E. Debakey (Houston) VA Medical Center.

The ceremony took place at the White House.

Ganguly was recognized for his work on human learning vs. machine learning. His efforts to develop brain-machine interfaces—a technology that promises to enable those with permanent disabilities to control prosthetics will improve the function and quality of life of Veterans and others following spinal cord injury, stroke, or amputation.

Iverson was honored for her studies regarding intimate partner violence (IPV) among women Veterans. Her work regarding the clinical importance of IPV screening has provided a foundation for better IPV detection and treatment and has informed emerging VA policy’

Head was nominated for research that may soon lead to gene therapies that treat a variety of nervous system disorders. His work holds great promise for helping those with neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, patients recovering from stroke, and Veterans with traumatic brain injury.

Singh was nominated for studies using VA electronic medical data to improve patient safety and healthcare quality. In addition to developing novel methods for reducing diagnostic errors by alerting health professionals to abnormal test results, he has worked toward improved detection and understanding of patient safety issues in the VA outpatient setting.

“We are proud of these young researchers and the outstanding contributions they’ve made to Veterans’ health,” said Dr. Robert Petzel, VA Under Secretary for Health. “Their work exemplifies the many ways VA Research improves the lives of Veterans and the Nation.”

Established in 1996, the awards are given each year for “innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology” and a commitment to community service. VA, which has the largest integrated health care system in the country, also has one of the largest medical research programs. This fiscal year, nearly 3,500 researchers will work on more than 2,200 projects with about $586 million in direct funding from VA. Additional research is conducted under VA auspices by VA-affiliated investigators with funding from non-VA sources, such as the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and various private and nonprofit organizations.

For more information on VA Research, please visit, or follow us at and on Twitter @VAResearch.

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Fernandina Beach Wants Your Input Regarding 8th Street

Fernandina Beach Wants Your Input Regarding 8th StreetThe City is looking for opinions on the future of 8th Street. The City’s Comprehensive Plan directs review of the commercial corridors within the City – 8th Street/Downtown, 14th Street, Sadler Road, and the Main Beach/Seaside Park areas. In addition, the Economic Development Element of the Comprehensive Plan directs evaluating these parts of town as Job Opportunity Areas, and laying the groundwork to introduce new business and employment opportunities to the City. Because much of these areas are built out, policies will primarily focus on redevelopment.

Planning Staff is currently conducting research on potential policies and land use mechanisms to foster and support these directives. These updates will go in the City’s Land Development Code (LDC). Staff has convened a technical working group for assistance in fact-finding and data collection. The work done by the group in gathering this information will help staff in drafting policies going forward.

The group first met in March 2014. Members of the group include an architect, engineer, the County Economic Development Board director, a citizen-at-large, Planning Advisory Board members, a County growth management representative, and a retired economic development professional. All meetings are noticed and open to the public in accordance with Sunshine laws, and all input is welcome. Information on the group and their efforts is available at

The group has chosen to work on 8th Street first. 8th Street, or A1A, is a state road, and portions fall within the City and County. As part of the fact-finding, the group is planning to reach out to 8th Street business and property owners, as well as downtown merchants. City staff and the group members are also very interested in what the entire community has to say about 8th Street. It is hoped that City and County residents, as well as business owners, tourists, and anyone interested in the future of 8th Street will respond. In order to get feedback, the City has a survey available at:

The City will have hard copy surveys and a comment board available at the City booth during Shrimp Fest as well.

Based on information and data collected in 2014, staff hopes to draft the updates to the LDC in 2015 and prepare them for Planning Advisory Board and Commission review. Depending on how the working group and staff decide to tackle the updates, the changes may come in sections or as a bundle. Due to the nature of these updates, which promise to be a significant update to the LDC, it’s possible this effort will continue beyond 2015.

For more information, contact Adrienne Burke, Community Development Director, at 904-310-3135 or

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Road Closures for the 2014 Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival

Road Closures for the 2014 Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp FestivalThe following street and parking lot closures will be effective the week preceding the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival in Fernandina Beach, Florida, in order to set up for the festival.

-City Waterfront Parking Lots A and B will be closed from Midnight Wednesday, April 30 until Midnight Sunday, May 4.
-City Waterfront Parking Lots C and D, and the Parking Lot at the southeast corner of N 2nd and Alachua Streets will be closed to unauthorized vehicles from Midnight Thursday, May 1 until Midnight Sunday, May 4.
-Beginning at 5:00 PM Friday, May 2, there will be NO PARKING on the streets and public parking lots of the downtown Centre Street Business District (bordered by Ash St. and Alachua St. from 8th St. to the Waterfront).

