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. 

 


More Below This Ad

 


     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.


Duke Energy Florida expands
solar in the Sunshine State
with completion of facility
in Suwannee County


Providing customers with carbon-free energy from nearly 9-megawatt solar power plant on 70 acres in Suwannee County, the investor-owned utility company plans to develop up to 700 megawatts of solar by 2021.

Information and Photo Provided
By Duke Energy Florida
Published Dec. 12, 2017 at 11:47 a.m.
      ST. PETERSBURG --
Duke Energy Florida customers are now benefiting from an additional 8.8 megawatts (MW) of solar, a carbon-free renewable resource in the Sunshine State.

      The company's newest solar power plant contains nearly 44,000 solar panels on 70 acres in Suwannee County.
Elected officials and community leaders will join Duke Energy at a commemorative ribbon cutting and solar panel signing ceremony on Dec. 14 at 10 a.m. to celebrate the opening. The facility is located at 4020 River Road, Live Oak, Fla., just east of the existing Suwannee power plant.
      "We are proud of our newest solar power plant and excited about our future solar development in Florida," said Harry Sideris, Duke Energy Florida state president. "In the next four years, we will be adding up to 700 MW of new solar generation as part of our ongoing strategy to offer cleaner, smarter energy solutions that customers value in the Sunshine State."
      Duke Energy Florida's Suwannee Solar Facility began operating in November. Solar projects enable the company to efficiently bring the greatest amount of renewable energy online for customers in the most economical way.
      The company retired three natural gas units at the Suwannee power plant December of 2016. Originally the units, built in the early 1950s, were oil-fired. The steam units were converted to run on natural gas and generated 129 MW. Three other 1980s era clean-burning, natural gas units, capable of generating 155 MW, remain in operation on the plant site as part of the system that supplies extra energy when demand from customers is the greatest.
~
Plans to build additional solar
      A settlement agreement approved by the Florida Public Service Commission will allow the company to add up to 700 (MW) of cost-effective solar over the next four years, accelerating the company's previous 10-year solar installation plan. The company plans to begin construction of its sixth Florida solar power plant to be located in Hamilton County in 2018. The plant will have approximately 300,000 solar panels and will be built on nearly 550 acres of land in Jasper.
      The 74.9-MW Hamilton Solar Plant will produce clean, emissions-free energy, which will be enough to power more than 20,000 homes at peak production.
~
Duke Energy Florida
     Duke Energy Florida owns and operates a diverse generation mix, including renewables, providing about 8,800 MW 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. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com.




Consider these year-end
tax-smart financial moves

Published Dec. 11, 2017 at 1:57 p.m.
     With the holiday season upon us, you may be getting pretty busy. But once the holidays are over, you'll enter into a new season – tax season. The filing deadline for the 2017 tax year is April 17, 2018, but until that date – and especially before the end of the calendar year – you may want to explore some tax-smart financial moves.

