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Crystal River City Council to hear ordinances on park hours, garage sales

Crystal River City Council will be introduced at its upcoming meeting to a few ordinances proposing to modify Hunter Springs Park’s hours, do away with permitted garage sales, and regulate the anchoring of particular commercial vessels in King’s Bay.

Council members call to order at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12, at City Hall, 123 NW U.S. 19, Crystal River. For more information about the city council, and how to watch live meetings online, visit crystalriverfl.org/meetings.

City staff to present council with ordinance to modify Hunter Springs Park hours

After being urged by the public to change the restrictive hours for Crystal River’s Hunter Springs Park, council will be introduced Monday to a proposed ordinance seeking to do just that.

If approved later by council at an Oct. 10 public hearing, the ordinance would set the park’s operating hours as:

From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. between either April 1 or the start of Daylight Savings Time and Labor Day, Sept. 5; from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. between Labor Day and Oct. 31; and from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. between either Nov. 1 or the last day of Daylight Savings Time and March 31.

Council’s vote in October will more or less be a formality as the city already put those hours into effect after Labor Day.

At first, sunup and sundown dictated the hours for Hunter Springs Park.

Council passed an ordinance in July enacting several rules for the city’s waterfront park, including new park hours: from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 1 through Aug. 31, and from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sept. 1 through March 31.

Afterward, a handful city residents and park visitors implored council members at their Aug. 24 meeting to nix the hours because they limited how long working and schooling families could enjoy the park while the sun is up.

Council to hear ordinance eliminating permit requirement for garage sales

City staff on Monday will introduce council to a proposed ordinance seeking to eliminate the permit requirement for city residents wanting to host garage sales. Council will vote on the ordinance at a public hearing during its Oct. 10 meeting.

If approved, the ordinance would delete the city ordinance mandating people to obtain a $5 city permit, which would also authorize the use of on-site signage.

There would be no changes to either the frequency, duration or allowable signage for garage sales. City codes allow for homesteads in the city to have three garage sales a year, lasting no more than three days.

Council to vote on signage ordinance

Council will vote Monday on whether to approve an ordinance seeking to modify the city’s signage laws to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling over how local governments can regulate content-neutral signs.

Council to hear ordinance restricting anchoring for certain commercial vessels

In an effort to curb boat congestion in King’s Bay, city staff will introduce council on Monday to a proposed ordinance seeking to limit certain commercial vessels to anchoring farther than 100 feet from shore, and not overnight.

This ordinance excludes commercial-fishing and ecotourism vessels, but includes vessels engaged in the business and sales of either lodging, food or retail.

Council will vote on whether to approve the ordinance at a public hearing during its Oct. 10 meeting.

Council to get presentation on King’s Bay water quality

Council will hear an update Monday on King’s Bay’s various water-quality issues.

Higher-than-safe levels of fecal coliform bacteria were found in the waters off of Hunter Springs Park, closing the city park’s beach from Aug. 19 to Sept. 2. Blue-green algae toxins were also discovered Sept. 1 in the canal outside of Three Sisters Springs, between third and fourth avenues.

Council to vote on road-closures for upcoming events

Council’s consent agenda for Monday includes two items to approve requests for temporary road closures for the upcoming Crystal River Scarecrow Fest and Crystal River High School Homecoming Parade.

From 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 8, the Scarecrow Fest will close Citrus Avenue, from Crystal Street to U.S. 19; and Northwest Seventh Street, from Citrus Avenue to Northwest First Avenue.

From 4:45 p.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 13, the homecoming parade will close Crystal Street, starting from Citrus Avenue, so floats can travel from the First Baptist Church of Crystal River to the high school.


Local
Nonprofit Spotlight
KCCB Keeping Citrus County beautiful since 2001

Editor’s note: Every community depends on the resources and support that nonprofit agencies provide people, whether physical, material or emotional.

The Chronicle’s ongoing series, Nonprofit Spotlight, profiles the nonprofit agencies in Citrus County that exist to help make life better for us all.

