`Free Ride` launches on Fleming Island

December 18, 2014 CLAY TODAY 19
‘Free Ride’ launches
on Fleming Island
FLEMING ISLAND – After a night out on
the town, getting home without taking a
risk of driving impaired is something
left up to the individual. With no cab service available here,
some might be more
inclined to drive
home, but Todd Carlson doesn’t like that.
“Most DUIs are
Adam Canni
within three miles of
home and on Fleming Island, we don’t
have a cab company.
So, people think ‘OK,
we live two miles
away,’ so we do what
everyone else does –
we roll the dice and
drive home,” Carlson
Todd Carlson
To help cut down
on impaired driving and promote public
safety, Carlson and his business partner,
Adam Canni, have started a nonprofit to offer free transportation on Fleming Island to
nearby residents. Along with Whitey’s Fish
Camp, Taps Bar and Grille, the Island Life
Grill and Brick Oven Pizza & Gastropub,
Take a Free Ride began the first weekend
of December. The bus offers free pick-up
and drop-off at all four locations and any
residence on Fleming Island. So, anyone
who wants to go to one or more of the restaurants can get there from home for free,
as well as rotate between the restaurants
and if one drives at the beginning of the
evening and shouldn’t drive home, the bus
will take people home.
“The only way to hit all the locations is
to limit it to Fleming Island. Most people
party near where they live and local businesses will support local initiatives like
this,” Carlson said.
Because his company is a nonprofit,
the advertising he sells on the bus and his
company website takeafreeride.org now go
toward funding the transit service. Carlson
said he is awaiting to hear about federal approval for the company’s nonprofit status.
Until then, it remains a Florida nonprofit.
One sponsor – Whitey’s Fish Camp – said
Take A Free Ride gives people more incentive to come to frequent the restaurant and
not worry about having a good time. The
owner of Whitey’s Fish Camp said she likes
the increased opportunity for her patrons
to drink responsibly and come back again
knowing everyone can be safe.
“We hope it will generate business and
also ensure people will have a good time
and being safe while doing it,” Elaine Cassala said. “We’re excited about the bus because it will have a positive impact on the
community and on the businesses included
in the effort.”
When Carlson observed the lack of safe
transportation, he began started talking to
bar owners and discovered employees had,
on occasion, driven patrons home.
power plants, they may not make as much money for their
shareholders. But shouldn’t the public be served with fair
policies for their power?
By Mike Ford
Staff Writer
from page 18
ers to keep the polluting chemicals that
they are mixing with the water a secret.
The customers pay the bill for this exploration and environmental ruin. The irony
here is that all this irreparable damage
to Florida’s fragile ecosystems to extract
gas and oil would be totally unnecessary
if the companies just switched to solar.
There has to be a way to organize the
solar effort so that it works for the power companies. Instead of building more
power plants or searching for more fuel,
they could manage a grid of solar panels:
1) that they install and own,
2) that they install on roofs and lease
out to businesses or individuals, and
3) by putting privately owned panels on
the grid with 2-way meters. If these utility companies don’t get to charge their
customers for mining operations and new
“That’s a liability issue, so I thought
‘well, what if I buy a bus and you sponsor it
with ads,’” he said. “On our first weekend,
we prevented 100 people from driving intoxicated on Fleming Island.”
Carson would also like to get advocacy
organizations, such as Mothers Against
Drunk Driving involved and offer presentations in schools with machines that
simulate drunk driving behind the wheel
of a car. Such a machine features a video
screen and steering wheel, but this would
be something for the long-term.
“My goal is to reach every Clay County
high school kid with a message about the
dangers of drunk driving with simulators.
I would need to raise money for that but
it would make it fun and more impactful
than lecturing or showing them gruesome
pictures,” he said.
The bus will run until 2:30 a.m. on the
Issue No. 2 – Amendment 1, funding of the
Land Acquisition Trust Fund
Seventy-five percent of Florida voters passed this
amendment, which as close to a mandate as we get around
here. Do not gut the will of the people to preserve more
of the Real Florida. Everyone knows that tourism is our
largest job creator, but tourists are not going to come to
our state to visit a dried up spring, a polluted river cover
with green slime or to see yet another abandoned shopping center. So please use the money as mandated and not
for sewer systems that would allow even more development as one legislator suggested. Please don’t undo other
environmental funding either because this money is again
available. This is for new projects and maintenance of existing open lands.
Ginny Stibolt is a botanist and garden writer who
lives in Clay County. She’s written “Sustainable Gardening for Florida” and “Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida.” Check out her blog, www.
days when it runs, which will be dictated
by when patrons tend to most-use the businesses involved.
“We are running when the restaurants and bars are busy, which currently
is Thursday through Saturday from happy
hour to close and on Sunday afternoons until after NFL games finish up. We also run
during special events and work with Whitey’s, Taps, Island Life and Brick Oven to
determine every month if we are running
any additional days. We post it all on our
calendar on our website, which is a good
listing of those four combined restaurants
event calendars” he said.
Carlson has his sights set beyond Clay
County. In the coming year, he hopes to
expand to Jacksonville’s Riverside and San
Marco areas, then Atlantic Beach and St.
Augustine, with a goal of then taking Take
A Free Ride national.
Business In Brief
Allstate agent
earns ‘premier’
MIDDLEBURG – A Middleburg
insurance agent has been honored
as a business leader and involved
citizen in the Clay County community of Middleburg.
named agency owner Felisha Foote
Felisha Foote
2014, which
is awarded to less than 48 percent
of Allstate’s nearly 10,000 agency
owners across the country. This
designation is being presented to
Foote for her outstanding business performance and commitment to putting customers at the
center of her agency’s work.
“The Premier Agency designation is not just about Felisha’s successful business results,” said Regional Sales Leader Bob Jackson.
“The honor also demonstrates her
commitment in being accessible to
customers and using her knowledge to help ensure customers
have the insurance products they
need to protect themselves and
their family.”
Foote’s agency is located at
2640 Blanding Blvd., Ste. 206 in