At 4:00 PM, Friday, May 2, 2014, police officers will be placed at Centre Street and South 8th Street. Traffic will only be allowed to leave the area eastbound at this location. Westbound traffic will be diverted. All unauthorized traffic/parking should be in the process of leaving the downtown area between 4 and 5:00 PM. At 5:00 PM officers will be patrolling the area and all vehicles will be towed to clear the streets for booths to begin setting up at 6:00 PM. This area will remain closed to parking until Midnight Sunday, May 4, in order to finish clean up and street sweeping.

Signs will be posted throughout the downtown area and unauthorized vehicles will be towed.

The Police and Fire/Rescue Command Center is located at 204 Ash Street, one block south of Centre Street, in downtown Fernandina Beach. This will be the place to go for lost and found items, lost parents, and first aid. The Command Center hours of operation are: Friday 5:00 PM till 11:00 PM, Saturday 9:00 AM till 6:00 PM, and Sunday 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM.

For all other police services contact the Fernandina Beach Police Department at (904) 277-7342 Ext. 1 or dial 911 if you have an emergency.

The Police and Fire/Rescue Command Center is also the place to go if your vehicle has been towed. If you were parked on city property, the local police will be able to tell you how to find your car as there are “official” tow trucks. If you were parked on private property, the property owner is free to call any tow company they choose.

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Rocky Horror Show at Amelia Musical Playhouse

Rocky Horror Show at Amelia Musical PlayhouseWe would like, if we may, to take you on a strange journey… not your ordinary night at the theatre!

The fantastic campy, cult favorite Rocky Horror Show will be performed on May 1,2,3,8,9, 10th at 7:30 PM at Amelia Musical Playhouse, 1955 Island Walkway, right off 8th St in Fernandina Beach.

Tickets are $20.00 and are available at the theatre, or on the website, or call the theatre box office at 277-3455. Leave a message and they will get back to you.

The production is directed by Jill Dillingham and features a live band and newly designed sets by Gregg Dillingham and Annie Hall Hines with costumes by assistant director Rachel Tyler.

A humorous tribute to classic science fiction and horror movies, The Rocky Horror Show tells the story of two clean cut young people, Brad Majors and his fiancée Janet Weiss, who run into trouble and seek help at the freaky Frankenstein mansion. However, little did they know that the mansion is inhabited by alien transsexuals from the planet Transylvania and Dr. Frank N. Furter is in the midst of one of his maniacal experiments.

The musical has since developed a cult following and was also adapted into a movie. Prop bags will be sold so you can make yourselves part of the fun!

Feel free to dress up as your favorite character or come as you are and have fun with this musical mayhem!


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Where to Find Pirates at the 2014 Shrimp Festival

Where to Find Pirates at the 2014 Shrimp FestivalThe 51st Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival takes place May 2 – 4, 2014, on Amelia Island, Florida. This FREE, three day festival is full of entertainment, delicious shrimp dishes, a Kids Fun Zone, over 300 arts and crafts booths, antique exhibitors and of course, those gnarly Pirates!

Thursday May 1st, the weekend kicks off with a Pirate Parade that begins at 6:00 pm and runs through the heart of historic, Fernandina Beach. Floats, bands and walking entries will put on their best wench and pirate costumes to compete for the Pirate Parade Awards. As a finale to this parade, scores of Fernandina Pirates Club, Inc, members and their Swabbies (pirates in training) will take to the streets with their large pirate ship float, Amelia’s Revenge. Black powdered pistols, rifles and cannons onboard the ship are lit igniting the imagined chaos of the town being taken over by Pirates!

Friday evening the waterfront area of the Festival opens at 6:00 PM with live music, opening ceremonies, the parade awards and the crowning of the 2014 Miss Shrimp Festival. In the midst of the excitement is a Pirate Booth offering swords, hooks, pirate hats, patches, flags and more.

lowes-pirate-ship2014This year children are invited to build a pirate ship with a functioning “plank” and sails, thanks to the generous folks from Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores. But, soon after, as cannon fire and screams ring out in the night, the Pirates invade the town and take over the stage and subject the citizens to an amazing history lesson about their brethren. Then the much anticipated fireworks are shot overhead, lighting up the sky over the Amelia River followed by dancing in the streets to the amazing sounds of KTG until 10:30 PM.

