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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Springs Project Springs Forward

Bill Stanton and the J.C.D.C. are putting all of the pieces together for another jobs creating industry to locate here

By Sid Riley

At the Tuesday evening meeting of the Jackson County Commission, Bill Stanton, Director of the Jackson County Development Council made a presentation to the Commissioners relating to an industrial prospect that is about to purchase the Russell/West Point Distribution Center facility at the Marianna Airport Industrial Park. The project has aptly been named the "Springs Project", since the new business will install a state of the art bottling plant for bottling of water for sale to various customers, including FEMA and Family Dollar.
The company will be investing $14.8 million dollars for purchase of the facility, installation of the bottling equipment, and required modifications and improvements. Of this, Stanton is requesting the creation of a $10,000,000 industrial revenue bond using the authority of the county for this purpose. The company has a very sound financial structure and these bonds have already been purchased by a large, international financial institution upon issue, so there is absolutely no risk to the county in the transaction. The company will retire the bond over a specified period.
The new plant would initially create 31 well paying jobs, with future expansion to 100 jobs. A significant gain in county taxes will be realized from this project. The plant will consume approximately 100,000 gallons of water per day from the one million capacity well at the airport park. This is about the same volume of water now used by the Federal Corrections Institution at the airport.
Stanton is also working diligently to obtain block grants from the State for the purpose of needed road construction and expansion of the building. The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the request made by Stanton.

Political Forum for Marianna Police Chief Candidates Is Scheduled For April 3rd

This will be a great opportunity for the voters in Marianna to meet the candidates now competing for job as Chief of Police
By Sid Riley

There are three candidates competing for the job that will soon be vacated by Lou Roberts as he runs for Sheriff of Jackson County. Hayes Baggett, Don Bland, and Virgil Watson are all announced candidates hoping to become the next Chief of Police in Marianna.
On April 3, just days before the final election on April 8, there will be a special public event held to give the residents of Marianna a chance to meet these candidates face to face. A political forum will be held at the new Marianna High School Auditorium at 6:30 PM. This event will be sponsored by Chipola Television (CTV-4), the Jackson County NAACP, and the Jackson County Times. The format will be similar to the format planned for the more expansive county and state candidates forums scheduled for August.
Royce Reagan will serve as moderator, and a three member panel will present pre-prepared questions to the candidates. The panel will consist of a designated representative from the NAACP, Sheriff John McDaniel, and Sid Riley. This event will be a great opportunity for the voters in the city to evaluate these candidates prior to casting votes on April 8. Plan to attend.

Jackson County Times LAUNCHES NEW WEB SITE
Jackson County News Stories Now Available In "Virtual" Paper

By Sid Riley

Our readers can now enjoy the latest news on a new web site that provides most of the content of each issue, historical issues, and current events in Jackson County. The address of this exciting new feature is:
Along with the current and historical news stories, readers will find access to stories about our community and local attractions, local businesses and services, and a huge offering of photographs taken as we covered events around the county. Also, you can subscribe to receive our regular paper via mail while visiting the new site.
We hope that you will use and enjoy this new news service.
Jackson County Times
and the Internet
While across the nation many newspapers are experiencing a steady decline in circulation as readers turn to other sources for their daily news. This is not the case for the Jackson County Times. Since our paper prints only local, Jackson County news and does not print any state, national or international news, our circulation is steadily growing. There is no other place for readers to get the level of in-depth local news that our paper provides.
This means that the Jackson County Times is the best way for local advertisers to reach the local market. We are now adding to the scope of local news coverage by providing a live, "virtual" newspaper on the internet that follows the local format of our regular printed paper. We recognize the internet as the technology of tomorrow for the news industry, and we want to embrace this technology today for our readers and advertisers. We encourage you to visit our website often.

