By Kevin Harris, 12-6-22
Newly elected County Commissioners A.M. “Hupp” Huppman (District 2) and Alyson R. McCullough (District 4) were sworn in as the first order of new business during last Monday’s (11-28-22) County Board of Commissioners Meeting. A new Chair and Vice-Chair were also elected, while lower boards and committees were discussed, with a few of those committee head and volunteer vacancies nominated and confirmed.
Huppman retired from the Navy in 2004, after serving onboard three submarines, and two carrier-based combat deployments supporting operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. He was also a general manager of a saloon, a Civil Service employee with the Navy and a small business owner from 2014-2022. Most recently, Hupp was a member of the FOAR FROM HOME all veteran ocean rowing team from Amelia Island, which completed a three-year challenge to raise awareness and resources to fight veteran suicide and PTSD-related issues. Their and other teams rowed all the way across the Atlantic Ocean.
He is married to Lori Huppman, a retired respiratory therapist, and the couple has two adult sons, one an Air Force Captain based in Georgia. Hupp is also well-known as the leader of a local band which plays music gigs all over the region.
McCullough was raised in Nassau County, and now resides on a farm in Hilliard with her husband and four children. Her vast work experience began at age 15, ranging from the restaurant business to logistics for UPS to school sports coach. She has also been an educator in Nassau County for more than 10 years, where she has won “teacher of the Year” accolades at least three times.
After the new commissioners were sworn in, the board quickly moved on to “Item B” under the “New Business” part of the meeting agenda – nominating and electing the new Chair and Vice-Chair for the Board. Current Chairman Jeff Gray nominated County Commissioner Klynt Farmer to be Chair for 2023 and County Commissioner John Martin to serve as Vice Chair.
Martin seconded the nomination. Members voted unanimously in favor of the nominations.
Chairman Gray: “I want to give everyone an opportunity to sit at the Chairman’s role, because it’s an honor to serve the citizens of Nassau County as Chairman… I have great confidence in both of you all as leaders.”
County Attorney Denise May spoke on Item C, which focused on meeting schedules and procedures. The one item worth mentioning centered on Zoom Meetings. According to May, such meetings are not allowed under Florida law but took place during the pandemic due to an executive order by Governor DeSantis. That EO expired at the end of 2021.
County Attorney May: “Participation using Zoom and technologies similar is problematic from a hearing perspective, from a due process perspective, clerks can not see who they’re swearing in – they can not affirm the identity of who may be speaking… For these reasons, Zoom will not be available for any board meetings going forward.”
It’s important to point out, however, that the attorney was referring to citizens and commissioners participating in board meetings as opposed to watching meetings. The Board voted to adopt all elements of Item C.
Next was Item D), to review lower committees and boards. However, most of the representatives/volunteers are currently appointed in positions that don’t expire until early 2023 or after, so no immediate debate was needed. The few vacant positions were considered and fulfilled. Only boards/committees with changes made during the meeting are mentioned:
Code Enforcement Board:
Harold “Skip” Frey to replace Dist 4 Representative Mimi Vitale. Motion made and approved.
Conditional Use and Variance Board:
Donald Walker to fill Dist 4 vacancy. Motion made and approved.
Planning and Zoning Board:
Robert “Shane” Petty to replace PZB Dist 4 Rep Barry Holloway.
Baylee Franklin to replace PZB Dist 4 at-large Rep Wayne Arnold.
(these would take effect Jan. 1, 2023). Motion made and approved.
Item E was similar to the previous meeting item in that only some of the boards/committees were dealt with – the ones with vacancies that required immediate filling. These are Commissioner appointments to outside boards and committees:
Amelia Island Tourism Development Council: Motion made to have Commissioner Martin be the Rep for this council. Motion made and approved.
Florida Fire Watch Liaison: Motion made for Commissioner Martin to continue on in position (he agreed to stay). Motion made and approved.
Canvassing Board: (lead and alternate needed)
Motion made to have Commissioner Huppman to this board as lead. Motion made and approved.
Motion made to have Commissioner McCullough to serve as alternate to this board. Motion made and approved.
Northeast Florida Regional Council:
Motion made to have Commissioner Martin continue on with this council – he said he wants to do so. Motion made and approved.
ADA Advisory Committee:
Motion made for Commissioner Huppman be appointed – he volunteered for the position. Motion made and approved.
Economic Development Board:
Commissioner McCullough volunteered for the position. Motion made. Motion made and approved.
Essential Housing Advisory Committee:
Commissioner Huppman volunteered for position. Motion made and approved.
Nassau County Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board:
Commissioner Gray nominated. Motion made and approved.
Value Adjustment Board:
Commissioner Farmer nominated. Motion made and approved.
Commissioner Gray nominated as 2nd member. Motion made and approved.
Small County Coalition of Florida:
Commissioners Martin and Huppman were nominated for this board, considered an important position for a small Florida County. Motion made and approved.
North Florida Transportation Planning Organization TPO:
Commissioner Farmer nominated. Motion made and approved.
Saint Mary’s River Management Committee:
Commissioner McCullough nominated. Motion made and approved.
The meeting was adjourned shortly after the completion of Item E. The next County Board of Commissioners Meeting is scheduled for Monday, December 12, 2022, to be held at the James S. Page Governmental Complex, 96135 Nassau Place Yulee, FL 32097.
Kevin Harris is a reporter, editor and journalist, previous President of Cal State
Northridge’s Society of Professional Journalists, having worked for the LA Times and
Newhall Signal. He is now also a musician and videographer, and splits his time living
outside of Salt Lake City, Ventura County, CA, and South Florida.