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Sheriff Bobby Schultz serves
as keynote speaker
at Gilchrist County AARP event;
States that a new jail is needed
(from left) GCSO Lt. Keagon Weatherford, Sheriff Bobby Schultz, GCSO Chief Financial Officer Jeannine Pfannschmidt and GCSO Capt. Sheryl Brown sit at the honored guests table of the AARP meeting at the ForVets Lodge of Otter Springs Park and Campground.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 16, 2019 at 10:08 p.m.
GILCHRIST COUNTY -- Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz provided the members and guests of Gilchrist County AARP Chapter #2133 with a thorough review of law enforcement matters on Tuesday (Jan. 15), during the monthly AARP meeting that was held in the ForVets Lodge House at Otter Springs Park and Campground.
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Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz addresses the crowd at the AARP Chapter 2133 meeting.
Sheriff Schultz spoke about the tragic deaths of two on-duty Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office deputies who were gunned down in April of 2018 as they ate lunch in Trenton. He shared with listeners some facts about the need for a new Gilchrist County Jail.
Also during the AARP meeting, which was led by President Sheila Smith, Vice President Debbie Destin and other officers and directors, there was information from Health Chair Susan Wells, Legal Minutes Chair Julie Waldman, Alzheimer Chair Kathryn Lancaster and others. As always, it was a meeting full of information and fellowship.
There was also a lunch of soup, salad or sandwiches, drinks and desserts.
Many members remembered to bring a "Can In Hand" of non-perishable and hygienic items for the local food bank as well.
Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff Schultz said he feels blessed to work with a team of deputies, correctional officers and support staff at the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office.
“I don’t take it for granted,” Sheriff Schultz said. “I understand the magnitude of the calling for whcih I have been given. And I take it very seriously.”
The sheriff said he does not think he is perfect. He has done and will do, however, everything to the best of his ability.
Every member of the GCSO, he said, like the community as a whole, are one team with one mission. The GCSO seeks to assure that Gilchrist County remains a place that is safe to live, work and play in, Sheriff Schultz said.
Being given the opportunity to address the AARP each January with a state of law enforcement in Gilchrist County is a privilege, he said, and he feels honored to be able to share this information with the people.
AARP Legal Minutes Chair Waldman, Sheriff Schultz said, has been able to tell people about scams.
The sheriff told people to never give their credit card information to people calling them out of the blue. The Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office does not call people seeking money to bail out a family member. This is a scam that has been tried before.
He spoke about the murder of two deputies. In the aftermath of that, he said, the GCSO started from scratch again.
“We lost a lot of people,” Sheriff Schultz said, “through attrition, and by people who thought they had seen enough. They said ‘enough is enough’ and they got out of the field.”
The sheriff said there are some people in the GCSO who still struggle with the impact from the senseless murder of two deputies while they were having lunch in Trenton.
The sheriff said the men and women who are on the GCSO team now strive constantly to provide their best for the resident and visitors of Gilchrist County. Some number of the road deputies people may have seen last year are not seen this year, he added.
The sheriff said there was some reorganization. All of the members are all doing their best, he said, and they have all “stepped up to the plate.”
Crime in Gilchrist County, Sheriff Schultz said, is continuing to decline. One crime went up in 2018 – murders – because there were two.
In 2013, when he entered the office as sheriff, Schultz said, there were in excess of 100 burglaries reported in the county.
As of last year, there were 32, he said, adding that his effort to work to reduce illegal drug sales in the county works in reducing burglaries as well.
While the success of the agency could make it seem like “the windshield last year,” perhaps this year the GCSO will “be the bug.”
Success last year, he said, was despite being understaffed.
With the help of the people of Gilchrist County and the Board of County Commissioners, the GCSO is fully staffed now, Sheriff Schultz said.
One problem was the lack of a pay raise for deputies since the start of 2006, he said. Starting pay was $30,000 a year, he said.
He offset the argument of a person signing up as a public servant.
“No,” he said. “You did not sign up to get killed. No one is going to walk into the Sheriff’s Office (as a deputy applicant) and say ‘I want to get shot.’”
The sheriff said life and death situations are not an everyday occurrence for every law enforcement officer. Deputies must be trained, however, as medical professionals, psychologists, corrections or detention officers, deputy sheriffs, counselors and mediators.
The sheriff said people called into law enforcement with the Sheriff’s Office know they must perform in these roles.
Sheriff Schultz said he is glad now, too, that deputies are seeing a reasonable starting pay to work in Gilchrist County.
The new starting annual salary for deputies and correctional officers is $34,000 in the GCSO, he said.
As a result of the pay increase, the number of applicants went from zero to at least 100, he added.
It was not just the increase in pay that attracted the new talent, Sheriff Schultz said. The people who came to help immediately after the murder of the two deputies saw that the community supported its Sheriff’s Office, Schultz said, and they shared that they would like to work in this county.
