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NEWS

  • “Who’ll give me a 10 dollar bill?” was the question of the night Saturday as auctioneer Bob Martin of Otter Creek helped ring up more than $2,300 in sales of donated items to benefit Suwannee Valley Players.

    The Players are just six weeks into a massive, year-long fund-raising push to bring in $20,000 towards renovating the historic Chief Theatre. Saturday’s auction struck the first blow in the effort, as area businesses and individuals dug deep to help the 27-year-old community theater group upgrade its premises.

  •  National Hurricane Center in Miami announced early this morning the formation of the first named storm of the 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

    As of 11 a.m. Saturday, Tropical Storm Ana was moving west at 16 mph with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. It was located approximately 920 miles east of the Leeward Islands, the chain of islands southeast of Puerto Rico, latitude 14.3 north and longitude 48.3 west.

  • Tropical Storm Claudette is located approximately 100 miles west-southwest of Levy County and is moving north-northwest at approximately 16 mph.

    The Storm is a relatively small system, said Charlie Paxton of the National Weather Service-Ruskin. Cedar Key can expect only a half to one foot above normal tide, he said.

    There is a 40 to 50 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms this afternoon for the Levy County coastal areas.

    “All the rain is off shore right now,” Paxton said. “As for this afternoon, nothing is certain right now.”

  • Tropical Depression Four is located approximately 100 miles west-southwest of Levy County and is moving north-northwest at approximately 16 mph.

    The Depression is a relatively small system, said Charlie Paxton of the National Weather Service-Ruskin. Cedar Key can expect only a half to one foot above normal tide, he said.

    There is a 40 to 50 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms this afternoon for the Levy County coastal areas.

    “All the rain is off shore right now,” Paxton said. “As for this afternoon, nothing is certain right now.”

  • It’s seen the likes of F. Lee Bailey, David Cassidy, Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist. Who knows what celebrities it will draw when the multi-million dollar renovations are complete at Williston Municipal Airport.

    Earlier this week, construction crews bustled as they worked on what will be the new Fixed Base Operator (FBO), a 10,000 square foot service center that will have lounges, conference rooms, restrooms and areas for offices, flight planning and a control room.

  • For over 10 years it has been home to plays, musicals and workshops that have entertained patrons from across the region.

    Now it’s in need of a facelift and its supporters are calling on you to see that it gets done so future generations can enjoy entertainment from the only playhouse in Levy, Gilchrist and Dixie counties.

    The Chief Theatre in Chiefland is in the midst of an aesthetic overall and the costs are daunting, Peggy Rowe, one of the Suwannee Valley Players told chamber of commerce members last week.

  • The Levy County Tourism Development Council approved two advertising grants last week for the Williston Area Chamber of Commerce.

    The Central Florida Peanut Festival received $2,500 and the 4th annual Recreational Fest and Fly Market also received $2,500. Both applications requested $5,000 each.

  • “Now remember, anything we do here tonight is temporary,” said Bob Clemons, Finance Director for Levy County Schools. The School Board of Levy County was convened in the first public hearing to approve the tentative millage and tentative budget for the 2009-2010 school year.

  • The idea of the city providing health insurance for elected city council members and the mayor at no cost to them was discussed briefly at Tuesday evening’s city council meeting.

    State statute allows for “local government units” to pay for all or part of the health care premiums of elected officials. The estimated cost per member in Williston is $360 per month, for a total of more than $25,000 annually.

  • Imagine advising farmers on raising food crops and cattle in Florida’s heat and alternating wet and dry spells, not to mentions hurricanes, tornadoes and lightning strikes.

    Now, imagine advising farmers in Iraq where the temperature can reach 120 degrees in July and August, a dusty dry wind blows from April to June and the 120-degree heat after June gets a little help from a steady flow of dry air. Florida’s hurricanes are replaced by dust storms over there. And rain occurs mainly from December through April.

  • Williston Police Chief Dan Davis will be around for a while.

    At Tuesday evening’s city council meeting, council was presented with a letter sent by city clerk Valerie Anderson after she spoke to Chief Davis about his “requirements for retirement.”

    In the letter, signed by Davis at Anderson’s request, he says that he would consider retirement if the city would contribute 3 percent to his retirement fund (the police rate) rather than the 2.25 percent that applies to general employees.

  • Three seats are open in the Sept. 8 Bronson Town Council elections and qualifying has already brought two challengers and plans for a political rally on Aug. 29 at Bronson Youth League Park.

    Up for election are the seats held by: Aaron Edmondson in Seat One, Vice Mayor Beatrice Mongo in Seat Three and Melody La Flam in Seat Five.

    Restaurant owner Jim Beck, who heads the town’s Sewer Committee, has announced he will seek the seat held by Edmundson.

  • The property tax millage for Levy County is tentatively set at 8 mills, but that could change as the Board of Commissioners keeps whittling the budget for the upcoming fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

    County Coordinator Fred Moody said property owners will see the 8 mills rate on their TRIM (Truth in Millage) notices that will be mailed out, but that rate is not set in stone and it could go down.

  • The Levy County Emergency Management has filled a gap in the communications loop throughout the region this week with the arrival of eight new satellite phones, according to LCEM Director Mark Johnson.

    “This plugs a huge communications hole in Levy County,” Johnson said. “If the area is hit with a major storm and all other communications are down, the satellite phones create an emergency responder communications web. We’ll be able to know exactly what the needs of each community are.”

  • Levy County Commission Chair Nancy Bell had a closed door talk with fellow Commissioner Danny Stevens after the two sparred in a public meeting over her plans to attend a national conference while forcing budget cuts on county constitutional officers, departments and agencies.

  • Levy County Commission Chair Nancy Bell says the county is in “dire straits” financially in the coming year and she would like to see across the board budget cuts of 5 percent from this year’s funding levels.

    But Sheriff Johnny Smith’s representative told the commission in a budget workshop Tuesday that if funding is not maintained at its current level patrol cars will be parked and “three or more” people will be laid off.

  • Levy County property owners might want to free up a few hours this coming Tuesday evening. At 5:01 p.m. on July 28, the Levy County School Board will hold its first public hearing on the 2009-2010 budget, including the proposed property tax millage for the coming year.

  • Owen Chad “Cracker” Johnson has been named to the Levy County Board of Commissioners District 1 seat, nine months after Gov. Charlie Crist suspended Tony Parker for being indicted on federal charges.

    Crist’s office made the announcement Wednesday afternoon after spending most of the day calling the other applicants.

    Johnson, 38, is married to Angela Quincey. The couple has four children, Tyler, Quin, Bryden and Maddilyn.

  • The human element entered budget negotiations at the city council’s second budget workshop last week.

    Joining city manager Marcus Collins and finance director Mark Schiefer in their presentation was C.J. Zimoski, the representative of the city’s union, AFSCME. He was there to discuss the elimination of two positions from the Public Works Department, caused by the outsourcing of solid waste collection at the beginning of June. Mark Schneider, one of the two displaced workers, was there as well.

  • More beach closings on the Rainbow River are possible as the county tightens its standards for water quality at public swimming areas.

    On July 22, the Marion County Health Department recommended closing the Village of Rainbow Springs Beach, Rainbow Springs State Campground Beach and Dunnellon City Beach as well as KP Hole Park Beach.

    Water samples from these locations failed on two successive tests to meet the U.S. EPA’s recommended limit for enterococci bacteria — bacteria found in the intestines of all humans and warm-blooded animals.