HardisonInk.com

--UPDATED--
TUESDAY  MARCH 2  4:11 p.m.  Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties


Tuesday tazing and arrest
ends flight of repeat felon

Felon arrested in Bronson Florida

 

 

 


Gary Roy Thunquest
Mug Shot By LCSO

 

 

By Jeff M. Hardison
© March 2, 2021 at 4:11 p.m.
     BRONSON –
A 53-year-old Bronson man with a lengthy record of felonies and prison sentences was taken into custody today (Tuesday, March 2), according to Levy County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Scott Tummond.
     Gary Roy Thunquest, 53, of Bronson is charged with aggravated battery, felony domestic battery by strangulation, and resisting officer without violence as well as failure to register as a sex offender, Tummond said.
     Combined initial bonds were set at $150,000 via the warrant served on Tuesday, Tummond said, but the resisting arrest and sex crime arrest will bump that bond amount up after Thunquest is arraigned and bond is set for those added charges.

 

 

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     This convicted felon’s most recent actions leading to charges, Tummond said, started on Feb. 27, after LCSO deputies responded to 12151 N.E. 88 Lane in Bronson to a reported domestic battery.
     The victim told deputies she had been battered by her live in boyfriend – Thunquest during an argument over money. The victim had been repeatedly choked, kicked and struck with a chair. As a result of this attack the victim was hospitalized with broken bones, Tummond said.
     LCSO deputies and detectives were unable to locate Thunquest who fled the home prior to their arrival, Tummond said.
     On Monday (March 1), detectives secured an arrest warrant for Thunquest for the charges of aggravated battery and felony domestic battery by strangulation, Tummond said.
     Thunquest has a lengthy criminal history and has amassed 27 felony convictions since beginning his criminal misconduct in 1986. His convictions include burglary, grand theft, drug possession, weapons possession, aggravated battery, robbery, sex crimes and escape, Tummond said.
     Thunquest has been sentenced to the Florida Department of Corrections nine times, Tummond said.
     Detectives located and arrested Thunquest at his home on 88th Lane early this morning (Tuesday, March 2).
     Thunquest did not go quietly. He fought with detectives and as a result, detectives had to use a Taser to safely take him into custody, Tummond said.
     Detectives discovered Thunquest, who is a convicted sex offender, had not complied with sex offender registration requirements by reporting his address since moving to Levy County, Tummond said.
     Detectives are added the charges of failure to register as a sex offender as required as well as resisting arrest. A bond of $150,000 was assigned to the warrant and additional bonds will be added during his first appearance for the newly added charges, Tummond said.


Train tags log truck
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 27, 2021 at 7:11 a.m.
     ALACHUA COUNTY –
A semi-tractor trailer with logs being the load on the trailer proved to be a bit longer than the driver might have thought, according to information in a Friday evening (Feb. 26) press release from the Florida Highway Patrol.
     The FHP is investigated a crash in the area of Southeast 122nd and U.S. Highway 301, involving a log truck.
     The truck was stopped at a stop sign on Southeast 122nd Lane, at the intersection of U.S. 301, facing east, the FHP said. As that vehicle was stopped, some of its logs partially obstructed a railroad track, the FHP said.
     A train hauling approximately 160 cars crossed Southeast 122nd Lane, as it went north and the train hit the logs that were in the way of its path, the FHP said.
     The impact caused the trailer to overturn, the FHP said, in the crash that happened at 2:16 p.m. on Friday.
     There were no injuries reported. The scene was cleared.
     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.
     The FHP formerly provided 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 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.
     Each year, more public records become excluded from public view in Florida.
     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 the blanket exclusion of some information as part of its process in sending press releases as it attempts to stay within the bounds of the law while providing the public with information relatively quickly.


Crash Report Purchasing
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Florida Crash Data
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Fatal hit-and-run
claims life of pizza delivery woman

By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 26, 2021 at 12:11 p.m.
     CITRUS COUNTY –
The Florida Highway Patrol is seeking help from the general public to locate the driver of a vehicle that hit and killed a pizza deliver woman, according to information from FHP Sgt. Steve Gaskins.

     It was Thursday night (Feb. 25) at 7:20 p.m. when the 45-year-old woman with an Inverness residential address was attempting to deliver pizzas, the FHP said.
     The sports utility vehicle she was driving was parked in the driveway of 6001 S. Cascade Ave., in Citrus County. The FHP said the SUV was partially in the roadway.
     As the driver was outside of the vehicle in an attempt to deliver pizzas, an unidentified vehicle going northbound on Cascade Avenue hit the open passenger side door of the SUV as well as hitting the pizza delivery woman, the FHP said.
     After the crash, the unidentified vehicle fled the scene of the crash, the FHP said.
     Airlifted to Ocala Regional Medical Center, the woman later died from injuries suffered during the crash, the FHP said.
     Anyone with information regarding the hit-and-run vehicle or the driver of that vehicle is asked to contact the FHP by calling 813-558-1800 or Crime Stoppers 888-ANY-TIPS 888-269-8477.

