Dr. Ed Wright, WestBayFlorida Blog – Last Post

by July 17, 2008 • 0 comments

Dr. Ed Wright, former Dean of FSU-PC and authority on the whole West Bay area, including economic development and the airport relocation, has posted his last post and article on his WestBayFlorida Blog.

I could summarize, but I could never duplicate the effect of the writing itself. Below is the last post, and below is his last article, The Future – It’s More Than Building a New Airport.

Ed, you’ll be sorely missed in our area and online.

I quote in its entirety:

I owe you all an apology for being AWOL for so long.

It’s not that there wasn’t any news – there certainly was. I had expected to take a short hiatus over Christmas and New Years and to think about a new direction for the newsletter focusing on the broader issues of economic development and the need to build a regional identity and marketing approach now that airport construction has gotten underway.

That absence was extended due to some serious health issues with my Mother. She was admitted to a hospital in Jacksonville followed by a rehab facility and then a “nursing home.” It is now clear to my wife and I that we need to become full-time care givers which will require most of our attention and energy. Consequently, the newsletter will not return to cyberspace.

I regret the need to do this but staying engaged in the all that needs to be done from our new home in Melbourne is just not practical. I appreciate those of you who inquired about “what’s going on?’’ And thanks to those of you who actually told me you missed the newsletter and how much you valued it.

I am proud to have been associated with the airport project and will follow its progress. Importantly, in addition to building the airport there is much work to be done in the region to realize the vision that I have consistently referred to as the “opportunity of a generation.”

That work is discussed in the following article which will be my last to be posted to the site.

Let me conclude with high praise for the current Airport Authority Board. These gentlemen have invested an inordinate amount of time and effort in bringing the new airport to actual construction.

I had wanted to spend some time with each of them in an attempt to quantify just how much time and effort they expend in any given month and to tease out the “Why” for that effort. They are uncompensated and frequently unappreciated for their effort. They are extraordinary men who are committed to their community and the future prosperity of Bay County and those who live in Bay County.

I’m convinced that they do it (1) because they think it is an issue critical to the future and (2) they apparently feel they can make a difference. Indeed they have.

Joe Tannehill’s leadership of the Board and singular commitment to what he sees as his role are remarkable and worthy of praise and emulation. He and Bill Cramer log the largest number of hours each day, week, and month and deserve not just our appreciation, but our respect and admiration as well. They have mine, deserve yours and should hear from you as well.

Gerry Clemons has long been a personal champion of mine. His love for, commitment to, and service to Panama City too demands our respect, admiration and appreciation. It troubles me that it might be diminished in any way by discussions about ways in which to honor his and Barbara’s work in just one area of his legacy, the arts.

Bay County is very fortunate to have the kind of leadership people like Joe Tannehill, Bill Cramer and Gerry Clemmons provide. One day, in the not to far distant future, I predict there will be people in Bay County wondering why we didn’t move the airport sooner.

The St. Joe Company, the county’s largest landowner, has also earned my respect. Nearly ten years ago, the Airport Authority asked St. Joe for help with a potential relocation of the airport after efforts to extend the runway at the current site failed. St. Joe agreed to help – and their commitment has made this project possible.

Not only did St. Joe donate 4,000 acres for the airport, they also donated 10,000 acres for mitigation and entered a sector planning process with the county and the state. The resulting West Bay Sector Plan led to the creation of the 40,000 acre West Bay Preservation Area and provided a large-scale, long-term land use plan for northwestern Bay County.

With the airport and the West Bay Sector Plan, we have a blueprint for the future, a real plan that will allow our region to grow responsibly while protecting the best part of Bay County forever.

It’s been an honor and a privilege to participate in this process, and I look forward to the day the maiden flight takes off from the new Panama City – Bay County International Airport. More than that, I look forward to the day ground is broken and the ribbon is cut on the regional employment center just outside the airport gate.


Ed Wright

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