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Bo McMullian

Bo McMullian

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Campbellton Town Hall to come down Dollar General to go up

Teramore Development LLC (for Dollar General stores) has agreed to buy the property and old motel building—currently being used as the Campbellton Town Hall--for about $45,000. The deal on the 1.2 acres with U.S. 231 frontage is expected to close in December, Melvin Engineering's Planning Director Rick Pettis told Business News Tuesday morning. Teramore, a Georgia firm, builds stores exclusively for Dollar General, then leases or sells them to DG. The construction of an 8,000 sq.ft., $700,000 Dollar general store for Campbellton (using the recent Grand Ridge store as an example) is expected to be a terrific boost to the growth-challenged, 60 percent minority town. Its 2012 population of 240 resides on one square mile situated seven miles east of Graceville at the Hwy 2 and major U.S. 231 intersection. The establishment of such a large discount variety family store also will provide great relief to consumers.

"Dollar General will help our economy," Campbellton Town Clerk Brenda Griffin said Tuesday. "People won't have to travel to Graceville or Marianna. This is a great thing for the town—we need it."

The DG store will be built with the utilization of an entrance on Hwy 231. The old "Gilbert Motel," was built in the 1950s and deeded at costs to the town in 1999 by Sara D. Gilbert—who still owns the property behind the motel strip structure. Jackson County property records show its assessed value (exempt) at $81,613. "The building is very old and needs to be dropped," Griffin said. "It's going to take a lot for us to move everything we own to the doublewide trailer (nearby). When they come in, we'll have just 30 days to vacate." Griffin and Pettis estimate construction to begin in January.

For the temporary replacement town hall, the town will use a leased mobile home on leased property off Hwy 2 adjacent to the town's new community hall and fire station. A Jackson County Fire-rescue station, housed in a trailer next to the old motel structure, will continue to be used by the county, Pettis said, since it is just outside the new construction site. The town will retain a .85-acre parcel to the north of the future DG property. That parcel has the potential of being sold or otherwise utilized by the town for development, Pettis said. There could be room for a small Malone Town Hall-type structure on the city's fire station/public works property. Pettis said he is currently working with the town on a CDBG federal grant that would replace water lines and remove an abandoned water tower. The city uses a newer tower for its municipal water system. There are no sewer lines or plant. Griffin says the town is very much helped, in so many ways, by the Campbellton Farm Supply store (Ron Barber), convenience store/gas station (Mr. Patel) and Sangaree BP station, all nearby in Campbellton's well-known, cautiously approached and sprawling 5-point highway interchange.

Pettis had a fascinating and insightful story to tell about how the DG store plans originated. It was NOT from the town being contacted by DG or Teramore developers, as is often the case. "It started about two years ago," he explained. "The town was experiencing some serious growth challenges and the lack of a larger general merchandise store was a real sore point. Jackson County Commissioner Willie Spires asked Jackson County Development Council official Bill Stanton to help. Appeals to Family Dollar--since, after all, it does have a large distribution complex nearby--were fruitless, Pettis said, since the demographic "numbers didn't meet their models. But I was able to get Teramore interested and they, with Dollar General, found a way. They said okay, but it would have to be built at the motel/town hall site." (That proved to be not a problem.)

"This will definitely help Campbellton, its residents and its visitors—maybe more than we know," Pettis said. "There was, and there continues to be, a lot of selfless work done by some very dedicated folks making this possible—everyone that has been involved."

WJAQ-FM, WTOT Under New Management With Option To Buy

WJAQ-FM/WTOT-AM has not been sold, but the stations are under new management an event which took place a few weeks ago. The incoming person or group, which wishes to remain anonymous at this early point in ongoing negotiations, has an option to buy. The Jackson County TIMES has been told that the purchase is being positively considered. The stations have been for sale for years, as posted on internet sites, but the asking price of $1.3 million has not generated much interest. Comparable, other low-power, older, small-market stations have sold from $300,000 to $500,000, according to websites such as radiotvdeals.com.

The Marianna-based radio station on Wednesday morning released a short lead-off story in the "WJAQ Business News" program by Betty Demmon saying the stations had "changed hands." That is true, but a more descriptive statement would have said, "Under new management with an option to buy." The new management was identified as the "Jackson Radio Group." The CEO, or head, of the "group" is reportedly a person from this tri-state region, but who does not work or reside in Jackson County. The TIMES has agreed to continue the confidentiality briefly.

