New website will help
Florida businesses
prepare for natural disasters

Story by DEO Communications Staff
Published June 16, 2018 at 8:48 a.m.
On June 6, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) announced the launch of a new website,, to help Florida businesses prepare for and recover from hurricanes and other disasters.


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     By providing critical information before, during and after a disaster, the website will help businesses recover and get Floridians back to work following emergencies.
Features of the new website include:
     • A disaster planning toolkit to help businesses prepare for hurricanes and other disasters;
     • Critical disaster updates from the State Emergency Operations Center to keep businesses informed during emergencies; and
     • A Business Damage Assessment Survey to help businesses get back up and running after an emergency.
     “Floridians understand the importance of being prepared for disasters, especially during hurricane season," Gov. Rick Scott said. "This new website will help businesses make safe and informed decisions for themselves, their employees and their customers. Every Florida business can visit, make a disaster plan and stay updated as we move further into hurricane season.”
     The executive director of DEO commented.
     “The new provides key resources and information to help Florida’s job creators in the face of a disaster," DEO Executive Director Cissy Proctor said. "We know that businesses, like individuals and families, must be prepared with a plan, and will guide businesses step-by-step to help them prepare and recover quickly from an emergency.”
     The director of Emergency Management gave his perspective.
     “Effectively preparing for, responding to and recovering from disasters takes input from the whole community," Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Wes Maul said. "This valuable tool will boost Florida’s private sector engagement during emergencies and help raise awareness of available resources. Ensuring our businesses can reopen quickly is critical to the speedy recovery of our impacted communities.” is a partnership between DEO and the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Other partners include the U.S. Department of Commerce, Florida State University’s Center for Disaster Risk Policy, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, the Florida Retail Federation, VISIT FLORIDA, the Florida Small Business Development Center Network and others. DEO is the lead agency for the support of business, industry and economic stabilization during a statewide disaster.
     The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity combines the state’s economic, workforce and community development efforts. This new approach helps expedite economic development projects to fuel job creation in competitive communities.
     For more information, including valuable resources for employers and job seekers, please visit The best site for job seekers and employers in the Citrus, Levy and Marion counties' markets is

Mike Campbell retires and
Denny George accepts duties
as new CFEC general manager

Story and Photos
By Haley E. Webb        
Communications Specialist
Central Florida Electric Cooperative
Published June 15, 2018 at 11:28 p.m.
Mike Campbell is retiring this June after more than 42 years of service to the electric cooperative program.

Mike Campbell

Denny George

     Campbell was selected as executive vice president and general manager of Central Florida Electric Cooperative in 2005.
     Prior to this appointment, he was vice president of engineering and operations at Coastal Electric Membership Corp. in Midway, Ga.
     During his tenure, Campbell oversaw changes too numerous to list. However, for a cooperative that was once trailing other cooperatives in so many significant areas, it is now leading in many ways.
     From changes to improve efficiency and customer service - such as the new building - to changes critical to today’s needs, such as cyber security, CFEC has undergone a complete transformation while maintaining their connection to the members they serve.
     These changes would not have been possible without the guidance of Campbell and a good team of management and employees. Although CFEC will miss the leadership of Campbell, the cooperative is well-poised and looking to the future with the recent selection of the new executive vice president and ceneral manager of CFEC - Joel “Denny” George.
     After a thorough selection process, the CFEC Board of Trustees chose George based on his extensive experience in the energy business, his strong technical understanding and his interpersonal skills and customer service acumen.
     “We look forward to working with Mr. George to provide our members with the power they need," CFEC President Barbara Townsend said. "His knowledge of the energy business in this general service area is invaluable. This knowledge and leadership will serve us well into the future.”
     Previously, George worked for Florida Power and Light, now NextEra Energy, for 21 years in a variety of positions including distribution engineering, field supervision, quality improvement, account management, corporate communications and power plant development.
     At FP&L, George worked with some of their largest and most complex customers, including NASA/Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Station. Later, he helped develop large scale, natural gas combined cycle power plants in Texas, and then he transferred to the wind teams and developed mega-watt class wind farms in the Pacific Northwest.
     In 2005, George left FP&L to work for Progress Energy, which was formerly Florida Power Corp. and is now known as Duke Energy.
     A Progress Energy and Duke, George held the position of account manager from the Trenton office for 12 years. In this position, he worked with complex industrial customers, such as Buckeye (now GP), PCS Phosphate, Cemex and Publix, and yet he understood that each and every energy user was important.
     At CFEC, George says he is looking forward to building and continuing close relationships with those that live and work in the CFEC service area. As the rural communities served by CFEC continue to grow, the members can rest assured that George’s experience will be valuable in ensuring power remains reliable and affordable. 
     “Using my leadership abilities, business development experience and with a strong focus on safety, I feel this opportunity will allow me to use my full complement of skills that I have developed over the past 33 years,” George says.

