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LifeSouth testing
all blood donors
for COVID-19 antibodies;

Now a critical need for all blood types
By LifeSouth Community Blood Centers
Published May 22, 2020 at 11:10 a.m.
     GAINESVILLE --
LifeSouth Community Blood Centers will begin testing all eligible blood donors for COVID-19 antibodies.

 

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     The antibody test conducted by LifeSouth is authorized for use by the United States Food and Drug Administration and detects if someone has developed antibodies to COVID-19. A positive test result may indicate past exposure and some immunity to the virus. This antibody test is not a diagnostic test and will not determine if the person currently has the virus.
     LifeSouth encourages donors to make an appointment to donate over the coming weeks.
     Plasma donated from recovered COVID-19 patients, or those who had the virus but were asymptomatic, can be a critical tool to help those patients severely affected by the virus. LifeSouth has been testing potential convalescent plasma donors for COVID-19 antibodies since April, and hopes by testing all blood donors, more donors will be willing to donate.
     Since the first convalescent donation in April, LifeSouth has collected convalescent plasma from donors across their footprint in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. These units have been transfused to critically ill patients in local hospitals served by the community blood center.
     Currently, LifeSouth is experiencing a critical need for all blood types and assures it is safe to give blood. All donor centers and bloodmobiles are enforcing social distancing between donors and implementing heightened sanitation protocols. LifeSouth’s bloodmobiles will be out at many locations in the coming weeks.
     Donors must be at least 17 or 16 with parental permission, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds and be in good health. A photo ID is also needed. For additional information, call LifeSouth toll-free at 888-795-2707 or visit https://www.lifesouth.org/.

 


Bronson preps for 4th of July;
Weeks wants better record
of contentious meeting


Bronson Town Council HardisonInk.com
In this photo taken from a video recording of a previous meeting, which was provided as a courtesy by the town government, the elected officials seen here are (from left) Town Councilman Berlon Weeks, Vice Mayor Jason Hunt, Mayor Beatrice Roberts, Town Councilman Aaron Edmondson and Town Councilman Robert Partin. The Town Council continues meeting in the Levy County Annex Auditorium, which is the former Bronson High School. The Dogan Cobb Municipal Building is seen as being too small to meet the criteria for safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.


By Jeff M. Hardison © May 20, 2020 at 9:10 p.m.
     BRONSON –
Bronson Town Council unanimously chose against an invitation from the City of Archer for a joint Fourth of July celebration this year, and instead is moving toward another Bronson fireworks show.

     City Clerk Shirley Miller introduced the invitation from Archer to join with the Alachua County city to the east of Bronson to have a program at the Bronson Speedway.
     City Councilman Berlon Weeks and City Councilman Aaron Edmondson said they felt this would just benefit Archer. The city clerk had said the Archer offer was just for the town to contribute $2,500 and Archer would tend to vendors, as well as provide the fireworks show.
     For the past several years, the Bronson Fire Department has put on a fireworks show and the town buys $5,000 worth of fireworks to make it happen at James H. Cobb Park.
     Mayor Beatrice Roberts said she wants to move forward with the plan to have a fireworks show at the park, if the COVID-19 pandemic regulations allow it.
     On a motion by Edmondson, seconded by Vice Mayor Jason Hunt, to reject the Archer proposal, and to move forward with the Fourth of July program, the Bronson Town Council approved the action.
     Bronson Fire Chief Dennis Russell confirmed that this is that the town wants a program on the Fourth of July. He was given the go-ahead to begin his plans with a presumption that it will be able to happen.
     On another matter, Councilman Weeks complained that the minutes from the April 7 meeting were lacking in detail.
     After more discussion, when he mentioned two other times in Bronson Town Council history where he had some contentious discussions, how those were more completely noted, a motion by Weeks, seconded by Hunt, met with a vote of approval.
     The minutes will include as a separate attachment, the complaints from town workers who noted in written complaints their desire for Councilman Weeks to not come to Bronson Town Hall, and his written response to their complaints, as well as information about a SCOP Grant for road paving that Weeks said he felt was improperly approved.
     Beyond that, Clerk Miller is going to attempt to type verbatim what Weeks said and what others said in regard to accusations against him for alleged harassment of town workers, as well as the method for approval of the SCOP Grant. Mayor Roberts and Councilman Weeks, however, both spoke at the same time during that heated discussion, making the creation of a verbatim transcript difficult.
     The entire meeting is not going to be revised, but that portion will be more detailed in the minutes.
     Many government entities note that a person who believes there may be a reason to contest an action taken at a meeting should take the necessary steps in advance to have a verbatim transcript made of a meeting.

