Can “AI” Help You
Become A Better Investor?

Published Sept. 16, 2019 at 7:09 p.m.
     NEWBERRY --
For the past several years, artificial intelligence – or AI – has increasingly found a place in many walks of life.


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Levy County Florida

     Almost certainly, you use some form of AI, whether it’s your time on social media, your use of mobile banking, the navigation system you rely on for directions, or any of the many other AI-driven applications relevant to your daily life. But AI has also become a significant part of the financial services industry. So, you might wonder if AI can help you become a better investor.
     To begin with, what is AI? Essentially, it’s the ability of a computer program or machine to think or learn. Using complex algorithms (a set of rules, or steps), computers and machines can mimic many of the thought processes of human beings.
     But how can you use AI to invest? And should you?
     In the financial services world, many companies use AI to select investments for specific funds. On an individual level, you can work with an AI-powered “robo-advisor” to build an investment portfolio. These robo-advisors are typically quite affordable, and they generally follow proven investment principles, such as diversification, in making recommendations.
     Yet, you are more than just the sum of your answers to a robo-advisor’s online questionnaire. Investing is a highly personal matter, which means that, in the following areas, you may well benefit from some human intelligence – and empathy:
     • Understanding of your risk tolerance – A robo-advisor will ask you to identify your tolerance for risk – low, medium, high – and will plug in your answers when constructing a portfolio. But only a human financial advisor – someone who truly knows you, your personality, your family situation and your hopes for the future – can know how your sensitivity to risk might cause you to react to events such as sudden market declines. Armed with this knowledge, a financial advisor can talk through your options to help keep you on the road toward your goals.
     • Answers to qualitative questions – A robo-advisor can provide you with many key data points – rates of return, projections of future accumulations, etc. But so can a personal financial advisor, who can also go beyond the numbers to help you answer qualitative, subjective questions: How can I save for college for my children and my own retirement at the same time? If I change jobs, should I leave my 401(k) in my former employer’s plan, move it to my new employer’s plan or roll it over to an IRA? What’s the best way to guard my financial independence if I ever need some type of long-term care, such as an extended stay in a nursing home?
     • Guidance for the “big picture” – Your investments are important, but they’re also connected to other areas of your life, including your taxes and your estate plans. And while a financial advisor might not provide you with tax or legal advice, he or she may be able to connect you to other, appropriate professionals, and work with them to help you put together your “big picture.”      That’s not something a typical robo-advisor is equipped to do.
     Artificial intelligence will support many of your activities throughout your life. But when it comes to investing, a personal touch may never become obsolete.
    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.


Career fair on Sept. 19
features customer service and
administrative support jobs

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
Published Sept. 5, 2019 at 10:29 a.m.
     OCALA –
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion will host a free career fair on Thursday, Sept. 19 for those interested in customer service and administrative support positions.
     The job fair takes place from 3:30 to 6 p.m. at the Webber Center at the College of Central Florida in Ocala.
     Professional headshots will be available to attendees at no cost.
     A variety of area businesses, all with immediate jobs to fill, plan to attend including Chick-fil-A, ClosetMaid, College of Central Florida, Holiday Inn and Suites, Marion County Board of County Commissioners, Quad Nurse, RaceTrac Petroleum, R+L Global Logistics and Sitel. Updates of participating businesses are available on the calendar at
     Candidates should bring printed copies of their résumé, dress professionally and be prepared for on-the-spot interviews.
     Those interested in updating their résumé, preparing a 30-second “elevator speech”’ highlighting skills and qualifications, and/or sharpening interview skills are encouraged to visit one of CareerSource CLM’s career centers for fee-free assistance.
     The centers are located at 2703 N.E. 14th St., in Ocala; 683 S. Adolph Point, in Lecanto; and 2175 N.W. 11th Drive (on the southern part of the shopping center where Walmart is an anchor), in Chiefland.
     For more information, call 352-840-5700, ext. 1114 or 800-434-5627, ext. 1114.


