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Be Alert For Opportunities
When Preparing
For College Costs

Published Aug. 19, 2019 at 4:39 p.m.
     NEWBERRY --
Now that summer is winding down, it is “back-to-school” time.

 

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CareerSource Citrus Marion Levy  HardisonInk.com


     When children are young, your logistics for the new academic year may involve little more than a trip to buy school supplies. But if you’d like to send your kids (or grandkids) to college someday, you need to plan far ahead to meet the financial demands. And, as part of your planning, you also need to be on the lookout for all opportunities to help pay those sizable college bills.
     Specifically, you’ll need to be ready to take action in these areas:
     • Financial aid – You should start thinking about financial aid at least a year before your child heads off to college. For example, you can begin submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on Oct. 1, 2019, for the 2020-21 academic year. And if the past is any guide, you’ll always need to remember that Oct. 1 date for the next school year. The FAFSA helps colleges and the U.S. Department of Education evaluate your financial need and determine how much financial support your child requires. And since a lot of financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, it’s a good idea to submit your forms as soon as possible once the application period opens.
     • Scholarships – Colleges and universities offer their own scholarships, but you’re not limited to them. In fact, you might be surprised at the number and variety of college scholarships available to your child or grandchild – but to find them, you may need to do some digging. Find out what’s offered from foundations, religious, ethnic or community organizations, local businesses and civic groups. Also, ask the high school guidance office for information. Your own employer might even offer small scholarships. You can find more information on scholarships on the U.S. Department of Education’s website.
     • College-specific investments –You might also want to consider an investment designed to help you save for college. You have several options available, each with different contribution limits, rules and tax treatments, so you’ll want to consult with a financial professional to choose an investment that’s appropriate for your situation.
     • Community colleges – Not every bachelor’s degree needs to begin and end at an expensive four-year college or university. Many students now fulfill some of their “general” education requirements at affordable community colleges before transferring to a four-year school – often saving tens of thousands of dollars in the process.
     Paying for college is challenging. After all, for the 2018-19 academic year, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, and room and board) was $21,370 for in-state students at public four-year colleges or universities; for four-year private schools, the corresponding expense was $48,510, according to the College Board. And college costs will likely continue to rise over the next several years. But, as we’ve seen, by being proactive and having a plan in place, you can go a long way toward coping with these expenses and helping your loved ones enjoy the benefits of higher education. 
    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.


Jobless rate
takes a cool dip in July

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


Final site plans of
phases 2 and 3 approved
for Southern Leisure RV Resort

Chiefland Florida
Developer Alan Wallace speaks to the Chiefland City Commission.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Aug. 14, 2019 at 11:09 p.m.
     CHIEFLAND --
The four Chiefland City Commission members present Monday night (Aug. 12) for their duties as a Planning Board and as local legislators approved 4-0 the Southern Leisure RV Resort Phase 2 and 3 Final Site Plans.



Chiefland Florida
(from left, facing right) City Commissioner Rollin Hudson (seated), Chiefland Vice Mayor Tim West (standing), Mayor Chris Jones (seated) and City Commissioner Norman Weaver look at the paper version of the Southern Leisure RV Resort Phase 2 and 3 Final Site Plan, and they are joined from the other side of the papers by City Manager Mary Ellzey and developer Alan Wallace.


Chiefland Florida
(from left) Vice Mayor Tim West, City Commissioner Rollin Hudson and Mayor Chris Jones listen to answers from Fire Chief James Harris about the RV resort being developed near Walmart.

Chiefland Florida
(from left) Chiefland Wastewater Supervisor Randy Wilkerson, Chiefland Police Chief Scott Anderson and Fire Chief James Harris are seen as the city's fire chief shares information about firefighting in regard to mobile homes.


