What Can Investors
Learn From Veterans?

Published Nov. 11, 2019 at 7:09 p.m.
     NEWBERRY --
Each year, Veterans Day allows us to show our respect for the sacrifices that military veterans have made for our country.


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     But have you ever stopped to think about what lessons our veterans can teach us about how we conduct various aspects of our lives? For example, consider the following traits and how they might apply to your actions as an investor: 
     • Perseverance – Even veterans who have not served in armed combat have had to persevere in challenging situations. The military life is not an easy one, as it often involves frequent moves, living in foreign countries, time away from loved ones, and so on. As an investor, in what ways do you need to show perseverance? For one thing, you’ll need to stick it out even in the face of volatile markets and short-term losses. And you’ll need the discipline to make investing a top priority throughout your life, even with all the other financial demands you face.
     • Willingness to learn and adapt – During the course of their service, military veterans frequently need to learn new skills for their deployments. Furthermore, living as they often do in foreign countries, they must adapt to new cultures and customs. When you invest, you’re learning new things, not only about changes in the economic environment and new investment opportunities, but also about yourself – your risk tolerance, your investment preferences, and your views about your ideal retirement lifestyle. Your ability to learn new investment behaviors and to adapt to changing circumstances can help determine your long-term success.
     • Awareness of the “big picture” – All members of the military know that their individual duties, while perhaps highly specific, are nonetheless part of a much bigger picture – the security of their country. When you make an investment decision, it might seem relatively minor, but each move you make should contribute to your larger goals – college for your children (or grandchildren), a comfortable retirement, a legacy for your family or any other objective. And if you can keep in mind that your actions are all designed to help you meet these types of goals, you will find it easier to stay focused on your long-term investment strategy and not overreact to negative events, such as market downturns.
     • Sense of duty – It goes without saying that veterans and military personnel have felt, and still feel, a sense of duty. As an investor, you are trying to meet some personal goals, such as an enjoyable retirement lifestyle, but you, too, are acting with a sense of duty in some ways, because you’re also investing to help your family. There are the obvious goals, like sending children to college or helping them start a business, but you’re also making their lives easier by maintaining your financial independence throughout your life, freeing them of potential financial burdens. This can be seen quite clearly when you take steps, such as purchasing long-term care insurance, to protect yourself from the potentially catastrophic costs of an extended nursing home stay.
Military veterans have a lot to teach us in many activities of life – and investing is one of them. So, on Veterans Day, do what you can to honor our veterans and follow their behaviors as you chart your own financial future.
    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.


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.


CF partners with Chick-fil-A
for entrepreneurship academy

By CF Marketing, Public and Community Relations
Published Oct. 29, 2019 at 3:09 p.m.
     OCALA —
The College of Central Florida recently announced a partnership with Chick-fil-A of Ocala franchise to offer an Entrepreneurship Academy credit college certificate.
     The program allows students to gain insight, experience and skills that are foundational in becoming entrepreneurs and business community leaders.
     This innovative 18-credit program will accommodate up to 20 students annually. Students will receive two semesters of instruction in entrepreneurship-focused courses. Each course will be complemented with hands-on experiential activities organized by Chick-fil-A of Ocala leadership.      The program is a unique experience for students to receive a behind-the-scenes knowledge of one of the most successful franchise business model in the restaurant industry.
      “The college’s business program is excited to partner with a thriving local business to help take our entrepreneurship academy to the next level,” said Dr. Rob Wolf, dean of Business, Technology and Career and Technical Education. “Under the leadership of owner Jeromy Williams, the Ocala Chick-fil-A is one of the most successful franchises in the state of Florida. His in-depth knowledge as a local entrepreneur, along with the support of his staff, is no doubt going to make this program effective.”
     Students will receive well-rounded understanding of business entrepreneurship activities through the following courses: Entrepreneur Opportunities, Small Business Management, Principles of Management, Customer Service, Principles of Marketing and Business Finance. The first cohort is expected to start in fall 2020.


