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Swiftmud Governing Board
elects officers for 2024-2025 term 

Information Provided By SWFWMD
Published May 21, 2024 at 8 p.m.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board voted Tuesday (May 21) to elect officers for the 2024-2025 term.



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     Michelle Williamson was elected chair of the Governing Board. Williamson represents Hillsborough County and is the operations manager of G&F Farms. Williamson was appointed to the Governing Board in August 2016 and reappointed in December 2020.
     John Mitten was elected vice chair of the Governing Board. Mitten represents Hernando and Marion counties and is the franchise owner of Chick-fil-A in Spring Hill. Mitten was appointed to the Governing Board in October 2020.
     Jack Bispham was elected secretary of the Governing Board. Bispham represents Manatee County and is the owner and operator of Red Bluff Plantation. Bispham was appointed to the Governing Board in November 2019 and was reappointed in May 2021.
     Ashley Bell Barnett was elected treasurer of the Governing Board. Bell Barnett represents Polk County and is a former educator and community advocate. Bell Barnett was appointed to the Governing Board in December 2020 and was reappointed in August 2023.
     The officers will assume their positions for the 2024-2025 term 24 hours before the June Governing Board meeting.
     Governing Board members are unpaid, citizen volunteers who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Florida Senate. The Governing Board sets policy for the District, whose mission is to protect water resources, minimize flood risks, and ensure the public’s water needs are met.
     The Southwest Florida Water Management District is one of the two water management districts in which Levy County exists. The other is the Suwannee River Water Management District.


Region’s jobless rate
at 4.2 percent in April

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
CareerSource CLM Communications Manager
Published May 17, 2024 at 4:30 p.m.
     OCALA –
The jobless rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 4.2 percent in April, down 0.2 percent over the month and 1.1 percentage points greater than the region’s year ago rate of 3.1 percent.
     The labor force was 219,083, up 455 over the year which is a 0.2 percent increase. There were 9,207 unemployed residents in the region, down 385 compared to March but an increase of 2,485 over the year.
     According to preliminary employment data released today (May 17) by FloridaCommerce, there were 209,876 employed across the region, a drop of 772 since March and 2,030 fewer than the same time last year.
     Levy and Marion counties continued to post the lowest jobless rates in the region at 4.0 percent, followed by Citrus County at 4.9 percent. Levy County’s rate was unchanged over the month, Marion County increased by 0.2 percentage point, and Citrus County’s rate dropped 0.2 percentage point.
     Rusty Skinner, CareerSource CLM’s chief executive officer, said that the “slight contraction shown in this month’s report – with dips in labor force, employment, and unemployment numbers – could be deemed similar to our economy ‘taking a breath.’”
      “What we are seeing in terms of job seekers, both in person and online, would indicate that our employment picture is poised to move in a positive direction,” he continued. “Our job fairs and foot and online traffic shows an uptick in both the number and skills of job seekers. For employers, this offers the prospect of applicants with stronger credentials and experience to fill their open positions.”
     Skinner noted that recent youth job fairs for 16- to 24-year-olds in Citrus and Marion counties attracted more than 300 job seekers and dozens of businesses with immediate full- and part-time positions to fill.
     In addition, Skinner added that regional job fairs are set to take place in the next few months, and that CareerSource CLM hosts a variety hiring events for individual businesses, including one for RealTruck on May 21.
     Statewide, the changes in the jobless rates were minimal over the month, with none changing by more than 0.4 percentage points. The rates dropped in 61 counties, remained unchanged in five counties, and rose 0.1 percent in Miami-Dade County. Compared to a year ago, rates were up typically by 1.0-1.5 percent in all 67 counties.
     In April, nonfarm employment in the Ocala Metropolitan Area, which covers all of Marion County, was 121,200 in March, an increase of 000 jobs over the year for a 0.7 percent growth rate over the year.
     Industries gaining jobs were Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (+700 jobs); Education and Health Services (+500 jobs); Government (+300 jobs); Leisure and Hospitality (+200 jobs); Mining, Logging, and Construction (+100 jobs); and Other Services (+100 jobs).
     Industries losing jobs were Manufacturing (-500 jobs): Professional and Business Services (-400 jobs); and Financial Activities (-100 jobs).
     Information Technology remained unchanged over the year.
     The Homosassa Springs Metro Area, which includes all Citrus County, posted 36,000 jobs in March, an increase of 200 jobs (+0.6 percent) over the year.
     Skinner noted that those who continue to seek employment can   receive fee-free help and training opportunities at any CareerSource CLM career center.
     Information about fee-free job fairs, hiring events and other job seeker and employer services are available at careersourceclm.com or by calling 800-434-JOBS (5627).

