Williston plans for the future

Williston Planning Department Administrative Assistant Latricia Wright created the punch. She used a recipe that her sister-in-law Verda Jackson applied during her term years ago as the food service manager at Lake-Sumter Community College. The recipe is one-third each of Hawaiian Punch, Sprite and pineapple juice.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Sept. 23, 2017 at 10:37 p.m.
The city of Williston is at the forefront of revising its comprehensive growth management plan, and Williston City Planner Josie Lodder, Allison Megrath and Dr. Lynn Patterson want every single resident to know that public engagement in the process is paramount to success.

More Below This Ad

More Below This Ad

     The kick-off two-hour meeting on Thursday night (Sept. 7) showed a couple of dozen people heard that call to help amend the foundation for planning, zoning and managed growth within the four corners of this municipality.

This cake reflects an invention with Williston roots. PhotoFrost is edible icing that creates the frosting from a photograph. Williston Mayor R. Gerald Hethcoat mentioned that this nationally famous icing was founded as a company that still exists in Williston.

Allison D. Megrath, AICP, speaks to people about the importance of updating the current comprehensive plan for Williston. Seated in the background is Lynn M. Patterson, PhD.

Lynn M. Patterson explains about the benefit of working on the economic development element of the plan that will form the foundation for Williston’s future zoning.

Williston City Planner Josie Lodder holds the bag with the special gift card donated by Drummond Community Bank.

     A comprehensive plan should reflect what the people want Williston to be like, all of the planners and consultants agree.
     Megrath, who is the president of Megrath Consulting of Gainesville, said that she and Patterson, who is a principal at Three Points Planning of Decatur, Ga., are ready to create the comprehensive plan that will be unique for Williston. Megrath, Patterson and Lodder, though, are not going to do this on their own.
     The more input that comes from the people of Williston, the better the comprehensive plan will reflect what the people want.
     Do the people want more business? Do the people want bigger arterial roads to handle increased truck traffic? The sets of questions are as many as the people want.
     The planners and consultants have limited the plan to 11 elements:
     * Economic Development
     * Future Land Use
     * Transportation
     * Infrastructure
     * Housing
     * Conservation 
     * Recreation and Open Space
     * Intergovernmental Coordination
     * Capital Improvements
     * Public Participation, Monitoring and Evaluation
     * Concurrency Management
     During the meeting Thursday night, the people present penciled in another element – preservation of historic places (including business and residential structures). And while each comp plan is unique to each city or other political subdivision, this element did not meet a timeline for inclusion.
     The concepts behind the request were heard and will be acted upon during the process; however it is not likely to become the 12th element.
     Williston has received a technical assistance grant from the Florida Department of Economic Development which allows the city to have the expert professional services of Megrath.
     Williston received a second grant from Competitive Florida to allow the city to utilize Dr. Patterson’s expertise to help the city develop an economic development plan, which is where Dr. Patterson is the key person.
     Everyone in the city, though, can be a part of this process.
     This particular kickoff event included door prizes for everyone and a special door prize for one recipient. Those gift bags were a courtesy provided by Drummond Community Bank to help the city have an incentive for people to participate.
     Fresh fruits, cheeses, a special cake, coffee, tea and homemade punch were offered before the start of the meeting as people socialized at the outset.
     Megrath and Patterson helped people understand that each element of the plan will have goals, objectives and policies.
     Members of the audience heard there will be several opportunities for everyone to participate in this yearlong process.
     This work is anticipated to be generally complete by July 1, 2018, Megrath said. After this point, the state will review the work and it will be returned to the city in the fall of 2018 if all goes as is hoped, Megrath said.
     People who were present for the meeting placed green and blue dots on each of the 11 elements to show what they saw as opportunities and what they saw as challenges. This initial ranking is not the end-all and be-all for the process. It is a starting point from the relatively small number of people providing input without a lot of thought or discussion for those couple of hours on that one night.

DCF hiring 200 temps to help
with emergency
Food for Florida program

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Sept. 22, 2017 at 1:07 p.m.
     OCALA –
As a result of Hurricane Irma, the Florida Department of Children and Families is hiring 200 temporary workers for the Ocala call center to support the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

     CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion and Manpower have teamed up to help DCF identify and recruit candidates during a three-day hiring event September 27-29 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at CareerSource CLM’s career center, 2703 NE 14th St., in Ocala.
     Data entry clerks will process Food for Florida emergency food assistance applications for five weeks, six days a week. Full and part-time positions are available. Pay is $12 an hour.
     Applicants do not need to have a high school diploma or GED but data entry experience is required. The successful candidate must also pass a level 2 criminal background check.
     Interested candidates must register at www.employflorida.com prior to attending the hiring event. Complete job details are also available at Employ Florida (Job Order 10555031).
     For more information, call 352-840-5700, ext. 1790 or 800-434-JOBS (5627).


Construction job fair,
preparation workshop on tap
in Citrus County on Oct. 7

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Sept. 22, 2017 at 1:07 p.m.
     OCALA –
Career seekers interested in the construction industry have two upcoming opportunities to start building a future.
     CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion has partnered with the Citrus County Builders Association and Withlacoochee Technical College to present a construction job fair on Saturday, Oct. 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  at Withlacoochee Technical College, 1201 W. Main St., in Inverness. This event will allow career seekers interested in the construction industry to meet with members of the CCBA about job openings, career paths and more.
     Those interested in attending the construction job fair also have an opportunity to brush up on their resume, interview skills and more at a job fair prep workshop on Tuesday, Oct. 3 from 10 to 11 a.m.  at the CCBA, 1196 S. Lecanto Hwy., in Lecanto.
     Preregistration is not required for the construction job fair or preparation workshop. There is no charge to attend either event. Attendees are urged to save time by completing a full registration in advance through Employ Florida at www.employflorida.com.
     For additional information, please call Business Development Manager Jordan Steelfox at 800-434-5627, ext. 3206.
     Construction industry employers, both members and nonmembers of the builders association, interested in taking part, may register at www.citrusbuilders.com or call 352-746-9028.

