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City Commission considers
ordinance revision to limit
RV stays in Chiefland RV parks


Alan Wallace, one of the developers of Southern Leisure RV Resort, speaks to the Chiefland City Commission. (from left) Mayor Betty Walker, City Commissioner Donald Lawrence and City Commissioner Chris Jones are on the other side of the desk from Wallace. In the background on the left is City Manager Mary Ellzey, who is also the clerk of the city, and Deputy City Clerk Laura Cain. Out of view behind this camera angle are City Attorney Norm Fugate, City Commissioner Teresa Barron and City Commissioner Rollin Hudson.

Story and Photo
By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 12, 2017 at 11:27 p.m.
     CHIEFLAND --
The Nov. 27 and Dec. 11 Chiefland Planning Board and Chiefland City Commission meetings are part of the process leading to a potential "five-star" RV resort being built in Chiefland.

 


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     At the Monday night (Dec. 11) second round of the Chiefland Planning Board and then Chiefland City Commission meetings there was some action, and there was some tabling of other action as developer Alan Wallace represented himself and other entrepreneurs involved in this venture.
     Attorney Stephen C. "Steve" Booth served as the spokesman for developers at the Nov. 27 meeting.
     The first phase of this resort is 218 units on 46 acres, Booth said. Construction costs for this part of the project, he said, is about $5 million. Other acreage adjoining the RV resort is planned for commercial purposes in the future.
     The City Commission unanimously approved the final site plan for Southern Leisure RV Resort on a motion by City Commissioner Donald Lawrence seconded by Vice Mayor Chris Jones on Dec. 11. Acting as the Planning Board, the same five people reviewed the request and the same two members made motions and seconds to recommend approval to themselves.
     As for a request to change one ordinance issue – which currently requires an RV to move off of a site after 180 days – the City Commission tabled its decision on that request until it meets in January.
     At the meeting two weeks ago, attorney Booth told the City Commission that the developers wanted to have the city's ordinance in regard to RV parks amended. He described this proposed development as being “different from the typical mom and pop facility."
     Adding to this overview, Booth noted the RV resort will be providing about twice as much space per-vehicle in contrast with what the current ordinance shows as a mandatory minimum amount of space-per-RV.
     One key issue was that "Recreational Vehicles are not to be set up for more than 180 consecutive days," according to the current ordinance. One possible modification might be changing “set up” with “occupied,” however the City Commission is not leaning in one direction or the other on this issue yet.
     On Nov. 28, Booth surmised the 180-day rule was from the Federal Emergency Management Agency wanting units to remain mobile for flood zone issues. He said this land is not a flood zone. He did not mention that Florida has a hurricane season from June 1 through Nov. 30.
     Another thought about why to leave the 180-day limit in place in Chiefland is that at some point, the original developers would not be the owners of the property. The new owners might allow a degradation of parked vehicles to occur to the point of it become a blighted slum, like some trailer parks have evolved in Florida over the past several decades.
     During the meeting on Dec. 11, Wallace explained that "park models" are stable structures that do not move. He added that his marketing model -- which has shown successful development of RV resorts in Florida during the past 30 years -- allows the lot-renters to leave their RVs on a lot year-round.
     Wallace said they may live in the RV for three months, four months or even as long as six months, but then most of the RV resort residents return to their northern homes -- especially in the summer.
     While attorney Booth intimated that not changing the 180-day limit could be a deal breaker, Wallace took the tabling of that request well on Monday night.
     City Commissioner Teresa Barron led the thinking behind waiting before changing this part of the ordinance. Barron said the city leaders need to think before they change that aspect of the municipal law.
     There is another RV park planned for construction within a few miles of this one. Wallace said he believes Chiefland will benefit from both RV parks being established.
     In a city with a population of about 2,500, however the sudden influx of another 250 or so people will be felt. Many of these RV owners are retirees. The increase of medical calls to Chiefland Fire Rescue was not directly addressed at the late November meeting or the meeting on Dec. 11.
     City Manager Mary Ellzey said there is an impact fee for new development, when she was asked that question by HardisonInk.com.
