Local News

  • School Board makes plans to strengthen voice in Tallahassee

    In the face of what it sees as an encroachment on local control – highlighted recently by favorable legislation for charter schools – the School Board of Levy County is seeking new ways to make its voice heard in Tallahassee.

    At the close of its regular meeting Dec. 12, the Board proposed strategies for strengthening its influence on state lawmakers for the legislative season, informally offering a plan to bus parents to Tallahassee with an aim to present with Board members specific concerns on issues to legislators.

    Board member Brad Etheridge (Williston) said he received interest for his proposal to try new methods of local advocacy during his Master Board Program training in Tampa. The remainder of the Board at the meeting expressed their support for such moves and informally brainstormed their own ideas.

  • Public Safety employee recognized

    The Levy County Commission recognized the Department of Public Safety employee of the year Matt Cribbs at its meeting Dec. 18. Commissioner Matt Brooks, of Williston, who invited Cribbs to be recognized before the Board after seeing Cribbs receive the honor from Public Safety director Mitch Harrell at the LCDPS Christmas party, described Cribbs as “one of those employees that goes above and beyond for the Department of Public Safety.”

  • Bronson Elementary ‘heroes’ recognized for life-saving efforts

    The morning of Sept. 25 started like nearly any other at Bronson Elementary School.

    The school was getting its footing after Hurricane Irma, during which it served as the shelter hub for the county.

    But it quickly took a turn when ESE aides Marilyn Johnson and Caeli Woodard saw one of the students they look after unresponsive at around 9:15 a.m.

    “Kids pass out all the time, but this was different, and she knew it,” said Liz Powers, the director of nurses at the health department.

    Karra Cardwell, a 12-year-old student with special needs, remained unresponsive after 10 minutes of receiving CPR. She survived the mysterious episode, which earned her an eight-day stay at the hospital, and the heroic efforts by various staff to save Karra were recognized by administrators at a meeting of the School Board in November.

    “This is not something Karra does,” Powers said. “She’s here with us today and back with us at school. She did a great drill with us that we hope she never does again.”

  • Good Samaritan administration arrested for neglect

    By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Williston Pioneer Editor

    The administrators at Williston’s Good Samaritan Retirement Home were arrested last week and charged with neglect of the elderly.

    The arrests came on the heels of many complaints over the past year, including several this month, including one that ended in the death of one of the home’s residents this past November.

    Arrested were Rhaimley Yap Romero, 31, of Apopka and Nenita Alfonso Sudeall, 48, of Williston.

    Romero Arrest

    On Dec. 11, the Williston Police Department, along with the Levy County Department of Public Safety, was dispatched to the home where a resident required medical attention.

    The investigation concluded that the resident, a male patient had a catheter removed at UF Urology on Dec. 7. Since his return to the facility, his health had declined and the morning of Dec. 9 he became too weak to move from his bed and was incontinent requiring staff to put him in a diaper.

  • Santa Claus visits library

    Santa Claus visited the Luther Callaway Library in Chiefland Friday, Dec. 15. Library Youth Services coordinator Jenny Rodgers started the evening reading the book “Santa’s Underwear.” Asking the children who they came to see, the kids shouted, Santa! After excited chants of Santa! Santa! Santa Claus appeared to their delight. Tables of craft projects entertained everyone while children had their photos taken with Santa. Each child had their picture taken with Santa to take home, along with a digital copy available online. Sue Ann Burkhardt manages the library.

  • Chiefland Elementary Pre-K, kindergarteners and first graders write letters to Santa Claus

    Dear Santa, I would like an Elsa doll, BB gun, kitchen set, Hello Kitty make-up and a fidget spinner. Bristol Barker

    Dear Santa, I would like a Barbie Doll, a bike, and a baby doll. Sarenity Chadwick

    Dear Santa, I would like a baby doll, a Muana book, a watch, and a bracelet. Aaliyah Hayes

    Dear Santa, I want a fidget spinner, a baby doll that talks, pees and poops, and a meowing kitten, and a frog that jumps. McKenie Herrington

    Dear Santa, For Christmas I want a Barbie Doll, a Barbie House, a princess carraige jeep and a fidget spinner. Shyleigh McCraney