     Developer Alan Wallace was present to answer questions and to hear feedback from the elected municipal leaders.
     At one point, Wallace let City Commissioner Rollin Hudson know that he was insulted by Hudson repeating statements the city leader alleged to have heard from people that this resort was going to be “a trailer park.”
     This is a high-end RV resort, which will have some number of park models, similar to the ones at Williston Crossings in the City of Williston, on the eastern end of Levy County.
     Even the permanent park model structures planned for Southern Leisure RV Resort, which are manufactured homes, are not low-rent structures, starting at least in the $100,000 range.
     Hudson said more than once that he was “bombarded” by several people, both inside and near to Chiefland, who reportedly expressed their concern that this development would become a trailer park. Despite Hudson seeing the progress at this development with his own eyes very often, he was unable to tell any chronic complainers that their worrisome questions were meritless, based only the vapor of folks who draw conclusions about future conditions based on nothing more than pure gossip.
     Phases 2 and 3 of this RV resort will include 278 total lots, with 149 of them designated as spaces for park models.
     Hudson said he personally does not like the idea of 140-plus park models, although the development he has seen so far looks fine.
     “When you see how we landscape these homes,” Wallace said, “it’s never going to be a trailer park.”
     Wallace told everyone who listened that he and the other developers cannot afford to have Southern Leisure RV Resort be a trailer park for it to be a successful investment.
     Not only are there minimum standards for the RVs parking there for no longer than 180 consecutive days, but this RV resort is for people aged 55 years and older exclusively.
     Wallace shared with the listeners that he intends to build a 5,000 square-foot pavilion, as well as a gym and other structures to serve the needs of the residents at Southern Leisure RV Resort.
     Additionally, since the sewer lift station to serve this subdivision will need a bigger wet well for the wastewater lift station to function, Wallace is funding the city’s infrastructure improvement in that regard.
     Chiefland Wastewater Supervisor Randy Wilkerson said his department is working on determining costs to complete this part of the infrastructure improvement that is slated to happen.
     City Commissioner Hudson, still showing some degree of resistance to accepting economic growth in Chiefland, asked Fire Chief James Harris what the chief thought about the park models. Harris answered that it’s like he had told Hudson the other night when they were talking about this.
     Park models are basically mobile homes, Chief Harris asserted.
     Even in a city with fire hydrants, trucks, other equipment and firefighters, Harris said, mobile homes are lost to fires quickly.
     “Are you asking me, ‘Can we handle it?’,” Harris said to Hudson. “I can’t answer that. I don’t know how far apart they’re going to be. I don’t know what they’re made of. I don’t know what the fire rating is on them. All I know is they’re mobile homes.”
     Wallace shared facts about fires and mobile homes and RVs from what he has seen.
    “An RV will burn down before the fire department gets there,” Wallace said. “It’s engulfed in flames within three or four minutes.”
     After more than three decades of being in the industry of RV resort development, Wallace was able to share more insight.
     “In 35 years of this business,” he said, “we have had no mobile homes burn down. And we’ve had maybe 10 RVs burn down. And the 10 RVs were burnt to the ground within three or four minutes.”
     Chief Harris said a mobile home is basically destroyed within 15 minutes after it catches fire.
     City Commissioner Norman Weaver made a motion to approve the final site plans for phases 2 and 3 of Southern Leisure RV Resort, including the upgrades required for the lift station. Weaver’s motion was seconded by Vice Mayor Tim West. Hudson and Mayor Chris Jones also voted in favor of the motion.
     Southern Leisure RV Resort is located east of Walmart at 505 N.W. 21st Ave.
     People can take golf carts from their RVs or their park model homes there to go to Walmart and other stores on the east side of U.S. Highway 19, with Barbecue Bill’s on Northwest 19th Avenue as a southern boundary for golf carts and Northwest 23rd Avenue (also known as Northwest 120th Street or Levy County Road 320 East) as the northern border for golf cart traffic.


HardisonInk.com website
becomes ADA compliant

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

 

Chiefland


 

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

 

 

 


Levy County elections
staff member earns
MFCEP credentials

Bronson Florida
Levy County Assistant Supervisor of Elections Jordan Lindsey holds a plaque showing she earned the certification as Master Florida Certified Elections Professional.

Information and Photo
Provided By The Levy County Supervisor of Elections Office
Published Aug. 14, 2019 at 10:09 a.m.
     BRONSON --
A staff member from the Levy County Supervisor of Elections office recently accepted her certification as a Master Florida Certified Elections Professional (MFCEP) by the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections (FSASE).
     Levy County Assistant Supervisor of Elections Jordan Lindsey, MFCEP, was presented with a plaque that reflects she earned her credentials. The presentation was made on May 21, during the FSASE 2019 Annual Summer Conference in Daytona Beach.
     The MFCEP certification is awarded to those who complete three levels of Florida Certified Elections Professional (FCEP) training including legal and managerial foundations; management processes and procedures; and organizational development.
     The objectives of the FCEP program are to increase the
knowledge and skill levels of elected officials and staff in elections offices in Florida; to provide incentives to supervisors of elections and their staff members to continually enhance their levels of professional and personal development; and to share common perspectives, issues, and challenges in a structured, collegial
atmosphere.
     Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones encourages all employees in this office to further their professional education to enhance the electoral process for Levy County voters.
     Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones is the president of the FSASE this year. The FSASE includes elections supervisors in all 67 Florida counties.
     For more information about the FCEP program or the FSASE, please visit https://www.myfloridaelections.com/.


