THURSDAY  JULY 29  8:11 a.m.  Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties

Private Applicator/Commercial Row Crop
Pesticide Class And Testing Offered

Pesticide classes
Information and Photo Provided
By Kristen Brault of UF/IFAS Levy County
Published July 28, 2021 at 8:11 p.m.
-- A two-part training series on restricted use pesticide handling and licensure is being offered by the UF/IFAS Extension Office, Levy County in Bronson.



More Below This Ad

CareerSource CLM 2021 State of Workforce Virtual Conference


The class is limited to the first 15 registrations.

     The dates for the trainings are Saturday, Aug. 14 and Saturday, Aug. 21.
     The program on Aug. 14 will provide a review of the materials required for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services General Standards Exam, and the program on Aug. 21 will include the materials related to both the Private Applicator Exam and the Agricultural Row Crops Exam.
     After the class on each day, participants who have an exam voucher, will be eligible to take the state exam on the day’s subject. Both classes will begin with registration at 9 a.m. and conclude by noon at the Levy County UF/ IFAS Extension Office, 625 N. Hathaway Ave. (U.S. Alt. 27) in Bronson.
     • A $15 registration fee covers both meetings.
     • Training manuals are not required but are suggested and can be purchased online through the UF/ IFAS Bookstore http://ifasbooks.ifas.ufl.edu/c-114-pesticides.aspx.
     • Registration is available through Eventbrite or by calling 352-486-5131.
     • Exam Voucher Application

Aug. 14, 9 a.m.
Core/ General Standards
     • 9-12 training
     • Lunch 12-1 (On your own)
     • 1 p.m. Testing (Voucher Required)

Aug. 21, 9 a.m.
Private Applicator and Commercial Row Crop
     • 9-12 training
     • Lunch 12-1 (On your own)
     • 1 p.m. Testing (Voucher Required)
     For more information, call 352-486-5131.


Wage and benefits survey
highlights employment trend

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published July 27, 2021 at 3:11 p.m.
     OCALA —
Enhanced employee benefits, many extended to part-timers, is one of the ways regional manufacturers have stepped up offerings to stay competitive, according to the 2021 Manufacturing Wage and Benefits Survey.
     The survey was conducted by CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion in partnership with Mid-FL Regional Manufacturers Association (MRMA) and the Ocala Human Resource Management Association (OHRMA). It provides a comprehensive look at the state of manufacturing/distribution/logistics and supply chain employment in Citrus, Levy, Marion, and Sumter counties.
      “It is so important for collaboration on this type of project to help the entire community,” said Donna Strickland, OHRMA president, adding that the group was grateful to partner in the endeavor.
     The goal of the survey, the third conducted since 2015, is to provide insight about benefits and working conditions among manufacturing, logistics and supply chain companies. The results are intended to help identify current trends and best practices in employee recruitment and retention.
     Companies that participated in the survey receive complimentary copies of the report. It is available for $300 for members of MRMA and OHRMA and $500 for all others.
     Mart T. Davis, MRMA president and board chairman, said that "given the disruption in the labor market caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, I think the results of this survey are an invaluable tool for HR teams and hiring managers.”
      “As we have all seen on marquees of multiple employers in the area, it's no longer a ‘post a job and wait for resumes and/or applications to roll in’ world,” Davis said. “Even entry-level and low skill jobs have become difficult to fill. This survey lets you know what you need to be competitive in a tight labor market. If you don't have this information, you're not in the game."
     Cory Weaver, CareerSource CLM’s director of operations, agreed that the release of the survey is ideally timed as the partnering organizations look forward to an increase in those returning to the workforce.
      “The manufacturing sector plays a vital role in our local economy,” she said. “Manufacturing in Central Florida has continued to grow despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
     In June, the Ocala metropolitan statistical area, which includes all of Marion County, had the fastest annual job growth rate in manufacturing at 8.6 percent compared to all the metro areas in the state.
     Weaver noted that the report blends statistical Labor Market Information (LMI) and real-world data for businesses to work with as important company decisions are made.
      “As the economy rebounds it is important for business leadership to have a firm understanding of the economic landscape not only in their own community, but in surrounding communities that are also vying for a skilled workforce,” she said.
     Kathleen Betz, MRMA executive director, said the report provides average starting wage, average current wage and weighted average wage for each position as well as turnover rate by industry subsector, which is new this year. It will also show expected new hires planned for each position in the next two years, per survey participant, and level of difficulty participants find in filling positions.
     “The local workforce and wages have changed significantly in the last few years and are expected to continue to change in the next couple years,” Betz said. “It will be even more important for companies to be competitive compensation-wise with other companies in the surrounding regions that are pulling from the same labor pool.”
     Betz said the report also highlights average wage and experienced wage for all companies in the four-county area as well as for each surrounding region for all positions with that title.
     A recent Labor Shed study of employment demographics and commuting patterns in the CareerSource CLM region showed that many people live in one county but work in another. The study, released in May by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, found that 48.9 percent of the workforce living in Marion County worked in another county; 57.2 percent of workers living in Citrus County worked elsewhere; and 72.3 percent of those in Levy County commuted to another county for work. In neighboring Sumter County, 70.6 percent of workers who live there travel to other counties for work.
      “We know that workers will go where the jobs are and continue to seek out the most competitive wages,” Betz said. “The (wage and benefits survey) provides important information that will allow you to compare your wages to wages paid by all companies that have that position.”
     Survey responses are confidential and converted to nondescript numbers so no company is identified.
     For more information, or to purchase the full Wage and Benefits Report, contact Betz at 352-840-5764 or MRMAdirector@outlook.com.


