Tag Archives: Jacksonville Beach

Preserve The St. Johns River Ferry

It’s amazing, sometimes, how you can find yourself in the center of something that can really make a difference in your community. Such is the case with the task force to save, and then preserve, the St. Johns River Ferry Service.

Ferry Task Force Beaches WatchThe ferry, often referred to as the Mayport ferry, is in danger of being permanently docked. And as 13th district councilman Bill Guliford said at Wednesday night’s Beaches Watch meeting, if the service ends, it will be very difficult to resurrect it. So, led by former council president Elaine Brown, long a champion of beach community issues and beaches businesses, we are embarked on a mission to see that it is not allowed to come to that end.

Jacksonville Port Authority spokesperson Nancy Rubin says that the ferry carries an annual operating deficit of some $600,000 to $700,000, and is in immediate need of about $4 million in repairs and upgrades to the berths at either end of the short trip across the river. JPA executive director Paul Anderson has said that the continued operations of the ferry is not consistent with the port’s business model, and is not sustainable in its present form. At a meeting on February 27th, he will ask the board for guidance as to how to proceed, but he has been very clear that he hopes to return the ferry, and the associated land, to the city. The city has been reluctant at best to agree to consider re-assuming responsibility for the service. The state, which most believe should be the entity operating the ferry, washed its hands of the service several years ago. Basically, it’s like they determined that they were no longer going to pay to maintain a bridge over a waterway that connects a state highway … which the ferry does.

Ferry DockingAll of that to say that, I’ve been asked by Elaine to lead the media and PR efforts for the task force. We will have a website, Facebook presence, and other social media components to the effort. If you ride the ferry, occasionally or regularly, you can expect to see very shortly volunteers at both landings asking you to take a brief survey and sign a petition. I’ll be posting about the issue here, and producing some video pieces to illustrate the issue.

If you care about the ferry, and there are a multitude of reasons for you to do so, from its historic significance to the economic impact is has on Mayport, the beaches communities, and many other businesses that line A1A between St. Augustine and Fernandina Beach, consider signing a petition, making a donation, contacting the Mayor’s office and your representative of the City Council to make your opinion known. Do keep in mind that all e-mails sent to the Mayor and City Council are public records. If … I probably should say when … we go to the city for funding for the ferry, it will require the votes of 10 council members to get it back in the budget.

But most importantly, tell your friends. I can’t imagine the First Coast without the ferry. Let’s see that it doesn’t happen. (Pictured L-R Elaine Brown, Task Force Chair; Val Bostwick, President, Friends of the St. Johns River Ferry; Nancy Rubin, Jacksonville Port Authority spokesperson; Sam Floyd, Mayport Waterfront Partnership Chairman; Councilman Bill Guliford presenting at Beaches Watch)



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Filed under Atlantic Beach, Beach Living, City Budget, City Council, Florida Budget, Jacksonville Beach, Jacksonville City Council, Mayport, Mayport Ferry, Neptune Beach

Stimulus Projects At The Beach

Money to the north of us, money to the south of us, but Neptune Beach is left with a shrinking tax base, but still too much money to get anything from the federal stimulus. I wonder if we’re the only little town in the nation to not get a dime.

Mayport FerryTo the north, the Mayport Ferry is slated for $3 million for upgrades to the ramps that get the cars on and off the ferry. Ports spokeswoman Nancy Rubin said every dime will be spent on the ramps. It doesn’t seem like you could spend $3 million on ferry ramps, but I suppose it’s possible. It’s really a pity that some of that can’t go into operating, because it won’t matter how nice the ramps are to get on and off the boats if the boats aren’t running, but I know that’s not the way the stimulus money works. Operating a ferry is not a “shovel ready” project that puts people to work. Hiring contractors to build new ramps is a “shovel ready” project, so new ramps it’ll be.

Still, that’s not necessarily bad news. It does mean there’s a commitment to the ferry, and that’s been an open question for a while. I don’t think they’d pump that kind of money into the ramps if they planned to stop running the boat. But then, it might be the only thing they were allowed to spend the money on.

