Chiefland preps for
2018 hurricane season

By Jeff M. Hardison © June 12, 2018 at 9:48 p.m.
Chiefland City Commission members present for the Monday night special meeting (June 11) spoke about improvements since Hurricane Irma affected the city last season.


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     Levy County Emergency Management Assistant Director David Peaton started the hurricane preparedness discussion.
     Joining in the discussion were Mayor Betty Walker, Vice Mayor Chris Jones, and city commissioners Teresa Barron and Donald Lawrence. City Commissioner Rollin Hudson was absent from the special meeting and the following regular meeting that night.
     The county is ready to assist all of the municipalities, he said, in the event of an emergency like Hurricane Irma.
     As the city finds its resources are depleted or inadequate, the county will be there to help refill those resource needs, Assistant Director Peaton said.
     Hurricane Irma presented exceptional effects, especially in the City of Chiefland, Peaton said, as a result of the traffic of evacuees from areas south of Chiefland as the people went up U.S> Highway 19 and U.S. Alt. 27 through Chiefland.
     “Chiefland definitely got hit the worst, for sure, out of the entire county,” Peaton said. “Every place in the county had the same issues – fuel supply, heavier than normal traffic, power outages, things like that.”
     With U.S. 19 going through the city, that traffic created a dramatic impact on the city, he said.
     Hurricane Irma was a unique storm, because it ran the whole length of the state, Peaton said.
     City Manager Mary Ellzey brought the City Commission up to date on improvements.
     She said communications are being improved by Police Chief Scott Anderson to repair a repeater, and he has purchased a new VHF radio system with 14 new portable radios for the CPD, Ellzey said. City Hall will be the Emergency Operations Center for the city if that situation arises again, where the city needs an EOC.
     As for fuel, the Police Department has purchased a 300-gallon portable fuel trailer, she said.
     The Florida Department of Transportation grounds in the city will house 30 traffic signal electric generators for use along the U.S. Highway corridor in the event of a storm like Irma in the future. Traffic signal cabinets are being upgraded throughout the city by the FDOT as well, she said.
     Overall, considering the limits of number of personnel in the CPD, Chiefland Fire-Rescue and the other departments, there was across-the-board commendations made for every Chiefland city employee working as part of the team that helped the city get through Hurricane Irma extremely well.

Hundreds of households accept
tens of thousands of pounds
of food from Farm Share again

Farm Share Chiefland Florida TCCRC
Standing near the scene of first distribution, along a line of volunteers, are (from left) College of Central Florida's Jack Wilkinson Levy Campus Manager of Instructional Services Leah Gamble, Tri-County Community Resource Center, Farm Share Distribution Manager Leighsha Johnson, and A.D. Goodman, who wore three hats on Saturday – Beverly’s husband, Central Florida Electric Cooperative Customer Service Manager and Chiefland Fire Rescue Assistant Chief. This set of people went back to work serving others within minutes after being dragged into the street for a photo opportunity.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © June 9, 2018 at 4:58 p.m.
The Tri-County Community Resource Center again brought together an army of volunteers Saturday (June 9) in another of its multitude of methods for helping people as the second Farm Share event was held there.

A big line of volunteers provide plenty of bags of food for quick distribution to peole in vehicles.

Farm Share Chiefland
'Be Gentle With Me - I'm not as tough as I look! Pasture-raised eggs - keep refrigerator at or below 40 dgrees Fahrenheit.'

Chiefland Police Officer and K-9 Officer Pete Barnes helps direct traffic. Barnes, other CPD members, and volunteers with the Levy County Sheriff's Office's Citizens On Patrol prevented traffic snarls and protected life and property during the big event in downtown Chiefland on Saturday.

