For Instant, Up-To-Date Weather,
Click on the Icon to the Right  >>>>>>

See News And Human Interest Stories
On's Seven Pages


Memorial Display
Chiefland Farmer's Flea Markety Memorial Day Display
Sonny and Lydia Griffeth, owners of the Chiefland Farmer's Flea Market, put up this display to honor veteran who died while in military service.

Chiefland Farmer's Flea Market Memorial Day Display
This is at the front entrance to the Flea Market on the west side of U.S. Highway 19 a bit north of the intersection with U.S. Highway 129 in Chiefland. The wind was blowing both ways within a few minutes on Thursday afternoon (May 23) at the Flea Market.

Photos by Jeff M. Hardison © May 23, 2019 at 7:39 p.m.


More Below This Ad

Ad for Gilchrist County Tourist Development Council

Campaign to help
community's health
gets a shot in the arm;

Treatments to continue;
Prognosis looks promising

Don't Vape
Cedar Key Vice Mayor Sue Colson and Kristina Zachry, a community health advocate with the QuitDoc Foundation, provide a photo opportunity after the event late Monday afternoon (May 20).

Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © May 22, 2019 at
     CEDAR KEY --
Cedar Key Vice Mayor Sue Colson began a series of informative sessions Monday afternoon (May 21) as a way to influence the community toward better health as a whole.

In this video, Kristina Zachry mentions there is no safe level of nicotine use.

Don't Vape In Cedar Key
Kristina Zachry looks at one of the slides as she speaks about this epidemic in America.

Tobacco Free Florida and the Florida Department of Health provided this graphic to explain e-cigarettes.

Don't Vape In Cedar Key
Kristina Zachry holds up a vial of the flavored nicotine.


     The first in this series of talks was about using electronic cigarettes, by manufacturers such as Juul (pronounced “jewel”).
     While some children and their parents may believe inhaling “water vapor” through these devices is safe, Kristina Zachry, a community health advocate with the QuitDoc Foundation, explained there are a number of dangers to using this drug-infusing device. Vaping, or Juuling is dangerous, she said, for several reasons.
     Colson, who is not just a representative of the townspeople on Cedar Key City Council but is a Registered Nurse as well, wants the townsfolk to be healthy in every manner -- physically, mentally, spiritually (or whatever floats your boat for the non-spiritual) and to become an even more caring community than it already has become known to be.
     Colson has seen a number of serious incidents – including a suspected double DUI manslaughter crash, a murder and other incidents in Cedar Key within a relatively short time recently. Those deaths and other harmful events led her to start a program of free community education so that Cedar Key as a whole, with as many residents and visitors as possible, working to counteract dangerous and destructive behavior that leads to property loss, property damage, injuries and as in the worst scenarios recently – death – will plaque the community less.
     The very next informative session is titled “Creating A Caring Community” and it is being given by Elder Options as part of its Savvy Caregiver program. This program is to help people understand memory loss and how to help care for neighbors and caregivers.
     It is set for Thursday, June 13, from 10 a.m. to noon on the second floor of the Cedar Key Public Library, 460 Second St.

