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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Stevie Johnson Joins Staff of Jackson County Times

Welcome Aboard Stevie!

Stevie Johnson is the newest member of the growing staff of the Jackson County Times. She has recently joined our team as an Administrative Assistant and Reporter. We welcome her aboard!

Stevie is a 2005 graduate of Marianna High School. Her parents are Pam and Stanley Johnson of Campbellton. Her mother works in Tallahassee for the North Florida Safety Council, and her father works at the Graceville Vocational Youth Center. Her brother, Michael is a senior at Graceville High School. Stevie is the granddaughter of former County Commissioner, Durelle Johnson (deceased).

After high school graduation, Stevie attended Chipola College. She looks forward to a career in journalism.

Demons Are Among Us

A Biological Nightmare Strikes Local Family

by Sid Riley

The worse nightmare for every loving parent is to have something terrible happen to one of their children. If parental prayers and hours of worry would protect our children, they would be very safe throughout their years of development. Sadly, there are many real life perils which can suddenly, without warning threaten our families. These threats can range from tragic auto accidents, to criminal acts by bad people, to the unseen biological demons that lurk around us every day and night.

It was one of these unseen biological horrors that suddenly struck the Prinz family in Marianna last October.

The unsuspecting victim was seventeen year old Robbie Prinz, a senior at Marianna High School. It all started on the evening of October 25, 2007. Robbie’s mother, Alane, was out of town on a short trip. During the day on Friday Robbie felt fine, he even went to his deer plot and threw out some feed during the afternoon. He felt a small burning sensation in his shoulder, like a slightly pulled muscle, but he thought nothing of it.

He awoke Saturday with a heavy feeling in his left arm, and by evening the problem was worse. Sunday morning when he awoke his left leg would not work properly, and it finally went limp. During the afternoon his mother returned home to discover that her son could not walk correctly, and his left arm was immobile.

Horrified, she prepared to take Robbie to the emergency room, but he steadfastly refused and finally succeeded in talking her into waiting until the following morning. Early the next day they were at the family doctor’s office.

Their doctor examined Robbie and instructed them to proceed to Southeast General in Dothan for testing. It was at this time the boy began to experience a migraine headache which led to nausea. In Dothan the hospital did a brain scan, suspecting a tumor.

Next, Robbie was transferred by ambulance to Flowers Hospital where a neurosurgeon, Dr. Becker, was on staff. After a second brain scan was conducted, he treated the boy for pain and administered an antibiotic. He felt it could be a tumor or something worse. Surgery was scheduled for the next morning.

On Tuesday Robbie underwent brain surgery. It was exploratory in order to ascertain the exact cause of the problem, and to administer antibiotics directly into the brain. They discovered an abscess of the brain which resulted from a type of strep virus which can only be acquired through the blood stream. This particular type of biological demon normally takes four days to get into a victim’s system. It can come from a sinus infection, strep throat, or from bacteria on your tooth.

They asked Robbie’s Mom if she had noticed any previous signs of the virus such as high fevers, headaches, and mood changes. She replied that Robbie had a history of headaches and sinus problems, but nothing had recently been out of the norm.

Robbie had to endure the horrors of three surgeries at Flowers Hospital before the bacteria and the resulting abscess could be eliminated from his brain. This left the poor youth in a stroke-like paralysis. Since the abscess was located on the right side of his brain, it had begun shutting down the left side of his body, impacting his left arm, leg, and causing his left eye to droop slightly. He was hospitalized for three weeks, undergoing constant treatment with antibiotics. An "IV" tube was inserted into an arm vein leading directly into his heart, allowing injections to be put directly into his main bloodstream.

Then therapy began, just as it would for a stroke victim. One side of his body would not function, and had to slowly be retrained and developed.

This particular virus is extremely rare, with only two to three cases per year in our area. It is especially rare for this terrible demon to strike a teenager. It can impact the heart, the liver, or as in Robbie’s case, the brain.

Today Robbie is on the road to recovery, even though it is a long, hard trip. He goes to school three hours per day, and also has extensive home schooling. He is also in continuing therapy. The family is still hoping for eventual 100% recovery, but they are taking it one day at a time. Robbie remains in good spirits, and is working hard in his goal to return to a normal lifestyle. He still tires easily and has to wear a brace when he walks.

His Mom, Alane, gives thanks that Robbie is still alive. "I just want other parents to be aware that these dangers are around us, and can suddenly appear and forever alter our lives", she states. "I don’t want to unnecessarily alarm parents, but at the same time I feel this is a danger that they should be aware of. Always let your children know how much you love them, and be prepared for anything that might happen. Also, I want to personally thank the many, many people who have helped Robbie and myself through this ordeal. This includes our friends, neighbors, our church, the school, and the medical community. There are so many people that have helped us that it is impossible for me to give each one an individual thank you."

This is sound advice. We never know when a horrible malady may strike and convert our peaceful lives into a living hell. End every day by expressing your love for those around you, and begin the next day doing the same. Also, please pray for Robbie and Alane as they continue their battle against this bacterial demon which suddenly attacked their family.

Strict Marianna Sign Ordinance Deemed "Unfriendly to Business"

Many local businesses have had problems with city officials over strict sign codes.
by Sid Riley

Balloons were flying in a festive spirit over the sale that was going on at Pforte Motors this weekend…..until our city code officials saw them. Balloons are outlawed by Marianna’s strict sign ordinances.

Bob Pforte was given five days to remove the flags and balloons or he would incur a $500 per day fine and up to sixty days in jail for violation of the ordinance in a letter sent by Jack Barwick, city code enforcer. Barwick was only following the letter of the law as required by his job.

With a deflated spirit, Bob Pforte Motors reluctantly removed their balloons on Saturday evening. They yielded to the power of the city code officials.

