Hard bargaining looms in Garcon bridge deal

Hard bargaining looms in Garcon bridge deal

  Local legislators want to acquire the Garcon Point Bridge, but first they have to sell the deal to fellow lawmakers and then to current private owners of the bonds that funded the bridge’s construction in 1999. The devil will be in the dollars. “Even if it just costs $100, you know some people are […]

Gulf Breeze questions audit petitions

Gulf Breeze questions audit petitions

Unable to fend off a state audit of his city’s operations, Gulf Breeze Mayor Matt Dannheisser is casting doubt on the number of petitioners who requested the review. In a letter to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee dated Dec. 7—obtained by a public records request—Dannheisser questioned a previous assertion by State Sen. Doug Broxson that […]

School district not yet sold on Tiger Point site

School district not yet sold on Tiger Point site

Contrary to public comments by Gulf Breeze Mayor Matt Dannheisser last week, the Santa Rosa School District isn’t in negotiations with the City of Gulf Breeze to buy a portion of its Tiger Point Golf Club. Assistant School Superintendent Joey Harrell told this newspaper last week that the district, while interested in a 47-acre parcel […]

Williamson loses bid to stay on tourism panel

Williamson loses bid to stay on tourism panel

Rob Williamson’s tumultuous tenure as the County Commission’s representative on the Tourist Development Council is almost over, despite his behind-the-scenes politicking to keep the high-profile job. New Commission Chairman Bob Cole said he will nominate District 1 Commissioner Sam Parker to replace Williamson, a move welcomed by some others who volunteer on the seven-member TDC. […]

Sanborn not guilty of Sunshine Law charge

Sanborn not guilty of Sunshine Law charge

Tourist Development Council member Jack Sanborn was found not guilty Friday on charges that he violated Florida’s Sunshine Law by phoning two other panel volunteers to discuss matters that had previously come before the board. Santa Rosa County Judge Jose Giraud ruled after nearly an hour-long hearing that while Sanborn’s calls on his personal cellphone […]

Scope of Gulf Breeze probe could widen

Scope of Gulf Breeze probe could widen

The planned inquiry by the Florida Auditor General’s Office into the City of Gulf Breeze’s finances will take several months and may extend to questions about controversial legal expenditures. Requested recently by State Sen. Doug Broxson, the audit will bring a Tallahassee-based team of accountants and other specialists to set up shop at Gulf Breeze […]

Sunshine Law cloudy for Fairpoint Regional

Sunshine Law cloudy for Fairpoint Regional

While a recent unannounced gathering of some Fairpoint Regional Utility Service directors may appear to have violated Florida’s Sunshine Law, some are questioning their obligation to meet in public. In fact, Holley Navarre Water’s president, Bien May—who is also a Fairpoint director–when asked by a reporter recently whether the Sunshine Law applies to the boards […]

Gulf Breeze faces state audit

Gulf Breeze faces state audit

  Nearly three years after the City of Gulf Breeze started levying water utility surcharges on its customers who lives outside the municipality’s border, the Florida Auditor General’s Office is looking into numerous complaints about those fees. Requested by State Sen. Doug Broxson, the state’s audit will apparently be a top-to-bottom investigation of the city’s […]

Fast start for bridge construction

Fast start for bridge construction

The pounding of huge diesel-powered hammers has echoed through the City of Gulf Breeze since June 11 and resulted in the new Pensacola Bay Bridge being on track—or even a bit ahead of schedule — for  its planned completion in summer 2020. In fact, after only the first 120 days of work on the three-mile […]

Water board under Sunshine Law scrutiny

Water board under Sunshine Law scrutiny

Allegations that three of Fairpoint Regional Utility’s seven board members violated Florida’s Sunshine Law by meeting in private last month are under review by the State Attorney’s Office in Pensacola. “The only thing I can say at this time is I can confirm that we have received a copy of the complaint regarding the Sunshine […]

Sunshine Law complaint may go to trial

Sunshine Law complaint may go to trial

Jack Sanborn wants some light shed on allegations that he violated Florida’s Sunshine Law last June by speaking to another volunteer member of the Tourist Development Council. “I’d like to face my accuser and hear exactly what I said that supposedly violated the law,” Sanborn told the Navarre Press this week after State Attorney Bill […]

Suspicions rile water board

Suspicions rile water board

The rebellion among Holley Navarre Water System board members against proposed debt restructuring by the collective that supplies their water focuses on concerns that the motive behind the deal is actually to enrich the City of Gulf Breeze. “It’s a money grab,” said Brian Kelly, an HNWS director and finance committee chairman in an email […]

Gulf Breeze makeover needs investors

Gulf Breeze makeover needs investors

The City of Gulf Breeze’s recent $30 million request for BP oil spill funds is part of a push to solve its identity crisis. The beachy hamlet of about 6,000 souls “currently lacks a ‘Town Center,’” according to the makeover proposal submitted by City Manager Samantha Abell. Creating a new civic and commercial core would […]

Water board faces outside political pressure

Water board faces outside political pressure

Do it our way. That’s the message from City of Gulf Breeze officials to the Holley Navarre Water System board about a controversial proposal to refinance $9.8 million in debt held by the collective from which the utility buys most of its water. A majority of HNWS directors recently rebuffed the inperson pitch by Fairpoint […]

