New Levy County Career Center
to celebrate with open house
and ribbon-cutting ceremony

Published Feb. 17, 2018 at 9:38 a.m.
     CHIEFLAND --
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion has moved its Levy County Career Center to better serve businesses and candidates, and to celebrate, there will be a grand opening and open house on Thursday, Feb. 22.

 


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    Formerly located at the Old Post Office, the new center can be found at 2175 NW 11th Dr., in the Walmart Supercenter plaza (Suwanee Plaza) off North Young Boulevard/US 98 in Chiefland.
     The Open House begins at 9 a.m. and offers the opportunity to meet staff and tour the center. An official ribbon cutting by the Chiefland Chamber of Commerce takes place at noon, followed by light refreshments.  High School seniors, who have been working with CareerSource CLM staff on resumes, are invited to stop by any time from 4-6 p.m. to learn more about hire education options; those dropping off resumes will be eligible to win a Chromebook, Echo of Echo Dot.
     “We look forward to welcoming the community to our new center,” said Cindy LeCouris, career center manager. “Our former location served us well but was somewhat off the beaten path. The new location is easy to find and smack dab in the center of a very busy plaza.”
     CareerSource CLM is the local, business-led nonprofit organization that offers fee-free services connecting businesses with qualified, skilled talent and candidates with employment and career development opportunities.  Last fiscal year, CareerSource CLM provided services to 26,000 candidates throughout the three-county area and nearly 1,800 businesses.
     The Levy County Career Center is open Monday-Friday, except holidays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
     For more information, call 352-249-3278 or 800-434-JOBS or visit https://careersourceclm.com/.


Sensitive wetlands saved
through public ownership



By Katelyn Potter, Communications Director
Suwannee River Water Management District     
Published Feb. 16, 2018 at 9:18 a.m.
     LIVE OAK --
A 160-acre tract of sensitive wetlands along the Aucilla River will be protected for years to come thanks to the dedicated efforts of public and private partners.
     Located in eastern Jefferson County, Ware Forest Tract was brought into public ownership through purchase by the Suwannee River Water Management District (District) and connects two existing parcels of District property.
     The tract contains an extensive stand of mature cypress trees which play a critical role in water quality for the Aucilla River, an Outstanding Florida Waterbody. Due to the high value of the tract’s timber, public ownership of the property has been a multiyear process that relied heavily on public and private funding and partnerships across North Florida.
      “Ware Forest is a pristine, untouched gem that the District is committed to not only maintaining, but improving over time,” said Hugh Thomas, executive director for the District. “Without the work of dedicated stakeholders such as Tall Timbers, Jefferson County residents and leadership from the District’s Governing Board, the public would not be able to enjoy this magnificent piece of property.”
     Former landowners planned to log the high-value cypress but public outcry from the small community of Ashville and Jefferson county residents prevented any logging from occurring.
“This is our home, our community. We did not move out here amongst the trees to have the trees moved,” said B.J. Nelson, president of the Ashville Area Homeowners Association and major advocate for putting Ware Forest Tract into public ownership.
     Formalized efforts to protect the tract were initiated in 2015 by the Aucilla Wacissa River Group and resulted in purchase of the property by Tom Weller, conservationist and Jefferson County resident. The land was then sold to Tall Timbers, which used conservation grants funds to support the purchase. The District then purchased the tract from Tall Timbers for just under $245,000.
      “The District is by far the best owners of the property to protect the land its water resources,” said Shane Wellendorf, conservation coordinator for Tall Timbers. “This effort was a great chance for a group of people to do a well of good.”
     The District plans to open the tract for public access in the coming months, once a management plan is established. The District owns over 160,000 acres of public lands; 97 percent of which is open to the public for recreational use. Ware Forest Tract will increase the available space for public recreation.
      “We are proud to be part of the transaction of the preservation of such an untouched, magnificent resource,” Thomas said.


Sheila Smith accepts leadership
role with Edward Jones
in downtown Newberry office


Edward Jones Branch Office Administrator Nancy Henry (left) stand next to Financial Advisor Sheila K. Smith as the ladies welcome visitors to the Edward Jones office in downtown Newberry on Thursday evening (Feb. 1). Financial Advisor Smith was most recently located in the Chiefland office of Edward Jones, and has now accepted the appointment to help people from the office based in Newberry.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 3, 2018 at 4:28 p.m.
     NEWBERRY –
Edward Jones Financial Advisor Sheila K. Smith has accepted the position as the financial advisor at the office in Newberry, 25349 W. Newberry Road (State Road 26).



