Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The state of Florida is reminding fishermen and coastal residents to be careful if you come in contact with sawfish in Florida waters

The state of Florida is reminding fishermen and coastal residents to be careful if you come in contact with sawfish in Florida waters.

Smalltooth sawfish were once found throughout Florida and were commonly encountered from Texas to North Carolina.

Biologist believe the current population is only 5 percent of what is was 200 years ago thanks mainly to habitat loss and damage caused by commercial and recreational fishermen.

In 2003, the species was listed as endangered

Most fishermen don’t target the species but the fish’s saw shaped nose makes them easy to snag with almost any type of hook or net.

If you happen to catch a sawfish while fishing, do not pull it out of the water and do not try to handle it.

Refrain from using ropes or restraining the animal in any way, and never remove the saw.

It is important that you untangle it if necessary and release the sawfish as quickly as possible by cutting the line as close to the hook as you can. 

Franklin County is doing its part to help educate boaters about the species – the county has educational signs about smalltooth sawfish at water access points in Franklin County telling fishermen the safest way to handle the sawfish if they are caught, and how to safely remove them from hooks or from nets.

 If you should see a sawfish in local waters please report it.


You can submit reports at SawfishRecovery.org, email sawfish@MyFWC.com or call 1-844-4SAWFISH. 


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Franklin County has decided to temporarily suspend its recycling program



Franklin County has decided to temporarily suspend its recycling program.

The action was taken Tuesday at the request of solid waste director Fonda Davis who has said for a number of years that the recycling program costs the county more money than its really worth.

Franklin County does not require homeowners to have trash pickup so some people dump their household trash in the recycling bins or in the piles of yard debris people leave for county pickup.

That requires manpower to clean up.

He also pointed out that the trucks used in the recycling program are getting old.

There is one currently in the shop that will cost 21 thousand dollars to repair.

Many of the bins also need to be replaced at about 5000 dollars a piece.

The biggest issue at this time, however, is that there is just no market for the recycled materials.

The price of recycling has dropped substantially in the past few years because China is no longer accepting recycled materials.

Because of that the county is basically storing local recycling with nowhere to sell it – and soon they won't have enough space to keep it and it will wind up in the landfill anyway.

The commission did not say for how long the program would be suspended but commissioners plan to discuss a mobile recycling program to start in the next fiscal year if they can find money for it in the budget.

The vote to suspend the program was unanimous.

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FWC approves 2021 and beyond Gulf County bay scallop season


At its February meeting in Tallahassee, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) set the long-term bay scallop season in Gulf County (including St. Joseph Bay) to open Aug. 16 through Sept. 24 each year beginning in 2021.
The 2020 season is also Aug. 16 through Sept. 24, and was set late last year after working closely with the local community.
The chosen dates allow the FWC to balance stakeholder and community desires with the sustainability of the scallop populations. Establishing long-term season dates also provides predictability year-to-year. FWC staff will continue monitoring the status of bay scallops in St. Joseph Bay and elsewhere.
Learn more about current bay scallop regulations by visiting MyFWC.com/Marine and clicking on “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops” which is located under the “Crabs, Shrimp and Shellfish” tab.
View the Commission meeting background materials at MyFWC.com/Commission by clicking on “Commission Meetings” and the agenda under “February 19-20, 2020.”




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Agenda for Carrabelle City Commission Special Meeting and Board of Adjustments Meeting

Carrabelle City Commission Special Meeting and Board of Adjustments Meeting

Thursday, February 20, 2020; 10:00 a.m.

Carrabelle City Hall
1206 Hwy 98 East


850-697-3618




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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Peoples South Bank has announced that Sara Ward has been hired as the Branch Manager of their Apalachicola Branch Office

 Peoples South Bank has announced that Sara Ward has been hired as the Branch Manager of their Apalachicola Branch Office.

Sara graduated summa cum laude from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Hospitality Management and a minor in Business Management. 

Sara was Miss Florida Seafood in 2008 and Valedictorian of her Port Saint Joe High School graduating class. 


Sara has worked for her family's seafood business in accounting and sales, has served on the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors since 2015, and continues to dance with Pam Nobles Studio for over 20 years. 


