Local News

  • Y-I club awards scholarships

    The Yankeetown-Inglis Woman’s Club held its Scholarship Luncheon and installation of new officers meeting Wednesday, May 2.

    President Helen Ciallella shared the history of the scholarship luncheon. Graduates from the Citadel, UF, FSU, College of Central Florida, including a Ph.D. from Ohio State have all received Woman’s Club Scholarships.

    In 1970, scholarships were $75 - $200 and the ladies played Bridge games to generate the scholarship fund, handing out three scholarships each year from Bridge. In 1989 Bingo took over scholarships. Playing Bingo every Thursday night, and now having the option of purchasing dinner prepared by Lucy Duncan, the revenues have increased. To date, the Woman’s Club has raised over $100,000 for scholarships.

    “Thank you Bingo players and thank you community for supporting this. We are real excited about it, I love being able to say over $100,000 because it makes me smile.” Ciallella said.

  • Wild waters

    The extremely low water level in the Waccasassa River made last year’s Wild Hog Canoe Race, its 40th anniversary, a tough slog for canoers and kayakers.

    The water was up for this year’s event, held April 28, making for a smoother ride.

    But it’s never easy, as the 107 boaters who participated this year can attest.

    One of the early finishers was lamenting the spider web he passed through as he swatted away one of those spiders from his head after arriving on the banks.

    The charity ride, which starts at the Wacassassa Bridge along Highway 24 and leads to the event site just north of Gulf Hammock along U.S. 19, is 15 miles and generally takes at least two hours for the full distance. Riders can go solo or as duos, and there a divisions that categorize participants by their ability, experience, age and boat type.

    The boaters face a handful of obstacles along the way, including a couple of logs toward the finish that require competitors to submerge their bodies in the water and lift their boat over the wood.

  • CRC approves 8 ballot proposals

    By Lori Prevatt, Citizen Correspondent

    The Constitution Revision Committee approved eight of 12 proposals recently that are wide ranging in scope when they appear on the November ballot.

    According to Chris Doolin of the Small County Coalition of Florida, many items were grouped together in order to pass certain pieces that would not pass on their own merit.

    Levy County Schools Superintendent Jeff Edison, shared a series of email correspondence from Doolin regarding the committee. Twelve proposals were on the CRC agenda, according to Doolin, but the number was reduced to eight.

    Proposals on the November ballot are listed:

    Proposal 6001 involves restoring rights to victims of crime and increases the age limit that judges may serve.

    Proposal 6002 aims to add an additional fee to college tuition and establishes death benefits for families of military and first responders.

    Proposal 6003 changes the way charter schools are designated; and proposes an eight-year term limit for school board members. It also requires civic literacy to be added to public education curriculum.

  • Deputy injured during traffic stop

    A Levy County deputy sustained minor injuries Friday, April 27, while he was conducting a traffic stop

    According to a Florida Highway Patrol press release, deputy Matthew King, 49, of Bronson, was in a marked 2017 Ford Explorer with emergency lights engaged. The sheriff’s vehicle was parked on the south shoulder of eastbound CR 318 conducting a traffic stop on other traffic. Another vehicle, a 2004 Toyota Sienna driven by Jacqueline E. Laster, 51, of Florida City, was traveling east when it sideswiped the left side of the Ford.

    King had opened the door and his left leg was out of the vehicle, according to the press release. He sustained minor injury to his left leg.

    Laster was found to be operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. She was arrested and transported to the Levy County Jail where she refused a breath sample.

    She was booked for DUI and issued a citation for violation of the move over law.

  • Shooter's motives are still unknown

    Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert Schultz described the man who shot two of his deputies before turning the gun on himself as a recluse who was not identifiable by neighbors and his motives are still unknown.

    He said during a press statement April 27 in Gainesville that it is important to provide information the investigation has uncovered so far in the murders of Gilchrist County deputies Sgt. Noel Ramirez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey.

    Ramirez, 29, and Lindsey, 25, were in the Ace China Restaurant April 17 at about 3 p.m. when they were killed.

    The shooter was later identified as John Hubert Highnote, 59, of Bell. He was found dead in a pickup truck outside the restaurant from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

    He said nothing law enforcement knows is an answer, but the community deserves to know what law enforcement knows so healing may begin.

    “I am only going to speak about this person one last time, then send him back into obscurity where he came from and, frankly, belongs,” Schultz said.

