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Today's News

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • Thousands of insects flock to tree in Chiefland

     By Suzette Cook/Reporter

    They first arrived about a month ago.

    The Goolsby family in Chiefland didn’t know what to make of the bees, butterflies, dragonflies, wasps, hornets, moths, and even birds landing on every branch and leaf of the 40-foot tree in their front yard.

    “They don’t bother us,” said Levy County School Bus Driver Drema Goolsby. “Look at them all. It just amazes me that there are so many.”

    Drema wasn’t sure what to do, so she posted about the situation on a local word-of-mouth forum. “Everyone said ‘let them be,’” Drema said. And her husband Steve Goolsby agreed when Drema said, “We don’t have a reason to have someone come get them.”

    Steve was trying to keep up with how many different types of insects were buzzing around. “There’s one tiny green butterfly rubbing his wings together,” he said.

    “There’s an orange butterfly and see this guy here, a big bumble bee,” he added.

  • Silhouette display a tribute to U.S. military

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Chiefland Farmer’s Flea Market Owner Sonny Griffeth wanted to do something special for holidays such as Memorial Day that celebrate those who serve in the United States military, so he brainstormed to come up with a plan.

    “I’m driving down I-75 going to a warehouse and I’m thinking what can I do?” Griffeth said. “Something I don’t see every day.

    “I was thinking of the memorials in Washington, D.C.,” he said.

    And that’s how Griffeth decided to pay tribute to all branches of military. He focused on recreating the famous Marine Corps War Memorial statue that depicts U.S. troops raising the American flag atop Mount Suribachi.

    The moment was captured on February 23, 1945 by Associated Press Photographer Joe Rosenthal who won a Pulitzer Prize for the image. Later, Sculptor and U.S. Navy Sailor Felix W. de Weldon constructed a life-size model of the image.

  • Levy County moves to prep Camp Azalea for satellite waste station

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    “We’ve made tremendous strides,” Levy County Solid Waste Department Administrative Director Rod Hastings told the County Commission on June 4 as he gave an update on the first of several satellite waste stations in the works for Levy County. “Everything’s already in place, groundwork prepared, permits prepared.”

    The 8-Mile location off of 347 was once used as a landfill and measures just under 11 acres. The County plans to open it after the new budget is established this fall and start to fade out the portable stations throughout the County.

    “Looking forward to electricity hook up, then concrete gets poured,” Hastings said about the prep work that has been completed at 8 Mile.
    Then he asked the commission to advise him on what station to focus on prepping next so he could get a 911 address established and get the power hooked up.

  • Chiefland graduates look to seize days ahead

    When you earn the distinction of class valedictorian, you’re rewarded with the burden of having to give the closing speech at your graduation.

    Chiefland valedictorian Trey Holland wasn’t thrilled about that prospect as he toiled over his speech in the run-up to the CMHS commencement on May 31 at C. Doyle McCall Field.

    But instead of shrinking from the moment, Holland was equally concerned the speech would be forgettable and formulaic.

    It wasn’t. What he delivered at the ceremony drew a standing ovation and left what is sure to be a lasting impression on his classmates and everyone in attendance.

    Holland began by calling up his good friend and classmate Hunter Barrand to join him on stage and play acoustic guitar in the background. He then outlined three pieces of advice, which included a reference to the movie Step Brothers. “Don’t lose your dinosaur,” Holland said in reference to the Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly film, meaning, “Don’t lose your passion in life.”

  • Levy County prepares for storm season

    By Suzette Cook/Reporter

    Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law during the annual governor’s hurricane conference on May 15 that gives Floridians a tax break on hurricane supplies starting May 31.

    Items such as batteries, generators, weather radios and fuel cans can be purchased without paying sales tax. The new law also provides several tax breaks to help with Hurricane Michael recovery, such as building materials, replacement fencing and hurricane debris removal. It also includes a one-year property tax break for farmers who can no longer use their land.

    A complete list of qualifying items is available at floridarevenue.com/disasterprep or by calling 850-488-6800. The list also includes tie-down kits, generators costing $750 or less, coolers and ice chests, battery or solar powered weather band and two-way radios.

    Levy County Director of Emergency Management John MacDonald, who attended the conference, said there were thousands in attendance this year.

  • County to auction off 42 properties

    By Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Investors looking to buy property in Levy County can show up at the Levy County Court House on June 17 at 10 a.m. to bid on 42 parcels.

    The properties have been escheated or reverted back to belonging to Levy County. The County researches escheated properties and decides on which parcels to keep as investments and which parcels to offer up to the public to enter them back on County property tax rolls.

    The minimum opening bids range from $200 to $16042.50 and, once purchased, the new owners won’t owe the current year’s property taxes.

    According to Levy County Attorney Legal Assistant Susan Haines, “Back taxes are gone, and the board voted to forgive taxes for the current year.” But Haines suggests potential buyers do their research because the properties are sold “as is” and future the property taxes become the responsibility of the new owner.

  • Indians come up a bit short in bid for state championship

    Chiefland’s bid for its first its first state championship in baseball fell one win short, but the injury-riddled Indians assembled a body of postseason work impressive enough to make for a remarkable send-off for 10 seniors and their head coach Kyle Parnell, who is hanging up his cap after 21 seasons.

    After qualifying for the Class 1A final four in Fort Myers with convincing 9-5 wins over Fort Meade and Dixie County, the club continued its breakout offensive success in the playoffs with a 7-2 state semifinal win over Bozeman (Panama City) at CenturyLink Sports Complex, Hammond Stadium, in Fort Myers on May 22.

    The win, combined with Williston’s come-from-behind victory over Sneads in the semifinals, set up an improbable all-Levy County Class 1A state championship on May 23. The Indians out-hit Williston 8-4 and benefited from a gutty 6.2-inning outing by a less-than-100-percent Keegan McLelland. But five errors proved costly for the defense, and CMHS was caught out twice too many times on the basepaths, as the Red Devils won 4-2 for their third state championship in six years (2014, 2015).