HardisonInk.com

--UPDATED--
MONDAY  NOV. 29  7:11 p.m.  Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties

 


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Exploring Finances

What To Know About
Early IRA Withdrawals

Published Nov. 29, 2021 at 7:11 p.m.
     NEWBERRY --
While you’re working, you may be contributing to an individual retirement account (IRA), which can provide a tax-advantaged way to save for your future.

 

 

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     So, is it ever a good idea to tap into your IRA before you retire?
Ideally, you should leave this account intact until your retirement.
     After all, you could spend two or more decades in retirement, so you’ll need a lot of financial resources. Still, life is unpredictable, so there may be times you’ll consider taking money from your IRA. You’ll need to be aware, though, that if you withdraw funds before you turn 59 and one-half years old, you will generally trigger a 10 percent penalty. Plus, you’ll be taxed on whatever you take out, thereby losing, at least in part, the benefits of tax-deferred earnings offered by a traditional IRA.
     (With a Roth IRA, you can withdraw your contributions free of taxes and penalties, but the earnings may be taxed and penalized if you take them out before you’re 59.5 years old.)    
     If you need to withdraw funds from your IRA before you’re 59½, you may be able to avoid the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty if you meet an exception, such as one of these: 
     • Paying for college – You are allowed to take penalty-free withdrawals to pay for tuition and other qualified higher education expenses for you, your spouse, children or grandchildren. However, since the withdrawals may be considered taxable income, they could reduce the student’s eligibility for financial aid.
     • Buying a first home – You and your spouse can each withdraw up to $10,000 from your respective IRAs to buy your first home. To qualify as a first-time homebuyer, you (and your spouse) need to have not owned a home for the two years preceding your home purchase. 
     • Having a child – Following the birth or adoption of a child, you and your coparent can each withdraw up to $5,000 from your respective IRA without paying the 10 percentpenalty.  
     • Covering medical expenses – You may be able to avoid the early withdrawal penalty if you use the money to pay for unreimbursed medical expenses (for you, your spouse or dependents) that exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. You may also qualify to take a withdrawal without penalty to pay for health insurance premiums if you are unemployed. In the case of a disability, the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty also may not apply.  
     These aren’t the only exceptions to the 10 percent withdrawal penalty, but they do cover many of the common reasons that people may consider an early withdrawal from their IRAs. And if you do need to take an early withdrawal, consult with your tax advisor to determine your eligibility for avoiding the 10 percent penalty.
     Keep in mind, though, that you do have ways to potentially reduce the necessity of withdrawing from your IRA early. One proven technique is to build  an emergency fund containing at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses, with the money kept in a liquid account. You might also consider opening a line of credit. A financial professional can help you explore other options, as well. 
     Ultimately, if you can leave your IRA intact until you retire, you’ll be helping yourself greatly. But if you do need to tap into your account early, at least be familiar with the possible drawbacks – and how you might avoid them. 
     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.

 


The 12 Ads Of Christmas
By Jeff M. Hardison © Nov. 26, 2021 at 11:11 a.m.
     TRI-COUNTY AREA –
Just as Ace Hardware, Cash Munny Gun & Pawn, and Florida Forest Products sponsored the significant Hurricane Season ad on the Life Page from June 1 through Nov. 30, so too another set of advertisers accepted an invitation for added advertisements from Black Friday (Nov. 26) through Christmas (Dec. 25).

