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Law enforcement officers memorialized
Memorial
Williston Police Chief Mike Rolls and Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum are seen in front of the two wreaths they placed in honor of certain fallen law enforcement officers to conclude an hourlong ceremony that begin in Courtroom A of the Levy County Courthouse on Thursday morning (April 18). 

Story and Photos By Jeff M. Hardison © April 19, 2024 at 8 p.m.
All Copyrights Protected By Federal Civil Law
Do Not Copy and Paste to Social Media or Elsewhere
     LEVY COUNTY –
Law enforcement officers who have passed away were honored and their lives were celebrated Thursday morning (April 18) in Levy County.

 


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     Levy County Deputy Atticus Hagood Ellzey (April 16, 1881-Jan. 28, 1945); Williston Police Cpl. David Wayne Moss (End of Watch July 30, 1988); Levy County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Duane Dykstra (Oct. 13, 1972-Sept. 26, 2020); Levy County Deputy Ray Allen Breeding (Oct. 28, 1970-Oct. 27, 2021); Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Noel Ramirez Beltran (June 30, 1988-April 19, 2018; Gilchrist County Deputy Taylor Lindsey (June 30, 1992 - April 19, 2018); and Levy County Commissioner Mike Joyner (Oct. 3, 1950-Aug. 4, 2021).
     For some decades now, there have been annual memorials for WPD Cpl. Moss, and for some years now, there have been memorial services in Williston and Bronson alternatively there have been memorial services for Levy County Sheriff’s Office members who died in the line of duty.

Memorial
Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum and Executive Assistant Angie Kight are seen moments before the start of the event on Thursday morning.

     The Thursday morning service hosted by Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum provided a significant tribute for all law enforcement officers, and especially for certain members of this noble profession from Levy County and Gilchrist County.

Memorial
Some of the people from Williston who came to the event are seen here and include (from left) Williston Fire Chief Lamar Stegall, Williston Mayor Charles Goodman and Levy County Commissioner Matt Brooks. Mayor Goodman was among the speakers of the day.

Memorial
Roger Breeding (left), an uncle of the late Deputy Allen Breeding, shakes hands with Sheriff Bobby McCallum before the start of the event. Family members of the officers honored that day sat in the first two rows of pews on either side of the center aisle in the courtroom.

Memorial
The LCSO Honor Guard posts the colors just before everyone recited the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag. This honor guard is comprised of (from left) Cpl. D. Griffeth, Deputy T. Gaffey, Det. C. Weaver and Lt. P. Johnson. (Not pictured is Honor Guard Bugler Deputy Dean MacIntyre.)

Memorial
Families of the officers honored that morning stand and are recognized.


     After a welcome by Sheriff McCallum, and the Pledge of Allegiance led by LCSO Lt. Jimmy Anderson, Pastor Mark Williams of Chiefland Methodist Church gave the invocation, and Pastor Williams provided the benediction before dismal outdoors for the laying of the wreaths by Williston Police Chief Mike Rolls and Levy County Sheriff McCallum.
     Between the alpha of the welcome by the sheriff and the omega of his dismissal of the LCSO Honor Guard, the ceremony was somber and inspirational. There were moments of proper humor, too.
     The LCSO Honor Guard for this event was comprised of Deputy T. Gaffey carrying the American flag with Cpl. D. Griffeth serving as rifleman for that flag, and LCSO Det. C. Weaver carrying the Florida flag with Lt. P. Johnson serving as rifleman for that flag; and LCSO Deputy Dean MacIntyre played Taps on the bugle.
     From start to finish, this was a powerful event and included Levy County Court Judge Luis Bustamante serving as the keynote speaker.

Memorial
Sheriff Bobby McCallum speaks about LCSO Deputy Hagood Ellzey


LCSO Deputy A. Hagood Ellzey
     It’s been 79 years since Deputy Hagood died in the line of duty, Sheriff McCallum said.
     He was shot and killed in a wooded area of the Town of Otter Creek, the sheriff said, after he was lured there by two men on Jan. 28, 1945. Shortly before this, McCallum said, the deputy had broken up a disturbance caused by two white men at a bar for Black people in the town.
     Both of those killers were convicted and sentenced to life prison terms, McCallum said.
     Deputy Ellzey was survived by his wife and 14 children, McCallum said. Miss Wilma Lou Sherwood, 86, is the last surviving offspring of the deputy and she was in the audience with several other Ellzey family members.
     She was 6 years old, the sheriff noted, when her father was killed in the line of duty as he served the people of Levy County and the State of Florida as a law enforcement officer.
     The sheriff said that even though it has been 79 years now since the passing of Deputy Sheriff Ellzey, his service will never be forgotten.
To see the story and photos from the Jan. 28, 2018 dedication of a road to honor LCSO Deputy A. Haygood Ellzey, click HERE.

Memorial
WPD Chief Mike Rolls speaks about WPD Cpl. David Wayne Moss.

Memorial
Williston Mayor Charles Goodman speaks about law enforcement officers in Williston.


WPD Cpl. David Wayne Moss
     Williston Police Chief Mike Rolls spoke about the WPD corporal who gave his life 35 years ago as he was defending lives and property in that easternmost city of Levy County.
     Lori, the widow of Cpl. David Moss, was in the audience. She has attended numerous memorial services held to honor and remember him.
     Chief Rolls said that he learned Moss was a nice guy with a big heart and high ideals. 
     “He knew what the right thing was,” Rolls said, “and he stood for it.”
     Cpl. Moss was investigating what turned out to be a stolen car, Rolls said, and he was fired upon and was hit by a bullet from the gun used by the thief. The corporal returned fire and effectively neutralize the threat so that others would not be victimized in the future by that criminal, Chief Rolls said.
     “None of us want to give up our lives as we do this job,” Chief Rolls said. “But if we do, I hope we do it right – just like David did – terminate the threat even as he left this Earth.” 
     The chief recited a version of John 15:13 (KJV), which notes, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
     Chief Rolls said Cpl. Moss always will be in the hearts and minds of the people for his giving the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
     Williston Mayor Charles Goodman then spoke.
     The mayor said Cpl. Moss is an enduring symbol in the city, and he is spoken about often.
     Cpl. Moss represents the thousands upon thousands of law enforcement officers who surrender their lives to protect people, Goodman said. In the face of adversity, police officers persevere, Goodman said.
     In Williston and in Levy County, Mayor Goodman said, law enforcement officers are appreciated for their service.
     To see the May 21, 2016 story and photos about Williston and Levy County officers memorialized then, click HERE.
     Deputy Ellzey and Cpl. Moss gave their lives literally in the line of duty. Other officers were memorialized a little differently on the program that was hande out because while they did not die from bullet wounds, their lives were cut short from the toll of them performing duties in this noble profession. The sheriff said he felt that they died in the line of duty, but doctors did not concur with the sheriff.

