One of the 24 riders who were narrowed to the final six of the short round (or short go) exits from a bull on Friday night (Aug. 22) at the fundraiser held at Carter's Crossroads Arena (at the intersection of State Road 345 and Levy County Road 347). One of three brave bullfighters (in pink) (the guys who distract bulls so the riders can escape with a bit more safety) prepares to draw the bull away on Friday. Phase Two of this fundraiser for an injured bull-rider is set for Saturday night starting at 7:30 p.m. COMING SOON: Full coverage with the complete story, more photos and videos from the Friday night action. Please check the Community Calendar for more on Saturday's event. Photo by Jeff M. Hardison
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Attorney hosts political meet and greet event; Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam and State Rep. Keith Perry spotlighted State Rep. Keith Perry (left) speaks with Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam (center) and Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert D. 'Bobby' Schultz III on Wednesday afternoon during a meet and greet event hosted by Attorney Lindsey Lander of Gilchrist County.
Rep. Keith Perry (left) speaks with attorney Lindsey Lander.
The event was attended by many people, including Gilchrist County Republican State Committeeman David Biddle, who is also the chair of the 13-county Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) for this district; Gilchrist County Republican State Committeewoman Betty Ramey; Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert D. “Bobby” Schultz III; Gilchrist County Commissioner D. Ray Harrison Jr.; GCSO Lt. Jeff Manning; Gilchrist County Superintendent of Schools Rob Rankin; Gilchrist County School Board member Michelle Walker Crawford; Dixie County Judge candidate Jennifer Ellison; Levy County Commissioner Chad Johnson and his wife Angela Quincey Johnson; and Joe and Sue Lander, Lindsey Lander’s mother and father. Putnam and Lindsey Lander were state officers in 4-H at the same time many years ago, with Putnam being in Polk County and Lander being in Gilchrist County. The attorney had many hors d'oeuvres for all of the guests. Everyone enjoyed socializing with each other. Biddle said the Republican Party has become very strong in Gilchrist County. Four of the five county commissioners are Republicans. Four of the five School Board members are registered as Republicans, although that post is non-partisan. Four out of the six county constitutional officers are Republicans, Biddle said. The local Republican state committeeman said voters consistently pull for the Republican candidates. He foresees Perry taking the majority of votes in the race with Jon Uman, a Democrat seeking the District 21 Florida House of Representatives seat currently held by Perry. As for Putnam, Biddle sees Gilchrist County strongly favoring him in the race against Thaddeus “Thad” Hamilton, a Democrat seeking the post. Biddle is predicting Gilchrist County as having a majority of voters choosing to re-elect Gov. Rick Scott in the race with Charlie Crist, the Democrat who some presume will be a sure win over Nan Rich in the primary election on Aug. 26. As for meeting candidates Putnam and Perry, the gentlemen were easy to approach. Presented with an opportunity to share any message with readers and viewers of HardisonInk.com, here is what the two men said. PUTNAM In his first term, Commissioner of Agriculture Putnam focused on getting Florida’s water policy right, because it is important for agriculture, important for rural Florida and important for the whole state, he said. “If you get into water wars,” Putnam said, “ag loses first, and ag loses the most. Rural communities lose the most, because the urban areas just overpower us. So, we are trying to find the right balance in water policy that will allow us to have a vibrant ag industry; continue to support jobs; continue to attract 100 million people who like to visit our state every year, and enjoy our wonderful environment – whether it’s springs, or rivers or Lake Okeechobee.” Putnam said the Florida Department of Agriculture in his first term put more of what Florida grows into Florida’s schools. “It’s pretty embarrassing to serve Brazilian orange juice in the Florida school system,” Putnam said. “We worked hard to improve that. We grow 300 different things in Florida that your mother would be proud for you to eat. And kids like the vast majority of them. They like citrus. They like blueberries. They like sweet corn. They like peaches. They like peanuts. They like watermelon.” His administration focused on bringing locally grown products into the school system, he said, by connecting with school boards’ purchasing programs. Putnam said he