Brotherhood Riders
ride bicycles through
Levy and Dixie counties

This still shot and other still shots were taken northwest of Bronson on U.S. Alt. 27, before the turn leading to the Levy County Sheriff’s Office.
Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © July 27, 2016 @ 9:47 a.m., All Rights Reserved
     FLORIDA --
An impressive group of bicyclists riding from South Florida to Fort Walton Beach passed through Levy County and Dixie County on Tuesday (July 26), and they stayed overnight in Perry (Taylor County), according to their stated route plan.

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     The Brotherhood Ride 2016 – Cycling For Fallen Heroes, Candy Morse noted in a press release, is dedicated to five Fallen Heroes from Florida and one Fallen Hero from Georgia, who died in the line of duty in 2015.

This video was made standing on the driveway across the street (Hathaway Avenue {U.S. Alt. 27}) from Bronson Lube.
     “Our team of 30 riders and 15 support members will honor them by cycling through the state of Florida in seven days, covering over 600 miles and averaging 80 to 100 miles a day.
     The ride began on July 23 in North Naples, Morse said.

Levy County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Max Long drives an LCSO SUV as he leads the group on U.S. Alt. 27.

Another LCSO vehicle follows Sgt. Long's lead.

     There are stops planned for Arcadia, Lakeland, Ocala, Perry, Carrabelle, Panama City and the riders are slated to end their sojourn in Fort Walton Beach on July 29, Morse said.
     The Brotherhood Ride organization consists of firefighters, police officers and EMS personnel who ride bicycles to honor emergency first responders who died in the line of duty.
     Their mission is to provide emotional and financial support to the families on or near the anniversary of their death.
     The Brotherhood Ride continues the tradition of honor, dedication and pride, Morse said.
     During the past eight years, this group has honored the memory and sacrifice of a total of 505 emergency first responders, which includes firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical personnel.
     “Our team has traveled on bicycles over 7,100 miles, through 16 states, have been hosted by over 40 Elks Lodges nationwide and assisted by countless emergency first responders who have shown the true meaning of Brotherhood,” Morse said. “Through year-round fundraising efforts, the Brotherhood Ride has been able to honor the memory of fallen heroes and provide emotional and financial support to their families.



Vehicles from Estero, Bronson Fire Rescue and the Florida Forestry Service were among those in this part of the very long ride.

     The 2016 Ride will be dedicated to six fallen heroes. EOW is the abbreviation for End of Watch, which is a designation for the time when the officer died. For a firefighter it is Last Alarm.
* Deputy Sheriff William Myers Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office
- E.O.W.  Sept. 22, 2015
* Police Officer Jared Forsyth Ocala Police Department
- E.O.W.  April 6, 2015
* Lieutenant Randy Parker Macon-Bibb County (Georgia) Fire Department
- Last Alarm Feb. 11, 2015
* K9 Igor Kissimmee Police Department
- E.O.W.  April 21, 2015
* K9 Jimmy Hialeah Police Department
- E.O.W. May 27, 2015
* K9 Hector Hialeah Police Department
- E.O.W. May 27, 2015
Rider and Support Participation Information:
• Florida Fire Departments (23)
• Florida Police Departments (six)
• Texas Fire Departments (two)
• Massachusetts Fire Departments (two)
• Colorado Fire Department (one)
• Connecticut Police Departments (three)
• New York Police Departments (one)
• German Fire Department (one)
• Civilians with support (six)
     To help support the loved ones who are left behind; they rely on donations, support, and sponsorship as the sole means of obtaining their goal, Morse said.
     This year’s proceeds will benefit the families of the fallen heroes. To help the Brotherhood Ride reach their goal, people may visit the website to make a donation, purchase t-shirts or contact them if they want more information on becoming a sponsor, Morse said.

