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Gary Miller's Outdoor Truths, Dec. 11, 2018
Angie Land's Heart Matters, Dec. 11, 2018
Guy Sheffield's But Anyway, Dec. 4, 2018
Book Sale Helps
Luther Callaway Public Library
The Friends of the Luther Callaway Public Library held a book sale from morning into the afternoon on Saturday (Dec. 8) at the field next to the octagon-shaped building next to the Chiefland Fire Department. Money from the Friends’ book sales help to purchase things for the public library. Among the people helping in this book sale are (from left) SueAnn Burkhardt, who is the librarian at the library although here she is a volunteer; Friends of the Luther Callaway Public Library Secretary Amanda Adkins; and Friends of the Luther Callaway Public Library Vice President Tammy Ippolito. This sale happened during part of the daytime activities by the Chiefland Chamber of Commerce that were held in the city that Saturday,
Photo by Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 8, 2018 at 3:08 p.m.
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Legislative Delegation listens;
State senator lambastes
two Florida supervisors of elections
State Rep. Charlie Stone (R-Ocala, Dist. 22) (left) and State Sen. Robert “Rob” Bradley (R-Fleming Island, Dist. 5) shake hands moments after Sen. Bradley enters the Dogan Cobb Municipal Building in Bronson on Monday (Dec. 3).
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec.5, 2018 at 1:18 p.m.
BRONSON – A series of sparky words from a freedom-defending American on Monday (Dec.3) ignited a bright fire of direct language from a Florida state senator who shared his opinion about allegedly poor quality of work shown by two Florida counties’ supervisors of elections in the recently-past midterm elections.
Inglis Mayor Drinda Merritt speaks with Levy County Commissioner Matt Brooks before the start of the meeting.
State Rep. Charlie Stone (left) speaks with constituent Barney Cannon before the start of the meeting.
State Sen. Robert “Rob” Bradley (R-Fleming Island, Dist. 5) and State Rep. Charlie Stone (R-Ocala, Dist. 22) are the Legislative Delegation for Levy County.
Sen. Bradley, who residence is in Clay County, is the state senator for all of Levy County, as well as Dixie, Gilchrist, Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Lafayette, Suwannee, Union and part of Marion. He is part of another 11 legislative delegations.
Rep. Stone is the state representative for all of Levy County and the western part of Marion County. He will be with Sen. Bradley at that get-together for that part of Marion County.
Rep. Stone called roll and found that both he and Sen. Bradley were present. Stone, who chaired the two-man delegation in Levy County this year, at the end of the meeting nominated Bradley to chair the delegation next year, and that passed by a 2-0 vote.
As is customary for the Legislative Delegation, the first people to be listed to speak are county and city elected officials.
However, during these sessions, sometimes the general public shares a dialogue that cuts to the marrow of what American government and freedom is all about. That was the case Monday.
Renate Cannon speaks to the legislators about her concerns for the reputation of the state of Florida in the eyes of the world in regard to voting issues.
From the members of the audience who addressed the state leaders this year was Renate Cannon.
An avid participant in local and regional government meetings, Cannon is known for her direct questions and relatively polite demeanor. While civilized, she is able to express her opinions with the strength that is proper to capture the thoughts.
She shared some insight about her life, too on Monday, so that listeners might understand her perspective in regard to the most recent statewide election embarrassment.
Cannon’s mother had the courage to escape from East Germany, Cannon said, however that is where Cannon grew up. She knows about Communism, and fascist tyrants that were government leaders. And she has learned about American ideals for freedom and voting.
Cannon came to the United States of America on July 4, 1971, she said. Cannon is a naturalized citizen of this country, she said, as well as being a veteran of the United States military.
As a result of having escaped from a Communist country, Cannon said she may take the right to vote a bit more seriously than the average American citizen.
Demonstrating that she is also well-read and aware of current news, Cannon congratulated Sen. Bradley for his initiative to introduce a bill so that amendments to the Florida Constitution will be limited to single-issue ballot questions – rather than having two or more issues (which is known as “bundled”).
On Nov. 21, Bradley noted on a social media site “The bundling of several issues in one constitutional amendment is a terrible way to amend our Constitution. It’s unfair to voters who may approve of one issue in the amendment and disapprove of another. I just filed a bill to end bundling.”
The bill, Senate Joint Resolution 74, mandates all proposals to the Florida State Constitution “be limited to a single subject and matter directly connected to such subject.”
After bestowing her congratulations upon the senator for his commonsense legislation, Cannon asked the senator to introduce a bill “for realistic deadlines” for people who use mail-in ballots. She said they are no longer counted after a deadline is reached.
Cannon said she understands the 67 counties cover a broad expanse of different population quantities and that Levy County voters are blessed to have a well-experienced supervisor of elections, as well as a relatively small number of voters.
Hearing no promise to seek to revise deadlines for mail-in ballots, she moved on to a general question about who leads all 67 supervisors of elections and whether there is a means to save Florida residents from being tarnished by embarrassing actions in regard to elections.
