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Palm Coast Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019 6 months ago

Flagler County hires first three recruits from FPC Fire Academy

Also: Amy Lukasik becomes tourism director, FDOT unveils proposals for five-year work plan.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Three graduates of Flagler Palm Coast High School's Fire Academy, which started three years ago with support from the county government, now have new jobs as Flagler County firefighters.

The three — Noah Dunaway, Dylan Cronk and Beau Kruithoff, all 18 — have earned their Florida state firefighter and EMT certifications. 

County Fire Chief Don Petito and Flagler Schools Superintendent James Tager introduced the firefighters at a County Commission meeting Nov. 4. FPC Principal Tom Russell, Assistant Principal Kerri Sands and district Executive Director of Student and Community Engagement Lynette Shott also attended.

"We don't usually introduce new hires to the commission, but today is a special day," Petito said. "This is the first graduating class of the FPC Fire Academy ... a true classroom-to-career form of class that we're doing now, and it's the only class in the state of Florida doing this."

Tager thanked the county for its contribution to the FPC academy's efforts. 

"I think the program that we have for students with classroom-to-careers is the best in the state and one of the best in the country," Tager said. "As far as firefighters, I've never seen the level of cooperation that we have with Flagler County." 

"Students are coming to school just for the firefighting academy flagship," Tager added. "You're offering future opportunity for our students. We're so proud of the three young men that are standing behind me. ... When young people have futures, you all are doing a fantastic job."

The FPC Fire Academy now has 150 students participating, Petito said.

"It should keep us for a few years," he said. "I think it would be able to staff most of the fire departments around here."

Amy Lukasik takes helm at county tourism department

Amy Lukasik, the newly-appointed director of the county's Tourist Office, laid out a strategy for a new direction for the department during a County Commission meeting Nov. 4 .

It was Lukasik's first day as the department's director: She had been serving as interim director ever since former director Matt Dunn was placed on administrative leave in April. Dunn was fired Oct. 18.

The department's new draft plan, Lukasik said, lays out three goals — destination development, visitor experience and organizational excellence — and a series of objectives for achieving each.

Objectives for the destination development goal, she said, include increasing exposure for the county's eco-tourism locations, improving destination signage and environmental messaging such as the county's "Dodge the Dunes" campaign, strengthening area arts and culture offerings, and enhancing facilities. 

"The objective here is to increase the exposure of the ecotourism magnets that we have here in our community," Lukasik said. "We want to look at creating visitor experiences within those areas and creating packages and advocating for any improvements that need to be made."

The county will also be adding a new destination sign on Interstate 95, Lukasik said, and expects to send the design to the printer this week.  

Visitor experience objectives include advancing Flagler County’s festival culture, supporting sustainability for its beaches and environment, and targeting efforts to attract meetings and sports events that mirror the county's strengths.

Organizational excellence objectives include redefining the TDC grant programs and capital projects fund to achieve a higher return on investment, developing a state-of-the-art visitor center, expanding community outreach, and optimizing staff and operational responsibilities. 

"We realize now that it’s our residents that are our ultimate customer," she said, contrasting the new vision with previous ones which had emphasized hoteliers and visitors. "Our goal is to build value in the community by connecting local organizations and community members around the issues that impact the overall experience."

FDOT unveils five-year work program 

The Florida Department of Transportation's proposed five-year work program for Flagler County includes improvements at the Flagler County Executive Airport, landscaping at the Interstate 95 off ramp at State Road 100, roadway stabilization resurfacing in the Hammock, and a multi-use bike and pedestrian trail at Graham Swamp from Lehigh Trial to SR 100, according to the proposed program, viewable at

New additions to the proposed work program include traffic calming for State Road A1A from Ocean Marina Drive to south of Westmayer Place, and the widening and resurfacing of Walnut Avenue from Water Oak Road to Forest Park Street in Daytona North, Loreen Bobo, FDOT's District 5 director of development, told county commissioners at the commission's Nov. 4 meeting. 

Proposed deletions include the right-of-way for the previously proposed roundabout at State Road 11 and County Road 304, and design work for a bike path on State Road A1A from South 26th Street to North Ninth Street.


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