Saturday morning the pirates can be found roaming the streets and in their booth as early as 9:00 am.

At 10:00 am, look for Pirates in the Kids Fun Zone for the Pirates in Training Contest (ages 5 and under) and the Little Pirate Contest (ages 6 and over), sponsored by Ann Teague Bonding Agency, Inc.

invasion-pirates-2014There will be an Invasion of the Pirates at noon, where they march through the streets from the waterfront to the courthouse and raise a Pirate Flag over Amelia Island.

The Best Dressed Adult Pirate Contest is G-Rated and open to anyone who dares enter. Sponsored by, this fun and lively contest takes place near the waterfront at 12:30 pm where Pirates shine up their buckles and compete for cash prizes. This year, our guest judge will be Captain Edgar Hansen of the F/V Northwestern as featured on Discovery Channel’s #1 ranked show, Deadliest Catch

“Learn to be a Pirate”, a class for children led by members of the Fernandina Pirates Club, takes place at 3:30 pm in the Kids Fun Zone. Then they will pillage and plunder their way back through the streets to the waterfront stage to listen to platinum selling artist, Edwin McCain. The festivities of the Shrimp Festival end at 6:00 pm.

The action starts over again Sunday, at 10:00 am with Pirates in their booth trading their wares from around the world, mostly China, and nurse their wounds from the previous two battles. Now that the Island has been seized and is under control of the Pirates, they are free to roam the streets and frolic with the guests of the Festival. Pirates will be found witnessing the Blessing of the Fleet, and enjoying the Decorated Boat Parade on the Amelia River, and at 2:30 pm you’ll find many of them dancing to the Party Band of the South, The Swingin’ Medallions.

If you still haven’t attended “Learn to be a Pirate”, class will be in session two times on Sunday – at noon, and again at 3:30 pm.

pirates-bus-routeIf you take advantage of the Park and Ride shuttle system, Pirates can often be found at the bus loading and unloading zone within the festival; uncharacteristically offering to help you manage your packages, boxes, handbags, cameras, and wallets – while you board the bus.

You don’t want to miss the seeing the Fernandina Pirates at the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival! Come partake of the shrimp, have some fun, enjoy the arts, crafts, and antiques, and dozens of playfully entertaining pirates!

Because many people enjoy coming to the Shrimp Festival dressed as pirates, please keep in mind that not all pirates are members of the Fernandina Pirates Club, Inc. The original, local Fernandina Pirates Club have been incorporated since the early 1970s. Pirate Club members are all volunteers and they each wear an identifying patch on their clothing. The Pirates Club is also an insured, not-for-profit organization in which both the City of Fernandina Beach and the Nassau County Commissioners have proclaimed as Goodwill Ambassadors to our Northeast Florida community.

Festival hours are Friday, May 2, 6:00 to 10:30 pm; Saturday, May 3, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm; and on Sunday the festival is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. For more information about entertainment, contests and where to “Park and Ride” please visit

There is NO admission fee to attend!

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Fernandina Celebrates Arbor Day 2014

Fernandina Celebrates Arbor Day 2014Fernandina Beach will be celebrating Arbor Day and 12 years as Tree City USA at the Petanque Courts at the Amelia River Waterfront Park.

Festivities include a pot-luck lunch, live music, petanque games and a Treasured Tree Trolly Tour that has already sold out.

The fun is this Sunday, April 27, 2014, with a tree planting scheduled for 1:00 pm.

Arbor Day is a day for people and organizations to encourage planting and saving trees. The date Arbor Day is observed changes in different climates due to the planting season.

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Blues Aren’t Just About Being Sad

Bluesfest logoMusic is about culture, history, strive, hope, sadness and joy. Music is about people. There are so many musical expressions, but if you’re talking about folk music, you talk about blues, the crucible of African-American music and the directions it experimented in after it escaped the roots of the Mississippi delta and sprang from spiritual music and field hollering to spin the cultural thread that followed the immense black migration from the vast openness of the south to the urban centers of the north – and from there across the globe. More than 5 million blacks moved north, south, east and west between 1915 and 1970, away from the Delta.

Away from the cotton fields in search for a better live in the urban industrialized centers. Some moved to Memphis Tennessee, where the blues gave birth to rock and roll. New Orleans developed its own flavor of jazz/blues and further west in Texas, blues received a Texas shuffle treatment. Moving to St.Louis and later Detroit, blues added horn sections and gave way to rhythm and blues and soul and funk. When the blues reached Chicago it became electrified and amplified and spread across the globe.

