A gentleman from Georgia’s St. Simons Island was complaining on Facebook recently about the lack of progress on repairing damage to Fernandina Beach’s downtown marina caused by Hurricane Matthew last October.
Here’s what he said:
“I‘m not sure who the commissioners there are and I know they have a thankless job. But those of us from St Simons (I’m sure other areas too) who enjoy taking our boats down to your marina for a day of shopping, dining or even just spending a weekend at the Ritz really hope the docks will get repaired there soon.
Myself and many of my boating friends have been unable to reserve dock space due to storm damage from a year ago.
Please let your village leaders know those of us from other islands can’t spend money on your island.”
Well sir, I’m sure you’ll be delighted to learn that despite the fact the marina is still a mess with busted docks, inoperable gas pumps, and boats sitting in mud, we’ll soon have a new airport terminal, that almost looks like an airplane, except it won’t have a nose or a tail. How about that? Excited?
Thank our City Commission, which you think has a thankless job, and which voted 3-2 July 18 to spend $4.39 million to construct a new airplane terminal for all those folks with airplanes. Since Amelia Island doesn’t have commercial air traffic, privately owned and corporate aircraft are the only ones that fly in and out of here. I imagine you’re wetting yourself in anticipation.
I conducted an informal poll and nobody on my street owns an airplane and none of my pals that share barstools next to me at PJD’s Beer & Wine Garden in Fernandina Beach have one either. However, many of my neighbors and drinking buddies own boats. Further investigation also reveals that the majority of folks that do own airplanes around here live in the luxurious gated communities on the island’s south end around the Ritz Carlton and Amelia Island Plantation resorts, that are not in Fernandina Beach city limits, and therefore don’t pay city taxes.
Our City Manager, Dale Martin, says he expects revenue from an annual car auction and race car event at the airport to help fund the new terminal. The car race is not exactly the Indianapolis 500, but nonetheless it’s a race where people drive cars around in endless circles and those attending drink large quantities of beer, which is the only thing about car racing that makes any sense.
People don’t watch automobile racing, they only listen to it, because there is actually nothing to see. It’s just a loud noise fading in and out with an occasional crash.
Many years ago an editor sent me to cover the Watkins Glen, NY Grand Prix and as I settled into my press box seat, all I could see were blurs zipping past on the piece of race track below that was actually visible from the press box. There was lots of free booze and food and other sports writers to talk to, but absolutely nothing to see, just loud blurs occasionally whizzing past us.
I decided to wander the infield and see what the spectators were up to. What they were up to I can’t describe here in detail. Watkins Glen is near Cornell University in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York. When I was assigned to cover this race in 1968, it was the era of “free love” and that’s exactly what the spectators – students whose parents thought they were in the library — were up to. I’m not sure any of them were even aware there was an automobile race taking place. And after the whole thing was over, and British race car driver Jackie Stewart was awarded the winner’s trophy, the drunken, half naked crowd celebrated by burning down the outhouses, throwing up, and passing out.
But back to the Fernandina Beach airport terminal and marina issue.
Here’s our airport deal. The Fernandina Beach City Commission is determined to create a “Build- It-To-Look-Like-An-Airplane” terminal that resembles a Corsair F4U, a plane that flew out of the Fernandina Beach airport during World War II, but we’ll have to spot them a nose and a tail.
A little over two weeks ago the commission voted to accept a $4.39 million “It’ll-almost-look-like-an-airplane” bid, close to two million bucks over the $2.6 million originally budgeted. One bid came in at more than $7 million. However, the tail section piece on that one would have cost between $400,000 and $1.1 million, and they decided that was too much money for a piece of tail. No nose section either as that was also too costly.
So we’ll have an airport terminal that looks like a set of Corsair F4U airplane wings for all those folks who own airplanes to enjoy, and for boaters we have a marina that resembles the Titanic.
One Down, One To Go: Local attorney Clinch Kavanaugh announced by letter that he is withdrawing as a candidate for the Fernandina Beach City Commission leaving only incumbent Tim Poynter and Philip Chapman III to compete for the Group 2 seat.
