Enhancing The Eighth Street Corridor to Historic Fernandina Beach

Enhancing The Eighth Street Corridor to Historic Fernandina Beach

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Changes are a-coming to the Eighth Street corridor as you approach historic, downtown Fernandina Beach. Through a series of meetings, hearings and public opinion polls, the stretch of Eighth Street, often referred to as an “eye-sore” may be getting a much needed facelift with the help of re-zoning.

Here is the press release:

Public Hearings Beginning in May Following citizen feedback over a multi-year process, the City has initiated policy changes for the 8th Street Small Area to allow a wide range of housing options while keeping all current commercial uses. The goal is to create a vibrant and welcoming mixed-use corridor with a unified attractive visual character that serves as a gateway and connects to the history and character of Downtown Fernandina Beach. Large-scale Future Land Use Map and Zoning District Map amendments as well as Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code changes are necessary to accomplish this goal.

Public hearings will begin at the Planning Advisory Board on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at 5:00 PM at City Commission Chambers. It is expected that the City Commission will consider the policy and mapping changes in a public meeting in late June.

The City’s public policy effort will involve amendments to the City’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code to introduce a new Future Land Use category and Zoning District called 8th Street Mixed Use (8MU)/ MU-8. Design requirements tied to the new 8th Street Small Area Mixed Use (8MU) land use category and MU-8 zoning designation have been drafted to reflect a goal of becoming more Centre Street like by providing an opportunity for residential development mixed with commercial development. It is intended to provide for a wide-range of housing options with access to amenities located downtown. The zoning changes have been crafted to accommodate all existing uses along 8th Street and anticipate future uses for the area. It is unlikely that the City will experience immediate change resulting from the new land use and zoning within the area. Changes will occur over time through private property redevelopment and public sector infrastructure improvements.

Proposed revisions to the Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code are consistent with the direction for changes in the 8th Street Small Area. Working together with the associated land use and map amendments, these changes seek to accomplish the following for the corridor and enabling the corridor to become more “Centre Street like” by:
-Providing flexible land use for commercial, residential and mixed use;
-Promoting pedestrian level activity;
-Serving as a gateway to downtown;
-Allocating up to 18 dwelling units per acre (The same as downtown built development pattern);
-Allowing a variety of housing types such as Single Family, duplex, triplex, townhouse, multifamily, mixed use;
-Providing a Maximum Floor Area Ratio of 2.0 (same as C-3 district);
-Maintaining the existing 45ft height limit (same as C-1, C-2, and C-3 zoning districts);
-Requiring a 6 foot pedestrian/ landscape access area fronting 8th Street – no other required setback;
-Requiring building entrances to locate on 8th Street;
-Obtaining shared driveway access points and reducing curb-cuts, where possible; and
-Adding supplemental standards for drive-thru uses and fueling stations.

In an effort to become more “Centre Street like” certain design standards are required within the new 8th Street Mixed Use land use and MU-8 zoning. Architectural articulation is required in order to promote pedestrian scale, contribute to on-street interest, and add vibrancy to the structures within the 8th Street Small Area. A mixture of materials, architectural elements, and varied arrangement of windows and door openings shall be demonstrated on new commercial, mixed use, and residential structures and commercial structures are required to have a minimum of 12 foot internal ceiling heights. Fence standards are amended to require black iron or iron-like materials which are no taller than 8 feet and permanent sign standards will defer to requirements found within the Historic District, but will not require a Certificate of Approval.

This is a brief summary of the proposed LDC changes. To review all amendments in greater detail, please visit www.fbfl.us/8thStreet.

For more information, please contact Kelly N. Gibson, AICP – Senior Planner at 904-310-3135 or kgibson@fbfl.org.

The S. 8th Street corridor (SR200/A1A) serves as the primary entry onto Amelia Island from the Shave Bridge and into the City of Fernandina Beach and historic downtown. Historically, this corridor evolved as an extension of downtown, and served as the first auto-centric commercial corridor in Fernandina Beach. Gas stations and automobile dealers located on S. 8th Street in the mid-20th century.

As time went on, more commercial development appeared on S. 8th Street and restaurants, retail, banks, and other businesses developed along the corridor. When Fernandina Beach continued to expand with new shopping centers on 14th and Sadler Roads, and businesses also began moving to the growing Yulee area, S. 8th Street entered a period of decline. Properties have sat vacant for years, businesses have come and gone, and the general appearance of the streetscape has deteriorated.

