December jobless rate
continues to fall

By Contact: Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion Communications Manager
Published Jan. 24, 2020 at 9:09 p.m.
     OCALA –
The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 3.4 percent in December 2019, down 0.1 percentage point over the month and 0.7 percentage point lower than the region’s rate a year ago.


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     The labor force was 202,249, an increase of 2,079. There were 6,833 unemployed in the region, a decrease of 219 since November.
     Compared to November 2019, the number of people working in the region fell by 1,236, but over the year employment increased by 3,547 when the unemployment rate was 4.9 percent.
     According to December’s preliminary jobs report released today by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Levy County maintained the lowest jobless rate in the region at 2.9 percent, down 0.1 percentage point over the month; Marion County followed with a rate is of 3.2 percent, a decrease of 0.1 percent; and Citrus County’s rate was 4.0 percent, 0.1 percentage point less than November 2019.
     Florida’s not seasonally adjusted jobless rate – a measure that matches the way local rates are calculated – is 2.5 percent, a decrease of 0.2 percentage points over the month and down from 3.3 percent a year ago.
     Here’s a snapshot of each county’s jobs numbers for December:
     Citrus County’s labor force dipped by 367 over the month to 47,721, the number of employed fell by 323 to 45,797 while the number of unemployed dropped by to 1,924. Compared to December 2018, when the jobless rate was 4.9 percent, the labor force has expanded by 157, there are 584 more employed and a decrease of 427 who are unemployed.
     Levy County’s labor force fell by 91 to 17,001, the number of those with jobs decreased by 64 to 16,507, and the number of unemployed dropped by 27 to 494. That’s an over-the-year increase of 143 in the labor force, 260 more working and drop of 117 unemployed compared to when the rate was 3.6 percent.
     Marion County’s labor force contracted by 997 to 137,527, the number of those with jobs dropped by 849 to 133,112 and the number of unemployed fell by 148 to 4,415. Compared to December 2018 when the rate was 3.9 percent, the labor force has expended by 1,779, there are 2,703 more employed and 924 fewer unemployed.
     Nonfarm employment in December 2019 for the Ocala/Marion County metropolitan statistical area was 108,600, an increase of 1,900 jobs over the year for a growth rate of 1.8 percent.
     The Homosassa Springs MSA’s nonfarm employment was 34,200, an increase of 300 new jobs over the year for a job growth rate of 0.9 percent.
     Industries that also grew faster in the Ocala metro than statewide over the year were manufacturing, 300 new jobs for a total of 9,000 jobs (+3.4 percent) and trade, transportation and utilities, an increase of 400 new jobs for a total of 25,600 (+1.6 percent).
     Education and health services also gained jobs over the year, with 700 new jobs for a total of 20,000 jobs (+3.6 percent); mining, logging, and construction adding 300 jobs for a total of 8,500 (+3.7 percent); manufacturing adding 300 jobs for a total of 9,000 (+3.4 percent); leisure and hospitality adding 300 jobs for a total of 13,100 (+2.3 percent); and government adding 100 jobs for a total of 15,300 (+0.7 percent).
     The information and professional business services industries, with 700 and 9,700 jobs respectively, were unchanged over the year.
     In December 2019, unemployment rates decreased in 51 of Florida’s 67 counties, increased in two and were unchanged in 14.
     Citrus County tied with Sumter County for the third highest rate; Marion County tied with Flagler, Glades, Madison and Calhoun counties with the 13th highest rate; and Levy County tied with DeSoto, Liberty, Suwannee, Taylor, and Volusia counties with the 25th highest rate.
     Among the metro areas, the Homosassa Springs/Citrus County MSA tied with The Villages for the highest rate and the Ocala MSA held with the fourth highest rate.
     Due to annual benchmarking that takes place next month, January’s preliminary employment summary will be released on March 16 and February’s report will be released March 27.

Military and overseas
mail ballots mailed for the
Presidential Preference Primary

Story By Assistant Levy County Supervisor of Elections Jordan Lindsey
Published Jan. 22, 2020 at 10:09 a.m.
     BRONSON –
Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones announced that 34 mail ballots were sent to military and overseas voters yesterday (Tuesday, Jan. 21) for the March 17 Presidential Preference Primary Election.

    As permitted by law, ballots were both mailed and emailed to military and overseas voters.
    Voters wishing to have a mail ballot sent to them must place their request by 5 p.m. on March 7.
    Voters can track the status of their mail ballot through the Supervisor of Elections website at
For more information, or to request a mail ballot, please visit or call 352-486-5163.


