Island Issues

Airport Needs More Hangars, Restrooms, Etc. Not A Disney World Winged Pig In A Poke

Airport Needs More Hangars, Restrooms, Etc. Not A Disney World Winged Pig In A Poke

Fernandina Beach City Commissioner Tim Poynter told me that our airport, which will soon have a $4.9 million “It-almost-looks-like-an-airplane” terminal building, has the highest gas prices of any airport in the area.

Sean McGill, President McGill Aviation, tells me that Commissioner Poynter’s highest gas price” scenario isn’t so and has the numbers to back it up. He’s also not a fan of the “lets-build-it-to-almost-look-like-an-airplane” terminal concept. If McGill had won its bid to continue as Fixed Base Operator (FBO) past their March 31, 2018 expiration date, he says it wouldn’t look like a cheap ride at a state fair (My words not Sean’s). “You can put a Disney attraction out there and it wouldn’t attract one more pilot,” he says.

What the airport needs says McGill are more restrooms, air conditioning, fast wifi and T Hangar space — hangars that enable pilots to self-park their planes and then beat a hasty retreat in and out of the airport.

And the state, for its contributions, says it wants a facility that can withstand a category 4 or 5 hurricane, something the planned new goofy-winged-terminal may not do, at least in some local aviation expert’s opinions.

Most of the funding for this silly terminal building, which won’t have a tail or a nose (too expensive), just a roof that resembles wings, will come from tax payers. Some $1,203,590 will come from state and federal grants, while $750,000 will come from the airport enterprise project. Because it is labeled “grant” money doesn’t mean it isn’t tax payer money. It is. There are no private foundations tossing their money into this mess. The city claims the $750,000 in enterprise money will be replenished from future revenue collected through airport operations. That’s what they said when they built a new facility on the city golf course and that didn’t pan out. Why would this be any different? I have no idea where the rest of the money is coming from but assume the tax payers will find out soon enough.

My friends and I were wondering the other day what state (GA, SC, NC, VA, etc.) the “winged terminal” would be in today, if it had already been constructed when Irma passed through.

As far as fuel prices go there are some airports that are higher and there are some that are lower. It depends which airport you are looking at McGill explains: “We are comparable to the full service FBO at St. Augustine, a little less than the FBO’s at JIA, much less than Hilton Head or Charleston, and more than Palatka or Lake City.”

Why the differences? Simple says McGill. “The city is comparing us to government subsidized and government run FBO’s that do not have a profit incentive,” correctly states McGill, who, along with his father John, has operated as the local FBO since 1998.

“Our detractors for some time have maintained that McGill Aviation has intentionally suppressed business at the airport by price gouging,” he says. “I vehemently deny that. As I told the City Commission and continue to maintain, they are not comparing apples to apples. If they want their real estate appraised at Lake City values, then maybe we could talk.”

New airport control tower.

According to McGill the city also leaves out the cost side of the equation. “Our fuel price includes all taxes and fees. That includes the City of Fernandina Beach fuel fee that is among the highest in the nation at 5% of gross.  Right now that is around $0.30 per gallon.  The new FBO and their sweetheart deal has a fuel flow fee of $0.08-$0.10 per gallon,” he explains

“In short, we are high middle of the competitive set. The sample set that I use is actually derived from the Tourist Development Council (TDC).  Rather than cherry pick airports that I know are higher than us, I use the communities that the TDC uses for comparing average daily room rates for hotels. Using that set, we are high middle.  Definitely not the cheapest, but not the highest in the nation that some might want people to believe.”

McGill also says he finds it interesting “that some of the same people that complain about fuel prices are bragging that Amelia Island’s average daily room rate is the second highest in Florida, only behind Key West.” A contradiction? You decide.

The deal awarding 8 Flags the bid to become FBO is one that has many locals with knowledge of the aviation industry scratching their heads as much as the “Build-it-to-almost-look-like-an-airplane” terminal decision.

In its bid McGill offered to pay to city $500,000 as well as rent. The 8 Flags bid accepted by the city offered $1.2 million, but it gets it all back in rent credit say McGill. It looks like somebody at the city didn’t do the math or has it in for McGill.

