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Williston City Council
report during meeting
Sitting at the front of the Williston City Council Meeting Room in Williston City Hall on Tuesday night (Feb. 18) are (from left) Vice President Marguerite Robinson, Councilman Justin Head, Mayor Jerry Robinson, President Nancy Wininger, Councilman Charles Goodman, Councilman Elihu Ross, City Manager Scott Lippmann, City Attorney Fred Koberlein and City Clerk Latricia Wright.
Story and Photo
By Blaine M. Vitallo
HardisonInk.com Correspondent © Feb. 19, 2020 at 10:10 a.m.
WILLISTON – Some members of the Williston City Council alternated between humor and frustration while addressing a range of new and old projects during the regular twice-monthly City Council meeting on Tuesday night (Feb. 18).
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For old business, several updates were discussed.
City Manager Scott Lippmann told the municipal elected leaders some of the details regarding an aerobatics competition scheduled to be in the sky over Williston Municipal Airport on March 26 through 28; there is an Epperson family reunion set for July; and the project to repaint lines on Main Street is going well. Lippmann forecast this improvement will be completed within about three weeks.
Dr. Ken Schwiebert, chairman of the Williston Community Redevelopment Council took the podium to share his concerns about the CRA’s projects in linear park and Block 12. Dr. Schwiebert, a well-established local dentist, expressed concerns over the negativity he has encountered regarding the Block 12 project.
The Block 12 project would see a row of shops on Main Street being rebuilt to improve the appearance of the city. The whole community needs to be involved for the project to be completed, Schwiebert said.
In response, City Council President Nancy Wininger said she had heard nothing but positive comments about the project. Wininger added that it would beneficial if “anyone with a negative comment would also have a solution.”
Wininger recognized the years of work that Schwiebert and the City Council have put into this project, and Councilman Charles Goodman thanked Schwiebert for his efforts.
The next presenter was Debra Jones of the Planning and Zoning Committee, who explained the committee’s intention to revise their historical preservation plan to include any houses built in or before the 1940s.
Jones, who unopposed will soon take a seat on Williston City Council again, said the committee plans to put signs in front of these buildings. This plan, Jones said, would require everyone to buy-in. Jones said this matter is slated for more discussion at a Planning and Zoning meeting to be held on Feb. 25.
President Wininger addressed Manager Lippmann regarding the old, dilapidated structure that was once a Winn Dixie store on State Road 121, asking if there had been any developments on the plans made for the abandoned store complex.
City Council may need to enforce a lean on the property to ensure that action is taken by the current owners, Lippmann said. This structure is an unsightly “liability” and a “blight” on the city, Lippmann added.
Presenting on the final item of old business, the purchasing a new wheel-loader, was Utility Director C.J. Zimoski, who explained his plan to replace the current 30-year-old wheel-loader with a new one. Zimoski presented his choice of a $136,000 John Deere loader that he felt presents the best value.
The Council expressed its concerns over the high price for the loader, with President Wininger claiming that she was uncomfortable with the initial proposed price of $130,000, and that she was even less comfortable with the proposal now. She asked if the purchase could be delayed until next year, but Director Zimoski said that the same loader could be 3 percent to 5 percent more expensive next year.
After some discussion about the productivity increase offered by a new loader and the potential expenses of maintaining the current loader, Councilman Goodman made a motion for the Utility Department to purchase the loader. The motion was seconded and met with no dissenting votes.
Before the Council moved on to new business, Mayor Jerry Robinson took a moment to read aloud a statement he had prepared, which appeared to cause a tense reaction in the council and the audience. In his statement, Mayor Robinson alleged that, following a CRA meeting where he had respectfully voiced concerns not only as mayor but also as a citizen, rude comments about him were made openly in front of city department directors and employees. These alleged comments were made not during the meeting but later, Robinson said.
Mayor Robinson called out City Planner Gorman and City Manager Lippmann, saying that they that they had questioned his authority as mayor. Robinson considered this to be a “personal attack” against him.
Robinson went said he wants the Council to know that he took exception to these remarks, which in his opinion nobody has any business making in front of city employees.
The mayor’s statement was met with some commentary from City Planner Gorman, who was sitting in the audience.
