Last week, Governor Rick Scott literally signed on the dotted line on several pieces of legislation that had passed through both houses that will bring huge benefits to Jackson County.
Several large sums of money that will benefit the Jackson County School Board, Jackson Adults with Disabilities, Chipola College, City of Marianna, and Jackson County Sheriff’s Department were signed off on by Governor Scott.
Newly elected Senator George Gainer was very pleased with the outcome of the legislative actions, “I’m proud that we were able to deliver for the residents of Jackson County and throughout Northwest Florida. As I promised when I was running for the Florida Senate, I didn’t forget about Jackson County when I was in Tallahassee. I’m thankful for a good partner in Representative Brad Drake who also fought for these projects over in the House. I was well pleased with the coordinated efforts of the legislature and the governor’s office.”
Representative Brad Drake was more than happy to help Jackson County, “With more than $20 million dollars of our state budget directed toward Jackson County, I am very proud of the hard work that went into funding these worthwhile projects. Senator George Gainer and I worked together to ensure that our area received the attention it deserves. Our Marianna Public Safety Administration Building ($350,000), the Sunland Adults with Disabilities program ($1,019,247), the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch System ($150,000), Chipola College ($526,541), and the new k-8 school ($19,059,807) will serve the needs of our community well, and I cannot thank Senator Gainer enough for working with me this year to help meet the needs of the people here in Jackson County.”
The biggest windfall came to the Jackson County School Board with the approval of $19,059,807 for the construction of the K-8 school for this year. The School District will receive two additional years of funding at the same level to replace Golson and Riverside Elementary Schools and Marianna Middle School with one combined K-8 school. Superintendent Larry Moore said of the news, “We are very excited about it and so thankful to Senator Gainer, Senator Montford, and Senator Latvala as well as Representative Drake for their commitment to Jackson County and our schools. We were very pleased that the governor saw his way to approve the funding for a much-needed K-8 school.”
The Jackson Adults with Disability Programs will receive $1,019,247 that will be used to serve county residents with disabilities. This will benefit both Sunland and JCARC (Jackson County Association for Retarded Citizens). This is reoccurring funds for vocational rehab programs as part of the Federal Rehab Act of 1973. It is an appropriation from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation through the Department of Education. Sunland Superintendent Gerri Williams was all smiles about the possibility of the funding coming through, “This is positively impactful for this population. It will certainly make a difference and we are very grateful for the strong legislative delegation and Governor Scott.”
The City of Marianna will receive $350,000 for a public safety administration building. City Manager Jim Dean said of his windfall, “We got the news that we were not vetoed. Senator (George) Gainer and Representative (Brad) Drake called so it’s good news. We are very pleased that we have them for our representatives.”
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department is scheduled to receive $150,000 to replace its aging and outdated radio dispatch system. Sheriff Lou Roberts was a happy camper when he received the news of the governor had signed off on the money for JCSO, “I talked to Senator Gainer and he advised me the governor had signed off on the money. He said he wanted to tell me that things were successful. I really don’t know what the steps are right now as far as how the money will be dispersed. I don’t know if it goes to the Board of County Commissioners first or what. I am in a learning process. What I thought I would do and educate myself because I have not been through this before in my tenure. I appreciate the legislative efforts of our senators and representatives.
Last and certainly not least on the list of scheduled monies coming to Jackson County was $526,541 for Chipola College for installation of underground utilities and another $200,000 for its civil and industrial engineering program.
Governor Scott has extended the legislative session as indicated in a press release last Friday, “Gov. Rick Scott, along with Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran (R-Lutz) and Senate President Joe Negron (R-Stuart), announced a budget deal that would require the Legislature to return for a short special session to tackle specific issues related only to K-12 education funding and funding for economic development and tourism. The TIMES will report the outcome of that legislative session on any impact involving Jackson County as soon as it is released.