Beachgoers pack Flagler Beach as temperatures rise

Beackgoers flock to Flagler Beach as late December temperatures soar into the low 80s, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014. (PHOTO/Jason Wheeler, Staff)

Beackgoers flock to Flagler Beach as late December temperatures soar into the low 80s, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014. (PHOTO/Jason Wheeler, Staff)

Beackgoers flock to Flagler Beach as late December temperatures soar into the low 80s, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014. (PHOTO/Jason Wheeler, Staff)

By Jason Wheeler, Flagler County Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, December 29, 2014, 4:36 PM

Forget about “folks wrapped up like Eskimos.” Everybody knows that sun, surf and sand are great, no matter what time of the year it is.

At Flagler Beach, these unseasonably warm temperatures are reminders of why Florida is a popular winter destination.

But for those who call this area home, they also know it’s not always like this.

Dave Smith is a retiree from southern California of all places.

“Last year at this time, it was so cold,” Smith said. “You know, it was a completely different story. You know, this year, I don’t know what we did right but the weather is beautiful this year.”

Al Ferriso is vacationing from New York, where he’s got a 20-year-old son back home. He tried to get him to come down, considering he’s an avid surfer.

Instead, his son is getting constant calls, email and pictures of dad on the beach.

“The water here is warmer than the ocean water in the summer in New York, back in Gilgo Beach,” Ferriso said after getting out of the ocean.

There’s no mistaking this crowd for a Memorial Day or July 4 weekend. But for a Monday at the end of December, it’s not too shabby.

There’s no question the busier it is along the beaches, even at the end of December, that’s great for business along the coast.

At Fuego, which sits right across State Road A1A from the ocean, no one is dining inside.

General Manager Rick Brager said a 15-degree shift in temperature makes a big deal.

“It’s hard to say, 30 to 40 percent maybe, increase over when the weather’s not that good. So we’re pickled about it,” Brager said.

No one expects the warm temperatures to last, but will enjoy it while it’s around.

If there is downside during this warm spell, it’s the ocean conditions. While great for surfers, red flags were flying along Flagler Beach, warning of increased rip current risks.


Volunteerism growing in Volusia, Flagler counties

Contrary to national trends, volunteerism is alive and nicely in Volusia and Flagler counties, with some people providing 𠇌ountless” hours supporting regional organizations and projects nearest and dearest to them.

“I can’t even start to tell you how numerous hours volunteers donate for the Giving Retailer, and that’s just 1 (occasion),” said Judy Mazzella, volunteer coordinator for the nonprofit Flagler Volunteer Services. Some 75 people are required to man the “store” itself as children in kindergarten through fifth grade are invited to “shop” for everybody in their household.

“We hold two rummage sales a year to pay for anything,” Mazzella said. “The children come through, shop, see Santa and all of their presents are present-wrapped for them to give.”

The national typical volunteer rate in 2013 was the lowest it has been due to the fact numbers were initial collected in 2002, according to the most current report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But that doesn’t appear to hold true in Flagler or Volusia counties.

The United Way of Volusia-Flagler Counties volunteer center has in fact noticed an uptick in the quantity of volunteers more than the past two years, officials stated.

The number of volunteers for the fiscal year starting in June 2013 was three,890 and the present calendar year — January via Dec. 15 — stands at four,116.

“We are encouraged that for the second year in a row, we are seeing an boost in the number of volunteers and volunteer possibilities in our community,” mentioned Crystal Elkins, spokeswoman for United Way. “Our community grows stronger and our futures brighter as much more individuals give of their time and talent.”

The most current Bureau of Labor Statistics report was based on a survey of 60,000 households across the U.S. including the District of Columbia, stated Emy Sok, an economist with the bureau.

“It’s basically a fairly major sample,” he mentioned in an interview earlier this year.

Volunteers spent a median of 50 hours per year on volunteer activities from September 2012 to September 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Time spent on volunteer activities was equivalent for females and males,” the report states. 𠇊mong these who volunteered, median annual hours spent on volunteer activities ranged from a low of 36 hours for those 25 to 34 years old to a high of 86 hours for those over the age of 65.”

