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3,731 Fla. deaths
from COVID-19;

200,111 Positive Cases In Fla.;
13,021 New Cases In 24 hours
402 Tri-County Area Cases
13 New Cases In 24 Hours

By Jeff M. Hardison © July 5, 2020 at 3:10 p.m.
 As of approximately 12 p.m. on Sunday (July 5), the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) said that 3,731 individuals’ deaths in Florida are being credited to resulting from symptoms caused by COVID-19 since January.


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Gilchrist County Tourist Development Council

    The FDOH reported were 200,111 cases of COVID-19 in Florida since the department began counting. That is an increase in Florida of 13,021 new cases in 24 hours. 
     There are 402 positive COVID-19 cases so far in the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties. There are five reported COVID-19 deaths so far in the Tri-County Area.
     There are 29 hospitalizations so far from the Tri-County Area.
     One indicator of the potentially fatal virus, is a numeric measure from the FDOH, which shows the following – according to the FDOH Dashboard.


FDOH advises all residents to
wear masks in public
and socially distance.

Levy County – 210 positive, 1 death, 17 hospitalizations
Dixie County – 78 positive, 4 deaths, 12 hospitalizations
Gilchrist County – 114 positive, 0 deaths, 0 hospitalizations

     The FDOH Dashboard usually is updated once daily in the Tallahassee office. 
     COVID-19 can be transmitted by people who show no symptoms.
     The best method to reduce the odds of infection and the subsequent symptoms of serious illness and even death is to limit contact with other humans.
     To find the most updated information and guidance on COVID-19, please visit the FDOH’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage by clicking HERE
     For information and advisories from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), please visit the CDC COVID-19 website by clicking HERE.
     For answers to any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact the FDOH’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling 1-866-779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours per day. Inquiries also may be emailed to
     For another set of data, former Florida Department of Health geographic data scientist Rebekah Jones has created Those numbers are different than the FDOH. Rather than running two sets of numbers, though, this is the link for that set, and it will be run here daily with the FDOH COVID-19 news.



COVID-19 Levy County Dixie County Gilchrist County Florida
These graphs created by Sharon Hardison from information provided by the Florida Department of Health show a steady upward trend for death of Floridians from June 1 through June 30, and a similar upward trend for positive cases of COVID-19 in the Tri-County Area during the same one-month period. The method to stop sickness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 is to follow pandemic hygiene methods that are easily found at


Mayor Emeritus
R. Gerald Hethcoat passes away

Billie Earl and R. Gerald Hethcoat
In this photo from an event on Nov. 5, 2019, Williston Mayor Emeritus R. Gerald Hethcoat was honored with a proclamation by Williston Mayor Jerry Robinson. Seen here, are Mayor Emeritus Hethcoat and his wife Billie Earl Hethcoat. The Community Room in Williston City Hall has been named the R. Gerald Hethcoat Community Room. The proclamation notes Hethcoat and his family moved to this city in 1973. He served for 43 years as 'a wonderful Ambassador for the City of Williston.’ The proclamation notes Hethcoat was fire chief for four years, served on City Council for 21 years and served as mayor for 17 years. He is the mayor who instituted the Student of the Month program, as well as many other positive things for the benefit of the residents and visitors of Williston. Because of Mayor Emeritus Hethcoat’s patriotic, dedicated, faithful and loyal service in the performance of his duties, the Williston City Hall Community Center is renamed the R. Gerald Hethcoat Community Center.

Photo By Jeff M. Hardison © Nov. 7, 2019

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © July 1, 2020 at 5:10 p.m.
* Updated July 2, 2020 at 2:10 p.m.
All Rights Reserved
Williston Mayor Emeritus R. Gerald Hethcoat, a legendary leader of the easternmost municipality of Levy County, passed away today (July 1, 2020).

