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Help Determine The Happiest Seaside Town in America

strong>New York, NY – Time Inc.’s (NYSE: TIME) Coastal Living, the leading authority on coastal home and travel, today announces its sixth annual top 10 list of America’s Happiest Seaside Towns. The 2017 list of the happiest places to live by the sea is live on http://www.coastalliving.com/travel/happiest-seaside-town. The unranked list includes top beach destinations across the United States, from Washington to Maine and from Michigan to Florida.

Coastal Living America’s Happiest Seaside Towns 2017 (in alphabetical order):
·Camden, Maine
·Cape May, New Jersey
·Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
·Dana Point, California
·Fernandina Beach, Florida
·Grand Haven, Michigan
·Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
·Langley, Washington
·Orleans, Massachusetts
·Sarasota, Florida

Through midnight PST on October 17, 2016, people can vote for their favorite towns to determine which will be named the Coastal Living No. 1 Happiest Seaside Town in America 2017. Follow the conversation and spread the word on social media with #CLHappyTown and vote online at http://www.coastalliving.com/travel/happiest-seaside-town. Coastal Living will reveal the No. 1 Happiest Seaside Town 2017 via social media and online at www.coastalliving.com on January 11, 2017, and the winning town will be featured in the May 2017 20th Anniversary issue of Coastal Living.

“After getting to know the small-town charms of these communities, we are beyond thrilled to see which place wins the top spot to live by the sea,” said Coastal Living Editor in Chief Steele Marcoux. “From the shopping and dining paradise of Carmel, California, to the historic resort town of Cape May, New Jersey, all 10 of these towns truly embody a special magic.”

To choose the 2017 finalists for America’s Happiest Seaside Towns, Coastal Living editors begin by reviewing destinations that have been covered by the magazine and nominated via social media. Coastal Living then collects each town’s rank on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, percentage of sunny days, air quality, healthiness of beaches, commute times, crime ratings, walkability, standard of living and financial well-being of the locals, geographic diversity and Coastal Living editors’ assessment of each town’s “coastal vibe.” A proprietary formula yields the Coastal Living Top 10 America’s Happiest Seaside Towns list of finalists. The ranking is then determined by online voting from September 26 to October 17.

After the Storm Reminders and Helpful Links

I’m hoping everyone weathered Hurricane Hermine’s wrath safely, but it has been over ten years since Florida has been hit with a land-falling hurricane.

If you need any reminders for what to do after a storm has passed, hopefully you will find these tips and links helpful:

After the Storm
-Do not operate any appliances that you suspect have been flooded or damaged
-Do not do any digging (to remove fallen trees) without locating utility lines (Dial 811)
-Watch for exposed nails and broken glass
-Stay away from downed power lines
-Do not wade through standing water – there could be diseases or creatures in there
-If your power is out for an extended amount of time, food in your fridge and freezers should be cooked or thrown away

For more information please visit:

Road closures:
Florida 511
Florida Highway Patrol

Florida’s Governor Rick Scott has asked us to get rid of all of the standing water once it is safe to do so after the hurricane passes.

Tropical Depression NINE 2016… or Something Stronger

While it may seem calm outside right now, and Nassau County’s Emergency Operations Center facebook page says it will activate to a Level 2 (indicating a threat is looming) at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, you need to pay attention to the television and radio for the newest updates on Tropical Depression NINE. Knowing when the National Hurricane Center delivers updates will keep you from wasting hours of precious time in anticipation of the newest news as the system approaches the Florida peninsula. Official updates including the progress and potential track of the storm, watches and/or warnings that may be issued, and the associated maps and graphics are updated every six hours… think 5:00 and 11 o’clock (a.m. and p.m.). In addition, interim updates come out at 2:00 and 8 o’clock. Times are set to the time zone of the center of the tropical disturbance (I think).

It has been quite some time since our last big tropical event, so we may be a bit complacent and lackadaisical while the local media focuses on the pending system. At the time I wrote this, there were no current warnings or watches up for northeast Florida, but, they will likely be issued should the system remain on the current track.

Just to be safe, this may be a good time to open the hurricane kit you have stored in the garage and see what’s in there. Is it possible that some of your emergency supplies may be expired, or were used on your most recent camping trip? I suggest you go ahead and stock up on water, baby food, diapers, and formula, medications and personal sanitary supplies, pet food, extra batteries, and non-perishable foods that will last for three to five days should we experience an extended power outage, or flooded or blocked roads. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit, too.

