Community Briefs 7/6/17

Clay Today
Posted 7/5/17

Children’s choir heading to RomeJACKSONVILLE – This upcoming holiday season, the Jacksonville Children’s Chorus Touring Choir will be traveling to Rome, Italy on a performance tour …

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Community Briefs 7/6/17


Children’s choir heading to Rome
JACKSONVILLE – This upcoming holiday season, the Jacksonville Children’s Chorus Touring Choir will be traveling to Rome, Italy on a performance tour highlighted by their participation at the Papal Mass celebrating the Holy Day, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on Monday, January 1, 2018 at 10 a.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
Under the direction of President and Artistic Director Darren Dailey of Fleming Island, the Touring Choir will take part in the Third Annual Youth and Young Adult Choir Festival in Rome and the Vatican. They will perform several times during the festival as well as in local churches during this tour.
Dailey said the tour has a cultural significance for Northeast Florida and he is asking the community help fund the tout.
“The JCC has been invited to participate, which is an incredible honor. As we prepare to export our artistic excellence in music to one of the world’s most important choral hubs, we are grateful to our local community –without your help, none of this would be possible. Thank you so very much for providing the support that allows Northeast Florida's young musicians to soar,” he said.
To assist the JCC in its fundraising efforts to support expenses for this important, life-changing opportunity, call the JCC Development Office at (904) 353-1636 or donate online at

County gives final approval to branding
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Clay County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved the final aspects of a branding project at its June 27 meeting. The new brand includes a new county seal and a new county logo.
Led by the Burdette Ketchum agency, the county now has a new seal that portrays the natural assets of the county, primarily the waterways, and remains true to the citizens’ passion for faith by keeping the phrase “In God We Trust” on the seal.
The seal also has the words “Clay County Florida” to help differentiate the county from other Clay counties in the U.S. and clearly defines that Clay County is in Florida. The seal will be used for official county business and correspondence.
For the first time ever, the county has a logo and tag line to use in all county promotional, marketing and communication documents. Kimberly Morgan, director of Tourism & Film Development for Clay County, said the tagline. “Small Towns. Big Passions.” Is currently undergoing a copyright search, which is why the phrase is not on the logo shown here. She said it’s best not to use the tagline until the copyright search is completed.
In a press release, she said the logo is designed to represent the passion pillars that exemplify Clay County: family, faith, country and military heritage, natural amenities and waterways, drive for the future/innovation and distinctive small towns and all they represent. The foundation is the collection of small towns and vast waterways that make up the county that are reflective in the design of the logo.
“We’re very excited to be moving forward with this new look,” said Stephanie Kopelousos, county manager. “As our community continues to thrive and attract new businesses and residents, we now have a more refined and professional image that reflects who we are.”
Burdette Ketchum was awarded the grant-funded branding and place making project and that also included research that defines the personality, values and insights into the county’s identity within a tight timeline of 90-days. In addition to the new logo and seal, the project includes a sample wayfinding sign design and a placemaking map for proposed future signage within the county.
“I was pleased to see the collaboration of our municipalities, constitutional officers and business leaders in the process of developing this new brand for the county,” said Wayne Bolla, chairman of the Board of County Commissioners. “The timing of this effort is perfect, as we continue to grow and bring new economic development opportunities and quality of life assets to the residents of Clay County. The new logo and seal represent who we are… a community of small towns that are passionate about the place we call home.”
Implementation of the new logo and seal will be a gradual process according to Kopelousos. “We have an implementation team working together to prioritize implementing our new look into what we do every day as our budget permits,” said Kopelousos.

Shutterbugs invited to take part in photo contest
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Clay County photography enthusiasts are invited to take part in the Clay County Parks and Recreation Department’s first-ever photo challenge.
The contest is being held in celebration of National Parks and Recreation Month this July and will lead up to the launch of the department’s Facebook page.
“Each Sunday in July, we will feature a sampling of Clay County’s nearly 60 parks,” said Michelle Sharp, Parks & Recreation manager. “We want residents and visitors to enjoy the outdoors and the family-friendly environments that make Clay County who we are.”
There are 30 different photo challenges including but not limited to coffee in the park, something spinning, flowers, fishing or sunlight. Every week two photos will be picked to go head to head on the county’s newly formed Instagram page. The public will then have only have 24 hours to vote for their favorite image of the two photos selected for the week. The winning image will be posted to Clay County’s Flickr page. Hashtags to use include: #stayplayclay, #dayinclayparks, #NRPAPlayChallenge, #PlayOnJuly, #LoveFL
“We are very excited about engaging the community and seeing what they enjoy about our Parks,” said Stephanie Kopelousos, county manager. “This is just another way for us know what we’re doing right and explore enhancements for the future.”
To get details on the photo contest, visit the Clay County Tourism Facebook page and to get more information on Clay County Parks and Recreations, visit

Property values increase in Clay
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Clay County Property Appraiser Roger A. Suggs submitted the Certification of Taxable Value to the Clay County taxing authorities and the Florida Department of Revenue on June 29.
The 2017 preliminary taxable value is estimated at approximately $9.9 billion – an increase of more than $636 million. The preliminary taxable value is slightly higher than the estimate reported on June 1.
The statutory assessment date for the 2017 assessment roll is January 1, 2017. Therefore, the overall increase in value is a reflection of the upward direction the real estate market experienced in 2016. Although market values have increased, the assessed values of properties with a homestead exemption will be limited or capped at a 2.10 percent increase (excluding any additions or improvements) and non-homestead residential and commercial properties will be limited or capped at a 10 percent increase due to constitutional amendments passed by voters in 1992 and 2008, respectively. Taxable value is based on the market value minus differentials or caps and exemptions.
The taxing authorities have until Aug. 4 to notify the property appraiser of their 2017 proposed maximum millage rates, and the date, time and place of their respective public budget hearings. This information will be used by the property appraiser to prepare the Notice of Proposed Property Tax forms – also referred to as Truth in Millage or TRIM notices – which will be mailed to all property owners in mid-August.
Increases in the taxable value for the various taxing authorities in Clay County include:
Board of County Commissioners: 6.85 percent; Green Cove Springs: 7.86 percent; Keystone Heights: 4.26 percent; Orange Park: 4.07 percent; Penney Farms: 5.07 percent; School Board: 6.52 percent and St. Johns River Water Management District: 6.82 percent
Certified information will be updated on the property appraiser’s website following assessment roll approval by the Department of Revenue in mid-July.

Officials watching Black Creek in wake of recent rains
MIDDLEBURG – Clay County Emergency Management, along with the National Weather Service, is closely monitoring the South Prong of Black Creek in Middleburg. With the recent consistent rainfall, the South Prong has entered minor flood stage, which caused the Weather Service to issue a flood warning for that area. Unless further significant rainfall is received today, it should crest on the lower end of the scale in minor flood stage.
“This causes no significant impacts for us currently, however if we receive any additional rainfall in the basin today, it could drastically change that crest. We encourage residents to closely monitor the creek and local media for further information,” said John Ward, director of Emergency Management for Clay County.
Ward also urges residents to register for ALERT Clay to receive emergency and weather related messages at


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