Family Magazine Spring 2020

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Issue 02: Volume 06 SPRING 2020



Remembering James “Mr. Mont” Montgomery

The Watson Family RAIL SPUR


North Florida Mega Industrial Park Now a Reality

Independent Living | Assisted Living | Memory Care

“Life Under The Canopy"

Luxury Senior Living Community • All Day Dining • Daily Happy Hour • Hair Salon • Pet Friendly Find Us On Facebook! License #AL 13230

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213 NW Gleason Drive, Lake City, FL 32055



Spring has fully arrived - and all the promises of rebirth we hold dear during this season are certainly appreciated. Our staff has enjoyed bringing to light the wonderful achievements of our North Florida community. A Nutrien family, the Kennington’s are highlighted on how generations have enjoyed the benefits of this global business, in our very own backyard. Wilson Park at Lake DeSoto in Columbia County is an endeavor reaching fruition this past February with the Olustee Festival being the first of many activities to be held on the grounds. The City of Lake City is to be commended on the undertaking of a project of this magnitude. Remember the Rail Spur needing to be approved in order to move forward for the North Florida Industrial Mega Park? It is now a reality and the impact is long-reaching. A Spring Edition would not be complete without fashion and Arm Candy fills this need. Bracelets are always stunning in the summer, accenting the fabulous colors that bring such delight to all of us. Find out the trendiest nail polish shade that will accent your new bracelet in this edition also. Enjoy ‘Simmer All Day’ with our cover family, the Watson’s. They share the legacy and love of family through a cabin that has been in their family for generations, and how they recently completed its renovation. An amazing story of Australian-Style Thunder Coffeemilk and its jazz playing musician will be enjoyed for sure, as well as others.

Mantha Mantha Young Publisher

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PUBLISHER Mantha Young DIRECTOR OF CREATIVE DESIGN Sarah Nichols DIRECTOR OF MARKETING Shellie Young CONTRIBU TORS Joy H. Coleman Jeweliana Register Curtis Holly Frazier Tammy Johns Emily Pazel Anne Smith Hayli Zuccola

Member of the Florida Magazine Association

“The earth laughs in flowers.”

North Central Florida Advertiser, Inc 358 NW Main Blvd, Lake City, FL 32055 (386) 752-8280

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part of any text, photography, or illustration only with written consent of the publisher. Family Magazine, its officers, staff members or contributors do not warrant the accuracy of or assume a responsibility for any of the material contained herein. All submissions, text, and photography received by Family Magazine has been considered authorized for publication.




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Mr. Mont—Even though he’s gone, his memory will The Season’s Sweetest Arm Candy......................6 live on in the stories those Philodendrons.....................10 who knew him love to share.

Simmer All Day...............17 Trending Nail Shades.........24 Summer Happenings......................26 Family Spring-Time Fun......................28

Local Day Trips



Day Trippin’..................................34 Australian-Style Thunder Coffeemilk............39 Columbia County Rail Spur.....................43 Wild About Salmon...............48


Rail Spur

Wild About Salmon


A key development in Columbia County at the 2,600-acre mega industrial park – the beginning construction phase of a rail spur that will run across U.S. Highway 90 and connect local businesses with the rest of the world.

A New Caffeine Fix Has Hit the Shelves.


McAlpin Community Club....................50 Eco-Gardening......................52 Miracle’s Sweet Shop...............56 Nutrien................61 Teachers of The Year.........................66 Are You Emotionally Available?...............70 Suwannee High School Art Students.......72 Welcome To The Roaring 20’s..........76 Wilson Park Downtown................78 Scholarships for Student Growth.......80 A Lake City Legacy............86 Blue Monster Cupcakes.......92 Homelessness VS. Pandhandlers..............94 Birthday Gifts for Kids....................98

Family Pets

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On the Cover: The Watson Family shares a story of love and legacy through the renovation of a family cabin. Holly Frazier Photography

Find Your Path at FGC.............100 Spring Picnic Recipes...............102 Fur Family................106 Include Kids In The Kitchen............108

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Lila Jean Thomas

McKinney Blanton

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This Season’s Sweetest Arm Candy

Lynn Sullivan

By Jeweliana Register Curtis

to mix and match, r life! Whether you choose he in ng bli le litt a s ed ne outfit. From Every lady can instantly elevate any ets cel bra lo, so e on ar st friend! stack a few or we ets are definitely a girl’s be cel bra , els jew t ou ed ng simple bangles to bli bracelet pieces from season with these stunning s thi me ga y nd ca arm ensemble. Up your g a touch of style to any din ad for ct rfe pe s, ler Chastain Jewe

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MARIANA JEWELRY Live life in color! Mariana is known for having bold, statement pieces that are oh-so-sparkly. The bracelets come in a variety of styles and color combinations, and each one is equally as stunning as the next. The best part? These bracelets stack together beautifully!

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Indoor plants have a tendency to add a splash of refreshing life into any room throughout your home. So, what better way to start your indoor collection of plants than with a philodendron, an easy-to-grow, tropical houseplant that’s known for its vast variety and simple beauty. “They are a durable plant species, and some can even grow outside,” said Chris Carter, owner of Nobles Greenhouse & Nursery, located in Live Oak. “They are easy to take care of, so they’re great for your house or the office.” With over 400 different varieties of plants, philodendrons are one of the largest plant species. Which one is right for you?

Popular Philodendron Plants: Sweetheart or Heartleaf: The Philodendron hederaceum, also known as the “Sweetheart” or “Heartleaf Plant”, has glossy, green heartshaped leaves that can trail or climb up to around four feet. Pink Princess or Blushing Philodendron:

The Philodendron Erubescens holds the nicknames “Pink Princess” or “Blushing Philodendron” due to its beautiful, exoticlooking leaves that come in a variety of black or green sprinkled with pink.

Hope Plant or P. Selloum: This type of plant, the Philodendron Bipinnatifidum, also known as the “Hope Plant” is a non-climbing tropical plant that has dramatic-looking leaves that are large with deep lobes. P. Winterbourne: The Philodendron Xanadu,

which also goes by “P. Winterbourne”, is a large, compact houseplant that has leaves similar to the P. Selloum.

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P. Cream Splash or P. Silver Stripe: The

Philodendron Brasil, also known as the “P. Cream Splash” or “P. Silver Stripe” has a green, heart-shaped leaf with some white, cream or lime-colored strips down the middle of the leaf.

Velvet-leaf Philodendron: This type of

plant species, known as the Philodendron Micans, with the nickname of “Velvet-leaf Philodendron”, is a trailing vine with heartshaped leaves that entail a velvety texture.

Pigskin or Naugahyde: The Rugosum Philodendron, also known as the “Pigskin or “Naugahyde” is a rare, exotic plant species with a classic, heart-shaped leaf. However, the leaf is thick and has a rough texture, and is commonly mistaken for a plastic plant. Swiss Cheese Plant: Known as the Monstera Deliciosa, or the “Swiss Cheese Plant”, this philodendron has huge leaves with large splits in them, and is a non-climbing plant species.

By Emily Pazel

Care Instructions

“Most Philodendrons need low-light areas to grow.” —Chris Carter, Nobles Greenhouse Vining or Non-Climbing Although there is a variety of philodendron plant species, the two main types of these houseplants can be divided into to two categories: vining or non-climbing. When buying a vining philodendron for yourself or as a gift for a friend, you should make sure that it comes with a post or other supporting structure to climb on or you will need to install one yourself. It’s also become popular to place them in hanging pots from the ceiling or along the wall. The most popular types of vining philodendrons include the blushing philodendron and the heartleaf philodendron. Non-climbing philodendrons, such as the “Hope Plant”, grow upright and typically have a habit of growing out wider than the others. In fact, the width of the nonclimbing plants can be as much as twice their height; so, be sure to give them plenty of leg room to grow.

Due to their easy nature to grow, philodendrons are popular plants to give as presents or gifts. They typically need three basic ingredients: sunlight, water and possibly a little fertilizer every now and again. “Most of these plants only need lowlight areas to grow,” Chris said. “Typically what we tell people is that if there’s a spot in your home where there’s enough light to read a newspaper without any lights on, that’s enough light for your philodendron.” Depending on where you end up keeping your plant, will decide how much water you’ll need to use to keep it alive. If you keep your plant near a fireplace or in the direct line of an air vent, you may need to water your plant more often. “We usually tell our customers that if you can stick your finger in the soil up to your first knuckle and the soil is dry, it’s time for some water,” Chris said. “But in most homes, they can go about a week or more without water.” Chris also mentioned that if you’re the type of person that likes to tinker with plants, philodendrons, especially the vining ones, are easy to clip a little off and replant to give life to another plant.

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arsha Moore is running for Columbia County Tax Collector. A wife, mother and grandmother, Marsha is devoted to her family and her community. Marsha is the proud daughter of the late Bobby Joe Houston and Jerrie Norris Houston. Marsha married her sweetheart, Dewey Moore, 45 years ago and they have built a life they love in their hometown. Together they have two children, Dewey and Michelle, and four sweet grandchildren, Hayleigh, Tyler, Jada and Taylor. A fourth generation citizen of Columbia County, Marsha loves being apart of this small community with southern roots and lots of hospitality. Marsha has been employed with the Columbia County Tax Collector’s Office for over 33 years, working in a variety of areas, including tag and title, property tax and special assessments, concealed weapons, bankruptcy claims and business licensing and taxes. She currently serves as a Certified Florida Collector Assistant, a position upheld by the Florida Department of Revenue, and she also holds the title of Supervisor of Ad-Valorem Tax.

“The more I’m in it and the more people I meet, the more interesting it gets. I’ve always helped people, so I’m always in the office waiting on customers,” Marsha says. “I come from a small farm community and that’s just what you do.” With her experience and passion for seeing the area succeed, Marsha is

Elect Marsha Moore

for Columbia County Tax Collector Photos by Holly Frazier Photography “Anything she puts her mind to, she does it. It doesn’t matter what it is, she’ll do it. Whatever it is, she’s up for the job and she can do it!” - Dewey Moore, Marsha’s husband “I feel deeply in my heart that Marsha wants to give back. She’s deeply rooted in this community.” - Mike Collins “I’ve known Marsha for over 25 years. She’s the most wonderful person to work with, and she’s willing to help anybody and everybody. Marsha is very caring, she works hard and she is family-oriented.” -Betty Koon “I’ve known her my entire life, we both grew up in Columbia County and have always had a working relationship. She has hometown roots and is genuinely interested in serving our community. She’s a friendly, southern person and I believe she would do a great job as Tax Collector.” - Dale Williams

proud to announce her candidacy for Columbia County Tax Collector. Her gumption, drive and genuine spirit are recognized by those around her, and she has been known to always rise above when presented with a challenge. Her goal is simple: to create a cohesive office that best serves the citizens of Columbia County.

“I’ve always helped people, that’s all I know how to do. I’d like to continue to do that, I’m not ready to step back yet,” Marsha expresses. “I hope the good customers I’ve helped over the years will remember me when they come to the polls. It doesn’t matter if you’re blue collar, white collar, working class… If you get out and vote and I get your vote, I’m going to do my best to serve the people in Columbia County.” With her 30+ years of experience, Marsha has watched the evolution of the tax office from pen and paper to completely digital. Her multifaceted outlook and abilities within different departments enable Marsha to engage with customers in every different department and create a team that can better serve the people of Columbia County. “I know that I would do the best of my ability for Columbia County. I love Columbia County, I’ve always been here, and I think this is God’s country. I have so many people that come from elsewhere saying we have such a friendly town and that they just love it here,” Marsha shares. “I want to keep that hometown atmosphere in our office and instill that.” Proven leadership, strong customer service, and the right experience; Columbia County deserves Moore!


Spring 2020 | 13

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Simmer All Day Celebrating Tradition and Making Lasting Memories at Sca Farm By Jeweliana Register Curtis

Holly Frazier Photography

The Watson Family Jennifer, Jimmy and Kyla

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Located in a woodsy, quiet area near the city of Jasper stands a family cabin that has been passed down for nearly seven generations. The picturesque landscape, complete with acres upon acres of hunting land and serene views, is home to a beautiful piece of historic natural Florida that dates back to the mid-1800’s. Hidden by the trees stands Scaff Farms, a plot of land that shines with rich culture and deep community roots. In this special feature, the Scaff family descendents, Jennifer and Jimmy Watson, invite Family Magazine and its readers Scaff Farms has been inherited by to experience five generations of ladies. Jennifer, the magic of will be the sixth, and her daughter, this cabin in the Kyla,will be the seventh generation. woods.

They are so thankful for the blessings their ancestors have sewn into their lives.

Recently renovated, the cabin being showcased is a family heirloom, sitting on Florida land that has been passed down for over a century. It all began with Jennifer Watson’s grandmother’s great grandfather, John Early Scaff, who served in the Civil War as a member of the North Carolina Infantry. After

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fighting the war and being a prisoner of war for years, he decided to settle in Florida, purchasing the land we see today. It was in 1870 that John settled in this area, and he later went on to become a Justice of the Peace, County Commissioner, and a Florida State Representative! Over the years, the land has been passed down to his children and their families to enjoy together and cherish as a part of their lineage. John’s great granddaughter, Marie; Jennifer’s grandmother, was born in the original home on the property.

To this day, Marie loves to visit the farm and reminisce about growing up there. She can still remember picking cotton with her dad and walking over to her grandpa’s house next door as a young girl. Unfortunately, the original structure on this land burned down in a fire years ago, but the two rustic cabins that remain were brought in during the 1990’s. The rich history surrounding this land is now many generations deep, and all members of the family cherish the special time spent here from weekend getaways to holiday celebrations.

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Currently, the cabin is owned by David and Karen Goolsby, Jennifer’s parents. Jennifer and her husband Jimmy are next in line to inherit this family treasure. Previously, the structure was utilized by Jennifer’s great uncle as a hunting lodge, however through the years, the facility was mostly used for storage. In August of last year, it became clear to the family that it was in need of some updating and refurbishing. Construction on the space took around four months, with Jimmy and Jennifer completing the process themselves. From pouring the stunning new natural floor to ripping out existing wall textures to reveal the space as it is today, the family poured their heart and soul into renovating their beloved family cabin. Accented by barn doors, captivating large windows and a modern kitchen, this space is a stunning spot for relaxaing and connecting to nature.

It’s neat to sit here and think that 100 years ago, my ancestors were farming the very land we’re walking on now,” Jennifer shares. “One day when our daughter and her family inherit the place, Kyla can look back and say that her parents did this. She will be the seventh generation owner, and that’s just really special.”

Aside from the spectacular views outside, the cabin is expertly decorated. Featuring special touches and antique decor. Jennifer and Jimmy are both so grateful for the impact Jennifer’s family made on the land over the years, so they wanted to honor their legacy with the renovation. The cabin features many nods to the past and family treasures. Jennifer’s great uncle, Lester Scaff, was the owner of S&S food stores for many years, and their family is so appreciative of the legacy he left. All over the cabin, you’ll witness nods to the beloved S&S, like the metal signs from various stores and the vintage Coca-Cola drink unit. Also on display is a wooden toolbox that was used by Lester Scaff’s father, Stafford Scaff, when he grew cotton and tobacco. Almost everything in the space has a meaning and a purpose, and the whole family loves being reminded of their ancestors when they are creating new memories and traditions at the cabin.

As most people know, remodeling is no easy task, but the Watson family was up for the challenge! Jimmy, aside from his job as a nurse practitioner, is an expert craftsman. He created the glossy, epoxy tables that bring the room to life, along with so many of the signs proudly displayed in the cabin. Producing oneof-a-kind cutting boards and handsome barn doors, Jimmy has a knack for taking natural pieces of wood and outside materials and transforming them into works of art. Jimmy has recently turned his passion project into a side business, Watson Woodworks, creating beautiful custom pieces that compliment any style of home.

“We really enjoyed remodeling this place. I wanted it to still feel rustic but make it more functional. I tried to incorporate as many family pieces as I could. The signs, coolers, toolbox, old saws hanging on the wall, and of course pictures of all the generations before us.

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“We love being out here and getting to experience it all as a family,” Jimmy says. “We’re truly blessed. It’s not about us out here. It’s God first and family second.” Jimmy and Jennifer absolutely love spending time at the cabin with their daughter, Kyla Watson, a high school senior who will be attending Mercer

How beautiful are these custom pieces by Jimmy Watson? We can’t get enough of these gorgeous tables and expertly crafted decor items. Interested in learning more about Watson Woodworks and their offerings? Like them on Facebook at @ WatsonWoodWorksShop to see more. University in the fall to study business. The three have been savoring every special moment they get to spend together before Kyla heads off to college. Whether it’s watching their favorite games on T.V. or enjoying a bonfire outside, the Watson family loves having a place to relax and unwind. One of their favorite things to do on cool evenings or rainy afternoons is make a big pot of their signature shrimp and corn chowder or family favorite gumbo. These recipes provide the perfect meals for the whole crew, filling the cabin with a lovely aroma and warm atmosphere. Read on to check out two delicious “simmer all day” recipes that can spice up your weeknight dinner routine or add a kick to your next shindig. Fair warning - these will be devoured by your family almost instantly!

