Category Archives: Political

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.

John Gorrie statue threatened with removal

Statue of Dr. John Gorrie at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Library of Congress)
Statue of Dr. John Gorrie at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
(Library of Congress)

A South Florida legislator wants to see the statue of Dr. John Gorrie pulled down and removed from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Gorrie, a 19th century resident of Apalachicola, was the inventor of the ice machine and artificial refrigeration. His work and theories paved the way for the development of air conditioning, modern food preservation and the use of temperature control to save the lives of patients with malaria and other fevers. Without the discoveries made possible by this great scientist, modern Florida would never have developed.

The famed scientist, who also lived briefly near present-day Sneads, is one of two Floridians honored at Statuary Hall in the nation’s capital. The other is Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, a St. Augustine native, who served in the U.S. and Confederate armies and was wounded in the service of both.

A move has been underway in the Florida to topple Smith’s statue from its place in Statuary Hall due to his Confederate service (even though Confederate servicemen are considered U.S. veterans under federal law). The effort has now expanded to include Dr. Gorrie, who never served the Confederacy, as well.

Dr. John Gorrie was a noted Florida scientist, physician and inventor.
Dr. John Gorrie was a noted Florida scientist, physician and inventor.

Rep. Jose Felix Diaz (GOP, Miami) has sponsored House Bill 141 that calls for dragging Smith’s statue from the U.S. Capitol. His bill has now been amended to call for the toppling of Dr. Gorrie’s statue as well.

The proposal has been approved by an 18-1 vote of the House Appropriations Committee and is on its way for a vote in the full house, perhaps as soon as tomorrow (Monday, February 8).

Remarkably, the amendment calling for the tearing down of Dr. Gorrie’s statue comes just months after he was named in 2015 to the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame. The great scientist’s legacy is also remembered in Apalachicola at the John Gorrie Museum State Park. He is buried across the street from the museum. (See video of some of the Gorrie-related sites in Apalachicola at the bottom of this post).

Apalachicola and Sneads are small cities in Northwest Florida with virtually no power in the Florida Legislature, which appears to be experiencing an unprecedented wave of political correctness. Their connection to Dr. Gorrie, however, provides an opportunity for young people to learn about a great scientist and how the work of one local man changed the world.

An effort to remove the statue of a scientist and school from the U.S. Capitol is especially astounding given the obvious need in Florida to inspire students to take greater interest in math and science. The Miami representative and his cohorts should be ashamed of themselves.

Rep. Brad Drake of Walton County, who represents the Sneads area, has announced that he will oppose House Bill 141. He is due our gratitude for taking a principal stand in the face of a powerful movement.

If you live in Florida, please join me in encouraging your local state representative to vote NO on House Bill 141. You can locate the name and contact information of your representative by visiting Florida House of Representatives.

Here is a short video of some of the places connected to Dr. Gorrie in historic Apalachicola, Florida: