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Gary Miller's Outdoor Truths Ministry, March 20, 2023
Pastor speaks to Gilchrist Rotarians
New church opens Easter Sunday
Pastor Scott Campbell (left) and Rotarian Rick Washburn provide a photo opportunity March 20.
Story and Photo Provided
Published March 22, 2023 at 8:30 p.m.
TRENTON – The Gilchrist County Rotary Club welcomed Pastor Scott Campbell of Destiny Community Church (DCC) at the weekly meeting on Monday (March 20).
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The church is located at 1038 N. Main St. (U.S. Highway 129) in Trenton.
Pastor Scott, along with his wife Nikki, son Trenton and daughters McKensie and Piper will be the serving Gilchrist County at the new DCC Trenton campus starting on Easter Sunday (April 9), when the church opens.
Pastor Scott shared his journey from Plant City (Hillsborough County) to joining DCC at the Newberry church location as a youth pastor five years ago. When the opportunity came for DCC to expand into the Trenton community at the old Living Praise Church of God location, Pastor Scott was excited to take on the role of campus pastor.
Pastor Scott shared some history of how DCC serves the community as the model for his vision on how DCC will impact Gilchrist county in the upcoming years. He shared pictures and stories of community events such as Family Fest in the fall and Eggstravaganza near Easter as free events for the community to come, enjoy some free food and games.
In a couple weeks, 30,000 Easter eggs with candy in them will be gathered up in just a few minutes by some excited kids.
Additionally, DCC provides meals to teachers at Newberry and teacher appreciation bags, Community Serve Month – where projects to clean the community, help widows and single mother’s with oil changes, clean up yards of those unable to, repair houses and other service projects.
Pastor Scott shared some of the impact of a partnership with “Buy A Tree, Change a Life.” Where Christmas trees are sold to raise money. Fifty percent of the proceeds help mission work overseas and the remaining 50 percent stays in the local area for needs. Last year $20,000 was given to Foster Florida with several thousand dollars given to other school programs and local needs in the Plant City community.
DCC will begin services at the Trenton location 1038 N Main St. (U.S. Highway 129), Trenton, at 10:30 a.m. on Easter Sunday.
For individuals who are looking for a church home, “Welcome Home to DCC!”
The Gilchrist County Rotary Club meets at noon every Monday (except Monday holidays) at the Gilchrist Women’s Club.
Gilchrist County Rotary
announces new member and more
(from left) New Rotarian Ryan Clemons, Rotary President Elect Donna Lee Brunson, Rotary President John Rutledge and Rotary Secretary John Frazier are seen during one of the meetings in February.
Information and Photos Provided
By Holly Creel, Rotarian
Published March 21, 2023 at 3:15 p.m.
TRENTON -- The Rotary Club of Gilchrist County inducted Ryan Clemons as a new member in February.
Clemons is the grant coordinator for Gilchrist Emergency Management Department, which is headed by Director Ralph Smith. Emergency management in all Florida counties prepares for disasters, such as hurricanes and floods, as well as responding to the onset when there is time, responding to the immediate needs of people from disasters and then continuing to care for the needs of the community in the aftermath.
Clemons also coordinates the grants for Gilchrist County Fire Rescue, which is led by Fire Chief James Campbell, where Clemons has been employed for more than five years. Clemons started in healthcare as a Certified Nursing Assistant and became a Paramedic 11 years ago. He earned an Associate’s Degree in Emergency Medical Services.
Originally from the City of Lake Butler (Union County), Ryan Clemons and his spouse, Jonathan, attend Trenton United Methodist Church. They love to ride their bikes, play with their golden retriever, and listen to music, especially Southern Gospel, and tend to their family.
Clemons was sponsored by Rotarian President-Elect Donna Lee Brunson. She begins her term as president on July 1, the start of the Rotary Year.
Tim Reed plays the bagpipes.
Rotary President Elect Donna Lee Brunson, Cherie Zamecnik-Reed and Tim Reed
During the month of March, Rotarian Theresa Sapp and her husband Lesley hosted speakers - David and Brooke Hogrefe. David serves as a wildfire management expert. He explained about forestry management, and how controlled burns help preserve vegetation and wildlife. His wife Brooke entertained the club’s members and guests with her expertise and stories about beekeeping.
Also in March, the Gilchrist County Rotarians got in the spirit of Saint Patrick's Day with a joyful presentation from Gilchrist County resident Tim Reed.
Reed played on the bagpipe and explained how it operates. A bagpipe is a wind instrument using reeds fed from a reservoir of air in the form of a bag. Bagpipes have been used for centuries in many parts of the world but are best known as an instrument played by those with Irish or Scottish descent.
Reed also spoke about the kilt and other traditional attire that he wore for his presentation. He told listeners about the traditional food for St. Patrick's Day - corned beef and cabbage. Another popular dish is colcannon - a delightful mixture of potatoes, leeks, cabbage and lots of real Irish butter
The Gilchrist County Rotarians have scheduled their 15th Annual Fishing Tournament on Saturday, April 15 at Suwannee Marina in Dixie County.
The Rotary Club of Gilchrist County meets every Monday (except holidays_ at the Woman's Club in Trenton from 12 to 1 p.m.
This is a service club committed to helping the residents and visitors of Gilchrist County, focusing especially on the youth of Gilchrist by supporting the Gilchrist League, music programs at all of public schools and through Interact Service Clubs at the public high schools in Bell and Trenton.
Dixie County Commission
takes care of business
Building official corrects fire chief
The full Dixie County Board of County Commissioners were present Thursday night (March 16) for the full meeting. All motions were met with 5-0 votes of approval. Seen here (from left) are County Commissioner Daniel Wood III, County Commissioner Mark Hatch, Commission Chairman Jamie Storey, Commission Vice Chairman Jody Stephenson and Commissioner David Osteen.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © March 17, 2023 at 10:15 a.m.
DIXIE COUNTY – The Dixie County Board of County Commissioners on Thursday night (March 16) took care of business expeditiously.
The five men were so quick and efficient, though, it took a reminder from a member of the audience to officially approve an ordinance, because they had reached the public comments and concerns part of the 25-point agenda.
Certainly, not everything was rainbows and butterflies, either. Other than the little bump that was smoothed at the end with the approval of that ordinance, there was a need for a building official to make clear something a fire official had said earlier.
And Dixie County Librarian Cindy Bellot and others will be putting buckets in areas to catch rainwater falling through leaks in the roof of the Dixie County Library in Cross City.
Nevertheless, it was a positive meeting with plenty of progress on several fronts.
From the opening prayer through the unanimous approval for adjournment, the elected leaders brought actions for the good of all residents and visitors in Dixie County, as best as they could from their perspectives.
And while the library roof is still an issue, Dixie County Commission Vice Chairman Jody Stephenson reminded commissioners and other listeners about the Town Hall Meeting set for March 18, as noted previously on the Community Calendar of HardisonInk.com.
Stephenson everyone is welcome. He is thinking about having these quarterly, and in the future there may be more fun activities like a bounce house for children. He said the event this Saturday will provide people who have to work during the week to give input on what they see as methods to improve Dixie County, as well as to learn the truth rather than depend on the gossip of social media.
Ed Pivacek tells the County Commission that he withdraws the request for a special exception to permit a Travel Trailer Parks Zone District. Pivacek said he will find another use for the property.
As for the meeting Thursday evening, the first petition for a special exception to a land development regulation was withdrawn after it was apparently bound for probable denial.
An initial petition by J.M. Sanders and Mailian Sanders, with Ed Pivacek serving as their agent, reflected a request for a special exception to permit a Travel Trailer Parks Zone District on property at 15319 N.W. U.S. Highway 19 in Cross City.
County Commissioner David Osteen made a motion to deny the petition, which was seconded by County Commissioner Mark Hatch.
Osteen told Pivacek that he believes this approval would take away from the enjoyment of people who stay at The Putnam Lodge, because it would create more noise in their neighborhood. Osteen intimated that somehow people on social media could influence people to not visit the establishment if this travel trailer park were established.
Before the County Commission voted on the motion to deny the request, Pivacek withdrew the request. While he mentioned that visitors at the lodge and restaurant hear logging trucks and other traffic from U.S. Highway 19 already, they continue returning and enjoying their visits to the historic lodge and restaurant.
Pivacek said he did not want to make any enemies. So, he withdrew the petition. He said he will find another use for the property.
As a result, there was no vote on the petition, because the motion, which had been seconded for discussion, became a moot issue, County Attorney Chana Watson confirmed.
On another matter, a motion by County Commission Vice Chairman Jody Stephenson, seconded by Commissioner Mark Hatch met with a 5-0 vote of approval.
Gary F. Jones sought to amend the Official Zoning Atlas of the Land Development Regulations, by changing the zoning district from Residential, (Mixed) Single Family/Mobile Home-2 (RSF/MH-2) To Commercial, Neighborhood (CN) on the approximately 29 one hundredths of one acre at Lot 86 of the Suwannee Shores Subdivision.
Dixie County Building Official Leon Wright explained this was a request to correct records. Commissioners said they remember that property as an old hardware store.
There was a bit of a difference in the manner this matter brought by Jones was broached in comparison with custom, because Stephenson made the motion to approve the request – although the property was in Commissioner Hatch’s district. By tradition, the requests for zoning revisions, special exceptions, variances and the like see motions initiated by the commissioner from whose district the request originates.
The notation of which commissioner’s district the property exists was not on the agenda, nor was it in the citation read before the motion was made. Hence, Stephenson who remembers the hardware store thought it was in his district of the county.
On the subsequent resolution regarding that 5-0 vote of approval, which resolution was adopted after the public hearing part of the meeting, Hatch made the motion to approve the resolution and Commission Osteen seconded that motion, which met with a 5-0 vote of approval.
The other commissioners at the meeting were Chairman Jamie Storey and Commissioner Daniel Wood III.
On a Hatch-Stephenson motion, the subsequent resolution concerning Lot 86 of the Suwannee Shores Subdivision was approved.
In Dixie County, the County Commission sits as the Planning and Zoning Board. They make recommendations to themselves, where they sit as the County Commission, to approve planning and zoning matters.
As for the ordinance that was adopted, it went with the records cleanup required from the amendment of the Zoning Atlas of the Land Development Regulations
Greg Bailey of North Florida Professional Services explained that the county can repair leaks, but as for the roof replacement at the library, the county does not own the whole building. Therefore, Bailey said, the roofing contractor cannot warranty the roof replacement.
In regard to the repairs, he said, the county just can’t take the repairs down to the gypsum level. Hence, the library workers are putting buckets out to catch rain that leaks through the roof and ceiling into the library. It has caused ceiling tiles to fall, as well as to cause some damage to library inventory, Bellot told HardisonInk.com.
And while the library is dealing with leaks via buckets, the Nature and Art Festival at Glen Dyals Park in the Suwannee community this past weekend was noted to be a resounding success, especially by Commissioner Hatch.
Hatch succeeded, too, along with commissioner Osteen to have two county parks in their districts improved where tennis courts can used for pickleball. This game is a modified version of tennis that is easier.
New paint and nets are planned for the two sets of tennis courts to make them ready for pickleball.
Osteen wants everyone with children or grandchildren in the area to volunteer for pickleball activities.
