News Briefs for the week of May 19-25, 2022

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Lutheran Church plans ‘Rummage For Riches’ sale

Lord of Life Lutheran Church will hold its third annual “Rummage for Riches” sale from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 21. This is the church’s second largest fundraising event of the year after its pumpkin patch.

The pavilion will be filled with goods in about eight different categories ranging from kitchen and home décor to furniture, things for kids, pets, outdoor/sports, electronics, clothing and jewelry.

Scouts from troops 288 and 291 chartered with Lord of Life will assist with the sale, setting up tables, sorting items and helping as runners on the day of the sale.

Hilda Markantonatos is this year’s rummage sale coordinator.

Lord of Life Lutheran Church is part of the Florida-Bahamas Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The church is located at 276 Roscoe Blvd. North in Ponte Vedra Beach. For more information, go to LordofLifePVB.org.

CareerSource virtual hiring fair is May 19

Job seekers can consider work opportunities available from more than 30 employers throughout the region during the CareerSource Northeast Florida virtual hiring fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, May 19.

Employers representing a wide range of industries have signed up for the event including Unison Industries, Fanatics, Jax Federal Credit Union, Unison Industries, Veritas Steel, Woodforest National Bank and more.

Job seekers must register to take part in the hiring event. Registration is open at bit.ly/mayvirtualhiringfair.

CareerSource schedules virtual job fairs throughout the year to connect job seekers with open positions. For more information about this and other events, go to  careersourcenefl.com.

Shredding event planned in Nocatee

A community shredding event, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Palm Valley, will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 21, at the Nocatee branch of Vystar. The event benefits local Rotary charities.

The cost is $20 for the first bag or box. Donations for additional bags are optional. Cash is appreciated, though credit cards will be accepted.

Drop off the bags or boxes of documents to be shredded, and volunteers will do the lifting.

The address for the Vystar branch is 100 Village Lake Drive, Ponte Vedra Beach.

Learn how to how to craft satisfying story endings

Award-winning author Ken Pelham will explain the importance of delivering a strong ending in his presentation “Big Finish! Writing the Story Climax” at the Saturday, May 28, meeting of the FWA Ponte Vedra Writers group, 10 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Branch Library.

Pelham, a Central Florida author, will share his secrets for crafting the best and most effective ending for the story the writer is telling, sharing strategies of great storytellers and how to put them to work for today’s writers.

Pelham has won multiple awards for his short stories, novels and nonfiction. In October, his novelette, “The Medusa Jump,” won the silver award in the Royal Palm Literary Awards, and his nonfiction book, “Gumshoes, Fangs, Rockets & Spies: How Literary Genres Evolve and Change Our World,” won the gold RPLA for history.

The Ponte Vedra Writers group is part of the Florida Writers Association, a statewide, nonprofit organization with nearly 1,500 members dedicated to the support of both aspiring and published writers in any genre. The May 28 meeting is free and open to members and nonmembers alike. For information on FWA go to floridawriters.org.

Supervisor of elections launches new website ahead of election season

The St. Johns County Supervisor of Elections launched a new website Monday, May 16, with a focus on transparency, streamlined navigation and efficient service delivery. Located at votesjc.gov, the site is designed to assist residents, voters, candidates and elected officials in quickly accessing relevant and timely information regarding a variety of election-related topics.

Key data-driven navigation streams are outlined to provide the essential informational points those visiting the website have historically accessed. Primary drop down links, including Elections, Voters, Voter Education, Current Elected Officials and Candidates, were designed to provide convenient access to frequently searched information and documents within just a few clicks.

St. Johns County Supervisor of Elections Vicky Oakes began the redesign process in January with an understanding that the core audiences of residents and voters continue to rely on convenient electronic and digital information channels. The four-month design process involved an internal design team and input from communication and web design professionals as well as St. Johns County residents and voters. The new website is one part of the Supervisor of Elections’ evolving communication program that also includes a new newsletter, new social media platforms and additional community outreach.

Explore the beach at GTM Research Reserve

Join volunteers at the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve for a beach exploration on Saturday, May 21. Collect seashells, search for shark teeth and learn about coastal wildlife. This is a "Beaches 101" experience the whole family will enjoy.

The exploration will begin at 9 a.m. Meet at the GTM Research Reserve Visitor Center, 505 Guana River Road, Ponte Vedra Beach.

The event is free but online registration is required. Register at secure.lglforms.com/form_engine/s/AsLLhAW0sijdu5VZBYAKag?t=1650045658

Newcomers Alumnae to unveil its new name

Newcomers Alumnae, a women’s social club that accepts new members throughout the year, will install new officers at the next monthly luncheon, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. June 1 at Marsh Landing Country Club.  Newcomers Alumnae will also unveil its new name, which was unanimously voted on at the May luncheon. 

Marsh Landing Country Club is located at 25655 Marsh Landing Parkway, Ponte Vedra Beach. 

The cost to attend the luncheon is $23 and reservations must be made by contacting bartshar@comcast.net as soon as possible to reserve a seat. 

St. Augustine mobility fee goes into effect

St. Augustine’s mobility fee, approved on Feb. 14, went into effect on Tuesday, May 17.