SHRIMP AND CORN CHOWDER INGREDIENTS: • 1 package bacon, fried crisp and crumbled • 3 Tbsp. bacon fat • 1 medium onion, chopped • 1 cup chopped celery, (about 5 stalks) • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper • 1 bay leaf • 3-4 medium diced potatoes • 2 Tbsp. flour • 64 oz shrimp or lobster stock • 2 (15 oz.) cans cream style corn • 2 (15 oz.) cans whole corn • 1(12 oz.) can low fat evaporated milk • 2lbs. shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails removed • 1/2 Tbsp. salt • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper • Tabasco to taste

"These are a couple of my favorite "Simmer All Day" Recipes!" —Jennifer Watson

INSTRUCTIONS: 1. First fry bacon until crisp and set aside to cool. Reserve 3 tablespoons of bacon fat. 2. Sauté onions, celery, and bell pepper in bacon fat until translucent. 3. Add potatoes and 8 oz of stock. Cook for 5-10 minutes. 4. Sprinkle flour over mixture, stir well and add rest of shrimp stock. Bring to boil. 5. Add bay leaf, corn, milk, bacon, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper (if desired) and Tabasco. Simmer over low heat for approximately 20 minutes. Stirring occasionally. 6. Add shrimp and continue to simmer about 5-10 more minutes. When shrimp are pink it is ready to eat. Loosen your belt and enjoy. Serves 10-12 people.

SHRIMP AND SAUSAGE GUMBO INGREDIENTS: • 1 cup and 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour • 3 Cloves garlic, minced • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped • 1 red or green bell pepper, chopped • 3/4 cup chopped celery, about 4 stalks • 1 lb. okra, chopped • 1cup clam juice • 6 cups shrimp or seafood stock • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, not drained • 1/4 cup Ole Bay or Zataran’s Cajun Seasoning • 1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme • 1 Tablespoon fresh basil leaves • 3 bay leaves • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne/chipotle pepper • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper • 1 lb. smoked sausage, cut into diagonal pieces • 1 lb. medium shrimp - peeled and deveined • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce • 1 lemon • 1 stalk green onion • 2 bags cooked rice INSTRUCTIONS: 1. In large heavy stock pot, melt 1cup (2 sticks) butter over low-medium heat. Add the flour, and cook until the roux is dark brown; will take several minutes and you must stir constantly. This is time consuming, but very important step. A roux cooked to a deep reddish-brown color is what gives gumbo its distinctive flavor. *Brown does not mean burnt; if you burn the roux you have to throw it out and start over. 2. Add the onions, celery, peppers and garlic and sauté until translucent. 3. Next, mix in the okra, juice, stock, tomatoes, Cajun seasoning, parsley, thyme, basil, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and remaining one tablespoon of butter. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer over low heat about 2 hours or so, stirring occasionally.

4. After 2 hours I add in the sausage, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Now is a good time to taste test and adjust as needed. Continue to simmer. 5. Next, about ½ hour before ready to serve add the shrimp and squeeze in lemon juice (not the lemon seeds). 6. Cook 2 bags of white rice to add into the gumbo or serve gumbo on top, personally I like to just add it to the pot. 7. Before serving, remove the bay leaves. Sprinkle with green onions and finally, enjoy. Amount: Makes good stock pot full, can serve 8-10 people easily.

Spring 2020 | 21

Come join us for a summer of fun, excitement, and outdoor adventure. Day Camp Founded in 1924 with help from Bishop Edwin G. Weed, Camp Weed offers an incredible camp experience. Our campers participate in a variety of outdoor activities (kayaking, rock climbing, outdoor sports, and more) and head inside for small group time to get to know one another and build personal connections. We know finding support in your peers is important, so we divide campers into age-appropriate small groups for both activities and small group time.


Session 0: June 22-26 Session 1: June 29-July 3 Session 2: July 6-10 Session 3: July 13-17 Session 4: July 20-24 Session 5: July 27-31 ($150 per week, $800 for all 6 weeks) Drop Off: 7:30 am - 9 am Pick Up: 4 pm - 5:30 pm


Daily Schedule 7:30 am - 9:00 am 9:00 am 9:45 am 10:00 am Noon 1:00 pm 2:00 pm 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


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• Movie Making • Guitar • Slip ‘n Slide Kickball • Cloud Watching • Tie Dye • Leather Working • Nature Walks • Gaga Ball


For more information and registration visit or contact Summer Camp Director Sam Marxsen at



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Spring has sprung! Beautiful flowers are blooming all around and we just can’t help but be inspired by the sunshine. Check out these six trending colors for the upcoming season and add some color to your life. From timeless tones to trendy hues, you’re guaranteed to find a shade you’ll love this spring. By Jeweliana Register Curtis

“A lot of ladies give so much and our hands go through so much. We are moms, we are wives and we are a part of the workforce, yet so often we do not take care of ourselves in the ways we should. Self care is so very important. These are the hands that take care of loved ones, so it’s important that we take care of them.” Daring Denim Blues Looking to spice up your typical nail routine? Consider changing it up with this dusty blue meets indigo shade. It’s the perfect pop of navy with a twist that adds a classic look to any outfit. Pictured: OPI’s Less is Norse.

Pretty Pearl Hues Glossy, reflective nails are all the rage this season, and this pearly pink is perfect for girly girls and edgy gals alike. This shade gives a “your nails but better” look, offering a natural color that packs a big punch. Pictured: Essie Gel Couture

Soft Orange Tones This trendy shade is a play on terracotta with a bit of a spring elegance. This would pair perfectly with almost any outfit, and makes you stand out in a crowd. Pictured: Aila’s Doolish

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Icy, Pastel Blues This gorgeous shade packs a punch! Whether you are looking to add a pop of pastel to your selections or simply experiment with a beautiful shade, this tone is beautiful and unique. Pictured: OPI’s Gelato on My Mind

Blush Tones Reimagined Florals and blush tones always make an appearance in the spring, but these classic blush shades have been re-imagined for 2020. A color that compliments every skin tone, this blushed petal shade is sure to wow this spring.

-Natalee Dubon, Mon Cherie Beauty Lounge

Pictured: Sally Hansen Color Therapy Nail Polish in Blushed Petal

Happy Yellow Shades Is there anything better than a bright, sunshine-y day? Be a ray of sunshine in this golden hue that compliments every skin tone. Pictured: Essie in Hay There

“Your nails are a part of your appearance and your first impression, so keeping your nails clean and neat should be part of your daily grooming routine. With dip nails and gel manicures so prevalent in our society today, it is important for the consumer to understand the value of nail health and hygienics.” -Karen Green, Gegee’s Studio


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When spring semester ends, summer happenings at Florida Gateway College are just beginning. The sense of calm that washes over campus after finals doesn’t last long as students eagerly come flooding back to FGC to continue their education over the summer. Though class registration opens on March 30, attending one-stop enrollment is a great way to ensure students are campus-ready. On April 16, new and readmit students can meet with enrollment services, financial aid and advising; have their student IDs made and register for classes all in one convenient location at the library. Summer courses are also available to students from other colleges and universities who are home for the summer but want to take courses with transferable credits. Of course, summer campus life at FGC isn’t just for current college students, it’s for kids too. Over the past three years, FGC has revamped and expanded its summer camp programs, which are available to upper elementary and middle school students. From soccer, basketball, volleyball and running to leadership, environmental sciences, STEM and e-sports all the way to fishing, cheer and theater. Each camp is available to students ages 8 to 14 and provides the opportunity for them to learn new skills in a fun, exciting way with an educational twist.



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“We saw that need in the community and figured what a great opportunity to capitalize on and to bring those kids out to campus and expose them to FGC along with the learning and enrichment for the summer,” said Rebecca Golden who is FGC’s Athletic Coordinator.


Kicking off on June 8, each camp is offered Monday through Thursday as part of a morning or afternoon session. With a $65 fee per camp, campers are provided with a free t-shirt, lunch if they decide to take both camps available that week and the chance to choose from 11 different subjects geared to an array of interests.


One of the newest additions this year is e-sports. Students in this camp will learn the history of video games, get the chance to create their own game and virtually compete with one another. For those with artistic ambitions, theater camp takes students through the basics of acting so they can write and star in their very own production. For sports enthusiasts, volleyball, basketball, soccer and running are taught by the college’s head coaches, allowing these camps to act as a future recruitment tool. Outdoor appreciators can opt for fishing or environmental sciences and more outgoing personalities can learn leadership or cheer. Whatever their passion, FGC gives campers a broad range of activities to take part in. “The campus invites and really embraces the future generation of students coming on campus. It brings an energy and a buzz to everybody around campus, it’s a fun, exciting time and something you don’t normally see on a college campus,” said Rob Chapman, FGC’s Marketing and Web Coordinator. Despite their increasing popularity, with 314 campers participating in 2019, providing summer camps to the youth of the community wouldn’t be possible without generous donations from individuals and businesses like Nutrien, who have been a continuous supporter and sponsor for FGC’s summer camps. To register for summer camps or to see a full list of summer courses available to FGC students, visit their website at



AGES 814



Family Spring-Time Fun:

! n O al y


With the end of the school year rapidly approaching, we encourage you to utilize the space in your own home for games that are fun for the whole family. From board games to yard games, these activities will help your family make lasting memories, one belly laugh at a time. So, host a family game night with a BBQ and let the good times roll!

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By Jeweliana Register Curtis

Outdoor Games CORN TOSS Do you and your family love to spend time outdoors? Whether you decide to host a pool party, block party or simply an afternoon hangout in the backyard, consider adding corn toss to your que. Not only is the game fun for all ages, but there is virtually no mess to clean up afterwards! Photo via



Looking for another great outdoor game? Ladder golf has got you covered! Opponents face off against one another, attempting to earn points by tossing and landing the bolas balls on the opponent’s ladder rungs. Win the victory by being the first to reach 21 points. A game all about strategy, this is best played in teams of two or more. Photo via

A board game based on strategy and choices, The Settlers of Catan offers fun for the whole family. Settle, earn and trade valuable resources with fellow players to get ahead, or go it alone at an attempt to earn ten points before anyone else. Make the luck of the dice be in your favor! Photo via

YOGA SPINNER Twister just got a challenging new twist! Ideal for family nights at home, this game is for yogis and beginners alike. Start by spinning the wheel and then striking the pose shown on the corresponding card. Keeping the pose for 10 seconds or more will result in a card that places you one step closer to sweet victory. Photo via

Indoor Games CLUE If you’re a fan of mystery and crimesolving, this just might be the game for you. Clue has been a classic game for decades, but there is a new version with updated clues, guests and weapons for you to examine. Bake a tray of cookies and grab the family for a fun evening of crime investigation with this thrilling board game. Photo via

TICKET TO RIDE Do you have a jetsetter in the family? Are you searching for a way to teach your kids about U.S. geography? Look no further than this game that focuses on railroad connections and getting to your destination before the game runs out. Aside from the classic game set, there are many expanded versions that cover areas like Europe and Africa. No matter your destination, be sure to enjoy the journey of game night with your loved ones.

LIFT IT! DELUXE The basis of this game is that each player builds a structure using only their materials and a crane strapped to their head! Race against the clock and build your structure faster than your opponent to get ahead. The one who builds their creation the fastest - and still has it standing - at the end of the timer wins. This silly game will certainly keep your crew laughing! Photo via

THE GAME OF LIFE Who doesn’t love this fan favorite? The Game of Life has been a staple in homes for years, and nothing is forecasted to change in 2020. Teach your kids the joys of adulthood - like mortgages, debt and the cost of schooling - and allow them to create the career path of their choice in this design your life game. The newest version even features brand new career choices that your teens will love. Play on! Photo via

Photo via

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Elect Tina Seifert for State Attorney 2020

High School Cheer Boosters, the Columbia County Sheriff ’s Office - Community Partners Program, Boy Scouts of America, Catholic Charities, the Ft. White Ladies Volleyball Team, Gateway Art League, the Pregnancy Care Center, Meridian, Kiwanis, the March of Dimes, and more. For the past 5 years, Tina has organized the Christmas Intern for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit State Toy Drive for local attorneys, wherein she has Attorney’s Office. Under the supervision of a licensed attorney, Tina handled a misdemeanor assumed responsibility for assigning children case load and tried her first jury trial. Graduating chosen from the Dream Machine to attorneys, collecting, and delivering the gifts back for from Stetson in December of 1994 she then distribution. In 2017, Tina was honored for her began her career as a prosecutor for the Third service to the community and was the recipient Judicial Circuit of Florida. of the Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Award for Tina served twelve years as an Assistant State the Third Judicial Circuit. Attorney, managing and trying criminal cases "I will utilize my legal skills and 25 years of including but not limited to: First Degree Murder, experience, as well as my capacity for fairness, Capital Sexual Abuse of a Child, Drug Trafficking, compassion and empathy to ensure the sensitive Kidnapping, Robbery, Jimmy Ryce, and Baker needs of our community are met, lines of Act Proceedings. She was also instrumental communication are opened, and justice is served." in developing the Third Judicial Circuit Drug —Tina Siefert Court Program. While serving as the Chief Assistant State Attorney for the Columbia County office, Tina supervised the entire Lake City staff, In 2009 Tina went into private practice, where she continues to own and operate Seifert Law including attorneys and support staff. Firm, P.A. Tina will have a profound positive Personal community service hours, along with impact on the Office of State Attorney based financial commitments, are part of Tina’s lifestyle. on her 25 years of experience as an attorney, Over the years she has supported such efforts coupled with her passion for the community, and as: The Florida Sheriff Youth Ranch, Columbia desire to help others.

e c i v r e S f o e m ti e f i AL

From an early age, Tina realized public service ran through her veins. As an 18-year old voluntary Probation Officer, Tina handled a case load of approximately 20 juvenile and adult offenders. She then realized – this is my passion. Upon receiving her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at the age of 20, Tina continued her path of public service working as a Youth Counselor for Vision Quest, helping delinquent high-risk children point their lives in a positive direction. To further her career and experience Tina moved on to work for the Community Responsibility Center, as a Corrections Technician and Intensive Supervised Parole Program Liaison. Tina gave needed assistance to adult criminal defendants as they would re-acclimate into society for a positive and meaningful future. In 1990 Tina obtained employment as a Felony Probation Officer for the Florida Department of Corrections, moving on to study at Stetson University College of Law in 1992. During her tenure at Stetson, she became a Certified Legal


Spring 2020 | 33

When you need to get away but don’t have the time or money for a vacation, a day trip may be the perfect solution. We define a Day-trip as using one tank of gas, or about 100 miles (ish) from Lake City. Here are a number of daytrip destinations. By Joy Coleman

THE FLORIDA PANHANDLE Florida Caverns State Park

3345 Caverns Rd • Marianna, FL 32446 • 850-482-1228 This attraction may remind you of a favorite sci-fi movie as you explore a network of underground caves created from limestone formations that have slowly dissolved over thousands of years. If you go in the summer, you’ll love the cool air and spooky views of eerie stalactites and stalagmites. Walk along a passageway from cave to cave and see the many chisel marks made by Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) workers. They enlarged the cave passageways so visitors could stand upright during guided tours. They also built the park’s visitor’s center and a nine-hole golf course found in the beautiful rolling terrain above the caves.

JACKSONVILLE Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens

829 Riverside Ave • Jacksonville, FL 32204 • 904-356-6857 The Cummer has one of the finest permanent art collections in Florida with nearly 5,000 objects. The art ranges in age from 2100 B.C. through modern times and features several special exhibits including one of early Meissen porcelain. The museum’s 2.5-acre garden is an example of early twentieth century design. Reflecting pools, fountains, arbors, and sculptures complement the majestic Cummer Oak. With a canopy of more than 150 feet this oak is one of the oldest trees in Jacksonville.

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Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary

1860 Starratt Rd • Jacksonville, FL 32226 • 904-757-3603 Catty Shack Ranch is a non-profit wildlife sanctuary and is a very popular attraction. Their mission is to give endangered big cats a permanent home and they specialize in rescuing exotic animals who are in danger. When an animal arrives at Catty Shack Ranch, it finds a loving home for the rest of its life. No animal there is used for breeding, trading or selling. Animals currently living at Catty Shack Ranch include tigers, lions, pumas, leopards, lynx, foxes, and coatimundis. While not cats, the fox and coatimundis have been awarded “honorary cat” status by the Ranch.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

370 Zoo Parkway • Jacksonville, FL 32218 • 904-757-4463 This zoo is more than 100 years old and is on 89 acres beside the Trout River. Organized by natural exhibits, it features River Valley Aviary, African Loop, Stingray Bay, Wild Florida, Savanna Blooms, Great Apes, Giraffe Overlook, and Range of the Jaguar. Kids enjoy the Play Park, Splash Ground and petting the stingrays in Stingray Bay. They also love feeding the kangaroos and wallabies at Australian Adventure.