Musicians Robert Mummaw (left) on drums and Jake Smith on guitar provide background music for the festive event in downtown Newberry on Thursday evening.

     Smith began her duties there recently and she hosted a get-together for clients on Thursday evening (Feb. 1).
     Located in beautiful downtown Newberry, the Edward Jones office includes her private office and an area for young children to enjoy playing with toys and coloring books.
     Nancy Henry is the branch office administrator who is assisting Smith with scheduling appointments and by performing other support staff functions.
     Smith said she remains active in the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties where she continues at her same home, church and with the Rotary Club of Gilchrist County.
     Previous clients can feel free to visit with her at the Newberry office, and Smith welcomes new clients.
     The welcoming event in the office on Thursday evening included delicious hors d'oeuvres
and drinks.
     Two members of the band named Musical Slaughter performed.
     Sheila’s and Chris’ son Jake Smith, one of six of the Smith couple’s children, played guitar and sang as fellow band member Robert Mummaw who sang and played on his drum set.
     The two young gentlemen performed a variety of pleasant songs in the background during the festive get-together.
     All of the Musical Slaughter band are also members of the Bell High School Purple Powerhouse Marching Band. The other members of Musical Slaughter are lead female vocalist Morrigan Pinkston, and on keyboard -- Ty D'mont.
     Helping people with financial matters and investing is what Sheila Smith does at the Edward Jones office in Newberry.
     To schedule an appointment with Smith, please call 352-472-2776.


Visitors wrap up
Year 7 wonderfully;

Website shows new record
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 2, 2018 at 9:08 a.m.
     THE WORLD --
The number of unique visitors looking at stories, photos and videos on HardisonInk.com reflects a wonderful wrap up to Year 7 of the daily news website as it continues its growth going into its eighth year of existence.

     Year 8 started yesterday (Thursday, Feb. 1) with coverage of a groundbreaking, a new office leader announcement and photography of a relatively serious crash scene – and all of that was after 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 1
     Once again, monthly reports show HardisonInk.com is strong, according to two independent automated traffic-registering programs -- Google Analytics and cPanel.
     There were 18,687 unique visitors in January to HardisonInk.com, according to these trusted third-party automated measuring devices.
     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 toward its eighth year of existence, which just started.
     "Let's say in regard to Year 8 and Year 7," Hardison said, "it is great and wonderful respectively."
     Not only is HardisonInk.com the best source for daily news, he said, this is also the best platform for advertising because of the traffic to the site.
     “Private and public interests recognize advertising in HardisonInk.com is the best return on investment for money spent on advertising. This is nice for me to see as well,” Hardison said. “I anticipate making offers to companies and individuals to help their businesses enjoy the benefits of advertising in my daily news website.”
     The numbers for January 2018 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 every time the monthly reports show that fact.
     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 currently are at the bottom of the Community Page.
     Following are the figures from two independent robotic programs for December of 2017.
UNIQUE VISITORS
     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.
UNIQUE VISITORS
January 2018 – 18,587 (New All-Time Monthly Record)

~
     The number of visits is as it says. This is the number of times that these visitors came to pages.
NUMBER OF VISITS
January 2018 – 39,185

~
     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.
PAGES VIEWED
January 2018 – 124,471

~
     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.
 HITS
January 2018 – 1,360,624 (almost 1.4 million 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.
~
2017 AVERAGES
And 2018 Results

     The monthly averages for the 12 months of 2017 in the four categories are shown below with a hyphen and then the first month of 2018’s results:
~
Unique Visitors 15,552 – 18,587
Number of Visits 36,179 – 39,185
Pages 120,336 -124,471
Hits 1.2 million – 1.4 million

~
CHECK OUT THE ARCHIVE
     "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 relatively new 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 THE VIDEOS."
     Videos can be viewed YouTube.com (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-O1OVdPjyfjI_PuqYrlY7Q) and click on it. If you see any video you want to watch, click on it.
ADVERTISEMENT KEEPS IT GOING
     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.
     Advertisements run in various sizes and can be on one page or all seven pages. Ad contracts run for one year. Ads can be changed monthly. Ads can be hyperlinked to other webpages so that when a person clicks on the ad it opens in another window.
     The annual prices for ads are $500, $750, $1,000, $1,500 and there is one $2,000-a-year ad space available on the Community Page.
     Call 352-493-9950 or send an email to hardisonink@gmail.com to learn more about advertising on the MOST VIEWED daily news website in the world for any form of print, broadcast or Internet-based media covering the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties (and beyond).


