Hurricane takes center stage at City Commission meeting

The Tallahassee City Commission met Wednesday for the first time since Hurricane Michael struck last week.
Cory Cannion | The Famuan

Tallahassee City Commissioners and local residents slowly walked into City Hall and up to the second floor on Wednesday. As the commissioners entered members of the community greeted each other, many showing relief that everyone is OK after the disastrous hurricane.

 Prior to hearing speakers and city ordinances, the city commission decided to give a key to the city to two of Tallahassee's important community figures.

At the beginning of the meeting, Mayor Andrew Gillum presented Olean McCaskill, owner of Olean’s Café on South Adams Street, the Key to the city.

“Over the last 22 years it’s grown to be a cornerstone of our local community. A primary destination for rattlers, Seminoles, Tallahassee natives, visitors all seeking some world-famous Southern cooking and soul food,” said Gillum. 

The mayor also presented the Rev. Brant Copeland with a key to the city. Gillum provided an introduction saying, “Pastor Copeland has been a stalwart in our community, leading the first Presbyterian Church. He exemplifies what it means to be a servant leader.” 

Hurricane Michael was one of the main topics during the meeting. The storm turned into a Category 4 and caused incredible damage throughout the Florida Panhandle. Along with restoring power to the communities, other Tallahassee relief efforts include supplying additional resources such as food, water, and shelter to those residing in counties west of Tallahassee and to those in Tallahassee who are still inconvenienced by the storm.

Several speakers at the City Commission meeting thanked commissioners for their leadership and how well the city handled the hurricane from a state government level down to the local civilian level. 

Emmett Reed, executive director of the Florida Healthcare Association, thanked the city commission after their success in properly preparing for the storm. After meeting with city officials to discuss strategies for healthcare facilities and storm preparation for these facilities. “What a difference it made for our local centers and our residents,” Reed said. "While we got a lot of trees and power outages power for these healthcare facilities came online quicker then during Hurricane Herminie.”

Former Mayor Dorothy Iman-Johnson, who had experienced Hurricane Kate when she was in office during the 1985 hurricane season, also congratulated the city commission and Gillum. “In the late 80s I sat in your seat when Kate came through. I know how hard the job is that you just did with finesse.”

Several small business owners also thanked the city commission for their leadership in helping maintain order and inspiring everyone together as one and help each other out. The highpoint of this meeting was how people positive people responded to the hurricane.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to move forward with a $1.6 billion investment into the south side of Tallahassee. These investments include renovations to both neighborhoods and businesses to population growth, and new editions to the community. The overall goal of this is to improve the quality of life on the south side. 

Another major improvement is the potential construction of a new public safety campus. The overall goal of his campus is to encourage better relationships between the community and law enforcement. Construction is said to start in 2020.