FHP offers
streamlined hiring process;

Application deadline is Oct. 11
By FHP Sgt. James E. Swearingin
Published Sept. 10, 2019 at 10:09 a.m.
The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is actively seeking applicants to fill upcoming Basic, Transitional and Lateral Recruit Classes.
     The FHP is a nationally accredited law enforcement agency that offers diverse working conditions in a culturally and ethnically expanding society.
     From Friday, Oct. 25, through Friday, Nov. 1, the FHP is scheduled to host a special event, at which applicants will be given the opportunity to streamline their hiring process by participating in the majority of the required pre-employment testing (physical abilities test, polygraph examination and psychological examination) during this one-week event.
     Those individuals who are interested in attending this event must apply online at by Oct. 11, and then RSVP by emailing
     The FHP offers three types of Academy classes for which they are now processing:
     ● Basic Recruit Class: Applicants seeking to become certified as a Florida law enforcement officer who will attend a 29-week Academy.
     ● Transitional Recruit Class: Florida-certified law enforcement officers with fewer than two years of active law enforcement experience or those with active Florida law enforcement certification are eligible to attend a 10-week Academy.
     ● Lateral Recruit Class: Florida-certified law enforcement officers with two or more years of active law enforcement experience are eligible to attend a four-week Academy.

     Positions are available statewide. To learn more about Florida’s finest, visit the website at or contact FHP’s Recruitment Office at 850-617-2315.


Chamber guests dine well;
Chamber declares Dixie County as
‘Most Patriotic Place In America’

Dixie County Chamber of Commerce
Beverly and Edward Pivacek are seen next to the 1927 Putnam Salad, which name refers to the year when The Putnam Lodge was built.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Sept. 15, 2019 at 4:49 p.m.
members and guests at the Dixie County Chamber of Commerce meeting Thursday afternoon (Sept. 12) enjoyed a lavish lunch and participated in seeking a patriotic proclamation.

Dixie County Chamber of Commerce
The main dish of chicken and yellow rice is seen here, inviting diners to enjoy their lunch on Thursday in Cross City.

Dixie County Chamber of Commerce
Leading the Dixie County Chamber of Commerce are (from left) Co-Presidents Cheryll Jones and Andrew Rains, and Vice President Melanie Anderson

     Steve Smith, a financial advisor with Edward Jones who has an office in Lake City, sponsored the lunch.
     The Putnam Lodge Hotel And Steak House catered the lunch, which was enjoyed by all. On the menu that day in the Dixie County Library was chicken and yellow rice, 1927 Putnam Salad, Cuban bread, and Bev’s homemade carrot cake.
     Edward and Beverly Pivacek own the hotel and steak house, and they cooked, delivered and served the luscious lunch buffet style. To learn more about The Historic Putnam Lodge Hotel And Steak House, just find the ad on any of the seven pages of and click on it.
     The Chamber conducted normal business, which included the monthly financial report and approval of minutes.
     Continuing the idea brought forth the previous month by Ruth Ann Lovelace, the members unanimously agreed to ask the Dixie County Board of County Commissioners as well as the elected officials in Cross City and Horseshoe to endorse the Chamber’s idea for branding or labeling Dixie County.
     “Dixie County -- The Most Patriotic Place In America” became the final verbiage. During some of the discussion to justify this proclamation, Co-President Andrew Rains reminded listeners of the Dixie County Rotary Club’s efforts and the Dixie County Chamber’s efforts for Veterans Day and Memorial Day.


NCBDC conducts
goal-setting session

Levy County
Inglis Mayor Drinda Merritt and Levy County School Board Member Chris Cowart go through the line for supper at the event. The meal was catered by BubbaQue’s and included barbecue chicken, pulled pork, baked beans, macaroni and cheeses, and a tossed salad.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Sept. 15, 2019 at 8:29 p.m.
The Nature Coast Business Development Council conducted a goal-setting session Thursday night (Sept. 12) at the College of Central Florida Jack Wilkinson (Levy County) Campus.

Levy County
NCBDC Chairman Greg Galpin welcomes people to the event.

Levy County
Dr. Richard Streeter is among the members of the NCBDC. There are currently two vacancies on the board.

     NCBDC Executive Director David Pieklik said the annual goal-setting meeting was a little different this year than in past years.
     Jeff Hendry, executive director of the North Florida Economic Partnership, one of three state government entities created to assist rural areas of Florida that need help with economic development, was the keynote speaker.
     He shared his opinion that manufacturing, freight services and aviation are areas where rural counties in this part of Florida may want to focus.
     Meanwhile, tourism, agriculture and government continue to serve as three of the most significant economic engines in this part of the state.
     Hendry also spoke about the U.S. Highway 19 corridor as being a possible focus for “Creative Economy” business interests that might include motion picture and video industries;
specialized design services; performing arts companies; and
independent artists, writers and performers.
     He mentioned one company that uses old propane tanks to make creative fire pits, and how that company recently sold several of those to the Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation, located in northeast Glades County near the northwest shore of Lake Okeechobee.
     The single positive outcome for the NCBDC mentioned from the past year was the move of A&M Pontoon Boats from Dixie County to the former warehouse of Central Florida Electric Cooperative in Chiefland.
     This fiberglass manufacturing company is expanding its products as well as providing a place for technical education of Levy County public high school students.
     The meeting concluded with a roundtable discussion to set goals for the NCBDC.
     There was going to be a presentation about a toll road that might pass through Levy County in the future. County Commissioner Matt Brooks was scheduled to speak about that.
     Commissioner Brooks was unable to attend the meeting.
     Following is a story by Troy Roberts of the Florida Department of Transportation. This was first published last month in

