Providing state financial assistance for a new agricultural education and promotion facility at the north end of Fort Walton Beach and for mental health initiatives are among the District State Senator’s goals. 2 George Gainer for the new session of the State Legislature.

Gainer and other state officials who help run Okaloosa and Walton counties recently shared what they hope to accomplish during the 60-day session that begins Tuesday.

“We want to pay more attention to mental health facilities and staff,” said Gainer, of R-Panama City, whose district includes Walton and Bay counties and most of Okaloosa County. “It has been difficult to overcome these issues as so many talented and dedicated people fall ill” with COVID-19.

Gainer said Governor Ron DeSantis “has some pretty bold plans for how we’re going to handle the rest of this pandemic. He was right about everything else, so I will probably support (which is coming.) We are right in the middle of some projects and at the end of others, like improvement (US Highway) 331 (in the Walton County). We are not going to let this pandemic affect us if we can. “

Plans call for the new agriculture and promotion facility to eventually be located at a site owned by Okaloosa County at 1954 Lewis Turner Blvd. between the Miss Ruth Farmer’s Market and the County Courthouse Annex Extension.

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The county has rented its existing South Zone Extension office at 127 Hollywood Blvd SW in Fort Walton Beach for $ 1 a year since 1974. This office is low on space and has a leaky roof and insufficient parking.

Plant sales and clinics, master gardening classes and other agriculture-related programs provided by the Southern County Area Extension Office would be some of the activities held at the planned new location.

District 1 State Senator Doug Broxson, whose district includes the southwestern part of Okaloosa County, said one of his main goals during the new session was to support the current batch of county state funding priorities.

“We had a pretty good session last year to fund their priorities and we’ll be looking to do the same this year,” said Broxson, R-Gulf Breeze.

Among other things, Okaloosa County is currently seeking state funding to support: the continued development of its pre-trial mental health diversion program, which is a voluntary effort designed to distract some people from being imprisoned; a water quality improvement project in Cinco Bayou; installing linings on aging clay sewer lines and associated manholes in the Fort Walton Beach and Ocean City areas; and the construction of new sidewalks along Old Bethel Road in Crestview.

As for the COVID-19 pandemic, Broxson said he believes DeSantis handled it well and kept Florida open for business, even during the latest omicron variant threat.

“The federal government is in the red and we are in the black,” Broxson said. “People don’t want to die from a virus, but they want to feed their families and go to work every day.

District 3 State Representative Jayer Williamson, whose district covers most of northern Okaloosa County and most of Santa Rosa County, said he hopes to help secure funding for the State for the road and bridge modernization of Okaloosa County Road 2 and for an elevated drinking water storage tank in the Flora Zone.

Williamson, R-Pace, said he has been a strong supporter of the governor in his handling of the pandemic from the start.

“In the new session, I will be supporting whether (any new measure) continues to make Florida a free state and let people make their own decisions,” he said.

Williamson informed all of his fellow MPs in an email on Jan.6 that the new legislative session would be his last and that he would not be running again.

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“Often overlooked in politics is the fact that we are all humans,” Williamson said in the email. “(The chosen ones) laugh, cry and bleed like everyone else. I am a grandson, a son, a father, a husband, an uncle, a nephew and a brother. Like many of you, I also have a “real job” and employees who rely on me to support their families. Sadly, some of the people we serve forget about it, as do many of those in public office.

“We’re not celebrities or rock stars, and our goal shouldn’t be to have a blue checkmark on Twitter or likes on a Facebook post. My only goal for doing this job is the same now as when I was 5 and told my grandfather why I wanted to be a representative of the state – to help people. As you continue into the future, I hope you will always remain true to the reason why we are called to serve.

District 4 State Representative Patt Maney R-Shalimar, whose district covers most of Okaloosa County, said he is looking to play a positive role in getting a balanced budget. and the redistribution of all legislative seats to the Florida Legislature as well as the State Congress. districts.

“Closer to home, I would like the Baker Act (involuntary mental health treatment) and the Marchman Act (involuntary drug treatment) laws to be updated and made more effective in meeting the needs of individuals and society. “said Maney. “When I had the honor of serving as a judge in Okaloosa County, I saw the ineffectiveness and insufficiency of the law and too often the heartache of families and the waste of money. taxpayers as people walked through the system, often with poor results.

At the same time, Florida needs follow-up programs to protect freedom, ”he added. “I will seek better funding for the county mental health program. “

Maney also said he introduced a bill to eliminate “unnecessary and ineffective regulation” within the insurance department, and a bill to move the renewal date for mobile home tags to allow for the issue on the owner’s birthday, just like the automobile. the labels are issued.

In addition, “Due to my service in the criminal court, I introduced two bills,” he said.

One of the bills would allow, but not require, circuit court judges to place an accused person who is only convicted of a misdemeanor on probation by contract. The second bill would require serfs’ bailiffs to return defendants to the county in which the case is pending, saving sheriffs and counties the cost of transporting defendants who did not show up, Maney said .

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Also this year, “I will be advocating again for state aid for road projects, drainage, flooding and other projects in Okaloosa County,” he said. “Workforce development and education with both the school district and Northwest Florida State College are priorities. “

District 5 State Representative Brad Drake R-Eucheeanna, whose district includes Walton County, could not be reached for comment.