MONDAY JUNE 21 9:11 p.m. Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties
Dixie County celebrates Juneteenth
Larry Walker opens his barbecue smoker as he prepares to tend to some ribs on the grill.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © June 20, 2021 at 5:11 p.m.
All Copyrights Reserved
CROSS CITY – People all over America found Saturday (June 19) to be an even more special Juneteenth this year because the elected leaders in the federal government created it as the newest national holiday and President Joe Biden signed it into law two days earlier.
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Larry Walker prepares ribs that taste excellent, according to many people, including a journalist who took some home from the event and ate them there.
Vivian Nelson mans a table where people could buy the fixings to create Walkin’ Tacos. That dish is created by putting the ingredients for a taco into a bag with crunched up Doritos. Bingo – a walkin’ taco.
Kiyonnet Teague stands near a pot of cooking corn on the cob. Her cousin Jesse Rollins is standing behind her and her niece Nova Murrell is to the left in this picture. The Juneteenth Celebration in Dixie County was very family-oriented with games like sack racing, and card games and a bounce house available. (There was also a cake auction as part of the fundraising aspect of the event for Cross City On The Move.)
People came from near and far, including Ashly Curry from Tallahassee, seen here cooking some of the ingredients that go into a seafood dish that includes crab, shrimp, corn potatoes and eggs. Seated nearby is Dessarai Griffin, another participant in the Juneteenth celebration in Dixie County. Not picture here but present at the event were sweet treats from Perry (Taylor County), and sno-cones, popcorn and cotton candy from an Orlando attorney who helps Cross City On The Move. Also available were also free watermelon slices, and all sorts of soft drinks, fruit drinks and bottled water.
Some of the people involved with the Cross City On The Move (Making Things Happen) organization are seen here. They are (from left) Treasurer-Secretary Elsie Carter, Historian Florence Carter and Vice President Angela Carter. (Cross City On The Move President Caroline Walker is out of this picture because she was busy helping other people at the event during the moment of this photo opportunity.)
Lemonade and pink lemonade are in the foreground here at the area where Ivey Baxter was selling those drinks, as well as boiled peanuts.
Pastor P.J. Hope shares The Gospel with people before providing the opening prayer.
Angela Carter welcomes everyone to the event.
Therefore, Juneteenth 2021 was the first time when the day was celebrated as a federal holiday.
The Cross City On The Move (Making Things Happen) organization welcomed everyone to be the guests at its Juneteenth event at the Cross City Trail Riders Saddle Club (on the corner of Northeast 241st Street just outside the southwest fence of Cross City Airport).
There was food, live entertainment, items for sale, games galore and best of all, from some individuals’ perspectives, a spirit of Christian love pervaded the area. For the people who are food-oriented, the wonderful aroma of fresh smoked barbecue ribs on the grill wafted across the grounds.
Larry Walker brought his customized portable smoker. It has two sides for grilling, and a propane-powered flame is sent by a small fan the blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica) wood that he uses to make the ribs amazingly delicious. That grill has thermometers and more to make it the ultimate barbecue machine.
Pastor P.J. Hope of the Royal Temple Church of God in Christ opened the program with prayer. Even before that he remined people of about being united through the love of Jesus, rather than to be divided by other forces that may be tempting.
Where there is unity, there is strength, was among the many bits of sage advice shared from the stage on that Saturday in the park.
Among the many musical and other performers were soloist singer Terri Nelson and a different soloist -- Jerome Teague, who performed a liturgical dance.
Jerome Teague performs a liturgical dance.
Sharonda Burnett provides a photo opportunity after reading her poem.
Sharonda Burnett read her poem Change.
In order to see change I have to be changed,
but change starts with the person in the mirror.
Because change can only come when I see myself more clearly.
Not what my natural eyes can see.
But change is something that happens on the inside of me.
Change does not mean that I try to be someone that I am not,
but change to me is shedding things that don’t line up with God.
We cannot make people change to our own liking,
but when we examine ourselves then change will come without even fighting.
So, when I think about my friends my family my community and my nation that I think should be rearranged.
I definitely have to start with myself by saying that I am the one who needs start with change.
Vivian Nelson speaks about Juneteeth.
