Monday, September 15, 2014

Franklin County Commission approves 2014-15 budget

The Franklin County Commission has given final approval to next year’s budget. 
The 46.9 million dollar budget was approved 4 to 1 this evening with Commissioner Noah Lockley voting against it. 
Commissioner Lockley opposed the budget because the county imposed a 2 percent across the board cut for all of its departments to keep the millage down.
Lockley said he feels the county commission will have to find that money later in the year when the departments find themselves short of money before the budget year ends. 
The budget takes effect October 1st.
The amount that will be paid by local taxpayers is a little over 10.6 million dollars – that’s about 50 thousand dollars more than last year.
But this year’s budget does not count as a tax increase – the tax rate is basically remaining flat.
For the first time in nearly 7 years the taxable value of property in Franklin County actually rose by just over 1 percent.
People with a 150 thousand dollar home and a 50 thousand dollar homestead exemption will see their annual taxes drop by 4 dollars next year.
If you have a 100 thousand dollar home that is homesteaded you’ll save 3 dollars in taxes.

Tues, 9/16/14 SEAHAWK SCOOP

Florida to receive 750 K for statewide habitat conservation plan

The federal government is providing nearly $35 million in grants to 20 states to help protect a number of endangered species including a number of sea turtle species that nest on Florida beaches.
Florida is getting 750 thousand dollars to draw up a statewide habitat conservation plan for Florida Beaches in 35 Coastal Counties Statewide.
Habitat Conservation Plans are agreements between that allow a landowners to undertake otherwise lawful activities on their property, even if they may impact listed species.
In return, the landowner agrees to conservation measures designed to avoid, minimize and mitigate the impact of those actions.
HCPs may also be developed by a county or state to cover certain activities of all landowners within their jurisdiction and may address multiple species.
The grant will help collect data on endangered coastal species, including the activities in the coastal area and their threats to listed species. 
The goal is to allow ongoing beach structure protection measures while limiting and mitigating the adverse effects to federally listed nesting loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley, leatherback, green, and hawksbill sea turtles, five beach mouse subspecies, and shorebirds, including wintering piping plover. 
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will lead the effort.

FWC approves tighter lionfish restrictions

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation has approved more rules designed to stop the spread of lionfish in Florida waters.
Lionfish are a nonnative, invasive species that hurt Florida’s native saltwater fish and wildlife.
On September the 10th the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission acted to prohibit lionfish aquaculture.
Beginning December 1st Florida will Prohibit the harvest and possession of lionfish eggs and larvae for any purpose other than destruction and prohibit the intentional breeding of lionfish in captivity.
A scientific research exception will allow permitted research institutions to breed and cultivate lionfish for the purposes of researching population control.
Florida has taken aggressive action against the spread of lionfish – earlier this summer the FWC approved rules to allow divers to target lionfish while diving with a rebreather, which allows divers to remain in the water for longer periods of time.
Participants in approved tournaments and other organized events are also allowed to spear lionfish in areas where spearfishing is generally not allowed.

Florida also excludes lionfish from commercial and recreational bag limits, allowing people to take as many of the invasive fish as they can.

Franklin County to hold final public budget hearing today

               The Franklin County Commission will hold its final public budget hearing today. 
The 46.9 million dollar budget received preliminary approval at a budget hearing earlier this month – if it gets final approval today it will go into effect on October the 1st.
The portion of the budget that will be paid by local taxpayers is a little over 10.6 million dollars – that’s about 50 thousand dollars more than last year.
But this year’s budget does not count as a tax increase – the tax rate is basically remaining flat.
For the first time in nearly 7 years the taxable value of property in Franklin County actually rose by just over 1 percent.
During the first budget hearing,  county commissioners called it a good budget, because there was no tax increase and the county was able to provide each county employee with a 500 dollar bonus as well as give raises to some workers.
The commission was also able to cover increased costs in retirement contributions and health insurance.

