Administrator’s Report – April 8, 2011
High Health Ranking
St. Johns County remains one of the healthiest counties in Florida, according to the second County Health Rankings report,released last week by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute. The report found that St. Johns County ranks first among Florida counties in health factors (how healthy we can be) and third in health outcomes (how healthy we are).
Some examples of the measures used to calculate the County Health Rankings include premature death rates, obesity rates, access to primary care providers, rates of high school graduation, rates of violent crime, and the number of children living in poverty. Scoring well in these categories signifies not only the health of St. Johns County, but also the high quality of life we enjoy every day.
Dr. Allicock and her staff at the St. Johns County Health Department are to be congratulated for this esteemed recognition, along with numerous partners who contribute to the health of St. Johns County: the Board of County Commissioners, the Health and Human Services Department, Flagler Hospital, the St. Johns County School District, the Sheriff's Office, the Fire/Rescue Department, non-profit organizations, health care providers, and faith-based organizations.
- Carlisle to Add 90 Jobs with Expansion – Carlisle Interconnect Technologies, headquartered in St. Augustine with multiple factories located around the world, announced recently plans for a multi-million dollar expansion at their St. Augustine headquarters on Agricultural Center Drive, which currently employs more than 350 workers. Officials of the company, previously known as Tensolite, say the expansion will lead to approximately 90 new jobs over the next two to three years. Among other things, Carlisle is recognized as a leading designer and manufacturer of high-performance wire and cable including fiber, RF/Microwave, specialty and filtered connectors, cable assemblies, racks, and shelf assemblies, and offers engineering and certification services. County officials were pleased to support Carlisle's expansion and the positive economic impact it will have. St. Johns County staff worked closely with Carlisle to successfully meet their condensed schedule to begin construction, making this one of the first tangible results of St. Johns County's renewed emphasis on economic development. To learn more about the company please visit www.CarlisleIT.com.
Town Hall Meetings
- Save the Date – We have just set dates for the 2011 Administrator's Town Hall Meetings. More information will follow, but for now, please mark these dates:
- Wednesday, June 1st – 6:30 pm – St. Johns County Convention Center at World Golf Village (in the Renaissance)
- Thursday, June 2nd – 3:00 pm – St. Augustine Beach City Hall
- Monday, June 6th – 6:30 pm – Southeast Branch Library
- Thursday, June 9th – 6:30 pm – Hastings Town Hall
- 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
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 posted here on the County website, along with information about how to apply. Currently there are vacancies for the Housing Finance Authority, Industrial Development Authority, Ponte Vedra Architectural Review Committee, Ponte Vedra Zoning & Adjustment Board, Mid-Anastasia Island Design Review Board, and Recreation Advisory Board. Contact BCC Manager Melissa Lundquist at (904) 209-0563 or email@example.com for more information or to obtain an application.
- Sheriff Deputies Honored – St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar recognized many members of the Sheriff's Office at the 27th Annual Awards Banquet on March 11th, including two deputies who were honored with the highest award possible, the Medal of Honor. William Lennon Jr. and Joeffrey Alvarez received the Medal of Honor, which is bestowed only in extraordinary cases where the deputy risked his or her life in the line of duty. Previously, only one other deputy in St. Johns County received the award. Congratulations to these two deputies and all who were honored at the banquet.
- Flower and Garden Expo – Mark your calendar for the upcoming 16th Annual Flower and Garden Expo hosted by EPIC Community Services, Inc. on Saturday, April 16th 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday, April 17th 10:00 am to 4:00 pm at the St. Johns County Agricultural Center. Tickets are $5 for a two-day pass, and children under 11 are admitted free.
- 4-H Camps – 4-H youth have the opportunity to participate in 16 different 4-H Camps this summer, led by extension agents and 4-H volunteers, focusing on robotics, nutrition, plants, marine life, culture, sewing, entrepreneurship, and more. Get more information by calling the 4-H Office at (904) 209-0430 or visit the IFAS website.
- Safe Texting for Teens – "Dying to Text", an educational safe driving event for 15-18 year olds, will be held on Saturday, April 16th from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Ponce De Leon Mall. This event is sponsored by the Avid Orators 4-H Club and will give teens an opportunity to experience the dangers of texting while driving, as well as driving under the influence. Participating youth must have a Learner's Permit or Driver's License, and attendees under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Any questions should be directed to the 4-H Office at (904) 209-0430.
