Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ribbon cutting for Carrabelle bike path is Wednesday

There will be a ribbon cutting for the new Carrabelle Multi-Use Path tomorrow.

Work on the path began last November and was completed in June.

 The multi-use path connects Carrabelle beach to the Carrabelle lighthouse.

The ribbon cutting will be held on Wednesday July 23rd at 11 AM at the beginning of the path, which is at the Carrabelle RV Park.

After the ribbon cutting at the RV Park there will be refreshments at the Carrabelle Lighthouse to encourage everyone to ride or walk the length of the new path.


Franklin County looking at costs of repairing pavilions and restrooms at Carrabelle Beach

Franklin County Commissioners are looking at the costs of upgrading and repairing the bathrooms and pavilions at Carrabelle beach.

Parks and Recreation Director Nikki Millender said the restrooms at Carrabelle Beach are in bad shape and are in very dire need of some work.

The roofs are leaking and the paint is falling off.

The pavilions are also falling apart.

Much of the park was built in the 1950’s and age and seawater are taking their toll.

And in recent years Carrabelle beach has become much more popular making the repairs even more necessary.

The county commission has agreed to look at the costs or repairing the bathrooms and pavilions at Carrabelle beach as well as doing some maintenance to the public restrooms at the St. George Island public beach.

Commissioner Pinki Jackel said the county might be able to use some Tourist Development money for the work sine both areas are intended for use by visitors. 


HG Harder and Son wins bid to construct docks at Abercrombie Boat Ramp

Franklin County Commissioners have awarded the bid to construct new docks at the Abercrombie Boat Ramp in Apalachicola.

HG Harder and Son out of Panama City was the low bidder at just over 94 thousand dollars.

The project will add 2 floating aluminum docks parallel to the shore and connected to existing finger piers at the site.

The docks will be 8 feet wide and 50 feet long will be located north and south of the boat ramp.


Gulf County commission to hold budget meeting on Thursday


Eastpoint man injured while trying to stop vehicle theft

An Eastpoint man received minor injuries Sunday after trying to stop someone from stealing a car on St. George Island.

The Highway Patrol said 62 year old William Volk was treated at Weems Memorial Hospital for minor injuries he received after trying to keep 53 year old John P. O’Donnell from Texarcana, Arkansas from driving away in a 2001 Chevy Tahoe.

The incident occurred around 7:30 Sunday evening at East Gulf beach drive and Sunset Drive when Mister O’Donnell got into the Tahoe and started driving east on Sunset Drive.

Mister Volk reached in the driver side window to stop Mister O’Donnell from driving away and was carried nearly 30 feet hanging from the car before falling off.

Mister O’Donnell then drove another 120 feet before parking at another home and entering the home.

He did not report the incident or try to help Mister Volk.

The Highway patrol along with the Franklin county sheriff’s office and the Franklin County EMS responded to the incident.

Mister O’Donnell was charged with Grand theft of an automobile, aggravated battery and reckless driving.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Franklin county receives 50K for work at Vrooman Park

Vrooman Park in Eastpoint will be getting some much needed upgrade in the near future.

Franklin County has been awarded a 50 thousand dollar grant through the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program that will pay for a number of improvements at the site.

The improvements will include relocating the T-ball field, expanding the children’s playground and providing netting to catch foul balls.
Two projects in Gulf County were also funded through the grant program this year.
Gulf County will receive 50 thousand dollars to construct picnic facilities and to renovate the baseball field, playground and restroom at the Washington High School Complex.
They also received 50 thousand dollars to renovate the baseball field, basketball court, playground and restroom at Benny Roberts Sports Park.


Franklin County considers creating a code enforcement officer position

Franklin County Commissioners have agreed to look at the possibility of creating a code enforcement officer position.

The issue was raised by Commissioner Noah Lockley who asked that the commission consider hiring a county fire inspector.

The commission felt that having a general code enforcement officer might be more helpful because that person could enforce a wider range of county building and zoning codes.

The need for a county code enforcement officer has been discussed numerous times in the past, but the position has never been created.

