Courthouse Trees can be saved for under $5,000

Historic live oak at the Jackson County Courthouse in Marianna, Florida.
Historic live oak at the Jackson County Courthouse in Marianna, Florida.

Guy Meilleur, an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist, says his firm can save the historic trees at the Jackson County Courthouse for less than $5,000.

The amount is stunningly small in light of the estimate of more than $37,000 previously announced by the Board of County Commissioners.

The massive Fairchild Oak at Bulow Creek State Park.
The massive Fairchild Oak at Bulow Creek State Park.

Meilleur’s firm, Historic Tree Care, specializes in saving and caring for historic trees throughout the South. He has worked on the famed oak tree “The President” at the Florida School for the Deaf & Blind in St. Augustine and the “Fairchild Oak” at Bulow Creek State Park in Ormond Beach, as well as historic trees in Andersonville, Georgia, and numerous other locations.

Battle of Marianna reenactment under the oaks at Courthouse Square.
Battle of Marianna reenactment under the oaks at Courthouse Square.

How did Jackson County wind up with a proposal that quoted a price more than 700% higher than the estimate from a recognized authority on historic trees?

Meilleur indicates that the initial proposal given to the county by a Tallahassee firm includes a number of elements that he does not consider necessary.  “I saw nothing that indicated a need for tree removal or soil treatments or cables or lightning systems,” he wrote.

He indicated that pruning would reduce overextended limbs on all of the trees to help assure public safety and the future health of the trees themselves.

At their last meeting, the county commissioners voted to receive estimates for removing the trees. They indicate that they did so only to find out how much it would cost. The commission is scheduled to meet again tomorrow evening (Tuesday, 5/24) at 6 p.m., but the tree issue is not on their published agenda. This does not mean that they will not discuss the matter, only that no prior notice has been given to the public of plans to discuss it.

Meilleur has delivered his proposal to interim county administrator Pam Pichard.

His firm’s website is www.historictreecare.com.

SHARKANSAS is out! Filmed in Jackson County!

Sharkansas is now available for order or online streaming!
Sharkansas is now available for order or online streaming!

SHARKANSAS, the action movie filmed in Marianna and Jackson County is now available!

The film features scenes shot at Florida Caverns State Park, Merritt’s Mill Pond and other locations around Jackson County and the city of Marianna, Florida.

Numerous local people assisted with or appear in the film, among them Edd Sorenson of Cave Adventurers as well as Kelly Banta and other staff members from Florida Caverns.

Directed by famed filmmaker Jim Wynorski, the movie runs 83 minutes.

You can order your Blu-Ray or watch the streaming version right here:

Watch instantly:

Taking a stand against the Ku Klux Klan

H.K. Edgerton (left) and historian Dale Cox greet photographers in downtown Marianna, Florida.
H.K. Edgerton (left) and historian Dale Cox greet photographers in downtown Marianna, Florida.

by Dale Cox

Marianna – We all have our strong core beliefs. For years I have tried to do what I could to support the right of the public to know, to speak and to be heard.

First Amendment rights are very important to me.

I was stunned this week when I saw news from Jacksonville that the Ku Klux Klan had turned out to protest an appearance by H.K. Edgerton.

H.K. Edgerton listens to the story of the Battle of Marianna.
H.K. Edgerton listens to the story of the Battle of Marianna.

If you aren’t familiar with Mr. Edgerton, let me give you the basics. He is an African-American who supports the Confederate battle flag and leaving Confederate monuments in place. He works hard and travels widely in support of his beliefs. His prominence has grown over time and he is currently engaged in a symbolic walk across Florida to oppose efforts to take down Confederate memorials.

Earlier this week, this Confederate battle flag waving black man was confronted by the Ku Klux Klan. To his surprise, protesters that had turned out to oppose his flag suddenly came to his assistance and surrounded him. They asserted that he had a right to fly his flag if he wished, taking a stand for free speech in the face of Klan members.

Dale Cox (left) and H.K. Edgerton walk along Lafayette Street in Marianna.
Dale Cox (left) and H.K. Edgerton walk along Lafayette Street in Marianna.

It was an odd moment. As I thought about it, I realized that whether we agree with Mr. Edgerton or not, we all have an obligation to make sure that American citizens are not harassed, intimidated or otherwise prevented from expressing their views.

I am a supporter of preserving all history, without regard to race, culture or results. I have written books that focused on American Indians, the War Between the States, the Seminole Wars and other topics. I have a new one coming this summer that gives attention to the free African-American colony that existed at Prospect Bluff on the Apalachicola River in 1814-1816.

Those who know me well know that I believe that there is something in history in which each of us can take pride, regardless of our race or culture. If Mr. Edgerton takes pride in Southern culture and the often ignored African-Americans who served in the Confederate armed forces, then I am fine with that and wish him well.

When I heard that he had been opposed by the Ku Klux Klan in Jacksonville, I was stunned and angered. I have long known that such hate groups were active in major Florida cities, especially Tampa. Journalists in those cities often like to point fingers at the small towns of our state when the real hate groups of Florida are active in their own backyards.

So, I decided to walk with H.K. Edgerton.

H.K. Edgerton is greeted by local citizens at Russ House Commons.
H.K. Edgerton is greeted by local citizens at Russ House Commons.

I met him at the Battle of Marianna monument in downtown Marianna today and we walked the two long blocks west to the Russ House Commons. People of all colors honked their horns, waved, snapped pictures or in some cases just looked confused. Everyone we met was kind and courteous. We spoke about the Battle of Marianna and the history of Jackson County.

I was proud of the way our community responded to Mr. Edgerton’s appearance. Marianna and Jackson County showed true hospitality in welcoming him. We had no disruptions from the Ku Klux Klan or anyone else, although the Marianna Police Department was nearby and ready in case of trouble.

There is much that is controversial about Mr. Edgerton’s views and some like what he has to say while others strongly oppose his statements. That is fine with me. Debate and discussion is healthy.

What is not healthy is when a hate group like the Ku Klux Klan tries to shut down someone’s right to speak through intimidation. The people of this area took a stand against the Ku Klux Klan today.

Thank you one and all.