Storms come and go, especially hurricanes in Florida however Jackson County is blessed with mayors with longevity who waste no time getting things done for their towns. Michael wreaked havoc on our county but Malone Mayor Gene Wright, Marianna Mayor John Roberts and Grand Ridge Mayor Wayne Edenfield had an answer for Michael.
Counties come to the aid of Malone
Mayor Gene Wright is well known throughout the panhandle and most of the state of Florida as one who gets things done. Wright’s reputation of always helping others paid off big time in the aftermath of the storm. Just three days after the storm left Jackson County, Wright, along with the Malone Volunteer Fire Department were at the Marianna Airport. There they were met with the mayor of Freeport Mayor Russ Barley and two planes loaded with supplies including food, hygiene and baby items for the residents of Malone. The planes were courtesy of Florida Volunteer Pilots with the supplies put together by Carolyn Kleinpeter, a former resident of Malone, Jennifer Leatherman, Toby Booth of Vero Beach, and Alton Brock of Bainbridge. A convoy of 14 vehicles arrived moments later loaded with chain saws, generators, gas and tools of every description, along with volunteers to put all of those tools to use.
Wright said offers came in groves from Pensacola city commissioners, Mayor Kurvin Qualls of Jay, Mayor Bob Campbell of DeFuniak Springs, Leon County Commissioner Kirsten Dozier and Tallahassee Commissioner Gil Ziffer have made contact with Wright expressing their interest in helping his town and community.
Crestview, Cottonwood, Morgan, Alabama, Samson, Alabama, Milton, and Century have all sent supplies and well wishes to help out the citizens of Malone.
Wright, who is seldom without a smile or humor of some kind, was almost tearful and at a loss for words, “I can’t tell you what it meant to me when Mayor Barley called and said he was sending not one but two planes to help us out in Malone. My people in Malone are the best anywhere and they deserve so much more than what they have right now. They’re strong and they’re the best though and we will all come through this. It is unbelievable the outpouring of support we have had and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Within minutes the planes were unloaded onto trucks and trailers and headed to Malone with the convoy of trucks heralding equipment and workers. Once they hit Malone, the sound of chain saws filled the air while volunteers at town hall were busy unpacking and filling ‘survivor’ bags for pickup or delivery to those unable to pick up. Wright had volunteers willing and ready to go the extra mile for residents caught in the eye of Hurricane Michael and in immediate need for basic necessities.
Throughout the next two weeks, food was served as available from Town Hall to those who needed a meal, with meals being offer in other areas as available. Supplies were and still are available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Malone Town Hall.
Edenfield went from moving mobile homes to trees
Mayor Wayne Edenfield is no stranger to hard work and that showed big time when crews hit the streets to clean up after Michael departed. Front and center on a bulldozer was Edenfield, clearing paths on roads for citizens to be able to get to fresh water and supplies. Edenfield took no credit, as is the norm for him, working dawn to dusk to get done what needed to be done. He had a host of volunteers working right along side of him and others volunteering in other parts of Grand Ridge. The town’s landscape has changed for sure, but the community has bonded and become stronger in the wake of tragedy. Hats off to the Town of Grand Ridge for their hard work and perseverance in returning their town to civilization.
John Roberts tours with Governor Scott
Governor Rick Scott made a trip to Marianna last week to tour the Marianna Health and Rehabilitation and left feeling proud of the facility. Roberts made the tour of the facility with Scott and it was evident from the smiles that everything he saw met with his approval. Scott made time to stop and visit with the residents of the facility and listened to their praises and any concerns they had. I had the opportunity to meet with Governor Scott while he was there. He praised the efforts of the staff and the facility as a whole, “I found this facility in great shape, the residents were happy and very well taken care of, with the staff extremely helpful and well organized.” When asked about Sunland Center, Scott said, “It is a very special place that has overcome many obstacles, very caring staff there.” Roberts stayed in close contact with all city and county managers and commissioners throughout the storm.