THURSDAY JAN. 27 7:11 a.m. Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties
Southbound semi nips school bus
No injuries reported
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 26, 2022 at 7:11 a.m.
SUWANNEE COUNTY – A southbound semi tractor-trailer and a Suwannee County school bus both lost side mirrors when they passed too closely to each other Tuesday morning (Jan. 23), but no injuries were reported, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
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The semi was southbound on Suwannee County Road 49 negotiating a right curve at 87th Road at 7:35 a.m. on Jan. 25, the FHP noted in a press release based on information from crash investigator FHP Trooper J. Kastor. The semi was driven by a 57-year-old man from Lake Park, Georgia.
The northbound Suwannee County school bus was negotiating a left curve, which was the same curve but it was a left curve for that driver because she was northbound, the FHP said. The school bus was driven by a 21-year-old Lake City woman, the FHP said.
As the two vehicles passed, each of their driver side rear view mirrors collided with one another, the FHP said.
After impact, both vehicles came to a controlled stop on the east side of CR 49, the FHP said.
The school bus was occupied by 35 children, in addition to the driver. There was only the driver in the semi, the FHP said.
There was only minor damage to both vehicles, and there were no injuries reported.
As of May of 2020, the Florida Highway Patrol stopped providing names of people and some other information from crashes as part of its press releases.
Prior to May of 2020, the FHP formerly provided that information via those public records in its press releases.
The FHP and some other law enforcement agencies in Florida are abiding by a version of something known as “Marcy’s Law” of California, which is allegedly used to protect victims of crimes. The Florida version of “Marcy’s Law” was adopted after Florida voters chose to change the Florida Constitution to exempt more public records from view.
Although not every vehicle crash involves crime victims, which may have been the legislative intent of the Florida version of “Marcy’s Law” approved by voters, the FHP adopted its current blanket exclusion of some information as part of its process in sending press releases.
Although the FHP adopted this new practice, not every law enforcement agency has done so.
For instance, the Chiefland Police Department, the St. Petersburg Police Department and the Ocala Police Department all have provided crash information in press releases or traffic crash reports, except when there is an actual victim of a crime, as demonstrated in the reports provided to the press since the onset of the FHP’s revision in its press release practices in May of 2020.
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Deputy shoots woman
This is a view of the hospital where the shooting happened this morning (Jan. 25).
Story and Photo Provided
By MCSO Public Information Office
Updated Jan. 26, 2022 at 4:11 p.m.
OCALA – On Tuesday (Jan. 25), at approximately 1:20 a.m., Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) deputies attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a vehicle on Southwest College Road.
The driver -- Yailisse Isabell Canizares, 22, of Ocala -- refused to stop and a pursuit was initiated. During the pursuit, the driver called 9-1-1 and stated she was suicidal and going to AdventHealth Ocala, a hospital.
During the pursuit, deputies observed that the driver was armed with a firearm that she was pointing at her head. The pursuit ended at AdventHealth, where the driver parked her vehicle near an entrance to the hospital.
Deputies gave the driver commands to stay inside of her vehicle but despite these commands the driver exited her vehicle, carrying a gun. She began running toward an entrance to the hospital.
Deputies continued to give the driver repeated commands to stop but she refused to comply. Ultimately, a shot was discharged by a deputy and the driver was struck.
Deputies immediately summoned medical aid for the driver. She is now being treated at a local hospital where she is in critical condition.
The suspect has been released from the hospital.
Canizares has been charged with felony offenses, including fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer (while armed with a firearm) and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony. at the time of these offenses, she was on pretrial release for possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.
She is being held without bond, according to records.
At the time of these offenses, the driver was on pretrial release for possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.
No law enforcement officers were injured during this incident. The Ocala Police Department provided assistance to the MCSO in attempting to stop the driver during the pursuit and in securing the scene of the shooting.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has responded to conduct its investigation of the incident and is receiving the full cooperation of the MCSO.
