Board of County Commissioners

Gadsden County, Florida

Bicentennial Celebration Workshop

April 12, 2023

5:00 p.m.


Present:               Kimblin NeSmith, Chair, District 3

                                Eric Hinson, Vice-Chair, District 1

                                Alonzetta Simpkins, District 2

Brenda Holt, District 4

                                Ronterious “Ron” Green, District 5

                                Edward J. Dixon, County Administrator

                                Clayton Knowles, County Attorney

                                Marcella Blocker, Deputy Clerk

                                Adriana Quijada, Secretary to the Boards



     Chairman welcomed everyone. Simpkins provided invocation. Chairman led to pledge of allegiance.





Welcome and Introduction


   Chairman welcomed and thanked everyone for being there. Stated they will discuss prep for 200-year anniversary. Was their opportunity to discuss this. He stated he has insights on this.





   Dixon stated they will seek today direction on how to move going forward for the bicentennial project plan. He stated it would be community based and community focused. 



Discussion and Direction of Bicentennial Celebration


    Dixon mentioned the budget that was set up. $200,000


He stated community engagement was important. Dixon said Gadsden County will turn 200 on June 24th.


He stated Gadsden County used to be from GA boarder to coast. Trying to put together a Hodge podge of things and opportunities they could take. If they wanted websites, street signage, broadcast, etc.


   Stated looking at stakeholders present. Looking for guidance, no decisions have been made other than giving timeline.


    Chairman stated he had ideas to get started.


   He asked Dixon if there was a theme. Dixon stated no.


   Green stated they needed a theme. Should be something to utilize during Christmas parade to have on floats.


   Holt mentioned the year 1824 and the history. Include something from each genre, multicultural. She described history of culture to celebrate.


   Green asked to give until Tuesday to suggest a theme.


   Holt suggested “Gadsden County Melting Pot”.


   Chairman stated to bring it up again Tuesday.


   Green stated they have already approved $200,00 but does not mean can spend all. Already been approved.


   Chairman asked Dixon regarding stakeholders if they included Coca-Cola.


   Chairman mentioned page 16 of 16. He mentioned events going on in other cities, was thinking to collaborate with cities to celebrate. He stated it was a Gadsden County celebration.


   Holt stated they voted to give them $25,000. That should be partnering with them already.


   Dixon stated a lot of it was about the look. Pre-ordered flags to raise around Gadsden County.


   Holt stated May Day is next month, need to meet and see what they include from County. If that would be their bicentennial event, need to include history. Need to know what it was they were looking for from them to partner.


   Chairman asked Dixon if they had any preliminary discussions with the city of Gretna regarding this event.


   Dixon stated they had no problems when they talked to them.


   Simpkins stated Gretna event could be intro to bicentennial. Event is already taking place, come up with theme. Introducing bicentennial event there. That is doable. Speaking with town manager from Havana, they were waiting on them to get back with them. They wanted to participate, waiting to come to table. They had a video that was able to go through history to bring community together and showing the film.


   Chairman asked Dixon to follow up on that.


   Green stated Escambia County celebrated 200 years, can look for things from them to see their branding. Would love to see quality gospel artists. If can find artist and utilize some local gospel artists. Maybe an event in fall.


   Simpkins stated the Barbecue and Blues was suggested. Able to bring art center and businesses, the idea was bringing in organizations or municipalities to be a part of it. She stated she believed it occurred in October. Does not have to be during that time.


   Holt stated she keeps mentioning history, because other than that, it would just be activities. People here know a lot of history, does not have anyone to record their stories. That is part of bicentennial. Need to look at how to combine histories and put them together.


   Chairman asked if there was a way to integrate the films together.


   Holt stated it could be combined, just need to see what schedule looks like.


Chairman asked if there is a book of the history.


Holt said there were several. Barnes and Nobles had a book with the history of Gadsden County.


   Green asked if they knew who were the first families in Gadsden County.


   Holt said she was not sure. Need to leave a footprint and is inclusive. In 1826, she would not have been a commissioner. Needed to be a white male and own slaves and property to be a commissioner. Not necessarily a bad thing, when you do research, it is good.  Need to display the rich history that they have.


   Simpkins stated that is where it would be important, to include everyone. If someone in the Church could have input on this and be a part of the planning, they could contact her. Something they need to do. She did not want to celebrate some history; it happened but does not actually want to celebrate. May take segments of the history and each event, focus on specific things. She stated a play would be awesome. Dixon mentioned the Leaf Theatre. They could incorporate their history through these events and activities. Need to look at what part of the history now for Gretna.


   Green stated they could have a storyteller that would focus on an era. With 5 commissioners, each one could nominate someone to be the storyteller or responsible for giving that segment of history. Need to have Gospel music history. He stated he was excited about a potential play happening.


