Community Briefs 11/29/18

Clay Today
Posted 11/28/18

Community invited to Chanukah CelebrationORANGE PARK – The 8th Annual Public Chanukah Celebration at the Town Hall of Orange Park’s front yard this year will be on Dec. 5 at 5p.m. The …

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Community Briefs 11/29/18


Community invited to Chanukah Celebration

ORANGE PARK – The 8th Annual Public Chanukah Celebration at the Town Hall of Orange Park’s front yard this year will be on Dec. 5 at 5p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Also known as The Festival of Lights, Chanukah for many brings back fond memories of childhood years and serves to renew sense of identity among the Jewish people. The Chanukah lights provide a warmth, joy, strength and inspiration. Such is the purpose of a community-wide celebration to be held at Orange Park Town Hall Park.

Chabad of Clay County invites the community to celebrate the Festival of Lights at a public Menorah lighting ceremony. The grand Chanukah celebration will include with the lighting of Clay County’s largest Menorah.

Following the kindling, the program will feature Magician Matt Durham – one of Florida’s most popular entertainers. Participants will enjoy hot latkes, fresh doughnuts, drinks and of lively Chanukah music. Special Chanukah crafts will be available for children. In addition, a drawing will be held for a free grand raffle.

Chanukah, a celebration for all time, is highlighted by the kindling of the Menorah each night of the holiday.

“It is a holiday that enriches our lives with the light of tradition,” said Rabbi Shmuly Feldman, director of the Chabad of Clay County. “In ancient times our ancestors rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem with the Menorah. Today, we rededicate ourselves to making this world a better and brighter place.”

Chanukah also propagates the universal message that ultimately good will prevail over evil, freedom over oppression and light over darkness.

Join the Clay County community at a public display of unity at this exciting Menorah Lighting Ceremony. Bring the kids and make this your special Chanukah celebration.

Writers group launches anthology

ORANGE PARK – About 80 attendees celebrated the launch of the newest book about Clay County last week.

The Clay County Writers Group of the Florida Writers Association has published its book titled “Embedded in Clay,” an anthology that includes everything from poetry to historical writing.

Lynn Harlin, who edited the anthology, praised the five-years project that was managed by Maureen Jung and the writers.

“I learned so much from each piece in the anthology,” Harlin said at the Nov. 14 event.

Maude Burroughs of Middleburg, who was profiled by Jung, discussed her history at The Hill Top Community in Middleburg and her family’s role in the turpentine industry.

“One of the things that helped to shape my life was what my Daddy would tell us – ‘Don’t let anyone else define you. You define yourself, and what you want out of life.’ We learned so much. We learned about love and respect,” Burroughs said.

Book contributor Beth Eifert wrote a tribute to Frank Towers about his work at the Camp Blanding Military Museum, his service in World War Two and his efforts to rescue Jewish concentration camp survivors.

Writing professor and writer Tim Gilmore of Jacksonville read from his chapter on the old Orange Park Monkey Farm and how researchers there tried to “humanize” apes.

Diane Shepard read from “Dispatches of A Water Dog, Stories From the [Black] Creek,” and Brian Pitchford shared his poem, “Brothers Procession,” about the spirits of warriors from years past gathering in the mists to march together. Paula Hilton spoke of the life and work of Green Cove Springs sculptor Augusta Savage.

Marshall Lenne revealed the past of Green Cove Springs Senior Center – formerly an ice plant –

then, a bottling facility, and later, a Coca-Cola plant. Nancy Moore discussed difficulties J.C. Penney faced during the Great Depression when his fortunes and his health both failed. The community of Penney Farms he founded was left to find its way through dark financial times, but with help, has flourished up to the present.

Other writers who attended and were on hand to sign books were Inez Holger, who wrote about the movie and TV industry in Clay County and Joan Warren, who wrote about the women who helped form Clay County history. “Embedded in Clay” is available through Amazon, The Florida Writers’ Association and contributing writers.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Florida Department of Health in Clay County recognized November as Diabetes Awareness Month, the time set aside each year to raise awareness about diabetes and promoting the importance of taking steps to confront diabetes as a critical health issue.

The theme for this year is The Family and Diabetes, strengthening the role of the family in the management, care, prevention and education of diabetes.

“According to FL Health Charts, in 2017 Diabetes was the 6th leading cause of death in Clay County. This chronic disease not only affects an individual it does not discriminate against the family of those with Diabetes either. Knowledge is power; therefore, Diabetes Self-Management Education is essential to the continued care and support to our clients,” said Heather Huffman Clay County Health Department administrator. “Utilizing evidence-based curriculum for health education is recommended to begin in youth and carried into adulthood; teaching Diabetes prevention to children is important for the future of our health in Clay County.”

Clay County kicked off Diabetes Awareness month by wearing blue in recognition of World Diabetes Day on Nov. 14.

Diabetes diagnoses have more than tripled in the last 20 years in the U.S. In Florida, it is estimated that over 2.4 million people have diabetes and over 5.8 million have prediabetes. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in Florida.

