Gary Miller's Outdoor Truths Ministry, Feb. 26, 2024

Dixie County dedicates
new tanker truck with push-in ceremony

Fire Tanker
Dixie County Fire Rescue officers participate in a push-In ceremony to dedicate their new fire tanker truck. Fire Rescue is one part of Dixie County Emergency Services.

Story and Photos 
By Terry Witt, HardisonInk Correspondent
© Feb. 28, 20924 at 
All Copyrights Protected By Federal Civil Law
Do Not Copy and Paste to Social Media or Elsewhere
     OLD TOWN --
Dixie County dedicated its new $500,000 fire tanker truck Wednesday (Feb. 28) using a traditional ceremony dating back to the horsedrawn wagon days of firefighting.


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     The ceremony was modified somewhat from the old days because the new tanker truck was far too heavy to be pushed by firefighters alone into the firehouse bay.
     Instead, firefighters, paramedics and EMTs leaned against the front of the tanker truck and pushed as a driver backed the vehicle into the fire bay as part of the ceremony.
     “What this is, is a push-in ceremony. They started it when they had the old horsedrawn wagons,” Dixie County Emergency Services Chief Damian Brown said. “When they had a new wagon, they would push it in the station. They carried on the tradition through the years and when departments got a new truck to put in service, they would have a ceremony to celebrate the new truck. It’s pushed in the station just like the horsedrawn wagons used to be.”
     Among the other leaders serving under DCES Chief Brown are Division Chief of Fire Service Operations Roy Bass, Division Chief of Emergency Medical Services Matt Ferguson and Division Chief of Emergency Management Scott Garner.
     Chief Brown said the county bought the 3,000-gallon tanker truck using an appropriation of $650,000 from the Florida Legislature, which was secured by State Rep. Jason Shoaf (R-Port St. Joe, Dist. 21) and State Sen. Corey Jermaine Simon (R-Tallahassee, Dist. 3).
     State House District 21 includes Dixie, Franklin, Gulf, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Suwannee, Taylor and Wakulla counties.
     State Senate District 3 includes Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor, Wakulla counties.
     The truck has a main tank of 3,000 gallons and a backup tank of the same size. The tanker can empty its water into a pumper truck in 45 seconds. The pumper is the main fire truck used to knock down fires.
     The fire service has spent $576,000 on the purchase and equipping of the tanker truck, but Chief Brown said additional equipment is on order, and they will attempt to add as much equipment as they can to the truck with the state money.

Fire Tanker
Firefighter Paramedic Blake Watson holds the American flag next to the new fire tanker truck.

Fire Tanker
Dixie County Fire Rescue officers gather for a group photo in front of a year-old ambulance on the left and a new fire truck on the right.

Fire Tanker
Dixie County Emergency Services Chief Darian Brown is seen with Pastor Raymond Wilcox who gave a blessing to the truck and the men and women who will operate it.

Fire Tanker
The tanker is equipped with an 3,000-gallon interior tank and a 3,000-gallon tank that folds down on the side of the truck. The truck is designed for quick water fill-ups and quick transfer of water from the tanker to pumper trucks fighting fires at the scene.

     “It’s a nice addition to the fleet,” he said. “We got two new engines. We paid for those with our county fire assessment monies. We got two new stations being built right now, one in Cross City and one in the center part of the Old Town Hammock area. Both of those were funded by state appropriation requests – about $7.5 million for that. We might get more this year. We’ll see what the session holds.
     “It takes a lot of grants and appropriations to make it all work,” Chief Brown continued. “We try to make it happen as best we can. We’ve been to the Capitol 18 times in the last month-and-a-half and we visited with them. They know our needs. They help as much as they can. Their hands are tied sometimes, too, but they are very helpful.”
     Brown said Dixie County Fire Rescue is a true fire rescue agency. He said the county previously used an EMS agency with fire volunteers based out of EMS. The agency transitioned over the years to a true fire-rescue agency due to the loss of fire volunteers and the increase in calls.
     “There was a need for a true fire-rescue agency,” he said.
     Brown said EMS calls are about 75 percent of the agency’s call load, but he said they cover every emergency in the 700-square miles of Dixie County including through the last hurricane. He said the county is trying to find the funds through emergency management to pay for the storm’s impact.
     “We deal with every bit of it,” he said.