To the south, there’s $5 million to be spent on 9th street south from 1st Avenue South to Osceola Avenue. Curbs, gutters, sidewalks, and drainage. Not that 9th street doesn’t need it, it does. It’s a pretty major thoroughfare between Beach Boulevard and South Beach Avenue. It runs through an area of Jacksonville Beach known as “The Hill”, which is not the best part of town.  Drainage in the area is bad, and anything resembling a heavy rain floods the streets. It’ll be worthwhile to have work done on 9th street.

But here in Neptune Beach, we apparently didn’t have any “shovel ready” projects that qualify. There was an article recently in The Beaches Leader in which Neptune Beach Mayor Harriet Pruette said there was too much money in Neptune Beach for us to be in line for any stimulus, but goodness knows Florida Boulevard could use some drainage work, and to be widened with a turn lane, and maybe a couple of lights.  But apparently even with a 5 percent reduction in property values which will affect the tax base, we’re too wealthy.

It doesn’t seem that way at our house.

We’re here kind of in the hole of the donut. Most of the money would likely trickle down anyway. I don’t know that there are construction companies here in Neptune Beach that could get a contract to work on a road. But all those people have to eat somewhere, and we do have some nice restaurants, and they might need something from K-Mart or the drugstore. Still, the improvements would have been nice.

I don’t begrudge Jacksonville Beach or Mayport their stimulus projects. I drive on 9th street and I sometimes use the ferry, so I’ll get something out of it, as will most everybody at the beach. But I can understand Mayor Pruette’s frustration.


I’m out for Oshkosh on Saturday, 8 days steeped in airplanes. I’ll try to keep up something resembling the blog, but can’t make any promises. It’s going to be an incredibly busy week, but I’ll let you know all about it when I get back.

With pictures.



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Filed under Beach Living, Federal Stimulus, Mayport, Neptune Beach, Thoughts

Milk Comedy and Creative Spam

I’m improvising again. This is going to be a huge amount of fun. Scott’s putting “the band” back together. 

milk Introducing the Milk Comedy Crew.  I don’t know where it comes from.  Probably something to do with the infamous “Gallon Challenge”.  You know the one.  It’s almost impossible to drink an entire gallon of milk without having it come back to haunt you … like immediately.  What ever the genesis of the name, I’m in.  We start playing August 15th at The Ocean Club Liquor Store at the beach.  8:00 PM … $5.00 cover.  That’s a Friday night at the beach.

We started working on a couple of games tonight, just trying to blow out the cobwebs and remembering how to play.

But to be on stage again with Scott and Jeff Kalish and Don G and Della and we hope John Citrone … it’s going to be a blast.  I hope I can keep up.  I’m going to give it my best effort.


So come on out and check us out at the OC liquor Store in Jacksonville Beach in 3 weeks.  We may actually remember how to play the games and make you laugh.   But if you come, come prepared to make suggestions and be part of the show.  Improv only works when you play along.  I hope we’ll see you there.


Meanwhile, I got a third e-mail from “The FBI” today.  I’ve gotten a couple of these before, trying to convince me that it’s really from the FBI and that:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Washington Dc, in conjunction with the United Nations (UN) financial department have investigated through our monitoring network noting that your transaction with Bank of Ghana (STANDARD TRUST BANK GHANA) is legal.You have the legitimate right to complete your transaction to claim your over due fund without any impediment.
We advice you to proceed with the transactions as we are monitoring their activities.Meanwhile, you are advice to follow their constitutional procedure.They have statutory   procedure, which has been examined and verified in conformity with United States financial authorities. You are hereby advised to follow their instructions while you keep us updated for more details.

It’s the latest twist on the old Nigerian money transfer scam.