     Starting on the Home Page and going through the other six pages, the new ads are reviewed in this story, after the immediately following note for our current yearlong sponsors.
     Please remember to shop or use services at these advertisers. Our yearlong advertisers at this moment are 2nd Street Café In Cedar Key; All-Out Bail Bonds; B4 Signs & Advertising; Back Door Antiques Of Williston; Camp Valor And Otter Springs Park And Campground In Gilchrist County; Cash Munny Pawn, Jewelry, Guns Of Chiefland (Gunsmith - Machine Guns, Silencers And More); Central Florida Electric Cooperative; Three Chambers Of Commerce – Cedar Key, Dixie County and Withlacoochee Gulf (Inglis and Yankeetown); The Chiefland Farmers Flea Market; The City of Williston; The College Of Central Florida (Open House Nov. 30); Employee Administrative Services Inc. (Payroll And HR Administration Made EASI); Edward Jones – Financial Advisor Sheila K. Smith Of Newberry; The Gilchrist County Visitors Bureau; Harriett Downs Real Estate; The Levy County Prevention Coalition; The Levy County Tourist Development Council; Levy Jones (Your Paper And Janitorial Supply Experts); MuniCreative, Florida Clerk Of Courts Website Services; The NET Group Online; The North Central Florida Regional Housing Authority; Our Friends The Animals: Cultivating A Reverence For Life, A Free Book By Robert Echols; Palms Medical Group; Peters Law – Brandon S. Peters, Esquire; Quincey Cattle Co.; Realtor Tommy Harrington Of Century 21 (Live The Good Life At The Bluff); Roberts Funeral Home (Here For You - Serving Levy County); Steamers Clam Bar And Grill of Cedar Key; Taste Of Dixie Diner In Cross City; The Tobacco Free Partnership Of Dixie County; The Tri-County Area Health Units (COVID-19 Testing And Vaccination Days, Times And Places In Levy-Dixie-Gilchrist Counties), Waste Pro; and The Yellow Jacket RV Resort Of Dixie County.
     The two new ads on the Home Page are Distinctive Designs and Tommy Harrington. Distinctive Designs is offering one-of-a-kind gifts for that special person. With Christmas approaching, this is a place to look. Tommy Harrington is a Realtor with Century 21 Dianne Chewning & Associates. He is noting their wish for everyone to enjoy a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
     On the Police Page, it is Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum and the officers and staff at the Levy County Sheriff’s Office who are wishing everyone a safe and wonderful Holiday Season as well as saying “Merry Christmas!”
     On the Calendar Page, the Levy County Quilt Museum is noting its many options for gift-buyers looking for something special. And everyone at Central Florida Electric Cooperative hopes  everyone has bright Christmas as well as to be safe and happy during the holidays.
     On the Business Page, it is Ace Hardware of Bronson, and the restaurants – Bett’s Big T in Chiefland, Farmhouse 1906 in Newberry and The Original Lighthouse in the City of Fanning Springs. Santa reminds people that Ace Hardware of Bronson has plenty of gift options. The restaurants are noting “Merry Christmas” from all of the people there, and that Jesus is the reason for the season.
     On the Community Page, Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones and all of the staff members in her office are providing their warmest wishes from their homes to yours.
     On the Life Page, the Garden Patch Café and the Quincey Cattle Co. are helping spread wishes for a Merry Christmas.
     The two new ads on the Leisure Page are for Fix Them All, seeking donations to help in the spay-neuter efforts, and Two Tails Ranch (All About Elephants) with information about ranch tours and gift cards.
     As for the 12 ads for Christmas, these were the first 12 people and business interests approached by HardisonInk.com to buy ads this year for the period from Black Friday through Christmas. Certainly, there are some folks we did not reach and there were a couple who chose against our invitation.
     There are still many ad opportunities open for people who are wanting to attract customers for products and services. Ad prices range from $750 to $2,000 a year. Short-term ads for politicians or for special events, like festivals, are available for $400 a month.
     The best purchase option is by the year. All ads can be changed monthly. All ads can be hyperlinked to websites. For more information about buying an ad on HardisonInk.com, please send an email to
hardisonink@gmail.com.
     We say, “Thank you!” to every one of our past, current and future advertisers.

 


CF nursing program among
most affordable in the nation

By CF Marketing, Public and Community Relations,
Published Nov. 23, 2021 at 6:11 p.m.
      OCALA
— The College of Central Florida RN-BSN Nursing program has been ranked No. 6 in the nation for Most Affordable Online Nursing Programs in 2021.

     The recognition is from EduMED.org, which connects students with the best and most affordable online degree programs in more than 60 medical and health fields.
      “We set out to find schools that are making online education a priority,” said Wes Ricketts, founder of EduMed.org. “Each school in our rankings has a winning combination of flexibility, affordability, academic rigor and student support. This is a tall task in a field that leans on face-to-face interaction and hands-on training.”
     This recognition of CF’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program comes at a time when students across the country are taking more of their courses either fully or partially online. According to data from the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics, enrollment in online courses increased by 93 percent between Fall 2019 and Fall 2020. Nearly two-thirds of college students took at least one online course in 2020.
     Schools were selected for the ranking based on government data provided by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the United States Department of Education. Schools were ranked on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

 


 

Economic recovery continues in region
CareerSource CLM Director of Communications
By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Published Nov. 19, 2021 at 8:11 p.m.
     OCALA –
Economic recovery continues a slow but steady improvement in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region.