Godfrey Lawrence Is Still Young At Heart

Local Man Exemplifies National Heart Month Theme

By Sid Riley

Godfrey Lawrence, a lifelong Grand Ridge resident, is an amazing man who has lived an amazing life. How many people do you know who are master aircraft mechanics? How many people do you know who have spent a lifetime flying a variety of aircraft, including Lear jets, to locations all over the world? How many seventy four year old men do you know who have had a twenty year old heart beating strongly in their chest for over eight years? Truly Amazing!
Godfrey Lawrence was born in Grand Ridge, graduated from Grand Ridge High School, attended Chipola, served four years in the U. S. Navy Air Force as an aircraft mechanic, and then returned to Grand Ridge to work with his Dad in their service station on highway 90. He married Thelma Robinson, a local girl who grew up in Malone and then graduated from Sneads High School. They celebrated their fiftieth anniversary last year.
Godfrey and Thelma had three children. They lost their first child, Teresa, to leukemia when she was only four years old. They have two other adult children, a daughter Lisa Burdeshaw who has two children, and a son, Ricky, who has one child. Both reside in Jackson County.
As a young man, Lawrence went to work as a civilian aircraft mechanic at Graham Air Base. After the closure of the base in the mid 1960’s he returned to the family business in Grand Ridge to work with his father. Eventually, he went to work for Harold Foran as part of the charter flying business which operated for many years at the Marianna Airport. During these years Godfrey earned his Lear Jet certification and flew to locations all over the world as a charter pilot.
If you want to hear some interesting flying stories just stop by and chat with Godfrey some free afternoon. He might tell you of flying "mysterious packages" from Las Vegas to banks in Grand Cayman, or of flying with no navigation aids at night into the mountain top airport in Guatemala City.
It was during the height of his flying career in 1985 that Godfrey began to have heart problems. He noticed a shortness of breath, lack of stamina, and frequent chest pains. He finally had heart imaging performed which disclosed an 80% blockage of his main artery. A stint was inserted at this time. Two years later, in 1987 he suffered a massive heart attack which destroyed the lower half of his heart.
The next two years are a horror story of stints, more stints, defibulators, and declining health. Through it all Godfrey kept on working, doing aircraft repairs and flying as a co-pilot every chance he got. The worse part of the story came when he had a battery (defibulator) change in Tallahassee that led to a staph infection that almost killed him. At the last moment he rushed to Jacksonville where he had to spend four hospitalized months fighting the dreaded infection.
Finally, his pastor at the Providence Baptist Church, Brother Butler, told him of a friend and heart surgeon at Atlanta’s Emory Hospital, who performed heart transplants. By this time a desperate and dying Godfrey Lawrence was willing to take any path of hope. He went to Atlanta where a battery of tests was performed to determine his condition and eligibility for transplant. At the last moment they discovered he was not a resident of Georgia. Godfrey refused to move to Georgia in order to be eligible, so he returned to Grand Ridge, still a sick but proud Florida resident.
Then Dr. Williams in Tallahassee informed him of a similar program at the University of Florida Hospital in Gainesville. He next went to Gainesville and had the same battery of tests and evaluation performed there. He was deemed to be eligible, but was told he would have to wait many weeks before a heart was found and his turn at the table arrived.
While he was waiting in Gainesville for a heart to be found he had frequent telephone conversations with Harold Foran in Marianna, who called every time he had a charter flight to carry a heart somewhere and he would jokingly say to Godfrey, "I’m on my way to get your heart!", and Godfrey would jokingly reply, "Bring that thing on down, I’m ready and waiting!"
This routine was repeated several times until September 29, 1999 after two months of waiting in Gainesville, when Harold Foran again called and said "I’m on my way to get your heart!", and Godfrey gave his usual reply…..only this time it really was his new heart that Foran was flying to Gainesville.
Although Godfrey has never actually verified the source of the heart, he was told that a young, nineteen year old boy had been killed in a jet ski accident in Pensacola, and the family had agreed to use his strong, young, heart as a donor heart for some needy fellow human being. That fortunate person was Godfrey Lawrence.
The transplant was a success. After another period of horror from the effects of needed drugs and painful physical therapy, Lawrence was finally able to return to the place he loves the most- his home in Grand Ridge. The transplanted heart has now been in his body for eight and a half years, and he has returned to a normal life for a man his age. In fact, his life today is more active than for most men his age.
He still maintains private aircrafts for several local flyers. He still pilots every chance he gets. Last spring he and Thelma went on a bus tour all the way to Alaska, which he proclaims was one of the most enjoyable trips he ever took. He builds model planes, and fishes when they are biting.
The next time you are driving into Grand Ridge, just as you reach the four lane section heading East on Highway 90, look to your right. There you will surprisingly see a grass landing strip which is affectionately called by locals "Godfrey Lawrence International" airport. If you turn in and go to the hangar in back, you will probably find Godfrey flat of his back under an airplane happily working away.
Godfrey has requested for the Jackson County Times to encourage all of our readers to please register as organ donors when they renew their driver’s licenses. His story is a true life example of the impact that taking time to make the choice to be a donor can have on another person’s life.
The Godfrey Lawrence Story is a tribute to this month’s medical theme "National Heart Month". He continues to be a great asset to our local community. Like a durable Timex watch, Godfrey just "keeps on ticking"!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Danny Sims Will Run To Retain Position

