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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Palm Coast Waterfront Park Dedicated

A visit to the new Waterfront Park in Palm Coast off of Colbert Lane proved to be a pleasant surprise for visitors to the dedication held there on Saturday, September 25.  This new park adds both beauty and a source of recreation to our area. 

Bike riders attending the dedication joined together to tour the route into the park beginning at the Palm Coast Community Center.  The bikers enjoyed not only a scenic ride along the Linear Park/St. Joe Walkway, as they made their way to the dedication of the Waterfront Park, but also learned about the beautiful foliage and wildlife that are part of the paths.  Many visitors also drove to the dedication area where a variety of vendors and eco-friendly activities were available for the entire family.
The park also boasts a large fishing pier, bike trails that weave in and out of wooded areas along the Intracoastal.  A Children’s Memorial Garden is located adjacent to the park to memorialize the lives of youngsters that have left us. 

In addition to the great trails for biking and walking and the fishing pier, visitors will also find a playground and picnic facilities.  The park is also equipped with a "code blue"station if an emergency arises.  This station immediately alerts the Flagler County Sheriff's Office that assistance is needed.

The City is working on a complete map of parks and trails that will be available later this year.  The map will also be available online in the future.  The map should be available in November at City Hall, Community Center and a variety of other locations in the community. 

According to Carol Bennett, Urban Forester for the City,  
"The Waterfront Park will also be a trailhead for the Graham Swamp trail that is planned for the near future.  Bikers and walkers can park at Waterfront Park continue along Colbert and then pick up the Graham Swamp Trail."

Remember that you can also access nearby Linear Park by traveling just a short distance north on Colbert. 

The Waterfront Park was funded by the Florida Inland Navigation District and the City of Palm Coast.  It is located east of Colbert Lane and south of Palm Coast Parkway, along the Intracoastal Waterway. Watch for the signs. 

For more information, please contact Carol Bennett, Urban Forester for the City of Palm Coast at 386-986-3722. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Smartphones: Android or iPhone?

"Cell phones becoming remote controls of our lives" - Greg Sandoval, Associated Press

When I read that headline a few months ago, I couldn't have helped but agree.  5 years ago, I would have told you he was crazy.  Why?  Well, there wasn't an 'app for that' just yet.  Smartphones have been around for a while now and were primarily used by professionals in business settings.  Those mobile phones took on a whole new 'life' with the development of the iPhone and Android OS phones making them more mainstream for everyone.  Today a smartphone can almost instantly find a store or restaurant close by and provide navigation, keep all of your store cards with scannable bar codes on your phone, take a picture and share it instantly, control your car through OnStar, access your DirecTV account and watch shows, and the list goes on.  It's Star Trek and the Jetsons brought to real life.  Now if we could just fold our cars up into briefcases things would really be great.  

When Apple's iPhone came out, it was truly revolutionary but it was the only one really of it's kind and on one carrier.  Even with Blackberry revamping their phones to include apps (which is the real power in the devices today) choice was slightly increased.  Then came Android phones and they are popping up with a variety of devices and on a number of carriers.  Now consumers have choice and that's always a good thing.  The question then becomes focused on which one is the best choice?  Let's take a look:

  • Pros:
    • Great design.  
    • Great lineup of apps.  Developers have flocked to this platform and Apple has strict oversight on applications offered to consumers.
  • Cons:
    • Only available on one carrier, AT&T with data plans that have limits for the user
    • Only one phone with options for various amounts of memory
    • Sealed case that does not allow for access to the battery
  • Pros:
    • Choice of phones and plans
    • Works seamlessly with Google products and services
    • Very good built-in voice controls
  • Cons:
    • Good lineup of apps but no oversight and somewhat limited compared to the Apple store
    • Not all phones can upgrade to the latest version of the Android OS.  Ask!
So what do I recommend?  I've used both OS's quite a bit and recently went with a Samsung Fascinate from Verizon.  There are several personal reasons why.  I'm a huge Google user and the Android works perfectly for me in that regard.  I personally do not like the limitations that AT&T puts on their data plans either.  Likewise, I want choice of my plan and the phone itself.  And the final part was that I want is battery access.  The batteries on these phones to say the least are horrible, and if/when better batteries come out . . . I want the option to put in a better battery.

I got use to the Apple lineup of apps, but I've been able to find Android versions of many of the apps or alternatives for my favorites.  The Twitter app for the iPhone is great whereas it is not so great on the Android.  Tweetcaster for Android was a great alternative though.  I definitely see the Android App store growing significantly with better quality apps in the long run as the Android OS becomes adopted more and more for mobile devices (i.e. phones, tablets, etc.).

What are your thoughts?  Android or iPhone?

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Enterprise Flagler seeks support for tax levy through video

    Enterprise Flagler produced a commercial to seek support for the proposed tax levy which will be on the ballot on November 2:

    Economic development and jobs continue to occupy the agenda in Palm Coast and Flagler County. With an unemployment rate of over 15% Flagler County has the second jobless rate in the state of Florida.

    Though, there had been opposition to the tax proposal by the community.

    In a previous video interview which appeared on this blog, Palm Coast resident Vince Ligouri said:
    "  Did you know that since 2002 Enterprise Flagler was given $3.4 Million.  I as a citizen say: "  What have you done with that money?  How many jobs have you created?  Did you not realize then that you needed a building?"   So I question their utilization of funds and their direction."

    In an article, Flagler Live's  Pierre Tristam wrote: 
    " It’s doubtful the initiative will pass --not because people don’t want economic development. They overwhelmingly do....But the plan was poorly conceived. It was poorly incubated as you spent three months—three very long months—preparing it for public consumption. And it is being dishonestly portrayed as a grass-roots initiative."

    What is your opinion on the proposed tax levy by Enterprise Flagler? 

