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Jackson County plans revitalization, memorial on Dozier School grounds

Posted at 11:19 PM, Jul 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-20 23:19:09-04

MARIANNA, Fla. (WTXL) — Jackson County has major plans for the former Dozier School for Boys campus in Marianna.

The Dozier School for Boys place for troubled kids that has a troubled past with documented cases of abuse, as well as 27 possible graves on campus.

The county is looking to spark economic growth on those grounds and honor the lives lost at the school.

Stephanie Wilson-Johnson says the Dozier School for Boys will forever be a part of her family.

"When I read about it, it had me in tears just to think about what they went through," said Wilson-Johnson.

Her fiancee lived there for some time.

"He had been there when he was a juvenile, getting into little troubles and stuff," Wilson-Johnson said.

The school closed in 2011.

It's known for its controversial history with more than 500 alleging beatings and mental and sexual abuse, along with the 27 possible graves.

But soon, this property could be the home of economic growth in Marianna.

Following Hurricane Michael, Jackson County's new "Endeavor Project" could revitalize the area.

"We have had plans ever since to make the property really just a catalyst for development in Jackson County," said Wilanne Daniels, a Jackson County administrator.

With a $5.8 million grant to go towards the project, the county says the history of the lot will not be forgotten.

"We have a vision of creating a museum on the property in the old cafeteria," Daniels said. "So there will be places on the property that are memorialized and a place to not forget."

Daniels says with Hurricane Michael making such a devastating impact on the county, especially Marianna this will be a win.

People in the area are on board and ready, and Wilson-John said she's ready for others to see, "how something that bad came to be something good."

The county says they will finish the final steps in the next month and hope to start debris removal and some structure demolition in a year.