Jackson County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Clint Pate received the following letter from Governor Ron DeSantis on April 10, 2019:
“Dear Chairman Pate:
It has come to my attention that during a ground pollution cleanup of a site located near the former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, anomalies consistent with possible graves have been discovered. I write to you today to establish a line of communication and provide assurance that my administration is dedicated to collaboratively determining the best course of action.
In late 2017, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) contracted with a company, Gyosyntech, to clean up the polluted site as part of DEFs Petroleum Restoration Program. Given the history of this site, a subcontractor conducted a survey of the land using ground penetrating radar prior to engaging in any cleanup activities.
According to a report developed by Gyosyntech, and received by DEP on March 26,2019, the radar revealed twenty-seven "anomalies" consistent with possible graves. Since the discovery, cleanup efforts have consisted of soil sampling and placing three monitoring wells carefully to avoid the anomalies. The report, which details the circumstances surrounding the discovery, is attached to this letter for your reference.
After reviewing the report, I have directed the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Management Services, the Department of State and the Department of Economic Opportunity to work with Jackson County to develop a path forward. Representatives of these agencies will be reaching out to meet with County officials as the first step to understanding and addressing these preliminary findings.
I look forward to working together and offer my full support and partnership to ensure this issue is handled with the utmost sensitivity and care.”
The burial ground was found inside a thick pine forest on the campus of Florida’s oldest reform school, Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys. When clearing property after Hurricane Michael, 27 anomalies that could possibly be graves found outside Dozier’s Boot Hill Cemetery.
The board and administrator Wilanne Daniels released the following statement concerning the above letter, “We have received the report and are studying the information and findings. We will be working with our State Agency partners to determine the next steps.”