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Two-day seafood festival
ready for launch in Cedar Key;

Lighthouse restoration unveiled

This float from a previous parade during a Cedar Key Lions Club Seafood Festival shows some of the fun that happens during those two days.

Ceadr Key Seafood Festival
Here are some of the many visitors who enjoyed a previous annual Cedar Key Lions Club Seafood Festival.

Photos by Rory Brennan,
Provided By Cedar Key Lions To

Published Oct. 15, 2108 at 3:38 p.m.
     CEDAR KEY --
Members of the Cedar Key Lions Club and their many connected vendors and associations are all ready for the launch of the two-day seafood festival this weekend (Saturday, Oct. 20 and Sunday, Oct. 21) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.
     On Oct. 12, Cedar Key Mayor Heath Davis confirmed that the 49th Annual Cedar Key Seafood Festival is 100 percent on track as previously planned.
     This annual event is slated to happen in historic downtown Cedar Key and in City Park this weekend.
     In his comments, Mayor Davis recalled remarks from Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
     The mayor said the residents of Cedar Key, like all Floridians, are resilient.
     "We are rightfully proud of our community," Davis said. "There was never any doubt about our upcoming Seafood Festival. It will go on as planned, despite Cedar Key’s close brush with Hurricane Michael.”
     Within hours of the storm’s passing, the city’s Public Works Department, residents and volunteers set about tidying up Cedar Key.
     The Seafood Festival is presented by the Cedar Key Lions Club.
     As in the past, this amazing seafood festival offers food, fun, arts, crafts and music.
     This well-established seafood festival attracts visitors from across the region.
     Lions Club President Mike Hodges echoed Mayor Davis.
     “Our members and volunteers have been working on the festival for several months,” Hodges said. “Over 100 vendors will display their arts and crafts. Dozens of local non-profit groups will be offering seafood and other tasty fare in City Park.
     “Musicians from across the Southeast are set to perform on our Clam Boat Stage,” Hodges, a third-generation resident of the area, continued. “My family has been in Cedar Key for years. Like everyone else in town, when things get difficult we meet the challenge head on. I promise you this: Cedar Key is ready for visitors. Our Lions Club’s 49th Annual Seafood Festival will be a resounding success. You won’t want to miss it.”
     The Cedar Key Seafood Festival takes place the third weekend in October.
     This year, it is Saturday, Oct. 20, and Sunday, Oct. 21, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. both days.
     Admission is free. An Online Festival Guide for Smartphones is available at

Lighthouse Restoration - Plus
     Also, this year, during the seafood festival, festival-goers are invited to the Seahorse Key Marine Lab open house for the unveiling of the complete interior restoration of the historic Seahorse Key lighthouse.
     These restorations have returned the Civil War-era lighthouse to its original look, down to the heart pine floors. Local historians will lead tours of the lighthouse.
     The restoration was largely funded by the Florida Lighthouse Association, a local donor, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge
     Seahorse Key is accessible by water taxi or personal vessel. Water taxis are available through Tidewater Tours (352-543-9523), and Cedar Key Boat Rentals and Island Tours (352-231-4435 or 352-278-0065).
      For those remaining on shore, the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station will showcase its completed 70-gallon aquarium, as well as interactive “creature tanks” where visitors can learn about native marine life up close.
     The NCBS event is only Saturday, Oct. 20, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station is located at 552 First St., in Cedar Key.


Gilchrist County Scout
program continues to grow;

Biggest campout in six years
Scout Program In Gilchrist County
Assistant Boy Scout Troop 406 Scoutmaster Christine Medina reads about ‘Old Glory’ as the Color Guard, comprised of Boy Scout Troop 406 Senior Patrol Leader Kurtis McConnell, and Cub Scouts Serenity Dillon, Sadie Murray, Brayden Smith, Jackson Manders and Tanner Rhoades prepare to do their duty. Among the Color Guard’s requirements were to unfold and display the worn American flag, and then to fold it and retire it to the fire. The children clearly did their best in a picture-perfect ceremony that showed respect for one of the nation’s symbols of freedom and democracy.

Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © Oct. 14, 2018 at 7:28 p.m.
American Legion Jamerson-Sheffield Post 91 -- located between Trenton and Bell -- held the distinction of being a place where history was made Saturday (Oct. 13).

In this video, the audience has heard about the process, and the Color Guard has folded the flag. Then, the worn flag is put into the fire -- where it burns until it is ashes and the Color Guard is dismissed.

