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Bronson votes to pass on old gym

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

Bronson Town Council members voted 3-0 Monday night in favor of dropping proposed negotiations with the Levy County School Board about town use or ownership of the old Bronson High School Gym.
“I don’t really want to do business with the school board,” said Vice Mayor Berlon Weeks in reference to a recent letter sent to the town by Schools Superintendent Bob Hastings.
Hastings’ letter was in response to a letter sent from the town seeking to set up a meeting with school board officials on the possibility of the town making use of the gym, either through renting or purchase. Hastings’ letter started off stating that the board looked forward to hearing a proposal from the town, then suddenly changed tone, stating that school board officials had never told anyone that the building was being offered for the $1,000,000-plus figure that Bronson council members had discussed at their last meeting and that it was obvious that “rumors” about the school board were being started at council meetings.
Council member Beatrice Roberts said she was “offended” by the letter’s change in tone toward the end.
Council member Jason Kennedy said Monday that the gym’s value discussed came from the county property appraiser, and added that he thought the town had approached the possibility of using the gym “in a very positive way.”
Town Clerk Kelli Brettel said the letter she sent was the third or fourth attempt to set up a meeting with the school board on the matter.
“We’ve been talking about this for a year,” Weeks said, “but we can’t get anything … except nasty little comments ….”
He then suggested the town look at building a new facility, offering certain areas in the town’s park as potential building sites. “There are plenty of places,” he said, shortly before stating that it was the school board that first approached the town about use of the gym.
Kennedy, considering the age and condition of the gym, said it might wind up being a “money pit,” which wouldn’t be looking out for taxpayer money.
Roberts said she’s always suggested the town build its own gym, adding that it would be a “better use of the money.”
In other matters:
• The council unanimously tabled a decision on signing a mutual aid agreement set between the county’s various cities for fire protection services.
Several council members, pointing out that such an agreement with the county already exists, asked Bronson Fire Chief Jeff DiMaggio why the agreement was necessary.
DiMaggio said he wasn’t sure if it was, adding that it was started by officials in Chiefland.
“I don’t know that we should even entertain this,” Weeks said, stating that it might conflict with the county’s agreement.
Kennedy asked why Bronson was never even consulted on the matter or offered an explanation of why it was necessary.
Roberts made a motion to table the matter until it could be clarified.