Also in News Briefs: Varn Park restoration begins, Bunnell and Flagler Beach hold elections, Flagler Beach Police Department creates permanent drug-disposal site, Sheriff Staly fulfills vow to serve as duty watch commander.
The Flagler County government unveiled the new version of its official website March 1. The new site, created by Revize Software Systems, features the bright aqua, green and yellow colors of the county's official logo, and links to the county's official social media accounts.
The new website is designed to minimize the number of clicks required to access information, and it has new features, including the ability to display photo galleries and play YouTube videos.
"Now you get a lot of cool parks pictures, and really get a feel for what Flagler County is," said county spokeswoman Julie Murphy, who handled the county's side of the redesign process. "I think people are going to find it's just a lot easier to use and to navigate."
County Commission meetings and other board meetings will now be streamed live through YouTube and accessed through a link on the county website, and will also be posted to YouTube after the meetings end. (The county's YouTube channel is available HERE.)
There's also a website tab for local weather information. It will host twice-weekly video weather forecasts from the county's weather expert, Emergency Management Technician Bob Pickering, as well as a video series from county Skywarn-trained storm watchers.
The county switched to Revize from former vendor CivicPlus, which designed the previous version of the county's website in 2009.
The switch, said county spokeswoman Julie Murphy, is expected to save the county about $17,000 over five years. The initial redesign, plus regular maintenance and a redesign in four years to incorporate new technology, will cost the county about $30,000 with Revize. CivicPlus had quoted the county $47,218 for an initial redesign and one-time redesign.
Bunnell, Flagler Beach to hold municipal elections March 7
March 7 is municipal election day for Bunnell and Flagler Beach. Residents of each city will be voting for two city commissioners. Both cities have opted out of early voting.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in both cities.
Polling for Bunnell residents will be held at the Bunnell City Hall at 201 S. Church Street in Bunnell. To view a sample ballot, click HERE.
Polling for Flagler Beach residents will be held at the Flagler Beach City Commission Room at 105 S. Second Street in Flagler Beach. To view a sample ballot, click HERE.
For further information, see the Supervisor of Elections Office webpage HERE.
Varn Park restoration efforts begin
Dune restoration work began at Varn Park Feb. 27, and heavy truck traffic is expected at the site seven days a week for several months, according to a Flagler County government news release.
Are residents should use the beach south of Varn Park or north of Jungle Hut while Varn Park is closed, County Administrator Craig Coffey said.
Restoration equipment will access the beach at both Varn Park and Jungle Hut Road.
The permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection to HDOA is effective until May 1. More project approvals are expected in the near future, which may temporarily limit access at other Flagler beaches.
Flagler Beach Police Department creates permanent safe drug-disposal site
The Flagler Beach Police Department has been awarded a grant from CVS/pharmacy to install a permanent location for residents to dispose of unused or expired medication, including controlled substances, in a safe and environmentally responsible way, according to a Police Department news release.
The Drug Collection Unit has been installed in the front lobby of the Police Department at 204 S. Flagler Avenue, and is available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.
Drugs can be dropped off with no questions asked.
“The safe collection and disposal of unused medications is vital to protecting our children, our community and our environment,” Police Chief Matt Doughney said.
Use of the Drug Collection Unit will reduce the amount of unneeded medicine in residents’ homes and decrease prescription drug abuse, which has soared in recent years, especially among teenagers.
More than 70% of teenagers say it is easy to get prescription drugs from their parents’ medicine cabinets, according to a 2014 Partnership for Drug-Free Kids study.
The Drug Collection Unit will also help reduce contamination by keeping unused medication out of local landfills and water supplies.
CVS/pharmacy and The Medicine Abuse Project (MAP) are installing 1,000 units across the country as part of a five-year initiative of The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids program.
“The City of Flagler Beach is extremely proud to partner with CVS/pharmacy, and as a City we’d like to thank formally for their commitment to our residents,” Flagler Beach City Manager Larry Newsom said.
Sheriff Staly fulfills vow to serve as duty watch commander
Sheriff Rick Staly was back on the street Feb. 27 serving as an overnight shift watch commander, hitting the streets with patrol deputies, responding to calls for service, providing backup to his troops mixed in with an occasional traffic stop, according to a Flagler County Sheriff's Office news release.
