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2015 Salt Cooking School

2015 Salt Cooking SchoolThe Salt Cooking School is returning to the Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island, for 2015. Class will be held on Mondays, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

Chefs welcome students with a tour of the kitchens, mimosas, breakfast treats, and a Salt apron. Then students will learn techniques, cook and dine with the chefs and they receive a class photo.

March 23 – Asian Food Truck Fare: Prepare Asian Street Food with a modern approach
June 15 – Italian Favorites: Learn the art of making sauces, handmade pastas and fish fabrication
September 14 – Classic German Cuisine: Braising, soups, dumplings and meat selections
November 2 – Holiday Classics: Learn new techniques with some surprises

Tuition is only $250 per person and reservations are required. (This is a great gift idea, especially for birthdays, Mother’s or Father’s Day)

For information and reservations please call Leisure Reservations at (904) 277-1087.

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Enhance Your Backyard With a New Deck or Patio

Enhance Your Backyard With a New Deck or PatioMany homeowners have the desire to improve their home so that they can enjoy spending time more comfortably in their backyard. In many homes, the property was constructed originally with a basic concrete patio slab that is rather small in size and nondescript. While this area may provide you with a space to put a few lawn chairs, it may not give you the full outdoor living experience that you are dreaming about for your home. Because of this, you may be dreaming about adding a new deck or an upgraded patio to your backyard. As you make your decision about which option to consider installing, there are a few points to keep in mind.

The Different Features You Can Add to Your Outdoor Living Area
Both decks and patios can be as gorgeous and elaborate as you would like. However, if you plan to add special features to your outdoor living area, you may determine that one is more feasible than another. For example, if you want to install an outdoor kitchen, you may enjoy a concrete or paved area more fully. This is because a masonry surface may be resistant to fire and may be more durable to holding and using items like a large grill, an outdoor refrigerator or other items. If you plan to include these on your patio, consider if they are covered under your home protection plan before you install them.

The Elevation of Your Yard
Both concrete patios and wood or synthetic materials can be used for decks, but it can be more expensive to pour concrete. More than that, if you have a steep grade to your yard, your cost for a concrete patio may be even more significant due to the increased amount of concrete that will be required. If you have a level surface to work with, you may consider either option. However, a more affordable option for a basic patio or deck on a level surface will be a wood deck.

The Maintenance Factor
When you invest in a new deck or patio, you may want to have ample time to relax and enjoy it, and you may not want to spend all of your time maintaining and repairing it. The type of material that you choose to use for a deck or patio will play a key role in your repair and maintenance efforts and cost over the years. A wood deck may require the most upkeep, and it may need to be stained every year in order to keep it looking great and preventing it from splintering due to exposure to the elements. A vinyl or synthetic wood material may be a better option if you prefer the look of wood. With vinyl, concrete and stone materials used for a deck or patio, you can essentially expect the majority of the maintenance work to include power washing the surface from time to time.

The Style
A final point to consider as you determine whether to construct a deck or patio for your home is the style. Decks and patios both can be rather basic or elaborate. Both use natural materials or materials that mimic natural materials. However, with concrete, you may be able use decorative concrete, staining and other techniques to have greater flexibility with the final look.

While it may seem like a difficult decision on the surface, your decision about whether to install a deck or patio may be easier than you might think. After you have reviewed and considered these points, you may be able to make a better decision about your outdoor living project.

AUTHOR BIO: David Glenn is a home improvement expert. He occasionally freelance writes about real estate tips, home maintenance and DIY home repair.

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2015 Pirate Parade Features Shrimp, Pirates and Fun for All

2015 Pirate Parade Features Shrimp, Pirates and Fun for AllApplications are now being accepted for the Pirate Parade to be held on April 30, 2015, as a kick-off to the 52nd Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival. This year’s Grand Marshall of the Parade is Rosa Adams, one of the original founders of the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival.

Your 2015 Parade Theme is: “Shrimp, Pirates and Fun for All.”

Sponsored by the Marriott Residence Inn on Amelia Island, your business or organization can be a part of the Pirate Parade, too, simply fill out a Parade Application by April 23rd, a Participation Agreement and pay your entry fee. Parade entry fees range from $35.00 for a non-profit organization, to a fee of $85.00 for political candidates.

Parade entries will be judged in the following categories:
-Commercial or commercially sponsored non-profit
-Non-profit or civic organization
-Walking group
-Band or performing group

A bonus award will also be given to the entry with the Best Special Effects. Winners will be contacted following the parade so a representative can be at the Main Stage of the Shrimp Festival to receive their award during the presentation on Friday evening.

The Opening Ceremony for the Shrimp Festival is Friday, May 1st, at 6:30 p.m., followed by the Miss Shrimp Festival Scholarship Pageant at 7:00 p.m. Many waterfront booths, the Kids Zone and the waterfront food booths open at 4:00 p.m. on Friday. Saturday May 2nd, the festival gets bigger with nearly 400 arts and crafts vendors joining the fun from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sunday, May 3, 2015, the festival is open from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival is consistently rated by “Sunshine Artist Magazine” in the top 100 North America best events. The street festival features fine arts and crafts, antiques, live entertainment, Blessing of the shrimp boat fleet, pirate invasions, family friendly contests, a Kids Fun Zone and of course, lots and lots of shrimp! Best of all… admission to the festival is FREE!

The deadline to enter the Pirate Parade is April 23, 2015. For more information please visit www.ShrimpFestival.com.

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2015 Amelia Island Blues Festival Re-Scheduled

blues logoThe latest news from the Amelia Island Blues Festival is that the Board is looking to re-schedule the event to the Spring of 2016. Major reason for this move is the recurring weather problems the festival experiences during the September month. Since the inauguration of the Festival in 2011, inclement weather has created major obstacles concerning stage construction, talent line up risks and ticket holder no-shows.

Other dates for 2015 have been carefully considered but were ultimately decided against because of other events in the same time slots.
Alternatively, the Blues Festival Committee, in association with RockTenn and the newly formed Northeast Florida Blues Society, decided to provide Headline Sponsor funding for the performance of the Edgar Winter Band during the 52nd Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival on Saturday May 2nd.

