Ocala Style May '20

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MAY ‘20

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Close to WEC - 25, 44 or 69 Acres! Once you stand on the expansive front porch of this charming southern-style home and take in the flawless view of Granddaddy Oaks, rolling hills, and lush pastures, you will know you’re home. 7-Stall show stable with 1/1 apartment, 6 Stall barn with A/C office/break room, plus separate air-conditioned rooms for tack, feed and storage. Additional barn provide ample storage for hay, feed or equipment. A dressage area, lush pastures and shaded riding trails you can consistently ride on all year long complete this incredible property. $1,500,000 to $3,900,000 Call for options

Just Reduced

Minutes from World Equestrian Center & HITS Wingspread Farm – Gated Equestrian Estate on 10 Acres. Incredible location plus a wonderful place to call home. Immaculate! You immediately notice the attention to details from the 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath residence, 2 bedroom guest house, private chapel, 4 stall stable with office and a 4 bay multi-purpose building offering a 20’ x 40’ stall which could be divided into 1, 2, or 3 stalls. Luxurious expansive run-ins provide shade for horses in lush paddocks. Irrigated arena. Additional acreage available. Just Reduced to $1,499,000


Hidden Gem on 3 +/- Acres

22 +/- Exquisite Estate with fine details

The home is perfect for the family or entertaining friends. Formal dining room, open kitchen to family room with floor to ceiling fireplace, office plus 5 bedrooms. Enjoy evenings by the pool, outdoor kitchen with seating, firepit and several private seating areas. $699,000

This 5 bedroom, 5.5 bath home features the woodwork of the Matthew Fortin Collection. Fine adornments are evident from the faux-painted tray ceilings to the custom crown molding to the intricate chandeliers. Pool, tennis court and barn complete this package. $2,599,000

Country Club of Ocala

Close to Downtown & Historic Area

Grand architecture & design define this estate overlooking the 7th fairway and green. Kitchen and surrounding area are perfect for social gatherings. Second floor game room with terraced balcony overlooking pool & fairway, computer area and 2 suites. $1,192,000

Be ready to fall in love with this impeccably maintained 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath home. Large kitchen is open to family room with lovely fireplace abundance of windows to allow the natural light, and hardwood floors. Split bedroom plan. Inviting private fenced back yard. $659,000

If you’re considering buying or selling, give us a call today! List your property with Joan Pletcher... Our results speak for themselves.

For these and other properties, visit JoanPletcher.com for information, videos and more choices. Call or Text: 352.266.9100 | 352.804.8989 | joan@joanpletcher.com | joanpletcher.com Due to the privacy and at the discretion of my clients, there are additional training centers, estates and land available that are not advertised.


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May not be combined with any other offer. Offer subject to change without notice. 1. OFFER NOT AVAILABLE ON EXISTING CAMPUS CHECKING ACCOUNT OR LOANS. 2. Within the first 90 days member must elect to receive eDocuments and establish Direct Deposit of at least $200 per month. If the requirements are met and the account remains open after 90 days, the $300 reward will be made available to the member. $300 is considered interest and will be reported on IRS Form 1099-INT. 3. Credit approval and initial $50 opening deposit required. Member must elect to receive eDocuments. 4. Lines of Credit, Commercial Loans, CD/Shared Secured Loans, Signature Loans and Real Estate Loans are not eligible. Cash bonus is 1.25% of amount financed up to a maximum of $300. Limit one per household. Must present offer at time of loan closing. 5. Credit approval and initial $5 deposit required. Federally insured by the NCUA.


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ELISHA LOPEZ

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roker and owner Elisha Lopez says that celebrating more than 20 years in the Real Estate Industry is testament to her dedication to her profession and to her commitment to providing top-level training for agents. Her firm, Ocala Realty World (ORW), recently celebrated five successful years in business. She and her husband, Luis Lopez, just launched ORW Cares, a community outreach program through which they and their team contribute to the greater good of Ocala and Marion County. “Even though the way we show property and do business right now has shifted, at Ocala Realty World we have been virtual for years and the new norm for doing business is nothing new to us,” Elisha notes. “I’m a licensed instructor of my school, ORW School of Real Estate, teaching students the prelicensing class for the state requirement to get a Florida Real Estate license,” she says. “Starting this month, I will be offering virtual licensing classes in order to help my community and the entire state. With all the changes going on in our lives, a new career in Real Estate can be a positive change.” And, she continues, “After students are licensed, we offer a program that teaches new agents the Real Estate business. With my 20 years in the industry and success as a realtor, I then, along with my husband, train new agents for success. They are learning directly from us, not from someone who possibly did not have success in Real Estate. We also are involved in the day to day operations of our organization to provide additional support.” This system has proven successful, as a great many Ocala Realty World agents have achieved top professional awards in the industry. “Leading by example is extremely important to me,” Elisha affirms. “My team and all who know me know my heart and know how invested I am in their success.” Built on a solid foundation of dedication and determination, as Elisha continues to lead her team at Ocala Realty World it’s no wonder they continue to be one of the fastest growing real estate companies in the Horse Capital of The World.


Hunt Murty Publisher | Jennifer jennifer@magnoliamediaco.com

Magnolia Media Company, LLC 352-732-0073

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GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Simon Mendoza simon@magnoliamediaco.com Brooke Pace brooke@magnoliamediaco.com IN-HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHER Lyn Larson Mahal Imagery PHOTOGRAPHERS Bruce Ackerman Amy Davidson Erin Gilmore Meagan Gumpert John Jernigan Philip Marcel Tom Martin Dave Miller Rigoberto Perdomo Isabelle Ramirez Alan Youngblood ILLUSTRATOR David Vallejo

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ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Evelyn Anderson evelyn@magnoliamediaco.com Sheila Gaspers sheila@magnoliamediaco.com Clif “Skip” Linderman skip@magnoliamediaco.com CLIENT SERVICES GURU Brittany Duval brittany@magnoliamediaco.com

EDITOR IN CHIEF Nick Steele nick@magnoliamediaco.com SENIOR EDITOR Susan Smiley-Height susan@magnoliamediaco.com CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Belea T. Keeney belea@magnoliamediaco.com Lisa McGinnes lisa@magnoliamediaco.com FREELANCE FASHION STYLIST Karlie Loland CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Sherri Cruz Jim Gibson JoAnn Guidry Cynthia McFarland Jill Paglia Alyssa Ramos Marian Rizzo Dave Schlenker Patricia Tomlinson

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MARKETING MANAGER Kylie Swope kylie@magnoliamediaco.com MARKETING COORDINATOR Sabrina Fissell sabrina@magnoliamediaco.com

Distribution Dave Adams Rick Shaw

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Publisher’s Note t feels timely, on many fronts, to present this year’s Women’s Issue. First, because in times of crisis, you cannot be reminded enough of how many strong women you have in your corner. Our gender has centuries of experience taking the lead raising children, creating secure homes, cleaning, caring for the sick, feeding those in need, teaching, making do with limited resources and lifting others up. We got this! We are also only months away from celebrating 100 years since the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, declaring for the first time that American women, like men, deserve all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. On page 46 of this issue, thanks to the exhaustive efforts of our editors, we learn about local women who were champions of this amendment at that exciting time in our history. In these pages you will also find stories of trailblazing modern-day local women who have succeeded on their own terms for the betterment of the world around them. As you read their stories, I hope you find inspiration, learn from their lessons and benefit from their sage advice. Try imagining yourself in their shoes to fully absorb the challenges and possibilities that exist for all women. For example, imagine the feelings of Judge Sandra Edwards-Stephens Champ, the first female elected county judge in Marion County, as she put on her judicial robe and made her oath during the historical investiture. Then imagine the inspiration she provided to all the other local female attorneys who witnessed it. Let us have a conversation with our mothers, daughters and friends about how we keep the cycle of positive influence in forward momentum until there are no more glass ceilings to break. As we put this issue to press, we acknowledge that many of us are listening to frightening news and trying to figure out how to adapt our lives and businesses to uncertain times. Personally, there is nowhere I would rather fight this invisible threat than in Ocala. You see, Ocala’s style—not as it relates to superficial things, but rather our community’s manner of generosity, resiliency and dare I say? scrappy nature—will keep us from shrinking away from the hard work ahead. These community attributes will ensure that we weather and recover from these unprecedented times with grace and gratitude for all those who contributed valiantly to every aspect of our community’s health. First responders and hospital staff trained to prioritize a patient’s health above their own fears will be joined by heroes from other industries, without the benefit of that special training, but duty bound in the service of others, nonetheless. After this is all over? A town full of heroes—that is where we will live.

Jennifer Hunt Murty Publisher 6

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contents 21

56

8

12

Our “Open for Business” guide to local businesses

living

85

insid e r

21

SOCIAL

29

SCHLENKERISMS

31

VOWS

A look at the best local events.

90

Fishy business and life lessons. Get a glimpse into the most special days of local brides and grooms.

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HEALTHIER HABITS

Mom, photographer and yoga teacher Meagan Gumpert shares her wellness journey.

WOMEN HELPING WOMEN

Learn about this storied sisterhood devoted to lifting up local women.

MARKING HISTORY

A new exhibit at Legacy Park celebrates African American history with a modern twist.

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TRAILBLAZERS

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A NEW BREED

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PAYING IT FORWARD

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CANCER INNOVATORS

Meet local women who have broken barriers and inspire us. These enterprising sisters are redefining modern cattle ranching. We salute this noble profession and recognize recent scholarship winners. These innovative area physicians are expanding options and enhancing outcomes in the treatment of cancer.

