Friday, March 24, 2017

Franklin County seeks state money for major road projects

County Commissioners hope to get state money this year for number of road projects.

The Commission this week authorized applications for grants to work on 5 roads across the county.

The board is seeking SCRAP funding for paving work on Highway 67 and County Road 30A.

The SCRAP program covers 100 percent of paving costs – Franklin County only recently becase eligible for the program after increasing the local gas tax.

The board is also seeking money through the state's SCOP program to widen and resurface Avenue A and Hickory Dip Road in Eastpoint.

The SCOP program would cover 75 percent of the project cost.

The Commission also agreed to seek money to widen and resurface Creamer Street in Eastpoint through the County Incentive Grant Program which is designed to relieve congestion on the state highway system.

Franklin county worried about impacts of proposed changes to homestead exemption rules

Franklin county commissioners are concerned about a proposal that is being considered by the Florida senate that would increase the value of homes eligible for homestead exemption in Florida.

Under Florida law, a persons primary home is exempt from property taxes for the first 75 thousand dollars of the home's value.

The Florida senate is now considering a move that would increase the exemption for the first 100 thousand dollars of value.

The increased homestead exemption would not apply to school districts or special districts.

Franklin County Commissioners, however, said the move would hit smaller counties with a limited tax base like Franklin County very hard.

The county commission this week issued a letter asking the proposal be amended to also exempt fiscally constrained counties like Franklin County.

Commissioners will also be able to lobby for the change in person on April the 5th which is legislative day when commissioners from around the state go to Tallahassee to lobby to protect home rule and argue against unfunded mandates from the state.

Franklin county beaches once again being monitored for bacteria

The local health department has begun testing water quality for local beaches again.

The health department stopped their weekly water sampling program last October as part of a statewide cost-cutting measure.

The state takes weekly or bi-weekly water samples from about 304 beaches in 34 counties during the summer – they monitor the waters for any bacteria that could indicate a health risk to swimmers.

The water samples stop in Franklin County over the winter months when fewer people are swimming.
The good news is that no swimming advisories were issued for any of the 5 beaches tested here on March the 7th though moderate concentrations of bacteria were found at the St. George Island public beach.

There were also no swimming advisories issues for any of the 6 beaches tested in Gulf County or for the two beaches monitored in Wakulla County.

You can see water quality results for yourself from beaches around Florida at the Florida Department of Health website at

Learn about pollutants this weekend at the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab in Panacea

Don't miss the Cole Porter Sessions at Rio Carrabelle this Saturday night

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Franklin County removing commercial signs from county right of ways

 If you are a business owner and have your signs on county-owned right of ways you might want to remove them before the county does it for you.

Franklin County is going to start a program to remove commercial signs from County right of ways.

County and State laws prohibit signs from being placed on public property along roadsides.

Not only are the signs an eyesore, but they are also a safety hazard.

Roadside signs also make it harder for county workers to mow and maintain the right of ways.

Franklin County commissioners agreed this week to direct the Road Department to pick up all signs in the County’s right of way.

The signs will be stored at the road department on Highway 65 where people can pick them up if they want to keep them.

Franklin County names 2 members to the Planning and Zoning board

 Franklin County Commissioners this week named two new members to the Franklin County Planning and Zoning board.

The board named Joey Taranto of Apalachicola to fill the forestry seat on the P and Z and Mister William Burgess of Carrabelle as an alternate member.

The Planning and Zoning board is a 9 member board that makes recommendations to the county commission on almost all local zoning issues.

The board also allows for 2 alternates.

For years the P and Z has had only 5 active members – which is the bare minimum needed to hold a meeting.

That meant any time a member couldn't make a meeting, the meeting had to be canceled or rescheduled.

That created a hardship for people who needed P and Z approval for various construction projects in the county.

County coordinator Michael Moron said that with the two new members it almost guarantees that future P and Z meeting won't have to be canceled.

There are still a few seats left to fill, including one reserved for seafood dealers, a science seat, an at large seat and another alternate position.

The county is actively seeking new members; anyone interested should call County Coordinator Michael Moron at 653-9783.

Carrabelle Culture Crawl this Saurday - come out and have some fun!

Spiny lobster season closes April 1

The spiny lobster recreational and commercial season closes to harvest in state and federal waters starting April 1, and will reopen Aug. 6. The two-day recreational sport season is the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July, which is July 26 and 27 this year.