Levy County FFA students
learn farm safety practices

Bronson FFA Advisor Marcia Smith introduces her guest speakers for the event and explains the importance practicing farm safety.

Story and Photos
By Terry Witt, Senior Reporter © Sept. 20, 2017 at 10:47 p.m.

     BRONSON -- Every three days, a child dies in an agriculture-related incident.

     The death rate for children in agriculture was released in 2016 by the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety.
     Every day, 33 children are injured in agriculture-related incidents, according to the same fact sheet.
     The death and injury rate for children involved in agriculture gave rise to the inaugural Levy FFA Agriculture Safety Day Tuesday (Sept. 20) in Bronson. The event brought about 100 FFA students to the Levy County Extension Office. It will become an annual event.

County Coordinator Wilbur Dean speaks to FFA students about the importance of farm safety. He recalled when his son was accidentally run over by a tractor.

Harrison Love, farm manager for Rode Ground Covers near Williston speaks to FFA students about the importance of handling farm chemicals safely.

Bronson Fire Department officers educate students about fire safety and the equipment they use for fighting fires.

     Students were educated on ways to prevent farm accidents. They were taught the importance of rollover bars on tractors and how to avoid being pulled into a rotating power take-off shaft on a tractor. Rotating PTO’s can be deadly.
     They were shown farm chemicals and the safety equipment used by licensed professionals when applying the chemicals to farm crops. The Bronson Fire Department instructed students on the equipment firefighters use to battle fires or to extract people from wrecked vehicles.
     County Coordinator Wilbur Dean was the featured speaker. Students then separated in groups to visit six educational safety stations.
     Dean told students the horror he experienced 20 years ago when he accidentally ran over his son with a tractor.
     Dean said his younger brother and his son, who was about 7 years old at the time, stopped by one day while he was working in the field on a tractor. They wanted a couple of watermelons. He invited them to climb aboard the tractor. He said that was his first mistake. His father, a farmer, always told him only one person rides on a tractor. That person is the driver.
     At some point Dean said his younger brother wanted to get off. He was focused on his brother and didn’t know his young son had stepped off the tractor too. The tractor rolled forward pinning the 7-year-old beneath the wheel. Only his head was spared from the crushing weight of the tractor wheel.
     Dean said he was horrified when saw his son trapped beneath the tractor wheel.  He backed the tractor off his son and rushed the boy to the hospital. His son survived and is healthy today.
      “The fear and the realization I had made a mistake by not following the rules; it just takes that one second when you take your eyes off the rules that something happens,” Dean said as his voice broke with emotion. “It will bring cold chills when I think about it.”
     Agriculture professionals today are strongly encouraged to follow safety rules.
     Harrison Love, who manages the Rode Ground Covers farm near Williston, told students he doesn’t put up with any nonsense when it comes to following safety procedures on the farm.
      “If I see you ignoring the safety rules, I’ll mail your last check,” Love said.
     He showed students agriculture chemicals commonly used in farming and the equipment that must be used for the harshest chemicals with red labels and yellow labels. Red label chemicals are for restricted use. Yellow labels are for commercial use. Green labels are chemicals available to the public.
     One of the more eye-opening presentations for students at a different station was the tractor safety video. FFA teachers played one video where a stuffed dummy was sucked into a rotating power take off shaft. The dummy instantly became wrapped around the shaft. The unspoken lesson was that the same thing could happen to them if loose clothing became entangled in the shaft.
     Marcia Smith, one of the FFA advisors at the event, said she remembers reading about one incident in Progressive Farmer in the 1980s where a ninth grade boy was riding on the fender of his Dad’s tractor with an agricultural mower attached. At one point the father swept away a tree branch, but the branch recoiled and knocked his son into the mower.
      “He was in pieces all over the farm,” Smith said.
     Smith said she doesn’t know how much the young FFA students absorbed at safety day, but she hopes they will remember the lessons learned and avoid mistakes that could lead to injury or death when they are adults.
     The 2016 fact sheet concerning childhood agricultural injuries in the U.S. noted that there is no central database on childhood agricultural injuries.
      “This fact sheet draws from the best available data,” it said.

Businesses asked to identify
Hurricane Irma damage;

Survey to help
with disaster relief efforts

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Sept. 18, 2017 at 4:17 p.m.
     OCALA --
Businesses damaged by Hurricane Irma in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region are encouraged to complete a Business Damage Assessment survey.

     The survey will help the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) identify needs and the extent of assistance for impacted businesses.
     The information will be shared among various state and local agencies to expedite appropriate disaster relief programs for businesses if it is determined that relief services for businesses should be activated. 
     To take the survey, go to http://bit.ly/BusinessDamageSurvey . Be sure to select “Hurricane Irma” from the event/incident drop down menu.
     For more information, visit the Florida Virtual Business Emergency Operations Center at http://flvbeoc.org/.

Region’s labor force grows,
jobless rate drops to 5.1 percent

By CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Communications Manager Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Published Sept. 15, 2017 at 3:37 p.m.
     OCALA --
The region’s labor force grew both over the month in August and over the year due to the one-two punch of more jobs and fewer people looking for work.

