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2012 — The Year in Review

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JANUARY

 

Cat shelter case goes to court

A citation for a cat shelter that houses about 75 felines at the Gulf Boulevard home of Doreen and Oliver Bauer will go to Levy County Court on Tuesday, Jan. 10.

The issue, which first arose at a City Commission meeting in late November has spurred a rash of “Letters to the Editor” in the past month.  Neighbors complained at the commission meeting about the number of cats and the odor and flies generated by their presence on the residential property.

 

Cat shelter must reduce population

A couple who shelter 50-70 cats at their Cedar Key home must reduce the population, pay a $150 fine, $5 court costs and return to court on Feb. 14 to show progress in remedying the associated odor and fly problems.

 

City concerned about EMS presence

Cedar Key City Commissioners raised the concern of ambulances not always being available to citizens at its Jan. 17 meeting.

Volunteer Fire and Rescue Chief Robert Robinson said, “The Med 5 ambulance, stationed just outside the No. 4 Bridge in Cedar Key, is called repeatedly to stage in Otter Creek, and there are multiple times when an ambulance is not available throughout Levy County for several hours.”

 

FEBRUARY

 

Workforce Connection to help

staff laid off by fire

Workers displaced by last week’s fire at the Rusty Rim and Coconuts restaurants will be getting a helping hand when Workforce Connection brings its mobile unit to the Cedar Key Public Library on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 

Long-time educator announces retirement

Sue Ice, principal at Cedar Key School, did not intend to retire this year. She was planning on doing it next year.

But her husband, Rob, is retiring this summer and they would like to do a lot of things together.

 

Signs of drought seen

While the effects of little to no rain are obvious in the flow of area springs and rivers, farm experts agree that the record-breaking drought is still too early in its development to cause much worry for farmers in the Tri-County area.

 

Family displaced by fire

Funds, clothing and household items are being collected for the family of Fred Berger after the couple and their three boys were displaced by a fire at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday at the mobile home they rented in Rosewood.

 

Trouble on the horizon

Reduced freshwater flow from the Suwannee River into the Gulf is responsible for a 66 percent decline in oyster populations in Cedar Key and the Big Bend area, according to scientists from the University of Florida.

 

Three rescued

The Coast Guard rescued three sailboaters who were capsized and adrift two miles southeast of Atsena Otie Key on Monday.

The Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a call forwarded by the Levy County Sheriff’s Dispatch Center at 7 p.m., Sunday, from a concerned family member. The caller said three men; ages 53, 40 and 16, were overdue from a sailing trip. The trio departed from Cedar Key on Sunday to sail their 16-foot fiberglass catamaran around Atsena Otie Key, approximately one mile offshore.

 

MARCH

 

Cover net questions

Representing the Cedar Key Aquaculture Association (CKAA), Ken Edmunds updated Cedar Key commissioners on the results of the joint partnership between the City of Cedar Key and the CKAA to dispose of cover nets at the Shell Pile site.

 

Community health

More than 100 people lined up on Friday for the free health screenings at the Annual Cedar Key Lions Club Health Fair at the Cedar Key Community Center.

 

New Ag/Marine officer named

Levy County Sheriff’s Lt. Shawn Hunt has been named to the first Agriculture/Marine Unit in the department.

 

A bridge to peach

Three dozen Cedar Key participants along with visitors from as far away as Nepal, observed International Women’s Day on March 8 at the Dock in Cedar Key.

 

Levy roads named after fallen sons

State Rep. Leonard Bembry (D-Madison) announced today that CS/HB 7039, a bill designating roads in Levy County for Marine Lance Cpl. Brian R. Buesing, Army Sgt. Karl A. Campbell and Army Spc. James A. Page has passed both houses of the Florida Legislature. 

 

Whose teaching whom

Cedar Key School was recognized Friday by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for outstanding efforts in 2011 to promote recycling.

 

Rescuers pursue pelican

After a young couple sitting on the deck of the Black Dog noticed an injured Brown Pelican sitting on the ruins behind Seabreeze restaurant, there have been several attempts the past couple of days to catch the bird in order to bring it to a rehabilitation clinic.

 

Recycling to return... maybe

Levy County Coordinator Fred Moody says he is looking to restart the county’s recycling program next week. 

