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The historic Live Oak Post Office

LIVE OAK — A stated desire to have the historic Live Oak Post Office placed on the National Register of Historic Places received formal backing from the Live Oak City Council last week.

At the council’s Nov. 12 meeting, it unanimously approved a resolution encouraging the United States Postal Service to nominate the post office at 400 Ohio Ave. South to the national register.

Councilman Don Allen has led the push for some kind of formal desire to see the post office placed on the national register since the USPS announced earlier this year that it would be moving from the 103-year-old building. It has since been announced that the USPS is moving next spring to the old Pic ’N’ Save building at 1415 Ohio Ave. North.

“We don’t want to see another internet cafe put in there,” Allen said. “We would like to eventually be donated to the city and with these historical designations, that becomes a possibility.

“If they make their designations, it makes it unattractive for someone else to go in there and remodel and tear down and do this and that.”

Allen said his desire is to move the Suwannee County Historical Museum into the post office and utilize the freight depot, which currently houses the museum, for commercial purposes as the city develops Heritage Square.

“This is a good first step,” he said. “This has to happen before any of that will happen.”

Allen said he has heard from representatives from the Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners and Suwannee County School Board that they also would be in favor of resolutions supporting the push to add the post office to the national register.

“The more, the merrier,” Allen said.

Remaining in federal opioid class-action lawsuit

Following the advice of City Manager Ron Williams and City Attorney Fred Koberlein, the council unanimously approved a resolution declaring its intent to remain in the class action group of the federal opioid lawsuit in the Northern District of Ohio.

Koberlein said some small governments have decided to pull out of the class-action suit and seek their own damages, but most remain in the class.

He said it is anticipated that Suwannee County could receive $105,199 with the city receiving $16,003 of that amount.

“Where that number comes from, your guess is as good as mine,” Koberlein said. “Because the class action hasn’t settled. That’s based on a hypothetical $1 billion gross settlement.

“You don’t stand to lose anything staying in the class. I guess you lose the opportunity to sue individually.”

Clerk raise approved

The council also unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance to provide City Clerk John Gill a pay raise. With the second approval, the raise is now official.

Gill, who has served as city clerk for nine years, has not received a merit raise since taking office. He has received cost of living adjustments that all city employees have received.

With the approval, Gill’s salary will increase from $51,188.80 to $56,000.

Davis, Gill receive certificates

Robert Ford, president of the Douglass Alumni Association, presented certificates of appreciation to Mayor Frank Davis and Gill for their help with the ninth Douglass High reunion that was held Oct. 11-13.

Ford said in addition to local alums of the former black school in town, alumni from across the country returned home for the reunion.

Davis provided a greeting and recognition during the reunion and Ford, in reading from the certificate said “the sentiment conveyed by the attendees was his greetings were both authentic and sincere.”

Gill, the city clerk, delivered a presentation about the Douglass era veterans that also was well-received by those attending the reunion.

Council discusses internet cafes

George Curtis, the city’s planning and zoning director, provided the council with information regarding the city’s LDRs and how it relates to internet cafes and gaming businesses.

Curtis said the city first received interest in opening an internet cafe in 2011 and the city has had a few over the years, but they have become more popular recently.

Currently, Curtis said, there are nine locations on record in the city with anywhere from just one gaming machine to five having anywhere between 45 and 85 machines. The businesses must apply annually for a business tax receipt for the business itself and every machine.

Curtis said according to the clerk’s office, $22,950 was collected this year.

“So we have five that are operating in the city that you would consider more specific to that kind of use,” Curtis said. “Whereas the other ones are more of an accessory use to a business that was in existence there already.”

According to Curtis, none of the nine locations have applied to sell alcohol but that would lead to more regulations and restrictions.

Council President Mark Stewart said that internet cafes have been shut down completely in Jacksonville, but Williams said that was due to other concerns from the establishments that aren’t a problem here.

“Others have moved against some of these facilities but through the classification of a nuisance,” he said. “They have huge, huge calls for service there. I believe the numbers are in the neighborhood are 5,000 calls for service annually. That’s a huge drain on resources.”

Curtis said there have been no recent calls for service from the police department or fire department in relation to the businesses.

Jamie Wachter is the editor of the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press.

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