     Having food and feeling some level of security are among the significant problems some families face in the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, TCCRC Executive Director Beverly Goodman said. The Farm Share event on Saturday helps address one piece of the puzzle facing these communities, she added.
     Leighsha "Superwoman" Johnson, distribution manager of Farm Share, is the leader from the Farm Share group that caused 20,000 to 30,000 pounds of food to be delivered to Chiefland via giant trucks and palette-moving machines on Saturday. Johnson was tagged with the “Superwoman” nickname by TCCRC Executive Director Goodman, because the Farm Share program’s success in Chiefland results in large part from her work.
     TCCRC, Farm Share and other partners, like the City of Chiefland, distributed it to more than 350 households thanks to 50 volunteers who were organized by Goodman, and the TCCRC.
     The Tri-County Community Resource Center is the Partnership for Strong Families’ fourth resource center established outside of Alachua County. TCCRC provides a vast array of free services and resources that residents and visitors from these three counties indicated are needed.
     As for Farm Share, its mission is to alleviate hunger and malnutrition by recovering and distributing fresh and nutritious food to those who need it most.
     Even the weather cooperated Saturday, with what has been a relatively wet late May and June not having rain in Chiefland during the event.
     People in vehicles waited in a relatively fast-moving line as volunteers put bags of food into open trunks, open hatchbacks, open truck beds and through the open side doors of vans.
     Among the types of food distributed Saturday were corn, rice, beans, potatoes, eggs, soy milk, frozen blueberries, frozen chicken breasts, emergency ration meals, beef stew pouches and canned chicken meat.
     Among the long list of individual volunteers included people who served others simply as giving human beings and other volunteers who are connected with service-oriented groups such as the TCCRC, the College of Central Florida's Jack Wilkinson Levy Campus, Chiefland Police Department, Chiefland Fire Rescue, Central Florida Electric Cooperative, Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office, Gilchrist Prevention Coalition, Levy County Prevention Coalition, Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, Levy County Sheriff's Office Citizens On Patrol, the Florida Department of Health's Dixie-Gilchrist-Levy Counties Unit and North Florida Pediatrics.
     The process worked well, like a fine-tuned machine where people quickly received their food and then drove away. And while the procedure might have seemed mechanical, the spirit of humans sharing love for one another by helping each other was bountiful.
     The attitude of caring for others did not require a script of coaching, as was shown by one young boy bringing bottles of chilled water to workers along the serving line and even to observers standing in the hot morning sun. Examples of the many volunteers aiding each other as well as giving food to recipients were plentiful and carried throughout the whole event.
     Some people served in a few capacities as volunteers, because there is only some percentage of the population who give without measure. For instance, Sheryl Brown is a captain with the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office, but she is also a member of the board of directors of the TCCRC and she is a leader with the Gilchrist Prevention Coalition. Robert Wells of Meridian Behavioral Healthcare is also a founder of the Levy County Prevention Coalition. Angie Land who was volunteering with Kyle Roberts as part of the Florida Department of Health’s Dixie-Gilchrist-Levy Counties’ Unit, is also the director of the Family Life Ministries of the Lafayette Baptist Association, where she teaches bible studies, leads marriage and family conferences and offers biblical counseling to individuals, couples and families.
     Every one of the 50 volunteers working Saturday to feed hundreds of families all are among the people who help others.
     And while some volunteers might momentarily wonder about what their bodies are telling them in regard to whether some level of aches or sunburn are worth it, that moment will flicker and be snuffed into silence by the knowledge that they helped so many hundreds of households, at least through meeting the needs for some number of meals.

Tammy Jones takes oath of office
as president-elect of the
Florida State Association
of Supervisors of Elections

Seen here are (from left) Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections
President Paul Lux, Okaloosa County; President-Elect Tammy Jones, Levy County; Vice President Craig Latimer, Hillsborough County; Secretary Wesley Wilcox, Marion County; Treasurer Mark Earley, Leon County; Past-President Dana Southerland, Taylor County; and Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner. The secretary of state in Florida is the head of the Division of Elections for the state.

Information and Photos Provided
Published June 5, 2018 at 10:18 p.m.
Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones took the oath of office as president-elect of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections on May 23.

Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones

     Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner administered the swearing-in ceremony during the association's conference in Fort Lauderdale.
     The Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections is made up of supervisors of elections from all 67 counties of Florida
     Levy County Supervisor of Elections Jones was elected by her peers to represent the association as their president-elect for one year.
     As part of her duties, Jones will assist association President Paul Lux (supervisor of elections of Okaloosa County) with duties relating to the association.
     Jones has made it her goal to be an active participant with the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections.
     "I consider it a great honor and privilege to serve as the Association's president-elect, and to also represent Levy County," Jones said.