County officials have been waiting on the contract from the state Department of Corrections officials that will allow the county to use 14 women inmates from Lowell Correctional Institution.

 

APRIL

 

Funding sought for promotion

“Come to Cedar Key” is not a message motorists driving on Interstate-75 are likely to see in 2012. 

Not unless some entity other than the Levy County Tourist Development Council is willing to pay for it.

 

FFA teams headed to state

Three months of work, dozens of after-school pizzas and showing up at 4:30 a.m. to cut up fresh fruit all paid off this past week for the Cedar Key FFA chapters.

The FFA will be sending five teams to the state Ornamental Horticulture finals later this month at the University of Florida. 

 

It’s coming

This weekend, historic downtown Cedar Key will transform into a celebration of fine art. Old Florida Celebration of the Arts is marking its 48th anniversary and is one of the premier outdoor fine arts festivals in the state.

 

State winners

The Cedar Key Middle School brought home its third consecutive state FFA Aquaculture Championship on April 21 and one team member was singled out as the top finisher overall.

 

MAY

 

Festival a success - again

Reports had crowd counts slightly below last year’s tremendous turnout, but given the 90-degree weather and high gas prices, attendance was good. Food vendors in the park reported steady sales, but most did not sell out. The artists reported higher sales on Saturday and were overall very happy with the event and the organization of the show. Most expressed their desire to come back next year because of the wonderful hospitality provided by the entire community.

 

Dennison wins re-election

Incumbent City Commissioner Scott Dennison apparently has won re-election over challenger Margey VanLandingham in Tuesday’s Cedar Key city elections.

Official results showed Dennison received 199 votes to VanLandingham’s 82. This will be Dennison’s third two-year term on the commission.

 

Recycling is back

The Levy County recycling program is back in business and trailers are being distributed around the county this week.

The county pulled its recycling trailers in mid-February after the state closed a work camp that supplied inmate labor for sorting and handling the recyclables at the county landfill.

 

Dedication ceremony set

Marine Lance Cpl. Brian R. Buesing was one of the first deaths in the Iraq war when it started in 2003. Nine years later the state will dedicate a portion of State Road 24 in his honor.

 

Hodges named mayor

For the first order of business at the May 15 City Commissioners meeting, city clerk Francis Hodges swore in Scott Dennison and Dave Feigin as city commissioners. The second order of business was for the commission to vote for mayor. Gene Hodges and Dale Register were nominated with Gene Hodges elected mayor by a three to two vote. Dale Register was elected as vice-mayor by a four to one vote.

 

Bridge work coming

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is scheduled to begin a project on State Road 24 to repair and protect the Number 4 Bridge (Havens Creek), two miles north of Cedar Key this week.

 

JUNE

 

CK dolphins of interest

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts say there’s something special about Cedar Key dolphins.

“They have unique feeding behaviors not seen anywhere else in the world,” said PhD candidate Stefanie Gazda in a phone interview Friday.

 

FFA garners more honors

Ashlyn Allen and MacKenzie Kirkbride are the newest members of the Cedar Key FFA chapter to bring home a state champion FFA trophy.

 

Drought worsens

Residents considering violating the water restrictions that kicked in on June 13 should take into consideration they could face arrest and, if prosecuted and found guilty, a penalty of up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.

 

Drought hits home

Ceday Key is the latest on an ever-growing list of victims suffering from record-low groundwater levels.

Cedar Key Sewer and Water District Chair David Beach announced in an emergency meeting Tuesday that saltwater intrusion has impacted all three of the city’s working wells.

 

Making an impact

The Cedar Key FFA chapter has been awarded $2,500 as part of the inaugural FFA: Food For All program.

The nationwide program provides grant money to local FFA chapters to help support year-long-service-learning projects focused on developing and implementing sustainable hunger relief projects.

 

Rain comes - but at a price

The biggest damage from Tropical Storm Debby seems to be in sinkholes opening in Chiefland, Williston and the county with wind and high water damage in Cedar Key where Dock Street took a lashing.

 

JULY

 

Temporary solution reached

Plans for a temporary solution to Cedar Key’s saltwater intrusion are underway.