Vivian Nelson shared with listeners the history of Juneteenth.
Juneteenth commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States of America. Nelson said this celebration has been part of the traditions of the African-American people since the late 19th Century.
Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) heralds the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed, as noted on The History Channel.
The troops went to Galveston two and one-half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday. On June 17, 2021, it officially became a federal holiday.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse two months earlier in Virginia, but slavery had remained relatively unaffected in Texas—until U.S. General Gordon Granger stood on Texas soil and read General Orders No. 3: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”
“Today, we celebrate strength, bravery, confidence, perseverance, resilience, courage, humility and most of all – the love,” Nelson said.
She paraphrased a statement from the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when she said “Let freedom ring from the streets and the community of Dixie County. Let freedom ring all over the country and let us continue to speak truth to power until we experience total and equal justice under the law.”
Nelson asked everyone within the sound of her voice, as they celebrate the lives of their ancestors, to “Love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Let freedom ring! Hallelujah!”
Desireé Williams, owner of Desired Esscentials is in the area where she her fiancé Jerome Johnson are selling her own brand. Desired Esscentials was founded in 2021 as a home decor brand of candles and wax melts. These candles and wax melts are hand-poured in small batches with a soy blend wax. Other vendors at the event were selling artworks, purses, jewelry and more.
Wysteria Wilbert stands next to one of her favorite indoor planters that she created. This is a Gator-themed indoor planter. The base material for this work, she mentioned, is a woman's lace shirt.
Another part of the multifaceted event included leaders in the Cross City On The Move organization speaking about that non-profit group.
Cross City On The Move, President Caroline Walker said, is to be a blessing to the community – one small gesture at a time.
President Walker said she is thankful for all the work by volunteers who give of their time and other resources to help the community. She reminded everyone that it takes everyone to have success in its mission.
Cross City On The Move intends to have more community-oriented events, President Walker said. Saturday’s event is to celebrate Juneteenth, she said, but this event and all of the Cross City On The Move are for every person.
Every individual is connected to every other person, she said. Things that people do to help one another affect the whole of humanity.
Walker reminded listeners that no matter the color of a person’s skin or where they were born, God is not going to separate people based on those distinctions.
She said she personally strives to treat every person with love.
Walker thanked God for allowing her to be part of Cross City On The Move – Making Things Happen.
At least two other celebrations of Juneteenth happened in the Tri-County Area.
A very last-minute program in Chiefland was held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Buie Park.
A better organized and more announced event than the one in Chiefland, happened in Williston. It was from 3 to 6 p.m. Members of the Friends of Cornelius Williams Community Park Committee held a combination “Juneteenth and Pre-Father’s Day Celebration” at the Cornelius Williams Community Park. Horseshoe games, kickball games and other activities were in the park then – and everyone was welcome.
Another Inglis Town Commission
By Jeff M. Hardison © June 18, 2021 at 10:11 a.m.
INGLIS – Inglis Town Commissioner Thomas Brennan has resigned from the Inglis Town Commission, effective June 14, according to Town Clerk Darlene Slattery when she was asked for information on June 18.
Brennan’s resignation creates another vacancy on the Inglis Town Commission, with the vacant seat from Ann Morin’s resignation recently being filled by the remaining Town Commission members when they appointed William “Bill” Monteverde to that seat.
Steven Schwing, Joyce Schwing, and Scott Levesque join Monteverde as the remaining members of that Town Commission. Inglis Mayor Michael Andrew “Drew” White leads the meetings of that group of elected individuals.
Not only does Inglis have a vacancy on its Town Commission, but there are two jobs open now for employees. The town is seeking a land use/code enforcement official, and a maintenance worker, according to records.
$5,000 to Gilchrist League
Rotary President Lowell Chesborough, and Rotarians Holly Creel, Darrell Smith, John Rutledge, Rick Washington, Charlie Smith, Matthew Vuncannon, Damon Leggett, Eddy Scott, Jo Buckles and Todd Gray hold the graphic representation of the check presented to the Gilchrist League Youth Sports.
Story and Photo
By Holly Creel, Rotarian
Published June 15, 2021 at 9:11 a.m.
TRENTON -- On Monday, June 14th the Rotary Club of Gilchrist County met at the Woman's Club in Trenton and presented a $5,000 check to the Gilchrist League to help support youth sports.