Clockwise from top left: photo by Dave Miller; photo by Dave Miller, photo by Alan Youngblood

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on the

cover Photog raphy by Dave Miller

Our cover this month was inspired in part by the interview we did with one of own photographers, Meagan Gumpert, whose story of committing to healthier habits you can read on page 85, and her prowess at yoga, as well as a Vogue cover featuring Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o doing stand-up paddleboard yoga in some serious couture get-up. A quick conversation between our publisher, Jennifer Murty, and editor Nick Steele, went something like this, “Can we do something like this? Meagan could do it,” Murty offered. “Sure, we can,” Steele replied, without fully considering the mechanics involved or that he would soon be stitching a custom skirt on Gumpert on a Lake Weir beach. On one of the last perfect weather days before “social distancing” became a thing, a small group, including photographer Dave Miller, graphic designer Brooke Pace, and our client services guru Brittany Duval, joined Gumpert and Steele for several adventurous hours that included three paddleboards in constant motion, several wardrobe changes and two dunks in the water for our intrepid model. Miller and Gumpert did indeed manage to recreate that stylish Vogue shot, but, for this cover, we decided in favor of an unguarded shot caught between yoga poses. The reflective moment felt like a peaceful antidote to the stress and confinement that currently plague us. We hope it soothes you and reminds you of more picture-perfect days to come.

Clockwise from left: Photographer Dave Miller surveys the scene as Gumpert prepares to hit the water; Graphic designer Brooke Pace paddles out; Gumpert after her first big splash.


Unsung Heroes Local banks are stepping up to help Marion County’s small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program, providing a ray of hope at the end of the economic tunnel. By Ocala Style Editorial Team

I

n an effort to provide economic aid to those impacted by the pandemic, the federal government passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The relief has many aspects, but one part, called the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), was designed to provide eight weeks’ worth of support to small businesses for their payroll, rent and utility expenses. Banks, under the Small Business Administration, were the mechanism for processing the loans under the CARES act. With news of the potential relief pending, Kevin Sheilley, CEO of the Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership made it a priority to educate local businesses on how they could be ready to apply for aid quickly after the bill was signed. He hoped that through quick action on the part of both Ocala businesses and Ocala bankers, that “by mid-April, 95 percent of the area’s 7,000 businesses would have the opportunity to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program.” Within one week after President Trump signed the bill, local banks began taking applications. Although some local banks were slow to decide how they would participate, many local bankers, some of whose faces you see here, stepped up to try to meet the needs of Marion County’s local businesses as fast as they could. The number of applications that started coming in the first week were, “tenfold more than what we take on in a given month,” said Rusty Branson, community president at CenterState Bank. “It’s kind of like looking at a tsunami coming your way,” Branson observed. “We realigned our existing workforce to adapt to it. The spirits of our team were high. They understood the task in front of them and what it meant to our customers. At the same time, each of our employees has their own issues at home, trying to work remotely and trying to balance their lives. But they haven’t lost sight of how important this is to our

customers. This is a brand new program, so, in essence, we were being asked to build the plane while we’re flying it.” Adam Woods, a lender at F&M Bank & Trust, was already being inundated with PPP applications in April. “We’ve had a bunch of ‘em coming in at one time,” Woods shared. “There are just two of us here in Ocala, me and Carl Flanagan. We get backup help from the folks up in the main office in Georgia,” Woods explained. “It’s about helping the customers keep afloat. It’s gonna help them maintain paying their employees, which is gonna help the economy overall. The banks are gonna have some different ways of processing. You make the best decision you can and help your clients.” Many bankers worked around the clock and through the Easter holiday weekend pressing to process as many local applications as they - Rusty Branson could. Unfortunately, on April 16th, shortly before this issue was sent to print, the Small Business Administration indicated that all funds dedicated to helping small businesses under the initial CARES Act had been exhausted and Congress was debating whether or not additional funding would be made available. Some businesses applied for and received loan approvals quickly. Jaye Baillie, executive director of the Marion Cultural Alliance, worked with Adam Lombardo at Renasant Bank. “We will be getting approximately $33,000,” Baillie stated. “That covers eight weeks of payroll, plus rent and utilities. Our bankers helped us through every step of the way.” Regardless of whether Congress decides to increase aid funding for small businesses, Ocala’s local bankers will continue to play pivotal roles in our economic recovery for months and years to follow. Some would say that the economic impact of the pandemic crisis in Marion County became acute faster than the health crisis. It seems only right we pay tribute to these unsung heroes—local bankers on the front line of our economy’s health.

We realigned our existing workforce to adapt to it. The spirits of our team are high. They understand the task in front of them and what it means to our customers.

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Josh Johnson | Ameris Bank

Kyle Yancey | Ameris Bank

Brian Cretul | CenterState Bank

Greg Blair | CenterState Bank

Karen Hatch | CenterState Bank

Rusty Branson | CenterState Bank

Katie Ragsdale | Columbia Bank

Teresa Stephens | Columbia Bank

Adam Woods | F&M Bank & Trust

Carl Flanagan | F&M Bank & Trust

Angie Clifton | Mainstreet Community Bank of Florida

Joe Vorwerk | Mainstreet Community Bank of Florida

Tim Roberson | Mainstreet Community Bank of Florida

Karl Kunz | Renasant Bank

Laura Lipscomb | Renasant Bank

Adam Lombardo | Renasant Bank May ‘ 2 0

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For Business

Ocala/Marion County business owners are responding to the needs of our community by making sure essential businesses stay open, while adapting to COVID-19 restrictions. We reached out to ask local businesses to update us on their status. Here is a list of those that replied and let us know how they are currently doing business. While this is in no way a full list of all the open businesses in our community, we encourage you to reach out to your favorite local retailers and organizations to see their circumstances during this time. And please feel free to let us know about those, so we can add them to our online list. We’ve also listed some community organizations assisting those in need. If you are in a position to give back, the Ocala/Marion County Community Foundation is maintaining a list of the needs of local nonprofit organizations at www.ocalafoundation.org. We know Ocala’s generosity and resiliency will ensure we weather and recover from these unprecedented times, together.

RESTAUR ANTS / FOOD / CATERING Brown’s Country Market (352) 303-1550 Mon.-Sat. 10am-6pm Fresh produce, meat, seafood, eggs, local products and bakery breads. Call for curbside pickup and contactless delivery. Chick-fil-A, State Road 200 (352) 854-2866 Mon.-Sat. 6am-10pm Drive thru, drive thru catering pickup and DoorDash delivery. Contactless mobile ordering. Contactless pay. Download Chick-fil-A app.

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“The more guests use the app, the more efficient the experience can be.” Chick-fil-A at Paddock Mall (352) 237-1576 Curbside and delivery Mon.-Sat. 11am-7pm Download the Chick-fil-A mobile app and order online. Colt Country Cafe & Buffet (352) 591-0802 Mon.-Sat. 8am-2pm; Sun. 9am-2pm Takeout. Breakfast until 10:30am. (all day Saturday and Sunday) To

go: salad bar, full country hot bar, sandwiches and burgers. “Come see us!” Crones’ Cradle Conserve Foundation (352) 595-3377 Office open Mon.-Fri. 9am-3pm; call in orders for produce and plants for curbside delivery; farm store open (details on Facebook page). Eaton’s Beach Sandbar and Grille (352) 805-8591 Sun.-Thur. 12-7pm, Fri.-Sat, 12-8pm Curbside or delivery by GrubHub. To


go menu at www.eatonsbeach.com. $24.99 family meal deals. “Special meals free to our frontline workers!”

or family servings. “Great gift - send a personalized dinner to a friend, neighbor or loved one.”

El Toreo (352) 694-1401 Daily 11am-9pm Curbside or takeout. “We are offering 50 percent off for hospital people.”

Lorito’s Italian Kitchen (352) 629-1383 Mon. 4-8pm, Tue.-Thur. 11:30am8pm, Fri.- Sat. 11:30am-9pm Curbside, delivery through GrubHub and Bite Squad Regular menu; special baked ziti or lasagna dinners for four, $23.95. “Stay safe out there.”

Giggles Gourmet Popcorn (352) 236-7646 Wed., Thur. and Sat. 11am-4pm, Fri. 11am-6pm For curbside, gigglespopcorn. square.site; delivery, www. bitesquad.com; online shipping, www.gigglespopcorn.com. “Much love and giggles when we are able!” Harbison Farm, Cattle and Produce (352) 239-3553 Daily 8am-5pm, may vary. Call ahead for pickup. Some delivery options (find them on Facebook page). Hawaiian Poke Taco at Paddock Mall (352) 861-0019 Curbside and delivery Mon.-Sat. 11am-7pm, Sun. noon-5:30 p.m. La Casella Catering info@lacasellacatering.com (352) 239-0510 Mon.-Fri. 9am-4 pm; available for appointments Sat.-Sun. Delivery and curbside. Meals, soups, quiches and pot pies, and meals for those with special dietary needs, in single

O’Steen’s Produce Market (352) 512-1140; text 352-460-5238 for curbside pickup. Wed.-Sat. 10am-5pm; watch Facebook for updates. Fresh produce, meat, seafood, eggs, local products and bakery breads. Outback Steakhouse College Road, (352) 237-0022; East Silver Springs Boulevard, (352) 236-0041; The Villages, (352) 430-2590 Sun.-Thur. 11am-9pm; Fri.-Sat. 11am-10pm Call or order online at www.outback.com for curbside takeaway and delivery. Also delivery through Uber Eats and DoorDash. “We are here to serve you while you shelter in. We appreciate you supporting Outback Steakhouse.” Riccardo’s Restaurant (352) 693-5828 Mon.-Sat. 11am-8pm (last order 7:30pm) Takeout and curbside; delivery through GrubHub, DoorDash and ChowNow.