Exploring Finances

Is Roth IRA Better For Young Workers?
Published July 26, 2021 at 10:11 p.m.
     NEWBERRY --
If you’re in the early stages of your career, you’re probably not thinking much about retirement.
     Nonetheless, it’s never too soon to start preparing for it, as time may be your most valuable asset. So, you may want to consider retirement savings vehicles, one of which is an IRA. Depending on your income, you might have the choice between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. Which is better for you?
     There’s no one correct answer for everyone. But the more you know about the two IRAs, the more confident you’ll be when choosing one.
     First of all, the IRAs share some similarities. You can fund either one with many types of investments – stocks, bonds, mutual funds and so on. And the contribution limit is also the same – you can put in up to $6,000 a year. (Those older than 50 can put in an additional $1,000.) If you earn over a certain amount, though, your ability to contribute to a Roth IRA is reduced. In 2021, you can put in the full $6,000 if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is less than $125,000 and you’re single, or $198,000 if you’re married and file jointly. The amount you can contribute gradually declines, and is eventually limited, at higher income levels.
     But the two IRAs differ greatly in how they are taxed. Traditional IRA contributions are typically tax-deductible (subject to income limitations), and any earnings growth is tax-deferred, with taxes due when you take withdrawals. With a Roth IRA, though, your contributions are never tax-deductible – instead, you contribute after-tax dollars. Any earnings growth is tax-free when withdrawn, provided you’ve had your account at least five years and you don’t take withdrawals until you’re at least 59½.
     So, which IRA should you choose? You’ll have to weigh the respective benefits of both types. But when you’re young, you may have particularly compelling reasons to choose a Roth IRA. Given that you’re at an early point in your career, you may be in a lower tax bracket now than you will be during retirement, making the tax-deduction of traditional IRA contributions less beneficial. So, it may make sense to contribute to a Roth IRA now and take tax-free withdrawals when you’re retired.  
     Also, a Roth IRA offers more flexibility. With a traditional IRA, you could face an early withdrawal penalty, in addition to taxes, if you take money out before you’re 59½. But with a Roth, you’ll face no penalty on withdrawals from the money you contributed (not your earnings), and you’ve already paid the taxes, so you could use the money for any purpose, such as making a down payment on a home. Nonetheless, you may still want to be cautious about tapping into your IRA for your spending needs before you retire, since IRAs are designed to provide retirement income.
     If your income level permits you to select a Roth or traditional IRA, you may want to consult with your tax advisor for help in making your choice. But in any case, try to max out on your IRA contributions each year. You could spend two or three decades in retirement – and your IRA can be a valuable resource to help you enjoy those years.
    PUBLISHER’S NOTE: This article was written by Edward Jones for use by Edward Jones Financial Advisor - Sheila K. Smith, 25349 W. Newberry Road, in Newberry. Phone 352-472-2776.



