LIVE OAK — A ceremonial passing of the torch took place at last week’s Live Oak City Council meeting.

First, Mayor Frank Davis recognized Buddy Williams for his long service with the City of Live Oak, notably the past 12 years when Williams served as Chief of Police.

That was followed by Keith Davis being sworn in as the new police chief by Judge David Fina on Aug. 13.

“It’s been a great honor to serve,” Davis said.

Davis was named the new police chief by City Manager Ron Williams on Aug. 1. He has served with the city for nearly 20 years, rising through the ranks and was promoted to captain last summer.

“I’m so proud of you,” Buddy Williams told Davis as he pinned him.

“Believe it or not, I’m leaving at the best time. (Davis) will do a fine job.”

Davis said he plans to work from the foundation that has already been laid under Buddy Williams’ leadership.

“We’re going to continue to try and build better relationships with the community and make it a better place to live,” Davis said.

Moments earlier, Frank Davis read a proclamation honoring Buddy Williams, who had two stints with the LOPD.

“The most important people in the room are right here,” an emotional Williams said about the LOPD officers in attendance. “Half my life has been spent with this agency. They made it, not me.

“It’s been a long time and it hasn’t always been good. But most of it has been great.”

Williams submitted a letter of resignation July 1, effective Aug. 2. He is now the Chief Deputy with the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office, a hard decision for Williams, but one he said he made to help bring more unity to the community.

“We’re going to bring these agencies back together,” he said, a push Sheriff Sam St. John is fully on board with. “We owe it to this community to provide them the best service we can, regardless of lines. One mission, one team, regardless of color — blue or green.”

LOFD retains ISO rating

Fire Chief Chad Croft informed the council that the city retained its Class 3 rating during a recent ISO review. That rating helps determine insurance costs for city residents.

The city moved to a Class 3 rating four years ago, a long push that began with the city at a Class 8 when ISO ratings first began in 1958, Croft said.

The city then moved up to a Class 7 in 1967 followed by a Class 6 rating in 1992. It moved to a Class 5 rating in 2004 and a Class 4 rating in 2007.

Croft said while the LOFD retained its class rating, it did improve its score by two points.

He added that out of 40,829 fire districts, only 3,490 are classified as a Class 3 or better.

“We’re constantly striving to be better,” he said. “We’re closer to a 2 now than we’ve ever been”

Ron Williams saluted Croft and his department for their efforts.

“For a small department, it’s rare to see an ISO of 3,” Williams said.

Gas regulatory station

Also in the meeting, the council unanimously approved shutting down a gas regulator station at John and Church streets and purchasing a new station to be installed at the gate station on Marmymac Street SW.

According to Katie Hall, with Florida Gas Utility which helps the city with its natural gas service, the Florida Public Service Commission issued a violation to the city on the existing station.

The station sits in a flood zone and after flooding four years ago, valves at the station are frozen and routine maintenance can’t be performed on them.

Hall said the violation means if the city doesn’t take action, it would likely face fines. She added the PSC was pleased with the proposed solution.

The council approved the emergency purchase of the new station and the changes, which total $113,705.

Ordinance extending operating hours approved

The first reading of an ordinance that would allow restaurants serving alcohol to extend their hours passed, barely.

By a 3-2 vote with David Burch and Mark Stewart voting against, the ordinance passed to a second reading at next month’s meeting.

The change came following a request from the Big B (or Ms. D’s Kozy Corner) on Walker Avenue

Both Burch and Stewart said they had received calls from residents concerned with the possibility of changing the ordinance.

Burch further advised that it may not be the best idea to change a city-wide land development regulation just to benefit one business.

“What’s wrong with a restaurant staying open?” asked councilman Bennie Thomas, whose district includes the Big B.

Burch said there was nothing wrong with it, but again didn’t agree with changing the LDRs for one restaurant. He added when the topic was first broached several months ago, Chief Williams said the city shouldn’t make the change.

Stewart said his biggest concern was extending the hours on Thursday in addition to Friday and Saturday nights, which he said he understood those two nights.

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