     The unemployment rate in October was 4.7 percent, 0.5 percentage point lower than the region’s rate 5.2 percent one year ago. The labor force was 213,031, up 10,519 over the year, and there were 10,041 unemployed, a drop of 433 since October 2020.
     According to today’s (Friday, Nov. 19) release of preliminary employment numbers by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the Ocala metropolitan statistical area, which includes all of Marion County, had the fastest annual job growth rate in October compared to all the metro areas in the state in manufacturing at 8.3 percent, and also tied for the highest annual job growth, adding 800 new positions over the year for a total of 10,400 manufacturing jobs.  
     In addition to over-the-year gains, the region also showed areas of improvement moving from September into October. Across the three counties, the labor force was up over the month by 1,191 (to 213,031); there were 202,990 employed, an increase of 10,952 since October 2020 and 1,341 more than the previous month; and the number of unemployed dropped by 433 over the year and 150 over the month.
     Levy County continues to hold the lowest jobless rate in the region at 4.1 percent, down 0.2 percentage point over the month; Marion County followed with a rate of 4.6 percent, a drop of 0.1 percentage point; and Citrus County’s rate also fell by 0.1 percentage point to 5.2 percent. Florida’s not seasonally adjusted jobless rate – a measure that matches the way local rates are calculated – was 4.0 percent, a decrease of 0.3 percentage points over the month and 1.6 percent lower than October 2020.
     Dale French, CareerSource CLM’s executive vice president, said that the numbers across all counties show great improvement for current talent pool shortages. 
      “Not only are we seeing labor force figures rising, but the numbers also indicate that individuals gaining employment are outpacing labor force growth,” French said. “This shows that workers who had previously dropped out of the labor force are also returning to work.” 
     Here is how each county fared in the October jobs report:
     Citrus County’s labor force grew by 440 over the month to 49,128, the number of employed rose by 486 to 46,588, and the number of unemployed dropped slightly by 46 to 2,540. Compared to October 2020 when the unemployment rate was 5.8 percent, the labor force expanded by 3,178, there were 3,323 more employed and 145 fewer unemployed.
     Levy County’s labor force was virtually unchanged, inching up by 12 to 17,854, the number of those with jobs increased by 44 to 17,124, and the number of jobless decreased by 32 to 730. Over the year, when the jobless rate was 4.3 percent, the labor force grew 979, there were 972 more employed and 7 fewer unemployed.
     Marion County’s labor force expanded by 739 to 146,049, the number of those with jobs increased by 811 to 139,278, and the number of unemployed dropped by 72 to 6,771. Compared to the same time last year, when the jobless rate was 5.1 percent, the labor force rose by 6,362, the number of employed increased by 6,657, and the number of unemployed dropped by 295.
     The nonagricultural employment in the Ocala metropolitan statistical area, which covers all of Marion County, was 109,400 in October, an increase of 2,100 jobs over the year for a 2.0 percent annual growth rate.
     In the Homosassa Springs MSA, which includes all of Citrus County, there were 33,400 nonfarm jobs, an increase of 1,500 jobs over the year for an annual growth rate of 4.7 percent.
     In addition to manufacturing, other industries gaining jobs over the year in the Ocala metro area were trade, transportation, and utilities (+700 jobs); mining, logging, and construction (+500 jobs); leisure and hospitality (+500 jobs); other services (+200 jobs); and education and health services (+100 jobs).
     The government industry lost 700 jobs over the year while the information, financial activities, and professional and business services industries were unchanged.
     Manufacturing, at 8.3 percent, and mining, logging, and construction at 5.8 percent grew faster in the Ocala metro area than statewide over the year.
     Among Florida’s 67 counties, Citrus County tied with Sumter County with the sixth highest unemployment rate; Marion County remained the 13th highest; and Levy County held the 25th highest rate, tying with Charlotte, Columbia, Escambia, Holmes, Leon, Okeechobee, Pasco and Suwannee counties.
     The Homosassa Springs MSA posted the second fourth highest jobless rate among the state’s 24 metros, tying with The Villages, and the Ocala MSA ranked fifth.
     The region’s preliminary employment summary for November is scheduled to be released on Friday, Dec. 17.

