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Shelia Mader

Shelia Mader

Sports Editor

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Groundbreaking for K-8 school a huge success

The weather was perfect and the attendance was better than anyone could have imagined Thursday afternoon at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new K-8 school.  The school is a dream fulfilled by countless hours of work by so many over the last four years.  

Present at the ceremony were constitutional officers, teachers, staff from schools throughout Jackson County, businessmen, citizens throughout the county, school board members past and present, Superintendent of Schools Larry Moore and past Superintendent of Schools Steve Benton.  

The dream began and faltered for lacking of funding until 2016 when the Florida legislature approved the funding and the plans were ready to be executed.  

The shovels were in place and everyone played a part in the ceremonial first dig of the dirt.  

For former Superintendent of Schools, Steve Benton, this was a dream he had spent countless hours working towards bringing the dream to fruition.  He outlined for the TIMES the road to getting to the groundbreaking last Thursday afternoon, “The groundbreaking event recently held for the new K-8 school was indeed a joyous event. It has been a long journey to reach this stage of progress in the pursuit of better facilities in which to educate our children.”

Benton continued, “I’m often asked why and how I initiated the building of a K-8 school in Marianna.   Well, here’s the explanation of how the K-8 school first came to my mind.     Shortly after taking office as school superintendent in 2012, I was informed that the walls of a classroom at MMS had slipped off the foundation and it was going to cost ten thousand dollars to repair. I asked if the district had inquired about special facilities monies from the state. The answer I received was, ‘No, it wouldn’t do any good because the state would not give us the money.’ I then questioned why it was believed that the state wouldn’t give us funds, and I was told that we needed three new schools (Golson, Riverside and MMS) and the state would not build three schools. My reply was that we would ask for one K-8 school, not three schools. The response was, ‘What is a K-8?’  I explained, ‘We will put all three schools together.’”

Benton said once it became clear that the dream could become a reality, he began looking for a location. “With the possibility of the new school in mind, I noticed the Tipton 80-acre farm on the Greenwood highway was for sale. It appeared to be the perfect site for the new K-8 school since it is very close to the new M.H.S. and would save the district significant money in bus transportation. I contacted the realtor to get the price of the land and then talked to Mrs. Kathy Sneads, district finance director, about finding monies to purchase the property, which she did.  Next, I emailed the board and Frank Bondurant, board attorney at the time, about the possibility of pursuing a new K-8 school and about purchasing the 80 acres. Mr. Bondurant immediately called me and asked about my intentions. He then informed me that he could acquire the 92 acres across from the Tipton farm from the city at no cost to the school board.”

Benton said, “Time passed on and the board was not quite sold on the idea until we came up with the cost savings analysis. At this time, Dr. Terry Nichols immediately became a strong supporter and convinced the board that this was a great opportunity.”

Benton said the process was an ordeal in itself with having to go through a lot of red tape, “In order to apply for special facilities from the state you must have a site and building plans. The board agreed to commit the necessary $850,000 to start the funding process. The Department of Education made a site visit of the three schools to be replaced and quickly deemed Jackson County as a critical needs district.”  

With that bad news meaning good news for our county education system, Benton said, “We presented our project to the state department and we were placed in ranking order to be considered for special needs monies from the state legislature. It has been a long five-year process, but the Florida legislature finally accepted our project and the funding is now in place. Jackson County was provided nineteen million dollars this past spring in special facilities funding and will be provided an additional nineteen million dollars each year for the next two years. The total project is fifty-seven million with the state providing forty-nine million and Jackson County paying back eight million over the next three years from monies provided through the half-cent sales tax.”

Benton closed with saying “I greatly appreciate Mr. Frank Bondurant and Dr. Terry Nichols on the local level.  Without the support of these two individuals my vision of a new K-8 school becoming a reality would not have been possible.  On the state level, I am very appreciative to Senator Don Gaetz, Senator George Gainer and Representative Brad Drake. Additionally, Chuck Roberts with Culpepper Construction was instrumental in lobbying the legislature. I am particularly proud of Senator Bill Montford who is also C.E.O. of the Florida Association of School District Superintendents.  Although he is not a Jackson County Senator, he guided me through the process and used his influence in the Florida legislature to help acquire the new K-8 school.”

