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December jobs report highlights
encouraging, measured progress
across Citrus Levy Marion region

Ocala metro area leads state in job growth
By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Jan. 22, 2021 at 8:10 p.m.
     OCALA –
The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 5.8 percent in December, down 0.1 percentage point over the month and 2.4 percent higher than the same time last year.

 

 

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     The region’s December jobless rate was equal to the state rate for the month.
     The Ocala metropolitan statistical area, which includes all of Marion County, led the state for over-the-year job gains in December, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
     The Ocala metro area had 110,200 nonfarm jobs in December, an increase of 1,900 jobs (+1.8 percent) over the year. The Ocala MSA was one of only three metro areas in Florida to post over-the-year job gains, the others were Sebring MSA (1.1 percent with 300 new jobs) and The Villages (0.9 percent with 300 new jobs).
     The region’s labor force was 204,743, up 968 over the month and 3,413 (+1.7 percent) more than in December 2019. The number of those with jobs increased by 1,065 across the region to 192,893 but dropped by 1,525 over the year. The number of unemployed fell by 97 to 11,850 over the month, an increase of 4,938 compared to the previous the previous December when the region’s jobless rate was 3.4 percent.
     Rusty Skinner, CareerSource CLM’s CEO, said the report highlights encouraging gains across the region.
      “It is certainly encouraging to see the Ocala MSA lead the state with such strong gains over the year,” Skinner said. “In fact, the December report tells us that overall, the region is moving in the right direction, albeit at a measured pace. In two counties – Levy and Marion – the drop in the number of unemployed was accompanied by increases in employment. In Citrus County, a very modest rise in the number of unemployed was outpaced by the number of new jobs.”
     According to DEO’s preliminary jobs data for December 2020, Levy County continues to hold the lowest unemployment rate in the region at 5.1 percent, the same as in November and 2.1 percent more than in December 2019; Marion County followed at 5.6 percent, a drop of 0.1 percentage point over the month and 2.4 percent higher than the previous December; and Citrus County’s rate held at 6.6 percent, 2.5 percentage point higher than December 2019.
     Florida’s not seasonally adjusted jobless rate – a measure that matches the way local rates are calculated – was 5.8 percent, a drop of 0.4 percentage point over the month and an increase of 3.3 percent over the year.
     Citrus County’s labor force in December grew by 390 over the month to 45,86, the number of employed increased by 360 to 42,841 and the number of unemployed ticked up slightly by 30 to 3,027. Compared to the previous year, when the jobless rate was 4.1 percent, the labor force shrank by 1,093, employment dropped by 2,176 and the number of unemployed increased 1,083.
     Levy County’s labor force increased by 36 to 16,581, the number of those with jobs rose by 44 to 15,743 and the number of jobless dropped by 8 to 838. Over the year, those numbers represent 125 fewer in the labor force, a decrease of 465 employed and an increase of 340 unemployed when the unemployment rate was 3.0 percent.
     Marion County’s labor force expanded by 542 to 142,294, the number of those with jobs increased by 661 to 134,309 and the number of unemployed fell by 119 to 7,985. Compared to the same time last year, when the jobless rate was 3.2 percent, the labor force grew by 4,631, the number of employed increased by 1,116 and number of unemployed rose by 3,515.
     Skinner pointed to additional highlights in the latest jobs report:
     In addition to leading all Florida metro areas with over-the-year job growth in nonfarm employment, the Ocala MSA continued to post the fastest annual job growth rate compared to all metro areas in Florida in state government at 9.6 percent as well as the highest annual job growth in state government, adding 1,500 new jobs over the year for a total of 17,200 government jobs.
     For the third consecutive month, the Ocala metro area also had the fastest annual job growth rate in the state in trade, transportation, and utilities at 5.1 percent, adding 1,500 new jobs for a total of 26,700 jobs.
     Both industry sectors grew faster in the metro area than statewide over the year. Mining, logging and construction, at 5.8 percent job growth (500 new jobs for a total of 9,100 jobs), also grew faster than the statewide rate.
     Industries that lost jobs over the year in December were education and health services (-500 jobs); professional and business services (-400 jobs); other services (-200 jobs); information (-100 jobs); financial activities (-100 jobs); and leisure and hospitality (-100 jobs).
     With a workforce of 9,400, the manufacturing industry was unchanged over the year.
     In December, nonfarm employment in the Homosassa Springs MSA, which includes all of Citrus County, was 32,100, a decrease of 1,400 jobs (-4.2 percent) over the year.
     Statewide, 54 counties in addition to Marion County experienced modest drops in unemployment rates, four counties in addition to Citrus and Levy counties saw no rate change over the month, and rates rose in six counties.
     Citrus County tied with Broward county with the 8th highest jobless rate; Marion and Volusia counties tied with the 18th highest rate; and Levy and Lee counties tied with the 32nd highest rate.
      Among the state’s metro areas, the Homosassa Springs MSA tied with Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach with the 4th highest unemployment rate and the Ocala MSA tied with Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormand Beach with the 8th highest. At 5.9 percent, the Villages MSA, which includes a portion of Marion County, continued to hold the 7th highest rate.
     Due to annual benchmarking during February, the region’s preliminary employment summary for Monday, March 15 and the preliminary report for February is scheduled to be released on Friday, March 26.