Federal judge rules
attorney stays on the case
By John Koch of Independent News Services (INS)
Published Jan. 24, 2022 at 4:11 p.m.
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA (INS) -- No change in counsel is needed in the corruption case involving former Third Judicial Circuit State Attorney Jeff Siegmeister and attorney M. Michael O’Steen.
Joel B. Toomey, a United States magistrate judge, denied the government’s motion to disqualify Mitchell Stone as O’Steen’s attorney in this federal criminal case.
The government cited a conflict of interest in requesting the disqualification as Stone previously represented Kelly Mathis in a trial.
Mathis has been identified as a witness against O’Steen and Siegmeister. Siegmeister is charged with bribery for reducing a pair of DUI (driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs) charges in return for a discount on a tractor purchase in a separate case involving Ernest Maloney Page IV, a Madison County attorney, who pled guilty in September of 2020.
The federal indictment against Siegmeister claims that while serving as legal guardian for an elderly Columbia County man, the victim was defrauded of nearly $1 million in property and stock, transferring the assets to Siegmeister, and making a family member the beneficiary.
Siegmeister is also charged with filing false tax returns. In April, Siegmeister pled not guilty to all the charges but, if convicted, could face a life term in a federal prison. Siegmeister remains in custody after being arrested in Arizona last year.
The trial involving O’Steen and Siegmeister is set to commence on Feb. 7. A status conference for the case is scheduled for today (Monday, Jan. 24) in Jacksonville. O’Steen has remained free on bail pending trial.
O’Steen, who has an office in Cross City, serves as the attorney for the Dixie County Board of County Commissioners and the Dixie County School Board.
LCSO busts alleged
tent-dwelling sex offender and others
Mug Shot Provided By LCSO
By Jeff M. Hardison
© Jan. 21, 2022 at 4:11 p.m.
BRONSON – A 40-year-old man who is described as an over-the-road truck driver and who was reportedly living in a tent near Bronson is incarcerated now, according to information sent via email from the Levy County Sheriff’s Office.
Christopher Hahn, 40, is the top of the list of suspects arrested in what the LCSO has titled Operation Safe Haven, according to a press release from LCSO Lt. Scott Tummond, public information officer.
Hahn was an absconded sex offender from Duval County, Tummond said. Hahn claimed to live at an address in Levy County when he was question by a law enforcer in another jurisdiction, Tummond said. He had been recently released from prison and failed to appear for his second registration appointment in Jacksonville, Tummond said.
LCSO detectives found Hahn had been living in a tent on a vacant parcel of land near Bronson, Tummond said, and this was unbeknownst to law enforcement officers or the general public.
As officer searched, Hahn was not immediately found on the property, Tummond said, and he had made no attempt to register this location as his place of residence.
As an over-the-road truck driver and since Hahn had absconded, Tummond said LCSO detectives learned the man had visited approximately 20 other states.
Detectives secured a warrant for Hahn’s arrest, Tummond said, and the LCSO requested the assistance of the United States Marshals Service (USMS) Fugitive Task Force.
The USMS oversees the nation's regional fugitive task forces, established under the Presidential Threat Protection Act of 2000, as noted by the USMS. The USMS currently leads 56 local fugitive task forces. The majority of the task forces are full-time efforts; however, additional task forces are formed on an ad-hoc basis, in response to specific cases, as noted by the USMS.
Funding for these task forces is often granted through initiatives such as the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Forces and Project Safe Neighborhoods task forces, as noted by the USMS.
Federal agents with the USMS Fugitive Task Force located and apprehended Hahn at a truck stop in West Virginia, Tummnd said, and he was taken into custody.
As for “Operation Safe Haven,” Tummond said, “it was named by and for the hard and diligent work of the LCSO Sex Offender Unit, which completed nine arrests during its almost two months of operations.”
The suspects were arrested for various sex offender registration violations, Tummond said. The operation hard work in locating and verifying sex offenders’ addresses and ensuring all other state-mandated registration requirements for convicted sex offenders living in Levy County were within compliance, Tummond said.