September jobs report
highlights strong gains in region

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Oct. 18, 2019 at 4:09 p.m.
     OCALA –
The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 3.7 percent in September, down 0.7 percentage point over the month and 0.4 percentage point lower than the same time last year.
     The modest drop in the jobless rate seemingly belies strong economic improvement across all three indicators: the labor force expanded over the year by 4,213 to 205,868, which is also an increase of 1,456 compared to August; the number of those with jobs increased by 2,924 over the month to 198,308, which is 4,914 more than September 2018; and there were 7,560 unemployed in the region, 1,468 fewer than August and a drop of 701 over the year.
     According to today’s release of the September employment summary by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Levy County continues to hold the lowest jobless rate in the region at 3.3 percent, down from the August rate of 4.0 percent; Marion County’s rate is 3.5 percent, a 0.7 percentage point drop over the month; and Citrus County’s rate fell nearly a full point from 5.2 percent to 4.3 percent.
     Florida’s not seasonally adjusted jobless rate – a measure that matches the way local rates are calculated – is 3.0 percent, a decrease of 0.5 percentage point over the month and down from 3.6 percent a year ago.
     The jobless rate in Marion County is the lowest September rate in the 29-year period since data has been tracked. The two previous lowest September rates were 3.6 percent in 1999 and 2006. The lowest September rate for Levy County was 2.9 percent in 1999. Citrus County lowest September rate was 4.0 percent in 2005 and 2006.
     CareerSource CLM’s CEO Rusty Skinner said “this month’s report shows significant improvement in all three counties, not only from the August indicators, but reductions in the unemployment rate and the related indicators from September 2018 …“This movement is a positive sign of an improved economy in our region and underscores the challenge that our business community faces in talent recruitment.”
     Skinner noted that with nearly 7,600 still unemployed and in search of a job, and challenges businesses face, CareerSource CLM continues to seek new ways to help meet the region’s workforce needs.
     “Recently, we’ve added an online skill development program, 180 Skills, that can assist those searching for employment and in need of critical skills to qualify for those careers,” he said.
     Citrus County’s labor force grew by 212 over the month to 48,588, the number of employed rose by 631 to 46,485 while the number of unemployed fell by 419 to 2,103. Compared to September 2018, when the jobless rate was 4.8 percent, the labor force has expanded by 378, there are 573 more employed and a decrease of 195 unemployed. 
     Levy County’s labor force expanded by 306 to 17,276, the number of those with jobs increased by 415 to 16,711, and the number of unemployed decreased by 109 to 565. That’s an over-the-year increase of 230 in the labor force, 272 more working and drop of 42 unemployed when the rate was 3.6 percent.
     Marion County’s labor force grew by 938 to 140,004, the number of those with jobs rose by 1,878 to 135,112 and the number of unemployed fell by 940 to 4,892. Compared to September 2018, when the rate was 3.9 percent, the labor force has expended by 3,605, there are 4,069 more employed and 464 fewer unemployed.
     Nonfarm employment in September for the Ocala/Marion County metropolitan statistical area was 107,700, an increase of 3,200 jobs over the year for a job growth rate of 3.1 percent.
     The Homosassa Springs MSA’s nonfarm employment was 33,800, an increase of 300 new jobs over the year for a job growth rate of 0.9 percent.
     The Ocala MSA had the third fastest annual job growth rate compared to all other metro areas in the state in manufacturing at 5.9 percent and education and health services at 5.8 percent.
     Industries that grew faster in the Ocala metro than statewide over the year were mining, logging and construction, an increase of 500 jobs for a total of 8,400 jobs for (+6.3 percent); manufacturing, 500 new jobs for a total of 9,000 jobs; education and health services, adding 1,100 new jobs for a total of 20,000; leisure and hospitality, adding 600 jobs for a total of 13,100 (+4.8 percent); government, adding 200 jobs for a total of 15,200 (+1.3 percent); and trade, transportation and utilities, adding 300 for a total of 24,600 (+1.2 percent)
     Professional and business services also gained over the year, adding 100 new jobs for a total of 9,900 (+1.0 percent).
     Financial activities, with 3,900 jobs, and other services, with 2,900 jobs, were unchanged over the year. Information lost 100 jobs for a total of 700 jobs.
     A review of employment data for September shows that unemployment rates fell over the month in all 67 counties. Compared to September 2918, rates dropped in 62 counties, increased in three counties, remained the same in two counties. The county with the highest unemployment rate in the state was Hendry County at 7.1 percent. Citrus County tied with Highlands County for the third highest rate; Marion County tied with Charlotte, Dixie and Polk counties with the 15th highest rate; and Levy County tied with Holmes, Pasco and Taylor counties with the 23rd highest rate.
     Among the metro areas, the Homosassa Springs/Citrus County MSA tied with the Sebring MSA for the highest rate and the Ocala MSA joined Lakeland-Winterhaven, Port St. Lucie and Punta Gorda metros with the fifth highest rate.
     The region’s employment summary for October is scheduled to be released on Friday, Nov. 15.