 


Florida Forest Service
provides water and meals to Texans

Florida Forest Service helps Texas
The night convoy of semi tractor-trailers reflects some of the level of help being given to Texas in the wake of its failed statewide electric grid due to cold weather.

Story and Photo Provided
By FDACS Office of Communications
Sent Feb. 25, 2021 at 4:33 p.m.
Published Feb. 26, 2021 at 11:11 a.m.
     TALLAHASSEE --
As the Florida Forest Service’s Green Incident Management Team begins its fourth day of operations at the Resource Staging Area (RSA) at Randolph Air Force Base Auxiliary Airport near San Antonio, Texas, the team continues to send trucks carrying water and meals to residents of more than 100 Texas counties.
     Through collaborative efforts with the Texas A&M Forest Service, the Texas Department of Emergency Management, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 202 trucks of water containing 3,434 pallets totaling 137,360 cases and 3,296,640 bottles of water have been sent out from the RSA as of Thursday (Feb. 25).
     Seventy-four trucks filled with Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) containing 2,484 pallets totaling 124,200 cases and 1,490,400 meals have also been sent out. To date, 66 counties throughout Texas have received water and 35 counties have received MREs. This 24-hour operation of the RSA supplies FEMA trucks with loads of water and MRE’s to deliver to counties throughout Texas.
     “Truckloads of water and meals continue to arrive at the RSA daily,” said Operations Section Chief Jason Longfellow. “Our priority is to coordinate and fill the orders that we receive from the Texas Department of Emergency Management and get these much-needed supplies out to the residents of Texas as soon as possible.”
     “Through the seamless, collaborative efforts of our partners, we are meeting the critical needs of residents throughout the State of Texas,” said Deputy Incident Commander Bryce Thomas. “So far, more than 100 counties have received the necessary supplies of food and water that they so desperately need.”
     “We continue to stand with the citizens of Texas who have suffered through life-threatening sub-zero temperatures, power outages, severely iced roads, and other emergencies. Our Green Incident Management Team, composed of our hardworking Florida Forest Service personnel, are working to get millions of meals and bottles of water get to communities in need while keeping emergency responders stay safe from COVID-19,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. “We thank our Florida Forest Service team for continuing to help our neighbors in Texas recover from this devastating natural disaster.”
     The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than one million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects wildfire on more than 26 million acres.

 


Murder suspect surrenders
Fred Williams suspected murderer Levy County


 

 

 

Fredrick Donnell Williams Jr.
 

 

 

 

 


Story and Mug Shots Provided
By Lt. Scott Tummond
Published Feb. 24, 2021 at 3:11 p.m.
     BRONSON --
At 8:15 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 23) Fredrick Donnell Williams Jr., 25, in the company of his attorney, surrendered himself to the Levy County Sheriff’s Office.
     Williams was taken into custody and booked in at the Levy County Detention Facility (Jail). He will be held with NO BOND for first degree premeditated murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The maximum penalty for this crime is death by execution.
      His surrender comes three days after the fatal shooting of Khajon Spikes in the parking lot of the Marathon BP station in Williston.


Suspected of helping a murderer
Sydney Carl Frasier Sr. (left) and Sydney Carl Frasier Jr.

     On Saturday (Feb. 20), LCSO deputies responded to a 9-1-1 call made to the Levy County E911 Center at 2:27 p.m.
     The caller told the 9-1-1 operator there had been a shooting at the Marathon gas station at the intersection of Levy County Road 318 and U.S. Alt. 27 in Williston. Deputies arrived to find Khajon “KJ” Lamont Spikes, 18, suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest. Spikes was pronounced dead on the scene.
     Detectives quickly identified that the suspect as being Williams Jr., and that he and Spikes were involved in an argument just prior to the shooting.
     Williams fired two rounds from a handgun and one struck Spikes in the chest. Williams fled the scene in a maroon Volkswagen passenger car -- going east on CR 318 toward Marion County.
     Detectives identified the driver of the car as Sydney Carl Frasier Jr., 28. Detectives began searching for the pair.
     Frasier, accompanied by his father Sidney Frasier Sr., turned himself in to authorities several hours later in Williston. Fraiser Jr. was taken into custody and arrested for accessory after the fact to first degree murder. He was booked in at the Levy County Detention Facility (Jail). His bond has been set at $250,000.
     Detectives learned Williams had fled to Ocala with Frasier, who dropped him off at an undisclosed location. Williams is presumed to have met with another person who aided him by taking him out of this area.
     Williams is still at large and presumed armed and dangerous.
     On Sunday (Feb. 21), deputies responded to the Williston area to a disturbance. Deputies learned Sidney Frasier Sr. had become involved in an argument with a witness to the shooting.
      Sidney Carl Frasier Sr. threatened this witness with bodily harm for participating with law enforcement in the investigation. Deputies located Frasier Sr. and arrested him for tampering with a witness. Frasier Sr. was booked into the Levy County Detention Facility (Jail).
     His bond was set at $250,000 too.
     Levy County Detectives are currently working with other law enforcement authorities in their search for Williams. Anyone who has information on Williams’ current whereabouts is asked to contact Lt. Mike Narayan at 352-486-5111.

