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Suwannee 129th YEAR, NO. 54 | 2 SECTIONS, 22 PAGES

Democrat Friday Edition — April 11, 2014

50 CENTS

Serving Suwannee County since 1884, including Live Oak, Wellborn, Dowling Park, Branford, McAlpin and O’Brien

TD Bank, then First Federal South Branch hit.

Local banks robbed Suspect strikes twice

The suspect is seen here in this still image taken from a surveillance camera at TD Bank. - Courtesy photo

Perp still at large. Believed to be involved in other bank robberies in Perry, Tallahassee.

Live Oak Police, Suwannee County Sheriff's Office and Department of Corrections on scene near First Federal Bank of Florida and KFC. - Photo: Andrew McGee

This is what the boat looks like from the side.

River deaths ruled a drowning joycemarie.taylor@ gaflnews.com

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) spokesperson Karen Parker offered an update on the New York couple whose bodies were found floating in the Suwannee River last month and preliminary findings from the medical examiner’s office, she said, show the cause of death to be drowning. The bodies of James and Grace Maynard were found floating on the Suwannee River over the weekend of March 21-23. Their bodies were discovered at two different loca-

tions along the river in Dowling Park and Mayo, and a floating cooler offered information on their identities. The Maynard’s truck was later located at Gibson Park boat ramp in Hamilton County where they apparently launched a small boat into the river. “According to the medical examiner (ME), the preliminary cause of death for both subjects is drowning,” said Parker. “We are still waiting on the complete report from the ME but that may take another 8 to 12 weeks.” The boat, Parker said, has not yet been found.

get hurt.” The teller complied, giving the suspect an undisclosed amount of cash. The suspect wrapped the cash in a packet of paper and walked out. As the teller was handing over the cash, she activated the alarm. According to Live Oak Police Sgt. Justin Bates, once the robber walked outside one of two dye packs went off. However, Bates said since the money was wrapped and the suspect later ditched his clothing, chances of any red dye getting on him was probably very minimal.

“We have increased our programs, especially in the field of health sciences, to the degree of we are out of room at our technical center.”

By Bryant Thigpen The Live Oak City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday night to approve a land use change from commercial to educational that will allow the expansion of Suwannee-Hamilton

SEE LOCAL, PAGE 2A

By Andrew McGee andrew.mcgee@gaflnews.com

School district seeks Radio Shack building

bryant.thigpen@gaflnews.com

“The way he was holding it and how he got rid

SHS prom goes ‘Gatsby’

- School Board member Julie Ulmer

• Expansion sought for SHTC • City council approves land use change

Officials are asking for your help. You are asked to call the Live Oak Police Department at 386362-7463, or dispatch at 386362-2222, if you have any information on the robberies or the identity or whereabouts of the suspect. Live Oak Police Sgt. Jusin Bates said they do not believe the suspect is a local person, but they are not ruling out any possibility.

Technical Center. Councilor Jacob Grantham voted against. This move by the council allows the Suwannee County School District (SCSD) to purchase the Radio Shack building and property, located at 305 Pinewood Dr., adjacent to SHTC. The building, which sits on a one-acre lot, is currently owned by Russell and Roylyn Johnson. SEE SCHOOL, PAGE 3A

The Suwannee High School JuniorSenior Prom will be held in the SHS gymnasium on Saturday from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. The theme is “The Great Gatsby” based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel that explores themes of decadence and excess in 1922 during America’s jazz age. “Our theme is ‘The Great Gatsby’ and our color scheme is going to be done all in black and white,” said SHS Administrative Secretary to Student Activities SEE SHS, PAGE 2A

Coming next week

LIVE OAK CITY COUNCIL ROUND-UP.