 


Sixth Annual Marion County
Youth Career Expo goes virtual

Career Expo

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Jan. 19, 2021 at 2:10 p.m.
     OCALA –
The sixth annual Marion County Youth Career Expo for middle- and high school students is set for January 28 and will, for the first time, take place virtually.
     The expo, held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will be open at no charge to public, private, and home-schooled students as well as parents.
     All participants may register in advance or on the day of the event at bit.ly/YCE2021.
     Attendees have a chance to win a $50-$100 gift certificate presented by the Mid-Florida Regional Manufacturers Association (MRMA).
     Students will be able to explore virtual booths and learn from business leaders about the types of skills and education needed to succeed, tour local industries, and hear from keynote speakers.
     Cory Weaver, CareerSource CLM’s director of operations, said, “We are excited to, once again, join community partners that are committed to developing our talent pipeline.”
     Weaver added, “In offering a convenient, safe virtual format, every effort has been made to provide students with the same hands-on look at career opportunities and businesses with the ability to meet with their future workforce.”
     The expos are broken into three components:
     * Virtual Career Fair where students interact with business representatives via video conferencing or direct messaging about job opportunities and with local education providers about training;
     * Video tours where students hear directly from industry leaders about key skills and education requirements needed to succeed in their field; and
     * Keynote presentations that are set to be from Kevin Sheilley, president and CEO of the Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership; Kevin Christian, APR, CPRC, director of Public Relations and Multimedia Productions for Marion County Public Schools; and Jacob Camp, production manager of Winco Manufacturing.
     The expos are sponsored by CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion, College of Central Florida, Marion County Public Schools, Public Education Foundation of Marion County, Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership, and the Mid-Florida Regional Manufacturers Association.
     For more information, call 352-840-5700, ext. 2205 or 800-434-JOBS, ext. 2205 or email cgalica@careersourceclm.com.

 


Exploring Finances
Pre-Retirees:
Plan Now For Health Care Costs

Published Jan. 18, 2021 at 9:10 a.m.
     NEWBERRY --
If you’re close to retirement, you’ll have several financial issues to consider.
     But you’ll want to pay attention to one of the most important of these issues: health care costs. How can you prepare yourself for these expenses?
     First, get an early start on estimating health care costs. More than two-thirds of those planning to retire in the next 10 years say they have no idea what their health and long-term care costs will be in retirement, according to the Edward Jones/Age Wave Four Pillars of the New Retirement study. And some people don’t worry much about these costs, which may be considerable, thinking that Medicare will pay for most of them. 
     While Medicare does cover many medical expenses, it also has its own costs. You probably won’t pay a premium for Part A (inpatient/hospital coverage), since you likely had this cost deducted from your paycheck when you were working. But if you are hospitalized, you’ll have to pay deductibles and coinsurance (the percentage of costs you pay after you’ve paid your deductible). Part B (doctor’s visits) requires a premium, deducted from your Social Security checks, and you must pay an out-of-pocket deductible. After you meet this deductible for the year, you typically pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for most doctor’s services. And when you enroll in Part D (prescription drug plan), you will likely also have to pay a monthly premium, an annual deductible and coinsurance or copays.
     To help pay for the Medicare deductible, coinsurance and copayments, you may want to get supplemental insurance, known as Medigap. Premiums for Medigap vary, depending on the plan you choose.
     As an alternative to original Medicare, you could select Medicare Advantage (sometimes called Part C). Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private companies approved by Medicare, but the benefits and costs vary by plan. These plans generally will incorporate Medicare Parts A and B and will provide additional medical coverage, such as prescription drugs. 
When you incorporate all the above, the annual out-of-pocket costs for traditional medical expenses likely will be about $4,500 to $6,500 per year, per person – not insignificant, but certainly a number that can be addressed by careful planning.
     But there’s one more expense to keep in mind: long-term care. The average cost of a private room in a nursing home is more than $100,000 per year, according to the insurance company Genworth. And Medicare typically pays few of these expenses.    
     Clearly, between regular medical costs associated with Medicare or those not covered by it, and costs resulting from the possible need for long-term care, your health care bills can mount. To meet these costs, you need to plan ahead – and take action.
     For example, it’s essential that you incorporate health care expenses into your overall financial strategy. You can also work with a financial professional to run some “what-if” analyses to see if your strategy would be derailed by a potential long-term care stay. And the professional you work with may be able to suggest specific protection vehicles that can help you meet the costs of long-term care.
     The best time to prepare for your health care costs during retirement is well before you retire. So, if you haven’t already started, now is the time to do so. When it comes to paying for health care, the fewer surprises, the better.
    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.

