Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Transportation announced last week an extension for the time to complete hurricane cleanup.

The Board of County Commissioners wants to emphasize that the deadline for residents to place storm debris on the roadside for pick-up, March 15, has long passed.

The FDOT has initially set April 15 as the date for contractors to make their last clean-up pass through impacted communities.

Last week, the offices of the governor and FDOT announced that the date for that final pass is now May 1.

By that date all storm debris will be picked up, a press release said, noting that the extension of time will also help mitigate fire risks.

The problem the BOCC is having is residents ignoring the March 15 deadline for placing storm debris on the roadside.

Several commissioners noted that people continue to place storm debris roadside, noting several roads which had been cleaned of debris only to have more appear roadside during ensuing days.

Administrator Michael Hammond said county staff had been monitoring the situation and making tours of the storm impacted areas.

He said the next step would be taking the code enforcement route and beginning to write-up infractions, allowing people to clean any debris on their own.

The key for the county is financial; to date all storm debris clean-up, well in excess of $50 million, has been funded by the FDOT.

Hammond added that the FDOT has informed the county that it will be not be responsible for the removal of vehicle tires from roadsides; that will have to a cost borne by the county.

 

RESTORE, Triumph

Frustrated by the process and length of time to secure RESTORE Act funds, Gulf District Schools are turning to Triumph Gulf Coast and seeking support from the BOCC.

Commissioners unanimously approved submitting a little of support for school district grant applications to grow an AgSciences program and welding program at Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School.

Grant funding was initially sought through the RESTORE Act and the county’s direct allocation with the funding expected in place before the current school year.

It was never approved as the county continued to wrangle over money for a beach restoration project which was to represent the county’s first year direct allocation.

The district has since turned to Triumph, which has already approved grant funding to establish a drone program at the two high schools.

In turn, the county pursued and recently received RESTORE funding to purchase a new building for the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office.

After that money was delayed getting to the county, the BOCC was forced to take out a short-term loan in addition to the financing via the owner of the building.

Hammond announced last week the RESTORE funds had arrived from the U.S. Treasury and the bank note and money owed the building’s owner had been paid off and the building was in county hands.

 

Bears

The county will send as letter to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission requesting a hunting season for black bears be resumed.

At the least, the county would like the FWC to connect the county with a licensed trapper to trap and remove bears.

From Indian Pass to White City, reports of bear sightings and human interactions have been on the increase recently, particularly as more and more habitat is cut away in the county.