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County hires fire chief

The county’s newly hired fire chief, Steve Marfongella (at right above) started this week following an introduction to county commissioners and constitutional officers on June 18.

He’s pictured with former fire chief Richard Dolan, who retired recently. Before taking the post, Mr. Marfongella was a teacher in the Lee County school district’s fire program.

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Teachers training to boost student FCAT writing scores

Scores on state FCAT writing exams have plummeted in Baker County classrooms, including sharp drops this year by eighth graders, since the state began raising proficiency standards two years ago.

Only 65 percent of the county’s 10th graders passed the test this spring, which was considerably better than the 41 percent of eighth graders, who fell 10 percent from the previous year. Fourth graders at Keller Intermediate, meanwhile, improved 3 percent but still had only 41 percent of students score proficient in writing.

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Opposite mining forces gird for a battle

Oldcastle Southern Group has been putting on a major public relations campaign to gain support for its sand mining plans in southeastern Baker County. But opponents of the proposal are working just as hard to convince county officials to kill the project.

The issue could be decided on July 16. The county commission has scheduled a hearing at 6 pm that day to consider Oldcastle’s request for a special zoning exception to allow sand mining for up to 50 years in an area zoned agriculture in the southeastern part of the county.

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Lawmakers likened to ‘rear guard’ generals

More random jottings of a troubled mind.

Stuff is constantly rattling around in my head that isn’t fully formed enough to make a full column but certainly merits mentioned because of its general oddness.

• Speaking of general oddness, let’s throw a shout in the direction of the Florida Legislature. Our lawmakers in their infinite wisdom continue to tinker with public education.

Full disclosure: I am a school teacher and have been most of my life. Being on the front lines, we foot soldiers battling ignorance have a pretty decent idea of what works and what doesn’t.

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