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Auction Coverage (with video)
Baby Manatee Seen In State Park
Jane and Rodger Nogaki saw a mother manatee and a newborn calf on Wednesday afternoon (March 22) in the public swimming area of Fanning Springs State Park.
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The couple said they believe this baby manatee might have been born today. In the photo above, the manatee is at the lower left and swimmers are at the right. Manatees in Florida are protected by both state and federal law. They are protected by two federal laws: The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Manatees are also protected by the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978.
People are not supposed to touch or feed manatees in the wild. If you see manatees while swimming, snorkeling, diving, or boating, please follow these suggestions. Look, but don’t touch. Avoid excess noise and splashing. Practice passive observation and observe manatees from above water and at a distance. Resist the urge to feed manatees or give them water. Do not enter designated manatee sanctuaries for any reason. Manatee calves are dependent on their mothers for up to two years. Not only do mothers feed their calves, but they also teach them essential survival skills. Calves that are separated from their mothers may not be reunited. For example, if a mother swims away while a calf is being petted, the calf may not find its way back to her and could ultimately die without her.
Published March 22, 2017 at 8:37 p.m. on the Home Page of HardisonInk.com
Photos by Jane and Rodger Nogaki
Grand Champion Swine
at Suwannee River Fair
Swine Show Grand Champion Kendal Bussard shows off Porkahontas her winning pig. Shown from the left is the breeder, Stephen Cordle (kneeling), Frank Bussard, Kendal Bussard, Judge Paul Wigley and Becky Bussard.
Story and Photos
By Terry Witt, Senior Reporter © March 22, 2017 at 3:07 p.m.
FANNING SPRINGS -- A 280-pound hog named Porkahontas, exhibited by Dixie County eighth grader Kendal Bussard, won grand champion in the Suwannee River Fair Monday.
Anna Ellison of the Dixie County Wranglers 4-H Club won reserve champion with her 260-pound hog.
The two pigs were picked from among 233 swine shown at the Suwannee River Fair show barn in Fanning Springs. The competition lasted four and one-half hours.
Swine Show Reserve Champion Anna Ellison (center) is seen here with her winning entry. Shown (from left) are Levi Carr, Susan Jones, Jennifer Johnson, Anna Ellison, Judge Paul Wigley, Jerry Jones and Reggie Gibbs of K&H Show Pigs.
The small army of volunteers who made the swine show run smoothly are pictured above. The swine show is the biggest event at the Suwannee River Fair and requires considerable help from the people in the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties.
Two swine exhibitors gently prod their animals to move past some of the show ring men who were there to guide the animals away from corners and other congested areas.
Chiefland 4-H exhibitors Emma Swain, Aubri Brown, Claire Horne and Ashtyn Brown spend time babysitting their hogs before the big show.
The swine show brought a big crowd of parents, grandparents and other family members.
Kendal, a Dixie County Middle FFA Chapter exhibitor, said she picked out the hog based on the way she stood and how she looked when she saw the pig at the farm where she was born - Stephen Cordle of Southern Select Showcases.
“The way she stood and how she looked and how she was grown out; she was very symmetrical,” Kendal said.
She plans to use money from sale of the pig to help pay for her college education. She wants to major in some phase of agriculture at the University of Florida.
Her mother Becky Bussard said that raising and training the pig was a family affair with older brother Dillon giving his sister tips on how to show the hog.
Kendal’s father, Frank Bussard, said winning grand champion was a first for the family.
“We’re very proud of her,” Frank Bussard said. “We’re very proud of our son helping her and we’re proud of her hard work. It’s what we’ve been working for a lot of years.”
Conventional wisdom reflects that the odds were learning toward Show Judge Paul Wigley picking a grand champion in the 265- to 270-pound range. Bussard said he was aware of that fact, but he said his daughter’s pig had a big enough frame to carry 290 pounds easily.
Carrying 280 pounds was a breeze.
The only problem with the hog was her appetite. Bussard said the hog was gaining 3.7 pounds a day at one point. They had to slow down her feed consumption.
Kendal said Pokahonotas’ favorite treat was apples. She ate a lot of apples.
She trained the pig in a fenced area around the house. She took daily walks with Pokahontas to get the hog accustomed to commands with the show stick.
Wigley, an experienced hog show judge retired from the University of Georgia, and has judged competitions around the United States, including at the SRF before.