Rotarian Matthew Vuncannon accepted the check in behalf of the Gilchrist League. These funds were raised primarily from the club’s annual fresh and saltwater inshore fishing tournament that hosted in the Town of Suwannee in Dixie County each May.
Matthew updated the Club on the past year's initiatives of the Gilchrist League. Approximately 300 young athletes have been served by the League. Many children participate in more than one sport; so, the total registrations numbered almost 730.
Matthew explained that the Gilchrist League is an organization that is supported 100 percent by volunteers. The two major funding sources are the Gilchrist County Commission on behalf of the county’s taxpayers and the Gilchrist County Rotary Club.
The League is mindful of keeping expenses to a minimum. The goal always is to strive for frugal operations and mindful spending, he said. Registration fees are the lowest in the area; funding is supplemented through sponsorships and concession sales as well as the revenue provided by the county government and Rotarians.
Sports offered to the youth by the League in Gilchrist County are football, baseball, softball, tee-ball, cheerleading, coed soccer and boys and girls basketball.
Several Rotarians pointed out how important the Gilchrist League is to the community as it provides a venue for children to compete in sports in addition to learning leadership and teambuilding skills. And the kids have a good time and work off some steam! Gilchrist Rotarians have historically believed that investing in the Gilchrist League is an investment in Gilchrist County!
President Lowell Chesborough presented Matthew Vuncannon with a Paul Harris Plus One Pin. This means that Matthew has been a Paul Harris Fellow twice! Matthew was the club’s president several years ago, He is a loyal Rotarian.
Chef Jason served a delicious meal of steak quesadillas, rice and beans, salad, dessert and sweet and unsweet tea.
Federal case moves forward
against Dixie County attorney
By Jeff M. Hardison © June 11, 2021 at 1:11 p.m.
JACKSONVILLE – While the wheels of the bus are alleged to “go round and round,” as cited in the lyrics of a song believed to have been written by Verna Hills of Boston, Massachusetts, the wheels of justice can be perceived as moving relatively slowly on occasion.
The song The Wheels of the Bus Go Round and Round first appeared in volume 25 of the magazine titled American Childhood (1939).
Discovery, suppression and dispositive motions for this case are due no later than June 28. Case set for August trial term.
As for the case of the United States versus attorney Marion Michael O’Steen of Old Town, according to public records, United States District Judge Marcia Morales Howard of the United States District Court, Middle District Of Florida (Jacksonville Division), granted O’Steen’s motion to continue the deadline, status conference and trial, which was filed on March 19.
In that motion, the defendant requested that the Court continue the motion’s deadline, status conference, and trial in this matter.
In support of the motion, defense counsel asserts additional time is needed to review the voluminous discovery.
The honorable United States District Court Judge Howard ordered that the defendant's Motion to Continue Motion Deadline, Status Conference and Trial is granted. The case is continued to the August 2021 trial term, commencing on Aug 2.
In granting the defendant’s request, the Court finds that “the ends of justice served by the granting of such continuance outweigh the best interests of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial.”
As a result, this case was stricken from the May 2021 trial calendar.
In regard to this case fitting on the docket for that court, another status conference is scheduled for July 19 at 3 p.m. before United States District Court Judge Howard in Courtroom 10-B, on the Tenth Floor of the United States Courthouse, at 300 N. Hogan St., in Jacksonville.
Discovery, suppression and dispositive motions for this case are due no later than June 28, according to records.
For people unfamiliar with why the federal government is prosecuting an attorney from Dixie County, a story published a few months ago in HardisonInk.com is published again below:
Former State Attorney Jeffrey Siegmeister
indicted for several federal crimes;
M. Michael O’Steen also indicted
Story Provided By The United States Department of Justice
United States Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida
Published March 15, 2021 at 11:11 a.m.
JACKSONVILLE – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announced on Feb. 26 the unsealing of an indictment charging Jeffrey Siegmeister, 52, of Live Oak and Marion Michael O’Steen, 41, of Old Town with conspiracy to use a facility of commerce for unlawful activity, conspiracy to commit extortion, and aiding and abetting extortion.
Siegmeister is a former state attorney for the Third Judicial Circuit of Florida.
