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Local News

  • City approves grant application for police cars

    By C.L. Watson, Citizen Correspondent

    Tri County Community Resource Center Director Beverly Goodman requested the city donate use of the Tommy Usher Pineland Center for an event with chef Laura Fowler Goss.

    The event is a parent and child cooking class instructed by Goss March 21 from 10 a.m. to noon. Commissioner Teresa Barron made the motion to donate use of the center. Commissioner Donald Lawrence seconded. The motion was unanimously approved.

    City Manager Mary Ellzey presented the USDA Community Facility Grant for purchase of four police vehicles. In October 2017, the commission gave approval to file the application for the 4-to-1 matching grant. The USDA would pay $140,595 and the cost to the city would be $46,865 for four new Chevy Tahoes. Lawrence made the motion that was seconded by Barron and unanimously approved.

    Police Chief Scott Anderson informed commissioners that police officers would soon need their body cams replaced and the wireless printers in eight patrol units needed updating.

  • County may join opioid lawsuits

    In a scene reminiscent of the successful lawsuits against Big Tobacco in the 1990s, pharmaceutical companies have become a target for their role in the opioid crisis.

    The Levy County Commission on March 6 signaled its intent to join in on the action in order to recover costs that the opioid addiction has wreaked on local services and healthcare. The lawsuits, both federal and state, contend that the drug makers have knowingly misled users about the harmful effects of their painkillers, leading to widespread addiction and long-term health problems.

    County attorney Anne Bast Brown said at the meeting she has consulted with other counties that have reached agreements with firms to join in lawsuits, and has spoken with law firms seeking business from counties. She says counties like Alachua and Osceola have signed onto agreements with firms that avoid any costs up front for the counties, and those counties are shielded through the agreements from counter-suits from the pharmaceuticals.

  • Citrus County teacher removed from classroom for racist podcast

    By Carly Zervis, Citrus County Chronicle

    A Citrus County middle school teacher removed from the classroom after being outed as the host of a racially charged podcast has no record of suspensions or other disciplinary action by the Citrus County School District, an examination of her personnel file revealed Monday.

    Dayanna Volitich, originally from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, and in her second year as a teacher in the district, was hired in August 2016 as a middle school social studies teacher, the position she continued to occupy at the time of her removal.

    According to a resume included with her employment application, Volitich earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Ohio State University in May 2014 and was pursuing a master’s degree in educational studies at Johns Hopkins University when she applied for a Citrus County teaching position in June 2016. The Chronicle was unable to confirm Monday whether she obtained the degree.

  • CK open house educates on a range of environmental topics

    The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s open house Feb. 22, held at the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station, was a chance for residents to learn about the purpose and history behind the environmental regulations and restoration efforts that affect Cedar Key and the surrounding area.

    And while environmental regulations might not sound like sexiest of topics, the morning and midday event was a hit by all accounts, with around 80 attendees, proving again that Cedar Key citizen are passionate about its ecological standing.

    The open house presented an arrangement of stations, where, joining the DEP, there were representatives from UF/IFAS, Levy County’s Solid Waste department, an Ocala-based waste and recycling company, and Florida’s Aquatic Preserves, which, like the Florida Park Service, falls under the umbrella of the DEP.

  • CareerSource opens new office

    By Lori Prevatt, Citizen Correspondent

    CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion staff cut the ribbon and held an open house Feb. 22 at its new center at 2175 NW 11th Dr., in the Walmart Supercenter (Suwanee Plaza) off North Young Boulevard.

    The Levy County Career Center opened to the public in December 2017 to better serve businesses and candidates. The office was formerly located at the Old Post Office located behind the Levy County Tax Collector's Office.

    About 30 guests were present for the Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony at noon. Among the guests were business participants that collaborate with the CareerSource employees, CareerSource board members and Chiefland Chamber of Commerce members.

    CareerSource staff all agree that moving to the new location will be greatly beneficial for the community. Moving to the center location makes career services more accessible to the public.

    “We moved to a more central location because the college is down the road and this is a much better place to provide services to residents,” said CEO of the Career Source Center Rusty Skinner Jr.