There are some who major 500 hours of annual volunteer service, like 89-year-old Nemo Farmer of Palm Coast.

“I do a lot of volunteer operate through RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer System),” he stated. “I’m at the hospital (Florida Hospital Flagler) just about every week driving the cart around to bring people to their vehicles. I volunteer as an usher at the Flagler Auditorium. I do a lot of issues.”

He estimates he volunteers about ten hours a week.

“I just like to preserve busy,” Farmer stated. “Sometimes my wife just tells me what I’m going to do.”

The quantity of Flagler County volunteers increased about five percent in 2013 to 938 active volunteers in the neighborhood and 1,259 in schools, Flagler Volunteer Solutions executive director Suzy Gamblain stated in the course of a preceding interview.

The number of volunteers is likely greater, and challenging to track, Gamblain mentioned, because there are a number of organizations that don’t share their numbers.

“Our numbers do not incorporate those who volunteer at the library, the hospital, the Humane Society and the Flagler County sheriff’s volunteers (referred to as COPs, or Citizens Observer Patrol,” she mentioned.

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Palm Coast waterfront home ideal of sailboat owners

11 collingville front

A ceramic tile roof and new brick paver driveway highlight the front view of the house for sale at 11 Collingville Court in Palm Coast


Published: Saturday, December 20, 2014 at 11:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 20, 2014 at 11:10 p.m.

The Mediterranean-influenced ranch house for sale at 11 Collingville Court in Palm Coast is all about location and attention to detail.

“It’s unique in that it’s a tip lot, at the end of a cul-de-sac. It has two views of water, a canal and a lagoon that accesses the Intracoastal Waterway,” said Albert Esposito, the property’s listing agent. “The owner had the house built and it has all the bells and whistles.”

Esposito is the broker and co-owner of Albert O. Esposito & Associates real estate in Flagler Beach.

The house was built in 1996 on a one-third acre lot in the Palm Harbor area. It backs up onto a canal and one side faces a lagoon. There is a 40-foot-long dock in the back with electrical services. The area is good for sailboat owners, Esposito said, because there are no bridges or other obstacles along the waterways that lead to the Matanzas River.

The house has 3,279 square feet of living area. There are three bedrooms arranged in a split plan and three bathrooms. The third bathroom services the backyard pool.

The details begin with the newly replaced brick pavers in the driveway and extends to the wood floors and crown molding found throughout the house.

The house is entered through a double mahogany door with leaded glass. The foyer opens to the dining area, an office and the formal living room, all with bamboo floors.

The dining room includes a chandelier, built-in mirrored glass shelves, recessed lighting and a 15-foot-high ceiling.

The living room also has a vaulted ceiling and sliding doors that open to the pool area and provide views of the water.

Track lighting, a coffered ceiling, and a 13-foot-high built-in work and storage unit highlight the office.

The master suite also has a double entry door, a sliding door to the pool deck and lanai along with his and hers walk-in California closets.

A large shower with etched-glass door and walls, separate soaker tub, double vanities and a water closet with bidet highlight the master bathroom.

The living room has Bose surround sound with speakers throughout the house controlled by switches in each room and lanai. It also has a built-in entertainment center and a sliding door to the pool area.

The kitchen has cherry wood cabinets, custom DuPont Corian countertops, lighted plant shelves, an island with a sink and breakfast bar. A casual dining area just off the kitchen has mitered windows to provide pool and water views.

The pool area is screened and includes a summer kitchen and covered lanai. The pool has a Caretaker cleaning system and a new filter motor pump.

The three-vehicle garage includes electric screens, tiled floor, central vacuum system, wall cabinets/shelves, workbench, pull down stairs to a stand-up attic that has a floor and lights.

Additional features include central vacuum and security systems, pest tubes in the walls and a four-zone heating and air-conditioning system.

The property is listed for sale at $699,000.

For more information on this property, call Esposito at 386-439-5783.

