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Keeping It Fine In Year Nine;
Contest helps people share travel fun
and enter to win one of two gas cards

By Jeff M. Hardison © June 16, 2019 at 9:09 a.m.
     THE WORLD –
Everyone in the world, except staff and family of, who wants to participate can enter to win one of two $25 gasoline cards.



More Below This Ad

Ad for Gilchrist County Tourist Development Council

     This is part of the celebration of nine years of existence for
     There are going to be two drawings for winners. One is July 10. One is July 31.
     “This contest harkens back to a time in the 9-year history of,” Publisher Jeff M. Hardison said, “when we had Traveling Tuesdays. During those summers, we solicited and received photos from people on their summer vacations. So, with a few more qualifiers, people can enter to win in this contest.”
     To participate, a person will print a copy of Traveling Goldy.
     Click HERE to go to the site where you can click to print Traveling Goldy from any computer connected to a printer.
     Then, snap a photo of Goldy, You and A Great View. will share it with the world and the participant will be entered into the drawings.
     “I’m thinking there will be videos of Goldy, Inky or Needles the cats selecting the winners,” Hardison said. “Let’s see how it all shakes out.”

     Participants must be 18 years or older to participate. One entry per individual or family.
     Employees and family of are not eligible to win, but can participate for fun.
     ALL readers – whether from the Tri-County Area or “beyond” are eligible. is not responsible for any lost or improper entries.
    The photographer is solely responsible for having consent of all people visible in the photo to share it with

     Names of individuals in photo with Traveling Goldy
     The location of the photo.
     The date it was taken
     Name and contact phone number of the person entering
     E-mail to

Dixie County
Emergency Services
leaders share information

Dixie County
The American flag flying at the Dixie County Emergency Operations Center on Tuesday evening (June 11) a bit before 7 p.m. is in the foreground, as the moon can be seen in the distance above the flag. During fair weather, the Emergency Management aspect of Dixie County Emergency Services is in a ready mode, prepared to go into action. It also informs the public about methods to be prepared as individuals. Meanwhile, simultaneously the firefighters, paramedics and administrators of DCES respond to any calls for immediate help to save lives, save property and ease suffering.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © June 13, 2019 at 4:39 p.m.
Leaders of Dixie County Emergency Services provided a wealth of information during a two-hour presentation Tuesday night (June 11).

Dixie County
Built like a fortress to withstand high winds and the objects carried and thrown in those winds, the Dixie County Emergency Operations Center is headquarters for first responders and agency leaders to conduct operations during disasters. During times of everyday life with no disaster, the EOC serves as the nerve center for fire and medical first responders.

Dixie County
Dixie County Emergency Services Chief Darian Brown, the leader of DCES, speaks about the functions of this county department.

     The first thing listeners learned was that Dixie County Emergency Services is structured with firefighting responders, Emergency Medical Services personnel and Emergency Management all on the same team.
     In many counties, like in Gilchrist County and in Levy County, firefighting and EMS are combined with Emergency Management working as a separate entity.
     Dixie County Emergency Services Chief Darian Brown, the leader of the DCES organization, opened the program.
     Chief Brown answers to Dixie County Manager Tim Alexander. All Dixie County departments are under the leadership of County Manager Alexander, and he is answerable to the five-member Dixie County Board of County Commissioners, who are at the service of all of the residents and visitors of Dixie County.
     Like the other county constitutional officers, the County Commission members are elected by the eligible and participating voters in Dixie County.
     Chief Brown opened the session by expressing his gratitude and the appreciation of the department for all of the people who showed up to learn about DCES and the 2019 Hurricane Season.
     Before speaking about hurricanes, which falls under the responsibilities of Division Chief of Emergency Management Scott Garner, Chief Brown spoke about the DCES as a whole.
     In addition to Chief Brown and Division Chief Garner, the other leaders in this department are Division Chief of Fire Service Operations Roy Bass, Division Chief of Emergency Medical Services Scott Pendarvis, Division Chief of 9-1-1 (including the maps, data, and all technical or computer issues) Chuck Elton; and Dixie County Emergency Services Firefighter-Paramedic Mandy Lemmermen, who deals on the front lines with members of the press

