Florida DOT accepts input about future bridgework on Cedar Key
Aerial graphic provided by Florida Department of Transportation.

By Jeff M. Hardison © April 1, 2015

     CEDAR KEY -- About 70 people showed up Monday night (March 30) at the Cedar Key Community Center to provide their input regarding three bridges scheduled for future replacement by the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT).

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     This was the second meeting of its nature and many of the same people who were at the October meeting were at the March meeting.
     Two of the bridges are currently slated for replacement in 2017 and the third one has been tentatively pushed back to 2020, but DOT Spokeswoman Gina Busscher said that may happen sooner.
     Another public meeting will be offered in the summer for the people to see where the projects stand at that time, as well as to again provide their input, Busscher said on Wednesday (April 1).
     The Lewis Bridge (Gulf Boulevard), the Daughtry Bayou Bridge and the C Street (Dock Street) Bridge – Cedar Key Channel are slated for replacement. The Lewis Bridge and the Daughtry Bayou Bridge show 2017 as construction starting dates, and the C Street Bridge has been put back to 2020 currently.
     The bridge for Levy County Road 456/Gulf Boulevard at Lewis Pass will be a replacement of the existing bridge with a new bridge that has two, 10-foot wide travel lanes and, three-foot shoulders and sidewalks.
     The bridge for CR 456 at Daughtry Bayou will replace the existing bridge with a new bridge that has two, 10-foot wide travel lanes and, three-foot shoulders and sidewalks.
     The C Street Bridge (Dock Street) at Cedar Key Channel will replaced the existing bridge with a new bridge with a 17-foot wide one-way travel lane, and eight-foot wide parking lanes and sidewalks.

Williston’s ‘Doll Ladies’
retire after 40-plus years

Standing behind a table piled with newly-sewn dolls are members of the former Stitch ‘n’ Stir Club (later Williston Doll Ladies): Jenny Doran, Marie Hewitt, Jeanne Kaminski, Jean Stowell, Mickey Hughes, Jane Lintjer, Lila Munn and Cathy Staruk. The 1996 photo was taken at Staruk’s home, where the ladies gathered for years to create the dolls and other “labors of love.”

By Lisa Statham Posteraro © March 30, 2015 @ 8:37 a.m.
(Catherine Staruk provided information and photos for this article.)
     WILLISTON -- The call to volunteerism for some Williston ladies began over 40 years ago with the creation of the Stitch ‘n’ Stir organization, originally part of the University of Florida Extension Service.
     Besides focusing on sewing and cooking, the original members of the group welcomed all the newcomers to Williston and made them feel at home.
     “Meeting people (was a big factor),” said Irene Gilreath. “I enjoyed the extension agent speaking and demonstrating at each meeting, the special sewing classes, county and state meetings. New residents of Levy County were always welcomed. I went in as a younger woman, and it was so nice to learn from the older ladies about sewing and cooking. I remember especially the September 1975 39th Annual Conference of the National Extension State meeting in Orlando,” Gilreath said.
     “Good friends multiplied and lasting friendships formed,” said one longtime member who joined in the mid-1980s after she and husband moved to Williston. “The city of Williston became ‘home away from home’ with the involvement in so many places and groups through Stitch ‘n’ Stir.”
     “I enjoyed all the years that I belonged,” Eileen Nuce said, “and was glad that I could meet all the people in our club and clubs in neighboring towns at the conferences, learning crafts to teach members at the camp in the Ocala (National) Forest and so much more.”
     Some of the many things the original Stitch ‘n’ Stir Club did included making donations toward the renovation of the auditorium at Williston High School as well as to the Boy Scout camp; sewing handmade personal hygiene bags for abused women; purchasing appliances for White Rose Nursery; creating dolls, cremation bags, quilts, booties, and sweaters to Shands; making lap robes and dolls for the nursing home; and baskets of layettes for the pregnancy center. They also set up an emergency fund for articles of clothing needed for school children.

Flanked by Shriner Stan Glantz, a volunteer at the Shriners’ Hospital in Tampa, and Shriner Jim Posteraro are three members of the Williston Doll Ladies: Magdalene Minor, Elsie Neal and Cathy Staruk. (Beside Posteraro is Tara Paustian, child life specialist with the hospital.) This delivery of 200 dolls was the final one for the group, which began its doll project more than 40 years ago as the Stitch ‘n’ Stir Club of Williston.