Memorial
LCSO Det. Rob Bowers speaks about his former colleague and friend Lt. Duane Dykstra.


LCSO Lt. Duane Dykstra
     LCSO Lt. Dykstra died from a heart attack, Det. Rob Bowers said as he spoke about the lieutenant.
     Sheriff McCallum said he feels the heart attack was stress related from the job, although he could not persuade a doctor about this being the cause, which would have made the death in the line of duty.
     Dykstra began his career with the LCSO in July of 1992 as a communications officer when Bowers was an LCSO patrol deputy.
     Dykstra went on to become a SWAT member, a K-9 handler with his partner Bruiser, an investigator with the Levy County Drug Task Force, and a special deputy marshal with the United States Marshals Service Florida Regional Task Force, Bowers said.
     In 2001, Dykstra was promoted to sergeant in the Patrol Division, the detective said. In 2003, he left the LCSO to serve elsewhere. When he returned to the LCSO in 2005, Bowers said, Dykstra was appointed to be the commander of the Levy County Drug Task Force, and soon after was given the rank of lieutenant.
     Dykstra took pride in serving the people of Levy County, Bowers said, but his true pride and joy were all of his family members.
     Dykstra often spoke about wife Tina, his son Derek, who is a state law enforcement officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, his daughter Sarah, who is with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Bowers said. The detective continued to speak about his friend’s grandchildren and others.
     Dean Dykstra, a grandson born just recently, carries on the “Double D Dykstra legacy,” Bowers said.
     Duane Dykstra was a true leader, Bowers said, who led by example.

Memorial
Lt. Jimmy Anderson tells people about Deputy Allen Breeding.


LCSO Deputy Allen Breeding
     LCSO Lt. Jimmy Anderson spoke about Deputy Sheriff Allen Breeding.
      The next call for service answered by any law enforcement officer, or the next traffic stop can be the last, Lt. Anderson said.
     “We entered the law enforcement profession to make a difference in people’s lives,” Lt. Anderson said. “And to make a difference in our communities – to make our communities as safe as possible.”
     As he had mentioned to the audience about Lt. Dykstra, Sheriff McCallum told listeners that he felt the cause of death for Deputy Breeding was in the line of duty, because he had contracted COVID-19 while on duty and then died from cardiac arrest. McCallum said he felt both men died in the line of duty, but doctors do not concur with him on that.
     Lt. Anderson shared that Breeding’s friends and family knew this officer as “Pappa Bear.”
     He died unexpectedly from sudden cardiac arrest, Anderson said. This 1988 Williston High School graduate and received Florida Law Enforcement Standards from the College of Central Florida in Ocala in 1991, Anderson said.
     He served full time in the LCSO Patrol Division from January of 2005 up until his death. He also worked at the Seminole (Pinellas County) Police Department from 1992 through 2000.
     Anderson said one word to describe Breeding is “prepared.” In fact, a well-stocked blue duffel bag with first aid supplies that he had in the trunk of his cruiser is now in Anderson’s patrol unit.
      Breeding’s patrol vehicle, too, Lt. Anderson said was consistently well-kept. It would always pass supervisor’s inspection. Everything had a place in that cruiser, Anderson said, and this deputy knew where each item was stored.
     He was qualified as a field training deputy, Anderson said. He helped younger deputies and was well versed in Florida Statutes regarding criminal and civil laws, Anderson said. He worked mostly in the Inglis to Williston areas, Anderson said.
     This deputy was able to identify almost everyone in those parts of the county, Anderson said, and when he couldn’t instantly identify a person, he could make a phone call and that individual would be identified within a brief time.
     Anderson said he hopes that everyone can be as prepared as this deputy.
    To lose a loved one, a friend, or a colleague is never easy, Anderson said. However, keep the faith and have comfort knowing that all will be reunited. He closed by saying he hopes God blesses the Breeding family.
     Sheriff McCallum said the LCSO received countless letters from people who Deputy Breeding would stop and help, including to change their tires.
     One woman who needed law enforcement help as she had traveled from Pinellas County was accompanied by Deputy Breeding until a person came from that county. When he had to respond to another call, he made sure another deputy not in action could stay with the woman in the middle of the night, on U.S. Highway 19 in the Gulf Hammock area, until a person from that county arrived, the sheriff said.
     Those are some of the things he would do to help people, the sheriff said.

Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Noel Ramirez Beltran
and
Gilchrist County Deputy Taylor Lindsey

     Levy County Sheriff McCallum spoke about the cowardly fatal ambush of two members of the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office on April 19, 2018.
     To see story, photos and video from the April 20, 2018 attack in the story “Coward kills two deputies,” click HERE.
     Those two law enforcement officers’ names were not on the program for the day.
     The sheriff said those two people were serving in the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office at the time. They were having a lunch break at a Chinese restaurant in Trenton.
     Sheriff McCallum spoke about Ramirez’s service in the Levy County Sheriff’s Office.
    He said he will always – always – remember him. The sheriff noted he was glad to see the Ramirez family at the service on April 18 – one day shy of the three-year anniversary of that ambush.
     The sheriff said Noel’s sister worked for the LCSO as a great employee in the detention bureau for many years before she married. 
     Noel Ramirez lived in Levy County, Sheriff McCallum said, and he had worked for the LCSO longer than for any other agency during his law enforcement career. He started with the LCSO in 2011 and left in September of 2016 to go to the GCSO.

