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Outdoor Truths Ministry, Jan. 20, 2020
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MLK Day celebrated in Chiefland
The parade begins, launching from the Chiefland High School parking lot.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 20, 2020 at 9:09 p.m.
CHIEFLAND – The Martin Luther King Day Parade started a few minutes after 10 a.m. Monday (Jan. 20) in Chiefland.
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A young parade marcher in Chiefland wears a shirt from the event that happened a few days earlier on Saturday in Williston. This set of marchers endorse people registering to vote, and then voting.
Here, a couple of parade participants remind people to earn money by working for the United States Census.
The Levy County Democrats urge people to – Register, Engage, Vote.
Michele Langford shows her intent to run for Levy County Tax Collector.
Shelton Bowers and another racecar driver participate in the parade.
This marked the second year for the parade, and it last about 11 minutes. Marchers braved the 42-degree Fahrenheit temperature as they paraded to celebrate the life and soul of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a leader in the 1960s movement for improved civil rights in America.
Among the many brave souls marching down Main Street (U.S. Highway 19) on MLK Day in Chiefland were Chiefland Mayor Chris Jones, Pastor Lance Hayes of Chiefland, Pastor Johnnie Jones III of Gainesville, Jerry Lawrence of Cedar Key, a probable candidate for Levy County Superintendent of Schools, and Michele Langford a probable candidate for Levy County Tax Collector was in the parade.
Also participating were the Levy County Democrats, St. Johns Missionary Baptist Church of Chiefland, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church of Chiefland, race car driver Shelton Bowers of Chiefland and another racecar driver.
A Hearse and other motorized units from D. Williams Mortuary Funeral Service and Cemetery of Gainesville.
Unlike last year, the First United Methodist Church of Chiefland did not have any units in the parade.
Meanwhile, back at providing backup support for Monday’s parade, seven vehicular units of the voluntary Levy County Sheriff’s Office’s Citizens On Patrol helped block some of the roads leading into Main Street. Members of the Chiefland Police Department redirected traffic around the stretch of U.S. 19 from Chiefland High School down to the park.
There were CPD units as well as LCSO deputies who assisted with traffic control for the parade.
Chiefland Mayor Chris Jones and Pastor Johnnie Jones III of Gainesville are seen in the park on Saturday. Pastor Lance Hayes and other clergy leaders were among the crowd at the event too.
Herbert Lee pours oil in a deep fryer as he and fellow-cook Xavier Macon start preparing the free food.
Herbert Lee and fellow-cook Xavier Macon barbecue hotdogs and hamburgers. At least one other cook joined the effort during the day of fun in the park on Saturday.
Chiefland Mayor Jones was among the speakers at Trail Head Park, where the parade ended, and where there were free hotdogs and hamburgers.
Before his speech, Mayor Jones told HardisonInk.com that he is proud to see this festival event having come to fruition again this year in downtown Chiefland. This celebration, he said, provides an opportunity for young people to see and hear about how the Rev. Dr. King lived.
Likewise, Mayor Jones said, this is an occasion where people who were alive during the time when the United States’ progress toward better Civil Rights improved, can celebrate that accomplishment leading to today’s freedom. And, Jones continued, this is a time for people to share cultural history with one another.
He was especially pleased to see young people taking their day out from school to learn more about the late Dr. King.
At about the same time as this event in Levy County, residents and visitors in Cross City enjoyed another significant parade and event for the 17th consecutive year there. Dixie County’s history shows the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. there goes back to the 1970s.
Dixie County has long been the place that set the bar in the Tri-County Area in regard to celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The event in Williston, held Saturday, included a parade and a get-together at a park in that city.
Pastor Jones said there have been motions to combine all of the celebrations for Levy County in honor of Dr. King, but each community has its own interests. Beyond that, the logistics for coordinating even between Chiefland and Williston, for instance, appears to be too daunting.
