Local News

  • 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.

  • Full slate of constitutional proposals in pipeline

    The Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), a group of 37 delegates charged with examining the Florida Constitution and filing amendment recommendations to go before voters this November, is only on its third edition in state history.

    The first CRC came in 1977-1978, and there has only been once since, in 1997-1998, as the Commission operates once every 20 years.

    But this cycle is figuring to be the most significant yet, as the Commission is currently weighing 103 amendment proposals.

    Stephanie Marchman, senior assistant attorney for the City of Gainesville, and representative for the Eighth Judicial Circuit to the Florida Bar’s Board of Governors, paid a visit to the meeting of the Suwannee Valley Rotary Club Jan. 11 to discuss the Florida Constitution and the CRC.

    Before addressing the CRC’s current business, she outlined the function of the Florida Constitution, noting its role in defining the structure of the state government and citizens’ state rights.

  • Whitehurst takes over as tourism director

    After recasting its advertisement for a new tourism director, with more of an emphasis on marketing, the county turned inward to find the candidate it was looking for.

    Tisha Whitehurst, the current grants coordinator for Levy County, was warmly welcomed at the County Commission meeting Jan. 23 as the new director of tourism. Whitehurst will remain the grants coordinator.

    “We’re just piling on, don’t worry about the mule or the wagon,” Commission chairman John Meeks said jokingly at the meeting of Whitehurst wearing multiple hats.

    The jobs are far from unrelated, however.

    As grants coordinator, Whitehurst also coordinated the county’s interests with regards to the RESTORE Act (Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012), a federal law that directs fines from BP and others responsible for the Gulf oil spill disaster of 2010 toward improving the ecosystems and economies of the Gulf communities.

  • County Commissioners quiz FDOT on trouble spots

    The Board of Levy County Commissioners argue that the county’s unique traffic patterns might be preventing the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) from properly measuring its worst traffic hazards along state highways.

    At the County Commission meeting Jan. 23, they voiced those concerns to Jeff Scott, the District Safety Program Engineer for the FDOT, who reported on recommendations from safety reviews concerning four potentially problem roadways along state roads in the county.

    The study process for each location, which were requested by the county, included collecting crash report data, conducting a field review by an engineer, providing a crash analysis and concluding with recommendations. The crash data was from 2012 to 2016.

    The two main areas of concern for the Commission in the report included: 1) the stretch of State Road 24 in front of the Bronson Speedway, extending to Andee Road, and 2) the intersections of State Road 45 (US 41) and County Roads 326 and 323 in Morriston.

  • Citizen of the Year wanted

    The Greater Chiefland Area Chamber of Commerce is seeking the names of people who made extraordinary effort in good citizenship in 2017. These are people who have changed things for the better, who perhaps are examples of selfless volunteer service.

    This special citizen may display a broad range of contribution and achievement or be an individual unsurpassed in commitment to provide for a particular cause. Considerations may include:

    Significant contribution to the well-being of the community through personal service; personal effort that has made a lasting, noteworthy, and positive difference; perception as a role model for good citizenship and volunteerism; inspiring personal attributes, such as versatility, perseverance, devotion, and diplomacy; contributions above and beyond those expected; sustained dedication to a cause or effort, or to community service; an exceptional or extraordinary history of achievement in local philanthropic endeavors; courage in overcoming extreme adversity; a selfless act of bravery or generosity or performing service without expectation of compensation or recognition.