Levy County Commissioner Mike Joyner
     Sheriff McCallum spoke about the late Commissioner Joyner, who began his law enforcement career in 1973 with the Monticello (Jefferson County) Police Department.
     Five months later, McCallum said, Joyner was hired by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, where he served for 12 years.
     Joyner’s law enforcement career was 32 years long. He served mostly in Florida but in several other states as well, including as an undercover officer. He would be undercover in jails in Florida and other states, including in the Levy County Jail, the sheriff said, and that was back when McCallum was chief deputy of the LCSO.
     “He was a nationwide known undercover agent,” McCallum said of his friend and former employee. “He was a Florida law enforcement officer, but he worked in many, many other states.”
     He worked an 18-month undercover operation in Citrus County, McCallum said, that resulted in the arrest of a homicide suspect who was then convicted of murder. 
     Joyner worked on many drug trafficking investigations throughout the state of Florida, the sheriff said.
     In one undercover operation, he served in New York as a Salvation Army cook, McCallum said. That resulted in the arrest of a murderer, he added.
     Joyner worked at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, as well as in Gadsden County, McCallum said.
      All of Joyner’s undercover investigations resulted in successful prosecutions of people for serious felonies who were sentenced to prison, McCallum said.
     He was a dedicated law enforcement officer, McCallum said. And he was a dedicated Christian.
     In 2011, then Gov. Rick Scott appointed Joyner to be the Levy County Commission member for District 3, where he served after being reelected to four year terms until his death on Aug. 4, 2021.
     He is scheduled to be inducted into the Florida Law Enforcement Officers’ Hall of Fame on May 18 at 11 a.m. in the FDLE facility in Tallahassee, the sheriff said.
     There are many stories that several people can share about the wonderful late Mike Joyner. As Sheriff McCallum said, “God only made one Mike Joyner.”
     His widow Diane and other members of the family were among the people in the audience on Thursday morning (April 18).
 
Memorial
Levy County Court Judge Luis Bustamante shares his thoughts about law enforcement officers, noting they are the thin blue line between chaos and freedom. He told the audience about the many distinct roles any law enforcement officer must work in as they serve the people. The former prosecutor said, too, that when a suspected criminal is caught in the act, it is a law enforcement officer, not an attorney, who is taking action to save lives and property.

Memorial
The LCSO Honor Guard retires the colors.


Rotary Club members and guests
learn about
Gilchrist County School Food Services

Rotary
Gilchrist County Rotary Club President Donna Lee Brunson (left) is seen with Gilchrist County School District Food Service Director Jeri Wilson and Gilchrist County Superintendent of Schools Jim Surrency on April 15.

Story and Photo Provided By Colleen Caudill, Rotarian
Published April 19, 2024 at 7:45 a.m.
     TRENTON –
Gilchrist County District Office Food Service Director Jeri Wilson was the keynote speaker at the Rotary Club of Gilchrist County meeting on Monday (April 15) in Trenton.

     The Rotarians conduct a luncheon meeting in Trenton each Monday, except federal holidays, at the Trenton Woman’s Club Clubhouse starting at noon.
     Chef Jason Fuchs prepared and served delicious fresh fish and chips with dipping sauces, dessert and drinks.
     After lunch, Gilchrist County Rotary Club President Donna Lee Brunson introduced fellow Rotarian Jim Surrency, the superintendent of Gilchrist County schools, who introduced the speaker of the program for the week—Jeri Wilson, the Gilchrist County School District Food Service director.
     Director Wilson told the group about the national lunch program, which is now more than 75 years old. It was established and signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1946, she said.
     Now the program serves almost 30 million students each school day in more than 95,000 public schools nationwide.
     In 2010, changes were made to incorporate more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The new dietary guidelines for public school lunch also required that students have at least one fruit or vegetable on their tray at lunch and at least a fruit for breakfast.
     This has increased consumption of fruits and vegetables over time. Since the previous restrictions from the global COVID-19 pandemic have been lifted, the schools have reimplemented share tables for the students, filled with unopened foods and drinks.
     These share tables are where students who are still hungry are able to take them. The share tables are always empty at the end of the day, Wilson said.
     The school district programs also help make sure children are being fed despite income. One of these programs is the Community Eligibility Program (CEP), where all students can eat breakfast and lunch for free.
     Gilchrist County started its CEP in the 2015-2016 school year and has been providing free meals to children for nine years now. The county also has a summer program Mondays through Thursdays to provide meals to children during their summer holiday from school.
     This year, the program is set to allow for parents to be able to pick up weekend meals, in addition to the weekday meals, on Fridays starting in June.

 


New candidate in Levy County Clerk race
Some candidates speak
at Commission meeting

Story and Photos By Jeff M. Hardison © April 17, 2024 at 9 a.m.
(Except One Photo)
All Copyrights Protected By Federal Civil Law
Do Not Copy and Paste to Social Media or Elsewhere
     BRONSON
– The election of the next Levy County Clerk of Court and Comptroller will not be completed until November, if all of the candidates who have filed so far qualify for that race in June.
     Three Republicans Brian Gore, Matt Brooks and Mandy Waters are the filed candidates as Republicans and if they all qualify in June, then they will face off in the primary election in August.

Jen Kerkhoff

 

 


Jen Kerkhoff
Photo From Her Law Office Website



     Meanwhile, Jennifer “Jen” Kerkhoff (No Party Affiliation) is the other contender for the election in November.
     Kerkhoff, who mailing address is to a law office in Chiefland, according to the Florida Bar Association, began her legal career as a public defender before changing to civil practice. As a civil practitioner, she has worked on a wide range of civil cases for both plaintiffs and defendants and has represented individual clients and corporations throughout her career, to include local and national charity organizations, according to information on her website.
     She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Florida as well as her Juris Doctor degree from the UF Fredric G. Levin College of Law.
     She is the only contender in an election in Levy County, so far, who is not a Republican in those races where party affiliation matters. School Board races are non-partisan.
     During the April 16 meeting of the Levy County Board of County Commissioners, Chair Desiree Mills invited any candidates for office to the lectern to introduce themselves to people in the audience.
     Following is coverage of that part of the meeting.