Cannon said she remembers the nightmare in Florida from the election of the year 2000 – with “hanging chads” being a moniker that may live in the state’s history in infamy. If the midterm election shows the problems it did, the 2020 election causes her to “shudder to think” what that will bring.
As a result of the problems in 2000 and now in 2018, Florida has twice become “a laughing stock” in the nation, she said.
“I am tired of being a laughing stock,” Cannon said, “not (only) of the state, of the nation, but of the world.”
The Levy County voter asked her Legislative Delegation if there is a standard for supervisors of elections to follow statewide. Or is the quality of election supervision decided county-by-county?
Rep. Stone said the Florida Department of State has a Division of Elections, which oversees election in the state.
Cannon then said a study from the University of Florida stated that 10 percent of black voters in Florida cast ballots that are not counted.
“Gentlemen,” she said. “that is untenable. Please keep in mind that it wasn’t our doing that our color is white.”
Rep. Stone said that given the problems with elections in state races in Florida, that he foresees there will be a significant amount of discussion in the House and Senate.
There is policy that exists, Stone added, to assure every eligible vote is counted. He said the Canvassing Board in each county also has responsibilities that must be performed to assure a free and fair election.
Then Sen. Bradley began his response to Cannon’s questions.
“First of all,” Bradley said, “the people who received the most votes (in the midterm election) are serving in those offices (when those terms begin).”
Sen. Bradley said the issues in Broward County and Palm Beach County are not resultant from a shortage of money to buy the proper machines.
The problems are not from state leadership. The problems are not from the Republican Party, he said.
The problems resulted from two persons who Bradley said he believes are incompetent, but who were elected by voters to serve as supervisors of elections.
“They have elected supervisors (of election) who don’t do their job to the standards that we expect,” Sen. Bradley said. “And we need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. The rules, as Rep. Stone said, the rules are uniform across 67 counties.
“But if you have somebody who isn’t doing the job correctly,” Bradley continued, “I mean enforcing those rules correctly, then that’s where you get problems.”
Sen Bradley said one supervisor of elections has been suspended.
Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order suspending Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes from office for misfeasance, incompetence and neglect of duty, according to records.
Snipes submitted a letter of resignation to Scott with Jan. 4 as an effective date, according to records.
Snipes, a Republican, has been the top elections official in Broward County since 2003 when then-Gov. Jeb Bush appointed her, according to records, having been reelected by a majority of voters in that county.
As a result of the midterm elections issues, Gov. Scott appointed Enterprise Florida President and CEO Peter Antonacci to replace Snipes. Broward County voters will have a chance to elect a new supervisor in 2020.
“I hope they look very closely at the other one (Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, a Democrat) as well,” Sen. Bradley said.
Bradley said the people of Florida need to challenge the voters in Palm Beach County and in Broward County to hold their supervisors of elections “… accountable for poor performance.”
Bradley said the voters of Florida decided when they cast their ballots on Amendment 10 in the midterm election to keep constitutional officers such as the supervisor of elections, the board of county commissioners, the sheriff, the clerk, the tax collector and the property appraiser as elected officials in each county.
The state government is constrained by the Florida Constitution as it should be, Bradley said. As a result, “there is not a top down elections system in Florida,” he said. “The voters have asked that we have 67 separate offices.”
Each supervisor of elections, he said, must abide by the same rules.
“Some will be better than others,” Bradley said. ” And that’s the system we work in.”
The Legislative Delegation heard about statewide education concerns; issues with rural, poverty-stricken counties; a new concept for dental care and much more.
The hearing was again in the Dogan S. Cobb Municipal Building located at 660 E Hathaway Ave. (U.S. Alt. 27) in Bronson. Sen. Bradley and Rep. Stone thanked Bronson Town Clerk Shirley Miller for the town hosting the event again this year. Miller was standing in for Bronson Mayor Bruce Greenlee.
The Legislative Delegation for each of Florida’s 67 counties holds a public hearing each year to afford local officials, members of the public, and other interested parties the opportunity to present legislative proposals or express opinions on state issues.
The next Regular 60-day Session of the Florida Legislature will convene on March 5, 2019 in Tallahassee.
Since Sen. Bradley lives in Clay County and Rep. Stone lives in Marion County, Sen. Bradley has said he leans on Stone for a closer perspective on issues that affect the Levy County part of his district.
Both state leaders said they work closely together to assure Levy County is well-served in the Florida Senate and the Florida House of Representatives, and they both agreed that they work as a team with both sets of their legislative aides communicating well with each other.
When Rep. Stone addressed the audience, he said it is an honor and a pleasure to represent all of Levy County.
Stone is in his sixth year of service in the Florida House of Representatives. After the coming two-year term to which he was reelected on Nov. 6, though, Stone will have reached a point where he cannot be reelected – due to the term-limit provision in the Florida Constitution. His four, two-year terms as a member of the Florida House will be complete after this final two-year term.
The first people to speak to Levy County Legislative Delegation were other elected officials. What they said follows:
Levy County Commissioner Matt Brooks (left) and Commission Chairman John Meeks stand before the state legislators to share their input with the state leaders.
LEVY COUNTY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN JOHN MEEKS
Levy County Commission Chairman John Meeks was joined by County Commissioner Matt Brooks at the podium to address Rep. Stone and Sen. Bradley this year.
One point that Meeks mentioned this year, as he has in past years, was for the state leaders to do what they can to provide more equality for rural residents in regard to Internet Server Provider options.
Like every other member of the Levy County Board of County Commissioners, and in every Constitutional Office of Levy County, Meeks and Brooks are Republicans. In American history, the Rural Electrification Administration came into being to help assure rural residents had safe and reliable electric service.
While all five Levy County public libraries are WiFi hot spots and there are some number of public computers, this is not enough for the students of Levy County to use for homework, according to what some county leaders believe. Verizon offers a MiFi service and some people can connect to the Internet via cable, but overall the level of service for Internet in Levy County is relatively abysmal in contrast with more urban counties like Alachua, Citrus and Marion, Chairman Meeks has said.
Meeks mentioned that good Internet service makes a difference for economic development and commerce as well as education.
Levy County and WMDs
Levy County is split between the Suwannee River Water Management District SRWMD) and the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
Once again, the county is asking the state to change the boundaries of the two districts so that all of Levy County is in the Suwannee River Water Management District. Although the same request was made last year, and before, this year the county has worked with the water management districts to show the state why this is the best idea.
Katie Kelly of the SRWMD shared with the Legislative Delegation information from the district.
Those talking points are noted below:
The District appreciates the Delegation support for the District’s
• Operations ($2,387,000),
• ERP Program ($453,000),
• Land Management activities ($1,777,210) and
• Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT - $309,909)
PILT is a mechanism that is used to pay small counties that have a population of 150,000 or less for acquiring land that is taken off the tax rolls.
As the Legislature recognizes, PILT is extremely important to small counties. The amount of Levy County's PILT this year was $30,401.84.
MAJOR SRWMD INITITIVES:
The District has outlined its major initiative for the near future.
North Florida Regional Water Supply Initiative:
• In July, the Governing Board approved a regional water supply initiative to help foster projects that would assist in the creation of alternative water supplies.
• The District has partnered with the St. Johns River Water Management District to identify a list of projects that may have the potential to be funded.
Currently, the Department of Environmental Protection in conjunction with the Governor’s Office has requested $15 million for alternative water supply funding.
Kelly highlighted action resulting from the springs restoration funding, which the District received from the Legislature and governor over recent years.
• 36 springs projects have been funded – totaling nearly $60 million in projects.
• These restoration projects have saved an estimated 73 million gallons of water a day; and reduced nine million pounds of nutrient loadings annually
Upon the approval of the legislative budget commission, the SRWMD will have an additional six projects totaling nearly $10 million.
LEVY COUNTY SCHOOLS
Levy County Superintendent of Schools Jeffery R. “Jeff” Edison and Levy County School Board Chairman Chris Cowart (left) speak to the Levy County Legislative Delegation.
Levy County Superintendent of Schools Jeffery R. Edison and Levy County School Board Chairman Chris Cowart shared their insight with the state leaders.
The two men presented four requests from the Levy County School Board as its legislative platform for the year.
The first one is to replace Chiefland Middle High School. Superintendent of Schools Edison said. The county is in the process required to secure this, he said as he mentioned that there was a meeting between the county and the Florida Department of Education staff in this regard as recently as last week.
Edison responded in the affirmative when Sen. Bradley said CMHS is not on the list for this year. Edison said he and the School Board understand there is great need in this regard across the state.
A bill that the Levy County School Board would like to be sponsored is in regard to students who have special needs. They are not allowed during standardized testing to receive the same added care they receive during their regular classroom learning, Edison said.
For instance, Cowart said, a student who is dyslexic will be provided with a piece of paper that has pre-drawn boxes for an essay part of a test. In a standardized test, that student may lose a significant amount of time drawing such a box, when a non-dyslexic child would not lose that time.
Cowart said in a telephone interview Wednesday (Dec. 5) that the class accommodations given to a student during the year are what is being sought for the time of the test.
These accommodations to overcome a handicap would not skew the test results to show anything other than what is being tested, Coward said. This type of accommodation in a standardized test scenario would simply put the handicapped student on a level field with students who do not require accommodations.
The third plank of the platform presented by the Levy County School Board for the state leaders to consider is in relation to the Safe Schools action from the previous year.
The Levy County allocation for Safe Schools this year was $525,000, Edison said, but the Levy County School Board spent $793,000. Therefore, he added, Levy County had to use about $265,000 this year from the General Fund.
On another budget matter within the same topic of Safe Schools, Levy County received about $193,000 for “school-hardening” and this includes the two charter schools within the district.
However, this partially-funded mandate from the state government does not provide the approximately $387,000 needed for safety in Levy County.
On Wednesday, Cowart said mandates from the state government force school boards all over the state to make difficult choices.