Don’t Play Politics
With Your Portfolio

Published Jan. 20, 2020 at 8:09 a.m.
     NEWBERRY --
You’re probably aware this is an election year.
     During the next several months, the candidates will discuss issues that should greatly interest you as a citizen. But as an investor, how concerned should you be with the results of the presidential and congressional elections?
     Maybe not as much as you might think. At different times, the financial markets have performed well and poorly under different administrations and when different parties have controlled Congress. And after all the votes are counted, outcomes in the investment markets can be unpredictable. Consequently, you’ll be helping yourself greatly by not making big moves in your portfolio in anticipation of new legislation or political moves down the line.
     Of course, that’s not to say that nothing emerging from Washington could ever have an impact on your investment decisions. For example, if a future president and Congress decide to change the capital gains tax rate, it could affect some of your choices, such as which stocks and stock-based mutual funds you should buy, and how long you should hold them.
     Overall, though, your investment results will ultimately depend on actions you can take, including these:
     • Making changes for the right reasons – While the results of an election may not be a good reason to make changes in your investment portfolio, other factors can certainly lead you to take steps in this direction. For one thing, as you get closer to retirement, you may want to shift some – though certainly not all – of your investment dollars from more growth-oriented vehicles to more conservative ones. Conversely, if you decide, well in advance, that you might want to retire earlier than you originally thought, you may need to invest more aggressively, being aware of the increased risk involved.
     • Following a long-term strategy – In pretty much all walks of life, there are no shortcuts to success – and the same is true with investing. You need to follow a long-term strategy based on your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon, and you need the patience and perseverance to keep investing in all markets – up, down and sideways.
     • Avoiding mistakes – Many people think of an investment mistake as failing to “get in on the ground floor” of some company that ultimately grew to huge proportions. But it’s pretty hard to become an early investor in companies like these, many of which start out as privately held businesses without any stockholders. Furthermore, companies with shorter track records can be much more unpredictable investments. However, you do want to avoid some real mistakes, such as chasing “hot” stocks. By the time you hear about them, they may already be cooling off, and they might not even be appropriate for your needs. Another mistake: failing to diversify your portfolio. If you only own one type of asset, such as growth stocks, you could take a big hit during a market downturn. Spreading your dollars over a wide range of investments can help lower your risk exposure. (However, diversification by itself can’t guarantee a profit or protect against all losses.)
     After Election Day, regardless of the outcome, you can help keep your portfolio on track by not playing politics with it.  
     PUBLISHER’S NOTE: This article was written by Edward Jones for use by Edward Jones Financial Advisor - Sheila K. Smith, 25349 W. Newberry Road, in Newberry. Phone 352-472-2776.

Publisher joins other 
entrepreneurs noted by FLVEC

By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 16, 2020 at 9:09 a.m.
Jeff M. Hardison, the founder, sole proprietor and publisher of was recently interviewed by Florida Virtual Entrepreneur Center (FLVEC) Program Manager Chris Steffen.
Jeff M. Hardison owner of


Jeff M. Hardison
Photo Provided


     Steffen’s story is published at
     FLVEC is powered by The Corridor, a regional economic development initiative of the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida and the University of Florida.
     As noted by USF, “Over the past 20 years, USF has transitioned into a major research institution and was designated a ‘Preeminent State Research University’ by the Florida Board of Governors in June of 2018, one of only three in the state. Today, USF is one of 56 public research universities nationwide classified as both a Doctoral University with ‘Highest Research Activity’ and as a ‘Community Engaged’ institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.” 
     Click HERE to read more about The Corridor.
     “I think this young man did a relatively good job in writing a story after interviewing me,” Hardison said. “This endeavor, partially underwritten by the Nature Coast Business Development Council, helps strengthen Levy County’s and Florida’s spirit for enterprisers in my opinion.”
     The multiple award-winning journalist said he is thankful to God for all things, including the gifts of life, liberty and the placement in the whole space-time continuum to experience all that he has experienced.
     “Really, there is enough material from the ‘Life of Jeff’ to create a series of books,” Hardison said. “I’m guessing I could write them. I’m no Carl Hiaasen, though, and while there are a zillion interesting behind-the-scenes stories, not all of them can be told. Not every aspect of all of my adventures should be told; and some will never see the light of publication or of utterance.
     “Beyond all that secret squirrel stuff,” Hardison said, “I feel like I can help the most people by providing a daily news website that is starting its tenth year on Feb. 1. Meanwhile, this young man who wrote a story about me did a good job.”
     The publisher said he thinks continuing as the owner of is the best management practice for his business of providing the public with information, and helping to educate and entertain them.
     “As for me,” the businessman said, “my current expansion model is simply to let more interests advertise with me so that I can help their ventures in life. As for the Nature Coast Business Development Council, I think Executive Director David Pieklik has found an excellent set of people to volunteer as its board of directors. Likewise, Pieklik is carrying forward work that was established by wonderful Levy County people from the past.
     “The current NCBDC is an evolution from an organization I saw that had been formed even before my feet crossed the first threshold in Levy County as a resident here 14 years ago,” Hardison said. “In regard to the article about me published by the FLVEC, there is a message I hope investors see. When going forth with enterprises, let the results of helping other humans outweigh the results of simple increased personal revenue.
     “I told Steffen a story about me in a public speaking class at St. Petersburg Jr. College in the 1970s,” Hardison said. “Our professor favored greed over altruism. He had us students form two groups to conduct research for a debate. I led the altruism group. We won, despite his predilection for selfishness rather than a practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the wellbeing of others.”
     Taking the message one step beyond that, Hardison said he knows love is the better choice over hate.
     “I do have a million sayings,” Hardison added. “Some are hyperbole, like that one about having a million sayings. Some are funny, but based on safety. For instance, if I am driving a car at the posted speed limit on a two-lane road in the fog, and you go to pass me as I notice oncoming traffic, I might say under my breath ‘Don’t splatter your blood on my car.’ Certainly, some other folks might yell expletives and create a hand gesture that is relatively offensive from my perspective. Oh well, go figure. Onward through the fog.”


