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Duke Energy Florida proposes
new program providing
solar access to customers
while lowering bills over time;

Residential and small business
customers can go 100 percent solar

Duke Energy Florida Silar Power
Story and Photo By
By Duke Energy News
Published July 2, 2020 at 8:10 a.m.
Duke Energy Florida (DEF) yesterday (Wednesday, July 1) filed a proposed new Clean Energy Connection (CEC) Program with the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC).


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     The announcement is the latest advancement in Duke Energy’s commitment to solar energy.
     If approved by the PSC, the program will provide Duke Energy Florida customers with about 750 megawatts (MW) of new, cost-effective solar power – offering more options for qualified residential, business and local government customers to share in a slice of the company’s solar energy production on a voluntary basis.
     Duke Energy plans to invest an estimated $1 billion in its new solar power plants across Florida in the next three years. The first plants will go online in 2022 and more will follow through 2024.
      “The Clean Energy Connection Program is delivering on what our customers want – affordable clean energy options. It will be a measurable way for customers to share in reducing carbon emissions,” said Catherine Stempien, Duke Energy Florida state president. “We know that larger-scale solar is the most cost-effective way to get the benefits of solar on our entire system and this program gives customers, especially those who may not have the ability to install solar at home, a compelling alternative to rooftop panels.”
     The program directly supports the development and construction of new cost-effective, utility-owned, solar power plants interconnected to the Florida power grid.
      “We appreciate Duke Energy’s development of the CEC program, which is another step in the right direction. Our initial subscription represents our commitment to work with DEF and others in the state for more ambitious renewable energy goals and a just transition to clean energy,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.

How the program works
     Customers can subscribe to kilowatt blocks of solar power from the company’s Clean Energy Connection solar portfolio. The monthly subscription fee will help pay for the cost of construction and operation of the solar power plants and is conveniently added to a customer’s regular electric bill.
     Participating customers can subscribe to blocks of solar generation equivalent to 1 kilowatt (kW) of solar power per block and receive bill credits based on their subscription size and the solar energy that is produced by the Clean Energy Connection solar facilities each month.
     The monthly subscription fee is fixed at $8.35 per kW. A customer with average usage of 1,000 kWh/month would need to subscribe to approximately 5 kW to cover their full usage. Subscribers receive bill credits based on their subscription size and the solar energy that is produced by the Clean Energy Connection solar facilities each month.
     The bill credit rate for the first 36 months of the program participation will be 4 cents per kWh (kilowatt-hour), then the bill credit rate increases by 1.5 percent every year. The bill credit amount varies each month with the actual solar energy produced, where it may be greater during the months with more direct sunlight.
     For a residential customer subscribing to a 5-kW block, the month-to-month impact will vary, but the net annual impact in year one is estimated to be a charge of about $6. Starting in year five, the annual bill credit is estimated to exceed the subscription fee. By year seven, customer credits are expected to exceed the charges paid to date for the program.
     The program sets aside 26 MW for low-income customers who participate in government subsidy programs or Duke Energy Florida’s low-income energy efficiency program.
     With program enrollment, low-income customers will see guaranteed savings on their bill every month. These customers will pay an $8.35 monthly per kW subscription fee and receive a $9.03 monthly per kW bill credit, producing a savings of 68 cents for every kW subscribed. In this case, a low-income customer subscribing to a 3-kW block will save $2.04 every month, or $24.48 annually.
     The Clean Energy Connection Program is designed to utilize low-cost universal DEF solar facilities while delivering solar energy efficiently to and for the benefit of all of our customers. It is also designed to provide participating customers with a seven-year full payback, with bill credits first exceeding subscription fees around three to five years. As long as the customer remains in the program for seven years, the annual bill credits are projected to be more than the subscription costs, creating real customer bill savings.
      “Duke Energy’s Clean Energy Connection Program aligns well with Mosaic’s commitments to environmental sustainability. We applaud Duke Energy for this innovative approach to expanding the use of renewable energy sources,” said Mosaic Senior Vice President, Government and Public Affairs Ben Pratt.
     Customers can request to offset 100 percent of their power usage with solar by subscribing to enough blocks of solar power to match the customer’s annual energy usage.
     If approved by the PSC, the program will open to residential and small businesses for enrollment in 2021 with the program beginning to generate power at the beginning of 2022.
     Customers who are interested in participating in the program can learn more through the Clean Energy Connection website.
     Duke Energy Florida remains a leader in advancing clean energy in the state. It has installed more than 1 million solar panels in Florida and the Clean Energy Connection Program will support this continued success.
     DEF currently has more than 500 MW of solar generation under construction or in operation as the company continues to construct or acquire a total of 700 MW of solar power facilities in Florida from 2018 through 2022.