In addition to the capture of Hahn, the eight other arrests made during this operation are: Jerome Clemons, 44, of Trenton; Karen “Terry” Edwards, 50, of Chiefland; Anthony Hutto, 50, of Bronson; Fredrick Carpenter, 55, of Chiefland; Michael Farley, 66, of Morriston; Alexander Clary, 63, of Williston; Steven Stacy, 38, of Williston; and Nicole Down, 42, of Cedar Key.
“The hard and dedicated work these detectives invested into this operation is evident,” Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum said. “Sex offenders who choose to live in Levy County will not be allowed to simply disappear. Our detectives will guarantee they are living by the requirements the state has mandated and if they do not, we will arrest them.”
Fire destroys Cross City house
Man hospitalized with burns
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 21, 2022 at 4:11 p.m.
CROSS CITY – A fire on Jan. 18 at 85 S.E. 301 St. in Cross City destroyed a house and resulted in a victim being hospitalized, according to records provided by Dixie County Emergency Services Division Chief of Operations Roy Bass when those records were requested.
The alarm for a building fire went off at 1:41 a.m., according to records. There was emergency service on the way at 1:44 a.m., according to records.
The first unit reached the destination at 1:49 a.m., according to records. The last unit cleared the scene at 9:58 a.m., according to records.
There were five apparatus used for fire suppression and that included seven personnel. Three EMS apparatus were used with six personnel. Two other apparatus with two other personnel responded as well.
This was a residence.
The lead crew member was Dixie County Emergency Services Lt. Mandy Lemmermen.
The single structure residential structure was fully involved when the first unit arrived, according to records. A van had been parked in the front yard and was exposed to high heat, causing it to catch fire on the driver side.
Due to a lack of water supply at the site, and with heavy fire load conditions from the structure being of lighter knot, the fire knockdown was impeded, according to records.
Tankers came from District 21 and 31, and a mutual aid request was made to Fanning Springs Volunteer Fire Department for another tanker, that was used as a water shuttle, according to records.
A man in the structure suffered second and third degree burns and was taken to Shands.
Joining Lt. Lemmermen in fire and EMS efforts, including Fire Investigator James Golden, were Dennis McCullers Sr., Dennis McCullers Jr., Mark Foss, William Garner, John Pendarvis, Brandon Mikel, Anne Roberson, Paul Gonzalez, Jessica Hatch, John Brown, Matthew Ferguson, Anthony Reid, Ira Hayes, Jason Vengas, Kenneth Kurth and Andrew English.
OPD arrests three suspected thieves
used stolen credit cards
Photos Provided By Jeff Walczak, Public Information Officer, Ocala Police Department
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 19, 2022 at 3:11 p.m.
OCALA – Three women in their thirties went to jail after allegedly stealing and committing fraud, according to information in a press release from Ocala Police Department (OPD) Public Information Officer Jeff Walczak.
OPD Det. K. Kern recently arrested Jessica Spano, 37, of Ocala, Kiana Stanton, 34, of Springfield, Oregon, and Bikita Forestal, 32, of Fort Lauderdale for organized fraud.
On Jan. 3, OPD investigated a car burglary where the back window of a victim’s vehicle was broken. A $500 designer backpack containing several credit cards was stolen, Walczak said. The thieves then fraudulently used the cards at a number of stores, collectively charging more than $8,600, Walczak said.
Det. Kern reviewed video surveillance from the stores and saw the individuals who made the fraudulent purchases. Det. Kern also saw the vehicle used by the suspected thieves and fraudsters, Walczak said.
On Jan. 13, Det. Johan Quintero investigated another car burglary, where the front window was broken and the victim's purse containing credit cards was stolen, Walczak said. While at the scene, that victim's bank sent a phone alert that one of her cards was being used at a nearby store, Walczak said.
