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October 207
Cedar Key, Florida

Having had hands-on volunteer arts and mental health volunteer experience for the past 5 years, I have come to passionately support this proposed change to the Florida constitution. Twenty years ago, I founded the Journey Daybook, a registered Florida non-profit collaborative. We work one-on-one with select small groups of women inmates at the Florida Women’s Reception Center, in Lowell, near Ocala FL. We teach these women how to access their intuition and express their feelings through written, illustrated journals. I have had a unique opportunity to know many of these women on a personal basis as friends and to understand the harsh reality and heartfelt healing and redemption that that can result after a long prison sentence.

Recently, there has been much in the media describing the problems and challenges of incarcerated adults who adapt to recreating their lives outside prison. Among these spokespersons are Susan Burton, author of Becoming Ms Burton: from Prison to Recovery. She received a CNN Hero of the Year award in 2010. Recently, there have been several other books and documentaries made on this subject. Just Google the subject of “Prison Reform” and you will find a wealth of material.

Florida is one of only 3 states that does not allow the restoration of voting rights after incarceration for crimes except murder and sexual assault. The other states are Kentucky and Ohio. The Commonwealth of Virginia restored voting rights to ex-felons in 2016. Isn’t it time that Florida become a state that shows compassion and opportunity to our citizens who have returned to society after incarceration?

The Florida Voting Rights Restoration Initiative (Initiative #14-01) may appear on the November 6, 2018 ballot. This measure would restore the right to vote for people with prior felony convictions, except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense, upon completion of their sentences.

In order for this ballot initiative to appear on the 2018 ballot, however, there need to be 766,200 verified signatures collected by February 1, 2018. This ballot initiative is sponsored by Floridians for a Fair Democracy who is collecting these petitions. The initiative is support by both Democratic and Republican organizations. To add your signature to the petition for ballot inclusion, go to online to -
 and sign your petition!
For more information, including specific history, facts and other data: 
Read a report from the Brennan Center, New York University Law School –

I hope that you will understand the need for adopting this ballot initiative. Thank you for the opportunity to present my concern for the restoration of rights for those of us who have already paid our debt to society.

Peggy Herrick


Thanks, Thanks 
Morriston, Florida
July 26, 2016


On behalf of Williston AARP Chapter 912 and Citizens for an Engaged Electorate (CEE), I wish to thank and congratulate the people of all ages and party preference who attended our jointly sponsored Candidate Forum on Saturday, July 23.

We appreciate the city’s willingness to allow the event to take place in the community center, and we thank Mayor Heathcoat for allowing us to use the flag from City Hall.  We also thank Pam Vamosi and the Lion’s Club for graciously lending us their podium.

We are grateful for the presence of our Supervisor of Elections, Tammy Jones, who spoke and then maintained a voter registration and information table throughout the event.

We also thank the candidates for coming before the people to tell who they are, why they are running and what they plan to accomplish if they are chosen.

Jerry Lawrence and Jeff Edison for Superintendent of Schools and those running for positions on the County Commission—Berlon Weeks, John Meeks, Chetley Breeden, Mike Joyner, Matt Brooks and Danny Stevens—presented their contrasting views to enable voters to make informed choices.

Three of the six candidates running for our newly drawn U.S. Congress District 2—Steve Crapps, Rob Lapham and Ken Sukhia—drove many miles to be there, as did Florida Congressman Charlie Stone, who represents Levy County, as part of Florida House District 22. His opponent was not present.

      if you  love cedar key, boats, and music,  
     this  article is for you...


08 MAY 2016

It’s 9:30 in the morning.  I’m in the cabin of a once submerged, rather odd-looking houseboat.  I’m listening to a pianist MAY 15 Playingplay one of his own compositions.  Eyes closed, his head bobs slowly with the tempo. 

Just another Monday morning in Cedar Key. 

It began the night before.  Captain Bobby tugged on my sleeve for the second time.   “You’ve got to hear this young man play,” Bobby said.  “He’s phenomenal.”  I did and he was.  For the next hour or more, Galen Huckins coaxes notes from the baby grand in the lobby of the Island Hotel.  A bit of New Orleans jazz, mixed with just a touch of classical.  Even a dash of salsa, combined with a ballad or two.  He changes tempo, then changes key. He reaches into the piano and plucks a string.  The music flows.  One after another, each piece more captivating then the last.  After the last song Galen Huckins grins, shares a bit of his story and I'm hooked.  We make arrangements to meet in the morning……

Small Boat Weekend Rescue
Cedar Key
May 12, 2016

Cedar Key, it is déjà vu all over again.  On Saturday of small boat weekend our 17 foot Oday day sailor capsized not too far from Atsena Otie in a failed jibe attempt because of what will remain an unspecified operator error.  (Déjà vu all over again because this is our second knockdown for the same reason). 