O’Steen is not only a private attorney, but he is also the attorney for the Dixie County Board of County Commissioners as well as the Dixie County School Board.
In the 12-count indictment, Siegmeister is additionally charged with conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, federal program bribery, wire fraud and filing false tax returns.
O’Steen is additionally charged with failure to file a form in connection with the receipt of currency.
Siegmeister was arrested in Arizona on Feb. 26 and made his initial appearance in federal court (Flagstaff, Arizona) on Monday, March 1. O’Steen appeared in federal court (Jacksonville) on Feb. 26 and pleaded not guilty. He was released on a $100,000 bond.
According to the indictment, Siegmeister was the elected State Attorney for the Third Judicial Circuit of Florida from 2013 through 2019. O’Steen was a defense attorney who represented clients being prosecuted by Siegmeister’s office.
As part of the conspiracy to use a facility of commerce for unlawful activity, between approximately November 2017 and May 16, 2019, O’Steen requested official acts from Siegmeister --including the favorable disposition of charges filed against his clients, and the delay of official actions to enable O’Steen to obtain additional “fees” from at least one of his clients -- for which Siegmeister solicited bribes from O’Steen.
Regarding the extortion charges, O’Steen solicited Siegmeister to resolve a case against one of his clients through pre-trial intervention (“PTI”). O’Steen demanded $60,000 from that client to procure the PTI agreement from the Third Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office.
O’Steen and Siegmeister then coordinated to withhold the finalization of the PTI agreement until the client paid $60,000 in cash to O’Steen. In connection with this case, Siegmeister solicited O’Steen to purchase a bull from a herd of livestock he owned for $4,000, and to make a political contribution.
Additionally, O’Steen is charged with failing to file within 15 days the required Form 8300 with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to acknowledge his receipt of more than $10,000 in cash from the client.
Siegmeister is separately charged with conspiracy to commit federal program bribery and federal program bribery in connection with another prosecution by the State Attorney’s Office for the Third Judicial Circuit. According to the indictment, Ernest Maloney Page IV, was a defense attorney representing a client charged with two driving under the influence (“DUI”) offenses.
The Third Judicial Circuit includes Columbia, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee and Taylor counties. There are 20 judicial circuits in Florida.
Regarding Page’s client’s family, they owned a tractor dealership. In or around September of 2017, State Attorney Siegmeister informed attorney Page that he would favorably resolve one of the client’s DUI charges in exchange for a $10,000 discount on a tractor Siegmeister wanted to buy from the client’s dealership, and favorably resolve both DUI charges in exchange for a $20,000 discount.
Ultimately, Siegmeister and his wife purchased a tractor and accessories from the client’s dealership, the price of which Page’s client discounted by approximately $20,000. In exchange, Siegmeister dismissed the DUI charges and Page’s client pleaded guilty to charges of reckless driving with alcohol and refusal to submit to a blood alcohol test.
On Aug. 20, 2020, Page pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery for his role in facilitating this transaction.
Siegmeister also is charged with wire fraud in connection with his legal guardianship of an elderly individual who lived in Columbia County. According to the indictment, from approximately January 2010 through April 2016, Siegmeister engaged in a scheme to defraud his ward and his ward’s estate by, among other things, transferring the victim’s assets for his own benefit, filing materially false documents with the court to conceal those transfers, and by creating a last will and testament for the victim, which designated Siegmeister’s relative as the sole beneficiary of the victim’s estate.
Siegmeister is also charged with filing false tax returns for tax years 2015, 2016 and 2017.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. It is scheduled to be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kelly S. Karase and David B. Mesrobian.
Tiny community previews
this weekend in Williston
Matt Crandell stands with an artists’ rendering of what exists now for the open air market set for Saturday and Sunday in Williston.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © June 9, 2021 at 3:11 p.m.
WILLISTON – Matt Crandell, the key developer of what he intends to be an attraction to draw visitors to Williston, spoke for more than 30 minutes Tuesday night (June 9) about the future of the development with a tiny-multiuse theme.