   Chairman asked if they had found someone to bring some history and ideas.


   Green asked how many people were they responsible for bringing. He stated each commissioner could have 2. Each district could have representation. Ask them if they could attend a meeting to hear the vision for the bicentennial.


   Holt stated was a great idea. Need select 2 people.


   Chairman asked who will coordinate to get them together.



   Green stated jokingly that was what they have the administrator for. Green stated they had aids and they could take on that responsibility. They could report back to them. Green stated they would report to Administrator beforehand.


Simpkins stepped out at 5:47PM.


   Holt asked what would it look like. When they appoint someone, they needed to be held by the same rules and regulations. Aids could be one of the 2 people. She stated there is a guy in Greensboro who has outfits for historical events.


Simpkins stepped in at 5:50PM.


   Green stated they could have the 2 names ready by Tuesday to submit to administrator to be a part of committee. He stated he liked idea of selecting two. They would do the recommendations.


   Simpkins stated she saw a charity gala coordination for a bicentennial in a different county. She thinks a charity gala could be able to use for funding of non-profits.


   Green stated it would give them opportunity to work during event. Not just giving hand out, and what they could offer the county.


   Holt stated should not be funding non-profits because they had the ability to raise their own money and apply for Grants. What they do had to be county wide. She mentioned an end of the year Gala, so the non-profits had until then to raise funds.


Hinson stepped in at 5:55PM.


   Chairman stated it was wonderful for community to get involved as the population is increasing. Gala can grow and can fund non-profits from that fund as those organizations become independent and have stability.


  Chairman brought Hinson up to speed.  Chairman stated the May event would be like a launch for the Bicentennial.



   Green stated needed to make sure there is a line of communication.



   Chairman stated to Mr. Dixon need to have discussion with city of Gretna to discuss possibly having launch. Asked for report by Tuesday.


   Chairman asked if the City of Gretna is receptive, what they would like at the launch.


   Green stated a piece of history of the City of Gretna. Encourage the people to look out for what they have coming up for events.


   Holt mentioned treasure hunt they were working on. Banner that maybe has the theme, buy 6 for all towns. Piece of History could be blown up on a Board. She stated these were all just suggestions.


 Green stepped out at 6:01PM.


   Chairman brought Hinson up to speed regarding advisory committee.


   Chairman asked what comes after launch. Simpkins stated July may be next.


   Holt mentioned Juneteenth. She said they need a calendar and put these things on there.


   Dixon stated reach out to stakeholders and find important dates.


   Simpkins stated as far as choosing dates, allow advisory committee to come in and give them that task to see what is taking place.


   Attorney asked how they would set up advisory. Not delegating authority to committee, they would just be fact finding. Still should have them come to public meetings. Maybe add as an agenda item to discuss instead of meeting separately.


   Holt stated once appoint committee, need to do advertising. Need to have access to Sunshine Law.  


   Attorney asked how would they compose it.


    Dixon asked if the Board is appointed by the Administrator, then those rules would not apply.


   Attorney stated he would need to look. Thinks Dixon is right, more concerned since the Commissioners were bringing in 2 people, but not making decisions just bringing in facts.


     Holt stated she wants them to be fact finding. Suggested one of the aids could be one of the people.


  Attorney stated key thing is Delegation of Authority. 


   Chairman stated potential launch event would be May Day in Gretna, pending the Administrator communicating with the leadership in the City of Gretna. Between now and Tuesday Dixon would bring info on that communication. He stated on Tuesday they will bring 2 names for the advisory committee. Also bring recommendations for themes. Once received recommendation, allow Dixon to communicate with them for further meetings.


   Holt stated need a calendar of stuff going on. Also, had people ask her questions about just having one event. People wanted to see what their County is doing.


   Hinson stated was perfect opportunity for Board to execute public-private partnership. Few members of staff, less employees to do certain things. He stated research would be impossible in 2 weeks. The right way would have been having a non-profit organization to take care of this, would have been done correctly. BOCC would have given them funding to bring research together.


Holt stated they were doing a good job, no need to justify.




The Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners welcomes and encourages public participation at all meetings of the Board. Citizens are free to speak for up to three (3) minutes on non-agenda items. Public comments and participation are also encouraged for items on the agenda.  Additionally, if you are unable to attend a meeting in person, comments from the Public can also be submitted via email to until noon on the date of the meeting. Comments submitted after the deadline, but prior to the meeting, will be added to the official record, but the County cannot guarantee that Commissioners and staff will have adequate time to review comments prior to the meeting.  Citizens are further encouraged to participate via Zoom using the credentials on the County’s website. The Board’s meetings are also broadcast live on the Board’s Facebook page.





Meeting adjourned at 6:19PM.





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