Suncoast Connector Task Force named
Information Provided
By Troy Roberts, Communications Specialist
District Two, Northeast Florida
Florida Department of Transportation
First Published Aug. 5, 2019 at 4:39 p.m.
     LAKE CITY – The
mission of the Suncoast Connector Task Force is to evaluate the Suncoast Connector corridor, which extends from Citrus County to Jefferson County.
     The task force will work in coordination with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to address the need for the corridor and its potential economic and environmental impacts.
     The task force may consider and recommend innovative ways to combine right-of-way acquisition with the acquisition of lands or easements to facilitate environmental mitigation or ecosystem, wildlife habitat or water quality protection or restoration. The task force will specifically study how project design and land acquisition can mitigate the impact of construction on the water quality and quantity of springs, rivers and aquifer recharge areas; agricultural land uses; and wildlife habitat.
     The task force will summarize the results of its analysis in a final report by Oct. 1, 2020.
     Following are the categories and members of this task force.
State Agencies/Commissions/Partnerships
● FDOT - Greg Evans, District Two Secretary
● FDOT - Jason Peters, District Three Director of Operations
● Florida Department of Environmental Protection - Chris Stahl, State Clearinghouse Coordinator
● Florida Department of Economic Opportunity - Brian McManus, Chief of Staff
● Florida Department of Education - Madeline Davidson, Blind Services District Administrator, Division of Blind Services
● Florida Department of Health - Paul D. Myers, Administrator, Alachua County
● Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission - Shannon Wright, Northeast Regional Director
● Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services - Announcement coming soon
● Florida Public Service Commission - Mark Futrell, Deputy Executive Director - Technical
● Enterprise Florida - Tim Vanderhoof, Senior Vice President of Business Development
● Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation -Chris Lee, Field Office Manager – North Florida
● CareerSource Florida - Michelle Dennard, President / CEO
Water Management Districts
● Northwest Florida WMD - Brett Cyphers, Executive Director
● Suwannee River WMD - Steve Minnis, Deputy Executive Director
● Southwest Florida WMD - Monte Ritter, Chief Professional Engineer
Metropolitan Planning Organizations
● Hernando/Citrus MPO - The Hon. Jeff Kinnard, Chair and Chair of the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners
● Capital Region TPA - The Hon. Kristin Dozier, Board Member
Commissioner, Leon County Board of County Commissioners
Regional Planning Councils
● Tampa Bay RPC - The Hon. Ronald E. Kitchen, Jr., Chair Commissioner, Citrus County Board of County Commissioners
● Apalachee RPC - Chris Rietow, Executive Director
● North Central Florida RPC - Scott Koons, Executive Director
Community Individual or Member of a Nonprofit Organization
● Florida Chamber of Commerce - Tony Carvajal, Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber Foundation
● Florida Trucking Association - Ken Armstrong, President / CEO
● Florida Rural Water Association - Randy Wilkerson, Public Works Director, City of Chiefland
● Florida Internet & Television Association - Bill Ferry, Senior Director of External Affairs – Florida Region, Comcast
● Volunteer Florida - Audrey Kidwell, Volunteer Generation Fund Program Manager
● Florida Economic Development Council - Susan Ramsey, CEO, Integrity Professional Services
● Florida Farm Bureau Federation - Charles Shinn, Director of Government & Community Affairs
● Florida Gateway College (formerly Lake City Community College) - Dr. Lawrence Barrett, President
● North Florida College (formerly North Florida Community College) - Announcement coming soon
Environmental Groups
● 1000 Friends of Florida - Thomas Hawkins, Former Policy & Planning Director
● Audubon Florida - Charles Lee, Director of Advocacy
● Defenders of Wildlife - Kent Wimmer, Senior Northwest Florida Representative
● The Nature Conservancy - Janet Bowman, Senior Policy Advisor

