CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ADS AT BOTTOM OF PAGE
Mending Fences uses horses
to help drug addicts
Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © May 26, 2017 at 4:07 p.m.
MARION COUNTY -- Just on the other side of the Levy County-Marion County line, a residential treatment facility for drug addicts uses horse as a centerpiece of the therapy to help those afflicted individuals overcome their addiction to drugs.
Mending Fences, 15530 W. Marion County Road 326, in Morriston, held an open house on Thursday (May 25). Many organizations and individuals toured the facilities on the 437 acres, including a contingent of representatives from the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office.
In this video, Katarina Campagnola speaks about the ‘Trust Walk’ exercise. Here a person is escorted as they put their hand and arm on a horse and walk with their eyes closed as the handler guides the horse. In this video, the horse is named Gator. He is a retired horse who was a family-owned horse. The horse handler is Terry Libera, and the person walking is Karen Woodbury. Campagnola agrees Marilyn Sokolof, a psychologist who specializes in using horses in mental health treatment, in regard to how this is a very effective method of diagnosis and treatment. Mending Fences Chief Executive Officer Scottie Collins said this treatment method has exceptional outcomes. The average stay for a client is 24 to 60 days, Collins said, but the treatment period is customized for each client.
Rob Miller owns the facility, although it is listed as an LLC.
There are 16 horses and 14 clients as of Thursday. Each client is assigned to a horse. This is a residential treatment facility, with separate areas for male and female clients.
This facility is a reformation from its previous function as a place to help horses with treatment in a hyperbaric chamber.
In February of 2012, one woman and one horse were killed and one woman was seriously injured in an explosion in a hyperbaric chamber at this former equine medical facility.
Investigators found that the horse was kicking, when it knocked down part of the protective coating inside the chamber.
The kick of the horse caused the metal horseshoes to create a spark and that is believed to have been the cause of the explosion in the chamber that has a high intensity of oxygen in it – for healing.
Rather than close the facility, Miller revamped it into the rehabilitation unit it is today.
Mending Fences uses retired horses as part of the psychological treatment to help people learn about themselves, and to seek to overcome addiction problems.
There is not riding of horses during the therapy.
The facility will only accept private insurance and cash-pay clients.
Marilyn Sokolof, a psychologist who specializes in using horses in mental health treatment, works at Mending Fences.
The Mending Fences website notes that “Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) is a powerful part of our treatment process. Utilizing the horse, human bond therapists can help guests let down their emotional walls allowing them to learn more about how they relate to themselves and others.”
Equine therapy is at the core of the Mending Fences program. It is “designed to help the individual build trust, confidence, social skills communication, impulse control, perspective and learn boundaries.”
During the tour Thursday, staff members mentioned that “treatment also needs to address what happens when you leave our doors.”
Upon discharge, the client receives a lock of the mane hair from the horse that he or she was partnered with. There is a photo too, and planning includes help in for clients continuing the vocational training and/or career enhancement programs they began at Mending Fences.
“Our goal is to ensure that your chosen field is a good fit and will support rather than hinder your work towards recovery,” the website notes. “Your stay with us also includes a year of phone monitoring to make sure you are following your treatment plan as we know that the pull off the path to sobriety can be daunting.”
FWC saves lives
and conserves natural resources
Justin Geiger (aboard the boat) and Adam Hayes help an FWC officer check out their material for safety before they depart to be in the Chiefland Rotary Fishing Tournament. Thomas Race was in this fishing crew although he is out of camera view at this moment. A Rotarian said he would relay a request from HardisonInk.com to be provided with results from this year’s tournament.
Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © May 21, 2017 at 4:37 p.m.
GULF OF MEXICO -- In conjunction with National Safe Boating Week, Gov. Rick Scott has issued a proclamation declaring May 20-26, Safe Boating Week in Florida.
Four Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers started their day in Cedar Key as they were among the FWC force throughout the state on the first day of Safe Boating Week on Saturday (May 20).
FWC officers Robert Johnson and James Fox initially assisted FWC officers Jordan Hilliard and Brennan Starling as Hilliard and Starling focused on saving lives and conserving natural resources at the Rotary Club of Chiefland’s Annual Fishing Tournament.