Despite the lack of a coordinated effort, improvements to 8th Street have taken place over the past several years. The proximity to historic downtown and the benefits of being in an urbanized area served by infrastructure make the area attractive for rehabilitation. It is the hope that this effort’s associated changes to the Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code will help further revitalize the area and provide better opportunities for reuse and redevelopment of property, while maintaining the character of Fernandina Beach.

The City’s current effort to enhance 8th Street stems from direction in its Comprehensive Plan (Guide for Growth and Development in the City) which was most recently adopted in late 2011. In early 2014, planning staff organized a working group to consider potential policies and land use mechanisms to foster and support redevelopment directives. This group assisted planning staff with evaluating options and chose to focus initial efforts on the 8th Street corridor.

Working Group & PAB:
Members of the group included an architect, engineer, the County Economic Development Board director, a commercial real estate professional, a citizen-at-large, Planning Advisory Board members, and a representative from the County planning department. All meetings were noticed and open to the public, and minutes were taken.All input was welcomed. The group met monthly from March 2014 through March 2015.

Stakeholders from particular fields or interest groups related to 8th Street and the area were invited to meet with the working group. The group immediately identified several challenges to reinvestment in 8th Street which included the following along with other that are identified in the 8th Street Small Area Plan found at www.fbfl.us/8thStreet.

1. The current zoning that includes a mix of C-1 (Neighborhood Commercial), C-2 (General Commercial), C-3 (Central Business District), and MU-1 (Mixed Use) from 7th Street to 9th Street,
2. The lack of residential zoning on 8th Street specifically in the C-2 General Commercial zoning district, and
3. The varying jurisdictions along 8th Street (city and county properties and Florida Department of Transportation ownership of the roadway).

After a year of meeting which included initial public outreach efforts through survey efforts and Viewpoint articles, the working group decided to issue its recommendations to the Planning Advisory Board (PAB). The PAB formed a subcommittee and drafted this strategy which combines a new land use designation and zoning district along with development standards for the 8th Street small area, and large-scale land use and zoning map amendments.

In an effort to spread the word and gain additional public input and consensus for the proposed amendments, the City’s Planning Department conducted public outreach efforts in January and February 2016 starting with a post card mail out to all property owners, business owners, and properties within 325 ft. of the affected properties under consideration for map changes. City staff collected input from citizens and visitors at the downtown Fernandina Beach Market Place farmer’s market. All stakeholders were invited to participate in a walking tour of 8th Street.

Several public meetings were held the week of February 8-12th at the Golf Course Club House, Peck Center Reception Room, and the Atlantic Recreation Auditorium. These events were well attended and addressed many citizen questions, concerns, and comments. Given the degree of changes along the State maintained roadway (SR 200/ A1A/ “8th Street”), staff provided the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) with an opportunity for advance review and comments on the proposed land use amendments. FDOT staff provided a through and detailed review of the revisions and offered additional data and analysis to support the City’s direction for the corridor. All state agencies will have an opportunity to review the amendments through a required coordinated review process which follows the City’s 1st reading of the Comprehensive Plan and large-scale Future Land Use Map ordinances.

Rib Cook-Off and Artwalk Both Held Saturday

The City of Fernandina Beach is holding the eventful Rib Cook-Off on March 12, 2016, at Main Beach Park. There will be live music, vendor booths, concessions, and more. Only $10.00 per plate, and a Corn Hole Tournament at $10.00/team.

With over 50 BBQ Teams competing, you can purchase a $10.00 Community plates starting at noon that will get you ribs from one of the teams, sides and tea.

If you are not into BBQ, then check out the monthly Artwalk in downtown Fernandina from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Beginning at the Island Art Association on North Second Street, there will be 48 works exhibited and judged by Jacksonville Artist Ted Head. A variety of media including sculpture, glass, wire, painting, photography, fabric is on display. This show will be in the Nouveau Art Hall until April 2, 2016.

Then take a stroll and visit some of our other local galleries:
-Blue Door Artists – 205 1/2 Centre Street (upstairs)
-SanJon Gallery – 218 Corner Ash Street and 3rd
-Gallery C – 218 Ash Street (upstairs)
-Trish’s Slightly Off Centre – 218 Ash Street
-The Guilded Dolphin – 5 South 2nd Street (upstairs)

Fernandina Beach Designated Florida Main Street Community

Fernandina Beach Designated Florida Main Street Community The City is proud to announce that Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has awarded Fernandina Beach the prestigious designation as a Florida Main Street community!