     There were repeated references to Williston Crossings RV Resort, a development that Wallace and others brought back from being a derelict property. However, the Williston Fire Rescue and Chiefland Fire Rescue are two different departments.
     WFR Chief Lamar Stegall has a wealth of professionals who volunteer. Many of the firefighters, EMTs and paramedics in Williston have paying jobs in that profession as they work in Levy, Marion and Alachua counties.
     There is not that much volunteer talent in the Chiefland area.
     City Manager Ellzey said she believes the ordinance regulating RV parks in Chiefland needs to be updated.
     Vice Mayor Chris Jones suggested that interested city residents show up at the January meeting of the City Commission, because  that may be the night when the city leaders choose to do away with any requirement to limit the amount of time that an RV owner is allowed to park a vehicle in the resort.
     This resort will be a gated community, with a pool, clubhouse and other amenities.
     Wallace said the people who will be using the spaces are bound to spend money within the city at restaurants, stores and gas stations.
     As for the Olympic-size swimming pool being a magnet for ne'er-do-well juveniles who might jump a fence and require police escorts, that has not been a problem in Williston.
     Any stress the influx of winter residents might put on traffic, police, fire or other resources all appears to be within manageable numbers, because there have been no objections from any person to these recreational vehicle parks.
     City Attorney Norm Fugate mentioned that the winter visitors at the RV park in Williston add to the pews in churches in that city. For the dozen or so members of the Rotary Club of Williston, there have been a couple of winter members in the past.
     In her discussion about a preference to have RVs not being in place for longer than 180 days, Commissioner Barron said she thought this was going to be an RV park where that is the case.
     Barron said she thought the people would come in the winter and then go with their RVs after a few months.
     Wallace said he and his partners encourage RV owners to leave their vehicles in place year-round. Some RV owners, he said, are relatively old and they prefer not to drive back and forth with these huge vehicles.
     By having renters care for the small plots of grass around their parking spaces, it improves the quality of life for the RV resort residents, Wallace said. Some RV owners buy small storage sheds and place them next to the lots that they rent.
     If people take their RVs and their added touches when they leave during the summer, he said, it will take away from the aesthetic value that exists. The resort might look like a vacant ghost town.
     “That’s your job for landscaping,” Barron said in response to Wallace commenting about the RV owners who rent lot space.
     Wallace said the resort management does take care of landscaping.
     “If every site was vacant six months out of the year,” Wallace said, “it would look vacant. We encourage people to leave their rig, go home and then come back to it.”
     Wallace said he has developed four parks from start to finish in Florida, and he has found this method makes it so “You don’t end up with Section 8 people.”
     Twenty-five years ago, Wallace said, he developed an RV park in Zephyrhills. Emerald Pointe RV Resort in Zephyrhills was first developed by Wallace, he said, and it continues to be a high quality park.
     Wallace, who is the chairman of the board of the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, said he has a passion for this way of life. This is affordable housing that provides a lot of enjoyment to many people, he said.
     Wallace opened a new RV park in January of 2017 with 275 sites in Brooksville. It is 100 percent booked to be full this winter, he said.
     As for changes the city leaders might make to their relatively old ordinance for RV parks in regard to the sections discussed on Nov. 28, City Manager Ellzey said the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council is amicable to the city revising its ordinance as discussed on Nov. 18.
     Ellzey provided the City Commission members with 25 pages of documents that include the Florida Statutes, the current city ordinance in regard to the 180-day rule, the ordinance used by the city of Newberry, the city of Williston’s ordinances for RV parks, and the Sumter County ordinances related to RV parks.
     Mayor Betty Walker championed the idea to table the decision about changing the 180-day stay limit in Chiefland until the first meeting in January, to give all of the City Commission members time to read the material, and formulate their own ideas in this regard.
     Likewise, this will give constituents a chance to call their city commissioners to share their feelings about what the city might ask of the developer before changing the limits on how long an RV can stay in the park or resort.


