Northwest Fla., Panhandle Business Briefs - August 2010
Round-up of business news
» Lake City-based First Federal Bank acquired Bank of Bonifay following its closure by state regulators. The bank, founded in 1906, was Florida's oldest state-chartered bank. Bank of Bonifay branches at Destin and DeFuniak Springs were closed; the Bonifay, Chipley and Marianna branches remain open.
» The Florida Legislature approved $8.5 million to create a Florida A&M University pharmacy school in downtown Crestview. Some $7 million is earmarked for renovation of the site, the city-donated 1930s-era Alatex building, once a sewing factory. FAMU expects to enroll the first class of 40 students in fall 2011.
» A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta reversed the conviction of former state Senate president and Escambia County Commissioner W.D. Childers. Childers, 76, was released from prison in June 2009 after serving most of a 3½-year sentence for bribing a fellow commissioner to vote for a county land purchase. The panel ruled the trial judge failed to consider evidence that a chief witness's testimony may not have been valid.
PORT ST. JOE
» St. Joe Co. has given seven property owners on North Bay Street enough money to purchase homes comparable to ones they formerly occupied, settling a nearly 6-year-old lawsuit. Owners claimed the previous homes were sinking into the ground and falling apart because of inadequate site fill, consisting of waste from the company's former nearby paper mill.
» New technology company CICEFT has received a $5-million federal contract to produce superconducting cable for a seven-nation research and development project aiming to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion power. CICEFT, which stands for Cable-in-Conduit Engineering, Fabrication & Test, was founded by National High-Magnetic Field Laboratory engineer Tom Painter.
» Florida State University has opened two side-by-side buildings on Commonwealth Boulevard, giving it a northwest campus, its third in the area. The FSU Research Foundation Entrepreneurial Building, which houses companies that originate with research at FSU, already has three confirmed tenants; the FSU Research Complex is the new headquarters for the Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis.
» The Secret Service is investigating possible criminal activity related to $500,000 in missing funds at Innovation Park, a university-related research and development park with an annual budget of $1.1 million. Former office manager and bookkeeper Shanna Lewis was fired and is under investigation. In a subsequent management shakeup, Executive Director Linda Nicholsen is retiring in September; the contract of longtime park board attorney Elliott Messer was canceled.
» Florida A&M University recently received patents for a drug that can assist in the treatment of triple negative breast cancer; a device that can detect radioactive materials in luggage; and new drugs for treating mental illness, especially schizophrenia.
» The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge by six Walton County homeowners to Florida beach-widening projects. Homeowners had sued the state, saying the practice added a public section of beach between their homes and the shoreline and amounted to seizing of private property. The court ruled that since the state owns submerged land, it has the right to add sand.
» The state Department of Community Affairs has nixed the Knight Sector Plan, an effort by the Knight Trust to seek one-time development approval for its 55,000-acre tract, rather than piecemeal. Roughly 7,500 acres are in northern Bay County; the rest are in Washington. A DCA spokeswoman questioned Washington County's ability to manage the plan because of the size of the county's budget and staff. In the background: The two counties' dispute over water resources.