Suwannee River Chamber of Commerce News

The Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail and Suwannee River Wilderness Trail converge at Suwannee, making the tiny community an obvious stopping point for paddlers on the two long-distance trails. When they arrive, weary and ready for a shower and a proper meal, local paddling enthusiasts Leroy Harmon and Debbie Meeks mobilize to offer whatever help is needed. Volunteers like Harmon and Meeks are known as Trail Angels. They are usually found in waterfront towns like Suwannee and they go out of their way to assist paddlers.

Recently, an unusual paddler, Aaron Carotta, came to town. Liz Sparks, FWC recreation planner and paddling trail advocate alerted the Trail Angel network to be on the watch for Aaron, aka “Adventure Aaron,” and Austin Graham, a cinematographer who joined him for the last leg, after she ran into them at Keaton Beach by chance and learned they were trying to get to the Atlantic coast as fast as possible.

Aaron started paddling in Montana. Yep, that's Montana. He is attempting to beat the Guinness world record for an unsupported solo canoe expedition and is bringing awareness to Liz Sparks said, “Somehow they got the crazy notion to paddle up the Suwannee, cross Okeefenokee and portage 35 miles to get to the St Mary's river to paddle to Atlantic. Yep, crazy. Gator mating season in the big swamp; it’s early but everything is early this year with lack of winter. Hauling a canoe through 30 miles of horny gators in the big swamp?—they just et up with ain't right!!”

"Their detour up the Suwannee was partly my fault,” Meeks says with a laugh. She had given them a Suwannee Wilderness Trail guide and described the wonderful river camps, manatees and springs they would see on the way. She shrugs. "Leroy and I cautioned them that the Suwannee is high right now and we’d never heard of anyone paddling all the way upstream, especially with water running 3-4 mph."

Harmon, octogenarian and senior trail angel in Suwannee, as usual went the extra mile or hundred for Aaron and Austin. After they left Suwannee, he drove to meet them along the way for the next three days, buying meals, transporting Austin to Chiefland for an emergency data cable replacement and dispensing local knowledge—just another day in the life of a Trail Angel.

Once Aaron surpassed the Guinness record, exhausted from paddling upstream against the Suwannee, he asked to be portaged from just below Branford to the St. Mary’s river. Aaron and Austin reached the Atlantic on Aaron’s 233th expedition day.

Read about Aaron's adventure on his Facebook page.

Aaron and Leroy

Leroy gives Aaron a few tips as he leaves Suwannee.

P.S. Leroy was named Trail Angel of the Year by the Florida Paddling Trail Association. Jill Lingard presented the award to him on April 22, 2017.

Posted on 14 Feb 2017

The Litter Grabbers picked up around town and worked up an appetite for chili. Pictured are Fred, Cathy, Tymber and Amy Edwards, David Meeks and Carol West

In just a couple of hours they collected a truck full.

Ann Leverette entered her chili early and came back just in time to win first prize.

Suwannee chili cook-off winners
1st - Ann Leverette (far right)
2nd - Todd Clements (not pictured)
3rd - Lori Edge (center)
Chris Parr (far left) awarding prizes
Trophies donated by Waterfront Market - Jerry and Paige Austen Everett
Posted on 05 Feb 2017
The Natural Pine Forest trail, near mile eight on the Dixie Mainline, is now easier to hike thanks to Engineering Equipment Operator/Refuge, Jason Coates and several Suwannee residents. This 1.2-mile-long, down-and-back trail has a variety of habitats including a fresh water pond and a marsh view of Shired Island at the end. The trail can be found in the FWS Dixie Mainline Trail Guide ( feature "B" on the map), which is available free at the Suwannee Library.

Watch your head on the overgrown trail until the lopper crew comes through.

Now it's starting to look like a trail.

The finishing crew fine tunes the shape. Left to right, Jane Connors, Kathy, Vonda Bacher, Dusty.

The heavy lifters take a break. Pictured are Tom Leverette, David Meeks and Jason Coates.

After a productive morning Jason Coates gave everyone a jungle tour back to their cars.
Posted on 04 Feb 2017

Earlier this year, the Florida Rural Water Association (FRWA) in Tallahassee, Florida chose Suwannee Water & Sewer District as the Small Public Water System of the Year. The award was presented to the Suwannee Water & Sewer District at the 2016 FRWA Annual Conference in Daytona Beach on August 8, 2016.