 


Rich Bianculli named as
Director Emeritus
of the Community Foundation
for Ocala/Marion County

Community Foundation
Frank Hennessey, president of the board of directors, and Director Emeritus Rich Bianculli of the Community Foundation for Ocala/Marion County pause for a photo op.

Story and Photo Provided 
By Community Foundation for Ocala/Marion County
Published Nov. 19, 2021 at 12:11 p.m.
     OCALA -
- The Board of Directors for the Community Foundation for Ocala/Marion County recently designated board member Rich Bianculli as a Director Emeritus for the Foundation.

      “For the third time in the Community Foundation’s history, we are recognizing a board member in this way, and we are pleased to honor Rich,” said Lauren Deiorio, Executive Director.
     Bianculli officially retired from the board in September 2021. During the October 2021 board meeting, board members unanimously selected him to receive this distinguished honor. Additionally, Bianculli received an award commemorating his retirement.
      “For the past several years, Rich completely immersed himself in the vision and mission of the Community Foundation,” said Frank Hennessey, president of the board of directors. “As he takes a step back from the board, we will continue to seek his wise counsel and advice in his new emeritus role.”
     Bianculli is co-founder of Richmond Hill Capital Partners, LLC, a financial services company in Ocala and currently serves as the Chairman of the Marion County Hospital District Board of Trustees. Candidates eligible for Emeritus status must have served at least two terms on the board of directors, provided extensive leadership on the board and in board committees, and have a history of significant contributions to the Marion County community.
     The Community Foundation for Ocala Marion County is Building a Stronger Community…One Passion at a Time. Programs include the NonProfit Business Council, the Estate Planning Council, and the Nonprofit Resource Center in partnership with the City of Ocala, the Marion County Hospital District and Advent Health. 

 


WGA Chamber of Commerce
reports success in 2021

Information Provided
By Dr. Richard Streeter
Published Nov. 16, 2021 at 5:11 p.m.
     INGLIS –
In the Withlacoochee Gulf Area Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Report, many of the Chamber’s accomplishments were shared from 2021.

     In this June 25 article and photos published exclusively in HardisonInk.com, it shows how the kiosk was ready for a ribbon-cutting. Click HERE to read the story and see the photos.
     As for the kiosk, a RESTORE Act grant of $34,175 was awarded to Levy County for an electronic kiosk outside the Chamber of Commerce office in Inglis to provide 24/7 information. The kiosk is averaging about 40 users per month. The Elvis statue far exceeds that number in photo ops.
     In this Aug. 11 story with photos, the kiosk ribbon-cutting is covered by HardisonInk.com. Click HERE to read the story and see the photos.
     In another success story from the WGA Chamber, the chamber hosted candidates’ forum on Feb. 20 for the Yankeetown election, and on March 13 for the Inglis election. Both were well attended.
     The Chamber replaced the faded sign, which is part of the Elvis photo-op next to the Chamber.
     In 2022,the Chamber intends to replace the billboard sign on the west side of U.S. Highway 19, as southbound travelers see it on their right while they approach the traffic light at the intersection of U.S. 19 and Levy County Road 40.
     The Chamber is in discussions with the Dunnellon Chamber of Commerce and the Citrus County Economic Development Council about common projects.
     Also, the Chamber has taken the lead in asking the Levy County Board of County Commissioners to designate some American Rescue Act Coalition funding for economic development in Levy County.
     For more information about the WGA Chamber of Commerce, click HERE.

 


The Great Florida Yard Sale
held at Crystal River Mall and beyond
Remember, too, there is the
Chiefland Farmers Flea Market

sale
Story and Photos
By C.L. Watson, HardisonInk.com Correspondent
© Nov. 13, 2021 at 9:11 a.m.
     CITRUS COUNTY –
The Great Florida Yard Sale heralded its eighth year with shopping opportunities on Friday (Nov. 12) and continuing Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 13 and 14) from Crystal River to Homosassa in Citrus County.

 


Sale

 

Sale


     Most of the vendors are set up in the Crystal River Mall parking lot. A map of other participating vendors can be found on the event website http://www.thegreatfloridayardsale.com/.
     Shoppers can find a variety of items including antiques, crafts, new items, holiday décor, jewelry, tools, toys, yard ornaments, cedar boards, vintage dishes and more. The prices are moderate and like some open-air markets, the sellers are willing to bargain.
     For people who enjoy the flea market experience, the best nearby place to visit is the Chiefland Farmers Flea Market, 1206 N. Young Blvd. (U.S. Highway 19), just north of the brand new Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen (chicken and shrimp) on the western side of the road in Chiefland.
     The website for the Chiefland Farmers Flea Market is https://chieflandfleamarket.com/, or on the ad for the flea market, which is on all seven pages of HardisonInk.com.