Levy County seeks input
for public information
Survey deadline is March 1

Information Provided
By Mary-Ellen Harper
Levy County Commission Public Information Officer
Published Feb. 24, 2024 at 8:30 p.m.
The Levy County Board of County Commission is developing its first-ever Public Information Strategic Plan.
     This plan seeks to identify and prioritize the County Commission’s public information work efforts based on input from the members of the community as well as from County Commission elected and appointed officials.
     As part of this process, all members of the Levy County community are invited to provide their opinions in the following online survey. This survey is completely anonymous and is designed to be completed in approximately five minutes.
    The survey will be available to take until 5 p.m. on March 1.

    Click HERE to take the survey.
     For individuals who prefer to complete the survey on paper, copies of the survey are available on the table in the County Commission meeting room and in the County Commission office, located in the Levy County Government Center in Bronson.
     Paper surveys should be turned in to the County Commission office by 5 p.m. on March 1. 


CKWC wins big
at District Arts And Crafts Show

General Federation of Women’s Clubs Florida District 5 Director Georgia Browning (left) stands with Cedar Key Woman’s Club Member Betty Belair as the director and artist are shown with Belair’s winning Director’s Choice Watercolor Painting.

Information and Photo Provided
By Donna Bushnell, CKWC Member
Published Feb. 19, 2024 at 8:30 a.m.
The Cedar Key Woman’s Club (CKWC) members who entered 36 projects in the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) Florida District 5 Arts and Crafts Show in Gainesville brought home 33 ribbons after the recent event.

     The GFWC District 5 includes the following clubs:
     ● Cedar Key Woman’s Club
     ● GFWC Alachua Woman’s Club
     ● GFWC Crystal River Woman’s Club
     ● GFWC Gainesville Woman’s Club
     ● GFWC High Springs New Century Woman’s Club
     ● GFWC Woman’s Club of Inverness
     ● Little Women Juniorettes of Ocala
     ● GFWC Woman’s Club of Ocala
     ● GFWC Greater Ocala Woman’s Club
     ● GFWC Williston Junior Woman’s Club
     ● GFWC Williston Woman’s Club
     ● GFWC Girls on Fire (cyber)
     The CKWC’s members earned the most first place blue ribbons - 15 and the most second place ribbons - 13 of any of the clubs. As well as taking four third place honors.
     Additionally, Betty Belair won the Director’s Choice Award for her watercolor painting of the sea.
     The following first place winners are now scheduled to compete in the GFWC Florida Arts And Crafts Competition in Orlando in April: Ann Morgan, Betty Belair, Donna Bushnell, Beth Wright, Annette Ray, Rosemary Danesi, Lena Smyrnova, Esta Johnston and Leslie Vassall. Also in that statewide competition, the CKWC Group Quilt is a contender.
     During the recent district event in Gainesville, Annette Ray won the 50/50 game, and she donated her winnings to Camp Bogey Creek in CKWC’s name. CKWC had a large group of attendees who encouraged and cheered on the members.


FEMA rules weigh
on Dixie County Building Department
Local zoning exceptions pass 4-0

Dixie County Commission
Dixie County Building Official Leon Wright speaks to the County Commission on Feb. 15.

Story and Photo
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 16, 2024 at 9 p.m.
Dixie County commissioners on Thursday night (Feb. 15) again heard from Dixie County Building Official Leon Wright about deadlines set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and put upon the county government.

