Local News

  • Peaton: 'We got lucky'

    As the cleanup continues from the debris left by Hurricane Irma, Levy County Emergency Management Assistant Director David Peaton said Friday, Sept. 15, they are in the recovery stage. They are checking on all the buildings, getting all the shelters and county equipment cleaned up and then just collecting data.

    “We’re checking on what was the financial burden on the county and what was the financial burden on the citizens, getting schools open as well as government offices,” he said.

    There were still about 2,000 customers of Central Florida Electric Cooperative without electricity. That number was down from 26,168 customers countywide who lost power during Hurricane Irma that hit North Central Florida Sept. 10 – 11.

  • LifeSouth sends out plea for blood donors

    LifeSouth began calling for blood donors after Hurricane Harvey pummeled Texas, then came Irma and now the pleading continues.

    The call was not lost on at least two women who were in the Chiefland LifeSouth location Friday, Sept. 8, giving blood before Hurricane Irma hit.

    Madeline Travers, of Bronson, said she donates blood “because it’s needed and I want to do everything I can to help. They were asking for O-positive blood donations and that’s what I am.”

    Travers said she tries to give blood often, but doesn’t give as often as she should.

    Vickie Menasco, Chiefland, said she donates blood because, “I just feel like it’s a way I can give back.”

    Though she has not given blood “for awhile, I’m hoping to start back. I’m just trying to do my part because I know there are a lot of people who can’t or will not. It’s something I can do and I’m willing to do my part.”

  • Levy escapes worst from Irma

    The worst-case projections for Irma predicted a potential Category 2 – even 3 – barreling through the area, with sustained winds of more than 100 miles per hour, and a storm surge around 15 or 20 feet, leaving parts of Cedar Key and Yankeetown inaccessible for the foreseeable future.

    Thankfully, the county was spared from that scenario.

    Widespread power outages to the majority of homes in the county as well as an ongoing extensive gas shortage – before and after its arrival -- appear to be the worst the storm brought to Levy County, besides the sporadic damage to individual homes from fallen trees.

    The center of what was left of Irma passed through Bronson in the early hours of Monday, Sept. 11, but the region appears to have been largely – or completely -- spared of hurricane-force winds.

    Irma was the most intense hurricane ever measured in the Atlantic outside of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, and set a record in sustaining winds of 185 miles per hour for 37 hours.

  • Police struggle to keep traffic moving north ahead of Irma

    By the time Hurricane Irma passed, the city of Chiefland fared well, except for car after car after car, camping trailers, motorhomes and more cars lined up one after another as they fled north from south Florida ahead of Hurricane Irma.

    Friday seemed like a typical day. The weather was nice, sunny, a few fluffy clouds floated through the sky, there was nothing threatening that would explain an impending natural disaster.

    Police officers directed traffic Friday at Murphy Express and the North Marathon gas stations after all the other stations were out of fuel. Tuesday, it was virtually the same scene again when the line of evacuees reversed course and headed back home again to south Florida.

    But on Friday, the Wal-Mart parking lot was filled with motorhomes and campers filled with travelers; some staying overnight to rest and some maybe thought they had gone far enough, but that was when Irma was supposed to turn north from Cuba and then go up the East Coast.

  • Mandatory Evacuation for Levy County

    A MANDATORY EVACUATION has been ordered for Levy County residents beginning at 4 p.m. today, September 8, 2017.

    Shelters in Levy County including the special needs shelter, will be opening at 4 P.M. today, September 8th. The first shelter location opening is the Bronson Elementary School, this is our only special needs location, but will also house general population. Overflow from this shelter will be moved to the Bronson Middle/High School, today if needed. The Williston Middle/High School will be the third facility to open for citizens seeking shelter on Saturday 9/9/17 at 9 a.m. Overflow from the Williston Middle/High will be moved to the Williston Elementary School, as needed.

    Citizens seeking shelter at any of the listed general population shelters will need to bring pillows, blankets, and bedding. Cots for sheltering citizens will not be available.