     The jobless rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 5.1 percent last month, down over July by 0.3 percentage point and 1.2 percent less than the rate a year ago of 6.3 percent.
     The labor force was 200,114, up 336 over the month and 2,028 more than in August 2016. There were 10,223 unemployed residents in the region, down 403 since July and 2,196 fewer than a year ago. There are 189,981 residents with jobs in the region, an increase of 739 over the month and 4,224 more than a year ago.
     “The labor force can deliver both good or not-so-good news, depending on what fuels the numbers,” said Kathleen Woodring, CareerSource CLM’s executive vice president. “It can grow, and we’ve certainly seen that happen, when the number of people out of work outpaces growth in the number of employed. But today what we see is that, over the year, there is solid labor force growth in our region because more people are working and fewer are unemployed.”
     According to today’s release of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s (DEO) monthly employment summary, Levy County continued to hold the region’s lowest jobless rate at 4.5 percent, followed by Marion County at 4.9 percent – both down 0.2 percentage point – and Citrus County dropped by 0.3 percentage point to 5.9 percent. Florida’s unemployment rate, not seasonally adjusted, dropped 0.2 percentage point to 4.2 percent and the national rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 4.5 percent. 
     Woodring said the drop in the August jobless rate is consistent with trends for the area over the past several years. Historically, regardless of the state of the economy, unemployment spikes in July and rebounds by September or October.
     In August, nonfarm employment in the Ocala metropolitan area was 103,000, an increase of 2,100 (+2.1 percent) over the year and 900 more jobs than in July. The nonfarm employment in the Homosassa Springs MSA was 32,900, a decrease of 200 jobs over the year but an increase of 800 jobs over the month.
     DEO’s preliminary data for the area’s three counties shows that in August, Citrus County's labor force expanded over the month by 510 to 47,423, the number of employed increased by 636 to 44,620 and the number of those without jobs fell by 126 to 2,803. That is 220 more employed and 576 fewer unemployed compared to August 2016 when the jobless rate was 7.1 percent.
     Levy County's labor force grew by 134 to 16,774, the number of employed rose by 160 to 16,022 and the number of unemployed dropped by 26 to 752. That’s 305 more employed and 144 fewer unemployed than a year ago when the jobless rate was 5.4 percent.
     Marion County was the only county in the region to see its labor force shrink over the month. The labor force fell by 308 to 135,917 and the number of employed decreased by 57 to 129,249 while the number of jobless dropped by 251 to 6,668.      However, the labor force grew over the year by 2,223, the number of employed increased by 3,699 and the number of unemployed dropped by 1,447. The unemployment rate was 6.1 percent in August 2016. 
     Among the counties, Citrus County fell from third to fifth highest unemployment rate, Marion County tied with Miami-Dade County for the 13th highest rate; and Levy County tied with Madison County dropping to 27th.
     The Homosassa Springs metropolitan statistical area (Citrus County) continues to hold the second highest unemployment rate among Florida’s metros, behind The Villages MSA, while the Ocala MSA continues to hold at fifth. 
     In the Ocala MSA, industries gaining jobs over the year, and growing faster in the metro area than statewide, were mining, logging and construction (+700 jobs for a 10 percent job growth rate, the fifth fastest in the state); “other services” (+200 jobs for a 6.5 percent increase); manufacturing (+400 jobs for a 5.1 percent job growth rate, the sixth fastest among all Florida metros); and education and health services (+600 jobs for a 3.3 percent increase).
     Other industries gaining over the year were trade, transportation and utilities (+100 jobs); professional and business services (+100 jobs); and leisure and hospitality (+100 jobs).
     The information industry lost 100 jobs and financial activities and government industries were unchanged over the year.
     The September employment report will be released on Friday, Oct. 20.

FAA works with Florida
drone operators to speed
hurricane recovery

Information and photo from the FAA
Published Sept. 15, 2017 at 3:37 p.m.
     WASHINGTON, D.C.  --
After the widespread devastation Hurricane Irma wreaked on Florida last weekend, unmanned aircraft – more popularly known as drones – have been invaluable in supporting response and recovery efforts in the battered Sunshine State.
     When Irma’s winds and floodwaters damaged homes, businesses, roadways and industries, a wide variety of agencies sought Federal Aviation Administration authorization to fly drones in the affected areas. The FAA responded quickly, issuing a total of 132 airspace authorizations as of today to ensure the drones can operate safely.
     For example, the Air National Guard used drones normally tasked for combat operations to perform aerial surveys. The drones allow the Guard to assess disaster-stricken areas quickly and decide which are the most in need of assistance. Similarly, U.S. Customs and Border Protection sent drones from Corpus Christi to Florida to help map areas in Key West, Miami and Jacksonville, using radar to survey geographic points on infrastructure such as power plants for The Federal Emergency Management Agency.
     The private sector is playing its part as well. For instance, Airbus Aerial, the commercial drone services division of Airbus, is helping insurance companies act more quickly on claims coming in from homeowners. The company is combining data from drones, manned aircraft and satellite data to give a clearer overall image of specific locations before and after an incident.
     Irma left approximately 6 million Floridians without electric power as temperatures remained in the mid-80s, so bringing the power grid back up is critical. In the northern part of the state, Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) is using drones to assist not only with power restoration, but also to ensure the safety of its crews. JEA said it was able to get all its damage assessments done within 24 hours after the storm passed through.
     Drones also have played a significant role in helping Florida Power and Light (FPL) restore electricity – especially air conditioning – for its 4.4 million customers. The company has 49 drone teams out surveying parts of the state still not accessible by vehicles. Some of the drone operators FPL hired were flying within an hour after the storm winds subsided.
     FPL cited the recovery effort as a stellar example of cooperation by local, state and federal authorities, including kudos for the FAA.
     The search and recovery effort in Florida followed all too soon on the heels of similar operations in the Houston area, where drones played a vital role as well. The FAA issued 137 authorizations, sometimes within a few hours, to drone operators performing search and rescue missions and assessing damage to roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure. In addition to the direct response and recovery efforts, several media outlets flew drones over Houston to provide coverage to local residents and the world about flooding and damage in the area.
     The FAA’s ability to quickly authorize unmanned aircraft operations after both Irma and Harvey was especially critical because most local airports were either closed or dedicated to emergency relief flights, and the fuel supply was low. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta neatly summed up the importance of drone operations to Irma and Harvey recovery operations in a speech to the InterDrone conference last week:
     “Essentially, every drone that flew meant that a traditional aircraft was not putting an additional strain on an already fragile system. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the hurricane response will be looked back upon as a landmark in the evolution of drone usage in this country.”
     The FAA is also helping with another key part of the Irma recovery by moving a second mobile air traffic tower from Connecticut to Key West, FL to provide a safe, sheltered environment for air traffic controllers to manage relief traffic at the airport. Earlier this week, the FAA shipped another mobile tower to storm-battered St. Thomas by air to support controllers there. The tower for Key West is scheduled to leave Connecticut today on a truck and arrive in Key West in the next few days.