Third Annual Marion County
Youth Career Expos
scheduled for Feb. 13 and 14



Published Feb. 1, 2018 at 9:48 a.m.
     OCALA --
The Third Annual Marion County Youth Career Expos for middle school and high school students are set for Feb. 13 and 14 and will, for the first time, have sessions for public, private and home-schooled students.

     The expos bring together students interested in a hands-on look at career opportunities and business representatives interested in meeting and developing their future workforce. In addition, Darrell “Coach D” Andrews, world-renowned motivational speaker and strategist, will discuss “Passion Mapping: Connecting Dreams to Careers.”
     Held at the Circle Square Cultural Center, 8395 S.W. 80th St., in Ocala, there will be three separate expos.
     The first expo takes place Feb. 13 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is open to middle school students invited by their schools to attend. Students will be transported by school bus to and from the expo, which will also include a box lunch.
     The second expo is Feb. 13 from 5 to 7 p.m. It is designed for home-schooled students as well as those who attend private or parochial schools, and public schools’ students unable to attend one of the invitation-only expos. The evening expo is open also to parents and teachers.
     The third expo, for high-school students selected by their school, will be on Feb. 14 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. School transportation will be used to move students to and from the expo, and a box lunch will be provided.
     The daytime expos are broken into three sessions:
     ● Career Fair where students interact with business representatives about job opportunities and with education providers about training;
     ● Roundtables where students hear directly from industry leaders; and
     ● Motivational workshops featuring Darrell “Coach D” Andrews.
     The evening expo will feature Coach D’s presentation as well as the Career Fair. While there is no charge to participate, space is limited so those interested in attending are urged to arrive early.
     The expos are put on in partnership by CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion, the Public Education Foundation of Marion County, Marion County Public Schools, Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership, and the Mid-Florida Regional Manufacturers Association.
     Brenda Chrisman, business development officer for CareerSource CLM, said that after record attendance in 2017 it was clear that a third expo was needed.
     Last year, 800 students from every middle- and high school in the district attended – more than double the participation rate and four times as many students as in 2016.
     “At the same time we were basically at capacity attendance-wise, we saw a growing interest among young people who were not enrolled in a public school or who were not selected by their schools to take part,” Chrisman said. “We also wanted to open it up to parents, educators and businesses.”
     The Public Education Foundation of Marion County put out the call for help and AT&T answered.
     As part of its ongoing collaboration with the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations – of which PEFMC is a member – AT&T invests in programs that increase understanding of how classroom curriculum translates into careers, especially STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers.
     The youth expos showcase career opportunities in information technology, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, transportation/logistics, construction and public service and education.
     Each school develops its own eligibility criteria for inviting students to attend the expo. Students not selected, or unable to attend during the school day, are encouraged to attend the open expo in the evening on Feb. 13.
     For more information, call 352-840-5700, ext. 1115 or 800-434-JOBS, ext. 1115 or email info@careersourceclm.com. Details are also available at careersourceclm.com/pages/youth_expo.


It Is

Goldy the Cat Hardison is the senior mascot of HardisonInk.com. Here she is making her pitch to be the selector or the winner on Feb. 8. Could it be that Goldy will be that very cat? Could it be that Inky the cat Hardison will be the cat? Could it be that both Goldy and Inky will be the cats of the day? Or could it be that Needles the community cat will be the feline to decide the winner of the first contest in the theme of Let's Keep It Great At 8?

Story and Photo
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 30, 2018 at 10:57 a.m.
     THE WORLD --
The Curse of Oak Island is a television series on the Arts and Entertainment Network that covers a longtime search for treasure on an island in the Nova Scotia area of Canada.

