Administrator’s Report – June 15, 2011
Burn Ban in St. Johns County
A burn ban has been issued for St. Johns County through September 7, 2011. The burn ban is due to unfavorable weather conditions including lack of substantial rainfall, high temperatures, worsening drought, and significant wind. The burn ban pertains to residential outdoor burning such as leaves, yard debris, fireworks (of any kind), campfires, flares or other outdoor burning devices. Outdoor barbeque grills and cooking devices are still allowed.
The ban prohibits the discharge of ALL fireworks for private use, although provisions allow for specially-permitted public fireworks displays on July 4th.
St. Johns County Fire Rescue and the Division of Forestry continue to monitor numerous fires within our county. At this time all fires are contained, but both agencies will continue to “mop up” and overhaul the burn areas to prevent further flare ups. Click here for more information about the burn ban and the ordinance. Find fire prevention and brush fire safety information on the Division of Forestry website at www.fl-dof.com.
Town Hall Meetings
- Three Meetings Remain – I appreciate everyone who has attended one of the Town Hall meetings this year, as well as everyone who has submitted feedback via email or voicemail. If you have been unable to attend, consider coming to one of the remaining three meetings:
- Thursday, June 16th – 6:30 pm – Bartram Trail Branch Library
- Wednesday, June 22nd – 6:30 pm – Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library
- Monday, June 27th – 6:30 pm – Main Library in St. Augustine
Florida Trend Magazine
- St. Johns County Featured – Be sure to check out the May issue of Florida Trend Magazine, which features an impressive profile of St. Johns County. The community portrait, as it is termed, explores many components of St. Johns County, including the beauty, demographics, history, tourism, beaches, agriculture, industry, businesses, quality of life, arts and culture, education, recreation, and more. The value of this exposure is tremendous for St. Johns County economic development and tourism, as Florida Trend averages 153,000 readers each month, including many business executives. As residents of St. Johns County, we have much to be proud of.
Sea Turtle Season
- Sea Turtle Season – We are now in the midst of the official sea turtle nesting season, which lasts May 1st through October 31st. 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. Vehicular traffic on the beach is allowed 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. Residents and visitors are encouraged to follow beach guidelines located here on the county website. For more information on the St. Johns County Habitat Conservation Plan, visit www.sjcfl.us/hcp.
- Currently 96 Nests Have Been Found – A total of 96 nests have already been found this year, most of which are loggerheads. This follows the record-breaking 2010 season for St. Johns County with a total of 867 turtle nests on the 41 miles of beaches, including over 56,000 hatchlings. 2010 had the highest number of nests since the County began keeping records in 1988 and far above the previous annual average of 255. If you observe a nesting sea turtle or hatchlings emerging from a nest, maintain a safe distance so you don’t disturb them or their travel to and from the ocean. In the event you discover an injured turtle on the beach, please contact the wildlife pager at (904) 227-0023.
Board and Committee Vacancies
- Volunteers Sought for Advisory Boards and Committees – The Board of County Commissioners has numerous boards and committees, made up of volunteers that advise the Commission on specific topics. Vacancies are updated periodically and are posted here on the County website, along with information about how to apply. Currently there are vacancies for the Land Acquisition & Management Program (LAMP). Contact BCC Manager Melissa Lundquist at (904) 209-0563 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to obtain an application.
Health Department Receives Sterling Award
- Governor Rick Scott Awards Excellence – Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Sterling Council have awarded the St. Johns County Health Department the prestigious Governor’s Sterling Sustained Performance Excellence Award for 2011. The Governor’s Sterling Award is the highest award a private or public organization can receive for performance excellence in Florida. A 2009 Governor’s Sterling Award recipient, the St. Johns County Health Department is one of the first organizations in Florida and the first County Health Department to be awarded the Sustained Performance Excellence Award. The Sterling Panel of Judges recognized the St. Johns County Health Department as a role model organization that continues to demonstrate organizational performance and excellence in the seven categories of the Sterling Criteria, which include: Leadership; Strategic Planning; Customer Focus; Measurement, Analysis and Knowledge Management; Workforce Focus; Process Management; and Results. Congratulations to Dr. Dawn Allicock and her staff on this outstanding achievement.
- 4-H Youth Development – The 4-H youth have stayed busy with the District 6 Events Day on April 30th, where activities included project demonstrations, speeches, and a variety of talent acts. Additionally, a delegation traveled to Tallahassee on April 27th for 4-H Day at the Capitol. Also, on April 30th 4-H volunteers raised $120 for the Florida Agricultural Museum by selling refreshments at the barrel races at the fairgrounds.