Every school district, he added, always finds a way. For instance, in Levy County, perhaps every school bus is not new. And, as many people know, perhaps not every gymnasium is air-conditioned.
“Our staff does an amazing job,” Cowart said on Wednesday, “spreading the dollars as far as they can.”
The fourth and final “ask” of the legislators from the Levy County School Board is in regard to the state’s end-of-course exam results.
School boards want home rule, Cowart said, however there are approximately 40 different way throughout the state to assess end of course exams. Cowart said he believes there is one school district where a student need only sign his or her name, and that qualifies as a 100 percent grade on the end-or-course exam.
This makes a difference to colleges, especially in regard to the numbers they look at for admission and scholarships. A student from one district may show a 3.74 grade-point average, with the end-or-course exam figuring into that score, when a student from Levy County shows a 3.5 GPA.
Meanwhile the Levy County student is bumped from the scholarship as a result, and while the other student is accepted, the college or university discovers they do not perform as their GPA would have forecast them to perform.
As a result of non-standardized end-of-course assessment practices, Levy County may “undersell” these students who would “over-perform” if they were put in the same classes as a student from a district where the assessments are less stringent.
After Superintendent of Schools Edison said levy County had looked at the various end-of-course guidelines, Rep. Stone asked if Clay County was seen as one that would be agreeable – making reference to Sen. Bradley’s home county. Edison intimated that he found Clay County’s assessments to be equal with Levy County.
Bronson Town Clerk Shirley Miller addresses the Levy County Legislative Delegation on behalf of Bronson Mayor Bruce Greenlee.
She apologized to the state leaders on behalf of Mayor Greenlee who was unable to attend that morning.
The Town of Bronson is fiscally constrained, she said. The focus this year, Miller said, if for the town to improve infrastructure for its 1,100 residents.
The Florida Small County Outreach Program (SCOP) provided the town with $375,000, Miller replied when asked by Bradley, for a sidewalk from the courthouse to James H. Cobb Park.
There was another $650,000 Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP) grant to help the town’s parks and recreation as well, she said.
Bradley said state legislators like to hear that the money the state is giving to counties and municipalities to improve facilities, is being used and that the residents and visitors to those places are enjoying the results. Another state grant program is named Small County Road Assistance Program (SCRAP).
SCRAP, SCOP, FRDAP and other grant programs are relatively well-utilized in fiscally-constrained counties such as Levy County.
Representatives from the Bronson Volunteer Fire Department also asked the state for funding to build a new fire station on the field of property northwest of the UF/IFAS Extension office in Bronson.
The request for the new structure includes space for volunteers to sleep and eat there, in an effort to make a 24-hour-day facility.
Inglis Mayor Drinda Merritt addresses the Levy County Legislative Delegation on behalf of the people of Inglis.
INGLIS MAYOR DRINDA MERRITT
Inglis Mayor Drinda Merritt said the water supply and water quality issues are always vital in the state.
The septic-to-sewer conversion plan for southern Levy County is continuing to move forward. Mayor Merritt has been a champion of this effort.
She anticipates that within the next four to six weeks to share with these state leaders an engineering plan for that project.
“Without help from the state,” Merritt said, “we are not going to be able to move forward with our project.”
Funding provided two years ago has been applied to complete the feasibility study and the engineering plan, she said, adding that the people are grateful for the help so far.
Mayor Merritt made a phenomenal announcement Monday that affects southern Levy County, northern Citrus County and western Marion County.
Private investors have stepped forward to fund the construction of a whitewater kayaking venue in Inglis, she said.
That project is moving rapidly along, Merritt said.
“It looks like we may not need state funding for that project,” Merritt said.
This venue conservatively will have a $23 million positive economic impact on the Levy-Citrus-Marion counties’ area around Inglis, she said.
College of Central Florida President James D. Henningsen, Ed.D. shares with the state leaders a request for financial aid to keep the Appleton Museum of Art operational. The college president also shared with the state leaders information about CF’s success to date and a bright future for its programs. He also expressed his appreciation for the state’s help in building the CF Jack Wilkinson – Levy County – Campus.
The CF president is seeking help from the Legislative Delegation for the state to assist the college in funding for the institution, which is owned now by CF.
The long and storied history of The Appleton Museum of Art includes some wrangling over funds. As Dr. Henningsen mentioned to the legislators, and as they know, this museum is a crown jewel for the area, especially in regard to its intrinsic value to the arts and humanities in this part of Florida. Following is the whole story as noted in a brochure about its history.
Founded in 1982, the museum was a gift from Arthur I. Appleton to the Ocala community.
The City of Ocala donated the 44-acre site for the home of the museum to the Appleton Cultural Center Inc., a not-for-profit corporation.
Construction began in 1984. Mr. Appleton paid for the construction of the over 80,000 square-foot museum and contributed 18,000 art pieces to the collection.
The Appleton publicly opened in 1987. For the first few years, the museum was operated by the City of Ocala.
