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City Council forgives liens;
Date set for city clerk hiring workshop;
Sidewalk policy on the horizon
Williston Mayor Emeritus R. Gerald Hethcoat enters the City Council Chambers Tuesday night. Mayor Hethcoat provided input at a couple of points that night.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © July 18, 2019 at 8:29 p.m.
WILLISTON – The five voting members of the Williston City Council on Tuesday night (July 16) made progress on a number of fronts – including wrapping up a multi-year code violation case; moving forward on selecting a new city clerk; and initiating a process to form a sidewalk-installation policy.
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Williston City Manager Scott Lippmann works during the regular City Council meeting.
City Council President Nancy Wininger and City Councilman Charles Goodman are seen Tuesday night.
City Councilman Elihu Ross reads information on a matter he must vote upon that night.
Williston City Attorney Frederick L. Koberlein Jr. looks at a laptop computer screen as he serves the residents and visitors of Williston by advising the City Council in regard to legal questions.
Pam Vamosi owns a couple of pieces of property that accumulated $54,750 worth of liens due to violation of City Codes during the past few years. When one of those properties became on the verge of selling, the city was approached seeking forgiveness.
After some discussion about the cost for the city to seize the property and sell it and the loss to the city from that procedure, a unanimous vote to approve the motion by Councilman Charles Goodman, seconded by Council Vice President Marguerite Robinson resulted in the $54,750 worth of liens being forgiven – as long as the applicant paid a $250 administration charge.
Picking A Clerk
Latricia Wright has served as interim city clerk for Williston after the departure of former City Clerk Fran Taylor.
A workshop to begin narrowing down the field of applicants had been slated for Monday night (July 15), but due to the city not providing the public with enough proper notice, that meeting could not be held.
Therefore, the City Council unanimously agreed to hold a workshop on July 25 starting at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. This workshop is to begin the process to pick the next city clerk.
City Manager Scott Lippmann asked each member of the City Council to tell him their preferences for creating a policy to determine where sidewalks should be built.
As noted in Florida law, Lippmann will not be communicating with one Council member to say what some other member told him. Instead, he simply wants a starting point to schedule a policy-making set of session with the City Council as a whole in the public view.
Each City Council member will share with the city manager, for instance, if they believe certain parts of the city should or should not have sidewalks.
Currently there is no policy.
For instance, unless there is a defined safety issue, a subdivision developer is not required to create sidewalks.
Another aspect of this sidewalk construction idea for Williston will be how to fund it. Should property fronting sidewalks pay a per-linear-foot fee for the addition? Should the funds come only from the General Fund of the city?
The City Council also learned about utility matters at the meeting Tuesday night, including the potential of a big natural gas customer who would be bigger than Williston Peanut in consumption of that fuel source.
If this customer is connected, it shows promise for more gas utility revenue to help the city.
Assistant Lighthouse Keeper
Carol McQueen portrays Catharine Dorgan Hobday. Catharine was the Assistant Lighthouse Keeper at Seahorse Key Lighthouse Station from 1872-1879 where she died at 83 and was buried on the small cemetery on the island. McQueen, a retired director of the Levy County Tourist Development Council, volunteered to help people experience some of the history of Cedar Key and Seahorse Key during the past week as part of the historic relighting of the lighthouse lamp on Friday (July 5). That lighthouse’s lamp had remained unlit for more than the past 100 years.
Published July 7, 2019 at 8:29 a.m.
Public Health In Action
Assistant Dixie County Manager Duane Cannon and Florida Department of Health (Dixie County Unit) Preparedness and Response Coordinator Lola Butler setup the new Notification Center inside the Dixie County Courthouse on Tuesday (July 2). The Notification Center is part of a special grant project aimed to improve and enhance community preparedness and information sharing. This Notification Center kiosk is one of four kiosks that were purchased with the special project grant funds. These kiosks can be used to communicate messages to the public regarding things such as public health threats, severe weather alerts, public health advisories, upcoming community events, special needs registration information and much more.
Published July 5, 2019 at 1:09 p.m.
Information and Photo Provided By the Florida Department of Health (Dixie County Unit)
Sales Tax Holiday is Aug. 2-6
Published June 30, 2019 at 11:09 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE -- During this sales tax holiday period, Florida law directs that no sales tax or local option tax (also known as discretionary sales surtax) will be collected on purchases of:
• Clothing, footwear, and certain accessories selling for $60 or less per item
• Certain school supplies selling for $15 or less per item
• Personal computers and certain computer-related accessories selling for $1,000 or less per item, when purchased for noncommercial home or personal use.
