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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Brett Barbee, age 19, is killed in Sunday accident.

By Sid Riley

A Sneads family is encased in the depth of terrible pain today as they mourn the loss of their nineteen year old son, Brett Barbee, who was killed in a Sunday morning accident at the intersection of Reddoch Road and Highway 69. Another young man from Grand Ridge who was driving the other vehicle, Marvin Mixon age 20, is also listed in serious condition as a result of the accident.

The State Police accident report states that Barbee failed to heed the stop sign at the intersection and entered the path of Mixon’s vehicle who was traveling northbound on SR 69. The 1999 Jeep driven by Barbee and the 2003 Toyota Pickup driven by Mixon both overturned after the impact.

Brett was currently enrolled at Chipola College, and was a graduate of Sneads High School. He was the son of Donald Barbee, Sr. (deceased) and is survived by his mother, Jackie, stepfather, Larry Watts, three brothers, a sister and a step-sister, and a host of other relatives. Brett was loved and enjoyed by all who knew him, he will be missed by many.

See our obituary section for more details and information about funeral arrangements.

Editor’s note: Our deepest sympathies go to the family of Brett Barbee. To all teenagers we say, please remember that in one moment your life can change from a situation where the world is waiting at your fingertips….and the next moment you are dead or horribly crippled for life.
Please drive carefully.

Paint and Pork Time of Year!

Spring Festival is only four weeks away.
By Sid Riley

If all you plan to do is to go to the festivities, eat a lot of great barbecue, enjoy the music, watch the fireworks display, tour the arts and crafts show, visit the many vendor booths, and generally have a great weekend of enjoyment….then you still have plenty of time to prepare yourself. However, if you plan to participate in any of these events you need to be picking up an application and signing up.
Thursday – April 16:
The weekend will begin with the special select barbecue dinner on Thursday evening, April 16. Only 500 tickets will be sold to those real connoisseurs of barbecue who want a meal prepared by the best of the professional teams who will be competing at the event. Musical entertainment will be provided by "2nd Time Around" for this kick-off function. This part of the festival will be sponsored by Jackson Hospital.
Friday- April 17:
Friday morning fires up the grills. Tempting smelling smoke will fill the meadow and perhaps reach downtown Marianna as the pork begins to sizzle on the professional team grills and the local backyard bragger grillers grills, as both groups apply their special techniques to generate their signature flavors.
The backyard grillers will turn in their delicacies late Friday afternoon for judging. The pro’s will do their thing on Saturday. At 7:30 the Friday cooking will be judged and scores tabulated.
The Pros will cook and compete in three categories: whole hog-pork shoulder-and pork ribs. The Backyard Cookers will compete in five areas: Anything Butt-Stew-Poultry-Dessert-and Sauce. Also, contestants can enter the "Peoples Choice" event which involves cooking 10 pounds of chopped meat which will be presented to the public on Saturday in the "Peoples Choice Tent", for the small cost of $3.00. Those who dine in this tent will then vote for which meat they enjoyed the most while they were in the tent "piggin’ out". The meat for these entries is provided to the cooks by the festival.
It is anticipated that approximately ten professional teams will participate in this certified Memphis Barbeque Network event, traveling from states throughout the Southeast. Thirty to fifty certified judges will determine the outcome of the contest. Over twenty "Backyard" entries are expected.
The highlight of Friday evening’s festival festivities will be a huge fireworks extravaganza sponsored by Marianna Toyota. Music for the evening will be provided by Rebel Syndicate Band.
The Arts and Crafts displays in the Citizens Lodge Building will be open on Friday from noon until 10:00 PM. On Saturday their schedule will be from 9:30 AM until 7:30 PM.
Saturday – April 18:
You might want to put on your jogging shorts and sneakers for the 5K run on Saturday morning. This event is sponsored by Ben Saunders Dentistry. For details about the morning run, call 557-0982.
Saturday is the day the Professional Cooks will fire up and apply their special techniques to the Whole Hog, Ribs, and Shoulder preparations for judging which begins at 10:00 AM and continues through the day until final judging at 2:15 PM. The Peoples Choice judging will also occur during this time. The winners will be announced and prizes presented in a special ceremony at 6:30 PM on the Main Stage.
For more information, or to obtain an entry form call Richard Kunde at 850-209-2959, or go to, or

Pregnant With No Where To Go For Help!