    Would you take a minute and take this short survey? Results will be published in this blog in the upcoming weeks:

    Related Article -- Expert Opinion:

    Strategies to Connect People to Policy:
    Communicating Economic Development to Residents
    By: Harriet Lewis, PhD

    Related Article -- A Palm Coast Resident's Opinion:

    Vince Ligouri: "Say NO to Enterprise Flagler Tax"

    Related Article -- Enterprise Flagler's Pitch:

    Greg Rawls of Enterprise Flagler:
    "Vote Yes for Jobs"

    Related Article -- FlaglerLive's Pierre Tristam:
    Memo To Enterprise Flagler:
    Why Your Tax Plan Is Fumbling
    ( and What To Do About It)

    Sunday, September 26, 2010

    Comeback kid: Palm Coast's "Movies in the Park" returns

    When someone stole the projection equipment worth $25,000 back on July 9th, the same day Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was scheduled to be shown, Palm Coast's Movies in the Park came to a screeching halt without any information whether or not it would return.

    But after a 3 month break, now Movies in the Park returns to Palm Coast...

    Monster House will be the first movie of the fall, taking place on Friday, October 8th, at 7:30 p.m. in Central Park at Town Center.

    Admission is free for this monthly movie event.

    A different family feature is shown on the big screen in the stage area at the main entrance to the park. Concession stands are also planned for a complete outdoor movie experience.

    Friday Night Movie in Central Park will be held on the second Friday evening of each month in Central Park, located just north of Flagler Palm Coast High School on Bulldog Drive.

    Bring blankets, chairs, bug spray and plan to come early to make it your own family event and enjoy some extra special moments together.

    For more information, call the City's Parks and Recreation Department at 386-986-2323.

    ...and, let's hope the city has really secured the movie equipment this time. :)

    Flagler Beach student recognized for Missing Children drawing

    On September 13, 2010, Governor Charlie Crist joined Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Commissioner Gerald Bailey and hundreds of children, parents, educators, law enforcement personnel and public officials for the 2010 Florida Missing Children’s Day Ceremony.

    Held between the old and new capitol buildings, the annual event is an opportunity to remember Florida’s past and present missing children as well as recognize the state’s efforts in the child protection arena. Governor Crist said:
    Today’s ceremony is an important time to send prayers and support to the families of Florida’s missing children. We must remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure the safety of our young people, and work together to provide law enforcement and volunteers the necessary resources and tools needed to bring our children home safely.

    Thomas DeLeon of Old Kings Elementary School in Flagler Beach was among the recipients of the 2010 Florida Missing Children Awards.  He received the Department of Justice Poster Contest Recognition, for his drawing which artfully shows the use of a variety of investigative tools in the effort to bring missing children home safely:

    During 2009, approximately 41,154 incidents of missing children were reported missing to law enforcement agencies throughout Florida.

    Amber Alerts have aided in the rescue of 52 children, including one this year to date.

    FDLE continues to invite the public to sign up to receive e-mail alerts containing information on missing and abducted children.

    Citizens and businesses can sign up to receive Missing Child Alerts and Amber Alerts via e-mail or text message by visiting

    For more information, or to view photos of missing children, please visit or contact the FDLE Missing Endangered Persons Clearinghouse at 1-888-FL MISSING (1-888-356-4774).

    Saturday, September 25, 2010

    Pet Supermarket is coming to Palm Coast...

    Headquartered in Sunrise, FL, Pet Supermarket is adding a location in Palm Coast.

    The new Pet Supermarket location is strategically placed in the population-dense Midtown Palm Coast: Yes, "Midtown" --dig it?  Does it work as a new term referring to the West Side of Palm Coast Parkway?

    The new Pet Supermarket location takes over the entire strip mall which previously housed the Movie Gallery, the Cappiello's Italian Deli, and the Acupuncture and Pain Management by Dr. Hu (which now moved to Leanni Way). The location's address is 1040 Palm Coast Parkway.

    Pet Supermarket did not return calls as to when exactly they plan to open. However a permit for $90,000 worth of interior work was issued by the City of Palm Coast in this month (September 2010), and all exterior signs are already up, indicating that the store seems plan to open later this fall or winter.

    This is good news for the pet owners in the more mature, and pupulation-dense sections of Palm Coast. The strategic location serves W, B, L, C, and F sections as well as the Hammock's Beachside locations well, and will bring competition to the PetSmart located on the Rt. 100.

    According to American Pet Products Association, pet supplies and over-the-counter medicines as an industry is worth over $10 billion annually, and Pet Supermarket certainly positioned themselves with their new strategic location, to bring serious competition to the relatively new Palm Coast's the PetSmart.

    If you like pets and are looking for a job in the retail sector, send an email to

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Elton John to perform in Daytona Beach on November 20th

    Elton John, with special guest Leon Russell, will appear in concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, November 20, at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach as part of The Union Tour. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 25.

    With a monumental career spanning five decades, John is one of the top-selling solo artists of all time, with 35 gold and 25 platinum albums and 29 consecutive Top 40 hits. He has sold more than 250 million records worldwide and holds the record for the biggest-selling single of all-time, “Candle in the Wind ’97,” which sold 37 million copies. Since his career began in 1969, he has played almost 3,000 concerts worldwide.

    Grammy award winning Russell has performed his gospel-infused southern boogie piano rock, blues and country music for more than 50 years. He led the famous Joe Cocker’s “Mad Dogs & Englishmen” Tour and performed with George Harrison and Friends at the Concert for Bangladesh.

    John and Russell will perform a night full of hits and selections from The Union, their highly anticipated album available Oct. 19.

    Tickets are $47, $87 and $137, plus applicable service charges and handling fees, and are available at the Ocean Center box office, all Ticketmaster outlets or by phone at 800-745-3000. There is an eight-ticket limit per customer.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Flagler Beach Children will Sell Lemonade for a Good Cause

    Soles4Souls, the international shoe charity and Lemons to Aid,  a movement encouraging kids to give to others by getting involved in creative ways, have joined forces to bring shoes to other people in need with the launch of a new program called Lemon Drop.

    The program is designed specifically for children, who will sell lemonade and collect shoes at local stands.  

