News Bites

TRIBUNE & GEORGIAN

Jill Helton reported May 24 on the indictment of two federal government employees who were charged with pilfering a cache of high-grade weaponry from the Marine base at Kings Bay. The armaments, buried about two feet down, were found after Camden County K-9 officer Denny dug in following an anonymous tip. The two suspects had spent the early part of the year building up a frightening arsenal, prior to their arrest in February. The first indictment fingers them for stealing C-2 and C-4 explosives. “The second indictment,” writes Helton, “details more recent activity … in which the two allegedly accepted stolen ammunition, gas masks, body armor, smoke grenades, rifle magazines, gun parts, rifle scopes and rifle accessories.” Though it’s unclear what they were gathering all this stuff for, given what’s transpired in recent months, it boggles the mind, and we should all be grateful to CCSO for averting what may have been a tragedy in the making.

CLAY TODAY

Shenanigans involving the State Housing Initiative Partnership Program were reported on May 23 by Clay Today’s Wesley LeBlanc: “[State Housing Initiative Partnership Program is] a state initiative that uses Florida tax dollars to repair homes […] the program provides funds to local governments as an incentive to create partnerships that produce and preserve affordable homeownership and multifamily housing with the goal of helping low to moderate income families in need. The program also helps the elderly and the disabled, or those not capable of making necessary repairs to their home themselves.”

Allegedly, some contractors are using government largesse as an excuse to pad their billing with unnecessary work.

One former client said she needed only a new roof and some tree-trimming, but upon receiving her $25,000 grant, SHIP inspectors gave her a laundry list of ancillary repairs that just had to be done, whether she liked it or not. Adding to that, the contractor who ultimately did the work claims he’s still owed about $7,000 from SHIP, for a job completed two years ago. The resulting lawsuit(s) will likely uncover similar tales.

BEACHES LEADER

Politics is always a sketchy and contentious affair, and all the more so in the era of Trump. But one upside to all the controversy is that the 2018 midterm season has seen a veritable plethora of new, fresh candidates for office on the local, state and national level, coast to coast. The most recent addition to the ranks is Dr. Georgette Dumont, who recently declared her intent to pursue a spot on the Jacksonville Beach City Council, Seat 5, District 2. A Beaches Leader staff writer offered a primer on her provenance: “Dumont currently serves on the Jacksonville Beach Planning Commission and is a former member of Jacksonville’s Public Service Grants Council and Jacksonville’s Task Force on Consolidated Government, and a former board member for Jacksonville Beach Deck the Chairs and Beaches Watch. Dumont has a bachelor’s degree in communication from Roger Williams University, a master’s degree in public administration from Bridgewater State University and a Ph.D. in political science from Northern Illinois University. She is currently an associate professor at the University of North Florida where she predominately teaches graduate courses in public and nonprofit management.”

Dumont combines the detail-oriented nature of a doctor with the laid-back style of a longtime Beach lady; she’s been a regular presence at council meetings for years, and knows the mechanics of the council as well as anyone today. Her husband George is also a professor at UNF, which has produced a number of interesting candidates for this cycle, led by the former ambassador and current congressional aspirant Nancy Soderberg.

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