     State and local employment reports for March 2024 are scheduled for release on April 19.

Levy County celebrates
National Travel and Tourism Week

Levy County Tourism

Information and Photo Provided

By Levy County Commission PIO Mary-Ellen Harper
Published May 17, 2024 at 9 a.m.
     BRONSON --
May 19 through May 25 is “National Travel and Tourism Week.”

     As noted previously on the daily news website HardisonInk.com, the Levy County Board of County Commissioners proclaimed it to be National Travel and Tourism Week in Levy County as well.
     Tourism brings in excess of 135 million visitors annually to Florida, and it adds $124.9 billion to the state’s economy. There are more than two million individuals employed in the tourism industry in the state.
     Levy County recognizes the importance of tourism to the Levy County economy and quality of life. Local governments, tourist development councils, and North Central Florida Regional Planning Council encourage tourism opportunities in North
Central Florida and are working together to support this vital part of North Central Florida’s economy and all who play a role in tourism to ensure that Levy County and Florida continue to be places where traditions will be created and continued for years to come.
     Not every resident in Levy County works in tourism, but tourism works for every Levy County resident.
     According to Destinations Florida, in 2022, Levy County Tourism:
     ● Provided $40.2 million in economic impact
     ● Generated $747,050 in local sales tax revenue
     ● Paid $11.7 million in compensation
     ● Created 475 jobs
     ● Local taxes from tourism helped pay for programs important to all Levy County residents.


Fla. House of Representatives District 22
candidate addresses Gilchrist Chamber

Candidate for state house
Raemi Eagle-Glenn (R-Gainesville) speaks to members and guests at the monthly meeting of the Gilchrist County Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday afternoon (May 14) in Trenton.

Story and Photo By Jeff M. Hardison © May 16, 2024 at 2:45 p.m.
All Copyrights Protected By Federal Civil Law
Do Not Copy and Paste to Social Media or Elsewhere
     TRENTON –
Raemi Eagle-Glenn, a Gainesville-based Republican seeking election to the Florida House of Representatives District 22 seat currently held by Rep. Chuck Clemons (R-Newberry), addressed members and guests at the regular monthly luncheon meeting of the Gilchrist County Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday afternoon (May 14).