Many local businesses have run amiss these sign regulations, including Zaxby’s, Merle Norman, Captain D’s, Habana, Raggedy Ann Child Care, the now out of business P.C. Oak and Brass, the Veranda Gift Shop, local realtors, the sign benches that used to provide seating at many city corner locations, and many others. Business owners often are heard complaining that the ordinance reflects a general attitude of the city being "unfriendly to business".

The ordinance was enacted during the tenure of City Manager Harold Emrich during the mid 1990’s. Mr. Emrich sponsored the adoption of the ordinance now in use.

The Jackson County Times has been informed that the ordinance was initially copied from the ordinance then used by Destin, Florida. It will not allow any sidewalk posters or temporary signs, any sign with any moving features, balloons, flags other than official U.S. Flags, any flashing lights, any computerized changing multi-user signs, or sidewalk "A" frame, portable billboards. City and government agencies are exempted from the ordinance.

Many local merchants feel the existing rules are outdated and too strict in application. They agree that controls over signs are appropriate in order to eliminate signs that restrict view of traffic, are unattractive and crude, or are very large and abusive. However, they feel the city has gone overboard in it’s application of controls.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Police Chief Forum Scheduled for April 3rd

Marianna - A public forum featuring the candidates for the Marianna Police Chief position will be held on Thursday at the new Marianna High School Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free and all eligible voters are encouraged to attend.

The forum will be held just five days prior to the election date of April 8th. The event is being sponsored by Chipola College Television, the local chapter of the NAACP and the Jackson County Times. The event will feature Royce Reagan as moderator and a three member panel that will ask each candidate a varieyt of questions that will demonstrate the opnions and abilities of the position seekers.

If you have questions or topics that you would like to be considered, please forward them to us by clicking this link or fax them to us at 526-1505.

McDaniel announces Candidacy for Legislature

Marianna - Jackson County Sheriff John "Johnny Mac" McDaniel has officially announced his candidacy for the District Five seat in the Florida House of Representatives.

The sheriff is stepping down from his current position after 28 years as Sheriff of Jackson County, one of the longest terms in the history of the office.

"I feel that I can do more to serve the people of North Florida as their State Representative than as Sheriff of Jackson County," McDaniel said. "I still have some things I want to accomplish, some unfinished business. I want to get some things done for the people by working on their behalf in Tallahassee before I retire."

McDaniel has been preparing for his campaign for several months, but Thursday's announcement makes it official. He will run as a Democrat for the seat that has been held by Republican Rep. Don Brown. Mr. Brown is not running again due to term limits.

The district includes North Jackson, Washington, Holmes, North Walton and most of Okaloosa Counties.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Chipola Students could face Tuition Hike

If the recommendations of state lawmakers on two key committees are accepted, students at Chipola College could see a significant increase in the cost of attending school next year.

Key leaders in both the House and Senate are recommending a 6% increase in tuition for students at Florida's colleges and universities, even as they recommend cuts in the budgets of those schools.

State lawmakers appear to be moving toward approval of a plan that would cut expenditures, replace some funding with lottery monies and then increase the tuition price being paid by Florida's students and their parents by 6%.

The measure will require approval by the full legislature and must be signed by the governor before it takes effect.

Improved Cell Service coming to Lake Seminole Area

Lake Seminole - Residents of Jackson County who live near Lake Seminole know the frustrations of hit and miss cell phone service.
Areas along the lake north of Sneads suffer from weak cellular service due to distance from cell towers and the low elevations in the region.
An announcement from AT&T, however, indicates that help is on the way. The telecommunications giant has announced plans to dramatically improve its cellular coverage of the Lake Seminole area.
AT&T announced plans this week to construct more than 80 new cell phone towers across Georgia and indicated that concentrated coverage of the Lake Seminole area is part of the plan. The lake forms the dividing line between Jackson County, Florida and Seminole County, Georgia.
The project will take place this year and is expected to bring dramatically improved cell service to citizens living around the lake, as well as to those who enjoy outdoor recreation on the 37,500 acre reservoir.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Appeals Court: Florida's Votes will not Count (for now)

The votes of more than 8,000 Jackson County residents are among more than 1.7 million statewide that will not count in this year's Democratic Presidential selection process. At least for now.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the Tampa voter suing the Democratic National Committee (DNC) lacked standing to bring the lawsuit because Florida's January 29th primary had not yet been held at the time the suit was filed in 2007. Victor DiMaio, a Democrat, filed the lawsuit as soon as the DNC announced it would not consider Florida's votes because the state was holding its primary at a time that might dillute the importance of the votes in Iowa, New Hampshire and elsewhere.

The court did, however, rule that DiMaio could refile his suit, pointing out that he had raised
a number of interesting and potentially significant questions." They simply felt that he was not legally entitled to file the lawsuit prior to the election. While it was a technicality, it was enough to keep the suit from going forward.

DiMaio indicated in comments to the national media that he will immediately refile his action. He voted in the January 29th primary and is now entitled to file his suit because the election has already been held.

Which means that the matter will be going back before the courts for another round of arguments and a decision on the merits of the case.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Local Military Hero Doing Heroic Deeds In Persian Gulf

By Sid Riley
Logan Robertson Assigned to "Dusty Dogs" Air-Sea Rescue Unit

A Marianna High School graduate is part of an air-sea rescue unit currently operating off of the flight deck of the aircraft carrier, USS Harry S. Truman. They are at this moment afloat somewhere in the Persian Gulf, helping defend our nation from those who would seek to destroy all we hold dear.

Logan is assigned to a helicopter rescue unit named "Dusty Dogs", as part of the crew for "Dusty 614". Their months of preparation and training paid off in January when two aircraft collided during flight operations and the pilots had to be rescued from the icy waters after safely ejecting from their falling aircraft.

