Hospital CON
extension allegedly sought

By Jeff M. Hardison © June 28, 2016 @ 4:37 p.m.
Chiefland City Commission members on Monday night (June 27) heard the latest update on a hospital that has been proposed by at least a couple of different developers over the past decade-plus.

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     Just two weeks earlier, though, they heard from the owner of an existing hospital in Levy County about the potential for Chiefland to actually obtain a new urgent care center that might evolve into a hospital.
     On Tuesday afternoon (June 28), Frank Schupp said he sent the June 27 email to Chiefland City Manager Mary Ellzey because he had been asked for an update by the City Commission.
     According to Schupp’s email on Monday afternoon, sent about four hours before the start of the City Commission meeting, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration denied a request for an extension of the developer’s Certificate Of Need (CON).
     That denial, Schupp said, does not mean the CON is terminated.
     Also on Tuesday afternoon (June 28), Schupp told that he is not a spokesman for the developers of the hospital – Nueterra and CBC Real Estate Development. He was just giving an update that had been requested.
     Schupp told the City Commission that he foresees the AHCA making a decision about whether to grant the request for reconsideration of its rejection of the CON extension within the next 30 days.
     To see the previously published story about an urgent care center potentially being built in Chiefland soon, please go to

Haven Hospice
names new president

Published June 28, 2016 @ 1:27 p.m.
on the Home Page of
Haven Hospice, and Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice of the Florida Keys (VNA/HFK) recently announced the appointment of Gayle Mattson as president.

Mattson will have overall responsibility for the development and execution of the strategic, operational and clinical programs and services provided to the patients and families served by Haven Hospice and VNA/HFK.

Gayle Mattson

     “Gayle is a seasoned healthcare executive who brings a wealth of innovative hospice, palliative and home healthcare experience to this important leadership role,” said Mike Gallagher, president and CEO of SantaFe HealthCare. “She has proven competencies in end-of-life program innovations, talent development, and in engaging internal and external stakeholders, which will be incredible assets as she leads the future development and expansion of hospice, palliative and home health initiatives in our 19-county service area.”
     Mattson brings to Haven Hospice 30 years of accomplishments in clinical and health care operations including hospital, home care, hospice and palliative care experience. She was first inspired to pursue a career in healthcare when she volunteered in a local hospital in her hometown of Rochester, Minn.
     To this day, she still retains her nursing license.
     “It’s been critically important over the years to have hands-on clinical experience to better understand our patients’ needs and connect with our staff serving our patients,” said Mattson.
     Mattson is looking forward to continuing to grow her passion for providing high quality hospice, palliative and home health care to patients and families. “Haven, VNA/HFK and SantaFe HealthCare’s team members have such a high commitment to service, and they are talented and smart. I am going to enjoy learning from and engaging with them,” said Mattson.
     Mattson began her career as a registered nurse at Allina Health – Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. From 1983 to 2011, Mattson garnered experience and grew her career inside of Allina Heath in various hospital and clinical settings from manager of inpatient services, vice president of patient care services to interim president and then president. She also served as chief operating officer for Lifesprk (Age Well) Homecare and president of a Level 1 Trauma Center in Minnesota. Most recently, Mattson was serving as the chief operating officer of Pathways Home Health, Hospice and Private Duty in Sunnyvale, Calif.
     Throughout her career, Mattson has seen the need for quality, end-of-life care.
     “Hospice and palliative care have been at the core of my career life and it is truly what I love,” Mattson said. “Hospice is so valuable and building comprehensive care has always been my mission.
      Mattson first started working in the hospice field when she was with Allina Health--Home & Community Services.
     “I went out into the field, shadowed hospice nurses and saw the phenomenal work they were doing at this heartfelt level.”
Mattson earned a bachelor of science in nursing at St. Olaf College and is currently enrolled in the Executive Masters in Healthcare Administration Program at the University of Minnesota. She will graduate at the end of this year with her MHA. Mattson was awarded the 2014 Minnesota Women in Health Care Leadership Award.
     Haven Hospice and VNA/HFK are not-for-profit,mission-focused, community health care organizations providing comprehensive hospice, palliative and home health services to the following 19 counties: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Monroe, Nassau, Putnam, Suwannee, St. Johns, Union and Volusia. Since 1980, Haven and VNA/HFK have had the honor and privilege to serve more than 80,000 patients and families across Florida. Haven and VNA/HFK are affiliates of SantaFe HealthCare, a not-for-profit organization serving Floridians at all stage of life through AvMed Health Plans, SantaFe Senior Living, Haven Hospice and VNA/HFK.

