FSCJ Named Eligible to Compete for $1 Million Dollar Prize

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) has just been named one of 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges. This is the second time in the last three years FSCJ has been ranked in the top 10%.

FSCJ was selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 public, two-year colleges nationwide to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize.

“The selection as one of the most prestigious colleges in the nation by the Aspen Institute is a testament to the dedicated work of both our faculty and students at FSCJ,” said FSCJ President Dr. Cynthia Bioteau. “Our leadership at every level within the College works diligently to provide exceptional academic opportunities for our students. This recognition is proof that we continue to improve outcomes for all students.”

Awarded every two years since 2011, the Aspen Prize recognizes institutions with outstanding achievements in four areas: learning; certificate and degree completion; employment and earnings; and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

FSCJ will move forward to the next round of the competition for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence by submitting an application to be reviewed through a rigorous evaluation for a spot on the top 10 Aspen Prize finalists list. Top 10 finalists will be named in May 2018. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data. A distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner, finalist(s) with distinction, and rising star(s) in spring 2019.

Man Drowns in Rough Surf

PRESS RELEASE: On September 24, 2017 at 3:18 PM Fernandina Beach Police Officers, Fernandina Beach Fire/Rescue and the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of two swimmers in distress during “Red Flag” conditions at Beach Access #6, which is in the 600 block of South Fletcher Avenue.

Upon arrival first responders found a 20 year old man safely out of the water, but in need of medical attention. He reported that his father was still in the water and needed to be rescued.

Rescue swimmers from Fernandina Beach Fire-Rescue, the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office, and an off-duty Fernandina Beach Lifeguard responded and began searching the rough waters. A local pilot responded to the call for assistance by circling the area looking for anyone in distress.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Air Unit and the United States Coast Guard also arrived in the area in support of the search for the missing swimmer.

At 4:50 PM, an hour and a half after the first report, the drowning victim was located in the surf about 75’ south of where he had last been seen. Christopher Brian Murray, 49 years of age of Fernandina Beach, was pulled from the surf and pronounced deceased at the scene. The victim’s son, Cale Murray, was medically cleared by Fire/Rescue at the scene.

Fernandina Accepting Bids for IT Security Assessment

The City of Fernandina Beach is seeking proposals for a vendor to conduct security assessments of the City’s existing IT infrastructure. The vendor awarded the contract will assist the City in determining our current and potential future security risk profile so an appropriate set of responses can be developed. The anticipated list of vulnerabilities to be evaluated may include but is not limited to:

• Network penetration
• Social Engineering vulnerability
• Policies and practices as they pertain to 3rd party support entities
• Internal policies and practices
• Application vulnerability, internal and public-facing
• Sensitive data vulnerability
• PCI Compliance

Publication Date/Time January 13, 2017, 12:01 PM
Closing Date/Time February 06, 2017, 2:00 PM

For more information, please contact Patti Clifford in writing at pclifford@fbfl.org.

Police Investigation becomes Homicide Case

An early morning argument turned into a violent confrontation outside a residence at 837 Tarpon Avenue as one man stabbed and critically wounded another man during a dispute in the victim’s driveway.

Thomas Clyde Erdmann, 19 years of age, was taken to Baptist Nassau and is currently being treated at UF Health Jacksonville for multiple stab wounds.

Fernandina Beach Police and Fire Department personnel responded to the scene at approximately 3:25 A.M. this morning and located the victim inside the residence covered in blood and in great distress. Responding officers learned that the offender was known to the victim and officers provided identifying information to responding officers from our agency and the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office.

Subsequently, Nassau County deputies observed and stopped a vehicle attempting to leave the area and located a suspect inside the car. The suspect is currently in custody while this investigation continues.

Agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are assisting with crime scene processing at several locations in the area.

UPDATE: The Fernandina Beach Police Department has learned that Thomas Erdmann has died after surgery at UF Health Jacksonville. Detectives have now formally charged Zachary M. Fila, 22 years of age, of Yulee, Florida with 1st Degree Murder in this case.

Evacuation of Amelia Island Ordered


The Fernandina Beach website has announced than an evacuation of Amelia Island, Florida, has been ordered!

“October 4, 2016 12:58 PM
Hurricane Matthew
Mandatory evacuation of Amelia Island begins Thursday, October 6th at 6:00am. Further updates will be posted here.”

Failing to evacuate, when informed to do so, is a violation of state statute.

-Once you are instructed to evacuate, you must do so without hesitation.
-All residents should have an Evacuation Plan in place before Hurricane Season.
-Keep in mind that the Shave bridge on the west side of the island may be closed to vehicular traffic when it is determined that sustained winds of 45 mph or more render it unsafe.

-Keep a full tank of gas in your car if an evacuation seems likely. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages.
-Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.
-Make transportation arrangements with friends or your local government if you do not own a car.
-Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions.
-Gather your family and go if you are instructed to evacuate immediately.
-Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
-Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked.
-Be alert for washed-out roads and bridges. Do not drive into flooded areas.
-Stay away from downed power lines.

If Time Permits…
-Gather your disaster supplies kit.
-Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection, such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and a cap.

Secure your home:
-Close and lock doors and windows.
-Unplug electrical equipment, such as radios and televisions, and small appliances, such as toasters and microwaves.
-Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding.
-Let others know where you are going.

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.

West Rock in Fernandina Received Bomb Threat

Press release from Fernandina Beach Police Department – On August 4, 2016, at approximately 8:25 a.m. a call was received at the Fernandina Beach West Rock switchboard’s main number in which the caller advised a bomb would detonate at 9:15 a.m.