     Among the many people attending the session on vaping were Cedar Key Police Chief Virgil Sandlin, Cedar Key Police Lt. Neil Polimeni, Cedar Key School Principal Kathy Lawrence, CKS School Resource Deputy Julie Gironda of the Levy County Sheriff’s Office and representatives of the two convenience stores owned by a Stoney Smith on the island.
     Zachry, who earned a master’s degree in public health, shared with listeners facts about electronic cigarettes.
     Vaping is not inhaling water vapor, she explained. It is inhaling an aerosol created by a small machine that superheats a chemical gel that includes nicotine. There are packets that contain the essence of marijuana as well, and they can be vaped.
     There are more than 460 e-cigarette brands on the market, although Juul has the lion’s share of the market now.
     Heavily marketed with a target toward young people, Zachry said this new method for the tobacco industry to hook people on nicotine is showing exponential growth for use by children, teens and young adults.
     Youngsters have become unpaid spokespeople who are endorsing Juul as something that people should use, Zachry said, as they have created sites on Facebook, Snapchat and other social media outlets.
     “There are children on social media showing themselves using these products,” Zachry said.
     Juul formerly held launch parties with live music, rooftop movies and other enticements for young people in New York City, Miami, San Francisco and other large cities that are influential for trendsetting. There were 25 Juul sampling events in 2015, she said.
     The Juul marketers find models, stars, musicians and others who young people look to for direction on how to be part of a new trend.
     “This is the same playbook tobacco used generations ago with our adults,” Zachry said, “using celebrities to endorse they’re products. Now they’re using Instagram and models to influence our children.”
     More than 56 percent of teens are noticing the advertisement flyers in convenience stores, gas stations, grocery stores and other retail outlets, Zachry said, as Juul and other e-cigarette companies promote this newer version of ingesting nicotine.
     As a prevention specialist who works with young people, Zachry said she is disconcerted by the way the tobacco industry has used flavoring to attract the youth to use these products. Flavors include cotton candy, Lifesavers fruit-flavored candy, mango, mocha and other attractive tastes.
     People who first smoke or use dip find the taste to be objectionable, Zachry said. The industry knows children will not use something that tastes that repulsive.
     Nicotine is the addictive additive put into all e-cigarettes, Zachry said. Heavy metals such as nickel, chromium and lead, and formaldehyde, used to preserve dead bodies, are among the things added to e-cigarette fluids Zachry said.
     Some people might argue that e-cigarettes are better than smoking, Zachry said, but most of these children have never smoked cigarettes. They’re feeding their tobacco addiction through e-cigarettes, she added.
     The only fair comparison, she said, is inhaling e-cigarettes’ aerosols compared with inhaling clean air.
     Nicotine kills. Zachry brought enough liquified nicotine to kill everyone in the room if they ingested it in that form. These little packets can be thrown as litter once they are used, and a pet dog being taken on a walk may bite into and be killed from nicotine poisoning,
     If these products look and taste like candy, she said, it is very easy for a child to mistake them for that.
     There are no long-term studies on the affect from inhaling the aerosol from e-cigarettes that includes chemicals, she said.
     “We’re basically all lab rats for the tobacco industry and the way they are marketing these products,” Zachry said.
     The heating mechanism in e-cigarettes, which includes lithium batteries, have a tendency to explode, she said. In 2018, a Florida man was killed while vaping when the e-cigarette he was smoking exploded, Zachry said.
     In February of this year, she added, a 24-year-old Texas man was the second death. An e-cigarette exploded and tore his carotid artery, and he suffered a massive heart attack, she said.
      To a report in April shows that dozens of young people have suffered seizures after vaping, Zachry said. This results from the high amount of nicotine in these products, she said, and the young brains are not able to cope with that influence.
      Zachry said the Florida voters approved and the legislators adopted the law that becomes effective July 1, so that wherever combustible tobacco products cannot be used, e-cigarettes’ also cannot be used.
     The Centers for Disease Control notes on its website “Youth use of tobacco products in any form is unsafe, irrespective of whether it is smoked, smokeless, or electronic. If cigarette smoking continues at the current rate among youth in this country, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 will die early from a smoking-related illness. That’s about 1 of every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger alive today.”
     The Food and Drug Administration has declared e-cigarette use to be an epidemic, Zachry said.
     Zachry said the FDA is dragging its feet in bringing manufacturers and distributors under control to help prevent children from using Juul and other e-cigarettes.
     One thing the community can do is to learn about vaping, she said.
     “We can let people know this is not harmless water vapor,” she said. “We can let people know vaping juices are incredibly dangerous for young people not only to have, but to ingest or have accidently spilled on them. It could absolutely kill somebody in our community.”
     She recommends setting a tobacco-free example. She recommends helping people find methods to quit using tobacco products.
     “There are seven Food and Drug Administration-approved medications to help people,” she said. “quit nicotine in tobacco addiction safely. These include the gum, the patch, lozenges.  There’s an inhaler. There are several different types of things that are approved by the FDA to help people quit. E-cigarettes are not approved by the FDA to help people quit using tobacco products.”
     E-cigarette are designed by the tobacco industry to create the next generation of people addicted to nicotine, she said. These products are not safe, she said. They are not harmful.
     Both representatives from the two convenience stores owned by Stoney Smith on Cedar Key said they check IDs to assure a person is old enough to purchase the vape devices.

Don't Vape In Cedar Key
CKS Principal Kathy Lawrence holds up two fingers to show how many vape pens were confiscated in this school year at CKS.