Candidates qualify in
Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties

By Jeff M. Hardison © June 24, 2016 @ 6:27 p.m.
Updated June 25, 2016 @ 8:17 a.m.
County constitutional officers in Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties qualified as of noon on Friday (June 24), and the county with the most candidates running is Dixie County.

     Not only that, but there is on very peculiar situation in the race for Dixie County Sheriff.
     In Dixie County, Sheriff Dewey H. Hatcher, Sr. is seeking reelection. He is a No Party Affiliate (NPA) and therefore his race will be decided in the General Election on Nov. 8.
     Sheriff Hatcher is facing Christopher Paul Cambron (NPA), who is not a law enforcement officer.
     Cambron is currently awaiting trial on charges of principal in the purchase of a controlled substance and possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana, according to records. His wife Brenda Cambron was arrested on April 4, too, for the purchase of a controlled substance and possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana, according to records. Bond was set at $30,000 for each of the Cambrons.
     Trials for these defendants have not started, according to records.
     While the race for Dixie County Sheriff is rather strange, a number of other incumbents are not so controversial, because they are the only ones who qualified for their posts.
     In Dixie County, the following people are going to be reelected because they qualified: Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Dana D. Johnson (NPA); Property Appraiser Robert A. Lee (NPA); Tax Collector Michelle Fowler Cannon (NPA); Supervisor of Elections Starlet Cannon (Republican {Rep.}); and School Board Member - District 4 Timothy Wayne Alexander ((non-partisan race {NOP}).
     There is no incumbent running for Dixie County Superintendent of Schools.
     The candidates for Dixie County Superintendent of Schools are Jimmie L Green Jr. (NPA); Cheryl C. Pridgeon (NPA); and Mike Thomas (NPA);
     County Commissioner - District 1 Wade E. “Gene” Higginbotham (NPA) is seeking reelection and he is facing Micah Jon Davis (NPA).
     County Commissioner - District 3 Jody is seeking reelection and he is facing Mark Hatch (NPA)
There is no incumbent running for reelection to Dixie County Commissioner - District 5. Following are the candidates for that seat Benita Corbin (Rep.); David D. Osteen (NPA); Brandon Arren Ross (NPA); and James T. Valentine (NPA).
     In the Dixie County School Board Race – District 1, there is no incumbent running. The three qualified candidates will be on the Aug. 30 primary ballot. If one candidate earns 50 percent of the vote, plus one, then he or she will be the Dixie County School Board Member - District 1.
     If that does not happen, then the top two vote-getters in this race will face each other in the Nov. 8 general election.
     Following are the three qualified candidates running for Dixie County School Board Member - District 1 (They are all non-partisan {NOP}): Patrick Bell; Crystal M. Bush; Amanda Malone Medlin;
     In Gilchrist County, the following constitutional officers were reelected because no one qualified to run against them: Sheriff Robert D. “Bobby” Schultz III (Rep.); Clerk of Circuit Court Todd Newton (Rep.); Property Appraiser Damon C. Leggett (Rep.); Supervisor of Elections Connie D. Sanchez (Rep.); Superintendent of Schools Robert G. Rankin (Rep.); County Commissioner - District 1 Sharon Akins Langford (Rep.); and County Commissioner - District 5 Kenrick D. Thomas (Rep.).
     Incumbent Gilchrist County Commissioner - District 3 Gray Todd (Rep.) is facing candidate Richard Frank Esseck (NPA) in the election on Nov. 8.
     Incumbent Gilchrist County Tax Collector Barbara J. Merritt (Dem.) will face candidate Donna Stacy (Rep.) in the election on Nov. 8.
     There is no incumbent Gilchrist County School Board Member – District 2 who is seeking reelection. That non-partisan race shows Susan P. Owens versus Don Thomas.
     Gilchrist County School Board Member – District 4 Julie C. Thomas is facing candidate Gina Louise Geiger in that non-partisan race.
     Levy County had the least contenders for office, because almost all of the incumbents faced no opposition.
     The incumbent constitutional officers that were reelected are Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Danny Shipp (Rep.); Property Appraiser Osborn “Oz” Barker (Rep.); Sheriff Robert “Bobby” McCallum Jr. (Rep); Tax Collector Linda Fugate (Rep.); Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones (Rep.); and School Board members District 2 - Chris Cowart; District 3 - Brad Etheridge; and District 4 - Paige Brookins.
          Sheriff McCallum provided a statement about his uncontested reelection.
     "I want to take this opportunity to thank the Citizens of Levy County for the tremendous show of confidence that they have extended to me as their Sheriff. I am honored to have served as your Sheriff the last three and a half years and look forward to serving the next term.
     "I want to specifically thank my God, my family, my supporters and the more than 150 dedicated men and women who serve as employees and volunteers at the Levy County Sheriff’s Office. The sworn and non-sworn members of LCSO are the ones who do the hard work to provide protection and service to the Citizens. They provide it 24 hours per day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. I am grateful for their dedication and service which is reflected in my re-election as Sheriff without opposition.
     "With the closing of the qualification period at noon today, another chapter has been written in the history of Levy County. According to those who are supposed to know, this is the first uncontested re-election of a Levy County Sheriff in modern history. I am both honored and humbled to be re-elected in that manner.
     "In closing, I pledge to continue to work to provide the best Law Enforcement, Detention, Communications, Civil and Court Services and 911 Mapping Services possible to all of the citizens of Levy County. As your Sheriff, my door will continue to be open to provide assistance and service to our citizens in any way possible."
     There is no incumbent Levy County Superintendent of Schools seeking reelection.
     The two candidates for that post are Jeffery “Jeff” Edison (Rep.) and Jerry Lawrence (Rep.).
     Incumbent Levy County Commissioner - District 1 John Meeks (Rep.) is facing candidate Berlon Weeks (Rep.) for that post.
     Incumbent Levy County Commissioner - District 3 Mike Joyner (Rep.) is facing candidate Chetley Breeden (Rep.) for that post.
     Incumbent Levy County Commissioner – District 5 Danny Stevens (Rep.) is facing candidate Matt Brooks (Rep.) for that post.
     It is important to note that all three Levy County Commission races will be decided by all Levy County voters on Aug. 30 because all of the candidates are Republicans. So Democrats and any other voter will help decide those three winners on Aug. 30.
     If someone waits until Nov. 8 to vote for a Levy County Commission candidate, that voter will be disappointed.

