Allan Feifer, the face of the Concerned Citizens of Franklin County ever since its founding 22 years ago, is stepping down, making way for new leadership under the direction of local realtor Mason Bean.
The CCFC, founded in 2001 to encourage “better and more fiscally responsive government in Franklin County,” plans to continue its mission of conducting oversight of expenditures and operations of local government, which has largely focused on county government as well as Weems Memorial Hospital.
A news release announcing Bean as the new president made clear that the CCFC would like to address the school district, Tourist Development Council, even the county airport, as well in the months ahead.
Feifer said that in 2001, as a result of a contentious county budget adoption hearing that he said led to a large increase in the millage rate, a meeting was called by some board members of an non-profit organization, known as the CCFC, that had been dormant for more than a decade.
That original CCFC had been created in the mid-1980s to have a say in the formation of single-member districts which were ordered by a federal judge.
The 2001 CCFC revived the previous organization but with a specific focus on citizen rights and transparency in government. “I was in the bathroom and got appointed president,” said Feifer. “I never asked to be president. I never ran for it.”
Under Feifer’s leadership, which at times drew the ire of county commissioners, the CCFC reviewed the annual budgets of county departments and constitutional officers. He offered insights and suggestions for more responsible regulation and taxation, and at times successfully enlisted the support of county leaders to back specific proposals.
Feifer and other officers also studied. and often challenged. what the CCFC calls “the deteriorating ongoing operational costs reported by the Weems hospital leadership,” a position that often placed him directly at odds with the hospital’s chief backer, County Commissioner Noah Lockley.
Feifer also took a vocal role in making sure the CCFC was “an advocacy group watching over our Franklin County governments to ensure that they are more open, affordable, efficient and responsive to its citizenry.” He would frequently be critical of what he said was an excessive time constraint placed on the public when it came to weighting in on county business.
Feifer will continue in an advisory role on the CCFC board of directors. “I want to be able to focus more on my national platform,” he said.
Unlike Feifer, who resides in Alligator Point and has had a much less visible profile in community organizations and events outside of that easternmost area of the county, Bean, 73, has been an active, public presence on St. George Island for the last 45 years.
Bean, who last year celebrated a golden wedding anniversary with wife Marilyn, attended Florida State University on a baseball scholarship and graduated in 1973 with a bachelor of arts in education.
While he holds an inactive state certified contractor’s license, he has an active Florida real estate license and is working at Century 21 Collins Realty.
His community involvement has included serving as a past member and chairman of the county planning and zoning; a past member and president of the Florida Seafood Festival; and four three-terms on the St. George Plantation Architectural Review Committee.
He is president of the SGI Charity Chili Cook-Off and Auction and remains an active member and past fire chief of the St. George Island volunteer fire department.
Bean has also been an active member and past president of Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce, of the St. George Island Civic Club; and of the Realtor Association of Gulf and Franklin Counties.
“The CCFC intends to hold public officials accountable for their actions in the administration of their duties and in meeting their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers,” said Bean.
A certified public accountant has joined the CCFC board of directors and his fiscal experience will be initially focused on the Weems hospital financial reports. “It is hoped that such expertise will be welcomed by commissioners and staff in order to better plan and oversee the careful future spending of taxpayer and county monies to assure the best countrywide healthcare,” said Bean.
The CCFC continuously seeks new membership and is currently inviting volunteers to help board members expand oversight of operations within the county. Those interested in CCFC membership and/or becoming a citizen volunteer are encouraged to contact President Bean or Secretary Gail Riegelmayer at 850-653-5571, or visit the link to the CCFC website at www.abetterfranklin.com. The Facebook page for Concerned Citizens of Franklin County is also open for perusal.