FWF Offers Gopher Tortoise Signs
Gopher Tortoise Signs By FWF - Jay Bushnell
The Florida Wildlife Federation (FWF) has developed signage to educate and protect Florida’s gopher tortoise. With more than 300 plants and animals dependent on the gopher, these land-based tortoises play a vital role in Florida’s natural ecology. Dr. Jay Bushnell, District VI FWF Director, has been distributing signs to area State Parks and National Wildlife Refuges. Here he is seen as he presents some to Manatee Springs State Park Assistant Park Ranger Joleen Dudley and Park Ranger Jillian O’Donnell. To learn more about the FWF, visit the web page at
Published May 28, 2018 at 2:28 p.m.

Information and Photo Provided By Dr. Jay Bushnell

Carwash Helps Players
Bronson Baseball Players Wash Vehicles
A dozen or so 12-year-old and younger baseball players, a head coach and a few assistant coaches have earned a chance to compete at a national level.

People Seek Donations To Help Baseball Team
Here are (from left) Jeythian Merced, Shane Hilligoss Sr. and Shane ‘A.J.’ Hilligoss Jr., helping to solicit donations for the all-star team’s trip to Seminole County. On Saturday (May 26), team members, coaches and supporters were washing vehicles at the Bronson Ace Hardware on the corner of Hathaway Avenue (U.S. Alt. 27) and Thrasher Drive (State Road 24) as a fundraiser for the team. They were also accepting donations by holding buckets for people to put cash as a donation. Last Monday night the Bronson Town Council authorized a $500 donation and Council members promised to donate themselves. This car wash is part of the various methods to generate the $3,400 that is needed for the Bronson Parks and Recreation team to go to Sanford (Seminole County) from June 29 to July 5. The All-Star team from Bronson is led by Head Coach Jeff Jordan. Also on the coaching staff are assistant coaches -- the Rev. Mark Stiles of Bronson United Methodist Church, Chad Thompson and Berlon Weeks. Players on this team are Seth Haley, Caleb Kellum, Jeremiah Linley, Zachary McClelland, Jeythian Merced, Tristen O’Neal, Cian Ronaldo, David Runion, Kevin Runion, William Six, Blake Taylor and Kasey Weeks. Also playing during the regular season on the team were Noah Gray, Rico Mitchem, Daniel Vega and Shane ‘A.J.’ Hillgoss Jr. This team is one of three from Florida that is competing. There are also three teams each from California, Texas and Louisiana to make the 12-team tournament. The weeklong competition in Sanford is at the Boombah Sports Complex in Seminole County. This all-star team made up of the players from the Bronson Parks and Recreation Department who recently completed their regular season with a record of 21-2 and are now going to a long-awaited tournament championship.

Photos By Jeff M. Hardison © May 27, 2018 at 10:08 a.m.


Florida Department of Health
warns that Gilchrist County
joins Levy County
in Encephalitis detection

By Jeff M. Hardison © May 26, 2018 at 9:38 a.m.
The Florida Department of Health warns all residents and visitors to be aware and to protect themselves from mosquito-borne illnesses at all times.
     With summer just around the corner, and with a horse being identified in Gilchrist County now as showing positive results for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), Gilchrist County joins Levy County in areas where even more caution is recommended in regard to being bitten by mosquitoes.
     Levy County is currently under a mosquito-borne illness alert.
     Wesley Asbell, the Florida Department of Health's Environmental Division Specialist for Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties noted that due to the identification of an EEE-positive horse in Gilchrist County, Florida Department of Health (DOH) officials emphasize the importance of  residents and visitors protecting themselves against mosquito-borne diseases.      The public should remain diligent in preventative measures like “Drain and Cover,” Asbekk said.
     DRAIN standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying.
     • Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
     • Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren't being used.
     • Empty and clean birdbaths and pet's water bowls at least once or twice a week.
     Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water.
     • Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.
     COVER skin with clothing or repellent.
     • Clothing - Wear shoes, socks, and long pants and long sleeves. This type of protection may benecessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.
     • Repellent - Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.
     • Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535 are effective.
     • Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.
Tips on Repellent Use
     Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before you apply a repellent.
Some repellents are not suitable for children.
     • Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) are generally recommended. Other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellents contain picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. These products are generally available at local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label.
     • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin, or onto clothing, but not under clothing.
     • In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age-appropriate.
     According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of three years. DEET is not recommended on children younger than two months old.
     • Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children. Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.
     • If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to your clothing.
     Again, always follow the manufacturer’s directions.
     COVER doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house.
     • Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches, and patios.
     To determine which repellent is right for you, consider using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s search tool for skin-repellent products:
     DOH continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito-borne illnesses, including West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, St. Louis Encephalitis, Malaria and Dengue. For more information on mosquito-borne illnesses, visit DOH’s Web site by clicking HERE or call your local county health department.
     Residents and visitors of Florida are encouraged to report dead birds via the website for Surveillance of Wild-bird Die-offs located at

