Call in the Marines
Toys For Tots distribution succeeds;
Second give-away set for today (Saturday)

The first set of the 600-plus people receiving gifts are seen on Friday.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 9, 2015 at 7:07 p.m.
* Updated Dec. 9, 2016 at 9:27 p.m.
The first distribution of toys to families involved with the Toys For Tots program went successfully Friday (Dec. 9) in the parking lot of the Walmart in Chiefland.
     Another one is scheduled for tomorrow. All of the families scheduled to receive toys know about this.

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Here are some of the toy furniture pieces created by Florida state prison inmates. And so the Florida Department of Corrections helps bring happiness to the less fortunate families in the area.

     Tri-County Toys For Tots Coordinator Bryan Chrisp was upbeat late Friday when he was interviewed while in the midst of the distribution that happened from 2 to 6 p.m. on Friday.
     "Once a Marine, always a Marine," said the former United States Marine Corps corporal. While he is not enlisted anymore, Chrisp is like many Marines – a Marine.
     The Toys For Tots program is a Marine Corps Reserve program.

Tri-County Community Resource Center Administrator Beverly Goodman stands with USMC Lt. Col. (Ret.) Harvie Hampton, the Judge Advocate for the Tri-County Marine Corps League Detachment 1018.


     Among the top set of helpers for Chrisp's activities this season is Tri-County Community Resource Center Administrator Beverly Goodman.
     This was a banner year for the families in the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties who benefitted from the distribution. Goodman said there are more than 600 children getting gifts that would not have seen much in the way of that Christmas joy without the Marines and the multitude of civilian volunteers.

Tri-County Community Resource Center Administrator Beverly Goodman stands with Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum (left) and Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz. The Tri-County Community Resource Center served as one of the focal points to bring the whole event together.

     Also stepping up to the plate as volunteers early-on in the Friday distribution process were Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum and Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz.
     Joining Sheriff McCallum from the LCSO were Sgt. Max Long, and deputies Chase Gregory, Bubba Wells and John Gulledge.
Sgt. Long mentioned that LCSO victim advocates Amanda Sauder and Raquel Alfonso wer among the people who helped from the LCSO on Friday.
     Assisting Sheriff Schultz from the GCSO on Friday were Sgt. Clint Anderson, Sgt. Keagon Weatherford, and deputies Chris Hale and Michael Rome.
     Sheriff Schultz said one member of his team who has been instrumental in the logistics required to make this a success is GCSO Capt. Sheryl Brown.

Ted Henley (left), who is the chaplain for the Tri-County Marine Corps League Detachment 1018, works in the back of one of the semi-trailers with Kyle Roberts (center) and Wesley Asbell on Friday.

     The people working in the back of the trailers have the responsibility of locating the correct bag of toys for each family.
     USMC Lt. Col. (Ret.) Harvie Hampton, the Judge Advocate for the Tri-County Marine Corps League Detachment 1018, was present as a Marine – helping as has for several years now.
     Many, many other volunteers helped people check in and accept their gifts for the children. Pat Arcadi, who with her husband Vince has been extremely involved in the program, was out again Friday helping people collect their gifts.
    Late Friday afternoon, being interviewed while in the process of the distribution, Chrisp mentioned he is extremely thankful for all of the donations of time, strength and every other resource for another successful yearly event to help children have a better Christmas than they would have experienced without the Toys For Tots program.
    People who are giving toys, time and other assets are thankful as well to the families who are accepting them, because this lets the givers enjoy the feeling that comes from those actions. The program ran smoothly again, thanks to the coordinated efforts of people cooperating for one cause.
    The Toys For Tots program is completed by a 100 percent volunteer organization that is sponsored by the United States Marine Corps Reserve. The Marines that coordinate and assist with the campaign are all former active duty Marines who have honorably served the United States of America and they live in the community.
     These Marines and other volunteers, some veterans of other branches, and many non-veterans, donate their time and resources to promote and support this local campaign.
     All donations are used in the community to reach as many children as possible. These volunteers note that they are grateful for the support they have received from local businesses, organizations and individuals.
     The mission, goal, objectives and activities of the United States Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program is noted below, verbatim from the group’s official website.
     The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.
     The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.
     The objectives of Toys for Tots are to help less fortunate children throughout the United States experience the joy of Christmas; to play an active role in the development of one of our nation’s most valuable resources – our children; to unite all members of local communities in a common cause for three months each year during the annual toy collection and distribution campaign; and to contribute to better communities in the future.
     The principal Toys for Tots activity which takes place each year is the collection and distribution of toys in the communities in which a Marine Corps Reserve Unit is located. In communities without a Reserve Unit, the campaign can be conducted by a Marine Corps League Detachment or group of men and women, generally veteran Marines, authorized by Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to conduct a local Toys for Tots campaign.
      Local Toys for Tots Campaign Coordinators conduct an array of activities throughout the year, which include golf tournaments, foot races, bicycle races and other voluntary events designed to increase interest in Toys for Tots, and concurrently generate toys and monetary donations.