Fla. Electric Cooperatives Assn.
issues statement regarding
Florida Supreme Court ruling

By Amanda Bevis, FECA Spokesperson
Published Jan. 15, 2020 at 12:09 a.m.
In response to the unanimous opinion issued Thursday (Jan. 9) by the Florida Supreme Court on the proposed energy amendment, the Florida Electric Cooperatives Association (FECA) issued the following statement:
     "Today, the Florida Supreme Court – in denying the energy reregulation amendment from the ballot – made the right choice for our state and for the consumer-members of Florida’s electric cooperatives," said Amanda Bevis, spokesperson for FECA.
     "Our top priorities are to provide safe, reliable and affordable electricity, and to protect the consumer-members we serve. Given the immediate and inescapable consequences this amendment would have had on our consumer-members, we were compelled to fight for their interests before the Florida Supreme Court.
     "While Florida won this battle, the special interests behind the scheme are unlikely to surrender. It appears they are dead set on bringing the Texas model to Florida.
     "We, however, do not support reregulating Florida’s energy market. We will not fall for a model that led to an energy crisis in Texas last summer, where energy supply reserves fell to record lows, and prices spiked to record highs, soaring past $9,000/MWh. In contrast, during the same period, prices in Florida ranged from $40/MWh to $45/MWh.
     "Here in Florida, electric cooperatives will continue to provide safe, reliable and affordable electricity to more than 2 million Floridians, and we’ll continue to fight for our consumer-members."
     The Florida Supreme Court's opinion is the response to a request by Attorney General Ashley Moody to review whether the text of the proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution, titled "Right to Competitive Energy Market for Customers of Investor-Owned Utilities; Allowing Energy Choice," complies with Florida law.
     The Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments on August 28, 2019, during which attorneys representing the Florida Electric Cooperatives Association outlined the false claims made by the energy amendment's ballot summary and articulated the immediate and inescapable consequences the amendment would have on the 2.4 million Floridians who are consumer-members of electric cooperatives.
     Florida’s electric cooperatives deliver safe, affordable and reliable electricity to their communities. Cooperatives are not-for-profit. They are owned by their consumer-members, and decisions are  member-driven.
     Florida’s electric cooperatives contributed more than $11.6 billion to the economy during a five-year period, 2013 to 2017, and support more than 15,000 jobs per-year on average for Florida families.
     FECA represents 15 electric distribution cooperatives and two generation and transmission cooperatives, serving approximately 2.4 million Floridians. For more information about FECA, including a list of its members, visit    


Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nicole Fried
Florida Dept. of Agriculture
Commissioner Nikki Fried
comments on USDA's
Fla. Citrus Production Update

By FDAC Office of Communications
Sent Jan. 10, 2020 at 3:37 p.m.
Published Jan. 12, 2020 at 8:09 a.m.
The United States. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service has released an updated Florida citrus production estimate for the 2019-2020 crop year, forecasting a 10 percent increase for Florida grapefruit and predicting that Florida orange production will hold steady at 74 million boxes.
     Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried offered the following statement:
     “Today’s (Friday, Jan. 10) updated citrus forecast is encouraging – it’s a direct result of the fortitude of Florida citrus growers who have faced natural disasters, citrus greening, and other obstacles, but continue working hard to produce our state’s signature crop. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services remains committed to working with industry partners like the Florida Department of Citrus and Florida Citrus Mutual to promote and protect this long-standing industry. We will continue to work together in pursuit of new technology and research, and innovative techniques to support Florida-grown citrus.”
     Florida grapefruit production is expected to climb to 5.4 million boxes for the 2019-2020 season, according to the USDA research. Overall, the figures represent a 3 percent growth for oranges and a 20 percent increase for grapefruit over the 2018-19 crop year, according to the USDA research.
     Commissioner Fried has been a strong supporter of the citrus industry and has proposed significant citrus funding in this year’s budget request. This includes $8 million for citrus research projects, $7.4 million for citrus health and fighting pests and diseases, and $2.5 million to support the Citrus Inspection Trust Fund.
     Fried also helped establish a state direct support agency to manage the new Citrus Research and Field Trials (CRAFT) program, which will plant 5,000 new acres of citrus groves using experimental techniques.


Tri-County crop update
and pesticide training
scheduled for Jan. 30

Information Provided
By Kristen Brault Administrative Support Assistant II
UF/IFAS Levy County Extension
Published Dec. 20, 2019 at 3:59 p.m.
Updated Jan. 12, 2020 at 8:09 a.m.
The UF/IFAS Extension annual production meeting for area row crop farmers will highlight current research findings and topics relevant to region’s largest economic driver.
     Topics will cover crop protection options, fertilizer/ nutrient stewardship, water resource conservation and pesticide safety. In addition to information on these important topics, participants will also receive continuing education units (CEUs) for both FDACS restricted pesticide licenses and Certified Crop Advisor certifications.
     There is a $5 registration fee for this event.
     Registration for this event will be managed through Eventbrite. Click HERE to register.
     The event is scheduled to be at the Suwannee River Fairgrounds, in the City of Fanning Springs, on Jan. 30, Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
     For more information contact the UF/ IFAS Extension, Levy County office at 352-486-5131 or


Rocket Lights The Sky;
Improved Internet Access Anticipated
Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 7, 2020 at 12:09 p.m.

