Marianna City Manager Jim Dean has appointed William Michael Hall Jr. as the Marianna Fire Department’s (MFR) new Fire Chief. Fire Chief Hall began his new role as the leader of the department on June 22. The appointment follows the departure of Nakeya Lovett, who had served as fire chief since 2012.
Michael Hall was formerly a fire protection specialist with the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office prior to his appointment. Hall began his fire service career in 2011 as a firefighter at Marianna Fire Department. He is a Jackson County native and graduated from Cottondale High School in 2009. Hall attended Chipola College, where he earned an associate degree (2010), firefighter I and II certification, EMT certification, law enforcement certification, and several others. He also attended Florida State Fire College, where he took multiple advanced fire courses. Hall holds state and national certifications as a firefighter, EMT, fire inspector, fire officer, plans examiner, and more. He is also a member of the Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association and Florida Fire Chiefs Association.
Hall will lead 23 members of Marianna Fire Department, which consists of six auxiliary firefighters, six firefighters, five driver/operators, three captains, one fire marshal/training officer, one administrative assistant, and the chief, operating out of two stations.
The “Leave No Trace” ordinance created several years ago was meant to keep the beaches clean, but this summer It’s taken on a new meaning. This year‘s “Leave No Trace” brochure was revealed at Tuesday’s Bay County Tourist Development Council meeting on June 9th. As in year’s past, it includes the beach flag warning system and reminds visitors to remove personal items off the sand at night, but this year’s brochure also has an entire side devoted to COVID-19. It reminds visitors of important things like social distancing and keeping hand sanitizer with them. The brochures will be given to beach goers by beach ambassadors, but there’s also talk of placing them in hotel and motel guest rooms.
The Leave No Trace ordinance in Panama City Beach prohibits tents and personal property on the beach at night and anything left unattended will be removed by authorities. Nightly patrols have started to make sure people are not leaving their items unattended. Panama City Beach mayor Mark Sheldon said items will be thrown away if they are left on the beach. “Leave No Trace is a very important thing on Panama City Beach, it’s the way that we can make sure our beaches get cleaned every night, it’s the way that we can rake the beaches for the next day, we have that ordinance out there, in place to make sure we have the prettiest beaches in northwest Florida,” said Mayor Sheldon. Authorities will be patrolling the beach from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and this is currently in effect and active year-round.
What are you doing tonight? If you have nothing planned this sounds like fun. Free event! Join Agape Ballet & Performing Arts for there annual Dance in the Park! Bring your lawn chairs & blankets and enjoy a beautiful sunset performance by the Agape Ballet dancers. Starts at 7pm at the Citizens Lodge Park in Marianna, located at 4574 Lodge Drive. Scheduled to last till 8:30pm.
Second Harvest of the Big Bend will be back to distribute free food to feed Gulf County families in need on Saturday, June 27, 2020, at 10 am CST. The distribution location is Carter Temple Church at 308 Williamsburg Ave in Wewahitchka. Volunteers are needed beginning at 9:00 am to help feed as many families as possible. Can you help? Volunteers are asked to bring their own face mask and gloves if possible. Sign up to Volunteer at https://www.mobilize.us/gulfcountydems/event/279208/2.
Also on Saturday, June 27th is Melons in the Park. From 7am to 12pm at Madison Street Park in Marianna. First 100 people will recieve a free insulated grocery bag from Farm Credit. Read the flyer below for more information.
It’s Lightning Safety Awareness Week! Dangerous weather is not uncommon this time of year. If thunder roars, go indoors! If you can hear thunder, you’re in the danger zone – lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from rainfall. Play it safe with summer storms.
Thunderstorms are dangerous weather systems that include lightning and can also produce power winds of more than 50 mph, create hail, and can cause flash flooding and tornadoes.Lightning is one of the leading causes of injury and death from weather-related hazards. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms. Although the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are less than one in one million, some factors can put you at greater risk. Lightning most often strikes people who work outside or engage in outdoor recreational activities. Regional and seasonal differences can also affect your risk of being injured by lightning. Last year, in 2019, 20 people in 13 states died from lightning strikes. All of the lightning-strike incidents happened while individuals were outside; six were involved in water activities.
You can protect yourself from severe thunderstorms even if you’re caught outdoors when lightning is close by. Have a lightning safety plan.
If the weather forecast calls for thunderstorms, postpone your trip or activity. Remember: When thunder roars, go indoors. Find a safe, enclosed shelter. Don’t forget the 30-30 rule. After seeing lightning, start counting to 30. If you hear thunder before you reach 30, go indoors. Suspend activities for at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder. If no shelter is available, crouch low, with as little of your body touching the ground as possible. Lightning causes electric currents along the top of the ground that can be deadly up to, and exceeding, 100 feet away. Avoid concrete floors and walls. Lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring. Outside dog houses are not lightning-safe. Dogs that are chained to trees or wire runners can easily fall victim to lightning strikes. Consider bringing your pets inside the home or garage during thunderstorms.