The purpose of this letter to the editor is to thank all of the anonymous small boat weekend participants who took part in our rescue.  Our mishap occurred in water shallow enough that we could stand and we wound up walking, sheepishly, up to the beach on Seta Otie. In the meantime our boat was drifting away with the tide and wind and, honestly, we thought it might be best to just let it go.  However, that was not to be.

Several people went about rescuing our boat.  One group caught up to the drifting boat, stood on the center board which miraculously righted it, and then towed it to the beach.  Another group retrieved almost all of our equipment (including the rudder).  I think all we lost was one hat and one short piece of line.  We were then ferried to town, hitched a ride home with Andy Bair, and brought our motor boat back to tow our sailboat home.  Thanks to the efforts of many small boat weekend participants the sailboat is safely at home sitting on its lift looking no worse for its exciting Saturday.


The issue of signage is a critical one.  Proper signage informs the public what it may do, where it might go, what is legal and illegal, and so on.  In effect, signage ensures safety and promulgates adherence to expectations.  Signs are not a convenience; they are a must.  Lack of signage compromises public knowledge and consequently its safety.

Destruction of signs is not an option; however, their obliteration continues to occur on Lukens. 

On May 4, 2016, good to its word, the Suwannee River Water Management District posted signs on the Lukens Tract carefully delineating the private and public properties and the public access road through the entire Tract.  The signs were, for the second time, placed on posts driven into the ground.

On May 4, at 6 pm the signs and the posts were still in place.

On May 5, at 7:20 am, less than 24 hours later, the signs and the posts were gone, nowhere to be found in the area.


As some focus upon the Suwannee River Water Management Distract’s management regarding the Lukens Tract, others focus upon Levy County’s issuance of building permits to Topping for his property at Lukens.

Below you will find Dr. Marguerite VanLandingham’s challenge to Levy County for issuing a permit to Topping to build a home on the Lukens Tract.

Following those cogent arguments is Levy County Development Department Director William Hammond’s response to VanLandingham.   


Who Is in Charge?
22 April 2016
It has happened again . . . another visitor to the SRWMD conservation area, a public site locally known as the Lukens Tract, experienced an obscene verbal assault by the owner of the private inholding parcel. In this bullying attempt to threaten and intimidate, the property owner showed a volatile side of his personality to another person who had the legal right to be on the site.
The bullying and sending of intimidating, threatening letters to some of those who do not agree with the property owners, has been an on-going tactic since the public, some eighty individuals strong, opposed the sale of the conservation land during the SRWMD meeting in Cedar Key in November of 2015.
Now, in an attempt to keep the public out of the conservation area, tactics have intensified to include verbal, threatening assaults on people who are visiting the conservation area, with every legal right to access this public land.
The attack this Monday was only one of the attacks by the present private land owner.  The menacing, aggressive verbal abuse leveled upon visitors on in this publicly owned, pristine conservation area just north of the Number Four Bridge is inexcusable.
This public conservation area has been owned by the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) since 2011 and is managed by the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. No incidents have been reported on this public land until the recent sale of the in-parcel to the present owners. All of the confrontations have occurred on the public conservation land. Some of these attacks have been reported to law enforcement agencies and to both the SRWMD and the LSNW Refuge.
The 60-foot public access right-of-way, that runs from the paved road at the entrance to the east end of the tract, has been in use for years. The new owners were aware of the existing right-of-way and that it crossed through their property when they purchased their site.
This Lukens Tract is state conservation land and is open to the public for recreation uses. The SRWMD has had signs posted on the conservation property to inform the public of the different parcels and how to proceed through the properties. These signs lasted no more than two days before they disappeared. No one has been charged with the theft or vandalism of this state property.
This harassment of visitors to the conservation areas has to be stopped. These recent attacks are aggressive, criminal and dangerous.
This is state land managed by a federal agency. There should be no reason for the public to feel that they cannot safely visit the area. Who is in control here?
The Cedar Key News



February 11, 2016

Some registered voters in Levy County won’t be allowed to vote in the presidential preference primary next month, March 2016. It has nothing to do with picture I.D. or precinct designation.