Ole Skool Band and
Tri-County veterans
donate $6,275 to
deputies' families

Most of the veterans at the event on Wednesday afternoon (May 23) are seen here.

Story, Photo and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © May 24, 2018 at 10:28 p.m.
     TRENTON –
The Ole Skool Band of Dixie County sparked an event that brought together organizations of United States military veterans to combine forces to make a relatively large donation to the families of two Gilchrist County deputies who were killed in the line of duty.

In this video, Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz tells listeners that these families will always have a friend at the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff said that if nothing else good comes from this horrible tragedy, there is at least one good lesson, and that is that the men and women of the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office are all one family. Also in this video, is the moment where AmVets Post 42 Commander Bobby Hahn presents two checks totaling $6,275 to survivors of the sergeant and deputy who died in the line of duty.

AmVets Post 42 Commander Bobby Hahn presents two checks totaling $6,275 to survivors of the sergeant and deputy who died in the line of duty.
Members of the Ole Skool Band are seen here (from left) Jeff Norris, Mick Graham and Jimmy Norris.

(from left) Ole Skool Band members (from left) Jeff Norris, Mick Graham and Jimmy Norris pause for a photo opportunity immediately after the program was completed.

Sheriff Bobby Schultz (right) speaks about the community being a family.

Joe Oxedine, Judge Advocate for AmVets Post 422 of the Suwannee River (Fanning Springs), and for AmVets of Florida, is seen at the back of the room as he tells the surviving family members that he speaks on behalf of the post commander as he invites the survivors to call the post for help if there is anything they need. Other AmVets posts and America Legion leaders made the same offer.

Sheriff Bobby Schultz (left) accepts a thin blue line memorial work of art made of metal from Chuck Strange of Chiefland Billiards. There is a plaque that will go below this piece to memorialize and honor Gilchrist County Sheriff's Sgt. Noel Ramirez and GCSO Deputy Taylor Lindsey.

     The May 12 Dice Run started and ended at AmVets Post 42 – north of Chiefland.
     Riders went to Chiefland Billiards, AmVets Post 88 in Bronson, the City Bar in Trenton, American Legion Post 383 in Old Town, AmVets Post 422 in Fanning Springs, and the Moose Lodge Fanning Springs
     The Levy County Sheriff’s Office provided a safety escort for the riders as they went place to place to seek a win.
     There were several items auctioned and raffled to raise money too. There were give-away door prizes as well during the fun event to raise money for the families.
     The party included food and the main cooks were Paul Arnold, Russ Seymore and Chris Hubbert.
     Gilchrist County Sheriff's Sgt. Noel Ramirez and GCSO Deputy Taylor Lindsey died after being shot April 19 in a Trenton restaurant.
     On Wednesday afternoon (May 23), representatives from several veterans’ groups converged on the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office in Trenton where AmVets Post 42 Commander Bobby Hahn presented checks totaling $6,275 to survivors of the sergeant and deputy.
     Ole Skool Band members Mick Graham, bass guitar, Jeff Norris, lead guitar, and Jimmy Norris, drummer, were among the many people in the room when the check was presented Wednesday afternoon.
     There were three bands at the event on May 12, with Ole Skool Band being the group who got it all going.
     Sheriff Schultz spoke on behalf of the Lindsey and Ramirez families during the presentation program on May 23.
     For the military veterans, who gave of themselves for American Freedom, it means a lot to the families who lost two heroes in that senseless, cowardly attack on April 19, the sheriff said.
     “The glimmer of hope” from this tragedy, the sheriff said, is that “we know we are all family.”
     Through the good times and the bad times, the community will stick together and everyone will be together as one team, he indicated.
     This act by these veterans, Schultz said, reflects that there is more good in this world than there is bad.
     “Sincerely, Sheriff Schultz said, “thank you very much.”
     Veterans from every post involved in the dice run were part of the event to raise the money. There were representatives from almost every post at the presentation on Wednesday afternoon.


