About Jefferson

About Jefferson County

Overview
Natural & Environmental
Recreation & Entertainment
Our General Population
Educational and Research Facilities
Library
Health Care & Protective Services
Banking, Insurance & Legal Services
Churches
Transportation Services
Communications Services
Local Government, Zoning & Development
Utilities & Services

Jefferson County: Florida's Keystone County...
Jefferson County is located in the heart of "the other Florida," the Florida of rolling hills and stately oaks draped in wispy Spanish moss. Situated in the state's Panhandle, it is the only county that extends from Georgia on the north to the Gulf of Mexico on the south. Known as the "Keystone County," it is approximately mid-way between Jacksonville, Florida's northern-most Atlantic port and Pensacola, one of her largest Gulf ports. Monticello, the county's seat of government, is just 23 miles east of Florida's capital city of Tallahassee, and is fast becoming one of that thriving city's favorite "bedroom communities."

In contrast to the more familiar southern peninsula of Florida, our area experiences four distinct seasons. The balmy summers for which our state is renowned flow into the cooler months of autumn and winter, replete with the magical color of changing leaves. Our short-lived winters give way early in the year to usher in one of nature's more intense displays of springtime rejuvenation. Indeed, even the least nature-lover is all but overwhelmed by the explosion of color experienced here each spring! This mild climate, combined with an average annual rainfall of 57 inches, provides not only a prolonged and prolific growing season, but also a pleasant year-round environment for both work and leisure activities. Our mean annual temperature is a pleasant 67 degrees, ranging from an average January temperature of 51 to an average of 81 in July. Open spaces, rolling hills and clean, fresh air.

For people who are looking for plenty of elbow room, Jefferson County offers thousands of wooded acres and gently rolling hills. Ponds and lakes of all sizes liberally dot this pastoral landscape, covering a full 11 square miles of the county's 609 square mile area. Lake Miccosukee alone sprawls over 6200 acres along our northwest border, offering bountiful fishing and recreational opportunities. Three major rivers, the Wacissa, Aucilla and St. Marks cover hundreds more acres of the county, running through miles of virtually untouched forest and marshlands. One of these, the lovely Wacissa River, has been designated as a state canoe trail by the Florida Department of Natural Resources. Flowing from Wacissa Springs in the southern part of the county, the river meanders its way through mile after mile of unspoiled countryside, finally joining the Aucilla and St. Marks to empty into the Gulf of Mexico. This is the point, at the southern tip of the county, where you'll find the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, which spans six to seven miles of Gulf coast as well as nearly 9,000 acres of federally protected lands within Jefferson County alone. The St. Marks Refuge is one of the Northern Hemisphere's final stops for the magnificent Monarch butterflies, which migrate to South America by the millions each October. The nearby Gulf of Mexico offers something for every saltwater enthusiast. Its sugar-sand beaches and balmy waters may be enjoyed from the comfort of well-developed tourist meccas or the most pristine camping areas, and everything in between.

Low taxes, reasonable land prices and a low crime rate combine with our mild climate and natural beauty to make Jefferson County attractive to retirees and others weary of the crowded, crime-ridden population centers. Coexisting side-by-side with the mini-farms are horse farms, large private hunting preserves, and large-acreage nursery, beef, dairy and crop farms. Majestic plantations grace our area as well, such as the 8100-acre Avalon Plantation owned by media and sports magnate Ted Turner of Atlanta, which further attests to the beauty and serenity of our county.

Monticello is the site of stately turn-of-the-century homes and public buildings, many of which are listed on the National Historic Register. Built by wealthy land barons and northern industrialists who first recognized the advantages of life in the area, they represent some of the best architectural styles of the period. The First Presbyterian Church, rebuilt in 1868 following a fire, is a wonderful example of typical American style with a distinctly Southern flavor. Built with bricks laboriously hauled from South Carolina by ox cart, its intricate interior detailing was finished in native hardwoods and exhibits the handiwork of master woodworkers. The restoration of other local landmarks such as The Monticello Opera House (1890) and Florida's oldest brick school building (1852) further attest to the community's continuing appreciation of its rich past, while it looks eagerly to its promising future. The old school building is currently in the process of conversion to a Senior Citizens' Center through community-wide effort of fund-raising, planning and coordination.

