Publisher renews membership
Cedar Key Chamber of Commerce

By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 18, 2019 at 9:48 a.m.
     CEDAR KEY --
Jeff M. Hardison, owner and publisher of, announced today (Friday, Jan. 18) that he renewed his membership with the Dixie County Chamber of Commerce for 2019 as of this morning.


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CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion

     In 2018, also was a member of Chambers of Commerce in Dixie County, Gilchrist County and Williston as well as with the Cedar Key Chamber of Commerce and the Withlacoochee Gulf Area Chamber Of Commerce.
     “As far as renewals this year,” Hardison said, “the Gilchrist County Chamber of Commerce is still pondering an offer I presented. There are Chambers in Chiefland and Fanning Springs, but they chose against accepting the same offer that the others accepted so far.”’s sole proprietor said he is thankful to God for all things, and he appreciates the leaders in the various Chambers who understand the messages he sends in regard to free enterprise, best management practices, good business, good sportsmanship and other positive concepts. runs ads on the bottom of the COMMUNITY PAGE for four Chambers of Commerce to which it belongs currently -- Cedar Key, Dixie County, Williston and Withlacoochee Gulf (Also Known As Inglis-Yankeetown).
(Click on any Chamber ad to go to its website. Also, at the top of the Community Page there is a link to jump to ads for the Chambers of Commerce.)

FHP to host after hours
Career Fair on Jan. 22

Published Jan. 16, 2019 at 8:18 p.m.
The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is actively recruiting across the state and will be hosting an after-hours career fair for individuals interested in pursuing a career with the FHP.
     This career fair will assist candidates to understand pay and benefits, the application process, as well as learn where open positions currently are available in North Central Florida. This event will be hosted by Troop B of the Florida Highway Patrol, which includes the following counties: Alachua, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Marion and Suwannee.
     The minimum qualifications to join the FHP are as follows:
● United States citizen;
● High School graduate or equivalent;
● Minimum of 19 years old at time of application (no maximum age restriction);
● Valid driver license; and
● One of the following – one year of law enforcement experience (sworn or non-sworn); two years of public contact experience; two years of active continuous United States military service with an honorable discharge; completed 30 semester or 45 quarter hours of college credit from an accredited college or university.
     Florida Certified Law Enforcement Officers also are encouraged to attend to learn about the accelerated programs available that shortens the hiring process.
     The Career Fair is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 22, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the FHP Station at 6300 N.W. 13th St., in Gainesville.
     Interested applicants with additional questions may contact the local FHP Recruiter, Shelia Walker at 386-754-6284 or Additional information can be found at

Edward Jones
Roth vs. Traditional 401(k):
Which Is Right for You?

Published Jan. 14, 2019 at 3:28 p.m.
     NEWBERRY --
For many years, employees of companies that offered 401(k) plans only faced a couple of key decisions – how much to contribute and how to allocate their dollars among the various investment options in their plan. But in recent years, a third choice has emerged: the traditional versus Roth 401(k). Which is right for you?
    To begin with, you need to understand the key difference between the two types of 401(k) plans. When you invest in a traditional 401(k), you put in pre-tax dollars, so the more you contribute, the lower your taxable income. Your contributions and earnings grow tax-deferred until you begin taking withdrawals, which will be taxed at your ordinary tax rate. With a Roth 401(k), the situation is essentially reversed.     You contribute after-tax dollars, so you won’t lower your taxable income, but withdrawals of contributions and earnings are tax-free at age 59-1/2, as long as you’ve held the account at least five years.
    So, now that you’ve got the basics of the two types of 401(k) plans, which should you choose? There’s no one right answer for everyone. You essentially need to ask yourself these questions: When do you want to pay taxes? And what will your tax rate be in the future?
    If you’re just starting out in your career, and you’re in a relatively low-income tax bracket, but you think you might be in a higher one when you retire, you might want to consider the Roth 401(k). You’ll be paying taxes now on the money you earn and contribute to your Roth account, but you’ll avoid being taxed at the higher rate when you start taking withdrawals. Conversely, if you think your tax rate will be lower when you retire, you might be more inclined to go with the traditional 401(k), which allows you to avoid paying taxes on your contributions now, when your tax rate is high.
    Of course, you can see the obvious problem with these choices – specifically, how can you know with any certainty if your tax bracket will be lower or higher when you retire? Many people automatically assume that once they stop working, their tax liabilities will drop, but that’s not always the case. Given their sources of retirement income from investment accounts and Social Security, many people see no drop in their tax bracket once they retire.
    Since you can’t see into the future, your best move might be to split the difference, so to speak. Although not all businesses offer the Roth 401(k) option, many of those that do will allow employees to divide their contributions between the Roth and traditional accounts. If you chose this route, you could enjoy the benefits of both, but you still can’t exceed the total annual 401(k) contribution limit, which for 2019 is $19,000, or $25,000 if you’re 50 or older.
    You may want to consult with your tax advisor before making any decisions about a Roth or traditional 401(k) – or Roth and traditional 401(k) – but in the final analysis, these are positive choices to make, because a 401(k), in whatever form, is a great way to save for retirement. Try to take full advantage of it.
    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.