To have your nonprofit organization considered for a spotlight, here’s the link to an online form you can fill out: https://www.chronicle online.com/site/forms/ nonprofit_spotlight

•••

The sight of a sunset from Fort Island Beach, wildflowers lining the roadways in spring, fishing from a pier, kids swimming in the springs, taking a quiet kayak ride down the Chassahowitzka River, spotting a dolphin or a manatee while boating on the Homosassa River.

For native county residents and transplants alike, these are just a few of the things people love about Citrus County, the “Nature Coast.”

However, it’s one thing to live in a naturally beautiful place; it’s another thing to keep it beautiful.

That’s why in 2001 a group of local citizens started the nonprofit organization, Keep Citrus County Beautiful (KCCB); they incorporated in 2002.

KCCB is also an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful and Keep Florida Beautiful.

As it says on the group’s Facebook page: “Keep Citrus County Beautiful. It’s that simple.”

“The alternative is doing nothing, and that’s not an option,” said KCCB board president Lace Blue-McLean.

Their mission is to encourage personal responsibility for community appearance through education, activities and recognitions.

Their focus is on reducing litter, promoting recycling, preserving and beautifying neighborhoods and public spaces.

KCCB areas of focus

Anti-littering

In conjunction with the county’s Adopt-A-Highway program, KCCB works with about 30 or so groups that have adopted a section of highway to keep as litter-free as possible.

Once a year, KCCB volunteers drive around the county and, using a scorecard, evaluate the conditions of the highways as far as litter is concerned to report back to the county.

“We also have ‘Drive it Home,’ a state program that gives litter bags to high schoolers who are just learning to drive to put in their cars,” McLean said.

Recycling

When it comes to recycling, KCCB is the “voice for the landfill,” getting out their message for recycling, McLean said.

Every year in November, National Recycling Month, KCCB does a free tour of the landfill and local recycling companies for the public, followed by lunch and a presentation about recycling.

Community Beautification

As an affiliate of both Keep Florida Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful, KCCB can get clean-up supplies from national corporations like 3M to give to neighborhoods and service clubs and groups who want to clean up an area.

“Beverly Hills does a beautification project once a year, and Inverness always does a big clean up in April for Earth Day,” McLean said.

Pride Awards

Once a quarter, KCCB gives an award to a business, organization or area that has shown an exceptional effort in keeping Citrus County beautiful.

In the past they’ve recognized: the community of Arbor Lakes for their years of consistent highway cleanup, Habitat for Humanity for including a recycle bin for each new homeowner and for including recycling education in their program, and The Path for their extensive restoration of the former Beverly Hills Motel into a rescue mission.

“We had some money from FDOT (Florida Department of Transportation) and got some plants from the Citrus County Native Plant Society for them to use in their landscaping,” McLean said. “If you go by there, it still looks beautiful.”

Save Our Waters Week

Chronicle file 

In this 2018 photo, Krystal Vineyard stands at the top of the trash heap during the Coastal Cleanup in Ozello.

In 1996, Save Our Water Week was launched as a committee under the not for profit visioning organization Citrus 2020, Inc. to promote public consensus to save our local waters through public awareness, education and appreciation of the county’s irreplaceable waters that underwrite our quality of life.

When Citrus 2020 was dissolved in 2018, Save Our Waters Week became a committee of KCCB, said Curt Ebitz, KCCB board member and a co-founder of Save Our Waters Week.

“This was the perfect fit for Save Our Waters Week, continuing its annual public focus on our local waters each September,” he said. “It fits the (KCCB) mission of encouraging personal responsibility for reducing litter, promoting recycling, preserving and beautifying our neighborhoods, waterways and public spaces through education, activities and recognition.”

How the community can help Keep Citrus County Beautiful

In addition to picking up litter when you see it and also not contributing to it by tossing trash out the car window or leaving it after a picnic in the park, etc., KCCB welcomes new members and volunteers for events and fundraisers.

Contact KCCB by email at: keepcitruscountybeautiful@gmail.com

Website: www.kccbinc.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kccbinc


Education
Several school district positions up for pay increase

Rather than the usual Tuesday meeting, the next regular meeting of the Citrus County School Board will be on Monday, Sept. 12, beginning at 4 p.m. and is slated to include the adoption of the final budget and millage rates for the district, as well as pay raises for several positions and district personnel.