Scout Program In Gilchrist County
The Color Guard displays the flag as Assistant Scoutmaster Christine Medina reads and Assistant Scoutmaster Jessie Stanley remains prepared to help the young Scouts if they need.

Scout Program In Gilchrist County
Assistant Scoutmaster Christine Medina, Scoutmaster Jace McConnell and Assistant Scoutmaster Jessie Stanley pause for a photo opportunity after the Scouts were dismissed following the retirement of the worn flag on Saturday (Oct. 13). The fire where the flag became ashes is behind the Cub Scout Pack 406 and Boy Scout Troop 406 leaders. The Cub Scout pack and Boy Scout troop tentatively have planned to retire another worn out American flag when members of American Legion Post 91 can be present at some point in November.

     It was a trifecta for the records of Scouts in Gilchrist County.
     This was the biggest campout of Gilchrist County Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts in the past six years, Cub Scout Pack 406 Committee Chair Christine Medina said.
     Medina is also assistant scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 406 as well as being the Pack 406 den leader for the Arrow of Light Cub Scouts.
     Scoutmaster Jace McConnell is the leader of Troop 406. Joining Assistant Scoutmaster Medina as McConnell’s two assistants is Assistant Scoutmaster Jessie Stanley.
     As for the overnight campout held on the grounds of American Legion Post 91, there were 74 people, Medina said, with 42 of those campers being children.
     The Scout program in Gilchrist County continues to grow. The Cub Scouts anticipate adding more members from the Bell area soon, Committee Chair Medina said.
     The second part of this three-part point of Gilchrist County Scout history is that Pack 406 has 11 members who are girls. A few of the first girl Cub Scouts are Serenity Dillon, 10, a Weblos Cub Scout; Madelin Springer, 7, a Wolf Cub Scout; and Phoebe Medina, 5, a Lion Cub Scout,
     Committee Chair Medina said that to dispel any misinformation -- though girls are allowed (and encouraged) to join Cub Scout Pack 406 -- they will meet in different groups than the boys.
     “This is because, well, girls should be able to be girls and boys should be able to be boys!” Medina said. “Next year, girls will be able to join the Boy Scouts (ages 11 to 18 years old) but they will have an entirely separate Troop. They won’t just be joining up with the boys. It is merely an opportunity for girls to experience the wonderful curriculum that the Boy Scouts of America has to offer.”
     From youngest to oldest Cub Scouts nowadays are Lions, Tigers, Wolfs, Bears, Weblos and Arrow of Light Cub Scouts. (Wolfs may seem peculiar, because wolves is the plural for the animal, but for the Cub Scout rank of Wolf, this writer chose Wolfs as the plural form.)
     A half-century ago, the rankings went Wolf, Bear, Lion Weblos.
     The third aspect of the history-making campout was the retirement of a worn American flag, which was retired by burning it in a most honorable and respectful manner, per Untied States Code.
     The Scouts selected to be the Color Guard for this event were Boy Scout Troop 406 Senior Patrol Leader Kurtis McConnell, and Cub Scouts Serenity Dillon, Sadie Murray, Brayden Smith, Jackson Manders and Tanner Rhoades.
     Assistant Scoutmaster Medina led the program.
     She shared with Scouts, parents and guests that the United States has a code related to respect for flag.
     That code is shown below:
     “No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.
     “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
     “The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
     “The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
     “The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker's desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.
     “The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
     “The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
     “The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.
     “The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
     “The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.
     “No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.”
     While the above noted code applies to other aspects of respect for the American flag, Medina recited part “K” of United States Code Title 36, Chapter 10, which explains the proper method for taking the flag out of service. It is to be disposed of with honor and respect.
     “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning,” she said.
     Using a publication of the Boy Scouts of America, Medina said that once the flag is worn beyond repair, it is to be burned.
     The type of fire to use is modest but blazing, she said.
     “This should be done in a simple manner with dignity and respect,” she said. “Be sure the flag is reduced to ashes, unrecognizable as a former flag.”
     She said the flag had been inspected earlier that evening and it was determined to be no longer of suitable for display. It was too worn. It has been replaced with a fresh, new flag, she said.
     Medina let the observers know that silence, and absolute dignity was required during the whole ceremony.
     Before the start of the program, Committee Chair Medina simply raised two fingers for the Cub Scout symbol for the children to stop speaking and to pay attention, and the children raised their hands and were silent.
     With a proper modest and blazing fire, which was singularly designated for the retirement of the worn flag, she continued the program.
     She asked the Color Guard to display the flag. It was unfolded and held for all to see.
     Assistant Scoutmaster Medina led the group in The Pledge of Allegiance.
     Medina read a modified version of the prose created by Edwin Doody and first copyrighted in November of 1968.
     “I am your flag. I was born June 14, 1777. I am more than just cloth shaped into a colorful design. I am the refuge of the World's oppressed people. I am the silent sentinel of freedom. I am the emblem of the greatest sovereign nation on earth. I am the inspiration for which American Patriots gave their lives and fortunes. I have led your sons into battle from Valley Forge to the dense jungles of Vietnam to the dry deserts of Iraq. I walked in silence with each of your honored dead to their final resting place beneath the silent white crosses, row upon row.
     “I have flown through peace and war; strife and prosperity; and amidst it all, I have been respected. I am your flag.
     “’Old Glory’ is my nickname, and I proudly wave on high. Honor me, respect me, defend me with your lives, your hearts, and your fortunes. Never let my enemies tear me down from my lofty position, lest I never return. Keep alight the fires of patriotism; strive earnestly for the spirit of Democracy. And keep me always as a symbol of freedom and liberty in our country!”
     The Color Guard folded the flag at her instruction for retirement, with help from Assistant Scoutmaster Stanley.
     Senior Patrol Leader McConnell escorted Cub Scout Brayden Smith toward the fire, where SPL McConnell politely took the flag from the young child and tossed the flag into the fire.
     Per Medina’s instructions, the group remained silent until the flag was ashes -- no longer recognizable as a flag.
     Medina explained to the group that the reason there was no marshmallow toasting over that fire that night was as part of the final respect given to the retired American flag.
     While there were these news-making highlights from this particular camping trip, the Gilchrist County Scout program included a lot of additional fun that evening.
     Among the many activities were a scavenger hunt, a metal detecting exercise, and skits created and performed by the Scouts.
     Of course, delicious campout food was another great part of the event.
     Just after dark, the campers all enjoyed a film projected on a giant white screen.
     The name of the movie was Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation.
      This movie rated PG ran for one-hour and 37 minutes. It is an animation fantasy.
     Count Dracula and company participate in a cruise for sea-loving monsters, unaware that their boat is being commandeered by the monster-hating Van Helsing family.
     Adam Sandler performed the star role as the voice of Dracula. Other stars who were voices in the film were Andy Samburg (as Johnny), Selena Gomez (as Mavis), Kevin James (as Frankenstein) and David Spade (as Griffin).
     The Scouts of Gilchrist County enjoy camping opportunities once a month. This summer they went to the U.S.S. Yorktown aircraft carrier in South Carolina, where they slept on bunks in the crew's quarters.
     An upcoming camping trip will be near Jacksonville in Little Talbot Island State Park Campground. They plan to visit a nearby zoo on the second day of that trip.
     There is a plan for the camping trip of Gilchrist County Scouts in the summer of 2019 to be at the Florida Caverns in the Panhandle.