Duke Energy Florida
     Duke Energy Florida, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, owns a diverse generation mix of natural gas, coal and renewables, providing about 10,200 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.8 million customers in a 13,000-square-mile service area.
     Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 30,000 people and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated utilities, and 3,000 megawatts through its nonregulated Duke Energy Renewables unit.
     Duke Energy is transforming its customers’ experience, modernizing the energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves. The Electric Utilities and Infrastructure unit’s regulated utilities serve approximately 7.7 million retail electric customers in six states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The Gas Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to more than 1.6 million customers in five states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The Duke Energy Renewables unit operates wind and solar generation facilities across the U.S., as well as energy storage and microgrid projects.
     Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2020 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list, and Forbes’ 2019 “America’s Best Employers” list. More information about the company is available at The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues.

11,492 Unique Visitors
go to daily news website in June

‘Here’s To 10 Years!’ theme thrives


Website Traffic Jan-June 2020

Graphic By cPanel

By Jeff M. Hardison © July 1, 2020 at 2:10 p.m.

All Rights Reserved
     THE WORLD –
 The daily news website named continues in its 10th year of existence with figures from June 1 through June 30 at par with high website traffic established in the past several years, according to two independent third-party robotic measuring devices -- Google Analytics and cPanel.
    Jeff M. Hardison, owner, publisher and sole proprietor doing business as shared his perspective on some matters with his tenth year as the owner of this business.
     “As for the daily news website,” he said, “there were more than 11,000 unique visitors who went to it in June. We experienced in excess of one million hits, again, in the month of June.”
     Hardison said he is thankful to God first, and then he is thankful for the continued reading and viewing of stories, photos and videos, which shows a strong base of people as the daily news website moves forward through its tenth year of existence.
     The tenth year of began Feb. 1, 2020.
     The business owner said he extremely appreciates other business owners and interests who continue to buy ads to sponsor
     The numbers for June of 2020 are shown in the graphic at the top of this story.
     The first gauge reflects Unique Visitors. 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 continue looking forward to every second in 2020,” Hardison said. “As never breaks stride in its tenth year of existence, the theme in this 12-month span is “Here’s To 10 Years.”
    The June total of unique visitors 11,492.
     “I remember one month during the first year,” Hardison said, “when I thought 800 was a lot of unique visitors to be touching the website in a month. With the June monthly amount 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. We have not increased the cost for advertisers who sponsor the daily news website – other than the short-term advertisers. As for the national ads at the bottom of the pages, that price is through my broker for those ads.”
     Another measure of traffic is the number of visits.
     In June, the number was 30,883 visits.
     Pages Viewed shows how many 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 monthly total pages viewed in June was 72,373. There are ads on each page, and the readers see those ads.
     The June total of hits were about 1.3 million (1,268,266).
     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 June equal 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 and growth each year.
     “These figures herald the fact that many people each day use as a source for information,” Hardison said. “And they return daily.” 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 for where coverage will go as it informs, educates and entertains people.
     This 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 and more. provides state news on the BUSINESS PAGE and other pages on occasion when it is merited. And there have been national and international stories on other pages, including the HOME PAGE and POLICE PAGE.
     The 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," 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. The newest addition is a direct link to all of the videos that have been published. CHECK OUT OUR VIDEOS on If you see any video you want to watch, click on it.”
     There are a couple of different main sites for sites with videos by Jeff M. Hardison. Here are two links – click HERE for that main site and click HERE for the other main site.
ADVERTISEMENT KEEPS IT GOING 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 put up winky-blinky ads or pop-ups in our local ads," Hardison said. "Our local ads don't move around by the minute. And I promote our local advertisers in other places in addition to" is the best daily news website that covers Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties (and beyond). 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.
Here’s To 10 Years!
     “The big prize for the November contest is going to be a $100 gift card to BubbaQue’s,” Hardison said. “The very next contest and prize is giving away $50 in its Summer Fun Contest.”
     The Summer Fun Contest wrapped up with a drawing from those qualifying participants on June 18, and the award of $50 cash was presented.
     “So,” Hardison said, “Here’s To 10 Years! And, I hope everyone enjoyed participating in the Summer Fun Contest! Sharon and I are discussing a Fall Fun Contest before the November contest.”


