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Copeland given 10-year service award; resigns to accepts job in Green Cove Springs

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Chiefland City commissioners awarded accounting specialist Laurie Copeland for 10 years of service to the city Monday, but the city will be searching for a replacement in the coming weeks.

Copeland stepped down Wednesday as city accounting specialist to accept a job in Green Cove Springs. Copeland also held an accounting position in the Gainesville city government.

The city is accepting applications for a replacement until July 20. Mayor Betty Walker expressed concerns that finding a qualified replacement may take longer than the current deadline at the Monday commission meeting.

The new accounting specialist will also break-in new accounting software since commissioners unanimously voted to switch to Edmunds and Associates accounting applications, moving on from a business accounting program provided by Cougar Mountain.

The commission voted 4-1 to make the switch before hiring new personnel. City Manager Mary Ellzey will negotiate with Edmunds.

Copeland applauded the switch.

“Going from Cougar to one of these programs will be going from driving an old manual to one of the new cars that has a push-button start” Copeland said.

Commissioners also renewed the city employee health insurance plans provided by Florida Blue. The plans will a 5 percent renewal increase.

Tillman Mears, chief operating officer of Regional General Hospital Williston, spoke to the city commission about the hospitals new plans since the recent ownership change.

Mears said he hopes to bring in MRI equipment to the Williston facility.

He said that Regional General is still in the planning stages of bringing a hospital to Chiefland. He is not looking to compete with Gainesville urgent care centers and hospitals and looks to serve those who cannot fully use Gainesville area health services.

The commission will push back action on enacting a fire risk assessment until October. Preliminary rates would be a $40 flat rate for residential properties, $7 for abandoned properties.

Commercial properties would be charged $0.27 per square foot rate for commercial property, $0.30 per square foot for industrial property and $0.04 per square foot for industrial warehouse property.

Fire chief James Harris sought the advice of the council on allowing students from Chiefland Middle High School to participate in volunteer EMT training with the fire department. Chief Harris assured that the training is purely practice and not meant to include real situations.

City attorney Norm Fugate said that if an existing form would not cover the action, an existing form could be modified.

The commission held a private union strategy meeting after the conclusion of the regular meeting.