R. Gerald Hethcoat
In this photo, Mayor Emeritus R. Gerald Hethcoat is seen holding a plaque with the longitude and latitude of Williston, Florida.
Photo By Jeff M. Hardison © April 11, 2018

     Click HERE to read the archived story from April 11, 2018, which shows Mayor R. Gerald Hethcoat completing some of his final acts before becoming Mayor Emeritus Hethcoat. There is link to a three-minute video where Williston Mayor Jerry Robinson reads a proclamation about Mayor Hethcoat.
     Williston Mayor Jerry Robinson said late Wednesday afternoon (July 1) that he and Hethcoat were friends since Robinson moved to Williston.
     “When we (Jerry and Marguerite Robinson) moved to town (in 2002),” Mayor Robinson said, “within a day or two, he was sitting (in a vehicle) in our driveway. He introduced himself as the mayor and I was impressed. We’ve been friends ever since then.”

*     Williston Interim City Manager Dennis Strow, who is normally the police chief of the city, offered his insight about the late Mayor Hethcoat in a telephone conversation Thursday afternoon (July 2).
     “He loved his family and the Lord,” Chief Strow said. “He got his wings at 9:40 yesterday morning.”
     Strow first met Hethcoat in the 1960s when Strow was a reserve deputy with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, even before he moved to Williston and became the fire chief.
     “He was one-of-a-kind,” Strow said of Hethcoat. “He always made you smile.”
     Hethcoat suffered from polio as a child, Strow said, and that’s why he limped.
     “He overcame any obstacles,” Strow said. “Nothing ever stopped him.”
     Strow who has been the police chief in Williston since August of 2011, said Mayor Hethcoat is the man who let him know he had been selected as chief. As the mayor, Hethcoat was Strow’s immediate supervisor.
     “He became my boss,” Strow said, “and he became a very dear friend. He was always a stand-up, good, wholesome, down-to-earth guy.
     “I would say, ‘How are you boss?’” Strow continued. “He would say ‘I’m the best you ever saw.’”
     The chief said a few weeks ago he was having breakfast with the mayor and then Hethcoat asked to just ride around the city.
     “So, we rode around the place he loved,” Strow said.
     Hethcoat has been put to rest now, Strow said Tuesday. Family members came from a couple of states. The funeral was very intimate, because there is no way to conduct a large funeral with the COVID-29 epidemic happening now.
     A celebration of the life of R. Gerald Hethcoat is anticipated to happen in the future, Interim City Manager (Chief) Strow said.


LifeSouth seeks recovered
COVID-19 patients
to donate convalescent plasma

By LifeSouth Community Blood Centers
Communications Department
Published July 1, 2020 at 11:10 a.m.
As COVID-19 cases continue to increase, the need for convalescent plasma is on the rise.
     LifeSouth Community Blood Centers is partnering with medical centers in Florida, Georgia and Alabama to find plasma from blood donors who have recovered from the virus to help critically ill patients fighting the virus.
     Convalescent plasma is the liquid portion of blood collected from blood donors who have recovered from COVID-19. Recovered patients form antibodies, these antibodies are found in plasma. Convalescent plasma therapy is considered an investigational drug by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Convalescent plasma therapy is widely used as a treatment by doctors in many local hospitals to help severely ill coronavirus patients. When transfused, the antibodies can help patients recover against the virus.
     LifeSouth is now testing all successful blood donors for COVID-19 antibodies in search of convalescent plasma. Healthy blood donors who may have been exposed or recovered from COVID-19 are asked to donate. As part of the normal blood donations process, a test will be performed on the donor’s blood to determine if antibodies are present in the plasma.
     LifeSouth’s Vice President of Medical Services, Dr. Chris Lough, explains that there is no nasal swab used on blood donors.
     “Unlike a test to determine if someone currently has the COVID-19 virus,” Dr. Lough said, “the antibody screen we use tests a blood sample collected during donation. Individuals should understand that we are not testing for the live virus itself. If you are interested in knowing if you are infected with COVID-19, you should visit your physician or locate a public testing site.”
     Convalescent plasma donors must be fully recovered from the virus and symptom-free before coming to LifeSouth to donate.
     LifeSouth asks for help spreading the word to those who have recovered from COVID-19. Potential donors should visit or call 888-795-2707 to schedule an appointment.