    Children are the future of this country and the hope of tomorrow,” said Wayne Elsey, Founder and CEO of Soles4Souls, and added:
    We are incredibly proud to be working with Lemons to Aid in setting up Lemon Drops across the country, and are hopeful that other children will follow in Natalie, Isabel, and Ava’s footsteps and learn that they can make a difference in our world. Through something as simple as a lemonade stand or a gift of shoes, the life of someone in need can be truly touched… all because a child got involved.

    Natalie, Isabel, and Ava of Flagler Beach, Florida will be hosting a Lemon Drop in their community on October 15th and 16th, at the Flagler Beach Farmer’s market from 8:30am-12:30pm.

    They will be hosting another series of Lemon Drops at the Flagler County Fairgrounds, near the concession stand on October 19th and 22nd from 5-10pm, and all day Saturday, October 23rd.

    We look forward to having our local community come join our family at the Main Squeeze, in support of a great cause,” said Elaine Vanderver Green of Main Squeeze, a mobile vendor that sells all-natural, fresh-squeezed lemonade and Italian ice.  “With the proceeds being donated to Soles4Souls, we look forward to helping Change the World One Pair at a Time® and one cup at a time!

    Community members can stop by to purchase lemonade and other refreshments, as well as “drop” their new and gently worn shoes off to be donated to Soles4Souls.  All proceeds and shoes collected at the Vanderver Green Family’s Lemon Drop will be used to supply the gift of shoes to people in need. 

    For more information on how to get involved, visit .

    About Soles4Souls®Soles4Souls is a Nashville-based charity that collects shoes from warehouses of footwear companies and the closets of people like you.  We distribute these shoes, free of charge, to people in need around the world. Since 2005, Soles4Souls has given away over 10 million pairs of new and gently worn shoes (currently distributing one pair every 7 seconds). The shoes have been distributed in 125 countries, including Haiti, Kenya, Nepal and the United States. Soles4Souls is a 501(c)(3) recognized by the IRS and donating parties are eligible for tax advantages.

    About Lemons to Aid
    Based in Dallas, Texas, Lemons to Aid is on a mission to use the simple, but memorable experience of hosting lemonade stands to instill the mindset of service and charitable giving in children at a young age.  Lemons to Aid provides the tools for families around the world to host lemonade stands and other creative programs, such as read-a-thons, bake sales, etc. to raise money for disaster relief and other basic need causes.  Since January 2010, almost twenty thousand dollars have been raised for charities across America.  LTA (Lemons to Aid) Foundation, a Texas non-profit corporation, is a fund of The Dallas Foundation. Donations to Lemons to Aid can be made through The Dallas Foundation.  The Dallas Foundation is a public charity under Section 509(a) of the Internal Revenue Code.

    Flagler County’s Paramedic Team Hosts Competition

    Flagler County’s internationally acclaimed competition Paramedic Team, is hosting a competition of its own in Flagler County.

    The competition is scheduled for the weekend of October 23 and 24 and is already creating some national interest. 17 teams from all over the U.S. shown an interest in competing in the event.

    What the teams will face during the competition is not revealed, but each team will experience an action packed 24 hours; as paramedic competitions are based on the 24 hour shift that most units serve during a normal workday.

    Flagler County formed a competition team in 2007 and they have competed some 35 times in the past three years.

    In 2008 the team placed first in a national competition in Omaha, Nebraska. That win got the team an invitation to an International competition in Prague, Czech Republic in 2009. Flagler County competed against teams from several countries and the New York City Fire Department and walked away with first place.

    The team returned to Prague this year, and placed second in the International Competition.

    Team Captain, Firefighter Paramedic Dennis Kline says: 
    Throughout our travels we have been exposed to newer and more efficient ways to accomplish our medical procedures that we do every day in Flagler County. We bring our experiences back with us and use it to train Flagler County Fire Rescue personnel as well as other departments in the county.

    The teams will be judged on their ability to complete medical procedures, decision making, driving, and an overall knowledge of emergency medicine.

    We are looking forward to bringing this competition to our county and promoting the best of what Flagler County has to offer,” Kline said.

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    Sweet & Sour: Russell Stover Candies Palm Coast.. no more.

    No more getting off I-95 for free samples

    Russell Stover's Candies has been a long time favorite stop for Flagler Beach and Palm Coast residents as well as those who are traveling north or south on I-95.  With a good location off of exit 284, one could take a break from driving for a few minutes, sample the legendary candies, buy a few boxes of chocolate or candy, or get a cone of fresh ice cream ... but no more.

    Russell Stovers Palm Coast location will close its doors permanently as of September 25th, 2010.

    My next door neighbors, both just turned 80, have been a fan.  When I asked what they thought of the fact the Russell Stover is closing, they said:
    " I guess no more candy for us...  Well not exactly true, because you find the brand at the Supermarkets now.  Though it's not the same as going there for a quick stop or meeting a friend for a little 'sweet chat' "

    Russell Stover's Palm Coast location offered an Ice Cream Parlor serving Blue Bell hand-dipped ice cream, as well as sundaes, floats and shakes; Coffee, sodas and tea, Gift baskets and boxes for special occasions; Build a Box of your favorite Russell Stover chocolates; and a full selection of Russell Stover boxed candies and chocolates, including Net Carb, Sugar Free, factory seconds, and bargains galore.

    I moved to Palm Coast in mid-2004, but haven't been aware of this store early on.  My next door neighbors introduced me to Russell Stover's Flagler County location recently.  I stopped in the last year or so a few times, and I would see few gals and gentlemen (typically on the older side), and sometimes families with children sitting down and enjoying some treats. 

    When I visited today, what became my favorites, the odd-shaped chocolate pecan bars, the factory seconds or the dark chocolate box featuring samples from Belgium, Ecuador, and Germany were nowhere to be found.  All one could see was empty shelves, with the seating area removed, and just few trays of leftover heart-shaped boxes from the last Valantines Day:

    Empty Shelves and Broken Hearts -- candy at 32 cents a box!

    Looking at the reviews on there are some sweet statements dating back to 2003:
    " My boyfriend gets me chocolate from here, and it has been good everytime. It's been a few weeks since we have gone in the store. I hope they keep it clean, I would hate to have to give up my chocolates."