This sales tax holiday does NOT apply to:
• Any item of clothing selling for more than $60
• Any school supply item selling for more than $15
• Books that are not otherwise exempt
• Computers and computer-related accessories purchased for commercial purposes
• Rentals or leases of any eligible items
• Repairs or alterations of any eligible items
• Sales of any eligible items in a theme park, entertainment complex, public lodging establishment, or airport.
(Reference: Section 19, Chapter 2019-42, Laws of Florida)
This information is on the Florida Department of Revenue's website, which can be seen by clicking HERE.
Gilchrist County Rotary Club
learns about drug abuse
Rotary President Elect Bob Clemons, Dixie County Rotarian Rebecca Fusco (holding a check donated from the Gilchrist County Rotarians to the Dixie County Rotarians), and Gilchrist Rotarian Joanne Halter.
Story and Photo
By Holly Creel
Published June 19, 2019 at 2:09 p.m.
TRENTON -- Rotarian Joanne Halter hosted an informative and interesting program for the Rotary Club of Gilchrist County on Monday, (June 17), at the Women's Club in Trenton.
Joanne introduced Rebecca Fusco, Data and Outreach Coordinator for the Dixie County Anti-Drug Coalition.
Rebecca is energetic, passionate and clearly knowledgeable about her work raising awareness and prevention of drug and alcohol use and abuse in Dixie County. Although Rebecca represents Dixie County, she was provided statistics for Gilchrist County, too.
In 2017, Dixie County had the highest per-capita overdose death rate of any Florida county. Ninety-five of those overdose fatalities involved people aged 30 years and older.
Half of all Dixie County overdose deaths involved prescription drugs and not “street drugs.”
The combination of benzodiazepines and opioids caused half of the overdose deaths noted in Dixie County. One-third of people taking these opioids did not know they were taking opioids, Rebecca said.
The data for Gilchrist County was not as dire but still similar and concerning.
Some examples of opioids that Rebecca told the club about are codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and ultram.
Examples of benzodiazepines are Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Restoril and Librium. In 2016, the FDA issued a black box warning stating that combining opioids and benzodiazepines can result in death.
Combining either opioids or benzodiazepines with alcohol can be deadly.
Most of the club members were surprised that the overdoses were primarily in adults aged 45-65 years of age and that the deaths were caused by drugs prescribed by a health care provider.
Often, the person does not understand what is in the medication and combines two or more drugs to make a deadly combination. Today's youth are using drugs and alcohol at much lower rates than most generations in recent history, Rebecca said.
But, because the human brain is still developing until ages 21-25 years of age, any exposure to addictive substances can predispose the person to a lifelong addictive tendency - by a 25 percent increase. It is for this reason that Rebecca works diligently to prevent our youth from being exposed to drugs and alcohol at an early age.
Rebecca explained facts about methamphetamine usage and that its addictive properties were more mental, whereas opioids are a physical addiction. She warned that of the unique dangers of ICE, a crystal methamphetamine made primarily in Mexico that is often laced with both types of drugs, causing the user to rapidly develop both a mental and physical addiction. There are numerous resources to learn more about this concerning issue both on-line and through county health providers.
In addition to being dedicated to her work, Rebecca is a member of the Dixie County Rotary Club and she accepted our club’s donation on her club’s behalf for a grant project with the Dixie County Rotary Club, Gilchrist County Rotary Club, Williston Rotary Club and Suwannee Valley (in Chiefland) Rotary Club to provide toothbrushes, toothpaste and education to young children about dental cavity prevention.
We learned that babies are not born with the bacteria that contributes to cavities, but that they acquire the bacteria though contamination from pacifiers and other similar objects they put in their mouth. Gilchrist County Rotarians learned a lot and we give our thanks to Joanne Halter and Rebecca Fusco!
Click HERE to see the May 24, 2019 article HardisonInk.com where Rebecca Fusco shares this information with a group of people in Dixie County.
Gilchrist County Rotary Club
gives and gets in Bell
Seen here with a $5,000 check to the Gilchrist League are (from left) Gilchrist County Rotary Club President Aaron Haynes, Gilchrist Rotarians Chris Weatherilt, Rick Washburn, Todd Gray, and Matthew VunCannon, and Branford Rotarians Trannie and John Lacquey.
Story and Photos
By Holly Creel, Rotarian
Published June 11, 2019 at 5:09 p.m.
BELL -- Service Above Self. Be The Inspiration.
Gilchrist County Rotary Club Membership Chair Todd Gray (left) inducts Rick Washburn into the club as Rotarian Chris Weatherilt performs the pinning
Here are Rotarians at Akins Bar-B-Q & Grill in Bell on Monday afternoon (June 10).
The Gilchrist County Rotary Club "walked the talk" of serving and giving to others in our community and internationally at our meeting on Monday (June 10) at Akins Bar-B-Q & Grill in Bell.