    Special needs citizens need to be prepared to move to the special needs shelter at Bronson Elementary beginning at 4pm today.

  • Levy Emergency Director completes FEMA course

    Levy County Emergency Management Director John MacDonald graduated the FEMA National Emergency Management Advanced Academy Aug. 18 after completing 160 hours of course study. The academy is one of the most demanding programs FEMA offers and includes "Best Practices" in leadership, preparedness and response to disasters.

    The National Emergency Management Advanced Academy reinforces qualities needed to lead emergency management programs, provides relevant management theories and concepts, and utilizes appropriate case studies. Advanced Academy participants worked within a collaborative environment on projects and established a network of peers.

    The academy is designed for emergency management mid-level managers with a minimum of three years-experience in an emergency management position. Students learn skills critical to performing their responsibilities, such as: program management and oversight, effective communication at all levels, integrated collaboration and strategic thinking, along with completing a research project one month prior to attending the final course.

  • Senator Nelson discusses issues on stop in Fanning Springs

    Healthcare was a hot topic during U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s stop at the Suwannee River Fair and Livestock Association Tri-County Pavilion in Fanning Springs on Aug. 29.

    A crowd of around 45, including many local officials from the Tri-County area, gathered to hear the Democratic senator, who soon handed the floor over to those in attendance to voice their concerns over issues that are affecting the area.

    The topic of health care was introduced early, as Gilchrist and Levy County officials relayed their problems in dealing with rising costs. Inmate health care was raised as a major example, both in the costs of care that falls on counties, and in the lack of rural healthcare providers, which adds more transport costs for local law enforcement. The need for affordable on-site mental health care for inmates was a key point of the discussion.

  • Around the world in 120 days

    A Russian newspaper reported the future had come to its village with the speed of the past. Three months later, that future arrived in Chiefland personified by a German man on a Norwegian electric bicycle.

    Robert Mohr, 41, left Oslo, Norway, May 16 at noon with the hope of riding into the Guinness Book of World Records on a Buddy Bike Model M2. He expects to finish during the Street Life Festival in Munich on Sept. 9-10.

    He got the idea of circumventing the globe because he wanted, “to do something pollution-free in my life. The environment is so polluted and it’s getting worse. This is the way to show that you can travel on electric bikes like this, so you should be able to do this in your hometown.”

    Though he is not a hardcore environmentalist, he became sensibilized to pollution while studying geography for his job as a logistics writer, “But I’m not a Greenpeace member, but I think it’s important to leave this world not like we found it because that’s impossible, but at least so our children and grandchildren can survive.”

  • County seeks bids for Courthouse renovations

    Levy County needs a new courthouse, but the project is too cost-prohibitive at the moment.

    That’s what Paul Silverman, trial court administrator for the Eighth Judicial Circuit of Appeals, found in exploring the courthouse’s infrastructure needs and the options available.

    However, he concluded there are affordable short-term options available to address its pair of most pressing security needs.

    Silverman provided an update to the County Commission on Aug. 22, arguing for a plan to convert a room next to the Clerk of Court’s office into a small courtroom for hearing cases from the Circuit Court in order to alleviate traffic between litigants, judges and others in the hallways between hearing rooms and waiting areas.

    Silverman said there is $1.3 million available in state grant funding to put toward a new courthouse or renovations. In discussing courthouse priorities with various officials, Silverman said there’s a consensus that favors a new courthouse, but opposes spending the $1.3 million on renovations.

  • Gulf Hammock community seeks to reestablish original boundary, identity

    The citizens of the Gulf Hammock area, located around 17 miles southwest of Chiefland along U.S. Highway 19, want their official identity back.

    With the blessing of an endorsement letter from the county, which was won unanimously at the Levy County Commission meeting on Aug. 22, the people of Gulf Hammock appear to be inching toward one of their major goals, which is the re-establishment of an original boundary and zip code to reflect Gulf Hammock.

    The prelude to that endorsement was a July meeting in Gulf Hammock between area residents and county officials. They discussed complaints over emergency response times to the area as well as regaining their postal community status as Gulf Hammock.