Community Briefs 7/12/18

Clay Today
Posted 7/11/18

Church to hold community outreach dayORANGE PARK – A Kingsley Avenue church is hosting a free community outreach day this month.Saint James AME Church at 1324 Kingsley Ave. is offering the …

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Community Briefs 7/12/18


Church to hold community outreach day

ORANGE PARK – A Kingsley Avenue church is hosting a free community outreach day this month.

Saint James AME Church at 1324 Kingsley Ave. is offering the event to showcase local social services and support groups for the community.

The event will also include a clothing give away, local food banks, food trucks, a bounce house to entertain the children and more.

Free community outreach day is Saturday, July 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information contact Rev. Dr. Alesia Ford-Burse, church pastor, at (904) 278-7037.

Let’s talk about tourism in Clay County

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Clay County residents who are interested in giving their opinion about local tourism opportunities will have an opportunity on July 17-18 to weigh in.

Officials from North Star Destination Strategies will lead five community discussions to gather information that will be used to develop a strategic tourism plan for Clay County.

On July 17 at 9:30 a.m., residents can attend a community information-gathering meeting inside Exhibit Building 2B at the Clay County Fairgrounds and again on July 17 at 1 p.m. at the Fleming Island Banquet Hall at 1809 East West Parkway.

On July 18, there are three meetings scheduled beginning at 9 a.m. inside the Keystone Heights Pavilion at Keystone Beach at 565 S. Lawrence Blvd., in Keystone Heights. At 1 p.m., join in the conversation at the Orange Park Public Library at 2054 Plainfield Ave. The third and final meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. on July 18 at the Middleburg-Clay Hill Public Library at 2245 Aster Ave.

After the five meetings on July 17-18, a strategic planning group will meet on July 19 to suggest priorities for the strategic tourism plan.

Hospital offering live streaming for NICU

ORANGE PARK – Orange Park Medical Center is now offering their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit families a new option that will help give peace-of-mind at a difficult time. The hospital recently rolled out the use of NICVIEW, a bedside camera that shares live streaming video of their baby through a secure and private closed system viewable on any internet-connected smart phone, tablet or computer.

“In order for us to keep our tiny babies healthy we have restricted visitation in the NICU,” said Suzanne Jones, Women and Children’s director at OPMC. “This technology lets our parents see their little ones outside of visiting hours and gives siblings and other family members the chance to see the baby any time they want.”

The hospital treats around 500 babies in its NICU each year. For the Tyson family, NICVIEW would have helped put their young son Mikey at ease while his little brother Easton spent 19 days in the NICU.

“We had so many cries and Mikey had so many questions that I struggled to answer. I remember the days like it was yesterday,” said Molly Tyson, recent patient and mother of two. “If we had the opportunity to show him where his little brother was it would have made a world of a difference for our family.”

The Tyson’s had an opportunity to show their oldest son where baby Easton spent his first days this past month at the hospital’s NICU Reunion.

According to a press release, the Orange Park hospital is the only one in Northeast Florida to deploy NICVIEW.

“We recognize how stressful it is for parents and other family members to have a hospitalized infant under any circumstance and we are so excited to offer this to our patients and community,” Jones said.

Orange Park Medical Center has a seven-bed Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit fully equipped to handle the smallest patients.

SJRWMD reduces tax rate for sixth consecutive year

PALATKA – The St. Johns River Water Management District’s governing board Tuesday approved a tentative budget that reduces the millage rate for taxpayers for a sixth consecutive year without cutting any programs.

“This tentative budget reflects the district’s continued commitment to our core missions of water supply, water quality, flood protection and natural systems,” said Ann Shortelle, executive director of the SJRWMD. “We continue to invest taxpayer dollars and focus our efforts on cooperative projects that are helping to restore and protect our water resources.”

The tentative 0.2562 millage rate would result in nearly $87 million in revenue toward a total $142.5 million budget for fiscal year 2018‒2019, which begins Oct. 1, 2018. The budget is also funded through state, federal and other district sources (including timber sales, cattle leases, interest earnings and permit fees).

The millage rate adopted by the board is approximately 6 percent less than the current year’s tax rate.