Work To Achieve
Your Financial Independence

Published June 29, 2020 at 3:10 p.m.
-- Over the past few months, just about everyone has felt the loss of some type of freedom, whether it’s being able to travel, engage in social gatherings or participate in other activities we previously took for granted.
     Still, as we prepare to observe Independence Day, it’s comforting to realize all the freedoms we still have in this country. And taking the right steps can also help you achieve your financial independence.
     Here are some moves to consider:
     • Build an emergency fund. It’s a good idea to create an emergency fund consisting of three to six months’ worth of living expenses, with the money held in a liquid, low-risk account. With this fund in place, you can avoid dipping into your long-term investments to pay for short-term, unexpected costs.
     • Keep your debts under control. It’s not easy to do, but if you can consistently minimize your debt load, you can have more money to invest for the future and move closer toward achieving your financial liberty. One way to keep your debts down is to establish a budget and stick to it, so you can avoid unnecessary spending. 
     • Contribute as much as possible to your retirement plans. The more money you can save for retirement, the greater your feelings of financial independence. So, it’s essential that you contribute as much as you can to your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. At a minimum, put in enough to earn your employer’s match, if one is offered, and every time your salary goes up, boost your annual contributions. Even if you participate in a 401(k), you’re probably also still eligible to contribute to an IRA, which can help you build even more funds for retirement. And because you can fund an IRA with virtually any type of investment, you can broaden your portfolio mix.   
     • Explore long-term care coverage. One day, your financial independence could be threatened by your need for some type of long-term care. It now costs, on average, over $100,000 for a private room in a nursing home and more than $50,000 for the services of a home health aide, according to Genworth, an insurance company. Most of these costs won’t be covered by Medicare, either, so, if you want to reduce the risk of seriously depleting all your financial resources – or burdening your adult children with these heavy expenses – you may want to consider some type of long-term care insurance. You could choose a traditional long-term care policy – which can cover a nursing home stay, home health care, or other services – or a hybrid policy, which provides long-term care coverage plus a death benefit.
     • Manage withdrawals carefully. Once you retire, your financial freedom will depend a great deal on how skillful you are in managing the money in your retirement accounts. Specifically, you need to be careful about how much you withdraw from these accounts each year. If you set a withdrawal rate that’s too high in your early years of retirement, you might eventually risk outliving your resources. So, set a withdrawal rate that reflects your age, assets, retirement lifestyle and other factors. You may want to consult with a financial professional to establish an appropriate rate.
     As you can see, working toward your financial independence is a lifelong activity – but it’s worth the effort.
   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. Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors are not estate planners and cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your estate-planning attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.


New CEO and CFO listed
for CareerSource N. Central Fla.