Bell High School AJROTC
Memorializes Pearl Harbor

On Wednesday, (Dec. 7), Bell High School had a unique opportunity to Remember Pearl Harbor on the 75th Anniversary of the attack. Many students, faculty and staff members attended the ceremony where the Presidential Proclamation for Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day was read. Cadets in the BHS unit of the Army Jr. Reserve Officer Training Corps raised, and then lowered a flag to half-staff. This particular flag flown then is one that actually was flown over the USS Arizona, a Pennsylvania-class battleship. This is the same battleship Arizona that remains in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, since that fateful day, and there is a memorial structure there now in remembrance of it. The flag was lent to BHS for this ceremony by First Sergeant Jon Meinholz, one of the JROTC instructors at BHS. First Sgt. Meinholz was presented with this flag upon his re-enlistment on the Arizona Memorial, in 1986, while he was stationed in Hawaii. This tangible artifact allowed the students to have a more direct connection with the history and remembrance of this important day. Bell High School’s unit of the Army JROTC cadets who executed the ceremony on National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day 2016 included Wesley Jordan, A.J. Horne Jr., Dylan Reid and Stephen Dragon.                             
Published Dec. 8, 2016 at 2:07 p.m. on the Home Page of
Photos and Information Provided by United States Army LTC (Ret.) Jim Duthu, senior instructor at Bell High School for the Army Jr. Reserve Officer Training Corps

(Please see the story, photos and video of Chiefland VFW Post 5625 remembering veterans on this day on the COMMUNITY PAGE.)
Below is the Proclamation by the President of the United States of America


By President Barack Obama
     Seventy-five years ago, Japanese fighter planes attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, destroying much of our Pacific Fleet and killing more than 2,400 Americans. The following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called on the Congress to declare war and "make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us." In that spirit, Americans came together to pay tribute to the victims, support the survivors, and shed the comforts of civilian life to serve in our military and fight for our Union. Each year on National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we honor those whose lives were forever changed that December morning and resolve to uphold the legacy of all who stepped forward in our time of need.
     From the docks of Pearl Harbor to the beaches of Normandy and far around the world, brave patriots served their country and defended the values that have sustained our Nation since its founding. They went to war for liberty and sacrificed more than most of us will ever know; they chased victory and defeated fascism, turning adversaries into allies and writing a new chapter in our history. Through their service and unparalleled devotion, they inspired a generation with their refusal to give in despite overwhelming odds. And as we reflect on the profound debt of gratitude we owe them for the freedoms we cherish, we are reminded of the everlasting responsibilities we have to one another and to our country.
     In memory of all who lost their lives on December 7, 1941 -- and those who responded by leaving their homes for the battlefields -- we must ensure the sacrifices they made in the name of liberty and democracy were not made in vain. On this solemn anniversary, there can be no higher tribute to these American patriots than forging a united commitment to honor our troops and veterans, give them the support and care they deserve, and carry on their work of keeping our country strong and free.
     The Congress, by Public Law 103-308, as amended, has designated December 7 of each year as "National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day."
     NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 7, 2016, as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. I encourage all Americans to observe this solemn day of remembrance and to honor our military, past and present, with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I urge all Federal agencies and interested organizations, groups, and individuals to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff this December 7 in honor of those American patriots who died as a result of their service at Pearl Harbor.
     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.

Oyster project shows promise

Dr. Peter Frederick speaks about methods for helping to restore resilience to oyster reefs.