Jacksonville Museum of Science & History

1025 Museum Circle • Jacksonville, FL 32207 • 904-396-6674 This is Jacksonville’s most visited museum, specializing in science and local history. The main exhibit changes quarterly and the museum is also home to the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium. An unusual feature of this museum is its science and history boat tours on the St. Johns River.


Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park 999 Anastasia Blvd • St. Augustine, FL 32080 • 904-824-3337

This is one of the few Florida tourist attractions on the National Register of Historic Places. It was founded in 1893 and has entertained and educated millions of people about the alligator. You will also find hundreds of species of birds, monkeys, snakes, lions, turtles, porcupines and tarantulas - even albino alligators. For the daring, there’s a zip line where you can rip airborne through the park over the alligators.


4732 Millhopper Rd • Gainesville, FL 32652 • 352-955-2008 This is another park that might give you the feeling of being in a sci-fi movie. The walk down a 232-step wooden staircase to the bottom of 120 feet deep, 500 feet diameter, sinkhole has attracted visitors for over a century. The geology here created a miniature rain forest in the middle of North Central Florida. You will see gentle streams of clear water trickling down limestone walls. These miniature waterfalls and the coolness of the place create a refreshing escape. If available, the volunteer guides can share inside stories about the park, but call ahead to see if the walk is open.

La Chua Trail, Paynes Prairie

4801 Camp Ranch Rd. • Gainesville, FL 32641 • 352-466-3397

9600 Oceanshore Blvd. • St. Augustine, Florida 32080 • 9844-948-1037 Marineland is a historical site, an incorporated village, and a landmark in Florida history. It didn’t start out as a place to swim with dolphins, but that’s what it’s become. It was the world’s first oceanarium, and people flocked to see the marine animals, especially the dolphin’s performances. The oceanarium opened as Marine Studios in 1938. Some estimates report 500,000 visitors a year came during its prime. Marineland is now an educational facility. In the 1.3-million-gallon tank of the Dolphin Conservation Center you will see several dolphin habitats. This is where you can see these creatures up close and swim with them.

While on the three-mile round trip hike you can see wild horses, gators, amazing birds, sandhill cranes, and freely roaming bison. Halfway through the hike is a 50-foot observation tower. The grandeur of the prairie is worth the walk. The Trail’s entrance is located on the north side of the Prairie. It’s open 7 days - 8 a.m. until 1 hour before sunset. Double check your GPS directions.

OCALA Appleton Museum of Art College of Central Florida 4333 E Silver Springs Blvd • Ocala, FL 34470 • 352-291-4455

The Appleton is a stunning example of classical architecture in Italian travertine marble. The 81,610-square-foot museum features 30,000 square feet of gallery space devoted to permanent collections.

GAINESVILLE Florida Museum of Natural History University of Florida Cultural Plaza

3215 Hull Road • Gainesville, Florida 32611 • 352-846-2000

The official natural history museum of Florida offers permanent exhibits focused on the flora, fauna, fossils, and historic people of the state. An example of the size of this museum is the butterfly and moth collection containing 10 million specimens. The mammalogy collection has over 34,000 specimens. There are more than 2 million fish specimens. Admission to the museum is free, and it would take more than a month to see everything, so plan your time.

Exhibits include examples from America, Asia, Africa, Europe and other nations. The museum features a 250-seat auditorium, an art library, three art studio/classroom spaces and a courtyard café.

Silver Springs State Park

1425 Northeast 58th Ave • Ocala, FL 34470 • 352-236-7148 Silver Springs was once Florida’s most popular tourist attractions, famous for its glassbottomed boats and the clear spring-fed Silver River. Many movies were filmed here: Lloyd Bridges even filmed 100 episodes of the Sea Hunt TV

Spring 2020 | 35

series here. Birds and flowers are abundant, and every now and then a monkey appears, descendants of escaped movie stars. You can ride in the glass-bottomed boats, paddle in a kayak, or watch the crystal-clear blue depths of Silver Springs. Camping, a museum and restaurant are all offered.

Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge

1502 SE Kings Bay Dr • Crystal River, FL 34429 • 352-563-2088

Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing

13700 SW 16th Avenue • Ocala, Florida 34473 • 352-245-8661 ” Big Daddy” Don Garlits is a legend in the world of drag racing. His series of 34 hand-built race cars propelled him to 144 national event wins. The Garlits museum has 90 race cars on display as well as 50 other cars in the Antique Car collection. The museum is also home to the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame and includes cars and memorabilia from other famous drag racing names. Sometimes “Big Daddy” himself is on the property showing people around.

Crystal River is one of several wildlife refuges in the area managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and is the only refuge created specifically for the threatened Florida Manatee. This unique refuge preserves the last unspoiled and undeveloped spring habitat in Kings Bay

Rainbow Springs State Park

19158 Southwest 81st Place Rd • Dunnellon, Florida 34432 • 352-465-8555 Rainbow Springs forms the headwaters of the river of the same name. You can swim in the freshwater Rainbow River, rent canoes and kayaks, view waterfalls and gardens, enjoy a picnic area with grills, and pavilions. Further down the river, tubes are available for floating down stream.


498 S.E. Kings Bay Drive • Crystal River, FL 34429 • (352) 765-0383 A swim with manatees can be a beautiful experience in Crystal River. River Ventures and many other nearby businesses offer snorkeling adventures, guided tours, kayak rentals, and educational opportunities with the West Indian Manatees. Check around to see which business suits your needs. Manatees can grow to 12 or 13 feet long and weigh 3000 pounds. These gentle mammals slowly graze in shallow waters munching sea grass like an aquatic cow. They also like to take naps on the bottom. They are very trusting, calm and curious. Other than boat motors, the Manatee’s enemy is cold water: they cannot survive in water below 60 degrees. So, every winter as many as 400 manatees take their winter vacation in Kings Bay which forms the headwaters of the Crystal River. November through March, Crystal River is the best place to swim with them. The most popular viewing opportunities are from a boardwalk in Kings Bay. 36 |


River Safari

10823 West Yulee Dr • Homosassa, FL 34448 • 352-628-5222 Park at the River Safari site in Old Homosassa and base your adventures from here. You’ll find a wide variety of opportunities: air boat tours, boat rentals, pontoon boat tours, manatee tours, group tours, and scalloping and fishing adventures. It’s advised to first visit their website to get an idea of what you want to do. In addition to the tours and manatee swims, a 2-hour twilight dolphin watching and tiki bar tour is also available.

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

6131 Commercial Way, • Spring Hill, FL 34606 • 352-592-5656 This park is the best-known symbol of the yesteryear of Florida tourism. Weeki Wachee Springs still offers live mermaid shows, trips on a river boat cruise, information about Florida wildlife, and swimming in Buccaneer Bay’s pristine waters. Weeki Wachee was named by the Seminole Indians and means “little spring” or “winding river.” In 2007, underwater explorers discovered new passages in the spring’s cave system and labeled Weeki Wachee as the deepest known freshwater cave system in the United States. The spring is so deep that the bottom has never been found. Daily, more than 117 million gallons of clear, fresh 74-degree water bubbles up out of subterranean caverns. Deep in the spring, the surge of the current is strong enough to knock off a scuba divers mask. The spring’s basin is 100 feet wide with limestone sides.

SOUTH OF OCALA Cat Boat Adventures

148 Charles Avenue • Mount Dora, FL 32757 • 352-325-1442 One of the best ways to explore this area is by a small boat and Cat Boat Tours provides a Craig Cat. This small twin hulled boat is powered by an outboard and seats two people side by side. The tour guide has her own boat and takes a small fleet of visitors on a narrated tour of Lake Dora and the fascinating mile long Dora Canal. This beautiful canal is like cruising through a jungle stream among 2,000-year old cypress trees. You may see herons, egrets, ducks, ospreys, eagles, turtles, and alligators. The canal was used in 1951 to reshoot some of the river scenes from the movie “African Queen” starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn.

Alexander Springs Recreational Area

49525 County Road 445 • Altoona, Fl 32702 • 352-669-3522 Alexander Springs is in the Ocala National Forest, the southernmost and oldest national forest east of the Mississippi River. The area offers camping, swimming, canoeing, scuba diving, hiking, birding and wildlife viewing. Alexander Springs is one of 27 first-magnitude springs in Florida.

Spring 2020 | 37

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coffeemilk VE Ove r Latt es,

A New Caffeine Fix Has Hit the Shelves

By Hayli Zuccola

Tammy Johns Photography

Hailing from the land down under, Dave Temple, a second-generation farmer from Queensland, came to Florida in the early ‘90s as part of a college-required internship – an experience that helped him build upon the knowledge he had already acquired while growing up in the dairy industry.

Spring 2020 | 39

Fairtrade coffee gives farmers the security that they will receive a price that covers their average costs of sustainable production. Beyond the price, cooperatives are paid the Fairtrade Premium, which they invest in projects that benefit their communities, improve their businesses and protect their environment.

That’s right. Even though Australia evokes images of kolas, snakes and kangaroos, the Dave Temple (left) and Ed Henderson continent also (right), the co-founders behind Thunder offers suitable CoffeeMilk. habitat for cows. Nevertheless, after graduating and returning to Australia, the recurring drought ultimately pushed Temple back to the Sunshine State where he founded Southern Cross Dairy in southwest Suwannee County. “Agriculture is just something that absolutely – I grew up on a farm, you know – they say once you get the dirt under your fingernails, it’s hard to get it out,” he said. During his initial stint in Florida, Temple befriended Ed Henderson who shared a similar background and spent his youth and adulthood working on his family’s multi-generational dairy farm. Located along the rural countryside of Live Oak, Shenandoah Dairy has grown over the years and now encompasses more than 3,700 cows. Though the time-consuming field of agriculture tends to limit other ventures, Temple and Henderson decided to increase their workload by creating a product close to their livelihood and their taste buds. After running out of beer one night, Temple introduced Henderson to an Australian-staple more popular than Coca-Cola, coffee milk. Essentially the drink is milk with a shot of

40 |


coffee rather than coffee with a splash of milk, or what’s usually available in the States. The delicious beverage had an untapped market in the U.S., which they were planning on changing. Developing a recipe that would be shelf-stable, that did not require refrigeration, was the real challenge. The only facility that would allow them to experiment and have access to a retort machine, which helps turn fresh products into ones that don’t require refrigeration, was in Michigan, so a road trip was imminent. It took over 50 different concoctions until they found the one that would stay in a liquid state rather than turning to pudding after going through the retort machine, which is similar to a pressure cooker. While it would have been easier to follow the method of other companies by using additives and preservatives, their overall goal was to create a beverage that used simple, natural and wholesome ingredients – a belief that after trial and error finally led to their finished product: Thunder CoffeeMilk. “Our first ingredient is milk whereas, I think everything else on the shelf today is water,” Temple said. “After milk, we have three other ingredients and we’re done.” Aside from whole milk, which gives each serving of Thunder CoffeeMilk 10 grams of protein, the second most important ingredient is, you guessed it: coffee. “We try to use good-quality coffee. Not only is it good quality with respect to its tasting, but it’s being sourced fair-traded coffee. The company we’re buying it through, truly 100 percent of the profits from the coffee, goes back to Haiti,” Temple said.

While the type of coffee is important, the brewing method is just as vital. Cold brewing their fair-traded coffee beans allows for a smoother, less bitter taste, which compliments the natural sweetness of the milk. To amp up the palatability even more, the final ingredients are raw cane sugar and the flavor profiles they currently offer, these are original, vanilla, mocha and double shot. “I think that one of the things we want to get across to people with respect to how our product is different than most all of the other products on the shelf, it’s because of the combination of that milk and the sugar and the caffeine, it’s not going to hit your bloodstream like this spike,” Temple said. “So it will pep you up, but it doesn’t pep you up with this huge spike and then you crash. It’s a longer-term effect and on top of that it does satiate hunger.”

THEIR OVERALL GOAL WAS TO CREATE A BEVERAGE THAT USED SIMPLE, NATURAL AND WHOLESOME INGREDIENTS – A BELIEF THAT AFTER TRIAL AND ERROR FINALLY LED TO THEIR FINISHED PRODUCT: THUNDER COFFEEMILK. Since its inception two and a half years ago, their brand has grown to produce six to seven thousand bottles at a time. With their recent USDA validation, you can now find Thunder CoffeeMilk at five local retailers including Homelands Express and Busy Bee in Live Oak; Fifth Generation Farms and Y.J. Store in Lake City; and The Perfect Gift in Gainesville as well as online through their website

MUSIC TO A COW’S EARS Despite using milk from Michigan where Thunder CoffeeMilk is bottled, the cows at Southern Cross and Shenandoah still have a busy job producing milk for other buyers. Of course, life on the farm isn’t all work and no play, and Ed Henderson has an unusual way of capturing his cows’ attention. Before diving into an entrepreneurial partnership, Henderson focused on his family’s farm and the cows that make up most of its workforce. The little free time he has he spends playing the trombone, which he learned to play in middle school.

One day, he stepped onto the back porch to practice and within minutes had an attentive audience of cows pressed against the fence. “They’re just curious, alright, they’re extremely curious and they notice little things that go on,” Henderson said. He went on to explain that dairy cows are creatures of habit and expect the same thing every day, so when something is out of the ordinary like a hat hanging in the milking parlor or the sounds of a trombone playing through the air, they take notice. “It’s not like something I go out and play for the cows on a daily basis or weekly basis. But you have a family gathering or something, and my mom was particular about, go ahead and play something on the trombone. It would be in the backyard like an Easter event or something, everybody’s there and I’d play the trombone in the backyard – cows come to the fence,” he said. “Most dairy farmers recognize that it’s not the trombone playing they’re just curious.” While it may not be a surprising concept to other farmers, treating a herd of cows to a private orchestra isn’t exactly the norm and it’s an event that caught the attention of CNN’s Great Big Story, which featured Henderson and his music-loving cows in “The Jazz Man Moo-eth.” Henderson also encouraged the musicians of the Gateway City Big Band, which he’s been a member of for the past 24 years, to play a symphony for the hoofed crowd, which was then published by the Florida Dairy Farmers. “At the end of the day, for Dave and I both, I mean we are concerned about how we care for our cows alright and the trombone playing is nothing more than a symbol of, you know, we care about cows and we can walk into the field and we can have an audience of cows with the trombone – you can have it with a garbage can lid – and that’s because our cows are not afraid of us. They’re receptive. They understand music is pleasant to their ears, you know, they’re curious, they’re docile animals that recognize us as being friendly,” he said. To watch the Gateway City Big Band’s performance, visit Florida Dairy on YouTube.

Henderson and the Gateway City Big Band played a private concert for the cows, which was captured by the Florida Dairy Farmers.

Spring 2020 | 41

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North Florida Mega Industrial Park By Emily Pazel

Collin Hackley Photographer

Ron Williams hammers one of the first nails into the rail spur tracks As you travel along the fields of towering pines heading east from Lake City on U.S. Highway 90, it’s hard not to notice the newly cleared land and a large sign for the North Florida Mega Industrial Park (NFMIP). What began as a raw piece of land has since started to develop into what will become a major milestone of economic growth for Columbia County and the surrounding areas. In December 2019, dozens of business and economic development leaders, along with site selectors and elected officials, were all present to witness a key development at the 2,600-acre mega industrial park – the beginning construction phase of a rail spur that will run across U.S. Highway 90 directly into the site and connect local businesses with the rest of the world.

New Rail Spur Presents New Opportunities

Adding this additional piece of the puzzle to the park is what stakeholders believe will be the answer to recruiting and finalizing prospective companies to the area.

“If you’re going to have the chance to get a company, you have to be able and ready to act,” said Glenn Hunter, Columbia County Economic Development Director. “We have to be ready to hook them up with water, sewer, gas and power, as well as logistical Glen Hunter transportation. You Columbia County Economic hear a lot of people Development Director say ‘shovel ready’, and most places are not shovel ready, but we are.” —Cassie Dull

“Railroads connect the world a little better”

The newly implemented rail spur segment is key to connecting the shovel-ready site to the Class III railroad, Florida Gulf & Atlantic Railway via a CSX interchange.

The railroad industry has made a crucial impact to Florida’s economic development for over a century. Rail USA is a full-fledged railroad company that has crews and employees based all along Florida’s Panhandle and out towards Jacksonville.

Spring 2020 | 43

From (l-r) Carl Warren, Director of Ports & International and Industrial Development - CSX; Dr. Jerry Parrish, Chief Economist - Florida Chamber Foundation; Florida Representative Robert Charles ‘’Chuck’’ Brannan III; Crystal Stiles, Director of Economic Development - Florida Power & Light Company (FPL);Columbia County Commission Chair Ron Williams; Charles “Hank” Hankerson, Vice President of Operations - Rail USA, LLC; Greg Galpin, Senior Planning Manager - Weyerhaeuser

“Railroads connect the world a little better,” said Cassie Dull, Chief Commercial Officer for Rail USA. “It connects Florida to the U.S., and the U.S. to the world.” When Columbia County partnered with Rail USA to bring rail transportation to the park, it Cassie Dull Chief Commercial presented many new opportunities Officer, Rail USA for different companies to import and export large, heavy materials and products in a way that’s more cost effective and efficient for larger manufacturing companies. “Our role in this project is to be the rail transportation provider,” she said. “And what our physical role would be is to bring rail cars in and out of the park and get them connected to the rest of the United States.” Geographically speaking, Columbia County is ideal for transporting goods and products entering the state, as well as leaving the state and expanding out into the rest of the country.