     Detectives are currently seeking witness assistance in this investigation. Multiple individuals were captured on store surveillance video at this scene when the shooting occurred. The LCSO is asking each of these people to come forward.
     The grandmother of Khajon Spikes -- Gussie Boatwright of Williston, posted this comment on her personal Facebook page. This is her plea to witnesses, “If you saw something, please say something. Forget the code of the streets and be part of the change. Khajon’s departure is the beginning of a new community. Get on board or move to another county where your behavior is more tolerated. #JusticeforKhajon”
     Anyone with information is asked to contact LCSO Lt. Mike Narayan or Cpl. C.J. Perryman at 352-486-5111. Witnesses may remain anonymous by contacting Crime Stoppers at 1-877-349-8477. You could be eligible for a cash reward.

 


Woman crashes - gets cited
Crash in levy county florida
The vehicle is seen here on its side after the driver was removed. The roof appears to have been cut at the posts to extricate the woman, whom the FHP noted was not injured.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:11 p.m.
     LEVY COUNTY –
A 65-year-old Chiefland woman was cited for careless driving Monday (Feb. 22) after she crashed, according to information in a press release from Florida Highway Patrol Lt. P.V. Riordan, based on a crash report from FHP Trooper K. Skelly.

Crash in levy county florida
This picture shows the rut dug into the ground by the vehicle just before it went through the barbed-wire fence. This is looking to the west. This crash site is just north of CR 330, one of two main westbound roads going to Fowlers Bluff off of SR 345 in Levy County.
~
     A 1997 Toyota 4 Runner was southbound on State Road 345, two-tenths of one mile north of Levy County Road 330 at 3:27 p.m. on Feb. 22, the FHP said, when, for unknown reason(s), the driver allowed her vehicle to travel off the roadway.
     The vehicle went into a ditch, the FHP said, where it went airborne.
     The vehicle 1 continued westerly, the FHP said, It struck a barbed-wire fence and overturned onto it right side.
     The driver was not injured, the FHP said. She was wearing a seatbelt.
     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.
     The FHP formerly provided 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 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.
     Each year, more public records become excluded from public view in Florida.
     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 the blanket exclusion of some information as part of its process in sending press releases as it attempts to stay within the bounds of the law while providing the public with information relatively quickly.
~
Crash Report Purchasing
https://services.flhsmv.gov/CrashReportPurchasing/
~
Florida Crash Data
https://www.flhsmv.gov/traffic-crash-reports/crash-dashboard/

 


Chase ends with arrest
Suspected of fleeing at high speed Taylor, Dixie, Levy counties  guy from Brooksville

 

 

 


Brian Arnett Morgan
 

 

 


Story and Mugshot Provided
By LCSO Lt. Scott Tummond
Published Feb. 23, 2021 at 8:11 p.m.
     BRONSON –
The chase of a vehicle that started in Taylor County and went through Dixie County ended in the very early morning in Levy County.
     The Levy County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) Communication Center received a call at approximately 12:45 a.m. this morning (Tuesday, Feb. 23) from the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) and Dixie County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO).
     Both agencies were requesting assistance in a vehicle pursuit.
     The FHP began pursuing a vehicle in Taylor County south on U.S. Highway 19. The DCSO joined to assist in stopping the fleeing vehicle in Dixie County, where the vehicle reached speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour.
     LCSO Deputy Blake Murphy deployed stop sticks, a device used to deflate a vehicle’s tires, at the Levy County - Dixie County line, but the fleeing suspect was able to avoid striking them.
     The suspect continued southbound on U.S. 19 and entered the City of Chiefland at a speed in excess of 100 miles per hour.
     LCSO Cpl. Chase Gregory, who was just south of Chiefland, attempted to use stop sticks. The fleeing driver avoided these too. Deputy Mark Juen and Deputy T.J. Miller positioned themselves just south of the Town of Otter Creek on U.S. 19, and they succeeded with stop sticks, forcing the vehicle to stop in Gulf Hammock.
     The FHP took the suspect into custody. He was identified as Brian Morgan, 42, of Brooksville. Morgan told the arresting FHP trooper that he ran from law enforcement because his license is suspended.
     The FHP booked Morgan into the Levy County Detention Facility (Jail) for fleeing and attempting to elude law enforcement and driving while his license was suspended. Morgan is being held on $225,000 in combined bonds on those two charges.

