Gov. DeSantis presents panhandle communities with $23 million in funding

Governor Ron DeSantis was at Indian Pass Raw Bar in Port St. Joe on Friday, April 8, to present some panhandle counties and municipalities with $23 million in funding for various projects. Gov. DeSantis also made other presentations for previously awarded funds while on the stop.

Holmes and Washington counties are among those to benefit from those funds.

Holmes County, Ponce de Leon, Bonifay, and Chipley all received checks from the Governor for various projects.

The Town of Ponce de Leon was awarded $1,146,500 for an expansion project at the old Ponce de Leon High School gym. The funding will also pay for preliminary engineering to expand the town’s wastewater infrastructure.

Holmes County received $1,108,000 for drainage mitigation along the 79 Corridor. A portion of that funding will also be used for renovations at the Holmes County Council on Aging facility.

Bonifay received $254,075 to conduct a study to address drainage infrastructure along Highway 79.

The City of Chipley was the recipient of $44,070. The funds will help pay for two lift station generators as part of a grant. Those stations are located at John Teal lift station and the Vo-Tech lift station.

“The $23 million we are awarding today to panhandle communities comes from three sources,” said DeSantis on Friday. “The Rural Infrastructure Fund, Community Development Block Grants, and the Hazard Mitigation Match Program”

Administered by the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), the Rural Infrastructure Fund is used to facilitate the planning, preparation, and financing of infrastructure projects in rural communities. Funded projects encourage job creation, capital investment, and the strengthening and diversification of rural economies. 

The CDBG-CV Small Cities program, also administered by DEO, primarily benefits low- and moderate-income residents. Activities benefit workforce, housing, training, and sustainability, as well as broadband infrastructure and planning.

The Rebuild Florida Hazard Mitigation Grant Match Program funds the local community’s match portion of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) awards, administered by The Florida Division of Emergency Management, for eligible projects to support recovery efforts in communities impacted by Hurricane Michael.

Chipley Mayor Tracy Andrews says the city is always grateful when the Governor looks out for small communities. “It is with a heart of gratitude that we accepted the funds from Governor DeSantis,” said Andrews. “Any amount of funding that we are given is always appreciated. We are always truly thankful.”

Holmes County Commissioner Brandon Newsom says these funds are a boon for the county.

“The funds received from Governor DeSantis today will allow us to work on much needed drainage mitigation,” said Newsom. “I know that we as a county and our municipalities that received funding are truly grateful to our Governor for looking out for our rural community.”

DeSantis spoke of the resiliency of the panhandle communities and the importance of resources for them.

“The best defense is a good offense, and the long-term resilience of the Florida Panhandle is dependent on continuing to provide resources to support the success of these communities,” said DeSantis.

Other awards went to Panama City, Century, Bay County, Marianna, Wakulla County, Cottondale, Fort Walton Beach, Alford, and  Jackson County.