OPD officers responded to the location, found the suspected culprits, and were arrested, Walczak said.
Deputy shoots suspected killer
Daniel Arthur Redman
Mug Shot By CCSO
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 16, 2022 at 9:11 a.m.
CITRUS COUNTY – A deputy with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office shot a suspected killer Friday night (Jan. 14), according to information in a Jan. 15 CCSO press release. Daniel Arthur Redman, 29, who was just released from prison on Jan. 9, was shot by a CCSO deputy and was taken to a hospital for treatment, the CCSO said.
As is common practice with deputy-involved shootings, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement responded and is conducting an independent investigation into the incident. The deputy involved has been placed on administrative leave which is standard procedure, the CCSO said.
Activity leading to the shooting and arrest of Redman, the CCSO said, began on Jan. 14, at approximately 9 p.m., when deputies responded to a residence in the area of East Dawson Drive, in Inverness, in reference to a reported shooting.
Deputies saw a victim with apparent gunshot wounds lying on the driveway, the CCSO said.
Shortly thereafter, Emergency Medical Services personnel arrived and began treating the victim, the CCSO said.
The victim was taken by helicopter to a Marion County hospital for medical treatment and was later pronounced dead at the hospital, the CCSO said.
Witnesses told deputies the suspected shooter tried to break into their home before he fled on foot, the CCSO said. Deputies identified Redman as the suspect, the CCSO said. Deputies searched for the suspect with the assistance of a K-9 unit, the CCSO said.
Within minutes, the suspect was tracked to a motorhome approximately a quarter of a mile away, the CCSO said. Redman was seen holding another victim, with obvious injuries, as a hostage, the CCSO said.
Deputies commanded Redman to release the hostage, the CCSO said, and he eventually complied with that command.
Once the hostage was safe, the CCSO said, deputies ordered Redman to show them his hands. Redman refused to comply and reached behind his back towards his waistband, the CCSO said.
After failing to comply with other verbal commands, and fearing for the safety of others, a deputy shot the suspect one time, the CCSO said. Deputies immediately secured Redman and rendered first aid, until he was transported to a hospital for medical treatment, the CCSO said.
"In what has proven to be a terrifying night for our community, the immediate actions of our deputies saved other victims from further terror caused by this convicted felon," Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast said. "Thanks to our deputies' quick thinking and superior performance, they were able to protect our community from further harm."
Charges against Redman are pending in this case, which is still under investigation, the CCSO said.
Police and fire banquet
puts two years into one event
Williston Mayor Jerry Robinson (left) and Police Chief Dennis Strow confer before the awards banquet starts on Friday night (Jan. 7).
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 9, 2022 at 1:11 p.m.
All Rights Reserved
WILLISTON – Fire Chief Lamar Stegall and Police Chief Dennis Strow put both the 2020 and 2021 award recipients for their departments to be honored into one night on Friday (Jan. 7).
With the 2020 annual banquet having been cancelled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, they chose to recognize the everyone who earned recognition for both years – 2020 and 2021.
Both chiefs shared insight about each recipient and how they valued the contributions each person made to the help the city’s residents and visitors. The fire department’s jurisdiction includes the unincorporated part of Levy County beyond the city limits.
Likewise, all of the men and women on the Williston Police Department and Williston Fire Rescue have positive impacts beyond the geographic limits of their residences and work sites.
Chief Stegall said there are things that can put the fear of God into anyone, but the people go right into the mix to help others. The chief said he thanks every one of them, personally, for the job they do every day and every night.
The chief said the people who earned these special honors presented that night earned the awards, as they are present in the time of need.
This is just a small sample, however, of the men and women in both departments.
“You might see a police officer or a firefighter that doesn’t receive an award,” Stegall said. “But they are out there every day and every night protecting us. For that, I thank you.”
Mayor Jerry Robinson and Fire Chief Lamar Stegall are seen before the start of the awards ceremony.