Phoenix Rising YouthBuild
raises hopes and skills
while raising walls

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Aug. 14, 2019 at 7:49 a.m.
     OCALA –
The Phoenix Rising YouthBuild program is set to raise the walls on its 10th project in Marion County.
     The award-winning program helps revitalize economically-challenged neighborhoods while making a positive difference in the lives of young adults who are willing to work, in need of a high school diploma and interested in employment and/or postsecondary education or training.
     A foundational component of the alternative-education program involves construction of homes for deserving families in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Marion County. The latest wall raising takes place Thursday, Aug. 22 at 9 a.m. at 350 Emerald Road, in Ocala.
     The class of 15 individuals selected for the program ranges in age from 18 to 23 years old and members of this class hail from Ocala, Dunnellon, Belleview and Silver Springs. Through Phoenix Rising, students receive hands-on and classroom training designed to develop workforce skills that lead to employment or a post-secondary education program. Additionally, students may earn their high school diploma as well as industry-recognized certifications while receiving weekly participation payments.
     Current classmates aspire for careers in nursing, culinary arts, veterinary medicine, martial arts, long-distance trucking and film. Several say they hope to attend college while others plan to enlist in the United States Army.
     “It is often assumed graduates end up in construction because they’re building a home,” said Kimberly Grey, program manager for CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion’s youth services provider, Eckerd Connects Workforce Development. “That’s certainly great if they do, but YouthBuild is about learning how to work as a team, it’s about discipline and giving back to the community. It also builds character and confidence.” 
     Grey said anyone interested in the program is encouraged to attend the wall raising.
     “This is an extraordinary, uplifting program which has become a national model of what communities can build when public and private partners work together,” she said.
     Major funding for the program comes from a grant obtained by CareerSource CLM from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration. Current year federal funding for Youth Build is $466,821.
     In addition to CareerSource CLM, Eckerd and Habitat, primary partners are the City of Ocala, Marion County Board of County Commissioners, College of Central Florida (Hampton Center), Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Neighborhood Housing and Development Corporation, Florida State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP) and Equal Housing Opportunity, and Silver River Mentoring & Instruction (SRMI).
     Phoenix Rising YouthBuild has earned recognition from the Florida League of Cities, National League of Cities and Harvard's School of Business. It also has received the Clarence E. Jordan Award, which is Habitat for Humanity International's highest honor for creativity and innovation in building homes and communities.
     For more information, call 352-291-9550, ext. 2293.

 


Chamber set to discuss
branding Dixie County

Dixie County
Dixie County Chamber of Commerce Co-President Andrew Rains welcomes everyone to the meeting on Thursday.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Aug. 11, 2019 at 8:09 a.m.
     CROSS CITY –
“Dixie County, A Great Place to Live, Work and Play,” is a slogan that the Dixie County Chamber of Commerce includes on its signs, its website, correspondence and elsewhere.
     Among the discussion items at the Dixie County Chamber of Commerce meeting Thursday (Aug. 8) was the start of a potential to brand the county.
     “The Town of Fried Mullet and Swamp Cabbage” was a thought for Cross City as something to remember the county seat by or to brand it, according to a story about one previous visitor to a Chamber meeting. That person likes fried mullet and cooked hearts of palms.
     Swamp cabbage is cooked from the heart being taken from the sabal palm, Florida’s state tree. Once the heart is taken, the tree dies.
     As for whether it is legal to harvest this tree, the 2017 version of Florida Statute 15.031, with historical origins in the 1953 statutes 1, 2, chapter 28126, proclaim the sabal palmetto palm as the state tree.
     It is OK to harvest, according to law. The law says, “15.031 State tree.—
     (1) The sabal palmetto palm, which is also known as the cabbage palm, and sometimes as the cabbage palmetto, a tree native to Florida, is hereby designated as the Florida state tree.
     (2) Said state tree being now extensively used for commercial purposes, the provisions of this section shall not be construed to limit in any manner said use thereof in business, industry, commerce, for food, or for any other commercial purposes.”
     While the Chamber members did not discuss the harvest of the tree, the mention of the Cross City branding idea led to potential new business to be discussed at the monthly Chamber meeting on Thursday afternoon – the branding of all Dixie County.
     As for what to tag Dixie County with as brand, Ruth Ann Lovelace suggested “Dixie County – The Most Patriotic County In The USA.”
     Dixie County taking the title or brand as “The Most Patriotic County” was perhaps inspired by the significant American flag displays the Chamber puts up next to U.S. Highway 19 in memory of veterans. Those flags and crosses are thanks to the Chamber and people who memorialize veterans by purchasing the flags for a couple of years at a time as a fundraiser for the Chamber.
     This may have given rise to the idea of being patriotic in Dixie County, and that might be a catchy and memorable brand for the county.
     With the likelihood that some other county somewhere in the United States might want to lay claim to “The Most Patriotic” title, and partly as a result of this discussion starting in the very waning moments of the monthly meeting, Andrew Rains, one of the co-presidents of this Chamber this year, decided to put it on the agenda for more people to discuss at the next monthly meeting.
     Cheryll Jones, the other co-president of the Dixie County Chamber of Commerce this year, was unable to attend the monthly meeting for August due to unanticipated work demands. All of this Chamber’s officers and directors are volunteers.
     Some Chambers of Commerce in the Tri-County Area pay people as part-time employees to perform office work and the like.
     Another significant business and community matter discussed at the Dixie County Chamber meeting was how the county as a whole intends to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Dixie County coming into existence.
     The Centennial Celebration is not just a Dixie County Chamber of Commerce idea. There is no particular group, yet, either government or private, that is taking the reins for leading the celebration in April of 2021.
     The Chamber is not even consolidating the various forms of celebration, and according to discussion at the meeting, the five Dixie County Board of County Commissioners are not yet wanting to commit to anything to herald the moment in 2021 when the county marks its 100th anniversary as a county in Florida.
     Instead, the various civic, veterans, sports, municipal, county and other organizations or affiliations will each be on their own – each independently and separately having a celebration, or not having one to recognize the centennial for this county.
     Dixie County Chamber Co-President Rains suggested, and the members present on Thursday afternoon in the Dixie County Public Library at Cross City agreed, that the Cross City Airport Fly-in and Dixie County Chamber Expo slated for April 21, 2021, will incorporate a celebration of the county centennial.
     Rains said that this annual event hosted primarily by the Chamber will provide a definite point as an attraction for thousands of visitors -- as it has in the past few years.
     There was mention of a thought of letting the Dixie County Historical Society have a major display in the Horseman’s Park Building on April 21, 2021. That is the Fly-In date that year and this building has been a centerpiece of the Chamber Expo each year.
     As for the Centennial Celebration in April of 2021 for Dixie County, there may be a rodeo. There may be a concert. There may be a parade. There may be a beauty pageant. There may be a fishing tournament. There may be a kayak race. There may be a barbecue competition. New flags or banners may be made. Coins may be minted. Any number of these ideas may reach fruition.
     Time will tell as to which organizations step up to the plate in their own ways to recognize the 100-year point in time for Dixie County.

