Gilchrist County Rotary Club
gives and gets in Bell

Gilchrist County
Seen here with a $5,000 check to the Gilchrist League are (from left) Gilchrist County Rotary Club President Aaron Haynes, Gilchrist Rotarians Chris Weatherilt, Rick Washburn, Todd Gray, and Matthew VunCannon, and Branford Rotarians Trannie and John Lacquey.

Story and Photos
By Holly Creel, Rotarian
Published June 11, 2019 at 5:09 p.m.
     BELL --
Service Above Self. Be The Inspiration.


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Gilchrist County
Gilchrist County Rotary Club Membership Chair Todd Gray (left) inducts Rick Washburn into the club as Rotarian Chris Weatherilt performs the pinning

Gilchrist County
Here are Rotarians at Akins Bar-B-Q & Grill in Bell on Monday afternoon (June 10).

     The Gilchrist County Rotary Club "walked the talk" of serving and giving to others in our community and internationally at our meeting on Monday (June 10) at Akins Bar-B-Q & Grill in Bell.
     President Aaron Haynes began the monthly business meeting with an inspirational message about the purpose of Rotary - to reach out and help others to better our world, locally and abroad.
     Rotarian Matthew VunCannon accepted a donation on behalf of the Gilchrist League. Matthew updated the club's members and guests on the work of the League, serving numerous boys and girls in the area with the opportunity to play and compete in sports. The Gilchrist League, consisting of nearly 640 kids and coaches, offers football (flag and tackle), softball, baseball, soccer, basketball, cheerleading, and teeball.
     The Rotary Club of Gilchrsti County provides support to the League each year because we believe that playing in a team sport is a great way to build character and that an investment in these kids playing competitive sports is an investment in our future. Matthew explained the many operational expenses of this volunteer-run organization. He expressed gratitude for the donation. Supporting our young people is a top priority for this club and we primarily do it through supporting the Gilchrist League and Interact Service Clubs at Bell High School and Trenton High School.
     We also gave donations to two fellow Rotary Clubs in our District. John and Trannie Lacquey accepted a donation to the Branford Rotary Club to support a Rotary International Grant to provide uniform scrubs to volunteers who provide medical care and wheelchairs to disabled children in El Salvador. Rotarians are known not only to help locally in their community, but also to help those in other countries with health care, educational support, clean water and numerous other interventions to help others live better lives.
     And there's more! The Gilchrist County Rotary Club also pledged to support the Chiefland Rotary Club in their work for a Rotary District Global Grant proposal to purchase a van for the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranch. Rotarians helping other Rotarians!
     So, you can see there was a lot of giving going on at the meeting. There was also some getting, as we welcomed a new member into our club!
     Rick Washburn, Controller at Tri-County Metals, was inducted by Membership Chair Todd Gray and pinned by Rotarian and Tri-County Metals CEO Chris Weatherilt. We are very excited about having Rick join our Rotary Club. Even before his official induction Rick volunteered by helping distribute dictionaries earlier this year to public school third graders and hanging quilts for the Trenton Quilt Festival.
     We know Rick will be a tremendous addition to our club. And, to prove that point, Rick is the only Rotarian to volunteer to serve as an upcoming Rotary President before he was even inducted! Now that's being committed to service! Welcome to the Rotary Club of Gilchrist County, Rick Washburn!

     As always, the food at Akins was delicious. We dined on barbecue pork and chicken, macaroni and cheese, garlic toast, green beans and a delectable banana pudding for dessert. A delightful meeting and luncheon was enjoyed by all! Special thanks to Rotarian Scott Akins who joined us for the meeting!

Williston holds open house
at the new City Hall

Willistion Florida
Williston City Council members (from left) Marguerite Robinson, Charles Goodman, Justin Head, Mayor Jerry Robinson, Council President Nancy Wininger and Elihu Ross host an open house at City Hall as well as celebrate the city's 90th anniversary.

