LIVE OAK — A free medical clinic in the City of Live Oak received its own helping hand.

Shepherd’s Hands of the Suwannee Valley, Inc., received a $1,200 catalyst grant through the city from the Florida League of Mayors.

The League of Mayors, which works with Florida Business Watch on the grant program, received 40 applications and four were awarded with North Bay Village (a dog park project), Parker (Parker Public Library) and West Park (home repair program) also receiving funding.

Shepherd’s Hands was started by the congregation at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in 2016 as a ministry to provide free primary care to those who have no health insurance and whose income falls more than 200 percent below the poverty level.

The clinic is open the second Tuesday of the month at St. Lukes in Live Oak from 5:30-7:30 p.m., the fourth Thursday of the month at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Madison from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and the third Thursday of the month at St. James Episcopal Church in Lake City from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

“Thank you very much,” Father George Hinchliffe said about the grant, adding that everybody helping with the clinic are volunteers. “This will be a great help.”

Hinchliffe said the clinic saw 155 patients last year and there are plans to expand it and add Hamilton County to that service area of Suwannee, Madison and Columbia counties.

“Just proud that we judged you as one of the winners because it’s going to be fantastic,” said Mark Ogles, with Florida Business Watch.

National Literacy Month

Mayor Frank Davis also issued a proclamation during the Sept. 10 meeting declaring September as National Adult and Family Literacy Month, presenting the proclamation to Tracy Henderson with RIVEROAK Technical College.

Henderson was joined by former RIVEROAK student Dustin Smith, who is now employed by the Suwannee County School District at RIVEROAK, and current student Kayle Huggins.

“It’s the (diploma) I’m most proud of,” Davis said of earning his GED after dropping out of school in the ninth grade. “So I congratulate you.”

Housing developments receive initial approval

After resident Anita Williams questioned the council during the budget hearing about potentially funding projects to provide additional affordable housing, the board approved the first reading of ordinances that could lead to a pair of housing developments in the city.

The ordinances were to change the land use classifications and zoning on the properties.

The first, an 8.94 acre parcel off of 11th Street (State Road 51) will be zoned Residential Multi-Family — Two and the land use will be Residential High Density.

Korall N, LLC is planning for the construction of 178 homes in a gated community as part of that project, according to a letter from Yossi Nakash, a representative of Korall.

“We would like to build a beautiful place to enhance even more, the beauty of this City,” Naskash added in the letter to the city.

The second, 1.05 acres that is owned by the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency where Suwannee Pack once stood, will be zoned Residential-Office with a land use designation of Residential Medium Density, which would allow for up to eight housing units on that property.

City Manager Ron Williams said city officials have recently met with the Live Oak Housing Authority about the plans for housing at John Hale Park as well.

That development would be for more than 60 units.

Road improvements

The council authorized a Small County Outreach Program (SCOP) grant with the Florida Department of Transportation for widening and resurfacing Winderweedle Street from Ohio Ave. to Houston Avenue.

The grant is for $915,000 with the city responsible for just $45,000 of the road improvements.

“He needs to sign it tonight,” Council President Mark Stewart said of the authorization for Davis to sign the agreement with DOT.

In addition to that road project, the council also awarded a bid to Anderson Columbia that will have eight roads or intersections milled and resurfaced.

That contract was for $263,825.87. Ron Williams said the city benefited from Anderson Columbia’s current work on U.S. Highway 90 (Howard Street) from the Madison County line to County Road 49.

That project helped reduce the mobilization charge in performing the work on the city’s roads.

Among the roads that will receive improvements are Pine Avenue (from Howard to Parshley St. SW), White Avenue SE (from Howard to Helvenston St.), Scriven Avenue (from Howard to 5th St.), Suwannee Avenue (from Howard to Conner St. NW), Woods Avenue (from Howard to 5th St.) and Union Street (from Howard to Court St. SE). The intersections at Lee Avenue and Main Street as well as Railroad Avenue and Ada Street will also be redone.

“This will take care of some of the really, really visible poor areas that we have in regards to paving,” Williams said. “We’re able to, I think, get some of this paving done on sale here.”

Pursuing post office

Councilman Don Allen asked that the city adopt a resolution stating it would do whatever it could to secure ownership of the historic post office once the United States Postal Service moves out of the building.

The USPS announced in April that it was planning to move to a new location in town.

Allen said while it will likely be a lengthy process, a for sale sign has already went up next to the post office and he is worried about what could happen to the building if the city doesn’t obtain it.

“I don’t want to see a bingo parlor in there and that’s what it’s destined to be,” he said. “That’s all we put in Live Oak now.”

Williams said CRA Executive Director Gabrielle Redfern has already been keeping tabs on the building and the progress of the planned move and would continue to do so.

“She works on a lot of things downtown and she’s been tracking that and looking into what the ideas and the possibilities are,” Williams said, adding the building is being listed for $475,000.

“We, obviously, would approach it from a different kind of perspective.”

He said it appears the USPS is looking to move to its new location by next spring.

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