A Women’s Pregnancy Center can help you find HOPE in this situation
By Sid Riley

In September of 2008, just six months ago, the Marianna office of "a Women’s Pregnancy Center", a non-profit organization, opened. Today they are helping over thirty local women monthly through their pregnancies with counseling, moral support, prenatal and postnatal supplies, and education, to make informed choices. They are filling an existing social need in our community by providing caring, Christian assistance to women who find themselves alone and pregnant.
This organization was started twenty years ago by a group of concerned Christian citizens, and today is offering services in Tallahassee, Madison, and Marianna. They have saved thousands of lives of unborn babies by the guidance and assistance they have provided for distressed, pregnant young women.
Sherri Fejes, the Marianna Director, is very excited about the work the organization is doing, what they have already been able to accomplish, and what the future holds. "Our small budget of $35,000 per year is totally funded from private sources such as donations and fund raising events. The Tallahassee office of "a Women’s Pregnancy Center" has graciously helped us during our start-up phase, but we need to become totally self sustaining, so they can then help foster other much needed centers in other communities. The people and organizations of Jackson County have been very generous thus far, and this is greatly appreciated, but is also an ongoing need. We have a big fund raising event scheduled to occur in April, with our Celebration of Life Banquet."
She proudly displays the $23,000 ultra-sound fetal monitoring machine which was donated to the center during the first month of operation. It was given by a benevolent donor who wishes to remain anonymous in this Christian act. "This ultra-sound machine is a great assistance to the Center, and vividly demonstrates the level of support we are getting from those who care", Sherri exclaimed.
The main objective of the center’s programs is to assist women and men to make informed decisions, and in the process to hopefully prevent an abortion from taking place. In complete confidentiality they will provide these men and women counseling on sexual behavior, pregnancy testing, and if a pregnancy has developed, they will provide compassionate guidance and needed assistance to the mother and father to be. They will assist in obtaining eligibility for Medicaid and Healthy Start programs, and they try to maintain a supply of donated pre-natal and post-natal supplies for the mothers. Some of the most needed items are gowns, bibs, infants blankets, crib sheets, lap pads, towels and washcloths, ointment, cotton balls, Q-tips, burp clothes, diapers, strollers, and gift cards.
When a woman comes to their center seeking guidance and help, Sherri and her volunteer staff are there to help. In the process they will explain in detail what could occur should she decide to abort. They inform her that although the situation is serious, it is not the end of the world, help is available, and options do exist. If adoption appears to be a desired alternative after delivery, they will assist in making arrangements and decisions for that purpose. If the decision is to keep and raise the infant, they will provide all possible guidance and assistance in successfully accomplishing that goal.
Sherri related the following revealing information:
· Pregnancies are up 47% in Leon County.
· No doctors in Jackson County are performing abortions. These operations are being performed in Tallahassee and in Pensacola.
· Girls as young as 10 years of age have become pregnant in Jackson County.
· 3 out of 5 teenagers in Jackson County have a STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease)
· The Center is partnered with the Jackson County Health Department, Healthy Start and Healthy Families, Dr. Vanessa Johnson and Dr. Speights in helping the women of Jackson County.
· The center will also provide counseling to assist women through trauma of choices previously made or choices not yet made.
Sherri Fejes lives in Cottondale with her husband Mark, who is the pastor of the Crossroads Baptist Church. They came to BBI in Graceville in 1995 from Arizona, and decided to make Cottondale their home. They have two daughters. Over the past six months Sherri has spoken before several civic groups including the Pilot’s Club, and numerous church organizations. She hopes to speak to area high school and middle school students, but has not yet had that opportunity.
If you have time, used or new baby items, or can afford a financial donation, this organization is certainly worthy of your help. They are open at their offices at 4469-A Clinton Street in Marianna on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM., Thursdays from 10:00 AM till 8:00 PM, and Fridays 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Walk-in’s are welcome. Phone 850-526-4673 (HOPE), or

They Save Lives Every Day

By Sid Riley
Marianna Dialysis Center gives new life-blood to those who need this life sustaining treatment.
We all tend to take our kidneys for granted. Most people will go through their life with their kidneys functioning normally, cleaning the body’s poisonous toxins from our systems every moment of every day. March has been designated "Kidney Awareness Month", thus sponsoring the attention to this critical area of public health by this newspaper.