By Dhanya Nair, Executive Assistant
CareerSource North Central Florida
Published June 24, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.
Scott Lippmann, former city manager of Williston, has been named the new Chief Executive Officer for CareerSource North Central Florida.
     Laura Guy-Rice has been appointed to serve as the Chief Financial Officer.
     Lippmann began serving on June 8, and Guy-Rice will start on July 6.
     The appointments are part of restructuring of the Region 9 Local Workforce Development Board approved last month by the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners and the Bradford County Board of County Commissioners.
     The boards created three separate entities to oversee workforce development in the two-county region: CareerSource North Central Florida, the Dual County Workforce Development Council and the North Central Florida Workforce Development Board.
     "CareerSource North Central Florida has come through adversity to achieve a fresh structure for the future of the Alachua and Bradford County workforce,” Board Chair Dr. Jeffrey Tate said. “We look forward to the leadership of these experienced executives as our local workforce development board opens a new Job Center location and gears up to address the current challenges facing our workers."
     The Dual County Workforce Development Council is the governing body for the workforce region and is made up of three Alachua County commissioners and one Bradford County commissioner.
     CareerSource North Central Florida (CSNCFL) is the administrative entity, which reports directly to the Council while providing staffing and support for the Council and Board. It is one of 24 regions in the CareerSource Florida network.
     The North Central Florida Workforce Development Board is the strategic planning and policy development entity for the workforce region of Alachua and Bradford counties.
     CareerSource North Central Florida is a local, business-led nonprofit entity that provides administrative services and opportunities to both employers and job seekers.
     It is Business driven and talent focused. The customer is the business sector, and the talent in the community is its resource.
     For more information, please visit


Congressman Dunn shows
Secretary of Interior around
Fla. 2nd Congressional Dist.

Neal Dunn

Neal Dunn
Story and Photos Provided
By Leah Courtney
Of Congressman Dunn’s Office
Published June 20, 2020 at 2:10 p.m.
This week, United States Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt spent two days touring Florida’s Second Congressional District with Congressman Neal Dunn, M.D. (Florida- Dist. 2).
     The Secretary’s trip consisted of examining environmental restoration and reviewing Hurricane Michael recovery methods.
     Secretary Bernhardt kicked off the tour at Half Hitch Tackle in Panama City Beach. Tom Putnam, the store owner, graciously showed the Secretary and Congressman Dunn around the store while discussing impacts on commercial and recreational fishing industries. While COVID-19 has created further devastation to these industries, Half Hitch has expanded their business since landfall of Hurricane Michael, stating this is a sign that people are once again returning to the area for tourism and fishing.
      “The visit to Half Hitch Tackle highlights what I love most about Florida’s Second Congressional District – our resiliency,” said Congressman Dunn. “It was important to me that Secretary Bernhardt get a firsthand look into our recovery process and how our economy has been heavily impacted by both Hurricane Michael and the pandemic.”
     The tour continued onto Gulf County, where local elected officials met with Secretary Bernhardt and Congressman Dunn to tour the beautiful Cape San Blas to discuss long sought-after changes to the Coastal Barrier Resources Act system, as well as other projects to expand economic opportunities in the region.
     Throughout multiple stops, U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff who serve throughout North Florida presented specific data on the preservation efforts specifically to restore the unique ecosystem in the Panhandle both on shore and inland. On Thursday, Secretary Bernhardt and Congressman Dunn got a hands-on experience while assisting with a prescribed burn at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge Otter Lake Recreation Area.
      “Prescribed burns have become almost second nature to Florida, especially in our district. What many do not realize is that prescribed controlled burns are essential to responsibly maintaining our forests and ecosystems for several species. Additionally, this practice ultimately saves money. Secretary Bernhardt was very knowledgeable on the subject and commended St. Marks, the nation’s preeminent prescribed burn training center, for pioneering the use of fires as a routine treatment mechanism,” said Congressman Dunn.
     Congressman Dunn continued, “I’m grateful to Secretary Bernhardt for taking the time to visit our district and for being so receptive to what my constituents had to say about the recovery process and how the Department of Interior can help. This was an outstanding week, and I firmly believe good things will come from what we’ve seen.”