 


Rachel Rojas named assistant director
of FBI’s Insider Threat Office

Rachel Rojas is now Assistant Director of Insider Threat Office
Rachel Rojas is the assistant director of the Insider Threat Office now.

Story and Photo Provided
By Public Affairs Officer Amanda W. Videll
FBI Jacksonville
Published Nov. 10, 2021 at 9:11 p.m.
     WASHINGTON, D.C. –
Federal Bureau of Investigations Director Christopher Wray has named Rachel Rojas as the assistant director of the Insider Threat Office at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

 

 

 


Statement from Assistant Director Rojas on her promotion
Rachel L. Rojas, Special Agent In Charge, FBI Jacksonville, shared the statement above on Wednesday (Nov. 10).

     Rojas most recently served as the special agent in charge of the Jacksonville Field Office in Florida. 
     The Insider Threat Office is the FBI’s central strategic coordinating component for all insider threat issues. 
     Rojas joined the FBI in 1996 as an investigative specialist for the New York Field Office. She successfully applied to become a special agent and completed her academy training in 2000. As an agent, Rojas returned to New York to investigate administrative and drug matters. After the Sept. 11, 2001, she investigated financing data and communications tied to the attack. 
     In 2005, Ms. Rojas was promoted to a supervisory special agent and transferred to the Terrorism Financing Operations Section of the Counterterrorism Division at FBI Headquarters. She returned to New York in 2007 to oversee the applicant program, then moved to focus on mortgage and bank fraud. 
     In 2012, she was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of New York’s Criminal Division. She was responsible for overseeing complex financial crime threats, public corruption, civil rights, health care fraud, and other issues.
     The next year, Rojas was named assistant special agent in charge over New York’s Violent Criminal Threat Branch, managing the Safe Streets gang and violent crime task forces, bank robberies, fugitives, human trafficking, and other programs.
     Rojas returned to FBI Headquarters in 2015 as a section chief in the Security Division, responsible for the physical and technical protection of FBI personnel, facilities, information, and operations worldwide. In 2019, Rojas became the FBI’s first Latina special agent in charge when she was appointed to lead the Jacksonville Field Office in Florida. 
     Rojas earned a bachelor’s degree in communications/journalism from Boston University and a master’s degree in international management/leadership from Manhattanville College, located near New York City.

 


Swiftmud awards grant to WES
for Water Resources Education Project

Information Provided
By Susanna Martinez Tarokh, Public Information Officer
Southwest Florida Water Management District
Published Nov. 9, 2021 at 7:11 a.m.
     BROOKSVILLE --
The Southwest Florida Water Management District (Swiftmud) awarded $104,941.81 in grants to 48 educators within the District as part of the "Splash! school grant program.

     The program provides up to $3,000 per school to enhance student knowledge of freshwater resources in grades kindergarten through 12th grade.
     "Splash!" grants encourage hands-on student learning through STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities as well as engagement of the greater school community through awareness campaigns. Each school district allocates a portion of their annual youth education funding provided by Swiftmud to support the "Splash!" grants in their county.
     The District awarded grants to the following schools/teachers in its northern region:
     ● Williston Elementary School - Pricilla Fugate (Levy)
     ● Brooksville Elementary School – Rachel Vascellaro (Hernando)
     ● Central High School – Rachel M. Kingdom (Hernando)
     ● Dunnellon Elementary School – Nancy Garvin (Marion)      
     ● Gulf Coast Academy of Science and Technology – Eliza Mantooth (Hernando)
     ● Lecanto High School – Cori Rohan (Citrus)
     ● South Sumter High School - Thomas Roger Allison (Sumter)           
     ● South Sumter Middle School - Patricia Heijkoop (Sumter)
     ● Sparr Elementary School – Rachel Keene (Marion)
     ● Webster Elementary School – Leslie Mancini (Sumter)

     Grants are available for freshwater resources field studies, water-conserving garden projects, community or school awareness campaigns and on-site workshops.      For more information, please visit Swiftmud’s website by clicking HERE.