President Aaron Haynes began the monthly business meeting with an inspirational message about the purpose of Rotary - to reach out and help others to better our world, locally and abroad.
Rotarian Matthew VunCannon accepted a donation on behalf of the Gilchrist League. Matthew updated the club's members and guests on the work of the League, serving numerous boys and girls in the area with the opportunity to play and compete in sports. The Gilchrist League, consisting of nearly 640 kids and coaches, offers football (flag and tackle), softball, baseball, soccer, basketball, cheerleading, and teeball.
The Rotary Club of Gilchrsti County provides support to the League each year because we believe that playing in a team sport is a great way to build character and that an investment in these kids playing competitive sports is an investment in our future. Matthew explained the many operational expenses of this volunteer-run organization. He expressed gratitude for the donation. Supporting our young people is a top priority for this club and we primarily do it through supporting the Gilchrist League and Interact Service Clubs at Bell High School and Trenton High School.
We also gave donations to two fellow Rotary Clubs in our District. John and Trannie Lacquey accepted a donation to the Branford Rotary Club to support a Rotary International Grant to provide uniform scrubs to volunteers who provide medical care and wheelchairs to disabled children in El Salvador. Rotarians are known not only to help locally in their community, but also to help those in other countries with health care, educational support, clean water and numerous other interventions to help others live better lives.
And there's more! The Gilchrist County Rotary Club also pledged to support the Chiefland Rotary Club in their work for a Rotary District Global Grant proposal to purchase a van for the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranch. Rotarians helping other Rotarians!
So, you can see there was a lot of giving going on at the meeting. There was also some getting, as we welcomed a new member into our club!
Rick Washburn, Controller at Tri-County Metals, was inducted by Membership Chair Todd Gray and pinned by Rotarian and Tri-County Metals CEO Chris Weatherilt. We are very excited about having Rick join our Rotary Club. Even before his official induction Rick volunteered by helping distribute dictionaries earlier this year to public school third graders and hanging quilts for the Trenton Quilt Festival.
We know Rick will be a tremendous addition to our club. And, to prove that point, Rick is the only Rotarian to volunteer to serve as an upcoming Rotary President before he was even inducted! Now that's being committed to service! Welcome to the Rotary Club of Gilchrist County, Rick Washburn!
As always, the food at Akins was delicious. We dined on barbecue pork and chicken, macaroni and cheese, garlic toast, green beans and a delectable banana pudding for dessert. A delightful meeting and luncheon was enjoyed by all! Special thanks to Rotarian Scott Akins who joined us for the meeting!
Williston holds open house
at the new City Hall
Story and Photos
By Terry Witt
HardisonInk.com Correspondent © June 9, 2019 at 10:09 p.m.
WILLISTON -- Williston residents and visitors enjoyed their first close-up look at the interior of the recently constructed City Hall during an open house event Saturday (June 8) that coincided with the city’s celebration of its 90th anniversary.
The city turned 90 on June 2.
The front of City Hall is a classy mix of the old and the new.
A visitor to the Williston Council meeting room browses through literature at the dais. The council dais was part of the former Bronson council chambers but it fit well in the new council chambers.
Visitors are treated to a lunch and refreshments in the City Hall Community Room.
Ahmes Askia and City Manager Scott Lippmann survey the map room. Askia said the new City Hall looks progressive.
An old newspaper story on display at the open house discusses progress in the city.
Claudia and Kenneth Ward look at a table of memorabilia. They were impressed by City Hall.
People who toured the structure were favorably impressed by what they saw.
The 13,000 square-foot facility was a showcase for those who walked through its hallways for the first time. They saw a modern municipal building with ample space and an appealing design.
City Hall has two WiFi networks to make it is more cyber secure. One of the WiFi networks is off limits to the general public to reduce the chance of a ransomware attack.
City Hall has its own Community Center directly opposite the Williston City Council meeting room.
“Amazing. Very impressed,” said Kenneth Ward of Williston. “I think it’s fantastic and it’s been needed for a while.”
His wife Claudia said the new building is important to the town.
“It shows it’s growing,” she said. “I never would have dreamed it would be that nice.”
Ahmes Askia of Williston had high praise for the building.
“I love this,” she said. “This seems so progressive.”
Sue Goodman was equally impressed.
“It’s beautiful. Did you ever see the old facility? It was very much needed,” she said.
City Manager Scott Lippmann’s office is smaller than his previous space at the old City Hall, but his new digs are equipped with computer software that will make it more efficient to process information with less paperwork.
Lippmann said plans are in place to install a document management system that eliminates much of the paperwork. The city will store most of its documents digitally.
Lippmann said the city will “never be paperless,” but the opposite is true now.
“’We are drowning in paperwork. The move into here has shown us how we are drowning in paper,” he said.
