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Local News

  • Bronson Elementary soars

    Bronson Elementary School initiated a data-driven approach six years ago to help the faculty identify the individual needs of each student. The plan included implementing a digital assessment and instruction program called i-Ready.

    Purchased through the schools’ Title 1 funds, principal Cheryl Beauchamp explained the program was initially purchased to help students with their math needs, but realizing how powerful it was, they also purchased the reading program. The diagnostic assessment has individualized lesson paths, based on the students performance on the diagnostic, so every student has an individual path for instruction in that program, explained reading coach Melinda Chemin.

    Bronson Elementary was the only school that had the i-Ready program for the first three years. Catching the Levy County School Board’s attention by continually climbing scores, the school system now uses district Title 1 funds to purchase the program for the entire county.

  • Holiday scams are aplenty

    Your telephone rings, depending on your set up, you most likely have caller ID. All cell phones do, and newer home phones now carry the caller ID feature. Unfortunately, if you have an older land line, you may not be able to see who's calling you. In the past, the caller ID feature was the way to know who was on the other end of the line. Oh, how things have changed, and not in a good way. The call coming in may show you a call coming from within your area code, even a number from the next town over, so you answer the call. The call and caller as it turns out are from outside the country. How can this be you ask? It's called spoofing, and it's legal.

    Spoofing is the process of changing the caller ID to any number other than the calling number. As the number changes, so does the readout on the caller ID from where the caller is calling from. Anti-spoofing bills have been introduced in Congress, H.R. 2669 (114th): Anti-Spoofing Act of 2016, and was even passed through the House of Representatives last year - but was never passed by the Senate.

  • Tiny wasps pack a punch

    Citrus greening has hit North Central Florida and the residents now have a weapon to fight back: the Tamarixia Wasp.

    Citrus greening causes blotchy mottled leaves and it changes the flavor in your harvests. Huanglongbing (HLB), more commonly known as citrus greening is thought to be caused by a particular strain of bacteria called, Candidatus Liberibacter Asiaticus. Citrus greening symptoms include pointed leaves on new leaf growth, described as “rabbit ears,” blotchy mottle leaves, leaf drop, reduced fruit size, bitter tasting fruit, poorly colored fruit, lopsided fruit with curved columella (column-like structures), yellow stain at base of fruit and excessive fruit drop.

  • Grant supports efforts to extend mental health services in Levy

    There are efforts underway to bring a mental health court to Levy County, and a new grant approved by the county will support fact-finding and organizing that could help lead to its realization.

    At the Levy County Commission meeting Dec. 19, the Board approved 4-1 to offer a letter in support of a Department of Children and Families (DCF) planning grant that would assign an individual to determine mental health needs in the county for inmates. The program is ultimately aimed at improving jail diversion efforts through mental health treatment.

    Leah Compton, Vice President of Forensic Services at Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, went before the commission to request the grant endorsement. DCF requires that subjected counties offer their approval for the grant. The planning grant and its resulting process is required before a county can be eligible for an implementation grant that would fund more mental health services.

  • Williston site approved for RV park

    A 180-acre site located on the southeastern edge of Williston has been approved by the county for use by a prospective RV park.

    Jose Morales’ requests for the site, which included changes to part of the property’s land-use designations, a rezoning as well as a special exception that is required by all prospective RV park sites, were approved unanimously by the Levy County Commission Dec. 19.

    Public hearings were at the meeting before the adoption of the ordinances, and no objections were raised.

    The amendment to the county’s Comprehensive Plan required the county to earlier submit a petition to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, while other state agencies also screened the request. The agencies approved the change with no comment on the changes.

    The RV park would receive water and sewer services from the City of Williston. Williston submitted a letter to the County Commission expressing its approval of the venture, while noting its capacity to serve the project’s utilities.

  • Cross country standout recognized by School Board

    When it comes to state competition, no athlete outside the school’s softball program has seen as much success recently at Chiefland Middle High School as eighth-grade cross country star Lauren Jones.

    On Dec. 12, the School Board of Levy County recognized Jones’ feats, as CMHS assistant principal Aaron Halderman recounted her accomplishments.

    Family, coaches and supporters filled the room to celebrate the moment for Jones, who, after already qualifying for the state championship as a seventh-grader, took a significant step this past season in finishing 14th overall at the Class 1A championships against a field of more than 175 runners.

    “When you see that many kids running, that’s a big accomplishment,” Halderman said. “And to know that she’s got her high school years ahead of her – a lot of the athletes that came in ahead of her, I don’t think she’ll be running against in the years to come.”

    Halderman recalled when he first saw Jones run a race. It was Chiefland Elementary School’s annual Run-for-Fun.

    A future star was born.

  • School Board makes plans to strengthen voice in Tallahassee

    In the face of what it sees as an encroachment on local control – highlighted recently by favorable legislation for charter schools – the School Board of Levy County is seeking new ways to make its voice heard in Tallahassee.

    At the close of its regular meeting Dec. 12, the Board proposed strategies for strengthening its influence on state lawmakers for the legislative season, informally offering a plan to bus parents to Tallahassee with an aim to present with Board members specific concerns on issues to legislators.

    Board member Brad Etheridge (Williston) said he received interest for his proposal to try new methods of local advocacy during his Master Board Program training in Tampa. The remainder of the Board at the meeting expressed their support for such moves and informally brainstormed their own ideas.

  • Public Safety employee recognized

    The Levy County Commission recognized the Department of Public Safety employee of the year Matt Cribbs at its meeting Dec. 18. Commissioner Matt Brooks, of Williston, who invited Cribbs to be recognized before the Board after seeing Cribbs receive the honor from Public Safety director Mitch Harrell at the LCDPS Christmas party, described Cribbs as “one of those employees that goes above and beyond for the Department of Public Safety.”

  • Bronson Elementary ‘heroes’ recognized for life-saving efforts

    The morning of Sept. 25 started like nearly any other at Bronson Elementary School.

    The school was getting its footing after Hurricane Irma, during which it served as the shelter hub for the county.

    But it quickly took a turn when ESE aides Marilyn Johnson and Caeli Woodard saw one of the students they look after unresponsive at around 9:15 a.m.

    “Kids pass out all the time, but this was different, and she knew it,” said Liz Powers, the director of nurses at the health department.

    Karra Cardwell, a 12-year-old student with special needs, remained unresponsive after 10 minutes of receiving CPR. She survived the mysterious episode, which earned her an eight-day stay at the hospital, and the heroic efforts by various staff to save Karra were recognized by administrators at a meeting of the School Board in November.

    “This is not something Karra does,” Powers said. “She’s here with us today and back with us at school. She did a great drill with us that we hope she never does again.”

  • Good Samaritan administration arrested for neglect

    By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Williston Pioneer Editor

    The administrators at Williston’s Good Samaritan Retirement Home were arrested last week and charged with neglect of the elderly.

    The arrests came on the heels of many complaints over the past year, including several this month, including one that ended in the death of one of the home’s residents this past November.

    Arrested were Rhaimley Yap Romero, 31, of Apopka and Nenita Alfonso Sudeall, 48, of Williston.

    Romero Arrest

    On Dec. 11, the Williston Police Department, along with the Levy County Department of Public Safety, was dispatched to the home where a resident required medical attention.

    The investigation concluded that the resident, a male patient had a catheter removed at UF Urology on Dec. 7. Since his return to the facility, his health had declined and the morning of Dec. 9 he became too weak to move from his bed and was incontinent requiring staff to put him in a diaper.