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NEWS

  • 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.

  • The search for a Williston city manager has shifted into high gear among City Council members.

    Twenty-four resumes for the position have been received in response to an ad placed in local papers and in communications of organizations such as the Florida League of Cities.

    City Council members will rate the candidates on a numeric scale according to predetermined criteria. The top candidates will be interviewed and subject to further scrutiny.

  • This is one of those weekends in Williston where, if you can't find something to do, you aren't looking very hard.

    One of the big events is for parents to bring their children to the Masonic Lodge on State Road 121 headed toward Gainesville. It's Child Safety Day, and it runs from 10 a.m. to about 3 p.m. The Levy County Sheriff's Office, Williston fire and police departments, Ocala Shriners, AARP, which will be holding a flu shot clinic, and other agencies will be on hand to provide information and demonstrations.

  • The Central Florida Peanut Festival is coming! This is a family-friendly event sponsored by the Williston Area Chamber of Commerce. It features a variety of delicious foods and assorted types of peanuts and peanut products, including our famous southern peanut pie! Rides, music, crafts, vintage cars and antique tractors will also be here for your enjoyment.

  • Claude Lewis, sports editor of the Chiefland Citizen, died Friday night while en route to a Chiefland-Hamilton County football game in Jasper.

    Details are sketchy, but the Suwannee County Sheriff's Department said a motorist saw Lewis pull to the side of the road, attempting to use an inhaler. Lewis had a history of asthma, according to his wife.

    By the time paramedics arrived, Lewis, 54, was dead on the scene.

  • The air was filled with congeniality and collegiality at Tuesday evening's city council meeting.

    The budget had been finalized after long and arduous negotiations; it awaits final approval at a special meeting on Sept. 23.

    The items on the agenda looked straightforward enough, and, indeed, only a few excited any discussion.

    Approval was given quickly for street closures for the Trail of Treaters on Friday, Oct. 31, for the Peanut Festival on Oct. 4, and for the Williston High School Homecoming Parade on Nov. 6.

  • Midtown Cruisers car club of Williston and Bronson partnered with Advance Auto Parts in a fund-raising car show to benefit Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

    Saturday's car show, held in front of the Advance Auto Parts store in Williston, attracted several hundred viewers from around the area. About 50 cars, from Bronson, Williston, Chiefland, Trenton and beyond, opened their hoods to show off in front of an appreciative crowd.

  • Dave Hutcherson, left, of the Amvets and the Marine Corps League, stands with Todd Etheridge of Perkins State Bank in front of a wreath placed at the Tree of Hope during a 9-11 memorial ceremony held Thursday morning, Sept. 11.

  • The problem is straightforward; the solution is going to be complex.

    That was the message Finance Director Mark Schiefer delivered to the city council and department heads at a workshop about the fiscal year 2008-2009 budget.

    The problem: according to Florida statute, the city must have a balanced budget by the end of September. At this point, after Schiefer has incorporated all of the directives given him by the council, the deficit is $309,067, based on a budget of nearly $13 million.

  • The Williston Rotary Club and the Williston Pioneer Sun News got the word out, actually lots of words, to third-graders at the elementary school last week.

    At an event held at the school's auditorium, members of the club and representatives of the newspaper distributed free dictionaries to each of the students.

  • The Levy County Commission is doing the end-of-year money shuffle as some departments have some cash on hand to help other departments strapped for cash.

    In its regular meting Tuesday morning, the commissioners approved moving money around to help six departments that were short of funds.

    The commission took cash from the following funds and departments:

    General Revenue, $180,561

    E911, $9,440

    Emergency Medical Services, $276,843

    Fire, $204,512

    Drug Task Force, $17,612

    Capital Projects, $542,157

    And gave funds to:

  • Mayor R. Gerald Hethcoat presented the first Student of the Month awards of the academic year at the City Council meeting on Sept. 2.

  • Access to the Walgreens parking lot will be improved in the next few weeks, but the closure of the Noble Avenue and Northwest Main Street intersection is permanent.

    At Tuesday night's meeting, Debbie Reilly, the manager of the Williston Walgreens store, asked Williston's City Council for better access to the store. She said that the closure of Northwest Main Street had made it difficult to access the store directly. Those driving east on Noble Avenue must turn at either Northwest 1st Street or onto Main Street, then access Northwest Main from Northwest 1st Avenue.

  • The Levy County Commission was taken aback to learn in a budget workshop that the new radio system used by law enforcement and emergency responders will be expensive to maintain.

    During a workshop for county constitutional officers Tuesday afternoon, commissioners were told the county's 332 hand-held and mobile units, which already cost $14.95 each per month in user fees are almost out of warranty and an extended warranty will cost $175 per unit per year. That's $58,100 per year on top of the $59,560.80 in user fees.

  • Hidden behind the blowing trees in a driving rain, this house at 20581 N.E. Highway 318 burned last Friday. "We're not sure how it started. When we arrived the flames were through the roof," said Williston Chief Lamar Stegall. "It was a new experience. I've never fought a fire before in 40 mph winds and rain blowing sideways." The Williston firefighters were assisted by units from Bronson and Morriston. Below, the overall scene near the intersection of 318 and U.S. 27.

  • It was a good day for incumbents in Tuesday's primary as three won re-election and others won their party's nomination for the November election.

    Almost one-third of the county's registered voters, 8,216 out of 25,070, cast ballots in the primary. All results are unofficial.

    While it was a primary to determine the nominees for the November general elections, three races were being decided as the Republican Party did not mount opposition for the Democrats.