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Today's News

  • Emergency Management asks Levy County residents to report storm damage

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Nineteen inches of rain in five days, more than 30 roads closed or restricted, one school closed, adjusted school bus routes and fish jumping onto US Highway 19.

    Levy County Emergency Management Director John MacDonald asked the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) for permission to amend the August 20 meeting agenda so that he could report the results of steady rainfall in Levy County he compares to levels reached in 2003.

    According to MacDonald, Inglis, Yankeetown, Gulf Hammock and Rosewood “probably got the worst of it as far as rainfall.”

    The County is urging citizens to report any storm damage so that countywide totals can lead to State and Federal relief.

    If Levy County reports approximately $127,000 in damages, we can get a local declaration of emergency, MacDonald said.

    When all the counties meet their thresholds, it goes to the State. If the State reaches its threshold of $26 million, then the governor can go and ask for federal assistance from the President through FEMA MacDonald told the BOCC.

    “I have seen it done under that in 2003.”

  • Goodbye K9 Blitz, hello hemp

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    The Chiefland Police Department has purchased a new K9 to keep up with a recent Florida legislature decision to legalize hemp.

    In a July 31 memorandum from State Attorney William Cervone addressed to “All Law Enforcement Agencies,” Cervone explained that the legalization of hemp products having less than .3 percent of THC was the reason for the policy change.

    “Because hemp and cannabis cannot be distinguished by mere sight or smell, this causes a host of problems for law enforcement,” the memo states.

    “We are no longer prosecuting cannabis cases because you can’t prove cannabis from hemp,” CPD Chief Scott Anderson told the Chiefland City Commission at the Aug. 12 meeting.

    “There’s no test kit to determine the amount of THC in hemp or cannabis,” explained Anderson. “It has to be done in a laboratory.”

    “Because hemp and cannabis are indistinguishable by sight or smell, that alone is no longer sufficient probable cause to go forward,” the memo states.

  • Flea market owners celebrate 20 years at the helm

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    While vendor John Eigner is playing a trumpeted harmonica made during the Civil War as his booth, Bill Devine is looking over his inventory of tools. And around the corner, Ray Jones is keeping a tally in a spiral notebook of transactions that have happened in his space filled with collectibles, coins and jewelry.

    Jones had already had his booth for eight years at the Chiefland Farmers Flea Market when another vendor named Sonny Griffeth bought the place.

    “It’s made a good living for me,” Jones said. And that’s what Griffeth likes to hear.

    “Seeing somebody come in and be successful,” Griffeth said, “I really enjoy seeing somebody make money.”

  • CPD ends Facebook posts

    By Suzette Cook, Reporter

    The Chiefland Police Department posted its last Facebook entry on Aug. 12 at 10 a.m. stating that the cost and maintenance of public records archives of the social media accounts is not in its budget.

    According to Florida Statute Chapter 119, “It is the policy of this state that all state, county, and municipal records are open for personal inspection and copying by any person. Providing access to public records is a duty of each agency.”

    The final post stated, “Good day everyone. Unfortunately this will be the Chiefland Police Departments last Facebook post. We would love to continue to give you guys immediate information and share pictures and keep an open door to our department but due to unforeseen circumstances with the cost of the maintenance of public records archiving, we can no longer afford to use social media. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused. We wish everyone a safe and prosperous year and thank for your continuous support!”

  • Parents need photo ID to pick up pre-k, kindergarten students at bus stops

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    The Levy County School Board is launching a new Pre-K Passport program to protect the County’s youngest school attendees.

    According to Gary Masters, director of transportation for School Board of Levy County, the program is being implemented out of concern “for our most vulnerable students who ride the bus.

    “We want to be sure that our pre-k and kindergarten students are handed off to their parent or guardian that they are assigned to,” Masters said.

    “By using this bright yellow tag that every pre-k and kindergarten student would be wearing, the teacher will put it on them before they leave school, and then the bus driver will seat them in the front of the bus, collect the tag from the student. The parent will come to the bus door and have an ID so that we are sure that we are handing that child off to the appropriate parent.”

    Levy County has 600-700 pre-k and kindergarten students district wide, Masters said.

