Protecting our city’s trees “We’re not large enough to have an arborist on staff,” Planning and Building Director David Birchim told the Planning and Zoning Board (PZB) at its November meeting, but board members kept alive a plan to protect the canopy of our Tree City with contract certified arborists. Birchim explained there’s been concern in using professional arborists who might also represent developers coming before the board. Staff arborists from other jurisdictions could be expensive, and they’re busy with their own areas. Marquis Lattimer + Halback is a certified arborist and under contract for city projects, Birchim noted. The landscaping firm is currently developing a template of replacement trees for preserved trees that are taken down. The board decided to let the consultant complete the list, then seek out a certified arborist when second opinions are sought on tree removal. The Planning and Zoning Board took over review of tree removal applications more than a decade ago from the Code Enforcement Board when it was decided the PZB could better negotiate with developers project siting in an effort to save trees. The city has been a national Tree City for 35 years.
November 21 2018
Florida recounts - again A manual recount in St. Johns County was completed last Saturday – one of many throughout Florida to decide tight races for US Senate and Florida Commissioner of Agriculture. Pictured are Canvassing Board’s Elections Supervisor Vicky Oakes and Attorney Ron Brown while Attorney Thomas Bell looks on. Governor Rick Scott edged out incumbent Senator Bill Nelson and Democrat Nikki Fried defeated state Rep. Matt Caldwell for agriculture commissioner. The recounts were reminiscent of Florida’s “hanging chad” recount in the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, ultimately settled in Bush's favor by a margin of 537 votes when the U.S. Supreme Court stopped a recount. Photo: St. Johns Democratic Party
Plans outlined for Loring monument The University of Florida’s Historic St. Augustine board has approved in concept several ideas to offset opposition to the monument in the park behind Governor’s House honoring Confederate General William Wing Loring. Board liaison Ed Poppell and Chair Allen Lastinger developed the outline, including • Adding interpretation to the memorial. • Adding large plaques in the park describing black military history. • Naming the park. Poppell said one name that has been considered is Francisco Menendez, who escaped slavery and was a key part of efforts to defend Spanish St. Augustine and Fort Mose. • Promoting education about black history on a TV in the Governor’s House and sharing parts of a UF documentary on St. Augustine history with organizations such as the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center. Poppell said completing all of the projects could cost $75,000 to $100,000. Poppell and Lastinger plan to return to the board in the spring with details. Loring served in the armies of the United States, the Confederacy and Egypt. He grew up in St. Augustine and joined a militia at 14 years old. His ashes are buried on the site.
53rd Annual Art & Craft Festival   The St. Augustine Art Association, with a host of community volunteers, will present its 53rd annual Art & Craft Festival Saturday and Sunday November 24-25 at Francis Field. Look for thousands of original works of fine art from paintings and pottery to handbags, jewelry, sculpture, woodworks, glass and other one-of-a- kind creations. Live music produced by the Gamble Rogers Folk Music Festival will be offered, along with cultural displays, artist demos, food trucks, and beers and wines. The two-day event benefits the programs of the St. Augustine Art Association. Saturday 10 am-5 pm, Sunday 10 am-4:30 pm. Admission $2. Find complete details  at
Book signings at Historical Society Dr. Ann Browning Masters and Dr. Tom Graham, two of St. Augustine's premier authors, will hold book signings at the Oldest House Museum Complex Saturday December 1 from 1 to 3 pm.  Dr. Masters is author of Floridanos, Menorcans, Cattle-Whip Crackers:  Poetry of St. Augustine, published by the Florida Historical Society.  Poetry from this collection has been published in anthologies and journals, recognized at the Florida Folk Festival, and recorded for the Florida State Historical Archives.  In 2015 she was knighted by the St. Augustine Easter Festival for her dedication in promoting St. Augustine’s Spanish heritage.  A St. Augustine native, she is a 12th generation Floridian. Dr. Tom Graham is professor emeritus of history at Flagler College and author of several books, including Mr. Flagler’s St. Augustine and Silent Films in St. Augustine. Light refreshments will be provided. Parking is limited. This event is free and open to the public.  Christmas Parade shaping up The St. Augustine Christmas Parade returns this year on December 1, the first Saturday in December, starting at 9 am. Organizations, businesses, community and school groups that would like to participate in the parade, and anyone interested in volunteering to help at the parade, contact Linda Abbott at 904.824.4997.
