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Are ‘live signs’ really a hazard?

The City of Macclenny would be well advised to dump the proposed ordinance bannng “live signs” and instead concentrate on ridding its streets — most notably busy South 6th — of the hodge-podge of ugly signage that is truly a distraction to motorists and the eyes of anyone driving, riding, walking or in the case of late night bar patrons, stumbling along the thoroughfare.

The city commission believes “live signs” that feature warm bodies waving them for pawn shops, restaurants, cellphone companies, etc. pose a danger to motorists because they are often waved directly at oncoming traffic.

Maybe so, but they’re no worse than electronic signs that grace several financial institutions and, more lately, the health department office on Lowder St. Those are  placed in attractive settings and except for one are close to the ground — at eye level — and don’t constitute eyesores.

The commission passed the proposed ordinance on first reading on July 10 and it’s scheduled for a second hearing and final passage on August 14.

Hopefully, business interests affected by the ban will show up, along with others who see this is a further intrusion by government on private small businesses at just the wrong time.

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Church volleyball league growing, tournament next month

Blake Rowan spikes the ball.The church volleyball league has been keeping local athletes busy all summer long with good competition and fellowship. The league started play in early June and has been going strong despite having to dodge around adverse weather conditions.

There are two important tournaments coming up in the next couple of weeks that will help determine the winners for the summer league.

The youth will compete on Aug. 2 and 3 and the adults tip off on Aug 6-10.

The league is split into two divisions, leisure and competitive, with teams for youth and adults.

This season there are 11 competitive teams. First Baptist Church of Glen St. Mary  and Raiford Road each field three teams. First Baptist of Macclenny has two teams and there are others from Christian Fellowship Temple, Destiny’s People and Sanderson Christian Revival Center.

The leisure division is larger with teams from churches around the entire county.

“The adult leisure is so large we had to split it in two this year,” said Missy Whitehead, who organizes the league. “We estimate that we’ve got around 580 people playing in the different leagues.”

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Mealtime makoever coming to local schools

BCHS art teacher Tiffany Armoreda paints the new lunch room mural at BCMS.Some students want Asian food, others sub sandwiches, and all of them want more pizza options. But the Baker County school district wants students to eat healthier foods, and it’s Cathy Golon’s job to see that both groups are happy.

Beginning August 20, when students return from summer break and experience the district’s revamped meals program, she’ll know if she succeeded.

Ms. Golon, the district’s nutrition services director, has been working with a Winter Springs, FL consultant, Sue Tatum of Vinca Marketing & Communications, to implement changes to the program, many of which are mandated by the federal agency responsible for funding about 70 percent of it.

They’ve revised school menus, but also how the food is presented to students, in hopes of making district-provided meals more appetizing and more nutritious. That way, Ms. Golon said, more students will participate in meal plans, which helps “keep them on campus and keep them safe.”

The effort started last spring when Ms. Tatum conducted focus groups and surveys with students at the middle and high schools to uncover their preferences. She was paid with a $4000 grant from the USDA (Department of Agriculture), the same agency that funds most the district’s food services budget.

“We wanted them to share what they wanted for the upcoming school year and we explained how the meal patterns would be changing and how best to combine those,” Ms. Golon explained this week.

For instance, she said, students on school meal plans will be required to have a specified amount of a “red-orange” vegetables, like carrots or sweet potatoes, but they prefer them as is, rather than made into something else, like sweet potato fries or carrot cake.

“We’re taking what they said to heart as we’re making the changes,” Ms. Golon said.

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Pawn shop: city ban on ‘live signs’ imperils business

Kayla Hancock waves pawn shop sign on S. 6th St. in Macclenny on July 11.When Robert Godwin retired as a guard at Florida State Prison last year he didn’t waste any time starting a new career as the owner of a new pawn shop in downtown Macclenny. In December, he and his son opened Pawnderosa in a strip center on South 6th Street.

“I retired from the state prison system after 26 years,” Mr. Godwin said this week. “This is my first business endeavor.”

He and his son, Robert Godwin Jr., pooled their talents and money to buy the space formerly occupied by Wings Galore. After extensive renovation and remodeling they opened for business the day after Christmas.

Business was slow at first, but grew gradually and really began to pick up considerably after they hired two young women about two months ago to walk up and down the sidewalk out front holding up signs advertising the business, which is set back about 100 feet from the road.

“People come in here all the time and say, ‘We seen your sign girls out there and that’s why we came in here,’” Mr. Godwin Sr. said.

Human sign bearers have become a popular method of advertising for a number of businesses, including pawn shops, cell phone companies and restaurants. Their days appear to be numbered, however, as the Macclenny City Commission is moving forward with a plan to ban such advertising next month.

A public hearing has been scheduled for 6 pm on August 14 to vote on an amendment to the city’s sign code prohibiting “human signs.” The measure was given preliminary approval on July 10.

Specifically, the prohibition would extend to persons carrying signs or dressed in costumes designed to attract attention for a commercial advertisement. Currently, signs carried by a person are permitted.

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