 


Supervisor of Elections
encourages voters to request
Vote by Mail ballots

By Levy County Assistant Supervisor of Elections Jordan Lindsey
Published May 12, 2020 at 8:10 a.m.
     BRONSON --
Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones encourages voters to request Vote by Mail ballots for the 2020 Primary and General Elections.
     “Our office is taking the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency very seriously,” Supervisor Jones said. “Consistent with the Center for Disease Control's Recommendations for Election Polling Locations, I strongly encourage Levy County voters to Vote by Mail in the 2020 Primary and General Elections. Vote by Mail allows voters to cast their ballots from the safety of their own homes. This will also minimize interactions with other people, and help with maintaining social distancing.”
     As a part of a campaign to encourage voting by mail, Levy County Supervisor of Elections Jones is mailing postcards to voters who do not have an active Vote by Mail request on file. A voter can request a Vote by Mail ballot for one or more upcoming elections by going to the Supervisor of Elections website - https://www.votelevy.gov/votersonthego and clicking the "Request Vote by Mail" icon to get started.
     Voters can also contact the Supervisor of Elections Office at 352-486-5163 to request a ballot.
     “Do not wait until the fall to request a Vote by Mail ballot,” Jones said. “Please request your Vote by Mail ballot now. That way we can get your request into our system, and send you a ballot with plenty of time for you to vote and return the ballot back to us.”
     Voters with questions are encouraged to contact the Levy County Supervisor of Elections Office by email at tammy@votelevy.gov, or by phone at 352-486-5163, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

 


COVID-19 continues to
hamstring gov't meetings;
Williston shows continued
progress overcoming obstacles

Screen Shot of Williston City Council Virtual Meeting
This screenshot of the Tuesday night meeting of the Williston City Council shows municipal leaders at the meeting, as well as people listening to the meeting on phones and computers.

Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © May 6, 2020 at 2:10 p.m.
     WILLISTON –
Williston City Council President Charles Goodman made it clear that he thought the teleconference virtual method for meeting Tuesday night (May 5) was not up to par from his perspective.


In this video, Mayor Jerry Robinson, who is tasked with composing a letter to the Florida Department of Transportation on behalf of Williston, said he would like to see infrastructure that may entice an interest to build a motel or hotel in Williston. In the second part of this two clip piece that lasts for two minutes (from the two-hour meeting), Williston City Council President Charles Goodman is seen speaking about the potential for a bypass route around Williston, rather than through it on Noble Avenue (U.S. Alt. 27).

Williston Florida City Council HardisonInk.com
City Council President Charles Goodman

Williston Florida City Council HardisonInk.com
City Council Vice President

Williston Florida City Council HardisonInk.com
City Councilman Elihu Ross

Williston Florida City Council HardisonInk.com
City Councilwoman Marguerite Robinson