Dixie County
Dixie County Division Chief of 9-1-1 Chuck Elton stands next to the 25-plus red-colored Build Your Bucket kits provided by the Florida Department of Health’s Dixie-Gilchrist-Levy Unit. With a turnout of about this many people, everyone who wanted one of these buckets went home with one after the information session. These buckets and include several items people should have as they prepare for disaster. They are not all inclusive. For instance, Dixie County Emergency Services Chief Darian Brown joked that there is not one gallon per-day, per-person of water for seven days in these buckets.  Nevertheless, they included mosquito repellent, hand sanitizer, sturdy gloves, two bags from the Red Cross which each included daily hygiene items, a manual can-opener and several pieces of literature to help an individual know a plethora of information in regard to preparing for and surviving from disasters.

Dixie County
Dixie County Division Chief of Emergency Management Scott Garner prepares to take questions after the two-hour presentation by himself and Dixie County Emergency Services Chief Darian Brown. In addition to thoroughly answering any questions, the team of DCES division chiefs also provided complete tours of the Dixie County Emergency Operation Center for any interested person Tuesday evening.

Dixie County
Here are 15 Grab and Go Emergency Kits. Provided by the Florida Department of Health’s Dixie-Gilchrist-Levy Unit, these kits went to this many people who wanted one of the kits after the information session. These kits included safety and survival items in a weather-resistant pail. This kit includes am emergency blanket, two pair of medical gloves, one roll of duct tape, two dust masks, a flashlight with AA batteries, a 2,400-calorie food bar, a multifunction knife, two  light sticks, six wet-wipe towelettes, a rain poncho, an AM-FM radio with AAA batteries, a basic overnight hygiene kit, an emergency whistle,  four packets of emergency water-treatment, a first-aid kit, a pill reminder box, a tissue packet, a pen and a legal pad.

Dixie County
Dixie County Division Chief of Fire Service Operations Roy Bass (seated) and Dixie County Division Chief of Emergency Management Scott Garner listen while their leader Dixie County Chief of Emergency Services Darian Brown introduces listeners to the entire DCES field of public service to save lives every day – not just during hurricanes, wildfires or other major disasters.

Dixie County
Dixie County Division Chief of Emergency Medical Services Scott Pendarvis is the leader who is responsible for ambulance crews that transport people to the various hospitals in Gainesville. The paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians in these vehicles are the individuals who are the most vital to patients during the first period of time in those scenes, because it is a relatively long ride to the hospital for a person who has broken bones, or is bleeding or is suffering from some other serious health issue.