Also on a side note, Blues Festival President Jeff Malone is spreading his blues wings, not only as co-producer of the Ghost of the Blues Broadway Review with an upcoming show at the Florida Theatre but also by founding the Northeast Florida Blues Society, which also functions as a sponsor of the “Ghost of the Blues”.

Following press release describes the interesting concept of this show.

Ghost of the BluesGhost of the Blues at the Florida Theatre

“From Beale Street to Broadway, the Revival of the Blues”. That’s what Producer Randy Knight along with Co-Producer Jeff Malone, President of the Amelia Island Blues Festival and the Northeast Florida Blues Society have cookin’ on their “Ghost of he Blues” production, traveling nationwide with the next event at the Jacksonville Florida Theatre on Friday, May 8th, 2015 at 8:00 pm. Ghost of the Blues is a musical revue featuring professional touring musicians paying homage to blues legends that have passed on to Blues Heaven. “It’s all about celebrating the musical legacy of the Blues Pioneers that brought us the roots of American music today” adds Malone.

Act I takes place in a graveyard not far from where Robert Johnson made his deal with the devil in order to become the greatest bluesman ever. See Robert Johnson, and then progress through Blues history with John Lee Hooker and Etta James belting out the boogie and the hits that morphed the Blues into Rock n’ Roll.

Act II changes the stage into a juke joint where Willie Dixon, Little Walter, Albert King, Koko Taylor and more entertain you with a spontaneous explosion of the Blues like you would see ” back in the day” when American Blues ruled the world!

The outstanding cast is what makes the show. Starring Biscuit Miller as Willie Dixon, James Armstrong as John Lee Hooker, Stacy Brooks as Etta James, Bobby Wilson as Robert Johnson, Mud Morganfield as his dad Muddy Waters and more…

Come see and hear what it was like at an authentic blues revival, brothers and sisters of the Blues, when “Ghost of the Blues” comes to the Jacksonville Florida Theatre on Friday, May 8th, 2015. Our only appearance in Florida this season!

For tickets… http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/22004D73C196729F or call the box office@ 904.355.2787, www.floridatheatre.com

Monthly Acoustic Sessions now at Fernandina Little Theatre

Monthly Acoustic Sessions now at Fernandina Little TheatreFernandina Little Theatre is presenting a new program, Acoustic Sessions for Aspiring Musicians!

Beginning March 2, 2015, the Fernandina Little Theatre is expanding programming to include a regular musical event. This new idea is simple: bringing together artists who usually do not get to play together, and who wish to create, cover, and share music with each other and with a small crowd in an intimate setting. Styles will vary, going from blues to folk, and everything the musicians wish to play together for that unique occasion. Each month the lineup of musicians will change, with each artist bringing his/her own unique style of playing to the session.

Acoustic Sessions is the brainchild of local musician Tom Leon. Born in Caen (Normandy) France, the soundtrack of Tom’s childhood was composed of great music ranging from Beethoven to Elvis Presley and everything in between. “If there were actual instruments in it, it was played through my dad’s stereo”. Tom played clubs all over the French western country side, until he met world recording Blues artist Josh Miller. The two got along so well that Josh invited him to come to Florida for a short trip, and there Tom was introduced to artists who made him feel right at home. Soon the young Frenchman had decided to pack his suitcase and move to Florida to pursue his dream, and play the only music he then wanted to play: the Blues!

For the first chapter of this monthly event, on Monday March 2nd at 7:30 pm, a lifelong passion for the blues will bring together three musicians: local guitarist and singer Tom Leon will share the stage with great friends and talented artists Jeff Malone, also from Fernandina Beach (percussion), and Rick Anthony from Chesapeake VA (Vocals and Guitar).

Tickets for the Acoustic Sessions are only $5.00, and can be purchased in advance at The UPS Store on Amelia Island.

Fernandina Little Theatre is a small, intimate space, and patrons are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance to guarantee seating availability.

For more info on FLT happenings and events, check the website at ameliaflt.org.

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Fernandina Beach Homicide Case solved after Exhumation

Fernandina Beach Homicide Case solved after ExhumationSubmitted by Fernandina Beach Police Chief James Hurley

For the past three years the Fernandina Beach Police Department has been actively working an open unsolved homicide case from 1987 and recently learned that the primary suspect, James Lee Hall, Jr., has been positively connected to the heinous crime through DNA identification.

The news came after an arduous process of evidence retrieval which involved uncooperative family members, legal reviews, search warrants, military process, and exhumation orders issued to authorities in Colorado to remove Hall’s body from a military cemetery for the collection of specific tissue containing DNA samples for comparison to that collected at the murder scene almost twenty-eight years ago. Hall left Amelia Island a short time after the murder of Janet Marie Robinson and died of natural causes in 2000.

Janet Robinson, formerly Simmons, 56 years of age, was brutally assaulted and murdered in her home at 722 South 10th Street, Fernandina Beach, on May 15, 1987. Jimmy Hall was an early suspect after being observed running from the scene, and he also had a history of similar assaults of older women in the neighborhood. Remarkably, Hall was dismissed by investigators after another man, Robert Way, insinuated he and another into the investigation by claiming responsibility. Both men were arrested for the murder, and then later released when an alibi emerged for the second man and Way then failed a polygraph examination, before recanting the confession altogether.

The case remained unsolved for many years. It was reopened three years ago and initial steps were taken to further the investigation. Department members always felt that this case “fell through the cracks,” and after Captain Jim Coe retired in 2011 it appeared that the case may end up back in a drawer. However, Coe agreed to come back to work as a part-time investigator, to review new cases, mentor young detectives, and most importantly, to renew focus on the Robinson homicide for the very same reason as fictional Homicide Detective Harry Bosch. Michael Connelly’s famous character is colorblind, often stating that in the pursuit of justice “everybody counts or nobody counts.” In fact, every dedicated police officer burns with a desire to see that nobody gets away with serious crime, especially murder, and Jim Coe always knew that modern technology and forensic science might one day afford us the opportunity to see justice served for the Robinson family. To close this case during Black History Month is also gratifying, considering the historical connections to the old Peck High School, and more significantly, to Robinson’s first husband, Jeremiah Mattox.