Among the many guests are (from left) Monica Cox, Williston City Councilman Michael Cox, City Manager Jackie Gorman, and City Council President Debra Jones. Also present at the banquet was City Council Vice President Marguerite Robinson. Council members Elihu Ross and Darfeness Hinds were absent from the event.
Williston City Clerk Latricia Wright (left) is seen with Yuchevia Wade and Johnny Wade at the event.
(from left) Assistant Fire Chief Jimmy Willis Jr., Police Chief Dennis Strow and Fire Chief Lamar Stegall stand on stage in preparation for the event.
WPD Sgt. Dave Johnson accepts a piece of birthday cake, as everyone in the audience sang Happy Birthday To You. Chief Strow shared with the audience that the sergeant heralded the day as marking a point where he had been on the Earth and traveled around the Sun for yet another lap on his life’s journey. The budget could not fund a whole cake for everyone to enjoy, Chief Strow said, but the sergeant was given his own piece of cake with a lit candle, which he blew out.
2020 Firefighter Of The Year Jared Caswell
2020 Firefighter Of The Year Jared Caswell (center) went above and beyond the call of duty, Chief Stegall said. In addition to building his own house, Caswell worked at his regular job as well as being a volunteer like all other firefighters in Willison. And this firefighter worked diligently to assure the ISO rating for Williston remained at four. That rating helps reduce homeowner insurance costs within the city. He works on obtaining grants for the WFR and has obtained $70,000 worth of bunker gear at no cost to the city. He is flanked by Assistant Chief Jimmy Willis Jr. (left) and Chief Lamar Stegall.
2021 Firefighter Of The Year Richard Grajek
2021 Firefighter Of The Year Richard Grajek (center) became an instrumental part of the WFR, Chief Stegall said, after he joined the team a few years ago. Chief Stegall said that firefighters Grajek gets things done. Beyond that, when there is pandemonium in the fire station, he can bring calm. This state-certified firefighter-EMT not only works his regular 40 hour at another job, but he comes in to go above and beyond to help the residents and visitors of Williston. Assistant Chief Jimmy Willis Jr. and Chief Lamar Stegall.
2020 Police Officer Of The Year Stacey Hunter
Chief Strow said it was difficult to decide the 2020 Officer Of the Year because COVID-19 forced all first responders to have to step up their degree of service. Through the year, WPD 2020 Police Officer Of The Year Stacey Hunter helped keep everyone’s spirits lifted Strow said. “She assured everybody that it is going to be O.K.” She is flanked by Deputy Police Chief Terry Bovaird (left) and Police Chief Dennis Strow.
2021 Police Officer Of The Year Sgt. Mike Rolls
WPD 2021 Police Officer Of The Year Sgt. Mike Rolls is relatively new to Williston although he is not new to law enforcement, having more than 30 years of experience so far, Chief Strow said. Sgt. Rolls smile and enthusiasm is extremely contagious, Strow said, as he has infused himself into the community. He is a liaison between the WPD and several groups and is even a member of the Ministerial Faith Alliance. He is flanked by Deputy Police Chief Terry Bovaird (left) and Police Chief Dennis Strow.
2020 Fire Officer Of The Year Capt. Kenny Maddox
2020 Fire Officer Of The Year Capt. Kenny Maddox has demonstrated professionalism to the department and the community, Chief Stegall said. He has shown his dedication to leadership and made valuable contributions to his fellow firefighters to keep the department running smoothly. He is flanked by Assistant Chief Jimmy Willis Jr. (left) and Chief Lamar Stegall.
2021 Fire Officer Of The Year Lt. Brent Stegall
2021 Fire Officer Of The Year Lt. Brent Stegall has grown in leadership as he will take new firefighters under his wing, the chief said. Chief Stegall said his son holds a special place in his heart as he has watched him mature in the fire service. The chief said he has a heart to help. He is flanked by Assistant Chief Jimmy Willis Jr. (left) and Chief Lamar Stegall.
