Today's News

  • Flea market vendors reveal their prized possessions

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Wally Hill has a 200-pound anvil complete with tools sitting in the back of his pickup truck parked at booth No. 4. It only that took four people to move. For a mere $450 it could be yours.

    More than 100 vendors man their booths throughout the rows of spaces inside and outside at the Chiefland Farmers Flea Market every week. Ask then what their prized possession are and you might be surprised.

    More than 15 years ago, Vendor Richard Bograd won a turn-of-the-century rocking horse at an auction in St. Petersburg, Florida. Bograd, who moved here 40 years from New Hampshire, says the ride made of solid wood and measuring 48 inches toe to toe is a rare piece of Americana.

    He left the horse in original condition, but said a buyer could update the markings. “I figured somebody might want to redo it.”

    He has four booth spaces, 46-49, with jewelry on one side and collectibles on the other. Hanging overhead is a bicycle built for two that Bograd said isn’t really for sale because, “he’s looking for someone to ride it with.”

  • Bronson volunteers answer call to save BPR

    A two-hour workshop meeting and a Bronson City Council meeting on June 17 led to a proposed ultimatum for Bronson Parks and Recreation (BPR) and its management of youth sports.

    A push from citizens to give the BPR Program another year led to a stipulation from Councilman Berlon Week that BPR remain in place another year as the caretaker of Bronson youth sports, under director Curtis Stacy, as long as at least five volunteers could be recruited to help run concessions. A community park cleanup day had been previously scheduled for June 29, making it a convenient date to hold a volunteer signup. BPR’s fate hung in the balance.

    Whatever the challenges and causes behind the decline in volunteers at the park, the town stepped up in a big way on clean-up day, as parents and grandparents came pouring out at James H. Cobb Park, where 44 volunteers attended.

  • Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge accepting comments on hunting permit fees

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) is accepting public comments on increasing the yearly hunter access fee for hunting on the Refuge. The current fee is $15.00 and we are proposing a $10.00 increase to $25.00 for the 2020-2021 season.

    The recreational fees will be retained by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a part of the Recreational Fee Program and used for road maintenance as part of the administration of the hunting program.

    The Refuge maintains 194 miles of public driving and secondary grass road/trails accessible by walking or biking, providing public access to some of the most remote parts of the Refuge.

    Since 1981, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has had authority to collect recreation fees. Since 1997, the Service has been able to retain fees collected at the station, first under the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program and then, in 2004, under the authority of Federal Lands Recreation

  • Fishing club owner wants to give back

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Gulf Hammock Fishing Club owner Dale McClellan grew up visiting and fishing in Levy County and has fond memories of riding on his cattleman grandfather’s tractor.

    On his 65th birthday, McClellan visited the Levy Board of County Commissioners to “Put a face with a name” and to make a pledge to the community.

    “If you’ve got a cause, and it needs a facility,” McClellan said, “you can consider that facility yours.”

    McClellan said he purchased the Waccasassa Fishing Club a year ago and has been making improvements ever since.

    He renamed it Gulf Hammock Fishing Club and labeled it as being “In the heart of the Nature Fishing Coast.”

    McClellan lives in Hillsborough County when he’s not at the club but says, “I’m not a guy here from out of town trying to cause harm to this community. I love Gulf Hammock, I love that river, and spent a fortune updating the facility.

    “If you ever have a need, wedding funeral, we can hold quite a number of people.”

  • Warren named Levy County Extension Agent

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Newly hired UF/IFAS Extension Agent Mark Warren was introduced to the Levy Board of County Commissioners at the July 2 meeting.

    Warren will earn an annual salary of $79,900 paid by 40 percent ($31,960) from Levy County and 60 percent from the University of Florida ($47,940).

    According to the University of Florida Agricultural Extension Service, “UF/IFAS Extension Levy County educates the people of Levy County in the areas of agriculture, livestock, horticulture and 4-H youth development. It is a partnership between the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and the Levy County government.”

    Warren will work under the direction of Levy County Extension Director Ed Jennings and the Northeast District Extension Director Eric Simonne.

    Levy County Coordinator Wilbur Dean said it was a process to get the position filled due to a recent hiring freeze at UF.

  • Skulls become canvases for local artist

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Artist Mike Fett is sitting on a stool under a tree listening to Garth Brooks and enjoying a slight breeze.

    His acrylic paints are spread out and his latest skull score is resting on a crate in front of him.

    It’s already been sealed with white paint and has become a the perfect canvas for Fett, 63.

    “The whole process is about five hours,” Fett says about how long it takes him to paint a cattle or hog skull.

    “Sometimes I work on one, set back and look at it, figure out what I want to do next.

    “Color contrast makes a difference.”

    Fett is a self-trained artist. “I was always good at it,” he says.

    But his craftsmanship and eye for detail come from his decades spent as a carpenter.

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    “Built more than a hundred homes in Gainesville,” he says.

    Fett move to Florida from Indiana in 1979 and has lived in Jonesville, Williston and now Old Town.

    He scores his skulls from friends who come across them and from a hog farm he worked at.

  • 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.

  • Chiefland High School Academic Awards

    Subjects area awards

    Social Studies
    US History: Alan Hord
    World History: Reagan Hudson
    Economics: Aidan Horne
    AP Art History: Jasmine Alvarez
    AP Human Geography: Coburn Hardee

    Math for College Readiness: Delores Briones-Gonzalez
    Liberal Arts Math: Jessika Weekley
    Algebra 1: Carlos Salazar-Diaz
    Algebra 1A/1B: Braden Smith
    Algebra 2: Aliyah Spain
    Geometry: Coburn Hardee
    Statistics and Probability: Karsyn Hardee
    Informal Geometry: Kaitlyn Rickner

    Marine Science: Hunter Barrand
    Biology: Jada Cooper
    Biology Honors: Coburn Hardee
    Environmental Science: Bryanna Roland

    English Language Arts
    English 1: James Rains
    English 1 Honors: Madison Trester
    English 2 Honors: Coburn Hardee
    English 3: Sam Mills
    English 4: Amber Moran
    AP Literature: Jackson White
    AP Language: Alana Hord
    Spanish 1: Karsyn Hardee
    Spanish 2: Hunter Barrand

    Industry Certifications

  • 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.