     As of May 16, the other candidates listed as active are David Arreola (D-Gainesville), Chad Johnson (R-Chiefland) and Amy Jane Trask (D-Gainesville).
     Eagle-Glenn told listeners that she moved to Gainesville from Fort Myers in 2008, which is where she was born and grew up. 
     She moved to Gainesville with her husband and two children to attend the University of Florida’s Frederic G. Levin College of Law, also known as the UF Law School.
     The couple owns Everything Mac, Gainesville’s Apple authorized service provider, she said. She said her husband is a technician.
     She keeps the books, manages the payroll, and knows what it means to be a business owner. 
     In Gainesville, being a small business owner poses some unique challenges, Eagle-Glenn said.
     In Fort Myers, she said, she took “conservatism” for granted because the culture there was homogenous, and things worked out smoothly.
     In Gainesville, Eagle-Glenn said, she feels like she is “an underdog” in that community because she is “conservative.”
     Being an underdog, she continued, taught her methods to advocate for people who feel they do not have a voice.
     “I found my people in Gainesville by joining the Alachua County Republican Executive Committee,” she said, “and very quickly, they elevated me to the position of state committeewoman.”
     Having a background in law and choosing to stand up and speak for people who feel they do not have a voice, Eagle-Glenn said is why she was put in that position among the leaders in the Republican Executive Party of Alachua County.
     Florida House of Representatives District 22 includes all of Levy County, all of Gilchrist County and part of southwest corner of Alachua County, is part of the Gainesville Metropolitan Region, she said. This is relevant for statistical figures used to determine distribution of federal funds.
     The Gainesville Metropolitan Area is the metropolitan area in North Central Florida that includes Alachua, Levy, and Gilchrist counties, with Gainesville as the principal city. There are about 351,000 people in the Gainesville Metropolitan Area, according to data from the United States Census Bureau from 2022.
     Eagle-Glenn said she has been speaking to people in Levy County and Gilchrist County to learn what is important to them.
     She said the people who feel that Bell and Trenton are left out of decisions at the federal or state levels of government may see themselves as underdogs, and she can relate to them. 
     She spoke briefly about “Springs County,” which is a movement to start another Florida County with that name.
     The people who started a website to sell Springs County merchandise and to separate from Alachua County, noted “Alachua County is pushing big government. Our communities like Jonesville, Newberry, Archer, and Alachua, don’t have a voice in Alachua county. Find out why a separation is the perfect solution!”
     Eagle-Glenn mentioned this new group of separatists are like the founders of Gilchrist County.
     Gilchrist County is Florida's newest county, created in 1925. It was named after the state's governor from 1909 to 1913, Albert W. Gilchrist. The founding fathers of Gilchrist County created it about 100 years ago because they felt this part of Alachua County was being ignored by the county government.
     Eagle-Glenn said the mayor of Gainesville wants to invite refugees into the region. She qualified her allegation by adding that she is not referring to migrant farm workers, but instead is speaking about inviting people who want to leave war-torn countries to come to the Gainesville region.
     She labeled the Gainesville city government as “far left.”
     Eagle-Glenn said she knows how to fight back and push back against policies that affect the entire region as she urged Republicans to choose her to be the nominee for that party when the vote happens in the primary in August.
     On June 9, 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the appointment of Eagle-Glenn to the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners.
     In the press release from the Governor’s Office that day, it was noted that Eagle-Glenn is a lawyer at Eagle-Glenn Law and is the owner of Everything Mac Inc. She is a member of the Florida Bar and the Republican National Lawyers Association. Eagle-Glenn earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Central Florida and juris doctorate from the University of Florida’s Frederic G. Levin College of Law.
     She thanked everyone for listening to her speech and the small group applauded.


Gilchrist County Chamber of Commerce
hears from springs company

Bill Myers of BlueTriton Brands speaks about the positive impact the company has on the local economy as well as the community as a whole. He was among the guests at the Gilchrist County Chmaber of Commerce monthly luncheon meeting in Trenton on Tuesday afternoon (May 14).

Story and Photo By Jeff M. Hardison © May 15, 2024 at 8:30 p.m.
All Copyrights Protected By Federal Civil Law
Do Not Copy and Paste to Social Media or Elsewhere
     TRENTON –
During the Tuesday afternoon (May 14) monthly luncheon meeting of the Gilchrist County Chamber of Commerce meeting, members and guests heard from a representative of a company that is among the economic engines in the region.