 


HardisonInk.com joins
Citrus County
Chamber of Commerce

Jeff Hardison Joins Citrus County (Florida) Chamber
In this still shot taken from the video, Jeff M. Hardison prepares to cut the blue ribbon provided by the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce.
~
Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 8, 2021 at 12:10 p.m.
All Copyrights Reserved
     THE INK PAD
-- A relatively short ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday morning heralded the joining of the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce by Jeff M. Hardison, doing business as HardisonInk.com.



Jeff Hardison Joins Citrus County (Florida) Chamber
Click on the photo above, to see the video.

Jeff Hardison Joins Citrus County (Florida) Chamber
In this still shot taken from the video, Jeff M. Hardison cuts the blue ribbon provided by the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce.

Jeff Hardison Joins Citrus County (Florida) Chamber
In this still shot taken from the video, Jeff M. Hardison celebrates after having cut the blue ribbon provided by the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce.



     "As I wrap up the 10th year of owning this daily news website," Hardison said, "I chose a metropolitan market that is neighboring my focal point of the rural counties of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties.
    "I saw Alachua County, where I lived for eight years as a student of the University of Florida back in the late 1970s," he continued. "And I saw Marion County, where I have shopped and visited many times in the past five decades or so. Of Alachua, Citrus and Marion counties, I enjoy visiting Citrus County the most. Hence, that is the first metropolitan market for HardisonInk.com to focus upon more for ad sales and to promote as expansion seems imminent."
     Hardison, an eight-time award winning daily newspaper, weekly newspaper and daily news website publisher, editor and reporter said there are many factors considered before making this choice.
     "I think the two tipping points for me were vehicular traffic ease and the rapid, professional, friendly and positive response I saw from the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce," Hardison said. “Citrus County Chamber of Commerce Member Relations Manager Janet Mayo is the type of person who I would hire to represent my company. She is a good for business.”
     Hardison said he sees the start of the 11th year of the daily news website on Feb. 1 as the time to continue helping people by providing information and entertainment to improve their quality of life, including via the local economy.
     “The other three Chambers that I belong to as the owner of a business are Cedar Key, Dixie County and the Withlacoochee Gulf (Inglis and Yankeetown) Chambers,” Hardison said. “I know many of the people in those Chambers. They are the salt of the earth. I think extremely highly of those Chamber and members in this rural part of Florida, in no small part because of the countless hours of volunteering and the donations of other resources they make to help business succeed in Levy County, Dixie County and Gilchrist County.”
     Hardison said there are other Chambers in the Tri-County Area to which his daily news website has belonged, advertised and endorsed during its first 10 years of existence.
     “2021 has started,” Hardison said. “Other Chambers’ leaders can reach out to me if they want. I remember joining the Fanning Springs Chamber of Commerce before it became absorbed into the Gilchrist County Chamber of Commerce years ago. That has now changed back again to being the Chamber for Fanning Springs area businesses. I am ready, willing and able to help any Chamber or business in North Central Florida.”