Story and Photo
By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 7, 2016 at 4:07 p.m.
The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences sent Dr. Peter Frederick to the Levy County Commission meeting Tuesday morning (Dec. 6) with happy news.

     Joined by UF IFAS Shellfish Aquaculture Multi-County Extension Agent II Leslie Sturmer, Dr. Frederick told the Levy County leaders about an $8.3 million oyster restoration project approved for Levy County waters.
     Funding for this research project comes from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Frederick said, and so this is not a tax-funded project.
     Instead, this money results as part of the compensation from a big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. And this funding does not take away from other compensatory funds that will help Florida counties from that disaster.
     This project is intended to restore a degraded chain of oyster reefs in the Big Bend area.
     The degradation of the Lone Cabbage (Oyster) Reef, Frederick said, is an example of what is happening on many offshore oyster reefs in this part of Florida.
     The University of Florida is not in the reef construction business, he said, and so this project is not a stepping stone for UF to go into that industry. UF IFAS, however, is conducting the project, and if results continue to show as they have in preliminary research, then this model may be applied to restore other oyster reefs around the state – including off of Yankeetown, Horseshoe Beach and on up the coast.
     Therefore, private interests will be able to use results from this project to consider how that may serve as a business model for reef restoration by the private sector.
     By placing lime-rock boulders in parts of this degraded reef, scientists have seen oysters growing there.
     Dr. Frederick explained that oysters prefer water that is not too salty. Due to a reduce flow of freshwater from the Suwannee River, he said, the oysters are being adversely affected.
     The reduction of freshwater flowing from the Suwannee River into the Gulf of Mexico is not just from less rainfall, he said. An increase in pivot spray irrigation of farms and the drawdown from the Jacksonville area of the water source that feeds the river, Frederick said, are two significant factors influencing the reduced freshwater flow from that river into the Gulf.
     Unfortunately, the loss of parts of the Lone Cabbage Reef also causes a loss of holding some amount of the freshwater up against the coast, Frederick said. Therefore, with the elevation of the reef dropping and the reef becoming smaller, that function of the reef is being diminished as well.
      This creates a negative loop, Frederick said, because as the reef diminishes -- so does its ability to help retain the freshwater it needs to balance the saltwater for the health of the oysters.
     The sub-strata is vital for the continuation of the reef. Once a reef become a sandbar, Frederick said, there is no coming back.
     The pilot project of the past four or five years, where the scientists placed big lime-rock boulders in patchy areas of the reef, included the use of derelict clam bags. Those bags, he said, in many cases included “lots and lots of oysters.”
     He mentioned as many as 7,000 oysters per bag.
     The result, in 18 months, he said, is that the environment goes from that sandbar scenario to a return of the oyster reef.
     The project will take about two years to construct, he said. The breakdown of the $8.3 million project shows about 53 percent of the cost going to construction. There is 22 percent going to salaries. The University of Florida is netting 15 percent for its overhead expenses. There is another 10 percent of the cost going for monitoring the project.
     The scientists foresee the project resulting in more oysters growing and retaining more freshwater next to the coast, helping more oysters to grow and repopulate.
     All of the saltmarsh on the coast near the reef will see a benefit from the improvement in freshwater retention, he said. 
     For every one acre of restored reef, he added, that leads to 160 acres of the saltmarsh benefitting.
     Dr. Frederick said “the big prize” is not construction jobs for two years.
     “The big prize is that we are adding resilience to our coast system in the face of reduced freshwater flow, climate change and sea level rise,” he said. “Remember that once you establish oysters, they can outgrow sea level rise. They can really outgrow sea level rise by a long shot.”
     Commercial seafood harvest and recreational seafood harvest, Frederick said, will benefit from restoring this oyster reef. Estuaries with intermediate salinities are vital to seafood for that marine life to thrive.
     “If we lose those intermediate salinities,” he said. “We are going to lose our seafood. That has been shown the world over, many times. We think this is the big prize – keeping our estuary.

Suspected child molester jailed;
Bond set at $2 million
By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 6, 2016 at 11:47 a.m.
     BRONSON --
A 53-year-old man with a Trenton address was arrested on the charge of sexual battery of a person younger than 12 years old, Levy County Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Scott Tummond said in a Tueday morning (Dec. 6) press release.

