Publisher enlightens Rotarians
Jeff Hardison  Paige Brookins Pen Award Rotary owner and publisher Jeff M. Hardison accepts a ballpoint ink pen from Chiefland Rotary Club President Paige Brookins for his service to the club as a guest speaker on Wednesday (Dec. 11). The navy-blue pen with gold letters says ‘Chiefland Rotary Club Guest Speaker’ and it has the Rotary symbol on it.

Photo By Brandy Crittenden Horne

By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 11, 2019 at 6:49 p.m.
About a dozen members of the Chiefland Rotary Club on Wednesday afternoon (Dec. 11) heard a little bit about multiple award-winning journalist Jeff Hardison's 9-year-old daily news website named



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Chiefland Rotary
Stoney Smith and Paige Brookins prepare to listen to the guest speaker at the Chiefland Rotary Club meeting on Wednesday.

Chiefland Rotary
Some of the members of the Chiefland Rotary Club on Wednesday.

Photos By Jeff M. Hardison

     Chiefland Rotary Club President Paige Brookins invited the 63-year-old journalist to be the guest speaker when their paths crossed Monday night (Dec. 9) at the Chiefland City Commission meeting.
     The journalist said he was very happy to have been invited and all of the Rotarians were polite and welcoming.
     "I really had a blast," Hardison said after the Wednesday afternoon lunch. "The Gathering Table is a nice place to have lunch, too. I'm hoping that those Rotarians feed their guest speakers, because I sort of helped myself to the buffet lunch and I didn't ask about paying.”
     As for the topics about which he spoke, Hardison spoke about the late Mayor Teal Pomeroy and the late Mayor Betty Walker. Hardison spoke about his website’s participation in the Sesquicentennial celebration in Chiefland, and a special trip by the three-time state softball champions from Chiefland High School to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
     He told Rotarians that real journalists report without fear or favor.
     Hardison briefly shared some information about his part in covering the sovereign rights of Floridians in Glades County in regard to Fisheating Creek.
     The journalist spoke about his early years with
     “I mentioned my appreciation for Jason Kennedy letting me sit in Burger King nine years ago and upload and download stories for hours on end, because we did not have a fast Internet Service Provider where I lived back then,” Hardison said. “I also reminded the listeners that the public libraries are a vital resource for many people to use the Internet for research, work, recreation and for socializing.”
     He shared stories about Goldy, Inky and Needles -- all cats. Not every Rotarian likes cats.
     "Before I spoke about the cats, I asked if anyone hated cats to the degree that they would kill one if they saw it," Hardison said. "No Rotarian would go that far. There was a student back when I taught at Admiral Farragut Academy who disliked cats to that degree. So, I thought it might be a good idea to take the pulse of this audience."
     The journalist spoke about difficulties of being a member of the press. He said there is no way to make everyone happy about what they read. Not every story is going to make every person pleased -- especially if it is about them and the truth does not reflect well on what they did.
     He very briefly touched on some of his work in Naples, and some other parts of Florida.
     "I hope the Chiefland Rotarians enjoyed my speech as much as I did," Hardison said. "After the meeting, one of the members asked me if I thought the University of Florida was still teaching journalists to be objective - and to just report the truth.
     "My guess is that is what is happening," Hardison said. "During my call for questions, one member asked if I thought newspapers would become extinct. I am guessing they will, except for as an oddity or as a museum piece or something."
     Hardison said he gave a plug for listeners to buy an ad on if they did not have one there, already.
     "One jokester said he wanted to buy a three-month ad rather than a one-year ad," Hardison said. "Another businessman said he would not buy an ad because at some point I noted for him, as I do for all people, I do not sell my photographs. It's all good. People who want more business will buy ads in It is the best return on investment for ad dollars, and it helps support a local sole proprietor who is a journalist."


Duke Energy installs
562 smart meters in Chiefland;

Others set for Tri-County Area
Duke Energy Florida Smart Meter
A contractor for Duke Energy installs a smart meter.

Photo Provided

By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 10, 2019 at 4:09 p.m.
Duke Energy Florida began installing smart meters for Florida customers in November of 2018 and it plans to continue installing them through 2021 by expanding into its entire Florida service territory for all 1.8 million customers, Peveeta Persaud, APR, of Duke Energy, Corporate Communications noted on Monday (Dec. 9).
     “We’re installing smart meters in your readership area beginning in mid-December (Inverness, Dunnellon, Lecanto) and early January (Crystal River) and recently completed installations in Chiefland,” she said in a Dec. 9 email to
     Smart meters have been successfully deployed in other Duke Energy Florida areas and more than 700,000 customers in Florida are benefiting from the benefits of smart meters, she wrote.
     These benefits include:
     ● Access to detailed usage information (hourly/daily) – providing the ability to better monitor how customers use energy and empowering them to make even smarter energy-saving choices
     ● Usage alerts – receive an email or text alert halfway through the billing cycle with usage status;
     ● Enhanced outage detection - Get better response time and quicker repairs after an outage;
     ● Pick your due date – Customers can conveniently choose what day they want their bill to be due; and
     ● Starting or stopping service remotely – without having to make an appointment.
     Persaud provided more insight.
     For instance, there are 562 smart meters installed by Duke in Chiefland now.
     Duke Energy has about 3,600 customers in Levy County, Persaud said.
     "We’ve completed or nearly completed installations for customers in Chiefland and Bronson and have not yet started installations in Inglis," she said.
     "We should be complete in the Inglis area by next spring," she added. 
     Duke Energy has about 1,800 customers in Dixie County and has completed installation of smart meters in Cross City.
     Duke Energy has nearly 1,800 customers in Gilchrist County, Persaud said. Duke has completed installations in Trenton and Fanning Springs, she said.
     "At Duke Energy," Persaud noted in a follow-up email on Tuesday, "we are determined to get better; to provide safer, more reliable and secure energy to all our customers. We are making strategic, data-driven investments to improve reliability, protect against cyber and physical threats, utilize more solar and clean energy, and provide customers with the intelligent information they need to make smart energy choices and save money."
     Smart meters provide intelligent information to help customers make smart choices to save energy and money before their bill is due. Smart meters are the gateway to more customer options and control, enabling options like usage alerts, improved outage detection and new programs tailored to help customers make smarter energy choices and take advantage of new technologies, Persaud noted.