     CKS Principal Lawrence shred a little bit about vaping at the school. So far, she said, there have been two vape pens confiscated.
     “At our bonfire for homecoming,” Principal Lawrence said, “a parent had a vape pen. They came in the office the next day and said ‘I lot my vape pen last night at the ballgame.’”
     The school principal reminded everyone that CKS is 100 percent tobacco product free, including e-cigarettes.
      That missing vape pen was found by a student who used it and then turned it into the office to return to the parent, Lawrence said.
     The principal said she thinks some students’ parents may not be aware of the school’s tobacco-free policy on the campus for after-school events. She said some parents are vaping at baseball games.
     Principal Lawrence said it is against the law for anyone younger than 18 years old to smoke, chew tobacco or vape. When students are caught violating the law on campus, it is first treated as a school disciplinary action, and then there is the question of whether to involved law enforcement as well, she said.
     Vice Mayor Colson said that if a person sees another person vaping at a school event, they do not need to approach the person. They should see Principal Lawrence or LCSO School Resource Deputy Gironda.
     Colson added that if a person sees an adult buying vape items for children in Cedar Key, contact Chief Sandlin or Lt. Polimeni.
     “You don’t have to interact (with the offender),” Colson said. “You don’t have to be the bad guy.”
      Colson said as people are walking their dogs and they witness a child putting a vape pen under a bush before school, or getting one after school from under the bush where they left it, then that dog-walker should tell the CKPD.
     “That helps us,” she said. “You have to tell.”
      Lawrence said the children she has spoken with about vaping are attracted by the fruity flavor, rather than the nicotine.
     When Lawrence finds what could be marijuana-infused oil, that is smoked in vape pens, she sends it to the lab for confirmation.
     Lt. Polimeni said nicotine, propylene and a vegetable-based oil are three main ingredients in many of these vape juices.
     If a person sees an activity that appears to be against the law, he recommends approaching the person and telling them they are violating the law. Instead, call the CKPD.

Don't Vape In Cedar Key
Lt. Neil Polimeni said this particular vape machine heats the fluid to 395 degrees Fahrenheit. By heating oils and flavoring chemicals so much, it may be making them into cancer-causing agents.

     He mentioned that the FDA has allowed until 2022 for the vape oil manufacturers to be forced to tell what they are putting in the fluids that are superheated and then inhaled in an aerosol form.
     “We could lose a generation, health-wise, not knowing what’s taking place,” Lt. Polimeni said.
     Lt. Polimeni said that although there is some ability of retailers to curb buyers younger than 18 years old, the online sales – especially of flavored vape oils, is not as easily regulated. Children can use a parent’s ID if they borrow a wallet for a short time.
     The mission of the city and of the Police Department, as far as this particular epidemic, Lt. Polimeni said, is not for members of the public to confront or challenge anyone.
     Instead, if a person sees something, call the Cedar Key Police Department and provide the information. Lt. Polimeni said that when an officer goes to investigate, he or she will not disclose the name of the source of the information.
     There is anonymity for people who call to report this type of activity, Lt. Polimeni said.
     The lieutenant said Cedar Key is a small community that has many caring people in it.
     Vice Mayor Colson said that these community information sessions are part of plan to help improve the health of Cedar Key, as well as to reduce the potential for destructive forces to take tolls as often as in the past five months.

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.


WWII vet speaks
with fellow Rotarians

Gilchrist County Rotary Club
Rotarian John Johnston, in his VFW Cootie hat, explaining his volunteer work at the Veterans Home Center

Story and Photo
By Holly Creel, Rotarian
Published May 14, 2019 at 4:09 p.m.
     TRENTON --
Service Above Self is the motto that reminds Rotarians to put performing service for others as the utmost priority.
     At the Rotary Club of Gilchrist County’s weekly meetings, usually held at the Woman's Club in Trenton, Rotarians are encouraged to share examples of where they have done good for others in the community. John Johnston recently described an example of how he did some good for his fellow veterans.
     John, a WWII Veteran, is a member of the VFW and he explained to us why their VFW subgroup is called "The Cooties." In WWI the soldiers slept on bags made of straw and those bags were most often full of bedbugs, or cooties. That is how his subgroup of veterans took on the name of Cooties.
     The Cooties recently went to Gainesville and spent the day at The Veterans Home Center, a facility that provides shelter and training for homeless Veterans. Supporting this Center with funding to train homeless veterans to get a new lease on life is something Rotarian and veteran John Johnston is passionate about.
     John explained that too often, when veterans are discharged from their time of military service, they have difficulty transitioning back into civilian life. In military service one’s lodging, meals, electricity and other basic needs are provided. Sometimes when returned to civilian life, the changes and challenges can be overwhelming and the veteran may not know how to provide for him or herself, so they end up on the streets, homeless and afraid.
     The Veterans Home Center in Gainesville has 45 rooms and provides lodging and special training to help the discharged veteran men and women get a job and learn to pay for their daily living expenses.
     They live at the facility for up to three months to acquire the skills to return to society and pay their obligations in civilian life. Every few months a new group of veterans comes in for the support and training. What a wonderful service to provide for those that have served our country and are now in need of help.
     John Johnston, the Gilchrist Rotary thanks you for what you do for our club, and for your service in WWII and what you now do for our fellow veterans!


