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To see more about the fireworks in Bronson on the Fourth of July, please visit the LIFE PAGE.
Photo by Jeff M. Hardison © July 5, 2015 @ 8:27 a.m.

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 Trenton girl killed,
family members injured
in sturgeon strike
on Suwannee River

By Karen Parker of the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
Published July 4, 2015 @ 8:47 a.m.
     SUWANNEE RIVER -- A 5-year-old girl was killed and her mother and brother were injured by a leaping sturgeon while boating with their family on the Suwannee River. The encounter happened Thursday evening at 8:47 p.m.

     Jaylon Rippy, 5, from Trenton, died after a sturgeon struck her and her family near Fanning Springs near to the Joe Anderson Boat Ramp, which is in Dixie County, across the river from Levy County. Her mother, Tanya Faye Rippy, 31, and her brother, Trevor Rippy, 9, both from Trenton, were also injured.
      “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family at this time,” said Maj. Andy Krause, regional commander at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in Lake City. “This is a terrible tragedy.”
     This is the first fatality that has been recorded from a sturgeon strike on the Suwannee River. Other boaters have been injured from the jumping sturgeon in the past. Four people have been injured this year, including two people injured today by at sturgeon strike on the Santa Fe River,
     The family was airlifted by ShandsCair to UF Health in Gainsville on Thursday night.
     The FWC is continuing the investigation into the accident.
     Please see a video about Sturgeon safety, which is on the POLICE PAGE.

Pumpkin Swamp au Gratin wins
Please see the LEISURE PAGE
First phase of medical complex set to open in August in Ocala;
Regional General Hospital
of Williston slated  for more specialists

Dr. Rudrama Pagidipati (left) and Dr. Devaiah Pagidipati stand in the entrance for urgent care – such as for broken bones, cuts and the like. This is the first phase that is scheduled to open in August.

Story and Photos

By Jeff M. Hardison © July 1, 2015 @ 9:47 p.m.
     OCALA – An empty warehouse is becoming the foundation for a medical care facility with separate sections for several different aspects of health care.

This picture shows the entrance for cardiology (left), urgent care (center) and for the senior center on the right. On the farthest point on the left in this picture, is where a retail pharmacy will be available.

     The first phase of the Medicare Health Center is scheduled to open during the first part of August, said Dr. Devaiah Pagidipati and his wife Dr. Rudrama Pagidipati.
     The first phase of this three-phase development on Southwest 17th Street in Ocala will be an urgent care clinic. A tour of the facility on Monday (June 29) gave the two doctors a chance to talk about the various aspects of the structure that is under construction.

Dr. Devaiah Pagidipati and his wife Dr. Rudrama Pagidipati pause in his office before traveling to large facility under construction. This office is just now being used is at a separate location from the medical complex. Even the pictures are not on the walls yet. Two of the couple’s grandchildren can be seen in the photo resting on a printer in the background.

     “My dream is transforming health care for senior citizens,” Dr. Devaiah Pagidipati said. “I want this to be one-stop for better health for senior citizens.”
     Walking through the sprawling complex, he pointed to different areas in the structure. Part of the 100,000 square-foot complex is a 15,000 square-foot senior citizen center. In this one place, older patients will have access to physical fitness, healthcare education seminars, computers, games, television, and a lobby with a fireplace.
     They will be able to gather and socialize with each other as they wait to see their doctors.

Dr. Devaiah Pagidipati and Dr. Rudrama Pagidipati stand in one of the large areas that are under construction inside the huge complex.

     During the stroll, the two doctors and their journalist guest walked across a hallway. It appeared to run the length of the giant structure. This will be an indoor walkway, where people can stroll for exercise, Dr. Devaiah Pagidipati said.
     Throughout this facility, there are going to be state-of-the-art pieces of medical equipment, including a 16-channel MRI, a 64-slice CT scanner, soft-tissue PET scanning devices and more. There will be a 3-dimensional mammogram machine that promises to be the first of its kind in Marion County.
     Among the 200 or so people who will be working there to help patients recover from illness and injury, and to learn about practicing preventative lifestyles through counseling, will be specialists in every major field of medicine. Cardiology, internal medicine, gastroenterology and ophthalmology are among the specialties to be practiced there
     A big conference center is part of the structure as well. Dr. Devaiah Pagidipati said he wants to provide this place for the continuing education of people, employees and doctors. This part of the facility will also be open for use by Zumba instructors, he added.
     Senior citizens will be tested and cared for.
     Among the many amenities are a cafe and coffee shop. An on-site laboratory offers another benefit for people who use this facility. And a retail pharmacy is going to be connected on one end of the health care facility.

This is the main entrance for the senior center.