Charlie Kennedy
Charlie

Charlie Kennedy is running for Levy County Commission District 1. Other candidates who have filed so far are James V. Freeman and incumbent John Meeks.

Chris Cowart
Chris

Levy County Superintendent of Schools Chris Cowart is seeking reelection. Tammy Boyle, currently a member of the Levy County School Board, has filed for election in this race too. Cowart spoke about the School District and how some Yankeetown School employees dontated significantly to help that school.

Mandy Waters
mandy
Many Waters is running for Clerk of Court and Comptroller. As noted other contenders who have filed to be in this race are Brian Gore, Matt Brooks and Jennifer “Jen” Kerkhoff.



Johnny Hiers
Johnny

Johnny Hiers is seeking election to the County Commissioner District 5 seat. The other contender so far in that election is Zach Bullock, currently a member of the Williston City Commission.


Bobby McCallum
Bobby

Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum is the only candidate for his post, so far. He wants to be reelected.
 


Levy County Animal Services improves
Rod Hastings
Levy County Animal Service Director Rod Hastings succeeds in obtaining another animal control animal, as well as providing more times for people to adopt cats and dogs from LCAS – on Saturdays.

Story and Photo By Jeff M. Hardison © April 17, 2024 at 3:30 p.m.
All Copyrights Protected By Federal Civil Law
Do Not Copy and Paste to Social Media or Elsewhere
     BRONSON –
The April 16 meeting of the Levy County Board of County Commissioners, after the call to order, the pledge, the prayer, the roll call of commissioners present, and the approval of the agenda had a couple of individuals person speak during the public comments part of the meeting.

     Diane Marchand of Williston provided a review of the County Commission’s attempts to hire a full-time veterinarian as an employee. She provided information about the first three applicants who did not become the county’s full-time veterinarian as a county employee.
     A second speaker who had signed up for three minutes of input to the County Commission gave her time to Marchand, who then shared her opinions about the current county ordinances related to animal control in Levy County.
     Marchand first spoke about some of these issues in 2016, including the potential to include livestock situation in the animal ordinances of the county. She has been involved with Beauty Haven Horse Rescue of Morriston since January of 1999 through the present, according to her notations on LinkedIn.
     In 2019, Marchand said the ordinances were to be finished and provided to the now late Levy County Judge J.T. “Tim” Browning as well as the office of then Eighth Judicial Circuit State Attorney William Cervone. Marchand said she checked with those offices and the ordinances were never submitted for review.
     Marchand wants to know when the ordinances will be put into law, because “The animals need a voice,” she said.
     Another speaker of the day was recently elected Inglis Mayor Betsy Webb. She introduced herself as the new mayor of the southernmost of the eight municipalities in Levy County. 

Mayor Betsy Webb
G- Inglis Mayor Betsy Webb introduces herself to the Levy County Commission during the public comments part of the agenda. She won the election earlier this month. There is another part of the agenda for elected officials to comment to the County Commission.
~
     Levy County Animal Service Director Rod Hastings told the County Commission there is a tremendous need for another animal control officer to be added to the staff.
     There were 63 court cases last year, Hastings said, and there were eight court cases last week due to people not treating animals as they should within the bounds of the law in Levy County.
     Hastings said some violators need two or three visits, and there are some who really need babysitting by staff of Levy County Animal Services (LCAS).
     The new officer will have a Tuesday through Saturday work schedule.
     As part of Hastings’ new plan, the LCAS shelter next to the solid waste transfer site would be open on Saturdays – for adoptions only. There will be intake, no vaccinations, etc. Saturdays will be for adoptions only, Hastings said.
     Adoptions will be Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., he said. This gives people who work during the week a time when they can see the animals, he said.
     The other times, beyond Saturdays, will be the same for adoptions. Adoptions can be completed Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to arrive by 3:30 p.m. to give staff time to complete the required paperwork.
     Hastings said volunteers are still being sought. There is a four-page form to be completed to apply to be a volunteer.
     On a motion by Meeks, seconded by Hodge, there was a 4-0 vote of approval to add another animal control officer to the staff, as well as to start the Saturday hours for adoptions.
     Hastings said that as soon as he hires the new officer, those Saturday hours will begin.
     He mentioned that the current staff have donated their time and money to improve the facilities and to care more for the cats and dogs in the care of the county.
     Hastings said there is a program, too, where inmates are working with these animals, and it is benefiting those humans as well as the felines and canines.
     Currently, there is a part-time veterinarian who is assuring the LCAS are able to provide all services. Chair Mills said she knows a veterinarian who is interested in working at the facility. There appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel in regard to the county’s lacking an on-staff full-time veterinarian.
 


Vet Fest 2024 is coming Aug. 3
Sponsors and vendors wanted

By Jeff M. Hardison © April 13, 2024 at 1 p.m.
     GILCHRIST COUNTY –
The Vet Fest 2024 event is set for Aug. 3, a Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 pm at Otter Springs Park and Campground, 6470 S.W. 80th Ave., Trenton.

     The park and campground are not in the city limits of Trenton, but it is north of State Road 36 from Wilcox Junction.
     Vet Fest is a free day at the park and springs with access to vendors, information, education, demonstrations, entertainment and drawings. Sponsorship opportunities are available. All proceeds from Vet Fest support the building and development of the Camp Valor Project.
     To learn about the Camp Valor Project by ForVets Inc., click HERE.
     The organizers of Vet Fest are looking for even more sponsors and vendors who have signed up so far.
     To visit the website to complete the Food, Arts and Crafts Vendor Application, and to pay online – click HERE.
     The Sponsorship Form can be found by clicking HERE

  


Water tanks painting coming
CAAA needs American flag

waterr tanks
Chiefland Water and Facilities Manager Shane Keene speaks to the Chiefland City Commission from the back of the City Commission Meeting Room in Chiefland City Hall, which is also known as the Hardy R. Dean Sr. Municipal Building, on Monday night (April 8). Sitting at a table in the picture, too, is Police Chief Scott Anderson. A painting of the late City Manager Hardy R. Dean Sr. is on the wall above the two city department leaders.

