November 25 2020                                                                                                                               
Published by former Mayor George Gardner The Report is an independent publication serving our community Contributions are appreciated
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:
Bike Share gearing up    Bicycles roll as St. Augustine’s new mobility The city’s Bike Share Program bicycles have arrived and the program is preparing to launch early next year. It will be joining another bike-sharing system, DRIFTERS Out Post, which has established four locations around St. Augustine. The Bike Share Program includes 100 bicycles with 150 racks, with hub signage approved for more than a dozen locations and another nine locations on the drawing board. Gotcha Group of Charleston SC developed the bike sharing program which allows users to pick up a bicycle at any self-serve bike-station or hub and return it to any other bike station within the system's service area. The bicycles are called “E-assist bicycles,” says Public Works Director Reuben Franklin. “You still have to pedal the bike but there is a motor that gives you a boost as you ride.” Flagler Health + is sponsor for the program, and the Historic Architectural Review Board gave approval - complete with ‘Burma Jade color which is on the city’s approved historic colors list -  for locations at the City Marina, Lincolnville Museum, City Hall, Plaza, Hypolita Street, Visitor's Center, West King Business District, Anastasia Blvd, Lighthouse, Sevilla/Valencia Street area for Flagler College, Malaga Street, and The Amp. Future Potential Locations include the Distillery/Ice Plant, Fountain of Youth, Anastasia State Park, DOS Coffee, Gallimore Park, Nelmar Terrace Park, Uptown Business District, Fullerwood, and the Main Library. Gotcha Group says the system will allow users to register at a location or through a website or smartphone app to unlock a bike. Typical fees are $70 a year for annual membership or $8 an hour. DRIFTERS Out Post users are able to jump on a bike and visit spots throughout Historic Downtown and the beaches through the smartphone app, Movatic. Four locations include Sunday Everyday/Jenna Alexander Studio at 73 San Marco Avenue in Uptown St. Augustine, Crave at 135 King Street, BLVD Small Plates + Cocktails at 215 Anastasia Boulevard, and DRIFTERS Workshop at 645 A1A Beach Boulevard in St. Augustine Beach. Each Out Post location carries multiple 7-speed bikes designed for all sizes.
Quotable (Ref City manager reflects on year, Report Nov 18) Wow. I am truly grateful for the words of John Regan and his life-giving service to the basic human values of decency and care for our fellow citizens. I thank God Mr. Regan was willing to stay the course on behalf of our beloved city. He has bent the arc toward justice, however delayed it has been.
Rental program prompts manager position St. Augustine has never had a code enforcement manager, the position Police Chief Barry Fox is assuming as he retires after 28 years in law enforcement. But then the city has never had a Short-Term Rental (STR) program. The new program, “requires a Code Enforcement Manager who will be responsible for coordinating response efforts of STR code enforcement as well as general municipal code violations and complaints,” city officials say. City Manager John Regan says Fox’s “passion and dedication to our community’s safety and well-being will certainly be a factor in bringing our code enforcement efforts to a new level.” Says Fox, “I have built long-standing relationships with businesses city-wide, and I have always believed that the enforcement of municipal code is not the primary role of law enforcement, but we have had to work together to keep the community safe, prosperous, and orderly with the staffing and resources that we had. “Creating this program gives us a more direct, open line of communication, and a collaborative role with our stakeholders rather than authoritative police presence when addressing municipal code complaints and violations.” Assistant Police Chief Anthony Cuthbert is running day-to-day police operations until a new police chief is selected by City Manager Regan.
Academy names Public Works Outstanding Business Partner The city’s Public Works Department received the 2019-2020 Career Academy Outstanding Business Partner of the year award from St. Johns Technical High School. City Staff at the Wastewater Treatment Plant mentored students in the Academy of Coastal and Water Resources, teaching them about the maintenance, process, and unique needs of a municipal wastewater treatment facility.
Cheesecake company plans restaurant here Bar Harbor Cheesecake Company is hoping to come to St. Augustine, but that depends on detailing to the city’s Historic Architectural Review Board its plans for expanding 6 Cordova Street - that’s the former Love Tree Café and ghost tour business sandwiched between the Tolomato Cemetery and Potter’s Wax Museum. Amy Tilbury, one of 19 owners of the Bar Harbor enterprise, described to the board last week plans for decking around three sides of the building and a one- story shed roof open addition on the south side. Problem is, the board decided, the changes do not reflect the historic bungalow style. The application for a Certificate of Appropriateness was continued to the December 17 meeting “to allow the applicant to provide more detailed information on designs and materials.” Three weeks ago the Planning and Zoning Board approved a use by exception, off street parking and sale of wine for the proposed 20-seat restaurant. The Bar Harbor restaurant describes itself as offering “fine dining, cheesecake, wine, and chocolate truffles! We offer salads and appetizers all day long with our wine and cheesecake.”
Name in the news Nilsa Arissa appointed inspector general for St. Johns County, a position created by County Administrator Hunter Conrad in 2017 when he was clerk of court.  She’ll be leading efforts against fraud, waste and abuse in the clerk of court and in county administration and contracted entities associated with it. Arissa was one of 12 applicants for the job and had recommendations from Curtis Evans Jr., the most recent inspector general, and others in the clerk of court office.