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The Levy County Commission unanimously rejected the application of Williston Atheists to place a grantie bench with various texts on the county courthouse forum.
Discussion opened with the commission citing a staff report that the application failed to satisfy the county's Monument Placement Guidelines.
Courtroom A, where the meeting was held Tuesday morning, was filled with residents and some non-residents interested n the issue.
More details in Thursday's Chiefland Citizen.
• How to contact commissioners, see below
The Levy County Commission has reserved the biggest room available in the courthouse in Bronson for its regular Tuesday, Feb. 4, meeting at 9 a.m. where it anticipates a large turnout.
Two items on the agenda are expected to draw a crowd and provoke debate:
• An application by Williston Atheists to place a monument on the forum next to the county courthouse where a Ten Commandments monument is located. The commission, which received the application at its last meeting on Jan. 21, is required to vote on the application at its next regular meeting by its Monument Placement Guidelines.
• A request by a Bronson newspaper publisher to be named the newspaper of record for legal notices and delinquent tax rolls even though the county has not had a newspaper of record in modern times. Andy Andrews sought the designation at the commission's Jan. 21 meeting but the matter was tabled. The county's tax rolls, which rotate among Andrews' publication, the Chiefland Citizen and the Williston Pioneer in alternating years, represent more than $60,000 in income to the newspaper that publishes it.
Ray Sparrow of the Williston Atheists said he does not expect to address the county commission at Tuesday's meeting. But said if he is asked to do so by the commissioners, he will.
In the application submitted by Sparrow, the groups said it wants to place a “granite bench dedicated to citizens of Levy County who are non-believers and who are not represented by the Ten Commandments monument ? many of whom are veterans and for whom our Constitution has explicit application.”
Sparrow said the group would like to avail itself of the opportunity to educate the public. “We're not doing this to cause strife or anything,” Sparrow said in a phone interview. “We want to be treated equally and fairly.” Religious beliefs, he said, “are not the meat of the issue.”
Both items will be handled as regular business in the meeting, said County Coordinator Fred Moody. The commission has adopted an agenda policy and those attending the meeting need to be aware of the rules governing their participation.
Anyone wanting to address the commission may do so at the beginning of the meeting or at the end of business in time set aside for public comments.
To address a specific issue coming before the commission, citizens must wait until the item comes up on the agenda and after a motion is made and has a second will it be open for discussion by the public. The chair can call for the public comments.
To address the commission, citizens should fill out a public comment form which helps in identifying the person in the official record and audio recording of the meeting.
A copy of the form is available for download at the Chiefland Citizen website, www.chieflandcitizen.com, or at the commission's website, www.levycounty.org. Once the form is downloaded, fill it out and bring it to the meeting.
When the chair calls for comment he will usually designate for speakers to come up by the row in which they are seated. In the event of an overflow crowd, there will still be an opportunity to speak, as the chair will call for comment from the crowd.
Because of the number of citizens expected to turn out for the monument request, there may be some limits imposed on the length of time for speaking ? the commission's police allows limiting comments to three minutes unless the chair changes the limit ? and speakers who repeat points made by others may be asked to simply rise and say in summary which points they agree with or don't.
After the citizens have the opportunity to address the issue the chair will close the floor for comments and the discussion will be limited to the commissioners.
At that point, a commissioner can "call for the vote" and the commission will vote the issue "up" for the motion, or "down" against the motion. The commission usually votes by voice vote, but the chair can hold a roll call votes.
The Public Comment Form used by the County Commission is attached to this story and can be downloaded by clicking on the link. Fill it out and turn it in at the meeting.
How to contact county commissioners
John Meeks, District 1
11750 NE 107 Place
Archer, Florida 32618
HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" email@example.com
Chad Johnson, District 2
P.O. Box 1088
Chiefland, Florida 32644
Mike Joyner, District 3
P.O. Box 271
Morriston, Florida 32668
Ryan Bell, District 4
13 NE 3rd Street
Chiefland, Florida 32626
352-493-0081 ext. 304
Danny Stevens, District 5
4891 NE 205 Avenue
Williston, Florida 32696