Volunteers Needed for Bird Surveys - Florida Panhandle

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
(Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.)
Volunteers are needed to conduct avian monitoring activities on Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve, and Torreya State Park in the Florida panhandle. Volunteers will assist an FWC biologist hired to perform the post-restoration monitoring on selected sites in support of the Multistate Sandhills Ecological Restoration Project Phase 3. This project is a collaborative wildlife habitat restoration effort between the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and South Carolina, which is supported by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State Wildlife Grant Program and funding from various conservation partners.
Heather Hitt
Volunteer Requirements:
  • Walk through sandhill habitat, 
  • Navigate using GPS to find monitoring points,
  • Identify bird species by call as per Hamel et al. (1996) (each point count will survey an area encircled by a 250m diameter around the point), and
  • Work independently at times.
Survey Period: 
  • April 15 – June 20, 2017

Franklin County sends letter opposing proposed cuts to the National Estuarine Research Reserve system and for SeaGrant

 Franklin County Commissioners have agreed to send a letter to Florida's Legislative delegation in congress asking that they work to protect federal funding for the National Estuarine Research Reserve system and for SeaGrant which provides funding for the local extension office.

The White House has proposed a budget that cuts funding for a number of environmental research programs including the National Estuarine Research Reserve system which would be devastating to the local Research Reserve.

The Reserve manages over 12,000 acres in Gulf and Franklin Counties, including Little St. George Island, the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve, and several other sites bordering Apalachicola Bay.

Erik Lovestrand, who heads up the local extension office, said the proposed budget also zeroes out the national SeaGrant budget which is a significant component of state and local extension operations throughout the country.

County Commissioners said they want to make sure that our federal legislators know that both programs are very important to Franklin County and the Apalachicola Bay.

The board voted unanimously to authorize the Chairman’s signature on a letter to Florida's US Legislative Delegation supporting continued funding for the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve and for the SeaGrant program.

Don't miss thee origami workshop during Saturday's Culture Crawl in Carrabelle

Public reminded to use new entrance to Chapman Building in Apalachicola

The main entrance to the Chapman building in Apalachicola has been closed and the new entrance to the historic building is now off 14th street.

The front doors of the Chapman Building have always been accessible from 12th street, but because of the new city library that is being built there, those doors are no longer accessible.

The Chapman building houses doctor's offices so it is important that the public can get into the building.

The County, along with the Apalachicola Bay Charter School, have worked together to provide access from 14th Street, near the corner of 14th street and Avenue E.

The county removed the fencing that has blocked access in the past and installed a new fence to seperate an ABC school playground from the public.

Its likely that 12th street access to the Chapman building will be available again in a few months through the Library’s main entrance once the new library is complete.

Don't miss the annual "Spring Fling" this Saturday in Lanark Village

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wild Times Spring 2017

WILD Times color

                                 Vernal Equinox Issue 2017

Inside This Issue

Mark Miller: 2016 Facilitator of the Year

Mark Miller
Mark Miller has been a dedicated and exceptional Project WILD workshop Facilitator since 1999. Described as creative and fun, Mark’s workshops are academic and relevant to the needs of his audiences. He has great talent for motivating participants to interact with WILD activities, inspiring them to become leaders in conservation education. Mark lives in Mt. Dora, Florida (Orange County) with his wife Cindy, a cat named Sissy, and three dogs, Zu Zu, Bear and Baily. He works as a Project Manager for the City of Apopka. Mark has 5 children and 7 grandchildren. He believes in the quote from Herbert Hoover, “Children are our most valuable resource.” One of his favorite mottos is “plan your work and work your plan.” His life mantra is “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”  Congratulations Mark!

A Message from the Coordinator

Dear WILD Ones,
We have just witnessed the Vernal Equinox (AKA, first day of spring) and last week we experienced the coldest days of the year! Locals told me cold weather this late is not unusual. They even have a name for it--the Easter Snap. I love learning something new! Distinguishing between definitions for weather vs. climate are incorporated in science literacy standards. Climate change over time on and impacts on wildlife habitats will be addressed in the updated Project WILD Guide (to be published in early 2018). Project WILD, new and old, is consistent in teaching the basic principles of conservation education for better understanding of healthy ecosystems and wildlife survival. Climate change lessons through WILD will present data that continues to encourage the learner “how to think, not what to think.”  But, traveling from awareness to action, “it’s what I do, not just what I think” is a challenging process. It requires patience, perseverance, self-control, and creativity. Project WILD educators participate in learning and teaching about wildlife, action that has a widespread and lasting impact. Thank you, workshop facilitators and educators, for all that you do!  Be Well & Stay WILD,

Teachers, Apply Now for Seedlings for Schools Grant

Grants include $50 of native Florida wildflower plants, classroom resources and guidance on garden establishment. For more information. Seedlings for Schools