     Wright is advertising to fill a vacancy on the department that is tasked with reviewing and accounting for repairs made with federal funds after Hurricane Idalia wreaked havoc on Dixie County, especially on the Gulf Coast.
     People rebuilding without obtaining building permits first, and people restoring structures to a higher degree than 50 percent of the value of the structure without raising it above a certain flood level first may see some repercussions; however, first the county government must conduct inventory reviews of 150 sites before March 1, of the 1,591 total sites that must be reviewed and reports submitted to FEMA before the end of December.
     Wright said that any person who applied for any type of financial aid from FEMA, their name and information about the request for funding was placed on a list.
     “If you took (accepted) any money,” Wright said, “you went on a list. FEMA passed the money out. They went out and took photographs, and they gave money. Now, they (FEMA) came back to the county, and we have to do a report on these houses.”
     Wright said the county must determine if there was a violation of “the 50 percent rule.” In other words, if the money they accepted is in excess of 50 percent the value of the structure, and there was a requirement that restoration or repairs of that structure include raising it above a certain flood plain for that property, and they failed to raise the property as required, then they violated the 50 percent rule.
     Therefore, within a few weeks, Wright must have the reports on the first 150 sites submitted to FEMA.
     Asked what he would need to do to meet the deadline, Wright said he would have to stop all other Building Department work, including issuing new permits or anything else, and focus singularly on these first 150 places.
     Wright said the county must take care. Some people accepted very significant amounts of money -- $40,000, $50,000 or $70,000, he said. Some people did not apply for building permits.
     Some people put the money into repairing their homes, and they are living in their homes, but they did not pull building permits, Wright said. 
     If he finds cause, what is he to do? Wright asked. Is the county going to tell the residents that they are having power shut off to their homes and they must now elevate those structures to the property level to comply with the law?
     There were no answers for how Wright is to meet these deadlines or what he is to tell blatant violators. Wright said this problem is not only in Dixie County, and it is not only from this storm. The problem is statewide and it is from all storms.

Zoning Relief
     Two special exceptions requests were granted to permit one recreational vehicle (RV) in two places where a special exception is needed due to how the areas are zoned.
     In a third action, the County Commission allowed a variance to reduce setback distance to be less of a distance than is required without a variance.
     Kenneth and Lori J. Black were granted a special exception from Dixie County Land Development Regulations to permit one RV in an environmentally sensitive zoning district, at 508 N.E. 756th St., in the Old Town area of Dixie County.
     This is in County Commissioner Daniel Wood III’s district. There were no objections to the request. On a motion by Commissioner Wood, seconded by Commissioner Mark Hatch, a 4-0 vote approved it. The required subsequent resolution also found a 4-0 vote of approval.
     WP RE Ventures 1, LLC, is selling property to Justin Roe, who said he wants to put a camper on the land. Roe’s request for a special exception to permit one RV in an environmentally sensitive zoning district, at 38 N.E. 304th Ave., in Old Town was granted. This is in County Commission Vice Chairman Jody Stephenson’s district.
     There were no objections to the request.
     Commissioner Hatch made a motion to approve the request and Commissioner Wood seconded the motion, which met with a 4-0 vote of approval.
     Allen B. Shaw was granted a variance to allow for a reduction of rear setbacks from 25 feet down to 5 feet for construction of new home at 17 S.W. 879th St., in Steinhatchee.
     This is in Commissioner David Osteen’s district. There were no objections and Commission Hatch mentioned this variance is common in the Planned Residential Development where this house is being built.
     Commissioner Osteen’s motion was seconded by Commissioner Hatch and met with a 4-0 vote of approval.

Other News
Dixie County Commission
Dixie County Emergency Services Chief Darian Brown speaks about several matters regarding fire service, ambulance service and community health during the Thursday night regular twice monthly meeting of the Dixie County Board of County Commissioners. A new fire station, an improved fire station, an improved Emergency Operations Center, a new water tanker truck, the community paramedicine program and collections of debts for ambulance services were discussed with the four members of the Commission present. Vice Chairman Jody Stephenson was in the hospital that night, Commissioner Mark Hatch said.

Dixie County Commission
Greg Bailey, president of North Florida Professional Services, provides updates on library roof repairs, the Dixie County Sheriff’s Office evidence building and various road projects.

Dixie County Commission
Solid Waste Director Tim Johnson said the trash compactor has been repaired. At the County Commission direction, Johnson is reviewing other machines for compressing trash. The current goal is to add one new machine a year.

Dixie County Commission
County Attorney Chana Watson speaks about legal issues. One of those involves property the county has a lien on, and the county is second in lien with a bank being the first lienholder on the property that has significant code violations. Either the county will see money from the sale of the property, or the new owner will do what is required to overcome code violations – bringing it into compliance with the laws.