WPD 2020 Civilian Of The Year Wayne Carson
Chief Strow said WPD 2020 Civilian Of The Year Wayne Carson is not only the code enforcement officer and the animal control officer of the city, but “He is the MacGyver of Williston.” Whatever needs to be done, Carson can do it. While some police officers can point out people who they recognize as a burglar, etc., when Carson hears about a brown and white Chihuahua on a certain street, he can say where that dog lives and who owns it, Strow said. Carson knows the city inside and out, Strow said, and the level of his help to the community is unmeasurable. He is flanked by Deputy Police Chief Terry Bovaird (left) and Police Chief Dennis Strow.
WFR 2020 Civilian Of The Year Danny Wallace was absent from the banquet due to recent surgery. Chief Stegall mentioned that the WFR Civilian Of The Year is picked each year by the firefighters, and not the chiefs. The person who is selected is usually chosen for going above and beyond the call of duty to help their fellow firefighters.
WPD 2021 Civilian Of The Year John Salmeier
WPD 2021 Civilian Of The Year John Salmeier is not only a dependable dispatcher, Chief Strow, but he serves in many other roles as called upon, including being the DJ at this very banquet. Another important duty, Strow said, is as Santa’s Helper. He is flanked by Deputy Police Chief Terry Bovaird (left) and Police Chief Dennis Strow.
WFR 2021 Civilian Of The Year Brooke Willis
WFR 2021 Civilian Of The Year Brooke Willis is not a firefighter, Chief Stegall noted, but she spends more time working with firefighters more than anyone else in the department. She treats all of the firefighters as if they were her own children, he said, including her husband Assistant Chief Jimmy Willis Jr.
2021 Rookie Firefighter Of The Year Evan Miller
2021 Rookie Firefighter Of The Year Evan Miller is known for his dedication, Chief Stegall said. He accepts learning old and new ways of best serving as a firefighter. Miller also just passed his national board testing to be a paramedic as well, Stegall said. The 2020 Rookie Firefighter Of The Year is Eduardo Ignacio-Simon.
2020 Reserve Police Officer Of The Year Sgt. David Drennan was absent from the banquet due to an illness in the family. Sgt. Drennan, like the other reserve police officers, volunteer their time to help the WPD with their experience from when they served as a paid law enforcement officer from before this point in their lives. He came out of retirement to cover shifts when needed, which saves the taxpayers a lot of money that would be spent on overtime
2021 Reserve Police Officer Of The Year Sgt. James Bond
2021 Reserve Police Officer Of The Year Sgt. James Bond works his normal job 40 hours or more a week, Chief Strow said, and yet Bond volunteers countless hours to help the WPD, even after having retired from the department. He especially helps on weekends and holidays, the chief said. He is flanked by Deputy Police Chief Terry Bovaird (left) and Police Chief Dennis Strow.
2020 Communications Officer Of The Year Melanie Coleman
2020 Communications Officer Of The Year Melanie Coleman has shown her professionalism and dedication, as well as her continual improvement for her profession led the chiefs to select Coleman. Chief Stegall mentioned her heart of service to others is clear from her years of public service to help the community in several fields, including as a CNA and by working in the Florida Department of Corrections. Communications officers dispatch for both the fire department and the police department. Police Chief Dennis Strow is seen here with Coleman. Fire Chief Lamar Stegall was accidently out of the shot. (Sorry about that, chief.)
2021 Communications Officer Of The Year Colleen Stevens
2021 Communications Officer Of The Year Colleen Stevens was hired in 2014 and achieved the rank as a communication supervisor. She always strives to improve the department and the WPD and WFR, Stegall said. She performs many duties, including serving as a dispatcher and keeping records for the WPD that are needed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. She is seen here with both Police Chief Dennis Strow and Fire Chief Lamar Stegall.
