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Three to take office in Cedar Key in May
Candidates face zero opposition
after qualifying for election
By Jeff M. Hardison © March 2, 2024 at 8 a.m.
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CEDAR KEY – The residents and visitors of Cedar Key will soon be served by a full City Council, again, according to records.
The Cedar Key City Council meets the third Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the new City Hall, which used to be the Community Cener.
Right now, the Cedar Key City Council is comprised thusly:
● Seat 1 City Commissioner – VACANT
● Seat 2 Vice Mayor Nancy Sera
● Seat 3 City Commissioner Jim Wortham
● Seat 4 City Commissioner VACANT
● Seat 5 Mayor Sue Colson
Seats 1, 2 and 4 were up for election in April. Three people qualified for the three seats, and they all faced no opposition. The two vacant seats happened when two former members of that elected municipal body of leaders quit their positions because they did not want to fill out a form that shows more information about their assets and liabilities.
Even in Cedar Key, though, there are enough qualified candidates for it to continue to have an elected set of municipal leaders. Currently, in the more populated Levy County city of Williston, there were not enough people who wanted to run for office on that City Council by the time to meet the qualifying deadline for the April election.
Hence, that city currently has one appointed City Council member, and there may be more appointed rather than elected to lead that city government in budgetary and legislative matters in the coming months.
Therefore, starting in May, Cedar Key has an entirely elected set of leaders and Williston, not so much. There are eight municipalities in Levy County. This story shows a tale of two of those cities and the registered voters in them.
The following will be the composition of the Cedar Key City Council after the May administration of the oath of office for the three people in seats where those positions were up for election – chosen by the voters of Cedar Key.
● Seat 1 City Commissioner Jolie J. Davis
● Seat 2 Vice Mayor Nancy Sera
● Seat 3 City Commissioner Jim Wortham
● Seat 4 City Commissioner - Jeffrey G. Webb
● Seat 5 Mayor Sue Colson
Jennifer Sylvester is the interim city clerk of Cedar Key. As city clerk, she is the municipal supervisor of elections, and she quickly provided information about the need for no election in April, as well as the names of the three people who qualified for election and were chosen with no opposition.
House panel wants disclosure bill revision
Senate version lacks proposed change
By John Koch, Independent News Services
Published Feb. 26, 2026 at 7 a.m.
TALLAHASSEE -- After several elected municipal leaders resigned before the terms of their elected offices ended, and lawsuits were filed in courts, a Florida House of Representatives panel last week supported revision of the law and giving some reprieves from a 2023 law requiring local elected officials to disclose slightly more detailed financial information than before.
A requirement to complete what is known as “Form 6,” which county elected officials have completed for years, replaced the simpler requirement of financial disclosure known as “Form 1,” caused some municipal elected representatives to quit their city and town councils and commissions.
The Florida House of Representatives’ State Affairs Committee approved revamping a bill to push back the effective date of the requirements to 2025 and to exempt mayors and members of local governing boards in communities with 500 people or fewer.
The current law took effect this year, prompting some local officials to resign rather than meet the minimum mandatory disclosure requirements.
While the law applied to people in office as of Jan. 1, 2024, they now have until July 1, 2024, to file the forms.
With little discussion, the State Affairs Committee approved making the change in a bill (HB 735), sponsored by Rep. Alex Andrade (R-Pensacola, Dist. 2), that includes issues such as requiring people to register as lobbyists if they lobby counties, municipalities, or special districts.
The “Form 6” financial disclosure, as noted, has long been submitted by officials such as the governor, state Cabinet members and County Commission members. The forms require information detailing officials’ net worth, annual incomes and assets.
Municipal officials in the past were required to file less-detailed forms, known as a “Form 1.” Under the change proposed on Wednesday (Feb. 21), the “Form 6” requirement would apply to municipal officials as of Jan. 1, 2025. Also, part of the change would apply the requirement only to mayors and local governing board members in municipalities with populations “of more than 500 persons.”
A Florida Senate version of the bill (SB 734) does not include the change. Supporters of the disclosure requirements in Form 6 note that the information can help show officials’ potential conflicts of interest while conducting government business.
Friends of Cornelius Williams
accept mayoral certificate of appreciation
Mayor Charles Goodman presents a framed certificate of appreciation to Friends of Cornelius Williams Community Park Co-Chair Jaqueline ‘Jackie’ Appling as other members of the friends’ group, including Co-Chair Vonda Williams, the daughter of Cornelius Williams, look on.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 21, 2024 at 3:30 p.m.