AutoZone Hiring
Events Delayed

Published Sept. 14, 2017 at 3:27 p.m.
     OCALA --
the AutoZone Hiring Events rescheduled for Monday, Sept. 18 and Tuesday, Sept. 19 have been postponed due to Hurricane Irma’s continuing impacts.
      New dates are pending with hopes of rescheduling for later this month or possible October. For information, those interested should call 800-434-JOBS (5627).

Post Hurricane Irma services,
Disaster unemployment relief
By CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Communications Manager Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC

Published Sept. 14, 2017 at 12:27 p.m.
     OCALA --
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion’s career center in Lecanto remains closed due to power issues caused by Hurricane Irma. CareerSource CLM’s two mobile resource units will provide limited services Friday, Sept. 15, at the College of Central Florida’s Citrus County campus, 3100 S. Lecanto Highway, in Lecanto.

     The mobile units will be available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
     All CareerSource CLM offices in Levy and Marion counties are now open.
     For more information about CareerSource CLM services, call 800-434-JOBS (5627).

     Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is available to businesses and residents in Citrus and Marion counties whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted as a result of Hurricane Irma.
     The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is currently accepting applications for DUA from residents and businesses in the 37 counties designated as disaster areas.
     Individuals in affected counties have until Oct. 13 to file DUA applications.
     DUA is available from weeks of unemployment beginning Sept. 10, 2017 until March 17, 2018, as long as the individual’s unemployment continues to be a result of the disaster.
     To file a DUA claim go to http://www.floridajobs.org/ or call 1-800-385-3920.  Customer service representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. For DUA claims information call 1-800-204-2418 and choose option 2 to speak to a customer service representative.

Linemen to the rescue;
Power restoration in the Tri-County Area
may be as early as Sunday;
Jemlands gets power

Some linemen from the Mississippi Delta Area of America arrive at a Chiefland motel. These seven men work with Foreman Jerry Fuller. These workers arrived in Twin County Electric Power Association trucks. 

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Sept. 13, 2017 at 5:37 p.m.
* Updated Sept. 14, 2017 at 7:37 a.m.

     TRI-COUNTY AREA – A spokeswoman for Duke Energy said the transmission lines that company needs to repair are now repaired in Florida.


Foreman Jeremy Fuller grabs his bags as he prepares to check in on Wednesday.

     * The unrecorded subdivision known as Jemlands, in the unincorporated area of Levy County, had power restored Wednesday evening (Sept. 13) after having no electricity since Saturday night (Sept. 9).
     Duke spokeswoman Ana Gibbs said the entire Pinellas County and Pasco County area should have all Duke customers provided with electric power by Friday at midnight.
     Every other Florida county, except Highlands and Hardee counties, Gibbs said, will have Duke customers with electric service working again by Sunday at midnight.
     The Central Florida Electric Cooperative service area has experienced some damage to transmission facilities of Duke Energy that are beyond the control and ability of CFEC to mitigate, according to a statement on the CFEC Facebook page.
      Central Florida Electric Cooperative is a distribution co-op which distributes power that is generated primarily by Seminole Electric Cooperative.
     Because of the location of the CFEC service area, which includes Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, Seminole Electric Cooperative uses some third-party transmission facilities owned and operated by Duke Energy, whose distribution lines were also damaged.
     CFEC is working diligently and urgently with Duke in the areas that receive power from the Williston and Chiefland 2/Usher substations.
     Central Florida Electric Cooperative Communications Specialist Whitney Feather said CFEC is working as safely and quickly as possible to restore power to each of the members of the cooperative.
     Hurricane Irma left 78 percent of the CFEC accounts without power. CFEC has crews and telephone operators working 24-hours-a-day to serve the members, Feather said.
     In addition to their full workforce of 93 employees, CFEC has brought in in excess of 140 additional outside workers from other areas including- Alabama, Mississippi, Delaware, Maryland Arkansas and the Panhandle of Florida to aid with restoration, Feather said.
     There is more help on the way. CFEC’s outside crews are made up of right-of-way workers (including tree crews and the Florida Forest Service), groundmen and linemen, who all work together to restore power, Feather said. 
     To view an updated outage map visit CFEC.com or access the mobile app, CFEC Connect.
     To report an outage call 352-493-2511 or 1-800-227-1302 and follow the prompts. Individuals may also report an outage by visiting CFEC.com or through the app, CFEC Connect. CFEC does not take outage reports through Facebook, Feather said.
     CFEC is a not-for-profit organization that prides itself on being member-driven and is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
     Duke Energy spokeswoman Gibbs said there is a hierarchy of repair. First the electric generation plants must be working. Then transmission lines become a primary focus. After that substations feed distribution stations, both primary and secondary.
     Finally the power needs to go through working transformers across functional wires and into homes and businesses.
     PUBLISHER'S NOTE: HardisonInk.com spent extra money to continue transmitting daily news updates despite its main source of electric power being down from Saturday night (Sept. 9) until Wednesday evening (Sept. 13). 