Allegedly convicted felon
charged with possession
of a firearm after woman
is fatally shot in Gilchrist County

By Jeff M. Hardison © June 30, 2020 at 3:10 p.m.
     TRENTON –
A 57-year-old Branford man was arrested last night (Monday, June 29) for being suspected as a felon in possession of a firearm after he is believed to have shot a woman who died, according to information in a Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office press release.
     The GCSO received a 9-1-1 call just after 11 p.m. on June 29, the GCSO said, regarding a person who had been shot at 2679 N.W. 91st Lane, Branford.
     This is in the northwest quadrant of Gilchrist County.
     Upon arrival, GCSO deputies discovered one victim, Cindy Coburn, 63, had suffered from a gunshot wound, the GCSO said.
     The woman was transported to a Gainesville hospital by Gilchrist County Emergency Medical Services, the GCSO said.
     Coburn did not survive her injuries and was pronounced dead at the hospital, the GCSO said.
     Paul Kitchen, 57, also a resident of 2679 N.W. 91st Lane, was identified as the individual who shot Coburn, the GCSO said.
     Kitchen was identified as a convicted felon, the GCSO said, and he was arrested for possession of firearm by convicted felon, a second-degree felony.
     Kitchen asserted a self-defense claim, the GCSO said, which is being fully investigated by GCSO before additional charges are considered.
     The GCSO will be consulting the Office of the State Attorney, Eighth Judicial Circuit, regarding this case and any additional charges from this incident, the GCSO said. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement assisted the GCSO in this case.


State halts on-premises
consumption of alcohol at bars

By Jeff M. Hardison © June 26, 2020 at 3:10 p.m.
Bar owners and bar patrons in Florida found today (Friday, June 26) that Secretary Halsey Beshears, the head of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation issued an emergency executive order effective immediately to change where people can drink alcoholic beverages in Florida – effective today.
     Beshears, a Republican who is a former member of the Florida House of Representatives has served as the secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation since January of 2019.
     In his executive order, Beshears notes the background regarding the state’s emergency management plan regarding the COVID-19 pandemic for the mitigation, response and recovery of the economy,
     Given the facts, he ordered effective immediately that “All vendors licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on premises who derive more than 50 percent of gross revenue” from those sales shall suspend on-premises consumption of those beverages.
     Those vendors, however, can sell those beverages in sealed  containers for off-premises consumption.
     Public food service establishments defined as restaurants under Florida Statutes, Chapter 509, may continue to operate for on-premises consumption of food and beverages at tables, with the restrictions noted in Executive Order 20-139 “Restaurants and other establishments, and bars and other vendors licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, may operate at fifty (50) percent of their indoor capacity, excluding employees, as under Executive Order 20-123, Section 1. Bar areas may be open with seated service. In addition, outdoor seating is permissible with appropriate social distancing. This section does not apply to nightclubs.”


Commissioner Nikki Fried calls
for Florida statewide order
to wear face masks

By FDACS Office of Communications
Published June 25, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.
Today (Thursday, June 25), in response to skyrocketing COVID-19 cases, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, an independently-elected member of the Florida Cabinet, called on Gov. Ron DeSantis to issue a statewide face mask order.
     “With 31,299 new cases in the past week alone, Florida has emerged as a new hotspot for COVID-19,” Commissioner Fried said. “While this pandemic threatens to spiral out of control, our leadership is rushing headlong into further re-opening the state. We must take basic protective measures immediately – that’s why today, I am calling on the governor to issue a statewide order requiring masks to be worn in public places.
     “This is common sense, violates no one’s liberties, and follows the lead of 18 other states like North Carolina, Kentucky, and New York,” she added. “If we’re to beat this virus together, we must all act together, with all Floridians doing their part.”
     Florida has seen an explosion of new COVID-19 cases, with a record 5,508 new cases on Tuesday, and 114,018 cases overall so far.
     According to reports, 42 percent of Florida’s cases have come in June alone, while the state’s positivity rate is 15.91 percent, up from 2.3 percent on May 17.
     The World Health Organization has indicated a state should have a positivity rate of under 5 percent for 14 days to continue reopening, yet the governor moved to the next phase of reopening for 64 of the state’s 67 counties. As the state alters how hospitals’ Intensive Care Units availability data is reported, hospitalizations from COVID-19 are increasing.
     At least 18 states have issued statewide face mask orders as far back as April 8, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
     Studies have shown that widespread mask usage “can dramatically reduce transmission rates if enough people wear them in public.”