Florida is a closed primary state, and if you are not registered as a member of the party of the person for whom you wish to vote—either Democrat or Republican—you will not be allowed to vote for that person. Citizens registered as Independent, NPA, Green, Libertarian or other party affiliations may as well stay home. They won’t be given a ballot.

It is not too late to register if you have moved or changed your name or you wish to vote for the first time. Neither is it too late to change your party affiliation if you wish to vote for your chosen candidate, but the deadline is looming. To vote in the presidential preference primary, you must declare your party ahead of time by registering for that party by February 16.

To be clear, if you wish to vote for Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, or any other Republican candidate, you must be registered as a Republican in order to get a Republican ballot in the primary on March 15 or during the early voting the week prior to that date.

If you wish to vote for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, you must be registered as a Democrat in order to get a Democratic ballot in the primary period in March.

It costs nothing to switch, and you can change right back after the vote. On the other hand, if you wish to vote in the August primary for other major party candidates, the same rules apply. You must be registered as a member of the party of the candidates for whom you wish to vote. That deadline is August 1.

Registration forms can be downloaded from the Internet at Completed forms can be mailed, but they must be postmarked by February 16, 2016. Forms can also be picked up at the office of the county’s Supervisor of Elections, any DMV office or public library.

I can’t imagine why anyone in America would skip the opportunity to vote. If you don’t think the person in the White House has an impact on your life, you are not paying attention.

People have died for the right to vote, and others have died so that you can have this privilege. Please exercise your privilege, your duty, your honor to vote.

D. Brown
Morriston FL 32668

Thanks, Cedar Key Fire and Rescue
Cedar Key, Florida
May 22, 2015
Dear Editor,
This comes to applaud the services and care afforded by Chief Robinson and the local volunteers. Last year, I fell and the response was outstanding. It is so comforting to look up from my forced prone position on the ground and see my neighbors there to help. My broken hip at the time immobilized me. Not a fun state; even for an old fellow. Many belated thanks, and may we continue to be served by these skilled and generous gentlemen and neighbors. 
Earl Starnes
Cedar Key, Florida
May 21 at 4:24 pm 

To the Citizens of Cedar Key:
I am honored and thankful that you are allowing me to return to the City Council.  Some of you know that in the last 15 years I have served our community both on and off the Council and in other roles. Public service is a priority in my life; however while Lauren and Sarah were still in high school, I withdrew from elected service in order to be more available for them, and to play a more active role in their lives while I could.  Now, as they move on to the next stage of their lives, I am excited to be back on the Council, and to apply all the things I’ve learned since last serving.  And, now that I am back, I plan on staying. How long?  As long as you will have me.
One of my goals for this term is to implement better long-term planning so that our resources are wisely allocated, and contingencies are anticipated and prepared for.  Also, I hope to run our departments in a professional manner so that citizens receive exceptional service from our City.  Most of all I look forward to listening to the needs of our community, and to rolling up my sleeves to work with the new Council and staff to provide for those needs in a frugal, efficient and timely manner. And, behind all my efforts is always the goal of protecting our community from inappropriate change so that we can preserve it the way we all love and enjoy so much.
I have been circulating throughout the community talking with many of you to gather your thoughts, and concerns.  I appreciate your taking the time to meet with me.  If I have not had time to see you, please feel free to find me.  I value your ideas and look forward to serving you.   Again, Jolie and I thank you for your support, and look forward to positive and productive years to come.
Heath Davis

Chimney-trapped Turkey Vulture
Lassoed from Rye Key Fireplace
Cedar Key, Florida
APRIL 1, 2015
The late Jack Tyson was frequently heard to exclaim “Only in Cedar Key” when he heard of the latest eccentricity that had happened in the town. Our Annual Visitors nowadays provide more weird happenings than he could have dreamed of, but we would like to share with other readers our latest home-grown adventure.
On Tuesday last we, sadly, decided that, after weeks of extensive market research, the ospreys are not going to nest on top of our chimney this year. On Thursday, however, there were definite rustlings inside the chimney that suggested the swifts might be back and preparing to rear another of the happy families that we have fostered over the years. But it’s not nearly time for the swifts, so what else could it be? A first sighting of a bit of wing indicated a bird that might possibly be a dove, but with some gymnastics and the help of a flashlight we eventually decided that the small naked red head and a beady eye identified our visitor as a somewhat sooty and uncomfortable turkey vulture.

