Candidates Forum Slated
July 28 at WMHS Cafetorium

Every voter in Florida may want to mark their calendar for July 28 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to be at the Williston Middle High School Cafetorium, because federal, state and Levy County candidates have been invited there for a Candidates' Forum.


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The WMHS Cafetorium is located at the NEW CAMPUS for the school – 350 S.W. 12th Ave., in Williston. A Google search shows the old address for the campus on Noble Avenue (U.S. Alt. 27), which is the current location for the temporary Williston City Hall. There is an unmarked, paved road almost across the street from Williston Peanuts that must be used to reach the school for this forum, because the normal front entrance gate will be closed and locked. This is the entrance that buses use to collect and drop-off students during the school year. Seen in this photo (above) conducting a review of the WMHS Cafetorium (from left) are Citizens for an Engaged Electorate (CEE)/American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) Williston Chapter 912 members Harriett Jones, Drollene Brown, Mignon Craig (seated), and CEE member Michele Belew. They listen while WMHS Confidential Secretary Scarlett McGown explains some of the amenities of the venue. On Saturday, July 28, a candidates’ forum is scheduled to be held there from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Doors will be open to the public at 9:30 a.m. That is when attendees will be able to write their questions to be submitted for the various candidates on the 2018 ballot. All contenders in the following categories have been invited: Federal - United States Senate and United States House of Representative Congress District 2. State - Governor, Commissioner of Agriculture and Florida House of Representatives, District 22; Levy County - County Commission Districts 2 and 4, and School Board, districts 1, 3 and 5. The forum is sponsored by the CEE and Williston Area AARP. Not every candidate has accepted the invitation. Young people from the area will be posing the questions after the candidates introduce themselves at the July 28 event. This candidates’ forum may be the single opportunity for residents to listen to the Levy County candidates and become better informed voters. This forum is scheduled to include timed responses from candidates and it is expected to be fast-paced.

To reach the campus, travel south on U.S. Highway 41 (Southwest Seventh Street) from U.S. Alt. 27 (Noble Avenue) in Williston {There is a McDonald’s at that intersection}. Drive past Regional General Hospital. Go to the traffic light at State Road 121 and continue. The first paved road on the left (east) is unmarked, but it leads to WMHS. That road is more or less opposite from Williston Peanut. The normal front gate for the school will be closed and locked. Therefore, do not turn left at the traffic light as a GPS navigational device may instruct a person to do.
Published July 6, 2018 at 9:48 a.m.
Updated July 11, 2018 at 12:18 p.m.

Photo and Information Provided to by CEE, AARP and School Board Member Chris Cowart
Map modified by Jeff M. Hardison

Inaugural picnic
reflects IRC is innovation

Fourth of July Inglis
Three members of the Inglis Recreation Committee and one liaison from the Inglis City Commission stand in front of the double-water slide inflatable ride on Wednesday (July 4) before the start of the event. They are (from left) IRC members Chris Badiukiewicz, Terri Norton, Janell Caizza and Inglis City Commissioner Betsy Webb.

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © July 4, 2018 at 4:48 p.m.
Restarting a lost tradition in the Inglis area, the Inglis Recreation Committee (IRC) headed up the Community 4th of July event on Wednesday afternoon (July 4).

Fourth of July Inglis
Dan Banton (left), a groundskeeper of the Little League fields, and South Levy Little League President Mike Gilley stand in front of a chain link fence next to one of the fields at South Levy Recreation Park in Inglis. President Gilley is also a member of the IRC, as well as being an active baseball coach for the children.

Fourth of July Inglis
Richard Brown (foreground left) and Steve Speir unpack equipment to be inflated as Fun Factory owner Charlie Frye (right) helps set-up the equipment for use by children.

     Scheduled from noon until 6 p.m. (weather permitting), the gathering involved the IRC; the F&AM Masonic Lodge No.324 of Inglis; the Inglis-Yankeetown Lions Club; the Yankeetown-Inglis Woman's Club; the South Levy Little League Inc. of Inglis; and the Wild Gators LLC of Yankeetown.
     Among the other groups and vendors participating are the Boy Scouts of America; the Girl Scouts of America; the Friends of the Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve; and Custom Quilts and More.
     From the IRC, it was Chris Badiukiewicz, Terri Norton, Janell Caizza, Betsy Webb, Debra Weiss, Mike Gilley, Carlos Robledo and Yuliana Robledo who brought the restart of the Independence Day event back to life for Inglis.
     Charlie Frye, owner of the Fun Factory of Citrus County, set up a giant inflatable slide, and two other significant inflatable rides for children to enjoy. He also brought a dunk tank for use during the fun day. Helping him put up and take down the equipment were Richard Brown and Steve Speir.
     There was plenty of food, drinks and other forms of fun even beyond the inflatables.