CFEC Annual Meeting succeeds
CFEC Annual Meeting 2018
Chiefland FFA members assist with the CFEC 2018 Annual meeting by passing out gift buckets during registration. They also helped distribute the winning prizes at the end as numbers were called.

Story and Photos
By C.L. Watson of
© Oct. 13, 2018 at 3:08 p.m.

  CHIEFLAND -- The CEFC Annual Meeting was a success as it followed a tradition that has kept it strong.

CFEC Annual Meeting 2018
Supervisors of election from the Tri County Area (from left) Dixie County Supervisor of Elections Starlet Cannon, Gilchrist County Supervisor of Elections and Levy Cunty Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones help voters from the three counties. They were able to register people to vote in the three counties or assist in other ways.

CFEC Annual Meeting 2018
Gospel quartet Reign Down preformed for attendees during CFEC 2018 Annual Meeting.

CFEC Annual Meeting 2018
Jacob Cannon patiently waits for his mother Beth to register at CFEC 2018 Annual Meeting. She was a lucky winner of a $25 gift certificate from Bar-B-Q Bill’s. 

CFEC Annual Meeting 2018
CFEC employee Ryan Watson demonstrates electrical line awareness and danger of hot lines. This model shows how objects touching power lines can lead to injury or death. CFEC is know for providing safe and reliable electric service to its members.

