Administrator’s Report – April 9, 2010
- St. Johns Counts – Thanks to all our St. Johns County residents who have completed your Census form and mailed it in. As of Friday morning, St. Johns County’s participation rate is 69 percent, ahead of both the state average of 62 percent and the national average of 64 percent. If you haven’t yet completed your form, there is still time. The Census will begin visiting households that did not mail back a Census form in May. If you need a form or assistance filling out your form, please visit one of the Questionnaire Assistance Centers or Be Counted Sites. A list of St. Johns County help sites is at www.stjohnscounts.com/help.htm. Also, check out www.stjohnscounts.com for a running participation rate, updated daily, and more information.
- Touchdown Jacksonville Brings Team Teal to St. Johns County – You are invited to join Team Teal Commissioner Tony Boselli, Jaguars Coach Jack Del Rio, and our own County Commissioners for a Team Teal St. Johns County rally. The event will be Tuesday, April 27, 6:00 – 8:00 pm at the St. Johns County Convention Center, located in World Golf Village at 500 S. Legacy Trail in St. Augustine, 32092. St. Johns County has a vested interest in the success of the Jacksonville Jaguars, as their presence makes a huge impact on the economy of the entire northeast Florida region. Come learn about exclusive ticket incentives for the 2010 season from Jaguars sales staff, and meet Jaguars players and the Roar cheerleaders. Refreshments and a cash bar will be available. This event is hosted by St. Johns County, the Tourist Development Council, the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, and the Ponte Vedra Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Art in Public Spaces
- Painting the Region: The Bartram Trail – Through a partnership with the St. Johns Cultural Council, we are proud to announce the next exhibit of the Art in Public Spaces program. “Painting the Region: The Bartram Trail” will be displayed in the County Administration Building April 19 through July. Featuring the beauty and talents of northwest St. Johns County, this artwork is from The North Florida Land Trust’s collection of works created during Painting the Region, a week-long art event held during October 2009 in and around the Julington Creek area and along the William Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway. All works were painted outdoors en plein air with the subject directly in view rather than in a studio. En plein air is a French expression which means "in open air," and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors. The public is invited to join us for an opening reception prior to the St. Johns County Commission meeting on Tuesday, April 20, from 8:30 to 9:00 am. The opening also will showcase the talents of high school students from the northwest region, and the Men’s Chorus from Bartram Trail High School will perform at 8:45 am. Light refreshments will be served.
- Wind Mitigation and Resource Center – Members from the Della Robia Circle Garden Club toured the Wind Mitigation and Resource Conservation Building and learned ways to retrofit their home with wind resistant and energy efficient materials. The building serves as the Northeast Florida regional facility to disseminate information related to all aspects of enhancing wind resistance of existing and new housing. Areas of the home with enhanced focus include the walls, garage doors, safe room, windows, and roof. More information about the facility is available here on the IFAS website.
- 4-H Youth Development Program – Twenty-eight St. Johns County 4-H youth qualified at the county level to compete in Public Speaking, 4-H Demonstrations and Share the Fun talent presentations at the district level on April 24th at 10 am at Cunningham Creek Elementary School. Public speaking continues to be a major focus for the St. Johns County 4-H Program, as it helps build confidence, communicate ideas, set goals, and do research.
- Horticulture Program – On March 20th, 60 homeowners attended the Gardening Blitz, an intensive day of concurrent horticulture classes. Some lecture topics were native plants, hydroponics, vegetable gardening, and citrus culture, with Master Gardeners serving as presenters of most of the classes. Additionally, Master Gardeners donated over 400 oranges from their trees that were used at the St. Johns County Employee Health Fair.
- Code Enforcement Collects 8,200 Signs in 2009 – Code Enforcement has provided the following information regarding cases of illegal signs in 2009. A total of 1,004 cases involving signs were investigated, and 8,200 signs were off loaded, a total of 6,800 pounds. Additionally, code enforcement officers issued 176 written warnings and 89 citations. A total of 25 cases were taken before a Special Magistrate. These ongoing efforts by code enforcement staff help keep St. Johns County beautiful.
- West Augustine Structure Demolished – A known drug and prostitution house at 286 N. Volusia Ave was recently demolished. The elimination of this structure was well received by deputies, who had hundreds of calls to the house, and the citizens who live in the West Augustine area. The project was a combined effort of the County's Real Estate Department, Code Enforcement, and the Housing Department with a watchful eye from the Weed and Seed Steering Committee.
