Administrator’s Report – May 7, 2010
Town Hall Meetings
- 2nd Annual Town Hall Meetings Coming in June – I am pleased to announce the 2nd annual Town Hall meetings to be held throughout St. Johns County in June. Last summer, we hosted Town Hall meetings for the first time as the County faced very difficult budget decisions. The community dialogue and feedback that ensued was critical to the final 2010 budget adopted by the County Commission. While I do not anticipate a millage rate or tax increase this year, I do believe enhanced communication with the community is still extremely important, especially in relation to several forthcoming financial challenges that will be facing the County in future years. While the 2010 Town Hall presentation will discuss the 2011 budget, it will also begin to examine a long-term financial strategy for St. Johns County and pose questions for the future. Each presentation will include a time for questions and answers, and you also will be invited to provide feedback following the meetings via a dedicated email account and telephone line. More information at www.sjcfl.us/townhall.
- Town Hall Meeting Schedule:
- Thursday, June 3rd – 3:00 pm, St. Augustine Beach City Hall
- Monday, June 7th – 6:30 pm, Southeast Branch Library
- Thursday, June 10th – 6:30 pm, Hastings Town Hall
- Monday, June 14th – 9:00 am, St. Johns County Auditorium (Civic Roundtable meeting)
- Thursday, June 17th – 6:30 pm, Fruit Cove Middle School
- Tuesday, June 22nd – 6:30 pm, Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library
- Thursday, June 24th – 6:30 pm, St. Johns County Convention Center at World Golf Village (in the Renaissance)
- St. Johns County had a 77% Census Mail Participation Rate – Thank you to all citizens who helped St. Johns County achieve a 77 percent mail participation rate for the 2010 U.S. Census. The 77 percent is above the County’s 2000 rate and the 2010 state and national rates, all three of which were 72 percent. However, if you have not yet been counted, it is not too late. Citizens may call 1-866-872-6868 and complete the Census via telephone. This option is available 7 days a week between 8 am and 9 pm. By completing the Census over the phone, residents can avoid having a census taker knock on their door.
- Door to Door Counting has Begun – If you have not mailed in your form nor completed the Census via telephone, then expect a Census enumerator to knock on your door soon. Door-to-door enumeration by the Census Bureau began this week and is expected to last into July. According to the Census website, all census takers carry an official badge and a shoulder bag — both with the Department of Commerce seal — and a binder. During a visit, census takers will show ID and hand respondents an information sheet explaining that their answers are confidential. The census taker will complete the questionnaire, which should take about 10 minutes. If no one is home, a "notice of visit" will be left at the door inviting the resident to call the census taker to complete the form over the phone.
- Importance of Census – This is the last chance for St. Johns County citizens to be counted. A full count in the once-a-decade Census is our opportunity to be fully represented in both the state and national legislatures, where seats are determined by population. Census data also heavily influences how more than $400 billion federal dollars will be allocated during the next ten years. Those dollars are returned in many ways, including grants for parks, libraries, transportation projects, education programs, college financial assistance, social services, health care facilities, job training programs, housing, and much more. A full Census count in St. Johns County is crucial to the future success of our community. For more information, call 1-866-872-6868 or visit www.census2010.gov.
- 4-H Day at the Capitol – A delegation of ten from the St. Johns County 4-H Program joined nearly 500 other 4-H members, volunteers, and staff for 4-H Day at the Capital. In addition to visiting the Museum of Florida History and the Black History Building, the delegations from St. Johns County and Putnam County also met with Senator Tony Hill and Representative William Proctor. We are proud to announce that during this legislative session, three St. Johns County 4-H youth have their state winning photos displayed in legislator’s offices.
- Flower & Garden Expo – The EPIC Community Service’s Flower & Garden Expo was held at the Agricultural Center with 2,600 attendees. The St. Johns County Master Gardeners planted over 6,000 annuals in support of the event, which included clinics, lectures, and tours of the facility. The event also included rain barrel construction, a flower show, and a quilt show.