Superintendent will run for third term
By Sid Riley
Danny Sims has just announced his intention to ask the voters of Jackson County to allow him to serve as their Superintendent of Schools for another four years. " I am proud of what we have accomplished in upgrading our county’s school systems during my tenure as Superintendent, and I want to continue this important work for another four years", Sims proudly states. "We have built a great organization and a smooth running system".
Danny Sims was born and raised in Jackson County. He graduated from Marianna High School in the class of 1972. He is married to Pam McGill-Sims, a Jackson County girl. They have four sons, all of whom attended Marianna High.
After high school, Danny attended Chipola College, where he earned an AA degree. He then received his Bachelors Degree in Education from West Florida University, followed by a Masters in Education from Troy State. He then obtained his Educational Specialist Degree from Florida State.
During his first two terms in the office of Superintendent of Schools, Sims feels that among the most notable accomplishments were the construction and opening of the beautiful new Marianna High School facility, raising the salaries of teachers by 35% over the past five years in order to make our school system more attractive to qualified individuals, implementing the classroom size reductions ahead of state requirements, and maintaining a program that is financially sound. He states that even though times of reduced funding appear to be ahead, the school system in Jackson County is in solid financial condition and should make it through the period without having to slow down the pace of continuing improvements.
In his next term Sims plans to introduce programs to help faltering students catch up on basic educational needs, and to increase emphasis on vocational preparation of students that are not necessarily college bound. At the same time, the programs for advanced students will be encouraged. These include such programs as the Honors Program, Dual College Enrollment, and Early Enrollment, as well as in-school college courses.
"There is much work remaining to be done to help our students succeed," Sims states, "I sincerely hope that the voters of Jackson County will let me continue leading our progress."

Commissioner Branch Wants To Clarify Position On Administration Building

Commissioner Wants Financial Data Before Making Decision

By Sid Riley

Commissioner Jeremy Branch stopped by the Jackson County Times offices on Monday in order to clarify his stated position concerning the advisability of proceeding with the construction of the proposed county administration building as discussed at the conclusion of last Tuesday’s board meeting. He provided documentation as to his exact statements made at that session.
During the discussion of the matter at the meeting, Branch clearly stated he was in favor of doing due diligence in order to assure the projected county finances were adequate enough to provide the needed funding for payout of the loan required for the construction. He also emphasized he felt that it was the responsibility of the Commissioners to be progressive in looking forward and meeting the future infrastructure requirements of the County.
Since he made this last remark immediately after Commissioner Spires had stated he felt the commission should be progressive and we should proceed with the project, this led to the interpretation that he, too was promoting continuing with the project. This appears to not necessarily be the case.
Branch states he now wants to engage in further investigation and analysis of options before reaching his final decision.

Marianna City Manager’s Chair Will Now Occupied By Jim Dean

By Sid Riley
Marianna now officially has a new City Manager. The position was vacated when Louie Harris left the position in early January to fill a new job with Chipola College. Since that time the city commissioners have been engaged in an extensive search for a qualified replacement. On Thursday, February 14 they unanimously agreed on a final selection after evaluating numerous candidates. They offered the position to James Dean, a Marianna resident. This week he officially announced to the Jackson County Times his acceptance of the offer.
Dean will officially take the chair and office reserved for the City Manager on March 24. This will occur after he has completed a thirty day notification period for his current employer, the USDA. He is the Area Director for the USDA at this time.
Jim was raised in Marianna, and attended Marianna High School where he graduated with the class of 1977. He is the son of "Sonny" and "Sammie" Dean of Marianna. His father worked as the Marianna Public Safety Director during the 1970’s, and on occasion filled in as interim City Manager. He later worked with the Sheriff’s Department as an investigator. It is appropriate that his son now is about to fill that same chair.
After graduation from high school, Jim attended Chipola for one year and then enlisted in the US Marine Corps.While serving in the Marine Corps he obtained his Bachelors degree from Florida A & M University. He then obtained his Masters degree in Business Administration from Webster College in St. Louis, Missouri.
Jim Dean is married to the former Tammy Johnson of Grand Ridge. They have three children, all of whom attended Marianna High School. A daughter Jessie, 23, lives in Marianna and works at "Talk of the Town". Another daughter, Lu Ann, 21, is attending the University of West Florida at Chipola, and their son Brian, 18, is a senior at Marianna High School.
" I am very excited about this opportunity to serve the people of Marianna," Dean stated. Two very important issues, acknowledged by the City Commission, that need to be addressed in the coming years are improvements to city infrastructure, and potential areas of annexation. I see this opportunity as both challenging and exciting."
We at the Jackson County Times welcome Jim to his new position, and wish him great success.

