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Owl Finds Camera
An owl discovers one of the Stealth cameras at The Ink Pad on Aug. 10, 2020, at 1:47 that Monday morning. This owl is named Ike. It is a Burrowing Owl, which is one of the smallest owls found in North America. It is a ground-dwelling species and lives in burrows made by prairie dogs, ground squirrels, armadillos, skunks or tortoises. These owls are active both during the day and at night, mostly searching for their prey. These owls usually feast upon insects during daytime and hunt down small mammals in the dark, according to information on The Internet. A screech owl has been heard at The Ink Pad too.
Video By Jeff M. Hardison © Aug. 11, 2020 at 5:10 p.m.
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Column and Photos
By Myrtice Scabarozi
Published Aug. 10, 2020 at 11:10 a.m.
LEVY COUNTY -- The Log Cabin Quilters met in the Levy County Quilt Museum -- 11050 N.W. 10th Ave. on Thursday (Aug. 6).
We had a large tote dropped off, which gave us something to work on. We appreciate the donation and enjoyed going through it. Thanks for thinking of us.
Tuesday morning (Aug. 4), we found a wooden frame on the porch of the Levy County Quilt Museum. No hardware came with it, nor were there instructions with it. We think it is an old curtain stretcher. The frame doesn’t do well as a picture. You really need to see it at the Museum. We would love your input regarding this frame.
We hope all of you are OK, as active cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations from the virus and deaths are still increasing in the Tri-County Area. So far, all of us Log Cabin Quilters are OK. Unfortunately, some of us know those who have gotten the virus and a few who have passed away. Our hearts are with those battling the virus, and with all the families who have lost family members. We will get through this.
For more information about the Levy County Quilt Museum, please visit our website at https://levycountyquiltmuseum.org/.
The Levy County Quilt Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
If you're tired off the summer heat, these placemats remind us that winter will be here soon.
One of the panels that was donated recently. I love the bright colors.
signs with Warner University
to play football
(from left) Mike Reynolds (Dad), Michael Reynolds, Lisa Reynolds (Mom) and Michael’s twin sister Madison Reynolds pause for a photo opportunity at the signing ceremony on Friday.
Photos and Information Provided by Lisa Reynolds
Edited By Jeff M. Hardison © Aug. 8, 2020 at 9:10 p.m.
WILLISTON – Williston High School graduate Michael Reynolds, the twin brother of Madison Reynolds, signed to play football as a member of the Royals Football Team at Warner University in Lake Wales.
This cake’s message is clear.
Michael Reynolds, football player at Warner University and his twin sister Madison Reynolds, softball player at Jacksonville University stand out as some of Williston’s alumni.
This table of family members is (from left) Ryan Spencer (Michael’s and Madison’s) brother holding Cooper (their nephew) Samantha Spencer (their sister-in-law), Kyle Spencer (brother), Lisa Reynolds (Mom), Michael Reynolds, Mike Reynolds (Dad), Madison Reynolds (sister), Seth Spencer (brother) and Chelsea Spencer (sister-in-law).
Here are Lisa Reynolds, Michael Reynolds, Mike Reynolds and Madison Reynolds as Michael signs with Warner University.
Seth Spencer, Ryan Spencer, Michael Reynolds, Madison Reynolds and Kyle Spencer are all brothers and a sister.
During the signing ceremony on Friday evening (Aug. 7) in the new indoor training facility of Williston Middle High School, at the old site of Williston High School, WMHS Head Varsity Football Coach Ric Whittington said Michael Reynolds was a very disciplined player who provided a positive impact on the WHS Football Program, by his actions on and off the field.
Coach Whittington said this young man demonstrated what he likes to see, as far as what a Williston football player is supposed to achieve in his senior year.
The coach said it was an honor and fun to coach Reynolds in the WMHS football season when the player was a senior. Finding how to put Reynolds into play both offensively and defensively to impact the game was always an enjoyable part of the coaching experience for Whittington last year, he said on Friday.
The coach felt that Reynolds was a big part of the reason for success in a lot of the good games by the Red Devils last year.
His high school athletic success was a continuation of sports that Reynolds began when he was much younger.
Reynolds played both baseball and football since Little League. He was among the WMHS Varsity Baseball Team that earned the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 1-A State Championship last year, but he chose football as the sport to play as he goes on to college.
From the four offers presented to Reynolds, he chose Warner University’s offer.
In academics, the young man finished 18th in his class with Cum laude honors.
In his senior year as a Red Devil Varsity football player, Reynolds averaged seven tackles each game. He played defensive end and offensive guard. He only played a few games his junior year. He was defensive line Most Valuable Player this past year.
