Fanning Springs Easter Egg Hunt
draws hundreds of children

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Fanning Springs Fire Chief Ron McQueen unloads one of the bicycles to be given to a child at the Easter Egg Hunt.

Story and Photos

By Jeff M. Hardison © March 29, 2015
     FANNING SPRINGS – Hundreds of children hunted for Easter eggs in and around Fort Fanning on Saturday (March 28), thanks to the Fanning Springs Fire Rescue Department and several volunteer organizations, and sponsors.

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     The fire department has been the leader in making this annual event happen as it went into its third year this weekend. Fanning Springs Fire Chief Ron McQueen, Deputy Chief Elania Spain and Lt. Ken Missel are the officers of the department who were at the top of the command structure.

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Fanning Springs Deputy Chief Elania Spain holds a Jelly Bean Racer, which provided for some of the fun experienced by children on Saturday at Fort Fanning.

     Deputy Chief Spain said she was impressed by Firefighter Brett Boyce who stayed all day and into the night on Friday with her an Chief McQueen as the three of them prepped for the Saturday morning unfolding of the project that was assembled with the efficiency of a well-made Swiss watch.

Fanning032815J     Among the other Fanning Springs firefighters pitching in to assure success were Chris Anderson, Quinn Lesher, Mike MacKenzie, Roy Spain and Will May.

Fanning Springs Firefighter Mike MacKenzie carries little bicycles to be given to children on Saturday.

     Deputy Chief Spain another set of the many groups of significant volunteers are “the ladies from Silver Oaks,” which is a subdivision in Fanning Springs. This group stuff 5,000 Easter eggs with candy, Deputy Chief Spain said.
     Traditionally there are 350 or so children who show up for the event.
     This year, Deputy Chief Spain said, the Easter Egg Hunt festivities are even better than the two previous years. In addition to the 5,000 plastic Easter eggs, there were eight bicycles given away.
     Children also enjoyed seeing Smokey Bear from the Florida Forest Service. The Florida Forest Service brought a mini-bulldozer that puts out bubbles that floated in the air. The group brought a mini brush truck, too, for children to enjoy seeing.

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Greg Mills (left) and Lt. Ken Missel move a popcorn cooker from a place they thought it would be put to its proper location thanks to guidance by Deputy Chief Elania Spain.
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Fanning032815H     A clown named Cookie provided a face-painting service for free.
     Fanning Springs Community Church sent Pastor Alan Harmon and Pastor David Jones, and other helpers, to provide popcorn and to serve food. There were free hotdogs and drinks, as well as free popcorn.

Cookie the Clown and Deputy Chief Elania Spain pause for a moment before the clown set up her face-painting area out on one of the grassy parts of the park.

     The bounce house and bounce slide kept children busy. There were many other games, including the jelly bean ride.
     In addition to Smokey Bear, children saw the Easter Bunny, who came to Fort Fanning from wherever the Easter Bunny lives.
     Fanning Springs Fire Rescue had trucks for children to tour as well.
     There were electric generators provided by Gilchrist County Emergency Management, and they were carted to the scene by Director David Peaton. Fort Fanning is in Gilchrist County.
     The entire event went very smoothly and a good time was had by all. To see the first stages of the final assemblage of what was required Saturday morning was an experience in itself. The chief and deputy chief directed their volunteers with exact instructions to create the most inviting environment for families to enjoy the fun of the day.
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Fanning Springs Deputy Chief Elania Spain holds a couple of the many containers of fun items that were given to children on Saturday.
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Peyton Spain, 8, and Ethan Spain, 12, hold a container of Easter egg coloring items that were something that every child received on Saturday.
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Gilchrist County Emergency Management Director David Peaton arrives with generators to create a source of electricity for machines on Saturday.


Chamber Market
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Some of the items available at the Chiefland Chamber Farmer's Market on Saturday (March 28) are seen here. The Chiefland Chamber Farmer's Market first opened on Aug. 23, 2014, next in the park that is next to the Historic Train Museum in downtown Chiefland. That farmer’s market is currently scheduled to be open on the second and fourth Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The actual Chiefland Farmers Flea Market is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The flea market is located behind the BubbaQue's Barbecue Restaurant in Chiefland, off of U.S. Highway 19 just northwest of the intersection with U.S. Highway 129.
Photo by Bill Kilborn


Student accepts softball scholarship
at Santa Fe College

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Jasmine Parker signs the agreement to become a Saints Softball Team member as her father Quintin Parker and her mother Katrina Parker watch. Both parents love their daughter and will continue helping her as she enters the college scene.

Story, Photos and Video

By Jeff M. Hardison © March 26, 2015
     BRONSON – A Bronson Middle High School senior signed a paper Wednesday afternoon (March 25) that puts her on the Santa Fe Saints Softball Team and gives her a college scholarship.
     The high school principal, a couple of her former coaches and her future head coach all commented about the signing of Jasmine Parker.

     Her parents shared their feelings about their daughter, and a few friends gave their perspective on the athlete as well.


In this video, Jasmine Parker thanks everyone for being part of her special day, and she especially thanked her parents for financing her participation in sports. She also thanked her parents for helping at all times, through the highs and lows of her life so far.

     There were several people in the school’s media center when the action started at 4 p.m.

     Jasmine Parker was honored by the ceremonial event. Her parents Quintin and Katrina Parker sat on either side of her at the table where she signed the agreement.
     BMHS Dean of Students Sherrie Schuler opened the program and served as emcee.
     BMHS Principal John Lott Jr. said Jasmine Parker is the epitome of the type of student educators like to get behind. She has consistently proved herself on and off the field, Lott said, in academics, with her behavior and in every other facet of student life at the high school.
     BMHS Softball Coach Robert Patterson said he only saw the final part of the stellar player’s career in high school softball, however he is proud to have been part of that history. Patterson told the graduating senior that she should think of the softball scholarship as a job, and that she will have to produce for the new team she is joining.