History buffs may delve further into the relatively "ancient" history of the North American continent at many area sites, some dating from the 14th and 15th Centuries.

>>Read more about Jefferson County’s History & Culture

Natural & Environmental
Jefferson County is in the northern part of the Florida Peninsula. The region known as the "Big Bend" for the arc of Gulf of Mexico shoreline where the panhandle meets the peninsula. It is bordered to the north by Georgia; on the west by Leon and Wakulla Counties; on the east by Taylor and Madison Counties; and to the south by the Gulf of Mexico. The county covers 392,365 acres, or 611 square miles. It is about 39 miles from north to south and about 24 miles wide at the widest point. There are about six miles of coastline. The county is known as the "Keystone County," the only county bordering Georgia and extending to the Gulf.

>>More about Jefferson County’s Natural & Environmental Resources

Recreation & Entertainment
The quality of life offered by Jefferson county's natural beauty is enhanced by the availability of a diverse number of recreational facilities and organized activities. Tennis courts, golf courses, city parks, camp grounds and two country clubs, Jefferson County Country Club, just north of Monticello, and Tartaruga near Ashville, provide residents with excellent opportunities for exercise and relaxation in and around Monticello. Little League baseball, softball and other planned recreational activities are sponsored by the Jefferson County Recreation Department. These compliment other outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, boating, hiking, cycling, and canoeing at sites throughout the county. A jazz-exercise, aerobics and dance studio also has an enthusiastic following in Monticello.

Those who prefer the less strenuous activity of spectator sports may also enjoy many live sporting events throughout the year. The Jefferson County Kennel Club, located three miles north of Monticello, offers pari-mutuel dog racing from mid-January through mid-December, and features a full-service clubhouse. Nearby Tallahassee is home to two of the state's major universities, which offer top-ranked competition in a number of sports. The Florida State University "Seminoles" and the Florida A&M "Rattlers" annually field some of the nation's top-ranked teams in football, basketball, baseball, softball, tennis, track and field and other sports for both men and women. This area is also host to the Sprint Classic Golf Tournament, the LPGA's richest competition, held each April in Tallahassee. The annual Georgia-Florida Field Trial Competitions, held at one of Jefferson County's beautiful plantations, draws champion bird dogs from across the country for one of that sport's largest events.

Amid all of its turn-of-the-century splendor, the fully-restored Monticello Opera House now hosts seasonal performances of plays, musicals, ballets and various light entertainment, as well as films, lectures and travelogues. This landmark and other historically important buildings are the highlights of the bi-annual Tour of Homes, sponsored by the Jefferson County Historical Society. The tour allows visitors rare access to some of our stately private homes; the Chamber of Commerce offers weekly guided tours and self-guided walking tours are encouraged throughout the year.

The close proximity to Tallahassee and Thomasville also enables our county residents to enjoy the many recreational and cultural events that take place in those cities. University and civic theatre groups, the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra and the Tallahassee Civic Ballet join with area museums, art galleries and other places of interest, to offer year-round cultural activities. The Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center and the Florida State University Conference Center play hosts to major sporting events, concerts, rodeo and circus performances, exhibitions and meetings of all kinds.

A local tradition since 1949, our Watermelon Festival takes place during the last week of June each year. Its activities, sponsored by local civic groups, include arts and crafts displays, parade, golf tournament, 5-K run, rodeo, softball tournament, a Bar-B-Q Supper/Street Dance, and our annual Watermelon Queen Pageant.