- Horticulture – The 16th Annual Flower & Garden Expo hosted by EPIC Community Services was a huge success. Additionally, the St. Johns County Vegetable Gardening Contest was held in May with 51 garden entries. In conjunction with the beginning of hurricane season June 1st, the Annual Hurricane Party was hosted at the Wind Mitigation Resource Conservation Training building, where 30 participants were educated on better preparedness for a natural disaster, as well as homeowner’s insurance, pet care, and fresh water supply after the storm.
- Agriculture – Approximately 3,000 people attended the Hastings Potato and Cabbage Festival on May 7th. The festival kicked off with a 5K Spud Run and the one-mile Cabbage Crawl, followed by the festival of food, music, local artist exhibits, educational booths, and fun for the whole family. Additionally, the 1st annual “Tour de Farm” event was an overwhelming success with approximately 2,100 individuals from 15 counties participating in the one-day opportunity to visit local farms. At Sykes Farm a St. Johns County Courtesy Agriculture agent educated 719 people in 8 classes on the role of agriculture in our county.
Cultural Events Division
- Successful Fundraising Event – Thanks to all in the community who attended the LeAnn Rimes event last week at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall where funds were raised through ticket sales and silent auction for the United Way to benefit the victims of the tornado disaster in Joplin, Missouri.
- Upcoming Concert Hall Events – The Ponte Vedra Concert Hall will be hosting the English contemporary jazz group Acoustic Alchemy on Wednesday, June 15th and tickets are available at both box offices. Tickets are also available for hip-hop and reggae artist Matisyahu with Trevor Hall who will be performing Tuesday, August 23rd.
- Upcoming Amphitheatre Events – The St. Augustine Amphitheatre is revving up for five shows next month: Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs on July 10th, rap artist Wiz Khalifa on July 17th, country star Toby Keith with Aaron Lewis on July 21st, former Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh and Bob Weir with Further on July 30th, and teen pop icon Selena Gomez with Allstar Weekend on July 31st. Further, tickets are also on sale for Slightly Stoopid with Rebelution performing August 21st and rock guitarist Peter Frampton performing October 7th, both at the Amphitheatre. Please contact the St. Augustine Amphitheatre box office at (904) 209-0367 for further information regarding ticket prices, availability, and dates for both venues.
- New Evacuation Zone Map – As hurricane season officially begins this month, please note the release of a new Evacuation Zone Map. The new map is a result of the Florida Statewide Regional Evacuation Study, a 4-year study evaluating demographic and land use analysis, critical facilities inventory, hazards analysis, vulnerability, behavioral, shelter and regional evacuation transportation network analyses, & GIS. The new St. Johns County Evacuation Zone Map looks different because new data about storm surge and land elevations have been used to create a more accurate map. As a result, many properties have a new evacuation level this year.
- New Evacuation Zone Labels – On the new map, you will also notice the Zones are now A-E, consistent with storm surge values being removed from the Saffir Simpson Wind Scale analysis. Better technology and forecasting have allowed the National Weather Service to produce better mapping and results, knowing that specific-sized storms can sometimes generate a greater storm surge than normally associated with that size storm. Hurricanes are not always "well-behaved" in their track or "average" in their size and forward speed. For example, in 2005 Hurricane Katrina was a Category 3 storm at landfall, yet produced a higher storm surge than catastrophic Category 5 Hurricane Camille in 1969. For this reason, the evacuation zones have changed from numbers to letters so zones are no longer connected to the category of the storm.
- Be Prepared – Even if you have lived in St. Johns County for a long time, it is more important than ever to check your home’s evacuation level. Also find other information about hurricane preparedness at www.sjcemergencymanagement.com.