The Williston Community Redevelopment Agency is comprised of volunteers (from left) Mike Langston, Vice Chairman Nick Williams, Chairman Dr. Kenneth A. Schwiebert, Jonathan Lewis and Art Konstantino. They meet monthly on the second Monday, starting at 5:30 p.m., in the City Council Chambers of Williston City Hall, 50 N.W. Main St. City Planner Jackie Gorman said the CRA welcomes input on the future plans for improving the Community Redevelopment Areas of the city. She mentioned the possible start of a ‘focus group’ in this regard. Like any ad hoc advisory group such as that, a focus group will be under the Florida laws regarding public meetings and public records.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 15, 2020 at 12:09 a.m.
WILLISTON – The Williston Community Redevelopment Agency, comprised of five volunteers who meet monthly, unveiled a vision of the “Heart of Downtown Williston” Monday evening (Jan. 13) to people at an informal meeting in City Hall.
CRA members Jonathan Lewis and Art Konstantino await the start of the meeting. Since the city had difficulty with its public address system that evening, the method for people to hear what was said was for speakers to speak loudly.
Williston Community Redevelopment Agency Chairman Dr. Kenneth A. Schwiebert speaks about the past and the future of the city in regard to redevelopment.
This concept of the future of “Block 12” shows a strip of blighted buildings restored as a thriving marketplace, where pedestrians are safe to walk. It includes a new performing arts center as well, which serves as a magnet for community interaction.
One of the finer points currently plaguing “downtown” Williston is parking. Another issue is vehicular traffic along Noble Avenue (U.S. Alt. 27) and Main Street (U.S. 27, U.S. 41, State Road 121).
In February of 2016, Burrell Engineering had provided the Williston CRA with a plan for improved parking in and around Block 12, according to records.
Williston City Planner Jackie Gorman on Monday evening helped Williston CRA Chairman Dr. Kenneth A. Schwiebert share the idea for improving Block 12, which is bordered by Main Street, Noble Avenue, Northeast First Avenue and Northeast First Street.
Over the past few decades, downtown Williston has seen a number of iterations in regard to potential parking improvements.
Likewise, in the past decades, the structures in “Block 12” have become increasingly unappealing in appearance from a curbside view.
Gorman and the Williston CRA now have a grander vision beyond just improving the parking. One significant change is the CRA’s purchase of the John Patrick property and building in the $95,000 range. That location on the block is the current tentative location of the future performing arts center.
Improving the downtown’s slum-like appearance has been part of the CRA’s Redevelopment Plan for more than 20 years, Chairman Schwiebert said.
“We have tonight,” Schwiebert said as he opened the meeting, “to share with you, a concept.”
The CRA wants to increase the dialogue with the people of Williston to spark the start of more forward momentum for redevelopment. The CRA has made significant improvements at Heritage (Linear) Park, including the addition of a well-equipped pavilion, wider sidewalks and more.
Chairman Schwiebert welcomed Levy County Commission Chairman Matt Brooks, a former member of the Williston City Council who has a business in the city limits, and County Commissioner Mike Joyner. Schwiebert also mentioned Mayor Jerry Robinson and some members of City Council had come to see the presentation.
Former CRA members Jim Smith and Betty Fender were in the audience and were recognized by the chairman, too, for their work leading to this point.
In addition to Chairman Schwiebert, the current members of the Williston CRA are Vice Chairman Nick Williams, Jonathan Lewis, Arthur “Art” Konstantino and Mike Langston.
The architects for the new vision of downtown Williston were present and they were introduced. Walker Architects Inc. of Gainesville sent owner Joe Walker and designer and visualization specialist Manuel Marull.
Walker Architects Inc. is the company that created the layout and structure of the new Williston City Hall.
As he began speaking about the plan for the future, Schwiebert spoke about the arcade of the late 1920s in then-downtown Williston. There is still an archway in this set of buildings, where it used to enter into that arcade of old.
Constructed in 1925, the arcade was in the prime downtown property now known a “Block 12.” Back then, it was a place of social gathering and the original motion-picture projector was hand operated, Schwiebert said.