Island preps for
2018 Hurricane Season

Cedar Key Police Chief Virgil Sandlin (left) and Cedar Key Fire Chief Robert Robinson stand near a poster that reminds people to evacuate when they are told to do so. The reminder also notes that the shelters for Levy County are all east of U.S. Highway 19.


Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © May 31, 2018 at 11:28 p.m.
     CEDAR KEY --
The Annual Hurricane Day event in Cedar Key on Thursday (May 31) once again provided several key resources and opportunities to island residents and visitors.

In this video, Ryan Watson of Central Florida Electric Cooperative uses a scale model to show how electricity can arc from one point to another point and kill a person.

Evacuation Siren SIgn on Cedar Key
There is a time to leave the island, and one way to know when that time has arrived is to hear the evacuation sirens.

Levy County Emergency Management
Helping all residents and visitors of Levy County to prepare for, endure and recover from disasters, the Levy County Emergency Management Department is comprised of (from left) Director John MacDonald, Assistant Director David Peaton and Planner Leatha Keene. They were helping people Thursday at Cedar Key’s Annual Hurricane Day. These three professionals are part of the statewide network of people in Emergency Management, and they are the team for Levy County.

Ryan Watson of Central Florida Electric Cooperative
Ryan Watson of Central Florida Electric Cooperative stands behind a scale model that he uses to show how electricity can arc from one point to another point and kill a person. This particular learning tool for safety is new, replacing one that served for many years before it wore out.

(from left) Jennifer Krouchick, a candidate for a Master of Science Degree in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Florida; Kristin Buckingham, a recent UF graduate who earned her Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning and who now works in Tallahassee with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, stand with Dr. Kathryn Frank, an associate professor at the UF College of Design, Construction and Planning. They are among the people who designed an excellent website related to informal practices for storm preparations and recovery, which previously had never been documented.

Deputy City Clerk Crystal Sharp and Esta Johnston of Cedar Key
Esta Johnston (at right in a light blue shirt) completes paperwork to obtain her re-entry pass for return to her island home after an evacuation. Helping her and other residents is at left) Deputy City Clerk Crystal Sharp. Sitting at the table but not seen in this photo was Cedar Key City Commissioner Susan Rosenthal.

Cedar Key Vice Mayor Sue Colson and Levy County Commissioner Lilly Rooks
Cedar Key Vice Mayor Sue Colson (left) and Levy County Commissioner Lilly Rooks socialize at the event.

Levy County Mosquito Control
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Mosquito Control Outreach Specialist Caitlin Gill and Levy County Mosquito Control Director Matt Weldon help visitors know about the need to drain areas that rainwater and remain stagnant, and to cover from dusk to dawn to reduce the ability of mosquitoes to cause health issues.

Kearston Andrews and Dr. Mike Allen of UF IFAS NCBS
Kearston Andrews, information specialist with the Office of Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones, (left) helps Dr. Michael ‘Mike’ Allen, a professor of Fisheries and Aquatic Science in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida who works at the Nature Coast Biological Station on Cedar Key, as he registers to be a Cedar Key voter. The Cedar Key resident can now vote in city elections, as well as elections in Levy County, in Florida, and in the United States of America.