     Hurricane Michael made landfall Oct. 10, 2018 at 1:40 p.m. near Mexico Beach. It was first listed as a strong Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 155 m.p.h., however meteorologists later determined it was a Category 5 hurricane.
     Hurricane Michael was the first Category 5 hurricane to strike the contiguous United States since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. People who live in the Panhandle of Florida have gone for more than 18 months without enough help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to recover.
     Beyond learning about the limits of the daily firefighting and emergency medical service that residents and visitors of Dixie County enjoy, the single most important message from this session on Tuesday night is for all people to exercise self-reliance, and to be prepared for disaster.
     Create an evacuation plan. Stock supplies to be ready for seven days with no outside help, including a water supply for drinking and cleaning, in the event staying at home is the option selected.
    At the forefront of his part of the presentations, Chief Brown said the whole 700 square-miles of Dixie County are covered by the members of the DCES.
     Every division chief has specific duties in relation to the fire service, the Emergency Medical Service and Emergency Management, Chief Brown said.  Beyond that, however, everyone line in the organization has other responsibilities.
     Dixie County EMS operates three ambulances with two people on each ambulance 24-hours-a-day, Chief Brown said.
     As far as paid firefighting personnel, Chief Brown said, there is a team stationed in Old Town with an engine that is advanced life support capable and can do anything an ambulance can do except transport people, Brown said.  There is also fourth ambulance located in Old Town, which can be used for transportation if needed Brown said.
     Calls for help in regard to firefighting or EMS are constantly happening, he said, as the tones went off in the background for the on-duty personnel to respond at that moment that evening.
     Horseshoe Beach, Eugene and Suwannee are three coastal communities in Dixie County, which have volunteer firefighters, the chief said.  There are volunteer stations in Old Town and in the First District (Cross City), he said.
     Some of the volunteer leaders and members of those stations were present that night and Chief Brown thank them for their service as well as for their attendance.
     “It takes a coordinated effort from everybody to make this happen, he said.
     He went on to say that there’s a DCES squad truck based at the Cross City Volunteer Fire Department. He mentioned his gratitude for the joint effort provided by the city of Cross City.
     These on a daily basis DCES as nine people on duty ad on the trucks, Brown said. Three of them are on fire engines and six of them are on ambulances, he said.
     With three shifts, that equals 27 different people.
     Twelve to 18 people are needed to fight a house fire, he said.
     “We don’t have that (number of paid personnel to fight a house fire),” he said. “That’s why each of these supervisors or fire-certified. They go to help. If it’s a medical call, we go to help. If it’s a hurricane we all stay to help Chief Garner.”
     The need for volunteers, while apparent, is becoming harder to fill. Requirements to volunteer have increased, while the number of available humans who can dedicate the time and answer at a moment’s notice continues to dwindle.
     Equipment maintenance is another matter that must be dealt with. One ambulance alone will log 70,000 miles a year because of the need to drive to Gainesville for emergency room hospital service, Chief Pendarvis said when Chief Brown asked him how far each ambulance goes in a year.
     “We’re more than here just for hurricanes,” he said.
     Situations change. Within one day, the county can go from being on the highest danger level for wildfires, only to be drenched by rain and then be in danger of flash flooding, Chief Brown said.
     As Chief Garner started his presentation in regard to Emergency Management and the hurricane season, he thanked Lola Butler, preparedness and response county coordinator of the Dixie County unit of the Florida Department of Health, for her help in obtaining many of the door prizes that went out that night
     Not only did almost everyone go home with a big red bucket filled with items (from the Florida Department of Health and the Red Cross) and a smaller white container with great supplies (from the Florida Department of Health), but some people won weather radios, weather stations and rain gauges.
     Chief Garner mentioned that during a hurricane event, all DCES trucks are stopped from responding when winds reach 45 miles per hour or higher, because they can be moved by a gust. A 12,000- to 15,000-pound vehicle going on State Road 26 to Gainesville pushed into oncoming traffic is not something anyone wants, Chief Garner said.
     “I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t see wind,” he said.
     Therefore, he added, no one can know when a gust will move a truck.
     All disasters are local, he said. When the county exceeds its ability to provide help, it asks the state for assistance. Likewise, when the state reaches its limit of resources, state leaders request help from the federal government.
     Reaching those thresholds, he continued takes time. That is why no person should think FEMA is an end-all for solving disaster-related issues.
     The people of North Florida are still reeling from Hurricane Michael and FEMA’s response 18 months later has many people wondering about the federal government’s desire and ability to respond to disasters.
     The biggest thing, Garner said is to make a plan.
     Click HERE to use a resource for making a disaster plan.
     While some planners suggest to make the plan to cover three days, Garner said he recommends making a plan to cover seven days before help arrives.
     It took 14 days before supplies were available to many of the victims of Hurricane Michael, Garner said. Counties all had to rely on their own resources for two weeks, he said.
     From Hurricane Michael, there was no electric power (other than generators and batteries) from seven to 32 days, he added.
     Know where you live, he said. Know if the home is substandard construction; if it a mobile home; if it is in a low-lying area.
     Among the many topics Garner covered was the special needs shelter.
     Individuals who have special needs, garner said, such ads oxygen or consistent electricity go to special needs shelters.  People in Dixie County with special needs go to the shelter in Bell (Gilchrist County), because currently Dixie County cannot provide for those needs.
     Chief Garner recommends that people with special needs register now. To register, click HERE.
     Storm surge is something to consider as well in regard to hurricanes. Dixie County coastal residents are advised to review the map for elevations in the area.
     Garner let people know, six inches of water moving across a road can displace a passenger car. One Dixie County woman was driving a four-door Nissan pickup truck that was swept into a ditch within the past few years. She was going to work in the dark.
     Water was crossing the road near Mango Acres, north of Cross City on one Christmas Day. She tried to drive through it and her little pickup truck was swept into a ditch. By the time rescuers arrived, the water was up to her neck in the truck, and it was up to the armpits of the first responders (including Chief Bass) who saved her life, Garner said.
     She had to be taken to a hospital due to hypothermia and her disabled husband had to be evacuated from their home due to the impending flood, Garner said.
     As he concluded the program, Garner reminded people to build a kit. Certainly, he understands this can be a burden monetarily. However, work on the kit a little a time.
     Start by creating a stockpile of water. For instance, two people would need 14 gallons at least for seven days. For people who have a dispenser that can take five-gallon jugs, three of those in constant supply, rotating with use, is one method.
     When the storm is known to be coming, fill a bathtub with water.
     Stock up on non-perishable foods and keep a manual can opener ready. Visit Bass Pro for “camping foods,” he suggested.
     Batteries are another item to stock up on. Keep a weather radio and an AM/FM battery-powered radio. Batteries wear out, he said. There are wind-up powered radios, and flashlights that can be charged by shaking them.
     Garner reminded people to make themselves prepared for disaster by creating their kits, knowing their surroundings, knowing evacuation routes (more than one because that one may be closed), and to use common sense as storms approach.
     As for the regular season of June 1 through Nov. 30, there have been storms in April and January that were not within the normal timeframe.
     As for the predicted number of storms in the coming season, Garner said it just takes one storm to make all the difference in a family members’ lives. The first named storm of the 2019 season has already happened.
     The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects nine to 15 named storms during the season, including four to eight hurricanes and two to four major hurricanes.
     Last year (2018), 15 named storms, eight hurricanes and two major hurricanes tore through the Atlantic Basin.
     The named storms for the Atlantic Ocean (and Gulf of Mexico) for 2019 are Andrea (done), Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, Humberto, Imelda, Jerry, Karen,
Lorenzo, Melissa, Nestor, Olga, Pablo, Rebekah, Sebastien, Tanya, Van, and Wendy.
     In the event that more than 21 named storms form in the Atlantic Ocean, the National Hurricane Center says additional storms will be named from the Greek alphabet. Alpha, Beta, etc.