SNAP food card holders can buy hot food
Published Sept. 12, 2017 at 6:44 p.m.
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam today thanked U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for taking action to modify the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
     “I thank Secretary Perdue for his leadership and taking action in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma to assist Floridians,” Putnam said.
     According to the USDA, the temporary waiver and other actions include the following:
     Allowing SNAP participants in Florida to buy hot foods and hot ready-to-eat foods with their benefits through Sept. 30.
     Supporting Florida’s plan to issue all September SNAP benefits on Sept. 7 and Georgia’s plan to issue all remaining benefits for September on Sept. 10; both actions will ensure families have access to their monthly benefits sooner during this time of immediate crisis.
     Supporting Puerto Rico’s action to issue all September Nutrition Assistance Program benefits on Sept. 5, before the storm.

Consumer Alert:
Managing the Post-Storm
Insurance Claims Filing Process

From The Press Office Of
Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis
Published Sept. 11, 2017 at 4:07 p.m.
Residents affected by Hurricane Irma will begin the process of surveying damage to their property and belongings.

     Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier have the following tips to help consumers as they begin the process of filing insurance claims on damaged property and belongings:
     Tip 1: Locate all applicable insurance policies. This may include a homeowners’ policy, flood policy (flood coverage is not covered under a typical homeowners’ policy and is separate coverage) and an automobile policy (may cover damage to your car from flooding).
     Tip 2: Document all damaged property and belongings. Take photos or shoot video footage before attempting any temporary repairs. When you file an insurance claim, you may be asked for visual documentation of damages. A photographic home inventory is a handy resource for this situation. A free smartphone app developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners called “MyHome Scr.APP.book” can help you take and store a room-by-room log of photos.
     Tip 3: Contact your insurance company or insurance agent as soon as possible to report damages. Insurance policies require prompt reporting of claims, so it is important to act as soon as possible.
     If you need help finding your property insurance company’s website and contact information, click HERE. For a list of licensed insurance agents in Florida, click HERE.
     Tip 4: Cover damaged areas that may be exposed to the elements in order to prevent further damage. Your insurance company may reimburse the expense of these temporary repairs, so keep all receipts. Remove water-logged and otherwise damaged items from your house to prevent the spread of mold, but document them and do not dispose of any damaged property until your insurance company adjuster has had an opportunity to survey it.
     CFO Patronis’ toll-free Insurance Consumer Helpline (1-877-693-5236) can answer business and consumer-oriented insurance-related questions. CFO Patronis has launched a Hurricane Irma Insurance Resources webpage to provide comprehensive insurance information. Access the webpage by clicking on the “Hurricane Irma” button on www.myfloridacfo.com
     The Office of Insurance Regulation also has additional storm-related materials online. Visit their website at: www.floir.com/Office/HurricaneSeason/hurricaneresourcepage.aspx.

Farmers harvest peanuts
on Labor Day

One of the many harvesting combines on Labor Day in Levy County is seen here. This one is being pulled by a John Deere Tractor. Some are self-propelled. Notice the bin of peanuts on top of the machine. That bin will be dumped into a cart, which take the peanuts to a semi-trailer and dumps then in through the open roof. The video 10-minute video below captures this 2017 action as well as some from 2011.

Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © Sept. 8, 2017 at 9:37 p.m.
Farmers are continuing to harvest peanuts in the Tri-County Area, and a set of them performed the labor required on Labor Day (Sept. 4) to fill semi-tractor trailer loads of peanuts in Levy County.

     The mandatory, recommended and voluntary evacuation orders of Friday (Sept. 8) as a result of Hurricane Irma hitting Florida are going to delay the work, probably; but if gasoline and other resources are available, peanut harvesting might resume later next week.
     In the meantime, though, reflecting back to the most recent holiday for some, there are those folks who worked on Labor Day.
     Of course, Murray Tillis, his son Harold Tillis and Murray’s nephew Jason Tillis were not the only farmers working on Labor Day – even at the acres and acres of fields just north of Levy County Road 347 and 100th Avenue Northwest.