However, if you happen to be one of those unfortunates who experience the tragedy of kidney failure, you will suddenly find your lifestyle and your priorities dramatically altered. If you reside locally, the Marianna Dialysis Center which is located in the old Sears building on Lafayette Street across from the Chamber, will become a very important aspect of your life. It will suddenly become necessary for you to spend four hours, three days per week in this building, undergoing dialysis and having your blood cleansed. If you fail to have this done….you will die.
Marianna Dialysis Center is owned and operated by DaVita, the largest provider of this treatment in the country. DaVita has over 1,400 outpatient dialysis centers spread over 43 states, and serve over 110,000 patients.
At the Marianna Center the Administrator is Robin Wood Gay. Robin and Christina Norris, RN, Clinical Nurse Manager are joined by ten teammates, including RN’s, LPN’s, PCT"s (Patient Care Technicians), and Administrative Assistant, a Social Worker, Reuse and Biomed Technicians. Together they provide this lifesaving treatment twice per week to 71 local citizens who have lost their kidney function.
The center’s Medical Director is Dr. Scott Dean of Panama City. Physicians are in the facility two days per week, thus enabling every patient to be observed by an M.D. at least once every week. This facility has 21 dialysis stations, each with a computerized monitoring system and a personal television for the patient to watch during the four hour treatment. Each machine costs approximately $15,000.
The most common causes of kidney failure are uncontrolled high blood pressure, and uncontrolled diabetes. The most common symptoms are fluid retention and swelling, shortness of breath, dizziness, and sometimes victims experience a metallic taste. It is possible for failed kidneys to recover function, but this is a rare occurrence. Robin Gay states she has only seen this happen on five occasions in all of her years of experience. The longest time she has known a patient to remain on dialysis is 22 years, and that patient is still in treatment.
Many of those on dialysis are on the kidney transplant lists for hospitals which provide this operation, but the list is long and the waiting time can last for many years. However, if a family member is willing to donate a kidney, and the necessary genetic matching is acceptable, a transplant can be arranged without waiting. The cut-off age for receiving a kidney through the donation waiting systems is 72 to 75 years of age.
Dialysis can be paid by Medicare under the Social Security program if the patient has at least 2.5 years of contribution history to the system. Also, VA benefits will qualify for this service. Of course, Medicaid will also pay for the treatment.
Robin Gay and the staff at the Dialysis Center are very excited about a planned relocation of the Center, which is scheduled to occur in October of this year when a new, custom designed and built, 7500 sq. ft. dialysis facility will be built on a site across the street from the Senior Citizens Center on Optimist Drive.
Thus, the next time you are driving down Lafayette Street in Marianna and see the Marianna Dialysis Center building on the corner at Russ Street, you will now know what is going on inside the building. Please take time to say a prayer for those who are receiving this wonderful treatment, and also pray that neither you nor any of your family ever has need of their services. Also, be thankful the facility is here in case the need does arrive.
To learn more about DaVita go to

Meet Henry Prescott

Candidate for Board of Directors, West Florida Electric Co-Op Country Grocery Store Owner, active in community affairs, rancher and farmer, church member, Mason, Gideon International member, and WFEC Board Member since 1980.

"I appreciate you stopping by. Come back to see me any time". That is the warm greeting and cordial farewell that you will get from long time northern Holmes County resident and West Florida Electric board trustee Henry Prescott. "Mr. Henry" as he is affectionately called by the locals of the Pine Log community on Highway 81, has lived in this rural area for over 80 years and is now running for re-election to the cooperatives’ board for another term.
Prescott and his late wife Rochelle reared five children including Joan, Becky, Scotty, Christine, and Jerry who is deceased. Mr. Henry has five grandchildren to boast about, especially when it comes to ball games. In addition to fishing, which he truly loves to do, Prescott likes to attend his grandchildren’s baseball games and brag on their performances just as much as he brags about his fishing. That is a true grandparent in every sense of the word.
Prescott has had a long and varied work history. He owned and operated a large grocery store in the Pine Log community for over 50 years. During this same time he also owned and managed a cattle ranch and timber farming operation in the same area. Prescott has and continues to be very active in county and community affairs. He is a former member of the Holmes County Planning Commission and FHA Board. He is an active member of the New Hope Masonic Lodge, Shriners, Gideons International, and the Pine Log Volunteer Fire Department.
Mr. Henry continues to serve on the cooperatives board of trustees, having worked on it since 1980. During his tenure on the cooperatives’ board Prescott has played a key role in major accomplishments of this body which have benefited and continue to benefit the member owners. Some of these accomplishments include the passage of the mail ballot proposal, approval to install and implement the prepaid metering system, approval and implementation of the automated meter reading upgrade, approval of the gas to energy electricity production process in partnership with Waste Management Corporation and approval of the Graceville Industrial Park land sale for the construction of the Graceville Prison and Work Camp.
Prescott currently serves on the boards’ Member Services and Finance and Administration committees. He has over 29 years of experience and dedicated service to the cooperatives’ member owners in Calhoun, Holmes, Jackson, and Washington Counties. As for the future of the electric utility industry and specifically West Florida Electric, Prescott sees it as a huge challenge ahead. He explained that the rising cost of fossil type fuels such as coal and crude oil is putting a strain on an already cost sensitive industry due in part to the national and global financial crisis. The rising cost of these fuels along with natural gas must be passed along from the generation and transmission facilities that use these fuels to help produce electricity to the distribution utilities like West Florida Electric.
However, Prescott is optimistic that through hard work, dedication, team spirit, and education of the consumer, that this and other challenges that loom ahead, can be met and overcome. It is ironic that the characteristics that exemplify Henry Prescott and define his life are the very same traits that will help West Florida Electric and the rural electric utility industry as a whole meet the challenges that lie ahead. Mr. Prescott concluded by saying that, "I hope that the member owners will see fit to allow me the honor and privilege of serving them for three more years."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Marianna Battlefield Draws Growing Number of Tourists to Jackson County

