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Today's News

  • School Board Chair: No more interruptions

    An audience member went to the podium at the June 11 Levy County School Board meeting and stated that she had three questions about a recent hiring process.

    After the first question, Attorney David M. Delaney advised the Board to not respond to the questions and said, “This is a public comment period. Sometimes members of the public or the media can be directed to individuals within the district who can look into a question and get back to them. But the Board is not expected to have answers on the spot.

    “The public comment period is a time for the public to bring information to the board,” Delaney continued, and as the audience member asked more questions challenging the Board and the superintendent and second guessing a specific new hire, the Board listened, but offered no response.

    The audience member then stated how she would have gone a different route on what qualifications should be necessary for the position.

  • Cowart to serve as legislative representative

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Superintendent of Levy County Schools Jeffrey Edison announced at the June 11 School Board meeting that, “It’s that time of year when the Board names a legislative representative.”

    Board Member Paige Brookins nominated Board Member Chris Cowart to serve as the Florida School Boards Association (FSBA) liaison and for School Board Chair Brad Etheridge to serve as the alternate for the 2019-2020 school year.

    “It’s an opportunity to be involved when legislation comes down to share how it will impact Levy County,” Cowart said.

    “I understand how important relationships are so we’ve been able to have very good relationships with Rep. Stone, Senator Bradley.”

    Cowart has served in this capacity in the past and said he is ready to give it another year.

  • Watermelon harvest crews sweep through Levy County

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Watermelon Farmer James Swilley of Chiefland is in full harvest mode this week as picking crews from Pequeño Harvesting, LLC sweep through his fields off County Road 129.

    Dozens of pickers gently toss the fruit in chains of three or four to buses where each watermelon is stacked to the brim.

    “In North Florida, by the time we’re started, they’ve finished,” Swilley said about the harvest in South Florida and in Georgia.

    In the packing shed, Swilley explains the sorting process. “There’s 36, 45, or 60," he said. The smallest size will fit 60 per carton, medium will pack 45 to a carton and 36 large watermelons fill a carton.

    One harvest employee is cutting into random melons tasting them for quality control. He also checks for scars as the fruit passes by on a conveyor belt linked directly to a side belt along the buses that come in from the field.

    The receiver taps each watermelon looking for a solid sound and forwards it to the line of packers each standing in front of a carton to fill.

  • Bidders outnumber properties in Levy land auction that yields $131,235

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Some bidders were looking for a new place to live or land to farm, others needed a spot to park equipment trailers on, and one person needed a lot to build a spec home on.

    Many reasons brought a crowd of about 75 people to the Levy County Courthouse on June 17 for the first escheated property auction held since 2015.

    Legal Assistant Susan P. Haines served as the auctioneer, and was very happy with the outcome. “I thought it went very well,” she said. “I was very pleased with the turnout we had.”

    It won’t be until January at the earliest before another auction might happen, Haines said. “We are only required to have one auction a year when we have properties,” she added.

    In November, more properties will be escheated (revert back to County ownership) and lead to a potential auction in early 2020.

  • Chiefland grows list of golf cart friendly streets

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Chiefland City Commissioners voted to amend an ordinance to expand the list of streets that golf carts are allowed to travel on.

    On May 30, Strawberry Fields RV park owner Hal Lyons made a request in writing asking the City to allow golf cart traffic on NE 4th Street, Bay Street AKA NE 9th Terrace, NE 8th Street, Willow Street AKA NE 10th Terrace and NE 11th Drive.

    At the June 10 commission meeting, the streets were approved by all Commissioners except RV Park Manager and Commissioner Tim West who abstained from the vote to avoid a conflict of interest.

    Two months ago, on April 8, the City adopted Ordinance NO. 19-01, which stated that golf carts could be legally operated on NW 21 Avenue between NW 11th Drive and the entrance to the Southern Leisure RV park, on NW 11th Drive between NW 5th Street and the NE corner of the CVS parcel, and on NW 5th Street between NW 11th Drive and the NW corner of the NAPA building.

    “I live on one of the streets,” said Commissioner Norm Weaver said about the requested additional street. “I don’t see an issue.”

  • Bronson BPR gets reprieve, but future in doubt

    After a two-hour workshop on the future of Bronson Parks and Recreation, the Town of Bronson on June 17 agreed to allow until June 29 for BPR proponents to produce five volunteers to sustain the department and its role in youth sports.

    A somewhat contentious workshop between Bronson residents and the Town Council led to a provisional agreement. The workshop centered around the town stepping away from the sports complex and going to an all-volunteer run sports program. The town would maintain James H. Cobb Park while the direction, coaching and concession sales of the sports program would be handled by an all-volunteer organization.

