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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sheriff’s Deputy Solves Chipola’s Cold Case 1/1/09

Case has been open and unsolved since 1987
By Sid Riley

Officer Rufus Baron recently came a step closer to solving a theft case which occurred on the Chipola Campus in 1987. At that time a Chipola student, Rita Lynn Hooks had her wallet stolen from her purse while eating in the Chipola school cafeteria. The wallet was never found.
Renovations of the school cafeteria are currently underway. The construction workers tore into a wall which separates the mens and ladies restrooms from the cafeteria. To their surprise, stuffed between the walls was a ladies blue wallet. They gave the wallet to Deputy Rufus Baron who was on duty on the campus.
Officer Baron engaged in some detective work and discovered that the former student of twenty one years ago now resides in Memphis, Tennessee. He found her telephone number, gave her a call and asked if she could ever recall losing her wallet during her years at Chipola. She responded that she vividly recalled having her wallet stolen from her purse on one occasion. The officer told her he had her wallet in hand and was prepared to return it to her.
So, after all of those years, the blue wallet is now on its way to Tennessee and its rightful owner……The criminal remains at large......but the search is ongoing.

Mark Sims Switches Sides 1/1/09

Sims changes "hats", not sure which is the "white hat" and which is the "black hat".
By Sid Riley

Author’s Note: This story also appeared on our front page lasat week. However, while I was writing the story my mind was saying "Mark Sims", but my fingers were typing "Chuck Sims". There are just too many Sims’es out there for me to keep up with! I know Homer, Henry, Hershel, Joynera, Danny, Chuck, and of course MARK! I have appropriately apologized to MARK and his family for my error. I hope this mistake isn’t a sign of "mad cow" starting to occur.

"Hopalong Cassidy" wore a black hat, but he was on the good side…so that even complicates things more", was the quip Sims gave when I kidded him over his dramatically changing roles within the judicial system. After working as a prosecutor for thirteen and one half years, working as hard as he could to put those indicted "bad guys" in jail…Sims has just joined Herman Laramore’s staff of Public Defenders, working to keep those same indicted individuals from unjustly being sent to prison.
There is no question it is a dramatic changing of hats, but which is the white hat and which is the black hat certainly depends on your point of view. "Life is full of new challenges and adventures", Sims stated. "I consider this a time of excitement and am looking forward to working in this role".
Mark Sims was the Chief Assistant State Attorney for Jackson and Calhoun counties under the realm of Steve Meadows. He will now be a full time Public Defender for Calhoun County, working for Herman Laramore. The Calhoun County court in Blountstown is under the jurisdiction of Judge Clark.
Sims is a 1985 graduate of Marianna High School, a graduate of Chipola College in 1989, graduated from FSU in 1991, and earned his Law Degree from the University of Miami in 1995. Upon graduation from Law School Sims went to work in the State Attorney office in the 14th Circuit. He is married to Lori Layne Sims, who attended schools in Blountstown. They have four children, with a fifth one on the way.
We all wish Mark Sims good luck in wearing his new hat. He looks good in both white and black.