Janet Marie SimmonsPictured: Janet Marie Simmons
Peck High School Class of 1949
“Most Popular”

Janet Simmons was one of the first students at the new Peck School in 1936, and was one of only a few students to spend her entire time there, graduating in 1949, which was the last graduating class at Peck High School. Her high school yearbook suggested that she was an accomplished singer and that she intended to pursue a career in Gospel music. She was voted “Most Popular” by her classmates, which include former Fernandina Beach Mayor Charles Albert.

She met Jeremiah “Jerry” Mattox and the two were married in 1950 at the First Missionary Baptist Church in Fernandina Beach. Mattox resided at 717 South 10th Street, which is directly across the street from where Janet was killed in 1987. Mattox had previously resided in St. Mary’s, Georgia, but was coaxed to Nassau County by Sheriff H. J. Youngblood in 1950 to become the first black deputy in Nassau County. Youngblood was reportedly looking for a “Jackie Robinson type” to patrol American Beach after a white deputy was attacked and severely injured at that location by two black men.

On March 13, 1954 Deputy Jerry Mattox responded to a domestic violence call on 8th Street in Fernandina Beach and was shot and killed by the man he was trying to arrest, becoming the first black law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty in Nassau County. Janet and her friends were returning from the beach at that very moment and actually witnessed her husband’s death, according to reports. Janet remarried a few years later, but the marriage failed and, at some point, she moved to Cleveland, Ohio. She returned to Fernandina Beach around 1984 and worked as a cook at the Sandbar Restaurant.

jerry-mattoxPictured: Deputy Jerry Mattox is buried at Bosque Bello
(Surprisingly, no photograph has been located)

On May 15, 1987, the body of Janet Marie Robinson, 56 years of age, was found in her residence at 722 S. 10th Street, Fernandina Beach, Florida. Investigation revealed that she had been sexually assaulted and murdered. An autopsy was conducted on May 16, at 11:00 AM in Jacksonville, Florida. The Medical Examiner estimated the time of death at 24 to 36 hours from the time of autopsy and confirmed a sexual assault. The Medical Examiner identified the cause of death as asphyxia due to strangulation.

Early investigation into the homicide by Lieutenant Dana Davis of the Fernandina Beach Police Department appears to have initially identified the suspect as James Lee Hall, Jr. However, upon declaration of a purported eyewitness, Robert Jerome Way, the detectives investigating the crime abandoned Hall as the suspect and ultimately arrested Octavian Troy Brewton. Robert Way identified Brewton as the perpetrator of the murder and sexual assault and incriminated himself as the lookout. On May 27, 1987, both men were arrested and booked for the homicide.

The following day, on May 28th, Robert Way submitted to a polygraph examination administered by Woodley Polygraph Service of Jacksonville. After failing the polygraph, Way admitted to lying to the police about his statements and about his knowledge of the crime to the police. Way was adjudicated guilty of providing false information of a crime and was sentenced to six months in the Nassau County Jail. The State Attorney’s Office entered a nolle prosequi of the charges filed against Brewton, but Brewton remained in custody for a burglary that he had committed on the very night of the homicide, outside the city limits of Fernandina Beach.

The only significant physical evidence of the homicide found by law enforcement was located on the body of the victim. Biological evidence from the sexual assault kit enabled the crime lab to construct a DNA profile. The constructed DNA profile was foreign to the victim. The foreign DNA profile was determined to be consistent with originating from a male individual. Both Octavian Brewton and Robert Way were eliminated as the source of this foreign profile. The unknown subject linked to the recovered DNA has not been identified through the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

Fernandina Beach Police Department detectives investigating the crime never refocused their interest and investigation back to the original suspect, James Lee Hall, Jr. Hall appears to have left Florida to move to Colorado within months of Brewton having the charges against him dropped.

james-lee-hall-jrPictured: James Lee Hall, Jr. (1986)
Upon reopening this case, Detective Jim Coe focused on the statements and the alibi of James Lee Hall, Jr. as documented in the reports and notes of the original detectives (Davis, Carter and Thompson). Detective Coe noted significant discrepancies in Hall’s statements to the investigators with regard to: (1) when he last saw the victim, (2) when and if he was ever at her residence, and (3) his activities on the night of the homicide.

The discrepancies are illuminated by statements provided to Lieutenant Davis on May 16, 1987 at 1:15 AM and again at 5:15 PM by James Lee Hall, Jr. Lt. Davis documented in his notes his follow up of those initial statements and of the alibi witnesses provided by Hall.

Initially, Hall described the victim as a friend of his mother’s that he saw only when she visited. At first he stated he had never been to her residence. He later made a statement indicating that he had been to the victim’s residence to help her hang some blinds and to have lunch. It appears from the notes taken by Lt. Davis that the lunch he talks about took place the Tuesday before Ms. Robinson’s death. Hall said that he was supposed to build Ms. Robinson a dog house the week before, but had never gotten around to it. Hall told detectives that he saw the victim at the liquor store on Thursday, May 15th about 5:00 PM. That would have made him one of the last persons to see the victim alive, other than the liquor store clerks.

Hall told Lt. Davis that after seeing the victim at the liquor store he went home and stayed there all evening. He then added that he went to a neighbor’s house to help paint at about 6 or 7:00 PM. He did not know the neighbor’s name at first and then he identified him as “Allen.” He said he stayed at Allen’s place until about 10 or 11:00 PM. He left there and went to Miss Katy’s Place, 326 South 9th Street. Miss Katy’s at the time was a local drinking and dancing establishment. Hall said in his statement to detectives that he stayed there until about 1:00 AM (May 15th) and then went home and went to bed.