For the past two years McGill says he has requested financial details of the 8 Flags bid through a public records request and hasn’t received anything yet he claims.

And we haven’t even started trying to explain the Passero Associates consulting group – the folks pushing the goofy airport design concept — and its cozy relationship with the city. At its September 5 session the Commission approved a $218,000 retainer fee to Passero, consultants on this project, to cover Passero’s services for administration and inspections during this project.

Airport terminal’s future architectural award.

Commissioner Poynter told me that once the “Build-it-to-almost-look-like-an-airplane” terminal is complete it will be on the cover of several publications because of its unique design. I’m inclined to believe him as Mad Magazine, the Onion and the local News Wrecker would certainly feature it, as their editors couldn’t make up a scenario this preposterous.

Hats off to Commissioners Robin Lentz and Roy Smith who voted “no” on the whacky winged building concept.


Jacksonville’s Disgrace: Some 15 Jacksonville Jaguars were among the 200 or so NFL players who refused to stand for the American National Anthem during their game against Baltimore in London this past Sunday.

Their actions, which they claim are to protest alleged anti-black actions by police in the U.S. and President’s Trump’s remarks about them, were more repugnant than other teams that did the same as the Jaguars not only embarrassed themselves and their city, but displayed that disrespect in a foreign country. Ironically they then stood for “God Save the Queen,” the National Anthem of Great Britain, the country that introduced slavery to the Western Hemisphere.

Following his team’s display of contempt, team owner Shad Kahn then made a pathetic statement criticizing President Trump’s remarks about NFL players who refuse to honor the flag, saying he was proud of his team. I’m not a fan of President Trump’s outrageous off-the-cuff, ill-advised comments, and I was never a fan of this awful Jacksonville football team either. And now I have reason to ignore it totally. Misguided NFL owners, coaches, players, and the mealy-mouthed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell say players are exercising their right of expression.

Future NFL game crowd!

The befuddled Goodell said he’s proud of the unity the NFL is showing. Really? Then why are players fined for dancing in the end zones, wearing colored shoes and socks, but not for disrespecting the nation’s flag and anthem? Pages A62-63 of the NFL rule books says players must all be on the field and respectively stand at attention during the anthem. Why aren’t the rules enforced? The real losers in all this nonsense are fans who watch football as a respite from their jobs and other divisions in their lives. The NFL players and their clueless owners are taking a well-deserved national beating on Facebook and in newspaper letters to the editor, and an infrequent Jaguar victory was overshadowed by the kneeling jerk’s brummagem.

Most of these loopy footballers don’t have a clue what’s going on or why they are kneeling as evidenced by one player identified only as Lewis in the daily Florida Times-Union Jaguar promotional newsletter, who was quoted as saying: “…whatever message we’re going to send we’re going to do it together.” With all his wealth maybe Kahn can buy a spine. But I suspect instead he’ll buy Colin Kaepernick who will fit right in with his group of millionaire ball-playing misfits.

What the NFL needs is leadership like that of the late Joe Foss, who was the first commissioner of the old American Football League before its merger with NFL. Foss, a World War II Medal of Honor-winning Marine Corps fighter pilot, also served as governor of South Dakota and head of the National Rifle Association. Does anyone think he would tolerate this disgusting taking-a-knee crap?

I always get a lump in my throat when the national anthem is played prior to a sporting event, at military ceremonies, and elsewhere. After watching these NFL  twits kneeling during the anthem I got a knot in the pit of my stomach.

The NFL’s adolescent one-percenters have traded the majestic purple mountains and fruited plains for  brazen contempt and disrespect while they bath luxuriously in the wealth the American culture enabled them to produce, and which sustains their lifestyle. How long will America’s “deplorables”, who fuel their extravagant lifestyles with their hard-earned cash, put up with this shameful public display?

The only thing these dim football players and owners have accomplished with their childish antics is to alienate an already thinning fan base, particularly in Jacksonville, an area surrounded by U.S. military bases.

Wearing a Jaguars jersey now will be as popular as escorting a North Korean flag-waving Jane Fonda to an American Legion or VFW cook out. I concur with what former Arkansas Governor Michael Huckabee said: “I wish that some of these players who get on one knee would get down on both knees and thank God they live in the United States.”