Animal shelter improvements
celebrated at groundbreaking

Groundbreaking LCAS Shelter
(from left) Architect Eugene Russell Davis, Mary Flickinger, County Commissioner Lilly Rooks, Bob Echols, LCAS Director David Weatherford, Commission Chairman John Meeks, County Commissioner Rock Meeks, County Commissioner Mike Joyner, County Procurement Coordinator Alicia M. “Ali” Tretheway, Jimmy Jones and Commission Vice Chairman Matt Brooks are in this picture of breaking ground.
In this version of the ceremony, it is (from left) Mary Flickinger, County Commissioner Lilly Rooks, Bob Echols, LCAS Director David Weatherford, Commission Chairman John Meeks, County Commissioner Rock Meeks, County Commissioner Mike Joyner, County Procurement Coordinator Alicia Tretheway and County Commission Vice Chairman Brooks.

Story, Photos and Videos
By Jeff M. Hardison © May 8, 2019 at 11:29 p.m.
All Copyrights Protected
A groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday afternoon (May 7) heralded the official start of a project to add 50 more kennels for dogs at the Levy County Animal Services (LCAS) compound, located near the Solid Waste Transfer site between Bronson and Williston.

In this video, the people are breaking ground in the traditional manner.

In this video, LCAS Director David Weatherford guides a machine to break ground in a bigger and more functional manner. Construction Supervisor Jimmy Jones moved vehicles to allow Weatherford to accommodate a request from one journalist for this form of groundbreaking.

Levy County Animal Shelter Groundbreaking
In this still shot, LCAS Director David Weatherford starts a machine to break ground.

Levy County Animal Shelter Groundbreaking
In this still shot, LCAS Director David Weatherford starts a second pass to break ground. Construction Supervisor Jimmy Jones is in the background with a white hardhat and dark green shirt.

     Levy County Supervisor of Construction and Maintenance Jimmy Jones served as the emcee for the event. Construction and Maintenance Assistant Chuck Cook opened the event with a prayer and LCAS Director David Weatherford led the Pledge of Allegiance.
      Jones, who is leading the county’s efforts at construction of the new facility, said he feels honored that Weatherford invited him to speak at this groundbreaking ceremony.
     This significant improvement is thanks to a generous donation of Robert M. "Bob" Echols of Ocala, the founder and president of For Our Friends The Animals. The whole project is budgeted in the $220,000 to $300,000 range.
     Echols is donating the lions’ share of the cost, with annual donations promised.
     Echols has already donated enough for the county to build a phenomenal Cat Room in 2016, where prospective owners can look at cats and visit with them before adopting them.
     Click HERE to see the video of the ribbon-cutting for that 2016 event.
     This gentleman has donated to the county to help with tests and vaccines, and surgical equipment to provide for the medical needs of the stray or abandoned dogs and cats of the county – to help improve the odds of them being rescued or adopted.
     During the ceremony Tuesday, Jones also introduced some other members of the whole team who brought this dream to become reality. Architect Eugene Russell Davis was able to take drawings on napkins to make them into the pages of designs for construction of the facility, Jones said.
     This structure is more than just 50 humane kennels. There are also support rooms for the various needs of the LCAS.

Levy County Animal Shelter Groundbreaking
Commissioner Rock Meeks (left) speaks to Construction Supervisor Jimmy Jones before the ceremony. County Commissioner Lilly Rooks was noted as being the most involved commissioner in regard to helping animals.

     Every member of the Levy County Board of County Commissioners -- Chairman John Meeks, Vice Chairman Matt Brooks, Commissioner Rock Meeks, Commissioner Lilly Rooks and Commissioner Mike Joyner were thanked for their part in the project.
     Jones recognized County Coordinator Wilbur Dean, Procurement Coordinator Alicia "Ali" Tretheway, and members of the LCAS team – Director Weatherford, County Veterinarian Dr. Darlene Esler, DVM, Crystal Pruitt, Morgan Anderson, Animal Control Officer Nathan Mercer, and Animal Control Officer Lamar Sears for their work.
     Mary Flickinger, a volunteer who helps with animals, was described by Jones as “a good person inside and out,” as he introduced her.
     Flickinger introduced Echols, noting that she considers him to be “a wonderful humanitarian.” She mentioned the Cat Room that he gave to Levy County in 2016, and she spoke of the countless contributions he has given to help animals in Levy County – right up to the ground being broken to build 50 new kennels.