Ho Ho Ho

Tavon Sheffield, 2, wasn't sure what to make of the big man in red but he did manage a friendly smile on Saturday (Dec. 9) in Chiefland.
To See The Story And Other Photos, Please Go To The LEISURE PAGE.

Photo by Terry Witt © Dec. 10, 2017 at 4:27 p.m.

 


CF Jack Wilkinson
Levy County Campus conducts
first GED graduation


All but three of the Fall Class of 2017 CF GED graduates are seen moments before the ceremony.

Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 8, 2017 at 7:47 p.m.
All Rights Reserved
     LEVY COUNTY –
Twenty-two people earned the privilege to walk through the line and accept their General Equivalent Diploma (GED) on Thursday evening (Dec. 8) in a commencement exercise at the College of Central Florida (CF) Jack Wilkinson Levy County Campus.
     This was an historic moment because it was the first set of GED graduates to complete the program at this brand new campus. Previously, these graduates would accept their diplomas at the Tommy Usher Community Center.

 


CF Jack Wilkinson Levy County Campus Manager of Instructional Services Holly McGlashan opens the program on Thursday night.


     Before the ceremony started, CF Levy Campus Manager of Instructional Services Holly McGlashan shared her feelings about the adult education program at CF.
     “We transform lives,” McGlashan said. “Nothing says this more than the GED program. We open doors that would not be open before for our graduates. What we do in adult education is life-changing.”
     CF Levy Campus Manager of Instructional Services McGlashan provided the introductions of staff members at the ceremony.
     CF Adult Education Instructor Richard Anderson led the packed room in the Pledge of Allegiance. This ceremony was conducted in the Dr. and Mrs. Jack Mann Conference Center.
     The "Mrs." of the title of the conference center is Loy Ann Meeks Mann.
     The Manns were among the first of many significant contributors who led to the campus being completed in Levy County. Jack Mann passed away at the age of 75 on July 11, 2013, in what used to be the Haven Hospice Care Center in Chiefland.
     That care center closed recently, but Haven Hospice still provides its services at homes in the area.
     Loy Ann still resides in the area.
     Earlier in 2013, in January of that year, a man who would mark his 76th birthday that month graduated with his GED from CF at the Tommy Usher Community Center.
     Like the event on Dec. 7, 2017, the Thursday evening event on Jan. 17, 2013, was a commencement exercise.
     Fred Oliver of Chiefland never went past the eighth grade, he said, and that was back in 1953.
     “When my wife developed Alzheimer's three years ago, and had to be placed in a nursing facility, I decided to spend my alone time wisely,” Oliver said. “In January of 2012, I enrolled at the Chiefland campus (of the College of Central Florida), and passed all my tests by November. I was also awarded a grant to attend the CF Levy Welding Technology class also in the Chiefland area to become a certified welder.”
     Oliver was one of the 23 graduates walking through the line on that Thursday evening four years ago.
     The most recent CF GED exercise, however, was the very first at the new campus.


CF Enrollment/Student Services Coordinator Leah Gamble introduces Krystle Skelly. Sitting to the left in the photo is Christine Dunn.


CF College Educational Advisor Krystle Skelly congratulates the graduates on their accomplishment.



In this video, part of the presentation by Krystle Skelly is captured.

     CF Enrollment/Student Services Coordinator Leah Gamble introduced Krystle Skelly – college credit advisor, the keynote speaker of the night.
     Skelly was previously more involved in the adult education program at CF and she said she misses the interactions she had with previous students who earned their GED at CF.
     While each graduate will walk away from the night with their own perspectives, she said, each graduate can share in having pride in accomplishing this goal.
     All of the GED recipients that night share a common accomplishment with Mary Lou Retton Kelley.
     Better known by her maiden name, Retton is a retired American gymnast. At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, she earned a gold medal in the individual all-around competition, as well as two silver medals and two bronze medals.
     Other people who earned GEDs that were mentioned by Skelly were Oscar De La Hoya, a former professional boxer who competed from 1992 to 2008; Frances Ann "Fran" Lebowitz, an American author; the late David Robert Jones, known professionally as David Bowie, an English singer, songwriter and actor; Curtis James Jackson III, known professionally as 50 Cent, an American rapper; Mark Robert Michael Wahlberg, an American actor; and TV Judge Greg Mathis.
     These famous individuals and many other successful men and women earned their high school diplomas via the same method as Thursday night’s graduates, she said.
     “These individuals overcame poverty, personal barriers and situational struggles in order to earn their diploma,” Skelly said. “They did this, and they went after their goals with perseverance and did not give up until they achieved what they wanted.”
     By putting in hard work, that night’s graduates had reached this goal.
     Skelly mentioned that in her years of watching the GED graduation ceremonies, she has seen people from all walks of life accomplish this goal. She even mentioned seeing Mr. Oliver accept his diploma back in 2013.
     Another recipient she mentioned was a young man who had undergone so much chemotherapy as well as an operation that he needed assistance to graduate with his classmates.
     She has watched single mothers who were dealing with work while earning their diplomas, and two of them are currently enrolled in college and are doing well.
     Another student Skelly spoke about had a one-hour commute one-way to attend classes in the welding program, and he completed the program to earn certification in welding.
     As the attendees accepted their diplomas, they were recognized by a line of people – Enrollment/Student Services Coordinator Gamble, Adult Education Instructor Will Rucker and Adult Education Instructor Anderson.
     Christine Dunn directed the students to turn their tassels.
     “I would like to extend a special thank you, to the wonderful faculty and staff of the CF Levy Campus,” Gamble said in her closing remarks, “to our graduates who give us a reason to celebrate, and to our graduation speaker tonight, Krystle Skelly. Graduates ~ I would like to encourage you to make the most of everyday and your future can be bright. Congratulations and let us know if we can help you as you continue your journey. Thank you all for coming out and sharing in this celebration with us.”
     The Fall 2017 National Adult Education Honor Society Graduates were Danielle Gabaldon, Esther Judson and Charles P. Plateroti. The other 18 members of the CF GED Fall Class of 2017 were Michael Barbieri, Pristina Birchfield, Mark Boivin, Timothy “Will” Childers, Wendy Collins, Mayra Cruz, Delsin “Izzy” DeJarnette, Cody Field, D’artagnan Harrelson, Thomas “Tommy” Luczak, Tricia Norman, Carol “Shelby” Ozard, Charles R. “Charlie” Plateroti, Austen Reynolds, Angellica Rottman, Cody Sedwick, Douglas Simpson, Zachary Steck and Justin Whitehead.
     There were cookies and punch for refreshments, and photo opportunities provided after the ceremony.