2020 Most Improved Firefighter Cody Murphy
Fire Chief Lamar Stegall said Fire Team Leader Cody Murphy has grown as a firefighter and as a leader, and that is significant to the chief. He works with the younger firefighters and teaches them. Murphy jokes about everything, Chief Stegall said. He is flanked by Assistant Chief Jimmy Willis Jr. (left) and Chief Lamar Stegall.
2021 Most Improved Firefighter Aaron McCormick
2021 Most Improved Firefighter Aaron McCormick has become very dependable on calls and is a success story where he has improved his life in service to the community. He is also a paramedic.
2021 Auxiliary Police Officer Of The Year
Auxiliary Police Officer Jimmy Willis Sr. was recognized for the thousands of hours he gives to the community. He is flanked by Deputy Police Chief Terry Bovaird (left) and Police Chief Dennis Strow.
WPD 2021 Distinguished Voluntary Service
The Rev. Charlz Caulwell
The Rev. Charlz Caulwell has earned recognition for his service for many years. He is often selected for recognition for his works.
Police Chief Dennis Strow said the pastor serves as the chaplain for the WPD. Caulwell led the prayer for the blessing of the meal at the banquet. Caulwell is seen all over Williston and Bronson, Strow said, including as he helps children to safely cross streets before and after school. Here, he is flanked by Deputy Police Chief Terry Bovaird (left) and Police Chief Dennis Strow.
2020 Call Of The Year
The Call Of The Year Award is for excellence in service in response to an emergency situation. The 2020 Call Of The Year recipients are Assistant Chief Jimmy Willis Jr., Capt. Daniel Smith, Field Training Leader Jared Caswell, and firefighters Richard Grajek, Ross Gauthier and Ryker Gauthier. They responded to a single vehicle that had hit a tree at Northeast 150th Avenue and 100th Street. The extrication took 50 minutes, Chief Stegall said, when an average WFR extrication takes 10 minutes. These men had a lot of care that was needed to assure survival of the victim being saved. The man had crash six hours earlier, before he was seen.
2021 Call Of The Year
Recipients of the 2021 Call Of The Year were Chief Lamar Stegall, Capt. Daniel Smith, Field Training Leader Jared Caswell, Field Training Leader Cody Murphy, and firefighters Ross Gauthier, Richard Grajek and Chad Williams, with honorable mention for Capt. Kenny Maddox, Levy Rescue 10 Paramedic. This is from a motor vehicle accident where three vehicles were involved, and the extrication included one from an upside down vehicle and one from a right-side up vehicle at Southeast U.S. Highway 41 and 11th Place. Both patients were out within 30 minutes, and they were taken by helicopter to a hospital.
Years Of Service
Mayor Jerry Robinson speaks about Williston Fire Chief Lamar Stegall being the longest-serving fire chief in the city’s history. Chief Stegall has been with the Williston Fire Department for 27 years now.
Williston Fire Chief Lamar Stegall received special recognition during the 2021 banquet for his 27 years of continuous service on the Williston Fire Rescue Department. Mayor Jerry Robinson gave the chief a certificate.
Chief Stegall mentioned that the average age of a firefighter is 24 years old as he helped put into perspective his experience with the other men and women who have served over the past few decades with this department.
Some of the recipients of awards for years of service are seen here. Other people on the WPD and WFR who were relatively quickly honored for their years of service were: 15 years of service – Capt. Daniel Smith, Sgt. Michael Bracaglia and John Salmeier; 10 years of service – Capt. Kenny Maddox, Lt. Tony Moos, Field Training Leader Cody Murphy, Lt. Thomas Ratchford and Lt. Brent Stegall; Five years of service – Firefighter Matthew Batton, Field Training Leader Timothy Berrios, and firefighters Todd Peacock, Richie Sookhan and Chad Williams.
A plaque of appreciation is presented to Catrina Sistrunk for the Williston Woman’s Club for its support of the WPD and WFR. Standing with her are Police Chief Dennis Strow (center) and Fire Chief Lamar Stegall.