May’s jobless rate
dips to 12.2 percent;

Gains made over the month
By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published June 19, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.
     OCALA –
The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 12.2 percent in May, down 0.7 percentage point over the month, 8.2 percentage point higher than the region’s rate a year ago, and 2.1 percentage point lower than the state rate of 14.3 percent.
     There were 23,643 unemployed in the region, 250 fewer than in April and 15,653 more than May 2019 when the jobless rate was 4.0 percent.
     The region’s labor force was 194,388, an increase of 4,781 since April and a loss of 7,049 over the year. There were 170,745 employed, representing a one-month increase of 5,036 and a drop of 22,702 compared to May 2019.
     Nonfarm employment in the Ocala/Marion County metropolitan statistical area was 102,600, an increase of 2,200 jobs over the month and a 3.8 percent decrease of 4,100 jobs over the year. Mining, logging and construction continued to be the only industry sector in the Ocala MSA that gained jobs over the year. At 6.0 percent, adding 500 jobs, it also grew faster in the metro area than statewide.
     While the trade, transportation and utilities sector lost a net 300 jobs over the year due to a 4.8 percent drop of 800 jobs in retail trade, wholesale trade grew by 200 jobs for a 4.9 percent job growth rate and transportation, warehousing and utilities added 300 jobs for a growth rate of 8.1 percent.
     According to the preliminary jobs report for May, released today by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Levy County had the lowest jobless rate in the region at 9.9 percent, down 0.7 percentage point over the month; Marion County followed at 11.7 percent, a 0.3 percentage point drop; and Citrus County’s rate was 13.3 percent, down 0.6 percent point from April. Florida’s not seasonally adjusted jobless rate – a measure that matches the way local rates are calculated – was 14.3 percent, up one percent over the month and an increase of 11.3 percent compared to May 2019. The nation’s jobless rate was 13.0 percent, down from 14.4 percent in April and up 10.3 percent over the year.
     Kathleen Woodring, executive vice president for CareerSource CLM, said that “it is heartening to see the gains made over the month, with expansion of the labor force driven by job growth that outpaced increases in unemployment. We may still be a long way from where we were a year ago, but I don’t think anyone reasonably expected our region to rebound immediately and completely. Still, this report confirms we are heading in the right direction.”
     Statewide, 32 counties including Citrus, Levy and Marion saw drops in unemployment, four were unchanged and 31 experienced increases, topped by Osceola County at 31.1 percent.
     Woodring said that CareerSource CLM continues to provide fee-free virtual assistance to businesses and job seekers and also offers limited in-person services by appointment only at the region’s career centers.
      “We are doing what we can to meet our region’s needs while ensuring customers and staff remain safe,” Woodring said, adding as example that CareerSource CLM has partnered with K-Country, Wind-FM and TV20 to host a virtual job fair via Zoom on June 24. In addition, there are currently 127 businesses from Amazon to Winco listed on
      “Other initiatives in full force right now include a Dislocated Worker Grant program that matches those laid off due to COVID-19 with jobs at area nonprofits helping those affected by the pandemic,” Woodring said. “We’re also working with Lockheed Martin on their new apprenticeship program, we continue to host hiring events for local businesses, we’ve also started back up with our Phoenix Rising YouthBuild programs in Marion and Citrus counties and, even though we don’t administer the state’s Reemployment Assistance program, we do work with those who’ve had difficulties with their claims.”
     Here’s a breakdown of each county’s jobs numbers for May:
     Citrus County’s labor force grew by 912 over the month to 46,352, the number of employed increased by 1,029 to 39,714 and the number of unemployed dropped by 117 to 6,643. Compared to May 2019, when the jobless rate was 4.7 percent, the labor force has contracted by 1,088, the number of employed has dropped by 5,490 and the number of unemployed increased by 4,402.
     Levy County’s labor force expanded by 224 to 15,385, the number of those with jobs rose by 299 to 13,859 and the number of unemployed fell by 75 to 1,529. That’s an over-the-year drop of 1,338 in the labor force, 2,251 fewer working and 913 more unemployed compared to when the rate was 3.7 percent.
     Marion County’s labor force increased by 3,645 to 132,646, the number of those with jobs increased by 3,708 to 117,172 and the number of unemployed dropped by 63 to 15,474. That’s 4,673 fewer than the size of the labor force a year ago, a drop of 14,961 in the number of those with jobs and an increase of 10,338 in the number of unemployed compared to May 2019 when the jobless rate was 3.7 percent.
     In May, Citrus County dropped from holding the fourth highest unemployment rate in the state to the 11th highest among all 67 counties; Marion County was 27th highest tied with Duval County; and Levy County dropped from 36th to 40th highest.
     Among the metro areas, the Homosassa Springs/Citrus County MSA slipped from the second highest rate to the fifth and the Ocala MSA held the 16th highest rate. The Villages, which includes a portion of Marion County, had the state’s 14th highest jobless rate among metros.
     Other than mining, logging and construction, no industry sectors grew in the Ocala MSA. Those losing jobs over the year were  education and health services (-900 jobs); other services (-900 jobs); professional and business services (-800 jobs); leisure and hospitality (-700 jobs); manufacturing (-500 jobs); trade, transportation, and utilities (-300 jobs); information (-200 jobs); financial activities (-200 jobs); and government (-100 jobs).
     In May, nonfarm employment in the Homosassa Springs MSA was 31,800, an increase of 1,500 jobs over the month and a decrease of 1,700 jobs (-5.1 percent) over the year.
     The region’s preliminary employment summary for June is scheduled to be released on July 17.
     CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion is a member of CareerSource Florida and a proud partner of the American Job Center network.