Cultural Events Division
- Amphitheatre Upcoming Events – The St. Augustine Amphitheatre kicked off the 2010 concert season with legendary music from the Moody Blues and Aretha Franklin performing in front of sold out crowds in March. March also brought the Southern Exposure Music & Heritage Festival, the Harvest of Hope Music Festival, and Chris Tomlin. April hopes to be just as exciting with 90's rockers Alice in Chains playing on April 25th followed by My Morning Jacket on April 27th. The last weekend in April the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival will be hosted in various venues in downtown St. Augustine. This event, in its new format, is not to be missed. The Amphitheatre will also be home to many non-profit events in the coming months including YouthQuake Live, Epic's Taste of St. Augustine, and the St. Johns County Education Foundation’s Art Attack. Night Owl Cinema has also returned to the Amphitheatre with completely free movies on designated Friday and Saturday nights. Next up is Twilight on April 10th, Rocky on May 7th, and Charlotte’s Web on May 22nd. For more information and a complete list of events, visit www.staugamphitheatre.com.
- Staff Member Attends Jacksonville Career Fair – Amy Meide, Land Resource Coordinator, participated in a career fair at the MaliVai Washington Kid’s Foundation Center in Jacksonville last month. At the career fair, which targeted underserved youth in the Jacksonville area, approximately 20 kids spoke with Amy about being a biologist, what a land manager does, and the courses and degrees necessary to do her type of work. Congratulations to Amy for representing St. Johns County well.
- New Statewide Radio Data System – For the past two years, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (DEM) has been working with viaRadio to implement the statewide infrastructure for an FM-based, RBDS (Radio Broadcast Data System) emergency warning system for individual County use in emergency alerting and notification. This state-funded program has been tested in select areas and is now expanding to all counties, including St. Johns. The new system provides a turn-key platform for disaster warning and communication outreach to citizens, government officials, and emergency management teams using FM radio infrastructure. The unlimited, time-sensitive notices quickly advise about disasters and provide community outreach notifications through specialized receivers, email, and cell phones, even when power, phone, and internet are out. The radio receivers also carry NOAA weather warnings and have a 60-hour battery life in case of power outages. State appropriations cover all the costs of the system, which includes 10 receivers in St. Johns County, equipment for radio stations in the area, and the recurring maintenance and operations cost for the first full year of operation. We expect the system to be fully active in June of this year.
- Fire Rescue Participates in Drill at Camp Blanding – The St. Johns County Fire Rescue Special Operations team participated in the Operation Integration drill at Camp Blanding in March. This mock terrorist scenario involved a chemical attack, explosive devices, a building collapse, and several other significant events. Numerous state and national teams participated, and the St. Johns County team was paired with Indiana Task Force 1. Some missions included immediate rescue of numerous surface victims; decontamination; confined space rescue of victim entrapped in concrete slabs, wire, in a vehicle, under concrete, and in a concrete vault; and search and rescue of a victim pinned under a vehicle located down an embankment. The intensity and technical skill required to mitigate these events are exceptional, and our team’s feedback from state evaluators consisted of high appreciation and praise. As a department, the hard work and dedication to these event types was reflected. Additionally, as a county, we are proud to offer such a high level of service to our jurisdiction and all surrounding counties who are in need of assistance. See photos from the event.
- Floodplain Awareness – St. Johns County residents are reminded that the upcoming hurricane season may subject our area to intense rainfall, and Florida is one of the leading states in the nation for flood-damage claims. The County participates in the Community Rating System (CRS), which is a voluntary effort to promote floodplain awareness and protection. As a participant in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), residents cannot be turned down for flood insurance, regardless of the flood zone assigned to the property. As a reminder, homeowner policies typically do not cover flood-related damages, and residents are encouraged to contact the County to understand the specifics of their properties. St. Johns County’s participation in the CRS has resulted in a 20 percent discount on flood insurance policies issued in known hazard areas. Please contact Ben Powelson in Development Review at 209-0666 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you need additional information. In addition, www.fema.gov/nfip has information on flood insurance, as well as information on the differences between zones, coastal construction, and floodplain management principles.