Donna Bushnell of Cedar Key Woman's Club
Donna Bushnell of the Cedar Key Woman’s Club stands behind the counter where she is among the women who helped serve hotdogs to people participating in the event on Thursday (May 31) at the Cedar Key Community Center.

     A wealth of information available there can be used to improve the ability to prepare for disaster, get through the event and then to recover from it.
     The golden nuggets of information given at the event come from professionals and lay people across a broad spectrum of life.
     Starting with vital points for residents and business owners, there are some key elements that might have been accomplished right away that morning and afternoon.
     First, there is the attaining of a hurricane re-entry pass. Registering and obtaining the re-entry pass will expedite returning to a homestead after an evacuation.
     This day was not just Hurricane Day on Cedar Key, but also it was Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day - for Cedar Key residents only (no commercial hazardous waste was accepted at this event).
     Cedar Key Vice Mayor Sue Colson explained that she likes this program of convenient hazardous household waste collection offered by Waste Pro, because in the event of a storm surge, or other disaster where the people are returning to their property to salvage what they can, she prefers to see less hazardous materials in the rubble, not to mention what might have been washed out into the Gulf of Mexico had it not been removed to a proper place before a storm event.
     Beyond being able to register for the re-entry pass and being able to drop off household hazardous materials, island residents and others were welcome to walk away with a plethora of information. And the Cedar Key Woman’s Club sponsored hotdogs and drinks for visitors as well.
     Perhaps the crown jewel of the event this year was a brand-new display that came to fruition after Cedar Key Vice Mayor Sue Colson interacted with Jennifer Krouchick, a candidate for a Master of Science Degree in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Florida. Krouchick expects to complete her studies and to accept her Master’s Degree from UF this summer or fall.
     The project that came into being and which was on display Thursday is a very well documented set of informal practices for emergency preparedness and response to hurricanes in the Cedar Key and Rosewood areas of Levy County.
     Dr. Kathryn Frank, an associate professor at the UF College of Design, Construction and Planning oversaw the project that included Krouchick, Kristin Buckingham and Belinda Nettles.
     Buckingham recently graduated UF with her Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning. She works in Tallahassee now with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, primarily in the area of mitigation.
     Nettles, who was unable to attend the event Thursday in Cedar Key, is an MLA and doctoral candidate at the UF College of Design, Construction and Planning.
     The students interviewed Cedar Key officials and residents to create an extensive website with documents that will pass along knowledge to persons who are newly assisting with hurricane preparedness, response and recovery in Cedar Key and Rosewood.
     Dr. Frank, these three graduate students and the UF Student Planning Association completed this project after Hurricane Hermine’s storm surge hit Cedar Key.
     The website is a treasure trove of information to help residents in this part of Florida, however of the lessons can be applied elsewhere, and thinking individuals may modify some of these practices as well as synthesize their own to better weather the storm during Hurricane Season 2018 (June 1-Nov. 30, 2018) in Florida.
     A starting point for the project is Clicking around the website, a person can spend an hour or more and be better prepared for storms and storm recovery. There is even an interactive map, with a wealth of information. The best method for a person to make use of this resource is to visit it, and then to click around.
     Vice Mayor Colson told that she would like to see area Realtors provide newcomers to the Cedar Key area with this and other information, so that they can be better prepared for any potential storm events.
     In addition to the UF professor and scientists, several Levy County departments were at the event to help people as well.
     Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones sent Information Specialist Kearston Andrews. Early on during the morning, Specialist Andrews registered one new voter within the City of Cedar Key and she had helped another voter update his records.
     The Levy County Emergency Management team of Director John MacDonald, Assistant Director David Peaton and Planner Leatha Keene were available to help any person learn about this department’s services.
     Levy County Mosquito Control Director Matt Weldon and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Mosquito Control Outreach Specialist Caitlin Gill were present. Gill works out of the office in Alachua County, but she is responsible for overseeing 12 North Central Florida counties for the FDACS. Weldon is also the director of all parks and recreations under the direction of the Levy County Board of County Commissioners.
     County Commissioner Lilly Rooks, within whose district Cedar Key lies, was present to help constituents find answers as well.
     Representing Waste Pro at the event was Howell E. “Trip” Lancaster III. Lancaster also serves as the mayor of the City of Fanning Springs.
     City of Cedar Key staff were on hand as well, including Police Chief Virgil Sandlin and Fire Chief Robert Robinson. Deputy City Clerk Crystal Sharp helped residents complete paperwork to walk away with the new version of the re-entry certificates.
     Providing an informative presentation about the dangers from electrocution was Central Florida Electric Cooperative Member Services Representative Ryan Watson.
     “Look before you dig,” he said, “and be aware of your surroundings.”
     Watson reminded listeners that there are electric cables buried underground. There are wires going to pump houses and to air conditioners.
     He also explained that electricity can travel on material that may not seem to be able to conduct electricity. A child flying a kite and using a cotton thread can be electrocuted if the thread has been handled by him enough to absorb his or her perspiration.
     Using a scale model, he demonstrated how electricity can arc from an overhead wire to shoot down an aluminum ladder.
     A homeowner could be sweeping leaves off of their roof, he said, and they could come too close to an exposed wire leading into the home from the pole and transformer. Those wires are thoroughly covered with tape when they are installed, he said, however the sun, rain and time can reduce that layer of safety.
     In regard to storm situations, whenever a person sees wires down, they should contact the electric cooperative or other utility provider. Wires that are down may not be sparking, but they can still be live with enough power to kill a person. Wet ground around downed wires carries an electrical charge too and should be avoided.