SEE RIVER, PAGE 3A

The Old Dog says

For Kids 12 & Under No Purchase Necessary Must Present Coupon Limit 1 Per Person

“Don’t drink and drive.”

www.suwanneedemocrat.com

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By Joyce Marie Taylor

Staff An unknown black male wearing a knitted hat, dark jacket, boots a fake beard, mustache and wig robbed two Live Oak banks Wednesday by passing a note to a teller. According to officials, the suspect, believed to be a middle aged, medium complexioned, very slender black male, walked into TD Bank at the corner of South Ohio Avenue and Helvenston Street around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, passed a note to a teller and demanded money. The note stated “Give me all the 20s, 50s and 100s and no one will

NEED YOUR HELP


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FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2014

ON THE FLIPSIDE

Local banks robbed

HOW TO REACH US Continued From Page 1A Switchboard, 386-362-1734 Fax, 386-364-5578 Email, nf.editorial@gaflnews.com Mail, P.O. Box 370 Live Oak, FL 32064 Office, 211 Howard Street East I Publisher, Myra Regan, ext. 122

CONTACT US WITH YOUR COMMENTS If you have any questions or concerns, call us at 386-362-1734 or visit our Website at www.suwanneedemocrat.com

NEWSROOM I Editor, Jeff Waters, ext. 131 I Reporter, Andrew McGee, ext. 132 I Reporter, Bryant Thigpen, ext. 133 I Reporter, Joyce Marie Taylor, ext. 130

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of the clothing, it’s hard to tell if he got any on him,” said Bates. The robber is then believed to have fled on foot in an unknown direc-

tion. Local resident Wayne Jones said he was in the Sullivan Agency parking lot shortly after the robbery, next to the bank, when he found a “lot” of cash on the ground with

Arrest Record Democrat Suwannee prints the entire arrest record each week. If your name appears here and you are later found not guilty or the charges are dropped, we will be happy to make note of this in the newspaper when judicial proof is presented to us by you or the authorities. The following abbreviations are used below: SCSO-Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office LOPD-Live Oak Police Department FDLE-Florida Department of Law Enforcement FHP-Florida Highway Patrol FWC-Florida Wildlife Commission DOT-Department of Transportation OALE-Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement P & P-Probation and Parole USMS-US Marshals Service ATF-Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms DOC-Department of Corrections Apr 8, John Dillon Belluso, 21, Railroad Ave, Live Oak, FL, Orange Co VOP O/C Petit Theft Bond: SCSO- J. Woloszyn Apr 8, Daren Leonard Coglon, 42, 15063 29th Rd, Wellborn, FL, Poss

Methamphetamine, Man Methamphetamine, Poss Precursor Chemicals, Maintain a Place for Use of Contr Subst, Poss -20G Cannabis, Poss Drug Paraphernalia: SCSOJ. Smith/D. Brown Apr 8, Clyde Eugene Courtney, 45, 15063 29th Rd, Wellborn, FL, Poss Methamphetamine, Manu Methamphetamine, Poss Precursor Chemicals, Intro Contraband into Correctional Facility: SCSO- J. Smith/ D. Brown Apr 8, Tina Michelle Register, 43, 15063 29th Rd, Wellborn, FL, Poss Methamphetamine, Manu Methamphetamine, Poss Precursor Chemicals: SCSO- D. Brown/ J. Smith Apr 8, Julius Joseph Reinke, 43, 3505 CR 250, Wellborn, FL, Sentenced to 30 Days C.J.: SCSO- T. Smith Apr 8, Dustin Ray Perry, 27, 5734 US 90, Lee, FL, Burg of a Dwelling, Burg of a Dwelling, Petit Theft, Dealing in Stolen Property (Trafficking): SCSO- Cpl. A. Sutton Apr 8, Michael David Eady, 45, 19121 76th St, Live Oak, FL, Taylor Co Wrt VOP O/C False Report to LEO, Cash Bond, 1st app PD Appt Per WFW: SEE ARREST, PAGE 3A