Within minutes of the incident, Dusty 614 with Robertson aboard was in the air and searching for the crewmembers who needed immediate help. In total, three helicopter crews were dispatched. Dusty 615, the first crew dispatched quickly located two of the downed flyers and initiated rescue operations. Dusty 614 then located the third crew member, hovered over the spot, and hoisted their rescue swimmer down into the cold waters to disentangle the pilot and attach the lift belting. Soon the swimmer and the pilot were safely aboard the copter and heading back to the Mother Ship.

The three flyers were suffering from mild hypothermia, but quickly recovered from the ordeal. The pilot, Cmdr. Tim Krippendorf, expressed his thanks to the crew for saving his life and their timely rescue.

Robertson stated, "Ninty-eight percent of our time is spent training for services we hope we never have to perform. The night we were called a lot of adrenalin was flowing until we were airborne, then the training kicked in and it was time for us to go to work. It was a great feeling when the mission was complete and we had our survivor safely on board. We knew our training had paid off."

Logan Robertson is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Hines Robertson of Marianna, and the grandson of Ernest (deceased) and Margie Logan. He is married to to the former Shelby Oliver who is also a graduate of Marianna High School. They have two sons, Hunter and Landon.

All of the citizens of Jackson County can be proud of the heroic service of one of our own as Logan serves in this troubled area of the world. Pray for his safe return to our treasured land.

Amy Johnson, FFA State VP Makes Presentation

Malone Graduate Makes Special Presentation At School Board Meeting
By Sid Riley

Serving as State Vice President for the FFA is a prestigious, time consuming, yet rewarding job. Last year Amy Johnson was granted the honor of being elected to this important state position. She graduated from Malone High in 2007, but instead of immediately entering college, she has instead participated in FFA activities across the state, the nation, and internationally during the past year. The development and learning she has encountered in this role has far exceeded anything she would have gained from a year of college.

Amy made an impressive presentation at the March 18 school Board Meeting. She told of her activities and presented a power point presentation of an FFA tour where she participated in a January trip to Spain to visit various farm related sites. She saw milk processing, a winery, olive oil production, pork processing, a nursery and many other agricultural industries at work in Spain.

Amy plans to start two years at Chipola next year, followed by advanced studies at the University of Florida. Amy, we all wish you congratulations and good luck.

Cancer takes Former Marianna City Manager Louie Seay Jr., at Age 61

Well Known Marianna Resident Passes After Battle With Cancer

By Sid Riley

Louie Seay Jr. a 1965 graduate of Marianna High School died on Saturday after an extended battle with cancer. He leaves behind a loving family including his son, Charlie Seay, his daughter Brandie Seay, his mother Juanita Seay, brother Jim Seay, sisters Julie Hatcher and Lynda Gause, his former wife of many years, Debbie Seay, two grandchildren, and many many friends.
After high school Louie attended Chipola and then the University of Florida. However he interrupted his studies to enter the U.S. Marine Corps to serve in the Viet Nam War which was then raging in the Far East. He served heroically, receiving the Purple Heart for combat injuries.
After his discharge from the military, Louie resumed his college studies. Using his VA benefits, he earned a BS degree and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of West Florida. After graduation from college, Louie Seay wanted to return to Jackson County, his home.

His first local job was as Assistant Director of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, working as an assistant to Bill Stanton who was then the Director. After one year in that position, his capabilities were recognized by the Marianna City Commission, who offered him the position of City Manger. Louie accepted this new role, and served for several years under the terms of then Mayors, Bob Pforte and J.D. Swearingen.

When asked about Louie’s service to the community during that phase of his career, Bill Stanton stated, "Louie demonstrated great personal motivation by returning from the Viet Nam War, returning to college to earn his MBA, then returning to Jackson County to serve the community he loved. He was the first formal City Manager, and the benefits he demonstrated as an effective manager has led to the unquestioned justification for that position after his service. He performed a lasting service to our community."

Louie was enticed away from the City Manager’s position by the opportunity to enter the management group of Baxter’s Asphalt. He later worked in management for several asphalt companies in the North Florida area.

Louie Seay’s full obituary is presented in the obit section of this paper on page A8. Our prayers and sympathy are extended to his family. Louie will be missed.

Marianna Gets New Post Master

By Stevie Johnson

Steve Wyman, originally from Mason, Michigan, is our new Marianna Post Master. He graduated college in Jacksonville, Florida from Trinity Baptist College. The Tallahassee Post Office has employed him for 20 years. Wyman first spent many years in the delivery system before moving into management through the Postal Management Development System.

Steve and his wife Tracy, will be moving to Marianna. They have three daughters, Linda (23) who lives in Atlanta, Libby (20) a Junior at Florida State University, and Kelley (18) currently a senior at Leon County High School. We encourage everyone in Marianna to greet our new Postmaster at the first opportunity.

Marianna Loses Postmaster

Marc Reed Leaving Postmaster Position in Marianna Due to Transfer

By Sid Riley

Marc Reed transferred to the Marianna Post Office in July of 2007 as Postmaster. He came here from the Douglas, Georgia post office where he was the Postmaster. A Ft. Walton Beach native, and 37 year employee with the Postal System, Marc Reed wanted the job in Marianna because his son Seth Reed and wife had moved here with their young daughter, and Mark wanted to be near them. Seth is an executive manager with the Zaxby’s corporate organization.

When the Marianna Postmaster job became available, Marc quickly applied for the position. All was well until a few weeks ago when Reed discovered that through an administrative process within the postal system, he had been "bumped". He is now regretfully transferring back to Douglas, Georgia.

Marc wants to be near his granddaughter as she develops and grows into a Christian adult. If another opportunity occurs for him to return to Marianna, he will grasp it. Otherwise, after retirement from the Post Office, like Arnold he says, "I’ll be back!"

Ben Odom Wants District Five Commission Seat

Local Businessman Wants To Help Shape Jackson County of the Future

By Sid Riley

Ben Odom, President and Broker of CountryLand Realty, Inc. has declared his candidacy for the District Five Commission Seat. He is running against the incumbent, Milton Pittman. While Odom admires Mr. Pittman, he feels that he can bring a new level of energy, devotion, and foresight to the management of our county. He wants to be part of "A New Generation Of Leadership", that will take our county through the next level of development in the coming years.