By Times Staff

Marianna – Improved recognition of the national and even international significance of a local Civil War event is drawing growing numbers of tourists to Jackson County. They are coming to see the site of the Battle of Marianna, but are also visiting local hotels, restaurants and business.
On Saturday, for example, a group of more than 60 military officers from around the world visited Marianna to learn about the tactics of the 1864 battle and see sites associated with the fighting. It was the second time Fort Rucker has arranged for a large group to visit the battlefield within the past year and countries ranging from Canada and Mexico to Germany and even the Philippines were represented.
U.S. officials indicate that part of their goal in hosting officers from around the world is to provide them examples for the futures of their own country by illustrating how the United States has developed into a great nation from a time of great division and conflict during the War Between the States.
Local historian Dale Cox, who spoke to the group through an interpreter, indicated that the military contingent was just one of many groups, large and small, that have been making their way to Jackson County to learn about the battle. His 2007 book - The Battle of Marianna, Florida – is now in its third year of international distribution and has attracted the attention of readers from around the world.
The group also heard from Commander Robert Daffin of the Theophilus West Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and had an opportunity to visit with men and women portraying citizens of the era. The tour was coordinated by SCV member Ashley Pollette.
"In just the last six months I’ve visited with an amazing variety of people wanting to learn more about the Battle of Marianna," Cox said, indicating that he has spoken with visitors from as far away as Texas, Kansas and Maine in addition to the military groups. "There is so much about this battle that has been traditionally overlooked," the author continued, "from the fact that a Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded for an incident during the fighting to the role of women and even children in the battle."
Cox further noted that the Battle of Marianna involved both white and black troops and that more than 600 Jackson Countians held in slavery gained their freedom as a result of the engagement. "For most of the local participants," he noted, "it was about defending their homes and families."
Although it was small in size, Cox’s research has revealed that the battle was of enormous significance. Jackson and three nearby counties sustained more economic damage as a result of the raid on Marianna than any other area of Florida, South Georgia or South Alabama. The expedition to Marianna, in fact, covered more ground than Sherman’s March to the Sea.
Editor’s Note: More information on the Battle of Marianna can be obtained on the internet at or by reading The Battle of Marianna, Florida, Dale Cox’s book on the event, which is available online at or locally at Chipola River Book and Tea in Downtown Marianna.

The "Rest" of the 911 Story

Marianna Police Dispatch Protects Citizens of the City
By Sid Riley

Last week we published a story which told of the great job our dispatch center at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is doing in providing 911 emergency response throughout the county. After reading this story, someone e-mailed me questioning why I had not also told the story of the great job being done by the 911 dispatchers who work for the Marianna Police Department.
Located in the front reception area of the Marianna Police Department facility, this group of dedicated dispatchers and officers are standing by in case a citizen of the city needs help. It is a 24-7 service which is always there serving the people.
When a person first makes a 911 call, it will ring at the dispatch center in the Sheriff’s office. If the call is originating from inside the Marianna city limits, a "hot transfer" will automatically be made to the Marianna Police Office dispatch room. The city dispatchers can activate the city fire department response, or they can contact county fire and rescue for ambulance requirements, or they can dispatch a city patrol vehicle to the scene. These acts are all performed within a matter of seconds….and help is on its way!
The dispatch room also maintains radio contact with city patrol officers in the field, answers all incoming routine calls to the department, and provides 911 response actions. Every morning the dispatchers call between 80 to 100 elderly citizens in the city who are enrolled in the "Police Care" system. This system assures these elderly citizens are ok each morning. If they do not answer the call, a patrol officer is dispatched to their home to investigate the situation. This service has saved many lives…right here in our community.
The center is normally staffed by five dispatchers who work four days on, two days off on an eight hour shift basis. At present there are only four dispatchers employed. The unit is supervised by Sgt. Irene Williams and Lieutenant Francis Pavis.
The dispatch staff includes:
Stephanie Miller, William McDowell, Francis Yon, and Pierre Rhodes
The citizens of Marianna owe all of these public servants a debt of gratitude for the role they are playing in making the Marianna community a safe place to live.