Williston City Attorney Frederick L. Koberlein Jr. is seen at the dais behind two of the four artists’ renderings brought by developer Matt Crandell. Sixty days after May 11, Koberlein’s resignation takes effect. The Williston City Council is seeking a new attorney. Koberlein is letting the city go from his law firm’s client list to provide more time for his future bride and children, he said. The Norm D. Fugate Law Firm has shown an interest, according to information released at the meeting June 8.
This weekend, Saturday (June 12) from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday (June 13) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. everyone is welcome to see the sample preview of the open-air retail aspect of this venture at 1050 N.E. Sixth Blvd. (State Road 121) in Williston.
The Homestead Tiny House Resort is a bed and breakfast offering in Williston now, where guests stay in one of the tiny houses designed and built by Homestead Tiny House.
Crandell has purchased the former Winn-Dixie property at 1050 N.E. Sixth Blvd. (State Road 121) in Williston. He intends to keep the six buildings that exist now on the site, with refurbishing. The current name for the venture listed on artists’ renderings is Homestead Park.
This project, he said, started with a five-year plan for completion but he has narrowed that now to a four-year plan. As the property develops in phases, it will be serving the residents and visitors to Williston with something that is unique, welcoming and upscale.
The six buildings are part of the former shopping center where Winn-Dixie, Sunshine Drugs and other ventures existed long ago.
Crandell said his goal is “to make Williston a destination” for visitors from Alachua County, Marion County and from all over Florida, the United States and the world. This attraction that he is developing is based on a few things. It will include a tiny theme. It will be of a high quality and visitors will find ease of use in an open-air environment as they venture from retail, through eateries and enjoy concerts in a first class venue.
This weekend, Saturday (June 12) from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday (June 13) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. everyone is welcome to see the sample preview of the open-air retail aspect of this venture at 1050 N.E. Sixth Blvd. (State Road 121) in Williston.
“I wanted everybody to understand this is not a 7 a.m. to noon type of thing,” Crandell said. “This is to establish – really, honestly, we live here – the best time of day to be outside is like 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.”
Crandell wants people to understand this will become a place where they can shop, have supper and enjoy their visiting the area into the night.
Crandell has invited certain vendors to show visitors an initial sample of what the future of retail holds there. When other vendors visit this weekend, Crandell said, they will let him know they want to be part of it.
Vendors who sign up to participate will be vetted before they are allowed to participate, he intimated.
Each of the outdoor stalls at the site Saturday and Sunday will have “representative products” of what is intended for the future, he said. Locally harvested honeys, handmade candles, soaps, produce, woodworking, art and “a little bit of everything” are slated to be available for buyers this weekend at what will be the future home of this development.
This initial showing is 1,500 square feet, Crandell said. It will become a 9,000 square-feet area as those open air stalls expand to offer high quality merchandise.
In the next four years, a significant entertainment center and dining venues – including a very high-end steakhouse – are planned for this community with a tiny theme, he said. He sees a 9,000 square-foot concert hall coming to be in one of the current buildings on the site.
“When people talk about tiny house in the Southeast (United States), they talk about Williston,” Crandell said as he explained his vision for the future.
He wants people to say Williston is the city that includes a community of tiny houses as a bed and breakfast resort. As the development that exists continues to grow and come to fruition, it will be a multiuse venue, he added, with apartments, condominiums, retail outlets, high end dining and a significant entertainment facility, as well as the bed and breakfast, and coffee shop of today – Sad Donkey Coffee.
The Sad Donkey Coffee of the future, that will be part of this development on State Road 121 will include 2,200 square-feet with high speed Internet service, as well as the “fresh brew” of coffee for its customers, he said.
This will be a nice place for people to work, and for people to grab a sandwich at lunch as well, Crandell said.
His idea is to draw people to Williston.
Crandell said he comes from the Atlanta area, where there are communities like this. He has been living in Dunnellon while working on this project in Williston as he plans to “transition down here.”
As for the future after this weekend introduction and preview, Crandell said he will be deciding out the temporary offerings until the more significant permanent venues are established. The next event might be two weeks out after this one, maybe one week afterward – the story continues to unfold.
Bronson broached first
for changing election day
Vice mayor absent
due to motorcycle crash
Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones speaks from the podium in the Dogan S. Cobb Municipal Building on Monday night (June 7) as Bronson Town Councilman Robert Partin (left) and Town Attorney Steven Warm are among the listeners.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © June 8, 2021 at 10:11 a.m.
