SATURDAY  FEB. 27  7:11 a.m.  Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties

$200,000 awarded
to Alachua Conservation Trust
to protect the Suwannee Watershed

Alachua Conservation Trust awarded money to protect natural resources
This arial view of some farmland in the 16-county area of the Suwannee Watershed shows property that can be involved in the agricultural cost-share programs.

Story and Photo Provided
By Erica Hernandez, Statewide Land Acquisition Specialist
Sent Feb. 22, 2021
Published Feb. 23, 2021 at 8:11 a.m.
Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) has been awarded $200,000 to work with private landowners to enroll in voluntary agricultural cost-share programs.



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CareerSource CLM 2021 State of Workforce Virtual Conference


     These programs will permanently protect land, increase the quality of regional drinking water, and safeguard important aquatic wildlife. Nationally, ACT is one of eleven organizations chosen by the Southeast Aquatics Fund to receive funding. This funding will support a full-time Project Manager; and additional staff capacity to protect land in north Florida’s Lower Suwannee River Basin, a watershed that is a true Florida treasure with over 300 freshwater springs.
     “ACT has been working with rural landowners and agricultural producers in this region to protect their land through conservation easements for decades and we are excited to have additional staff capacity to help enroll landowners in great cost-share opportunities provided by the Farm Bill and protect critical lands in the Suwannee River Basin,” ACT Executive Director Tom Kay said.
     Centered around the Suwannee River, the Lower Suwannee Basin Watershed spans primarily 12 counties including portions of Alachua, Bradford, Baker, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, and Suwannee. This watershed is an important recharge area for the Floridan Aquifer – Florida’s primary drinking water source – and directly impacts the health of the Gulf of Mexico.
     In addition to the basin’s regional importance for water quality, it is also a critical space for wildlife, including threatened or endangered aquatic species such as the oval pigtoe, Suwannee moccasinshell, West Indian manatee, and the Atlantic sturgeon.
     The Southeast Aquatics Fund represents a partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Southern Company.
     “Partnerships like these play a vital role in reaching our conservation goals. Working with landowners on a voluntary basis is the most powerful way we can make meaningful progress saving our water resources and protecting imperiled wildlife in Florida,” said Juan Hernandez, Florida state conservationist for NRCS.
     “Thanks to the increased funding through the Southeast Aquatics Fund, ACT will be able to work with our local NRCS office to provide increased technical assistance and outreach to landowners and help increase voluntary enrollments in agricultural cost-share projects to improve and protect their lands,” ACT Statewide Land Acquisition Specialist Erica Hernandez said. “Helping landowners find solutions to protect their property long term and take advantage of funding to manage their farms and properties in ways that simultaneously benefit our drinking water and wildlife is a win-win situation for landowners and the environment.”
     Any landowner or farmer in the Suwannee Basin interested in protecting their land or enrolling in cost-share programs is asked to call 352-373-1078 or email act.erica@gmail.com.


