Malone Mayor Gene Wright receives state recognition

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Shelia Mader

Shelia Mader

Sports Editor

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Malone Mayor Gene Wright receives state recognition

Residents of Malone and surrounding Jackson County cities/towns know the impact Malone Mayor Gene Wright has had on ‘his’ town for the last 18 years, with four years on the council prior to his mayor position in 2000.  

When the news broke of the strength and path of Hurricane Michael, Mayor Wright put the wheels in motion to minimize the recovery time once it passed through. Years of experience played a huge role in Wright’s staging of personnel following Michael’s destruction. Volunteer fireman, all town personnel reported to work just as soon as they were able to leave their homes and make it to town hall. Wright was a permanent fixture there. Within days, trucks were coming into Malone with supplies for the residents in need of the very basics such as water, non-perishable food, baby formula and diapers. 

In the November/December issue of QC (Quality Cities) magazine, Jenny Anderson, executive director of the Northwest League of Cities said about Wright, “It is amazing what one small town mayor can achieve in such a short amount of time.” 

With damage to the main stay grocery store and pharmacy, no power and water for days, blocked roads, Malone faced challenges many of its residents had never seen.  Of the donations received, Wright said 80% of them were from his contacts from his Northwest League of Cities and Florida League of Cities families. 

Wright orchestrated a drive-through service where residents simply lined up in their vehicles and drove by tent stations requesting what they needed. National guardsmen and volunteers loaded into the vehicles and they were on their way. 

Freeport Mayor Russ Barley provided 14 vehicles of staff and volunteers to assist in clearing the streets in Malone. Jamie Jones, director of utilities and public works for Newberry drove three hours to supply Malone with a generator to help keep the Jackson County Utilities water system operating. Pilots from northwest Florida flew in supplies to the Marianna Airport where they were met by Wright and volunteers to unload the aircraft and load onto trucks for delivery to Malone.

Two months after Michael, Wright sings praises to his association with the Northwest League of Cities and Florida League of Cities, “These are great people. We’ve got a lot of friends, a lot of friends who came through for us when we needed it more than we would ever have thought.  My heart was full with all the kindness and generosity shown to our town.” 

And the county winner in lady hoops is Cottondale

  • Published in Sports

In a week that saw county battle after county battle after county battle, it was the Graceville Lady Tigers taking on the Cottondale Lady Hornets on Cottondale territory last Thursday night.  Cottondale propelled a 19-point fourth quarter to take the 67-52 win with Graceville trailing by one at the end of three quarters. 

Cottondale got the jump start with a 20-point first quarter with Graceville answering with nine points. Kayla Morris was on her ‘A’ game, knocking down four threes and a basket for 14 points, while Quiniyah Granberry added a three, a basket and one from the line.  Niyaa Martin led Graceville with a downtown shot and a bucket.  

It was Graceville flipping the table in the second quarter with 23 points, thank in large part to 10 points by Jazmine Bellamy and nine by Niyaa Martin while Cottondale answered with 16.  Morris had eight points with Granberry adding four points.  At the half, it was Cottondale with a 36-32 lead.

Graceville came within one in the third quarter, winning the quarter 15-12 narrowing Cottondale’s lead to 48-47 with one quarter to go. Granberry shined with 10 points in the third for Cottondale while it was Martin with seven points to lead Graceville. The Lady Tigers ran out of gas in the final quarter and watched the game get out of control. Cottondale outscored the Lady Tigers 19-5 to take the 67-52 win.

Graceville was led by Niyaa Martin with 24 points for a D1 kind of night, followed by Jazmine Bellamy with 14 points.  For Cottondale, Quiniyah Granberry was looking for a spot in the WNBA racking up 33 points, including four threes, while Kayla Morris was keeping pace with a D1 kind of night posting 26 points.

Malone hosts Marianna in a Friday night rivalry game

  • Published in Sports

This past Friday night was rivalry night in Jackson County and the Malone – Marianna basketball rivalry is at the top of the list. Marianna made the trip north to Malone to take on the Tigers.  This was the first meeting of these two teams this year and the win went to the visiting Bulldogs.  Malone ran out of gas in the final quarter, with Marianna securing the 71-43 win.