     And so other farmers were out in the hot sun on Labor Day as is the case on occasion in Florida.
     Weather is a factor for crops, and with peanuts the harvest time weather is as tricky as the growing time. Torrential rain from hurricanes are a bother on occasion. High wind at the wrong time can devastate corn crops as it blows down the stalks.
     Peanuts are a vine above the ground with the nut in the ground. The diggers, which are also called inverters, often are guided by computerized programs using GPS signals from satellites. The mapping for the digging machines exists from the same blueprint that was used to plant the rows of peanut plants.
     The inverters pull the plants up so that the sun can dry them before the combines collect the peanuts and return the vine remnants to the top of the soil.
     The diggers travel down rows guided completely by satellites and programs. The operator of this type of tractor and digging machine does not steer it while it is going down the row. By being exact, the loss of peanuts is reduced in comparison to a farmer using line of sight to harvest row by row.
     Sometime, farmers must guide the diggers and the combines on fields, however.
     The big inverter machines have long curved metal teeth, which dig into the ground and rake out 12 rows at a time, combining them into three windrows. They are called windrows, because they are heaped for the wind and sun to help dry them.
     After a period of drying on the field, an even larger combine goes over them and collects the vine and nuts, separating the peanuts from the vine and putting the harvested produce into a hopper at the top of the combine. The combines used on Labor Day are Amadas combines.
     Some were pulled by John Deer tractors and some of those combines were self-propelled.
     After a period of time, the hopper fills up with peanuts. Then it is dumped by the use of hydraulics on that machine to a large cart, which has its own driver and a tractor. The carts move much more quickly than the harvesting combines on the field.
     These carts are pulled by tractors (John Deere was the brand in action viewed on Monday). The carts take the harvested peanuts to waiting semi-tractor trailers.
     During the operation Monday (Sept. 4), there were four Sanchez Farm trailers parked and waiting for the first batches of peanuts.
     These trailers take the harvested peanuts to places where hot air is blown across the peanuts to dry them and process them, before they are shipped to other interests.
     It is ideal to let the peanuts dry on the field to a certain point before putting them on the trailers. This helps reduce the weight for transportation, as well as the cost of the fuel used to heat and dry the nuts.

     The peanut farmers invest money in plants, fertilizer, leasing land, and in paying wages of workers, and more.
     Among the jobs of the farmer is to make sure the machines are maintained. These machines must be inspected each day before the operations begin. Every moving part must prove to be able to move correctly. As the peanuts dry during the day, combines may need adjustment, as a result of peanuts losing weight as the water evaporates.
     To know that all of the machines are operating correctly, a member of the crew goes behind them and inspects what is on the ground. If there are peanuts left, something needs to be fixed.
     Farmers have always needed to do more than just plant and harvest. And as technology and machinery have made methods for growing and harvesting more efficient, they have needed to have people to assure the mechanisms all work as they must as well as learn the new methods with machines.

Airplane Lands

These photos taken on the afternoon of Aug. 29 (a Wednesday) of an airplane landing at the Williston Municipal Airport reflects that this is one of the economic engines of the Williston area. There is an airport in Cross City (Dixie County) that helps that local economy as well. In addition to the fuel sales at the airport, there is other business activity that is conducted in the many hangars there. United States Federal Aviation Administration records show this airplane is a Ryan Navion B, with the registered owner being Jeffrey L. Davis of Canon, Georgia. The planted pine forest in the background is another economic driver in the area. Agricultural products and livestock such as peanuts, pine, corn, cattle, horses, swine, goats and sheep are important to all business interests in the area as well.

Photo by Jeff M. Hardison © Sep. 3, 2017 at 3:37 p.m.


Butterflies and cats herald
website's continued success;

Publisher calls for business owners
all over the world to advertise

In this video, butterflies flitter among some of the flowers on The Ink Pad property -- which includes The Code Orange Office, the home site for HardisonInk.com. The website is mobile, too, and able to transmit from anywhere on the globe. This video shows two butterflies launching straight up in a special butterfly dance in one part.

In this photo of HardisonInk.com mascots -- Goldy the cat Hardison (left) and Inky the cat Hardison -- the two felines are seen as they comfort each other during a severe thunderstorm on Friday (Sept. 1) when there was so much lightning hitting in the area of the unrecorded subdivision known as Jemlands that it sounded like a battlefield in a war zone. These two cats run and frolic, and play and have fun most of the time. Thunderstorms cause them to huddle together under a bed. These cats are best friends. Like their flying insect friends with big wings outdoors, the two furry critters herald the daily news website's continued success -- at least that is how the website owner interprets these cats' and butterflies' actions.

Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © Sept. 1, 2017 at 5:07 p.m.
     THE WORLD --
The daily news website that covers primarily Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties and experiences the most traffic of any media outlet from viewers and listeners continues in its seventh year with results reflecting the consistent high quality and significant quantity of stories, photos and videos.