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Santa Fe College Assistant Softball Coach Art Bautista stands behind the new player for the Saints - Jasmine Parker as the young lady's parents Quintin and Katrina Parker sit on either side of her.

     “This day is Jasmine Parker Day,” Coach Patterson said.
     Another coach spoke well of the player.
     Coach Bruce Gillingham of the travel softball team named Venom Fast Pitch said the excellent attitude and dedication this player has shown him is something that surpasses any that he has seen before. Coach Gillingham said he hopes to see her continue on this track as she goes into the next level.
     Katrina Parker said she thanks God first and foremost for her daughter. The player’s mother also thanked each and every one of the BMHS staff, the family members, and the friends who helped her daughter in her success.
     Quintin Parker said he thanks God for his daughter graduating from BMHS and going on to college.
     Santa Fe College Softball Assistant Coach Art Bautista apologized on behalf of Head Coach Christine Ahern, who was at her mother’s 83rd birthday party.
     Coach Ahern sent a message for Coach Bautista to read on her behalf.
     “I am sorry that I could not be there in person but wanted to say we are looking forward to working with Jasmine,” Coach Ahern said, “and to seeing her in a Saints’ uniform. She has already been studying here at the number 1 school in the nation, so she is already part of Saints’ Nation. We are happy to have her join us and to watching her develop as a player.  Congratulations, Jasmine.”


Chiefland Rotary plans
11th annual fishing tournament

By Jeff M. Hardison © March 26, 2015
     CEDAR KEY -- The Chiefland Rotary Club is planning to conduct its 11th Annual Fishing Tournament as it launches fishermen into the waters from Cedar Key on May 2 at daybreak.
     This is a fundraiser to generate revenue for the club to award to various charitable causes.
     Once again, there will be a Captain's Dinner and Calcutta the night before. During the Calcutta, participants can guess which fishermen will triumph. Also known as a "Calcutta pool," this practice is used in golf tournaments on occasions. The Calcutta is a game of chance where a prize of money is awarded from a pool of wagers on a contest of skill limited to amateur and professional sporting events, other than horse racing.
     There is a plethora of information in the Florida Statutes showing what constitutes authorized gambling in this state. One online resource can be seen by clicking HERE.
     As for the competitive fishing tournament which requires skill, that takes the issue of fishermen wining cash away from the disallowed forms of gambling in Florida. There is more skill than a gamble when it comes to a fishing tournament.
     There are two levels of sponsorship for the Chiefland Rotary Club's fishing tournament. The $500 sponsorship includes a boat entry, two captain dinners, a listing on the sponsor board at the weigh-in, and a listing on the tee-shirt in larger print than the $200 sponsor. The $200 sponsor gets one captain dinner, a listing on the sponsor board at the weigh-in, and a listing on the tee-shirt in smaller print than the $500 sponsor.
     To become a sponsor of the fishing tournament, please contact a member of the Chiefland Rotary Club.


4H group visits caves
Story and Photos
By Maggie Pogue © March 24, 2015 @ 7:47 a.m.

     LECANTO -- The Outdoor Adventures Club of Levy County 4-H went cave exploring in Lecanto at Dames Cave, in the Withlacoochee State Forest in Citrus County.
     The cave system includes several openings that the group explored one by one. Some were very small with holes in the walls to crawl through between rooms. Others were large with big "ballrooms" that many people could fit in.
     The caves were chilly and felt great on a warm day!

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Bridge art contest opens for
Dixie County students

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Vandals have defaced this bridge.

Published March 16, 2015 @ 3:07 p.m.

     DIXIE COUNTY -- The Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge has suffered severe vandalism at the hands of young lovers, and those who just want to ruin the loveliness, peace, and tranquility of the Dixie Mainline. The Ranger tried to cover the many names and rude language with spray paint, but there were just too many bridges and too many egocentric vandals.
     The Refuge's heavy equipment operator, Jason Coates, who oversees the historic Dixie Mainline, has a vision of beautiful bridges: ones that blend in with the striking natural beauty of the Refuge. Several artists are vying for a bridge to paint, but Refuge management wants to feature the art of local young artists.
     Therefore, the Refuge is announcing an art contest for Dixie County secondary school students, grades 9-12; the winner(s) of which will be painting their art on one of the bridges. Judges will be from the Refuge staff, the Refuge Friends group, and local artists. They are looking for artists from Dixie County High School to submit a colorful sketch or draft of their creative idea to be painted on the bridge(s). The Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys Refuges will fund the paint for the artistic work. Hopefully, the Dixie Mainline remains a place of natural beauty, and not like the concrete walls of a big city.
     After the entries are judged, the winners will be notified. The bridges will be prepped for the artwork, so that painting can be done during warmer weather. Hidden long-range cameras will be erected by federal officers, so that individuals and vehicles can be recorded and identified for prosecution if the vandalism persists.
     All entries should be mailed to Lower Suwannee Refuge headquarters at: 16450 N.W. 31st Place, Chiefland, FL 32626. Each entry should have the student’s name, grade, and a contact phone number should also be included. Entries must be postmarked no later than April 17. For more information, call 352-493-0238, extension 223.

-- UPDATED --

SUN.   MARCH 29  4:27 p.m.
Levy, Dixie, Gilchrist counties


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