Dixie County Building Official Leon Wright explains how Dixie County Emergency Services Chief Darian Brown misspoke at an earlier meeting regarding regulations and procedures for development.
When Building Official Wright was speaking with the County Commission, he mentioned that he had read that Dixie County Emergency Services Chief Darian Brown had spoken about projects not meeting certain requirements for development.
The campground on U.S. Highway 19 south of Cross City and north of Old Town, Wright said, has not had any building permits issued yet. Right now, the owner has a zoning clarification use on that property.
“He’s allowed to do sitework,” Wright said. “He’s allowed to move dirt. He’s allowed to prep his property – at his own risk. There’ll be a permitting process that will be gone through, and to articulate that, in front of you is a copy of the ISO audit that I spoke about before.”
In the Feb. 7 letter from the Insurance Services Office (ISO), it shows that the Dixie County Building Department earned the highest and best rating ever in the history of the county.
In part the letter noted, “The resulting Building Code Effectiveness Grading Classification (BCEGS) is 04 for 1 and 2 family residential property and 03 for commercial and industrial property.”
BCEGS classifications range from 1-10, with a Class 1 representing “exemplary commitment to building-code enforcement,” the letter also notes in part. The ISO ratings have an effect on property owners’ annual insurance rates.
Chairman Storey said the County Commission supports Wright in his decisions related to building regulations, which can change due to state legislation.
Wright mentioned one instance that is active where a developer is unhappy that he is unable to have his power turned on. The state confirmed that Wright’s decision on that matter is correct. The developer is paying a lawyer and Wright referred the matter to County Attorney Watson to deal with that.
On the matter of personnel in his department, Wright plans to cross-train employees for code enforcement in the future to deal with vacations or other absences. John Jenkins, the newest employee, is eligible to again be certified for building inspections, Wright said.
Wright also mentioned that thanks to work by a member of his office staff, the Building Department has fixed an auditing issue that existed since 2011 regarding paperwork with the Florida Department of Revenue regarding fees accepted by the county for radon inspections. Therefore, this will not be among the notations in the audit for the current fiscal year.
Dixie County Manager Duane Cannon and Dixie County Attorney Chana Watson help the County Commission understand about projects and legal issues. Among the legal matters, Attorney Watson said the county can sell its 80-acre former landfill site. The County Commission voted to move forward with the process to offer the land for sale.
Dixie County Manager Duane Cannon found all 10 of his requests being approved with 5-0 votes. And he reminded the County Commission about the 2023 Suwannee River Fair Youth Livestock Show and Sale.
To see the complete SRF scheduled for this year, click HERE.
Cannon’s requests that were approved are noted below.
● Execute the Locklear & Associates’ task work order for Dixie County Road 351 South from one-quarter of one mile north of Southeast 163rd Street to County Road 351A in the amount of $240,000 for design and engineering services.
● Execute the North Florida Professional Services’ task work order for the same project in the amount of $158,400 for construction engineering and inspection services.
● Execute the State Housing Initiative Partnership Program (SHIPP) down payment assistance for Joel Adams in the amount of $20,000.
● Accept the lowest bidder for the CR 351 Canal System West Cross City Conveyance Project Phase One from Blue Rok Inc. of Perry based on hourly rates not to exceed $238,250 based off of the storm water task force recommendations. This funding is from the American Rescue Plan Act fiscal recovery for state and local governments from the global COVID-19 pandemic.
● Order four 48-inch diameter by 30-foot long culvert pipes based off Storm Water Task Force recommendations.
● Execute the PTGA Drainage Improvement Planning Review of the airfield at Cross City Airport in the amount of $100,000. The Florida Department of Transportation is funding 100 percent of this portion of the project. This approval is pending attorney review.
● Approve the resolution related to the PTGA Drainage Improvement Planning Review of the airfield at Cross City Airport in the amount of $100,000. This approval is pending attorney review.
● Approve a partnership with Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to provide a 20-yard dumpster for the assistance to clean up the Old Town property located at 25559 S.E. U.S. Highway 19, behind The United Methodist Church there. This is related to a code enforcement project where the FDEP is taking care of the tires being removed. As for the allegedly illegal campers that remain in the area, this is an active code violation which the county is pursuing still.
● Approve the members of the Dixie County Board of County Commissioners, the county manager and the assistant county manager to attend the Florida Association of Counties 2023 Annual Conference on June 27 through June 30, where this conference is going to be in Orlando.
● Approve a continuation of the fuel tax distribution percentages, method and effective dates for the six-cent local tax. This distribution is a 81.25 percent for Dixie County 12.5 percent for the city of Cross City and 6 percent for the town of Horseshoe Beach. There is no new tax and there is no new distribution plan for the taxes. This is just a notation required for the state to know the county and municipalities want a continuation of these distribution percentages.
CBD salesman heads fundraiser
Local DAV gets $1,500 check
Celebrating the check presentation on March 14 are (seated, from left) DAV Chapter 63 of the Tri-County Area Commander Larry Folander, his home health aide Ashlee McDougall and DAV Chapter 63 Treasurer George Wood; and (standing in the background, from left) DAV Member Charity Hall, DAV Chapter 63 Adjutant Charles Goodman and DAV Member Joseph Remy, who organized the fundraising event in February. Not pictured is Sue Ellen Goodman, who escorted her husband from Williston to Akins BBQ in Bell for the ceremony.
Story and Photo
By Jeff M. Hardison © March 15, 2023 at 12:45 p.m.
BELL – Business owners and other members of the Town of Bell and elsewhere, including Gainesville and Ocala, donated to a local chapter of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) via a fundraiser on Feb. 13.
