Accomplishments

Accomplishments
A new building for Agricultural Education was near completion on September 30, 2019, and has since been completed and opened. The project was 100% grant-funded through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at a cost of $480,000. The building houses the offices for the IFAS Extension Agent and 4-H Program. It contains a teaching kitchen and outside pavilion that will be well-suited for livestock shows.

Improvements to the O.J. Phillips Recreational Complex were completed in cooperation with the Rec Board. This was the result of $100,000 in grant funds from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity through the Florida Recreational Development Assistance Program (FRDAP). ADA parking and sidewalks were installed, the basketball court was resurfaced, new lighting was added to baseball and softball fields, bathrooms were added and improved and a new playground was built.

Two road maintenance projects were completed in 2019, funded by grants from the Florida Department of Transportation: Sapp Cemetery Road and County Road 199. The total cost for these roads was $2.6 million.

Future Plans
Additional road resurfacing projects are planned to be completed in 2020, funded by Florida Department of Transportation Grants: SW 63rd Drive, SW 150th Loop and SE 8th Avenue. Also, there are plans to partner with the Town of Raiford to assist with municipal road grants.

Union County received State funds in 2019 of $100,000 and is budgeted to receive an additional $400,000 in 2020 for courthouse security screenings. Preliminary engineering work is currently ongoing, and construction is anticipated to begin in 2020. While the county is small, security has become a concern throughout the nation in recent years. The courthouse is the site for court events for high-risk inmates, which brings additional security concerns.

An additional $165,000 grant has been awarded for the O.J. Phillips Recreational Complex. Improvements will include additional lighting for baseball and softball fields, and the construction and lighting of a football/soccer field.

Major Challenges
In 2019, Union County incurred substantial legal expenses in relation to multiple law suits filed against the county regarding potential phosphate mining. Costs incurred by the county were approximately $175,000. Additionally, the County faced an infestation of Mexican Brown Bats in the historic courthouse and other nearby buildings. The bats were removed following strict guidelines (as they are a protected species), and bat houses were constructed in nearby locations to prevent them from returning. The repair and cleanup from the infestation took several months to complete and cost $36,000.

Source: 2019 – Popular Annual Financial Report