His senior year of baseball was cut short from the COVID-19 pandemic, but he pitched and as well as played third base. As far as his offense in baseball last year, the only homerun hit that shortened season by a varsity Red Devil was his.
Reynolds has strong family support and his years at Warner University are bound to be memorable for him.
The Nov. 16, 2019 story, photos and video of Madison Reynolds on HardisonInk.com, where she is signing with Jacksonville University to play softball, can be accessed by clicking HERE.
FWC revises guidelines
for threatened gopher tortoise
By Carli Segelson of the FWC
Published July 24, 2020 at 7:10 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) on Thursday (July 23), approved revisions to the Gopher Tortoise Permitting Guidelines.
The revisions include clarifications and updates to data, permitting and mitigation requirements. The goals of these changes are to clarify and streamline the permitting process, improve the quality of data and methods used to collect it, and improve the conservation value and effectiveness of relocation activities.
FWC staff will work with stakeholders to address safety concerns with the ATV provisions.
The Gopher Tortoise Management Plan and associated Guidelines provide the management framework for gopher tortoise conservation in Florida.
Gopher Tortoise Permitting Guidelines clarify protections, outline activities where permits are needed, provide methods and qualifications for individuals conducting gopher tortoise relocation, and outline requirements for sites that receive gopher tortoises.
he initial Guidelines were approved in 2008 and multiple revisions over the years have allowed for continued improvement in the permitting process and in conservation for the gopher tortoise.
To see a couple of videos of gopher tortoises recently seen in the Tri-County Area, visit the CALENDAR PAGE.
To learn more about gopher tortoises in Florida, click HERE.
Golf carts nixed for now
on Williston city streets
By Jeff M. Hardison © July 22, 2020 at 7:10 p.m.
WILLISTON -- Residents at the Williston Crossing RV Resort, through City Councilwoman Debra Jones, asked the City Council on Tuesday night (July 21) for permission to drive golf carts in the northeast quadrant of the city.
Jones said the RV residents would not take the golf carts across the U.S. Alt. 27 or the various state roads. Even with those boundaries, the cart-riders could reach Hitchcock’s to go grocery shopping.
After a discussion, the City Council said “No.” However, if the resort residents return with a detailed request, then the City Council will consider the proposal again.
During the discussion, Interim City Manager Dennis Strow, who is normally the police chief, shared information with the City Council why he would be against the proposal.
Some time ago, Strow said, Sumter County was reporting 75 golf cart crashes a month.
Strow said he spoke with a police chief in a neighboring jurisdiction who told him that city is seeing crashes with injuries.
“One problem they are seeing is they are having juveniles driving,” Strow said. “Under Florida law, at the age of 14 you can drive a golf cart without a license.”
Since 1990, Strow said, golf carts in America have increased 300 percent. Thirty percent of the accidents occur on streets, he said. Children make up 30 percent of the golf cart victims with injuries, he said.
Forty percent of the serious injuries to golf cart crash victims are from people being thrown out of the cart, Strow said. And 60 percent of the accidents, overall, he added, involve senior citizens and children.
“A golf cart is simply not made to be on public streets,” Williston Interim City Manager Strow said.
As a professional law enforcement officer for many decades, Strow said certain images are imbedded in his memory.
“I’ll never forget,” Strow said, “I was in a golf cart community. When a man (in a golf cart) was on the way home from the community center, when it was rear-ended by a pickup truck going 35 miles per hour. I’ll never forget that.”
With no doors or seatbelts, the potential for serious injury from being ejected from the golf cart hit by another vehicle is increased, Strow intimated.
About six months ago, Strow said, a person died after being ejected from a golf cart and hitting their head on the sidewalk when they landed.
Strow said that as the interim city manager or as the police chief, he will obey the City Council commands. He just wants the City Council to understand his reasons for being against this proposal.
City Council President Charles Goodman said he has a golf cart that does not have the equipment to be used on the road, but as a person he is in favor of using a golf cart in the northwest quadrant, where he lives. Goodman said he has a neighbor who wanted to take a couple of children to a park in that quarter of the city but did not want to use a car. She wanted to use a golf cart, Goodman said, but could not do so because that would violate the law.
President Goodman said he is against allowing golf carts on Williston streets as a member of City Council, because this would create “a logistical nightmare” for the Williston Police Department to enforce whatever rules were established to allow certain people to use golf carts in certain parts of the city.
Officers would have to check safety equipment, and issue either verbal warnings, written warnings or citations for infractions.
City Councilwoman Marguerite Robinson said she would be against allowing golf carts to be driven in the city.
City Council Vice President Justin Head said he would be against it because every quadrant will want it to be allowed in their quarter of the city.