     Promoters of the series lead with questions like "Could it be the resting place of The Holy Grail?" "Could it be" and several other interesting propositions for various forms of treasure are given.
     The searchers have found many relatively interesting artifacts that are said to be hundreds of years old.
     HardisonInk.com begins its eighth year on Feb. 1. Our first contest in the theme of "Let's Keep It Great At 8," is a contest for a $50 gift certificate to Steamer's Clam Bar and Grill.
     Steamers advertises with HardisonInk.com and Dennis Gill has again graciously agreed to help in the promotion of the website by providing this gift as a reward in a contest of skill. There is no need for players to buy anything; hence, the element of consideration has been removed for those folks who may feel some sort of concern about gambling.
     Here is how this fun game works.
     Players will look for the Hearts logo that is shown on the ad on the Life Page that tells about this game. By the way players, finding the logo in the ad for the contest is not going to score a chance to win.
     On Feb. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, that logo will be placed in an ad that is regularly seen on one or all the seven pages of HardisonInk.com.
     Here is the procedure. Find the hearts. Send an email to hardisonink@hotmail.com listing your name, a daytime telephone number to reach you, the name of the advertiser and the page it was found on.
     Here is an example -- (I created an email to hardisonink@hotmail.com). In that email, here is my notation -- "My name is Jeff M. Hardison, my daytoime phone number is 352-493-9950. I found the hearts Feb. 2 in the ad of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Levy County on the Life Page."
     Then, I send the email to hardisonink@hotmail.com. Some number of people will send their entry. Any player can play any or all of the days. There is one entry per player, per day, but the person who finds the hearts in the ads and sends in an entry each day increases their chance to be selected.
     After the contest ends, we will put in one slip of paper for each correct entry that was sent. For instance, Jeff M. Hardison found the hearts on all five days - so he will have his name on five slips of paper.
     Then we will put those slips of paper in front of either Goldy the cat Hardison, Inky the cat Hardison, or both cats; or perhaps even take the slips of paper outside to Needles the community cat for him to choose the winning name.
     In some manner, one or two cats are going to pick one piece of paper.
     Then, we will call that winner on Feb. 8 and arrange to deliver to them a $50 gift certificate to use at Steamer's Clam Bar and Grill.
     Could it be that there are going to be more contests after this one in 2018 as HardisonInk.com boosts its theme of "Let's Keep It Great At 8"?


Publisher accepts
certificate of appreciation


Jeff Hardison holds the certificate of appreciation.

Photo by Sharon Hardison © Jan. 29, 2018 at 12:07 a.m.
~
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 29, 2018 at 12:07 a.m.
     TRI-COUNTY AREA --
Jeff M. Hardison, publisher of the daily news website named HardisonInk.com, accepted a certificate of appreciation from Tri-County Toys for Tots Coordinator Bryan Chrisp earlier this month.

    Chrisp noted his appreciation for the website helping the organization reach parents and children in the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties.

     “You understand that a child who misses out on the simple joy of a toy at Christmas can easily lose hope,” Chrisp noted in a letter that accompanied the certificate. “Hope is the key to a child’s success in life, and hope is what you are helping the Marine Corps Reserve give to needy children of America through the Toys for Tots Program.”
     The publisher said he is grateful for the certificate.
     “During the past 10 years,” Hardison said, “I have helped the Toys for Tots Program in Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties to varying degrees. Before Bryan started his method, I first wrote about his predecessor and a group that performed this duty.
    “Some number of people I met back in that first coverage have gone to Heaven,” Hardison said. “I remember writing about the first motorcycle ride as a fundraiser back then, and I know the man who started that action died in a crash on State Road 345 some years ago.”
     Hardison said there are many annual events in the Tri-County Area that are good for the community. He is glad to help people learn about them and participate in them.


Duke Energy Florida customers
are spared from rate increase
for Hurricane Irma and
$513-million in storm costs

By Writers at the Duke Energy News Center
Published Jan. 24, 2018 at 9:47 a.m.

     ST. PETERSBURG -- Duke Energy Florida today (Wednesday, Jan. 24) announced that its customers will directly benefit from the new federal tax law and avoid a rate increase for power restoration costs associated with the company's response to last September's Hurricane Irma.
   Instead of increasing customer rates, the company plans to apply federal tax reform savings toward those storm costs.
     On Dec. 28, 2017, the company had filed for a rate increase with the Florida Public Services Commission for recovery of $513 million – $381 million for power restoration costs and $132 million to replenish the storm reserve fund.
     Residential customers would have seen an increase of $5.20 per 1,000 kWh of electricity on a typical monthly bill over a three-year recovery period – an average of $187.20. Commercial and industrial customers were expected to see an increase of approximately 2.5 to 6.6 percent, though bills would have varied depending on a number of factors.
     Like many companies, Duke Energy has been working to analyze the benefits of tax reform.
     "We are pleased that this solution will prevent a rate increase for our customers," said Harry Sideris, Duke Energy Florida state president. "Hurricane Irma was the worst storm to ever hit Duke Energy Florida and impacted many lives. Redirecting the tax reform savings against the storm costs ensures that our customers will reap the benefits of this new law."
     The change is supported by the Office of Public Counsel and consumer advocate groups. The Florida Public Service Commission will review the costs to be recovered and the level of the tax benefit and approve the change by Dec. 31.
     Hurricane Irma was a historic hurricane that caused widespread, devastating damage across the Southeast region of the United States. Utilities united and battled back with an unprecedented response.
     Duke Energy crews and contractors from the Midwest and the Carolinas traveled to Florida to assist with restoration, as did workers for utilities from across the country and from as far as Canada to get 1.3 million customers restored as quickly and safely as possible.
     In Florida, more than 12,000 line and field workers replaced approximately 1,800 distribution poles, 140 transmission poles and 1,100 transformers. Duke Energy restored power to more than 75 percent of its customers in just three days and 99 percent within eight days.
     Duke Energy Florida owns and operates a diverse generation mix, including renewables, providing about 8,800 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.8 million customers in a 13,000-square-mile service area.
     With its Florida regional headquarters located in St. Petersburg, Duke Energy is one of the largest electric power holding companies in the United States. Its Electric Utilities and Infrastructure business unit serves approximately 7.5 million customers located in six states in the Southeast and Midwest.
     The company's Gas Utilities and Infrastructure business unit distributes natural gas to approximately 1.6 million customers in the Carolinas, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Its Commercial Renewables business unit operates a growing renewable energy portfolio across the United States.
     Duke Energy is a Fortune 125 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK.