On The Market features one-of-a-kind, custom homes for sale in the Volusia-Flagler area priced between $300,000 and $900,000. Realtors and brokers can email suggestions to

10 Home Remodeling Trends for 2015

By Scott Murfey

4:49 p.m.Dec. 19, 2014

As we close out another year, many of us look forward to the rejuvenated possibilities and fresh starts that a new year presents to us. One way that new opportunity might manifest itself is in giving some part of your house a make-over. In fact, according to the National Association of Home Builders, home remodeling is at an all-time high, and it’s anticipated that it will only continue to grow in 2015. Here are ten of the home remodeling trends that we anticipate to see a lot of in the coming year:

1. Cabinets: The trend here is definitely fresh and simple cabinets with a modern look and feel. As a more affordable option, some people are refinishing their existing cabinetry to try and achieve that updated feel.

2. Countertops: While beautiful and durable granite is still a favorite, there is another strong, nonporous material called Caesarstone that is quite popular. Caesarstone is a quartz composite (93% quartz) that is resistant to stains, scratches and heat, and also doesn’t need sealing. In comes in a wide variety of colors, uses recycled material, and is easy to clean.

3. Backsplashes: When using granite or Caesarstone countertops, a natural stone or tile mosaic backsplash is an excellent compliment. They add texture and an extra visual component. Many of the more modern kitchens are using a glass backsplash to finish off a clean, polished look.

4. Sinks: The most popular current trend in sinks right now is the deep, single bowl. While the single-bowl size is large enough to accommodate pots and pans, people are utilizing fitted strainers and dish drains to maintain the benefit of a double sink. As for materials, stainless and quartz composites are popular for the bowl, while satin nickel is still most popular for the fixtures.

5. Color: To create the sophisticated modern look in the kitchen that works well with the natural stone of countertops and backsplashes, we are seeing a lot of charcoal shades, along with black and white.

6. Bathrooms: This next year will see many people knocking down walls and expanding their bathrooms to create that luxurious spa environment. It will continue to be popular to either rip out the tub to build a large walk-in shower or create separate tub and shower areas altogether. Other popular upgrades include double vanities and separate water closets.

7. Flooring: Pre-finished wood flooring is a popular trend as it offers a durable finish, easy installation, and come in a variety of colors, designs and textures.

8. Universal Design: The idea of universal design is to create a home that is customized to accommodate everyone living in it. This includes kitchen and bath upgrades to increase functionality and in general, knocking down walls to create a roomier, open, communal living space.

9. Green homes: 2015 will continue to see homeowners opting for a living space that is free of toxins and chemicals. Additionally, people are also becoming more and more energy-conscious which is reflected in the move towards energy-efficient appliances, materials, and designs.

10. Outdoor space: Not only are we seeing all of the above upgrades and additions to the houses themselves, but this next year will continue to see a growing focus on the outdoor space. This includes outdoor fireplaces, livable-screened porches, and luxurious eating and socializing areas.

These are just a few of the trends that we anticipate seeing continue and expanding into 2015. If you are considering one of these or any other home remodel, please take advantage of our 40+ years or experience and visit us at

Energy Saving Tips



August 5, 2012

By making a few small changes to both your bedroom and routine, you can not only save energy but also reduce your utility bills, resulting in a more comfortable and energy efficient environment.


  • Unplug any battery chargers or power adapters when not in use.
  • Use inexpensive outlet gaskets to seal any holes around outlets.

Light Switches

  • Always turn off the lights when leaving the bedroom (or when it’s not in use).


  • Invest in electronics that are ENERGY STAR certified.
  • ENERGY STAR certified products use less energy without sacrificing quality or performance.
  • Learn more:
    • Consumer electronics account for 15% of household electricity usage.
    • Many electronic products continue to use energy even when switched off.
    • ENERGY STAR certified products conserve energy when switched off while still maintaining clock displays, channel settings and remote control functions.

Bedside Lamps

  • Replace light bulbs and fixtures with ENERGY STAR certified products.
  • Learn more:
    • Save up to $70 in annual energy costs by replacing your 5 most frequently used light bulbs or fixtures with ENERGY STAR certified ones.
    • ENERGY STAR certified compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) provide a high quality light, use less energy and last up to 10 times longer than standard incandescent light bulbs.
    • Choose from a wide range of attractive and stylish ENERGY STAR certified lamps and light fixtures.

