Mowing was to be the primary topic at a special Friday meeting of the Jackson County Commission, but the board discussed several other significant topics as well, taking action on a handful of matters in a meeting that lasted about three hours. Their major decisions are briefly outlined here.

Jackson County Commissioners voted Friday to bring mowing in-house for paved county road rights-of-way. Already facing a manpower shortage of 20 bodies in Road and Bridge, not all are convinced they can get enough employees to make it work. Advertising for those jobs is to begin immediately. The board has already started talks with SunSouth for the lease or lease/purchase of potentially eight tractor/ mower sets for the project.

Meanwhile, the board voted to hire K&W Mowing on an emergency basis to mow a 15-foot swath along targeted rights of way immediately. The company will do that work for $75,000, using at least two tractor/mower sets and two full time operators, and on a seven-day-a-week schedule to get the assigned work done.

The county is hoping that emergency hire will help make a big difference: Adequate mowing has been a troublesome issue for some time, and it was made worse after Hurricane Michael tossed cables and other storm debris into the mix. The county earlier this week had terminated its existing contract for the service.

In other news from Friday’s special meeting of the board:

Commissioners voted to allow staff to seek requests for proposals on the potential construction of a county wastewater treatment facility to treat effluent that is now being sent to the Marianna and Cottondale wastewater plants for treatment.

In other action, Commissioners voted to allow staff to participate in conversations with Chipola College about the potential for establishing a new Chipola fire training center at some location on the Endeavor property. Commissioners mentioned one possibly viable spot on the land that is south of Interstate 10.

The board also authorized staff to apply for a disaster grant funding through a program that includes a $25 million pocket of money that can be applied for through a competitive process. It is focused on helping jurisdictions replace revenue lost as the result of a disaster, in this case, Hurricane Michael. The board also authorized staff to submit a second request for infrastructure development funds related to the Endeavor property.

Commissioners also voted to seek proposals from entities that wish to provide a no-kill animal shelter and attendant services on a spot at Endeavor. Partners for Pets has asked for a place there and board members had agreed to work out an arrangement, but board members revisited the notion after being advised by board attorney Michelle Jordan that such space should be offered through a formal process in case there were others who were interested. She’s also cautioned the board against engaging with any entity on such a venture until property surveys and long term policies for such arrangements could be set for the Endeavor property overall, but board members voted to go ahead with the process. They also ordered a survey of the involved property and specified that the party submitting the winning proposal would be required to pay for that survey. The county also made it a condition that the winning party negotiates with the county for the potential of taking over the management of animals that are brought into county custody through its animal control program. The county is hoping that could save some of the money it spends in getting those captured animals to a facility in Chipley at a cost of roughly $40,000 a year.

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