In 1990, the Appleton Cultural Center Inc. wanted to transfer ownership and operation of the Museum to another entity. Jim Kirk, Chair of the College of Central Florida District Board of Trustees (now known as College of Central Florida or CF) approached the president of the college about taking over the operation.
A proposal was made to the State Board of Community Colleges, which included a request for operating funds. The proposal was approved, but the funding was reduced by 50 percent and the CF was advised to find another partner. CF did receive a recurring appropriation of $188,000 for operation of the Museum.
Kirk approached Florida State University (FSU) about the possibility of becoming a partner in the Museum, and the FSU agreed to accept shared ownership and operating responsibilities.
The ownership was transferred as an undivided interest in the property (land and museum buildings), to the CF Foundation and the FSU Foundation on June 29, 1990. The art collections, furniture and equipment, which had been deeded to the Appleton Cultural Center Inc., were deeded to the FSU Foundation. In addition, FSU was given the Appleton Museum endowments which were used to create the Appleton Eminent Scholar Chair at FSU.
On June 2, 1992, CF and FSU signed an agreement to operate the Appleton Museum of Art as joint partners. That agreement was amended one time (October 1997) when the museum employees were transferred from CF to FSU after the FSU received a special appropriation from the 1997 Legislature to offset a portion of the cost of operating the museum.
On June 9, 1992, The CF Foundation and the FSU Foundation each granted a 49-year lease to the CF and to FSU, on behalf of the Board of Regents, for the land and buildings. The lease was
amended in December 2002 to reflect the change in governance and to extend the term of the lease to 2051.
CF and FSU each appointed members to an Oversight Committee according to the 1992 agreements. That Committee has operated continuously since its appointment.
FSU received a gift of $2 million for the construction of an addition to the Museum. The state matched the gift and FSU constructed the Edith Marie Appleton Wing. The project was completed in 1996.
To comply with the ownership requirements of the state, the land under the wing was leased to the Internal Improvement Trust.
In addition to the original gifts, the FSU Foundation received several additional gifts. A portion of those gifts was designated for specific purposes including gifts restricted to supporting the operation costs of the museum.
FSU received plant operating funds for the wing in the 1996 Legislative session.
In 1997, FSU and CF collaborated on a request to the Legislature for operating funds. The Legislature appropriated funds of approximately $1,000,000 to FSU for that purpose.
In the 2003 Legislature, FSU requested and received additional plant operating funds for the
original structures bringing the total for plant expenditures to about $410,000.
In 2004, there was a disagreement between FSU and the Appleton family regarding the appropriate use of the endowment fund. The Appleton family sued FSU. As a result of the lawsuit, both parties agreed to transfer ownership to CF which included the endowment and the state appropriations used to operate the museum.
Since 2004, the Museum is solely supported by CF. The artwork collection is owned by the CF Foundation.
In 2017, new House leadership in Tallahassee reviewed all special projects over the last 15 years that were identified in general appropriations acts. Because of the transfer of the state recurring appropriations from FSU to CF in 2004, the House deemed the Appleton as a special project up for review. CF was successful in convincing the House and Senate to keep the museum in the budget.
However, the House kept the museum as a separate line item eligible for a possible veto by the governor. Gov. Rick Scott subsequently vetoed the museum in order to provide funding for Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida.
The museum has remained open on dwindling endowment funds. Without recurring state funding, the museum will eventually have to close its doors.
Standing at the podium and preparing to present the Legislative Delegation with a well-voiced statement in regard to the Tobacco-Free Coalition of Levy County, Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) and the QuitDoc Foundation are (from left) Laycee Hallman, a student at the College of Central Florida and a former Levy County SWAT member, Chiefland High School SWAT Member Emma Ronchetti and QuitDoc Foundation Tobacco Prevention Specialist Rebecca Zachry. Ronchetti and Hallman shared some of the highlights from SWAT’s recent past, including the success of making some public facilities tobacco-free zones.
Dr. Frank Catalanotto of the group named Floridians for Dental Access explains to the legislators that dental therapy by licensed dentists can save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually. For instance, there were 166,997 visits to emergency rooms in 2016 by people seeking relief from non-traumatic dental pain that equaled $322 million. Dr. Catalanotto wants the Florida Legislature to get on board with the concept of dental therapy, not only to help more humans have better dental care, but to save taxpayers money. Floridians for Dental Access is a coalition made up of a wide variety local groups and organizations who see every day how vulnerable populations in Florida struggle to be seen by a dentist. This group supports bringing affordable dental care to these populations by authorizing dental therapists. For more information about this group, please visit http://floridiansfordentalaccess.com/. Dr. Catalanotto said that any person who is against the dental therapy program proposed by this group will be unable to show facts behind their opposition, and this is in contrast with what these dentists and others can prove to be true in regard to best methods of helping the most people have dental care in Florida.