     Bill Myers, an engineer with BlueTriton Brands, bottlers of Zephyrhills and other water brands share information about the company. He was in the United States Army and is now in the Army Reserves.
     The Gainesville resident is responsible for all spring sites used by Blue Triton, he said, which is from the Panhandle to the Tampa Bay Area. 
     Zephyrhills is natural spring water that has been in operation since 1964, Myers said. the company employs hundreds of people across three plants, he said.
     The five sites are Cypress Springs; White Springs; the Madison Plant, which is supported by Madison County’s Blue Springs; the High Springs plant, which is supported by Ginnie Springs; and the Zephyrhills plant, which supplied by Crystal Springs and is close to Tampa, Myers said.
     There are five sites with two for “tankering” (water is brought to them by tanker trucks) and three that are manufacturing plants, he said.
     He focused on the High Springs (Alachua County) plant and how it helps support the local economy. BlueTriton Brands provides in excess of $4 million annually through its employees in this area.
     That plant has 70 employees with wages in averaging $29 an hour, and the company offers all employees a robust benefits package, he said.
     The company spends $2.3 million in this part of Florida annually on local maintenance vendors, such as welders, plumbers, pipefitters, lawn maintenance and the like, Myers added. 
     BlueTriton Brands buys $1.5 million worth of energy locally, he said.
     The company prides itself on being good water stewards, he said. There are 14 monitoring sites with real-time data at Ginnie Springs. The company reports to the Suwannee River Water Management District each month, Myers said.
     Ginnie Springs Outdoors owns 800 acres there, he said, adding that BlueTriton protects 1,400 acres at that site.
     Myers said his presentation on Tuesday afternoon (May 14) is part of the company’s community engagement program.
      BlueTriton Brands’ mission is to sustainably provide fresh water to communities throughout North America. The company name comes from Triton, a god of the sea in classical Greek mythology. 
     BlueTriton Brands is proud of its role as a guardian of its resources and a provider of fresh water. Moreover, BlueTriton will continue its commitment as an independent business, to sustainable high-quality products and services, the company notes on its website.
     “We recognize that we access spring sites and operate loading stations and factories in your community,” the company notes on its website. “That is why we work hard to be a responsible neighbor. We know that it requires engagement, partnership, community investment, operating safely, reducing truck noise and traffic, and addressing the specific priorities of your community.”
     The company notes that it employs a principle it calls Community First.
     The Community First Principle states that BlueTriton Brands strive to operate in a manner that does not compromise the well-being of the local community. Put another way, it means the operations should only positively impact the people, environment and economy of the community.
     To be a responsible member of a community, BlueTriton Brands notes it starts with a desire to understand the people, strengths, history and vision of each community.


New city leader gives fresh views
Before the administration of the oath of office Monday night (May 13), where Kimberly ‘Kim’ Chercony-Bennett 
replaced Lance Hayes on the Chiefland City Commission, the commissioners are seen at the dais at the start of that at meeting. They are (from left) Commissioner LaWanda Jones, Commissioner Hayes, Mayor Chris Jones, Commissioner Rissa Johns and Vice Mayor Norman Weaver.

Story and Photos By Jeff M. Hardison © May 15, 2024 at 10:30 a.m.
All Copyrights Protected By Federal Civil Law
Do Not Copy and Paste to Social Media or Elsewhere  
Chiefland City Commissioner LaWanda Jones brings innovative ideas to the five-member group of elected municipal leaders in one of the top two of eight municipalities for population and commerce in Levy County.
     Her first shakeup of the status quo was after she corrected the minutes of a meeting where she wanted to vote “No” on a revision of fees at the Tommy Usher Community Center. Mayor Chris Jones apologized for not hearing her vote in that regard back then. And since that event, he has taken more care to better record accurately how votes are made on motions.
     That topic of fees for people to rent the Community Center came up again on May 13, and it is likely to be discussed with possible action, but perhaps with no added action, at the next Chiefland City Commission meeting.

After the administration of the oath of office Monday night (May 13), and the selection of the mayor and vice mayor of Chiefland were completed, the Chiefland City Commission now is comprised of (from left) Commissioner LaWanda Jones, Commissioner Kim Bennet, Mayor Chris Jones, Vice Mayor Rissa Johns and Commissioner Norman Weaver.

