AutoZone shifts into ‘hire’ gear
for new Ocala distribution center

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Aug. 17, 2017 at 8:47 p.m.
     OCALA –
AutoZone is seeking a dozen Distribution Center Advisors for its new distribution center in Ocala.

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     CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion will hold a hiring event on Wednesday, Aug. 23 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the College of Central Florida’s Klein Conference Center in Ocala. The all-day event will include on-site interviews.
     Frank Calascione, business development manager for CareerSource CLM, said AutoZone plans to hire supervisors first then recruit the rest of their staff.
      The DC Advisor leads the day-to-day operations for specific departments during various shifts at the new center. The Advisor assists the Distribution Center Manager with leading company initiatives and ensuring maximum productivity, training and retaining high-performing AutoZoners.
      The ideal candidate will exceed customers’ expectations by delivering what AutoZone refers to as “WOW! Customer Service.” Applicants must be 21 or older and have a high school diploma or equivalent.  In addition, three-to-five year’s supervisory experience is required and at least one year of relevant warehouse experience is preferred.
     The employer conducts drug tests and background checks.
     While walk-ins are welcome, interested applicants must register with (job order number 10533721).
     For more information, call 800-434-5627, ext. 4206.


Fuel Inspections Protect Consumers

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regularly conducts inspections of the petroleum distribution system and analyzes samples of petroleum products to ensure that Florida consumers are getting the amount they pay for and the quality they expect. Gasoline, alternative fuels (E85, biodiesel, ethanol, etc.), kerosene, diesel, fuel oil, antifreeze products and brake fluid products are routinely tested and must meet strict standards. The state's employees inspect retail gas stations across Florida, making sure that fuel dispensers are working safely and properly. They investigate fraud and price-gouging to protect consumers and ensure they get their money's worth at the gas pump. Here an inspector is seen recently at a gasoline retail outlet in the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties.

Photo by Jeff M. Hardison © Aug. 13, 2017 at 2:27 p.m.


Proposed millage rates shared
in Levy County

By Jeff M. Hardison © Aug. 10, 2017 at 9:07 a.m.
     BRONSON –
Levy County Property Appraiser Osborn “Oz” Barker shared a sheet of information with the Levy County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on Tuesday morning (Aug. 8) to show them the proposed millage rates from the various taxing authorities within the county.

     The paper shows the various taxing authorities such as “Bronson” for the Town Council of Bronson, “Chiefland” for the Chiefland City Commission, “County” for the BOCC. “WT” is for water in the two different water management districts of Levy County – the Southwest Florida Water Management District and the Suwannee River Water Management District.
     The current millage is what the property owner pays now.
     The rollback millage is the amount of millage required to be imposed to equal the same tax revenue from the appraised taxable value of property for the coming taxing period in comparison with the current year’s appraised taxable value. The value of property went up overall in the county. Therefore, it takes fewer mills to generate the same ad revenue from property taxes. However, it generally costs more to fund the next year's budget.
     The proposed millage is what the different tax-imposing groups have stated as the maximum millage they have proposed to impose.
     Barker said Truth In Millage (TRIM) notices are scheduled to be mailed on Aug. 18. Members of taxing authorities, such as the Levy County School Board, the BOCC, various city councils and the like may expect their phones to start ringing after that time, he said.
     For the property owner who believes the Levy County Property Appraiser’s Office has placed too high of an appraised taxable value on their property, Barker said they have until Aug. 18 to file a Value Adjustment Board petition.

Levy County employees’
health insurance rate hikes
leads to grievance filed by union

By Jeff M. Hardison © Aug. 10, 2017 at 12:27 a.m.
     BRONSON –
Sally Ann Collins, a staunch Levy County Republican, took time Tuesday morning to try to shine more light on the adopted changes for county workers’ health insurance payments.

