Community briefs 11/30/17

Clay Today
Posted 11/29/17

Builder collecting goods for food pantryORANGE PARK – Custom Home Builder J.A. Long Inc. is once again teaming up with some of its long-time partners in the home building industry and a few …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?

Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.


Click here to see your options for subscribing.

Single day pass

You also have the option of purchasing 24 hours of access, for $1.00. Click here to purchase a single day pass.

Community briefs 11/30/17


Builder collecting goods for food pantry

ORANGE PARK – Custom Home Builder J.A. Long Inc. is once again teaming up with some of its long-time partners in the home building industry and a few other local businesses to help the Food Pantry serving Clay County.

This is the 11th year the local family-owned business has coordinated drop off locations to collect nonperishable food items for Clay County families in need over the holiday season.

J.A. Long will be accepting nonperishable food items, cash, checks, or gift card donations for the Food Pantry through Dec. 21.

“The Food Pantry’s most requested items are nonperishable items such as boxed pasta, peanut butter, jelly, canned meats, canned vegetables, and canned fruits,” said Randy Long, J.A. Long chief operating officer.

To make food or monetary donations, stop by J.A. Long, located at 1677 Wells Rd., Suite D in Orange Park, or one of the other participating locations, including A1 Stone World in Green Cove Springs and Orange Park, BB&T in Oakleaf, Carpet ‘N’ Drapes in Orange Park, Dimensions in Tile & Stone in Jacksonville, East West Realty in Oakleaf, First Coast Supply in Jacksonville and Floor & Décor in Jacksonville, three different Planet Fitness locations, RE/MAX Sterling on Fleming Island and Sherwin-Williams on Fleming Island and Orange Park.

For more Information on the food drive, contact J.A. Long Inc. at (904) 264-3073 or For more information on the Food Pantry of Green Cove Springs, call (904) 284-0814.

Yesterdays Festival coming to Gold Head park

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Clay County residents have a chance to “Take a Walk Back in Time” on January 27, 2018 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park.

There will be historic demonstrations, cast iron cooking, antique cars, steam engines, antique tractors, live music, re-enactors, park tram tours, canon firing and food concessions.

The Yesterdays Festival is free with paid park admission of $5 per vehicle, for up to eight people. For more information, call (352)473-4701 or visit

The festival is sponsored by Friends of the Park/Gold Head Associates who use the proceeds to fund park improvements that are not fully covered by state budget allocations.

Volunteers needed for Wreaths Across America

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Volunteers will be needed to unpack wreaths and store them in preparation for the Dec. 16 noon ceremony for Wreaths Across America.

The wreaths will be delivered to the Keystone Heights Vietnam Veterans club house sometime during the week of Dec. 10 through Dec. 15.

These wreaths will be brought over to the Keystone Heights Cemetery on Saturday morning, December 16 approximately around 9 a.m. and volunteers will be needed to help unpack the wreaths later that morning and place on the gravesites of fallen veterans.

Organizer Joan Jones said she is grateful for all of the donors who made this year’s celebration possible.

“We wish to thank everyone who has donated again this year, all the volunteers who have been working hard to let it happen again, yes, we have made out quota again, God Bless everyone we have done it again,” Jones said.

Jones invites all Clay County residents to participate in the event at the Keystone Heights Memory Gardens cemetery on State Road 100, one mile west of the State Road 21 intersection.

Deadline extended for export sales program

PENSACOLA – The Florida Small Business Development Center Network, the state’s principal provider of small business assistance, has extended the deadline for a pilot program to help farmers and producers maximize their growth potential through export sales.

The Agribusiness Export Marketing Plan provides qualified recipients with a customized export marketing plan. Designed to assist new-to-export and currently exporting growers and value-added producers, the export marketing plan encompasses an in-depth report that identifies target markets, market entry strategies, a competitive analysis, as well as an action plan for market entry. The application deadline has been extended until Dec. 1. For more information, and to apply, visit For questions, please call 1-800-450-4624.

The program is designed for Florida Farmers and value-added producers only. To be eligible, food producers must show 51 percent of their food product from Florida. Products must be produced in the State of Florida and must be provided from a Florida-based location. Businesses must have a minimum of three years in business and $500,000 in annual sales.

Once qualified, farmers meet with a Florida SBDC International Trade Specialist to conduct a confidential, in-depth business assessment. The specialist will then prepare and provide a customized export marketing plan.

The cost to prepare an Agribusiness Export Marketing Plan is $5,000. Qualifying companies are eligible for a $4,750 scholarship, making the cost only $250.

Since 2011, Florida SBDCs have provided 513,107 hours of professional business consulting to 74,669 client businesses, resulting in 252,955 jobs created, retained, or saved; $33.3 billion in sales growth; $2.6 billion in government contract awarded; $1.4 billion in capital investments acquired; and 4,159 new businesses started.