Cell Tower Update in Cedar Key
Scott Dennison
Cedar Key, Florida 32625

 Dear Editor,

Jeff Pilgrim, the ATC (American Tower Corp.) Project Manager, has indicated that all four suggested sites are acceptable to the carriers and are suitable for construction.
Here is a brief synopsis of some facts concerning this project;
1. City tax dollars - NO public funds will be used to permit, construct, maintain, repair, or operate the ATC site. ATC and its tenants fund the entire permitting, construction, maintenance, repair and operation of the tower site. 
2. Safety - ATC will construct the tower to meet all current City and State building codes, and it will be engineered to meet the windstorm requirements. Any buildings will meet the requirements of the current lease agreement and approvals of the City. 
3. Liability - ATC and the tower tenants carry liability insurance for any catastrophic collapse or fire at the tower site. The City taxpayers are not liable. 
4. FCC Regulations -  The ATC site must comply with FCC regulations which limit the wattage or signal strength to stay within the prescribed limits for public health and safety. The regulated carriers use automated monitoring systems to ensure their equipment complies with the FCC and other regulations. These regulated companies face severe fines should their equipment exceed the regulatory requirements for public health and safety. FCC Info link: (FCC summary attached)
5. Site location - There are 4 sites under consideration by the City ; the City parking lots at 3rd and D Streets (SR24), or at 3rd and A Streets, or on Park Street adjacent to Cedar Key Marina II building, or the public works parking adjacent to the fire department. ALL of these sites are acceptable to both ATC and the prospective cell companies. The City Commission approves the final location. 
6. Site construction - The City lease agreement specifically dictates the site requirements and appearance. Any buildings must comply with the appearance requirements of the agreement, as well as, City and State FBC building requirements.  Chain link fencing and security bob wire is not permitted. 
Improved cell service will allow our residents, businesses, and guest to maintain critical communications for their own safety, family, and business communications. Our own police and fire departments use City provided cell phones for their daily and emergency communications. Florida's aggressive eHealth initiative is designed to support improved communications for rural communities with their doctors and health service providers.
I would suggest City taxpayers to contact the City Commission at;
Mayor Dale Register
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Vice-Mayor Sue Colson
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Royce Nelson
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Annette Hodges
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Tina Ryan
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Tale of Two Counties
Thank you for the timely and thought provoking editorial "Tale of Two Counties." Although currently I'm not a resident of Levy County, I am an admirer of Cedar Key, and subscribe to the Cedar Key News.  
This election year the National News is concerned with individual States hastily pushing through legislation to prevent "Voter Fraud," Levy County Florida and Mr. James Griffin provide a new twist on this problem. The voters of Levy County deserve clarification on a number of issues put forth in your Editorial. As an interested Party so do I.
Would the Levy County Property Appraiser help me understand how the legal residency issue was overlooked?
Would Mr. Griffin help me understand why he would choose, under the circumstances, to run for Levy County Commissioner and not run for one of the two open Dixie County Commissioner seats?
Since records indicate that Mr. Griffin is a resident of both Dixie, and Levy Counties. (registered in Dixie County in 2010 and Levy County in 2012), is he listed as eligible to vote in both counties in the same election? If so, has he? 
Maureen Reilly-Nathanson
Hypoluxo, Florida
31 October 2014



CKN has never endorsed a candidate for public office. The CKN Board of Directors has had a policy of requiring unanimous agreement on political endorsements, hence none have ever been made. Furthermore, CKN has assiduously avoided the interwoven emotional minefields of religion, abortion and guns. However, we believe that newspapers, even local newspapers, must report critical fact-based articles during contested elections.
On October 29, 2014, CKN published an article about a candidate for office in Levy County. The article is based on hard facts found in the public record. The candidate in question was given ample advanced opportunity to respond to questions raised by the article. Our pages are open, as always, to letters to the editor, within the published policies of our paper.
We welcome discussion.
Editor, Cedar Key News
from the editor
November 10, 2015

More information has come to light of late;  it is abbreviated below.  The bottom line is still the same: all discussions thus far involve express denial of public access to the Lukens Tract.  


The Toppings made two “offers” to the Suwannee River Water Management District on October 13, 2015.  Both “swaps” involve denial of public access to the Lukens Tract.


The first involves:
Donation of ownership of parcels of land Parcels 1 and 5 (combined) 2, or 3, to the SRWMD  in exchange for fee ownership of District lands on either side of the Topping’s current property within the Lukens Tract.  The exchange expressly eliminates   public access to the Lukens Tract.

