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Inglis Mayor Drinda Merritt
and two town commissioners
take the oath of office

(from left) Mayor Drinda Merritt, and town commissioners Steve Kesterson, Pat Tully, Ann Morin and Betsy Webb. Tully and Webb are the new commissioners. There is still a vacant seat as a result of the death in December of Inglis Town Commissioner Sherry Ely.

Story, Photos and Video

By Jeff M. Hardison © April 2, 2015 @ 12:07 a.m.
     INGLIS – The mayor and two Town Commission members took thei oath of office in Inglis Wednesday night as Levy County Sheriff Robert “Bobby” McCallum Jr. swore them in.

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     Mayor Drinda Merritt, Town Councilwoman Betsy Webb and Town Councilwoman Pat Tully accepted their positions, and took their first actions as they organized the new leadership for the small municipality on the southern edge of Levy County.

Sheriff Bobby McCallum administers the oath of office to Mayor Drinda Merritt, and Town Commission members Betsy Webb and Pat Tully.

     A special election is scheduled for May 7 as the voters will replace Inglis Town Commissioner Sherry Ely, 68, who died on Dec. 11, 2014. The qualifying period for that election is from 8 a.m. on April 13 through 5 p.m. on April 17, Inglis Town Clerk Sally McCranie.
     Sally Price, who was edged out from re-election by Webb and Tully, said on Wednesday night that she is happy to have completed her term. Price indicated she does not intend to run for office again.

Outgoing Mayor Glenda Kirkland lets everyone know how much she appreciates her husband Greg who also put up with the phone ringing at all hours of the night. He watched as his wife became the target of ‘Inglis politics as usual.’ He was always there for her, she said, and she told him that she loves him.

     Outgoing Inglis Mayor Glenda Kirkland gave her final speech before the installation of the new leaders.
     She said it has been an honor and a privilege to have served as mayor for the past two years. Kirkland is proud of the accomplishments and is hopeful for the future.
     One action she initiated which shows promise of continuation is a friendly spirit of working together with the Town of Yankeetown as both areas work toward common goals. While the two towns remain uniquely different, they share some of the same needs and can work together to help each other attain more success than if they worked independently.

Mayor Drinda Merritt begins her term as Town Councilman Steve Kesterson continues his.

     Yankeetown Acting Mayor Debra Weiss was at the event, and she said she looks forward to continuing the cooperative relationship she started with Mayor Kirlkland as Mayor Merritt takes over the duties as the liaison between the Town of Inglis, other towns, the county and the state governments.
     Mayor Kirkland let everyone know that she is also thankful for her husband Greg’s support of her during the past two years.
     The now-former mayor said Wednesday night that she is pleased with the caliber of workers who serve the visitors and residents of Inglis as town staff. Town Clerk McCranie and Sherri MacDonald and Darlene Slattery; Public Works Supervisor Lance Trafford; Steve Warren, in his duties with animal control and code enforcement; and Fire Chief John MacDonald (who is also renowned for his excellent work at Levy County Emergency Management) were all noted for their efforts.

Inglis Town Commission members (from left) Pat Tully, Betsy Webb and Ann Morin

     Town Attorney Bradly Roger Bettin Sr. helped guide the new leaders through the first steps of organizing their Town Commission. He mentioned that the Commission may shift some duties to the person who is going to be elected to fill the unexpired term of the late Town Commissioner Ely.
     Outgoing Mayor Kirkland said she hopes the future shows less about personalities and more about policies as the new town leadership moves forward.
     “Thankfully,” Kirkland said, “you elected a new mayor and new town commissioners who are ready, willing and able to work for the betterment of our town.
     “My one regret,” she continued, “is how ugly our Town Commission meetings so often became in the last year of my term.
     As Mayor Merritt moves forward, Kirkland said she hopes the new mayor and commission will discuss policy, while divorcing the discussion from personality.
     “In closing,” Kirkland said, “I say ‘Thank you’ for your support, and may God bless each and every one of you in the years ahead.”
     The audience gave her a standing ovation.
     After the new leaders took their seats, the Town Council arranged itself for duties. With a very polite process that included unanimity, the following duties were assigned: Budget and Finance – Commissioner Steve Kesterson; Police and Fire – Commissioner Tully; Health, Welfare and Recreation – Webb; Water Operations – Commissioner Ann Morin; Planning – Commissioner Tully; and Code Enforcement – Commissioner Kesterson.
     In the structure of the Inglis Town Commission, the mayor does not have a vote. The commission voted to have Mayor Merritt serve as the chairman of the meetings, and Town Commissioner Webb will chair the meetings in the absence of the mayor.
     With the mayor not having a vote and with one seat remaining empty, all of the decisions voted upon Wednesday night were by 4-0 votes.