In this two-minute set of video clips, FWC Officer Robert Johnston and FWC Officer James Fox are at the wheel of the boat. At one point Saturday morning, the boat was brought up to a relatively fast speed to catch up with a boater who appeared to be leaving quickly once the FWC had started toward him. That boater said he was not trying to escape from the FWC officers. The clips end with Officer Fox bringing the boat in for a very smooth docking at Cedar Key.
FWC Officer Robert Johnston is seen as the sun rises in the background near the launching point of Cedar Key.
FWC officers (from left) Jordan Hilliard, Robert Johnston, James Fox and Brennan Starling pause for a moment to be captured in a photo.
Charlie Kennedy, a participant in the Chiefland Rotary Club tournament, looks happy before launching that day.
John Meeks, a participant in the Chiefland Rotary Club tournament, checks out the boat as it sits on a trailer.
Every one of the 61 boats registered for that Rotary Club’s fishing tournament -- that showed up -- was provided a safety inspection.
Boaters might want to take the necessary steps to assure they are complying with laws before going on the water with their vessels.
All vessels in Florida, except non-motor-powered vessels shorter than 16-feet long, and except for canoes, kayaks, racing shells or rowing sculls regardless of their length, must be registered through the local Tax Collector’s Office.
All recreational vessels are required to have size-specific safety equipment on board, according to Florida law. The regulations for commercial vessels are more stringent.
FWC Officer Johnston explained that the FWC first seeks to protect lives and to assure the legal use of natural resources is occurring.
FWC officers have no quota of citations and they often use verbal and written warnings to stress the importance of abiding by the law, rather than issuing citations.
FWC officers Johnston and Fox, after completing their assistance of their colleagues at the boat ramps in Cedar Key, launched in a 2005 22-foot Pathfinder boat, powered by a 250-horsepower Yamaha marine engine.
Two boats with oysters harvested by two men are checked Saturday morning.
Some of the many beautiful natural scenes that can be observed from a boat in the Gulf of Mexico off of the coast of Levy County show why this part of the Gulf is a destination for boaters and fishermen. The natural beauty here remains untarnished by buildings on the shoreline.
These two officers on that Saturday patrolled waterways in Levy County, which includes the Gulf of Mexico and the Suwannee River.
Gulf sturgeon have begun their annual migration back into the Suwannee River, FWC Officer Johnston mentioned as he and Officer Fox provided information.
“The best course of action is to go slow, wear your life jacket and keep people off the bow of the boat,” FWC Maj. Andy Krause, FWC regional commander, stated earlier this year in regard to sturgeon safety. “The Suwannee is a beautiful river, and we certainly don’t want to scare anyone away from enjoying it. We just want those recreating there to be aware these fish are present and can jump at any time. There have been injuries and, tragically, even a death in past years due to sturgeon strikes.”
Watching and speaking with FWC officers Johnston and Fox provided more insight from their perspective as they conducted safety and resource checks on recreational and commercial vessels, starting with the parking lot next to Cedar Key City Park and the boat ramps there, and then on the Gulf of Mexico until noon.
At noon, the officers docked the Pathfinder boat to enjoy lunch in Cedar Key at Steamer’s Clam Bar and Grill. Their journalist ride-along guest of the day was forced to finish that part of his day off of the water -- due to other (less fun) demands of owning a daily news website.
Once on the water in the morning, however, the officers knew they would not be checking fish sizes of the tournament participants too soon, because it takes some time to catch fish.
With Officer Johnston occasionally being the captain of the vessel and with Officer Fox also accepting that responsibility, the three men first headed north in the Gulf of Mexico from the launch point at Cedar Key.
A young fisherman holds a mackerel he caught as the FWC officers were checking safety equipment.
The mackerel is measured. This picture was taken before the fish’s lips were slid up to the point where measurement began. It was longer than 12 inches long. A flounder caught within minutes of this fish also measured to be proved as a keeper.
FWC Officer James Fox looks through binoculars to determine what is happening on a distant boat.
FWC Officer Robert Johnston checks safety equipment on a vessel used by a commercial oyster harvester.
