Winners proclaimed
in chili contest

Gilchrist County Commissioner D. Ray Harrison and Anita Moore stand near the first chili in the line. Coincidentally, the Number One crock pot contained 'Just Chili' the winner of one of two categories.

Story and Photos

By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 27, 2015 @ 10:27 p.m.
     GILCHRIST COUNTY -- Three judges ruled on 25 forms of chili on Friday (Feb. 27) and two winners were proclaimed in the Gilchrist County Sheriff's 6th Annual Chili Cook-Off and Luncheon.

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Chili022715B     Held this year at the Gilchrist Woman's Club, the contest has its roots in the conference room of the GCSO. The event grew over the years and the clubhouse provided an even better venue.
     Rebecca Woodin with “Just Chili” won the Best Chili l trophy. There were 17 entries in that category.
     Julie Thomas with “Best Cluckin’ Chili You Will Ever Eat” won the Most Unique trophy. There were eight entries in that category.

Judges tasted each of these 25 different chili dishes to determine two winners.

     Both of these competitors have won before.
     Another tasty treat to help raise money for the fight against cancer was toffee. Named “Toffee by Anita,” there were eight-ounce bags selling for $5 each. Not only did buyers add to the efforts of the American Cancer Society through the Relay For Life of the Tri-Counties, but they got to enjoy the amazingly delicious toffee created by Anita Moore.
     This toffee was not too hard and not too soft. It was not too gooey and had just the right level of crunchiness. The sweet, salt and toffee flavors were likewise mixed to perfection. There are nuts in the secret recipe, so people with that allergy must avoid this wonderful candy.
     Moore led the team of main organizers again this year. Moore, Michelle Jones, Julie Thomas, Julie Gironda and Kieran Bryan assured that the program ran smoothly.
     Judging this year were the following brave souls -- Carrie Mizell, Michael McElroy and Lyle Wilkerson. Imagine sampling 25 different types of chili and selecting two winners.
 Chili022715F    They used four categories smell, color, thickness and flavor on a 10-point scale to decide the winners.
     After judging, the chili served as part of the Sheriff's Luncheon. The cost of a meal was $5. Lunch consisted of a cup of chili with all the fixings, a dessert and a drink. Eat in or take out.

This trophy for the Most Unique Chilli had a counterpart for Best Chili.

     Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert D. “Bobby” Schultz III has continued this GCSO tradition that, on the most fundamental level provides some great chili and other delights to diners – as well as the thrill of victory for the top chefs in two categories.
     Former Gilchrist County Sheriff Daniel W. Slaughter (2009-12) started the annual event. Looking back in time before Slaughter, the sheriffs were David P. Turner (1997-2008), James H. Floyd (1989-96), Roy J. Rodgers (1977-88), Charles Parris (1967-77), Clyde Williams (1956-67), Mark Read, who was killed in the line of duty (1956), R.E. Davis Jr. (1952-56), Dozier H. Browning (1941-53), D.W. Deen Jr., R.E. Davis (1933-41), and D.W. Deen Sr. (1931-33). Gilchrist County is also Florida’s youngest county.
    There was chili, cornbread, an amazing assortment of desserts and tea at this fine event on Friday afternoon.
     Not only did this event provide food and drink for an excellent lunch, but it was indeed a fun competitive affair that generated cash in the effort to cure cancer.
     There is no award for the best named chili. However, here are the names of the other 23 types of chili beyond the two winners – Criminal Intent Chili; Soul Warm Chili; Pepe Le Pew Perfume Chili; Chili Chili Bang Bang; Pascal Chili; Kitchen Sink Chili; Buckles Special Suwannee Juice Chili; Drucken Chili; Idds-n-Ends Chili; Texas Chili; Crack A Lack Chili; The Flying Pig Chili; Dragon Chili; Blazing Saddles Chili; Mean Bean Protein Chili; Possey Delite Chili; Green-Eyed Monster Chili; Rootin Tootin Turkey Chili; Bazinga! Chili; WKRP Sirens Chili; The White Wonder Chili; and Todd’s Second Chance Chili.
Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert 'Bobby' Schultz III (left) speaks with GCSO Citizen On Patrol volunteer Doc Wester at the Chili Cook-off.

Marine honored in final days
Haven Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Vondla Sullivan greets everyone and thanks people for coming to honor Mike Harrell.

Story, Photos and Video

By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 25, 2015
Updated Feb. 26, 2015 @ 5:07 p.m.

     CHIEFLAND -- A 70-year-old man who helped institute the very program that bestowed honor on him was acknowledged by his fellow Marines, other veterans and civilians at the Haven Hospice Care Center in Chiefland on Wednesday afternoon (Feb. 25).
     Henry “Mike” Harrell, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps when he served in Vietnam and elsewhere, was recognized during the ceremony. He was in the Marines in 1965-69 and served 13 months in Vietnam. Within those four years, the enlistee earned the rank of sergeant.
     Haven Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Vondla Sullivan opened the program as she greeted guests. For the past five years, she and Harrell have been performing this service for veterans in Haven Hospice’s care.