Benton was very happy to be a part of the groundbreaking ceremony, “I am extremely excited to see the K-8 school project becoming a reality.  It’s always been my desire and my goal to see that the students in our district receive the best education possible. Providing our students with one of the safest facilities in the state of Florida is certainly a giant step in the right direction. I am very pleased to have been an integral part of this process and I look forward to seeing our students attending the completed K-8 school.”

Superintendent of Schools Larry Moore was all smiles last Thursday, “I am very appreciative of all the work that has gone into the K-8 project thus far.  I especially want to thank Stuart Wiggins for the work he has done and the support of the members of the School Board.  Our Legislative delegation deserves a lot of credit for their efforts in getting the funding approved.  I would again like to thank the citizens of Jackson County for their investment in our children’s future.  The completion of the new school will provide a much need State of the Art energy efficient facility for our students and teachers to utilize for many years to come.”

Cottondale wins again 42-22 over North Bay Haven

  • Published in Sports

The Cottondale Hornets traveled to Panama City Friday night to take on the North Bay Haven Buccaneers and left the field with a 5-1 record.  They handily defeated the Buccaneers 42-22.

Cottondale jumped out to an early lead, putting up 12 points in the first quarter of play.  The defense was clicking and held the Bucs out of the end zone.  

The Buccaneers rallied in the second quarter, putting up 22 points, to take a 22-20 lead over the Hornets.  That lead went into the locker room, putting a bitter taste in the mouths of the Hornets.  Whatever coach Tyler Addison said at the half, the team took to heart.  

Cottondale allowed NO points in the second half while they put up a touchdown in the third quarter and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to solidify the win.   

Cottondale got one of one completed passes from Amari Banks for 20 yards, and one of three from Cameron Brooks for 17 yards.

Their rushing attack got the job done with Dominique Pittman leading the way with 26 carries for 174 yards and two touchdowns, followed by Cameron Brooks for 147 yards on 20 carries, finding the end zone three times.  Jimmy Price remained consistent, carrying the ball eight times for 61 yards and a touchdown, with Amari Banks picking up one yard on two carries.   Price had two successful conversions with Banks recording one conversion.  

Dalvin Barnes had one reception for 20 yards with Amari Banks reeling in one for 17 yards.  

Austin Livingston led the team in tackles with eight, followed by Will Price with seven.  Amari Banks had six tackles, with Eriq Hendricks and Khalil Shackelford recording five tackles each.  On board with four tackles each were Dalvin Barnes and Jimmy Price, followed by Dominique Pittman with three tackles.  Levi Davis and Xavier Brown each had two tackles.  Cody Shores, Jeff Price, Isaac Brincefield, and Payton Melvin all recorded one tackle each.  Shackelford had one sack for a loss of nine yards. 

Dalvin Barnes had an interception he ran back for 27 yards with Amari Banks recording one interception with a 14-yard return.  Jimmy Price also added an interception to his stats.

Eriq Hendricks recovered a fumble.  Amari Banks got the job done punting, recording 77 yards on two punts.  Cameron Brooks had three kickoff returns for 82 yards with the longest return 42 yards

Marianna Lady Bullpups win a pair against Grand Ridge

  • Published in Sports

The Mariana Middle School Lady Bullpups traveled to Grand Ridge last week to take on the Lady Indians in middle school girls’ basketball action. The Lady Bullpups ‘A’ team picked up the 34-14 win, while the ‘B’ team won 22-19.

In the ‘B’ game, the Lady Bullpups outscored Grand Ridge 8-2 in the first quarter. In the second period of play, it was the Lady Indians outscoring Marianna Middle 4-2, to narrow the Lady Bullpups lead to 10-8 at the half.  

The Lady Bullpups won the third quarter 6-4. But it was the Lady Indians who took the final period 9-6.  It was too little too late for the win.

Taviana Barnes led the Lady Bullpups with 11 points. Alexis McKay checked in with seven points, followed by Von Loris Davis with four points.

Leading the Lady Indians with eight points was Tierra Hall. Ella Sprouse added four points. Contributing two points each were Makayla Scott and Kayla Bynum. China Keys, Alexis Porto, and Makiyah Jackson were on board with one point each. 