What is a smart meter?
     Just as mobile phones, laptops and tablets continue to evolve as helpful information and communication tools, a smart meter is the next evolution of the traditional electric meter. A smart meter records energy consumption using digital technology and then securely transmits the data to Duke Energy using two-way communication. This information also provides the customers with detailed information to help them manage their energy use and save money, Persaud said.

Why is Duke Energy installing smart meters?
     Duke Energy wants to give its customers more control over how they use energy and tools to save money. Smart meters provide customers with more information to help you make smart choices to save energy and money before the bill arrives. Smart meters can provide daily and hourly usage information (available in Florida later this year), as well as enable usage alerts to keep you informed about your energy use. Smart meters also provide enhanced outage detection and can help to improve the restoration process when outages occur. Smart meters are an important part of Duke Energy Florida’s plans to provide customers with a stronger, smarter, more reliable electric system, Persaud said.

Impact to Customer Bills
     There is not an upfront cost to customers to receive a smart meter. The costs are included in the monthly bill, just as the current meter has been part of the bill.
     Click HERE to see information on smart meters.


Invest In Your
Family and Community

Published Nov. 9, 2019 at 11:09 p.m.
     NEWBERRY --
Why do you invest?
     For many people, here’s the answer: “I invest because I want to enjoy a comfortable retirement.” And that’s certainly a great reason, because all of us should regularly put money away for when we’re retired. But you can also benefit by investing in your family and your community.
     Let’s start with your family members, particularly the younger ones. How can you invest in their future? One of the best ways is to help send them to college. A college degree is still a pretty good investment: The average lifetime earnings of a college graduate are nearly $1 million higher than those of someone with a high school degree, according to a study by the U.S. Census Bureau.
     To help your children or grandchildren pay for any college, university, vocational school or other postsecondary education, you may want to open a 529 savings plan. With this account, withdrawals are federally tax free, as long as the money is used for qualified higher education expenses, including those from trade and vocational schools. (However, if you withdraw some of the earnings on your account, and you don’t use the money for qualified expenses, it will be taxable and can also incur a 10% federal tax penalty.) Plus, you retain control of the funds until it’s time for them to be used for school, so if your original beneficiary chooses not to pursue some type of higher education, you can name a different eligible beneficiary.
     Another way to invest in your family is to help your adult children avoid feeling obligated to provide financial assistance to you. For example, if you ever required some type of long-term care, such as an extended stay in a nursing home, could you afford it? The average cost for a private room in a nursing home is more than $100,000 per year, according to a study by Genworth, an insurance company. And Medicare typically pays very few of these expenses. So, to avoid burdening your adult children – while also preserving your own financial independence – you may want to consider some type of long-term care insurance. A financial advisor can help you determine what coverage may be appropriate.
     Moving beyond your family, you may want to invest in the social fabric of your community by contributing to local charitable, civic, educational or cultural groups. Of course, now that we’re in the holiday season, it’s the perfect time for such gifts. Furthermore, your gift will be more appreciated than in years past because one of the chief incentives for charitable giving – a tax deduction – was lost for many people due to tax law changes, which raised the standard deduction so significantly that far fewer people chose to itemize deductions. However, you might still be able to gain some tax benefits from your charitable gifts. To name one possibility, you could donate financial assets, such as stocks that have risen in value, freeing you of potential capital gains taxes. In any case, contact your tax advisor if you’re considering sizable charitable gifts.
     Saving for your retirement will always be important. But don’t forget about investing in your family and your community – because these investments can provide satisfying returns.
     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.


Tobacco product marketing
and advertising influences kids

By Kristina Zachry, MPH, Levy Community Health Advocate
Published Dec. 7, 2019 at 9:29 a.m.
Studies show that tobacco use is associated with exposure to retail advertising and easy access to tobacco products.
     Tobacco companies have significant control over their products’ location, advertising, and pricing in retail stores in return for financial incentives that they provide to retailers. Since tobacco companies are limited in the advertising options they can legally use, a vital industry strategy involves saturating convenience stores with tobacco ads and highly visible tobacco products.
     According to the CDC, in 2017, cigarette and smokeless tobacco companies spent $9.36 billion, or more than $25 million per day, on advertising and promotion of their products in the United States. That’s more than $1 million every hour! About 71.7 percent, or $6.19 billion, of that total was spent on payments to retailers for price discounts to reduce the cost of cigarettes for consumers. Unfortunately, current information on promotion and marketing of electronic products is not available, but a quick glance around at any local convenience store will show you that these products are also aggressively marketed – especially brands popular with youth, such as JUUL.
     The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids’ 2016 Deadly Alliance Update Report found nearly half of adolescents visit a convenience store at least once a week. This is especially concerning, considering the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report concluded that, “Advertising and promotional activities by the tobacco companies cause the onset and continuation of smoking among adolescents and young adults.” Furthermore, exposure to tobacco marketing and tobacco product displays can make quit attempts more difficult, as they increase tobacco product cravings.
     The pervasiveness and density of tobacco retailers, particularly near schools, makes it easier for youth to access tobacco. Local retail licensing policies can address where tobacco can be sold through regulating the type, number, location, and/or density of tobacco retailers in an area. Licensing and zoning policies provide local governments with opportunities to effectively reduce youth exposure to and availability of tobacco products. These types of policies can also help to reduce neighborhood disparities in tobacco retailer density and marketing volume.
     Levy County has nearly 70 establishments with licenses to sell tobacco, not including stores that only sell electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS or e-cigarettes) as they are not required to hold a license to sell nicotine by the state. The Tobacco Free Partnership of Levy County has completed monitoring of the types of tobacco and related products that are sold in every store and how these products are marketed. Further monitoring of a subset of stores identified as having additional agreements for responsible tobacco retailing were also recently completed.
     The results in Levy County showed that the tobacco industry heavily markets their products in local stores and advertising of products is prevalent, even in stores with additional agreements. Often tobacco products are displayed within 12 inches of youth-oriented items, such as candy or toys. Many advertisements are placed at a child’s eye level (3 feet or below). Local tobacco retail licensing policies can also address these problems, as well as require stores that only sell e-cigarettes to have a local license to sell products containing nicotine.
     In 2001, Levy County Commissioners passed a tobacco product placement ordinance that applies to unincorporated areas, which specifies that tobacco products are to be placed behind the sales counter, requiring retailer assistance for purchase. The cities of Williston and Cedar Key have also passed similar ordinances; however, Cedar Key’s ordinance is the only policy that specifically includes electronic cigarettes. Electronic Nicotine Delivery Devices (e-cigarettes) did not become widely available in the United States until 2006.
     Students in Levy County are still accessing and using tobacco products, despite the previously passed policies. According to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey in 2018, 22.8 percent of Levy youth ages 11-17 reported current use of cigarettes, cigars, smokeless, hookah, or electronic vaping - compared to the state rate of 19.1 percent. Current use of cigarettes (5.2 percent) by Levy County youth is over twice the state of Florida rate (2.2 percent) and Levy youth use smokeless tobacco (6.8 percent) at a rate FOUR times higher than the state rate (1.7 percent). Current use of e-cigarettes by Levy youth (14.8 percent) is now slightly lower than the rate for Florida (15.7 percent), down from 16.8 percent reported in 2016 by Levy youth.
     The Levy County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) program and the Tobacco Free Partnership of Levy County work to educate community members and decision makers about how youth and adult tobacco use in Levy is impacted by tobacco product placement, marketing, and advertising at the point of sale in convenience stores, gas stations, and other stores that sell tobacco products. Partnership members advocate for the passing of local policies to protect youth from addiction and the tobacco industry’s influence.
     If you are interested in learning more about the work of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Levy County, please contact us at or 352-577-4309 or visit our partnership website


