BONIFAY — Helen Rigdon, the representative of Congressman Jeff Miller, was present at the Holmes County Board of County Commissioners meeting on Dec. 11 to present Cody Taylor with a copy of the Congressional Record recognizing and honoring his retirement after 36 years of service as Clerk of Court for Holmes County.
“Speaker, I rise today to recognize Cody Taylor, on the occasion of his retirement after thirty-six years of service as Clerk of Court for Holmes County, Florida,” said Rigdon as she read the Congressional Record.
“For more than three decades, Mr. Taylor served the citizens of Northwest Florida with distinction and unwavering commitment to public service.
“A native of Northwest Florida, Mr. Taylor attended Poplar Spring High School in Graceville. There, he helped lead the basketball team to two state championships. He received a basketball scholarship to Chipola Junior College and to the University of West Florida, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a master’s degree in Public Administration. In 1976, Mr. Taylor was elected Holmes County Clerk. “He has served in this capacity with the utmost respect and integrity. His tireless work ethic and dedication to the citizens of Holmes County for the last thirty-six years did not go unnoticed. In 2007, Mr. Taylor was named the “Clerk of the Year” by the Florida Association of Court Clerks and Comptrollers.
“Mr. Taylor’s commitment to the Northwest Florida community extends well beyond his role as Holmes County Clerk of Court. He is an active member of the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce and a devoted member of the First Baptist Church. Mr. Taylor served in the Florida Army National Guard and as a member of the Bonifay Kiwanis Club and West Florida Regional Planning Council.
“For twenty years, he served as a member of the Bonifay Little League Association and as a basketball official for the Florida High School Athletic Association. He was also the President and Board Member of the Holmes County Fair Association, President and co-founder of Holmes Healthcare, and Vice President of the Florida Future Farmers of America.
“In addition to his service to the community, Mr. Taylor is also a loving and committed husband, father and grandfather. He and his wife Brenda, also a Northwest Florida native, have four children, Zachary, Whit, Lucas, and Hilary; and 11 grandchildren, Jordan, Jacob, Jackson, Kodie, Campbell, Graham, Gwynneth, Eli, Taylor, Brighton, and Georgia. I know Mr. Taylor looks forward to spending more time with them following his retirement.
“Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the United States Congress, I thank Cody Taylor for his dedication to our community, and I congratulate him on his retirement. My wife, Vicki and I wish him and his family all the best.”
Resident Zack Taylor spoke about his father and thanked everyone for their support.
“I wanted to thank all the citizens of Holmes County for their support of my father and making this feel like home,” said Zack. “I also want to thank Holmes County for recognizing my father and his service.”
In other business, the board approved of a Bond Refunding Resolution to refinance their 30-year loan with First Federal down to 17-year loan at a 2.95-fixed interest rate, saving the county over $900,000.
“This year alone you’ll be saving $29,000,” said County Financial Consultant Jim Gollahon. “This is a savings that you’ll experience every year, totaling a savings of over $900,000.”
This was a loan that was used to build the work camp and Holmes County Public Library.
Resident Renee Davis came before the council on behalf of the recipient of the long time State Housing Initiatives Partnership program project that had faced delays for almost three years.
The project was suppose to come to a close after the Holmes County Board of County Commissioners approved to grant the project a Certification of Occupancy during their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 9.
“This is a long-time SHIP Project,” said County Attorney Jeff Goodman during that meeting. “We’re trying to get her in her new home and because of certain circumstances, it must be paid by the county.”
Goodman explained that due to a variety of mishaps due to failings on the part of the contractor, the homeowner and to the county two years ago the county had to pay for the prolonged SHIP project.
“We could try to pursue the contractor that is primarily at fault in this issue,” said Goodman. “However it would cost the County and their citizens far more to try to pursue the matter legally then to rectify the problem ourselves.”
The board denied paying for the remaining work but approved to grant Lopez a Certification of Occupancy, which shows that the house is now to standards to be occupied.
“She’s over the age of 60 and lives in a trailer with mold so bad that it took me two days to recover from it after one visit,” said Commissioner Phillip Music. “She needed to move into that home ages ago.”
Holmes County Building Inspector Roger Williams assured the board that the house was “safe and clean” and cleared to be lived in. The only things unfinished about the home were cosmetic applications, such as painting the front and back doors and she was in need of a refrigerator and stove.