WFWMD Continues to Enhance Monitoring Network

HAVANA - The Northwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board approved a joint funding agreement with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) for stage and discharge monitoring at ten stations today.  This agreement includes the continuation of five existing stations, as well as the initiation of five new sites in support of the District’s development of minimum flows and levels (MFLs) for Wakulla Springs and St. Marks River Rise.

“Data collection plays an essential role in the District’s efforts to protect our water and natural resources,” said Director of Resource Management Guy Gowens. “By expanding and enhancing our monitoring network, we’re ensuring that we develop MFLs and implement other activities based on sound science and the best information available.”

Monitoring stations provide valuable water resource data that the District can use for a variety of purposes, including MFL development, consumptive use regulation, flood warning and other water resource management functions.

The joint funding agreement includes $170,900 in District funding for Fiscal Year 2014-2015.  The USGS is providing matching funds in the amount of $92,500 to cover the total operational cost of the network of $263,400.   The cost of gauge along Spring Creek is being split evenly between the District, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the City of Tallahassee.

“The foundation of all protective environmental rules and policies is science,” said DEP Deputy Secretary of Water Policy and Ecosystem Restoration. “The development of sound science begins with a robust dataset.  I applaud the District’s commitment to gathering this data now so additional environmental protections can be set for these extremely valuable water resources.”
Under the agreement, five new stations will be installed at Fisher Creek, Black Creek, St. Marks River Sink and two sites along Lost Creek to collect data that is vital to the development of effective and protective MFLs.

The agreement also includes continued monitoring at Telogia Creek, Yellow River, Spring Creek and two sites along the Apalachicola River.

The USGS will operate all 10 stations for continuous discharge and stage monitoring. The data will be updated in real time and available on the USGS website.  

The District continues to expand and enhance its data monitoring network to more effectively manage and protect the water resources of Northwest Florida. Data from the District’s network of rainfall, state and other stations is available on the District’s website at

Save Money This Weekend on Energy-Efficient Appliances

Contact: Erin Gillespie
Sept. 15, 2014
Twitter: @FDACSNews

Save Money This Weekend on Energy-Efficient Appliances

Legislation Championed by Commissioner Putnam Will Save Consumers Cash on Purchases and on Future Utility Bills
Tallahassee, FL – Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam wants to remind consumers to save money this weekend by purchasing select energy-efficient appliances and water-saving products.

Thanks to a partnership this year with Sen. Anitere Flores and Rep. Mike Hill, along with other Legislative leaders, an upcoming tax-free holiday will help consumers save money on these purchases, and on their future utility bills. This tax-free holiday runs from Sept. 19-21.

“The sales tax holiday will not only put money back in the pocket of hard-working Floridians, it will also help conserve water and energy for our future generations,” said Commissioner Putnam.

Sales tax will not be collected on the first $1,500 of the price of select ENERGY STAR and WaterSense products during this tax-free weekend. This could include ceiling fans, dishwashers, freezers, refrigerators, light bulbs, clothes washers, bathroom sink faucets, showerheads and more. For those items that cost more than $500, consumers will be limited to one tax-free purchase of each item.

ENERGY STAR products use at least 10 percent less energy, and WaterSense products use at least 20 percent less water. Over the life of these appliances, these efficiencies add up to significant savings on your utility bill.

To see a complete list of the products covered, and to start planning your savings today, go

Franklin County school Board final public budget hearing on Thursday

Carrabelle's Community Redevelopment Agency meeting TOMORROW

Everything you ever wanted to know about oysters on September 15th, 2014

Sacred Heart Medical Group Hosts Community Open House

Port St. Joe, Fla. – Sacred Heart Medical Group is hosting a community open house to welcome family medicine physician, Dr. Rachel Bixler, back home to Port St. Joe.

The open house will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 16, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf located at 3801 E. Highway 98 in Port St. Joe.

Guests will have the opportunity to tour Dr. Bixler’s office, meet the staff, and enjoy complimentary refreshments.  Free health screenings will also be conducted for blood pressure, cholesterol, and body mass index (BMI) scores.