Lt. Davis interviewed Allen Melton who verified Hall came to his house to paint his kitchen. Melton said Hall left after dark, but he did not remember the exact time. Melton claims to have met up with Hall later at Star Reathea Perkins’s house. He said that he and others including Hall stayed “’til way after daylight.” When interviewed by detectives, Hall never mentioned anything about going to his friend Star’s residence.

According to Lt. Davis’s interview notes, Star Reathea Perkins confirmed that Hall came to her home that evening just before dark. Ms. Perkins said that she wanted Hall to stay with her and watch the HBO special “Hitchhiker” that came on about 11:00 PM. Perkins said that Hall told her he did not want to be walking the roads all hours of the night because the police might stop him. She said Hall left stating that he was going home. Perkins stated that she did not see Allen Melton that night.

Investigators were able to corroborate Star’s statement in reference to her recollection of the times she gave. The investigators reviewed the television guide for the evening of May 14th and found that the program “Hitchhiker” showed at 11:15 PM.

Google Maps indicates that Hall lives just a short three minute walk from Ms. Perkins and yet he does not put himself home until 1:00 AM. It should be noted that his route home would pass directly by the victim’s residence or 722 South 10th Street.

Lt. Davis contacted Anthony L. Johnson. Anthony Johnson is apparently the “Anthony” that Hall used as an alibi witness to attest to his presence at Miss Katy’s. Johnson gave a brief statement indicating that he was at Miss Katy’s about closing time when he saw Jimmy Hall (James Lee Hall, Jr.) come in. Johnson said that Hall arrived at about 1:20 AM and left about 1:40 AM to go home. Anthony Johnson does not make any reference to leaving with Hall, which again contradicts the statement Hall gave to detectives.

Another witness, Theadessa Hamilton, told Lt. Davis and Detective Carter that she was having trouble sleeping and went for a walk. Ms. Hamilton, whose address was 828 S. 11th Street, was walking on S. 11th Street in the 700 block. She told detectives that she heard a tripping noise and a dog barking coming from the area of the victim’s residence. The noise made her turn and look in that direction and she observed Jimmy (James Lee Hall, Jr.) coming from that area running across (Tyler’s) backyard. Ms. Hamilton said she asked him for a cigarette. He slowed down a bit and said he did not have one and kept going. Ms. Hamilton said she heard noises behind his house which sounded like he went in a back door. Ms. Hamilton thought the time to be about 3:00 or 4:00 AM. She said she was sure it was Hall because she has known him for 20 years. Ms. Hamilton provided a written statement describing the event.

In a follow up interview conducted by in October of 2011 with Theadessa Hamilton (now Williams) she recalled the evening that she saw Jimmy Hall (James Lee Hall, Jr.) coming from the area behind the victim’s residence. Ms. Williams said she was walking north on S. 11th Street headed back to the Island Bar. Her recollection was that Jimmy appeared to be running from something and that he was sweating profusely. Ms. Williams said that she does not remember him having a shirt on at the time. She had not mentioned Hall being shirtless in her original statement, but did say he was running and in a hurry. She indicated that her family and the Hall family had all grown up together and lived in the same area for years. Ms. Williams said that at the time she really did not think much of the encounter. It was not until after the news of the murder was on the streets that she realized the significance of having seen Hall that night. Ms. Williams said that the word on the street was that Jimmy (James Lee Hall, Jr.) was responsible for the homicide. She said that after the other two guys were arrested all that talk died down.

Through a records check Coe discovered what appears to be a pattern of criminal activity involving James Lee Hall, Jr., which was extensive and included among other crimes: trespassing, burglary, domestic battery and at least one prior sexual battery. These crimes span at least three states: Florida, Kansas and Colorado.

Several of the criminal cases which occurred in Fernandina Beach, Florida, displayed a consistent pattern. The victims were friends of his mother, Coretha Hall, with whom James Lee Hall, Jr. lived with at the time. They were older females who lived alone. The assaults or attempted assaults were in close proximity to his residence and they occurred in the late evening or early morning hours.

Ms. Corona Jones, age 65, reported James Lee Hall, Jr. in her bedroom asleep on the floor. He entered her bedroom from a window over her bed in the early morning hours.

Ms. Beatrice Davis, age 70, lives next door to her friend, Coretha Hall. She reported that James Lee Hall, Jr. came into her residence uninvited and sexually assaulted her. The assault was interrupted by family members returning to the residence. Ms. Davis confided to Coretha Hall that James had also attempted to rape her a few years earlier, but she was able to fight him off.

The sexual assault that Ms. Davis describes in her written statement provided to Fernandina Beach Police Officer Missinne on November 29, 1986, is strikingly similar to the assault on the victim of this homicide, Ms. Robinson. Ms. Robinson, according to friends and neighbors, rarely allowed anyone in her home. The entry in this case was through an unlocked back door and was most likely uninvited. The position of the body and the clothing of the victim suggest a forceful assault wherein the suspect attempted to pin the victim to the floor while pulling down her bra and underclothes. This was exactly the same scenario as the assault on Ms. Davis which occurred barely six months prior. Ms. Davis decided not to pursue prosecution against James Lee Hall, Jr., and the charges were dropped, leaving Hall free from prosecution.

Law enforcement never obtained a DNA sample from James Lee Hall, Jr., so he was never entered into the DNA database for sexual offenders. Hall left Florida and moved to Colorado. It follows that because of the serial nature of his offenses, Colorado and other states may have open cases of sexual assaults or homicides that could be resolved by a submission of Hall’s DNA to CODIS, the national database. That submission should occur within the week.

Based on the information obtained from the original case files, the obvious false and misleading statements provided by the suspect and the apparent proclivity for violence towards women, there is probable cause to believe James Lee Hall, Jr. entered the home of Janet Marie Robinson on or about the night of May 14, 1987 or the early morning hours of May 15, 1987, and committed a sexual assault. During the course of the brutal sexual assault, James Lee Hall Jr., in his attempt to overcome the victim’s resistance suffocated her, causing her death.

After all these years, the only physical evidence to prove or disprove James Lee Hall, Jr. murdered Janet Robinson is a DNA sample from James Lee Hall, Jr. A Search and Seizure Warrant was granted and the body was exhumed at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado and evidence collected. The case has now been closed with the DNA identification of Hall. Whether Jimmy Hall remains interred at Fort Logan remains to be seen, as the military may elect to evict him from his honorable resting place.