Dixie Chamber Accepts Plaque
Dixie County Chamber
Melanie Anderson (left) of Tobacco Free Dixie County presents a plaque to Dixie County Chamber of Commerce President Carol West Thursday afternoon (Jan. 10)  in the Dixie County Library branch at Cross City. This happened at the outset of the monthly meeting of the Chamber. During lunch, which included salad, spaghetti, garlic bread and drinks, a number of mebers and guests spoke about matters of interest to them. Then, the Chamber members conducted business.

Photo by Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 10, 2019 at 4:38 p.m.


Publisher renews membership
with Williston
Chamber of Commerce

By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 10, 2019 at 4:28 p.m.
Jeff M. Hardison, owner and publisher of, announced today (Thursday, Jan. 10) that he renewed his membership with the Williston Chamber of Commerce for 2019 as of this afternoon (Thursday, Jan. 10).
     In 2018, also was a member of Chambers of Commerce in Cedar Key and Gilchrist County, as well as with the and Williston Chamber of Commerce, Dixie County Chamber of Commerce and the Withlacoochee Gulf Area Chamber of Commerce, where he has renewed membership with those three Chambers.
     "Marc Pompeo is the president of the Williston Chamber of Commerce," Hardison said. "Within minutes of me speaking with him today, he said that Chamber Board met earlier today and agrees with my proposal. I am very pleased with this renewal.” runs ads on the bottom of the COMMUNITY PAGE for Chambers to which it belongs.
     The business owner said the potential exists for this daily news website to renew memberships with all of the other Chambers in 2019.


Publisher renews membership
with Dixie County
Chamber of Commerce

By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 10, 2019 at 4:08 p.m.
     CROSS CITY --
Jeff M. Hardison, owner and publisher of, announced today (Thursday, Jan. 10) that he renewed his membership with the Dixie County Chamber of Commerce for 2019 as of this afternoon (Thursday, Jan. 10).
     In 2018, also was a member of Chambers of Commerce in Cedar Key, Gilchrist County and Williston as well as with the Dixie County Chamber of Commerce and the Withlacoochee Gulf Area Chamber Of Commerce, where he has renewed membership with those two so far in 2019.
     "Carol West is the president of the Dixie County Chamber of Commerce," Hardison said. "Within minutes of me speaking with Ms. West today (Jan. 10), that Chamber heartily agree with my proposal. I am very pleased with this renewal.” runs ads on the bottom of the COMMUNITY PAGE for Chambers to which it belongs.
     The business owner said the potential exists for this daily news website to renew memberships with all of the other Chambers in 2019.


Tri-County Pesticide Applicator
Program set to be on Feb. 4;

Register by Jan. 31
Published Jan. 9, 2019 at 10:38 p.m.
The 2019 Tri-County Pesticide Applicator Update Program is scheduled to will be held on Monday, Feb 4, at the Suwannee River Fairgrounds, near the corner of U.S. Highway 19 and State Road 24 in Fanning Springs.
     The program begins at 9 a.m. Farmers and other agricultural interests can receive pesticide license continuing education units by participating in the event.
     Topics covered will include pesticide safety training, watermelon disease update, peanut disease survey, peanut variety update, weed control and more.
     Lunch will be provided by Farm Credit of Florida. 
     Registration is required by Jan. 31, 2019.
     The registration fee of $5 should be made payable to Gilchrist County Extension and delivered or mailed to 125 E. Wade St., Trenton, FL 32693.
     For more information contact Sheila Langford at 352-463-3174 or Ed Jennings at 352-486-5131.