Dixie County
Bob Leichner (foreground), former owner of the now closed Dixie Music Center, is seen at the most recent Chamber meeting. Always active in the Chamber, Leichner was asked about bands and setting up to provide for a concert at the April 21, 2021 Fly-In. He provided information and there is an expectation that he will help guide efforts if that is something added for that year’s fly-in, as well as the 2020 event. The Fly-In for 2020 is scheduled for May 2, 2020. Leichner significantly helped the 2019 Fly-In in regard to music and acoustics, as he has done so in the past. In fact, the public address system for the 2019 event was the best ever, in no small part thanks to Leichner. This year’s Fly-In which was April 27, 2019 also included a separate musical element, which Leichner helped by providing the sound system as well as musical performing artists' participation.

     The meeting on Thursday was enjoyable as usual, as the Chamber helps build the business community in the county. Co-President Rains said Chamber members are welcome to every monthly meeting.
     The meeting in September is set for Sept. 12, starting at noon, in the big meeting room on the north side of the Dixie County Public Library in Cross City.
     Members are welcome, and they may bring guests, Rains said.
     Lunch on Thursday was spaghetti with meat sauce, a tossed salad and garlic bread, with sweet or unsweet tea. Debbie DeWeese and Kathryn McInnis provided the delicious lunch for members and guests.
     As part of the most recent monthly meeting, Cindy Bellot provided the minutes from the previous month’s meeting and those were accepted. Debbie Dembo provided a financial report, showing the Chamber is financially healthy.
     Mike Hutto of American Legion Post 383 of Old Town had been scheduled to be the guest speaker; however, he was not present at the meeting Thursday.
     Hence, the members and guests were able to speak about the 100-year anniversary of the county and what might happen to recognize that; and, near the last minute of the one-hour meeting, the people spoke about branding Dixie County to help attract more people as visitors.


Seventh Paddle Accepted
Levy County
Jeff Hardison, publisher of the daily news website HardisonInk.com, stands in the Code Orange Office of The Ink Pad as he holds the seventh consecutive annual paddle recently presented by the hosts of the Wild Hog Canoe Race to the journalist. The daily news website helps support the Levy Association for Retarded Citizens via the Wild Hog Canoe Race. ‘LARC is a great organization, the journalist said. I’m thankful that I am able to donate to help the cause. We were listed as bronze sponsors this year. We have been bronze or silver sponsors over the years. Hitting the gold or platinum status takes more than we are able to give. Sometimes, the spirit is willing but the body is not able. Keith Maynard, his family and all of the other people and groups involved in this effort to help LARC are performing a great action, and the race is fun for participants and observers. I’m especially glad to see HardisonInk.com listed on a tee-shirt this year with other sponsors, where this year’s event is noted to be in memory of my friend the late Betty Walker, who was the top guiding force behind LARC for many years, and in memory of the late Don Goode, and in memory of my friend, the late Jimmy Durden as well. All three of these individuals were amazing, wonderful human beings whose souls I believe have gone to Heaven.’ HardisonInk.com is nine years old, and provided support for the race and the association in its first two years of publication as well as the past seven. Those first couple of years where the website helped promote and cover the event, the race was hosted by other interests. The 42nd Annual Wild Hog Canoe Race was on April 27, 2019.

