CHIPLEY - Congressman Neal Dunn was the keynote speaker for the Washington County Chamber of Commerce's monthly Third Thursday program. Members heard from the congressman about his work at the Capitol and what it means for the region, particularly as it relates to the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.
As one who joined a handful of other politicians originally opposing the nation's spending bill due to lack of funding commitment towards disaster relief, at the Third Thursday program, Dunn spoke to members about his continued commitment to seeing that hurricane funding made it to the area and was allocated appropriately.
Chamber president Ted Everett showed gratification for the ceaseless efforts Dunn has made at the federal and state level, however, points to the local governmental arms to take advantage of the funding that has resulted from Dunn's, and other representatives' efforts.
"He's been instrumental in the disaster recovery in the legislation that was approved for the hurricane," Everett said.
"There is no pot of money that has Washington County's name on it," he said, listing other counties. "It's all one big pot and the 13 different agencies that will be receiving this money ... It's up to each individual county to put together their own grants for their own needs after the hurricane."
Washington County governmental officials have shown commitment to doing just that, organizing meetings to disseminate information about what funding is available. Their aim is to rebuild the county better than before.
A major proponent of military-related bills and veterans rights, Dunn has determinately requested from U.S. political leaders the commitment to return F-22s and the fight jet training unit back to Tyndall Air Force Base in Bay County. After Hurricane Michael damaged some reportedly 80-percent of the base, the F22s were moved to other bases, and training to Eglin Air Force Base.
In addition to securing funding for farmers and timber producers hit with almost irreparable losses from the storm, under his leadership, $1.7 billion in military funding has been designated to restore and rebuild TAFB.
Dunn pointed to the support he received from President Donald Trump.
"While many in Washington forgot about the Florida Panhandle, President Trump did not. He made a commitment to North Florida – he promised to help us rebuild," Dunn said in a statement after the federal disaster aid bill passed 354-58. "With his ongoing support and this much-needed disaster relief funding, we will continue to rebuild the Panhandle."