Two parking spots outside of the Clay County Administration Building are now exclusively for veterans.
The Clay County Board of Commissioners officially unveiled “veterans-only” parking outside of the building in Green Cove Springs Tuesday afternoon.
“So many veterans go to that location to conduct business, such as with the county’s Veteran Service Officer or with the tax collector,” said veteran Gary Newman.
Newman is a retired Navy petty officer and vice president of the Vietnam Veterans America Florida State Council Branch.
He said he brought the idea to the county commission during a meeting in May. Two months later, the idea came to fruition.
“The Board of County Commissioners and Clay County have been very proactive when it comes to veteran issues,” Newman said. “The veteran community really appreciates what they do for them.”
The county commission unanimously agreed to install the signs soon after the suggestion was made.
“Once we heard the idea, I think everybody liked it,” said Mike Cella, the county commissioner for Clay County’s first district. “In Clay County, we have probably over 30,000 retired military veterans here. We just thought, ‘what a great way to be able to say thank you for your service.’”
Cella said the spots won’t be checked to make sure veterans are the only people parking there because it would have required a monitoring system.
“I think in Clay County with the respect we have for veterans, I don’t think you’re going to have too much of a problem with that,” Cella said.
Newman said service from Clay County has been solid on multiple levels when it comes to veterans. In March, the county manager helped Newman organize a Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day in Green Cove Springs.
The city has a veteran’s office in Green Cove Springs where vets receive help filling out paperwork and finding programs they qualify for without having to travel to Jacksonville or Gainesville.
The county hosts an outreach event for homeless veterans at the North Florida Community Action Agency on the first Tuesday of every month in Orange Park.
In late September, the county will also host its third annual Veterans Appreciation Day at the Moosehaven retirement community.
“We’re just trying to let them know that we appreciate them,” Cella said. “We appreciate their service. We’re happy to have them here as citizens and residents in Clay County.”
Veterans such as Newman appreciate the recognition. “This is a wonderful thing for all of us,” Newman said. “Knowing they have our back.”