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County officials are discussing moving to a mobile recycling program to help make local recycling more successful

 County officials are discussing moving to a mobile recycling program to help make local recycling more successful.

Numerous stationary recycling centers around the county have been shut down in recent years because people abuse the service.

Franklin County does not require homeowners to have trash pickup so some people dump their household trash in the recycling bins.

Others crawl into the recycling bins and steal the aluminum cans which makes the recycling program less profitable.

The problem has been bad enough that the county has considered doing away with recycling altogether.

Now, however, the county is considering a mobile recycling program which would allow the solid waste department to set up a schedule so they can bring recycling bins into a neighborhood in the morning and remove them again at the end of the day.

The county does not yet have a price for what the mobile recycling program might cost but have asked county staff to investigate that and present the information at a future commission meeting.

If the move is approved it would likely not begin until the next budget year which starts in October.

Until then people can continue to recycle cardboard, newspaper, plastic, aluminum, tin & glass at Vrooman Park in Eastpoint; there are also recycling bins at St. James Bay.
On St. George Island the recycling bins are on Bayshore Drive and in Apalachicola the recycling location is on Commerce Street.
The Carrabelle recycling location is at the old Carrabelle High School.

You can also take your recycling directly to the solid waste department of Highway 65.


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Weems Memorial Hospital in Apalachicola has been awarded two grants through the Big Bend Health Care Coalition to help train hospital and EMS staff

 Weems Memorial Hospital in Apalachicola has been awarded two grants through the Big Bend Health Care Coalition to help train hospital and EMS staff. 
The first grant is for $8000 and will be used to purchase simulation equipment to train Emergency Medical staff.
The second grant is for $10,000 to purchase equipment to setup a coordination and evaluation center at Weems that will be used during simulations and disaster situations. 

Under the terms of the grants, the county will make the initial purchase using money from the county's health care truct fund and will then be reimbursed by the Big Bend Health Care Coalition within 30 days.


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GULF COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE LAW ENFORCEMENT SUMMARY FEBRUARY 10, 2020 – FEBRUARY 16, 2020





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Wakulla County Announces New GIS Portal Available for Citizens



Crawfordville, FL -  The Wakulla County Board of County Commissioners and Department of Planning & Community Development is pleased to announce the Wakulla County GIS Portal.  The GIS Portal is available to the public and was developed to assist citizens in locating a variety of information.  The Portal will initially feature 5 interactive maps to include Fire Hydrant Locations, County Owned Parks and Facilities, Hurricane Evacuation Information, the Wakulla County Future Land Use Map, and a Supervisor of Elections Map. 

When using the Fire Hydrant Locations Map citizens will have access to a tool that allows them to find the closest hydrant located to their address. This tool will also provide homebuyers, realtors, and insurance agents quick, easy and accurate information for reducing insurance rates. Each hydrant location also identifies the water service provider for that area.

The Parks and Facilities map provides residences the opportunity to locate all County owned parks and boat ramp facilities within a set distance of their home. By clicking on a specific location, the user will find a brief description of the facility and what amenities each facility has to offer.

Knowing your Hurricane Evacuation Zone is very important in the event of an emergency.  The Hurricane Evacuation Zone Map will allow you to not only see what zone you are in, but also shows you the closest evacuation route, along with shelter locations within the County. During disaster situations, GIS personnel will work closely with Emergency Management to provide real-time updates regarding zones under evacuation as well as opening of shelter locations. 

The Wakulla County Future Land Use Map allows you to search the Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Designation for lands within the entire County. Convenient access to the Future Land Use Map will ensure citizens are aware of current density allowances, as they relate to new development throughout the County. Each designation contains a brief description of density and intensity provisions.
Use of the Supervisor of Elections Map will aid in identifying your Commissioner and their respective District. This map also demonstrates each Precinct Zone within the County and polling locations to show where you should vote based on your home’s location.

Each map includes a search feature to explore by property address are parcel identification number.  Navigation of the maps may also be conducted by scrolling to a location of interest. Additionally, driving directions may be provided by selecting a desired destination point within the map. Icons within each map may be used to identify points of interest and/or provide details about that such feature.
Check the GIS Portal periodically for updates. Additional maps and updates to existing maps will become available as staff continues to improve the GIS Portal.

