WCEDA supports new hospital, talks Woodlawn, budget, and updated by-laws

WCEDA MEMBERS listen to bylaw feedback.

By RUBY KEARCE 

The Walton County Economic Development Alliance (WCEDA) met for its regular meeting on Thursday, Sept. 7. The CEO of the North Walton Rural Hospital LLC approached the alliance in order to ask for a letter of support. North Walton Rural Hospital, LLC is moving into the old Healthmark location.The letter is addressed to the Agency for Health Care Administration for the licensure of a “type one” hospital. This will allow for the hospital to provide planned emergency care services, laboratory services, radiology services, surgical services, and 10 inpatient rooms. There was a motion passed to allow for Executive Director Uriah Matthews, and Chairman Danny Glidewell, to sign and send the letter of support of North Walton Rural Hospital, LLC to receive licensure for a type one hospital. 

Matthews then discussed a partially executed contract for the sale of property in Woodlawn, with the alliance holding off on executing because of feedback that Attorney Clay Adkinson had regarding the real estate commission. Negotiation will continue between the legal teams, and a changed contract will be brought to the Oct. 5 meeting. A motion was then passed to approve the execution of the contract with the changed price upon legal conclusion of its corrections. 

Matthews then moved the discussion to a budget update, stating that both Freeport and Paxton have agreed to fund the WCEDA at $4.95 per capita if the county will match, and $4.64 if the county stays the same. DeFuniak Springs has committed to funding at $4.95 if the county matches and $4.64 if not. Matthews attended the Walton County Board of Commissioners meeting on Sept. 11 to request the match of $4.95, and a formal funding request will be issued to alliance members following the outcome of that meeting. A motion was passed in that regard. 

The current WCEDA draft budget includes two job openings, and if all goes to plan with the county, Matthews wants to be proactive in hiring. Accordingly, Matthews has put together a job description for a Data Insight Coordinator, Administrative and Outreach coordinator, Grants and Compliance Coordinator, and an unpaid Marketing Intern from Northwest Florida State College. Matthews will be accepting any feedback on these job descriptions between this meeting and the Oct. 5 meeting. 

Matthews then proposed that the Oct. 5 lunch, before the meeting, be held at the Difficult Conversations about Workforce presentation by Florida’s Great Northwest at the Watercolor Lakehouse in Santa Rosa and to then host the meeting at the Chamber of Commerce building. A motion was passed to change the location of the lunch and meeting, as well as another motion passed to pay for a table out of the WCEDA budget. 

The proposed updated bylaws have been issued to alliance members for them to review over the next month. Matthews stated that the bylaws are in the spirit of becoming an inclusive organization that brings in the private sector. Matthews will also be working with Attorney Adkinson to ensure that the proposed bylaws do not put the alliance at risk of Sunshine Law violations. Alliance members will retain the right to vote on budgetary items, and limited voting rights would be extended to the remainder of the board with the exception of some non-voting members. A new position on the board would be for Career Source Okaloosa Walton that is typically involved with any major economic development project and will be brought on as a non-voting member. Matthews will be accepting feedback on the bylaws until the next meeting on Oct 5.