But Wait! It Gets Worse! Pittsburgh Steeler Head Coach Mike Tomlin is upset that offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva was not “respectful of our football team” because he decided to honor the country for which he’s courageously risked his life by NOT snubbing the national anthem?

If anyone on that roster has earned the right to do what he did, it’s Alejandro Villanueva.  Kneeling for the national anthem is not honorable or bold, it’s egregiously disrespectful and craven.

There is something very wrong when a genuine American hero is isolated by his team and criticized by his coach for standing up for saluting the nation and flag he volunteered to serve. Villanueva is a decorated ex-Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan, earning a Bronze Star for his valorous service.

Tomlin’s team had collectively decided not to enter the field of play until after the anthem was over, a move that the head coach said was as an effort to side-step the politically-fraught controversy.

But Villanueva elected not to go along with that plan. He walked down the tunnel and paid homage to the flag and anthem, all by himself. He then apologized, apparently bullied by teammates, saying “he threw his team under the bus” with his actions. No he didn’t. They threw him under it. I never heard of Villanueva before this, but he is now my preferred sports figure. Many others apparently agree with the former Army Captain’s stand as his jersey and t-shirt are now the top-sellers on

The NFL, it’s clueless commissioner, millionaire players, and billionaire owners, have severely soiled their nest and it will be very difficult to clean up that putrid mess.


A Mad Marine Speaks Out: A marine colonel wrote a personal letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell explaining why he will be boycotting the NFL until the national anthem protests are stopped. In the letter, former Marine Col. Jeffrey Powers lashes out at the athletes for “spitting in the faces and on the graves of real men,” saying the NFL is equally responsible for allowing the protests to occur. Here’s what he said:

“I missed the ’90-’91 season because I was with a battalion of Marines in Desert Storm. 14 of my wonderful Marines returned home with the American Flag draped across their lifeless bodies. My last conversation with one of them, Sgt Garrett Mongrella, was about how our Giants were going to the Super Bowl. He never got to see it.

Many friends, Marines, and Special Forces Soldiers who worked with or for me through the years returned home with the American Flag draped over their coffins.

Now I watch multi-millionaire athletes who never did anything in their lives but play a game, disrespect what brave Americans fought and died for. They are essentially spitting in the faces and on the graves of real men, men who have actually done something for this country beside playing with a ball and believing they’re something special! They’re not! My Marines and Soldiers were!

You are complicit in this!

You’ll fine players for large and small infractions but you lack the moral courage and respect for our nation and the fallen to put an immediate stop to this. Yes, I know, it’s their 1st Amendment right to behave in such a despicable manner. What would happen if they came out and disrespected you or the refs publicly?

I observed a player getting a personal foul for twerking in the end zone after scoring. I guess that’s much worse than disrespecting the flag and our National Anthem. Hmmmmm, isn’t it his 1st Amendment right to express himself like an idiot in the end zone?

Why is taunting not allowed yet taunting America is OK? You fine players for wearing 9-11 commemorative shoes yet you allow scum on the sidelines to sit, kneel or pump their pathetic fist in the air. They are so deprived with their multi-million dollar contracts for playing a freaking game! You condone it all by your refusal to act. You’re just as bad and disgusting as they are. I hope Americans boycott any sponsor who supports that rabble you call the NFL. I hope they turn off the TV when any team that allowed this disrespect to occur, without consequence, on the sidelines. I applaud those who have not.

Legends and heroes do NOT wear shoulder pads. They wear body armor and carry rifles.

They make minimum wage and spend months and years away from their families. They don’t do it for an hour on Sunday. They do it 24/7 often with lead, not footballs, coming in their direction. They watch their brothers carted off in pieces not on a gurney to get their knee iced. They don’t even have ice! Many don’t have legs or arms.

Some wear blue and risk their lives daily on the streets of America. They wear fire helmets and go upstairs into the fire rather than down to safety. On 9-11, hundreds vanished. They are the heroes.

I hope that your high paid protesting pretty boys and you look in that mirror when you shave tomorrow and see what you really are, legends in your own minds. You need to hit the road and take those worms with you!