- Pick a Pet Picnic – Join the Friends of St. Johns County Pet Center for a "Pick a Pet Picnic" on Saturday, April 30th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Come see the wonderful pets for adoption at the Pet Center, located at 130 N. Stratton Road in St. Augustine. Hot dogs, potato chips, soda, baked beans, and dessert will be available for a $4 donation or free if you adopt a pet. Click here for more info.
Cultural Events Division
- St. Augustine Amphitheatre – With April, we welcome the 2011 Amphitheatre season. After the cold winter, this outdoor venue can finally host its much anticipated concerts. The first two shows for the season — Miranda Lambert and Rise Against — are sold out, but there are plenty more opportunities to see some great acts. Announced this month are teen pop star Selena Gomez with Allstar Weekend performing Sunday, July 31st and folk sensation Alison Krauss and Union Station performing Friday, August 19th.
- Ponte Vedra Concert Hall – With all the buildup for the Amphitheatre, don't forget the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall with Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Tour performing on Saturday, April 23rd and Jefferson Starship on Friday, May 13th.
- More Info – Keep an eye out for newly confirmed shows at www.staugamphitheatre.com and www.pvconcerthall.com. Or, call the box office at (904) 209-0367 for further information regarding ticket prices, availability, and dates for both venues.
- Gamble Rogers Folk Festival – The Cultural Events Division will finish the month with a bang with the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival at multiple downtown St. Augustine venues Friday, April 29th through Sunday, May 1st. The festival will feature some of the best local and regional artists in folk, bluegrass, blues, and storytelling. Headliners include guitar legend Richard Thompson and Florida blues artist Bill Wharton "The Sauce Boss".
- Code Red Emergency Notifications System – St. Johns County Emergency Management assisted the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office in conducting a County-wide test of the Code Red emergency notification system on March 18th. Code Red alerts residents about hazardous weather, fires, bomb threats, gas leaks, missing children or adults, escaped prisoners, hazardous material emergencies, or sexual offender or predator notifications. Calling registered users gave St. Johns County a chance to assess Code Red as if there were a community-wide emergency. It also informed citizens that they can now register their cell phones and email addresses. In approximately an hour and a half, Code Red called over 98,000 numbers. Since the Code Red test call out, approximately 4,900 people have added their contact information to the system so they can be notified of an emergency. Register your phone number(s) here, or find general Information about Code Red here.
- Bald Eagle Nesting Season – County staff monitor nesting activity of the 33 known bald eagle nests during the breeding season, which in Florida is from October through May. To date, 18 nests are being used and at least 10 juvenile eaglets were observed. A map of known Bald Eagle Nests in the County can be found on the County website, and additional information about bald eagles is on the websites of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
- Chief Hall Announces Retirement – Fire Chief Robert Hall has announced that he will be retiring at the end of June. Chief Hall has dedicated 35 years of service to the citizens of St. Johns County and has been instrumental in developing a professional fire department for the County. We hate to say goodbye, but are grateful for Chief Hall's leadership and commitment throughout his career. County Administration intends to appoint Operations Chief Carl Shank as the Interim Fire Chief upon Hall's retirement, ensuring stability within the Department and no disruption to public service.
- SAFER Grant to Open North Central Fire Station – St. Johns County has been awarded a federal SAFER grant, which provides funding for 12 new firefighter positions for the next two years and allows the County to open the new North Central Fire Station 15 on Pine Island Road. Opening Fire Station 15 will fill the primary coverage hole in north central St. Johns County, providing timely emergency fire and medical response to the residents and businesses of the Palencia, Kensington, Walden Chase, Las Calinas, and Pine Island areas, as well as Nease High School and the heavily traveled US-1 North corridor. SAFER grants — which stand for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response — are distributed annually through the Department of Homeland Security to enhance local fire departments' ability to meet national standards regarding staffing, deployment, response, and operations. Get more information here.
- Operation Integrations Training – During March, St. Johns County Fire Rescue joined with emergency responders from across the State for the annual Operation Integration training drill hosted at the Camp Blanding National Guard base in nearby Clay County. Operation Integration is an opportunity for Specialized Rescue Teams — such as Urban Search and Rescue, Haz-Mat, and Technical Rescue — to join together for a realistic disaster scenario. Exercises like this support the tremendous amount of training and preparation necessary to remain proficient in the many disciplines required for members of the County's Special Operations Team.