- Florida Friendly Plantings – When planting spring gardens, the Florida-Friendly approach is a great way to maintain an attractive, colorful, and diverse yard. Florida-Friendly practices promote biodiversity, conserve natural resources such as water, reduce pollutants, provide nourishment and habitat for wildlife, and save time, money, and energy. Nine principles serve as guidance to plant and maintain a beautiful Florida-Friendly yard, including efficient watering, appropriate fertilization, mulching, planting to attract wildlife, responsible pest management, composting, reducing storm water runoff, and protecting water sources by placing the right plant in the right place. Matching plant choices to existing site conditions helps them thrive and establishes a natural and balanced landscape. For more information on Florida-Friendly landscaping, please visit these websites:
- Australian Pine Trees – On June 2nd, several Australian pine trees were removed from County property at the Vilano Nature Boardwalk. Australian pines are Category I invasive plant, which mean they have been shown to alter and even replace native plant communities. Australian pine in particular radically alters light, temperature, and soil chemistry which harms native plants and alters habitat for native insects and other wildlife. Additionally, the shallow roots of Australian pine make them more susceptible to blow-over during high wind events causing increased beach erosion, and the exposed roots may interfere with nesting sea turtles. Because Australian pine releases toxins into the soil and kills all other vegetation underneath, the site cannot be replanted for 6 to 12 months; but eventually a variety of native plans will be used to restore the native habitat, funded through a grant. More information on Australian pine is available on the IFAS website.
- Energy Efficiency Workshops Continue – St. Johns County continues its series of FREE Energy Efficiency workshops in June to teach commercial contractors and homeowners how to build more efficiently and save money. The weekly workshops times have changed and are now from 4:00 to 5:00 pm on Thursdays at the Wind Mitigation Building at the Agricultural Center. June workshop topics include: Marketing for Energy Auditors, Solar and Performance Contractors; Low Impact Development (LID); and Evaluating Building Energy Performance with Infrared Cameras. For more information, visit the homepage of the County website at www.sjcfl.us or contact Energy Efficiency Coordinator Lowry Shuler at (904) 827-6806 or email@example.com.
- Pope Road Scenic Outlook – After years of coordination, through a partnership with the Scenic and Historic A1A and an inter-local agreement with the City of St Augustine Beach, the Pope Road Scenic Outlook is completed and may be enjoyed by St. Johns County residents and travelers alike. The Outlook is located within the City of St. Augustine Beach; however, the County provided grant administration and oversaw construction activities. The Pope Road Scenic Outlook provides shade, benches, and bike parking with beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean and Anastasia State Park. The administration of this National Scenic Byway (NSB) grant involved the coordinated efforts of the Growth Management, Public Works, Land Management, County Attorney’s Office, Purchasing, and Construction Services Departments. This project is the first of three A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway grants that were awarded by the NSB grant program in 2007 that will be constructed throughout the summer.
Health & Human Services
- Food Distribution Event – On June 1st social services staff, through their connections with Home Again St. Johns, facilitated an agreement between “Pie In The Sky” and “Second Harvest” for a first-time food distribution event that provided 48 families with 1,400 pounds of produce. The event was conducted at the Walter Harris Center cafeteria in Hastings and went extremely well. The volunteers worked hard, and feedback from everyone was very positive.
Housing & Community Services
- Affordable Housing Opportunities – The St. Johns Housing Partnership, a local non-profit housing provider, has expanded their affordable rental housing program. For more information, contact SJHP at (904) 824-0902. Also, Habitat For Humanity is looking for qualified applicants for new homes. For more information, contact Habitat at (904) 826-3252.
- CWHIP Program – The Housing Finance Authority is constructing new homes under the CWHIP program, which is for both low and moderate-income families and has significant down-payment assistance. With today’s low interest rates, this is a great time to purchase a new home. Interested individuals should contact Dana Froberg at (904) 827-6895 for information on these Energy Star homes with many other features such as Structural Insulated Panels.
- More Information – Find affordable housing information on the County website under the Housing & Community Services Department webpage, where you may find the application for the St. Johns County Homeownership Program, or pick one up at a local library.
- Summer Reading Programs for Kids and Teens – The St. Johns County Library will host summer library programs June 12th through August 6th for children and teens. Stop by a library branch to pick up a reading log, and then visit the library all summer to read for prizes and participate in special programs such as visits from the Jacksonville Zoo, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Reptile Rescue, and more. A full list of children’s events is here, and teen event information can be found here.
- Adult Summer Reading, Too – Not to leave out the adults, the library is also having a “Novel Destinations” adult summer reading contest. In an effort to encourage adults to read, they are asked to write reviews about books they have read for a chance to win prizes. The more books that are read and reviews written, the better the odds to win a prize. The grand prize will be a $140 Visa gift card, with additional prizes awarded at each branch. Review forms can be picked up at any library or the bookmobile. Complete contest rules and details can be found here.