Williston moves forward with
$2.5 million City Hall project


Williston City Council members Marguerite Robinson and Kori Lamb think about matters during the Tuesday night (Dec. 5) meeting
Story and Photos

By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 8, 2017 9:37 a.m.
     WILLISTON –
After some discussion between Williston City Council President Charles Goodman and Preconstruction Manager Derek Dykes of Oelrich Construction about a four-foot by four-foot “mud room” to be on the outer part of the future Williston City Hall, the four City Council members present Tuesday night (Dec. 5) told City Manager Scott Lippmann to move forward with a $2.5 million construction project.



Williston Mayor R. Gerald Hethcoat and City Council President Charles Goodman sit at the front of the City Council Meeting Room Tuesday night.


(from left) City Councilman Elihu Ross, City Manager Scott Lippmann and
City Attorney Frederick L. Koberlein Jr. perform their duties during the City Council meeting Tuesday night. 


     City Council Vice President Nancy Wininger was absent Tuesday night.
     City Council President Goodman is very familiar with construction matters. Charles and Sue Goodman of Goodman Construction have over 30 years of experience in the North Central Florida Area, according to information on the Goodman Construction company website.
     The City Council president suggested that rather than a “mud room,” the workers who visit City Hall after first rinsing at the City Barn work area (next to the police and fire stations), just have a shower and bib structure.
     On Friday morning (Dec. 8), City Manager Lippmann confirmed that the revised construction plan for the future Williston City Hall shows a rinse-off station for boots. The area to rinse work boots will be located outside of the back door for City Hall. It will have a low wall around it and be in the open air outside, Lippmann said.
     Another matter President Goodman spoke about Tuesday night -- before the City Council gave the go-ahead for Oelrich Construction to move forward with its work -- was columns inside the lobby.
     Goodman said he is more interested in function rather than aesthetics. These are not load-bearing structures, and while they might help with traffic flow, the discussion about those columns Tuesday night showed that traffic flow was not part of the plan for the architect placing those columns in the lobby.
     Nevertheless, as it stands, those columns are part of the construction set to happen.
     When it came to the point of a method to pay for project, City Manager Lippmann said, the cost will be an estimated “$2.509 million” and this calculates to be about $209 per square-foot. That figure, the city manager said is within a good range for costs on a project like this.
     City Finance Director Stephen Bloom, Lippmann said Tuesday night, has told him that the city can pay for the future City Hall.
     “He (Bloom) is probably going to propose,” Lippmann said, “a combination of using some reserves to bring down the amount that we borrow. And the rest would be amortized over 30 years.”
     Lippmann said the USDA Rural Development group has a grant-loan program for municipalities that is at 4 percent now. Bloom will conduct more research, Lippmann said, to potentially save the city even more money through funding with banks and other institutions.
     President Goodman said he is hearing that interest rates are going to increase in the near future, as he gave his endorsement to tell the construction company to move forward with site-preparation work.
     The for city leaders Tuesday night gave the green light to Oelrich Construction to keep going on the planned future Williston City Hall.


Some of the many lights in Heritage Park of Williston are seen here. The city's Christmas Parade and Light Up Williston event on Saturday (Dec. 2) was a resounding success.

 

Bell High School Honors
Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day


On Thursday (Dec. 7), in honor of National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, members of the Bell High School unit if the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps had an opportunity for some hands-on history. The BHS JROTC cadets raised a flag to half-staff at their own flag pole at Bell High School. This flag was flown over the Battleship USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. It was lent for the occasion by instructor First Sergeant Jon Meinholz who had it from his Army re-enlistment while stationed in Hawaii in 1986. Since all battleships are named after states, the cadets had the eight state flags of the eight battleships in the harbor that day. They were the USS- Arizona (sunk/memorial), Oklahoma (sunk), Tennessee, West Virginia, California, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Maryland. The cadets had the opportunity to learn a little bit more about this pivotal day in the nation’s history that propelled the country into World War II, and to honor the sacrifices made that day by brave men and women.
Published Dec. 7, 2017 at 1:07 p.m.