Levy County TDC Strives
To Fill Empty Seats;
Williston Mayor R. Gerald Hethcoat Acts
Captured here during one-sixtieth of one second during the two-hour meeting on Thursday night (May 18) are (from left) Williston Mayor R. Gerald Hethcoat; Casey DuQuette of the Levy County Road Department; Levy County Tourist Development Council Director Carol McQueen; TDC Chairman John Meeks; and TDC members Kathy Carver, Daryl Kirby and Heidi Schwiebert and TDC Vice Chair Helen Ciallella. Williston Mayor Hethcoat is the person recommended by the City of Williston and by the TDC to fill a local government seat on the TDC. None of the five Williston City Council members were able to schedule the time to meet once every two months on the TDC. That is when Mayor Hethcoat volunteered, because he cares about Williston and Levy County enough to revise his schedule to attend. The TDC asked him to commit for two years. The mayor said he can only promise until next March, because then there is an election. Absent from this meeting on May 18, were TDC members Teresa Barron of the Chiefland City Commission and Capt. Rick LeFiles of Yankeetown. There is also a vacant seat available for a representative of the tourism industry in Levy County. The members present Thursday night spoke about some individuals who may fill that vacant seat. In other action, the TDC voted to next meet on July 13 at 6 p.m. It reviewed marketing plans to attract more tourists to Levy County and it reviewed financial matters related to this agency of appointed volunteers. The TDC is funded by a 2 percent bed tax that comes from hotels, motels, RV sites and other temporary dwelling places where tourists sleep in Levy County. The Levy County taxpayers (other than the ones who sleep in those beds on occasions) do not fund this council. Another topic of lengthy discussion was Tourist-Oriented Directional Signs, which may in the future help visitors find attractions such as Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens. DuQuette said the Levy County Road Department will allow the signs to be posted on the right-of-way, because Florida Statutes allow it. This will be a Florida Department of Transportation program, he said, although the county will be involved to some extent. As for the cost of signs, maintenance of the signs and the grass-trimming around the signs, that entire cost is to be covered by the business owners who apply and are accepted for these signs to help people find their businesses 'off the beaten path.' Neither the county government nor the TDC will be putting money into that sign project. In other action, the TDC agreed to endorse the potential of participating in the Old Florida Coastal Trail (U.S. Highway 98 Corridor) project, which was presented by Franklin County TDC Administrator Curt Blair. The Levy County TDC also saw the final product of 18 months of work -- The Big Bend Shellfish Trail Working Waterfront Communities (Dixie, Levy, Jefferson and Taylor counties) map and brochure. Click HERE for a starting point to check out the Levy County part of this working waterfront trail.
Photo by Jeff M. Hardison © May 19, 2017 at 2:57 p.m.
Dixie County Chamber
needs volunteers for
installation of flags
Dixie County Chamber of Commerce Secretary Cindy Bellot, who is also the librarian at the Dixie County Public Library in Cross City, is seen with Dixie County Chamber of Commerce Co-Vice President Arthur Bellot shortly before the start of the monthly meeting on Thursday (May 11). Mr. Bellot is a retired county manager who is among the core of active Chamber members.
Story and Photo
By Jeff M. Hardison © May 13, 2017 at 4:47 p.m.
CROSS CITY -- The Dixie County Chamber of Commerce has 285 American flags with names of veterans that are being honored by them, and the Chamber needs more volunteers to help put the flags in the ground on May 22.
One week before Memorial Day Parade, which is May 29, the Chamber puts up the flags along the eastern side of U.S. Highway 19 in Cross City.
Terry Dembo, Chamber Co-Treasurer Debbie Dembo and Chamber Co-Vice President Andrew Rains are the leaders in the Chamber’s program to honor veterans for Memorial Day and Veterans Day with the posting of the colors.
Chamber President Carol West on Thursday (May 11) mentioned that men and women can volunteer to help.
Volunteers are needed on May 22, before 9 a.m. and into the day.
People who want to volunteer to help the Dixie County Chamber with the flag project, other projects or who want to learn more about the Dixie County Chamber are asked to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lunch And Learn teaches
that hope springs eternal
Lesley Hersey, a community engagement specialist at Lutheran Services of Florida Health Systems, welcomes participants to the third Lunch and Learn training session on Thursday afternoon (May 4).
Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © May 7, 2017 at 1:17 a.m.
OTTER SPRINGS -- Hope springs eternal.
During part of her training session for people involved with children, Latanya Urquhart said on Thursday afternoon (May 4) "It is never too late."