Blues was born as a lamentation of hardship but over time became an outlet for the heart’s every yearning. Blues is no longer just about being sad. It’s about life and it is about a culture that needs to be remembered. It’s a way to remember how black folks lived and were treated and to make absolutely sure that history will not repeat itself in any resemblance of that misguided era of human disgrace. Blues came from poverty and restriction and even though poverty is still an issue in the Delta and beyond, the cotton fields are worked by modern machinery and the sharecroppers shacks have made way for neat bungalows and mobile homes.

A lot of things have changed and many for the better, but this also has given rise to the fact that young African Americans these days are not into the blues anymore, even though it animates rap and other music forms they listen to.
These days it is a younger white generation that has taken up the cause of the blues. Joe Bonamassa, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Sheppard and others from areas as varied as upstate New York, Los Angeles and Oregon, are just a selected handful of guitar slingers that have adopted blues as their story to the world. The great Willie Dixon once said: Blues is the Facts of Life. And the fact is that facts change and the blues is how life feels and breathes as it goes on. I believe that there is more continuity in blues as an expression of everyday life, than anything else on this planet. Which is the main reason I joined the initiative to bring a Blues Festival to Amelia Island four years ago. Proud that we are now helping to keep the memories alive and happy to see that the 4th festival is on our door step and that it moved back to the beach. For me it feels like singing “Sweet Home on the Beach”, with a minuscule touch of irony and a giant portion of belief.

Amelia Island Blues Festival 2014 Headliners

The Amelia Island Blues Festival is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, September 12th & 13th, at Main Beach this year. Four award winning artists are set to headline this year’s event.

Curtis Salgado winner of the 2010 Blues Music Award (BMA) for Soul Blues Artist of The Year, Salgado effortlessly mixes blues, funk and R&B with a delivery that is raw and heartfelt.

Chicago Blues legend, Grammy Award and Blues Music Award Nominee, John Primer is truly “The Real Deal” when it comes to performing Chicago Blues.

Samantha Fish won her 2012 Blues Music Award for “Best New Artist Debut” for her album “Runaway”, Her new CD, “Black Wind Howlin”will be released two days before the festival.

Bernard Allison‘s acclaimed career has included decades of performing the Blues. Bernard totes the same smokin’ six string shooter as his late father, Blues legend Luther Allison.

“We are very excited to have these world class Blues artists to perform at our 4th annual event” says Jeff Malone, President.

Day One – Friday, Sept 12th: gates will open at 5:30pm with music starting at 6:00pm with our very own Fernandina Beach “Blues in School” Band with band leaders Johnny Robinson and Roger “Hurricane” Wilson. From 6:30 – 8:00pm, The Mojo Roots, performer at the 2013 Chicago Blues Festival will take the stage.

Day Two – Saturday,  Sept 13th: gates open at 11:30am with music performances from 12:15 – 8:00pm. Ben Prestage is returning to perform throughout the day. Young Blues guitar prodigy Matthew Curry, Bernard Allison, Samantha Fish, John Primer and Curtis Salgado will headline this year’s event. For updates you can visit the festival facebook page. Don’t forget to like them. For more Information and Tickets visit:

Celebrating Felix’s Birthday at the Farmers’ Market

Celebrating Felix's Birthday at the Farmers' MarketApril 26, 2014 will be the last Fernandina Beach Market Place farmers’ market before the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, so join us and stock up, because you will be without the friendliest farmers’ market in Florida on May 3, 2014! Our vendors know this and are prepared to bring plenty of fresh produce, baked breads and pastries, honey, plants, jams, jellies, sauces, cheeses, meats and more to hold you over.

Also on April 26th we will be celebrating a very special birthday! Felix Jones spends every Saturday morning at the Market Place with his basket of pineapples, peanuts and News-Leaders, and we are getting a giant birthday cake to celebrate! Gabriel Arnold will be blowing on the saxophone, and he is sharing his PA with other local musicians who want to bring their instrument and invite Felix to sit in on a song or two with his harmonica.

In addition to over 30 booths of natural products, organic delights and delicious treats, our sister market, the Fernandina Beach Arts Market, will be open with an addition 25 arts and craft vendors right next door!

The Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival will be on hand to tease you with the upcoming 13th season where you should expect the unexpected. World renowed artists will be performing in unique and intimate setting all around Amelia Island, with 13 concerts being held between May 3, 2014 and June 1, 2014.