For more information about the community open house, please call Dr. Bixler’s office at 850-229-5661.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Franklin County Humane Society Pet of the Week

SISSY is a wire-hair Terrier/Chihuahua cross.  She is 3 months old and
with her wire hair, whiskers and short little tail, she could not be any
cuter.  She is a very social and happy pup who loves attention and
affection.  She will do well in a home without small children where she can
continue to grow and thrive into a perfectly wonderful small dog.

Volunteers are desperately needed to socialize all of our dogs and cats.
We are always looking for people willing to bring one of our animals into
their home to be fostered for various needs. Anytime you can spare would be
greatly appreciated.

Call Karen at 670-8417 for more details or visit the Franklin County
Humane Society at 244 State Road 65 in Eastpoint.  You may logon to the
website at to see more of our adoptable pets.

Franklin County School Homecoming TShirts

Florida DEP permit activity for Franklin and Gulf Counties




Permitting Application Subscription Service

Subscriber email address:

  Profile Name: Oyster Radio

Permit: Water - ERP Noticed General Permit
Project Name: FLOYD DOCK CO RD 30E
Location Id: 329364
Location Name: FLOYD DOCK - COUNTY RD 30E
County: Gulf
Application Number: 329364-001

For further information, please contact the Northwest District Branch ( Panama City ) permitting office in Panama City at (850) 872-4375
Permit: Water - ERP Noticed General Permit
Location Id: 274736
County: Franklin
Application Number: 274736-002

For further information, please contact the Northwest District Branch ( Panama City ) permitting office in Panama City at (850) 872-4375

FWC Law Enforcement Weekly Report 09/05 - 09/11/2014

Division of Law Enforcement
 FWC logo and law enforcement badge
Weekly Report
September 5 - September 11, 2014

This report represents some events the FWC handled over the past week;
however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement.

Patrol, Protect, Preserve



Officer Allen received information about individuals harvesting oysters at night in closed waters in Apalachicola Bay.  Officer Allen set up surveillance in the area the information was given and observed two boats and occupants actively harvesting oysters.  Officer Allen attempted to stop the vessels and was able to get one stopped.  He found the individuals on board had a full deck of oysters and were harvesting them in closed waters.  Two individuals on board were issued citations for harvesting oysters between sunset and sunrise and harvesting oysters in a closed area.  Also, several boating safety warnings were issued.

Officers conducted oyster size tolerance inspections to coincide with the opening of the winter harvest areas in Apalachicola Bay this week. During the inspections, Officer Allen and Investigator Cook issued four misdemeanor citations for possession of undersized oysters.

While fueling his vessel at a local marina, Officer Cook noticed a vessel operating in the idle speed zone of the Carrabelle River at what appeared to be full speed. After refueling, Officer Cook located the vessel and performed a vessel stop and vessel safety inspection. During the inspection, it became quite clear to Officer Cook that the vessel operator was under the influence of some type of alcoholic beverage. After attempting several field sobriety tasks, the operator of the vessel admitted to consuming alcohol pretty much the entire day and a breath sample of the operator revealed that he was almost twice the legal limit (.159 ml). The vessel operator was cited and jailed for the violation.


Officer H. Rockwell was working in plain clothes near the Shalimar Bridge when he observed a subject land an oversized red drum.  The subject asked Officer H. Rockwell if he would take a photo of himself with his catch and send it to his phone. He then stated, "This one's going in the cooler...we're having redfish tonight."  A short time later, another subject landed an undersized flounder and multiple undersized Spanish mackerel.  Officer H. Rockwell called Officers P. Rockwell and Corbin to assist.  When the subjects began packing up their gear, Officer H. Rockwell announced himself as an FWC officer and conducted a fisheries inspection.  The inspection revealed a second oversized red drum.  Officers P. Rockwell and Corbin arrived on scene and two subjects were issued citations for possession of oversized red drum and undersized flounder.  Warnings were issued for possession of undersized Spanish mackerel.  The two red drum, five Spanish mackerel and flounder were seized as evidence.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Mexico Beach: Art, Wine, Music and More

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eNewsletter · September 2014

Summertime Is Drawing to a Close and Fall Is Picking Up!