Before the issue could be discussed further, Councilman Goodman voiced a concern of his own regarding public bathrooms in Williston parks. Goodman had noticed incidents of vandalism in the John Henry Park bathroom. He asked Utility Director Zimoski how often the bathrooms were checked.
Bathrooms are checked every morning, Zimoski said, and there have been several incidents of vandalism in the Cornelius Williams Park bathroom, where a sink had been broken off of the wall, toilets had been clogged, and doors had been broken. Vandals took it to the level of arson, Zimoski indicated, when someone had lit paper to start a fire in the bathroom garbage can.
Councilman Goodman said he plans to seek the closure of all public bathrooms in Williston parks if these acts of vandalism and destruction continue, in order to prevent what he referred to as a “septic situation.” He asked Manager Lippmann if it would be possible to recruit uniformed volunteer park monitors to keep an eye on the park bathrooms.
Manager Lippmann said it would be possible to recruit park monitors. The city manager expressed his opinion that the problems with Cornelius Williams Park stem from the park sitting on unincorporated Levy County land that is in relatively close proximity to Marion County.
Starting off the new business, Executive Director of Unity Family Community Center Joyce Wilson gave a brief presentation about the services this organization provides for the City of Williston, Levy County, and the State of Florida.
Unity Family Community Center has not advertised much, she said, but this year may show an increase in that regard. The services Unity Family Community Center provides include teen pregnancy prevention programs, mentoring services, and afterschool sites in Williston and Bronson. Wilson said Unity Family Community Center pans to soon add vocational rehabilitation for youths aged 14 to 24 years old, who have IEP or 504 plans.
An IEP is for children who qualify for special education services.
As with an IEP, a 504 plan is provided at no cost to families. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal special education law for children with disabilities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal civil rights law to stop discrimination against people with disabilities.
Following Wilson’s presentation, Mayor Robinson presented the certificates to members of the Planning and Zoning Board.
The final item of new business was a proposed update to the self-service gas pumps at Williston Municipal Airport. Airport Manager Benton Stegall told City Council members that the current self-service pump system was outdated, and although the system is still functional it often serves as a “bottleneck” to what they can do.
Manager Stegall said he is still waiting on quotes from two more installation companies that could install the new system, and Councilman Goodman encouraged the Council to consider having the installation company pay for the new system to minimize liabilities.
President Wininger closed the meeting with a discussion of the 2020 United States Census, stressing how important it was that the population be correctly counted.
Historic pencil company
display unveiled in Cedar Key
A copy of an 1876 Eagle Pencil poster shows the company earned the highest award from the United State Centennial Commission.
Story and Photos
By C.L. Watson, HardisonInk.com Correspondent
© Feb. 13, 2020 at 6:10 a.m.
CEDAR KEY -- The Cedar Key Historical Society and Museum held a member-only unveiling of the Eagle Pencil Co. display on Feb. 7.
These flat pencils with string and tassel were no doubt used for bookmarks and writing as noticeably imprinted with the word bookmark.
The Eagle Pencil factory exhibit includes pencils dating back to late 1800s.
It includes pencils, pamphlets and various Eagle memorabilia with some items dating back to 1858. The exhibit is from the New York Eagle Pencil Museum. This exhibit was donated by Barnadette Christian, whose family worked for the New York Eagle Pencil Co. for generations.
The Eagle Pencil Co. established a branch factory in 1856 near the water’s edge in Cedar Key where the Faraway Inn is currently located. It was once one of the world’s leading manufacturer and supplier of pencils. Eagle also established a large cedar mill in Cedar Key employing 125 workers while harvesting 130 cedar logs per day.
During the 1870s, it is estimated 20 million pencils were being consumed annually. In 1876 the United State Centennial Commission gave the southern mill the Highest Award in quality presented. The mill continued to successfully operate until the hurricane of 1896 destroyed the facilities. Eagle decided it was no longer economically feasible to rebuild as the cedar supply was exhausted.
“We are excited to announce that we have started a Junior Ambassador Club with Cedar Key students,” Director of the Cedar Key Historical Society and Museum Anna Hodges said. “Students will be involved with many aspects of the Historical Society including helping prepare exhibits such as our new pencil exhibit. Students will earn community service hours to use toward scholarships, as well as gain valuable skills working with the community they know and love. The exhibit being unveiled was set up by Michael Collins, Lucas Zeigler and Gwen Zeigler.”