“Slinging String” - A Cowboy’s Lingo

by Shawna Ferguson

While some students are dribbling down the court, or batting in a cage, there are some who prefer slinging string. Slinging string refers to those who like to chase a steer down the pen at 30 miles per hour on the back of a horse while simultaneously twirling the perfect loop over their head.
This is done in hopes of getting their horse as close to the steer without passing him up in order to get this perfect loop over the steer’s horns. This cowboy is referred to as the header. Then their partner performs a similar task at the other end of this same steer, but this guy is trying to deliver a perfect loop capturing both of its heels. This cowboy is referred to as the heeler. Too make matters even more interesting they are trying to do it faster than the next team. Times can be anywhere from 3.3 seconds to 20.0 plus seconds. It all depends on the talent of the
cowboys, their mounts, and the luck of the draw.
The draw is referring to the steer. Some times these rascals will come out of the chute and hit the brakes. Other times they will run like their tails are on fire. A cowboy never knows what he will get and has to be ready for whatever comes his way.
There are many different associations a roper can compete in and there are always the local jackpots. This too depends on the roper’s ability, willingness to travel and expenses. One of the biggest associations is the United States Team Roping Association and its smaller affiliate, the National Team Roping Association (NTRL). These associations are for any gender and any age. There is the National High School Rodeo Association for students in grades 9-12, for both boys and girls. This association is not just for team roping, but most events that you might see in a local rodeo.
Just a few months ago Cody Ferguson competed at his second NTRL. Cody is a sophomore and Honor Student at Malone High School. He placed 3rd in a #11 roping in Live Oak, FL on December 29th and 30th. Ropers have to rope with the same partner and catch all 3 steers to make it to the short go. They can enter each roping up to 4 times but cannot rope with the same partner more than once. Cody, who is a header, roped with Derrick Davis of Hilliard,FL who is a heeler. This is the first time Cody had roped with Derrick and this combination split the winnings of $750. This qualified them both for the NTRL finals that was held in Jacksonville, FL January 30th through February 3rd.
There is a song by Trent Willmon titled The Roping Pen, which refers to the roping pen as a place where life lessons are learned such as sportsmanship and responsibility. The camaraderie and family atmosphere of the roping pen is unique. A roper might have a horse that is recovering from an injury and not have a back up mount. On more than one occasion a fellow competitor has been known to gladly loan their own horse even if they are competing against one another in the same division. It isn’t unheard of for there to be a charity roping for a fellow cowboy who has been injured and the money is raised on his behalf. A common denominator among most roping pens is genuine support, friendship and fellowship. As one of Trent’s most popular songs among ropers goes….. "Most of life’s problems you can probably solve them, down at the roping pen"

"Final Four" For Judgeship Named

By Sid Riley
Nomination Committee Forwards Selection To Governor Crist
At our press time Matt Fuqua who is one of the members of the governor’s committee for the selection of a new judge to fill the position that will be created when Judge Hess steps down next month, has released the names of the remaining four candidates for the new job. Local Judge Smiley will move back to Panama City to fill the seat occupied by Judge Hess, so the opening will be for the position in the local circuit.
The four approved candidates are Larry Basford, Brantley Clark, David House, and Joe Brammar. Governor Crist will now make the final decision.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Reader Expresses Thanks To Jackson County Times

Dear Editor:
Today I’m sitting in the oncologist office in Dothan. I am waiting to schedule my chemotherapy appointments which will last approximately six months. Hopefully the chemotherapy treatments will be the last thing I have to do to get rid of the cancer in my body. My reason for writing this letter is to say thank you for the article pertaining to breast cancer awareness that ran in your paper in October, 2007.
I have had mammograms for the last five years, but never made a practice of doing self -exams regularly. When I picked up your paper on October 18, 2007 and read the article about breast cancer, I decided to do a self-exam and discovered a lump in my breast. I called my doctor the next day and was scheduled for a diagnostic mammogram the following Thursday. On that Thursday, after the mammogram, I had a sonogram and biopsy. My family doctor’s nurse called me the following Monday and advised me the lump was a non-invasive cancer. On finding this out I requested a surgeon at the University of Alabama Birmingham to perform the surgery. I had been given the surgeon’s name by a friend back in February and my friend had advised me the surgeon was one of the best breast cancer surgeons in the United States. Back in February God had prepared me for what would happen in October. After further testing at UAB they discovered three more malignant tumors measuring over two centimeters each; three in the left breast and one in the right breast. On December 4, 2007 I had surgery at UAB.
If I had not performed the self-exam my chances of survival would have been considerably less. The last mammogram I had was, December 6, 2006, 10 months prior to finding the lump in my breast. The report from that mammogram said there were no areas of concern found.
So, please accept my greatest appreciation for possibly saving my life with the article in October, 2007. Also let me stress to all the ladies that may read this, please do your self-exams regularly. It could truly save your life.
JoAnn Truette
Marianna, Fl.
(Editor’s Note: This letter is an example of what makes working at a newspaper so rewarding!)