Story and Photo By Jeff M. Hardison © April 9, 2024 at 7:15 p.m.
All Copyrights Protected By Federal Civil Law
Do Not Copy and Paste to Social Media or Elsewhere

     CHIEFLAND – Chiefland City Attorney Norm Fugate asked the City Commission on Monday night (April 8) to table a request regarding a 10-year contract extension with a company that will service the various giant elevated and non-elevated city water tanks in Chiefland.     Those tanks are a 200,000-gallon pedesphere elevated water storage tank; a 100,000-gallon Well #2 elevated water storage tank; a 50,000-gallon Well #1 elevated water storage tank; a 10,000-gallon Well #1 water storage tank; a 15,000-gallon Well #3 water storage tank; and a 10,000-gallon Well #4 water storage tank.
     A 10-year contract extension to paint the inside and outside of water tanks in Chiefland as well as to provide annual maintenance shows a cost by Southern Corrosion Inc. was tabled because the attorney wanted to look at it more carefully.
     The annual premium for years 11 through 20 of service is $44,165. The annual premium is to be paid each year within 30 days of the start of the annual agreement, the draft considered on Monday night showed.
     “All premiums are firm and will not be adjusted for inflation,” the offer to the city notes.
     Attorney Fugate questioned if Southern Corrosion Inc. was the same company the city contracted with before, and if this was a contract extension.
     Keene said the company was the same, even though it had changed its name since first contracting with the city. The city’s water and facilities manager said this rate receives his recommendation because paint and other costs are increasing, and to lock in this price for 10 years seems prudent.
     This matter is tentatively slated for discussion and possible action at the April 22 meeting, after City Attorney Fugate reviews it more closely.

Other News
     A Chiefland resident complained to the City Commission about the city’s Recreation Committee. It is not meeting regularly.
     City commissioners advised City Manager Laura Cain to collaborate with the attorney and staff to revise the methods for appointment to that committee, as well as its structure. There promises to be improvement to that city committee’s structure and functions in the future.
     The opening day ceremonies of the Chiefland Area Athletic Association’s baseball and softball season lacked an American flag to pledge to last Saturday (April 6), according to one man during the public participation part of the agenda.
     Although Strickland Recreational Park has hosted all-star baseball games in years past, it has been some time since that happened. The City Commission does not intrude into CAAA operations, however most residents and visitors of Chiefland would think the city would have an American flag available at the park.
     Despite the one man complaining about the missing flag and uniforms not being up to his standard at the City Commission meeting on Monday night, the athletic organization for Chiefland area youths appears to be functioning relatively well. 
     As for the city government’s recreation committee, it does not appear to be functioning.
     In still other City Commission news, City Commissioner LaWanda Jones corrected minutes from the previous meeting. Commission Jones said she voted “No” on the motion to increase fees for use at the Tommy Usher Community Center.
     Mayor Chris Jones was advised by the city attorney to better record votes to assure an accurate record is kept. The attorney let Commission Jones know that she cannot abstain from any vote unless she will see financial gain or loss as a result of her vote, or if there are other situations where the law allows her not to vote. If she does not vote on a matter, she must announce it and fill out a form.
     LaWanda Jones is the most recent member of the Chiefland City Commission. She is not related closely to Mayor Chris Jones.

 


Students Honored
Students Honored
Seen here are Chiefland Mayor Chris Jones and Kasen Coulter of Chiefland Elementary School. Coulter was among the students of the month, also known as Outstanding Student. Johan Sanchez of Chiefland Middle School and Jaxson Henderson of Chiefland High School were unable to attend the April 8 City Commission meeting where the mayor read why these three students were selected as Outstanding Students. The students are given certificates as well as gift certificates to Walmart, which are funded by one of the Rotary Clubs in Chiefland.

Students Honored
This framed Outstanding Student Award Certificate is from Oct. 6, 1997, when it was awarded to Lewrissa Gay, who later married and is now known as Lewrissa Johns. She is Chiefland City Commissioner Rissa Johns. Back when Commissioner Johns was at Chiefland High School in 1997, this certificate was signed by then Chiefland Mayor Kelby Andrews. The verbiage on the certificate is almost the same now -- almost 30 years later.
Photos By Jeff M. Hardison © April 9, 2024 at 3:30 p.m.
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Most Recent Filings for Election
Tri-County Area as of April 7
Candidates In three counties

 


Elder Options seeks volunteers
Information Provided By Kathy Dorminey of Elder Options
Published April 6, 2024 at 8 a.m.
     GAINESVILLE --
Elder Options is seeking mission-aligned individuals with a strong commitment to voluntarism and advocacy for seniors throughout our 16-county region.

Mission
     Elder Options’ mission is to ensure that communities have a trusted and unbiased place to turn for information, resources, and assistance. We advocate for and cooperatively work with communities to strengthen support systems and create new and innovative service options that focus on personal choice and independence.
     Elder Options works to identify the needs of older adults, adults with disabilities, and their caregivers, as well as develop plans to meet the growing needs of our community. We do this by providing some direct services, but we also contract with local agencies to deliver services. The services we contract out to local agencies are monitored regularly, ensuring good administration of funds.