Article by United States Army First Sergeant (Retired) Jon Meinholz
Photo Provided by United States Army Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Jim Duthu,

SAI, Bell High School JROTC

 


Mike Joyner Award announced
by Florida Intelligence Unit


Mike Joyner is seen in his seat as a member of the Levy County Board of County Commissioners

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 6, 2017 at 11:07 p.m.
     BRONSON --
Levy County Commissioner Mike Joyner was honored Tuesday morning (Dec. 5) when County Commission Chairman John Meeks shared with the general public information from an email that was sent to County Coordinator Wilbur Dean.
     The Florida Intelligence Unit is hosting its annual training workshop this week, FIU Conference Manager Leslie Rabon (of the Leon County Sheriff's Office) noted in an email on Dec. 5 to Coordinator Dean.

 


County Coordinator Wilbur Dean speaks to the County Commission Tuesday.

     The current FIU officers are President Tully T. Sparkman of the Second Judicial Circuit State Attorney's Office; Secretary Norman Miller of the Sixth Judicial Circuit State Attorney's Office; Sergeant-At-Arms Brandon Harvey of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office; and Treasurer Edward "Butch" Doyle, retired Maitland police chief.
     Farnell Cole, board advisor and past president, is of the Alachua County Sheriff's Office. Mike Joyner, board advisor and past president, is retired from the Levy County Sheriff's Office and is in his second four-year term as a member of the Levy County Board of County Commissioners.
     Attorney Paula M. Sparkman, a shareholder at Messer Caparello, is the FIU legal advisor.


County Commission Chairman John Meeks



County Commissioner Rock Meeks


County Commissioner Matt Brooks


County Commissioner Lilly Rooks



     The FIU has existed since 1961, Rabon noted for Dean.
     “This year,” she wrote, “the board of directors announced the implementation of a law enforcement officer of the year award program.
     “Beginning in 2018, FIU will launch the award solicitation for the Mike Joyner Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award,” she continued. “This award was named in honor of him – his beliefs, character, morals and many career-long achievements.”
     Rabon noted that Joyner has served on the FIU board and is a past president and current advisor still.
     Joyner served as a law enforcement officer for almost 40 years, and even after retiring he continues to serve the people of Florida, Rabon wrote.
     This award was developed to honor him and officers who go above and beyond the call of duty,” Rabon wrote. “It represents the personal and professional sacrifices that they and their families make on a daily basis to ensure the safety of the citizens of the state of Florida.”
     A standard plate or plaque or trophy would not suffice as the symbol presented for this award, Rabon said.
     Therefore the association is working with a local artist in the Panhandle to create a custom award “that represents all things Mike Joyner-his faith, his family, his career and most of all his heart.”
     As Chairman Meeks read the note, he mentioned his respect for Joyner and his years of service.
     He called for a standing ovation and everyone stood
     Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum was in the audience on Tuesday morning. He mentioned that he has served with Joyner for many years.
     Sheriff McCallum said he himself has been an FIU member and was chaplain at one point, having been nominated to that honorable position by Joyner.
    Joyner was a key investigator in the conviction of serial killer Aileen Carol Wuornos. She was executed Oct. 9, 2002 by lethal injection.
     She was executed for the 1989 killing of Palm Harbor electrician Harry Mallory, but has confessed to five others and was a suspect in a seventh. Mallory's trial was held in Daytona Beach.
     “Wuornos was the first woman to be executed in Florida since Judy Buenoano was electrocuted March 30, 1998,” journalist John Koch noted in 2002. “Buenoano was known as the "black widow" for poisoning her husband, drowning her handicapped son and for trying to kill her boyfriend. She was a suspect in the poison death of another boyfriend in Colorado, but she wasn't charged.
      “Buenoano was the first woman to be executed in Florida since a freed slave was hanged in 1848,” Koch said.
     Information about Joyner's role in capturing that serial killer shows that he was an undercover officer at the time.
     Marlee MacLeod noted that two undercover officers known as "Bucket" and "Drums," drug dealers down from Georgia, hit the streets hoping to track her down. On the evening of Jan. 8, 1991, Mike Joyner and Dick Martin, in their roles as "Bucket" and "Drums," spotted her at the Port Orange Pub.
     “They meant for their takedown to develop gradually, as they wanted an airtight case, but Port Orange police entered suddenly and took Wuornos outside. Mike Joyner frantically phoned the command post at the Pirate’s Cove Motel, where authorities from six jurisdictions had come to work the case,” MacLeod wrote.
     MacLeod in her writing shares more details about the role of Joyner and Martin in gathering evidence to bring in the killer, who was arrested in Marion County in January of 1991.
     As for Joyner, this was just one case in several cases he worked as an undercover officer and as a uniformed deputy. His final eight years were as a bailiff in the Levy County Courthouse, which is where he performs some of his duties now as a Levy County Commission member.
     Sheriff McCallum said on Tuesday that Joyner even worked in the Levy County Jail as an “inmate” and helped uncover suspected drug dealers through his undercover operations.