BRONSON – A call for the change of all eight Levy County municipalities’ elections started Monday night (June 7) with Bronson, as Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones made that request first to the four Bronson Town Council members present that night.
Town Manager Sue Beaudet and Town Councilman Tyler Vorhees listen to a person speaking during the meeting Monday night. The seat normally occupied by Bronson Vice Mayor Jason Hunt is empty as he recovers from serious injuries he suffered in a motorcycle crash on May 28.
Bronson Mayor Beatrice Roberts tells Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones that the next election after the 2021 election set for September will be in September of 2023, and that would be the soonest point where voters in Bronson could choose to change the town’s municipal election laws -- if that option was put on the ballot.
Town councilmen Aaron Edmondson and Robert Partin listen to Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones explain why having all municipal elections for the eight incorporated political subdivisions within the county would benefit the voters.
Levy County Supervisor of Elections Jones let the Bronson Town Council know this was the first municipality she has broached with her request to consider revising its municipal election dates.
Bronson Vice Mayor Jason Hunt was absent Monday night (June 7) due to him suffering serious injuries in a motorcycle crash two Friday nights earlier – on May 28.
The Bronson Town Council regularly meets twice a month. The next regular Town Council meeting is set for June 21, starting at 7 p.m. in the Dogan S. Cobb Municipal Building, 660 E. Hathaway Ave. (U.S. Alt. 27), Bronson.
Council members present for the regular twice-monthly meeting Monday night were Mayor Beatrice Roberts and councilmen Tyler Vorhees, Aaron Edmondson and Robert Partin.
As for Bronson changing its election date, that is in the Town Charter, which has long been known to need relatively strong revisions. For instance, as Town Attorney Steven Warm mentioned Monday night, the mayor of Bronson is the municipal judge. Also, although the charter addresses its police force – Bronson has no municipal law enforcement agency.
Regarding municipal judges in Florida, as noted on the website provided by the Florida Supreme Court, “The Circuit Courts – Overview - Until 1973, Florida had more different kinds of trial courts than any state except New York. A movement developed in the late 1960s to reform this confusing system. As a result, Florida now has a simple two-tiered trial court system.”
The Florida Supreme Court notes further that a temporary exception was the municipal court in Florida, which was not abolished until Jan. 1, 1977. Most of these courts in major population areas in Florida were abolished on Jan. 1, 1973.
An attempt to revise part of the Bronson Town Charter regarding elections has failed at least once already within the past decade when there was an attempt to include a provision for early voting in the town. The voters participating in that election voted against revising the Town Charter to provide that option.
Before the Bronson Town Charter can be revised, the revision must be created and then the qualified town voters must choose to adopt the amended charter. There appears to be no activity currently to revise the current outdated Town Charter.
The odds appear to be stacked against Bronson moving into the 21st Century with its cornerstone for local government, the Bronson Town Charter, being revised just to have changes for its elections.
As for an overhaul of the Bronson Town Charter, that is an even larger mission that appears to not exist yet.
Meanwhile, Levy County Supervisor of Elections Jones explained why she is seeking to have all eight municipalities in Levy County to conduct elections on the same date – which would be a date other than when county, state and federal elections are scheduled in November.
The eight towns and cities in Levy County -- Bronson, Cedar Key, Chiefland, Fanning Springs, Inglis, Otter Creek, Williston and Yankeetown – all have elections to choose their leaders.
Supervisor Jones suggested that Levy County’s municipalities move their elections to April.
Conducting elections sporadically throughout the year, Jones said, can be confusing for voters. Yankeetown’s election is in February. Williston’s and Inglis’ elections are in March. Cedar Key’s election is in May. Chiefland’s election is in August. Bronson’s election is in September. Fanning Springs has one in October and November, and Otter Creek’s is in December.
Jones said there may be an advantage for an election every month, but the biggest disadvantage she sees is voter confusion. There are counties in Florida, Jones said, that already have established municipal election day. Polk County has two different election days for its cities, she added.
Rather than put the municipal election day in November with the other elections for county, state and federal offices, Jones said, would be too hectic. Jones and her staff have already seen a 22-inch long ballot.