Library program shows
successful launch in Williston

Published on the Home Page of
on June 23, 2016 @ 3:57 p.m.
Information and Photos
By Jenny Rodgers,
Youth Services Coordinator – Levy County Public Libraries
The Levy County Public Library System kicked off its summer reading program Monday (June 20) at the Williston Public Library.

      This year the reading program's overall theme is "On your mark, Get set - Read!"
     On Monday, more than 40 kids, library staff and Levy County Commissioner Danny Stevens enjoyed "On your Mark, Get set Bend Acrobats!" at the Williston library.
     Students from S-Connection Circus School of Gainesville gave the kids in attendance a glimpse of a circus show. The acrobats did a floor routine and a hula-hoop demonstration, and there was even a stilt-walker who juggled. The kids clapped and were amazed at the show. Many of the children said that they had never been to or seen a circus show.
     A special thanks to the Williston Police Department for stopping traffic for the active part of the program. The acrobats laid out a 30-foot inflatable tumble track for the kids to jump and do flips down. This time the children demonstrated their acrobatic skills to the acrobats. They were very impressive, showing off many flips and cart wheels.
     Then the kids went back in the library to enjoy a bowl of popcorn. The healthy snacks are provided by UF/IFAS Extension's Family Nutrition Program. Each child received a hula-hoop as their take-home goody from the library. They were able to sign up for library cards, and they started checking out books and videos right away.
     The summer library program lasts for six weeks, with each library branch (Bronson, Cedar Key, Chiefland, Williston and Yankeetown) having a different program each week. Every program includes a demonstration or presentation, an activity, a healthy snack, and a take-home goody bag.
     For more information, please contact Youth Services Coordinator Jenny Rodgers at 352-486-5552 or call your local library. To see an ad for the summer program in the Levy County public libraries please go the CALENDAR PAGE or click on this link