- Green Industries: Best Management Practices – During the past two weeks the horticulture faculty and staff have conducted “Green Industries: Best Management Practices” certification classes for English and Spanish speaking audiences. Since November 2009, 91 individuals in St. Johns County have been trained in the Green Industries: Best Management Practice classes. The next class will be June 23rd. Please go to http://stjohns.ifas.ufl.edu/GI-BMP.shtml for more information.
Cultural Events Division
- April Has Come and Gone – There is no rest for the weary over at the St. Johns County Cultural Events Division. April has come and gone, and with it went Alice in Chains and My Morning Jacket concerts as well as Epic’s Taste of St. Augustine and YouthQuake Live. Closing out the month last weekend was the 15th Annual Gamble Rogers Folk Festival, which rocked in its new downtown St. Augustine location. Utilizing nine separate venues, the sounds of folk, bluegrass, and Americana could be heard through the streets of the nation’s oldest city. An estimated more than 2,000 enjoyed the three-day festival.
- Exciting Events in May – As we move into May, please join us for more exciting events. The Hastings Potato & Cabbage Festival is back in a big way this Saturday, May 8th featuring The Lee Boys and local blues artist Willie Green. It will be held at the Hastings Recreation Field and City Hall with free admission. Also, don’t forget Creed on May 20th at the Amphitheatre. The Night Owl Cinema is also continuing, a great fun and affordable outing with the family. The film “Rocky” shows on May 7th and “Charlotte’s Web” on May 22nd. For details, visit www.staugamphitheatre.com.
- County Receives Grant for Energy Conservation – Jay Kamys, Special Projects Coordinator, with the cooperation of the Engineering and Building Departments along with the Environmental staff, secured a competitive energy conservation grant of $437,902. St. Johns County was fortunate to have the grant team’s experience and education, as we were one of only 14 applicants in the State to receive this funding. The grant will be used to re-synchronize traffic signals to improve traffic flow along five major road segments in the County that will result in saving fuel consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Funds will also be used to develop a proactive energy program that will provide technical assistance and training workshops for the community on energy efficient building techniques.
- Party’s Over Program – St. Johns County Fire Rescue recently partnered with the School District, Sheriff’s Office, and Tax Collector to deliver the “Party’s Over” reenactment for St. Johns County high-school students at Creekside and Pedro Menendez High School. The program is presented across the nation to junior and senior level students prior to annual prom and graduation events. It is a visual drama depicting an alcohol-related accident that occurs at the conclusion of a parent supervised high school party. The program is highly emotional and is designed to quickly educate students on the dangers and consequences of alcohol and drug abuse. The program is a joint effort of many community agencies and would not be possible without numerous sponsorships and support provided by the St. Johns County community.
- Proposed Projects – Development Review staff attended community meetings during April to provide outreach assistance. One meeting was in the northwest to discuss a proposed communications antenna tower, and a second in West Augustine discussed transitional housing. Information on proposed projects can be found on the Growth Management website at www.sjcfl.us/growthmanagement.
- Revised Use and Design Standards – The Growth Management Department presented the first reading of revised Use and Design Standards to the Board of County Commissioners on May 4th. Additional hearings will include the Planning and Zoning Agency on May 20th and the BCC again on June 1st. Additionally, a stakeholders meeting was held in March to discuss the changes. The revisions of Use and Design Standards incorporate proposed community based changes for Special Uses, included modifications to the Marina definitions based on the Water Dependent Land Use Study, adjustments to the Ponte Vedra Palm Valley Overlay boundary, parking, and signage provisions. Interested persons may contact Lindsay Haga for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-0591.
Health & Human Services
- Retiring Foster Parent – The St. Johns County Family Integrity Program will soon say goodbye to a valued foster parent when Ms. Jackie Licata retires. Ms. Licata was originally licensed in 2002 and since then has had over 100 foster care placements. Michael McMorrow with the Family Integrity Program had nothing but praise for Ms. Licata when describing her. “Over the past eight years, when the phone rang in the middle of the night for a kid that needed somewhere to go, Jackie has been the one to answer,” he said. On May 4th, Ms. Licata was honored at the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners meeting, along with the entire Family Integrity Program in recognition of May as Foster Care Awareness Month. St. Johns County is always recruiting new foster parents, especially now that they are saying goodbye to one of the best. To date, the Family Integrity Program has exceeded its adoption goals for the year by 150 percent! To learn more about becoming a foster parent, please contact Michael McMorrow at (904) 209-6130.