Rotarians Visited By Prosecutors
Seen above (from left) are Gilchrist County Rotary Club President Aaron Haynes, State Attorney William Cervone, Gilchrist County Judge Sheree Lancaster (a Gilchrist County Rotarian), Assistant State Attorney Brian Kramer, Gilchrist Rotarian Pat Yates and retired attorney Mitzi Austin. The Gilchrist Rotary Club enjoyed an informative visit recently by Eighth Judicial Circuit State Attorney William Cervone, and Brian Kramer, executive director and assistant state attorney. The Eighth Judicial Court includes Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Levy, Gilchrist and Union counties. Rotarian Pat Yates provided this fun and interesting program for the club. Rotarians learned about Kramer's office. The executive director serves as the chief administrative officer for the State Attorney's Office and represents the state attorney in all administrative matters. Kramer also supervises the activities of in excess of 70 professionals in fiscal, facilities, human resources, information systems technology, data entry and legal support. He oversees the administration and preparation of state and county budgets in excess of $10.6 million. Kramer's office handles 45,000 documents each month and 30,000 cases per year. All of these documents now are managed digitally but still require tremendous attention to detail and timely processing.
Published Dec. 3, 2018 at 8:28 p.m.
Story and Photo by Rotarian Holly Creel
Florida Department of Health
issues hepatitis A
DOH encourages vaccination
By the Florida Department of Health
Published Nov. 30, 2018 at 2:48 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Department of Health (department) on Wednesday (Nov. 28) issued a health advisory to inform the public of an increase in hepatitis A cases in Florida and outbreaks reported across the country.
The advisory reemphasized the importance of the hepatitis A vaccination.
Since January of 2018, there have been 385 cases of hepatitis A virus infection reported in Florida. This is more than three times the previous five-year average of 126 cases.
Florida’s cases are beginning to mirror national trends as local and state health departments across the country have worked closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to respond to similar outbreaks since March of 2017.
Hepatitis A infection is a vaccine-preventable illness. The primary mode of hepatitis A virus transmission in the United States is typically person-to-person through the fecal-oral route.
The best way to prevent hepatitis A infection is through vaccination with the hepatitis A vaccine. Additionally, practicing good hand hygiene—including thoroughly washing hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food—plays an important role in preventing the spread of hepatitis A.
People who should be vaccinated for hepatitis A include:
• All children at age 1 year
• People who are experiencing homelessness
• Users of recreational drugs, whether injected or not
• Men who have sexual encounters with other men
• People with direct contact with others who have hepatitis A
• Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common
• People with chronic or long-term liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C
• People with clotting-factor disorders
• Family and caregivers of adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common
Health care providers are reminded to immediately report all cases of hepatitis A to their local county health department to ensure a prompt public health response to prevent disease among close contacts.
The department will continue to work closely with community partners to raise awareness and promote vaccination by:
• Providing education to persons who report drug use, homelessness and/or men having sex with men, encouraging proper hand hygiene, and offering vaccination.
• Collaborating with community partners associated with Federally Qualified Health Centers, local jails, drug treatment centers, homeless shelters, hospitals, The Florida Department of Children and Families managing entities to increase vaccination access to their clients.
• Providing all high-risk clients who present to department clinics for various services (HIV, STI, TB) with the opportunity to receive hepatitis A vaccination.
• Offering hepatitis A vaccination to all high-risk clients who seek health care services at a syringe services program.
• Providing regular updates and messaging to the medical community
• Continuing to work closely with CDC to ensure we have sufficient vaccine and other resources for an effective response.
What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious disease that attacks the liver. People infected with hepatitis A are most contagious from two weeks before onset of symptoms to one week afterwards. Not everyone who is infected will have all the symptoms. Symptoms usually start within 28 days of exposure to the virus with a range of 15-50 days. Symptoms can include:
• Jaundice (yellowing skin and whites of eyes)
• Loss of appetite
• Nausea and vomiting
• Stomach pain
• Dark-colored urine
• Pale or clay colored stool
How is hepatitis A treated or hepatitis A infection prevented?
• Hepatitis A vaccine is the best method of preventing infection.
• No medicines can cure the disease once symptoms appear. People with hepatitis A symptoms should seek medical care immediately.
• Most people get better over time but may need to be hospitalized.
• Previous infection with hepatitis A provides immunity for the rest of a person’s life.
• People that are exposed to hepatitis A may be given vaccine or immune globulin within 14 days of exposure to prevent infection.
AmVets Ladies Auxiliary 422
Helps Children Stay Warm
AmVets Ladies Auxiliary 422, (Suwannee River) Fanning Springs, held a coat drive during the months of August and September, collecting gently-used jackets, coats and sweaters to be donated to Old Town Elementary School. During this same period, the proceeds from the Auxiliary’s breakfasts, dinners and an ice cream social were pledged to the same program, Coats4Kids. Auxiliary members recently shopped for new coats, jackets, hoodies, hats and gloves. Hazel Peterson and Toni Plemmons delivered on Wednesday (Nov. 28), more than $2,100 worth of clothes to help keep the students warm. The AmVets Ladies Auxiliary 422 delivered $2,100 worth of clothes to Old Town Elementary School. The coats were placed in ‘Christopher's Closet’ within the Health Clinic at the school. There was $1,350 in NEW coats, hats and gloves and then $750 worth of gently-used coats that were collected at the Post.