Opportunities include
Board of Directors
     The Elder Options Board of Directors provides governance, guidance, and strategy to lead Elder Options in serving seniors, caregivers, and persons living with disabilities. One of our goals includes increasing community partnerships so we may serve more seniors, informal caregivers, and adults with disabilities. The Board meets quarterly at Elder Options headquarters in Gainesville, and also online via Zoom.
Advisory Council
     The Advisory Council meets quarterly to provide valuable feedback and information related to the communities within our 16-county service area.  Representatives should reside in the county that they will represent.  Volunteers are needed for the following counties -- Citrus, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hernando, Lake, Marion, Sumter, Suwannee and Union.
Transportation Disadvantaged Board
     Elder Options, your Aging & Disability Resource Center, is seeking volunteers to serve on the Transportation Disadvantaged Local Coordinating Board in Dixie County. Alternates are needed for many counties. These boards provide advice to Community Transportation Coordinators on the provision of transportation services for persons unable to transport themselves because of income, age, or disability. Meetings are held quarterly. Potential members should reside within the county in which they wish to serve.
     To ask questions or learn more about Elder Options, please contact Kathy Dorminey, dormineyk@agingresources.org or https://agingresources.org/.

 


Students Honored
Students Honored
Mayor Charles Goodman speaks to Xintong Lin, a second grader who attends Joyce Bullock Elementary School as Ariel M. Cardoso-Earick, a seventh grader who attends Williston Middle High School stands by on Tuesday night (April 2) in Williston City Hall.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © April 4, 2024 at 3 p.m.
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     WILLISTON –
Three students were honored by Williston Mayor Charles Goodman on Tuesday night (April 2).
     Ariel M. Cardoso-Earick, seventh grade, Williston Middle High School; Daisey Cifuentes, sixth grade, Williston Middle High School; and Xintong Lin, second grade, Joyce Bullock Elementary School all received the Outstanding Student certificates.
     Each child also received a certificate for a 14-inch, two-topping pizza from Domino’s of Williston.

Students Honored
Daisey Cifuentes, a sixth grader who attends Williston Middle High School, accepts her certificate as an Outstanding Student from Mayor Charles Goodman as the other two students honored at the City Council meeting of April 2 -- Ariel M. Cardoso-Earick and Xintong Lin stand by.

Students Honored
Mayor John Goodman stands behind the Students of the Month on April 2. The Outstanding Students are honored for their academic excellence, leadership, citizenship and attendance at their schools. The students are (from left) Daisey Cifuentes, Xintong Lin and Ariel M. Cardoso-Earick.

 


City renames dog pound
By Jeff M. Hardison © April 3, 2024 at 3:45 p.m.
     WILLISTON –
Williston renamed its 1-year-old facility for dogs and cats during the meeting Tuesday night (April 2).
     The facility is meant to provide opportunities so that this city will be a “no kill” municipality.
     Williston Animal Group, a dogs-only nonprofit, has a memorandum of understanding with the city now to use some of the shelter space at the new facility.
     To read the April 29, 2023 story, and see the photos and video, click HERE.
     The name changed as of April 2 from being Williston Community Animal Rescue to now be named Williston Animal Shelter.
     In other news from that meeting concerning this facility, the City Commission voted to hire a full-time manager rather than its current practice of having two part-time workers.
     Publisher’s Note: The term ‘dog pound’ in the headline comes from an impound area for canines. Actually, this is a shelter for felines and canines, also known as cats and dogs; however, the concept of dog pound captures the idea of the place that no longer has “rescue” in its title.

 


Gilchrist County Jail
heading toward June opening
More correctional officers to be hired

Gilkchrist County
Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schutz is seen at the lectern in Trenton on Monday (April 1).

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By Jeff M. Hardison © April 3, 2024 at 7 a.m.
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     TRENTON – Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz told the Gilchrist County Commission Monday (April 1) that the new jail is progressing well, and it may house inmates as soon as June.
     Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Todd Holly, a leader in the detention division of the GCSO under the direction of Sheriff Schultz, was present at the County Commission meeting on Monday, too.
     As anticipated, more correctional jobs are happening soon at the jail as well.
     On a motion by County Commission Kendrick Thomas, seconded by Commission Vice Chairman Darrell Smith, there was a 5-0 vote of approval to move forward with action required to soon approve a budget request from the sheriff. Voting in favor of the Thomas-Smith motion were those two commissioners, and Commission Chairman Bill Martin, Commissioner Sharon Akins Langford and Commissioner Tommy Langford.

Gilkchrist County
Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Todd Holley listens as Sheriff Bobby Schultz speaks to the County Commission on Monday.

