Local News

  • Website reveals data about Florida counties, forecasts trends

    By Suzette Cook, Reporter

    The Florida Chamber of Commerce has launched a scorecard that identifies and tracks key metrics about the State and its counties. The website is www.thefloridascorecard.org and by selecting a county of interest, data about the unemployment rate, housing permits, annul job changes, sale tax revenue, wealth migration, poverty rate, high school graduation, land in conservation and population is available.

    The site color codes each category to reveal its status. Green means improving, Red means declining, and Blue means no change.

    By first looking at data about the State in the categories, users can compare county to county where they stand. According to the site, Levy County has an 87 percent overall graduation rate compared the State rate of 86.1 percent and that is on rise.

    Data topics include Talent Supply and Education, Innovation and Economic Development, Infrastructure and Growth Leadership, Business Climate and Competitiveness, Civics, Governance, and Quality of Life.

  • Celebrating Mayor Betty

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    First came the beat of the drums, then the keyboard joined in, hands were clapping and the choir brought the room to a crescendo singing “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

    Pastors, ministers and family members entered Chiefland Middle High School auditorium and walked down the aisle to make their final farewells to Chiefland Mayor Betty Stockton Walker.

    Walker, who passed away on Feb. 25, was adorned with a tiara before the casket was closed, and when the music faded out, Rev. Walter Hunt lead crowd of more than 300 friends, coworkers and family members in prayer. “The Lord gave her breath, and the Lord took it back,” he said.

  • Levy County goes after collusion in lawsuit against opioids suppliers

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    The Board of Levy County Commissioners has agreed to pursue a claim in federal court that addresses collusion of companies involved in the distribution of opioids.

    According to a lawsuit filed in April 2018 by Levy County against Purdue Pharma and dozens of doctors and medical clinics that write prescriptions for opium “opioids” painkillers, Levy County claims greed and profits have been put “above the health and well-being of Levy County consumers” at the cost of the County.

    “Levy County spends millions of dollars each year to provide and pay for healthcare, services, pharmaceutical care and other necessary services and programs on behalf of residents of its County whom are indigent or otherwise eligible for services, including payments through services such as Medicaid for prescription opium painkillers (“opioids”) which are manufactured, marketed, promoted, sold, and/or distributed by the Defendants,” the lawsuit says.”

  • Chiefland man claims $5 million in scratch-off ticket

    Luis Bruno, 55, of Chiefland, claimed a $5 million top prize in the $20 GOLD RUSH CLASSIC Scratch-Off game at Florida Lottery Headquarters in Tallahassee. He chose to receive his winnings as a one-time, lump-sum payment of $3,550,000.

    Bruno purchased his winning ticket from Murphy Express, located at 2126 North Young Boulevard in Chiefland. The retailer will receive a $10,000 bonus commission for selling the winning Scratch-Off ticket.

    The $20 GOLD RUSH CLASSIC game launched in October 2018 and gives players the opportunity to win up to $5,000,000. Overall odds of winning are 1-in-2.99.

  • Chiefland establishes fee for events that require road closures

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    The Chiefland City Commission established a $250 fee to be charged to any event held in the City that requires road closures and the use of City personnel and equipment.

    Annual events that require road closures include the annual Watermelon Festival and parade, the Homecoming Parade, Veterans Day parade, Winter Christmas Festival and 5K run and the MLK Love March.

    According to City Manager Mary Ellzey, the City expensed more than $5,000 covering the costs of road closures for these five events. The cost of closing roads in Chiefland for events often involves overtime or holiday pay for police officers, plus utilities and other expenses.

    The average annual fiscal impact to City taxpayers for the Watermelon Festival is $1,849.23, the Winter Christmas Festival is $1,822.77, the Chiefland High Homecoming Parade is $392.14, and the MLK Love March is $883.98.

    Newly appointed Mayor Chris Jones said he wanted to make sure any fees agreed on by the Commission are applied across the board. Initially, he said there was discussion of grandfathering in some of the traditional events.

  • Jones named mayor of Chiefland

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Chiefland Commissioner/Vice Mayor Chris Jones called the March 11 City Commission meeting to order and asked for 30 seconds of silence to remember Mayor Betty Walker.