There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes, diabetes while pregnant. Women with diabetes have more difficulty conceiving and may have poor pregnancy outcomes, so it is especially important for women to be aware of their risk factors for developing diabetes, family history as well as age, weight and physical activity level.

When your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes you may be at risk for prediabetes. Prediabetes is a serious health condition that increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Eighty-six million American adults have prediabetes. Nine out of 10 people with prediabetes don’t know they have it. Making healthy lifestyle choices can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems. A simple blood sugar test can determine if you have prediabetes. Talk to your health care provider if you should be tested.

To learn more about diabetes prevention and self-management, visit

Place a wreath in honor of a veteran

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Clay County families are invited to take part in the 7th Annual Wreaths Across America program on Dec. 15 at Keystone Heights Memory Gardens at Noon.

Each branch of the U.S. military will be honored in the celebration which culminates with families placing holiday wreaths on the gravesite of those who served.

Wreaths Across America is a national nonprofit that coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at more than 1,400 locations across the U.S. Family members place holiday wreaths on gravesites of beloved family members who served in America’s Armed Forces as a reminder they are thinking of them during the holidays.

National Wreaths Across America Day is set aside to carry out the organization’s mission of “Remember, Honor, Teach,” so each generation will understand the sacrifices America’s military makes to preserve freedom.

Holiday event to help raise funds for school

FLEMING ISLAND – Clay County residents are invited to Watson Realty’s Fleming Island office at 4729 U.S. Highway 17 to take part in its annual Jingle Jam.

The event, which will be held Dec. 1 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., will benefit AMI Kids and Toys for Tots.

There will be bounce houses, face painting, train rides, Clay County Cruzers Classic Cars, a craft fair and food trucks. Teens are invited to dress up as characters, meet other kids and take pictures.

There is no admission fee other than the cost of food at the food trucks and purchasing from the craft fair.

Chorus coming to Penney Memorial Church

PENNEY FARMS – Sweet Adeline’s Harmony Chorus brings its high-quality a cappella barbershop music to Penney Farms Memorial Church on Dec. 2 at 7 p.m.

The concert is free and will be held at Penney Memorial Church at 4465 Poling Blvd.

This core group of the Jacksonville-based Sweet Adeline’s is comprised of 40-50 singers who range from age 13 to 80-plus.

Performing mainly in Duval and St. Johns counties, under the direction of Kim Higdon, they strive to provide high quality a cappella, barbershop style music covering a wide range of difficulty. They will be traveling to New Orleans for the 2019 International Competition.

Free HIV testing available Friday

ORANGE PARK – In preparation for World AIDS Day, which is Dec. 1, the Florida Department of Health in Clay County is teaming up with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. to offer free HIV testing.

The tests are confidential, and the results are available on site. Testing takes place Nov. 30 from 6-8 p.m. inside Orange Park Mall, between Dick’s Sporting Goods and JCPenney’s. For residents who cannot make it to the event, the health department offers HIV testing year-round at its Bear Run Clinic at 3229 Bear Run Blvd. between Orange Park and Middleburg. The test is confidential and rapid results are provided on-site.

Phosphorous removal project funding approved

PALATKA – The Jacksonville office of Seattle-based SWIG LLC was recently awarded a $1.5 million contract to remove phosphorous from Doctors Lake in Clay County.

The St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board voted earlier this month to award the Doctors Lake project, as well as a similar project at Lake Apopka in Orange and Lake counties. Projects at each lake will utilize innovative technology to remove phosphorus.

The Doctors Lake Phosphorus Removal Project will provide additional treatment of effluent from a wastewater treatment plant to remove phosphorus prior to entering Doctors Lake. This project will assist in furthering water quality improvements in the Doctors Lake Basin within the Lower St. Johns River Basin in Northeast Florida. The project is expected to remove an estimated 6,500 pounds of phosphorus annually and cost an estimated $1.5 million.

The Lake Apopka Innovative Total Phosphorus Removal Project will supplement the district’s current restoration timeline by removing phosphorus from the lake’s water. This project will assist in protecting water quality in Lake Apopka, which is the headwaters of the Ocklawaha Chain of Lakes. The project is expected to remove 10,000 pounds of phosphorus over a 24-month period. The project cost is $1.16 million.

Hospital earns 5-Star rating for women’s care

ORANGE PARK – For the third year in a row, Orange Park Medical Center has been named a 5-star recipient in multiple categories regarding women’s care by Healthgrades.

Healthgrades is a leading online resource for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals. The 5-star rating indicates that the hospital’s clinical outcomes are statistically significantly better than expected when treating the condition or performing the procedure being evaluated. The areas that earned the 5-star rating at OPMC include obstetrics and gynecology, labor and delivery, vaginal delivery and C-Section delivery.

“It’s our providers and staff who have really earned this recognition,” said Suzanne Jones, director of Women and Children’s Services at OPMC. “Consistently receiving 5-stars year after year truly shows their commitment to providing superior care for our patients.”

In making their ratings, Healthgrades analyzed patient outcome data for virtually every hospital in the 15 states and the District of Columbia that provide all-payer state data for the years 2014-2016. Healthgrades has found that the variation in hospital performance makes a significant difference in terms of clinical outcomes.


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