Former Representative Allan Bense Speaks At Repubican Function

Former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Speaks at Jim’s Buffet and Grill By Sid Riley

"These are bad days for the GOP, but the pendulum will swing back our way", were the words of encouragement offered by former Representative and Speaker of the House, Allan Bense as he addressed the local Republican Club on Tuesday. Bense is currently the elected President of "Enterprise Florida" the economic development organization which combines the private and state efforts to recruit new industry to Florida, or to expand existing industries. Their organization took an active role in our local recruitment of Family Dollar Distribution, and Green Circle Bio Energy.
Bense stated that in these times it is difficult for a conservative, pro-life, anti-tax, anti-large government elected official from the panhandle to be effective in Tallahassee, with the liberal media constantly working against them. He praised our local representative Marti Coley for the work she is doing in Tallahassee. Bense stated that she had the needed personal attributes and common sense it takes to be effective in that arena.
Bense also stated that he was strongly in favor of term limits. "Sure, we have lost a lot of good legislators because of the rule, but we have removed many, many bad ones at the same time. These guys were rooted in and it was impossible to oust them because their constituencies were motivated to reelect them for personal gains. The existing process is much better".
He stated he had always been guided by five principles which he held to, despite any pressures he was under to support some legislation which violated one of those principles. These five principles are:

- Always work towards the smallest role possible for government.
- Always work for the least possible amount of taxation.
- Always work for the preservation of families.
- Always work for personal accountability for actions taken.
- Always work for preservation of personal liberties.
In the matter of the existing problems in banking…he feels the greedy banks who took unjustified risks seeking huge profits are now being rewarded by government while those banks who followed good, sound practices are being ignored. He questions the leadership which exists in Washington…for instance he stated he would rather have "Barney Fife" looking after the Financial Services Committee than have Barney Frank.
He stated the Republican party is getting what it deserves at this moment. "We had it all, and didn’t know how to manage it", he explained. We overspent in a foolish manner and abandoned the basic beliefs of our party.
At the state level he feels there are too many permitting agencies which have a combined negative impact on existing and potential new industries in our state. He believes our environmental concerns and enacted legislation has gone past the middle area of sensible reason, and is tilted too much toward the extreme. He feels workman’s compensation insurance needs reform, he feels the CAT insurance fund program is putting all Florida property owners at risk of financial overload in the event of a huge catastrophe. He favors tax reform in the state, and better educational funding systems.
When asked what objectives he had for his term as leader of Enterprise Florida, he stressed recruitment of new industries with high paying jobs, and expansion of existing industries. In order to recruit international companies he feels the organization must develop a method of reaching out to these potential new industries through a network of foreign presence sponsored by the funding of Enterprise Florida.
Most of those in attendance voiced their support for Allan Bense to seek the office of Senator at the first opportunity.