Councilman Elihu Ross said he remembers the council debate on whether to convert the old school cafeteria to a city hall or build a new one. He couldn’t see sinking $50,000 into roof repairs and having no space for expansion.
Ross said he lived in Williston before the former City Hall was built and remembers Halloween carnivals, political rallies and other events on a field there before it was constructed. In his youth, he said, the original City Hall was the old wooden building that later served as a community center and voting precinct. The old wooden City Hall also stood at the site of the new facility.
“I said it’s always been the center of Williston and we ought to have the City Hall right in the center,” he said. “After a lot of thought, we decided to build one and tear the old one down. It was about to fall down anyhow.”
Ross said he believes the new building will be here for a long time to come.
“I’m very proud of it,” he said.
He said the City Council thought it would catch flak for constructing a new building, but the resistance wasn’t as bad as expected. He said people were aware the old building was deteriorating, especially people who came to pay bills.
City Council President Nancy Wininger said the council is thrilled with the new building.
“It shows Williston is up and coming. We want people here. We want businesses. We want residents here. We want everyone to feel welcome and building a building like this helps us achieve that,” she said.
Levy County Supervisor
of Elections Tammy Jones takes
oath of office as FSASE president
Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee (left) and Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections President Tammy Jones, who is the Levy County Supervisor of Election stand together in Daytona Beach, where Jones accepted the duties as FSASE president.
Information and Photos Provided
Published May 29, 2019 at 9:09 a.m.
DAYTONA BEACH -- Tammy Jones, Levy County Supervisor of Elections, was sworn in as President of the Florida State
Association of Supervisors of Elections by Secretary of State, Laurel Lee. The swearing-in ceremony took place during the association's conference on Wednesday, May 22, in Daytona Beach.
Seen here (from left) at the recent convention in Daytona Beach are FSASE Vice President Wesley Wilcox, Supervisor of Elections Marion County; FSASE President-Elect Craig Latimer, Supervisor of Elections Hillsborough County; FSASE President Tammy Jones, Supervisor of Elections Levy County; Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee; FSASE Past President Paul Lux, Supervisor of Elections Okaloosa County; FSASE Secretary Mark Earley, Supervisor of Elections Leon County; and FSASE Treasurer Ron Turner, Supervisor of Elections Sarasota County.
The FSASE is comprised of supervisors of elections from all of the 67 counties of Florida.
Jones was elected by her peers to represent the association as their president for one year.
Jones has made it her goal to be an active participant with the FSASE.
"I'm deeply honored to be sworn in as the 61st president of the association,” President Jones said. “The association's mission is to assist its members in conducting fair, honest and accurate elections. Our members grow stronger due to the connections we all share. As my colleagues and I prepare for the 2020 elections, we will continue to work diligently to improve the voting experience for Floridians."
Yankeetown mayor announces
WGP Board of Trustees
volunteers are needed
Published May 26, 2019 at 10:09 a.m.
YANKEETOWN -- Yankeetown Mayor Jack Schofield recently announced in an e-mail that volunteers are needed for the Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve (WGP) Board Of Trustees.
In February, a referendum vote was held and the electorate of Yankeetown as an advisory voted 65 “for” and 48 “against” the Town of Yankeetown continuing to maintain and support financially the 420-acre WGP.
As with all parks throughout Florida and the United States, volunteer groups make the effort and take the responsibility for management, maintenance and garnering of financial support for covering some of the operational cost of parks.
The Town of Yankeetown is fortunate to have the Friends of the WGP who provide educational opportunities and some maintenance and financial support in assisting the Town in maintaining and operating the park, Mayor Schofield said. The Town, as required by the Florida Communities Trust Grant has a seven-member Board of Trustees (BOT) that oversee the following required management plan; seeking support from groups such as the Friends of the WGP and assisting in seeking whatever financial assistance that can be found to support the Preserve, Schofield noted.
Since the vote on the referendum was held, unfilled positions on this board increased from two to three. This is due to the resignation of the chairman of the BOT, Mayor Schofield continued. This is an important position that carries a big responsibility in ensuring that the Town follows the requirements of the FCT (Florida Communities Trust) agreement.
These three positions need to be filled by Yankeetown residents, he said.
As results indicate by those who took the time to vote, Mayor but Schofield noted, the majority of town voters want the Town of Yankeetown to continue its support of the WGP. In order for the Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve to continue under the Town of Yankeetown and its Board of Trustees, an urgent request now is made to town residents to fill these open seats for a chairperson and two members. It is important and is needed.
If you would like to be involved please contact the Town of Yankeetown at 352-447-2511.
“Your support is necessary for the future of the Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve,” Yankeetown Mayor Schofield concluded.
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