- Independent Living Program – Teens in the St. Johns County Independent Living Program that are involved in life skills classes will learn how to make skills training, organized by Independent Living Coordinators, includes food preparation and career exploration. Red Lobster has agreed to allow six youth ages 13 to 17 to come to the restaurant to learn, and the staff will conduct a class on career and employment opportunities with Red Lobster.
- GED Courses Offered – For the first time, the Family Integrity Program will be hosting GED courses at its resource center provided by First Coast Technical College for youth and young adults who under their supervision or are part of the Independent Living Program.
- Event Planners Needed – Friends of Health and Human Services is looking for volunteers interested in helping plan events and activities to celebrate and support our clients and services. Interested people should contact Jeanne Heaton at 209-6100.
- Local Landscape Company Recognized for Donation – In a gesture well received by St. Johns County, local landscape supplier the “Greenery” donated three truckloads of mulch to the County Health Center complex on US-1 South. The estimated cost of the mulch was $800. St. Johns County would like to thank the owner and staff of the “Greenery” for their generous donation.
- State Aid to Libraries Saved – The Library System would like to express gratitude to everyone who provided advocacy and support that resulted in the rescue of the State Aid to Libraries Program. For the second year in a row, our citizens and local officials have saved the day, and we are sincerely grateful for their support. As always, your St. Johns County Public Library System will work hard to continue to merit such support throughout the year.
- Smithsonian Documentary at Southeast Branch Library – The Southeast Branch Library will host a special screening of the new Smithsonian documentary “Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story” on Saturday, May 22nd at 1 pm. The library was selected as 1 of 30 libraries nationwide to show this documentary. The documentary is about the Federal Writers’ Project, under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) of newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The controversial project put to work thousands of unemployed writers, including Richard Wright, Saul Bellow, John Cheever, and St. Augustine’s own Stetson Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy will be on hand to answer questions, and door prizes will be given away and light refreshments will be provided by the Friends of the Southeast Branch Library. For more information please call the Southeast Branch Library at (904) 827-6900 or log on to www.sjcpls.org.
- Summer Programs Coming – Many programs and events were held in April to celebrate National Library Week, and now we are gearing up for a summer of Florida Library Youth Programs. Throughout the summer, library staff will partner with volunteers and the Friends of the Library groups to present an outstanding slate of programs and performers. Families look forward to these extra special events each summer, and it goes a long way to support the learning readiness of young people, ultimately creating lifelong learners and library users. Stay tuned for details.
- Free Movies – Another great deal at the library is the ongoing program of movies we show at all locations. It is a great deal with free movies and free refreshments. Movies, including new releases, are also available for checkout. Find them at www.sjcpls.org.
- St. Johns Reads Ideas? – If you are really looking ahead, the Library is taking suggestions for a book for St. Johns Reads 2011. Give suggestions for the community-wide reading program here (http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TTCBYKJ).
- Employee of the Year – Congratulations to Jessica Earl from the Marine Rescue Division, who was honored last week as the St. Johns County 2009 Employee of the Year. Earl works as a Marine Rescue Lieutenant with St. Johns County Fire Rescue and was selected from a very talented and deserving group of nominees for this special award. Earl played a key role in the development of the Marine Rescue Program and has instructed and trained approximately 40 St. Johns County Fire Rescue members. She is also heavily involved in the County’s Junior Life Guard Program, where she has helped create an educational and fun environment for aspiring lifeguards. Jessica completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Administration in December 2009 from Flagler College, showing a great interest in personal development. Earl also was directly responsible for the rescue of a distressed swimmer in Crescent Beach on August 24, 2009. Betty Ann Frederick from the Library System and Ivan Burrell from Road and Bridge were also acknowledged as runners up for the employee of the year award. Congratulations to all three for their outstanding public service.
