MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB) — Marianna city officials are ecstatic about $9 million in state infrastructure grants. Governor Ron DeSantis awarded the city the money earlier this week on the four-year anniversary of Hurricane Michael.
$5.2 million is going towards the construction of a storm shelter.
The facility will be a state resiliency hub. That means it will not just serve Jackson County, but residents from all over the state who are fleeing disasters.
When it’s not serving in that capacity, it will help the city realize another long-awaited opportunity, a rec center.
“It gives us a facility on site where we can house our basketball and house our volleyball when it’s not being utilized as a storm shelter for the residents of Marianna and Jackson County and also for people coming from throughout the state that are seeking shelter from hurricanes and that sort of thing,” Marianna Recreation Director Jeff Faircloth said.
As a shelter, the hub will house several hundred people and will be outfitted with full bathrooms and a cooking station.
Faircloth said the city has been trying to construct a rec center for almost a decade and was only slowly making progress.
“At one time we were only getting $950,000 just to do the site plans and the parking lot so to get this bumped to $5 million, that is a great opportunity for the city of Marianna,” Faircloth said.
The city is also getting $3.7 million to storm-harden Jackson Hospital.
“After the storm, the utilities were taken down and the hospital had so many trees and all the utilities were knocked out so this grant will solve that problem,” Marianna Mayor Kenneth Hamilton said.
The grant also includes funding for a roundabout at Kelson Avenue and Carters Mill road to improve traffic flow to the hospital.
Officials anticipate both of the projects will begin construction around a year from now.