     Some county workers are seeing a $4,000 to $5,000 reduced net annual income, despite “raises” to offset the hundreds of percentage points in increased costs to those employees for health insurance. The County Commission this year shifted a lot of the burden to employees -- even beyond the increase in rates by the insurance company.
     The hardest hit appears to be employees who have family members on their insurance plans.
     Collins said she missed that budget meeting when this insurance rate hike for employees was discussed and approved.
     Some of the employees find this “totally intolerable,” Collins said she believes after speaking with some county workers.
     Another speaker on this issue Tuesday morning was Jeremiah Tattersall, who is with the North Central Florida Central Labor Council.
     This council represents AFL-CIO- affiliated unions in the 12-County North Central Florida area, Tattersall said, including Levy, Gilchrist, Dixie, Alachua, Marion and Putnam counties.
     While unions practice democratic ideals, Tattersall let the County Commission know there are many Republicans in the unions, including the union members in Levy County.
     He said the decisions made by the County Commission in regard to raises and health insurance was imposed upon the workers rather than having reached this point after going through the negotiation process.
     Even if all of the discussions and negotiations ended with the same result that has come to be by a 4-0 County Commission vote, at least the two parties – management and labor – would have gone through the democratic process to reach the conclusion, he said.
     He urges the County Commission to go to the workers and speak with them about the insurance proposal, and to listen to their concerns. Tattersall spoke as if there could be some hope for this adopted plan to somehow be undone.
     Chairman John Meeks said County Attorney Anne Brown advised the commissioners to not comment about the matter, because the commission is in negotiations with the unions.
     Katy Yanok, president of IAFF Local 4069, said the union started negotiations with County Administrator's Office on June 12, with the first session for negotiating with the Public Safety Department director and the Human Resources director on July 21.
     A grievance has been filed, Yanok said. Levy County Public Safety Director Mitch Harrell will be dealing with this relatively soon, she said, and then the matter may go to the county coordinator.
     Linda Cooper said that it appears the county attorney failed to notice contract violations when the County Commission chose to arbitrarily revise the health insurance benefit requirements for county employees.
     Cooper asked why the commissioners were not warned of the probability of this issue of contract violations by the county attorney.
     “Now we have to pay for outside counsel,” Cooper said. “Now we have to deal with grievances – unhappy employees.”
     Chairman Meeks said that until the County Commission sees the grievance, it cannot react. He added that every time there were contract negotiations with unions, Levy County has hired outside counsel.
     Brown mentioned that outside legal counsel was used with Levy County’s labor unions – rather than using the county attorney – even before she was appointed to the job of county attorney. Brown is not a labor law specialist, she said, and when she was hired this was made abundantly clear to the County Commission at that time by her.
     Chairman Meeks said the County Commission has conducted its budgetary duties this year as it has every year, as he responded to Cooper’s accusation that it looks as if the county had failed to use due care in regard to being fair with its employees in creating this year’s budget, which begins Oct. 1.

Cattle industry leaders honored

Seen here are (from left) 2008-09 Florida Cattlemen's Association (FCA) President Robert 'Bo' Hobby, County Commissioner Rock Meeks, 2011-12 FCA President Donald J. 'Don' Quincey Jr., County Commission Chairman John Meeks, 2017-18 FCA President Ken D. Griner, County Commissioner Mike Joyner and County Commissioner Lilly Rooks.
County Commissioner Matt Brooks was absent Tuesday.
Story and Photo
By Jeff M. Hardison © Aug. 9, 2017 at 3:07 p.m.
     BRONSON –
Two past and one present Florida Cattlemen’s Association (FCA) presidents were honored Tuesday morning (Aug. 8) at the regular meeting of the Levy County Board of County Commissioners.

     The County Commission gave plaques to 2008-09 FCA President Robert “Bo” Hobby, 2011-12 FCA President Donald J. “Don” Quincey Jr. and 2017-18 FCA President Ken D. Griner.
     Before the plaque presentation, County Commission Chairman John Meeks said these three men are excellent role models for young people today.
     Chairman Meeks said he is thankful to County Commissioner Mike Joyner bringing it to his attention after the election of Griner this year, that there are three FCA presidents from Levy County.
     Commissioner Joyner said he is proud and happy to know these three men who have done so much for the county, for the youth of Levy County and for their neighbors.
     These men not only perform the duties necessary as cattle ranchers, but they serve on boards in the community as well to help people. Levy County is the only small county in Florida that Joyner could find where there were three FCA presidents over the years.
     Some of the bigger counties might have three past FCA presidents, Joyner said, but Levy County is the only small county to hold this distinction.
     He said it is an honor to have these three gentlemen present for the meeting on Tuesday.

FHP to host an
After-Hours Career Fair
this Thursday (Aug. 10)

Published Aug. 8, 2017 at 10:27 p.m.
     LAKE CITY –
The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is actively recruiting across the state and will be hosting an After-Hours Career Fair for individuals interested in pursuing a career with the FHP, on Thursday (Aug. 10) at the Lake City FHP Station.

     This career fair will assist candidates to understand pay and benefits, the application process, as well as learn where open positions are currently available in North Central Florida.
     This includes open positions in counties such as Alachua, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Marion and Suwannee.
     The minimum qualifications to join the FHP are as follows:
     • United States Citizen;
     • High School graduate or equivalent;
     • Minimum of 19 years old at time of application (no maximum age restriction);
     • Valid driver license; and
     • One of the following – one year of law enforcement experience (sworn or non-sworn); two years of public contact experience; two years of active continuous U.S. military service with an honorable discharge; completed 30 semester or 45-quarter hours of college credit from an accredited college or university. Florida Certified Law Enforcement Officers are also encouraged to attend to learn about the accelerated programs available that shortens the hiring process.
     Location and date of Career Fair:
     Thursday (Aug. 10) from 3 p.m.- until 7 p.m. at the Lake City FHP Station, 1350 U.S. Highway 90 West in Lake City.
     Interested applicants with additional questions may contact our local FHP Recruiter, Trooper Michael Cagle at 386-754-6284. Additional information can be found at:
     The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles provides highway safety and security through excellence in service, education and enforcement. The Department is leading the way to a safer Florida through the efficient and professional execution of its core mission: the issuance of driver licenses, vehicle tags and titles and operation of the Florida Highway Patrol. To learn more about DHSMV and the services offered, visit

Website averages
1.2 million hits
each month in 2017

By Jeff M. Hardison © Aug. 7, 2017 at 7:37 a.m.
     THE WORLD --
During the first seven months of 2017, the daily news website of has averaged 1.2 million hits a month. This is the best monthly average in the first seven years of the website's existence.