Region’s jobless rate
holds at 4.2 percent,
employment posts gains;

Ocala is among Florida’s fastest
job growth MSAs in key industries

By Contact: Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published June 15, 2018 at 2:48 p.m.
     OCALA --
The May unemployment rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region is 4.2 percent, unchanged over the month and 0.8 percentage point lower percent lower than the same time last year.
     Over the year, the region’s labor force has grown by 1,953 to 201,608, employment has increased by 3,451 to 193,199 and the number of unemployed has decreased by 1,498 to 8,409.
     According to today’s (June 15) release of the May employment summary by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, preliminary unemployment rates are 4.8 percent for Citrus County, up 0.1 percentage point over the month; 3.5 percent for Levy County, the same as April’s rate; and 4.0 percent for Marion County, down 0.1 percent over the month. Florida’s not seasonally adjusted jobless rate – a measure that matches the way local rates are calculated – is 3.4 percent, unchanged over the month.
     Nonfarm employment in the Ocala/Marion County metropolitan statistical area was 104,500, an increase of 300 jobs over the month and 1,900 more than April 2017, for a growth rate of 1.9 percent over the year.
     For the third straight month, the Ocala MSA area posted the fastest annual job growth rate compared to all metro areas in the state in education and health services at 6.0 percent. In May, there were 19,500 jobs in education and health services, an increase of 1,100 jobs over the year.
     The Ocala metro area had the third fastest annual job growth rates in manufacturing among Florida metros at 6.2 percent. The 8,600 manufacturing jobs represents 500 more than in May 2017.
     Rusty Skinner, CEO of CareerSource CLM, said the report points to “continued growth in the labor force and employment” for the region.
     Skinner noted that the number of jobless slightly across the region – up 67 over the month – but that “overall it is positive from a regional perspective.”
     “The fact that both labor force and employment expanded, are positives that outweigh the fact that the growth could not, at this time, absorb all new entrants into the labor force,” he said.
     Here’s how the employment numbers break down for each county:
     ● Citrus County’s labor force grew by 246 to 48,387, employment increased by 192 to 46,064 while the number of jobless rose by 54 to 2,323. That’s an increase of 379 employed and 394 fewer unemployed compared to May 2017 when the unemployment rate was 5.6 percent.
     ● Levy County’s labor force shrank by 17 over the month to 17,126, the number of those with jobs fell by 19 to 16,525 and the number of unemployed increased by 5 to 601. Compared to May 2017 when the jobless rate was 4.3 percent, that’s an increase of 212 employed and decrease of 129 unemployed.
     ● Marion County’s labor force expanded by 1,191 to 136,095, the number of those with jobs increased by 1,180 to 130,610, and the number of unemployed fell by 11 to 5,485. In May 2017, the unemployment rate was 4.8 percent; since then the labor force has grown by 1,885, the number of employed has increased by 2,860 and the number of unemployed has dropped by 975.
     Over the month, unemployment rates dropped in 28 counties, rose in 10 and remained unchanged in 29. In each instance when the rate either rose or dropped, it did so by 0.1 percentage point.
     Citrus County’s had the third highest unemployment rate among Florida’s counties, dropping from second highest; Marion County tied with Miami-Dade County for the 11th highest rate, moving up a spot; and Levy County moved up from 27th to 24th highest rate, tied with six other counties.
     Among the metro areas, Homosassa Springs, which includes all of Citrus County, continued to hold the second highest unemployment rate behind The Villages and Ocala/Marion County remained fifth highest.
     In the Ocala MSA, both education and health services and manufacturing industry sectors grew faster in the metro area than statewide over the year, as did professional and business services (+4.4 percent with 400 new jobs) and government (+1.3 percent with 200 new jobs).
     Leisure and hospitality also gained 200 jobs over the year.
     Industries losing jobs over there year were mining, logging and construction (-200); and financial activities (-100).
     The information and other services industries were unchanged.
     In May, nonfarm payroll employment in the Homosassa Springs MSA was 33,600, a loss of 100 jobs over the year.
     The region’s employment summary for June is scheduled to be released on Friday, July 20.

