from WZEP news, with emphasis added: Walton County to Adopt Hancock County Mississippi and Help Habitat Walton Commissioners agreed with a south Walton Hurricane Relief Group?s request to adopt Hancock County Mississippi and to assist Habitat for Humanity to build small portable homes. The commissioners are planning to give $250,000 to help build homes if legal ok?s the idea. Buster Woodruff recently told the Walton Commissioners a group in south Walton was created after Hurricane Katrina. He explained they wanted to bring relief to evacuees as well as those in the effected area. They have made about 8 trips to Mississippi by bringing together church groups, Seaside, businesses and others to meet needs. The group was able to send a cargo plane to the disaster area soon after the storm. They started with immediate needs here and found there is a need to go to the people in the disaster area. He explained the need is for housing and asked commissioners to work with them and Habitat for Humanity to adopt Hancock County in Mississippi. Woodruff explained they have community and business support. A request was made for an official resolution to adopt Hancock County as a sister community. The request asks for help in meeting needs through sharing expertise, sending delegations, keeping supply areas open and to work with keeping the needs in the public?s mind. It was pointed out Hancock County is similar to Walton County. Administrator Ronnie Bell said a lot of emergency personnel from Walton helped in Hancock County and called the idea outstanding. He explained there are a lot of employees and others who want to participate in additional support. Woodruff said they have an opportunity to go there and build the community back. Commissioner Cindy Meadows said she has been keeping up with the group?s work and said they have done an outstanding job. Meadows made a motion to approve the resolution. The motion passed. Habitat for Humanity then made a request for $250,000 from the commissioners to assist with building 15 small temporary units between 400 and 500 square feet and will come furnished. The units will be set up on private property, and do not have to be in a FEMA facility. The units would be used temporarily then used by others or converted to permanent housing. If the units are not claimed as permanent housing they would be given back to Walton County. The program could mean a return of funds to Walton County if the homes are sold under standards HUD uses called SHOP standards. Commissioner Ro Cuchens made a motion to grant the funds contingent on the county attorney, finance and administration reviewing the requests to determine if it is legal and finding a funding source. Commissioner Meadows said she would be in favor of waiting two weeks for staff to get information. Habitat said they have funds to begin and the two weeks would not hold them up. Cuchens said he realizes the need for the action to take place quick and would hope if Walton was in a similar situation other counties would come to their aid. The motion carried 4-0 with commissioner Brannon absent. Habitat for Humanity of Walton County says as they have teamed with South Walton Hurricane Helpers and others to adopt Hancock County, Mississippi in a mass rebuilding effort, they will be using house packages from New Hope Construction, which is where their Habitat affiliate purchases home packages. Habitat says this will speed the building process dramatically, and allow them to stretch funds much further to build even more homes. They are working on putting construction teams together. Habitat says to contact them if you are interested in helping. To get a better idea of how great it is to be a part of this effort; please go to www.mississippirenewal.com ?????.. There are a LOT of folks who do not agree with this. Not to be cold-hearted to our friends in Mississippi, but we can't pay for lifeguards on the beach, a decent animal control facility, or to pave the dangerous red clay roads in the north end of our county...but we can send funds to Mississippi. Personal donating is wonderful and needs to continue, but I'm not sure I'm comfortable with our tax dollars being shipped off (especially with Wilma on the horizon). How do y'all feel?