     Here are a few to consider:
     • Boost your 401(k) contributions. If you're like most people, you probably don't usually contribute the maximum amount to your 401(k), which, in 2017, is $18,000, or $24,000 if you’re 50 or older. Unless you have a Roth 401(k), your contributions are made with pre-tax dollars, so the more you put in, the lower your taxable income. Ask your employer if you can increase your 401(k) contributions in 2017. Also, if you receive a bonus before the year ends, you may be able to put that toward your 401(k) too, thus deferring the taxes you'd have to pay on this extra income.
     • Add to your IRA. You have until the April 17 deadline to contribute to your IRA for the 2017 tax year, but the more you can put in now, the less you'll have to come up with at the filing deadline. Contributions to a traditional IRA are generally deductible, but the deductibility is phased out if your income rises above certain levels. For 2017, you can put up to $5,500 into your IRA, or $6,500 if you’re 50 or older. (Roth IRA contributions are never deductible.)
     • Contribute to a 529 plan. When you contribute to a 529 college savings plan, your earnings can grow tax-free, provided the money is used for qualified higher education expenses. (However, 529 plan distributions not used for these qualified expenses may be subject to income tax and a 10 percent IRS penalty.) Furthermore, your 529 plan contributions may be deductible from your state taxes.
     • Be generous. It's certainly the season for giving, and when you make charitable gifts, you can give and receive. By sending cash to a qualified charity, you may get a tax deduction, but if you look beyond your checkbook, you might gain even bigger benefits. Specifically, if you donate appreciated securities you've held for more than one year to charity, you may be able to deduct the value of the securities, based on their worth when you make the gift.
     • Offset your gains. If you own some investments that have lost value and may no longer be essential parts of your portfolio, you could sell them and use the loss to offset capital gains taxes on investments you've sold that have appreciated. If the loss from the sale was greater than your combined long- and short-term capital gains, you can deduct up to $3,000 against other income, including your salary and interest payments. And if your losses exceed your capital gains by more than $3,000, you can carry the remaining losses forward to future tax years.
     Following these suggestions may help improve your tax situation for the year. So, give them some thought and consult with your tax professional to understand what actions are appropriate for you.
     PUBLISHER’S NOTE: This article was written by Edward Jones for use by a local Edward Jones Financial Advisor – Sheila K. Smith, 220 N. Main St., Suite 2, Chiefland. Phone 352-493-4948.


Levy County stops
accepting glass for recycling;

Waste Pro and Williston
work out subsequent kinks

By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 8, 2017 at 2:07 p.m.
     WILLISTON --
Recycling glass is no longer a money-making proposition, Dayna Miller of Waste Pro told the Williston City Council on Tuesday night (Dec. 5).

     It is cheaper for companies to create new glass rather than to recycle old glass, she added.
     As of Oct. 1, Levy County no longer accepts glass as a recycled item, Miller said. As a result of that, Waste Pro is asking the City of Williston to modify its contract with Waste Pro. The modification results in people putting glass in their garbage can rather than in a recycle container.
     The people of Williston are still able to dispose of their glass, she said. Waste Pro is just asking people to stop putting glass in recycle bins. Instead, put the glass in with the rest of the garbage.
     Miller's request led Williston City Council President Charles Goodman to ask why the city should accommodate Waste Pro when he did not see a similar level of treatment from before.
     After Hurricane Irma left residents with lots of tree debris, Goodman said, Waste Pro only collected the exact cubic footage it had agreed to in its contract. Now that same contract says Waste Pro will collect glass as a recycled item during the period of the contract.
     Miller said Waste Pro's assets were stretched to the limit after Hurricane Irma, because it left all of Florida and most of the Southeast United States with plenty of yard waste and other debris. Although Goodman received calls from several individual garbage customers, Miller said she believes the better method might have been for the city to approach the garbage hauler as a city to business rather than as each customer calling.
     One person in the audience asked Goodman for an opportunity to answer his question "Why should the city help the company by revising a contract, when the corporation would not revise its contract to help the city with hurricane yard debris removal?"
     The "why" question might be answered, the audience member said, by looking at the Students of the Month. Those two children were honored by Mayor R. Gerald Hethcoat for working well with their classmates, for helping others, and for going beyond the mandatory minimum level of good acceptable, and the like.
     When Goodman polled the other three City Council members present that night, Councilwoman Marguerite Robinson voted in favor of modifying the contract to allow for disposal of glass in the garbage rather than having an option of people recycling it.
    Councilman Kori Lamb voted in favor of modifying the contract to help Waste Pro with its unanticipated dilemma.
    Councilman Elihu Ross voted "No."
    President Goodman said he wanted to be the "No" vote, but given that would be a 2-2 tie and hence equal a "No" vote, and given the eloquence of the answer as to "why" to help rather than to perform a this-for-that contract action, President Goodman voted in favor of  offering a resolution as Waste Pro had sought.
     City staff was instructed to create a resolution for possible adoption at the next City Council meeting.
     The Alachua County Landfill is still accepting glass as a recycle item, even from out-of-county sources. This would cause a significant expense for Waste Pro.
     In the meantime, given that there is no agreement yet for the removal of glass from the recycle bins, Miller agreed with Goodman's request not to leave the glass in the bins.
     Within the next couple of weeks, however, Waste Pro customers in Williston probably will be instructed to simply throw glass away rather than putting it in a recycle bin.
     After Goodman asked Miller about Waste Pro's acceptance of glass as a recycle item from the City of Cedar Key, Miller explained that Cedar Key pays in a different manner than Williston. As a result of that payment method, every pound of Cedar Key trash is designated to one truck and it is weighed and handled separately from other Waste Pro customers' garbage.
     As for the Levy County Landfill, it shows that currently "Recyclable items are free of charge, if cleaned and separated. That includes aluminum cans, steel cans, plastic milk jugs, plastic detergent bottles, plastic drink bottles, newspapers, and cardboard (no wax coated)." The website does not list glass as being accepted anymore.
     There is NO out-of-county garbage allowed to be deposited at the Levy County solid waste transfer station (landfill).