When it was first developed, the screen could be raised to open a stage on which traveling performers could act, he said. Over the years, the arcade-theater was modified with wiring for electric and sound projectors, air-conditioning and cinema screens.
The backstage area became a place designated for equipment and storage, he said as he spoke about the former attraction – now faded into the dust of the historic past.
As he introduced the concept of the future, Schwiebert showed the improved façade along Main Street and Noble Avenue, as well as the future performing arts center.
These three artists’ renditions (above), created by Walker Architects Inc. of Gainesville and shown on a TV screen hanging in the City Council meeting room, capture a current vision of the possible future. In the one rendition where there is a building behind the line of structures and there is an open area between them, the multi-story building is a concept of how the future performing arts center may appear from the outside.
Owner Joe Walker and designer and visualization specialist Manuel Marull of Walker Architects Inc. of Gainesville pause next to an old Arcade-Theatre sign.
Architect Walker spoke to the people. He said the idea is to bring the community together in the future downtown Williston. In the improvements to Linear Park, he said the theme of bringing the community together where people can gather and get to know one another, has come to fruition.
Over time, he said, one shop will open and then another. Over time, everything becomes revitalized in downtown.
Then, Friday nights become “the thing,” he said. Rather than staying home and watching TV, people bring families out and neighbors speak with each other face-to-face, Walker said.
By cutting out the back parts of some of the buildings and creating a gathering area off of the main streets is part of this idea, he said, where the people can enjoy themselves downtown.
The overriding message from Monday night is that this is the start of a concept forming. It is the beginning of a vision for the potential future of downtown Williston. It is a dream for downtown.
When the question about pedestrian safety in that part of the city was broached, Schwiebert and Gorman said the city is working with the Florida Department of Transportation to address the concerns, which including people walking across Main Street from the front of City Hall over to the set of buildings where a façade may be added in the future.
Some audience members questioned the stability of the old structures and whether a simple facelift and new roof are enough. They were told the “bones” or supporting cornerstones and foundations and beams of the old buildings are trustworthy.
Gorman said the city and the CRA have several aspects of the plan for the future working together. There is the façade for the buildings. There is the future performing arts center. And there are traffic and parking issues in the area.
In addition to the CRA, which owns some property, it is working with private owners of the properties. She foresees a potential public-private partnership.
By adding the performing arts center, Gorman hopes the other property owners in the area see the value of investing to improve their structures to attract new business interests.
“We want people to come back downtown,” Gorman said.
Gorman said she hopes to inspire property owners in downtown Williston to make the “Heart of Downtown” vibrant again. She wants input and participation from the general public. Gorman said the CRA intends to create a focus group for input as well.
As noted on the Florida Redevelopment Association's website,
Community Redevelopment Agencies are quite common, but often there are many questions in the minds of those who don’t work with them every day.
Under Florida Statute 163.330, the “Community Redevelopment Act of 1969,” local governments are able to designate areas as Community Redevelopment Areas when certain conditions exist. Since all the monies used in financing CRA activities are locally generated, CRAs are not overseen by the state, but redevelopment plans must be consistent with local government comprehensive plans.
The money for the CRA comes from ad valorem property tax dollars diverted from city property taxpayers away from the county to go to the city’s CRA alone.
Examples of conditions that can support the creation of a CRA include, but are not limited to the presence of substandard or inadequate structures (blight and slum), a shortage of affordable housing, inadequate infrastructure, insufficient roadways and inadequate parking.
Tax increment financing (TIF) is a unique tool available to cities and counties for redevelopment activities. It is used to leverage public funds to promote private sector activity in the targeted area via a public-private partnership.
It is important to note that property tax revenue collected by the School Board and any special district are not affected under the tax increment financing process.
Gorman reminded everyone that this is all a vision, a concept. If the performing arts center comes to be built, one idea now is for a foundation to be formed to work with its continued operation. The CRA or the city are not seen as owner-operators for that enterprise in the future.
