Paxton will donate $500 for Key Club Back to School Drive, hears festival updates

By RUBY KEARCE The Paxton City Council met Tuesday, June 21 at Paxton City Hall. The meeting started by electing a separate cemetery board. The cemetery board will have their own meeting within 30 days. Latilda Hughes - Neel then approached the board to discuss Grit and Grace, a stage-play drama depicting the life of Paxton native Bobby Kemp, as told by Bobby Charles and Brendan Roberta. The show is nearing completion, and it will be the second in a lineup of 11 stories about Walton County History. Hughes- Neel, with permission from Charles, read an excerpt from the play: “Mama and Daddy were a team. Mama went to city council meetings with Daddy. If he got overly excited about something, all she had to do was say ‘Bobby.’ And at home when she calmed him down, she would just quietly say ‘Bobby I’ve heard all I want to hear’ and if he’d kept on she would say ‘Bobby I said I have heard all I want to hear.’” The Council was invited to the performance of Grit and Grace. Patrick O’Neal, developer of the future Black Lake RV Park, then approached the board regarding utilities for the park. The project is projected to have 35 spaces and needs sewer services in order to move forward. O’Neal is asking the board for a letter of availability and a time frame in order to know if the project will need to be done in multiple phases or if it can be done in just one phase. The board decided that the city’s engineer will gather the needed information and get it to O’Neal in a timely manner. Public Works Representative Anna Hudson then came forward with a list of roads and sidewalks scheduled to be resurfaced. Council member Donna Smith, brought County Hwy. 147 to the board’s attention. The road is in need of more than resurfacing and will be used as the main entrance and exit for all Paxton School traffic. A motion to make County Hwy 147 a top priority was passed, and the board approved the resurfacing list Hudson presented. The board then discussed the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application and ways to make the city’s application more competitive. The two suggestions made were for the city council to contribute $25,000 to the project and to form a committee appointed by Mayor Ann Sexton. The grant will be used to make improvements at the sewage treatment facility. In other business, the council agreed to donate a new credit card machine to the Paxton Post Office. And, the council passed a motion to change the monthly meeting time from 5:30 p.m. year round, to 6 p.m. during the summer, and 5:30 p.m. during the winter.

Story and photo by RUBY KEARCE

At its monthly meeting on July 19, the Paxton’s City Council passed a motion to match last year’s donation of $500 to the Key Club’s back-to-school drive again this year. 

Council member Donna Smith then updated the council on preparations for the Bobby Kemp Festival. She reported that there is now a sponsor for the Color Run, as the list of sponsors continues to grow. The money raised during the event will go toward scholarships for one Paxton and one Florala High School Senior. Four food trucks are planning to be there, with one donating a percentage of the day’s profits to the Bobby Kemp scholarships. A car show is planned, and the Big Red Bus will be making an appearance. Scholarship applications are being created so that Bobby Kemp’s family can choose the two seniors to be awarded the scholarships. 

The council also discussed two water bill waivers that were made prior to the meeting by Mayor Ann Sexton. The council was concerned that according to ordinance and procedures, the mayor does not have authority to do so and that everyone must come before the council. So a motion was passed for the accounts to be charged and the residents given an opportunity to approach the council for the waiver. 

A quote from AR Social Media was discussed, for the archiving of everything the city posts on their social media page. The service will protect the city if someone requests a record, since Facebook does not currently meet Florida standards for retaining information. A motion was passed to accept the quote from AR Social Media.  

Because the city did not receive income survey results in time, they cannot submit the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application. However, there is a separate grant, for rural areas, that gives the city more time to collect the information and submit the application. Accordingly a motion was passed to authorize the city to apply for the new grant application. 

Attendee Brieson Lowry, who owns a water sports business, approached the board asking for permission for his clients to not only rent his inflatables but for them to also rent the city’s agricultural building for setting up. A motion was passed with the condition that they pay a separate water fee, if the water- filled inflatables are used.

In other business, the mayor will be hiring a part-time billing clerk and will start advertising for the position soon. The council also announced the date of the first meeting for the cemetery board to be Monday, August 1, at 2 p.m. Council member Jenice Armstrong mentioned wanting to discuss expanding the cemetery. 

The Paxton City Council holds its regular monthly meetings on the third Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. The meetings are open to the public.