Candidates Socialize

Tim West (left) socializes with Teresa Barron on Monday night (June 11) after the regular meeting of the Chiefland City Commission. West and Barron are anticipated to both seek election to the Seat 4 post that Barron currently holds on the City Commission. Qualifying for Seat 4 and Seat 2 ends on Thursday. Chiefland City Manager Mary Ellzey as the ex-officio city clerk for Chiefland is the Municipal Supervisor of Elections.

Photo by Jeff M. Hardison © June 13, 2018 at 8:38 p.m.

FHP to host
After-Hours Career Fair

Published June 11, 2018 at 10:38 p.m.
     OCALA --
The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is actively recruiting across the state and will be hosting an after-hours career fair for individuals interested in pursuing a career with the FHP on Thursday, June 14, at the Ocala FHP Station.
     This career fair will assist candidates to understand pay and benefits, the application process, as well as learn where open positions are currently available in North Central Florida. This includes open positions in counties such as Alachua, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Marion and Suwannee.
     The minimum qualifications to join the FHP are as follows:
     ● United States Citizen;
     ● High School graduate or equivalent;
     ● Minimum of 19 years old at time of application (no maximum age restriction);
     ● Valid driver license; and
     ● One of the following – one year of law enforcement experience (sworn or non-sworn); two years of public contact experience; two years of active continuous U.S. military service with an honorable discharge; completed 30 semester or 45-quarter hours of college credit from an accredited college or university.
     Florida Certified Law Enforcement Officers are also encouraged to attend to learn about the accelerated programs available that shortens the hiring process.
     The location and date of Career Fair is Thursday, June 14, from 3 until 7 p.m. at the Ocala FHP Station, 600 S.E. 25th Ave. in Ocala.
     Interested applicants with additional questions may contact local FHP Recruiter Shelia Walker at 386-754-6284 or
     Additional information can be found at

Publisher sells
political ads in 2018

Ads will run June 28 through Aug. 28
for $400 on all seven pages

By Jeff M. Hardison © June 10, 2018 at 10:08 p.m.
     JEMLANDS --
Candidates in municipal, county, circuit, district, state and national elections are well-served if they buy an ad in
     While there is an option to buy a yearlong ad, like normal business interests, politicians can buy short-term advertisement runs.
     Here is the deal for all political ads this year - the ad will be 300 pixels wide by 599 pixels long. The ad will run on all seven pages for two months. The ad will run for $200 a month. The cost is $400.
     The first run is June 28 through Aug. 28 for the primaries. Candidates who need to run through the November general election can buy another round of ads then. The cost is $400 for the first set. For the candidate who waits too long, the price is still $400 for the ad on all seven pages for whenever it dawns upon them to buy an ad for the primary. can publish a month-long “Thank you” ad for the elected or reelected candidates running a yearlong ad, and we will let that candidate add a public service ad or update ad on the state of the district, or county, etc., until their yearlong ad purchase expires.
     Ad rates for politicians who buy yearlong ads are the same as for business interests that buy yearlong ads. Those ads cost $900 less on the per-year basis in contrast with the monthly cost. is the best place to advertise anything, as it has been for its eight-year existence thus far.
     The monthly averages recorded by Google Analytics and cPanel (third-party robotic measuring programs) for the 12 months of 2017 in the four categories are shown below:
Unique Visitors   15,552
Number of Visits   36,179
Pages   120,336
Hits   1.2 million
     So far in 2018, the trend is even more traffic than in 2017.

     Consider that more than 16,000 unique visitors to are in contrast with fewer than 5,000 subscribers in any of the weekly newspapers in the Tri-County Area of Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties.
     Beyond the benefit to a campaign for election or reelection by capturing the market with the most traffic, there is the altruistic and American patriotic ideal too -- that by buying an ad in, the candidate is helping the people of the world by helping a free press serve a free country. And the candidate is buying from a sole proprietor rather than from a corporation.
     Candidates are advised to buy sooner rather than later, because ads are placed by size and chronology of payment accepted.
     For more information, or to purchase an ad on, please call 352-493-9950 or send an email to

CF Foundation receives $12,500
from Ocala Human Resources
Management Association
for scholarship

