Community Briefs 12/13/18

Clay Today
Posted 12/12/18

Abandoned, injured cats need homes for ChristmasORANGE PARK – A cat and a kitten who were found on Jacksonville-area roads abandoned and injured are looking for a good home as their Christmas …

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Community Briefs 12/13/18


Abandoned, injured cats need homes for Christmas

ORANGE PARK – A cat and a kitten who were found on Jacksonville-area roads abandoned and injured are looking for a good home as their Christmas presents.

Clay Humane, the nonprofit animal clinic in the Orange Park area, is asking for donations to help care for two young cats found on local roadways. Clinic veterinarians believe the cats were thrown from cars based on their injuries.

A male cat was found on the Buckman Bridge Nov. 30 and has since been named Buckman. He is approximately 6-months-old and suffered multiple abrasions and a crushed pelvis. The injuries indicate he was hit by a car.

A 10-week-old female kitten was found running down Interstate 95 near Emerson Street on Dec. 4 and now is named Emerson. She came to Clay Humane with a degloving injury to the jaw.

“Because of their injuries and the locations where they were found, we believe both cats were thrown from vehicles,” said Christian Broadhurst, Clay Humane senior staff veterinarian. “Luckily, both of these sweet felines should heal in a few weeks and be ready to join new families by Christmas.”

Clay Humane veterinarians have treated both cats with X-rays, surgery and pain management. Emerson received surgery to repair the jaw area. Buckman was treated for his road rash abrasions and is recuperating from the broken pelvis.

“Buckman and Emerson were found in very dangerous situations, and we are so grateful people rescued them and brought them to Clay Humane,” said Linda Welzant, executive director of Clay Humane. “With the help of generous donations from the community, we will help these cats heal and help them find loving homes for the holidays.”

Clay Humane estimates the cost of veterinary services, boarding, food and care for Buckman and Emerson at approximately $2,000.

To make a donation to help Buckman, Emerson and abandoned and sick animals like them, visit or call (904) 276-7729.

#904SecretSanta to hand out $200,000 in gift cards

JACKSONVILLE – For the fourth year in a row, #904SecretSanta returned to Northeast Florida in the form of local law enforcement officers who gave away $50,000 worth of gift cards Dec. 11.

Acting on behalf of two anonymous donors, the officers made 500 unsuspecting citizens in Duval, Clay and St. Johns counties happy with much-appreciated holiday spending money in the form of $100 VISA gift cards.

“It’s our continued pleasure to provide this year-end gesture of surprise and delight with #904SecretSanta,” the donors commented when asked about their repeated generosity. “We have been so moved not only by recipients’ pleasure, but by the joy that the law enforcement officers have expressed in being able to play this role in our community.”

As in past years, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office distributed 300 of the gift cards, and Clay and St. Johns County’s Sheriff’s offices distributed 100 gift cards each. Area officers and deputies were provided this guidance from the donors as they began their ‘Secret Santa’ duties: ‘Based on your experience in the community or with someone you may encounter today, you are asked to distribute these cards to individuals who you feel may benefit from a gift like this at this time of year.’

#904SecretSanta started in 2015, when two donors approached The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida through their professional advisor, and a Donor Advised fund was established at The Community Foundation to carry out their wishes. Since beginning the effort in 2015, this pair of donors has distributed a total of $200,000 across three counties at the holidays.

TD Bank handles the transfer of the Donor Advised Fund’s gift of $50,000 into 500 preapproved VISA gift cards for distribution. TD Bank offered to waive the fees normally associated with purchasing gift cards so that the full value of the donors’ gift can go directly to the recipients.

2019 DAR Scholarship Available

ORANGE PARK – High school seniors who will be graduating in the spring of 2019 are encouraged to apply for a $1,000 Sophia Fleming Scholarship, sponsored by Sophia Fleming Chapter, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Applicants must be graduating from either the Clay County Public School System, St. Johns Country Day School, or are home schooled in Clay County. Students are eligible if they are going to attend any post-secondary program of study, including colleges, universities, or vocational/technical schools. No GPA information is required.

Instead, applicants are requested to write an essay, provide a list of their awards and

recognitions and two letters of recommendation. Scholarship applications are due to Lynda Lewis, Sophia Fleming scholarship chairman, on or before the deadline of Feb. 22.