     The next two topics where Commissioner Jones brought new perspectives to this august body and the city government were the fees paid to qualify to run for office, and the method for the annual selection of a mayor and vice mayor.
      Commissioner Jones is filling the last year of the term after former City Commissioner Rollin Hudson resigned before his term expired. 
     Jones said the $448 fee paid by City Commission candidates is too high, from her perspective. She conducted a survey of some cities to compare qualifying fees and she found Chiefland’s was the highest.
     City Manager Laura Cain and City Attorney Norm D. Fugate helped the new city commissioner understand that the fee is part of the process to be elected to the position, and that the fee collected from each candidate in Chiefland does not equal the cost of a city election if there is more than one candidate seeking to fill a seat.
     Jones also said on May 13 that she thinks the voters of Chiefland should select the mayor and vice mayor, rather than the City Commission members choosing from among themselves.
     During the meeting, Commissioner Jones learned this can happen if there is an amendment to the City Charter drafted and approved to be put on a ballot for the voters to decide if to amend the Charter in that manner. However, the voters may reject that even if it was presented as an option on a ballot.
     During the past 20 years, the Chiefland City Commission has discussed amending it charter. Those discussions did not result in that being put on a ballot yet.
     It would take at least a vote of three City Commissioners to place that amendment – having voters choose annually, or however often or seldom, the new mayor and vice mayor -- to the Chiefland City Charter on a ballot for the voters to make that choice.
     After some discussion about this matter, which was not listed specifically on the agenda for the night, one observer mentioned that since this concept of changing the manner in which the city government works is being proposed, perhaps it should be discussed during a workshop and then all interested parties could express their thoughts on the concept.

Other Commentary
     Among the many other speakers who expressed their opinions to the City Commission on assorted topics (some of those people failed to even state their names and all of them simply spoke loudly from their seats in the audience) was Dave Eicher.
     Eicher said he had seen rumors on social media about the development of an area that annexed into the city from the formerly unincorporated Levy County area in the general area of part of Long Pond – south of Chiefland on the west side of U.S. Highway 19.
     Gossip and rumor are the hobgoblins of social media.
     To see the April 10 story about a Planned Unit Development (PUD) proposed for Chiefland, click HERE
     This PUD will take 50 years to reach completion. A PUD is not something new to Florida, although it is new to Levy County. It is the best management practice for growth of a community. Approval of the PUD has started in Chiefland, as always, with several state agencies providing Objections, Recommendations and Comments for the city to see at the outset.
     As the development progresses, the city government and state government will apply various laws to assure growth management according to Florida law are applied. 
     In the meantime, people will have opportunities to express their opinions to the Chiefland City Commission and the Florida Legislature.



Exploring Finance on the Business Page of HardisonInk.com
Should Estate Plans Be Equal … Or Fair?
Published May 14, 2024 at 5 p.m.
     NEWBERRY --
When you’re creating your estate plan, your biggest priority may be taking care of your family — your spouse, grown children, grandchildren, and other loved ones.

     And as you think of where you want your assets to go, you also may be thinking about how to be fair — but is that the same as treating everyone equally?
In estate planning, “equal” doesn’t always mean “fair.” Let’s consider some factors that can help explain the difference:
     • Need – It’s highly unlikely that the individuals you want to include in your estate plan — especially your adult children – have the same family and financial situations. For example, you could have one child who is extremely successful and has no children of their own, while another child earns much less income and supports three children. Clearly, your two adult children have vastly different financial needs — so, you need to consider whether you want to treat them equally or fairly. If you decide you want to treat them fairly, you may want to divide your assets in a way that provides more help to the child who needs it most.
     • Abilities – You may well have some assets that you believe are more suitable for one child over another. This can be especially true if you are planning on passing on a family business. If you know that one child is the most capable of running the business or has been primarily involved in the business, then you may want to give that child control as a next-generation owner. Yet, this may not seem fair to another child, who might also express interest in the business, so you may want to look for ways to provide this child with enough assets to help make the overall inheritance more equal.
     • Practicality – In some instances, you might think you can meet both the “fair” and “equal” criteria. Suppose, for instance, that you have a cabin or other vacation home that you think two of your children could share. In theory, this joint ownership might sound good, but in practical terms, it could cause problems. Are both children equally willing and capable of paying taxes and upkeep on the cabin or vacation home? What if one child wants to sell their share? And then, there’s the question of who gets to use the property at various times of the year. All these issues should be resolvable, but they can also cause great stress within the family. 
     There’s no simple formula for solving the fair-versus-equal dilemma. But keep this in mind: Communicating your wishes to your loved ones while you are drawing up your estate plan can help reduce confusion — and hopefully lead to fewer hard feelings — when you are no longer around. By their nature, fairness and equality issues related to estate plans can trigger a range of emotions, and addressing these feelings beforehand can help provide a great service for your loved ones. 
     You might also find that some objectivity can be valuable. That’s why, when creating your estate plan, you may benefit by working with a team of professionals, including your legal, financial and tax advisors.
     When developing your estate plan, you might well strive for equality and fairness but above all, you want to get things right. And careful planning, open communication and appropriate guidance can help go a long way toward this goal. 
     Publisher’s Note: Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by Edward Jones Financial Advisor - Sheila K. Smith and Edward Jones Financial Advisor and Ashlyn Burtle, 25349 W. Newberry Road, in Newberry. Phone 352-472-2776. 