Williams also informed the board that the trailer would also have to be demolished.
Davis came before the board to inform them that the house was not up to standard due to the water heater not being hooked up, nor electricity and the back door was rotted and covered in mold.
Davis explained that she had to represent the woman because she was in the nursing home due to injuries incurred when she fell through the floor of her old home.
“When she finishes her therapy she will be forced to leave and then where will she go?” asked Davis. “She can’t go to her old home, it is uninhabitable.”
The board called Williams forward to explain the circumstances of the recipient being unable to move into the home.
“It’s one of those things where we didn’t have the time to follow up on the project,” said Williams. “With the permission of the board we’ll go out together and see what needs to be done to make this house livable.”
The board agreed and Goodman advised that this is a matter for “all parties” to be involved by being placed on the BOCC’s agenda to be discussed and resolved in a scheduled meeting.
“We’ll move as quickly as we can,” said Chair Monty Merchant.
Davis urged that the matter be resolved as quickly as possible, since the resident would be forced to leave the nursing home on Dec. 20 with no where to go.
The board approved of a bid of $15,930 to purchase radios, equipment and equipment updates for the Holmes County Sheriff’s Department, Emergency Management, Bonifay Police Department and Ponce de Leon Fire Department using money acquired through a fond derived from speeding tickets, etc.
The board agreed to hold their insurance appraisal, which is held every five years, until October or November of 2013 so that it can be placed on the 2013 budget.
“This is an appraisal of all the County’s buildings and all the contents within for insurance purposes,” explained Merchant.
The appraisal was quoted to cost $5,200.
The board approved to decline the grater bids and table the discussion until January’s meeting.
Williams told the three new commissioners that he would rather not move forward if the majority of the new commissioners felt uneasy about moving forward with purchasing the graters.
“If I were you, just coming on a new board, and there was two knuckleheads from the old Board saying the old Board just agreed to spend half a million dollars on graders without my input I’d tell them I wasn’t in,” said Williams. “So I’m in with whatever you guys decide.”
Commissioner Bobby Sasnett was in agreement with purchasing the new graters.
“Our roads are tore up and we’ve got two graters in my district that are out of commission,” said Sasnett. “Something’s got to be done and done soon.”
Commissioners David Whitaker and Bill Parish weren’t in agreement.
“I’ll tell you now that I’m not comfortable with our current process,” said Whitaker. “We should have someone come in and show us how we can run things more efficiently.”
Parish backed Whitaker, saying that there’s got to be a more efficient way to run the equipment to make them last longer and not have to spend so much time and money repairing or replacing graters.
“I’m not comfortable spending a million dollars on six graters or $200,000 on one,” said Parish. “I’d like confirmation that’s what we need. Our newest grater in District 3 is out of commission and under our current conditions even if we get four new graters there’s no guarantee that they’re going to be able to run every day.”
Parish said he’d be more comfortable tabling the discussion until January’s meeting, when he could do more research into the matter.
Goodman advised that the bids were going to expire if the board didn’t move forward and the Board approved to throw out the bids and table the matter until January’s meeting with a vote of four to one, with Williams voting “no.”
Local resident and owner of Ben’s Place Will Morales came before the Board with a proposal for animal control for Holmes County.
“There’s a problem with stray dogs and cats in Holmes County and we’ve got an ordinance that was passed, with my assistance, that isn’t being enforced,” said Morales. “There’s thousands of dollars in grant money out there that can help the county build awareness through education, catch and house strays, apply vouchers for spaying and neutering, but goes unaccounted for because the county doesn’t have an agency for animal control.”
Morales said that since 2005 Ben’s Place Animal Rescue & Care Adoption Center, Inc. is “registered with The Florida Department of Agriculture as a Humane No-Kill 501c3 Not For Profit Animal Rescue Organization; successfully has conducted animal rescue and control services for the residents of Holmes County; successfully worked with the Holmes County community to rescue, shelter, care and find caring homes for hundreds of dogs, puppies, cats, kittens and horses; established a foster care program for temporary homes for companions; established a Spay and Neuter transport program; established a Youth K-9 program leading to increase youth and community humane practices with animals; established a Senior & Person with Disability Companionship program offering all therapeutic benefit associated with companionship; and conducted The Panhandle Dog Expo, an educational and recreational event for the entire family.”