Dixie County Commission
Cross City vice Mayor J. Ryan Fulford (left) and Dixie County Tourist Development Council Director Kay McCallister tell the County Commission about funding being applied to renovate the old Train Depot, which is a trailhead for the Nature Coast State Trail. This improvement is hoped to be completed before the April 20 celebration of the city’s centennial.

Students honored in absentia
Rollin Hudson recognized

By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 14, 2024 at 7:30 a.m.
The regular twice-monthly meeting of the Chiefland City Commission Monday evening (Feb. 12) opened with a prayer to God, led by City Commissioner Lance Hayes, who is a minister, and a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance by all of the people in attendance.

     Not in attendance but honored in absentia were the Students of the Month for Chiefland. In another recognition, a former City Commission member was recognized for his years of service.
     Among the many other actions, the City Commission also chose to expand the parking area at Buie Park and to grant an RV resort area one more park model site.
     The Students of the Month program started many years ago in Williston. It was adopted then in Chiefland and eventually in Bronson.
     Students are presented with certificates in the Chiefland program.
     The certificate recognizes the students’ academic excellence, leadership, citizenship and attendance at their schools.
     The Chiefland students also receive a $20 gift card to Walmart. The gift card is funded by one of the two Rotary Clubs that are in the Chiefland area.
     The students recognized as Chiefland Student of the Month at the Feb. 12 meeting had their names and comments about them read aloud by City Commissioner Rissa Johns. Those students were Donna Worthington of Chiefland Elementary School, her older brother Dustin Worthington of Chiefland Middle School and Reese Solowski, a young lady who is a student at Chiefland High School.
     An item not on the agenda was the recognition of former Chiefland City Commissioner Rollin Hudson.
     Chiefland Mayor Chris Jones presented Hudson with a plaque for Hudson’s 18 years of service on the City Commission, which he completed before he resigned prior to his last term ending, which accounts for four rather than five votes on matters until a new man or woman is elected to fill that responsibility of representing the residents and visitors of and to Chiefland.
     City Manager Laura Cain, who started working as a city employee in 2003, said she remembers when Hudson joined the city as an elected member of the City Commission soon after she began as an hired worker. She said she considers Hudson to have been a blessing to the city, to the City Commission and to Cain herself.
     When Chiefland City Manager Mary Ellzey retired, Cain said, Hudson helped the new appointee remember history from the city government. Cain added that although he is no longer on the City Commission, she plans to call Hudson in the future if she has a question that she thinks he may be able to answer.
     Cain thanked Hudson for his service and that she believes he will be missed.
     City commissioners Hayes, Johns and Norman Weaver, added to comments that Mayor Jones and City manager Cain shared about Hudson’s work on the City Commission.

Other Matters
     The City Commission by a 4-0 vote approved a resolution to add one more park model site (in exchange for an existing RV site) at the Southern Leisure RV Resort. On Sept. 25, 2023, the Commission had approved adding 12 park model sites to the RV resort.
     * Parking space for about 100 more cars at Buie Park will be increased by spending approximately $27,000 for materials and labor after a long discussion by the four City Commission members and a number of people who spoke from the audience. Money will be taken from the contingency fund to pay for the improvement. The installation of fencing on the north side of the park will add parking spaces. A portion of one of the outfield softball fences is being moved inward toward the play area. After the new designated additional parking area is built and opened, the new added parking spaces will be available as parking spaces during normal operational park hours. The City Commission voted 4-0 to expand the parking area. The work may be completed by city workers, and even Police Chief Scott Anderson himself to reduce the estimated $27,000 expense by as much as almost half.


Needles the Community Cat of Jemlands
saunters into feral cat heaven

Needles and Jeff check out Jeff's new telescope
In this photo, Needles the Community Cat of Jemlands is looking out as his human friend Jeff M. Hardison tries out his new telescope 0n Jan. 25,  2024.