In effect, for one or two small properties (see property sizes below) which are geographically separated from SRWMD other properties, and thus difficult to manage, the Toppings acquire nearly the entire Lukens Tract with no public access.

The second involves:
Donate fee ownership of Parcel 4 in exchange for the removal of public access through the Topping land on Lukens Tract. 

In effect, for one less-than-on- acre-sized property, which is geographically separated from SRWMD other properties, and thus difficult to manage, the Toppings get nearly the entire Lukens Tract with no public access.


Parcel 1 is  9.56 acres of coastal estuary, tidal marsh, fresh water wetlands, some uplands.
Parcel 2 is 0.94 acres of mostly uplands and some coastal estuary.
Parcel 3 is 1.54 acres of mostly coastal estuary and some uplands.
Parcel 4 is 0.92 acres of mostly coastal estuary and some uplands.
Parcel 5 is  0.19 acres of coastal estuary.
Some of these parcels are underwater.

According to the Levy County Tax records as of today, some of these parcels are not currently owned by the Toppings.

The land the Toppings want to the east and the west of their currently-owned Lukens Tract property is approximately 28 acres.


If you would like to have the entire October 13, 2015 agenda packet, do not hesitate to e mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ad we will forward it.  Maps are included.

Cedar Key News is currently investigating and will report upon two very unclear concepts:

  • conservation easements, how they are written and how they figure into such exchanges;
  • the possibility that if these exchanges do not involve money, that there is no need to put the properties up for bid to the public.



NOV 10 CROWHURST E MAIL Kayak launch at Lukens Tract



Cedar Key News Editorial

The kayak launch and access to the SRWMD property at the Lukens, immediately north of the No.4 Bridge, is being closed to public access.
The property is about to be sold to private land owners in Cedar Key and closed to public access.
Lukens Ramp Map xc1
Part of the pristine land and waters that were recently purchased by the SRWMD to help prevent pollution to the clamming waters in the area will be determined surplus and sold or exchanged for other private land in the area.
This directly contradicts the SRWMD written objectives and management protection practices as stated on the SRWMD web site.
This is the only kayak launch area in the SRWMD that leads to the Gulf.
If you have any desire to help prevent this from happening, come to the Community Center for the SRWMD Meeting Thursday at 9 am, November 12th, and to the SRWMD Land Committee on Friday, the 13th at 9 am.
If you want to help, write letters to the SRWMD board members. Come and speak at the meetings Thursday and Friday morning. You must register before the meetings if you wish to speak.
Help preserve the conservation land that was bought with your taxes dollars for the preservation of Cedar Key and surrounding waters.
Frank E. Offerle
CKN Editor

September 5, 2014

SEPT 5 MOMS WHOLE GPColleagues from Palm Harbor, Casselberry, New Smyrna Beach, Belle Glade, and Marco Island converged at the Cedar Key Library’s upstairs meeting room to participate in the workshop designed to teach participants to ably interpret, assemble, and disassemble the Smithsonian’s “The Way We Worked” traveling exhibit, which will remain in place until October 24, 2014.  The group is pictured to the left.

The exhibit will travel to these other five small Florida cities when it leaves Cedar Key in October and these visitors will be the exhibit’s orchestrators in their towns. They came ready to learn and learn they did.   

Welcoming them with smiles and coffee were Cedar Key Vice-Mayor Sue Colson, Cedar Key Historical Society President Ken Young, Cedar Key Historical Society Museum Director Galina Binkley, cedar Key's own Dr. John Andrews, and Levy County Visitors Bureau Exeutive Director Carol McQueen.  Later in the day, participants experienced a first-hand taste of “how Cedar Key works” with lunch at Tony’s Seafood Restaurant, a location so integral to the city’s living history of fishing and tourism.  Andrews, Colson, and McQueen are pictured to the right.

What was an empty room at 8am became, before noon, a series of colorful gears, action-filled pictures, informative banners, and interactives explaining how Americans have labored over the past 150 years.                                           SEPT 5 MOMS SUE AND MCQDSCN4265

Smithsonian Institution Director of Exhibits Carol Harsh led the workshop, carefully overviewing the contents of some twelve huge crates and their packing logic and demonstrating, in much detail, the erection of one of the exhibit’s parts.  Instruction included everything from how to introduce visitors to the exhibit’s meaningful content to the repacking of the crates and the truck at the exhibit’s end.  Harsh is pictured in the above left snapshot in the polka-dotted center.