The Bulldogs and Tigers were at a dead-even heat in the first quarter with 14 points on the board for each team. For Marianna, it was Ny’Keem Gainer and Steffon McMillian with four points each while Malone’s Taylor Brown garnished four points, with Ocasio Murff with three points and Jarrod Southwell hitting one from outside for the Tigers. 

Marianna found another gear in the second quarter posting 17 points while Malone was held to nine points. McMillian continued his scoring fury with six points, including a three. For Malone, it was Spencer Sneads with four points to lead the Tigers. Halfway through the game, Marianna held a 31-23 lead. 

It was the home team Tigers with a burst of energy when they took the court in the third quarter, posting 19 points with Marianna countering with 16.  Stefon continued to lead the Bulldogs with four points, while Keegan Jones and Tavis Grooms both nailed a shot from downtown.  Malone’s Taylor Brown was in the spotlight with eight points, while Spencer Floyd was on board with five. With one quarter to go, Marianna’s lead had narrowed to 47-42.  

The fourth quarter was all Marianna with the Bulldogs putting up 24 points, with McMillian pacing his team with six points while seven other Bulldogs put up points in the quarter. For Malone, it was Taylor Brown with a three and Jarrod Southwell with a basket.

Leading the Tigers on the night was Taylor Brown with 18 points, followed by Spencer Sneads and Ocasio Murff with six points each.  On board with five points each were Jarrod Southwell, Spencer Floyd and Josh Rivers.  Marianna was led on the night by Steffon McMillian with 19 points, followed by Tavis Grooms in double digits with 13. On board with nine points was Ny’Keem Gainer, with James Davis, Kegan Jones, JJ Jackson, and Ahmaad Johnson with six points each. 

Charlie Brunner takes over as Jackson County Fire Rescue Chief

After five months of searching for the right candidate to take over the job as Chief of the Jackson County Fire Rescue, it took the commissioners less than a minute to make it a unanimous vote.  County administrator Wilanne Daniels presented her choice after interviews of Marianna native Charlie Brunner to take over the top spot at JCFR.  

Eric Hill made the motion with a second by Chuck Lockey and the vote quickly went 5-0 in favor of Brunner. Prior to the vote, Daniels said Brunner had 12 years of career service, eight of which was in Jackson County Fire Rescue with some of those years spent as lieutenant and then as captain. He has been in Bay County for four years and is currently a lieutenant.  He is a 2006 graduate of Mariana High School, received his EMT in Gulf Coast in 2007, graduated the fire academy at Chipola in 2007, his paramedic at Chipola in 2008 and received his AA at Chipola in 2011.  He is scheduled to graduate with his BS in business administration in May of 2019.  Daniels also requested the board waive the 60-day waiting period for insurance.  The waiver was included in the motion to hire Brunner.  

Charlie Brunner’s history is extensive in this line, having started in Washington County as a 911 dispatcher for the Washington County Sheriff’s Department following graduation from Marianna High School while he was in EMT school. Prior to that, while he was in high school, he volunteered with the Marianna Fire Department and Jackson County Fire Rescue.  To say helping and serving others is in his blood, is an understatement.  Charlie is the son of Dr. Rick Brunner and the grandson of Dr. William Brunner. His brother John Brunner is a resident physician at St. Bernard’s Healthcare in Jonesboro, 


When asked about his thoughts on returning to Marianna, an always very humble Brunner said, “I’m just humbled for the opportunity to be able to serve the citizens of Jackson County in this capacity.  It’s just a warm feeling to be able to return home where people know you personally.  I think that was the one thing that I didn’t feel the connection in Bay County because I didn’t know anybody other than my coworkers and colleagues.  I didn’t know the patients and people’s homes like I did when I worked in Jackson County. I am very excited. I think there is a lot of growing for Jackson County to do and I hope to help that agency to grow and hopefully reach its potential.”

Brunner outlined some of his specific goals, “One of the goals is to continue a good working relationship with the volunteer fire departments because we support them just as much as they support us. I want to make sure we work together.” 

Brunner is married to Marsana and they have a ten-year daughter Annalyn.  He is the son of Dr. Rick Brunner and Charlotte Brunner of Marianna.  Brunner is slated to report to work January 02, 2019.  

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