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Toys For Tots provides
for hundreds of families
in the Tri-County Area

Some of the parents and guardians of the 800-plus children who will receive toys for Christmas thanks the United States Marine Corps Reserve, and many volunteers and donors.

Story and Photos

By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 20, 2014
     LEVY COUNTY -- For the first time in a few years, the Toys For Tots program was consolidated to serve families in Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties.

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     The mission of distributing toys to families on Saturday night (Dec. 20) at the Walmart parking lot in Chiefland went without a hitch.

Vince and Pat Arcadi stand behind some of the many wooden toys donated by Cross City Correctional Institution. This year, like some other years, they celebrated their wedding anniversary in part by helping distribute toys. This was the couple's 28th anniversary.

Toys122014E     The Toys For Tots of the Tri-County Area wrapped up its program of giving gifts with the delivery of toys and books to another 800-plus children, Toys For Tots Coordinator USMC (Ret.) Cpl. Brian Chrisp estimated Saturday morning.

Toys For Tots Coordinator USMC (Ret.) Cpl. Brian Chrisp grabs a bag from the back of one of the semi trailers that were used for the distribution.

     More than a dozen adult volunteers worked together like a well-tuned Swiss watch as they handed out ready-made, tagged bags of gifts for the children in the hundreds of different families. Bags had names on them, and a description of the number of boys and girls in the family and their age ranges.

Cribs, strollers, tables, chairs and several other wooden pieces of furniture and toys built by Cross City Correctional Institution inmates went to children.

    Families also accepted one bag for each boy or girl.
     Several types of wooden children’s furniture and toys were donated by inmates who work at Cross City Correctional Institution in the Prison Industry Enhancement (PRIDE) Program did not work out in Gilchrist County.

Toys122014F     PRIDE Enterprises is supported by a strong partnership with the Florida Department of Corrections. PRIDE’s work programs are designed to provide vocational training, to improve prison security, to reduce the cost of state government, and to promote the rehabilitation of the state inmates.

Kimberly McKenzie passes out one of the many bicycles from the back of the semi trailer. McKenzie and other volunteers worked in the trailers, on the parking lot and under a tent as they registered families and distributed toys.

    PRIDE directly reduces the cost of state government through inmate wage deductions for room and board (Prison Industry Enhancement program workers), for victim restitution, and through revenue-profit sharing contracts with the Department of Corrections.

Roseanna Powers passes a bag to Pastor Emanuel Harris.

Pastor Emanuel Harris carries a box and a bag to give to a waiting parent.

     “We thank the Lord,” Chrisp said. “We wouldn’t be here today if not for Him putting this together for us.”
     Chrisp said he wants to thank everyone in both counties for the great success, and especially the multitude of anonymous donors. He noted his sincere appreciation to Walmart for all of the help it provided. He said he is thankful to Cross City Correctional Institution’s inmates who contributed to the cause by making wooden gifts.
     Toys for Tots is a program by the United States Marine Corps Reserve.
     Next year, Chrisp said, organization of all dates will be blocked in before the campaign restarts. It will again be for the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, he said.

Parents and guardians wait patiently to collect toys to bring some joy to children on Christmas.

    Registrations this year were by paper and online, he said. Next year, the online system will be enhanced. If there are more people registering next year, then the potential exists for that to happen in a different place for each, or a couple of the three different counties.
     Last year, only Levy and Gilchrist counties participated and there were 800 children then, he said. That is why there were distributions in Chiefland and Trenton last year.
     The parents and guardians of 800-plus children stood in line to make their tots' Christmas happier than it would have been.
     Some number of tears of joy hit the ground on Saturday, just as the boots of U.S. Marines and other volunteers hit the ground to make the event come to life.
     Vince Arcadi and his wife Pat are the former coordinators for several years prior to this year. He had to drop out of Levy and Gilchrist counties last year due to health issues, but they were both helping full-force on Saturday.
     Saturday was a special day for Vince and Pat Arcadi, too. It was their 28th wedding anniversary..
     There were a number of Marines in dress uniforms, including (ret.) Master Sgt. “William” Bill Cummings. Other non-active Marines in uniform at this distribution were (Ret.) Lt. Col. Harvie Hampton and Sgt. Dominic Gosein.
     Other non-active Marines and civilians who donated their time on Saturday included Ted Henley, Frank Matthews, Kimberly McKenzie, Roseanna Powers and Pastor Emanuel Harris of Pine Grove Baptist Church.
     The traditional “Ho, Ho, Ho” of Christmas in Chiefland on Saturday had another certain ring to it again this year. That sound was the “Ooo-rah” Of Marines.