The deputies who are part of this team are all qualified and they all want to be in Gilchrist County, he said.
When the sheriff started there was only one dispatcher.
The GCSO dispatchers are responsible to take calls for police, fire and EMS.
The number of dispatchers went from one to three under Sheriff’s Schultz’s administration, because of growth in the county and because he saw the need that had to be met.
Another important topic the sheriff addressed was the need for a new Gilchrist County Jail.
The majority of Gilchrist County voters (70 percent) chose “No” on a straw ballot poll that asked if people would pay more taxes to pay for a new jail.
Sheriff Schultz said the wording on the poll was not reflexive of what may happen, and there was not enough of an effort to show the voters about how badly a new jail is needed.
This is the Gilchrist County Commissioners’ jail, Schultz said. He has agreed to run it.
Sheriff Schultz said a new jail is needed.
Housing Gilchrist County jail inmates in either the Levy County Jail or the Dixie County Jail is an option, he said. However, this method would be more expensive than building a new jail. It would take more tax dollars to do that, he said.
“Ultimately,” he said, “if it up to the citizens and the County Commission to make those decisions.”
Between now and a possible 202 vote, Sheriff Schultz said he must make some choices in relatively short order to take care of potential officer safety issues that exist at the jail.
“If I can’t run it the way it should be run,” Sheriff Schultz said, “if I can’t provide safety for my officers, and the inmates, then I am not going to do it.”
The sheriff said he does not believe it will come to that, although it is an option he may exercise.
Schultz encourages everyone to talk to their neighbors, and their county commissioners when this question is put on the ballot in a couple of years.
The sheriff this is not about a problem between him and the County Commission. The entire crux of the situation is about the money required to safely and properly house and care for the suspected criminals who end up in the Gilchrist County Jail.
However it happens, he said, the county needs a new jail – and he believes the people can make that happen as one team and one mission.
National Blood Donation Month
Health Chair Susan Wells told all of the AARP members and guests that January is Blood Donor Month across the country, according to the American Red Cross.
She said that 38 percent of the United States’ population is able to donate blood, but only 10 percent donate. Wells said the LifeSouth Community Blood Service bloodmobile is often available.
There also are donation opportunities at the LifeSouth Community Blood Center, 2202 N Young Blvd. (in the same plaza as Winn-Dixie).
The meeting included door prizes and a luncheon. The Gilchrist County AARP Chapter is thriving, however there is always room for more members – especially people who will step up in time to take leadership roles.
The annual dues are a mere $10.
Christmas effort succeeds
This is a link to a video clip provided by Camp Anderson Camp Director William Bloodworth of the three-day 2018 Christmas at Camp Anderson event. It shows the participants having a lot of fun.
Published Jan. 15, 2019 at 7:08 a.m.
DIXIE COUNTY -- Camp Anderson Camp Director William Bloodworth shared with friends and supporters of the Christmas at Camp Anderson event that is was very successful this year, as it has been before.
"Thank you so much for your ongoing generosity and support here at Camp Anderson," Bloodworth noted in a Jan. 13 email. "This Christmas we were able to host 225 at risk kids for a three-day event named 'Christmas at Camp Anderson'.
"These kids are all from the child welfare system either in foster care or group homes," Bloodworth continued. "These kids would not have had a Christmas like this without your generosity and support."
During the event, each child was given three personalized gifts and a stocking with their name on it. The effort resulted in every child being presented with a nice bible as well, Bloodworth noted
"he gifts that they received let them know that they are loved," he said, "and it opened their hearts so we could share the good news of the greatest gift ever given, Jesus Christ!"
There were 36 children who gave their lives to Christ, he noted, and 15 for baptism.
"What a blessing! We are full! And thankful!" Bloodworth exclaimed.
Bob Rackleff announces
success in registering voters
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 9, 2019 at 10:08 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE – Bob Rackleff, the Democrat who ran against U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn (R-District 2 Florida), sent an email Wednesday (Jan. 9) to show success in registering new voters in Leon County.
“Yesterday, we registered 105 Florida ex-felons to vote at the Leon County Supervisor of Elections office!” Rackleff noted. “Most memorable for me was an 89-year-old black man, driven there by his wife, now registered and able to vote for the first time.”
Rackleff’s email included his opinions as well as what he found as background information about the recently enacted revision to Florida voting laws. The rest of his email is noted verbatim below.
“Our new Amendment 4 took effect on Tuesday, ending 150 years of Florida’s racist lifetime ban on voting by anyone convicted of a felony.
“This lifetime ban was adopted in Florida’s 1868 Constitution, as part of the infamous “Black Codes” by ex-Confederates to subjugate newly-freed slaves. Despite progress in other areas, successive state governments failed to rescind this notorious injustice.
