The Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners held its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Tuesday evening, June 6 at 6 p.m.
Following preliminary matters including the invocation, Pledge of Allegiance, and approval of the agenda, the board heard from county citizens on non-agenda items.
Mike Watson, who lives on Sycamore Road in Quincy, came to the meeting with a complaint that the road needs to be paved.
Watson stated that he was initially angry on arrival at the meeting due to unanswered questions.
“However, I had some discussions before the meeting with one of the commissioners [Brenda Holt, District 4] and the Public Works Director [Curtis Young] and that satisfied most of my curiosity,” said Watson. “The Public Works Director promised me a list and the order in which they will be looked at, and I’m happier than a dead pig in sunshine. Basically that’s why I came here tonight, to complain again and not let you all forget about Sycamore. I drive it everyday so I can’t forget about it.”
Michael Brown of Quincy, a representative of the Gadsden County Soil and Water Conservation, also addressed the board on behalf of a group of citizens regarding parks in the Friendship area.
Specifically, Brown said the restrooms in Friendship Park were not being attended to properly.
“The bathrooms are deplorable,” said Brown. “The door going into the park is torn. The seats are demolished. If I was to take my grandkids there to play, there’s no way they could even drink water.”
Brown brought pictures to share with the board, showing bird’s nests and a leak in the bathroom, among other issues.
“It didn’t just happen this weekend,” Brown said. “It was built and not maintained. If we had a dignitary come here and say, ‘Let me see your parks,’ all of us would be embarrassed. And I want you proud when you come here to Gadsden County.”
“This is something we obviously have to deal with,” stated Commissioner Kimblin NeSmith after viewing the pictures.
District 4 Commissioner Brenda Holt brought up that this was her district, and that part of the problem was that the county did not originally own the land, and that Imperial Nursery allowed the park to be built, meaning grant money could not be used, and the county could not get funding for the park to be redone.
Holt also has called for an evaluation of parks in the area so they can all be brought up to standard.
After some discussion, District 1 Commissioner Eric Hinson suggested the possibility of using COVID-19 money to fund the repairs, as well as scheduling a meeting to discuss revitalization of all Gadsden County Parks.
Casey Dennis, Chief Executive Officer of the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Bend was next to address the board.
Dennis began by thanking the board for $275,000 in donations over the last 10 years, and $500,000 allocated for a new stand-alone facility for the organization which currently meets at Stewart Street Elementary School in Quincy.
Dennis then asked the board for an increase of funding to $1.25 million to purchase the new facility.
Several members of the club were called upon to speak about the benefits of the Boys and Girls Club and what it would mean to have this new facility.
Following the presentation, District 2 Commissioner Alonzetta Simpkins asked Dennis if they could schedule a meeting to discuss funding the project.
After some discussion, in which most of the board said they had a lot of questions regarding how this new requested funding increase would affect the partnership between the County and the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Bend, Commissioner NeSmith suggested a workshop.
Hinson stated that, while he supported the Boys and Girls Club 100 percent, other facilities were important as well, such as a community center on the East side of Havana, which Commissioner Nesmith said would be discussed as well during the workshop.
Following this, the board was asked to designate a delegate and an alternate for the 2023 National Association of Counties Annual Conference, from July 21-24 in Texas.
District 5 Commissioner Ronterious Green made a motion to designate the Chairman Commissioner NeSmith and Vice-Chair Commissioner Hinson as the delegate and alternate respectively.
The motion carried 5-0.
During the meeting, the board also voted 5-0 to pursue financing for affordable multifamily residential rental, in partnership with the Escambia County Housing Authority, to fund the cost of a 36-unit multifamily housing facility, to be called the Cross Creek Gardens at Quincy, west of the intersection of Pat Thomas Parkway and South Springs Road.
In other matters, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve a budget amendment for fiscal year 2022-2023, to balance the budget.
With the amendment, funds in the amount of $322,370 will be moved from the the General Fund Reserve for Contingency to pay for items already approved by the board: The Gadsden County Bi-Centennial – $200,000, The City of Midway Emancipation Day Celebration – $25,000, Capital Health Plan Billing Variance – $77,369.24, and National Homeownership Month Event – $20,000.
Stephen Klein – Gadsden County News Service