WILLISTON – Williston Mayor Charles Goodman on Tuesday night paid homage to Cornelius Williams, who was 83 years old when he passed away on Dec. 31, 2007.
Williams was a retired educator, with the Levy County Public School System. Born in Williston, he was a lifelong resident of Williston.
Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in education, and he earned a Master’s guidance counseling, Mayor Goodman said.
He was a member and a deacon at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, in Williston, for many years.
He engaged with activities as part of many community organizations, Mayor Goodman said as he spoke about the man for whom a park was named.
Williams was courageous, Goodman said, and he was the man who received a permit for a parade to honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a parade, and then a scholarship gala in Williston, the mayor said, and that tradition continues annually today.
He was married to Juanita Williams, and they had a daughter Vonda Williams of Williston, who is the co-chair of the Friends of Cornelius Williams Community Park.
Jacqueline “Jackie” Appling is the other co-chair of the Friends of Cornelius Williams Community Park.
Friends of Cornelius Williams Community Park Co-Chair Jaqueline ‘Jackie’ Appling holds the framed certificate high on Tuesday night.
These photos show some of the banners proclaiming the park being named in memory of Cornelius Williams (Feb. 5, 1923-Dec. 31, 2007), and various programs the Friends of Cornelius Williams Community Park have conducted over the years as they bring the community together to enjoy the park. This group has many members and is associated with several people who are community leaders. There is another movie night planned, although the Friends of Cornelius Williams Community Park are not adept at sending email to place events on the Community Calendar.
The City of Williston named Cornelius Williams Community Park in his honor. The park was primarily funded by a Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP) Grant.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) notes that FRDAP is a competitive program to provide grants for acquisition or development of land for public outdoor recreation use or to construct or renovate recreational trails.
The DEP administers the program according to Florida Statute and Administrative Code. Municipal and county governments or other legally constituted entities with the legal responsibility to provide public outdoor recreation may apply for these grants.
The Cornelius Williams Community Park is about 20 acres in size and is located to the east of Williston on U.S. Alt. 27. It includes a basketball court, sports fields, playgrounds, picnic tables, bathrooms and a large area for walking.
The mayor presented a certificate of appreciation to the Friends of Cornelius Williams Park.
Appling spoke about the many programs and events the Friends hosted over the years, and she and others who were present mentioned the names of several people who have been involved with the group.
American flag presentation
takes center stage in Dixie County
Heavy flag is 12th in a series
Denny George unveils an America flag he crafted by using old fire hoses.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 16, 2024 at 12 p.m.
Updated Feb. 23, 2024 at 8 a.m.
All Rights Reserved
CROSS CITY – Denny George presented a heavy American flag to the Dixie County Board of County Commissioners near the start of the meeting Thursday night (Feb. 15).
The flag is constructed with used fire hoses and this flag is the 12th that he has made. So far, the flags have generated $20,000 which has gone to various charities.
George, who is the Central Florida Electric Cooperative general manager as well as the Chief Executive Officer of Fiber By Central Florida, builds these flags on his own time as a craftsman.
He said he doesn’t know how long it takes him to create one, because he goes to his shop at home and puts in 15 minutes here and an hour there.
Both his and his wife’s oldest and youngest children are firefighting professionals.
The American flag is seen on its floor stand in front of the dais for the Dixie County Board of County Commissioners on Thursday night (Feb. 15).
Denny George tells about how the flags are made.
Denny George mentions progress by Fiber By Central Florida in Dixie County as this part of rural Florida sees people enjoying the opportunity to have affordable high speed Internet service. People in Dixie County, Gilchrist County and Levy County are all enjoying the service, which is continuing to expand across the whole Tri-County Area.
When their youngest son was at Gilchrist County Fire Rescue, George got some old fire hose that was no longer fit for service. His son had found an idea for making an American flag from old fire hose, George said.
His son had made one for his house, and George asked him for hose to make one for his and his wife’s house, because they were renovating it at the time.
The next flag was one George made for a local charity as a fundraiser. That flag and another one he constructed for a charitable fundraiser, each sold at auction for $2,500, he said.
Gilchrist Fire Rescue is among the recipients of the labors of love by George.
When his youngest son joined Gainesville Fire Rescue (GFR), George obtained more hose.
George made several other flags for charities, including Haven Hospice. Another flag was used as a fundraiser to help foster parents and single mothers in the area.
