The Bay County Board of County Commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday to support the concept of repurposing the Bay County Juvenile Justice Building as a Federal Courthouse and further support the constructing of a new Bay County Juvenile Justice Facility at their regularly scheduled meeting. This resolution supports efforts made by the Bay County Chamber of Commerce and its Federal Courthouse Task Force to keep the Panama City Division of Northern District of Florida Federal Court System.
Representatives of the Taskforce, Bay County Bar Association, the Cities of Panama City Panama City Beach, Lynn Haven and Parker, and other community leaders attended the meeting to support the unanimously approved resolution.
The Board also authorized staff to develop a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the design and construction of a new Juvenile Courthouse on a site to be determined and directed staff to prepare funding alternatives for the financing of the new facility. The construction of the new facility is pending a signed 30-year lease by the General Services Administration (GSA) to occupy what is now the current Juvenile Justice Facility.
The Panama City Division serves the counties of Bay, Gulf, Calhoun, Jackson, Washington and Holmes in Florida, and houses the U.S. District Court, U.S. Probation Office, the U.S. Marshal’s Office, and the Federal Public Defender’s office. The courthouse brings in more than $400,000 annually to the County and would have a tremendous, negative impact if lost. Now the focus will be at the federal level to begin the process of promoting the opportunity that our County has offered. The Chamber encourages everyone to contact Senators Nelson and Rubio, as well as Congressman Dunn, to show support of keeping the Courthouse in Bay County.