 


Man arrested after string
of vehicle thefts
in Marion and Levy counties

Travis Joseph Slone suspected of stealing vehicles in Levy County and Marion County Florida

 

 

 

 


Travis Joseph Slone
 

 

 


Story and Mug Shot Provided
By Zachary Moore
Public Information Officer
Marion County Sheriff’s Office
Published Feb. 23, 2021 at 4:11 p.m.
     MARION COUNTY --
On Friday (Feb. 19), the Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) arrested Travis Joseph Slone, 31, of Dunnellon on Marion County warrants for five counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle and one count of second-degree petit theft.
     On Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020, the MCSO received a report of a stolen Dodge Ram, which was determined to be unlocked with the keys inside at the time of the theft. Between Aug. 17, 2020 and Aug. 25, 2020, three additional vehicles were reported as stolen to MCSO: a Buick Lucerne, a Chevy Trailblazer, and a Nissan Frontier, which had its keys in the ignition.
     These three vehicle thefts, along with others in Marion County and Levy County, were believed to be related to each other due to identifying evidence left behind by Slone.
     MCSO Property Crimes detectives were notified on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020 about a Kawasaki KFX-400 four-wheeler that had just been stolen. During their investigation, information was received from Levy County that the same four-wheeler was involved in a pursuit with their deputies.
     Two MCSO detectives responded to Levy County and assisted in the pursuit of Slone, whom they identified due to the previous stolen vehicle investigations. Levy County deputies caused Slone to slow down and he fled on foot from the four-wheeler.
     After a short foot pursuit, Slone was placed under arrest by Levy County on separate charges. Warrants were obtained for the vehicle thefts and petit thefts he committed in Marion County. All of the vehicles stolen by Slone in Marion County were recovered.
     Slone was transferred from the Levy County Jail to the Marion County Jail on Friday, Feb. 19, on the Marion County warrants for his arrest. He is currently held on a $26,000 bond.

 


Robbery suspect detained
within the first 15 minutes

Suspected Armed Robber in Citrus County Florida

 

 

 

 

 


Anthony Lamar Wright
Mug Shot By CCSO

 

 

 

 

 

 


By CCSO Community Relations Specialist Brittney Carman
Published Feb. 23, 2021 at 11:11 a.m.
     CITRUS COUNTY --
On Sunday (Feb. 21), Citrus County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) deputies arrested 37-year-old Anthony Lamar Wright of Inverness for robbery with a firearm.
     "We are extremely proud of both Deputy (Matthew) Anderson and Deputy (Joshua) Bostic, along with Sgt. (Michael) Laborda, who worked to quickly apprehend this robbery suspect," said Sheriff Prendergast. "Within 15 minutes of this crime being reported, CCSO deputies had the suspect detained and ultimately solved this case."
     Around 9 a.m. Sunday, CCSO's Communication center received a call about a robbery that had just occurred at the Speedway gas station located off East Gulf to Lake Highway in Inverness, Florida. A black male wearing an orange hooded sweater and blue jeans entered the store demanding money and brandished a firearm. The suspect fled on foot from the Speedway after his demands were not met.
     Deputies responding to the robbery observed a male matching the description of the suspect walking west on East Gulf to Lake Highway. This man, who was later identified as Wright, was detained pending further investigation. While conducting a pat-down search, deputies located a replica plastic gun in the front right pocket of Wright's hooded sweater.
     On scene at the Speedway gas station, deputies were able to get a positive identification from the store clerk that Wright was indeed the suspect that entered the store and demanded money while displaying the firearm. Wright was placed under arrest for armed robbery and transported to the Citrus County Detention Facility (Jail), where he is currently being held on a $20,000 bond.

 


Daniel Alan Baker indicted
for inciting violence
at the Florida Capitol Building

Story Provided
By U.S. Attorney’s Office,
Northern District of Florida
Graphic By FBI Jacksonville Office
Sent Feb. 18, 2021 at 8:19 p.m.
Published Feb. 19, 2021 at 8:11 a.m.
Updated With Trial Information On
Feb. 23, 2021 at 11:11 a.m.
     TALLAHASSEE --
In a case arising from anticipated protests at the Florida Capitol last month, a federal grand jury returned an indictment Feb. 18 charging Daniel A. Baker, of Tallahassee, with two counts of transmitting a communication in interstate commerce containing a threat to kidnap or injure.
     Lawrence Keefe, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced the indictment.
     Baker was arrested by FBI agents on Jan. 15 after he issued a “Call to Arms” for like-minded individuals to violently confront protestors gathered at the Florida Capitol in the wake of the Jan. 6 riots at the United States Capitol. He specifically called for others to join him in encircling any protestors and confining them at the state Capitol complex using firearms.
     “At a time of widespread alarm and turmoil in our nation, and at state capitals in particular, Baker’s actions clearly posed a threat to public order,” U.S. Attorney Keefe said. “Though some media descriptions cast Baker in a sympathetic light, the indictment alleges that he sought to physically stop the expression of political views different than his own, potentially through armed violence. This office and our law enforcement partners are committed to protecting public safety no matter where the threat comes from, and we are confident Baker’s actions will be properly dealt with through the judicial process.”