Check Facebook page for daily specials and updates. “We are taking all the necessary precautions to keep you and our employees safe. We hope to see you all soon.” Texas Roadhouse (352) 619-1677 Curbside daily noon-8pm The Beach Ocala (352) 351-0371 Daily 11:30am-7:00pm Call for takeout. Fifteen percent discount for first responders. “Thank you for your support.” The Gathering Cafe (352) 421-9810 Mon.-Fri, 7am-3pm, Sat. 8am-4pm Call ahead for takeout; delivery by Bite Squad. Twenty percent off pre-ordered whole quiches. “We are a full-service coffee shop/cafe, serving freshly baked pastries, jumbo cinnamon rolls, quiches, breakfast and lunch items and much more! Looking forward to serving you!” The Grand Oaks Resort (352) 750-5500 Bistro open 9am-6pm for curbside, call (352) 750-9500 RV park special $25 per site per day. “Come out and stay in our cottages, RV park, practice putting at our golf academy, walk or ride your bike on our trails.” Tony’s Sushi (352) 237-3151 Mon.-Thur. 11am-8:30pm, Fri.-Sat. 11am-9pm, Sun. noon-8:30pm Takeout or delivery. “Stay safe and well.”

HEALTH/WELLNESS A Better U Healthcare (352) 615-5566 Mon.-Sun. 8am-5:30pm Same-day appointments available. “Stay healthy!” Alpha Team Self Defense and Krav Maga (352) 861-5425

www.alphateamselfdefense.com Online teletraining self-defense and workout Zoom classes. Curbside membership signups; free T-shirt and bag gloves when joining. “This is a beneficial and exciting way to stop boredom. Come start your journey now. Get fit. Get safe.”

Carlyle Dermatology (352) 509-6105 Virtual visit cosmetic consults, with flexible hours. Twenty percent off future cosmetic procedures when reserved by end of May. Select treatments, pay in full with discount applied and come in later. Flexible payment plans.

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“Virtual visits are great for acne, rosacea, rashes, eczema, psoriasis, skin lesions, skin cancer and cosmetic consultations. Without even having to leave home, you can get a diagnosis and prescription treatment for most skin concerns.” Express Care of Ocala, Inc. (352) 732-9888 Mon.-Fri, 7am-7pm, Sat.-Sun 8am-4pm Open to the public. COVID-19 testing for patients 65 and older. “We are taking great precautions with our staff. We are sanitizing everything and separating our patients from sick and the well.” Faithfully Guided Health Center (352) 512-0631 www.fghealthcenter.com Mon.-Fri. 8am-5pm Counseling, functional medicine, primary care, interactive metronome, supplements, medical ozone therapy and social health groups. Open by appointment and telehealth. Curbside for call ahead prepaid orders. Restorative and fitness services on pause; offering medical ozone therapy session in exchange for current restorative members. In addition to FGHC Foundation Scholarship, we have added a COVID19 Scholarship. “We want to meet you where you are to help create your healthy solutions and total well-being. Stay well.” Fakhoury Medical and Chiropractic Center (352) 351-3413 www.head2toecare.com “We are open and available to serve our community for the treatment and care of neck and back pain, and auto accident injuries. We are here and available continuing to serve our community if you are in pain or have been in a car accident. Thanks to our amazing team, we have been fortunate enough to keep our doors open to our patients. We have taken extra measures to maintain a clean, safe and sanitized environment.” Florida Blue (352) 259-0666 By phone Mon.-Fri. 9am-5pm, after hours by appointment.

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“We are a 5-Star company. Call us year-round for your Medicare supplement needs. If you have lost your group coverage due to losing your job, call us, we can help. Our agents are working from home every day and we are here to answer any of your health insurance questions.” Heart of Florida Health Center (352) 732-6599 Mon.-Fri. 8am-5pm; in-house pharmacy 8:30am-5:30pm; Reddick location closed Friday. Accepting new patients at nine locations; offering telemedicine appointments and screening and testing for COVID-19. Call for appointment. “We continue to be there for our patients, doing everything to ensure their safety and offering quality and affordable care through this difficult time.” Langley Health Services (888) 298-5510 www.langleymedicalcenter.com Mon.- Fri. 8am-5pm; offering televisits. COVID-19 testing at Sumterville, Ocala, and Inverness locations Mon.-Fri. 8am-3:30pm and Sat. 8am-1pm. Sumterville only from 8am-1pm. For urgent dental care, call (352) 793-5900 (2938) for pre-screening. Medicaid and most insurance accepted. Sliding scale for those who qualify. Lemire Clinic (352) 291-9459 Mon., Wed., Thurs 8am–5pm; Tue. 9am–6pm; Fri. 8-noon Visits by appointment; telemedicine services. Primary care/functional medicine; special virus prevention protocol for oral and IV immune building. “The best prevention is always to build up your immune system through healthy lifestyle.” Melanie’s Best (352) 465-4466 Hemp, CBD, massage therapy. Shop in person Mon. and Thur. 10am-4pm or by appointment. Phone orders with curbside or free shipping. “Offering the same great personal service in many different formats to help you make an educated decision

regarding hemp to maintain your best health.” Natural Medicine Institute (352) 801-0021 Tue., Wed. and Thur. by appointment. Telemedicine. Complementary pre-patient interview to see if our natural medicine practice is a fit for what people are looking for in natural health care. “We are a natural medicine practice that helps people build and support their body, health, immune system through diet, lifestyle, nutrition supplements and support.” Nutrinergy LLC (904) 422-0769 Flexible, daytime and evening online classes. Discounted online class: $175 for five weeks. “RESTART is an empowering fiveweek nutrition class that teaches how to use real food to take control of your health and how the food you eat impacts your body. Classes are held virtually in small groups where you’ll have the support of your fellow classmates as well as my support to guide you every step of the way.” Ocala Eye (352) 622-5183 8am-4:30pm at Heath Brook office only. Seeing emergency patients by appointment or through phone assistance. Curbside some products. Virtual appointments. “Our call center will continue working remotely to help assist with appointment reschedules and answering any questions.” Ocala Oncology/Florida Cancer Affiliates (352) 732-4032 Mon.- Fri. 8am-5pm Patients only, all locations open, and telemedicine. “Cancer doesn’t stop, so we are here for you.” SIMEDHealth Primary Care (352) 401-7575 Mon.-Fri. 8am-5pm Telehealth appointments. COVID-19 screenings and testing for those that meet criteria. “We are available for all of your primary care needs.”


Trinity Clinic – David B. Kuhn, MD (352) 512-0000 www.trinity.health Call for details; curbside testing/consult, telemedicine. “Please follow Trinity Clinic on Facebook for daily video updates on COVID-19.” Vantage Urologic Institute (352) 861-2115 Mon.- Fri, 8am-3:30pm, Sat. 8am-noon Telehealth visits; free men’s health screenings.

Frank DeLuca YMCA (352) 368-9622 www.ymcacentralflorida.com/virtualwellness Online virtual classes, daily fitness tips and healthy recipes via Facebook. com/frankdelucaymca - Fitness challenge to keep people motivated and give extra accountability. “At the Y, we understand the importance of staying active, especially during these times. That’s why we are focused on providing you with a variety of resources you can use for all aspects of healthy living -

mentally, physically and spiritually. Thank you for supporting the Y, and we look forward to seeing you again soon.” The Guest House Ocala Outpatient (855) 483-7800 www.theguesthouseocala.com We are offering outpatient services through our essential services facility and remote telepsych counseling. “Please stay safe and call for help during these difficult times.”

ANIMALS/PETS Forest Animal Rescue (352) 625-7377 www.forestanimalrescue.org and Facebook virtual tours and videos of animals online. “Although we are closed to the public for the protection of our animals and staff, we still very much need your support. The 100+ animals at the sanctuary must still be provided with lifetime care and we rely on public support to do it.”

Horse Protection Association of Florida (352) 466-4366 “We are in need of volunteers to help with farm maintenance. Drag pastures with our truck, mow with our tractor, repair broken fence boards, hang gates, put up electric fencing, weed eat fence lines, spray fence lines, wash trucks and trailer. You can work alone and we will keep our distance and wear masks when showing you the projects and equipment. Thank you!”

Maricamp Animal Hospital (352) 624-0300 www.maricampanimalhospital.com Open Mon.- Fri. 8am to 6pm; Sat. 8am to 1pm. Full service veterinary hospital, telemedicine, house calls, curbside service. “We are open and ready to help you and your pet. We are following all guidelines to ensure safety is absolutely first.”

RETAIL Agapanthus (352) 401-0800 Closed but working daily behind the scenes. Shop online at www. ShopAgapanthus.com. Pandora and Longchamp by phone or email only. Curbside and local delivery (free, by appointment) and shipping continental U.S. Twenty percent off entire sale, online discount code is Lemonade. Ten percent of every sale is going to United Way of Marion County’s COVID Relief Fund. Limited time offer. “Thank you for supporting independent locally owned businesses. We are here for all of your not-cancelled occasions. Stay well! For updates, follow us on Facebook.com/ Agapanthusocala and Instagram. com/agapanthus_ocala”

Artistic Flowers (352) 854-6711 www.artisticflowersofocala.com Mon.-Fri. 10am-2pm for phone service; internet service 24/7. Delivery to residences and some assisted living facilities and businesses. Designer’s choice arrangement (best selection currently in shop) $49.99 including delivery to 34481 and 34476 zip codes; delivery charge otherwise. Taxes not included in price. “We appreciate your business and will continue to deliver flowers to your loved ones.” Carpet One Floor & Home (352) 624-2010 Mon.- Fri. 9am-5pm, Sat. 10am2pm; or by appointment. Personal, virtual and home

shopping appointments, online shopping with home delivery (delayed on some items). 18 months zero interest financing with $50 Visa gift card for each new financing account. “Now is a great opportunity to buy many of our do-it-yourself friendly products for homeowners. It is also a great time for restaurants and other businesses to professionally replace their flooring without any further business interruption.” The Finicky Flamingo (352) 867-0537 Mon.-Sat. 10am-5pm Delivery, curbside, live Facebook tours. Twenty-five percent discount on custom painting services. “We ask that you please wear a