Local Government Officials
● Local governments in Citrus County - Announcement coming soon
● Local governments in Levy County - The Hon. Matt Brooks, Commissioner, Levy County Board of County Commissioners
● Local governments in Dixie County- The Hon. Mark Hatch, Chair, Dixie County Board of County Commissioners
● Local governments in Taylor County - The Hon. Pam Feagle, Chair, Taylor County Board of County Commissioners
● Local governments in Jefferson County - The Hon. Betsy Barfield, Chair, Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners
● Local governments in Gilchrist County - The Hon. Todd Gray, Chair, Gilchrist County Board of County Commissioners
● Local governments in Lafayette County - The Hon. Anthony Adams, Chair, Lafayette County Board of County Commissioners
● Local governments in Madison County - Brian Kauffman, County Coordinator, Madison County

     The Suncoast Connector is a Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance.
     The Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) program is intended to revitalize rural communities, encourage job creation and provide regional connectivity while leveraging technology, enhancing the quality of life and public safety, and protecting the environment and natural resources.
     The intended benefits include, but are not limited to, addressing issues such as:
• Hurricane evacuation
• Congestion mitigation
• Trade and logistics
• Broadband, water and sewer connectivity
• Energy distribution
• Autonomous, connected, shared and electric vehicle technology
• Other transportation modes, such as shared-use nonmotorized trails, freight and passenger rail, and public transit
• Mobility as a service
• Availability of a trained workforce skilled in traditional and emerging technologies
• Protection or enhancement of wildlife corridors or environmentally sensitive areas
• Protection or enhancement of primary springs protection zones and farmland preservation areas

The FDOT is assigned with assembling task forces to study three specific corridors:
• The Suncoast Connector, extending from Citrus County to Jefferson County
• The Northern Turnpike Connector, extending from the northern terminus of Florida’s Turnpike northwest to the Suncoast Parkway
• The Southwest-Central Florida Connector, extending from Collier County to Polk County


Lavish Beauty Salon Cuts A Ribbon
Chiefland Florida HardisonInk.comLavish Beauty Salon recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony, with the ribbon and scissors provided by the Chiefland Chamber of Commerce. Located at 617 N. Main St., it is near to the First United Methodist Church of Chiefland. Seen in this photo are (front row, from left) Shelby Wagenseil, Kala Kilpatrick, Jessica Everett (owner), Dee Dee Boyd, Aiden Boyd, Arianah Boyd and Angela Boyd and (second row, from left) Krystle Skelly, Nicole Walker, Nikki Evirs, Katie Reils, Vee Kennedy and Anthony Boyd. Jessica Everett has been doing hair for five years and it was her lifelong dream to have her own shop. When the opportunity presented itself to take over the former Capelli's Salon, she jumped on it. She has been in business a little over a month now and is loving all the services they have to offer. Those services include hair – full service, nails, pedicures, facials, skin treatments, full body-waxing, and lash extensions.
Published Sept. 15, 2019 at
10:29 p.m.
Photo Provided


Daily news website maintains
million-hit average in ninth year;

'Keeping It Fine In Year Nine'

By Jeff M. Hardison © Sept. 6, 2019 at 1:09 p.m.
The average of numbers for the first eight months of website traffic in 2019 reflect that’s level of traffic on the daily news website is “Keeping It Fine In Year Nine,” owner and publisher Jeff M. Hardison said Friday afternoon (Sept. 6).
     While, the 9-year-old daily news website, again showed an impressive monthly record of unique visitors in August, the averages for the number of visits, pages viewed and hits in the first eight months of 2019 add up to reflect the reason advertisers see a return on their investment in the venture, the businessman noted.
     The daily news website continues showing traffic that is impressive and attractive to advertisers, maintaining an average that is in excess of one million hits a month.
     A review of website traffic during August of 2019 from data collected from two, independent, third-party robotic website traffic monitoring programs – Google Analytics and cPanel – mirrors why this is the place for the most return on investment in advertising dollars.
    The number of hits in August was 1 million, or exactly 1,097,519 hits.
     Upon learning of the latest 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 reading and viewing of stories, photos and videos, which shows a strong base of people as the daily news website moves forward along into its ninth year of existence, which started on Feb. 1, 2019.
     The entire enterprise, he added, is able to exist thanks to the many interests who advertise here.
      The website traffic numbers for August of 2019 are shown in the graphic at the top of this story.

      The first gauge of how many people look at the daily news website 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’m looking forward to every second in 2019,” Hardison said. “As never breaks stride in its ninth year of existence, the theme this year is ‘Keeping It Fine In Year Nine.’”

    The August total of unique visitors 10,791.
     “I remember one month during the first year, nine years ago,” Hardison said, “when I thought 800 was a lot of unique visitors to be touching the website in a month. And it was, back then.
     “With an average monthly amount at almost 11,000 computer addresses visiting the daily news website in August,” he continued,” I am confident and proud to sell ads at the same rate that was good for sponsors when there were only 800 unique visitors a month. For nine years, we have kept ad costs the same for our advertisers who sponsor the daily news website – except for some forms of short-term ads, like for special events and elections.”

     Another measure of traffic is the number of visits.
     In August, the number was 27,357 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 of pages viewed in August was 103,007. There are ads on each page, and the readers see those ads.

     As noted, the August total of hits was 1 million.
     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.
     All of the measurements combined show the daily news website is continuing to be the best place for business interests and others to buy ads.
     “These figures mean there are more people each day who use as a source for information, including what is advertised,” 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,” he added. continues to grow in readers, viewers and listeners (yes, most of the videos on have sound). Business owners and other ad purchasing interests know this is the best site to visit for Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties’ daily news.
     "We cover areas far beyond the Tri-County Area," Hardison said, "but this part of North Florida is the center of our radar."
     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, articles about investing, Christian devotionals and more. provides state news on occasion as well. And there have been national and international stories on this daily news website.

     Jeff M. Hardison, who was born in St. Petersburg, Florida, and has lived in every region of Florida except the Panhandle, said his wife of 30-plus years -- Sharon Hardison -- is a vital part of the reason for such a high success rate for the website.
      "I can't say enough about Sharon," 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 our accountant. One thing I need to bring people's attention to is our archive page, which Sharon also maintains. 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 said. "Go to the month you want and scroll down. If you see a link that looks interesting, click on it. Check out our videos on 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 International Space Station – can view it.
     For the local business interests that buy ads, with a focus on the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, people who live or visit these areas are the people who see the site the most often.
     This site is subscription-free entirely because of its sponsors. Not only do advertisers help all people see Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, but those business interests enjoy the most exposure for the least dollars.
     The daily news website owner noted how this site is better than daily or weekly newspaper websites, or TV or radio websites, or social media websites.
     "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 We don't go on TV, radio or newspapers and say 'Visit our website.' We are the website." 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 in this part of Florida, as well as all over the world see it.
     Ads bought on, the owner added, help support a free press, which supports a free society.
     Buyers can purchase ads to help their business or other interests, and while they enjoy those results, he said, they can feel comfort in knowing they are helping a business owner who is a 1984 University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications graduate who majored in newswriting and editing, and minored in psychology.
     Hardison has decades of credentials and awards earned at weekly and daily newspapers as a reporter and as an editor, including two Investigative Reporting awards from the Florida Press Association; and FPA award for Community Service, one for Environmental Reporting, one for Best Front Page Layout, one for Best Use of Full Color, as well another award from the Florida Press Club, and scores of letters of gratitude from people and institutions.
     Hardison wants ad buyers to know that he and his wife are very grateful to advertisers for being part of the whole of investors in American freedom, by their sponsoring


Investiture planned for Eighth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Craig C. Dethomasis on Nov. 8
Levy County Florida


Craig C. DeThomasis


By Christy Cain
Communications Coordinator
Eighth Judicial Circuit, Court Administration
Published Aug. 31, 2019 at 8:09 p.m.

The Honorable Craig C. DeThomasis was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bench for a term commencing on Aug. 29.
     He is scheduled to begin his service on Tuesday (Sept. 3). His investiture is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 8, at 3 p.m. at the Alachua County Criminal Justice Center. 
     Judge DeThomasis received his Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from the University of Florida, and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.
     Judge DeThomasis began his career at the Eighth Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s Office and was engaged in private practice until his appointment to the bench. In addition to the practice of law, Judge DeThomasis served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law for 29 years.
     Throughout his career, Judge DeThomasis has held leadership positions in several legal organizations including: President of the J.C. Adkins American Inn of Court, President of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Eighth Judicial Circuit, and Chairman of the Eighth Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee.
     He is a graduate of Leadership Gainesville and served on the Board of Directors for Mid-Florida Division of Children’s Home Society and Bikers on Parade for the USA. He is a two-time recipient of the Florida Bar Meritorious Public Service Award.
     Judge DeThomasis is currently assigned to Family, Domestic Violence, Risk Protection, and Mental Health Divisions in Alachua County. His Judicial Assistant is K. Shea Hagan.


Cattle classes to be offered
by UF/IFAS in Bronson;

First of four classes starts Oct. 10
By UF/IFAS Levy County Extension
Published Aug. 29, 2019 at 11:39 a.m.
     BRONSON --
A four-part series of classes on the basics of raising beef cattle is scheduled to be offered by the Levy County - University of Florida IFAS Extension Office in Bronson.
     The dates for the informational series are Oct. 10, Oct. 17, Nov. 14, and Nov. 21.
     Topics include facilities, nutrition, reproduction economics and more. All classes are from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Levy County UF IFAS Extension Office, 625 N. Hathaway Ave. (U.S. Alt. 27) in Bronson.
     A $45 registration fee covers all four meetings, the class book, and refreshments. Registration is available through Eventbrite by clicking HERE or by calling 352-486-5131.