3-2 vote moves Chiefland
closer to adopting special
assessment for fire service;

Plus a 2013 fire story and links to stories,
photos & videos about local Jaws of Life

Fire in Chiefland 2013

Fire in Chiefland 2013

Fire in Chiefland 2013

The three photos above are from a February 2013 fire in downtown Chiefland where the CFR saved nearby buildings from destruction, although the auction house burned to the ground.

Story, Photos and Videos
By Jeff M. Hardison © June 23, 2020 at 3:10 p.m.
* Updated June 23, 2020 at 7:10 p.m.
By a 3-2 vote Monday night (June 22), the Chiefland City Commission moved closer to being able to impose a special assessment for fire services.
     Mayor Chris Jones, Vice Mayor Tim West and City Commissioner Norman Weaver voted in favor of passage of the first reading of an ordinance to implement the special assessment to help fund the Chiefland Fire Rescue Department.
     Voting against it were city commissioners Rollin Hudson and Lewrissa Mainwaring.
     City Commissioner Hudson on Tuesday afternoon said he voted against the special assessment for fire service because there are ad valorem property taxes for supporting the fire department. Hudson said the City Commission can either increase the millage rate or attract more business and residential owners to construct property to raise the tax base in the city.
*     On Tuesday evening, Mainwaring noted "
My 'No vote was for the same reasons as before. I do not feel this is an appropriate time to implement an assessment. The financial impact of COVID-19 will take months to recover from for our citizens and business owners. Although I do support the fire department and acknowledge that we as a community need to support them in every way we can - I do not feel that now is the appropriate time due to the current situation."
     This special assessment will not change the funding provided by the Levy County Board of County Commissioners, which subsidizes the City of Chiefland for the CFR’s service to the unincorporated area of Levy County around Chiefland.
     Chiefland Fire Chief James Harris has led the CFR for 10-plus years now with the equipment and manpower he has been able to obtain. Funding from the county’s special assessment and from the city’s General Fund helps CFR continue to succeed in protecting lives and property.
     Grants from the Florida Forestry Service, Firehouse Subs and elsewhere have covered the expenses of turnout gear, or bunker gear, air-packs, spare bottle air bottles and the Jaws of Life. Without grants, Chief Harris has said, the CFR would not have the equipment it has today.
     During his time to speak on Monday night, Chief Harris again let the City Commission know that CFR has recently responded to calls in the city, as well as providing automatic aid. CFR has even responded to calls for help when neighboring departments, beyond the zone in the county it is obligated to cover, because other departments did not respond to calls from dispatch.
     After the Chiefland City Commission establishes the special assessment and collects it, then there is hope for the CFR to be able to add more manpower. Meanwhile, there may be an occasion like when the giant auction house in downtown Chiefland burned down seven years ago.
     An old office building owned at the time by the now late Dennis Andrews, and an antique shop that were both near to that warehouse, were both saved. But the warehouse was burnt to the ground.
     Fire departments everywhere, however, are all in need of manpower. Dixie County Emergency Services, for instance, has an advertisement on all seven pages of advertising for paramedics. (Dixie County Emergency Services - Hiring Paramedics, ALL SEVEN PAGES, Including The HOME PAGE.)
     Below is the story published in from seven years ago regarding the fire that took down the auction house.

