Dettra Out At St. Augustine

Ryan Dettra, who was suspended and reinstated as GM of the St. Augustine Amphitheatre in Florida over a series of e-mails with county officials earlier this year, is out again. St. Johns County reportedly fired Dettra after another e-mail flap broke out Dec. 1.

A dispute over the timing of a press release resulted in a flurry of e-mail between Dettra, parks and recreation director Troy Blevins, public information specialist Karen Pan and assistant county administrator Jerry Cameron.

Dettra was fired Dec. 3 after sending an e-mail accusing Blevins of being “a problem,” according to documents reported by the St. Augustine Record. The county reportedly claims that Dettra’s e-mail failed to comply with a performance improvement plan he was to follow during a six-month probation.

The e-mail in question was part of a debate over timing of a press release regarding the recently opened Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. In it, Dettra accused Pan of not coordinating releases with him and Blevins of not communicating.

“The lack of communication is increasingly becoming a problem,” Dettra reportedly wrote. “Next time please communicate with staff so we do not duplicate efforts.”

Pan told the Record the e-mail alone was grounds for Dettra’s termination. For his part, Dettra told the paper he believes he is working in an “abusive situation as an employee” and county officials are looking for an excuse.

“They were just looking for a reason to end it,” Dettra told the paper. “I was cut out of daily communication at my job. I broke protocol by copying a county commissioner, but I was frustrated and wanted someone to stand up for us.”

Dettra was placed on administrative leave June 11 after openly criticizing the county administrator and other employees about funding of the Ponte Vedre venue. He was soon reinstated but placed on probation. His termination comes just one week shy of the six-month mark.

He didn’t wait long to announce his plans, however. Dettra told the Record he has resumed ownership of Café 11, a restaurant and music venue on St. Augustine Beach that he owned before taking the gig with the county nearly four years ago. Café 11’s owners stopped paying rent and closed it down.

Dettra took over, and says he is restoring it to “what it used to be.” He hopes to reopen within a month.