Also in News Briefs: Sheriff graduates from National Sheriff’s Institute; burn ban in effect; Palm Coast earns high floodplain rating; County Road 13 roadwork begins May 8
Flagler County sheriff graduates from National Sheriff’s Institute
Sheriff Rick Staly, along with 29 other sheriffs, completed the National Sheriffs’ Institute (NSI) on Friday evening which culminated with a graduation ceremony.
“It was an honor to attend the National Sheriffs’ Institute and I enjoyed the experience,” said Sheriff Staly. “I feel that I returned with a lot of great information and resources to utilize in our agency.”
Sheriff Staly is a Life Member of the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA), which provides the NSI training program twice per year in partnership with the National Institute of Corrections (NIC). The NSI selects up to 30 first-term sheriffs from across the country to attend the institute. The program is funded entirely by the Federal Government at no cost to local taxpayers, including travel, lodging, and meals. Only one other Sheriff from Florida was selected to attend NSI.
Local lawmen compete in cowboy gunslinging contest May 7 to raise funds for charity
Who is the fastest gunslinger lawman in Flagler County? Join Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly, Bunnell Police Chief Tom Foster and Lieutenant Randy Doyle of the Flagler Beach Police Department on Sunday, May 7 at high noon at the Flagler County Gun Club to find out. The gun club is located at 1290 County Road 90E in Bunnell.
The Lawmen’s Competition is a timed event using single action revolvers with wax bullets, shooting at metal targets, using western-style cowboy gun belts and holsters, according to a Sheriff's Office news release. Each gunslinger selects a charity to support. Staly is competing for the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches.
“While I cannot guarantee a win, I can guarantee that I will be the best dressed and equipped gunslinger lawman seen in Flagler County that day, and I will be arriving in style,” Staly said in the news release. “I hope to see a lot of support at the competition. It will be a fun time for a good cause.”
The event is being held in conjunction with the local Cracker Cowboys and the Cowboy Fast Draw Association, which are hosting a State and Territorial Championship of fast draw competitors in Flagler County. This is the first time the national competition has been held in Flagler County. It draws competitors from throughout the United States, according to the news release.
To make a donation, visit: youthranches.org/index.php/ways-to-give/online-donation. Select Campaign: “Where most needed” and under "Additional Comments," add “Flagler Sheriff Fastest Gun in Flagler County Competition.” Or, make a donation by check, payable to the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches. Check can be dropped off to the Sheriff’s Operations Center at 901 E. Moody Blvd. in Bunnell.
Burn ban in effect, state of local emergency declared
Flagler County is under a burn ban. At its meeting May 1, the County Commission declared a local state of emergency and enacted the ban.
“I think we need to get the word out to our residents that things such as charcoal barbecues are not allowed to be used,” Commissioner David Sullivan said.
All counties south of Flagler County have already issued burn bans in Florida, according to a county government news release.
The burn ban prohibits the following:
- The sale, use and discharge of fireworks
- Open burning, including the use of fire pits and containers
- Charcoal-burning barbecue grills – including those at Flagler County Parks and Recreation facilities
- Throwing matches or cigarettes (or other burning materials) from car windows
- Parking vehicles with catalytic converters in high grassy areas
“The real danger there is to take those charcoals when you are done at put them in the crunchy bushes,” Chair Nate McLaughlin said.
The ban will remain in effect until further notice. For safety tips, go to flaglercounty.org/firewise.
Flagler Beach police collect 44 pounds of medication in drug take back event
The Flagler Beach Police Department collected a portal of 44 pounds of unwanted medication during a four-hour drug take back event on Saturday, April 29, according to a news release from the Police Department.
The initiative was undertaken in partnership with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, and allowed residents to drop off their medications at the Police Department lobby at 204 S. Flagler Ave. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The department also maintains a Drug Collection Unit in its lobby 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The free service is offered no questions asked to residents and visitors. The Drug Collection Unit on Prescription Drug Take Back Day turned 226 pounds of collected medications over to the DEA for destruction.
Palm Coast’s floodplain rating rises, getting residents discounts on insurance
Palm Coast’s floodplain management rating has increased to among the best in the nation — a measure that shows how well a city is prepared for flooding and a rating that provides residents deeper discounts on flood insurance, according to a city of Palm Coast news release.
The National Flood Insurance Program increased Palm Coast’s rating in the Community Rating System (CRS) to a Class 4, effective May 1. The CRS recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) standards
There are only four Class 4 cities or counties in the entire United States, and only nine others with better ratings nationwide. Scores range from 1 to 10, with the lower the number the better the ranking. Some 1,444 communities in the nation participate in the Community Rating System. In Florida, Class 3 is the best ranking, and it is held by Ocala – with Palm Coast joining the elite as a Class 4.
“This program is aimed at keeping the public safe, preventing structural flooding during major rainstorms and protecting the environment,” city Administration Coordinator Denise Bevan, the city’s floodplain administrator and leader of the Floodplain Management Team, said in the news release. “We have a comprehensive strategy, and we’re proud that our new rating puts us among the top communities nationwide, in terms of floodplain management.”
Palm Coast’s floodplain management activities are reviewed annually, and an ISO (Insurance Services Office) representative performs a community visit every three years. The city has improved its rating three times since 2004.
