Former Mayor Roy Sills mourned at commisison meeting

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By Claude Lewis

There was a somber spell cast over Tuesday night's Cedar Key City Commissioners monthly meeting, as all folks attending bowed their heads for a moment of silence in memory of Roy Sills.

Sills, a former city commissioner and mayor in 2002, died unexpectedly over the weekend at his home off the Cedar Keys in rural Levy County.

Current Mayor Heath Davis said Sills was a close friend of his and was too emotional to talk much about his death.

"He was loved and he will be missed," he said.

Commissioner Sue Colson asked for the moment of silence.

Sills, who was just 45 years old, was still a clammer in the waters off the Keys.

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Cedar Key is currently searching for a replacement for Police Officer Eddie Merritt, whose last day on the job will be July 24. Merritt has been with the Cedar Key force for three years. He is leaving for a position in Gilchrist County.

"In the past, Cedar Key has been a training ground for young officers just out of academy," acting Police Chief Virgil Sandlin said.

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The City Commissioners OK'd Tom Liebert's request to lease a plot of land near the beach for kayak rental.

The shallow water around the Cedar Keys are a popular place for kayakers and canoers. Kayak fishing has also become quite popular.

For more information, see www.kayakcedarkey.com

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A good chunk of the meeting wandered on the topic of the hurricane season, which is now here.

This is the first year Cedar Key has a siren system to warn islanders to evacuate.

Mayor Davis said folks need to leave the islands when the siren sounds.

"That would put a lot less burden on our police and rescue personnel," he said.

People in the audience responded that the county, which orders evacuations, has been wrong most of the time as far as direct hurricane strikes go.

The general feeling was that people would leave when they wanted to, not when the sirens sound.

Davis warned that was not a good idea.

Water Engineer Jack Hotaling said that the water would be turned off shortly after the sounding of sirens, which would most likely make up a lot of minds to leave.

Commissioner Pat O'Neal has worked hard on hurricane preparedness and wants people to be informed.

A plethora of hurricane information is available to the public at City Hall.

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Waste Pro has asked for a 15 percent increase in trash pickup rates because of rising fuel costs. While an increase is understandable, the 15 percent was questioned. Additional documentation will be requested.

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The topic of employee performance reviews was discussed. Ruth Hernandez, who works for the University of Florida's Human Resources Department, will be heading up a review of employee policies. To what extent still will be determined.

"We want every employee to be on the same, level playing field," Davis said.