     Mother Nature offered pleasant weather Saturday, Oct. 6, for Central Florida Electric Cooperative Inc. to host its 2018 Annual Meeting.
     The event was held inside a massive warehouse located at the corporate CFEC headquarters in Chiefland. Arriving guests were greeted in the parking area by friendly staff on golf carts to shorten their walk from vehicle to warehouse. Golf carts took departing guests to their vehicles as well.
     Attendance of 481 registered members along with approximately 200 guests were entertained by the gospel quartet Reign Down during the early hours.
     Chiefland FFA members assisted CFEC employees with the registration booth as well as handing out member gift buckets filled with information booklets, a coffee mug, pens, light bulbs and a few trinkets.
     In addition to the registration booth, the other booths included information about:
     ● Vegetation Management/ Right-of-Way
     ● Seminole Electric Cooperative/ Information and Suggestions
     ● Photobooth
     ● Heavy Equipment Visual
     ● Supervisors of Elections (Gilchrist, Levy and Dixie)
     ● CFEC Answers To Questions
     ● Powerline Safety Demonstrations
     ● City of Chiefland Fire Department
     CFEC President Barbara Townsend called the meeting to order at 10 a.m., followed with invocation by Gordon Keller, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Chiefland.
     President Townsend briefly discussed solar power and urged members to thoroughly evaluate prior to commitment, additional information can be found on the website
     The elections results in regard to the CFEC Board of Trustees was delivered by Robert Beauchamp, CPA, of Beauchamp & Edwards.
     Two seats were unopposed -- District 2 Carl Roof, and District 3 Tony Weeks. Kenneth O’Steen of District 7 will continue as a trustee for the next three years. He received 400 votes. His opponent in that race Miles Andrews received 225 votes.
     Guests participated in a question and answer segment with President Townsend and General Manager Denny George. Topics of concern by members included fees for online payments as well as allowing members to vote by the number of owned meters rather than as a single registrant.
     The large warehouse of attendees remained seated upon the meeting’s adjournment as they awaited the drawing of 200 prizes.
      The majority of winners brought home $25 cash. Several, tools and cooking items were given out. (I won a George Foreman grill.) The finale of three $100 cash prizes and one of $500 cash prize kept members on their seats in anticipation until those bigger cash prizes were awarded.


All clear in Dixie County
Published Oct. 11, 2018 at 2:48 p.m.
     CROSS CITY --
The noon update in regard to Dixie County Emergency Management and Hurricane Michael was provided by Lt. Mandy Lemmermen, who is the leader in that agency for public education.
     Following is her report:
     Dixie County EOC is at a level 2 activation.
     All roads have been opened for our coastal communities. Our Emergency and County Road crews are currently working to clear road debris, so please use caution while driving in those areas.
     As of right now (1 p.m. on Oct. 11), we have no reports of major damage to any commercial or residential buildings. Power companies are still completing surveys, but no power outages have been reported.
     Due to the minimal damages reported, there will NOT be any FEMA assistance requested/needed for Dixie County.
     The general population shelter is now closed. The special needs shelter is also closed.
County Offices and Dixie District Schools will be open tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 12).


Levy County recovers
Published Oct. 11, 2018 at 8:58 a.m.
     BRONSON --
All roads are back open in Levy County, Levy County Emergency Management Assistant Director David Peaton noted in an email Monday morning (Oct. 11).  Evacuations have been lifted.
     Residents can report storm damage by clicking HERE or they can call 352-486-5155 – Levy County Emergency Management – for assistance with that process.
     Schools are closed in Levy County today (Thursday, Oct. 11) due to a Teacher Work Day, but will resume tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 12).
     All other county services have returned to normal operations.


Taste of Nature Coast
rescheduled for Oct. 16

By Jeff M. Hardison © Oct. 9, 2018 at 9:18 a.m.
People who were planning to go to the Taste of The Nature Coast tonight (Oct. 9) are asked to please plan it for a week later on Oct. 16. (Details are on the Community Calendar of the CALENDAR PAGE.
     Tri-County Community Resource Center Manager Beverly Goodman said she regrets the need to reschedule, and she added that all of the participating chefs were ready, willing and able to go forward. Nevertheless, Goodman added, the decision to err on the side of caution was made.
     Also, some of the chefs are from coastal areas that must evacuate, as are some of the diners.