History’s highlight The REAL first Thanksgiving From the Florida Humanities Council  Does history depend on who writes it? We honor the Pilgrims on Thanksgiving. But Florida historians say that America’s REAL first feast took place more than a half century before—and was a whole different story (with different food). On September 8, 1565, Spanish Admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés landed in St. Augustine with 500 soldiers, 200 sailors, and 100 civilian farmers and craftsmen, some with wives and children. After claiming La Florida on behalf of Spanish monarch Philip II, Menéndez and his entourage celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving for the expedition’s safe arrival and then shared a meal with the native Indians. These stand as the first documented Thanksgiving events in a permanent settlement anywhere in North America north of Mexico, said Michael Gannon, an eminent Florida historian who holds the title of Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Florida. Gannon, who died in 2017, spent nearly 60 years keeping St. Augustine in the national spotlight as the United States of America’s first permanent settlement of European origins. Gannon’s research indicates that the REAL first Thanksgiving meal probably consisted of “cocido,” a stew of garbanzo beans, salted pork, and garlic, accompanied by hard sea biscuits and red wine. If the native Indians contributed food to the meal, they might have brought protein sources such as deer, gopher tortoise, shark, drum, mullet, and sea catfish, and vegetables such as maize (corn), beans, squash, nuts, fruits, and miscellaneous greens. Gannon’s findings are based on documents from the Menéndez expedition and research by archaeologists. But despite such irrefutable evidence, Gannon said it would be difficult to change American lore about this traditional holiday. “It is very difficult to get the powered-wig states north of Florida to recognize St. Augustine’s priority among American cities,” he said. “Even historians and journalists, particularly those of an Anglo-American bent, seem reluctant to accord any special stature to that dark-haired community, which was set in place one year following the death of Michelangelo and the birth of William Shakespeare.” Gannon also noted that by the time the British colonies Jamestown and Plymouth were founded, “St. Augustine, Florida, was up for urban renewal. It was a city with fort, church, market, college seminary, six- bed hospital, and 120 shops and homes.” So, as we begin this season’s preparations for a Thanksgiving feast of turkey, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, vegetables, breads and, of course, pumpkin pie—don’t forget the garbanzo beans! Image:
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A weekend of history     Candlelight tours, artillery, colonial procession Castillo de San Marcos National Monument will host special evening tours on Friday, November 30, commemorating the Siege of 1740. British General James Oglethorpe had laid siege and was poised to run the Spanish from the city. Citizens clung to the hope that the Spanish forces would strike a blow from the Castillo that would send the English invaders away.  A desperate plan was conceived to attack the British occupiers of Fort Mose. In partnership with the St. Augustine Garrison, staff and volunteers in 18th century period clothing will tell the stories of St. Augustine on the brink of its destiny. Visitors will experience the evening before the Fort Mose counterattack, and learn about life in the town during the siege under cannon fire from the British on Anastasia Island. Six 45-minute candlelit living history tours will depart from the ticket both at 6:45, 7, 7:15, 7:30, 7:45, and 8 pm. Nonrefundable tickets are available $10 per adult, $5 per child 5 to 15, and children under 5 free. Colonial Night Watch procession On Saturday December 1, the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument will be commemorating the 18th Century with a timeline of the Castillo’s Colonial military history 9:30 am - 4:30 pm.  Both Spanish & British periods will be represented in musket and artillery demonstrations and presentations of the Castillo’s 18th Century. These special events are in coordination with the St. Augustine Garrison and included with $15 General admission. Look for Naval artillery demonstrations on the Castillo Gun deck at 10:30 and 11:30 am and 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 pm. Musket and field artillery demonstrations take place on the Castillo’s outside glacis at 11 am and 1 and 4 pm. A special cannon firing at 7 pm will signal the beginning of the Grand Illumination.  Re-enactors from various time periods will march together from the Castillo along St. George Street to the Governor’s House.