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Miss Shrimp Festival 2015 Now Accepting Applications

Miss Shrimp Festival 2015 Now Accepting Applications Amelia Island, FL – Applications are now being accepted for the Miss Shrimp Festival Scholarship Pageant, sponsored by the Historic Harbor Front Hampton Inn & Suites. Entrants must be high school level juniors and seniors attending public, private, alternative and home schools. Eligible participants must reside in Nassau County, Florida, but may attend high school in another county to enter. The winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship and the title of Miss Shrimp Festival. Scholarships will also be awarded to the First Runner-Up, Second Runner-Up, and Miss Congeniality.

The first rehearsal will be held on Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 3 p.m. at Bean School of Dance in Fernandina Beach. Contestants meet weekly to learn the choreography of the opening sequence of the pageant, and to prepare for this highly anticipated event. The competition starts with a judge’s interview and dinner catered by Chick-fil-A the Wednesday before the pageant. On Thursday night the contestants make their first appearance in the Pirate’s Parade, riding the route on boats furnished by Redmond Yachts. On Friday, May 1, 2015, Russell Colburn of Fox 30 News will emcee the pageant. The newly crowned 2015 Miss Shrimp Festival will make several appearances throughout the weekend, help with the Little Pirate Contest, the Beard Contest and participate as a judge in the Shrimp Boat Parade on Sunday.

The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival is consistently rated by “Sunshine Artist Magazine” in the top 100 North America best events. The street festival features fine arts and crafts, antiques, live entertainment, Blessing of the shrimp boat fleet, pirate invasions, family friendly contests, a Kids Fun Zone and of course, lots and lots of shrimp!

The Opening Ceremony for the Shrimp Festival begins Friday, May 1st, at 6:30 p.m., followed by the Miss Shrimp Festival Scholarship Pageant at 7:00 p.m., though many sponsorship booths, the Kids Zone and the waterfront food booths open at 4:00 p.m. On Saturday May 2nd, the festival gets bigger with over 300 arts and crafts booths joining the fun from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sunday, May 3, 2015, the festival is open from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

For more information please visit the official website at ShrimpFestival.com.

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Amelia Island’s Rendezvous Festival Partners with Eurochannel

Amelia Island's Rendezvous Festival Partners with EurochannelRendezvous Festival and Eurochannel have entered a partnership initiating worldwide exposure to this nine-day movie, music, and gaming event being held all over Amelia Island in June 2015. Featuring movie screenings, talks, concerts, expositions, tributes and parties, the Rendezvous Festival is named after a music club on Amelia Island’s American Beach that once hosted famed musicians such as Louis Armstrong, James Brown, Billie Daniels, and Ray Charles in the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s. In 1964, the Rendezvous was hit hard by Hurricane Dora and everything was destroyed.

Eurochannel is dedicated to promoting European movies, documentaries, and music. Director of Programming and Acquisitions of Eurochannel Christian Poccard, has participated in the selection committees of Film Festivals such as Berlin and Rotterdam, as well as attending Film Festivals around the World like Cannes, Venice, Rome and others. Their branch into music permits viewers to find legends like U2 and Phil Collins performing alongside the hottest upcoming musical acts like Davie Guetta and Enrique Iglesias. Eurochannel brings viewers into the most important film festivals in Europe, and now Amelia Island, where the latest in independent films and music are being positioned to take the world by storm this June.

One highlight of the Rendezvous Festival takes place June 11th when Country Music Association recording artist the Shane Wooten Band takes the stage for a high energy, outdoor concert at Main Beach in Fernandina. Shane, from Ocala, Florida, is a CMA up and coming artist to watch in 2015. “Shane Wooten caught our attention with the numerous accomplishments he has gained so far in his career,” said Integrity Music Management President David Adkins.

The goal of the festival is to inspire the creativity and imagination of new and experienced filmmakers, gamers, and musicians by showcasing the talent of industry professionals.

The Rendezvous Festival takes place June 5th – 13th and is all about entertainment by bringing artists and the community together for an amazing event.

For more information visit the website: www.rendezvousfestival.com.

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Engineering New Tissues and Organs

Engineering New Tissues and OrgansFixing Flawed Body Parts
How can you mend a broken heart? Or repair a damaged liver, kidney, or knee? NIH-funded scientists are exploring innovative ways to fix faulty organs and tissues or even grow new ones. This type of research is called tissue engineering. Exciting advances continue to emerge in this fast-moving field.

Tissue engineering could allow doctors to repair or replace worn-out tissues and organs with living, working parts. Most important, tissue engineering might help some of the 120,000 people on the waitlist to receive donated kidneys, livers, or other organs.

Doctors have long used tissue-engineered skin to heal severe burns or other injuries. But most tissue engineering methods are still experimental. They’ve been tested only in laboratory dishes and sometimes in animals, but only a few new approaches have been tested in people. Several clinical studies (involving human volunteers) are in the early stages of testing newly developed tissues.

“With this approach, scientists are combining engineering and biology to restore a damaged organ or tissue, whether it’s been damaged by disease or injury or something else,” says Dr. Martha Lundberg, an NIH expert in heart-related tissue engineering.

Some scientists are creating special net-like structures, or scaffolds, in desired shapes and then coaxing cells to grow within them. Some use a mixture of natural substances called growth factors, which direct cells to grow and develop in certain ways.

“Other scientists are using different 3-D bioprinting technologies—some are like fancy inkjet printers—to create new tissues or organs,” Lundberg says. They’ve printed 3-D kidneys and other organs that look like the real thing. But while most of these printed body parts have the right shape, they’re not fully functional.

“Scientists haven’t yet figured out how to print an organ that includes the correct blood vessel patterns, nerve connections, and other components that come together in a mature organ,” Lundberg says. “When creating a new organ, if it can perform the right job and functions, it may not need to look like the real thing.”