2021 State of the Workforce
virtual conference set for April 22

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
CareerSource CLM Communications Manager
Published Feb. 22, 2021 at 4:11 p.m.
     OCALA –
Registration is now open for CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion’s 2021 State of Workforce Conference: Recover, Redesign, Rework. The virtual conference is held in partnership with the Ocala Human Resource Management Association and takes place April 22 from 8 a.m. to noon.
     Bringing together businesses, community and public partners, education leaders and HR professionals, the conference identifies ways the region’s businesses may begin to recover from the impacts of the pandemic on the workforce, redesign how the workplace may function moving forward, and rework ways to build the talent pipeline to meet in-demand and emerging needs.
     In addition, the annual Bridging the Gap award will be presented to area businesses that have gone above and beyond to build the regional workforce by closing gaps in skills, training and opportunity.
     Individual tickets are $25 and available at bit.ly/2021SOTW.
     Limited sponsorship opportunities are also available. For information, call 352-840-5771 or 800-746-9950, ext. 2204.
     The first workforce conference took place in 2019 and focused on helping businesses overcome tough and complex challenges in cultivating their talent pipeline. Workforce retention was the vision for the 2020 conference which had to be sidelined due to the pandemic.
     Rusty Skinner, CEO of CareerSource CLM, said that in working with OHRMA, it became clear that the conference should hone in on ways businesses can emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever.
      “In dealing with COVID-19, businesses were forced into a so-called new normal which today, for better or worse, requires companies of every size and every industry sector to rethink ‘business as usual.’” Skinner said. “Our goal with Recover, Redesign, Rework is to help the region meet our most pressing workforce development needs.”
     Donna Healy Strickland, OHRMA board president, added that “It is incredible how we can adapt and make things work (even) as Covid-19 threw us into a new dimension … forcing many to pivot and juggle, becoming parent, teacher and star coworker.
      “As we advance, we do need the tools to handle our current workforce best,” Strickland continued. “I am looking forward to learning everything I can to make our employees better at their job and their home life.”
     Conference speakers feature Matt Havens, nationally renowned generational and leadership expert; Adrienne Johnston, director of Workforce Services for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity; Dr. William Beach, commissioner of Labor Statistics for the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics; and Chad Sorenson, president and founder of Adaptive HR Solutions, president of the HR Florida State Council and two-time past president of the Jacksonville chapter of the Society of Human Resource Management.  
     In addition to an overview of the State of the Workforce in Florida moving into 2021, the conference will cover:
     ● Leveraging technology and new thinking to more efficiently conduct business;
     ● Insight into who is telecommuting and how Working from Home impacts productivity;
     ● How the economic collapse/recovery has affected different industry sectors unevenly and what that portends moving forward in the post-pandemic world;
     ● Recommended training to manage and support teams that continue to work remotely or in hybrid workplace; and
     ● Strategies to deal with emerging employee relations concerns.
     The conference culminates with the Bridging the Gap awards. The inaugural recipients were Capris Furniture, Raney’s Truck Center, R+L Global Logistics and the Marion County Board of County Commissioners Fleet Management Department. They were honored for helping drive the success of the region’s locally-based Commercial Driving Program offered by Marion Technical College.
     Presenting sponsors for the 2021 virtual conference are Benefit Advisors and the Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership.
     As the region’s recognized workforce leader, CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion collaborates with local economic development, education and community partners to develop world-class education/training and employment services to meet regional workforce needs.
     CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion is a member of CareerSource Florida and a proud partner of the American Job Center network. CareerSource CLM is supported by the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and other agencies as part of awards totaling $8.7 million (revised annually). CareerSource CLM is an equal opportunity employer/program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities and in Spanish. All voice telephone numbers listed above may be reached by persons using TTY/TDD equipment via the Florida Relay Service at 711. If you need accommodations, please call 800-434-5627, ext. 7878 or e-mail accommodations@careersourceclm.com.
     The Ocala Human Resource Management Association (OHRMA) is a nonprofit organization of human resource professional from the Marion County community affiliated with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), an international organization of more than 180,000.


Coalition Hosts Chamber Meeting
Dixie County Chamber Dixie County Anti-Drug Coalition
The Dixie County Chamber of Commerce would like to thank the Dixie County Anti-Drug Coalition for providing lunch and a presentation during the February Chamber meeting on Feb. 11.  Held at the Dixie County Public Library Conference Room in Cross City, the program included information about the Rural Community Opioid Response Program (RCORP). Dixie County RCORP Community Project Manager Sheila Frierson, RN, presented information to the Chamber members and guests who were present that afternoon. Seen here are (from left) Sheila Frierson, Jennifer Gregory, Cale McCall, Rebecca Fusco, Debby Sweem and Katrina VanAernam.
Published Feb. 16, 2021 at 1:11 p.m.

Information and Photo Provided By Dixie County Chamber of Commerce President Melanie Anderson


Exploring Finances
Finance Webinar Scheduled For March 4
Published Feb. 15, 2021 at 4:11 p.m.
     NEWBERRY --
Do you want more control over the taxes you pay?
     You'll learn about tax-advantaged investments and their features, three different ways to purchase municipal bonds, and how tax-free investing can help you achieve your goals.
Important Webinar Details
Date and time: Thursday, March 4th at 6:00 PM EST
Meeting number: 133 255 3138
Meeting password: Thursday

     To attend this meeting, please click the following link. If the link does not work, please copy and paste it into your computer's address bar.
Important Audio Information
Dial-in number: 866-528-2256 You must dial in in order to hear the conference.
Access code: 4864537

     Even if you don't have a computer or you lose your internet connection, you can still join us by phone!
     Sheila K Smith, financial advisor with Edward Jones, welcomes all interested individuals to share the registration link with others, and to participate in the webinar.


