Mayor declares October
to honor disabled employees
complain to City Council
Elected leaders present for the twice-monthly regular Williston City Council meeting are (from left) Councilman Zach Bullock, Mayor Charles Goodman, City Council President Debra Jones and City Council Vice President Marguerite Robinson.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Oct. 6, 2022 at 4:12 p.m.
WILLISTON – The Tuesday night (Oct. 4) meeting of the Williston City Council provided the mayor with a chance to make a proclamation and for three families of property owners to complain about a requirement for development.
More Below This Ad
Click On Ad To Go To Website.
The three members of the City Council took several other actions as well and they gained insight about other aspects of life in the easternmost Levy County municipality, too.
City Council members present for this twice-monthly regular meeting were City Council President Debra Jones, Vice President Marguerite Robinson and City Councilman Zach Bullock.
City Councilman Michael Cox was absent due to illness and City Councilman Elihu Ross was at home recovering from recent surgery, Council President Jones said.
Williston Mayor Charles Goodman reads the proclamation.
Williston Mayor Charles Goodman made the proclamation, on behalf of the City Council and the citizens of the community, that Williston will take great pride in recognizing October as “Disability Employment Awareness Month.”
Mayor Goodman said this is a month of special importance, and it is worthy of the recognition of the citizens of the City of Williston.
Before reaching that now, therefore, point in this proclamation, there were the traditional “Whereas” parts of the speech. In this case, the proclamation showed:
● In 1988, the United States Congress declared the month of October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month to recognize the contributions made by individuals with disabilities; and
● a diverse workforce creates opportunity for growth and helps toward building a stronger economy for the city; and
● Williston residents with disabilities deserve the right to live independently, enjoy self-determination and to be treated equally in the workplace; and
● The Able Trust, also known as the Florida Endowment Foundation for Vocational Rehabilitation, has worked with employers and community organizations throughout the state to enable thousands of Florida's citizens with disabilities to enter the workforce; and
● Florida's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Division of Blind Services within the Department of Education, assists people with disabilities so they may become employed; and
● these organizations have an overwhelming impact on the lives of many of Florida's citizens with disabilities by offering services including job placement assistance, training, support services, and job coaching; and
● The City of Williston joins the rest of the Florida in recognizing the contributions of the 2.8 million Floridians with disabilities by celebrating October 2022 as Disability Employment Awareness Month.
It was therefore proclaimed as noted by the mayor.
Jay Beasley speaks about problems he sees from the requirement by the city to build the sidewalk. Standing in the left of the picture is Realtor Cookie King, who questioned why the city does not impose this requirement on all subdivision developers or no subdivision developers.
David Butts a 1976 graduate of Williston High School speaks about returning home after more than 20 years in Europe as a minister to a 'retirement home' he had planned to build. Instead, he is finding an unanticipated cost from sidewalk construction. That sidewalk construction requirement is noted in the approved plat for the Stadium View Acres Subdvision.
The three City Council members listened and spoke about one matter for almost the entire first hour of the meeting.
Stadium View Acres, which is a subdivision of four lots located on the south side of Southwest Fifth Avenue and Southwest 3rd
Street in the city of Williston, is owned by three families, according to records,
The owners are Jay Ronald and Jane Beasley, lots 1 and 2; David and Mihaela Butts, lot 3; and Craig and Heather Troup, lot 4.
The purpose of this discussion that was listed on the agenda was to request the City Council to approve a replat of Stadium View Acres removing the requirement of a sidewalk from the plat for Stadium View Acres.
The existing plat notes in writing that the owners of the properties that constitute Stadium View Acres will be responsible for the construction and bear the cost of a five-foot wide sidewalk on the south side of Southwest Fifth Avenue on the city-owned property side of the easement abutting Southwest Fifth Avenue.
The families have said they intend to construct houses on their lots, although this construction may happen at various times. Among the various issues, is that a certificate of occupancy is not going to be given before the sidewalk is constructed.
Another problem is that even if the three families worked together to fund and build the sidewalk, it would be inefficient to build the sidewalk before the structures, and their relevant driveways, were already completed.
Among the many issues discussed during the lengthy talk by the parties and the city leaders, was that people who have become accustomed to parking on those previously vacant lots during home football games of the Williston Red Devils, are parking on private property.
At the most recent game, held just the night before on Monday night (Oct. 3), people ignored small ropes and “No Trespassing” signs, and even parked on a concrete slab poured for one of the houses.