City Councilman Elihu Ross stated no opinion on the matter because he was absent Tuesday night.
Other than asking for a detailed request from the RV resort, no action was taken.
Residents invited to enjoy
a stay-cation in Levy County
By Jeff M. Hardison © June 30, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.
WILLISTON – Levy County residents may want to enjoy a stay-cation here, Levy County Visitors Bureau Executive Director
Tisha Whitehurst noted in an email Monday (June 29).
Serving also as the Levy County Film Commissioner and Tourist Development Council director, Whitehurst often invites out-of-county visitors to spend the night at locations in the county.
Meanwhile, right now, she is reminding residents of the advantages available for safe family fun in Levy County. Rather than a vacation, for Levy County folks this is a stay-cation. By enjoying the fun in Levy County, residents can tell others about what they experienced here.
There is no need to travel to Orlando or other hotspots for tourists, when natural Florida is right here.
Levy County is a great place for social distancing with family, Whitehurst said as she recognizes the need to not spread COVID-19.
“We have more than enough to keep families busy and safe while enjoying the summer break before the return to school in August,” she said. “Check out the Explore link for a list of options in the area.”
Click HERE to see the Explore link for a list of recreational options in Levy County.
“We have a wide range of options to entertain multiple generations,” Whitehurst said.
These include kayaking, fishing, scalloping, swimming, hiking, horseback riding, birding, and state parks to visit.
Here is one of the many stories about things to see in Levy County. This story includes a video of an otter chasing fish in Yankeetown. Click HERE to see it.
She recommends that visitors check with the Levy County parks or state parks for hours and availability before planning to visit. All of the boat ramps are open in Levy County, except the one at the western end of Levy County Road 40 in Yankeetown, because it remains under construction with improvements.
Blue Spring and Henry Beck Parks currently are open at full capacity. Both parks are open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Take some time to check for updates, though, because conditions can change quickly.
Blue Springs is open every day of the week. Henry Beck is open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.
Admission is $2 per person at both parks. Kids 5 and younger are free. No passes this year. Social distancing is encouraged.
For more information about all of the county parks, boat ramps and recreation in Levy County, visit https://www.levycounty.org/department/parks_and_recreation/index.php.
As for the three state parks in Levy County, see below.
The link to the Manatee Springs State Park is https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/manatee-springs-state-park.
The link to Fanning Springs State Park is https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/fanning-springs-state-park.
The link to the Nature Coast State Trail is https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/nature-coast-state-trail.
With multiple trails for hiking or riding, families can get outside and enjoy nature together.
“This summer EXPLORE the area you live in, and let the souvenirs be the memories you will make having fun with your family!” Whitehurst exclaimed.
The new office location for the Levy County TDC is 607 S.W. First Ave. in Williston. The office number is 352-528-4030. The email is email@example.com. The website is https://visitnaturecoast.com/.
Regional Bay scallop seasons
open in the area - see the map
Story, Map and Photo
By the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Published June 9, 2020 at 10:10 a.m.
Updated June 24, 2020 at 4:10 p.m,.
TALLAHASSEE -- The 2020 recreational bay scallop season for the region started opening June 15 and will remain open through Labor Day (Sept. 7, 2020).
This includes all state waters from the Suwannee River to the Fenholloway River and includes the towns of Keaton Beach and Steinhatchee. Please check the map below for specific areas and dates.
The daily bag limit from June 15-30 in this area is 1 gallon of whole bay scallops in shell or 1 cup shucked per person OR 5 gallons whole or 2 pints shucked per vessel.
From July 1 through Labor Day in this area and all season long in other areas when open, regular bag and vessel limits apply. Regular season limits are 2 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell or 1 pint of bay scallop meat per person, with a maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell or 1/2 gallon bay scallop meat per vessel (1/2 gallon = 4 pints).
Vessel limits do not allow an individual to exceed their personal bag limit.
Map By FWC
Other 2020 Season Dates
Additional bay scallop season dates are as follows:
● Joseph Bay/Gulf County: Aug. 16 through Sept. 24. This region includes all state waters from the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County to the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County.
● Franklin County through northwestern Taylor County (including Carrabelle, Lanark and St. Marks): July 1 through Sept. 24. This region includes all state waters from the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County to the mouth of the Fenholloway River in Taylor County.
● Levy, Citrus and Hernando counties (including Cedar Key, Crystal River and Homosassa): July 1 through Sept. 24. This region includes all state waters from the mouth of the Suwannee River in Levy County to the Hernando–Pasco county line.