One of the radio stations' owners, John Biddinger of Minnesota, was contacted by the TIMES Wednesday morning. He provided more info, but also wished to keep the proposed buyer anonymous.

Biddinger explained that he is one of some 15 total owners of this and other affiliated radio stations and that the corporate ownership name is "BRO, Inc.," not MFR (Marianna Florida Radio) or GFR (Graceville Florida Radio), as has been believed, and was reported by the station Wednesday. "BRO has entered into no contract," he said. "That is being negotiated. Meanwhile, BRO has executed with Jackson Radio Group for an LMA (radio lingo—Lease Marketing Agreement, allowed by the Federal Communications Commission for a party to run another party's radio station, but not buy it.) It's a way to give the potential new owner a chance to see if they want to proceed with a buy, or not. An indefinite lease is also possible. The FCC is not involved at all at this point."

An indication that the buyer is very much in favor of consummating a purchase is Demmon's statement Wednesday. She stated that, "The Jackson Radio Group will be filing soon with the FCC to transfer the licenses. (JRG) plans to invest in the radio stations, to bring them technologically up to date and continue their long history here in Marianna. We here at the radio station are excited and we look forward to working with our new owner." WJAQ office manager Carol Lambe told the TIMES.

The radio stations have faced challenges since the untimely and sudden natural death at 61 of their locally-residing executive, Ed Cearly III in August of 2008. It's the age of the equipment, the lack of even a modest website, breakdowns and lawsuits that have put the stations behind the times. Even a theft of copper recently took the stations off the air for several days.

Not necessarily because of that theft, WTOT-AM is currently off the air, or "silent" in radio lingo. WTOT-AM is the oldest of the triple cluster of licensed broadcast stations, at 980 KHz on the radio dial. It utilizes only the licensed power of 1,000 watts by day and 340 watts at night; its FCC license is "Class B." WJAQ-FM, (100.9 MHz) which first aired in 1964, has a modestly powerful "effective radiated power" of 5,900 watts, and is the most listened-to destination. It can be received in most parts of the county. A most interesting sister station, also fully licensed and currently on the air, is WTOT-FM, at 101.7; its programming is simulcast with WJAQ-FM. The WTOT-FM's license actually says "Graceville," and that is because on the station's tower, one of the microwave dishes points to Graceville and Dothan, Ala. The "Graceville" station has slightly more power than WJAQ—6,000 watts but that Dothan broadcast area could open up a lucrative market and could have been a deciding factor in Jackson Group's decision to take a stab at a purchase. WJAQ-FM and WTOT-FM both hold "Class A" licenses and both use the format "Pure Country." WTOT-AM at one time used a Contemporary Christian format.

Other station personnel who have been retained for the expected duration, are announcers Bill Collins and Robert Conrad.

Fitness Center of Marianna being donated to Jackson Hospital

Marianna FL - For the second time in two years, Jackson Hospital has been donated a highly valuable piece of property on Hwy 90 on the eastern outskirts of Marianna. In 2011, the Frederick Compagni family donated 5.37 acres on the north side of 90 across from Hopkins Cars that used to be a truck stop and restaurant many years ago called the Countryside. The publicly-owned hospital's board of trustees is currently considering building and operating a walk-in medical clinic there, board members confirmed to the TIMES on Monday morning.

Now, the Fitness Center of Marianna (4966 Hwy 90), located behind the Veterans Administration clinic, and its in-house subsidiary Patients First Physical Therapy, are being donated to the hospital as active businesses by the owner, Dr. Robert Hoff, whose wife Hazel died last October. The Fitness Center is just a few blocks east of the former truck stop property, on the lot behind the VA Clinic. The Fitness Center, which was established in 1985 and the physical therapy branch, which was added along with the swimming pool in 2000, will remain open, manager Glenn Hoff said Monday. The transfer will take place "soon," Glenn said, but he and his sister Patty will remain employed there, as will about 10 part-time employees. The Fitness Center, equipped with a gym and full line of exercise machines, has about 250 customers, Glenn said.

The Fitness Center property includes about 15,000 sq.ft. and sits on 3.28 acres. Its taxable value, according to the property appraiser's office, is $419,869. Dr. Hoff, 78, moved to the area from Miami in 1976, Glenn said. Our community owes the Hoff family a debt of gratitude for their generous gift to Jackson Hospital.

The late Frederick Compagni had become a latent supporter of Jackson Hospital during a stay there in 2011, as he explained in a letter to the editor of a local newspaper. The real estate donated to the hospital, the 5.37 acres, had a taxable value of $392,925, but it is now exempt from taxation, according to the property appraiser's records. Mr. Compagni acquired the land in 1989 from William Evans for $175,000, according to records.