This video was made using a handheld camera with a 300 millimeter lens. The still shots are taken from the video.


Rocket Launch Starlnk

Rocket Launch Starlnk

Rocket Launch Starlnk


     The Monday night (Jan. 6) launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center at 9:19 p.m. moved the world closer to more and better Internet service. Elon Musk and SpaceX intend to provide high speed internet access across the globe.
     The above still shots and video were recorded from a hayfield in Levy County adjacent to The Ink Pad, which is located in the unrecorded subdivision known as Jemlands.
     Starlink is targeting service in the Northern United States and Canada in 2020, rapidly expanding to near global coverage of the populated world by 2021.
     With performance that far surpasses that of traditional satellite Internet service, and a global network unbounded by ground infrastructure limitations – such as cable in the ground or hanging on poles, Starlink is planned to deliver high speed broadband Internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable – such as in some parts of rural Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties.
     Falcon has landed! SpaceX confirmed last night (Monday, Jan. 7) that the Falcon 9 booster has safely landed on the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean, according to a space-oriented magazine on the East Coast of Florida.
     This marks the 48th successful recovery of a Falcon 9 first stage. This launch was Falcon 9’s third launch of 60 Starlink satellites. SpaceX aims to launch 30 times this year.
     As for this particular launch viewed from a neighbor’s hayfield on Monday night, Sharon Hardison joined Jeff Hardison for the viewing. The moon was about half full and it was in the 40-degree Fahrenheit range with clear skies and no breeze. There were no crickets or coyotes heard during the 20-minute launch viewing party in the hayfield. No other people or animals were in close proximity.


New hemp rules effective Jan. 1
By Communications Office of Commissioner Nikki Fried
Sent Jan. 6, 2010 at 4:34p.m.
Published Jan. 6, 2010 at 8:09 p.m.
Last Wednesday (Jan. 1), food safety and animal feed rules for the new state hemp program under the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) went into effect.
     Regulations on hemp extract used in food and dairy products and animal feed have been incorporated into existing FDACS programs, hemp food establishment permits are available, and the Department’s Food Safety Inspectors are ready to conduct inspections.
      “We’re proud to roll out these final rules for CBD in food and dairy products, open applications for hemp food establishment permits, and ensure our inspectors are ready to enforce the rules and uphold public safety,” shared Commissioner Nikki Fried. “These actions bring us one step closer to getting the state hemp program up and running to provide a new alternative crop for farmers, allow Floridians to access safe, quality CBD products, and help our state reach its potential as the nation’s gold standard for hemp.”
     As the state regulator for animal feed, food establishments, and the safety of dairy and other food products, FDACS has incorporated the regulation of hemp extract products into the existing regulatory framework to ensure the safety of these new products. Permits are not limited in any part of the process. The state hemp program is horizontally integrated — created with intention to allow any interested parties to participate in any aspects of the process.
      “The Florida Hemp Council is very pleased to see the hard work of Commissioner Fried’s team,” stated Jeff Greene, Director of New Business with The Florida Hemp Council. “Without their dedication and hard work, Florida would still be waiting and with the final steps only weeks away we are confident the industry will pick up the ball and run with it.”
Hemp Food Safety
     To protect the state’s food supply, FDACS’ Division of Food Safety oversees the permitting and inspection of food establishments, inspection and evaluation of food and dairy products, and specialized laboratory testing on a variety of products sold and/or produced in Florida. Effective January 1, 2020, hemp extract (CBD intended for ingestion) has been incorporated into existing Division of Food Safety programs. For more on food safety, visit the FDACS website.
Hemp Food Establishment Permit
     FDACS’ Division of Food Safety issues food permits for the manufacturing, processing, packing, holding, preparing or selling food. Effective January 1, 2020, hemp food establishment permits are available for processing, manufacturing, distributing, and retailing facilities dealing with products consisting of or containing hemp extract and CBD. For more information and to learn how to apply for a food permit, visit the FDACS website.
Hemp Food Establishment Inspections
     To minimize the risk of foodborne illness, FDACS’ Division of Food Safety conducts routine inspections of food establishments including supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, food processing plants, food warehouses, and more. Effective Jan. 1, FDACS Food Safety Inspectors are ready to conduct food establishment inspections, enforce rules and pull samples for testing for the hemp program.
Animal Feed Rules
     FDACS’ Division of Agricultural Environmental Services regulates the state’s commercial feed supply. Commercial feed distributors must be licensed annually submit a copy of the label for each brand of feed to be distributed. Samples of distributed feed must be periodically tested by a certified laboratory to determine compliance with state standards. For more on animal feed regulation, visit the FDACS website.
     Effective Jan. 1, hemp extract in animal feed has been incorporated into existing Division of Agricultural Environmental Services programs. Permitting, testing, and enforcement for processing, manufacturing, distributing and retailing hemp extract in animal feed is available January 2, 2020.
Final Stages of Hemp Rules
     The seed and cultivation rules are being finalized before being filed for adoption — both are expected to be filed for adoption in early 2020. Once these rules have been adopted, submitted to and approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), all aspects of the state hemp program’s regulations will be complete.
     The cultivation rule is slightly delayed due to a need to align the Florida Cultivation Rule with the USDA’s final interim rules, which were released on Oct. 31, 2019. FDACS still expects cultivation to happen in the first quarter of 2020. Visit to read more about the state hemp program rules.