- Mud Run Winners – A team of A-shift firefighters recently won 1st place in the MS Mud Run in Jacksonville, an event to support the Multiple Sclerosis Society. This team-oriented event is a 10K race that includes many different obstacles and challenges, most of which include mud or water. Teams must complete the obstacles together, so the team aspect is highly emphasized. The winning "Out to Getcha" team consisted of Stuart Howell, Luke Nehemias, Russell Burney, Chris Ervin, and Trey Peck. Not only did this event raise money for a great cause, but it also provided a unique training opportunity for the firefighters to keep in shape, active, and prepared to respond to a wide array of emergencies.
- Energy Efficiency Workshops – Free energy efficiency workshops continue in April to teach commercial contractors and homeowners how to build more efficiently and save money. The weekly workshops are from 3:00 to 4:00 pm on Thursdays at the Wind Mitigation Building at the Agricultural Center. April topics included HVAC and the Building System, Ground-Source Heat Pumps, Water Conservation, and Retrofitting and Remodeling Ideas. Click here for more information or contact Energy Efficiency Coordinator Lowry Shuler at (904) 827-6806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Census Data – The federal government recently released Florida data from the 2010 U.S. Census effort. The total population of Florida increased from 15.9 million in 2000 to 18.8 million in 2010. St. Johns County's population increased from 123,135 in 2000 to 190,039 in 2010, a 54 percent increase. For further details visit the U.S. Census website. Thanks to all who participated in the Census and St. Johns Counts efforts last year!
Health & Human Services
- HHSAC Needs Assessment – The results of the Health and Human Services Advisory Council's recent needs assessment are now available. Click here to view the complete report.
- Child Abuse Prevention Walk – In recognition of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, the public is invited to the Child Abuse Prevention Walk in Hastings on Saturday, April 16th. The walk begins at 8:00 am at 201 W. Lattin Street, and it will end at the Recreation Center, 6150 S. Main Street. Also as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month, proclamations are being adopted by the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners, City of St. Augustine Beach, City of St. Augustine, and School Board.
- Social Services – The direct services staff of five were very busy during March, with 1,176 face to face contacts made with St. Johns County residents in need of various services. This number averages to 51 residents per day seeking and/or receiving medical, rental, utility, or food assistance.
- National Library Week – The Library invites the community to celebrate National Library Week beginning April 10th. National Library Week is an annual celebration of all types of libraries, with the theme this year being "Create Your Own Story @ Your Library." Each branch library has events planned throughout the week, including theater, genealogy class, parties with Cookie Mouse, Bingo for Books, story times, and more. Visit www.sjcpls.org for a full calendar of activities.
- Ponte Vedra FOL Honored – The Friends of the Library-Ponte Vedra (FOL-PV) is being recognized by the Florida Library Association for the FOL-PV's Antique Appraisal Showcase event conducted last February. The Honorable Mention award was in the Outstanding Programs category of FLA's Friends, Foundations, and Boards Awards for 2011. The FOL-PV will be recognized at a luncheon on May 5th at the FLA Conference in Orlando. Only in its second year, the Antique Appraisal Showcase attracted nearly 500 people who brought their family heirlooms and garage sale treasures to be appraised by nine expert appraisers, who offered unofficial oral appraisals of everything from fine art and jewelry to coins, toys, and books. Congratulations to FOL-PV President Shari Naman, the Board of Directors, and all who diligently support the library.
Office Of Management & Budget
- County Maintains Strong Bond Ratings – OMB reports that, despite the difficult economic environment, Standard & Poor's have recently affirmed the County bond ratings at current levels (A+). The review does affirm what has been represented as strong financial positioning for the County. However, the review went only through September 2010. The County continues to face further deteriorating financial conditions with property values projected to decrease another 20 to 25 percent between that time and FY 2013. As a result, it is becoming extremely difficult to preserve that strong financial position for the County. The County's recognition is especially noteworthy when compared to many other counties throughout Florida which have an additional voted one-cent sales tax that provides much needed financing for such infrastructure. Currently St. Johns County is one of the few counties that does not have this additional financial support, since our sales tax is only 6 percent. The County also has one of the lowest millage tax rates in northeast Florida.
- Administrator's Budget Hearings – OMB is preparing for the County Administrator's 2012 Budget Hearings for County departments, which are open to the public, anticipated to be held May 10 through May 12 in the San Sebastian Conference Room in the County Administration Building. All citizens are encouraged to participate in the hearings and learn more fully about County operations and finances.