Publisher renews membership
with Withlacoochee Gulf Area
Chamber of Commerce

By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 9, 2019 at 11:08 a.m.
Jeff M. Hardison, owner and publisher of, announced today (Wednesday, Jan. 9) that he renewed his membership with the Withlacoochee Gulf Area Chamber of Commerce for 2019 -- two days ago.
     In 2018, also was a member of Chambers of Commerce in Cedar Key, Dixie County, Gilchrist County and Williston as well as the Withlacoochee Gulf Area Chamber Of Commerce.
     "Marilyn Ladner is the president of the Withlacoochee Gulf Area Chamber of Commerce," Hardison said. "Within 15 minutes of me calling that Chamber and leaving a message, she called me back to heartily agree with my proposal. I am very pleased with this level of service.” runs ads on the bottom of the COMMUNITY PAGE for Chambers to which it belongs.
     The business owner said the potential exists for this daily news website to renew memberships with the other Chambers in 2019.


Public meeting
is partially closed;

Even closed verbal parts,
however, can be reviewed later

By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 7, 2019 at 10:08 a.m.
     BRONSON –
Alicia Tretheway, procurement coordinator for the Levy County Board of County Commissioners, noted for the general public that part of a public meeting is going to be out of the public view on Friday, Jan. 18.
     Individual vendors on a big road project for Levy County will have an opportunity to speak with county staff members about the project outside the view of the public.
     The public presentations/interviews of proposers (vendors) for their proposals for engineering services for the widening and resurfacing of Levy County Road 40 from the Bird Creek Boat Ramp (in Yankeetown) to U.S. Highway 19 is scheduled to be held at the Levy County Emergency Operations Center, 7911 N.E. 90th Street, in Bronson, on Friday, Jan. 18, at 9 a.m.
     Tretheway notes in advance via an email sent Monday morning (Jan. 7) that pursuant to Section 286.0113(2), of Florida Statutes that any portion of a meeting at which a vendor makes an oral presentation as part of a competitive solicitation, or at which a vendor answers questions as part of a competitive solicitation, is exempt from public meeting requirements of Section 286.011, Florida Statutes, and Section 24(b), Article I of the Florida State Constitution.
     In speaking with Levy County Commission Chairman John Meeks on Monday morning (Jan. 7), he added that the portion of the meeting where proposing vendors will be answering verbal questions or adding to their written offers for engineering services is not going to be with the elected county commissioners.
     This process is for staff to bring to the County Commission a recommendation on which firm to select, Chairman Meeks explained.
     The need for one part of the meeting to be temporarily closed to the public, he added, is to not allow an unfair advantage to one vendor over another, by the company representative who is making a second or later delivery of a verbal answer to have heard what the previous verbal statements included.
     As noted in the law, which is part of what is known as “Florida Sunshine Laws,” of “Florida Open Government” laws, even the “temporarily secret” verbal offers of engineering firms can be heard by any members of the general public and the press at a future point.
     As noted in the relevant part of this Florida law:
     “A complete recording shall be made of any portion of an exempt meeting. No portion of the exempt meeting may be held off the record.
     “2. The recording of, and any records presented at, the exempt meeting are exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution until such time as the agency provides notice of an intended decision or until 30 days after opening the bids, proposals, or final replies, whichever occurs earlier.
     “3. If the agency rejects all bids, proposals, or replies and concurrently provides notice of its intent to reissue a competitive solicitation, the recording and any records presented at the exempt meeting remain exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution until such time as the agency provides notice of an intended decision concerning the reissued competitive solicitation or until the agency withdraws the reissued competitive solicitation. A recording and any records presented at an exempt meeting are not exempt for longer than 12 months after the initial agency notice rejecting all bids, proposals, or replies.”