Stars Gala shows
Dr. Nicole Thornton earns Levy County Teacher of the Year title and receives plaque from the Levy County Schools Foundation at the 2020 Stars Gala. She is the guidance counselor at Bronson Middle High School.
Story and Photos
By C.L. Watson
HardisonInk.com correspondent © Feb. 11, 2020 at 11:10 a.m.
BRONSON – Every seat at the 2020 Levy County Stars Gala was sold and there were 262 people seated, according to Levy County Schools Foundation Executive Director Annie Whitehurst.
Approximately 30 student volunteers from all four of Levy County’s high schools. More than $31,000 was donated by attendees for their seats, Whitehurst said.
Silent auction baskets (donated by the schools) brought in another $3,200. A live auction for a treehouse vacation package brought in another $6,325, Whitehurst said.
Now known as the Stars Gala, this annual fundraiser conducted by the Levy County Schools Foundation previously was named The Superintendent’s Gala.
Former Levy County Superintendent of Schools Robert “Bob” Hastings was in office when it was a group decision by Hastings and the Levy County Schools Foundation Board of Directors at the time to change the name from "Superintendent's Gala" to "STARS Gala,” Whitehurst said.
This put the focus on what the evening always has been about - the Stars of Levy County Education, Whitehurst said. STARS is not an acronym, but a symbol of what the Gala always celebrated and recognized - the teachers, staff, volunteers, alumni and students in Levy County who shine brightly, Whitehurst said. Added to this universal theme of brightly shining stars are the business interests, organizations and the families who support them, Whitehurst added.
“The Gala has always highlighted our student ‘stars’ through showcasing their talent on stage as the evening's entertainment, as well as by using students as the wait staff for the event,” Whitehurst said. “Teachers, staff and volunteers who are Levy County ‘Stars’ are recognized during the District Teacher of the Year, District School Related Employee and District Volunteer of the Year winners are introduced and recognized. There are also Alumni stars recognized each year through our Alumni of the Year award.”
The Levy County Schools Foundation is committed to supporting public education in Levy County by developing resources to encourage educational innovation, promote and recognize excellence and address the needs of all students, faculty, and staff, as noted on its website. Members of the foundation serve collaboratively with business and community members as an independent 501(c)3 organization.
Amanda and Jason Hunt won the Asheville Treehouse Package at the LCSF 2020 Stars Gala. The package included two nights in a treehouse, a Biltmore gift card and $750 cash.
Levy County School Board Member Chris Cowart (center) presents the Alumnus of the Year award to siblings William Schossler and Linda Durrance at the 2020 Stars Gala.
(from left) Robert and Julie Gironda, Dennis and Nicole Gill, Kathy and Jerry Lawrence, and Debbie Andrews enjoy conversation during the 2020 Stars Gala presented by Levy County Schools Foundation.
Cedar Key senior Tia Wein earned community service hours for working at the gala.
Sarah Fries from Chiefland Elementary School takes a moment to pose with daughter Rebecca Fries who won Teacher of the Year for Bronson Elementary School. Rebecca Fries teaches first grade at BES.
Levy County Schools Foundation Board of Directors 2019-2020 pose together prior to guests' arrival at the 2020 Stars Gala.
The Levy County Schools Foundation hosted the 2020 Stars Gala at Bronson Middle High School on Saturday (Feb. 8). The program started off with a Prelude by the Bronson Middle High School Color Guard. Followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner. Throughout the evening, a skit “Murder & A Man From the ‘20s” entertained the crowd with a handful of scenes.
All guests received a numbered entry ticket that was used for door prizes donated by various businesses and individuals. These prizes included cash, gift cards, vendor services and baskets of promotional goods.
Attendees also had the opportunity to bid on silent auction bundles of items and vacation packages. Auctioneer Daniel Jerrels had the job of entertaining the crowd during a live auction for two nights in an Ashville Treehouse, Biltmore gift card and $750 cash.
Ten individuals had the opportunity to bid on a number on the spinning wheel in a gamble for a package deal.
A scrumptious meal of chicken breast with lemon zest and caper sauce, bacon-wrapped asparagus and garlic mashed potato poof along with tea and coffee were served. In addition to the meal, an appetizer and dessert table offered guests a full spectrum of treats.