 


Employability workshops
via Zoom, starting Jan. 11

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Jan. 5, 2021 at 4:10 p.m.
     OCALA –
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion will resume live employability workshops beginning Monday, Jan. 11 with Job Specific Resume Development.
     The workshops are free and take place via Zoom. Workshop descriptions and online registration links are available at https://careersourceclm.com/calendar/
     “We’re pleased to provide this alternative to in-person workshops for those who prefer a live experience,” said Jerry Flanders, CareerSource CLM’s workshop coordinator. “And because we’re using the Zoom platform, space is not limited to first-come-first-served.”
     The following live workshops take place each Monday and Friday, except when otherwise specified (such as holiday closures):
     * Job Specific Resume Development Monday, Jan. 11 and 25 from 10 – 11 a.m. Forget the one-size-fits all generic résumé. Workshop participants will discover how to showcase job-specific skills and qualifications, as well as learn how to tap into electronic resources that can help job seekers land that all-important interview.
     * Interview Strategies That Get You Noticed Friday, Jan. 15, 22 and 29 from 10-11 a.m. This workshop arms candidates with tips that can help them stand out from the competition and be remembered. It covers strategies for responding to the “tell me about yourself” question, preparing for behavioral interview questions, and being ready with their own questions at the end of the interview.
     Flanders noted that additional live Zoom workshops will be available soon. He added that job candidates may also take advantage of the free, virtual (pre-recorded) self-paced workshops, which can likewise be found on the CareerSource CLM’s online calendar.
     All workshop attendees are invited to team up with career coaches who can provide additional assistance and job referrals. Fee-free staff-assisted services may meet certain requirements for those submitting claims for Re-employment Assistance (unemployment compensation).
     For more information, call 1-800-434-JOBS (5627) or visit https://careersourceclm.com/.

 


Daily news website
finishes 2020
with high averages
Here's To 10 Years!
500 percent increase
in unique visitors over 10 years


Unique Visitors 2020 Monthly Average 10,737 Per Month
Number Of Visits 2020 Monthly Average 27,519 Per Month
Pages Viewed 2020 Monthly Average 76,017 Per Month
Hits 2020 Monthly Average 1.2 Million Per Month


By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 1, 2021 at 5:10 p.m.
All Rights Reserved
     THE WORLD –
The daily news website named HardisonInk.com continued to thrive its 10th year of existence with figures from Dec. 1 through Dec. 31 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 HardisonInk.com shared his perspective on some news regarding the websites tenth year in business. It begins its 11th year on Feb. 1, 2021.
     The 12-month average of unique visitors for 2020 was 10,737 a month.
     The 12-month average for hits was 1.2 million hits a month.
     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 HardisonInk.com began Feb. 1, 2020.
     The business owner said he extremely appreciates other business owners and interests who continue to buy ads to sponsor HardisonInk.com.
     “The relatively significant global and national economic downturn in 2020,” Hardison said, “showed an impact in the Tri-County Area as it did throughout the state, the nation and the world. Still, almost all advertising interests who sponsor HardisonInk.com have renewed year after year.”

UNIQUE VISITORS
     The first gauge reflects Unique Visitors.
     Webopedia.com defines unique visitor as "a person who visits a website more than once within a specified period of time."
     Software used for this report can distinguish between visitors who only visit the site once and unique visitors -- who return to the site.
     The unique visitor is different from a site's hits or page views -- which are measured by the number of files that are requested from a site. Unique visitors are measured according to their unique Internet Protocol addresses, which are like online fingerprints, and unique visitors are counted only once no matter how many times they visit the site after they have visited it twice.
     “I look forward to every second in 2021,” Hardison said.

UNIQUE VISITORS
    The Unique Visitors 2020 Monthly Average was 10,737 a month in 2020.
     “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 2020 monthly average 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.
     “There has been zero increased cost for advertisers who sponsor the daily news website – other than the short-term advertisers since its start in 2011, he continued. “To help readers understand the value here, the average number of monthly unique visitors to the website in 2011 was 1,649 and that compares with about a 500 percent increase -- to 10,737 a month in 2020.”

 


The 2011 average monthly Unique Visitors to the website was 1,649 a month.
That compares with about a 500 percent increase -- to 10,737 a month in 2020.




NUMBER OF VISITS
     Another measure of traffic is the number of visits.
     The Number Of Visits 2020 Monthly Average was 27,519 a month.

PAGES VIEWED
     Pages Viewed shows how many of the seven different pages the visitors looked at. This website has the Home Page, Police Page, Calendar Page, Business Page, Community Page, Life Page and the Leisure Page.
     The Pages Viewed 2020 Monthly Average was 76,017 pages a month.