James Thomas Crowe

     Levy County Sheriff’s Office investigators arrested James Thomas Crowe on Sunday (Dec. 4), Tummond said.
     LCSO deputies responded to a complaint filed by the mother of a 5-year-old child, Tummond said.
     The mother explained that she had entrusted her children into the care of a family friend for an overnight stay on Saturday (Dec. 3), Tumond said.
     During the night, Tummond said, Crowe, who is the father of the babysitter, sexually abused the 5-year-old child. The child immediately disclosed this abuse to the mother the following morning when she picked the child up, Tummond said.
     The child was interviewed by LCSO investigators and the University of Florida’s Child Protection Team’s child forensic interviewer, Tummond said. The child gave consistent and specific information during both interviews, Tummond said. Investigators also identified a witness to the abuse who corroborated the victim’s statement, Tummond said.
     LCSO investigators interviewed Crowe. He denied ever having any sexual contact with the child and offered the child had been coached to make this statement, Tummond said; however Crowe’s statements contained multiple inconsistencies.
     Crowe was arrested and booked into the Levy County jail in lieu of a $2 million bond.

Tri-County Toys For Tots
issues critical call for help

USMC Reserve member Robin Hardee McKracken and Levy County Sheriff’s Deputy Franco Almeida stand near some of the toys they helped collect on Sunday afternoon (Dec. 4) in front of Walmart in Chiefland.

LCSO Sgt. Max Long holds a stick-horse toy as he stand next to one cruiser that was being filled with toys. People visiting Walmart in Chiefland donated a lot within a few hours, but the call for help remains strong for the Tri-County Toys For Tots program.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 5, 2016 at 12:07 a.m.
The people of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties are being called upon to dig deep and go the extra mile to help hundreds of needy children here to have toys for Christmas.

     Tri-County Area Toys For Tots Coordinator Bryan Chrisp just said late on Sunday afternoon (Dec. 4) that most of the toys have been collected from drop-off locations, but there is still a significant need for donations.
     “Toys for Tots of the Tri-County needs your help!” Chrisp said. “Toys donations this year are at a critical low. In order to fill the need of the more than 550 children that have applied to the program, we need more toys.”
     Beverly Goodman of the Tri-County Community Resource Center, which is located at 15 N. Main St. in Chiefland (on the east side of U.S. Highway 19 just north of Park Avenue) is offering a place for donations.
     Goodman said people can drop off a toy there between now and Wednesday (Dec. 7) at 5 p.m. The hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, although the office is closed for lunch daily.
     “Your help is what makes this program possible in our area,” Chrisp said. “Please help ensure the program's continued success, because every child in our area deserves a little Christmas.”

Cuban-born Williston woman
celebrates Fidel Castro’s death

Rosie Diaz Gutierrez holds the 50-year-old stuffed horse that was her only toy in Cuba.
Photo by Terry Witt © Dec. 3, 2016 at 8:37 p.m.

By Terry Witt
Senior Reporter © Dec. 3, 2016 at 8:37 p.m.
Rosie Diaz Gutierrez rejoiced on Nov. 25 when she heard Cuban President Fidel Castrol had died.

     The Williston resident lived in Cuba as a young girl when Castro imprisoned the island nation in the yoke of Communism.
     After Castro’s demise, Gutierrez was chatting with a few of her Williston friends when she was asked how she felt about the Cuban leader’s death. She vowed to celebrate with a beer. She would have puffed on a Cuban cigar if she had one.
      “He died 60 years too late,” she said. “It would have been great if the revolution had never taken hold.”
     In her bedroom, Gutierrez keeps a memento of her childhood in Cuba. The stuffed horse was her only toy when she lived in Cuba as a small child. Few toys could be found on the impoverished island nation. Food, water and electricity were rationed. Communism brought hardships.

Zoila Diaz was a dedicated mother who escaped with her family from Cuba in 1969. She never forgot Cuba but she loved her adopted homeland, the United States and worked hard to be successful.

     Her mother, Zoila Diaz, was hard worker who envisioned her children growing up free in the United States, a nation she had visited once before Castro took control of the country. She desperately wanted to move to America.

Pictured on their wedding day are Zoila Diaz and her husband Felix.