Williston Florida City Council HardisonInk.com
City Councilwoman Debra Jones

Williston Florida City Council HardisonInk.com
Mayor Jerry Robinson


     At the outset of the meeting, during the ironing out of a few technical kinks, Goodman intimated that he felt the meeting should be tabled because he thought it failed to meet minimum mandatory requirements for open meetings under Florida law. City Attorney Frederick L. Koberlein Jr. helped the City Council president understand the meeting could continue that night.
     Unlike the Levy County Board of County Commissioners’ past three meetings, the Williston City Council meeting was able to be understood from a distance. Almost ironically, during the Tuesday night meeting, President Goodman said he had heard from County Commission Chairman Matt Brooks (of Williston) that the County Commission’s virtual meeting method was working well.
     In fact, however, that is not accurate. Beyond the very significant errors in the first two of three County Commission meetings that led to it being almost impossible to understand anything by listeners who were not in that huge auditorium in Bronson, the third Levy County Commission’s virtual meeting even went completely off the live record -- when electrical power shutdown in Bronson for about an hour on Tuesday morning. That meeting continued, however, because it was in a large area where people could sit separated by distance.
     The Williston City Council meeting on Tuesday night included some communication issues for viewers from afar, but nowhere near the extent of Levy County Commission meetings.
     One issue in the Williston meeting, nonetheless, was that comments from City Attorney Frederick L. Koberlein Jr. were not audible to the point of being understood by people not in the meeting room.
     Williston City Councilman Elihu Ross, though, who was not in the City Council meeting room, was able to hear and speak with the other members and staff who were there – including City Council President Goodman, Vice President Justin Head, and City Council members Marguerite Robinson and Debra Jones, and Mayor Jerry Robinson, City Manager Scott Lippmann, Utility Director C.J. Zimoski, City Planner Jackie Gorman and others.
     Interestingly for listeners from afar, Vice President Head’s breathing could be heard – perhaps because that microphone on his headset was positioned in an area where the outflow from his nostrils passed by it.
     Once the meeting was clearly started with the prayer and pledge, President Goodman well-accommodated virtual viewers on the Internet and listeners via phone, by calling upon the people to share their input about each matter. Also, at the start and finish of the meeting, there was ample opportunity for verbal public input in the meeting room of City Hall as well as via telephone and Internet.
     Also with the “Go To Meeting” method of virtual meeting instituted by City Manager Lippmann, computer viewers-listeners could send written “chat” comments to the entire set of people at the event, or to individual members of the City Council, or even to individual other listeners-viewers.
     As for the six-month review of City Clerk Latricia Wright, who was not in City Hall or listening, speaking or writing virtually during the meeting, that review was delayed by President Goodman until City Clerk Wright is in the chambers with City Council. As a result, that action is set to be put on the May 19 meeting, although Goodman said it may be further delayed if needed.
     On another matter during the Williston City Council meeting, although the Levy County Board of County Commissioners already has leapt to the “No Build” option by a 3-2 vote for toll roads through the county, County Commission Chairman Matt Brooks, who is the Levy County representative on the Suncoast Connector Task Force, is seeking input from the cities in Levy County.
     According to what was said at the Williston City Council meeting on Tuesday night, Mayor Robinson will compose a letter with what the city sees as something the Florida Department of Transportation to consider when it comes time to map and build the road connecting Citrus County to Jefferson County.
     It was mentioned that Chiefland Mayor Chris Jones already had provided Levy County Commission Chairman Brooks with that city’s requests for Florida Department of Transportation. Chiefland, it was said Tuesday night, provided quite a wish list to the FDOT.
     Mayor Robinson, who is tasked with composing the letter to the Florida Department of Transportation on behalf of Williston, said he would like to see infrastructure that may entice an interest to build a motel in Williston. He, like others, sees a probable increase on Noble Avenue (U.S. Alt. 27) as motorists leave I-75 to go west toward the possible future north-south toll road.
     There was some discussion about a bypass around Williston for commercial trucks to not use U.S. Alt. 27 (Noble Avenue) as a connection between I-75 and the connector toll road.
     The mayor will seek input from City Council members and others to create a wish list of infrastructural improvements, where the state may consider helping Williston as a byproduct of significant traffic route revisions through North Central Florida.
     Among the many other matters discussed, and some of which were acted upon by always-unanimous votes, were the awarding of a construction contract between the city and SGS Contracting Services Inc. for the Williston Wastewater Treatment Facility Phase 1 Upgrade.
     Based on the City's approved March 2019 Wastewater
Treatment Facility (WWTF) Facilities Plan, the City obtained approval for a Small Cities Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) for a Phase I Upgrade to treatment facility.
     The amount of the grant available for construction is $644,000.
     The Phase 1 Upgrade project was designed by the city's continuing engineering consultant services provider, Wright-Pierce. SGS Contracting Services Inc. was the apparent low bidder with a Base Bid plus Bid Alternate A price of $641,700. Wright-Pierce conducted an evaluation of the bids and concluded that SGS submitted a responsive bid and is qualified to perform the work.
     Given the 5-0 vote Tuesday to execute an agreement with SGS
in the amount of $641,700, the matter is still contingent on final approval from Florida DEO that all grant requirements have been met by the City.
     In another matter that was championed by President Goodman – the reopening of Williston City Hall for residents and visitors, discussion showed President Goodman wants to assure the employees in City Hall are safe.
     City Manager Lippmann said staff members who have been working remotely will be returned to City Hall.
     “We are going to take that on a case-by-case basis,” Lippmann said. “There are a couple (of employees) that are particularly susceptible or vulnerable (to catching COVID-19). We may have to just keep them out a bit longer.”
     The city manager said Williston’s increase in building permits and developmental plans are moving forward well, with the Planning and Building Department staff members able to work away from their offices.
     In that regard, later in the meeting, City Planner Gorman mentioned there has been a demolition permit approved and picked up for development of a Popeye’s Chicken franchise and a Costco Wholesale Store outlet at the site of the former Williston High School.
     She mentioned the demolition permit has a six-month limit before a new permit is required, and she is awaiting some other documentation from the developer.
     City Planner Gorman also said she had heard just recently from a party interested in development of the former Regional General Hospital of Williston property.
     There was no vote by the City Council on the reopening of the City Hall for open traffic from the general public, but discussion shows there are methods being put in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when City Hall reopens.
     City of Williston Human Resources Director JoAnne Nelson said she understands President Goodman’s desire to reopen Williston City Hall. Goodman had opened the matter for discussion by anyone in the meeting room or in the virtual audience.
     Nelson was among the people watching, listening and speaking from a computer connection.
     “I personally feel it’s a little premature for us to make this decision (to reopen Williston City Hall),” Nelson said. “However, I understand, like everyone else, that there’s numerous unknowns. I don’t think that anyone can claim to understand the totality of this (virus and subsequent pandemic).”
     Nelson said on behalf of the employees in one wing of City Hall, where they must use the public restrooms, that she felt the city should increase the frequency of the cleaning of those restrooms. She also requested that management be as flexible as possible with workers who have health concerns.
     Lippmann mentioned that any employee who is ill will be strongly encouraged not to report to work, and if they come to work while they are ill, they “most likely” will be strongly encouraged to go home until they feel better.
     Goodman said there is a plan to reopen City Hall, and it will be implemented in phases to the extent that state restrictions allow. The Levy County Commission was recently reminded that state law supersedes county wishes regarding the reopening of public facilities -- beyond what the Gov. Ron DeSantis allows as he issues executive orders during this international public health crisis.
     In a telephone conversation Wednesday morning (May 6), City Manager Lippmann said he want to have plexiglass in place before opening the front counter to visitors. Facemasks, hand sanitizer, marks on the floor to help people know about six-foot distancing, and written notices for City Hall visitors are among the methods that Williston will provide to help employees and visitors to be as safe as reasonably possible when City Hall reopens. No date is set for that yet, Lippmann said on Wednesday.

