NIH Grant for Florida A&M- Northwest- Jan. 2004
Escambia County -- A county Health Care Task Force adopted a report recommending steps to improve healthcare for the 18% of county residents lacking coverage. The plan calls for outpatient treatment programs, an internet site to identify health resources, plus low- or no-premium health plans, the latter supported by an extra half-cent sales tax.
Golf community developer WCI Communities (NYSE-WCI) is making its first Panhandle play with the purchase at auction of bankrupt Lost Key Plantation Golf Club. The 18-hole course sits on 400 largely undeveloped acres at Perdido Key near the Alabama state line. The company will add a permanent clubhouse and, later, condominiums and single-family homes.
TAX BURDENFlorida ranks 43rd among states in per capita state tax burden, the lowest since 1985. The U.S. average for 2000 was $1,921.46.Total Per Capita State TaxationYearRankAmount% of U.S. avg.199640$1,352.4186.5199739$1,414.8786.6199841$1,479.4785.7199939$1,527.8485.8200043$1,552.7980.8Sources: U.S. Department of Commerce; Florida TaxWatchFranklin County -- Sole bidder St. Joe Co. (NYSE-JOE) will pay the state $6.8 million for Timber Island, 49 acres at the mouth of the Carrabelle River as it enters the Gulf of Mexico. The company plans a commercial marina and eventually a low-rise residential community. St. Joe already owns 49,000 acres from Carrabelle to Bald Point.
Grayton -- Walton County commissioners gave the Grayton Grand mixed-use project the go-ahead. Developer Jay Odom's controversial project, turned down by county commissioners last year but approved after a revision, is to include a 75-room hotel, 78 condominiums, a restaurant, conference center and retail space.
Havana -- This small town of some 1,800 residents has launched a second ambitious fund-raiser on the heels of its successful eight-year effort recently culminating in a $1-million library. This time, citizens are planning a $70,000 memorial to military veterans featuring a six-foot bronze statue sculpted by a Utah artist of two soldiers.
Milton -- 84 Lumber Co. has plans to eventually employ 150 at the new 60,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing and retail center it's building in Santa Rosa County Industrial Park. The building supply company, which signed a deal for 20 acres, will create 30 jobs initially.
Northwest Florida -- Gov. Jeb Bush has signed a plan to protect 1,000 square miles of pristine land in the Florida Panhandle for environmental and military purposes. The Northwest Florida Greenway will stretch across 100 miles in six counties, along a flight path used by military aircraft. It's also a migration corridor for black bears and home to rare species, including the bald eagle and red-cockaded woodpecker.
Panama City -- The Department of Environmental Protection supports the relocation of the Panama City airport. Extension of the current runway would harm wetlands, DEP Secretary David Struhs says. Relocation proponents say a longer runway is needed for larger planes. Critics of the plan to build a larger airport on donated St. Joe Co. land say the larger airport isn't needed.
Pensacola -- Trader Jon's, a favorite Navy watering hole and celebrity haunt since its 1953 founding by "Trader" Martin Weissman, has closed, following a three-year effort to keep it going after Weissman died in 2000. The bar's decades-spanning collection of some 10,000 pieces of military memorabilia will go to the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation here.
Tallahassee -- Audubon of Florida has presented a lifetime achievement award to George Willson, St. Joe Co. vice president for conservation lands. Willson helped create aggressive land protection programs during an earlier career with the Nature Conservancy and as a St. Joe employee since 2000 has continued to move wildlife habitat into permanent protection, Audubon says. St. Joe has sold 150,000 acres to state and federal agencies for conservation in the past five years.
The new Gulf Atlantic Financial Group expects to close this quarter on its acquisition of First National Bank in Tarpon Springs for $6 million. Gulf Atlantic founders, including former SunTrust President Monty Weigel, want to create a network of community banks throughout Florida and Georgia.
Walton County -- Grand Dunes, an 18-story condominium rising 14 stories over current zoning limits, has won county construction approval following an eight-year legal battle. Developer Paul Freeman will sell the 89 units at Miramar Beach for $1 million to $3 million each. Florida courts ruled Freeman could build under the previous owner's approval order, which predated current regulations.
NIH GRANT FOR FLORIDA A&M
TALLAHASSEE -- Florida A&M University's pharmacy school has received a second major award this year from the National Institutes of Health. The latest, from the NIH National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, is a $10-million biomedical research endowment to help attract health and science faculty. The earlier NIH grant award was for $14.8 million.
FLORIDA A&M FINANCIAL PROBLEMS
TALLAHASSEE -- Florida A&M University President Fred Gainous has been told to mop up the school's financial mess or else. Longtime financial mismanagement began to surface last year after Gainous took the helm of the 115-year-old campus. In addition to financial aid lapses that have hurt students, accounting records are off by some $1.8 million. The Board of Governors will discuss the issue later this month.