Dixie Music Center's
27th Annual Bash reverberates
tunes galore as musicians
entertain the people all day long

Dixie Music Center Bash 2018
Dotti Leichner, wearing the blue tee-shirt for the DMC XXVII Bash, introduces The Ray Holland Band.
Story, Photos and Videos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Oct. 7, 2018 at 8:38 p.m.
     OLD TOWN –
With a little bit of a cool down in the morning, the Dixie Music Center’s 27th Annual Bash was a hit from start to finish on Saturday (Oct. 6).

In this video, The Ole Skool Band of Dixie County, with Jeff Norris on lead guitar, Mick Graham on bass and Jimmy Norris playing drums, performs at the Dixie Music Center in Old Town. The band was great.

In this video,  The Kerry Gordon Band performs an original song about flat-tops. (There is some background noise from a person talking to their friend near the point from where this was being filmed.)

Ray Holland, Charlie Wilber and David Stapleton perform.

Dixie Music Center Bash 2018
Dotti Leichner’s sister Marti Godfrey (left, in blue shirt)  of Hickory, N.C., and family friend Diana Smith of Fanning Springs, man an area to help Dotti in the sale of her fine art. Dottiwood Designs – Photographic Art was available for sale at the event.

Dixie Music Center Bash 2018
Harvey Resnick sits in the big wooden rocking chair he built. Resnick, a woodworker who specializes in rocking chairs, donated this one to be won by a person in a drawing being conducted by the Sons of Confederate Veterans #2086, Dixie Defenders, of Cross City. They are accepting donations from people who want to win this handmade rocking chair. Please call 352-578-5441 for more information about that.

Dixie Music Center Bash 2018
Daryl Ratterree, lieutenant commander for the Sons of the Confederate Veterans Florida Division, holds an original .50 caliber Springfield rifle built before 1880. This rifle is going to be won be a person in a chance drawing of 300 tickets. As of Saturday (Oct. 6), at The Dixie Music Center’s 27th Annual Bash, there were only 45 tickets remaining. For more information about the rifle or the drawing, please send an email to or call 352-578-5441.

Dixie Music Center Bash 2018
Joe Maxgay and Ruth Maxgay hold some of the items they make. RM Totes was at the event and they had totes, dreamcatchers, earrings and much more available for people to buy. (That's a likeness of Elvis at the DMC event.)

Dixie Music Center Bash 2018
Joe Giles, 63, of Old Town stands at the grill where he cooked lots of meals for people on Saturday. He was in the portable kitchen named What’s Cookin’. The menu was relatively varied. The prices were fair and the food was great.

Dixie Music Center Bash 2018
Lt. Charles Cothran of the Citizens On Patrol of the Dixie County Sheriff’s Office is the man who became known at the event as The Dancing Cop. This still shot captures one-60th of one-second of Lt. Cothran’s great dancing. The COP are volunteers. They directed traffic at the event, as well as sold water to raise funds for their group. COP Lt. Jane Costigan was among the people selling water She is also the secretary for the DCSO COP organization.

Dotti Leichner introduces The Kerry Gordon Band.

Dixie Music Center Bash 2018
Playing keyboard for The Kerry Gordon Band is Ted Patrick.

Dixie Music Center Bash 2018
Kerry Gordon is at the front of this photo on acoustic guitar and Bob Leichner is in the back on drums.

Dixie Music Center Bash 2018
Dotti Leichner introduces The Ole Skool Band.

Dixie Music Center Bash 2018
The Ole Skool Band with Jeff Norris on lead guitar (left), Mick Graham on bass and Jimmy Norris playing drums.

Dixie Music Center Bash 2018
Jeff Norris takes front stage with great rock and roll. The band played one blues song during their set.

Dixie Music Center Bash 2018
A cute puppy plays with a dog toy. This baby dog was the star of the day with some number of children and adults on Saturday.

