By BEN GRAFTON
A short meeting of the Freeport City Council on March 24 opened with the presentation of a proclamation by Mayor Mickey Marse that April 8 and 9 were designated as Relay for Life days. On those two days the Cancer Society’s Relay for Life will hold a fund-raiser at Freeport’s Sports Complex.
Parks Director Shane Supple reported that the county crews were at work clearing the area where two new ball fields will be built as soon as grant funding is available. Supple also reported that electric meters have been installed at different ball field locations in the Sports Complex for the purpose of measuring the electric load on individual fields when they are in use.
Angie Jay of Preble-Rish Engineering reported that the plans for extending the water main from Portland to Choctaw Beach have been approved at last by USDA’s Rural Development branch. A request for bids on the work has been published.
Marion Cook, a planner with Eglin Air Force Bay asked the Council to approve a resolution concerning a joint land use study (JLUS) between the Air Base and Freeport. The request was approved.
Marse presented the rankings of the bidders for the FRSC Clean Energy Grant, which covers the installation of solar powered lights and equipment at the Sports Complex. Preble-Rish was number 1 in the rankings.
City Clerk Robin Haynes reported that April Groover of the Florida Governor’s Energy Office called and asked that the city move ahead with work on the FRSC Grant even though the required federal approval has not yet been received. The state feels the grant will be approved. According to Groover, if the city does go ahead with the work and then the grant does not get the expected federal approval, the city would have to cover any project expenditures as unbudgeted expense items without outside financial help. This is the same grant the city applied for over a year ago, received notice that the grant had been awarded and then, about three weeks later, found itself in the position of losing the grant to another city due to an administrative error at the state office. After this happened, the city that had been awarded the grant withdrew its project and Freeport, once again, was awarded the grant for its project.
In view of the history of this grant, Marse and Council members were hesitant about going ahead with project expenditures without having the grant approval in hand. The Council approved a proposal to go ahead with administrative work on project bids but to withhold other work pending a review of federal approval status at a later Council meeting.