     The complete package of services for patients will include everything from the senior center, through the urgent care part of the complex and specialty care and surgical areas.
     Dr. Devaiah Pagidipati has 43 years in medicine, with a background in pediatric anesthesiology. He was chief of anesthesiology at St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis before moving to Marion County in 1991. His wife Rudrama Pagidipati is a pathologist with 35 years in medicine.
     Dr. Devaiah Pagidipati is also the owner of Regional General Hospital in Williston.
     With this project in Ocala that is going to total 100,000 square feet at an average cost for development at about $150 per square foot to equal about a $15 million complex under way, one question for the doctor was why refurbish the hospital in Williston.
     Dr. Devaiah Pagidipati said that he was poor as a child and he lived in a small town where people would have to be rushed far away for medical care.
      He sees Williston as a small town where people are being whisked away by ambulances to hospitals in Gainesville and Ocala, when there is a hospital in Williston that can meet many of their medical needs.
     While he grew up and went to Harvard University for medical school, and then earned millions of dollars, he still remembers the hardships of living in an impoverished area with no hospital.
     “I have experienced those things as a child,” he said. “And now, as a senior citizen, I know about Medicaid. I know the problems that people are going through.
     “I wanted to improve Regional General Hospital in Williston,” he said, “because next year will mark 50 years since the hospital started. It began as a project by the community back then. I did not want all of the hard work that the founders and the community put in to build this hospital to die and disappear.”
     The doctor said he wants Regional General Hospital to serve as a model – a showcase – for people to see that people who live in a rural setting can have easy access to a good hospital.
     Even more specialists are anticipated to be practicing medicine at Regional General Hospital in the coming year, and those additions are expected to be shared with readers of

Personal fireworks and
nesting shorebirds don’t mix

A Snowy Plover sits on her eggs.
Photo Provided

Published June 30, 2015 @ 1:37 p.m.
     FLORIDA -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) asks the public to help protect beach-nesting shorebirds across the state this holiday weekend by giving them space and keeping personal fireworks off the beach.
      Shorebirds are nesting on beaches along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida, with many still watching over flightless chicks during the busy Independence Day weekend. The snowy plover, least tern, black skimmer, American oystercatcher and Wilson’s plover are several of the state’s beach-nesting shorebird species that face conservation challenges and need people’s help to survive.
     “Fireworks launched too close or toward a nesting colony can cause adult shorebirds to flush off their nests and chicks to scatter, leaving the chicks vulnerable to predators, the elements and the potential of getting accidentally stepped on by beach-goers,” said Nancy Douglass, who works on shorebird conservation for the FWC. “Leaving personal fireworks at home and giving the birds space are ways that residents can still enjoy the beach while helping to keep shorebirds and their chicks safe.”
     Ways to protect beach-nesting shorebirds this holiday weekend and beyond:
     • Leave personal fireworks, including sparklers, at home and attend an official fireworks display instead.
     • Keep your distance, whether on the beach or paddling watercraft along the shore. If birds become agitated or leave their nests, you are too close. A general rule is to stay at least 300 feet from a nest. Birds calling out loudly or divebombing are giving signals for you to back off.
     • Never intentionally force birds to fly or run. They use up energy they need for nesting, and eggs or chicks may be left vulnerable to the sun’s heat or predators. Teach children not to chase shorebirds and kindly ask fellow beach-goers to do the same.
     • Respect posted shorebird nesting areas. Avoid posted sites and use designated walkways when possible.
     • It is best not to take pets to the beach, but if you do, keep them on a leash and avoid shorebird nesting areas.
     • Keep the beach clean and do not feed wildlife. Food scraps attract predators such as raccoons and crows, which can prey on shorebird chicks. Litter on beaches can entangle birds and other wildlife.
     • Spread the word. If you see people disturbing nesting birds, gently let them know how their actions may hurt the birds’ chances for survival. If they continue to disturb nesting shorebirds, report their activities to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922), #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone, or by texting
     For more ways to share the beach with nesting shorebirds, go to and download the “Share the Beach with Beach-Nesting Birds” brochure. Additional information can also be found at the Florida Shorebird Alliance website: is
a great place to advertise!

Fifty-Ninth Jingle Singer

The newest performers of the jingle is Tri-County Community Resources Inc. Chairwoman Diana Child of Chiefland. Here she sings the jingle at the Watermelon Festival on June 6 while manning the Tri-County Community Resource Center’s booth. Everyone is invited to sing the jingle. If you see Jeff Hardison and you want to sing the jingle, just let him know or send an email to He asks people to sing it, too, and some of them agree to sing it. (Thanks people!) The next jingle performer has not been recorded yet.
Published June 8, 2015 @ 5:37 a.m.

-- Video by Jeff M. Hardison

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