Despite Poynter’s misguided “yes” vote to build a silly airport terminal that will resemble some kind of Rube Goldberg contraption (see above story), I’m still supporting him, as I firmly believe he’s the smartest guy sitting on that panel of five and, despite the airport vote, has the best interests of the city at heart.
Doctor Ronald “Chip” Ross would do the voters a huge favor if he dropped out as well, and if he doesn’t the voters would do everybody a favor November 7 by voting for Orlando Avila, a local businessman and father of four who is also seeking that Group 3 seat now held by Mayor Robin Lentz, who is not running for reelection. Retired engineer Medardo Monzon, a community volunteer and former chemical executive, is also running for that seat and also would be better than Ross, who, if he won would make the Jerry Springer Show look tame.
Ross has so far cost the city’s tax payers $20,000 because of two misguided lawsuits he has filed.
Not only are tax payers on the hook for the $20K because of the dopey doc’s legal antics, but the suits are also keeping a couple out of a house in the historic district they spent thousands of dollars to restore. The $20K is the cost of the city’s $10K insurance deductible each on the two cases. Ross doesn’t care.
In addition, the litigation-happy doc also opposes the building of a 225-unit apartment complex in the muck hole he thinks is a wetlands at the corner of South 14th and Lime, apartments that would provide much needed affordable housing.
With Down Under, new boutique hotels, Gator’s Dockside, Salt Life, expansion at the mill and more businesses opening within the next 2-18 months, the island desperately needs housing for the hundreds of employees these businesses and others will employ. But Doc Ross’s prescription is an expensive dose of “no growth here unless I alone approve it” has local businesses and tax payers suffering severe and expensive side effects. In a letter to the editor of the local News-Leader this guy even admits his lawsuits are costly to the city, but says he doesn’t give a rip.
Fernandina Beach is not his first venue for screwing over community residents and filing irksome legal actions. According to news reports in the BayNet.com an online news publication in Southern Maryland, Ross caused one hell-of-a brouhaha on Solomon’s Island, MD before hightailing it out of there to annoy us on Amelia Island.
Apparently Ross has a habit of trying to force property owners to build or not build and sell or not sell anything he doesn’t favor having built or sold. According to news reports he tried to strip a local bar there of its liquor license and had legal charges brought against him said a news publication there in September 2006. The entire, very bizarre report of Dr. Ross’ activities can be found by going to: http://www.thebaynet.com/articles/0906/prominent-tiki-bar-foe-charged-with-intoxicated-endangerment.html. The Washington Post also reported on the loopy doc’s antics and it can be read in the May 28, 2011 Washington Post (At the famed Tiki Bar in Southern Maryland, it’s the … – Washington Post ) as well as other publications in that area.
This guy does enough damage as a private citizen. His election to the Commission would be a disaster for the city as he would take a scalpel to our wallets and remove as much cash as possible, putting the city on life support, then pulling the plug.
Know Your Enemy: Linda and I attended the movie Dunkirk a few days ago at the B&B theater on South 14th Street and can report that with the exception of one serious flaw we thought the film was well done and the theater very comfortable and in excellent operating order since its latest repair efforts. However, in the opening scenes of the film a background explanation appeared on the screen explaining the storyline saying that in 1940 allied expeditionary forces were trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk, France with the “enemy” closing in. The “enemy?” What the hell is that all about? As far as I can recall Germans were mentioned just once near the end of the film by a rescued British soldier reading out loud a newspaper account of a Churchill speech. Nazis were never mentioned, but I think I did get a glimpse of a swastika on one of the “enemy’s” planes. During World War II British soldiers didn’t call the Germans “the enemy”. They called them “Krauts,” “Jerries,” “the Hun,” and worse. Despite boasting one of the most educated and cultured populations in the world in the 1930s and the 1940s the Germans went mad and enslaved and slaughtered millions of people. With the politically correct crap being taught in today’s classrooms kids probably left the theater thinking Europe was once overrun by Martians. Good grief!
