For the 10th annual Datil Pepper Fall Festival, kicking off today from 9 .m. to 4 p.m. at the county ag center, 3125 Agricultural Dr. It’s a cornucopia of fiery dishes prepared by some of the county’s finest restaurants. Taste tickets are $1 and go on sale at 11 a.m. It’s great family fun. What else have you planned for today?


For the opening of the new Maritime Archaeology and Education Center on the grounds of the St. Augustine Lighthouse. The new research lab and museum adds a full-scale research center to the existing property. The waters off St. Augustine are particularly rich in shipwrecks. The center hopes be a place for children to learn the colorful history here. The $2.5 million project took about a year to complete with the help of state and local grants and private funding from individuals and foundations.


“Between the winds and the energy of the waves, a lot of sand left the system. … In some cases, the egg chambers got too much water (in Irma) or were buried under too much sand and cemented, so the hatchlings can’t get out.

Tara Dodson, an environmental supervisor for St. Johns County, speaking of the effects Hurricane Irma and two particularly strong Northeast storms have had on the county’s turtle season. The storms and high tides have had either the effect of washing turtles eggs out of nests, of trapping hatchlings in the nests.

“There is a crisis in Puerto Rico where food, fuel, water and medicine is sitting at the docks and not getting out to the remote parts of the island. … The situation calls for an immediate response by the U.S. military to provide security and distribution to these remote areas. As was said after Hurricane Andrew: ‘Where the hell is the cavalry?’”

Sen. Bill Nelson, speaking in a wire story Monday about the probable influx of thousands of Puerto Rican refugees from the destruction of their homeland to Florida.

“Our financial situation is perilous at the moment, but it will improve.”

St. Augustine City Commissioner Gary Snodgrass, speaking in a story about the city adopting a flat millage rate while increasing salaries for city workers. The city’s reserves stand at $195,022. According to CFO Melissa Burns, that number should be $1.1 million.

“The pulse I have is there are mixed feelings concerning the dissolution of the town. … In my conversations with folks around town, I see that a lot of people want change. They want to see the community grow and their utilities come down. They also want to see more businesses in the community. … On the other hand, I think there are those who are concerned about too much growth and what it might mean if the county comes in. They’re also worried about future taxation. Will those with less income be able to maintain their property values?”

Thomas Cave, pastor of The Lord’s Temple, speaking in a story about the Town of Hastings’ upcoming referendum on whether or not to merge all services with S. Johns County and dissolve it municipal identity and responsibilities.

“We hear about growing too fast. Well, this is what happens when you don’t.”

St. Johns County Administrator Mike Wanchick, speaking of the possible dissolution of the Town of Hastings.

The federal flood insurance program “is not designed to handle catastrophic losses like Harvey, Irma and Maria. The NFIP is simply not sustainable in its current form.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, speaking to Congress Wednesday.

I would say it’s fair to say that we’re pretty stressed out. … I think everyone has been very respectful for what we were up against, but so far things are moving along as well as can be expected.”

Howard White, the county’s director of building services, speaking in a story about the overwhelming requests for building permits following Hurricane Irma.

“There was no intent to move the sand. There was no intent not to move the sand.”

Beach property owner James Grimes who was a party to an apparent bulldozing of a sand due next to his property located at 1 12th Lane. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is investigating. Case manager Christina Sellers said, “There will be a fine. I just don’t know how much.”

“Hats off to Mt. Olive for an immediate distribution of cleaning supplies, followed by a major distribution of bulk animal feeds and farm tools to those in need. They also offered the contents of their thrift shop to residents of Flagler Estates. … First Baptist of Hastings provided an early food distribution and headquarters for the hundreds of volunteers who came into the area to provide manpower for debris removal and emergency repairs.”

An excerpt rom Hastings community columnist Nancy Quatro, speaking of the assistance both given and received in Hurricane Irma’s wake.