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Sid Riley

Sid Riley

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“B” (Budget) Day Approaching for Commissioners

At Tuesday's special meeting of the Jackson County Commission it was apparent that the Board is moving into the finalization phase of the 2014-2015 budget for Jackson County. In fact, the first of the required Public Hearings on the budget will be held at 5:00 on Thursday, September 4. This will be an opportunity for taxpayers to question items on the proposed budget, including departmental budgets, pay rates, millage, and other matters related to the document. The final approval is scheduled for September 18.

For years the Commissioners have worked under a tradition of “holding the line” on raising the property tax rate for property owners in the county. This year they began their objective of meeting that tradition under a hardship which was created near mid-year when County Manager Ted Lakey delivered a survey which requested a large raise for all county employees. With the Sheriff's Department included, these raises added approximately $1 million dollars in salary and benefits to the cost of operating the County.

By examining the departmental budgets prepared by the Board, it is obvious that the Commissioners had diligently endeavored to keep departmental costs and capital outlays for new equipment to a minimum. However, even with this effort, local property owners are likely to be facing an increase in property taxes. In most years, including last year, the millage rate has been calculated and approved at a tax rate of 7.9 mils, with a “roll back” to previous levels to an effective millage of 7.3200 mils. This year it appears that no roll back will be included, thus raising property taxes. This will create an increase in tax revenues of $921,873, which will come from property owners pocket books. This is almost the amount of costs increase caused by the wage increases for county employees.

In another, non budget related issue the Board received a summary report from County Manager Lakey regarding a special meeting he attended with the League of Cities and area volunteer Fire Chiefs regarding an inter-local agreement with the county to assist these outlying towns in maintaining the needed level of operational capability to cover their part of the county's population with good fire service.

Discussion related to controlling and approving the use of these funds ensued, with it being agreed that the County Finance Office would provide needed controls. “My desire is that all cities be treated fairly and equally, recognizing that differences in needs do exist,' Chairman Lockey stressed. After discussion, Commissioner Stephens entered a motion to fund this agreement at $50,000. The measure passed. These funds will be spent on needed equipment and supplies for maintaining a suitable ability to service local needs. Capital outlays are not to be included in these purchases.

2014 Elections “Round One” Finished

On Tuesday, August 26, the registered Democrats and Republicans of Jackson County completed the first phase of this year's elections as they decided which member of their clan would represent their party in November. The circuit judge winner was declared outright. In the November election, citizens will decide the winners between these party leaders and assorted candidates who are running as independents.

Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Stephens was pleased that the election process went smoothly all day. Voting totals were - 31.2% turnout of all eligible voters, with 31.9% of the eligible Republican voters taking part, and 34.4 % of the Democrats.

Highlights of the races included:

There were no changes in the Jackson County School Board races, with all incumbents recapturing their seats: Terry Nichols 59.4%, Charlotte Gardner 68.9%, and Chris Johnson 78.2 %.

In the hotly contested race for Circuit Judge, Shalene Grover won the Jackson county vote by a margin of 44.8% over incumbent Jim Fensom, 37.8 8%. However, in the 14th Judicial Circuit totals the final vote was Jim Fensom, 51%, Shalene Grover 31% and Gerald Virga finishing with 18%.

Other results of this primary election in Jackson County were:

Governor and Lt. Governor: Democrats--Charlie Crist 59.2 %; Republicans--Rick Scott (88.9)

Attorney General: Democrats-George Sheldon 66.7

State Representative, Dist 5: Republican Brad Drake 75.5%; Republican Jan Hooks 24.5 percent

Judge, 14th Judicial Circuit, Group 10: (Non-Partisan) Jim Fensom 51.0 %, Shalene Grover 31%, Gerald Virga 18%

County Commission Dist 2: Democrat - Edward Crutchfield 57.2%

County Comm. Dist. 4 Democrat Alvin Roberts 54.7% County Comm. Dist 4 – Republican Eric Hill 72.1%

In November the mid-term elections will be held. The Democratic favorites, the Republican favorites, and the incumbents will all come out with battle gear on, and ready for a final showdown. “Let the Battles Begin!”

