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Panhandle Pioneer Settlement is overcoming many challenges amid the pandemic

Tucked in the heart of Calhoun County you’ll find the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement where...
Tucked in the heart of Calhoun County you’ll find the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement where visitors experience the spirit of Northwest Florida’s earliest settlers, that spirit is staying alive, despite multiple challenges.
Published: Jan. 28, 2021 at 3:52 PM CST
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BLOUNTSTOWN, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -Tucked in the heart of Calhoun County you’ll find the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement where visitors experience the spirit of Northwest Florida’s earliest settlers, that spirit is staying alive, despite multiple challenges.

“Our goal really is to help the public understand the value of community especially now we are so isolated the value of community, the value of commitment to something and innovation.”

And innovation couldn’t be more important right now. The settlement was just recovering from hurricane Michael when the pandemic started.

“Once again started to have our outdoor events, but we are still canceling indoor events.” Settlement Office Manager Patti Stephens said.

The pandemic limited group activities, and it has hurt membership sales.

While memberships are down right now because of the pandemic, founder Willard Smith says he will do whatever it takes to keep the settlement alive.

“This is very important to our area because we are a thoroughfare from Georgia to the panhandle, so we have to this so people see something they don’t normally get to see,” Settlement Founder Willard Smith said.

“We are the only tourism in Calhoun County, so between being the living history museum, maintaining restoring and the history here, it is also great for learning about American History,” Stephens said.

For now, the settlement has opened its doors to a group of Mennonites who are staying there while helping with hurricane recovery efforts in Calhoun County.

“Another way we can give back to our community by providing a place for them to stay,” Stephens said.

And much like the spirit of early settlers, the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement is determined to stand the test of time, and challenges.

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