    Dear Santa, I want a necklace, a Barbie doll, a bracelet and a watch for Christmas. Kyndal Miller

    Dear Santa, I want a dinosaur, a car and a candy for Christmas. Giovanni Morales

    Dear Santa, I would like a DS, a dart gun, a bracelet that you hear songs on, candy and an IPAD for Christmas. Michael Morales

    Dear Santa, I want some skate shoes, baby doll and a purple hover board for Christmas please. Trinity Morton

  • Vessels held on $4 million bond

    By Scott Tummond, LCSO Public Information

    LCSO published details Nov. 28 of a reported shooting that occurred Nov. 24 at Melvin and Alice’s Restaurant. The investigation revealed that two victims had been wounded by shotgun rounds fired by an unknown suspect. Based on an extensive investigation, LCSO Investigator Justin Douglas was able to obtain an arrest warrant for Anthony Walter Vessels, 26, for two counts of attempted murder.

    Members of the U.S. Marshal’s Service Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force located and arrested Vessels Dec. 11 in Broward County. Vessels will be held at the Levy County Detention Facility on a bond of $4 million dollars.

    Sheriff Bobby McCallum said he is very proud of the investigative work by LCSO personnel and appreciative of the assistance provided by the Fugitive Task Force and others in this investigation.

    Investigators have already interviewed Vessels and the case remains active.

    LCSO urges anyone with information regarding this incident to contact Investigator Justin Douglas or Justin VanDuren.

  • What if every day were Christmas?

    I like history.

    I’m not a student of it, but I like researching historical sites for ideas and articles I can use.

    The following article from “Biblical World” published in December 1913 caught my attention because I have bemoaned for years that Christmas is way too commercialized; that the true meaning of Christmas is lost in all the decorations, lights and gift-giving.

    I am comforted knowing that I am not much different than they were 104 years ago.




    “Heaven defend us from such a misfortune!” you say. For Christmas is one of the most dreaded joys of life.

    But this terror at the mention of Christmas is due to our having commercialized the day until it is a synonym for anxiety lest we give someone a present of less (or more) value than the present this someone has given us.

    Yet in reality Christmas is a bit of prophetic idealism. It is a testimony to our persistent belief that our present economic order is not ideal. Even the most brutal industrialism cannot destroy this faith.

  • Nameplate on historic locomotive is stolen

    By Toni C. Collins, Levy County Historical Society

    Recently, the more than 100 year-old historic locomotive on display in Wayside Park in Gulf Hammock was damaged when the manufacturer’s plates donated by the Levy County Historical Society were stolen.

    The Paterson-Mcinnis Locomotive has been on display since 1969 when Georgia-Pacific donated the land to establish Wayside Park for the display. In 1992, the Florida Department of Transportation donated Wayside Park and locomotive to the people of Levy County. In June of this year, the historical society submitted an application, which was approved, for a Florida Historic Marker to be placed at the site. The display was established as a reminder of the locomotive that contributed greatly to the history and heritage of Levy County.

    This is the second time the manufacturer’s plates have been stolen. Following the first theft, a chain link fence was erected around the display to prevent any further theft or damage to the historic locomotive. However, that did not deter the current thieves who cut a hole in the fence to access the locomotive.

  • Victims: they will not forget Perez's deceit

    Roberteus Perez stood quietly alongside his attorney as four victims’ statements were read Wednesday, Dec. 13, during sentencing proceedings in front of Judge Mark W. Moseley.

    The former Chiefland Elementary School custodian arrested April 4 after a hidden camera was found in a staff restroom pled guilty as part of a plea agreement.

    There were no images of children found in the seized videos though all of the victims expressed belief that children were caught on camera. The recovered images were of short, edited video clips of women using the bathroom. Some women were identifiable and some were not.

    Two CES staff members came forward to read victim statements and the victim advocate read two other statements.

    The first victim said that after the shock wore off, they were left with the destruction Perez left behind.

    “We went from trusting, caring women to suspicious characters who question every time we go to the bathroom or a dressing room. You could barely look us in the eye when we tried to engage you in casual conversation, yet you could watch videos of us in the comfort of your own home.”