Monday, February 20, 2017

Franklin County Restore Advisory Committee (RAC) Meets Tomorrow

The Franklin County Restore Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet at 5:00 P.M. EDT, Tuesday, February 21, 2017, inside the Franklin County Board of County Commissioners meeting room at 34 Forbes Street in Apalachicola.The meeting agenda can be viewed by clicking the link below:

Smokeless Tobacco Use Remains a Problem

Department of Health-Franklin, Tobacco Free Franklin Partnership and Tobacco Free Florida are raising awareness during "Through with Chew Week"

Apalachicola, FL - Department of Health-Franklin, Tobacco Free Franklin Partnership and the Florida Department of Health's Tobacco Free Florida program are raising awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco - like chew and dip - during Through With Chew Week. This national public awareness campaign was created to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco among young people, and Tobacco Free Florida aims to help combat this deadly addiction. Through With Chew Week takes place Feb. 19-25, with the Great American Spit Out - a day when smokeless tobacco users join to quit - on Feb. 23.

Although the youth cigarette smoking rate in Florida decreased over 50 percent between 2012 and 2016, the number of Florida high school students who reported current use of smokeless tobacco products decreased only 24.5 percent in those same four years. The disproportionately higher rate of smokeless tobacco use in rural areas is also alarming - current youth smokeless tobacco use is more than three times higher in rural communities than in non-rural areas. According to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey in 2016, 7.6% of Franklin County's youth ages 11-17 reported current use of smokeless tobacco products compared to 3.6% in 2014.

"Smokeless tobacco products contain harmful chemicals that are known to cause cancer," said Marsha Lindeman, Administrator for the Florida Department of Health in Franklin and Gulf Counties.  "Youth who use smokeless products are more likely to experiment with other types of tobacco.  Studies have shown that adolescent boys who use smokeless tobacco have a higher risk of becoming cigarette smokers.

To raise awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco use, Department of Health-Franklin will set up a Great American Spit Out table in the clinic's reception area.  Franklin County SWAT will have display tables set up at their schools as well.  The event will take place Feb. 17th through 24th.  The tables will have Quit Kits, information on Smokeless Tobacco use, pledge cards and sugarless gum.

At least 28 cancer-causing chemicals have been identified in smokeless tobacco. Smokeless tobacco users have an 80 percent higher risk of oral cancer and a 60 percent higher risk of esophageal cancer and pancreatic cancer compared to non-users. Apart from cancer, smokeless tobacco users can develop other oral health issues, such as mouth sores, gum recession, tooth decay and permanent discoloration of teeth.  The use of some types of smokeless tobacco products is also associated with an increased risk of heart disease and fatal stroke.

Currently, there is no scientific or medical evidence that proves smokeless tobacco use is an effective method to help people quit smoking. Floridians who want to quit any form of tobacco have access to the state's free and proven-effective resources. For more information, please visit

Monday, February 13, 2017

H’COLA to host 14th Annual African-American History Fest this weekend

Join the Hillside Coalition Of Laborers for Apalachicola, Inc., (H’COLA) this weekend, February 17-19 as they host the 14th Annual African-American History Festival at Franklin Square Recreation Park located on 6th Street in Apalachicola. There will be three days of fun-filled activities for the entire family to enjoy.

The festival will commence with a Denim Dazzle Kickoff Party 9:00 p.m., Friday night, February 17th at the 6th Street Recreation Center.  Saturday, February, 18th begins with the festival parade at 10:00 a.m., with opening ceremonies following at 10:45 a.m.  Live entertainment all through the day until 8:00 p.m., featuring the soulful sounds of the P&W Trio and The Dream Reality Records Artist Revue. The festival will conclude Sunday, February, 19th with an uplifting outdoor Worship Service in the Park at Noon.

Check out H’COLA’s Facebook Page or visit their Website for a full list of events and times or simply call (850)653-7515 or (850)323-0544 for more information. Call now while vendor space and sponsorship opportunities are still available.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson tapped to speak at Washington Conference

(L-R) Al Herndon, Chris Carr, Dillon Grant, Mayor Van Johnson, Holden Foley,
Sarah Martin, Elinor Mount-Simmons and Dr. Sue Summers

Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson will be traveling back to Washington, DC before day Saturday morning, February 11, 2017.  Johnson has been invited to Washington to attend The Corps Network 2017 National Conference to share
with Corps from across the country the success story experienced from the partnership between the City and the local Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast.

The conference is scheduled for February 12-15 at the Fairmont Washington where  Johnson is scheduled to sit on a discussion panel (Creating Community Equity Through Corps) from 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 14th.