Mexico Beach had a great summer season this year. With new families visiting us and our repeat visitors returning for another year, our beach has created a lot of wonderful memories. We want to say a heartfelt “Thank You” to all those who spent some time in Mexico Beach. We hope you keep our family vacationland in mind when planning your next beach vacation.

MBARA Kingfish Tournament

The 18th Annual Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association Kingfish Tournament took place at the end of August. With over 140 boats registered for the event, this year’s tournament was a great success. The top prize went to Team Congo in the Professional Division and Team Bluewater Predator in the Recreational Division for Kingfish. Team Garfin took top prize in the Wahoo Division, and Team Contender Bay walked away with the top prize in the Spanish Mackerel Division. This tournament successfully contributed to raising funds for building more artificial reefs in 2015. Great job, MBARA!

And the Winner Is…

Last month, we were giving away a Mexico Beach beach towel and some sunscreen to use on our white sandy beaches. And the winner was Peggy Miller from Harrisburg, South Dakota.
Congrats, Peggy! This month, to show how proud we are of the 16th Annual Art & Wine Festival and to build up excitement for it, we are giving away four (4) entry tickets and a bottle of wine! To put your name in the hat, send an e-mail to Melissa; please include your contact information. The lucky winner will be announced in the October newsletter.

16th Annual Art & Wine Festival

The Art & Wine Festival is one of Mexico Beach’s longest standing events. From the idea of gathering talented artists and great wines and housing them all under one tent, Peggy Wood’s vision has been enhanced and is going strong. This year, there will be 30 outstanding artists from all over the world showcasing their work on Saturday, October 11 at the Driftwood Inn. There will be a nice selection of wine to enjoy while browsing through two tents of original artworks, most of which will be made available for purchase by the artists themselves. Please know this is not a wine tasting. Doors open at 2 p.m. (CDT). Come out and enjoy this great event with live music, local restaurant cuisine, and silent and live auctions, as well as art and wine! For more information, click here.
Come enjoy the sounds of great music while watching the sunset in Sunset Park. With a new lineup every Thursday in September, the entire family will enjoy this complimentary concert series. Music kicks off at 6 p.m. (CDT) at Sunset Park, located on Highway 98 in Mexico Beach. Don’t forget your blankets, chairs and coolers. For more information, click here.
  • September 18: Bo Spring Band
  • September 25: Konkrete Soul
16th Annual Art & Wine Festival
October 11 
The 16th Annual Mexico Beach Art & Wine Festival will be held at the Driftwood Inn and will feature fine wines, a live auction, musical entertainment and, naturally, great art. We hope you will join us. This event is put on by the Special Events for Mexico Beach to raise funds for the July 4thfireworks show. For more information, click here.
Blast on the Bay Songwriters’ Festival is celebrating its sixth anniversary this year and once again, Florida’s Gulf Coast will play host to a group of talented musicians and songwriters direct from the streets of Nashville. Festival performances will consist of over 30 musicians who collectively have written hundreds of hit songs for the likes of Faith Hill, George Strait, Jason Aldean, Garth Brooks, and many others. This annual event continues to deliver on the promise of an incredible time for anyone who appreciates great music. For more information, click here.

Recipe of the Month

Oyster Casserole
We thank the MBARA for sharing this delicious fish recipe from the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association cookbook.
1 lb. shucked select grade oysters
1 lb. butter, melted
1 lb. saltine crackers
1 pint heavy cream
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Using a rolling pin, crush the crackers to a medium-fine consistency. Layer the ingredients in a 2-quart casserole as follows: ½ inch of crackers, a single layer of oysters, drizzle some of the melted butter over the oysters, and then flood the layer with cream to cover the oysters. (Be sure to feel oysters as you layer them to check for pieces of shell.) Repeat until all of the oysters are used (usually about 5 layers) and end with a layer of crackers on top. Add remaining butter and cream to bring the level to the top of the casserole. Sprinkle with nutmeg and bake at 350° for about 45 minutes or until the top is crusty and brown. Serve and enjoy!