New to the Facilitator Family

The St. The Marks Group, September 17, 2016

group 1 of new facilitators
From left to right: Carly Karas, Meghann Bryant, Anita Forester, Linda Kitner, Donna Foley, Linda Yori, Amanda Mills, Carrie Pigott, Maureen O’Neil, and Mirta Ross. (Not pictured Mary Beth Blackwood and Instructors, Betsy Sullivan, Rosalyn Kilcollins, and Lori Nicholson)

More New Recruits and their Instructors:
The Everglades Youth Conservation Camp Group, December 3, 2016

Group 2 of new facilitators
From left to right back row: Marcia Bisnett, Sarah Bisnett, Jamal Franklin, Karen Franklin, Megan Harris, Pilar Tucker, Kathy Knudtson, Barbara Riley, Krista Bertelson, Marcia Booth, Peter White, Jared Guerra, Eliana Cordoba, Front row left to right: Nate Bisnett, Andrea Andersen, Dawn Miller-Walker, Katharine Hendrickson, Jessica Andreasen,  Anita Forester. (Not pictured, Janice Kerber)

…And More New Recruits and their Instructors!
The Ocala Camp Group, February 26, 2017

Group 3 of new facilitators
Tree dweller, Suzette Meredith, Backrow left to right: Eric Hoeppner, Mary Hess, Kim Rivers, Lacie Swan, Jenna Mannion, Keifer Calkins. Row two left to right: Lisa Sauberan, Jeannie Asby, Andrea Bearman, Vikki Nelson, Christy Meyer, Jamie Retzloff, Marissa Killingsworth Front row, left to right, Rosalyn Kilcollins, Phyllis Lamborn, Emily Roller, Marcia Bisnett, Peggy Hill, and Janie Ewell. (Not pictured, Bryan Nichols, Anita Forester)

Mentionable Mentorships: Facilitators Mentored into the Fold

graphic of people on ladder
Lisa Hickey, mentored by Peggy Hill, Luke Gommermann and Amy Washuta, mentored by   Lisa Andrews, and Candy Strongmentored by Jean Merherg—Thank  you!

Facilitators Share: Lesson Adaptations, Supplements

Upcoming Training and Workshops

Train the Trainer September 22-24, 2017 Everglades Youth Camp, West Palm Beach
2017 Call of the WILD November 10-12, 2017, Ocala Youth Camp, Silver Springs
Train the Trainer February 23-25, 2018 Ocala Youth Camp, Silver Springs

Check out upcoming workshop schedule at: Project WILD Workshop Schedule

Recreational fishing for greater amberjack in Gulf of Mexico federal waters will close on Friday

Recreational fishing for greater amberjack in Gulf of Mexico federal waters will close on Friday.

The closure begins at 12:01 AM on March the 24th.

The closure is happening early this year because recreational fishermen caught too many amberjack last year and the overage was taken away from this year's catch target.

Generally recreational fishermen are allowed to catch about 1.2 million pounds of amberjack each year.

Because of the overfishing last year, this year's catch target was only 336 thouand pounds – which researchers say will be reached this week.

The closure is necessary to protect the greater amberjack fishery which is considered overfished which means the population is too low.

During the closure, the recreational harvest or possession of greater amberjack is prohibited in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. 

The fishery will remain closed until January the 1st, 2018.

Florida DEP permit activity for Gulf County

DEP Logo
Florida Department of
Environmental Protection

Bob Martinez Center
2600 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2400
Rick Scott

Carlos Lopez-Cantera
Lt. Governor

Ryan E. Matthews
Interim Secretary

Permitting Application Subscription Service

Subscriber email address:

  Profile Name: Oyster Radio

Permit: Water - ERP Noticed General Permit
Location Id: 352318
Location Name: Preserve At Cape San Blas
County: Gulf
Application Number: 352318-001

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

Keep a lookout for manatees in motion this spring

Keep a lookout for manatees in motion this spring
In balmy spring weather, both manatees and boaters are cruising through Florida’s waterways.
For manatees, it is a seasonal ritual when they abandon winter retreats and head north along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and through inland waters. For boaters, it is a critical time to be on the lookout for manatees to avoid colliding with these large, slow-moving aquatic mammals.
From April 1 through Nov. 15, seasonal manatee zones require boaters to slow down in certain areas to prevent manatees from being struck by motorboats or personal watercraft.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) law enforcement officers will be on patrol in state waters to remind boaters of the seasonal manatee speed zones and take enforcement actions when necessary.
Because manatees are difficult to detect when underwater, operators of boats, including personal watercraft, need to take basic steps to avoid causing injury to manatees:
  • Wear polarized sunglasses to help spot manatees.
  • Look for large circles on the water, also known as manatee footprints, indicating the presence of a manatee below.
  • Look for a snout sticking up out of the water.
  • Follow posted manatee zones while boating.
FWC biologists, managers and law enforcement staff work closely with partners to evaluate current data and identify necessary actions to protect this iconic animal. Florida has invested over $2 million annually for manatee conservation, and the FWC will work toward continued success for manatees in our state.
Manatee zones and maps are available at, where you can select “Protection Zones” for links to county maps.
The FWC also asks anyone who sees an injured, distressed, sick or dead manatee to call the agency’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or dial #FWC or *FWC on a cellphone.
You can watch manatees without disturbing them by following “Guidelines for protecting native wildlife – Florida Manatees,” a brochure with tips for canoers, kayakers, paddle boarders, snorkelers and scuba divers. It’s available at, click on “Boat, PWC, & Paddle-sport Operators” and then on “Paddle-sport Operators.” Also on is “Where are Florida’s Manatees?” with information about where to go to see manatees in the wild or in captivity.
Support the FWC’s manatee research, rescue and management efforts by purchasing a “Save the Manatee” Florida license plate at, or by donating $5 to receive an FWC manatee decal by going to and clicking on “Decals.”

