By ALICIA LEONARD
One of the highlights of this week’s DeFuniak Springs City Hall was an update on the Walton County Heritage Association’s “Take Stock in the Clock” project. Ken Little and Terry Dawkins informed the Council that they had found a way to have the clock repaired, possibly for free. Dawkins and Little requested to move the outside repeater unit of the clock off the edge of the curve and relocate it a few feet over to where a Bradford pear tree now stands. The tree would be relocated. This will also involve cutting a trench for new conduit in the sidewalk and relocating the interior clock to the front room of the building to allow the public to see it.
The inside clock unit is ready for transport to Pensacola to be rebuilt by the White Sands Chapter of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors. Little told the Council, “They are confident they can do everything they need to to fix the indoor unit.” The outside repeater will be “reverse engineered” and the interior frame rebuilt, but the outside will look the same. Dawkins said it was their goal “to have all the clocks show the same time.” A sign will be placed outside, where the clock stood to answer any questions about where it went.
The inside unit is anticipated to take three months to repair and the duo stated that they were hoping everything would be back in place by December of this year. When asked about the cost for these repairs, Little stated, “It’s gone from $50,000 for the guy from New York to $10,000 for the guy from Dothan to nothing for the White Sands chapter in Pensacola.” The Council approved the repairs and new location by a vote of 4-0. (Council-member James Huffman was absent from the meeting.)
Leigh Morrison presented the quarterly report for the Life Enrichment Senior Center. Morrison told the Council that the center currently had 205 members enrolled and had been busy every month with activities on-site and off-site. Numbers continue to increase of people who sign into the center. “I have a lot of people who leave the area and go north in the summer, but we are still getting new people into the center everyday,” Morrison told the Council.
Michelle Harding, representing Hotel DeFuniak and Bogies Restaurant, approached the Council with a request to block off a street on the night of July 4 due to the overwhelming response the town receives for the DeFuniak Business and Professional Association’s annual fireworks display. Harding told the Council that it was the establishment’s third anniversary and she was concerned her customers would not have any available parking, which could affect her business.
DeFuniak Springs City Manager Kim Kirby told the Council that she had spoken with businesses close to Hardings and since their parking was private property, they would consider letting her use it for her customers that night, but City Attorney Clayton Adkinson and Police Chief Mark Weeks explained that they could not enforce or remove people parking on public property. The Council denied Harding’s request 4-0 but Harding agreed to accept the offer from surrounding business to use their parking on that night.
Chairman of the DeFuniak Springs Housing Authority Donald Truitt approached the Council to request a 25-percent matching grant recovery fund to replace all existing water and sewer lines located in Highland Terrace and Alpine Heights. The existing water and sewer lines for these two developments are the original lines installed in 1960, he said. The money that would be used for the other 75 percent of these repairs would be covered by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The total cost of repairs for both developments has been estimated to cost $311,618.50.
DeFuniak Springs Police Deputy Chief Greg Gandy received unanimous approval to apply for three grants for the police department. Two of the grants have already been guaranteed for approval and receipt by the DFSPD will total $72,252. Of that, $32,514 will be for facility improvement and $39,738 for fleet upgrades. The last grant, if received, would pay-out $505,317 in three annual installment and would be designated to provided three new police officer positions that would be fully funded for three years. The only caveat of the grant, if received, is that the city would have to keep the three positions for at least 12 months after the grant had expired.
Lee Kicker, regional sales manager for Blackboard Connect, provided a demonstration of Connect-CTY, a mass notification system designed to help government reach out to citizens in time of emergency through voice mail, e-mail or text messaging. The program would cost the city $1.91 for each resident per year and the number of notifications is unlimited. The system could also be used in-house to notify employees or to help the city to contact anyone in a quick and timely fashion when needed. The Council agreed that a policy concerning the usage of the system was need and requested a draft be available for them when the new budget workshops begin, to explore the possibility of purchasing the system.
The Council moved onto approving the renewal of rights-of-way maintenance for the north and south area of Interstate 10 and the maintenance agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation regarding the federal aid project for sidewalks.
The Council approved a four-log removal system for Well No. 3 of the city’s water supply. The system helps to dispel chorine in the water system to customers living closely to the well. The Council approved the emergency repair with the stipulation that the cost not exceed $35,000. Kirby and Assistant City Manager Bill Holloway said it was imperative that the well be back up and running before the dry season of summer was in full swing.
Kirby, in a final bit of business, told the Council that Walton County and DeFuniak Springs had received an award from the Department of Elder Affairs for the number one new community working with Communities for a Lifetime. This is the second time the city has been recognized for the new partnership and the award will be presented at the next county commissioner meeting.
The next meeting of the DeFuniak Springs City Council is scheduled for July 13 at 6 p.m.
Contact Alicia Leonard at email@example.com.