Local News

  • County extends moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries; seeks ban ordinance

    The Levy County Commission voted unanimously Nov. 21 to extend by three months its moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas of the county.

    The motion for the extended moratorium was offered by Rock Meeks and seconded by Matt Brooks. It passed 5-0.

    The Board also offered a consensus opinion guiding county attorney Anne Bast Brown to craft an ordinance that bans dispensary facilities in unincorporated areas for the long term. Brown requested direction on constructing an ordinance as she advised that passing any further moratoriums would potentially test constitutional grounds.

    Brown put the question before the Board in bifurcated terms, with one part concerning medical marijuana dispensaries, where counties have more discretion, and the other dealing with the cultivation and processing of medical marijuana. She warned that if the county issued an across-the-board ban of the cultivation, processing and dispensing of medical marijuana in Levy County, it would be challenged in court and the county would lose.

  • LCSO investigates Williston shooting

    On Friday, November 24th, 2017, at approximately 11:15 pm Levy County Deputies responded to 4011 NE 205th Avenue in Williston to Melvin and Alice’s BBQ in reference a shooting incident. Deputies arrived and discovered two individuals with gunshot wounds. One victim was driven by a bystander to a local hospital before being flown by ShandsCair with life threatening injuries. The second victim was transported by ambulance to a local trauma center. One victim is currently listed in critical condition; the other is listed in critical but stable condition.

    Levy County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division responded and began their investigation. Investigators were able to identify a person of interest in the shooting. Investigators believe victims and suspect may have known each other. The shooting is believed to be in retaliation of prior altercation between the suspect and one of the victims.

  • SGA raises big money on tasty sweets

    Chiefland Middle High School’s 26th Annual Cake and Pie Auction had to overcome a slight snag.

    Its hosts proved up to the challenge, however, as SGA co-vice president Maddilyn Johnson, in her first time in the role, handled auctioneering duties admirably for the first half of the event, before her father, the evening’s professional auctioneer, Chad “Cracker” Johnson, arrived from out of town to take over and hold court.

    The ultimate goal of the night, Nov. 16, was a success too, as the SGA raised over $4,000 on 36 pies and cakes, just in time to add some holiday sweets to local Thanksgiving tables. The treats took in an average of more than $100 per pie or cake. The fundraiser is the largest of the year for the SGA.

    “I’ve never done this before, and I don’t really like crowds, so bear with me,” Johnson said.

    In her introduction, SGA president Maria Gomez noted that the funds will go toward projects like raising money to combat children’s cancer, collecting items for soldiers overseas, and the SGA’s participation in the state convention and district retreat.

  • School Board approves plans for new CMHS

    If the School Board of Levy County gets its way, there will be a new Chiefland Middle High School built in the next five years.

    The Board Nov. 14 voted unanimously to include such a project in its Five-Year District Facilities Work Plan, which districts are required in Florida to submit. The Board has issued a request for proposal for the designing and building of the school.

    In order for the project to come to fruition, the district still needs approval for Special Utilities Funding from the Department of Education.

    According to the Board-approved Castaldi Generalized Formula for School Modernization Report, which provides a formula for designating whether it’s cheaper to build a new school or renovate current buildings, 92 percent of CMHS is at the critical need level, meaning it’s more cost prohibitive to renovate rather than build a new structure.

  • Students with disabilities are thriving in public schools

    Florida celebrated Disability History and Awareness Week last month, and the Levy County school district took the chance to reflect on its students with disabilities and their achievements.

    There are 937 students in Levy County with identified disabilities, and 83 percent of those are being educated alongside their non-disabled peers, according to figures presented to the School Board by Dr. Rosalind Hall, director of ESE and Student Services, who delivered a summary of the history and evolution of special education and the statistics for students with disabilities in Levy County.

    Hall’s data on the efficacy of inclusion in education was brought home by third-grader Kevin of Bronson Elementary School. Kevin Edwards, who couldn’t speak when he arrived at the school as a kindergartener, was kept in mainstream classes early on at the school to give him role models for speaking and developing language skills, according to Principal Cheryl Beauchamp. At the Board meeting, with guidance from his teacher, Rhonda Stephenson, Edwards introduced himself and handed out gifts to the Board.