Prepared For Wednesday Launch
Capt. Kenneth 'Kenny' McCain sits behind the wheel of the University of Florida boat named 'Discovery' on Tuesday afternoon as it was next to one of the docks of Cedar key. The captain is scheduled to take a group of home school students on a scientific exploration of the Gulf of Mexico as they collect specimens. The group will go to Seahorse Key, where U.F. scientists will help the students learn about the different organisms they collected. Although the key is mostly protected from human intrusion due to nesting birds there at this time of year, there is a 3-acre area where the students can visit. They will also see the historic lighthouse and learn some about the history of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Capt. McCain born and raised in Cedar Key. He worked with the Florida Forest Service (1981-1990) before accepting a job with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He retired in 2014, after 24 years of service. The good captain served as instructor for Motorboat Operations Certification courses including airboats with the USFWS. He has been a licensed boat captain since 2005. Capt. McCain has an extensive background in building construction and maintenance, repair and major overhaul of vehicles, boats and heavy equipment. He serves as a lieutenant on the Cedar Key Voluntary Fire and Rescue Department. On Seahorse Key, the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience is under the leadership of Dr. Mark Martindale, who has been the director since 2013. Dr. Martindale is a professor of biology at the University of Florida. Also on the island are Dr. Coleman Sheehy III, associate director; Dr. Maria Sgambati, education and outreach coordinator; Jessica Long, development director; and others. Students from public schools, private school and home schools find opportunities to utilize the University of Florida's help in teaching chidlren in fifth through twelfth grades. To learn more about the programs on Seahorse Key, please click HERE.
Photo by Jeff M. Hardison

Cedar Key Art Fest
winners are announced

Best Of Show - Joseph Fry of Clanton, Ala., stands with his sculpture and his blue ribbon.

Published March 30, 2015 @ 7:27 a.m.
Photos by Bill Kilborn
     CEDAR KEY --
Now named the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts, Cedar Key's its 51st Annual Spring Arts Festival wrapped up Sunday (March 29) with winners being named.
   The event was coordinated by the Cedar Key Arts Center. It provided an experience that was unique for both the artists and the visitors.
     The two-day event included non-profit organizations preparing and serving local seafood and homemade goodies, as well as root beer floats and smoothies. There was live music in the park at the Gazebo both days from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.


     Children's activities in the park included the Cedar Key Arts Center's Children's Art booth, face painting and an opportunity to have a picture taken with a "real" mermaid.
     The complete list of winning artists follows:
Best Of Show - Joseph Fry of Clanton, Ala. - Sculpture
Painting - Steve Andrews of Tallahassee - Best 2D
Sculpture - Leland Williams of Crescent City - Best 3D
Award of Excellence, Printmaking - Cynthia Pagel
Award of Creativity, Jewelry - Herb Brown
Awards of Distinction -- Virginia Chen, painting; Maryann Jefferson, fiber; Maggie Joynt, jewelry; Alve Krietemeyer, sculpture; Curtis Krueger, photography; Donna Leeward, painting; Tony Moore, drawing; Richard Morris, wood; Kathryn Page, fiber; David Mack, ceramic; Glenn Purdy, mixed medium; and Mark Van de Bogart, jewelry. is
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Fifty-Sixth Jingle Singers

The newest performers of the jingle are three singers who competed March 19 in the Bronson Middle High School’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes singing contest. They are (from left) Nicole Dubois, 17, Victoria Torpey, 17, and Fantasia Brannan, 15. They performed the jingle on March 19, 2015. Everyone is invited to sing the jingle. 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 to sing it. (Thanks people!) The next jingle performer has not been recorded yet.
Published March 21, 2015 @ 8:07 a.m.
-- Video by Jeff M. Hardison

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THU.  APRIL 2  12:07 a.m.
Levy, Dixie, Gilchrist counties

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