We have so much going on at the Fernandina Beach Market Place, we have invited massage students from Florida State College at Jacksonville. They won’t just be on hand to tell you about the popular massage classes FSCJ offers, but they are also bringing along some of their massage chairs to show you how great the program is by demonstrating what they have learned by offering free massages!

The Fernandina Beach Market Place farmers market is open, rain or shine, every Saturday of the year (except for Shrimp Festival Saturday)! Our hours are 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and we are located on N. 7th Street in historic, downtown Fernandina Beach, Florida.

We hope you will join us! For more information, please call Joe at (904) 557-8229, or visit

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New Science Board to Advise Health and Human Services

New Science Board to Advise Health and Human ServicesSix experts from outside the federal government will join the National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB) to provide advice and guidance to HHS’ assistant secretary for preparedness and response, and to the HHS Secretary, on preventing, preparing for, and responding to adverse health effects of public health emergencies.

The new members replace members whose terms expire April 30, 2014.

The ASPR serves as the Secretary’s principal advisor on bioterrorism and other public health emergencies and coordinates the federal public health and medical response to disasters.

“NBSB members are vital to our operations here in HHS. They bring a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and experience. Over the past six years, the board has helped us improve federal policies and practices in disaster preparedness and response,” said Assistant Secretary Nicole Lurie, M.D. “I look forward to working with the new members in helping to build more resilient communities across the nation.”

The NBSB was created under the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006 and chartered in May 2007. Since then, the board has provided recommendations on federal disaster preparedness and response issues. In the past year, these issues have included anticipated responsibilities of the Strategic National Stockpile in the year 2020 and cost-effective ways to meet those responsibilities. The stockpile has large quantities of medicine and medical supplies to protect the public if there is a public health emergency, such as a terrorist attack, flu outbreak, or earthquake, severe enough to cause local supplies to run out.

The board has 13 voting members with a broad range of expertise in science, medicine, and public health. There also are voting and non-voting members from federal and state government agencies as deemed appropriate by the HHS Secretary.

Information about the NBSB and its meetings is available at

Incoming members are as follows:

-Virginia Caine, M.D., director of the Marion County Public Health Department in Indianapolis;, associate professor of medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, and board member of the National Medical Association.
-David Ecker, Ph.D., divisional vice president and a general manager at Ibis Biosciences, Inc., an Abbott company located in Carlsbad, Calif. He is serving his first term as a voting member on the NBSB and has been chosen to be reappointed for an additional three-year term.
-Noreen Hynes, M.D., M.P.H., D.T.M.& H., associate professor of medicine and public health, and director of the Geographic Medicine Center of the Division of Infectious Diseases, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore.
-Catherine Slemp, M.D., M.P.H., public health consultant. She previously served as West Virginia’s state health officer with the Bureau for Public Health.
-Tammy Spain, Ph.D., senior member of the technical staff at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Bioengineering Center at the University of South Florida.
-David Weinstock, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Associate Physician at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Affiliated Faculty at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, all Boston.

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Spring 2014 City of Fernandina Recycling Event

Spring 2014 City of Fernandina Recycling EventThe fine City of Fernandina Beach is hosting a Hazardous Waste Clean-up and Recycle Event on Saturday, April 26, 2014.

Bring your items to the City Maintenance/Utility Yard at 1017 S. 5th Street in Fernandina from 8:00 am until 2:00 pm.

The following items may be disposed/recycled:
Glass or Plastic Bottles
Propane Tanks
Steel or Aluminum Cans
Paper Cardboard
Tires (4 per household)
Electronics Appliances
Automotive Fluids
Oil Filters
Scrap Metal
Paint Thinners
Hazardous Chemicals Pesticides
Fluorescent Bulbs
Automotive or Household Batteries
Household Cleaners
Over the Counter Medications

FREE PINE MULCH CHIPS will be given away, courtesy of Rayonier for residential use only, while supplies last and there will be paper shredding services on-site, too.

Residents may also dispose of household hazardous waste at the Home Depot parking lot in Yulee from 9am-2pm on the same day!

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Keep Nassau Beautiful will be on-site collecting:
Fluorescent Bulbs
Diesel & Gasoline
Household Cleaners
Paint Thinners
Pool Chemicals
Propane Tanks
Used Oil & Filters

For more information on this event, contact Todd Duncan with Keep Nassau Beautiful at (904)261-0165.

For additional information concerning this event, please call the Maintenance Department at (904)310-3315 or visit for more on recycling in the city!