One council member and others suggested roping off the property and charging people park where these homes are currently planned for construction.
The property owners were told to call the Williston Police Department to help them keep trespassers off their property during football games, as another possible short-term remedy.
Meanwhile, the possible home builders are saying the cost of sidewalks is prohibitive for them to construct their houses, too.
Williston City Attorney Scott Walker said there is a potential for the property owners to reach an agreement to fund the city building the sidewalks, however payment for that public service could not be through a tax, or a municipal service taxing unit, etc., but instead would need to be paid before the city performed the service, due to the difficulty in the city collecting for that job.
Although there was discussion about a replat of this small subdivision to remove the sidewalk requirement, that too is expensive. And even if the new platting were created, the Williston Planning and Zoning Commission could recommend the City Council reject the replat.
After the long discussion, there was no resolution.
Realtor Cookie King questioned why this small, platted subdivision was required to install sidewalks, when not every subdivision is required to do so.
City Council President Jones, who has been a member of the Planning and Zoning entity before, said this caveat was created with guidelines showing which areas would have that requirement.
City Planner Laura Jones explained that as the city grows into the future, planning includes providing for the probable needs of future residents and visitors. In this instance, the old WHS stadium is still being used and people still park and walk to see the games.
If there is construction of homes in this platted subdivision, then those developers must install the sidewalks as is noted on the existing approved plat for development.
David Butts, a quasi-retired pastor, said he is thinking now about not building a house there and to instead sell the property and build his retirement home elsewhere.
One Bronson area businessman who watched the Monday night football game in Williston said he saw how people had ignored the roped-off area and had parked there anyway. Councilman Bullock, too, said he saw people essentially ignore the “No Trespassing” signs as if the signs did not exist.
Other Williston News
Recently elected Levy County Property Appraiser Jason Whistler introduced himself to people during the City Council meeting. He pledged to continue the excellent work as public servants as was established by the late Levy County Property Appraiser Osborn Gray “Oz” Barker (Dec. 24, 1964-Aug. 29, 2021). Whistler will be serving the remainder of the term to which Barker was elected before he died.
Williston Interim City Manager Terry Bovaird reported to the City Council about expenses and the successful effort for the city to be prepared for Hurricane Ian.
“The joy that I get is to be able to lead the team in a situation like that,” Bovaird said.
Williston Fire Chief Lamar Stegall said the new squad vehicle for Williston Fire Rescue is in full service now. In other fire department news, he said the city has received its third bunker gear grant. This is a no-match grant that brought the city $20,000 to pay toward the cost of the equipment firefighters need as they fight fires.
He has applied for an AED replacement grant for $30,000, which like the bunker gear grant requires no matching funds from the city. AED stands for automated external defibrillator.
An AED is a type of portable computerized defibrillator that automatically analyzes the heart rhythm in people who are experiencing cardiac arrest. It also has the equipment to shock a heart back into normal rhythm.
Police Chief Mike Rolls reported that WPD Police Officer Jason Godkin is doing well as a relatively new recruit on the force.
A new part-time dispatcher is being trained so that she can be certified in dispatching, Chief Rolls said.
Chief Rolls publicly thanked Brooke Ellzey Willis and Capt. Matt Forney for their accepting added duties as a result of former Deputy Police Chief Bovaird accepting the job as interim city manager.
In the near future, children in kindergarten through third grade from Williston Central Christian Academy are scheduled for a walking field-trip tour of the Williston Fire Department and the Williston Police Department, Chief Rolls said during his time of reporting to the City Council on Tuesday night.
Fiberoptic cable project continues
By Jeff M. Hardison © Oct. 5, 2022 at 4:12 p.m.
TRI-COUNTY AREA – Central Florida Electric Cooperative sent a press release recently to show the first areas where Internet service improvements are planned for this part of Florida. Construction of Central Florida Electric Cooperative’s 100 percent fiberoptic network, which will provide low-cost, high-speed Internet and phone services to local communities through fiber by Central Florida, has begun with make-ready engineering crews starting work in the Chiefland area on Monday (Oct. 3), CFEC Communications Specialist Madison Redd noted.
Make-ready construction is expected to follow starting on Dec. 1, before fiber construction finally begins on March 1, 2023.
As anticipated, the first areas to be served will be closest to U.S. Highway 19 and metropolitan areas of the CFEC service area.