Many tissue engineering methods use stem cells, which can be nudged to turn into different cell types. One research team guided human stem cells to become a 3-D structure that can respond to light. The method might one day lead to new therapies for eye disorders. Other stem cell approaches may lead to improved treatment for spinal cord injuries, diabetes, and more.

Another approach, called decellularization, involves removing all the cells from an organ. What’s left behind is a thin, pale framework that contains the organ’s natural structural proteins, including the pathways for tiny blood vessels and nerves. By infusing new cells into this mesh-like matrix, some researchers have successfully created working animal kidneys, livers, hearts, lungs, and other organs.

The decellularization technique was used by Dr. Martin Yarmush and his colleagues to create a functional rat liver that included a network of working blood vessels. Yarmush is a biomedical engineer at Rutgers University and the Massachusetts General Hospital. The engineered livers his team created were kept alive in the laboratory for days and functioned for several hours after transplantation into rats. The researchers are now working to help those transplanted livers survive even longer. They’re also scaling up the methods to create a decellularized human liver that can be repopulated with functional cells.

“A parallel effort we are pursuing involves taking a donated organ that is not considered transplantable for a particular reason, and then using a reconditioning solution and perhaps even stem cells to revitalize the organ so it becomes transplantable,” Yarmush says.

Other researchers are working to repair damaged body parts that are still in the body. At the University of Washington in Seattle, Dr. Charles Murry and colleagues are searching for ways to fix injured hearts. One of their latest studies used human stem cells to repair damaged hearts in monkeys. The stem cells were coaxed to become early-stage heart cells, which were then infused near the heart injury.

The new cells made their way into the damaged heart muscle and organized into muscle fibers in all of the treated monkeys. The infused stem cells replaced nearly half of the damaged heart tissue and began beating in sync with the heart. Still, the scientists note they need years of research before this type of therapy might be tried in people.

Some methods are already being tested in humans. Dr. Martha Murray, a surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital, is exploring new ways to heal a common knee injury known as a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). Athletes who do a lot of twisting and turning, as in basketball or soccer, are at risk for damaging the ACL.

“Typical treatment today, called ACL reconstruction, works well, and it gets patients back to the playing field at a relatively high rate,” Murray says. But the surgery involves removing a piece of tendon from elsewhere in the body and using that to replace the ACL. “So it involves making 2 injuries that the body has to heal from. And even with this treatment, patients still develop arthritis in the knee 15 to 20 years later,” Murray adds. “We wanted to find a better therapy—something less invasive.”

After testing several biomaterials, Murray’s team found that stitching a bioengineered sponge between the torn ends of an injured ACL allows blood to clot and collect around the damaged ligament. Because blood naturally contains stem cells and growth factors, the blood-soaked sponge acts as a “bridge” that encourages ACL healing. The sponge is made of some of the same proteins normally found in ligaments, and it dissolves after a few weeks.

Studies in large animals showed that the bioengineered sponge was much less likely to lead to arthritis, and it healed ACL injuries as well as standard reconstruction surgery. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved human safety testing of the sponge in 10 people with ACL injuries.

Metal, plastic, and other non-biological devices can also replace or enhance malfunctioning body parts. One promising possibility still in development is an artificial kidney that could be implanted in the body and used in place of dialysis to treat end-stage kidney disease. Scientists are also studying a synthetic glue modeled after a natural adhesive that might help to repair tissues in the body. You can learn more about these and other cutting-edge studies at www.nibib.nih.gov/science-education/bionic-man.

The kidney is the most transplanted organ in the U.S., followed by the liver, heart, and lungs. You can protect all of your body’s organs through healthy behaviors:
-Eat a balanced diet.
-Stay physically active.
-Maintain a healthy weight.
-Limit alcohol.
-If you smoke, take steps to quit.
-Take medications only as directed.

Consider signing up as an organ and tissue donor. For information, visit www.organdonor.gov/stateMap.asp.

This article was written by the News in Health Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Vicki Contie
Contributors: Vicki Contie, Alan Defibaugh (illustrations), and Craig Fritz.

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Amelia Island Offers Free Night, Any Night Again in 2015

Amelia Island Offers Free Night, Any Night Again in 2015Amelia Island, FL – Amelia Island is continuing to invite travelers to enjoy its popular “Free Night, Any Night” deals throughout 2015. Visitors can choose from 20 participating island accommodators including celebrated bed and breakfast inns, vacation rentals, and family-owned and popular chain hotels, each offering a free night to guests who book a qualifying stay. The year round offer allows visitors to use their free night with their current stay or during a return visit.

The participating accommodators include:

*Third Night Free
Amelia By the Sea
(800) 335-0984

Amelia South Condominiums
(800) 543-0664

AmeliaVacations.com by ERA Fernandina Beach Realty
(800) 741-4011

Beachside Motel
(877) 261-4236

Ketch Courtyard
(904) 261-0677

Oceans of Amelia
(800) 331-7428

Summer Beach Resort
(800) 862-9297

*Fourth Night Free
Amelia Hotel at the Beach
(877) 263-5428

Amelia Island Williams House
(800) 414-9258

Amelia Surf & Racquet Club
(800) 323-2001

Blue Heron Inn
(904) 445-9034

Comfort Suites
(904) 261-0193

Days Inn & Suites
(904) 277-2300

Fairbanks House
(888) 891-9882

Hampton Inn & Suites, Amelia Island
(904) 491-4911

Hampton Inn, Amelia Island at Fernandina Beach
(904) 321-1111

Ketch Courtyard
(904) 261-0677

Residence Inn – Amelia Island
(904) 277-2440

Seaside Amelia Inn
(844) 347-5283

Summer Beach Resort
(800) 862-9297

Additional information is available at www.ameliaisland.com/free.

*All free night deals are based on availability and include restrictions and black out dates. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Prices vary. Please contact individual hotels for more information or to book a room.