It is a good idea to have a similar kit packed in your car in case you need to leave in a hurry. Don’t forget food, water, jumper cables, and a map – as signs often blow down. The GPS on your smartphone phone may finally come in handy! This may be a good time to charge those portable cell phone chargers that have been laying around the house since last Christmas, as well.

Make an emergency plan for communicating with friends, relatives, and loved ones. We use someone, not in our geographical location, as a central source for communicating with others. A large portion of our family is located in various parts of Florida, but our oldest daughter is in Chattanooga; she will be our central point of communications.

As the system approaches, it is looking like we may indeed experience sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph as it passes through Northeast Florida. Flooding and flash flooding could be an issue as the depression is expected to produce 4 to 6 inches of rain over Amelia Island by Friday morning, and up to 12 inches in some areas.

If you live in an area prone to flooding, make preparations now such as filling sandbags or moving furniture, vehicles and other valuables to higher ground. You should go ahead and secure items around your home so they don’t become projectiles in the event of high winds. Items to put away or tie down include:

Yard signs (We just had “election day”)
Lawn furniture
Children’s toys
Tiki torches
Pool toys
Plants stands and shepherd hooks
Trash cans
Yard art and Landscaping “features”

Watches and Warning
A Watch = conditions are favorable for a weather event to occur.
A Warning = Weather events have been reported by spotters.

A severe thunderstorm watch would mean conditions are favorable for a severe thunderstorm to occur.
A severe thunderstorm warning means severe thunderstorms are occurring in the designated “warning” area.

The same with a tornado watch vs. a tornado warning. A tornado “watch” means conditions are ripe for a tornado to occur, while a tornado “warning” means a tornado has been spotted in the designated warning area. Tornadoes are very likely when these tropical systems pass over land.

Power outages and wind
Usually our electricity begins to fail when power lines are knocked down by flying debris and falling limbs. With gusts of 20 to 30 mph you can expect dead limbs to fall from trees. With winds of 30 to 40 mph, large trees begin to sway and walking can be tough; lawn furniture will blow around and trash cans will tumble over. At 41 to 50 mph, branches will break off of trees, you may see shingles blow off, and eaves can lift, too. NOAA.gov describes “Damaging winds are classified as those exceeding 50 – 60 mph” and along with 60 mph winds you can expect windows to blow out and parts of your roof to fly off, and at 75 mph – structures can become compromised and debris being blown around becomes hazardous to people, and everything else in its path. And winds can become stronger if they are funneled between tight areas – such as houses that are built very close together.

Unlike a typical 30 minute summer thunderstorm, where we see strong winds and torrential rains, these tropical conditions can last for several hours.

I’m currently trying to find an “accurate” answer to when the bridges to Amelia Island are closed due to high winds.

Updates to this article may be added as warranted.

Stay safe!

When will we see Warning Labels on Processed Meats?

When I was diagnosed with colon cancer less than a year ago, I thought it would be a good idea to immediately stop eating processed meats. As a kid who grew up on bologna sandwiches, Vienna sausages, and summer sausage, it was much easier to give up than I thought. A few years ago, we gave up fast foods, TV dinners, and most canned vegetables in an attempt to lose weight and eat healthy. When I began managing the local farmers market in September 2012, eating fresh, local and seasonal produce became second nature. Apparently, our changes in diet didn’t come soon enough for me.

Processed meat
In October 2015, the month after my diagnosis, the media reported that processed meat was classified as Group 1, carcinogenic to humans. Tobacco smoking and asbestos are also placed in this same class. Group 1 classification means there is sufficient and convincing evidence that the agent causes cancer.

So, why is there not a warning label on our lunch meat, hot dogs, canned meats, corned beef, and ham? Other meats are included, too, such as meats that have been transformed through processing ie: curing, salting, fermentation, smoking etc… they are all considered “processed meat”.

Red meat
Red meat is now classified as Group 2A – this means it is probably carcinogenic to humans. Health officials have long been telling the public to reduce their red meat consumption for a variety of health concerns, but now they suspect that red meat probably causes cancer, too?

If the World Health Organization says red meat probably causes cancer, and processed meats do cause cancer, I think there should be a warning label on these packages just like we see on cigarettes.