Robert Davis of Light Bar Ministries reminded the members of the WPD and WFR that while they help others, when they need to speak with someone, they should reach out for support for them. Post-traumatic stress, Davis noted can lead some people to have thoughts of suicide. He urged all of the dispatchers, officers and firefighters to take a bible available at the banquet, which is especially for helping first responders find spiritual guidance and support. Beyond that, Davis reminded them all to reach out and speak to someone if they are feeling stressed.
Deputy Looks For Metal
Deputy Scott Osteen of the Dixie County Sheriff’s Office is among the DCSO staff members who are helping Sheriff Darby Butler bring the Dixie County Courthouse to a better standard of safety. Seen here on Thursday morning (Jan. 6), Deputy Osteen is holding a metal-detecting device. Visitors to the Dixie County Courthouse have one entrance now. It is at the door near the office of Dixie County Tax Collector Michelle F. Cannon. That door is on the southwest corner. After Sheriff Butler installs the planned machinery, and a parking lot is completed on the eastern side of the courthouse, people will enter the structure through that door – at the southwest corner of the courthouse (near the public entrance to the Dixie County Board of County Commissioners’ meeting room.
Photo By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 8, 2022 at 3:11 p.m.
Murderer sentenced to life in prison
Johnny Tadree Turner
Mug Shot by LCSO
By Jeff M. Hardison
© Jan. 8, 2022 at 3:11 p.m.
BRONSON -- Every person accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty through the legal system in the United States of America.
A 27-year-old Lakeland man will spend the rest of his life in the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) Prison System from a murder and home invasion he committed on May 2, 2016, according to information provided in a Jan. 7 press release from the Levy County Sheriff's Office.
On Wednesday (Jan. 5), Johnny Tadree Turner, 27, of Lakeland, entered a plea of guilty to the charges of first degree murder and home invasion robbery with a firearm, when Turner stood before Eighth Judicial Circuit Court Judge William Davis in the Levy County Courthouse.
This case had aggravating factors, which led the honorable Judge Davis to impose the sentence of life in prison upon Turner.
It was May 2, 2016, when deputies with the Levy County Sheriff’s Office responded to a reported home invasion robbery in Morriston.
Morriston is a census-designated place in Levy County, a bit south of the City of Williston.
LCSO detectives investigated the robbery, the LCSO said.
That robbery had turned violent and resulted in the death of Francisco De Jesus Soto, who was 31 at the time.
Turner was identified as the murdering robber through forensic evidence collected at the scene, the LCSO said. Turner booked into the Levy County Jail on Nov. 18, 2016, charged with first degree murder and home invasion robbery with a firearm. He has remained at that detention facility with no bond since his arrest, the LCSO said.
Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum said the decision Turner made to enter his guilty was in part due to the excellent and exhaustive work completed by the LCSO deputies and detectives during this investigation.
The volume of evidence identifying Turner as the murderer was undeniable, the LCSO said. The open plea of guilty saved hours and the expense of a jury trial.
“We hope that the family of Mr. Soto can now be comforted knowing that justice has been served,” Sheriff McCallum said.
Trooper At Night
A Florida Highway Patrol vehicle is seen near another sedan on U.S. Highway 19, south of Chiefland on Tuesday night (Jan. 4) at about 8. Both cars are facing north and are on the eastern side of the road, immediately north of Levy County Road 347. The pitch darkness of the night surrounds them as the state law enforcement officer performs his duty.
Photo By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 5, 2020 at 7:11 p.m.
Published Jan. 24, 2022 at 5:11 p.m.
Here, Goldy (the now late) cat Hardison (Aug. 12, 2009-Aug. 25, 2021)
plays dead - her signature trick. She was among the great cats of the world.
Cat training and video
By Jeff M. Hardison
© 2012-2021 All Rights Reserved
Here Inky the cat Hardison performs three Olympic jumps to rival the athletes in Brazil in 2016. Wait for it -- JUMP!
Cat training and video
By Jeff M. Hardison
© 2011-2019 All Rights Reserved
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