Time to change the channel.”


OORAH! The annual Calvin “Cal” Atwood Marine Corps League Charity Golf Tournament held every October was filled by the first of August this year thanks in large part to the husband and wife team of Paul and Mary Ann Dossin according to my pal Cal, who says the couple deserves 95% of the credit. The retired North Hampton couple are unusual in that one is used to giving orders and the other in making sure those orders are precisely carried out. Both retired from the Marine Corps after 66 years of service between them with Mary Ann retiring as a Major General and Paul as a WO-5 which rank may well be the most rugged rank in the Corp adds Cal, who saw action as a Marine on Iwo Jima in World War II. “Generals issue orders and policies and directives and set the standards, but Warrant Officers and Gunnies and Sergeant Majors are the ones who execute orders and make things happen,” he says. And apparently that’s exactly what happened with this 16th annual Marine Corps League community October 21 fund raiser at the North Hampton Golf Course. I’m thinking that the Dossin household is a white glove clean and orderly domicile.


Ed Misik - 01. Oct, 2017 -

You are way off base w. your lengthy evaluation of the Alejandro Steelers Anthem situation. His intention was to NOT come out for the Anthem. The team members (collectively) decided (by a narrow margin) to not be on the field for the anthem in light of many people misinterpreting the kneeling. . Alejandro mistakenly came out too far and was separated by some non team members in the his own admission this was his mistake and he felt horrible for throwing the team under the bus and has profusely apologized to his team.

On a side note, can you please highlight the restaurant and bar info at the top of your blog, so that folks dont have to scroll down through all the whack to get to it? thanks.. Ed

Betsy - 01. Oct, 2017 -

As an amateur observer, I have spent countless hours at the local airport with a dear little boy. Arriving passengers and pilots are met on the tarmac by their limos, taxis, or rental cars. They then leave for The Ritz, The Omni, their beach house, or vacay rental. They do not loiter in the area seeking the ambiance of a welcome center. They do not wait for a connecting flight. Planes are fueled., then stay or leave. No one flys into the airport to hang at the airport! Well, maybe some of the local pilots. Spending this money for the welcome center is a boondoggle. Sean McGill and his entire staff have been welcoming, kind, and patient. A three year old needs information, and they have answered our questions with enthusiasm. I thank them for their indulgence. Jack and the crew are the best, and we would miss them.

Bernard Martinage - 30. Sep, 2017 -

I find it interesting and moronic that the two most prominent issues discussed in the liberal media today contradict one-another, yet are exacerbated with the same vehemence by the same idiots.

Are we an unworthy, unjust, oppressing and disgraceful country that deserves that its flag be burnt and its anthem reneged?


Are we a country that is so great that people all over the world, from China to South America risk their lives trying to escape their totalitarian regimes, or pathetic, corruption-ridden, cartel-dominated countries, to live here?

Really . . . I am confused. But, I am just an immigrant who came here 28 years ago with a backpack and a duffle bag and whom never collected unemployment. For the last 20 years I sign checks on the front.

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LM - 30. Sep, 2017 -

One additional comment: Every Federally funded airport that receives taxpayer funds must sign an AIP (Airport Improvement Fund) Grant contract that expressly prohibits the granting of an exclusive right. Airport owners may not allow a single FBO operator. They also may not undertake any policy that has the effect of creating a monopoly even if no exclusive right has been granted. I don’t blame Mr. McGill for maximizing his profits. The city commission should consider how it limits fuel markup to its tenants and clearly eliminate exclusive FBO rights.

