After a year of planning, the Jackson County Commission has picked the site for a new county fire/rescue station. It’s located in Bob and Katherine Pforte’s Commercial Park subdivision. Pforte confirmed to the TIMES on Friday that he’s donating the two-acre parcel. Commercial Park has plenty of room in the southwest corner and it will provide fire coverage for a rapidly growing area, the civic leader said.
County commissioners held a somewhat early ceremonial groundbreaking for the fire station Tuesday afternoon. It’s early because commissioners have not yet decided how big the fire station will be or when construction would start. They set up the groundbreaking to take advantage of a visit to Marianna from state Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater), a legislator who was instrumental in the 2016 Legislative appropriation of $600,000 for Jackson County for the purpose of a new fire station. Southern Strategy, the county’s new lobbying firm, also was instrumental in the appropriation.
The general location of Commercial Park, at the intersection of US Hwy 90 East and State Road 71 South, was named as the most needed and best site for an additional county fire/rescue station in a 2013 consultant’s study. The consultants also recommended that the county possibly enact a fire assessment fee from property owners; commissioners rejected any additional fees to property owners but pursued the idea of the fire station, especially in 2015 when Pforte offered to supply the land at no cost to the county.
The county commission has a couple of options in the building of the new fire station, according to plans completed in 2015 by Donofro Architects of Marianna. Fire/Rescue Chief Scott Birge is urging the county to go with the three-bay deluxe version “to handle future growth in the area,” he said. This would cost about $800,000 or more, according to Donofro. The deluxe version could include Fire/Rescue administrative office. A smaller two-bay facility might cost $600,000 or less. Birge also is advocating the county build a west Jackson County station to the same specifications as the Commercial Park facility. The county purchased a site last month near Jacob City for the #2 station that is to replace the current #2 station in Campbellton.
A county commissioner told the TIMES on Monday that the $600,000 from the Legislature, due in July, could be used to build one of the stations alone, or that the county commission could decide to contribute the $600,000 or so it was planning on spending before the grant and build both stations at a total cost of $1.2 million—if not more.
However, after the groundbreaking, interim county administrator Pam Pichard said the county has made a decision to go with the medium level fire station in Commercial Park. It would be constructed for the $600,000 from the Legislature and consist of 5,500 to 6,000 square feet. Administrative offices would not be included; they will remain at the Panhandle Road complex. The new station will utilize one ambulance and one rescue/fire truck, Pichard said. The station to be constructed in west Jackson County would be built with separate funds that have not been yet determined, Pichard explained.
Chipola Quick Care
groundbreaking set for June 22
Jackson Hospital will be holding a groundbreaking ceremony for the new $3 million Chipola Quick Care and Wound Healing Center on Wednesday, June 22 at 10 a.m., Public Relations Director Rosie Smith said Monday. The public is invited to attend, she added. The location is across US Hwy 90 from Hopkins Cars and the State Road 71 intersection. This is almost directly across the street from the Commercial Park subdivision which is the site of the county’s new fire station.
The building permit for the $3 million facility was issued by the county on April 7. Part of the 9,000 square foot building will include a walk-in clinic for the treatment of non-emergency but urgent medical care and the other part will include a state-of-the-art wound healing clinic for the care of chronic wounds. Hyperbaric chambers for the enhanced healing of chronic wounds will be included, according to future clinic Director Margaret Breland. The urgent care will provide patients with a less expensive alternative to the emergency room.
Breland explained in April that a hospital-commissioned study showed that 100,000 people live within a 30-mile radius of Marianna and the potential was there for “in excess of 4,165 wound care” or urgent care patients.
The development of Marianna’s east side, specifically the Commercial Park area that is a few miles east of the city limits, is greatly enhanced by Hwy 90’s four lanes running through it as well as the very busy State Road 71 south intersection and corridor leading to the Wal-Mart Supercenter and Interstate 10. Marianna’s west side also has four lanes on 90 and the Dothan cutoff, State Road 73 North. But where the available west end frontage on 90 can be measured in feet, the east end footage can be measured in miles. Ricky Miller of Rahal-Miller Chevrolet has announced plans to build a brand new Nissan dealership to replace the current facility in west end. After the new Nissan building is constructed across 90 from the Eastside Baptist Church, Miller said he will expand the Chevrolet service area into the old Nissan building.
Indian Springs sewer line project
All the growth on the east side calls for increased water and sewage services. And they are coming as well, both to the Chipola Quick Care center and the Indian Springs subdivision located about a mile east of the Quick Care site.
Jackson County has been selected as the recipient of a $1.4 million to $1.9 million grant from the Northwest Florida Water Management District and Alday-Howell Engineers of Marianna has been given the go ahead to advertise for bids for the construction of almost four miles of sewage lines and lift stations for the first 125 homes in the Indian Springs subdivision. Melvin Engineering of Marianna has applied, on behalf of the county commission, for a $600,000 CDBG grant that would help with sewer, water and natural gas connections to the Chipola Quick Care clinic.
When the “Phase 1” Indian Springs sewer line project is complete in 2018, as plans indicate, the county could be in line for another $2 million for “Phase 2.” Alday-Howell already has prepared the plans and estimates. Phase 2 could make sewer lines available to the remaining 125 or 150 homes in the subdivision. It’s estimated that Indian Springs, which has an 18-hole golf course but no potable water system or sewer lines, contains about 350 homes and about 500 residents. The Water Management District and the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation are making funds available for the protection of the Jackson Blue Spring/Merritt’s Millpond, a First Magnitude Florida Springs designation. The state wants to help as many residents with homes along the Millpond abandon their septic tanks, which the state maintains adds to the nitrate and algae problems in the waters.