The last time the board discussed it was in 2012 when the county having a problem getting property owners in Lanark Village to remove debris after a fire destroyed a number of apartments.

Commissioner Pinki Jackel said she doesn’t know how the county will fund the position, but she agreed the commission should look into it.

Commission chairperson Cheryl Sanders said that after looking at what the county is spending now to enforce its building and zoning codes they may find it will actually save money by creating the position.

The decision was approved 4 to 1 with commissioner Smokey Parrish voting against it.


Franklin County gets grant to re-roof the county jail

County commissioners have signed the grant that will put a new roof on the Franklin county jail.

The board agreed last week to accept over 582 thousand dollars from the Division of Emergency Management to replace the roof.

The County’s match is just over 194 thousand dollars, which the county already has budgeted in its fine and forfeiture fund.

The jail is over 25 years old and is starting to show signs of age – just last year the county had to do a major overhaul to the jail’s plumbing system.


Franklin County unemployment unchanged in June

Franklin County’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.6 percent in June.
300 people were looking for work in Franklin County in June, down from 301 the month before while the workforce decreased by 12 people.
Thirteen counties had lower unemployment rates than Franklin County last month.
Unemployment in Gulf County rose slightly from 6 percent to 6.1 percent.
380 people were looking for work in Gulf County last month, up from 378 the month before.
Wakulla County unemployment remained at 4.8 percent between May and June.
Liberty County unemployment rose from 5.4 to 5.6 percent.
Overall, the statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell slightly to 6.2 percent in June.

You can see the full statewide unemployment report for yourself – it’s posted at http://oysterradio.blogspot.com/2014/07/florida-unemployment-statistics-for.html


Everything you ever wanted to know about oysters on July 21st, 2014

Eastpoint man injured trying to keep his car from being stolen


Area 1652 closing to oyster harvesting at sunset Monday

Area 1652 will close to Oyster harvesting at sunset today.

Area 1652 is the conditionally Approved summer north shellfish harvesting area.

It is being closed because of heavy rains over the past few days.

Water samples will continue to be taken from the area and tested to see when it is safe to re-open.

Stay tuned to Oyster radio for re-opening information.

You can also see a daily bay status report on-line at floridaaquaculture.com under the shellfish harvesting tab or by calling 653-8317.


Gulf County proposed budget now on-line

The Gulf County proposed budget for 2014-2015 is now on-line at the Gulf County Website. You can see it at :



Come see the Earthlings at the Carrabelle library on Wednesday


Agenda and commissioners' packet for July 22nd Gulf County Commission meeting



Friday, July 18, 2014

FWC Law Enforcement Weekly Report 07/11 - 07/17/2014

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
(Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.)
Division of Law Enforcement
 FWC logo and law enforcement badge
Weekly Report
July 11 - July 17, 2014

This report represents some events the FWC handled over the past week;
however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement.

Patrol, Protect, Preserve



There were record crowds at the 2014 Blue Angel Air Show.  Considering the sheer number of people and vessels crowded into a small area, the event went very well.  FWC Law Enforcement presence had a positive effect.  We responded to four medical emergencies, two assists that were turned over to the Sheriff’s Office for battery and three BUI’s.  Numerous citations and warnings were issued for underage drinking, boating safety violations and BUI’s.  FWC officers checked 1,013 people and 291 vessels issuing over 50 warnings and citations. Following are some of the issues that occurred.

Lieutenant Berryman and Officer Lewis were on water patrol, when they smelled the odor of cannabis.  Officer Lewis observed a female sitting on the bow of a boat, bent over and preparing a cannabis pipe.  Officer Lewis made her aware of his presence and charged her with possession of not more than 20 grams of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Lieutenant Hahr and Officer Hutchinson were patrolling Little Sabine Bay, when they observed several subjects consuming alcoholic beverages who appeared to be under the age of 21.  Four notices to appear were issued to the underage drinkers.

