The Florida Highway Patrol is monitoring a controlled burn in western Flagler County near County Road 304 and Old Haw Creek Road, and has warned that the smoke may affect nearby roads, including State Road 11, the night of July 19 and the morning of July 20, according to an FHP news release.
The FHP has asked drivers in the area to use caution, and to use their low beams as neccessary.
"Visibility may deteriorate quickly due to smoke/fog type conditions, especially during the night time and early morning hours," according to the release. "Motorists are reminded to reduce their speed as necessary to avoid a collision and utilize their low beam headlights in order to adapt to changing weather conditions."
The news release listed the incident time as 6:15 p.m. July 19.
Vandals cause $12,000-$15,000 in damage to FTI building
Someone damaged the walls of the Flagler Technical Institute building and threw old computers and office equipment through one of its windows sometime between July 10 and July 14, causing about $12,000-$15,000 in damage, according to a Sheriff's Office case report.
FTI Director Kevin McCarthy told a deputy investigating the case that game cameras had been installed July 10 on the property, at 1 Corporate Drive near Palm Coast Parkway, according to the report. The cameras captured images of three young people on the property July 12, but didn't show whether or not the youths entered the building.
The FTI building is slated for demolition in January 2016, but the School Board, which owns the building, had hoped to salvage the interior fixtures, McCarthy told the deputy.
The School Board has reported multiple cases of youths damaging the building, but deputies have identified no suspects, according to the report.
Palm Coast Data evacuated over suspicious package
A building at the Palm Coast Data facility at 6 Commerce Boulevard was evacuated Thursday, July 16 after employees found an envelope with a suspicious substance.
The package has been found to be safe, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman said at about 4:15 p.m. Thursday.
The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, Flagler County Fire Rescue and a hazmat team from St. Johns County were called in to assist after an emergency call came in about the package at 10:55 a.m.
“It was determined to not be a harmful substance or a public safety hazard,” Deputy Paula Priester said. “There was not a public safety hazard; they just followed procedure with evacuating the building and doing what they were supposed to do.”
Flagler Beach to consider state challenge vs. Sea Ray
Flagler Beach City Commissioner Jane Mealy has requested that the commission discuss, at its July 23 meeting, a challenge to Sea Ray’s plan to build a parking lot on its property. The County Commission is expected to approve on July 20 the zoning changes required to allow for the parking lot.
Mealy and others spoke at the Flagler County Planning Board meeting in opposition to Sea Ray’s proposed zoning change and parking lot construction. The Planning Board, which unanimously rejected the proposal on Feb. 10, approved it unanimously July 13 after changes were made to the plan.
Also on the agenda for the July 23 Flagler Beach meeting:
— Consider a request for the use of the Flagler Beach Pier to hold a monthly or weekly Sunrise Yoga Class to raise money for local charity — Jordon Ferrell, Rotary Club of Flagler Beach.
— Request by the Flagler Beach City Commission for clarification and additional explanation of the Real Estate Appraisal report concerning a 2.94 acre portion of the former Ocean Palm Golf Course, dated June 10, 2015 — Commissioner Steve Settle.
— Establishment of Fiscal Year 15/16 Tentative General Fund Millage Rate for the DR420 Certification of Taxable Value and set date for the budget hearings in September. — Bruce. C. Campbell.
The meeting will begin 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 23, at City Hall, 105 S. Second St.
CANCELED: Additional cent to be added to county bed tax?
The County Commission had planned to discuss, at a Monday, July 20, workshop, whether to increase the tax on hotel stays. Currently, the tax is 4 cents, but the county could increase it to 5 cents, according to County Administrator Craig Coffey. The funds raised by the tax are used for promoting tourism in Flagler County. But, as of Friday, July 17, that item was canceled from the agenda. It could come back for discussion in four to six months after more ground work with vendors, etc., Coffey said.