LM - 30. Sep, 2017 -

Probably a good time for some fact checking/clarifications on Mr. McGill’s comments. Mr. Poynter is quite correct. Aviation fuel, and in particular Jet fuel, almost always sells under a fuel membership program like CAA or UVAir. It allows the FBO operator to have an extraordinary list price that only a few unsuspecting customers pay and then discounts the majority of fuel under the fuel program. McGill Aviation doesn’t participate in any of the programs and as a result charges incredible prices that drive unreasonable profits. This morning, Jet A is priced at $6.39 per gallon at Fernandina. In St. Augustine, it is priced at $6.10 per gallon but sold at $4.00 per gallon under any of many fuel cards. Jacksonville is priced at $6.44 per gallon, but available at $3.68 with any discount card. Miami Opelika is listed at $5.08 but available at $3.39. Each of the operators listed is a for-profit FBO like McGill. Remember that most fuel purchases are going to 500 to 1000 gallons, so we’re talking about thousands of dollars premium to fill up in Fernandina. In fairness, the overnight parking fees are very reasonable at Fernandina, but the fuel prices are high enough that most owners ferry in as much fuel as they can to avoid the unreasonable prices.

Charles Mullen - 30. Sep, 2017 -

I think it is the right of each NFL player, baseball player etc. to stand up for their cause. Isn’t that the reason some of us were in the military to protect the right to do that? I do however feel it is the wrong time and place. I personally see it as driving in a wedge that divides the country even more. I, as a free citizen will not watch anymore ball this season and have dropped the sports channels from my Direct TV Channel. Am I picking the wrong side of the divide?

Christine Harmon - 29. Sep, 2017 -

BTW, while you and your readers are focused on NFL players and the airport that almost looks like an airplane, American citizens are suffering and dying in Puerto Rico. No mention of them and reflections on our current administration’s failure to get them needed supplies? Really, your focus is the NFL? Guess, like Donal Trump’s tweeting, it’s a matter of priorities. SMH!

David Scott - 30. Sep, 2017 -

Christine, geez I’m sorry I don’t write anti-Trump screeds that would be more to your liking and touch on topics that you would like to see addressed. There’s a song from my youth that you might enjoy that sort of sums up what you would like to see printed here:

“They’re rioting in Africa. They’re starving in Spain. There’s hurricanes in Florida and Texas needs rain.
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls. The French hate the Germans. The Germans hate the Poles.
Italians hate Yugoslavs. South Africans hate the Dutch and I don’t like anybody very much!”
“The Merry Minuet!” – Kingston Trio, 1958

Billl McKeown - 29. Sep, 2017 -

Two points here Mr. Curmudgeon; Firstly, you have been a Poynter fan from the beginning. Can you spell hypocrite? Secondly, thank you Mr. Crouse. I served two combat tours in Vietnam. We have the right to protest peacefully.
And a last thought: “things I wish I said”; “I’d rather kneel with Colin Kapernick than stand with the dimwit currently soiling the Office of President of the United States!”.

Steve Crounse - 29. Sep, 2017 -

Well I served in, Korea and Nam and my understanding at that time was that i was there fighting for Freedom. A couple of those freedoms were, Freedom of Choice, and Freedom to Protest Peaceably. Both of which the NFL players are doing. Why are you confusing Patriotism, with White Establishment, rejecting basic human rights for a race of people.??? But with you all feeling this way, don’t fear you all have a place to go for Game Day, George Stewart agrees with you, and will not be showing any NFL at sliders. So ya’ll can have a good old time, Drinking stale draft beer, and watching NASCAR. Enjoy.!! There’s that Freedom of Choice.!! Again.

Steve Crounse - 29. Sep, 2017 -

As to Av- Gas prices at this Airport, I know Pilots, who’s home base is Furnandina, fly to St. Augustine to fuel up. Prices at McGill Aviation for Av-gas is outrageous.

Robert Ryaan - 29. Sep, 2017 -

Given your comments on Mr. Poynter relative to the airport and gas prices, I hope you might reconsider your endorsement of him in upcoming commission elections.

I may well be right or wrong on this issue but I have always felt he was the main driving force behind the loopy ‘close Centre St. and open Alachua’ idea. That has to be one of the all time boondoggles. All in the name of “safety”. I don’t recall any safety issues with the Centre St crossing, ever. That his restaurants are located on 2nd and Alachua; just coinkydink I guess.

Charles E. (Eddie) Brown - 29. Sep, 2017 -

When you have elected clowns making the decisions made concerning the airport speak loud and clear by voting them out of office. The FBO contract smells fishy and may very well be payback for the past suit aganist the city but you will never know until the comissioners are held accountable for transparency in their actions. Words in a blog will not create results. It takes strong voices from the taxpayers who pay the bills.