Published June 7, 2018 at 7:38 p.m.
     OCALA --
The College of Central Florida Foundation has received a $12,500 gift from the Ocala Human Resource Management Association to establish an endowed scholarship to support students majoring in Business Administration and qualifying for the Human Resources Administrator, College Credit Certificate program.
     OHRMA has served Ocala/Marion County since the early 1990s and is an affiliate association for the Society of Human Resource Management. The scholarship was established to honor of the memory Robert A. Goldberg who was a past president and a dedicated board member of OHRMA.
     “We stand by our commitment to our profession and our community in supporting career development opportunities,” says Letitia T. Webber, SPHR, SHRM-SCP and president of OHRMA.
     The nonprofit organization includes human resource professionals from the Marion county community and is organized to support human resource professionals by providing quality programs, networking resources and career development opportunities to assist the community.
     The College of Central Florida offers the Human Resources Administrator certificate to help individuals obtain entry level positions in the HR environment and enhancing those already in the field looking for more knowledge. The successful student will be able to offer the human resource job market a variety of skills.
     “We are so grateful for the OHRMA student scholarship. Their support creates opportunity for students to fulfill their dreams and helps build a stronger community,” said Chris Knife, executive director of the CF Foundation.
     The CF Foundation, founded in 1959, is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation that enhances the college’s programs and services through the development and management of private contributions and community partnerships. To learn more, visit

Haven receives three awards
from Florida Hospice &
Palliative Care Association

By Haven Manager of Marketing and Communications Jeremy Haupt
Published June 2, 2018 at 8:08 a.m.
During the Florida Hospice & Palliative Care Association (FHPCA) Forum 2018, which took place May 31 through June 1, Haven was recognized with three Awards of Excellence including the Excellence in Program Innovation Award, the Hospice Story Award and the Excellence in Clinical Practice Award.
     Once named Haven Hospice, the corporation changed its name to Haven. It formerly had a care unit in Chiefland as well, and still maintains a business office there as well as providing a Community Building for meetings such as those held there by the Suwannee Valley Rotary Club.
     During the FHPCA Forum, Haven won the Excellence in Program Innovation Award, which recognizes services and programs provided by a hospice organization that demonstrate the power of creativity and ingenuity to impact the practice and the community, for its Haven Legacy Project. The services provided by the Haven Legacy Project are impactful tools to help families in their bereavement journey. Those services include hand photography, life reviews which can take the form of video, written narratives based on interviews with patients and their families, drawings or a combination of these elements provided at no cost to family members. The award also recognized Haven Volunteer Joyce Pearson for her integral work with the program.
     Haven and volunteer Elizabeth Lowe were selected for the Hospice Story Award, which is given to the person or organization that best captures his or her most meaningful hospice experience with an original creative work. Lowe worked with a young mother who was a hospice patient and struggling to find a way to explain her advanced illness to her 7-year-old son by helping her to write a story called The Little Dinosaur Goes on an Adventure. The story encouraged the son to accept his new home with the patient’s sister. Lowe is a university professor specializing in languages, cultures and literatures.
     The Excellence in Clinical Practice Award was given to Haven Chaplain Donna Carlile, who has since been promoted to counseling services manager. An advocate for patients and families, a resource to multiple community organizations, and a public speaker and educator regarding dignity in patient-centered care, Carlile promotes the advancement of excellence in hospice and palliative care. Carlile was recognized for being generous with her personal time and going above and beyond her job responsibilities to provide comfort, care and compassion to patients, families and fellow Haven associates, especially in unique and emotionally-charged situations.
     Haven is a source for patients, their families and their healthcare providers to find answers to their advanced illness challenges. In addition to providing comfort through the compassionate delivery of hospice services, Haven offers advance care planning and palliative care consultations with a patient-centric focus. When health becomes a challenge, this corporation will be a haven. For more information, visit or call 800-727-1889.

Mission Orange Vest at Bronson
Elementary School is a success

Becky Tyson, Michelle Porter, Cindy Lawn, Karen Webster, and Toni Poole participate at the event.

Story and Photos
Provided By Emma Donestevez
Public Information Specialist
Florida Department of Transportation
Published June 1, 2018 at 4:18 p.m.
     BRONSON --
Wednesday (May 30), personnel from the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) Chiefland Maintenance Office presented Mission Orange Vest to the kindergarten, first and second grade classes at Bronson Elementary School.