New Gander Outdoors four-day
hiring event set for next week

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Dec. 7, 2017 at 3:37 p.m.
     OCALA –
The first round of rebranded Gander Mountain stores are getting ready to open, including the new Gander Outdoors in Ocala. And that means jobs.

     CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion has partnered with Gander Outdoors to hold a four-day hiring event, Dec. 11-14 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the store – located in the former Gander Mountain – at 3970 SW Third St., Suite 101, in Ocala.
     Gander Mountain shuttered last spring and its assets were picked up by Camping World, the nation’s largest retailer of recreational vehicles, parts and outdoor gear. The Ocala store is one of just a handful scheduled to open early in the new year.
     Company representatives will be on site recruiting for full- and part-time Customer Service Associates as well as Service Technician Specialists, Products Specialists and Warehouse Specialists.
     Starting wage is $12.25 an hour. Benefits include health insurance (medical, dental and vision) as well as paid vacation and holidays.
     Interested candidates should register at www.EmployFlorida.com and submit an online application prior to attending.
     For more information, visit CareerSource CLM’s calendar of events or call 352-249-4378, ext. 1270 or 800-434-JOBS, ext. 1270.


County applies for road funding

Levy County Road Department Administrative Manager Alice LaLonde speaks to the County Commission.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 6, 2017 at 8:47 p.m.
     LEVY COUNTY --
Ambulance riders may feel a bit less pain on one stretch of road in the future thanks to action by five members of the Levy County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday.

     Some people call the stretch of Levy County Road 347 between U.S. Highway 19 and U.S. Alt 27 "Turkey Town Road."  In fact that is the more traditional name; however, a more recent name for that part of that road is "Coffee Road," because everyone knows there are too many bumps for a passenger in a vehicle to hazard drinking coffee.
     In fact, there is a rural legend that Levy County Department of Public Safety ambulances cannot transport some patients down that part of the road because the bumps can be life-threatening.
     Levy County Road Department Administrative Manager Alice LaLonde requested that the County Commission approve a set of Small County Outreach Program (SCOP) and Small County Road Assistance Program (SCRAP) grants.
     The four miles of CR 347 Turkey Town Road construction is estimated at a cost of about $2.7 million.


This map shows the yellow line of CR 345 is right across U.S. Alt 27 from CR 347.
Graphic provided by Levy County

     Out from CR 347, going north and across U.S. Alt. 27 to U.S. Highway 129 that is known as Levy County Road 345.
     The 2.5 miles of CR 345 roadwork shows an estimated cost of about $1.4 million.
     Other roads approved by the County Commission for LaLonde to seek DOT funding to repair and repave are CR 341; and three county roads within the city limits of Chiefland – CR 228, 229 and 239.
     The County Commission also approved LaLonde to apply for a SCRAP grant for CR 32-B.


