FRIDAY  APRIL 16  8:11 a.m.  Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties


CF forensics students take home
silver, finish third nationally

CF Forensics winners
Seen here on a computer screen in the top left is Macy Ryan, Edgar Soto and Sayjal Jaimungal, and on the bottom are Eileen Hernandez and Dr. Matthew Maddex. Hernandez has one more competition next week, the Interstate Oral competition, the oldest public speaking competition in the United States. She will be one of two representatives for the state of Florida.

CF Forensics winners
This image captures on the top left Catherine Pullen, Macy Ryan and Sayjal Jaimungal, and on the bottom: Zachary Williams, Edgar Soto (the blank spot 'MM' is for coach Dr. Matthew Maddex).

Story and Photos
By CF Marketing and Public Relations
Published April 15, 2021 at 9:11 a.m.
     OCALA —
College of Central Florida students competed for the first time in three years at the Phi Rho Pi national speech and debate competition from April 5 through April 11, earning seven awards.



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     The Phi Rho Pi competition for community college students featured 44 schools from 10 states (three schools from Florida) and 262 students. The competition features public speaking and interpretation individual events, along with three forms of debate. CF had six students compete in 13 events.
     Eileen Hernandez earned three individual awards: a Bronze in Poetry and two Golds in Communication Analysis and Persuasive speaking. This is the first time CF has earned any individual event awards. Additionally, Hernandez earned fourth place for the Bovero-Taber individual sweeps award, meaning she finished in fourth place among 262 other competitors. The CF team took home a Silver award (or third place) in the Hindman Division. This division includes the most teams with 33 schools entered. Finally, Hernandez was awarded the Warren-Dahlin Fellowship Award for Region 8. Dr. Matthew Maddex also was awarded the Collie-Taylor Fellowship Award in Region 8 for being one of the best coaches in Phi Rho Pi forensics. 
      “I could not be prouder of how this team competed at the Phi Rho Pi competition. In-spite of all of struggles we have faced, our team came together and finished with a Silver award being the third best team in the country,” said Maddex, associate professor of Speech and director of Forensics. “I am in awe of what they have accomplished. We are so excited about our results this year and cannot wait to go in person to Phi Rho Pi next year and build upon what we have done.”
     Hernandez has one more competition next week, the Interstate Oral competition, the oldest public speaking competition in the United States. She will be one of two representatives for the state of Florida.
     In intercollegiate forensics, which includes speech and debate, students compete in team and individual events in a variety of areas including interpretation of literature (prose, poetry), public address (informative and persuasive), limited prep events and several platform speeches. The forensics association enables students to not only improve their speaking skills but also develop a stronger understanding of the communication field as a whole.


Dixie County Chamber
increases scholarships

Dixie County Chamber of Commerce
(from left) Cross City Police Department Chief Stant Bradley, Dixie County Chamber of Commerce President Andrew Rains and CCPD Police Lt. Duane Sullivan provide a photo opportunity after the meeting Thursday in the Dixie County Public Library in Cross City. Lt. Sullivan shared the mandatory minimum Florida standards to become a law enforcement officer, as well as data about the city’s geographical size, the population and how many calls the CCPD responded to last month.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © April 9, 2021 at 8:11 a.m.
The Dixie County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday afternoon (April 8) voted to award four $2,000 scholarships to Dixie County High School graduates this year to further their education.


Dixie County Chamber of Commerce
Cindy Chewning, one of the leaders in the Dixie County Centennial Committee, holds up a flyer to show how the county is celebrating its 100th anniversary of existence this year. There is a parade set for April 23 from the former Dixie County High School going southbound on U.S. Highway 19. Word from the Chamber meeting was the parade will follow the “typical route” for the parades held to celebrate homecoming and Veterans Day. On April 24, at the Chamber Expo and Fly-in at the Cross City Airport, there will be a significant display in the Trail Riders Building, adjoining the airport, where people can see some of the county’s history. Burial of a time capsule is anticipated to happen during the fall season of 2021. Melanie Anderson, one of the leaders of the Dixie County Chamber of Commerce, is seen in the background.