     This is one measure of traffic on the site as recorded by two independent, third-party automated computer traffic-registering programs -- Google Analytics and cPanel.
     Jeff Hardison, publisher and owner of, 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 as being the best return on investment for advertising is nice to see as well,” Hardison said.
     In July, there were more than 1.2 million hits on the website, according to the two independent monitoring programs.
     The numbers for July 2017 are shown in the graphic below:

     Hardison, a multiple award-winning daily and weekly newspaper writer and editor, and now a publisher and daily news website owner, said he is pleased to see the results from this past month.
     Following are the figures from two independent robotic programs for July of 2017.

     The first gauge reflects Unique Visitors. 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.

July 2017 – 15,717

     The number of visits is as it says. This is the number of times that these visitors came to pages.
July 2017 – 37,969

     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.
July 2017 – 125,634

     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.
July 2017 – 1,207,941

     “These figures show the people each day who use this website 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.” 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. 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. 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 the 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. The newest addition 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 and click on it. If you see any video you want to watch, click on it.

ADVERTISEMENT KEEPS IT GOING is visible for free to anyone who can see pages on the Internet. Therefore, people all over the world – and in the International 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" is the best daily news site that covers Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties.
     "If you know of any business that advertises with us, please let them know that you appreciate them supporting this daily news website," Hardison said. "If you happen to notice a business owner that does not advertise with now, please ask them to do so. Thank you readers, viewers and listeners."

Mestizo Foods hiring event
is planned for Aug. 16

New snack food company is
gearing up to take over Golden Flake site

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Aug. 2, 2017 at 10:27 p.m.
     OCALA –
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion is chipping in to help a new snack food company open operations at the old Golden Flake factory in Ocala.

     The Colorado-based company, Mestizo Foods LLC, plans to fill-70-80 positions ranging from production line and facilities to skilled machine operators and accounting.
     A hiring event is set for Wednesday, Aug. 16, at the Webber Center on the campus of the College of Central Florida in Ocala. It takes place from 9 a.m. to noon and will include information about the company from Mestizo’s managers, candidate pre-screening and ability for those interested to apply for positions.
     There is no charge to attend and no appointment is necessary, but attendees are urged to save time by completing a full registration in advance through Employ Florida at Interested candidates will be able to view job descriptions and apply online at Employ Florida prior to the hiring event.
     For more information about the Mestizo Foods hiring event call 800-746-9950 or visit


August is
National Water Quality Month

North Central Florida is famous for its crystal clear springs, like Madison Blue Hole seen here.

Photo provided by SRWMD

By Katelyn Potter, Communications Director
Suwannee River Water Management District
Published Aug. 2, 2017 at 3:07 p.m.
     LIVE OAK –
The Suwannee River Water Management District (District) celebrates water conservation, protection and cleanliness every month, but especially throughout the month of August, which is National Water Quality Month.

     The purpose of National Water Quality Month is to raise awareness of the challenges facing this area’s water bodies and encourage citizens to take action to protect water resources.
     “Water quality protection is a core tenant of our mission and our staff are dedicated to combatting threats to water quality,” said Hugh Thomas, Executive Director for the District. “Protection of our springs, rivers and lakes is paramount to continuing our way of life in North Florida. Ensuring the sustainability of these resources for future generations is not a job we take for granted.”
     With a team of environmental scientists, hydrologists and engineers dedicated to water quality, the District regularly monitors the health of area water resources and combats threats to water bodies. Additionally, the District recently established the Agriculture and Environmental Projects team who actively work with agricultural and industrial operations, along with communities within the District, to implement best management practices (BMP) that conserve water and nutrients.
     The biggest challenge facing water quality in the District is the presence of high nutrient concentrations. Excess phosphorous and nitrogen concentrations can create outbreaks of algae, making it hard for some native aquatic ecosystems to thrive. High phosphorous and nitrogen concentrations can be caused by poor industrial wastewater management, leaching from fields with inefficient fertilizer and pesticide applications, and poorly maintained sewage and septic tanks.
     During National Water Quality Month, it is important to take responsibility for your impact on the environment. Every resident plays a role in the condition of our water resources. Working together, even small lifestyle changes can lead to a healthier water supply in the area.
     Here are some recommended practices:
     ● Do not use antibacterial soaps or antibacterial cleaning products.
     ● Do not flush medications down a toilet or drain.
     ● Do not put any materials besides water in a storm drain.
     ● Promptly fix oil leaks from vehicles.
     ● Avoid or lower your use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
     ● Pick up after your pet.
     ● Pick up trash in the environment.
     ● Volunteer to clean up a local waterway.
     ● Implement best management practices in your agricultural operation and home lawn management.
     ● Manage the cleanliness of personal wells.
     For more information about National Water Quality Month or general conservation practices, please contact the District at 386-688-7182 or visit

FRIDAY Aug. 18  6:17 a.m.
Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties

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