After the Air Show, Officer Ramos and Reserve Officer Hahr were monitoring vessels inside Little Sabine Bayou, when they observed a vessel operating at night without navigation lights.  The vessel was stopped and Officer Ramos initiated a boating safety inspection.  During the inspection, Officer Ramos detected signs of impairment from the operator and began a BUI investigation.  After administering field sobriety tasks, Officer Ramos determined the operator was impaired and placed him under arrest for BUI.  The operator was transported to the BUI Command Post where he refused to submit to a breath test.  He was charged with BUI and transported to the Escambia County Jail for processing.

While monitoring vessels exiting Little Sabine at the conclusion of the Blue Angels Air Show, FWC officers noticed a vessel operating unusually quickly through the maze of boats and swimmers navigating the narrow channel.  The vessel passed a US Coast Guard (USCG) vessel and was warned by the USCG crewmen to slow down.  The vessel’s operator complied for a few seconds, then gunned the motor, and continued through the maze of vessels.  The FWC officers stopped the vessel and moved out of the channel to discuss the operator’s maneuvering.  After a short discussion, the operator showed signs of impairment and Officer Bartlett began a BUI investigation.  After completing the battery of tests, Officer Bartlett determined the operator was impaired and placed him under arrest for BUI.  The operator was transported to the BUI Command Post where the operator provided two breath samples of .194 and .204.  The operator was then transported to the Escambia County Jail for processing.   


Officer Marlow observed a vehicle parked on the side of Highway 98 and observed the hood was still warm.  After looking in the area, he observed foot tracks leading to the edge of wetlands approximately 200 yards away from the vehicle and subsequent drag marks through private property.  Two individuals were later located in a vessel frogging and were found to be trespassing in the area.


While on foot patrol near Bristol Landing, Officer Mims conducted a boating safety inspection on a small vessel with two occupants. The driver had been drinking and, after showing multiple signs of impairment, the driver was arrested for BUI and booked into the Liberty County Jail.


Officer Lewis was on patrol in Blackwater River State Forest at Riley’s Bluff primitive area when, across the river, he observed a male rolling a cannabis cigarette.  The male subject smoked the cannabis cigarette and handed it to another male subject.  Officer Lewis made his presence known to the subjects and asked them to bring the cannabis cigarette and the rest of the drugs they had with them across the river.  The subjects complied.  There were seven children in and around the river.  After locating the children’s mother to care for the children, Officer Lewis issued the two male subjects misdemeanor citations for possession of not more than 20 grams of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The following day, Officer Lewis was at the Red Rock Primitive area when, across the river, he observed a man throw a bottle into the woods and discard a cardboard box onto the ground.  Officer Lewis waited for the man and the rest of his group to cross the river and leave the area before he made contact.  When the subjects were in the vehicle, Officer Lewis approached them just as the driver of the vehicle threw two soda cans out of the window.  The cans barely missed hitting Officer Lewis. Officer Lewis issued citations to the male and female subjects for littering.


Lieutenant Pearce and Officers Marlow and Bunker were working the River Sink Tract of Wakulla Springs State Park. The officers had information received from Lieutenant Hooker and Officer Raker regarding large groups gathering and alcohol consumption.  Officer Marlow entered the sink area in plain clothes and observed a large group of individuals drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana at the main sink area. Lieutenant Pearce and Officer Bunker arrived to assist and 11 citations and 9 warnings were written for possession of marijuana and consumption of alcohol.

Officer Marlow observed a vehicle briefly turn on its headlights in a marsh area of Wakulla County.  Three individuals were attempting to cast net bait and were smoking and in possession of additional marijuana.  Officer Hoelscher and Lieutenant Pearce arrived to assist. All three subjects were cited for less than 20 grams of marijuana. All three will be placed in a civil diversionary program in lieu of prosecution.

COP (Community Oriented Policing)

Investigator Wilkenson received an invitation from the Escambia County Environmental Enforcement Division to participate in an outreach event with a neighborhood watch group.  Investigator Wilkenson spoke of the responsibilities and core missions of FWC and the role FWC plays in the protection of Florida’s natural resources through education, investigations, and enforcement of environmental crimes.  

