BONIFAY - Owner of Stateline Liquors, located at 1065 State Road 179A in Westville, Mike Joshi came before the Holmes County Board of County Commissioners during their June 8 meeting to request expanding his liquor store into a full-service bar.
"I have a liquor store in Westville that has been open for almost 40 years," said Joshi. "I am now trying to open a bar and I need permission with the county as rules and regulations follows. I have letters signed by the local residents that say they do not have a problem with me opening a bar."
County Attorney Jeff Goodman requested Holmes County Building Inspector Roger Williams to speak to the Board on what information he had on the matter.
Williams informed the Board there is an ordinance in place with restrictions near churches and schools, which he is not and not within a 1,000 feet of a residential home, which can be waivered if the resident agrees. Another condition owner
must have a valid Florida restaurant license and a restaurant that serves food "prepared on the premises."
Williams said one of the concerns Joshi has is putting expenses into a restaurant and not have the assurance that the Board will give their permission.
Larry Sawyer, claiming to own 90 percent of the land around the store, came to protest Joshi's efforts.
"There's not enough law enforcement to have a restaurant/bar in that area," said Sawyer. "I talked with the local people in that area and they say they're not interested in having people drinking in that bar and then riding down public roads. Putting a bar out there would be detrimental to the people in that area because we don't have a police patrol."
Board approved Goodman's request to table the matter until the next meeting and he would use those two weeks to sit down with the owner and review what some of his options are.
· Emergency Services Director Interim Roger Dale Hagan requested permission to use up to $3,000 of 911 funds to allow 911 Director Cliff McGowan to receive additional training,
explaining there are "points not covered by the previous director due to the pressing needs after the state of emergency the county was under due to the rains."
· Consent Items: June 24 Regular Session Minutes; Insurance Committee Recommendations; Notice to Proceed Sidewalk Phase II; Metcalf Road headwall; Preble Rish Agreement Sidewalk Project FPID 429661-1-68-01, 429660-1-68-01 NS 429664-1-68-01; Release of Lien with Legear; and FDOT Road Closure of Whitaker and Reddick Mill Road.
· At the request of Commissioner Bill Parish the Board pulled Consent Item: Opportunity Florida Letter of Commitment to discuss the annual membership dues of $2,000. Commissioner Kenneth Williams explained that it afforded the county opportunities to expand that they would not have had otherwise, using the latest tower agreement as an example. Opportunity Florida has an agreement with the County to build a new tower and gave it to the County under the condition that as payment Opportunity Florida is allowed to use it for a certain amount of years, leaving a space for County usage. Chair Monty Merchant suggested inviting the Holmes County Development Commissioner to the next meeting to inquire about the benefits Holmes County is
receiving from being a member of Opportunity Florida. Board approved to table the matter until the next meeting.
· Lease Purchase Agreement/Resolution 14-05 Hancock Bank. Goodman explained that the resolution was passed at the last meeting and the Board is now approving of which bank bid they will go with for purchasing a grader.
· Borrow Pit Subsurface Exploration and Geotechnical Engineering Evaluation. Merchant explained that the county was interested in a piece of property for another dirt pit and presented the Board with a quote of $5,000 for dirt samples to be tested for quality. He said the land was 40 acres of clear-cut land to help with the county's steady dirt shortage, "especially with FEMA work coming up." The vote was approved 4 to 1, with Parish voting "no."
· LAP Sidewalk Bid FPID Bonifay Elementary School, Sandpath Road and State Road 90. County Engineer Cliff Knauer explained that he put these projects out for bid and had a large response at the Pre-bid conference. He also explained that the lowest bidder did not send in an addendum when requested, which caused them to become unqualified to be awarded the bid. Knauer then recommended that the Board approve to go with the next lowest bidders. Board
approved Knauer's recommendation to award the Bonifay Elementary School sidewalks to Marshall Brothers in the amount of $330,683.78; Sandpath Road from Holmes County High School to State Road 10/U.S. 90 to GCUC in the amount of $104,668.10; and State Road 90 from the entrance of HCHS to State Road 79 to Marshall Brothers for $143,575.71.
· District 2 Road Foreman Position. The former District 2 Road Foreman retired and Board approved of hiring Jeremy Benton.
In other business:
· Local resident Westley Adams was present before the Board to discuss the condition of West Pittman Creek, stating that the once abundant swimming area is now "ankle deep." He said he attributes the loss of water to the county "clearing land and all of that washing down into the creek, sanding it in." Commissioner Bobby Sasnett agreed to look into the situation and report back to the Board with any findings.
· Parish informed the public that they are "still firm on the dirt hauling issue." He said some were saying that their drive-way was "messed up and a county right-of-way" and that the county was refusing to bring dirt for the residents to fix it.
"It is my understanding that we will haul dirt and fix a public driveway and a distance on a right-of-way, we bring the dirt, we spread it and then it's done," said Parish. "We do fix the driveway as it pertains to the right-of-way so many feet and spread it and it's done. We do not bring the dirt and drop it off for you to use on your own."
He said for more information to contact the BOCC at 547-1119.
Merchant added that people were wondering why there were bridges being built but no dirt being hauled; he said he wanted everyone to know that all the bridges were built with grants and not a "single dime" was contributed from the county.
· Williams informed the Board that he had a grader down and suggested that instead of renting a grader, asked if he could borrow another district's grader over the weekend, which they agreed to help.
· Merchant said it was time for the Board to move forward with hiring a new Emergency Management Services Director and recognized Hagan for his services as Interim. He requested that the Board consider what process they want to use for reviewing the 19 applicants and bring the recommendations to the next meeting. He added that there were applicants for the Public Works
Director position that were waiting for word from the Board.
· Merchant said that he also has a Road Maintenance Tech position he would like to advertise.
· Volunteer Assistant Fire Chief Cliff Crews came before the Board about a possible program agreement with the County and a local organization responsible for distributing food to local residents after a disaster. Crews explained that he and John Little started the organization known as The Farm Share Program in December. He said he started with his own money traveled to a food bank in Quincy and delivering to Gritney Baptist Church and Winterville Church. He was told by the food bank if he could get three or four more non-profit organizations involved the food bank would deliver the food to him. So far he has Pittman Fire Department, the Town of Esto, Teen Challenge, Graceville Fire Department. He said that almost all of the fire departments are non-profit and are interested in joining. What he is requesting is a resolution that would "enable the fire department, in case of a disaster get in touch with the emergency services operator and FEMA so that everyone knows that the Gritney Fire Department is a distribution food place, centrally located in Holmes County." After much discussion and due to liability issues Crews said that he would not involve the County, but he would continue food distribution in those local areas.
The next meeting of the Holmes County Board of County Commissioners is set for 6 p.m. on July 22.