Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Franklin county seeks qualifications from debris removal companies

County commissioners are looking for companies to provide debris removal services after a major storm.

The county has annual contracts with companies that specialize in debris clean-up, but Emergency Management Director Pam Brownell said those contracts end next month and she would like the new contracts in place before the 2015 hurricane season gets active.

The board last week agreed to seek qualifications from companies interested in providing the service.

The qualifications will be considered by a committee before making a recommendation to the county commission for final action.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Gwen Graham to Perform Apalachicola Workday; Announce Water Legislation

APALACHICOLA, Fla. – Rep. Gwen Graham will be hitting the water on Tuesday morning to work alongside Apalachicola Bay’s oystermen. After her workday, Rep. Graham will announce new legislation to help restore the bay’s fresh water flow.  

Journalists wanting to capture video or photographs of the Workday will be able to join Rep. Graham on the water at 10 a.m, at First Baptist Church, 501 East Pine Ave., St. George Island. On-the-ground contact is Julia Woodward, 850-559-8914.

The workday will be followed by a press conference at Lynn’s Quality Oysters in East Point, at noon.

WHAT: Apalachicola Workday & Press Conference

WHEN: Tomorrow, Tuesday – 10 a.m. for Workday; Noon for Press Conference

WHERE: Eastpoint, Florida –  Lynn’s Quality Oysters

WHO: Rep. Gwen Graham; local elected officials; oystermen; Apalachicola Riverkeepers


Franklin County seeks grant to renovate homes for low-income families

            Franklin County Commissioners have agreed to apply for a grant to rehabilitate or replace substandard homes in the unincorporated areas of the county.

The County is seeking a 700 thousand dollar Community Development Block Grant and it will add 50 thousand dollars in SHIP money to fund the program.

If the grant is approved, the board is hoping to help lower income families either repair or replace their homes and bring them up to current building standards.

The program would even help rehabilitate some mobile homes.

The program would be required to help a minimum of 10 families, though commissioners hope it would assist more than that.

People who take part in the program would not be required to pay the loan back as long as they continue to live in and maintain the home for a certain number of years.

That could be 5 years for a 25 thousand dollar loan and 10 years for loans over 40 thousand dollars.

It will likely be late summer before the county knows if the grant request is funded. 


Trustees seek public comment on phase 4 of restoration projects after BP oil spill

The Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees are seeking public comment on phase 4 of early restoration projects following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The projects are all designed to repair some of the damage done to natural resources due to the oil disaster.
The early restoration plan outlines 10 projects across the Gulf States with a price tag of 134 million dollars.
They include two projects to enhance bird nesting habitat, four projects to improve nearshore and reef habitats and two projects to enhance recreational opportunities on federal lands.

None of the projects will specifically impact our area though there is one project to reduce sea turtle mortality and one project to restore pelagic fish which affects the entire Gulf Coast.

The plan does include the reworking of a project in Eastpoint that was approved during phase 3.
That project would allow for the construction of a restroom at the Eastpoint fishing pier.
When it was initially released, the project included a holding tank that would have to be pumped out, but now the project has been modified so the restroom would include a 50 gallon holding tank and grinder pump system which will be connected to the existing sewer line about 2/3 of a mile away.
The project would require running sewer alongside Highway 300 and Patton drive.
Public Comment on the projects will be accepted through June the 19th – you can find the plan on-line at gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/

You can also find the over 1000 page document at the Eastpoint branch of the Franklin County Public Library.


Franklin County seeking 730K from FAA to repair runways

Franklin County Commissioners have agreed to apply for a little over 730 thousand dollars from the Federal Aviation Administration to repair the runways and taxiways at the Apalachicola airport.

The concrete runways are nearly 75 years old and are showing signs of age.

Last week the county signed the pre-application requesting the money; on July 7th the board will open bids  from companies who can do the repair work, and the winning bid will be sent to FAA with the
grant application so the FAA can also approve the bid amount. 

The county will not have to provide any money for the project.

County administrative director Alan Pierce said this money will repair the most severely damaged areas of the runways but there will be more work left to do and the county will have to seek more money in the future.

He added that there is another project currently going on at the airport which will replace all of the current runway lighting with LED lights which will be much more efficient.