About Amelia Island
Northeast Florida’s coastal treasure, Amelia Island is a barrier island rich in colorful history and breath-taking natural beauty. Amelia Island offers long, beautiful beaches, abundant wildlife, and pristine waters. Upscale resorts with world-class spas, championship golf and exclusive dining blend effortlessly with a captivating collection of bed and breakfast inns and historic districts. The island is home to Fernandina Beach, once a vibrant Victorian seaport village, and now a charming downtown district of eclectic shops, attractions and eateries. Forget the everyday getaway; come make memories on Amelia Island. For visitor information and online planning, visit www.ameliaisland.com.

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Amelia Island Offers Year-Long Event Schedule for Entire Family

Amelia Island Offers Year-Long Event Schedule for Entire FamilyAmelia Island, FL – Northeast Florida’s Amelia Island has announced an exciting 2015 calendar of events celebrating the small barrier island’s breathtaking assets, colorful past and arts and entertainment. With festivals and other special events showcasing everything from music and cars to shrimp and barbeque, Amelia Island has something to entertain visitors of all ages and interests. Major annual events scheduled for 2015 include:

Amelia Island Book Festival: February 19-21
The Amelia Island Book Festival features local, bestselling and nationally known authors, book signings, publishers and exhibitors, writer workshops, panel discussions, a Teen Fest and hands-on projects for children in the Kidz Zone. In 2015, the festival will feature a luncheon with Carolyn Curry, author of “Suffer and Grow Strong” and a special event with former NFL player and coach Bill Curry. For more information about each of the events, many of which are free, call 904-624-1665 or visit ameliaislandbookfestival.org.

Amelia Concours Week: March 12-15
Amelia Concours Week includes seven top automotive events, including Bonham’s Auction at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club (March 12), the Gooding & Company Auction (March 13) and Festivals of Speed (March 13-14) at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation, duPont Registry Live Aeroport Reception (March 13) at Fernandina Beach Airport, the RM Auction at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island (March 14), Cars & Coffee at the Concours (March 14) and the 20th Annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance on the greens of the Golf Club of Amelia Island (March 13-15). Visit ameliaconcoursweek.com for more information.

Amelia Island Garden Show: April 18-19
The Amelia Island Garden Show will feature more than 50 vendors with a full assortment of flowers and plants, fruit trees and palms, orchids, herbs, container gardens, native plants, butterfly-friendly plants, shrubs, garden accessories and much more. On-site experts will offer advice about gardening challenges and how to green your home, yard and garden. Guests can also enjoy gourmet foods at the Picnic Bench Dining Court. Visit ameliagarden.com or 904-557-4202 for more details.

Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival: May 1-3
Celebrating its 52nd year, the Shrimp Festival lures thousands of visitors to historic downtown Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island to celebrate all things shrimp. The popular event features free admission, nationally-recognized juried fine arts and crafts show, antiques, live entertainment, kids’ activities, contests, pirates and more. Dozens of food vendors will be serving up the tastiest shrimp you can find, prepared every way possible by local non-profit organizations. For more information, go to shrimpfestival.com.

Wild Amelia Nature Festival: May 15-17
The 2015 Wild Amelia Nature Festival invites residents and visitors to experience the wilder side of Amelia Island. Visitors can enjoy numerous guided eco-tours led by area naturalists and Park Rangers, an EcoExpo featuring nature-based vendors and organizations, nature-based activities for children, a sea turtle release and more. For tickets or additional information, visit wildamelia.com.

Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival: May 9-31
The Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival showcases world-renowned artists performing a variety of music styles in intimate and historic settings on Amelia Island. The 2015 festival line-up will include performances by Eroica Trio, Dover Quartet, pianist Daria Rabotkina, Philip Pan and his Viper Violin, and many other stellar musical artists. For ticket details and additional information, call (904) 261-1779 or visit aicmf.com.

Rendezvous Festival: June 5-13
The first ever Rendezvous International Festival will be held at venues throughout Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island, a nine-day celebration of entertainment, including film, music and gaming. The Festival is named after Evans Rendezvous, an American Beach club that hosted musicians such as Louis Armstrong, James Brown and Ray Charles from the 1930s to 1950s, and the venue for the final day of the festival. Celebrating the area’s proud history and contribution to the entertainment industry, the festival will feature an interactive film expo, presentations, workshops and much more. For additional information and a full schedule, please visit rendezvousfestival.com.

Great Southern Tailgate Classic: August 21-22
The 6th Annual Great Southern Tailgate Classic, held on August 21-22, highlights the spirit and fanfare of American football. Kicking off the football season, this year’s event will take place on Amelia Island’s Main Beach and will focus on the “Art of Tailgating” with great food, music and a kid’s zone. The event also features fun tailgating games, legendary food demonstrations, a watermelon eating contest and much more. Visit greatsoutherntailgateclassic.com for more information.

Amelia Island Jazz Festival: October 8-15
The Amelia Island Jazz Festival will light up the island for the fourteenth consecutive year, with a week-long series of events celebrating the diverse all-American art form of jazz. Under the artistic direction of renowned jazz drummer and bandleader Les DeMerle, the 2015 festival will feature world-class jazz artists in a wide variety of styles, including Contemporary, Bebop, Smooth Jazz, Big Band, Latin, Blues, Dixieland and more. This year’s headliners will be announced soon, joining the all-star cast of past headliners such as David Sanborn, Ramsey Lewis, Spyro Gyra and Mindi Abair. Performances will take place at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation and several other intimate venues around the island. For more information, call (904) 504-4772 or visit ameliaislandjazzfestival.com.

7th Annual Petanque American Open: November 13-15
The international community of Petanque (Pay-tonk) will return to Amelia Island this year for its annual International Petanque Tournament in November. At the downtown marina – surrounded by plenty of cafes, restaurants and shops – more than 120 two-player teams will compete. Founded in France, and with increasing popularity worldwide and especially in the U.S., the tournament had teams from a record 25 states and eight other countries in 2014. For more information, call (904) 491-1190 or visit Petanque-America-Open.net.