Ben is a 1995 graduate of Marianna High School, a 1998 graduate of Chipola, and a 2000 graduate from the school of Business Marketing at Florida State University. He is the son of Butch and Bunny Odom of Marianna.

After college, Ben worked as Convention Sales Representative for a Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. During his three years in this position he traveled extensively promoting the Disney Resort as a site for corporate meetings and conventions. Throughout this period he had a strong desire to return to Jackson County, but soon found that job opportunities for a college graduate are very limited in this area. Finally he had to create his own job by coming up with the name of his company and help build it from the ground up, CountryLand Realty, Inc.

"Seeing the opportunities as well as problems created by growth in the Orlando area has made me acutely aware of the importance of good, professional leadership for Jackson County as our area develops in the coming years", Odom states. "I love this area and what it offers us all. I always knew I wanted to come home to Jackson County after college, just didn’t know how long it would take. We must preserve the abundant beauty that nature has provided for our enjoyment, while allowing for growth on a controlled basis that does not negatively impact those natural treasures."

Odom feels that his experience as a small business operator combined with his real estate experience creates a valuable perspective for him. His family has been small business owners in Jackson County for over 45 years with now 4 generations in the County. He states that he is a fiscal conservative. One of his prime objectives is to increase the average family income in Jackson County through well conceived promotion of economic growth that will bring high paying jobs into the area and will create more competition between companies for labor. He favors programs that assist small business operations, and wants to strengthen emphasis of development of agricultural based businesses in the county. Odom would like to also strengthen the transportation systems of the county.

"I want to represent the wishes and opinions of the people of District Five, and I also want to always do what is best for all citizens of Jackson County", Odom declares. "The existing commissioners have done a great job in getting us where we are today, but it is time for the next step in our development. I want to continue with a "new generation of leadership" for Jackson County.

Ben Odom can be contacted at

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

High Winds sweep through Jackson County

Jackson County - Tropical storm force wind gusts swept through Jackson County on Wednesday afternoon, knocking out electric service and bringing down limbs and even some pine trees.

Wind gusts of over 50 miles per hour were reported at the height of the storm, which swept through the county between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. Even before the main storm, however, sustained high winds began bringing down trees and limbs and knocking out electric service for many residents.

Two significant outages were reported affecting numerous homes. In the Parramore area of eastern Jackson County, electric power was out for roughly four hours until hard-working crews were able to restore service.

No injuries or serious damage were reported.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Decision on Property Tax Cuts in the hands of the Voters

Marianna - The voters of Jackson County will have a role in deciding whether their property taxes should be cut by an average of 25%.

The Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission voted Monday afternoon to go forward with a statewide referendum that could dramatically change the way taxes are paid in Florida. The measure calls for replacing $8 billion in property taxes statewide with a combination of an additional one cent sales tax and reductions in the state budget.

If the new system is approved by Florida's voters this November, then property taxes in Jackson County (and elsewhere in the Sunshine State) would fall by an average of 25%. The added one cent sales tax would spread the burden to a much larger section of the state's population.

The commission approved the measure by a 21 to 4 vote.

The final decision will now be left up to the voters of the state. A question will be added to the November election ballot.

Fate of Jackson County Votes in Hands of Atlanta Court

Atlanta - Arguments about the fate of 1.7 million Florida votes (including over 8,000 from Jackson County) were heard before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, on Monday.

A voter from Tampa is seeking an order from the court requiring Florida's votes to be counted. As it stands now, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) says that Florida's votes in the January 29, 2008 Democratic Primary should not count. The DNC feels that Floridians should not vote as early as voters in other states, particularly Iowa and New Hampshire.

The court made no decision on Monday, but will consider the issue. There is no word on when a decision is expected.

The case affects only Democrat voters in Florida. Republican votes in the state have been accepted by that party's national organization.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Spring Turkey Season Underway

Florida's annual Spring Turkey Season began Saturday morning 30 minutes before daylight. The season offers hunters an opportunity to hit the woods in search of Jackson County's growing wild turkey population.

The day was active with hunters returning to the woods across the county. Popular areas for hunting including the Chipola River and the Apalachee Wildlife Management Area on Lake Seminole, as well as private hunting lands across the county.

The management areas are open this weekend for hunting from 30 minutes before daybreak until 1 p.m. Private lands can be hunted from 30 minutes before daybreak until sunset.

To hunt in the spring turkey season, you must have a valid Florida hunting license. They can be purchased at the Jackson County Tax Collector's Office and other retail outlets, or online at The cost is $17 for residents plus $5 for the turkey stamp. Non-residents pay $46.50 for a ten day pass plus $100 for a non-resident turkey stamp. To hunt on Wildlife Management Areas you must also purchase a $26.50 management area permit.

The season runs until April 20th, but there are rules and regulations. For more information, please visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at

Friday, March 14, 2008

County Democrats to Vote Again?

Karen Thurman, the head of Florida's Democrat Party, has proposed that Florida Democrats (including more than 8,000 from Jackson County) vote a second time so that their votes will count at least once.

The latest plan is one of a number that have been tossed around over the last week as it becomes more and more apparent that Florida's votes could prove critical in deciding whether Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) or Sen. Barrack Obama (D-IL) will become the party's nominee for this fall's Presidential election.

More than 8,000 Jackson County Democrats went to the polls in January to vote for the candidates of their choice. Although Sen. Clinton won Florida as a whole in that election, Jackson County votes picked Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), followed by Sen. Obama, with Sen. Clinton coming in third.

The Democratic National Committee, however, has said that none of Florida's 1.75 million votes should count because the state moved up the date of its election. In past years, the Presidential elections have largely been decided by the time Floridians get to vote, so the state opted to move its election up to late January (right after the Iowa and New Hampshire votes) to give its citizens more of a chance to participate in the process. National Democrats, however, oppose giving Florida more of a voice and have refused to seat the state's delegates at the upcoming National Convention.