Tri-County Saw Shop helps
friends of local state parks

Tri-County Saw Shop Manatee Springs State Park  HardisonInk.com
Seen here, moments before loading the new Stihl equipment into a pickup truck for transport to a local state park on Friday morning (Feb. 12), are (from left) Manatee Springs and Fanning Springs Park Manager Mebane Cory-Ogden, Assistant Park Manager Alex Kinder, Gail Loyd of Tri-County Saw Shop, Steven Crews, who owns Tri-County Saw Shop with his wife Sheila Crews, David Kilmartin of Tri-County Saw Shop and Friends of Manatee Springs President Tom Andresen.

Tri-County Saw Shop  HardisonInk.com
This is a closer view from the photo above.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 12, 2021 at 12:11 p.m.
Manatee Springs State Park, Fanning Springs State Park and Nature Coast Trail State Park added equipment Friday morning (Feb. 12) to maintain the grounds, thanks to the Friends of Manatee Springs Inc. and Friends’ business member Tri-County Saw Shop.

Tri-County Saw Shop Manatee Springs State Park  HardisonInk.com
This sign shows Tri-County Saw Shop provides sales, service and hardware. Notice the Big Dog Mowers and other equipment ready to be bought and taken home.

Tri-County Saw Shop Manatee Springs State Park  HardisonInk.com
One part of the many shelves inside the Tri-County Saw Shop show some of the new items recently put up for purchase. The big outdoor thermometers (top of photo) are easily seen when looking through a window. Garden hoses, bird food and many other items are in this one picture.

Tri-County Saw Shop Manatee Springs State Park  HardisonInk.com
A couple of the wheelbarrows available for purchase are seen next to a rocking chair that is not for purchase, but the rocking chair can be enjoyed by customers on the front porch of the store as the customers watch traffic go by on U.S. Highway 19.

     Located at 7551 N.W. 150th St., south of the City of Fanning Springs, Tri-County Saw Shop has saws, mowers and a great assortment of hardware. It is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. It is on the east side of U.S. Highway 19 with access from Northwest 150th Street.
     The Friends Group (Friends of Manatee Springs Inc.) was established in 2002. The volunteers in this organization help support Manatee Springs State Park, Fanning Springs State Park and the Nature Coast Trail State Park by raising funds to purchase maintenance equipment and by meeting other park needs.
     The Friends Group also support community awareness about the springs and trail.
     Tri-County Saw Shop is an authorized local Stihl dealer, as well as being an authorized local Big Dog Mower dealer, as well
     The new leaf blower, tree trimmer (saw on a pole), string trimmer (weed whacker) and woodcutter chaps are all Stihl brand.
     The chaps are safety gear used when operating a power saw. Tri-County Saw Shop upgraded the leaf blower and donated the chaps as a donation that is worth just over $200, which was part of the total purchase.
     “We are extremely thankful to have such great business partners in our community that are able to help the Friends achieve our goals of supporting, beautifying our local parks and providing the means and equipment for maintaining them,” Friends President Tom Andresen noted in an email.


CF to host logistics and
supply chain management
career chat virtual event Feb. 17

By CF Marketing, Public and Community Relations
Published Feb. 2, 2021 at 10:11 a.m.
     OCALA --
The College of Central Florida’s Business and Technology Department is scheduled to host a free event about careers in logistics and supply chain management on Wednesday, Feb. 17, from 12:15-1:30 p.m., online.
     Participants will hear how they can start training for a career in logistics and supply chain management and about skills employers seek in today’s job market. This session will be hosted by Mark Davis, program manager for Logistics and Supply Chain Management at CF.
     Register now at CF.edu/BusTechEvents.
     The first 10 to register and attend will receive a small gift. One event participant will also be selected to receive a grand prize. For more information, contact Bonnie Hays at haysb@CF.edu.
     This event is presented by CAMPUS USA Credit Union and sponsored by the CF Foundation, the Talent Center and CF Alumni Association.


