The County Commission and the School Board reenacted their first board meetings at the Centennial Celebration April 29.
Flagler County was formed with just 5,000 residents. The county's first teachers were paid $50 per month. The county's namesake, Henry Flagler, was granted 8,000 acres of Florida land for each mile of railroad track he laid. Those facts were just a few that attendees learned at presentation s during the county's Centennial Celebration at the Government Services Building April 29.
The county's current County Commission and School Board reenacted those boards' very first, 1917 meetings — with a few humorous, self-effacing asides — Sen. Bill Nelson spoke about the region's history, and John Stavely and Diane Jacoby gave performances as Henry Flagler and his wife, Lily.
Flagler County was formed from the southern end of St. Johns County and the northern end of Volusia County on June 11, 1917.
"For those of us who have called this county home for any amount of time, we've seen our fair share of changes," said Colleen Conklin, a school board member and one of the county's longest-serving elected officials. "And while we've grown from just 5,000 citizens to more than 100,000, in many, many ways, we've been able to keep our charm."
The County Commission reenacted its the board's first-ever meeting, with current board members playing their 1917 predecessors.
"We certainly want to be authentic, so turn your mic on," County Commission Chairman Nate McLaughlin said, starting the proceedings with laughter from the audience.
That first meeting, held at 3 p.m. on July 2, 1917, was held in the Bunnell Development Company center on Railroad Street at the intersection with Moody Boulevard.
At that first meeting, the board appointed George Moody — son of Isaac I. Moody — as its temporary chairman, set its meeting time at 9 a.m. on Mondays and sought prices on paper and printing materials for county business.
Three days later, the commission met again. Among other actions, it made George Moody its official chairman and decided that that position should rotate amongst the commissioners; approved Isaac I. Moody its emissary to the state Legislature; approved compensation of $7.50 to the sheriff for each trip he took to or from the jail in St. Augustine to deposit prisoners, plus an additional $1.50 for each prisoner after the first per trip; approved an application to the state for 30 state prisoners to work on county roads and approved requests to the state's Attorney General to place a potato at the center of the county's seal, a stalk of corn on the seal of the county clerk of courts office and a cabbage on the seal of the county judge. There were no split votes at either meeting.
The Flagler County School Board held a reenactment of the three-member Flagler Board of Public Instruction's first three meetings, held on July 3, July 16 and Aug. 18, 1917. It voted have the superintendent work out of the same building as the board, set its three teachers' salaries at $50 monthly, set its overall first-year budget as $10,970 and approved the hiring of a district attorney.
Sen. Bill Nelson, himself a Florida native, spoke of his connections to the region and its history. "There are two things that particularly endear me to this county," Nelson said. "One is Kim Hammond. Kim and I grew up together. We played Little League baseball together. ... The other thing that draws me to this part of Florida is my roots."
Nelson's family came to Florida in 1829. In 1917, the year that Flagler became a county, Nelson's grandparents were being granted a deed under the Homestead Act to the land they had worked for four years near Titusville. That land, Nelson said, is just a few miles from what became the Kennedy Space Station, where Nelson, in 1986, would launch into space as a crew member on the STS-61C Columbia.
"I was the last of the crew to crawl in and strap in, and I wandered off on that launch tower by myself, and looked in the direction just three miles away from the launch pad, where my grandparents fought off moccasins and rattlesnakes and alligators, and — especially — mosquitos. And I just couldn’t believe that they, had they been alive, that they could have believe that a grandson was going to leave the face of the earth almost directly from the old homestead."
At the end of the celebration, County Commission Chairman Nate McLaughlin read a "Celebration of Unity" proclamation that will be read again and ratified at the commission's upcoming May 1 meeting. The text of that proclamation is as follows:
A proclamation of the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners declaring 100 years of change in Flagler County, celebrating the unity now existent between all races, creeds, national origins, self identifications and humanity as it is and recognizing equality for all citizens and reconciliation for offenses large and small.
Whereas, Flagler County celebrates the harmony which now exist with the community; and
Whereas, the county was established during an era of racial divide and social ignorance that was hindered by incomplete notions of humanity; and
Whereas, for the first 50 years of existence, Flagler County acknowledges the treatment of all citizens was not equally applied, which embarrasses the modern social conscience; and
Whereas, Flagler County is home to a diversity of people of language, national origin, color, beliefs and self-identification who, enjoy sharing and mingling their lives, talents, hobbies and traditions with one another; and
Whereas, for many years the citizens of the county have been striving to be a community made up of not many separate communities, but a single minded community of diverse ideas and background; and
Whereas, the commission celebrates a positive, collective healing and reconciliation within our community and will continue to reaffirm our fundamental belief in human dignity and our unchanging reference for human rights.
Now therefore, the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners do hereby proclaim on this one 100th anniversary of this great community, that Flagler County and its residents be acknowledged for their great diversity and healing, for continuing social change, understanding and reconciliation.