    " This is a Valentine's Day heaven. They have everything you could imagine. I got friends, boyfriend and even something to send to my mom. Smells great when you walk in like coffee and chocolate. I felt like I was on vacation. "

    " I thought this was just a distribution location. I stopped in and they have a huge store with sugar free and low carb candies and a coffee shop. I found great stuff for Christmas baskets and stocking stuffers. I will be going back for sure."

    When we asked the workers in the store they said:
    " Corporate made the decision to close.  It's the economy."  

    Yes, perhaps that's true.  But it's also a little bit of the lifestyle, too.

    Workers said the store will close next Saturday (September 25, 2010), permanently.

    ...and if you are a big fan, you might want to know that the closest Russell Stover store now is in Wildwood, Florida, some 100 miles away from Flagler County...

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Flagler Volunteer Services - Can you help??

    Volunteering in your community is a great way to show your neighbors that you care.

    Here in Palm Coast and Flagler County, there are many ways to contribute your time and talent.  Most recently I contributed several hours of graphic design for the Flagler Beach Historical Museum's fundraiser, Gilli-Gala    The rewards are more than the feeling you get from helping out.  In this case, I received great exposure, learned some new collaboration skills in Adobe InDesign® and developed both personal and business relationships with other members of our community.

    Check out these ideas of needs in our community:

    Office Help Needed
    There are several agencies that are currently seeking office help 1-2 days per week.  If you can donate your time please let us know.  Current needs:
    • Flagler Volunteer Services: Volunteers must have phone and computer skills and be willing to work at least 4 hours per week.
    • Flagler Auditorium: Volunteers that can help 1-2 days per week in the office, as well as volunteers to help write press releases, grants, and assist as event coordinators.

    Fun Coast Bed Race
    Volunteers needed to help with planning and promoting of Flagler Fun Coast Bed Race, October 2, 2010.   Additional volunteers will be needed to assist with event logistics and activities.

    Volunteer Reading Mentors - "I CAN READ"
    Volunteers are needed to be reading mentors.  The mentors provide one on one reading/mentoring with students in grades K-3 and make a commitment to serve the same child/children for the entire school year.  Schools in need of assistance are:   Rymfire Elementary School & Wadsworth Elementary School.  If you are interested in learning more please call the Flagler Volunteer Services office at 597-2950 to sign up for a mandatory orientation and training session.

    Tax Prep Volunteers
    AARP would like to know if any volunteers are interested in being candidates for volunteer tax preparers candidates for the coming season.  Only real requirement is basic computer knowledge. They will train all volunteers. The preliminary training for new people will be two full days in late November and the full training program will be three days in January. Volunteers need only volunteer one day per week from February 1 through April 15, although they are always happy if you can do more. They also need a few additional non-computer people to work as facilitators and appointment takers.

    Flagler Beach Historical Museum
    If you are a history buff, or just love to talk to people, the Flagler Beach Historical Museum is the place for you. They are looking for new DOCENTS and you could help greet their guests and answer their questions about the area.

    Volunteers to sew dog beds: Second Chance Rescue
    Volunteers are needed to sew dog beds.  Second Chance Rescue will supply precut fabric or bulk and the stuffing to be sewn together. There are different size dog beds which will need to be completed by the first week in October.  The dog beds will be used as a fundraiser for their organization.

    American Red Cross - Disaster Action Team Members
    The American Red Cross needs volunteers to be trained as Disaster Action Team Members.  These volunteers will respond to home fires and other local disasters and provide assistance to clients with their most immediate needs.

    Upcoming events

    Friday/Saturday - October 1/2, 2010 -  Fun Coast Bed Race
    Flagler Volunteer Services, Kiwanis Club of Flagler County, and the Flagler Beach Rotary Club in coordination with the City of Flagler Beach will conduct the 2nd Annual Flagler Fun Coast Bed Race to Benefit Children and Youth Programs in Flagler County.  Activities begin with a preview party at 5:00 p.m. on Friday and continue Saturday with the Bed Parade at 3:00 p.m. and the Bed Race at 4:00 p.m.  You can get a team together, build a bed and decorate it according to a theme that YOU CHOOSE!  If you win the race, you take home the bragging rights for the whole year.  So wake up you sleepy head, get up, get out of bed and join us as a participant or just come out and watch the fun and excitement.   Prizes will be awarded for Beauty, Creativity, and Decorative Humor at the parade.  To you register your team or get more info, contact Jean MacAllister at 597-2950 or visit our website at .

    Friday/ Saturday - October 1/2, 2010, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m
    Giving Store Rummage Sale
    in the Cattleman’s Hall at the F.C. Fairgrounds

    This is our fall rummage sale to benefit the RSVP Giving Store.  We will have amazing treasures and trinkets for unbelievable bargain prices.  Please stop by and check out the selection.  Also if you have items you would like to donate please call the office to schedule drop off or pick up.

    Saturday, October 9, 2010 – Fishing Tournament 
    Join us as we fish the waterway from St. Augustine Inlet to the Tomoka River.  The tournament will be held at Herschel King Park, Palm Coast  There is a $50 entry per person.  Prizes will be given in the following categories:  Trout, Redfish, Flounder, and Drum.  You CAN Win Big $$$!  Proceeds will benefit the signature programs conducted by Flagler Volunteer Services.

    Thursday, October 21, 2010 -  Preventing Identity Theft
    A presentation on Preventing Identity Theft is being offered by RBC Bank to any interested volunteers.  The presentation will begin at 4:00 p.m. Location to be determined.  Please register to attend by calling our office.  You are invited to participate.

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010
    Taste of Portugal Luncheon to benefit the Giving Store

    The luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m and cost $20 to attend.  Buffet includes:  Chicken Marsala, Steak with onions, Fish filet in lemon sauce, Rice, Roasted potatoes, Mixed vegetables, Salad, Dessert and Beverage.  Gratuity is included in the cost.  There will be doorprizes and a 50/50.  Additionally, if you bring a new, unwrapped gift for the Giving Store (no food or clothing please) you will receive a raffle ticket!!