Darron Perry Now Has Two Complaints Against County

By Sid Riley

Roads and Bridges Employee Complains About Harassment From Fellow Employees

Darron Perry appeared before the Jackson County Commission at their Tuesday, February 12, 2008 meeting to bring forward a second complaint to the forum related to work place harassment from other county employees. The issues began when fellow equipment operator Johnny Woods allegedly referred to the Martin Luther King holiday in a manner that was verbally abusive in the presence of Darron Perry. Perry entered a formal complaint against Woods for his statement.
The matter was forwarded to County Administrator, Ted Lakey who conducted an investigation and determined that Woods did make the statement in the presence of Perry and other witnesses. As a result, Woods was given a two day suspension without pay, and the incident was entered into his personnel record. Perry was not satisfied with this action and pushed to have Woods fired.
Then, on subsequent work days, Perry claims he was subjected to further threats and harassing statements by fellow workers as a result of his action taken in the first incident. This subsequent harassment caused him to request a hearing before the board at the Tuesday meeting.
After Perry presented the harassment charge to the board, Chairman Lockey assured Perry the board did not condone harassment in any form, and that if the charge was verified, appropriate action would be taken. However, since neither Mrs. Lennetta Greene, Director of Human Resources, or Administrator Ted Lakey were in attendance, and no prior investigation related to this second charge had yet been conducted, the board could take no action at this meeting. Lockey assured Perry an investigation would be conducted and he would be informed as to the findings and action taken. Perry agreed to this course of action.

Roy C. McKay Recognized For Making A Difference A Lifetime Of Dedication

By Sid Riley

Roy C. McKay started as a struggling African-American schoolboy in Malone, and ended as a state honored role model for us all. Because of a lifetime of dedicated professional service, the administration building at Dozier School for Boys will now forever bear his name.
After graduation from Malone High, he attended college at Los Angeles City College, and then obtained his BS from Florida Memorial College in St. Augustine. McKay then went to work at Dozier as a houseparent. Over the next thirty seven years of his career he rose through the organizational ranks at the school until he finally made it to the top. He served as the Superintendent for thirteen years, until his retirement in 1999.
Along the way he positively influenced the lives of many who had contact with this distinguished, devoted man. He and his wife Rosie shared thirty three happy years and were blessed with one child, a daughter Denise. On March 17, 2000 Roy McKay passed away after a long fight with cancer.
This past Thursday, February 7, his life of devotion and hard work was honored at a special dedication ceremony at Dozier. He was memorialized by Mary Zahasky, current Superintendent, Benny Green, STP Director, Bruce Gambill, Business Manager, Rex Uberman, Assistant Secretary for Residential Facilities, Richard Davidson, Deputy Secretary of Juvenile Justice, and Walter McNeil, Secretary of Juvenile Justice, many appreciative co-workers, and loving family members. At that ceremony the Administration Building at Dozier was officially named "The Roy C. McKay Administration Building".

Flu Bugs Are Among Us

By Sid Riley

William Long Encourages Citizens To Take Vaccine

January, February, and March are the "peak months" for flu attacks in our area of the United States, according to William Long, Administrator of the Jackson County Public Health Department. "This year we have a good supply of an effective vaccine, and it certainly is not too late to get a flu shot", Long states. "The vaccine takes two to three weeks for full effectiveness, but it immediately begins to have positive immunization effects".
Long states there has been a surge in the incidence of cases of flu and flu like cases during the past few weeks, "The bug is certainly with us right now."
The Jackson County Public Health Department Clinic is open from 7:30 to 4:30 Monday thru Friday, and appointments can be made to get a flu shot by phoning 526-2412. Medicare will pay costs for eligible patients, otherwise the cost is $30.00.
New Facility Effort- William Long has been engaged in an effort to obtain funding for the construction of a new Public Health Department facility. At present the organization has 90 employees scattered into four separate buildings. For efficiency and for increased service, these employees and their services need to be consolidated into a single building.
Plans for a 40,000 square foot building costing an anticipated $14,000,000 have been created. State appropriations would be used to fund the project.

Commissioners Split! Concerning New Administration Building Project

By Sid Riley

Issue Was Discussed at Tuesday’s Board Meeting

As a final item of discussion at Tuesday’s regular County Commission meeting, Chairman Chuck Lockey brought up the issue of the planned new $18,000,000 building for county administration. "With the projected $1.3 million dollar shortfall in revenues from the impact of the passage of Amendment One, combined with the $400,000 decrease in revenues from jail operations, I do not feel that the $280,000 in increased revenues from Waste Management will approach paying for our future needs and the added burden of the payments for the new facility", Lockey stated.
Commissioner Spires stated he was in favor of proceeding with the new construction, and he felt the commission should be proactive in planning for the future needs of the county. Commissioner Branch also agreed the commission should proceed. Commissioner Pittman said he agreed with Commissioner Lockey, and he felt it was of questionable judgment for the commission to put the county into a position of paying off a large, thirty year debt when there is so much existing financial uncertainty.
Lockey stated he felt additional "due diligence" should be conducted to determine what the financial condition of the county would be in meeting the needs of next years budget, with and without the added burden of the new building project. County Attorney Baker stated that clauses existed in the existing contracts with Ajax Construction and Donofroe and Associates which would allow them to only pay for the time and services provided up to this point.
The discussion then closed. We assume at the next meeting a more detailed projection of funding and available revenues will be presented. No mention was made of further investigation of the Wal-mart/Sally Mae building as an alternative site.