Chief Harrell accepts
Levy County offer;

Gilchrist County potentially cuts
two of four new truck requests
from fire department

Gilchrist County Fire Rescue Chief Mitch Harrell tells the Gilchrist County Commission why he sees a need for replacing certain equipment as he addresses the five-member group on Thursday afternoon (July 21) at a budget workshop. Earlier that morning, he had confirmed with Levy County Coordinator Freddie Moody that he would accept the offer to be the next director of the Levy County Department of Public Safety, Moody said on Friday morning (July 22). Chief Harrell will be taking his new office on Sept. 1, and between now and then he will be meeting with LCDPS staff and other stakeholders.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © July 21, 2016 @ 11:17 p.m.
Updated July 22, 2016 @ 8:57 a.m.
     TRENTON –
Gilchrist County Fire Rescue Chief James M. “Mitch” Harrell has accepted the offer to be the next director of the Levy County Public Safety Department, Levy County Coordinator Freddie Moody said on Friday morning (July 22).

     Harrell was the second chief ranked by the Levy County Board of County Commissioners, with which county staff negotiated an agreement for employment. Williston Fire Chief Lamar Stegall was the first choice, but those two parties did not reach a mutual agreement for WFR Chief Stegall to become LCDPS Chief Stegall.
     Therefore, as of Sept. 1, the man who will become former GCFR Chief Harrell will then become LCDPS Chief Harrell.
     Moody said Harrell requested and received permission to give Gilchrist County a 30-day notice of his intent to switch counties before starting in Levy County. By Thursday evening, Harrell had spoken with Gilchrist County interests in regard to his acceptance of the Levy County offer.
     Moody said Levy, Gilchrist and Dixie counties all have an excellent working relationship in regard to fire-rescue matters.
     Harrell said he is thankful for the opportunities provided to him in Gilchrist County, however it is in the best interest of him and his family to accept the Levy County post. The future chief of LCDPS said he is happy and ready to start his service to people in that capacity.

Gilchrist County Commission Vice Chairman Kenrick Thomas (left) and County Commissioner D. Ray Harrison Jr. interact with the county's fire chief during a budget workshop on Thursday (July 21).

Gilchrist County Commission Chairman Todd Gray, and commissioners Sharon Langford and Marion Poitevint listen to the fire chief for their county's fire department.

     The Gilchrist County Board of County Commissioners are working on the budget for the coming year, and they met in Trenton on Thursday afternoon (July 21).
     Commissioners in Dixie County and Levy County are going through the same arduous annual effort as their Gilchrist County counterparts.
     Elected leaders throughout the Tri-County Area seek to determine the best place to spend money to provide services and not burden taxpayers more than needed with increased property taxes or higher special assessments.
     During the Thursday afternoon budget workshop, Gilchrist County Fire Chief Harrell spoke with County Commission Chairman Todd Gray and Vice Chairman Kenrick Thomas, Commissioner D. Ray Harrison Jr., Commissioner Sharon Langford and Commissioner Marion Poitevint, as well as with Gilchrist County Clerk Todd Newton, Finance Director Richard Romans and County Administrator Bobby Crosby.
     During part of the discussion about possible expenditures for the coming fiscal year – which starts Oct. 1, Chief Harrell explained the lifespan of breathing apparatus, as well as how he wants to keep a uniform set of equipment. Firefighters are safer if they know the breathing equipment they will be using at a fire scene.
     Switching from one style to the next is ill advised, he indicated.
     For 40 new sets of breathing equipment, the cost would be about $300,000, he said. There are currently 40 older units being used by the volunteer and paid firefighters. These current units are working, but there will be a time when replacements are the only option.
     After some more discussion, commissioners chose against adding that estimated $300,000 expense to the tentative budget for the coming fiscal year, or even to finance it for more than one year.
     Harrell had requested a $285,000 new tanker truck for the fire department. There is a need for a new Ford F-150 and two F-450 brush trucks, too, he said.
     Chairman Gray, after a lengthy discussion, said he believes adding the tanker with a 10-year financing plan, and adding one of the brush trucks with a low-end estimated cost of $100,000 is all the county can do in that regard this year, because of available funds. The pickup truck, one of the brush trucks and the complete set of replacement breathing apparatus must wait for now, Gray said.
     Commissioner Harrison agreed with Gray, and while the other three members did not voice much endorsement for that at the workshop, there appeared to be consensus to move in that direction as the budget will become more formalized in the coming weeks.
     There are currently four brush trucks in Gilchrist County, with one at each station. If the County Commission purchases one, as was indicated at the most recent budget workshop, then it will be a replacement truck.
     As for the tanker, Harrell reminded the County Commission members that insurance rates for business and residential property owners are affected by the amount of water available to extinguish fires. Removing a tanker from the fleet and not replacing it can cost insurance customers more.
     Chief Harrell mentioned that other than these five high cost expenditures, given all of the vehicles and other equipment are properly serviced and maintained, he foresees no other expensive demands from the fire department on the county budget for the next five to 10 years.