Statement about crime and suspect from the FBI Jacksonville Office

     On Jan. 25, United States Magistrate Judge Michael J. Frank ordered Baker detained pending trial to assure the safety of the community. That order followed a combined preliminary and detention hearing that took place four days earlier.
     "The FBI is laser focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals who are intent on inciting violence or engaging in criminal activity,” said Rachel L. Rojas, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division. “We will not tolerate those who seek to wreak havoc in our communities. We are fully coordinating with law enforcement partners to ensure the safety and well-being of all citizens in North Florida, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Leon County Sheriff’s Office and Tallahassee Police Department have been especially vital in this effort. Help from the public is also critical and we encourage anyone with information regarding potential violence or criminal activity to contact law enforcement immediately.”
     This indictment is the result of a collaborative investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Leon County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tallahassee Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen Kunz and Lazaro Fields are prosecuting this case.
     All defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond and to the exclusion of reasonable doubt.
     A trial date for Daniel Alan Baker, who is charged with offenses stemming from a planned protest at Florida’s Capitol in January, has been scheduled for April 14 before District Judge Allen C. Winsor at the U.S. Courthouse in Tallahassee. The trial was scheduled at Baker’s arraignment hearing yesterday afternoon (Feb. 22), where he entered a plea of not guilty to two counts of transmitting a communication in interstate commerce containing a threat to kidnap or injure. Baker was indicted last week by a federal grand jury, following his arrest on Jan. 15 by the FBI.
     The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the United States Attorney General.

 


FDACS, DEP, FWC recognize
Florida Resource Managers
of the Year in virtual ceremony

FDEP Manager of the Year Paul Rice
Resource Manager of the Year Paul Rice at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Rice is the Manager of the Year from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The Jim Stevenson Resource Manager of the Year award is bestowed annually to a representative from the Florida Park Service (part of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Florida Forest Service for excellence in the field of natural resource management. The award is named for James A. Stevenson, a Florida leader of ecosystem management, prescribed burning, non-native plant control and springs protection during his long career with DEP’s Florida Park Service and Division of State Lands. Recipients are selected by a committee of environmental professionals representing the Sierra Club, Florida Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy. To see more about the virtual presentations this year, please read the story below – provided by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services – this year’s host for the awards ceremony.

Photo Provided By FDEP Communications

By FDACS Communications
Published Feb. 22, 2021 at 11:11 p.m.
Updated Feb. 24, 2021 at 7:11 a.m.

     TALLAHASSEE – Today (Monday, Nov. 22), Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, State Forester Erin Albury of the Florida Forest Service (FFS), Secretary Noah Valenstein of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), and Executive Director Eric Sutton of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), presented the annual “Jim Stevenson Resource Manager of the Year” award to three recipients in a virtual ceremony.
     Each recipient earned the award for their outstanding leadership and achievements in protecting Florida’s natural resources, and will receive a resolution signed by the full Florida Cabinet as well as a commemorative plaque. This year’s recipients are:
     ● FDACS/FFS: Vince Morris, Resource Administrator, Withlacoochee State Forest and Seminole State Forest;
     ● FDEP: Paul Rice, Park Manager IV, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park; and
     ● FWC: Nathan Bunting, Wildlife and Fisheries Biological Scientist III and Area Manager, Apalachee Wildlife Management Area (WMA)

      "The Florida we all love is home to some of the most beautiful, pristine and diverse lands, waters, and natural resources, so it’s important we do all we can to protect them for the next generation. Thank you to State Forester Albury, Secretary Valenstein, and Director Sutton for helping us honor these outstanding stewards of our incredible natural treasures that belong to all Floridians," said Commissioner Fried. "It's my privilege to recognize Vince Morris of the Florida Forest Service as our 'Jim Stevenson Resource Manager of the Year' award recipient this year, and on behalf of our state and our environment, to thank him for helping us keep Florida growing."