He said the show barn and ring at the Suwannee River Fair are the best he has seen for a county facility. He congratulated the Tri-County community for its outstanding facility.
Wigley, who had judged hogs in the old Suwannee River Fair show ring, said “This is like going from the outhouse to the penthouse.”
The crowd chuckled at the comparison and knew exactly what he was talking about. The old facility served the Tri-County community well for decades but was outdated by today’s standards.
The new facility was constructed thanks to funding by the late Joe H. Anderson Jr., founder of Anderson Columbia Paving Co., one of the most successful highway construction companies in the Southeast United States, along with his family. Anderson was 77 when he passed away on Nov. 29, 2016.
As for the deciding factors of which swine rated top ranking, Wigley said he looked for pigs that carried soundness in their feet and legs, flexibility and a body type that would provide the most meat when the carcass was butchered.
“I look for the full package with one that’s real sound; one when you cut the head off will yield a lot of meat,” he said.
Wigley said he remembers the days when judges tried to pick lean hogs in shows, which as it turned out didn’t match what consumers wanted on their kitchen table. He said the lean hogs didn’t have enough fat to make much bacon or sausage.
“If you wanted to make sausage you almost had to kill two to get enough fat,” he said. “The consumer housewives said they wanted lean meat but that didn’t match what they bought at the market. The fat’s what keeps the meat from being dry.”
Palmetto police chief
visits murder victim's burial site
Palmetto Police Chief Scott Tyler (left) and Chiefland Police Chief Scott Anderson on Monday afternoon (March 20) stand next to Buie Park Road in front of the woods from whence the body was recovered.
Story and Photo
By Jeff M. Hardison © March 20, 2017 at 8:07 p.m.
CHIEFLAND -- Palmetto Police Chief Scott Tyler came to the site where the body of Tricia Freeman was buried in woods in the city limits of Chiefland on Monday afternoon (March 20).
Joining Chief Tyler were Palmetto Police Department Capt. Mike Stinson and PPD detectives Chad Oyler and Richard Wilson.
Chief Tyler and Capt. Stinson said they greatly appreciate the work by the Chiefland Police Department and the Levy County Sheriff's Office that led to the recovery of the body.
Chief Tyler said Chiefland Police Chief Scott Anderson and the CPD did everything they could to assist in locating and recovering the body.
On Saturday night, several Levy County Sheriff’s Office deputies and vehicles were brought into action to start the search. The deputies used the Willow Sink Voting Precinct building and parking lot at 6731 N.W. 100th St. as a staging area.
There is about one murder per year in Palmetto, Chief Tyler said. That is "one murder too many."
The chief said that although he did not personally know the victim, he "takes it personally when anyone is murdered in Palmetto."
The visiting police chief said he hopes the state of West Virginia will extradite the suspects before the end of this week.
While this may seem to be the end of the murder case, Chief Tyler said the Palmetto Police Department still has “a lot more legwork” before this case is closed.
8 steak chefs compete;
Fourth Annual Mr. Loran’s BBQ Contest
winners to be announced tomorrow night
(from left) Judge Larry Turner. Judge Frank Bussard, Co-Superintendent Holly Houghton, Co-Superintendent Muriel Turner and Judge Loran Brookins confer shortly after the start of the event on Sunday (March 19).
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © March 20, 2017 at 10:07 a.m.
FANNING SPRINGS – Eight young people entered the fourth year of a barbecue contest where the winners are to be announced at the Awards Night of the 2017 Suwannee River Youth Fair and Livestock Sale and Show, which is also known as the Suwannee River Fair (SRF).
Caden Reed of Dixie County FFA stands near his grill shortly before the start of the contest.
Brooke Batey of Levy County 4-H Bee Club stands near her grill shortly before the start of the contest.
Young barbecue amateur chefs from Levy and Dixie counties found the Fourth Annual Mr. Loran’s BBQ Contest to be as challenging, fun and exciting as other similar contests, which are primarily 4H events.
After three years of chicken as the meat to cook, however, sirloin steaks bought from Winn-Dixie are the medium of the day for these culinary artists, SRF Co-Superintendent Dixie County Extension Director Holly Houghton said. The other Mr. Loran’s BBQ Contest Co-Superintendent this year is UF/IFAS Tri-County Family Nutrition Program Manager Muriel Turner.