He made one for U.S. Rep. Kathryn “Kat” Christine Cammack (R-FL 3rd District). That flag was used as a fundraiser for a charitable cause as well.
Chiefland and Bronson have received flags, too. George is working on the 13th flag, which will be going to the Levy County Fire Rescue.
As for the flag donated to Dixie County on Feb. 15. It seems destined to be put in a new area of the Dixie County Emergency Operations Center that is being built to expand that facility. These flags are heavy. They can be hung with special brackets, or they can be displayed on the floor with the floor stands that come with them.
The flags cost George about $200 each for him to make. They are made by him only for firehouses or charitable fundraising causes, not for sale to consumers.
“On behalf of my family, who love the Tri-County Area, and for all of those (first responders) who when everybody else is running away from something (like a fire or other disaster),” George said, “this is a gift for those who are running into something.
“Thanks for what you all do every day,” he continued, “for enduring the things you have to see on a routine basis; and for serving us.”
After the presentation, there were photo opportunities.
Standing for photo opportunities with the flag are (from left) Dixie County Emergency Services (DCES) Division Chief of Emergency Management Scott Garner, DCES Division Chief of Emergency Medical Services Matt Ferguson, County Commissioner Mark Hatch, DCES Chief Darian Brown, County Commissioner David Osteen, Denny George, Commission Chairman Jamie Storey, County Commissioner Daniel Wood III and DCES Division Chief of Fire Service Operations Roy Bass. Commission Vice Chairman Jody Stephenson was in the hospital and not attending the Feb. 15 meeting.
Fowlers Bluff Community
meets for discussion
Information and Photos
Provided By Robert Belair
Published Feb. 11, 2024 at 8:15 a.m.
FOWLERS BLUFF -- More than 25 residents of the Fowlers Bluff community joined together on Feb. 3 to enjoy a potluck luncheon and discuss future community events and projects.
The luncheon was co-sponsored by the Fowlers Bluff Fire Board, the Concerned Citizens Committee of Fowlers Bluff and the Treasure Camp Restaurant, which is located in Fowlers Bluff.
Levy County Firefighter Miranda Kilsby, a resident of Fowlers Bluff also spoke to the group about emergency response procedures.
The get-together was in the Levy County Fire Rescue (aka Levy County Department of Public Safety) station in Fowlers Bluff on Levy County Road 347.
Members of the Fowlers Bluff Fire Board are Chair Jay Bushnell, Robert Belair, Ted Palfy and Paige Brookins.
The Concerned Citizens Committee of Fowlers Bluff members are Chair Donna Bushnell, Betty Belair and Sandy Palfy.
Fowlers Bluff is an unincorporated community in Levy County. It is a small community next to the Suwannee River. The nearest municipality is Chiefland, approximately 20 miles to the northeast.
Levy County continues
searching for a veterinarian
Town leaders complain about new PIO
Members of the Levy County Board of County Commissioners are seen at the outset of the Feb. 6 meeting. This meeting had a recess and was reconvened at 5 p.m. for deliberation on a special exception sought to create a sand mine. Seen here (from left) are County Commission Matt Brooks, County Commission Tim Hodge, Commission Chari Desiree Mills, Commission Vice Chair John Meeks and Commissioner Rock Meeks.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 7, 2024 at 11:15 a.m.
BRONSON – The Levy County Board of County Commissioners Tuesday morning (Feb. 6) revised the job requirements and increased the potential salary in its effort to hire a full-time county veterinarian.
Since former Levy County Veterinarian Dee Essler resigned effective July 21, 2023, Levy County Coordinator Wilbur Dean intimated on Tuesday that he has paid a veterinarian for part-time services.
Diane Marchand, a Levy County resident who expressed her concern during a three-minute “public comments” allowance for the meeting, said the still vacant position was posted as being available to be filled on July 28, 2023.
After one applicant indicated his or her intent to accept the position, the job opening was removed on Oct. 25, 2023, she noted.
Marchand asked the County Commission why the job posting was removed with only one applicant found. She asked, “Why not keep the position open in case this one applicant didn’t work out?”
There was no answer from the County Commission to her question at the meeting. Often during this part of the meeting, the County Commission listens and does not respond.
Marchand indicated that it is her opinion that the county’s inability to find a new veterinarian is unacceptable to the people of the county.
As for what the County Commission members did to move forward in the search for another veterinarian, here is what shook loose during the morning part of the twice-monthly regular meeting, beyond the few minutes of public input.
Commission Chair Desiree Mills put the issue on the Feb. 6 agenda for discussion and possible action.
