Community Briefs 9/6/18

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Still space for exhibitors and vendors

PENNEY FARMS – The Town of Penney Farms is preparing for the 2018 Penney Farms Old Fashioned Farm Day on Sept. 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and there is still space for some exhibitors.

Organizers are looking for exhibitors to display old farm equipment, tools or machinery, as well as demonstrate old time skills and country crafts. Exhibit space is free.

Other types of vendors are welcome too. Vendor space is $25 for the day and all kinds of produce, products and crafts are encouraged.

Call Town Hall at (904) 529-9078 for more information, to request a sign-up form and get directions.

Come see us down on the Farm for fun music, games, contests a petting zoo and bring pennies to help build the Mile of Pennies.

Step back in time in October

ORANGE PARK – Orange Park history comes to life on Oct. 27 as the annual Moonlight on Magnolia introduces guests to yesterday’s residents.

Beginning at 4 p.m., guests will be guided on 45-minute tours through Magnolia Cemetery at 1040 Kingsley Ave. by members of the Historical Society of Orange Park.

The final tour begins at 6:30 p.m. when moonlight must guide the way. Visitors are invited to stroll through time as re-enactors portraying Magnolia’s permanent residents tell their stories at various stops along a guided path.

This year’s walk promises to be fantastic. Stops along the way will include benefactress Carrie Clarke, author Nixon Smiley, African-American entrepreneurs, military leaders and others. There are so many interesting characters in Magnolia that to include them all in the guided tours would mean a very lengthy walk. Therefore, following the guided tours guests are free to visit with the several others whose stories can be shared on a more informal basis.

Free parking is available at the First Baptist Church of Orange Park, located next to the cemetery. Admission is free but donations to the Historical Society of Orange Park, a 501(c)(3) organization, will be accepted. All are invited to attend. Guests are encouraged to bring a water bottle and a flash light for after dark.

While at the cemetery for the tour, guests can visit the Society’s Veterans Memorial, which will host a special observance of Veterans Day on Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. For more information, visit the society’s website, http://ophistory.org/

Clerk of Court expands online payment system

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Clay County Clerk of Court office is making it easier for residents to pay fines to the courts after hours, 24/7.

Clerk of Court Tara S. Green said the new partnership with a service called nCourt allows those who owe fines to pay them around-the-clock.

First implemented in other Florida counties on a testing basis, nCourt showed it helped improve the number of fines that were paid on time, therefore, creating a higher level of compliance.

The new system has also been credited for lowering driver’s license suspensions and contempt of court or collection agency issues.

Until now, residents could only use the nCourt link and site for payment of civil traffic citations in Clay County. This newly-expanded online payment system now also includes all criminal case types as well as options to pay other citations such as game and fish, parking, and tobacco, plus payment options for driving records, copies and driver license reinstatements.

This expanded online option also applies to making payments on approved court cost payment plans. Green and her staff are happy with the results they have seen so far.

“This is truly a win-win for everyone involved in this process,” said Chief Deputy Clerk Tracie McRae. “We already see an increased level of payment compliance because the users have the convenience of making their payments any time of the day or night, without a trip to the courthouse or branch office, which are only open during the day.”

The goal is to process all payments through the Clerk’s Office site in an efficient and streamlined manner while preserving the integrity of the payor’s credit card information. The nCourt service provides that needed level of security.

The link to the nCourt online payment website is online at www.clayclerk.com. Citizens who need to pay a citation or pay for court costs and other fines can do so by clicking on the Pay Costs & Fines button. Users will find further instructions on the nCourt website.

While payments can no longer be made through the Clerk’s Office over the phone, they will still be accepted by Clerks when submitted in person at the main courthouse in Green Cove Springs and at Clerk’s Office branch offices in Orange Park, Middleburg and Keystone Heights. Citizens may also make payments by phone through nCourt.

Wreaths Across America deadline looms

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – With 90 percent of the donations in, Wreaths Across America organizer Joan Jones of Keystone Heights is reminding the community of the program’s upcoming deadline.

Jones said the final deadline to reserve a wreath to honor fallen service men and women in Nov. 1, yet this year’s program will continue to expand and include some new participating cemeteries and organizations in Clay County.

Jones also asks the community to save the date of Dec. 15 at noon to take part in the annual event at the Keystone Heights City Cemetery on State Road 100.

Veterans groups will be on hand earlier that morning to help transport wreaths to the cemetery where they will stand waiting to be placed on gravesites after the ceremony honoring veterans from each branch of service.

Checks should be written to Wreaths Across America and state the number of wreaths being purchased. One wreath is $15, but if you buy two wreaths for $30, you get a third wreath for free. The goal is to purchase 675 wreaths this year, she said. Checks must also include the location code FLKHMG and Group Number FL0217 to ensure wreaths are shipped to the proper cemetery and celebration. Checks can be mailed to: W.A.A., P.O BOX 25, Keystone Heights, FL 32656 ATTN: JOAN or HARRY.

Orange is the New Black author comes to Jax

JACKSONVILLE – Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, will deliver the keynote address at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid’s 19th annual Equal Justice Awards Sept. 20 at the Omni Jacksonville Hotel.

Kerman’s memoir was adapted into the Netflix original series The Washington Post called “the best TV show about prison ever made.” Now in its sixth season, the Peabody and Emmy award-winning Orange is the New Black is based on Kerman’s story of the 13 months she spent in the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut, after a brief involvement with drug trafficking sent her to prison on money laundering charges.

Kerman’s memoir raises questions about the state of criminal justice in America and how incarceration affects individuals and communities. Since her release, she has worked to promote prison and criminal justice reform. She works with nonprofits, philanthropies and other public interest organizations and has been called as a witness by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights to testify on solitary confinement and women prisoners, and by the U.S. Senate Governmental Affairs and Homeland Security Committee to testify about the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

“We have the biggest prison population in the world. We have the biggest prison population in human history here in the United States,” Kerman said. “The fastest-growing segment of our criminal justice system and that prison population has been women. Female incarceration has risen by 800 percent in this country… I believe that we’ve reached a point in this country where most people are questioning whether we have made the best choices.”

JALA’s Equal Justice Awards includes the presentation of the Robert J. Beckham Equal Justice Award, named for a former JALA board member and longtime supporter. It is bestowed on a person or organization who has notably promoted the cause of equal justice for low-income residents of Northeast Florida.

This year’s recipient is George E. “Buddy” Schulz Jr., a partner in Holland & Knight’s Jacksonville office.

Schulz, who has practiced law for 45 years, is the past chair of Holland & Knight’s litigation department and current chair of its Public and Charitable Service Department, which coordinates the firm’s pro bono and community initiatives that provide assistance to persons of limited means and organizations that help them.

Since 1999, JALA has hosted an annual celebration of altruism and generosity to recognize members of the community who work for social justice and further equality through pro bono work and monetary donations.

Tickets to the event and to a pre-event VIP reception with Kerman, as well as event sponsorships, can be purchased online at www.JaxLegalAid.org/EqualJusticeAwards. Cocktails and dinner are included. All donations will support the work of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, which includes Clay County. The event begins at 5:30 p.m.

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