Published Nov. 29, 2018 at 9:38 a.m.
Information and Photo Provided
By Toni Plemmons, Secretary, AmVets Auxiliary 422, Fanning Springs
On Nov. 1, 2011, The Christian Press section on The Life Page of HardisonInk.com, started, about nine months after the start of the daily news website -- which officially started 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 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 eight years. 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.
Dec. 11, 2018 Tuesday at 8:48 a.m.
Read Hebrews 11:23-40
God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
-- Hebrews 11:40
No one’s life is complete in itself. This is a principle underlying our verse. Our lives are a part of what has gone before and a part of what follows after. It is God’s purpose to bring forth an order of perfection, and it is a better thing for us to have a part in building that order than to enter into it without any work. All who have faith in God and are in unison with His designs have their part in this purpose no matter when and where they live. It is a great thought that even Abraham and Moses cannot attain to completion of life unless we do our part in God’s service in our own day.
This thought should give us the correct perspective of life. We have important and essential places to fill in God’s designs for a kingdom of perfection, but this gives us no occasion for spiritual pride. We are links in a chain, and important as links, but we are not the whole chain.
It should also provide an inspiration for worthy living. To know that we are in the line of a great succession who have given of their best and utmost for God should lead us to do likewise. Our fathers who suffered for freedom at Valley Forge depend upon us in this day for the perpetuation of their ideals.
O GOD OUR FATHER, we thank Thee for the privilege of joining with all Thy servants of the past in faith and service. We pray for wisdom and strength to serve our day according to Thy will. Give us a sense of our responsibility both to the past and to the future. Help us to live right, serve wisely and enjoy fellowship with Thee. We make this prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen.
The Rev. John C. Siler
Tinkling Spring Presbyterian 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)
Published Dec. 6, 2018 at 9:58 a.m.
Pastor Alex Christian of First United Methodist Church of Chiefland provides a daily devotional video each Monday through Thursday via the church's Facebook page. Pastor Christian (or Pastor Alex as some people call him) in this video offers insight as well as other as aspects that may be inspirational to individuals.
Pastor Christian will be focusing on the faces of Christmas through the Christmas season.
In his four daily videos this week, Pastor Christian plans to share with people about how God chooses all of us through the story of Mary.
The pastor provides insight today (Dec. 6) about accepting God choosing you.
Click HERE to hear this pastor in this video
Luke 1:28-38 New International Version (NIV)
28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Outdoor Truths Ministry
By Gary Miller © Dec. 11, 2018 at 8:48 a.m.
There’s something about bow hunting in the dead of winter. It brings together the most difficult circumstances a hunter can face. Many times, the temperatures are in the teens, the wind can cut through the thickest clothes, and the snow can make a normally short walk to the stand, a long and treacherous trek. And then you must get within bow range, which is usually thirty to forty yards at the most. With all these great conditions, what’s not to like? I like hunting this way. It becomes, to me, a test. It is a test of my preparation, endurance, and ability. It’s also good for me to know that only a few other nuts are in the woods with me. And after a recent gun season, it seems fitting to return the quietness of a stick and string.
In life, there are also times that are more difficult than others. They are the seasons for some of the harshest circumstances life can offer. These are the seasons of sacrifice, suffering and sorrow. They make normal activities difficult and complicated. They take more focused concentration. It is the Christian winter. But it is in this winter that I am compelled to look for new life. You see, winter is the season of faith. The trees are without leaves and the ground is covered with the death of the past. Everything seems lifeless. But, it is under the surface of those leaves and that death, that we find new life for the days ahead. We may not be able to see it, but it is there. Germinating, breaking free, and growing. The lack of exposure is not for its hinderance, but for its protection. In our winter times, we too are growing. God is using the hard things to teach us to trust him. We may not see Him, but if we will look under the surface, we will find him at work, getting us ready for a new season of life. These hard things are not to hinder you, but to protect you, until it’s time for you break through.
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/.
By Angie Land © Dec. 11, 2018 at 8:48 a.m.
Here is the final column of Heart Matters
Nearly 12 years ago I began writing Heart Matters every week to cheer readers on in the work it takes to have healthy relationships. We have worked through a ton of issues over the years! Today, I am writing the final column with a big “Thank You” to those of you who have faithfully read “Heart Matters” and shared your thoughts and feedback with me through emails, letters and in person.
In the very first column, I shared an email from a young woman who asked for help with a “heart” problem. Oh man, aren’t those the worst kind? Relationships aren’t easy, and we all have a natural tendency to make a mess out of them. However, if we are willing to seek wisdom in scripture, learn from those who are doing relationships well and be willing to change and grow, we can enjoy the fruit of healthy relationships: peace, acceptance, contentment, respect, trust, and intimacy. In this last column, I want to us to remember some of the foundational truths that can help.
