NEWS BRIEFS 12.23.2010

By: 
Dec. 23, 2010

+ County enacts emergency burn ban
With little rainfall, very little in the forecast and worsening fire conditions, Flagler County has enacted a countywide emergency burn ban outlawing campfires and all other outdoor burning.
 

The ban provided under state law declares a local state of emergency and affects all county residents. The county’s drought index is 638 as of Tuesday, Dec. 21.
 

The ban outlaws all open flames but stops short of outlawing the use of outdoor barbecue grills. The law specifically bans the use, sale or discharge of fireworks, including sparklers; open burning, use of open fire pits and containers; parking vehicles with catalytic converters in high grassy areas; and throwing matches or cigarettes from vehicles. The law provides for a warning on the first offense and a $500 fine or 60 days in the County Jail on the second offense.

+ Flagler’s jobless rate rises to 16.6%
Flagler County’s non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for November 2010 is 16.6%, according to the numbers released Dec. 17 by the Agency for Workforce Innovation.
 

The metropolitan statistical area of Palm Coast continues to rank No. 1 with the state’s highest unemployment at 16.6%.

+ Jewelry-and-pawn shop burglarized
Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating a break-in of a Palm Coast jewelry-and-pawn shop.
 

Deputies responded around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 15, to Leah’s Jewelry and Pawn, on Old Kings Road North, where they found the front door of the business broken out. While on the scene, deputies observed a man wearing all black and carrying a black bag.
 

When the man saw deputies, he ran, jumping a chain link fence and disappearing into the woods. A search was launched with K-9 units and Volusia County Sheriff’s Office Air One, but the man was not located.
 

Deputies said a brick had been used to break out the door window. It appeared that nothing was taken in the incident.
 

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office at 313-4911.

+ City adds taxing tool to recoup costs
Earlier this year, the City Council passed three ordinances to assume the authority to clean up abandoned residential properties. The City Council gave those ordinances some teeth Tuesday, Dec. 21.
 

Whereas before, the city might fill in a sickly swimming pool or address a blue-tarped roof and put a standard lien on the property to recoup the costs, now, the city can put a tax lien on the property, greatly increasing the likelihood of being reimbursed.
 

Mayor Jon Netts said that typically, the homes in question have one or two unpaid mortgages, as well as unpaid property taxes. Repaying the city’s costs was a last priority. Now, it’s at the top of the list.
 

He added that now, when foreclosure is initiated on a property, the city will tell the mortgage holder that the property needs to be abated. Then, the mortgage holder can allow the city to proceed, or find a cheaper method.
 

“Most lenders find out they can do it cheaper than the city can do it,” Netts said. “The end result is the property is taken care of, and the neighborhood is cleaned up.”
 

City Council member Frank Meeker looked at Netts and said with a straight face: “People can do things cheaper than government? Wow.”
 

Also at the meeting, the City Council passed the resolution to reduce site inspection fees and commercial fire impact fees. Park impact fees will be addressed at a future workshop.

NUMBERS
IN THE NEWS

$350 — price of an ounce of marijuana.
$2,000 — grant total received by the Eco Boosters, of the Future Problem Solvers.