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Published by former Mayor George Gardner               February 27 2013
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George Gardner 57 Fullerwood Drive St. Augustine FL 32084

Code: no weddings

   Problem: city would be violator at Llambias House

   City Attorney Ron Brown told city commissioners Monday the only way to end noisy wedding receptions at Llambias House is to enforce a city code prohibiting weddings at the location.

"Problem is," he said, "code enforcement is against the property owner, and the city owns the property."

While the historic property is owned by the city, it's managed by the St. Augustine Historical Society, which responded to earlier negotiations saying it would continue the wedding rentals. The result has been continuing neighborhood complaints.

Commissioner Roxanne Horvath suggested the society be reminded Llambias House "is a historic property, and they might emphasize that in their promotion of the venue." She noted her wedding reception was there, "and we had a duo playing softly, and there were no complaints." 

Bag man at commission meeting

Bag it!

   Flagler College's student Enactus emphasized its Make History Initiative before city commissioners Monday with a "bag man" bursting into the commission room.

   Commissioners endorsed by resolution the group's plan to replace plastic bags with reusable bags for downtown shoppers.

  The bags will "include the City's (450) branding logo ... as evidence of the City of St. Augustine's commitment to the sustainability of our planet and to providing an environmental model for other cities across the state ..."

   Introducing the group, Public Works Assistant Director Tood Grant explained that "Enactus stands for entrepreneurial, action, and us," the name replacing SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise), winner of numerous awards in national and international competitions.

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Gift of life for 450th


AED unit "What better gift than to save a life?" Fire Chief Mike Arnold asked as city commissioners Monday endorsed his request to seek a $5,000 grant for three automated external defibrillators (AED) to be placed at City Hall and the Municipal Marina and West King Street public works complex.

The AED is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses potentially life threatening cardiac conditions and is able to treat them through defibrillation. 

   "With each minute's delay in emergency response, survival likelihood is reduced ten percent," Arnold said in emphasizing the importance of the wall-mounted units. "After ten minutes, survival is less than five percent."

Arnold said the grant requires a 50 percent match, and that 450 Director Dana Ste. Claire offered to provide the match through 450 fundraising as a 450 legacy project.


Facilitating a font


 Replica baptism font City commissioners Monday approved "up to $8,000 in emergency funds" to ship from Spain a replica of the baptismal font of Ponce de Leon.

450 Director Dana Ste. Claire told commissioners he hopes to find sponsors in the private sector, "but we have to move quickly to assure that the font is here and in place April 3 for ceremonies at the Cathedral."

Ponce's hometown of Santervas, in the Province of Leon, contracted with a stonemason to create the replica as a gift to the city and Cathedral Basilica.

A cannon for Oglethorpe


    18th century cannon One of several planned monuments to recognize "the vital role the city plays in defense of our city, our state and the nation" will be an 18th century cannon at Oglethorpe Park in Davis Shores, marking the site of James Oglethorpe's 30-day siege of St. Augustine in 1740.  

Col. Rik Erkelens of the 450th Military Commemoration Committee said the committee, led by the Ancient City Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America in cooperation with the St Johns Veteran's Council, is raising funds for the cannon, but asked city support in approving the site and setting a base.

"All you see now are some bushes and the very top of an obelisk," said Erkelens. "But this is a significant site in our city's history."

Dedication of the cannon is scheduled for June 30. 


Five ROWITA honorees 


Five outstanding women will be honored March 10 with the Dr. Gail Pflaster ROWITA (Recognizing Outstanding Women in the Arts) lifetime achievement award in ceremonies at 6 pm at Limelight Theatre.

Honorees Tatter, Bradley, Siess, McDade, Rang
Honorees Tatter, Bradley, Siess, McDade, Rang

The honorees:

Wendy Tatter-Visual Artist, of W. B. Tatter Studio Gallery on San Marco Avenue. organized the San Marco merchants to participate in Uptown Saturday Night and San Marco Avenue beautification efforts. She's also developed workshops at elementary schools and with civic associations throughout Florida.

Diane Bradley -Arts Educator/Visual Artist, serving the St. Augustine Art Association as a docent, show chairperson and teacher of an after-school art program. She's developed with the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind the annual Tactile Show for the blind and visually impaired, and has managed the annual Spring and Fall Art & Craft festivals and the new Nature and Wildlife Exhibition.