“Having the rail system in place will market the site itself to very large companies that wouldn’t relocate without rail,” Dull said. “What it ultimately does is that it provides very safe, efficient, low-cost sustainable transportation for large companies.” As more prospective companies become interested in calling the North Florida Mega Industrial Park home, the railroad will begin its expansion into the park and adjust to the logistics of the company’s transportation needs. Impacting the Local Economy With the new rail spur segment in place and ready to begin construction at a moment’s notice, the potential for the park to land a permanent resident is high. The North Florida Mega Industrial Park is currently zoned for up to eight million square feet of industrial, manufacturing and logistics development, plus an additional 100,000 square feet of commercial/retail development, and 300 residential units. “Ultimately, this will help the community grow its tax base,” Hunter said. “If we aren’t able to grow our tax base, our taxes will go up over time. Right now, we are well below the cap, but a lot of small rural communities are not. Our commissioners have expressed a desire to take it even lower, and the way we do that is to grow our capital investment.” Not only will the site be a big proponent in bringing tax revenue to the local communities, but it will also provide good, high-paying jobs to people living within the area for many generations to come.

44 |


Greg Galpin

Weyerhaeuser’s Senior Real Estate Development Project Manager

“The types of jobs that would be here through manufacturing and business would be varied, which would give us a cross over connect for our young folks to train through our colleges and with CareerSource to get a good job,” Hunter said. “We’ve committed to over 3,300 jobs with a couple of grants on this project and are very optimistic about that.” In working with the project over the years, Hunter expressed that the energy and excitement behind the site has continued to accumulate every day as the park becomes closer to becoming a reality. “If you look at what’s going on downtown, I think that same energy is being converted there,” he said. “People have the anticipation that this is going to be a game changer for our community, and I think some of that success is already beginning to show and yet, we’re right here at the tipping edge of companies getting ready to build out.” Although the site currently does not have any companies ready to build just yet, the stakeholders are optimistic that current projects are heading in the right direction and that there will be something to announce in the near future. The History Behind the Site Greg Galpin, Weyerhaeuser’s Senior Real Estate Development Project Manager, has worked on this project since its inception and has been a long-term employee with Weyerhaeuser, which is one of the largest private timberland owners in the world. Weyerhaeuser started on this project back in 2008. At that time, Columbia County reached out to discuss creating a catalyst site on the property in cooperation with the State of Florida to help with economic growth. The Columbia County Department of Economic Development then met with Weyerhaeuser and established the first partnership at the site. “Overtime, we have really enjoyed building our partnership, which doesn’t just include the county but it also includes the rail, the City of Lake City, the U.S. Forest Service, and most importantly, the State of Florida,” Galpin said. At this time, the state of Florida has contributed roughly $14,685,000 in grants to help develop the site. Galpin explained this has been one of the first times the state of Florida has ever provided grants to municipalities to ready a site. The grant money has helped facilitate the rail spur and the wastewater treatment facility that will service the eastside of the county.


Key Components 2,622-acre site, approved for eight million square feet for industrial, manufacturing and logistics development, plus 100,000 square feet of commercial/ retail use, and 300 residential units. All utilities are currently at the site: electric, water, sewer, natural gas and telecommunications. A workforce of over 800,000 lives within 60 miles or an average of one hour of the site with additional education and workforce training opportunities through Florida Gateway College, CareerSource Florida Crown and other area colleges and universities. Access to Class III railroad, Florida Gulf & Atlantic Railway via a CSX interchange. The NFMIP is also an approved U.S. Opportunity Zone with a mainline connecting Jacksonville to New Orleans.

From (l-r) Rick Naegler, CEO of Lake City Medical Center, Steve Nelson, Assistant Vice President at Lake City Medical Center and Glenn Hunter

Spring 2020 | 45

Community looks on as Ron Williams , Columbia County Commission Chair, drives one of the spikes.

“We are extremely fortunate to have the Weyerhaeuser team on board working with us,” Hunter said.

Enterprise Florida and North Florida Economic Development Partnership.

Throughout the project, the county has played the main role in helping the stakeholder team receive grants from the state for the expansion and growth of the North Florida Mega Industrial Park. They believe the fact the state has contributed the amount that is has reiterates the importance of the future of this site. “We’re in a strategic location, we meet all the criteria for what manufacturing groups need and manufacturing is high on the state’s list for Florida,” Hunter said. “We’re going to work hard to get away from totally depending on tourism. We have to grow our state, our capital investment and our jobs.” The partnerships that have come together for this community project have had a huge hand in the success of expanding and getting the park ready for its first company. Hunter explained for the first time in several years, the county has worked closely along with the City of Lake City, assisting each other with both city and county grants and working together on the town’s infrastructure. Other partnerships on the project include Rail USA, Florida Power & Light, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity,

As each day passes and more work is done to the site, the North Florida Mega Industrial Park inches closer to fulfilling its goal in making Columbia County and the surrounding areas a more prosperous place to live and work in the state of Florida for multiple generations to come. “That was a raw piece of dirt, and it has taken a lot of work and it will continue to take a lot of work,” Hunter said. “So, our role working together is to get the infrastructure in place so that we can get this developed and we’re looking forward to the future.”

To learn more about the NFMIP project, visit their website at

Weyerhaeuser Company, one of the world’s largest private owners of timberlands, began operations in 1900. Weyerhaueuser owns or controls approximately 11 million acres of timberlands in the U.S., and manage additional timberlands under long-term licenses in Canada. Thay manage these timberlands on a sustainable basis in compliance with internationally recognized forestry standards. Weyerhaueuser is also one of the largest manufacturers of wood products in America. In 2019, they generated $6.6 billion in net sales and employed approximately 9,400 people who serve customers worldwide. Learn more at

46 |


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min Serves

• tablespoons e tra virgin olive oil •

ounces cherry tomatoes halved

• Clove garlic smashed • sprigs fresh basil

Rich in flavor, beautiful in color, succulent in texture, and one of the best natural sources of heart-healty omega-3 fatty acids around—we could go on (and on) about our love for this fish. Late spring also marks the start of salmon season in the remote waters of Alaska. To get you hooked, we created five irresistible dishes, using not only the fresh variety but also frozen, canned, and smoked salmon, so you can enjoy it every month of the year. 48 |


• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper • skin on wild salmon llets each ounces and inch thick 1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, toss together oil, tomatoes, garlic, and 4 basil leaves. Season with salt. Bake until tomatoes are just wilted, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 275 °. 2. Season salmon with salt and pepper; place, skin-side down, in dish with tomatoes. Spoon pan juices over fish and bake until just cooked through and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 120°, about 15 minutes. Serve, sprinkled with remaining basil leaves.



Total Time: 40 min. - Serves: 4

Total Time: 35 min. - Serves: 4

• tablespoons e tra virgin coconut oil or vegetable oil

• egetable oil for brushing


• Skin on wild salmon about pounds & inch thick

• small onion diced • cloves garlic minced

• piece fresh ginger inch peeled & thinly sliced

• Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

• Kosher salt • tablespoons Thai green curry paste

• lemon cut into rounds • ennel fronds optional

• can ounces unsweetened coconut milk


pounds small potatoes scrubbed and halved

• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

• fro en wild salmon llets each ounces and inch thick thawed skins removed

• large eggs

• Lime wedges for serving

• tablespoons Di on mustard

cup nely diced red onion

cup e tra virgin olive oil

Total Time: 1 hr. - Makes: 8 Don’t use thin pretzels in this recipe-they’ll make the cakes too salty.

• ounces large hard pret els such as ennsylvania Dutch •

cup mayonnaise

cup chopped fresh dill plus more for sprinkling

cup chopped scallions

1. Heat grill to medium; brush grates with oil. Drizzle both sides of salmon with olive oil; season with salt & pepper. Place salmon on grill, skin-side down, & cover. Grill, without moving fish, until just opaque in center and skin is crisp, 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer fish to a platter. Drizzle lemon rounds with olive oil; grill until lightly charred, about 2 mins a side. Transfer to platter; sprinkle with fennel fronds. Serve, with relish.

• lemons ested cut into wedges for serving

• ounces hot smoked salmon aked

• can ounces wild salmon drained

• tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh tarragon for serving 1. Prepare an ice-water bath. Bring potatoes to a boil in a large pot of water; season generously with salt. Slowly add eggs to water. Cook eggs 7 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to ice-water bath. Continue to cook potatoes until easily pierced with the tip of a knife, about 3 minutes more. Drain and let cool slightly. 2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together mustard, lemon juice, and onion. Gradually whisk in oil. Fold in potatoes and salmon; transfer to a platter. Peel eggs; halve cross-wise. Arrange on top of salad. Season eggs with salt and pepper; sprinkle with tarragon and serve.


• large egg lightly beaten

• tablespoons fresh lemon uice •

• ennel Olive elish

• yellow bell pepper seeded and cut into inch pieces • heads baby bok choy trimmed & cut crosswise into inch slices

tra virgin olive oil for dri ling

• tablespoons vegetable oil 1. Heat oil in a medium sauce-pan over medium. Add onion, garlic, ginger, and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add curry paste; cook 1 minute. Add coconut milk and 1¾ cups water; bring to a simmer. Add bell pepper and cover; cook 10 minutes. Add bok choy, cover, and simmer until vegetables are crisp-tender, 2 minutes more. 2. Season salmon with salt; add to curry. Remove pan from heat and cover. Let stand until salmon is just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Gently break up salmon into large pieces. Serve, with lime wedges.

1. Break pretzels into pieces; pulse in a food processor until finely ground. (You should have¾ cup.)

FENNEL-OLIVE RELISH Total Time: 15 min. Makes: 1 cup Reserve the fennel fronds For garnishing

small fennel bulb cored nely diced about cup

2. In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, egg, dill, scallions, and lemon zest. Fold in ground pretzels and salmon until just combined. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Using a ¼ cup measure, form mixture into 8 cakes, each about ¾ inch thick.

large brine cured green olives chopped cup

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Cook 4 cakes, flipping once, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes a side. Repeat with remaining oil and cakes. Sprinkle with dill and serve, with lemon wedges.

• dried chi le de cirbol stemmed and crumbled

cup nely diced red onion

cup chopped parsley

• tblsp e tra virgin olive oil • tblsp fresh lemon uice

• Kosher salt 1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt & serve.

Spring 2020 | 49

By Hayli Zuccola

Revamping a Small-Town Staple During a recent class reunion, residents of McAlpin addressed the issue and an ambitious group of alumni planned to save the club and return it to its former glory. With the help of fundraisers, the formation of a board and a makeover to the building that’s been the group’s home since the early ’60s, the McAlpin Community Club has started slowly regaining popularity.

Originating on the edge of a new decade, the McAlpin Community Club formed in 1959 as part of a rural area development program enacted by congress designed to show people living in the countryside how to use and improve upon their resources. At the time, membership flourished mostly with stay-athome-wives eager to practice growing and caring for crops in an agricultural environment as well as learn new skills from rotating programs like knitting and crochet. Unfortunately, like many long-lived organizations, attendance began dwindling down and in 2016 it looked like the McAlpin Community Club would only exist in memories. The McAlpin Community Center is located at 9981 170th Terrace, McAlpin, FL 32062

To find the most up-to-date information on upcoming programs and events at the McAlpin Community Club, visit the club’s group on Facebook 50 |


anything and everything relating to agriculture from farming equipment and animals to products made by local artisans. It’s the perfect representation of the town’s longstanding history in agriculture.

When an annual occasion isn’t attracting the attention of around 300 residents, the club is still busy with event rentals, monthly member meetings and citizens enjoying the Nowadays, the club hosts four newly-renovated basketball courts, programs a year playing on the teaching members swings or biking “It’s just a good an array of subjects through the oak-tree place to go and be shaded landscape. including agriculturewith people and based topics such as Though it took some socialize and learn time to get here, the how to grow tomatoes or home-related things and be a part McAlpin Community presentations like of something that’s Club has once again safety lessons in fire become a symbol good,” extinguishers. While of this small town. —Susan Fennell attendance has grown Board secretary from six to around 30 Susan Fennell notes to 40 people present, their biggest becoming a club member, which turnout from the public is during costs $20 for the year, is one of the their annual events. Family Fun best ways to enjoy all that they offer. Day, which takes place in July, is loaded with food, vendors, a bounce “It’s just a good place to go and be house and a car show plus has with people and socialize and learn become the epitome of summer things and be a part of something fun in Suwannee County. When the that’s good,” Fennell said in a phone weather cools in November, the interview. club hosts Ag Day, which features

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The Real Dirt on

Eco-Gardening Kick up the green factor in your garden this year with our roundup of Eco-friendly tips and tricks

Spring is a season of rejuvenation. As the cold days of winter drift away, spring blooms begin to sprout and grass regains its lush green look. Green is certainly a color that’s synonymous with spring. Gardening enthusiasts can find a way to make spring even more green by embracing several eco-friendly gardening practices as they bring their lawns and gardens back to life in the months to come. • Create a compost pile. Composting is an eco-friendly way to enrich lawns and gardens. Composting helps to conserve water because compost promotes moisture retention in soil, reducing homeowners’ need to water their lawns and gardens while also helping them to save money on their water bills. Composting also helps homeowners avoid the need to use potentially harmful chemical fertilizers because compost is a natural, slow release fertilizer. In addition, compostable materials make up 40 percent of residential waste. So composting can dramatically reduce the amount of waste homeowners ultimately send to landfills.

By Anne Smith

• Replace gas-powered mowers with reel lawn mowers. Reel mowers may seem like relics from simpler times, but today’s reel mowers, while just as eco-friendly as their predecessors, are unlike those of yesteryear. According to the Planet Natural Research Center, an on line resource for organic gardeners, gas-powered engines emit more than 10 times the hydrocarbons per amount of gas burned than auto engines. But reel Rain barrels are an excellent mowers are fuel-free and less way to conserve water for expensive than gas-powered gardens. mowers. Planet Natural also notes that reel mowers snip grass like scissors, leaving finer trimmings that can serve as nourishing, weed-deterring mulch for yards. • Water at the right times of day. Homeowners who water their lawns and gardens at the right time of day can help the planet and reduce their energy bills. As spring gradually gives way to summer, temperatures typically rise. Watering during the coolest times of the day means less water will be lost to evaporation, ensuring water-needy soil will get all it needs to help lawns and gardens thrive. Early morning watering before the sun reaches its midday peak and/or evening watering as the sun is setting are typically great times to water lawns and gardens, rather than when temperatures are at their hottest. • Use a rain barrel. Rain barrels provide another great way to conserve water while tending to lawns and gardens. Rain barrels collect and store rain water from roofs and downspouts, keeping water from washing into sewage systems where it can’t be put to good use. Water collected in rain barrels can be used in various ways. Many homeowners can use water from rain barrels to water their lawns, gardens and houseplants, saving money on their water bills along the way.

52 |


Real Solutions for Your REAL ESTATE Needs

Composting for Beginners

Compost enriches the soil by helping it retain moisture, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers while also suppressing plant diseases and pests and helps reduce methane emissions from landfills. Tips to help you start your own compost pile: • C oo e a acce i le ot o yo r ro erty. The less

accessible the bin is, the less likely you are to stick with composting over the long-term. The EPA also recommends placing a compost bin or pile in a dry, shady spot near a water source.

• Add t e a ro riate material . Moisten dry materials as they’re added, add brown and green materials as they are collected. Examples of green waste include grass clippings, weeds from annual plants and plant trimmings. Brown materials include dead leaves and shredded cardboard. Chop or shred large pieces before adding them to the pile Animal waste, cooked foods, diseased plants, and fresh weeds from perennial plants should not be added to a compost pile. • i e t e ile tr ct re. Layering materials can give compost piles better structure. The EPA suggests burying fruit and vegetable waste under 10 inches of compost material, including brown and green waste. •

r a d aerate t e ile. Using a garden fork, periodically turn the compost pile. This aerates the heap and provides oxygen that can accelerate the decomposition of the pile. Piles that are not periodically turned and aerated may grow malodorous. Without the heat produced by aeration, composting piles will break down very slowly.

• ecog i e w e t e material i ready. Compost is ready to use when materials at the bottom of a pile are dark and rich in color. According to the EPA, this can take anywhere from two months to two years, so composters must be patient. More information about composting can be found at

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Start a great career with next-level education programs designed to equip you with the skills, understanding and credentials you need to impress employers and reach new heights of success. Established in 1966, RIVEROAK Technical College is a hub for career training and personal growth. Located in Live Oak, the 20-acre campus offers 18 career and technical education programs to select from that lead to industry credentials. From cosmetology training to the pharmacy technician program, RIVEROAK offers highly sought after programs that help students create careers in industries they love. Read on to learn about two of their popular programs:. Surgical Technology and Welding Technology.