    For more information on opportunities or events, visit or call 386-597-2950

    Compiled by Christine Speno...  Christine was formerly the editor of Palm Coast Neighborhood News, and she is currently a semi-monthly columnist for the St. Augustine Record  focusing on Palm Coast and Flagler County community news. She works as a volunteer with several non-profits in our area doing graphic design. She is the founder of Words Etc Writing & Editing offering writing, editing, blogging, and graphic design services. She maintains a close relationship with Embry Riddle by offering editing services to graduate students working on their thesis and graduate research projects. She is married and has three grown daughters who all reside in Florida.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Vince Ligouri: "Say NO to Enterprise Flagler's Tax Levy Proposal"

    In July 2010, Flagler County had the second highest unemployment rate in the state of Florida at 15.6 percent unemployed.  The county is in desperate need to create opportunities that will spur job growth.

    On the November 2 ballot, there is an "economic development tax levy" proposal, championed by Enterprise Flagler; supported by the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce and Associates, the Flagler Home Builders Association (HBA), and the Flagler County Association of Realtors.

    If approved in the referendum, a new tax would be implemented in the amount of 25 cents per $1,000 of taxable property value for 10 years. It would cost the owner of a $150,000 home with a $50,000 homestead exemption, $25.00 per year.

    The tax is expected to generate about $1.8 million per year for economic development; and is proposed to be in place for 10 years.

    According to Enterprise Flagler there is a plan to spend 60% on infrastructure to prepare a site for a possible large industrial user at the county airport; 30% would go toward incentives and 10% for marketing.

    Vince Ligouri is a Palm Coast resident.  He is active in civic, political, and economy related issues.

    Mr. Ligouri spoke at last week's forum presented by the Palm Coast Civic Association.  He provided a counter perspective to the economic development referendum on the upcoming November ballot, that was put forth by Enterprise Flagler.

    Palm Coast blog contributor Harriet Lewis interviewed Mr. Ligouri on his thoughts on the upcoming referendum, as they relate to an economic development proposal made by Enterprise Flagler.

    Here is this video interview --enjoy:

    Here are select quotes from Mr. Ligouri:
    " Did you know that since 2002 Enterprise Flagler was given $3.4 Million.  I as a citizen say: "What have you done with that money?  How many jobs have you created?  Did you not realize then that you needed a building?"  So I question their utilization of funds and their direction."

    " City of Palm Coast should be against Enterprise Flagler's Economic Development tax proposal, because they will be completely disenfranchised. I did not fight for 5 years to become a city to again become dependent on County Commissioners."

    " I implore the citizens of the county to look into the facts, examine both times, and to make a decision. We do need job environment and job creation, but there is a better way to do it. "

    Related Article -- Expert Opinion:

    Strategies to Connect People to Policy:
    Communicating Economic Development to Residents
    By: Harriet Lewis, PhD

    Related Article -- Enterprise Flagler's Pitch:

    Greg Rawls of Enterprise Flagler:
    "Vote Yes for Jobs"

    Related Article -- FlaglerLive's Pierre Tristam:
    Memo To Enterprise Flagler:
    Why Your Tax Plan Is Fumbling
    ( and What To Do About It)

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Greg Rawls of Enterprise Flagler: "Vote Yes for Jobs"

    This is a guest blog post submitted by Greg Rawls, Executive Director of Enterprise Flagler.

    On November 2, 2010 Flagler County voters will have the opportunity to vote yes for future jobs and economic development in Flagler County.

    A local economic investment initiative has been approved for inclusion on November’s ballot, giving voters the opportunity to decide. For an investment of what amounts to pennies a day, the struggling community could finally see some progress in economic development.

    A successful referendum will specifically address the high unemployment rate in Flagler County and the uneven tax burden currently carried by all residents. All funds raised by this initiative will be dedicated specifically to economic development.

    Nate McLaughlin, County Commissioner Elect, says:
    Job creation was the number one issue in my campaign, and I will continue the cause once in office. Even though these are hard times for our community, it is imperative to the economic success and viability of Flagler County that we stand up and take initiative. Investing in economic development will give us the resources to even the playing field between Flagler County and competing communities. Simply, we need to get in the game of job creation, and in turn lessen the tax burden on our residential property owners, and enhance our quality of life.

    Economic development in the modern age is a highly competitive process. Communities offer incentives and ready-built sites for large employers to relocate. Although Flagler County has the employment base, it suffers in the competitive process due to its lack of a dedicated funding source that allows the area to attract desirable jobs.

    Greg Rawls, Executive Director for Enterprise Flagler says:
    Time and time again we see potential jobs go to other communities because they have sweetened the pot to a point that we simply cannot match without a dedicated funding source. We are not talking about giving away the farm, but fostering opportunities to make a business’ transition into Flagler County as seamless and fast as possible. Any future employment incentive offered will be tied to the number of quality jobs created and hired from our unemployed workforce.

    Another benefit of the economic development referendum is its potential to shift the local tax burden from the current residential tax base to a future mix of residential, commercial and industrial entities that share in the cost of maintaining the quality of life enjoyed by the citizens of Flagler County.

    County Commissioner Barbara Revels says:
    Right now 86 percent of the tax burden is on the shoulders of the Flagler County residential homeowner. We must diversify our community’s tax burden by the creation of more commercial and industrial tax payers. This will create a diversity of jobs – again improving and supporting a healthy and vibrant community. Unfortunately right now the costs of local services are borne mostly by an overburdened residential community.

    The crux of this initiative is to give Flagler County the tools larger communities have to compete for projects.

    Approximately, 80% of project leads require existing facilities. There has been little significant industrial development in the past 30 years and nothing that meets this demand,” added Rawls. “Currently, less than 1% of land use in Flagler County is dedicated to industrial use. I believe only Monroe County (Key West) has a lower usage rate.

    Charles Ericksen, a retired Palm Coast resident, says:
    I was inclined to say NO on the face of it, but after being invited to express my doubts to the committee, and learning the actual details, the more inclined I am to say YES. I urge people to get the facts before making a decision.