the demand note. He also stated there was a dye pack found. The evidence was turned over to authorities. Later, around 2 p.m., the robber struck the South Ohio branch of First Federal Bank of Florida, located at the corner of South Ohio Avenue and 11th Street, across from KFC and Dairy Queen. The suspect demanded cash and walked out with an undisclosed amount, wearing the same clothing, hat and fake accessories. A passerby said her daughter saw the suspect enter the FFBF branch after she identified him from a surveillance photo published online by the Democrat. The passerby said the suspect casually walked into the bank shortly before it was robbed. Following the robbery, the suspect fled on foot and ran behind KFC, ditching a large trash bag that was later recovered containing the fake beard, mustache and wig, clothing and the knitted hat. The Suwannee and Hamilton K-9 teams were called in to help search for the suspect. “They found several trails in Sherwood Forest and the wooded area behind Wee Kare Academy (next to the Sub Shop),” said Bates. However, officials believe that after the robber ditched the bag of clothing and accessories, he may have gotten into a vehicle and fled the area. No weapon was displayed during either robbery and no injuries were reported. Bates said they were

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able to lift some prints at both banks and officials should be able to lift DNA from the discarded clothing and other items. Bates said the perp is the same suspect that in February robbed a bank in Perry and one in Tallahassee before that. “It appears he is running along the I-10 corridor or possibly U.S. 90,” said Bates. Bates said all but a small amount of money from the TD Bank robbery was recovered, but none was recovered from FFBF. All public schools and some daycares in the Live Oak area were placed on lock-in status Wednesday for the majority of the school day, due to the suspect being at large. Banks in the county and surrounding counties were notified of the robberies

and were put on alert. The Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office has been helping in the investigation. Bates said the FBI and FDLE have been called in to help. False alarms Bates said an alarm sounded at the North Ohio branch of FFBF while they were on the scene at the South branch. He said the bank was not robbed and they are still working with bank security to determine why that alarm went off. A tip that led law enforcement to converge on Walmart Wednesday evening turned out to be a false lead. Bates said they received word the suspect may have been at Walmart. However, that turned out to not be the case.

SHS prom goes ‘Gatsby’ Continued From Page 1A Susan Brown. Brown said she was the overseer of the event, but is only there as a guide to SHS social studies teacher Dominique Faison-Harris. Prior to interview and unbeknownst to Brown, the Branford High School prom theme is also “The Great Gatsby”. Brown thought the kids picked it because it was an English class reading assignment and also because of the popularity of last year’s 2013 film, “The Great Gatsby” starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Actor and director Robert Redford starred in the 1974 film version. Brown said they began setting up and decorating this week. “It’s basically some sets with staircases, possibly some silhouettes and some fencing and so forth,” said Brown. She said it was undecided about the details on the music, as of this writing, but that they would most likely use the services of a DJ and it would all be contemporary music. “They (the kids) want this upbeat music so they can dance to it,” said Brown, smiling. “I’m not sure the music from back then would appeal to them. Probably not.” Brown said for refreshments, they will have a fountain with a mixture of juices and ginger ale. They

will also have bottled waters available and fruit and cheese trays. “We used to do cakes years ago, but the kids really didn’t like the sugar,” said Brown. “We’ve gone to some simple cookies made by our culinary (students) sometimes.” Kids have been coming to her asking for advice on what to wear. She knows many students are going online and many girls are searching fervently for the “right” dress. She said the school normally runs a fashion show, but weren’t able to this year. The kids would get their ideas from that year’s new looks in fashion for both dresses and tuxedos. She believes most of the boys will favor the more traditional tuxedo in keeping with the color theme of black and white, but has been told by some, the girls may be wearing long gowns opposed to dresses. “I think a lot of the girls will go for color,” said Brown. “They’ll be the color in the prom this year.” She said putting on a prom takes a lot of hard work. She said they have been working all week prior to prom from the time they get out of school until about 9 p.m. and last minute touchups will take place Saturday morning. “We’re excited and hope they have a good time,” said Brown.