The 8,000 Jackson County votes from January that apparently will not count are more than 16 times the number involved in the controversial 2000 Presidential election in Florida. That contest resulted in lawsuits that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The new plan from Thurman would call for a "do over" vote. Florida's Democrats would send in their votes by mail this time, or go to one of only 50 polling places established in the state.

All nine members of the state's Congressional Delegation oppose the plan. It is uncertain at this time whether this plan or any other will be implemented (at a cost of millions of dollars) or whether Florida's Democrat votes will count at all this year.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Our Farm Family of the Week: Jeff Pittman Family

By Carly Barnes

Born and raised in Jackson County, Jeff Pittman is a fourth generation farmer who is making a big difference in the agriculture industry.

Jeff Pittman began farming for his father after graduating from Malone High School in 1989. He bought out his father’s interest in the then 700-acre farm in 1997, and has increased the total acreage over the past ten years to include over 5,000 acres. This size increase was required due to the deterioration of the net profit margin per acre over the years.

Their farm includes acreage from the edge of Houston County, the east half of Jackson County, and Calhoun County. Pittman irrigates about half of his acreage, and produces traditional row crops such as peanuts, cotton, corn, soybean, oats, and grain sorghum, and also has beef cows on coastal grass. He is one of seven owners of Malone Peanut Company and is a stockholder in Sowega Cotton Gin in Bainbridge, Georgia.

According to Pittman, “Production used to be key in the ag industry, now we have to manage high inputs, rollercoaster markets, and comply with programs set in front of us to operate under.” He says that farming is a high risk business, and with inputs at a record high, it is the most challenging it has ever been. He gives credit to new technologies or allowing producers to farm extensive amounts of land with a very minimal workforce. He also recognizes the importance of having a strong faith and frequent prayer if a person hopes to succeed in farming.
Pittman stays involved with local and state commodity organizations in order to be an advocate for the agriculture industry. He has served as the Florida Farm Bureau Federation District 2 State Director for the past two years, Florida Peanut Producers Association board member and Secretary Treasurer, County Farm Service Agency Committee Chairman, Florida Peanut and Cotton Advisory Committee member, Sowega Cotton Gin Board Director, and Director for the Jackson County Cattlemen Association. Pittman was also a member of the American Farm Bureau National Advisory Cotton Committee in 2006 and 2007, an experience that helped him to understand agriculture on the national level. Pittman says, “We support agriculture—it’s our livelihood.”

Jeff and his wife, Ginger, have three children, Jeffery, Mary Katherine, and Wilton. The family is a member of the Lovedale Baptist Church.

Bulldozer Thief Tracked Down

Local Suspect Edward Gross Caught by Federal Marshalls In Texas
Press Release

by Sheriff John McDaniel

edited by Sid Riley

On Tuesday afternoon the bulldozer tracks that started in Jackson County were followed all the way to Edinburg, Texas. This led to the arrest of Edward Lamar Gross who fled Jackson County in December when his stash of marijuana, and over $100,000 in stolen heavy equipment and vehicles was found at a site near Peanut Road north of Cottondale.

In pursuit of the fleeing felon the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division obtained the help of the US Marshals North Florida Violent Fugitive Task Force. Within a few weeks of this coordination, Gross was apprehended. This manhunt was a great example of combined coordination between county and federal agencies.
Good Work Fellows!!

Estelle Godfrey 85 And Still Young

Estelle Godfrey Exemplifies Human Strength and Character

(Estelle Godfrey article Oil Painting by Linda Hatcher - Classic Photography)

By Times Staff

At a family gathering in February, Estelle Godfrey and her family celebrated her 85th birthday. Estelle continues her busy life as a mother, grandmother, home maker and part time book keeper.

Widowed as a young woman in 1962 when her husband died of kidney disease at the early age of 36 in 1962. With four children ages 7-14 at that time, Estelle worked diligently to hold the family together as a single mother. At that time there were few programs available to assist women in this unfortunate circumstance.

Her salary from Florida State Hospital, countless hours working at other tasks to generate enough income for the family’s needs, and a bountiful blessing of family love, sustained this determined woman and her four dependents during those difficult years.

The foundation she provided for her four children, Ken Godfrey, Linda Hatcher, Mary Ann O’Brian, and Cecelia Farmer, has enabled them all to become productive, college educated, Christ loving citizens. This accomplishment was always the subject of her many prayers.

Everyone who knows Estelle Godfrey appreciates the sacrifices she made to properly raise her family, and what a wonderful job she has done as a loving mother. Estelle gives God the glory for helping her through many difficult times and for always answering her prayers. Happy Birthday Estelle!!

New Administration Building Project Put on "Hold"

Even After New Proposal With Reduced Cost Commissioners Decide To Wait Until Impact of Revenue Reductions Is Determined
By Sid Riley

In response to an earlier request from the County Commission, at Tuesday’s commission meeting Ajax Construction and Donofro and Associates made another presentation of a revised approach to the new county administration building construction project. This proposal took a minimum cost approach, with reduced square footage and only three stories. This approach allowed for little future growth, but would have allowed space for consolidation of all county functions for existing staffing. The final reduced cost was just under $11,000,000.

During the discussion following the presentation, the parking issue was again addressed. The existing space in front of the proposed building site is often filled from parking needs created by court functions. With the additional requirements that would be created by the proposed new building, parking problems would be compounded unless additional land can be purchased for supplemental parking.

