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NEWS

  • In the wake of mid-year projected budget cuts of $1.9 million, the School Board of Levy County needs to lay off 50 employees, according to Director of Finance Robert Clemons.

    "We should have reduced our staff levels by at least 25 at the beginning of this school year," Clemons wrote in a letter to the Board dated Nov. 26. "Now that half of the year is gone we need to reduce our staff levels by 50 to achieve the same results."

  • Williston High School will be getting a new principal.

    Mike DeLucas confirmed Wednesday that he has resigned, effective the end of the year.

    DeLucas will become instructional leader for the Florida Virtual School, which means he is the virtual principal of 110,000 students in the state.

    The Florida Virtual School enables students to take courses online for various reasons. One common reason is that their school does not offer the course they wish to take.

  • The U.S. Census Bureau is looking for a few good people to work in the 2010 Census and at least one Chiefland official is hoping the count gets done accurately.

    Project and Finance Director Laurie Copeland says Chiefland's population in the 2000 Census fell two people short of qualifying for more federal grant money.

    "We're two recorded people between the 650,000 category and 700,000 category" for Community Development Block Grant, she said.

    "The federal government is using the 2000 data. . . and there is no way to change it."

  • The Levy County Commission has a message for citizens: "We are Open for Business."

    During its 35-minute meeting Tuesday morning the three commissioners left no question that the county will continue normal operations despite the suspensions of two county commissioners facing federal trials on bribery charges.

    "We do have a quorum and the people's business will be conducted as it has always been," said Commissioner Nancy Bell of Chiefland, who moved up from vice chair to chair of the commission.

  • Marilyn L. Keels, 76, of Chiefland, died Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008, at Seven Rivers Regional Hospital in Crystal River.

    Born in Newark, Ohio, she moved to Chiefland from Bradenton 11 years ago. She was a retired dental office manager, enjoyed making dolls, was an avid quilter and member of the Suwannee Quilting Club.

  • Levy County School Board member Billy Morrison resigned Tuesday morning in the aftermath of being charged with a misdemeanor.

    Board member Paige Brookins read aloud a letter from Morrison that stated he had sent his resignation to Gov. Charlie Crist.

    Brookins said that Morrison had asked her to read the letter dated Nov. 18 so that it could be added to the official Board minutes.

  • Robert Hastings was sworn in as Levy County School Superintendent Tuesday morning, becoming one of the first Republicans elected to countywide office in Levy County.

    "We keep in mind in all we do that we are bettering our system, thereby helping our children," Hastings said. "We need to remember that we are working with our students so that they can have a good and healthy and productive future."

    Judge Joseph E. Smith administered the oath for Hastings, as well as Board members Paige Brookins and Beth Davis who ran for re-election unopposed.

  • "Unbelievable!"

    Osborn "Oz" Barker's reaction to being elected as Levy County Property Appraiser may well sum up the feelings of the county's Republicans as they won two offices for the first time in history.

    In addition to Barker, who unseated incumbent Democrat Francis Akins, voters chose Republican Robert "Bob" Hastings as county school superintendent.

    "It feels great," Hastings said. "It's something I've looked forward to for a long time."

  • At its Nov. 4 meeting, the Williston City Council named Marc Nussel to fill council seat B, which was vacated by the resignation of Cal Byrd.

    Nussel was a member of the council for eight years in the 1990s and most recently was the caretaker of the seat vacated by Justin Landon.

    Nussel, who is the owner of Williston Crane and Equipment, has indicated that he will run for a seat in the March elections. He will be sworn in at the next City Council meeting.

    The other applicants for the seat were Betty Fender, Lindsey Hager and Anthony Della Rocco.

  • Cookie King stands on the corner of Noble Avenue and Main Street in Williston Tuesday morning waving to motorists. "I've been here since 9 a.m. and I'll stay here as long as I can stand, because I love America," the local Realtor said. Residents were lined up to vote at local polling places Tuesday morning.

  • One incumbent was ousted Tuesday in Levy County as Property Appraiser Francis Akins lost to Osborn Barker.

    Barker collected 9,529 votes or about 51 percent, to 8,817 for Akins.

    In the hotly contested school superintendent race, Bob Hastings defeated Jeff Edison, 9,566, or 54 percent, to 8,304. Hastings has worked in all three areas of the county and most recently was the principal at Chiefland High School. Edison has worked under the retiring Cliff Norris for years.

  • The Williston City Council agreed on its unanimous first choice for city manager after interviewing the five finalists for the position in a marathon session on Oct. 23.

    He is Marcus Collins, currently the city manager of Crescent City, a position he has held since 2005. Collins has indicated strong interest in the Williston position since it was advertised.

  • The remaining field of five candidates for the Williston city manager position will be interviewed on Thursday, Oct. 23, in the City Council chambers, beginning at 1 p.m. Each candidate is allocated an hour. The interviews are open to the public.

    Three of the eight chosen for personal interviews, Jim Gallagher of Winter Haven, Robert Mearns of Fort Walton Beach, and H. Blake Proctor of Fairmont, N.C., have withdrawn their names from consideration.

  • A Williston boy who would have turned 4 next month died last week in an ATV accident north of Williston.

    Aaron Donald Ford, known as Peanut, who was born Nov. 8, 2004, died when an ATV driven by Michael J. Hoolihan, 51, drove into a rock pit filled with water, according to a release from the Florida Highway Patrol. The accident occurred on private property at 5550 N.E. State Road 121, about a mile north of Williston, at about 10 p.m.

  • Tayelen Seabrook and Reagan Jones are the 2008 Little Peanut King and Queen for the Williston Peanut Festival.

  • After some opening pleasantries, the Williston City Council focused on the subject that concerns everyone in the nation: finances. Paying expected bills, authorizing some unexpected expenditures, contracting for budgeted items and suggestions for new revenue streams were the primary thrust of the meeting.

  • Two Williston residents were crowned as the Baby Peanut winners in the annual Peanut Festival contest held Saturday, Oct. 4, at Williston Heritage Park. More photos and details of the festival will be Thursday's print edition.

  • Williston's City Council held a special meeting on Tuesday evening to determine which among the 24 candidates for city manager they wanted to interview.

    Each council member and Mayor Gerald Hethcoat had been asked to rate the candidates based on criteria that could total 100 points. Those criteria included education (the advertisement had specified at least a bachelor's degree in business or public administration) and employment history (the ad specified three to five years of public employment in Florida, at either the city manager level or below with increasing responsibility.)

  • Members of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) took a stroll during their Monday evening meeting.

    Williston's Interim City Manager Mark Schiefer suggested the outing as a prelude to talking about the progress on the first block of Heritage Park and a couple of difficulties that had been encountered. They looked at sidewalk paving, where some unanticipated curbing will be required.

  • The Williston City Council gave final approval to resolutions 2008-23 and 2008-24 at a special meeting on Tuesday evening.

    The first of those resolutions set the millage rate for the 2008-2009 fiscal year at 5.9025 mills. That was the rollback rate recommended by Finance Director Mark Schiefer and accepted at earlier meetings by the council. The roll back rate represents the millage rate that is necessary for the city to realize the same ad valorem revenues as in the last fiscal year, based on property values.