Tisha Whitehurst appointed
as new TDC director


Tisha Whitehurst

Photo Provided

By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 23, 2018 at 3:57 p.m.
     BRONSON --
The Levy County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday morning (Jan. 23) announced the appointment of Tisha Whitehurst to the position as director of the Levy County Tourist Development Council.

     Also known as the Levy County Visitors Bureau, this agency was most recently led by Carol McQueen who retired.
     The 37-year-old Whitehurst began her career in Levy County government as the administrative assistant in the Parks and Recreation Department, where she served under the direction of Director Matt Weldon. March 6 would have marked five years since she began there.
     On Feb. 10, 2015, Whitehurst accepted the position as grant coordinator for Levy County, and in that position she had duties related to the RESTORE Act.
     The RESTORE Act (the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act) is a United States federal statute that was signed into law by President Barack Obama on July 6, 2012.
     This act is a response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which was an industrial disaster that began on April 20, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico on the BP-operated Macondo Prospect.
     In her new position as director of tourist development, Whitehurst said she has been tasked with continuing her duties in relation to the RESTORE Act as well as with the TDC. During the past couple of years, she has been involved with tourist opportunities in Levy County, Whitehurst said, just as the title of the act infers.
     As for the federal funds covering the cost of her work in that regard and the tourism tax that pays for her salary as director of the Levy County TDC, Chief Deputy Clerk and Finance Director Jared Blanton is working with Whitehurst for budgeting.
     The TDC director does have an assistant however that position is currently vacant.
     Whitehurst said she officially began as the director on Jan. 16, but the County Commission waited until Tuesday to make the announcement. McQueen has been very gracious in providing Whitehurst with insight about her new job, Whitehurst said.
     The new TDC director said she sees McQueen as having accomplished the creation of a stable and strong tourism development department. Whitehurst plans to continue as McQueen has been doing, and continue to grow the number of people who spend nights in Levy County at motels, RV parks and other tourist destinations.
     Whitehurst knows McQueen built a healthy department and has shown people around the state, nation and globe that Levy County is a wonderful destination.
     "I have big shoes to fill," Whitehurst said.
     McQueen has offered to answer questions for Whitehurst whenever the new director wants, Whitehurst  said.
     Contacted at her Fanning Springs home, McQueen spoke about the new director, noting that she believes the county department is in good hands.
     "I think she's going to do a great job," McQueen said about Whitehurst. "She's got the heart for tourism. She will work hard for the accommodation and hospitality industry in Levy County."


Collectible Vehicles Pass
Through Carter's Crossroads


Here are still shots of a Ford Falcon and a Chevrolet Super Sport that were departing from Carter’s Crossroads Convenience Store at 11-ish a.m. on Sunday (Jan. 21).





Here is a video of the whole set, although the final six are best captured. There were about a dozen or so older, collectible cars and trucks in this convoy. The vehicles went west toward Fowler’s Bluff. The video is a splice of two videos with the first being from one of the dash cams within the fleet of HardisonInk.com news vehicles and one is from a handheld Cannon video camera. Carter’s Crossroads Convenience Store is located at the corner of State Road 345 and Levy County Road 347 between the city of Chiefland and the unrecorded subdivision known as Jemlands, the community of Rosewood, the community of Fowler’s Bluff and the city of Cedar Key.