Florida Humanities Council Program Coordinator Alex Buell and his colleagues Dr. Jennifer Snyder and Keith Simmons functioned as the critical support team assisting the small Florida cities’ representatives construct their assigned part of the exhibit.   University of Florida Master Lecturer, the Department of History, Dr. Steven Noll will function as Cedar Key’s resident expert on the exhibit’s content.

Demonstrating the adage that learning is doing, the participants did, indeed, learn as they worked.  Under Harsh’s careful eyes and with Buell’s, Snyder’s, and Simmons’ assistance, the exhibit took shape.  No hammers, no nails, no pliers, no wrenches were needed, so well designed is the exhibit. 

The session ended with no ceiling tiles, no ceiling fans, and no lights lost in the endeavor and learned, confident, smiling small cities’ representatives.    








MoMS Gold XLe


The Cedar Key School Senior Class graduation ceremony
was held Saturday, May 31,2014 at 9am.
This year there was a graduation class of fifteen students. 


From “ag” and “chem” class shenanigans, homecoming court, and the football field and basketball court to the United States Naval Academy, Air Force, insurance, music photography, nurse anesthetist, fishing guide, international relations,  CSI agent, and resting on a beach, the Cedar Key School seniors are a rich a varied group.   

Do, take a moment, and enjoy the photographs below and the Spotlights of each graduate that will appear when you click on the the photos or the blue “View the Senior Spotlights” under the photos.  You’ll enjoy the students’ memories, favorite teachers, and future plans. 
GradPix15x3 pix
*** Click photos above for Senior Spotlights ***



15 December 2014
Tuesday night the FDOT will again be represented at the December 16th City Commission meeting, hopefully with more answers and an alternative plan for the Dock Street Dilemma. They have answered many questions but not all questions received direct answers and there are many more questions that need to be addressed regarding the bridge projects; the disrupting effect on businesses (not just Dock Street), the visual impact on residents and visitors, the environmental impact, and the compatibility of the increased mass and design of the bridges that will be around for 75 years.
Below are a few concerns. Some have already been addressed, some are very important and some less so. All questions should get a direct answer as each decision will affect the residents, visitors, and businesses of Cedar Key.
Commercial and Recreational Concerns
The time required for the Dock Street Bridge project, including the temporary bridge, demolition of the existing bridge and construction of the new bridge, was estimated to be 30 to 36 months.
At certain times during this 30 to 36 months of demolition and construction, the inside marina will be forced to close down, boat traffic in the inside marina will not have access to open water. 

In the interest of providing information to an informed electorate, the Cedar Key News has studied both candidates competing in the upcoming Levy County Commissioner election which will occur on November 4, 2014, when voters will be asked to vote for James B. “Jamie” Griffin or Lilly Rooks.  Cedar Key News research finds a conflict between the legal residency and the voting practice of James (Jamie) B. Griffin.
Voting is a right.
The right to vote and have that vote counted should not be infringed upon in any way. Everyone has a right to have his/her vote honestly registered and counted.
The system, in most states, requires the voter to provide proof of legal residency when initially registering to vote; these states may not require proof of legal residency when changing a voting precinct from one county to another. This is left up to the honesty and integrity of the individual requesting the change.
Mr. Griffin has established residency and currently enjoys Homestead Exemption on his home in Dixie County.
The county Property Appraiser is charged with determining legal residency in order to allow tax exemptions. Mr. Griffin’s residency has been confirmed by the Dixie County Property Appraiser’s office to be in Dixie County:
  • He still has the Dixie County address on his State of Florida Driver’s License.
  • He still has the Dixie County address on all of his professional registrations and licenses.
  • He still receives his mail at the Dixie County address.
  • He still receives State Homestead Exemption and Dixie County School Exemption on the address of his residence in Dixie County.
  • The Levy County Property Appraiser has the Dixie County address listed as the mailing address for all property he owns in Levy County. 
Mr. Griffin registered to vote in Dixie County in 2010.
Mr. Griffin has been registered to vote in Levy County since 2012.
According to the property appraiser’s determination of Mr. Griffin’s residency to be in Dixie County and according to the Florida Voter Registration Application, James B. Griffin has established his voting district to be in Levy County.
Florida Statute s.101.045 (1) states in part that: “A person is not permitted to vote in any election precinct or district other than the one in which the person has his or her legal residence and which the person is registered.”
The Voter Registration form submitted and signed, under oath, by Mr. Griffin, “…that all information provided in this application is true” shows in the space requiring “Address where you live (legal address-no P.O. Box)”, that Mr. Griffin entered “550 1st Street-Unit 211, Cedar Key Florida.”
The Florida Voter Registration Application states that it is a Criminal Offense and is a 3rd degree felony to submit false information.
It is legal to run for county office (with provisions*) in a county other than the one of the candidate’s legal residency.
*The provision is articulated in the Florida Department of State/Office of General Council document, “Determining When Residency Qualifications for Office Must be Met.”  The document states that a candidate running for County Commissioner must reside in the county where he will be seated “At the time of election” which is November 4, 2014.
 It is not legal for Mr. Griffin to live in Dixie County and to vote in Levy County.
Mr. Griffin, in response to an earlier Cedar Key News inquiry, stated that his permanent residency will be located at the Cedar Key rental unit at 550 First Street on November 4, 2014, as required to run for the office of Levy County Commissioner.
Can he legally vote for himself before that time?