Dixie Music Center Bash 2018
The Kerry Gordon Band

     Yes, even the weather was perfect on that early fall morning in Old Town.
     With A Little Bit More showing up despite bass player Thom Duncan’s near-fatal auto accident, the beautiful day included happy surprises as well.
     Starting the set of bands that performed music of the day was The Ray Holland Band and they opened with It’s So Easy to Fall in Love, originally by Buddy Holly with Linda Ronstadt being among the musicians to make it heard as well.
     This set of musicians, including Ray Holland, Charlie Wilber and David Stapleton, wrapped up their performances with Take It Easy – which was a wonderful theme song for the whole fun event. This event was easy to enjoy, as well as being laidback, well-produced, filled with happiness and love for music and people.
     The starting set of songs It’s So Easy to Fall in Love and Take It Easy were a wonderful start to the day filled with bands and music galore. By the way, the song Take It Easy was written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, and recorded by the Eagles with Frey singing lead vocals.
     This was the debut performance of The Ray Holland Band at the Dixie Music Center’s outdoor concert area.
     Bob and Dotti Leichner, Old Town music products retailers and music school principals, for the 27th year have provided the music bash that some people on the ground called The Tri-County Woodstock (referring to a big music festival from the 1960s).
     There was music, food, art, chance drawings and more – even at least one cute puppy.
     After The Ray Holland Band, there was The Kerry Gordon Band. Kerry Gordon played acoustic and sang. Goose Goodrich played electric guitar, Ted Patrick was on keyboard. Bob Leichner played drums and there was a bass player.
     As for Bob Leichner on drums, he also performed for none other than the closers for the show – Dotti South and The Slackers, but he was the drummer for The Florida Boys.
     The Florida Boys, a Florida Folk/Americana group fronted by Pat Barmore and Pete Gallagher, are from St. Petersburg. They played primarily original material. Gallagher first performed at Dixie Music Center in 2003.
     Making their DMC Stage debut was the Rosewood Creek Band, another group from Pinellas County, led by Marty Fouts and his wife, Bonnie. They, too, performed a lot of original material.
     There were a number of people in the audience from Pinellas County again this year, some of whom were old school friends of Bob Leichner – as far back as when he attended elementary school in Pinellas County.
     Speaking of old school friends, the Ole Skool Band of Dixie County, with Jeff Norris on lead guitar, Mick Graham on bass and Jimmy Norris playing drums as well as doing a lot of the vocals, were a big hit again this year.
     The Ole Skool Band shared with listeners that local musicians count on Bob and Dotti Leichner, and the Dixie Music Center. The Ole Skool Band on Saturday also provided a lot of the hands-on work required to make sure all of the bands had an amazing sound system for the nice, shaded area next to the Dixie Music Center store all day long.
     This all-day live music festival commemorates the store's 27th year in operation.
     This event is the 18th consecutive year the business has hosted this free event on the nicely-wooded acreage adjacent to the store at 26626 S.E. U.S. Highway 19 in Old Town. In addition to live music, there were prize drawings and the store held a giant sale.
     Closing the show, was Dotti South and the Slackers. This group is comprised mainly of Dixie Music Center personnel. This band plays a lot of Dotti South's original material.
     Ibanez guitars, Peavey electronics, and Armadillo Enterprises (Dean Guitars) donated instruments, for which there were drawings. There was no cost to enter, but there are conditions including “must be present to win.”

Vet Saves Pets
Dr. Ronald Spink
Dr. Ronald Spink, The Family Pet Vet of Chiefland, is seen with Veterinarian Technician Melissa Clifford on Thursday (Oct. 4). It was time for Inky the cat Hardison to be examined and vaccinated. Goldy the cat Hardison, the senior mascot of, has her next scheduled visit in 2019. Dr. Spink has donated an animal resuscitation kit to Bronson Fire Rescue. The veterinarian who keeps pets healthy said the BFR did not have one of these devices and he felt that they could use it in the event that they responded to a fire and a dog or cat needed resuscitation. The news tip about this donation came from an anonymous source, and Dr. Spink confirmed it was true.

Photo By Jeff M. Hardison © Oct. 5, 2018 at 2:08 p.m.



First Day Of Free Drop-off
Wanda Sheffield
Wanda Sheffield, a scale-house attendant at the Levy County Solid Waste Transfer Station, greets a Levy County resident who brought residential garbage for free drop-off on Monday (Oct. 1). Every residential property owner with developed property will see a $116 fee for garbage this fiscal year Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2019. The new fee means the Levy County resident no longer has to pay 75-cents per bag for residential garbage that he or she takes to the dump. During the Tuesday (Oct. 2) County Commission meeting, Levy County Solid Waste Director Rod Hastings told the commissioner that the first day was tremendous. There is still some ironing out on residents proving that they live in Levy County, but there were no significant problems on Monday, he said. As for residential garbage customers of Waste Pro, WCA, Sanford & Son and other garbage pickup services, including in cities in the county where it is mandatory, customers may see some slight relief in their bills. Tipping fees for commercial haulers, however, are not the lion's share of the costs for those companies. As for the clouds and sky in the photo, that is reflection in the windows on either side of Sheffield and this is the view of a person in a 2008 Chrysler PT Newser (Cruiser).
Photo By Jeff M. Hardison © Oct. 3, 2018 at 10:58 p.m.


