Buzz: Stork Saviors, Jacksonville Beach Sign, a CEO’s Raise and More

Stork Saviors
An exposed power line and a retention pond proved too much for young endangered wood storks learning to fly, but the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens and JEA came up with some novel ideas to prevent them from electrocution, according to a JEA news release. At first, the JEA thought the best solution was to bury the power line, but quickly realized it would take too long. Instead, it installed flight diverters. A JEA senior environmental scientist said the diverters are like a little dartboard with a reflector in the center. They’re designed to make the power line visible to young wood storks. The zoo planted a heritage long-leaf pine forest in a part of the new parking overflow lot, to make the pond less attractive to the birds. The wild birds have used the zoo as a rookery since arriving in 1999.

Sign of a Community’s Life
Visitors to Jacksonville Beach coming from the south will see a new, modern sign welcoming them. The best part? It didn’t cost the city too much. The attractive new sign was placed near Paradise Key South Beach development, where HGTV is building its Smart Home. Architect Thomas J. Mnich designed the sign with 36-inch letters, but Jacksonville Beach City Council didn’t have the funds for the $10,000 fee. According to the Planning Commission’s Terry DeLoach, locals bought letters for the sign at about $621 each. The City Council bought three letters; two letters are still up for grabs. Harbinger Sign placed all the letters. If you want to pay for a letter, call DeLoach at 651-1673.

CEO’s Raise an Economic Indicator?
Three months after saying it was not the right economic climate to boost his pay, the Jacksonville Airport Authority has given CEO Steve Grossman a 3 percent pay hike. Apparently, the economy’s improved. The increase boosts his salary from $280,0009 to $288,400. In October, a board committee rated Grossman’s job performance as outstanding, but postponed a salary increase until January. City Councilmember John Crescimbeni, who’s been critical of executive pay levels at the city’s independent authorities, was critical of the pay hike, but said it’s more in line than some of the bigger raises and bonuses for other executives, The Florida Times-Union reported.

What $10,000 Will Get You
Florida Community College at Jacksonville and St. Johns River State College have agreed to join all of Florida’s other state colleges and accept Gov. Rick Scott’s challenge of developing bachelor’s degrees for $10,000 or less. SJRSC President Joe Pickens said he was committed to offering a $10,000 degree starting in fall 2014. FSCJ’s Interim President Will Holcombe said the college is still developing a logistics degree for less than $10,000. FSCJ still needs the state education board’s approval.

Electronic Billboard Hubbub
A Jacksonville lawyer is involved in a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn a 2007 memorandum allowing digital billboards along federal highways. The lawsuit was filed Jan. 23 in Washington, D.C., after petitioning the Federal Highway Administration for three years and receiving no official response. Attorney Bill Brinton, with Rogers Towers P.A. on the Northbank, is advising Scenic America, is a nonprofit membership group seeking to protect the nation’s roadways from billboard blight.

JaxPort CEO Search Begins
The Jacksonville Port Authority’s board of directors is paying a Chicago-based search firm $99,000 plus expenses to hire a new chief executive officer. Heidrick & Struggles, chosen from a pool of 11 applicants, said it will try to find a replacement for Paul Anderson by the end of April. Anderson resigned the JaxPort post in November to be CEO at the Port of Tampa.

Charter School Gets Chucked
The Clay County School Board voted 4-1 to turn down the charter school application of Orange Park Performing Arts Academy, The Florida Times-Union reported. Superintendent Charlie Van Zant and the district’s Charter School Review Committee recommended the board deny the application of the proposed school because it failed to meet state standards. The Rev. Alesia Ford-Burse, who led the school’s efforts, said she will appeal the board’s decision to the state.