  • State Ethics Commission rejects settlement proposal for former Bronson mayor

    A preliminary investigation by the State of Florida Commission on Ethics found there is probable cause to believe that a former Bronson mayor was in violation of a Florida Statute as the Director of the Levy County School District Department of Transportation due to “exhibiting inappropriate behavior toward a member of his staff.”.

    A complaint was filed against Bruce Greenlee with the State of Florida Commission on Ethics last year detailing sexual harassment allegations on three occasions in May and June of 2018, while Greenlee was Transportation Director. Greenlee was also Mayor of Bronson at the time of the allegations.

    Greenlee resigned from his director position last June after the staff member reported her complaint to the School District. Greenlee was hired as the Director of Transportation in November 2015. He later relinquished his position as mayor.

  • BOCC appoints local reps to turnpike and connector task forces

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    The Levy County Board of County Commissioners assigned four local representatives the Florida Department of Transportation’s Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) task forces.

    Senate Bill 7068 requires Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault to make the appointments which include state and local officials, environmental stakeholders and members of the community.

    According to the FDOT, “Each task force will make high level recommendations for their respective area which include Southwest-Central Florida Connector, extending from Collier County to Polk County; Suncoast Connector, extending from Citrus County to Jefferson County; and Northern Turnpike Connector, extending from the northern terminus of the Florida Turnpike northwest to the Suncoast Parkway.”

  • FIRE CHIEF: "WE NEED A PLAN"

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Chiefland Fire Chief James Harris did not ask his captains, or his paid and volunteer firefighters to attend the July 22 budget meeting at City Hall, but on Monday night, they showed up in uniform as a brotherhood concerned about the safety of the citizens and themselves.

    “We look out for each other,” Chief Harris said. “They were not there to force the commission,” he said. “They did that themselves because they know we’re in a crisis.”

    Mayor Chris Jones was the first to note, “We have an army of firefighters here tonight.”

    It became very clear as Harris, his captains and others spoke about department funding, and lack there of, that safety was the biggest concern as the commission starts to finalize the proposed 2019-2020 budgets for the general fund, fire fund, utility fund, industrial park/law enforcement trust fund and the 5-year capital improvement plan.

    Limited revenue

    Commissioners combed over the numbers presented in packets that included figures from last year and budgets for next year.

  • Closed doors for some mean opportunities for others

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    When a sweeping bust of eight internet cafes on Nov. 3, 2018 led by the Chiefland Police Department turned into a shutdown of illegal gambling spots throughout the City, the spaces they were established in were cleared out and locked up.

    Now, nine months later, mom-and-pop businesses have established themselves in two of those former internet café locales, and it looks like a third is setting up.

    According to police reports, the following internet cafes were caught awarding cash payouts, which is illegal: Fish Treasures, 1555 NW 27th Ct., Bluemax Social Center, 1525 NW 26th Ave., Tropical Treasure, 2202 N. Young Blvd. Suite #163, Chiefland Arcade, 2169 NW 11th Dr., Fun Time Arcade, 120B E. Rogers Blvd., Cyber Center/777, 101 E. Rogers Blvd. Patriot Social Club, 313 South Main St., and Blue Lagoon-Winners II, 319 and 321 South Main St.

    The Citizen visited each of these addresses and discovered three locations are advertised as “For lease” while two locations have “For Sale” signs up.

  • No charge for student meals in Levy County

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    The School Board of Levy County announced that all students will be served breakfast and lunch at no charge at the following sites during the 2019-2020 school year: Bronson Elementary School, Bronson Middle/High School, Cedar Key School, Chiefland Elementary School, Chiefland Middle/High School, Joyce Bullock Elementary School, Nature Coast Middle School, Whispering Winds Charter School, Williston Elementary School, Williston Middle/High School, and Yankeetown School.

    According to Julia Oberst, coordinator of Food and Nutrition Services for the SBLC, this will be the sixth year that students qualify for “no charge” meals thanks to the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program. “Students are entered into the Florida Direct Certification website which is with the FDA,”and are awarded “no charge” status based on State eligibility criteria, Oberst said, and added that she is staying abreast of national news about one school district threatening to turn parents in to Child Protective Services (CPS) if they don’t pay their lunch bills.