Background on Recipients
     Vince Morris started his career with the Florida Forest Service in 1996. Since that time, he has been promoted several times and now serves as the Resource Administrator for the Withlacoochee State Forest (164,073 acres) and Seminole State Forest (27,500 acres) located in central Florida. His responsibilities include managing all aspects of the resource section to include the harvesting and reforestation of timber resources, the management of endangered species, especially the red-cockaded woodpecker, and the treatment of numerous exotic species found in the forest. Morris also leads a prescribed burn program for the state forest system. Under Vince’s tenure, the red-cockaded woodpecker population has increased dramatically, exotics species are being treated and the longleaf pine-wiregrass community is thriving.
     Paul Rice has devoted his 39-year career to Florida’s state parks and currently manages more than 65.000 acres of upland and submerged resources at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park in Key Largo, Florida. Rice oversees efforts of multiple volunteer teams, which have contributed more than 1,800 plants to restore habitats at various parks in the Florida Keys since Hurricane Irma, contributed an additional 3,200 plants to the restorations at Port Bougainville and Carysfort, and have contributed to the health of several protected species, including the Schaus Swallowtail butterfly, Key Largo woodrat and several coral species. Other accomplishments include organizing an effort to reduce damage to seagrass beds and coral reefs at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and working with local citizens to start an official support organization for the parks.
     Nathan Bunting has worked for the FWC for over 18 years and is currently a Wildlife and Fisheries Biological Scientist III in the Northwest Region of Florida where he acts as Lead Area Manager for the Apalachee Wildlife Management Area (WMA) system. Under Bunting’s care, the Apalachee WMA is now considered an outstanding example of natural habitat and model of success for wildlife management and conservation areas. Many species of native plants, including two rare and endangered species, along with populations of white-tailed deer, wood ducks, and a near-threatened species, Northern bobwhites, have increased. Since Hurricane Michael in 2018, Bunting has worked tirelessly to recover the WMA, so that trees may be re-planted and public access restored. This recovery effort included salvage logging operations and tree debris removal on over 2,076 acres resulting in 95,525 tons of hurricane debris removed.

 


Florida Forest Service Team
assumes command
of Texas Resource Staging Area

Florida Forest Service Helps Texans
Members of the Florida Forest Service prepare to help residents and visitors in Texas on Monday morning (Feb. 22) after the state suffered from catastrophic electric failure and freezing weather.

Story and Photo
By FDACS Communications
Published Feb. 22, 2021 at 11:11 p.m.
     TALLAHASSEE --
The Florida Forest Service’s Green Incident Management Team (IMT) assumed command of a Resource Staging Area (RSA) in Texas earlier today (Monday, Feb. 22).

Florida Forest Service Helps Texans
Members of the Florida Forest Service are checked for body temperatures. The FFS members in Texas also are checked for COVID-19 in an effort to help the people of Texas while practicing best methods to reduce the odds of making the global COVID-19 pandemic worse. The Forestry Service members also underwent testing often to assure they did not have COVID-19.

     The RSA is located at Randolph Air Force Base Auxiliary Airport located east of San Antonio. On Friday, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried authorized the deployment to Texas of the 30-member Green IMT to assist with support and recovery efforts for Texans impacted by the recent winter storm.
     The 24-hour operation of the RSA supplies both Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state trucks with truckloads of water and Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) to deliver to counties throughout Texas.
     In the past two days, 63 trucks containing 1,046 pallets of water totaling 41,840 cases of water were sent out from the RSA, along with 31 trucks of MREs containing 1,054 pallets of meals. 27 counties throughout Texas received water and 16 counties received MREs.
     One of the primary objectives of the Florida Forest Service’s Green IMT is to provide for the safety of all incident personnel and the public by ensuring protective measures are in place to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
     “It is important that we observe all COVID practices to keep our team safe and healthy so we can provide the critical support to the citizens of Texas,” said Green IMT Safety Officer Larry Grubbs.
     To accomplish this, Green Team members are receiving temperature checks at the beginning of every shift, and COVID-19 tests are also being conducted.
     “We continue to stand with the citizens of Texas who are have suffered through life-threatening sub-zero temperatures, power outages, severely iced roads, and other emergencies. Our Green Incident Management Team, composed of our hardworking Florida Forest Service personnel, are working hard to ensure water and meals get to communities in need while keeping emergency responders safe from COVID-19” Commissioner Fried said. “Whether wildfires, hurricanes, or other severe weather situations, our Florida Forest Service team is experienced in helping communities recover and rebuild following disaster, and they will continue doing so as the State of Texas recovers.”
     The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than one million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests.
     The Florida Forest Service also is responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects wildfire on more than 26 million acres.

 


LCSO arrests sex offender in Orlando
sex offender

 

 

 


Joel Ramirez
Mug Shot
By Orange County Sheriff's Office

 

 

 

 

By LCSO Lt. Scott Tummond
Published Feb. 22, 2021 at 3:11 p.m.
     LEVY COUNTY --
A sex offender who was getting ready to leave for Bogota Colombia, South America, was arrested Saturday (Feb. 20) and is set to be brought back to Levy County.
     The Levy County Sheriff’s Office received information from the United States Marshals Service that a registered sex offender planned to leave the country on an international flight due to depart this past Saturday (Feb. 20). Sex offenders are required to notify the county in which they are registered of any planned travel, to include international travel, 21 days prior to leaving.
     Joel Ramirez, 49, of Williston, failed to make proper notification to the LCSO of this intended trip.
     LCSO Cpl. C.J. Perryman, acting upon this information, confirmed Ramirez had purchased a ticket to Bogota on Feb. 18 for a flight scheduled to depart Orlando on Feb. 20. Ramirez had not notified the LCSO of this planned international travel.
     Detective Perryman secured a warrant for Ramirez’s arrest and coordinated the arrest with the United States Marshals Service, the Orlando Police Department and the Orlando Division of the United States Customs and Border Protection Agency.
     Ramirez, convicted of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child between the ages of 12 and 15 years old in 2013, was arrested while attempting to board the plane in Orlando.
     Ramirez was booked into the Orange County Jail and is being held awaiting transfer to Levy County on a $200,000 bond.