Pinellas County School Board
Member Bill Dudley helps
NEHI Class of 1974 members
see changes at the school;

Classmates come from Levy County,
Gilchrist County, Germany and
elsewhere to go to St. Petersburg

St. Petersgurg Florida
Retired Coach Bill Dudley, now a member of the Pinellas County School Board, stands just inside the doorway of the lobby to Northeast High School Gymnasium on Saturday morning (June 8).  The gymnasium is named in honor of former Northeast High School Principal Lee Benjamin.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © June 10, 2019 at 8:39 p.m.
Updated June 12, 2019 at 8:29 a.m.
(Except for a couple of photos, including one taken by Pinellas County School Board Member Bill Dudley.)
A 75-year-old member of the Pinellas County School Board provided a two-hour walking tour of part of the 50-plus acres that is the campus of Northeast High School (NEHI) in St. Petersburg on Saturday (June 8).

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
This is the entrance to the gymnasium, weight room and wrestling room area of Northeast High School, from the outer lobby. It was the starting and ending point for the two-hour walking tour.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
(from left) Gail George-Coppens, a member of the NEHI Class of 1974 Reunion Committee, Blanche Desch Hood, a member of the NEHI Class of 1975, and Marianne Walters, a member of the NEHI Class of 1974 Reunion Committee are among the many friendly people at the event at Quaker Steak & Lube in Pinellas Park on Friday Night.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
Denise Parrish, a member of the NEHI Class of 1974 Reunion Committee, greets a classmate who lives in Levy County now.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
Joanne Young Bird, a member of the NEHI Class of 1974 Reunion Committee, provides a photo opportunity when requested.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
David Holler, a member of the NEHI Class of 1974 Reunion Committee, provides a photo opportunity when requested.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
(from left) Danny Hockett, an Inglis landowner, avid fisherman and more; Fred Rider, a retired member of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and Steve Gertsch, a resident of Germany and wizard of the Web, are among the part of the 600-plus members of the NEHI Class of 1974 who attended the Friday gathering at Steak & Lube in Pinellas Park on Friday. The graduating class had 600 people. There were a number of people who showed upbu, t it was only a small part of this big class.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
Holly Holmes Sizemore, a member of the NEHI Class of 1974 

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
This view shows part of the mass of NEHI Class of 1974 members at Quaker Steak & Lube. Even more arrived after this photo was taken.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
Jamie Davis (left) holds up a peace sign as Mike Marr joins him at the event.