Surgical Technology The Surgical Technology program was implemented in 2010 and features rigorous coursework and incredible hands on experiences through student clinicals. The 12-month program is designed to take students of every skill level through the basics of medical terminology all the way to the most advanced surgery knowledge. The first few months of the course include required coursework that prepares the students for real life scenarios, like active participation in surgery! After successfully passing the course frameworks, students are given hospital rotations at various sites including the Lake City Medical Center, Lake City Surgery Center, North Florida Regional in Gainesville, Capital Regional Medical Center in Tallahassee, South Georgia Medical Center and many more. At these clinical sites, students are required to complete a certain number of cases before applying for graduation.

“The program is very rigorous,”Traci West, Director of Surgical Technology, shares. “These students are getting up at 4 or 5 a.m., then they are ready to participate in surgery at 6:30 a.m. It’s a lot to do in one year, but the students who do graduate are top notch. I’m very adamant about the quality of our graduates here at RIVEROAK.” 54 |


Surgical Technology students are given the opportunity to sit for two national boards while enrolled in the program, and once passed, the student is able to work without any other licensing. The opportunity to earn two credentials gives RIVEROAK graduates a leg up when joining the workforce. From coursework to in class labs to clinical sites, students are given a well-rounded experience that helps prepare them for the job site later on. Plus, most students are offered positions at their clinical sites upon graduation. “The program is awesome! Our placement rate after graduation is very high, we’re almost at one hundred percent. You take people that maybe don’t know what they want to do and now they have a direction and a steady job, and that’s great for the local economy,”Traci West expresses. “Anyone you can put into the workforce and have them contribute is wonderful. Plus, the medical field is always growing, you’re always going to need surgery technicians. Anyone who is interested in the medical field and has a good work ethic would do great in this program.”

Welding Technology Certified through the American Welding Society (AWS) and the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), the Welding Technology program is offered as a work at your own pace course. RIVEROAK is also a certified AWS Testing Center through partnership with Rig Fab Energy Services. For most daytime students, the program length is a little over a year, and for evening students, the program duration is nearly 2 years. From bookwork on technical skills and vital knowledge for the profession to hands on learning experiences in the shop, this program is perfect for anyone who is brand new to the trade.

credentials, certified by the AWS and NCCER. For the first AWS test of the program, 18 students attempted and 18 students received their certification! “Take a year or two to come and train and you can set yourself up to make good money for the rest of your life.” Kevin Mercer says. “We treat it like a job here. If you show up on time, you stay busy and have a good work ethic, I don’t mind calling an employer and giving a recommendation.” Did you know it’s predicted that in the next four years, there will be a demand for over 400,000 new welders? Talk about job security! If you are interested in learning more about the program, visit or give RIVEROAK Technical College a call.

Interested In Applying?

“We’ve had guys go through the program and go straight to work upon graduation. Their employers have called me and been more than happy with them,” Kevin Mercer, Welding Instructor, says. “They are really young guys going out and making well over $100,000 a year. I have several students in their early twenties who have taken shop foreman positions and are supervisors over whole companies already. Something is working!” From safety precautions to job expectations, students in the Welding Technology program are given all the tools necessary to succeed in the field. Through the program, students have the opportunity to earn up to 13 different

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Miracle’s SWEET SHOP!

By Jeweliana Register Curtis

There’s nothing quite like the taste of a homemade chocolate chip cookie. The rich chocolate chips blend with the buttery crunch of the batter to create a taste that just feels like home. It’s pure happiness, and we definitely believe it can add a little sunshine to the darkest of days. Unfortunately, these little drops of homemade heaven can be hard to come by these days, with most people being pressed for time. Luckily, Miracle’s Sweet Shop is changing the narrative and crafting up delicious, homemade goods that are made right in Lake City. From perfectly balanced

fresh lemon cookies to moist banana nut bread, these sweet treats are devoured each week by devoted customers. Miracle Graham began Miracle’s Sweet Shop just over 3 years ago out of a passion for baking and creating in the kitchen. She had a genuine love for making scrumptious desserts for her family, and one day her grandfather, Earl Peeler, decided he would share his granddaughter’s treats with his friends. Soon after, Miracle received inquires about ordering, and this was the start of Miracle’s Sweet Shop. At the time, Miracle was still a high school student, and even though she was homeschooled, she limited her baking time to just one day a week. With the support of her family, Miracle Graham Miracle would crank out orders and deliver treats to her customers each week. However, their kitchen did not have the capacity to bake large quantities of desserts at a time, so Miracle would drive around to her family’s homes nearby to borrow their ovens as well! This took incredible precision and time management to ensure that each batch was cooked properly and not overdone or underdone. “She was home schooled at the time, so I only let her bake one day a week because she would have much rather baked than done algebra,” Leslie Graham, Miracle’s mother,

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jokes. “At the time, she would drive around the property to take all of her orders. She had a route that she would stick to and a very strict schedule.” With growing demand for her confections, it became clear that Miracle was in need of a larger space in order to grow. Her grandparents, Earl and Faye Peeler, generously gifted her with a wooden building, completely outfitted with everything she needed to be successful as a home baker. From large ovens to long counter workspaces, Miracle’s Sweet Shop operations were well under way. Now, instead of fulfilling operations from her family’s kitchen that could only support a dozen cookies at a time, Miracle is able to have her own space and bake in larger quantities, making the process run smoothly. “I love to bake and I think the saying that if you love what you do then it doesn’t feel like work is so true,” Miracle says. “I really do love being out there baking, it’s being self employed in the best possible way.” Aside from baking, Miracle is a history lover and avid reenactor at The Olustee Festival. She loves getting to step into the past and experience the rich history of the Civil War era. Miracle would much rather have something laced with history than a brand new item, so whenever her grandparents were outfitting her business, they were able to purchase a multitude of kitchen accessories from the Chasteen family. At the time, Chasteen’s Downtown was closing its doors, so many of their measuring cups, kitchen tools and huge stand mixer found a new home with Miracle’s Sweet Shop. “I just love that tie to the community,” Miracle shares. “Mrs. Emmie Chasteen made so many amazing desserts out of that mixer, and I love being able to bake with it now.” Miracle’s Sweet Shop features a rotating menu of regular and seasonal items, such as chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, lemon cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, pound cakes, banana nut bread, rice krispy treats, and brownies. Her customers love the homemade element of the business, and Miracle delivers to many of her customers every single week. She also has her own quality control and taste testing team at home with her brothers, she jokes. It really is a family affair! “What I really love about this community is how much people support her. They could go to Publix or Walmart and buy a pack of cookies, but they choose to buy from her instead,” Leslie explains. “I love Lake City and this community because they support local people, which is really what it’s all about.”

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2014 Columbia County Information Guide | 21

“To me I look at this as being a blessing.” —Rick Kennington

Kase, Ashley, Kevin, Kelsie, Rick and Donna Kennington

By Emily Pazel Tammy Johns Photography

Over more than a half of a century ago, Dr. Armand Hammer, CEO of Occidental Petroleum invested 67 million dollars in a phosphate operation in North Florida, opening the doors to hundreds of jobs and fueling the economy unlike any other company in the region at the time.

Mike Williams

Manager of Government & Industry Affairs

“The first rock on the pile, so to speak, was in 1966,” said Mike Williams, Nutrien’s Manager of Government & Industry Affairs. “So, we’ve been mining here for 54 years, and we have been both a community partner and economic engine for our region.”


Back in the early–to-mid 1960s, Occidental Chemical Corporation became interested in the phosphate reserves on land in Hamilton County located near the town of White Springs, Florida.

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After analyzing samples and speaking with professional geologists about the site, the company decided to purchase some land and start mining the area for phosphate. Throughout the years, Oxy owned and operated the facility from its inception until around the middle of the 1990s. In March 1995, the company was sold to Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, also known as PCS. Around 2006, the company rebranded itself to PotashCorp of White Springs. Then, in 2018, PotashCorp and Agrium, a major retail supplier of fertilizer and agricultural products, initiated a plan to combine forces.

NUTRIEN HAS BLESSED GENERATIONS OF FAMILIES For as long as the mine has been open and operating, multiple generations of family members have been able to work and gain experience in the mining industry, such as Rick Kennington, a Maintenance Supervisor, who has worked there for almost 41 years and has had many family members work there as well. Kennington said he started from the hourly ranks when he first began in 1979, and was able to work his way up in the company to his current position. His father-inlaw, two brothers-in-law and his son, Kevin Kennington, have all worked or are currently working at the mine. “Lake City is a small town in North Florida, and Occidental Chemical was a major workplace,” he said. “Everyone desired to work here.” Coming out of high school, Kennington said that your choices were to go to work or continue your education and go to college. His interests, at the time, were in going to work. So naturally, he said that he pursued a job at the mine. “Then, when my son started here around 2006, it was still the best employer in town,” he said. “He just followed suit, and like me, he has a family and is responsible in raising that family, so he chased the dream.” Kennington said the best thing about working at the phosphate mine in North Florida is that it is a good location to work. He believes that it is a safe environment that allows you to learn and expand in yourself as you grow in your own tenure. “To me, I look at this as being a blessing,” he said. “To have a job like this and have accomplished 41 years, and I don’t have anything but high remarks for anyone who comes out here to be a part of it.”

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“It was called a merger of equals,” Williams said. “It transpired January 1, 2018, and with both companies bringing a lot to the table, they decided on the new name of the company to become Nutrien.” Nutrien grows its world from the ground up – promoting sustainable agriculture, best management practices, and new technologies, all to ensure an abundant food supply to help feed the world. The company is now two years into the merger, Williams explained, and due to the synergies of the two highly diversified companies, Nutrien has become one of the largest fertilizer companies in the world. Nutrien, as a whole, produces and distributes over 27 million tons of potash, nitrogen and phosphate products for agricultural, industrial and feed customers all over the world. “It’s a huge company,” Williams said, “and we’re just a small part of it here in White Springs.” LOCAL PHOSPHATE OPERATIONS & ECONOMIC IMPACT With approximately 100,000 acres of land nestled among the southeastern part of Hamilton County, Nutrien’s White Springs facility currently employs around 600 full-time employees with annual payroll of roughly $50 million. That number does not include the hundreds of local and regional contractors who also service the operation. The company’s employment ranges with a wide variety of positions extending from warehouse workers, heavy equipment operators, maintenance, electrical, mine operations, chemical operations, environmental, engineers, geologists, as well as a fully equipped administrative building staffed with accountants, human resources, information technology and professionals working in the purchasing department. The majority of Nutrien’s workforce comes from what Williams likes to call “the big three”, which would be

of new technology and best management practices. Columbia, Suwannee and Hamilton Counties. Although Environmental stewardship is a core value for Nutrien. “the big three” make up roughly 90 percent of the We focus on meeting or exceeding all permit conditions company, the other 10 percent comes from as far north and requirements established by the as Valdosta, Georgia, COMMITTED TO COMMUNITY regulatory agencies.” and from as far south as “When we give to the United Alachua or Gainesville, At White Springs, they mine phosphate rock, Way, we are investing in our Florida. then process and convert the phosphate “It’s definitely a place where people like to work,” he said. “We focus on a culture of safety, diversity and inclusion, environmental stewardship and performance. We like to think of each other as a work family and we look out for each other’s safety.”

communities and we make our communities a better place to live and work. In return, we gain empathy, perspective and a sense of purpose,” says Leslie O’Donoghue, Nutrien Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy and Corporate Development Officer. The Nutrien United Way of Suwannee Valley team raised $114,564 to kick start the 2019-2020 campaign.

Nutrien also does a lot of work with local and statewide contractors. Although some contractors may not be from the local area, when they come to work at Nutrien for several days and weeks at a time, they are eating locally, staying the night in local hotels and adding to the local economy.

rock into phosphoric acid at the chemical plant. This product is the base from which all of our products are made. Locally, White Springs manufactures Black Super Phosphoric Acid, Green Super Phosphoric Acid, MonoAmmonium Phosphate (MAP), and Sulphur Enhanced MAP (MST). These products are distributed throughout the country and beyond, and used in plant nutrients and animal feed – both which help feed the world.

An important aspect of the mining operation is to make sure the land returns back, as close as possible, to its natural state for the local wildlife to take over and make it their homes.

“If you know anything about economic turnover, we pay our employees and then our employees live within these various communities and spend their money locally,” he said. “So, they say that money usually ends up turning over about three or four times.”

“Before the shovel ever hits the dirt, we have a document that’s called the conceptual reclamation plan or (CRP) which must be reviewed and approved by the regulatory agencies,” Williams said. “That document takes a thorough look at what the land looks like before mining and what it will look like once it’s finished, including what the elevation will be, drainage patterns, type of trees, type of land, and much more.”

During its peak years around the 1980’s, Williams explained that the company employed around 2,200 people. This number has decreased due to advances in technology and our operational structure. Although the company has changed names and faces a few times over the years, it has always remained an asset to the region’s economic growth.

The reclamation process is crucial to our operations, ensuring that the land is properly restored to a beneficial use. While this is done a few different ways, Nutrien prides itself with using all local and native varieties of plant species to create different types of uplands, wetlands and land and lakes that make up the landscape post mining.


“We take great pride in our environmental stewardship,” Williams said. “Our reclamation process is great for all the natural wildlife in our area.”

As the White Springs facility operates as a phosphate mine, sourcing and processing phosphate ore into phosphate rock, and phosphate products, it strives to be a good environmental steward and continually looks for ways to create a better, more sustainable environment for the local area. One of the most pressing issues that the state of Florida is facing today, Williams explained is water. Since the company opened its doors over 50 years ago, Nutrien has been able to reduce their water usage by over 50 percent. “It’s our planet, and we live here too,” Williams said. “At the end of the day, the reason why we have been successful at reducing water usage, is through use

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GIVING BACK “Nutrien provides many different types of scholarships for our students and they have especially focused their support on STEM careers for women and underrepresented groups. Over the past two years Nutrien, has been the lead sponsor of FGC summer camps helping hundreds of youth in our community attend enrichment programs that never could have afforded it without their support.” —Lawrence Barrett, Ed.D.

GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY At the Nutrien White Springs Facility, giving back to the community is a key part in what the company strives to achieve. Each year, the mining company produces thousands of dollars that are put back into the community through generously donating to community projects and organizations that help our local neighbors. “We love Lake City, and we love this region,” Williams said. “White Springs, Jasper, we consider all of those our communities, and we try to be engaged with all of them at some point and support their community building and educational activities.” Some of the key focuses that Nutrien chooses to be a part of include anything that supports STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education, diversity and inclusion, women working in non-traditional roles, environmental stewardship sustainable agriculture and food security organizations that help with getting food to those that need it most. “Food security is a big one for us mainly because we’re

an agricultural company, and don’t think that anyone should go to bed hungry,” Williams said. Within the local regional area, Nutrien is involved with several organizations, such as United Way, Christmas Dream Machine, Chamber of Commerce, Florida Gateway College, Future Farmers of America, Florida Gateway Food Bank, as well as several other community events, local education foundations, local health and wellness events, and county fairs. “If it’s good for the community and good for the people in the community, those are the things that we look for,” Williams said. “We really believe in empowering women in non-traditional roles, which we have done here. And we strive to recognize the value of all our employees.” Nutrien sees that giving back to the community as an essential part of being involved within the local region – and not just on a corporate level.

Many Nutrien employees, no matter where they live, go above and beyond by volunteering in churches, coaching youth sport leagues or reaching out individually to those that need help the most. “We don’t want to just operate in a community, we want to be a part of our community and be a community partner,” Williams said. “So, we strive for that.” As long as the local phosphate company continues its operations, it will remain a company with the key principles of safety, environmental stewardship, believing in its employees, fueling the economic growth of the local area and giving back to its community.

EMPOWERING WOMEN AT NUTRIEN Maenell B. Bailey, a Chief Operator at the Suwannee River Chemical Plant, first started working at the phosphate mining company in White Springs 44 years ago, back in 1976. Bailey was born and raised in Columbia County and saw an opportunity to start working at the mine when she was in her early 20’s. Overtime, she climbed the ranks within the company, starting from entry-level maintenance and making her way to her current position as Chief Operator at one of the mine’s chemical plants. “I try to encourage women to do what they want to do,” she said. “Don’t just think you’re limited to a position because you’re a woman. I came into the position

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by watching, learning and telling myself, ‘I can do that’.” Bailey said that even though she works in a predominantly male environment, she does not let that influence her work. She stays focused on the tasks at hand and tries to inspire others to do the same. “The best part of working here is the opportunity to learn and grow and advance,” she said. “Your pay plays a part in it, but you also have to want it.” While working at the mine, Bailey said that no two days are the same and it can be a challenging job at times. However, that’s what keeps it interesting and keeps her moving forward.