 


Camp Anderson will house
children in foster care;

COVID-19 foster children excluded
By Jeff M. Hardison © May 3, 2020 at 9:10 a.m.
     TALLAHASSEE –
On Friday (May 1), the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) announced partnerships with faith-based organizations that are supporting Florida’s child welfare system during the current public health emergency.
     Established in coordination with Erik Dellenback, the Governor’s Faith and Community-Based liaison, and the Florida Coalition for Children, and DCF, these partnerships extend specifically to children in foster care.
     Camp Anderson, a Christian youth camp in Old Town (Dixie County), has volunteered to provide 14-day quarters for children who are in foster care.
     Children who may have been exposed to COVID-19, however are going to be thoroughly screened, and if they test positive, they will be placed in a facility that is even more medically prepared to help them than at Camp Anderson, Camp Director William Bloodworth said in a telephone call on Sunday morning (May 3).
     Care for the foster children, for two weeks, will be provided by 22 Camp Anderson counselors who have passed the thorough background check required for all DCF staff. Nurses from the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) are scheduled to provide viral symptoms screenings, according to United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. DCF is scheduled to coordinate with FDOH to provide personal protective equipment for them as well.
     Additionally, Angel Armies – a national organization founded by Grammy award-winning Christian recording artist Chris Tomlin – donated $25,000 to purchase laptops for foster children. This will allow them to remain connected to their families and continue their schooling.
     “We cannot turn a blind eye to our kids in the middle of their greatest need,” Bloodworth said. “We will all stand before God and give account of our stewardship one day, and we will realize that when we served the most vulnerable in our society, God will commend us for having served Him.”
     Camp Anderson, in working with DCF, initially had designated a house for foster children who were identified as having COVID-19, Bloodworth said, however the agreement changed when the liability of housing COVID-19 foster children for summer camp was more thoroughly reviewed.
     Bloodworth said the contract with the state changed, because in addition to the liability issue, it was believed that children who test positive for COVID-19 will be better served in a facility that is even more suited for medical treatment – in contrast with a summer camp setting.

 


Dixie County maintains
status quo for now

By Jeff M. Hardison © May 1, 2020 at 9:10 p.m.
     DIXIE COUNTY –
Dixie County Manager Tim Alexander on Friday (May 1) said for now, Dixie County is going slow and easy with reopening, while still meeting the needs of the residents and visitors.
     Alexander said the county government never stopped providing all of the services before the order by Gov. Ron DeSantis to close restaurants, bars, gyms and the like. Emergency responders have not stopped. Roadwork continues. Garbage collection is on track as well.
     Even though the county has strived to reduce the general public from visiting county offices, that still happens. There are plexiglass shields placed now to protect county workers and the people who visit the offices.
     The Dixie County public boat ramps at Jena and Suwannee remain closed and the boat ramp at Horseshoe is still open, Alexander said. If the Dixie County Board of County Commissioners does something new, such as opening the county parks or community buildings, then Alexander promised to let the press know.
     Meanwhile, people are asked to understand the county government is seeking to keep people safe from illness and death that results after people contract COVID-19.

 


Town of Inglis
Trial Food Giveaway Succeeds

Inglis Food Giveaway
Yesterday’s (Wednesday, April 29) trial food giveaway went quite well. Inglis Town Commissioner Ann Moran put it together as a trial with Farm Share.


Inglis Trial Food Giveaway Succeeds


Inglis Trial Food Giveaway Succeeds
Approximately 140 boxes of food donated by Farm Share were distributed. Inglis Mayor Drinda Merritt gave away facemasks for each family member. The facemasks were made by, and donated from, the Sew And Sew Club, Yankeetown Inglis Woman’s Club. The fabric and cutting was by Rosella Hennessey, and it was donated by the Jesus Is Ministries of Inglis. Raejean Robinson donated Girl Scout cookies that went quickly to the first in line. A SPECIAL thanks is noted for AmVets Post 447 of Inglis for hosting the event. Organizers hope to receive more donations for the next food share.
Published April 30, 2020 at 7:10 p.m.

Photos And Information Provided By Inglis Mayor Drinda Merritt


 


Levy County Road Department Works



Harry Couey Jr. of the Levy County Road Department operates a grader
In this video and still picture, Harry Couey Jr. operates a grader owned by the Levy County Road Department. Couey, who has been working for the Road Department for 37 years, is grading a lime rock road in Levy County on April 27. Driving on the road shortly before the grading began and then driving on the road again shortly after the road maintenance mission was accomplished showed another excellent example of the jobs completed by people on the Levy County Road Department.

Photo and Video by Jeff M. Hardison © April 28, 2020 at 12:10 p.m.

 


CKWC names Vicki Crumpley
as Volunteer of the Year 2019

Story and Photo
By Eileen Senecal of the Cedar Key Woman’s Club
Published April 27, 2020 at 5:10 p.m.
Cedar Key Woman's Club
     CEDAR KEY –
The Cedar Key of Woman’s Club awarded the Volunteer of the Year 2019 Award to Vicki Crumpley.
     Vicki received the Volunteer of the Year 2019 distinction during the recent annual GFWC Florida District 5 Meeting in Gainesville.
     Well-known in Cedar Key, Vicki has coordinated the production of the Cedar Key Woman’s Club Calendar for the past eight years. The calendar is our most successful fundraiser, and allows the CKWC to support many community efforts, such as the Cedar Key School scholarships, the Community Relief Fund, Another Way Shelter for Women, and the Cedar Key Food Pantry.
     Vicki is also our club photographer, and she has produced six scrapbooks to record our history.
     Of course, she participates in all CKWC ventures – baking, selling, serving tea, and generally putting a smiling hand into all the Cedar Key Woman’s Club ventures.
     Vicki has been elected as a member of the Executive Board, and she already is requesting photo donations for next year’s calendar!
     The Cedar Key Woman’s Club recently announced the 2020-2021 Executive Board as being comprised of President Judy Duvall, First Vice President Beth Wright, Second Vice President Eileen Senecal, Treasurer Gini Barss, Recording Secretary Donna Bushnell, Corresponding Secretary Vicki Crumpley, Parliamentarian Jane Moore and Past President Katherine Dunlop.

 






 

 

 

 


 

 

 

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