Two Rabid Raccoons in Jackson County

The first alarm was sounded when a raccoon received by the Environmental Health Division of the Jackson County Health Department on February 27, 2009 tested positive for rabies according to lab results received from the Department of Health Pensacola Branch Lab. The raccoon fought with and was killed by two dogs at a home on Magnolia Rd., south of Marianna. The dogs have been placed in quarantine to prevent possible spread of the disease.
Then just a few days later on March 5, a second similar incident occurred at a rural home on Kenya Trail, east of Marianna. This raccoon also fought with and was killed by dogs, and the dogs have been placed in quarantine. This raccoon also tested positive for rabies.
T.G. Harkrider, Environmental Health Director at the Jackson County Health Department stated that "anyone having knowledge of bites or other exposure from a suspected rabid animal to humans or to domestic animals should immediately contact the Health Department at 482-9227 during normal working hours". The Jackson County Health Department has an answering service to relay information for assistance after hours and on weekends concerning animal bites and other exposure. This answering service can be reached by calling 526-2412. "Please call us with information and questions related to exposure" Harkrider stated emphatically. "We need to act quickly in some cases to save people’s lives. Never shoot a biting animal in the head" he added. "An intact brain is needed to determine if the animal is rabid. If you shoot them in the head and destroy the brain, we have to assume the animal was rabid. Without negative lab results, the full range of treatment to the victim has to begin at once. Please call us! We are reachable 24 hours a day and 7 days a week through our answering service at 526-2412".
Residents are also reminded that Jackson County and the State of Florida have laws requiring vaccination of all dogs and cats. PLEASE HAVE YOUR PET(S) VACCINATED.
For additional information contact T.G. Harkrider, Jr. Environmental Health Director for the Jackson County Health Department at 850-482-9227.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Little Miss Cottondale Needs Your Help

Recently Little Miss Cottondale McKenzie Gay was diagnosed with a brain tumor. At just 8 years old, McKenzie will have to endure several months of treatment. She is the daughter of Damara and Willie Gay of Alford. Friends of the Gay family have rallied together in order to encourage Jackson County citizens to aid in raising funds for McKenzie and her parents.
The family is currently at Savannah Memorial Hospital in Georgia and will remain there for 6 to 8 weeks while McKenzie goes through treatment. McKenzie was officially diagnosed on Thursday, February 19, 2009. Family and friends have set up an account for those who would like to help by donating funds to cover medical expenses. The account has been set up through Sun Trust Bank and the number is 1000086611497. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Willie at 557-7047.
On behalf of the Jackson County Times Staff, our prayers go out to McKenzie and her family.
Recently Little Miss Cottondale McKenzie Gay was diagnosed with a brain tumor. At just 8 years old, McKenzie will have to endure several months of treatment. She is the daughter of Damara and Willie Gay of Alford. Friends of the Gay family have rallied together in order to encourage Jackson County citizens to aid in raising funds for McKenzie and her parents.
The family is currently at Savannah Memorial Hospital in Georgia and will remain there for 6 to 8 weeks while McKenzie goes through treatment. McKenzie was officially diagnosed on Thursday, February 19, 2009. Family and friends have set up an account for those who would like to help by donating funds to cover medical expenses. The account has been set up through Sun Trust Bank and the number is 1000086611497. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Willie at 557-7047.
On behalf of the Jackson County Times Staff, our prayers go out to McKenzie and her family.

"My Tree of Free Spirit and Hope"

Come See The Tree Located at the Corner of Orange and Graham Streets
By: Leon Kelly

Growing up in a small town without very much to do, some of our old (good) homespun habits linger like an echo resounding, and are hard to break. After all theses years, I still love the craft of shining shoes as my dad taught me when I was nine years old. My dad, Charlie (Buy) Davis, was well known here for his shoe shining artistry and he taught me all I needed to know about the shoe shining business. He taught me one golden rule… "Shine the shoes to the customer’s satisfaction… PERIOD!"
As he worked with me, he introduced me to the different types of shoe enhancement techniques and equipment such as the "Shoe Tree." I often used a pair of shoe trees to help shape the shoes as I was shining them. These shoe trees came in assorted shapes and sizes just as do real live trees, like the huge tree in from of my little shop at 2902 Orange Street.
During my military career, I was stationed in many cities and countries throughout the world, and met many new people and learned about their cultures. Actually, the first time I saw a pair of shoes hanging on a wire was in the Army. A soldier was getting ready to leave his unit, and to celebrate he tossed his shoes in the air hoping they would land on the highest branch of the tree. Some others landed on the hot wires overhead.
After I retired and moved back home to Marianna, I still had that yearning to work with my dad in his shoe shining business (just to pass away the time until I could find work). The day came nine months later when I was hired at Dozier School for Boys. This was not a mainstream, regular school; it was a school for boys who had violated the law and were serving time for their crimes. They came from all over the United States.
Dozier was one of my main sources for training some of the boys in the process of shining shoes and being able to use that skill when they made it out of the system. Later, I was able to put some of their discarded shoes on my tree at the shop- hoping that, someday at least, one of them would come back and share their success story with me. I had collected a large number of discarded shoes, so I offered them to people in the Community to no avail.
Since I couldn’t give the shoes away, I decided to nail them on the old tree that guards the front of my store. Needless to say, someone started to take them off the tree. To replace them, I started asking the Dozier House Parents for the old shoes from their Cottages.
Four afternoons a week, I tutor at The West End Community Association Tutorial Program. As a project, I assisted the students in decorating some of the old sneakers which were then also added to the tree. The tree has a variety of baby shoes, pumps, mules, oxfords, men’s, women’s, sneakers/ Keds, plastic, leather, fabric and straw to name a few. I invite new entries at anytime.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that a "shoe tree" would later become a real live tree that someone would throw shoes onto. Now my little tree is evolving into a neighborhood masterpiece.
I started to delve into researching "shoe tree" sources and bam! There it was in black and white…the Shoe Tree had a long history in America and abroad. Sometimes the trees signify things good, new, or sad.
A couple of good general online sources on shoe trees (shoe tossing) are: and
They give fascinating accounts of the "real live shoe trees."
The Buy Shoe Shop "Shoe Tree" reaches approximately 20 to 30 feet high and is loaded with multigenerational shoe artistry. According to my sources, the only other real live Shoe Tree in Florida is located in the Ocala National Forest. I guess I’ll have to send a picture of our little tree to the Shoe Tree Registry.
Next week, I’ll have my 52nd birthday and still loving it! Oh, personally, I do use shoe trees for all my dress shoes while giving them the "shine of their life".
Leon Kelly can be reached at 209-4310.