The one-time fee is imposed for any new residential or nonresidential development and redevelopment activity that requires a building permit, results in increased use of the existing property and impacts the city’s transportation infrastructure.

The city’s mobility plan consists of four distinct plans that include parking and shuttle alternatives, pedestrian and bicycle improvements that will aid in the reduction of vehicular traffic and congestion in the downtown area and complete street design recommendations to improve quality of life and livability conditions for residents. 

Answers to frequently asked questions and additional materials are available on the city’s website at CityStAug.com/mobility.

Questions about the mobility fee and plan may be directed to Planning and Building Director Amy Skinner at 904-825-4320.

Workshops planned for flood mitigation grant program

The City of St. Augustine will offer several open house workshops with Quality Engineering and Surveying to provide flood mitigation assistance guidance to residents and will also include a workshop specifically for contractors.

The workshops will be held in The Alcazar Room of City Hall, 75 King St., at 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 24, for contractors, and 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, for residents.

As part of the application process, residents must provide three elevation and or reconstruction quotes from qualified elevation firms. However, many qualified firms were not able to participate last year.

Contractors who provide elevation, reconstruction or flood mitigation services are encouraged to attend the contractor workshop.

Following the resident workshop, Quality Engineering and Surveying staff will be available to schedule individual appointments and site visits with residents.

For questions in advance of the workshop, contact Zachary Gibbons, project coordinator, Quality Engineering and Surveying, at 225-698-1600 or by email at zgibbons@qesla.com.

Sulzbacher honors Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville with award

The Sulzbacher Beaches Health Center, a health care facility operated in Jacksonville Beach by Sulzbacher, honored Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville on Thursday, May 5, with the “2022 Beaches Healthy Hero” award at Casa Marina Hotel & Restaurant. The award was presented as part of Fiesta on the Beach, a fundraising event benefiting the health center.

The award was created in 2011 to annually honor and recognize individuals, organizations or agencies that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to improving the health and well-being of the beaches community.

For many years, The Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville has shared its expertise with Sulzbacher as medical services expanded to meet the needs of the community.

St. Johns County to feature artwork by foster care community

May is National Foster Care Month, and to mark the occasion, St. Johns County officials invite the community to view the “Celebrating Experience Through Diverse Voices” art exhibition.

The exhibit will feature challenges and triumphs experienced by the foster care community. The artists include children, parents and staff represented by Guardian Ad Litem.

The art display is free and open to the public now to May 31 in the Rotunda Gallery of the St. Johns County Administration Building, located at 500 San Sebastian View in St. Augustine.

Taco & Tequila Festival tickets on sale now

The second annual Jacksonville Taco & Tequila Festival will be a two-day event this year in Riverside Park next to historic 5 Points. The festival will take place Sept. 24-25 and will feature Mexican cuisine from more than 20 restaurants and food trucks, as well as tequila stations, craft margaritas, local makers, games, live music and more.

This year's entertainment will include musicians and bands in the blues, reggae and electronic genres. Headliners and the line-up will be announced on June 1.

The festival may be enjoyed with a general admission pass, but there will also be a limited number of VIP and Tequila Sampling Experiences available for purchase. The festival is a fundraiser for several Jacksonville nonprofits benefiting the arts, community enrichment and education.

For tickets and more information, go to JaxTacoFest.com. Prices range from $20 to $250.

In-person instruction guarded against achievement gaps during pandemic

A new report published by Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research has found that remote learning during the pandemic was the primary driver for racial and economic achievement gaps, particularly in high poverty schools.

Florida-specific data already confirmed that in-person instruction led to better learning outcomes, as shown in the initial English language arts results of the 2021 Grade 3 Florida Standards Assessment and the overall FSA results.

The report, “Road to COVID Recovery,” used testing data from 2.1 million students in 10,000 high schools in 49 states and the District of Columbia and concluded that racial and economic achievement gaps did not widen where schools provided early in-person instruction.

“Interestingly, gaps in math achievement by race and school poverty did not widen in school districts in states such as Texas and Florida and elsewhere that remained largely in-person,” said Thomas Kane, professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Achievement gaps dramatically increased in high poverty schools with remote learning. The report estimates that students in high-poverty schools that relied on remote learning more than half of the 2021 school year lost roughly more than half a year of academic growth.

Declining test scores, as evidenced in the report’s testing data, are generally associated with lower graduation rates, lower college admissions and lower lifetime earnings, Kane noted.

INK! plans event for school employees

INK! (Investing in Kids) will host its Community Appreciation for School Employees event at 4-8 p.m. June 11 for all St. Johns School District staff and their families. Festivities will be held at the St. Johns County Fairgrounds, 5840 State Road 207, Elkton.

According to INK! Executive Director Donna Lueders, local individuals and businesses are helping to fund the family-friendly day of activities and the music entertainment.

Jordan Fletcher, a former St. Johns County resident, Bartram Trail High School graduate and Nashville-based country music artist, will headline the music portion of the event. Opening acts include Davis Loose, a St. Augustine High School graduate and Nashville-based country artist, plus Dean Winter and the Heat playing country and Americana favorites.

The event is open to all St. Johns County school employees, school administrators and support staff at the 45 public schools in the district. Lueders said close to 6,000 employees are invited to the festivities.

 

— Compiled by Shaun Ryan

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