Photo by Sharon Hardison © Aug. 11, 2019 at 8:09 a.m.

 


Florida Senate President
Bill Galvano endorses
Jennifer Bradley in Senate race

Published Aug. 9, 2019 at 1:09 p.m.
     TALLAHASSEE --
Florida Senate President Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton, Dist. 21) recently endorsed Clay County small business owner Jennifer Bradley (R-Fleming Island) for Senate District 5.
     Bradley entered the race last week with strong support from State Representative Travis Cummings (R-Clay County, Dist. 18) and Senate leaders Wilton Simpson (R-Dade City, Dist. 10), Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples, Dist. 28) and Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast, Dist. 7).
     Jennifer Bradley’s husband Rob Bradley currently is the senator for District 5, which includes Levy, Dixie, Gilchrist, Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Lafayette, Suwannee, Union and part of Marion.
     “Jennifer is a dear friend, a wonderful mother, a champion for her community and an inspiring small business owner and I am proud to endorse her campaign for Senate,” Galvano said. “Voices like Jennifer’s are needed in Tallahassee and I have no doubt Jennifer will serve as an advocate for not just her community, but for hardworking families across Florida.”
     Jennifer Bradley spoke about starting her campaign to become elected to the Florida Senate.
     “As I begin this conversation with the hardworking people of North Florida, I am grateful for President Galvano’s support,” Bradley said. “I understand the challenges and opportunities facing the rural, coastal and growth areas are unique to this historically diverse part of our state."
     A strong advocate for North Florida’s children, she has volunteered her time with St. Vincent’s Medical Center, Young Life and Haven Hospice Center. In 2014, Jennifer Bradley helped establish the Clay County PACE Center for Girls as Chair of the first Board of Directors. She worked to introduce PACE to the community, raise awareness for the needs of deserving girls and advocate for the Center. Today, the Clay County PACE Center for Girls operates with a wait list and has some of the best metrics for success in the state.
     Jennifer Bradley is an attorney and small business owner, who was born on an Air Force Base in Japan while her dad was serving in Vietnam.
     She graduated from the University of Florida in 1991 with a degree in Criminology and earned a Juris Doctor from the Florida State University College of Law in 1995. She practiced law for 10 years, specializing in legal research and drafting, including service as a staff attorney for the judges of the Fourth Judicial Circuit.
     She is the owner of Hibernia Property Management Inc., a commercial rental company in Orange Park. She also serves as business manager for the law office of Bradley, Garrison & Komando, P.A.
     A strong advocate for North Florida’s children, Bradley has volunteered her time with St. Vincent’s Medical Center, Young Life and Haven Hospice Center. In 2014, Bradley helped establish the Clay County PACE Center for Girls as Chair of the first Board of Directors. She worked to introduce PACE to the community, raise awareness for the needs of deserving girls and advocate for the Center. Today, the Clay County PACE Center for Girls operates with a wait list and has some of the best metrics for success in the state.
     Bradley lives in Clay County, where she and her husband Rob have raised their three children, Connor, 23, who graduated from the University of North Florida with an International Business degree and now works with the PGA Tour; Stephanie, 21, who is finishing her accounting degree at the University of Florida and will pursue a master’s degree there as well: and Caroline, 19, who is in her second year at the University of Florida where she is studying Russian and International Relations.


Senate president appoints
Sen. Rob  Bradley
to Hemp Advisory Council

Information Provided By
Tonya J. Shays, Legislative Assistant
Office of State Senator Rob Bradley
Published Aug. 7, 2019 at 8:49 p.m.
     TALLAHASSEE --
Florida Senate President Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton) on Aug. 5 announced the appointments of Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island, Dist. 5) and former state Sen. Denise Grimsley to represent the Senate on the Industrial Hemp Advisory Council.
     “I am honored that Senator Bradley and former Senator Grimsley will represent the Senate on the Industrial Hemp Advisory Council as they work to ensure this new industry is developed in a safe and responsible manner,” Galvano said. “Senator Bradley has been a major proponent of the implementation of the State Hemp Program and its Advisory Council, and understands the potential for hemp to become a huge economic driver in our state. Former Senator Grimsley is an advocate for our agricultural community, and recognizes the opportunity for this commodity to help revitalize Florida’s agricultural industry that has been negatively impacted by both hurricanes and disease.”
     Senator Bradley commented on his appointment.
     Bradley is in Senate District 5, which includes Levy, Dixie, Gilchrist, Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Lafayette, Suwannee, Union and part of Marion counties.
     “There is a great deal of opportunity, both for Florida’s agricultural community and our economy, that comes with the production of industrial hemp in our state. I am honored to be appointed by President Galvano to the Industrial Hemp Advisory Council and I look forward to continuing to fight for Florida’s farmers,” Bradley said.
     The Industrial Hemp Advisory Council was created in 2019 by Senate Bill 1020, sponsored by Sen. Bradley. The legislation creates the State Hemp Program within the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and creates the Industrial Hemp Advisory Council for the purpose of providing advice and expertise to the department with respect to plans, policies, and procedures applicable to the administration of the State Hemp Program.