    The dedicated funds will be distributed after approval by the Board of the County Commissioners. Recommendations would come from a committee that has representation from all municipalities as well as private sector leaders. The funds will be allocated with at least 60% going towards capital projects, at least 30% for employment incentives, and no more than 10% for enhanced marketing of the community.

    Palm Coast's Mayor Jon Netts says:
    I consistently hear from the voters that more needs to be done about the lack of economic opportunity in our community.  Citizens need to study this initiative and decide if this investment in economic development is warranted. It is clear that some type of investment will be required to improve our situation.

    Information about the referendum is available at the newly launched website.  Supporters have also created a Facebook page and Twitter account for people to receive updates and news regarding the referendum, which can be accessed from the website.

    This is a guest blog post submitted by Greg Rawls.  He is the Executive Director of Enterprise Flagler.  Enterprise Flagler can be reached at: (386) 586-1224

    Related Article -- Expert Opinion:

    Strategies to Connect People to Policy:
    Communicating Economic Development to Residents
    By: Harriet Lewis, PhD

    Related Article -- On the Other Side:

    Palm Coast Resident Vince Ligouri says:
    "Say NO to Enterprise Flagler's Tax Levy Proposal"

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Don't Take Candy From Strangers: Staying Safe Online

    "ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten." - Robert Fulghum

    That statement above is so true in so many ways, but we often forget so much of what we learned as kindergartners especially when it comes to computers and the online world.  We all hear the stories of so and so's was stalked by a user online.  So and so had their identity stolen.  So and so posted something that ended up having repercussions in their work or personal life.  And the list goes on.  The truth is that whenever I look further into these stories I find that many times the user has to take some blame because they didn't take the necessary precautions.  Instead we like to blame the service or the technology. 

    When it comes to the online world and social networking services the best protection is to keep in mind all of those safety lessons you were taught, learned in life, and what you teach your children.  For example, if a stranger knocks on your door and you realize they are a stranger would you open the door and invite them in?  Hopefully you answered "no".  But when it comes to a 'friend request' online, many will simply accept that request just to build a quantity of 'friends' online.  By doing this keep in mind that you have just opened that proverbial door to anyone and everyone to 'come in'.  Likewise, we all teach our children 'don't take candy from strangers.', but at the same time many click any link that comes their way in an email and end up with viruses.  A malicious user (just like the stranger with candy) will make it enticing for you (i.e. win this or that, 'get the secret to . . . ', etc.) and has just offered you the proverbial 'candy'. 

    Then there is the reputation and personal embarrassment that many have suffered due to their behavior online.  A few years ago I remember reading a story about an aspiring private school student who posted on his MySpace page comments about using illegal drugs while also mentioning the school on his page.  The comments were meant as jokes.  The school got wind of it and suspended the student.  The parents obviously defended the student and used the argument of 'it's just the internet'.  Was the school in the wrong?  Absolutely not.  The actions of that student and the reflection on their reputation could be detrimental to all students.  Just the same as one wearing a company uniform or nametag and acting in an unsavory way in public.  That behavior could have repercussions to the organization and it's public image and there can be repercussions for the person.

    Staying safe is not all that difficult online and does not require all that much technical knowledge.  These are the same lessons parents need to be teaching their children as well to keep them safe and instill the foundations as they encounter these services more and more as life goes on.  Here's the basics:

    1. Lock the doors.  We all lock the doors to our homes for safety reasons.  Put a password on that wireless router.  Consult your router's instructions to do this.  Your router broadcasts that signal outside of your 4 walls and anyone can easily connect to that signal.  They don't just get access to your internet service either.  They then get access to the computers connected through that router.  
    2. Don't talk to strangers or take candy from strangers.  Just because someone requests a connection on a social service doesn't mean you have to accept it.  If I don't know the person, I won't accept the connection.  Likewise, I am always skeptical of clicking links in 'FWD' (forwarded) emails or offers that seem to good to be true.  
    3. Don't act that way in public.  Moms and Dads always tell their kids what is and what is not acceptable behavior in public.  The same things hold true online.  If I'm about business online and plaster every profile with my company information, I'm not talking about things which could easily alienate others.  My rule of thumb I follow is by asking the question, "Would I say or display this while standing in a crowded WalMart?"  This doesn't mean you shouldn't express your opinion, but maybe you need to tweak the approach.
    4. Look both ways before crossing the street.  This little action provides us with information to make the best decision whether or not to proceed across the street.  Engaging in the use of these online services should be an informed decision.  Know what the privacy settings are and where the information posts to.  
    5. Be aware of the suspicious car outside the house.  Location-based social networking services (i.e. FourSquare) are great services to highlight and help promote places or businesses you like.  But if you are one to let any request for a connection in keep in mind that you are publicizing where you are at which may lead to a malicious person now knowing you are not at home.  One couple in a recent news story were on vacation and posted pictures of their vacation on Facebook while they were away.  Their house was then been broken into while they were gone.  Come to find out it was by a connection in their 'friends list'.  They knew of the man from many years ago but had never had contact since and simply accepted the person's connection request. 
    6. Keep your wallet safe.  Using credit cards online has become common place.  Many of us also use our debit cards with that credit card logo.  I personally do not enter that credit card information into any website that I do not know is a reputable seller of something or that I normally do business with.  The common scams today are offers to 'secrets to getting hired or making loads of money online'.  They bait you with the 'secrets' part (candy) and then ask you for your money to give you the rest of the information.  Likewise, storing account information on sites where you pay bills seems convenient but make sure you feel comfortable doing that prior to leaving the information there.
    There are plenty of ways to make these connections.  The point is that the online world and the services we use are extensions of the things we already do in life.  Just because it's the internet does not make it any different. 

    What are your thoughts?

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    City of Palm Coast increases Impact Fees by 8.5%

    City of Palm Coast has announced an increase for the transportation impact fees (aka "impact fees"). Permits applied for on or after October 1, 2010 will be assessed an increase in transportation impact fees by 8.5%.

    The new fee for a Single Family detached home or a Mobile Home on an individual lot will be $3,868.39.  For multi-family homes or apartments the fee is $2,239.26.