KFC Opens In Chiefland
KFC Opens in Chiefland Florida  HardisonInk.com
This photo shows the Kentucky Fried Chicken addition to the former Pizza Hut location. The KFC and Pizza Hut are serving customers as of Friday (July 23). The KFC is located a little bit north of U.S. Highway 129 on the eastern side of U.S. Highway 19.

Popeyes under construction in Chiefland Florida  HardisonInk.com

Meanwhile, construction at the site for Popeyes is progressing right across the street, on the west side of U.S. 19 – just south of the Chiefland Farmers Flea Market.
Photos By Jeff M. Hardison © July 23, 2021 at 9:11 p.m.


SBA offers loans
for Hurricane Elsa repairs

By Michael Lampton, Public Affairs Director
U.S. Small Business Administration
Published July 23, 2021 at 9:11 p.m.
The United States Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Disaster Field Operations Center issued a press release today (Friday, July 23) to let Florida residents and business owners they can apply for low-interest disaster loans to offset losses from Tropical Storm Elsa.
     Florida businesses and residents affected by Tropical Storm Elsa on July 8, 2021 can apply for low-interest disaster loans from the SBA, Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced today.
     Administrator Guzman made the loans available in response to a letter from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ authorized representative Kevin Guthrie on July 20, requesting a disaster declaration by the SBA.


The declaration covers Alachua, Bradford, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy, Marion, Putnam and Union counties.

      “The SBA is strongly committed to providing the people of Florida with the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist businesses of all sizes, homeowners and renters with federal disaster loans,” Guzman said. “Getting businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”
     In accordance with health precautions for COVID-19, the SBA will not establish a field presence to assist survivors. However, the SBA will continue to provide customer service and conduct outreach virtually with webinars, phone assistance and step-by-step application assistance.
     The SBA has opened a Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center to help survivors apply online using the Electronic Loan Application via the SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/ela/s/.
     Virtual customer support representatives are available to help applicants complete the online application during these hours: Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center (VDLOC) Open: Monday-Sunday (7 days/week) Hours: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. EDT Email: FOCE-Help@sba.gov Phone: (800) 659-2955 Survivors should contact the SBA’s Disaster Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 for assistance in completing their loan applications. Requests for SBA disaster loan program information may be obtained by emailing FOCE-Help@sba.gov.
     The SBA will conduct extensive outreach to ensure that those affected by the disaster have an opportunity to apply for assistance. “Businesses and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets,” SBA’s North Florida District Director J. Malcolm Richards said.
     For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.
      “Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property,” said Kem Fleming, director of SBA’s Field Operations Center East in Atlanta.
     Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes. Eligible mitigation improvements may include a safe room or storm shelter, sump pump, French drain or retaining wall to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster. Interest rates are as low as 2.880 percent for businesses, 2 percent for nonprofit organizations, and 1.625 percent for homeowners and renters, with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.
     Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/ela/s/.
     Businesses and individuals may also obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing), or by emailing DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov.
     Completed applications should be returned to the center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
     The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Sept. 20, 2021. The deadline to return economic injury applications is April 22, 2022.


Duke Energy Florida
announces four new solar sites
Hardeetown Solar Power Plant
set to be built in Levy County