“I’m honored by the invitation from The Corps Network for the opportunity to share the success stories generated from the City’s collaboration with the Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast”, Johnson said.

“I will be highlighting and sharing the account of a recent meeting held in my office with Al Herndon, who represents both the Florida Masonry Apprentice and Educational Foundation and the National Center for Construction Education and Research, along with Dr. Sue Summers, with the Franklin Count School District, members of the local Conservation Corps, Elinor Mount Simmons, ED Corps Academic Coach and Joe Taylor, Executive Director of Franklin’s Promise Coalition. The meeting was held to discuss a partnership with each enity present to provide construction training and certification for young adults in Franklin County. As part of the Affordable Housing Initiative between the City and Franklin’s Promise Coalition. Mr. Herndon pledged to facilitate a relationship between local, state and national organizations that would provide the curriculum, access to instructors and credentials to prepare trainees for a career in the construction trades. Mr. Herndon also detailed the opportunities available to the future participants and the increasing demand for skilled crafts men/women across the state.”

Sitting on the panel with Johnson will be Arne Duncan, Former U.S. Secretary of Education during President Barrack Obama’s first term, Andrea “Andy” Pendleton, the first woman mayor of Rainelle, West Virginia and Dr. Ryan Streeter, former chief of staff for policy for Vice-President Mike Pence, when Pence served as governor of Indiana and special assistant for domestic policy to President George W. Bush at the White House.

The conference will conclude with a visit to Capitol Hill, where Johnson is scheduled to meet with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and hopefully with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).

This is Johnson’s second trip to Washington, the first was in November 2016 where he met with former USDA Under Secretary Robert Bonnie to discuss the need to create local summer jobs for the youth in Franklin County and to seek Bonnie’s support for the collaboration between the City and FAMU to establish a Job Incubator/Accelerator Program in Apalachicola.

A list of conference speakers, their short bio, including Mayor Johnson’s can be found on The Corps Network website or by clicking HERE.

CVS Plans Review Completed

Proposed look of CVS building 

The City of Apalachicola planning staff have completed their review of CVS proposed plans to develop a new store in Apalachicola. The report from the plan review has been transmitted to CVS with copies provided to city officials for consideration. You may view the staff report and documents by clicking HERE.

Apalachicola recognized as 2017 Healthy Weight Community Champion

The City of Apalachicola has once again been recognized by the Florida Department of Health as one of the 2017  Healthy Weight Community Champions. A recognition the City has successively received from state health officials since the State Surgeon General launched the Healthy Weight Community Champion Recognition Program in 2015.

The Community Champions program is part of the department’s Healthiest Weight Florida initiative. Healthiest Weight Florida is a public-private collaboration bringing together state agencies, local governments, not-for-profit organizations, businesses, schools, faith-based organizations and entire communities to help Florida’s children and adults make consistent, informed choices about healthy eating and active living.

Other panhandle communities to receive the 2017 Healthy Weight Community Champion recognition include Bay County, Panama City, City of Pensacola and the City of Port St. Joe.

“I am pleased that the department is able to recognize the tremendous work these local governments have done to improve the health of their residents” said State Surgeon General and Secretary Dr. Celeste Philip. “Their efforts to implement policies that empower residents and visitors to improve their health are an important part of creating healthy environments throughout Florida.”

Replica of Shotgun House on Temporary Display in Mayor’s Office

Replica of Historic Apalachicola Shotgun House created by Peter Buzier

On temporary display in the office of Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson is a replica of a Historic Apalachicola Shotgun House created by local resident Peter Buzier, that’s soon to be part of the PEARLS exhibition and auction scheduled for April at the Apalachicola Center for History, Culture and Art, at 86 Water Street in downtown Apalachicola, Florida.

PEARLS (Preserving and Embracing Apalachicola’s Rich Legacy of Shotguns) has planned a month long, city-wide, multi-venue event for April.  The mission of PEARLS is to be a catalyst to preserve Apalachicola’s historic housing through the celebration of art and record.

Inside View

The PEARLS committee invite you, the artist, to submit for exhibition and sale your works of oil paintings, drawings, pastels, watercolors, acrylic paintings, sculpture of any medium, glass, wood working or photography.  The committee request a theme that brings an awareness of the shotgun houses and the role they played culturally in the city’s history, particularly as the city of Apalachicola seeks to create affordable housing for all citizens.
Artists must have all works framed or ready for display by Wednesday, ​March​ ​0​8, 2017.