In this photo, the entire County Commission is seen. They are from left County Commissioner Rock Meeks, County Commissioner Matt Brooks, County Commission Chairman John Meeks, County Commissioner Lilly Rooks and County Commission Vice Chairman Mike Joyner. As a result of a vote on Tuesday, County Commission Chairman John Meeks was reelected to that post. County Commissioner Mike Joyner is now the Vice Chairman. Commissioner Rock Meeks and Commissioner Lilly Rooks are up for reelection as commissioners in 2018.

     In other news from the County Commission meeting on Tuesday, the County Commission unanimously approved a request from Public Safety Director Mitch Harrell to spend about $600 per-person to send paramedics to Baltimore. There, the medical professionals will be instructed in advanced methods of opening airways on patients.
     Harrell said practicing on mannequins is adequate, but in this advanced class the paramedics will be using corpses and they will be under the direction of doctors. The only time when the medics see this level of practice is when they are in an emergency life and death setting.
     Chief Harrell said he believes this is money that is well spent on training.
     Another unanimous approval was for the county to spend $326,946 to get the same amount in a grant application to help fund Levy County Transit.
     Transit Director Connie Conley also received approval to accept a 100 percent grant for a $76,019 new bus that is 23-feet long. This new transit vehicle replaces one that was lost in a crash recently. It has 14 passenger seats and two wheelchair spaces.


Displaced by Hurricane Maria?
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
is here to help;

Local businesses stepping up
to hire Puerto Rico's refugees

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Dec. 6, 2017 at 11:57 a.m.
     OCALA, Fla. (Dec. 5, 2017) –
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion can help those displaced by Hurricane Maria connect with employment opportunities and support services.

     In addition to fee-free employment services, those here because of Hurricane Maria may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) through the Puerto Rico Department of Labor. 
     Brenda Chrisman, career centers and business services officer for CareerSource CLM, said that local employers such as Central Florida Electric of Ocala and On Top of the World have expressed interest in hiring Puerto Rican refugees.
     “What we’re really looking for now is help from the community to get the word out to those whose current priority is getting back on their feet while they are here,” Chrisman said.
     Puerto Rico, home to 3.4 million US citizens, took a direct hit from the nearly Category 5 cyclone on September 20 – just two weeks after being strafed by Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Maria, described as a “50-to-60-mile wide tornado (that) raged across Puerto Rico like a buzz saw,” caused widespread damage and knocked out power which has not yet been fully restored.
     Chrisman said that CareerSource CLM is among the 24 regions in the CareerSource Florida network committed to a strong Puerto Rico response effort.
     Services are available in English and Spanish and include employment referrals, resume assistance, training and internship opportunities and access to additional funds and partner programs.
     DUA provides financial assistance to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster declared by the President of the United States and who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.
     Those interested in filing a DUA claim may do so online at http://www.trabajo.pr.gov/. An initial Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim may be filed by clicking on Reclamación Inicial (Initial Services) and a continued UI claim may be filed by clicking on Reclamación Semanas Subsiguientes (Claim Subsequent Weeks).
     For assistance with the DUA application and filing process and/or employment services, those in Citrus or Levy counties should call 800-434-JOBS (5627), ext. 1119. Those in Ocala/Marion County should call 352-840-5700, ext. 1119 or visit the Career Center at 2703 NE 14th St., in Ocala.
    The center is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    For more information, contact Ilianette Hernandez at 800-434-5627, ext. 1119 or visit careersourceclm.com/pages/maria.