Phase 1 of network construction will include four CFEC substations:
Chiefland 1 – Estimated completion by June 2023
Trenton – Estimated completion by September 2023
Bell – Estimated completion by December 2023
Dempsey (North Dixie County) – Estimated completion by March 2024
These four areas were selected for Phase 1 of the network for a few key reasons. Construction at the Chiefland 1 location will be completed first in order to provide the first “fiber head end,” which will serve as a network access point providing access to the backbone of the Internet through a connection with Uniti fiber.
Once Chiefland 1 is completed, construction will move to the Trenton substation, then Bell substation, in order to ultimately bridge the fiber network into Dixie County by crossing over the Suwannee River at Rock Bluff to reach the Dempsey substation.
Areas like Fowlers Bluff and Cedar Key are not in the first phase.
The established plan will allow the builders to establish the network in all three counties in Phase 1, passing almost 11,000 homes and businesses in the process.
Fiber will be built directly to the home/business for 100 percent of CFEC’s members, as well as those served by other utilities within Phase 1 wherever their facilities are in close proximity and make-ready condition to CFEC infrastructure.
Fiber by Central Florida looks forward to eventually reaching everyone in the service area to provide the fastest, most reliable Internet connection on the market today at a price that everyone can afford.
MLK signs lacking
With more letters in smaller text than the sign below it, the ‘A.K.A. MARTIN LUTHER KING RD” sign sits atop the “WEST PARK AVENUE” sign near Chiefland Elementary School.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Oct. 2, 2022 at 12:12 p.m.
LEVY COUNTY – So far, the Levy County government has put up three new street signs on at least 12 intersections of Park Avenue in Chiefland.
These signs on the east side of the intersection of Main Street (U.S. Highway 19) and Park Avenue in Chiefland make a statement.
These signs at the intersection of U.S. Highway 129 and East Park Avenue (‘A.K.A. MARTIN LUTHER KING RD’) are shown from a recent tour of Park Avenue in Chiefland.
The sparse signage is somewhat reflexive of controversy started in the city by residents who either wanted a street named to honor a hero of peace and freedom – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., or who did not want that street named if it ran next to property they owned.
There were other confusing statements about which road to name as a respectful memorial to Dr. King in the city, too, including reference back to the days in America when slavery existed, which long preceded the start of more progress in the 1950s toward equal rights for all Americans.
The late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Jan. 15, 1929-April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister and activist. He served as one of the most prominent leaders in the civil rights movement in the United States from 1955 until his assassination in 1968.
Recently, the Chiefland City Commission first renamed a street to honor him, but after there were some complaints, the city leaders chose to not name a street after the man who was assassinated. A second straw poll was conducted and the majority of participants in that poll wanted Park Avenue named for the late Dr. King.
The city leaders learned the Levy County Board of County Commissioner is the legislative government entity that is responsible for maintenance of Park Avenue, within the city limits. Therefore, the elected city government leaders gave up their action to name a street in honor of the slain civil rights leader, especially because the county had already made a few street signs.
The city government, therefore, never had to take action or spend money to make and erect new street signs to honor the late Dr. King.
A Chiefland resident became involved with the county effort to mark Park Avenue with the new signs. Given that the 9-1-1 addressing requires less effort and expense by renaming a street with “also known as,” the county chose that method.
“Also known as” can be abbreviated “AKA.” The county government chose to actually put “AKA” on the signs meant to honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This is not a commonly accepted practice for street signage.
And while the county chose to add those “AKA” letters, those county government sign-makers left off “Dr.” and “Jr.”
Therefore, the well-meaning Levy County government has named Park Avenue in Chiefland so that it is also known as “Martin Luther King Road.”
By leaving off the “doctor” and “junior” abbreviations, Levy County therefore has renamed a road to honor -- Martin Luther King (Dec. 19, 1899-Nov. 11, 1984), who was an African-American Baptist pastor, missionary, and an early figure in the Civil Rights Movement.
He was the father and namesake of the civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King died on Veterans Day 1984, more than a decade after his son was assassinated.
So far, Levy County has three signs posted at intersections. The text on the “AKA Road” signs appear smaller than the “Park Avenue” signs. There are at least 12 intersections with Park Avenue on the east and west sides of Main Street (U.S. Highway 19) in Chiefland. Park Avenue is the north-south dividing line for city addresses in Chiefland.
One Chiefland resident told the City Commission about a method to have the Florida Department of Transportation mark the booms that hold stoplights at Park Avenue and Main Street with signage. Those would be state government created and maintained.