Doctor shares insight to show
why patients go to
Regional General Hospital

By Jeff M. Hardison © Oct. 2, 2018 at 10:18 p.m.
Jorge Perez, hospital owner, has put $3 million into improvements and daily operational costs at Regional General Hospital in addition to the purchase price.
     The hospital had been on at least a two-year road to complete recovery before Perez bought it, and the institution shines like a well-polished jewel in Williston today. That trend is carrying on into the future.
     Progress at RGH continues, and Dr. John T. Chacko, a highly rated medical doctor and surgeon who specializes in urology, took a few minutes out from his service in the RGH Emergency Room on Monday morning (Oct. 1) to share insight from his perspective at the hospital.
     Dr. Chacko, who will be 58 years old in February, first operated at this hospital in 1999 or 2000, he said.
     The new owner is going to take RGH to the next level, Dr. Chacko said.
     “We are going to expand on the emergency service,” he said. “We are going to add on urology, cardiology and nephrology.”
     In regard to nephrology, RGH intends to partner with the University of Florida, Dr. Chacko said, and currently that is planned for a January start-up.
     RGH is a 40-bed acute care hospital, Dr. Chacko said.
     In addition to urology, cardiology and nephrology, RGH will be involved with urology, helping patients who among other things may be suffering from kidney stones.
     The newly-renovated operating room will provide a place for procedures related to hearts, kidneys and prostates, he said. The surgeon recently completed a procedure in the RGH operating room.
     Dialysis treatments will become available at RGH as well, Dr. Chacko said.
     “There is no reason to go up to Gainesville or Ocala to get these kinds of services,” Dr. Chacko said. “As you can see, we are taking these patients with emergent conditions very effectively and very quickly. This is where you can have everything in one place. No delays.”
     The lab is here. X-rays are here. The CAT Scan is here, he said.
     Back in 2000, the county owned the hospital, Dr. Chacko said.
     As with many community hospitals in the past 20 years, RGH has had its ups and downs, Dr. Chacko said.
     Today, RGH is an excellent community hospital, serving patients with fine, individualized care.
     “We depend on local people and the citizenry to support us,” he said. “Medicare and Medicaid have been cutting constantly; so, we have an ongoing problem.”
     Dr. Chacko noted that patients from Lake County are making RGH their choice of hospital now. That is one of the places where he has a clinic, and he tells his patients that he is at RGH.
     When they come to this hospital, he said, they are very pleased with the services provided – including the 24-hour emergency room.
     Dr. Chacko explained that while he is a specialist in urology, he has a background in general surgery and pediatric surgery. The hospital in Williston, he said, does not have the luxury yet of having many physicians.
     Therefore, given his skill of being able to practice more than just specialized medicine, Dr. Chacko serves patients wherever they need his medical talents.
     He has been a practicing physician, including general surgery, for more than three decades now.
     In addition to the urological clinic at RGH, Dr. Chacko has clinics in The Villages and in Ocala.
     He said there is a plan to create “800 number” to centralize a method to take patients, and there are other associate doctors who will be able to see patients on short notice.
     “As you may know, The Villages has no urologist on call, except sometimes me,” Dr. Chacko said, as he spoke about the medical coverage area from Sumter County, through Lake County and all the way up to Leon County (Tallahassee).
     Dr. Chacko said the word is starting to spread about what is already available at RGH and as the hospital continues with its planned expansion of services, this will become a very vibrant rural community hospital.
     “In a few months,” Dr. Chacko said, “I think we will be very busy.”
     The medical doctor provided understanding about practicing medicine today and in years gone by.
     Back when he was studying medicine, the general surgeon practiced on pediatric patients to geriatric patients and every age between.
     “You saw pretty much of everything,” he said, “all ages, across the board, all conditions. You were trained and prepared to tackle all of those (many forms of illness and injury that required surgery).
    “Now, doctors have become specialized and compartmentalized,” Dr. Chacko said. “And sometimes it helps to be so specialized in big, well-populated cities. But in smaller communities like ours, we need a broadly-trained traditional surgeon.
     “That’s what I realized here,” he continued. “On any day, you could have a patient with an amputated leg, or a woman with a fetus in distress, or a child, or a mother with problems. You don’t know what you are going to get here in a small community.”
     Dr. Chacko said RGH is prepared for it. At the least, the patients can be stabilized in the emergency room.
     RGH is onboard with teaching young doctors and nurses, Dr. Chacko said, in the near future. In conjunction with the University of Florida, RGH will help medical students learn about rural medicine, he said.
     These medical practitioners will not be compartmentalized, he said, but instead will treat all comers. Whoever comes through the hospital’s doors for help, will find it here.
     Dr. Chacko said the methods have gone full circle to return to this point of general medicine versus over-specialization. The training has to fit the needs of the community, he added.
     This teaching at the rural community hospital will involve practical medicine with hands-on experience.
     Whether it is a cut, a bruise or an amputated leg, the young doctors and nurses will learn how to treat the injury or illness, he said.
     Dr. Chacko said he wants everyone to know about one patient who was treated at RGH. His mother came to Williston a year or two ago, he said.
     “The people here treated her much better here,” he said. “She would be a witness for the care she received here as opposed to some other place. Bigger doesn’t always mean better. It was all personalized care. They gave her what she needed, when she needed it.”
     She was treated with respect and care at RGH. Now, his mother is home, Dr. Chacko said.
     “That is a testament as to what I believe we can do,” he concluded.