Pledge to replace your current light fixtures and bulbs with ENERGY STAR certified ones.

Air Conditioner

  • ENERGY STAR certified air conditioners often include timers, allowing for better temperature control.
  • Conserve energy and save costs with an ENERGY STAR certified air conditioner, which uses a minimum amount of energy to cool your bedroom.
  • Learn more:
    • Make sure window-fitted A/C units fit snugly in the window frame, to prevent outside air from getting in.
    • Large window A/C units should be equipped with their own separate electrical circuits to avoid system overloads.
    • WINTER TIP: insulate A/C unit with a tight fitting unit cover (available from local hardware stores) that prevents heated air from escaping outside.
    • WINTER TIP: remove window A/C unit during winter months to prevent energy loss.
    • Ensure the A/C unit is the right size for the bedroom.

View our purchasing tips.


  • Caulk and weather-strip areas around doors and windows to prevent air leakage.
  • Replace window screens with storm windows during winter as an extra barrier against cold air.
  • Learn more:
    • ENERGY STAR certified windows can save you anywhere from $150-$500 annually in energy costs.
    • Cut drafts, increase home comfort and help preserve interior furnishings with properly installed ENERGY STAR certified windows.

Pledge to apply caulk and weather-stripping around windows and doors that leak air.

Air Register

  • Ensure vent connections and registers are well sealed at floors, walls and ceilings, which are all common areas for disconnected ducts and leakage.
  • Make sure all vents are clear of furniture and rugs in order to improve airflow and comfort.
  • Install heat resistant reflectors between radiators and walls to reflect heat back into the room instead of onto walls.


  • Close the flue damper when not in use to prevent air escaping from the house.
  • Learn more:
    • A chimney, by design, removes by-products from a fire by creating a draft, which also pulls away air (warm or cool) from your home.
    • As long as there’s a temperature difference between indoors and out, there will be a chimney draft even if there’s no fire in the fireplace.
    • By keeping the damper closed, air-conditioned or warmed air remains in the living space where it belongs.
    • Use a direct vent or sealed combustion gas log unit.

Ceiling Fan With Lighting

  • Depending on how they’re used, ceiling fans can help reduce energy costs while providing home comfort.
  • Learn more:
    • WINTER TIP: most ceiling fans have a switch allowing you to rotate the blades in reverse, creating a gentle updraft forcing warm air near the ceiling down into the living area.
    • In the summer, make sure your ceiling fan is blowing air downwards into the living area.
    • On hot days, turn up the thermostat by two degrees and use your ceiling fan to lower air conditioning costs by up to 14%.
    • Use low wattage compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) in the ceiling light fixture for cooler light bulbs and greater energy savings.
    • Turn off the ceiling fan when you leave the room; fans only cool people, not rooms.

Flagler chamber urges support for Hammock Beach hotel project


Published: Friday, December 19, 2014 at 4:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 19, 2014 at 5:04 p.m.

The Flagler County Chamber of Commerce is taking its role as an advocate for local businesses to a new level.

The business organization, along with the Flagler Home Builders Association and the Hammock Business Association, is lobbying Flagler County commissioners to approve the development proposal from Salamander Hotels and Resorts to build a 198-room hotel and conference center on its property in the Hammock.

The proposed hotel would be built on the current site of the Lodge at Hammock Beach Resort, which includes the Atlantic Grille restaurant.

Earlier this month, the Flagler County Planning and Development Board denied a request from the developer to reclassify the property, which would have allowed the $72-million project to move forward, by a 3-2 vote.

Salamander Hotels’ plan has met resistance from some Hammock residents who claim the hotel project would remove more than 1,000 scrub oaks and include a golf cart path on the dunes.

Flagler County commissioners are scheduled to consider the issue at a meeting Jan. 12 beginning at 5 p.m. in the Government Services Building, 1769 E. Moody Blvd., Bunnell.

Now, leaders of the local business groups are asking members and residents to write letters in support of the project to be delivered by the chamber to all five county commissioners.

The move is part of the chamber’s overall effort to play a more active role in local politics, said Rebecca DeLorenzo, the chamber’s president.