    BPR coaches and volunteers from the past requested another year for the BPR to try and salvage its existing program, which supports various youth leagues and teams, including football, soccer and basketball. BPR participants acknowledged frustrations over parents dropping off children and not staying to offer assistance or watch their children play and practice. However, one teacher/coach pointed out that’s an issue as school events as well.

  • Chiefland Middle School academic honors

    Accelerated Reader Awards

    6th Grade

    1) Tanner Bailey

    2) Dana Hinkle

    3) JR Hudson

    7th Grade

    1) Oren Wilson (overall highest points)

    2) Lillie Allen

    3) Joshua McCorkel-Conley

    8th Grade

    1) Devan Ahrens

    2) Orion White

    3) Felicity Nash

    *McCorkel-Conley was also recognized as the only student at CMS to read all of the books on the Sunshine State Readers list.

    *Karsen Baker, Joshua McCorkel-Conley, Pedro Sanchez-Torres and Oren Wilson were recognized for finishing in first as a team in the county book battle in April.

    Citizenship Award

    (For students who do the right thing all the time even when they think no one is watching.)

    6th Grade: Emma Campbell, Logan Cochran, Jordan Frye, Emilee Gay, Michael Goodale, Arrington Grant, Chelsi Hill, Dana Hinkle, JR Hudson, Payton Johns, Chelsea McCain, William Stephenson, Audra Stockman, Everett Tribble, and Domynick Welch.

  • Chiefland Watermelon Pageants held in run-up to Festival

    The Chiefland Watermelon Pageants were held May 25 at Chiefland Elementary School, with nearly 100 contestants entering.

    The 2019 Chiefland Watermelon Queen will be crowned June 1 at the Chiefland Watermelon Festival following the parade, at the park across from the Train Depot in downtown Chiefland. The Queen contestants include: Ashtyn McKayla Brown (the 2018 Teen Queen), Kaylee Marie Clinkscales, Bailee Morgan Everett, Shelby Lynn Kirton, and Shelbi Carson McCall.

    The 2019 Chiefland Watermelon Teen Queen (16 to 18 years old) is Rieley O’Mera Beauchamp. The first runner-up is Sarah Justine Dykstra and the second runner-up is Mollee Nadine Beauchamp.

    The Junior Queen (13 to 15) is Aubrey Frances Hudson. The first runner-up is Jaylynn Rian Brown and the second runner-up is Annabelle Beauchamp.

    The Chiefland Watermelon Princess (10 to 12) is Kassidy Raelyn Hurst. The first runner-up is Madison Nicole Cone and the second runner-up is Lilith Annabelle Jones.

    The Petite Queen (7 to 9) is Kaitlynn Rose Jenkins. The first runner-up is Braelyn Mae Perkins and the second runner-up is Kylee Denise Corbin.

  • Levy County to expand one voting precinct, move another

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Levy County Voting Precinct 5 in Chiefland will gain 384 square feet, and Precinct 7 in Williston will return to Williston City Hall before the 2020 elections.

    At the request of Levy County Supervisor of Elections, the County Commission approved the expansion of the Willow Sink polling location at 6731 NW 100th St. in Chiefland after Jones explained that the increase in voters has made the space difficult to accommodate the equipment and serve voters efficiently.

    In the 1996 general election, 598 voters cast their vote at the Precinct 5 facility. In 2016, almost twice as many people turned out with 1,103 voters casting ballots at the facility.

    There are 13 voting precincts in Levy County. According to VoteLevy.com, about 3,001 voters use Precinct 5 out of 28,086 voters countywide.

    Precinct 5 was built in 1979, added onto in the 1990s, and no changes to the polling place have been made since, Jones told the Commission that it would cost $15,000 for materials to add 384 square feet to the existing 576 square-foot area creating a space of 960 square feet.

  • Commissioner urges BOCC to consider upgrading Williston horse park

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Coming off the heels of the recent Ranch Rodeo event in May, Levy County Commissioner Mike Joyner proposed an effort that would raise a roof over the main arena of Williston Horseman’s Park.

    The multipurpose facility located just south of Williston on NW 19th Avenue was established in 1993 by the Williston’s Horseman’s Association (WHA) and is rented out for events including rodeos, equine events, dog shows, and car shows.

    The WHA is a non-profit organization that promotes community youth, said WHA President Sandy Dubey who has played a role with the organization for 15 years.

    “It would be a phenomenal asset to the community,” Dubey said about the addition of a cover. “We cater to the children,” she added. “FFA, Little Britches Rodeo, Junior Rodeo. Anything to do with kids, we are there to donate the arena.”

    “With the arena being covered, it would help with any event we had there,” Dubey added. “It’s endless what a covered arena would do.”