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School district seeks Radio Shack building Continued From Page 1A School Board member Julie Ulmer, District 3, said the purchase of the property was contingent on the council approving a land use change for the property. Prior to public comments and due to the complexity of the matter, Council President Adam Prins asked the board to consider extending the comment time from three to five minutes. Councilor Keith Mixon made the motion and it passed 5-0. The request/ letter of intent On Feb. 27, Mark Carver, director of facilities for SCSD, submitted a letter of intent with the application for the land use change. “It is the intent of the Suwannee County School Board to use the property located at 305 Pinewood Drive SW, Live Oak, FL 32064 for the future educational needs of our students,” Carver wrote. “Presently, the School Board has not determined the exact educational programs that will be located at this facility. Improvements will be made once the programs are determined and funding is available.” Ordinance 1357 According to Live Oak Development Manager George Curtis, any land use change that would affect a map previously adopted by ordinance, would have to be changed in the same manner. Since the land use change is considered a small scale amendment (10 acres or less), only one public reading was necessary for the ordinance to pass. However, those affected by Ordinance 1357 have 30 days to appeal the council’s decision to the Division of Administrative Hearings. If there are no objections, the ordinance becomes effective immediately following the 30day period. The CRA’s response Prior to the meeting, Curtis provided his findings to the council regarding the land use change of the property in question. CRA Director Tim Williams also released a statement addressed to Curtis regarding the likelihood and potential impacts of the land use change within the CRA district. Curtis noted there was lots of new information presented that staff was unaware of prior to the meeting. “Without the submittal of relevant, accurate and substantiated data and analysis to justify and support their application, staff’s analysis, including that of the CRA and myself, was based on the information which is known, and that which was included in the packet – which was solely the letter stating they had no immediate plans or funding to make use of the property,” Curtis

said. Williams asked the council to add a condition to the approval of land use change that would require the school district to give property that would be used as a connector road from Pinewood Drive, near Radio Shack, to U.S. 129, near Dollar General. Williams stated there is adjacent property which is approved for and being considered for multi-family development. That road was not part of the passed motion. Williams said the land use change would “most likely” remove the Radio Shack property from the tax rolls and reduce CRA district income. School district response Ulmer spoke on behalf of the school district. Ulmer is also a member of the Suwannee-Hamilton Technical Center’s Advisory Committee. “I’ll be honest, when I read the CRA analysis and looked at some emails that were sent back and forth trying to advocate the denial of the school district’s request for zoning, I was highly offended,” Ulmer said. “I wanted to come here tonight and enlighten you on why our school district desperately needs this property.” “When the Johnsons came to us, it really answered some lingering questions that we did not know how to solve,” she said. “One of which is the expansion of the programs at Suwannee-Hamilton Technical Center. Now, Mr. Curtis said we have not experienced growth, but that’s absolutely not true. We continue to expand our vocational and technical programs. True, economic development is driven by our citizen’s ability to earn a good living.” Ulmer said at the technical center, they have produced many business owners in this community and are contributing to the economic development efforts by providing a quality education to the citizens. “We have increased our programs, especially in the field of health sciences, to the degree of we are out of room at our technical center,” Ulmer said. “It has been in the five year plan for the advisory council for the last 10 years to try to come up with a way to locate all of our health science programs, but building is cost prohibited.” Ulmer stated the location of the building would best fit the needs of the school since it would adjoin with the existing campus and is within walking distance of the high school. Ulmer also noted the technical center is the training site for Klausner Lumber One LLC. Just this past weekend, the school had over 500 in attendance at a job fair for the company. “We work with Workforce Development to be the training site for any