Family Suffers From "Monster in the Walls"

Family discovers they have lived with hazardous mold for years.
By Sid Riley

Melissa Gilbert made her last payment on her home in Greenwood in July. Now she has discovered she must spend thousands to rip out many of the interior walls, tear out the bathroom, and replace much of the roof in order to make the house safe for her and her children to live in. She has discovered that for many years there has been a "Monster in the Walls".

The monster’s name is "stachy", which is short for Stachybotrys Chartarum (atra). This is a toxic mold which grows on water damaged materials such as ceiling tiles, insulation, wallpaper, wood, sheet rock paper, and rotting wood. Even touching the mold can create a rash on the skin.

The mold can cause bleeding lungs in infants, chronic respiratory problems in adults, cold and flu symptoms, sore throats, headaches, fatigue, and dermatitis.

Melissa has been aware of a history of leaks in her home over the twenty-one years she has lived there, with various roof leaks and plumbing problems occurring as the house aged. It was only when she began reacting to the discovery of the monster did she discover a long time leak which existed in the wall behind the bath tub, which was creating a slow water flow down the wall and into the flooring under the tub. Upon investigation by specialists the mold was discovered in the walls, ceilings, and flooring of several rooms.

Melissa and her children have suffered from frequent headaches, frequent flu-like symptoms, and her children have asthma. It was these ailments which caused Melissa’s parents to encourage her to have the house inspected. It didn’t take the inspector long to find the "monster", along with six varieties of other demons.

Because of this discovery, Melissa has relocated her children to temporary housing at other locations, while she continues to live with the monster. She is planning the necessary repairs, but raising the money has become a problem.

Melissa is a 1996 graduate of Marianna High School, and is employed as a Medical Assistant in Dr. Chin’s clinic in Marianna. Her co-workers have banned together in an effort to help the struggling mother meet these costs. They have named their fund raising campaign "Melissa’s Hope". This Saturday, March 3, they are sponsoring a special spaghetti dinner benefit at the Trinity Baptist Church on Bumpnose Road in Marianna. The delicious dinners will be for sale from 4:30-7:30 PM for $7.00 adults and $4.00 children. You can eat on site or carry the meal home. It is a great meal of spaghetti and meatballs, garden salad, desert and drink. For more information, contact Christine at 482-5223 or Judy at 482-2061.

If you would like to make a monetary donation to help Melissa and her family as part of the "Melissa’s Hope" effort, or would like to donate building materials or even volunteer to help, then call Melissa at 526-6023. God bless those who help.