- Cultural Events Division – OMB has also been assisting in review of operations within the Cultural Events Division, which includes the St. Augustine Amphitheatre and the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. The newly defined Division is only in their third full year of operation and its financial performance has improved each year. OMB has developed a financial break-even model for the Cultural Events Division, which is the ultimate goal for their operation. In the meantime, the activities of the Division have had a significant impact on the economic and cultural quality of life for the County.
- Community Collection Day – Solid Waste coordinated a Special Community Collection Day on April 2nd at Greyhound Park on Racetrack Road. The event collected household hazardous waste, tires, and obsolete electronics from County residents at a convenient location and at no charge. A total of 992 residents brought more than 64,000 pounds of garbage and electronics, making this the largest attendance and net weight ever conducted in the northwest portion of St. Johns County.
Recreation and Parks
- Golf Course – As was reported in October 2010, the County-owned St. Johns Golf Club no longer has enough usage to support a 27-hole course. Beginning May 2, 2011, the course will be reduced to 18 holes to lower maintenance costs, which is estimated to save approximately $97,000 annually. Like nearly all golf courses, St. Johns Golf Club has experienced a significant reduction of rounds over the past few years, due in large part to the economy. Staff positions have been cut due to declining revenue, and the golf course has not been able to be self-supporting. However, the public golf course will still offer an 18-hole course, which can support in excess of 75,000 rounds per year (significantly more than the approximately 52,000 rounds played last year). To learn more about the St. Johns Golf Club, visit www.sjgc.com.
- Turtletown Beach Clean-up – Volunteers are needed on Saturday, April 30th from 8:00 to 11:00 am for the Turtletown Beach Clean-up to provide a clean and safe environment for nesting sea turtles. Supplies, including bags and gloves, will be available on the day of the clean-up at Mickler's Landing, the Vilano Beach ramp, the St. Johns County Pier, and the Crescent Beach parking lot. Get more information here.
- Bartram Bash – The 7th Annual Bartram Bash will be held on Sunday, April 17th from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm at beautiful Alpine Groves Park, 2060 State Road 13 in Switzerland. Enjoy the cool breezes off the St. Johns River while you listen to music, watch the butterfly release, take free kayak rides along the shore, and eat a free lunch of hot dogs, chips, a drink, and all the fixings including a piece of William Bartram's birthday cake. For more information, contact Park Naturalist Beverly Fleming at (904) 522-1573.
- Easter Egg Hunt – The Recreation and Parks Department is sponsoring its annual Easter Egg Hunt at Treaty Park on Friday, April 22nd. The Hunt will begin promptly at 11:00 am with a special appearance of the Easter Bunny prior to the start of the hunt. All children 8 years and younger are invited to bring their baskets and join in the mad dash to gather eggs. Check the website for any updates at www.sjcfl.us/recreation.
- Art Show – The Trout Creek Council on Aging Art Show will be held on Friday, May 6th, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the Trout Creek Park Community Center, located at the intersection of State Road 13 and Collier Road in Orangedale. Paintings, quilts, and jewelry made by COA members will be on display to the public and light refreshments will be served. Get further information by contacting Beverly Fleming at (904) 522-1573.
- Team Teal – The Recreation and Parks Department and Team Teal are hosting an event to promote the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday, April 14th at 6:00 pm at Palencia Park, 380 Palencia Village Drive. The public is invited to come show Tony Boselli, Macky Weaver, Jaxson De Ville, and the Roar cheerleaders that St. Johns County will help "Keep the Pride Alive."
Tourist Development Council
- TDC Funding Workshop – The St. Johns County Tourist Development Council (TDC) will hold two workshops to assist not-for-profit groups in applying for funding support for special events aimed at attracting visitors to St. Johns County. The available funding, formerly known as Category Two, comes from the four percent tax collected by the county on short-term accommodation rentals. The workshop will provide a detailed review of the application guidelines for funding. Groups applying for funds must have at least one representative attend the TDC workshop. The workshops will be on Wednesday, April 20th. The first workshop will begin at 10:00 am in the County Auditorium and the second workshop will begin at 2:00 pm at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. Attendees should RSVP no later than April 15th by calling Dena Masters at the TDC Office, (904) 209-4420. Get more details here.
Thanks as always for staying engaged in your community.