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Bonifay police officers recognized for assisting fire victim

Two Bonifay police officers were recognized in Monday night’s Bonifay City Council meeting for going above the call of duty to help a woman safely out of her residence after a kitchen fire erupted Saturday evening.

Bonifay Police Department, Bonifay Fire-Rescue and Holmes County EMS responded to the structure fire on Park Circle. Officers Raymond Grimbly and George Record were the first to arrive on scene. The officers entered the mobile home and located one occupant with limited mobility and helped her to safety. Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire confined to the stove in the kitchen, saving the property.

The meeting brought more good news as Charlie Dykes, founder of Southern Lights Productions, and Dee Cruce, president of non-profit Community Collaborative, Inc., approached the council to introduce their project to renovate an old church building Dykes purchased to house Southern Lights and the Robert H. Newsom Cultural Arts Center.
Dykes and Cruce explained the arts center will be an event venue that houses a visual arts center, performing arts, podcast production, TV studio, classrooms and any artistic medium amateurs and professionals may utilize. The facility is currently under renovation.

Dykes shared the vision and asked the city to be partners in creating a destination arts center in the panhandle. Mayor Travis Cook said the city will support the center, especially in memory of Bobby Newsom, the art teacher who touched so many lives in his time as a teacher and mentor to Holmes County students.

In old business, the council approved a bid for repairs to Hubbard Street quoted by Premier Paving in the amount of $43,875. The council adopted an ordinance to combine the city’s planning and zoning boards into one.

The council approved a change order and request for payment presented by Thomas Brannon of Dewberry Engineering for work on the Eureka Square parking lot. The request for payment was completed prior to the completion of the project due to the closing of the fiscal year.

The council tabled discussion of items related to the city’s liquor ordinance and the labor and employment internal audit due to city attorney Michelle Jordan’s absence from the meeting.

In new business, the council approved an update to changes of approved names and signatures on the city’s People South Bank account to include Mayor Travis Cook, City Clerk Rickey Callahan and Vice Mayor Ryan Martin, the same positions as previous account signers.

The council approved a request to increase the city’s credit card limit with First Federal Bank from $5,000 monthly to $15,000 monthly to accommodate the use of the same credit account by multiple city departments.

Part-time and full-time city employees will receive a Christmas bonus of $500 this year, up from the $300 bonus the council approved last year. The higher amount reflects inflation and the city’s ability to pay from a stronger financial position this year.

Randy Torrance of the Holmes County Ministerial Association approached the council with the request to help alleviate the full financial responsibility of the Panhandle Patriotic Celebration. The annual Fourth of July event that has grown into the premier fireworks celebration in the city has proven to be a larger financial burden than the association can support as a ministry. The council discussed shifting the responsibility to other organizations like Waukesha Way in hosting the event with the understanding that the ministry aspect may be minimized.

In other items, the council passed a motion to hold onto the city’s newer Christmas lights the City of Wewahitchka offered to purchase for $750 after the City of Bonifay learned the lights the city spent $4,000 to purchase would not be usable on new poles Florida Power & Light (FPL) installed within the city that lack the power supply needed to power the lights. Councilwoman Emily McCann said she is working with FPL to hopefully reach a solution that will allow the city to display lighted holiday decorations once again.

The next regular meeting will be held Tuesday, Jan. 9 at 6 p.m.

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