Quincy leaders talk tourism, traffic

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By Robert Allen

At the city’s regular meeting May 27, Maj. Shawn Wood from the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office provided the commissioners with a special presentation about the Rural County Summit on community disaster and emergency response. The event is scheduled for July 9 to 11 at the Florida Public Safety Institute. 

Wood said last year the event turned into an unforeseen tourist attraction for Gadsden County. So this year he said the sheriff’s office is making a deliberate effort to promote the event beyond its inherent educational value for emergency and law enforcement personnel. 

This year, the event will feature more speakers over more days — and be augmented with recreational opportunities and evening entertainment.

Commissioner Keith Dowdell, who is a member of Gadsden County’s tourism development council, spoke about the importance of the summit. 

“We’re going to learn a lot because I feel that right around the corner we’re going to have a tragedy — and we should be getting ready for it,” he said. “This is one of the events and exercises that will help us prepare.”

Consideration of Florida Department of Transportation’s revised agreement regarding traffic signal maintenance remained a topic of discussion for the second week in a row. 

“I didn’t want to get on the wrong side of the state by not signing this agreement,” said Gay, who explained several times during the past two meeting that he was trying to consider the situation from their perspective.

Commissioner Micah Brown said he agreed with Gay. Other city commissioners had different inclinations.

“We’re sidestepping some liability by not signing,” said Commissioner Daniel McMillan. “It’s my position that we need to move forward and send a letter to the department of transportation, stating that the city of Quincy wishes to continue with the current traffic signal maintenance — and that is my motion.”

Dowdell seconded McMillan’s motion. It passed unanimously. 

Debate regarding former City Manager Jack McLean’s severance package also continued.

Gay said he had misgivings about the payments because the city was not currently able to pay out leave time for city employees who retired by choice — but he said he would still be willing to offer McLean another window of opportunity to sign a release form drafted and issued by the city — already issued once — that would have allowed McLean to collect more than $140,000.

Dowdell argued that McLean’s contract did not stipulate his severance pay would be contingent upon the former manager’s agreement to additional agreements. 

“We kind of put ourselves in this position — so we need to go ahead and pay the former city manger his money so we can move on,” said Dowdell. “And remember now: The contract was made by us. We set those parameters.”

Dowdell requested a written synopsis of the situation from the city’s labor attorney. The matter remains unconcluded.