What has been in the works for months and months came to fruition Tuesday morning in less than five minutes as the Florida Cabinet unanimously approved transferring 1278 acres of what has commonly been referred to as the ‘Dozier’ property to Jackson County. Present for this long-awaited formality was Jackson County Commissioner Chairman Clint Pate, commissioners Eric Hill and Jim Peacock, along with Sheriff Lou Roberts, local engineer David Melvin and Marti Coley Eubanks. All have been instrumental in working towards this project.
Chairman Clint Pate addressed the cabinet in advance of the vote, introduced those who traveled from Jackson County and thanked them for their consideration of donating the property to Jackson County.
Pate said in an interview with the TIMES following the dotting of ‘I’s and crossing of ‘T’s, “This was a big step for Jackson County. This was the Governor’s last cabinet meeting and we knew the preliminaries were all done last week for this but we were pleased once it was signed. Jackson County has had some negative publicity and we wanted to take this land and put it to good use. We want to help the citizens of Jackson County, create jobs and economic development and put a positive spin on it. We do have a company of interest who wants to come to Jackson County and it’s a good possibility that it will be considering being on the Dozier property. We have a committee already formed and working on an autism center that has been named “Endeavor” that is slated to be on this property. It is for the benefit of training post high school autism citizens. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department will be relocating their offices to the section known as the JJOT Building due to the damage they suffered as a result of Hurricane Michael.”
Pate said it will take some time to get the title assigned to us. He said there is insurance to be cleared up on the insurance buildings and we received $5.8 million to do the cleanup and that has to be done. I think that now that we have it, can start to move forward. He said they still have part of the property that’s tied up with leases to PRIDE (Associated with prison industries) and the Jackson County School Board.
For now, the commissioners are more than excited that this been finalized and they can move forward. Commissioner Eric Hill said, “I am very grateful to everyone, especially Governor Rick Scott and Senator Gainer and Representative Drake for all of their hard work and dedication to seeing this project through for Jackson County. It is now time to move forward and develop the property into something positive for Jackson County. I know the autism committee that was formed a few months back has been working hard to put the wheels into motion to make that happen and that’s a good start. We are just really glad this is all behind us now and we can start making concrete plans.”
Commissioner Jim Peacock has been instrumental in this project from before its beginning and couldn’t be happier, “Governor Rick Scott has given us a huge Christmas present and I am very appreciative. There is 1278 acres that could have a major economic impact on Jackson County for the next 50-100 years.” About the condition of the buildings, Peacock said, “The Governor has covered all of that. David Melvin of Melvin Engineering is and has been out there doing an analysis of the buildings and there is money through insurance that will fix what needs to be fixed to those buildings that are usable. There are approximately 70 buildings that can be used we think. But bottom line, we don’t have to use any of them if we don’t want to do so. We can tear them up and make road base out of them but we will probably tear some of them down. But they are ours now. That is a done deal.”