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Riversink Otters Odyssey of the Mind team competes at World Finals

The Riversink Elementary School Odyssey of the Mind team competed on May 26 at World Finals at Iowa State University.

When arriving in Ames, Iowa, the team of seven students, from fourth and fifth grade, unpacked their props and reassembled them to prepare for the long-term problem competition. Before presenting their solution, team members had to bring their balsa wood structure to the judges for close examination and weigh-in. The largest structure had to weigh less than 18 grams and hold nested structures inside with a lid for each one. All structures could only be made of balsa wood and glue. The teams structure held three nested structures with a miniature character inside the last one that had to come to life and have a part in their play. After the team performed for their long-term problem, they had to hurry over to another building on the Iowa State University campus to compete in the Spontaneous competition.

During the rest of the World Finals the team explored the campus and got to see the beautiful Reiman Gardens that included a butterfly garden and the World’s Largest Concrete Gnome!

The team competed against 38 other teams from around the world. International teams came from South Korea, Poland and Switzerland, as well as teams from almost all 50 states! The Odyssey Otters’ structure held 280 pounds. The most weight held by another team in their division held an unbelievable 1,090 pounds! After the scores were totaled the Odyssey Otters placed 12th out of 38, landing in the top third for their division. Not bad for the first time an Elementary Team from Wakulla has gone to the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals!

The team appreciates all the generous donors who helped cover the expenses for their travel and lodging. The outpouring of support was awe-inspiring and covered all their expenses!

Estimate of taxable value released

Florida Statute 200.065(8) requires that no later than June 1, the estimates of taxable values be issued to all taxing authorities for Wakulla County.

These estimates are based upon market conditions as of Jan. 1, 2022, which means sales from Jan 1, 2022, through the present are ignored when determining 2021 market values. These estimated values provide taxing authorities with information they need to develop their budgets.

These estimated values will continue to be refined until approximately July 1, when the 2022 preliminary assessment roll must be submitted to the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR). On July 1, the Property Appraiser’s office will submit the “Official Certificates of Taxable Values” to all taxing authorities for their use in determining tax levies and rates through the public hearing process.

It’s important to note that while market values continue to increase significantly in many areas of the county, the “Save Our Homes” cap and “Florida Amendment One” cap will continue to moderate the impact to taxpayers’ assessed values from rising market values. For 2022, assessed values of most homesteads established in 2021 or earlier without changes, additions or improvement to the property will be capped at 3 percent.

The gross sum estimates provided below do not present final numbers.

Additional details on 2022 tax roll values will be provided on the July 1 certification.

For the county, the school board, City of St. Marks, and the Northwest Florida Water Management District, the 2022 estimated taxable values are as follows:

Wakulla County Board of County Commissioners: $1,771,232,024; an increase of $109,290,330

Wakulla County School Board: $2,076,938,134; an increase of $114,492,159

City of St. Marks: $32,881,364; an increase of $226,817

Northwest Florida Water Management District: $1,788,598,555; an increase of $109,796,313

Ed Brimner is the Wakulla County Property Appraiser.

Trooper honored for life-saving action

A fast-acting Florida Highway Patrol Trooper earned a proclamation, hugs, and a standing ovation at the Monday, June 13, Sopchoppy City Council meeting.

Trooper John Schilling’s accolades were for his actions Feb. 2, when he overheard the Tallahassee Regional Communications Center dispatch a rollover crash nearby on Smith Creek Road.

According to the proclamation, rather than logging off for the day, Schilling responded to the scene to find an overturned SUV, heavily damaged.

When he tried to make contact with the driver, Lyric Oaks, he didn’t get a response. He couldn’t get in through the SUV door, so he broke out the rear window and crawled inside to find the driver having trouble breathing and badly hurt.

He gave first aid, repositioning the driver’s head so he could breathe more easily and staying with Oaks until Wakulla EMS arrived to take over.

The conclusion of the proclamation reads: “the Council of the City of Sopchoppy hereby gratefully records and extends its sincere appreciation to Trooper John Schilling for his heroic actions in service and protection leading to the saving of a human life, and the display of conspicuous initiative, capability and attention to duty, thereby earning respect and admiration for himself and the Florida Highway Patrol by the Council of the City of Sopchoppy.”