● Pasco County: Open for 10 days starting the third Friday in July (July 17-26, 2020). This region includes all state waters south of the Hernando–Pasco county line and north of the Anclote Key Lighthouse including all waters of the Anclote River.
● Scallops may be collected by hand or with a landing or dip net.
● There is no commercial harvest allowed for bay scallops in Florida.
● Direct and continuous transit of legally harvested bay scallops is now allowed through closed areas. Boaters may not stop their vessels in waters that are closed to harvest and must proceed directly to the dock or ramp to land scallops in a closed area.
For information on bay scallop regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops” under the “Crabs, Shrimp and Shellfish” tab.
Boater and scalloper safety
Be safe when diving for scallops. Wear a life jacket when underway and do not drink and boat. When scalloping in open water, divers should stay within 300 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag or device, and within 100 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag or device if on a river, inlet or navigation channel.
Boat operators traveling within 300 feet of a divers-down flag or device in open water or within 100 feet of one on a river, inlet or navigational channel must slow to idle speed.
Florida Forest Service
By FDACS Office of Communications
Published June 22, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE – As Independence Day approaches, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Forest Service announced that additional Florida State Forest recreation areas are reopening as they move to an online, cash-free point-of-sale (POS) system.
“As we reopen additional Florida State Forest recreation areas, we encourage everyone to be cautious during COVID-19 and to take advantage of our state’s natural treasures responsibly,” Commissioner Fried said. “The online, cash-free sale system will help everyone safely enjoy all that our Florida State Forests have to offer, including trailheads, campsites, and off-highway vehicle areas.”
Dates you need to know:
June 24: Annual Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) passes will be available for purchase. Passes are valid for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2020 and ends June 30, 2021.
July 1: Day-use passes for recreation areas, including trailheads and OHV riding areas, will be available for purchase.
July 10: Group campsites, picnic pavilions and group recreation areas will reopen with a capacity limit of 50 people.
“We look forward to transitioning Florida State Forest recreation sales to a digital platform,” said Erin Albury, State Forester and Director of the Florida Forest Service. “The online system not only streamlines the payment process for Floridians and visitors but reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19.”
To purchase passes or to make a campsite reservation, visit FloridaStateForests.ReserveAmerica.com or call (877) 879-3859. Quick Response (QR) codes will be posted in all Florida State Forest day-use areas as a convenient alternative payment option for visitors with smartphones. Cash will no longer be accepted for Florida State Forest recreation sales. Checks and money orders will be accepted for miscellaneous items that are not available for purchase online. Click here to find a Florida State Forest recreational area near you.
The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres.
FWC: keep beaches dark,
clean for sea turtles
A sea turtle walks across the beach leaving a trail that is easily identified.
Story and Photo
By Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Published June 18, 2020 at 10:10 a.m.
TALLAHASSEE -- Florida’s beaches are a go-to destination for summer fun and for sea turtles, they’re a go-to destination for laying eggs.
It’s sea turtle nesting season once again and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding beachgoers to take precautions that can help protect these federally threatened and endangered marine reptiles.
Most sea turtles in Florida nest at night and keeping beaches dark will help ensure their nesting success. Bright artificial lighting can misdirect and disturb nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings, leading them away from the ocean and toward potential danger, so beachgoers should avoid using flashlights or cellphones at night.
For beachfront property owners and those visiting beachfront properties, turning out lights or closing curtains after dark will ensure nesting turtles are not disturbed as they come ashore and hatchlings will not become disoriented when they emerge from their nests. If lighting is still visible from the beach, be sure it is long, low and shielded.
It’s also important to make sure that sea turtles have a clear path to and from the ocean. Before you leave the beach, you can help by properly disposing of all trash, filling in holes in the sand, and putting away boats, beach toys and furniture. If these obstacles are left behind, turtles can become trapped.
If your trip to the beach includes fishing, you can help beach wildlife by making sure to properly dispose of your line. Discarded line can be deadly to sea turtles, shorebirds and other animals. To find a monofilament recycling station near you, visit mrrp.myfwc.com.
While most Florida beaches are open, some have restrictions. People accessing open public beaches should follow CDC guidance by limiting their gatherings to no more than 10 people and distancing themselves from other parties by at least 6 feet.
“The actions we take when visiting the beach can make a big difference for sea turtles,” said Dr. Robbin Trindell, who heads the FWC’s sea turtle management program. “By keeping beaches dark and clearing the way at the end of the day, we can help ensure that these amazing animals are here for future generations to enjoy.”
Other ways to help sea turtles include reporting those that are sick, injured, entangled or dead to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
Purchasing a “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” Florida license plate contributes to sea turtle research, rescue and conservation efforts. People also can donate $5 and receive an FWC sea turtle decal.