The 2017 High School Congressional Art Competition is now going on

If you have a high school aged artist in the family, you might be able to get some of their work hung in the US Capitol in Washington DC.

The 2017 High School Congressional Art Competition is now going on.

The United States House of Representatives sponsors this competition each spring to recognize and honor talented young artists from each congressional district across the country.

High school students residing in Florida’s Second District which includes Franklin, Gulf, Wakulla and Liberty counties, are encouraged to submit their work.

The winning piece will be hung in the United States Capitol building along with artwork from across the country.

Submissions can include paintings, drawings, collages, and photography, among other mediums.

The deadline for submission is April 20th, 2017. 

You can find full competition guidelines at congressman Dr. Neal Dunn’s website.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Eastpoint rib cook-off raises thousands for the Eastpoint volunteer fire department

Hundreds of rib lovers flocked to Vrooman Park in Eastpoint on Saturday to help raise money for the Eastpoint Volunteer Fire Department.

The fire department held its 16th annual rib cookoff this weekend – its the fire department's biggest fund-raiser of the year.

The Big Top Supermarket team from Eastpoint took top honors again in the cooking contest.

2nd place went to Bert and Michael Hicks and the “Joined at the Rib” team, and 3rd place went to the “kickin' ash” team.

The Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce 10-4 BBQ team received the People’s choice award by raising the most money for the fire department.

They raised 764 dollars during the event.

The Inglorious Basters out of Eastpoint won the best display.

This was another great year for the event.

The fire department sold out of food and the silent auction raised thousands of dollars.

The annual rib cook-off helps fund the fire department’s budget.

The fire department is still tallying the full amount raised and expects to have the totals later this week.

Gulf World to release Kemp's Ridley sea turtle from St. George Island on Wednesday

Gulf World Marine Institute will release a sea turtle from St. George Island on Wednesday.

Gulf World is releasing the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle into the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, March the 22nd at 10:45 am at the St. George Island State Park.

The cold stunned sea turtle is from a group of about 50 which were rescued from a cold stun event in New England.

The turtle has been in rehabilitation at Gulf World since December 9th.

Most of the turtles have already been released, but this one needed some additional treatment and care.

The animal is now eating and diving normally and has been medically cleared for release.

The sea turtle release is open to the public so feel free to come out and watch and take pictures or video.

Again, the release will happen on Wednesday morning at 10:45 at the St. George Island State Park so try to get out there early for the best view.

Florida DEP permit activity for Wakulla County

DEP Logo
Florida Department of
Environmental Protection

Bob Martinez Center
2600 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2400
Rick Scott

Carlos Lopez-Cantera
Lt. Governor

Ryan E. Matthews
Interim Secretary

Permitting Application Subscription Service

Subscriber email address:

  Profile Name: Oyster Radio

Permit: Water - Mitigation Bank Permit
Project Name: CREDIT DEBIT
Location Id: 295847
County: Wakulla
Application Number: 295847-012

For further information, please contact the Tallahassee Headquarters permitting office in Tallahassee at (850) 245-8489

Monday, March 20, 2017

This is a good time to take a boating safety class

If you plan on doing some boating this year, then you might want to sign up for a boating safety class now.

In Florida, anyone 21 and under who operates a boat powered by a 10 horsepower engine or more has to pass a boater safety course and carry a boater safety identification card while on the water.

Luckily there is an on-line course that is specifically designed for Florida boaters.

The American Safety Council’s online basic boating safety course is approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the United States Coast Guard and meets the State of Florida’s requirements for basic boater safety education.

The course is available online at

The cost is $14.95 and includes the online course and online exam.

Students who successfully complete the course and exam receive a wallet certificate and are automatically reported to the State of Florida for their state boater education identification card.