Creating eight separate forms of ballots, distributing them, collecting them and counting and sorting out the results would not be the best practice. Instead, Jones has formed a new municipal election calendar, where all the towns and cities in Levy County could conduct their elections. Besides, each town and city has its own municipal supervisor of elections for their own elections.
Her plan, too, helps the municipalities revise their outdated systems to provide for better qualifying times for candidates who want to run.
Jones said with this suggested revision to have all municipal elections on the same calendar schedule, it will let her assure that the Levy County Supervisor of Elections Office will be able to provide enough ballot machines when those elections occur.
Another benefit, as noted, is improving qualifying time.
For instance, the current qualifying time for candidates in the Bronson Town Council election shows voters who are in the military or who have other reasons to vote by mail cannot participate equally.
“Qualifying is too close to the election (in Bronson),” Jones said. “And we can’t get the ballots out 25 days before the election to our military people, or to other people, because the qualifying time doesn’t allow it.”
Jones said that Bronson and some other towns created charters so long ago that vote-by-mail may not have existed.
To help voters feel confidence in the counting of ballots, there is a need to have time to proofread the ballots, print the ballots, test the vote-counting equipment and prove it is accurate in its count.
Jones said in county elections, the qualifying provides enough time between the period when candidates are qualified to run and when the election is held. She said the time between qualifying and elections is about two months for county elections.
In her suggested timeline for city and town elections in Levy County, the example shows Jan. 24, 2022, would be when qualifying begins at noon, ending at noon on Jan. 28, 2022. In that scenario, the election would be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on April 5, 2022, in Bronson for seats 1, 3 and 5.
Jones even provided a detailed timeline for the vote-by-mail ballots. It shows the mailout for military and civilians who are outside of the United States of America – based on municipal elections held in Levy County on April 5, 2022, would be Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022. The seven-day window for domestic vote-by-mail ballots with that hypothetical April 5, 2022, municipal election day, would be from Feb. 14 through Feb. 21.
In this scenario, the last day to request a ballot to be mailed would be 10 days before the election – March 26, 2022. The start day for voter designee to pick up the ballot would be nine days before the election – Sunday, March 27, 2022. The last day to mail out the ballot would be eight days before the election – Monday, March 28, 2022.
Jones hopes that municipalities in Levy County that have outdated charters in regard to those elections, like Bronson, will review and update the charters to bring them into compliance with state elections laws.
Further discussion Monday night revealed Bronson did have a tie in a town election. Then the runoff had to happen within two weeks. Supervisor Jones said she said this was possible and it did happen, however she feels it is not the best method.
With today’s elections, she said, the time of a runoff election two weeks after the initial municipal election should become a thing of the past to decide a tie vote. A tie vote in Chiefland, as noted by its charter, was decided by the drawing of straws on that very election’s vote-counting night.
In other action at the meeting, by a 4-0 vote the Town Council approved its first reading of an ordinance to create a Code Enforcement Board.
Town leaders also discussed, very briefly, options for annexation. Town Attorney Warm suggested that Town Manager Bronson Town Manager Susan “Sue” Beaudet bring back suggestions to the Town Council at a later meeting for further consideration on this matter.
In other discussions, development of a retail outlet at what is currently a residential structure appears to be hamstrung by county zoning issues.
As for commercial development in Bronson, Mayor Roberts made her thoughts clear as she recited facts. Her comments came during the discussion about annexation.
Roberts said Bronson owes money for the development of sewer transmission lines that were built adjacent to Hathaway Avenue (U.S. Alt. 27). The United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development provided a grant-loan to the town for that construction.
The town leaders then thought it would help bring more commercial development to Bronson. Mayor Roberts said the municipality needs more commercial property to help with the tax burden that includes an annual payment of $75,000 to the USDA for its loan to build that infrastructure.
The mayor said the town leaders would prefer to offset that deficit with commercial property tax revenue rather than significant increases in water and sewer rates. The revenue currently from user fees for sewer service, Mayor Roberts said, “does not even put a dent” in the annual $75,000 USDA loan repayment bills.
The residents who have complained about the town leaders allowing Family Dollar to work toward building its store on what is currently the site for an old house, Roberts said, do not understand that the Town Council does not necessarily want Family Dollar there; however, the town leaders want business interests to come help carry the yoke of this annual loan repayment bill.
