IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Bay County, Fla., Approves $2.8M in Hurricane Michael Repair

The projects include interior and exterior repairs for three Bay County Sheriff's Office buildings, along with significant roof work for the Bay County Courthouse.

(TNS) — Bay County leaders on Tuesday approved about $2.8 million in hurricane damage repairs for the county courthouse and sheriff's office facilities.

The projects include interior and exterior repairs for three Bay County Sheriff's Office buildings, along with significant roof work for the Bay County Courthouse.

"We're finally getting around to making permanent repairs," County Commissioner Tommy Hamm said after the meeting. "It's good to get that going and get things back up to the way they were before the storm."

Like many homes and businesses, Hurricane Michael damaged several county government buildings. The county has made temporary repairs on its buildings, like the courthouse's roof, to make them usable. But for the buildings to be viable for the long term, more extensive repairs are needed.

No dates were set for the repair projects to start.

County insurance is expected to cover the bulk of the repair costs. For anything not covered, the hope is that the county can get reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, officials said.

For the courthouse, almost $1.4 million will be spent just to fully repair the roof, while another $447,000 is needed for interior and exterior repairs.

Courthouse operations have been functional but hardly ideal since the hurricane.

After the hurricane, judicial staff and judges who used the courthouse's third floor were moved into trailers beside the building because of the damage. The judicial staff and judges were moved into a building at 225 McKenzie Ave. in late April.

The other $994,200 in approved spending will cover interior and exterior repairs for the sheriff's office, its junior deputy building and its Cedar Grove substation.

Hamm said approving the projects was a big boost to the county as a whole in terms of hurricane recovery.

"We're finally getting somewhere," Hamm said of hurricane recovery. "It's a confidence builder."

In keeping with recovery, during its meeting the commission also accepted $2 million in loans from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to help with repairs to the county's water and wastewater treatment plants.

The two plants each will get a $1 million loan for hurricane damage repairs. The county will be required to repay only 25% for each loan. The repairs funded by the loans are set to be finished in July 2020.

"It's great that the DEP is going to work with us," Commissioner Robert Carroll said. "It's not every day you get to only pay 25 cents on the dollar."

Ben Blitch, county utility director, said that while both facilities were repaired enough to provide the required services and meet all safety standards, they need more work.

"They are working, but they're held together with toothpicks and Band-Aids," Blitch said with a laugh. "There's a lot of things that still have to be done."

Blitch added that the $2 million loans would only help cover a small portion of the needed repairs at both facilities.

"This is one small piece. ... there's $50 million in damage," Blitch said. "There's still a lot of work to be done over the next four to five years."


©2019 The News Herald (Panama City, Fla.)

Visit The News Herald (Panama City, Fla.) at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.