Gorman invites everyone to the monthly CRA meetings to watch as the city progresses on its road for this aspect of revitalization of downtown Williston. The CRA meets the second Monday of the month at City Hall starting at 5:30 p.m.
Williston Students Honored
Williston Mayor Jerry Robinson stands with two students who were honored with the Outstanding Student Award. The mayor’s student of the month award ceremony is a tradition in Williston. At the left in this photo is Dilian Ariana Rodas-Perez, who said she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. This fifth grade student from Williston Elementary School was nominated for the honor of Outstanding Student by her teacher Rebecca Childs. Dilian Ariana Rodas-Perez’s parents are José Rodas and Wendy Perez. On the right side of the photo is Kenia Martinez, a second grader at Joyce Bullock Elementary School who was nominated for the honor by her teacher Shannon Aguirre. Martinez said she wants to be a teacher when she grows up. The parent listed for Martinez is Emma Roque. These students were honored for their Academic excellence, leadership and attendance. Both students said mathematics is their favorite subject. Both students received certificates of recognition, a gift of a free pizza and a gift of a pin that includes flags of Florida and of the United States of America.
Photo By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 9, 2020 at 11:09 a.m.
Rotarians learn about
candidate for state attorney
Sous Chef Lunabelle Fowler, 7, and Chef Jason Fuchs stand in front of the buffet table where Rotarians and guests served, buffet-style, themselves a delicious lunch on Monday in Trenton.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 7, 2020 at
TRENTON – Members and guests of the Gilchrist County Rotary Club on Monday afternoon (Jan. 6) enjoyed a delicious meal, sang a fun Rotary-oriented song and listened to one of the candidates for election to the Office of Eighth Judicial Circuit State Attorney.
Gilchrist County Rotary Club Sergeant-at-Arms Damon Leggett collects money from Rotarians who gladly give it as they demonstrate one manner of placing service above self.
Eighth Judicial Circuit Assistant State Attorney and Executive Director Brian Kramer tells people about his background, his family and his duties currently in that office responsible for prosecuting suspected criminals in Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy, and Union counties. Seen sitting at the head table in the background is Gilchrist County Rotary Club Secretary Dr. John D. Frazier. Dr. Frazier is chiropractor with a practice located in Trenton.
Agreeing to help a visiting journalist by providing a posed shot after the meeting are (from left) Gilchrist County Rotary Club President Bob Clemons, Rotarian Patricia Knight, a past president of this club, and Assistant State Attorney Brian Kramer, who is a Rotarian at one of the clubs in Gainesville.
Brian Kramer already serves as the executive director, as well as being an assistant state attorney and the supervisor responsible for public records for Eighth Judicial Circuit State Attorney William Cervone.
As noted in a previous story published in HardisonInk.com, State Attorney Cervone chose to retire rather than to seek to be elected again. Click HERE to see that story.
Right now, Kramer of Gainesville, a Republican, and attorney Beverly R. McCallum of Gainesville, s Democrat, are the only two people who have announced that they want the job. Actual qualifying for the race is some time away.
Kramer was accepting signatures that day on petitions to run. Candidates can either pay a fee as part of the qualifying process, or they can qualify to run by the petition method.
Both candidates have started advertising. Kramer has a sign on his car and business cards, at least, and McCollum has at least one sign in the ground in the Chiefland area.
As for the meeting on Monday, Chef Jason Fuchs and Sous Chef Lunabelle Fowler, 7, kicked off the Gilchrist County Rotary Club’s first meeting of the new decade with a delicious meal of ham, potato casserole, green beans, a garden salad, rolls, apple and raspberry pastries and sweet and unsweetened tea.
Rotarian Michael E. McElroy led the singing as members and guests sang from the Rotary songbook.
The gospel song "When the Saints Go Marching In,” first authored by Luther G. Presley (March 6, 1887 – Dec. 6, 1974) was modified with Rotary being the object in some of the lyrics, and that was the choice for the Rotary song of the day at that meeting.
Rotary Club Sergeant-at-Arms Damon Leggett collected money for people who wanted to announce birthdays, missed a meeting and the like, as is customary at Rotary Club meetings.