     Applications for the four $2,000 scholarships will be available at DCHS. The Dixie County Education Foundation will decide which students are awarded the scholarships.
     The meeting on Thursday was in a room packed with people as everyone appears to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Health experts, however, have warned not to claim victory too soon. In fact, too, that very day, the Florida Department of Health reported one more death in Dixie County and one more death in Levy County because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
     The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Florida Department of Health advice vaccinated people to continue practicing adherence to wearing facemasks and distancing from people, and not meeting in close spaces. The FBI and the Office of the United States Inspector General, too, are warning that people using fake vaccination cards are breaking the law as well as endangering the lives of others.
     Meanwhile, in Cross City a that the Dixie County Chamber of Commerce luncheon meeting, members and guests enjoyed a homemade meal of linguini in meat sauce, toast, homemade frosted pineapple cake and drinks. The meal and drinks were provided by the City Council members of Cross City.
     Nature Coast State Trail Florida Department of Environmental Protection Trail Manager Kirk Marhefka is a member of that City Council and he brought the lunch. Members and guests of this Chamber of Commerce enjoy a free lunch monthly as other members provide that part of the benefits.
     Chamber President Andrew Rains led the meeting. Melanie Anderson, another leader of some sort in the Chamber, let members know the Chamber has open slots during months for guest speakers.
     The guest speaker this month was Cross City Police Department Lt. Duane Sullivan, who shared lots of facts about the CCPD, including that its office is in Cross City City Hall. He also mentioned the revived K-9 mission, which includes a 9-year-old Dutch Shepherd dog named Atlas and his CCPD handler. The dog looks like a German Shepherd.
     This dog can detect drugs as well as assist in the apprehension of suspected criminals. Lt. Sullivan mentioned that the CCPD is not a 24-hour service yet, but the Dixie County Sheriff’s Office works very well with the city police so that the county seat is served during the CCPD’s off-duty hours.
     President Rains started the meeting on time with a prayer to God and the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America. Fellow leader Anderson helped assure his ability to wrap the meeting up by 1 p.m., by letting people know they could ask Lt. Sullivan or CCPD Chief Stant Bradley more questions after the meeting.
     A Cricket cell phone store manager had asked about domestic abuse in the city. Another Chamber member asked about the many, many speeders that are seen violating maximum speed limits as they zip through Cross City. And another person asked about extremely loud music coming from vehicles and shaking the windows of buildings like the public library in Cross City.


Levy County Commission
takes care of business

Levy County Commission Bronson Florida
(from left) Levy County Commissioner Rock Meeks, the empty chair where Commissioner Lilly Rooks would be sitting (she participated via teleconference), Commission Chairman John Meeks, and commissioners Mike Joyner and Matt Brooks are seen in the first seconds after the meeting was opened with a prayer to God and a pledge to the flag.

Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © April 7, 2021 at 4:11 p.m.
     BRONSON –
The five members of the Levy County Board of County Commissioners took care of business on Tuesday (April 6) in the manner it has since the county was established more than 175 years ag0 on March 10, 1845, soon after Florida joined the United States of America on March 3, 1845.
     In that one and three-quarters centuries, many leaders have guided the taxation of Levy County’s people and the expenditures of those public funds for the good of the residents and visitors to the area. Beyond creating local law, and taxing and spending, this set of elected local leaders also recognizes certain causes and individuals.
     Bringing awareness to making end of life decisions, conserving water, as well as recognizing community service and striving to keep peace were on the agenda for the Levy County Commission that day. The five elected county commissioners also performed actions required to spend tax funds, as well as to cause the proper documentation of those expenditures – because in the United States of America, in Florida and in Levy County, including its various municipalities and communities, all people work within the bounds of the laws established by the people for the people.
     Later, on Tuesday afternoon, those county leaders conferred with leaders from the City of Cedar Key to discuss matters of mutual concern, including the big dock and the small airport in the City of Cedar Key.
     On Tuesday morning in Bronson, with four members present and County Commissioner Lilly Rooks of Cedar Key participating via teleconference, the County Commission honored a doctor who recently retired from dentistry. He has well-served the Williston area of Levy County for decades.
     Leading the public recognition and honoring Dr. Kenneth Schweibert’s decades of service to the people of eastern Levy County was Levy County Commissioner Matt Brooks of Williston.
     Demonstrating the honorable grace and style, which is part of Dr. Schweibert’s essence of being, the retired dentist and volunteer for positive community action took time during the “public comments” part of the agenda to first express his gratitude to some other professionals who serve the residents and visitors in Levy County.

Dr. Kenneth Schweibert of Williston Florida
Dr. Kenneth Schweibert expresses his gratitude for firefighters and medical first responders in Levy County for them saving his property and for being part of the medical team that saved his life.