Photos and Videos By HardisonInk.com © Feb. 11, 2024
All Rights Reserved

By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 11, 2024 at 9:45 a.m.
He lived outdoors his whole life, showing up in 2017 after a hurricane.
    He lived through every hurricane, freeze and other tough weather conditions outside in the unrecorded subdivision known as Jemlands for at least the past six years.
     Needles the Community Cat of Jemlands (2017-Feb. 8, 2024) sauntered into feral cat heaven when he literally disappeared on Thursday (Feb. 8).
     The amazing outdoor cat appeared to be feeling ill for the previous few days, and his caretakers prepared for his passing because the only way to get him to a veterinarian would be to traumatize him more than would be fair. He had one visit to a wonderful vet, who helped him have enough strength to not be put in a cage or trap ever again.






Above are just a few of the many pictures of Needles taken during his years in Jemlands.
Photos By HardisonInk.com © Feb. 11, 2024
All Rights Reserved

     Needles chose to make his final disappearance, and he vanished either the night of Feb. 7 or the wee hours of Feb. 8. He did disappear on a nightly basis for his whole time as the Community Cat of Jemlands, which is an unrecorded subdivision in Levy County between Chiefland and Cedar Key. However, on those occasions when Big Daddy Jeff would go looking for rockets launching to the east from 150 miles away, Needles would find the man and join him in the rocket launch programs.
     He was named “Needles” because when he was first seen, he was hidden in pine needles. 
     Needles was the poster cat for the Levy County Animal Services Trap-Neuter-Release program.
     To read about that, click on the underlined words to the right -- Community Cat program shows 100 percent success in first month in Levy County (Jan. 30, 2018).
     Needles enjoyed eating twice a day, once in the morning at about 6 a.m. and once in the evening between 5 and 6 p.m., at The Ink Pad.
     He would accompany both Jeff and Sharon Hardison as they wandered around the property. And as noted, on almost every rocket launch viewing occasion, in the daylight or in the dark, Needles would join Big Daddy Jeff as they sojourned into a neighbor’s hayfield, which has now become a planted pine crop.

In this video seen on YouTube by clicking HERE, Needles is seen as he looks into a stealth camera after an armadillo is first seen on the film - seen by clicking HERE.

In this 2018 Stealth Camera Video Needles is seen on the front porch of the residential part of The Ink Pad. (Seen by clicking on any of the words to the left.)

Needles the community cat of Jemlands goes on cat patrol at The Ink Pad on the evening of Nov. 2, 2019, as seen in his silhouette and video by clicking HERE.

     Needles was a great cat. He brought several gifts of small squirrels, pocket gophers and even a couple of small birds, because he could not understand the concept of how those gifts were not welcomed.
     He fought any animal who crossed his path, leaving a tooth or two in one or more of those adversaries. As for humans, he avoided them, except for a couple.
     Needles was amazing. He would always come when he was called, until Thursday morning (Feb. 8). He had been sleeping in a bed created for him for his last couple of nights because he had just quit eating and then he quit drinking. 
     This feral cat just went where he could not be found when it was time to saunter into Cat Heaven. 
     Cats In Action notes that “The lifespan of a feral cat is generally less than that of a house cat. The claim that feral cats only live about two years is only supported by studies of unsterilized cats living with no human support. Feral cats that are sterilized, vaccinated and well fed have been seen to live 7-10 years and longer.”
     Needle was six to eight years old. For a feral cat, he enjoyed a full life with fun almost every day after sauntering onto The Ink Pad property.
     Needles was cared for because when he first showed up there was a dog that ate cats living in the area. To reduce the odds of him becoming a menu item, he was encouraged to stay in the area of The Ink Pad. He wandered, though, all over Jemlands and even to some planted pines to the west of the unrecorded subdivision.
     “He will be missed a lot,” Jeff Hardison said. “I am sad that his time with us is gone. I know that like me, Sharon will miss Needles. I know Inky has been looking out the glass door – only to see Needles not showing up anymore.
     “Inky noticed Goldy had disappeared when she went to Cat Heaven. Now Needles has gone to join Goldy and all the other pets in that realm,” Hardison said.