Levy County Clerk
improves customer service

By Deanna Dobbins, Levy County Chief Deputy Clerk
Published Oct. 16, 2019 at 4:29 p.m.
     BRONSON –
Levy County Clerk Danny Shipp has been working to improve customer service for his office.
     On Oct. 1, the office hours were restored to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Levy County and court holidays can be found on the website by clicking HERE.
     On Tuesday (Oct. 15), 2019 the Clerk’s Office improved its telephone service and upgraded to a phone system with Setel Southeastern Services Inc.
     Now the Levy County Clerk’s Office is using a VoIP- Voice over IP, phone system through the Internet line.
          What does voice over IP stand for?
     VoIP basically means voice transmitted over a digital network. The Internet, however, isn’t strictly necessary for VoIP. Thus, voice over Internet protocol means voice that travels by way of the same protocols used on the Internet. VoIP is often referred to as IP telephony (IPT) because it uses Internet protocols to make possible enhanced voice communications.
     Anyone who is calling the Levy County Clerk’s Office, if they are calling in the main number 352-486-5266 and they know their party’s extension, they can press 1 and then the 3-digit number. For example Clerk Shipp is extension 1222 and Chief Deputy Dobbins is 1255.
Callers always can choose from the options as to which department they want, and they will be connected by pushing the following numbers:
     1 - Jury
2 - Traffic
3 - Civil, Probate, Child Support, Family Law
4 - Misdemeanor and Felony
5 - Recording
6 - Public Records
7 - Juvenile Department
     These will ring directly into that department and a deputy clerk will be ready to assist the caller.
     The Clerk’s future plans for improvement include a new Case Management System that will allow images on the web and payments for costs, fines, fees and pay traffic citations.
     Levy County Clerk Shipp also will have a program -- Turbo Court -- for self-help forms and assistance with filing.
     Plans also include software with TrieData and offer the ability to electronically certify Official Records and court records online.
     Traditionally, to obtain a certified copy of an Official Record required a phone call or trip into the Clerk’s Office to have a paper copy certified, stamped. This new feature is coming soon to the Levy County Clerk’s Office.


Virus in Mexican tomatoes
causing concern,
USDA action needed;

Tomatoes in Naples and Gainesville
By the Communications Office of Commissioner Nikki Fried
Published Oct. 9, 2019 at 5:09 p.m.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is issuing an alert regarding a virus found in Mexican tomatoes imported into Florida and potentially other states.
     ToBRFV, the tomato brown rugose fruit virus, is a highly virulent virus that can cause severe fruit loss in tomatoes and peppers. Imported tomatoes potentially carrying ToBRFV pose a risk to the state’s fresh-market tomato supply.
     The ToBRFV tobamovirus was recently intercepted by FDACS inspectors in packaged Mexican tomatoes in Naples, Florida and Gainesville, Florida. These tomatoes have been destroyed.
     Symptoms: Tomatoes and peppers are the two major hosts for this virus, which causes yellowing of leaf veins, and yellow spots, brown rugose (wrinkled) patches, and necrotic (dead) lesions on tomato fruit. Symptoms in fruit develop within 12 to 18 days of infection.
     Transmission: The ToBRFV virus can be easily transmitted by contaminated tools, hands, clothing, soil, and directly plant-to-plant, as the virus as highly stable. The virus may also be spread by pollinators like honeybees and bumblebees, which commonly pollinate tomatoes. The genetic resistance in tomatoes that protects against many tobamoviruses is not effective against ToBRFV.
     Impacts: There are no known human health impacts from ToBRFV. However, the virus can cause a 30 to 70 percent loss of tomato yield on plants, which may severely disrupt the domestic tomato industry. The virus may also make infected fruit less desirable to consumers, a concern for grocery retailers.
     Prevention: Once the ToBRFV virus is introduced in an area, control measures are very limited. Prevention mainly relies on destroying infected plants and following strict decontamination measures for workers, such as sanitizing tools, frequent handwashing, and cleaning boots before entering greenhouses.
     For Consumers: Tomatoes showing symptoms of ToBRFV infection are still safe for human consumption, but may appear less attractive than other tomatoes. The virus does not impact human health. Consumers are encouraged to select foods bearing the “Fresh From Florida” logo, which have been grown in Florida, not imported.
     For Retailers: Grocers and retailers who suspect tomatoes in their inventories with ToBRFV infection should report the products to the Division of Plant Industry Helpline at 1-888-397-1517 or
     “For the past six months, our inspectors have been watching vigilantly for the ToBRFV virus, and are moving swiftly to prevent its introduction in our state,” said Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried. “Mexican-grown tomatoes carrying the ToBRFV virus are a serious threat to Florida, the nation’s leading producer of tomatoes and a $262 million industry in our state. We need the USDA to step up, initiate tracebacks to Mexican producers, and fulfill its responsibility to protect American growers and consumers.”
     “These inspections were initiated after Division of Plant Industry virologists and plant pathologists conducted a risk analysis of ToBRFV. This was in response to concerns from Florida’s tomato industry, and is an example of our scientists and inspectors working together with growers to track significant agricultural diseases from around the world, and prevent their introduction to Florida,” said Dr. Trevor Smith, Director of the Division of Plant Industry.
     “Florida is at high risk for the introduction of harmful invasive plant pests and diseases such as the brown rugose fruit virus found on tomatoes imported from Mexico. The spread of this virus would cause serious economic losses for Florida’s tomato producers, so we appreciate the vigilance of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in detecting it,” said Mike Joyner, President of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. “We also encourage consumers to support Florida farmers by buying produce labeled with the Fresh From Florida logo.”