    “I’d like start off by on behalf of the family thanking everyone here that attended and came out to support their family. It’s definitely a big loss. I can’t even express my feelings, knowing her as far as a City official and a close friend since my childhood.”

    With Walker’s passing on Feb. 25, the Commission moved to appoint a new mayor and vice mayor. The Commission nominated and approved Jones as the new acting mayor.

    Commissioner Donald Lawrence was then nominated to fill the vice mayor position, and Commissioner Tim West asked to also be considered for the role. “I would be up for the challenge,” West said. Commissioner Lawrence then said he was honored to be considered but added, “I think new young blood would be good.” With that the Commission approved West’s nomination and named him as vice mayor.

  • County IT consultant makes system adjustments after attacks on email accounts

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    After multiple attacks on County employees’ email accounts, IT consultant Brady Clark, owner of New River Technology, told the Board that he is upping systems security.

    “We’ve had emails compromised in the past,” Clark said told the Board on March 5. “Those emails get on a list on the internet that say ‘this person is a finance person’ so what they do is send an email pretending to be him with his email in the subject line.

    “How they get caught is when it’s (the message) in broken English,” Clark said.

    “There’s a lot of that going around, so I want to put on a spam filter,” Clark added. “The only caveat is that is emails might get missed if they are caught in the filter.”

  • 67th Annual Suwannee River Youth Livestock Show

    Events are at the Suwannee River Fair Pavilion, located at 17851 90 Avenue, Fanning Springs.

    Thursday, March 7:

    4:00p - 6:00p - Poultry Entry

    Friday, March 8:

    4:00p - 6:00p - Dairy Cow & Heifer Entry

    3:30p - 5:30p - Rabbit Entry

    5:30p - Cloverbud Rabbit Show/Showmanship

    After Cloverbud Show - Rabbit Show

    6:00p - Poultry Show

    6:00p - Poultry & Rabbit Showmanship

    After Show - Rabbit & Poultry Release, Superintendent must approve other release times

    Saturday, March 9:

    7:30a - 8:00a - Horse Entry

    8:30a - Horse Show

    After Horse Show - Speed Contest

    11:00a - 1:30p - Dairy Cow Show/Showmanship

    After Show - Dairy Cow Release

    12:30p - 2:30p - Ag-Life Contest

    4:00p - Heifer Show

    After Show - Home Grown Heifer Show

    After Home Grown - Heifer Showmanship

    Sunday, March 10:

    1:00p - BBQ Contest

    1:00p - Goat Doe Entry

    2:00p - Dairy/Meat Doe Goat Shows/Showmanship

    After Show - Dairy/Meat Doe Goat Release

  • County says scallop season date change will have negative economic impact

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Levy County Commission Chair John Meeks sent a letter to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Chair on Feb. 19 expressing concerns about changes in regional scallop season dates.

    “You may ask why is that important to us?” Meeks said at the Feb. 19 Commission meeting. “They changed it last year to allow scallop season to open in neighboring counties because scallops, for whatever reason, tend to arrive in that area before they arrive in the Southern region, which is Citrus County or out at the Panhandle region,” he said.

    “It was a huge economic boon for Dixie and Taylor County. In addition, it is a huge economic boon for us because these people travel from the south, come up (US Highway) 19 and they stop at the Walmart, they stop at the Winn Dixie, buy gas and do commerce here.

    “In addition, it allows our folks to be able to go and participate earlier too.”

  • Busy weekend in Cedar Key

    There’s a lot going on in Cedar Key this coming Saturday, March 9, why not “Make It a Day!” The weather is supposed to be perfect (sunny, high of 73 degrees), shops and galleries all over town will be open and there are some special annual events that you just might not want to miss.

    The Cedar Key Arts Center is hosting the Tiny Treasures Artful Home Tour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Twelve homes and one rental unit, all less than 1,000 square feet, will be on the tour this year. Most of the homes are in the Historic District and all are accessible by golf cart (the Gulf Kart Co. is offering a special rate for tour participants – 352-477-0041). 83 West on Dock Street is also offering tour participants a quick pick-up box for $10 each from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets and maps are on sale at the Cedar Keyhole Artist Co-op through noon on Saturday for $20. For questions, email CedarKeyArtsCenter@gmail.com.