The kids were excited to participate.

Michelle Porter demonstrates what NOT to wear.

     The main topic was bicycle safety, including appropriate safety gear and good habits of bicycle riders. FDOT employees Becky Tyson and Michelle Porter demonstrated the types of safety gear in a way that was entertaining and that the kids seemed to find the program hilarious.
     The students were engaged and had a hard time not shouting safety tips back at the presenters. After the show, Tyson and her team handed out safety booklets and prizes including helmets and lanyards.
     The FDOT team at the Chiefland Maintenance Office regularly demonstrate their commitment to their community with this type of event.

CF Corporate College to offer
industrial robotics summer camp

Published June 1, 2018 at 8:08 a.m.
     OCALA —
The College of Central Florida’s Corporate College will offer an industrial robotics summer camp for high school students July 16-19, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at its Ocala Campus, 3001 S.W. College Road.
     The four-day camp will provide high school students with hands-on experience building, running and executing programs on FANUC industrial robots. Course fee is $250 and CF instructor is Sam Ajlani.
     For more information or to register for the course, call 352-873-5855 or email


Construction Job Fair offers
blueprint for building
a strong career

Fair set for June 14
By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published May 30, 2018 at 11:28 a.m.
     OCALA –
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion is scheduled to take part in a statewide initiative to help fill jobs in the recovering construction industry by holding a Construction Job Fair in June.
     The job fair is set for Thursday, June 14 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the College of Central Florida’s Klein Conference Center, 3001 S.W. College Road, in Ocala.
     Candidates will be able to meet hiring representatives with jobs to fill in the construction and building trade industry. There is no charge to attend the job fair, but candidates should register for the event prior to attending at
     “There’s no question that the construction industry took a hit during the recession, but jobs are now in high demand throughout Citrus, Levy and Marion counties,” said Brenda Chrisman, CareerSource CLM’s business services officer. “In fact, jobs for construction trade workers in our region are projected to grow by 17 percent through 2025.”
     Chrisman said that registering for the job fair ahead of time helps ensure fast, easy access to the event. She also said it is important for candidates to dress appropriately, bring printed copies of their current resume and be prepared for on-the-spot job interviews.
     Fee-free services are available at any of CareerSource CLM’s career centers for those interested in updating their resume or sharpening interview skills prior to the job fair.
     For additional information, job candidates should call 800-434-JOBS, ext. 1118 or visit the career fairs page at
     There is also no charge for businesses to take part in the Construction Job Fair, which Chrisman said is a “fast and effective recruiting opportunity.” Construction businesses interested in participating must be registered in, and have active job orders with, Employ Florida.
     For more information, call 800-746-9950, ext. 1713.

Florida Forest Service
accepting applications to help
landowners combat devastating
Southern Pine Beetle

By Florida DACS Media Staff
Published May 26, 2018 at 8:28 p.m.
To help combat the invasive Southern Pine Beetle, which is currently present in 52 infestation sites throughout six Florida counties, the Florida Forest Service is accepting applications for the 2018 Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Program from non-industrial, private forest landowners through June 29.
     The program is limited to 44 northern Florida counties, the known range of the southern pine beetle.
     The southern pine beetle is one of the most economically devastating forest pests of the southeast, with periodic outbreaks leading to deaths of millions of pine trees. In 2017, 260 SPB infestations were reported in Florida, killing trees on 1,768 acres. This pales in comparison to the last major outbreaks between 1999 and 2002, which caused an estimated $59 million in timber losses. Since it was first offered in 2005, the program has been implemented on more than 183,000 acres and helped thousands of landowners. 
     “These small infestations average less than an acre now, but they have the ability to expand rapidly this time of year,” said Jim Karels, State Forester and Director of the Florida Forest Service. “It’s imperative that we remain vigilant to keep this invasive pest at bay.”
     The Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Program, supported through a grant by the United States Forest Service, provides incentive payments for landowners who conduct a first pulpwood thinning and offers partial cost reimbursement for activities, such as prescribed burning, mechanical underbrush treatments, and the planting of longleaf or slash pine rather than the loblolly pine, the beetle’s preferred species. Qualified landowners can apply for up to two different practices per year, and funding requests may not exceed $10,000. All qualifying applications received during the submission period will be evaluated and ranked for approval.
     To obtain an application or to learn more about the Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Program, visit
     Residents of Gilchrist County or Levy County may contact County Forester, Joe MacKenzie at 352-463-3138 or for assistance with the application process.
     The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres.