Graduation set for Dec. 17
for Marion County’s
10th Phoenix Rising YouthBuild

Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Dec. 3, 2019 at 5:09 p.m.
     OCALA –
Phoenix Rising YouthBuild students will trade hardhats and tool belts for mortar boards and diplomas as they graduate from Marion County’s 10th Phoenix Rising YouthBuild project.
     Graduation takes place Tuesday, Dec. 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the College of Central Florida Webber Center, 3001 S.W. College Road, in Ocala.
During the program, the following graduates will be recognized: Dazreashia “Daz” Coleman, Jakeem McQueen, Jakira Walker, John Gaulke, Korey Dubois, Milena Hovis, Noah Cloud, Rakim Daughn, Robert Thomas, Tarvis Taylor Jr., Tyrese Benton, Wender Mora Peguero, William “Michael” Thomas, Winter Hovis and Zachary Wright.
     The ceremony caps off the 20-week alternative education program that got its start in Ocala in 2011. Phoenix Rising helps revitalize economically-challenged neighborhoods while making a positive difference in the lives of young adults through classroom and hands-on instruction that lead to employment and/or enrollment in a post-secondary education or training program. Students also have the opportunity to earn their high school diploma as well as industry certifications and weekly stipend.
     The most visible feature of the program is construction of homes for deserving families in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Marion County. CareerSource CLM and its youth services provider, Eckerd Connects Workforce Development, recruit students, provide career coaches to help oversee the program, handle classroom employability training and work alongside students at the construction site.
     Major funding for the program comes from a grant obtained by CareerSource CLM from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration. Current year federal funding for YouthBuild is $466,821. All told, 33 homes have been built and 214 students have taken part in Phoenix Rising programs in Marion and Citrus counties.
     Heaven Colon, Eckerd site manager, said that “These amazing young adults have been working diligently on obtaining industry recognized credentials such as construction plus trade certificates, customer service, hospitality and more; all while most of them working and earning their high school diplomas.”
Colon said that previous graduates will also be recognized during the Dec. 17 ceremony.
     In addition to CareerSource CLM, Eckerd and Habitat, primary partners include the City of Ocala, Marion County Board of County Commissioners, College of Central Florida (Hampton Center), Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Neighborhood Housing and Development Corporation, Florida State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP) and Equal Housing Opportunity, and Silver River Mentoring & Instruction (SRMI).
     Phoenix Rising YouthBuild has become a national model of what communities can build when public/private partners work together. It has earned recognition from the Florida League of Cities and the National League of Cities, Harvard's School of Business and received Habitat for Humanity International's highest honor, the Clarence E. Jordan Award for creativity and innovation in building homes and communities.
     For more information about the Phoenix Rising YouthBuild, call 352-291-9550, ext. 2293 or 800-434-JOBS, ext. 2293.


CF journalism students
take home awards

CF Journalists
Student members of Imprints Magazine Steven Vargas, Byron Luckey, Emily Bennett and Stephanie Gallent with faculty member Zackery Cote.

Story and Photos
Provided By CF Marketing and Public Relations Director Lois Brauckmuller
Published Dec. 2, 2019 at 9:09 p.m.
     OCALA --
College of Central Florida students won numerous awards for student newspaper and literary magazines on Friday, Nov. 15, at the Florida College System Publications Association awards banquet in Tampa.    
     Imprints, CF Ocala Campus literary magazine, won General Excellence, which is the overall accumulation of points in each category, first place for Design, Contents Page and Two-Page Spread. It also received first place for submissions to the magazine in the Art, Poetry and Photography categories. CF students Emily Bennett and Byron Luckey both placed in the Inner Circle category, which is reserved for students who place in at least three categories.

CF Journalists
(front row, from left): Rob Marino, Patriot Press advisor, Delaney Van Nest, Nathalya Reyes, Reagan Knight, Ta’Bria Snowden. (back row, from left) Lily Carnival, Taukiya Williams, Zach Grinstead.

     The Patriot Press, CF’s student newspaper, placed fourth in the Newspaper division. Delaney Van Nest won an Inner Circle award for placing in four different categories, including CF’s only two first-place awards for News Photo for her photo of CF’s simulated active shooter drill in fall 2018, as well as photo picture story for her collage of a 2018 summer concert. She was awarded second place in Editorial Cartoon and in Humor Writing for her spoof on being an “insomniac.”
     Lily Carnival was awarded Inner Circle for placing in three categories: third place for In-Depth Reporting for her story on feminine products, third in Arts Review for coverage of a CF play in fall 2018, and third in illustration.
     Zach Grinstead, the current co-editor-in-chief, placed third in Sports Column for his coverage of softball Coach Kevin Fagan and third in Sports Writing for his feature on a CF baseball player.
     Former co-editor-in-chief Nathalya Reyes placed third in General Column for her series on balancing work and college, and former section editor Mya Kreuer placed second in Feature Story for her article on CF Professor Julee McCammon.