new business wishing to locate in the city of Live Oak or in Suwannee County,” Ulmer said. “We need this room desperately.” Ulmer responded to a comment made regarding the school district owning a lot of land. “A lot of the land is actually designated to water management or retention (ponds). I will remind the council that the school district actually gave a large portion of land at Suwannee High School to improve the retention and help alleviate the flooding in that area,” she said. Ulmer said the school board has always been good neighbors, and they always worked together with the city council. “But I’m appalled by the Community Redevelopment Agency’s opinion to stop our vision of economic development and what is right for our students,” she said. “We need your support on this because we are looking at economic development and what is right for this community.” Public comments George Blake, a city resident, was the first to speak, asking the board to consider approving the zoning change for the school system. “I served here 16 years, and I know what you’re going through,” Blake said. “But in those 16 years, I never recall us overruling the zoning board. These people serve without pay, they do a good job. I would encourage you to support them. They made a decision to approve it.” Secondly, Blake asked the council to “mind your own business.” “The school board and the superintendent have made a decision to buy this property. They think it’s a good deal. You would not like them interfering in your council business. You would not like the county coming down here and interfering in your business. So, I don’t want to be smart in saying this, but just mind your own business and let the school board do their job,” Blake said. Mike Mitchell, a local resident who serves on the planning and zoning board, said the decision to approve the school district’s request was not unanimous. “I am on the planning and zoning board, and it was not a unanimous decision,” Mitchell said. “I believe that we should not be taking money off the tax

rolls. The board of education has plenty of land that they can build a building on.” Debra Johnson, the daughter of the Radio Shack property owners, asked the council to approve the request of the school district. “As far as the road that you have in your packet that goes through there (beside Radio Shack), if you’ll look very closely, that road is going through the middle of a pond,” Johnson said. “That’s going to be problematic.” “There are also wetlands behind Radio Shack. I think your comprehensive plan talks about environmental impacts. You might run into that, too, with this whole project,” she said. Bruce Lawson, who owns the property adjacent to the Radio Shack building, said he supports the school board’s efforts, but also supports the construction of the proposed road. Lawson said the first time he had seen the proposed road was in the staff report. “We haven’t had input in that process at all,” Lawson said. Lawson also supported holding a workshop on the matter. “We’re not against this, but what we want to do is make sure everyone has a say in making this the best possible plan, he said.” Discussion Councilor Jacob Grantham asked Ulmer what her estimation is to renovate the building. “It would be less expensive for us than to construct a new building,” Ulmer replied. “I don’t have an exact dollar figure for you, but we could afford to do this. We cannot afford to build.” Councilor Keith Mixon asked Ulmer what would happen if the board decided not to approve the zone change. “We would continue to be in a holding pattern,” she said. “This is an urgent need for us.” Grantham asked Ulmer why the school board is opposed to the city constructing a road from Pinewood Drive to US 129. “We already have concerns with the crosswalk on Pine Avenue. This would provide another fullsized street they would have to walk across again,” she said. “The U.S. Supreme Court actually had a decision on this when they called these contingent

“High water river conditions can make the vessel harder to find,” said Parker. The boat is a 13-foot Gheenoe-type boat and a two and a half horse powered engine. According to family members of the deceased, the boat is either light brown or olive drab green.

“This vessel would have a New York registration number displayed on it,” Parker said. “If anyone has seen the boat, they can call Wildlife Alert at 888-4043922 to report it.” With the river being so high right now, the public is not being asked to go out searching for the boat as conditions could be dangerous.

After the meeting Following the meeting, Williams said, “I see the CRA as a partner for with the progress School Board and was surprised by Mrs. Ulmer’s interpretation of my comments. The CRA is tasked with creating and implementing strategies...to preserve and enhance both value and opportunity for private enterprise and with only the School Board application to review, there was no way the Planning and Zoning Board or the City Council could have approved their request and it not be overturned on appeal. The request simply failed to meet the required findings test.” He continued, “Julie Ulmer provided new and important information at the hearing clearly linking this land use change as a “mission critical component” for continued workforce training and development. While I’m disappointed we couldn’t solve congestion and safety issues while simultaneously preserving opportunities for private investment within the CRA district, I’m happy the Johnsons and the School Board can move forward with this important addition to the school board complex.” Scarborough said, “We are deeply appreciative of the Live Oak City Council's decision to approve the zoning change, which will allow the Suwannee County School Board to continue to move forward with the purchase of the R.M. Johnson/Radio Shack property. We are looking forward to working with the Live Oak City Council and other governmental agencies to enhance economic development through the services offered by our SuwanneeHamilton Technical Center.”