     Gilchrist County Clerk and Comptroller Todd Newton said he will follow the direction of the County Commission to create a budget revision of $144,892.36 so that the sheriff can hire four additional correctional officers for the Gilchrist County Jail.
     The sheriff explained in detail his position in requesting funding to detain Gilchrist County inmates at the jail rather than to continue paying Levy County and Dixie County to house the inmates from Gilchrist County arrests.
     The Gilchrist County Jail, other than the addition set for occupation as soon as June, is the second oldest operational county jail in all of Florida from among the state’s 68 counties, Sheriff Schultz said.
     Some current members of the Gilchrist County Commission, as well as some predecessors of the other commissioners during the past couple of decades, know there have been several workshops, meetings and discussions about the jail, financing construction of the soon-to-open new jail, and its operation.
     The sheriff told listeners that he is remaining vigilant to saving taxpayer money while keeping an eye toward the safety of Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office employees as well as following federal and state laws regarding the custody, care and control of inmates under his watch.
     The budget amendment for the remainder of this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, the sheriff said is for $144,892.36 so that he can hire the four additional correctional officers for the Gilchrist County Jail.
     “I promise you that I would not be here today asking you for any more money than what is needed,” Sheriff Schultz said.
     Discussion with the County Commission and County Clerk Newton showed that this was an anticipated expense since the choice to build the jail was finalized, although it had not been inked into the budget for this fiscal year yet.
     Even before the outset of the construction of the new jail, there was discussion about how many added correctional officers would be needed, and the number was higher than the four new employees that the sheriff mentioned on Monday.
     The sheriff said the new officers will start on May 1.
     While the new jail is anticipated to be up and running in June, the sheriff explained why he needs to hire people and pay them starting at least a month in advance of them working in the new jail.
     The new staff members will need to be trained in the existing computer network and other systems of the GCSO, he said. When the new jail opens, all staff members will need training on some of the different systems within it.
     And there is a need to properly vet the potential correctional officers. The sheriff must know that the new workers will fit in the team at the GCSO. Sheriff Schultz said he does not want to offer jobs to people, though, unless he knows there is funding to pay for them to actually perform their duties.
     Many lengthy previous discussions before ground was broken for the new jail included the money saved by Gilchrist County no longer needing to send inmates to jails in Levy County and Dixie County.
     “Right now, we are holding approximately 25 inmates in our jail,” Schultz said. “And another 25 are being outsourced to Dixie and Levy County.”
     In the next couple of months, Sheriff Schultz added, the number of inmates will increase as a result of arrests going up due to people being suspected of breaking laws during spring break and summer, and deputies finding probable cause to charge suspected offenders with crimes meriting incarceration.
     The sheriff said his 33 years of law enforcement experience combines with and a command staff at the GCSO with more than 130 years of experience. However, he said, even with all of those years of experience the venture of starting a new jail is not something that happens enough for people to be ready for all possible outcomes.
     He and his staff have utilized the best possible methods to determine staffing increase needs, Schultz said, while not spending any more tax dollars than required.
     “If it wasn’t something we needed,” he repeated, “I would not be here asking for it.”
     The sheriff said some years ago when the previous commissioners were at the dais, he made a promise to do everything he could do to save money and open this jail for occupancy.
     With these four added correctional officers, the whole staff for that 24-hour-a-day facility will be 20 employees, the sheriff said after asking Capt. Holley for confirmation.
     Gilchrist County Clerk Newton said the county spends about $36,000 a month to send its county jail inmates to Levy County and Dixie County. At that rate, in one year the cost would be more than $400,000.
     The clerk said that this offset was understood. Once the jail is open, the transition of funds being sent to the other two counties and then causing those inmates to remain in Gilchrist County is an offset that was considered as part of the financial factors in the decision to build the new jail.
     Gilchrist County Commission Chairman Martin said this is true, however he noted this is not going to be the end-all or cure-all for funding. There are expenses to operating a jail.
     All of the County Commission members on Monday mentioned they are pleased with their choice to have the sheriff operate the jail rather than the County Commission to run it.
     The sheriff said, years ago when Commission Todd Gray was among the Commission members, there was discussion of 10 or so more correctional officers needed. Sheriff Schultz said everyone agreed then that a new jail could not be constructed with the cost of that many added employees too.
     Schultz conferred with Holley to determine the fewest added officers and that is how the sheriff reached four as the number to start. He advised the County Commission, as he did years ago, there may be more staff members needed in the not-too-distant future, but hiring four now will give the sheriff and his team what is needed to start the new jail.
     County Attorney Lang and County Clerk Newton let the County Commission know the approval of the budget revision could not happen at the April 1 meeting, due to the people needing to be informed. This issue was not on the agenda that night; hence that action could not have been advertised before the first of two regular monthly meetings of the Gilchrist County Commission.
     The sheriff said he feels with the conversation of that April 1 meeting, nonetheless, that he feels assured enough to seek four more correctional officers and he will start seeking those new recruits now.

Gilkchrist County
Ryan Asmus, an engineer with North Florida Professional Services, explains how the Florida Department of Transportation determines recommended safe speeds for roads, streets and other throughways. 


Other Actions
     Among the several other items where the County Commission performed actions it felt would best serve the residents and visitors of Gilchrist County, it worked on an agreement with Verizon regarding a radio and cell phone tower.
     The County Commission decided Monday to seek a revision to the Second Amendment to a tower lease agreement with Verizon. In the current amended lease agreement, it is for a potential of eight renewals at five-year intervals to equal 40 years of an agreement.
     The revision sought by the County Commission will give the government an option to opt out of the agreement every five years, just as the current deal allows Verizon that potential.

Gilchrist County
Gilchrist County Administrator Bobby Crosby and County Attorney Duke Lang are seen during the action on late Monday afternoon (April 1) in Trenton.


Speed Limits
     Changing the speed limit on a section of paved road that is just over one mile in length led to a lot of discussion with input from several area residents. Some wanted a speed limit of 30 mph, which is the current maximum speed limit. Others wanted a 45 mph speed limit.
     Commissioner Thomas’ motion was to make the speed limit 40 mph and that was seconded by Commissioner Tommy Langford.
     Before reaching the compromise suggested by Thomas, County Manager Crosby spoke about input he had from owners of 27 parcels directly connecting to Northeast 60th Avenue, which leads to the entrance to Ginnie Springs, a privately owned park in Gilchrist County about 6.5 miles northwest of High Springs.
     There were 19 of those people who wanted it to remain at 30 mph.
     The other group who wanted it to increase to 45 mph was from 50 total parcel owners that have provided signatures. Crosby said 19 of the 50 parcel owners could be directly affected. There were 25 signatures reflected on the map he displayed during the meeting and there were 21 signatures not reflected on the map, because those properties were farther out than could be captured on a map to show them. There were four non-residents’ signatures seeking the 45 mph limit.
     Ryan Asmus, an engineer with North Florida Professional Services, explained how the Florida Department of Transportation determines recommended safe speeds for roads, streets and other throughways. Considering the thickness of oak trees and their distance from the edge of the road, considering the width of the road, curves and other factors, Asmus said the design speed recommended for the one mile and two-tenths of Northeast 60th Avenue is 35 mph.
     County Commissioner Sharon Langford asked, after Commissioner Thomas made his motion for 40 mph, which was seconded by Commissioner Tommy Langford, if the county could be held liable for injuries on a road that the Commission set a speed of 40 mph when the engineer showed 35 mph was the recommended speed.
     County Attorney Lang said unposted paved county roads have a maximum speed limit of 55 mph. And there was some commentary throughout the discussion about people going 70 mph in the zone current marked at 30 mph.
     Lang intimated that the County Commission is not stepping into dangerous territory by posting a limit of 35 mph on that stretch of road.
     Commissioners Smith said he was passed by other vehicles when he went on that road at 30 mph.
     As noted, Commissioner Thomas’ leadership showing that he continues to care about the people he has served as a county commissioner showed a logical answer reached unanimously by the five leaders.
     The County Commission again complained that no newspaper of record exists in Gilchrist County qualified to carry legal advertisements. The weeklies in Dixie County and Levy County, County Attorney Lang said, appear to not be read enough by the people of Gilchrist County. Therefore, the County Commission is planning to spend more money than the mandatory minimum to let people know about changes the government may make to speed limits, zoning and the like.
     Better signs may be posted in areas, and perhaps even mass mailings could occur as the county revises its methods to tell people about potential actions the elected leaders may take in certain realms.
     Apparently, when the speed limit on that road was dropped down to 30 mph, no one knew about it being proposed; therefore, no one showed up to complain or to rejoice. This time, even without a local newspaper of record, there was plenty of input from the people as they spoke to the few who rule.