CF Journalists
(from left) Giovanna Mainella, Jennifer Barton, Justin McNeight, April Howell, Jon Schneiderman (advisor), Ja’Onna Brown, Marjorie Johnston, Tamara Chiles, Joseph Barton.

     In the Write Mind, CF Citrus Campus literary magazine, placed first in the magazine division for staff page’ and CF student Ja’Onna Brown won an Honorable Mention in On the Spot poetry competition.
     CF Professor of Communications Zackery Cote was also elected vice president of the Florida College System Publications Association
     The Florida College System Publications Association brings students and advisors together to provide a common ground for discussion of publications and mass media. The association provides responsible guidance to student publications to ensure their growth as a medium for the education of future citizens of a free society and to obtain the best thinking on problems in publications and mass communications and to share this thinking.

Florida supervisors of elections to offer scholarship opportunities
Published Dec. 2, 2019 at 9:09 p.m.
     BRONSON --
Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones announced the opportunity for local college or university students to apply for a $1,200 scholarship through the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Election (FSASE).
     The FSASE is a statewide, professional organization of 67 counties’ supervisor of elections in Florida, providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences.
     FSASE will award three $1,200 scholarships this year to political science, public or business administration or journalism/mass communications majors who have finished two years of junior college or undergraduate work.
     Applicants must be enrolled or accepted as full-time students in a senior college or university in Florida.
     Guidelines and applications for the FSASE scholarships are available at or may be picked up at the Levy County Supervisor of Elections office, located at 421 S. Court St., Bronson, Florida 32621.
     The completed FSASE scholarship application, resume and two letters of recommendations must be submitted by Feb. 28, 2020 to the Supervisor of Elections of the county in which the applicants are registered to vote.
     For more information, please contact the Levy County Supervisor of Elections Office at 352-486-5163 or send an email to


College of Central Florida lands
Hospitality Management grant

By CF Marketing, Public and Community Relations
Published Nov. 26, 2019 at 11:09 p.m.
     OCALA —
The College of Central Florida has received an $80,000 grant to develop a Hospitality Management apprenticeship program to meet the growing need for hospitality jobs in the Tri-County Area of Citrus, Levy and Marion counties.
     The grant is part of the Pathways to Career Opportunities grant program managed by the Florida Department of Education to assist state colleges and technical centers to establish apprenticeship opportunities. The college will partner with Hotel Development and Management Group LLC (HDG Hotels), CareerSource of Citrus, Levy and Marion counties, and the American Hotel and Lodging Association to develop an apprenticeship program that will allow participants to earn a college credit certificate, along with an industry certification as a Certified Hospitality Supervisor.
     “Access to education and training has a tremendous capacity to positively impact individual lives as well as the businesses and communities in which such access is available,” said Lisa Lombardo, chief people and culture officer for HDG Hotels. “We are proud to be growing our partnerships with CF and the American Hotel and Lodging Association in ways that will once again offer our team members opportunities to grow with us.”
     Additionally, apprentices who complete the program will receive at least 15 college credits that can potentially go toward an Associate in Science degree. Initially, many of the apprentices participating in the program will be current HDG Hotels employees; it eventually will be open to other organizations within the hotel industry. The program is expected to begin in the Fall Semester 2020.
     In January 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 19-31, which included a directive to the Commissioner of Education to secure $10 million for the Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant. High schools, school district career centers, charter technical career centers, Florida College System institutions, and other entities authorized to sponsor an apprenticeship or preapprenticeship program were encouraged to pursue this competitive grant to create new or expand existing apprenticeship and preapprenticeship programs.
     For more information, click HERE or call 352-873-5800.


Association of Florida College
honors CF with several awards

By CF Marketing, Public and Community Relations
Published Nov. 20, 2019 at 10:09 p.m.
     OCALA --
The College of Central Florida was honored with several awards at the Association of Florida Colleges annual conference in Palm Harbor Nov. 6-8.
     The CF AFC Chapter won Platinum chapter status, Cara Bennett was presented the Unsung Hero award for Region Three and retired CF staff member Debbie Bowe was given honorary Lifetime AFC Membership. Kim Sellers and Rory Wells were awarded their Certified College Professional designation.
     CF Marketing and Public Relations earned 11 Awards of Excellence from the Communications and Marketing Commission: first place for their Yearbook Print Advertisement, Financial Aid and Program Brochures, and High School Poster Series; second place for the 2017-2018 Annual Report, Fall 2018 and Summer 2019 Connection Magazine and the Domestic Violence Single Sheet Flyer; and two third place awards, for the CF was the Right Choice for Me Video/Digital Promotion and the International Viewbook/Recruitment piece.
     In addition, the student art and literary magazine Imprints won first place for Faculty-Advised Student Publication.
     Three CF team members accepted 2020 leadership positions: Marjorie McGee will serve as immediate past president of the state organization, Jean Scheppers will serve as the Faculty Commission Chair, and Tina Banner will serve as the Communications and Marketing Commission vice chair.


Holiday savings
in the Appleton store
from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1

Appleton Store
A woman holds a necklace as Santa Claus speaks with her about the jewelry.

Story and Photo
By CF Marketing, Public and Community Relations,
Published Nov. 18, 2019 at 8:09 p.m.
     OCALA —
The Appleton Museum of Art, College of Central Florida, invites shoppers for a long weekend of savings in the Appleton Store, Nov. 29-Dec. 1.
     Whether you plan to brave the crowds on Black Friday, Shop Small on Saturday, or support Museum Store Sunday, the Appleton Store has shoppers covered with amazing deals on all three days! Appleton members will receive a 30 percent discount on purchases; nonmembers receive a 20 percent discount. This includes everything from a large array of holiday home decor and gifting, one-of-a-kind jewelry from local artists, art supplies and toys for children, to scarves, hats and bags imprinted with your favorite paintings. Books and items already on clearance are excluded from discounts.
     Need a gift for the person who has everything? Give the gift of art by way of gift memberships, admission tickets or certificates for studio art classes. Memberships are available at a variety of levels to fit all needs; basic memberships range from $10-$60.
     There is no admission fee to shop in the Appleton Store. The museum, ARTSpace and Appleton Store are open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday and closed every Monday. The museum is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
     Owned and operated by the College of Central Florida, the Appleton Museum of Art is located at 4333 E. Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala, east of downtown on SR 40 (exit 352 east off I-75 or exit 268 west off I-95). Parking is free. For more information, call 352-291-4455 or visit