Gilchrist Rotary President
Aaron Haynes takes the podium
for a second term

President Aaron Haynes shows the Rotary Coin with words to inspire!

Story and Photos
By Rotarian Holly Creel
Published July 2, 2018 at 7:38 p.m.
     TRENTON --
July 2 at the Woman's Club in Trenton was the first meeting for Gilchrist Rotary President Aaron Haynes as president this term. But wait! Wasn't he the President year before last?


Rotarians Joanne Halter and Bob Clemons collect food donations from our Club for our local food bank.

Treasurer Charlie Smith writing out checks!

Rotarians Amy Owens, Natasha Allen and Jo Buckles

Rotarians Bob Clemons, John Johnson and Todd Gray

     Yes, and now he is back for a second term leading our Club again and we are thrilled to have him return as our leader.
     "Be the Inspiration" is the slogan for Rotary International this year and Aaron challenged us to think about new ways to inspire others, support our community and improve our Club.
     Aaron thanked outgoing President Bob Clemons for such a productive and fun year. Bob's mission was to make Rotary more visible in our community and he achieved that goal and so much more!
     Aaron proposed some exciting changes to our meeting schedule that will increase transparency, productivity and fellowship. We will adopt a breakfast fellowship meeting on the first Wednesday of each month (in lieu of a Monday lunch meeting) and our high school Interact students and other guests will join us.
     Aaron also proposed the second Monday of the month will be a noon board meeting with all Gilchrist Rotarians invited. We will meet on the remaining Mondays of the month at noon with programs hosted by our members, just as we have traditionally done in the past.
     Aaron gave each Board member a coin engraved with The Four Way Test and Service Above Self, our two Rotary mottos and challenged the Board members to go even further in their leadership in our Club. We are excited about Aaron's fresh ideas and enthusiasm and look forward to making this another great year for the Gilchrist Rotary!
     Chef Jason of Chef's Table Bistro served a delicious luncheon of potato salad, hamburgers with all the fixins, baked beans and cake slices. Our next meeting will be Monday, July 9, at the Woman's Club for a Board and member meeting luncheon.

Operation Dry Water starts
strong in North Central Florida

FWC Karen Parker  FWC Rodney Boone
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) North Central Regional Public Information Coordinator Karen Parker and FWC Officer Rodney Boone look out at the peaceful river early Friday afternoon. Later this weekend, that part of the river would be full of boaters enjoying the river as well. The FWC like law enforcement agencies across the United States are making Boating Under the Influence a focus from June 29 through July 1. Of course, BUI is prosecuted all year long

Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © June 30, 2018 at 5:18 p.m.
A two-hour boat tour with members of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Friday afternoon (July 29) showed Operation Dry Water starting well in the North Central Florida region.

In this video, FWC Officer Rodney Boone is piloting a 23-foot long 2017 Boston Whaler powered by a 300-horspower Yamaha engine, which serves as a filming platform as FWC Officer Joe McGrath pilots an 18-foot long 2011 Sea Ark with its 90-horsepower Johnson engine. Riding as passengers with Officer Boone is FWC North Central Regional Public Information Coordinator Karen Parker and Publisher and Owner Jeff M. Hardison. Meanwhile on the vessel being filmed, FWC Lt. Tim Kiss was serving as first mate for Officer McGrath. Both officers Boone and McGrath are captains of the state-owned vessels assigned for their use.

Operation Dry Water
Looking at the Santa Fe River on Friday afternoon shows the surface to be almost as calm as a pond.

Operation Dry Water
Some boats parked Friday afternoon at Ellie Ray's RV Resort and Lounge show a calm before the crowds of the weekend.

Sturgeon Sign
Boaters should notice several warnings about the jumping fish that can hurt people. For more information about sturgeon, click HERE.
This sign reminds boaters that they no longer need to operate at a speed to leave little wake.
Woah Nellie! Pull back on that throttle. This is the start of an area where minimal wake is allowed.

Boat on River
Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge David W. Fina’s boat is noticed cruising on the river Friday afternoon. There is no speed limit on Florida rivers. However there are minimal wake areas, and if a person causes damage, injury or death from improper boat operations, there can be remedies for victims.

A water-skier demonstrates his skill at the sport on the river.

FWC Boats
FWC Officer Joe McGrath and Lt. Tim Kiss approach the other FWC vessel in the area.

FWC Boats
FWC Officer Joe McGrath (left) and FWC Lt. Tim Kiss

Fletcher Spring Santa Fe River

Fletcher Spring Santa Fe River
Known by some people as Fletcher Spring, this body of clear water feeds into the Santa Fe River, which after several weeks of relatively heavy rain is brown with tannic acid and other soluble materials.