Hospital board members say that the plans for a walk-in clinic for primary or urgent care are "preliminary," although an architectural firm has been retained to draft a proposal. Environmental studies at the former truck stop recently found no contamination, which came as a relief to the board. A walk-in clinic already exists in Marianna; it is called Coastal Urgent Care. It opened earlier this year on Lafayette Street across from the Russ House/Chamber of Commerce building.

Former Malloy's Motel and Plantation House Buildings Come Down

Marianna FL - Some of the oldest commercial buildings in Marianna—there are five buildings in the complex and the earliest was built in the 1930s—are being demolished this week. The buildings were originally the Malloy Motel cottages and later contained the Plantation House Restaurant. The Malloy family sold the property in the late 1960s. Its most recent owners, named Patel, closed the business as the Days Inn or America's Best Inns about three years ago, and the property began to decline.

To stop the city of Marianna from tearing it down and placing a lien on the property, the owner of the Days Inn (4132 West Lafayette St.) began the demolition last week. The city's municipal development department had sent several certified letters to the owner, Madhu Patel, who now lives in California, but there had been no response until last week, when she decided to tear down the buildings on her own. The Days Inn was on a list of 26 structures submitted on Monday to the city commission by the department as the "proposed 2013-2014 dilapidated structure lists." The city is expected to accept the list in October and officially give the owners 60 days to take corrective action.

Since the Jackson County property appraiser's office in 2012 placed the taxable value of the property at $726,704, the owner may be at least be receiving a future property tax break on the $424,857 listed value of the buildings. That could help finance the demolition contract to Mike Floyd Paving, a Georgia firm. According to property records, Madhu Patel was given the property in 2005 by S & K International, Inc.

The demolitions have stirred some nostalgic memories among the community's longtime residents. Retired restaurateur Jim Harkins shared an anecdote about the origin of the Plantation House by phone Tuesday morning that went something like this: "In the early 60s, Tony (Primavera of Tony's Restaurant) was doing real, real well out on the west end, and it was because of Malloy's Motel almost right across the street, which was the only motel in the area other than Sandusky's. So Tony had an idea: He would use some of his additional property on the west side of the restaurant and open a 20-room motel himself. Well, this made Dallas Malloy Sr. mad, so he opened the Plantation House Restaurant on the motel grounds, saying: 'If he can have a restaurant and open a motel, then I can have my motel and open a restaurant.'" Harkins added that he was in the Jaycees at the time and remembered going to their weekly meetings in the Plantation House. The Malloy family sold the businesses in 1967. The restaurant remained open into the 1980s.

Malloy 0001

The following is a list of the dates and building information about Malloy's Motel, provided to the TIMES by JoAnn Malloy. Mrs. Malloy, who still lives in the Marianna area, was married to the late Wayne Malloy, the former Gladiola Farm proprietor and son of Dallas Sr. Wayne's brother, Dallas Neville Malloy, is 81 and lives in Orlando. He helped JoAnn compile this list for the Jackson County TIMES Monday night:

Malloy's Motel, owned by Dallas and Marguerite Malloy

  • "1932 First lodging experience—located on the corner of Lafayette and Milton Avenue behind a gas station Dallas was managing. They made an existing old shed into a room that could be rented to travelers.
  • 1935 Bought the property where the present motel is located from Sherrill Oil Company in 1935. There was an auto service station on the site and the Malloys built tourist cottages; they opened four units and a restaurant.
  • 1939 Name changed to Malloy's Motel. The word motel was coined in 1925 but did not appear in the dictionary until after WWII. Opened new dining room and the price of the T-bone steak dinner was 50 cents.
  • 1947 The Malloys built their home after previously living in the upstairs of one of the cottages. The downstairs area made up two rentals and the upstairs was very small for a family of four. The new home adjoined that two-story building. The gas station and restaurant were then demolished.
  • 1956 Remodeled the motel—rooms now all adjoining, except the one two-story building with the home attached. The motel then consisted of 31 units and the office was built for the complex.
  • 1958-1959 Swimming pool added and the two-story structure behind the office was built, bringing the total units now to 60. (It was in 1958 that the motel became affiliated with "Quality Courts" as the sign on some of the old post cards remind us.—editor)
  • 1964 The ground floor of the Malloy's home was remodeled to house The Plantation House Restaurant. The businesses were sold by the Malloys to Mr. Powell in 1967."
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