Port St. Joe city commissioners last week unanimously approved an ordinance that would prevent the sale of e-cigarettes to those under the age of 18 and prohibited use of the items anywhere that regular cigarettes were prohibited.
Mayor Mel Magidson said that health issues due to e-cigarettes were on the rise and felt that the health issues that stem from their use remained to be seen.
“I think we’re doing a good thing,” said Commissioner Rex Buzzett.
Commissioners were still waiting on payment for the Jetty Park Lease from the St. Joe Company that was due to begin as of March 1.
Commissioner William Thursbay said that he expected the payments to be retroactive to cover March and April. City attorney Russell Scholz said a letter had been sent to the company requesting payment.
Magidson said that members of the Competitive Florida Partnership, an outreach program from the Department of Economic Opportunity that helps communities build and enhance their local economy while staying true to what makes them unique, would visit Port St. Joe on April 23 to identify the major assets of the city which could be used to help further promote the town to tourists.
Commissioners also discussed boat launch fees; currently use of the ramps is free for city residents, but carries of a rate of $25-50 for county residents and visitors.
Magidson said he had spoken with local vendors to see who might be willing to sell them locally and received a positive response from vendors Half Hitch and Bluewater Outriggers.
Final details on fees and usage restrictions would be worked out at a workshop to be held at 5 p.m. on April 29.
“We’re pretty close to coming up with a plan,” said Thursbay. “Going (into the workshop) we’ll have some kinks to work out.”
Commissioners invited merchants and charter captains to the meetings to share their thoughts and reminded those in attendance that the fees go toward maintenance of the boat ramps.
Rev. Joe Atkinson and Matt Scoggins, owner of Five Star Collision, spoke to commissioners regarding the Gulf Coast Hope Center in Port St. Joe.
Atkinson announced that the facility, which provides food and clothing to those in need, was no longer affiliated with the Panama City Rescue Mission and was being operated by local residents.
A food distribution event will be held on May 24, the first day of summer break for area students, to help ensure that kids who receive free or reduced lunches during school don’t go hungry. The event will include food and a free concert.
Scoggins said that it was important to him to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem and reported that in 2013 the Hope Center had fed 92 children in the community and had helped more than 200 families since its inception.
In addition to providing food and clothes to those in need, Scoggins said that he sets aside $1,000 each month from his Five Star profits to help those who have emergencies and need a helping hand.
Magidson thanked Scoggins and Atkinson for their service to the community.
Port of Port St. Joe
Leonard Costin from the Port St. Joe Port Authority took the podium to inform the public that the permitting process for necessary dredging had been turned over to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which may be able to expedite the process.
Costin said that a larger area would be needed for the dredging spoils, a combination of silty clay and organics and identified a 38-acre parcel of land near the port owned by the city as a possible destination. Costin wanted to work out some sort of trade with the city for use of the land to keep costs down.
“It’s in everyone’s best interest to work together,” said Magidson.
May 6 Meeting
Due to a Department of Transportation informational being held at 5:30 p.m. ET on May 6 at the Centennial Building to discuss the Gulf Parkway project, the commission’s regular bi-monthly meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m.