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mask when entering our store and please use hand sanitizer before and after leaving.” Shannon Roth Collection/ Olivia & Co (352) 427-6078 Order daily via phone, text or email for curbside or delivery. Store temporarily closed. Offering any amount of gift certificate at 20 percent off with no expiration date. “We pray for your health and safety during this very difficult time. We look forward to seeing all of you walking through our Blue Doors really soon. We are in this together.” Jerry’s Indoor Archery & Army Surplus Inc. (352) 351-3766 Mon.-Fri. 8:30am-5pm; Sat. 8:30am-4pm “We appreciate your business.” Karishma Boutique (813) 312-1217 www.karishmaboutique.com and

www.karishmabodycare.com By appointment. Free local delivery. Thirty percent off entire website. “Thank you for your continued support!” Martins Used Cars, Inc. (352) 854-5599 Sales Mon.-Fri. 8am-6pm, Sat. 9am-1pm; service Mon.-Fri. 8am5pm; drop off service with drop box. “Your safety is our top priority. We have taken precautions to keep our facilities clean and sanitized. We will cover the seats and wear gloves when we are in your vehicle.” Modern Muffler Shop Inc. (352) 732-8478 Mon.-Fri. 8am-4:30pm, Sat. 8am-3pm Pen and Ink (352) 622-3362 www.pen-ink.printswell.com Open by appointment for private shopping. Email orders for gifts on Instagram or Facebook. Stationery and invitations can be ordered on

website. Delivery and curbside. Website offer of 30 percent off wedding and graduation invitations and announcements, and flat and folded note cards are two for one. “Thanks for your support!” Ocala Bicycle Center (352) 291-5268 Mon.-Thur. 10am-6pm, Fri.- Sat. 10 am-5pm “We are open for new bike sales as well as repairs on makes/models of bikes (excluding gas). Curbside drop off and contactless payment available.” Uniquecherie www.uniquecherie.com Available via website or Facebook. Purchases will be mailed. All items on website are 20 percent off using coupon code LAUNCH2020 until July 1. “Beautiful, unique jewelry makes a wonderful Mother’s Day, anniversary or anytime gift and you support a small business at the same time.”

SPECIALIZED SERVICES AA Lock Doc & Security (352) 867-1965 Store, Mon.-Fri. 8am-5pm; road service 24/7 “We know everyone is affected by this virus and we want everyone to know we are here, we are strong and we will survive this together.” Affordable Moving USA (352) 877-2900 Email, FaceTime and phone estimates Mon.-Thur. 9am-2pm; moving services Mon.-Sat. 9am-completion “Our team is working to take all available precautions at this time, such as sanitizing and social distancing, as the health and safety of our clients and team members is of upmost importance.” Asphalt Sealing & Striping Co., Inc (352) 732-0900 Mon.- Fri. 7:30am-4:00pm Residential and commercial; free estimates. “We can fix your parking lot, driveway. We do potholes, seal-

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coating, striping. We are infrastructure, so not restricted.”

com/breezeocala and www.instagram.com/breeze_ocala.”

Balcony Sports (352) 401-3663 Mon.-Fri. 7:30am-5:30pm “We are open for camp for parents continuing to work. Balcony will continue to sanitize the facility on a regular basis and have staff and camp children wash their hands frequently. Due to the size of our facility, we can accommodate a number of children while complying with social distancing guidelines.”

Caliber Design & Engineering (352) 207-8714 Mon.-Fri. 9-5pm

Breeze Day Spa (352) 401-0800 Products are available online at www.shopagapanthus.com even though the spa is closed temporarily. Call to arrange curbside or delivery. Marion County Class of 2020 graduating senior girls—enter on Instagram to win a $50 gift card that never expires. “Stay well! We will see you soon. Follow updates on www.facebook.

Clardy Oil Company (352) 622-7161 Mon.-Fri. 7am-5pm Limited customer access for product pick up. “Clardy Oil Company continues to provide essential services and deliveries of bulk motor fuels and packaged lubricants.” Cox Communications (352) 337-2100 www.cox.com Mon.-Fri. 10am- 4pm Installation via the Help Lightning App to virtually support in-home installation needs. During this time of required in-home learning, we’re helping get families in need connected to the internet through our Connect2Compete program.


Through May 15, Cox is providing new customers with limited-time, first two months free of Connect2Compete service. Visit www.cox. com/connect2compete. Starter Internet is $19.99, and comes with increased speeds, up to 50 Mbps, through May 15. To support local businesses, Cox Media is offering free advertising for restaurants. “Cox is committed to supporting the community.” Document Technologies (352) 368-6664 Mon.- Fri. 8am-5pm Presentations via internet. Ability to do remote service and install printer drivers. Leasing companies are offering delayed payments on new leases. “We are open servicing our customers and new customers for copy/ printing/scanning/fax needs.” Face The Day Spa (352) 622-9946 Salon currently closed. Shop online at www.aveda.com/salon/facethedayspaandsalon Heidi’s Travel Inc (352) 694-7739 Mon.-Fri. 9am-5pm Appointment, phone or email. “I don’t hand you a brochure, I hand you experience. Over 40 years in the travel business and traveled all the continents. Now is the time to plan your vacation. Great pricing for fall travel.” Hughes Relocation Services/ United Van Lines (352) 237-7100 Mon.-Fri. 9am-5pm Virtual surveys and no contact

email paperwork. “We are a fully operational relocation company designated as an essential business. We are doing in-person and virtual surveys per customer request.” JNS Pressure Washing LLC (352) 812-3299 Mon.-Sat. 7am-7pm Clean mildew and algae from all surfaces. Free house and driveway cleaning with roof cleaning purchase. “We are working with the City of Ocala to clean playgrounds and parks free of charge. Support us in our efforts by hiring us to clean your property. Free estimates.” Mid-Fla Heating and Air (352) 351-1240 By appointment. Free estimates and second opinions for major repairs and replacement. Mossy Oak Fence, LLC. (407) 900-2940 Mon.-Fri. 8am-5pm Available via email, phone and Facebook. Contactless appointments. “Mossy Oak Fence would like to assure all current and future customers we are taking all necessary precautions not to spread the Corona virus. Employees do not need to enter your residence or facility nor do they need to have physical contact with anyone at the time of the estimate or consultation.” Mr. Electric (352) 794-7368 Mon.-Fri. 8am-4 pm. Open 24/7 for emergency service. Offering scheduled appointments; 15 percent off senior and

military discounts. “We are still open. Please give us a call for all of your electrical needs.” Packaging Alternatives Corporation (352) 867-5050 Mon.-Fri. 8:30am-3:30pm Asking walk-in customers to place orders and pay by phone; delivering to industrial customers. Raney’s (352) 789-6701 Mon.-Fri. 8am-6pm, Sat.-Sun. 9am-5pm Store is open for walk-in customers; curbside available. Auto/truck parts, repair, sales. “Thank you to all of our customers, the truck drivers and owner operators across America, for keeping our country moving.” SureClean Solutions LLC (352) 633-5387 Mon.-Fri. 8am-5pm By appointment. Free hand sanitizer. “We are an essential business that can help keep your home clean and healthy.” Two Women and a Brush Painting (352) 619-6235 On-call; available seven days Exceptional references; 25 years of experience in residential and commercial, interior and exterior painting. Drywall repair, deck staining and sealing, cabinet refinishing, staining, custom finishes and power washing. Fifteen percent discount for senior citizens. “We are here to serve with pride and compassion when you need us during this difficult time.”

PHOTOGR APHY Tammy Portrait Artist (352) 622-7255 By appointment. “We can do safe distance outdoor sessions during this challenging time. Take advantage of $50 off our Creation Fee and get your portraits done while kids and parents are home.”

Jim Jernigan’s Studio (352) 732-7927 Portrait: www.jimjerniganstudio.com Commercial: www.john-jernigan.com Call for appointment. Some studio sessions available. Product and commercial photography continue via UPS and FedEx, with art direction via Skype.

“Please, everyone, stay safe. Together we are strong.” Maven Photo + Film (352) 888-6024 Call for an appointment. Photography and videography for weddings, events and commercial accounts.

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Lyn Larson - Mahal Imagery (352) 216-6303 www.mahalimagery.com Open for personal branding and product photography services. Phone or virtual meetings. Curbside service. “Virtual hugs to you all; stay safe!” Amy Davidson Creative (352) 789-5664 Commercial photography, content

management, copywriting, branding, proofreading. “Our community thrives when we work together in times of need and progress.” Isabelle Victoria Photography (352) 207-3486 IsabelleVictoriaPhotography.com Booking outdoor sessions. Call to schedule. Products delivered electronically or by mail.

“Stay safe, strong and hopeful.” Perdomo Images (305) 308-3729 www.perdomoimages.com For the duration of this we are offering free media photo/video to any small business or nonprofits doing anything to help. Call and let’s have a conversation about what I can do to help you help others!

ENTERTAINMENT/CLASSES Anastassia Ballroom & Dance (352) 533-7400 Offering online ballroom dance lessons, weekly virtual ballroom line dance group classes, online wedding dance lessons, virtual bridal party classes, online employee wellness dance classes and ballroom video tutorials. We have added rhythm line dance classes to cha cha, mambo/salsa, samba and rumba line dancing. No partner needed. Store closed temporarily. “Quarantine doesn’t have to be

boring! Shake off the coronavirus blues, improve physical health and connect with social distance dancing. Get your camera phone or webcam ready to start ballroom dancing from home!” And I Love Her Violins Wedding Ceremony Music (757) 615-1379 www.andiloveherviolins.com “I would love to play for your wedding, engagement, vow renewal or special event.”