Local Officers "Get It Right" 1/1/09

Potentially lethal incident is resolved without serious injuries.
By Sid Riley

Last Friday an incident occurred in Sneads in which responding police officers from the Sneads Police Department and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office handled with mature professionalism and restraint. These officers deserve commendation from us all for ‘getting it right’.
It appears that a citizen of Sneads, Mr. Larry Booth, had become very agitated and combative in a family incident which escalated into violence. Mr. Booth had forced his way into the family home on Mathis Drive in Sneads, had allegedly taken a large butcher knife and attacked and cut his uncle, and was continuing to threaten other members of the family.
Sneads Police Chief, Burt McAlpin and his brother, JCSO Investigator Jason McAlpin were among first responders to the 911 call which the family had made. They observed Booth in the edge of a nearby woods and went to that area where they ordered him to lie on the ground and drop the knife. Instead, Booth rushed towards the officers in a threatening manner, knife in hand.
The officers had their guns drawn and were prepared to shoot Mr. Booth in order to prevent him from physically attacking them. Bert McAlpin had armed himself with the Sneads Police department taser, and as Booth approached he fired the electrified darts into him. The electric shock instantly knocked Booth to the ground, face down, with the knife still in his hand but laying under him. The shock from a taser lasts for approximately five seconds, but this was long enough for the officers on the scene to overcome the suspect and after a struggle secure him with handcuffs.
This could easily have been a deadly incident. The responding officers had every justification for using their guns and perhaps killing Mr. Booth. Instead, they chose a less reactive course of action, used the taser, got their job done, and no one sustained any serious injuries. It was good, mature, professional police work.
Sheriff Lou Roberts cites this as a perfect case for the promotion of the appropriate use of tasers by officers as they perform their duties. "Tasers provide a "middle ground" for an officer to use in dealing with a violent, threatening incident. It is an option to use before resorting to deadly force."
A taser costs between $400 and $800, depending on the model and features. At the present time the Sheriff’s department has six tasers in possession. Sheriff Roberts would hope that could be increased by another ten to fifteen instruments so that every patrol vehicle on a shift could have a taser at hand. All officers are given certification training in the proper use of the device, and the course includes being "tased" yourself.
This is a story with a happy ending. The stabbing victim was released after treatment, no officers were injured in a potentially violent incident, and Mr. Booth is in jail awaiting his fate.
We at the Jackson County Times wish to congratulate Bert and Jason McAlpin for their good work.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Graceville School Gets Better and Better-12/18/08

Facility improvements have ground breaking
By Sid Riley

The illustrious group shown struggling to throw the first shovels full of dirt for the beginning of construction of several needed facility improvements at the sports complex of Graceville High were there for the ground breaking ceremony on Tuesday afternoon. The $641,715 improvement project includes two new locker rooms totaling 2856 sq. ft., an addition to the existing weight room of 720 sq.ft., and a much needed 720 ft. new restroom facility for public use during sports events.
The architectural work will be performed by Paul Donofro and Associates, and the construction will be by Floridian Construction of Destin.
After introductions by Stewart Wiggins, Lee Miller expressed the pleasure of the administrators and the school board in seeing this needed project started. He gave former School Superintendent, Danny Sims, who was also at the ceremony, recognition for the approval and planning for this project during his term as Superintendent.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Three Rivers State Park Has Significant Three Rivers State Park Has Significant Economic Impact Closure would cost local area $1.2 Million and 25 jobs

By Times Staff

Sneads – The State of Florida’s plan to save $239,268 by closing Three Rivers State Park would actually cost the businesses of Jackson County more than $1.2 Million a year.
A review of the state-prepared economic impact figures for the park presents a surprising story. Far from being an economic drain, Three Rivers provides a major boost to the economy of Jackson County – particularly the Sneads area.
Since 2004, Three Rivers State Park has hosted 80,073 visitors. The state estimates that the total economic impact provided by the park over that same period of time is $3,233,879. It is believed that the money spent in the local area by park visitors creates 25 jobs, only 3 of them state employees, and has resulted in sales tax collections over the last four years of $292,135.86.
In addition, the recommendation to close the park comes at a time when it is reporting its highest visitation numbers in years. The number of people visiting Three Rivers has increased by more than 3,000 people a year since 2004 and the annual economic impact of the park has increased by nearly $360,000 over the same period of time.
These figures, prepared by the state, indicate that the economic impact of closing the park would be much greater than was indicated in initial reports. Far beyond the 3 state employees that would risk losing their jobs, a closure of Three Rivers would cost Jackson County and the Sneads area in particular an estimated 22 private sector jobs. Businesses would lose $1.2 million per year in expenditures made by park visitors while the county and state would lose nearly $88,000 per year in sales tax revenue.
The park has been a fixture in Jackson County since 1955. When Lake Seminole was developed during the 40s and 50s, state and federal officials planned a series of such parks that would bring thousands of visitors to the Florida shore of the lake and provide a major economic boost to Jackson County. A number of the parks, however, were never built.
Over its 53 years of existence, Three Rivers has welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors and pumped tens of millions of dollars into the local economy. The park preserves a beautiful setting of rolling hills and shoreline along the sparkling blue waters of Lake Seminole. Facilities include picnic areas, hiking trails, boat landings, camping areas and cabin facilities.
The park is located on land owned by the U.S. Government, as it has been since it was established, but is under long-term lease to the state. State authorities have proposed that it be closed and the land returned to the federal government, a move that would not guarantee that facilities will remain open for public use. Federal authorities, in fact, have turned a number of their own recreational areas over to area counties to operate and some facilities constructed at the cost of thousands of taxpayer dollars have been closed.
Since 2004, Florida’s state budget has increased by more than $11 Billion. After discounting sales tax generated, the closure of Three Rivers would save the state only $151,299 while costing the local economy over $1.2 million and endangering 25 local jobs, all at a time when the nation’s economy is reported to be at its worst level since the Great Depression.
If you are concerned about this issue, please send a copy of this article to Marti Coley, Brad Drake, and other State Legislators.