HITS
     The Hits 2020 Monthly Average for HardisonInk.com was 1.2 Million (1,185,056) a month.
     What is a “hit?” When a viewer looks at a page, there are elements on the page that register a “hit.” For instance, if there are four pictures on a page, then that equals four “hits.” Like all the gauges, this is a measure of traffic.
     All measurements combined show that the daily news website is continuing its trend of progress each year.
     “These figures herald the fact that many people each day use HardisonInk.com as a source for information,” Hardison said. “And they return daily. The data surprised me a little today (Jan. 1, 2021), because with the COVID-19 global pandemic, I anticipated seeing a more marked drop in traffic.”
     HardisonInk.com continues to provide readers, viewers and listeners with news and human interest stories, photos and videos. Business owners and others see this is the best site for Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties’ daily news every day -- as well as picking up statewide news, national news and international news.
     People know there are no bounds for where HardisonInk.com 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, Exploring Finances and more.
     HardisonInk.com 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.
CHECK OUT THE ARCHIVES
     The St. Petersburg, Florida native said his wife is a vital part of the reason for such a high success rate for the website.
     "I thank God for bringing Sharon Hardison into my life more than 34 years ago now, and we celebrated our 31st anniversary in July," Jeff Hardison said. "She does so much for me, that it continues to fill me with awe daily. Sharon is the multiple award-winning graphic artist who creates most of the ads. She is my bookkeeper who provides information to my accountant, too. The archive page is from her work. Go to any of the seven pages and find the ad for the archive page on the bottom right column and click on it.
     "A new window will open," he continued. "Just go to the month you want and scroll down. If you see a link that looks interesting, click on it. CHECK OUT OUR VIDEOS on YouTube.com.”
     There are a couple of different main sites for YouTube.com sites with videos by Jeff M. Hardison. Here are two links – click HERE for one main site and click HERE for the other main site.

ADVERTISEMENT KEEPS IT GOING
     HardisonInk.com is visible for free to anyone who can see pages on the Internet. Therefore, people all over the world – and in the International Space Station – can view it.
     This site is subscription-free entirely because of its sponsors. Not only do advertisers help the people in the world (and astronauts in space) see Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, but those business interests enjoy the most exposure for the least ad dollars spent.
     "We don't 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 HardisonInk.com. I have removed the national ads, except where a local advertiser carries a national or global product – like Stihl saws at the Tri-County Saw Shop."
     HardisonInk.com is the best daily news website that covers Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties (and beyond).
     HardisonInk.com provides the best return on investment of dollars spent on advertising in the world, because people all over the world see it. As for interests in the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, the same is true because the Tri-County Area is the primary focal point of news coverage.

Here’s To 10 Years!
     The daily news website has concluded its contests for 2020. There are seven contests planned for 2021.
     Here’s To 10 Years! is retiring as the theme effective Feb. 1. The new theme for the daily news website’s 11th year is still in the development stage.

 


Two new drone rules
announced by FAA

FAA Graphic for 2 new rules regarding drones  HardisonInk.com
Graphic Provided By UDSOT FAA

By the FAA Press Office
Sent Dec. 28, 2020 at 3:07 p.m.
Published Dec. 29, 2020 at 10:10 a.m.
     WASHINGTON, D.C. —
The United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today (Monday, Dec. 28) announced final rules for Unmanned Aircraft (UA), commonly known as drones.
     The new rules will require Remote Identification (Remote ID) of drones and allow operators of small drones to fly over people and at night under certain conditions. These rules come at a time when drones represent the fastest-growing segment in the entire transportation sector – with more than 1.7 million drone registrations and 203,000 FAA-certificated remote pilots now.
     Remote ID will help mitigate risks associated with expanded drone operations, such as flights over people and at night, and both rules support technological and operational innovation and advancements.
      “These final rules carefully address safety, security and privacy concerns while advancing opportunities for innovation and utilization of drone technology,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.
     Remote ID is a major step toward the full integration of drones into the national airspace system. (To see the 470-page PDF document about Remote ID, click HERE.
      Remote ID provides identification of drones in flight as well as the location of their control stations, providing crucial information to our national security agencies and law enforcement partners, and other officials charged with ensuring public safety. Airspace awareness reduces the risk of drone interference with other aircraft and people and property on the ground.
     Equipping drones with Remote ID technology builds on previous steps taken by the FAA and the drone industry to integrate operations safely into the national airspace system. Part 107 of the federal aviation regulations currently prohibits covered drone operations over people and at night unless the operator obtains a waiver from the FAA. The new FAA regulations jointly provide increased flexibility to conduct certain small UAS without obtaining waiver.
      “The new rules make way for the further integration of drones into our airspace by addressing safety and security concerns,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “They get us closer to the day when we will more routinely see drone operations such as the delivery of packages.”
     The Remote ID rule (PDF) applies to all operators of drones that require FAA registration. There are three ways to comply with the operational requirements:
     1. Operate a standard Remote ID drone that broadcasts identification and location information of the drone and control station;
     2. Operate a drone with a Remote ID broadcast module (may be a separate device attached to the drone), which broadcasts identification, location, and take-off information; or
     3. Operate a drone without Remote ID but at specific FAA-recognized identification areas.
     The Operations Over People and at Night rule (PDF) applies to Part 107 operators. The ability to fly over people and moving vehicles varies depending on the level of risk a small drone operation presents to people on the ground. Operations are permitted based on four categories, which can be found in the executive summary (PDF) accompanying the rule. Additionally, this rule allows for operations at night under certain conditions.
     The final rule requires that small drone operators have their remote pilot certificate and identification in their physical possession when operating, ready to present to authorities if needed. This rule also expands the class of authorities who may request these forms from a remote pilot. The final rule replaces the requirement to complete a recurrent test every 24 calendar months with the requirement to complete updated recurrent training that includes operating at night in identified subject areas.
     Both rules will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. The Remote ID rule includes two compliance dates. Drone manufacturers will have 18 months to begin producing drones with Remote ID, with operators having an additional year to start using drones with Remote ID.