Dixie County
Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried
comments on China halting
U.S. agricultural imports

By FDACS Office of Communications
Released Aug. 5, 2019 at 1:44 p.m.
Published Aug. 7, 2019 at 9:09 a.m.
     TALLAHASSEE –
Last night (Sunday, Aug. 4), the Chinese government announced it will halt purchases of United States agricultural products, in response to President Donald Trump’s escalation of his trade war with China.
     Financial markets reacted with shock, calling it “massive…on a scale of 1 to 10, it’s an 11.”
     Earlier this year, China imposed 25 percent tariffs on several American agricultural products, which has been devastating for many of Florida’s agriculture exports.
     Today (Monday, Aug. 5), Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried offered the following statement:
     “This President is a disaster for American farmers. His tariffs have made our crops less competitive, his trade war has slashed our farmers’ exports, and his new trade agreement does nothing to protect Florida agriculture from Mexico’s illegally-subsidized imports. If the President wants to put America first, then he needs to stop antagonizing our nation’s biggest trade partner, and start helping our farmers compete in the global marketplace.”
     Due in part to China’s retaliatory 25 percent tariffs on U.S. products, the exportation of many of Florida’s agricultural products to China are reduced in 2019 when compared with 2018.
     So far this year, Florida exports to China have been reduced:
     34 percent for Florida lobsters
     79 percent for Florida crabs
     64 percent for Florida timber, the state’s largest agricultural crop
     65 percent for Florida fruit and vegetable juice
     92 percent for Florida processed vegetables

 