Commissioners Developing County Paving Plan

By Sid Riley

Each Commissioner Designates First Priority For Paving In Their District

At Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Jackson County Commission, paving was a hard issue. The Commission has dedicated itself to embark on a paving program using the one cent sales tax revenues to begin to increase the percentage of paved roads and decrease the percentage of dirt roads in Jackson County. They have developed a road priority rating based on population density, average usage, and proximity to other paved roads.
In order to assure the paving funds are spent in a manner which treats the citizens of each county district equally, the commissioners have decided to allocate a certain amount of funds in each paving cycle to each district for the Commissioner who represents each district to direct to the appropriate road project. At Tuesday’s meeting each Commissioner determined what roads were to be the initial project for their district. These were:
- District 5, Commissioner Pittman - Sylvania Plantation Road- Blue Springs to Highway 69, 4.5 Miles
- District 4, Commissioner Branch - Old Spanish Trail to Inwood Road, 1.0 miles and Compass Lake Drive, 2.5 Miles
- District 3, Commissioner Lockey - Bump Nose Road, 4.5 Miles Total
- District 2, Commissioner Crutchfield - Bethlehem Rd.- Hwy 167 to Hwy 276, 3.5 miles
- District 1, Commissioner Spires - Undetermined
At this week’s meeting the Commissioners voted approval for the Purchasing Department and the Engineering Department to obtain preliminary bids for the Sylvania Plantation Road paving project. This data will also help them in planning the costs for future paving.

Dudley Hall Regretfully Drops Out Of Sheriff’s Race

By Sid Riley

Photo Caption: Dudley Hall

Announces Endorsement of Chuck Anderson For Sheriff

Dudley Hall has wanted to serve the citizens of Jackson County as their sheriff for a long, long time. He probably would have become our sheriff had his lifespan not overlapped the time that our tremendously popular, long time sheriff "Johnny Mac" McDaniel was filling the role. Dudley even dared to run against McDaniel on two occasions….that is how badly he wanted the job.
But now it looks like his dream is never to be fulfilled. At the very moment when it appeared the pathway might be open for him to become the "high sheriff", because of the announced retirement of McDaniel, fate struck Dudley with a cruel blow. He has cancer.
Although the prospects for whipping this dreaded malady in submission are good, Hall has a tough battle before him during the coming months. This would certainly be the wrong time for him to engage in a competitive campaign for the position he so dearly wants to hold. Thus, this week he announced to the Jackson County Times that he is officially withdrawing from the race.
During our interview with Dudley, he stated that he appreciated all of the loyal supporters and friends who have helped him in his campaign. He stated that he now wants to throw his support to help Chuck Anderson in his quest to become the next sheriff. "I am supporting Chucky Anderson because I feel he will bring a new level of energy and freshness to the department, he has the necessary training and law enforcement experience, has a solid background in management, and has a warm, friendly personality that everyone responds to," Hall stated.
Dudley Hall has many friends and supporters in Jackson County. We all wish him well and God’s blessings.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

And The Search Goes On…

By Sid Riley

Photo Caption: Kimberly Gainer, is serving as interm City Manager while the search is underway.

At a special meeting of the Marianna City Commission on Monday, February 04, the five member board narrowed the search for a new City Manager down to three candidates. The position was vacated in January when the previous City Manager, Louie Harris took a new administrative position at Chipola College.
The three remaining candidates were chosen from a host of applications submitted for the position. The three finalists are:
James Dean – Marianna resident, Graduate of Marianna High School, BA in Agri-Business, Masters in Business Administration, 9 years in US Marine Corps, extensive experience with Farm Credit, involvement in Economic and Community Development in areas of government and private lending.
Robert Mearns – Resident of Fernandina Beach, Florida, BA Degree from University of Delaware, Masters in Public Administration, Florida Atlantic University, Teacher, Government Finance courses at Florida Atlantic University, US Marine Corps. Previous City Manager for Fernandina Beach Florida, President of Management Consulting Firm, City Strategies, Inc., City Manager of Destin, Florida, City Manager of City of Orange, Florida.
James Vardalis – Resident of Stuart, Florida, Bachelor of Science in Human Services, Edison State College, Trenton, New Jersey, Masters in Justice Administration, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Doctor of Public Administration, NovaSoutheastern University, Fort Lauderdale. US Marine Corps, Management Consultant in Public Administration and Education, City Manager of Sewall’s Point, Florida, City Manager, City of North Bay Village, City Manager, Golden Beach, Florida, Sergeant, Fort Lauderdale Police Department, Taught at FIU, St. Thomas University, University of Houston-Downtown, and Broward Community College.
The Marianna City Commissioners approved calling these three candidates for a re-interview process to be held from 1:00 to 4:00 PM on Thursday, February 14. A final decision will follow those final pre-selection interviews.
Additional News:
While gathering information for this story the Jackson County Times discovered that long time Administrative Assistant to the City Manager, Marsha Kent, has resigned from her position and is no longer employeed from the city.