     At Christmas, each member would give an outfit and gift to each of the needy children in the area. Holiday Hope received 100 dolls with hair and faces at Christmas each year, and “ouchie” dolls were created for children suffering from a “hurt.”
     Member Evelyn Knapp remembered all of the quilt-making that the Stitch ‘n’ Stir Club did to help make money to renovate the high school auditorium.
     "Coming from a large city," Knapp said, "I appreciated the welcome and the friendliness of the members of Stitch ‘n’ Stir and still maintain those friendships. Over the years it has been one of the most satisfying educational experiences I ever had.”
     The club members were “comfortable to be with,” Dolores Darpino said. “We could talk about anything. (It was) interesting to be with people from different walks of life and different parts of the U.S.”
     In 2012, the ladies changed the name of their organization to the Williston Doll Ladies. And they continued to make dolls as part of the legacy left by the original Stitch ‘n’ Stir Club, meeting twice a month at Catherine Staruk’s home.
     How did the group of women fund their endeavors? A significant amount of material was donated by friends and the area thrift shops. In addition, the ladies held yearly yard sales or donated the wares needed to complete their projects. About 600 to 800 dolls were produced yearly.
     Then one year, the late Grace Day, who spent many winters in Williston, challenged the group to ramp it up! She stood over the cutters, clippers, turners, stuffers, and side sewers until they did turn out more than1,000 dolls that year. Since the group’s inception, in excess of 14,000 dolls with jackets have been delivered!
     Why dolls? These dolls were used for children facing various kinds of medical or emotional situations. Nurses or doctors would mark the areas on the dolls where shots were to be injected or where surgical incisions were to be made; this would be the “sad” side of the doll. When the procedure was completed and the patient was ready to return home, a “happy” face went on the reverse side and the doll’s jacket reversed. The dolls were also used as autograph dolls with faces and as happy/sad dolls so a child could explain what s/he was feeling at a particular time.
     “I wasn’t a member very long, but I’ve enjoyed sewing with the dolls…making the shirts mostly,” Elsie Neal said.
     Magdalene Minor concurred. She enjoyed “the fellowship of the ladies I met. Working with the Doll Ladies…[I] felt that we were accomplishing something important in helping the children, and I do like the feeling of accomplishment. And always the fellowship, conversation and lunch,” Minor added with a chuckle.
     The late Barbara Sapp was very active in the early days of the Stitch ‘n’ Stir Club as were Patsy Fugate, Donna Phillips, Mary Brinn, Carol Yates, Emma Carpenter, Edith Hall, Lola Matsko and Ruth Dorey. Sometimes ladies such as Phyllis McCoy Griffin, though not members, would make parts for the dolls to donate to the group. Other doll makers over the past 22 years included Carolyn Baker Agazarm and her mother Mrs. G. W. Baker (who participated until her death at 104!), Liz Buckley, Hazel Rogers, Jean Stowell, Jeanne Kaminski, June Bacorn, Florence Johnson, Marion Hanson, Dot Terrill, Mickey Hughes, Marie Hewitt, Jackie MacCallister, Betty West, Jane Lintjer, Margaret Houfek, Lila Munn, Mary Ralls, Dot McLeod, Jenny Doran and Ethel Taubert.
     Over the last few years, Neal has taken the dolls to the Shriners Hospital for Children on the campus of the University of South Florida in Tampa. Recently, Jim and Lisa Posteraro drove Neal along with Staruk and Minor to deliver the last shipment of 200 dolls. Another bag of 45 dolls was given to the Meridian facility in Bronson.
     Member Gloria Furrow recalls how much she enjoyed her membership in Stitch ‘n’ Stir. “I only regret that it is not still available for young women to enjoy.”
     Now that the group has officially disbanded, the remaining funds were donated to the Robert Philpot Agricultural Scholarship Fund, the American Institute for Cancer Research, the American Heart Association and Haven Hospice in memory of Agazarm, an avidly enthusiastic member who recently passed away.
     Though part of the lyrics in the song “The times they are a-changing” may reflect what has happened as the Williston Doll Ladies disband, member Ruth Brown most likely echoes the feelings of both past and present members. “I have wonderful memories of my time with the club and hope we can get together in the future.”

Haven Hospice Attic Serves Hotdogs
The Attic of Haven Hospice in Chiefland -- 112 Rodgers Blvd. -- celebrated its third anniversary Saturday (March 28) with sales, free hotdogs and more. Courtney ‘Wiener Girl’ Quirie, who is the director of Volunteer Services with Haven Hospice, is seen here starting to cook some hotdogs. Quirie laughed at her ‘Wiener Girl’ title, but said she is happy to carry the label if it helps Haven Hospice’s Attic in Chiefland.

Jim Poole, vice president of community and legislative affairs at Haven Hospice; Attic Manager Malesa McCleery; and renowned volunteer Arnold Dittenber, who works with The Attic Store in Chiefland were among the many people who helped others at the store that day.