 


 

Hospital earns honors
Information Provided
By Kaitlyn Butler
Published Nov. 4, 2021 at 8:11 p.m.
     OCALA –
West Marion Community Hospital recently achieved accreditation as a Center of Excellence in Robotic Surgery, recognized for providing the highest quality of care and patient safety by the Surgical Review Corporation (SRC).

     Status as an accredited hospital means that West Marion Community Hospital has met nationally and internationally recognized standards. Not all hospitals and surgeons seek accreditation; not all that undergo the rigorous requirements and inspection process are granted accreditation.
      “We are proud of our advancements in robotic surgery as we continue to foster a culture of excellence here at Ocala Health,” said Chad Christianson, Chief Executive Officer, Ocala Health. “This Center of Excellence designation demonstrates the extensive depth of experience and knowledge exhibited by our surgeons and clinical teams as we continue to deliver the highest quality of care to our patients.”
     Health care facilities and surgeons seeking accreditation by SRC undergo an extensive self-assessment and inspection process. This includes physicians, nurses and administrators who are actively involved in the accredited program. The inspection is consultative and educational, presenting best practices to help an organization or surgeon improve its care and services.
      “We’re proud to recognize West Marion Community Hospital for their commitment to advancing and providing quality care for all patients,” said Gary M. Pratt, CEO of SRC. “This accreditation signals that this hospital is among the best in this specialty and is dedicated to delivering the highest level of care possible.”
     Ocala Health encompasses Ocala Regional Medical Center, a 288-bed facility located in the heart of Ocala, and West Marion Community Hospital, a 186-bed hospital located in west Marion County, Summerfield ER, a freestanding emergency department located in southern Marion County, Maricamp ER, a freestanding emergency department located on Maricamp Road in Ocala, and Trailwinds Village ER, a freestanding emergency department located in Sumter County. Ocala Regional Medical Center is a Level II Trauma Center and a Comprehensive Stroke Center.

 


CF rates among top 15 percent
of U.S. colleges eligible
for $1 million Aspen Prize

Information Provided By
CF Marketing and Public Relations 
Published Nov. 4, 2021 at 7:11 a.m.
     OCALA --
The College of Central Florida has been selected as one of the top 15 percent of colleges in the United States of America to be eligible to compete for the 2023 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.
     The Aspen Prize is based on performance in student outcomes, including graduation rates, improvement in student success and equitable student success.
     In each two-year cycle, a jury of national experts selects 10 finalist institutions, and, ultimately, one winner of the prestigious award. CF was also recognized and deemed eligible for the $1 million prize in 2011, 2013, 2017 and 2021.
     “Recognition by the Aspen Institute reflects the commitment by CF faculty and staff to our students and our belief in the power of education to transform lives and enrich our community,” said Dr. James Henningsen, CF president. “We are looking forward to providing the additional documentation to show that we are one of the best colleges in the nation.”
     The Aspen Prize spotlights exemplary community colleges in order to elevate the sector, drive attention to colleges doing the best work, and discover and share highly effective student success and equity strategies. Since 2010, Aspen has focused intensively on community colleges because community colleges are, as First Lady Dr. Jill Biden stated at the 2021 Aspen Prize ceremony, “a powerful engine of prosperity.”
     The 150 colleges selected for this honor stand out among more than 1,000 community colleges nationwide as having high and improving levels of student success as well as equitable outcomes for Black and Hispanic students and those from lower-income backgrounds. Located in urban, rural, and suburban areas across 34 states, these colleges serve as few as 230 students and as many as 57,000. 
     “In an era of persistent inequity and workforce talent gaps, our nation’s best community colleges are stepping up to deliver more degrees to increasingly diverse students so they are prepared for the good jobs waiting to be filled,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “Leaders of exceptional community colleges understand that achieving excellence requires expanding college access and increasing degree completion, but it doesn’t stop there.  They are committed to ensuring that all students – including students of color and those from low-income backgrounds –graduate with the skills needed to secure a job with family-sustaining wages or successfully transfer to and graduate from a university. That same commitment that stands at the center of the Aspen Prize: to advance the goals of social mobility and equitable talent development.”
     The top 10 finalists for the 2023 Aspen Prize will be named in summer 2022. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data, including employment and earnings data. A distinguished jury will make award decisions in spring 2023.
     Previous winners of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence include Miami Dade College and Indian River State College, 2019; Lake Area Technical College (South Dakota), 2017; Santa Fe College, 2015; Santa Barbara City College (California) and Walla Walla Community College (Washington), 2013; Valencia College, 2011.
     The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes, especially for the growing population of low-income students and students of color on American campuses. 
     The Aspen Institute is a community-serving organization with global reach whose vision is a free, just, and equitable society. For 70 years, the Institute has driven change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the world’s greatest challenges.
     Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Institute has offices in Aspen, Colorado, and New York City, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit https://highered.aspeninstitute.org/.