Time will tell how the City of Chiefland government, or really the Levy County government, has triumphed by co-naming a throughfare in the City of Chiefland to honor a man who many believe is an American hero – and if the Levy County government makes accurate signs and puts them at every intersection of Park Avenue.
Hurricane Ian leaves
Tri-County Area relatively unscathed
State government responds to disaster
The Gulf of Mexico at Cedar Key dropped its water level during the hurricane event. This photo taken Sept. 28 at 1:45 p.m. shows land that is normally a few feet below the surface of the water.
Photo By Kristen Brault
By Jeff M. Hardison © Sept. 29, 2022 at 2:12 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE – A cursory review of the Tri-County Area of Levy County, Dixie County and Gilchrist County showed this part of Florida escaped significant loss from Hurricane Ian.
Children run on land that is normally a few feet below the surface of the water in the Gulf of Mexico off of the beach at Cedar Key. Seen here running are (from left) Lindsey Grace Brault, Caleb Brault and Ryan Brault. This photo was taken Sept. 28 at 1:46 p.m. Those are birds flying in the background.
Photo By Kristen Brault
A mandatory evacuation order was issued for Levy County on Monday (Sept. 26) for coastal communities RV parks mobile homes and low-lying areas.
While there was no word about the evacuation order in Levy County being finished, people are returning to take care of whatever damage occurred in their absence.
One example of the Levy County not being too adversely affected was the opening of Steamer’s Clam Bar and Grill on Dock Street in Cedar Key at 11 a.m. on Thursday. It remained breezy, but pleasant on the island.
Gilchrist County was so untouched that its county emergency management director never sent out any sort of notice before or during the tropical storm or hurricane.
In Dixie County, the Dixie County Emergency Services team kept the public informed.
DCES Public Information Officer Lt. Mandy Lemmermen sent the most recent update at 12 p.m. today (Thursday, Sept. 29).
The Tropical Storm Warning for Dixie County was canceled as of 11 a.m., she noted.
The General Population Shelter at Dixie County High School was deactivated at 12 p.m., Lemmermen said.
The Special Needs Shelter was deactivated at 12 p.m. from the Bell Middle High School, Lemmermen said.
The DCES information line is still operational and can be reached at 352-498-1464.
Dixie County is still experiencing some power outages, however utility companies are working quickly to mitigate those areas and restore power.
Residents and visitors in Dixie County were asked to use extreme caution if they see a downed tree or power line, and to call 9-1-1 to report that.
A press release from the press office of Gov. Ron DeSantis that was sent at 10:42 p.m. on Wednesday night (Sept. 28) showed he issued updates on Hurricane Ian at the State Emergency Operations Center with Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie.
Hurricane Ian made landfall earlier on Sept. 28 in Cayo Costa with winds of 155 miles per hour, two miles per hour short of a Category 5 hurricane, the governor’s press release noted.
Cayo Costa is an island directly south of Boca Grande, which is on the southern part of Gasparilla Island in Lee County. Gasparilla Island is in Charlotte County on the north side and Lee County on the south side.
Reports of major flooding and tornado-like damage are occurring in areas across the state, the governor noted. Ian, as of late last night was forecast to slowly move across central Florida before exiting this afternoon (Thursday, Sept. 29).
Floridians should continue to take shelter indoors and heed local weather warnings.
Earlier on Sept. 28, Gov. DeSantis requested a Major Disaster Declaration for all 67 counties and asked the federal government for 100 percent reimbursement up front for 60 days to ensure Florida can quickly move forward into response and recovery. Typically, this request is not made until disaster assessments have been made after the storm, the governor’s press office noted.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has activated the State Assistance Information Line (SAIL) to provide an additional resource for Floridians to receive up-to-date information regarding Hurricane Ian. Residents and visitors can call this toll-free hotline at 1-800-342-3557.
FDEM is deploying several hundred shelter support staff to address staffing needs in counties that have opened their Special Needs hurricane shelters. As of last night (Sept. 29), more than 200 public shelters are open and available to impacted residents, with more than 50 of these being Special Needs Shelters.
FDEM is leading the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) for the Hurricane Ian response, with more than 350 SERT members staffing the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC).
FDEM has received more than 1,100 resource requests for Hurricane Ian and fulfilled. Over 900 of these requests are currently being processed and are either en route or being mobilized. This includes the coordination of resources such as: trucks of food and water, generators and water pumps.