Investigators Wilkenson and Nelson and Lieutenant Clark participated in an outreach event regarding the commercialization of businesses operating on Crab Island as it relates to public safety.  The meeting was held at the USCG Station Destin.  The meeting involved multiple agencies as follows:  County Commissioner, USCG, Military Security Force, Okaloosa County Tax Collector, Okaloosa Sheriff’s Office, Department of Health, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Agriculture, and County Code Enforcement.  The goal of the meeting was to establish who has statutory/regulatory authority in regulating the commercial industries.  FWC involvement was related to boating safety, vessel versus floating structure, marine sanitation device, and commercial use of submerged land lease.


Chikungunya in Florida

This info came from Erik Lovestrand, our local Extension Director:

Bad news on the arbovirus front.  We now have Chikungunycases in Florida that were not in people who have recently visited the Caribbean.  So our Florida mosquitos have not picked up the virus by biting infected people who brought it back.  The pdf of the PowerPoint is helpful in methods to help avoid it spreading.


Franklin County approves ballot initiative for hiring Superintendent of Schools

The Franklin county commission has agreed to place an initiative on the November ballot that will let voters decide whether the superintendent of school should continue to be an elected position or whether the school board should hire the school superintendent in the future.

The measure was requested by the School Board who approved it in June.

The process required county commission approval before the issue could be sent to the Supervisor of elections to be placed on the November ballot.

If approved, the measure would take effect at the end of the current Superintendent’s term.

The county commission voted 4 to 1 to send the issue to the voters.

Commissioner Noah Lockley voted against it.


Franklin County commission gives site plan approval for commercial dock in Eastpoint

Franklin county commissioners have given site plan approval for a ten slip commercial dock on the Eastpoint waterfront.

The request was made by a company called Steve’s dockside which plans to build the commercial dock at 530 Highway 98 in Eastpoint.

The proposed development would also include a landing area, a building with restrooms and an office and parking for at least 15 vehicles.

This is the second time the commission has considered the dock – it was rejected a number of months ago because the property is zoned c-1 which is for commercial seafood and the developers were seeking a special exception that could have allowed the dock to be used by houseboats and recreational fishermen.

The company has now limited the use to only commercial boats, so the commission approved the site plan unanimously.


Franklin County approves new cell phone tower near SummerCamp

We may get some better cell phone reception on the eastern end of the county in the near future, especially of you use ATT.

The county commission on Tuesday approved the construction of a telecommunication tower along about 400 feet off of Highway 98 near SummerCamp.

Not only will the tower help with phone service, but ATT has agreed to let the county use some of the tower space rent free to help with county communications – which will benefit the sheriff’s department, the ambulance service, and other county departments. 


Franklin county gets money to replace Bluff Road culvert

Franklin County has received funds that will cover most of the costs of replacing a major culvert on Bluff Road near the Apalachicola airport.

The culvert provides drainage for an estimated 1000 acres including much of the airport during a recent inspection it was found that the pipe is rusting on the bottom and beginning to bow in.

The county now plans to replace the metal culvert with a concrete box culvert.

The cost for the work is over 195 thousand dollars – the Florida department of Transportation will cover about 122 thousand dollars of that.

The rest will come from the county – specifically from road paving money earmarked for Commissioner Smokey Parrish’s district.

Commissioner Parrish said he thinks this is the right move for the county; the project was approved unanimously. 


County Commissioners approve ballot language for bed tax increase

County Commissioners have approved the ballot language that voters will see when they decide whether to increase the local bed tax.

A 2 percent bed tax was approved by voters in 2005 to help promote tourism in Franklin County – it is collected from every hotel, motel and rental house in the county.

Since 2005 the tax has raised nearly 7 million dollars.

The County Commission voted earlier this month to let the voters decide in November whether to double the bed tax from 2 percent to 4 percent.

The Tourist Development Council had asked that the ballot language include a requirement that half of the increase be earmarked for national advertising.

The county Commission decided not to add that language because they felt it would limit the TDCs control over its own budget and would hamper any other uses for the money which could include upgrading local parks and infrastructure.

The ballot language was approved unanimously. 


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Work has started on widening and resurfacing Bayshore Drive in Eastpoint

Work has started on a major widening and resurfacing project in Eastpoint.