Some offices
announce reopening

By Jeff M. Hardison © June 18, 2020 at 8:10 p.m.
At least three offices are announcing pending re-openings for people to visit the offices despite Thursday (June 18) showing Florida with an increase of more than 3,200 new positive COVID-19 cases in the biggest 24-hour spike of this pandemic.
     Following is information released to help people consider certain options available to them.

UF/IFAS Levy Extension
A UF/IFAS Levy County Extension Office visitor takes a health self-check before entering.
Photo Provided By Levy County Extension

     All of these interests have continued to serve the public, but now there is an option to visit in person. Please remember to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
     Barbara L. Edmonds of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Levy County Extension Office noted “the personal health and safety of everyone in the UF/IFAS Extension community is of highest concern.”
     The UF/IFAS Extension Levy County office is open with limited public access under Levy County Board of County Commission guidance, in partnership with guidelines from the University of Florida, Edmonds said in a press release on Thursday (June 18).
     Levy Extension faculty and staff have implemented practices to reduce potential for COVID-19 exposure, allowing clients to return with confidence.
     Safety guidelines include a self-check questionnaire posted at the main entrance. Before entering, perform a brief self-check regarding possible exposure. Please maintain a minimum of 6-foot distance when meeting anyone. Hand sanitizer is available if needed. A guest counter is conveniently located inside the lobby. High touch areas are disinfected after each guest leaves. Telephone and email consultations are also available when appropriate, Edmonds said.
     For more information, please contact the office at or 352-486-5131.
All extension and services are open to all without regard to race, color, age, sex, religion, national origin or handicap.
     Among the 100-plus churches in the Tri-County Area, First United Methodist Church of Chiefland is opening its office on Monday (June 22)
     First UMC Chiefland office hours of operation are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Administrative Assistant Aimee Fike noted.
     People who want to visit with Edward Jones Financial Advisor Sheila Smith will be able to go to that office after this coming Monday (June 22), too.
     “We've been through a lot these past few months, and we hope you and your family are doing well,” Smith noted. “We want to touch base to provide an update on the status of our office.”
     While Smith continues to offer virtual appointments, she is excited to announce that as of Monday, June 22, that Newberry office will reopen for scheduled appointments.
     “We care about you and want to ensure a positive experience for all clients, so we will put special measures in place. When you arrive, please notify us.”
     She added there are some changes that visitors may notice.
     “Please do not visit if you feel unwell or have felt unwell in the past two weeks,” Smith noted.
     Here are some other points for visitors to know.
     ● We will practice physical distancing, and you will notice new furniture, lobby arrangements and office set-ups for signing paperwork and conducting appointments.
     ● We will provide hand sanitizer and ask you to use it as you enter and leave the office.
     ● We will reserve 30 minutes between appointments to clean the office.
     “We understand this is a new way of working together, and we want you to know we put your health and well-being first,” Smith noted. “We are committed to you and look forward to seeing you and continuing to serve you in the way that makes the most sense for you and your family. Thank you for your support. I look forward to our next conversation.”