    By statute, an increase in transportation impact fees is expected to be annually adjusted:
    Annual adjustments.  On October 1, 2005, and each October 1st thereafter, the City of Palm Coast shall adjust all transportation impact fees assessed by the City. Adjustment shall be determined by comparing the U.S. Department of Labor (USDL) Highway and Street Construction Index for March of the year of adjustment, to the USDL Highway and Street Construction Index for March of the previous year.

    What exactly is Impact Fees?
    Let's turn to who else but Wikipedia for that:
    "An impact fee is a fee that is implemented by a local government on a new or proposed development to help assist or pay for a portion of the costs that the new development may cause with public services to the new development.  They are considered to be a charge on new development to help fund and pay for the construction or needed expansion of offsite capital improvements.   These fees are usually implemented to help reduce the economic burden on local jurisdictions that are trying to deal with population growth within the area."

    Any Advice?
    Cyd Weeks, the owner of and a Flagler County Realtor® says:
    " Talk to your builder, and if you can, pay for it before October 1, 2010."

    Charles Rinek, CEO of Rinek Homes and the current President of Flagler HBA (Flagler County Home Builders Association) says:
    " The timing is unfortunate in that anything that increases the cost of building continues to discourage much needed growth in our community. 
    This limits potential increase in the overall ad valorem tax base income for the City
    Since the city has a right to adjust the impact fees every year, we hope they agree to lower the impact fees next year. "

    How about the Permit Fees?
    In 2009, Palm Coast City Council voted to reduce permitting fees by 90% with hopes to stimulate the local economy and reduce a surplus in the Building Department.  Administrative, Plan Review and Inspection fees assessed by the Building Department are currently reduced by 90%.

    The reduction in permit fees will be in place for all permits subject to these fees issued through January 1, 2012.

    Additional fees to include revisions, re-inspections, subcontractor change, contractor registration, impact fees, etc. and other departmental fees including Fire, Stormwater, Engineering, and Zoning are not eligible for the discount.

    For more information on Permits and Impact Fees, contact:
    City of Palm Coast
    Building Division
    160 Cypress Point Parkway
    Suite B-106
    Palm Coast, FL 32164
    Phone : (386) 986-3780

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    Social Means Socialize: Effective Use of Online Social Networking For Business

    Visit the Palm Coast Facebook Page
    Most of the time when it comes to online social networking and business the advice is things like "You have to be on . . ."  The key word here is 'be'.  Being is about existing, and when's the last time you heard of any business truly succeeding simply because they chose to exist.  Social networking is designed around socializing, but many businesses and professionals don't effectively use these services.  Rather they create accounts or a Facebook page and do very little if nothing with them.  The result . . . little or nothing.

    The key to understanding online social networking is to first think of it in terms of real world things we are used to.  Think of a time you went to or were invited to a social event.  You get dressed accordingly.  Probably pack up some business cards to hand out.  And you arrive.  You have one or two options here.  1) You could stand against the wall and nod to people here and there as they go by, or 2) You can get out there, introduce yourself, and truly socialize.  Which one would probably be more effective in that setting?  If you said, "Number 2" you are absolutely right!  Sorry, no prize.  But what most people do with online social networking is the first scenario.  They become the online virtual wallflowers.  The question then becomes how is this type of inactivity online effecting your brand?

    Scan me with your smartphone
    The next obvious question is how does a business or organization effectively use these online social networking tools for business?  Mostly these tools will be used for marketing purposes with any business or organization.   Seth Godin in a recent blog post summed up how to effectively market anything in a very simple way . . . "The best way to truly learn how to do marketing is to market."  Read the rest of his article and it will make more sense.  I'm constantly testing these services marketing various things on a personal level to see what works.  I look for what peaks people's interest, what gets people talking, things not to discuss or share (i.e. politics), what others are doing, and always looking to see how something could be used maybe in combination to something else as a real benefit (i.e. video, photos, etc.).  One example, is QR Codes.  If you don't know what these are, read my blog on this very interesting topic. Imagine you want to promote your business through Foursquare and offer a special discount for those that 'check in' through the service'.  Why not a  scannable QR code like the one above that automates that for visitors? 

    There are several individuals, groups, and businesses locally that are great examples of how they have embraced online social networking for business and organizations using various services like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc. in combination.  They are very active, interesting, and gaining great attention.  Here's a few:

    On Twitter:

    On Facebook

    What it is so great about all of these groups and individuals is that there is a focused use of these services, they are consistently active on the services, and they truly engage the community locally and beyond (yes, I'm a Buzz Lightyear fan). 

    Tell us how you are using online Social Networking services for your organization or business.  Tell us about your successes.

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    A common question nowadays: "Should I File For Bankruptcy?"

    This is a guest blog post by
    Donald Appignani, Attorney at Law.
    Offices Palm Coast & Boca Raton area.
    If Hamlet lived today and lived on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, would William Shakespeare change his famous line as “To file or not to file?  That is the question!

    It is not a joke: These are tough economic times, not only in Palm Coast, Flagler Beach and Flagler County overall, but for the entire state of Florida and our nation…

    According to American Bankruptcy Institute, with exception of 2005, the bankruptcy filings are at an all time high:

    Many folks in Palm Coast an Flagler Beach ask me whether or not they should consider bankruptcy. 

    In all honesty, that is an entirely personal decision, and it also depends on your particular circumstances.  For instance, some people do not have any assets over and above what the law allows them to keep. 

    Some people find it helpful to file for bankruptcy because their financial situation is causing them emotional distress or depression, or because they would like to free themselves of debt now –if legally allowed, and if they want to have their income and assets to themselves in the future.  Also, some people may find that a bankruptcy is worth filing even if they do lose some of their assets.

    If your answer is YES to some of the following scenarios, you may be a candidate to consider bankruptcy:
    • Your wages have been garnished, or your bank account has been attached. 
    • Most of your debt is unsecured; such as credit card bills, or hospital or doctor’s bills.
    • Your total debt, not including your car or house loan, is more than you could afford to pay, even over 5 or more years.
    • You are receiving frequent calls from collection agencies at home and/or at work.
    • Your payments are more than 30 days behind on more than one bill.
    • There are lawsuits pending against you.
    • You have high medical bills not covered by insurance.
    • You have few assets.
    • You have little or no savings.
    • You have had property repossessed (such as a vehicle).