County To Raise Wastewater Rates for Customers

By Sid Riley
107% Rise in electric charges by Florida Public Utilities has created loss situation for county.
The county is currently losing approximately $80,000 per year from its operation of wastewater services. This loss has been created by the significant added cost of electricity for operating the large pumps that are used in the system. The county operates a wastewater delivery system which serves businesses and residences along highway 90 west of Marianna’s city limits, and extending out to the I-10 interchange and the developments in that area. The county’s system pumps this waste into the city’s system for delivery to the new wastewater plant located fifteen miles south of Marianna, near Dry Creek.
Due to the 107% increase this year in electric rates charged by Florida Public Utilities, the customers using this wastewater service will soon receive at least a 20% increase in their rates. These rates will be finalized by the Board of Commissioners in early January. A workshop and subsequent public hearing on this issue is scheduled at 8:00 on January 13, at the County Commission Meeting Room.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rumors, Rumors, Rumors- Lowes not Closing

By Sid Riley
During this week rumors have been flying. I suppose the impending closure of our beloved Beall’s Department Store has shoppers very jumpy. All you have to do is listen to the doom and gloom spouted every day on television news stations and you can easily become victim to a "chicken little" mentality.
One of the newest and most extreme rumors that is going around the county is the rumor that Lowe’s is planning to close after the holiday season. This was followed by similar rumors about Sonny’s Bar-B-Q, Ruby Tuesday’s, and others. The sky seemed to be falling…at least out at our I-10 interchange.
In response to these predictions I contacted Mr. Mike Brenner, District Manager of Lowe’s for this area. He confirmed that he had also heard all of these rampant rumors, and wanted the opportunity to stop any further spreading of this negative news.
"We are proud of our Marianna location, are very profitable here, our chain is still expanding, we just opened a new store in DeFuniak Springs, and we are not…I repeat …we are NOT planning to close our store in Marianna, " he stated clearly and firmly.
After talking to Mr. Brenner I decided to go across the street to Sonny’s to talk to their management, but they were so busy I couldn’t find a parking space…so I gave up and returned to the Jackson County Times offices. It appears the sky is not falling after all.

Three Rivers State Park is a Crossroads of History

By Dale Cox
Sneads – For more than fifty years, Three Rivers State Park has served as an often overlooked scenic and historical treasure to the people of Jackson County. With the park now on the state chopping block, I thought it might be of interest this week to look closer at this outstanding facility.
The view from the picnic area at Three Rivers is one of the finest in all of Florida. The bluff top picnic tables provide a sweeping view of Lake Seminole, the 37,500 acre manmade reservoir created during the 1950s by the construction of the Jim Woodruff Dam between Chattahoochee and Sneads.
The lake covers the original confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers, streams called "Prehistoric Highway 101" by one Florida archaeologist. In fact, archaeological research in this area at the time of the building of the dam revealed Native American mounds, hunting camps and village sites by the hundreds in the area now under or adjoining the lake.
One of these villages, dating from slightly before the time of Christ, is located along the lakeshore of Three Rivers State Park.
For much of our nation’s early history, the Chattahoochee, Flint and Apalachicola River system was a vital transportation network. Canoes gave way to flatboats, flatboats gave way to steamboats and steamboats eventually gave way to barges, but over time inconceivable tons of cargo were moved up and down these rivers. They played a vital role in opening Northwest Florida, West Georgia and East Alabama to settlement and in the development of these states as we know them today.
The hill at the southern edge of Three Rivers is known as "Gorrie Hill" to this day. It earned this name because it was the home during the early 19th century of Florida’s famed inventor, Dr. John Gorrie. He lived there prior to moving to Apalachicola, where he went on to invent the artificial ice machine and a method of refrigeration that paved the way for such modern conveniences and necessities as refrigerators, freezers, ice makers and even air conditioning.
When Lake Seminole was created during the 1950s, federal and state officials envisioned a day when eastern Jackson County would be a recreational wonderland. Plans were made for a number of parks and boat landings that would provide access to the lake and spur economic development and residential growth in the region.
After building the lake however, plans for many of these parks fell off one by one. Three Rivers State Park and several nearby boat landings and parks (Sneads Park, Parramore Park and Landing, Neal’s Landing, etc.) are all that remain of the once ambitious program to bring economic life to eastern Jackson County.
Three Rivers became an official state park in 1955 and now offers camping, fishing, picnicing, hiking and other outdoor opportunities to people from around the world. More than 20,000 people visit each year to enjoy the beautiful lakefront setting and experience the peace and relaxation of one of Florida’s prettiest state parks.
Editor’s note: Writer and historian Dale Cox is the author The History of Jackson County, Florida: Volume One and several other books on local history. His books are available locally at Chipola River Book and Tea in downtown Marianna (across from the Battle of Marianna monument) or online at