 


Plenty of positives to unpack
despite November’s mixed bag
of employment news

Ocala metro area continues
to lead state in key industries


By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Dec. 18, 2020 at 2:10 p.m.
     OCALA –
The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 6.2 percent in November, up 0.6 percentage point over the month and 2.6 percent higher than the same time last year.
     The region’s labor force was 205,444, up 1,619 over the month and 2,745 more than in November 2019. The number of those with jobs last month edged up by 340 across the region to 192,799 but fell by 2,564 over the year. There were 12,645 unemployed, an increase of 1,279 compared to October and 5,309 more than the previous November. 
     According to the preliminary jobs data for November, released today by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Levy County continues to hold the lowest jobless rate in the region at 5.3 percent, up 0.5 percentage point over the month; Marion County followed at 6.0 percent, an increase of 0.6 percentage point; and Citrus County’s rate was 6.9 percent, 0.6 percentage point higher than the October rate.
     Florida’s not seasonally adjusted jobless rate – a measure that matches the way local rates are calculated – was 6.3 percent, the same as the previous month and an increase of 3.6 percent over the year.
     Rusty Skinner, CareerSource CLM’s CEO, said it appears that Santa delivered a mixed bag of news in the latest report.
      “November’s employment data shows a continued positive growth in Marion County, both on a monthly basis and yearly. Growth in both labor force and employment indicate that our key metrics on availability of talent, and on labor market absorption of that talent, are expanding,” Skinner said. “However, the level of unemployment indicates a market, that while expanding, is not growing at the rate of new or re-entering employees searching for jobs.”
     Skinner said that both Citrus and Levy counties show a very slight increase in job seekers looking for opportunities but little expansion in employment, indicating an employment environment that is in a “holding pattern” as it enters the holiday season.
     In November, Citrus County’s labor force expanded by 282 over the month to 45,748, the number of employed decreased by just 12 to 42,570 and the number of unemployed rose by 294 to 3,178. Compared to November 2019 when the jobless rate was 4.3 percent, the labor force contracted by 1,607, employment dropped by 2,741 and the number of unemployed increased 1,134.
     Levy County’s labor force ticked up by 39 to 16,662, the number of those with jobs fell by 62 to 15,774 and the number of jobless increased by 101 to 888. Those numbers represent 164 fewer in the labor force, a drop of 512 in the number of employed and an increase of 348 unemployed over the year when the unemployment rate was 3.2 percent.
     Marion County’s labor force grew by 1,298 to 143,034, the number of those with jobs increased by 414 to 134,455 and the number of unemployed rose by 884 to 8,579. Compared to the same time last year, when the jobless rate was 3.4 percent, the labor force expanded by 2,516, number of employed increased by 689 and number of unemployed rose by 3,827.
      When it comes to the positives in November’s report, Skinner noted that the nonfarm employment in the Ocala metropolitan statistical area was 110,100, an increase of 1,900 jobs (+1.8 percent) over the year.
     The Ocala MSA, which covers all of Marion County, had the fastest annual job growth rate compared to all metro areas in Florida in government at 11.5 percent as well as the highest annual job growth in government, adding 1,800 new jobs over the year for a total of 17,400 government jobs.
     For the second consecutive month, the Ocala metro area also had the fastest annual job growth rate in the state in trade, transportation, and utilities at 3.6 percent as well as the highest job growth adding 900 new jobs for a total of 26,100 in that industry.
     The Ocala MSA posted the second fastest annual job growth rate compared to all other metro areas in leisure and hospitality at 1.5 percent as well as the second highest job growth, adding 200 new positions for a total of 13,500 jobs in November.
     All three industry sectors outpaced statewide growth as did mining, logging and construction which grew at 4.6 percent and gained 400 jobs over the year.
      “It is certainly excellent news to learn that Marion County posted the fastest growth rates and highest growth in industries critical to our area, and it is especially encouraging to see leisure and hospitality continue to rebound with the second fastest job growth, and highest job growth in the state,” Skinner said.
     Industries losing jobs were professional and business services (-500 jobs); education and health services (-400 jobs); other services (-200 jobs); manufacturing (-100 jobs); information (-100 jobs); and financial activities (-100 jobs).
     In November, nonfarm employment in the Homosassa Springs MSA, which includes all of Citrus County, was 31,700, a decrease of 1,900 jobs (-5.7 percent) over the year.
     Statewide, 59 counties in addition to Citrus, Levy and Marion counties, experienced increases in unemployment rates, four counties saw rates drop and one county’s rate was unchanged.
     Citrus County maintained the 9th highest rate tying with Hendry County; Marion County held the 20th highest rate; and Levy County tied with Brevard, Franklin, and Manatee counties with the 36th highest rate.
     Among the states metro areas, the Homosassa Springs MSA continued to hold the 5th highest unemployment rate and the Ocala MSA claimed the 10th highest. The Villages, which includes a portion of Marion County, had the 7th highest rate at 6.3 percent.
     The region’s preliminary employment summary for December is scheduled to be released on Friday, Jan. 22.