The main objective of the 2020 Stars Gala was to honor teachers, staff, volunteers and alumnus of the year all while raising funds for student scholarships and programs.
Parade and basketball game
Preparing for a parade Friday morning and then for a basketball game Friday evening are Creekside Christian School Otters (from left) cheerleader Shelby Scherer, cheerleader Harley Meeks, Sponsor Dana Mathews and cheerleader Ariana Maldonado.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 7, 2020 at 7:10 p.m.
OTTER CREEK -- Students, teachers, staff, administrators, family members, friends and fans of Creekside Christian School were among the many people who enjoyed being in the homecoming parade or watching it on Friday morning (Feb. 7).
Pulled from pre-parade duties for a photo opportunity are (from left) Creekside Christian School Principal Tim Campbell (who is also pastor of Otter Creek Baptist Church), his wife Dawn Campbell and Creekside Christian School Secretary Nissa Jaquess.
Seen here are (from left) Forest Ranger Jason Byrd, levy County Commissioner Mike Joyner, Creekside Christian School Principal Tim Campbell and Forest Ranger Patrick Hathcox. (Just so everyone knows, the rangers standing next to the commissioner are not them endorsing him for reelection. Given that there are some people who like to cause hate, friction and inconvenience for state workers, it is noted here that these guys are all just friends and they agreed to a photo opportunity when asked before the parade.)
Ethan Owens (King Beatus) sits in his pickup truck, crown and all, before the start of the homecoming parade. Owens is the only male senior in the Creekside Christian School Class of 2020.
Thirteen of the 15 members of the JV and varsity cheerleading squads of Creekside Christian School are seen just before the parade starts. Go Otters! The 2019-2020 JV Cheerleaders are Chelsea Beasley, Jelianys DeJesus, Raegan Harris, Joliza Martinez, Sharon Quigley, Natalie Sauder, Ella Williams and Emma Williams. The varsity cheerleaders are Taryn Cannon, Alyssa Durden, Ariana Maldonado, Jewlia Mathews, Lauren Mathews, Harley Meeks and Shelby Scherer.
Nox Hobby sits on the horse named Pistol Pete, before the parade starts.
The four female members of the Senior Homecoming Court are Morissa Edwards, Nikki Willingham, Shelby Hunt and Juliet Hunt, and they are seen here riding in the parade.
Sammy Yearty of Gulf Hammock drives a 1954 John Deere Model 60 tractor in the parade
Nox Hobby rides the horse Pistol Pete in the Creekside Christian School 2020 Homecoming Parade.
As is the case for this homecoming, there was a basketball game, and it was at the gymnasium of the former Bronson High School Friday evening.
Participating as members of the Creekside Christian School Otters Basketball Team were Joseph Arnold (#4), tenth grade; Matthew Arnold (#23), eighth grade; Everett Byrd (#33), seventh grade; Lawson Byrd (#32), ninth grade; Coleman Campbell (#14), ninth grade; Seth Faircloth (#40), tenth grade; Brighton Meeks (#11), ninth grade; Bradley Roberts (#30), ninth grade; Brandon Watson (#1), eighth grade; and Ethan Watson (#00), eleventh grade.
Creekside Christian School was founded by Pastor Bill Keith at Otter Creek Baptist Church in the fall of 2001 in the Town of Otter Creek, in Levy County. Principal Ginny Yearty Keith led the school for many years.
Pastor Tim Campbell of Otter Creek Baptist Church accepted the duties as principal of Creekside Christian School in July of 2019. Still in his first year as principal, Pastor Campbell appears to be enjoying continuing traditions as well as introducing new curriculum at the school.
Creekside Christian School has 70 students who learn from 14 teachers. This school is for children in kindergarten through twelfth grade. It follows the curriculum of Accelerated Christian Education.
Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) is an American company, which produces the ACE school curriculum structured around a literal interpretation of the Bible. It teaches other academic subjects from a Protestant fundamentalist or conservative Evangelical standpoint. Founded in 1970 by Donald and Esther Howard, ACE's website states it is used in over 6,000 schools in 145 countries.
This year, Principal Campbell said, Creekside Christian School has started construction technology class in partnership with The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), which is a not-for-profit 501c education foundation for professional craft certification, formed in 1996, and based in Alachua.
Academics and sports aside, the parade was once again a joyful experience for people in the Town of Otter Creek. The procession started at the school, went out to State Road 24 and then circled back to the school along about a two-mile stretch.