Photos and Video By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 23, 2018 at 8:07 a.m.


Rep. Chuck Clemons announces
intent to run for reelection;

Clemons is first candidate to buy
an ad in HardisonInk.com in 2018


State Rep. Chuck Clemons

Photo Taken From Campaign Website

By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 20, 2018 11:57 a.m.
Updated Jan. 21, 2018 at 9:37 a.m.
     NEWBERRY --
State Rep. Charles Wesley "Chuck" Clemons Sr. (R-Newberry, Dist. 21) recently announced his intent to seek reelection to his office.

     Clemons won a valiant race in 2016 to take his current position as a representative in the Florida House of Representatives.
     It was on Nov. 8, 2016 when Clemons defeated Democratic Party candidate Marihelen Wheeler with votes showing a 54 percent to 46 percent ratio, according to records.
     That general election followed a primary election that was held on Aug. 30, 2016, where Wheeler was uncontested in the Democratic primary, and Clemons defeated Republicans Wenda Lewis and Tim Rogers in the Republican primary.
     Records show that race with voters casting ballots in the Republican primary in the following ratio – Clemons 46.21 percent; Lewis 36.31 percent; and Rogers 17.48 percent.
     Clemons was elected to the Florida House of Representatives, District 21, which includes western Alachua County and all of Dixie and Gilchrist counties.
     In a recent email, Clemons noted “Serving my community has been an honor of a lifetime.”
     “I grew up, went to college, raised a family, and built a career in the very district I now represent,” he continued. “I have served the community on many boards, through charities, as an Alachua County Commissioner, as State Director of the USDA Rural Development, and currently as the Vice President for Advancement and Communications for Santa Fe College.”
     The candidate for reelection has noted he believes there will be other contenders for his seat in the Florida House of Representatives, District 21.
     “We will face enormous challenges in the future such as prioritizing budgetary needs, diversifying our economy, strengthening our education system, and working to keep taxes low,” Clemons noted. “I’ve worked to bring common sense leadership to address the many issues facing our communities and state.”
     Clemons became the first candidate in the 2018 set of races to advertise with HardisonInk.com, when his ad was placed on Saturday (Jan. 20).
     HardisonInk.com accepts political ads from any candidate in any race.
     The single determination on where the ads run is chronology of payment receipt. All ads are the same size. (Except if a candidate buys the big one that is still available on the Leisure Page.)
     All ads will open via a hyperlink to a website if the candidate desires that to be the case. For instance, if a person clicks on the ad promoting the reelection of Rep. Clemons, they will see it opens on his website to be reelected.
     For more information about buying regular ads or political ads, send an email to hardisonink@gmail.com or call 352-493-9950 or 352-949-5280.


December employment
rises across region

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager, CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Jan. 18, 2018 at 3:27 p.m.
     OCALA --
The jobless rate in the region dropped slightly to 4.5 percent in December 2017.

     This number is down 1.3 percentage points from December 2016’s unemployment rate of 5.8 percent.
     Numbers released today from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity show that the labor force was also down 888 jobs over the year.  There were 8,885 unemployed residents in the region – an expected decrease over 9,151 in November 2017.
     Levy County continued to hold the lowest employment rate in the three-county region, with a jobless rate of just 3.9 percent, followed by Marion County at 4.3 percent and Citrus County at 5.4 percent.
     Additionally, the Ocala MSA had the third fastest annual job growth rate compared to all the metro areas in the state in the other services sector (6.5 percent) in December 2017. Both the manufacturing and education and health services sectors also saw growth faster than the rest of the state in December 2017.
     In December, nonfarm employment in the Ocala metropolitan statistical area was 105,100, an increase of 900 jobs (0.9 percent) during the year.
     The region’s employment summary for January will be released on March 12.
     For additional information about December’s numbers click HERE.


Publisher invites candidates
to buy political ads;

Price is $200 a month
By Jeff M. Hardison © January 17, 2018 at 10:07 p.m.
     THE WORLD –
While 2018 is not a Presidential Election Year, it is a Midterm Election Year.