The Voice of Chipola Is Getting Louder and Stronger

By Sid Riley

Channel 4 CCTV is growing in popularity in our community
Chipola Television CCTV Channel 4 on cable started operations in 2006 on a very limited budget, with only four hours per day allocated for programming. Today it still operates on a very limited budget, with daily programming increased to ten hours per day.
With 4, 958 cable viewers on the Comcast system, CCTV under the direction of Royce Reagan, is steadily increasing the number of locals that are "tuning in" to Channel 4 to see local people discussing local subjects, and engaging in local events. It is informative, entertaining, interesting, educational, and relative to what local citizens want to experience. As a result, it is gaining in popularity on a daily basis.
At the present time the programming schedule is:
Mornings - 6:30 to 8:30 Mid Day- 11:00 to 1:00 Evenings - 5:00 to 10:00
Among the most popular locally produced shows is "Political Forum" and "River Talk" on Wednesday evenings, Dr. O’Daniel and "Covenant Hospice" on Thursday evenings, and Hospital Talk on medical subjects with Rosie Smith. On weekends the station will be featuring Chipola Basketball, Christmas Parades, and local festivals. Another regular and popular program is "Chipola Talks" by Royce Reagan.
All of this scheduling, taping, and operating is conducted by Reagan and four part time student helpers. "Every family has 2.3 children, and I am employing the .3 part of that number", quips Reagan. "This is a continuing learning process, and we are certainly continuing to learn every day."
Just as Channel 11 television has become an important part of Florida State University operations, we can expect CCTV to continue to grow in popularity and importance at Chipola. Eventually, the operations of the station will become a formal applied teaching program, with course credit awarded to the students who work and learn through the station operations.

