By BEN GRAFTON
At the Freeport City Council meeting of Jan. 26, Preble-Rish engineer Charlie Cotton reported that pipe for the North Bay water main project has been installed to a point about 1 1/2 miles east of Eastern Street and that Eglin Air Force Base officials met with the engineers at the work site last week to discuss archeological and environmental subjects. He reminded the Council of the incident in which a Century Link crew installed cable by surface excavation in a zone where the city holds an easement and is required to use directional drilling and archeological supervision to perform its work. The city’s contractor will be actively working next week and no delays are expected.
Referring to the Century Link episode, Mayor Mickey Marse advised the Council that Eglin seems to have two sets of rules: one for telephone companies and another one for other people. The city is preparing letters to send to the base commander and to its local representative about the way the Air Force has handled this issue.
According to Cotton, the contractor has done most of the important portion of work, funded under the energy grant, on the pump modifications in the sewer plant.
Cotton also told the Council that the pipe line for the Wagon Wheel well project has already been permitted, that other design work is under way and engineering is ready to submit the application for the well permit.
In other business: City Planner Latilda Henninger distributed copies of a list of registered Freeport businesses. The list included the business name, its address, principle service and number of employees. There were a total of 611 employed by the registered businesses in 2011. C.W. Roberts Contracting, with 120 workers, was the largest employer in the city. Registrations are still being added to the list.
Referring to the port, Henninger reminded the Council of the opportunity for participation in the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Working Waterfront Program. This program is designed to assist the community in improving economic activity in its port facilities. A resolution to commit Freeport and Walton County to joint participation in the program has already been prepared and signed by county officials. The Council approved a motion for Marse to sign this resolution for the city.
City Attorney Clayton Adkinson advised that he would be present in March and April when depositions in the matter of the terminated Fire Department employee are taken.
The Council approved the continuing engineering service contract with Preble-Rish.
With regard to engineering services, Marse indicated he did not think the city needed two engineering firms under contract, but if the need arose, then the city could get another firm at that time. The Council agreed with this position.
Councilman Harold Taunton reviewed the status of efforts to have no-wake signs installed at the port and south on Four Mile Creek and of discussions with Dawn Griffin of the Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), to get permits for the signs. He found that permit application and enforcement rules are so restrictive that it would be very difficult to comply with the regulations.
After discussion, Councilman Earl King proposed that, in lieu of no-wake signs, the city install signs at the boat ramps asking boaters to use safe boating practices and observe slower speeds. The Council approved following this approach.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Brannon reported that she and City Clerk Robin Haynes attended the West Florida League of Cities meeting in Greenville. The League wants its members to support these three resolutions: 1. Support reform of the police and firemen’s pension plan; 2. Support a request for review of the health of the Florida aquifer; and 3. Support a petition to have AMTRAK service restored in this area.
For the Council’s information, Marse announced that a historical sign will be put up at the Masonic Hall. The sign will provide information about the building: when it was first put up, when it burned, when it was reconstructed in 1903 and that it has been in continuous service ever since.
Councilman Ray Jackson reported that the Sewer Department has two pick-up trucks that have become so unreliable that they spend more time in the shop than they do on the road. Funds to provide new trucks were not included in the budget. A motion was made and approved to have specifications drawn up for two new full sized pick-up trucks with V-8 engines.
Haynes advised the Council that work is underway to draw up a lighting proposal for the sidewalk along SR-20.