     Dr. Schweibert shared insight about personal recent personal tragedies and how sets of local civil servants helped him.
     In June of 2020, Schweibert had a fire in his workshop, he said.
     He commended firefighters from Williston Fire Rescue and Levy County Fire Rescue for their expedient response “in saving a building that meant a lot to me.”
     As Schweibert continued, he said that on Jan. 16, he experienced a heart attack. He called 9-1-1 and an ambulance was there within minutes, he said.
     The paramedic-EMT team was professional, thorough and careful, he said. The ambulance took him to Shands in Gainesville as quickly and safely as possible, he said.
     “Because of that service,” he said, “I came out on the good end of this. And it turned out to be a very good thing. I just want to share my appreciation for the medical service and the emergency people in Levy County.”

Levy County Commission Bronson Florida
(from left) Levy County Commissioner Mike Joyner, County Commission Chairman John Meeks, Dr. Kenneth Schweibert, County Commissioner Rock Meeks and County Commissioner Matt Brooks are seen during the plaque presentation. Here, Dr. Schweibert is seen second before shaking hands with Commissioner Brooks. He shook hands with all of the commissioners present. Commissioner Lilly Rooks participated in the meeting via teleconference.

Levy County Commission Bronson Florida
Here, moments after the plaque presentation, the gentlemen agree to a photo opportunity. Seen here (from left) are County Commission Chairman John Meeks, Levy County Commissioner Mike Joyner, Dr. Kenneth Schweibert, County Commissioner Rock Meeks and County Commissioner Matt Brooks

     As he opened his part of that program, Commissioner Brooks mentioned this had been on the agenda at the most recent regular meeting of that board, but since he had to participate via teleconference due to a health issue, all five commissioners agreed to table this event until the April 6 meeting. The regular meetings for this County Commission are twice a month.
     Dr. Schweibert is a staple of the community, Brooks said. In October of 1980, Dr. Schweibert opened his dental practice in Williston, Brooks said.
     Always a craftsman and a “Mr. Fix-it” this now retired dentist remodeled the current office where that profession continues on Main Street in Williston, Brooks said.
     “Not only has he been a fine dentist over the (past 40 years),” Brooks said, “but he has been a great steward to our community.”
     His involvement with the Williston Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) has been instrumental in the improvements to Heritage Park, including the covered pavilion, improved sidewalks and the memorial to veterans. Schweibert has been a cornerstone to the CRA for many years.
     Dr. Schweibert’s past involvement in the Williston Chamber of Commerce, Brooks said, is noteworthy as is his past service in the United States military. Ken and Heidi Schweibert met in 2000 and they run Two Hawk Hammock, too. To learn more about Two Hawk Hammock, click HERE. https://www.twohawkhammock.com/index.php
     Commissioner Brooks said he has no idea how Dr. Schweibert does all that he does to help the area.
     Brooks added that, now after retiring from the dental profession after 40 years, the commissioner wanted to tell him that he is grateful to the retiree as a friend, as his former dentist, and for his military service. Without going into details, Brooks said that it is only by the work of Dr. Schweibert that he can speak today.

     On a 5-0 vote, the Levy County Commission on Tuesday proclaimed April 2021 as National Healthcare Decisions Month. John C. Jordan, community resources coordinator with Haven Hospice, was there to accept the proclamation. The proclamation includes helping people be more aware of the need to make end of life choices before those critical questions need immediate answers.
     On a 5-0 vote, the Levy County Commission on Tuesday proclaimed April 2021 as Water Conservation Month. The proclamation includes helping people be more aware of the need to conserve water.

Levy County Commission Bronson Florida
Eighth Judicial Circuit Trial Court Administrator Paul Silverman asks for improvements to the Levy County Courthouse. In the audience, too, was Levy County Court Judge J.T. Browning.