Rotarians learn about
tourism in Gilchrist County

Gilchrist County Rotary Club
Gilchrist County Rotary Club President Bob Clemons and Pat Watson
Story and Photo
By Holly Creel, Rotarian
Published Nov. 18, 2019 at 9:09 p.m.
     TRENTON --
Pat Watson, executive administrative assistant to Trenton City Manager Lyle Wilkerson, gave an enlightening presentation to the Gilchrist Rotary Club on Monday, Nov. 18, at the Woman's Club in Trenton.
     Pat explained the composition of tourists in Gilchrist County and how we benefit from the dollars they spend in our beautiful community. When you think of a tourist, you may think of a sunburned man or woman in a flowered shirt with a big hat and a camera around their neck.
     Our local tourists look a bit different. They are usually paddling, tubing, snorkeling, swimming, paddleboarding, diving or fishing in the beautiful rivers or springs in Gilchrist County. Or, they may be found hiking or biking on the serene and picturesque trails.
     Last year, tourists spent $2.9 million just in overnight stays at our local campgrounds Add to that the money spent on gasoline, groceries, canoe and kayak rentals and Pat explained we can safely estimate that over $5 million was spent by tourists in our county.
     What does all of this mean for Gilchrist County?  It means that tourists are temporary taxpayers.
     Think about this. In 2007, the bed tax monies collected was $15,367.  Campsite rentals include a 2 percent bed tax. In 2019 we have collected $58,642 already and this increase shows the progress that the Tourist Development Council (TDC) has made in Gilchrist County.
     The benefits to those of us living in Gilchrist County are that each household can pay less in state and local taxes. And, as Rotarian Damon Leggett pointed out, those tourists often observe the wonderful way of life we enjoy in Gilchrist County and often choose to move here and become a part of our community.       Thank you to Pat for your informative and fun presentation!
     Chef Jason Fuchs of Springwater Events served Cuban panini sandwiches, kettle chips, Baja coleslaw, cranberry and chocolate chip brownies and sweet and unsweetened tea for lunch.


Region’s October jobless rate
continues to fall

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Nov. 16, 2019 at 6:39 a.m.

     OCALA – The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 3.5 percent in October, down 0.2 percentage point over the month and 0.6 percentage point lower than the same time last year.
     Over the year, the region’s labor force expanded by 3,387 to 205,547, the number of those with jobs increased by 4,385 to 198,255 and those unemployed fell by 998 to 7,292.
     According to today’s release of October’s preliminary jobs numbers by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Levy County continues to hold the lowest jobless rate in the region at 3.2 percent followed by Marion County with a rate of 3.4 percent – both counties’ rates dropped 0.1 percentage point compared to September -- and Citrus County’s rate fell from 4.3 percent to 4.1 percent.
     Florida’s not seasonally adjusted jobless rate – a measure that matches the way local rates are calculated – is 2.9 percent, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point over the month and down from 3.3 percent a year ago.
     CareerSource CLM’s CEO Rusty Skinner said “Pre-holiday periods often show fluctuations.The year-to-year numbers show an overall positive movement in the workforce with more people working and both a numerical and percentage drop in unemployment.”
     Skinner added that “the short term data from Citrus and Levy counties shows some positive, pre-holiday gains with employment up in both counties and a reduction in unemployment from the previous month. Marion County, while showing a drop in the unemployment rate and number, had slight drops in both labor force and employment.” 
     Citrus County’s labor force grew by 20 over the month to 48,558, the number of employed rose by 78 to 46,552 while the number of unemployed fell by 98 to 2,006. Compared to October 2018, when the jobless rate was 4.8 percent, the labor force has expanded by 3,578; there are 658 more employed and a decrease of 301 unemployed. 
     Levy County’s labor force expanded by 32 to 17,300, the number of those with jobs increased by 52 to 16,755, and the number of unemployed decreased by 20 to 545. That’s an over-the-year increase of 160 in the labor force, 230 more working and drop of 70 unemployed compared to when the rate was 3.6 percent.
     Marion County’s labor force contracted by 216 to 139,689, the number of those with jobs dropped by 58 to 134,948 and the number of unemployed fell by 158 to 4,741. Compared to October 2018, when the rate was 3.9 percent, the labor force has expended by 2,870, there are 3,497 more employed and 627 fewer unemployed.
     Nonfarm employment in October 2019 for the Ocala/Marion County metropolitan statistical area was 108,300, an increase of 2,800 jobs over the year for a growth rate of 2.7 percent.
     The Homosassa Springs MSA’s nonfarm employment was 34,300, an increase of 500 new jobs over the year for a job growth rate of 1.5 percent.
     The Ocala MSA had the third fastest annual job growth rate compared to all other metro areas in the state in education and health services at 4.7 percent, adding 900 new jobs for a total of 20,100, and “other” services at 3.6 percent with 100 new jobs for a total of 2,900.
     Industries that also grew faster in the Ocala metro than statewide over the year were leisure and hospitality, adding 700 jobs for a total of 13,300 (+5.6 percent); mining, logging and construction, an increase of 400 jobs for a total of 8,500 jobs for (+4.9 percent); and manufacturing, 400 new jobs for a total of 9,000 jobs (+4.7 percent).
     Other industries gaining jobs over the year were trade, transportation and utilities, adding 300 new jobs for a total of 28,800 jobs (+1.2 percent); professional and business services, with 100 new jobs for a total of 9,900 jobs (+1.0 percent); and government, adding 100 new jobs bringing the total to 15,200 jobs (+0.7 percentage point).
     Information, with 700 jobs and financial activities, with 3,900 jobs, each lost 100 jobs over the year.
     A review of employment data for October shows that unemployment rates fell over the month in 51 counties, rose in two counties and remained the same in 14. Compared to October 2018, rates dropped in 65 counties, increased in one county and remained the same in one.
     The county with the highest unemployment rate in the state was Hendry County at 5.8 percent (down from 7.1 percent). Citrus County tied again with Highlands County for the third highest rate; Marion County tied with Calhoun, Dixie, Indian River, Madison and Polk counties with the 13th highest rate; and Levy County tied with Gilchrist, Holmes and Pasco counties with the 22nd highest rate.
     Among the metro areas, the Homosassa Springs/Citrus County MSA tied again with the Sebring MSA for the highest rate and the Ocala MSA joined Lakeland-Winterhaven and Sebastian-Vero Beach with the fourth highest rate.
     The region’s employment summary for November is scheduled to be released on Friday, Dec. 20.