Notice how they “advice” me to take this action.  You’d think these guys would find someone who could actually speak and write English for this kind of thing.  I’m being assured that it’s all perfectly legal, but for some reason the FBI wants to track the transaction.

image The even went to the trouble to copy a header from an FBI website to try to make the e-mail appear legitimate, and pasted a poorly-cropped picture of Robert Mueller at the bottom

image The sad thing is, somebody may fall for it.  I don’t know how, but somebody might.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s gotten one of these, but it’s new enough to not have shown up on Snopes yet.  So, if you’ve searched on “FBI Scam” and stumbled across this blog, rest assured that The FBI is not going to be sending you an e-mail in broken English advicing you to continue with this kind of transaction so they can wiretap and monitor the activities of the perpetrators.  It’s just never going to happen.  In your heart of hearts, you knew that.  It’s particularly true if you, like me, have never responded to one of those scam e-mails.  Suddenly, the FBI knows you have an open case going on?  Uh-uh.

But, you’ve got to give them props for trying something new.

One day, I got no fewer than three e-mails telling me I’d won a random e-mail address lottery for several million dollars.  Each. My luckiest day ever.  It almost makes me wish it were true.  But don’t fall for this ridiculous scam.  If the FBI wants to track your activities … they’re NOT going to tell you.  It’s not the way they roll.  If they want to investigate you, they don’t even need a warrant to do so any more, at least in some situations.


Pledge got off to a slow start this morning.  John Bryan is with me in the morning.  Don’t let us down.


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Filed under Beach Living, Improv Comedy, Jacksonville Beach, Public Radio, Scams

Penman Square Market and Cafe II

Chef Craig 4 We went back.  You knew we would.  And we’ll go back often.  Chef Craig was in the house tonight, back from a bout of walking pneumonia.  Not as much in the cases as the last time, but they’re planning to be closed part of the holiday weekend … so they were “a little light”, as Craig put it.  Still, there was food, it was good, and we had a very nice time.

JB 1

JB, as is his wont, brought the wine.  An interesting little Spaniard called “Hey Mambo”, and the mystery unlabeled bottle. The cork revealed it to be a ’95 Johnston Winery Helena View blend that we were afraid would turn as we drank it … but it didn’t.  It was the special reserve, and was really good. 

So yes, the food was quite good, as always.  I had a half a fried chicken with mac and cheese … but half the half chicken is resting comfortably in the fridge.

Chix and Mac 1

 Before the chicken, there was a french onion soup and Craigs’ signature spinach salad.  Andie had the turkey loaf and John enjoyed the Penne Pasta.  Nobody walked away hungry,

We’re very happy Chef Craig is back with someplace to cook.  Something tells me we’re going to have some fun at the Penman Square Market and Cafe.


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Filed under Dining Out, Food, Jacksonville Beach

Penman Square Market and Cafe

Last night, we finally took the opportunity to visit the Penman Square Market and  Cafe, which is Chef Craig Dion’s new project in Jacksonville Beach.  And even though Craig was babysitting last night, Matt and Dale took good care of us.

Matt Matt was one of the waiters over at the old 6 Burner location.  He always took really good care of us there.  Dennis was the other waiter we saw often at 6 Burner … but he unfortunately passed away not too long ago.  We’d seen him at Sequinos one night, and the next time we went in, about 6 months later, they said he’d passed. 

In any event, much of the food at Penman Square is pre-made and in the cases … though there was a dinner special up on the board which I cold never resist over at the old restaurant.  A Pittsburgh style prime rib with Maytag Bleu Cheese.   It’s seared in a cast iron skillet and then covered in this outstanding bleu cheese that is just dripping over the sides of the steak … to die for.  And it was served with a twice baked potato and a roasted corn and green bean dish that complimented it perfectly.


Dale worked for Craig as a sous chef at 6 Burner, and stepped in as chef when Craig was not around … which was rarely.  Last night, he was fully in charge of our dinner, as Craig, as I said, was babysitting. 

So three of the four of us (David Gano and Tom Wilson joined us) had the prime rib.  David had the turkey meatloaf, all of us had the beans and roasted corn.  David passed on the potato.  Everybody had a warm spinach salad, which was a good as it had been over in Atlantic Beach.  Everything was very well done, but we’d expect nothing less.  Dessert was a nice slice of 3 layer chocolate cake.