     When Rosie was 4 years old, Zoila and her husband Felix walked out of their home with their two sons and Rosie. They headed for a series of safe houses that would conceal them as they carefully made their way to the airport. Their escape took place in April of 1969.
     In the year before departure, Zoila had worked hard to secure an American visa for the family. The irony, as she well knew, was that the Cuban government wouldn’t honor the visa. Cubans were forbidden to leave the island. Zoila knew the consequences would be severe for attempting to leave the island.
      “If they found you were going to leave they would throw you in jail,” she said. “She took a big chance.”
     When they walked away from their home, the family left all their possessions and the remaining family members. Gutierrez was carried by her mother. Her younger brother, Jose Agustin, was carried by his father. Her older brother Jorge walked with his parents. The family took along jewelry to pay the safe house owners. On the final leg of the journey, the family was given a car to drive to the airport, but the vehicle caught fire along the way.
     The family hid in a ditch until a bright red and white convertible came along. The American couple in the car offered to take them to the airport.

Rosie Diaz Gutierrez' grandparents owned this farm in the rustic Cuban countryside. The Cuban government took ownership of the property and flooded most of it. What you see is this photo is the remaining portion of the farm.

     The family boarded one of the last Freedom Flights out of Cuba, an American commercial airliner destined for Miami International Airport. They weren’t allowed to take along any personal possessions. Rosie was forced to leave her beloved stuffed horse behind with family members. Zoila had been told by her brother Octavio, a student at the University of Miami, not to worry about anything. He would take care of them.
     The family arrived with a small amount of Cuban currency in their possession, equal to about $100 American currency. Later on, Gutierrez’s mother arranged for a friend to obtain the stuffed horse from the family in Cuba and fly it back to the little Rosie. Her mother paid for the woman’s air flight to bring the stuffed toy to the little girl, a tidy sum considering round trip air fares at the time were perhaps $1000.
      “The first thing I had when I came to the United States was an ice cream sandwich,” Gutierrez recalled. “And I had never seen a hamburger.”
     Octavio treated them to a meal at Burger King after the Freedom Flight. That’s where Gutierrez became acquainted with American hamburgers.

     Cuba is the land of eternal summer, an island nation of hills, mountains, valleys, jungles, farmlands, sandy beaches and deserts. Gutierrez describes the Island as a place of intense beauty contrasted against the extreme poverty of its people. When Castro assumed control it became a country of snitches. People would secretly report activities of their neighbors to gain influence with government officials.

Family members cross a river the once flowed through farm owned by the grandparents of Rosie Diaz Gutierrez.