Gulf Breeze land fight isolates mayor

Gulf Breeze land fight isolates mayor

  Amid the usual proclamations that honor Eagle Scouts and recognize the good deeds of other youth, the mood at Gulf Breeze City Council meetings has lately turned testy at times. Earlier this month Mayor Matt Dannheisser even asked for police to be summoned when a resident overstayed his welcome during a period designated as […]

Winds of change buffet water board

Winds of change buffet water board

The fractious fraternity that makes up the seven-member board of Holley Navarre Water System is becoming more strident with almost every monthly meeting and the delicate balance of voting power may be in for a shake-up. That’s partly because the utility’s board elections scheduled for January could bring the return of Daryl Lynchard, the board […]

Water utilities to gamble on more debt

Water utilities to gamble on more debt

Failing to set aside funds for emergencies has previously meant a financing scramble for the utility collective that provides water to south Santa Rosa, and now officials think they see a solution: take on about $4 million in long-term debt. Though perhaps unlikely at first glance, the strategy of Holley Navarre Water System and the […]

Sunshine scrutiny of tourist panel lingers

Sunshine scrutiny of tourist panel lingers

Even the most seemingly innocent phone call between two members of a volunteer group such as the Tourist Development Council can cause suspicion and trigger legal questions that last for months. Such a phone call in August from council member Jack Sanborn to panel colleague Kyle Holley apparently prompted a complaint from an undisclosed source […]

Dream of research center languishes

Dream of research center languishes

The planned 26,000-square-foot teaching lab at Gulf Islands National Seashore, announced with great fanfare in 2014, has stalled. “I don’t say it’s dead. It’s still out there,” National Seashore Superintendent Dan Brown said in a recent interview. The envisioned Research and Education Center was to be a joint endeavor of the National Park Service and […]

Legal-fee squabble roils Gulf Breeze

Legal-fee squabble roils Gulf Breeze

If William Shakespeare wrote today about the City of Gulf Breeze’s long-running legal fight in the so-called Catawba Street “Land Grab” case, he might well tweak his famous line in Henry VI thusly: “Let’s pay all the lawyers.” In fact, before anything else gets decided in a 30-year-old case that won’t die, opposing attorneys are […]

Santa Rosa voter rolls shrinking

Santa Rosa voter rolls shrinking

  Although Republican voters hold a 3-1 edge over Democrats in Santa Rosa, they lost some of that lead this year. In the biennial updating that state law requires county Elections Supervisor Tappie Villane to do in every odd-numbered year, her staff has moved 4,874 Republicans to “inactive” status, compared with 2,066 Democrats. The trend […]

More residents pay property taxes on time

More residents pay property taxes on time

In yet another sign of the area’s economic recovery, the number of Santa Rosa property tax delinquencies continues to fall. County records show that the percentage of property taxes collected after the annual March 31 delinquency deadline—when the levy for 2016 was due–fell to 5 percent this year. Read the full article in the Oct. […]

Jubilee land plans faintly rekindled

Jubilee land plans faintly rekindled

The Atlanta developer who last year stopped his partners’ proposed donation to Santa Rosa County of the 2,718-acre property known as Jubilee is still working behind the scenes to create a huge residential community there. Ronald Reeser met with several county officials in July, according to Shawn Ward, Santa Rosa’s interim planning and zoning director, […]

Planners try to steer clear of overlaps

Planners try to steer clear of overlaps

Jay Garner didn’t know when he was awarded a $120,000 contract earlier this month for economic consulting with Santa Rosa that on the same day another company won a separate county contract to plan for the Navarre area’s future. But having learned about Niceville-based Matrix Design Group’s assignment, and its contract for up to $150,000 […]

Downtown Gulf Breeze targeted by developers

Downtown Gulf Breeze targeted by developers

The commercial building boomlet underway in the City of Gulf Breeze is speeding up with plans being revealed for a fourth hotel and a third ice cream shop. No biggie by the standards of larger cities maybe, but the two proposed projects represent welcome growth and a tax base boost in this city of 5,800 […]

Lawyer questions Gulf Breeze legal fees

Lawyer questions Gulf Breeze legal fees

When an attorney starts worrying publicly about the looming legal fees of a case, you know it’s getting expensive. Renee Bookout, a City of Gulf Breeze council member and a lawyer, is pressing for better tracking of the expenses that are piling up in her municipality’s 20-year court fight to gain control of a 50-foot-wide […]

Educators wary of Scouts’ classroom pitches

Educators wary of Scouts’ classroom pitches

At first glance the “Patriotic Societies” bill that’s working its way through the Florida Legislature may seem wrapped in the American flag and no more contentious than Mom or apple pie. But House Bill 95, also known as the “Scouts Access” proposal, would mandate the right of paid Scout leaders—for both boys and girls—to make […]

Courthouse design will need update – and cash

Courthouse design will need update – and cash

Going back to the drawing board can be expensive. Now Santa Rosa officials are wondering if engineering plans for the proposed county courthouse on the newly purchased Avalon Boulevard site will cost anything like the roughly $475,000 already spent on such research for previously proposed locations that’s now at least partly obsolete. Read the full […]

County alerted to ‘extraordinary’ park makeover cost

County alerted to ‘extraordinary’ park makeover cost

Lee Majors, television’s “Six Million Dollar Man,” now has something of a financial kinship with Rob Williamson, the Santa Rosa County commissioner with a $6 million plan. Williamson intends to unveil the seven-figure fiscal details about the proposed overhaul of Navarre Park to his commission colleagues in their Sept. 14 meeting. The District 4 commissioner […]

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