The space its self is small.  A former cleaner where nothing was done on the premises, there’s a drive-through window for the coffee business, and there was plenty of room for the uber-stove which I greatly covet. 

Stove It has a grill, 6 burners, a griddle, and a salamander broiler all in the same unit.  It’s too big for one picture.  The cases are full of items like apple stuffed pork roast, seared ahi tuna, turkey meatloaf, and smoked salmon.  The other case has the veggies and salads, pastas and potatoes.  All for dining in, or  you can take it home and warm it up yourself.  bottle

There are only about 6 tables in the place.  4 four tops, and a couple of twos. 

Meanwhile, there’s no beer or wine license, but you can bring your own.  And conveniently, there’s a liquor store at the end of the strip mall.  Matt had to go borrow some wine glasses from a place down the way, and had to go to the same restaurant to open the bottle for us.  But since we were the only ones sitting down to eat, it was not really a big deal.

This is not a traditional style restaurant.  They turn the “Open” sign off at 8:00.  But we’re really glad Craig is back in the game.  The best news was when the bill came, it was about half what we used to pay at 6 Burner.   And I paid less for the bottle down the way than two glasses would cost pretty much anywhere.  So really good, and fun, and intimate, and inexpensive. 

The rest of the evening’s pictures are up on Flickr.  Though my battery gave out about the time the food came.

Oh yes, we’ll be back.  Besides, I’ve been in there twice now, and Craig hasn’t been there yet.  That alone is worth the price of admission …


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Filed under Food, Jacksonville Beach, Restaurants

What Were They Thinking

Some businesses just shouldn’t be allowed to be next door to one another …

Meat Market

Somehow, having the “Just for Lovers” store next door to the “Meat Market” seems a little redundant.  But there it is.  Right there on Beach Boulevard across from Sam’s Club and the Post Office.

I guess that’s at least one business that an “adult” store can be close to without drawing the ire of the Baptists and the neighbors.  Also in the strip is Sala Thai … where we had lunch today. 

I’ve never quite understood the blue laws here.  Strip clubs are allowed, but if there’s nudity, there can be no alcohol.  Having not been to a strip club, or a “bikini bar” in Jacksonville, I’m not sure how they make that work, but I guess they do, as there seem to be several of them around.

Bikini Bars, on the other hand, can serve alcohol, but there’s no nudity involved.  Go figure.

Stores like this one I also think can’t be within 2500 feet of a school or church, or any church property.  I guess that goes to the the whole “the flesh is weak” thing. 


On an unrelated note, other than restaurants in storefronts like Sala Thai … Chef Craig Dion is back.  Craig was the owner/proprietor/chef at a place called 6 Burner, which was over in the Pubix shopping plaza in Atlantic Boulevard.  He closed shortly after the Super Bowl, and has been over at Turtle Market after a short stint as a landscaper.  Craig had been the executive chef at Dolphin Depot before 6 Burner.  Andie and I used to go into 6 Burner once every week or so.  The food was expensive (for our budget) but it was really, really good, and you could sit in the kitchen area and watch Craig cook.  We got to know him and the staff pretty well.

So, Craig has now opened a place on Penman Road called Penman Square Market and Cafe.  He’ll cook and sell it to you to take home to heat and eat, or he and Matt will serve it to you on one of the 6 or so tables in the Cafe.  The stove still has 6 burners.  And now the cafe has 6 tables.  I hope he does well.  They were just closing up tonight as we stopped by, and Craig wasn’t at the store.  But we’ll hopefully go in for dinner next weekend, and I’ll let you know if the Pittsburgh Prime Rib is still as good as it was.


Tomorrow is Saturday, and I’m hoping to be on the bike in the morning.  That means I should heed the clarion call of the pillowtop mattress.

Prone is good.


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Filed under Random Stuff, Restaurants