By Jim Hoy, Editor Emeritus
Over the past decade the number of Cedar Key ordinances has nearly doubled in number.  They are approaching number five hundred. The ordinances can be categorized: as either enforced, unenforced, haphazardly enforced, or unenforceable. Over the past three years the Commissioners and their successive City Attorneys have wrestled with a commercial sign ordinance that has not been enforced, and is therefore judged unenforceable. (Among the sign ordinance problems is a provision for fees required of sign owners. That has resulted in lost badly needed revenue for the City.)  In recent years the numbers of signs, like the ordinances, have proliferated. Big signs, multiple small signs and trashy signs abound. 
Ordinances enacted by our Commission include a tree ordinance, a seawall ordinance, a noise ordinance, an animal ordinance, a fence ordinance and the sign ordinance. When was the last time one was enforced?
At the May 1, 2012 Commission meeting a proposed sign ordinance came up for a vote after much legal work. A motion in favor of the ordinance failed for lack of a second. A compromise motion then failed on a two to three vote. Now, two years later the four candidates for Commission in public forum all agreed that many ordinances remain unenforced or haphazardly enforced. One candidate opined that someone must make a written complaint, but that we must avoid turning neighbors against one another. He added that Commissioners cannot initiate complaints because they might need to participate in resulting hearings.
The new Commission will have the opportunity to make the sign ordinance, the tree ordinance, and all the others enforceable and enforced or take them off the books. It is up to the voters of Cedar Key to let the Commissioners know that they want clear enforceable ordinances put into effect in an even-handed way.
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 by Gene Benedict


November 15, 2017          

We first noticed them a month or so ago, those mallards of a different bent. Actually, I guess we experienced them. It was about dark, some time after the sun had left, as we walked the bridge to Dock Street behind Mike and Cindy’s Island Place.          

Mallards are not native to this coast. As a matter of fact, they didn’t even migrate through this area from their homes in the far north. They came in as chicks and eggs at the behest of Bill and Ray, both of whom had incubators to make sure those mallards would survive and thrive. And they did.

That was many years back and now neither Ray nor Bill live in Cedar Key. But those mallards do. They own the place, the streets, the restaurants, the parking lots, all of Cedar Key, from February till June or so, sometime after the mating season. And they live here year around.

 by Gene Benedict
November 8, 2017          

I first met Joe Smith in the Captain’s Table seven or eight years ago. The people who hung out there at that time were different than you see today.  Big Al was the bartender.  Don sat at one end of the bar and Joe sat at the other.  Joe drank his beer from a bottle.          

He was taller then and while age showed somewhat, he moved about freely.  He liked music and he loved to dance.  He wanted to introduce me to a waitress in a smaller bar where the Sunset Room now sits.  He thought she was beautiful and had a lot of spunk, someone I would enjoy.  We went the back way climbing all the steps.  She was off duty. We had some beer anyway.  That’s kind of the way Joe’s life went, a little out of step, a little off time.          

Joe came here ten or so years ago from Rochester, or Chicago, or Miami or someplace.  He and his wife retired to Cedar Key. Shortly thereafter, she became ill and died.  He had her cremated.  He kept her ashes in a box in the house.

Maybe a year after that, he walked into the Sea Breeze, slid one of the sliding glass doors aside, opened the box and announced to all at the bar,  “There she goes,” and he dumped her ashes over the edge.  Quite a spontaneous, yet sobering, funeral for those of us at the bar.

 by Gene Benedict
November 1,  2017

(Last week, Trouble described a storm that came up while he and his dad were at the launching ramp with the boat still on the trailer. We repeat here a few lines from Part 1.)

