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DeSantis arrives bearing $1.3 million in funding
Flanked by city and county officials on the porch of the Grady Market in downtown Apalachicola, Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday afternoon doled out the both workforce and infrastructure dollars that would be flowing into both the city and county during the upcoming fiscal year.
“Usually when I come I don’t come empty handed,” he said, to an enthusiastic crowd gathered on Water Street, in front of Riverfront Park. “Today for Franklin County is kind of like Christmas in April, for Santa Claus coming to town.”
One of the members of Tara Ward’s seventh-grade civics class at the Apalachicola Bay Charter School, who were on hand for the event, offered a witty remark from the crowd.
“DeSantis Claus!” he exclaimed.
Posing with two oversized cardboard checks with both county and city officials, DeSantis outlined the uses of more than $1.3 million in monies for the area approved by the Florida Legislature for the 2022-23 fiscal year, and to be signed into law by the governor.
In addition, after teasing the audience by asking whether he ought to veto them or not, to which he received a resounding no, the governor announced his support for a $4 million line item in this year’s general appropriations act, signed by the legislature, to replenish sand at Dr. Julian Bruce St. George Island State Park.
Apalachicola, to which DeSantis received the key to the city from Mayor Brenda Ash prior to his remarks, will be getting an earmark of $500,000 from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funds funneled through Career Source of Gulf Coast.
These grants are awarded to the state’s workforce development boards to support employment and training services to job seekers and businesses, by offering grants to for on-the-job training opportunities for such areas as carpentry, electrical work, professional painting, plumbing, HVAC, and roofing.
Additionally, funds can be used to assist with earning various credentials and certifications to improve employability.
Another roughly $800,000 will be headed this way through the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which requires a local match of 25 percent. In partnership with the Department of Economic Opportunity, whose secretary Dane Eagle was on hand, the state funds this local match portion.
The city of Apalachicola will be getting $652,000 in this grant money to construct a new vacuum sewage station on Market Street to upgrade the existing wastewater infrastructure and mitigate future sewer overflows. In addition, Franklin County will receive $156,088 to install four permanent generators to provide a source of backup power for future disasters.
DeSantis prefaced his announcement with extended remarks that boasted of the state’s success in keeping taxes down and building a budget surplus. He also did not shy away from extended criticism of both Congress and the Biden administration, which he said had contributed to a flow of immigrants through the southern border who had contributed to an influx of human trafficking as well as illegal drugs.
He said he would be willing to continue to send Florida National Guard units to assist in securing the nation’s southern border with Mexico.
DeSantis also urged the Biden administration to open up drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and to approve the Keystone XL pipeline that carries oil from Canada to U.S. refineries.
He highlights his administration’s support of giving parents a great role in their children’s education by enabling them to review curriculums, stressing that he was for “education, not indoctrination.”
In his introduction of county and city officials, DeSantis joked that Sheriff A.J. Smith was “the best-dressed sheriff in Florida.”
Also on hand wwere U.S. Rep Neal Dunn, State Rep. Jason Shoaf and Jimmy Patronis, the state’s chief financial officer.
Following his remarks, he waded into the crowd to pose for selfies and to sign ballcaps for the ABC School students.
The event was attended by all the county’s constitutional officers, as well as county commissioners Ricky Jones, Jessica Ward and Bert Boldt. Along with Ash, also on hand were Apalachicola city commissioner Donna Duncan, City Manager Travis Wade, and City Attorney Dan Hartman, as well as a host of county and city employees.