News Bites: This Commuter Life; Branding the Dirty ‘Dina; 100 Years of Ball


If you ask anyone what their favorite thing about living in Florida is, no one would say “the traffic.” Well, maybe some would, and those people should really be monitored more closely. “Whether it’s via Interstate 95, 295, 10 or another major thoroughfare,” writes Jay Schlichter of the Jacksonville Daily Record, “vehicles often crawl at a few miles per hour rather than travel at or above the posted speed limits, creating what looks like lengthy parking lots.”

Schlichter’s article breaks down the internal mechanics of our stressful daily commutes, using data gleaned from the 2017 North Florida Household Travel Survey, which shows that Duval County’s roads are populated largely with drivers from other counties. A quarter of Nassau’s worker bees travel here for work every day, as well as one-third of their counterparts from Baker, Clay and St. Johns counties. The North Florida Transportation Planning Organization puts those numbers slightly higher for Baker and St. Johns, while noting that nearly 70 percent of Duval workers stay here to work.

Why bother, you ask? Money, of course. Schlichter cites Labor Department figures showing that, of those five counties, Duval is the only one to exceed the state average weekly wage of $896. Our $951 is well ahead of St. Johns’ $830, and dwarfs the averages for Nassau ($727), Clay ($705) and Baker ($629). No wonder everyone’s in such a hurry!


What’s the first thing you think of when you hear “Nassau County”? I don’t know—that’s why I’m asking. The county is redoubling its efforts to compete for those sweet, sweet tourist dollars, and the results are a bit inconclusive, according to Cindy Jackson of the Fernandina Beach News-Leader. Her Aug. 23 article details what local leaders are calling the “Nassau County Branding Initiative,” which has zero to do with cattle and everything to do with good old-fashioned propaganda.

Her protagonist is now-former County Manager Shanea Jones, who in March “used a discretionary fund to hire the Jacksonville public relations firm of Burdette Ketchum to create the new looks and the new catchphrase,” writes Jackson. “The price tag was $45,000 plus travel, not to exceed $47,000.” The first public presentation was made on May 14, and featured a bullet point titled “County DNA and value proposition,” which sounds more like the theme of a bachelor party at Mar-A-Lago, but is apparently related to branding. The firm surveyed dozens of local leaders, did some interviews, pressed more flesh than a SPAM factory and tendered results that were eminently passable.

For what it’s worth, the logos are fine, just fine. You’ve got egrets, plants, old houses and railroad spikes, all rendered in a pleasing shade of blue that surely matches the color of the water, somewhere. One can easily imagine a drunken retiree dropping two Tubmans on the T-shirt and hat set, allowing them to ride their lawnmowers in high style well into the 2020s. At the follow-up meeting on July 9,”The new design was criticized, including a statement from one person that an egret doesn’t fly with its head in the air,” Jackson writes. Because THAT is where you draw the line. Jones’ successor was not pleased and demands a refund; negotiations are pending. Folio Weekly’s art department can give them all that for just $500 and a case of kombucha; we can split the other $46,000 on “expenses.”


Last week saw a milestone in local sports, as the fightin’ Yellow Jackets of St. Augustine High School literally kicked off their 100th season with a 14-13 road win against the Baker County Wildcats on Aug. 23. Will Brown of the St. Augustine Record marked the occasion with words. “[I]t would not be a stretch to state the Yellow Jackets have served as an exemplary reflection of the school and this community,” he writes. “The previous 99 seasons—over the course of 104 years—have featured 1,011 games, 610 wins, 29 district or conference championships, 10 unbeaten regular seasons and, of course, a state championship in 2005.”

The school has sent two men to the NFL, Scott Player and Caleb Sturgis, and countless more to Division I schools. “The Yellow Jackets have played Bradford County, Daytona Beach Seabreeze and Daytona Beach Mainland more than 40 times; DeLand 38, [and] Lake City Columbia 34,” writes Brown. “The program is 19-0 against Bartram Trail, 17-0 against Menendez, 6-0 against Creekside and 5-0 against Ponte Vedra.” But their most enduring rivalry has been against the Palatka Panthers; the two teams will face off for the 99th time on Sept. 28, with proceeds going to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.