Landmark flower shop
holds grand re-opening;

Trenton Floral springs to life
in downtown Trenton

Trenton Floral Ribbon Cutting
Here is the moment when the ribbon was cut at Trenton Floral, With Designs By Marty, on Saturday morning (Jan. 5). Seen here are George Langford, Marty Rogers Langford, Elizabeth Rogers-Langford, Stephanie Douglas of the Gilchrist County Chamber of Commerce, Sarah Martin, Karan Hilliard, Meredith Andrews, Kyle Brammer, Gene Sails, Sheryl Brown, Bob Ross, Brad Smith, Denise Hudson and Stephanie Beasley. They are just part of the crowd of well-wishers who came to celebrate the grand re-opening.

Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 5, 2019 at 5:08 p.m.
     TRENTON –
A flurry of activity in the late morning on Saturday (Jan. 5) bodes well for downtown Trenton as a well-established business enjoys a breath of new life being breathed into it.

In this video, the ribbon is cut.

Trenton Floral Ribbon Cutting
In this photo, Marty Rogers Langford looks down to another person holding a big pair of ceremonial scissors -- Elizabeth Rogers-Langford -- as George Langford and many others prepare for the moment when the ribbon is cut.

Trenton Floral Ribbon Cutting
(from left) George Langford, Elizabeth Rogers-Langford, and Marty Rogers Langford provide a pre-ceremony photo opportunity near the front window of Trenton Floral – With Designs By Marty – on Saturday (Feb. 5).

Trenton Floral Ribbon Cutting
Paige Brookins, owner of The Gathering Table Restaurant in Chiefland, arrives with plenty of hors d'oeuvres. Here she is seen with Marty Rogers Langford (left) and George Langford.

Trenton Floral Ribbon Cutting
Bob Ross stands next to the cedar shelves he built for his nephew Marty Rogers Langford. Ross is also known for his amazing woodworking skills with cypress.

     Trenton Floral, With Designs By Marty, held a grand re-opening ribbon-cutting ceremony to herald the revitalization of the flower shop that first became one of the cornerstones of the Trenton business district in 1972.
     The shop is located at 110 N. Main St. (U.S. Highway 129), which on the east side of the street just a tad north of Wade Avenue (State Road 26).
     Now, almost half a century after first coming to be, George Langford and Marty Rogers Langford have refurbished Trenton Floral so that it offers Designs By Marty to serve at weddings, events and wherever floral designs are requested.
     Elizabeth Rogers-Langford, 6, is a partner in the venture as well – helping with ribbon-cutting duties, and whatever other chores are needed by a child to assure success at the shop.
     With family and other ties all across the area, the Trenton Floral team started out with a great ceremonial first day.
     Even before the doors opened, Bob Ross, a relatively well-known Levy County wood craftsman, built cedar shelves for his nephew - Marty.
     And as the day began, Paige Brookins brought plenty of hors d'oeuvres from her restaurant in Chiefland – The Gathering Table. Cookies, cheese, grapes, crackers and breakfast biscuits that had meat and cheese, were among those goodies.
     Stephanie Douglas of the Gilchrist County Chamber of Commerce brought the ribbon and scissors for cutting, and as serendipity would have it, with this Chamber having so many ribbon-cutting events, this one emptied the spool – at just the right distance.
     A good time was had by all. George Langford mentioned that Trenton Floral has plans to help the community enjoy flowers and other plants year-round, including potential learning opportunities for young people.


Oyster reef restoration project
promotes healthy estuary
and economic growth

SRWMD Oyster Reef
Participants in the ribbon-cutting ceremony help herald the success of this project by the unique place where the ribbon was cut.