The Wakulla County GIS Portal is available for viewing at https://wakulla-county-maps-wakullaplanning.hub.arcgis.com/ and a link can also be found in various locations on the County’s Website (www.mywakulla.com).   For additional information related to this story, please contact Brandon Geiger, GIS Specialist at (850) 926-0919 ext. 747.


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Report horseshoe crab sightings to FWC for science


It’s almost spring and that means it’s peak mating season for horseshoe crabs. Help biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) gather valuable information about these crustaceans by reporting sightings on the online survey. 
Horseshoe crabs mate year-round, and it is most common to see mating groups along the shore in March and April. Beachgoers will likely have the best luck spotting horseshoe crabs around high tide, within a few days of a new or full moon. 
Reporting horseshoe crab sightings provides important information about habitat use, population distribution and environmental conditions for spawning to FWC marine biologists. Although horseshoe crabs have existed for more than 450 million years, scientists are still learning about Florida populations. Public sighting information helps FWC researchers target spawning beaches for the Florida Horseshoe Crab Watch Program, an initiative to collect scientifically accurate data throughout the state. 
If you see a horseshoe crab on its back, you can help it flip back over by gently picking it up (holding both sides of the shell), turning it over, and releasing it back into the water. Simple actions like this help conserve horseshoe crabs and the many other species that depend on them.
The FWC asks the public to report sightings through one of several options. Visit MyFWC.com/HorseshoeCrabs and go to “Report Your Nesting Horseshoe Crab Sighting” to complete the survey. Sightings can also be reported on the FWC Reporter applicationfree to download on Apple or Android smartphones or tablets from the App Store and Google Play. You can also report findings via email at Horseshoe@MyFWC.com or by phone at 866-252-9326. 


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You will likely see some smoke coming from the old St. George Island bridge causeway tomorrow

You will likely see some smoke coming from the old St. George Island bridge causeway tomorrow.

The Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve is planning a prescribed burn for the island on Wednesday.

The burn will clear vegetation and enhance habitat for nesting shorebirds that use the island for much of the year.

There burn will be on a total of 23 acres.


A number of protected bird species nest on the old causeway, including 4 species of terns, as well as black skimmers, brown pelicans, and American oystercatchers. 




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Wakulla County is seeking someone to serve on the county’s Industrial Development Authority

Wakulla County is seeking someone to serve on the county’s Industrial Development Authority.

The IDA was created for financing and refinancing projects for public purposes, and for the fostering economic development in Wakulla County.

To be eligible to serve, members must live and vote in Wakulla county.

Interested applicants should e-mail a letter explaining their interest along with a resume no later than March 5th.

E-mails should go to Melissa Corbett at mcorbett@mywakulla.com.


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The Gulf County Emergency Management Office has closed a number of roads along the Apalachicola river in Gulf County because of recent flooding

The Gulf County Emergency Management Office has closed a number of roads along the Apalachicola river in Gulf County because of recent flooding.

Neal Road, Byrd Parker Drive, and Iola Road are closed to all traffic except to local residents.

They have also closed Lake Grove Rd (Near Gaskin Park), Howard Creek Rd (Near Lower Landing), Old Bay City Rd and Willis Landing.

The action was taken because of high river levels.

The Apalachicola River was near 20 feet at Blountstown on Tuesday.

Flood stage is 15 feet.

The waters are receding but are expected to stay above flood stage into next week.

Emergency Management reminds all drivers to not drive through flooded areas.


If you see flood waters, turn around – don't drown.


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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
Ron DeSantis
Governor

Jeanette Nuñez
Lt. Governor

Noah Valenstein
Secretary


Permitting Application Subscription Service


Subscriber email address: manager@oysterradio.com

  Profile Name: Oyster Radio

Permit: Water - ERP Noticed General Permit
Project Name: GORDON RV PARK
Location Id: 384835
Location Name: Gordon RV Park
County: Gulf
Application Number: 384835-001

For further information, please contact the Northwest District permitting office in Pensacola at (850) 595-8300
Permit: Water - ERP Noticed General Permit
Project Name: BLACKS ISLAND HOTEL
Location Id: 384834
Location Name: Blacks Island Hotel
County: Gulf
Application Number: 384834-001