If the County considers Ben’s Place Animal Rescue & Care Adoption Center, Inc. as Holmes County’s animal control Morales said there would be “a domino effect and we will be able to hire residents of Holmes County; institute and enforce Holmes County Rabies and Animal Control Ordinance 10-02 in conjunction with the office of Sheriff Tim Brown and generate approximately $46,490 in funds from operation based on National Council on Pet Population & Policy; pick up and address stray dogs, puppies, cats and kittens in Holmes County; render animal control, care and humane education throughout Holmes County; implement a Spay and Neuter Voucher Program in Holmes County; secure other funding sources for veterinarian care for abused and neglected cats and dogs program, spay and neuter for public animals and pets, programs to increase adoption, new building and facility repairs, operating costs, vehicle/equipment purchases, animal welfare, companion training, innovative human/animal bond programs, low income food/medication assistance programs and more.”
“It’s been eight years of many trials and in the words of Robert Schuler ‘Tough times don’t last but tough people do,’” said Morales. “Thank you for the support Holmes County has shown to Ben’s Place Animal Rescue. I graciously request that the County provide funding that we, the community, can make happen one house at a time.”
Merchant said that the Board appreciated Morales’ proposal and the Board would review and consider it.
“We have acknowledged that we are in need of an animal rescue facility in Holmes County,” said Merchant. “We’ve got three new commissioners and an opportunity for three fresh eyes to review your request. Give us time to review and consider; thank you.”
Whitaker brought a request from the airport before the Board.
“A couple of months ago they requested that we come and trim along their fence next to the road, now they are requesting that we go on the inside of the fence and do the same,” said Whitaker. “I was seeking council on the matter.”
Merchant said he saw nothing wrong with it since the airport was a “quasi-governmental organization” and not private property.
Whitaker also said that the State’s trailer’s hubs needed replacing and they were requesting that the County pay for them.
“They’re State’s property, therefore State’s responsibility,” said Williams.
Parish inquired about the State’s trailer and Williams explained that this was a trailer used to carry equipment so that the inmates could clean parts of the county, etc.
The board agreed not to pay to fix the State’s trailer and to hold a workshop to meet with the Department of Corrections about future occurrences.
Williams came before the Board saying that a resident had a request to cross a portion of the County dirt pit to cut timber from his land.
“We’ve got the only access point to that timber on his land because the rest is surrounded by swamp land,” said Williams.
Goodman advised that the resident would have to sign a multitude of wavers and indemnifications and be made aware of the expenses of drawing this paperwork up, which would cost around $700 to $1,500.
Williams agreed to let the resident know that those would be the conditions.
Williams also informed the Board that he had made a mistake somewhere when bidding out the process of paving and striping County Road 177A.
“I don’t know how it happened, but we didn’t finish striping County Road 177A,” said Williams.
The board approved to put out bids to finish striping CR 117A.
Merchant requested to the Board to find a way to reduce the number of members in the Holmes County Development Commission.
“There’s over 15 members and it’s been expressed by some that these numbers need to be reduced,” said Merchant.
Goodman explained there has to be at least seven regular members to hold quorum and at least that many ex officio members that have voting rights to keep those members “in check.”
Ex officio members are usually applied in Board of Directors, both for profit and non-profit and Boards of Trustees, charitable organizations, membership based, society, etc. and according to the Articles of Incorporation this term usually only applies to past Development Commission presidents and chair members and even though they are past members they still have voting power within the Board.
“It’s a matter of checks and balances,” said Goodman. “It’d be a shame if the Development Commission and the Board of County Commissioners didn’t come together.”
Sasnett informed the board that he had found a piece of property in Westville to relocate his “yard” to.
A Commissioner’s “yard” is a centralized location in which to refuel that district’s vehicles, house their equipment, etc.
Sasnett had requested to relocate his “yard” to a location closer to where he lives for security purposes.
Parish requested that the board look into a more efficient way to locate the “yards.”
“We incur a lot of expenses relocating these ‘yards,’” said Parish. “There are buildings that need to be moved, tankards of fuel, and so many other expenses that come with moving a yard. I know it’s a common practice that’s been going on for many years, but we’ve got to look into a way of establishing a centralized and permanent location for these ‘yards’ so that we don’t have to continue relocating these ‘yards’ every time we get a new commissioner.”
The next regularly scheduled Board of County Commissioners meeting is set for 9 a.m. on Jan. 8.