Mayor Drinda Merritt earns
2017 Home Rule Hero Award

Press Release from Florida League of Cities
Published June 24, 2017 at 4:17 a.m.
The Florida League of Cities recently recognized Inglis Mayor Drinda Merritt with a 2017 Home Rule Hero Award.


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     Mayor Merritt earned this prestigious award for her tireless efforts to advance the League’s legislative agenda and help protect the Home Rule powers of Florida’s cities during the 2017 regular legislative session.
     “Our Home Rule Heroes are shining examples of local advocacy in action,” said Boca Raton Mayor and Florida League of Cities President Susan Haynie. “These dedicated municipal officials take time out of their busy schedules to cultivate relationships with their legislators and help them understand the issues that are most important to their constituents back home. Thank you for all you do to help protect Home Rule and preserve the quality of life in your city.”
     Home Rule is the ability for a city to establish its own form of government and enact ordinances, codes, plans and resolutions without prior state approval. The Home Rule Hero Award recipients are local government officials – both elected and nonelected – who consistently responded to the League’s request to reach out to members of the legislature and help give a local perspective to an issue. 
     Founded in 1922, the Florida League of Cities is the united voice for Florida’s municipal governments. Its goals are to promote local self-government and serve the needs of Florida’s cities. Florida’s cities are formed by their citizens and governed by their citizens. The League is founded on the belief that local self-government is the keystone of American democracy. For more information, visit

Marathon Awning Demolished

In this three-minute and 50-second video, there are four clips. The men are taking down a metal structure to recycle the metal.
Photos and Video by Jeff M. Hardison © June 22, 2017 at 8:57 p.m.

All Rights Reserved

The first and fourth short clips show some of the cutting torch work. In-between the progress of taking metal piece-by-piece to the metal recycling container is captured. This work happened within a couple of hours of the workers' total day. The Marathon gasoline station's metal cover over the pumps is taken down.

The series of still shots from top to bottom are progressive in chronology.

This action was on Wednesday (June 21), and it happened across U.S. Highway 19 from the Dixie County Library in Cross City.
Photos and Video by Jeff M. Hardison © June 22, 2017 at 8:57 p.m.

All Rights Reserved


Safety Award

Levy County Coordinator Wilbur Dean (above) speaks as County Clerk Danny Shipp (left) listens. Dean presented County Commission Chairman John Meeks with an acrylic trophy Tuesday morning (June 20). Dean was at the Public Risk Management insurance group meeting in Naples recently when the award was presented. This award is for Levy County employees earning the title as Most Improved Safety Performance as a Large Entity Class. Dean said that despite the great work in safety by the county's employees, the county should budget for a 7 percent to 14 percent increase workers compensation insurance premiums. Dean said this increase results from a Supreme Court ruling. Dean said the county's workforce earned this award.

Chairman Meeks (above) said it is the county workers who are active every day, being certain to take precautions and practicing safety measures to reduce the odds of injury, death and property loss. As an example, he mentioned to look both ways before crossing a street. Meeks said he appreciates the county's workers' efforts to remain safe while completing their tasks.

Photo by Jeff M. Hardison © June 21, 2017 at 2:27 p.m.



Don’t Let Your Investments
Take A Vacation

Published June 20, 2017 at 3:47 p.m.
     It’s summer again – time for many of us to take a break and possibly hit the open road. But even if you go on vacation, you won’t want your investments to do the same – in summertime or any other season. How can you help make sure your portfolio continues to work hard for you all year long.