Atheists lose

Levy County Attorney Anne Brown speaks to the County Commission.

Story and Photo
By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 6, 2017 at 4:17 p.m.
     BRONSON --
Levy County Attorney Anne Bast Brown told the County Commission on Tuesday (Dec. 5) that the county won in its defense against a suit brought by a group of atheists.

    One central point of the suit is that the county did not treat the non-believers with equality when they asked to erect a monument. The group was reacting to a historic monument of The Ten Commandments that is on county property next to the Levy County Courthouse.
     The group has 30 days to appeal the decision by the federal civil court judge in Gainesville.
     The county's legal representative in this matter, Brown said, had argued that the action should be summarily dismissed based on the plaintiff lacking standing. The judge agreed, Brown said.
     Charles Ray Sparrow, a member of Williston Atheists, a group of about a dozen nonbelievers that applied for the monument in January of 2014, has expressed his opinion that the county did not treat his group's request to place a monument with the same standards applied to the group that put up the monument of The Ten Commandments.
     Sparrow and his group received approval to proceed with their lawsuit in 2016 as Federal Judge Mark E. Walker of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida looked at the matter.
     Judge Walker dismissed the case this week, however, saying that the atheists didn’t have proper legal standing to bring the case forward. Since Sparrow only is thought to have visited the courthouse to see the monument, the injury he allegedly suffers from seeing it is not significant.
     The judge ruled Sparrow lacked standing because he does not visit the Levy County Courthouse much.
     Sparrow was noted to have failed to satisfy the “direct and unwelcome personal contact” standard. Hence, he lacked standing to bring the suit.
     There was no reason to think Levy County officials were selectively applying rules to the atheists that were not applied to all others equally, as far as the brief facts and evidence brought to bear so far showed.
     United States District Court Judge Walker appears to have noted the atheists wasted the court's time by not following procedure better.
     "... maybe if Plaintiffs try a little harder their next application will be accepted. But it’s doubtful that’s what Plaintiffs really want… Rather, like with their Establishment Clause claim, it seems that the only reason Plaintiffs filed these applications was to hastily manufacture standing. Indeed, when given an opportunity to file their amended application, Plaintiffs chose to argue about the guidelines instead of attempting to comply with them."
     The plaintiffs had filed a complaint about equal protection, and about the county's alleged violation of the Establishment Clause, Brown said.
     Levy County Attorney Brown said that after the time passes for an appeal, and when this issue is finished, she plans to review it with County Coordinator Wilbur Dean to see if there is a method for the county to reduce its vulnerability to attacks like this in courts.
     This after-the-fact review is something Brown does for all of these types of incidents, she said.
     "We will be looking at the guidelines, application forms, to see what changes we may need to make," Brown said.
     Brown reminded the County Commission that some other group of atheists may bring another claim against the county in federal court, or this group may attempt to appeal the most recent decision on the matter.


Sheriff speaks about
Nov. 16 shooting death


Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum addresses members of The Fourth Estate - broadcast, print and Internet (which is both) on Tuesday afternoon (Dec. 5).

Story and Photo
By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 5, 2017 at 4:27 p.m.
     BRONSON --
Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum on Tuesday afternoon (Dec. 5) reiterated some of the same information previously shared by LCSO PIO Lt. Scott Tummond, FDLE Communications Writer Gretl Plessinger and Eighth Judicial Circuit State Attorney William Cervone in regard to the shooting death of a man by LCSO deputies on Nov. 16.