Two famous Dixie County
singers perform
the jingle

Dotti Leichner (left) and Krista Campbell perform Campbell's version of the jingle on Friday at the Dixie Music Center in Old Town.

Story and Photo
By Jeff M. Hardison © Sept. 7, 2018 at 4:38 p.m.
     OLD TOWN --
Two renowned musicians from Dixie County spontaneously performed the jingle Friday (Sept. 7), adding a special something that sent happiness waves throughout the world of jingledom.
     Krista Campbell and Dotti Leichner performed the jingle in the Dixie Music Center in the City of Old Town. Campbell has on a few occasions instantly improved the relatively simple jingle to make it even better.
     On this day in musical jingle history, she took an Ibanez guitar down from the wall of the music center to play the jingle as well. This was no ordinary Ibanez guitar, either. It was the very guitar that famous country music artist Josh Turner has autographed, and that is being raffled to help raise money for the Dixie County Education Foundation.
     Leichner and Campbell mastered this version of the jingle within five minutes of rehearsing and with one take.
     As a bit of serendipity to this already astounding event, Campbell won a Fender guitar autographed by Turner in 2015, when she was one of the raffle ticket-buyers that year to help the Foundation.
     Campbell is a renowned local musician who performs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening at The Putnam Lodge on the very northern end of Cross City (in Shamrock) on U.S. Highway 19. She sings songs requested by people at the restaurant and bar from 6 to 10 p.m. on those three night. Dottie and Bob Leichner are musicians and business owners who sell musical instruments and equipment, and provide music instruction through their independently contracted music instructors.
     Bob Leichner is an amazing drummer. However, late Friday afternoon (2 p.m.ish), he was sent on a mission to go get lunch. Therefore, he did not have time to perform with the two ladies.
     There is a long list of people and groups who have performed the jingle. In fact, the sets of performances just hit the 106 mark. is an 8-year-old daily news website.
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106th Jingle Performers

Krista Campbell (seated with guitar) and Dotti Leichner perform the jingle on Sept. 7, 2018 in the Dixie Music Center in the City of Old Town. This is Campbell’s version of the jingle that she made for this performance. Leichner and Campbell made this version within five minutes of rehearsing and with one take. Campbell is playing the Ibanez guitar autographed by Josh Turner that is being raffled to help the Dixie County Education Foundation. (There are still some tickets available as of this minute.) Campbell won a Fender guitar autographed by Turner in 2015, when she was one of the raffle ticket-buyers that year to help the Foundation. Campbell is a renowned local musician who performs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening at The Putnam Lodge on the very northern end of Cross City (in Shamrock) on U.S. Highway 19. She sings songs requested by people at the restaurant and bar from 6 to 10 p.m. on those three night. Dottie and Bob Leichner are musicians and business owners who sell musical instruments and equipment, and provide music instruction through their independently contracted music instructors. If you want to buy a guitar or anything musical, visit Dixie Music Center. 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 it, too, and some of them agree to sing it -- like these two wonderful ladies above. (Thanks people!)
Published Sept. 17, 2018 at 4:08 p.m.

© Video by Jeff M. Hardison, All Rights Reserved

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MONDAY  OCT. 15  4:08 p.m.
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