Employees honored
County Commission
Pausing for a photo opportunity are (from left) County Commission Chair Desiree Mills, Connie Conley, Commissioner Rock Meeks, Raymond Castell, Commissioner Tim Hodge, Leatha Keene, Commission Vice Chair John Meeks, Karen Waters, Dana Stebbins and County Commissioner Matt Brooks. (Not Pictured, Amy Jones)

By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 6, 2024 at 10 p.m.

     BRONSON – Levy County Director of Human Resources Jacqueline Martin and the Levy County Board of County Commissioners honored seven county employees for their service to the residents and visitors of Levy County.
     The presentation of milestone awards happened near the start of the regular twice-monthly meeting of the Levy County Commission.
     Human Resources Director Martin said the employees honored that Tuesday morning (Feb. 6) are being publicly acclaimed for completion of five continuous years of service and at the end of every additional year of service for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2023. With the meeting schedule of January, Martin said, it caused a delay in presenting these certificates.
     Leatha Keene has served in the Levy County Emergency Management Department for 25 years. Connie Conley has served in the Levy County Transit Department for 20 years. Amy Jones has served 2o years in the Department of Public Safety (also known as Levy County Fire Rescue). Raymond Castell has served 10 years in the Solid Waste Transfer Station and Landfill Department. Karen Waters has served five years in the Construction and Maintenance Department, and Dana Stebbins has served in the Road Department for five years.
     Commission Chair Desiree Jerrels Mills (Dist. 3), Vice Chair John Meeks (Dist. 1), Commissioner Tim Hodge (Dist. 4), Commissioner Rock Meeks (Dist. 2) and Commissioner Matt Brooks (Dist. 5) joined the employees for a photo opportunity.
     Chair Mills thanked everyone for their service to the people of Levy County. It is a humbling experience to stand with all of them, she said, adding that Levy County would not be as great as it is without the service from the members of the county staff.


Veterans services director honored
County Commission
Providing a photo opportunity is the Levy County Commission and Levy County Veterans Services Director Olajuwon ‘Ollie”’ White. Seen here (from left) are County Commissioner Matt Brooks, County Commission Chair Desiree Mills, County Commissioner Rock Meeks, County Commissioner Tim Hodge and Commission Vice Chair John Meeks.

By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 6, 2024 at 10:30 p.m.
     BRONSON –
The Levy County Commission on Tuesday morning honored Recognizing Olajuwon “Ollie” White for his leadership and support of the nation’s heroes and for being named 2023 Veteran of the Year.
     Commission Vice Chair John Meeks said it was with extreme honor that he presented Levy County Veterans Services Director White with an award.
     The dedication Director White has shown to the veterans of Levy County and beyond, Vice Chair Meeks said, is extraordinary.
     The benefits White has helped Levy County veteran receive, which they earned through their military service, “… ranks in the millions of dollars,” Meeks said. 
     Meeks said White “gets down in the trenches” and he visits VFWs, AmVets, the American Legion to meet with veterans if that is where they are comfortable. White will go to veterans’ residences, their places of employment or wherever is needed to explain the benefits they can receive, Meeks said.
     Meeks mentioned that White was named as the 2023 Veteran of the Year for United States House of Representatives Third District of Florida by U.S. Rep. Kathryn Christine “Kat” Cammack. That district covers many counties, including Levy County.
     Meeks said the County Commission felt it should honor him as well in his home county.
     Levy County Commission Chair Desiree Mills said she has had firsthand experiences with White’s helping veterans. She said he is amazing and that he bends over backwards to make sure veterans and their families receive the benefits they deserve.
     “I can’t thank him enough,” Chair Mills said. 
     She said the people of Levy County are blessed to have him here as the director of veterans’ services in this county. She said his work is topnotch.
     Commissioners Rock Meeks and Tim Hodge told White they appreciate his service.
     Commissioner Matt Brooks, who is a veteran, said that when he came home from service, it was no easy task to navigate healthcare and being able to use benefits. 
     “We really appreciate you taking the time with the veterans,” Brooks said. “Everything you do – not only Levy County, because I know you are helping veterans all over. And thank you for the professionalism you bring to our staff, and just your ‘Can Do’ attitude and your willingness to jump in.