Story and Photos
By Terry Witt Correspondent © June 9, 2019 at 10:09 p.m.
Williston residents and visitors enjoyed their first close-up look at the interior of the recently constructed City Hall during an open house event Saturday (June 8) that coincided with the city’s celebration of its 90th anniversary.
     The city turned 90 on June 2.


The front of City Hall is a classy mix of the old and the new.

Williston Florida
A visitor to the Williston Council meeting room browses through literature at the dais. The council dais was part of the former Bronson council chambers but it fit well in the new council chambers.

Williston Florida
Visitors are treated to a lunch and refreshments in the City Hall Community Room.

Williston Florida
Ahmes Askia and City Manager Scott Lippmann survey the map room. Askia said the new City Hall looks progressive.

Williston Florida
An old newspaper story on display at the open house discusses progress in the city.

Williston Florida
Claudia and Kenneth Ward look at a table of memorabilia. They were impressed by City Hall.

     People who toured the structure were favorably impressed by what they saw.
     The 13,000 square-foot facility was a showcase for those who walked through its hallways for the first time. They saw a modern municipal building with ample space and an appealing design.
City Hall has two WiFi networks to make it is more cyber secure. One of the WiFi networks is off limits to the general public to reduce the chance of a ransomware attack.
     City Hall has its own Community Center directly opposite the Williston City Council meeting room.
      “Amazing. Very impressed,” said Kenneth Ward of Williston. “I think it’s fantastic and it’s been needed for a while.”
     His wife Claudia said the new building is important to the town.
     “It shows it’s growing,” she said. “I never would have dreamed it would be that nice.”
     Ahmes Askia of Williston had high praise for the building.
     “I love this,” she said. “This seems so progressive.”
     Sue Goodman was equally impressed.
     “It’s beautiful. Did you ever see the old facility? It was very much needed,” she said.
     City Manager Scott Lippmann’s office is smaller than his previous space at the old City Hall, but his new digs are equipped with computer software that will make it more efficient to process information with less paperwork.
     Lippmann said plans are in place to install a document management system that eliminates much of the paperwork. The city will store most of its documents digitally.
     Lippmann said the city will “never be paperless,” but the opposite is true now.
     “’We are drowning in paperwork. The move into here has shown us how we are drowning in paper,” he said.
     Councilman Elihu Ross said he remembers the council debate on whether to convert the old school cafeteria to a city hall or build a new one. He couldn’t see sinking $50,000 into roof repairs and having no space for expansion.
     Ross said he lived in Williston before the former City Hall was built and remembers Halloween carnivals, political rallies and other events on a field there before it was constructed. In his youth, he said, the original City Hall was the old wooden building that later served as a community center and voting precinct. The old wooden City Hall also stood at the site of the new facility.
     “I said it’s always been the center of Williston and we ought to have the City Hall right in the center,” he said. “After a lot of thought, we decided to build one and tear the old one down. It was about to fall down anyhow.”
     Ross said he believes the new building will be here for a long time to come.
     “I’m very proud of it,” he said.
     He said the City Council thought it would catch flak for constructing a new building, but the resistance wasn’t as bad as expected. He said people were aware the old building was deteriorating, especially people who came to pay bills.
     City Council President Nancy Wininger said the council is thrilled with the new building.
     “It shows Williston is up and coming. We want people here. We want businesses. We want residents here. We want everyone to feel welcome and building a building like this helps us achieve that,” she said.

Chiefland Watermelon Festival
is a resounding success

Chiefland Watermelon Queen Shelbi McCall (center) is shown with Teen Watermelon Queen Rielly Beauchamp (left) and Florida Watermelon Queen Aviana Liuzzo (right).