 


Buddy and Fred’s Hardware
wins 2021 scarecrow contest

By Jeff M. Hardison © Nov. 2, 2021 at 7:11 a.m.
     INGLIS-YANKEETOWN –
The winner of the 2021 WGA Chamber of Commerce Scarecrow Contest in southern Levy County is Buddy and Fred’s Hardware in Inglis.
     Since at least 2015, the Withlacoochee Gulf Area Chamber of Commerce (WGA) has sponsored an annual scarecrow contest.
     The first place winner is presented with an Annually Rotating Plaque, with the complements of the Withlacoochee Gulf Area Chamber of Commerce. 
     Businesses and other organizations entered this year’s contest with the deadline being Oct. 25.
     Scarecrows were completed by Oct. 29. Judging happened on Saturday morning (Oct. 30).
     Scarecrows were judged by:
     ● Originality and/or Creativity;
     ● Workmanship and/or Attention to Detail; and
     ● Presentation and/or Crowd Appeal from the Street.

 


Independent measure
of 10-month average traffic
mirrors daily news website’s strength


Statistics for HardisonInk.com traffic

Story and Graphic
By Jeff M. Hardison © Nov. 1, 2021 at 8:11 a.m.
     JEMLANDS –
Surrounded by darkness with countless stars shining through the trees of Jemlands, the sole proprietor of the daily news website saw independent reports reflecting the website’s strength in advertising very early Monday monring (Nov. 1).
     The daily news website named HardisonInk.com continues to thrive its 11th year of existence thanks to people using it for information, education and entertainment, according to two independent third-party robotic measuring devices -- Google Analytics and cPanel – providing records for October traffic.
    Jeff M. Hardison, owner, publisher and sole proprietor doing business as HardisonInk.com shared his perspective on some news regarding the website’s 11th year in business.
     In the first 10 months of 2021, the daily news website is averaging 10,000 unique visitors and about one million hits a month.
     HardisonInk.com began its 11th year on Feb. 1, 2021.
     The 10-month average number of unique visitors for 2021 is just over 10,000 unique visitors, according to a review of the robotic measuring programs early this morning (Monday, Nov. 1, 2021).
     Hardison said he is thankful to God for all things. The sole proprietor of this small business said he is grateful to the individuals who continue reading and viewing of stories, photos and videos, which shows a powerful base of people as the daily news website moves forward through its 11th year of service.
     The business owner said he extremely appreciates other local small business owners and interests who continue to buy ads to sponsor HardisonInk.com.

UNIQUE VISITORS
     The first gauge reflects Unique Visitors.
     Webopedia.com defines unique visitor as "a person who visits a website more than once within a specified period of time."
     Software used for this report can distinguish between visitors who only visit the site once and unique visitors -- who return to the site.
     The unique visitor is different from a site's hits or page views -- which are measured by the number of files that are requested from a site. Unique visitors are measured according to their unique Internet Protocol addresses, which are like online fingerprints, and unique visitors are counted only once no matter how many times they visit the site after they have visited it twice.
     “I look forward to every second in 2021,” Hardison said. “No matter what happens, I am going to remember this is the day the Lord has made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it.
     “Like many other people, I mourn the loss of people and pets that have passed away recently,” he added.

UNIQUE VISITORS
    The 10-month average Unique Visitors Monthly total for the 2021 is 10,032.
     “I remember one month during the first year,” Hardison said, “when I thought 800 was a lot of unique visitors to be touching the daily news website in a month. With the most recent monthly report of computer addresses visiting the daily news website, I am confident and proud to sell ads at the same rate that was good when there were only 800 a month.”
     There has been zero increased cost for advertisers who sponsor the daily news website – other than the short-term advertisers since the start of the daily news website in 2011, he continued. Also, the ads on the side grew from being 260-pixels wide to being 300-pixels wide now.

NUMBER OF VISITS
     Another measure of traffic is the number of visits.
     The 10-month average of Number Of Visits in 2021 is 23,157.

