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Port Theatre leads projects to be funded

With the Port Theatre the highest ranked county project among 56 applicants, Gulf County did very well when it comes to securing portions of more than $8 million earmarked by the National Park Service towards preservation projects in Florida impacted by Hurricanes Florence and Michael.

The Port Theatre

Repair of damages to the theatre, which has been shuttered ever since Hurricane Michael, is set to receive $500,000 of the money, which is being awarded through the Division of Historical Resources, Florida’s state historic preservation office.

Of $10.2 million in the fund, about $8.05 is available for subgrants for recovery, repair, and disaster mitigation activities directed at historic properties damaged during Hurricane Michael in Oct. 2018.

Natalie Shoaf, who along with David Warriner worked to write the grant application, said the money “is going to get us going” on moving forward with repairs which she hopes to see completed by early next year.

Within six months after the hurricane ladled several feet of water into the Reid Avenue building, with the help of donations from various foundations within the private sector, a roof was put on to secure the historic theatre against further destruction. “If we didn’t the building would have crumbled,” she said.

The theatre will draw on this National Park Service grant, as well as money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and private entities to move forward on rehabilitating the theatre.

“The architecture and engineering work has been done,” Shoaf said. “We’re waiting on the contractor to get us further details which we will submit to FEMA.

“I’m hoping we’ll be up and running in a year,” she said.

The Pre-Columbian Archeological Research Group, Inc. also is set to receive $500,000 for a project, ranked eighth, entitled “Assessing Significant St. Joe Bay Archaeological Sites Following Hurricane Michael," The not-for-profit research group, which has been excavating in the Huaro Valley of Peru for over 20 years under the direction of its director, Florida State Archaeologist Mary Glowacki PhD, will be working closely with staff at the T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park on the project.

The city of Port St. Joe is set to receive about $328,000 for a project ranked ninth, to repair hurricane damage to the Cape San Blas Lighthouse Complex, and a little more than $497,000 for a project ranked 12th, to restore the Centennial Building.

The University of Florida Is set to receive $83,000 for drawing up a rehabilitation and adaptive use plan for the George Washington High School gymnasium, in a project ranked 10th.