Proposed $1.5 Million CRA Grant for Southside Health Facility Generates Heated Debate

Proposed $1.5 Million CRA Grant for Southside Health Facility Generates Heated Debate


The CRA voted 6-2 in favor of the $1.5 million grant to Big Bend Cares. Voting for the grant were County Commissioner’s Maddox, Lindley, Dozier, City Commissioner’s Miller, Richardson, and Mayor Gillum.

Voting against were City Commissioner Scott Maddox and County Commissioner Bill Proctor.

Those who supported the project talked about the redevelopment upgrade the project brings to the southside.

Those who voted against the project questioned supporting a non-profit that does not pay taxes with tax payer dollars and the potential impact of the facility of the Bond Health Care Center.


At the September 24, 2015 Community Redevelopment Agency meeting, City and County Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the approval of the Big Bend Cares application for grant funds in the amount of $1.5 million.

The funds are to assist with construction of a 27,000 SF medical facility located at the corner of South Monroe Street and Magnolia Drive.

The request by Big Bend Cares is seen by the CRA staff as a way to address blight and to provide more health care choices for southside residents.

However, the request has generated a heated debate among members of the southside community.

And while some residents support the project, others have raised concerns. Some of the concerns have been answered and others that open questions about the impact of the project.

Proposed location of new Big Bend Cares facility

First the request.

Big Bend Cares, currently located on the southeast corner of Magnolia and South Monroe, has provided educational and comprehensive support to people infected with HIV/AIDS in Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor and Wakulla counties since 1987.  Big Bend Cares is planning an expansion of their services through the construction and operation of a comprehensive medical facility on South Monroe Street, immediately to the west of their existing facility on the SE corner of South Monroe Street and Magnolia Drive.

The proposed facility will be a two story 27,700 SF facility dedicated to a variety of medical services.  The first floor will include space for clinical, dental, laboratory, and mental health services.  The second floor will include space for a pharmacy, administrative offices and future office expansion.  The proposed facility is located within the Greater Frenchtown/Southside (GFS) redevelopment district.

Now the concerns.

Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor, a member of the CRA, told TR he will oppose the grant because he believes the money will be used to support operation expenses for Big Bend Cares and “that is not what the CRA is supposed to fund.”

“We are suppose to fund bricks and mortar, not day to day operation expenses”, said Proctor.

Others are concerned that the project will put the Bond Community Health Center out of business.


Based on CRA documents, Big Bend Cares has stated they will only be able to see insured patients because their Medicare C coverage only pays for insured patients.

Some on the southside view this as unfair competition with Bond Community Health Center and see the real possibility of Big Bend Cares taking insured patients away from the Bond facility. Bond serves both insured and uninsured patients. Ultimately, some say, Bond will not be able to survive under these conditions.

What does leadership at Bond have to say? Not much and this is where it gets interesting.

TR has not been able to find anyone from Bond to publicly take a position on the issues others have raised.


Some believe that the process is full of conflicts and something sinister is taken place.

TR has confirmed that Antonio Jefferson, the Chair of Bond’s Board of Directors, is also the City Manager of Gretna. In addition, Clarence Jackson, the Mayor of Gretna, serves on the Big Bend Cares board.

TR was told of another link to the City of Gretna. Harold Knowles, who is the City Attorney for the City of Gretna, also serves as legal counsel for Bond Community Health.

Critics say the fact that a Gretna city commissioner, Clarence Jackson, “signs the paychecks” of Jefferson and Knowles, explains why Bond is not taking a public position against the grant.

TR will be at the CRA meeting and will file an update.

11 Responses to "Proposed $1.5 Million CRA Grant for Southside Health Facility Generates Heated Debate"

  1. Once again decisions made for a community and not with a community. I am perplexed at the support to fund an organization that historically has not provided the level and type of medical services described in this article and through the funding approves of services to insured persons only. I imagine the impact to Bond Health Center will be significant, but according to this article the leadership of Bond has been silent. I suspect there is a lot going on behind the scene in Tallahassee these days, but “the truth will out”.

    1. At least the $7.2 million sidewalk in the sky won’t kill you. The Big Bend Cares property contains benzo(a)pyrene in the soil. This is a carcinogen that may kill you.

      Leadership Tallahassee Architect Bonnie Johnson, working for Big Bend Cares, has reportedly known about this cancer causing agent in the soil for more than a year.

      But the Black community has not known. Even Commissioner Proctor, whose district contains this cancer causing agent, reportedly was not told.

      Big Bend Cares CEO Rob Renzi has yet to explain, to my knowledge, how the benzo(a)pyrene will be removed from the soil. (Renzi is another member of the Leadership Tallahassee tribe.)

      Is this the same old environmental racism that is routinely directed at communities that are black or poor? When will this end?

  2. This article is very opinionated. This article is not news. I’m appalled by the accusation that Jefferson and Knowles would not state an opinion on the facility because of a connection to Jackson. First of all, he hasn’t been the mayor for two or three years. Even if he were, he’s just one vote on the commission. You’re questioning all of these men’s integrity, but masking it as news.
    Any fighter for healthcare in our communities, wouldn’t care where the services come from, as long as the service are rendered. Our people need adequate healthcare. Whether it comes from Bond, NMC or BBC, I only want to see the needs of our people met. I’m sick of the politics!

    Shame on this paper for just publishing CRAP and calling it news!!!!!

  3. ” the money will be used to support operation expenses for Big Bend Cares and “that is not what the CRA is supposed to fund.”

    Translation: the money will find a way in to the wrong pockets.

  4. my experience with this cast of characters suggests that you are on to something. As the Amway recruiter says: “Keep looking at it ’til you see it.”

    1. Antonio Jefferson and Harold Knowles equal bad news. Do either of them have a moral compass?

      I fought both of them when they tried to build a biomass incinerator next to overwhelmingly black Gretna Elementary School.

      We stopped them!

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