DeLorenzo said over the past two years the chamber has “stepped back” from organizing big community events to focus on programs for members and sponsoring events “that benefit our members.”

That new effort includes the promotion of chamber staffer Gretchen Smith to the newly created position of director of government affairs and the chamber’s more active role in advocacy on local issues.

The move to lobby county commissioners on behalf of the Salamander Hotels project is a direct result of that new focus, DeLorenzo said.

“We wanted to step up our advocacy effort on behalf of our businesses so this is just a good example of how we are doing it,” she said.

Part of the change is a reflection of the rapid growth Flagler County has experienced over the past decade, she said.

“Years ago we were a much smaller community and things could be handled differently,” DeLorenzo said. “Now it definitely takes the chamber’s leadership role to stand up and advocate for businesses.”

The decision to actively and publicly support a local issue is also something new for the Flagler Home Builders Association, according to executive officer Debi Peterson.

“This is unusual that our board did make this known that they were supporting it,” Peterson said Friday.

But she said the homebuilder group has always been an advocate for growth and development.

“We do support anything that is going to improve, or at least retain, the current economy we have,” Peterson said.

Peterson said in the case of the Salamander Hotels project, the decision to publicly support the plan is “a no brainer.”

“They are trying to improve an already standing project that can have a great potential benefit to the economy of Flagler County,” she said.

Palm Coast business weathers economy’s ups and downs

Palm Coast business weathers economy’s ups and downs

In the summer of 2005, as the actual estate bubble was about to burst, Toni and Richard Rubin opened Coconut Island, a clothing and accessory shop in the European Village complicated on Palm Harbor Parkway.

Toni Rubin, appropriate, co-owner of Coconut Island in the European Village complex, with her daughter, Jessica.

In the practically 10 years because then, the couple has observed the economy’s ups and downs, as nicely as adjustments — superior and negative — inside the 11-acre retail complex at the west end of the Hammock Dunes Bridge.

“We’ve been right here considering that Day 1,” Toni Rubin mentioned. “We had been one particular of the initial retail shops that opened right here.”

Rubin recalled those early days fondly, when the retail and condominium complex was new and there was a lot of excitement about the development.

“In the beginning, it was so flourishing,” she said. “It entirely looked like Downtown Disney.”

Considering that then, the actual estate industry collapsed, sending Palm Coast from the major of the list of quickest-expanding cities in the nation to a spot as a poster youngster for the housing bust and Fantastic Recession.

All the while, the Rubins, along with their daughter, Jessica, kept hard at work establishing the business enterprise and creating relationships with loyal prospects.

Toni Rubin stated the couple moved to Palm Coast from South Florida, where they owned a lighting and household accessory organization.

“When we came up here, we wanted to do a thing enjoyable,” she mentioned.

One particular of the factors that makes Coconut Island exciting, she said, is the relationships she has created with buyers.

“It’s extra individual, which I adore,” she said. “I have made lots of mates in this company.”

Another difference involving the lighting and home accessory business the Rubins left and Coconut Island is the items they sell.

“It alterations a lot additional than lighting did,” mentioned Jessica Rubin. “With clothes and jewelry, it changes each and every three months. It’s unquestionably extra exciting. We get new products each and every day.”

Toni Rubin mentioned current changes at European village — such as new landscaping, improvements to the gazebo in the central court area and some new restaurants — have helped bring more shoppers to the retail complicated. But there are nonetheless some things she would like to see modify.

“Our most significant issue is the city not letting us have signs,” she said, referring to the inability of company owners to place indicators on the exterior of the building facing Palm Harbor Parkway.

“People nonetheless to this day go over the bridge and say they by no means knew we have been right here.”

But Toni Rubin said the enterprise has a lot of loyal clients, each full-time residents and snowbirds. And with the economy enhancing, she is optimistic about the future. A lot of that optimism comes from holiday shoppers.

“It’s been a quite fantastic holiday season,” she stated. “We’re beginning to see a plus alternatively of just hanging on.”

Rubin said she knows a lot of other organizations in the city have not fared as effectively over the previous couple of years.

“We have been one of the fortunate ones to be capable to hang in there,” she said. “That’s for the reason that we are household run.”

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