By Homer Hirt
When I was a boy, there was but one permanent ambition among my comrades in our village on the west bank of the Mississippi River. That was, to be a steamboatman. We had transient ambitions of other sorts, but they were only transient... these ambitions faded out, each in its own turn, but the ambition to be a steamboatman always remained.
(From Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi)

Photo: "Rebecca Everingham"
Artist - Dennis Lyall

I was attending a graveside service for a deceased friend at Mount Pleasant Cemetery near Chattahoochee, standing apart from the crowd that had pushed up close to hear the preacher’s eulogy. I suddenly realized I was standing on a flat marker. I glanced down and read "Sam Cameron", and the date of his death on the stone.
Sam Cameron was one of the renowned pilots on the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers during the time when the sternwheeler steamboats were disappearing and the more dependable diesel powered boats pushing barges filled with bulk materials were taking over the commercial movement of products. Sam was rated by his peers as one of the best Captains on the river, and was the source of many stories of his prowess - stories both real and imagined.
Captain "Poley" McDaniel told one of the best and probably one of the most unusual stories about Sam Cameron. Sam was a pilot on a boat that was transporting, among other cargo, hives of bees to keepers down the river. Sam was resting when the boat swung close to the bank and a protruding tree branch crashed several of the hives onto the deck, of course infuriating the "residents" and endangering one of the cargoes that was bringing revenue in for the boat owner, commercial passengers. Sam rushed down, grabbed up the parts of the hives, placed them in the proper order and stuffed the angry bees back into them by the handful. Captain McDaniel said that Sam was "probably stung twenty five or thirty times" and added "Only Sam would have done it".
My favorite story, and one that most certainly was added to until it gained heroic and mythical proportions, was about the time that Sam was hired as a trip pilot by the owner of one of the Florida Gravel Company’s small towboats. Sam had come aboard drunk, and had immediately taken to his bunk. The other pilot, young and inexperienced, decided to get underway without any aid from Sam, even though it was dark. Soon he ran the boat aground, and not only could not get off, but did not have any idea where he was. He reluctantly shook Sam’s shoulder, told him the situation, and asked for his help. Sam asked for a bucket of river water, and the young man, presuming that he wanted to wash his face, brought it to the bunk. Sam swished his hand through it, and said, "We’re aground at Ocheesee Reach. Put your rudder hard over to the port and back down". The young man did as he was told, and the boat floated free. So Sam’s legend as a miracle worker grew.
A few days later the scene duplicated itself. The night was dark, Sam Cameron was sleeping off his drunk, and the young pilot eased the boat to the shore and woke Sam. Sam again ordered the bucket of water, but this time the young man brought him some water that he had pumped out of the horse trough in Sneads. Once again, Sam ran some water between his fingers, bolted upright in the bunk and exclaimed "Good God Almighty! We have had another Noah flood. We are directly over the horse trough in Sneads!"
Cameron never lost a boat or any cargo, but had several personal misadventures, mostly brought on by "demon rum". One night on the Flint River, during a cold winter night, he fell over the side, stark naked. He was not missed till daylight, and by then he had reached the bank and had walked to several houses trying to get warm, but no one would let him in. He finally wrapped himself in some sacks he found and hitched a ride into town on a school bus.
Captain Poley McDaniel was one of the last steamboat rivermen to survive into the 1980s. He was named for Poley Ford, a small branch running into the Chipola River south of Wewahitchka. He went to work for his father, Captain W. A. McDaniel, when he was twelve years old. The year was 1907, and Poley said "I wanted to play baseball, but my daddy did not like baseball, so I started to work for him on the boat".
The boy began as a cook and a cabin boy for the magnificent sum of $10 per month. Skilled pilots were paid $150 at the time, so the young man, probably with the idea of gaining this lofty wage plateau, started learning the trade. In the book "Perilous Journeys" he told of him and his father running the steamboat CHIPOLA for John W. Callahan, a craft that was built at the cost of $10,000. He claimed that in the first year the boat paid for itself and returned $3,000 to Mr. Callahan.
Captain McDaniel enjoyed relating his steamboat stories to anyone that would visit him, even in the last years of his life, and once he related to a visitor: "The old sternwheelers are gone, and all the old captains I know are dead. But, my, wouldn’t I love to get a hold of a wheel again! There’s nothing I’d rather do than feel that wheel and that current when it throws water against the rudder. I’d just feel it, hold it and turn the boat loose."
There are still some sternwheelers in action on other rivers, but no commercial ones on the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Rivers, unless you count one that is in Columbus, Georgia, a craft that takes folks on short tours of the city that is the head of navigation, a boat built by Captain Tom Corley, who also started out as a cabin boy and………….but, wait………that’s another story!
(Note: Some of the related stories are from the publication "Perilous Journeys: a History of Steamboating on the Chattahoochee, Apalachicola and Flint Rivers, 1828-1928" by Edward A. Mueller. These books are for sale at the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce in Marianna.)

