Gov. DeSantis disburses millions in grants in North Florida

$3.1M granted to vocational training initiative in Nassau, $12M for disaster recovery in Panhandle

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Florida State College at Jacksonville Nassau Center Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021. (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held news conferences in Bonifay, Chipley and Yulee on Thursday as he toured the state handing off checks for millions in grants.

That morning, DeSantis announced a $3.1 million grant to fund a new vocational training initiative at the Florida State College at Jacksonville Betty P. Cook Nassau Center.

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DeSantis said he pledged the money to establish the Nassau County Transportation Education Initiative, a commercial driving facility at FSCJ that will support 120 graduates annually who seek commercial driving endorsements.

“This will provide people with an ability to have very marketable skills, and I can tell you if you go through this program successfully, you are going to get hired in the state of Florida and and be able to be hired elsewhere if that’s what you choose,” DeSantis said. “There is such a strong demand and people are willing to pay good money.”

The grant was drawn from the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, DeSantis said, which he requested $100 million to go toward in the 2022 state budget.

Kevin Thibault, secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation, said that while one in approximately every 21 truckers works in the Floridian trucking industry, there could be more.

“We have over a half a million registered CDL (commercial driver’s license) drivers in this state,” Thibault said. “It’s quite a bit but it’s still not enough.”

DeSantis referenced the need to help correct a “big shortage” of truck drivers. Andre Wallace, president of JAXUSA, said the American Truck Association estimates the shortage will hit a “historic high” by the end of 2021, caused in part by more drivers retiring than entering the field.

”The impact of a higher number of students graduating with their CDL annually would not only benefit the needs of our region’s businesses, but also create opportunities for those that are underemployed as well as those that are unemployed,” Wallace said. “That is a win-win situation for everyone for Northeast Florida.”

Thursday afternoon, DeSantis was in Chipley and Bonifay to announce $12 million to fund further recovery efforts from Hurricane Michael in 2018, including more than $8.8 million awarded to seven North Florida counties in total through the Department of Economic Opportunity’s Rebuild Florida Hazard Mitigation Grant Match Program.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis presents a check in Chipley on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021. (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

“There were places in Northwest Florida, where the debris cleanup was like ten times the total budget for, like, a municipality, some of these areas, and so obviously you need help with that,” DeSantis said.

The governor said that Florida has so far been able to pay out over $1 billion in disaster recovery stemming from Hurricane Michael.

As listed in a news release, here’s the full breakdown of where the grant match program funding is headed:

  • Town of Alford
    • ($102,615) – Stabilize roadsides and ditches to mitigate future flooding.
  • Town of Altha
    • ($56,747) – Install a permanent generator to maintain water well power during outages.
  • Bay County
    • ($1,003,626) – Harden and improve backup power supply and surge protection at the Williams Bayou Pumping Station.
    • ($60,990) – Acquire and demolish a flood prone residential property to allow for the construction of a storm water retention pond.
    • ($45,675) – Provide backup power sources to the fuel pumps supporting the Bay County 9th Street Fuel Island facility.
    • ($675,000) – Install diesel powered bypasses at 36 lift stations to keep them operational during power outages and prevent sewage backup and overflow.
    • ($339,822) – Harden fire stations by replacing several roll up doors and windows with hurricane-grade roll up doors and windows.
    • ($45,875) – Install a permanent generator at the Majette Yard Fuel Island to maintain power during a disaster.
  • Gulf County
    • ($1,070,775) – Protect a critical transportation route from flooding by ensuring a safe evacuation route.
  • Jackson County
    • ($233,550) – Construct a storm water retention area to collect and drain storm water and repave Pooser Road to mitigate future flooding.
    • ($1,000,345) – Install permanent generators at 12 offsite medical facilities.
  • City of Blountstown
    • ($29,967) – Install permanent generators at their public works facilities.
  • City of Lynn Haven
    • ($35,197) – Improve the drainage system to reduce recurrent localized flooding of the Indiana Avenue area and prevent repetitive road closures and damages.
    • ($117,290) – Replace the roadside ditch in the Wyoming Avenue area to mitigate future flooding to properties and roads.
    • ($64,226) – Install larger culverts and upstream and downstream channels to improve drainage and mitigate future flooding.
    • ($71,221) – Replace roadside drainage and connect it to existing drainage channels to mitigate future flooding.
    • ($428,119) – Replace drainage and pipe systems to prevent repetitive property damage due to flooding.
    • ($325,562) – Increase the outfall pipe size along 11th Street to increase discharge capacity and reduce the risk of flooding.
    • ($170,604) – Increase resiliency of the city’s fire station by installing hurricane resistant doors, windows, overhead doors, and louvers.
  • City of Marianna
    • ($227,295) – Install a permanent generator at the Marianna Health and Rehabilitation Center to allow the facility to continue care for its senior citizens during power outages.
  • City of Midway
    • ($33,170) – Install multiple permanent generators to provide a source of backup power at several locations.
  • City of Panama City
    • ($908,009) – Construct a new safe room with a generator to protect first responders and allow for timely responses to emergencies following a disaster event.
    • ($225,610) – Construct a safe room with a permanent generator to protect the City’s utility staff from future disasters.
    • ($167,248) – Replace windows and doors with impact resistant glass and hurricane resistant doors at three fire stations.
  • Town of Greensboro
    • ($58,516) – Install generators at three water wells and the fire station to maintain operation during power outages.
  • Town of Sneads
    • ($47,713) – Install generators at two wells to maintain the ability to provide potable water during power outages.
    • ($125,841) – Install permanent generators to keep the town’s lift stations operational in the event of a power outage.
  • City of Springfield
    • ($62,500) – Install a bypass pump at Lift Station 16 to maintain the flow of wastewater during a loss of power and prevent sewer overflows.
    • ($62,500) – Install a bypass pump at Lift Station 19 to maintain the flow of wastewater during a loss of power and prevent sewer overflows.
    • ($62,500) – Install a bypass pump at Lift Station 29 to maintain the flow of wastewater during a loss of power and prevent sewer overflows.
  • City of Tallahassee
    • ($125,000) – Install a permanent generator at Jack McLean Community Center to allow the facility to operate as a shelter for disaster events.
  • Washington County
    • ($912,334) – Acquire, demolish, and convert 19 residential properties in flood-prone areas to greenspace to mitigate recurrent flood losses.

About the Author:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.