Fire destroys
downtown auction house

By Jeff M. Hardison, © Feb. 18, 2013
Three arson investigators with the Florida Fire Marshal’s Office combed the scene of a blaze Monday morning (Feb. 18) after a fire razed a former auction house in beautiful downtown Chiefland after midnight on that day.
     Lt. Matt Legler said the fire is under investigation. Joining him in the investigation were detectives Robert Thompson and Garrett Carlisle. The State Fire Marshal’s Office is under the leadership of Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.
     Every Friday night in downtown Chiefland for some time now, there were auctions held in this building. Among the charred remains Monday were tires, washing machines and other items that could have been sold. A covered trailer, presumably with fresh items for near-future auctions sat in the parking area of the burned structure.
     This building was first constructed as a warehouse for animal food. Andy Andrews said his father Maybry Dennis Andrews built and opened the Chiefland Feed Store in 1950, and it was known to be a distribution site especially for Purina feed.
     In 1973, Andy Andrews refurbished the block building and added the warehouse. Wayne and Robin Drummond own the buildings now, including the structure for Manatee Antiques, which is a block building covered by a wooden exterior to make it look old.
     Not only was the antique store spared from utter destruction, but the old office building that still has M.D. Andrews on the front of it was saved. Dennis Andrews, another son of Maybry Andrews, owns that building. Both buildings that are still standing were mere feet from the blazing inferno that lit the very early morning sky of Chiefland on Monday.
     A Dixie County couple has been leasing the property that burned. The auctions brought in lots of traffic each Friday night. It was a neighbor who alerted authorities to the problem.
     Nicholas Ney said he heard an explosion that shook his house on Second Avenue. When he looked out, he saw the building burning. Ney said he called 9-1-1.
     Dispatch records show a call was received at 12:40 a.m. Chiefland Fire Rescue Department was dispatched at 12:42 a.m. and the first firefighter and equipment was on the scene at 12:43 a.m. on Monday. Fire Chief James Harris reported to dispatch that the fire was under control at 1:43 a.m.
     When the chief arrived the metal roof was glowing red and the building was completely involved, Chief Harris said. Firefighters successfully kept the flames from igniting the two buildings closest to the giant structure fire.
     Chiefland Fire Rescue was assisted by firefighters and equipment from Cedar Key Volunteer Fire Department, Fanning Springs Fire Rescue Department, Trenton Fire Department, Bronson Fire Rescue Department and a firefighter from the Fowler’s Bluff Community. Four hydrants were tapped to extinguish the inferno.
     “(Chiefland Water and Facilities Manager) Shane Keene made sure the water was flowing,” Chief Harris said.
     Andy Andrews said he was thankful for the cooperative effort of the many fire departments.
     “It’s a wonderful thing that they all came to help,” Andrews said. “Now, this by no means is to say we want to consolidate. Each fire department should maintain its own sovereignty, but it is good that they all help each other.”
     Dennis Andrews said he concurs with his brother.
     Chief Harris commented on the group effort.
     “None of us have the resources alone, but together we can fight a fire like this,” Harris said.
     The Chiefland firefighters have trained to fight a big structure fire like this one, but this actual event showed the team’s training worked.
    “I am very proud of my boys with their response time,” Harris said.
     To read the story, see videos and pictures from Firehouse Subs helping CFR obtain new Jaws of Life, as well as to see the link for Firehouse Subs helping Cedar Key Volunteer Fire Department have new Jaws of Life, click HERE.


Most Recent Winner
Cathy Latner winner in contest
Cathy Latner holds the envelope with $50 in cash that she won as being the person selected by cats after participating in the Summer Fun Contest, which is part of the contests to celebrate continuing in its tenth year. The theme this year is ‘Here’s To 10 Years!’ Two see two videos, a graphic and read the story about this win, please visit the BUSINESS PAGE. Latner is also the 125th singer of the jingle. To hear that song go to the bottom of the HOME PAGE and click on the video to make it run.

Photo by Jeff M. Hardison © June 18, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.


New dog kennel
is a testament to love;

Levy County Animal Services
is improved with new facility

Levy County Animal Services New Kennels
Levy County Veterinarian Dr. Darlene Esler, DVM, and Bob Echols happily greet a journalist before the opening of the newest improvement at Levy County Animal Services on Wednesday morning (June 17).

