Today's News

  • Chamber Banquet issues trio of major honors to community leaders

    Three major honors were the subject of the Greater Chiefland Area Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet on May 2, making this year’s edition a big draw. Hosted at Haven in Chiefland with a slew of door prizes and an auction hosted by Daniel Jerrels, the banquet combined the Citizen of the Year and the Business of the Year awards and for the first time added the First Responder of the Year award.

    The funds raised from the auction go to a children’s backpack food program and a scholarship fund supported by the Chamber.

    The Chamber also presented the family of Betty Walker a special plaque for the late Chiefland Mayor’s “many years of dedication, caring and generosity to the community of Chiefland, Chiefland.” Walker passed in February after serving seven terms as mayor and more than 15 years on the City Commission.

    The Citizen of the Year award went to a tireless advocate for working service dogs, Barbara Snow, who is the executive director for the Southern Region of the U.S. War Dogs Association, Inc.

  • Chaplain a treasure at Chiefland flea market

     By Suzette Cook/Reporter

    “If they have a funeral, I’m there. If they have a marriage, I’m there.”

    Chiefland Farmer’s Flea Market Chaplain Dick Brown says he serves  hundreds of  vendors and customers every weekend.

    On a typical Saturday morning he might be hanging out in a booth sitting under a T-Rex dinosaur mounted on the wall like a prehistoric trophy. Or maybe he’s helping a couple who works at the flea market plan their upcoming wedding. 

    For Brown it’s about making sure that nobody feels disconnected from the church experience because they’re job requires them to work Fridays through Sundays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    “If you’re working weekends, it’s hard to attend a church service,” Brown says.

    I’m here if they need anything,” he adds. “If people need prayer,” I’m here.

    Brown says he never interferes during a sale as he makes his way through the market. He is soft spoken but friendly and easy to approach.

  • County road adjacent to RV park on paving list since 2003

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    The two-mile long road known as Levy County Road (LCR) 201 that runs adjacent to Strawberry Fields RV Park in Chiefland has been on Levy County’s road paving and resurfacing schedule for 16 years.

    That list, re-prioritized in 2013, is about to come under scrutiny as a result of a 4.5-hour-long special meeting hosted on April 30 by the Levy County Board of County Commissioners.

    Commission Chair John Meeks said the prioritizing of the list is a staff-level decision while putting roads on the list is left up to the commission.

    “It’s your responsibility to vette these roads, make sure they meet the criteria, and the roads that are on here, we need to do a hard count,” Meeks told Road Department Coordinator Alice LaLonde.

    “There are roads on here that don’t match our criteria and they need to be removed,” he added.

  • Weatherford steps down after three decades at CAAA

    Wayne Weatherford can remember when baseball was the only sport available for Chiefland youth. While he oversaw the evolution of the Chiefland Area Athletic Association (CAAA) – an umbrella organization that houses baseball, softball, football, basketball and soccer leagues at Charles Strickland Recreational Park – that became a relic of the past.

    Weatherford officially stepped down as president of CAAA in April after serving three decades on the board. Looking back, he’s most proud of helping facilitate more access to more sports for young Chiefland athletes.

    “Being able to offer sports for children in our area, and knowing we can make a difference in their lives, that’s what meant the most to me,” Weatherford said. “Anytime you ride by Strickland Park, there is something going on.

    “I’m thrilled because I was born and raised here and I’ve seen it when we didn’t have the programs.”

  • Valdosta promises early spill notice, makes upgrades to sewage facilities

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Levy County Commission Chair John Meeks brought back some answers after a visit with Valdosta, Georgia officials where sewage spills were taken to task.

    On March 19, the Board unanimously adopted a resolution that insisted that Valdosta answer concerns about making progress on sewage spill prevention.

    Meeks said those concerns about spillage were put into perspective and that facility upgrades have continued despite the fact that Valdosta has received no financial aid from FEMA or state agencies after a calculated 6 billion gallons of rainfall landed inside the municipality over a three-day period resulting in a sewage spill that affected downstream counties.

    “The incident happened in December and sparked the outrage that we have as citizens of Florida,” Meeks said.

    But what he learned in an hour-long time period with Valdosta officials and Georgia Tech engineers clarified the situation.