Annual meeting shows safe,
reliable and affordable power;

CFEC rates to stay the same
Central Florida Electric Cooperative
Seminole Electric Cooperative Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Lisa Johnson shared shares information about two significant new power-generating projects – one natural gas and one solar, which will help provide electricity to CFEC and other rural electric cooperatives in Florida.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Oct. 8, 2019 at 8:39 a.m.
The annual membership meeting of Central Florida Electric Cooperative on Saturday (Oct. 5) showed the co-op progressing well with its plans for continued safe, reliable and affordable electric power service for its members
     This year’s meeting provided much of the traditional reports and fun, however there was a new element – a call for people to become aware of a possible referendum on the ballot regarding power pricing.

     The Rev. Jimmy Fletcher, pastor of Mt. Nebo Baptist Church of Bell, gave the invocation.

Seen outside before the presentation of the colors are (from left) BHS AJROTC Cadet Angelina Martinez as lead rifle; BHS Army JROTC Cadet Breanna Milan with the American flag; and cadets Keelin Gardner with the Florida flag and Jacqueline Edwards as rear rifle; and Ret. Army First Sgt. Jon Meinholz, one of their instructors at Bell High School.

Bell High School Army RJOTC
The Bell High School unit of the Army Jr. Reserve Officers Training Corps Color Guard present the colors.

     Members of the Bell High School unit of the Army Jr. Reserve Officers Training Corps Color Guard presented the colors.
     Led by Ret. Army First Sgt. Jon Meinholz, the cadets in the BHS Army JROTC are Breanna Milan with the American flag and Angelina Martinez as lead rifle; and Keelin Gardner with the Florida flag and Jacqueline Edwards as rear rifle.
     CFEC Board of Trustees President Barbara Townsend led the Pledge of Allegiance and she led the meeting.
     The CFEC Board of Trustees on the stage Saturday were President Barbara Townsend, District 9; James McCain, District 1; Carl Roof, District 2; Tony Weeks, District 3; Kyle Quincey, District 4; Donald Lane, District 5; Alan Mikell, District 6; Kenneth Osteen, District 7; and Randy Mikell, District 8. at the conclusion of the business meeting, Houston Markham became the District 8 representative on the CFEC Board of Trustees, as a result of the election.

Attorney Norm D. Fugate Attorney Blake Fugate
Attorneys W. Blake Fugate (left) and Norm D. Fugate stand to be recognized as they are introduced to the CFEC members. The previous CFEC attorney was Greg Beauchamp.

     President Townsend introduced General Manager Denny George, and the new attorneys for the co-op Norm D. Fugate and W. Blake Fugate.
     CFEC Secretary Alan Mikell announced that there are 262 CFEC members who must be present for a quorum. There were 411 members registered that Saturday morning, meaning a quorum existed.
     There were 200 prizes awarded after the business meeting. With 411 registered members, there were odds of about 50-50 that a person would leave with a prize. Every member was given a 5-gallon bucket, which included a light bulb, a night light, and a wealth of information – including the booklet that contains the current bylaws of the cooperative.
     Prizes included cash or gift cards in the amounts of $25, $50, $100 and the grand prize of $500 cash. Other prizes included a Mr. Coffee, a big kettle multi-cooker, booster cables, a family-size skillet, a blender, a hand mixer, a cordless drill, a tool set, a waffle maker, an electric skillet, and an oil-free fryer.
     ( publisher Jeff M. Hardison, who is a co-op member, was given two tickets by people who left with their buckets, choosing not to stay for the calling of ticket numbers for door prizes. Hardison won with his ticket, and both of the tickets given to him. He won two $50 cash prizes and one $25 cash prize for a total of $125 in cash.)