Judge Administers Oath
Levy County Judge Browning administers the Oath of  Office to Levy County School Board Members for their new four-year terms. These candidates were reelected because no one ran against them. They are (from left) Cameron Asbell - Bronson District 1; Robert Philpot - Williston District 3; and Rick Turner - Yankeetown District 5. The ceremony was performed at the Dec. 16 meeting.
Published Dec. 17, 2014
Photo Provided by Levy County School Board

Inglis leader dies
By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 15, 2014
     INGLIS -- Inglis Town Commissioner Sherry Ely, 68, died on Thursday (Dec. 11), City Clerk Sally McCranie noted in a Dec. 15 email.
     Commissioner Ely served as an Inglis Town Commissioner starting in March of 2000, when she served her first two-year term. She served again from Sept of 2004 until March 2007, and from April 2010 to March 2014, and then coming back July 2014 until presently, McCranie said.
     Ely also served on the Inglis Planning Board during the time when she was not on was not on the Town Commission.
     The manner in which she will be replaced is similar to what the Town of Bronson is doing in regard to replacing former Town Councilman Berlon Weeks, who resigned in November.
     A simple majority vote by the remaining Inglis Town Commission members -- Commissioner Sally Price, Commissioner Steve Kesterson, Commissioner Ann Morin, and Commissioner Steve Smalldridge is what would lead to the appointment of a replacement, according to the town charter. The person to be appointed would have to be duly qualified to run for election to the post, according to the charter.
     If after two regular meetings there is not a majority vote, then the replacement for Ely can be decided via a special election, according to the charter.
     Inglis Mayor Glenda Kirkland does not have a vote on the Town Commission.
     Ely was filling the position of Inglis Town Councilman Michael Andrew “Drew” White who was removed from office. Ely was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott.
     Her duty to fill the term of White would have led to an election in 2016, McCranie said, and that is how long the appointed person will fill the position.
     One person who knew Ely very well was her nephew Michael Gilley, whom she raised like a son.
     Gilley said his aunt was a hardworking woman.
     “While she was raising me,” he said, “she worked three jobs and went to school. I miss her so much.
     “She was the commissioner who was the most dedicated to this town – ever,” he continued. “To the bitter end, it was all about this town. She was a great grandma’ and an all-around great woman.” is
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Fiftieth Jingle Singers

The newest performer of the jingle are the Suwannee Valley Players from the play The Curious Savage -- Mrs. Savage played by Janice Grant; Farie Mae played by Diana Child; Florence played by Rebecca Locklear; Hannibal played by Rickie Kidd; Jeff played by Wyatt Bowden; Ms. Willie played by Cheyanne Ahrens; Senator Titus played by Austin Myer; Judge Samuel played by Anthony Griffis; Lilly Bell played by Tiffany Black; and Dr. Emmet played by Linda Masters. The singer who carries the jingle the farthest is Mrs. Paddy, played by Amelia Wines. 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. (Thanks people!) This video was posted Dec. 20, 2014. The next jingle singers will be part of the Chiefland High School Freshmen Class, who sang here at the Christmas Festival on Dec. 13. These singers to be posted in the future are Cheyanne Walker, Sydney Allen, Tori Hutson and C.J. Gilbert.
 -- Video by Jeff M. Hardison

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SAT.   DEC. 20   8:57 p.m.
Levy, Dixie, Gilchrist counties

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