Observations on an October Morn'
The morning "Charlie" walk serves to remind me of the beauty of our little community! The rain has cleaned the air, the sidewalks are rinsed almost as clean as the streets and the air is just a tinge cooler. What a beautiful way to start the day, especially after yesterday cooped up in the new courthouse in Jacksonville and fighting the rush hour traffic to get back to Paradise.
Charter captains were prepping their boats for the anglers on the way. Most likely a trip to the jetties for some heavy pulling on the running bull reds. If the cloud cover is heavy enough even some after sun up top water action on the way past the fort. Don't get me wrong, chartering is hard hard work. But, what an office to work out of on a daily basis!
The railroad tracks at Front and Centre are riddled with rotting cross ties. Why? Don't try and sell me that routine maintenance on those tracks is part of the Forward Fernandina financial debacle. First Coast Railroad or CSX needs to get off their glutes and replace them. NOW! Watch a young mother with an infant in a stroller try to get past the holes created by the rotten and broken timbers. Watch an elderly person with a walker negotiate the traps of a rail with no timber abutting it as they are supposed to be. Or, almost as bad, a relatively healthy and strong wheel chair bound citizen puzzled by how to get around the crevices yearning to be canyons. Those tracks have been unfriendly to anyone that isn't erect, walking on two feet and willing to adjust their steps to avoid the travails of the rails. Someone needs to get a grip on reality and fix them pronto.
Work continues on the former Pompeo's restaurant. Even at the early hour of seven a.m.! Luca has suggested October 15 as the target date for opening. Two weeks is not a long time in the construction or restaurant businesses. It is a virtual eternity if you're starving for Italian food.
The early morning paper had references to debate parties from St. Augustine to Fernandina. I have been tired of these debates since the 80's. They are simply orchestrated attempts by each camp to cast their candidate in the best light, no matter the truth of their performance or positions. We need someone who will get up their and give us the straight skinny, no balderdash and flash. Tell us the cold hard truth! Americans are a resourceful sort and have, in the past, overcome all types of adversity. We can, and will, again.
The unfolding debacle at FSCJ grows more troublesome by the day. It was known as FJC when I attended. Its purpose was to serve a segment of the community that couldn't, for whatever reason, leave to one of the big schools. It had a reputation of being very community oriented and helpful to the student body. No one dreamed of $500,000.00 salaries, expense accounts, car allowances and travel expenditures. There was a simple purpose with a simple path to follow - good stewardship with education dollars to help further the communities skills, education and talents. Now it seems to be an open check book for a select few who have warmed up to the power that considers himself to be beyond question. I have met Gwen Yates, the incoming chair of the Board of Trustees and know her and her husband to be very community oriented. But, with sadness I have to say they all need to go. It sounds unduly harsh but this is the same board that just weeks before the scandal broke renewed the contract of an already overpaid and, apparently, pompous president. The Board, Wallace and other insiders need to go. As a great book has been often quoted, if its your hand that causes the problems, lop it off!
Our community is a viable, living organism. It has to grow, change and prosper to survive. There area variety of functions within the community that have to co-exist for that to happen. City workers have to keep the downtown clean and attractive to attract the tourists that want to fish, eat in our restaurants, shop with our merchants and possibly even seek their higher education locally. We need to recognize these things, speak out to improve them and support the right kind of progress that respects the past, lives in the present and prepares for the future.