Faith and community leaders
set for April 5 conference
Collaboration focuses on mental health

By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 31, 2024 at 9 a.m.
The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) and LSF (Lutheran Services Florida) Health Systems are slated to rally faith and community leaders together at an event on April 5 at the For Vets Lodge of Otter Springs Park and Campground in Gilchrist County.
     The title of the event is Uplift Tri-County.

     Located between Trenton and the City of Fanning Springs, the park and campground is planned to grow as the Project Valor facility to help veterans returning to civilian life.
     Beyond this underlying program for veterans now and growing into the future, though, this event scheduled for April 5 is a rally of faith and community leaders to work on a common cause of community wellness and health.
     A flyer for the event shows DCF and LSF Health Systems believe collaboration with the faith community is a critical resource for community wellness and health. The LSF Health Systems’ Uplift Communities initiative is aligned with the Governor’s Faith and Community Initiative.
     Uplift Communities was launched in 2022, the flyer notes, to bring together behavioral health providers, community stakeholders and faith leaders who are committed to the health and wellbeing of their communities.
     The objective is to bring greater awareness of mental health issues as well as the resources to meet the needs caused by those issues in rural communities such as the Tri-County Area of Levy County, Gilchrist County and Dixie County.
     Lutheran Services Florida Health Systems is a not-for-profit managing entity contracted with the DCF to ensure access to evidence-based behavioral healthcare services for people facing poverty who are uninsured or underinsured.
     LSF Health Systems serves a 23-county region in North Florida, which includes Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Lake, Lafayette, Levy, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Sumter, Suwannee, Union and Volusia counties.
     Through this system-wide approach, people at risk for -- or diagnosed with -- mental health and/or substance use disorders are able to find help, Services provided through contracted behavioral health care providers include prevention, intervention, treatment and care coordination to support optimal recovery.
     The stated vision of LSF Health System shows “We envision communities where every child, adult, and family has access to the behavioral health care services they need to live well and be well.”
      The stated mission of LSF Health Systems shows “Our mission is to develop and sustain an integrated system of behavioral health care through a network of services built on integrity, innovation, and collaboration.”
      Interested parties who want more information about the April 5 event at Otter Springs Park and Campground, 6470 S.W. 80th Ave., Trenton, including how to register to participate, are asked to send an email to uplift@lsfnet.org.

First Published Feb. 1, 2011 at 8 a.m.
     On Feb. 1, 2011, HardisonInk.com came into existence on the Internet. On All Saints Day - Nov. 1, 2011, The Christian Press section on The Life Page of HardisonInk.com started, which was about nine months after the start of the daily news website. The name "The Christian Press" was derived from an encounter a decade earlier in 2001 in St. Petersburg, when and where a man mentioned to a journalist that this particular journalist must work for "The Christian Press." Although the presumption by the man about that journalist was incorrect and misplaced, the name sounded good. And the journalist said that if he could work for The Christian Press, then that certainly would be the publication to serve.
     Since Nov. 1, 2011, The Christian Press section of this page has run daily devotionals from several individuals who contributed over the past years. There were two days in 2018 when the daily devotional did not run due to a journalist requiring emergency orthopedic surgery on broken bones in his left arm and wrist. That surgically added metal, though, makes that part of that arm even more able to withstand forces. Many daily devotionals are pulled from Strength for Service to God and Country (Whitmore & Stone © 1942; Renewed 1969 by Norman E. Nygaard; Second revised edition © 2002 Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, Providence House Publishers). The journalist who is the sole proprietor and owner of HardisonInk.com (Jeff M. Hardison) notes his appreciation for the use of those devotionals from that now-defunct publishing company, and for the many other contributors who have helped people over the past decade-plus now. Strength for Service to God and Country's daily devotionals include many from a time when the United States of America was a partner in a World War, both WWI and WWII. This journalist welcomes contributions of daily devotionals. Daily devotional authors are asked to please send only their original works to hardisonink@gmail.com. Americans are reminded that all religions, having no religion and or being a person who endorses anti-religion are all protected as part of the freedoms from government intervention, as are other benefits from being an American.