People keep traffic high
to daily news website;

Almost 1.3 million hits in November

By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 2. 2017 at 12:17 a.m.
    THE WORLD --
People around the globe continued keeping traffic high for the seventh set of Novembers for HardisonInk.com, according to two independent 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 strong base of loyal readers, viewers and listeners as the 7-year-old daily news website moves forward.
     The numbers for November 2017 are shown in the graphic below:


This graph reflects data collected from independent automated third-party systems known as Google Analytics and cPanel. Here are the first 11 months of 2017.

     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 people visiting the site.
     As for the funding for the site which is free for anyone to see, that all comes from advertising. Hardison said he has reason to believe the Dixie County Anti-Drug Coalition is going to join the many annual sponsors.
     There are national advertisements, Hardison conceded, however they will remain on the bottom of the pages.
     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; howver below that set, like on the other six pages, there are national ads.
     Following are the figures from two independent robotic programs for November 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
November 2017 -- 15,025

     The number of visits is as it says. This is the number of times that these visitors came to pages.

NUMBER OF VISITS
November 2017 – 31, 194

     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
November 2017 – 108,066

     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
November 2017 – 1,268,265 (almost 1.3 million hits)

     “These figures show how many human beings each day use their computers, tablets and cell phones to visit 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 is the first choice for thousands of individuals every, single day for seven years now.
     The website 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. Business owners understand the return on this investment goes beyond just helping their companies and their customers. By supporting and sustaining this sole proprietor's journalistic enterprise, it shows the world that the American dream does come to fruition.
     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, investment advice and more.
     HardisonInk.com provides state news on the BUSINESS PAGE and other pages on occasion when it is merited.
CHECK OUT THE ARCHIVE AND LINK TO PAST VIDEOS
     "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 at the lower right 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 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 the astronauts 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 news, sports and human interest stories, photos and videos related to Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, but those business interests that advertise enjoy the most exposure for the least dollars.
     The multiple award-winning daily and weekly editor and reporter said hius days in print newspapers were all good. However, this website is better than the years he served other publishers who could only put out a paper product once a day, or once to three times a week.
     Hardison is please with the websites evolution to where it is today -- including his choice to stay clear of pop-up ads.
     "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 it is the best daily news site for every other part of the globe where it goes when duty calls from those other points for daily news coverage.


High tech farming helps
to improve water quality

By The SRWMD Communications Staff
Published Nov. 30, 2017 at 3:37 p.m.
     LIVE OAK –
Innovative technologies are providing farmers and producers in the Suwannee River Water Management District (District) the opportunity to try new agricultural techniques and equipment aimed at improving water quality through precision fertilizer and nutrient application.

     Provided by the District in partnership with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Precision Agriculture Program offers $2 million in new cost-share/grant funding for area farmers to implement cutting-edge technologies that improve water quality. The program is estimated to reduce 1.3 million pounds of nitrogen across more than 50,000 acres within the District.
      “Ensuring healthy water quality is paramount to the longevity of our springs and natural resources,” said Hugh Thomas, Executive Director for the District. “We are taking aggressive action to create opportunities for producers to explore new methods and embrace cutting-edge technologies at reduced costs.”
     The program focuses primarily on row crop farming and includes a variety of technologies for the applicant to choose from including: tissue sampling, soil quality testing, soil nutrient mapping, variable rate nutrient and irrigation application, aerial imagery and fertigation (a process which applies fertilizer directly to each individual plant).
     Due to tight profit margins in most agricultural practices, many producers are often limited in their ability to adopt new technologies due to cost. The program allows farmers to experiment, and ultimately adopt, precision agricultural practices without bearing the full financial risk, which helps to remove barriers to entry.
     District staff worked with producers, researchers and subject matter experts across the country to identify technologies with the greatest return on water quality while maintaining, if not improving, crop yields.
      “Historically, agricultural interests have sometimes been perceived to compete with environmental efforts, said Ben Glass, Program Project Manager for the District. “This program allows our producers to move beyond conventional agricultural practices to realize environment benefits to our resources, while maintaining and even improving economic drivers.”
     Since the program’s approval by the District’s Governing Board in September, the District has already received fifty-eight applications for the program totaling more than $2.5 million. Forty-six applications were selected for the current available funding, and the District is considering other funding opportunities to fulfill the remaining projects.
      “We were shocked at how quickly the applications started coming in,” said Glass. “There is a tremendous interest in our area for water quality research and water quality improvement practices in agriculture.”
     To receive funding, recipients are required to enter a contractual agreement that includes water monitoring and data reporting. However, the proof is in the production – these practices have been proven successful to reduce inputs and improve yields amongst researchers and producers in other parts of the country.
      “The Suwannee Valley region continues to be on the cutting edge for agricultural advancements for water quality improvement and water conservation,” said Thomas. “Our mission at the District is to provide programs and opportunities for producers to continue the work they love for generations to come, while improving the health of our natural resources.”
     The District offers a variety of grant and cost-share programs to aid local governments, municipalities, farmers, producers and schools with water conservation, water quality, habitat restoration and flood prevention projects.