Black Creek Ravines tour planned

JACKSONVILLE – North Florida Land Trust invites the public to join in for Botany at the Bluffs: A Walk at Black Creek Ravines Conservation Area.

The event will take place on Dec. 9 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the conservation area in Middleburg. NFLT Conservation Coordinator Susan Carr will lead the group through the woods near Black Creek to showcase the natural habitats including some interesting geological features and to explain the benefits of preservation.

“The Black Creek Ravines area is an uplands environment with a unique topography,” Carr said. “Those who join us for the guided tour will get to see steep ravines, which are unusual in Florida, along with the interesting forests and rare plants of this conservation area.”

Black Creek is a significant tributary to the St. Johns River and has wide and healthy floodplain swamps, as well as steep bluffs and ravines. NFLT has identified 5,077 acres along Black Creek that are in critical need of preservation. The lands are a mosaic of upland and wetland habitats that contribute to water quality preservation and serve as a buffer against increased flooding.

Space is limited for the Botany at the Bluffs. To participate in the guided tour, please RSVP to Courtney Cox at

Founded in 1999, North Florida Land Trust is a nonprofit that serves as a champion of environmental protection primarily in Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Union and Volusia counties.

New state record shoal bass certified

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission fisheries biologists certified a new state record shoal bass weighing 5.95 pounds and measuring 22.4 inches long.

Sheldon Grace, 14, of Headland, Alabama, caught the shoal bass from a kayak in the Chipola River near Altha, Florida.

“I fought him for about 30 minutes and then when I got him close to the kayak, the jig popped right out of his mouth,” Grace said. “I quickly reached into the water and grabbed him because he was the biggest I’d caught all day.”

Grace and his father often fish for shoal bass and enjoy the beauty of the Chipola River. Shoal bass are one of the five black bass species in Florida.

“You can definitely tell that the quality and quantity of the shoal bass in the Chipola River are getting better,” Grace said. “I had caught about six or seven 2- to 3-pounders and then right at the end of the day, I caught the record.”

The former state record shoal bass weighed 5.20 pounds and was caught in 2016 by Jimmy Ray Tice on the Apalachicola River.

The Chipola River is a spring-fed system with an unique range of habitats and is the only waterbody in Florida where there is a population of naturally reproducing, genetically pure shoal bass. The FWC has implemented several conservation projects to enhance this unique fishery. A video highlighting the charm of the Chipola River and the partnerships forged to protect it can be viewed on YouTube by searching “FWC Chipola River.”

To properly certify a new Florida state record, a FWC biologist must identify the fish species and witness its weighing on a certified scale. Anglers can check the current state records at by clicking on “State Record,” and should notify the nearest FWC regional office if they believe they have caught a record fish. Contact information for FWC regional offices can be found at by clicking on “Contact Regional Offices.”

The FWC recognizes other memorable freshwater catches through its Big Catch program, which provides certificates commemorating trophy catches of 33 different freshwater species. Largemouth bass catches are recognized by the TrophyCatch program, which is a citizen-science program that partners with industry leaders, such as Bass Pro Shops, to offer rewards for the catch, documentation and release of largemouth bass weighing 8 pounds or heavier.

Military Child of the Year awards deadline is Monday

SAN ANTONIO – The deadline is fast approaching for youth ages 13 to 18 in military families to get in the running for a $10,000 cash prize, a trip to Washington, D.C. and other donated gifts in the Military Child of the Year awards competition.

Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit with the mission of building strong, stable and secure military families, will accept nominations for the 2018 Military Child of the Year Awards as well as applications for the 2018 Military Child of the Year Award for Innovation through Monday, Dec. 4.

The annual awards recognize seven outstanding young people ages 13 to 18. The six recipients of the Military Child of the Year Award will represent a branch of the armed forces – the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard – for their scholarship, volunteerism, leadership, extracurricular involvement and other criteria while facing the challenges of military family life.

The seventh award is the Military Child of the Year Award for Innovation presented by global technology and consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. This award goes to a military child who has designed a bold and creative solution to address a local, regional or global challenge. In addition to the $10,000, the trip to Washington, D.C. and other prizes, the Military Child of the Year Award for Innovation recipient will work with a Booz Allen Hamilton team to develop a plan to scale the recipient’s project – drawing on technology and strategic thinking as a part of the corporation’s competitive Summer Games.

Anyone may nominate a favorite military child for a service branch Military Child of the Year Award. Parents, siblings, teachers, coaches, clergy, neighbors, grandparents and anyone who know a child’s talents may nominate. Simply go to and click the Nominate tab. Youth interested in the Innovation Award do not need to be nominated, and may apply directly at

All awards will be presented at the 10th annual recognition gala April 19, 2018, in the nation’s capital, during which senior leaders of each branch of service will present the awards.


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment