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Chiefland moves toward adding
special tax assessments

Chiefland City Commission Special Tax
Chiefland City Commission members listen to City Manager Mary Ellzey read the resolution for accepting a uniform method to collect special assessments for fire and first responder service within the city limits of Chiefland. They are (from left) Vice Mayor Tim West, City Commissioner Rollin Hudson, Mayor Tim West, City Commissioner Lewrissa Mainwairing and City Commissioner Norman Weaver. The primary fire protection area for Chiefland Fire Rescue extends into the unincorporated part of Levy County, too.

Story and Photo
By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 11, 2019 at 8:09 a.m.
Just as Levy County charges property owners special assessments for fire protection and other services, so too will the City of Chiefland impose special assessments in addition to the ad valorem property taxes, given the path started on Monday night (Dec. 10) keeps going forward.

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Levy County Prevention Coalition


     By a 4-1 vote, with City Commissioner Rollin Hudson being the lone dissenter who voted "No," a motion by Vice Mayor Tim West, seconded by City Commissioner Norman Weaver, was adopted. That motion is for the city to adopt a uniform method of collecting non-ad valorem fees from taxpayers in the city.
     City Attorney Norm Fugate told the City Commission that the adoption of this procedure simply puts Levy County Property Appraiser Osborn “Oz” Barker, Levy County Tax Collector Linda Fugate and all of the property owners in Chiefland on alert that the city is considering the imposition of special assessments to fund fire protection and first responder services in the city.
     If the city moves forward, then the first special assessment would be for the fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1, 2020.
     During the discussion, before he voted “No,” Hudson expressed his opinion that this added special tax will not result in a lowered millage rate, but instead will simply cost all taxpayers more.
     Vice Mayor West said he foresees some property owners as being exempt from the special assessment because they will not be able to afford it. When the concept of individuals not paying this special assessment due to being poverty-stricken was asked, as West had inferred, West said he thinks the City Commission can exempt individuals who show a “hardship.”
     Attorney Fugate said he does not remember seeing special assessments where property owners are exempted because of financial hardships. There may be some entire class of taxpayers exempted, Fugate added, but the finer details of this special taxing method is not what was being considered Monday night.
     This resolution, he said, simply shows the city’s intent to start this special assessment for fire and first responder service funding for the City of Chiefland.
     The 4-1 vote in favor of the West-Weaver motion, with Hudson dissenting, shows the intent of the City Commission to move forward with this special assessment. Mayor Chris Jones and Commissioner Lewrissa Mainwaring were the other two positive votes with West and Weaver.
     Mayor Jones has led the campaign to find funding to help the Chiefland Fire Rescue Department because the property value in Chiefland cannot support much in the way of an urban fire department from ad valorem property taxes alone.
     Meanwhile, over the past number of years, Fire Chief James Harris, and the paid and volunteer firefighters of Chiefland continuously have shown a valiant effort as they frugally and creatively manage to save lives and property with limited funding.


Commission declares
Dixie County as
2nd Amendment Sanctuary;

Special tax assessments reviewed
– Tri-County Area

Dixie County Florida
Dixie County Manager Tim Alexander (left) reads as Dixie County Attorney M. Michael O’Steen looks beyond him during the meeting Thursday morning (Dec. 5).

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 6, 2019 at 11:19 a.m.
The five members of the Dixie County Board of the County Commissioners on Thursday morning (Dec. 5) unanimously declared Dixie County as a Second Amendment Sanctuary.


Dixie County Florida
Two of Dixie County’s leaders County Commissioner Gene Higginbotham (left) and of County Commissioner Mark Hatch are seen during the regular twice-monthly meeting Thursday.

Dixie County Florida
Dixie County Commission Chairman W.C. Mills (left) and Vice Chairman David Osteen are among this county’s government leaders, and are seen in action Thursday at the regular meeting that day.

Dixie County Florida
Dixie County Commissioner Jamie Storey (left) and Dixie County Manager Tim Alexander are seen Thursday as they work to help the residents and visitors of the county.

Dixie County Florida
Providing the press with a requested group photo opportunity are the members of the Dixie County Board of County Commissioners. Seen here immediately after the meeting adjourned on Thursday (Dec. 5) are (from left) Gene Higginbotham, Mark Hatch, Chairman W.C. Mills, Vice Chairman David Osteen and Jamie Storey.

      At the request of County Commissioner Mark Hatch, County Attorney M. Michael O’Steen drafted the resolution, which came from a template used around the nation for this type of declaration.
     There was one finer point in the Dixie County version, including the space for signatures by each of the five members of this commission – Chairman W.C. Mills, Vice Chairman David Osteen, and commissioners Gene Higginbotham, Mark Hatch and Jamie Storey.
     Just as their counterparts in Levy County did two mornings earlier, this set of five elected county leaders made a statement about their support for the amendment to the United States Constitution and the Florida Constitution in regard to people having the right to bear arms.
     Of course, the United States Constitution is the foundation for all law in this country. The First Amendment to this document supports free speech, a free press, the right to peaceably assemble for redress of the government and the prohibition from the government forcing any or no religion on the populace.
     The first 10 amendments to the Constitution are known as The Bill of Rights.
     Meanwhile, in addition to showing its support for The Second Amendment, the Dixie County Commission moved effectively and efficiently through the agenda for the day.
     Commissioners mentioned their appreciation for individuals as well as for all of the county employees who work on behalf of the residents and visitors of, and to, Dixie County.
     Among the county staff members who spoke Tuesday was Building and Zoning Director Leon Wright. He updated the Commission on progress toward Dixie County property owners being able to secure building permits through an online process. The revisions being completed now even meet the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
     (By the way, recently became ADA compliant. Click HERE to read that story.)
     Commissioners learned about grant opportunities for improving the public libraries in Dixie County, including the potential for funding the construction of a new structure.
     Payment for paving and road markings on Dixie County Road 55-A at a cost of $312,999 was approved Tuesday.
     County Manager Timothy W. “Tim” Alexander gave commissioners the update on CR 55-A, as well as speaking with commissioners about boat ramps, parking for boat ramps and certain seawalls.
     County Commission Chairman Mils brought up a point where the county may need to perform a better job on collecting payments due.
     Dixie County has a very active solid waste satellite transfer site program currently. Each district has at least a couple of places where people can bring their household garbage.
     Some residences, businesses and churches, though, use the 90 cans provided by the county, where the county collects that garbage. The fee for the service is $50 a month.
     If all 90 can users paid the fee, it would equal $4,500 in monthly revenue or $54,000 a year.
     According to what was said Tuesday morning, there are people waiting for use of those cans and that service. There are no more cans available. And some people who are using the cans are delinquent in payment for the service, according to what was said.
     Chairman Mills said he wants to be clear that he does not want to take those cans back. He just wants the county to be more assertive in collecting the fees that are due it.
     Some of the cans have bottoms that are “gone,” County Manager Alexander said, and the county’s repairs of those cans have taken them as far as they can go. There is a possibility, Alexander said, that the county will need to buy some number of new replacement cans.
     An off-the-cuff estimate or 15 to 18 percent of the can-users not paying for the service shows the county lost at least $7,000 in revenue annually, if the numbers mentioned Tuesday are correct.
     Another funding issue for Dixie County government is the collection of fees from residents and visitors either for parking near to boat ramps, or for launching from, and landing at, certain boat ramps in Dixie County. A plan for an annual sticker to be bought did not get off the ground before, but the County Commission discussed a bit about that program on Tuesday.
     Like the garbage can fee collection process, the boat sticker process did not seem to reach actionable points at the regular meeting of the Dixie County Commission on Tuesday.
     Preliminary work to address special assessment increases is happening in Dixie County.
     Special assessments are taxes that are not based on property values, and they are not exempted via Homestead Exemption.
     Currently, Dixie County property owners annually pay $135 per developed parcel for solid waste management (garbage); $40 per developed parcel for fire protection; $12 for vacant property; and $5 for mosquito control – in special assessments beyond the ad valorem amounts based on property value.
     Information for the Dixie County current annual special assessment payments came from the County Manager’s Office and Dixie County Tax Collector Michelle Cannon.
     Currently, Levy County property owners pay $129 for developed parcels for fire protection; $12 for undeveloped parcels for fire protection; $119 for ambulance service; and $116 for solid waste transfer service (garbage) (and that is when the property owner transports the garbage to a site himself or herself) – in special assessments beyond the ad valorem amounts based on property value.
There are also non-residential rates for fire protection and separately ambulance service for commercial, industrial-warehouse and institutional properties, based on a per square-foot assessment, according to information provided by the Levy County Tax Collector's Office.
     Information for the Levy County special assessment payments came from a couple of Levy County landowners’ two tax bills for developed and undeveloped property (this is on seven lots of combined property unofficially known as The Ink Pad). The Levy County Tax Collector's Office also provided information.
     Currently, Gilchrist County property owners annually pay $80 for developed parcels for fire protection; $10 for undeveloped parcels for fire protection; and $80.90 for the landfill – in special assessments beyond the ad valorem amounts based on property value. Ambulance service in Gilchrist County is covered by the ad valorem property taxes. There are subdivisions within Gilchrist County, which pay special assessments for certain road paving serving those property owners; however, those are not countywide fees.
     Information for the Gilchrist County payments came from the Gilchrist County Property Appraiser’s Office after the Gilchrist County Tax Collector’s Office transferred the request for information to that office.    
     As for the special assessments and the future in Dixie County, Nabors, Giblin & Nickerson, P.A., is a Florida-based law firm that concentrates its practice in representing municipalities, counties, school districts, special districts, and related financial and governmental entities in all areas of local government and state finance and tax law is working with Dixie County on updating the special assessments paid by property owners in the county.
     This special assessments’ revision process is at an early stage in Dixie County, as County Manager Alexander, Dixie County Emergency Services Chief Darian Brown and others gather the information to create new fees that are up-to-date with costs for services, as well as being fair and equitable to taxpayers.
     In other news, among the announcements of meetings and events, County Attorney O’Steen mentioned that the City of Fanning Springs is having a daylong set of festivities on Saturday (Dec. 7) at Fort Fanning.


Child reads resolution
County Commission declares
Levy County is a
‘2nd Amendment Sanctuary’;

Toll roads’ progress updated;
Road closed in neighborhood

Carson Meeks of Bronson
Carson Meeks reads the resolution.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 4, 2019 at 6:09 p.m.
     BRONSON –
The five members of the Levy County Board of County Commissioners took action to protect people from the federal government reducing the right to own guns; and the five county leaders heard from state transportation representatives as those state government employees provided an update on two proposed toll roads through Levy County; and the Levy County government leaders closed part of a public road Tuesday morning (Dec. 3).
     And they did more.
     Bronson sixth grader Carson Meeks of Bronson Middle High School, the son of County Commission Chairman John Meeks and Stephanie Meeks, earned a plaque and a full scholarship to attend 4-H Camp Cherry Lake in June of 2020, as noted in a story published Nov. 22 in
     He was among the winners during the 4_H Tropicana Public Speaking Program at the county level, held Nov. 21.
     Carson Meeks will compete in another round of speech competition at 4-H district event set for May 2, 2020, in Bell. His speech titled “Why We Need The Second Amendment” is why his father Chairman Meeks said the boy should be the person to read a proclamation Tuesday morning to declare Levy County as being among the many “Second Amendment Sanctuary” counties in the nation.
     Also, on Tuesday morning (Dec. 3), the County Commission heard about progress by the Florida Department of Transportation on two possible toll roads going through Levy County.
     And among the many government actions it took Tuesday, the Levy County Commission closed access on a public road – making it private property for two families, despite a petition signed by 14 different people in the same neighborhood, and without answering a verbal plea to consider the neighborhood rather than one section of one road.

Levy County Commission
Levy County Commissioner Mike Joyner (left) and Levy County Commissioner Rock Meeks

Levy County Commission
Levy County Commission Vice Chairman Matt Brooks

Levy County Commission
Levy County Commissioner Lilly Rooks

Levy County Commission
Levy County Commission Chairman John Meeks

     Carson Meeks read the proclamation which noted “… the  Constitution  of  the  United  States  is  the  supreme  law  of  our nation” and that The  Second  Amendment states “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
     The sixth grader went on to cite federal cases as well as the Constitution, which shows the power of states and the federal government in regard to ruling over people.
     He went on to read the proclamation which cited Article I, Section 8, of the Florida Constitution, “Right to bear arms. —
(a) The right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law.”
      (There are more parts to that section of the state constitution.)
     In the end, the resolution noted “The Levy County Board of County Commissioners hereby declares Levy County as a Second Amendment Sanctuary in order to preserve for the People of, on, and in Levy County their rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America.”
     Like other local governments across the nation that make such proclamations, it does nothing to detract from the federal government’s power, nor does it add anything to the local authority than existed before the resolution was adopted. Nothing changes in regard to gun laws in Levy County, in Florida, or in the United States as a result of the resolution; however, the County Commission makes a statement.

Robbie Blake Levy County
Robbie Blake, a Levy County resident who lives next to Chunky Pond, shares her feelings about how two new toll roads would adversely impact the quality of life for the residents and visitors of Levy County.

     Ryan Asmus, the Florida Department of Transportation production lead for the Suncoast Corridor, was among the people speaking for the FDOT’s progress with that MCORES and with the Northern Turnpike Corridor, both toll roads which may traverse Levy County.
     Before the state government workers spoke about the roads, Robbie Blake of Bronson gave her perspective on those potential roads.
     Blake thanked the county commissioners for their service to the people as she opened her speech. Blake has been in Levy County for the past 40 years, she said, and still lives next to Chunky Pond.

Tobbie Blake Levy County
Robbie Blake shows how U.S. Highway 19 serves motorists traveling through Levy County.

     Robbie Blake’s and her husband’s three children attended public school in Levy County and then went to the University of Florida, from whence they graduated too.
     Blake shared her concept of what the two MCORES passing through Levy County will mean.
    MCORES is an FDOT acronym for Multi-Use Corridors of Economic Significance. There are three possible MCORES in the pre-planning stage. The one not going through Levy County is in the South Florida region.
     Blake said these two MCORES going through Levy County have a price-tag of $64 million per mile.
     She reminded listeners that U.S. Highway 19, which includes U.S. Highway 98 as a moniker, runs from Inglis through Fanning Springs in Levy County, and that it serves as an evacuation route. Blake said it is relatively unused from Levy County through Dixie County and Taylor County.
     She reminded people that a pipeline placed through Levy County was put down without much notice to the public. She sees the proposal for these two toll roads through Levy County by Gov. Ron DeSantis as taking a similar method for ramrodding.
     Blake expressed her concern for damage to Goethe Forest and Chunky Pond by placing a highway through those areas. Otters and several other forms of wildlife and plants were mentioned as being adversely affected if this construction goes through there.
     Protecting those natural resources for hunters and tourists, as well as protecting the water sources of the area are reasons to reject allowing the toll roads to be built through this county, she said.
     The state wants more people to move to Levy County from Miami, Blake alleged. She said the people of this county moved here to avoid the lifestyle that people experience in Miami and other metropolitan Florida cities.
     The people of this part of Florida will suffer unintended consequences, such as water shortages and a loss of the quality of life currently enjoyed, by building these toll roads, she said.
     The proponents say MCORES will bring better Internet service, and jobs, Blake said.
     All Blake sees for jobs will be more gasoline stations off of the toll road exits. As for providing better Internet service, Blake says that if that is what the state promises, then let it provide that without building a toll road.
     She warned that another probable aspect of toll road construction will be the damage or destruction of historic and cultural landmarks in Levy County.
     When Asmus and other FDOT spokesmen address the County Commission, they shared information about these two of the three MCORES.
     The state government is explaining to the people that these roads are needed to meet the demands put on the state from its continued growth in population.
     As noted in previously published stories, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is assigned with assembling task forces to study three specific corridors:
     The Suncoast Connector, extending from Citrus County to Jefferson County; and
     The Northern Turnpike Connector, extending from the northern terminus of Florida’s Turnpike northwest to the Suncoast Parkway; and
     The Southwest-Central Florida Connector, extending from Collier County to Polk County.
     The FDOT remains in an information-gathering pre-plan mode.
     The FDOT has created a website to share information about MCORES. It is located at
    The FDOT also seeks input, and it offers methods shown on the website, as well as to note that public hearings will be available. Asmus told the County Commission that he and other FDOT employees plan to attend commission meetings monthly as well, to keep the people updated and to seek input and answer questions about these potential toll roads.
     Among the many options for a route is U.S. Highway 19 to serve as part of the toll roads. Another option is neither of the toll roads to be built through Levy County.

Rollin Hudson gets a road closed
Rollin Hudson explains that he believes closing a portion of 40th Avenue just outside the Chiefland city limits will reduce the odds for people to dump garbage on farm property he owns.

     Rollin Hudson, representing Hudson Farms, asked the County Commission to close a part of 40th Avenue, located off of U.S. Alt. 27, just outside the city limits of Chiefland.
     Hudson said he has tried several methods over the years to stop people from going down the road and dumping all sorts of garbage on his property.
     One of his neighbors on 38th Avenue said she sees even more garbage being dumped on property close to her home. She and other neighbors clean up that garbage, she said. She provided a petition to the County Commission with 14 individuals’ names signed to show they want the 40th Avenue – a public road – to remain open for public use, rather than closing it and giving that roadway to Hudson and another property owner adjacent to that part of that road.
     The County Commission chose to grant Hudson’s request with little discussion beyond the acknowledgement that the Levy County Sheriff’s Office can’t catch illegal dumpers, and no one else appears to know how to stop this type of criminal behavior there, other than Hudson, whose closure of one section of the road may reduce the dumping.
     There was no indication that closure of part of 38th Avenue could be expected, too, if those adjacent property owners took the same steps as Hudson.

     As part of the many other actions by the County Commission on Tuesday, it voted 5-0 to allow County Coordinator Wilbur Dean to sign and send a letter to the Levy Association for Retarded Citizens to note that he and the County Commission have been brought into awareness of allegations related to concerns about the alleged “… care and lack of activities being provided by LARC to its clients.”
     Commissioners heard from the mother of a mentally retarded man speak about the Levy Association for Retarded Citizens, where her son had been served for 23 years. She complained about leadership since the death of former Executive Director Betty Walker,
     Betty Seamon of the City of Fanning Springs said she took her son out of LARC last month (November). LARC is located in the Town of Otter Creek.
     The mother said she felt her son was no longer safe there.
     Seamon told the County Commission that she understands that the commission cannot do anything to fix the problems at LARC. Seamon also asked them to continue providing funding, by paying invoices submitted to the county by LARC.
     Seamon expressed her opinion that the new director Bill Slaughter is not a good replacement for the late Walker, and that Nick Brown, Walker’s nephew would have been a better replacement.
     Seamon said she recently became a member of the LARC Board of Directors as part of her effort to improve conditions at the facility. Randy Stefanelli is the current president of the LARC board. Among the other LARC directors Seamon mentioned Tuesday morning are Levy County Judge J.T. “James” Browning and Keith Maynard.
     Seamon said she believes LARC is now serving 10 clients, although it could serve a maximum of 25 clients, she added.


CKWC honors
calendar photographers

Cedar Key Womans Club Photographers
Special recognition was noted for Rita Baker and Wanda Davis, for their contributions to almost all eight years of calendars. Photographers Rory Brennan, Joan Selby, Ann Kamzelski and Vicki Crumpley were recognized for their contributions for all eight years of calendars. Other photographers in this group shot include (if they were present for the event and happened to be at this part of the courtyard at this moment) Deanne Watson, Mary Ellen Szper, Santa Blouse, Darlene White, Robin Gillies, Tina Berger, Teresa Stevens, Molly Jubitz, Renee Schneck, Katherine Dunlop and Judy Cain.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Nov. 29, 2019 at 6:09 p.m.
     CEDAR KEY --
Many of the individuals who contributed to the creation of the 2020 Cedar Key Woman's Club Calendar enjoyed a reception to honor them on Wednesday evening (Nov. 27) at the event held at The Island Hotel and Restaurant’s outdoor courtyard.

Cedar Key Womans Club Photographers
An aerial view of some of the many hors d’oeuvres and a special set of roses in a vase are seen here.

Cedar Key Womans Club Photographers
Some of the guests arrive for the reception at the Island Hotel and Restaurant’s outdoor courtyard.

Cedar Key Womans Club Photographers
Jane Moore welcomes Cedar Key Woman’s Club members and guests to the reception.

Vicki Crumpley (left) accepts a vase and yellow roses as a token of appreciation from Cedar Key Woman’s Club President Katherine Dunlop. As the presentation was made, Past President Jane Moore told listeners that ‘The Cedar Key Woman’s Club had its origins at this hotel (the Island Hotel) in 1947 as the Cedar Key Civic Club. It had 46 members, some Cedar Key natives, and some snowbirds!’ She went on to mention the 52 current members work for the good of the island community.

Cedar Key Womans Club Photographers
Vicki Crumpley stands with her friend and colleague Jane Moore, who served as emcee of the reception. Crumpley inspired everyone in the audience to applaud the great work by Moore this year, again, because there was no place in Moore’s script for self-recognition, and the members of the Cedar Key Woman’s Club are well-mannered enough to not let a moment like this go by the wayside.

     This project heralds the eighth calendar completed by the club.
     Cedar Key Woman's Club Past President Jane Moore served as emcee for the program held in the outdoor courtyard. As it stands, the calendar is projected for sell-out before January.
     Moore thanked the Cedar Key Woman’s Club as a whole for the reception, and for promoting the calendar. She also thanked Andy Bair, and his wife Stanley, bought the hotel in January of 2004, for their hosting of this reception year after year.
     “The calendar is our largest fundraiser,” Moore said.
     The repeated success of this calendar creation and sale is a result of the excellent work of the wonderful photographers who volunteer their work for the club, and it is a result of the many islanders and island business interests who help in the sales of the calendars.
     Cedar Key Woman’s Club Treasurer Becky LaFountain was recognized first for her valiant work in placing the calendars where people would find them to purchase.
     The distribution team of Ann Morgan, Vicki Crumpley, Judy Duvall and served the club in this effort as well, and were honored by the club.

Cedar Key Womans Club Photographers
Recognized for their success in distribution of the calendars are (from left) Ann Morgan, Vicki Crumpley, Judy Duvall and Cedar Key Woman’s Club Treasurer Becky LaFountain, as Jane Moore (at right) serves as emcee of the reception.

Cedar Key Womans Club Photographers
Jane Moore (right) invites CKWC Vice President Linda Kimball (left) and CKWC Vice President Teri Brennan (center) to make some of the presentations to photographers. (Yes, there are two vice presidents in this club.)

Cedar Key Womans Club Photographers
Presented with calendars for their contributions are several of the photographers who contributed to the 2020 calendar. Dan Spinella, who took the cover shot, was unable to attend. Other photographers, many of whom are seen here, contributed to the following months and other parts of the calendar – January – Rita Baker; February – Deanne Watson; March – Mary Ellen Szper; April – Wanda Davis; May – Santa Blouse, Darlene White and Vicki Crumpley; June – Robin Gillies; July – Rory Brennan; August – Rita Baker and Tina Berger; September - Joan Selby; October – Teresa Stevens; November – Ann Kamzelski; December - Ann Kamzelski and Joan Selby; Notes Page – Wanda Davis, Molly Jubitz, Vicki Crumpley and Renee Schneck; Back Page – Katherine Dunlop, Judy Cain, Darlene White, Joan Selby, Steve White, Dan Spinella and Ann Kamzelski.

Cedar Key Womans Club Photographers
Andy Bair of the Island Hotel and Restaurant holds a certificate he earned by allowing the Cedar Key Woman’s Club to hold its reception for photographers in the outdoor courtyard of this renowned establishment.

Cedar Key Womans Club Photographers
(from left) Andy Bair and his wife Stanley Bair of the Island Hotel and Restaurant stand with their friend CKWC Publicity Chair Eileen Senecal (at right).


Rotary inducts
Rosemary McDaniel and
delights in Michael McElroy

Trenton Florida
Seen here are Gilchrist County Rotary Club Membership Chair Todd Gray, Rotarian Michael McElroy, Chef Assistant Luna Mas-Fowler, Rotarian Rosemary McDaniel, and Gilchrist County Rotary Club President -Elect Lowell Chesborough.

Story and Photo
By Holly Creel, Rotarian
Published Nov. 26, 2019 at 10:39 p.m.
     TRENTON --
Laughter abounded at the Gilchrist County Rotary Club meeting on Monday afternoon (Nov. 25), when it was held at the Woman's Club in Trenton.
     Rotarian Michael McElroy provided our program of updating us on his first 90 days in office as our Gilchrist County Tax Collector (GCTC). Michael can certainly entertain with his humor and candor as a speaker while providing an abundance of content and information.
     Rotarians chuckled as Michael infused lightheartedness into his adventure in the application position as Gilchrist County Tax Collector, and his embarking on the many projects he already has initiated to expand tax collection services in the county.
     One of these “works in progress” is a number that can be called (#TAX) from anywhere in Gilchrist that will put the caller straight through to the Tax Collector’s Office. Michael pointed out that on the outskirts of the county the call may go to a neighboring county as the call is routed geographically.
     Michael described the process of obtaining approval to locate an office in Bell to make it easier for residents in the north end of the county to receive their services closer to home. He is exploring options for a new home for the GCTC that will allow space for services such as obtaining a driver's license or a concealed weapon permit. The best part?
     These endeavors will be at no or very little cost to the tax payer and some projects he is working on will actually make money for much needed services! Thank you, Michael, for such an informative and delightful presentation and more importantly, all your hard work for our citizens!
     The club also inducted a new member! Rotarian and Membership Chair Todd Gray inducted Rosemary McDaniel (sponsored by Lowell Chesborough) to the club. Rotarians formed a line and individually welcomed Rosemary to the Rotary family.
     The Gilchrist County Rotary Club now includes 44 members, a record high for membership in the last few years. Welcome, Rosemary!
     Chef Jason was accompanied by his culinary helper Luna Mas-Fowler, who did a beautiful job of setting the table in a Thanksgiving theme. Rotarians are delightful to have Luna, always dressed as a sous chef, join us on the days she is not in school. The luncheon consisted of popcorn chicken, garden salad, roasted okra, tomatoes and corn on a bed of rice, garlic toast and peanut butter cookies.
     The Rotary Club of Gilchrist County wishes everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving!