- Websites and Databases – Library staff reminds you there are many great websites on the Library homepage. Simply go to www.sjcpls.org and click the Databases link, where you will find resources ranging from Health and Wellness to Auto Repair to practice tests such as the SAT and the GED. Some databases require you to enter your library card number.
- US 1 & SR 312 Improvements – The St. Johns County Engineering Division will be overseeing improvements planned for the US 1 & SR 312 intersection. Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2011 and last for approximately nine months. Due to the high traffic volume, all construction activities requiring lane closures will be limited to overnight hours between 8:00 pm and 6:00 am. The US 1 & SR 312 project is part of a Development Agreement between St. Johns County and the SR 207 Corridor Improvement Group, with all funding provided by the development group. The estimated cost is approximately $1.7 million. Project exhibits are available here on the County website.
- Community Collection Day – The Solid Waste Management Division coordinated a Special Community Collection Day on May 21st at the TPC Parking Lot, where they collected household hazardous waste, waste tires, and obsolete electronics from St. Johns County residents. The total number of residents was 1,206, who disposed of 73,360 pounds of waste, averaging 60.8 pounds of household hazardous waste per resident.
- Road and Bridge – The Road and Bridge Division has a number of maintenance projects underway, including: installation of a concrete pipe at the intersection of 16th Street and Mickler Boulevard; asphalt patching on Moses Creek Boulevard and Avenue D; sidewalk repairs on Corona Road; modification of Americans with Disability Act (ADA) ramps on Durbin Creek Boulevard; shoulder repairs on Yelvington Road and Cracker Swamp Road; and routine ditch maintenance on E. Ashland Avenue and CR 204.
- West Augustine Infrastructure Project – The Engineering Division is working on an infrastructure improvemen project in the West Augustine vicinity which will improve roadway, stormwater, and water service to the area. First, improvements to the roadway and infrastructure in the area of St. Johns and Duval Streets are currently underway. This project includes roadway and stormwater drainage upgrades, along with the installation of a sanitary sewer and potable water utilities. The project also will provide an attractive, safe, and functional entrance to the new Solomon Calhoun Center from the West Augustine community. Construction of this project is estimated to take one year, and every effort will be made to minimize construction impacts to adjoining residents. Persons with questions or concerns are encouraged to contact Project Manager Mike Adams at (904) 209-0122.
- Disaster Recovery Initiative Funding – Additionally, the Engineering Division, in conjunction with the Housing and Community Affairs Department, received just over $1.3 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery Initiative Funding for drainage improvements. The Ravenswood Drive drainage improvement project includes the removal and replacement of deteriorated pipe along Ravenswood and Masters Drive, which also serve the surrounding properties. The project scope will include new pipe installation, roadway reconstruction, and utility adjustments. Construction should begin in the summer of 2011 and is estimated to take 150 days to complete. Questions and concerns should be directed to Project Manager Greg Caldwell at (904) 209-0132.
- Surplus Property Online Sales – In an effort to maximize the recovery of money invested in County-owned surplus property, the County has partnered with GovDeals, an online auction firm similar to eBay. The online auction format will supplement the annual auction of vehicles and heavy equipment, which is conducted on site through the Purchasing Division by a licensed professional auctioneering firm. To access the online auction, visit www.govdeals.com and search for St. Johns County by zip code 32086.
Recreation and Parks
- Field of Dreams – The inaugural season of the Field of Dreams has just concluded, following a two-year effort of local volunteers, community leaders, and the St. Johns County Recreation and Parks Department. Located at Aberdeen Park in northwest St. Johns County, this specially designed field allows mentally/physically disabled children the opportunity to wear a uniform and participate as a member of a team. For more information, please visit the Field of Dreams website at www.fodbaseball.com.
- Tennis Clinics – The Recreation Department is currently accepting registration for the six-week Tennis Clinic for Kids 8–80. The clinic will be held Mondays through Thursdays June 20th – July 28th at the Lighthouse Park tennis courts. Pre-registration is required by visiting the Recreation office at 2175 Mizell Road between the hours of 9:00 am and 4:00 pm Monday through Friday. A minimal charge applies. Bring your own tennis racquet, a fresh can of balls, and plenty of ability to have fun. For details call Recreation Superintendent Betsy Clarkson at (904) 209-0335.
I want to extend a special welcome to those of you who are new to this newsletter after registering at a Town Hall meeting. Thanks, as always, for staying engaged in your community.
Michael D. Wanchick
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