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Commission hopefuls address budget, hot issues

County commission candidates.Six county commission candidates, two of whom will be on the primary ballot on August 14, fielded a host of questions during a forum held at the high school on July 28 before a crowd of more than 100 civic-minded constituents.

Lucy and David Hudson traveled from Olustee to attend the more than two-hour forum, which also included candidates for school board and sheriff [see related article on school board forum here].

The couple said prior to the start they wanted to become more informed voters and hoped to hear more about the candidate’s budget priorities.

“We have so little money in the county budget and so many things that need to be done, how are they going to set the priorities?” Mr. Hudson asked rhetorically. “It’s going to be very, very hard.”

Soon after delivering their opening statements,  the candidate were asked about the county’s budget woes.

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School board candidates spar over experience

From left: Candidates Dwight Crews, Patricia Weeks and Clayton Griffis.Two school boards members up for re-election defended their oversight of the district and its budget, while their challengers chided them for poor performing schools during the candidate forum July 28 at the BCHS auditorium.

The current composition of the school board — three long-time members and two newcomers elected in 2010 — could shift to one in which the majority of members are relatively inexperienced in K-12 education, depending on the results of the August 14 primary election.

Dissenting votes are a rare occurrence on the school board these days, but should an incumbent, Dwight Crews or Patricia Weeks, fail to retain their post, the panel will have three members installed within the last two years.

The conflict between the status quo and a new, albeit vague, direction was apparent during the nearly hour-long segment of the forum allotted for school board candidates.

They answered questions on the school district’s budget, standardized testing and student performance, among other topics.

Mr. Crews’ opponent Clayton Griffis, a corrections officer who has family members who are teachers and students, advocated looking to higher-rated districts for ways to improve locally.

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Glen meth maker arrested

GriffisA Maxville man who had been living in a Glen St. Mary trailer park was arrested the afternoon of July 26 for operating a meth lab at his residence off George Taber Blvd.

Police acted on a tip from a neighbor that had been passed on to the park landlord Josie Davis and arrested Bradley Griffis, 20, while seizing ingredients and other equipment from a bedroom at the residence he rented on Twin Oaks Lane.

Among the evidence seized was a plastic bottle that sheriff’s investigator John Hardin described as a “sludge pot” of cooked ingredients used to manufacture the highly addictive methamphetamine.

Mr. Griffis told the investigator and other officers at the scene he was advised on how to make the drug by another inmate while in jail, but that his earlier attempt to do so had been unsuccessful.

“It didn’t turn out good; it didn’t get me high,” the suspect was quoted by the investigator as saying.

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Sex abuse trial postponed

The trial in circuit court of a City of Macclenny employee charged with 11 counts of child molestation was postponed last week due to the illness of Assistant State Attorney Ralph Yazdiya.

It was set to begin on July 30.

The case against Marshall Mann, 47, of Sanderson, the city’s in-house Internet and computer technician, is now more than two years old and he remains free on $50,000 bond. He was arrested in late March, 2010 and again shortly after that when another alleged victim emerged.

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