On March 14, a check for $1,500 was presented to DAV Chapter 63 of the Tri-County Area.
Joseph Remy, owner of a CBD retail outlet in the area, recently joined DAV Chapter 63 of the Tri-County Area. Remy said he served in the United States Air Force for eight years and “medically retired” after eight years in 2018.
Remy said he suffered traumatic brain injury and spinal injury and was using other pain medicine before switching to CBD. After experiencing success with pain management by using CBD, he decided to make this more available to people.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, a cousin of marijuana, or manufactured in a laboratory. As one of the hundreds of components in marijuana, CBD does not cause a "high" by itself, according to a report from the World Health Organization, which is cited in a 2018 Harvard Medical Journal article.
On Feb. 13, Remy said, more than 100 people participated in what was called the “Community Valentines Auction and Bake Sale for the Disabled American Veterans.”
Among the corporate donors were Akins BBQ, Cast or Cruise Salt Water Adventures, Happy Pharms, Kats Divine K-9 Academy, Kickin' Cowboy BBQ Sauce, Landmark Mortgage Planners, Marton Concrete and Utilities, One Breath Institute, R&J Fuel Stop of Bell, and Sansei Shuri International.
The check presentation was made at Akins BBQ in the Town of Bell during lunchtime on Tuesday (March 14).
Remy said that after visiting with people in regard to a DAV fundraiser, he found the Bell community was receptive. The activities included cakes for sale, a fishing charter auctioned and much more, he said.
The disabled American veteran said he wants to bring awareness to the DAV Chapter 63 of the Tri-County Area because these men and women are among the finest Americans.
DAV Chapter 63 of the Tri-County Area Commander Folander said the chapter was unaware of the fundraiser conducted by Remy, who he said is “a wonderful man,” who is an active member of this DAV chapter.
To see an Aug. 8, 2021 story and photos about Vet-Fest 2021 held at Otter Springs Park and Campground, which is the future home of Project Valor, click HERE.
Tony Berlon Weeks Vs. Town Of Bronson
By Jeff M. Hardison © March 14, 2023 at 10 p.m.
BRONSON – The saying may have started in the mid-1800s, but a court case that started a few years ago shows “You can’t fight city (or town) hall.” In the case of Tony Berlon Weeks versus the Town of Bronson, Weeks conceded in the court case, even if he believes in his heart, mind and soul that he did not really resign at the Sept. 15, 2020, special Bronson Town Council meeting where he had said he would bring in a letter of resignation the next day.
In the Circuit Court of the Eighth Judicial Circuit in in for Levy County, the case of Tony Berlin Weeks, plaintiff, versus the Town of Bronson, defendant, will have an order canceling the motion for summary judgment, pretrial conference, and non-jury trial, which is scheduled to be entered as a final order.
Eighth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Craig C. DeThomasis is the most recent judge to rule on matters related to this case, after it went from the state circuit court to the federal court system and then was sent back to the state court system.
Attorney Susan S. Erdelyi, for the Town of Bronson, and attorney Jefferson M. Braswell, for Weeks, were furnished this information on Monday (March 13), according to records.
This matter came before the court on notice of voluntary dismissal by the plaintiff, according to records. Upon further review of the court file, the court finds that the motion for summary judgment, pretrial conference scheduled for Monday, March 13, at 2 p.m., and the non-jury trial scheduled for April 3, 4 and 5 at 9 a.m. should be cancelled, according to records.
Therefore, the judge considered, ordered, and adjudged that the motion for summary judgment regarding pretrial conference and the other matters, as noted above, are cancelled. This was done and ordered on Monday, March 13, according to records.
On Tuesday, March 14, Weeks spoke with HardisonInk.com about the case, as well as why he gave up his attempt to have the court rule that he did not resign from Bronson Town Council two and a half years ago, even though the other elected leaders back then by a majority vote “accepted” his resignation.
There is a proverbial bottom line to this case and what Weeks went through after trying to help certain people understand that he did not resign from Town Council, although he said he planned to do so.
The net result, as for politics, Weeks said, is that he is done, except as a voter.
More importantly, Weeks said on Tuesday is that he still knows he can trust God and Jesus to help him every day to overcome obstacles. His faith saw him through this dilemma.
Nevertheless, Weeks sees some flaws in the civil circuit court system as far as resolving some issues. In general, looking at this case, Weeks said the town had a better attorney and a bigger bank account to fund their defense than he had to seek justice as a plaintiff.
This issue, which is now ended, started back in 2020. Actually, it may have had its seeds back long ago from a town operating without a solid form of government. Even today, the town’s charter, its cornerstone for operations and governance, is outdated.
At the special Bronson Town Council meeting on Sept. 15, 2020, Weeks lost his composure after becoming frustrated with other elected town government officials and most of the town’s workers at the time.
It was at that meeting, when he said he would provide a letter of resignation the next day, and he walked out before the meeting was officially adjourned. That frustration, in part, may not have been as deep some weeks later when the town leaders found a method to hire a town manager, rather than relying on a mayor and Town Council to direct employees.
On Sept. 16, 2020, Weeks was told that he resigned, although he tried to tell the Town Council earlier that day, and repeatedly after then, that he did not resign.
On Sept. 22, 2020, during another special Bronson Town Council meeting, there was a 3-1 vote where the elected leaders back then decided Weeks had resigned. At the time, the only dissenting voter was then Vice-Mayor Jason Hunt.
After a long series of court actions, Weeks finally gave up.
On Tuesday (March 14), he spoke about the case, which is now destined to be closed.
Weeks said he found difficulty in discovery as well as having to deal with a judge who felt this issue became a moot point after the Town Council appointed Tyler Voorhees to replace him, and then Vorhees won an election after Weeks’ unexpired term ended.
