Live Oak —
#1 Tropical Storm Debby (June 27, various)
Debby packed her punch in late June. Residents of Suwannee County were stunned Tuesday morning, June 26 after waking up to historic water levels after Monday, June 25’s rainfall that flooded downtown Live Oak and left many people throughout the county displaced. A flood on this scale hasn’t been seen in this area since Hurricane Dora flooded Live Oak in 1964. No serious injuries were reported. Debby dropped more than 16 inches of non-stop rain in less than 24 hours. The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore was a regular in Live Oak for days following the flood. When the flood water subsided, many sinkholes formed in Suwannee County and at least two buildings in downtown Live Oak were condemned. Homes were destroyed, some by sinkholes, others by flood waters. The event caused the governor to visit Live Oak for a second time in less than a month. Local governments are still making repairs following Debby.
#2 Raivyn’s story (April 25)
It is impossible to know the impact one person can have on many lives. Clearly, the impact of Raivyn Summerfield will be endless for those who knew her, as well as those who didn’t. Raivyn died in an ATV accident in April. Raivyn was just an 8th grader who decided before her time was cut short to be an organ donor. Her mother, Tracie Hessley said four of her daughter’s organs were placed immediately. Her heart went to an 18-year-old Florida girl; a kidney went to a 55-year-old Florida man who is the father of twin daughters and a young grandson; another kidney went to a 16-year-old boy from California that had spent the majority of his life on dialysis and her liver went to an eight-year-old little girl from Florida. “Raivyn wanted to be a pediatrician when she grew up so knowing that as a family we also chose to donate tissue, eye and bone so that she would be able to help numerous others through those amazing gifts as well,” Hessley recently said. “There is no way at this time to know how many lives have been affected due to her donation of tissue, eye and bone.” Hessley said they were recently contacted by the heart recipient. She said it was probably the best Christmas present they could receive as a family right now. “She went on to tell us that she promises to take care of our child's heart because she can tell it is a ‘pure, good, kind and wholesome heart’,” said Hessley.
#3 Jane Doe identified as Shannon Wrench (Aug. 10, various)
This heart wrencher turned into a heart warmer. Jane Doe was found badly beaten and unconscious beside a western Suwannee County road in July. For weeks, the identity of Jane Doe was unknown. It wasn’t even clear if Jane Doe would ever wake up from the coma she was placed in upon arrival at the hospital. But, slowly she came to. Through a second round of fingerprint analysis, investigators were able to identify her as 34-year-old Shannon Wrench from Rantoul, Illinois. That was on Aug. 9. Wrench finally awoke and was able to give information to authorities so an arrest warrant could be obtained on Shawn Patrick O'Bryan, 38, of Rantoul, Illinois who was arrested Aug. 10 by the Rantoul Police Department on a charge of attempted first degree murder. Shannon has gone back to her family in Illinois.
#4 Brent Blevins fatally shot by FHP trooper (Aug. 29, various)
The Suwannee County Grand Jury met behind closed doors on Wednesday, Nov. 7 to hear the case involving FHP Trooper Derek MacLaren, 33, who shot and fatally wounded Brent Blevins, 25, following a high speed chase and traffic stop in late August. The jury returned a no true bill, which means the jury found no reasonable cause to believe a crime was committed. Blevins was shot on Aug. 26 after a police pursuit. When Blevins did stop and exit the vehicle, he reportedly was holding a handgun. He was reportedly shot between four and five times.
#5 Napier slaying (May 2, various)
The Live Oak hairdresser that was found dead in his home Sunday night, April 29 was shot nine times by 16-year-old Anthony Michael Ortiz, according to Sheriff Tony Cameron. It isn’t known yet how or if Napier and Ortiz knew each other. Ortiz was arrested for the murder and armed robbery of 49-year-old Charles David Napier, who was found shot to death at the 127th Place home in which he lived with his mother, who found the body. Ortiz will be tried as an adult and is awaiting a late January trial.
#6 Missing Kamrie Mitchell (Sept. 7, various)
Crime Stoppers of Suwannee County has joined efforts with law enforcement in the search for missing Kamrie Mitchell. Mitchell, 24, was last seen in the Branford, Lake City area on Aug. 25 by her family. After many days with no contact, she was reported missing on Sept. 2. Her white four-door 1992 Pontiac Grand Am was found submerged in floodwater on 184th Street near the Columbia County line. Efforts to find Mitchell have proven fruitless. The search continues.
#7 Sunday alcohol sales approved (Nov. 30, Dec. 14)
The Suwannee County Commission voted Nov. 20 to amend an ordinance allowing for the sale of alcoholic beverages between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the following day, Monday through Sunday. The new ordinance went into effect on Dec. 10. Following suit, the Live Oak City Council voted Dec. 11 to allow the drafting of an ordinance amendment that, if approved, will extend the sale of alcoholic beverages to include Sunday, excluding liquor.
#8 Klausner sawmill (Various)
The sawmill project was first only known as Project Christmas due to negotiations beginning in December of 2010. The project has been contentious for quote awhile, due mainly to the confidentiality of the negotiations and the company itself. The state has stated the sawmill will be built and will be formally announced by Gov. Rick Scott sometime soon.
#9 School bus crash sends 50 to hospital
Fifty were sent to a hospital the morning of Dec. 19 including 49 students after a Suwannee High School student driving an SUV crashed into the back of a school bus on US 90 at 74th Street, about three miles west of Live Oak. The SUV driver, Brandon J. Cunningham, 18, Live Oak, suffered serious injuries to his lower extremities. He went into immediate surgery at the hospital but has been released from the hospital and is now home. Forty-eight students on the bus and the driver were sent to Shands Live Oak as a precaution. None received any serious injuries. Family said that the sun’s glare was strong coming from the east that morning as Cunningham drove toward it. They say he was unable to see the bus before striking it.
#10 Election 2012 (Aug. 9, Nov. 15)
President Barack Obama received another four years in the White House. Locally, Sheriff Tony Cameron retained his seat over contender Fred Martin. Lamar Jenkins kept his seat as property appraiser, Jerry Scarborough kept his seat as superintendent of schools, beating out local teacher David Laxton; Catherine Cason beat incumbent Muriel Owens for School Board District 2; Jason Bashaw beat Walter Starling for the District 1 county commission seat; Ricky Gamble beat Paul Gamble for the District 3 county commission seat and Wesley Wainwright kept his District 5 county commission seat over Kevin Williams.