Story, Photos and Videos
By Jeff M. Hardison © June 17, 2020 at 8:10 p.m.
Robert M. "Bob" Echols of Ocala, the founder and president of For Our Friends The Animals, helped celebrate the opening of a significant improvement at Levy County Animal Services on Wednesday morning (June 17).

In this 8-second video, Levy County Construction and Maintenance Department Director Jimmy Jones shows how dogs can be let out to exercise without a staff member having to be in the cage with the dog. He pulls the cord up and then lets it down. The dog handler just pulls on the rope and the clear acrylic (Plexiglas) door opens. This demonstration was just before the grand opening of the new kennels at Levy County Animal Services on Wednesday morning. Jones was the construction superintendent for this project, which was completed for the most part by his team of Levy County workers. Jones formerly served for 25 years in the United States Navy as a member of the United States Naval Construction Battalions, better known as the Navy Seabees. The Seabee nickname is a heterograph of the first letters ‘C B’ from the words Construction Battalion.

In this one-minute video, Levy County Commission Chairman Matt Brooks starts to present the acrylic plaque as a gift to Bob Echols. The text of what is on the plaque is in the story.

Levy County Animal Services New Kennels
Bob Echols accepts an acrylic plaque from Levy County Commission Chairman Matt Brooks.

     Echols donated $272,000 to help Levy County Animal Services build the additional 50 dog kennels. These kennels have central air-conditioning and heat, as well as individualized water service for each dog.
     Each kennel has a clear acrylic door that the dog can look outside through, and which leads to an area where the dog can enjoy the outdoors. The structure includes of 6,000 square-feet under the roof.
     There are two new 20-foot by 30-foot dog play yards adjacent to the building as well. A puppy room and an observation room are among the added facilities beyond the 50 kennels.
     Construction Department Director Jones said there can be as many as 100 dogs kept in these kennels in the event of a hurricane or other disaster, where Levy County residents need to shelter their dogs with Levy County Animal Services.
     Dog owners who are considering this option as they make their disaster plans need to check with Levy County Animal Services to learn more about what will be required of them.
     This structure, Jones added, includes two separate storage rooms for dog food and kennel supplies, and those rooms are independently climate controlled. All of the lights are LED, he said, which adds to the energy-efficiency theme of the structure.
     County Commission Chairman Matt Brooks opened the program by thanking Jones and his staff for building the structure.
     Brooks said the county appreciates Echols’ support as a friend of the animals. He presented an acrylic plaque that was inscribed “With our deepest appreciation we hereby honor Mr. Bob Echols with this gift in recognition for your passion, unconditional commitment and enduring dedicated service to the Levy County Animal Services.”

Levy County Animal Services New Kennels
This sign shows some of the people responsible for the new kennels coming to fruition. It includes part of the prayer Echols used in creating a name for his foundation.

Levy County Animal Services New Kennels
County Commission Chairman Matt Brooks (right) shakes hands with Bob Echols (left) before awarding him a plaque as a gift. Standing nearby are County Commissioner John Meeks, whose district the structure is in and who was the chairman of the board when this project started, and County Commissioner Lilly Rooks, who is the liaison between Levy County Animal Services and the County Commission, and who is renowned for her work to help animals in Levy County.

Levy County Animal Services New Kennels
Bob Echols holds up the plaque for all to see.

Levy County Animal Services New Kennels
Before the ceremony, Dr. Darlene Esler, Bob Echols and County Commissioner Lilly Rooks agree to a photo op sought by a journalist.

     After accepting the gift, Echols addressed the gathering of people at the celebratory event. He spoke about his motivation for creating For Our Friends The Animals.
     The name of this foundation, Echols said, comes from a prayer attributed to Dr. Albert Schweitzer (Jan. 14, 1875-Sept. 4, 1965). Dr. Schweitzer was an Alsatian-German theologian, philosopher, organist, and mission doctor in equatorial Africa. Dr. Schweitzer earned the 1952 Nobel Prize for Peace for his efforts on behalf of “the Brotherhood of Nations.”
     Following is the prayer to which Echols refers.