Ocala Civic Theatre Physical location closed, but offering online classes for youth and adults through Education & Enrichment program. Visit www.ocalacivictheatre.com, for list of staff emails. Find details on website and and follow on Facebook for details. “Thank you for your generous support! We miss you and we can’t wait to see you soon to celebrate our 70th anniversary season with all of you!”

LEGAL Attorney Frank C Lawson PA (352) 351-5510 Mon.- Fri. 9am-5pm by appointment. “Have peace of mind. Is your will up to date?” Bogin Munns & Munns, P.A. (352) 690-7400 Mon.-Fri. 8:30am-5pm Seeing clients virtually.

Free telephone conference. “We are here in Ocala and ready to assist you in this difficult time.” Riggins Law Firm PA (352) 433-2400 www.rigginslawfirm.com Mon.-Thur. 9am-5pm, Fri. 9am-noon Consults through telephone or

Zoom, drop off service. “Riggins Law Firm is here to advise individuals and businesses through legal matters including related to COVID-19 and safer-athome order.” The Pendas Law Firm (352) 800-0000 Available 24/7 by phone or online.

REAL ESTATE DECCA Real Estate Inc. (352) 854-8787 Agents on call daily and can meet customers by appointment. Homes to Ranches Realty (352) 502-5855 Available for phone calls 7am9pm daily. Office by appointment only. “We are here for anyone in the market to buy or sell a home. We have safety measures in place

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for sellers and buyers. We have been deemed essential and we do believe that Real Estate is essential that is why everyone’s safety is very important to us, along with them stepping into the new chapter of buying or selling.” It’s All About You…Real Estate, LLC Richard Schleicher, (352) 8953731; Melissa Townsend, (843) 321-0819; Heidi Jasper, (352)

441-0743 Daily, 9am-6pm, call for appointment. No ride sharing. “We are here for you now and in the future.” Ocala Realty World (352) 789-6746 Daily 8am-8pm “I am working differently, using innovative techniques to help you buy or sell during this period of


time. We can still show and list properties using CDC guidelines. We are offering virtual tours for buyers and customers who would like to list their home through these uncertain times. I can still help you using social distancing, CDC guidelines, virtual tours and Zoom meetings.” Premier Sotheby’s International Realty / Tasha Osbourne (352) 613-6613 Youtu.be/ReHb71dnqPQ Virtual tours, FaceTime and online assistance with videos and lifestyle tutorials. “Lenders, title companies and inspectors are all working with realtors with masks, gloves, Lysol and more to promote safety while assisting those who need homes

or to relocate. New real estate forms and addendums are put in place to protect those affected by COVID-19. Showcase Properties of Central Florida (352) 351-4718 Mon.-Fri. 9am-5pm Call to set up appointment. “We are here to meet all your real estate needs.” Stellar Real Estate Agency (352) 585-1562 Available via phone, text or email. Virtual open houses and walk through, electronic correspondence and e-signing. “I am here and working for my clients, and those in need of buying or selling their home. Many people are

still in need of housing, and I am here to help in any Real Estate capacity.” The McCall Group at Keller Williams Realty (352) 547-1077 Mon.-Fri. 8am-8pm, Sat.-Sun. 9am-5pm Available by phone. Free home evaluation and staging appointment. “We care about our clients and give them service with a heart!” Watson Realty Corp. (352) 547-2404 By appointment and through phone assistance. “Customer service is very important to us. Please call with any questions and an agent will help you.”

FINANCIAL SERVICES Commercial Loan Finders, LLC (352) 895-9064 Mon.-Fri. 9am-6pm Free consultation by phone or Zoom. Commercial loans and access to free information on SBA grant and loan programs; no fees and no points. “In spite of the country being mostly shut down, I still have access to lenders that are still operating, in-business!” First Federal Bank (352) 236-6505 Services offered via drive thru at 910 SW 1st Ave.,

Mon.-Thur. 8am-5pm., Fri. 8am-6pm, and 5860 W. State Road 40, Mon.-Thur. 8am-5pm., Fri. 8am-5:30pm Drive thru or curbside appointments available. “We are here to help our community when it needs help the most! We are fully functioning through drive thru to ensure the safety of our customers and employees.” Olstein Financial (352) 351-3770 Mon.-Fri. 9am-5pm

Primerica Advisors (914) 548-0088 Appointments by phone or video meeting. “We are here to help you understand your current investments and help you achieve your financial goals for the future.” Stress Less Mortgage (352) 572-9060 Open by phone or teleconference Mon.-Fri. 8:30am-7pm, Sat.-Sun. 9am-1pm “Credit scores are tightening but we are still lending money. Please contact us for details.”

ASSISTED LIVING/IN-HOME Bridgewater Park Assisted Living and Memory Care Community (352) 509-5202 Phone assistance daily, 8am-8pm. Virtual tour upon request. New admissions to assisted living community accepted with 14-day isolation period upon arrival. New admissions to memory care unit not possible. “We appreciate your patience as tours and personal visits are not currently available and we are look-

ing forward to opening our doors for private tours soon.” Paddock Ridge (352) 512-9191 www.paddockridge.com Phone assistance available 24/7; appointments available for senior citizens and families seeking assisted living or memory care. “Residents and their families place more than just trust in us. They place the assurance of safety and well-be-

ing in our hands, as well. So in times of uncertainty, you can rest assured— we have our residents covered.” Visiting Angels (352) 620-8484 24/7 phone assistance. “Our home care team is still working hard to keep our clients in their homes. If you need any living assistance make sure to give us a call.”

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COMMUNITY SERVICES Center for Independent Living of North Central Florida (352) 368-3788 All services available, generally in modified format to avoid in-person contact. Leave a voicemail and a staff member will call back as soon as possible. “If you have a disability and need services, information about other resources, or just someone to talk to, please call us. We will respond.” Florida Kids Helping Kids (352) 347-0883 Sat. 10 am-2 pm, Sun. noon-2 pm, by appointment; booth is at Ocala Drive-in, in the back of the flea market. Clothing for emergency situations. Drop off donations of clothing or yard sale leftovers.

“We are here to help you, please make an appointment.” Ocala Housing Authority gdawson@ocalahousing.org (352) 369-2636 Mon.-Fri. 8:30am-5 pm, by phone and email only. Staff is working remotely. Documents may be emailed, faxed to (352) 3692642, or dropped off in package slot on east side of the administrative office. Basic documents may be found at www.ocalahousing.org. “The Ocala Housing Authority family is available to serve your family.” Pace Center for Girls, Marion (352) 369-0571 www.pacecenter.org Online services Mon.-Fri. 8am-4pm

Intake/enrollment potential students; academic and counseling sessions for girls already enrolled. “Pace is a year-round program for teenage girls.” The Pearl Project (352) 405-5005 www.thepearlprojectf lorida.org Online support groups, personal assistance and trauma-informed training for those caring for children with a history of trauma. Shop for diapers, wipes, formula and clothing from Kid-2-Kid Closet and bags will be left for pickup. Several free online trainings and resources available to download on website until May 31st. “We know this is a hard time for children and caregivers and we are here to support you!”

EDUCATION College of Central Florida (352) 873-5800 www.CF.edu All classes and services offered online. “CF is here for you.”

Sylvan Learning Center (888) 338-2283 Phone appointments and virtual instruction. “Even though schools may be closed, we are still here to help. We

have virtual instruction for students to ensure they get assistance if needed, or just keep up with their learning so gaps do not appear.”

MUNICIPAL Marion County Animal Services (352) 671-8200 www.marioncountyf l.org/departments-agencies/departments-a-n/ animal-services Limited office visits; online services include adoption counseling for possible match, with possible outside visitation. Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership www.ocalacep.com (352) 629-8051 Interactive educational opportunities continue online. COVID-19 specific topics now offered for local businesses; see www.ocalacep.com/ covid-19-updates for details and follow Ocala CEP on Facebook.

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City of Ocala www.ocalaf l.org Scroll down the page to find links to meetings, events and news. Call the main line at (352) 629-2489.

Marion County Tax Collector (352) 368-8200 www.mariontax.com Office closed; online services such as renewal for tag and driver’s license.

Marion County www.marioncountyf l.org Click on a link at the top of the page for office, event and program information. Click on the “Contact us” link to find a phone directory by department.

Marion County Animal Services (352) 671-8200 www.marioncountyf l.org/departments-agencies/departments-a-n/ animal-services Limited office visits; online services include adoption counseling for possible match, with possible outside visitation.

Florida Health Marion County www.marion.floridahealth.gov (352) 629-0137 COVID hotline 24/7: (866) 779-6121 COVID-19 testing information and updates online.


INSIDER

Social Recent events included luscious strawberries, ballroom dancing, equines on the square, dining at a unique location and a celebration in support of women. Photo by Dave Miller


INSIDER

Trish Perry, Janet Meyers

Habitat Strawberry Festival

MCPHERSON GOVERNMENTAL COMPLEX This page: Photography by Dave Miller Opposite page: Photography by Amy Davidson

T Singer/Songwriter Selkii

he seventh annual community celebration on March 7th attracted more than 30,000 attendees for family activities, live music, a car show, and, of course, lots of strawberries. The festival raises funds for Habitat for Humanity to construct new homes for local families.

BMX Trickstar performer

Benjamin and Leonidas Owens

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Real People. Real S tories. Real O cala.

Tracy Pickover and Felicia Estrella

Rayne Walton

Baxter the Dalmatian

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INSIDER

Florida Fun Mini Match CIRCLE SQUARE CULTURAL CENTER Photography by Tom Martin Jr.

P

rofessional and amateur dancers showed off their best steps during the ballroom competition held January 19th, with proceeds of more than $10,000 going to benefit the Marion Therapeutic Riding Association. A silent auction featured experiences, gift baskets and jewelry. Parley, a miniature therapy horse from the Equine Performance Center, charmed—and gave kisses to—attendees.