Haven032815C The Attic of Chiefland, is a retail thrift store that helps support Haven Hospice. It is located in the Save-A-Lot Shopping Center across the street from (Ralph’s) Burger House and Chiefland High School. Haven Hospice is the one that has a care center in Chiefland. Items donated to, or bought from, The Attic help Haven Hospice. Dittenber mentioned that some people become confused because there are two hospices with thrift stores in Chiefland. The thrift store for Hospice of Citrus County, which is also known as Hospice of the Nature Coast, does not support the care center located in Levy County. He mentioned speaking with a gentleman who thought he had donated his furniture to Haven Hospice, when he delivered it to the other thrift store near downtown Chiefland. The Attic is next to Save-A-Lot. Haven Hospice is also recognized for its high level of successful pain management for patients.

Published March 29, 2015
Photos by Jeff M. Hardison

Woman seeks help
paying for a robotic arm;

Former MDA poster child
needs financial assistance

Peggy Overbey of Ocala reaches with the Jaco robotic arm to lift a water container. She then put the water in the glass, and then took the glass and gave herself a drink -- unassisted in these actions for the first time in five years. Overbey has suffered from spinal muscular atrophy since birth.

Story, Photos and Videos
By Jeff M. Hardison © March 27, 2015 @ 10:17 p.m.

     OCALA – For the first time in about five years, a 49-year-old woman was able to feed herself and drink water without assistance, thanks to a robotic arm attached to her wheelchair for a demonstration on Friday (March 27).
     Peggy Overbey of Ocala has had spinal muscular atrophy since birth.
     Ron Borgschulte from Partners in Medicine from Saint Louis, Missouri, came to Ocala and hooked up a robotic arm to Overbey’s electric wheelchair and demonstrated it to see if it can be of use to her.

Peggy Overbey uses the robotic arm to pour a glass of water.

     He visited on Friday and will be there Saturday to continue working with the potential customer.
     “I like it,” Overby said. I was thrilled to eat something by myself for the first time in five years of so. I shoved a fish sandwich right in my mouth.”
     On Friday afternoon, she had practiced picking up a glass and tilting it enough to take a drink on her own – again for the first time in five years.

For the first time in five years, the woman who suffers from Muscular Dystrophy gives herself a drink of water. The robotic arm allows her to not ask a caregiver for a drink of water.

     Borgschulte said he finds great fulfillment teaching clients how to use the robotic arm. This device allows relief for caretakers, too, he said. They can go to the store and know their loved one can take care of themselves much better than without the device, including being able to use a telephone.
     The sad part of this story, however, is that after Saturday Borgschulte will leave and he will be taking the Jaco robotic arm with him, because Overbey does not have enough money yet to buy it. (It is pronounced Jay-Coe, with a long “a” and a long “o.”)
     The woman has raised about $1,200 of the $53,000 she will need to purchase the Jaco robotic arm, which attaches to her wheelchair as an aid with her life now.
     There is a bit of irony here. As a child, she inspired people to give to MDA to a significant degree.

Peggy Overbey gives herself a drink of water on her own for the first time in five years.

     Overbey was the National Poster Child for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in the 1972-73 year, when she was seven years old. She met Jerry Lewis and traveled across the country to many different locations to promote support for the MDA. She attended the 1972 Labor Day Telethon in New York City and the 1973 Labor Day Telethon in Las Vegas (but another child was National Poster Child that year).
     Overbey is a quadriplegic now. She spends most of her time in bed; because there is so little she can do for herself, especially when she is in her wheelchair. She now hangs onto any small glimmer of hope that there may be something out there which would make life easier for her.
     A while back she learned of the Jaco robotic arm and started a campaign to raise money to get one. (
     Overbey is the daughter of Ruth Y. Nott, a Christian poet who lives in Levy County. Nott contacted after Overbey had attempted to contact local TV stations.
     The woman found broadcast journalists unwilling to invest time in covering her story or how this device can improve the lives of handicapped individuals.
     Born in 1965, Overbey was diagnosed at the age of two with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type I. SMA is a progressive degenerative muscle disease and one of the over 40 diseases listed under the overall name of Muscular Dystrophy.
     The rate at which a person loses his or her ability to do things like walk, stand, lift their arms, etc., depends on the severity of the disease.
     With SMA, Overbey went through several stages in her life. She went  from being able to walk with braces, to being able to only stand with braces, to being in an electric wheelchair full-time.
     The changes from that point were slow and subtle until one day, after working for 23 years, she realized that she no longer had the strength to continue working.
     Today, Overbey essentially has the abilities of a quadriplegic who has lost the use of her arms and legs. Now, she can only use her hands. With the use of her hands, however, she was able to control the robotic arm and perform actions as if she had a functioning arm.
     "As you might imagine," Overbey said, "this loss of abilities over the years has greatly reduced my self-esteem and causes worry to my family and friends when they are forced to leave me at home alone. With a Jaco robotic arm I could regain some of my independence and relieve some of their worries."
     This robotic arm would add to her independence.
     She noted the typical uses for a Jaco robotic arm include her being able to:
•    open a refrigerator door, cabinets and drawers;
•    get myself a drink or feed myself;
•    open the front door or sliding door;
•    brush my teeth;
•    pick up objects that I drop, and
•    talk on the phone.
     Borgschulte said that people using this robotic arm become so skilled with it after a month of use that it improves their quality of living many times over.
     Overbey has been raising money by selling my knitted items on her website
     She also has a fundraising campaign on Go Fund Me (
     This type of technology is not covered by Medicare or her secondary health insurance, because it is considered by insurance companies to be a “convenience and not a necessity,” she said.
     “Of course,” Overbey added, “no one really understands how important these ‘conveniences’ are to their independence until they are the one who needs them.”
     On Friday, Borgschulte coached Overbey on how to eat from a bowl with a spoon since she had mastered eating a sandwich by using the Jaco robotic arm. To perform the exercise, he dumped M&Ms in the bowl.
     Overbey enjoyed learning to use the robotic arm. And there will be that sad moment after Saturday when Borgschulte leaves with the device. After the woman is able to buy the Jaco robotic arm, there will be more training sessions, he said.
     Overbey asks people to please visit the fundraising websites if they want to help her own her very own robotic arm to improve her life.