- Comprehensive Plan Update and Amendment Transmittal – On March 16, 2010, the Board of County Commissioners transmitted the 2025 Comprehensive Plan to the Department of Community Affairs (DCA). DCA is the State Land Planning Agency and is responsible to review all Comprehensive Plan amendments for compliance with State Growth Management Law. DCA has found the amendment package complete and it is under review. It is anticipated the County will receive comments by the end of May. In addition to the 2025 Comprehensive Plan Update, the DCA transmittal package included two separate Regular Cycle amendments submitted by property owners or their representative. The 2025 Comprehensive Plan Update transmittal package may be reviewed on the County website. For additional information on the 2025 Comprehensive Plan Update and the two Regular Cycle amendments, please contact Teresa Bishop, Long Range Planning Director at (904) 209-0581 or email@example.com.
Health and Human Services
- Child Abuse Prevention Month – St. Johns County has recognized April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. Proclamations are being adopted by the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners, Town of Hastings, City of St. Augustine, City of St. Augustine Beach, and St. Johns County School Board. In addition, the Hastings Ministerial Alliance, the St. Johns County Recreation Department and the St. Johns County Community Resource Center are collaborating in presenting a 5K Fun Walk on Saturday, April 17th, starting at 201 W. Lattin Street in Hastings. After the Walk, the 4th Annual Car and Truck Show will begin at the Hastings Recreation Department. For more information on the 5K Fun Walk, contact Brenda Ware at (904) 209-6080 ext. 4070. For the Car and Truck Show, contact Keith Hutcheson at (904) 540-2644.
- Trauma and Substance Abuse Training – Gateway Community Services held Trauma and Substance Abuse Training for the Health and Human Services staff and the St. Johns County community on March 26th. Gateway Community Services is one of 50 centers nationwide that has joined with The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) to advance the understanding and treatment of child traumatic stress. The training provided continuing education credits to many of our therapists and providers, making them better prepared to serve the public.
Housing and Community Services
- Do You Dream of Owning Your Own Home? – To find out more about the St. Johns County Homeownership Program and to see if you qualify for any of the state or federal purchase assistance programs, please review the St. Johns County Homeownership Program brochure available at the St. Johns County Library Main Branch or on our website at www.sjcfl.us/Housing/HomeOwnProgram/index.aspx.
- Deadline Reminder – The Florida First Time Homebuyer Opportunity Program (FHOP) provides up to $8,000 in purchase assistance to first time homebuyers who qualify. Recipients must be eligible to receive the federal first time homebuyer tax credit established through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and the home must be purchased by April 30, 2010. For more information, call the Housing Department at (904) 827-6890.
- National Library Week – The St. Johns County Public Library System will kick-off National Library week on April 11th. National Library Week is an annual celebration of the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians. All types of libraries participate, including school, public, academic, and special. Each branch library in St. Johns event at the Bartram Trail Branch Library on April 12th at 5:45 pm. The library will stream a live lecture by the honorary chairman of National Library Week, 2009 Newberry Medal winner Neil Gaiman. Gaiman will talk about his lifelong love of libraries and the role they play in a democratic society by supporting intellectual freedom and privacy. For a complete schedule of events at St. Johns County libraries, log on to www.sjcpls.org.
- Increased Recycling in Honor of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day – The Solid Waste Management Division would like to announce the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day by giving back to residents of St. Johns County by going even greener and accepting more items to be recycled in St. Johns County. Both of the residential franchised haulers, Advanced Disposal and Seaboard Waste Systems, have teamed with St. Johns County to collect even more recyclable items curbside. They will be delivering an additional 14-gallon recycling bin to all customers to allow for the expected increase in recycling. The items that will now be accepted include: plastic bottles and jugs labeled #1 through #7; empty pill bottles; water bottles; green, brown and clear glass bottles; metal and aluminum cans; cereal boxes (with the inserts discarded); newspapers and inserts; junk mail; magazines; catalogs; telephone books; brown paper bags; corrugated cardboard (cut into 2x3 sheets); office and copy paper; shredded paper in a closed paper bag; file folders; file or packing boxes; and brown or gray fiber packages. Items that will not be collected are plastic bags, milk cartons, juice boxes, motor oil containers, pool chemical bottles, pesticide or fertilizer bottles, and loose shredded paper.
- Community Collection Day – On March 20th the Solid Waste Management Division coordinated a special Community Collection Day event held in the TPC parking lot in Ponte Vedra. They collected household hazardous waste, waste tires, and obsolete electronics from St. Johns County residents. The event gave residents an opportunity to drop off these items at no charge at a convenient location, and the total number of residents was 723. The net weight collected was 5,620 pounds of garbage, 7,960 pounds of oil and hazardous waste, 8,700 pounds of electronics, and 12,920 pounds of paint and tires.