    If you answered yes, to some of the questions above, filing for bankruptcy may help you with some or all of situations above.

    You should always seek the opinion of a competent bankruptcy attorney before deciding whether to file for bankruptcy. 

    There are a few good attorneys in Palm Coast and Flagler County, whose practice includes bankruptcy, debt relief, and foreclosure defense

    I’ve filed hundreds of bankruptcy petitions in Florida from Miami to Jacksonville.  In my practice, I do not charge for an initial consultation, it is always free.   So naturally, my recommendation to you is to chose an attorney who doesn’t charge for initial consultation.  Schedule an appointment and interview them to see if you and the attorney are a good match.

    Stay Positive Palm Coast and Flagler County -- I truly hope that better days are ahead for you and your family…

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    Barbara Jean's Restaurant at European Village is Closed!

    Barbara Jean's Restaurant and Bar, located at European Village in Palm Coast is closed as of the last week of August 2010.

    Barbara Jeans with its tagline "Easy Southern Dining" has gained popularity as a family run restaurant specializing in seafood and made-from-scratch, home-style cooking.  The Barbara Jean's crabcakes specially received a lot of praise, making it to the restaurant's window with a slogan like if you will try nothing else, try the crab cakes.

    The restaurant has posted a sign on its window which reads:

    No Longer in Business... 
    PLEASE continue to support the wonderful family owned and operated businesses here in the European Village. God Bless.

    The Palm Coast location at the European Village is now closed, however the chain continues with other locations in the south-east coastal locations in Florida , Georgia, and North Carolina.

    The closest Barbara Jean's location to Palm Coast is now located in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.

    Despite the closing of Barbara Jean's, European Village continues to be a premier destination for dining, nightlife, entertainment, and shopping in Palm Coast and Flagler County.

    The unique courtyard, European-design-influenced architecture and central location of the European Village provides a desired atmosphere for a Florida-style experience...

    Active restaurants and eateries in European Village include:

    Barbara Jean's has been closed as of the last week of August, with the owners announcing the closing to their regulars on facebook on September 2:

    For more information on shops and restaurants located at European Village, visit their facebook page at Shops at European Village Palm Coast.

    Sunday, September 5, 2010

    Are You In A Pickel?

    When picking nonprofit organizations, the important thing is to find the one that connects with you and your beliefs for a better world in the best way possible.

    We want to be able to see our donations are going to the people who need them the most. Some say the easiest way to do this is to just get involved yourself. But when it comes to where our money is going, everyone wants to see it help the right people for the right reasons. How often do we stop gawking at the television reports and write a check to really make a difference?

    With the world in such need of nurturing, how do we determine who needs the help the most? An even better question is: When did you need the most help? You got it. You needed it the most when you weren't always able to ask for it - when you were a baby. One of the key elements to building a better world is giving support right from the beginning of life.

    Lucky for us, there is a way to build a stronger world and family unit right in our community. Baby Pickel is dedicated to helping single mothers and families in Palm Coast, surrounding areas, and the world.

    They have found single motherhood makes up 80% of single family households. Additionally, their research indicates 12,905,000 single families exist in the United States alone and 10,404,000 are headed by women. If we want to become a strong society, we have to help make the people raising the future generations stronger.

    Pickel Clothing started off supporting and sponsoring local bands. You could see your favorite local musician sporting Pickel t-shirts on stage, in school, and around town. I still have a giant Pickel sticker on the drawers to my desk in my room from a show. But the folks at Pickel wanted something more. They wanted to give back.

    Baby Pickel was born. It is run on the belief God has given them the purpose to provide for families in need and to always give more than you receive. I was able to catch up with the whole team over coffee to ask them a few questions about their nonprofit and what they provide.

    Check out the interview below:

    Nicholas and Vincenzo Desroches
    Founders of Pickel Clothing
    Q: How did the baby department of Pickel get started?

    BP: We started off designing baby clothing lines for high end hotels. Things like baby bathrobes, pajamas, and we just wanted to give back to the community and be able to provide what we were designing to the people who really needed the help.

    Q: One of the things featured on the website is the Pickel Jar. What is inside?

    BP: Baby Pickel is working hard every day to not only supply the most adorable and affordable baby shower gifts, but also packing each baby jar with love, prayer, and accessories. Striving to always give more than we are asking and giving back to each community by sparking the spirit of servanthood in all of us. Right now there is a bib, washcloth, onesie, and pacifier in every jar. Donating the baby jar is only 10 dollars.

    Q: Tell me about your partnership with the Alpha Pregnancy Center of Palm Coast.

    BP: The partnership was our first big step to networking with other nonprofits of similar interests. Part of our donations go to Alpha to help with their services and they help us not only get our products to the people in need but help with donating from person to person. We are also going to be working with Our Children First of Daytona to expand our reach.

    Q: What are your longterm goals?

    BP: We are working on making the baby jar customizable on the website. We want people to be able to pick from a variety of products to be packed inside. The jar will become built of of what is requested instead of a standard, eventually turning the website into a type of donation store.

    Q: How can others get involved?

    BP: We are always looking for help. Donations are not restricted to just the baby jar or giving money. We will deliver anything from clothes to baby cribs to the people who need it. Baby Pickel is made up of people of similar interests, and we will accept any help that is given.

    Q: Any advice for other local nonprofits?

    BP: Don't allow friends and family to affect what you want to achieve. Always give more than you ask for and you will be guaranteed success.

    If you wanted to get involved, Baby Pickel will be hitting the streets advertising their Mommy Day Giveaway. The contest runs through September 1st to the 15th.

    All you have to do is friend request Pickel Palm Coast on Facebook and comment "I Love Baby Pickel!" and you will be entered to win a $50 Luxury Spa Service from Styles Salon in Palm Coast. It includes a facial, pedicure, manicure, and haircut. Winner is selected at random and announced the morning of the 16th.

    Connect with Baby Pickel:

    Sponsored by: