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First Blood Moon of 2014
is seen over Levy County

CFR wants ALS non-transport;
meeting set for April 22

CFR Deputy Fire Chief Gene Stockman (left) and Assistant Chief A.D. Goodman confer before the start of a recent exercise related to fire suppression at industrial sites.

Story and Photo

By Jeff M. Hardison © April 15, 2014

     CHIEFLAND -- The Chiefland Fire Rescue Department (CFR) wants the opportunity to save more lives, and it is depending on the people of Levy County to demand that the county quit resisting the city in its attempt to let that come to be.

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     A Chiefland City Commission Workshop is scheduled for Tuesday (April 22) starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Tommy Usher Community Center, 506 S.W. Fourth Ave., Chiefland.
     During this workshop, CFR plans to demonstrate how it can increase the odds of survival for individuals who suffer from heart disease, diabetes, seizures, asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, strokes, or who are the victims of a vehicular accidents or some other types of incidents. What the CFR is asking Levy County and its Department of Public Safety to be allowed to do is called Advanced Life Support (ALS), non-transport.
     The fire-rescue department is seeking to be allowed to treat patients, not to transport them to a hospital.
     Currently, the county does not allow CFR to administer anything beyond Basic Life Support. As first responders who are often at a scene of a medical emergency several minutes before an ambulance arrives, paramedics with CFR currently are disallowed from using all of the skills for which they trained to preserve lives.
     The paramedics would like the ability to provide the highest level of care they can provide. A tri-fold, full color brochure, paid for with private funding (not tax dollars) helps explain why CFR is requesting ALS non-transport status. That brochure notes verbatim:
     * To have the sick or injured person ready for transport when the ambulance arrives, reducing the time it takes the person reach definitive care (emergency room care).
     * Because CFR will not be transporting patients, we should always be in the area for immediate dispatch to calls.
     * Several years ago, two ambulances were stationed in the Chiefland area. Due to cuts, only one is stationed here now.
     * According to the Department of Public Safety Director, Chiefland and the surrounding area has the highest demand for emergency services and produces the highest number of calls in Levy County.
     * The Department of Public Safety Director reports that, 33 times in the last quarter of 2013, there were no ambulances available to answer calls in Levy County.
     * Documented dispatch times show that several times each month residents wait extended period of time for ambulances to arrive.
     * It is common practice all over the United States for fire department to operate as ALS non-transport.
     * All medical care professional agree that the more ALS providers that are available and the quicker the patient receives Advanced Life Support Care, increases a person’s chance for survival.
     * Those receiving ALS services from Chiefland Fire Resuce will not be billed for these services.

Putnam Lodge comes to life

Story, Photos and Video

By Jeff M. Hardison © April 13, 2014
     CROSS CITY -- Cotton, tobacco, oranges, tomatoes, watermelon and other crops have all been "king" at various points in Florida history, and big trees for lumber also have held a place in the state's economic engines.
Put041214G     The timber business and a sawmill in Dixie County led to the construction of what is now an historic landmark – which is active as of recently.

Eddie and Bev Pivacek, owners

     The historic Putnam Lodge, located at 15487 N.W. U.S. Highway 19 in Cross City, had its first section built in 1927 and Marc L. Fleishel is credited with being among the general contractors of the structure in that era of construction. On Saturday, the new owners of the Putnam Lodge, Edward A. "Eddie" and Beverly H. "Bev" Pivacek, hosted a rather astounding open house of the historic and now very functional hotel and restaurant.
     Eddie is president of Islander Construction Services of Hudson, according to records at the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations. This general contractor, his wife and others have restored the grand old structure, making it among the excellent places to sleep and eat while in the Dixie County area. The dining room includes a full bar too.
     Eddie did most of the restoration at the lodge, which now includes a ramp for wheelchair access to the bottom floor.
     Located just after the most northern traffic light on U.S. 19 in Cross City, the big white structure is behind a large wrought iron fence with a drive-through driveway, and there is ample parking on grass among the 18 acres of property.
Rocking chairs await guests on the front porch of the Putnam Lodge in Cross City.

     There were 19 rooms available as of Saturday, Bev said, and there will be 25 rooms for rent all-told. One room was already rented as she gave tours, and another guest tracked her down to rent a room for that night. The prices range from $80 to $150 a night.
     There is a special room for brides and grooms – the honeymoon suite. Each room is unique, although she refers to some as kings’ rooms, queens’ rooms and suites. There is one room with a wrought iron bedframe that has angels at the foot of the bed. Another room has a leopard theme about it.
     Bev said there already have been two weddings at the lodge, another one is scheduled, and there can be as many as 250 guests on the 3,000 to 4,000 square-foot outdoor deck.
Put041214F     Each room has its own bathroom. The entire lodge is air-conditioned, although when it was first built there were screen doors to allow the air to flow through the long straight hallways. The rugs that are seen at various points on the natural wooden floors are original to the hotel, she said.

Jonathan Martin offers samples of food for guests to enjoy during the open house.

     There is Wi-Fi and television in each room as well.
     The hotel managers do everything they can to accommodate the needs of guests. For people who are arriving at Cross City Airport, there is a shuttle service to take them to and from the Putnam Lodge. Bev said that she and Eddie are speaking with fishing guides to consider how they may join forces to help visitors enjoy this aspect of the Dixie County area too.
     Among the regular events already happening at the Putnam Lodge are Sunday champagne brunches. This event, which is slated for each Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., includes live music on the deck. The performers on Saturday were members of the East Coast Band -- Al and Patty Howland, and "Micky D." This band plays classic country music, and they opened with the musical "Buckaroo" by Buck Owens.
     For people who want to enjoy the Sunday champagne brunches, Bev highly recommends making a reservation by calling 352-440-0414.
     Another event that is happening on occasion is the celebration of the completion of a book. Dixie County Clerk Dana Johnson was among the many people wandering through the Putnam Lodge on Saturday. She is a member of The Book Club that meets on the veranda and enjoys a luncheon while they discuss the book the club most recently finished reading.
The veranda offers an attractive setting for dining.

    Sometimes, The Book Club also has a guest author speak, Johnson said.
     The past of the Putnam Lodge reportedly even included Al Capone staying as a guest, and even him having a back way to escape as the law enforcement officers came to capture him.
This view captures part of the dining room on Saturday. The bar is behind and to the right from this perspective.

     Another interesting attraction for some people may be that Room 11 is “a haunted room.” Some people want to rent that room for the potential of seeing a ghost, although other guests may want to stay in that room to assure their friends and loved ones that they did not experience any metaphysical visions.
Put041214I     While these are romantic and enticing tales of bygone days in a way, Bev said the future holds bright hope for several more modern events.
     The guiding principle for the business, she said, is that from the moment a guest arrives until the time when he or she leaves, “We want you to be here. We want you to enjoy yourself. It’s all about the hospitality.”

Executive Chef Jeno Koch stands in the kitchen of the Putnam Lodge. Samples of some of his work were shared with visitors at the open house, and the food was very tasty and well-presented.

     The open house on Saturday is the culmination of a long process that began with negotiating a price for the property. Bev said she is thankful to God for letting this come to be, and it was through the efforts of Diana Downing Realty that it reached fruition.
     “Diana made it happen,” Bev said. “If it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t be here today.”
     After entering the lobby of the lodge, there is a room to the right side that Bev calls “the spillway.” There are a couple of couches and chairs, a television, and books. The books are from the library at Horseshoe Beach, she said.
     “Everybody has been helping us make this lodge a success,” she said, as she noted her appreciation for all of the help from people throughout Dixie County, as well as from her family and close friends.
Audra Markham (left) and Rachel Wilson stand ready to serve guests on Saturday.

     There are some Bibles in the room. They appear to be family Bibles and they came with the structure, she said. If there are family members who want to claim them, she does not have any qualms about that; or they may remain in the room for use by guests. If a family member wants to retrieve a Bible, they need to contact Bev.
     A very attractive and open conference room provides a perfect setting for an executive luncheon on the second floor of the structure. On Saturday, tables were set with 10 chairs around them in the center of the room under a chandelier. Meals can be served there, and staff will accommodate whatever the guest wants to arrange in that regard.

Part of the giant outdoor deck is seen here Saturday at the East Coast Band sets up equipment.

In this still photo, and in this video, the East Coast Band (Al and Patty Howland of Old Town on the left and right) play as 'Micky D.' joins them in performing Buckaroo by Buck Owens.

     Bev said the couple’s son has a thriving paintball business in Tampa, and this is an activity that may be happening on the grounds at the Putnam Lodge.
     Like all of the future events, there is not a firm timeline on the start of this activity yet.
     As the couple continued their work, which included Bev’s sister-in-law Denise Hamilton joining Bev in scraping floors, painting and performing whatever else needed to be done, Eddie and Bev Pivacek had occasion to meet different people at just the right times.
     Chef Jeno Koch, formerly the chief cook at Stabbert Maritime/Ocean Services; formerly the provision master at Norwegian Cruise Line; and formerly the executive sous chef at Norwegian Cruise Line, is now the executive chef at the Putnam Lodge.
     Bev said Koch had become tired of traveling on the seas and wanted to remain in one place. The Pivaceks had looked from Gainesville to Tampa and beyond for just the right person. And it was thanks to God that they were able to persuade Koch to be the chef at the lodge, Bev said.
     In time, Bev sees the chef conducting cuisine-oriented educational events at the lodge. Jolene Dixon, the manager of food and beverage at the lodge now, came into the picture at just the right time too. And she concurs with Bev about when people meet each other.
     “I believe people’s paths cross for a reason,” Dixon said. “The day I came in here, it was a good thing.”
     Dixon mentioned that she is familiar with hydroponic gardens and this may fit into a future food-oriented get-together for people interested in this form of growing plants.
     Built in 1927, Dixie County's Putnam Lodge is a reminder of an era during which the Putnam Lumber Co. annually produced tidewater red cypress and longleaf yellow pine at its mill in Shamrock.
     A monument was erected near the front of the lodge and it was dedicated during a ceremony held on Dec. 8, 2004.
     The text of the marker states “Putnam Lodge, built in 1927-28 by the Putnam Lumber Company, is part of a bygone era in Florida's forestry history. Here, beside the old Dixie Highway, Putnam Lodge, part of the "company town" of Shamrock, accommodated tourists, transients and company executives and clients. The lobby and the dining room of the 36-room lodge were decorated exclusively with the still preserved, artfully stenciled "pecky cypress," a now virtually extinct lumber product. In its day, the Putnam Lumber Company, founded by William O'Brien, a timber magnate of Irish descent, and associates including E.B. Putnam, employed hundreds at its two state-of-the-art sawmills in Shamrock. The mills annually produced and shipped worldwide millions of feet of "deep swamp tidewater cypress" and "dense Florida longleaf yellow pine" lumber, products that are now rare because the old growth trees are gone. Shamrock provided its residents and employees with comfortable homes, a commissary, a store comparable to "any city department store," two schools, two hotels, the Shamrock Dairy Farm, and an ice plant producing 18 tons of ice daily. The lodge is representative of a time of local timber supremacy and economic prosperity.”
     The open house on Saturday was very well attended. Eddie and Bev Pivacek want their guests to enjoy every minute of their visits to this part of Florida. For more information about the Putnam Lodge, to book a room, or to make a reservation for the Sunday champagne brunch, call 352-440-0414.

Jingle Singer
The newest performer of the jingle is Glorianna Cherry. With our new video program connected with YouTube, the videos are going to be bigger. Everyone is invited to sing the jingle. You can be featured here. If you see Jeff Hardison and you want to sing the jingle, just let him know or send an email to He asks people to sing it, too, and some of them agree. (Thanks people!) This video was posted April 3, 2014.

-- Video by Jeff M. Hardison


Your weather just got better.

TUE. APR. 15  9:07 a
Levy, Dixie, Gilchrist counties




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