Full moon climb Saturday at lighthouse

The first Full Moon Climb of the new year will be held at the Cape St. George Lighthouse on St. George Island on Saturday, Jan. 26. The Sunset/Full Moon Climb will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and will include light hors d'oeuvres and a sparkling cider toast to the full moon. Cost is $15 for the general public and $10 for members of the St. George Lighthouse Association.

The sun will set at 6:12 p.m. and the moon will rise at 6:03 p.m.

After sunset, people are invited to climb to the top of the lighthouse for a breathtaking view of the full moon, as space and time permit. Cost is $10 for the general public and $5 for SGLA members.

The Cape St. George Light is located in St. George Lighthouse Park at the center of St. George Island, where Island Drive (the road off the bridge) ends at Gulf Beach Drive. Parking is available in lots at either side of the park.

Because space is limited, reservations are recommended. For reservations or more information, please contact the Lighthouse Gift Shop at 927-7745.


Homeownership seminar on Tuesday

Calling all future home owners.

The TIGERS program along with other providers in Franklin County will be hosting “Home is where the heart is, a seminar on home ownership, at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at the offices of the REALTOR Association of Franklin & Gulf Counties, 78 Eleventh Street, Apalachicola

Free and open to the public. All are welcomed.

Confirmed guests include Cadence Bank, Centennial Bank, Franklin County Community Development & Land Trust Corp., title company, and the Realtors Association of Franklin and Gulf Counties.

For further information please contact Carol Barfield, at 653-2784 or Gloria Salinard at 653-3322.


Boldt granted exception on Alligator Point

At their Jan. 15 meeting, county commissioners voted unanimously to approve an exception recommended by the advisory Board of Adjustment and allow Bert Boldt to encroach on the Critical Habitat Zone (CHZ).

Boldt may construct a house 12 feet into the front setback and 29 feet into the CHZ on his property at 25 Gulf Shore Boulevard, Alligator Point.

He also received permission to construct a seawall five feet from both side lot lines and seaward of the house.

Boldt lost his last home during Hurricane Dennis. The new construction is based on his own design.

 “The most important thing about the project is the address. It’s a part of the road that’s going to be subject to erosion and wash away,” County Planner Alan Pierce said. “Mr. Boldt is trying to do two things. He’s trying to protect his own property and, from a public standpoint, he will be protecting the road. Beyond Mr. Boldt the lots are unbuildable and only a few hundred feet up, the road has washed away.

“Mr. Boldt is going to be serving as an anchor essentially. A point where we hope the erosion will stop. It serves as a public benefit by having somebody out there hoping to stabilize the shoreline,” said Pierce, who also recommended the exceptions be granted.


County contributes to Second Circuit computers

Grant Slayden, trial court administrator, addressed county commissioners at their Jan. 15 meeting seeking approval of a cost-sharing agreement on an integrated computer system between the courts, Franklin County and the other five counties within the Second Judicial Circuit.

The system is aiSmartBench, a product of Mentis Technology Solutions, LLC, and will be compatible with Franklin County's case management system. This is the only existing system that meets the requirements of the circuit.

Under the law, the Franklin County must fund court-related communications services which include computer systems. Under the agreement, Leon County serves as the fiscal agent and the other counties reimburse Leon County upon being invoiced.

Payment will be made from dedicated and available funds from the Court lnnovations account under a county ordinance. The funds come from fees assessed on certain criminal cases for uses approved by the chief judge of the Circuit.

Franklin County's cost for the first year is $12,000. Maintenance fees in the amount of $1,600 are paid annually for the first three years and increase by 5 percent the fourth year.

“We’re not asking for any money, the money is sitting there,” Slayden said. “It’s already in the account. The Court lnnovations account has over $80,000 in it currently, so the funding is available.”

He said the county can opt out of the program at a later date,if it wishes, and no further fees would be assessed.


State will not maintain CR67

On November 6, 2012, Commissioner Cheryl Sanders asked County Planner Alan Pierce to contact the Apalachee Regional Planning Council and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and request they accept maintenance of CR 67.

This month, FDOT District 3 Secretary Tommy Barfield responded via electronic letter that FDOT has determined that CR 67 does not meet the functional classification as a state road.

Sanders said her original request was in response to a request from Liberty County that FDOT assume maintenance of Highway 67 there. Sanders instructed Pierce to find out if FDOT is now maintaining Highway 67 there.


Orion bids on bridge repairs

At their regular Jan. 15 meeting, county commissioners opened bids to remove debris from beneath and make repairs to the St. George Island fishing pier. A section of the pier was destroyed when a barge belonging to Orion Marine Contractors, of Houston, Texas broke its moorings during Tropical Storm Debby.

Orion, who was in the area as a subcontractor for Progress Energy, is denying liability for the damage, calling the storm an “act of God.” The company maintains the barge was properly moored.

Orion Marine Group filed an action in the Federal Northern District Court under the "Shipowner's Limitation of Liability Act," seeking to limit liability for the damage its barge did to the county's fishing pier to $105,000, the value of the vessel that did the damage. That action was placed in abeyance this month.

County Attorney Michael Shuler said attorney Robert Dees, an expert in marine law is now filing suit against Orion in circuit court on behalf of the county.

Orion was one of the four companies to bid this month on the repair work, requesting $884,600 in fees.

Gulf Group, out of Southport, offered the lowest bid, $566,200; HG Harders of Panama City listed charges totaling $953,900 and McCormick Contractors of Lynn Haven bid $832,200.

Commissioners instructed staff and Clay Kennedy of Preble Rish, the county’s engineering consultant, to review the bids and return with a recommendation.


Board OKs resolution for more BP funding

On Jan. 2, county commissioners voted unanimously to accept a joint resolution of disproportionately affected counties that will increase the funding allocation to Franklin County in compensation for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

“Even though Franklin County is not a member of the Gulf consortium, I think it is appropriate that the board support the resolution as it does provide more funds to Franklin County than the previous formula,” said Director of Administrative Services Alan Pierce .

The exact amount of funding provided under the resolution is not clear.


Tobacco fighters to meet Feb. 7

There will be a Tobacco-Free Franklin Partnership Coalition Meeting on Thursday, Feb. 7. The meeting will be held at the Franklin County Health Department, at 139 12th Street, from 5:30 until 6:30 p.m. in the second floor conference room.


Roadside debris and recyclables add up

Between Dec. 12 and 21 the Franklin County Waste Management collected 258 tons of roadside debris.

Eastpoint was by far the greatest contributor, with almost 79 tons followed by Carrabelle with 70 tons. Apalachicola produced 57 tons and St. George Island produced almost 35 tons. Lanark Village contributed over 17 tons.

The county produced more than 14 tons of recyclable materials. Five-and-one-half tons came from Apalachicola, and three tons from Eastpoint. St. George Island produced almost three tons. Carrabelle recycled two-and-one-half tons of material and Lanark Village and Alligator Point each recycled about one-half ton.