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Santa Rosa Commissioners Can Use Personal Devices During Meetings

Santa Rosa Meeting.jpg
Santa Rosa County
Commissioners discuss the county's noise ordinance at the July 13 meeting.

Santa Rosa County commissioners can continue to use personal electronic devices during meetings.

The four-member board – District 2 Commissioner Bob Cole was absent – did not consider a resolution offered by District 5 Commissioner Colten Wright. Wright said he brought up the resolution to get commissioners to focus on county business and not be distracted by personal texts, emails or other communication during meetings which can stretch well into the night. Tuesday’s meeting was more than six hours.

The resolution said in part:

“Members of the Board of County Commissioners, the County Administrator, the County Attorney or other members of County staff that are seated at the dais during a public meeting, which has been scheduled and noticed for the entire Board, shall not utilize private electronic devices during any time that the meetings are in session. Private devices may be utilized during breaks temporary adjournments in the public meeting that have been called by the Chairman. Those individuals may utilize electronic devices during the meetings that are issued to them by the County provided that those devices document and archive any communication that is either sent or received on such devices.”

Cell phones and laptops issued by the county would be allowed.

During a meeting earlier this month, District 3 Commissioner James Calkins used a decibel-meter app on his personal device to prove the county’s new noise ordinance was excessive. He held up the device which he said displayed the noise level at the dais, which exceeded 80 decibels, a violation of the ordinance. Calkins, a fierce critic of the ordinance, again used his personal device Tuesday to show the noise in the boardroom violated the ordinance.

Wright made a motion to adopt the measure but there was no second, killing the resolution.

Also, on Tuesday, Peter Prince Airport in East Milton received some help when Santa Rosa County commissioners OK’d more than $1 million in improvements.

Commissioners unanimously approved awarding $972,717 to Panhandle Grading and Paving for the construction phase of Taxiway "A" at the airport, and $76,590 to Mott MacDonald for the construction administration for Taxiway "A." Both items had also been approved at the July 13 meeting. County officials said a Federal Aviation Administration grant will cover 90% of the cost of the project.

In other action, commissioners agreed to give firefighters with the Jay Volunteer Fire Department help with a new substation. Commissioners on Tuesday agreed to spend $250,000 for the construction of the new building. In other action, commissioners:

· Approved paying $ 257,075 to Baskerville-Donovan for the preliminary site plan, geotechnical exploration, and wetland delineation for the Milton Waste Water Treatment Plant to be paid from American Rescue Plan money.

· Approved $114,149 for additional funding for the District 1 Medical Examiner’s Office to cover the increased workload in the county.

· After a 40-minute debate, Santa Rosa County commissioners on Tuesday approved spending $20,000 for a heavy-duty lawn mower and container for the West Florida Soccer Club. District 1 Commissioner Sam Parker pushed for the mower, which would be operated by club volunteers, who said the club has grown to 1,900 players.

· Approved the construction plans of Woodlands Phase Three, a 246-lot public subdivision that is west of Bell Lane near Sterling Way in District 1; and approved the final plat of Water Leaf, an 18-lot public subdivision on Overdown Drive in the unincorporated area of Gulf Breeze.

· Received a 2021 Election Security Grant in the amount of $124,225 to be spent in the Supervisor of Elections Office.

· Gave approval for Code Enforcement staff to proceed with the abatement process which may lead to accepting bids for demolition on the following abandoned/derelict properties: 2684 Avenida De Sol, Navarre; 6467 Lynnwood Circle, Milton; 3974 Bayview Park Court, Pace; 6465 Renee Circle, Milton; 3331 Country Lane, Milton; 6422 Simpson Drive, Milton; 4391 Curt Lane, Jay; 6456 Stanley Circle, Milton; 5859 Elaine Ave., Milton; and 10249 West Lake Road, Milton. The referenced properties have been sent the required “Notification of Declaration of Nuisance” with information that they may appeal to the county commissioners if they disagree with the determination.

Tom Ninestine is the managing editor at WUWF. He began August 1, 2019. Tom is a native of Geneva, New York, and a 1983 graduate of King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where he studied journalism and political science. During a 29-year career in newspapers he worked for the Finger Lakes Times in his hometown; The Daily Item in Sunbury, Pennsylvania; and the Pensacola News Journal from 1998-2016.