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City Hires Attorney

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By Ada Lang

After a process that narrowed a field of seven candidates down to three, the Cedar Key Commission voted to hire a new attorney. 

In a 3-2 vote Tuesday night, Norman Fugate of Williston was chosen for the job. 

Mayor Heath Davis, whose wife Jolie Davis is an associate at Fugate's firm, cast one of the three votes to hire Fugate. Voting with him were Dale Register and Scott Dennison. 

David Coffey resigned earlier this year as city attorney. His associate Holly Blumenthal, one of three finalists for the position, has served as interim city attorney since May. Her contract expires Oct. 1. 

Commissioners Sue Colson and Gene Hodges voted to retain Blumenthal, who quoted a lower fee for services than the $5,000 per month that will be paid to Fugate.

Colson asked Fugate about a possible conflict with representing the city and having Jolie Davis in his firm.

Fugate said he did not feel there was any conflict of interest, because Jolie Davis only works on real estate transactions, not municipal matters.  

The city commission also decided that boaters who use the marina to launch and park their boats but do not pay the $10 fee will face the likelihood of finding a boot placed on their tires once they get back to shore. 

Over $1,000 is due for launch fee fines, primarily by six people who have about 40 citations, according toPolice Chief Virgil Sandlin. 

The price to launch and park is $10 per day and annual passes are available for Cedar Key residents, for $130 and unlimited use.

Boots cost $300 to $700 each and Public Works Director Josh Wilson recommended buying two, however the commission approved buying one. They also approved developing a written policy and ordinance. Three violations will result in a boot being applied to offender’s vehicle until parking fines are paid. 

Cedar Key resident, Jerald Beckham, asked for and received approval to construct a dock and boat slip on the inside marina for his new boat tour and fishing guide service. There are eight existing pilings, and he would pay for the construction and leave it in place after his lease expires — should he decide to not renew. He will pick up and drop off customers at the floating docks and will only use the space as a “store front” and boat storage area. He received unanimous approval.