Duke Energy Florida uses the sun to create electricity

Photo and Story Provided
By Duke News Center
Published July 22, 2021 at 9:11 a.m.
Duke Energy Florida yesterday (Wednesday, July 21) announced the locations of its four newest solar power plants – the latest move in the company’s program to expand its renewable generation portfolio.
      “We continue investing in utility-scale solar in Florida because our customers deserve a cleaner energy future,” said Duke Energy Florida state president Melissa Seixas. “These solar plants are the latest milestones in our strategy to deliver reliable, cost-effective, clean energy to our customers.”
     Duke Energy Florida plans to invest an estimated $1 billion in 10 new solar power plants across Florida, including the four sites announced today.
     Construction on the four sites will begin in early 2022 and will take approximately 9 to 12 months to complete. Construction of all 10 sites is projected to be finished by late 2024.
Combined, the plants will produce about 750 megawatts (MW) of new, cost-effective solar power.
     One of the new sites will be built in Suwannee County in north Florida.
      “Suwannee County welcomes Duke Energy’s latest solar project. It promotes green energy and brings jobs and capital investment into our community,” said Suwannee County economic development director Jimmy Norris. ”We invite more opportunities that protect the environment while helping the future growth of our community.”
     The four new sites:
     • The Hildreth Solar Power Plant will be built on 635 acres in Suwannee County. Once operational, the 74.9-MW facility will consist of approximately 220,000 single-axis tracking bifacial solar panels. Its innovative double-sided panel design is highly efficient and tracks the movement of the sun. The plant will be capable of effectively producing enough electricity to power approximately 23,000 average-sized homes at peak production.
     • The Bay Ranch Solar Power Plant will be built on 645 acres in Bay County. The 74.9-MW plant will consist of approximately 220,000 single-axis bifacial tracking solar panels that will produce enough carbon-free energy to effectively power more than 23,000 average-sized homes at peak production. Its innovative double-sided panel design is highly efficient and tracks the movement of the sun.
     • The Hardeetown Solar Power Plant will be built on 650 acres in Levy County. Once operational, the 74.9-MW facility will consist of approximately 218,000 single-axis bifacial tracking solar panels. Its double-sided panel design is highly efficient and tracks the movement of the sun.
     • The High Springs Solar Power Plant is proposed to be built on 700 acres in Alachua County. Once operational, the 74.9-MW facility will consist of approximately 216,000 single-axis tracking solar panels. The plant will be capable of effectively producing enough electricity to power approximately 23,000 average-sized homes at peak production.
     Duke Energy’s solar generation portfolio represents more than $2 billion of investment, about 1,500-MW of emission-free generation and approximately five million solar panels in the ground by 2024.
     The company currently has more than 900-MW of solar generation under construction or in operation in Florida.
     Duke Energy Florida is a leader in advancing clean energy in the state.
     Earlier this year, the company announced two other new solar sites:
     • Construction is underway at the Bay Trail Solar Power Plant, sited on 500 acres in Citrus County. Once operational, the 74.9-MW facility will consist of approximately 197,000 tracking bifacial solar panels. Its innovative double-sided panel design is highly efficient and tracks the movement of the sun. The plant will be capable of effectively producing enough electricity to power approximately 23,000 average-sized homes at peak production.
     • The Fort Green Solar Power Plant is being mobilized on 500 acres in Hardee County. The 74.9-MW plant will consist of approximately 265,000 bifacial solar panels, utilizing a fixed-tilt racking system that will produce enough carbon-free energy to effectively power more than 23,000 average-sized homes at peak production.


Dr. Shirley Codada named
as Haven’s chief medical officer

Haven Hospice of Gainesville Florida
Dr. Shirley Codada

Story and Photo Provided
By Jeremy Haupt
Manager of Marketing and Communications
Published July 22, 2021 at 9:11 a.m.
Shirley Codada, MD, FAAHPM, has been named chief medical officer of Haven, North Central Florida’s legacy mission-driven provider of hospice and palliative care.
     With a career that includes working in hospice and palliative care and supportive medicine—as well as academic experience in medicine and oncologic sciences—Dr. Codada brings years of relevant experience to Haven.
     As Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Codada serves as a member of senior leadership and oversees Haven’s team of skilled providers across its 18-county service area.
     “Being headquartered in the home of the University of Florida, it’s a genuine honor for Haven to welcome a UF alumna as our new Chief Medical Officer,” noted Haven President and Chief Operating Officer Pauline Taylor, RN, MHA. “Our patient care teams will enjoy the opportunity to work and learn from her and I know the physicians, hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living communities with which we work across all of North Central Florida will benefit from collaborating with her.”
     Dr. Codada came to Haven from VITAS Healthcare, where she served as Regional Medical Director for hospice programs across North Florida and Georgia.
     “My commitment is to work tirelessly to help disseminate knowledge of hospice and palliative care -- whether to medical students, fellow physicians and nurses, or patients and families,” Dr. Codada said. “By doing so, I know I help ensure patients have access to early palliative and hospice care, ensuring greater comfort, dignity and support for patients and family alike.”
     Earlier in her career, Dr. Codada held positions as the Medical Director of the Palliative Care Program at Naples Community Hospital in Naples; Assistant Member of the Supportive Medicine Department at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa; and Associate Medical Director of the Barbara Ziegler Palliative Care Program and Gold Coast Hospice for the North Broward Hospital District in Fort Lauderdale.
     Dr. Codada received her Doctor of Medicine from the University of Florida, and did her residency in internal medicine at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For her Bachelor of Science at Barry University in Miami Shores, she majored in biology and minored in chemistry and graduated magna cum laude. She obtained her Associate in Arts degree from Miami-Dade College in Miami, where she graduated magna cum laude.
     Dr. Codada is board certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. She is licensed to practice medicine in Florida and Georgia.