Alachua County judge
candidates set for interviews

Published May 14, 2024 at 5 p.m.
All applicants who were interviewed by the Commission in the previous nomination cycle, on Feb. 14 remain in consideration for nomination for the current vacancy the Eighth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission will interview the following new applicants for nomination on May 20, beginning at 9 a.m.: Rogers Walker, Lua Lepianka and Luis Rodriguez
     Any applicant from the previous nomination cycle who wishes to appear on May 20 and address the Commission may do so by notifying the Chair.
     Five minutes per applicant will be reserved.
     The interviews will be held in the Chief Judge’s Conference Room, Fourth Floor of the Alachua County Civil Courthouse.
     The interviews are open to the public. Deliberation sessions, which generally occur before the interviews begin, during breaks, and at the conclusion of the interview session, are confidential.
     The JNC Commissioners are Chair Norm D. Fugate, Vice Chair Lindsey Turner, and commissioners Rebecca Shinholser, Candice Brower, Christopher Elsey, Brent Siegel, Brian Kramer and Robert Woody.


Dixie County Chamber of Commerce
conducts another epic luncheon meeting

Dixie County Chamber of Commerce
Debbie DeWeese leads the May 9 Dixie County Chamber of Commerce meeting as Chamber Secretary Tina Keen takes minutes.

Story and Photos By Jeff M. Hardison © May 9, 2024 at 6:30 a.m.
All Copyrights Protected By Federal Civil Law
Do Not Copy and Paste to Social Media or Elsewhere
Even with the president, vice president and treasurer unable to attend, the Dixie County Chamber of Commerce again held an epic monthly meeting on Thursday afternoon (May 9).

     The Dixie County Chamber of Commerce has been seeking business-oriented keynote speakers for its monthly programs since the late Richard T. Balog, CPA, a former officer in the Chamber, suggested it within the past few years. The Dixie County Chamber of Commerce, which has no paid staff members to man an office, continues to thrive with growing membership. It is working on improving its website.
     Led by Debbie DeWeese with Chamber Secretary Tina Keen dutifully recording the minutes, this month’s meeting on May 9 featured an extraordinary lunch and a motivational keynote speaker who was able to mix love for others with commerce to support that effort to help a group of people that want to quit their criminal behavior.
     DeWeese, a former longtime president of the Chamber, has not lost her presidential touch. The meeting went smoothly and even ended on time after an hour.

Dixie Chamber
Former United Methodist Church of Old Town Pastor George Potter (left) meets Debbie DeWeese for the first time. The new Pastor at United Methodist Church of Old Town is Pastor Bob William of Chiefland.

Dixie Chamber
Pastor George Potter, who is destined to become the next Florida Department of Corrections’ chaplain at Cross City Correctional Institution, tells about being a landlord of supportive housing – to help people who want to change away from their criminal way to be productive members of society.