“I got tired of fighting,” Weeks said, “and I really wanted to move on with my life.”
Weeks said he will spend about $40,000 on this matter when all is done.
Weeks recounted the whole history of the town’s turnover of employees, as well as accusations against him.
At the Sept. 15, 2020, special meeting, Weeks said “I will resign” rather than “I resign,” he said in his interview Tuesday morning. The statement about his intent to deliver a letter of resignation the next day was made in the heat of the moment, when he had lost his composure; and the next day, he recanted that choice.
However, the wheels of the remaining Bronson Town Council were in motion, and that force to assure he was out of his position succeeded.
Weeks said the key to his loss in the case was that his attorneys, first from the Fugate & Fugate Law Firm, and then Braswell, “never got discovery.” Weeks was deposed by the opposing counsel, and Robert Partin sat in during the deposition, which is something Weeks did not like, especially since Partin was among those who voted to “accept” a resignation that Weeks said he would provide, but then he did not provide.
Weeks turned over his cell phone, provided the defense with every record they sought, but he did not see a reciprocal action, Weeks said. The records he sought through discovery were not produced, he said.
Weeks said his letters to the governor and the state representative about what he considered a miscarriage of justice went unanswered. United States Rep. Neal Dunn, who at the time was the member of the United States House of Representatives for Bronson, answered, but only to say that Weeks must go through the civil circuit court’s judicial process.
“The only person who had my back through this was (Levy County Commissioner) John Meeks,” Weeks said.
Day after day for five days after Weeks saw an email where the mayor accepted the “unconditional resignation,” he wrote to the town clerk’s email address as well as to Town Attorney Steven Warm to note that he did not resign his position, Weeks said.
Warm called Weeks and asked what he was trying to do, Weeks said.
Weeks said he was trying to let the town leaders know that although he lost his composure at a meeting and said he planned to provide a letter of resignation the next day, by the time that day came, he had thought better of what he had considered doing, and he took every reasonable action to let everyone know that he chose against resigning.
Nonetheless, after a long and expensive scuffle in court, this case is done. He is voluntarily dismissing this action.
Now Weeks is moving on. He is working with another gentleman to help teach people about investing in the stock market, as well as how to manage their money in a proper manner, Weeks said.
As for the Town of Bronson, its leaders took action and now there is a town manager who is guiding the other workers. Weeks said he sees some problems in the town, but he is done with politics now.
To read the Sept. 18, 2020 story about this matter, click HERE.
To see the Nov. 24, 2020 story, with photos and video, titled "Unrecognized councilman causes shortened meeting," click HERE.
To see the Dec. 9, 2020 story and photos titled "Berlon Weeks moves forward with suit against Bronson; Town manager interviews slated for Friday and Saturday," click HERE.
To see the March 23, 2021 story titled "Weeks’ case moves to federal court," click HERE.
First Presbyterian Church of Williston
turns 100 years old on April 1
History of the past century shared
Joan Wells, CRE, is the current pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Williston.
Information and Photo
Provided By Robert Koval and others
Published March 10, 2023 at 7:30 a.m.
WILLISTON -- Dedicated to the Glory of God, and to the men and women who made this church possible, First Presbyterian Church of Williston turns 100 years old on April 1. The current pastor is Joan Wells, CRE.
A CRE is a Commissioned Ruling Elder, which is an elder who is trained and commissioned by the presbytery to provide pastoral services to a particular church or churches.
Ruby C. Ross had long been the church historian. Her records are impeccable. Much of this article is based on her meticulous records.
Later on, Ann Gay Burch continued to record ongoing church history. Another special thanks goes to Bob Henry at the Williston Public Library, one of five public libraries in Levy County. He, too, was a big contributor to these records.
Ross began her presentation of “Our Presbyterian Heritage,” by writing in detail about the Protestant Reformation, including such names and deeds/details as to what they did to accomplish our rich heritage.
She spoke about Martin Luther (Nov. 10, 1483-Feb. 18, 1546) (Germany); John Wycliffe (1328-Dec. 31, 1384) (England); Jan Hus (sometimes anglicized as John Hus or John Huss) (1369-Died: July 6, 1415) (Husinec, Czechia); John Calvin (July 10, 1509-May 27, 1564) (France); and John Knox (1514 – 24 Nov. 24, 1572) (Scotland), considered to be the father of the modern Presbyterian Church.
“Presbyterian” means “elder.” Therefore, Presbyterian churches are governed by the “ruling elders,” who are elected and ordained.
Many changes came about during the early Presbyterian Church, depending on numerous ideals and life situations. There were mergers and separations, followed by more mergers and separations, influenced by both internal and external forces. Generally speaking, the Presbyterian form of government, deacons and elders, replaced the Episcopal form of church government in England for a time, with the elimination of bishops and archbishops.
Depending on who was king, the Episcopal form was restored in England. Presbyterians, however, remained strong in Scotland, where the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church resided, and adopted the form of government prepared by Westminster Assembly. Through migration and missionaries, their standards were spread throughout the world.
Calvinists (British Puritans and Pilgrims) and English, Scottish, and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians were among the first settlers in Colonial America. Shortly thereafter, settlements came from Dutch Calvinists, French Huguenots and German Reform. Most of these groups went from Europe to America seeking more religious freedom.
While the Founding Fathers were assembling the United States Constitution, the Presbyterians were organizing their American General Assembly, also in Philadelphia.
Back then, there were 431 churches, 177 Presbyterian ministers, and almost 20,000 members.
With the coming of the American Civil War, many religious denominations split, following the states in which they resided. The Presbyterians followed suit, and organized the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America, in Augusta, Georgia. Several years after the War, the General Assemblies once again united.