     Candidates in municipal, county, district, state and national elections are well served if they buy an ad in HardisonInk.com.
     While there is an option to buy a yearlong ad, like normal business interests, politicians can buy short-term advertisement runs.
     Here is the deal for all political ads this year - the ad will be 300 pixels wide by 599 pixels long. The ad will run on all seven pages. The ad will run for $200 a month.
     There are no runs less than one-month. HardisonInk.com can publish a month-long “Thank you” ad, and for the elected or reelected candidate running a yearlong ad, HardisonInk.com will let that candidate add a public service ad or update ad on the state of the district, or county, etc.
     Ad rates for politicians who buy yearlong ads are the same as for business interests that buy yearlong ads. Those ads cost $900 less on the per-year basis in contrast with the monthly cost.
     Here is another unique offer this year. If no business or person buys the $2,000-a-year ad on the Leisure Page (the last prominent ad available on any of the seven pages), then HardisonInk.com will sell that space to a candidate in any race (including for governor) for $500 for a minimal two months and $250 for each month after that.
     The monthly averages recorded by Google Analytics and cPanel (third-party robotic measuring programs) for HardisonInk.com during the 12 months of 2017 in four categories are shown below:
Unique Visitors   15,552
Number of Visits   36,179
Pages   120,336
Hits   1.2 million

     Consider more than 15,000 unique visitors in contrast with few than 5,000 subscribers in the weekly newspapers. More than one million hits a month is among the significant numbers.
     Beyond the benefit to a campaign by capturing the market with the most traffic, there is the altruistic and American patriotic ideal too -- that by buying an ad in HardisonInk.com, the candidate is helping the people of the world by helping a free press serve a free country.
     Candidates are advised to buy sooner rather than later, because ads are placed by size and chronology of payment accepted.
     For more information, or to purchase an ad on HardisonInk.com, call 352-493-9950 or send an email to hardisonink@gmail.com.


Small Business Workshop Series
scheduled to be in Live Oak;

Register Today
By Mark Yarick, Consultant Suwannee County 
FSBDC of North Central Florida
Published Jan. 17, 2018 at 7:47 a.m.
     LIVE OAK --
The Florida Small Business Development Council in Suwannee County is teaming up with the the City of Live Oak to offer free training to potential and existing business owners.

     Classes are scheduled to be held once a month, on the third Thursday evening of the months.
Series Overview

     Feb. 15 - ABCs of Starting Your Own Business
     March 15 - Government Contracting 101
     April 19 - Social Media
     May 17 - Business Planning
     June 21 - Financial Literacy
     July 19 - Marketing
Class Details
     Cost: No Cost
     Time: Each class will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
     Place: Live Oak City Hall, 101 White Ave. S.E., in Live Oak. That is just off of U.S. Highway 90 (East Howard Street) and about four blocks east of U.S. Highway 129 (South Ohio Avenue).
Click HERE to Learn More and Register Now!
     By clicking HERE, too, interested individuals can find workshops by topic or by locations - including Citrus County, Gainesville, Ocala (at the College of Central Florida), Nassau County, Clay County, Putnam County and Jacksonville, as well as the Suwannee Valley (in Live Oak). The Suwannee Valley SBDC includes Dixie County.

 




3-1 vote leads to
construction contract
for $2.5 million city hall


At the special meeting Friday (Jan. 12) are (from left) Councilman Kori Lamb, City Council President Charles Goodman, City Council and City Council Vice President Nancy Wininger. City Councilman Elihu Ross was absent from this meeting.
~
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 13, 2018 at 3:27 p.m.
     WILLISTON --
Despite having a case of influenza and potentially being contagious, Williston City Manager Scott Lippmann attended the Friday afternoon (Jan. 12) special meeting of the Williston City Council meeting, and it was at that meeting when two resolutions were adopted for a $3 million loan and a $13,000 electric generator.



City Manager Scott Lippmann explains to the city leaders that the least expensive method for the employees to have a place to serve the public during construction of the new City Hall is to rent a building  from the Levy County School Board by purchasing a generator for that county government group for a price between $10,000 and $13,000.


In this video, City Finance Director Stephen Bloom explains his idea of using the most flexible loan structure to not encumber the General Fund or other revenue sources too much. His plan for the loan structure shows an ability to revise the structure over the 30-year planned loan period.