Alyne Pittman’s Granddaughter to Appear On "The View"

Granddaughter of Former Jackson County Supervisor of Elections, Alyne Pittman, is becoming a TV celebrity.
By Sid Riley

Within the next few days you can begin watching for promotional clips on "The View" which feature a beautiful young woman, Jennifer Farrell, who will be redecorating the home of a contestant who won a home makeover by this well known professional decorator and TV personality. Then on Monday, March 9, Jennifer will actually appear on the show to describe what changes she made. She specializes in showing home owners how to dramatically improve their home design while spending a minimum on the project.
What makes this event meaningful to all of us here in Jackson County is the fact that this beautiful rising star, Jennifer Farrell, is the granddaughter of our own local star, Alyne Pittman.
Although Jennifer attended grade and middle schools in Panama City, she and her mother Alyne Farrell were constantly visiting Alyne Pittman in Jackson County. Jennifer attended high school at a performing arts high school in Sarasota, and then graduated from Northwestern University. Her mother currently resides in Gainesville, Florida.
Jennifer’s popularity has been rising rapidly as her national exposure increased on recognized television shows. She was formerly co-host on a home design show called "Merge" which appeared on HGTV (Home and Gardening Television Network). Then she had a show of her own on the AME Channel named "Find and Design". On this show she would explore yard sales and auctions for treasures and then show how they can be used as decorator items in a room makeover.
She was most recently named as the National Television Spokesperson for Big Lots, and is in the process of developing a line of home decorating items bearing her endorsement and name. She may end up being the Martha Stewart of the next decade.
The upcoming show from "The View" will be broadcast from The Walt Disney Studios Legends Plaza. Big Lots will be sponsoring the show. Jennifer will be offering the audience tips on how to freshen the look of your home without spending a lot of money. During these tough economic times, the approach taken by Jennifer in home decorating is gaining in popularity.
So, on Friday March 6 watch for the promo clips, and then be sure and watch the show on Monday, March 9… can be assured her grandmother, Alyne Pittman, will be glued to her television.

911- What's Your Emergency?

By Sid Riley

Nestled in the front west wing of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office facility is a command center which continually monitors and controls much of the emergency response and law enforcement activities of the entire county. It receives incoming calls for these services and issues response commands as needed. It controls the alert activities for the four county fire and rescue sub-stations (Sneads, Marianna, Alford, and Campbellton), ten county volunteer fire functions, two paid fire response functions, all on-duty JCSO Deputies, and at some part of the scheduled work week for all county municipal police departments.
It is a busy place. In 2008 the JCSO command center fielded 21,386 incoming 911 calls, with the total call volume being over three times that amount. The center also receives over 75 calls per day which require responses or presence of a Sheriff’s Deputy. The center is manned by at least two dispatchers on a twenty four hour per day, seven days per week basis, every day of the year. They are always there for you when you need them.
In the center of the command room there are three identical command consoles. Normally one of these is assigned to fire and rescue and 911 activities, another is involved with law enforcement work, and the third is a back up system in case of malfunction or overflow of work.
A computer displays a map of Jackson County and highlights the exact location of every incoming call to the center. A backup generator system guarantees power supply during storm or power failure conditions.
Also at each console is a communications system which is connected to each of the ten volunteer fire locations. When a fire unit’s location switch is activated in the command center, every pager for every individual volunteer fire fighter at that location sounds a response alert.
Additionally, when the national emergency alert system sounds that annoying buzzer alert on your radio at home or in your car…the voice which then comes on and announces the danger comes from a dispatcher at this console.
At the law enforcement console the dispatcher is in continual communication with the deputies on duty. If a deputy needs any support or information, the dispatcher is there to fill the need. The dispatcher can check for outstanding warrants, drivers license or vehicle license verification, trespass warnings, injunctions, or even stolen property identification data….all in a matter of seconds. The county is broken into four zones, with two deputies normally active within each zone.
There are several planned improvements for the systems. First, there are several "dead zones" in the county where radio communication is a problem. Improvements to the antennas and switching equipment are needed to correct this problem. Also, a system through which a dispatcher can be receiving information on the telephone and simultaneously type the data onto a computer which sends the texted message to the deputy’s vehicle device enables immediate dispatch. Also, this system is secure and can not be intercepted by scanners. Another GPS based system is available which shows the exact location and status of every vehicle on a "real time" basis.
The command center is manned by a staff of ten full time and three part time dispatchers. Without your awareness, they are making you and your family safer every day. We all owe them a hearty THANK YOU!!
JCSO Command Center Staff Members:
Lt. Tony Potter……………Supervisor
Sgt. Joanna Neel……………Supervisor
Mary Deason……………Dispatcher
Wanda Arnold……………Dispatcher
Vanessa Meadows……………Dispatcher
Joyce Collins……………Dispatcher
Rick Kerr……………Dispatcher
Krysta Divine……………Dispatcher
Amanda Holman……………Dispatcher
Melissa O’Neal……………Dispatcher
Part Time:
Jena Wesley……………Dispatcher
Dee Booth……………Dispatcher
Beverly Robbirds……………Dispatcher