The patrols serve to provide the sheriff with the opportunity to get out and meet the public and to learn firsthand what challenges the deputies face on a daily basis.
When he took office in January, Sheriff Staly announced he would be doing night patrols to help build support for his deputies, while working to protect Flagler County residents’ safety. In addition, he requires each member of his command staff to work a scheduled 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift as watch commander to form closer bonds with deputies and to know firsthand what is occurring in the county.
“This is very important to me, as I have always led from the front and by example," Staly said. "Since I require all of our command staff to work the streets, so should I. This requirement allows the staff to remember what it’s like to work the streets as we make decisions that affect our deputies and the community."
Sheriff's Office taking applications for Sheriff's Citizens Academy
The Flagler County Sheriff's Office is planning a free, six-week citizens academy program that will meet 6-9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from March 28 through May 4.
The citizens academy is designed to give residents an inside look at local law enforcement. Students will visit the county communications dispatch center, county jail, Community Policing Division and the Investigative Services Division, and will meet members of the Sheriff's Office SWAT team, Marine & Dive, Agricultural and Ranch, and K-9 units.
Academy classes are taught by the Sheriff’s Office command staff and civilian personnel.
To be eligible for the citizens’ academy, participants must:
- Be at least 18 years old;
- Live or work in Flagler County;
- Have no prior felony convictions;
- Have no misdemeanor arrests within the last 12 months.
Seating is limited. To register, download an applications from the Sheriff's Office web site under the "Citizens Academy" tab at flaglersheriff.com, or email Sgt. Michael Lutz and he will email an application.
For more information about the Citizens Academy, call 386-586-2623.
County Commissioner Charlie Ericksen spends evening on patrol with Sheriff Staly
As Sheriff Rick Staly prepared for his regular Friday night patrol this week, he was joined by Flagler County District 1 Commissioner Charles Ericksen Jr.
Ericksen started the evening at the Sheriff’s Operations Center in Bunnell at 6 p.m. and thanked the deputies who were about to start their nightlong shift.
During their tour, which lasted until 11 p.m., they went to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Detention Facility and First Friday at Flagler Beach. The rest of the evening was spent patrolling and meeting deputies. “Seeing what is involved in evening patrol creates a better understanding of what a deputy does every day,” Sheriff Staly said.
Commissioner Ericksen added, “I have ridden in the past with deputies to learn about the agency. It was great to be able to ride with and have confidence in the leader of the Sheriff’s Office.”
Flagler County, city of Palm Coast hold photo contests
The city of Palm Coast will hold the Find Your Florida 2017 Photography Contest March 3 through May 31.
Prizes will be awarded, and photographs submitted for the contest will be used by the city for marketing, promotional and public relations purposes.
The theme of the contest is "Find Your Florida in Palm Coast." Photos must have been taken within the city, and photographers can enter up to 20. It is free to enter. Entries must be submitted no later than midnight May 31, 2017.
For details, guidelines and an online entry form, visit palmcoastgov.com/photocontest. For more information, contact Cindi Lane, Palm Coast communications & marketing manager, at 386-986-3708 or [email protected].
Flagler County is also holding its own photo contest, to honor the county's 100th birthday.
"With everyone using high-resolution cell phone cameras in addition to the amateur photographers in our community, we should end up with some really great entries to show as part of the Centennial Celebration," Centennial Chairman Carl Laundrie said. "The theme of the photo contest is 'What Flagler County Means to Me.'"
Beginners to advanced photographers 14 years old and up are invited to participate.
Photos will be judged on overall quality, impact, composition, creativity, technical skill and story-telling. Pictures will be judged by age group (as of Jan. 1, 2017): 14 to 18 years old; and, 19 years and older.
The deadline for submission to the county photo contest is Monday, April 10. For guidelines and prize information, go to facebook.com/flaglercountycentennial, or contact the centennial committee directly at [email protected].
The Centennial Celebration is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 29 at the Flagler County Government Services Building, at 1769 E. Moody Blvd. in Bunnell.