Levy County Animal Shelter Groundbreaking
Mary Flickinger introduces Bob Echols.

Levy County Animal Shelter Groundbreaking
Bob Echols watches as the program starts.

Levy County Animal Shelter Groundbreaking
Jimmy Jones welcome Bob Echols to the podium.

Levy County Animal Shelter Groundbreaking
Bob Echols explains why he sees helping animals as an important aspect of being human.

Levy County Animal Shelter Groundbreaking
Architect Eugene Russell Davis of Gainesville listens to the introductions of significant members of the team who made this plan for the future structure come to be.

     Flickinger said she is honored to know Echols, whose kindness and giving shows him standing tall in the community. She expressed her heartfelt gratitude for his donations to help the animals.
     After Echols took the podium, he explained that the foundation he created – For Our Friends The Animals – is predicated on some of the philosophy of Dr. Albert Schweitzer.
     Dr. Schweitzer (14 Jan. 14, 1875 – Sept. 4, 1965) was a theologian, an organist, a writer, a humanitarian, a philosopher, as well as being a physician. As a Lutheran, Schweitzer challenged both the secular view of Jesus as depicted by the historical-critical method current at this time, as well as the traditional Christian view.
     Echols said Dr. Schweitzer held a strong reverence for life.
     “Dr. Schweitzer believed that we humans, because of our intelligence and our organizational capacity,” Echols said, “should show a compassionate caring for all life; but most especially should be friends to the animals, sharing the blessings of the Merciful on the animals.”
     Echols said it has been his honor and pleasure to see the level of care and compassion the people of Levy County show for the animals that abide within the four corners of this county.
     “It is a privilege, I assure you, to be a very small part in getting this building off the ground and ready to go,” Echols said.
     Echols expressed his thanks to Construction Supervisor Jones for this gentleman’s work in assuring the county could dedicate some level of manpower to complete the project. Echols then thanked the county as a whole for allowing him to spread Dr. Schweitzer’s view of a compassionate, caring reverence for life.
     Jones told that he and Assistant Director Chuck Cook, and workers Brock Brower, Josue Roque, Joe LaLonde and Dean Shouse are going to work on this project, which Jones is hoping to have ready for a certificate of occupancy in six months.
     Jones, Cook, LaLonde, Ben Matthews, William Stalvey, and Brian Cannon are working on refurbishing the former Bronson High School structures to move Levy County Tax Collector Linda Fugate, Property Appraiser Osborn “Oz” Barker and other staff out of the courthouse.
     The work on the former school, to help alleviate growth and security issues in the Levy County Courthouse, Jones said, is planned to be completed by October.

Click HERE to read the Feb. 20 story about the meeting where the Levy County Commission agreed to accept the donation from Bob Echols and work toward building improvements to the dog and cat facility for the people of Levy County. There are also diagrams of the structure in this story published in February.


Click on the ad above to be
notified via email about News Alerts.


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
Your weather just got better.

FRIDAY  MAY 24   7:19 a.m.
Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties

Click on the box above to go to the RGH ad on the Community Page.


CF Timber Harvesting Equipment Program



Ad For Steamers Clam Bar And Grill

Click On Ads To Go To Websites


City Of Williston Florida

Ad For Harriett Downs Real Estate April 27, 2019

 Ad For Chiefland Farmers Flea Market


Jim King Realty House For Sale

Click on ads to go to websites.

Camp Valor

Tri-County Saw Shop Ad in


Cash Munny Ad On



First UMC Chiefland Holy Week HardisonInk


Elder Options of North Central Florida


Ad For Edward Jones - Sheila Smith of Newberry
Click On Ads To Visit Websites


Cedar Key Island


Bronson Lub in Levy County Florida


Capital City Investments Danny Etheridge

Click on the ad above
to contact Danny Etheridge, CRPC.


Tri County Community Resource Center
Click on ads to go to websites.


Back Door Antiques Williston Florida Ad

Click Ads To See Websites

South Levy Marketplace Inglis, Florida




Central Florida Electric Cooperative Ad In
Click on Ads to Visit Websites


Archive Levy Dixie Gilchrist counties

Please Click On The Above Ad To Go To The Archived Stories And Photos.