FDEM has loaded 360 trailers with over 3.5 million meals and over 1.8 million gallons of bottled water in preparation for distribution to impacted areas.
Several hundred generators and pumps, in addition to debris equipment, have been staged for response and recovery efforts.
100,000 tarps to protect homes and allow more residents to stay at home rather than in a public shelter.
Five Florida Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Teams are activated and will be prepared to deploy to impacted areas. Federal USAR Teams from Virginia, Texas, Ohio and Indiana are on-scene and stand ready to assist in response and recovery efforts.
FDEM is currently coordinating the provision of meals for first responders staged in Orange County.
FDEM is in constant communication with all 67 county emergency management offices and state agencies to coordinate protective actions and needed resources ahead of potential storm impacts.
FDEM is coordinating with utilities to ensure crews are prepared to respond and restore power. As of 3 p.m., the Division has received reports of 756,450 outages due to Hurricane Ian. Utility providers have more than 42,000 linemen staged and prepared for power restoration efforts as soon as conditions are safe to do so.
The governor’s press office provided another update about state agencies working in response to Hurricane Ian’s impact. These include the Florida National Guard, with a total of 5,000 Florida Guardsmen being activated to State Active Duty and pre-positioned at armories across the state. Added to that are up to 2,000 Guardsmen from Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina also activated to assist.
Other agencies adding to the workforce for response are the
Florida Department of Law Enforcement; the Florida Department of Health; the Agency for Health Care Administration; the Agency for Persons with Disabilities; the Florida Department of Children and Families; the Florida Department of Elder Affairs; the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs; and the Florida Department of Education.
The Early Learning Coalitions have closed in the following counties: Bradford, Baker, Brevard, Broward, Citrus, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Glades, Hardee, Highlands, Hendry, Hernando, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Levy, Martin, Manatee, Marion, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Putnam, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter, St. Johns, St. Lucie and Volusia.
The Florida Department of Education announced that as of 5 p.m. on Sept. 28, closures have been announced in 59 school districts, 24 Florida College System institutions and 11 State Universities. For a full list of closures, click HERE.
Other state agencies the governor’s press office provided detailed information about working to deal with issues from the hurricane include the Florida Department of Transportation; and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which includes the Florida Highway Patrol. FHP is prepared to escort large convoys of utility and initial response crews into impacted areas as soon as weather allows.
FHP is continuing to fulfill missions as they are received, such as critical response team escorts, traffic control, bridge closures, and requests for high water vehicles.
FHP is assisting FDOT with bridge closures across impacted areas, including the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
FHP has deployed a mobile command center to the State Emergency operations Center to provide enhanced communication capabilities and additional resources.
More than 1,700 sworn FHP members are ready to assist with enhanced evacuation and response efforts.
FHP has strategically staged high-water rescue vehicles to aid search and rescue and damage assessment efforts.
FHP encourages evacuating motorists to report disabled vehicles or dangerous driving conditions to *FHP (*347).
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
has 25 FWC officers from the Northwest Region standing by to augment the first wave of response units, with additional four-wheel drive vehicles, vessels, UTVs, ATVs and other equipment.
81 FWC officers and two vehicle and vessel mechanics are prepared to deploy following the storm’s passing, anticipated Thursday morning.
Fifteen FWC Special Operations Group officers from the Northwest Region are staged in Orlando with Urban Search and Rescue Teams for pre-landfall briefings and preparation for immediate insertion into the affected area following the storm’s passing.
FWC officers in all 67 Florida counties are on heightened alert status, in anticipation of strong winds, heavy rains and flooding because of Hurricane Ian.
FWC Special Operations Group (SOG) teams will serve as reconnaissance units for the State EOC and report back on damage after the storm has made landfall.
FWC Aviation Section has readied all appropriate aircraft for deployment for EOC aerial assistance, reconnaissance, and post-storm damage assessments.
New city manager says
first week was very exciting
financial report looks good
Williston Interim City Manager Terry Bovaird is seen in his post at the dais Tuesday night (Sept. 20) during his first Williston City Council meeting where he was there in a position than his former title as deputy police chief. Unlike the times when now-retired Police Chief Dennis Strow sat in as interim city manager, Bovaird said he has no qualms about continuing in this job after the interim period goes by the wayside. Meanwhile, Police Chief Mike Rolls told HardisonInk.com before the start of the meeting on Tuesday that the WPD is continuing to serve the residents and visitors of Williston very well, despite having the vacancy for a deputy police chief right now.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Sept. 22, 2022 at 4:12 p.m.