In ‘A’ team action, the Lady Bullpups were a force to be reckoned with winning all four quarters. They handed the Lady Indians a 34-13 loss.

In the first period the Lady Bullpups outscored the Lady Indians 10-7. In the second, it was much of the same with Marianna taking the quarter 13-2 over the young Lady Indians. Going in to the locker room it was 23-9 Lady Bullpups. 

The third quarter belonged to the Lady Bullpups winning 7-2. In the final period it was Marianna Middle outscoring Grand Ridge 4-2 to solidify the win.   

Leading the Lady Bullpups in scoring was Angel Curry with 14 points. Bryanna Johnson added 10 points to her stats. Dasia Williams checked in with eight points, followed by Charlotte Franklin with two.

Sister Arnold led the Lady Indians with eight points on the night. Lilly Glover was on board with three points, followed by Majiyah Garrett with two. 

Myles Libert - living proof second opinions make a difference

Kristina Tomblin is the mother of 10-year old Myles Libert.  She and Myles have recently gone through an experience no mother ever wants to experience.  Myles turned 10 on September and thanks to his mom and a great team of doctors he was here to celebrate it.  

In June of this year, Myles underwent surgery to repair what is known as partial anomalous pulmonary venous connection and atrial defect.  Let’s go back a few years and recap what led to his surgery this summer.  

When Myles was five years old, he was having problems that seemed to be getting worse.  Myles was taken to a doctor in Tallahassee and the doctor thought there was a hole in his heart.  It was ruled that it was just a silent heart murmur.  His mother said he has had asthma his entire his life.  As time went on, his asthma worsened and he started having chest pains.  His pediatrician asked for a follow-up with the doctor in Tallahassee.  His mother took him back to see the doctor in Tallahassee.  Tomblin said, “The doctor basically told us there was no need for Myles to come back.  He had retested him and he ruled it out as just a silent heart murmur.”  She said, “But as a mother, my heart didn’t feel right about what he had told me so I requested a second opinion.  I took him to a doctor in Pensacola, Florida for a second opinion.”   Tomblin said when they went to Pensacola they saw Dr. Steiner who did all the evaluations and the final word from the tests that he did, showed he had a hole in the heart and an enlarged heart.  Tomblin said he basically told her that her son had to have open heart surgery, “I was told that around June 15, not sure of the exact date.”  

From that point, Dr. Steiner sent all the results of the tests he did on Myles, the x-rays, cardiograms, everything he did to Gainesville.  A team of doctors in Gainesville looked at the tests and then scheduled Myles for an appointment.  The open-heart surgery lasted five hours and was performed by Dr. Bleiweis as the head surgeon.  Kristina says that it was the longest five hours in her life.  She said last Thursday, “Myles is doing good, he is restricted from any type of activity until he returns to Gainesville October 4.  He returned to Riverside Elementary School September 25 to lots of happy teachers, classmates, and well-wishers.  Tomblin said basically this was something he was born with and his heart just kept getting enlarged as he got older, which greatly affected his asthma.  

His mom says containing a 10-year old to no activities has been somewhat of a challenge.  Myles loves basketball, more so playing it than watching it but for now he has to be content with couch activities.  

We spoke with Myles last Thursday and he is a very well-spoken 10-year old boy.  He wasted no time in letting us know he likes his PE teachers, coaches Johnson (Patti) and Harrell (Linda Lee) and that Mrs. Julie Melton was his favorite teacher, “She teaches math and is really good.”  About his activities Myles says as you would expect of any 10-year old, “I miss basketball because I really like to play it.”  

Myles says he hopes to see Chipola basketball play some basketball this year, and is even more hopeful that by the time the Indians start their season, he will be allowed to participate as a player again and not just a fan.  Chipola athletic director and head baseball coach Jeff Johnson and head basketball coach Bret Campbell have tickets waiting for Myles when he is ready to watch the Indians play some basketball.  

Myles’ mom says she will never hesitate to obtain a second opinion and believes without a shadow of a doubt, the choice to obtain one this time saved her only child’s life.

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