The judges this year are SRF President Loran Brookins, for whom the contest is named, Larry Turner and Frank Bussard.
Gilbert Gossett of Levy County 4-H Bee Club stands near his grill shortly before the start of the contest.
Jacob Kline of Chiefland FFA stands near his grill shortly before the start of the contest.
Burlynne Mejeris of Cedar Key FFA stands near her grill shortly before the start of the contest.
Hunter Sharp of Chiefland FFA stands near his grill shortly before the start of the contest.
Hannah Quincey of Chiefland FFA stands near her grill shortly before the start of the contest.
Sam Mills of Chiefland FFA stands near his grill shortly before the start of the contest.
Held Sunday (March 19) as the SRF continued its series of events for the year, Mr. Loran's BBQ Contest showed four Senior Division contestants and four Junior Division competitors this year.
In the Senior Division (14-18 years old) are Gilbert Gossett, 15, of the Levy County 4-H Bee Club; Jacob Kline, 14, of Chiefland FFA; Sam Mills, 14, of Chiefland FFA; and Hannah Quincey, 15, of Chiefland FFA.
Making barbecue sirloin steaks in competition with others grillers in the Junior Division (8-13 years old) were Brooke Batey, 12, of Levy County 4-H Bee Club; Burlynne Mejeris, 13, of Cedar Key FFA; Caden Reed, 12, of Dixie County FFA; and Hunter Sharp, 12, of Chiefland FFA.
Houghton said the fair purchased 10 sirloin steaks for $50 from Winn-Dixie, and the SRF appreciates the price break for the event. Rather than filet mignon or ribeye steaks, sirloin was the type of steak chosen for the contest.
Houghton explained this allowed for the best odds of creating equal cuts of meat for the competitors. One ribeye might have more marbling than another, she said, and this might give one chef an advantage over another.
As for filet mignon, making the steaks turn out to be medium or medium rare may be more of a challenge for this type of steak, and it may include the need to butterfly-cut the steaks.
Next year, at the Fifth Annual Mr. Loran’s BBQ Contest, Houghton said, there may be barbecue pork chops as the meat. This is not yet decided. What may potentially happen, she said, is a rotation of different meats each year.
Brooke Batey is seen in the foreground as flames start the charcoal destined to cook the steak she is cooking. Meanwhile, Caden Reed contemplates timing of charcoal ignition for the process.
Burlynne Mejeris watches as her charcoal ignites.
In this video, Hunter Sharp ignites his charcoal.
Not only do the competitors have uniform starting meats, but the temperature of the steak is one of the deciding factors in the steak-cooking barbecue contest.
Steak serving temperature is important for food safety, Houghton said.
Judges Brookins, Bussard and Larry Turner checked everything from the start of the fires to the conclusion of steak barbecuing two hours later. In contrast with the chicken barbecue contest, the time for cooking the steak was less. Therefore, steak BBQ chefs needed to time the marinating of the steaks, the starting of the charcoal and timing of the cooking of the steaks.
The level of inspections for this barbecue cooking contest is extensive.
There are three main categories – Cooking Skills; Sensory Evaluation; and Participant Preparation.
Among the Cooking Skills questions were: are the equipment and utensils practical, efficient, complicated and appropriately arranged? Are the chef and equipment appropriate initially and while cooking? Was 4-H represented? In starting the fire, was skill demonstrated and was it safe? Was there excessive smoke or flame? In preparing the steak for cooking, were safe handling and cutting methods exercised? Were there safe techniques applied for marinating-rubbing? In the Sensory Evaluation phase, the color, uniformity, ash speckling were reviewed. Temperature, texture, flavor and after flavor were among the aspects that were judged. In the Particpant Preparation judgments the questions asked were – was the participant on time? Was the registration form completed? Was the project record sheet completed?
Hannah Quincey prepares to cook.
Sam Mills sits relatively confident in his skill level for cooking barbecue sirloin steaks in competition.
The winners of this contest are anticipated to be announced at the Awards Night program, which is tomorrow night (Tuesday, March 21) at 7 p.m. in the SRF Indoor Arena-Stadium.
This contest is designed to develop skills in food safety, the preparation and use of meat products in nutrition. Safe preparation practices and good food hygiene are primary goals. Of course, taste is also a factor for the diner.