WILLISTON – Some folks know that a couple of Australian broadcast news reporters in London failed to recognize the new prime minister of England during part of the funeral for Queen Elizabeth II (April 21, 1926-Sept. 8, 2022).
That faux paus happened on Sept. 18 or Sept. 19.
Liz Truss officially became Britain's new prime minister on Sept. 6 after Boris Johnson formally resigned to Queen Elizabeth II. The government in Great Britain is different than in America, by the way.
In the meantime, at the regular twice-monthly Williston City Council meeting on Tuesday night (Sept. 20), even when and where he was dressed in a civilian coat and tie rather than in a police uniform, Williston Interim City Manager Terry Bovaird was easily recognized as he sat at the dais, in the Williston City Council Meeting Room of City Hall.
Joining him at this honorable bench of public service that night were the elected officials, Mayor Charles Goodman, City Council President Debra Jones, City Council Vice President Marguerite Robinson, City Councilman Elihu Ross and City Councilman Zack Bulloch.
City Councilman Michael Cox was absent from the Sept. 20 meeting.
Other staff leaders at the dais were City Clerk Latricia Wright and Attorney Kiersten Ballou (serving on behalf of Williston City Attorney Scott Walker).
It was interim City Manager Bovaird’s first regular Williston City Council meeting where he was in his new official capacity. The City Council have placed him as the interim city manager for at least six months, and the potential exists for him to transition into being the city manager.
The meeting room was jampacked with people.
City Manager Bovaird said the first seven days in his new post, having surrendered his duties as Williston deputy police chief, were very exciting.
Timber harvesting on Williston Municipal Airport property can be anticipated for the next couple of Weeks Bovaird said Airport Manager Benton Stegall told him. The plan is to harvest the driest area first, and then in a couple of more weeks, move on to chopping down the next section.
“I think we’re going to make some pretty good progress on that fairly quickly,” Bovaird said.
With the resignation of former Human Resources Director Deanna Nelson, Bovaird said the job opening is posted first internally for existing city employees, and then the city manager will be casting a net farther out in the external realm, per the guidelines in the current employee handbook.
Another option for the next human resources director for Williston, he said, could be to hire an independent contractor. This is an option to consider for the cost invested in that service for the return on that expenditure, Bovaird intimated.
Albert Fuller Sr. speaks with the City Council and learns the job description for the human resources director already exists in the city’s records. He also was assured the search for the next HR director will go beyond just the existing city employees, as well as there may be consideration of hiring a separate firm to provide that service to the city -- rather than having a city employee be the director human resources.
He said that if research goes toward the contractor method for HR, then he will bring that to the City Council for its ruling on whether this new route is one to take.
He alerted listeners to the potential four short electrical outages along Northwest Seventh Street, north of the 800 block, to better serve the Country Lane Estates Subdivision. These outages, anticipated to last no more than 30 minutes, are needed as the Williston Utilities Department replaces a couple of power poles.
In other electric service news, the new city manager said there is research into residential solar electric generators feeding back into the city electric grid. This is for homeowners using solar energy to potentially plug into the city’s power grid.
Among the happy other news of the night, City Councilman Elihu Ross has returned to action.
He said he appreciates the thoughts and prayers for his recovery from health issues, and he mentioned he is especially thankful for the bouquet of flowers sent to him.
Williston Mayor Charles Goodman is seen in action at the meeting. Another place where the mayor works is in the construction of the future municipal animal shelter out near the municipal airport. The mayor, a retired general contractor, has donated countless hours to help assure the structure will serve dogs and cats, and their future families of humans for many years to come after it is finished and operating.
Williston Police Chief Mike Rolls and Williston Fire Chief Lamar Stegall are seen just before the start of the meeting. In Williston, unlike in some cities, the police officers and firefighters work together. The departments’ chiefs even call upon the same person to serve as their executive assistant – Brooke Willis. During the meeting, the police chief said the newest officer is progressing well. Also, officers are practicing using the bulletproof shields that were recently given to the Friends of the WPD for use by the WPD.
Williston Code Enforcement Officer Wayne Carson tells the City Council about a 1970 era boat and boat trailer (with a broken axle) that appears to have been abandoned at 811 E. Noble Ave. (U.S. Alt. 27). This abandoned property includes buried gas pumps of 1992 vintage, City Planner Laura Jones said. The owner of the property has failed to pay taxes for many years and there are multiple investors who bought tax deeds on the land. Carson said he does not want to see this location become a dumping ground like it has in the past. The city has more than $100,000 worth of fines against it so far for proved zoning violations.
