A DUI case against Port St. Joe Commissioner William Thursbay was moved to county court this week as his fellow commissioners adopted a no-talk tact to his absence on the dais.

A DUI case against Port St. Joe Commissioner William Thursbay was moved to county court this week as his fellow commissioners adopted a no-talk tact to his absence on the dais.

Thursbay was due in circuit court Tuesday for a hearing on DUI charges stemming from his early October arrest following a workshop on “no-container” zones.

The prosecutor announced that the case, which also originally included charges of resisting an officer without violence and tampering with evidence, was being moved to county court.

A hearing is scheduled the first week of December.

That hearing will arrive the day after the City Commission’s next meeting, which is now scheduled for the first week of December after commissioners on Tuesday decided to cancel the next meeting the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

Commissioners were also not entertaining comment about Thursbay, about the pending legal case or the jeopardy a conviction of any kind would place on Thurbay’s continuing to serve.

According to the city charter, a commissioner convicted of a crime, making no distinction as to seriousness or charge, must forfeit his or her seat.

“We are aware of the legal situation with Commissioner Thursbay and what the charter says,” said Mayor Bo Patterson prior to opening the public comment period of Tuesday’s meeting.

He added that as with any citizen of the country, Thursbay is innocent until proven guilty.

“The situation will not be discussed at this meeting tonight,” Patterson said, adding that any citizen who wish to discuss the issue could visit City Hall during business hours and speak to Patterson or City Manager Jim Anderson.

When and if the situation becomes a matter for the full commission, as it would under the charter following any conviction, “we will address it then.”

Given Tuesday’s actions and the upcoming court and commission schedules, that would not be before the second meeting of December, provided that meeting is held as scheduled.

“I am very disappointed that Mayor Patterson decided to (infringe) on our free speech rights,” said resident Christy McElroy.

She added that due to the charges against Thursbay, the language of the city charter and Thursbay’s continued absence at meetings, “All the information should be out in the open and part of the public record.”

Thursbay, who was not present Tuesday, has not attended a meeting or workshop since his arrest.

Triumph applications

While the city lent support to a pre-application to Triumph Gulf Coast from the Board of County Commissioners concerning infrastructure at the port, commissioners approved putting in another pre-application provided all the information aligns.

Commissioner David Ashbrook suggested, and his fellow commissioners agreed, filing a pre-application seeking funding to move the Constitution Convention Museum to George Core Park as part of a historic complex.

The state of Florida has offered the museum land and contents to the city before provided that the contents, presentations and displays in the museum, will be displayed at a new location.

Ashbrook said preliminary estimates several years ago put the cost of moving the museum and contents at $600,000.

Jones Homestead sewer

Commissioners approved waiving impact fees for those residents of Jones Homestead who sign up for new sewer connections.

The city received grant funding to expand sewer in the area with the goal, and cap, of 65 customers.

Thus far response has been slow, staff believed due to the city impact fee of $500, already a discount from standard fees, to be paid on top of plumber bills for crushing and sealing an existing septic system and proper hook-up to the city’s system.

Commissioners agreed to waive the fee, only in Jones Homestead and only for the grant-funded sewer hook-ups, but also noted that down the road the cost will be much steeper.

Compared to the roughly $2,000 paid to a plumber to hook onto sewer now, once a septic tank failed, the costs, including full impact fees would likely reach $8,000.

The city will send out another letter to homeowners announcing the change in fees.

Core Park

Ashbrook requested a walking workshop of George Core Park to examine the park’s assets and consider a rental fee schedule.

The workshop will be noon ET Dec. 12.

“We should be getting some revenue out of that park,” Ashbrook said. “I think it is time to put our ducks in a row and see how we want to divide (the assets) up.”

The city currently charges $500 to rent the park

The assets included two keepers’ quarters and an oil shed in addition to the Cape San Blas Lighthouse and Ashbrook noted the improvements to the park undertaken by the Port St. Joe Redevelopment Agency in the past two years.

“The park is a lot more valuable than it was,” Ashbrook said. “We need to walk down and see what we’re working with.”

Centennial locomotive

Commissioner Rex Buzzett said the city should fully examine liability issues with the locomotive that sits outside the Centennial Building, noting that there are rust spots on the engine.

He added that commissioners should consider improvements to the display, including some sort of plaque or placard detailing the history of the locomotive an how it came to sit outside the Centennial Building.