For further information, please contact the Northwest District permitting office in Pensacola at (850) 595-8300
Permit: Water - ERP Modifications
Project Name: CHARLES GOLDEN
Location Id: 272818
Location Name: CHARLES GOLDEN & JOSEPH WARD
County: Gulf
Application Number: 272818-004

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



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Monday, February 17, 2020

The National Transportation Safety Board has issued a final report regarding a 2018 crash that killed 68 year old Carrabelle resident Gregory Newman

The National Transportation Safety Board has issued a final report regarding a 2018 crash that killed 68 year old Carrabelle resident Gregory Newman.

A friend described him as a "known risk taker."

Newman was killed on February 5th while flying an experimental, amateur-built Sonex Trainer airplane.

The plane collided with terrain following a loss of engine power after takeoff from Carrabelle-Thompson Airport.

The airplane was about halfway down the 4,000-ft-long runway, when a witness heard the engine lose power.

The airplane was about 100 ft above the runway.

Instead of landing on the remaining runway, the pilot made an "aggressive bank" to the left and the airplane stalled and descended "straight down" toward the ground.

An autopsy was conducted by the Office of the Medical Examiner in Tallahassee and the cause of death was "multiple blunt force trauma."

The pilot's blood was submitted by the medical examiner for toxicology and the results were negative for all items tested.

Newman had 571 hours of flight time and was current on his Federal Aviation Administration pilot certification.




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Franklin County Commissioners voted on Friday to keep a 10 million dollar USDA loan active while deciding how or if the money is needed to improve Weems Hospital in Apalachicola

Franklin County Commissioners voted on Friday to keep a 10 million dollar USDA loan active while deciding how or if the money is needed to improve Weems Hospital in Apalachicola.

The loan was approved in 2015 for Franklin County to renovate patient rooms and build a 19 thousand square foot addition to the hospital to provide space for additional lab and outpatient services.

Since that time there has been a lot of debate over what the future of Weems Memorial should be, and USDA now wants the county to either provide a proposal to proceed with the 10 million dollar loan or to de-obligate the funds.

The USDA would like a decision by March the 12th.

The commission held a well-attended special meeting last Friday and the majority of the speakers did not support building a new hospital in Apalachicola.

Many of the speakers supported stand-alone Emergency Department, centrally located in the county, and managed by Ascension Sacred Heart which already operates the hospital in Port St. Joe.

The county commission voted to keep the USDA loan active but did not agree to move forward with building a new hospital.


The Commission will decide on Tuesday whether to schedule a meeting with Ascension Sacred Heart to discuss the issue further. 



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Friday, February 14, 2020

FEMA has approved nearly 3.6 million dollars for the city of Mexico Beach for the cost of emergency protective measures taken after Hurricane Michael

 FEMA has approved nearly 3.6 million dollars for the city of Mexico Beach for the cost of emergency protective measures taken after Hurricane Michael.
 
This grant reimburses the city for repairs to an emergency beach berm following the October 2018 storm, including replacing sand, installing fencing, planting vegetation and building beach access walkways.

FEMA has already approved more than $40.5 million for the city’s Hurricane Michael-related expenses.

This brings the total to more than $44 million.

The grant is funded by FEMA’s Public Assistance program.




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You're going to love all the fun activities this month! - The E-Newsletter from the Carrabelle Chamber of Commerce




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FDLE arrests two for stealing telephone wire


 

For Immediate Release

February 14, 2020


MARIANNA, Fla. – Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested Eddie Earnest, 51, and Encarnacion Burch, 39, both of Marianna, for theft of copper from a utility or communications service provider.  The case was investigated by FDLE and Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.  Holmes County Sheriff’s Office and Marianna Police Department also assisted. 

The investigation shows Earnest and Burch stole copper telephone communication wire strung between telephone poles, causing outages for numerous customers in Jackson, Holmes and Walton counties.    After stealing the wire, the suspects removed the copper, selling it to a second-hand metal dealer. 



Agents arrested Earnest and Burch yesterday afternoon, at Earnest’s residence on Mellow Trail in Marianna.  The pair was booked into the Jackson County Jail.  The Office of the State Attorney, 14th Judicial Circuit, will prosecute the case.