     People around the globe continue to visit HardisonInk.com at an impressive rate, according to data provided by two independent, third-party, automated traffic-registering programs -- Google Analytics and cPanel.
     Jeff Hardison, publisher and owner of HardisonInk.com, said that first he is thankful to God for all things.
     Beyond that, he added, he is thankful for the continued growth, which shows a strong base of loyal readers, viewers and listeners as the daily news website moves forward along its sixth year of existence.
     “The private and public interests that recognize advertising in HardisonInk.com as being the best return on investment for advertising is nice to see as well,” Hardison said. “I anticipate making offers to other companies and individuals to help their businesses enjoy the benefits of advertising in my daily news website.”
     The publisher said he wants all business owners to join his effort to provide even more coverage.
     "Any business owner who wants to increase sales of their product or service should advertise on HardisonInk.com," he said. "I am not talking about just the owners in Levy, Dixie, Gilchrist, Marion, Alachua and Citrus counties. There are business owners who can sell products to consumers all over the globe via HardisonInk.com. Those million-plus hits a month are not only from North Central Florida.
     Here is the list of the countries that had computers viewing HardisonInk.com in August - from most to least: United States (the very big majority); Ukraine; Great Britain; Canada; India; France; Brazil; Russian Federation; Philippines; Romania; Portugal; Pakistan; China; Ireland; Italy; Malaysia; Australia; Germany; Japan; Poland; Turkey; Spain; Republic of Serbia; Indonesia; Argentina; South Korea: Netherlands; Israel; Mexico; South Africa; Hungary; Algeria; Belgium; Chile; Saudi Arabia; Egypt; Sweden; United Arab Emirates; Morocco; Czech Republic; Thailand; Vietnam; Austria; Croatia; Greece; Colombia; Nepal; Bangladesh; Tunisia; Singapore; Sri Lanka; Macedonia; Switzerland; Slovak Republic; Georgia; Bosnia-Herzegovina; Albania; Qatar; Venezuela; Denmark; Virgin Islands (British); Bulgaria; Kenya; Norway; Lithuania; Taiwan; Dominica; Mongolia; Mauritius; Latvia; Costa Rica; Dominican Republic; Montenegro; Senegal; New Zealand; Azerbaijan; "European country"; Uruguay; Namibia; Iran; Peru; Hong Kong; Maldives; Iceland; Malta; Finland; Panama; Jordan; Estonia: Cameroon; Cambodia; Kuwait; Cyprus; Angola; Nigeria; Luxembourg; Kyrgyzstan; Oman; Belarus; Armenia; Syria; Mozambique; Puerto Rico; Haiti; Trinidad and Tobago; Brunei Darussalam;  "Palestinian Territories"; Afghanistan; Jamaica; Gabon; El Salvador; Iraq; Tanzania; Sudan; Ghana; Seychelles; Lebanon; Nicaragua; Myanmar: Ivory Coast (Cote D'Ivoire); New Caledonia (French); Bolivia; Equatorial Guinea; Burkina Faso; Kazakhstan; Suriname; Reunion (French); Congo; Mauritania; Saint Kitts and Nevis Anguilla; Botswana; Madagascar; Ecuador; Belize; Vanuatu; Benin; Tonga; Barbados; Somalia; Ethiopia; "Unknown"; Moldova; Saint Maarten; Zimbabwe; and "Others."
     "I really get a kick out of seeing this list each month," Hardison said. "People from many of these countries I can understand visiting the site because I did serve for five years as a teacher of English to people from every continent (except Antarctica). I would rather see Australia, Germany, Colombia and Mexico higher on the list, though, for my own reasons.
      "Now, here is my shout out to the people of the planet," Hardison said. "Buy an ad or ads on HardisonInk.com and invite buyers from other countries. You knit sweaters in Lithuania. Well it is cold in Mongolia. Maybe we can bridge some gaps with international commerce via HardisonInk.com. Sell your Lithuanian sweaters in Mongolia. Drop me a line. Please remember that I speak the American version of English."
     The numbers for August 2017 are shown in the graphic below:

     Hardison, a multiple award-winning daily and weekly newspaper writer and editor, and now publisher and daily news outlet owner, said he is pleased to see more individuals visiting the site.
     The national advertisements will remain on the bottom of the pages, he said, because local advertisers are better served by being on the right side of the pages and in the body of the pages. The ads for four local Chambers of Commerce are at the bottom of the Community Page.
     Following are the figures from two independent robotic programs for August of 2017.
     The first gauge reflects Unique Visitors.
     Webopedia.com defines unique visitor as "a person who visits a Web site more than once within a specified period of time." Software used for this report can distinguish between visitors who only visit the site once and unique visitors -- who return to the site.
     The unique visitor is different from a site's hits or page views -- which are measured by the number of files that are requested from a site. Unique visitors are measured according to their unique Internet Protocol addresses, which are like online fingerprints, and unique visitors are counted only once no matter how many times they visit the site after they have visited it twice.
August 2017 – 15,440

     The number of visits is as it says. This is the number of times that these visitors came to pages.
August 2017 – 38,319

     Pages Viewed shows how many different pages the visitors looked at. This website has the Home Page, Police Page, Calendar Page, Business Page, Community Page, Life Page and the Leisure Page.
August 2017 – 125,153

     What is a “hit?” When a viewer looks at a page, there are elements on the page that register a “hit.” For instance, if there are four pictures on a page, then that may equal four “hits.” Like all of the gauges, this is a measure of traffic.
August 2017 – 1,191,438 (a million-plus hits)

     “These figures mean there are more people each day who use HardisonInk.com as a source for information,” Hardison said. “And they return daily. If your product or service is better than the competitors’ products and services, then you will have better odds of being the manufacturer, farmer or service provider of first choice in any market.”
     HardisonInk.com continues to grow in readers, viewers and listeners (yes, the videos have sound). More and more business owners and other individuals are seeing that this is the best site for Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties’ daily news.
     This website is the best medium in this market to advertise, which is proved by annual increased revenue even though the price of ads remains stable since the site’s inception.
     HardisonInk.com has the Weather Bug on the Home Page for all current weather and forecasting needs, including radar and Weather Alerts. It has columns for quilt reports, Christian devotionals and more.
     HardisonInk.com provides state news on the BUSINESS PAGE and other pages on occasion when it is merited.
     "I can't say enough about my wife Sharon Hardison," Jeff Hardison said. "She does so much for me it is incredible. One thing I need to bring people's attention to is our archive page. Go to any of the seven pages and find the ad for the archive page and click on it.
     "A new window will open." he continued. "Just go to the month you want and scroll down. If you see a link that looks interesting, click on it. This is a direct link to all of the videos that have been published. Just go to the area on the page that says CHECK OUT OUR VIDEOS ON YouTube.com and click on it. If you see any video you want to watch, click on it.
     HardisonInk.com is visible for free to anyone who can see pages on the Internet. Therefore, people all over the world – and in the space station – can view it. This site is subscription-free entirely because of our sponsors. Not only do advertisers help the people in the world (and astronauts) see Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, but those business interests enjoy the most exposure for the least dollars.
     "We don't put up winky-blinky ads or pop-ups in our local ads," Hardison said. "Our local ads don't move around by the minute. And I promote our local advertisers in other places in addition to HardisonInk.com."
      HardisonInk.com is the best daily news site that covers Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties (and beyond).

