BONIFAY — Superintendent of Holmes County Schools Eddie Dixon announced that their intended location for the new Bonifay Middle and Elementary School is the Holmes County Fair Grounds during the Holmes County Board of County Commission’s June 25 meeting.
“The fair grounds behind the Holmes County High School is the ideal location because we can then have all the schools in one location,” said Dixon. “The old high school, which is the middle school now, was built in the early ‘50s, while the elementary school was built in 1969. The middle school had clay pipes, which are now completely gone and that’s just one of the many reasons we need new schools.”
County Attorney Jeff Goodman inquired Dixon about the Board’s role in this endeavor.
“We need some sort of agreement that if we acquire the funding then we’ll be able to reach some sort of agreement concerning that property,” said Dixon. “Representatives from the Department of Education will be down next week, perhaps you can send a representative on behalf of the Board to attend?”
The Board approved of sending Commissioner Williams and Goodman to all negotiations involving the process of building these new schools at the Holmes County Fair Grounds.
Holmes County Constitutional Officers including Property Appraiser Otis Corbin, Supervisor of Elections Debbie Wilcox, Clerk of Court Kyle Hudson, Holmes County Tax Collector Harry B. Bell, III and County Judge Owen Powell were present to request that the county do a feasibility study for Holmes County to have a Governmental Complex.
“We don’t want it tonight, we just want you to do a study to see if it’s feasible,” said Powell. “One of our more pressing needs is to get the Supervisor of Elections office out of the courthouse. It’s subjecting our voters to the bad company that frequent that courthouse and every day it poses a compromise in security to the courthouse.”
Powell added that with one building there would be shared facilities, conference room, etc. and that would in the long run save the county money.
“I think there will be funding available for such a facility and we are together on this as a unified front,” said Powell. “We just want a good start to get going.”
Bell said that he was anticipating a large amount of growth coming to Holmes County and they would need the additional office space and parking for county business.
“My situation is kind of urgent,” said Wilcox. “Our voters did very well coming to the back of the courthouse for early voting and the government was very flexible with us, however it is still a requirement that early voting be done at the Supervisor of Elections’ Office and our voters have the right to feel safe when coming to vote. Being near the courthouse makes for a hostile environment.”
Commissioner Bill Parish suggested that the study be held off until the next budget cycle.
“The building itself isn’t going to be finished until further down the road at any rate, so there’s time for the study to be included in our next budgeting cycle,” said Parish. “I do agree that we have an urgent matter at the moment and suggest we find a place to relocate the Supervisor of Elections’ Office as soon as possible until this governmental complex can become established.”
The Board agreed to look into a possible new location temporarily for the Supervisor of Elections’ Office.
Board approved of building a Mosquito Control Building to house the mosquito spray truck and chemicals at the Recycling Center for the amount of $12,595, which will come out Mosquito Control’s budget.
Board approved of extending their contracts with Melvin Engineering and Preble Rish for another year.
Chair Monty Merchant said that he spoke with the Department of Transportation and it looks as though they might have additional funds to help widen County Road 2 from County Road 82 to the Walton County Line, however it would help if the Board made it a top priority.
“This doesn’t devalue the importance of the repairs needed for Thomas Drive and Duncan Road, it just pushes it up so that the project can be started on this year,” said Merchant. “Thomas Drive and Duncan Road still won’t be eligible for work until 2017.”
Board approved of placing County Road 2 at the top of their priority list.
Board approved of Holmes County Extension Director Shep Eubanks’ recommendation to hire Wendy Smith as the new Extension Office Secretary.
“Out of 22 applicants and eight interviews she was the best choice,” said Eubanks. “She has over 17 years of experience, her test scores were the highest and she had outstanding references.”
Board approved of Director of Holmes County Emergency Management Wanda Stafford’s request to extend the Emergency Operations Center hours from 35 hours per week to 40, with a vote of 4 to 1, with Merchant voting “no.”
Stafford confirmed that demands on the Emergency Operations Center had been increasing and the additional hours would not be of any cost to the county.
“We will continue to do our best to support you all and do the best job that we can,” said Stafford.
Commissioner Bobby Sasnet moved to have a local bus driver’s driveway repaired but it died due to lack of second.
Goodman said there was some room to work if it was private property being used for public purposes and the other commissioners were reluctant because it was private property.
Merchant asked about the ongoing efforts to beautify the courthouse and Board of County Commissioners building.
County Engineer Whitney Nelson from Melvin Engineering said he had submitted a plan that would cost $2,128 that would enlist the help of inmate labor and a local nursery.
Board agreed to look into asking the Bonifay Garden Club for their advice as well.
The next scheduled Holmes County Board of County Commissions meeting is set for 9 a.m. on July 9.