If the county entered into this project, the payments on the low interest loan would be approximately $640,000 per year. It is planned that increased tipping fees realized from operations at the Spring Hill Land Fill would contribute to covering this cost, along with the $93,000 annual savings in existing lease costs for space now leased from private individuals.
Later, during the final phase of the commission meeting, Commissioner Pittman entered a motion to place the project for the construction of a new Jackson County Administration Building into an "on hold" status until January of 2009. Discussion of this motion revealed that many of the commissioners are worried that the reduced revenues from the property tax changes combined with reduced grant funding from State sources may create budget shortfalls next year. With this threat looming, they felt that it would be an inappropriate time to enter into a new obligation for the county of the magnitude of an $11,000,000 new facility.

The motion was seconded by Commissioner Crutchfield, and passed 3-2 with Commissioners Spires and Branch voting to continue the project. So the new administration building is now officially on hold until next year.

This approach means that when the project is again brought up for consideration, construction costs may be higher than at present, thus increasing costs. Additionally, this means an additional year of operations with county functions fragmented and scattered around the area.

Betty Duffee Offers Experience and Devotion

Betty Duffee has devoted her life to serving Jackson County Schools
By Sid Riley

Thirty four years of teaching in Jackson County schools combined with working as a member of the Jackson County School Board for twelve years certainly demonstrates a high degree of experience and devotion to our local school programs. Betty Duffee has thus devoted her entire life to serving the children of Jackson County. She wants to continue in this service.

Betty was born in Banks, Alabama and graduated from Pike County High School in Brundidge, Alabama. She was married to Ernest Duffee (deceased), who worked for the U. S. Department of Agriculture. They enjoyed raising three children, Ernest Duffee Jr. who attends a seminary in Kentucky, Diane Duffee-Kiser of Auburn, Alabama, and Alan Duffee of Tallahassee.

After high school she graduated from Auburn University, and then continued her studies to gain a Masters Degree from the University of Mississippi. She has also completed all of the requirements to be classified as a certified Master School Board Member by the Florida School Board Association.

Mrs. Duffee retired after teaching in Jackson County for thirty four years. Of that teaching career, twenty seven of those years were spent teaching chemistry and biology at Marianna High School. She has served as the District three representative on our school board for three terms. She stresses that she is now a full time school board member and devotes all of her energy, attention, and time to serving that position.

"I have continually stressed improvements in the classroom environment during my work as a board member", states Duffee proudly. "We have significantly improved our facilities, equipment, and salaries for school personnel."

Mrs. Duffee states, "I have always listened to our citizens and parents concerns, investigated issues, and have worked to be a champion for all aspects of education. This includes academics, athletics, and all worthwhile extracurricular activities. I have the experience, desire, and devotion needed to continue in my service as your full time Board Member."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Jackson County declared a Disaster Area

The Small Business Administration has declared Jackson County (along with Calhoun, Washington, Bay, GUlf and Walton Counties) a disaster area.

The declaration was issued Wednesday by the Small Business Administration (SBA) due to damage sustained in the region during the February 21-22 flooding. The declaration means that residents and property owners who were affected by the flooding can apply for specific assistance from the SBA.

Assistance currently available includes loans at rates as low as 2.75% for homeowners and 4% for business owners if they suffered losses during the floods and need help rebuilding their homes or businesses. Renters are eligible to apply.

At present the only SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Center opened in the area is at the Springfield City Hall in Bay County. The center will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. It will also be open this Saturday only from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The center will not be open any other Saturdays and will close permanently in two weeks on March 27th.

If you need for information you can call the SBA's toll free customer service center at 1-800-659-2955. To read the SBA's fact sheet on eligibility, please click here.

Jackson County Commission delays admin building project

Marianna - Jackson County Commissioners have delayed plans for a new County Administration project until at least early next year.

The controversial project was postponed Tuesday after a motion by Commissioner Milton Pittman was approved by a 3-2 vote. Commissioners Chuck Lockey and Ed Crutchfield also supported the delay.

The three commissioners felt the project was too costly to undertake at this time.

More details are coming in this week's print issue of the Jackson County Times, due out tonight. Be sure to pick up a copy!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Congress begins hearing on river future

Washington, D.C. - The future water use in the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers is being considered in the Nation's capital.
The U.S. House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment began taking testimony this morning in a hearing in Room 2167 of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.
At issue is the ongoing and important debate between the states of Florida, Georgia and Alabama over how water in the system should be used. Georgia wants access to dramatic amounts of water because of the massive growth taking place in Atlanta. Florida and Alabama oppose giving Georgia control over the water, pointing out that doing so would dramatically lower water levels downstream. Lower water levels, experts say, could seriously damage the environment along the lower end of the system and possibly even destroy Apalachicola's famed oyster industry.
The issue is of great importance to Jackson County because the entire eastern border of the county is formed by the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola Rivers. Power company executives have warned that low water levels in the system could force them to shut down the intakes at the large electrical plant near Sneads, resulting in a serious reduction of electrical power at peak times throughout Northwest Florida.
Among those scheduled to testify today were Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Florida) and Jackson County resident Chad Taylor, who serves on the Apalachicola River Riparian Coalition. Both Boyd and Taylor oppose giving Georgia access to more water for Atlanta.
Today's hearing is not expected to result in any immediate resolution of the controversy, which has been continuing for decades but came to a head over the winter when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held back water from the lower end of the system to maintain the water supply for Atlanta.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Single Vehicle crash claims one life

Marianna - A Calhoun County man died early Sunday morning in a one car accident on State Highway 73 in Jackson County.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Roger Holley, 53, of Clarksville, was killed when his Ford pickup left the highway on a curve, struck a culvert and then overturned several times.

Holley was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown through the driver's side door of the pickup during the crash. He was pronounced dead on the scene by Jackson County EMS personnel.