A healthy vibrant town builds its future on the past. The program promotes sensible, sustained economic growth and enhancements based on local assets, especially historic resources and buildings. Being a Florida Main Street will enable us to maintain a focus on downtown to create greater economic stability, revitalization, sustainability, vitality, quality of life and civic pride.

Fernandina Beach Main Street is a partnership between the City of Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island-Fernandina Beach-Yulee Chamber of Commerce and the Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau. All partners are thankful for the overwhelming support of the community for the Main Street program and are excited to get started.

Stay tuned for updates as the program develops, and be sure to like the “Fernandina Beach Main Street” page on Facebook.

For more information on the Florida Main Street program at the Department of State, visit http://dos.myflorida.com/historical/preservation/main-street-program/ and the National Main Street site at http://www.preservationnation.org/main-street/.

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SearchAmelia Has Posted 10,000 Blogs

SearchAmelia Has Posted 10,000 BlogsSearchAmelia has just posted their 10,000th blog! That is indeed a lot of writing, researching, soul sharing, laughter and sometimes tears.

We began in the spring of 2008 by building a website and publishing local articles. Stories about history, news or events that we feel are relevant to those living in or visiting, Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Yulee and most of Nassau County, were considered ideal content. Since 2008 we have posted something damn near every-single-day!!!

Our website strives to be a familiar place, both interesting and informative, for folks to go to learn about the things and the people our wonderful community offers.

SearchAmelia has introduced us to new friends, opened our eyes to new ideas, and opened our hearts to those in need. We have tried to focus on the good news in Fernandina, but still we share some of the bad that occasionally shows up in our “in-boxes”.

Our articles are often press releases submitted by your neighbors telling of new business offerings, non-profit events, and local news stories. Often we write from our heart. My Personal Experience with Hospice let me share a very private moment with “you” – our readers, subscribers and viewers. “You” were there when we lost our partner and Han’s brother, Thom. “You” were with me when my daughter and her young son’s community of Henryville, Indiana was all but destroyed during a tornado outbreak in March of 2012.

We have shared anniversaries, childbirths and weddings.

We ARE your neighbors; we live here, we work here and we hope you consider us your friends.

Our articles 2012 Doomsday The End is Near, Haiti One Year after the Earthquake, ‎and How to Keep Flies Out of Your House or Patio have been read tens of thousands of times. We’ve had an enchanting variety of guest writers submit their pieces, too.

We don’t charge for subscriptions, we don’t charge for your local news or a link back to your businesses, and we don’t post affiliate advertising. The ads we do have are partners with SearchAmelia, strengthening the “shop local” mantra.

I’m proud to say our calendar is one of the most comprehensive ones in town and we welcome your submissions. It’s simple, just CLICK HERE. (By the way, our calendar entries are not included in the 10,000.)

You may not think 10,000 stories is much to brag about, but we sure do! Here are the numbers:

We’be been blogging for nearly six years and five months. Call it 334 weeks if you’d like, but no matter how you do the math we have published, on average, just over four articles – every single day – for the past 2,343 days (give or take a day or two).

…and so, I raise my glass to my partner, Han, “Here’s to 10,000 more! Cheers!”

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Fernandina Beach Wants Your Input Regarding 8th Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, contact Adrienne Burke, Community Development Director, at 904-310-3135 or aburke@fbfl.org.

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University of Florida visits Fernandina Beach

University of Florida visits Fernandina BeachThe NRLI fellows conduct a break-out session on negotiation. Photo courtesy of UF NRLI Project Team.

Fernandina Beach, FL – Fellows in the University of Florida’s Natural Resources Leadership Institute (NRLI) visited Fernandina Beach and Nassau County from November 8 to 10, 2012 as part of their eight-month curriculum focused on responses to climate change in Florida. This is the first time the NRLI program has conducted a session in Nassau County.

NRLI is for rising leaders in business, agriculture, government, academia and the environmental community, and is designed to teach and enhance conflict management skills in the context of natural resource issues. This year’s class of over 20 fellows from across Florida represents many natural resource interests, including the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Forest Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Sea Grant, local governments, and the agricultural industry.

City planner Adrienne BurkeCity planner Adrienne Burke speaks to the NRLI class. Photo courtesy of UF NRLI Project Team.

NRLI graduates are poised to help stakeholders in Florida collaborate on projects that try to balance environmental protection and economic development.

The Fernandina Beach session, held at the Amelia Hotel at the Beach, highlighted the topic of coastal resiliency to climate change and related effects. Discussions touched upon planning for and response to significant weather events and sea level rise. City of Fernandina Beach Senior Planner and NRLI alumna, Adrienne Burke, opened the session on November 8 with a contextual presentation regarding Nassau County. She discussed demographics, employment, natural resources, and unique sites in Nassau County, as well as City Comprehensive Plan policies regarding coastal management and the City’s experience with increased flooding because of recent tropical storms.

Ben Cazell of RayonierBen Cazell of Rayonier speaks with NRLI fellows. Photo courtesy of UF NRLI Project Team.

On November 9, the NRLI fellows participated in a field trip to Rayonier property, led by Ben Cazell, who discussed Rayonier’s sustainable initiatives and potential impacts of increased weather events on the timber industry. That afternoon, fellows conducted stakeholder interviews at Fort Clinch with local and regional representatives of the timber industry, shrimp industry, Department of Environmental Protection, Sustainable Fernandina, and the City of Fernandina Beach to learn more about individual perspectives on climate change and related impacts. During the program session, fellows also learned about consensus-based decision-making, negotiation, and focus groups as conflict management tools.

The session concluded on November 10 with a wrap-up of lessons learned from Fernandina Beach and Nassau County.

For more information, please call the City of Fernandina Beach Community Development Department at (904) 277-7325 or email Adrienne Burke at aburke@fbfl.org.

For information on the Natural Resources Leadership Institute, please visit nrli.ifas.ufl.edu.

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Fernandina Recycling Program a Success

Fernandina Recycling Program a Success

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Fernandina Beach, FL – The City’s expanded recycling program began on October 1, 2012 and within the first month the amount of collected recyclables has significantly increased. Prior to the new program, the City averaged 34 tons of recycled material each month. In October, a reported total of 75.55 tons more than doubled that average figure.

With a nearly 300% increase between September and October, the City’s recycling program will certainly help achieve the statewide recycling goal of 75% by 2020 (Energy, Climate Change, and Economic Security Act of 2008). The program’s success is attributed to the number of new materials that can be collected through curbside recycling. Advanced Disposal’s Make Your Mother Proud enhanced recycling program was rolled out during the last week of September. The City’s curbside recycling is picked up once each week.

The green 65 gallon carts are serviced by a new auto load truck. When taking your recycling cart to the curb please make sure that the area surrounding the cart is clear. As a reminder, all recycled materials must be located in the green recycling cart.

The following items are accepted as part of the City’s recycling program:


    • Newspapers
    • Craft paper
    • Shredded paper (in paper bag)
    • Paper Towel Cores
    • Magazines/ Catalogs
    • Phone Books
    • Junk Mail/ Inserts
    • Office and Copy Paper
    • Brown Paper Bags
    • Corrugated cardboard (2’ by 2′ or smaller & flat)


    • Dry Food Packages
    • Boxed soups
    • Soda cartons
    • File Boxes


    • #1-#7 plastics
    • Detergent & cleaning containers
    • Milk jugs and colored jugs
    • Soda bottles (remove lids)
    • Water bottles (remove lids)


    • Aluminum beverage cans
    • Steel food containers
    • Aluminum baking tins
    • Aluminum food cans
    • Clean metallic lids


    • Clear glass
    • Green Glass
    • Brown Glass

In addition to weekly recycling, the City will offer a recycling and hazardous waste event next year on Saturday, April 20th, 2013. Recycled materials may also be brought to the City’s recycling center located off of the South 6th Street extension and Lime Street behind the utility billing office. To dispose of used or unwanted prescription drugs, residents and visitors can bring them to the Fernandina Beach Police Department’s main lobby located at 1825 Lime Street daily between 8AM and 5PM. The drug-take back initiative is a free anonymous service. For more information about recycling in the City of Fernandina Beach please visit www.fbfl.us/recycle.