  • Tax bill passes House, Senate is next

    The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” Thursday, Nov. 16, by a vote of 227-205. Thirteen Republicans voted against the resolution along with 192 Democrats. Two Democrats did not vote.

    The 450-page resolution amends the 1986 Tax Code. U.S. Congressman Neal Dunn said Thursday after the vote, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” is the largest tax cut in American history.

    “It’s the largest tax cut both on individuals and on corporations in the history of this country,” he said. “People ask why cut corporate taxes? They create the jobs. That’s where the wages go up and jobs come from and that’s what makes the economy go.”

  • Chiefland man is killed as deputies respond to domestic disturbance

    Levy County deputies killed a Chiefland man Nov. 16, Thursday, after they responded to domestic disturbance. Three LCSO Patrol Division deputies responded to 7450 NW 110 St. to a domestic disturbance at 8:40 p.m. that ended in the death of 34-year-old Michael Wesley Goodale.

    The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is in charge of the investigation and will not release information until the investigation is concluded.

    According to a press release from the sheriff’s office, three deputies responded to the scene and were confronted by an armed male subject. After attempting to subdue Goodale with less lethal weapons, two deputies were forced to discharge their firearms. Goodale, 34, was transported to University of Florida Shands Hospital as a trauma alert, but he did not survive his injuries. 

  • Haven Hospice president: ‘We’re in this community for the long haul’

    Gayle Mattson wants Chiefland and the surrounding communities to know that Haven Hospice is here to serve them for the long run.

    That was the clear message the president of Haven Hospice delivered in her talk to the Suwannee Valley Rotary Club Nov. 16, on the heels of the closure of the Tri-Counties Hospice Care Center.

    The closure of the Care Center, which opened in 2004, and the corresponding re-positioning of employees, naturally sparked concerns around the community. Mattson issued a reassuring tone about Haven’s overall remaining presence in the area, noting that around 95 percent of the services delivered by Haven Hospice are done outside their care centers.

    “It was a very hard day for Haven,” Mattson said. “We did that to reposition the organization for the future. I hope that is last time I ever have to do that in my career – that’s my commitment.

    “Haven Hospice will have a presence in this community as long as they will have us,” Mattson added. “I hope that’s forever.”

  • Withlacoochee Chamber serves up amenities at ‘low boil’ dinner

    South Levy County is home to the Withlacoochee River, a glorious river that flows into the Gulf of Mexico. On any day of the week, any week of the year, the Withlacoochee Gulf Area Chamber of Commerce invites residents and visitors alike to come and enjoy all it’s great outdoor amenities. Conducive to boating, sailing, fishing, camping, hiking, bicycling, paddling, and birding, the river and surrounding areas have it all.

    The Withlacoochee Gulf Area Chamber of Commerce is the perfect host and hostess to acquaint those seeking that “Old Florida” adventure. Set in the laid back towns of Inglis and Yankeetown, the Withlacoochee Chamber works tirelessly to give residents and visitors a splendid, idyllic getaway whether it’s for a few hours, a few days, or a few months. Many residents came to the area as vacationers and found they just didn’t want to leave, making South Levy their permanent residences.

  • Faith, family, friends help Smith recover from freakish motorcycle accident

    Faith. Family. Friends. Sheila Smith says those are the reasons she survived a freakish motorcycle accident in 2010.

    Sheila fractured her skull in three places. Her sinus cavities collapsed and her face was paralyzed. Besides a big muscle knot and a bruise on one of her shoulders, “It was just my head and shoulder that was damaged. I was very fortunate.”

    She has no memory of the accident or the two months that followed. Because her face was paralyzed, she couldn’t close her eyes or mouth. Her right eye was stuck toward her nose, which caused problems with double vision, depth perception and vertigo. She had to wear a safety belt when she used a walker and someone had to walk behind her.

    To understand what led to the crash, it is necessary to know Sheila. She grew up in Pennsylvania as a little bit of a tomboy who was afraid of nothing, except maybe a Ferris wheel and other slow-moving things.