Issue 17, April 24th

My gosh, last week was fantastic!  We had the meeting Wednesday, (including a new quarterly report of how we’re doing and what’s coming up, synopsis to come) Golf outing Friday, and finally a fulfilling day working with our JROTC cadets and members at Habijax!  Earlier in the week I drafted this message encouraging you to show up for our speaker to hear a different perspective on Cuba…..well I received an email from our speaker early Tuesday morning that he had to fly to Cuba and would need to reschedule.  Fortunately, we have some interesting people in Jacksonville willing to jump in on short notice.  That afternoon around lunch time I spoke with Commodore Joe Snowberger of the JHNSA (U.S.S. Adams Naval Warship Museum) who hadn’t addressed our club for a few years.  Coincidentally Joe shared the ship’s history of involvement in the Cuban Missile Crisis.  There was an enemy ship that managed to slip through the Navy’s blockade and the advanced radar systems exclusively on board the U.S.S. Adams was the only reason we knew further in advance!

You may not be aware that several of our members are involved in the JHNSA and/or have lobbied for it in local, state and Federal government.  Bill Bishop worked hard for years on City Council resulting in a lease/license to dock the ship and operate downtown at the shipyards for 10 years.  Congressman Crenshaw intervened with the Navy on multiple occasions to delay sending the ship for scrap as it’s the ONLY remaining ship available.  Finally, in Tallahassee Rep. Charles McBurney lobbied for multiple sessions for partial state funding; which makes sense especially since it’ll generate tourism and sales tax revenue.  Last year the governor struck it from the budget, but that didn’t stop Charles.  He went back again this year, and was able to convince the governor to approve $1 million in funding to build the mooring at which the Adams will be docked on the shipyards!  Charles told me a few weeks ago this was something he was determined to accomplish in his final term in the State House.

Joe went into details as to the Adams becoming the youngest warship on display in the country, projected to bring hundreds of thousands to Jacksonville annually in tourism.  They have the support of the Jaguars; it’s also featured in every artist rendering Khan’s group has crafted for shipyard proposals.  Unfortunately, the Jags haven’t committed to any significant funding to move the project along.  Joe shared many of the challenges the organization has faced, but in 242 speaking engagements he’s only had 2 people approach him to say they felt it’s a “bad idea.”  I’m sorry, but in the 3rd largest Navy town in the country, in a time when the next generation will be more familiar with military drones than the sacrifices of sailors, pilots, & soldiers why not make Jacksonville the site of a Naval Warship Museum?

Gene Bushor asked a question on many of our minds, “How can this club help?”  Then after the meeting Julie Clements and I were talking and she said, “we should get involved as an organization…how is this different from Friendship Fountain?  The overpass??”  Presently one of the hurdles the Adams faces is the hold placed on downtown development until the pension issue is resolved with the sales tax proposal coming on the August Ballot.  Once that’s behind us, Joe and his group have a far greater chance of success.  This club has a long history of lobbying for larger, costlier landmarks than the Adams!  I agree with Julie, and in the coming weeks I’d encourage further discussion on the topic.

This week Nat Ford, CEO of JTA, will address our club on some significant upcoming projects.  Additionally, our golf tournament committee will present some of the plans for this year’s 21st Tournament.  As many movies open on Wednesday instead of Friday’s for increased success, all the auction revenue from this week’s door prizes will go towards the bottom-line of the golf tournament meaning 100% will benefit the YAP Scholarship Fund!  So please keep that in mind and consider donating an item to really beef it up.  We may need to start 5 mins early to squeeze in all this week’s content.

Finally speaking of our friend & member Charles McBurney, I’d ask everyone to keep his mother in your prayers.  Jean Chappell suffered a stroke a few weeks ago, she and Charles are very close so he’s been deeply focused on her care and recovery.  Jean is at Brooks Rehab now, but it’s a long road ahead.

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