Amelia Island – A Southern Elegance Christmas: December 4-13
Celebrate the southern elegance of an Amelia Island Christmas with a full slate of events throughout the holiday season. Marvel at the beauty of Amelia Island’s Bed and Breakfast Inns decorated in their holiday finest (AmeliaIslandInns.com) or celebrate the “Golden Age” of Fernandina Beach and the architecture of beautiful beach homes during the annual Holiday Home Tour. The tour showcases private vintage homes professionally decorated for the holidays and open to the public only for this special occasion (AmeliaHomeTours.com). With tree lightings, giant gingerbread pirate ships, holiday villages, caroling and many other festive happenings, Amelia Island shines bright with holiday spirit each year.

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SearchAmelia Creates a Relay for Life Team

SearchAmelia Creates a Relay for Life TeamWe all know someone whose life has been touched by cancer. This year SearchAmelia.com is fighting cancer through Relay For Life Fernandina Beach/Yulee. (Find us on facebook.)

We have been posting articles and local events on SearchAmelia since 2008 and we hope you will join us by showing your support for our efforts by making a donation to Relay for Life — big or small — toward our fundraising goal.

Relay For Life will be held at Main Beach this year in Fernandina, from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm. This year’s theme is Hope Around the World and SearchAmelia has selected Kenya as our country to represent. Because cancer knows no boundries, Kenya also hosts their own Relay for Life events and our booth and its costumes and decorations hope to bring a bit of Kenya to Amelia Island. Other teams are selecting other countries like China, New Zealand and England.

There will be several bands performing, other live entertainment, themed laps, an activities zone for the children and much, much more.

The Relay movement gives everyone an opportunity to come together to honor cancer survivors, remember those lost to the disease, and raise funds.

The American Cancer Society is putting your donation dollars to work now, investing in groundbreaking cancer research and providing free information and services to cancer patients and their caregivers. With your help, we aren’t just fighting one type of cancer we’re fighting for every birthday!

As a volunteer on the committee, I will be putting the exciting details together for a press release to be published next week. But, in the mean time, we ask you to please join our team and make a small donation!

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Shrimp Festival has Food Booth Openings for Nassau Non-profits

Shrimp Festival has Food Booth Openings for Nassau Non-profits Applications are being accepted for additional food booths to set up during the 52nd Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival until February 28, 2015. More food booths are needed in both the Kids Fun Zone and the main area of the Shrimp Festival. To be considered, you must be a non-profit organization within Nassau County, Florida. Many of our food booths make the majority of their annual budgets by being a part of this popular festival, always held the first weekend in May.

Fresh, local shrimp is a staple at the festival and with over 100,000 attendees to be fed, this is an excellent opportunity. The Kids Fun Zone has expanded into a larger area for 2015 and that also means more games, more rides, more entertainment and we are in need of more kid-friendly foods.

The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival is consistently rated by “Sunshine Artist Magazine” in the top 100 North America best events. The street festival features fine arts and crafts, antiques, live entertainment, Blessing of the shrimp boat fleet, pirate invasions, family friendly contests, a Kids Fun Zone and of course, lots and lots of shrimp!

To be accepted into the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, all food booths must be organized, staffed and run by a Nassau County, Florida, non-profit organization. No commercial food vendors are permitted!

To apply for a food booth please forward your non-profit information/certificate/EIN number, contact names and phone numbers, and proposed menu and pricing to foodbooths@shrimpfestival.com.

The dates of the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival are Friday, May 1, 2015, from 4:00 pm until 10:00 pm; Saturday, May 2nd, from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm; and Sunday May 3rd, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The Annual Pirates’ Parade will be held on Thursday, April 30, 2015, at 6:00 pm.

For more information visit ShrimpFestival.com.

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Community Emergency Response Team and Storm Spotter Training

Community Emergency Response Team and Storm Spotter TrainingNassau County is creating a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

The CERT Basic Course will be available to those interesed. This is a 24 hour course spread over three days, eight hours per day (Course structure in terms of delivery is subject to change as agreements are underway).

In a perfect world, a couple people from each Basic CERT course would agree to attend the CERT Train-the-trainer Course which is also a 24-hour course. This would allow them to then certify other citizens as CERT members. By this method, the CERT teams can continue to grow as each group certifies their own people in the CERT program.

For example: If someone from the Pirates’ Club attended both courses, they could then return to the Pirates Club and certify other members. This is a great option as it allows for internal coordination and likely provides the students and instructors more flexibility.

Think of CERT as neighbor helping neighbor!

Citizen Corps
By joining the Citizen Corps, members would attend specific training to a level that they can assist at the emergency operations center (EOC) during times of activation in specific positions. This obviously would be a larger time investment for each volunteer, but it is also quite rewarding to be able to staff the EOC when it is activated for an emergency or disaster situation.

Think of Citizen Corps as an emergency operations center force-multiplier.

NWS Storm Spotter Course
This is a two-hour course that is provided by the National Weather Service. Nassau County will host this class at the Nassau County Emergency Operations Center located at 77150 Citizen’s Circle, Yulee, FL 32097. The class is April 14th from 6-8 PM. The county does not have specific minutes on the course. This course is first come first serve because it is a hosted course, not one that is provide by our county. To register, simply RSVP to the email address at the bottom of this article by April 7th if at all possible.

For more information on either class, please contact Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Sean Card at (904) 548-0953 or by email at sacard@nassauso.com.

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2015 Bonhams Amelia Island Auction

2015 Bonhams Amelia Island Auction

Photo by Bonhams Auctions

A new auction house is coming to Amelia Island for the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, and Bonhams is a recognized name when it comes to fine auctions!

Bonhams Amelia Island Auction will take place on Thursday, March 12, 2015.

Preview Days are Wednesday and Thursday, March 10-11, from 10:00am until 5:00pm.

The auction will be held at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club.

Some auction highlights include Marlene Dietrich’s 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Transformable Phaeton, a 1911 EMF Model 30 Factory Racer, a 1936 Wanderer W25K Roadster, and a 1932 Stutz DV32 Super Bearcat Convertible – just to name a few.

The best source of info for folks is by far the website: Bonhams.com/Amelia. You will find all lot details, descriptions, estimates, pictures and post-sale results are or will be available there.

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