Local News

  • Monday afternoon update on Hurricane Michael

    Levy County residents and visitors along the coast are urged to finish their preparations for Hurricane Michael. Hurricane Michael is expected to make landfall as a possible Category 3 Hurricane in the panhandle of Florida. Even though the storm is not expected to hit us directly, dangerous storm surge flooding along the Coast of Levy County is expected. Residents and visitors must make preparations now in order to make sure they are safe.

    Public Information: Public Information lines are open at 352-486-5155 for people to call if they have any questions or concerns. Residents and visitors are strongly urged to pay attention to their local media sources and follow us on our social media at www.facebook.com/lcdem and visit our website at www.levydisaster.com

  • Tropical Storm Michael update

    Levy County Emergency Management is continuing to monitor the path of Tropical Storm Michael. Currently Michael is expected to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle as a Category 1 or 2 Hurricane. We are continuing to work with the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center to determine the effects on Levy County. We are expected to experience some impacts on Levy County, with the main concern being the storm surge potential along the coast. We will have a better picture of things after our afternoon briefing with the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center.

    Public Information: Public Information lines are open at 352-486-5155 for people to call if they have any questions or concerns. Residents and visitors are strongly urged to pay attention to their local media sources and follow us on our social media and visit our website at www.levydisaster.com

  • South Levy rec area proposal needs County buy-in to progress

    Suzette Cook, staff writer

    Members of the Withlacoochee Area Economic Compact are looking for buy-in from Levy County and for the completion of a comprehensive engineering study in order to move forward with the development of the first year-round whitewater kayaking venue in the U.S.

    In a Sept. 26 meeting held in Inglis, representatives of the compact, Florida Springs Council, Cross Florida Greenway, historians, Florida Fish and Wildlife Service and interested residents discussed the progression of building the South Levy Recreational Area.

    The approximate 65-acre project would be established south of Highway 40, where the canal for the now defunct Cross Florida Barge connects with the lower Withlacoochee River and along with the whitewater kayaking component would possibly include zip-lines, disc golf, open paddling, training for competitions, additional trails, a dog park and swimming areas.

    “The engineering study starts in November,” Inglis Mayor Drinda Merritt said. “As soon as we have the study done, we can talk to the State,” she added.

  • Fee increases for Waste, Fire Protection

    With the setting of annual assessment rates on the docket, the Board of County Commissioners held a four-hour public hearing Sept. 6 with approximately 30 Levy citizens in attendance.

    After receiving feedback from numerous attendees, the Board passed a new rate for Solid Waste that shifts the burden of costs from user tipping fees to a $116 assessment fee. Fire Protection Services and EMS assessments also saw an increase in their respective rates.

    Fire Protection was first on the agenda.

    “The fire rate was raised to $90 in 2012 and has not been raised since,” BOCC chairman John Meeks said. “Keep in mind, all dual-certified firefighters receive a portion of their pay from this.”
    Heather Senoza, an associate of Jeff Rackley, who conducts revenue studies based on proposed fees, presented the fees proposed by the Board in July: $129 for residents; $0.36 for commercial; $0.15 for industrial and $12 for agricultural lands.
    Jared Blanton, the County Finance Director, responded to a request for an explanation of how the current $90 fee would not fund fire services.

  • Tim West draws winning straw in City election tiebreaker

    Every vote counts.

    It’s the old cliche that comes up whenever you hear someone urging citizens to do their civic duty at the polls.

    But sometimes, every vote – and every subsequent coin flip or drawing of straws – really does count.

    In the Chiefland City Commission Group 4 election August 7 between incumbent Teresa Barron and challenger Tim West, the race was decided by something even slimmer than a single ballot – a straw.

    The night ended with West drawing the long (winning) straw from County Judge Tim Browning, who was serving as the Canvassing Board Chairman, after the pair managed to yield the exact same number of votes at 90 apiece.

    A manual recount of all votes August 9, part of an already-schduled provisional review and voting system audit, confirmed the machine tally.

    In a surreal scene at City Hall, Barron and West and their respective supporters were informed around 7:30 p.m. that the election was dead even and a machine recount was required by law. The recount didn’t find an discrepancies, however, and there were no over or under votes to manually recount.

  • City election Tuesday

    The City of Chiefland will hold an election for City Commission Group 4 Tuesday, August 7, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The candidates include incumbent Teresa Barron and challenger Tim West. Voting is at Chiefland City Hall, 214 East Park Avenue. The Group 2 term also expires this year, but Commissioner Donald Lawrence is running unopposed for re-election. For more information, contact City Hall at 352-493-6711.

  • County proposes waste assessment in lieu of tipping fees

    At the County Commission meeting July 17, Commissioners were tasked with setting preliminary assessment fees for EMT, fire and solid waste services.

    The latter generated much debate among Commissioners and attendees, as the County weighed replacing dumping fees at the county landfill with an assessment fee of $116 for all households.

    The final decision on assessments will come at a public hearing on Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. The Commission is then permitted to lower, but not raise, the fee amounts set at the preliminary hearing.

    Jeff Rackley, Senior Project Manager at Government Services Inc., put together reports for the Commissioners to review, which were presented at the meeting by his associate Heather Senoza.
    According to the reports, Levy County lost revenue from the landfill last year. Levy County previously charged residents an assessment fee of $25 per parcel, but now charges no fee. Levy residents pay a tipping fee of $1.16, while the commercial tipping fee is $61.00.

  • City, Police deliberate over pay, vehicle requests

    C.L. Watson, Citizen Correspondent

    The Chiefland City Commission on July 9 received an insurance bid presentation for city employees from Mike Michaelis with Don Martin Insurance.

    Michaelis presented a rate increase proposal of 7.7 percent with Florida Blue Plan 59 as the base plan for city employees. Most of the plans offered cover a full-time City employee at no cost, under Plan 59, yet a family plan would cost the employee $1,001.24, a weekly increase of $18.33. Aetna and AvMed declined to send offers saying they would not have competitive rates. The Chiefland City Commission voted unanimously in favor to accept the Florida Blue rate increases.

  • School district retains C grade

    For the third year in a row, the Levy County school district scored a C in the Florida Department of Education accountability report.

    Despite earning the same grade, the district saw small gains in most of the 11 categories that go into the final tally. Items that factor into the grades include achievement and learning gains measures in English Language Arts, mathematics and science as well as achievement in social studies, as rendered by various standardized tests. The scores also incorporate graduation and acceleration rates, which take into account students receiving credits in dual enrollment college courses or earning industry certifications.

    The districts biggest gains were in the areas of “college and career acceleration” and mathematics assessments. The district is two percentage points from a B.

  • Meet the candidates

    By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Pioneer Editor

    Wishing for an easy way to meet candidates for office and ask about issues that matter to you? If so, mark your calendar for the 2018 Candidates Forum. This free nonpartisan event will be Saturday, July 28 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Williston Middle/High School cafetorium.

    Doors open at 9:30 a.m. and all voters are welcome to fill out question cards for county, state and federal candidates.

    Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones will be on hand to update voter registrations and take new registrations. Information on the many ballot initiatives to appear on the November ballot will be given to everyone.

    The forum is non-biased, with all candidates having equal time to address voters. It is organized by Citizens for an Engaged Electorate and AARP Williston Area Chapter #912 and made possible through generous donations from local businesses.

    For more information, call 352-441-4326.