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Real People. Real S tories. Real O cala.

Diana Lammermeier and Pat Graffin

Go Red for Women

CIRCLE SQUARE CULTURAL CENTER Photography by Amy Davidson

A

Olana Osborn

ttendees stepped into the past at the Roaring ‘20s-themed American Heart Association of Florida’s 2020 Marion Go Red for Women event on March 5th. The event was presented with signature sponsor AdventHealth Ocala. Dr. Peter Chung was honored for his lifetime of work in cardiovascular care and guests were treated to dinner, dancing, a silent auction and music by Left On Broadway.

Joe Johnson

Left on Broadway

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INSIDER

Horse Capital Parade TUSCAWILLA PARK Photography by Erin Gilmore

O

n March 7th, more than 60 breeds of horses were on display during the fourth annual Horse Capital Parade/Parade of Nations, presented by the Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership and Live Oak International, in concert with the multi-day equine competitions at Live Oak Stud.

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Real People. Real S tories. Real O cala.

Melissa Lee

Rahul Razdan, Simone Cormier, Meera Razdan

Night at the Farm COLLEGE OF CENTRAL FLORIDA VINTAGE FARM Photography by Dave Miller

T Bill Gladson, Rich Buxman, Lisa Herndon

he College of Central Florida Foundation’s Night at the Farm is a party with a purpose. This “country chic gala” helps fund scholarship opportunities for CF students. The soiree, held in the farm’s beautiful party barn on a pristine 103 acres, was a fun evening featuring a bourbon tasting, great food and entertainment provided by country artist Melissa Lee.

Jim Henningsen

Curt and Sally Bromund

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“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission.” -John F. Kennedy

Honoring and remembering those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. VFW Veterans Village

A true home-like atmosphere to veterans, spouses, widows, auxiliary members, and honorably discharged personnel. Monthly rentals as low as $950, which includes:

• • • •

Rent Electric Cable Phone (Local & Long Distance)

• • • •

Secure Internet Access Housekeeping All meals & snacks Transportation to the VA & doctor visits

PROUDLY SPONSORED BY: 352.624.2010 CarpetOneOcala.com “Carpet One Floor & Home® is proud to support Building for America’s Bravest™ in their efforts to build smart homes for our most catastrophically injured service members.”

VFW VETERANS VILLAGE 352.236.0823 | 13005 NE 135th Street, Ft. McCoy, FL 32134 | vfwveteransvillage.org 28

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Kettle of “Questionably Living” Fish By Dave Schlenker | Illustration by David Vallejo

R

on the tumor fish—who did not eat his pea— died peacefully in his Gainesville home earlier this year. In lieu of a burial, he was placed in a freezer and later exchanged for a living fish named Andy. Ron’s short life was wrought with challenges, but his legacy packs some poignant lessons in a shuttered college town. Let me offer some background information. Ron the betta (a bright, beautiful variety of fish that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals warns are not suitable as “starter pets”) was named for Ron Swanson, the beefloving boss on the sitcom Parks and Recreation. He is a favorite character of our daughter, Katie, a sophomore at the University of Florida. She lives near campus with three other young women. Ron was a gift to Katie from one of her kind roommates, but he had issues from the beginning. He tottered like the Titanic just before it split in two and dunked the string quartet. Perhaps the cause was the big ol’ honkin’ lump in his side. A tumor likely, but, according to the savvy fish salesman, it was merely constipation. All he needed was—I am not joking—a pea. He said a thawed pea would make the lump in tottering Ron’s side pass in a blissful, holistic way. My immediate thought was a pet salesman swindled smart young women who did something I could never do—get into UF. But then I did something I thought I would never do. I Googled “constipated fish pea.” Sure enough, it’s a thing. The results from Google: “While it does little nutritionally for bettas, it is high in fiber and contains

added moisture.” Then there were pea-preparation tips from nippyfish.com. The lesson I planned to espouse was that kids must learn their own lessons. Dad could preach “Don’t buy a fish with a tumor from a clerk with snake oil” and take pride in his wisdom. The fact is, multiple fish met untimely deaths under my own watch in college. My fraternity pledge class was dubbed Phi Phi Delta, which stood for First Fish Died. Long story, but you know the ending. The ending to this story is, of course, Ron did not eat the pea. He did what most tottering fish with tumors did. He died. I sincerely admire the girls’ effort. They knew the odds were against Ron. But these young women are, as most college students are, invincible. They should expect nothing less of their fish. They knew Ron was the runt of the litter, yet they chose to give him a chance. Ron was exchanged for a tumor-free betta named Andy (another Parks and Recreation character). And I regret to inform you that Andy… Well, you know that ending, too. Maybe it was the water. Maybe it was the food. Maybe it was the lack of pea fiber. No matter. It remains true: Young people need to make their own mistakes. There may be more fish carnage, but there also may be happy, healthy fish who will celebrate college graduation with them. Phi Phi Delta Dad has faith—as well as some very dark fish tales of his own. May ‘ 2 0

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Never miss an issue and save time by having Ocala Style Magazine delivered right to your mailbox for only $5.50 per month.

OCALASTYLE .COM/SUBSCRIPTION Ocala Style Magazine is still available for free at any of our distribution locations. 30

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VOWS

You are cordially invited

to celebrate Ocala’s newest brides and grooms, get a glimpse into their most special of days and hear firsthand about the memories that will always hold a place in their hearts. Pictured: Celine & Kade Calder Photographed by Kayla Wade Photography

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VOWS

CELINE & KADE CALDER January 18th, 2020 Photography by Kayla Wade Photography Venue: The Barn at Mazak Ranch Her favorite memory: “After being together over five years and finally marrying my high school sweetheart, the best memory came after we were pronounced husband and wife, as we drove away in the getaway car to the barn where the reception was held. We looked at each other with the biggest smiles on our faces and said, ‘We made it!’ to each other. Nothing compares to the pure joy in that moment.”

JULIE & BEN BONDANK February 1, 2020 Photography by Dave Schlenker Venue: Pine Haven Ranch His favorite memory: “I was so enthralled in the eyes of Julie that I didn’t realize our guests were never invited to sit down during the ceremony.” Her favorite memory: “Being given the opportunity to be the first couple to get wedding pictures by the creek at Pine Haven Ranch.”


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Sponsored Have you always been able to understand a customer’s vision and bring it to life?

I have always loved being creative and seeing an idea develop and come to fruition. Eventually, I discovered a strong interest in construction. My career started in architecture and in recent years has continued in interior design. Both areas of expertise have been interchangeable throughout my career, and I am fortunate to work and experience two disciplines I love. What do you enjoy most about your job?

My favorite part of my job is working with people and helping them enhance their own personal style. Can you share any design trends you’re seeing right now?

The trends that I see and love are [about] color and texture. These trends are being expressed boldly and subtly on everything from fabrics and wallpapers to art pieces, roller shades, area rugs and furnishings of every kind. What advice do you have for homeowners thinking about making some changes or refreshing their living space?

visionary design:

KAY

RAINS M

aking the world a more beautiful place comes naturally to the head of Koontz Design Studio. This Ocala native loves helping people express and enhance their own personal style in their living spaces. With bachelor’s degrees in both architecture and interior design, she’s known for visualizing a customer’s ideas and creating masterpieces of home design.

What’s your role as an interior designer with Koontz Furniture and Design?

As the head of Koontz Design Studio, I enjoy adding value to any space with custom window treatments of any kind, enhance furniture by giving it a face lift with fine fabrics and all the trimmings or deck the walls with the latest wallpaper. The truth is, I love the transformation of a space and all that entails. 34

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Be yourself—with a twist. If you have a piece you can’t part with, perhaps give it a refresh with a custom finish or fabric. On the other hand, if your furnishings are new in an old space, knock out a wall or add a splash of color or texture with an exciting, redefining wallpaper or paint color on a wall or ceiling. You were born and raised in Ocala and moved away to attend Florida State University and then to work at a top 15 architectural firm in Houston, Texas before returning to your hometown. How are you involved in our community these days?

I have been happy to settle here again in recent years. I love working with people and for people. I am a leader at my church and am also on the H.U.G.S. Charities, Inc. board of directors. (Heartfelt. Unconditional. Giving. is a nonprofit that raises funds for the research, prevention, detection and treatment of all forms of cancer and assists individuals and families whose lives have been adversely affected by it.) Do all your hobbies and leisure activities include making the world a more beautiful place?

My creative juices are always flowing. I truly love to bake all sorts of confections. My favorite leisure activity is spending quality time with friends and family. The ultimate is movie night with the kids! To consult with Kay about your design project, contact her at Koontz Furniture and Design › 3111 S. Pine Ave, Ocala › (352) 622-3241 or email kayrains@koontzfurnitureanddesign.com


Since 1919

ON INSTAGRAM @KOONTZ.COM

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Leading Women

Devon Chestnut, APR, CPRC Communications Manager, Cox Communications, Inc. Continuing to learn as a person and striving for perfection as a professional are hallmarks for this native Ocalan. As a wife, mother and, while working full-time, Devon earned a college degree and switched careers, allowing her to pursue her passion. Now, she is communications manager over the southeast region for Cox, which includes Florida, Georgia and Louisiana. Devon’s leadership skills and professionalism helped propel her to the presidency of the Florida Public Relations Association, effective in August. She was thrilled for the opportunity to move back “home,” after spending many years in Gainesville.