- NAPA Becomes Primary Parts Supplier – The Fleet Management Division has announced that as of April 1, 2010, NAPA is the primary supplier of vehicle parts. This contract provides for an in-house, just-in-time parts supply to the County’s Fleet Maintenance shop that is expected to lower the cost of parts, while also decreasing the time and County staff required in obtaining necessary parts.
- Right-Of-Way Permitting Tracking Ahead in 2010 – The Right-of-Way Permitting Section of the Engineering Division is currently tracking well ahead of the number of permits issued for the same period in 2009. Recent permitted projects include the Teco Peoples Gas project for approximately 19,000 linear feet of gas main along Ponte Vedra Boulevard and Corona Road. Also, the Beaches Energy permit is nearing completion of Phase 1 of a 3 Phase project that will take approximately 2 years to complete and will move utilities underground along Ponte Vedra Boulevard. The Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) recently reviewed and approved a major revision to its electrical distribution project that will supply power to the new Bartram Feeder Substation in northwest St. Johns County. Also, a second JEA Right-of-Way Permit is pending as JEA has advised Engineering that a design is being completed on a project that will upgrade their water main facilities from Duval County and include most of Ponte Vedra Boulevard.
Recreation and Parks
- Earth Day Activities – Earth Day is April 17th and, as part of the celebration, the 6th annual Bartram Bash will be at Alpine Groves Park. Alpine Groves Park is situated between the beautiful St. Johns River and the William Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway, 2060 State Road 13, Switzerland. The event will begin at 9:00 am with a decorated bicycle parade and such activities as musical entertainment, riverfront kayak tours, lunch, and walks along beautiful trails, with activities lasting until 4:00 pm. All events are free and for the entire family. Contact Beverly Fleming if additional information is needed at (904) 522-1573.
- 4th Annual Sea Turtle Festival – April 17th is also the date of the 4th Annual Sea Turtle Festival, which will be from 10:00 am - 3:00 pm at the St. Johns County Pier Pavilion park and beach. Families will have the opportunity to learn about ocean conservation from local experts as they participate in hands-on activities focused primarily on sea turtles and other coastal wildlife. Other activities include shopping at earth-friendly vendor booths for handmade items, enjoying foods from local restaurant Purple Olive, and listening to music provided by local musicians such as BLUE, Saltwater Cowgirls, and Aslyn and the Naysayers. Also, beginning at 9:00 am will be a clean-up of the St. Johns County Pier Park held on the north side of the pier. A prize will be awarded to the participant who collects the most cigarette butts at the park and the adjacent beach. All are invited to attend.
- Annual Easter Egg Hunt – The Recreation and Parks Department sponsored their annual Easter Egg Hunt on Thursday, April 1st at four parks around the county, including Davis Park, Veterans Park, Treaty Park, and the Walter E. Harris Community Center. Approximately 1,150 children, 8 years and under visited with the Easter Bunny and participated in the free egg hunt. Some left with prizes because they found the prize eggs, but everyone left with a smile.
Tourist Development Council
- Tourist Development Plan Revised – The Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday approved an amended Tourist Development Plan which outlines how the proceeds of the county’s Local Option Tourist Development Tax (commonly known as the “bed tax”) will be used. The tax is applied on short-term accommodation rentals such as hotels and campground spaces; it is primarily paid by tourists visiting St. Johns County. The rate was recently increased from 3 percent to 4 percent. The uses of this tax money are restricted by Florida Statute 125.0104. In St. Johns County, it provides funding for tourism marketing programs through the Visitors and Convention Bureau, cultural programs and special events, tourist related infrastructure projects like the county piers, dune walk-overs, the amphitheatre, the convention center, and even some county boat ramps and beach parking areas. Under the new County Ordinance passed by the Commission, there are four categories of “bed tax” uses: Destination Marketing, Arts & Culture, Leisure & Recreation, and Administration/Special Uses/Special Events. The changes approved by the Commission became effective April 1st.
- Sawgrass Wastewater Treatment Facility Open House – The public is invited to tour the new Sawgrass Wastewater Treatment facility at an open house event on April 28th from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm. The event marks the long awaited odor control system for the Sawgrass Wastewater Treatment Facility becoming fully operational. The project utilizes state-of-the-art technology to remove 99 percent of hydrogen sulfide gases, which have caused “rotten egg” complaints for years. The $1.85 million project was identified during due diligence and funded through the county’s acquisition of Intercoastal Utilities. For anyone who would like to attend the event, the plant is located at 10042 Sawgrass Drive West. Refreshments will be provided.