2019 numbers show
daily news website
continues with strength;

Website is ‘Keeping It Fine In Year Nine’
‘Here’s to 10 Years’ starts Feb. 1


By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 1, 2020 at 10:09 a.m.
     THE WORLD –, the daily news website that continues in its ninth year, showed an impressive record of unique visitors, number of visits, pages viewed and hits during 2019.
     The daily news website continues showing traffic that is attractive to advertisers, and it starts its 10th year of existence on Feb. 1.
     Here is a review of website traffic during 2019 from data collected from two, independent, third-party robotic website traffic monitoring programs – Google Analytics and cPanel.
     Following are the monthly averages for 2019:

2019 Monthly Averages

Unique Visitors -- 11,204

Number of Visits -- 27,293

Pages Viewed -- 103,257

Hits -- 1,261,331 (about 1.3 million)

    The 2018 monthly average of 1.3 million hits remained stable, as did the measures across the various realms, according to the independent third-party robotic measuring devices.
     Upon learning of the latest figures and completing the relatively easy math to see averages for 2019’s months, Jeff M. 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 tenth year of existence, starting on Feb. 1 of this year.
     The numbers for December of 2019 are shown in the graphic at the top of this story.

     The first gauge reflects Unique Visitors. defines unique visitor as "a person who visits a website more than once within a specified period of time."
     Software used for this report can distinguish between visitors who only visit the site once and unique visitors -- who return to the site.
     The unique visitor is different from a site's hits or page views -- which are measured by the number of files that are requested from a site. Unique visitors are measured according to their unique Internet Protocol addresses, which are like online fingerprints, and unique visitors are counted only once no matter how many times they visit the site after they have visited it twice.
     “I continue looking forward to every second in 2020,” Hardison said. “As never breaks stride in its coming tenth year of existence, the theme in that 12-month span will be “Here’s To 10 Years.”
    The December total of unique visitors 11,014.
     “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 December monthly amount of computer addresses visiting the daily news website each month, I am confident and proud to sell ads at the same rate that was good when there were only 800 a month. We have not increased the cost for our advertisers who sponsor the daily news website. Well, the short-term advertisers are paying more, but the annual ads are the same. As for the national ads at the bottom of the pages, that varies by traffic and is through my broker for those ads.”
     Another measure of traffic is the number of visits.
     In December, the number was 26,270 visits.
     Pages Viewed shows how many different pages the visitors looked at. This website has the Home Page, Police Page, Calendar Page, Business Page, Community Page, Life Page and the Leisure Page.
     The monthly total pages viewed in December was 102,808. There are ads on each page, and the readers see those ads.
     The December total of hits was about 1.5 million, which is higher than the monthly average of 1.3 million for 2019.
     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 progress and grow each year.
     “These figures mean there are a lot of people each day who use as a source for information,” Hardison said. “And they return daily. If your product or service is better than the competitors’ products and services, then you will have better odds of being the manufacturer, farmer or service provider of first choice in any market.” continues to provide readers, viewers and listeners (yes, the videos on have sound) 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 on occasion.
     People know there are no bounds for where coverage will go.
     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.
     “There is an intangible result,” Hardison said. “A free press serves a free society. This is a cornerstone of American democracy. The benefits to local communities from this broader truth are not calculable so much on raw dollars as they are in the spirit of America.” has the Weather Bug on the Home Page for all current weather and forecasting needs, including radar and Weather Alerts. It has columns for quilt reports, Christian devotionals and more. provides state news on the BUSINESS PAGE and other pages on occasion when it is merited. And there have been national and international stories on other pages, including the HOME PAGE and POLICE PAGE.
     The Florida native said his wife is a vital part of the reason for such a high success rate for the website.
     "I can't say enough about my wife Sharon Hardison," Jeff Hardison said. "She does so much for me, that it is incredible. Sharon is the graphic artist who does most of the ads. She is my bookkeeper who provides information to my accountant, too. One thing I need to bring people's attention to is our archive page. Go to any of the seven pages and find the ad for the archive page on the bottom right column and click on it.
     "A new window will open." he continued. "Just go to the month you want and scroll down. If you see a link that looks interesting, click on it. The newest addition is a direct link to all of the videos that have been published. CHECK OUT OUR VIDEOS on If you see any video you want to watch, click on it.”
     ADVERTISEMENT KEEPS IT GOING is visible for free to anyone who can see pages on the Internet. Therefore, people all over the world – and in the International Space Station – can view it.
     This site is subscription-free entirely because of its sponsors. Not only do advertisers help the people in the world (and astronauts in space) see Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, but those business interests enjoy the most exposure for the least ad dollars spent.
     "We don't put up winky-blinky ads or pop-ups in our local ads," Hardison said. "Our local ads don't move around by the minute. And I promote our local advertisers in other places in addition to" is the best daily news site that covers Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties (and beyond). is the best place to spend dollars on advertising for any person selling anything to the people of the world, because people all over the world see it.