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First Historic Preservation Workshop a Success

First Historic Preservation Workshop a SuccessFernandina Beach, FL – In order to help current and prospective historic property owners learn more about their properties and how to maintain and improve them, the City of Fernandina Beach hosted a first-ever historic preservation workshop on May 19, 2012 at St. Peter’s Campus at 801 Atlantic Avenue.

Titled “Historic Preservation Matters,” this FREE event provided assistance to current and potential historic property owners through a series of workshops designed to highlight special needs of historic buildings. The following speakers addressed a variety of topics:

    • Former Nassau County Emergency Management Director and Historic District Council member Nancy Freeman tackled disaster preparedness for historic buildings
    • Interim Fire Chief Jason Higginbotham, Code Enforcement Officer Michelle Forstrom, and Detective Marty Scott of the Fernandina Beach Police Department were on hand to discuss safety and security issues
    • Lori Miranda, architect and Amelia Island Genealogical Society member, taught about researching house histories
    • Kira Lake, Conservation Supervisor with Florida Public Utilities, discussed energy efficiency
    • Tony Brauda, Executive Vice President with First Coast Community Bank, offered possibilities for financing restoration and construction
    • Steve Gaul, Extension Agent with the University of Florida/IFAS, and Marshall McCrary of the Community Development Department, talked wildlife and Florida-friendly landscaping.

childrens-programIn addition, event partners the Amelia Island Museum of History and the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN) sponsored two educational activities for children. The first, conducted by the Museum, was called “Box City” and is based on a well-known model for teaching children about city planning and architecture. The children who participated learned about zoning, historic buildings, and ultimately built their own city. The City will be on display this summer at the Museum, and will also be part of the Museum’s summer camp offerings.

The second children’s program, hosted by FPAN, was entitled “Shoebox Dig!” and taught children about archaeology through the use of layers of sand and artifacts in a shoebox. Each child made their own “dig” and learned about prehistory and history in Northeast Florida through their artifacts.

proper headstone cleaningLastly, FPAN hosted a short version of their Cemetery Resource Protection Training (CRPT) in the afternoon. This session covered cemetery management, typology, and protection strategies in a classroom setting, and illustrated proper headstone cleaning in a hands-on session at the St. Peter’s Cemetery. CRPT training is offered by FPAN as a full-day session throughout Northeast Florida.

This workshop was funded in part by a Preserve America grant offered through the Florida Division of Historical Resources. The City of Fernandina Beach is a Preserve America community. Additional funding was provided by event sponsors First Coast Community Bank, Myers Tree Service, Fast Signs, Custom Homes by Bryan Lendry, the Florida House Inn, and the Amelia Island-Fernandina Restoration Foundation. Donations not used for the event will go towards the City’s Historic Preservation Trust Fund. The City thanks all of the event participants, sponsors, partners, and volunteers who helped make this event a success.

For more information, please visit www.fbfl.us/HPMatters or contact Adrienne Burke, Historic Preservation Planner, at 904-277-7325 or aburke@fbfl.org.

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Fernandina City and the Port are Working Together

Fernandina City and the Port are Working TogetherAccording to the Fernandina Observer, the Fernandina Beach City Commission entertained the Ocean Highway and Port Authority in a working session which parties agreed was the first of its kind.

The Port’s Commercial Director, Val Schwec, indicated that 2011 was the best year yet for the port. The value of goods flowing through the port is about $400M, and 99% of the tonnage is export cargo.

Of Florida’s 15 deep-water ports, Fernandina ranks 8th.


The Fernandina Observer has been well received with many positive responses hitting their “in-box”! Susan and Doug are excited about the growth of their subscriber base.

“The positive responses to this Journal of News and Opinion are very gratifying.”

Read the complete story on FernandinaObserver.com.

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Funniest Shrimpfest Picture Contest [VIDEO]

Beech Street Blues Band in Shrimpfest Pirate's Parade

Beech Street Blues Band in Shrimpfest Pirate's Parade

During the SearchAmelia sponsored Adult Pirate Dress Contest it was announced that we are looking for the funniest Shrimpfest picture of 2012. The idea was born after seeing how far some of these pirates were willing to go, in order to win the Prize money; absolutely hilarious. A video will follow later this week as well as a video of the always entertaining Cold Stone Creamery Ice Cream Eating Contest. Come to think of it some of those shots may easily qualify for the Funniest 2012 Shrimp Festival Picture.