PRESBYTERIANS COME TO WILLISTON
Fifteen Christians met with A.P. Gregory and I.E. Phillips, ministers representing the Suwannee Presbytery on April 1, 1923, to organize the First Presbyterian Church of Williston.
The meeting took place at the Temple Theater building on Noble Avenue. (A second version of this was written in 1980 by a person that was remembering the organization of the Church from her childhood. She indicated that they met in the Masonic Hall, which was located over the Ford Motor Garage.)
The Rev. Phillips was called to serve as the first minister. His annual salary was $500. The first officers elected and installed were J.L. Ross (elder), William McDougald (deacon), and Pasley Brewer (deacon). Additionally, Mr. Harrison, Mr. & Mrs. E.C. Miller, Mr. Pasley, Hattie Peacock, J.L. Ross, Quincy P. Ross, Mrs. Joyce, Mr. & Mrs. Lacy Joyce, William McDougald, and Adlere Pasley were listed as charter members.
At times, the church was served by traveling ministers, who served four other local Presbyterian churches.
Included in research are lists of 32 Deacons ordained between 1923 and 1972, another listing 12 more from 1973 to 1984, and 25 ruling elders ordained between 1923 and 1984 (including the first woman).
In 1957, neighboring Verbenadale and Morriston Presbyterian Churches closed. Many of these members were welcomed in as members to Williston.
The Suwanee Presbytery gave financial assistance until 1968, when the Williston Church became financially independent. In 1984, the church published a photo directory, while the church continued to sponsor David and Mary Steel, as missionaries in Korea.
The first homecoming was held on Nov. 7, 1982. The church was 59 years old. It had been served by 21 interim ministers and eight full-time pastors.
Eventually, the governing body switched from the Suwanee Presbytery to St. Augustine.
Several years later, fifth Sundays became special. Several local churches gather together every fifth Sunday. One church hosted the group for a special evening service. Afterwards, the group retired to that church’s fellowship hall, where women of the host church had prepared a potluck meal -- always tasty and enjoyable.
BUILDINGS, PROPERTY AND NEW TO THE CHURCH
THE FIRST PART OF THE CHURCH BUILDING
After two years of being “homeless,” these dedicated Presbyterians, with financial aid and guidance from the Presbytery, built the first part of the basic building on the corner of Northeast First Street and Third Avenue, in 1925.
The addition of the fellowship hall and remodeling of the sanctuary began in 1947. The back wall was extended, adding a choir loft. The Fellowship Hall was then added, which was completed and dedicated in 1950, and named for Ruby Ross, Charter Member, Historian, and all-around church woman.
The steeple had long been a hope of the church, as early as during the 1950 remodeling. Many members had contributed to a Memorial Fund, with the building of a steeple in mind. Many faithful members worked as a committee starting in 1975. They agreed that the approved proposed price of a steeple would be $4,460.
The money to complete the project would come from solicited pledges in an “Every Member Canvas.” If needed, the trustees were authorized to borrow up to $1,000. The steeple became a reality at 2:15 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 6, 1977, with a dedication service held on May 8, 1977.
As for the choir and choir robes Reverend McKay, the pastor during the late 1970s, was a lover of good church music. He believed that the choir needed a beautiful choir.
There were 17 members who wore their new robes on June 26, 1977. The robes had been paid for mostly by private contributions, although some choir members paid for their own robes.
As for The Manse (Roman Catholics call it a rectory and many New England protestant churches call it a parsonage) this is the living quarters, usually near or next to the church, with which it is associated.
It houses the pastors and, if appropriate, their families. First Presbyterian of Williston built its manse in 1955. Dr. and Mrs. J. W. Creighton were the first occupants. They had been missionaries and were in the United States on leave. He served as pastor until 1960, when he retired.
The education building, also Rev. McKay’s project, was started and later enlarged in 1976. Many members staffed the Sunday School, which held four classrooms.
Activities included Easter egg hunts, Christmas parties, and caroling hayrides, in addition to traditional Sunday school lessons. Groundbreaking was held on Oct. 13, 1947.
There were special projects in the past and now. These included
Presbyterian Missionaries, such as Florida Presbyterian College, which was named Eckerd College on July 1, 1972, in Saint Petersburg (Pinellas County);, Presbyterian School of Christian Education (Richmond, Virginia), Columbia Seminary (Decatur, Georgia), Camp Montgomery Conference Center (Keystone Heights – Clay County), Ministerial Relief Fund, Montreat Conference Center (Blue Ridge Mountains), Rabun Gap-Nacooche School (Georgia), and Thernwell (Clinton, South Carolina).
As for women in the church, pastor’s wives are always special and provide much to the success of the church. There were many through the years at this church.
The Presbyterian Auxiliary (Women of the Church) was formed in 1924. Their projects included the Foreign Missions Offering, the Home Missions Offering and the Ministerial Relief Offering.
In more modern times, it was known as the Presbyterian Women, which met once a month (except for July/August). A short prayer, and a business meeting was followed by a lesson.
Some years, a book prepared by the Presbytery was used. Someone different presided over the meeting each month. Presbyterian Women had some of the same projects as their earlier counterparts and many others. Many of these projects were focused on local issues.
Food band, Christmas presents for those confined to long-term care facilities, Christmas Caroling, and other activities were included in this area.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 global pandemic ended this some years ago.
It was still a man’s world into the 1980s for this church. Women, generally, were not part of a governing body in many churches. This was especially true with Presbyterians. (It’s still true in one particular branch of the Presbyterian Church.)
Nevertheless, a woman whose church service was beyond reproach broke into the man’s world of Williston Presbyterian on Jan. 8, 1984. Mrs. F.W. (Rosa Mae) Priest was elected and ordained the first woman Elder title.