The Cedar Key Water and Sewer District voted unanimously June 26 to move forward with purchasing a reverse osmosis filtration system to help remove excessive salts from the city’s water system.

 

Help is on the way

Help is on the way to alleviate the city’s salty water problem with the approval of two reverse osmosis units to desalinate well water. 

Since June 18 when the Cedar Key Water & Sewer District announced that its wells are experiencing saltwater intrusion, residents have been making do with bottled water for drinking and cooking.

 

A tax by any other name

Levy County fire assessments would more than double to $110 from $40 per residence and the emergency medical services assessment would rise from $78 to $119 per residence under preliminary resolutions unanimously adopted by the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday.

 

Another title

Sarah Bartholemy placed third in the state in the FFA Creed Speaking

contest.

 

AUGUST

 

Boater rescued

A Micanopy man was evacuated from a burning 26-foot boat about 15 miles west of Cedar Key by the Coast Guard on Saturday and brought to George Lewis Airport for treatment, according to information provided by the agency and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

 

Paying the piper

The Levy County Commission unanimously adopted a higher property tax millage of 8.5759, up from 7.8144, but that may not be the final word on the property tax rate for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

 

Water now safe

Residents were able to turn on the taps after 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1, and drink to their satisfaction as the the Cedar Key Water & Sewer District was given approval from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to allow human consumption of the District’s water supply.

 

Pelican loses beak after rescue

Life at times makes people question what this world is coming to. But of all the things you could possibly see, a pelican with a knife jabbed through its beak is one of the last to be imagined. 

 

McCallum defeats Sullivan

Bobby McCallum, who lost a close race for sheriff four years ago, bounced back on Tuesday to decisively win by 20 points in unofficial results over Sheriff’s Maj. Evan Sullivan for the Republican nomination in one of the most heated races in Levy County history.

 

Commissioner resigns

Commissioner Dave Feigin, elected in May 2011, has resigned and the city commission is taking applications.

 

Garnering attention

Cedar Key School may be the smallest in the state, but it’s got one of the best FFA programs in the country.

In July, a film crew from Farm Journal TV came to the school to document part of what it is that makes the program and its participants so special.

 

Design selected

The Old Florida Celebration of the Arts (OFCA) announced the winner for the OFCA 2013 Festival Design.

After a thorough review process with the pool of 2012 OFCA winners, three finalists were presented to the OFCA Committee - resulting in the selection of Shell Mound -  a mosaic made from hand-shaped ceramic tile by award winning Mosaic Artist and Cedar Key resident, Valerie Bretl.

 

SEPTEMBER

 

Airport improvements planned

A firm that helped draw up the 2006 master plan for George T. Lewis Airport in Cedar Key has been chosen as consultant for improvements to the airport.

 

Davis returns to council

Former Cedar Key Mayor Heath Davis was chosen to fill the unexpired term on the City Commission by the four remaining members on Tuesday evening. 

 

Volunteers help preserve Atsena Otie Cemetery

Karen Pinkston leaned over the cracked slab and brushed away the dirt and grime of a century of neglect. The name of a young girl cast into the homemade stone, Missouri, was barely made visible.

 

OCTOBER

 

The past revisited

When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and gushed crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, folks in Levy County warily watched to see if the oil would reach the county’s coastlines. 

While the oil came no closer than about 250 miles, it affected Levy’s tourism and aquaculture businesses as visitors vacationed elsewhere and stopped buying Florida seafood fearing contamination.

Now the county could get a share of the fines to be paid by BP — operator of the oil rig — under the federal Clean Water Act.

 

Oyster industry falls upon hard times

The multi-generational tradition of extracting a gnarly, irregular-shaped mollusk — oysters — from the sounds and bays that dot the state’s Big Bend area.

From Waccasassa Bay on through the Suwannee Sound past the bend into Apalachicola Bay, their industry and way of life is besieged by the vagaries of climate and what some describe as government inflexibility regarding rules.

 

Author writes about CK lighthouse keeper

It’s not often one finds area historian and author Toni C. Collins walking around in period clothing. She does it on occasion, but usually only for special events aimed at teaching the public a bit about the history of Levy County or, as was the case Monday, to help form in the mind of a reporter the likeness of a 19th Century lighthouse keeper named Catharine Hobday.