     Beyond the information in the two related stories published in Monday morning and afternoon (Dec. 4) in HardisonInk.com (scroll down on the POLICE PAGE), the sheriff could give few details. However, he was able to express some more information about the process, about his personal feelings and the impact this incident had on dispatchers -- as well as the law enforcement officers at the scene.
     The sheriff addressed broadcast journalists from the CBS and ABC affiliates in Gainesville, and a weekly reporter from the Chiefland tabloid-sized newspaper, and a publisher from a daily news website.
     Sheriff McCallum said the FDLE investigation is not complete. At some point in the future, it will be done. The State Attorney’s Office will see that report and it will be shared with the Levy County Grand Jury.
     Eventually, some of the information from the investigation will be made public.
     The sheriff said the family members of Michael Wesley Goodale, 34, are innocent victims from this incident.
     The three deputies involved have been through debriefing and counseling, as well as having been checked out for their physical health.
     Before allowing them to return to duty, Sheriff McCallum said, it is his policy to assure they are emotionally and physically able to perform their duties as deputies. Two of the three men, he said, suffered minor injuries – although not from Goodale, but from the performance of their duties on that night.
     Due to this still being an active investigation, the sheriff declined from giving more details about exactly what happened that night.
     In addition to the psychological assessment being completed for all three deputies, Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell provided the services of the ACSO Critical Incident Debriefing Team, Sheriff McCallum said, adding that he is very appreciative of her assistance in that regard.
     Another set of LCSO employees who were helped by the ACSO Critical Incident Debriefing Team, Sheriff McCallum said, were the 9-1-1 tele-communicators who were involved with this call for help, the response and the aftermath.
     The sheriff said he met individually with each deputy after the tragic turn of events on Nov. 16.
     The first deputy he cleared to return to active duty was Deputy Gary Garboski. Then Sgt. Kevin Kinik and Deputy Bob Cannon were allowed by the sheriff to go back to work. All three had been on paid administrative leave, pending the initial findings of the FDLE and pending their completion of health-related exams.
     The sheriff said “They did what they had to do.”
     When asked for the policy of the Sheriff’s Office about a deputy drawing a weapon, the sheriff said deputies have a right to defend the lives of residents, visitors and themselves, from great harm, injury or death.
     Goodale was unresponsive to following commands even after being tazed by two deputies, McCallum said.
     “There was a lot of verbal discussion going on,” McCallum said. “They did everything they could to prevent this from happening.”
     The sheriff mentioned that one of the deputies felt disappointed and discouraged in the outcome, because he has had much better success in deescalating domestic dispute issues in the past.
     “My deputies, other than minor injuries, were safe and able to go home to their families, when they were released (from medical care),” McCallum said when he was asked about how he felt. “Obviously, we don’t ever want this to happen in Levy County. We don’t want to have to take someone else’s life. Again, in my opinion, from what I know … I am very proud of the restraint my deputies showed as long as they could show it. I fully support the deputies and the actions that they took.”
     The sheriff said it is important, too, to remember the impact on 9-1-1 tele-communicators. They go through trauma on a daily basis as they talk to people in distress and seeking help, the sheriff said. They dispatch deputies to the scene, and they worry about the deputies as well as others, he added.
     “We go to a domestic violence scene every day of the year,” he said.
     This call came into the 9-1-1 dispatch as a “family-related” call, the sheriff said.
     Even though the investigation is incomplete, the sheriff said he has no doubt about his choice to put the deputies back into service. Likewise, he completely backs their action.


Marines win
Toys For Tots distribution
is scheduled for Dec. 15 and 16


Some of the Tri-County Area Toys For Tots Team of volunteers is seen here on Saturday at Walmart in Chiefland. They are (from left) Beverly Goodman, A.D. Goodman, Madison Chrisp, Bryan Chrisp and Norma Santiago.
~
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 2, 2017 at 8:17 p.m.
With An Added Photo By
Assistant General Manager Amanda Bryant of Bass Pro Shops - Gainesville
     CHIEFLAND –
The Tri-County Area’s Toys For Tots gift distribution slated for Dec. 15 and 16 looks like it is going to be another success for the United States Marine Corps Reserves.
     With final registration on Saturday (Dec. 2) and with that being the conclusion of a two-day last effort for gift-giving at the Walmart in Chiefland, Tri-County Toys For Tots Coordinator Bryan Chrisp said he feels comfortable with the results.


LCSO Sgt. Max Long is seen with Avie Studstill. This little girl donated a Baby Room Play set with two dolls and accessories. Sgt. Long awarded her with a stick-on badge for her good deed.


This cruiser is stuffed. This was the second year for the Levy County Sheriff’s Office to help the Toys For Tots campaign in the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties. The LCSO called its effort 'Stuff The Crusier' and that was on Friday and Saturday. Check out the stuffed toys on the cruiser's light bar and floodlight. 