     When Castro assumed power, Cuba lost its manufacturing plants and most of its jobs, Gutierrez said. The Communist government seized control of private farms including the 40-hectare farm of Gutierrez grandfather. One hectare is about the size of a soccer stadium.
     After seizing control of the property, the government flooded most of it and used the big lake for racing boats. Gutierrez’ grandmother refused to leave until one of her sons arrived in a boat and insisted she board the vessel. By then water was lapping at her doorstep.
     The water covered all but 8 hectares of the farm. The remaining dry acreage was under government control. The family could never claim ownership. Her grandmother, emotionally crushed by the brutal theft of her family’s land by the government fell into perpetual silence.
      “She never spoke again,” Gutierrez said. “Her heart was broken. She never said anything to anyone.”
     When Castro overthrew American backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista Zaldivar he promised to clean up the corruption and bring prosperity to the island nation, but he made false promises. He became the new dictator of Cuba, Gutierrez said. The Island lost its flourishing economy. The island had been called the Pearl of the Caribbean.
     Food was in such short supply under Castro’s regime that people were forced to make-do with less. Gutierrez said her mother’s cousin, Lele, used her two story apartment to raise a pig in one of the upstairs bedrooms. Meat was scarce and the family didn’t dare let the government know they were raising a pig for meat.
     When the time came to slaughter the pig, they tied the pig’s mouth shut to muffle the squeals. The meat gave the family protein to eat for the next couple of weeks. The joke around Havana for many years was that you would never see a dog or a cat. Meat was a precious commodity.
     Gutierrez said one her uncles owned a cattle farm but wasn’t allowed to sell or eat the cattle. When his family grew hungry, he decided to butcher one of his cows to feed them. The Cuban government learned what happened and arrested him. He was thrown into prison “and never saw the light of day again,” she said.
      “The revolution owned the cows,” she said.
     Gutierrez said her father didn’t join the Cuban Army and was put in work camps. The workers performed mostly agricultural work but sometimes rebuilt bridges and roads. He was away from his family much of the time.
      “It was a kind of forced labor thing. My mother realized the Castro’s promises had not been honored,” she said.
     Gutierrez visited Cuba three times in the 1980’s. With each visit she saw the buildings and the people declining. Her final visit was in 1986.
     Zoila Diaz and her family lived in a small town in central Cuba known as Consolacion Del Sur. She would load her children on a rickety old train once a month for the trip to Havana. Among other things, she would work on obtaining an American visa in Cuba’s capital city.
     In 1968 she learned the visa had been approved. She knew she would be heading for the United States. But her husband was in a work camp. She gave him an ultimatum. She was going to America. He could go with her. It was his choice. They left Cuba as a family.
     In the states, Gutierrez said her family members were successful. Her mother founded a restaurant opposite the Orange Bowl. Her brother Octavio operates one of the most successful real estate companies in Miami, Mid Town Realty.
     But the desire to bring other family members to the states was never far from her mother’s mind. When the Mariel Boatlift occurred in 1980, Zoila chartered a 42- foot fishing boat to pick up a second brother and his family in Cuba. Octavio piloted the boat.
     When the time came to board, the son her brother, who was military age was pulled off the boat. His parents stayed with him. Two other family members made the trip to Miami. Those who couldn’t go to the states later immigrated to Costa Rica.
     Zoila’s brother Octavio told of a “wall of people” waiting to get off the island during the Mariel Boatlift. Many dived in the water and swam to boats. Octavio wound up with 120 people on his boat. He feared they would be swamped on the way to Miami. He was badly overloaded. They safely reached Miami.
     While it’s true Castro emptied his prisons and mental institutions for the Mariel Boatlift, Gutierrez said there were a lot of good people who came to the states for a better life during the massive exodus from Cuba.
     Gutierrez became a United States citizen between 1979 and 1981. Her mother also became an American citizen as did the other members of her family.
     She appreciates the great sacrifices made by her mother and the dangers she faced bringing her family to the Miami area.
      “The reason my mother left Cuba was her family. Everything she owned was left in Cuba,” Gutierrez said.

Harry Connick Jr.
Sends A Note To Trenton Performers

The Trenton Elementary School drama group is performing Harry Connick Jr.'s "The Happy Elf" tonight (Saturday, Dec. 3) at 7 p.m. at Trenton Elementary School in the cafetorium. On Thursday (Dec. 1), Play Director Rebekah Manbeck and Gilchrist County Drama Program Head Krista Perryman received an envelope. Upon opening it, they were overjoyed to find a handwritten note from Harry Connick Jr. himself wishing the performers luck on the show. 'We were beyond words! We are a tiny school district that has grown this program leaps and bounds.' Perryman noted that to receive this recognition from a musical genius such as this artist was an honor.

Here is the text of the handwritten note:
Dear Trenton Drama Teachers -
Hi! Thanks so much for doing "The Happy Elf" - I wish I could be there for a performance... I know y'all will kill it! Break a leg!
Published Dec. 3, 2016 at 9:17 a.m. on the Home Page of
Information and Photos Provided by Krista Perryman

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Eighty-Third Jingle Performer

The newest person to sing the Jingle is Krista Campbell. Here she performs her own version of the Jingle on Dec. 4, 2016. While some performers slightly modify the jingle, this singer instantly added to the song. This was a one-take session in front of Dixie Music Center just before the start of the Annual Christmas Music Festival at that esteemed store for music in Old Town. Campbell has been performing for several months at The Putnam Lodge – Hotel And Spa of Dixie County (which is also the home of Dixie Paintball). Krista Campbell performs every Thursday and Friday at that wonderful place in northern Cross City (or Shamrock, depending on one’s perspective of geographic names). She sang and played guitar at the festival on Sunday, Dec. 4 in Old Town, as she does in Cross City and elsewhere. Each performer or set of performers brings his or her, or their (when it is two or more performers) own special something to 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!)
Published Dec. 5, 2016 at 6:57 a.m
-- Video by Jeff M. Hardison, © All Rights Reserved

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SATURDAY  DEC. 10  7:27 a.m.
Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties

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