Story and Photos
By Terry Witt Correspondent © June 3, 2019 at 2:09 p.m.
* Updated with more photos June 3, 2019 at 11:19 p.m.
Shelbi McCall was crowned queen of the 65th Annual Chiefland Watermelon Festival Saturday (June 1).
     McCall received her crown from 2019 Florida Watermelon Queen Avianna Liuzzo who was the 2018 Chiefland Watermelon Queen.
     Shelby Kirton was first runner-up and Ashton Brown was second runner-up. 
     Rielly Beauchamp was crowned the Teen Watermelon Queen.

Chiefland Florida
Moments before she was announced as the 2019 Chiefland Watermelon Queen Shelbi McCall, second from right, is joined by other watermelon royalty. Seen here are (from left) second runner-up Ashtyn Brown, contestants Bailee Everett and Kaley Clink Scales, Gulf Coast Watermelon Queen Taylor Skipper, first runner-up Shelby Kirton, Florida Watermelon Queen Avianna Liuzzo, McCall and 2019 Newberry Watermelon Queen Bethany Barfield.

     The largest watermelon, a 67-pounder was grown by Harold Tillis, sold for $250 to Keith Maynard representing the Wild Hog Canoe Race.
     The largest group of three watermelons, weighing 138 pounds, was grown by 9-year-old Hayden Henderson and sold to Jack Spann of Spann’s Heating and Air Conditioning for $200.

Chiefland Florida
Watermelon grower representative Sarah Smith is flanked by the buyer, Keith Maynard of the Wild Hog Canoe Race, and 2019 Teen Watermelon Queen Rielly Beauchamp. Smith is the girlfriend of watermelon grower Harold Tillis.

Chiefland Florida
Hayden Henderson, who grew the first-place group of three watermelons, is pictured with buyer Jack Spann.

     The crowning of watermelon royalty followed the annual Chiefland Watermelon Festival Parade. More than 75 units participated in the parade. Thousands of people watched as hundreds of children scrambled for candy thrown from participants in the parade.

Chiefland Florida
The Levy County Sheriff's Explorer Post 939 serves as the Color Guard for the Chiefland Watermelon Festival Parade.

Chiefland Florida FFA
Chiefland FFA and Alumni offered one of the most colorful floats in the parade.

Chiefland Florida
AmVets Post 42 proudly displays its colors.

Laurie Beauchamp and Reagan Hudson were part of the First Baptist Church team slicing watermelons for festival visitors.

Avie and Kadence Studstill savor their tasty slices of watermelon.


Children's Table Founder Bill Brown examines a pan of delicious cooked pork as two of the volunteer cooks for the organization, Mike Jenkins in white shirt and Leon Houston look on. The Children's Table was selling pork sandwiches at the watermelon festival as a fund-raiser.

Aubrey Gwinn of Tampa Bay Cannabis Company wears a t-shirt bearing the image of a marijuana plant as he talks to customers about CDB oil and its pain relieving properties. CDB oil is derived from marijuana. It is legal.

Riverlee Ann Auger, 2019 Tiny Chiefland Watermelon Queen, rides in the parade with her mother.

     The festival in south Chiefland attracted an estimated 2,500 individuals who browsed through the tents of 150 vendors.
     Among the vendors was The Children’s Table, an organization that delivered free food to 115,000 people last year. The Children’s Table operates out of Bronson.
     The Children’s Table, founded 22 years ago by Bill Brown, also worked with disaster relief organizations in Puerto Rico, Mexico Beach, Lumberton and Panama City.
     Brown said the organization runs on donations but there are always challenges faced by any volunteer group. He said not long ago, both of the group’s transport trucks broke down resulting in $23,000 in repair bills.
     The bills were paid with a credit card.
     The Children’s Table gives away about one million pounds of free food annually with about one-third of it given to Levy County residents, Brown said.
     One of the most popular vendors in the midway was Tampa Bay Cannabis Co. selling CDB oil and the tools to use it. CDB oil is derived from marijuana. CDB oil is sold at most health food stores.
     Aubrey Gwinn said everything in the tent was legal. He said they gave paperwork to people who purchased what the company labeled at “raw CDB” oil and CDB flour which had .03 percent THC. The paperwork was to show police the sale was legal if the buyer was stopped with the product.
     Medical marijuana is legal in Florida. It was legalized by a constitutional amendment, approved by voters. Gwinn was touting CDB’s pain relieving properties. His tent was crowded most of the afternoon.


