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William Bailey of Hilliard dies

William M. Bailey, 61, of Hilliard died peacefully on June 1, 2013 at Community Hospice in Jacksonville. He was born September 20, 1951 and was preceded in death by his daughter Betty Michele Painter. He is survived by daughters April (Lee) Waddell of Glen Saint Mary and Amy Garcia of Batesburg, SC; 11 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren; sister Janet (Andy) Milonas; brothers Jan, Jerry and Frank Bailey and numerous nieces and nephews. Read More »

Oldcastle sand mine project coming back before LPA, county

Last summer two mining companies applied for special exceptions to allow development of separate mines in southeastern and northeastern Baker County. After much discussion, changes to its proposal and a few false starts in the local planning process, one of the companies, Oldcastle Southern Group of Tampa, is ready to move forward.

The company recently received its final environmental permit from the state and this week sealed a deal with the City of Macclenny to accept its treated wastewater stream and avoid pumping water from the aquifer, which concerned local residents who mounted a campaign to oppose the projects last year. Read More »

Ex-BCCS employees speak out on closing

Several former employees of the now-closed Macclenny nonprofit Baker Community Counseling Services (BCCS) spoke with The Press recently regarding their involvement, or lack thereof, with the alleged sexual and financial misconduct in the office.

Most of them pointed to executive director Chris Thomas as the culprit, saying he sexually harassed female subordinates, gave himself bonuses and allegedly used the organization’s credit card for personal expenses.

When contacted, Mr. Thomas, who joined BCCS in 2006 following a stint as an assistant to the clerk of courts, denied any financial wrongdoing and declined to comment on the sexual allegations. Read More »

Drop in enrollment blamed for predicted $1.3M deficit

The Baker County school district is beginning the 2013-14 budget process facing a deficit that would take nearly $1.3 million in cash reserves to balance the ledger. If that’s the route taken, it follows a similar amount pulled from emergency savings last year to fund a budget gap.

The cause of the shortfall is a drop in state education funding attributed mostly to a decline in student enrollment.
“We are now in significant declining enrollment,” Marcelle Richardson, the school district’s chief budget officer, told the school board during a budget workshop on June 3. Read More »

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