Saturday, March 2, 2024 at 7:30 a.m.


Read John 20:24-29

     Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
-- John 20:27 (KJV)

     “The hand,” said Galen of Pergamon (physician and philosopher), “is the instrument of instruments.”
     In prayer, we lift the hands; in bargains, we clasp them; in blessings, we place them on the head; in taking an oath, we lay them on the Bible; in matrimony, we join them; and in death, we rest them side by side on the bosom. The hand is an instrument of sacrifice, suffering, service and victory.
     To Thomas, His prejudiced disciple, Jesus presented His hands with the nailprints as the badges of His identity. “Behold my hands!” Indeed, “we shall know Him by the prints of the nails in His hands.” Said an old saint to an impostor, “You are not the Christ! You haven’t any nailprints in your hands.” The scars have a message for Jesus as well as for us. They keep the experience of the Cross before Him forever.
     When I was a lad, my mother frequently had me tie a string on my finger when she wanted me to remember something. Why on the finger? Easy enough. The hand is never out of sight. A string there is a constant reminder. Yes, the prints of the nails which He ever sees regardless of the position of the hands, tell Him over and over again the story of Calvary.
     Further, they are the blessed forget-me-nots of His own. We are engraved in the scars in His hands. Wherever we are, at home or abroad, on land or sea, at the battlefront or in the S.O.S., we are assured that He is mindful of us. The nailprints keep us constantly before Him. “Behold my hands!”
     OUR HEAVENLY FATHER, Thou hast loved us and brought us through the sacrifices of Thy dear Son. We rejoice in Thy love. To know that in Christ, Thou art always mindful of us gives us strength in what would otherwise be the hour of our weakness. Constantly watch over us and bless us in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Fred B. Wyand Sr.
First Methodist Church
Williamson, West Virginia
Strength for Service to God and Country
(Whitmore & Stone © 1942; Renewed 1969 by Norman E. Nygaard; Second revised edition © 2002 Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, Providence House Publishers)


Outdoor Truths Ministry
By Gary Miller © Feb. 26, 2024 at 6 a.m.

     I’m a sucker for beginnings. I’m also a dreamer and optimist. And beginnings are the dreamer’s drug. I think this week will be better. This year will be the year. This opportunity will be the one that puts me over the top. This time will be different. And it shows up in everything from my health goals to the upcoming turkey season. This season will be the one where I locate all the birds and outwit my limit. Yes, this is the one. I don’t know how many times I’ve thought those thoughts and said those words. Not only about my hunting successes, but about things that are so much more important. Has my optimism come to fruition? In some things it has and in others I am still struggling with the enemy of my dreams. Discipline. Yes discipline. Someone said, the distance between your dreams and reality is discipline. I think they are right. The year I tagged more birds than any other year, was the year I got up nearly every morning and went to the woods, if only to hunt for an hour. I can remember those mornings when I really wanted to lie in bed. But I got up and went. Most of the time I should have stayed in bed but being persistent in my going ended up paying off. It’s like the phrase I have heard concerning the stock market. “Time in the market is better than timing the market.”
     I believe that is true. It is the consistent, steady, even boring days that ultimately lead to the successes we all want. It’s the mundane days of exercise and diet that build the healthy body. It’s the daily input of positive information that builds the healthy mind. And it’s the daily deposit of truth that builds the spiritual life. What is this spiritual life? It is the culmination of every other part of our life. A healthy spiritual life will be a cheerleader for physical and mental growth. It will fend off lies and protect us with truth. It will encourage dreams through the path of discipline. But it will also give us perhaps what we need more than anything else. Grace and mercy when we fall or fail. That’s why the greatest beginning might be the start of each day. The good promise of God is found there without stop.

    The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
     Great is his faithfulness;
     his mercies begin afresh each morning.
-- Lamentations 3:22-23 (New Living Translation)

-- Gary Miller  gary@outdoortruths.org

     Gary Miller has written the Outdoor Truths articles for 20-plus years now. He also has written four books which include compilations of his articles and a father/son devotional. He speaks at wild-game dinners and men's events for churches and associations. Gary Miller's website is located at http://www.outdoortruths.org/.

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