The art must be delivered to The Apalachicola Center for History, Culture and Art, at 86 Water Street in downtown Apalachicola, Florida on Wednesday, March 29 from 12 noon to 5:00 p.m.  If alternative display options or arrangements are needed, please notify Paulette Moss at 855-272-5224 or  The PEARLS exhibition will celebrate with an opening reception, Saturday, April 01, 2017 and end with a closing reception and auction on Saturday, April 29.

All art sales proceeds will be held in a not for profit fund, dedicated to securing funds to restore and renovate shotgun houses, until the end of the exhibit.  After the sales reconciliation, The PEARLS committee will pay each artist 50% on any sales of your art work.  The committee will also accept any art work as a tax deductible donation.

Although extreme care will be taken with all works of art, the Apalachicola Center for History, Culture and Art cannot be responsible for work in transient to or from the exhibition. The utmost care will also be taken during the exhibition.  By submitting art work denotes agreement to the terms and conditions as stated in the above information.

Permission to photograph all art work for publicity purposes shall be understood to be granted.  The PEARLS committee request no visitors take photographs of the art on exhibit without permission.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Apalachicola City Commission to Hold Joint Workshop & Regular Meeting Tuesday

The Apalachicola Board of City Commissioners will be holding a joint workshop followed by their regular monthly meeting starting at 5:00 P.M. EDT, Tuesday, February 7, 2017, inside the Battery Park Community Center at 1 Bay Avenue - Apalachicola.

The joint workshop is to continue the discussion from the December 6, 2016, joint workshop held with the Planning & Zoning Commission to resolve the conflict surrounding building height issues.

Highlighting the regular meeting agenda is an array of adoption decisions on resolutions and first readings of ordinance amendments. Followed by a report from Falan Goff, FAMU Job Incubator/Accelerator Program Coordinator along with a host of other business to be taken up by the commission.

You can view the full agenda along with meeting documents by visit the official website of the City of Apalachicola at or by clicking the link below.

As always the public is invited and encouraged to attend all meetings of the Apalachicola Board of City Commissioners to stay informed concerning the operation of your city government.

City of Apalachicola Road Closure Notice

The City of Apalachicola will be closing portions of 24th Avenue and Bobby Cato Street for utility maintenance of the sewer lift station located at the intersection of Bobby Cato Street and 24th Avenue.

The effective dates of this closure are Monday, February 13th thru the end of the day Friday, February 17th.

The intersections where traffic will be diverted during the closure are:
  • 24th Avenue at Cornelius Riser Street
  • 24th Avenue at Timothy Simmons Street
  • Bobby Cato Street at 25thAvenue
  • Bobby Cato Street at 17th Street/Timothy Simmons Street
Any traffic traveling on 24th Avenue or Bobby Cato Street will need to detour at these intersections and use 25th Avenue or Timothy Simmons/17th Street to navigate around the closed area. The closure should not affect access to any other streets or avenues in the area.

Click HERE to view map and list of roads where traffic will be diverted.

Your city leadership thank you in advance for your understanding and patience during this road closure.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

February Is Black History Month

The entire month of February is celebrated in the United States as Black History Month thanks to both Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), a historian and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.  The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926, when Woodson and the Association announced the second week of February to be "Negro History Week”.  That week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) on February 14, both of which dates Black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century.

At the time of Negro History Week's launch, Woodson contended that the teaching of black history was essential to ensure the physical and intellectual survival of the race within the broader society.

History quotes Woodson as saying… "If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. The American Indian left no continuous record. He did not appreciate the value of tradition; and where is he today? The Hebrew keenly appreciated the value of tradition, as is attested by the Bible itself. In spite of worldwide persecution, therefore, he is a great factor in our civilization.”

In the Apalachicola community, Black History Month is celebrated annually with a three-day outdoor festival held during the third weekend in February. The event celebrates and highlights both National and local African-American heritage, including art, culture, and food and concludes with an uplifting outdoor Sunday worship service at Franklin Square Recreation Park located on 6th Street in the African-American community.

The festival is hosted by the Hillside Coalition Of Laborer’s for Apalachicola, Inc., (H’COLA), a local community service organization comprised of committed and dedicated African-American business-minded people, who share the same belief, which is that service to others is a high and worthy calling. The 14th Annual African-American History Festival in Apalachicola is scheduled for February 17-19, 2017. For more information visit

In both the spirit and celebration of Black History Month 2017, I have provided a link below to access the speech I wrote and delivered as co-keynote speaker at the 30th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Birthday Celebration held January 16, 2017, at the Fort Coombs National Guard Armory in Apalachicola.

by Apalachicola Mayor Van W. Johnson, Sr.