For anyone seeking the perfect combination of true country living with the ready availability of big city amenities, Jefferson County offers the perfect choice for relocation. Far from the slush and snow of the overpopulated Northeast Seaboard and the overgrown metropolitan areas of central and south Florida, Jefferson County and Monticello represent the laid-back, relaxed advantages of rural America, while still lying within easy reach of major recreational, cultural, educational and research facilities. Low local taxes, a broad spectrum of available workforce and state-of-the-art technological resources further enhance the overall appeal of this area for business and light industrial interests as well.

>>Read more about Recreation & Tourism in Jefferson County

Our General Population
Jefferson County's population of just over 13,000 is well balanced in terms of age, race and sex. Approximately 37 percent of our population is in the prime-employment age bracket of 18-44. Almost 2000 retirees call Jefferson County home, many having relocated from other areas. Monticello, the county seat, is a small but progressive community of about 3000, proud of its rich north Florida heritage and the high quality of life. Ours is a well-educated populace. Unemployment is generally steady at 5.5% or less, consistently among the lowest rates in Florida.

>>Read more about Economic Development

Educational and Research Facilities
The Jefferson County Public School system consists of four schools: Jefferson Elementary (Pre-K through fourth), Howard Middle School (grades 5-8), Jefferson High (grades 9-12) and the Jefferson County Adult Center which has a GED preparation program. One private school, Aucilla Christian Academy, also provides instruction from kindergarten through grade 12. There are approximately 325 computers being used for student instruction, with an introduction to computers beginning at the kindergarten level. With one of the lowest student-teacher ratios in the state and extensive renovations completed at both the middle school and high school, the Jefferson County School system prides itself in providing a quality education in a positive environment. All of our county schools are designated Drug-Free School Zones.

Two nationally recognized state universities, Florida State and Florida A&M, are located in Tallahassee, which along with Tallahassee Community College and Lively Vocational-Technical College, serve more than 45,000 students. Two-year and/or 4-year degrees are also available at Valdosta State College (Georgia), North Florida Community College, Thomas County Community College (Georgia) and the Troy State University (Alabama) adjunct college. Vocational training is also available at Thomasville Vo-Tech (Georgia) and a private business-studies school, Keiser College, offers a variety of course studies.

Business and industrial researchers will find two of the world's few "supercomputers," a CYBER 205 and the nation's first ETA-10, located on the Florida State University campus in Tallahassee. Along with the Supercomputer Computations Research Institute (SCRI), FSU is home of the Tandem Van de Graaf Superconducting Accelerator and the Center for Materials Research and Technology. Florida State also boasts the new National High Magnetic Field Laboratories, the only such installation in the Southeast, having beaten some stiff competition - including MIT - for this high-tech honor. Florida A&M University counts one of the country's premiere business schools, full pharmacology and architectural programs and the International Translation Center (ITC) among its tutorial assets.

Library
The Jefferson County Library was first established in 1904. Since 1987, JCPL has been housed in a refurbished turn-of-the-century hotel, located one block from the Jefferson County Courthouse, in the center of town. Its ever-expanding collection includes videos, CDs, books-on-tape, magazine subscriptions and large-print books accessible through an automated card catalog and circulation system. Children's Story Hours, adult reading classes and a comfortable meeting room also help make the JCPL a truly "user-friendly" community facility. The JCPL works closely with Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA) to provide help for adults who would like to learn to read or to improve their reading skills. Tutors are also available to teach English as a second language. The Library is a member of the Wilderness Coast Consortium, made up of Franklin, Wakulla, and Jefferson Counties.

Health Care & Protective Services
Jefferson County is fortunate to have three medical facilities with a combined total of seven physicians to serve its residents. Two dentists and one optometrist also offer excellent service within the county. Our elderly population enjoys the security of knowing that three facilities, with a combined total of more than 175 beds, provide both independent and communal living as well as full-service extended care. Three major hospitals are situated within 30 miles and are immediately accessible through Life Flight emergency helicopter services.

