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Cedar Key Art Fest
winners are announced

Best Of Show - Joseph Fry of Clanton, Ala., stands with his sculpture and his blue ribbon.

Published March 30, 2015 @ 7:27 a.m.
Photos by Bill Kilborn
     CEDAR KEY --
Now named the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts, Cedar Key's its 51st Annual Spring Arts Festival wrapped up Sunday (March 29) with winners being named.

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   The event was coordinated by the Cedar Key Arts Center. It provided an experience that was unique for both the artists and the visitors.
     The two-day event included non-profit organizations preparing and serving local seafood and homemade goodies, as well as root beer floats and smoothies. There was live music in the park at the Gazebo both days from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.


     Children's activities in the park included the Cedar Key Arts Center's Children's Art booth, face painting and an opportunity to have a picture taken with a "real" mermaid.
     The complete list of winning artists follows:
Best Of Show - Joseph Fry of Clanton, Ala. - Sculpture
Painting - Steve Andrews of Tallahassee - Best 2D
Sculpture - Leland Williams of Crescent City - Best 3D
Award of Excellence, Printmaking - Cynthia Pagel
Award of Creativity, Jewelry - Herb Brown
Awards of Distinction -- Virginia Chen, painting; Maryann Jefferson, fiber; Maggie Joynt, jewelry; Alve Krietemeyer, sculpture; Curtis Krueger, photography; Donna Leeward, painting; Tony Moore, drawing; Richard Morris, wood; Kathryn Page, fiber; David Mack, ceramic; Glenn Purdy, mixed medium; and Mark Van de Bogart, jewelry.

Girl detained as suspect
of making threats for extortion

Published March 27, 2015 @ 10:57 p.m.
     WILLISTON -- A joint press release issued by the Levy County School Board, Williston Police Department and the Levy County Sheriff's Office shows a 17-year-old girl has been detained as a suspected criminal.
     On Friday afternoon (March 27), Levy County School Board personnel and LCSO deputies became aware of a handwritten note found at Williston High School. The writer of this note made threats to commit violent acts at WHS on Monday (March 30).  
     Through the combined efforts of all three agencies, a 17-year-old female Williston High School junior has been arrested. Investigators were able to develop the juvenile as a suspect and quickly obtain a verbal confession.  
     After conferring with personnel from the Eighth Judicial Circuit State Attorney's Office, the suspect was taken into custody and charged with making threats for the purpose of extortion.
     The evidence shows that the note was delivered for the purpose of compelling the removal of a WHS teacher that the suspect did not like. The suspect was transported to the Levy County Detention Center and was then released into the custody of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.  
     Despite the arrest, the investigation is continuing. Anyone who has information regarding anything related to this incident is encouraged to contact the LCSO at 352-486-5111 or anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-877-349-8477.

Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties set to participate in Operation Green Light;
People can save up to 40 percent from late payment of tickets, fines and fees;
-- Gilchrist County cases can go to the clerk's office too!

April 18 is the day

Levy County Clerk of the Circuit Court Danny Shipp speaks to reporters about Operation Green Light.

Story, Photo and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © March 26, 2015
Updated March 27, 2015 @ 4:57 p.m.

     TRI-COUNTY AREA -- Levy County Clerk Danny Shipp held a press conference Thursday afternoon (March 26) to announce an opportunity for people with old tickets, fines and fees hanging over their heads to have a bit of an amnesty.
     If the payment due has been turned over to Pioneer Recovery Services collection agency, then that added fee from the collection agency (40 percent) will be forgiven if the person pays the whole remainder of their debt on April 18 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In this video, Levy County Clerk of the Court provides a brief explanation of Operation Green Light.

    Dixie County Clerk Dana Johnson said the same Operation Green Light offer is extended from her office via Pioneer Recovery Services, however the payment will be allowed from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on April 18.
     Gilchrist County Clerk Todd Newton uses Pioneer Recovery services as well. Like Levy County, the hours for Gilchrist County will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
     * However, there is one special benefit for Gilchrist County cases. Not only will those individuals be able to call Pioneer Recovery Services, but Gilchrist County Clerk Newton said they can go in-person to his office on that day during those hours to pay their late traffic tickets, fees and court fines.
     Clerk of the Court Shipp said this offer is for one day only. Any unpaid traffic tickets, court fines and fees will be accepted if paid in full. The extra charge for collection service – between 25 and 40 percent – will be forgiven.
     Payments will be accepted only by calling Pioneer Recovery Services at 1-800-836-2442 or 386-742-0068.
     Clerk of the Court Shipp said he was pleased to make the announcement about amnesty. The members of the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers (association) voted to do this, he said, and Shipp was among the majority who voted “Yes.”
     Collection agencies like Pioneer agreed to the proposal, which at one time was going to be for one week rather than for part of one day, Shipp said.
     This offer gives people a chance to pay outstanding tickets, fines and fees and in some cases to have driving privileges restored.
     “For one day only,” he said, “the clerk’s office is putting the brakes on the collection fees.”
     “Please take advantage of this one-day free event by calling collection services at the toll free number at 1-800-836-2442 or 386-742-0068.”
     Shipp said this same date is a statewide event.
     As one gauge of the possible money involved, Shipp said one full year of tickets equaled 386 traffic tickets with a value of $99,000. Of that money $64,000 was collected, Shipp said.
     In Levy County since the year 2010, there were 5,822 tickets issued (including for DUI and criminal traffic issues). That had a value of $1.34 million. Of that, $1.34 million, only $291.921 was collected.
     Every clerk’s department – traffic, civil, criminal, etc., has a performance measure by the Florida Legislature, which shows the clerks in Florida must meet these collections.
     For tickets in Levy County, the clerk’s office sends a notice of past due after 30, 60 and 90 days. On the 90th day, if the county has not collected payment for the fine, it goes to collections, Shipp said.
     If a traffic ticket is not paid in 30 days, the license of the violator is suspended. If a person is caught driving while they have a suspended license, it is another civil infraction, which generates a new fine.
     Levy County started with Pioneer Collection Services in 2010, and the county sent the collection agency tickets from 2005 up until the time when they had become just 91 days late. Therefore, there could be tickets as far back as 2005 that are in this collection system.
     “If a judge turns it into a civil judgement,” Shipp said in regard to old tickets, “that judgement goes automatically to the collection agency. We don’t wait the 90 days on that.”
     Shipp said the clerks of courts in Florida are trying hard to meet the legislated mandates for collecting fines, fees and other court-imposed penalties.

