DEP Announces $88 Million in Early Restoration Projects - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

DEP Announces $88 Million in Early Restoration Projects in Florida Panhandle

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The Florida panhandle will be getting an early Christmas present this year in the amount of $88 million spread over eight counties.

Although oil from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill didn't directly impact counties like Bay and Gulf the shear thought was enough to keep people away.

"You felt it," said Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection Herschel Vinyard. "Because, it was right here in your back yard."

"Whether it showed up or didn't show up, the people didn't show up! said Mayor Greg Brudnicki of Panama City. "The dollars didn't show up."

But now county's like Bay, Walton, Gulf and Franklin will collect reparations for the economic blow.

"You know I think at the end of the day what's important is that we continue to protect the resource," said Warren Yager, District Five Gulf County Commissioner.

Gulf County's proposed projects include boat ramps and a new fishing pier.

"We don't have a pier right now," said Yager. "It will be an important part of economic development and tourism in our community."

It's been a long road for those at the table. Many applaud the business like approach in which negotiations were handled. Others say the money is a long time coming.

"We are fighting for the panhandle," said Vinyard. "Governor Scott and the Florida legislature has made the Panhandle a priority and it's important that we get the money and the dollars and the projects that we are due."

In June the final agreement will be signed with the state for approval.

"We expect to attend a number of ground breakings in the next year," said Vinyard.  

Two public meetings will be held in Florida in January; one in Pensacola and the other in Panama City.

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