Story and Photo Provided
By Katelyn Potter, Communications Director
Suwannee River Water Management District
Published Jan. 2, 2019 at 10:08 a.m.
     LIVE OAK --
The Suwannee River Water Management District (District) supported an oyster reef restoration initiative along the Lone Cabbage reef complex that was led by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
     A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Dec. 10 to recognize the completion of the project that will benefit the local Cedar Key environment and the economy.
      “Supporting this project is important for the ongoing efforts to increase the health of the estuary in the Big Bend of Florida,” said Hugh Thomas, executive director of the District. “We are excited to work with our partners to bring restoration to the habitat and the local community.”
     The oyster reef creates a barrier that keeps fresh water in the estuary. The fresh water decreases the salinity in the water and is vital for oyster health. The restored oyster reef will provide an ideal environment for oysters and aquatic life because it will allow the fresh water from the Suwannee River to accumulate in the estuary to more historical levels.
     Large limestone rocks were strategically placed on the footprint of the old oyster reef. Limestone was used because it could withstand sea level rise and changes in river discharge, along with providing an ideal surface for oyster eggs, also known as spat, to establish and grow.
      “The restored oyster reef stretches three miles and will positively change the water quality to meet the needs of the developing oysters,” said Darlene Velez, water resource program manager at the District.
     The restored oyster reef also will benefit the economy. The shellfish industry relies on the estuaries to grow and harvest oysters. With the restored oyster reef, more oysters will be available to the local communities for harvest.
     This project was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and The Nature Conservatory. Other organizations, such as the District, Cedar Key Oysterman’s Association, Cedar Key Aquaculture Association and the Big Bend Seagrass Aquatic Preserve, assisted in the oyster reef restoration.
     The mission of the Suwannee River Water Management District is to protect and manage water resources using science-based solutions to support natural systems and the needs of the public. The District holds true to the belief of water for nature, water for people. Headquartered in Live Oak, the District serves 15 surrounding North Central Florida counties, including Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties.


2018 shows daily news website
attaining 15.7 million hits;

New annual record set for hits

Conservative stats for in 2018 Levy Dixie Gilchrist

Story and Graphic
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 1, 2019 at 9:08 a.m.
     THE WORLD –
During 2018,, the 8-year-old daily news website has often shown the monthly records of unique visitors, number of visits, pages viewed and hits.
     Here is a review of website traffic during 2018 from data collected from two, independent, third-party robotic website traffic monitoring programs – Google Analytics and cPanel.
    People around the globe set a new annual record for hits in, according to Google Analytics and cPanel.
    The number of hits in 2018 was 15.7 million, or more exactly 15,740,187 hits. That is a monthly average of 1.3 million hits. The high point was in October when there were 1.5 million hits and the low point was May, when there were about 986,000 hits.
     Upon learning of the latest record-setting figures, Jeff Hardison, publisher and sole proprietor of, said that first he is thankful to God for all things.
     Beyond that, he added, he is thankful for the continued growth, which shows a strong base of loyal readers, viewers and listeners as the daily news website moves forward along into its ninth year of existence starting on Feb. 1.
      The numbers for 2018 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.
     Hardison commented on all of the numbers for 2018.
     “I was hospitalized for two days in December, due to breaking some bones,” he said. “Therefore, I was unable to work on my website. Also, there were three days in May when the robots were not allowed to count traffic as my web host improved security on the site. Also, the May traffic may have been down a bit, because my wife had her hip replaced on May 1 and I served as her care coach for the next six weeks. Sharon was in the hospital for three or four nights, and yet while I was there with her, I used my portable computer to keep the website updated daily.”
     Despite the loss of numbers, the publisher said he is letting these numbers stand without any asterisks.
     “I’m looking forward to Feb. 1, 2019,” Hardison said, “as enters its ninth year of existence. The theme of the year is going to be ‘Keeping It Fine In Year Nine.’
    The 12-month total of unique visitors for 2018 is 170,751. That is a monthly average of 14,229 unique visitors.
     “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 a monthly average now in excess of 14,000 computer addresses visiting the daily news website each month, 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 incresed the cost for our advertisers who sponsor the daily news website.”
     Another measure of traffic is the number of visits.
     In 2018, the annual number was 371,118 visits. That’s about 31,000 a month.
     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 annual total was more than 1.3 million pages. The average monthly total was 109,800 pages. There are ads on each page, and the readers see those ads.
     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 may equal four “hits.” Like all of the gauges, this is a measure of traffic.
     I noted at the start that 15.7 million hits is a new annual record for the website.
     All of the measurements combined show the daily news website is continuing to progress and grow each year.
     “These figures mean there are more people each day who use as a source for information,” Hardison said. “And they return daily. If your product or service is better than the competitors’ products and services, then you will have better odds of being the manufacturer, farmer or service provider of first choice in any market.” continues to grow in readers, viewers and listeners (yes, the videos on have sound). More and more business owners and other individuals are seeing that this is the best site for Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties’ daily news.
      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. 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 can't say enough about my wife Sharon Hardison," Jeff Hardison said. "She does so much for me, that it is incredible. Sharon is the graphic artist who does most of the ads. She is my bookkeeper who provides information for my accountant Fred Thackrey of Pinellas Park. One thing I need to bring people's attention to is our relatively new archive page. 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.
     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 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 the International Space Station) see Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, but those business interests enjoy the most exposure for the least dollars.
     "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 site that covers Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties. is the best place to spend dollars on advertising for any person selling anything to the people of the world, because people all over the world see it.
     Therefore, if Jeff Hardison or our new ad salesperson C.L. Watson approaches you with an opportunity to buy an ad, buy the ad. Thank you, everyone, for making 2018 a very fun and progressive year overall.

