Community Briefs 122117

Posted 12/27/17

Apply for 2018 DAR scholarshipORANGE PARK – Students who will be graduating in the spring of 2018 are encouraged to apply for a $1,000 Sophia Fleming Scholarship, sponsored by Sophia Fleming …

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Community Briefs 122117


Apply for 2018 DAR scholarship

ORANGE PARK – Students who will be graduating in the spring of 2018 are encouraged to apply for a $1,000 Sophia Fleming Scholarship, sponsored by Sophia Fleming Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the America Revolution.

Applicants must be graduating from either the Clay County Public School System, St. Johns Country Day School, or are home schooled. Students are eligible if they are going to attend any post-secondary program of study, including colleges, universities, or

Vocational or technical schools. No GPA information is required.

Applicants are requested to write an essay, provide a list of their awards and recognitions and two letters of recommendation. Scholarship applications are due on or before February 23, 2018.

The scholarship documents will be provided to each public high school guidance office in Clay County and St. Johns Country Day School as of January 4, 2018. The instruction sheet and application form provide all of the information a student needs to apply. Forms are also available by clicking on Sophia Fleming Scholarship at

The winner will be notified the week of March 27, 2018. Please do not mail applications via certified or registered mail. Each applicant will be notified once his or her application has been received.

Mail the application documents to: Lynda Lewis, Chairman, Sophia Fleming Scholarship Committee, Sophia Fleming Chapter, NSDAR, 316 Scenic Point Lane, Fleming Island, FL 32003.

USDA commits $10 million to innovative conservation projects

GAINESVILLE – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is making $10 million available for new Conservation Innovation Grants nationwide. Grant proposals are due Feb. 26, 2018.

This year funding focuses on three areas: Grazing Lands, Organic Agriculture Systems and Soil Health.

Grazing Lands involves programs that help livestock producers make grazing management decisions, encouraging prescribed burning as a grazing management practice, and improving access to conservation planning tools used for developing grazing management plans.

Organic Agriculture Systems involves programs that help organic producers develop innovative cropping and tillage systems, edge-of-field monitoring, crop rotations and intercropping systems.

Soil Health programs support both cropping and grazing systems, in a variety of climatic zones, that incorporate soil health management systems for addressing specific resource concerns like nutrients and availability. Evaluating multiple soil health assessment methods to assist in the development of new soil health indicators and thresholds.

The announcement for program funding, application materials and submission procedures can be found on All U.S.-based entities and individuals are invited to apply, with the sole exception of federal agencies. Up to 20 percent of CIG funds will be set aside for proposals from historically underserved producers, veteran farmers or ranchers or groups serving these customers.

NRCS is hosting a webinar for potential CIG applicants on Jan. 11, 2018, at 4 p.m. Eastern. Information on how to join the webinar can be found on the NRCS CIG webpage.

CIG is authorized and funded under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Projects can last up to three years. The maximum award amount for any project this year is $2 million.

#904SecretSanta hits tri-county area again this year

JACKSONVILLE – #904Secret Santa, the brainchild of two anonymous philanthropists, returned for the third year on Dec. 13 as local law enforcement gave out $50,000 worth of gift cards in one day to unsuspecting citizens in Duval, Clay and St. Johns counties.

Acting on behalf of the donors, the officers made 500 recipients very happy with much-appreciated holiday spending money in the form of $100 VISA gift cards.

“We are delighted to be able to provide another year of surprise and delight with #904Secret Santa,” the donors commented when asked about their repeated generosity. “We have been so moved not only by recipients’ pleasure, but by the joy that the law enforcement officers have expressed in being able to play this role in our community.”

As in past years, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office distributed 300 of the gift cards, and Clay and St. Johns County’s Sheriff’s offices each distributed 100 gift cards. Area officers and deputies were provided this guidance as they began their ‘Secret Santa’ duties: ‘Based on your experience in the community or with someone you may encounter today, you are asked to distribute these cards to individuals who you feel may benefit from a gift like this at this time of year.’

#904SecretSanta started in 2015, when two donors approached The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida through their professional advisor, and a Donor Advised fund was established at The Community Foundation to carry out their wishes. Since beginning the effort in 2015, this pair of donors has distributed $150,000 across three counties at the holidays.

TD Bank handles the transfer of the donors’ $50,000 gift into 500 preapproved VISA gift cards for distribution. The TD Charitable Foundation generously absorbs the fee normally associated with purchasing gift cards so that the full value of the donors’ gift could go directly to the recipients.

Drake appointed chair of international education committee

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The International Association of Assessing Officers appointed Assistant Property Appraiser Tracy S. Drake to serve as chairperson of its education committee.

The IAAO is headquartered in Kansas City and is a nonprofit, educational association with approximately 8,000 members whose mission is to provide innovation and excellence in property appraisal, property tax policy and administration through professional development, education, research, and technical assistance. The committee’s purpose is to support this mission. IAAO members subscribe to a Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct and the Uniform Standard of Professional Appraisal Practice.

Drake has been a member of IAAO for many years and has served on various IAAO committees since 2013, including chairperson of the Profession Designation Subcommittee in 2016 and 2017. He holds three designations through the IAAO: the Certified Assessment Evaluator, Residential Evaluation Specialist and the Assessment Administration Specialist. In 2016, Drake was honored with the IAAO Member of the Year Award. He is also the current President of the Florida Chapter of IAAO.

Assistance available for Irma-damaged ag land

WASHINTON, D.C. – The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has established a special Environmental Quality Incentives Program sign up Nov. 28 through Dec. 28 to help agricultural producers in declared disaster counties who suffered damage from Hurricane Irma.

Conservation practices available through this EQIP funding specifically address natural resource concerns caused by the hurricane such as flood and wind damage and provide future protection from exceptional storm events.

Declared disaster counties and eligible under this sign up include: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, DeSoto, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sumter, Suwannee, Union, Volusia.

Farmers and ranchers seeking NRCS financial and technical assistance can sign up for EQIP at their local NRCS field office.

‘Longest Night’ service at Advent Lutheran Church

ORANGE PARK – The Christmas season is not always a joyous time for everyone. Facing the first Christmas following the death of a loved one, separation or divorce, loss of employment, empty nest, health issues, etc. can be very difficult.

This worship opportunity allows guests to be open to the working of the Holy Spirit to offer healing and hope to those who have feelings of sadness, loss or brokenness. The Stephen Ministers of Advent Lutheran Church and Pastor Jerry Nordsiek invite everyone to join them on Dec. 21 for a meal at 6 p.m. followed by an inspiring worship service at 7 p.m.

Transportation will be provided if needed. Please call (904)272-6370. Invite family and friends who may be struggling with finding joy in this holy season and join us for this moving and powerful service. The church is located at 2156 Loch Rane Blvd.

Advent Lutheran is also offering multiple worship opportunities for Christmas Eve with services at 3, 6, 8:30 and 11 p.m. featuring carols, candlelight and communion.

We will welcome the Christ Child with festive Christmas Eve Worship on December 24th with four services. The 3 p.m. service is designed for those who do not wish to drive at night and those who may have other Christmas Eve plans. The 3 & 6 p.m. services will feature the Worship Team from the church’s contemporary worship providing the music along with a special children’s message. The 8:30 and 11:00 p.m. services will feature traditional organ and many other instruments. All four services will be preceded by 20 minutes of pre-service music and will include your favorite Christmas Carols, Holy Communion and a Candlelight Celebration. Invite family, friends, and neighbors and join us on this most special night.


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