This year's sponsor is the Palms Medical Group.
There will be one winner from all 8 contestants who will, for the first time in this competition, earn an Individual Belt Buckle.
There are also ribbons in Junior and Senior for First through Sixth places and cash awards for some places, at the discretion of the SRF.
Judges Frank Bussard (left) and Loran Brookins mark forms as they travel along the path of barbecue competitors on Sunday.
Judge Larry Turney strolls toward a barbecue contestant's area clipboard in hand, ready to evaluate....
Gilbert Gossett demonstrates a method for starting charcoal without starter fluid. There are many finer points in the art of barbecue that might make a difference in taste. Here, there is the removal of any potential for petroleum taste in the steak.
A lamb in the Suwannee River Fair and Livestock Show and Sale Arena on Saturday (March 18) is shown by Linden Teague, 8, of the Cloverbud Buckaroos 4-H Club of Gilchrist County. To see a little bit more about this, please visit the LIFE PAGE.
Photo by Jeff M. Hardison © March 18 at 6:27 p.m.
The Death Penalty
Gov. Rick Scott removes
state attorney from murder case;
Fifth Judicial Circuit
State Attorney Brad King is appointed
By Jeff M. Hardison © March 17, 2017 at 8:57 a.m.
TALLAHASSEE -- Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Brad King was appointed as the special prosecutor in a murder case by Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday (March 16) after Ninth Judicial Circuit Court State Attorney Aramis Ayala said she will not seek the death penalty in a murder case, according to information from the Governor's Office, and the Florida Sheriffs Association.
There are 20 state judicial circuits that include the 67 counties of Florida.
The Fifth Judicial Circuit includes Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion and Sumter counties.
The Ninth Juridical Circuit of Florida includes Orange and Osceola counties.
In a Thursday press release, the Florida Sheriffs Association condemned State Attorney Ayala for what it calls "dereliction of duty," because of her stance in regard to the death penalty.
"The Sheriffs of Florida stand with Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi today (Thursday, March 16) as we condemn the unconscionable decision by State Attorney Aramis Ayala to not seek the death penalty in the prosecution of Markeith Loyd," FSA President Sheriff Jerry Demings said. (Demings is the sheriff of Orange County.)
"By refusing to pursue the death penalty in this horrific case, State Attorney Ayala missed an opportunity to ensure that justice was served for the Clayton and Dixon families," Sheriff Demings noted. "The Florida Sheriffs will not stand idly by and watch as Loyd is not prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law after executing a hero, Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton, and murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend. Orange County Deputy Norman Lewis was also tragically killed during the manhunt."
The FSA endorses the executive order enacted by Gov. Scott to remove one state attorney and assign another to this case.
"Justice must be served and must be fitting of the crime," Sheriff Demings wrote. "A killer does not deserve a reduced consequence of living while his victims and their families must deal with death."
The governor released a statement about his action.
“Earlier today, I called on State Attorney Ayala to immediately recuse herself from this case,” Scott said in a statement. “She informed me this afternoon that she refuses to do that. She has made it clear that she will not fight for justice, and that is why I am using my executive authority to immediately reassign the case.”
To justify his executive order, Gov. Scott cited a state law allowing Florida’s governor to appoint a different prosecutor if he finds a “good and sufficient reason” to take it away from the original prosecutor.
State Attorney Ayala issued a statement late Thursday, noting that her office would abide by Scott’s order.
“Upon receipt of any lawful order, my office will follow that order and fully cooperate to ensure the successful prosecution of Markeith Loyd,” she noted.
Ayala announced that she would not seek the death penalty against Loyd or anyone else.
“I have determined that doing so is not in the best interest of the community or the best interest of justice,” she had said.
Ayala’s announcement was not made public before, despite a five-month campaign for public office, during which she was repeatedly asked about her stance.
State law does not require any state attorney to seek the death penalty. There is no mandatory death penalty clause in Florida law.
Ayala, 42, has been in her office since Jan. 3. She beat previous incumbent Ninth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Jeff Ashton in the primary election in August.
Ayala said she will not pursue the death penalty because it provides no public safety benefits. The death penalty, she said, is not a deterrent to crime and that it costs the state more than cases in which a defendant is sentenced to life in prison.
Ayala made the announcement the same week that Gov. Scott signed into law a new death penalty statute, one that requires all 12 jurors to vote for the death penalty.
