By BEN GRAFTON
July 8, 2014 was election day for the city of Freeport, so before the Council meeting was called to order, Walton County Supervisor of Elections Bobby Beasley and one of his staff completed counting absentee ballots and added this count to the totals from the voting machines. The results gave candidate Casey Cuchens a commanding victory over incumbent Councilman Harold Taunton. Cuchens and candidate Eddie Farris, who ran unopposed for the other Council seat up for election, will be sworn in as members of the Council at its regular meeting on July 24.
Following the announcement of voting results, Mayor Russ Barley called the regular Council meeting to order.
City Planner Latilda Hughes-Neel advised the Council that a request for waiver of fees for the Freeport Community Center has been received for the meeting of the Dixie Youth State Majors Tournament Credentials Panel. The meeting will be held in Freeport from 6 – 9 p.m. on July 18. The Council approved the request.
Hughes-Neel also asked the Council to approve her travel and lodging expenses to attend the Florida ATA Conference. Attendance is necessary to keep her certification up to date. The conference will be held during the period of Sept. 3 – 6. The request was approved.
City Attorney Clayton Adkinson advised the Council that the new bill which provides debt release for relocation of water lines along U. S. 331 became effective on July 1. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has not yet developed an application procedure in regards to this. DOT has advised they will develop a procedure and notify the city as soon as it is available- hopefully within the next month.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Brannon advised the Council that she has talked to the DOT Governmental Affairs Liaison. She learned that a DOT traffic engineer will be here next week and while he is here he will look at safety issues with the traffic lights at the intersection of U.S. 331 and SR-20.
Fire Chief Chad Harrell reported that in June the department answered 36 calls of which 23 were for medical emergencies, five were motor vehicle accidents and three were structure fires. In addition, maintenance was performed on 109 fire hydrants and department training was conducted. Three fire inspections were completed. One of those was a day-care that was on the second floor of a residential building. The facility did not meet any of the codes and approval was denied. Department Captain Tom Palmer presented three CPR classes for teachers and coaches.
Harrell also reported that he has taken and passed the state certification test for Instructor II and that Palmer took and passed the hardest test of all, the Fire Officer I Certification for the state of Florida. This was greeted with applause from the audience.
Barley announced that the round of advertisements for applicants seeking the City Clerk job is complete. The city has received 19 applications. Review of the applications will be scheduled and top candidates identified for interviews.
Barley also announced Larry Tuggle has passed the water operator’s test.
By BEN GRAFTON