A "World Class" Musician Is Now Living in Graceville

"Bob Snyder may be the best clarinet player in the world."
By Sid Riley

Some people are blessed genetically with a beautiful voice which enables them to emit wonderful sounds, pleasing to the ear, inspiring to the soul. Bob Snyder was not blessed with a beautiful voice.
He made up for this shortfall by picking up a clarinet, and learning to "sing" through his instrument. He is able to make sounds on the reed instrument that cause shivers to run through his enthralled audience as he inserts his emotional feelings into the moving tones that fill the air. He is a rare talent. His rendition of "Amazing Grace" can not help but call up a tear, and when he plays "America The Beautiful" your heart swells with national pride.
Bob was predestined to be an outstanding musical talent, genetically and environmentally. He was born in Danville, Indiana into a musical family. His parents were professional musicians. At the age of eight this child prodigy played his first professional engagement, he played alto saxophone in the high school band when he was in the third grade, at the age of ten he was part of a family group called the "Hillbilly Kids" which toured Indiana, at age eleven he was playing the clarinet with the Hoosier Symphony at Canterbury College. When he was thirteen he appeared on the Horace Heidt Amateur Hour, and became a featured performer with the Indiana State Legion Band in Indiana.
During high school he won first place awards all four years in the Indiana All State Music Competition. After graduation from high school Snyder entered the Marine Corps, and soon had an opportunity to audition for the Air Force Band in Washington D.C., including the Air Force Glenn Miller Band. He was an active part of the Air Force Band throughout his military career, including the Air Force Academy Band.
After separation from the military he played with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and the Ted Weems Orchestra. Then he became a member of the Memphis Horns, and in 1966 moved to Detroit where he was a member of the Motown Recording Orchestra. He later toured Europe with Lionel Hampton and became a member of his organization and continued to appear with Hampton until the 1990’s. Lionel Hampton ranks Bob Snyder’s clarinet skills with those of his old boss, Benny Goodman.
In 1984 Snyder became Music Director at the prestigious Grand Hotel, a well known summer resort in the upper Michigan peninsula. During the off season for the Grand Hotel he operated his own supper club called "Bob Snyder’s Deck Restaurant" at Marco Island, Florida.
This world class musician has played with a long list of recognized artists during his career. These include Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, The Temptations, Diana Ross, The Supremes, Gladys and the Pips, and many, many others.
Of his numerous CD’s, those featuring his rendition of "Amazing Grace" have created the greatest degree of national attention, rave reviews, and significant album sales. It was the connection with the success of that particular song that led him to respond to an area realtor when he and his wife Jan were told of a home site meeting their requirements was located in "Graceville", on Piano Road. "We felt there had to be some divine intervention that was leading us here", Snyder explains.
Since relocating into our area in order to escape from the south Florida population explosion, Snyder has entered into a new phase of his musical evolution. This master musician has begun to transfer his unique talents to others, through teaching. He is teaching privately in Marianna, he is working actively with the high school band in Marianna, and Holmes County, and is generating great excitement on the Bible College of Florida campus in Graceville.
At BCF Snyder currently performs with the BCF Show Band and wind ensemble under the direction of Ron Branning. The development of this jazz group has everyone within earshot on campus tapping their foot to the rhythm.
Snyder has played at several cultural events around Jackson County during the past few years, including this year’s "Afternoon With The Artists" event on the Chipola Campus. We are blessed to have a musician with his unique talents and musical background residing in our area. If you see any local event being promoted where he is scheduled to appear, you will not want to miss an opportunity to hear him play.
He and the BCF Show Band will be performing a Christmas Show on the BCF campus this weekend performing "The Gospel of Christmas" at the R.G. Lee Chapel at 8:00 PM on Friday, December 5, and on Saturday an afternoon show at 3:00 and an evening show at 7:00 PM.
To learn more about Bob Snyder, or to order any of his music, you can go to his web site at You can even hear some of his great music there.

Ed Revell, Former Farm Bureau Agent Passes At 70th Birthday

Well known Jackson County citizen will be missed by family and friends.
By Sid Riley

An avid sportsman, active supporter of local athletics, professional Farm Bureau Agent, defender of agricultural interests, wonderful father and loving grandfather, devoted husband, follower of his church, and all round great fellow. Those words tallied into a sentence, best describe the life of Ed Revell.
Sunday the family had planned to celebrate his seventieth birthday…instead they hosted a public viewing and family visitation at the James and Sykes Funeral Home in preparation for his funeral service at the Marianna Church of Christ Of Latter Day Saints, and burial in Bristol. Ed’s wife of fifty two years, Judy Dean Revell, greeted what seemed to be an unending line of well-wishers. She was bolstered by her large extended family which included their children, Stephen and Bunnee, a long line of grand children, as well as Ed’s immediate family members.
Some who attended the visitation stated the turnout was among the largest they could remember. This outpouring of concern for the family was the best way our community could express its feeling of loss.
Ed was born in Bristol, Florida and attended Liberty County High School. Like his father and three brothers, he played football for Liberty County as well as other sports while in school. An article in the Tallahassee Democrat during the 1955-56 season stated " Five all-conference stars and four other seniors graduated, and left Dubose with a small nucleus for "55". Only two of the six returning lettermen are now playing in the same positions they did last year. ‘Edward Revell, a 150 pound senior is still on hand to direct the Bulldogs modified T formation offense. A versatile performer, Revell owns two varsity letters and was the regular quarterback last year." Ed also played basketball and pitched for the FFA Fast Pitch Softball team.
In August of 1966, after graduation, he married his high school sweetheart, Judy Dean. Ed started selling life insurance with Independent Life, and from that point forward, the insurance industry became his profession until he retired from Farm Bureau Insurance Company in Marianna in 2001.
Ed Revell was popular, well known, respected,…and will be missed by us all.