Suncoast Connector
Task Force named

Information Provided
By Troy Roberts, Communications Specialist
District Two, Northeast Florida
Florida Department of Transportation
Published Aug. 5, 2019 at 1:09 p.m.
     LAKE CITY –
The mission of the Suncoast Connector Task Force is to evaluate the Suncoast Connector corridor, which extends from Citrus County to Jefferson County.
     The task force will work in coordination with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to address the need for the corridor and its potential economic and environmental impacts.
     The task force may consider and recommend innovative ways to combine right-of-way acquisition with the acquisition of lands or easements to facilitate environmental mitigation or ecosystem, wildlife habitat or water quality protection or restoration. The task force will specifically study how project design and land acquisition can mitigate the impact of construction on the water quality and quantity of springs, rivers and aquifer recharge areas; agricultural land uses; and wildlife habitat.
     The task force will summarize the results of its analysis in a final report by Oct. 1, 2020.
     Following are the categories and members of this task force.
State Agencies/Commissions/Partnerships
● FDOT - Greg Evans, District Two Secretary
● FDOT - Jason Peters, District Three Director of Operations
● Florida Department of Environmental Protection - Chris Stahl, State Clearinghouse Coordinator
● Florida Department of Economic Opportunity - Brian McManus, Chief of Staff
● Florida Department of Education - Madeline Davidson, Blind Services District Administrator, Division of Blind Services
● Florida Department of Health - Paul D. Myers, Administrator, Alachua County
● Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission - Shannon Wright, Northeast Regional Director
● Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services - Announcement coming soon
● Florida Public Service Commission - Mark Futrell, Deputy Executive Director - Technical
● Enterprise Florida - Tim Vanderhoof, Senior Vice President of Business Development
● Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation -Chris Lee, Field Office Manager – North Florida
● CareerSource Florida - Michelle Dennard, President / CEO
Water Management Districts
● Northwest Florida WMD - Brett Cyphers, Executive Director
● Suwannee River WMD - Steve Minnis, Deputy Executive Director
● Southwest Florida WMD - Monte Ritter, Chief Professional Engineer
Metropolitan Planning Organizations
● Hernando/Citrus MPO - The Hon. Jeff Kinnard, Chair and Chair of the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners
● Capital Region TPA - The Hon. Kristin Dozier, Board Member
Commissioner, Leon County Board of County Commissioners
Regional Planning Councils
● Tampa Bay RPC - The Hon. Ronald E. Kitchen, Jr., Chair Commissioner, Citrus County Board of County Commissioners
● Apalachee RPC - Chris Rietow, Executive Director
● North Central Florida RPC - Scott Koons, Executive Director
Community Individual or Member of a Nonprofit Organization
● Florida Chamber of Commerce - Tony Carvajal, Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber Foundation
● Florida Trucking Association - Ken Armstrong, President / CEO
● Florida Rural Water Association - Randy Wilkerson, Public Works Director, City of Chiefland
● Florida Internet & Television Association - Bill Ferry, Senior Director of External Affairs – Florida Region, Comcast
● Volunteer Florida - Audrey Kidwell, Volunteer Generation Fund Program Manager
● Florida Economic Development Council - Susan Ramsey, CEO, Integrity Professional Services
● Florida Farm Bureau Federation - Charles Shinn, Director of Government & Community Affairs
● Florida Gateway College (formerly Lake City Community College) - Dr. Lawrence Barrett, President
● North Florida College (formerly North Florida Community College) - Announcement coming soon
Environmental Groups
● 1000 Friends of Florida - Thomas Hawkins, Former Policy & Planning Director
● Audubon Florida - Charles Lee, Director of Advocacy
● Defenders of Wildlife - Kent Wimmer, Senior Northwest Florida Representative
● The Nature Conservancy - Janet Bowman, Senior Policy Advisor
Local Government Officials
● Local governments in Citrus County - Announcement coming soon
● Local governments in Levy County - The Hon. Matt Brooks, Commissioner, Levy County Board of County Commissioners
● Local governments in Dixie County- The Hon. Mark Hatch, Chair, Dixie County Board of County Commissioners
● Local governments in Taylor County - The Hon. Pam Feagle, Chair, Taylor County Board of County Commissioners
● Local governments in Jefferson County - The Hon. Betsy Barfield, Chair, Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners
● Local governments in Gilchrist County - The Hon. Todd Gray, Chair, Gilchrist County Board of County Commissioners
● Local governments in Lafayette County - The Hon. Anthony Adams, Chair, Lafayette County Board of County Commissioners
● Local governments in Madison County - Brian Kauffman, County Coordinator, Madison County
     The Suncoast Connector is a Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance.
     The Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) program is intended to revitalize rural communities, encourage job creation and provide regional connectivity while leveraging technology, enhancing the quality of life and public safety, and protecting the environment and natural resources.
     The intended benefits include, but are not limited to, addressing issues such as:
• Hurricane evacuation
• Congestion mitigation
• Trade and logistics
• Broadband, water and sewer connectivity
• Energy distribution
• Autonomous, connected, shared and electric vehicle technology
• Other transportation modes, such as shared-use nonmotorized trails, freight and passenger rail, and public transit
• Mobility as a service
• Availability of a trained workforce skilled in traditional and emerging technologies
• Protection or enhancement of wildlife corridors or environmentally sensitive areas
• Protection or enhancement of primary springs protection zones and farmland preservation areas
     The FDOT is assigned with assembling task forces to study three specific corridors:
• The Suncoast Connector, extending from Citrus County to Jefferson County
• The Northern Turnpike Connector, extending from the northern terminus of Florida’s Turnpike northwest to the Suncoast Parkway
• The Southwest-Central Florida Connector, extending from Collier County to Polk County

 


7-Month averages reflect
9-year-old website’s traffic;

‘Keeping It Fine In Year Nine’
The World

Story and Graphic
By Jeff M. Hardison © Aug. 1, 2019 at 9:39 a.m.
     THE WORLD –
The average of numbers for the first seven months of website traffic in 2019 reflect that HardisonInk.com’s level of traffic on the daily news website is “Keeping It Fine In Year Nine,” owner and publisher Jeff M. Hardison said Thursday morning (Aug. 1).
     While HardisonInk.com, the 9-year-old daily news website, again showed an impressive monthly record of unique visitors in July, the averages for the number of visits, pages viewed and hits in the first seven months of 2019 add up to reflect the reason advertisers see a return on their investment in the venture, the businessman noted.
     The daily news website continues showing traffic that is impressive and attractive to advertisers, maintaining an average excess of one million hits a month, and an average unique visitor rate of 11,900.
     A review of website traffic during July of 2019 from data collected from two, independent, third-party robotic website traffic monitoring programs – Google Analytics and cPanel – mirrors why this is the place for the most return on investment in advertising dollars.
    The number of hits in July was 1.1 million, or exactly 1,149,018 hits.
     Upon learning of the latest figures, Jeff Hardison, publisher and sole proprietor of HardisonInk.com, said that first he is thankful to God for all things.
     Beyond that, he added, he is thankful for the continued reading and viewing of stories, photos and videos, which shows a strong base of people as the daily news website moves forward along into its ninth year of existence, which started on Feb. 1, 2019.
     The entire enterprise, he added, is able to exist thanks to the many interests who advertise here.
      The website traffic numbers for July of 2019 are shown in the graphic at the top of this story.