 


Florida agriculture leader warns
of probable reduced protection
of Florida’s wetlands
and other surface waters

Commissioner Nikki Fried
offers statement regarding Florida
seizing wetlands permitting from EPA

By FDACS Office of Communications
Sent Dec. 17, 2020 at 11:16 a.m.
Published Dec. 18, 2020 at 2:10 p.m.
     TALLAHASSEE --
On Thursday (Dec. 17), the United States Environmental Protection Agency signed an agreement granting Florida authority to issue construction permits in protected wetlands, an authority previously handled for many years by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA.
     In the 43 years since states were allowed to seek wetland permitting authority, only two had requests approved, and none since 1994. Both of those states have faced significant challenges in meeting federal law’s requirements to protect natural resources, and have faced those programs returning to federal jurisdiction.
     This action sets a dangerous precedent that may lead to reduced protection of Florida’s wetlands and other surface waters. According to experts, the federal government’s wetland permitting process is more stringent than the state’s in reducing wetlands impacts from development. According to Audubon Florida, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection lacks the staff, resources, track record, budget, and personnel to successfully manage the program; FDEP’s request also did not explain how it will replace federal safeguards, how it will assess impacts to species protected by the Endangered Species Act, or even which wetlands will fall under its jurisdiction. The vast majority of thousands of public comments from Floridians were in opposition to this decision, as are numerous environmental conservation groups.
     Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, whose Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services includes the state’s Office of Agricultural Water Policy, previously expressed opposition to this unnecessary measure and today offered the following statement:
     “Both the (Gov. Ron) DeSantis and (President Donald) Trump administrations have demonstrated a disregard for transparency and disinterest in protecting our waters. Those concerned with Florida’s environment have no reason to believe the State of Florida is prepared to manage critical wetlands permitting in a transparent, apolitical manner. It is a dangerous mistake for Administrator Wheeler, on the Trump administration’s way out the door, to strip this authority from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and hand it off to an underfunded, understaffed state agency. Water is our state’s lifeblood, a public good on which all Floridians rely, and we must ensure the proper checks and balances remain in place to protect and conserve it for generations to come.”
     The Sierra Club weighed in on the matter.
     “The Florida Department of Environmental Protection doesn’t have the capacity to take over the wetlands permitting that has been run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for decades. It can’t even manage to enforce the environmental laws already under its purview,” added Deborah Foote, Deputy Chapter Director for Sierra Club Florida. “To believe it can take this over with no additional financial resources is a pipe dream.”
     Section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act requires a permit before dredged or fill material may be discharged into waters of the United States, and provides states and tribes the option of assuming, or taking over, the permitting responsibility and administration of the Section 404 permit program for certain waters. Section 404 permits for those assumed waters would be issued by the state or tribe instead of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