“I would love to see more women come and apply,” she said. “This isn’t just a male environment, Maenell B. Bailey it’s for CHIEF OPERATOR everyone Suwannee River Chemical Plant if you give yourself an opportunity to try.” Bailey just turned 65 years old in July and has no plans on retiring any time soon. She loves her job and loves what she does, and plans to keep working for as long as she can.

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go On — Brag About Your Teacher!

Belinda Fries

Teacher of The Year Education is where it all starts and teachers who work to inspire are those who make a difference. We celebrate three District Teachers of the Year who diligently work to become better teachers, reach more students, and ensure a higher degree of learning so our children have the tools necessary for the future.

Congratulations goes to: Belinda Fries, Technical Education Instructor, Suwannee High School; Ryan Mitchell, Teacher Support Colleague at Hamilton County High School; and Alan Gatzke, a Fort White Elementary School fifth-grade math and science teacher. We commend these educators for the work they do. These teachers genuinely appreciate their profession: they strive to discover and devise teaching methods so students experience the Aha! moment of genuine learning. They work, taking great pleasure in mentoring and encouraging our children to embrace success. 66 |


Technical Education Instructor, Suwannee High School Suwannee County Teacher of The Year

“I love being in the classroom with the kids,” said Belinda Fries. “My favorite part of teaching is encouraging them to do their best. I love showing them they have the ability to be anything they want. Some of these kids don’t know they can be amazing human beings. Being able to share that is a great gift. I am inspired when students realize their potential and want to do more, even though the pressures of their world can be quite difficult.”

She added, “I see the amazing things teachers are doing – inspiring students, fellow teachers, and their communities. I see how educators change lives. We have faculty who truly care about student success.”

Ryan Mitchell Instructional Coach, Hamilton County High School Hamilton County Teacher of The Year

Ryan Mitchell, Hamilton County Teacher of the Year assists high school and middle school teachers with instructional modeling, lessons and planning, and demonstrating various methods of teaching. But his passion is helping students find success in school and in their communities.

“I know the influence teachers have in student’s lives. My inspiration comes from the students we serve. I’m amazed at their resiliency and determination. I’ve seen them overcome insurmountable odds and work to achieve their goals. I teach to help students find opportunities to create a brighter and better future for themselves and their communities.” “This award is especially important for me now. Receiving peer recognition is wonderful and energizing. Receiving this award for my family touches my heart.” Mitchell’s father, Hamilton County School District Superintendent Rex Mitchell, was the first teacher to receive this award in Hamilton County. As he retires at the end of this school year, his son receiving the same award highlights the family’s impact in Hamilton County.

Alan Gatzke Fort White Elementary School Fifth-Grade Math & Science Teacher Columbia County Teacher of The Year

Alan Gatzke, a Fort White Elementary School fifth-grade math and science teacher brings more than 40 years’ experience to education. “This award is an honor, it really is,” Gatzke said. “Recognition by your peers and the community means so much.”

Gatzke adds, “I am passionate about teaching mathematics and writing. My quest for strategies and methods to help students learn has consumed so much of my life. What touches me most is to see my students succeed in life. I am thrilled when they stop by to share good news. Contributing to the success of my students is a source of great personal satisfaction.” “Retirement,” Gatzke wondered. “Why? I’ve been doing this for 43 years. As long as I enjoy what I’m doing I’m not going to quit.”

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THE MOST IMPORTANT THING Parents Can Do for Their Kids

By Anne Smith

Enjoy this new book called The Power of Showing Up. What does it mean to “show up?” If you do have kids then you know how hard it is to be 100 % emotionally available to your kids 24/7. Goodness, we aren’t even emotionally available to ourselves all day and what if there is more than one child? Here are a few tips for being the best mom or dad you can be by being emotionally available to your kids and “showing up.”


So Important! Whether this is at dinner time or when they get home for school, if the kids know that they regularly have access to you to talk about their day then they will naturally feel free to open up to you. This becomes especially valuable as they get older and must deal with more complex emotions that could do with your years of experience and insight.


When a child is telling you something it is important to look them in the eyes, so they know that you are listening. This is an important part of “showing up.” It makes your child feel you are emotionally available to them.

The Power of Showing Up: How Parental Presence Shapes Who Our Kids Become and How Their Brains Get Wired: Siegel, Daniel J., Bryson, Tina Payne


So, so very important! Touching your children often and with supportive love goes the extra mile in making them feel secure. Sure, as those tweens and teenagers mature, they may need a little less – but they always remember you are there for them.


Make sure to remember when something important is happening in your children’s lives and think about sending them a quick supportive text message or adding something nice in their lunch box on a difficult day. As adults our time gets away from us with life’s bombardments – but set that reminder on your phone or add to your daily calendar.


Be sure and make your me or couple time a priority. Getting away from yourself means switching off and relaxing in order to self-heal, whether you go to a yoga class, a walk on the beach or stay in bed for a whole day. Everyone needs these resets to continue “showing up” as a parents without eventually crumbling.

Tina Payne Bryson is a psychotherapist and founder and executive director of The Center for Connection and the Play Strong Institute in California. But she is best known for having co-authored The Whole Brain Child as well as The Yes Brain and No-Drama Discipline, the former of which was a New York Times best seller. Her new book, The Power of Showing Up, aims to radically alter the way parents view what it means to ‘parent’ well. In the book Bryson and and co-author Dr. Daniel Siegel suggest that kids really only need a few things to thrive in an ever-changing world: the sense of feeling safe, seen, and soothed, all of which helps them form secure attachment bonds with their parents and then, down the line, helps them build resiliency in the face of stress and create healthy relationships with others.

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g n i t a r o c e D D.C.

Suwannee High School Students Create Ornaments for the White House By Hayli Zuccola

Since 1923, the White House has served as the landmark backdrop for the elegantly decorated National Christmas Tree, whose twinkling lights illuminate President’s Park throughout the holiday season. The 2019 celebration, which marked the 97th annual tree lighting ceremony, featured a newly-planted 30-foottall Colorado blue spruce that overlooked the Ellipse – a 52-acre park located just south of the White House. Surrounding the lush conifer stood 56 smaller trees that represented each U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia, each evergreen branch adorned with handmade ornaments from students in schools across the country. (Left to Right) Cindy Wiggins, the Suwannee High School guidance counselor; Pam Williams, the school’s art teacher; and Tammy Boggus, the assistant principal, stand beside the Florida tree in front of the White House in Washington, D.C.

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(Left to Right) Back Row: Kaylee Medina, Attison Elliott, Alana Combs, Tori Lane, Christina Taylor, Lucy Jolicoeur, Kersten Dye; Front Row: James Howard, Karen Arreguin, Ava Forehand, Padyn Chaney, Kelsey Little and Paige Smith.

(Left to Right) Jeff Jones, Azucena Gonzalez, Amber Thompson, Akiyah Selena Perez, Courtney Anderson, Tobie Peterson, Tayryn O’Hara, Kassidy High and Jake Wooley.

Pam Williams has taught two and three dimensional art at Suwannee High School for the past 17 years, but it wasn’t until recently that she was able to showcase her students’ talent in a whole new light. Every year the National Park Service partners with the U.S. Department of Education to work with state art and education agencies to decide which schools are chosen to illustrate their state with 24 handdecorated Christmas ornaments. This year, that honor went to the students of Suwannee High School who would pay homage to the Sunshine State. Williams first learned that her students would be part of the “America Celebrates” display in October and quickly began Suwannee High School student Tiffany Fields was one of 23 artists who designed Christmas ornaments for the Florida tree at the White House.

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picking the best of her advanced artists who could capture the natural beauty of Florida on a six-inch sphere. Rather than depicting iconic destinations like Walt Disney World and other tourist-friendly attractions, Williams and her students used this opportunity to highlight the breathtaking environmental aspects Florida has to offer. From chubby manatees surrounded by seaweed, bright pink flamingos perched near the water and sea turtles swimming with the current to swirls of hurricane winds, a painting of a Northern Mockingbird and scenic landscapes, each ornament was a miniature artwork on display for D.C. visitors to enjoy through January 1. What’s even more impressive about the students’ creative skills is the fact that

Suwannee High School was picked by the Arts Education Specialist for the Florida Department of Education, according to Autumn Cook who is the Public Affairs Specialist with the National Park Service. The fact that Suwannee High School was specifically chosen to participate in such a prestigious event is a true testament to the capabilities among the student artists. “We have a really fantastic art program,” Williams said in a phone interview. “Even though we’re small, we have some really fantastic artists, you know, we’re always showing our artwork and competing in different art shows so there’s a lot of stuff going on here.” To watch the 2019 National Christmas Tree Lighting, visit

Michael Boris “This sweet and savory chicken recipe is delicious! Wow your spring dinner guests!”

Photo & recipe courtesy of

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken INGREDIENTS: • 1 cup packed brown sugar • 3/4 cup ketchup • 3/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce • 1/3 cup sherry or chicken broth • 2-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic • 24 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 5 pounds)

L A K E CI T Y 2 0 1 6 E ast D uval S t. O p en 7 D ay s A W eek 8 a.m.- 8 p .m.


MIN Prep Time


MIN Total Time



PREPARATION: In a small bowl, mix the first 6 ingredients. Reserve 1-1/3 cups for basting; cover and refrigerate. Divide remaining marinade between 2 large shallow dishes. Add 12 chicken thighs to each; turn to coat. Refrigerate, covered, for 8 hours or overnight. Drain chicken, discarding marinade. Grill chicken, covered, on an oiled rack over medium heat for 6-8 minutes on each side or until a thermometer reads 170°; baste occasionally with reserved marinade during the last 5 minutes. TIPS: For grilling, we love the moistness of chicken thighs, and they’re economical, too. But use any cut of chicken you like. This sweet and savory glaze is also fantastic on pork chops. Transport yourself to Hawaii without firing up the grill! Pat chicken dry with paper towels; sear in a touch of oil in a skillet or grill pan. Transfer to a 375-degree oven for basting and baking.

L IV E O A K 1 5 2 9 S . O h io A ve. O p en 7 D ay s A W eek 8 a.m.- 8 p .m.

M A CCL E N N Y 8 1 6 6 th S t. O p en 7 D ay s A W eek 8 a.m.- 8 p .m.

S T A R K E 1 3 7 4 S . W al nut S t. O p en 7 D ay s A W eek 8 a.m.- 8 p .m. Spring 2020 | 75

Naval (SW 6244) Looking to make a big statement in your home? This gorgeous navy shade is both classy and timeless. Pair this shade with creamy white hues, wood accents and finishes of gold for a stunning art-deco look, perfect for the ‘20’s reimagined.

WELCOME TO THE ROARING 20’S! A Comprehensive 2020 Color Forecast By Jeweliana Register Curtis

It’s the beginning of a new year and a new decade, so why not spice up your spaces? Welcome in the new with a fresh coat of paint in your home and consider drawing inspiration from Shermin Williams’ 2020 color forecast. If you’ve been waiting to redesign your bedroom or create the office of your dreams, we are here to say there is no time like the present! From dreamy hues to bold statement tones, check out these six paint colors that are going to be hot this year.

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Sleepy Blue (SW 6225) A peaceful and calming tone, this soft blue meets grey shade has us swooning this season. Consider this shade for a guest bedroom, giving guests the opportunity to unwind and relax in their own tranquil paradise. Combined with soft neutral shades and lots of cozy blankets and pillows, Sleepy Blue is sure to give you nothing but sweet dreams all year long. Pure White (SW 7005) Do you love the look of crisp, clean walls? Maybe you are wanting to downsize and embrace the look of minimalism, or perhaps you simply want to brighten up your space. Whatever your reasoning is, this shade is perfect for giving your room a facelift. Paired with warm tones, the space becomes instantly cozy, but paired with cool tones it is effortlessly chic. No matter your style, Pure White just may be your perfect match.

Ripe Olive (SW 6209) This color packs a punch! With it’s dramatic depth and creamy richness, Ripe Olive is just what you need to revamp your space this year. Scared to dive in to this bold choice? Consider using it on an accent wall to test it out in your room before totally committing. Sandbank (SW 6052) The most perfect salmon pink meets its neutral match in this paint color. This is the perfect compromise for a space that may be girly meets bohemian style without going totally pink on the walls. This whimsical choice would also be perfect for a reading nook or sitting area, adding a subtle pop to the area. Tassel (SW 6369) While this shade may be a bit intimidating at first, this golden hue is the perfect color to accent a wall in your home. Pairing perfectly with warm hues and neutral furniture choices, Tassel offers a nod to the art deco and mid-century modern style. So go ahead and make the leap - you won’t regret it!

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The location for the 2020 Olustee Festival was Wilson Park at Lake DeSoto, a newly constructed area complete with upgraded features and a stunning view of the lake and historic downtown. The space has room for over 130 vendors total, with 40 spots offering electrical and water hookups for those vendors that need power. Custom designed with festivals and celebrations such as the Olustee Festival, Wilson Park at Lake DeSoto gives the area room to expand, change and grow with the times. 78 |


By Jeweliana Register Curtis

As the Battle of Olustee Festival celebrates its 42nd year, the city of Lake City is proud to announce the new home of the festival: Wilson Park at Lake DeSoto. Food vendors, small shops, reenactors and festival goers alike gather to reminisce about the past and join in present festivities. With over 25,000 attendees in 2019, the Olustee Festival proved to be growing at a rapid pace, calling for a larger venue space that can accommodate the crowd.

various lots near downtown will be great for those who may be injured or disabled, as the walk to the festival may be shorter. The parking areas are also well lit and maintained, keeping public safety at the utmost importance.

While there is still work to be done in the area, one phase of the Wilson Park at Lake DeSoto project is complete: the installation of a 500-person seating area. In the future this will be used for concerts With the new location of the festival and events held around the lake, but comes many benefits, such as the festival attendees are encouraged to grab reliability of the electricity and the a seat and enjoy a meal with friends, or capacity to hold a large number of perhaps find a spot to watch the annual vendors. Along with these, the elimination skirmish. The proximity to events and of tents in the streets of downtown Lake activities over the festival duration will City means encourage that there the “It has room to grow and you will see the will be more community signage available for area businesses. Some to explore parking available of those businesses are just right across the all that to festival street so there will be easy access to those,” makes attendees. Olustee so Joe Helfenberger, City Manager of Lake special. “It has room “We are City, says. “We think this will help the to grow and excited event to continue to grow.” you will see to see the the signage Olustee available for area businesses. Some of Festival this year in this new venue and those businesses are just right across wish it a lot of success. We hope people the street so there will be easy access to enjoy themselves,” Joe Helfenberger those,” Joe Helfenberger, City Manager of expresses. “We’d love to hear from those Lake City, says. “We think this will help the who attend in terms of how things went event to continue to grow.” and we always are encouraging of any suggestions for the future because we With safety as a top priority, Wilson Park want continuous improvement. We want at Lake DeSoto has been fully equipped to keep all the elements that make the with safety lighting for those evening Olustee Festival what it is, but at the same activities, as well as other public safety time trying to accommodate for future regulations. The parking now available in growth here.”

Joe Helfenderger. City Manager

Lake City’s New Park By Sean McMahon

City planners have been working on this vision for some time, according to Mayor Stephen Witt. “The park was basically built with the Olustee Festival in mind,” he said. “We worked with the Blue Grey Army and our own public works people to make it happen.” Vendors can set up in secure locations that are easily accessible for everyone. Mayor Witt praised the vendors area which features standard electricity and water hookups. “This setup greatly improves safety,” he noted. “The park has great features for the vendors.” Several areas have been cleared out to provide parking close to the park. Everything in the park flows to Lake DeSoto and the paved walking path that goes around the water. In the future, Wilson Park will be available for other festivals or private events. Mayor Witt noted that a bandshell is being built over the water. Tiered seating will provide space for people to enjoy music and festivities. As more residences and businesses locate downtown, the entire area will be energized. The future looks bright for Lake City’s Wilson Park.

Spring 2020 | 79

Hope For the Future


By: Joy Coleman

Discover Education That Works Best for Your Child Step Up For Students is an organization that helps administer five scholarships for Florida schoolchildren: the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (FTC) and the Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) for lowerincome families, the Gardiner Scholarship for children with certain special needs, the Hope Scholarship for public school students who are bullied or victims of violence and the Reading Scholarship Accounts for public school students in third through fifth grade who struggle with reading. These five scholarships give parents a way to make the best decision when in choosing learning options for their children. Step Up for Students has an emphasis on families who lack the information and financial resources to reach these options on their own. The organization believes all children deserve the opportunity to attend a school that best fits their needs – especially the most vulnerable students who are lower-income, victims of bullying, have unique abilities, and those who identify as LGBTQ.

Could your child be next??

Step Up for Students has provided nearly 900,000 scholarships over the last 19 years. This year, across five programs, they are helping 144,000 students, most of whom are minorities, with scholarships totaling nearly $1 billion. These scholarships strengthen public

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education by providing options to struggling schoolchildren. The organization is considered a partner of public schools in giving all students the tools toward success.