Then the roof of the shelter began peeling, leaving, going somewhere off into the marsh. By now the water was near my knees. Maybe I could make it to the car, perhaps to a haven. I squinted out one eye only to see that the boat, strapped well to that trailer that was well hitched to the car, was sometimes airborne, sometimes not. Not a good idea, that going for the car, so I just hung onto that post which had so far served me well.          

In these situations, time itself slows way down. Everything is in slow motion. All the senses seem to quicken. Awareness becomes keener, colors become brighter, winds become noisier. I saw no escape from the situation so I just hung on to that post. I was wet to the bone, cold, and getting colder. I remember no fear, only a certain sense of helplessness.

 by Gene Benedict
October 25, 2017

I was up way before daylight and on my way to Dunnellon. It was early October, about this time of year, not that long ago. Dad and I were going fishing out of Yankeetown. We had in mind catching some big reds and he knew where they were.          

He had an open boat, shallow draft, good freeboard, something less than 20 feet long, handbuilt sometime in the late 50’s. The motor was a 35 horse Evinrude from the 60’s with cable controls for steering and throttling from a small console midboat on the starboard side. The boat sat on a homemade two-wheeled trailer with a heavy iron frame.          

Three could fish comfortably and four, maybe, with careful attention to placement of gear and equipment. This day there were only two, Dad and me.     

 by Gene Benedict


October 18, 2017          

Last time on “The Road Back Home”, we passed James Meredith’s place as we rode through Sumner.  James is an institution around here.  He started working a vegetable stand in Gainesville in the early 70’s.  After a few rough encounters with landlords and over zealous competitors, he settled in the Otter Creek area.          

In the 80’s he made his appearance in Cedar Key.  Thanks to Mary Yarnell and some other locals, James got over some rough times and made Cedar Key his main place of business.  He sets his veggie stand up twice a week beside the post office next to Gypsy’s.  His major secret is shopping for the right vegetables and fruit, the type that will sell at the quality that we want.  He buys just at the right time so that when he opens his stand the freshness is correct.   

 by Gene Benedict


October 11, 2017        

Life in Cedar Key is changing. The blackhooded laughing gulls who were visitors for several months have left the area taking their loud raucous voices with them. The roseate spoonbills, close cousins of the ibises, have vacated the Back Bayou behind Annie’s for points south to Sanibel and beyond.

Skimmers have moved in, those long-winged seabirds, white below and black above with long orange and black beaks. Their lower beaks are longer than their upper, I believe, the only commonly seen bird with that type of beak configuration. They fly so gracefully, most generally in groups, with their mouths open, their lower beaks skimming the water surface in search of food. They are best seen in early morning off Cedar Cove and the Island Room.  

Back, too are the storks. They hang out behind Rose’s and Crabby’s not far from the old railroad trestle. Anne spotted them last week, and I saw three together a couple of days ago on a landing approach, their very long wings in a graceful arch gliding in with legs stretched out behind.         

Back, too, are the terns, white and smaller than gulls, resembling them somewhat. Terns are more streamlined than gulls and most have orange beaks. They can hover and they dive for small fish in the water.

 by Gene Benedict
October 4, 2017

Those were Caroline’s words early that evening in June 1982, “How good it is to see you today.” We were alone together in a room on the third floor of Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Caroline was a close personal friend of mine, my sister-in-law, Melanie’s aunt, Peggy’s sister, Allen’s wife. Caroline was quite ill and had been for several years.         

Fifteen years earlier as a young school teacher, she moved to Atlanta from the mountains of Western Virginia. She soon met Allen who worked for the newspaper. They liked each other and they married. Not much more than a year and a few months later, doctors discovered in Caroline a very rare disease. In layman’s terms, her body was rejecting her liver.         

She tried to continue her school teaching assignment but she had to leave due to poor health. Doctors knew very little about the disease and how to treat it. She was in and out of the hospital many times for long periods. They treated her with steroids and what ever else seemed to help.         

Over several years the disease and the drugs and the medicines took their toll. She had a leg amputated above the knee. They tied off her spleen. They removed her gall bladder. She developed cataracts, which were eventually removed. She was always ill on the inside. Her spirits stayed high.


One day in the hospital during one of the several stays in which no one knew whether she would ever go home, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She gradually stopped the drugs, the chemicals, the medicines. She went home and under her care, Allen’s care and the care of friends and family, she began a program of healthy eating, rest and as much exercise as she could get. She got out of the wheelchair and with the help of a prosthesis and a cane; she walked as much as she could.