Local News

  • Fanning Chamber plans egg hunt

    By Kate Sheridan, Citizen Correspondent

    Fanning Springs Annual Eggstavaganza was the main subject discussed at the recent Fanning Springs Chamber of Commerce meeting.

    The annual Easter egg hunt and ski show takes place March 24 at Fanning Springs Park. The event will run from noon until 4 p.m. with the ski show starting at 3 p.m. There will be more than 6,000 filled Easter eggs for children to hunt. All age groups will be divided into four groups to ensure a fun hunt.

    In addition to hunting eggs, the Chamber will also offer more than 50 different raffles offered for free to all participating children. The day will include face painting, balloon art, music and many other surprises and activities.

    Food and drinks will be available for purchase but picnic lunches with drinks are allowable.

    BYOB (Bring Your Own Basket) and come out Saturday, March 24, for a great day with friends and family.

  • Local students to remain seated

    By Lori Prevatt, Citizen Correspondent

    The Feb. 14 Parkland school shooting impacted students across the nation after a former student entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, pulled a fire drill and began shooting and killing 14 students and three staff members.

    The shooting prompted students and adults across the United States to take actions in an attempt to influence Congress to change the current policies regarding semi-automatic weapons.

    Levy School Board Member Chris Cowart said in an interview about the current safety issues facing the schools.

    “We have to have common ground. There has to be a way all of our agencies, whether it be the sheriff’s department or the Florida Department of Children and Families, can filter information so this doesn’t happen again. So many warning signs were overlooked,” he said. In addition, he said, “the School Board is working on getting one school resource officer per school.”

  • STARS Gala celebrates education supporters

    The theme of the 2018 Levy County Schools Foundation STARS Gala Feb. 17 was “planting seeds of knowledge that grow forever.”

    It was a chance for the event’s speakers and guests to reflect on how the Levy school system has shaped their lives long past their time as young pupils.

    The annual Superintendent’s Gala is one of two major fundraisers for the non-profit organization, which helps supplements education in the county by directing funding from donors to scholarships and classroom tools and other means.

    The evening opened with Superintendent Jeff Edison asking for a moment of silent prayer for those in Broward County who were affected by the recent school shooting, adding that those who enter the field of education become a part of one big family.

    The remainder of the night went off with a light touch, thanks in part to the brevity and humor of the speakers. Senior Judge Joseph E. Smith delivered the keynote address, and Pastor Danny Heath, of First Baptist Church of Ocala, a Class of 1997 Bronson High School alumnus, was the alumni speaker and performed a song.

  • CPD, city agree to terms

    Chiefland City Commissioners ratified a three-year agreement with the police department Monday, Feb. 12, at the regular meeting in the municipal building.

    City Manager Mary Ellzey said she and City Attorney Norm Fugate have worked with the North Central Florida Police Benevolent Association since April 4, 2017 and now tentatively agree to every article in the City’s Proposal No. 5, dated Dec. 11, 2017.

    Four of the department’s eight eligible members voted Jan. 31 to approve the agreement that is affect from to Oct. 1, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2020.

    A summary of changes are:

    • Field Training Officer and K9 Officer salary differential changed from 5 percent to a $75 stipend per pay period.

    • Employees assigned to the Levy County Drug Task Force and report for work directly to the Levy County Sheriff’s Office shall be allowed to drive their patrol vehicle home; take home patrol vehicles shall not be driven outside of Levy County.

    • Plain clothes employee will receive $220 annual clothing allowance instead of $500 annually.

  • County left out of talks while family mired in red tape, sewage

    Levy County was left out of the conversation for several months in 2017 while a state and federal agency talked among themselves about finding a solution to a problem; a solution that could place the county in legal jeopardy.

    Levy County Attorney Anne Brown said in a recent interview that her office filed a public records request under the Freedom of Information Act to find get correspondence from the Florida Department of Equal Opportunity and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    She stated in an email dated Nov. 9, 2017, that the county has expended countless hours throughout the years to find a solution to the septic and other issues.

    Brown wrote that it was her understanding that DEO and HUD would be working on a solution and would inform the county of the results of those efforts after various funding sources and options had been reviewed by DEO and HUD.

  • Spay, neuter program launches

    Levy County Animal Services is introducing a free trap-neuter-release program in an effort to rein in the county’s feral cat problem.

    The program had its first run Jan. 25, and it was more successful than Darlene Esler, DVM, LCAS staff veterinarian, could have imagined.