wants to continue resisting the federal government’s attempts to take over the state’s water policies, which he said is being attempted through a program called “Waters of the United States.” This is an aspect of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that has to do with the Clean Water Act. Another vital aspect of the state he seeks to continue to help involves school curriculum. “We want to continue to make sure that 4H and FFA are important parts of our communities and our school system,” Putnam said, “cultivating the next generation of leaders for our state.” One program has been expanded where agriculture teachers and science teachers are selected from around the state, Putnam said, and they participate in an ag leadership program where they tour the state and see the different types of agriculture in Florida. “It reminds them that it’s not ‘Old MacDonald’s Farm.’ It’s a high-tech, highly skilled, good-paying career that needs a well-trained workforce,” Putnam said. “And those teachers are in a better position to convey that to their students now more than before that leadership program started.” Putnam said Florida agriculture is doing well. Timber prices are up. Beef prices are up. Most row crops are showing good prices now, although peanut prices are down this season, he said. And corn prices are probably going to slip. “All-in all,” Putnam concluded, “the resilience and the optimism of the American farmer is strong. It’s important to me as a fifth generation Floridian that we keep that perspective on the Florida Cabinet. Florida is a diverse state, and our small communities need a voice.” PERRY Rep. Perry said he believes “This is a critical time historically with government’s role in our lives.” “As Americans,” Perry said, “we see other countries embrace our heritage.” However at the same time, he sees a top-down structuring of government, where the federal government is becoming stronger. Perry said people need to not look at the political party. When voters look at a candidate, they need to see what the person believes. As for government, it is not moral, Perry said. It is either amoral or immoral, but government is not moral. “If the United States wants to remain a leader,” Perry said, “then the people have to return to our heritage. There has to be more freedom for the individuals.”
Hope springs for future water conservation
Levy County Commissioner Chad Johnson (left) and Deputy County Clerk Sheila Rees (sitting in for County Clerk Danny Shipp) listen as SRWMD Executive Director Ann Shortelle tells about the water management district's accomplishments.
A long line of pivot irrigation provides water to a huge crop of peanuts in Levy County.
Johnson said sometimes people may mistakenly think of agricultural pivots as being a source of water waste, when they are a conservation method. The improvement from the former “walking guns” of giant water sprinklers, Johnson said, is significant. Pivot irrigation is more precise and efficient, he said. Farmers are served by not wasting more electricity on pumps running than needs to be used to make healthy crops. He noted that farmers are aware of diminishing returns from over-irrigation due to the cost to return on investment. Beyond that, he mentioned that people who water their lawns may not be paying as close attention to water consumption. Shortelle said the SRWMD plans to continue the cost-share program for pivot irrigation across the district in the near future. Shortelle said she foresees technology in the future so that a farmer will be able to remotely control his or her crops’ irrigation, and that there will be monitors of soil mosisture levels to help him or her decide “can I skip that rotation today” of the irrigation. With rain falling in isolated places, a farmer may not realize he is irrigating during a rainstorm, and this technology may help save those growers that expense when it is not needed. The SRWMD may help farmers in the future to obtain technology that gauges rainfall and soil moisture levels, and can be checked remotely, and provide for irrigation to be turned on or off from a distance. Shortelle provided the County Commission with an extensive report of the SRWMD’s State of the Resource. Water levels are generally at or above normal ranges due to a good period of rain. All of the springs in the multicounty area are at prime levels and she recommends go to the state and county parks to enjoy this resource for relaxation and recreation.
Helpful Farmer Kelby Sanchez looks at peanuts taken from a field farmed by B.J. Wilkerson. To see how Sanchez is helping Wilkerson while the farmers were at a peanut clinic in Levy County on Monday (Aug. 18), please go to the BUSINESS PAGE.
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