     Here are a few suggestions:
     • Avoid owning too many “low growth” investments. As you know, different investments have different characteristics and can help you in different ways. For example, you typically own stocks because you want them to grow in value so that you can eventually sell them for a profit. Other investments, such as certificates of deposit (CDs), provide you with a regular source of income and stability of principal – two valuable contributions to your portfolio. However, investments like CDs don’t offer much in the way of growth. So if you own too many of them, you might be slowing your progress toward your important financial goals, such as a comfortable retirement.
     You can maximize the productivity of your portfolio by owning a variety of investments – domestic stocks, international stocks, corporate bonds, U.S. Treasury securities, CDs and more. How much of each investment should you own? The answer depends on a variety of factors, including your age, income, risk tolerance, family situation and specific objectives. Over time, your ideal investment mix may change, but you’ll likely need at least some growth potential at every stage of your life.
     • Don’t let your portfolio go “unsupervised.” Your investment portfolio can be subject to “drift” if left alone for extended time periods. In fact, without your making any moves at all, your portfolio can move in directions that may not be favorable to you. Suppose you think your holdings should be made up of 70% stocks, but due to strong gains, your stocks now make up 80% of your portfolio. This development could lead to a risk level that feels uncomfortably high to you. That’s why you should review your portfolio at least once a year, possibly with the help of a financial professional, to check your progress and make adjustments as needed.
     • Don’t stop at the nearest “resting place.” Some people hope that if they can get that one “winner,” they will triumph in the investment arena. But the ability to “get rich quick” is much more of a myth than a reality. True investment success typically requires patience, persistence and the resilience to continue investing even during market downturns.
     In other words, investing is a long-term endeavor, and you need a portfolio that reflects this reality. The investment moves you make today may pay off for you decades from now. You need to establish your goals and keep them constantly in mind as you invest. And you will never really reach the end of your investment journey, because you’ll need to make choices and manage your portfolio throughout your retirement years.
     Hopefully, you will enjoy a pleasant vacation sometime this summer. But your investment portfolio shouldn't take time off.
     PUBLISHER'S NOTE: This article was written by Edward Jones for use by the local Edward Jones Financial Advisor -- Kathryn Lancaster, 220-2 N. Main St., in Chiefland.

Region’s jobless rate
remains at 4.9 percent

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager, CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published June 16, 2017 AT 4:27 p.m.
     OCALA –
The unemployment rate for the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion was 4.9 percent in May, unchanged over the month and 0.7 percentage point lower than the same time last year.

     Out of a labor force of 200,642, there were 9,818 unemployed, a slight increase of 56 since April and 1,171 fewer than May 2016. While the number of employed remained virtually unchanged in the region – just two fewer at 190,824 – that represents 4,829 more employed than one year ago when the unemployment rate was 5.6 percent.
     According to today’s (Friday, June 16, 2017) employment summary by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), Levy County continued to post the lowest jobless rate in the region at 4.3 percent, followed by Marion County at 4.7 percent and Citrus County at 5.6. Florida’s unemployment rate, not seasonally adjusted, was 4 percent and the nations held at 4.1 percent. 
     For the fifth consecutive month, the Ocala metropolitan statistical area (MSA) continued to hold the fastest annual job growth rate compared to all metros in Florida in professional and business services, at 9.7 percent.
     Rusty Skinner, chief executive officer for CareerSource CLM, said that historically the region begins to see unemployment rise in May due to seasonal factors, peaking in mid-summer and snapping back by September or October.
     “The fact that we’ve basically held steady in May when we’ve typically seen unemployment increase could very well be another encouraging sign for our local economy,” Skinner said. “And again, it’s instructive to see just how far we’ve come.”
     Comparing last month to May 2012, the jobless rate has been cut in half, down from 10.3 percent, and the number of unemployed has dropped 52 percent, down from 20,555. 
     DEO’s preliminary data for the area’s three counties shows that in May Citrus County's labor force grew over the month by 265 to 47,924, the number of employed increased by 209 to 45,222, and the number of those without jobs rose by 56 to 2,702.
     That is 113 more employed and 325 fewer unemployed since May 2016 when the jobless rate was 6.3 percent. 
     Levy County's labor force remained virtually unchanged, falling by just six to 16,860, the number of employed decreased by 14 to 16,137 and the number of unemployed rose by eight to 723. That’s 410 more employed and 51 fewer unemployed than a year ago when the jobless rate was 4.7 percent.
     Marion County’s labor force decreased by 205 to 135,858, the number of employed slipped by 197 to 129,465 and the number of jobless inched up by eight to 6,393. That’s an increase of 4,306 employed and a drop of 795 unemployed compared to May 2016 when the unemployment rate was 5.4 percent.
     Among the counties, Citrus County continued to hold the third highest rate behind Sumter County at 5.9 percent and Hendry County at 6.6 percent; Marion County held at 11th; and Levy County was 21st.
     The Villages MSA continued to post the highest rate among the states metros at 5.9 percent, Homosassa Springs (Citrus County) continued to hold the second highest and Ocala held at fifth. 
     The Ocala metro posted 103,300 nonfarm jobs in May, an increase of 2,700 new jobs over the year for an growth rate of 2.7 percent.
     Industries gaining jobs over the year, and growing faster in the metro area than statewide over the year, were professional and business services (+900 for a 9.7 percent job growth rate); mining, logging and construction (+600 for a 8.7 percent growth rate); education and health services (+500/2.7 percent increase); and trade, transportation and utilities (+600 jobs for an increase of 2.6 percent).
     Manufacturing also gained 200 jobs over the year and government added 100 jobs.
     Information and financial activities each lost 100 jobs over the year. Leisure and hospitality and “other services” industries were unchanged.
     The Homosassa Springs MSA had 33,500 nonfarm jobs in May, the same as the previous two months but a decrease of 100 (-0.3 percent) over the year.  
     The June employment report is scheduled to be released on Friday, July 21.