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

UNIQUE VISITORS
    The July total of unique visitors 11,246. The average number of unique visitors every month for 2019 is 11,900.
     “I remember one month during the first year, nine years ago,” Hardison said, “when I thought 800 was a lot of unique visitors to be touching the website in a month. And it was, back then.
     “With an average monthly amount at almost 12,000 computer addresses visiting the daily news website each month in 2019,” he continued,” I am confident and proud to sell ads at the same rate that was good when there were only 800 unique visitors a month. For nine years, we have kept ad costs the same for our advertisers who sponsor the daily news website – except some forms of short-term ads, like for special events and elections.”

NUMBER OF VISITS
     Another measure of traffic is the number of visits.
     In July, the number was 27,798 visits. The average for the first seven months of 2019 is 28,944 or almost 30,000.

PAGES VIEWED
     Pages Viewed shows how many different pages the visitors looked at. This website has the Home Page, Police Page, Calendar Page, Business Page, Community Page, Life Page and the Leisure Page.
     The monthly total of pages viewed in July was 103,000. There are ads on each page, and the readers see those ads. The average for the first seven months of 2019 is 105,000.

HITS
     As noted, the July total of hits was 1.1 million. The average number of hits for the first seven months of 2019 is 1.3 million hits per 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 may equal four “hits.” Like all of the gauges, this is a measure of traffic.
     All of the measurements combined show the daily news website is continuing to be the best place for business interests and others to buy ads.
     “These figures mean there are more people each day who use HardisonInk.com as a source for information, including what is advertised,” Hardison said. “And they return daily.
     “If your product or service is better than the competitors’ products and services, then you will have better odds of being the manufacturer, farmer or service provider of first choice in any market,” he added.
      HardisonInk.com continues to grow in readers, viewers and listeners (yes, most of the videos on HardisonInk.com have sound). Business owners and other ad purchasing interests know this is the best site to visit for Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties’ daily news.
     And on this daily news website, there are other points of news and human interest stories, photos and videos that are covered beyond the Tri-County Area focus.
      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.
      HardisonInk.com has the Weather Bug on the Home Page for all current weather and forecasting needs, including radar and Weather Alerts. It has columns for quilt reports, articles about investing, Christian devotionals and more.
      HardisonInk.com provides state news on occasion as well. And there have been national and international stories on this daily news website.

     CHECK OUT THE ARCHIVES.
     Jeff M. Hardison, who was born in St. Petersburg, Florida, and has lived in every region of Florida except the Panhandle, said his wife Sharon Hardison is a vital part of the reason for such a high success rate for the website.
      "I can't say enough about Sharon," Hardison said. "She does so much for me, that it is incredible. Sharon is the graphic artist who does most of the ads. She is my bookkeeper who provides information for my accountant Fred Thackrey of Pinellas County. One thing I need to bring people's attention to is our archive page, which she also maintains. Go to any of the seven pages and find the ad for the archive page on the bottom right column and click on it.
     "A new window will open." he 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. If you see any video you want to watch, click on it.

     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.
     For the local business interests that buy ads, with a focus on the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, people who live or visit these areas are the people who see the site the most often.
     This site is subscription-free entirely because of its sponsors. Not only do advertisers help the people in the world (and astronauts in the International Space Station) see Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, but those business interests enjoy the most exposure for the least dollars.
     The daily news website owner noted how this site is better than daily or weekly newspaper websites, or TV or radio websites, or social media websites.
     "We don't put up winky-blinky ads or pop-ups in our local ads," Hardison said. "Our local ads don't move around by the minute. And I promote our local advertisers in other places in addition to HardisonInk.com."
     HardisonInk.com is the best daily news site that covers Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties. HardisonInk.com is the best place to spend dollars on advertising for any person selling anything to the people of the world, because people in this part of Florida, as well as all over the world see it.
     Ads bought on HardisonInk.com, the owner added, help support a free press, which supports a free nation.
     Buyers can purchase ads to help their business or other interests, and while they enjoy those results, he said, they can feel comfort in knowing they are helping a business owner who is a 1984 University of Florida College of Journalism and Communication graduate who majored in newswriting and editing, and minored in psychology.
     Hardison has decades of credentials and awards earned at weekly and daily newspapers as a reporter and as an editor, including two Investigative Reporting awards from the Florida Press Association, one for Community Service, one for Environmental Reporting, one for Best Front Page Layout, one for Best Use of Full Color, as well another award from the Florida Press Club, and scores of letters of gratitude from people and institutions.
     Hardison wants ad buyers to know he and his wife are very grateful to them for being part of the whole of investors in American freedom, by their sponsoring HardisonInk.com.
     “Our cats are thankful, too,” he said, “because those ad dollars are what helps buy cat food, litter and veterinarian services. Meow!

--UPDATED--
WEDNESDAY  AUG. 21  11:09 a.m.
Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties




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