The Suwannee Water & Sewer District serves 909 customers in Suwannee. It has a 375,000 GPD Membrane Water Treatment Plant and a 0.250 million gallon a day extended aeration activated sludge domestic wastewater treatment facility with sewage grinder pumps stations located at each house.

Small Public Water System Award

Here is an article in Treatment Plant Operator magazine about a recent upgrade to one of the steps in the complex waste water purifying process This Treatment Plant's Upgrade is Turning Heads

Water Writers Magazine feature
Posted on 14 Dec 2016
It is an amazing sight to see the "clouds" of bait fish in the mouths of the creeks and canals around Suwannee. That is what is bringing in the trout! Our guides have been limiting out on trout and Reds every time they go out. Come join the fun. You can use the public ramp on Hwy 349, or use those at Suwannee Marina or Gateway Marina, when you buy your shrimp. Bait is also available at Bill's Fish Camp. Be sure to get a copy of the November “Florida Sportsman” Magazine and read the article on fishing in Suwannee!
Posted on 29 Nov 2016

Ashley Edwards and Jessica Dyals, with help from many in our community, held a Community Trunk or Treat at Glen Dyals park on Saturday, November 29. This was a fun and safe way to gather, meet new folks and do our trick or treating. About 15 people set up their “booths” and handed out all kinds of sweet stuff. Some were scary, some kind of “ucky” and some just plain cute. As always, the “train” was there to give the kiddies a ride.

Fred & Cathy Edwards as Phil and Miss Kay

Dale & Lori Colson and George Kelton

Vicky Dyals

Ashley Edwards

On the supper menu, there were hotdogs, chips and some good sweet tea/drinks. After the trunk or treating was done, there was a costume contest, as well as one for the best decorated trunk.

Ben Edwards

Everyone enjoyed it and I’m sure it will probably happen again next year. When trick or treating time comes around, consider coming out to join in on the fun.

Submitted by: Cathy Edwards
Posted on 16 Nov 2016
The Suwannee Water & Sewer District will now have their monthly meeting on the third Monday of each month beginning in December 2016 at the Suwannee Community Center. All are welcome to attend.
Posted on 16 Nov 2016
After 21 years, the Chamber's print newsletter, the Suwannee Connection, has finally ceased publication. But don't be sad! The articles residents and visitors have enjoyed for over two decades will continue here in the Suwannee Chamber News blog.

In all, 170 editions were printed from January 1995 to March 2016. The Suwannee Connection, created by the first Chamber president, Dan Hayes, was mailed to members and picked up at various locations around the community. In the early days, this included Old Town. When Dan passed away suddenly in December 1996, the Board voted to continue the Chamber and the newsletter, but to focus both on the community of Suwannee.

Over the years, different Chamber members have worn the editor's hat, each lending their distinctive style to the publication. With its stories being all about Suwannee events, history, people and businesses, the Connection became a “newspaper” for our community.

First Suwannee Connection issue

Originals of almost every issue of the Suwannee Connection are available for reference at the Suwannee Library Technical Center (adjacent the Fire Dept. building on Hwy 349). Stop by and take a look at our past, as we move into the future.

Posted on 09 Nov 2016
Enjoying perfect cleanup weather on October 20, twenty-three volunteers collected 1,704 lbs of trash from the canals and creeks around the town of Suwannee- four times more than last year! Most of the debris was from Hurricane Hermine.

After a chicken & rice lunch served Dixie style out of a well-loved cast iron pot, Daniel Barrand, Refuge Forester, gave an excellent presentation on the history of the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge that left me feeling proud I helped clean one of the largest pristine coastal wetlands in the country.

Anne and Tom Leverette only cleaned a small area near their house but filled their boat
Posted on 03 Nov 2016
The new Library/Tech Center building opened for business on Saturday May 7. Local officials and Suwannee residents attended the grand opening.

The new hours are:
  • Tuesday and Thursday 10 am - 4 pm
  • Wednesday 12 pm - 5 pm
  • Saturday 9 am - 12 pm

Posted on 03 Nov 2016
Florida Circumnavigation Saltwater Paddling Trail travelers discover the natural beauty of Suwannee and the hospitality of the resident Trail Angels who meet the weary paddlers and help any way they can. Paddlers cite different reasons for taking the 1,515 mile human-powered salt water challenge. Last year Rich Brand said he intends to write a book about his experience, others paddled to raise awareness for a cause.
Posted on 02 Nov 2016

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