Gilchrist County Rotary Club President Bob Clemons, introduced Patricia Knight, who has been a member of this club’s predecessor the Rotary Club of Trenton (which later was renamed the Rotary Club of Gilchrist County) since 1992 and served as its first female president.
Knight introduced Kramer, whom she brought as the guest speaker of the day.
Kramer provided a very extensive in-depth review of the way the State Attorney’s Office for this judicial circuit serves the residents and visitors of this part of Florida. There are 67 counties in Florida. There are 20 judicial circuits. The Eighth Judicial Circuit includes Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy, and Union counties.
With Alachua County having the lion’s share of the population, it has the most resources for that office. Meanwhile, though, each of the other counties in this circuit are well and proportionately represented by prosecutors and support staff, according to what Kramer shared with listeners.
Each state attorney in Florida is tasked with prosecuting suspected criminals. It is a daunting task for every county and every circuit. From people suspected of violating traffic laws, through those suspected of violating laws of the various levels of misdemeanor, all the way through the different levels of high crimes in the felonious categories – including murder.
Kramer is the lead prosecutor in murder trials in this circuit. His set of responsibilities goes beyond prosecuting. He is the executive director, second only to State Attorney Cervone, for budgeting and leadership.
Kramer, a graduate of Stetson College of Law (Pinellas County), has served for 19 years with Cervone.
The Eighth Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office accepts criminal cases provided by 40 different law enforcement agencies for the purpose of prosecution, Kramer said. As each person is charged with a crime, they go through one of the channels to help the people of Florida see justice prevail.
Among Kramer’s many lessons of the day for Rotarians and guests about the inner workings of the office showed he has taken a leadership role in that office and he has extensive experience. For most observers at the meeting Monday, at this moment it seems clear he is the heir apparent to follow in State Attorney Cervone’s footsteps.
Between now and November, nevertheless, Kramer and McCallum will try to show voters in this circuit why he or she is the best candidate to serve the people in that office, which is vital to protecting life and property from criminal activity.
Looking a bit less forward in time than the election in November, to the Jan. 13 meeting of the Gilchrist County Rotary Club, Mike Randall, a biologist with the United States Geological Survey, is scheduled to speak about sturgeon and other aspects of nature in the area. Gilchrist County Rotarian Charlie Smith of Bell is credited with bringing this speaker to the forefront for this meeting.
The Gilchrist County Rotary Club meets in Trenton or Bell each Monday afternoon, starting at noon, except holidays – like Dr. Martin Luther King Day (which is Jan. 20 this year).
In Trenton, the meetings are at the Trenton Woman’s Clubhouse, 2107 S. Bronson Highway (Gilchrist County Road 339). In Bell, the meetings are at Akins BBQ and Grill, 1159 S. Main St. (U.S. Highway 129).
On Feb. 1, 2011, HardisonInk.com came to exist on the Internet. On Nov. 1, 2011, The Christian Press section on The Life Page of HardisonInk.com started, which was about nine months after the start of the daily news website -- which officially began Feb. 1, 2011. The name "The Christian Press" was derived from an encounter a decade earlier in 2001 in St. Petersburg, when and where a man mentioned to a journalist that this particular journalist must work for "The Christian Press." Although the presumption by the man about that journalist was incorrect and misplaced, the name sounded good. And the the journalist said that if he could work for The Christian Press, then that certainly would be the publication to serve.
Since Nov. 1, 2011, The Christian Press section of this page has run daily devotionals from several individuals who contributed over the past years. There were two days in 2018 when the daily devotional did not run due to a journalist requiring emergency orthopedic surgery on broken bones in his left arm and wrist. That surgically added metal, though, makes that part of that arm even more able to withstand forces. Many daily devotionals are pulled from Strength for Service to God and Country (Whitmore & Stone © 1942; Renewed 1969 by Norman E. Nygaard; Second revised edition © 2002 Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, Providence House Publishers). I note my appreciation for the use of those devotionals from that now-defunct publishing company. I welcome contributions of daily devotionals. Daily devotional authors are asked to please send only their original works to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jan. 24, 2020 Friday at 8:09 a.m.
