Marathon Awning Demolished

In this three-minute and 50-second video, there are four clips. The men are taking down a metal structure to recycle the metal.
Photos and Video by Jeff M. Hardison © June 22, 2017 at 8:57 p.m.

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The first and fourth short clips show some of the cutting torch work. In-between the progress of taking metal piece-by-piece to the metal recycling container is captured. This work happened within a couple of hours of the workers' total day. The Marathon gasoline station's metal cover over the pumps is taken down.

The series of still shots from top to bottom are progressive in chronology.

This action was on Wednesday (June 21), and it happened across U.S. Highway 19 from the Dixie County Library in Cross City.
Photos and Video by Jeff M. Hardison © June 22, 2017 at 8:57 p.m.

All Rights Reserved


Safety Award

Levy County Coordinator Wilbur Dean (above) speaks as County Clerk Danny Shipp (left) listens. Dean presented County Commission Chairman John Meeks with an acrylic trophy Tuesday morning (June 20). Dean was at the Public Risk Management insurance group meeting in Naples recently when the award was presented. This award is for Levy County employees earning the title as Most Improved Safety Performance as a Large Entity Class. Dean said that despite the great work in safety by the county's employees, the county should budget for a 7 percent to 14 percent increase workers compensation insurance premiums. Dean said this increase results from a Supreme Court ruling. Dean said the county's workforce earned this award.

Chairman Meeks (above) said it is the county workers who are active every day, being certain to take precautions and practicing safety measures to reduce the odds of injury, death and property loss. As an example, he mentioned to look both ways before crossing a street. Meeks said he appreciates the county's workers' efforts to remain safe while completing their tasks.

Photo by Jeff M. Hardison © June 21, 2017 at 2:27 p.m.



Don’t Let Your Investments
Take A Vacation

Published June 20, 2017 at 3:47 p.m.
     It’s summer again – time for many of us to take a break and possibly hit the open road. But even if you go on vacation, you won’t want your investments to do the same – in summertime or any other season. How can you help make sure your portfolio continues to work hard for you all year long.

     Here are a few suggestions:
     • Avoid owning too many “low growth” investments. As you know, different investments have different characteristics and can help you in different ways. For example, you typically own stocks because you want them to grow in value so that you can eventually sell them for a profit. Other investments, such as certificates of deposit (CDs), provide you with a regular source of income and stability of principal – two valuable contributions to your portfolio. However, investments like CDs don’t offer much in the way of growth. So if you own too many of them, you might be slowing your progress toward your important financial goals, such as a comfortable retirement.
     You can maximize the productivity of your portfolio by owning a variety of investments – domestic stocks, international stocks, corporate bonds, U.S. Treasury securities, CDs and more. How much of each investment should you own? The answer depends on a variety of factors, including your age, income, risk tolerance, family situation and specific objectives. Over time, your ideal investment mix may change, but you’ll likely need at least some growth potential at every stage of your life.
     • Don’t let your portfolio go “unsupervised.” Your investment portfolio can be subject to “drift” if left alone for extended time periods. In fact, without your making any moves at all, your portfolio can move in directions that may not be favorable to you. Suppose you think your holdings should be made up of 70% stocks, but due to strong gains, your stocks now make up 80% of your portfolio. This development could lead to a risk level that feels uncomfortably high to you. That’s why you should review your portfolio at least once a year, possibly with the help of a financial professional, to check your progress and make adjustments as needed.
     • Don’t stop at the nearest “resting place.” Some people hope that if they can get that one “winner,” they will triumph in the investment arena. But the ability to “get rich quick” is much more of a myth than a reality. True investment success typically requires patience, persistence and the resilience to continue investing even during market downturns.
     In other words, investing is a long-term endeavor, and you need a portfolio that reflects this reality. The investment moves you make today may pay off for you decades from now. You need to establish your goals and keep them constantly in mind as you invest. And you will never really reach the end of your investment journey, because you’ll need to make choices and manage your portfolio throughout your retirement years.
     Hopefully, you will enjoy a pleasant vacation sometime this summer. But your investment portfolio shouldn't take time off.
     PUBLISHER'S NOTE: This article was written by Edward Jones for use by the local Edward Jones Financial Advisor -- Kathryn Lancaster, 220-2 N. Main St., in Chiefland.

