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Today's News

  • Learning to protect the children

     Guardian ad Litem volunteers from Levy, Gilchrist, Alachua, Baker and Bradford Counties attended an all-day in-service training seminar to enhance their skills as representatives in the court system. 

    The training was Saturday, July 29,in Alachua at Turkey Creek Country Club.  

    A Guardian ad Litem is a trained court-appointed volunteer who helps represent in the court system, the best interests of abused, neglected and or abandoned children. 

    Parents have their own attorneys. The state has its own attorney and children are represented by Guardian ad Litem volunteers throughout the legal process — a difficult and scary transition.

  • Three students, three paths forward

     Three students with widely varying backgrounds, circumstances and educational goals  were singled out Aug. 11 for their commitment to education during the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Jack Wilkinson Levy Campus.
    Randi Williams, 17, graduated from Chiefland High School in May. Brittany Holder, 24, a single mother of two, earned a GED in 2013 at the old Levy Center and Dilan Jones, 19, graduated from Chiefland High School in 2016, finishing third in his class.

    Williams wants to earn an associate degree in Humanities before she starts traveling and volunteering in lesser developed countries in South America that need help. 

  • Crossing guard watches over kiddies and kitties

     Crossing guard Mary Anne Griner watches over kiddies and kitties to ensure their safety. She helps the children across the street and sometimes she takes the cats home.
    Griner said she walked a couple of students across the street a little after she arrived on post at North Young and Fourth Avenue at about 7:15 in the morning where she guards the crosswalks for two hours in the morning and again in the afternoon when school lets out.

    A little gray kitten tried to cross the street but Griner picked it up to keep it from getting ran over. She pet it before putting it back down on the ground. It rubbed against her foot and walked between her feet.

    She named the little gray cat, “Smokey.” She said she would take it to the police station to see if they wanted it. If not, she said she would probably take it home. Friday morning, when asked what happened to the kitten, she said she took it home. 

  • Texting bill gets Levy support

     Emily Slosberg, a Democratic State Representative from Boca Raton, was a long way from her home district.

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    But in her visit to Levy County earlier this month, she found common ground in support of her cause – passing stricter texting-while-driving laws.

    Her passion has led her on a statewide campaign to drum up support to pressure the legislature  to strengthen the state’s texting and driving laws.

    Slosberg presented a resolution to the Levy Board of County Commissioners on Aug. 8 that urges the legislature to act on the issue by making texting and driving a primary offense.

  • County caps insurance payouts for employees

    Levy County is on the high end of spending on health insurance for employees among Florida counties, and it’s proving costly to keep up with rising insurance costs while still offering competitive compensation packages to recruit and retain its workforce.

    At the Board meeting on July 18, the County Commission voted unanimously to cap its health insurance payouts for non-elected county employees who sign up for insurance.

    The resolution also increases employee wages while bringing insurance costs for the county more in line with similar-sized counties, as Levy is relatively low on the spectrum in employee pay in the state.

    The Board voted to max out its payouts for employee insurance at $9,512 per employee, while increasing the average wage of full-time employees by $2,180. The wage increases will be offered in tiers, with the highest paid employees seeing $1,000 more per year, and the lowest gaining $3,000 in per-year salary.

    Commissioner Matt Brooks offered the motion, and it was seconded by Rock Meeks.

    The resolution doesn’t change the coverage options, so employees can keep their current plans.

  • Lady Indian netters boast promising talent, team chemistry

    At first glance, it looks like it should be a rebuilding year for the Chiefland varsity volleyball squad.

    The team lost six seniors to graduation, including leading hitter Takiya London and setter Lauren Parker, as well as underclassman Madison Baynard, an outgoing transfer who led the team in service aces last season.

    But the returning players back this year look improved on the court, and they’re embracing their new roles as team leaders.

    “We’re not quite as talented, but it’s a really, really good group,” CMHS coach Debra Weeks said at practice Monday. “We’ve got a couple of the kids that are already stepping up. Our seniors want to be the ones that lead the team.”

    It’s also evident this is an upbeat and close-knit group that is brimming with team camaraderie, eager to prove it can maintain the recent success of the program, which includes three straight state playoff berths and a state final four appearance.

  • County criticized over handling of insurance, wage changes

    The Levy Board of County Commissioners Tuesday came under criticism during public comments for their handling of recent changes to insurance and wages for county employees.

    The Board on July 18 voted unanimously to cap insurance payouts while offering tiered offsets in the form of increased wages.

    Sally Ann Collins introduced the issue in public comments, lamenting the lack of transparency over the changes. She criticized the Board for voting on the changes during an afternoon budget meeting, rather than during it’s regular morning meeting.

    “I’m here in hopes of allowing the public to become more aware of the pros and cons of what’s happening, since I had absolutely no idea of the ramifications of these changes until now,” Collins said.

    Collins then invited up to speak Jeremiah Tattersall, of the North Central Florida Central Labor Council, which represents Florida AFL-CIO, a federation of local labor unions, in the 12-twelve county North Central Florida area.

  • Members of the Bridle Brigade to test their metal

    Members of the Bridle Brigade 4-H Club spent Thursday afternoon, July 27, building two robotic fish. The club divided up into two teams with each member taking turns drilling holes and cutting the needed PVC sections for the two robotic sea perches. In the fall, the club will travel to Orlando to compete in a statewide competition. The competition is part of the 4-H State Marine Ecology Event.

    The 2017 Sea Perch Remote Operated Vehicle Mini-challenge will be Nov. 4. The Marine Ecology Event offers opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge of the marine and aquatic worlds. To prepare for the event, 4-H leaders and club members go on marine field trips, visit museums and aquariums, have group study sessions, conduct Internet research and develop their own “mock contests.” In the process, youth learn important life skills. 

    Club members will work on the robotic fishes over the next several weeks. The final step is adding the motors. Once completed, an underwater obstacle course will be set up where the club members can hone their robotic fishes’ maneuvering skills for the competition in Orlando. 

  • County adopts tentative millage rate

    Levy County was on its way to being unable to pay its bills by the end of 2019, according to budget figures presented by Finance Officer Jared Blanton at the tentative millage meeting Thursday, Aug. 3, in Bronson.

    Recent moves by the county commission – most notably, an uptick in millage, a new gas tax, department cuts and reallocations, and, going forward, a cap on employee insurance plans – have helped paint a more optimistic financial future for the county.

    The board passed a tentative millage resolution at the meeting that will keep the millage rate at 9.0. The resolution passed unanimously, on a motion by Matt Brooks, backed by Rock Meeks.

    The final millage rate can be lower than the tentative rate, but it can’t exceed that number. While it’s the same rate, it will generate $641,000 (approx. 3.1 percent) in additional tax revenue – and costs to taxpayers – thanks to rising property values.

  • College of Central Florida to host open house Friday, Aug. 11

    The College of Central Florida Jack Wilkinson Levy Campus, 15390 N.W. Highway 19, will host an open house celebration Friday, Aug. 11, from 2-4 p.m.

    The first permanent facility for higher education in Levy County, the campus features a comprehensive student center, campus bookstore, student lounge, health and wellness area, a large multi-purpose room, a multidiscipline science lab, classrooms, computer labs and faculty offices.

    The college is offering 100 scholarships valued at $500 each to students who want to be among the first to attend the new campus. To be eligible, students must take six or more credits at the new campus when classes begin Aug. 21. The scholarships are available to new and returning students, as well as students enrolled at another college or university.

    The scholarships are a one-time opportunity to celebrate the opening of the campus, which is the first permanent higher education facility in Levy County. The $30 college application fee will also be waived for students to plan to attend the new campus.