Chiefland Florida
Statement by Nikki Fried on
President Trump shifting
$155 million from FEMA
for immigrant detention

Published Aug. 28, 2019 at 11:09 p.m.
As the Trump Administration announced it will shift $155 million from FEMA to fund immigrant detention, and as Hurricane Dorian approaches Florida as a potentially major storm, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nicole “Nikki” Fried offered the following statement:
     “The President must be out of his mind if he thinks it’s a good idea to shift funds out of FEMA for immigrant detention at the border while a potential Category 3 hurricane bears down on the United States. Floridians in the Panhandle are still waiting on FEMA help after Hurricane Michael. We don’t need those funds diverted to fuel a xenophobic agenda. I sincerely hope that Governor DeSantis will talk some sense into our Commander in Chief.”


Complete Sleep & Furnishings
cuts ribbon at new location

Chiefland Florida

Chiefland Florida
In these still shots, the group prepares for the cutting of the ribbon and then there is the moment when Jason Kennedy cut the ribbon as seen here. Among the many people in the picture are his wife Rebecca and their daughter Ella. Many of the employees are seen here as well.

Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © Aug. 23, 2019 at 8:09 p.m.
All Rights Reserved
Three generations of Kennedys were on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday evening (Aug. 22) at the new location of Complete Sleep & Furnishings.

This is a video that is a few seconds long with a 3-2-1 countdown and the snipping of the ribbon. The ribbon and scissors were provided by the Chiefland Chamber of Commerce. Several representatives of the Chamber were present for this ribbon-cutting and open house. The Chamber contingent included President Rissa Mainwaring, Director Denny George, Director Kathryn Lancaster and Secretary of the Board
Joy Parker.

     Jason Kennedy and his wife Rebecca, their daughter Ella, and his mother Brenda Kennedy were among the many people at the new showroom, office and warehouse on Thursday evening.
     Most recently before it was Complete Sleep & Furnishings, this was the location of a Sears retail outlet. This store site was the first home for the Walmart of Chiefland, which later moved across the street (U.S. Highway 19).
     When the store was empty, after Sears closed and before Complete Sleep & Furnishings moved in, it also was used as a temporary storage place for many of the video betting machines that were seized by the Chiefland Police Department after its raid on Internet cafés that were previously operating in the city limits of Chiefland.
     The ribbon-cutting and open house on Thursday included delicious sandwiches catered by The Garden Patch, and there was fruit and other food for guests as well. Guests also received a free memory-foam bath mat from Bed Boss.

Chiefland Florida
Chiefland Vice Mayor Tim West completes a ticket to potentially win one of the many great prizes.

Chiefland Florida
Ashley Furniture marketing specialists (from left) Joey Redd, April Crenshaw, Matt Garrison and Joe Loughran stand near an Ashley piece at the open house on Thursday.

Chiefland Florida

Chiefland Florida

Chiefland Florida
Here are a few views of the giant showroom.

     Guests also received gift bags, which included Bed Boss sunglasses, Bed Boss fidget-spinners, and Bed Boss tape measures.
     There were big door prizes of furniture pieces, Thursday, Friday and all the way until the grand finale of big door prizes on Saturday (Aug. 24). Some of the first biggest prizes were an Ashley recliner and an accent cabinet.
     The biggest prize is going to a person whose name will be selected Saturday (Aug. 24). That prize is a sleep system from Bed Boss, which includes a head and foot adjustable bed with a Heavenly Hybrid mattress. Jason Kennedy said the retail value of this prize is $1,699 – although buyers can purchase this for less at Complete Sleep & Furnishings.
     The new address for the store is 2202 N. Young Blvd. (U.S. Highway 19. It is located in the shopping plaza with Winn-Dixie. Complete Sleep & Furnishings is near the southern end of the shopping center, just north of Tractor Supply Co.
     The hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and it is closed Sunday.
     Jason Kennedy said the former location, across the street, is destined to become a Quick Care, urgent care facility. Kennedy is known for putting service before self, and was a recent president of the Chiefland Rotary Club. Years ago, he served the people of Bronson on that town council.
     The fun through Saturday includes a scavenger hunt where things are hidden in furniture, and when found and turned in, result in a prize.
     Also Saturday, from 11 a.m.-ish on, there are going to be free hotdogs, chips and soft drinks for visitors. And there is going to be free face-painting for children on Saturday (Aug. 24).
     As for Jason Kennedy, he is very pleased with the new location.
     Kennedy said he is “ecstatic.”
     “It’s great,” he said.
     This retail outlet includes not only enough space for the big showroom, he said, but it allowed him to consolidate furniture that was in an off-site warehouse; so, now, the warehouse is right behind the big showroom.
     The new location includes an 8,000 square-foot showroom, in the building that is 16,000 square-feet total. The warehouse storage and office space take up half of this big store. Kennedy said this was 15 years in the making, as he thanked his wife Rebecca for helping him through this whole adventure.
     Kennedy said he appreciates the community of Chiefland coming out for the grand opening weekend, which ends Saturday (Aug. 24) at 5 p.m.
     “I love being in Chiefland,” Kennedy said.


