Q: Can you comment on the potential for privatizing the St. Johns County libraries?
A: During commissioner’s reports at our April 6 meeting, Commissioner Jeb Smith brought up the possibility of privatizing our public libraries. I believe he thought we might be able to save money and still have the libraries run as they are now. I had never heard of this, but I and the other commissioners asked for more facts and directed staff to investigate. 

I’m not sure how I feel about something like this, but the facts would really have to be overwhelming for me to vote for it. Additionally, I’m not sure how much support it would get from staff and the other commissioners. To date, we haven’t heard anything from staff about this again. At this point, I don’t think such a change would be imminent or would receive support.

Q: Can you give an update on Project Breeze, which we discussed last month?
A: The identity of Project Breeze is no longer confidential; it has been revealed to be the PGA TOUR. The project will be the TOUR’s broadcast home where they will produce all their digital content. This project would be good for St. Johns County because not only will 135 jobs be retained, but they expect to add 45 more jobs by 2035. Part of the initial ask by the PGA TOUR a few years ago was to get tax abatement on their global home in Ponte Vedra Beach. This agreement is already in place. So, by adding this new project, the entire incentive package will go from $23 million to $16 million. Basically, we would be paying less incentive — and we all understand the benefit of having the PGA TOUR in our community. 

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Q: What is the latest [as of interview date of May 14] on the Helow property, located on County Road 210W along a new extension of Veterans Parkway?
A: This is still very much on my radar. There is a community meeting scheduled for May 17 and the project will go to PZA (Planning and Zoning Agency Board) on June 3.

Q: Do you have anything else to share with District 1?
A: I believe we are all still coming to grips with the devastating murder of Tristyn Bailey. As a commissioner with two young daughters, my wife and I had to come to the realization of the fact that even in a great community like ours, terrible things can still happen. At the next county commission meeting, I plan to discuss with the other commissioners what would be appropriate to memorialize Tristyn Bailey’s life. We want to show support for her family and that we are all grieving together.

Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you?

A: Readers can email me at  bcc1cwhitehurst@sjcfl.us or call me at (904) 584-5348. 

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