News Briefs for the Week of Sept. 28-Oct. 4, 2023


Local students recognized in state art contest

Two Palmer Catholic Academy students have been recognized in the 2023 Florida Space Art Contest.

First-grade student Vivian Shafer was one of 12 contest finalists. Students in kindergarten through grade 5 were invited to submit an art piece inspired by the theme “Time Travel to 2123: Florida’s Future as the Space Capital.”

Fifth-grade student Chloe Barry received the Romero Britto Award as the participant who best captured the colorful spirit of Britto’s work.

Chloe, Vivian and the other 11 finalists will receive two tickets to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and the opportunity to participate on a future project with this year’s featured artist, Britto.

Notices sent to inactive voters

The St. Johns County Elections Office has completed its bi-annual list maintenance under the new laws that took effect July 1, resulting in a decrease of active registered voters by 15,416. 

For the bi-annual list maintenance, the supervisor is required to mail a notice to voters who have not voted in the last two federal general elections (2022 and 2020) or contacted the office since November 2020.  

A total 16,688 notices were mailed to these voters on Aug. 4 requesting they complete and return the postcard to the Elections Office.

If voters do not respond to the notice or it is returned as undeliverable by the Post Office, after 30 days the law requires these voters be moved from the active to the inactive list, which begins them on the path to removal from the voter rolls. If they do not vote in two general elections (2024 and 2026), they will be removed from Florida’s voter rolls.

A voter who is on the inactive list is still eligible to vote; however, the voter must first confirm their address.

Allowance increased for group home residents

The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), in partnership with the Florida Legislature, through the Framework for Freedom Budget for Fiscal Year 2023-24, has increased the “personal needs allowance” (PNA), essential funding that promotes community living for eligible individuals.

Those residing in an APD licensed group home and receiving a Social Security benefit will receive a minimum monthly benefit of $164.52, compared to the federal rate of $30.

The PNA is used to help pay any additional costs the person may have, such as haircuts, clothing and toiletries.

For additional information, go to or call 866-273-2273.

Ponte Vedra Woman’s Club plans social

Ponte Vedra Woman’s Club will hold its next social from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 at Palm Valley Outdoors, 377 S. Roscoe Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach. For more information, go to

Palm Valley Market every Tuesday

The Palm Valley Market is held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Tuesday inside the Palm Valley Community Center, 148 Canal Road. The market offers fresh produce, baked goods, local honey, tea, seasonal treats, soap, jewelry, plants and more.

Duval school bus option remains available

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA), in conjunction with Duval County Public Schools, will continue to offer free bus rides to Duval County middle and high school students through the MyRide2School program throughout the 2023-24 school year. 

Eligible students must provide a form of student identification upon boarding a fixed route or First Coast Flyer bus to verify that they attend a public, private or charter middle or high school in Duval County.

For more information on MyRide2School, students and parents in Duval County can go to or call JTA Customer Service at 904-630-3100.

Butler Beach portion of project completed

St. Johns County has completed the Butler Beach Reach portion of the FEMA Dune Enhancement Project, the first of several major fortifications for the county’s coastline.

The Butler Beach Reach includes the shoreline from Ocean Hammock Park through Bryn Mawr Ocean Resort, in addition to a 1,500-foot section from Mary Street to the south.

As part of the Butler Beach Reach portion, St. Johns County placed more than 51,129 cubic yards of sand and planted about 148,500 sea oat units along the berm crest for dune stabilization. As the sea oats grow, the dune system will grow. St. Johns County requests beach visitors stay off the dune and sea oats to avoid damaging this delicate dune system. The county installed 7,200 feet of protective fencing to protect the dune system from foot traffic.

For updates on the FEMA Dune Enhancement Project, go to or contact the coastal management team at 904-209-0260 or

— Compiled by Shaun Ryan