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Daily Archives: November 23, 2012

City preps for legal battle to buy sludge disposal property

Four months after voting to buy 114 acres off Steel Bridge Road for use as a sewage sludge disposal site, despite objections raised by nearby homeowners concerned about public health and safety, the Macclenny City Commission is gearing up for a legal battle to acquire the parcel.

The target of a possible lawsuit in the case is one of the world’s largest cellulose fiber producing firms in the world and the seventh largest owner of timberlands in the United States — Rayonier.

The Jacksonville-based international forest products manufacturer owns about 2 million acres in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Washington.

The conflict originated from a decision by the city commission in June to buy the property from Lewyn Boyette, a real estate investor who had a contract to buy the land from Rayonier through its property-management subsidiary Terra Pointe Services LLC. An article about the decision appeared in The Baker County Press on June 21.

A controversy later ensued after a letter appeared in The Press on July 5 from a woman in New Hampshire, who identified herself as having a Ph.D., stating that sewage sludge could create environmental problems and an unhealthy atmosphere for nearby families.

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Arrest for ‘fencing’ make-up at Walmart

Police arrested a Jacksonville man the evening of November 12 for attempting to obtain cash refunds at the Macclenny Walmart for merchandise that was likely stolen from either another store or a warehouse.

The arrest was similar to one several weeks ago where a Jacksonville woman was implicated in a similar scheme.

Roosevelt Day, 18, of Jacksonville was confronted at the customer service desk just before 10 pm after an employee became suspicious when he and two others attempted to get cash refunds without receipts.

Deputy Robert Simpkins said Mr. Day was the only person at the counter when he approached him, and had in his possession “a large amount” of makeup items with relatively high monetary value.

The employee said two other suspects were refunded on similar items before the deputy arrived, and one of them presented a computer monitor valued at $170 that was not carried at Walmart.

Mr. Day said he was accompanied by a male he knew only as Diquan, and that a cousin named Tina Williams of Jacksonville asked them to seek refunds after being driven to Macclenny by another subject he knew only as “Slim” who was waiting in the parking lot in a green Ford Crown Victoria.

A sweep of the parking lot turned up no such vehicle.

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Commissioners sworn into office

County commissioners (from left) James Croft, Mark Hartley and Gordon Crews are sworn into office November 20.This week the Baker County Commission welcomed back a former commissioner from the 1980s, James Croft, and wished Mr. Croft’s opponent in the Republican primary last August, Commissioner Michael Crews, a fond farewell.

As the board’s regular meeting November 19 came to a close, Commissioner Jimmy Anderson, elected two years ago, called the outgoing commissioner “an inspiration.”

“He’s all-the-time busy, all-the-time working,” said Mr. Anderson before expressing his confidence that Mr. Croft, who was in the audience, will perform well and how Michael Crews will nonetheless be missed.

Former county commissioner Alex Robinson, who lost his re-election bid in 2010 to Mr. Anderson, was present for Michael Crews’ final meeting with the board that evening.

He thanked the commissioners for continuing their service despite criticism, saying, “For all the criticism you hear, there are many more that are proud of the work  you do for Baker County.”

Mr. Robinson also challenged Mr. Croft to serve the county as his former opponent has done, and wished both men well in the future.

Michael Crews, a one-term commissioner and the head of security at Northeast Florida State Hospital, had some parting words of his own.

“The last four years have been an honor and an experience I will never forget,” he said at the end of the meeting.

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Pow wow exposes children to Native American cultures of old

Steven Buhler demonstrates the The Baker County High School History Club delivered lessons in Native American culture to classes at the PreK-Kindergarten Center the morning of November 20 by putting on a pow wow that featured teepees, music, dancing and traditional Indian garb.

Students learned how Indians lived in teepees and kept warm using animal furs, among other customs. 

The annual program has been brought to local elementary schools in previous years, too, said club advisor Mark Hartley.

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