Rory Brennan named
as a Melvin Jones Fellow


Published March 26, 2015 @ 8:27 a.m.

     CEDAR KEY -- Rory Brennan of the Cedar Key Lions Club has been named a Melvin Jones Fellow by Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) in recognition of his commitment to serving the world community.
     Named for the founder of Lions Clubs International, Melvin Jones, the fellowship is one of the Foundation’s highest recognitions, honoring the commitment to humanitarian service.
     Brennan is a nine-year member and Past President of the Cedar Key Lions Club. His fellow Lions nominated him to be the club’s 2014-2015 Melvin Jones Fellow, acknowledging his dedication to the foundation’s humanitarian goals. As a Melvin Jones Fellow, Brennan becomes a part of the growing network of individuals who are committed to improving the quality of life for people locally and in communities around the world.
     “I am so honored to be selected by my fellow Cedar Key Lions, and especially humbled, as there are so many Lions here who are equally, if not more deserving of this honor," Brennan said. "I am especially pleased that the donation to Lions Clubs International Foundation associated with this award will help further the Lions International work with the needy around the world.”
     Brennan accepted the award from Cedar Key Lions President Dale Register.
     Lions Clubs International Foundation is the charitable arm of Lions Clubs International. Established in 1968, LCIF is committed to providing humanitarian services to those in need, including providing disaster relief, saving sight, supporting youth and combating disability.
There are more than 331,000 Melvin Jones Fellows worldwide who provide more than 75 percent of the Foundation’s revenue. LCIF was ranked by a Financial Times study as the #1 non-governmental organization with which to partner. Learn more at
     Anyone who is interested in joining the Cedar Key Lions Club, is asked to please contact Membership Chairman Maurice Hendrix at 352-543-6837.
Lions President Dale Register presents Rory Brennan with the Lions International Foundation Melvin Jones Fellow award.

Cedar Key Lions Club
inducts four new members

New Lions Leslie Valens and Steve and Diana Priessman try on their Lions Vests as Membership Chair Maurice Hendrix and Past District Governor Earl Box look on.

New Lions Leslie Valens, and Steve and Diana Priessman. (Not in photo - Lloyd Kelly)

Story and Photos

By Rory Brennan © March 26, 2015 @ 8:27 a.m.
     CEDAR KEY -- Lloyd Kelly, Leslie Valens, and Steve and Diana Priessman were inducted as new members of the Cedar Key Lions Club on Tuesday (March 24).
     The induction ceremony was presided by Earl Box, a longtime Cedar Key winter resident, past associate Cedar Key Lions member and Lions Past District Governor. Box reminded current and incoming members of the history and tradition of Lions community service, especially in the area of vision care, going back to Helen Keller’s challenge in 1925 to the Lions to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness."
     Valens and the Priessmans were welcomed and pinned by their respective sponsors, Faye Sanders and Maurice Hendrix. Lion Ken Young stood in for incoming Lion Lloyd Kelly who could not be present that evening.
     The four new Lions join the 1.36 million members in 210 countries and geographic areas, meeting the needs of local communities worldwide, sharing a core belief: community is what we make it.
     When you join the Lions, you join a global service network. So, at the same time that you're doing local community service, you can also contribute to Lions volunteer efforts around the world.
     If interested in learning more about joining the Cedar Key Lions Club, please contact Membership Chairman Maurice Hendrix at 352-543-6837.


WED.  APRIL 1  3:37 p.m.
Levy, Dixie, Gilchrist counties

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