LIVE OAK — The next step in a fire station north of Live Oak has been taken.

The Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners authorized the purchase of 11.14 acres off of U.S. Highway 129 north of Interstate 10 for a fire station at its Nov. 5 meeting.

The land, which is just north of JW Hill and Associates’ auction site, had a price of $92,640.33, approximately $8,000 than what was originally listed on the board’s meeting agenda.

County Administrator Randy Harris said the price increase was due to an adjustment on the easement onto the property, but is still within budget for the purchase.

The county began escrowing funds last year for a potential station north of Live Oak. Currently, all of Suwannee County Fire Rescue’s stations are south of the railroad tracks.

“(That) poses a problem to us,” Chairman Ricky Gamble said in the October legislative delegation hearing as the county looks to secure additional funding to help expedite the process.

“(The tracks) tend to cut the county in half from time to time. And if you can’t get there, it doesn’t do you any good to have the paid system.”

Harris and Gamble said at the legislative delegation hearing that the total cost for a new fire station would be around $1 million.

Controlled Access

The board also gave Harris and County Attorney Jimmy Prevatt authorization to continue trying to negotiate a developer’s agreement for a service road off of U.S. 129 north of the I-10 interchange where a Speedway convenience store is planned for development. The board expressed in February when the Speedway project was first discussed the desire for a way to control access to the highway in that area as future development occurs.

“Is it your desire to have a service road, to have controlled access to try and mitigate the traffic problems out there that none of us participated in on the south side of I-10,” Harris asked the board. “This is the opportunity that we have and there won’t be a better opportunity than right now on that side of the interstate. You won’t get another opportunity as these properties develop.”

Gamble said it was the board’s sentiments at that initial hearing to get control of the situation now.

Safe Routes to School

Harris asked and received support from the board to move forward with an application for a Safe Routes to School grant for a sidewalk south of Live Oak along U.S. 129.

Harris said the sidewalk would extend from the southern edge of the city to Melody Christian Academy and Holy Cross Christian Academy, which reside just south of town.

“I’m sure you’ve all seen the children walking through the grass, weeds up to their waste, after school,” Harris said. “It would be nice to have a sidewalk.”

Harris told the board that a group from the University of Florida had offered to help with the grant application process, which he said is a complicated one that includes sending petitions to all the parents of students at the two schools as well as meetings held at the schools with staff. Harris said the consultants from UF indicated they would handle those aspects.

“It really depends on their participation and them communicating their desire to have this sidewalk out there,” he added.

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Latasha Graham was approved for a special permit for an assisted living facility in the Ranchettes community.

Special permit approved

The board also approved a special LDR permit for Latasha Graham to develop an assisted living facility in the Ranchettes community.

According to Ron Meeks, the county’s planning and zoning director, the home would have a limit of six occupants.

The occupants would be provided medical oversight as well as laundry services and share a common kitchen but have their own rooms.

Graham assured the commissioners that staff would be on site around the clock. She also said she currently plans to have four staff members.

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Robert Ford with the Douglass Alumni Association presented Parks and Recreation Director Greg Scott with a certificate of appreciation for the department’s help during a recent Douglass Alumni reunion.

Douglass Alumni

Robert Ford with the Douglass Alumni Association, presented Parks and Recreation Director Greg Scott with a certificate of appreciation following the group’s recent reunion.

Ford said more than 200 Douglass alumni attended the reunion with more than 150 coming from out of town.

“The sentiment from the attendees was this was one of the best of the previous reunions,” Ford read from the certificate, adding the support of Parks and Recreation was outstanding. “For their support, we offer our profound gratitude.”

Meeting changed

The board also agreed to move its next meeting from Tuesday, Nov. 19, to Monday, Nov. 18, at 6 p.m. at the Judicial Annex.

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

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