Congressman comments
on USAF action

By Shelby Hodkins Of Rep. Neal Dunn's Office
Published Nov. 29, 2017 at 7:07 a.m.
     PANAMA CITY -- 
U.S. Rep. (Dr.) Neal Dunn, M.D. (R-District 2 Florida) issued the following statement on the Air Force’s selection of Tyndall Air Force Base as the location for its new MQ-9 Reaper wing:

     “The Air Force’s decision is a wise one for our national defense, and it will bring a tremendous boost to our region,” Dr. Dunn said. “Tyndall is a perfect location for this new wing, and this community will welcome the new airmen and their families who come to live and work here with open arms.”
     Dr. Dunn worked to provide as much congressional support as possible in making the case to the Air Force that Tyndall was the best location for the new wing base. Congressman Dunn met with the General Mike Holmes, Commander of Air Combat Command, in his Washington office and at Tyndall during the April air show to make the pitch for the base. Soon after he was sworn-in, Congressman Dunn wrote to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and later discussed with her the merits for basing the MQ-9 in the Second District. The Air Force was considering bases in Florida, California, and South Carolina.
     The MQ-9 is an armed unmanned aerial vehicle that can perform combat, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. The Reaper has a wingspan of 66 feet, a range of 1,000 nautical miles, and a service ceiling of 50,000 feet. It can be armed with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, GBU-12 Paveway II, and GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions. The new wing will consist of more than 1,600 personnel to support 24 MQ-9 aircraft. Operational elements planned at Tyndall include mission control, launch and recovery operations, as well as the wing headquarters.
     Congressman Dunn extended his thanks to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and General Holmes, as he hailed base commanders and local leaders in Bay County for their diligent efforts to position Tyndall for this success today.
     “Tom Neubauer, Glen McDonald, the Bay Defense Alliance, and the entire coalition of military and civilian leaders are owed a great debt of gratitude,” Dr. Dunn said. “I thank them for their brilliant efforts on behalf of our region, which will see significant benefits from this basing decision for many years to come. I also wish to thank the Air Force for embarking on a fair, thorough review process that identified the best base to host this new wing.”


Hiring events set for companies
Published Nov. 27, 2017 at 2:47 p.m.
Updated Nov. 30, 2017 at 3:07 p.m.
     OCALA --
Career seekers will be interested in chekcing out the
following hiring events lined up in the next few weeks:
     ● Monday, Dec. 4 – Save-a-Lot from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the CareerSource CLM Ocala career center at 2703 N.E. 14th St. For more information, visit the Calendar of Events at careersourceclm.com or call 800-434-JOBS, ext. 1270 or 352-249-3278, ext. 1270.
     ● Monday, Dec. 11 through Thursday, Dec. 14 – Gander Outdoors from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the company property (formerly Gander Mountain) 3970 SW Third St., #101.
     For more information, visit the Calendar of Events at careersourceclm.com, call 800-434-JOBS, ext. 1270 or 352-249-3278, ext. 1270.