That project will also move all of the buried electrical lines into conduit.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Agenda and information for May 26th Gulf County Commission meeting


Weems continues to accept Capital Health Plan

Weems would like to reassure all CHP members that the Weems Medical Centers continue to provide primary care and family care services to their assigned Capital Health Plan members. If you are in need of an appointment, please do not hesitate to call either clinic location listed below:
Weems Medical Center West in Apalachicola 850-653-1525
Weems Medical Center East in Carrabelle 850-697-2345
George E. Weems Memorial Hospital 135 Avenue G, Apalachicola, Florida 850-653-8853


Franklin County Humane Society Pet of the Week

We are bursting at the seams with kittens at this time.  We took in 26 kittens in 24 hours last week.  That doesn't include all the kittens we already have or are being fostered.  Please consider adopting one of these fully vetted babies and please, please, please, spay and neuter your pets.  The voucher program is still available for people who need low cost spaying and neutering for their animals.

Volunteers are desperately needed to socialize all of our dogs and cats. We are always looking for people willing to bring one of our animals into their home to be fostered for various needs. Anytime you can spare would be greatly appreciated.

Call Karen at 670-8417 for more details or visit the Franklin County Humane Society at 244 State Road 65 in Eastpoint.  You may logon to the website at www.forgottenpets.org to see more of our adoptable pets.


Everything you ever wanted to know about oysters on May 24th

Seahawk Scoop for Monday, May 25, 2015.​


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Gulf Council to Convene a Joint Meeting of its Coral Scientific and StatisticalCommittee (SSC) and Coral Advisory Panel (AP)

Meeting Notice
May 7, 2015
Gulf Council to Convene a Joint Meeting of its Coral Scientific and StatisticalCommittee (SSC) and Coral Advisory Panel (AP)
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has scheduled a joint meeting of its Coral SSC and Coral AP for Wednesday, May 27, 2015 from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Gulf Council office, 2203 N. Lois Avenue, Suite 1100, in Tampa, Florida.

The Coral SSC and AP will  review and discuss:
  • a plan of work
  • a report from the Coral Working Group
  • individual sites identified by the Coral Working Group, and
  • other business that may arise
A copy of the agenda and related materials can be downloaded from the Council's FTP server -https://public.gulfcouncil.org:5001/webman/index.cgi (login is gulfguest/gulfguest). Materials are in the "Joint Special Coral SSC and Coral AP Meeting - 2015 - 05" folder. 

To watch the meeting live, please register at: http://gulfcouncil.org/council_meetings/Webinars.php.
About the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional Fishery Management Councils established by the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. The Council prepares fishery management plans, which are designed to manage fishery resources within the 200-mile limit of the Gulf of Mexico.
Submit comments and stay updated on fishery issues:
Check it out! Go to www.gulfcouncil.org and click on the thermometer in the middle of the page. From there you can read up on all the pending actions, watch the video presentations, read comments, and submit your own. All comments submitted through the online form are automatically posted on our web site for Council review. Other comments are manually posted every couple of days. 

There is also a thermometer for each issue that lets you know where the Council is in the process for that particular amendment, whether it's the scoping phase, final action, or implementation.
You can also find information on our Facebook page, blog, and YouTube channel.
 Like us on Facebook  Visit our blog  View our videos on YouTube

The Gulf Council has an APP for that - Download it for free!
Join Our Mailing List
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
Public Information Officer


Florida DEP permit activity for Wakulla County




Permitting Application Subscription Service

Subscriber email address: manager@oysterradio.com

  Profile Name: Oyster Radio

Permit: Water - Dredge and Fill Permit
Location Id: 259910
County: Wakulla
Application Number: 259910-003

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


Friday, May 22, 2015

Our beaches rock - we know it!

The St. George Island state park has once again made the list of America’s top 10 beaches according to Doctor Stephen Leatherman.

The beach at the St. George Island state park was ranked the 3rd best beach in the US in the 25th Annual Top 10 Beaches ranking produced by coastal expert Dr. Stephen Leatherman better known as “Doctor Beach.”

The local state park has ranked 3rd on the list for 3 years in a row.

This is actually the fifth time St. George Island has made the top ten list – the state park was ranked in the 1990’s but was taken off after a hurricane damaged the island.