Missionaries overcome the odds;
Wild Hog Canoe and Kayak Race
scores $21,000 for LARC again

(from left) Justin Maynard, one of Keith and Debbie Maynard’s sons and a member of the Wild Hog Canoe and Kayak Race Board of Directors, Wild Hog Canoe Race Board Member Dave Kunkleman (and Keith Maynard’s best friend) and President of the Wild Hog Canoe Race Keith Maynard stand on the stage before the check presentation on Tuesday morning (May 29) at the LARC campus in the Town of Otter Creek.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © May 29, 2017 at 10:08 p.m.
The 41st Annual Wild Hog Canoe and Kayak Race tied its own highest record for donations from the year before as was shown when race organizers donated $21,000 to the Levy County Association for Retarded Citizens on Tuesday morning (May 29).

(from left) Justin Maynard holds the big representation of the $21,000 check to LARC as his father Keith Maynard speaks about this year’s race and Dave Kunkleman applauds.

Betty Walker holds the plaque she presented to Keith Maynard.

(from left) President of the LARC Board of Directors Randy Stefanelli, LARC Assistant Director Bill Slaughter, Justin Maynard, Keith Maynard, LARC Executive Director Betty Walker and Dave Kunkleman stand with the large check, the actual check and the plaque that was presented by Walker to Keith Maynard.

Standing with their paddles presented during the program Tuesday are (from left) Harry Jenkins, Deborah Morse, Jean Seamon and Myrle Santerfeit for their help at the race this year.