     The County Commission approved:
     * A request from Eighth Judicial Circuit Trial Court Administrator Paul Silverman for improvements to the Levy County Courthouse. To improve efficiency, provide for the security of courthouse users and staff, and to best utilize the existing space in the Levy County Courthouse, the Chief Judge, Clerk of Court Danny Shipp, and Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum request approval of the following renovations to the Levy County Courthouse:
1. Renovation and expansion of Hearing Room B to a Courtroom.
2. Expansion and improvement of ingress and egress at the public entrance to the Court.
3. Renovation and expansion of the Court Security area adjoining the public entrance.
4. Renovation of Clerk’s former finance office to create Sheriff Department offices.
5. Renovation of the Clerk’s former office space on the second floor to create space for
mediations, depositions, assistance for self-represented litigants, court reporting, Magistrate, and attorney-client conferences.
     This project would be funded by the Courthouse Improvement Grant-in-Aid funds received by Levy County between 2004 and 2008, which is available for the type of renovation projects listed above. The fund has a current balance of $1,3 million.
     * A request from Mike West of the LCSO for federal grant funds allocated to improve the 9-1-1 system to be used for the purpose for which they are intended. This approval is essentially a bureaucratic necessity.
     * A request from Levy County Emergency Management Director John MacDonald for extension of declarations of the state of emergency in Florida as it relates to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Every seven days is ratification of the extension for this state of emergency is required.
     * A request from RESTORE Act Administrator Trish Whitehead and the County Commission Finance Department, in accordance with the budget policy adopted by the County Commission, to move RESTORE Act funds in the amount of $300,000 as set forth in the submitted budget amendment. These funds have been previously approved and allocated to the Nature Coast Biological Station UF/IFAS Cedar Key Aquarium project in the City of Cedar Key.
     * The award of a $87,675 grant to purchase a 14-seat, two wheelchair capable vehicle for Levy County Transit. This is 100 percent paid for by a grant under the direction of the Florida Department of Transportation’s Commission for Transportation Disadvantaged. LCT Director Connie Conley made the request for approval to accept the grant.


Tyler Vorhees appointed
to Bronson Town Council

Bronson Town Council
The winning candidate’s name is drawn from a hat.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © April 5, 2021 at 11:11 p.m.
     BRONSON –
Tyler Vorhees, 21, a member of the Bronson High School Class of 2017 was appointed to the Bronson Town Council during the regular meeting Monday night (April 5).

Bronson Florida Town Council
Tyler Vorhees sits in the audience as a resident of Bronson. In a couple of weeks, he will be among the five town leaders on the Town Council after he takes the oath of office.

     Voorhees is scheduled to take the oath of office at the April 19 meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the Dogan Cobb Municipal Building.
     Before that regular meeting of April 19, there is going to be a public hearing regarding proposed increases in utility rates. That meeting starts at 6 p.m.
     Voorhees was selected after the sitting members of the Bronson Town Council -- Mayor Beatrice Roberts, Vice Mayor Jason Hunt and councilmen Aaron Edmondson and Robert Partin adopted a resolution by a 4-0 vote to fill the vacant seat created when Berlon Weeks is believed to have resigned on Sept. 15.
     That matter as to whether Weeks resigned is to be decided in federal civil court. Weeks is contending that he did not resign, but a majority of the Town Council decided he resigned.
     Meanwhile, Vorhees’ name was picked from a hat. The other contenders whose names were also in that hat for random selection as the person to be appointed are Jordan Jabbar, Jerry Mongo, Johnette Ross and Julie Stainaker.
     Vorhees told HardisonInk.com that he intends to serve as a member of the Bronson Town Council, and then to run for office in the Sept. 7 municipal election.
     Mayor Roberts said qualifying for that election starts on July 25 and runs for five days.
     It is not only the Weeks-Vorhees seat that is up for election, Roberts said. The two other candidates whose seats are to be filled after voters make their choices are those held by Mayor Roberts and by Councilman Partin.
     In his letter to the Town Council expressing his interest in being chosen, Vorhees noted he has lived in Bronson for his whole life, and he has opened a plant nursery business.
     He will be the youngest member of Bronson Town Council, and he noted this is beneficial to Bronson because he provides the perspective of the younger members of this community.
     In other action, the four members of Town Council heard Fire Chief Dennis Russell explain that he will not know until the April 12 meeting of the Bronson Fire Rescue Department if he will have the manpower to set off fireworks for the Fourth of July. Chief Russell said he needs a certain number of volunteers to safely put on the fireworks show.
     Public Works Director Curtis Stacey told the Town Council, too, that he may not have the needed employees available on the Fourth of July for the support services beyond the actual lighting of fireworks.
     The decision of whether there will be a public fireworks show in Bronson on the Fourth of July was put on the April 19 agenda for more discussion and possible action.
     Among the informational items of the evening, which required no vote by the Town Council, involves a future Internet service provider.
     Moufid Methenni of LaZerArt Inc., doing business as WvW, presented a relatively short explanation of his plan to offer better Internet service. By using fiberoptic cable that exists from AT&T in Bronson, Methenni plans to create a network for users to enjoy faster, reliable Internet service.

Bronson Florida Town Council
Moufid Methenni tells people about his business plan to offer better Internet service in Bronson.

Bronson Florida Town Council
This diagram shows how Moufid Methenni’s plan will give many people the option to have great Internet service for a relatively low price.

