In early May 1977, the Carrabelle Planning and Zoning was pondering livestock while trying to craft an amendment to the city’s zoning ordinance. A fire was burning out of control in Tate’s Hell and it appears a burglar was doing some last-minute Mother’s Day shopping on Commerce Street.


Planner says give me chickens over dogs

Michelle Lodge

Times Staff Writer

“How can you tell a man he can have ten dogs but not ten chickens?” a bemused Bonnie Kerr asked her co-board members during a Carrabelle Planning and Zoning meeting.

The Carrabelle board wound up two months of ironing out the wrinkles in a proposed zoning amendment Monday. The proposed changes will be effective sometime next month. The planners are speculating, pending a public hearing and / or adoption by the city commission.

Monday night they discussed everything from animals to home industry.

Bonnie Kerr told fellow planners she was concerned with an ordinance that prohibits cattle, horses, livestock or poultry within a single-family district.

“An old couple may have a few chickens just to have a little extra food,” she explained. “How can we tell them ‘Hey can’t have them?’”

“Those chickens are grandfathered in. They will be able to keep them,” said Planning Board Chairman James Bockelman. He added that, after the zoning ordinance takes effect, residents can’t increase their number of chickens.

But Bockelman saw another problem with “a multitude of dogs running loose” within the city limits.

“I’d take the chickens over the dogs,” said Planner Percy Mock.

“Give me the chickens over the dogs too,” agreed Bockelman.

This issue is going to be a hot potato,” said Planner Gene Squires.

“People are going to be more concerned with this than the setback line,” added Kerr.

“When we get into this we have to decide what is a kennel,” said Bockelman.

“When you start talking about people’s dogs you are hitting close to home,” warned Mock.

“The way to get around this is to define what constitutes a kennel. In the state statutes there’s a definition. If we added the word kennel to an ordinance dealing with commercial districts, we could refer the statute,” said Bockelman.

“I would think a kennel would be decided by the number of dogs,” Kerr suggested.

“Or by whether you sell or trade them,” added Bockelman.

Still troubled by the question of poultry, Bonnie Kerr reiterated that she didn’t see how there could be a restriction on chickens but not dogs.

“We should tack on poultry, livestock or dogs in excess of five,” was Bockelman’s solution to the problem.

“We are not telling anyone to get rid of dogs but it would take care of future situations,” explained Bockelman.

“As long as we explain to the public we’re not going into their backyards and tell them what to do then that’s all right,” conceded Kerr.


Jewelry store is robbed

Mari D. Buri

Times Staff Writer

Someone broke into Mary’s Jewelry Store on Market Street sometime Monday night and took approximately $5,000 worth of watches, Mary Sizemore, owner of the store, said Tuesday.

She said she discovered the break-in when she opened the store Tuesday morning “They came in the front door and went out the back door, just like we left the door open for them,” she said sarcastically. “We didn’t hold the door but we might as well have.

“The door jam of the front door was broken and a burglar alarm installed in the store didn’t go off,” she said. “They didn’t mess up anything. They were nice and clean and neat; no vandalism,” she said ironically, adding that the burglar did drop a few watches on the way out.

She said a few pieces of inexpensive costume jewelry – two bracelets, a necklace and a pair of earrings were also stolen.


Fire out of control in the forest

Michelle Lodge

Times Staff Writer

“It’s still out of control,” said a spokesman for the US Forest Service concerning a fire that has been burning for two days in the Apalachicola National Forest.

Officials are ruling out foul play but suspect the fire began when lightning struck an old sawdust pile that had been used during logging days. The estimate now is that 6,700 to 7,000 acres have been destroyed, 100 of which is privately owned.

Two questions are unanswered concerning the fire: Who owns the private land and whether the fire has reached Franklin County are unknown.

A spokesman for the US Forest Service said the 100 acres belonged to Buckeye Cellulose Corporation but Buckeye disputed this saying the land belonged to St. Joe Paper Company.

Dennis Varnes of the Florida Division of Forestry told the Times the fire “jumped into Franklin County late Monday” but was out by Monday night. But a spokesman for St. Joe Paper Company said the fire has only burned in Liberty County about one-and-one-half miles from the Franklin County line.

Bris Price of the US Forest Service said they are calling in foresters from Alabama, Arkansas and South Carolina, using state foresters and employees of the Buckeye Cellulose and St. Joe Paper Company and forestry students from Florida State University in Tallahassee.