Mary Siess - Arts Volunteer/Visual Artist, since 1999 has volunteered at the St. Augustine Art Association in a variety of positions, and is a pillar of the EMMA Concert Association as historian, organizer of the EMMA Music Master Series, President of the EMMA Guild, and Vice-President of the EMMA Board of Directors. She's also volunteered with Altrusa's work with the Llambias House, Old St. Augustine Village, and the St. Augustine Textile Guild.

Debbie McDade - Jazz Singer, in the course of her international career, she sang with Earl "Fatha" Hines, toured Asia representing the United States, made movies in Japan, and wrote songs, some recorded by Woody Herman and Louis Prima. She's been active in many community efforts, including Excelsior Museum and Cultural Center, and the Foot Soldiers Memorial Project.

Patti Rang - Cultural Advocate/Reenactor, has been involved for over 30 years in development of events celebrating St. Augustine's Spanish and British periods, as leader and contributing member of the East Florida Rangers and the 60th Regiment of Foot, and helped establish St. Augustine's British Grande Illumination. 

History's Highlight
Oglethorpe's Siege of St. Augustine

2 years, 6 months, 13 days to St. Augustine's 450th anniversary


    James Oglethorpe is revered as the founder of Georgia. His exploits to protect that colony by invading the Spanish to the south are not as highly regarded.

   Spain had for nearly 200 years claimed the entire eastern seaboard, but its only strong garrison was St. Augustine. Carolina seemed too distant to try to defend. Georgia, however, was much closer to home, and the Spanish government would not yield this debatable land to intruders.

   Sensing English intentions in the mid 1730s, Florida Governor Moral Sanchez strengthened his defenses to the north and laid plans to eventually attack the English in Georgia.James Oglethorpe

   Sanchez' successor in 1737, Manuel de Montiano, suspected the English might strike first, and focused on his St. Augustine defenses. Havana sent 400 fresh troops, new iron cannons, funds to build barracks and patrol boats, and 82 laborers including engineers, bricklayers and stonemasons.

   As war became real, the garrison had 613 fighting men, still no match for Oglethorpe's 1,600 men, seven warships and 40 dugouts for landing parties. But then, there was the invincible Castillo, too.

   Early this year of 1740, Oglethorpe's troops ranged along the St. Johns River north and west of St. Augustine, taking smaller outposts. In April, they marched from the St. Johns and seized Fort Mose, a northern defense outpost created two years earlier two miles north of St. Augustine.

   By early June the English force had encircled the city. Oglethorpe's heavy ships could not pass the sandbar into the bay, so his siege guns were landed and dragged across Anastasia Island and along the southern point of Vilano, to pummel the Castillo and city.

   Rather than shattering solid stone walls, the traditional European siege strategy, the cannon balls were simply absorbed into the massive but soft coquina walls, which were quickly replastered overnight by the Spanish.

   This whole situation was new - and distasteful - to the English: weeks of staying in one position, under a blazing semi-tropical sun, being attacked by mosquitoes and sand fleas, and now the psychological impact of a fresh new target every day. The English troops were approaching mutiny.

   Perhaps to break the strangling encirclement, discourage the attackers or encourage his defenders, Montiano made a bold decision. On June 25th, he committed nearly half his force to counterattack Fort Mose. The move was totally unexpected, and the Spaniards retook the northern outpost, killing 87 of the English and 35 Indians in the process.

   Two weeks later, July 6, Spanish relief ships slipped up the inland waterway through its garrison at Matanzas Inlet. The newly replenished garrison was too much for the English forces, and by July 20 the last of them had pulled out.

   Two decades later, by a Treaty of Paris, the British began a 21-year occupation of Florida, with St. Augustine and its Castillo, which was never to fall in battle.


   Excerpts from Oglethorpe in St. Augustine Bedtime Stories. Click for further information on this fascinating historic series


   The St. Augustine Report is published weekly, with additional Reports previewing City Commission meetings as well as Special Reports. The Report is written and distributed by George Gardner, St. Augustine Mayor (2002-2006) and Commissioner (2006-2008) and a former newspaper reporter and editor.  Contact the Report at