The accident took place at the intersection of Highway 73 and Maddox Road.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Boyd Addresses Local Farmers on 2008 Farm Bill

By Carly Barnes

Fifth generation farmer and six-term Congressman Allen Boyd spoke to members of the Florida Farm Bureau at a luncheon on Monday at the Jackson County Extension Building in Marianna.
After being introduced by Farm Bureau District President Jeff Pittman, Congressman Boyd began with an overview of the 2008 Farm Bill’s position in Congress. The current farm bill will expire on March 15 of this year, and since the new law has not been passed, Boyd could not give specifics of the 2008 bill. However, he did mention that the House and Senate are "not that far apart" in their separate bills, and that both legislative bodies and President Bush will attempt to propose laws that are advantageous to everyone.
A farmer himself, Allen Boyd understands the importance of the issues related to the farm bill. Boyd emphasized the need for non-carbon based fuels, such as ethanol or bio-fuels. He said that our nation is being threatened by the high cost of foreign oil, and that this cost will keep our great economy from being sustainable unless alternative energy sources can be developed.
According to Boyd, new specialty crops that are more prevalent in south Florida will be included in the new farm laws, as they do not already have programs written in the current legislation. There is also a consideration of payment limitations that will affect the peanut crop, which will be the first rewrite of this bill since the change in the peanut program in 2002. If the 2008 Farm Bill were for some reason not to be passed by the upcoming March 15 deadline, then the 1949 permanent law, with no peanut program, would go back into effect. Despite the short amount of time left, Boyd said that he is confident that the needed law will be passed in time.
After Boyd gave an overview of the bill, he opened the floor to questions from the audience. The main concerns expressed by attendees were the rising costs of fuel, the unaffordable cost of labor, and the need for better management of our natural resources.
On the oil issue, Boyd said, "We can’t get to where we are independent from foreign oil." He explained that the fuel industry in the U.S.A. is in a capitalistic system, and private industry has to work out its own problems. Since carbon based fuel is controlled by a small group of people in another part of the world, the government has to provide incentives in our tax codes to encourage production of alternative fuels, according to Boyd.
He also addressed consideration of drilling for oil off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico and in Alaska, and acknowledged that there is no one solution to our dependency on foreign oil. The rising cost of fuel has a direct effect on the rising cost of crops and other farm products.
When addressing concerns about immigration, Boyd recognizes that most people only hear the negative stigma about illegal immigration. However, the entire American service industry, especially the agriculture industry, is in dire need of an affordable workforce. Congressman Boyd emphasized that people come to America to work. Without migrant workers, more American industries will be forced to go overseas.
According to Boyd, our newly elected President will have to provide leadership in this issue and will have to work with Congress find a way to solve the immigration problem. Also, the employer community will have to play a big part in the solution. All in all, the American government needs to find a way to know who comes across our borders, why they are here, how long they will be here, and how to get them here to work legally.
Congressman Boyd referred to amnesty as "the lightning rod term" for immigration issues and said, "We are a nation of laws—if people have broken the law, we believe they should be punished." Boyd mentioned a possible incentive program for immigrants to pay their dues, leave, and come back into the country legally.
Another issue brought up at the luncheon was the water war between Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. Boyd criticized the three states for not coming to a settlement themselves, and explained that Georgia has done no planning in past years to manage their water.
Florida began its Water Management Districts over 30 years ago to ensure that our state would have manageable water resources. Boyd explained that although there is a lot of irrigated land in Georgia and Florida, the water resources have not been abused by farmers. However, large cities like Atlanta have no water management plans. He said that Georgia needs to start planning now because they cannot stop the water flow into Florida. We not only need water flow from Georgia into our farms and businesses, but also into the Apalachicola Bay system.
The last issue discussed was that of the University of Florida budget cuts that will affect the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences research centers in Florida. Industry leaders are advocating proportionate, across the board cuts. Florida Farm Bureau President John Hoblick and other industry leaders will meet with University of Florida President Dr. Bernie Machen within the next two weeks on this issue. It is important that Dr. Machen fully understands the importance of agricultural research to Florida’s farmers and producers as they battle diseases that affect their crops and products.
Boyd closed with a few remarks about agriculture, saying, "I am proud to be sitting in a room with people who have devoted their lives to agriculture." He reminded those in attendance that the National Ag Policy is closely related to our national security, noting that we have to sustain our agriculture industry in order to keep producing our own food and fiber. "Agriculture allows us to have the standard of living we enjoy", Boyd said, "and that what helps the agriculture industry in turn helps the consumer".
Boyd’s final statement was that less than 2 percent of our population is involved in production agriculture, but we still have the cheapest, safest food supply in the world.

Judge Glen Hess Formally Announces Candidacy For States Attorney Position

Hess is a man on a mission…
By Sid Riley

On Tuesday afternoon at the Jackson County Chamber offices, Judge Glenn Hess formally announced his entry into the political arena as he becomes a candidate for the position of States Attorney, running against the incumbent Steve Meadows. Hess recently stepped down from the secure position he has held for the past twelve years as Circuit Judge in the 14th Judicial Circuit, in preparation for seeking the job of States Attorney.
Hess is giving up a judgeship that offers him job security, state retirement, and pay and benefits that are on par with those of the State Attorney job. Why would he give up a prestigious position as Circuit Judge for a more political and demanding job as State Attorney? Hess states that he sees a need for improvement of the local law enforcement process, and feels that he can fill that need and thus better serve the citizens of this area.
Hess will be running as a Democrat. Since he is entering the race at a fairly late date, he states he is behind in fund raising and campaigning, but plans to be very, very active between now and the November election date. He emphasizes that Jackson County is very important to him in this effort, and he will be spending a lot of time in our communities.
He feels, at the present time, the office of State Attorney is lacking in training for young lawyers, is not prosecuting enough criminal cases, and places too much emphasis on plea bargains. He simply states "We can do better".

County Pays Tribute To Winston Stuart

Large crowd at visitation and funeral service
By Sid Riley

After an extended illness Winston Stuart has left his friends and family and has gone to meet his Lord. We will all miss him.
Winston and his wife Gina have served our community generously over their lifetimes. He has been a local realtor and businessman for over 30 years. He helped found the Chipola Board of Realtors, he served on many municipal boards, was active in the Republican Party, was a previous Marianna Mayor, was an active church member at the First Presbyterian Church in Marianna, and was a devoted father, grandfather and husband. We all appreciated his accomplishments, his hard work, and his friendly spirit.
The funeral was held at his church on Tuesday. Our love and prayers go to his family. For full obituary details see the Jackson County Times obituary section.