The “You Paid How Much For THAT?” Department: The price of college tuition has outpaced inflation by four to six percent over the past 40 years reports Jason Morgan in Chronicles Magazine. He says it is now 1,122 percent more expensive than it was in 1978.
And what are today’s graduates getting for all that money and for burying themselves in student loan debt? Are they the ones who will replace our knees and hips? Or are they hoping to make their way because they studied Bolivian Queer Folkart at Bowdain or earned a degree in Nannying from Louisville’s Sullivan University? Or how about a degree in Puppetry from the University of Connecticut where out of state tuition is just $14,102 per semester for those clamoring to fill all those vacancies for puppet masters. The more they cost the less they are worth. None of these absurd diplomas are worth a dime and are an insult to sheepskin.
If I was hiring I’d prefer an applicant who checked the box saying he or she has a criminal record rather than one with a bachelor’s degree. With the ex-con there’s probably a far better chance that person has learned a marketable skill while serving time.
Things I Wish I Had Said: “After years of feeling culturally bullied by liberal taste- makers for believing the ‘wrong’ things, many voters had concluded that it was time to hire a bully of their own. Fortunately, the left-wing outrage brigade has taken Trump’s surprise victory in stride, engaging in constructive self-reflection and working hard to mitigate some of their most self-destructive impulses. Just kidding; they’ve lost their damn minds.” Townhall.com’s Political Editor Guy Benson.
Google This! A Google engineer wrote a memo that was widely circulated on an in-house forum where the company encourages employees to speak up about company programs and policies. The engineer said that the company has a viewpoint on diversity and a political correctness problem that is hostile to dissenting views. For saying that Google fired him, thereby validating the premise of his memo. To further confirm the fired engineer’s point Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a memo to all company employees saying “Our co-workers shouldn’t have to worry…each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting,” having literally just fired a co-worker for effectively opening his mouth and speaking. Pichai is in fact telling employees that any other wrong–thinkers among them will probably also be shown the door too. Not a nice place to work I would think.
An Inconvenient Truth: The average annual electricity consumption for a residential utility customer in America is 10,812 kilowatt-hours (kWh), or 901 kWh per month. In the past 12 months, climate change crusader Al Gore’s Nashville estate consumed 230,889 kWh. The usage equals 21.3 times more energy than a typical American household consumes in a month. Source: National Policy Analysis as reported by Georgia Public Policy Foundation.
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Pit Master Rodney Stubbs, of the South 14th Street Island Barbecue has added his Island Stew to the menu and after just one serving I’m hooked. This stuff is really, really good. What’s in it? Potatoes, pork, ground beef, okra and more, along with Rodney’s secret spices. “Brunswick has its stew and we have Island Stew,” says Rodney. I’m going back for more. They also reported that they’re now doing a booming catering business so if you’ve got guests you want to impress give ’em a call at 904/624-7811 and you and your friends will also enjoy the best brisket east of the Mississippi River. Friend Joe Murphy and I enjoyed lunch at the Amelia Island Club’s Sea Oats Restaurant Thursday where Joe is a member. I am not one of the Fat Men From Space reviewers but was urged by Joe to try the club’s burger, which I did and if I was a Fat Man reviewer it would get a three star rating as this was an excellent half pound of medium rare beef topped with a very thick slice of red onion, two slices of tomatoes, and cheese, hold the lettuce please. It came with a side of sweet potato fries and a large pickle spear, all for $10. Folks, this is one heck of a deal, but there’s a catch. You’ve got be a member or a member’s guest to dine in this great location snuggled behind the Omni complex, overlooking a pool full of very attractive people. Hey 10 bucks at a private club for a burger that size and that good! WOW! Thanks Joe. This coming Tuesday evening stop by PJD’s Beer & Wine Garden at 12 South 2nd Street and say “happy birthday” to downtown Hampton Inn hotelier Bob Ramshaw and listen to Dan Voll serenade him with “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother” and “White Socks, Red Necks and Blue Ribbon Beer” in celebration of Bob’s one-half century celebration. Talk about old! Be nice please.