Finance Director Stephen Bloom reports on the monthly status of the city. Generally, Williston is in good financial standing. In a separate matter, the City Council chose Purvis Gray as the auditors again. The fee increased from $40,000 to $46,000 this year for that service. The city is receiving more grants, and therefore there is more work. This combines with inflation to show reason for the 15 percent cost hike. Purvis Gray has served as the city’s auditor for several years, and this helps it know where to look for potential issues as well as for probable improvements from previous years.
Park Avenue named after MLK
Southwest Second Street stays the same
By Jeff M. Hardison © Sept. 14, 2022 at 5:12 p.m.
CHIEFLAND – A poll of people in Chiefland showed 94 individuals choosing to name Chiefland’s Park Avenue after the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Park Avenue will be named after Dr. King on the eastern and western sides of Main Street (U.S. Highway 19). Of course, this was a foregone conclusion after the Levy County government acted on its own weeks ago.
In the second of two surveys, there were 11 people who wanted to name Southwest Second Street in the area between Southwest Fourth Avenue (State Road 345) and Park Avenue after Dr. King.
In the end, the 94-11 tally showed Park Avenue to be the place where the civil rights leader’s name will be seen in Chiefland.
The issue again was opened for discussion Monday night (Sept. 12) at the Chiefland City Commission, though, and once again it was a long talk.
As noted in a previous story, Park Avenue is maintained by the Levy County Road Department. And as noted before, Michael Dockery succeeded in persuading Levy County Coordinator Wilbur Dean to have the Levy County Road Department create and post signs on Park Avenue East and West.
Those signs were taken down after County Coordinator Dean was brought into awareness that the Chiefland City Commission did not choose for that to happen. However, after a lot of discussion Monday night – it looks like the county’s signs are going up in the city again.
Chiefland Mayor Chris Jones said on Monday night that the naming of Martin Luther King Street is something in which the community should take great pride.
Also, as he spoke, the mayor said 100 people have decided a question that relates to more than 3,300 residents of Chiefland. He did not broach the question of visitors to the city – including several people who own business interests or who rent post office boxes in this municipality.
The discussion during the Chiefland City Commission meeting on Sept. 12 showed in the second version of polling people in the city, that the municipality’s leaders chose this time against buying an ad in the weekly Levy County Citizen.
Instead, people polled people. Alice Monyei said she gave the second survey to people voting on election day during the primaries. The polling team set up a tent and stayed all day to get input, Monyei said. Of course, the group was outside an area that would interfere with actual voting.
She said people who responded to the survey this time were of every “race, creed and color,” not just black. Other people were polled by Monyei and other volunteers knocking on doors, she said; but 75 percent of the 94 people who chose Park Avenue were not found from the door-to-door polling method.
Monyei said pollsters received more results at the tent than from the door-to-door polling.
City Manager Laura Cain on Sept. 12 said that the City Commission on Aug. 2 voted to name Southwest Second Street, between SR 345 and Park Avenue as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street. It was right after that vote, Cain said, when the county put up the signs on Park Avenue.
When Dean learned the City Commission had named the street after Dr. King, he took the signs down, Cain said. As was mentioned at the city meeting weeks ago, having a street and an avenue with which it intersects having the same name, even if it is noted “also known as,” there would be confusion for emergency responders and others to determine where they are planning to go to render help.
Like the discussion in August, the Sept. 12 discussion was long.
Cain said the City Commissions chose to do away with the first survey results, where the City Commission had named Southwest Second Street to become Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, between SR 345 and Park Avenue.
By the City Commission choosing in August to repeal its prior decision, it also chose by consensus to allow a second survey, Cain said.
Chiefland City Attorney Norm D. Fugate said he understands that Park Avenue is a county-maintained road in the city. Therefore, he added, it is under the control of the Levy County Board of County Commissioners.
“I don’t think that this body (the Chiefland City Commission) has the power to name (rename) that street (Park Avenue),” City Attorney Fugate said.
He went on to mention that even if the City Commission renamed Southwest Second Street as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, and despite the logistical nightmare for emergency services, the Levy County Commission could name Park Avenue as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, or whatever else it wants.