Proverbs 4:23 says “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” “Keeping our hearts” is the instruction to guard over our ability to give and receive love. This means we need to step back when things aren’t safe, when trust has been broken, respect is absent, or love isn’t valued. We also need to stand up when expectations are unrealistic and one-sided. We step back and stand up not to stop love but to ensure that it has a healthy place to grow.
How does this happen? “With all diligence.” Diligence is defined as “steady, earnest and energetic effort.” No one always looks great, is always perfect, or always right. That only happens in the movies. Real relationships are not fairy tales, and there are no short cuts. We all need to be willing to forgive and to be able to ask and receive forgiveness. It takes time to learn and know someone, and to figure out if you are compatible. After that it takes a lifetime to work out and value the differences. Be open to learning, changing and growing. The scariest person to be in relationship with is one who refuses to change. There is room for improvement in all of us!
Finally, what about those “issues of life” the verse mentions? An issue is a consequence or final outcome. How well we keep our hearts today will determine the consequences we face and the outcome of the relationships that affect our lives. Relationships can be the most difficult and painful part of our lives, but they can also be the best and most rewarding too. For this reason, they are worth the effort. So, keep up your pursuit of great relationships and remember, one final time, that every heart matters!
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Heart Matters was a column written by Angie Land, 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. This is her last Heart Matters column. Please contact Angie with questions or comments at email@example.com.
Exposing The Secret
By Guy Sheffield © Dec. 4, 2018 at 4:08 p.m.
“He’s just a kid,” I heard my mom pleading as I climbed atop that big red International farm tractor. I was about to argue, but I noticed my grandpa wasn’t paying her any mind. I decided not to either. If Papa said it was a go, it was a go. This was his farm and her complaining would likely only harden his Italian resolve. I even detected a faint hint of satisfaction in his voice as he said, “Keep it in da first gear der boy, just down to da bayou and back.” Momma was turning red. “He can’t be trusted daddy!” she exasperated. I feigned a conciliatory smile toward her, winked at my little brother Heath, and popped the clutch on big red; leaving them all choking in the delta dust.
Chances are mom stomped off mad, but I never turned to look. It was important to show Papa I could keep my eyes on the road. If I could muster some kind of maturity here I might get a free run of the tractor this summer. I nearly veered off the turn row just thinking about it.
It was scarcely a quarter mile to the bayou, but it didn’t take that long for me to grow extremely bored with just puttering along in first gear. I mean, a man can only take so much. Besides, I was hankering to idle her up and rip through the gears. Let’s see what this baby will do! This bobbing along was putting me to sleep. By the time I reached the bayou I was asking myself, “What are rules for anyhow, just to hold a man down?” Since Papa hadn’t actually specified what side of the bayou I should turn around on, I crossed on over. While there, shielded by that thick tree line, the thought hit me, “What would it hurt if I let loose a couple hundred yards? Shucks, it might not take but a few seconds. They can’t see me from the barn anyhow.”
My little brother Heath, who possesses a memory like a hypnotized elephant on truth serum, still likes to tell it from his perspective. “The moment that bone head crossed the bayou,” he recalls, “Papa started growling in Italian. Momma hollered out the window, “I told you!” Grandma dug out her rosary beads and started reciting ‘Hail Marys’. Everyone’s jaw dropped when we saw that tremendous dust cloud tearing along above the tree line akin to a space shuttle launching across the bayou.”
When I came puttering innocently back up to the barn Papa’s face was so red I thought he’d been stung by a bee. “What’s wrong with you?” I asked. His jaw muscles worked, but nothing came out. He just motioned for me to park it. This certainly wasn’t the fanfare I had expected. Where was everyone at? Didn’t momma owe me an apology? As I drove past I noticed Papa’s big bushy eyebrows were gnarled and hanging at a strange angle. It seemed vaguely familiar, like some sort of deja-vu all over again. When I hopped down, he yanked off his big leather belt. Then it all came suddenly flooding back to me. Those were the same brows I’d seen the day I’d bonked him on the head with that big dirt clod. Uh-oh!
But anyway- Why do we always think we can get away with something when we think no one is looking? God is always looking you know. What would make me think I could pull one over on Him, when He even discerns the thoughts and intents of our hearts? I couldn’t even hide my sin from an old man a quarter of a mile away behind a tree line and a pair of monster eyebrows! (Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the one to whom we are accountable. Hebrews 4:13 NLT) We’d do well to just keep things real with the Lord. There’s really no such thing as a secret to Him. It all registers on the sowing and reaping chart.
Thanks to a praying grandmother and a fast pair of Converse, I survived the wrath of the zesty Italian that day. I never did get free run of his tractors though. Later Papa even welded a piece of metal on the gear box of his riding lawn mower to keep it in second gear so I wouldn’t cut his yard on two wheels; but of course, that’s a whole-nother story.
Guy Sheffield's website - But Anyway is located at http://www.butanyway.org/
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TUESDAY DEC. 10 8:48 a.m.
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