 


 

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First Published Feb. 1, 2011 at 8 a.m.
     On Feb. 1, 2011, HardisonInk.com came into existence on the Internet. On All Saints Day - Nov. 1, 2011, The Christian Press section on The Life Page of HardisonInk.com started, which was about nine months after the start of the daily news website. The name "The Christian Press" was derived from an encounter a decade earlier in 2001 in St. Petersburg, when and where a man mentioned to a journalist that this particular journalist must work for "The Christian Press." Although the presumption by the man about that journalist was incorrect and misplaced, the name sounded good. And the journalist said that if he could work for The Christian Press, then that certainly would be the publication to serve.
     Since Nov. 1, 2011, The Christian Press section of this page has run daily devotionals from several individuals who contributed over the past years. There were two days in 2018 when the daily devotional did not run due to a journalist requiring emergency orthopedic surgery on broken bones in his left arm and wrist. That surgically added metal, though, makes that part of that arm even more able to withstand forces. Many daily devotionals are pulled from Strength for Service to God and Country (Whitmore & Stone © 1942; Renewed 1969 by Norman E. Nygaard; Second revised edition © 2002 Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, Providence House Publishers). The journalist who is the sole proprietor and owner of HardisonInk.com (Jeff M. Hardison) notes his appreciation for the use of those devotionals from that now-defunct publishing company, and for the many other contributors who have helped people over the past decade-plus now. Strength for Service to God and Country's daily devotionals include many from a time when the United States of America was a partner in a World War, both WWI and WWII. This journalist welcomes contributions of daily devotionals. Daily devotional authors are asked to please send only their original works to hardisonink@gmail.com. Americans are reminded that all religions, having no religion and or being a person who endorses anti-religion are all protected as part of the freedoms from government intervention, as are other benefits from being an American.

 


Friday, April 19, 2024 at 6:45 a.m.

THE BASIC BEATITUDE

Read Psalm 32; Isaiah 53; 1 Peter 2

     Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
     Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
-- Psalm 32:1-2 (KJV)


     A beatitude is a statement wherein blessedness is attributed upon certain conditions. There are a hundred of them in the Bible. Blessedness is more than happiness, for it has to do with the soul. Christ was always blessed, though not always happy. It means success in life at its highest. It is eternal. God is the “blessed” God, and we can be blessed.
     The foundation of all blessedness for us, as David found, is knowing that our sins are forgiven. Sin imprisons us. It keeps us away from God. When God grants pardon, freedom begins.
     Have you had the experience of the forgiveness of sin? It is a very great and very necessary experience. Seek it and obtain it. The way is made plain in Isaiah 55:7: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
     We are told the basis of this in 1 Peter 2:23: “[Christ] bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” The great peace of God will come into your heart when you thus have peace with the Eternal. Whether, then, you live or die, you are the Lord’s.
     COME TO GOD, as your Creator, Judge and Redeemer. Formulate your own prayer, and speak to Him directly in your own words. He is seeking you and will meet you. Be absolutely sincere, for He knows your deepest thoughts. Hold back nothing from Him that He may give Himself fully to you. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Earle V. Pierce
Former President
Northern Baptist Convention
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Strength For Service to God and Country
(Whitmore & Stone © 1942; Renewed 1969 by Norman E. Nygaard; Second revised edition © 2002 Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, Providence House Publishers)

 



Outdoor Truths Ministry
By Gary Miller © April 15, 2024 at 7 a.m.
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     There’s nothing like the sound of a gobble at daylight. If you’re close enough, it seems that it reverberates throughout the hollows and ridges. It will truly make you wide awake like nothing else. The method most of us use to cause a tom to gobble is by using some kind of shock call. For the non-turkey hunters, a shock call is simply a loud noise that is made that causes a gobbler to react to the sound by gobbling. There are also other calls that are used like an owl hoot. I’m not totally sure but I think the turkey despises the old hoot owl so much that when they hear one, they just fuss back at it by gobbling.  But whether you shock one or owl hoot or crow call, the results are the same; a turkey is located.
     It seems to me the old gobbler is a cantankerous bird. When something unexpected happens, he fusses. When some other creature wants to sing out, he fusses. When something is different or interrupts his normal routine, he fusses. But what he doesn’t realize is that by his responses and reactions he lets everyone know where he is. And in turkey hunting that’s good for the hunter and not good for him. He sort of reminds me of some people I know. They are fine when everything goes their way and when everything is as it should be, and when there are no unexpected interruptions or unplanned circumstances. But when something happens out of the ordinary, they fuss and complain. It may be the clerk at the grocery store who smashes his bread or the waitress at the restaurant who gets his order wrong, but again, the results are the same.
     What he doesn’t realize is that by his actions he is letting everyone know where he is. He is telling the world around him that what you see might not be what you get. He is telling everyone what is really inside. I think he forgets about his own imperfections and his own mental lapses. He seems to demand more from others than he does from himself. I hope you’re not that way because the true test of Christian character is not how we act during the expected but how we react when we are shocked by the unexpected.

 -- Gary Miller  gary@outdoortruths.org

     Gary Miller has written the Outdoor Truths articles for 20-plus years now. He also has written four books which include compilations of his articles and a father/son devotional. He speaks at wild-game dinners and men's events for churches and associations. Gary Miller's website is located at http://www.outdoortruths.org/.
 


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