Levy County expands
investment potential

Levy County Commission
Jared Blanton, CPA, finance officer in the Office of Levy County Clerk Danny Shipp, who is the comptroller for the county commission speaks from the podium to the County Commission. Blanton’s senior analyst Robert Boschen stands in the background.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © July 21, 2021 at 8:11 p.m.
     BRONSON –
The Levy County Board of County Commissioners made the potential for investment opportunities expand Tuesday (July 20).
     By two unanimous votes, the County Commission adopted a resolution and amended a county ordinance.
     Jared Blanton, CPA, is the finance officer in the Office of Levy County Clerk Danny Shipp, who is the comptroller for the county commission. Blanton brought his senior analyst Robert Boschen as he told the commissioners this is the first ordinance he has drafted.

Levy County Commission
Attorney Evan Rosenthal and attorney Heather Encinosa are serving as the interim Levy County attorneys for the County Commission, until the county hires a new attorney. County Coordinator Wilbur Dean said the county has advertised for a new attorney and it intends to advertise again. Encinosa, the more senior of the two, and Rosenthal, are both in the firm of Nabors Giblin & Nickerson.

     The proposed ordinance change is required for the county to adopt a new investment policy that will dictate the investment of funds under the control of the county -- in excess of the funds required to meet current expenses, Blanton said.
     These revisions will meet the requirement of Ordinance Number 2021-010 and section 218.415 of Florida Statutes.
     The goal of the policy is to specify safety and diversification requirements for those funds and to attempt to maximize returns within those requirements, Blanton said.

Levy County Commission
Renatta Cannon is seen in the center of the first row at the County Commission meeting on Tuesday. She is wearing a face mask as an added precaution to reduce the odds of catching or spreading COVID-19.

     Levy County resident Renatta Cannon, a relatively well-known observer of local government, asked Blanton to list the four instruments currently available for investment of excess funds by Levy County, and she asked him to name what instruments for investment will be added as a result of this ordinance amendment.
     Certificates of Deposit are among these conservative investment vehicles. Blanton and Boschen provided Cannon with the complete list of possible investment opportunities.
     The ordinance includes stringent controls and Blanton mentioned the choice he will make are more secure than a private investor would choose. This finance officer has significantly helped Levy County’s government with economic improvement repeatedly.

Levy County Commission
Levy County Property Appraiser Osborn ‘Oz’ Barker asks and receives approval from the County Commission on a budget amendment. Barker said that it is thanks to Finance Officer Blanton that this annual requirement for approval was found. Barker apologized for not getting County Commission approval before and promised to do so going forward in the coming years. Barker spoke well of Blanton.

Levy County Commission
Deputy County Clerk Shanda Jordan and County Coordinator Wilbur Dean are seen preparing for the meeting just before it starts. Jordan is the recording clerk for the County Commission meetings, and she is from the office of Levy County Clerk Danny Shipp.

Levy County Commission
Alicia Tretheway, procurement coordinator for the County Commission (in the background) and Levy County Road Department Administrative Coordinator Alice LaLonde (in the foreground) found the County Commission agreeing to their requests Tuesday.

Levy County Commission
Robert Lowyns, Levy County Veterans Service Officer, attends the meeting.