     Thanks to the NEHI Class of 1974 Reunion Committee – Marianne Walters Cary (who created the Facebook page for the class), Gail George-Coppens, Joanne Young Bird, Denise Parrish, David Holler, Terry Winstead, Alice Reinhard Palinkas and Helen Cronce Peterson -- the retired coach and School Board member was contacted and agreed to give the tour.
     That tour was one of four elements for the NEHI Class of 1974 Reunion. The first event was a get-together at Quaker Steak & Lube in Pinellas Park. Next was the Saturday morning tour at NEHI, which was followed Saturday night by a sunset cruise and meal. The final event was a brunch in beautiful downtown St. Petersburg on Sunday morning (June 9).
     Coach Bill Dudley, a member of the NEHI Class of 1961, told the listeners that when he gave the commencement speech to a recent set of NEHI grads, he let them know his contention that “Once a Viking, always a Viking,” is one of his philosophies.
     At the conclusion of the commencement speech to those grads, he took off the mortarboard he was wearing and put on a Viking helmet.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
These are some of the sports trophies earned over the years at NEHI. There are trophy cases on the campus as well.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
This photo taken by a volunteer who shot it with several cameras shows the members of the NEHI Class of 1974 who went on the tour on Saturday, as well as Coach Bill Dudley, who gave the tour.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
This photo taken by Coach Bill Dudley shows the members of the NEHI Class of 1974 who went on the tour on Saturday as they stand around center court.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
This is some of the $100,000 worth of weight-lifting equipment that Viking football players and other athletes use. There is even a summer program for the players to practice.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
Named for Coach Bill Dudley, this NEHI Wrestling Room was added long after the Class of 1974 left. Before then, the Viking Wrestling Team used the floor of the basketball court (with mats, of course). The campus has been radically changed with the former A, B, C, D, and E wings leveled. Most of F Wing remains but it has been modified, including removal of the carpet that was causing a health issue.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
Coach Bill Dudley speaks about the former wrestling program and how the addition of this separate room helped the team.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
Keeping the Viking theme, many buildings have names like the Hall of Thor for Creative Arts and Communications. The Nor’easter student newspaper and the Viking Log yearbook still exist after all these years. The school opened in 1954. It was almost completely revamped from 1998 to 2000.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
A stockpile of keyboards in the chorus room await the musicians of the next school year.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
Some of the many NEHI Viking Marching Band trophies are seen here.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
Art students use MacIntosh computers, where they must be learning some of the latest programs for graphic arts.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
The auditorium is one of the last remaining older buildings on the campus. Coach Dudley said this, too, is destined for demolition and replacement.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
One of the hallways that has lockers is seen here. There are enough lockers for every student, Bill Dudley said, but the custom nowadays is to not use lockers and to carry everything in a backpack.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
Coach Bill Dudley’s wife Michelle Dudley teachers at NEHI. Here are some words on one of the whiteboard. It says
In This Classroom…
We do second chances
We apologize
We forgive
We respect each other
We keep our promises
We never give up
We encourage one another
We laugh often
We belong …
The coach showed visitors the many boards of photos of students that his wife had him place on walls. He mentioned that when his wife Michelle Dudley retires in a couple of years, he will be tasked with taking down those boards of pictures. He said the room is similar to a museum because it captures so much his wife’s history of teaching there.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
The Hall of Oden is for students taking classes related to business careers.

NEHI St. Petersburg Florida
This partial view of the cafeteria captures some of how expansive it is. This is a good place for lunches as well as awards banquets, Coach Dudley said. On a board on a wall there are names of National Merit Scholars and other academic achievers.