New Williston Chamber
directors listed;

Christmas event
to expand Light Up Williston

Williston Chamber
The current Williston Chamber of Commerce officers are (standing) Secretary Lon Sullivan; and (seated, from left) Vice President Michael Langston, President Marc Pompeo and Treasurer Julie Brannan. They are seen immediately after the November meeting adjourned.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Nov. 15, 2019 at
At the November monthly meeting of the Williston Chamber of Commerce (Nov. 14), Executive Director Carolyn Ten Broeck announced election results for the new set of directors of that Chamber.


Williston Chamber
Michelle Fortner, owner and cook at Sister’s Place, stand behind some of the menu items enjoyed during the monthly (delicious) luncheon meeting of the Williston Chamber of Commerce. The meal included fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, green beans, corn bread and blueberry crumble for dessert. Sweet and unsweet tea, and water were the drinks of the afternoon.

     The current officers and directors of the Williston Chamber are President Marc Pompeo, Vice President Michael Langston, Treasurer Julie Brannan; Secretary Lon Sullivan; and directors Crystal Curl, Mary Martha Hartley, Paul Jones, Steve Quinata and Heidi Schweibert.
     The officers will be elected at a future meeting, and the future directors will take their oath of office at a future meeting as well.
      The directors after a recent election are Quinata (2019-2020); Kayla Martin (complete the unexpired term of Lon Sullivan 2019-2020) Brannan (2019-2021; Kurt Richardson (complete the unexpired term of Paul Jones 2019-2021); Schweibert (2019-2021); Ann Larkins (2020-2022); Pompeo (2020-2022); Langston (2020-2022); and Hartley (2020-2022).
     In addition to the election results, Vice President Langston spoke about the Chamber’s plan for an expansion of the Light Up Williston Program of years gone by.
     The Christmas Parade is planned for Dec. 7 this year, complete with Santa Claus riding an elephant.
     After that, it is anticipated the mayor will throw the switch and turn on the Christmas lights in Heritage Park. Beyond those traditional aspects, the Chamber has added the Williston Wonderland from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Heritage Park, Vice President Langston said.
     There are going to be many free things, and the public is invited to enjoy them, he said.
     Snow is a big addition planned for the park. It is scheduled to be produced at the scene.
     Other free items include crafts, entertainment, inflatables (bounce houses), cookies, hot chocolate, a car show, and games.
     While cookies and hot chocolate are free, dinner and dessert items are scheduled to be available for purchase from caterers of the night on Dec. at Williston Wonderland– BubbaQue’s, Sirius Pizza and Sister’s Place.


Tri-County Saw Shop
breaks ground;

American dream continues to grow
Sheila and Steven Crews
Sheila and Steven Crews are seen at the future location of Tri-County Saw Shop as they break ground.

Photo Provided

By Jeff M. Hardison © Nov. 13, 2019 at 4:39 p.m.
Updated (with more photos) Nov. 13, 2019 at 7:39 p.m.
The American dream of owning a business and growing it is reflected by the groundbreaking ceremony for Tri-County Saw Shop on Tuesday (Nov. 12), north of Chiefland.

Four photos below provided by David Kilmartin.

Groundbreaking Tri-County Saw Shop
Some of the many participants in the groundbreaking ceremony are seen before the event.

Groundbreaking Tri-County Saw Shop
The open space shows where the new building is scheduled to be constructed.

Groundbreaking Tri-County Saw Shop
Gray Construction is the general contractor for the project.

Groundbreaking Tri-County Saw Shop
Construction helmets and golden shovels await the groundbreaking program.

     Steven and Sheila Crews broke ground at the future location of Tri-County Saw Shop, 7551 N.W. 150th St., just north of Suwannee River Kubota, after starting their business more than three years ago at the former Beauchamp Saw Shop, located at 9751 N.W. State Road 345, just south of Chiefland.
     Lloyd and Iby Beauchamp had operated Beauchamp’s Saw Shop at that location for the previous 45 years.
     On Wednesday (Nov. 13), Steven Crews provided insight about his and his wife Sheila’s choice to move forward at the new location.
     The future shop will include 6,600 square-feet, which is much bigger than the current 3,000 square-foot shop.
     “Future growth of this business,” Crews said, “and being proud of it, as well as building on U.S. 19, and getting bigger and better was always our plan.”
     Since the purchase of the saw shop three years ago, Crews said, it has been great to be able to service the longtime loyal customers that he retained from Beauchamp, and it has been great to help the many new customers that move to the area every day.
     Currently, Tri-County Saw Shop sells and services Stihl and Husqvarna outdoor power tools. Hustler and Big Dog mowers are also sold and serviced there.
     With the larger building and highway frontage, Crews said, they intend to carry hardware as well.
     “We are excited about the future and what Tri-County Saw Shop will bring to the Tri-County Area and our community,” Crews said.
     The new building calls for hiring more employees, Crews said, adding to the current staff of four, as they will meet the needs of customers, “…. And will continue the personal and professional customer service that the current location has now.”
     Crews said he has been blessed with his current loyal employees – Master Mechanic Cyle Brady and Service Tech David Kilmartin.
     “We could not have grown as fast as we have without them,” Crews said of Brady and Kilmartin.
     Crews said he believes in giving back to the community.
     “We support many of the local events and clubs around our area,” Crews said. “We definitely support shop and buy local.”
      In addition to the 6,600 square-feet at the new location, Crews said there is enough room on the outside to move in many different directions as time goes on.
     Among the people who helped Steven and Sheila Crews reach the point to begin construction at the new location are those who were at the groundbreaking. Those people are Jim White, Earlene Crews, Cyle Brady, David Kilmartin, Todd Gray of Gray Construction, Jordan Gray of Gray Construction, Joe White of Gray Construction, and from Drummond Community Bank – Luther Drummond, Gray Drummond, Ben Lott, Roger McKeller and Peggie Kilpatrick. Another gentleman who Crews noted his appreciation for is Levy County Property Appraiser Osborn “Oz” Barker, who was unable to attend the groundbreaking ceremony.
     Crews said he is extremely grateful to Drummond Community Bank’s members who were at the groundbreaking ceremony, because the bank has not only shown its support as a bank, but they showed up as individuals.
     Crews said he is thankful to God for his blessings.
     “I have spent many nights praying and asking the Lord for guidance,” Crews said, “and to show me the way. And here we are – making it happen. I am so excited. We should open in early spring of 2020, in time for the growing season.”
     Meanwhile, Crews said, while the construction is ongoing at the site of the future Tri-County Saw Shop, he is glad to help current and new customers at the existing location – 9751 N.W. State Road 345. The phone number for Tri-County Saw Shop is 352-493-4904.


2020 Census jobs are available
Published Nov. 11, 2019 at 6:19 p.m.
The 2020 Census has job opportunities available.
     First, here are some facts about the Census.
     • As mandated by the United States. Constitution, America has just one chance each decade to count its population. The U.S. Census Bureau counts every resident in the United States. It is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution and takes place every 10 years. Not only do we have to count people, we have to know where they live so that we can provide accurate population numbers for counties, states, municipalities, etc. These numbers are used to draw school and voting districts.
     • Census data, collected every 10 years, determines your representation in Congress and determines how funds are spent in your community on things like roads, schools, and hospitals.
     • The 2020 Census will use a new design that incorporates online and phone response options in addition to the traditional paper option. The online response option allows people to respond on their desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, or tablets.
     Here’s how the census helps you and your community:
     ▪ Communities use the information to plan bus routes, draw school district boundaries, and offer community services.
    ▪ Businesses use census data to decide where to put a store, office, or plant. These new locations create jobs and support the community’s economy.
    ▪ Businesses use the information to determine what to sell in their stores so communities get what they need.
    ▪ The information helps your community receive funding from the federal government.

2020 Census Job Qualifications
     You may be eligible to earn money from the U.S. Census Bureau if:
     • You are a United States citizen.
     • You are at least 18 years old.
     • You have a valid Social Security number.
     • You have a valid e-mail address.
     • You complete an application and assessment questions.  (For some positions, the assessment questions may be available in Spanish; however, an English Proficiency Test may also be required.)
     • You are registered with the Selective Service System if you  are a male born after Dec. 31, 1959.
     • You pass a criminal background check and a review of criminal records (including fingerprinting) as part of the Census Bureau's hiring process.
     • You do not engage in any partisan political activity while on duty.
     • Your current employment (including law and regulatory enforcement jobs) is compatible with Census Bureau employment (reviewed on a case-by-case basis).
     • You are available to work flexible hours, including days, evenings, and/or weekends.
     • You commit to completing training. (If offered a job, you will be paid for this training at a training pay rate.)

     Most jobs require employees to:
     • Have access to a vehicle and a valid driver’s license, unless public transportation is readily available.
     • Have access to a computer with Internet and an e-mail 

2020 Census Job FAQs
     The Census Bureau understands that questions can arise through the application and hiring process. To better assist job applicants and partners, we’re providing a direct link to the 2020 Census Job Frequently Asked Questions page. Click HERE.
     If your question is not listed within the FAQs, please call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select 1 for technical help, 2 for more information about our jobs, or 3 to reach a local census office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII.

HDG Hotels celebrates
construction of its
first Gainesville hotel

HDG Hotels Gainesville
Seen here at the groundbreaking on Nov. 5, are (from left) Janak Marolia, RPC Real Income Fund, LP; Navroz Saju, CEO of HDG Hotels; Azim Saju, Vice President and General Counsel of HDG Hotels; and Mahesh Marolia, Hotelier and Partner.

Story and Photos Provided By
Lisa Lombardo and Becca McCullough of HDG Hotels
Published Nov. 6, 2019 at 2:29 p.m.
Hotel Development & Management Group (HDG Hotels) is again growing its portfolio with its first hotel in Gainesville.

HDG Hotels Gainesville Florida
In this photo from the groundbreaking ceremony are Janak Marolia, RPC Real Income Fund, LP; Lisa Lombardo, Chief People and Culture Officer at HDG Hotels; and Navroz Saju, CEO of HDG Hotels.

     The Florida-based hotel development and management company celebrated construction of the 105-room Comfort Suites by Choice Hotels at 2603 S.W. 13th Ave. during a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday (Nov. 5).
     “My brother and business partner, Azim, and I have ties to Gainesville and the University of Florida," HDG Hotels CEO and President Navroz Saju said. "We are proud to be investing in this community. Our entire HDG team is excited to grow our footprint into Gainesville and looks forward to establishing partnerships that positively impact Gainesville and Alachua County.”
     Also present at the groundbreaking were U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Gainesville, Fla. 3rd District), and representatives from Choice Hotels, as well as Food Network host of Eat, Sleep, BBQ and the founder of Big Lee’s -- Rashad Jones -- who offered remarks at the celebration.
      The Comfort Suites – Gainesville is scheduled to open during the summer of 2020, bringing the HDG Hotels portfolio to a total of 18 properties coast-to-coast across Central and North Central Florida as it grows its team to well over 500 team members.
     HDG Hotels is headquartered in Ocala. The hotel development and management company’s vision is “to positively impact the people and world around us.”
     To that end, HDG offers its team members medical, dental and vision insurance, wellness programs, a 401K match, ownership
opportunities, and other benefits. The company also partners with its team members on outreach efforts within the communities in which it has a presence.


Ribbon Cut At TMT
Williston Florida
TMT Offroad Co-Owner Wayne Myhree cuts the ribbon as Co-Owner Seth Spencer holds one end of the ribbon Monday morning (Nov. 4) at the business located at 820 N.W. Main St., Suite J, in Williston. Joining the owners in the celebration of the business that opened on March 11 are (from left) Williston Chamber of Commerce President Marc Pompeo, (Myhree and Spencer) Chelsea Hilton, a TMT enthusiast, Chamber Director Crystal Curl and Chamber Treasurer Julie Brannan. TMT stands for Tracks Mud Trails, and the business sells equipment and parts for anything related to ATVs, marine motor sports, side-by-sides and the like. The Williston Chamber of Commerce provided the ribbon and scissors.

Photo by Jeff M. Hardison © Nov. 6, 2019 at 9:09 a.m.