Chiefland invites county
to explain ALS report

(from left) City Commissioner Teresa Barron, City Commissioner Rollin Hudson, Mayor Teal Pomeroy, Vice Mayor Betty Walker and City Commissioner Chris Jones look at the report on the cost of ALS. They were in the Tommy Usher Community Center Monday (March 23) to have a place for more people to provide input on an economic development program.

Story and Photo
By Jeff M. Hardison © March 24, 2015

      CHIEFLAND – A report from a consulting firm contracted with Levy County reported the possible improvement of the fire department offering an Advanced Life Support (ALS) of response is very expensive, according to conversation by the Chiefland City Commission at its meeting on Monday (March 23).
      The city leaders want to have a meeting with the county leaders, and with the report writers, to see if there is some method to reduce this projected cost.
      One mantra recited by some Chiefland City Commission members is that the ALS service from Chiefland Fire Rescue (CFR) was not going to cost anything. Mayor Teal Pomeroy is hanging onto that initial statement when Fire Chief James Harris first introduced the idea.
      Vice Mayor Betty Walker appeared to have gotten beyond that deal-breaking point when she first asked everyone to move forward with the plan.
      While the difference between an ALS level of response by CFR, in comparison with the first aid level that is currently allowed until an ambulance arrives, can mean the difference between life and death, or at least it could make a difference in the speed of recovery and level of recovery.
      Nevertheless, the county government and the city government have budgets that may not accommodate a level of life-saving service beyond the status quo.
      City Manager Mary Ellzey had recommended the city’s “working group” for ALS meet to confer about the report, and then report back to the City Commission.
Walker is the person who recommended having a meeting with the County Commission, and with the public invited to watch.
      Mayor Pomeroy said the report now shows the city would spend about $70,000 more a year than it spends to save lives, but the county is showing a bill of $153,000 a year for the CFR to adopt an ALS non-transport mode. That is, the fire department would respond as it does, except it would provide a higher level of medical services to people who suffer from accidents, illnesses or injuries that require a quicker, better response than simple first-responder first aid.
      Walker said she has questions as a result of seeing this report from the county’s consultant, whom the city is paying up to $10,000 to have completed the report.
      “I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt,” Commissioner Teresa Barron said. “Maybe they had interns working on it or something. But I don’t think this answered all the questions that the (City) Commission had.”
      Barron said that since the city is “on the hook” for paying for the report, it has a right to hold the report-generators accountable for answering questions. Barron said the report shows the report writer did not take reasonable care to find what the city expected for a level of service.
      Barron said the report-creator used “some other county’s call data” because it was alleged there was not call data to be used from Levy County. She found this statement to be without merit from her perspective, because there is call data on every single call for fire assistance or health assistance from the CFR.
      “I think this study is flawed,” Barron said.
Pomeroy said he believes that if the city tells the county that the study appears to be flawed, then the county may not want to work with the city to achieve a better level of emergency medical care in Chiefland and the surrounding unincorporated part of Levy County.
      “The people who did the study have not done all of their homework,” Barron said. “They have got to put some of these figures in, and…”
      “I don’t want to see no more figures,” Pomeroy said as he cut off Barron in mid-sentence.
      When Pomeroy again said he heard there would be zero cost for the improved response from CFR, he used the term “tell tales.”
Barron said this is not the case.
      “The way we had it figured, it was not going to cost any (extra) money,” Barron said.
CFR Deputy Fire Chief Gene Stockman said Barron’s statement was true.
      “The original cost,” Stockman said, “was going to be for the first round of supplies, and the ambulance was supposed to trade out with us. It would be $16,000 to $20,000 one time, not $60,000 a year.
      “Since then,” Stockman continued, “in an effort to not provide this service, the county has added all of these stipulations where we have to carry as much stuff as the ambulance has on it; and run calls that are not even in our zone.”
      Walker said this is why she believes another public meeting with the county is needed; so that the public can hear an update on progress that is being made toward having CFR able to provide ALS to people in need who are within the Chiefland-county fire service area. is
a great place to advertise!

Fifty-Sixth Jingle Singers

The newest performers of the jingle are three singers who competed March 19 in the Bronson Middle High School’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes singing contest. They are (from left) Nicole Dubois, 17, Victoria Torpey, 17, and Fantasia Brannan, 15. They performed the jingle on March 19, 2015. Everyone is invited to sing the jingle. If you see Jeff Hardison and you want to sing the jingle, just let him know or send an email to He asks people to sing it, too, and some of them agree to sing it. (Thanks people!) The next jingle performer has not been recorded yet.
Published March 21, 2015 @ 8:07 a.m.
-- Video by Jeff M. Hardison

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MON.    MARCH 30  7:27 a.m.
Levy, Dixie, Gilchrist counties

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