A Testimonial for Richard Hand

  • The empty space at the table where Richard always sat during Rotary meetings will be one of the many triggers of fond memories felt by many Jackson County citizens who loved, befriended, and respected this man. All who knew him had deep appreciation for his ability to endure the pain and suffering created by an unfortunate accident many years ago and still remain a productive worker and active civic contributor. His daily demonstration of bravery, strength, and work was held in awe by all of us. Collectively, we mourn his passing last week.
  • Richard Hand was a loving husband to his wife, Betty Joyce, a devoted father to his children, Allison, Kyle, and David. He was a lifelong member and leader of the Marianna Presbyterian Church. His civic services included serving on the Marianna City Commission, republican Club Executive Committee, Masons, Shriners, Council of 25, Elks Club, and 45 years as a Rotarian, and many other activities. He graduated in the Marianna High Class of 1955, attended Marion Military Institute, Virginia Military Institute, and the University of Alabama. He was a certified public accountant. He served two years in the U.S. Army.
  • His active lifestyle and rewarding career were suddenly altered after he suffered severe spinal injuries in a terrible wreck as he entered the city limits of Greenwood while driving the Hand Furniture Company delivery van. His service to family, church, and community continued for many years after this incident, with each day filled with pain and a determination to overcome his hardship.
  • As part of this written tribute of Richard Hand, several of his close friends requested the opportunity to voice their tribute to Richard.
  • Jeff Crawford:
  • Richard Hand and I first met at the beginning of our freshman year at Marianna High School the fall of 1951. I transferred from the small rural school of Cypress. Richard made the change easy because of his genuine friendship. From that time until his death his friendship never wavered; a true friend he was. During the sixty two years of our friendship I don’t recall hearing a negative remark about Richard. What more can you ask of a friend? I will miss him.
  • Lowell Crooms:
  • It’s hard for me to remember a time when I didn’t know Richard Hand, but our close lifetime friendship really began when we both entered the first grade at the grammar school next to the old Marianna High School. Richard was a smart and popular young man all through school. We graduated in the gymnasium just a few yards from where we began school twelve years earlier. We went out separate ways, pursuing our careers and years later both of us made it back to Marianna and reconnected.; same old friendly Richard! Several years later Richard was involved in an auto accident that left him partially disabled. Nevertheless he persevered in his vocation and was involved in civic and church activities despite almost continuous pain. Many will miss his ready smile. Certainly I will, as one of his numerous lifelong friends.
  • Bill Boynington:
  • Dedicated husband, father, grandfather, community member and good friend to many. He returned to Marianna in the 1960s to operate Hand Furniture, located on the east side of the court house. Prior to the accident that altered his life forever he was an avid golfer, playing many courses in the Florida Panhandle, Alabama and south Georgia with his golfing buddies. In spite of the pain that never really left him, he soldiered on through life, leading others to better themselves and expressing a keen sense of humor. That accident forced him to give up the retail furniture business. He returned to the accounting business, having received a degree in that field at his beloved University of Alabama. Encouraged to update his credentials by the principals at Williams, Cox, Weidner and Cox (now Carr Riggs and Ingram), he joined that firm’s Marianna office. He served the firm admirably for many years. He could often be found at the Gazebo Restaurant with his friends, enjoying portions of “Mississippi Mud” or “Chocolate Heaven”; though ice cream was his real passion, particularly “Rocky Mountain Road” by Blue Bell. Until his last day he savored his ice cream. He will be missed.
  • Betty Joyce Hand:
  • As his children and friends gathered over the weekend to remember Richard they chose to focus on the good times. The one thing everyone mentioned was his tremendous sense of humor. He loved a good joke, told many and even played jokes on friends. He shared his love for life and a good time before his accident and afterwards.
  • The second thing frequently mentioned was his love for the game of golf. In the early 1950s Richard was one of the first teens in Marianna to take up the game. He spent many afternoons on the Caverns Golf Course. He received a recent email from a MHS friend who admitted he thought Richard played the strangest game….”to play with sticks hitting a ball around on grass”. Obviously, this friend didn’t play golf, but to those guys Richard was called “Ben” because the only other person they knew who played the game was a guy on TV named Ben Hogan. Richard never played at the level of any professional, but he loved to play the game as long as he could, and continued to watch it on television. He thought it taught many life lessons: You obey the rules, even if no one is watching, you; you conduct yourself in a courteous manner at all time, you dress appropriately, and you have fun. His son David thought it fitting that Richard’s memorial service was on the weekend of the British Open.
  • All of his friends know he loved Alabama football. He met Bear Bryant on several occasions and respected the man as an excellent coach. When he moved to Tallahassee and back to Marianna he became a strong supporter of Florida State, mainly because Betty Joyce insisted he support her alma mater. Eventually he began to have feelings for Auburn as he children attended that rival school. He often said he sent more money to Auburn than he ever sent to Alabama. No matter the winning team, someone in the Hand house was usually happy every weekend in the fall.
  • The lesson he left for his children and grandchildren is to “never give up”, be a friend to all and when you shake someone’s hand, “look them in the eye and give them a firm handshake”.

Sheila Mader Joins TIMES Staff

  • Everyone at the Jackson County TIMES is very happy to welcome Sheila Mader to our staff. We are saddened by the retirement of Clint Cox, who has been our popular outdoorsman and expert Sports Editor since the paper began operations.
  • Few faces are more familiar at area sports events than that of our new Sports Editor, Sheila Mader. She is completely knowledgeable of every type of sport, and is well known by almost every coach and player in the county. Through the years, Sheila has sat on almost every bleacher in the county. We are fortunate to have her join us almost concurrently with the loss of Clint Cox.
  • This is the way Sheila puts it: “I love cooking, watching sports……..especially baseball. I believe sports is an excellent tool for developing well rounded young men and women. I look forward to covering them all over Jackson County and putting the accomplishments of these boys and girls in the TIMES.”
  • Sheila is a good writer, an avid fan, and is the Mom of local baseball star Michael Mader, who recently signed a contract to become a Miami Marlin. As Michel grew up, participated in many sports and played hundreds of games, Mom Mader was always there.
  • Before long, Sheila will have us all rooting for the Marlins. Welcome aboard, Sheila!
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