~Never drive or walk through flooded roadways. Turn Around Don’t Drown®. It takes just six inches of fast-moving water to knock an adult down, and one foot of moving water can sweep away most vehicles. ~If indoors, avoid running water or using landline phones. Electricity can travel through plumbing and telephone lines. ~Wait 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder before going back outside after the storm.
Lynn Haven residents and their children now have another place to get some relief from the heat. The splash pads at Kinsaul Park and Cain Griffin Park are now open for the 2020 season, admission is free. They opened Monday at 10:00 a.m.
The city is still following the CDC recommended guidelines, and officials ask that the public continue to follow public heath officials recommendations.
Families were excited to once again have a safe place to take their children and meet with others. Officials said that traffic at the park was light but constant, which gave the visitors plenty of space to have fun.
GymTrix Athletics had a open house/registration day this past weekend. They open for classes on July 6th. They are located at 2976 Pennsylvania Avenue in Marianna. You can call them at: 315-800-3213
They are a Veteran-Owned, dedicated Gymnastics Facility Offering the Following:
Beginner through advanced gymnastics
Special needs gymnastics classes
Competitive gymnastics team program
Gymnastics day camps
Private gymnastics lessons
Private birthday parties
The Florida Panhandle is ripe with local farms you can visit not only for the fresh food but also the agricultural experiences. By supporting local farms, you get to invest in your community AND get fresh, delicious, farm-to-table produce, and other assorted goods. Some local farms even host special agricultural experiences such as pick-your-own or seasonal corn mazes. Get out there and cultivate new experiences that will enrich your life and the world. Take your kids along to teach them lessons about the earth, farming, responsibility – and keep them occupied for a few hours! Take your family, take your friends – everyone can have fun at the following locations (not a complete list):
Blue Acres Berries in Sneads, FL – pick blueberries!
Jackson Farms in Grand Ridge, FL – pick snap peas, watermelon, and tomatoes!
Lee’s Tree Farm in Grand Ridge, FL – pick grapes!
Sweet Season Farms Corn Maze in Milton, FL – annual corn maze!
Whispering Pines Christmas Tree Farm in Milton, FL – pick your own Christmas tree!
Did you know June is Pride Month? Pride Month is a direct effect of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, a six-day long protest against the unfair treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. Things turned violent after a few LGBTQ+ people were arrested on questionable charges, handcuffed, and very publicly forced into police cars on the streets of NYC at the Stonewall Inn, the hub of the NYC Gay Community in the 1960s. The Uprising was started by Marsha P. Johnson, the “Rosa Parks of the LGBTQ+ Movement,” a Black transwoman and revolutionary activist. The first Pride march was held on the one-year anniversary of the Uprising on June 28, 1970 and was organized by the “Mother of Pride,” Brenda Howard. June 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of annual LGBTQ+ Pride traditions. The idea behind Pride is to promote dignity, equal rights, and self-affirmation as well as increase society’s awareness of the issues they face. A month-long celebration focused on uplifting and highlighting the joy of LGBTQ+ lives, Pride Month is also an opportunity to peacefully protest and raise political awareness of current issues facing the community. Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, all celebrations will be held virtually via online streams and meetings to keep queer and transgender people safe at home. However, the community is still using this month to raise awareness about the current Black Lives Matter movement by bolstering those voices that are at the intersection of Black and Queer cultures. David Correa, the interim executive director of NYC Pride said that “Pride has always toed this line between protest and celebration. It might be more so in the protest realm this year—and I think that’s great.”
Want to learn more about Pride Month, Queer culture, or explore the LGBTQ+ community in the Panhandle specifically? Visit the all-inclusive LGBTQ+ organization in the Panhandle: The Center of Bay County. The Center serves as a public face for the community, acting as a firm advocate for mental, social, and physical health as well as offering a welcoming space to those in the community to meet, organize, and relax. Currently, the LGBTQ Center runs the only dedicated all-inclusive lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and straight-allied (LGBTQ+) youth program in the Panhandle. The organization suffered a major hit due to Hurricane Michael when the room they rented at an Episcopal church in Panama City was destroyed. They are currently working to rebuild while still maintaining their community presence functioning as not only a safe space for those of the LGBTQ+ community but also offering social services such as direct assistance with shelf-stable food, furniture, housing assistance and more. Although the Pride Month events for this year were canceled due to COVID-19, there are virtual events being held AND the Center decided to reallocate the Pride celebration funds to a good cause.
On June 20th, the Center and Feeding the Gulf Coast will work together to host a 10,000-pound food distribution at 1608 Baker Court. S.