The scholarship documents will be provided to each public high school guidance office in Clay County and St. Johns Country Day School as of Jan. 1. The instruction sheet and application form provide all the information a student needs to apply. Applications are also available online at

The winner will be notified the week of March. Do not mail applications via certified or registered mail. Each applicant will be notified once his or her application has been received.

Mail the application documents to: Lynda Lewis, Chairman, Sophia Fleming Scholarship Committee, Sophia Fleming Chapter, NSDAR, 316 Scenic Point Lane, Orange Park, FL 32003

Longest Night Service

ORANGE PARK – Clay County residents struggling with missing loved ones during the Christmas and Advent season are welcomed to attend a unique service slated for Advent Lutheran Church.

On Dec. 21 – the longest night of the year – at 7 p.m., Advent Lutheran will share a special worship service that allow us to be open to the working of the Holy Spirit to offer healing and hope to those who have feelings of sadness, loss or brokenness.

This is a powerful and moving service that will touch hearts. Invite family, friends, and neighbors – anyone you know who might be struggling to find joy in this holy season. The church’s Stephen Ministers will provide a soup & sandwich meal from 6-7 p.m. followed by the worship service at 2156 Loch Rane Blvd.

For more information call Courtney Horton at or (904) 272-6370.

North Florida Land Trust Received honored for environmental stewardship

JACKSONVILLE – North Florida Land Trust recently received the Environmental Stewardship Award from the Northeast Florida Regional Council.

The award was presented to NFLT President Jim McCarthy and Associate Land Protection Director Rebecca Perry during the Regional Awards for Excellence ceremony at WJCT studios.

The award is given each year to individuals or organizations that focus on long-term protection, conservation and enhancement of Northeast Florida’s natural resources. NFLT was chosen for the work they have been doing in the Ocala to Osceola, or O2O, wildlife corridor, specifically the more than 2,500 acres they protected through the acquisition of two conservation easements.

“We are very proud of the land we have been able to conserve within this critical wildlife corridor which not only keeps these thousands of acres free from high intensity development in perpetuity, but also protects Camp Blanding from the threat of encroaching development,” said McCarthy. “We are honored to have been chosen for this designation and will continue to work closely with Camp Blanding to identify lands prime for conservation and important to protect the base. Our partnership is a combination of conservation, community relations, national security and economic development.”

NFLT also recently took possession of 2,300 acres located near Lawtey that connects Camp Blanding to Jennings State Forest. The properties are also within the O2O wildlife corridor; a critical wildlife corridor that stretches from the Ocala National Forest to the Osceola National Forest. The O2O corridor provides an important habitat for the Florida Black Bear and endangered species like the red-cockaded woodpecker, indigo snakes and gopher tortoises. There are numerous imperiled species, and rare habitats within the O2O.

The Northeast Florida Regional Council is a network of local governance that serves Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Putnam, Nassau and St. Johns counties. It was established to promote area-wide coordination and cooperative activities of federal, state and local governments.

Juvenile arrests in Florida drop to 43-year low

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice announced Nov. 27 that the number of juvenile arrests continued to decline in 2017-2018, according to the latest delinquency report released by the agency.

Juvenile felony arrests dropped 10 percent over the last fiscal year and overall juvenile arrests declined eight percent in the same time frame. These declines continue the multi-year trend of fewer arrests, with a five-year decline of 24 percent, resulting in the lowest number of juvenile arrests in 43 years.

“The decreases we are seeing in juvenile arrests are due to the collaborative efforts of our dedicated DJJ staff, law enforcement partners, and community stakeholders. Helping young people turn around their lives for the better is what we all strive for every day, and we remain focused on investing in our youth and helping them achieve a brighter future,” said Timothy Niermann, DJJ interim secretary.

The current report, covering a five-year period, also shows a 13 percent decrease in armed robbery, a 20 percent decrease in burglary arrests, and a 42 percent decrease in stolen property arrests. Overall misdemeanor offenses also decreased by nine percent during the last fiscal year.

The Department of Juvenile Justice has worked to transform the juvenile justice system in Florida by implementing comprehensive, data-driven reforms.

Scott makes appointments to SJR State board

TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Rick Scott announced the appointments of Leslie Dougher, James Reid, and Rev. Bobby Crum and the reappointment of Sam Garrison to the St. Johns River State College District Board of Trustees.