WHAT GOD KNOWS
Read John 4:1-42; 8:1-11; 1 Corinthians 15. 8-10
And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
-- John 2:25 (KJV)
Nothing written of Jesus is more significant than this verse. James Moffatt (1870-1944) gives it: “He required no evidence from anyone about human nature; well did he know what was in human nature.”
Yes, let us be sure, this is one thing Christ knows, or, if you please, God knows; He knows human nature. Jesus knew people, as a result of His own divine nature, and also as a result of His own struggle with life in His own temptations - a victorious struggle, to be sure, but nonetheless a struggle. Yes, God knows people. Perhaps Jesus had our base possibilities in mind when he said, “There will be wars and rumors of wars.” No doubt He had our spiritual possibilities in mind when He said, “Pray ... Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
Many modern playwrights and novelists have written only of the base human nature. A few maintained the “Pollyanna” attitude toward it. But Jesus knew what was in us; He knew the depths to which we could sink, and He knew the heights to which we could rise. Let us be sure this present war is the result of our own thinking and living. God did not send this war (WWII).
We brought it upon ourselves. Nevertheless, as long as we are human, there is still hope of a better world. For we are capable of goodness, mercy and sacrifice. There is still hope. Begin in yourself. Think highly; live nobly; carry no spirit of revenge toward your enemies. As one person, you may now begin to prepare for the world which is in the making.
OUR FATHER, Thou dost know what is in me. I cannot hide from thee. Forgive the sins which always separate me from Thee, and which betray my best self. Inspire in me the courage to be that which by Thy grace is possible for me. Amen.
The Rev. George R. Davis
First Christian Church
Strength for Service to God and Country
(Whitmore & Stone © 1942; Renewed 1969 by Norman E. Nygaard; Second revised edition © 2002 Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, Providence House Publishers)
Outdoor Truths Ministry
By Gary Miller © Jan. 20, 2020 at 7:09 a.m.
Are you obsessed over something? Has something gained your attention in such a way that you have made some drastic changes in order to accommodate that matter? Deer hunters do this all the time. I was just reliving the past season with a friend. He was telling me about a place where he hunted that was for bow hunters only. One particular evening, just before dark, he saw what he called the buck of a lifetime, and it was only 60 yards from his stand. And even though he could not get a shot at it, it caused him to almost ignore all the other bucks that came his way; and there were plenty. By the time his few days of hunting were over, he had passed up some really big bucks because none of them were the “one” that he had seen just a few days earlier. In the end, the cost was coming home empty-handed all because he had become obsessed with one prize so valuable that every other prize paled in comparison. He is not alone in this obsession. I know of other hunters who have marked one particular buck as their goal and have waited for two or three years in order to get it. I also know of some who waited just as long only to find out their prize was now their neighbor’s trophy. Some may not understand this obsession. Some do. Everyone ought to.
In recalling these stories, I am reminded of the biblical story of the man who found a valuable pearl. The Bible says, when he discovered it, he sold everything he owned and bought it. No diversification. No hedging his investment. No waiting until more favorable times. But selling it all – pushing it all in for this one pearl of great price. What was the Lord comparing this most valuable pearl to? The kingdom of heaven. What is the kingdom of heaven? Let’s just say it is the totality of God in our lives now and the greatness of heaven in the future. And what the Lord desires is this; that there would come a time in our lives when we finally understand the most valuable thing in our life is simply Him. And in fully understanding this, we would willfully, gladly, and excitingly be willing to give it all up in order to experience, without distraction, the worth and surpassing greatness of that relationship.
-- Gary Miller email@example.com
Gary Miller has three books that are compilations of the articles he has written for nearly 15 years. He also speaks at game dinners and men’s groups for churches and associations.
Gary Miller's website is located at http://www.outdoortruths.org/.