This year’s top beach is Waimanalo Bay Beach Park in Oahu.

Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs, Florida came in second for the second year in a row.

St. George Island State Park came next followed by Hamoa Beach in Hawaii and Cape Hatteras in North Carolina.

Cape Florida State Park in key Biscayne, Coast Guard beach in Cape Cod, Beachwalker Park in South Carolina, Delnor Wiggins Pass State park in Naples and East Beach in Santa Barbara, California rounded out the top 10.

The continued Top 10 beach ranking is good news for the St. George Island State Park which has seen attendance increase by nearly 10 percent each year since the island park has made Dr. Leatherman’s list.  

In 2014, park attendance topped 225,000, people.

“Dr. Beach,” uses fifty criteria to evaluate the beaches, including water and sand quality, as well as the number of facilities nearby and environmental management.

And don’t forget our other world-class beach while you are out and about this Summer – the beach at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park in Gulf County was ranked the top beach in the nation in 2002.


Franklin County to consider allowing fire stations on agricultural property

County Commissioners will hold a public hearing in the near future to make a small change to its zoning code.
The board has been asked to consider allowing fire stations to be listed as a principal use in the A-2 Forestry Agriculture Zoning District.

County Administrative Director Alan Pierce said there are already a number of fire towers and forestry service fire control operations in agriculturally zoned areas.

This change will allow for a new fire station at Alligator Point.

The commission seems willing to make the change but need to hear from the public first.

They have agreed to hold a public hearing so the public can comment on the proposed change.


Watch out for nesting birds when you're on the beach

Memorial Day is considered the kick-off of the summer holiday season which means many people will be heading to the beach.

If you are on the beaches this holiday weekend, the Audubon Society would like to remind you to be mindful of nesting birds, as even a minor disturbance can destroy a nest.

A variety of protected birds are currently nesting on Franklin County’s beaches, including terns, black skimmers, snowy plovers and Wilson’s plovers. 

Most of these species nest in the open and lay well-camouflaged eggs directly on the sand, making them nearly invisible to predators and to the untrained human eye. 

You can help protect the birds by moving parties, picnics and fireworks away from nesting areas.

Just approaching a bird is enough to flush birds away from their nest.

When birds are forced to fly off their eggs, it exposes the chicks to predators and to the impacts of the Sun.

Many beach nesting areas are marked to keep people away.

In Franklin County many birds also nest on the old St. George Island bridge causeway, and on the island near the big hump of the Apalachicola bridge.

Those area are only accessible by boat and are off limits to humans through August.


Wakulla County to Honor American Servicemen and Servicewomen at the Annual Memorial Day Ceremony

Crawfordville, Florida – On Monday, May 25, 2015, the Wakulla County Board of County Commissioners will observe Memorial Day at an opening ceremony at 10:00a.m.on the grounds of the Wakulla County Courthouse.  This Memorial is dedicated to the lasting memory and sacred honor of the brave American servicemen and servicewomen who gave their lives in our Country’s defense. 

This year’s ceremony includes keynote speaker Mr. Ed Brimner.  In addition, the VFW Post #4538 will perform the laying of the wreath, and the raising and lowering the flag to half-staff.  “Let us not forget the ultimate toll paid in blood by our fallen to secure the blessings of liberty and the continuation of our way of life.  It is with honor and dignity we pay tribute to the co-authors of our nation’s history and military legacy,” said Harold Ross, Veteran Services Officer.  Please join us to support our veterans and their families for their sacrifices.

For additional information related to this story, please contact Jessica Welch, Communications & Public Services Director at (850) 926-0919 ext. 706 orjwelch@mywakulla.com


FWC Law Enforcement Weekly Report 05/15 - 05/21/2015

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
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Division of Law Enforcement
FWC logo and law enforcement badge 
Weekly Report

May 15, 2015 thru May 21, 2015

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


Lieutenant Keen and Officer Palmer responded to the Bailey Bridge regarding a person who had jumped off the bridge and was refusing to get into a rescue boat from the local fire department.  After Lieutenant Keen and Officer Palmer arrived, the subject agreed to get into the FWC vessel, but changed his mind once alongside the patrol vessel.  The officers and two members of the fire department then grabbed and lifted the subject onto the vessel where he was secured and turned over to a local police officer waiting at a nearby boat ramp.