Region’s jobless rate
remains at 4.9 percent

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager, CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published June 16, 2017 AT 4:27 p.m.
     OCALA –
The unemployment rate for the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion was 4.9 percent in May, unchanged over the month and 0.7 percentage point lower than the same time last year.

     Out of a labor force of 200,642, there were 9,818 unemployed, a slight increase of 56 since April and 1,171 fewer than May 2016. While the number of employed remained virtually unchanged in the region – just two fewer at 190,824 – that represents 4,829 more employed than one year ago when the unemployment rate was 5.6 percent.
     According to today’s (Friday, June 16, 2017) employment summary by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), Levy County continued to post the lowest jobless rate in the region at 4.3 percent, followed by Marion County at 4.7 percent and Citrus County at 5.6. Florida’s unemployment rate, not seasonally adjusted, was 4 percent and the nations held at 4.1 percent. 
     For the fifth consecutive month, the Ocala metropolitan statistical area (MSA) continued to hold the fastest annual job growth rate compared to all metros in Florida in professional and business services, at 9.7 percent.
     Rusty Skinner, chief executive officer for CareerSource CLM, said that historically the region begins to see unemployment rise in May due to seasonal factors, peaking in mid-summer and snapping back by September or October.
     “The fact that we’ve basically held steady in May when we’ve typically seen unemployment increase could very well be another encouraging sign for our local economy,” Skinner said. “And again, it’s instructive to see just how far we’ve come.”
     Comparing last month to May 2012, the jobless rate has been cut in half, down from 10.3 percent, and the number of unemployed has dropped 52 percent, down from 20,555. 
     DEO’s preliminary data for the area’s three counties shows that in May Citrus County's labor force grew over the month by 265 to 47,924, the number of employed increased by 209 to 45,222, and the number of those without jobs rose by 56 to 2,702.
     That is 113 more employed and 325 fewer unemployed since May 2016 when the jobless rate was 6.3 percent. 
     Levy County's labor force remained virtually unchanged, falling by just six to 16,860, the number of employed decreased by 14 to 16,137 and the number of unemployed rose by eight to 723. That’s 410 more employed and 51 fewer unemployed than a year ago when the jobless rate was 4.7 percent.
     Marion County’s labor force decreased by 205 to 135,858, the number of employed slipped by 197 to 129,465 and the number of jobless inched up by eight to 6,393. That’s an increase of 4,306 employed and a drop of 795 unemployed compared to May 2016 when the unemployment rate was 5.4 percent.
     Among the counties, Citrus County continued to hold the third highest rate behind Sumter County at 5.9 percent and Hendry County at 6.6 percent; Marion County held at 11th; and Levy County was 21st.
     The Villages MSA continued to post the highest rate among the states metros at 5.9 percent, Homosassa Springs (Citrus County) continued to hold the second highest and Ocala held at fifth. 
     The Ocala metro posted 103,300 nonfarm jobs in May, an increase of 2,700 new jobs over the year for an growth rate of 2.7 percent.
     Industries gaining jobs over the year, and growing faster in the metro area than statewide over the year, were professional and business services (+900 for a 9.7 percent job growth rate); mining, logging and construction (+600 for a 8.7 percent growth rate); education and health services (+500/2.7 percent increase); and trade, transportation and utilities (+600 jobs for an increase of 2.6 percent).
     Manufacturing also gained 200 jobs over the year and government added 100 jobs.
     Information and financial activities each lost 100 jobs over the year. Leisure and hospitality and “other services” industries were unchanged.
     The Homosassa Springs MSA had 33,500 nonfarm jobs in May, the same as the previous two months but a decrease of 100 (-0.3 percent) over the year.  
     The June employment report is scheduled to be released on Friday, July 21.

Governor and Cabinet
approve Florida Forever
acquisition crucial for springs'
protection in Gilchrist County

Turtles swim in Blue Springs.