“We are not trying to antagonize the residents of the town,” Mayor Roberts said. “We are trying to make it easier for you, so that you don’t have to pay all these taxes (and higher user fees). That’s why we are so adamant about businesses coming here.”
Mayor Roberts said that perhaps this is not the best place for a Family Dollar store. Nonetheless, she added, if the town keeps turning away business interests, then other enterprisers will see the welcome mat as being absent.
FDOH revises COVID-19 testing schedule
AND lists vaccination days and times
By Jeff M. Hardison © June 3, 2021 at 9:11 a.m.
Updated June 18, 2021 at 6:11 a.m.
TRI-COUNTY AREA – The Florida Department of Health units in Dixie County, Levy County and Gilchrist County are continuing to offer free testing for COVID-19 and free vaccinations against COVID-19.
COVID-19 testing and vaccinations in the Tri-County area is available at the following Heath Department units, regardless of a person’s residential home address – Dixie County, FDOH in Cross City; Gilchrist County (Southside Park) in Trenton; Levy County, FDOH in Bronson.
The new schedule for COVID-19 drive-thru testing is: Dixie County – Wednesdays at 9 a.m.; Levy County – Thursdays at 9 a.m.; and Gilchrist County – Fridays at 9 a.m.
If you are interested in testing, please:
Bring your driver’s license or State ID. Do not eat or drink anything at least one hour prior to testing. Children under 18 years old must have a parent/guardian present to sign a consent form.
Please arrive at the testing site at 9 a.m. at the places and days noted above. Testing begins promptly. Anyone in line at that time will be tested, weather permitting.
Effective starting, Wednesday, June 16, the new schedule for COVID-19 drive-thru vaccinations BY APPOINTMENT is: Dixie County – Wednesdays from 10 to 11:30 a.m.; Levy County – Thursdays 10 to 11:30 a.m.; and Gilchrist County – Fridays from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Call the Health Department to schedule an appointment. Staff members at the Health Department are happy to help. Bring your ID and COVID-19 vaccine card if this is your second dose. If possible, complete a consent form prior to arriving to appointment. Consent forms can be printed by clicking HERE.
Please arrive at your scheduled time for vaccinations.
If there is an urgent need for testing or vaccination outside of these days/times, please call your health department and ask to speak to a COVID team member to assist you. These services are provided free of charge.
For more COVID-19 information from the Levy County unit, please visit http://levy.floridahealth.gov/ or call 352-486-5300.
For more COVID-19 information from the Gilchrist County unit, please visit http://gilchrist.floridahealth.gov/ or call 352-463-3120.
For more COVID-19 information from the Dixie County unit, please visit http://dixie.floridahealth.gov/ or call 352-498-1360.
While Florida is caring for many people through the FDOH services, there is a national public health agency for everyone in the United States of America.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the national public health agency of the United States.
The CDC notes on its website that “If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.
“Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance,” the current notation on the website shows.
People who have not been vaccinated yet, are urged to find a place to obtain the vaccine and to become vaccinated.
In addition to the FDOH services, people in the Tri-County Area can be vaccinated at pharmacies and through contacting their healthcare providers at facilities such as the Palms Medical Group.
The FDOH Mission: “To protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, and community efforts.”
The FDOH Vision: For Florida “To be the Healthiest State in the Nation.”
FDOH Values: (ICARE)
● Innovation: We search for creative solutions and manage resources wisely.
● Collaboration: We use teamwork to achieve common goals and solve problems.
● Accountability: We perform with integrity and respect.
● Responsiveness: We achieve our mission by serving our customers and engaging our partners.
● Excellence: We promote quality outcomes through learning and continuous performance improvement.
3 More Tri-County Deaths
From COVID-19 In April
This is the monthly report for May 2021. People who are completely vaccinated can go places without facemasks now if they want, according to the most recent CDC guidelines. Remember, a vaccination is not a 100 percent guarantee that COVID-19 won't cause you to have to go to the hospital or the morgue. However, it significantly reduces the odds of that happening.
Graphic By Sharon Hardison
Published May 31, 2021 at 5:11 p.m.