Levy County Supervisor
of Elections Tammy Jones takes
oath of office as FSASE president

Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones and Florida Secretary of Stae Laurel Lee
Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee (left) and Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections President Tammy Jones, who is the Levy County Supervisor of Election stand together in Daytona Beach, where Jones accepted the duties as FSASE president.

Information and Photos Provided
Published May 29, 2019 at 9:09 a.m.
Tammy Jones, Levy County Supervisor of Elections, was sworn in as President of the Florida State
Association of Supervisors of Elections by Secretary of State, Laurel Lee. The swearing-in ceremony took place during the association's conference on Wednesday, May 22, in Daytona Beach.

FSASE Leaders In Daytona Beach 2019
Seen here (from left) at the recent convention in Daytona Beach are FSASE Vice President Wesley Wilcox, Supervisor of Elections Marion County; FSASE President-Elect Craig Latimer, Supervisor of Elections Hillsborough County; FSASE President Tammy Jones, Supervisor of Elections Levy County; Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee; FSASE Past President Paul Lux, Supervisor of Elections Okaloosa County; FSASE Secretary Mark Earley, Supervisor of Elections Leon County; and FSASE Treasurer Ron Turner, Supervisor of Elections Sarasota County.

     The FSASE is comprised of supervisors of elections from all of the 67 counties of Florida.
     Jones was elected by her peers to represent the association as their president for one year.
     Jones has made it her goal to be an active participant with the FSASE.
     "I'm deeply honored to be sworn in as the 61st president of the association,” President Jones said. “The association's mission is to assist its members in conducting fair, honest and accurate elections. Our members grow stronger due to the connections we all share. As my colleagues and I prepare for the 2020 elections, we will continue to work diligently to improve the voting experience for Floridians."

Yankeetown mayor announces
WGP Board of Trustees
volunteers are needed

Published May 26, 2019 at 10:09 a.m.
Yankeetown Mayor Jack Schofield recently announced in an e-mail that volunteers are needed for the Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve (WGP) Board Of Trustees.
     In February, a referendum vote was held and the electorate of Yankeetown as an advisory voted 65 “for” and 48 “against” the Town of Yankeetown continuing to maintain and support financially the 420-acre WGP.
     As with all parks throughout Florida and the United States, volunteer groups make the effort and take the responsibility for management, maintenance and garnering of financial support for covering some of the operational cost of parks.
     The Town of Yankeetown is fortunate to have the Friends of the WGP who provide educational opportunities and some maintenance and financial support in assisting the Town in maintaining and operating the park, Mayor Schofield said. The Town, as required by the Florida Communities Trust Grant has a seven-member Board of Trustees (BOT) that oversee the following required management plan; seeking support from groups such as the Friends of the WGP and assisting in seeking whatever financial assistance that can be found to support the Preserve, Schofield noted.
     Since the vote on the referendum was held, unfilled positions on this board increased from two to three. This is due to the resignation of the chairman of the BOT, Mayor Schofield continued. This is an important position that carries a big responsibility in ensuring that the Town follows the requirements of the FCT (Florida Communities Trust) agreement.
     These three positions need to be filled by Yankeetown residents, he said.
     As results indicate by those who took the time to vote, Mayor but Schofield noted, the majority of town voters want the Town of Yankeetown to continue its support of the WGP. In order for the Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve to continue under the Town of Yankeetown and its Board of Trustees, an urgent request now is made to town residents to fill these open seats for a chairperson and two members. It is important and is needed.
     If you would like to be involved please contact the Town of Yankeetown at 352-447-2511.
     “Your support is necessary for the future of the Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve,” Yankeetown Mayor Schofield concluded.



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