Photo courtesy of John Moran.

By the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection
Published June 14, 2017 at 11:27 p.m.

     TALLAHASSEE – Today (Wednesday, June 14) , Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet members approved the purchase of the Blue Springs parcel, a 407-acre property in Gilchrist County, for more than $5.2 million.
     The property encompasses six natural springs and includes approximately one mile of frontage along the Santa Fe River.
     "Gilchrist County is very appreciative of Gov. Scott, the Florida Cabinet, and DEP for the foresight to acquire Gilchrist Blue Springs," Gilchrist County Commission Chairman D. Ray Harrison Jr. said. "This acquisition will ensure that this magnificent local jewel will be protected and enjoyed by the public today and in the future."
     “I am thrilled by this opportunity to protect this property, and the vital springs resources within it, for our future generations,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “I'm looking forward to working with Gov. Scott and the Cabinet and our partners in springs protection to complete more acquisitions like this one."
     The property will be purchased from Blue Springs Properties Inc., which has managed it as a private park and campground facility, known as Blue Springs Park, since 1958.
     "For decades, my family has worked to protect one of this state's most beautiful natural treasures," said Kim Davis, Blue Springs Properties Inc. "We're excited that this acquisition will allow this legacy to continue."       
     The property is located within the Florida’s First Magnitude Springs Florida Forever project, ranked number 1 in the Florida Forever Partnerships and Regional Incentives project category. With today's acquisition, more than 60 percent of this project has been acquired by the state of Florida.
     “The Blue Springs project in Gilchrist County is a terrific springs protection project with the added benefit of protecting riverine habitat along the Santa Fe River,” said Eric Draper, Executive Director of Audubon Florida. "We're looking forward to working with Secretary Valenstein and DEP to complete more critical acquisitions and projects to ensure Florida’s natural treasures are protected."
     The property contains a large second magnitude spring that produces an average of over 44 million gallons of water per day. This spring, known as Gilchrist Blue, discharges water through a shallow spring run about one-quarter mile to the Santa Fe River. The other named springs on-site are Little Blue Spring, Naked Spring and Johnson Spring. 
     "The state's purchase of Gilchrist Blue Springs on the Santa Fe River is a success for public access to our watery natural resources," said Whitey Markle, chair of Suwannee - St. Johns Sierra Club. "This type of protection is supported by our organization." 
     "Gilchrist Blue Springs is one of the crown jewels along the emerald necklace of North Central Florida,"said Tom Kay, Executive Director of Alachua Conservation Trust. "Its protection has been the priority of many organizations for years. This is a great day for Florida and all those that love our springs."
     "Our Santa Fe River is delighted at the purchase of Gilchrist Blue Springs by the state," said Pamela I. Smith, president of Our Santa Fe River Inc. "We look forward to working with DEP to establish a healthy management plan for this unique and beautiful Florida spring."

Williston Rotary Has Fun

President Jana Carlisle of the Rotary Club of Williston strikes a pose Tuesday afternoon.
President Carlisle and the whole Williston Rotary Club welcomed a visiting journalist even though it was a business meeting alone. Some Rotary Clubs in the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties are more gracious, welcoming and fun than other clubs, as is the case in any area. Interestingly, among the fun things mentioned during the meeting was the upcoming 11th anniversary of this club. On June 17, the club heralds its 11th anniversary. Of the charter members, there were three present on Tuesday. Those three are Norm Fugate, Justin Head and Mary O'Banyoun-Abdullah. The Williston Rotarians had a very successful meeting Tuesday in the Prudence Ross Fellowship Hall at First Presbyterian Church of Williston. Members and guests enjoyed a lunch of tossed salad, barbecue pork, green beans, various types of potato chips, cookies and soft drinks. The club discussed the various causes where its members are planning to help. There was some discussion about the Interact Club of Williston Middle High School. Interact is Rotary Club for young people. There was some somber discussion about the late Gilchrist County Judge Ed Philman, who passed away last month. He was the Rotary District Governor for District 6940 (which includes Williston) during the Rotary Year of July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013. Before he was district governor, Judge Philman, who was a member of the Trenton Rotary Club, was among the people who helped the Williston Rotary Club to come to fruition.
Photo by Jeff M. Hardison © June 14, 2017 at 2:17 p.m.