Under a 0.2562 millage rate – 25.62 cents for every $1,000 of assessed property value – the owner of a $200,000 house with a $50,000 homestead exemption would pay $38.43 in the coming year in property taxes to the district.

The proposed budget will fund the district’s major programs, such as priority water body and springs restoration and continued cost-share partnerships.

Public hearings will be held at 5:05 p.m. Sept. 11 and 25. Final budget adoption will occur at the Sept. 25 Governing Board meeting.

Teacher ‘Appreciation Event’ scheduled

ORANGE PARK – The Thrasher-Horne Center will welcome hundreds, if not thousands, of Clay County teachers at a Teacher Appreciation Expo planned for Aug. 6.

Hosted by the Clay County Chamber Foundation, the expo will run from 1-3 p.m. It’s seen as a time to recognize teachers, provide items for their classrooms, and build stronger relationships with the business community.

The expo is open to all Clay County teachers with proof of employment at a public, private and charter school in Clay County.

In preparation of the expo, the Clay County Chamber Foundation is seeking donations from the community of school supplies that will have teachers enjoy a successful year of hitting the books.

The supplies in order of need are white and copy colored paper, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, dry erase markers, Kleenex tissues, pocket Kleenex tissues, sticky notes, No. 2 pencils and pens (branded ok), loose leaf notebook paper wide rule, Sharpie markers, glue sticks, highlighters, Crayola Crayons 24-count, washable markers, red ink pens, blue ink pens, pink oblong erasers, staple removers, mechanical pencils, pencil boxes, pocket folders, composition notebooks, pencil cases, wide-ruled spiral bound notebooks, Fiskars’s blunt end scissors, Elmer’s glue bottles, index cards, colored pencils, subject dividers, 1-inch binders, rulers, and white erasers.

The event will also feature door prize, free screenings, giveaways, food and beverages and more.

For more information, contact Annie Grogan at (904) 264-2651 ext. 214 or

Florida Network Realty Welcomes Michelle Veal

FLEMING ISLAND – The Fleming Island office of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty recently expanded with the addition of two real estate pros.

Both Mary Singley and Michelle Veal will serve the real estate in Clay County from the agency’s Fleming Island-Orange Park office.

Singley comes to the firm with four years of experience in real estate, but is rather active in community service in Clay County. She currently serves as both secretary and treasurer of the Middleburg Black Creek Lions Club where she works with their food bank program and the Lions Club vision program.

Veal, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran who participated in more than 2,000 search and rescue missions and law enforcement missions, is a 50-plus-year resident of Northeast Florida. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Veal had a successful career in physical therapy.

“After working with their team during my own home-buying process, I knew this was the right company for me to hang my license with. As a Realtor, I enjoy assisting individuals and families to realize their potential, and to help them find the home of their dreams,” Veal said.

Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty hires director of corporate communications

ORANGE PARK – Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty recently hired Bonnie Upright as its new director of corporate communication to lead both internal and external communications at the agency.

Upright, a 1987 graduate of Orange Park High, has held leadership roles within multiple organizations. Most recently, she served as senior vice president of Olympus Foundation Management, a boutique agency that provides management services to professional athletes and their nonprofit organizations.

From 2008 to 2013, Upright was CEO of Upright Public Relations LLC, where she specialized in media relations, nonprofit consulting, events and social media. She also served as executive director of the Otis Smith Kids Foundation from 2005-2007 after having served as its community development manager two years prior. In her development role, Upright produced North Florida’s largest public art displays – Sea Cows for Kids and Big Cats for Kids – programs that netted nearly half a million dollars for the Foundation.

She is a member of the board of directors for Duval County Medical Society Foundation, a graduate of Leadership Jacksonville 2005 and served on the National Board of Directors for the Public Relations Society of America from 2014 to 2017.

“Bonnie Upright is a proven leader and communications strategist who will manage Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty’s internal and external communications strategies in an effective, vibrant way. She will work closely with our management team to create a robust communications program that supports our CBVR personnel as well as enhances our brand and reputation as the leading real estate organization in Northeast Florida,” said Pete Dalton, Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty CEO and president.


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