By BEN GRAFTON
At the Freeport City Council meeting of Nov. 8, Mayor Mickey Marse announced that he understands the Walton Board of County Commissioners approved Freeport’s request for fire department funding support by a 4 to 1 vote. With this development, there will be no force reduction and Freeport’s Fire Department will continue to service county areas outside of the city limits. The Council approved accepting the county proposal.
In other business, City Attorney Clayton Adkinson reported that he has reviewed the scoring of engineering firms seeking to provide continuing engineering services to the city and that there appears to be a discrepancy. He said there were three No. 2 ratings given to Praestar Engineering and that one No. 1 and two No. 2 ratings were given to Fabre Engineering, but the No.1 rating given to Fabre was overlooked and Praestar was chosen as the second place firm. He said this did not appear to be fair and recommended that the Council review this matter. As a result the Council approved a motion to review the scoring issues at the regular Council Meeting scheduled for Jan. 10, 2012.
Adkinson also reported that he has discussed the Department of Transportation (DOT) funding proposal (with its provision of securing a loan with water department revenue) for relocating utility lines along the U.S. 331 with the DOT attorney. Marse said that he thought the city should consider finding another funding source for this work.
Engineer Cliff Knauer of Preble-Rish reported that the work on the North Bay water project is doing fine and is a little ahead of schedule. The project archaeologist is on site but has not found any relics yet.
Knauer said that everything for the energy grant has been submitted to the State for review. He hopes to hear back from them soon.
Also, Knauer reported that the permit application for the Wagon Wheel Road water line project has been submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection. The goal is to get the permits back as soon as possible in hopes of getting requests for bids out so that work on this project can be done during the U. S. 331 construction project.
Scarlett Phaneuf of the Walton County Economic Development Alliance announced that a company presently located in Okaloosa County may decide to relocate to an existing building in the Freeport Industrial Park. This move has the potential to bring 25 new jobs paying as much as $42,000 a year per job, while manufacturing eco-friendly products.
The Council approved a motion cancelling its regular meeting scheduled for Nov. 24 because of the conflict with the Thanksgiving holiday.
Knauer introduced the idea of having a mullet or blue crab festival at Freeport’s new water access park on Four Mile Creek. The idea was well received by the Council.