    With help from a couple of volunteers, the team spaid 10 females and neutered three males. One of the females was pregnant, and more were in heat, reported Esler, indicating the program is already making a modest dent on the large problem. LCAS is euthanizing around half the feral cats that are brought in. It hopes to hold a spay-neuter date at least once a month, possible more in the summer, for feral cats.

    The program is aimed at treating what are commonly referred to as “community cats” or “neighborhood cats,” which includes cats that are feral but are being fed or cared for in some capacity. Those who participate can pick up traps from Animal Services, for a $25 refundable deposit. The cats are brought in the day before the surgery and picked up the day after.

  • Families celebrate friendship

    By Marjorie McGarva, Daughter, Daughter-in-Law

    A “Best Friends Memorial Service” was held Feb. 3 at 11 a.m. in Cedar Key at Harbour Suites on Dock Street. That was the place of choice because the town represents that closeness between friends and family. The friendship between the two women and their families that spanned 70 years.

    Marjorie McGarva said she wanted to write something about both her Mom, Mary Saunders, and mother-in-law, Grace McGarva. The two families met approximately in 1941 in Arlington, Virginia.

    My Dad was a floor mechanic and met Gordon McGarva on the job one day. Gordon was from Miami, Florida. They made an instant friendship.

    These two families met and kept in touch through the years with phone calls, letters and visits. The families bonded quickly and the wives noticed they had similar interests: children, sewing, cooking and canning. The four Saunders girls knew them as “Aunt Grace and Uncle Gordon.” Grace and Clyde (and sometimes his brother Don) traveled in the summer months to Maine where Grace’s parents summered and owned a motel

  • Black History events set

    Celebrate Black History Month Feb. 16 at the Levy County Courthouse and Feb. 24 at the Tommy Usher Pineland Center.

    The event at the courthouse will feature a photographic exhibit of nine people who contributed to Levy County history and their contributions to the county. Nine people will be honored this year.

    They are: Clyde Bowers, Joe Jenkins, Katrina Cohens, Larthay Richardson, Frank Edmondson, Ida Bell Phillips, Dwayne Williams, Tucker Williams and Lashae Smith.

    Clyde Bowers from Chiefland. He was born on January 5, 1918. Mr. Bowers worked for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad for 32 years. He married Susie Bowers and had 11 children.

    Joe Jenkins from Chiefland, Florida was born on December 25, 1906 he worked for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad for 25 years; he also worked at Bett’s Big T in Chiefland. Mr. Jenkins attended night school under Mr. Reggie Williams. He married Louise Jenkins and had one daughter, Mary Joe Jenkins. In addition to their daughter, the couple raised Lucey Freeman, Katie Catherine Brown, Richard Long, and William Spaight.

  • Five years later, family is mired in red tape, sewage

    Roberto and Debby Tarafa moved to their home in Levy County in 2004 and began noticing wet spots in the lawn as soon as they began mowing the grass. The mower left ruts, but the couple said they could never see the water.

    “It was below the surface, but that was it,” Roberto [Bo] said. “We knew we had an issue, we just weren’t sure what it was.”

    “No toilets backed up — nothing to make us think — and nothing was running anywhere, in the street or anywhere at that time,” Debby said. “It was just wet and mushy in the middle.”

    Their neighbors were all snowbirds at the time, so there was no one to ask. There was an old man who lived across the street. He has since died, but Debby used to ask him why it was so wet? He just responded with a smile, Debby said.

  • Volunteers, citizen supporters help power local parks

    The Chiefland Chamber of Commerce meeting Jan. 26 boasted an exceptional turnout, thanks to all of the volunteers and supporters for the local parks in attendance.

    With Manatee Springs State Park as the meeting co-sponsor, guest speaker Mark Abrizenski, the park manager for Manatee Springs and Fanning Springs State Park and the Nature Coast State Trail (NCST), took the opportunity to highlight the contributions of park volunteers and the Friends of Manatee Springs, Inc. And to illustrate that level of support, he invited those individuals – and the park rangers – whose work is so critical to the parks’ functioning.

    The Gathering Table co-sponsored the meeting and catered lunch.

    It was the first meeting with new Chamber president Dr. Bennitt Patterson at the helm, as well as the first with new executive director Joy Parker. More than 50 attendees filled the room at the Haven Hospice Community Center.

    Patterson announced the annual Citizen of the Year banquet, normally held in February, has been pushed back to April 21, adding that he hopes to build up the banquet attendance to past heights.