Photo by Lyn Larson 38

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Leading Women

Judy Crane, LMHC, CAP, ICADC, CSAT Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Guest House Ocala In co-founding The Guest House Ocala, and serving as CEO, Judy brings her passion for helping others to the forefront. The Guest House is a treatment facility that focuses on trauma, addiction and mental health. Judy is a certified therapist and hypnotist, and an internationally recognized specialist for healing trauma and PTSD. She spearheaded Spirit2Spirit Healing, a new movement in experiential and holistic therapies, and also uses her experiences and leadership skills as a consultant to train clinical teams for other treatment centers. She is an internationally respected author, speaker and teacher. She explains, “You have to unravel the trauma story to understand the addiction story and write the recovery story.” www.theguesthouse ocala.com

Photo courtesy of Esther Diehl May ‘ 2 0

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Leading Women

Kelly G. Hamer, Attorney at Law Bice Cole Law Firm, PL Kelly is a board-certified medical malpractice lawyer and circuit civil mediator. She takes defending doctors, nurses and hospitals “seriously and personally” so they can focus on their professions. Esteemed for her skill and professionalism, Kelly has been chosen by peers to be on several trial lawyer groups at local, state and national levels, where she has served as president. She also is the owner of Balcony Gymnastics which provides a safe environment for girls to grow and thrive. Kelly works hard in her professional and personal life to lead by example, especially for her two daughters. www.bicecolelaw.com

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Leading Women

Katherine O’Brien, DVM Maricamp Animal Hospital Veterinarian Katherine O’Brien built her “purposely-driven” business on her innate love for animals, stemming from childhood, and through honesty, ethics and passion. She and her staff are committed to a positive culture that leads to delivering more than their clients expect and also in the belief that educating people is paramount in being able to help pets. She believes people must take personal responsibility in order to succeed and that to grow into an industry or community leader, you must first find what “feeds your soul.” And, she offers, “dream big,” then times that by 10 and combine a good work ethic with your passion. www.maricampanimal hospital.com

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Leading Women

Suzanne Rice Suzanne Rice Design Consultants, LLC

Working closely with clients, being adaptable to change and combining elements of economics, psychology and design are ways Suzanne Rice helps others “find the design they haven’t discovered.” Her passion for learning new things and exploring new ideas often translates into concepts that combine her skills with clients’ desires. With the advent of so many online options, Suzanne says it is critical for home and business owners to consult with an experienced designer who can marry the elements of budget, scale and design concept into an artistic and functional solution. www.suzannericedesign.com

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Leading Women

Ashley Wheeler-Gerds General Manager, Paddock Mall One of the largest “community centers” in the Ocala area is the Paddock Mall, which is continuing to flourish under the leadership of Ashley Wheeler-Gerds. Under her leadership, the mall has greatly expanded its community outreach efforts and has undergone numerous improvements, while attracting new tenants. It is vital to Ashley that the many community events she stages benefit as many worthy local nonprofits as possible and that such partnerships as the “mall walking program” help individuals maintain or establish a healthy routine. Ashley is a strong believer in teamwork, stressing that every member is important and that every voice deserves to be heard and success is most often the result of collaboration. www.paddockmall.com

Photo by Lyn Larson


FEMALE

TRAILBLAZERS Throughout history, trailblazing women have forged a path for future generations with their passion, service and pioneering spirits. Through this story and the profiles that follow, we’d like to introduce you to a few local women, from both the past and the present, who inspire and amaze us.

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First Ladies By Susan Smiley-Height & Lisa McGinnes

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t the turn of the 20th century, only a very few women held medical licenses in Florida. Ocala would have the honor of being home to the state’s first black female physician, Dr. Effie Carrie Mitchell Hampton, who obtained her medical license in 1906. Educated at Howard Academy, Miss Mitchell owned a drug store on Broadway Street in downtown Ocala before becoming a doctor. She practiced medicine until 1935, and was one of the founders of the Florida Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Association. Ocala’s International Women’s Day celebration, hosted on March 8th by Ollin International, honored Mrs. Hampton this year. She and her husband, a local dentist, owned a home in what is now Ocala’s historic district, and the College of Central Florida’s Hampton Center was named after Lee Royal Hampton, DDS. Two decades later, in the mid-1950s, Ocala’s Munroe Memorial Hospital would hire its first female physician, Margaret Palmer Ayres. A graduate of Ocala High School, she attended Florida State College for Women and Duke University and graduated from Emory University School of Medicine in 1951. After her residency, she returned to her hometown to practice medicine, and was promoted to Munroe’s chief of staff in 1966.

Education

In the early 1900s, education was one of the few fields which welcomed women—as teachers. Iva Townsend Sprinkle graduated from Florida State College for Women in Tallahassee in 1911. She taught high school science in Ocala and then became Marion County’s first female superintendent of schools. In the 1930s, she was appointed Florida’s state director of education for the Great Depression’s Work Projects Administration (WPA) adult education program.

Printing

In the 1920s, Ocalan Mattie J. Shaw was the only African American woman in the state to solely own and operate a printing business. Reporting on local community and church activities in West Ocala, she founded The Florida Watchman newspaper in 1925.

Aviation

As the name Amelia Earhart became synonymous with the word “aviatrix” in the 1930s, a pioneering woman from Ocala was also taking to the skies—and a world of adventure.

Barbara Linder Wood was born in Ocala, graduated from Ocala High School, and met her husband Ben Wood around the start of World War II when he was in training at the Ocala airport’s pilot training school. By then, Miss Linder was already an accomplished aviatrix and meteorologist—and the first female pilot in Marion County. The self-described “free spirit” chronicled her fantastic adventures around the world, including encounters with celebrities such as Greta Garbo, Rudolph Nureyev, Johnny Weissmuller and John and Jackie Kennedy, in her 2000 memoir, North From Ocala.

FURTHER FIRSTS It wouldn’t be until more modern history that women broke through barriers to less traditional pursuits such as law enforcement and politics. The small Marion County town of McIntosh elected its first female mayor, Martha Strange, in 1974, who was advised during her campaign that “being the mayor is a man’s job.” The retired schoolteacher would go on to serve her community for 26 years as mayor and a town council member, until 2007. The Ocala Police Department’s Major Tara Woods joined the force in 1990, advancing through the ranks as OPD’s first black female sergeant, lieutenant and major, and serving as a role model for many young women aspiring to a career in law enforcement. Our most recent trailblazer is Belleview High School senior Sierra Harris. While being a quarterback for the All-County Flag Football Team is an admirable achievement, this young woman made history in October 2017, when, as a sophomore, she became Marion County’s first female to score in a varsity football game. As a kicker, she made two successful point-aftertouchdown (PAT) kicks to help the Belleview Rattlers win their homecoming game against the Williston Red Devils. May ‘ 2 0

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Say her name 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote. We uncover the first women to cast their votes in Marion County. By Susan Smiley-Height

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n August 18th, 1920, after a battle spanning a century, women won the right to vote in the United States. The women’s suffrage movement led to the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, enfranchising all American women and declaring that they, like men, were deserving of all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Over the decade leading up to the ratification, female suffragists had been fighting against both men and even other women for the vote for over 60 years. On the 100th anniversary of the historic victory that gave women the vote, it is poignant to consider that of the 58 presidential elections in American history, women have only legally been allowed to vote in 25 of them. Mrs. Rosa Belle Barco Veal, of Cotton Plant, in northwest Marion County, was the first woman to register to vote in Marion County, according to Mark Ard of the Florida Department of State in Tallahassee. The state library and archives information shows that Veal also served as the registration officer for her precinct in 1920, a post to which she was appointed as soon as she was registered to vote. Among the first women to register were Mrs. J.R. Moorhead and her daughter, Mrs. H.A. Davies; Mrs.

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Fred Smith, of Martel, who was appointed registration officer at Martel, also in northwest Marion County; Misses Ruth Ervin and Carrie Barco; and Mrs. Elizabeth Thomas and Mrs. Ethel E. Walker. The first female from Ocala to vote in the general election that year was Mrs. C.W. Moreman. The second woman to vote in Ocala was Miss Alice Bullock. Ard compiled this information using clippings from the Ocala Evening Star, which later was joined with the Ocala Banner to form the Ocala Star-Banner. According to Shelley Rowland Dunn, who lives in Cotton Plant, Dr. W.R.O. Veal and his wife Nettie had three sons, Fred, Charles Raymond and William. Dr. Veal came to Marion County from South Carolina in the mid to late 1800s. He had his doctor’s office and a residence in Martel, and a home in Cotton Plant. He rode horseback to treat the people in west Marion County. Dunn’s research indicates that one of those sons, William Duncan Barco, and his wife Permillia lived in Columbia County, Florida, and moved to Cotton Plant around 1850, along with his parents and several siblings. Family member Joseph P. Barco, is credited with establishing St. John’s United Methodist Church at Cotton Plant. William and Permillia had seven children. The youngest was Christopher Columbus Barco, who


Veal family photos courtesy of Shelly Rowland Dunn

married Mary Jane Shaw. They were the parents of Rosa Belle Barco, born August 16th, 1880 in Cotton Plant. Rosa married Charles R. Veal in 1900. Rosa’s uncle, Daniel M. Barco (Christopher’s brother), was the election supervisor who registered her to vote in 1920. Dunn explains that Rosa Veal was her great-greataunt by marriage. Dunn said she found it interesting while researching Rosa Veal that at least a couple of the articles mentioned the concern that some ladies did not want to list their age when registering. Apparently, other counties were letting the ladies list their age as 21+ (21 being the minimum age to vote) but Supervisor Barco would not allow it as he felt everything should be equal and he did not think it would be legal. An Ocala Evening Star clipping dated September 11th, 1920, has the headline “Go To It, Girls” followed by “Supervisor Barco has completed his arrangements to swear you into citizenship.” The headline on another article, dated November 2nd, 1920, heralded “Election Day in Marion County” and detailed the historic scene with the writer explaining, “The Star advised housekeeping ladies to hold back until after 9 o’clock to vote, so as to give men who had to go to work a chance. Advice is meant to be given and not taken, so the Star reporter was not surprised when he reached the polls promptly at 8 a.m., to find one bunch of ladies before him.” The writer went on to give an account of the opening of the polls and the voting, reporting, “The first seven white women to pass in were the following: Mrs. C.W. Moreman, Miss Alice Bullock, Mrs. J.J. Gerig, Mrs. J.P. Phillips, Mrs. W.S. Bullock, Mrs. E. W. Merrill and Mrs. R. N. Dosh. Mrs. C.W. Moreman was the first Ocala woman to vote. Miss Alice Bullock was immediately after her, and it was not possible to tell the order in which the others voted, as often one had to wait for a booth until someone after her had voted; the succession being broken by the time it took each to vote and by men voters coming in between. In the few minutes the Star man was inside the polling place, it looked to him like the women were voting right along and marking their ballots rapidly, but as to how accurately will not be