Dougher, 55, a Clay County resident, is a realtor with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty. She received her bachelor’s degree from Columbia College. Dougher succeeds Denise Bramlitt and is appointed for a term beginning Dec. 6 and ending May 31, 2022.

Reid, 59, of Palatka, is a certified public accountant in private practice. He received his bachelor’s degree from Florida State University. Reid succeeds Glenda Lagasse and is appointed for a term beginning Dec. 6 and ending May 31, 2019.

Crum, 48, of St. Augustine, is a pastor of Anastasia Baptist Church. He received his bachelor’s degree from Radford University and his master’s from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reverend Crum fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning Dec. 6 and ending May 31, 2021.

Garrison, 41, of Fleming Island, is a partner at Kopelousos, Bradley, Garrison, and Komando P.A. He received his bachelor’s degree from Samford University and his juris doctorate from the University of Illinois College of Law. Garrison is reappointed for a term beginning Dec. 6 and ending May 31, 2022.

The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

Students inducted into Phi Kappa Phi

BATON ROUGE, La. – Seven college students have been initiated into The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines.

Eric Acosta of Green Cove Springs, Harrison Clark of Orange Park, Carley Weyland of Middleburg, Alexandra Damirkasan Rivera of Middleburg, Jazelle Hall of Orange Park and Jason Spon of Orange Park were initiated at Jacksonville University, while Andrew Zeolla of Orange Park was initiated at the University of Florida.

These residents are among approximately 30,000 students, faculty, professional staff and alumni to be initiated into Phi Kappa Phi each year. Membership is by invitation only and requires nomination and approval by a chapter. Only the top 10 percent of seniors and 7.5 percent of juniors are eligible for membership. Graduate students in the top 10 percent of the number of candidates for graduate degrees may also qualify, as do faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction.

Clay Eye celebrates retirement of John D. Wilcox, M.D.

ORANGE PARK – Forty-one years ago, John D. Wilcox teamed up with C.M. Harris to found Clay Eye Physicians and Surgeons. Now, the group is celebrating Wilcox’s retirement.

“Dr. Wilcox is the consummate ambassador for ophthalmology: caring, compassionate and always willing to lead by example-both in and out of the office. Dr. Wilcox has always been known for his listening ear and ability to relate to his patients, invaluable qualities in medicine and in life. People have trusted Dr. Wilcox, and that trust has been earned,” Harris said.

Prior to his Clay Eye career, Wilcox served as a Navy Captain in the Medical Corps as a Flight Surgeon/Ophthalmologist and retired in 2002 after 33 years of service.

“Over the past 40+ years, Clay Eye has experienced tremendous growth and I am proud of the practice that we’ve built. While some things have changed, the focus on patient care never has. I’m incredibly blessed to have a wonderful, supportive family coupled with an amazing career. I am leaving my patients in competent hands with my incredible colleagues. As I reflect on my career, it’s heartwarming to know that I have cared for multi-generational families – from grandparents to grandbabies, and for that I feed humbled and privileged,” Wilcox said.

Clay Eye offers comprehensive specialty eye care for glaucoma surgery, diabetic eye disease and macular degeneration, laser cataract surgery, cornea surgery, medical retina, Lasik surgery, cosmetic eye procedures, pediatric ophthalmology, and pediatric eye exams. in addition, they offer routine eye exams, contact lenses, and boutique eyewear.

Clay Eye was established in 1977 and is now a 12-physician group. They currently have offices in Orange Park, Fleming Island, Mandarin and Riverside.

County Fair wins awards

LAS VEGAS – The Clay County Agricultural Fair continues to win awards – this time for two brand new features introduced in 2018.

The International Association of Fairs and Expositions awarded the county fair with first place for its Unlimited Opportunities Goat Show and third place for the Goat Yoga Experience at its conference in Las Vegas held Nov. 25-29.

“I am especially proud of our Unlimited Goat Show award, being able to offer an event for children with all abilities is something near and dear to my heart. The young ladies who worked incredibly hard on organizing the goat show gives me great hope for our future leaders, they did such a fantastic job from beginning to end and I am incredibly proud of them,” said Tasha Hyder, general manager.

“We are so honored to have been recognized on a national level for our hard work in the agriculture industry. Our staff and board strive to be ambassadors in the agriculture industry,” said Sheryl Hartzog, Marketing & Sponsorship director.

The Clay County Agricultural Fair will run April 4-13, 2019.


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