November jobless rate
dips slightly for
Citrus Levy and Marion counties

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Dec. 20, 2019 at 4:09 p.m.
* Updated Jan. 22, 2020 at 11:09 a.m
     OCALA –
The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 3.5 percent in November, down 0.1 percentage point over the month and 0.6 percentage point lower than the same time last year.
     Over the year, the region’s labor force expanded by 2,586 to 203,683, the number of those with jobs increased by 3,831 to 196,634 and those unemployed fell by 1,245 to 7,049.
     According to November’s preliminary jobs report released today by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Levy County continues to hold the lowest jobless rate in the region at 3.0 percent, down 0.2 percentage point over the month; followed by Marion County with a rate of 3.3 percent, a drop of 0.1 percentage point compared to October; and Citrus County’s rate of 4.1 percent was unchanged over the month.
     Florida’s not seasonally adjusted jobless rate – a measure that matches the way local rates are calculated – is 2.7 percent, a decrease of 0.2 percentage point over the month and down from 3.3 percent a year ago.
     DEO reported that the state’s seasonally adjusted rate of 3.1 percent is an historic low, recorded only twice in 40 years and the first since March 2006.
While over-the-year indicators look strong, the size of the labor force and the number of those working fell slightly across the region.
     Rusty Skinner, CareerSource CLM’s CEO, cautioned that comparing numbers from month-to-month, which can be impacted by seasonal factors, does not provide as clear a picture of economic recovery as comparing the same month from the previous year.
     “Looking at it from a business-cycle perspective is much more accurate,” Skinner said, adding that the data released today is preliminary.”
     In November, Citrus County’s labor force dipped by 452 over the month to 48,116, the number of employed fell by 412 to 46,150 while the number of unemployed dropped by to 1,966. Compared to November 2018, when the jobless rate was 4.8 percent, the labor force has expanded by 253, there are 604 more employed and a decrease of 351 who are unemployed. 
     Levy County’s labor force expanded by fell by 199 to 17,100, the number of those with jobs decreased by 175 to 16,579, and the number of unemployed dropped by 24 to 521. That’s an over-the-year increase of 102 in the labor force, 193 more working and drop of 91 unemployed compared to when the rate was 3.6 percent.
     Marion County’s labor force contracted by 1,082 to 138,467, the number of those with jobs dropped by 899 to 133,905 and the number of unemployed fell by 78 to 4,562. Compared to November 2018 when the rate was 3.9 percent, the labor force has expended by 2,231, there are 3,034 more employed and 803 fewer unemployed.
     Nonfarm employment in November 2019 for the Ocala/Marion County metropolitan statistical area was 108,900, an increase of 2,400 jobs over the year for a growth rate of 2.5 percent.
     The Homosassa Springs MSA’s nonfarm employment was 34,400, an increase of 400 new jobs over the year for a job growth rate of 1.2 percent.
     The Ocala MSA continued to hold the third fastest annual job growth rate compared to all other metro areas in the state in education and health services at 5.2 percent, adding 1,000 new jobs for a total of 20,100, and “other” services at 3.6 percent with 100 new jobs for a total of 2,900.
     Industries that also grew faster in the Ocala metro than statewide over the year were mining, logging and construction, an increase of 500 jobs for a total of 8,600 jobs for (+6.2 percent); manufacturing, 300 new jobs for a total of 9,000 jobs (+3.4 percent); leisure and hospitality, adding 400 jobs for a total of 13,200 (+3.1 percent); and trade, transportation and utilities, an increase of 500 new jobs for a total of 25,500 (+2.0 percent).
     Professional and business services also gained jobs over the year, with 100 new jobs for a total of 9,900 jobs (+1.0 percent).
     The information and financial activities industries, with 700 and 3,900 jobs respectively, were unchanged over the year while government lost 200 jobs for a total of 15,000 (-1.3 percent).
     Citrus County tied with Sumter County for the third highest rate; Marion County tied with Dixie, Flagler, Glades and Madison counties with the 12th highest rate; and Levy County tied with Gilchrist, Liberty, Taylor and Volusia counties with the 24th highest rate.
     Among the metro areas, the Homosassa Springs/Citrus County MSA tied with The Villages for the highest rate and the Ocala MSA held with the fourth highest rate.
     * The region’s employment summary for December is scheduled to be released on Friday, Jan. 24.