By Albert Schweitzer
     Hear our humble prayer, O God,
     for our friends the animals,
     especially for animals who are suffering;
     for any that are hunted or lost
     or deserted or frightened or hungry;
     for all that will be put to death.

     We entreat for them all Thy mercy and pity,
     and for those who deal with them
     we ask a heart of compassion
     and gentle hands and kindly words.

     Make us, ourselves, to be true friends to animals
     and so to share the blessings of the merciful.


     Echols said Dr. Schweitzer was a great lover of people, animals and of life itself.
     “I was drawn to Dr. Schweitzer because of his philosophy of having a reverence for life,” Echols said. “He believed that all life is sacred. All life is precious. All life should be valued. No life should be a means to an end for anybody else.
     “We should treat all life as we would be treated,” Echols continued. “And he got that philosophy, and I am sure you can guess, from the love of Jesus portrayed in the Sermon on the Mount.”
     Echols said Schweitzer took the love of Jesus and applied it universally to all of God’s creatures.
     Therefore, Echols concluded, this building is a manifestation of a reverence for life.
     “Not only are the dogs that reside here going to get the best treatment and care that we can provide them,” Echols said, “but by being here, they are going to have a marked, better opportunity to be adopted out, and find loving parents – loving owners.
     “And, as only a dog can do, once they find those loving owners,” Echols said, “they will give that love back tenfold. That’s what dogs are all about. That’s what a reverence for life is all about.”
     Echols thanked Levy County for giving him an opportunity to bring this manifestation of the reverence for life into being.

Levy County Animal Services New Kennels
This view of one kennel shows the clear door that provides a view of the outside to the dog from its cage.

Levy County Animal Services New Kennels
Levy County Construction Director Jimmy Jones (blue shirt) and County Commission Chairman Matt Brooks review the attic of the kennel structure.

Levy County Animal Services New Kennels
Levy County Animal Services Director David Weatherford walks by a door leading into the kennels before the start of the program. Joining LCAS Director Weatherford at LCAS are Levy County Veterinarian Dr. Darlene Esler, DVM, and animal control officers Nathan Mercer and Lamar Sears, and administrative assistants Crystal Pruitt and Morgan Anderson. These seven people are the entire staff of LCAS.

Levy County Animal Services New Kennels
(from left) Levy County Commissioner John Meeks, Bob Echols, Levy County Commissioner Lilly Rooks and Levy County Commission Chairman Matt Brooks are among the many people at the event Tuesday morning.

Levy County Animal Services New Kennels
This photograph includes some of the many people who work with LCAS from such rescue groups as the Alachua County Humane Society. Also in this photo are LCAS Director David Weatherford, Bob Echols, Dr. Darlene Esler, County Coordinator Wilbur Dean, county commissioners Lilly Rooks and John Meeks. County Commission Chairman Matt Brooks and Levy County Construction Director Jimmy Jones.

Levy County Animal Services New Kennels
People walk into the new facility.

     This is not the first or only time that Echols has proved to be a significant benefactor to LCAS.
     The president of For Our Friends The Animals, in June of 2016. also donated $10,000 to Levy County to establish The Cat Room at the Levy County Animal Services Department. To see The Cat Room story and photos click HERE.

In this video, Bob Echols cuts the ribbon to open The Cat Room.
© Video by Jeff M. Hardison (first published in June 2016)

Click HERE to see the archived story from May of 2019 when the ground was broken for this new facility to house dogs.



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125th Jingle Performer

This is Cathy Latner signing the jingle near the United States Post Office in Chiefland on June 18, 2020. Everyone is invited to sing the jingle. If you see Jeff Hardison and you want to sing the jingle, just let him know or send an email to He asks people to sing the jingle, and some of them agree to sing it. (Thanks people!)
Published June 18, 2020 @ 4:10 p.m.

© Video by Jeff M. Hardison, All Rights Reserved


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