     In his presentation, he mentioned his plan calls for people to not have to pay more than $55 a month for this vastly improved service.
     In a different informational part of the meeting, Town Manager Susan “Sue” Beaudet told the town leaders that she anticipates the federal government to provide a check for $481,000 for the municipality to use before Dec. 31, 2024.
     This money is from President Joe Biden’s action taken March 31 to help cities across America to overcome losses experienced by those local governments from the global COVID-19 pandemic.
     Beaudet said she has been speaking with staff members at the Florida League of Cities for more information about where the money can be used.
     In a matter where the Town Council voted 4-0, it chose to ask the Levy County Board of County Commissioners to send the town a proposed lease agreement to use the gymnasium that used to serve the old Bronson High School.
     Vice Mayor Hunt and Councilman Edmondson said they do not want a short-term lease, though.

Bronson Florida Town Council
People are jam-packed into the Dogan Cobb Municipal Building Monday night (April 5) for a public hearing regarding the potential to allow the development of a Family Dollar Tree Store, which would replace an old house on Hawthorne Avenue (U.S. Alt. 27) near Picnic Street and Court Street. Many of these individuals expressed their opinion against the construction of a retail outlet on land currently occupied by an old house on U.S. Alt. 27.

     Before the regular Town Council meeting, the four sitting members heard from the public during a public hearing.
     Jamey Flegal is a developer from Chattanooga, Tennessee, who was sent by the corporate leaders of Family Dollar Tree Store.
     During that hearing, some people complained about parking, traffic, and the alleged level of quality of products at the store. One woman said she sees the setup as putting dumpsters facing the Levy County Courthouse.
     The structure is proposed for building on the old Francis Akins residential property that is across from the courthouse and Levy County Supervisor of Elections Office, and which also fronts Hawthorne Avenue (U.S. Alt. 27). Traffic would enter the parking lot from Court Street and from Picnic Street.
     The first problem is that the property is zoned residential. The other problem is the developer wants a few fewer parking spaces than the current town ordinances require.
     Councilman Edmondson was the most vocal member in favor of helping the development come to fruition.
     Edmondson said the town invested millions of dollars to improve the wastewater collection system along U.S. Alt. 27. That investment of money has not shown a good return, yet, Edmondson said.
     He sees the retail outlet as providing jobs as well as being an asset for town, replacing an old house that is on a major throughfare with a business.
     The other three Town Council members were silent on the matter, saying there will be more public hearings if the property is approved to convert in zoning from residential to commercial.


Fir tussock moths appear locally
Fir Tussock Moth Caterpillar photo by UF IFAS via Florida Forest Service  HardisonInk.com
Fir tussock moth (Orgyia detrita) caterpillar.

Photograph by Donald W. Hall, University of Florida, professor emeritus, Entomology and Nematology Department, UF/IFAS Extension

By Ludie Bond, Wildfire Mitigation Specialist/Public Information Officer
Waccasassa Forestry Center, Florida Forest Service,
A division of the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services
Published March 31, 2021 at 8:11 a.m.
There has been an increase in recent sightings of the fir tussock moth in North Central Florida.
     Jeffrey Eickwort, state entomologist with the Florida Forest Service, and Greg Barton, senior forester for Marion County with the Florida Forest Service, provideD the following information to answer some questions that have been received regarding this insect.
     There are a variety of insects that seem to rotate every year as the most prominent spring tree pest in Florida.
     Already in mid-March, questions and observations have come in from residents in Central Florida regarding what appears to be an abundance of fir tussock moth caterpillars.
     It is likely this will occur in more northern counties in the coming weeks. As is typical in Florida, the primary species is the fir tussock moth (Orgyia detrita), which feeds mainly on the young spring leaves of live oak trees.

Answers to common questions
     ● Will they kill my tree? Answer: No. Tussock moths are only eating foliage, and do not otherwise impact the twigs or stems. Healthy trees generally tolerate the leaf-loss and quickly replace the lost leaves. There are no long-term health effects, and the caterpillar population will eventually be controlled by natural enemies.
     ● Do they sting? Answer: Yes, the caterpillars do have urticating (stinging) hairs, but the effect is mild compared to some other “stinging” caterpillars, and not medically significant. Some sensitive individuals may have a more noticeable reaction, but basic first aid (mild soap and water, and topical treatments) should be sufficient for most people.
     ● What should I spray to kill them? Answer: Generally nothing. The caterpillars are usually noticed when they are finished feeding and in their “wandering” phase, looking for a place to spin a cocoon. That is too late for insecticides to be effective since they have become so spread out. The caterpillars will soon be gone until next year.
     For more information about tussock moths, please CLICK HERE to see a publication from the University of Florida. 
     The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than one million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests.
     The Florida Forest Service also is responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres of property.