     The County Commission completed several other actions Tuesday, following are some of them:
Approved a resolution to vacate, abandon and close portions of Northwest 147th Place located in Jeanne Heiber Subdivision as requested by Ginger Nutter. Before making the approval, which was requested by Levy County Road Department Administrative Coordinator Alice LaLonde, commissioners were assured this closure would not deny access to property owners.
Approved five requests from Levy County Emergency Management Director John MacDonald related to grants, an emergency declaration (after-the-fact) from Hurricane Elsa and ratified another weekly requirement relevant to the global COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on Levy County.
Approved a task assignment related to the construction and engineering inspection for resurfacing Levy County Road 337 north from State Road 24 to the Alachua County line.


Trustees select nominating committee
By Madison Redd
Communications Specialist
Central Florida Electric Cooperative
Published July 20, 2021 at 2:11 p.m.
The Board of Trustees of Central Florida Electric Cooperative Inc. met and appointed the following members as a committee for nominations: Randy Alumbaugh, William Busbee, William Goess, Patricia Ingram, Walter C. “W.C.” Mills Jr., Marion Michael O’Steen and Carolyn Snyder.
     The committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, July 27 to select nominees to represent districts 2, 3, and 7 as Trustees of Central Florida Electric Cooperative Inc.
     These districts are presently represented by: District 2 – Carl Roof; District 3 – Tony Weeks; and District 7 – Kenny O’Steen


Unemployment rate goes up
Ocala MSA leads state
in fastest manufacturing job growth rate

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published July 16, 2021 at 5:11 p.m.
     OCALA –
The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region rose nearly a percentage point in June to 6.4 percent – driven in part by the seasonal summer spike, but also perhaps an indication that more people are looking for work as federal pandemic payments end.
     Across the three-county region, the labor force was 213,663, down 1,660 compared to May but up 15,745 over the year for an annual growth rate of 8.0 percent. The number of those with jobs fell by 419 over the month to 199,992 but grew by 21,657 compared to June 2020. The number of unemployed increased by 2,149 since May to 13,741, which is a decrease of 5,842 than the number out of work a year ago. The June unemployment rate was 3.5 percentage points lower than the region’s year ago rate of 9.9 percent.
     According to today’s (Friday, July 16) release of preliminary employment numbers by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Levy County continued to hold the lowest jobless rate in the region at 5.8 percent, up 1.0 percent over the month; Marion County followed with a rate of 6.2 percent, an increase of 0.9 percentage point; and Citrus County’s rate was 7.2 percent, up 1.1 percentage point. Florida’s not seasonally adjusted jobless rate – a measure that matches the way local rates are calculated – was 5.7 percent, an increase of 0.7 percentage point over the month and 6.0 percent lower than June 2020.
     The nonagricultural employment in the Ocala metropolitan statistical area, which covers all of Marion County, was 106,900 in June, an increase of 3,800 jobs over the year for a 3.7 percent annual growth rate.
     The Ocala MSA had the fastest annual job growth rate compared to all the metro areas in the state in manufacturing at 8.6 percent.
     In the Homosassa Springs MSA, which includes all of Citrus County, there were 32,500 nonfarm jobs, an increase of 900 jobs over the year for an annual growth rate of 2.8 percent
     Rusty Skinner, CEO of CareerSource CLM, said it has been “a strange year and there is a strong possibility that we’re seeing some traditional summer slump, but we also may be seeing the first effects of the drive to the labor force due to the reduction of the $300 a week federal unemployment payments.”
     Skinner added that is reflected statewide, noting that among Florida’s 67 counties, 66 saw unemployment rates rise in June while one rate was unchanged.
      “The good news is we know there are businesses out there eager to hire,” he said. “Last month, we had 40 businesses recruiting at our first in-person job fair since the pandemic, next week we’ll holding a Healthcare Job Fair and on July 28, we’re partnering with neighboring workforce regions on an Agriculture Job Fair. No one needs to be out of work in our region if they want a job.”
     Here is a breakdown of the May jobs numbers for each county:
     Citrus County’s labor force in June expanded by 344 to 49,413, the number of employed fell by 229 to 45,842, and the number of unemployed rose by 573 to 3,571. Compared to June 2020 when the unemployment rate was 11.1 percent, the labor force grew by 3,157, there were 4,739 more employed and 1,582 fewer unemployed.
     Levy County’s labor force contracted by 49 over the month to 17,587, the number of those with jobs decreased by 217 to 16,569, and the number of jobless increased by 168 to 1,018. Over the year, when the jobless rate was 8.2 percent, those numbers represent 1,636 more in the labor force, an increase of 1,923 with jobs, and a decrease of 287 unemployed.
     Marion County’s labor force expanded by 1.365 to 146,663, the number of those with jobs dropped by 43 to 137,511, and the number of unemployed rose by 1,408 to 9,152. Compared to the same time last year, when the jobless rate was 9.7 percent, the labor force grew by 10,952, the number of employed increased by 14,925 and the number of unemployed dropped by 3,973.
     In addition to manufacturing in the Ocala MSA, trade, transportation and utilities (+3.9 percent) and government (+1.5 percent) industries grew faster in the metro area than statewide over the year.
     Industries gaining jobs over the year were trade, transportation, and utilities (+1,000 jobs); leisure and hospitality (+800 jobs); manufacturing (+800 jobs); professional and business services (+400 jobs); education and health services (+300 jobs); government (+200 jobs); mining, logging, and construction (+200 jobs); and other services (+100 jobs).
     The information and financial activities industries were unchanged over the year, while no industry sectors reported job losses.
     Citrus County tied with Osceola and Sumter counties with the fourth highest jobless rate; Marion County tied with Gadsden County with the 13th highest rate; and Levy County tied with Calhoun and Volusia counties with the 22nd highest.
     Among the state’s metro areas, the Homosassa Springs MSA tied with The Villages, which includes a portion of Marion County, with the second highest rate and the Ocala MSA was sixth. stayed at the seventh highest rate.
     The region’s preliminary employment summary for July is scheduled to be released on Friday, Aug. 20.


