Leon County

unveiling of great tree challenge
Donald DeBevoise / WFSU News

A community-wide initiative to document Leon County’s oldest and most historically significant trees is underway. This is the first government-backed effort to record Leon’s trees.

A picture of a gas station
stratman / Flickr Creative Commons

Commercial development in rural Leon County is being limited. Commissioners approved changes to the county’s land codes Tuesday night. But some groups want even more restrictions on development.

The Commission’s vote caps the number of gas stations allowed at 27. That’s a decrease from the 200 previously allowed under the old plan.

The decision came as part of a push to prevent what some call extensive commercialization in Leon’s most rural areas.

Florida's primary is August 26th.
Nick Evans

Tuesday is Florida’s primary election and as citizens head to the polls, candidates are making their last push to convince voters they’re the one for the job.  Here, candidates on the Leon County ballot make their final pitch to voters.

MGN Online

Residents have until Saturday to vote early ahead of the August 26th primary election. And, depending on the area, it could end at different times.

For example, in Bay County, early voting will end at 7 p.m. Meanwhile, Leon and Wakulla counties' will end at 6 in the evening.

To participate in the primary, voters must have registered to vote on or before July 28th.

sample ballot
Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

This month’s Leon County election may be a primary, but several races on the ballot will be decided without going on to the general election in November. Voters of any political affiliation can choose the winners of four seats on Aug. 26.

In one universal contest, voters will get to determine who represents Florida House District 9: incumbent Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda (D-Tallahassee) or challenger Arnitta Grice-Walker. Although both are Democrats, all registered voters who live in the district can choose the winner because they are the only qualified candidates.

Jdan57 via Flickr

Leon County’s football program has been certified as a Heads Up football program.  The safety program includes concussion education for players. 

USA Football created the Heads Up Program in 2012 to reduce injuries on the field by educating coaches and players. With Pop Warner’s nationwide adoption of the program, approximately 40 percent of the youth football programs in the U.S. are now operating under these safety standards.

Local agencies say pregnancy health is vital to reducing infant mortality
Susan Collins via Flickr

The Florida Department of Health released data Wednesday on infant mortality rates in Leon County.  A sharp decline in deaths among black children is the highlight, but officials say it’s difficult to draw conclusions from a single year. 

After jumping to a rate of 9.3 per thousand in 2012, this new information shows infant deaths dropped all way to 5.3 per thousand in 2013.  Sandy Glazer with the Capital Area Healthy Start Coalition says this shows their efforts are succeeding.

Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

Tallahassee residents in the Buck Lake area will have a fire station closer to home next year. The Tallahassee Fire Department broke ground today on its 16th station as Leon County’s population continues growing.

Fire fighters say the new station should help them achieve their goal of a 5-minute response time anywhere in the county.

Tallahassee Fire Department spokesman Mike Bellamy says when a child at Buck Lake Elementary had a recent emergency, it took paramedics 10 minutes to arrive.

Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

The Leon County Commission is about to hold its annual discussion of how the legislative session could affect the local community. County- and state-level officials are slated to take questions Tuesday morning.

The meeting is hosted by Leon County Commissioner Bryan Desloge for the third year. Residents are invited to talk about how the recently concluded legislative session could bring changes to the region.

All local legislative delegates, local elected officials and school employees were invited to attend.

The lot where the performing arts center would have been built
Donald DeBevoise

Tallahassee won’t be getting a stand-alone performing arts center any time soon. The Leon County Commission has decided to use tax dollars originally earmarked for building arts centers in other ways. It’s the latest in a series of struggles facing large arts venues in Tallahassee.

Bob Howard

Leon County business leaders and politicians met early Tuesday to discuss how they’ve fared thus far in the legislative session.

“It’s a push-pull relationship," County Commission Chairman Bryan Desloge says, "there’s a fight between local and state government. You know, what happens is they’ve got the same restraints we do where there is a limited amount of resources and an unlimited amount of need."

R.Benk / WFSU-News

In order to prevent overharvesting, Florida voters in 1994 ratified a constitutional ban on what’s called a gill net, which catches fish by entangling their gills in the net’s mesh. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which was put in charge of creating the rules to implement the amendment, also stipulated that mullet fishermen could only use nets whose holes were no larger than 2-inches in size, prompting two decades of court battles. After a year of deliberating, Leon County Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford ruled in favor of commercial fishermen last week.

A Tallahassee-Leon County workgroup plans to inquire about the sexually transmitted infection rates at area universities and colleges. The committee is trying to find out what makes the county’s infection rate among the worst in the state, even compared with other college towns.

