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Jacksonville's Massive Cleanup Gets Results

Scenic Florida
Photo: Will Dickey, The Florida Times Union

"After Monique and Jerry Grant heard about Jacksonville’s first tire buyback event, they drove up and down 103rd Street and Old Middleburg Road searching for junk tires to bring in.

The Westside couple saw two clear advantages.

'... money,' Monique Grant said with a chuckle, 'and cleaning up the neighborhood.'

'You can’t beat that,' said Jerry Grant.

When they arrived Saturday, they had to wait in a long line of vehicles to even get into the large parking lot at EverBank Field, where the event was held...

The buyback event was City Hall’s latest initiative to reduce neighborhood blight and beautify Jacksonville.

From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Duval County residents could trade in up to 10 tires for $2 per tire or up to 40 illegal advertising signs for 50 cents each. The buyback was funded from the portion of the city’s solid waste user fee designated for contamination cleanup.

City officials predicted they would get 25,000 tires. The actual count was close, more than 23,000, said city Public Works Director Jim Robinson. About 6,000 signs were brought in, he said...

The old tires will be sent to the city’s Trail Ridge Landfill in Baldwin. Waste Management will move them to its Lakeland facility for processing and burning as a fuel source to produce electricity. The signs also will be recycled, Robinson said."

 -- Beth Reese Cravey, The Florida Times-Union

Grand Jury Releases Findings On Billboard Company's Illegal Tree Cutting Permits

In June 2009, Citizens for a Scenic Florida received an anonymous letter reporting that acres of trees were being cut down along I-10 and other state roads in the Panhandle without approved vegetation management plans or associated mitigation fees.  As it turned out, more than 2000 trees were "illegally removed" from state right-of-way along I-10 and other roads in the Panhandle.  The letter indicated that the trees were removed by Bill Salter Advertising Co. in order to create view zones for the company's billboards.  The letter also suggested that Salter Advertising had used the influence of then State Representative Greg Evers to broker a deal with FDOT leadership and that an FDOT employee had been ordered by the FDOT District Director of Operations James Rodgers to let Salter Advertising "do whatever they want."  In response to public records requests by Citizens for a Scenic Florida and the St. Pete Times, no documents provided by FDOT confirmed any communications on the subject between then Representative Evers, then FDOT Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos, and then FDOT Deputy Secretary Kevin Thibault.  In response to a public records request made in 2010 (by a citizen in St. Petersburg) for all emails to and from Secretary Kopelousos for a given period, among the thousands of documents provided by FDOT were emails revealing such communication between Evers, Kopelousos and Thibault. Other emails turned up later when the original records requests were repeated verbatim in 2011. This information was forwarded to the State Attorney for the Second Judicial Circuit and subsequently reviewed by a Grand Jury. The Grand Jury called it a debacle.

* Grand Jury Presentment (report)

* Grand Jury Presentment Attachments

* Citizens for a Scenic Florida Press Release

* Citizens for a Scenic Florida letter to Governor Scott

* Citizens for a Scenic Florida letter to FDOT Secretary

FDOT letter (dated 2-22-2012) to Bill Salter Advertising, Inc.