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Kindness Queen is Coming to Fernandina

Kindness Queen is Coming to FernandinaThe Fernandina Beach Arts Market is held the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month in downtown, historic Fernandina Beach, adjacent to the Fernandina Beach Market Place farmers’ market and there is plenty to see April 26, 2014.

Twice as Nice is a local artist making their inaugural appearance on the 26th with re-purposed shells. Check out her oyster shell chandelier, shell covered baskets, lamps with burlap bow shades, sea glass picture frames and wreaths, and drift wood candle holders.

Joel Vindetti of Tie Dyed Threads will be joining the Arts Market once again and he has been making unique tie dyed apparel since 1986. He makes T-shirts, beach throws, Onesies for the toddlers, wall-hangings and interesting tapestries. Joel also offers silk screenings and corporate discounts.

The Kindness Queen will be making a royal appearance at the Arts Market and will be reading from her children’s book, Kitty Kitty’s Unusual Fishing Trip. The Kindness Queen is a character created by a former elementary school resource teacher and she dresses in character to promote the concept of “noblesse oblige” to remind people of all ages the power of making noble choices. Noblesse oblige is a French phrase that is translated in English as noble obligation or nobility obligates and it is defined as: the use of kind, responsible, honorable and generous behavior associated with nobility. The Kindness Queen believes that if you are 4 or 104 years old, YOU CAN make a positive impact in your family, classroom, corporation or community.

Open from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, there is still room for a few more vendors, so if you are interested in showing off your talented creations visit and fill out an application, or call Joe at (904) 557-8229 for more information.

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Life Moves at the Speed of a Roll of Toilet Paper in Use

Composting Toilet Paper SolutionsYes, dear reader, toilet paper has taken a focus point in my life these days. I never realized how much philosophical wisdom is embodied in a roll of toilet paper, until I took over the daily operation of a bed and breakfast and toilet paper became an issue of profiling guests. I guess as times move on, anything in life becomes reflective but toilet paper takes a remarkable place in that spectrum of every day life. For instance give a couple of guys a roll of toilet paper and you won’t have to replenish for another week. Give a couple of women a roll of toilet paper and the phone will ring at midnight of the day of arrival with the request for more. This tidbit opened up a can of worms for me as I started to see the comparison between a roll of re-cycled paper fibers in use, with the increasing speed of life as you get older. It turns out that the closer we get to the end of the roll, the faster life moves.

And while I’m still in something of a state of denial about my rapidly advancing age, I realize that I was what seemed 25 years old just a couple of days ago, I now awake with that dreaded Beatle song playing in my head titled “When I’m Sixty Four”. The past 2 weeks we were delighted in the re-acquaintance visit with Austrian friend Nick, who stayed with my wife and her kids as an exchange student 20 years ago. Facebook was the re-matchmaker a couple of months ago and Nick who is now 35, immediately booked a trip to come visit us. From the moment he got of the plane, it felt like no time had passed in 20 years, yet the 2 weeks we enjoyed his company came and went like a tornado on speed.

And the way my brain works now, such occasions tend to cause me to spend a bit of time reflecting on life. Not so much the number of beats left in one’s heart, but the quality of existence and items left on my “bucket list.”

I never really pondered on the reality of clear landmarks on the road to old age, such as 30, 40th, 50th or even 60th birth dates. Yet over time I have come to the conclusion that there are some relative absolutes worthy of consideration. “Relative” because almost nothing outside of the hard laws of physics is for certain. But, even so, there are certain probabilities associated with advancing years that one can easily identify.

Between the ages of 60 and 70, most people get technically and visibly “old.” And after 70, things really gain momentum, for most. While I certainly know individuals even in their early 80s who are amazingly robust, so much so that people might comment, “Wow, I wouldn’t have thought him or her a day over 70″… that is akin to saying that someone who weighs 300 pounds doesn’t look like he’d tip the scales at any more than 250. He’s still fat, in the same way that over 70 you are still old.

One’s health deteriorates after 60 and possibly at an earlier age, depending on the excess lifestyle one’s committed to. Like my friend Ric has stated on more than one occasion: “Gravity sucks!” For almost 20 years now I have a bad knee that occasionally wakes me up at night and sometimes starts hurting just for fun during the day. I suspect I will never be pain free again, as it may very well worsen over time. A visit to the dentist becomes an investment decision with longevity versus expense on the cross roads of the graph. While I can, and likely will, continue to exercise and moderate my behavior in an attempt to delay the inevitable, I must accept that going forward there will be a lot more medical interventions required to keep my wheels turning. And since I abhor this nation’s healthcare system and its pricy options, I will try to force my mind to teach my body to live on healthful diets and affordable options, rather than opt for operations and meds, unless absolutely inevitable.