Florida Forest Service
is accepting applications for
Longleaf Pine Landowner
Incentive Program

Published Aug. 31, 2017 at 11:17 p.m.
The Florida Forest Service is accepting applications for the Longleaf Pine Landowner Incentive Program from eligible, non-industrial private forest landowners.

     The program is limited to Alachua, Bradford, Brevard, Citrus, Clay, Lake, Levy, Marion, Orange, Putnam, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties. The application period ends September 15, 2017.
     The goal of the program is to increase the acreage of healthy longleaf pine ecosystems in Florida by helping non-industrial private forest landowners make the long-term investment required to establish and maintain this valuable ecosystem.
     The program offers incentive payments for completion of timber stand improvement, invasive species control, prescribed burning, planting longleaf pine, native plant understory establishment, and mechanical underbrush treatments.
     All payments are made at per-acre or per-seeding rates. Please see the 2017 Technical Guidelines Booklet for available practices, practice requirements, and payment rates.
     Application forms and more information on program requirements and procedures can be found by visiting FloridaForestService.com or a local Florida Forest Service office. The program is supported through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation with funding from the Southern Company, USDA Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, Natural Resource Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Defense, Halliburton Company, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
     The Florida Forest Service manages more than 1 million acres of public forest land while protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres.

Festival Fundraiser Planned
For Cross City Railroad Station

Seen above, the Cross City Railroad Station sits as an abandoned, relic of the past, resting next to the Nature Coast State Trail, a Florida State Park that runs the length of a former railroad track through parts of North Florida. The website for the state park is https://www.floridastateparks.org/trail/Nature-Coast. The historic Chiefland Train Depot is a visiting point for some people who ride along the Nature Coast State Trail, when they stop at that trailhead. A festival has been scheduled to occur on Oct. 14, a Saturday, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., in downtown Cross City, across the street from the Dixie County Courthouse. This fundraising festival is generating money to restore the Cross City Train Depot. The festival promises to provide arts and crafts for show and sale. Other attractions for this event include music, a car show, fan activities for children and food and drink. The event is open to all people. The primary funding method to help restore the Cross City Train Depot is vendors renting spaces. Prices range from $20 per car to be in the car show to $100 to place a ride for children. Arts and crafts vendors can rent a 10- by 10-foot spot for $40 or a 10- by 20-foot spot for $40. Merchandise and food vendor locations are $40, $50 and $75. Payment must be received before Sept. 30. Set-up is from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on day of show. No late set-ups are allowed. No refunds are given for any reason. For more information, call Ruth Ann Lovelace at 352-498-9944 or Bev Pivacek at 352-440-0414.

Photo by Jeff M. Hardison © Aug. 27, 2017 at 9:17 a.m.

SRWMD presents PILT check
to Levy County Commission

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Aug. 23, 2017 at 7:47 p.m.
     BRONSON --
Levy County Commission Chairman John Meeks accepted a check from Suwannee River Water Management (SRWMD) District Assistant Executive Director Darrell Smith on Tuesday morning (Aug. 21) to herald an annual event that previously has been said to be at risk, because it is dependant on the Florida Legislature to continue it.

     The SRWMD pays counties for the ad valorem property taxes that are not derived from property that has become tax exempt as a consequence of the SRWMD obtaining it. These are Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT).
     On Tuesday in Bronson, the check to Levy County was for $30,401.84.

Levy County Commission Chairman John Meeks (left) accepts the check from Suwannee River Water Management (SRWMD) District Assistant Executive Director Darrell Smith.

     If all holds true as it has for the past few years, then the SRWMD will pay or has paid the Gilchrist County Commission $44,392.72.
     Likewise, Lafayette County received or will receive $76,959.21 in PILT from the SRWMD.
     The SRWMD is will make or has recently made a PILT check presentation to the Dixie County Commission, too.
   The PILT program was created by the Florida Legislature to help reduce the fiscal impact to rural counties when the state or SRWMD acquires lands.
     Since land owned by the SRWMD is tax-exempt, PILT funds offset the loss of tax revenue when the district purchases property for flood control, water quality, water supply and natural resource protection.
     The district’s PILT funding comes from the Florida Legislature. Only through legislative funding is the district able to provide PILT to its rural counties.
     The District will pay PILT funds to counties until their populations reach 150,000. The figures so far this year, match identically with those shown from last year.
     In 2016, the SRWMD paid $342,908.93 to 11 counties for PILT. Following are totals that each county received last year:
• Bradford: $15,093.45
• Columbia: $38,902.02
• Dixie: $21,647.39
• Gilchrist: $44,392.72
• Hamilton: $37,752.42
• Jefferson: $9,163.41
• Lafayette: $76,959.95
• Levy: $30,401.84
• Madison: $20,464.85
• Suwannee: $30,429.59
• Taylor: $17,701.29.
     The current SRWMD Board members are Chairman Donald J. Quincey Jr.; Vice Chairman Alphonas Alexander; Secretary/Treasurer Virginia H. Johns; and Board Members Kevin W. Brown, Gary F. Jones, Virginia Sanchez, Richard Schwab, Bradley Williams and Charles Keith.

MONDAY  Sept. 25  7:07 a.m.
Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties

 Chiefland Farmers Flea Market
Click on ads to go to websites.


Click on Ads To See Websites

Click on Ads
to Go to Websites

Click on the ad above to go to the CF website.




Please Click On The Above Ad To Go To The Archived Stories And Photos.