By REID TUCKER
The Paxton Town Council swiftly dispensed with what little end-of-the-year business remained on its agenda by voting to continue the city’s relationship with the Walton County Economic Development Alliance (WCEDA).
The members of the Council voted unanimously on Tuesday, Dec. 20, to continue the interlocal agreement with the WCEDA for three years at a cost of $1,000. That amount had already been figured into the Fiscal Year 2012 budget for the purpose of re-upping the contract with the WCEDA.
The same interlocal agreement approved by Paxton had also been approved by Walton County and the city of Freeport and it will be presented to the DeFuniak Springs City Council at its first January meeting, said WCEDA Managing Director Scarlett Phaneuf.
Phaneuf also gave an update to the Council on the city’s efforts to bring a Dollar General store to Paxton by next year. Based on a conversation she had earlier on Tuesday with a Dollar General business development representative, Phaneuf said the demographic numbers run by the company showed that Paxton was not as yet a big enough market for a new store location.
“They’ve concluded that the trade area for Paxton is too small and they were afraid there wouldn’t be enough spending dollars to support a new store,” Phaneuf said. “They run the data each year in January in coordination with their business model so they said to check back at the end of January and something may have changed.”
Dollar General looks at not just the population of the municipality where a new store will be located but also at the area surrounding it, which Phaneuf said explains how Laurel Hill, Mossy Head and other communities of similar size to Paxton had Dollar General locations open in the past year.
Another business type the WCEDA is looking into for Paxton is enhanced medical services, as most Paxtonians travel to other cities or to Alabama to see a doctor. Phaneuf specifically targeted PanCare of Florida, Inc., which earlier this year opened a health center in Freeport. The fact that PanCare offers medical and dental services on a sliding scale to uninsured patients as well as those on Medicaid and Medicare in addition to serving as a primary medical care facility makes PanCare an ideal partner for the city, she said.
Phaneuf made contact with the director of the Freeport PanCare office about the possibility of opening a satellite office in Paxton but further research is needed before any plans can go forward. Nevertheless, she said the WCEDA will actively try to bring the kinds of businesses and services the people of Paxton want and need.
“We’ll continue to search along those lines until we can find some companies that would be a good fit for Paxton,” Phaneuf said.
Before the meeting adjourned the Council took care of some last-minute housekeeping. Although this article will not appear in print until after the holiday, the Council wished to make it known that Paxton Town Hall would be closed from Friday, Dec. 23, through Monday, Dec. 26 in observance of Christmas. Furthermore, city employees were authorized to use personal leave time to begin the holiday a day early, as per tradition, in this case at noon on Thursday, Dec. 22.