Business owner threatens
to move pizza shop
from Williston to another city

By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 19, 2019 at 6:09 p.m.
Bobby Brown, the former owner of King Munchie's Pizza, said he will shut down Sirius Pizza and move it to Bronson or Trenton if the City of Williston persists in demanding more money for its utility deposit.
     During the Williston City Council meeting on Tuesday night (Dec. 17), the City Council agreed to put this on the Jan. 7 meeting agenda for further discussion and possible action.
     Meanwhile, a Dec. 5 letter from the city addressed “To Whom It May Concern” noted the business utility account opened in May of 2019.
     As a result of an ordinance adopted in 2011, after the first six months of a commercial utility account, the city reevaluates the initial deposit to determine if more is needed. The $200 deposit placed when Sirius Pizza opened, must now have another $1,600 added as a deposit.
     Discussion during the meeting Tuesday night reveals the two months’ average amount of a utility bill is required as a result of the city losing so much money in the past from business interests that skipped out on bills when they closed.
     Sirius Pizza is managed by David Coffin and his wife, Kristen, who is the daughter of Brown.
     On Tuesday night, Brown said the Williston Middle High School students who he hires as workers will lose their jobs when he moves the restaurant to Bronson or Trenton. He said those students’ parents will not be happy when it comes time to choose who leads the City of Williston in the next election.
     Sirius Pizza is the company that donates pizzas, too, to each Student of the Month in Williston.
     Located at 110 N.E. Sixth Ave. in Williston, Sirius Pizza also serves sandwiches, pastas and desserts. It is open 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. every day but Sunday.
     While Brown was clearly bothered that the city is demanding more of a deposit on his commercial utility account, some city leaders alleged this has been the city’s practice since the adoption of the ordinance. Some city leaders did not seem aware of the practice.
     City Manager Scott Lippmann promised to review other business accounts to assure this has been a practice applied across-the-board for new business interests with accounts that opened after the revised ordinance.
     Mayor Jerry Robinson suggested the city amend its practice to have a set deposit for commercial or industrial accounts rather than to review bills after a business has been established for six months, and then charging the business a deposit to equal what would be two months’ worth of the average monthly utility payment.
     Williston Utilities Director C.J. Zimoski mentioned that Gainesville Regional Utilities exercises a similar practice as this. One Williston resident questioned if Bronson does this; however, unlike Williston, Bronson is not the electric service provider. Also, Bronson has far fewer business interests than Williston.
     As Mayor Robinson said, “Williston is not Bronson.”
     Meanwhile, this matter is set for some a potential resolution at the Jan. 7 meeting. Brown said he chose to open Sirius Pizza in Williston for his daughter, however if the city holds fast to its security deposit demand, he can move it another city.


Phoenix Rising YouthBuild
rises again,
receives third federal grant

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Director of Communications
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Dec. 18, 2019 at 6:09 a.m.
The nationally-acclaimed Phoenix Rising YouthBuild program has received its third federally funded YouthBuild grant to provide at-risk young adults with education and occupational skill development to obtain employment in construction and other in-demand industries.
     The US Department of Labor announced Monday the award of 67 grants across 28 states totaling up to $85 million to support and expand YouthBuild programs throughout the country.
     CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion received $740,737 to assist with the local program, one of only two such grants awarded in Florida. The other is Tampa Bay Academy of Hope which received $1.5 million. 
     Phoenix Rising YouthBuild is an alternative education, community-based program that helps revitalize economically challenged neighborhoods while making a positive difference in the lives of at-risk 16- to 24-year olds.
     YouthBuild is a pre-apprenticeship, competitive grant program funded by the US DOL’s Employment and Training Administration. This is the third YouthBuild grant obtained since 2013 by CareerSource CLM in support of the program; to date, it has received $2.63 million.
     Dale French, CareerSource CLM’s director of operations, said “We are pleased to be recognized for being a high-performing YouthBuild program. The opportunity to receive continued funding speaks volumes for our staff and partners that make this program happen.”
     Enrollment will begin in early spring for the next round of projects. Those interested in applying for the program or learning more should call 352-732-1700, ext. 2293 or 800-434-JOBS, ext. 2293.
     Through Phoenix Rising YouthBuild, students split their time between the vocational training work site and the classroom, where they earn their high school diploma, learn to be community leaders, and prepare for postsecondary training opportunities, including college, apprenticeships, and employment. The program also includes significant support systems, such as a mentoring, follow-up education, employment, and personal counseling services as well as participation in community service and civic engagement.
     A key feature of the program involves construction of homes for deserving families in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Marion County.
     The grant will serve 48 young adults over 24 months, resulting in the construction of four homes in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. It begins Jan. 1, 2020 and runs through April 30, 2022.
     To date, 229 students have taken part in Phoenix Rising programs in Marion and Citrus counties, completing construction of 34 homes. Those include the 15 who graduated today from Marion County’s 10th Phoenix Rising YouthBuild.
     Phoenix Rising was spearheaded here in 2010 by then Ocala Police Chief Sam Williams. Pilot partners included the Ocala Police Department, Habitat for Humanity of Marion County, and CareerSource CLM and its young adult services provider, Eckerd Connects Workforce Development.
     Phoenix Rising YouthBuild has become a national model of what communities can build when working together. It has earned recognition from the Florida League of Cities, National League of Cities, Harvard’s School of Business, and has received Habitat for Humanity International’s highest honor, the Clarence E. Jordan Award for creativity and innovation in building homes and communities.


Chiefland businesses donate
bake sale proceeds to Haven

Haven Donors
(front row) CFEC employees Kathy Baker, Connie Ward, Kayla Cooper and Karen Mowrey, and (back row) Haven Volunteer Coordinator Vondla Sullivan and CFEC employees Alison DeLoach, George Buckner, Tim Reidy and Madison Redd.

Story and Photos
Provided By Haven Marketing and Communications
Published Dec. 18, 2019 at 7:49 a.m.
Central Florida Electric Cooperative (CFEC) and Drummond Community Bank recently donated the proceeds of their respective holiday bake sales to Haven.
     Haven Hospice is the former name of Haven.
     CFEC, which raised $3,735 for Haven this year, has been holding a cake auction at their annual “family fish fry” for 12 years. “Haven Hospice is a family-oriented and value-driven organization that benefits the people of the tri-county area,” CFEC Communications Specialist Alison DeLoach said. “CFEC decided to give to Haven because of the help and service it provides to many of our members. We are happy to give to an organization like Haven Hospice that shows care and compassion to the many families they serve.”

