With a stroke of the pen, Florida Governor Rick Scott approved the 2014-2015 Florida state fiscal budget on Monday, June 2, paving the way for funding for the new Kate Smith Elementary School and new Washington County Courthouse, both in Chipley.
Although rumors were rife with assurance of funding for these Washington County projects for several months, until the budget received the gubernatorial signature, nothing was cast in stone.
Also on June 2, Scott and his staff met with Bay County and Washington County leaders in a celebration of small business at Ink Trax, a screen printing business in Downtown Panama City.
Over 150 Republican party members, along with government and community leaders, heard from Scott, State Representatives Matt Gaetz, Don Gaetz and Jimmy Patronis, and several business and civic leaders.
In a ‘Real Florida Magazine’ interview, Governor Scott reaffirmed that the creation and preservation of jobs was priority number one in his agenda and acknowledged the need for the Washington County Courthouse.
14th Judicial Circuit Judge Chris Patterson forwarded the link that the budget bill had been signed to Paul Goulding just before the taping session with the Governor, and Goulding was able to discuss the issue with Scott, expressing the appreciation of Washington County.
Scott said in the interview that his family had financial challenges when he was growing up. ‘My parents didn’t have work sometimes and I remember the family car getting repossessed. I want every family in the state to get the jobs’, he said.
‘There’s an invitation in the mail for you to this year’s Possum Festival’, said Goulding in the interview. ‘Hopefully you will be able to attend’.
Scott did not discount the possibility of he or his Lieutenant Governor, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, attending the event. ‘My wife had fun at the (2013) Possum Festival’, he quipped, ‘But she was a little worried about holding that darn possum, though’.
Goulding also interviewed Jimmy Patronis, Matt Gaetz and Don Gaetz, along with District 6 State Representative candidate Thelma Rohan.
Washington County Sheriff Bobby Haddock, interim Clerk of Court Harold Bazzell and Commissioners Todd Abbott and Alan Bush, along with several other Washington County dignitaries, attended the event.
‘This is a wonderful day’, exclaimed County Commissioner Todd Abbott when he heard the news of the budget approval, ‘this is what we have been waiting to hear and we can breathe a little easier in Washington County’.
Washington County Clerk of Court candidate Steve Whittington was not able to attend the event with Governor Scott but was happy to hear the news about the courthouse funding.
‘This will make the clerk’s job a lot easier going forward’, said Whittington via phone interview. ‘The county staff is extremely challenged at this time and a new courthouse facility will ensure a more comfortable workflow in the near future’.
To view these interviews, along with photo galleries and video clips from the event, visit www.RealFloridaMagazine.org.