     This special meeting was called because City Council President Charles Goodman and others felt uncomfortable adopting the resolutions that had been prepared for approval at the regular Tuesday night meeting (Jan. 9).
     With predicated costs of construction materials believed to continue an upward escalation that has been noticed from the past few years, the Williston City Council chose against delaying the start of construction on the $2.5 million (plus) Williston City Hall any more than absolutely necessary.
     The current City Hall is now scheduled for complete vacation of staff by Jan. 28, and the city functions will be done at the former Williston High School’s Multipurpose Building (the old band building, next to Noble Avenue {U.S. Alt. 27}).
     Present for the special meeting, in addition to City Manager Lippmann and City Council President Charles Goodman were City Finance Director Stephen Bloom, City Clerk Fran Taylor, and City Council members Nancy Wininger, Kori Lamb and Marguerite Robinson.
     Absent from this meeting were Mayor R. Gerald Hethcoat, City Councilman Elihu Ross and City Attorney Frederick L. Koberlein Jr.
     The first matter approved was the purchase of an emergency electric generator to power a lift station that pumps sewage from the new Williston Middle High School campus. The price range for the as-yet unpurchased generator is between $10,000 and $13,000, Lippmann said.
     The cost includes installation, a transfer switch, etc., for the 45-kilowatt (more or less) generator. Lippmann mentioned for the edification of listeners that the new WMHS campus already has a full-campus generator, which was used during a recent hurricane event where the school was used as a shelter.
     This expense, even at $13,000, Lippmann explained to Goodman and others, is less than the cost of renting temporary buildings for city staff to perform their duties during the year or so of anticipated construction time.
     While the Levy County School Board is accepting this benefit, it is helping the city by lending use of that structure during that time. The old WHS campus is on the market, but a buyer would have to wait for the city government to move out before it could use that one building.
     In previous conversations by the Williston City Council, it has been mentioned a couple of times that the roof on the cafeteria leaks too much for it to be considered by the city for use.
     The approval of the generator purchase, too, was conditioned on the subsequent approval of the city signing a contract with Oelrich Construction to build the structure at an estimated cost currently at $2.5 million (plus).
     On a motion by Vice President Wininger, Seconded by Councilwoman Robinson, the four City Council members present approved the purchase of the generator by a 4-0 vote.
     As for the resolution to contract with Oelrich Construction to build the future City Hall, that motion was a Wininger-Robinson action. President Goodman joined the two motion makers in voting “Yes.”
     Councilman Lamb said he voted “No” because although he wants the City Hall construction to begin, after listening to Finance Director Bloom say the loan for the project is not final, Lamb was not comfortable enough in approving the start of construction.
     Bloom provided the four City Council members with a verbal review of his plan for financing the project, before the motion was made to adopt the resolution for Oelrich Construction to begin building City Hall.
     Bloom’s plan shows the city leaders over the next 30 years will enjoy maximum flexibility within financing the project. For instance, there will be no penalty for early payments on the principal part of the loan.
     By using his method, the other part of this loan proposal shows it is made to not interfere with funding for future projects or other capital expenditure needs that may occur in the next three decades.
     More specifically, Bloom structured a method to where the loan repayment was split between the General Fund, the Utilities Fund, the Airport Fund and the CRA Fund.
     The current percentages for those will be 50 percent from the General Fund; 40 percent from the Utilities Fund and 5 percent each from the other two funds.
     Given that City Hall will serve to meet needs from operating Williston Municipal Airport and the Community Redevelopment Agency’s projects, using those funds is justified.
     Bloom said the $2.528 million projected cost of the project is what he used in his calculations. He sees 100 percent of the loan coming from a bank.
     The loan is being sought from several banks including some local institutions like Drummond Community Bank and Ameris Bank.
     The potential to use funding from reserves exists as well. In fact, even if a bank did not loan the city any money, there is enough money in the city’s various reserve funds to pay for the new city hall.
     In spite of Bloom assuring the four City Council members present that he sees a very strong likelihood of a bank loaning the city the money, City Councilman Lamb voted against signing the contract with Oelrich Construction to start the program – because the financing has not been secured yet.


2018 Agricultural Land
Conservation Easement signup;

Application deadline is Feb. 16
By Renee Bodine, NRCS
Public Affairs Florida
Published Dec. 14, 2017 at 8:07 a.m.
     GAINESVILLE -- Applications to fund agricultural easements in Florida are being accepted until Feb. 16.

     The United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides financial and technical assistance to conserve working lands and wetlands through two programs: Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) and Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE).
     Although applications are accepted on a continuous basis, funding selections are typically made once a year.
     Agricultural landowners and Indian tribes can apply for a Wetland Reserve Easement to restore wetlands, protect wildlife habitat and recharge groundwater on their property. Eligible landowners can enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement.
     NRCS provides financial assistance to conservation partners for purchasing an Agricultural Land Easement that protects the agricultural use of cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland.
     Applications are available online by clicking HERE.
     For wetland easements, contact Crenel Francis, 352-338-9508 for questions and submissions. Contact Nina Bhattacharyya, 352-338-9554 for questions and submissions about agricultural land easements.

--UPDATED--
TUESDAY   Feb. 20   6:38 a.m.
Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties



 
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