Extension director selection
delayed after cattlemen complain

Representing the cattlemen of Levy County and other commercial livestock ranchers on Tuesday morning (July 32), Brad Etheridge (left) says this aspect of agriculture has been underserved by UF/IFAS Extension for decades in Levy County. Presenting the salient points for how the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences' Extension made a selection for a person to be interviewed for consideration as the next Levy County Extension director and 4-H agent is UF/IFAS Extension District Director Dr. Eric H. Simonne.

Photos and Story
By Jeff M. Hardison © June 21, 2016 @ 10:57 p.m.
     BRONSON –
Growth in the livestock aspect of agriculture in Levy County, and the retirement of Albert Fuller from his post as the director of Levy County Extension and as the 4-H agent, fanned the flames of change Monday morning (June 21) in Levy County.

     Fuller was county extension director and 4-H agent for 38-plus years.
     The Levy County Board of County Commissioners in cooperation with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension (UF/IFAS Extension) had advertised for a director of Levy County Extension and 4-H agent to replace Fuller.
     In the six months since Fuller left, five candidates applied. UF/IFAS Extension found one of those five was qualified. That six months of advertising, screening, interviewing and research was all for naught, though, because one man showed up to complain to the County Commission that livestock interests have been underserved for about four decades now.
     Despite a valiant effort by Dr. Eric H. Simonne, a professor and district extension director of UF/IFAS Extension, for the commissioners to at least interview the sole qualified candidate – that interview that had been scheduled for Thursday (June 23) was nixed.
     The interview was killed just two days before it was to happen.
     Now the County Commission will advertise through UF/IFAS Extension for a county extension director who has a focus on livestock. Dr. Simmone estimated this next round of screening will take at least four or five more months.
     In the meantime, the Levy County Extension office is without a full-time director, although an interim director has been serving one day a week for six months.

Levy County Commissioner Mike Joyner said he is a cattle owner, and he sees the need for a stronger level of service from UF/IFAS Extension to livestock ranchers in Levy County.