 

Despite tax increase

Full-time county workers who have not received a pay increase in five years may get a little something in their paycheck before Thanksgiving: a $600 bonus check.

The down side is they will have to look in their department’s budget to find the cash.

 

Scientist gives talk

The Nature Coast will see drastic changes due to sea level rise by the turn of the century, according to a state expert at a meeting last Thursday night.

 

Mmmm... seafood

Cedar Key was abuzz this past weekend as thousands of visitors flooded the island for its 43rd Annual Seafood Festival.

 

NOVEMBER

 

National convention

Members of the Cedar Key FFA attended the 85th Annual National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana last week. Nathaneal Brinkman, Taylor Davison, Lauren Bartholemy, MacKenzie Kirkbride, Taryn Epperson, Mikayla Pope and Sarah Bartholemy attended the convention October 23rd- October 27th. 

“It was a great honor being invited to this dinner. Being able to chat with CEO’s and meet so many people including FFK was another honor in itself,” said president Lauren Bartholemy. “I’m sad it’s over and I can’t wait to go back next year.”

 

Climate change warning

Dan Kipnis said he loves Cedar Key. He just wouldn’t want to buy property here. 

Speaking before two-dozen people Nov. 3 at the Cedar Key public library, Kipnis  warned about pending catastrophes from global warming. The traveling boat captain used scientific data, photos and land-mass projections to show the destruction climate change could do to Earth, and costal communities in particular, if action isn’t taken. 

 

Airport to receive facelift

Travelers on County Road 470, better known as Southwest 166th Street, or the taxiway for the George T. Lewis Airport in Cedar Key, might just slow down and look for the new route the road will take in early 2013.

 

Fund raising for Fisher House

The Cedar Key Woman’s Club had the honor of receiving a donation of a handmade queen-size quilt from a supporter of Fisher House Foundation who lives in Texas and has family members living in Cedar Key.

 

Water board to fill seat

The Cedar Key Water and Sewer District Board of Commissioners has a vacancy that was created by the election of Chris Cowart to the Levy County School Board and it is accepting applications for a replacement.

 

More bridge work planned

Get used to seeing the repair crew that is working on the No. 4 bridge on State Road 24, because when they finish that project they will be moving down the road to do similar repairs and rehabilitation to the No. 3 Channel bridge.

 

Board appoints manager

When the Cedar Key Water & Sewer District Board started looking for a replacement for their late manager Jack Hotaling they just had to turn their heads to the end of the board table for a replacement. 

John McPherson, the board’s attorney who usually sits by the end of the board table and has been filling Hotaling’s position on an interim basis, told the board earlier this month that he was enjoying the work and he would like to make them an offer to do the manager’s job on a one-year contract.

 

DECEMBER

 

Team takes third in state

As soon as school started this fall, the Cedar Key Senior FFA Forestry Team started practicing after school and on weekends. The FFA Forestry Contest is one of the most competitive contests in Florida.

“In our district alone, we must beat 26 other schools just to move on to state finals,” said Denny Voyles, Cedar key FFA Advisor.

 

Water board fills seat

Christopher Reynolds, owner of Cedar Key Shoals Inc. clam company, was chosen to fill a vacancy on the Cedar Key Water & Sewer District Board during the agency’s Monday meeting. 

 

FFA gives to community

Members of the Cedar Key FFA “turn-up” the giving by donating fresh turnips to the local food pantry. The turnips are just the tip of the iceberg (lettuce humor) of the flow of fresh vegetables being grown for the Cedar Key Food Pantry.

 

Commissioner faces battery charge

A sworn complaint for misdemeanor battery has been made against Cedar Key City Commissioner C. Dale Register after an altercation with another man on Thursday, Dec. 13, at about 9 p.m. by the Fraternal Order of Eagles lodge.

 

Three seek administrator position

The Cedar Key City Commission has narrowed the list candidates for the city administrator position to three and will interview the candidates in the New Year.

The decision came in the commission’s last meeting of the year on Tuesday. The three candidates are: Rosemary Cantelli of Cedar Key, Eileen  Bower of Cedar Key and Britt Nichols of Kansas.