BOCC’s first GOP member sworn in

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

The first Republican to serve on the Levy County Commission took office on Tuesday and in her first meeting learned that if you don’t get something on the first try, then try a new tack to get what you want.

Businesswoman Marsha Drew, former council member and vice mayor of Yankeetown, was sworn in by County Judge Joseph Smith at the start of the meeting. The room was packed for the commission’s regular meeting with fans of the new commissioner.

The first item on the agenda a public hearing on a special event application for the Nature Coast Thunder Rally. The application was not filed 60 days in advance of the event, said Rob Corbitt, county building and zoning director.

The motorcycle rally, organized by Diane Alloway and Frank Marino of Yankeetown, is expected to draw 500 bikers to Scooter Haven April 10-12.

Corbitt explained that the reason for the 60-days time for the special event applications is to allow his department to receive input from other departments that deal with big events, such as health, roads, and the sheriff’s office.

Although a check with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office found the event has been held there for two years without a problem, Col. Johnson of the Levy Sheriff’s Office said he would recommend the commission deny it if it mixed motorcycles and alcohol.

Alloway said a local Veterans of Foreign Wars post to allow the non-profit veterans group to raise money for its projects would handle beer sales.

The money raised by the rally would benefit the Boys & Girls Club, a local children’s baseball league and other non-profit projects, Alloway. She said the rally’s money is raised through the poker runs, concerts, food sales, bikini contest, sponsorships and vendor booths, but none would come from beer sales.

Drew said after speaking to many people in the area there was a concern that the event’s hours started at 7 a.m. and asked if the motorcycles would be starting at that hour. Alloway responded that no activity starts before 10 a.m. and the bands would not play before 11 a.m.

Danny Stevens asked why the event was being moved from Citrus County. “Is there something we don’t know there?”

Sheriff’s Capt. Evan Sullivan said he checked with the Citrus Sheriff’s Office and there were no problems with the events.

“I’m a biker too,” Sullivan said. “And bikers sometimes have a bad rap, but I’m looking at Miss Brown (County Attorney Anne Bast Brown) and she rides too. There are business people that ride bikes.”

Several other people rose to defend the event, including Yankeetown Councilman Larry Feldhausen, who said the rally organizers were merely offering the opportunity to the veterans group to make money at the event..

Drew made a motion to allow the event to be held. Commissioner Lilly Rooks asked if the motion included beer sales and Drew said yes.

That motion died for lack of a second. Rooks mentioned to Drew that she could move to have the event without the alcohol.

Drew made the motion to allow the event without alcohol sales. Rooks seconded it and the motion passed 3-1 with Commission Chair Nancy Bell voting against it.