Effective Sept. 18 pending approval, substitute teacher pay will see an increase of $30-$40 for daily rates and long-term, depending on level of certification.

Short term substitutesDaily rate
Non-degreed or associate's$120
Bachelor's or higher$135
State certified$140
Long term substitutesNon-certifiedCertified
Bachelor's$165$170
Master's or higher$175$180

Also, all non-union support personnel and classified and professional-technical support will be moved to $15 per hour minimum and will be retroactive to July 1, 2022.

All school and district administrators’ salaries will see a 3.5 percent increase and all returning instructional staff salaries will increase with a new minimum of $47,900, a market adjustment of $1918.49. This will also be retroactive to July 1.

New teachers will start at the $47,900 salary mark depending on years of experience.

To view complete agenda items and documents, visit tinyurl.com/yxz3bfs4. To watch the live meeting, visit youtube.com/user/CitrusSchools. The in-person meeting will take place at 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12, at the district office, 1007 W. Main St., Inverness.




AP
Biden honors 9/11 victims, vows commitment to thwart terror
President Joe Biden has marked the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, taking part in a somber wreath-laying ceremony held at the Pentagon under a steady rain

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden marked the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, taking part in a somber wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon held under a steady rain and paying tribute to “extraordinary Americans” who gave their lives on one of the nation’s darkest days.

Sunday’s ceremony occurred a little more than a year after Biden ended the long and costly war in Afghanistan that the U.S. and allies launched in response to the terror attacks.

Biden noted that even after the United States left Afghanistan that his administration continues to pursue those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Last month, Biden announced the U.S. had killed Ayman al-Zawahri, the al-Qaida leader who helped plot the Sept. 11 attacks, in a clandestine operation.

“We will never forget, we will never give up,” Biden said. “Our commitment to preventing another attack on the United States is without end.”

The president was joined by family members of the fallen, first responders who had been at the Pentagon on the day of the attack, as well as Defense Department leadership for the annual moment of tribute carried out in New York City, the Pentagon and Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

In ending the Afghanistan war, the Democratic president followed through on a campaign pledge to bring home U.S. troops from the country’s longest conflict. But the war concluded chaotically in August 2021, when the U.S.-backed Afghan government collapsed, a grisly bombing killed 170 Afghans and 13 U.S. troops at Kabul’s airport, and thousands of desperate Afghans gathered in hopes of escape before the final U.S. cargo planes departed over the Hindu Kush.

Biden marked the one-year anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan late last month in low-key fashion. He issued a statement in honor of the 13 U.S. troops killed in the bombing at the Kabul airport and spoke by phone with U.S. veterans assisting ongoing efforts to resettle in the United States Afghans who helped the war effort.

Biden on Sunday said an “incredible debt” was owed to the U.S. troops who served in Afghanistan as well as their families. More than 2,200 U.S. service members were killed and more than 20,000 were wounded over the course of the nearly 20-year war, according to the Pentagon.

He also vowed that the nation will “never fail to meet the sacred obligation to you to properly prepare and equip those that we send into harm’s way and care for those and their families when they come home – and to never, ever, ever forget.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday criticized Biden’s handling of the end of the war and noted that the country has spiraled downward under renewed Taliban rule since the U.S. withdrawal.

“Now, one year on from last August’s disaster, the devastating scale of the fallout from President Biden’s decision has come into sharper focus,” McConnell said. “Afghanistan has become a global pariah. Its economy has shrunk by nearly a third. Half of its population is now suffering critical levels of food insecurity.”

The president also remembered the words of comfort Queen Elizabeth II, who died last week, sent to the American people soon after the 2001 attacks: “Grief is the price we pay for love.” Biden said those words remain as poignant as they did 21 years ago but the weight of loss also remains heavy.

“On this day, when the price feels so great, Jill and I are holding all of you close to our hearts.” Biden said.

Biden has recently dialed up warnings about what he calls the “extreme ideology” of former President Donald Trump and his “MAGA Republican” adherents as a threat to American democracy. Without naming Trump, Biden again on Sunday raised a call for Americans to safeguard democracy.


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