FGC student named FCSAA Brain Bowl Student of the Month
FGX student Ben Smith honored



Benjamin Jacob Esau Smith


Story and Photo Provided
By Stephen Culotti
FGC Public Information Specialist
Published Feb. 11, 2021 at 3:11 p.m.
     LAKE CITY –
Florida Gateway College student Benjamin Jacob Esau Smith has been named the Brain Bowl Student of the Month for January 2021 by the Florida College System Activities Association (FCSAA).
     James Givvines, FGC professor and Brain Bowl State Advisor, nominated Benjamin for the award.
      “Ben is highly enthusiastic and really helps to push and encourage the other players in practice,” Givvines said. “He is the first one to the Zoom meetings for practice, often making it before the coach. I am honored to nominate Benjamin for this award.”
     In January, the FGC Brain Bowl Team competed in the Santa Fe Open and the National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT) Community College Sectionals. Smith led the team in points scored at both tournaments, earning 30 and 35 points, respectively.
     At the Florida Gateway Open on Feb. 5-6, Smith was again FGC’s highest scorer. Smith is a dual enrollment student from Baker County, maintains a 4.0 GPA, and will be graduating from high school this spring.
     He is active in multiple clubs and honor societies including: Phi Theta Kappa, the Honor Society for two-year colleges; Mu Alpha Theta, a high school Math Honor Society; and his high school Beta Club. After graduation, he plans to transfer to the University of North Florida in Fall 2021 and hopes to major in History and Political Science.
     According to Givvines, Smith and his teammate Michael Loc Turner “have formed the nucleus of the team for the 2020-2021 season,” leading the team’s newer players in three tournaments in the fall and three more so far this spring, with at least two more to come.
     FGC’s finish in the top 16 at the NAQT Sectionals has earned them an invitation to the Community College National Championship on Feb. 27. This will be the team’s next tournament, followed by the FCSAA State Championship on March 26-27.


Daily news website
becomes more mobile friendly

By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 10, 2021 at 10:11 p.m.
The 11-year-old daily news website named HardisonInk.com recently more friendly for people to view on cell phones and other mobile devices.
     During the past few days, the transition and some tweaking has made it so that cell phone users and tablet users will have easier access to HardisonInk.com.
     As she conducted a project to complete requirements for a Bachelor of Science degree from Santa Fe College, Katie Trimm looked at the daily news website to find methods to increase traffic. Her research showed Trimm that if the site was easier to read on cell phones, there was a likelihood of traffic increasing.
     Gary W. Boulware, Ph.D., chair of the SFC Business Programs Department, sent a letter of thanks to website owner Jeff M. Hardison for being a local business sponsor who participated in the SFC Senior Capstone Project during the Fall 2020 Semester.
     “Really, I am thankful to Santa Fe College for letting me use one of the students to conduct research to improve the site,” Hardison said.
      People who view the website on their computers may have noticed some changes during the past few days.
     Nature Coast Web Design and Marketing performed the work to make the site more mobile friendly.


Hiring events set for
World Equestrian Center,
Marion County Public Schools and more

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Feb. 16, 2021 at 1:11 p.m.
     OCALA, Fla. (Feb. 8, 2021) –
There will be plenty to love during Valentine’s week for anyone looking for new career opportunities.
     CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion will hold four hiring events for a variety of area businesses, including the World Equestrian Center and Marion County Public Schools.
     Application requirements vary, though registration is required via Employ Florida. For additional information, interested candidates should visit the calendar at careeresourceclm.com and search using the “Hiring Events” filter or call the number listed with each hiring event below.
     Marion County Public Schools Wednesday, Feb. 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at CareerSource CLM’s career center, 2703 NE 14th St., in Ocala. MCPS is recruiting school bus drivers. This hiring event is by appointment only; to schedule an appointment, call 352-840-5757. For more information about the event, call 800-434-JOBS (5627), ext. 1272.
     Family Life Care Thursday, February 18 from 1-3 p.m. at CareerSource CLM’s Citrus County career center, 683 S. Adolph Point in Lecanto. Family Life Care is hiring CNAs, personal care aides and Registered Nurses for locations in Citrus and Marion counties. It provides in-home health care and support services for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being for all ages and abilities. Filling full- and part-time positions. For more information, call 800-434-JOBS (5627), ext. 1273.
     Candidates are urged to dress appropriately and bring copies of their resume, in addition to registering with Employ Florida. For assistance, call 800-434-JOBS (5627).
     CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion is the local, business-led nonprofit that provides fee-free services connecting businesses with qualified, skilled talent and candidates with employment and career opportunities.