“In fact, Governor (now U.S. Senator!) Rick Scott made a mockery of the clemency process, the only way to regain voting rights, during his eight-year rule. Out of an estimated 1.4 million Floridians (and 1/4 of all voting-age blacks) barred from voting, he granted clemency to only 3,500 petitions in eight years.
“But a petition drive placed Amendment 4 on the 2018 ballot, which passed with 64 percent of the vote. It made restoration of voting rights automatic upon completion of sentence, including probation and parole. And January 8 it became law.
“Two months ago, several of us saw a need to inform and mobilize ex-felons, so we founded the Big Bend Voting Rights Project (it sounded better than the name of the coffee shop where we meet) to do that, beginning with an event at the Leon supervisor’s office yesterday.
“We also expect our Republican rulers to attempt sabotage, with a few already proposing roadblocks to what is obviously a self-executing automatic restoration law. Voter suppression is one of their core competencies. So we may have to take them to court.
“In the meantime, most county supervisors are complying without hesitation, and the BBVRP (burp?) will reach out to statewide and other local voting rights organizations for a more systematic drive to keep this momentum going. We’re especially eager to have an impact on the 2020 election here, which could be considerable.”
Rackleff ended his email with a wish for a happy new year to all of the recipients.
Assistant district governor
finds Dixie County Rotarians
serving others inspirationally
Rotary Club District 6940 Assistant District Governor (Area 10) Jana Carlisle presents Rotarian Katrina Gross VanAernam with the district governor’s pin for the 2018-19 Rotary Year. To the right in the photo is VanAernam’s son Zach DesJardin, and in the background is Rotarian Tonya Howell.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 3, 2019 at 12:48 p.m.
CROSS CITY – Rotary Club District 6940 Assistant District Governor (Area 10) Jana Carlisle, visited the Dixie County Rotary Club on Wednesday afternoon in Cross City.
Dixie County Rotary Club President Anne G. Hodges, CPA, and Rotarian Holly Houghton go through sets of lists of things that must be done to assure a fun Daddy-Daughter Dance. The extensive set of materials and logistics have evolved to make the 8th Annual Daddy-Daughter Dance set to be Jan. 26 at Camp Anderson show promise of being the best ever.
Rotarian Rebecca Fusco (left) holds up the backdrop for the Daddy-Daughter Dance with its theme this year of Fantasy Castle. Looking at the backdrop is Rotary Club President Anne Hodges.
Carlisle saw this set of Rotarians were serving others as well as being inspirational while they prepared for the 8th Annual Daddy-Daughter Dance set to be Jan. 26 at the Pavilion of Camp Anderson in Dixie County.
Rotarians are found in all sorts of business interests and literally around the globe.
For instance, Assistant Governor Carlisle has been helping people at Drummond Community Bank in various capacities for 15 years.
Rotary Club District 6940 includes several Florida counties. In District 10, those clubs are Chiefland, Dixie County, Gilchrist County, Suwannee Valley and Williston. Carlisle’s home club is the Rotary Club of Williston.
John A Medina Sr. is the current 6940 district governor, and the district governor-elect is Innes C. Richards.
Anne G. Hodges, CPA, is not only the president of the Dixie County Rotary Club, but she is the president-elect for that club.
President Hodges, was joined by UF/IFAS Dixie County Extension Director Holly Houghton in leading the organization for the upcoming dance, which is one of the fundraisers for this club.
Other members who were active at the Cypress Inn Restaurant during this particular meeting were Hayward Anderson, a retired owner of Cross City’s Badcock & More; Rebecca Fusco, an administrative consultant with the Dixie County Anti-Drug Coalition; Dixie County School District Assistant Superintendent (finance) Tonya Howell; Dixie County Clerk of Court Dana Johnson; Project Manager Jered Lizotte of Locklear and Associates; Managing Business Partner Lucas Rollison of Cross City Reeds Metals; and Executive Director Katrina Gross VanAernam of the Dixie County Anti-Drug Coalition.
Fusco was accompanied by her children Danielle Fusco, 10, and Anthony Fusco, 7. VanAernam was accompanied by her son Zach DesJardin who owns Family Ties Lawn & Landscape. He is a 2009 graduate of Dixie County High School.
Other members of the Dixie County Rotary Club include Jeanine Hurst, office manager of Cross City Dental; Andrew Rains, insurance agent with Nature Coast Insurance; Heather Smith, bank manager of Drummond Community Bank; Debby Sweem, administrative coordinator with Overcomers; Crystal Toler, an education coach at Florida Gateway College; and Kimbo VanAernam, a business owner in the timber industry.