Mills opened the discussion by saying she felt more needs to be done to hire a veterinarian. By removing the requirement of “two years prior experience in veterinary medicine,” Mills said she feels this will attract more applicants.
This could entice a recent veterinary college graduate to apply, she said.
Commissioner Matt Brooks asked Levy County Human Resources Director Jacqueline Martin if there had been any recent graduates applying. Martin said there had been none yet, however the requirement may have preempted some recent vet school graduate from seeking this position.
Further discussion with input from Vice Chair John Meeks and commissioners Tim Hodge and Rock Meeks led to a change in the advertised annual starting salary to be in the range of $80,000 to $95,000.
County Coordinator Wilbur Dean mentioned that while some veterinarians may make $100,000 a year in their own practice, this vet would enjoy all of the benefits from not having to pay a mortgage or rent on an office, pay for support staff, supplies, insurance, etc. Also, there are county employee benefits including health insurance and participation in the Florida Retirement System.
There was some brief discussion about the future vet potentially needing to work on livestock, which led to mention of the Levy County Sheriff’s Office lacking a deputy designated for agricultural functions specifically.
In a telephone interview with Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum on Wednesday morning, the sheriff said all calls are being answered.
The need for road deputies to respond to emergencies is priority one. A set of deputies or one deputy for agricultural responses alone is not in the budget now. Finding people to serve as qualified law enforcement officers is a challenge throughout the nation.
The sheriff explained that his first priority is to best use the resources for the protection of life and property of all the residents and visitors in Levy County. In performing that duty, there is not a specific agricultural deputy in this county now, although there has been in the past.
When specific training opportunities become available for learning more about dealing with livestock and other ag matters, the sheriff sends a deputy or deputies to take that training. All calls for service are answered, he said, with the proper responses of available personnel.
As for Levy County finding a full-time veterinarian, the revisions to the job qualifications and starting pay range may attract more candidates to the post.
Town leaders complain about new PIO
Bronson Vice Mayor Virginia Phillips is seen as she decries the county hiring the woman who the town leaders thought would be the next fire chief. Bronson Town Councilman Tyler Vorhees also complained to the County Commission about this.
During the “Public Comments” part of the agenda at the beginning and at end of the morning part of the two-part Levy County Commission meeting on Feb. 6, Bronson Vice Mayor Virginia Phillips and Bronson Town Councilman Tyler Vorhees complained to the County Commission that the county had hired a woman to be the public information officer for the Commission, even though that woman had been chosen by the municipal leaders to be the town’s next fire chief.
Phillips and Vorhees seemed to believe Mary-Ellen Lescoe Harper could serve in the full-time county job as well as be the town’s fire chief. Phillips said if Harper was a man, then the county would have allowed this double duty.
County Commission Chair Desiree Mills responded after Vorhees’ made the same contention in his speech.
Mills said she was speaking as a woman. She said the thought that there was any gender-oriented impact in the county requiring this newly created position to work singularly for the county is an absolutely incorrect presumption.
This new position, Mills said, requires a person who can be called to duty at any time 24-hours-a-day. It is a fulltime job that is more demanding than for a firefighter or other county employee who has a set work schedule.
Mills said in no uncertain terms that the County Commission set the policy for this position to be only for a person completely dedicated to working for Levy County, and not for any other private or government interests. After she made her statement, the potential for Harper to be the town’s fire chief as well as the public information officer for the county was made clear – it is not happening.
County lets city use building for meetings
New road equipment bought
Extension building progressing
Gilchrist County Clerk Todd Newton (left) and Deputy Clerk and Secretary to the County Commission Kieran Bryan are seen just before the start of the meeting. Clerk Newton told the County Commission about a number of financially oriented matters, including providing a budget summary and update.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 6, 2024 at 3:30 p.m.
GILCHRIST COUNTY – The Gilchrist County Commissioners on Monday evening (Feb. 5) agreed to let the City Council of Trenton use the County Commission meeting room.
Gilchrist County Administrator Bobby Crosby recommended approval of the request from the city, which has its council meetings on the second and fourth Mondays, whereas the County Commission meets the first and third Mondays.
Gilchrist County Attorney David Miller “Duke” Lang Jr. serves as the attorney for the City Council as well as the County Commission.
The motion to approve the request was made by County Commissioner Kenrick Thomas and it was seconded by Commission Vice Chairman Darrell Smith, with Chairman Bill Martin, and commissioners Sharon Langford and Tommy Langford voting to approve it.