Arrest Record Continued From Page 2A SCSO- S. St. John Apr 9, Donnie J. Gilbert, 58, Transient, Live Oak, FL, Criminal Mischief, Trespass Structure: SCSOT. Meeks Apr 9, George Anthony Cason, 55, 660 NW Sophie Drive, White Springs, FL, VOP O/C Trafficking in 20 Or More Grams Cocaine: SCSO- L. Land

Ap 9, Liana Marie White, 33, Lowell CI, Ocala, FL, Return for Court: SCSO- A. Sutton Apr 9, Alfred Frank Godfrey, 54, 609 Highview Circle S, Brandon, FL, Sentenced 1 Year CJ: SCSO- A. Sutton Apr 9, Shannon Adam Stewart, 22, 16207 221st Road, Live Oak, FL, VOP (Poss Paraphernalia), Cash Only: SCSO- A. Prins

THE HOUSING AUTHORITY OF THE CITY OF LIVE OAK 406 WEBB DRIVE, N.E. LIVE OAK, FLORIDA 32064 SCOTT STEPHENS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

PHONE: (386) 362-2123 FAX: (386) 364-8364 E-MAIL: lopha@windstream.net

**LAWN SERVICE** HOUSING AUTHORITY OF THE CITY OF LIVE OAK (LOHA), Live Oak, Florida, will receive bids up to 10:00 a.m. April 16th, 2014. Bids will be opened immediately after in the Board Room at 406 Webb Drive Northeast, Live Oak, Florida 32064 for the award of a 6 month contract for lawn service. Bids must be accompanied by a proof of Liability Insurance and Contractor’s Occupational License and be able to do business in the County of Suwannee. A copy of each is to be submitted with the bid. There will be a pre-bid conference held consisting of review of the areas at 2:00 p.m. April 9th, 2014 in the Board Room at 406 Webb Drive Northeast, Live Oak, Florida 32064. At this time the Owner’s representatives will discuss the project requirements and procedures. Contractors are strongly encouraged to attend. Failure to attend does not relieve the bidder from the responsibility to carry out the work in the manner discussed at the conference. This pre-bid conference does not relieve the bidders of the on-site inspection of the project requirements.

River deaths ruled a drowning Continued From Page 1A

things, ‘We’ll give you an OK as long as you give us your piece of property,’ it’s likely legalized extortion,” Ulmer said. “You’re asking us to give up property (that is not tied to this project) to expand our facility.” Grantham noted that if this property is taken off the tax roll, the CRA would lose approximately $75,000 over the next 25 years. “Are you doing what’s right for the CRA, or are you doing what’s right for the citizens of this community?” Ulmer asked. Following a lengthy discussion and in light of new information presented, Grantham offered to table the agenda item and send it to a workshop before coming back before the council. “I’m not trying to stop what the school board is trying to do by any means,” Grantham said. “I would like to table this and have a workshop on this.” After consulting with school board members and Superintendent of Schools Jerry Scarborough, Ulmer told the council they were not prepared to set a date for a workshop. Prins then asked the council if they could proceed with a vote, and they agreed. With a 4-1 vote, the board agreed to allow the land use change that would allow the school district to move forward with the purchase of the property. The School Board will now have to seek requests for proposals for financing the purchase (purchase price of $395,000) and environmental and building condition studies would have to be performed before the final purchase of the property and building.

The Live Oak Housing Authority is an equal opportunity agency, which does not discriminate against any person because of race, color, age, religion, sex, national origin, handicap and/or familial status. The Live Oak Housing Authority solicits and encourages Minority Business Enterprises (MBE), Woman Business Enterprises (WBE) and Section 3 Business participation in all of its contracts. LOHA reserves the right to waive minor informalities in the bidding if said waiver is in the Housing Authority’s best interest. 19 March 2014 862112

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