“We have at least 50 men working day and night and 20 tractor and plow units,” said Price.

Price said the fire is no threat to the small Liberty community of Sumatra, six to eight miles away. The fire is being driven southeastward by winds of eight to ten miles per hour.

“We haven’t been able to assess the damage yet,” said Price. “The fire is in real rough country that’s normally wet, but with the dry weather, the fire has been able to burn real well.”


Tugboat Captain: He has a wealth of stories

Michelle Lodge

Times Staff Writer

If anyone would be qualified to write a book about his life on the water, his world travels and his interest in land, perhaps it would be Herman Gray of Carrabelle.

In Gray’s 65 years, he has worked as tugboat captain, seen exotic parts of the world from his helm and is now interested in his land holdings.

Gray is a retired tugboat captain but, unlike most tug captains, he can work on both fresh and saltwater. He holds three licenses – intracoastal, western rivers and international.

“I can go anywhere in the world,” says Gray proudly. “A lot of people may have a license that says intracoastal waterways from Carrabelle to Pensacola but mine says intracoastal waterways USA.”

And Gray has been all over the world in his travels as a tugboat captain. He’s been to every continent and visited so many countries he can’t remember all he’s visited.

His favorite foreign place is Istanbul, Turkey. “I liked the people in Istanbul. They are more like our people; congenial and friendly. The buildings and scenery are pretty,” said Gray as he reminisced briefly.

“When I’m in a foreign country, I like to ride a day in a taxi and then walk a day to see how the poor people live.

In Beirut, Lebanon there were three Jewish refugee camps I wanted to see, but the taxi drivers wouldn’t take me there so I walked.”

Gray was born and raised in Carrabelle but left because he could never support himself there.

“Carrabelle is a wonderful place if you can make a living, but I could never figure out a way to make a living,” he maintained.

Gray said he had been in and out of Carrabelle but his companies have never worked out.

“Carrabelle’s not a good place for a tug company to be in,” he said.

The retired captain worked on boats that took surveys of the ocean floor looking for oil.

“We used explosives to find oil – Dynamite, 80 tons of it. But now they use an air gun.”

“The explosives would kill fish and we would have another boat with that would pick up the dead ones,” Gray explains.” “The air gun doesn’t seem to bother them.

“Later on my hobby was breaking in young tug boat captains and helping them get their licenses. I pretty near ran a school,” beamed Gray.

In addition to being a tugboat captain, Gray has worked on the Alaskan Highway as a heavy equipment operator.

“In the winter of ’42,” Gray remembers, “I experienced -72 degree weather. The only way to keep warm in that weather is to wear a lot of layers of clothes and not let anything stick out.” I took my wife back there a few years ago because I liked it so much. She sure saw some peaks in that territory,” he chuckled. “We put 11,000 miles on our mobile home during that trip.”

When World War II was accepting recruits Gray volunteered but was rejected because of a frosted lung he contracted in the Arctic. He went overseas as a heavy equipment instructor in England between 1943-46.

Although he’s retired from the tugboat business, he clarifies the fact that he’s not “retired.”

“I just don’t call it retired, I call it slowing down. I got plenty of work to do,” he smiled.

His “non-retired” time is divided between a 46-foot shrimp boat called “Champagne” and a real estate business he and his wife Marie both contribute to.

“We don’t have it real elaborate,” he explained, giving a grand tour of his boat.

“Have you ever seen radar work? Listen to this,” he said turning on his Citizen’s Band (CB) radio. “This gives you the weather in Tallahassee.”

“My wife and I shrimp just for fun—to pass the time away. She culls shrimp for me.”

But the true love of his life seems to be the real estate business. His eyes light up and a smile broadens across his face as he tells about his land dealings.

His wife Marie has been a real estate broker for “a couple of years.’

“But we’ve been buying land for 40 years. When I’d come back from trips, I’d buy land. We’ve got a lot,” he said excitedly.

“I never sit down. There’s always something to do. If I’m not working on the shrimp boat, I’m clearing land and getting it ready to sell.”

But he becomes a little more serious when he talks about land.

“Nature did things right when the world was created. The right people were put in the right climate, the right trees and vegetation were put in the right place and the right animals were placed in the right area. The old monster had a good design when he created the world,” said Gray, “yes he did.”

“If only we knew how to use it properly,” concluded Gray with a little sadness.