Gilchrist County Administrator Bobby Crosby and Gilchrist County Attorney David Miller ‘Duke’ Lang Jr. are seen Feb. 5 during the regular first Monday evening meeting of the County Commission.
It was mentioned that there will be times when budget workshops for both the city and the county may conflict, and the county always will have priority for use of the John Franklin Beach Sr. Building, where the County Commission, and now the Trenton City Council meet.
The Asphalt Zipper machine is seen on the screen during a presentation about the equipment on Tuesday. The County Commission chose to buy the machine.
There was a very lengthy discussion about a machine that can be used to improve asphalt of lime rock roads by grinding the existing road surface with a six-foot wide swath as deep as 12 inches, adding water or other liquids and then having the road packed down again by a steamroller or some other equipment.
This potential purchase of more county-owned road equipment appears to have sprung from the Spring Ridge Subdivision road project, which is being funded by property owners adjoining the roads that were improved.
Those property owners are paying a special assessment over a 20-year period to pay for the roads, some of whom that feel parts of those roads are failing to maintain integrity, already.
As for the Asphalt Zipper 720XI machine, with the 6'Cufting Width Reclaimer/Stabilizer and Utility Trencher, the County Commission voted to buy it for $331,810.
A $15,000 piece of equipment that is the tank to hold water or other liquids is included in the price – for free. This machine has a two-year warranty.
County Administrator Crosby said Suwannee County has an older model that is 20 years old, and it is still being used.
Even with maintenance and cost of replacement teeth, the machine costs $6,269 per mile, Crosby said, and this compares with $52,000 per mile for prepping the base of a road, which this machine will do.
He said math shows the machine will pay for itself after it works on eight miles.
The machine can cover one mile of a lime rock road with three passes within eight hours, Crosby said. This is in contrast with other methods that can take four to eight days.
The Gilchrist County Road Department, currently under Director Rodney Thomas, is seen as having regained morale that had been lost before his start as the department director. While the department is not completely staffed, the workers are said to be happy.
Chairman Martin said he is receiving calls from people who are glad to tell him the Road Department is doing its job well.
Director Thomas said these compliments are not from him, but from the work of the great bunch of men and women who work in the Road Department.
UF/IFAS Gilchrist Extension Director Jessica Altum Cooper speaks about the current and future programs benefiting from the future improvements of facilities in Gilchrist County.
This artist’s rendition of what the front of the future UF/IFAS Gilchrist Extension Office will look like was shared at the Feb. 5 meeting.
On a happier note than the Spring Hill road fiasco, the $1 million future UF/IFAS Gilchrist Extension Office was discussed.
Extension Director Jessica Altum Cooper spoke about the construction of Phase One of the building. Optimists hope to start construction relatively soon – with ground being broken as soon as August.
Phase Two of that building construction is projected to cost $1.5 million, if the Florida Legislature approves that request from Gilchrist County during this legislative session.
And speaking of the elected state leaders in Tallahassee, a contingent of 4-H members from Gilchrist County went there today (Feb. 6), as did Commissioner Smith and Extension Director Cooper, for 4H Legislative Day.
Elder Options seeks new board members
By Kathy Dorminey
Published Jan. 30, 2024 at 4:30 p.m.
GAINESVILLE -- Elder Options is seeking mission-aligned individuals with a strong commitment to voluntarism, advocacy for seniors throughout the 16-county region, and expertise in one
or more of the following areas:
• Marketing and Branding
• Hispanic aging populations in North Central Florida
• Asian aging populations in North Central Florida
Elder Options’ mission is to ensure that communities have a trusted and unbiased place to turn for information, resources, and assistance.
We advocate for and cooperatively work with communities to strengthen support systems and create new and innovative service options that focus on personal choice and independence.
Elder Options works to identify the needs of older adults, adults with disabilities, and their caregivers, as well as develop plans to meet the growing needs of our community.
We do this by providing some direct services, but we also contract with local agencies to deliver services. The services we contract out to local agencies are monitored regularly, ensuring good administration of funds.
Board of Directors
The Board of Directors provides governance, guidance, and strategy to lead Elder Options in serving seniors, caregivers and persons living with disabilities. One of our goals includes increasing community partnerships so we may serve more seniors, informal caregivers, and adults with disabilities.
The Board meets quarterly at Elder Options headquarters in Gainesville, and online via Zoom.
To ask questions or learn to more about Elder Options, please contact Kathy Dorminey by sending an email to email@example.com.
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