Schilling said he happened to be at the right spot at the right time, and he was just doing his job.

After the proclamation, the council and the audience stood to applaud Schilling, and the driver’s grandmother, Robin Oaks, gave him a hug.

St. Marks Fourth of July fireworks in jeopardy

There was nearly a full house Thursday, June 9, at the St. Marks City Commission meeting. Those in attendance included Mayor Don Grimes, commissioners, city staff, citizens, and business owners.

One topic of concern is the St. Marks Independence Day firework show is in jeopardy this year. The city is in need of a certified volunteer to set off this year’s fireworks. The celebration is currently set for Sunday, July 4, but may be moved to a different day depending on volunteer availability. The city is also still seeking donations toward the cost of fireworks, which has increased two-fold from last year due to the current economy.

The boat ramp in St. Marks on Fire Escape Road is closed for repairs through June 17. The boat ramp is expected to be open for the Fourth of July weekend.

Commissioners discussed the closing of Double A Coin Laundry in St. Marks. After another recent incident of vandalism, the owners have decided to convert the building into office space.

Ben Clark of James Moore & Co. reported findings of the city’s 2020-21 Financial Audit Report. Notable findings included that city assets outweigh liabilities in the General Fund and the city is “in the black.” However, on the city’s Income Statement, the Net Change in Fund Loss concluded that the city operated at a loss for the 2020-21 fiscal year. It was noted that the only way to remedy this is to raise property taxes or cut expenses. Mayor Grimes said property taxes had already raised last year, which was not reflected in the 2020-21 Financial Report.

Caroline Smith of the Apalachee Regional Planning Council presented the city’s economic development strategy. Goals and projects include a multitude of improvements to public spaces, as well as attracting new residents to St. Marks. The plan is set to be finalized and presented for adoption by the city at the next month’s meeting, set for July 14.

City Manager Zoe Mansfield discussed the five-yar Schedule and its funding sources. The plan includes the St. Marks River Walk Project that would connect the end of the St. Marks Trail to the Old Fort. It was discussed at the meeting that the city has made great efforts to secure funding for the project but have faced legislative challenges, including a veto from former Gov. Rick Scott after funding was approved by the state Legislature. Commissioners spoke about the River Walk Project and how it would have the greatest economic impact for the city. They plan to invite Gov. Ron DeSantis down for his first visit to see the needs of this beautiful, historically significant city.

Local pastor runs for county commissioner

John Quinton, a local pastor and community advocate, is running for the District 2 Wakulla County Commission seat.

“I am grateful for the countywide support to get me on the ballot,” he said. “My goal is to serve on a commission that represents everyone’s interests. I know we can do that if we work together.”

Quinton has led the Sopchoppy and Ochlockonee Bay United Methodist Churches for eight years. He is set to retire from his appointment on June 30. Quinton was raised on a family farm and entered the ministry after a career in the automobile business.

Quinton said, “As a pastor, my churches have always helped the neighborhoods around us in Wakulla County. We run community food banks, provide support for medical care, and help people keep their homes by assisting with rent, utilities, and repairs. We provide transportation and even assist with auto repairs. We help our neighbors achieve their educational goals and navigate the legal system when necessary. In short, we do all we can to uplift the community.”

Quinton explained his decision to join the race for commissioner: “I was looking forward to a quiet retirement fishing with my wife, playing golf with our grandsons, and doing volunteer work in our community. But then a friend asked, ‘Why don’t you run for the Wakulla County Commission?’ With some prayer and contemplation, I decided that with my understanding of business practices and background in the church ministry, I was prepared for a new form of community service. We need to protect our quality of life here. We need clean air and water, good roads, access to education and a fair cost of living. We need to protect our rivers, lakes, springs and coastlines. We need to support education and business.”

Quinton is married to Gail, a retired teacher, former president of the Optimist Club,

and community volunteer. They have two children, two grandchildren, and another

grandchild on the way this month.

John would love to speak to your community group and listen to your concerns and

ideas for our county. Contact him at or 850-363-1760.