This video captures part of the program. Here DeAnna Beverly passes the speaking time to Patrick Allen. Many people choked up and shed tears during the program.

     The program that started five years ago began when Levy County Veterans Services Director Robert Lowyns was commandant of the Tri-County Detachment of the Marine Corps League. Harrell was senior vice commandant at the time.

Levy County Veterans Service Director Robert Lowyns reads the certificate that notes appreciation for Mike Harrell’s service to his country and his fellow veterans.

     “I wanted to start a program to honor veterans while they were alive,” Lowyns told “I told Mike (Harrell) about my idea and we went to Patrick (Allen, then the administrator at Haven Hospice in Chiefland). Patrick said ‘Sure. Let’s do it.’
     “That’s how it started,” Lowyns continued. “It was a joint effort by Haven Hospice, the Levy County Board of County Commissioners and the Tri-County Detachment of the Marine Corps League. Mike performed 181 of these in Alachua, Marion, Gilchrist Dixie and Levy counties. He would go day or night, weekday or weekend -- whenever he was called.”

Patrick Allen of Haven Hospice reads the certificate of appreciation signed by the five Dixie County Commission members. Every county commissioners in Dixie, Gilchrist and Levy County signed at least one certificate that was given to Mike Harrell on Wednesday (Feb. 25).

     In the program, Haven Hospice provides each passing veteran with a certificate, a lap quilt, a pin and a service to honor them as veterans.
     The service for Harrell obviously was very special to many people at Haven, because the man they were honoring with the program had been a leader in providing that very service for almost 200 other veterans.

DeAnna Beverly of Haven Hospice tells people about how Mike Harrell helped her personally, just as he has helped hundreds of others as their loved ones prepare to leave their mortal coils.

     Sullivan, as she opened the program, mentioned that Mike’s wife Shirley Harrell had been recruited into helping in providing the service to others too.
     Haven Hospice Chaplain Janice Kirk apologized for being emotional as she began her part of the service. The dedication shown by Harrell, always appearing when asked, and helping to honor veterans are among the things that gained the respect and love of Chaplain Kirk for the man who is marking the end of his life.
     Chaplain Kirk led the group in prayer. The Star Spangled Banner and the Marine Corps Hymn were played.
     Lowyns presented Harrell with a certificate from Haven Hospice. The certificate noted Harrell’s contribution of honorable service to the United States of America. His action helped maintain the security of the nation during a critical time in its history, Lowyns said as he read the certificate.

Family and friends gather for one of many photos taken with Mike Harrell on Wednesday (Feb. 25).

     Harrell’s devotion to duty and his spirit of sacrifice exemplify the proud traditions of military service, Lowyns said.
     Lowyns also gave Harrell a certificate signed by all five members of the Levy County Board of County Commissioners.
     Jim Mash of Gilchrist County, who is the Veterans Service Officer for Trenton, presented a certificate signed by all five members of the Gilchrist County Board of County Commissioners.
     Mash said the title on the certificate shows “Marine,” but he felt it should have been noted Harrell as “A Marine’s Marine.” The certificate recognized Harrell’s service to the veterans of Gilchrist County and for his unselfish support of Haven Hospice.
     Patrick Allen made a similar presentation to Harrell of a certificate signed by every member of the Dixie County Board of County Commissioners for Harrell’s service to veterans at Haven Hospice.
     Haven Hospice Administrator DeAnna Beverly spoke about Harrell’s work. Beverly took the helm in Chiefland when Allen transferred to the Gainesville office of Haven Hospice.

Marines gather with Mike Harrell for a photo opportunity.

     She thanked Harrell for his service in the military and for his service to the veterans and their families after they came to Haven Hospice. Beverly shared with listeners that Harrell obtained a Navy hat for Beverly’s daughter to remember her grandfather – a Navy veteran.
     “I think it is very important for you to know you are loved by every one of us in this room,” Beverly said to Harrell as she spoke about his service to others. “And we are very honored, we are better people for having known you.”
     Allen then spoke about the program that was started five years ago. He said all five Haven Hospice Care Centers now perform these services for veterans who are at the end of their lives.
     Tri-County Marine Corps League Chaplain Ted Henley also mentioned his appreciation for the work Harrell has done. The Tri-County Marine Corps League is active in Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties.
     One project that many of its members participate in is the Toys For Tots Program. Vince Arcadi, the local Marine who started that years ago in this part of Florida, was among the visitors present to honor Harrell.
     Mike Harrell always has been active in the Tri-County Toys For Tots Program. At the Nov. 1, 2014, Tri-County Toys for Tots registration in Cross City, Shirley Harrell was among the volunteers who helped assure its success.
     The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides a service for survivors, and Haven Hospice offers this program for the veterans before they pass away.
     As part of the service, Harrell was presented with a red, white and blue lap quilt and a pin.
     Family and fellow Marines spent time with Harrell, taking pictures and reminiscing after the program.

Marines surround Mike Harrell’s bed and give him a final salute.



FRI.   FEB. 27  10:27 p.m.
Levy, Dixie, Gilchrist counties

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