Income Based Income Based

The Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship and the Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) are based on financial need and allow parents to find new schools for their children. Both scholarships are based on financial need not how well a child does in school. Children who are in foster care, out-of-home care, or homeless are eligible for both scholarships. A) The FTC Scholarship allows families to choose between financial assistance toward private school tuition and fees or with transportation costs to attend a public school in another district. B) The FES is only used towards private school tuition and fees. Email for information:

SpecialNeeds Needs Special

Does your child have unique abilities or special needs? The Gardiner Scholarship allows parents to tailor the education of their Pre-K through 12th grade children with certain special needs by directing money toward a combination of approved programs. Email for information:

BulliedStudents Students Bullied

The Hope Scholarship allows parents of children in public school to find a new school for their child who is being bullied or a victim of violence. Parents have the opportunity to place their child in a safer

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school environment or allows them to transfer their child to another in-district public school under the scholarship. Email for information:

ReadingHelp Help Reading

Is your public-school child having trouble reading? The Reading Scholarship allows parents with children in public school 3rd through 5th grade to access services for children who are having trouble reading. The Reading Scholarship offers parents access to education savings accounts worth $500 each, to pay for tuition and fees related to part-time tutoring, summer and afterschool literacy programs, instructional materials and curriculum related to reading or literacy. Email for information:

Application through Step Up for Students

( Call the Service Center Monday – Friday 1-877-735-7837 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. EST (Income-based, Hope and Reading Scholarships) 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. EST (Gardiner Scholarship, All Schools and All Providers)

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HISTORY One man’s passion, a legislature’s resolve In 1998, a young Tampa venture capitalist named John Kirtley discovered the lack of educational options available for lowincome children and took matters into his own hands. Kirtley, working with the national Children’s Scholarship Fund, created the Children’s Scholarship Fund of Tampa Bay to provide privately funded scholarships for low-income children to attend a K-8 school of their choice. In three months, with little publicity, his program received 12,500 applications for 750 scholarships. His passion was born. With Kirtley’s help, lawmakers in 2001 created the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. The program gave corporations credit for redirecting their state tax obligations toward K-12 scholarships that helped low-income families send their children to participating private schools or to public schools outside their districts. Upon the program’s passage, Florida House Rep. Joe Negron, who sponsored the legislation, said, “This puts the parents in charge.” And the rest is HISTORY.

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Legacy s e m Jag omery t n o M Remembering James “Mr. Mont” Montgomery By Hayli Zuccola

Photos submitted by Florida Gateway College, Habitat for Humanity and Linda (Danielson) Williams.

It’s been eight years since I sat in a creaky school desk to scribble hundreds of hand-cramping, pencil-etched notes on American history. Despite the passing years, I’ve yet to discard any of those lengthy pages describing how the City of Boston used crates of tea to fight for liberty; how a bedtime story and a filing cabinet inspired “The Wizard of Oz,” or how we celebrate our independence on the 4th when it was declared two days prior. And yes, these lessons exist in history books and Paul Harvey collections across the country, but not everyone had the privilege of hearing them from James Montgomery – better known by his students as the foot-shuffling, “just-for-funsies” storyteller Mr. Mont.

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Ask anyone how they knew James Montgomery and you’ll get a mix of responses. He was a lifelong friend, beloved teacher, Scoutmaster, County Commissioner, fellow parishioner – the list goes on and on. But ask who he was, and you’ll get the same set of answers. He was kind, caring and generous; he was a visual storyteller and avid history buff ; he had a passion for his hometown and education; but most of all, he could make anyone he ever met feel special. His passing in early December not only affected those he befriended throughout his 86 years but left a void in the community he spent his entire life making a better place.

Despite having an immeasurable and unmatched altruistic character, he found a way to expand his efforts in making a difference by becoming County Commissioner – an elected position he held for 28 years. Even in his golden years, Montgomery never retired from finding ways to give back to the community, not for recognition or personal satisfaction, but because of the undying devotion he had for the small town he called home for the past eight decades. “I think the thing that stood out the most to me was his caring, giving nature. He just, he never quit doing that, he always gave. Whatever needed

to be done he gave. He supported just about everything that came along,” Lee McDuffie, a fellow parishioner of First Presbyterian Church, said in a phone interview.

SIGHTS ON THE GREAT OUTDOORS Aside from his charitable personality, those that knew him best agree that Montgomery was a proficient athlete in his heyday and always had an adoration for the great outdoors. While growing up, Montgomery played baseball, basketball and tennis – the latter of which followed him into adulthood. In addition to coaching the girls tennis team at Columbia High


Born on March 14, 1933, James Horace Montgomery was the youngest of three boys and as the son of a pastor, he dedicated his life to community service intending to follow in his father’s footsteps. Though his aspirations ultimately changed, he never faltered from his philanthropic nature. Over the years, Montgomery joined an assortment of boards, committees and organizations far too extensive to recount. Whether it was developing a scholarship fund for incoming Florida Gateway College students; advocating and supporting the Lake City Humane Society and their new wellness center that bears his name; serving as an elder and Sunday School teacher at his church; volunteering for Habitat for Humanity or reestablishing the youth tennis camp program. There wasn’t a specific concern that captured his attention, rather he gave his time, support and donations to wherever and whoever needed them. “He had a people passion and he loved everybody and he wanted the best for the community and I don’t think it was just a passion for ‘a thing’ it was a passion for the community to make it a better place,” said Dolly Robinson who played and coached tennis with Montgomery sharing in his endeavor to revive the racket fever among the neighborhood kids.

Spring 2020 | 87

School for 17 years and leading the 1974 Girl’s Tennis Team to win the Gateway Conference title. He hosted yearly tennis camps at Young’s Park during the ’60s and ’70s to teach the sport to a younger generation, which was an integral part in the development of the Montgomery Youth Summer Tennis Camp – an initiative by the Lake City Columbia Community Tennis Association to reintroduce the popular summer tradition to the local Boys and Girls Clubs. When he wasn’t divulging his expertise on the tennis courts, he used his experience as an Eagle Scout as Scoutmaster of Troop 85. “He knew a lot about what we were studying and what we were learning because he was very much an outdoorsman,” said McDuffie, who was also a Scout in Montgomery’s troop. Whether it was canoeing, fishing or gardening, Montgomery wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty if it meant soaking up the sunshine and taking in the fresh air. “He loved his outdoor work in the yard. He did it at his home and he also was very active in keeping up the grounds at the First Presbyterian Church too. He worked up there probably daily in some way,” McDuffie said. “So many things about James that you knew, you just took for

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granted because he was always there and he always helped.” In appreciation of the great outdoors, Montgomery readily welcomed the call of the wild whether he planted blossoming Bradford pear trees along the entrance to CHS or cared for the landscaped facade of his church. His love of nature was part of his identity and his name synonymous with some of the city’s natural elements like the lily pad speckled wetlands of Alligator Lake – home to a three-mile hiking trail that bears his name – and fishing favorite Lake Montgomery. “He was the deer whisperer,” recalled Linda (Danielson) Williams, who was Montgomery’s next-door neighbor for 25 years, his former student, tennis player and friend. “He actually could call them up close and he’d hand-feed them some corn.” Though he loved his hometown, Montgomery wasn’t afraid to venture outside of his comfort zone. “Every summer he took a trip. He would just pick a place he wanted to go and he’d join up with a group that was going,” she said.


Though it wasn’t what he initially set out to do, Mr. Mont was born to teach and while he did so as a scout leader, tennis coach and Sunday School lecturer, he was truly in his element as a history teacher.



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With a fading expo marker or dwindling piece of chalk in hand, he’d sketch vague squiggles representing various countries or figures, but with his words and lectures, he’d make any historical event come to life. After graduating from Davidson College in North Carolina, he went to seminary in Virginia in preparation to become a minister back home, but while in his senior year he realized his calling was through teaching – and so he taught. After teaching at the elementary and high school level, Mr. Mont welcomed his retirement with a position as a college professor. “He cared about a lot of things. He cared about Columbia County, but he really, really was passionate about education,” Mike Lee, who is a member of The Foundation for FGC, said in a phone interview. Lee, who served on the Foundation board with Montgomery, a Chairman at the time, saw firsthand the connection Mr. Mont made with his students and his love for education. Whether it was holding on to faded photos of his classes; inviting students, past and present, to plays, outdoor adventures and other activities; or starting a scholarship fund that’s given out over 400 donations since it began, promoting education and treating his students like family were two of his biggest community contributions. “He was always so generous to the college, you know, not only the college but the whole community,” he said.


Whether it was making a difference teaching generations of students for over 50 years; involving himself in various charities and organizations; or maintaining the county’s natural beauty by picking up trash or planting new foliage, Montgomery never ceased in making the world he lived in a better place.

“He had a people passion and he loved everybody and he wanted the best for the community and I don’t think it was just a passion for ‘ a thing’ it was a passion for the community to make it a better place.” — Dolly R obinson “I’m just glad that I personally had an opportunity to know him and I know everybody in town feels the same way, you know, the thing about James is James made all of us feel special, you know, we all were proud to be his friend,” he said. “He was a remarkable man, I just, I don’t think I’ll ever know anybody else like him.” Being able to convey how important every person was to him was a sentiment his lifelong friends knew all too well.

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“He had the ability or the gift of making everyone feel very special,” Patty Ives, who knew Montgomery since they were teenagers, said in a phone interview. “I was a part of his life the last couple of years overseeing his care and seeing and hearing what a lot of the young people, anyone, that would come and visit him, what he meant to them. How he touched their lives. It was heartwarming to me to hear that.” One of Mr. Mont’s greatest gifts was his ability to tell captivating stories, and even though he’s gone, his memory will live on in the stories those who knew him love to share.


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Perfect for teaching the kids math while enjoying family time in the kitchen!


CUPCAKES Now for something really fun! Use a grass tip to make spaghetti-like strands of buttercream and create a monster face on each cupcake. (Makes 12)

CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS • • • • • • • • • •

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cups cake our mi ed with tsp baking powder tsp baking powder sticks butter cups granulated sugar tsp vanilla bean paste eggs cup sour cream candy teeth candy eyes elly beans


sticks butter tsp vanilla bean paste cups confectioners sugar tbsp whole milk Large drop blue food coloring paste TOOLS Mu n pan lined with paper baking cups astry bag tted with a worm grass or spaghetti tip

INSTRUCTIONS reheat the oven to Sift the our and baking powder into a bowl and set aside lace the butter and sugar into the bowl of a stand mi er tted with a paddle attachment and bear the mi ture at medium to high speed for minutes until light and u y Occasionally stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure chat all the butter and sugar are incorporated Add the vanilla bean paste and mi Mi ing at low speed add the eggs one at a time beating until incorporated Slowly add the sifted dry ingredients and mi at low speed until combined Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and brie y beat at high speed until the mi ture is smooth Add the sour cream and mi until incorporated Do not overmi sing an ice cream scoop divide the mi ture among the cups lling to almost / full Bake in the preheated oven for minutes until well risen and a skewer inserted into the cakes comes out clean Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely To prepare

the buttercream place the butter into the bowl of a stand mi er tted with a paddle attachment and beat until soft and u y Add the vanilla bean paste and mi again until combined Sift in / of the confectioners sugar and mi at low speed until incorporated Add the second half of the sugar and then beat slowly until all the sugar is incorporated Add the milk one tablespoon at a time mi ing at medium speed until the buttercream is light and u y f the icing is too sti add a little more milk Add food coloring and fully blend until bright blue Spoon the buttercream into the pastry bag Starting at the outside edge pipe lines of icing from the edge of the cupcake inwards ull the pastry bag away sharply ac the end of each line so that the strings of buttercream snap o from the tip and drop down onto the cupcake Once the rst circle is complete start on another overlapping your rst but starting farther away from the edge inally nish the center by overlapping the second circle Decorate each monster with candy teeth candy eyes and elly bean horns

Spring 2020 | 93

Homelessness Versus Panhandlers By Emily Pazel

in Columbia County As you drive along the roads in any city or place, you might notice someone standing at a stop sign or traffic light holding a sign that tells their life story in less than five words. Typically, the sign reads something along the lines of needing food or money. And as you are waiting for the light to turn green, the situation tugs at your heartstrings. “We are a very benevolent community,” said Argatha Gilmore, Chief of the Lake City Police Department. “People think that God is going to strike them down if they don’t give something to someone out there.” Jennifer Anchors

While it is tricky to distinguish the

Executive Director two, there are clear differences United Way of Suwannee Valley

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between someone experiencing homelessness and someone that plants themselves on the busiest intersection in town and then drives away in a fancy car after panhandling for a few hours. “All panhandlers are not homeless and all homeless don’t panhandle,” said Jennifer Anchors, Executive Director at the United Way of Suwannee Valley. “I understand why people complain about panhandlers, but in doing so, we are losing the face of the homeless person.” The City of Lake City, Columbia County, the Lake City Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and the United Way of Suwannee Valley have all teamed up in search of a solution that will ultimately help with the city and county’s homeless population, as well as try to help the panhandling situation that we see happening on our streets.

are not similar at all,” said Theresa Pinto, Executive Director of the Lake City - Columbia County Chamber of Commerce. “They’re tied together by the fact that there’s Theresa M. Pinto Anchors explained that the Lake City Chamber of more cash people hand out to Commerce Executive Director some confusion, but they’re linked panhandlers, whether they are together by homeless or not, they are not going perception, and we need to create to leave that location. And in return, an understanding of both.” those that are truly not homeless

as make-shift homes. As the homelessness and panhandling situation kept getting brought up at city and county meetings, the United Way stepped in to make everyone aware that these are two separate issues.

“You want to do good in the community, but you don’t realize that panhandlers and homeless

Separate and apart from homelessness, Pinto feels that policies can be implemented by local government and law enforcement to bring the panhandling issue to a minimum.

“Basically, people are assuming that all the homeless are panhandlers,” Anchors said. “So, we really want people to understand what the face of homelessness is, what it looks like in our community and how they can help.”

are going to continue to panhandle because they can make money.

At the Chamber of Commerce, Pinto explained that she had local business leaders coming to her with concerns of homeless people sleeping and using their properties

“But first, I think that the community wants something to be done about the panhandlers,” Anchors said. “So, I think until we educate the community on what homelessness is and what they can contribute to addressing the issue, it’s hard to move forward in any other direction.”

“Currently, Argatha Gilmore Columbia County Lake City Chief of Police is working on a traffic situation that they’re trying to resolve,” Gilmore said. “For instance, they are passing an ordinance that says you can’t impede traffic by giving people money from your car or having someone approach the car. So, it’s a traffic safety ordinance, not a homeless or panhandling ordinance. It’s a traffic safety ordinance to ensure that people are safe.” Anchors also explained that if you are a local business in town and you notice a panhandler on your property, if the property is private, you can site them for trespassing.

Spring 2020 | 95

The coalition also created a small, blue card that has phone numbers and resources listed on it that can help someone get the assistance they need. Instead of giving panhandlers money or food directly off hand, you can give them this blue card. And, Anchors adds, you should not give them the card from your car. “What our community also doesn’t realize is because there’s such a limited amount of funds, there are no services available the same day a person experiencing homelessness can get,” Anchors said. “So, what happens is that their information is taken and then when a case manager has availability and there’s funds available, they can get services.”

Call (386) 752-5604 for more information on how you can get blue cards to handout!

United Way of Suwanne e Valley Are you homel ess or at risk of homelessness? Call our Coordi nated Entry Co ordinator 386-752-5604 x 113

The homeless coalition in the local area, called the Homeless Services Network of Suwannee Valley, includes agencies and individuals interested in the services available to those who are homeless or threatened with becoming homeless in the Columbia, Hamilton, Lafayette and Suwannee Counties. Within the homeless coalition, a subcommittee of stakeholders was formed to work on developing a comprehensive plan to address homelessness, which would include services that are currently in place, as well as additional services should the committee acquire additional resources. Through the current state and local grants, Anchors explained that there are not enough funds to service all the homeless in our community. With this being said, the stakeholder committee is looking to find new resources, whether that be philanthropic resources or private foundations or grants. “In our comprehensive plan, we are giving ourselves yearly goals as to the percentage of people we can help,” Anchors said. “In 2019, we were only able to help around 14% of the people who called for assistance.” As the years progress, Anchors would love to see a larger percentage of people getting the help and assistance they need. In the local area alone, the United Way’s homeless coalition encountered 538 homeless individuals, with 54, or roughly 10 percent, of those being children. “There are people with children here, in Columbia County, who live in their cars,” Anchors said. “That’s what we want to get out to the community because those are the kind of people we want to be helping.”

