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Local Leaders Join Together to Plan for the Future of Walton County

DeFuniak Springs, Fla. - Three elected bodies join together for the future of their county. DeFuniak Springs, Freeport and Walton county are working on a  vital multi-million dollar solution to get water and sewer on Highway 331.

Getting water and sewer to this road, U.S. 331, will not come easy or cheap. It's said that once in place, it will spur major economic growth. The idea proposed requires DeFuniak Springs, Freeport and the Commissioners to create a Government Utility Authority concept.

"This G.U.A. concept could allow them to approach the 331 corridor challenge in a collaborative fashion, to make sure they spend no more than they have to and what they do spend it on, is both put in correctly and then operated and managed correctly," explained Robert Sheets, Government Services Group, CEO.

"You know, nothing can happen without water and sewer. So, I just see the area really taking off when we get that infrastructure in place," stated Cecilia Jones, Walton County Commissioners.

Walton County has the initial $5 million for the project, from the first round of  RESTORE Act money. But, the key component to funding this project is getting Triumph's approval.

The G.U.A. concept would improve infrastructure, customer service and finances. 

At first, the City of Freeport was wary about joining together.

"My only concern is it would take away from our utilities as far as what we already have in place with the City of Freeport. A majority of our income is from the utilities that we service," explained Russ Barley, City of Freeport Mayor.

But, they quickly were back onboard. Along with DeFuniak Springs.

"It's just a lot of advantages. When it comes to jobs, when it comes to residents, when it comes to, you know, evacuations, so many things. We are very grateful for having this opportunity," said Bob Campbell, DeFuniak Springs Mayor.

Many Commissioners say, this project will bring the best and brightest back to Walton County.

"This is something that is going to change the future of Walton County," stated Tony Anderson, Walton County Commissioner.

Now, with verbal commitment from DeFuniak and Freeport leaders, Walton County Commissioners will begin writing the Triumph application.
    
Before the application is submitted to Triumph, the City of DeFuniak Springs and Freeport will have a chance to review it. The next Triumph meeting takes place in July.


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