Dixie County High School Electric Coop Rep
Special guest Jessie Lee speaks to the members of the co-op on Saturday.

CFEC 2019 Annual Meeting
CFEC Communications Specialist Alison DeLoach stands with Jessie Lee of Dixie County High School, just after Lee gave her short speech, in which she thanked the cooperative for sending her to Washington, D.C.

     CFEC General Manager Denny George introduced Alison DeLoach, a CFEC communications specialist, who introduced special guest Jessie Lee.
     Lee was one of three students who were sent to Washington, D.C., in June as part of the 2019 Cooperative Youth Tour.
     They had a great time visiting monuments and memorials, learning more about the cooperative business and making long-lasting friendships. The two other students were not present Saturday.
     Lee said the other two winners were both grateful to have been selected, and they regretted not being able to attend the annual meeting on Saturday.
     She said her favorite part of the trip to Washington was to visit National Cemetery in Arlington, in Arlington County, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington.

CFEC General Manager Denny George
CFEC General Manager Denny George speaks to the members. Seen sitting behind him (from left) are CFEC Attorney Norm Fugate; James McCain, District 1; Carl Roof, District 2; Tony Weeks, District 3; and Kyle Quincey, District 4. Also on stage are the other CFEC attorney, the other members of the CFEC Board of Trustees, a representative of the CFEC's choice for a CPA firm, a representative of Seminole Electric Cooperative, a representative of Florida Electric Cooperatives Association and the pastor who gave the invocation. 

     CFEC General Manager Denny George spoke to the members during the annual General Manager’s Message.
     He noted that CFEC’s job is to make sure members have electric power service at their homes, in their places of work and wherever else in their lives that they need electricity.
     The co-op seeks to provide safe, reliable and affordable electricity, George said.

Tony Weeks and Denny George
CFEC General Manager Denny George (right) stands with Board of Trustees Member Tony Weeks when they paused for a photo opportunity. By the way, Saturday was CFEC General Manager George’s birthday and the members sang Happy Birthday to You to him.

     Whenever a member experiences a problem, he continued, the CFEC goal is to provide helpful and courteous assistance from the staff in CFEC Member Services.
     The right-of-way maintenance programs clears tree limbs from rights-of-way, George said, which is among the main causes for power outages. Another method for outage reduction, he said, is updating equipment in trouble spots.
     Whenever an outage occurs – nights, days, weekends and holidays – CFEC sends employees and equipment to restore power, whether it is for one member or a whole area, George said.
     George said every single job, from reading meters, through conducting home energy audits and replacing wires or transformers, safety of members and employees is uppermost in importance.
     Everyone participates in creating “a safety culture” at CFEC, he said.
     General Manager George said CFEC was prepared for Hurricane Dorian this season. The co-op positioned resources to deal with the aftermath, George said, and he is thankful there was no need to recover from hurricane damage in the CFEC service area this season.
     Hurricane Michael, which devastated the Panhandle of Florida last year, George said, helped electric service providers learn some more recovery from this type of disaster. From helping Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative, CFEC has revised its storm readiness and recovery plans, he said.
     Trees have been cleared now, to the southside of the CFEC complex in Chiefland, to create space if needed in the future. This space would be to restore power from a significant hurricane, he said, and it would provide for the ability to have 600 to 800 additional personnel on the CFEC complex.
     Electric rates are going to remain “flat for the foreseeable future,” George said, and cooperative has a strong financial finish anticipated for 2019.
     George said he considers it an honor to serve the members of Central Florida Electric Cooperative as the general manager.
     CFEC strives to be the finest example of an electric cooperative where electric service is safe, reliable and is priced with competitive rates. The consumers, the community and the environment guide every action of CFEC, he said.