In any case, here is what the winning picture will get you:

A Two Night Midweek Stay for Two at the Amelia Oceanfront Bed and Breakfast on South Fletcher Ave. on our dime!

You need to email your selected picture(s) to editor@searchamelia.com or publisher@searchamelia.com before midnight May 15 and the winner will be announced on Searchamelia.com on Friday May 18.

Oh and if you’d like to maybe find yourself in one of the 300 pictures we ( Amy Kolz, Helmut Albrecht and Han Ramakers – SA took during the Pirate’s Parade, here’s your chance. The music under the video is written and performed by my friend Dick Solberg and the Sun Mountain Band. Enjoy and don’t forget to email us your favorite funny picture.

Record Auction at Annual Boys and Girls Club Dinner

Commissioner Tim Poynter in conversation with Amelia Islander Mag Pubisher Phil Kelly

Commissioner Tim Poynter in conversation with Amelia Islander Mag Pubisher Phil Kelly

An amazing 510 tickets were sold for the Annual Boys and Girls Club Dinner at the Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island last night, filling up the ballroom to capacity and resulting in $10,000 more collected from the silent auctions than last year, when the plans were unveiled for the new Fernandina Beach home for the Club on Lime Street.
More good news came with the announcement that of the $1.8 million needed for the construction and outfitting, $1.728 had been collected leaving only a $72,000 gap.
The new facility, which started construction last month is scheduled to be finished by September and last night’s grand stand support will have without any doubt collected the financial balance needed.

The dinner, orchestrated, designed and supervised by Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island’s Executive Chef Thomas Tolxdorf, was superb, and a tribute to his Farm to Table philosophy. The Romaine Lettuce Salad was easily the best tasting Romaine I’ve ever had and could have turned me into a vegan if not for the main course of Roasted Breast of Chicken and Garlic Shrimp. At the risk of sounding a bit blasé I have to admit that as a aficionado of Key Lime Pie, the Key Lime Tart served for dessert tasted so fresh that Key West’s own “Blonde Giraffe” brand pales by comparison.

Bonnie St.John, feature speaker at 2012 Boys and Gilrls Club dinner

Bonnie St.John, feature speaker at 2012 Boys and Girls Club dinner

After Club President Bill Gower made announcements of gratitude and recognition, especially highlighting the wonderful efforts from Mrs. Ann Moser on behalf of the Club, it was the turn of honor guest motivational speaker Bonnie St.John, who treated the audience to a wonderful story of her life, from poverty and physical and racial challenges in San Diego to becoming a Special Ski Olympics Silver Medal Winner, who had found strength for her journey through life from her mother, her ski instructor and the magnificent support she received from the Boys and Girls Club when she needed it the most.
Heart warming and inspiring with a message of perseverance and the motivational recognition that Gold Medals go to those people who get up faster than anyone else after being knocked down.

With deep gratitude to our host Ange Wallace of the Travel Agency, a lifelong supporter of the Boys and Girls Club, we felt once again the humbling joy of being part of this wonderful, giving  community.

Palatka News Article Suggests They Learn from Fernandina

Palatka News Article Suggests They Learn from FernandinaA news article printed in the Palatka Daily News in late December titled, Palatka commissioners might learn from Fernandina redo, suggests downtown Palatka should learn a thing or two from Fernandina Beach’s historic district. I found that comment interesting since our citizens disagree on funding the improvements needed in Fernandina.

I also found the date of the article interesting. It was published just a few weeks after the citizens voted out two commissioners in favor of once again revitalizing downtown with a loan that will be repaid by city residents on their utility bill. His public opinion printed before the election may have changed a few minds because the author is very familiar with our city.

Jody Delzell, the author of the article, was once the supervisor of the NewsLeader in Fernandina Beach and realizes that past improvements grow old. “Back around 1975, They practically rebuilt Fernandina’s Centre Street beginning with water and sewer lines, new pavement, improved parking, nice landscaping and lighting.” Mr. Delzell says.

Fernandina and Palatka face many of the same issues found in old towns everywhere. Large box retailers are driving traffic away from downtown and businesses are closing. Yes, Fernandina has an ocean, Fort Clinch and shrimp boats which help attract tourism, not to mention our old homes. In comparison, Palatka has a charming waterfront with wonderful visibility for water events and Mr. Delzell mentions …”a turn of the century hotel. (That may be one area where Palatka outshines them.)” This is likely in reference to The Keystone Hotel that was torn down in 1972 in Fernandina’s historic district. The author even mentions our Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival and how it has grown to become one of the best festivals in the Southeast.

