Community Briefs 051817

Clay Today
Posted 5/18/17

Register now for swim lessonsKEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1 to 4 years old and is the second leading cause of death for children from 5 to 14 years …

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Community Briefs 051817


Register now for swim lessons
KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1 to 4 years old and is the second leading cause of death for children from 5 to 14 years old. Teaching children how to swim and be safe around water is one of the most important life skills parents can help their kids learn.
To kick off the summer safely, the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast’s Camp Immokalee, 6765 Immokalee Rd. in Keystone Heights is now offering community swim lessons for children ages 3 to 12. Starting from June 19 to July 28, classes will be held from 9:25-10:25 a.m. each morning.
After swim tests every Monday morning, each child will be placed in a swim group to attend lessons on either Tuesdays and Thursdays or Wednesdays and Fridays. Participants should arrive 10 minutes early to Monday’s class to complete paperwork.
Classes are $10 per lesson with minimum commitment of six lessons.
Contact the camp office at (352) 473-4213 of online at for more information and to register. Registrations will close on June 9.

FWC officers catch poachers in Lawtey

LAWTEY, Fla. – One poaching ring plus two large bucks on a game farm led to major poaching violations for those involved.
During an investigation that began in November, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers worked the case through social media and phone data search warrants, along with interviews of the suspects.
FWC Officer Bret Gill received a complaint about shots being fired in the deer pen on Shadd Farms in Lake Butler, and another anonymous tip led FWC Reserve Capt. David Lee to online information showing the suspects bragging about killing a big buck.
Aaron Griffis, 24, and Taylor Wise, 23 have been charged with multiple violations, including grand theft of livestock.
According to FWC Investigator Todd Hoyle, Wise posted several pictures of the poaching incident to his Snapchat social media account. In an interview, Wise admitted shooting an 11-point buck out of Shadd Farms’ deer pen while riding in a vehicle with his child and Griffis. He also explained that after dropping his son off with a friend, he and Griffis drove back to the pen, where they cut the fence and dragged out the deer. They then returned to Lawtey to clean the deer.
The investigation also revealed that Griffis entered Shadd’s deer pen another night.
“After exercising a search warrant issued by the state attorney’s office on Griffis’ social media private messages, we found videos that he posted of himself walking through the woods, shining a light and shooting at a deer,” said FWC Lt. Clay Huff. “There were comments accompanying the video, stating it was a 15-point deer at which he was shooting. Mr. Shadd advised that he had found a 15-point buck dead in his pen.”
Based on the evidence, Wise was charged with trespass by projectile, grand theft of livestock, conspiracy to commit grand theft, breaking or injuring fences containing animals, child neglect without harm, taking deer at night and discharging a firearm discharge from a public road.
Griffis has been charged with trespassing while armed, grand theft of livestock, conspiracy to commit grand theft, breaking or injuring fences containing animals, taking deer at night, possession of a firearm by a felon and trespassing.
Charges were direct filed with the Union County State Attorney’s Office.
“Mr. Shadd appreciated the work that was done and has given a reward to the person who supplied the anonymous tip about the suspects,” Huff said.
In addition to the reward given by Shadd, the person who reported the poaching incident also received an undisclosed reward from FWC’s Wildlife Alert Program.
If you suspect a fish, wildlife, boating or environmental law violation, you can call the Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-3922 or text to Violations can also be reported online at by clicking on “Report Online.”
You can report violations anonymously and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

Memorial Day at Russell Haven of Rest
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Russell Haven of Rest Cemetery and Funeral Home invites the community to its 2017 Memorial Day Ceremony on May 29 at 10 a.m. at 2315 Sandridge Rd.
Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Creech is the featured speaker for the occasion and there will be patriotic music presented by Jonathan Lamm and a display of refurbished military vehicles supplied by the Military Museum of North Florida. The Vietnam Vets and Legacy Vets Motorcycle Clubs will also participate.
Please call (904) 284-7720 for questions or directions.