Duke Energy names
Melissa Seixas
as Florida state president

Due Energy Florida St. Petersburg Florida



Melissa Seixas


Story and Photo Provided
By Duke Energy News Center
Published Feb. 4, 2021 at 5:11 p.m.
Duke Energy today (Thursday, Feb. 4) said it will elevate Melissa Seixas to serve as president of Duke Energy Florida, effective Feb. 16.
     Currently vice president government and community relations for Duke Energy Florida, Seixas will succeed Catherine Stempien, who is leaving at the end of February for a position outside of the company.
     Seixas, 55, will lead the company’s work with customers, employees, policymakers and others to advance the clean energy vision for the state, expand electrification efforts, and focus on strategic philanthropic initiatives and community relations. She will have responsibility for managing state and local regulatory and government relations across the Sunshine State.
     “Melissa’s many years of experience with the company have prepared her well for this important role," said Doug Esamann, executive vice president energy solutions, president Midwest and Florida Regions and natural gas business unit. “She is well-known throughout our Florida communities and will build on the great progress the team has already accomplished. She will continue to advocate for policies and practices that meet the energy needs of our customers to ensure we deliver the safe and reliable service they expect and deserve.”
     In her role as vice president government and community relations, Seixas directed Duke Energy Florida’s efforts to strengthen relationships with local municipal, community and civic organizations, as well as business leaders throughout the company’s 35-county service area. Her team worked closely with leaders to help communities achieve their energy, growth and sustainability goals.
     In 1986, Seixas joined Florida Power (which later became Progress Energy and then Duke Energy) in distribution engineering. Over her 34-year career with the company, she has served in numerous roles with increasing leadership responsibilities.
     Seixas earned a bachelor’s degree in American history from Eckerd College and a master’s degree in American history from the University of South Florida. Her executive training includes a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) certification from Johns Hopkins University, and programs with the Edison Electric Institute and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
     Seixas has a strong tradition of supporting her community. She has served on numerous boards for nonprofit and business organizations including the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and the Pinellas County Urban League, and she served as immediate past chair of the board of directors for the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership. She also has a long history of service to the University of South Florida and was honored as the 2019 recipient of the USFSP Regional Chancellor Award for Civic Leadership. She currently serves as a member of the USF St. Petersburg Campus Advisory Board and was recently appointed to the board of trustees for the University of South Florida.
     "We’re excited to have Melissa as the new state president as our company continues its clean energy transformation journey, and we deeply appreciate Catherine’s leadership and contributions to our company. We wish her all the best,” Esamann said.


62-acre development
action initiated north of Inglis

Levy County Florida
This stock photo shows the front of the Levy County Annex. Years ago, it was Bronson High School’s administration building and auditorium.

Story and Photo
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 3, 2021 at 10:11 p.m.
Among the many actions performed by the five-member Levy County Board of County Commissioners Tuesday morning (Feb. 2) was consideration of transmittal to the state for consideration of a large-scale land-use amendment to the Future Land Use Map from Forestry/Rural Residential (one dwelling unit per 20 acres) to Agricultural/Rural Residential (one dwelling unit per 10 acres) on vacant land.
     Hearing the request for a 100 percent increase in residential density were County Commission Chairman John Meeks, County Commission Vice Chairman Mike Joyner and commissioners Lilly Rooks, Rock Meeks and Matt Brooks.
     The original staff report about this matter was on Dec. 4, 2020.
     There were Levy County Planning Commission hearings on Dec. 7, 2020, and most recently on Jan. 4.
     The county staff recommends the County Commissioners hear the proposed large scale land-use amendment and make a recommendation to transmit to the state.
     Presenting the information from the county staff to the County Commission was Planning Director Stacey Hectus.
     The proposed development is about five miles north of Inglis adjacent to U.S. Highway 19.
     The applicant/agent for the project is William R. Spell III of Crystal River, and the owners of the property are R & R Land Holdings LLC.
     Spell spoke to the County Commission about the request to change the Future Land Use Map.
      He said the proposal allows for more residential development.
     During the public hearing part of the meeting, no one spoke.
     On a Rock Meeks’ and Brooks’ motion and second, the County Commission voted 5-0 to transmit the request to the state for its review and possible approval.

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