From the Floridan archives: 1983

Jackson County Floridan, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 1983.

City concedes in suit; referendum still hanging

Marianna city commissioners voted to concede the facts in a voting rights case against the city and City Attorney Herman Laramore was instructed by the board to try and reach a settlement. The question of placing a referendum on the ballot was turned over to circuit court as Laramore was authorized to file for an injunction in determining the petition’s validity. The petition, which called for a referendum to decide the fate of city efforts to buy the utility system, will go to the county elections office for validation. The board’s decision drew applause from many in the crowd, but not everyone was on board.

Most of the crowd was in favor of getting the question before voters as soon as possible. Mitch Menacof demanded a definite date for the referendum. After Laramore explained the city’s situation, with $11 million in bonds having been issued, Menacof still felt the decision over the utility operation should be a people’s choice. Former mayor J.D. Swearingen was curious about public opposition to the utility purchase.

“During the course of all the hearings, where were you?” he asked in reference to meetings that took place when the decision to buy the utility was made years ago.

Marianna Convalescent Center Administrator Neva Jones gave a report on the center’s utility bill and took a swipe at the press for their handling of the issue, alleging the Floridan’s coverage of was slanted against the commission. — Jackson County Floridan, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 1983

Black wins seat in Escambia election

In elections held for the first time under a court-ordered plan to improve minority voting strength, a black man, Willie Junior, won a seat on the previously all-white Escambia County Commission. It was the first time since the 1950s that voters chose county commissioners by districts. Attorneys for plaintiffs argued the at-large elections were unfair to blacks, who make up 20 percent of the people in the county 200 miles west of Tallahassee. — Jackson County Floridan, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 1983

County will pay in double-taxation

County officials acknowledged three areas of double taxation in the City of Marianna last night. County Commissioner Ernie Padgett told the city board the county would be returning more than $4,700 to the city for the 1982-1983 fiscal year, due to double taxation in the forestry department, building inspection department and planning commission for the county. Padgett said that other municipalities would be receiving money back, too, based on their percentage of ad valorem taxes. He also said the double taxation in previous years would be considered past and the county would consider this a new chapter. City Manager Julian Laramore thanked Padegett for the prompt reaction. — Jackson County Floridan, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 1983

Voter turnout high in Malone

In Malone yesterday, 75 percent of eligible voters turned out to reelect Willie J. Smith, Wilmer Lockhart and Ben D. Hall to city council. Hall won his seat over Jackie Ditty by one vote. — Jackson County Floridan, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 1983

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