Photo: Bob Self/Florida Times-Union
Northeast Florida Roundup
Dam issues: Challenges for the Rodman Reservoir
An unlikely alliance aims to destroy the dam that created the Rodman Reservoir.
Many residents in Putnam County have never known a time without the Rodman Reservoir and the 16-mile-long, 3-mile-wide Lake Ocklawaha. It was where they fished, swam and marveled at the wildlife.
Some would like to see the dam breached and the Ocklawaha River reconnected to the St. Johns River as it was 47 years ago.
Larry Harvey, a Putnam County commissioner and former president of Save Rodman Reservoir, has been leading the struggle to keep the dam against the unlikely alliance of the JAX Chamber, JaxPort, the St. Johns Riverkeeper and the city of Jacksonville.
JaxPort wants to dredge 13 miles of the north-flowing St. Johns from 41 to 47 feet to allow larger ships into the port. St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman says the dredging will have harmful effects on the river, but she agreed not to take legal action against the project’s environmental impact statement if the alliance can secure $25 million from the Legislature to destroy the dam and restore the Ocklawaha’s flow.
“By restoring the natural flow, water quality will improve,” Rinaman says. “Our goal is to do the best for the St. Johns.” If the Legislature does not approve the plan, her lawsuit will continue.
The reservoir, created by a dam that was built as part of the ill-fated Cross Florida Barge Canal, has grown into a popular recreation and fishing area and recently hosted the 19th annual Save Rodman Reservoir Open Bass Tournament. A study done in 1998 showed the reservoir contributed about $41 million a year to the area’s economy.
The Jacksonville group’s tactics amount to a slap in the face for some in Putnam County. Officials said they didn’t hear about the plan until they read it in a newspaper. “It was a lack of respect,” Harvey says.
For the Troops
Two career military men, Stan Mc- Quiston and John Reich, are selling a home-recipe salsa and donating all the proceeds to military-related charities. Reich, 52, a West Point graduate and retired Army colonel, and McQuiston, 43, a retired colonel with the Air National Guard, came up with the idea after a salsa that Reich’s wife, Kim, created became popular in their neighborhood.
For The Troops sells its products through Jacksonville area Winn-Dixie Stores and Whole Foods stores, at several restaurants and online at forthetroops.com.
Proceeds have gone to the USO of Greater Jacksonville and Operation Home Front, and the two organized a dinner at Mayport Naval Station for service members and their families.
ALACHUA COUNTY — Alachua-based AxoGen has raised $13 million from a public offering of common stock and will raise another $2 million from the underwriter, the company announced. AxoGen makes products to repair injured peripheral nerves.
GAINESVILLE — Verigo, a University of Florida spinoff, has secured funding from the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research. Verigo, incorporated as Comm-N-Sense, develops and manufactures wireless tracking and monitoring technology for businesses that rely on perishable supply chains. The funding agreement can supply up to $300,000 but requires matching private contributions. President Adam Kinsey says the company has already received $300,000 from “angel investors.”
JACKSONVILLE — A south Florida developer has proposed building a $1.4-billion boatyard and marina for megayachts on the downtown shipyards property. Patrick Mullen, owner of Shitaki Marine Enterprises, says his company would pay for environmental remediation of the site. Plans also call for building an International Festival Marketplace. JaxPort has signed a five-year agreement to become Volkswagen Group’s main Southeast port. > Cecil Field will resume its former role as a Navy base during work to improve the runway and taxiway at Jacksonville Naval Air Station. Some 4,000 employees will be transferred to Cecil Field for up to 18 months. The Navy is leasing about 1 million square feet of ramp space and has leased five vacant buildings. Cecil Spaceport has completed some of its first upgrades to get ready for trips to space. Aviation officials say sometime next year that an aircraft fitted with a rocket is expected to take off and put small satellites into orbit. > Several wealthy donors are funding a $50,000 feasibility study to determine if the First Coast Aquarium would be a good addition to the Northbank of the St. Johns River near downtown Jacksonville. Cigar maker Swisher International has formed a new company to develop, market and distribute electronic vaping inhalers and solutions. The company, E-Alternative Solutions, will offer two liquid vapor products for e-cigarettes and will work on developing others. > Ben Warner, president of the Jacksonville Community Council since 2001, has resigned and is moving to Naples, Italy, because his wife has taken a job there. > Crowley Maritime will soon be managing eight new oil tankers under its subsidiary Crowley Accord Management. The new vessels will bring the company’s ship management fleet to more than 70. > The Skinner family is selling about 45 acres west of St. Johns Town Center to Cantrell & Morgan for potential development into mixed uses, including retail stores, multifamily residential, office space and a hotel. The property is being developed by Preferred Growth Properties of Birmingham, Ala. > A $300,000 federal grant will allow the construction of electric car charging stations around Jacksonville. The North Florida Transportation Organization is accepting applications from businesses, non-profits and governmental entities anywhere within the JEA service area. Visit Jacksonville has received a $99,200 grant from Visit Florida to promote the area’s medical facilities to new patients and medical convention planners.
SUWANNEE COUNTY — A 70-employee plant to produce wood pellets for European and Asian power plants will open in Suwannee County.
Oscar Munoz has been elected president and COO of CSX. Michael Ward will step down as president but remain CEO and chairman of the Jacksonville-based rail company.
Nelson Bradshaw has been named CEO for the Jacksonville and northeast Florida region for BBVA Compass.
Jaguars owner Shahid Khan has unveiled plans to develop 48 acres of shipyards property into 1 million square feet of office space, 100,000 square feet of commercial space, 682 residential units, 350 hotel rooms and 525 boat slips. Included in the proposed project are Jaguars practice fields, a riverwalk and a berth for the USS Adams as a floating museum. Khan has not announced the cost of the project but wants the city to spend $35 million on environmental cleanup.