Rosa Mae had been born into a Presbyterian family. She had been a member of the Morriston Church until it closed. She served in many capacities over the years: teaching Sunday School, holding offices in Presbyterian Women organizations, as church pianist, and directing bible study.
She was the mother of a rather large family. Her late son Danny had been a deacon and an elder, and another son, Haile, is currently an elder. She gave this church much by which people can remember her.
Ruby Ross – as mentioned earlier, was a mover and shaker in the idea and construction of the Fellowship Hall.
Betty O’Neill (Mrs. William) is a modern day contemporary who provided a great deal of value to a variety of needs. She, along with Mrs. Priest, were the first women on the Pulpit Committee.
Hall of Fame recipient
Renate Cannon stands with Don Quincey Jr. just before the start of the March 7 meeting in Bronson. Cannon is an avid observer of local government as well as being a friend of the Levy County cattleman.
Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © March 9, 2023 at 10:45 a.m.
BRONSON – Don Quincey Jr. was recognized Monday (March 7) for his significant feat of being the first person from Levy County to be named to the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame. It was during the Florida State Fair of 2023 when Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Wilton Simpson and other made the official announcement.
The other man honored thusly this year was Dr. John Woeste.
The first story published in HardisonInk.com about this was on Nov. 1, 2022, when then-Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried announced it. That story can be seen by clicking HERE.
The next story published in HardisonInk.com about this was a couple of weeks later when Quincey granted an interview. That story can be seen by clicking HERE.
To see what the Florida Department of Agriculture currently has posted about this Hall of Fame inductee, click HERE. This is what Chairman Brooks read at the ceremony.
Beyond all that, the recognition Monday morning offered an opportunity for the Levy County Commission to recognize the man, and he provided more insight as well.
After receiving the award from the County Commission, Quincey said he felt humbled and gratified by being inducted into the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame, and all of the other things that happened.
He said he is proud, though, to be the first Levy County native to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and he is proud of the county and the agricultural community within Levy County.
By this, he means all of the cattle ranchers, the peanut farmers, the watermelon farmers, the tree farmers, as well as all of the other farmers and ranchers who raise other livestock and crops. Agriculture, Quincey said, is a significant part of the local economy in Levy County.
The state and county government leaders play a big role in what ranchers and farmers are able to do, he said.
The cattle rancher asked the county leaders to remember as they make regulations, to make them using fair-handed methods that care for the economy, the agriculture community, as well as the rest of the people.
During the several years when Quincey was a member of the Governing Board Suwannee River Water Management District, he heard some people who seemed to think that agriculture was “the enemy.”
Those people do not understand that ranchers and farmers provide food so that people can continue living. Also, in many avicultural ventures, he said, there are places for birds and other wildlife to live. Farms and ranches include areas for water storage and water recharge, he said.
“What comes behind us is what a friend of mine calls ‘The Last Crop,’” Quincey said. “And that’s usually houses. So, you kind of have to look about – what’s next.”
He encourages the County Commission members to remember that while the county is bound to grow in population, it is vital to try to maintain a good agricultural base in Levy County – as well as all over the state of Florida.
Providing a photo opportunity after the presentation Tuesday morning (March 7) are (from left) Levy County Extension Director Ed Jennings, County Commissioner Rock Meeks, Commissioner Tim Hodge, Commission Chairman Matt Brooks, Don Quincey Jr., Donna Sharp Quincey, Commission Vice Chair Desiree Mills and County Commissioner John Meeks.
Commissioner John Meeks said he was speaking with Levy County Extension Director Ed Jennings about the people who are inductees of the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame and it includes 100 percent of the best of the best.
Governors, senators, congressmen, scientists and former commissioners of agriculture and former presidents of universities are among the people in the Hall of Fame, Meeks said.
It is a very prestigious list, Meeks said.
To have a Levy County native and resident in that group, Meeks said, is a source of pride for him as a Levy Countian.
Meeks said he is thankful that Quincey helped Levy County obtain Jennings as the Extension director to replace Albert Fuller Sr. when Fuller retired after his lengthy service to the residents and visitors of Levy County. Nowadays, Fuller is volunteering to help the City of Williston with its planning and zoning.
To see the story about Jennings’ meeting with the County Commission in 2016, click HERE.
Quincey said his accomplishments are thanks to support from many people, including his wife Donna Sharp Quincey.
He said he reached this point in agricultural success “on the backs of many people.”
“Donna is my partner,” Quincey said. “She gets me up at three o’clock in the morning when the Sheriff’s Office calls and they think we’ve got a cow out. “She does anything she can do to help support our industry.”
He spoke about her many years of providing horse-riding lessons to countless children, who now have grown to know about riding horses and all that entails.
He continued by noting there have “been a ton of folks” who have helped him through the years to reach this point in the agricultural profession.
Clayton Carter, Quincey added, has been his “right hand for many years. And I think God that I have had a lot of folks who taught me a lot of things over the years.”
In regard to Levy County Extension Director Jennings, Quincey said he is glad that he wanted to come to Levy County.
Levy County Commissioner Mills expressed her appreciation as a fellow agriculturalist, and that she feels fortunate to have Quincey inducted into the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame.
She said Quincey’s accomplishments are amazing.
“And we thank you for your leadership,” Commissioner Mills said, “and your inspiration to the rest of us.”
Chairman Brooks mentioned there are 178 people in the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame. He considers it an honor, and it brings him a great sense of pride to have one of those people to be from Levy County.
“Just like Commissioner John Meeks was saying,” Brooks added, “it’s a list of the best of the best.”