While the article continues to compare the two towns, there is no doubt the bickering of citizens arguing over the source of funding improvements can be heard 90 miles to our south. Mr. Delzell believes we will get it worked out, and he adds that “Fernandina is making the most of its amenities,” something he is hoping for Palatka to do in this New Year. At least someone thinks we are getting it “right!”

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Bonnie St. John to speak at BGCNC’s 5th Annual Benefit

Bonnie St.John Speaks at Boys and Girls Club Annual Benefit

Bonnie St.John Speaks at Boys and Girls Club Annual Benefit

Well known author and inspirational speaker Bonnie St. John will speak at this year’s Boys & Girls Clubs of Nassau County’s 5th Annual Benefit to be held at The Ritz–Carlton, Amelia Island on February 24 at 6:00 PM.
NBC Nightly News called her “one of the five most inspiring women in America.
Bonnie is a nationally-recognized author, inspirational speaker, executive coach, former athlete, mother and TV personality.

In addition to the outstanding keynote speaker, the gala event will feature an enticing silent auction held during a cocktail hour preceding the banquet dinner. Auction items range from a fishing trip in Alaska to resort and hide-away visits to works of art. When coupled with attendance at the gala, the auction provides a major share of support for operation of the two local Boys & Girls Clubs. Success of the gala is ensured by the generosity and help of The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island management and staff.

Bonnie St. John, born in San Diego, grew up on a low-income, crime-ridden environment near Los Angeles and lost a leg at age five to a medical disorder. Yet Bonnie graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, earned her Masters degree in Economics at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. She has served as Director of the White House National Economic Council in the Clinton Administration. In 1984, she competed in the Paralympics in Austria and was the first African-American to win medals in downhill ski racing: one silver and two bronze medals.
Her quote on her Paralympics experience has resounded widely across the Nation and the Worlds: “I was ahead in the slalom. But in the second run, everyone fell at a dangerous spot. I was beaten by a woman who got up faster than I did. I learned that when people fall down, winners get up, and gold-medal winners get up faster,” a quote that was even featured on a Starbucks beverage mug.

Bonnie is the author of four books: ‘Succeeding Sane’, ‘Getting Ahead at Work’, ‘Money: Fall Down? Get Up!’ and ‘How Strong Women Pray‘. During the celebration of Black History Month in 2007, she was honored by President George W. Bush who said: “Bonnie is the kind of person you really want to be around, and the kind of person that shows individual courage matters in life.”

Bonnie with Bill Clinton

Bonnie Today

Bonnie with George Bush

As a child, Bonnie found an important source of support back home in what was the Girls Club. Consequently she was eager to come to Amelia Island and give her support to Boys & Girls Clubs here. Bonnie’s life is an example  of the success that can derive from achieving the goals of Boys & Girls Clubs: to inspire and enable all young people, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.

Another quote from Bonnie St. John illustrates why her words at the Benefit will be so meaningful: “I have faced so many difficult life situations myself – healing from sexual abuse, and family dysfunction, having my leg amputated as a child, facing race and gender discrimination, learning to be a mom, home-schooling and more.” She believes: “Everyone has the God-given capacity to live joyfully – it doesn’t depend on your circumstances. But it does require that you make the choice to identify your joys in life and take action to reach them.”

Bonnie’s experience of bouncing back from adversity has taught her that there is no “magic bullet” that solves all problems with the snap of a finger. No one diet works for all body types. No one type of emotional support or healing works for all personality types. Bonnie has discovered that the secret to her resilience and personal growth is building a patchwork quilt of solutions just for her: various exercise programs, support of friends, spending time in nature, seeking expert knowledge, reading books, and of course, always relying on prayer for guidance. Bonnie doesn’t say that what works for her will solve everyone’s problems. But her goal is to always present a myriad of choices to help make the decisions easier and the ultimate path to joy clearer for a variety of people.

Go to www.bgcnassau.org or phone (904) 261-8666 to get information on purchasing a ticket to hear Bonnie’s message and attend this exceptional Benefit event. Truly a rare opportunity to not only learn from a master in overcoming adversity, but also learning at the same time why Boys and Girls Club need your enduring support.

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