Below is the story that ran five years ago in, regarding Judge Ed Philman becoming District Governor Philman:
Edward Philman becomes
district Rotary governor

By Jeff M. Hardison, © July 2, 2012 <
     TRENTON –
Gilchrist County Judge Edward Philman, who took office as the county judge in 1989 and is retiring from that post this year, accepted the duties of being the District 6940 Rotary Club Governor during a ceremony Monday (July 2) at the Gilchrist Woman’s Club in Trenton.
     The building was filled to capacity with many past district governors and representatives from some of the clubs in the district, including those in the Rotary Clubs of Chiefland, Suwannee Valley (Chiefland), Williston, Dixie County, Lake City, Pace, Pensacola, Mayo, Tallahassee, Glenhaven, Gainesville, Live Oak, Panama City, Panama City Beach, Branford and elsewhere. Like Chiefland, some places had more than one club.
     Southern Sisters of Bronson catered the event. The meal included everything from salad through dessert.
     Trenton Rotary Club President Jo Buckles welcomed everyone after Monnye Brown played several tunes on the piano as a prelude.
     “Peace Through Service” is the theme for Rotary Club International this year.
     Bell High School’s Army Jr. Reserve Officer Training Corps presented the flag and Hardee Myer sang a stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
     Bill Clifton, a charter member of the Trenton Rotary Club, said he has seen the club grow since it began with 15 members in 1949. He read the Four Way Test and Trenton Rotarian Cheryl Jones shared the object of Rotary.
     Past District Governor John Kuykendall introduced Philman, who, as he said, needed no introduction.
     Philman has been active in Rotary since 1982, as well as being active in his church and community. In 2008, when Buckles was moving on from her post as assistant governor, Philman was tapped for the position, Kuykendall said. Since that time, Philman has been a very active assistant governor and has been preparing to be the District 6940 governor.
     He was the best “AG” that Kuykendall has ever seen. Philman was involved with everything he possibly could be involved with; was always on time; and always did exactly what he was supposed to do, Kuykendall said.
     “During my time as governor,” Kuykendall said, “Ed made numerous trips up to Lake City to talk to me about what it takes to be a district governor.”
     Kuykendall said he believes Philman will be “the best district governor we have ever had.”
     Jeannie Quave, the 2011-2012 Rotary District 6940 Governor, installed Philman to his new post.
     She provided him with a hat, and modeled a hat that Past District Governor Sylvia White had presented to her. First, she showed a jester’s hat that someone had started as a tradition years ago, and she said Philman could wear that with “pride and joy” and of course pass it on to the next district governor.
     The stovetop hat she gave Philman, as White had provided her with a hat, resembles one that Abraham Lincoln is known to have worn. She felt that was more fitting than the jester’s hat. She then read a poem that she wrote, which compared him with Lincoln and noted some of his duties as incoming district governor.
      Philman presented her with a large stemware drinking glass, with “It’s A Jungle Out There” engraved on it. Quave said the glass will hold a lot of wine, because it looks like a wine glass. Philman said it can also hold a lot of tea, either sweetened or unsweetened.
     Chief Judge Robert E. Roundtree Jr., Eighth Judicial Circuit, was thanked by Philman for his help. The incoming district governor noted his realization of what he faces now.
     “My priorities have always been God, family, work and Rotary,” Philman said.
     He went on to say that his wife of 41 years, Jeanne, thinks that maybe Rotary has become his second priority. She has “kind of become a Rotary widow,” he said. Really though, he said, Jeanne and his granddaughter Audrey Philman are among his biggest supporters for his Rotarian work.
     Philman said he tips his hat to Quave, because she is a full-time working mother who has teenagers, as well as having been the district governor for the past year.
     Only parents and grandparents of teenagers can understand how difficult that job can be, he said.
     “She did it all, and she did it tirelessly,” Philman said, “never losing her composure.”
     District 6940 has 51 clubs with about 2,500 Rotarians, who put service above self as they help people locally, regionally and internationally, Philman said, adding that this area also has excellent assistant governors, district committee chairs and club presidents.
     He touched on the theme for this year – Peace Through Service.
     “Truly, peace is what we have all been seeking for ages,” he said.
    Peace can be individualized, involve a family, or a community or beyond, he said. Even on a small scale, Philman added, peace is worth the effort as he concluded the meeting.




