August 24 2019
Hispanic Culture Film Festival St. Augustine’s first Hispanic Culture Film Festival is planned for October 3-6. The film festival will showcase some 70 current independent short films, documentaries and full-length movies as well as remastered classic Spanish films, and art exhibits, dance and musical performances. “This really fits in with the concept of connecting the oldest Spanish-occupied city of the U.S. with its Hispanic origins,” says festival director Eugenio Maslowski. Many of the events will be held at the Corazon Cinema & Cafe on Granada Street, where plans were announced this week. The festival was awarded $25,850 in annual arts, heritage and culture grant funding through the county’s Tourism and Cultural Development office. Visit
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History’s Highlight Isaac Barrett  Account reported by First Coast News Gayle Phillips and Mary Cobb, along with a few others, have worked to unravel the story behind this hanging of Isaac Barrett. He was a tenant farmer for the Hewson family with two young children and a girl of eighteen named Maggie. "His initial story was that he went to the aid of the family who was in distress and had been beaten and bloodied by some unknown assailant," Phillips said. She said the sheriff arrived and found Barrett with the beaten landowners, and the sheriff ended up arresting Barrett. "On the way to the jail, a mob of masked men stole him away from the sheriff and took him to the river and hung him from a tree," Phillips said - a tree on some land that researchers believe is close to the public park by the Old Shands Bridge Pier. "The nearby African American people were very upset with what happened because he was a hard worker and they thought the way it was done was very brutal," Cobb said. According to the Equal Justice Initiative, Barrett's is one of 313 reported lynchings in Florida; there could be more that weren't reported. The organization opened a museum in April 2018. It's a memorial to the more than 4,000 people who were lynched in the U.S. from 1877 to 1950. "A lynching is a public killing," Phillips noted. "It doesn't have to be by hanging. People were shot, burned, mutilated. It was usually done in a public way to create a sense of fear." We don't know how old Barrett was and we certainly don't know if he was even guilty of the crime. "The lynch mob became his judge and jury," Phillips said. She and her colleagues applied to St. Johns County for a marker at the park by the Old Shands Bridge Pier “so that people will know what happened close to that spot. "For the most part, people don't want to tell about this part of American history, but it is as much a part of our history as any," Phillips said.  Photo: Temporary marker on Shands Pier Road
Plaza historic marker sought for victim of 1897 lynching The City Commission Monday will hear a request to place “a historic marker in the plaza regarding the lynching of Isaac Barrett.”  The regular commission meeting begins at 5 pm in the Alcazar Room at City Hall and is live streamed on CoSA.TV. Gayle Phillips, Lincolnville Museum Director and member of the Community Remembrance Committee, will make the presentation. Phillips states in her marker placement application it “fills the historical gap between the civil war and civil rights movement. “Although Isaac Barrett was hanged near the St. Johns River, all newspaper datelines from June 1897 read St. Augustine, FL. This marker can be used as a teaching tool on this dark period of our history with the intent to bring about greater understanding of past racial terrorism and promote greater diversity and equity of all people in our community. “It is not meant to divide, but to promote unity through education on why we should avoid returning to ideals of a segregated society.” Barrett was lynched June 5 1897 in Orangedale, the only reported lynching in St. Johns County. Barrett worked for the Hewson family and allegedly attempted to murder the family and assault the daughter. “While officers were transporting Mr. Barrett to the local magistrate, a mob of twelve armed, masked white men abducted him in the Orangedale area and hanged him from an oak tree along the riverbank in a nearby wooded area,” according to a Community Remembrance Committee media release. A county marker, placed on Shands Pier Road in St. Johns just off State Road 13, was stolen before its unveiling ceremony last year. The ceremony went on with a temporary marker, Phillips saying at that event, “We shall not be moved, our stories will be told, our dialogue will continue, our reconciliation and healing will prevail.”
Wedding House  is ‘remediated’ A second Mediated Settlement for the “Wedding House” - Sanchez House at 7 Bridge Street, goes before the City Commission Monday for approval. At issue were late wedding parties on the property, flanked by the Bayfront Marin House and Bayfront Inn. Owner Blake Deal III negotiated a settlement with the city in 2016 after complaints by neighbors. Earlier this year neighboring B&B owners Sandy and Mike Wieber, who are under contract to purchase the property, tried for planned unit development (PUD) zoning to eliminate loud wedding parties up to 11 pm under Deal’s ownership. “I’d rather have ten weddings that end at 8 o’clock than one that ends at 11,” Wieber argued before the city Planning and Zoning Board and City Commission on appeal. Among elements in the mediated agreement: Same day weddings at more than one venue will not be allowed, Weddings are limited to 48 a year with a limit of 60 guests, Weddings at the Sanchez House will be concluded by 8 pm with guests out of the House by 9 pm, The Sanchez House will be open twice a year for tours by the city historic preservation officer, four times a year for the Historic Society, and one day during the Christmas Tour of Historic Inns.
King Street standards update on agenda City commissioners Monday will consider an update to the King Street Design Standards, part of the updates of guidelines for the city’s three entry corridors - King Street, San Marco Avenue and Anastasia Boulevard. Planning and Building Director David Birchim says the update included data collection, an assessment of the character of the private properties on King Street, an analysis of the development patterns of these properties and an analysis of the zoning code, landscaping code and architecture related to the area. The update also extends the King Street Design Standards to include properties on West King Street from Palmer Street to the western boundary of the city limits.   Police for city schools A resolution before the commission Monday “Authorizes the City Manager to execute necessary agreements between the City and the School Board of St. Johns County to share the cost of two police officers while schools are in regular session.” RB Hunt and Ketterlinus elementary schools will have the officers as schools across the nation look to protecting children from assaults. Easements for drainage work A resolution before the commission Monday will provide easements to the State of Florida Department of Transportation along King Street for a storm drainage project along King Street, from Riberia Street to the Bayfront. The project includes installation of a new storm drainpipe to improve storm runoff along the King Street corridor. The project is scheduled to let for construction in September 2022 and take approximately 30 months to complete. Ordinances on charter, waivers, outdoor seating Ordinances in public hearing and final action at Monday’s City Commission meeting include City Charter updates on gender neutral terminology, procedure for street vacations and personnel bonuses. Ordinances on first reading include waiver procedures “to prevent the same applicant from coming before the board multiple times after being denied,” and an update to the Outdoor Cafes on Aviles Street and on Artillery Lane ordinance to provide for outdoor seating at retail shops.
Cities are banned from plastics bans City Attorney Isabelle Lopez Monday will brief commissioners on recent actions blocking cities from banning plastic bags and other containers. “The 3rd District Court of Appeals case of Florida Retail Federation v. City of Coral Gables on August 14 reversed the trial court, holding the express preemption (in state statute) valid,” she says. “Additionally, House Bill 829 was passed last session, which provides mandatory attorney fees if a local government passes an ordinance that is expressly preempted by state law. Therefore, the City would face significant legal exposure if it were to ban plastic bags or other containers covered by this statute.”
Realtors on rental study The Board of Realtors had commissioned a White Paper Report about short term/vacation rentals from the National Association of Realtors.  An extensive report was provided to the Commissioners which had both pro and con and a compilation of case law and remedial solutions.     Dirk Schroeder Century 21 St Augustine Properties