Ceremony to “fallen in the line of duty”
FLEMING ISLAND – Clay County military members who have “Fallen in the Line of Duty” will be honored in a ceremony on May 26 at 11:30 a.m. at 1845 Town Center Blvd. The community is welcome to attend.
Clay County’s Memorial Plaza is a memorial park created to honor local police, fire and rescue, and military personnel who died while serving in the line of duty. Held each year on the Friday before Memorial Day, the ceremony provides the community an opportunity to gather in remembrance of those brave men and women.
Master of ceremonies will be Bill Garrison, executive director of Clay County Economic Development Corp. Members of the Fleming Island High School’s JROTC Honor Guard will present the colors under the command of 1st Sgt. Thomas Lewnes. Special guest speaker will be Marc Ballgae, retired USAF Master Sergeant and co-founder of Aviation Recruiting. Heritage Guide’s Parade of Flags will be on display for the entire weekend. Light refreshments will be provided.
Clay County’s “Fallen In the Line of Duty” Memorial Plaza sits just off the roadside in front of Fleming Island Business Park, near schools, the library, and businesses. It can be visited 24/7 and is lighted for night visiting. The monument is in a semicircular pattern of marble, flanked by shrubs and palms, and sits in front of a pond with a beautiful fountain, offering a peaceful place for quiet reflection.

Holiday garbage pickup

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – On Monday, May 29, Memorial Day, Advanced Disposal Services will collect wastes and recyclables using its normal schedule. Residents are reminded to place materials at the curb before 6 a.m. on their designated pickup day.
The Rosemary Hill Solid Waste Management Facility will open at the regularly scheduled time of 7:30 a.m. and will close at 5:30 p.m.

Concert to benefit Clay Behavioral Health
ORANGE PARK – The Heritage Singers of Jacksonville are presenting a free concert on May 19 at 7 p.m. in The Moosehaven Auditorium, 1701 Park Ave. in Orange Park.
Under the artistic direction of Michael Dell, The Heritage Singers’ present “A Choral Kaleidoscope of Color,” which consists of fun, feel good and motivating tunes – some old favorites, as well as some newer material.
The concert is free but donations will be accepted. All proceeds go to benefit the children, adults and families served by Clay Behavioral Health Center.
For more information, call (904) 434-4625 or online at

Teen Diversity Leadership Program accepting applications

JACKSONVILLE – The OneJax Institute at the University of North Florida is now accepting applications from teens entering grades 10 through 12 to participate in its Metrotown Institute, a four-day program that promotes respect and understanding across the differences of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status and ability. The Institute will take place 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, June 12, to Wednesday, June 14, and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 15, at Riverside Presbyterian Church, 849 Park St.
“Metrotown is truly a transformative experience for students who complete the program—it opens their eyes and changes the way they see the world,” said Nancy Broner, OneJax executive director. “The teens deal directly with prejudice and discrimination and while they’re learning about people who are different, they’re learning a lot about themselves.”
The Metrotown Institute brings together high school students to explore living successfully in an increasingly diverse and interdependent world. Participants will share ideas and feelings, discover their own unique talents, and experience a variety of perspectives on diversity issues, multicultural communications, religious traditions, gender roles and self-esteem, while earning 35 community service hours for their involvement. There will be small group discussions and workshops, creative and artistic activities, outdoor experiences and personal reflection.
Students must be referred to the program or endorsed by a sponsor, such as a parent, teacher, counselor, clergy or community leader. Anyone interested in referring a student should contact OneJax at (904) 620-1529. Students will be required to complete an application to be considered. Applications and additional information can be obtained at
The program is designed for 50 students, who will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. The registration fee is $150, which includes daily lunch and snacks as well as dinner on the final night. Sponsors are encouraged to help students raise money to cover the registration fee, although no one will be prevented from participating due to an inability to pay.
Metrotown is supported by the United Way of Northeast Florida and UNF. As an interfaith organization, the OneJax Institute at UNF educates, advocates and builds community to promote respect and understanding that will overcome bias, bigotry and oppression.

Summer Reading Programs to being at the Melrose Public Library
MELROSE – Join the Melrose Public Library on June 3 at 10:30 a.m. for Professor Mullet’s Butterfly Adventure as part of the 2017 Summer Reading Kick-Off festivities.
Professor Mullet and his Butterfly Friend have been taking their show on the road for 3 years - after carrying on the performance from a group who originally invented and performed the show for 20 years prior. True local talent, these butterfly experts invite children into the exciting life of Professor Mullet and his beautiful winged friends. The program teaches children about the life cycle of the butterfly in a wacky, interactive show.
Families will receive special refreshments and library Summer Reading goody bags to take home to kick-off their summer reading for 2017.
RSVPs are preferred as the program is expected to fill up quickly and will start on time. The program is for school-age children and runs for about an hour. For more information, contact the Melrose Public Library at (352) 475-1237. The Melrose Library Association is sponsoring this special event.


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