Mayor Drinda Merritt honored
Inglis Mayor Drinda Merritt
(from left) County Commissioner Lilly Rooks and Commission Chairman John Meeks look on as County Commissioner Mike Joyner presents Inglis Mayor Drinda Merritt with a certificate of appreciation. At the left, County Commissioner Rock Meeks also looks on. County Commissioner Matt Brooks was able to hear and speak via telephone for the meeting. Members of the public also could dial in to listen to the County Commission meeting, although for the past year this service has been less successful than the Williston City Council, which broadcasts its meeting live via YouTube, as well as offering interactions by listeners and viewers via Zoom, and other technology.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © March 17, 2021 at 2:11 p.m.
The five members of the Levy County Board of County Commissioners honored outgoing Inglis Mayor Drinda Merritt Tuesday (March 16) at the regular twice-monthly County Commission meeting.


Inglis Mayor Drinda Merritt
Posing for photos after the presentation of the framed Certificate of Appreciation are (from left) County Commissioner Lilly Rooks, Commission Chairman John Meeks, County Commissioner Mike Joyner, Inglis Mayor Drinda Merritt and County Commissioner Rock Meeks.

     Mayor Merritt and her husband are moving to Alabama to be with their family.
     Four County Commission members were present at the Levy County Government Annex’s meeting room, which is the former Bronson High School Auditorium. Chairman John Meeks and commissioners Mike Joyner, Rock Meeks and Lilly Rooks were in the building. County Commissioner Matt Brooks attended the meeting, commented and voted via telephone.
     Mayor Merritt has served 12 years now as the executive leader of Inglis government, striving to help the town grow and prosper, as well as to improve the quality of life enjoyed there by residents and visitors.
     Chairman John Meeks was the first to say how he is heartbroken after learning about Merritt’s choice to not seek reelection as well as to move out of the area. Each county leader expressed his or her thoughts about Mayor Merritt.
     “She’s done a fantastic job for the people of Inglis,” Chairman Meeks said.
     Meeks shared with listeners that he knew she went to Tallahassee for days and weeks at a time, where she succeeded in helping the Florida Legislature know about the needs of Inglis, and she got results.
     “There’s a lot of folks who go to Tallahassee and walk around,” Chairman Meeks said, “and they don’t get much done. But Mayor Merritt delivered the bacon. She brought thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands of dollars back to the city of Inglis.”
     Among the progress she brought, he said, was the sewer needs study that has been conducted for Inglis.
     Chairman Meeks said the people will miss Merritt, and that he is thankful for her service to the public.
     County Commissioner Joyner said in all his years as the county commissioner whose district includes the city of Inglis, he has seen the level of sincerity that Mayor Merritt took for her duties to be inspirational for him. Her stick-to-itiveness has motivated him to keep going, Joyner said of Merritt.
     Joyner added that she sees good in everything, and he finds this to be something that not everyone can do.
     “I’d ask you ‘How do you see the good in everything?’,” Joyner said, “and you’d just smile and say, ‘It’s there.’”
     He added that he feels she has gone beyond what anyone could expect of her to do in the past 12 years, adding that he loves and respects her for who she is.
     Via telephone, Commissioner Brooks said he thanks Mayor Merritt from the bottom of his heart for always lending him her ear. Brooks said Merritt’s work on legislative committees and her work has helped Levy County as well as Inglis. Her work with the Florida League of Cities is noteworthy as well, Brooks said.
     Mayor Merritt was the Home Rule Hero of 2017, in regard to the Florida League of Cities, Commissioner Brooks said, but from his perspective she has been the Home Rule Hero every year.
     Brooks said he will miss her, and that he is thankful for everything Merritt has done for the people of Inglis, Levy County and for Florida.
     Commissioner Rooks was the first to mention a relatively amazing feat. Merritt with former Yankeetown Mayor Debra Weiss, and others, helped bring the two municipalities together for the betterment of everyone who lives or visits that part of southern Levy County.
     Like the four County Commission members speaking before him, Commissioner Meeks said he is thankful to Merritt for the countless hours she dedicated to help people.
     Mayor Merritt was also instrumental in the South Levy Area Market as well as the initiation of a possible white-water rafting attraction in southern Levy County.


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