Tobacco free worksites
benefit everyone;

Free worksite
tobacco assessment available

By Kristina Zachry
Community Health Advocate - Levy County
QuitDoc Foundation
Published Dec. 27, 2018 at 7:28 p.m.
Many people spend most of their daily lives at work, and the work environment can play a large role in an individual’s health.
     One of the most important trends for worksites is promoting health by implementing wellness programs and supporting employees in an all-inclusive way that helps them support healthy habits at work, such as exercise and eating well. It is well known that smoking is bad for the smoker, however, not many consider the effect this addiction has on local businesses.
     Providing support and resources for employees to quit tobacco addiction can be very effective for both the employer and the employee, and the new year is a perfect time to start a new wellness policy!
     Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Florida and the United States.  On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.  More than 70 percent of smokers want to quit, but few succeed without help. Tobacco use treatment can double the success rate of quitting. Employers in Levy County are encouraged to support their employees in quitting by providing access to resources and passing tobacco free worksite policies.
     Recent studies have shown that smokers cost businesses more than nonsmokers in terms of increased health care costs and productivity losses. An employee who smokes could cost a business more than $6,000 every year.  For each employee that quits, a business can save as much as $2,000 per year through reduced insurance costs.
     Tobacco Free Florida recommends that employers implement a worksite model that provides employees with access to proven successful tobacco cessation medications and counseling and creates a supportive workplace environment that makes it easier for employees to quit.
     In Levy County, the College of Central Florida and the School Board of Levy County have implemented tobacco free worksites with success. Other businesses and employers in Levy County can benefit from supporting their employees with tobacco cessation resources and a supportive tobacco free workplace environment.
     The Tobacco Free Partnership of Levy County is seeking local worksites who are interested in protecting the health of employees and saving money by implementing worksite strategies to help employees quit tobacco.
    For a free worksite tobacco assessment, please contact Kristina Zachry at or call 352-577-4309.