The 1.6 million dollar project will widen 4.4 miles of a loop in Eastpoint including North Bayshore Drive, Otter Slide, and South Bayshore Drive from Highway 98 to Island Drive.

Commissioners said Bayshore Drive needs to be resurfaced because it is widely used but is very narrow in spots.

The project is being funded through the Small County Outreach Program.

Workers have already begun doing some cuts along driveways on North and South Bayshore drive.

Commissioner Pinki Jackel raised some concerns about who would move any mailboxes that might be in the work zone and was told that the contractor will make sure that all mailboxes are placed the proper distance from the road.

Commissioner Jackel also asked that an information flyer be distributed to homeowners in the affected area telling them the scope of the project.

The road work is expected to be complete by Thanksgiving.


Gulf of Mexico Standing and Special Scientific and Statistical Committees to meet in August

For Immediate Release
July 17, 2014  
Gulf of Mexico Standing and Special Scientific and Statistical Committees 
to meet in August
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will convene its Standing, Special Reef Fish, and Special Shrimp Scientific and Statistical Committees beginning at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 6, 2014, until 1:00 p.m. Thursday, August 7, 2014. The meetings will be held at the Council office - 2203 N. Lois Avenue, Suite 1100, in Tampa, Florida. 
The Standing SSC will convene Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. to discuss alternative Acceptable Biological Catch Control Rule analyses, and to review an options paper to define status determination criteria and optimum yield for all finfish stocks.

Immediately following the Standing SSC meeting, the Standing SSC will meet with the Special Reef Fish SSC until 5:00 p.m. Items up for discussion include:
  • Gag Overfishing Limits and Acceptable Biological Catch
  • Terms of Reference for the FWC Black Grouper Update Assessment and the SEDAR Red Snapper Update Assessment
  • SEDAR Red Grouper Benchmark Data Workshop Participant Need
  • SEDAR Schedule.
The Standing and Special Shrimp SSC are scheduled to meet Thursday, from 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.This committee will:
  • Review a two-year provision addition for Action 1.1 and Action 1.2 in Shrimp Amendment 15
  • Shrimp Amendment 17 Data Needs and Analyses
  • Selection of SSC representative for the August 2014, Council meeting  
For a copy of the agenda visit:  http://gulfcouncil.org/council_meetings/agenda/Standing%20Reef%20Fish%20and%20Shrimp%20SSC%20Agenda%20August%202014.pdf or register to watch the meeting live at 
http://gulfcouncil.org/council_meetings/Webinars.php. Meeting materials can be downloaded from the Council FTP site at https://public.gulfcouncil.org:5001/webman/index.cgi - username and password are both gulfguest. 



TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Technical Sergeant Benjamin Wilhelm and Staff Sgt Anthony Cerrone, both explosive ordnance disposal technicians assigned to the 823rd RED HORSE Squadron, will receive Purple Hearts during a ceremony held at Tyndall July 18 for injuries they sustained during combat operations.
Wilhelm is being presented the Purple Heart for injuries he sustained during combat operations while on his 4th of 7 deployments in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.
Cerrone is being presented the Purple Heart for injuries he sustained during combat operations while on his 3rd of 4 deployments in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.
The ceremony will take place at 3 p.m. in the NCO Academy auditorium here at Tyndall AFB. 


Gulf County Commission to hold special meeting on the budget on Monday


Franklin County moves forward on soccer field and basketball court at DW Wilson park

Franklin County commissioners have agreed to seek bids for a soccer field and basketball court at the DW Wilson Sports park in Apalachicola.

The commission spent a lot of time discussing the issue, basically because there is a lot of desire to get the soccer field built, but the costs are likely too much for the county to cover using tax dollars.

The initial estimate for the soccer field and the basketball court was about 114 thousand dollars, but that doesn’t include the electrical and lighting work that would need to be done.

Commissioners guessed that the total project would likely run over 200 thousand dollars.

Commissioner Noah Lockley said he would be willing to cover the cost using capitol outlay, even though it might deplete that fund, but Commissioner Pinki Jackel said she could not support that.

Commission Jackel recommended that the county seek state grant funding over the next year as it has for other sports fields in the past.

