BONIFAY — Holmes County Board of County Commissioners approved extending Holmes County’s State of Emergency by seven days after a brief update and recommendation was given by Director of Emergency Management Wanda Stafford at their July 9 meeting.
“What saved us from some heavy flooding was that there was not that much rain in the northern part of the county,” said Stafford. “Along with us, Bay, Walton and Washington Counties were hit pretty hard.”
Stafford explained that in order for Florida to declare a State of Emergency there has to be a total of $26 million in damage to Florida.
“I don’t think it’s going to be that hard to reach that amount,” said Stafford. “For Holmes County the damage assessment is $680,000 and rising because all of our assessments aren’t done yet; there was $15 million dollars worth of damage in Washington County and if you add the damage done in Vernon alone the damage is up to $19 million. I think the addition of the damage done in Bay County will more than put us over the required $26 million, though we still have to have the president sign a Federal State of Emergency for Florida before we can get financial help.”
She said they are still assessing damages in Holmes County, adding that it was safe to assume, like Washington County, all dirt roads were affected.
“All of our roads are needing grading, shaping and ditches cleared,” said Stafford. “All in all it went well. The men came out and worked through the holiday.”
Board approved of Stafford’s request to use the county engineers to accompany Federal Emergency Management Agency agents if the government approves of funding.
Commissioner David Whitaker voiced his concerns about a local resident whose residential area was flooded with dirt from a county maintained road where a culvert was clogged and with the recent rain washed the road into her yard.
“I know it’s a private area but it’s our fault that the road emptied into her yard,” said Whitaker. “I think it is our responsibility. We need to fix it.”
County Attorney Jeff Goodman said that under a state of emergency they had more flexibility.
“These are unusual circumstances,” said Goodman. “That’s why a state of emergency is in place; for flexibility. This is about the health, safety and well being of the citizens and we shouldn’t not help because of the policy.”
After much discussion the Board agreed that as long as the county was under a State of Emergency then they would extend help to those in need.
County Engineers Cliff Knauer and Whitney Nelson assured the Board that they were available to help in developing a list of driveways in desperate need of repair.
Commissioner Bill Parish asked Goodman if any employee was able to refuse to work overtime.
“During those days when we needed workers the most we had quite a few that were refusing to answer their phones, failed to return phone calls and even had their phones turned off,” said Parish. “We even had some road foremen who didn’t go out until a commissioner called them out. I think they should have full range and know that after a rain like we had they’re going to need to be out there with every able body they can to fix it.”
Goodman confirmed that it is in their right to require their employees to work overtime and to be on standby for their services to be rendered.
Commissioner Bobby Sasnet also asked for a recommendation of action for those roads with deep cracks.
“When that water seeps in and settles in the foundation all that traffic is going to just bust it loose,” said Sasnet.
Nelson recommended a crack sealant commonly used in Jackson County.
“It won’t fix the problem but it will prolong the life of the road by protecting the base from moisture,” said Nelson. “I’ll come to the next board meeting with a price quote, but if I remember correctly, it’s fairly cheap.”
Board discussed the upcoming Solid Waste Franchise Agreement Renewals.
“Now’s the time for questions, comments and concerns,” said Williams. “We’ve been having some issues with trash being strewn all over God’s green earth because of an open ended trash truck. We’re getting a lot of ‘oops, that wasn’t us,’ and when we prove it we get a lot of ‘oops, we’ll never do it again’ and I’m sick of it.”
Goodman said that the real question was if they wanted to keep the multiple franchise agreement.
“To you want to spend the money and man power to keep up with a multiple franchise agreement?” asked Goodman. “That’s a lot of time and man power to keep up with everyone’s status, like proof of insurance. Also if you do keep the multiple franchise agreement you’ll have to look into health standards, putting teeth in your agreement to make sure these franchises are living up to their end of the bargain and a possible bond just in case they don’t so you can protect those citizens who are paying for these services.”
Board agreed to a workshop to discuss what should be done with the Solid Waste Franchise Agreement.
Board agreed to allow Knauer to look into how much it would cost to put a mesh trap at the Holmes County Correctional Institute’s sewer line because Parish had informed them that the City of Bonifay was in straits with items being dragged from the institute’s sewer line into the Waste Water Treatment Facility, getting stuck in pumps and burning the motors.
“We can put in a screen to filter those items for a decent price and just have the inmates clean it out on a daily basis,” said Knauer.
Board approved of a resolution against illegal immigration with a vote of 4 to 1, with Parish voting “no.”
“People who enter the United States illegally should not receive any benefits from American taxpayers,” read Williams. “All United States boards should be totally secured and 100 percent verified and any person in the U.S. illegally should receive no amnesty. I wholeheartedly agree.”
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Holmes County Board of County Commissioners is set for 6 p.m. on July 30.