Youth To Perform Oliver!

Suwannee Valley Players (SVP) presents Oliver!, Lionel Bart’s musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic tale of an orphan who runs away from the orphanage and joins a group of boys trained to be pickpockets by an elderly mentor. This is the SVP's children’s summer workshop production. Show dates are Friday through Sunday (July 22-24 and 29-31). Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m. Sunday, the children are on stage at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors, students and military with ID. Please call Becky Gill at 352-443-9096 to reserve a seat. People who have tickets will not want to arrive any later than at least 15 minutes before the start of the play. People without tickets, who are buying at the box office, will want to arrive at least 30 minutes before the curtain goes up. These may be sold out performances, so the best bet is to call Becky Gill and get a seat reserved now. Above is a recent photo of the Oliver! cast. The production is at the Chief Theater, which is in downtown Chiefland on Park Avenue, just east of Main Street (U.S. Highway 19). The performers seen above are (from left in the background) Sami Johnson-Streit, Ryan Tedin, Jenevieve Squires, Nelson Crawford, and (clockwise around table from bottom) Katie Hodge (as Oliver), Elijah Ridgeway, Wednesday Wright, Audrey Van Dyke, Jenna Walbaum, Alexis Lipscomb, Laci Acevedo (not seen), Jacob Walbaum, Zachary Harmon, and Lacey Harmon.
Published on the Home Page of on July 20, 2016 @ 11:47 a.m.

Photo and Information Provided by SVP Secretary Stephanie Crawford

Sinkhole detection
causes traffic issue

SR 345 lane closures
started July 19

Project planned for two weeks
Published on July 18 @ 10:37 p.m.
on the Home Page of
     LAKE CITY --
The Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) announced late Monday afternoon that it will be conducting a roadway repair project, beginning tomorrow (July 19) on State Road 345, just south of Chiefland.

     Results of a recent study revealed a sinkhole underneath the roadway. Foundation Professionals of Florida, A Cal Tech Company out of Lake City, was hired to complete the work, according to DOT spokesman Troy Roberts.
     Crews will begin grouting to fill in the voids below the road, Roberts said.
     Crews will begin on the eastbound shoulder before working their way to the westbound shoulder, Roberts said.
     During the two-week project, motorists should expect lane closures on County Road 345. The road will not be shut down, as only one lane of travel will be closed at a time, Roberts said.
     Motorists should expect delays, Roberts added, and all drivers are advised to find alternative routes if possible.

Davis faces Higginbotham
for Dixie County commissioner

By Jeff M. Hardison © July 16, 2016 @ 6:47 p.m.
In the race for Dixie County Commission District 1, it is incumbent Wade "Gene" Higginbotham versus Micah Jon Davis.

     Higginbotham said he feels has done a good job during the past eight years as a county commissioner in Dixie County, working very hard at it.

Gene Higginbotham

     The 59-year-old man said his record stands on its own as a reason for people to reelect him again. The county commissioner said that although he is listed as the District 1 representative for people, he works for everyone in the county and has helped people all over Dixie County.


     Davis, 42, said he has considered seeking office as a county commissioner since he was in his twenties.

Micah Jon Davis

     “I’m going to work for the people full-time for four years,” Davis said.
     The candidate said he plans to get things done all the time, not just during election periods. Among his top priority is to do what he can as a county commissioner to strengthen existing business interests in Dixie County and to attract new enterprises to the area.
     Another important focus for the man seeking to become a county commissioner is to work on infrastructure. The biggest thing as a building block for business, he said, is having a strong infrastructure.
     Davis said this will involve long-range planning, starting with the taking of inventory and the prioritization of the greatest needs.
     Davis said he believes the people want to see someone respond to their requests, and he intends to listen to the people.
     Building now, he said, and planning for future growth are his ideas for going into the future.