Governor and Cabinet
approve Florida Forever
acquisition crucial for springs'
protection in Gilchrist County

Turtles swim in Blue Springs.

Photo courtesy of John Moran.

By the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection
Published June 14, 2017 at 11:27 p.m.

     TALLAHASSEE – Today (Wednesday, June 14) , Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet members approved the purchase of the Blue Springs parcel, a 407-acre property in Gilchrist County, for more than $5.2 million.
     The property encompasses six natural springs and includes approximately one mile of frontage along the Santa Fe River.
     "Gilchrist County is very appreciative of Gov. Scott, the Florida Cabinet, and DEP for the foresight to acquire Gilchrist Blue Springs," Gilchrist County Commission Chairman D. Ray Harrison Jr. said. "This acquisition will ensure that this magnificent local jewel will be protected and enjoyed by the public today and in the future."
     “I am thrilled by this opportunity to protect this property, and the vital springs resources within it, for our future generations,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “I'm looking forward to working with Gov. Scott and the Cabinet and our partners in springs protection to complete more acquisitions like this one."
     The property will be purchased from Blue Springs Properties Inc., which has managed it as a private park and campground facility, known as Blue Springs Park, since 1958.
     "For decades, my family has worked to protect one of this state's most beautiful natural treasures," said Kim Davis, Blue Springs Properties Inc. "We're excited that this acquisition will allow this legacy to continue."       
     The property is located within the Florida’s First Magnitude Springs Florida Forever project, ranked number 1 in the Florida Forever Partnerships and Regional Incentives project category. With today's acquisition, more than 60 percent of this project has been acquired by the state of Florida.
     “The Blue Springs project in Gilchrist County is a terrific springs protection project with the added benefit of protecting riverine habitat along the Santa Fe River,” said Eric Draper, Executive Director of Audubon Florida. "We're looking forward to working with Secretary Valenstein and DEP to complete more critical acquisitions and projects to ensure Florida’s natural treasures are protected."
     The property contains a large second magnitude spring that produces an average of over 44 million gallons of water per day. This spring, known as Gilchrist Blue, discharges water through a shallow spring run about one-quarter mile to the Santa Fe River. The other named springs on-site are Little Blue Spring, Naked Spring and Johnson Spring. 
     "The state's purchase of Gilchrist Blue Springs on the Santa Fe River is a success for public access to our watery natural resources," said Whitey Markle, chair of Suwannee - St. Johns Sierra Club. "This type of protection is supported by our organization." 
     "Gilchrist Blue Springs is one of the crown jewels along the emerald necklace of North Central Florida,"said Tom Kay, Executive Director of Alachua Conservation Trust. "Its protection has been the priority of many organizations for years. This is a great day for Florida and all those that love our springs."
     "Our Santa Fe River is delighted at the purchase of Gilchrist Blue Springs by the state," said Pamela I. Smith, president of Our Santa Fe River Inc. "We look forward to working with DEP to establish a healthy management plan for this unique and beautiful Florida spring."

TUESDAY  JUNE 27  10:47 a.m.
Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties

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