Jefferson County Fire Rescue responds out of Monticello with emergency ambulance vehicles and a Rescue Unit, equipped with the "Jaws of Life." Jefferson County Fire Rescue also protects our citizens with Class-A Pump Trucks, assisted by the county's five Volunteer Fire Departments. Each volunteer department is capable of responding with a Class-A Pumper and a tanker or brush truck.

Law enforcement services are provided by three separate agencies, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, the Monticello Police Department and the Florida Highway Patrol. Resource Officers are assigned to school campuses.

Banking, Insurance & Legal Services
Monticello is home to two commercial banks, Farmer's & Merchants Bank and Capital City Bank of Jefferson County, with assets of more than $70 million. We have one CPA, two Accountants and a Certified Financial Planner who serve the needs of our residents from their offices in Monticello. Stock brokerages are located in nearby Tallahassee. Major insurance companies are well represented by six local agents. Legal affairs of our residents are ably handled by a dozen or more attorneys in private practice within the county.

Churches
Our community churches include Assembly of God, Baptist, Baptist Union Congregation, Church of Christ, Church of God, Episcopal, Jehovah's Witnesses, Methodist, Nazarene, Presbyterian, Pentecostal Holiness, Roman Catholic, Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and numerous African Methodist Episcopal congregations. A Jewish Synagogue, a Jewish Temple, a Greek Orthodox Church, an Islamic center, and many other churches and independent congregations are located in Tallahassee, within 25 miles of Monticello.

Transportation Services
Tallahassee Regional Airport, 35 miles to the west provides many daily flights through its major airlines and numerous regional commuter services. Tallahassee's airport offers a separate facility for private charter, air-cargo and private aircraft maintenance services. Reads Field, near Monticello, serves the area's private aircraft owners with a 4,000-foot grass runway and available aircraft tie-downs.

Amtrak passenger rail service is available out of Tallahassee. The Greyhound Bus Line serves Monticello. Five U.S. Highways, including Interstate 10, run directly through the county and close to Monticello.

Communications Services
The Sprint/Centel-Florida Telephone Company provides full telephone service to area subscribers, with toll-free calling to Tallahassee. "911" emergency communication service is also available.

Cable TV service is available throughout downtown Monticello. County residents receive strong signals from the major networks and PBS via antenna or satellite.

The Monticello News, published twice weekly, keeps residents abreast of local information. Major daily newspapers from Tallahassee and Jacksonville, as well as USA Today are also available. Other communications systems such as wire and facsimile services and overnight deliveries are also readily available.

Local Government, Zoning & Development
Jefferson County has gone from a community with almost no development codes to an area with one of the most progressive land-use plans in the state. A strong desire to control growth without restricting development reflects the fierce civic pride inherent in the county's residents and government leaders. The County offers a high quality of life and an energetic and cooperative climate for business and clean industry. The formation of the Community Development Corporation of Jefferson County is proof of the willingness of local government and the community-at-large to encourage progress and development within the county. County and city governments are operated through a commission structure which allows for maximum citizen input.

>>More about Jefferson County Board of County Commission

Utilities & Services
The county's electrical power is provided by two companies, Florida Power Corporation and Tri-County Electric Cooperative. Electrical utility rates are among the lowest in Florida. Four fuel oil and three LP gas distributors serve the county's other energy needs.

The primary water source in Jefferson County, as in all of north Florida, is the Floridan Aquifer. From this source, the City of Monticello supplies water service to all of the city's population and some adjacent areas, with private wells providing the remainder. The City of Monticello also provides sanitary sewer collection and treatment service within the city limits and 2 1/2 miles north, on US 19. Water and sewer services have been extended to the US 19 / I-10 interchange five miles to the south.

An Industrial Park, located just five miles south of Monticello, on US 19, is served by the CSX Railroad from the property adjacent, also zoned for industrial use.

Jefferson County Government