This seemed the perfect marriage.
During the recent session of the Florida Legislature, local officials sought several provisions to the legislation establishing the operations of Triumph Gulf Coast.
The board which would oversee the disbursement of $1.5 billion to eight Northwest Florida counties, local officials argued, should be expanded from five to seven members and those two additional members should come from the least populated of the counties.
And, Gulf County officials lobbied, one of those new board members should come from Gulf, which has been out in front in establishing a framework for receiving and disbursing fine dollars stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Further, the Port of Port St. Joe has long been seen as a regional economic driver and its full development, including dredging of the shipping channel, has long been seen as a potential beneficiary of Triumph Gulf Coast funds.
Jason Shoaf, vice-chairman of the Port St. Joe Port Authority, has for months pressed local economic development officials on the link between port development and Triumph Gulf Coast.
So, it seemed wildly appropriate that Shoaf would be named last week as one of the two new Triumph Gulf Coast board members.
Shoaf, who is also an officer in St. Joe Gas, was appointed by Florida Senate President Joe Negron for a term that ends June 29, 2021.
“I am honored that Senate President Negron has put his confidence in me to represent our area on the Triumph Gulf Coast Board,” Shoaf said. “This is a tremendous opportunity to serve my community and work to ensure that the funds go to projects that will bolster the economies of the eight coastal counties affected by the oil spill.”
In making his selection, Negron noted the importance of tapping Panhandle representation on the board.
“Jason Shoaf is a lifelong resident of the Florida Panhandle with deep roots in Gulf County,” Negron said in a press release. “He has a passion for the community and is committed to seeing the full economic recovery of Northwest Florida.
“His business background and record of service to his community make him an excellent addition to the already prestigious board of directors.”
House Speaker Richard Corcoran appointed Don Gaetz, who has a Florida senator was instrumental in sponsoring and the ultimate approval of legislation establishing Triumph Gulf Coast.
The appointments of Shoaf and Gaetz add to the board which already includes State Rep. Jay Trumbull, chairman Allan Bense, both from Panama City, as well as Stan Connally, Jr., Pam Dana, Stephen Riggs, IV and Bob Bonezzi.
The governor and state’s chief financial officer and attorney general each appointed one member to the board, with the House speaker and Senate president each appointing two members.
The initial settlement payment of $300 million has already been dispersed to Triumph Gulf Coast.