Officers Palmer and Price were working pompano fishers along Bay County’s beaches when they checked a parasail/jet ski rental business in Mexico Beach. The officers had warned the business the previous year concerning liability insurance.  The business did not have the required insurance and was cited for the violation.

Investigator Lee and Officer Lipford responded to a capsized vessel just off a sand bar west of the Mexico Beach Canal and a large monofilament gill net was found washed up nearby.  The vessel was towed to a nearby boat ramp where the officers determined the vessel’s engine was stolen.  The registered owner was called, but only his fiancĂ© was available to speak to the officers.  She said the motor was purchased from Craigslist and they had a bill of sale. The boat, motor, trailer and net were seized pending further investigation.


Officer Hutchinson and Investigator Brown were patrolling the Escambia River Wildlife Management Area when they observed three kayakers paddling in a lake along the river.  They made contact with the kayakers and discovered that none of them had PFDs and one of them had been fishing without a license.  A records check revealed an outstanding warrant on one of the kayakers.  After placing him in custody, the officers found the subject to be in possession of marijuana.  He was charged for possession of cannabis and transported to the Escambia County Jail on the warrant.

Officers and investigators responded to a single vessel accident where the vessel struck the pilings of the eastbound span of the I-10 Bridge and immediately sank.  The operator spent the next 12 hours atop the cobia tower before another fisherman spotted the man and called 911.  The man was taken by air-ambulance to Sacred Heart Hospital and immediately taken into surgery. The man is in critical condition. Investigator Hughes is conducting the investigation.


Officers Pifer and Corbin were conducting routine water patrol when they observed a vessel under the Marler Bridge in Destin displaying a dive flag.  As the officers approached the vessel, a diver surfaced and was in possession of a spear gun and several fish.  Shortly after, another diver surfaced and was in possession of a spear gun and several fish.  Officer Corbin instructed the divers to board their vessel and to place all fish inside the vessel for inspection.  While conducting their inspection, the officers determined that one of the divers had thrown his fish back into the water because he thought a couple may have been too small.  Both divers were cited for spearfishing within 100 yards of a bridge where fishing is legally permitted and one was cited for interfering with an FWC officer.  Later in the week while conducting boating safety and fisheries inspection in the Destin Pass, they stopped a vessel returning from the Gulf.  Their fisheries inspection revealed one undersized greater amberjack onboard the vessel.  The captain of the vessel was cited for the violation.

Officers Molnar, Pifer and Corbin responded to a complaint regarding a sailboat that drifted into a private dock.  Upon the officers’ arrival, the owner of the vessel was on scene along with another individual.  A records check on one of the subjects revealed an active arrest warrant out of Alabama for larceny. The subject was arrested and booked into the Okaloosa County Jail.

Over the last week, Officers Pifer, Corbin and Molnar have individually investigated four separate cases and cited an individual in each case for failure to transfer vessel title within 30 days of change in ownership.

Lieutenant Suggs and Officer Maltais responded to a boating accident in Destin involving three personal watercraft and a pontoon boat.  All the vessels involved were rentals.  An investigation into the livery revealed multiple violations.  After consulting with the State Attorney’s Office, Officer Maltais issued a total of seven misdemeanor charges to the livery.  The charges were for not verifying boating safety certification compliance with the operators, insufficient demonstration and safety briefing, and insufficient boating safety certification for livery staff.


The Fin Cat crew was on patrol in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico south of Pensacola.  The crew initiated a boarding on a recreational vessel with three persons onboard who were actively fishing. Prior to boarding, the subjects were asked if they “had any luck.” One of them responded that they just got there.  He was then asked if they had any fish onboard.  He reiterated that they just got there and only had bait.  During their inspection, the boarding team discovered eight undersized red snapper, a red snapper fillet, and six undersized greater amberjack, the largest measuring 24 inches in length.  All three subjects were issued federal citations.

Officer Lewis was on patrol in Blackwater River State Forest when he observed a man and woman camping.  Officer Lewis observed the man in possession of a pistol.  The couple was also in possession of alcoholic beverages which are prohibited in the area they were in.  A records check revealed that the man had a domestic violence injunction against him and could not possess a firearm.  The firearm was seized and the man was arrested for possession of a firearm while currently a subject of a protection order.