The Fernandina Beach Police Department, Nassau County Sheriff’s Office and the Fernandina Beach Fire Department responded to the scene. Public safety coordinated closely with West Rock’s safety and management teams and the decision was made to evacuate the facility. Public Safety then paired with West Rock managers and conducted a search of the facility. The search did not produce any unusual items and the West Rock safety team opted to reopen the facility. At 10:45 a.m. the facility reopened and traffic in the area was returned to normal.

The Fernandina Beach Police Department will be investigating the incident. If anyone has any information they are encouraged to call Sergeant Tracey Hamilton at 904-310-3215.

Local Man Chases After Robbery Suspect

Local Man Chases After Robbery Suspect in Fernandina BeachFernandina Beach, FL – Vincente Perez reported that his wallet had been stolen from his person by an unknown male suspect while he and his wife were at the Green Turtle Tavern on Thursday night. Perez said that an individual approached him and asked for a light and that Perez offered the man his lighter. The suspect lit a cigarette and returned the lighter, but then stayed in close proximity to Perez and eventually bumped into him before quickly walking away.

Perez immediately realized that the suspect had taken his wallet after deliberately bumping into him. Mrs. Perez chased after the suspect screaming that he had stolen her husband’s wallet as the suspect was pedaling away on a beach cruiser type bicycle. Thaxton Rowe was leaving his job at the Florida House Inn and heard the commotion. Without regard for his own personal safety, Rowe chased after the suspect, confronted him, and was able to retrieve the stolen wallet. Upon relinquishing the wallet the suspect continued to flee the area. The wallet was returned to Perez.

The suspect was described as a black male in his 40’s or 50’s, approximately 5’7″ tall, wearing a white shirt, dark blue shorts with a light blue stripe, and a black hat. Perez stated the suspect was polite prior to the robbery. Police are hoping to locate the suspect and charge him with Robbery by Sudden Snatching, a felony crime.

Although the Police Department does not recommend taking proactive measures against potentially dangerous criminals, Mr. Rowe was commended by Police Chief Jim Hurley for his bravery and quick action which resulted in stolen property being quickly recovered and additional suspect information being developed for law enforcement use as this investigation continues. Anyone with information about this offense, or a similar offense that occurred recently in the same area of town, should call Detective Sergeant Tracey Hamilton at (904) 310-3215.

Van T Barfoot died…

We received this in our “inbox” and with the state our nation is in, I felt it appropriate to share. Please never feel there is nothing left for you to do to show your love of country; for you can ALWAYS, and proudly, fly Old Glory.

(The original author is unknown.)

Remember the guy who wouldn’t take the flag pole down on his Virginia property a while back? You might remember the news story several months ago about a crotchety old man in Virginia who defied his local Homeowners Association, and refused to take down the flag pole on his property along with the large American flag he flew on it.

Now we learn who that old man was.On June 15, 1919, Van T. Barfoot was born in Edinburg, Texas. That probably didn’t make news back then. But twenty-five years later, on May 23, 1944, near Carano, Italy , that same Van T. Barfoot, who had in 1940 enlisted in the U.S. Army, set out alone to flank German machine gun positions from which gunfire was raining down on his fellow soldiers. His advance took him through a minefield but having done so, he proceeded to single-handedly take out three enemy machine gun positions, returning with 17 prisoners of war.

And if that weren’t enough for a day’s work, he later took on and destroyed three German tanks sent to retake the machine gun positions. That probably didn’t make much news either, given the scope of the war, but it did earn Van T. Barfoot, who retired as a Colonel after also serving in Korea and Vietnam, a well deserved Congressional Medal of Honor.

What did make news… was his Neighborhood Association’s quibble with how the 90-year-old veteran chose to fly the American flag outside his suburban Virginia home. Seems the HOA rules said it was OK to fly a flag on a house-mounted bracket, but, for decorum, items such as Barfoot’s 21-foot flagpole were “unsuitable”.

Van Barfoot had been denied a permit for the pole, but erected it anyway and was facing court action unless he agreed to take it down.

Then the HOA story made national TV, and the Neighborhood Association rethought its position and agreed to indulge this aging hero who dwelt among them.

“In the time I have left”, he said to the Associated Press, “I plan to continue to fly the American flag without interference.” As well he should. And if any of his neighbors had taken a notion to contest him further, they might have done well to read his Medal of Honor citation first. Seems it indicates Mr. Van Barfoot wasn’t particularly good at backing down.

We only live in the Land of the Free because of the brave! And, because of men like Van Barfoot.

Highly Decorated Officer Promoted to Police Sergeant

Highly Decorated Officer Promoted to Police SergeantJason Smith, a ten year veteran of the Fernandina Beach Police Department, has been selected to be the next Police Sergeant after successfully completing the recent competitive promotional process.

Sergeant Smith has twice been recognized as the Police Officer of the Year by the Fernandina Beach Police Department based on his volume of work, initiative and dedication. He received the annual MADD Outstanding Performance Award in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 given by the Northeast Florida MADD organization for his continuing efforts to reduce DUI traffic offenses. He has served as a Field Training Officer and Drug Recognition Expert.

Sergeant Smith is an active mentor in the Take Stock in Children program in Nassau County. He is also an active instructor for NACDAC, teaching Responsible Alcoholic Beverage Training curriculum on a quarterly basis.

Smith, hired on May 15, 2006, began his new supervisory duties on Sunday, June 19th.

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