     The 4-H year begins in August, and Dr. Simonne said he had hoped to start the year off with a new 4-H agent and extension director in Levy County.
     Citrus County Extension Director B.J. Jarvis has been coming to Bronson one day a week for the past six months to serve as the Levy County Extension interim director.
     As for the 4-H agent aspect of Fuller’s job, Brian Estevez, an extension agent who has served as the 4-H/Youth Development Agent for UF/IFAS Suwannee County Extension since 2008, has dedicated one day a week as the 4-H agent in Levy County.
     However, Levy County Extension lost a separate agent recently.
     Another person who retired from Levy County UF/IFAS Extension is Muriel Turner, who was an extension agent that specialized in Family and Consumer Sciences.
     The Levy County Extension office had another employee leave recently.
     Former Levy County Extension Office Manager Lacy Harris, a former Levy County employee, was arrested a few months ago for fraudulent use of the county’s credit card. She is out on bond and is awaiting trial.
     Cattlemen of Levy County, represented by Brad Etheridge, sought more service from Levy County Extension than they have seen.
     Etheridge said that his request for a director based in livestock rather than in 4-H will actually benefit 4-H, because the director will not be torn between the daily operations of the office and all that he or she must do to be the 4-H agent.
      Anthony Drew, a renowned Levy County Agriculture Extension agent who specializes in row crops, does not have livestock as his area of expertise. Besides, Drew plans to leave UF/IFAS Extension in three or four years, County Coordinator Freddie Moody said.
     Brenda Heberling is the 4-H program assistant, employed by Levy County. Heberling would assist the next 4-H agent.
     Barbara Edmonds, a Levy County employee, is the program assistant for homeowner horticulture. She helps Drew. She is the coordinator of volunteer Master Gardeners in Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties.
     Here is how the meeting went Tuesday.
     Etheridge apologized for coming in literally at the last possible minute for change away from the direction the county and UF/IFAS Extension had been going for six months.
     He said the livestock industry – cattle, swine, goats, sheep, chickens and horses – are underserved by UF/IFAS Extension in Levy County. He wants the next Levy County Extension director to be more of a liaison between UF/IFAS and the livestock producers of the county.
     Etheridge said the idea of the director being involved with livestock rather than 4-H relates to the salary difference between a director and an extension agent. By having the higher paid person in livestock, Etheridge indicated this would reflect a stronger impact on quality of the employee.
     Etheridge recommends hiring a separate 4-H director, who focuses only on 4-H.
     Commission Chairman John Meeks said agriculture is among the few industries in the county. Meeks said there has been an increase in cattle ranches in the past 25 years in Levy County.
     “We only had one qualified candidate for this extension position,” Meeks said. “And to me, that’s not a very deep pool to select from.”
     Chairman Meeks said he sees it as advantageous to the Levy County youth to have a person only involved with 4-H and not being the extension director.
     County Coordinator Moody said the five applicants were reduced to one person who was qualified. Moody said the payment for all extension services is 60 percent from UF/IFAS and 40 percent from the County Commission’s budget.
     Dr. Simonne said the person to fill this UF faculty position is not chosen out of thin air. There are expectations from the university which must be met by a candidate to be qualified, he said.
     “Is this person going to be successful from an academic standpoint?” he said the university reviewers first consider as they screen applicants.
     The campus interviews included involvement of Interim Levy County Extension Director Jarvis and Interim Levy County 4-H Agent Estevez, Simonne said.
     Simonne reminded listeners that the extension office is a joint venture of UF/IFAS and the Levy County Board of County Commissioners. This is a grassroots organization with a first purpose of serving the local needs.
     The issue that was brought to be on the table of a need for a livestock agent is welcomed, Dr. Simonne said.
     The university has determined that one person can do the job of extension director and 4-H agent, Simonne said. UF/IFAS Extension can discuss with the County Commission and livestock representatives how to add a livestock agent to the mix, he said.
     Chairman Meeks countered that statement by saying through advertising for a person as director with a focus on livestock, Levy County can take care of this need now rather than waiting for change farther down the road of time.
     County Commissioner Mike Joyner started the motion toward not interviewing the one candidate and re-advertising with livestock being the focus rather than 4-H.
      Simonne said the County Commission should interview the person on Thursday, but the commission chose against listening to his recommendation.
     Simonne said the county can choose to add a livestock agent, as well as replace the extension director and the 4-H agent.
     In the end, a motion by County Commissioner Danny Stevens to re-advertise for an extension director with a focus on livestock was seconded and passed unanimously.

Blue Springs opens again

This is a view of the springs in late April. The water is seen here coming up through the sand on the bottom of the spring.
Video by Jeff M. Hardison, all rights reserved

Published June 20, 2016 @ 11:17 a.m.
on the Home Page of
Blue Springs Park in Levy County, 4550 N.E. 94th Terrace (Levy County Road 339-A), near Bronson., was closed recently due to too much water flow making the water unsafe for swimming.

     However, the springs are open now! This is an excellent place for people to swim for the lowest price in the area.
     The normal hours are 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., seven days a week
     There are tubes for rent and there is a volleyball net available for use too.
     The cost for almost anyone to enter is $2. There is a 50 percent discount for people 65 years and older, or for people who are 100 percent disabled. There is a 50 percent discount for active military or retired military.
     Children 5 years and younger are admitted for free.
     A family season pass costs $35 and will allow up to six people to enter this park -- and Henry Beck Park -- for the entire time those parks are open during the season.
     An individual season pass costs $20 and provides the same option to visit Blue Springs or Henry Beck Park for one individual rather than a family.



Seventy-Fifth Jingle Singer;
Two More Lined Up

The newest singer to perform the jingle is Matt Brooks, a member of the Williston High School Class of 1996 (and a University of North Florida grad) and co-owner of B4 Signs & Advertising. Here he sings the jingle in Williston on May 24, 2016. Each performer or set of performers brings their own special something to 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 most of them agree to sing it. (Thanks people!) There are two more videotapes completed and scheduled for playing. They will go in this order – Chase Fowler and Steve Bloom.

Published June 27, 2016 @ 11:17 a.m.
Video by Jeff M. Hardison © 2016 All Rights Reserved

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Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties

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