Kenny Wood told Port St. Joe commissioners last week that a maintenance program for the city’s new water plant is moving ahead, with more areas at the plant to be more closely inspected.

Kenny Wood told Port St. Joe commissioners last week that a maintenance program for the city’s new water plant is moving ahead, with more areas at the plant to be more closely inspected.

Wood, hired by the city as a consultant to the water plant maintenance earlier this year in the wake of ongoing problems at the $21 million facility, said training continues to maintenance personnel at the same time some faulty equipment – namely a vertical pump – was being fixed.

Larry McClamma said earlier in the meeting that work at repairs to filtration membranes at the plant, a point of contention with the construction and design contractors, was also near completion, likely by the end of the week.

Wood said he and water plant staff is developing a weekly inspection protocol to ensure that “minor problems are found before they become major.”

To enhance equipment life, a quarterly lubrication schedule was also being crafted.

He said that working with the staff he is tweaking operating procedures involving equipment, but that design and operational issues at the plant remain.

On the design side, he noted two minor, but potentially major, issues – lights installed 25-30 feet in the air without easy access and fans that are also affixed in spots where existing plant personnel and equipment does not allow for easy change should the fan falter.

“Overall it is a well-designed system,” Wood said. “But there are areas that need to be looked at.”

RESTORE proposal

Commissioners again heard of a resolution, championed by the city of Apalachicola, that would urge for more input from municipalities in the spending of BP fine money that comes to counties under the RESTORE Act.

 Commissioners took no formal action, but the brief discussion indicated little interest.

The Florida League of Cities has not taken a position on the resolution, which to date has several area cities signed on with more considering the resolution, and commissioners briefly discussed the state of the county’s RESTORE committee and recent machinations on the federal level.

Specifically, a possible decision by the Department of Justice to assess fines under the Natural Resources Damage Assessment, changing how the fines would be paid and rendering the RESTORE Act all but moot.

Commissioners also wondered whether the counties would ever actually see the tens of millions some local leaders have projected would be coming to Gulf County.

“We should consider whether we want to adopt a resolution as a city or whether that is whistling in the graveyard,” said Mayor Mel Magidson. “With all that money, I think when it is all said and done either the state or federal government will take control of it.”

Cape San Blas Lighthouse

If there is a silver lining to the erosion issue around the Cape San Blas Lighthouse it would be the impact the moving of merchandise from the gift shop to the historic Maddox House.

During a recent inspection by representatives from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which administers the Florida Communities Trust grant program under which the house and property were purchased, concern was raised that the house had been vacant since 2009.

The property, an inspection report said, was in need of overall upkeep, which fits nicely with the move of the Cape San Blas Lighthouse Gift Shop merchandise to the Maddox House.

“The Florida Communities Trust thought we needed to get somebody in to the Maddox House so we are glad to find a suitable tenant,” said city clerk Charlotte Pierce.

The move was necessitated as the U.S. Air Force began the process last week of cutting trees in anticipation of moving the two keepers’ quarters and oil house on the property back approximately 130 feet from the shoreline.

That will allow time for the fundraising campaign currently being sponsored by the St. Joseph Historical Society to raise the funds needed to move the lighthouse.

The Historical Society has thus far raised roughly $80,000 toward the expected $300,000-plus cost to move lighthouse to a bayfront park in Port St. Joe. Those fundraising dollars include those contributed by the Port St. Joe Redevelopment Agency toward planning for that park.