This past weekend, Officers Manning and Webb participated in the first annual Lionfish Removal Festival in Pensacola.  FWC sponsored the event to promote awareness of lionfish.  Over the two‑day event, several hundred people participated.  The officers handed out relevant pamphlets and answered questions.


Get your re-entry tag before Hurricane season starts

Franklin County has a program in place for Franklin County Residents to return to their homes after a disaster strikes.

In the past the Re-Entry tags issued to residents had an expiration date. We are pleased to inform residents that their tag no longer expires. If they have a re-entry tag in their possession and has an expiration date the tag does not expire.

If you have moved out of your zone such has Carrabelle, Eastpoint, St George Island, or Apalachicola, a new tag must be issued reflecting your new address.

If you do not have a re-entry tag you can get yours by going to www.franklinemergencymanagement.com or at the Franklin  County Emergency Management office at 28 airport rd. Apalachicola


Construction Activities Suspended for Memorial Day Weekend

Chipley – To promote safety and reduce congestion over the Memorial Day weekend, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is suspending normal road construction activities on all major roads in Northwest Florida.  There will be no work on state roads requiring lane restrictions from Saturday, May 23 through Monday, May 25.  All major roads will be open to normal traffic.

If an emergency situation occurs during the upcoming holiday weekend that requires a lane closure, repairs will continue until that lane is reopened to the traveling public and all safety related issues that impede the traveling public have been addressed.

Motorists are reminded to use caution while traveling through work zones around barricades and equipment on current projects. Travelers can access Florida’s 511 service from cell phones, landlines, and the Internet at www.FL511.com to receive updates on travel in the area.

For more information, follow the Florida Department of Transportation District Three on Twitter @myfdot_nwfl or like us on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/MyFDOTNWFL.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Budget uncertainty forces county to reject request for new library worker

County Commissioner this week rejected a request to hire a new part time worker for the Franklin County Public Library.
Library director Anne Birchwell made the request in an effort to expand library hours later into the evening, which she said would allow the library to offer a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program for local teens.
She does not have the manpower to provide the extra services at this time and said it would cost the county about 12 thousand dollars a year to hire a permanent part-time worker.
County Commissioners, however, said they can’t agree to that request at this time.
The library doesn’t have the funds in its budget for a new worker so the money would have to come out of the county budget.
The bigger problem is that the state has not yet approved its budget and won’t even begin discussing it until the legislature meets in special session in June.
Since much of the library budget is state funded the county is concerned that library funding could be cut which means the library might have to cut services, not expand them.

Commissioners say that until the state works through its budget issues there is no way for them to agree to more hiring.


Gulf state recreational red snapper season opens Memorial Day weekend

          The recreational red snapper season for Gulf state waters opens to harvest Memorial Day weekend. Red snapper is a popular species that has a strong economic impact for many coastal communities throughout Florida.
          The 2015 season will start the Saturday before Memorial Day (May 23) and run through July 12, closing July 13. This season will resume for all of Labor Day weekend (Sept. 5-7) and finish with Saturdays and Sundays throughout the rest of September and all of October, with the last day of harvest being Sunday, Nov. 1. State waters in the Gulf are from shore to 9 nautical miles. This results in a 70-day recreational red snapper season in Gulf state waters.
          In Gulf federal waters this year, anglers fishing from private boats and anglers fishing from federally permitted for-hire vessels will have different season lengths. Federal waters will openJune 1 for both groups and will remain open through June 10, closing June 11, for anglers fishing from private boats. For federally permitted for-hire vessels, the season will remain open throughJuly 14, closing July 15. Federal waters in the Gulf start at 9 nautical miles and extend out to about 200 nautical miles.
          Anglers targeting red snapper in Gulf waters off Florida (excluding Monroe County) from a private boat need to sign up for the Gulf Reef Fish Survey prior to fishing. Sign up at a local retail store, tackle shop or tax collector’s office; by calling 1-888-FISHFLORIDA (347-4567); or online atLicense.MyFWC.com.
          For information on Gulf red snapper, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Snapper.” Learn more about the Gulf Reef Fish Survey, including how to sign up, by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Reef Fish Survey.”