Tuesday’s meeting of the HIV/AIDS and STDs Working Group focused on a disturbing statistic, shared by Annelise Mennicke (formerly Martin), an FSU doctoral student assisting the workgroup with research:

“Leon County is No. 1 in the state for gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis.”

JR Harding

At a meeting Tuesday, Leon County Commissioners will consider a watered-down version of an ordinance aimed at making it easier for people with disabilities to get help pumping gas. Advocates for tougher rules still want the law to do more.

The proposed ordinance would require gas stations to display phone numbers on pumps that a driver could call for help.

Disability advocate JR Harding lives with quadriplegia and says he’s left stations without pumping gas because it’s so hard to get assistance. “Is my time any less valuable than your time? The answer’s no," he says.

Jessica Palombo / WFSU-FM

Leon County officials say the 2013 legislative session turned out well for the region. Schools, universities and state employees are all celebrating.

Local leaders met with state legislative delegates today on Tuesday to discuss how the laws and budgets passed this session will affect the local community.

Rep. Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee) said, this year’s budget includes pay raises for the thousands of state workers in the area, the first they’ve seen in seven years. And that should help boost the local economy.  

Gaines Street Reopens, Paving The Way For More Development

Apr 25, 2013
Thomas Andrew Gustafson

Tallahassee’s Gaines Street is now open to all traffic. But future development in the area excites local government officials and business owners more than newly paved roads.

DesignWorks Studio Wants To Help Grow Tallahassee's Urban Side

Mar 8, 2013
Thomas Andrew Gustafson

The Leon County and City of Tallahassee Planning Department wants to work closer with the developers, contractors, and architects of Leon County. The Department’s new DesignWorks Studio is a way to build up urban centers with less hassle.

Legislative Session Begins and Local Businesses Take Note

Mar 5, 2013
The Florida Channel

The Legislators are coming! The Legislators are coming! It’s simple math: more people mean more business. And for the city of Tallahassee, the Florida Legislature starting this week means a quick injection to the local economy. Owner of Nic’s Toggery, Victor Gavalas, says it’s a welcome sight.

“Spring Time Tallahassee needs the legislature to… honestly do a lot of business.” Says Gavalas.

Blankets, Space Heaters Needed For Elderly In Leon Co.

Jan 2, 2013

In Leon County, many senior citizens are going without heat this winter. County Elder Care Services is asking for donations to help them stay comfortable and safe in their homes.

Elder Care Services has been getting about seven phone calls every day from seniors who don’t have heat. Elder Care spokeswoman Amber Tynan says, they ask for space heaters and blankets.

“And we try to keep those items in stock,” she said. “However, with that amount of calls per day, you can imagine, we do go through those pretty quickly.”

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

Early Voting in Florida may have officially ended Saturday, but several Supervisors of Elections opened polling locations on Monday to allow for in-person absentee voting. People who showed up at the Leon County Courthouse said they’re grateful they avoided voting on Election Day.

The line at the Leon County Courthouse Saturday was so long, it circulated around the building and down the street, with people waiting for hours. But, Monday was a stark contrast for voters, like Stephen McDaniel, who stood in line for only a couple of minutes.

Leon County Crime Rate Down In First Half Of 2012

Nov 2, 2012
Florida Department of Law Enforcement

The State of Florida is looking a little safer – that’s according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s biannual crime report.  Overall crime in Florida has dropped, and crime in Leon County has sunk 7% in the past six months.

The report shows a nearly 4 point decrease in crime statewide for January to June of this year.  Dave Northway of the Tallahassee Police Department said the decrease is thanks to community involvement.

Early Voting starts in Florida Saturday, and in Leon County alone, they’re anticipating a huge turnout. The county led the state in its overall voter turnout last election, and Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho says he’s expecting about that much this year, especially with early voting set to begin this weekend.

An extension of Leon County’s half penny sales tax for public schools could be in trouble.  The proposal sits at the bottom of this year’s ballot, and supporters of the tax say that could pose a serious problem come Election Day.

Leon County is looking for the public’s help as it plans to update its joint cultural plan with the city of Tallahassee. It’s seeking four private citizens to serve on the committee that will make recommendations to both governments about how the arts should intersect with tourism, the local economy and education.

The county will be accepting applications for its four citizen spots on the cultural-plan committee until Sunday, Oct. 28.

Kim Dressel, Senior Assistant to the Leon County Administrator, says the four county appointees will serve alongside 14 other members.

Leon County's Little-Known Campaigns

Oct 12, 2012

The general election is less than one month away, and campaigns big and small are heading in to the home stretch.  Officials said the big races are just as important as the little ones, but some voters are left wondering what exactly the candidates at the bottom of the ballot do.