Dixie County residents discuss
future in Chamber-sponsored
town hall meeting

Scott Koons, executive director of the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council talks to Dixie community leaders about their economic future.
Story and Photos

By Terry Witt, Senior Reporter © June 9, 2017 at 10:37 p.m.
     CROSS CITY --
When the Florida Chamber Foundation came to Dixie County Thursday night (June 8), residents used their smart phones to participate in an interactive survey that asked them how they felt about their community in 2017 and whether the county is prepared for the changing Florida economy in the future.

     Residents responded that they loved their community and wanted to improve the local economy, and they were particularly supportive of local government officials.
     When asked in the survey about how they felt about their leaders they used cell phones to give local officials a unanimous endorsement for highest rating. They said their leaders were strong and improving.
      “That’s a real good number,” said County Commissioner Mark Hatch responded with a smile. He said four of the five county commissioners attended the meeting.

This satellite photo shows the earth with the most heavily populated areas in lighter colors. The arrow points to Florida as one of the most well lighted areas on the face of the earth, an indication of its population density.

     The interactive survey made the meeting more interesting. As residents typed in their cell phone responses a computer calculated the percentages and displayed them on a large screen in the county commission meeting room.
     The Florida Chamber Foundation visited all 67 counties in the state. Dixie County was the final stop. The Foundation will publish a report of its findings in the spring of 2018, probably in March. The central question asked of residents across the state in town hall workshops was whether they think Florida is ready for 2030 when six million more residents will live here and two million more jobs will be needed.
     Dixie residents were told the state will attract more than 150 million visitors annually by 2030, will have 4-5 million more new drivers, will need 20 percent more water and the demand for energy will soar by 76 percent.
     In Dixie County, the population is expected to rise to 23,000 by 2030 and the county will have to supply 866 new jobs to replace the ones lost to innovation and technological advances. The same economic forces impacting Dixie County will be seen statewide.
     Host for the meeting was Scott R. Koons, executive director of the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council. He also sits on the board of the Florida Chamber Foundation, which he described as the “think tank arm of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.”
     By the year 2030, Koons said, Florida will have a population of 26 million people, making it the third largest state in the nation behind Texas and California. He said 2016 was a record year for tourism in Florida with 112 million visitors coming to the Sunshine State.
      “Florida is now the number one destination in the world,” Koons said, adding that France is number two.
     He said the state has a $928 billion annual gross domestic product. To place the number in perspective, he said if Florida was a nation state it would represent 1 percent of the global economy.
     Koons said the state is aware that global economic competition is intensifying. In the year 2000, 5 percent of Fortune Global 500 Companies were from emerging countries. The number grew to 17 percent in 2000 and is expected to rise to 46 percent.
     Residents at the meeting were told 15.8 percent of Floridians live below the poverty level compared to 29 percent in Dixie County. On the positive side, Dixie County High School has the second highest graduation rate in the state. Many in the audience thought Dixie County had the highest graduation rate, but Koons pulled up the numbers on his computer. He said Dixie County had a 96.1 percent graduation rate, second in the state behind Gilchrist County’s 97.7 percent. He said both school districts had excellent graduation rates.
     The interactive survey indicated community leaders at the meeting were concerned that many academically talented Dixie County graduates go off to college and never return home again for lack of high paying jobs in the local economy. They were also concerned about the housing shortage, noting that some teachers in local schools must live across the county line to find good housing.

FRIDAY  JUNE 23  4:07 p.m.
Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties

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