    “They’re doing as much as they can,” Meeks said about made major investments in improvements.

  • Levy County residents can help map internet connectivity

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Levy County Commission Chair John Meeks can prove internet connectivity is below Federal Communication Commission (FCC) standards and so can any resident who wants to help supply data for a nationwide experiment that could help improve internet service.

    During the comments section of the April 16 meeting, Meeks took his phone out and encouraged residents to prove that the lack of reliable internet in Levy County is unacceptable.

    “If you would take the time to download this on your phone and more importantly tell two of your friends to download this on their phones,” Meeks said about the app TestIT which was developed for the National Association of Counties (NAOC).

    According to NAOC’s website “a Rural Community Assistance Partnership and Rural LISC have teamed to develop the “TestIT” app to collect data that can be used to advocate for funding for broadband infrastructure in unserved rural areas.

  • Third generation rancher sets stage for life lessons

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Cattle Rancher Eugene Carter III is at home on a horse named Tennessee. He is flanked by his two Black Mouth Cur dogs that are under his command just as the five bulls in front of him are. With a series of whistles, Carter, 56, steers the dogs that steer the bulls, and they all make their way across his arena.

    On the other side of the pen, a new generation of bull riders is gearing up. Spurs, vests, helmets, chaps.

    For Carter, a 1980 graduate of Chiefland High School, where he was an active member of the FFA, this is a full-circle moment.

    Carter said he built his first bull riding ring back in 1986 and named it “the dungeon.”

    “I rode bulls, my brother rode bulls,” Carter said. “We had cows, and me and Daddy and my brothers would get our bulls and try to ride them.”

    Carter started hauling bulls and now, more than 30 years later, he manages 90 acres, 75 head of cattle and is the founder of Renegade Rodeo. Carter’s four sons followed in his footsteps helping out on the ranch and learning the ins and outs of rodeo and arena life.

  • Bess the Book Bus is a calling for Rotary visitor

    The Suwannee Valley Rotary Club welcomed a special guest on April 18, as Jenn Frances, owner and manager of Bess the Book Bus, showed how she introduces the love of reading to children across the United States.

    Frances, who has a degree in child psychology, began her book bus business 16 years ago when she was looking for a career change.

    “I was very unfulfilled in what I was doing,” she recalled. “I started journaling and I was having trouble sleeping.” Frances the idea just came to her one day and she felt it was what she was meant to do.

    Frances started the book bus in the Tampa area and now makes nation-wide trips to visit schools and detention centers. Her visits begin with read-alouds with the students. Frances says the story time is very interactive. After the read-alouds, the students shop on the book bus. Each student is allowed to pick one book. Frances also goes to community events. There is no charge for the books.

    Frances says she has given away over 71,000 books through the book bus program.

  • Trenton veteran stays active despite disabilities

    Mike Worner, a 55-year-old veteran from Trenton, has been disabled since he was 22 years old. Worner is a quadriplegic who cannot use his legs and only has use of his fingers on one hand.

    While working on a submarine in the Navy, Worner one day had to go ashore to retrieve supplies and was hit by a newspaper delivery vehicle traveling 70 MPH. He was serving on the USS Dallas in Groton, Connecticut during the time of the accident.

    After his accident, Worner, who served two years in the Navy, tried everything he could to learn to walk again. At the point he realized that he would not be able to walk, he began to adapt to his lifestyle as a quadriplegic, not allowing his disability to get in the way of his favorite activities.

  • Guardian ad Litem needs more volunteers

    Suzette Cook, Reporter

    Lisa Siedzik, the newly appointment chair of the Guardian ad Litem Foundation is raising awareness and asking for community support and for more volunteers to help children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected.

    At Chiefland Rotary, Siedzik gave the background and mission of the program that serves the Eighth Judicial Circuit which includes Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy, and Union counties.

    According to its website, “The Florida Guardian ad Litem Program will continue to be a powerful and effective voice advocating for the best interests of Florida’s abused, abandoned and neglected children and be recognized and respected as a partnership of community advocates and professional staff. To the fullest extent possible, this vision will be realized through volunteers who will advocate as Guardians ad Litem for the children they serve.”

    Program volunteers are trained to visit children on a monthly basis to check on safety, and to be a mentor and collect information and identify resources.