Dixie Chamber
Cathy Block, a co-owner of Cracker House Winery, cuts freshly cooked biscuits that were part of the delicious homemade lunch provided by Cracker House Winery. That meal included ham, rice, macaroni and cheese, tomato gravy, mustard greens, fresh biscuits and pecan pound cake and cake with icing. During the meeting, Block reported a May 4 event at the Cracker House Winery enjoyed relatively good attendance.

Dixie Chamber
The food is ready for people to put on their plates via buffet style service. The awesome aroma permeated the Dixie County Public Library as it wafted next door from the conference and kitchen area over the main library. Seen here are ham, rice, macaroni and cheese, mustard greens, tomato gravy and biscuits.

Dixie Chamber
Desserts of the day are seen before they are sliced.

Dixie Chamber
Katrina VanAernam, executive director of the Dixie County Anti-Drug Coalition is seen with her most recent and youngest employee Raegan VonStein, a 2019 graduate of Dixie County High School.

Dixie Chamber
Sheila Frierson of the Dixie County Anti-Drug Coalition provided every member and guest at the Dixie County Chamber of Commerce meeting on May 7 with a Deterra packet and information about how prescription drugs pollute the environment when people flush drugs down the toilet into septic tanks or municipal sewer systems.

Dixie Chamber
Karen VanAernam of Cross City Restore and Renew speaks about the various buildings the group has cleaned up. This group is part of the Dixie County Anti-Drug Coalition’s efforts to improve the environment in Dixie County by making the area more attractive and safe, including adding lighting to some areas that need it.

Dixie Chamber
(from left) Ed Suor, Mark Hatch and Cathy Block listen to Karen VanAernam speak about Jeff Hendry of the North Florida Economic Development Partnership. The partnership includes 14 counties -- Baker, Bradford, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Putnam, Suwannee, Taylor and Union counties. VanAernam is among the representatives from Dixie County to the NFEDP. Suor has heard Hendry speak a number of times at the Nature Coast (Levy County) Economic Development Group meetings.

     George P. Potter told the Chamber members and guest at the luncheon meeting held in the Dixie County Public Library’s Conference Room in Cross City about the potential to use land and residential structures to rent as “supportive housing” to help people who are released from prison.
     Landlords can create affordable and safe housing, where they will give support and encouragement, as well as some guidance and direction to former inmates so that those folks will learn about or remember the value from working within the bounds of the law.
     Potter said he is happy to say that often there are people who want to change their ways, and with some support they can find better avenues rather than continuing as a member of the criminal element of society.
     He said there have been occasions, however, when law enforcement would come and put “bracelets” on renters who made incorrect choices, and those people would return to the place where they are given “three hots and a cot” on a daily basis as they are taken out of the free world and are incarcerated again.
     To learn more about the Florida Supportive Housing Coalition, click HERE. https://fshc.org/
     In addition to the program about providing housing as a landlord for criminals returning to become law-abiding citizens, while the investor makes some revenue at that as a business venture, there were other informational items shared.
     Katrina VanAernam, executive director of the Dixie County Anti-Drug Coalition (DCADC) introduced Raegan VonStein, a recently hired DCADC employee.
     The DCADC leader also spoke about a training opportunity to learn about motivational interviewing and verbal de-escalation.
     This training is good for husbands, wives, employers and others. It helps the participants learn methods to ask questions to help people get better results more quickly as well as to calm down overly intense discussions.
     The training program is on May 23 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at Cross City’s City Hall, 99 210th Ave., in Cross City. The program is free. Reservations are required.
     Contact Raegan VonStein before May 17 to attend. Contact her at rvonstein@dcadc.org or by calling 352-275-2603.
     A flyer about the training notes that “Motivational Interviewing (MI) honors that each individual is at a different readiness level when it comes to change. MI seeks to engage individuals, elicit change talk, and evoke motivation to make positive changes.”
     In other news from the Chamber meeting, the call for volunteers was issued to help put up flags for the Memorial Day Weekend displays. In the most recent past, Dixie County High School FFA students have assisted.
     To see the July 14, 2016 story and photos -- Dixie County Chamber offers opportunity to honor veterans Click HERE.
     To see the photos and captions from May 24, 2022 – American Flags Fly In Dixie County, click HERE.
     To see the story and photos from the Jan. 15, 2022 -- 56th Annual Meeting of the Dixie County Chamber of Commerce click HERE.
     To see the Jan. 19, 2016 story and photos -- Dixie County Chamber of Commerce starts 2016 monthly meetings with excellent turnout, click HERE.