Haven Donors
Haven Vice President of Development Sharon Jones and Drummond Community Bank employees Tonya Sullivan, Katie Bullock and Ben Lott.

     Drummond Community Bank also donated their annual bake sale proceeds to Haven this year, totaling $1,580. This was the bank’s 15th annual bake sale for Haven; they are held on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Drummond Community Bank Vice President Ben Lott said the Chiefland community has a lot of people that cook and bake really well, and that they love doing it for Haven.
     “Our customers spend their time and resources to bake for this each year. It’s fun to get people involved and it’s often like a reunion,” Lott said. “Many of our long-time customers bake their famous recipes and customers and employees buy the baked goods.”
     Lott said Drummond Community Bank is proud to donate to Haven, an essential resource in the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties.


East Coast rocket launch
seen from West Coast hayfield

Rocket Launch

Rocket Launch

Rocket Launch
These are some still shots taken from the video of the East Coast rocket launch as seen from the West Coast of Florida. Notice the one shot where the round light from the rocket (bottom of picture) is seen in juxtaposition to the round blue light (top of picture) from an object much farther out in space.

Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 17, 2019 at 11:09 a.m.
All Copyrights Protected
     JEMLANDS --
From a hayfield owned by a friendly neighbor -- next to The Ink Pad in the unrecorded Levy County subdivision known as Jemlands, a sole videographer sat in the dark for about 30 minutes Monday night.

In this one-minute and 45-second video, the rocket is seen from the hayfield. This is through a 300-millimeter lens being held by hand by a man sitting in a lawn chair in the middle of a big hayfield in dark, surrounded by thick fog that goes from the ground up for about 20 feet.

     Jeff M. Hardison, 63, a Florida native and longtime rocket-launch observer, said he almost went to one of the East Coast counties to have a better view of the SpaceX launch on Monday evening. However, there was a need for him to remain in the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties.
     "Last night proved to be a success for me being able to see the rocket in the air," Hardison said. "However, there were some pre-launch moments of concern and a surprise."
     Sitting in the open field from 6:45 p.m. to prepare for the planned 7:10 p.m. launch, the photographer noticed a low and dense fog rolling in from the south. Within 10 minutes he was surrounded by the thick mist.
     "I wondered if it was going to fog up the lens," Hardison said. "I cleaned the lens and then capped it. Mrs. Hardison was in The Ink Pad and she had a powerful flashlight to signal me when the launch happened, which she would know by monitoring a site on her cell phone."
     As he was sitting in the dark, listening to a neighbor's dog barking and crickets chirping, the journalist felt something rub against his leg.
     "My immediate kneejerk response was to move my leg relatively quickly to push the animal away from my leg," Hardison said. "I turned on my flashlight and saw it was Needles the community cat of Jemlands. I called to him, but he seemed rather offended that I pushed him away rather than leaning over and petting him.
     "Hey, it was pitch black," he continued. "I was in the middle of a hayfield where I have seen all kinds of animals. I'm just glad it wasn't a skunk, or that really would have been a bad scene."
     SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket and commercial communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Monday night (Dec. 16), as scheduled at 7:10 p.m.
     The orange ball turned into an orange line in the sky as it appeared to fly more east. It was visible as a white dot in the sky long after the digital video camera could record it.
     This Falcon 9 rocket put up the JCSAT-18 / Kacific-1 communications satellite. That machine now floating in space around the Earth is scheduled to provide communications coverage for Asia and the Pacific.

Needles the Levy County cat
Needles the community cat of Jemlands prepares to launch into the hayfield, where he will startle his favorite videographer. The cat’s plan to join the human in the field was unknown at the time of this photo.

     Needles the community cat re-approached the man he knows as a food and water source, as well as being one of very few humans this cat will let pick up or pet.
     The journalist picked up his chair, and returned it to the yard, and was followed by a friendly community cat. The man then went inside and watched on his wife's cell phone as SpaceX recovered the rocket's first stage on SpaceX's "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship.
     The couple heard the announcement on that broadcast that this was the 47th successful landing by a rocket on a ship since the first one by SpaceX in December of 2015.
     Despite the low and thick fog in the hayfield, the lone spectator there had a clear view of the rocket’s fiery plume.
     The next planned launch is by Boeing and United Launch Alliance (who hosted the journalist within the past few years on the East Coast at another launch). This rocket is set to launch a Starliner capsule on an Atlas V rocket from Launch Complex 41 at 6:36 a.m. Friday (Dec. 20). The Starliner is built to hold astronauts, but this launch is unmanned.
     The mission set for Dec. 20 is titled Orbital Flight Test. It is scheduled to demonstrate the capsule's capabilities to carry astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's ongoing programs in space.


Working Aquaculture
Commercial Fishing Cedar Key Florida
This working member of the aquaculture community has just launched from a boat ramp in Cedar Key on Thursday afternoon (Dec. 12). Florida provides many people with several types of seafood such as clams, oysters, fish, crabs and other delights from the deep. Not only are jobs generated from harvesting this food source, but other spinoff jobs result from boat manufacturing to seafood dining, and beyond.

Photo By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 12, 2019 at 8:39 p.m.

FRIDAY  Jan. 24  9:09 p.m.
Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties

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