PAGES VIEWED
     Pages Viewed shows how many of the seven different pages the visitors looked at. This website has the Home Page, Police Page, Calendar Page, Business Page, Community Page, Life Page and the Leisure Page.
     The 10-month average of Pages Viewed in 2021 is 54,479 pages.

HITS
     While the Hits for October were listed at 1,017,087. The 10-month average is almost one million. That 20-month average in 2021 is 978,400 hits.
     What is a “hit?” When a viewer looks at a page, there are elements on the page that register a “hit.” For instance, if there are four pictures on a page, then that equals four “hits.” Like all the gauges, this is a measure of traffic.
     All measurements combined show that the daily news website is continuing its trend of progress each year – despite a loss of readers who died from COVID-19 and other causes.
     “These figures herald the fact that many people each day use HardisonInk.com as a source for information,” Hardison said. “And they return daily. The data surprised me a little today (Nov. 1, 2021), because with the COVID-19 global pandemic, I anticipated seeing a more marked drop in traffic. The death toll of Americans and people in every country from COVID-19, according to medical professionals who record this type of information, is enough to have an impact on every facet of life on the globe.”
     According to a story published today (Monday, Nov. 1) in The Associated Press, “The global death toll from COVID-19 topped 5 million on Monday, less than two years into a crisis that has not only devastated poor countries but also humbled wealthy ones with first-rate health care systems.”
     Again listed as a winner of first, second or third place statewide in the 2021 Florida Press Club’s Annual Excellence In Journalism Contest in the Online Independent News Site, HardisonInk.com awaits the final announcement on placement there.
     “And another thing I am waiting on is the robotic reports final tally,” Hardison said. “These are the numbers at midnight on Nov. 1, 2021, but I have seen other months where the tally increases slightly later in the day. Generally, though, this is fine and dandy in my book.”
     HardisonInk.com continues to provide readers, viewers and listeners with news and human interest stories, photos and videos. Business owners and others see this is the best site for Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties’ daily news every day -- as well as picking up statewide news, national news and international news.
     People know there are no bounds to stop HardisonInk.com from coverage as its intrepid, illustrious and prolific owner goes where it is needed to inform, educate and entertain people.
     This daily news website is the best medium in this market to advertise, which is proved by the traffic numbers as well as the results seen by sponsors.
     This daily news website has the Weather Bug on the Home Page for all current weather and forecasting needs, including radar and Weather Alerts. It has columns for quilt reports, Christian devotionals, Exploring Finances and more.
     HardisonInk.com provides state news on occasion when it is merited. And there have been national and international stories on the seven pages.

CHECK OUT THE ARCHIVES
     The St. Petersburg, Florida native said his wife is a vital part of the reason for such a high success rate for the website.
     "I thank God for bringing Sharon Hardison into my life more than 35 years ago now," Jeff Hardison said. "She does so much for me, that it continues to fill me with awe daily. Sharon is the multiple award-winning graphic artist who creates most of the ads. She is my bookkeeper who provides information to my accountant, too. The archive page is from her work. Go to any of the seven pages and find the ad for the archive page on the bottom right column and click on it.
     "A new window will open," he continued. "Just go to the month you want and scroll down. If you see a link that looks interesting, click on it. CHECK OUT OUR VIDEOS on YouTube.com.”
     There are a couple of different main sites for YouTube.com sites with videos by Jeff M. Hardison. Here are two links – click HERE for one main site and click HERE for the other main site.

ADVERTISEMENT KEEPS IT GOING
     HardisonInk.com is visible for free to anyone who can see pages on the Internet. Therefore, people all over the world – and in the International Space Station – can view it.
     This site is subscription-free entirely because of its sponsors. Not only do advertisers help the people in the world (and astronauts in space) see Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, but those business interests enjoy the most exposure for the least ad dollars spent.
     "We don't use pop-up ads," Hardison said. "Our ads don't move around by the minute. And I promote our advertisers in other places in addition to HardisonInk.com. I have removed the national ads. Those used to be placed by a broker who would pay me to have them on my site. Some of them had automatic videos, which I found unwanted."
     HardisonInk.com is the best daily news website that covers Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties (and beyond).
     HardisonInk.com provides the best return on investment of dollars spent on advertising in the world, because people all over the world see it. As for interests in the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, the same is true because the Tri-County Area is the primary focal point of news coverage. This is Year 11. 

 


 

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