Dockery, a former Florida Department of Transportation worker, said he know that the Levy County Road Department maintains Park Avenue and that the Levy County Board of County Commissioners could rename the road.
Dockery explained, as he did weeks ago, that the county would list the road as “also known as” in an effort to not cause problems with 9-1-1 designated addresses on a road that is renamed. So, it would be Park Avenue, which is also known as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue (or aka MLK Street, etc.).
Dockery said the county government put the signs up on its right-of-way, which is within the city limits but is not the city’s right of way – on Park Avenue on the east and west side of U.S. 19 (Main Street).
Dockery mentioned that the ad purchased by the city in the Levy County Citizen only brought in 35 names of people favoring Second Street to be named after the late Dr. King.
He reminded the City Commission that Monyei had created her version of the survey, and the city did not accept her version. That is what led to the second poll, which happened from people going door-to-door seeking signatures, as well as manning a tent during election day near to City Hall.
In the second survey, Dockery said, this was one that was completely provided by City Manager Cain. It was the one version rather than two versions from before – the one published in the weekly and the one created by Monyei.
As he promoted the naming of Park Avenue in an “also known as” manner, Dockery said he feels like the City Commission is not willing to accept the choice of 94 people over the 11 people on which of the two roadways to name. He added that he doubts the 3,300 residents of Chiefland would choose one way or the other on naming a road.
Dockery said there is more traffic on and across Park Avenue than Second Street Southwest.
City Commissioner Lewrissa “Rissa” Johns said she is heartbroken over the fact that there is an argument in Chiefland about which street to name in honor of Dr. King. Johns said that when she suggested roads to name, she was thinking also of honoring the late Mayor Betty Walker (April 17, 1946-Feb. 25, 2019), because Walker lived on Southwest 12th Drive. The city cannot name a county-maintained road, Johns said, and that is part of what led to Second Street Southwest being chosen.
City Commissioner Johns said that her choice would be to put the question on a city election ballot, and to let the qualified voters of Chiefland make the choice. She noted it seems hurtful that there is any argument about naming a street in honor of the civil rights leader and Baptist preacher who was assassinated in on April 4, 1968, Memphis, Tennessee.
City Commissioner Norman Weaver said the Levy County Citizen is “a Williston newspaper” that “does not represent Chiefland.” He added that there is apathy in regard to politics by the people of Chiefland.
“People just don’t vote,” Weaver said.
Weaver argued against City Commissioner Johns’ idea of putting the questions on an actual ballot.
Mayor Jones told Weaver that Weaver erred when he apologized a couple of weeks ago. The city staff members did exactly what they were asked to do, including running an ad in the newspaper and counting the actual survey results that came in from that – rather than including the input that Monyei generated.
Mayor Jones added that he has been a firefighter. When a first responder gets a call and the person calling for help tells the dispatcher an address, and there is an MLK Street and an avenue that is also known as MLK, then there can be lost time in decoding where the help is needed.
Lost time in emergency responses can lead to more damage to property, increased severity of suffering from injuries or loss of life.
Jones said he is not opposing one road or another. He is unhappy with the manner in which the first set of two different results came to the city.
The bottom line is that the Chiefland City Commission is NOT naming Southwest Second Street after Dr. King, even though the majority of the Chiefland City Commission initially had named it thusly, according to the results the city leaders received from ad the government bought in a weekly newspaper.
Instead, the choice of the Levy County government to name Park Avenue, in the City of Chiefland, after Dr. King. Therefore, both east and west Park Avenue is a road, street or avenue that will also be known as being named after Dr. King as well as being named Park Avenue.
As for 9-1-1 designations, it will just be Park Avenue, and the same is true for addresses, and business letterhead, etc.
Another bit of recognition, beyond the honor bestowed posthumously on Dr. King’s legacy, happened Monday night in Chiefland as members of the city government’s workforce were honored.
Jackie Bennett has been working for the city for 15 years and his anniversary of service was noted. Randy McCumber heralds 10 years with the municipal government now. They were absent from the meeting.
Deputy City Clerk Belinda Wilkerson marked her fifth anniversary with the city. City Manager Laura Cain, who is the ex-officio city clerk of Chiefland, said Wilkerson is her go-to person.’
Wilkerson began with the city as grants coordinator, and the relatively recent recognition of the city’s newest fire truck is thanks to the work of Wilkerson as grants coordinator, City Manager Cain said during the program to honor the deputy city clerk.
Click on the ad above
to be notified via email
about Instant News Alerts.