Fletcher Spring Santa Fe River

Fletcher Spring Santa Fe River
The brown of the river can be seen up against the clear spring water.

River Spring Dog
This dog was rescued. Her owners say she is a part of the family and they love her.

Confluence Santa Fe Suwannee River
This is one view of the confluence where the Suwannee River and the Santa Fe River meet. Other than being a great place for boaters to congregate and swim, sturgeon are seen jumping here on occasion.

This tree limb in the river near the bank is not viewed as a navigational obstacle.

Fletcher Spring Santa Fe River
Three freshwater turtles in the lower right corner of this photo are among the many creature in the river, near the river or under the river water. Manatees, alligators, many types of fish and other animals need the river to live. All life requires water.

One small turtle is captured digitally.


     FWC Officer Rodney Boone and FWC North Central Regional Public Information Coordinator Karen Parker (Lake City) showed a visiting journalist parts of the Santa Fe River and the Suwannee River next to parts of Suwannee, Lafayette and Gilchrist counties.
     Launching from the privately-owned ramp at Sandy Point in Suwannee County near Branford, the river tour showed areas where boaters, fishermen, swimmers, water-skiers, raft-riders and others are bound to enjoy the two rivers during the period known as Operation Dry Water, as well as throughout the year – with a concentration during the late spring to late summer months.
     Boaters, skiers and swimmers (and waders) enjoyed the rivers and springs of the area on that Friday afternoon.
     Officer Boone guided the 2017 Boston Whaler Guardian with its 300-horsepower Yamaha engine along the waterways. He joined scores of other state law enforcement officers participating in Florida, as in states across the nation, in Operation Dry Water.
     Early Friday afternoon, boat traffic on the Santa Fe and Suwannee was relatively light. Likewise, the odds of any person being intoxicated while operating a vessel on those fine rivers was also low.
     That Boston Whaler with a capacity to carry a maximum of nine passengers (relatively small and light passengers at that number), glided through the water with great ease. At that time and place, the rivers were not too high, but a smidgeon higher than normal.
     With three average-sized adults aboard, the estimated maximum speed of that boat is about 55 m.p.h. There are no maximum speed limits on Florida rivers; however, there are areas of those two rivers where the FWC has reached agreement with the various boards of county commissioners to have enforceable ordinances requiring minimum wakes to be made.
     To create a small wake, the reasonable boat operator puts the vessel at idle speed. When the Suwannee River Water Management District determines zones of those two rivers are at flood stage, the state institutes idle speed on them and the FWC enforces that law.
     Hence, the danger from jumping sturgeon seemed a bit reduced. Still, there is that danger in the summer.
     In addition to the Sandy Point boat launch area with its $5 per-boat fee, people launch at Ellie Ray's RV Resort and Lounge, which like Sandy Point is near Branford (Suwannee County).
     Officer Boone said there may be as many as 100 people launching boats from Sandy Point during each of the next two Saturdays, and maybe even on the Fourth of July (Wednesday). Another 50 boats each day out of Ellie Ray’s, add to other boaters going down to the rivers from boat launches up and down both rivers to create heavy boating traffic anticipated.
     Not only does the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission help conserve natural resources like fish and wildlife for people to enjoy, including through harvesting or taking, but the FWC’s state law enforcement officers also protect life and property by helping people exercise safe practices.
     The uppermost mission in that regard during Operation Dry Water was arresting people suspected of Boating Under the Influence. Just as a person operating a motorized land vehicle can cause destruction, injury and death, so too can a human operating a vessel.
     When the person behind the steering wheel of a land-based vehicle or the ship’s wheel is intoxicated on alcohol or other drugs, he or she is not as capable to guide those machines in contrast with a sober person. Therefore, Florida’s lawmakers created methods to persuade those individuals who may be so-inclined, to not make that choice.
     Law enforcement agencies and their officers practice the methods to compel people to abide by the law, or given they choose the other choice, to lose various amounts of cash, freedom and other resources.
     While out and about, up and down certain stretches of the two rivers, Officer Boone explained his means to help the public remain safe while enjoying the state’s natural resources.
     After Operation Dry Water concludes, results are anticipated to be shared from the FWC.

For more about Operation Dry Water, click HERE.

2017 Reportable Boating Accidents
     In 2017, there were five reportable boating accidents in Dixie County and one accident in Levy County and Gilchrist County.
     There were zero reported boating fatalities in 2017 in the Tri-County Area.
     Alachua County had one fatality in 2017. Marion County had zero fatalities. Columbia County and Citrus County each had zero fatalities.
     To see the whole 14 pages of information and pictures from the FWC concerning 2017 boating accidents, click HERE.


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