Capital punishment is a legal penalty in the state of Florida.
As of March 14, there were 381 offenders who are awaiting execution, according to the Death Row Roster published by the Florida Department of Corrections.
The United States Supreme Court in 1972 ruled executions were a violation of the U.S. Constitution, however that ruling was overturned by the United States Supreme Court in 1976 and Florida performed the first involuntary execution after the Supreme Court, in the 1976 case Gregg v. Georgia, permitted the death penalty once more. John Arthur Spenkelink was electrocuted on May 25, 1979, in Florida, according to a June 4, 1979, Time magazine story published about the death penalty.
The Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) shows the history of the death penalty in Florida.
"Prior to 1923, executions in Florida were carried out by the county, rather than the state," the DPIC notes. "Florida changed execution methods from hanging to electrocution, when it placed executions under state control."
Following is a modified DPIC timeline with editing by HardisonInk.com.
● 1827 - First known execution in Florida, Benjamin Donica hanged by the neck for murder.
● 1845 - Florida becomes a state in the United States of America.
● 1923 - A bill places all executions in Florida under state (rather than local) jurisdiction, and substitutes hanging as the form of execution with the electric chair being the new form to kill people.
● 1972 - The United States Supreme Court strikes down the death penalty in Furman vs. Georgia. Florida subsequently passes a new capital punishment statute, which is upheld.
● 1976 - The United States Supreme Court reinstates the death penalty when it upholds Georgia’s statute in Gregg vs. Georgia. In Proffitt vs. Florida, the United States Supreme Court upholds the Florida statute.
● 1979 - Florida is the first state in the United States to carry out a non-voluntary execution post-Gregg when it executes John Spenkelink.
● 1989 - Florida executes notorious serial killer Ted Bundy.
● 1990s - Florida botches the electric chair executions of Jesse Tafero, Pedro Medina, and Allen Lee Davis and subsequently begins using lethal injection as its execution method.
● 2002 - Florida executes Aileen Wuornos, tagged as "the first female serial killer" by "the media."
● 2017 - Florida Ninth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Aramis Ayala says she will not seek the death penalty in any criminal cases.
● 2017 - Florida Gov. Rick Scott executes order to remove Florida Ninth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Aramis Ayala from a murder case and appoints Florida Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Brad King to prosecute that case.
Fanning Springs’ mayor and
fire chief cancel
Fifth Annual Easter Egg Hunt;
Easter Bunny and Smokey Bear
may not be in that park this year
By Jeff M. Hardison © March 15, 2017 at 7:47 p.m.
FANNING SPRINGS – Fanning Springs Mayor Howell “Trip” Lancaster III on Tuesday night (March 14) cancelled an annual event that was very well received in years past, where children would win bicycles, and have many other gifts bestowed upon them.
In years past, the children hunted for plastic Easter eggs; they met the Easter Bunny; and they even met Smokey Bear of the Florida Forest Service. Not this year, though, unless something as-yet unknown unfolds very quickly.
Mayor Lancaster said that after a conversation with Fanning Springs Interim Fire Chief Roy Bass, the two of them decided to cancel the Annual Easter Egg Hunt this year.
Mayor Lancaster said on Wednesday (March 15) during a telephone interview that he felt the interim fire chief is too busy to add this responsibility to his duties. Chief Bass is also a lieutenant with Dixie County Fire Services, whereas former and now retired Fanning Springs Fire Chief Ron McQueen focused only on Fanning Springs.
Last year, rainy weather caused the Fourth Annual Fanning Springs Fire Rescue Easter Egg Hunt to be moved to the Suwannee River Fairgrounds a week after the normal time -- which is the Saturday before Easter. However, that turned out very well overall. Former Deputy Chief Elania Spain led that effort last year, because Mayor Lancaster had removed Chief Ron McQueen from his post, due to the mayor's choice to interpret a law. A hearing officer later ruled the mayor was in error in his interpretation.
During the 2015 Fanning Springs Easter Egg Hunt, which traditionally has been sponsored by the Fanning Springs Fire Rescue Department, there were hundreds of children who hunted for Easter eggs.
That hunt in and around Fort Fanning was on March 28, 2015, thanks to the Fanning Springs Fire Rescue Department and several volunteer organizations, and sponsors.