     Standing on the stage of the LARC cafeteria President of the Wild Hog Canoe Race Keith Maynard was joined by Wild Hog Canoe Race Board Member (and one of his sons) Justin Maynard of Williston and Wild Hog Canoe Race Board Member Dave Kunkleman. These are three of the five Wild Hog Canoe Race Board members.
     Debbie Maynard (Keith's wife) was in the audience taking pictures. She is among the people who are working behind the scenes.
     This tie of the record-making donation last year, however, did not occur from more race participants or from a set of 100 percent of loyal donors. Instead, as always since the Maynard family and colleagues accepted this mission, it happened because God gave the supporters what was needed to accomplish the mission, President of the Wild Hog Canoe Race Keith Maynard said.
     The story he told of the river that flowed this year showed paddlers finding the best-ever conditions, which is in contrast with the drought-stricken route of last year that caused several first-time competitors last year to vow not to return for the 2018 event. The whole saga of the event, though, was captured by Keith Maynard as he shared with listeners his message about this fundraiser to help individuals and families meet some special needs.
     The race is a very difficult task, President Maynard said, from the pre-registration phase, to setting it up through taking it down.
     “I wanted everyone to know,” he continued, “that we are thankful that God has chosen us to do this for y’all. It is such a blessing to us.”
     When Maynard and his colleagues accepted the duties of the Wild Hog Canoe and Kayak Race six-plus years ago, he said, they took it over as a ministry. To be able to provide for the clients and others connected with LARC in a special way, he said, is the reason everyone dedicates as much as they do to make the vent succeed.
     “So far every year,” Maynard said, “God has increased the amount of boats we have in the race. And has even supplied more money than the previous year. But I can say this year was a little bit different.”
     The Wild Hog Canoe Race organizers faced several problems this past year, Maynard said. Fourteen to 16 major sponsors chose against renewing this year, he said.
     “The ones that did come back,” he continued, “stepped it up to the next level. Many went to the $500 level, when they were at the $200 level.”
     Maynard took a moment to speak about one particular sponsor. Rodney Wade of Wade Custom Homes has been a strong sponsor every year, Maynard said. He has been the finish line sponsor since the group took over the race six years ago.
     This year, he wrote a check for $2,500 as a donation, Maynard said. The Wade family has gone above and beyond to help LARC, Maynard said.
     “We were also down on boats this year,” Maynard said. “Last year, we had 138 boats in the race. This year, we only had 107.”
     Thirty-one boats at $40 a boat also decreased the amount the group could donate to LARC, he said.
     Last year’s water levels, he said, is what he is attributing to the decreased participation in boaters.
     Daniel Maynard has raced during the past 10 years, Keith Maynard said of his son.
     “He said this was the easiest, most enjoyable race he had ever been in,” Maynard said. “So, I think that is really going to boost attendance next year.”
     He said this was a difficult year, adding that God is faithful.
     “We are thankful in getting to serve you,” Maynard said to the people of LARC. “We just feel so blessed to be called of God to do this for you. It is a lot of work; but I am going to tell you, it is a lot of fun. We get a lot of enjoyment out of doing this for you.”
     While there were fewer boats and some sponsors did not donate this year, the crowd at the finish line was the biggest ever, Maynard said.
     When he bought food, he wondered if he had purchased too much because of the reduced number of boaters. However, it worked out very well.
     “We bought (an amount of food) expecting God to do something,” he said. “We bought 200 pounds of (French) fries. We had one bag left. We had 200 hotdogs. One hotdog left. We had 200 hamburgers. No hamburgers left. We bought 100 pounds of fish. There was one bag left. It was a blessing to see how God utilized all that food, and even though we were down on boaters, we were not down on attendance at the finish line.”
     The people “stayed and they stayed, and they kept eating and eating. It was a blessing”
     Maynard said he is thankful for the awesome set of volunteers, who come year after year.
     “It looked like we were going to be short on volunteers this year,” he added, “and the staff from LARC stepped in and filled that gap. I thank every one of you for what y’all did.”
     Before presenting the check, Maynard said “This is God’s ministry, and He is the one who provides.”
     Even with a lower participation rate of boaters, and other hardships – including a first-ever $1,500 fee for legal services – Maynard was able to present the check that ties with last year’s highest ever donation from the Wild Hog Canoe and Kayak Race.
     After he made his presentation, LARC Executive Director Betty Walker gave him a plaque with a picture from this year’s race and the inscription read “In appreciation to Keith Maynard for countless hours and year-long preparation to the Wild Hog Canoe & Kayak Race benefitting the Levy ARC and our community. Your vision, leadership and support continue to improve and expand the event every year. Thank you and your great team of helpers.”
     Director Walker also presented 41st Annual Wild Hog Canoe & Kayak Race paddles to Harry Jenkins, Deborah Morse, Jean Seamon and Myrle Santerfeit for their help at the race this year.
     Jenkins, who provided the wild hog as another part of the fundraiser, said he plans to lead the Ride To Provide program this year. The Ride To Provide was started long ago by Sean Mullins and family. This is a 60-mile motorcycle ride through the rural areas in this part of Florida.
     Motorcyclists are escorted by Levy County Sheriff’s Office deputies and this is another fundraiser for LARC.
     At the conclusion of the presentation, LARC clients told the donors that they are very thankful for the gifts they have given to help keep LARC going.



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