Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young held a summit with several local and state agencies to discuss upcoming issues facing the county.
Sheriff Young spoke on the need for juvenile programs in the county such as his proposed youth center.
He said the proposed youth center would enhance the diversion and intervention efforts already in place in the county by helping to provide life skills, recreation, mentoring and educational services.
The proposed 100,000-square-foot youth center is located on Bostic Road just west of Quincy (former North Florida Tomato facility).
The goal of his proposed youth center, he explained, was to reduce juvenile justice delinquency by providing a viable alternative for at-risk youth in the county.
Plans are for the Youth Center to be a partnership between law enforcement, juvenile justice, schools, communities, local governments, the state health system, professional organizations, social services agencies and the business community.
Sheriff Young stated he was asking for appropriations from the State of Florida to implement the programs and secure the building.
There were a number of agencies present at the meeting.
Tom Barfield, regional director for North Florida Department of Transportation, spoke on his dept.’s projects now ongoing in Gadsden County, including the current Quincy By-Pass. In the future, Barfield said, plans include Interstate 10 lighting at the Greensboro and Chattahoochee exits.
Barfield said that projects were now looked at regionally and the Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency, which includes Gadsden County, played a large part in the funding decisions made by DOT.
Christie Daly from the Department of Juvenile Justices said DJJ was focusing on keeping kids from going further into the system with an emphasis now on diversion programs like Civil Citation that allows those first-time-offenders an opportunity to do community service instead of detention in a facility.
Jane Johnson with the Department of Children and Family Services spoke about continued support of Florida State Hospital, Gadsden County’s largest employer.
Gretna City Manager Antonio Jefferson talked about the regional approach that his city and the Town of Greensboro were interested in with the proposed seaport planned for Port St. Joe. The port, Jefferson said, would be an economic factor for the area because of the access to Interstate 10 and the current railroads that cross this area.
Howard McKinnon, Havana town manager, said his community was preparing for economic development by forming a citizens development group to start preparing for growth.
Dorothy Inman-Johnson, Midway city manager, said that city’s issue concerned the need for a central sewer system for the many homes now in the city limits that are on septic tanks.
Chattahoochee City Manager Lee Garner stated that his city was working on opening the Maritime Museum, with plans for eco-tourism along the Apalachicola River.
County Administrator Robert Presnell told the group about the Gadsden County Development Council and its work on developing an economic strategy for the county. Presnell said the county commissioners were serious about economic growth. “We need the jobs,” he said.