Edward Jones' Sheila Smith
named as an Inclusion Leader

An Edward Jones News Release
Published Aug. 23, 2019 at 2:39 p.m.
     ST. LOUIS --
Sheila Smith, an Edward Jones financial advisor in Newberry and Gilchrist County area, has been appointed as the Women's Inclusion Leader to lead the firm's commitment to providing dedicated support and development for female Edward Jones financial advisors.
     Smith will join a group of other Edward Jones financial advisors across the United States to lead this essential initiative.
     A Women's Inclusion Leader offers support through a financial advisor coaching program, delivers diversity and inclusion education to all financial advisors and conducts a series of business-building meetings throughout the year. Smith will continue to serve investors in the community.
     As part of their training, Edward Jones financial advisors build their businesses by working with people face to face in the communities where they have chosen to live. The Women's Inclusion Leader supports the Edward Jones commitment to the success of all financial advisors regardless of gender, color or cultural differences.
     Edward Jones financial advisors come from a variety of professions. Teachers, bankers, military professionals and small business owners have joined the ranks of Edward Jones. They all, however, have one thing in common: They are self-starters who enjoy working with and helping other people. The firm offers an extensive training program for new financial advisors.
     For more information on career opportunities with Edward Jones, call Sheila Smith at 352-472-2776, or interested individuals may visit Edward Jones' recruiting website at
     Edward Jones, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in St. Louis, provides financial services in the U.S. and, through its affiliate, in Canada. Every aspect of the firm's business, from the investments its financial advisors offer to the location of its branch offices, caters to individual investors. The firm's 18,000-plus financial advisors serve more than 7 million clients and care for $1 trillion in assets under management. Visit our website at and recruiting website at Member SIPC.