What if we just cook the Hell out of our meats, will that make it okay to eat? Nope – in fact, if you expose your meats to flame and high temperatures, it may even increase the risk – but the factual evidence leaves the experts with mixed opinions on that topic.

At the risk of repeating myself, please let me be perfectly clear, the World Health Organization says that epidemiological studies have shown eating processed meat causes colorectal cancer in humans. Period! Yet, they hesitate to make new recommendations regarding nutritional guidelines. The current recommendation is to moderate consumption of processed meats mostly to reduce the intake of fat and sodium, which are risk factors for obesity and cardiovascular disease. New guidelines aren’t expected until 2021!

Your risk of getting colorectal cancer increases with the amount of processed meats you consume. “An analysis of data from 10 studies estimated that every 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by about 18%.”

Well, how much is a serving compared to a 50 gram portion? A serving size of beef, considered to be 2 to 3 ounces of cooked, lean meat, by the American Heart Association, equals 75 grams, which is more than the 50 gram portion described above… not good news, huh?

In a January 2016 interview, Syndicated Columnist and Investigative Reporter Amy Goodman (host of Democracy Now!) reported, “Dr. Richard Wender, chief cancer control officer of the American Cancer Society, recently commented ‘The science on the link between cancer and diet is extensive. By omitting specific diet recommendations, such as eating less red and processed meat, these guidelines miss a critical and significant opportunity to reduce suffering and death from cancer.'”

Personally, I want anyone who reads this to know, I had colon cancer, and I remember very specifically saying, “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.” It was a horrible experience!

Some are even blaming the Obama administration for keeping this issue out of the spotlight. While many of the lobby donations to candidates have been to republicans, the highest presidential recipient, from meat processing and products donations, has been to Hillary Clinton.

Should you stop eating processed meats? Red meats? That is your decision, but I won’t wait for the government to publish new nutritional guidelines before I choose what to feed to my family.

Voting, Politicians, and the Salaries they Get Paid

Voting, Politicians, and the Salaries they Get PaidYou know it is election time because everywhere you look it is shoved in your face. From yard signs and bumper stickers, to billboards and television commercials, you just can’t escape the “noise”.

I vote, I have always voted, and God willing, I will always be capable of voting – it is my right and I choose to believe my vote counts!

Sorting out the options to select a candidate takes a little research on my part. I want to be confident that I’m selecting the names that best reflect my views. When I choose a candidate, I hope to select a leader – not someone who hops on this bandwagon, or that bandwagon, I am voting for “leaders” to help “lead” MY country in the best direction.

I will be voting in person, at my precinct, on August 30th, so I don’t have a lot of time to finish making my decisions.

Typically, I do not vote for the professional politicians. If you live the lifestyle of a politician for too long, how can you still relate to the “common” folk?

According to a document found on senate.gov, “The most recent pay adjustment for Members of Congress was in January 2009. Since then, the compensation for most Senators, Representatives, Delegates, and the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico has been $174,000.” The salary for a few others, Speaker of the House and House Leaders, for example, is higher. Representatives also receive a Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA) to support their official duties such as $944,671 for personnel, a variable amount of official office expenses, and official mail. “The 2014 allowances ranged from $1,195,554 to $1,370,009, with an average MRA of $1,255,909.” The same document stated.

When we vote, we often times are electing someone to receive one hell of a paycheck!

Local level politicians are paid using a state mandated formula, based on the relevant population of their district, to calculate salaries. Florida’s elected officials and full-time members of commissions have set salaries ranging from $45,000 for Public Employees Relations Commission Commissioners, to $130,000 for the Governor.

Take a look at this chart… (click on the image to enlarge it) no wonder we have professional politicians! (Some salary figures may not reflect any special qualification salary available or performance salary incentives. That research is above MY pay-grade.)


Click the image to enlarge

When I am selecting candidates to vote for on a local level, I find it amusing to look at the relationships between the politicians; past, present and potentially future. Some connections are obvious like Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper and his brother Danny Leeper who is running for County Commission. Others, are not so obvious, but maybe I’ll save that for another article.

Please vote on August 30, 2016, but take the time to learn about each candidate before you cast your ballot; I know I will!

FSCJ Announces New Officers for the District Board of Trustees for 2016-17

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) Board of Trustees elected new officers at the August 2016 Board meeting for the 2016-17 year.