The fire department has been the leader, however, in making this annual event happen as it went into its third consecutive year in 2015 – and actually led to it having an official annual title.
Back in 2015, now former Fanning Springs Fire Chief McQueen, former Deputy Chief Spain and former Lt. Ken Missel were the officers of the department who were at the top of the command structure.
Back then, now former Deputy Chief Spain said she was impressed in 2015 by Firefighter Brett Boyce who stayed all day and into the night on that Friday with her and now former Chief McQueen as the three of them prepped for the Saturday morning unfolding of the project that was assembled with the efficiency of a well-made Swiss watch.
Among the other Fanning Springs firefighters pitching in to assure success back in 2015 were Chris Anderson, Quinn Lesher, Mike MacKenzie, Roy Spain and Will May.
Back in 2015, there was another set of the many groups of significant volunteers that were “the ladies from Silver Oaks,” which is a subdivision in Fanning Springs. This group stuffed 5,000 Easter eggs with candy in 2015, former Deputy Chief Spain said back then.
Traditionally there are 350 or so children who show up for the event.
In 2015, the Easter Egg Hunt festivities were even better than the two previous years. In addition to the 5,000 plastic Easter eggs, there were eight bicycles given away.
There was even more from the 2015 and 2016 Easter Egg Hunts.
However in 2017, the mayor of Fanning Springs and the interim fire chief have cancelled the event.
Drinda Merritt wins reelection
as mayor of Inglis -- 170 to 57
By Jeff M. Hardison © March 15, 2017 at 10:47 a.m.
* Updated March 15, 2017 at 2:47 p.m.
INGLIS -- Inglis Mayor Drinda Merritt won reelection to her post Tuesday (March 14) in a 3-to-1 landslide election, according to information provided by Town Clerk Sally McCranie.
McCranie is the supervisor of elections for municipal elections in Inglis.
The final count showed Merritt with 170 votes (75 percent) and candidate Michael Andrew “Drew” White with 57 votes (25 percent).
There were 959 registered Inglis voters as of book closing for this election, Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones said. That means there was a 24 percent turnout by 227 people voting in the 2017 Inglis mayoral election.
Levy County Supervisor of Elections Jones said a municipal election with only one race is going to usually have a low voter turnout.
Two Inglis City Council members were unopposed and they sought reelection without any contest, Town Clerk and Town Elections Supervisor McCranie said.
Inglis City Council Member Pat Tully, who is the animal control and Fire Department liaison to the City Council, and Betsy Webb, who is the recreation and health liaison to the City Council, were both reelected, McCranie said.
The other members of the Inglis City Council are Thomas Brennan, budget and finance liaison; Ann Morin, water liaison; and James Williams, roads and bridges, and maintenance liaison, McCranie said.
Winning mayor comments
This map shows where Mastodon Drive crosses a stream that leads into the Withlacoochee River. This is on the west side of U.S. Highway 19 and it is to the south of Levy County Road 40.
Mayor Merritt on Wednesday (March 15) said her reelection will allow her to continue working on projects to bring them closer to being under way.
One project is the white water kayak venue.
Another project is the addition of a wastewater treatment facility. Mayor Merritt said state leaders who represent this part of Florida have a $10 million proposed bill that the whole Florida Legislature can approve to help meet this urgent need.
That treatment plant would help reduce nutrients going into the Withlacoochee River, as well as provide a resrouces for business growth.
About 22 percent of property owners in Inglis currently pay ad valorem property taxes, the mayor said. She wants the city to grow so that there can be more jobs, a better local economy and an even better quality of life than already exists in Inglis.
Another project that Mayor Merritt is hoping to see come to fruition is the repair or replacement of the Mastodon Bridge. The bridge was first damaged as a result of Hurricane Frances in 2004, she said.
It was repaired. Ten years later, though, the storms in 2014 caused the bridge to be damaged again. The city maintenance team reached out to the Florida Department of Transportation, she said, which resulted in that bridge becoming a numbered FDOT bridge.
And so on the list of FDOT bridge repairs, that one is showing a date of 2022 for repair, Merritt said.
Even though there is access to a subdivision served by that bridge, this bridge would be an improvement to bring the level of service for transportation in that area back to where it was before the storms of 2014, she said.
Mayor Merritt said this is something she hopes to see started within the next two years. The mayoral election happens each two years in Inglis.