Confusing Codes Create Continuing Conflict

By Sid Riley

Photo Caption:
Jimmy Grant argues his case to the Planning Commission - Photo By Sid Riley/Times

At Tuesday evening’s Planning Commission meeting, conflicts, contradictions, and confusing code contents created controversy.
Initially on the agenda, a contingent of Compass Lake property owners were in attendance to present their opposition to a proposed plan for construction of additional condominium units near the public boat ramp for the lake. The main arguments they presented related to the lack of adequate parking at the existing ramp, and the fact that this new development would add to that troublesome problem. Six units of the project have already been built, and additional buildings and units are proposed.
After hearing the arguments, Commission Chairman Mack Glass stated the developers had complied with all requirements. The project was approved by the Planning Commission and was referred to the County Commissioners for final approval.
Then the main event began.
James Grant, local builder-developer presented a development for final approval after approximately eighteen months of continuing conflict with the Jackson County Planning Department. The proposed development is very small, comprising a four lot project located adjacent to Highway 71, near Sunland.
It seems the core issue presented by Mr. Grant is the fact that the project complies with the definition of "Private Subdivision" as frequently described in the county comprehensive plan and various supporting state statutes. These codes which form the basis of the enforcement activities of the planning department define four types of subdivisions; Major, Minor, Impact, and Private.
The "Private" designation applies to subdivisions designated by the developer as private, meaning no government services or road involvement is present. Projects meeting this criteria are specifically exempt from the roadway requirements defined for the other three classifications of subdivisions.
However, the Commissioners claim that historically the county has only recognized two types of subdivisions, "Major" and "Minor". A "Minor" subdivision must abut an existing county or state road right of way, with direct access for each lot from that right of way. Otherwise, if an entrance road is involved, it is automatically classified as a "Major" Subdivision.
In this instance Mr. Grant obtained an easement and constructed an entrance driveway with a 30 foot right of way. Also in this easement he laid a state licensed, county health department approved, water line from the state right of way to provide water to the lots.
The situation was further confused at the meeting when County Attorney Frank Baker stated that in his opinion a subdivision could be "Private-Major" and "Private-Minor" depending on the presence of a need for government services. Grant later refuted this approach by again citing codes that clearly defined the four classes of subdivisions and the specific exemptions for the small, "Private" subdivisions.
The discussion raged for approximately two hours. Other issues such as the need for engineering review and payment of a new $1000 fee for county engineering, and whether the application entered by Mr. Grant in October, 2007 was a preliminary application or a final approval application were discussed in detail. Mr. Grant argued that since the state had issued a license for the water installation after the required drawings were done for them, no further engineering was required, thus negating the involvement of county Engineer Alvarez, and the payment of the fee. Also, since there was no additional site preparation involved, the application was for final approval. He provided earlier correspondence from Mrs. Joan Scharer, Director of Community Planning which used the term "final approval application".
If the application was submitted as a "final approval" application and not a "preliminary application", then the ordinances clearly state that if the application is not submitted to the Planning Commission and some determination made within a sixty day period, then the application is automatically approved. It is Mr. Grant’s contention that this sixty day rule applies in this instance.
The real emotions surfaced when Mr. Grant stated that in his opinion the actions of Mrs. Scharer and the Planning Department constituted harassment against him and his project.
"The actions of the Planning Department in processing this application demonstrate a high degree of personal prejudice against me, or else a high level of incompetence. In either instance, the net result has been the same", states Grant.
At another point during the meeting verbal arguments rose to a high pitch as Mr. Grant and Commissioner Janice Poller faced off. Commissioner Poller stated she felt Mr. Grant had attempted to circumvent their authority and normal procedures. Grant countered with the argument that the prescribed procedures for Major and Minor developments did not apply to this type of "private" development. On several occasions Chairman Glass had to use his gavel to suppress accelerating arguments.
Finally it all progressed to a vote. Commissioner Janet Brown read the Mission Statement for the Commission, which states that the purpose is to provide and promote orderly growth in the county, with logical, flexible and fair administration of rules.
Commissioners Cresh Harrison and Janet Brown voted in favor of approval, Janice Poller quickly cast a "no" vote, and after much personal deliberation Commissioner John McCaffery voted "no", with Chairman Glass then casting the deciding vote of "no".
It should be mentioned that Jimmy Grant was previously the Chief Building Inspector for the county, and a previous member of the Planning Commission. In fact, he set up and started the controversial Building Inspection function for Jackson County in 1975.