“FSCJ is extremely fortunate to have such passionate and dedicated individuals on our Board who devote their time and expertise to help serve the College,” said FSCJ President Dr. Cynthia Bioteau. “Ensuring our students receive the highest-quality education is imperative, and through their guidance and leadership, we are able to collectively collaborate to achieve this.”

Randle Shoemaker, J.D., was elected to serve as Board chair. Ms. Shoemaker was appointed to the Board in December 2012 and has previously served as the vice chair for Duval County and as a committee member for the Board’s Finance & Audit committee. Ms. Shoemaker is currently employed as a senior vice president at Fidelity National Title Group.

Thomas McGehee Jr. was elected as vice chair for Duval County. Mr. McGehee was originally appointed to the District Board of Trustees in 1999 and has held several positions during his time on the Board, including Board chair, Board liaison to the Foundation Board and member of the Board Finance and Audit committee. Mr. McGehee is executive vice president of Mac Papers, Inc., a family-owned paper distribution company.

Jimmie Mayo was elected as vice chair for Nassau County. Mr. Mayo was appointed to the Board of Trustees in 2013 and has since served as chair twice. Mr. Mayo is retired from Baptist Medical Center-Nassau where he served as administrator and president.

Also serving on the Board and representing Duval County are Karen Bowling, Latasha Fullwood, J.D., and Thomas Majdanics. Representing Nassau County along with Mayo are Candace Holloway and Dr. Patricia White.

Learn More About Candidate Jonathan Petree

Learn More About Candidate Jonathan PetreeJonathan Petree, who is running for the Nassau County School Board from District 5, is in a tightly contested race and needs your vote. His election is an open election meaning that all registered Republicans/Democrats/Independents can vote for him.

Jonathan is the owner of Atlantic Warriors, a martial arts company in Jacksonville. Over the years he has come to Amelia Island and given classes to women only for self-defense. He is truly dedicated to doing the best possible job in this position, and with four children will be involved in our school system, for many years to come.

Jonathan, who comes from a family of educators, is a Nassau County native and married to Jessica Petree. He is focused on college readiness, supports vocational education, and believes in parents rights.

Early voting in Nassau County for Florida’s August 30 primary will be 10 am to 6 pm August 19-27. Registered voters may vote at any of four sites: Callahan County Building, 45401 Mickler St.; Hilliard Community Center, 37177 Pecan St.; James S. Page Governmental Complex, 96135 Nassau Place, Yulee; and MLK/Elm Street Recreation Center, 1200 Elm St., Fernandina Beach.


An Earworm is a Song That Gets Stuck in Your Head

Have you ever found yourself with a song “stuck in your head”. No matter what you try, you just can’t seem to shake it! This catchy little ditty is often called an earworm.

Often it is created from a song you just heard. Perhaps you were driving to the grocery store, and once inside, you find yourself pushing the shopping cart to Everybody Have Fun Tonight, by Wang Chung. What can be worse than that? A song you like even less such as the Silver Convention’s West German Euro disco hit with likely the most agonizing lyrics in the history of music… maybe even all time – the song: Fly Robin Fly.

According to folks who research this, nearly 98% of people have had this happen. Popular earworms according to Professor James J. Kellaris, PhD, of the University of Cincinnati, include Chili’s Baby Back Ribs jingle, and the Baha Men song Who Let the Dogs Out. Kelleris said songs with lyrics come in first as being stuck, then commercial jingles, and finally instrumental pieces, or tunes without words.

Here is a top-ten list of earworms from his studies:
1. Other. Everyone has his or her own worst earworm.
2. Chili’s “Baby Back Ribs” jingle.
3. “Who Let the Dogs Out”
4. “We Will Rock You”
5. Kit-Kat candy-bar jingle (“Gimme a Break …”)
6. “Mission Impossible” theme
7. “YMCA”
8. “Whoomp, There It Is”
9. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”
10. “It’s a Small World After All”

Also, he found, earworms irrated women more significantly than men, and episodes were for frequent and lasted long for musicians and music lovers. (“Slightly neurotic people also seemed to suffer more.”)

I get them all of the time! Let’s go with the reason is because I love music, though some may describe me as slightly neurotic – especially do to my life’s recent events.

While there is no known cure for this burrowing menace, many people try to finish the song in an attempt to get rid of it. My daughter can not remember the lyrics past the part that gets stuck in her head. I simply turn on the radio and find a better song when the earworms irritate me.