 

 


Portable Buildings For Sale

In this five-minute narrated video of Weather King portable buildings for sale at the Chiefland Farmers Flea Market, a brief description is shared. To really know more about them, it is best to visit where they are located -- at the Chiefland Farmers Flea Market on the west side of U.S. Highway 19 a little bit north of U.S. Highway 129 in Chiefland.

Video by Jeff M. Hardison © Nov. 26, 2017 at 11:37 p.m.




This is a larger version of the 'She Shed' captured in the video.


This is a view of some portable building over the roof of a long portable building.
 

Pole Planters

This set of workers with an independent contractor are planting new power poles for the members of Central Florida Electric Cooperative. Seen here on a couple of the days during the previous week, these linemen are working with active wires carrying high voltage electricity and risking their lives to provide safe, continuous and reliable electricity to people. Here, they are seen next to Levy County Road 347 east of the Jemlands Hill.


Among the poles destined for replacement are more on the west side of that landmark, which sits between CR 339 and 97th Court on CR 347. Last week, there was a three-minute outage and one two-second blip of loss of electricity at Carter's Crossroads Convenience Store, and within the unrecorded subdivision known as Jemlands and perhaps elsewhere, but considering all of the facets involved with keeping power going while replacing a line of poles, these linemen have done an extraordinary job so far. People who are members of CFEC are different than people served by an investor-owned utility like Duke Energy or a municipal utility company, because they are part of the continuation of the historic Rural Electrification Administration, was created in 1935.

Photos by Jeff M. Hardison © Nov. 25, 2017 at 8:47 a.m.

 


CF is ninth in the nation
for Business Administration,

22nd best online community college;
Third most affordable
nursing degree in Florida

By CF Marketing and Public Relations
Director Lois Brauckmuller
Published Nov. 23, 2017 at 7:57 a.m.
     OCALA --
The College of Central Florida has earned three new rankings: No. 9 Business Administration program, No. 22 Best Online Community College in the nation and third most affordable nursing degree in Florida.

     CF’s Business Administration program is No. 9 in the nation for colleges and universities that offer certificate, associate and bachelor’s degrees. The ranking by OnlineColleges.com was based on several factors including affordability, flexibility and student success. Data sources include National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau.
     College Choice ranked CF No. 22 Best Online Community College in the nation. The ranking was based on data from Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program, Payscale, and individual community colleges. Criteria included first-year retention rates, three-year graduation rates, minority graduation rates, credentials awarded, the percentage of non-traditional and minority students, percentage of Pell grants, as well as in-district tuition rates and potential salary.
     In addition, College Choice has recognized CF as the third most affordable Nursing Degree in Florida. The independent online publication noted CF’s state of the art, high-fidelity simulation labs.
     “These rankings reaffirm that the College of Central Florida is a great value,” said Dr. James Henningsen, CF president. “Students can be confident that they will receive a high quality education at half the cost of a university or fraction of a cost of a private college.”
     To learn more about CF, visit www.CF.edu


County tourism director
job to be re-advertised


Levy County Visitors Bureau Executive Director Carol McQueen and Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum sit in the back of the County Commission meeting room on Tuesday. McQueen spoke to the County Commission about the need to seek applicants who have a marketing background. McCallum's office succeeded in having the county accept a grant for $177,030 to improve the GIS mapping for 9-1-1 services in Levy County.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Nov. 22, 2017 at 4:57 p.m.
     BRONSON --
Three out of 11 applicants for the job currently held by Levy County Visitors Bureau Executive Director Carol McQueen made one cut by the county, but with input from Executive Director McQueen and Helen Ciallella, the vice chair of the Levy County Tourist Development Council, it became clear that the county needs to revise the job description and re-advertise.