 


Twelve suspected
sexual predators arrested in sting

By MCSO Sgt. Paul Bloom
Public Information Office Director
Published Feb. 22, 2021 at 3:11 p.m.
     MARION COUNTY –
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from other agencies conducted a sting operation to identify and capture suspected offenders who were seeking sex with children through online methods.
     Each of these defendants planned to meet in Marion County and have sex with a girl or a boy between the ages of 13-15 years old.
     These eight men traveled to a location in Marion County to have sex with the child that they thought they had been messaging online. Instead, they were met by law enforcement, placed in handcuffs and arrested. In addition, the MCSO arrested four individuals for transmitting harmful material to individuals they believed were minors.
     During the online interactions with the suspects, all of them engaged in lewd conversations with the “child” and described the sexual acts they wanted to perform with them. Some of these men sent sexually explicit photographs to the undercover officers.
     “I will always use all my resources to hunt these evil predators down and bring them to justice,” Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said. “I will continue to do everything I can to keep this evil from our children.”
     Agencies that assisted in this operation are the Ocala Police Department, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Gainesville Police Department and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

 


Homosassa man arrested
for allegedly committing
sex crimes against at child

William charles hale jr of citrus county suspected of sex crimes
William Hale Jr.

Story and Mugshot Provided
By CCSO Community Relations Specialist Jodi Sanders
Sent Feb. 19, 2021 at 4:37 p.m.
Published Feb. 20, 2021 at 10:11 a.m.
     CITRUS COUNTY --
On Jan. 10, the Citrus County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) was contacted in reference to a past sexual assault of a juvenile.
     Deputies contacted the juvenile victim who disclosed inappropriate contact with the suspect identified as William (Charles) Hale Jr., 69, of Homosassa on several separate occasions.
     Homosassa is a census-designated place in the unincorporated part of Citrus County.
     Based on these allegations, a detective with the CCSO Special Victims Unit was assigned to the case and began an investigation.
     Due to the age of the victim, the victim was interviewed by the Child Protection Team at Jessie's Place, a Citrus County child advocacy center.
     During this interview, the victim stated that during the past several months they had been coerced and threatened into sending Hale explicit photographs.
     In return for the photos, Hale allegedly provided the victim with prescription medication, money, nicotine products and a cellphone.
     The victim told interviewers that on several separate instances over the past few years, Hale had initiated inappropriate sexual contact.
     On Thursday (Feb. 18), the CCSO deputy assigned to this case interviewed Hale at the CCSO Emergency Operations Center.
     During the interview, Hale made several admissions corroborating the victim's allegations.
     "Hale is the textbook example of a predator whom parents fear the most,” Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast said. “He manipulated this young victim and exploited their innocence for several years for his own gratification. "Detective Richey's work with our community partners at the (Florida) Department of Children and Families, the Child Protective Team, and the (Fifth Judicial Circuit) State Attorney's Office will help bring justice to the victim as well as help begin the healing process."
     Hale was charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim under the age of 16 years, one count of promotion of a sexual performance by a child, and one count of unlawful use of a two-way communication device. Hale was transported to the Citrus County Jail, where he is being held with no bond.

 

 