Solid job growth over the year
outweighs slight uptick
in November unemployment

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Dec. 21, 2018 at 12:08 p.m.
     OCALA –
The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 3.8 percent in November – just one-tenth of a percentage point more than the previous month and nearly a point lower than the year ago rate of 4.7 percent.
     The labor force was 202,233, contracting by 1,025, the number of those working dipped by 1,144 to 193,539, while the number of unemployed remained virtually unchanged at 7,694, an increase of just 119.
     But it is the comparison to November 2017 that demonstrates the continuing strength of the region’s economic recovery, according to Rusty Skinner, CareerSource CLM’s CEO.
     Skinner noted that over the year, the labor force expanded by 3,855, the number of employed increased by 5,443 and those out of work dropped by 1,589. That more than outweighs slight variations in unemployment compared to the previous month.
     Levy County continues to hold the lowest jobless rate in the region at 3.3 percent, unchanged over the month; Marion County’s rate is of 3.7 percent rose by one-tenth of a percent; and Citrus County’s rate of 4.5 percent increased by 0.02 percent. Florida’s not seasonally adjusted jobless rate – a measure that matches the way local rates are calculated – remains at 3.0 percent, a decrease of 0.8 percentage point over the year.
     Here’s how each county fared in the latest report:
     Citrus County’s labor force fell by 361 to 48,140, the number of employed dropped by 403 to 45,991 while the number of unemployed rose slightly by 42 to 2,149. Over the year, when the county’s jobless rate 5.3 percent, the labor force has expanded by 552, the number of employed increased by 920 and the number of unemployed fell by 368.
     Levy County’s labor force contracted by 133 to 17,104, the number of those with jobs decreased by 140 to 16,535, and the number of unemployed remained statistically unchanged, increasing by just 7 to 569. Compared to November 2017, when the unemployment rate was 4.0 percent, the labor force has grown by 154, the number of employed rose by 255 and the number of jobless dropped by 101. 
     Marion County’s labor force shrank by 531 over the month to 135,989, the number of those with jobs fell by 601 to 131,013 and the number of unemployed rose by 70 to 4,976. Since November 2017, when the jobless rate was 4.6 percent, the labor force has expanded by 3,149, the number of employed has grown by 4,268 while the number of jobless has dropped by 1,119.
     Nonfarm employment in the Ocala metropolitan statistical area was 106,700, an increase of 1,100 jobs over the month and 4,100 more than a year ago for a 4.0 percent annual job growth gain. Nonagricultural employment in the Homosassa Springs MSA remained unchanged at 34,000, representing an increase of 600 jobs over the year, for a 1.8 percent job growth rate.
     Compared to all other metro areas in the state, the following were annual job-growth highlights:
     ● The Ocala MSA had the state’s fastest annual job growth rate in leisure and hospitality at 9.7 percent, a gain of 1,200 new jobs.
     ● The Ocala MSA continued to hold the second fastest annual job growth rate in education and health services, at 5.3 percent, adding 1,000 new jobs.
     ● The Homosassa Springs metro area had the fastest rate in state government at 4.3 percent, adding 200 new jobs.
     In addition to leisure and hospitality and education and health services, other industry sectors that grew faster in the Ocala metro area than statewide over the year were manufacturing (+6.0 percent for 500 new jobs); professional and business services (+5.5 percent for 500 new jobs); and trade, transportation and utilities, (+2.5 percent for 600 new jobs).
     Mining, logging and construction also gained 300 jobs over the year for a 4.3 percent growth rate.
     The information, financial activities, other services and government industries were unchanged over the year.
Unemployment rates increased over the month in 31 counties, remained unchanged in 28 counties, and fell in 8. Gulf, Bay and Franklin counties held the highest rates in the state at 8.4 percent, 6.1 percent and 5.0 percent respectively; rates that reflect impacts from Hurricane Michael. Prior to the hurricane, the Panhandle counties’ rates averaged 2.85 percent.
     Citrus County dropped from third highest to tie with Calhoun County for the sixth highest rate among Florida’s 67 counties; Marion County dropped six spots to tie for 16th with Hamilton and St. Lucie counties; and Levy County dropped eight places and tied for 28th place with Jefferson, Pasco and Taylor counties.
     Among the metro areas, Homosassa Springs/Citrus County MSA again tied with The Villages for the
highest rate and the Ocala MSA continue to hold the fifth highest rate, tied with Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall metro area.
     The region’s employment summary for December is scheduled to be released on Friday, Jan. 18.


CF Physical Therapist Assistant
and Surgical Tech programs
receive continuing accreditation

Published Dec. 19, 2018 at 7:38 p.m.
     OCALA --
The College of Central Florida recently announced that its Physical Therapist Assistant program and Surgical Technology program have been awarded continuing accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.
     In 2016-2017 the Physical Therapist Assistant program experienced an 89 percent completion rate, a 100 percent pass rate and a 100 percent employment rate. The Commission judged the program to be in compliance with all of the Standards and Required Elements for Accreditation of Physical Therapist Assistant Education Programs. Students in the Physical Therapist Assistant program earn their Associate in Science degree through 74 credit hours of course work and clinical practice. 
     The Surgical Technology program was recognized for substantial compliance with the nationally established standards set by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. This certificate program includes a minimum of 120 surgical cases, classroom lectures, skills lab performance, mock surgery and hands-on clinical experience. The 2016-2017 class had a 75 percent graduation rate, a 100 percent national exam pass rate and 100 percent employment rate.
     “By graduating from an accredited program of study, our graduates are able to sit for licensing and certification exams that enable them to get a great job and afford them the opportunity for upward career mobility,” said Dr. Stephanie Cortes, dean of Health Sciences.  “At CF, we are committed to delivering quality education and place high value on the internal review process required for accreditation because it ensures ongoing quality improvement for each of our health sciences programs.”
     Interested students must attend an in-person information session before applying.
     For more information about either program, visit