Yet I know that the potential for a catastrophic health event rises exponentially. Cancer, heart attack, strokes, and more are all far more likely to strike and—there’s no denying it—do so at any moment.

Ye Olde Sex Drive will likely diminish. Not just mine, but inevitably also that of my wife. Too bad, I rather enjoy sex, always have. Maybe that Big Pharma can prop us up for a while, but I always remember Blues Traveler front man John Popper who sings: There is a price to pay.
I could go on, and maybe at some length, about the negative aspects of aging, but I prefer to go back to the sunny side of the street by saying,

What’s good about getting old?

The most liberating experience of getting older is understanding the tremendous pleasure caused by learning to say NO. It is directly related to the “I don’t really give a damn” factor. The older you get, the less of a damn you hypothetically should give about things. Though, having said that, most of the old people I know seem to give more of a damn than I already do, about how people view them, their opinions, and so forth.

If you have saved over a lifetime, ideally you have accumulated sufficient funds to cut back on the workload. If not, then the potential exists for a long and rather tiresome existence trying to make ends meet through menial jobs. A bit stupid in my opinion, because society in its struggle forward should at least consider the value of experience that it brings with it.

You have kids and maybe grandkids to periodically keep you company. While this can certainly be a big positive, for a number of people I know it’s a big negative as the kids never quite grow up and set off on their own pins, turn into failures and drug addicts, etc. But I’m trying to walk on the sunny side here, so I will assume the kids and grandkids grow up to be fully operational units, a sheer joy to be around at the holidays.

You can see the end of the road. I suppose that at some point, primarily due to the health issues, seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and realizing that this time it’s actually a train headed at you and there’s no way to avoid it, might give one a certain peace of mind. Maybe.

Provided you can actually ease into something that looks like the retirement of yore, you have time to work on your hobbies and pleasures such as your golf game, travel, hook fish, take photos of birds, or whatever other passions have captured your interest.

Okay, so on the surface there aren’t a lot of positives. But really if you scratch that surface a little you may identify strategies to enjoy a life worth living. And that means identifying those things that you can do as you age that make you feel good, and do as many of those things as you can, as regularly as you can. And, of course, trying to avoid those things with the potential to darken the skies on any given day.

Some ideas…

Exercise. Even though there are days when the thought of exercise is not welcome, there is no denying that it makes me feel energized. Unfortunately, my favorite exercises used to involve the aforementioned knee in some important capacity. Running on the beach is out of the question but as I continue to explore alternatives, swimming, bicycling and walking give me a lot of ply room. Fortunately for me, the Atlantic Rec Center pool, Club 14 gym and the local YMCA are at easy bicycle distance to keep somewhat in shape.

Get Massages. I do enjoy them, and again, exchanging services (I love bartering without the tax-man’s interference), my twice monthly intimate meetings with the hands and feet of Michael and Nancy are a blessing that keep this body going.

Drink wine. These days, between the occasional glass over a leisurely lunch and a glass or two in the evening, I enjoy good wines to the tune of about a couple of glasses a night. While there are times that we overindulge, on the whole wine drinking is a net positive. Medically and socially. And besides, the fickle finger of fate can strike at any moment, so it’s important to enjoy life while you can.

Be attentive on the home front. Nothing derails the living of a good life faster and to such a degree as discord on the home front. Fortunately, I have a great wife and family… but one shouldn’t take such things for granted. I love the kids and grand kids. For the most part they are magnificent company and when the noise gets to be overwhelming, they go home to live their own lives.

Music. I really do enjoy listening to and making music. I have done it since I was 12 years old. Was pretty good at one time, got interrupted by life and corporate commitments, but found my way back to it in the last decade and with my buddies Kim, Ronnie, Loren and Philippe have a great time in Island Vibe, while it also gets me off my hind pockets and keeps my mind sharp while memorizing lyrics. Should I play on a float in the upcoming Pirate’s Parade? He or she who says I should’t at almost 64, can refer back to the paragraph above about “not giving a damn about your opinion”.

Stay positively engaged in the community. Note the word “positively.” If I assume only the best of intentions on the part of people and always work towards a positive outcome, then I will have done all I can to foster the sort of positive environment I want to live in. A good way to think about it is that when I head down to town or a club meeting, I never want to dread seeing someone there. It’s easily done, provided you keep a positive attitude. In fact, keeping a positive attitude about most things seems a key to a happy life.