 


Voter warns - language matters
CEE critical of resolution's poor verbiage

By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 15, 2020 at 5:10 p.m.
     WILLISTON –
A Levy County voter who ran for state representative in the general election addressed the Levy County Legislative Delegation Monday morning (Dec. 14) as she shared insight about a proposed resolution and how definitions of words matter.
     Barbara Byram ran as a Democrat against Joe Harding, a Republican. Harding won the election for Florida House of Representatives District 22, which includes all of Levy and part of southwest Marion County.
     On Monday, Byram was speaking on behalf of Citizens for an Engaged Electorate (CEE). Rep. Harding and State Sen. Jennifer Bradley (R-Fleming Island, Dist. 5) were both sitting in their very first Legislative Delegation Hearing since being elected.
     Sen. Bradley’s district includes Levy, Dixie, Gilchrist, Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Lafayette, Suwannee, Union and part of Marion counties.
     “Congratulations on winning your elections this past November. And thank you for appearing here and allowing me to speak,” Byram said as she began to help the new senator and new representative learn about the CEE and more.
     “Citizens for an Engaged Electorate is a group of individuals working in Levy and Marion counties,” Byram said. “We focus on informing the public about the importance of participating in the democratic process; offering a summary of significant issues; and providing tools to individuals for engagement in the political process at all levels.”
     She went on to share that the CEE believes that all people should have access to factual information to inform the shaping of their opinions on proposed legislation,  and that hyperbolic discussion around issues intended to elicit a hypersensitive response from the people is wrong, no matter who is presenting the information.
     Language is important. Communication happens only when the meaning of words are agreed upon by speakers and listeners, she said.
     Byram noted there has been a trend for some people, even leaders to distort or misrepresent facts.
     “We believe that educating the public is of primary concern. Part of this education concerns the various types of government and economic systems in countries around the world,” Byram said.
     She spoke about proposed Florida Senate Resolution 150, which is titled "Individual Liberty and Democracy," and is sponsored by Sen, Manny Diaz Jr. (R- Hialeah Gardens, Dist. 36).
     Byram mentioned that this resolution has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which Sen. Bradley is currently set to be appointed.
     The title of the resolution is "Renouncing democratic socialism in favor of the true American values of individual liberty and democracy."
     “This would be factually incorrect,” Byram said. “This past election cycle saw a lot of misinformation conflating socialism, an economic system, with dictatorship, a form of government. It appears that Sen. Diaz has written this resolution based on that misperception. The term ‘democratic socialism’ in fact refers to two separate things: a form of government – democracy - coupled with an economic system - socialism.
     “The resolution includes another error, Byram said. “I quote ‘in many nations that have relied upon democratic socialism to improve the lives of their citizens, the result has been economic and social chaos, an extraordinarily low standard of living for the vast majority, and the lack of individual freedoms for all,’ Byram continued.
     “In fact, there are no nations that are or have been democratic socialist,” Byram said. “Senator Diaz appears to be mistaking dictatorship—a form of government that exists in too many nations—with socialism—an economic system that does not fully exist in any country in the world.”
     The CEE said concluded believes that this resolution is misguided and would be an embarrassment to Florida if leaders should adopt it.
     Byram let Rep. Harding and Sen. Bradley know that the Citizens for an Engaged Electorate would welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue further with them.

 


Popeye's Is Progressing
popeyes in Williston Florida

popeyes in Williston Florida
These photos show the Popeye’s Chicken restaurant is progressing in Williston. The sign at the site shows the company is hiring.

Photo By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 14, 2020 at 5:10 p.m.

 


Boat traffic will be affected
due to demolition of old
C Street Bridge in Cedar Key

By Troy Roberts of FDOT
Published Oct. 24, 2020 at 6:10 p.m.
     CEDAR KEY –
Demolition is scheduled to begin next week on the old C Street Bridge in Cedar Key, weather and unforeseen circumstances permitting.
     Work is expected to begin on Tuesday, Oct. 27. The demolition of the old bridge is not expected to cause significant impact to vehicular traffic because motorists are using a temporary bridge to access Dock Street.
     Marine traffic under the bridge, however, will be affected. It is expected it will take approximately two weeks to demolish the bridge.
     Once demolition is completed, construction will begin on the new, permanent bridge.
     Replacement of the C Street Bridge began in November of 2019. The $6.7 million project is expected to be completed next year.

--UPDATED--
FRIDAY  JAN. 22  9:10 a.m.
Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties
 

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