     These are the facts coming from discussion Tuesday (Nov. 21) at the County Commission meeting.
     If any of the 11 who first applied wants to re-apply, they may do so however the first round of applications are not being considered in and of themselves in the next phase of selecting a replacement.
     County Commissioner Mike Joyner expressed an opinion that must be held across the board. Replacing McQueen with anyone is not going to be easy. The phrase that may be heard in the future might be "She (or he) is no Carol McQueen."
     County Coordinator Wilbur Dean said that after speaking with McQueen, the best method moving forward is to advertise for a new set of applicants while using a new set of required qualifications and a better job description.
     One effect of this new seeking of applicants, Dean said, is going to put the hiring of that department leader past the planned retirement of McQueen. The potential for McQueen to delay her retirement, she said, is not possible because the wheels are in motion in regard to the State Retirement System and the like.
     The county may use her service as a consultant for a fee, but even that may present hurdles, according to what was said in the meeting room on Tuesday.
     McQueen told the County Commission that of the 11 applicants, there were no individuals with a degree in marketing.
     “There were no marketing skills in any of the applicants,” McQueen said. “We also found that there was limited budget experience.”
     Likewise, there were limited or no public relations experience from the first set of applicants, McQueen said.
     Many of them had “poor work history. They couldn’t hold a job,” McQueen said, “or they had little or no supervisory skills.”
     After seeing this set of applicants, McQueen urged the County Commission to revise the job description to put more of an emphasis on marketing and public relations.
     McQueen told the County Commission on Sept. 15 that she was going to retire after Dec. 31. This gave the county more than three months to advertise and find a replacement.
     She noted there is competition now for a director in tourism for counties, with both Alachua County and Citrus County seeking a similar person.
     The salaries for these people in these three counties is approximately Alachua County – between $68,000 and $102,000; Citrus County – between $53,000 and $80,000; and in Levy County – between $35,000 and $52,000.
     The other two counties are much larger, have bigger budgets and more staff members.
     On a motion by County Commissioner Matt Brooks, seconded by County Commissioner Rock Meeks, the County Commission voted 5-0 to follow McQueen’s and Ciallella’s recommendation for what to note in the new advertisement for the replacement for McQueen.


Tri-County Area Farm Service Agency is accepting Emergency Conservation Program applications
Published Nov. 14, 2017 at 10:37 a.m.
     TRENTON --
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Brandy S. VanAernam announced via a press release on Nov. 14 that Gilchrist, Dixie and Levy counties are approved to accept applications for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) to address damages from Hurricane Irma.

     ECP signup began on Nov. 6 and ends on Jan. 6, 2018.
     Approved ECP practices under this authorization include removing debris from farmland; grading, shaping, or releveling severely damaged farmland; restoring permanent fences; and restoring conservation structures and other similar installations, she said.
     ECP is administered by FSA to assist producers with the cost of recovery activities required to restore the agricultural land to pre-disaster conditions. Producers who sustained damage from this disaster event are encouraged to submit their request for assistance prior to beginning reconstructive work.
     Submitting a request after completing qualified reconstructive work may result in forfeiture of program eligibility.
     “I realize that there are extenuating circumstances that must be addressed for livestock safety and health reasons, but I strongly recommend at least calling our office before any action is taken,” VanAernam said.
     FSA county committees will complete an evaluation of submitted requests and obligate available funds based on an on-site inspection of the damaged land, taking into consideration the type and extent of the eligible damage. Completion of the on-site inspection does not guarantee that cost-share funding will be allocated.
     The use of obligated funds is limited to return the land to the relative pre-disaster condition. Conservation concerns that were present on the land prior to the disaster are not eligible for ECP assistance. Approved ECP applicants may receive up to 75 percent of the cost of completing the approved restoration activity.
     For more information on ECP, please contact the Gilchrist Dixie Levy County FSA office at 352-658-4057.

--UPDATED--
THURSDAY   Dec. 14   8:07 a.m.
Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties



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