Keep mentally active. Specifically, by studying something every day and by doing things like reading, writing and researching opinions and facts that challenge the mind. I do a lot of brain calisthenics every day.

Don’t overly sweat the medical stuff. As much as I used to resist taking blood pressure meds, I don’t anymore. I lost my younger brother Thom at an early age of 51, most probably because he was too stubborn to give his blood pressure a break with pills. So I go in for a full check-up every year and pay attention to the doctor’s advice. But I don’t get swept up in worry as the body parts start to wear down. And in a glimmer of hope from the good-news front, medical technology is speeding towards a bright future… I may, just may, have been born in time to benefit fully from it.

It’s not my cup-a-tea but if you like to know a bit more about your medical future you may consider a complete genetic screening. If there is a high likelihood of developing a dread disease such as Alzheimer’s, you may want to know about it well ahead of time. While some, like me, take the opposite view that such knowledge would act as a sea anchor on the enjoyment of life, you may want to know in order to be able to make appropriate preparations.
For those of you interested, the service is called 23andMe and costs only $99.

Watch the money. As money has never been much of a motivating factor in my life, I tend to be a bit cavalier about the stuff. As my prime earning years may soon come to an end, and because lightning can strike at any moment, I need to spend time every week making sure that we have money in different pockets, in different jurisdictions, and that it is invested with a specific goal in mind. Ending up broke in my ‘golden’ years would be a true disaster. To be truthful, I support the talent and work attitude of a couple of people about 20 years my junior, with promise, experience and energy to carry me forward as they build their lives of prosperity. Kind of a private social security plan.

And that’s about it. Viewed in the context above, the prospect of the next ten years or so isn’t so bad. In fact, if I pay just a little attention—versus, say, completely letting myself go—the next ten years could actually be great.

And so, with that out of the way, I will move forward into the future and announce a complete overhaul my partner Judie and I have orchestrated for SEARCHAMELIA.COM, which next month celebrates its 6th birthday. More about that tomorrow.

Russell Colburn to Emcee 2014 Miss Shrimp Festival Pageant


miss-shrimp-fest-gals-2014The 2014 Miss Shrimp Festival Scholarship Pageant, sponsored by The Hampton Inn and Suites Harbor Front Hotel on Amelia Island, master of ceremonies will be Action News Reporter Russell Colburn.

Colburn joined the Action News team in February 2014 after spending three years working as a weekend sports anchor and reporter in Mobile, Alabama for WALA, the FOX affiliate. Colburn’s Jacksonville career will give him the opportunity to see what the east coast beaches of Florida have to offer, since he graduated from the University of Central Florida and grew up in Destin.

Russell Colburn to Emcee 2014 Miss Shrimp Festival Pageant“The pageant will have 19 Nassau County juniors and seniors, ranging in age from 16 to 18, said Pageant Coordinator Crystal Molchan.”

The young ladies will be competing on the Riverfront Stage at 7:00 PM for the Miss Shrimp Festival 2014 title and a $1,000.00 scholarship on Friday, May 2, 2014 at the 51st Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival.

This is Crystal’s first year coordinating the pageant for the Shrimp Festival. Molchan, a local actress, pirate, costumer and hair dresser, participated in the Miss Teenage America Pageant as one of 60 semi-finalists, and she was first runner up in the Miss Continent Pageant. Playing an extra in local films such as Preserve, Eye of the Hurricane, and the Diary of Preston Plummer, featuring Trevor Morgan and Rumor Willis.

Mrs. Molchan has a consummate flair for theatrics and will undoubtedly do a fantastic job organizing the pageant.

Choreographer Kristin Conner will have the girls kicking up their high-heels, wearing glamorous evening gowns to an entertaining number loaded with smiles and pivot turns.

Kristin began studying dance under her grandmother, Joan Bean, at the age of three at Fernandina’s Bean School of Dance. She continued her education in dance at Florida State College Jacksonville and was invited to dance with the Ka’mia Contemporary Dance Theater in 2009.

This year’s Miss Shrimp Festival Scholarship Pageant is sure to be a hit with this talented trio at the helm.

The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival is a FREE, three-day event held May 2 – 4, 2014 in historic, downtown Fernandina Beach.

The festivities kick off with the pre-festival Pirate Parade at 6:00 PM on Thursday, May 1, 2014.

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