DeFuniak Springs City Council hears results of street painting survey, plans holiday events [PREMIUM]

Ralph and Mary Griner express concerns over Magnolia Cemetery rate increases.


The DeFuniak City Council held its regular meeting on September 12, 2022, at the Walton County Courthouse. Council member Robert McKnight was not present. 

On the consent agenda, there were several special event permits requested. 

• Annual Christmas Parade starting at Walton Middle School and traveling around Lake DeFuniak from Hubbard Street and ending at Walton Middle School on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., sponsored by the DFS Woman’s Club. 

• Halloween Trick or Treat Around the Lake event is to provide a safe environment for children to Trick or Treat around Circle Drive also sponsored by the DFS Woman’s Club. The event is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

• Walton High School Homecoming Parade starting at Baldwin Avenue and traveling around Lake DeFuniak to the Walton Middle School on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 pm.

• Main Street DeFuniak Springs will be hosting an outdoor event on Baldwin Avenue from South 7th Street to South 8th Street on Saturday Oct. 1, 2022, from 3 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The event will have the sale of alcoholic beverages and food, a mobile axe-throwing station, and a live German / polka band. 

• DeFuniak Business and Professional Association will be hosting an outdoor Halloween Trick or Treat event on Baldwin Avenue from South 6th Street to South 9th Street on Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, from 3:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. 

Regarding the audit checklist, the city is to expect a completion of the audit within 3 – 6 months from Warren Averett, LLC, and receive an update within 90 days. 

A motion to approve the interlocal agreement for debris removal was made and approved. 

The sole proposal for accounting services was filed with the city. A motion to accept was made and seconded. 

The city posted a Request for Qualifications for Airport Engineering Continuing Services and received five sealed bids. Upon advice of the city attorney on the question of ranking, and discussion, of making a “short list” or interviewing all candidates, it was proposed to hear a brief presentation, interview and rank all five at the same special meeting. It was suggested and agreed to set the special meeting in the next two weeks. 

City Marshal James Hurley asked the council for a letter accepting a funding grant from JAGC, which was moved and approved. 

Comments and criticisms were made from citizens Ralph and Mary Griner on lack of notice of Magnolia Cemetery headstone re-engraving and other rate increases. The increases look them and other citizens by surprise. Various additional avenues of communications that are not strictly online (such as newspapers, radio, etc.) were suggested, for those “not tech savvy,” as observed by Mr. Griner. The council acknowledged there have been problems (including those related to COVID, which impacted inmate labor), and the general rise in cost of living. It was felt that keeping the cemetery in a proper and “respectful” condition required fee increases. The council promised to continue to work to improve ways to communicate with the public. 

Approval was given for a new copier and wide format printer with Dex Imaging. Financial impacts: New Copier Lease $149.54 a month = $1,794.48 (12 months), $5,383.44 (36 months), One-time $75 fee. New Wide Format Lease $386.23 a month = $4,634.76 (12 months), $13,904.28 (36 months), One-time $75 fee. 

The city has requested that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) move forward with the realignment study for the proposed realignment of Hwy 83 and Hwy 331. 

Kim Wennerberg, City Beautification & Tree Board Chair, relayed the results of the Baldwin Avenue Street Painting Survey. Public opinion is strongly in favor of discontinuing the painting project and not spending further tax dollars. Wennerberg suggested that brick pavers may be an option depending on cost and adjusting the timing to coincide with the water and sewer repairs that may need to be done in a couple of years. Council member Anthony Vallee also made a motion to address finishing the curb realignment and the crosswalks as originally planned. 

Several citizens also approached the council on the problem of incidents of discharging firearms in public and in small residential areas. Citing state pre-emption rules regarding firearms, the council referred them to the state legislature; the state has taken authority over such issues. Area law enforcement still has jurisdiction over criminal, reckless or negligent discharge of firearms.  

Cliff Knauer of Dewberry made a presentation to the council on status of the DFS Airport Terminal design and build, and there was discussion on the DFS Police Station renovation and office build out plans.