Bay County Commissioners May Discuss Boot Camp Death

By: Sabrina Zimring
By: Sabrina Zimring

Although it's not on Tuesday's agenda, you can expect to hear Bay County commissioners talking about the Bay County juvenile boot camp.

The issue is surfacing after the death of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson. Anderson died at a Pensacola hospital on Friday, January 6 just hours after spending his first day at the camp.

Drill instructors admit to restraining Anderson twice. He experienced difficulty breathing and later died.

Bay County Commissioner Jerry Girvin said, “We need to run it ourselves, have it totally independent from the state."

Bay County spends $500,000 a year running the boot camp program. The rest comes from the state Department of Juvenile Justice, but less than 35 percent of the participants are Bay County residents.

The majority come from other counties not paying for the camp. Commissioners say if the Sheriff's Office ran the camp it would ensure local at-risk teens will be selected first ahead of others.

Jerry Girvin said, "We would like to see it where it's our camp, our rules, our formula for putting kids in."

Another big issue that will affect far more people is a proposed road impact fee. The fees would be tacked onto the cost of building permits depending on where you build the home.

Jerry Girvin added, "I don't think the way this road tax is set up it's equitable, so I'm gonna cast my vote and my argument against it."

Consultants estimate the county's road improvement needs will be around $300 million over the next 25 years. That would add nearly $4,000 to the cost of a new home in most areas including eastern Bay County.

Commissioner George Gainer said, "Putting all these together I think puts an excessive burden on a new house builder in Bay County."

Gainer says he would like to see all existing impact fees and the proposed road fee cut by 50 percent. Commissioners are also expected to discuss a possible challenge to the county's new jail contract bid by Emerald Correctional Management.

Emerald has threatened to protest the county's decision to give the contract to the Corrections Corporation of America on the grounds their proposal was not thoroughly and fairly reviewed.


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