Farm Share event succeeds
Farm Share Chiefland 2019
Tri-County Community Resources Center Manager Beverly Goodman stands near one of the recipients of food from Farm Share.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Nov. 26, 2019 at 9:09 a.m.
Farm Share -- a drive-through food distribution event – was a resounding success when it happened in Chiefland on Saturday (Nov. 23).

Farm Share Chiefland 2019

Farm Share Chiefland 2019
Mountains of food await distribution Saturday (Nov. 24) to people in Chiefland. (Please remember, in Florida, mountains are not as big as in some other places.)

Farm Share Chiefland 2019
The back part of the Farm Share trailer shows information.

Farm Share Chiefland 2019
Central Florida Electric Cooperative provided a forklift to move pallets of food from a huge semi-trailer this year. Operating the forklift is CFEC’s own Miriam Hiers.

Farm Share Chiefland 2019
Tri-County Community Resources Center Manager Beverly Goodman stands near the emptied Farm Share trailer, moments before food distribution started at 9 a.m. There were people lined up starting as early as 3 a.m. on Saturday (Nov. 23).

Farm Share Chiefland 2019

Farm Share Chiefland 2019
2019 Chiefland Watermelon Queen Shelbi McCall helps gather information from recipients. McCall said this was the first Farm Share event where she has volunteered, and she was very happy to see how this is helping many people enjoy better meals around Thanksgiving time.

Farm Share Chiefland 2019
One part of the three-mile long line of cars and other vehicles is seen here.

     There were 550 cars and other vehicles collecting the food for 1,764 individuals who were served, Tri-County Community Resources Center Manager Beverly Goodman said when she was interviewed late Monday (Nov. 26).
     The Farm Share organization brought in excess of 40,000 pounds of food that was distributed, thanks to the help of more than volunteers, Goodman said.
     She added that this core of volunteers included a team of 10 individuals from Central Florida Electric Cooperative, who partnered with the Tri-County Community Resource Center this year by providing volunteers and a forklift so that Farm Share could bring additional food to the event, Goodman said.
     By not transporting the forklift required to offload the food, there was more available weight and space for the semi tractor-trailer that transported the food.
     Tri-County Community Resource Center acts as a connecting hub between Tri-County Area (Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties’) residents and local resources, TCCRC Manager Goodman said.
     “We are always looking for ways to make resources more accessible,” she added, “and it’s exciting to have opportunities to partner with organizations like the City of Chiefland and Central Florida Electric on events like this one. Farm Share is a great way to deliver large quantities of food to those in need!”
     Through the cooperative venture of Farm Share with the Partnership for Strong Families, the Tri-County Community Resources Center, Central Florida Electric Cooperative, the Florida Department of Health of the Tri-County Area, Levy County Emergency Management, the City of Chiefland, and the Chiefland Police Department, the long, long line of vehicles moved smoothly through the process on Saturday.
     The staging area was Strickland Park, 2340 N.W. Old Fanning Road in Chiefland.
     Tri-County Community Resources Center Manager Goodman brought all of the moving parts together, including the forklift from Central Florida Electric Cooperative to move pallets of food from the huge semi-trailer.
     Operating the forklift was CFEC’s own Miriam Hiers.
     Cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans entered off of U.S. Highway 19 at Northwest 140th Street, creating about a three-mile long line of vehicles.
     This event was a drive-through exercise only. There was no parking. People were reminded to not exit their vehicles.
     This was free food for anyone with a vehicle who drives up to accept it.
     As shown in this July 2019 story, the Catholic Church in Chiefland offers a similar service of low cost food. Click HERE to see it.



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