Vince Cavallo - 29. Sep, 2017 -

I know the McGills to be honorable people. Unfortunately when they won their suit against the city some years ago, one the city was beyond dumb to prosecute and which cost the city millions, I knew their future as an FPO was doomed. Then along came the idea of building a “terminal”. Once the word got out how much this was going to cost, it then became a “welcome” center. McGill’s comments are spot on: the need was for hangers, bathrooms and wifi. Yes the state and the FAA are kicking in the yeoman’s portion of the cost, however, it is not about where the funds come from: it is what are you getting for the money being invested. I don’t know what the next airport idea will be put forth by Passero Associates and the city but I would not be surprised if it did not include building runways across the entire island and redesigning the “welcome center” in for form of a aircraft carrier superstructure.

Vince Cavallo - 29. Sep, 2017 -

Dave, these clowns don’t get the concept that just because you can means that you should. I so not support the notion that the NFL should force a player or the whole team to do the right thing. However, when they choose to do the opposite of tradition in effect denigrate the nation, especially on foreign soil, I can choose to ostracize them and avoid their product.

Once they let the genie representing their feelings about our nation out of the bottle, they cannot put the genie back. Perhaps they could recover some if as an entire group they admit their actions were wrong. As a pack of recalcitrant mind-like children they did not do that; rather they have tried to gloss over the issue by cloaking their demonstration in a message of free speech and “unity”. I guess by that measure, kneeling during the anthem means to them our national anthem is against free speech and unity.

My advice to Goodell and the NFL: “Say Goodnight Gracie”. The show is over.

Alison Miller - 29. Sep, 2017 -

If I were a resident of Amelia Island, I would be appalled at the blatant wrongdoing and mismanagement of everything from the bid process and the subsequent fall out. Despite private fundraising efforts, 8 flags doesn’t have private money flowing in and will leave this mess in the laps of taxpayers. The McGills are hardworking and have followed rules and regulations every step…an I told you so is coming and when 8 Flags files for bankruptcy and walks away from the whole thing, the McGills are owed an apology for this personal vendetta that has uprooted their lives.

Colson Hillier - 29. Sep, 2017 -

Maybe our slogan to the NFL players should be “You stand on the field while the National Anthem is being played or we won’t sit in the stands while the game is being played”!

MD - 29. Sep, 2017 -

While i agree that the “kneel down” is totally disrespectful, there is no mention of the national anthem in the NFL rulebook. In fact, there are not even any pages designated A62 or A63 in the NFL rulebook. There is a page 62, and it deals with the following in-game infractions: “Foul committed during passing play;” “Foul during a backward pass or fumble;” “Foul during free kick play;” and “Foul during scrimmage kick play.” Page 63 continues with the scrimmage kick play, and then deals with a “Dead ball foul and foul between downs.”

What you are quoting is the NFL Game Operations Manual, which includes nearly 200 pages of procedures and policy for regular season games, including how many towels the home team must provide to the visitors. In an email to The Kansas City Star, Brian McCarthy, the NFL’s vice president of communications, explained that the only part of the manual dealing with the anthem contains the words “should” and “may” but not “must.” No player is required to stand at attention, and the NFL is not considering punishment for players or teams choosing to kneel or stay in the locker room during the national anthem.

Concerned Speller - 29. Sep, 2017 -

On the subject of the airport, there may be a shortage of hangers. I don’t know, but I’ve never seen one large enough to hold an airplane. They could probably use some more hangars, though.

Lou Goldman - 29. Sep, 2017 -

The airport project is a joke. Apparently three of the commissioners didn’t get it.

R trox - 29. Sep, 2017 -

It is disgusting to see these over paid men that play a kids game refuse to honor our flag and those that gave life and limb so we are a free nation.I doubt very few can really explain the reasons for doing this.Yes it is everyone’s right to demonstrate peacefully but leave our flag and anthem out of it.

Tom Hughes - 29. Sep, 2017 -

Ask kneeling players, ” define changes to our country for which you would stand”? Would not have a clue. I would have ignored Kapernick like a spoiled child.