Gov. Rick Scott announced more than $1.1 million in projects and programs designed to make life a little easier for military personnel and their families in the Panhandle on Monday, about a week before Election Day, and some of that money will end up in Bay County.
CareerSource Gulf Coast is getting $150,000 from the Florida Defense Support Task Force (FDSTF), which is chaired by Rep. Jimmy Patronis, for a plan to identify industries where someone transitioning from the military to civilian life could find a good job. The project is part of a partnership with Tyndall Air Force Base to spur local economic development.
“CareerSource Gulf Coast is thankful to the Florida Defense Support Task Force for supporting this endeavor and looks forward to expanding opportunities for transitioning service members and their families. We are grateful for our partnership with Tyndall Air Force Base and other community organizations,” said Maria Goodwin, director of workforce services and communications for CareerSource Gulf Coast.
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Bay County’s Intelligent Transportation System will get an expansion, as well, thanks to a $200,000 grant from the FDSTF. The money will pay to expand the system, which is designed to improve traffic flow through real-time monitoring of traffic conditions and traffic light synchronization, to Tyndall Air Force Base.
“This is just one of those projects that the base and the community worked together on,” said Tyndall Public Affairs Officer Herman Bell.
The Intelligent Traffic System currently extends from State 79 in Panama City Beach along U.S. 98 to Ivy Road in Parker. Keith Bryant, Bay County traffic engineer, said the money will allow Bay County to extend fiber-optic cable from Ivy Road to Tyndall Air Force Base, where a dynamic sign — similar to those on northbound Thomas Drive south of U.S. 98 and on westbound U.S. 98 east of 23rd Street — will be installed, Bryant said.
The two Bay County projects were part of a larger FDSTF grant that also will fund projects and programs in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Escambia counties. Statewide, FDSTF grants totaled $2.59 million and funded 13 projects.
The Florida Defense Support Task Force was created in 2011 to protect Florida military installations against U.S. Department of Defense realignment or closure actions.
Scott announced the grants eight days before the Nov. 4 election, and one day before he is scheduled to campaign in Lynn Haven. He and his chief challenger, former Gov. Charlie Crist, are polling neck-and-neck.
“Northwest Florida is home to many of Florida’s military installations, and the Florida Defense Support Task Force knows how vital it is to foster positive relationships between the military and the community. We thank the Florida Defense Support Task Force for the more than $1 million grant to Northwest Florida so that our service men and women may better protect Florida families,” Scott said in a release.