Chuck Clemons courts
Dixie County voters

Candidate Chuck Clemons prepares to quickly visit with possible voters during a free lunch event in a Cross City park on Friday afternoon (July 15).

Story and Photo © July 16, 2016 @ 10:17 a.m.
By Jeff M. Hardison
     CROSS CITY --
One of the three Republican Party candidates seeking election to the Florida House of Representatives District 21 seat was at a hot dog lunch in Cross City on Friday (July 15).

     So far, he appears to be the most visible runner in that race to show up in Dixie County.
     Chuck Clemons (R-Newberry) was the single candidate at the Dixie County Chamber of Commerce's business showcase (Business Expo) and fly-in earlier this year at the Cross City Airport, and he again appeared at the park in Cross City with his wife Jane Clemons and grandson Christian Zika.
     The Friday afternoon outdoor picnic lunch gathering at the city park behind the courthouse in Cross City was sponsored by an agricultural interest in the area.
     Among his campaign promises, Clemons pledges to promote agriculture.
     He mentions that he grew up on a poultry farm in High Springs as a child. Clemons notes that he is a fourth-generation Floridian, whose ancestors lived in Florida before it became a state in 1847, and his family is still here.
     There was possibly a fundraiser in Fanning Springs for Clemons at the agricultural pavilion in the Levy County part of that the city of Fanning Springs on Friday night, but Clemons did not mention that in an interview on the spot at the Cross City park earlier that day.
     Rep. Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) is currently the District 21 member of the Florida House of Representatives. However, rather than seek reelection, Perry is seeking election to one of the new Florida Senate districts -- District 8, which came into existence with the redrawing of boundary lines for the state senate.
     Democrat Rod Smith of Gainesville is the only other candidate running for that senate seat. Dixie County voters will not be deciding the Perry-Smith contest.
     Dixie County is in the new state Senate District 5. The unopposed candidate in the race for Florida Senate District 5 is Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island). Sen.-elect Bradley visited the Dixie County Rotary Club recently.
     City Manager Gary Pinner approached Clemons at the park on Friday, and Pinner mentioned that State Rep. Perry had established an office at City Hall in Cross City. Clemons was relatively non-committal to a question posed when he was asked by the press if he would have an office in Cross City, where constituents could meet with him or staff on any regular basis. He stressed instead that first he must win in November.
     Even before November, though, Clemons must beat Wenda Lewis and Tim Rogers, who are the other two competing Republicans in that race for Florida House of Representatives District 21.
     That Republican primary race will be decided by registered Republican Party voters in Florida House District 21, from Dixie County, Gilchrist County and western Alachua County on Aug. 30.
     While Clemons was the sole contender for attention at the Cross City Airport event, Lewis was the only candidate at the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Annual Chili Cookoff earlier in the year. Rogers has not been on the radar enough yet in Gilchrist or Dixie County to be seen by
     Ryan Thomas Dyson and Richard Allen Swilley are write-in candidates in this race Florida House of Representatives District 21, and they, too, are relatively invisible so far in the places they hope to be elected to represent.
     Marihelen Wheeler (D-Gainesville) is the only Democrat in this race. And while she already has cleared the Aug. 30 primary hurdle, Wheeler, also is the only candidate smart enough to send information for people to read about her campaign in -- the strongest media outlet in Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties.
      Florida House District 21 includes all of Dixie County, Gilchrist County and part of western Alachua County.
     As for Clemons on Friday, he said that since Dixie County will have only one representative in the Florida House of Representatives, in contrast with Dade County, which has "a bus load" of representatives, the man or woman representing Dixie County in the House knows that he or she must represent all of the people in this county.
     Clemons said the people of this House district should vote for him because he has conservative values. Clemons said he values faith, family, hard work and veterans. Clemons dislikes government handouts, he added.