CFEC prepares for
hurricane season

By Haley E. Webb
Communications Specialist
Central Florida Electric Cooperative
Published May 26, 2018 at 8:28 a.m.
As the 2018 hurricane season begins, Central Florida Electric Cooperative hopes for the best but is prepared for the worst.
     Last August, Hurricane Irma’s destruction to Florida, including CFEC’s territory, was catastrophic, leaving more than 26,000 CFEC members and 78 percent CFEC members without power.
     CFEC has reflected on last year’s event and has gone the extra mile to prepare for this hurricane season for its members, its employees and the community.
     Since last year, CFEC has prepared extensively for this hurricane season through training, meetings and drills. Similarly, CFEC’s wholesale power provider, Seminole Electric Cooperative, has been preparing as well.
     In March, representatives from CFEC participated in a Seminole working group to finalize a 2018 Hurricane Preparedness Guide for the members’ use.
     This guide is available at any CFEC locations. In May, Seminole Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Tampa, held a hurricane preparedness drill using lessons learned from Irma, in coordination with their power plant personnel, to confirm that all Seminole locations are prepared to operate their facilities in a safe, reliable manner throughout potential storms.
     While CFEC and Seminole prepare for this upcoming season, there are also things individuals can do to prepare.
     For the complete checklist, visit
     Along with preparing for storms, individuals should be aware of electrical safety and potential power outages. This unpredictable season requires months of planning, manpower, and preparation—and CFEC is here to make sure that no matter what sort of weather event, the cooperative’s employees will work to restore power as quickly, and as safely, as possible. Visit for an updated outage map.

Health Department warns
of some new costs
for certain new construction

Wesley Asbell of the Florida Department of Health
Wesley Asbell of the Florida Department of Health’s Environmental Health Division for Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties speaks to the Levy County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday (May 22).

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © May 24, 2018 at 3:38 p.m.
Wesley Asbell of the Florida Department of Health warned of some potential new costs for certain new construction, when he presented an update on BMAP at the regular meeting of the Levy County Board of County Commissioners' meeting on Tuesday morning (May 22).


Florida Department of Health Administrator Barbara Locke
Barbara Locke, administrator of the Florida Department of Health units for Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, listens as her colleague attempts to update county leaders about the role of septic tank monitoring and regulation as a method to help preserve Florida’s water coming from freshwater springs.

Levy County Commissioner Rock Meeks
Levy County Commissioner Rock Meeks

Levy County Commissioner Matt Brooks
Levy County Commissioner Matt Brooks

Levy County Commission Chairman John Meeks

Levy County Commission Chairman John Meeks

Levy County Commissioner Lilly Rooks
Levy County Commissioner Lilly Rooks

County Commission Vice Chairman Mike Joyner
County Commission Vice Chairman Mike Joyner

Levy County Property Appraiser Oz Barker (left) and Terance Reed, a Republican who has announced his intention to seek election to the seat held by Commissioner Rock Meeks, listen at the County Commission meeting on Tuesday. The only other candidate (not already in office) who has announced an intention to seek election to the Levy County Commission so far is Ryan Bell. Bell, is seeking the seat currently held by County Commissioner Lilly Rooks.