Jobless rate
takes a cool dip in July

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Aug. 16, 2019 at 4:39 p.m.
     OCALA –
The jobless rate for the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region took an unseasonal dip in July, albeit a slight one, dropping 0.1 percentage point to 4.3 percent.
     There were 8,824 unemployed in the region, a decrease of 248 over the month and 679 fewer than the same time last year, when the jobless rate was 4.7 percent.
     According to the preliminary employment data released today of employment data by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the region’s labor force in July was 204,346, down 316 since June but up 3,796 or 1.9 percent over the year. There were 195,522 employed in the region, just 68 fewer than the previous month but an increase of 4,475 with jobs compared to July 2018.
     Levy County continued to hold the lowest unemployment rate at 4.0 percent, down 0.1 percentage point over the month; Marion County’s jobless rate was 4.1 percent, also down 0.1 percentage point; and Citrus County’s rate held at 5.2 percent.
     Florida’s not seasonally adjusted rate – a rate that matches how the region’s numbers are measured – remained at 3.5 percent which was 0.3 percentage point lower than July 2018.
July unemployment climbed over June rates in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and held steady in 2017 and 2018.
     Rusty Skinner, CareerSource CLM’s CEO, said “this is the first time in five years we’ve seen a regional drop in the jobless rate when we’re used to seeing a seasonal spike, typically peaking in July.”
      “While Citrus and Levy counties show a shrinkage in both labor force size and the number of people employed compared to June 2019, both show expansion in both areas over one year ago,” Skinner said. “While this could be characterized as a normal summer fluctuation, the growth from over a year ago indicates a positive for both counties. Marion County continues to have strong growth in both areas ad shows a solid growth over the past year.”
     Skinner added that “as with all labor market data, trending is more important than individual month-to-month comparisons and this has good news for our counties.” 
     Here’s how the employment numbers looked for each county in the region:
     Citrus County’s labor force contracted by 873 to 47,781, the number of employed fell by 829 to 45,314 while the number of unemployed dropped by 44 to 2,467. Over the year, when the jobless rate was 5.5 percent, the labor force grew by 555, the number of employed rose by 691 and the number of unemployed fell by 136. 
     Levy County’s labor force contracted by 58 to 16,845, the number of those with jobs fell by 27 to 16,175 while the number of unemployed decreased by 31 to 670. Over the year the labor force expanded by 236, there were 252 more employed and 16 fewer unemployed; at the time the rate was 4.1 percent.
     Marion County’s labor force grew by 615 to 139,720, the number of those with jobs increased by 788 to 134,033 and the number of unemployed fell by 173 to 5,687. Compared to July 2018, when the jobless rate was 4.5 percent, the labor force has expanded by 3,005, the number of employed has increased by 3,532 and the number of unemployed has dropped by 527.
     Fifteen counties experienced a rate increase over the month, 26 counties saw rates drop and rates remained the same in 26 counties. Over the year, rates increased in seven counties, fell in 56 and were unchanged in four.
     Among Florida’s 67 counties, Citrus County held the third highest rate along with Highlands County; Marion County dropped from 13th highest to 17th, tied with Okeechobee and Polk counties; and Levy County fell from 16th to 20th highest, tied with DeSoto, Flagler, Holmes and Jackson counties. The lowest unemployment rate in the state was Monroe County at 2.3 percent.
     The Homosassa Springs metropolitan statistical area, which includes all of Citrus County, tied with Sebring for the highest rate among Florida’s 24 metro areas, while the Ocala MSA, which covers all of Marion County, tied with the Lakeland-Winter Haven metro to hold the fifth highest rate.
     Nonfarm employment for the Ocala MSA was 106,700, an increase of 3,700 jobs (+3.6 percent) over the year.
     The Ocala MSA had the second fastest annual job growth rate compared to all metro areas in education and health services at 6.4 percent (+1,2000 new jobs for a total of 19,900 jobs).
     Other industries that grew faster in the Ocala metro area than statewide over the year were: mining, logging and construction at 9.1 percent (+700 new jobs for a total of 8,400 jobs); manufacturing at 5.9 percent (+500 jobs for a total of 9,000 jobs); leisure and hospitality at 1.7 percent (+500 jobs); government at 2.2 percent (+300 jobs); and trade, transportation and utilities at 1.2 percent (+400 jobs).
     Professional and business services also gained jobs over the year at 2.1 percent (200 new jobs).
     The information industry lost 100 jobs over the year, while the financial activities and other industries were unchanged.
     In July 2019, nonagricultural employment in the Homosassa Springs MSA was 32,900, an increase of 700 new jobs over the year (+2.2 percent).
     The report of the region’s preliminary job numbers for August is scheduled to be released on Friday, Sept. 20. website
becomes ADA compliant

By Jeff M. Hardison © Aug. 14, 2019 at 1:49 p.m.
     JEMLANDS --, the 9-year-old daily online news website, became compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements as of 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday (Aug. 12), website owner and publisher Jeff M. Hardison said.
      Michael Vilches of Nature Coast Web Design & Marketing Inc. completed the upgrade within five hours on the seven pages of the website. During that time Tuesday, there were no updates to the pages.
     Viewers will now see a small circle in the lower left corner of each page, and inside the circle is a small wheelchair. When a person clicks on that icon, a menu opens. Another way to make the menu appear is to hold the shift key and the Ctrl key and press the letter “U” on the keyboard.




     The menu provides options to help people see the screen better and to have the text read verbally.
     People who are accustomed to using this type of program will know their preferences.
     “I experimented with it,” Hardison said. “I became a little worried when the machine kept reading things to me. Then I discovered the reset button on the bottom of the menu and that stopped it.
     “I also found that when I right click on the pages of the website,” Hardison continued, “there is an option to select ‘Read Aloud.’ I clicked that, and while the ADA voice was a female, this one was a male voice. The way I made that voice stop was by clicking the Esc key.”
     The multiple award-winning journalist said he was inspired to make the daily news website compliant with the federal law because he learned people with disabilities might need help reading or hearing things on the website’s pages.
     “The website is ADA compliant,” he said. “I am Jeff M. Hardison, doing business as I am a sole proprietor who has a few independent contractors. As for interviewing people with disabilities, that does not happen at my home office. I travel to a location where the person has whatever they need to overcome any restrictions they have from a disability. In nine years, fewer than 10 people have come to The Ink Pad (or our previous location) for business purposes, and none of them were disabled.”

TUESDAY  SEPT. 17  6:09 a.m.
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