Subway perks up with new ingredients
Local franchises give away sandwiches

Subway in Chiefland Florida  Eat Fresh
Among the many Subway employees in the Tri-County Area of Levy County, Dixie County and Gilchrist County, here are four members of the Chiefland team who were on duty Tuesday morning (July 13) during the six-inch Turkey Cali-Fresh Sub giveaway. They are (from left) Jennee Jaime, Shelbi Ippolito, Kayla Johnson and Mike Carlson.

Story and Photo
By Jeff M. Hardison © July 13, 2021 at 2:11 p.m.
Subway, a Connecticut-based company, saw a decline in revenue, as did many restaurants during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
     Subway's parent company Doctor’s Associates reported 2020 revenue at $689.1 million, down 28 percent from 2019′s net sales of $958.9 million, according to franchise disclosure documents.
     Due to the pandemic, Subway reportedly closed 10 percent of its stores in 2020.
     Today (Tuesday, July 13) morning from 10 a.m. to noon local time, Subway restaurants across the nation pledged to give away up to one million free subs.
     In Bronson and Chiefland, for instance, each of those franchises promised 50 free subs each for those two hours. Other franchises in the area may have done so as well.
     The six-inch submarine sandwiches being given away for free were of a particular type. The Turkey Cali-Fresh Sub included thinly sliced turkey, hickory smoked bacon, squashed avocado and fresh Mozzarella cheese, as well as whatever toppings the patron wanted.
     Subway is starting fresh with new 12 new ingredients and a new mobile app to bring back customers, according to its national branding. The menu changes are called “Eat Fresh, Refresh."
     Subway restaurants across the country unveiled the menu designed to improve items across the board today (Tuesday, July 13). The chain says the move is the biggest menu change in its history.
     The revisions include new recipes for the chain's Italian and multigrain breads, as well as new sandwich toppings.
     Mike Carlson, manager of the Chiefland Subway said on Tuesday morning that Subway's bacon, for example, is changing to now be hickory-smoked.
     The meats like turkey and ham are sliced more thinly now, he said.
     Patrons of Subway like the ability to have a mixture of vegetables and protein without breaking the bank, and the new added options are forecast to keep loyal customers, as well as to bring back former customers and attract new diners to the brand.



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