Winner selected in
Summer Fun Contest;

Here's To 10 Years!

Published June 18, 2020 at 10:10 a.m.

In this top video filmed by Sharon Hardison, Goldy the senior mascot of shows the most interest in being the cat to select the winner. After 90 or so seconds on Thursday morning (June 18), Jeff Hardison calls 'Cut!' and the filming session ends.

In this second try on Thursday morning (June 18), in the video filmed by Sharon Hardison, Inky the junior mascot of chooses the winner of $50 in the Summer Fun Contest. The winner is Cathy Latner.

Videos by Sharon Hardison © June 18, 2020 at 10:10 a.m.
All Rights Reserved

Summer Fun Winners
In this graphic, all of the ads where a Sunshine Logo were placed are seen with the date and page where they ran. They are -- June 10, Taste of Dixie Diner – Home Page; June 11, Big Chief Storage- Business Page; June 12, Cash Munny - Community Page; June 13,
The Hemp Station - Leisure Page; June 14, Visit Levy - Calendar Page; June 15, Palms Medical - Life Page; June 16 Stone Petroleum - Life Page; and June 17, Bronson Lube - Police Page. This was one of the contests to celebrate continuing in its tenth year – where the theme is ‘Here’s To 10 Years!’

Graphic by Sharon Hardison © June 18, 2020 at 10:10 a.m.
All Rights Reserved


Suspicious-looking letter
from Jimmy Patronis is real

By Jeff M. Hardison © June 15, 2020 at 2:10 p.m.
If it looks suspicious and seems like a con-job, it usually is just that – a scheme to defraud.
     However, an undated, unsigned letter from the Florida Department of Financial Services is real, according to a DFS customer service representative on Monday (June 15).
     The letter is on cheap stock paper and has a low-quality about it, as if it had been published on an old copy machine.
     A black and white “Great Seal of the State of Florida” logo is at the top of the correspondence. Below the logo are the words “Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, State of Florida.”
     It appears to be a form letter addressed to a company. There is no name of the owner listed, and it uses the company’s mailing address. It is marked “Re: Vendor Ownership Survey.” It arrives in a USPS mailbox in an envelope showing a return address of Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.
     The letterhead does not have a telephone number or an email address other than the one it uses for its survey.
     Following is the text of the first paragraph of this actual letter from the office of the chief financial officer of Florida.
     “Thank you for your continued partnership with the State of Florida, United States of America. The Department of Financial Services (DFS) is attempting to identify state vendors who are owned or controlled by the Communist Party of China. DFS is charged with processing payments on behalf of the State of Florida to its vendors. In furtherance of these duties, the Department is conducting a survey of vendor ownership to determine the extent to which vendors doing business with the state are owned or controlled by United States interests.”
     There is no mention of other countries such as Russia and North Korea, which does beg some questions by some vendors.
     The second, third and fourth paragraphs follow, and are equally interesting.
     “Accordingly, if you are a vendor that is domiciled in the United States and controlled directly or indirectly at all levels (Meaning at least fifty percent (50.00%) ownership or more) by United States citizens and entities (“U.S. Interests”), you are hereby requested to respond within 30 days by verifying your status as a company owned and controlled by U.S. interests, in order to avoid necessary follow up by the Department.
     “If you are not included in the above because you are not owned or controlled by U.S. Interests, your response stating so is also requested.
     “All responses should be directed to and refer to ‘Vendor Ownership Survey.’”
     This looks suspicious, too, because the email address from the state government ends with “.com” rather than “.gov.” And it could be from a company trying to obtain email addresses from state vendors.
     Instead of this being a scam, though, Patronis appears to be surveying state vendors to find companies “owned or controlled by the Communist Party of China,” which are doing business with the state government.