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Pinto explained that being on the local coalition has opened her eyes to all the resources available to the homeless population. However, she said that there are so many requests that go unfulfilled due to the lack of resources to meet the demand and it is important to know that leaders in the community are working towards a resolution. “I appreciate everyone taking the time to listen because what you’re seeing here is that the stakeholders in this community are concerned about the safety and the welfare of the citizens in our community,” Gilmore said. “So, each one of us has a piece of the solution and we’re bringing our different perspectives to the table and how we believe that we could solve this issue.” As the stakeholder committee continues to meet, they are looking to other cities to see what successful practices are being used and weighing the pros and cons to each tactic. “It’s a situation that continues to grow, but I think that the more we educate and make everyone aware, and the fact that we’re not silent, shows that we’re a community that is concerned,” Gilmore said. “Lake City is a city that cares. But at that same time, we not going to stand by and watch people take advantage of our benevolent community.” If people are looking to donate to the homeless coalition, you can do so by visiting the United Way of Suwannee Valley’s website at

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Spring 2020 | 97


Birthday Gifts A happy birthday present doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Here are five cool gift ideas for infants and preschoolers intended to make learning fun, all which cost under $25:

Dump Truck Fun: Great

for children ages 6-36 months, the interactive VTech Drop & Go Dump Truck encourages motor skill development, plays melodies and phrases, and teaches numbers and colors. Kids can drop a colorful ball into the top of the dump truck and watch it tumble into the bucket, then push or pull the truck along to see the balls rumble inside. All for around $15. Excellent price!

Under $25 Play Time: Take

a trip to a local play center offering ball pits, slides, obstacles and more. Such facilities offer a fun way for kids to build strength and motor skills. This one is no cost!

These gifts can be found at

Little Scribes: Give kids ages 3-4 years Home Movie: Home

movies can offer little ones the thrill of a lifetime, especially when paired with a couple of friends. Movies may seem like pure entertainment, but they often offer storylines that build empathy and help kids learn right from wrong. So bring on the hotdogs and cake! It’s movie time.

Pets On-the-Go: Packed with

learning fun, the Care for Me Learning Carrier is an interactive pet carrier that lets little ones take their plush pet onthe-go, encouraging nurturing while learning letters, colors, shapes, pet care and more. With sliding and spinning parts, the carrier promotes motor skill development and comes with four pet care accessories so that children ages 9-36 months can groom, feed and play with the puppy. With a little imagination, you can make the next birthday special, educational, fun and affordable.

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a head start on mastering their writing skills with the Write & Learn Creative Center, which provides animated demonstrations to help preschoolers learn proper stroke order for uppercase and lowercase letters, and can be customized so that children can learn to write their names step-by-step. This is a great gift option for little artists, too. Kids can choose activities that help them learn to draw, progressing from simple lines and shapes to 26 different objects or explore their creativity by drawing their own pictures with the included stencils and stamps. Around $25. Wonderful choice!

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By Hayli Zuccola

Established in 1947, Florida Gateway College has grown exponentially over the past seven decades by incorporating higher education in multiple forms and areas of interest. Ranging from traditional four-year accreditations, two-year studies, year-orless certifications and entirely online alternatives, whatever your path is, you’ll find it at FGC.

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Bachelor of Science / Bachelor of Applied Science FGC currently offers three bachelor’s degrees in nursing, early childhood education and water resource management with plans to add a fourth prospect in elementary education, which they anticipate becoming available in the fall.

Associate in Arts Used as a stepping stone toward a bachelor’s, FGC offers an Associate in Arts degree with 30 different areas of focus covering business, art, education, communications, social sciences, public safety, STEM and health sciences. While each concentration has a specified curriculum and pre-requisites needed for students to continue their educational aspirations, those taking anatomy and physiology as a science requirement will have the opportunity to work with some of the latest medical technology like the Anatomage Table, which is a virtual anatomy dissection tool that uses 3D images of cadavers based on real people. With this table, students can zoom in to specific areas throughout the body and perform virtual dissections with the swipe of a finger. Associate in Science / Associate in Applied Science For incoming students interested in having a career immediately after earning a two-year degree, an Associate in Science or an Associate in Applied Science is the ideal fit and FGC has 13 different

programs to choose from namely agribusiness, biotechnology, business administration, computer science, education, veterinary technology, digital media, criminal justice and environmental science. One of the newest developments in FGC’s catalog is an A.A.S. degree in automotive service management technology. In addition to being a new option that’s also available as a certificate, FGC is now an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Testing Center, which means students in the automotive program can complete the ASE certification exams on campus and those already in the field can use their current ASE certifications to earn college credit toward FGC’s A.A.S. program.

College Credit and Occupational Certificates Certificates, most of which can be completed in a year or less, provide students with a quick transition from education to the workforce and with 33 specialties to choose from, there’s an option available for nearly every interest including accounting, business, education, public safety, welding and cosmetology. Anatomy and physiology students aren’t the only ones who get to get to play with new advancements in technology as the practice is becoming campus-wide. One of the newest tools set to become part of the public safety curriculum is the Milo 300 training simulator, which allows students to participate in fully-immersive virtual firing

simulations. Additionally, those following the welding track can weld various objects and see the automated process through their helmets. Apart from certificates taking less time to complete, they also offer student flexibility, for example, the cosmetology program now provides evening classes twice a week and on Saturdays. To practice their newfound skills in hair, nails and all things beauty, various services are offered to the public in the college’s in-house salon at discounted rates. Students also take part in “Pamper Your Princess” each semester by dressing as their favorite princesses to style hair, paint nails and apply make-up as a unique fundraising event. Online Options Besides offering an array of courses online, FGC has 15 different programs that can be completed 100 percent online, making it that much easier for students with limited availability to come to campus the opportunity to receive a quality college education. Whether it’s a four-year bachelor’s; a twoyear A.A. used for continued education; an A.S. or A.A.S. that leaves students career-ready; an occupational or college credit certificate – a majority of which can be completed in less than a year; or the ability to complete a degree entirely online, FGC has a wide range of opportunities and educational paths designed for everyone and every schedule.

Spring 2020 | 101

Spring Picnic

Recipes cookingandbeer com

These fun, tasty and unique recipes are perfect for your next picnic!

Avocado Ranch Chicken Salad

Lettuce Cups rep Time minutes • Cook Time minutes Total Time minutes • Servings

Ingredients: Avocado Ranch • / o an avocado pitted and peeled • / cup sour cream • / cup mayo • tablespoons buttermil • tablespoons resh dill • tablespoons resh parsley • teaspoon onion po der • teaspoon garlic po der • / teaspoon ground cayenne pepper • salt and blac pepper Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups • slices bacon crisply coo ed chopped • ully coo ed boneless s inless chic en breasts shredded or chopped • pint cherry tomatoes sliced in hal • green onions sliced thin • avocado peeled and pitted diced • large head oston lettuce ibb or something similar may be substituted

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Instructions: In the pitcher o your blender add the avocado sour cream mayo buttermil dill parsley onion po der garlic po der cayenne pepper salt and blac pepper lend on medium high or about a minute or until the mi ture comes together and is creamy Set aside In a large bo l add the avocado ranch dressing bacon chic en tomatoes and green onions Fold the ingredients together until they ust come together Season to taste ith salt and blac pepper ery gently old in the avocado ma ing sure not to smash them into the chic en salad Scoop the chic en salad onto the oston lettuce Wrap them up and eat immediately En oy

Spring 2020 | 103

Grilled Fingerling & Chia Seed Ranch Dressing

Lime Meringue

rep Time minutes • Cook Time minutes Total Time minutes • Servings

rep Time minutes • Cook Time minutes Total Time minutes • Servings

Potato Salad

Ingredients: Chia Seed Ranch Dressing • / cup ra cashe s • / cup unsalted sun o er seeds • tablespoons vegan mayo • tablespoons ater • tablespoon lemon uice • tablespoons resh parsley • teaspoon resh dill • teaspoon di on mustard • / teaspoon garlic po der • / teaspoon salt • tablespoons chia seeds Grilled Fingerling Potato Salad • lbs ngerling potatoes cut in hal • salt and blac pepper • / cup olive oil • / cup sliced green onions • alape os sliced Instructions: Cover the cashe s ith ater and let soa or minutes to so ten Once so tened add them to a high po ered blender along ith the sun o er seeds mayo ater lemon uice parsley dill di on mustard

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garlic po der and salt lend on high or minutes or until completely smooth This time ill vary on ho po er ul your blender is Stir in the chia seeds and then trans er to an airtight container e rigerate until you are ready to use Add the potatoes to a large stoc pot Cover ith ater and season ith salt ring the potatoes to a boil then reduce to a simmer Simmer or minutes or until the potatoes are tender emove rom heat and drain Set aside Preheat your grill or grill pan over high heat rush the potatoes ith olive oil and season generously ith salt and blac pepper rill the potatoes on each side until slightly charred about minutes per side emove rom heat Toss the potatoes ith green onions and alape os Dri le ith the chia seed ranch dressing and en oy immediately or re rigerate or about hours and serve cold


Ingredients: Crust • cups graham crac er crumbs • tablespoons granulated sugar • / teaspoon salt • tablespoons unsalted butter melted Filling • / cups resh lime uice • cup granulated sugar • large eggs • cup heavy cream Meringue • large egg hites • cup sugar • / teaspoon salt • / teaspoon vanilla e tract Instructions:

Preheat oven to F grease a inch tart pan ith removable bottom or small tart pans ith a non stic spray Set aside In a medium bo l combine the graham crac er crumbs granulated sugar salt & butter i thoroughly & then press it into the tart pan or tart pans ma ing sure to cover the entire bottom as ell as the sides Press rmly so that the crumbs adhere e rigerate the shell or

minutes Once chilled ba e the shell or minutes or until crust is bro n & toasted emove rom over & set aside to cool educe the oven temperature to F In medium saucepan add the lime uice granulated sugar eggs & heavy cream Whis to combine Coo over lo heat stirring constantly over medium lo heat until the li uid is thic enough to coat the bac o a spoon about minutes Pour the mi ture into the cooled crust & ba ed or minutes or until lling is set Let the tart cool to room temperature ree e or minutes While tart is chilling prepare the meringue Combine egg hites sugar & salt in a heatproo bo l Create a double boiler ith a barely simmering pot o ater ma e sure the ater isn t touching the bottom o the bo l Whis the mi ture constantly until the sugar has dissolved emove rom heat & trans er mi er bo l tted ith his attachment or you can use hand mi er Whis the hites on high speed until medium pea s orm Stir in the vanilla e tract Spread the meringue onto the tarts leaving the edges uncovered ro n the top ith a itchen torch or place in a F oven or minutes or until bro n on top Serve immediately or chill until you are ready to serve

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Brianne with her furry friend at work

Hannah McCall and Samson

Fur Family How Pets Have a Pawsitive Impact on Children By Hayli Zuccola

With wet nose kisses, heart-melting glances and unconditional love, pets tend to bring out the best in people. Though their companionship has a positive impact on everyone around them, they have an even greater influence on families with children. Teaching them everything from socialization skills and responsibility to compassion and patience, growing up with a pet provides children with more than just a furry friendship it gives them lessons for life.

From harboring helpless stray kittens to eagerly accepting gifted puppies, Brianne Crusaw always had a paw-padded playmate by her side. When she was older, she took advantage of her lifelong dream of saving animals by becoming a veterinary technician at Caring Hands Animal Hospital. Despite being surrounded by fuzzy critters every day at work, Crusaw wanted a fur baby to call her own, which she found with a sweet and sleepy blue nose pit bull named Deezel. Though her profession gave her an upper hand in animal behavior and training, she had to delve a little deeper when she was preparing to welcome a new member to the family. At three years old, Deezel had grown accustomed to life with

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Crusaw, but he had to learn to share her affection when her new baby, Kassidy, was born. From sniffing hospital blankets and joining them on walks down the street, with time and patience Deezel seamlessly warmed up to Kassidy and she did the same for him. “Animals kind of give you that sort of compassion, they help you to learn compassion and sympathy and empathy because, you know, one they can’t talk so you kind of have to listen in other ways and through those ways you kind of get a little bit more in tune with other people and other people’s feelings and things like that,” Crusaw said.

While she’s still too young to realize the level of responsibility it takes to care for a pet, having a canine companion has taught Kassidy other important life skills including empathy and compassion.

schedule of being a pastor alongside her husband and caring for three kids meant her oldest daughter’s repeated requests for a pet would be answered with a ‘no.’ However, everything changed when McCall’s mom, who was an avid animal lover and planned “Every dog is different, every cat is different and “At her age, it’s on adopting a dog for her grandkids to play as an owner, it’s your responsibility to know your more just teaching with, passed away from breast cancer. Wanting pet. You can’t fault your animal for being an animal her to treat others to fulfill her mom’s last wish, McCall decided because at the end of the day they are an animal,” the way she wants to give Samson, an eight-week-old lovable she said. “Once you adopt or you buy or whatever, to be treated,” Aussiedoodle, a forever home. however you get your animal, if you’ve taken the Crusaw said. “Now initiative to care for them and have responsibility for if she was about “When we got Samson, I just feel like it’s been them then it’s yours for the rest of [their] life.” six or seven, there a little bit of healing for my heart to have him —Brianne Crusaw would be more around and he’s a really loving, sweet dog and responsibility like it is peaceful to be with him,” she said. okay, make sure you feed the dog, make sure you walk the dog, but for her, it’s just more socialization.” While bringing a puppy into their house has resulted in a few mishaps – like the destruction of a delicate fig plant Last year, Crusaw expanded her fur family again and brought – Samson’s energy has sparked her kids’ enjoyment of the home a playful puppy named Venus. While the high energy outdoors by encouraging them to play fetch and take their and often chaotic world of puppies seems overwhelming, new pup for walks. Besides taking on more responsibility Crusaw notes that for families with children, it’s much easier with their new furry family member, they’ve also taken the to bring a younger pet into the home rather than attempt to initiative to watch training videos to teach Samson basic skills retrain an older animal without that prior experience. and tricks. “With kittens and puppies you have a certain window where you can kind of expose them to everything you want them to be exposed to where they don’t freak out or have stress problems, things like that so the younger they are the better they are because you can kind of mold them into what you want versus adopting an older dog or something like that, you don’t really know their mindset,” she said. In addition to understanding the need for patience, financial responsibility and the time commitment it takes to care for a pet, Crusaw mentioned that one of the biggest features to consider when adopting a pet is to do your research beforehand. From certain behavioral issues; varying activity levels; overall temperament and hereditary health problems, it’s important to research the breed you’re interested in before adopting and remember that it takes a pet at least seven to 10 days to adjust to their new environment.

“Our children are thrilled to have a pet and to have a puppy to love on. It’s kind of amazing how he came into our family and he just fit right in I don’t know how else to say it but he really did, it was like he was a part of our family from day one,” Brianne Says.

Brianne, Kassidy and Deezel take in the sights around Lake Isabella.


Call the Lake City Humane Society at 386-752-3191 or visit their website @

Rather than taking in a pet in the midst of raising three kids, Sheree McCall decided to wait until her children were older and understood what it took to care for a pet – especially a puppy. Though she grew up with animals, McCall never considered herself an animal person per se; that paired with the busy

Spring 2020 | 107

Adapted from infographic

Teaching your children how to cook is one of the best gifts you can give them. Children of all ages can play a role in the kitchen! The more they’re exposed to food and cooking, the more likely they are to build a curiosity and appreciation for food and health.

They not only have fun, but also learn cooking skills, food saftey basics and proper nutrition. Plus, they can further develop math, reading, science and fine motor skills—all while spending time as a family. Here are some great ways to include kids of any age in the family meal preparation process.


Introduce Names of Ingredients 4



Describe & Discuss Tastes & Textures 4



Brainstorm Meal Ideas Together 4

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Grow a Garden 4



Taste Things as You Prepare Them 4



Plan. Build. Help Protect. A leading financial advisor just happens to be your neighbor. Charlie Cowen, Financial Advisor, is a Lake City native who has been on the OMC Team since 2006 and was recently named partner. Exceeding client expectations in financial concerns is his top priority. Allow Charlie to help you achieve your unique goals and objectives.

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Tear Greens By Hand

Use Scissors to Trim Beans, Peas, Bell Peppers

(Lettuce, Kale, Chard) 4





Prep Easy-To-Chop Ingredients with Kid’s Knife



Prep Easy-To-Chop Ingredients with Regular Knife 4

Add Pre-Measured Ingredients 4







Prep Easy-To-Chop Ingredients with Chef’s Knife





Measure & Weigh Ingredients

Scale & Adjust Ingredients







Assemble Pizzas & Casseroles 4




Make Salad Dressings & Toppings 4


Stir & Blending Soups & Breading 8


Season & Tenderize Meats 4



Be Responsible for a Part of the Meal





Clean all countertops & kitchen surfaces before you begin prepping or cooking.

Never taste food until it is fully cooked.

Always cook with adult supervision

Hold Down Buttons (Salad Spinner, Food Processor, Blender. (With Supervision) 4

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Operate Tools & Appliances On Their Own 4



Wash hands in warm, soapy water before and after handling any food.


To ensure all germs are killed, wash hands for at least 20 seconds or as long as it take to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.

Spring 2020 | 111

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Truly You’s medical staff, whom you have trusted with your wellness and aesthetic needs, is bringing to you the same qualities with Telemedicine. Utilization of current technology is important for our patients plus our newly expanded medical services. Consultations can be made over the phone to reach a diagnosis for health conditions and symptoms in a broad range of medical needs.

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