Thoughts for the Month

Wisdom to Live by:
Scratch a dog and you’ll find a permanent job.
Think about this: no one ever says “It’s only a game” when his team is winning.
The nicest thing about the future is that it always starts tomorrow.
Money will buy a fine dog, but only kindness will make him wag his tail.
How come it takes so little time for a child who is afraid of the dark to become a teenager who wants to stay out all night?
No one has more driving ambition than the boy who wants to buy a car.
There are worse things than getting a call from a wrong number at 4 a.m.; it could be the right number.
Money can’t buy happiness, but somehow it’s more comfortable to cry in a Cadillac than a Yugo.
©2014 Mexico Beach Community Development Council | (850) 648-8196 or (888) 723-2546 |
102 Canal Parkway, Mexico Beach, FL 32456

Sacred Heart new air ambulance is faster and it floats

Sacred Heart Health System is flying a new air-ambulance helicopter that will make emergency transport faster and hopefully save more lives.

The new member of the AIRHeart team is a Bell 407.

The 6 million dollar machine arrived on August 26th and is based in Crestview.

The new helicopter is 20 to 30mph faster than the helicopter it replaces and holds more fuel, enabling it to make longer transport flights, if needed.

Currently, AIRHeart travels the region of Northwest Florida, South Alabama and Southwest Georgia.

In addition, the previous helicopter had a very limited patient-weight capacity of 250 lbs., depending on crew weight; the new one can handle patient weight up to 475 lbs., depending on crew weight.

Another advantage of the new helicopter is that it is equipped with floatation devices, allowing it to land on water.

With this new air ambulance, Sacred Heart’s service will be the only one in the area specially equipped and staffed to provide fetal monitoring and neonatal transports, as well as transports of patients requiring cardiac balloon pumps.

John Gorrie inducted into Florida Inventors Hall of Fame

Apalachicola physician and inventor Dr. John Gorrie was one of 6 inventors inducted into the inaugural class of the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame this week.

John Gorrie, who lived from 1803 to 1855, invented the ice-making machine and is considered the father of air conditioning and refrigeration. 

His invention began with an attempt to cure Yellow Fever during an outbreak in Apalachicola in 1841.

He advocated the use of ice to cool sickrooms and reduce fever – at that time ice was shipped by boat from northern lakes until Gorrie’s successful experimentations with the rapid expansion of gases to create the earliest form of refrigeration.

Gorrie was officially inducted into the hall of fame on Wednesday at a ceremony in Tampa - He was nominated for the Hall of Fame by the City of Apalachicola in early June.

Joshua Hodson, Park Manager at the John Gorrie State Park Museum in Apalachicola accepted the induction medallion on behalf of John Gorrie; Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson and City Administrator Betty Webb also attended the induction ceremony.  

Besides being in the inaugural class of the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame, John Gorrie also has a statue in the National Statuary Hall collection located in the United States Capitol Building, and has a museum and Florida state park in Apalachicola in his honor.

The Florida Inventors Hall of Fame is located at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Its mission is to recognize and commend Florida inventors whose achievements have advanced the quality of life for Floridians, the state and the nation.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Big Bend Hospice needs volunteers

Big Bend Hospice is looking for Patient Volunteers.

The group says volunteers can help out in a number of ways.

One of the most important is just sitting with a patient while the caregiver buys groceries, plans final arrangements or simply gets some much needed rest.

If you are interested in volunteering, or getting more information, call the Big Bend Hospice volunteer department at 878-5310, or send an email to Sharon Davidson