     Seminole Electric Cooperative Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Lisa Johnson shared insight about this power-generating cooperative.
     CFEC and seven other Florida cooperatives are transmission and distribution co-ops, which use wholesale electricity provided by Seminole. Seminole creates the electricity to be distributed. Its corporate offices are in Tampa.
     The electric generation power plants for Seminole Electric Cooperative consist of two 650-megawatt coal-fired generating units, located on 2,000 acres in Putnam County, just north of Palatka.
     The Midulla Generating Station (MGS), located on the Hardee County-Polk County line, is an 835-megawatt facility that uses natural gas as its primary fuel. In December 2006, Seminole added an additional 310 megawatts of peaking capacity at MGS through five aeroderivative combustion turbine units. These peaking units can be operational in as few as eight minutes to meet state operating reserve requirements.
     There are a couple of Seminole projects, CEO Johnson spoke about that are important to the future.
     In two and one-half months, Seminole will begin construction on a new state-of-the-art natural gas-fired combined cycle power plant, she said. This power plant will be on the property in Putnam County and is anticipated to take three years to complete.
     By the end of 2022, it is expected to be in full operation, Johnson said. That is when one of the two coal-fired units will be taken out of service, she added.
     The net result will be the production of even more highly efficient electricity at that station, while reducing the impact on the environment by emissions into the air, she said.
     The second major energy project is to increase the amount of solar resources used by Seminole for electricity production. Currently, Seminole has a 2.2-megawatt facility from solar-power. That was brought online about two years ago, and it is in Hardee County, Johnson said.
     The plan now is to add another 300 megawatts from solar-powered generating facilities, she said, by the end of 2023.
     These are two of the many projects that are happening now to assure Seminole can provide its cooperatives’ members with safe, reliable and affordable electricity, Johnson said, now and well into the future.

Chiefland Florida
Mike Bjorklund speaks to the members.

     Executive Vice President and General Manager of Florida Electric Cooperatives Association Mike Bjorklund spoke to CFEC members Saturday morning (Oct. 5). The Florida Electric Cooperatives Association (FECA) represents 15 distribution cooperatives – like CFEC, he said, and two generation and transmission cooperatives – like Seminole Electric Cooperative.
     Bjorklund works in the Tallahassee office of FECA and addresses legislative matters on the state and federal levels.
     The FECA has a job of preventing the government from hampering cooperatives from serving its members – electric service consumers.
     He spoke about a possible ballot initiative that voters may be deciding in the 2020 election, that he is saying will create more bureaucracy and red tape. Changing energy policy, he said, creates an added cost – which consumers must absorb.
     Bjorklund grew up in rural Florida and his parents owned a grocery store. His family always was happy when local farmers brought their crops to be sold at that grocery store. He shared this story, because he wanted to demonstrate that each time an interest touches some product or service, there is a fee added.
     This proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution, Bjorklund said, would re-regulate the electric industry so that each time a transaction occurs, another interest is introduced that would get money from it.
     A change in Florida regulations regarding electric prices, he said, may be proposed on the ballots in 2020. FECA and CFEC intend to help voters know the facts about this proposed amendment.
     He believes people who look at this will see “It isn’t going to be good for you, the co-ops or for Florida.”

Chiefland Florida
The eight other members of the CFEC Board of Trustees listen as President Barbara Townsend speaks at the podium.

Chiefland Florida
CFEC President Barbara Townsend speaks to the members of the rural electric cooperative.

     President Townsend thanked all of the members for coming to the meeting in support of Central Florida Electric Cooperative.
     She expressed the gratitude of the Board of Trustees for the progressive efforts by Seminole Electric Cooperative, and the work by the FECA to keep government from interfering with the cooperative providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity.
     CFEC is in good financial standing, President Townsend reported. She reminded members that if ever there is a question about energy or power-related topics, they can contact customer service and a staff member will help them find the answers.

     Robert Beauchamp of Beauchamp and Edwards (Certified Public Accountants), Chiefland, reported on the past set of elections of members of the CFEC Board of Trustees.
     Districts 4, 6 and 8 were open for election in October of 2018.
     Beauchamp and another member of his firm, and Dixie County Supervisor of Elections Starlet Cannon, Gilchrist County Supervisor of Elections Connie Sanchez and Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones were the Elections Committee.
     Kyle Quincey, District 4, was returned to the Board unopposed, Beauchamp said.
     Alan Mikell received 366 votes Jeff Reed 229 votes om the District 6 contest meant that Mikell was reelected to the District 6 seat for an additional three-year term, Beauchamp said.
     Randy Mikell received 267 votes and Houston Markham received 334 votes for District 8, which means Markham will serve during that three-year term, Beauchamp said.

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