Audit Results Shared
Levy County
Brendan McKitrick, CPA, (at the lectern without a tie) presents the audit of the County Commission. McKitrick works for the company that performed the audit. Standing next to McKitrick is Robert G. Boschen Jr., who also provided insight to the County Commission. Boschen has appeared before the County Commission before, as long ago as 2021, when he helped Jared Blanton, CPA, explain investments to the County Commission back then. The most recent audit of Levy County by McKitrick showed the county earned an unmodified opinion, which is excellent, and reflected records and procedures that mirror a county that keeps records well and performs wise economic practices for a sustainable county government. To see the July 21, 2021 story ‘Levy County expands investment potential,’ where Boschen is assisting Jared Blanton, CPA, click HERE.

Photo By Jeff M. Hardison © May 9, 2024 at 9:15 a.m.
All Rights Reserved



Governor DeSantis announces
Freedom Summer Savings

Information Provided By Governor’s Press Office
Published April 30, 2024 at 10 p.m.
– Today (Tuesday, April 30), Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that he would be signing the Freedom Summer Sales Tax Holiday, in the budget for Fiscal Year 2024-25.
     The Freedom Month Sales Tax Holiday will take place the entire month of July and will make items such as fishing supplies, outdoor recreation equipment, admissions to state parks and, museums sales tax free.
     Additionally, the governor announced that Florida State Parks will offer free admission on Memorial Day Weekend to kick off the summer for Florida’s families.
     “Florida is stepping up to make summer more affordable for families,” DeSantis said. “While the federal government is causing high inflation and skyrocketing costs for families, Florida’s smart fiscal policies allow us to reduce taxes and help reduce the burden on Floridians.”
     “Florida's 175 award-winning state parks are second to none,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “I encourage all of Florida's residents and visitors to take advantage of these extra savings and discover the unique experiences the real Florida has to offer.”
     To kick off the summer with savings for families, Governor DeSantis has waived admission for all visitors to Florida State Parks for Memorial Day weekend. This includes May 24-27.
     The Freedom Month Sales Tax Holiday will remove the sales tax on items families use during the summer, including:
Boating and water activity supplies
     ● Goggles and snorkels ($25 or less) 
     ● Pool toys ($35 or less)
     ● Coolers, Life jackets, Paddles ($75 or less)
     ● Inflatable water tubes and floats, Wakeboards ($150 or less)
     ● Paddleboards, Surfboards ($300 or less)
     ● Canoes, Kayaks ($500 or less)
Fishing Supplies 
     ● Bait and Tackle ($5 or less for individual items, $10 or less for multiple items sold together)
     ● Tackle boxes ($30 or less)
     ● Reels, Rods ($75 or less)
Camping Supplies
     ● Flashlights ($30 or less)
     ● Sleeping bags, Camping chairs ($50 or less)
     ● Tents ($200 or less)
Outdoor Supplies 
     ● Sunscreen ($15 or less)
     ● Water bottles ($30 or less)
     ● Bicycle helmets ($50 or less)
     ● Outdoor grills ($250 or less)
     ● Bicycles ($500 or less)
Admissions to events or performances scheduled to be held between July 1, 2024 and Dec. 31, 2024
     ● Live music events
     ● Live sporting events
     ● Movies to be shown in a movie theater
     ● Ballets
     ● Plays
     ● Fairs
     ● Festivals
Admissions purchased for any of the following
     ● Museums, including annual passes
     ● State parks, including annual passes
     ● Season tickets for ballets, plays, music events, and musical theater performances


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