Hit-and-run crash
fatalities rise in 2020

Do not hit and run - FHP
By The Fla. Dept. Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles
Office of Communications
Published Feb. 1, 2021 at 2:10 p.m.
     TALLAHASSEE –
In 2020, hit-and-run crash fatalities increased by more than 18 percent even as total hit-and-run crashes in Florida decreased by 13 percent compared to 2019.
     To reduce the number of hit-and-run crashes and fatalities in 2021 and to help solve open cases, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) is leading the Stay at the Scene campaign this February, during Hit-and-Run Awareness Month.
     In partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Association of Crime Stoppers, and AAA – The Auto Club Group, the Stay at the Scene campaign aims to educate drivers on their responsibilities if involved in a crash, the serious consequences they face if they do not Stay at the Scene, and how motorists can easily and anonymously report tips on hit-and-run crashes to law enforcement.
     “When you flee the scene of a crash, you’re not only breaking the law, you could be leaving someone who needs immediate medical attention,” said FLHSMV Executive Director, Terry L. Rhodes. “While being involved in a crash can be scary, choosing to flee from the scene can have life-altering consequences. Remember: If you are involved in a crash, Stay at the Scene.”
     The majority of hit-and-run fatalities occur at night or during low-light hours. According to an FLHSMV analysis, 85 percent of all hit-and-run fatalities from 2015 to 2020 occurred during dawn, dusk, or nighttime conditions. Motorists are urged to drive safely and look twice for vulnerable road users, especially when there is low visibility.
     Vulnerable road users are particularly at risk. In fact, of the 254 hit-and-run fatalities in 2020, 137 were pedestrians and 25 were bicyclists. To further prevent these types of crashes from occurring, it is critical for pedestrians or bicyclists to be as visible as possible with proper lights and reflectors.
     “Leaving the scene of a traffic crash is a serious offense,” said Florida Highway Patrol Col. Gene S. Spaulding. “It’s your duty as a driver involved in a crash to remain at the scene and provide assistance to other motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians or other parties who have been injured or received property damage. It’s not only the right thing to do. It’s the law.”
     Under Florida law, a driver must stop immediately at the scene of a crash on public or private property that results in property damage, injury, or death. Leaving the scene of a crash is a felony and a driver, when convicted, will have their license revoked for at least three years and can be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of four years in prison.
     “The Florida Department of Transportation is committed to improving safety on our roadways and encourages everyone to take responsibility behind the wheel,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, P.E. “Making the right decisions, from driving safely and looking out for all road users, to staying at the scene and calling for help, could save a life.”
     “Hit-and-run drivers not only damage property and injure innocent persons but cause hardship on their own families when apprehended. Our deputy sheriffs constantly network with the Florida Highway Patrol to ensure the safety of the motoring public through initiatives such as the Hit-and-Run Awareness Campaign which we fully support,” said Sheriff Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz, President, Florida Sheriffs Association.
     “Don’t risk the lives of others and your freedom by leaving the scene of a crash,” said Matt Nasworthy, Florida Public Affairs Director, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Do the right thing. Get safely out of traffic and call for help.”
     President of the Florida Association of Crime Stoppers and Executive Director of Manatee County Crime Stoppers Frank Brunner said, “The Florida Association of Crime Stoppers is committed to making Florida a safer place by assisting law enforcement in the gathering of critical information regarding criminal activity such as hit-and-run cases. Through our statewide number, **TIPS (**8477), and our Florida Crime Stoppers smartphone app, any member of the public can easily and anonymously report a crime and could be eligible for a cash reward for information leading to an arrest.”
     Important steps to follow if you are involved in a crash:
    * Make sure you are okay and remain calm.
    * If possible, move to the side of the road. Remove your keys if you get out of your vehicle and stand out of the roadway in a safe area.
    *
Check on others involved. Call 911 if anyone might be injured or a vehicle is inoperable.
    * If there are no injuries or major property damage, gather information. Get the name, driver license, insurance, and tag information from the other driver(s). Take photos of the vehicles and information if you can’t write it down and then file a report online.
    * Most importantly, stay calm and always stay at the scene.

     Leaving the scene of a crash will make matters worse. Staying at the scene will not only spare a driver significant legal penalties, but also may save a life.
     Even a small tip can help solve a hit-and-run case. If you have information on a hit-and-run crash, you can report it by calling *FHP (*347) or report it anonymously to Florida Crime Stoppers by calling **TIPS (**8477).


 


 


 

AdDCSOLogo2016
Following are some common abbreviations:

DUI - Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Some Other Drug
DWLSR - Driving While License Suspended or Revoked
RWOV - Resisting Arrest Without Violence
Poss. - Possession
VOP - Violation of Probation
FTA - Failure to Appear
ROR - Released on their Own Recognizance
LEO - Law Enforcement Officer
YOA - Years Of Age



Suspects Arrested

Feb. 22 Through Feb. 28
Published March 1, 2021 at 2:11 p.m.


Suspected Criminals Arrested In Dixie County

 





AdGCSOLogo2016

Following are some common abbreviations:

DUI - Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Some Other Drug
DWLSR - Driving While License Suspended or Revoked
RWOV - Resisting Arrest Without Violence
Poss. - Possession
VOP - Violation of Probation
FTA - Failure to Appear
ROR -  Release on their Own Recognizance

LEO - Law Enforcement Officer
YOA - Years Of Age


Suspects Arrested
Feb. 22 Through Feb. 28
Published March 1, 2021 at 2:11 p.m.


Gilchrist County Suspects Jailed

 




Levy County Sheriff's office LOGO HardisonInk.com

Following are some common abbreviations:

DUI - Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Some Other Drug
BUI - Boating While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Some Other Drug
DWLSR - Driving While License Suspended or Revoked
RWOV - Resisting Arrest Without Violence
Poss. - Possession
VOP - Violation of Probation
FTA - Failure to Appear
ROR - Released On their Own Recognizance
LEO - Law Enforcement Officer
YOA - Years Of Age


Suspects Arrested
Feb. 22 Through Feb. 28
Published March 1, 2021 at 2:11 p.m.

Levy County Suspects  Bronson Florida

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