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Red Tide was found in the St. Joe Bay in Gulf County this week.

Red Tide was found in the St. Joe Bay in Gulf County this week.

The algae was found in background concentrations on February the 11th in mid St. Joe Bay as well as from St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.

Red Tide is a microscopic marine algae called Karenia brevis.

In large enough concentrations its toxin paralyzes the central nervous system of fish so they cannot breathe – leading to fish kills. 


Red tide can even affect humans causing skin, eye and throat irritation.


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If you think bats may be living in your building, now is the time to check your attic, eaves or chimney spaces and get rid of them

 If you think bats may be living in your building, now is the time to check your attic, eaves or chimney spaces and get rid of them.
Bat maternity season begins April 15th and runs through August 15th, and during those 5 months it’s illegal to block bats from their roost.
Florida is home to 13 resident bat species, including listed species such as the Florida bonneted bat.
Some bat species roost in buildings and houses and while it is illegal to harm or kill bats in Florida, it is allowed to exclude bats outside of the maternity season.
Bats cannot legally be captured or relocated.
If you would like to see some of the legal ways to exclude bats from your home or other structure, go on-line to MyFWC.com/Bats.







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The 17th annual African-American History Festival will be held this weekend in Apalachicola

The 17th annual African-American History Festival will be held this weekend in Apalachicola.

The event is sponsored by the Hillside Coalition of Laborers for Apalachicola and celebrates the African-American aspect of Franklin County's history.

This year's theme is “Faith, hope, love, family.”

Festivities start today at noon when the vendor booths open and there will be the crowning of the festival royalty at 5:45 PM.

The big day is Saturday.

The day will start with a parade at noon and continues with Live Entertainment, Food, arts and crafts, cultural events and more. 

There is a local talent show, and the popular ethnic fashion show and line dancing.

This year's entertainers include the P and W trio out of Albany, Georgia and the headliner is the 225 Uptown Band out of Dothan, Alabama.

On Sunday there will be an outdoor worship at noon – the festival will officially end at 4 PM on Sunday.

All of the activities take place at Franklin Square on 6th street in Apalachicola.

You can get more information about the event on-line at HCOLA.ORG or like the group on facebook.




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The Basketball courts at the St. George Island lighthouse park will close beginning Monday for repairs

 The Basketball courts at the St. George Island lighthouse park will close beginning Monday for repairs.

The court will be closed starting on the 17th and should reopen for public use on the 22nd.

According the the parks and recreation department, the court will be resurfaced which is badly needs, but will also be refitted so that people can use it for pickleball as well as basketball.

In case you don't know, pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in America and is something of a mix between tennis, racquetball and ping pong.




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Staying fit is a breeze! - the E-newsletter from the Gulf County Tourist Development Council

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Gulf County, FL, is a great place to stay active while on vacation. From kayaking on the Dead Lakes to paddleboarding in the Bay, there are dozens of ways to get a workout done while enjoying the water. If you’re more of a land lover, there are miles of beautiful beaches and bike paths to explore. Or keep your workout more low key and go birdwatching on a slow hike. Whatever you choose will keep you fit in the fresh air! Check out all of the tools we give you in this email and make sure to use them on your next trip!

We want to see you enjoying the fresh air in Gulf County while staying fit. Tag us on Instagram @GulfCountyFL and #InGulf! 
Are you ready for an active vacation, but also one that allows you to take it slow? . From intense work out routines to simple bike rides, we've created a Pinterest Board with the best ways to stay on track while on vacation. This board also shows some great features of Gulf County like our parks and trails.

Bring the taste of GCFL to your home, or enjoy a fresh meal while on vacation in Gulf County. Try our Lemon Garlic Shrimp Kabob! This recipe can be found in our 2020 Visitor Guide, but we've given it to you right in this email.

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Coastline Vacation Rentals
When on vacation, you want the best experience for you are your family. When staying with Coastline Vacation Rentals, that is exactly what you will receive. You may come as guests, but you will leave as a family. So whether it is to spend lazy days on the water, or watching the amazing sunsets, come and see for yourself why our guests return year after year.

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