Assistant District Governor Carlisle presented each member who was present with the governor’s pin for this Rotary year. She left pins for the Rotarians who were unable to attend that day.
The main goal of the meeting Wednesday afternoon was continued preparation for the big dance. For the Rotarians who may not have read what she submitted to HardisonInk.com and was first published on the LIFE PAGE on Dec. 27, President Hodges read it.
The meeting started promptly and ended on time as well. Members and most of the guests enjoyed meals, although Fusco’s two children prepared their own lunches of macaroni and cheese, and hotdogs, before their Mom swooped them over to enjoy a Rotary Club meeting.
The Rotarians sand God Bless America, recited The Pledge of Allegiance (to the flag of the United States of America), recited The Four Way Test of Rotary, reminded each other to put service above self, and recited the theme initiated this year by 2018-19 Rotary Club International President Barry Rassin, who has his home club at the Rotary Club of East Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas.
The theme for the 2018-19 Rotary Year is to “Be The Inspiration.”
Mark Daniel Maloney, of the Rotary Club of Decatur, Ala., is the selection of the Nominating Committee for President of Rotary International for 2019-20. If selected, Maloney will choose the theme for the next Rotary Year, which begins July 1. Maloney is a partner in a law firm.
As far as Rotary Club International, it is noted on that website that “Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.
“Solving real problems takes real commitment and vision. For more than 110 years, Rotary's people of action have used their passion, energy and intelligence to take action on sustainable projects,” the notation continues. “From literacy and peace to water and health, we are always working to better our world, and we stay committed to the end.”
Clyatt House Learning Center
Christmas program is
a resounding, fun success
Early Head Start babies (from left) Ryder Arrington, Jake Hardin, Ella Hardin Isabella Gray, Sierra Hernandez and Lavina Rainone were the opening act and a big hit with the crowd. Their teachers behind them are Lynn Hill, Sumer Hardin and Joyce Doss.
Story and Photos
By Terry Witt, HardisonInk.com Correspondent
© Dec. 22, 2018 at 2:38 p.m. All Rights Reserved
CHIEFLAND -- Education can be fun.
The children who performed at the annual Clyatt House Learning Center Christmas program Thursday night (Dec. 20) proved it.
The Toddler Class from the "little school" are (from left) Dawson Barnes, Amberlee Koehler, M.J. Hollis and Johnathan Sanford. They were taught by Brittany Johns, Justina Wix, Mandy Ratliff and Katelynn Tremblay.
Early Head Start class members (from left) Aniyah Ward, Noah Young and Kinsley Ippolito perform for the crowd. Their teachers were Baylee Canon, Haley Barton and Jamie Pitts.
Malayna Yarell (left) and Samara Smith relish their roles in the PreK/VPK class. Their teachers were Alicia Hamm and Dinah Ramos.
Head Start A students (from left) Wyatt Miller, Cade Watson, Draco Hardee and Harmony Dexter show off their stage skills. Their teachers are Kathy Crews and Nicole Webb.
Head Start B students (from left) Kaylyn Housekeeper, McKylah Fowler, Jordan Vrabell, Declan Webb and Trinity Webb perform for the crowd. Their teachers are Tabetha Turner and Sherri Bass.
Head Start C students (from left0 Summer Jones, Landry Ellis, Zoey Horton, Rylee Wasson and Shawn Smith sing and dance as red Santas. Their teachers are Bobbie Jo Vargas and Cassie Skelton.
After school class K-5 students Braylee and Brynlee Ratliff perform their roles on stage. Their teachers are Kathy Crews and Tessa Banno.
Performing a rip-roaring finale are Clyatt House Learning Center staff members (from left) Vicky Pitts, Kathy Crews as Mrs. Claus, Sherry Nygard as Santa, Alicia Hamm, Whitney Bell and Natasha Hinkle.
Teachers found a way to manage 215 excited children in a crowded auditorium and lead them to the stage when it was time for each class to perform their dance and son routines.
Vicky Pitts, who owns the center with husband Frank, said the Christmas performance was a treat for the students, but they learned something too.
“I would say part of it is education because we teach the kids routines and make them prepare for their parts,” she said.
The children ranged in age from 8 months to 10 years. The babies were an instant hit with the crowd when the curtains opened at the start of the show.
They were seated on a blanket in front of their three teachers as the song “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” filled the auditorium.
The Christmas show was scheduled months in advance. Absolutely no one could have foreseen that a major winter storm would develop in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm was forecast to hit the West Coast of Florida on Thursday (Dec. 20).
Pitts seemed unfazed by the storm earlier that afternoon. She told a reporter she would pray for clear skies.
As it turned out, the skies were indeed clear when the show started at Chiefland Middle High School Auditorium. The rain had stopped and the wind was calm.
“We prayed it would be clear when we got here…and it was clear,” she said with a smile.