Kenny Griffin Wants To Do More For School System

Kenny Griffin wants to continue the work started during his tenure on the Jackson County School Board
By Sid Riley

Kenny Griffin currently represents District 2 on the Jackson County School Board. He has held that seat for twelve years, and wants to continue to serve the citizens of the county in order to complete the programs and projects that have been initiated during his tenure. Thus, he has announced to the Jackson County Times that he will campaign to retain his position on the School Board in this year’s election. He is opposed by Cottondale resident and Chipley Elementary teacher, Nancy Deese.
Kenny Griffin was born in Jackson County and attended Jackson County Public Schools, graduating from Cottondale High School and then Chipola College. He later attended Troy State College.
He is married to Mary Nell Drummond Griffin, also of Cottondale. They have two sons, Kevin and Brad who graduated from Cottondale High. They have five grandchildren.
Kenny is currently serving as Business Director with the Chipola Regional Workforce Board. He has over thirty years of management experience in the private sector, including holding the position of Vice President with the former Lehigh Furniture Company. He and his dad, R.A. Griffin, own and operate a small cattle operation.
Griffin has served for several years on the Board of Directors of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, and was Board Chairman in 2004. Kenny Griffin feels his many years of management and administrative experience bring a needed dimension to the School Board. Also, his work with the Chipola Regional Workforce Board has enhanced his perspective of the needed relationship between Education and Workforce Skills.
Griffin states that he is very proud of the progress the school system in Jackson County has made during his tenure on the School Board, especially in the area raising salaries for the employees of the system. With the probability of reduced budgets on the horizon, he feels experience in frugal management of resources will be essential over the next few years. Because of careful oversight of school funds over the past years, the Jackson County School District is entering this difficult period in sound financial condition.
Kenny states that during his next term he will continue to work closely with the School District in further implementation of the Career Academies program in each of our county High Schools. "My position with the Workforce Board will make coordination of these Career Academies programs easier and more effective," states Mr. Griffin. "I look forward to serving again as your School Board Member for District 2".
Kenny Griffin can be reached at

Flood Watch in Effect for Jackson County (March 7, 2007)

Heavy rain fell across much of Jackson County during the overnight hours and it continues to rain in some areas this morning. The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch for Jackson County and much of the surrounding area for today and tonight. The weather service indicates that there is a probability of some flooding along rivers and streams over the weekend.

The National Weather Service has also issued a Freeze Watch for Saturday night and early Sunday morning, indicating that temperatures could fall as low as the upper 20s.

As much as 2-4 inches of rain fell in some areas and the National Weather Service indicates that this creates a possibility for minor to moderate flooding along the Chipola and Apalachicola Rivers and other streams and creeks in the county. No widespread problems are expected, but if you live in an area that is prone to spring flooding, please exercise caution.

The change in the weather was brought on by a system moving inland from the Gulf of Mexico. Most of the rain has now moved on to our East, but a chance of thunderstorms remains in the forecast through the afternoon. By tomorrow, though, it should be partly cloudy and cooler with lows Friday night in the mid-40s and highs on Saturday in the 50s. A freeze watch is in effect for Saturday night and Sunday morning, so you should protect your tender plants and take other normal precautions for a frost.

As of 8 a.m. this morning, our Two Egg area reporting station measured 1.48 inches of rain in the last 24 hours, bringing the total so far this year to 14.5 inches.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Injured Child remains in Serious Condition

A 6-year-old girl who was injured near Campbellton when she was struck by a pickup truck at a school bus stop remains in serious condition at an Alabama hospital.

Keiric Wilson was struck while crossing Highway 2 about four miles east of Campbellton on Wednesday morning to get on her school bus. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, she was hit by a Chevrolet pickup driven by 57-year-old Terry McArdle of Slocumb, Alabama.

The girl was severely injured in the accident and was airlifted first to Flowers Hospital in Dothan and then to Children's Hospital in Birmingham. She underwent surgery there Wednesday night and her condition was upgraded from critical to serious.

The Florida Highway Patrol is continuing to investigate the accident.

Anniversary of the Battle of Natural Bridge is today

Today is the 143rd anniversary of the Battle of Natural Bridge, Florida. This 1865 battle preserved Tallahassee's status as the only Southern capital east of the Mississippi River not captured by Union forces during the Civil War.
The battle was also an important to the history of Jackson County and many men from our county took part in the fight.
In this week's print issue of the Jackson County Times, writer and historian Dale Cox looks at how the battle impacted Jackson County, so be sure to pick up a copy! You can also now read his comments and thoughts on local history by simply clicking the "Local History" button on the left hand side of this page.

This week's issue is on news stands now!

This week's print issue of the Jackson County Times is now available. Check your favorite location and pick up your copy today.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Rain Helping Lake Levels in Eastern Jackson County

An Online Exclusive

After a long dry winter, recent rains are helping lake levels return to normal in eastern Jackson County. Months of dry weather conditions had caused some small lakes and ponds to completely disappear and others had fallen to the lowest levels seen in many years.

Much needed rains, however, have restored many lakes and ponds in the Two Egg-Lovedale-Parramore area to fairly normal conditions, while water levels in others have shown dramatic improvement.

According to our Two Egg Weather Reporting Station, the area received a total of 8.5 inches of rain in February and another .52 inches on Monday night and Tuesday of this week. The total since January 1 has now exceeded 13 inches, the most seen in the area in many, many months.

While more is still needed, the recent rains have been a great relief to residents in this worried area of Jackson County. Similar rainfall amounts have been reported in other areas of the county.