     Children with the last name of the registered parent with letters A through M are scheduled to accept their gifts on Dec. 15 in the Walmart parking lot from 3 to 6 p.m.
     Children with the last name of the registered parent with letters N through Z are scheduled to accept their gifts on Dec. 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
     As for Saturday’s action at Walmart, Chrisp was in the thick of things with help from his daughter Madison Chrisp. His son Johnathan Chrisp was active with another project with his school.
     Three volunteers manned a tent for final registration. A.D. Goodman, Beverly Goodman and Norma Santiago helped people register. Santiago provided interpreter services for people who speak Spanish.
     Beverly Goodman, who is the manager of the Tri-County Community Resource Center, mentioned some of the Dixie County contributors to the toy collection effort this year. Among them were the Ameris Bank in Cross City; the First Baptist Church in Cross City; the Suwannee River Baptist Church of Old Town; the Dixie County Public Library in Cross City and there was a Dixie County Chamber of Commerce meeting where members brought toys.
     Among the significant participants beyond the USMC Reserve this year again was the Levy County Sheriff’s Office.
     LCSO Sgt. Max Long of the LCSO Community Relations Division manned the cruiser on both Friday and Saturday to accept toys from donors. Sgt. Long mentioned that some people gave money to buy toys.
     During the collection period on Friday, Long said there were four boxes filled with toys.
     Chrisp, who is also coordinating the Alachua County Toys For Tots efforts, said he is extremely thankful for one particular retailer in Gainesville; and for a hospital as well.


Here are eight of the many boxes of toys that Bass Pro Shops of Gainesville donated to help the children of the Tri-County Area have a good Christmas this year.

Photo Provided by Assistant General Manager Amanda Bryant of Bass Pro Shops - Gainesville

     Chrisp said he can’t say enough about all of the help from Bass Pro Shops of Gainesville to assure the Tri-County Area’s Toys For Tots event succeeds this Christmas.
     Not only is this retailer in Alachua County accepting toys in boxes, Chrisp said, but Bass Pro Shops is providing the Toys For Tots volunteers with warehouse space to prepare for the distribution.
     Another significant contributor to the campaign in the Tri-County Area this year, Chrisp said, is North Florida Regional Medical Center.
     This hospital based in Gainesville donated 12 boxes full of toys from its pond-lighting event on Dec. 1 alone, he added. NFRMC is giving more boxes beyond that.
     As of Saturday, Chrisp said he is sure the certain will bring joy to many children in the Tri-County Area again this year.

 

Santa Accepts Letters

Every child who lives in the 32626 or 32644 Zip Code area and wants to send Santa Claus a letter, and potentially have him write back, is asked to send him a letter in care of the Chiefland Post Office, 222 W. Park Ave., Chiefland, FL 32626. Another method to get the letter to Santa is to put it in the mailbox that is located in the lobby of the Chiefland Post Office. No postage is required on these letters if they are sent from a mailbox that serves a Chiefland address. A helper of Santa Claus said that the jolly old elf knows every language, but for the letters coming to the Chiefland Post Office, he requests that they be limited to either English or Spanish. Here is how the letter should be addressed:
Santa Claus
in care of Chiefland Post Office
222. W. Park Ave.
Chiefland, FL 32626


Santa Claus stressed that he sincerely wants to reply to children as best as he can. And while Santa knows everyone's address and whether they are on one of the lists he keeps, he requires a RETURN ADDRESS so that he may respond to the young letter writers. Please remember, Santa Claus is accepting letters from children with Chiefland postal addresses via the mail, and no postage stamp is required on that letter; however any child can deliver a letter to Santa Claus by going into the lobby of the Chiefland Post Office and placing the letter in the mailbox that is in the lobby.
Also Santa Claus can read letters written in Spanish! And he will write back in Spanish too.
(¡También Santa Claus puede leer cartas escritas en Español! Y también va a escribir en Español.)
All Letters MUST BE SUBMITTED BY DEC. 19 For Santa Claus To See Them.

Photos by Jeff M. Hardison © Nov. 28, 2017 at 9:37 p.m.

 




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96th Jingle Performer


Houston Keen sings the HardisonInk.com jingle on his birthday (Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017) at Cash Money Pawn in Chiefland. Keen is alternative country music artist from North Florida. His hometown is Chiefland. Each performer or set of performers brings his or her, or their (when it is two or more performers) own special something to the jingle. If you see Jeff Hardison and you want to sing the jingle, just let him know or send an email to hardisonink@gmail.com. He asks people to sing it, too, and some of them agree to sing it. More than 100 different people have sang the jingle so far. (Thanks people!)
Published Nov 1, 2017 at 11:07 p.m.
© Video by Jeff M. Hardison, All Rights Reserved

Your weather just got better.
 

--UPDATED--
THURSDAY   Dec. 14   7:47 a.m.
Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties




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