CF Vintage Farm Campus hosts
Educational Field Day on April 1
Jeanette Mitchell, a part-time instructional aide in Business and Technology is seen with a horse on the farm.
Story and Photos Provided
By Lisa McGinnes | College of Central Florida
Manager of Marketing and Public Relations
Published March 6, 2023 at 10 a.m.
Updated March 6, 2023 at 11:45 a.m.
OCALA — The College of Central Florida invites everyone to the Vintage Farm Campus, 4020 S.E. Third Ave., Ocala, for an Educational Field Day on Saturday, April 1, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Tavis Douglass, Agribusiness program manager, is the instructor seen here in the greenhouse with people learning about agribusiness.
The 103-acre working farm is the home of CF’s hands-on Equine and Agribusiness programs and will be open for tours and demonstrations by students, faculty and alumni.
Equine topics will include clicker training, genetics of sport horses, writing judging arguments, therapeutic modalities, bandaging, round pen work, handling and horse care.
Agribusiness demonstrations will include ongoing horticulture work plus the integration of technology in agribusiness management.
CF offers the only hands-on agriculture-related learning programs in the Florida College System, with certificates, associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees available in Equine Studies and Agribusiness.
For more information about Educational Field Day, click HERE.
First Published Feb. 1, 2011 at 8 a.m.
On Feb. 1, 2011, HardisonInk.com came into existence on the Internet. On All Saints Day - 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. 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 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). The journalist who is the sole proprietor and owner of HardisonInk.com (Jeff M. Hardison) notes his appreciation for the use of those devotionals from that now-defunct publishing company, and for the many other contributors who have helped people over the past decade-plus now. Strength for Service to God and Country's daily devotionals include many from a time when the United States of America was a partner in a World War, both WWI and WWII. This journalist welcomes contributions of daily devotionals. Daily devotional authors are asked to please send only their original works to firstname.lastname@example.org. Americans are reminded that all religions, having no religion and or being a person who endorses anti-religion are all protected as part of the freedoms from government intervention, as are other benefits from being an American.
Friday, March 24, 2023 at 7 a.m.
THE STILL SMALL VOICE
Read 1 Kings 19:9-15; Psalm 46
And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
-- 1 Kings 19:12 (KJV)
In the British Navy, “The Still” is blown when there is a sudden disaster. It means, “Prepare to do the wise thing.” Observing this moment of calm has averted many catastrophes.
Long ago the psalmist wrote: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46). He was pointing out the secret of poise when we face an attack from the world about us. Only those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High find the shelter of the Almighty.
Worry and fear are twin enemies that attack us. The still, small Voice ever calls us to a love that will cast out worry and a faith that makes fear mere folly.
The fiery doubts of temptation come at the most unexpected moments. The apostle Paul describes the secret of defense as the life “hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).
Many voices clamor for our attention in these days of chaos and confusion, but to the wise no greater gifts for guidance need be given than the calm to tune in the still small Voice of the Eternal God.
O MOST LOVING FATHER, preserve us from faithless fears and earthly anxieties. We would cast all our care upon Thee, for Thou carest for us.
Dear Lord and Father of Mankind is a hymn with words taken from a longer poem, The Brewing of Soma by American Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier. The adaptation was made by Garrett Horder in his 1884 Congregational Hymns.
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives
Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.
In simple trust like theirs who heard
Beside the Syrian sea
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow Thee.
O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by love!
With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.
Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.
We ask this in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and only Savior. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Clarence Albert Kircher
Westminster 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)
Outdoor Truths Ministry
By Gary Miller © March 20, 2023 at 7:15 a.m.
There’s a lot of fishing going on right now. I’ve heard stories from those catching bass, crappie, walleye, stripe, and trout. It is the perfect time of the year for fishermen, no matter what species you’re after. Just like other seasons, this one will pass as quickly as it arrived. While you can catch most types of fish all year long, there are certain times that are just better. Now is one of those times. Soon the walleye will move back into the lake, the crappie will slow down, and the bass will find their lethargic summer pattern. Until then, the fishing will be fast and furious. For some non-fishermen, fast and furious seem like oxymorons to fishing. An onlooker sees a boat anchored to a pile of brush and two fishermen sitting intently, yet motionless, waiting for something to happen on the other end of the rod they’re holding. This looks hardly like fast and furious. Another bystander sees more fishermen slowly trolling along with baited lines following along behind. The last way he would describe this scene would be fast and furious. Someone has said, fishing is a jerk at one end, waiting on a jerk at the other. They are partially right. Fishing is all about waiting, but for some reason, our world equates waiting with inactivity. And some of us are still paying the price for this flawed definition. The truth is, waiting is active. This activity, however, is not physical but mental. It is not passive but aggressive. And it is both defensive and offensive. A person who waits not only must be alert to their time to move but they must also fight the temptation to move too quickly. This happens all the time in fishing. If you try setting the hook too soon, you miss. If you wait too long, you miss as well. One must wait for the right time.
In life the losses are greater than a missed fish. It can be a missed opportunity, or it can be one’s saving grace. Most of the time, we forge ahead when we should have waited, all because we thought waiting was inactivity. The Bible says, “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.” God knows all the circumstances surrounding our lives. He has never been in a hurry, and He will never fail to give us clear instructions if we will seek Him. But He will do it in his time. Until then, actively wait, looking to Him for further instructions. It may be that His intentions are not only to bless you but to keep you from getting in a mess that may take years for you to get out.
-- Gary Miller email@example.com
Gary Miller has written the Outdoor Truths articles for 20 years now. He also has written four books which include compilations of his articles and a father/son devotional. He speaks at wild-game dinners and men's events for churches and associations. Gary Miller's website is located at http://www.outdoortruths.org/.
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