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NEWS

  • Led by Pan Zettler, Joe Lewis, Frank Etheridge and a handful of others work began to form an organization that would promote Williston to not only Willistonians, but the outside world.

    It was 1985 and it was the formation of the Williston Area Chamber of Commerce.

    Last Friday, Lewis, one of those community-spirited people died after fighting the good fight with cancer. He was 89.

    “He was one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever known,” said Zettler. “There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do to help.”

  • There will be bad news for three employees at the Levy County Sheriff’s Office.

    They will lose their jobs in the coming year.

    That’s the news delivered by Sheriff Johnny Smith and Col. Mike Johnson to the County Commission as they delivered their revised budget proposal.

    “This is kind of sad in a way,” Johnson said. “It’s sad that we’re losing people.

    “I feel more consideration could have been given to the sheriff’s department.”

  • Fifteen Levy County residents have been treated with antibiotics after coming into contact with a 21-year-old woman who died of suspected bacterial meningitis at a Sumter County Hospital.

    Kellie Nichole Taylor, 21, died July 7, at The Villages Regional Hospital in The Villages in Sumter County where she was staying with a friend.

    Barbara Locke, administrator of the Levy County Health Department, said it was “a sad case.”

  • Williston Police Department is seeking the driver of a vehicle in which three aluminum foil-wrapped bricks of what is believed to be cocaine was found, according to a press release.

                The driver, whose identity is unknown, jumped out of the vehicle and fled after refusing to stop for and failing to elude Officer David Deonarine on Northeast 13th Street at about 11 p.m. Wednesday.

  • It’s the epitome of Southern living.

    Straight narrow roads lined with moss-draped oak trees; acres upon acres of verdant pastures surrounded by miles of rail fencing and a stillness that can only be felt in extreme rural areas.

    And residents in Morriston and Montbrook are afraid that life, as they know it, will come to an abrupt end if a proposed limerock mine gets a special exemption from the Levy County Board of County Commissioners.

  • It was the third (month) anniversary of Commissioner Marsha Drew’s appointment to the seat by Gov. Charlie Crist, but the fireworks that went off at the Levy County Commission meeting Tuesday morning were in a discussion about County Attorney Anne Bast Brown’s contract and job benefits.

  • The owners of a controversial exotic animal sanctuary in the Small Farms subdivision has filed a request for a special exception to zoning regulations to allow them to keep the lion, tiger, bear, two chimpanzees they have on the property.

  • The Florida Department of Education released school grades last week, giving the Levy County School District as a whole a B grade, the same it received last year.

    “We are proud of our schools, proud of our teachers,” said Patrick Wnek, Director of Curriculum. “We want to congratulate our students and teachers for a job well done – of course, parents play a big role in that as well.”

    Eight schools in the county received an A, including all elementary and middle schools, as well as Cedar Key School.

  • In an effort to streamline costs Superintendent Bob Hastings announced the elimination of eight administrative positions Tuesday, including Director of Literacy, Director of Secondary Education, Assistant Director of MIS/Technology, Coordinator of Testing/Attendance/Truancy, Coordinator of Supplemental Educational Services, Coordinator of ESOL, Teacher on Special Assignment over Instruction/Curriculum, and Evaluation Specialist.

    “The positions are no longer there or their responsibilities have changed,” Hastings told the School Board.

  • As an active Rotarian and president of the Williston Chamber of Commerce, Justin Head proves daily his devotion to his community.

    Friday night his efforts were rewarded when the Williston Junior Woman’s Club named him Citizen of the Year during the festivities at Horseman’s Park.

  • A large contingent of board members and supporters of the Williston Youth Athletic Youth Association attended Tuesday evening’s city council meeting and dominated the meeting with their concerns about the maintenance of the Dailey-Scales sports complex.

    The discussion had been sparked by a letter to the editor that appeared in the June 18 edition of the Pioneer. Jeff Holcomb and Bob Levesque officially represented the group, while several of the parents in the audience also spoke.

  • Col. Mike Johnson surely must wish he had accompanied Sheriff Johnny Smith on his religious mission to Romania rather than stand before the Levy County Commission Tuesday asking for a 3 percent pay raise in the annual budget.

    The county commission, which has asked departments to cut their budget requests by 5 percent from last year’s budget sent Johnson on his way with the direction to cut the sheriff’s budget by 5 percent.

  • The Levy County Commission operating with three elected commissioners, two suspended commissioners, one interim commissioner and a vacancy in an interim commission seat hit the wall with a tie vote that could not be broken Tuesday.

    The vote came during the regular meeting where Tax Collector Linda Fugate and County Judge Joe Smith asked the commission to terminate its contract for the Courthouse Space Study with Clemons Rutherford Associates of Tallahassee.

  • Over the last several years, conferring valedictorian and salutatorian honors on Levy County’s top-achieving high school seniors has been a process fraught with controversy and dissatisfaction.

    Complications in recent years include large numbers of co-valedictorians with identical GPAs, and unweighted GPAs causing students taking less-difficult standard high school courses to be honored over students taking honors and dual-enrollment courses.

  • Levy County School board took action this week on a tabled recommendation concerning Chiefland High School ESE teacher Mark Lundy.

    Lundy was suspended without pay two meetings ago on a recommendation by Superintendent Robert Hastings over an allegation that he falsified classwork for a student. At the last meeting, Hastings asked the board to dismiss Lundy, but Bronson board member Cameron Asbell objected, saying he felt the investigation conducted by the personnel office did not conclusively demonstrate Lundy’s guilt.

  • Sustaining a severe burn is one of the most painful and devastating injuries a body can endure. More than 250,000 of burn injuries occur every year in the United States and more than 10 percent of those injuries result in death. The Williston Fire Department is working to lower those statistics by first changing behaviors in our own community through a new nationally recognized and distributed burn education and prevention program called To Hell and Back: Community Awareness.

  • All five Levy County Public Library branches will have FREE Family fun this summer. Join in on the fun at your local library. Large groups are welcome, but please call in advance. For more information, contact your local librarian, or Jenny Rodgers, Youth Services Coordinator, 352-486-5552.

    Williston Public Library

    Monday, June 15 at10 a.m.

    Animal Adventures with Ranger Pam, Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys NWR

    Monday, June 22 at 10 a.m.

  • Volunteers across Northern Florida are organizing a T.E.A (Taxed Enough Already) party to be held on the 4th of July at Forest Capital Park in Perry, Florida, on U.S. 19 from 10:30 a.m. until noon.

    The T.E.A party is a national movement to protest the spending of trillions of dollars “which will leave future generations with a huge debt they must pay” according to one of the local organizers, Jan Hopkins. “It’s time to let the voice of the silent majority in this country be heard across the country.”

  • It’s a three-day weekend that promises to be filled with all things patriotic and some fun and games on the side.

    Start your holiday weekend here in Williston with the “Freedom–Our Heritage and Our Future” parade at 5 p.m. The Honorable Judge Joseph Smith will be the grand marshal for the parade. At least 60 participants have committed to participating in the parade that runs its course east on Noble Avenue.

  • The Levy County Tourist Development Tax, paid by guests at hotels, motels, RV parks and other rental places with a six-month limit on occupancy, are dropping and the county Tourism Development Council has been forced to be choosy about where it spends the taxes.

    In its meeting Thursday, June 25 to review grant applications for the November 2009 to October 2010 cycle, the council’s first action was to drop applications from new events that had not complied with paperwork requirements or provided a budget.