Yankeetown ballot to include
advisory referendum question

By Jeff M Hardison © Dec. 16. 2018 at 2:28 p.m.
Yankeetown voters are scheduled to be casting ballots on one issue at the Yankeetown general election on Feb. 26.
     The three Yankeetown Town Council seats that were up for the selection were filled by three qualified candidates, according to records.
     Registered voters in the town of Yankeetown will be voting on an advisory referendum to help determine if the city will continue to maintain, manage and fund the Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve (WGP).  Voters will either vote “Yes” or “No,” to according to public records provided by Yankeetown Town Clerk-Treasurer and Administrator Sherri Macdonald.
     Results from this ballot question are to give guidance to the Yankeetown City Council.
     The Friends of the WGP have noted they are saddened by the Yankeetown Town Council’s action that led to this straw ballot.
     The Friends of the Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve sent a message via email on Nov. 28 alerting interested individuals to the stark reality.
     The potential exists for this “public treasure to fall into the hands of a private developer,” they noted.
     The Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve (WGP) is a 413-acre parcel of land owned and managed by the Town of Yankeetown.
     The property was purchased with funds from the Florida Forever Community Trust. Most of the improvements to the WGP have been made with State Department of Environmental Protection Grants, Felburn Foundation Grants, other small grants, and private donations. General maintenance, utilities, insurance, and other expenses are paid by the Town of Yankeetown with funding from property taxes, and donations from the Friends of the WGP, The Friends noted in the email.
     "The Board (of Directors) of the Friends of the Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve wishes to inform our members, volunteers, and the general public of recent developments effecting the Preserve," The email noted. "During the Yankeetown Town (Council) budget hearings in the summer of 2018, there was a discussion about the expense to the Town of maintaining the WGP.
     "The Town Council subsequently investigated the possibility of turning the WGP back to the State," the Friends’ email continued, "thereby removing the financial responsibility from the Town. The Town of Yankeetown has decided to put an advisory referendum on the 2019 February ballot asking whether the Town should stop funding the WGP. If the Advisory Referendum receives a majority in favor of defunding the WGP, then the Yankeetown Town Council will pursue turning the property over to the State."
     If the voters of Yankeetown want to have the town to no longer help the WGP, then the state "... would try to find another entity to take over the management of the property – State, County, or a viable non-profit organization. If no entity can be found, it is possible that the Preserve could be sold to a private organization," the Friends noted.
     The Friends of the WGP is a non-profit organization that works with Yankeetown to promote and develop the WGP.
     "The Friends of the WGP are saddened that the (Yankeetown Town) Council is considering divesting the Town of this community treasure," The Friends' Board of Directors noted. "We believe the property is an asset to the Town, providing unique recreational experiences to our community and visitors. Unfortunately, the Friends do not have the manpower or the financial funding to assume responsibility of the Preserve. However, our mission still stands and we will continue to support the WGP with promotions, programs, and educational events until such time the Preserve’s fate is determined.
      WGP visitors who live outside the town limits and who enjoy this preserve as a public entity are urged by the Friends to send concerns to:
Yankeetown Town Hall
6241 Harmony Lane
Yankeetown, FL
     In the election for three Yankeetown Town Council seats there were three candidates. Therefore, all three qualified in each. All three will serve a two-year term.
     The three people who are elected are Eddie “Buck” Redd. Jeffrey Saint John, and Daniel “Danny” Pearson.
     The other two Town council members are Mayor Jack Schofield and Vice Mayor Jean Holbrook.

FRIDAY  JAN. 18   9:48 a.m.
Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties

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