  • Fanning Chamber plans egg hunt

    By Kate Sheridan, Citizen Correspondent

    Fanning Springs Annual Eggstavaganza was the main subject discussed at the recent Fanning Springs Chamber of Commerce meeting.

    The annual Easter egg hunt and ski show takes place March 24 at Fanning Springs Park. The event will run from noon until 4 p.m. with the ski show starting at 3 p.m. There will be more than 6,000 filled Easter eggs for children to hunt. All age groups will be divided into four groups to ensure a fun hunt.

    In addition to hunting eggs, the Chamber will also offer more than 50 different raffles offered for free to all participating children. The day will include face painting, balloon art, music and many other surprises and activities.

    Food and drinks will be available for purchase but picnic lunches with drinks are allowable.

    BYOB (Bring Your Own Basket) and come out Saturday, March 24, for a great day with friends and family.

  • Local students to remain seated

    By Lori Prevatt, Citizen Correspondent

    The Feb. 14 Parkland school shooting impacted students across the nation after a former student entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, pulled a fire drill and began shooting and killing 14 students and three staff members.

    The shooting prompted students and adults across the United States to take actions in an attempt to influence Congress to change the current policies regarding semi-automatic weapons.

    Levy School Board Member Chris Cowart said in an interview about the current safety issues facing the schools.

    “We have to have common ground. There has to be a way all of our agencies, whether it be the sheriff’s department or the Florida Department of Children and Families, can filter information so this doesn’t happen again. So many warning signs were overlooked,” he said. In addition, he said, “the School Board is working on getting one school resource officer per school.”

  • STARS Gala celebrates education supporters

    The theme of the 2018 Levy County Schools Foundation STARS Gala Feb. 17 was “planting seeds of knowledge that grow forever.”

    It was a chance for the event’s speakers and guests to reflect on how the Levy school system has shaped their lives long past their time as young pupils.

    The annual Superintendent’s Gala is one of two major fundraisers for the non-profit organization, which helps supplements education in the county by directing funding from donors to scholarships and classroom tools and other means.

    The evening opened with Superintendent Jeff Edison asking for a moment of silent prayer for those in Broward County who were affected by the recent school shooting, adding that those who enter the field of education become a part of one big family.

    The remainder of the night went off with a light touch, thanks in part to the brevity and humor of the speakers. Senior Judge Joseph E. Smith delivered the keynote address, and Pastor Danny Heath, of First Baptist Church of Ocala, a Class of 1997 Bronson High School alumnus, was the alumni speaker and performed a song.

  • CPD, city agree to terms

    Chiefland City Commissioners ratified a three-year agreement with the police department Monday, Feb. 12, at the regular meeting in the municipal building.

    City Manager Mary Ellzey said she and City Attorney Norm Fugate have worked with the North Central Florida Police Benevolent Association since April 4, 2017 and now tentatively agree to every article in the City’s Proposal No. 5, dated Dec. 11, 2017.

    Four of the department’s eight eligible members voted Jan. 31 to approve the agreement that is affect from to Oct. 1, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2020.

    A summary of changes are:

    • Field Training Officer and K9 Officer salary differential changed from 5 percent to a $75 stipend per pay period.

    • Employees assigned to the Levy County Drug Task Force and report for work directly to the Levy County Sheriff’s Office shall be allowed to drive their patrol vehicle home; take home patrol vehicles shall not be driven outside of Levy County.

    • Plain clothes employee will receive $220 annual clothing allowance instead of $500 annually.

  • County left out of talks while family mired in red tape, sewage

    Levy County was left out of the conversation for several months in 2017 while a state and federal agency talked among themselves about finding a solution to a problem; a solution that could place the county in legal jeopardy.

    Levy County Attorney Anne Brown said in a recent interview that her office filed a public records request under the Freedom of Information Act to find get correspondence from the Florida Department of Equal Opportunity and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    She stated in an email dated Nov. 9, 2017, that the county has expended countless hours throughout the years to find a solution to the septic and other issues.

    Brown wrote that it was her understanding that DEO and HUD would be working on a solution and would inform the county of the results of those efforts after various funding sources and options had been reviewed by DEO and HUD.