  • County sees win-win scenario in school purchase

    The purchase of the old Bronson High School building, located adjacent to the Levy County Courthouse in Bronson, could kill two – or more – birds with one stone for the county.

    At its meeting April 24, the Levy County Commission reached a consensus to advise County Coordinator Wilbur Dean to seek a deal for the purchase from the School Board of Levy County.

    Acquiring the space would allow the county to avoid the estimated $12 to $15 million in costs to build a new courthouse, which has reached its functioning capacity for the county and the courts, and to consolidate more Levy County services – with more parking – in one place to make it easier on residents. The county would move offices to the new site, allowing more space for the judicial system in the current courthouse.

    While negotiations are still ongoing, Dean said the 40,000-square-foot property would cost less than $2 million. He quoted a tentative estimate of $38 to $41 per square foot, which would put the purchase at around $1.6 million.

  • Edison is Citizen of the Year

    By Lori Prevatt, Citizen Correspondent

    Levy County Schools Superintendent Jeffery Edison was named the Greater Chiefland Area Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year Saturday evening April 21, in the Haven Community Building.

    Chamber President and master of ceremonies Bennitt Patterson called Chamber Director Denny George to stage to announce the selection.

    George said the winner liked to cook for different events; was an active member of First Baptist Church and many ways the winner served others before identifying Edison, who spoke after receiving his plaque.

    Edison said he is originally from Romeo, but grew up in Dunellon.

    “I was a teacher for 11 years. I got my degree in Educational Leadership. I was looking for a job. I got saved when I got a call from Chiefland Middle School and here I am. I feel it is God’s will I am here. I am thankful and humbled by this. I am thankful to live here in Levy County and have friends like you,” Edison said.

    Patterson commented that his brother is a longtime friend of Edison. He said, “You know this guy always does the right thing.”

  • Charity to pay mortgage, establish scholarship in honor of slain Gilchrist County deputies

    A foundation named in honor of New York City Firefighter Stephen Siller who perished Sept. 11, 2001, is paying the mortgage on a slain Gilchrist County deputy’s home and establishing a scholarship program in the name of another.

    John Hodge, Chief Operating Officer of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation CEO John Hodge made the announcement Saturday, April 21, during a press conference at the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office.

    The Tunnels to Towers Foundation will pay off the mortgage for the family of Deputy Sgt. Noel Ramirez family home and set up a scholarship program in the name of Deputy Taylor Lindsey. Lindsey was not married.

    “We know that when someone is killed in the line of duty and they leave behind children, who quite frankly, we are most concerned about,” he said. “The children’s world revolves around mom and dad; revolves around the home where they live and the friends and or school.”

  • Deputies killed

    Two Gilchrist County deputies were killed Thursday afternoon, April 17, when they were shot by a man whose motives are still unknown.

    Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz said Sgt. Noel Ramirez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey were having lunch at about 3 p.m. when they were shot.

    The sheriff refused to discuss the identity or any other details about the shooter during a press conference later in the day.

    The shooter was later identified as John Hubert Highnote, 59, of Bell. He was found dead in a pickup truck outside the restaurant from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

    No further information is available regarding Highnote. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is conducting an ongoing criminal investigation.

    “It’s not about him,” Schultz said at a press conference. “It’s about my deputies. There is no indication of any ongoing threat to our community, and we remain committed to your safety with the help of our other assisting agencies. This tragedy touches us all.”

  • Wild Hog Canoe Race begins its fourth decade

    It’s a grueling 15-mile trek down the Waccasassa River, where canoers and kayakers paddle, drag, lift, wade and swim their way through the elements, including occasional snakes and alligators.

    The Wild Hog Canoe Race, a fundraiser for the Arc of Levy County, which assists Levy residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities, launches in Bronson at the Waccasassa Bridge on State Road 24, and finishes up at the event property where the Waccassa crosses U.S. 19, north of Gulf Hammock.

    Despite the challenging terrain, many who participant in the annual spring event are hooked for life.

    This year’s race takes place on April 28, with pre-race registration from 7:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. A rule review begins at 9:15, followed by the start of the race at 9:30.

    The water level was down in last year’s race, which marked its 40th anniversary and set a new record in boaters, making it a particularly difficult iteration. Race coordinator Keith Maynard says that may be causing some reluctance among potential returning participants, as pre-race sign-ups are down some from last year.