The Franklin County Youth soccer League said they just want to see the work get started because they have been asking for a soccer field for years and so far they have nothing to show for it and mean

The board discussed a number of options – but in the end they felt it would be wisest to bid out the whole project so they would know exactly what it will cost.

It will likely be late August before the bid process is complete, and by then the board can see whether it has to find state money or whether it can find enough county money to complete the field. while the kids in the soccer program are getting hurt by playing on inadequate fields.


Franklin County may start charging cities tipping fee at county landfill

The cities of Apalachicola and Carrabelle may soon have to pay a tipping fee for disposing of debris at the Franklin county landfill.

At this time the cities aren’t charged for dumping debris at the landfill, but Emergency Management Director Pam Brownell said the county has to charge the cities something for using the landfill or the county stands to lose a lot of money if we are hit by a major storm.

She said that FEMA won’t reimburse the county for disposing the cities debris if the county isn’t charging them a tipping fee on a regular basis.

That oversight cost the county nearly 24 thousand dollars during tropical storm Debbie – and that loss could be minimal if we are ever hit be a major disaster.

Mrs Brownell said that the tipping fees after storms are a reimbursable charge for the cities, so they wouldn’t lose money, and once the fees are in place the county wouldn’t lose money either.

Besides, the extra money could help offset the cost of equipment replacement for the solid waste department.

Mrs Brownell said charging the fee will also make it easier to know how much debris came from each area so FEMA reimbursements will be quicker and easier.

County commissioners have not taken any action on the tipping fee issue yet, but ask that the emergency Management director meet with the cities and with the solid waste director to try to reach a fair agreement before coming back to the board with a final recommendation.  


Florida DEP permit activity for Franklin County




Permitting Application Subscription Service

Subscriber email address: manager@oysterradio.com

  Profile Name: Oyster Radio

Permit: Water - ERP Exemption Permit
Project Name: 1615 IBIS WAY [BOAT LIFT]
Location id: 327905
Location name: 1615 IBIS WAY [BOAT LIFT]
County: Franklin
Application number: 327905-001

For further information, please contact the Northwest District permitting office in Pensacola at (850) 595-8300


Martinis, Mammos and More tonight in Port st. Joe

....tonight is the 2nd annual Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf Guild event known as “ Martinis, Mammos and More”. Funds raised will be contributed to the “Cricket Fund” which assist uninsured and underinsured residents receive breast screenings and as well as funding other Guild projects.  Memberships are only $20 annually or $100 for a lifetime. The event is tonight from5pm-7pm in the courtyard of the Haughty Heron at Marina Cove. Almost 100 new memberships were signed up at last years event and the Guild is certainly hoping for the same this year. There will be live music (Lauren Spring and Melissa Bowman) and light food. All new memberships and renewals will receive a free martini. Please come out and support this great community program."


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Florida DEP permit activity for Franklin, Gulf and Wakulla Counties




Permitting Application Subscription Service

Subscriber email address: manager@oysterradio.com

  Profile Name: Oyster Radio

Permit: Water - Dredge and Fill Permit
Location id: 185685
County: Franklin
Application number: 185685-007

For further information, please contact the Northwest District permitting office in Pensacola at (850) 595-8300
Permit: Water - ERP Exemption Permit
Location id: 327792
Location name: RAINEY TRAIL [DOCK]
County: Wakulla
Application number: 327792-001

For further information, please contact the Northwest District permitting office in Pensacola at (850) 595-8300
Permit: Stormwater - Small Construction (1-5 AC)
Location id: FLR10OG85
Location name: State Road 22 Milling & Resurfacing
County: Gulf
Application number: FLR10OG85-001

For further information, please contact the Tallahassee Npdes Stormwater permitting office in Tallahassee at (850) 245-7522
Permit: Water - ERP Noticed General Permit
Project Name: HARRIS DOCK 3058 HWY 98 EAST
Location id: 327628
Location name: LAWRENCE DOCK - 3058 HIGHWAY 98 EAST
County: Franklin
Application number: 327628-001

For further information, please contact the Northwest District Branch ( Panama City ) permitting office in Panama City at (850) 872-4375