Higher ratings are based on floodplain management activities that the city voluntarily participates in above and beyond what is required by FEMA under the NFIP. Some activities that contribute to the better rating include preserving natural environment, especially in areas that fall in Special Flood Hazard Areas, which are A and AE zones within the city; improving and maintaining drainage systems; following floodplain management practices for permits and development; organizing and planning emergency preparedness; providing public information and education; and offering public service for flood map information.
Flooding is an issue across Florida, but especially coastal communities such as Palm Coast. Here, flooding may be caused by two sources: the Intracoastal Waterway overflowing its banks during severe storms and/or high tide and by an unexpected downpour of rain from a tropical storm, hurricane or a major rain event such as what was experienced in Palm Coast in September 2014.
Standard homeowners insurance does not cover a flooded home, and the city urges all homeowners to buy flood insurance regardless of whether they live in a flood zone or flood-prone area. FEMA data shows that 20 percent of all flood claims come from properties outside the high-risk zone or Special Flood Hazard Area.
“Flooding is an act of nature that does not respect boundary lines,” Bevan said. “Floodwater can cover many blocks with water up to four or five feet deep and can come with little warning. The best way to be prepared is to have flood insurance in advance.”
Homeowners should contact their insurance company for information on specific policies that might protect properties from disastrous damage costs. The National Flood Insurance Program Call Center at 888-379-9531 can provide an agent referral, if needed.
With the increase to a Class 4 rating, eligible Palm Coast property owners in a Special Flood Hazard Area will now receive a 30-percent discount on their premiums (up from 25 percent). Properties outside of a Special Flood Hazard Area will continue to receive a 10-percent discount on their already lower premiums; this represents a majority of the Palm Coast community. Most of our residents may even be eligible for a preferred risk policy, the most affordable policy for properties located in low-risk floodplain designations, the X zones.
Bevan credits a number of factors to the increased rating – the biggest being the improvement of the local mitigation strategy to better align with floodplain management activities. The city is an active participant of the local mitigation strategy working group led by Flagler County Emergency Management.
“We’re required to update the LMS (local mitigation strategy) every five years, and through that review, we identified a variety of mitigation projects that can reduce all types of hazards, including flooding, in the County,” Bevan said, “Thanks to the hard work of Laura Nelson, the mitigation planner at Flagler County Emergency Management, the updated plan was approved by the State just in time for our review through the CRS.”
The city also gained points because of Flagler County’s efforts as a StormReady community, which is based on preparedness for severe weather. The City also worked with Flagler County to secure the StormReady designation for our community. Other point increases since the last rating change (in 2014) were for community outreach and in the open space category – protecting high-risk floodplains.
There are some pre-requisites required to reach a Class 4 that are fairly rare for a community to have, Bevan said. One is a watershed master plan. Palm Coast was fortunate that, because it was developed by ITT as a master plan community, a lot of the information needed for that plan was previously established.
“The whole program is about going above and beyond. This increased rating puts us in an elite class, and it is an honor for our organization and community,” said City Manager Jim Landon. “This new rating was the result of hard work and dedication by a number of people, especially our Floodplain Management Team led by Denise Bevan. They are commended for their outstanding work.”
To learn more about the National Flood Insurance Program and how it affects you, visit FloodSmart.gov.
County Road 13 roadwork begins, single-lane closures begin Monday, May 8
Crews have started roadwork to widen and resurface County Road 13 between U.S. 1 and County Road 205, according to a Flagler County government news release.
The work is scheduled to finish before September 28. There will be brief, single-lane closures to accommodate the work.
“It shouldn’t present too much of an inconvenience in the area, and we ask for your patience to keep the workers safe,” County Administrator Craig Coffey said. “In the long run, the upgrades to the roadway will benefit the residents of Espanola and those who use it to get to western Flagler County.”
Flagler County permit activity, single-family home starts on the rise
Permit applications are on the rise in Flagler County, and the numbers include new single-family homes, according to a Flagler County government news release.
“This is wonderful news,” Commission Chair Nate McLaughlin said in the news release. “It is a clear signal that Flagler County’s economy is rebounding.”
Development activity in the first six months of the current fiscal year — 2016/17 — has topped the yearlong activity of the previous year. Some 373 permit applications have been submitted for review between Oct. 1, 2016 and April 30. The Flagler County Growth Management Department reviewed 351 permit applications for the fiscal year 2015/16.
“The increase has been steady,” County Administrator Craig Coffey said in the news release. “It is evident when you compare the numbers to what we were doing the same month last year.”
There were 181 permit applications made in October 2016 versus 178 applications made in October 2015, and they follow the same upward trend in subsequent months ending with 249 applications made in April compared to the 182 made in April 2016.
Single-family home starts have increased from a low of 25 in 2008 to 125 in the first six months of 2016/17 fiscal year. If the trend continues, this year’s numbers will top last year’s total of 210 permits for single-family homes.
“This is also a testament to our staff,” Coffey said in the news release. “At our peak, the 2007/08 fiscal year, we had 27 employees working in Growth Management and a $3.44 million budget for that department. We are currently operating with 15 employees and a $1.78 million budget.”