     Dudley (nonpartisan) is a District 6 member of the Pinellas County School Board. Dudley was elected to that county office on Nov. 6, 2018.
     Dudley is a former member of the St. Petersburg City Council, elected in 2007 to represent District 3 of the city.
     The coach’s credentials are extensive and even go back to being an athlete at NEHI when he was a student there.
    His early teaching years as a coach included his service at Meadowlawn Jr. High School (now known as Meadowlawn Middle School) where he took over the classes of the late Coach Robert Kirnard, who passed away after suffering an aneurism during a sporting event at Meadowlawn during the school year in the late 1960s.
     Two years later, he joined the faculty at NEHI.
     Among the NEHI Class of 1974 visitors taking the tour were a man who is the publisher of a daily online news website that covers primarily the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, and a woman who is a leader in food services of the Gilchrist County Public School Systems.
     Jeff Hardison, owner of is a member of the NEHI Class of 1974. He started his career as a student journalist at NEHI in 1971, where he was an editorial writer, a reporter and an editorial editor of the Nor’aster for a bit, and he was the poetry editor of the Nor’easter Literary Edition.
     Director of Food Service at Gilchrist County School District Linda Bradham Perry is in the NEHI Class of 1974 as well. As she took the tour, she noticed aspects of the school’s food service facility.
     One of the NEHI Class of 1974 classmates traveling from the farthest point was Steve Gertsch, who came from his home in Germany.
     School Board Member Dudley said he was unable to have the school’s air-conditioning system turned on for the tour; so, it was a good workout for some of the visitors who are inclined to be in air-conditioned environments.
     At least a couple of the Pinellas County School Board member’s comments cut across Florida and perhaps the nation.
     Students today, he said, are the same as they were in 1974. Kids are kids, Dudley said. He sees an issue with social skills ebbing away as children are now more inclined to text to each other rather than to speak face-to-face; but they are still children and teens.
     Another issue from the curriculum side of teaching, which he mentioned was fewer students choosing to play band instruments. When one of the visitors mentioned that he lives close enough to Northeast High to hear “the spirit band” during football games at NEHI, Dudley said “That’s the whole band.”
     The coach showed some aspects of how the “new NEHI” has been “hardened” even more since the tragedy in Broward County where one student came to school and killed people with a firearm.
     Even before the most recent horror on a Florida high school campus, the administrator and teachers at NEHI had increased the security level far beyond the golden years of 1971-1974.
     When asked if Pinellas County was participating in the Guardian Program, as Gilchrist County is participating in it, Dudley told visitors who are local that he wanted to make clear the discussion is not about arming teachers, but about arming school staff in Pinellas County.
     The coach said his wife who teaches at Northeast High School is not a person to be considered for possessing a firearm in her classroom.
     His apparent need to clarify the point can be understood by looking at one of the daily newspapers that serves this market. A headline in one of the daily newspapers covering St. Petersburg said "Pinellas’ sheriff blessed arming teachers. But will his school board go along?"
     A subhead below that very headline for that same story in the Tampa Bay Times (formerly known as the St. Petersburg Times) noted "Sheriff Bob Gualtieri supports arming school staff. Now he’s trying to convince the Pinellas County School Board."
     The gist of that story is that the discussion continues, but as it stands today, each of Pinellas County’s schools have two School Resource Officers. At NEHI, the armed law enforcement officers are members of the St. Petersburg Police Department. At some point the Pinellas County School Board may have its own agency to provide armed personnel.
     One fundamental element for teaching is to assure students are in a safe environment.
     Coach Dudley spoke about the various programs to help students. NEHI even has its own credit union run by students. Another outstanding area of study is culinary arts. Fine arts and graphic arts, performing arts, and the many various sciences – including IT (Information Technology) are well-covered with an impressive curriculum from which students may choose their paths.
     Northeast High School is a four-year, comprehensive high school, with a current enrollment of about 1,800 students, Dudley said. During a time when there were split sessions, there were 4,000 students at the school, he said.
     NEHI ranks as one of the largest high schools in the Pinellas County School System and it serves a diverse student population with programs designed to meet the needs of a wide range of abilities and interests.
     These programs include four certified career academies in which students can earn college credit and an industry certification, 16 Advanced Placement courses, nine on campus and dual enrollment courses taught through St. Petersburg College (formerly St. Petersburg Junior College), the AVID program, community-based instruction programs and much more.
     The Nor’easter (school newspaper) and Viking Log (yearbook) are still active, Dudley said.
     NEHI always has been innovative; always has enjoyed strong community support; and always has had a very healthy athletic program, which included swimming, wrestling, tennis, golf as well as more common sports such as all of the track and field events, softball, baseball, basketball and football over the past several decades.
     In a way, this class from NEHI was a somewhat experimental set of students.
     The members of the NEHI Class of 1974 were the first to have enjoyed Independent Directed Study (IDS), Modular Scheduling and Open Campus during all three of their years. Back then high school was 10th, 11th and 12th grades.
     In IDS, students took mandatory core classes and enjoyed a wide variety of choices of courses of study where they were interested.
     In modular scheduling, students selected their classes and would find blocks of time to attend them. As for Open Campus, the students could come and go without having to check-in or check-out through the office.
     From 1971 through 1974, students could go home or to Burger King, etc., for lunch if their modular schedule provided enough time for that.
     As for sports since the school opened in 1954, the students earned so many trophies they are placed in several spots, including various trophy cases, as well as on top of an overhang on the inside of the lobby to the gym.
     Although band is not as popular as it was in the 1970s, the band room has a good collection of trophies as well.
     There are three huge boards with photos, names and dates of NEHI Sports Hall of Fame winners.
     Those famous athletes include competitors as well as some of their coaches. Dudley is among the people on those boards. Some other sports stars from Northeast in its 17 inducted classes so far, with six or so inductees in each class, are Betsy Nagelsen, 1972, Tennis; Mark Hamilton, 1963, Football/Track; Coach John McLay, 1968-80, Football; Coach Mary Miller, 1967-80, Swimming; Jim Andringa, 1961, Basketball/Football/Track; Coach Larry Rudisill Sr., 1968-89, Baseball; Coach Joan Vernotzy, 1971-86, Golf; James Hartley, 1974, Swimming and Diving (he was at the reunion); Coach Herb Dixon, 1971-86, Football/Basketball; Doug Waechter, 1999, Baseball/Football (of Tampa Bay Rays fame); and Brad Snyder, 2003, Swimming.
     This is just part of the long list of athletic stars. Each athlete and coach earned the recognition. Coach Dudley, pointed out that Snyder, though, was very extraordinary.
     Snyder was a demolitions expert with a SEAL Team in Afghanistan when an IED exploded and blinded him. After that, however, he went on to win gold in the para-Olympics in swimming.
     And while there may have been some arch-rivalry seen between St. Petersburg High School and NEHI sports teams in some years back then, the SPHS Class of 1974 and the NEHI Class of 1974 held a joint reunion some years ago. Charlie Crist (former Florida governor, former Florida attorney general and now the U.S. Representative from Florida's 13th Congressional District -- since 2017) was among the SPHS Class of 1974 who was part of that joint celebration of those two separate sets of 1974 high schools’ grads.
     A number of the 600-plus members of the NEHI Class of 1974 have passed away, and they are memorialized in various manners. The members of the NEHI Class of 1974 who returned for the four events from Friday through Sunday are bound to have had a good time reminiscing as well as making new memories.