Near the front of the procession was an Otter Creek Fire-Rescue firefighting vehicle driven by Otter Creek Vice Mayor Laura Mott and Town Clerk Mary DeGroot. Following that vehicle was a fire engine from Chiefland Fire Rescue, driven by CFR Chaplain Tom Keisler.
Three forest rangers from the Florida Division of Forestry Patrick Hathcox, Jason Byrd and Sean Hick were representing that state agency with big vehicles.
Levy County Commissioner Mike Joyner drove a golf cart with his sign noting his plan to seek reelection this year.
There were several vehicles and trailers with children involved with other various aspects of the school, too.
One trailer carried almost the full Senior Class. That small platform on wheels included seniors Morissa Edwards, who has attended Creekside for seven years; Nikki Willingham, who has attended Creekside for five years; and Shelby Hunt and Juliet Hunt, who both have attended Creekside for three years.
Ethan Owens, a senior who has attended Creekside for two years, drove a red pickup truck.
All five seniors were part of the senior court for homecoming. This year, there was no selection for queen.
As for the young man in the senior class, he is known as “King Beatus.” Owens said he accepted the nickname of “Beatus” from his having diabetes. He embraces the nickname. Owens plans to continue his education by studying criminology, he said. He earned a scholarship through his skill in the sport of archery.
Sammy Yearty of Gulf Hammock drove a 1954 John Deere Model 60 tractor in the parade. Another standout unit in the parade this year was Nox Hobby, who was riding the horse named Pistol Pete.
A deputy with the Levy County Sheriff’s Office drove a cruiser at the very front of the parade to help assure safety. Several of the float units threw candy – including Twixt, Three Musketeers, Laffy Taffy, Sweet Tarts, and various kinds of lollipops.
The parade was a big hit once again in the friendly little Town of Otter Creek. This year, Creekside Christian School Secretary Eunissa “Nissa” Jaquess organized the parade.
Arts And Crafts Winners
Cedar Key Woman’s Club members celebrate the winners of the recent Arts and Crafts Show. Pictured here are (back row, from left) Pat Stephens, Donna Thalacker, Rosemary Danesi, Ann Morgan, Joan Selby, Beth Wright, Christine Black, and Judy Duvall, and (front row, from left) Donna Bushnell, Judge Nancy Hanson and Esta Johnston. Not pictured are Winner Tish High and Judge Bunny Hand. Thirty-seven arts or craft projects won a first place ribbon at the local level and will advance to the District #5 Greater Federation of Woman’s Clubs show in Gainesville at the end of February.
Published Feb. 4, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.
Photo and Information Provided By Eileen Senecal
seeks Levy County sites;
Training is March 19
By Natalie Warren
Food and Nutrition Services Specialist
School Board of Levy County
Published Jan. 30, 2020 at 7:09 p.m.
BRONSON -- Summer BreakSpot is part of the national Summer Food Service Program, a federally-funded program operated by the United States Department of Agriculture and administered in Florida by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Eligible sites, including nonprofit organizations, schools, churches, libraries, parks, camps, local governments and more, are invited to serve nutritious meals free to all children under the age of 18 during the summer months.
“During the school year, many children rely on a nutritious breakfast and lunch through the National School Lunch Program, and they are at risk of suffering from hunger during the summer break,” said former Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “The Summer BreakSpot program bridges the nutrition gap by serving free meals to children under the age of 18 so they can return to school healthy, happy and ready to learn.”
For more information about the Florida Summer BreakSpot program, visit https://www.summerbreakspot.org/.
The School Board of Levy County will be offering FREE breakfast and lunch to eligible sites serving children under the age of 18, Monday through Thursday, starting June 1 and ending July 31.
Site locations and times may vary depending on participation. To find a site near you, please visit http://summerbreakspot.freshfromflorida.com/.
If you are interested in hosting a program site, the School Board of Levy County Food & Nutrition Services department will be accepting applications starting March 1. Applications may be obtained by calling 352-486-5244, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Meals will be available for pick-up from local elementary schools.
Supervisors from approved eligible program sites are required to attend a two-hour training course offered on Thursday, March 19, from 2 p.m. - 4 p.m., in the District board room located at 480 Marshburn Drive, in Bronson.
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