Williston Chamber Chooses
Business Of The Month For November

Williston Florida
As it has been doing for some months now, the Williston Chamber of Commerce named the Business of the Month. Sister's Place, a restaurant located at 20 N.E. Third St. in Williston, is the business for November. Seen here Monday morning (Nov. 4) at the restaurant are (from left) Chamber President Marc Pompeo, Chamber Treasurer Julie Brannan, Chamber Director Crystal Curl, business owner Michelle Fortner and general manager DeeAnn Hayes. Fortner said she named her restaurant Sister's because she was the oldest of five siblings, and they called her by the nickname 'Sister.'
Photo by Jeff M. Hardison © Nov. 6, 2019 at 8:49 a.m.

Williston Chamber Lists
Business Of The Month For October

B4 Signs and Advertising, located on South Main Street, was the Williston Area Chamber of Commerce's Business of the Month for October. The business was chosen for its dedication to Williston and the surrounding area, as well as its continued support to the Chamber's endeavors. Seen here are (from left), Chamber President Marc Pompeo, business owner Matt Brooks, Chuck Wilson and Patrick Williams. The Chamber provided this photo after October due to photo scheduling issues.
Published Oct 6, 2019 at 6:09 p.m.

Photo Provided by Williston Chamber


Florida Department of Agriculture
Commissioner of Agriculture
applauds PSC vote
on energy efficiency goals

By FDACS Office of Communications
Published Nov. 6, 2019 at 8:39 a.m.
On Tuesday (Nov. 5), the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) voted 4-1 to reject efforts to allow investor-owned utilities to set energy efficiency and conservation goals at or near zero.
     Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried had called upon the PSC to adopt meaningful energy efficiency standards and to reconsider the outdated Florida Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act (FEECA) goal-setting process, which were the outcomes of today’s vote.
     “Today’s vote is both a huge victory for Floridians and complete validation of what I’ve said all along – FEECA does not work, does not ensure adequate energy efficiency goals for utilities, and needs to be revisited and replaced,” Commissioner Fried said on Tuesday. “I completely agree with the sentiments of commissioners (Julie Imanuel) Brown and (Donald J.) Polmann – FEECA is out-of-date and does not serve the public interest, which we as public servants have vowed to protect.
      "This vote to continue the existing 2014 energy efficiency goals is exactly why I’ve proposed a brand-new dialogue on energy efficiency and conservation, and a brand-new process to deliver the energy efficiency utility standards that our future challenges demand,” she continued.
     In the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ FEECA filing before the PSC in late September, Commissioner Fried called for major changes to the state’s obsolete energy efficiency goal-setting process, which was echoed by PSC Commissioners during today’s vote.
     “Despite 40 years of goal-setting, our current energy efficiency and conservation process has outlived its usefulness,” Fried said at that time.
     Fried highlighted that despite FEECA requirements, Florida has the nation’s third-highest energy consumption, has fallen behind in share of alternative energy use, and fails to protect low-income residents from disproportionately high energy burdens. FEECA also has allowed for five new fossil fuel power plants to have been constructed since 2014; in July, Fried voted against new fossil fuel plant capacity sought by TECO.
     (TECO Energy is a leading energy company located in Tampa. TECO is a subsidiary of Emera Inc.)
     Fried has proposed alternative ideas to achieve energy efficiency and conservation, such as public benefit charges through which states like Oregon, Connecticut and New York have conserved millions of dollars, megawatt-hours, and tons of carbon. In the coming 2020 legislative session, Fried has proposed the most ambitious energy and climate legislation in a decade, following her hosting the first state-level summit on climate since 2008.


Private Applicator -
Commercial Row Crop
Pesticide Class and Testing
Offered by UF IFAS in Bronson

Information Sent By Kristen Brault
Of UF/IFAS Levy County Extension
Published Oct. 31, 2019 at 4:09 p.m.
     BRONSON --
A two-part training series on restricted use pesticide handling and licensure is being offered by the Levy County - University of Florida IFAS Extension Office in Bronson.
     The Extension Office is located at 625 N Hathaway Ave. (U.S. Alt. 27), in Bronson. The registration fee is $25.
     The dates for the trainings are Saturday, Nov. 16 and Saturday, Dec. 7. The program on Nov. 16 will review the materials required for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services General Standards Exam.
     The program on Dec. 7 will include the materials related to both the Private Applicator Exam and the Agricultural Row Crops Exam.
     Following 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 8 a.m. and conclude by noon at the Levy County UF/ IFAS Extension Office, 625 N. Hathaway Ave in Bronson.
     The $25 registration fee covers both meetings. Training manuals are not required but are suggested and can be purchased online through the UF/ IFAS Bookstore found online by clicking HERE.
     Registration is available through Eventbrite, by clicking HERE, or by calling UF IFAS Levy County Extension at 352-486-5131.


CF offers
Last Mile Completion Program

By CF Marketing, Public and Community Relations
Published Oct. 31, 2019 at 3:09 p.m.
     OCALA --
As part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ challenge to move Florida from No. 24 to No. 1 in the nation for its workforce by 2030, the College of Central Florida has implemented the new Last Mile Completion Program to help students return to college who left with only 12 or fewer credit hours remaining of completing their first degree.
     Students face a number of challenges throughout life that can cause them not to finish their degree. Dr. James Henningsen, president of CF, and the other 27 college presidents in the Florida College System recognize this and are advocating that the State Board of Education and legislature support this initiative by funding this new program.
     “A strong workforce is vital to the success of any community, and what makes it strong is the education and skills level of those who comprise it,” said Henningsen. “As a college system it is important that we do everything in our power to help students complete that last stretch in reaching their higher education goals. The Last Mile Completion Program will serve to ensure students who are close to completing their programs do so and become the professionals that employers need.”
     To participate in the Last Mile Completion Program and qualify for the FinishSmart@CF Scholarship a student must:
     ● be a Florida resident for tuition purposes;
     ● have attended CF within the past eight years;
     ● have not attended CF within the last two semesters;
     ● have completed a Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) -- demonstrating financial need;
     ● meet financial aid Satisfactory Academic Progress standards; and
     ● be within 12 credit hours of completing their first degree.
     For more information, visit or call 352-875-5800, ext. 1379.

THURSDAY  DEC. 12  10:09 a.m.
Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties

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