Bronson looks at potentially
changing its charter
to add a city manager

Bronson Florida Town Council
In this photograph taken from a video of the meeting, the Town Council members are (from left) Councilman Berlon Weeks, Vice Mayor Jason Hunt, Mayor Beatrice Roberts and Councilman Robert Partin.

Photo From Video Provided By Town Of Bronson As A Courtesy

By Jeff M. Hardison © June 10, 2020 at 3:10 p.m.
     BRONSON –
Bronson Vice Mayor Jason Hunt said during the workshop Tuesday night (June 9) that he would like to put on the agenda for the regular Town Council meeting scheduled for Monday (June 15), discussion about the action needed to amend the town charter to add a city manager as the form of governing the town.
     While the majority of the Town Council is not yet voicing consensus that it wants to switch to a city manager form of government, the agenda for June 15 may include an opportunity to discuss the logistics so that people will be able to vote to approve or reject the change to a city manager form of government – if the majority of the Town Council votes to move in that direction.
     To change the town charter and make a city manager able to lead the day-to-day operations of the town, a majority of registered Bronson voters would have to approve it. The most recent town clerk for Bronson resigned.     
     As the workshop meeting opened Tuesday evening at the Dogan Cobb Municipal Building, Bronson Town Councilman Robert Partin announced that he had asked Robert Beauchamp, a Certified Public Accountant with the firm of Beauchamp and Edwards, CPAs, about the financial feasibility of switching Bronson to have a city manager form of government.
     Beauchamp and Edwards is the CPA firm used by the Town of Bronson.
     Partin passed out a paper to the Council members, to the deputy clerk and to one person in the audience.
     Once the people read the one-page note, Town Councilman Berlon Weeks opened the discussion to determine if this is something the leaders want, given that the accounting firm found the town could afford it.
     Bronson Mayor Beatrice Roberts noted the town charter would have to be changed to revise the manner in which the town is governed -- to add a city manager.
     Mayor Roberts said the six-month period Bronson had a “city manager” was a bad experience from her perspective. Weeks countered Roberts’ statement by noting he did not believe this person was a city manager.
     Roberts then started speaking about the specifics of duties for the existing office staff within the Town Hall, including Deputy Town Clerk Melisa Cook and Utilities Administration Clerk Nikki Keller. Roberts said she sees positive and negative aspects of changing the way the town is run.
     Town Councilman Aaron Edmondson said he sees added expenses beyond salary that will include benefits, insurance, a vehicle and the like. Edmondson said the municipal leaders must cap the cost of a city manager, to include all of the expenses.
     Councilman Weeks recommended using the Florida League of Cities and any other organization that can help the town know about the best methods to start this form of government, and the best method to choose the first city manager for Bronson – if the question goes to the voters and the voters approve it.


USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service
announces new Fla. State Conservationist

USDA Juan Hernandez



Juan Hernandez

Photo and Story Provided
By Renee Bodine, NRCS
Public Affairs Florida
Published June 2, 2020
at 7:10 p.m.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Florida welcomes new State Conservationist Juan Hernandez. He will oversee programs, operations and staff in 33 field offices, four area offices, a plant material center and the state office in Gainesville.
     He begins his new position June 8.
     “I grew up on a small coffee plantation in the mountains of Puerto Rico where I learned the importance of caring for the land and the natural resources in a way only farming can teach,” he said.
     Hernandez earned a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Sciences from the University of Puerto Rico. After graduation he started his career with NRCS in Pennsylvania. Subsequently he served in positions of increasing responsibility within the agency: Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Arkansas, Utah, Nebraska and Maine, where he has been state conservationist since March 2009.
     “I look forward to meeting and working with our producers, partners and staff in this position while learning about the diverse agriculture of Florida,” he said.
     He is accompanied by his wife Carmen and their three children: Alejandra, Miguel and Diego.

MONDAY  JULY 6  7:10 a.m.
Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties

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