Watermelon Time
Kelsi Morgan with a watermelon at Melba Tillis' farm
It’s the start of watermelon harvesting time in the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties. Kelsi Morgan holds a $4 seeded watermelon Monday evening (May 20). She is at a famous stand in Levy County, which started its service again to the public recently. Morgan had just stopped at the farm of Melba Tillis, who is her granny. The young woman was still wearing her clothes from work – U.F. Health Shands in Gainesville. This stand is known for high quality watermelons and cantaloupes year after year. It is on U.S. Alt. 27 between Bronson and Levyville, near Levy County Road 124. Melba Tillis and her family sell the delicious, fresh watermelons grown in the area. These watermelons were selling at $4 each. There are also seedless seeded watermelons there for $5. These watermelons are grown in Levy County, and they are sweet and juicy. Cantaloupes, cucumbers, squash and zucchini were there that evening, too. The stand is open during the day, but some passing motorists seemed to want to buy some watermelons that evening; so, they were helped. A passing journalist saw an opportunity to start the 2019 watermelon-eating season as well.
Photo by Jeff M. Hardison © May 21, 2019 at 10:19 p.m.


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LCFA President Amanda Havard

113th Jingle Performer

Levy County Fair Association President Amanda Havard sings the Jingle on April 4, 2019 near the entrance to the county fair on Williston Municipal Airport property in the City of Williston. This was the first day of the four-day annual fair, shortly after the opening ceremonies. If you want to sing the jingle, just let Jeff M. Hardison know or send an email to He asks people to sing it, too, and some of them agree to sing it. (Thanks people!) {Click on the lower photo to see and hear the jingle.}
Published April 27, 2019 at 7:09 a.m.

© Video by Jeff M. Hardison, All Rights Reserved
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