In the regular meeting, which takes place at the Government Services Building at 5 p.m. July 20, the commission will consider the Planning Board’s recommendation to approve plans for Sea Ray Boats to build a parking lot. The plan has been controversial because some residents on neighboring Lambert Avenue fear additional parking could lead to additional emissions. The county’s stance has been that the parking lot and the emissions are two different issues. What is on the table now is only the parking lot expansion, which Sea Ray says is necessary to accommodate safe parking for employees.
The commission will also consider a measure that could make it easier for residents to access state funds to make improvements to their homes.
Another item of interest on the agenda is a plan for 99 homes to be built in a development on the east side of John Anderson Drive. Additional homes will be built on the west side of John Anderson.
Not on the agenda but part of the budget for the next fiscal year is a plan to improve the Island House, which is built in the Princess Place Preserve. It has been used for retreats and events in the past, but with improvements it could become a destination wedding location, giving more options for wedding tourism; it could also be used for nature-based tourism. Princess Place will also have cottages built for eco-tourism and research; construction will begin in about three months, according to Coffey.
Berry picking banned on county property
The following is a news release from the Flagler County communications office:
Palmetto berries on Flagler County might be tempting to pick, but county ordinance forbids it.
“It’s palmetto berry season, which means it is the time of year when both Flagler County staff and private property owners see people on the side of roadways to pick the berries,” Flagler County Land Management Coordinator Mike Lagasse said. “While some private property owners allow the harvesting of the berries with permission, please be advised that picking palmetto berries is not allowed on Flagler County owned or managed preserves and parks.”
It’s also prohibited to remove soil, rock, sand, stones, trees, shrubs, plants or wood materials.
“Palmetto berry harvesting activities reduce the amount of food available for wildlife and can create unwanted trails and debris on our public lands,” County Administrator Craig Coffey said.
In the past, palmetto berry harvesting has been problematic at Mala Compra Park, River-to-Sea Preserve and Varn Park in the northeastern Flagler County. Other areas of concern include Haw Creek Preserve, Princess Place Preserve, Shell Bluff and Betty Steflik Preserve.
“Sometimes people will say that they received permission to pick the berries, but this is absolutely untrue of Flagler County public lands,” Lagasse said. “There are no licenses in effect for individuals to harvest palmetto berries or any other vegetative material.”
If you see someone you suspect of harvesting palmetto berries on county-owned property, please report it to Lagasse at 313-4064.
Keep livestock away from creeping indigo
The following is a news release from the Flagler County communications office:
An invasive plant called creeping indigo has been identified in Flagler County, and it is poisonous to horses and other grazing livestock.
The plant was introduced into Florida in 1925 as a potential forage species as it is in the same family as alfalfa, clover and peanuts. Toxicology concerns were evident by the ‘30s and using it for forage was abandoned.
It has since expanded northward from Key West into Central and North Florida. Flagler County has an Invasive Exotic Control Program and creeping indigo has just been added to the list as officials work to significantly reduce it on public lands.
“We are getting better at identifying it,” said Mark Warren, UF/IFAS Extension agent in Flagler and Putnam counties. “We want people to know what to look for.”
Warren is hosting an educational meeting about creeping indigo from 10 a.m. to noon July 25 at the Extension Office, 150 Sawgrass Road, Bunnell.
The plants grow like groundcover, have pink to coral colored flowers arranged in clusters with leaves that have six to eight small clover-like leaflets per leaf unit.
“The plant can be showy looking, but detection can be difficult when in areas where it either mixes with other grasses and plants,” Warren said. “Livestock owners should learn to identify and manage pastures to reduce risks associated with creeping indigo.
Non-neurological symptoms include weight loss and loss of appetite, increased heart rate, labored breathing, hypersalivation, foaming from the mouth and dehydration among others. Neurological symptoms include changes in personality and depression, low head set, head pressing, compulsive walking, head tilting, hanging lips, abnormal gait and unconsciousness or convulsions.
For more information about creeping indigo management and pasture control, contact Warren at 386-437-7464, or 386-329-0318. If you think you have identified creeping indigo on public lands, contact Flagler County’s Land Management Coordinator Mike Lagasse at 386-313-4046.
Photographs of creeping indigo are available through the UF/IFAS Extension website, here.