Sheriff candidate jailed by judge;
Christopher Cambron gets five days
By Jeff M. Hardison © July 13, 2016 @ 4:47 p.m.
One of the two candidates for Dixie County sheriff has gone off the rails again, according to records, and this time a judge put the man in jail for contempt of court.

     Dixie County Sheriff candidate Christopher Cambron has been ordered to serve five days in jail for contempt of court as of a Wednesday (July 13) event, according to records.

Christopher Cambron

Dixie County Sheriff Dewey H. Hatcher Sr. is the incumbent and he is seeking reelection, according to records. Only Cambron and Hatcher are in this race, which will be decided Aug. 30 if Cambron remains qualified and chooses to continue running.
      Cambron’s criminal and civil cases began in April of this year when he and his wife Brenda Cambron were arrested in regard to their alleged involvement in the purchase of marijuana, according to records. Since that time, both Mr. and Mrs. Cambron have a criminal case pending against them and two other civil cases, one of which involves the Florida Department of Children and Families, according to records.
     On April 15, Dixie County Judge Jennifer Ellison was made aware of various video postings on the Internet in which Christopher Cambron made threats of violence against public officials.
     Due to these published threats, Judge Ellison entered an order against Christopher Cambron that requires him to contact the Dixie County Sheriff’s Office and make arrangements for a security escort into the Dixie County Courthouse whenever he visits the building, according to records.
     Today (Wednesday, July 13), Cambron entered the Dixie County Courthouse and went into Courtroom A, where his wife was located, according to records.
     At that time, Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Mark E. Feagle asked whether Christopher Cambron had made the DCSO’s bailiffs aware of his presence in the building, according to records.
     After Circuit Court Judge Feagle learned that Cambron had failed to follow the court order that had been issued against him, Judge Feagle ordered that Cambron be taken into custody and held for five days for contempt of court, according to records.

Qualifying looms in
three races for
Fanning Springs City Council

By Jeff M. Hardison © July 13, 2016 @ 8:37 a.m.
Three non-partisan seats on the Fanning Springs City Council are up for election and the time to qualify to run in that election is fast approaching.

     The incumbents in those seats now (as well as their seat numbers) follow: City Councilman (Seat #1) Tommy Darus; City Councilwoman (Seat #2) Jane Nogaki; and City Council Chairman Paul Chase (Seat #5).
     The chairman title does not automatically go with the Seat 5 position and the election is open to all people regardless of race, gender, sexual preference, marital status, age (as long as they are old enough to be a registered voter), etc.; however the person must be a registered voter and he or she must live in the city.
     Qualifying will be from noon on Aug. 8 until noon on Aug. 12,Fanning Springs City Clerk Sheila Watson said during the July 12 regular Fanning Springs City Council meeting.
     Watson is the supervisor of elections for municipal elections in Fanning Springs. Voters come from both Levy and Gilchrist counties, because this city’s boundary goes into both of those counties.
     If more than two people run for one seat, Watson explained, then there will be a primary election on Oct. 4 – at which time the field for that seat will be narrowed to two candidates.
     The election for those three Fanning Springs City Council seats is scheduled to be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 8, which is the same day for the general election for President of the United States, for various Florida offices, and Levy County (for some Fanning Springs residents) and Gilchrist County (for some Fanning Springs residents) offices.
     Of course, Dixie County elections are the same day, but Fanning Springs voters are not qualified to cast ballots in those races.


Seventy-Eighth Jingle Singer;

Search Continues For New Talent

The newest singer to perform the jingle is Jay Aggabao of Clearwater, singing here in the Quality Inn of Tarpon Springs on Sunday, July 24, 2016. Each performer or set of performers brings his or her, or their (when it is a group) own special something to the jingle. (In fact, famous star of screen and stage, multiple award-winning banjo-player Mark Johnson even played the jingle on the banjo - Clawgrass Style - with no singing!) 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!) There are currently no more videos completed and scheduled for playing. Therefore, the intrepid, prolific and illustrious, multiple award-winning professional journalist is seeking more jingle singers.
Published July 24, 2016 @ 2:07 p.m.

-- Video by Jeff M. Hardison, All Rights Reserved

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