- More Recycled Items Now Accepted – The Solid Waste Division, in partnership with our franchised haulers, is now accepting more items to be recycled curbside. At no additional costs, the number of items collected has increased from 7 to 21. For a full listing and more information visit Solid Waste here or call 827-6980.
- Corona Project Delayed – The construction of a safety and drainage improvement project known as the Corona Road Weir is on hold until after Labor Day to accommodate the local residents’ desires for uninterrupted beach access during the summer. The Ponte Vedra Municipal Service District and St. Johns County worked together with the public to reach this decision. The programmed work at the Corona Road Weir is to replace sidewalks, fences, and resurface the road in the area of the weir structure that is used to control water elevations in the lagoons north of the Guana channel.
Recreation and Parks
- Recreation Tidbits – All sorts of recreation leagues are going on, so there is something for everyone. Adult beach volleyball sign-ups will begin the week of May 17th. Also, adult slow pitch softball is in full swing at Treaty Park. Contact Joe Shakar at 209-0385 for volleyball or softball information. Also, activities at the Solomon Calhoun Community Center include open swim, swim lessons, and lap swim. Contact Maria Johnson at 471-9622 for more information. Learn about other activities at www.sjcfl.us and click Recreation & Parks.
- Sea Turtle Nesting Season – The Sea Turtles are on their way back to nest on the beaches of St. Johns County as the official nesting season began May 1st. To ensure compliance with the St. Johns County Habitat Conservation Plan and Incidental Take Permit, which protect five species of sea turtles and the native Anastasia Island Beach Mouse, beach driving and lighting restrictions are now in effect. Between May 1st and October 31st, vehicular traffic on the beach is allowed only between the hours of 8:00 am and 7:30 pm. Additionally, all beachfront properties are required to reduce the impacts their lights have on the beaches and eliminate all non-compliant interior and exterior lights. For more information, call 209-3740 or visit www.sjcfl.us/hcp.
- Beach Tips – Please remember these tips when using the beach:
- Use trash and recycling receptacles at the beach
- Remove ruts and fill in holes left by vehicles and sand castle building
- Do not leave chairs, umbrellas or canopies on the beach over night (they will be removed by County staff)
- Flashlights, fireworks and open fires are strictly prohibited
- All pedestrian activities (sitting, standing, storing personal property, driving, horseback riding, etc.) are prohibited in the sand dunes and the Conservation Zone (15 feet seaward of the dune line)
- Please refrain from using balloons for events, as they fall into the ocean and can harm marine life
- Leave only your footprints, providing the turtles with a safe and clean habitat in which to nest
- Do not disturb or handle any sea turtles, their eggs or nests. Endangered species are protected by County, State and Federal Laws with fines up to $20,000.
- If you encounter an injured, sick or dead sea turtle, please call the St. Johns County Coastal Wildlife pager at (904) 227-0023.
Tourist Development Council
- TDC Accepting Funding Applications – The St. Johns County Tourist Development Council is now accepting funding applications to assist not-for-profit groups in staging special events or cultural programming aimed at attracting visitors to St. Johns County. The available funding comes from a four-percent bed tax collected by the County on short-term accommodations such as hotel, campground, or condominium rentals. The guidelines and application can be found on the St. Johns County website at this link: http://www.sjcfl.us/tdc/programs.aspx under “Category 2 Application.” The deadline for submitting applications is 4:00 PM, Friday, May 14, 2010. For more information or assistance with the application, please contact Dena Masters, TDC Office Manager, at 209-4440.
- Hiring Continues at New State Veterans’ Nursing Home – The Clyde E. Lassen State Veterans’ Nursing Home in St. Johns County continues its hiring. On May 1, nearly 70 positions were listed, including registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and certified nursing assistants. Also, food service worker positions and support service aides are needed. The nursing home is also looking to fill positions for a veteran’s claims examiner, accountant, maintenance repairman, senior ward clerk, staff developer, risk manager, medical records worker, social worker, and MDS coordinator. The 120-bed facility, set to open in late 2010, will eventually include more than 170 employees. To apply for jobs, go to jobs.myflorida.com, where all vacancies for the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs are found under the “DVA” category. For more information, call (850) 487-1533 or visit www.FloridaVets.org.