     Asbell who is the environmental health division director for the Florida Department of Health in Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, stressed to the county commissioners that this potential $15,000 to $17,000 average cost to improve certain septic systems is only for new construction on property that is smaller than one acre, and it is only required in primary focus areas where the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is attempting to reduce nitrogen levels to freshwater springs in Florida.
     On Thursday, Asbell said he can’t pinpoint an exact cost because there is a range of systems that help reduce nitrogen content. The upper end of these systems, he said, could be in the $15,000 to $17,000 range; however, as the need for improving septic systems in Florida continues, the demand may create more competitive pricing.
     Another point Asbell stressed for the County Commission is that only certain areas near spring basins are going to be affected.
     The current best estimate now is 2,300 parcels Levy County would be in this area of concern, and not all of those parcels are buildable anyway. Levy County Property Appraiser Osborn “Oz” Barker said there are about 47,000 total parcels in Levy County.
     In Gilchrist County, Asbell said there are an estimated 2,500 parcels in the area of concern by the DEP for nitrogen-output reduction. And, Asbell said, these mandates are only for new construction on property that is smaller than one acre within those 2,500 parcels in Gilchrist County that are a focus of the DEP.
     A Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) is the primary tool for implementing a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).
    After a TMDL has been established for an impaired water body a BMAP is designed to implement restoration strategies that will sufficiently reduce the pollutant concentrations to meet that TMDL.
     Florida is home to more large (first and second magnitude) springs than any other state in the union. Springs support ecosystems, flow into rivers and offer many recreational opportunities.
     Levy County Commission Chairman John Meeks said he sees at some point in the future where he will receive a telephone call from a person who has saved every penny they could so that they can build a new house on less than one-acre of property, and then they find an unanticipated cost for a septic system crushes that dream.
     Asbell reminded the county leader that this state law is to help protect springs, and fresh water, and that the Florida Department of Health can work with people who are building in these areas so that they can better understand the system they need to install.
     There is no BMAP in Dixie County, Asbell said, because there are no springs affected by septic tanks in that county, according to the DEP.
     During the meeting Tuesday, Asbell had wanted to show the County Commission a DEP map that is interactive. That shows the current areas of concern in regard to springs in Florida. This map and service can be seen by clicking HERE. Among the areas that are of concern is the unrecorded subdivision known as Jemlands in Levy County. Therefore, new construction of a house in that part of Levy County will require a more expensive septic system than just a traditional septic tank and drainfield.

     An excellent starting point for people interested in researching the DEP site in regard to spring protection can be seen by clicking HERE.


Levy County business
is seen as growing

Nature Coast (Levy County) Economic Development Council Executive Director David Pieklik

Story and Photo
By Jeff M. Hardison © May 24, 2018 at 2:38 p.m.
Updated May 25, 2018 at 1:58 p.m.
Nature Coast (Levy County) Economic Development Council Executive Director David Pieklik told everyone at the regular meeting of the Levy County Board of County Commissioners' meeting on Tuesday morning (May 22) that he perceives a trend of positive growth and economic development in Levy County.
     In about the whole of the seven years of Pieklik has served as the director of the Development Council, he said, the activity from March to May was the most he has seen.
     Dolphin Outdoor Power Equipment, formerly of Pompano Beach, has purchased property and existing structures on U.S. Alt 27 between Bronson and Williston at the corner of Levy County Road xxx.
     County Commission Chairman John Meeks, who is the manager of Bronson Ace Hardware, said this company has been buying hardware there and helping the local economy and workers have been eating at restaurants in Bronson.
     Pieklik said owners of a tech company are looking at property in Williston and Chiefland as they consider locating or relocating there.
     These two companies’ owners, he said, expressed to him that they felt lost in the mass of business interests in the more urban areas of Florida, and they appreciate the rural setting for developing their business ventures more.
     In Levy County, Pieklik sees Williston as being the most inviting urban area with infrastructure to support more new business. There is a municipal airport in Williston, with land ready for development.
     Young Boats of Inglis is considering expansion, Pieklik said, and he plans to speak with owners there to see if there is a method for the government to assist the business with that plan.
     A national hotel chain has been referred to Williston, Pieklik said, because Williston is wanting a hotel to be placed in its city limits.
     Pieklik said warehousing for items sold by Amazon is a hot-selling property concept nowadays. These warehouses have ceilings that are 28-foot or higher, and cover 200,000 square-feet or more. These warehouses are automated so that items are stacked and then moved to ship with robotic devices.
     During Pieklik’s presentation, he asked Williston City Manager Scott Lippmann about available space at the Williston Municipal Airport and Industrial Park.
     The City of Williston's Industrial Park includes more than 2,000 acres of largely land surrounding the Municipal Airport. Williston City Manager Scott Lippmann said there are 600 acres available for development at the Industrial Park and there is one 90-acre section that is the most ready for development of all of the acres.
     The industrial park is the world headquarters of Monterey Boats.
     A&N Corp. operates a 40,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Williston. It specializes in the manufacturing, polishing, cleaning, packing, storage and shipping of high and ultra-high vacuum components.
     Williston welcome companies to locate future in Williston.
     The city is in close proximity to Pinsly Florida Northern Railroad, Williston Municipal Airport, U.S. Highway 19, U.S. Highway 41, U.S. Alt. 27, and Interstate-75.
     For more information on Nature Coast Business Development Council, click HERE.


MONDAY  JUNE 18  6:58 a.m.
Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties

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