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Local News

  • Courthouse monument case dismissed in favor of County

    The lawsuit filed against Levy County by American Atheists, Inc., claiming a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, was dismissed by in the U.S. District Court in Gainesville.

    The suit stems from the denial by the county of a local atheist group’s application to install a monument at the Levy County Courthouse, claiming it failed to meet guidelines. The county established guidelines in 2009 for the placing of monuments by local citizens and groups at the site.

    In 2010, a granite monument detailing the Ten Commandments, submitted by the Tri-County Pregnancy Center of Williston, was granted permission.

    Levy County, represented by Liberty Counsel, first filed a motion requesting a summary judgement over the summer, seeking a dismissal without trial.

  • County recasts qualifications for tourism director job

    Time is running out for the county to fill its soon-to-be-vacant executive position for Levy County Tourist Development.

    In a last-minute bid to net more ideal candidates, the county, behind a recommendation from outgoing director Carol McQueen, is recasting its description of the position to focus more on marketing skills and experience.

    The Commission voted 5-0 Nov. 21 on a motion by Matt Brooks to re-advertise the Tourist Development director job for at least two weeks with the new language. The current candidates will be contacted and asked to reapply under the new job description. The new advertisement wasn’t expected to be posted before Nov. 29.

  • County approves spay, neuter trial program for ‘community cats’

    Levy County Animal Services euthanizes around half of the feral cats that are brought in.

    After department officials recently met with animal rescue groups at a no-kill summit in Gainesville, the county may have a solution that could help tackle the high rate of cat euthanasias.

    With extensive backing from Gainesville Pet Rescue, Alachua County Humane Society and at least one major donor, Animal Services is introducing trial program for free spay and neuters for “community cats,” which are cats that are cared for but don’t necessarily have a home.

    The Board of County Commissioners approved the program unanimously at its meeting Nov. 22.

    The plans for the program were presented to the Board by Darlene Esler, DVM, who was representing Animal Services. She was joined by Chelsea Bower, the associate director of Gainesville Pet Rescue.

  • Asbell assumes chairmanship on School Board; Etheridge picked as vice chairman

    Cameron Asbell was unanimously voted the new chairman of the School Board of Levy County Nov. 28.

    Rick Turner offered the nomination of Asbell.

    “Mr. Superintendent (Jeff Edison),” Turner said, “it is with honor and a great privilege I offer to you in the form of a nomination the most honorable and admirable Cameron Asbell to serve as chair of the Levy County School Board.”

    Asbell, who has served on the Board for eight years, represents Bronson on the Board, and also owns Cameron Asbell Insurance Agency in the town. He is a Bronson High School alumnus.

    Asbell succeed Chris Cowart (Cedar Key) in the position.

    “I can’t live up to it,” Asbell said jokingly of Turner’s nomination. “I want to thank Mr. Turner for that rousing introduction.

    “I also want to thank Mr. Cowart for an excellent job, and I hope I do half as good,” Asbell added. “It’s going to be a fun year. I promise to stay focused; ya’ll work with me.”

  • 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.”