Clockwise from left: Rosa Belle Barco Veal; a vintage suffrage campaign pin; the Veal family in Cotton Plant with Rosa seated, at center, with children.

known until the count commences.” The article goes on to report that due to the fact that there were not enough voting booths to accommodate the crowd, tables were set up and by the late afternoon 1,100 votes had been cast and most of the voters at that time were women. Annabelle Leitner, a Marion County historian and member of a local pioneering family, notes that her grandmother, Mary Catherine Conner Leitner, was one of the first women to register to vote when she was allowed to do so. She voted in the Geiger Precinct, which was located in the old Shiloh School, which still stands today in northwest Marion County. Conner had moved to Marion County from Lexington, South Carolina, in 1911, when she married Benjamin Franklin Leitner, who was born, raised and lived his entire life in Marion County. “I was told by Daddy’s twin sister that Grandma Leitner never missed an opportunity to vote,” Leitner recalls. “Her youngest daughter worked the polls for many years and retired as a clerk (head of a polling place), just as I do now. Grandma Leitner instilled upon us the importance of voting in all elections, no matter how large or small they were, and said there was no excuse for not voting.” According to the Marion County Supervisor of Elections website, at the end of March of this year there were 252,359 registered voters in the county. Of those, 135,562 were women. Ocala Style would love to hear from locals with any recollections of the impact of the landmark amendment giving women the right to vote. Please email information to marketing@magnoliamediaco.com. May ‘ 2 0

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In making her historic mark on the bench, this Ocala judge says it is important to follow your passions and to help others along the way. By Susan Smiley-Height

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udge Sandra EdwardsStephens Champ’s path from her birth in Chicago to serving as a senior judge in Florida’s Fifth Judicial Circuit included practice as one of the few female African American attorneys in the state and becoming the first female and first black judge in the circuit. This intrepid trailblazer has practiced law with the Florida Department of Transportation, with law partner Elmira Conley, with Legal Services of Greater Miami and the University of Central Florida, and represented the United States with the Center for International Projects in Russia, Estonia, Hungary and the Czech Republic. She credits her success to her own tenacity, having “next step” and long-range plans, and a strong network of supporters. Her work has earned her honors including, in 2018, the biennial award to an outstanding legal professional, bestowed by the Fifth Judicial Circuit Professionalism Committee. The circuit covers Marion, Citrus, Lake, Hernando and Sumter counties. Along with honors and awards from, among a lengthy list, the NAACP, Florida Bar Journal Editorial Board and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Champ was inducted into the

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Top photo courtesy of Fifth Judicial Circuit; bottom photo courtesy of Ocala Star-Banner

African America judges either, so I knew I had to put Marion County Black History Museum Hall of Fame the best foot forward, as my mother would say,” she and received the Distinguished Service Award from recalls. “And now they still don’t have any African the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency. American judges. I am doing senior judge work, but And, there is a street named for her, which runs past that’s not the same as being actively on the bench.” the courthouse in downtown Ocala. Champ says that when a judge retires from the bench, “I was very proud when they named a street after me, the Florida Supreme Court can appoint them, if they so and did it during my lifetime,” she says, adding that the desire, to be a senior judge. “award for professionalism from the circuit was truly “And then you work throughout the state as called an honor because I always worked to be the ultimate professional and I always try to exhibit that in the courtroom and outside the courtroom.” Champ, who was known for many years as Judge S. Edwards-Stephens, which is the name on the street sign, earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from Southern Illinois University and law degree from Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law. Most recently, doing the work after hours and over a span of time, she was proud to earn her master’s degree in Biblical Studies from the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Champ came to Florida with her then-husband, a pastor, in 1972 and was teaching in Broward County when she decided to pursue a degree in law. “It was about 1978 and we were assigned to a mission church in Key Largo,” she recalls. “I had been Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara J. Pariente and Judge Champ teaching special education in the public schools of Broward County for seven years and knew it was time for a career change. Some of the parishioners at the church had legal problems but were afraid of the legal system. I was led at that time to pursue a legal career.” She relocated to Ocala in 1989, when her husband was appointed as pastor of St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church. By then, she was “working as an attorney for the Department of Transportation with the district in DeLand, commuting to Ocala every day,” she says. “I was a senior eminent domain attorney.” She was elected to the bench in Marion County in 1990 and was appointed to the circuit by Governor Jeb Bush in 2000. “They had no women in the Fifth Judicial Circuit before me and no May ‘ 2 0

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and as you’re willing. You fill in for an active judge, or for very supportive, more psychologically and emotionally, and in how she taught me and was an example,” she a circuit, such as I did when I was covering telephonic shares. “My brother Ozzie, one of four brothers, hearings for the Fourteenth Circuit in Panama City as was very encouraging. He was a humble person but a result of their overload of cases resulting from the hurricane in 2018,” she explains. “You’re like a substitute accomplished so much. He got his doctorate and taught at the University teacher, but you’re a of Michigan and substitute judge.” Harvard, then went “Sandra Champ was my into the ministry mentor when I first became following his passion. a county judge many He pastored for about years ago,” offers Circuit 20 years and was just Judge S. Sue Robbins. a great example. My “She has always had that – Judge Sandra Champ partner in law, Elmira extra something that Conley, was 10 years my senior. She was licensed in three separates the extraordinary from the rest. She has passion, perseverance and stamina. She continues to inspire us. Her states and came here to Florida and we opened an office in Winter Park in the 1980s. She was very encouraging.” undeniable beauty is not only on the outside.” In lamenting the current lack of diversity in the Fifth Champ also extols the virtues of the role models who Judicial Circuit, Champ says she hopes Ocala attorney helped her achieve her phenomenal success. LeAnn Mackey Barnes will someday make a successful “I had a lot of encouragement for sure. My mother, bid for a seat on the bench. And, in offering advice to all who lived the last 14 years of her life in Ocala, was

I encourage people to do what they enjoy, what they have a passion for. Don’t miss out on that in life. And lift someone else up when you can.

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Opposite page, photo courtesy of Ocala Star-Banner; this page, photos courtesy of Judge Sandra Champs

Judge Champ taking her oath with Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince and Champ’s brother Ozzie Edwards. Second photo: Judge Champ’s brothers Michael Edwards and Frank Edwards help her with her robe.

younger women pursuing a career, she says the first thing she would tell them is to have a “go-to” source in life. “We all need spiritual, emotional and psychological strength and guidance. My go-to source is God,” she avows. “And I would advise they have a ‘What’s my next step?’ plan as well as a long-term plan,” she adds. “The long-term plan and goals sometimes change and you can’t see every step of the way—you never will—because typically we’re not in total control of our life and our plans, but you can have a plan, and you should always be questioning, ‘What is my next step?’” She suggests taking things “moment by moment, day by day, week by week. And then take some action when you can, on that next step, and never stop improving. Never stop working toward becoming more proficient and better in every area of your life. You’re not going to be perfect and you’re going to have lows and highs, you may have some regressions, but you’ve got to go forward. And keep going.” Champ is a fan of Ocala as a place in which to raise a family, but wishes there were more opportunities for younger professionals. “It is a peaceful place. It is more rural and reminds me of my home life as a child after we left Chicago,” she notes. “It has a little bit of just about everything to offer and is in a good location.”

Champ notes that she and her husband of 15 years, Thomas Champ, a retired naval lieutenant commander, are active in Ocala, especially in their church. She says their chance meeting was a “miracle” from God. “It was at the airport in Orlando,” she offers with reverence. “I was on my way to Chicago, to the Moody Bible Institute, he was on his way to the islands. We just started talking. We kept in touch. After two years, he asked me to marry him.” Between them, they have four children and six grandchildren, ranging in age from 3 to 25. For fun, the judge loves to be outdoors, “just enjoying being there.” The one thing that makes her heart soar, though, is singing. “I like to sing, but it’s more than that; it’s my passion. And it’s not that I think I can sing really well, although some people say so, I just enjoy it for myself because it lifts my spirits,” she reveals, her voice lilting a note higher. “I sing in church, and sometimes solos for events, or with jazz artist Rudy Turner. I just enjoy singing. It’s very uplifting.” She also loves to travel and she and her husband recently notched off an item on his bucket list—visiting the historic Machu Picchu site in Peru. “I encourage people to do what they enjoy, what they have a passion for. Don’t miss out on that in life,” she offers. “And lift someone else up when you can.” May ‘ 2 0

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Community

Curator Painted horses, kids’ concerts, film festivals and more. Laurie Zink has blazed a trail through Marion County’s cultural landscape, and she’s not finished yet.

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ave you ever paused to admire the colorful lifesize horse statues displayed around town? Ever checked out the Walk of Fame “stars” in front of the Marion Theatre, kicked back with a bag of popcorn during a Cinema Sunday or enjoyed a musical dinner show at Hilton Ocala? A motivating force behind all those events is a smiling, strawberry-blond bundle of energy named Laurie Zink. Even now, at the age of 61, she’s taken on a plateful of community functions. As an advisor of digital media and technology with the business advisory council at Marion Technical College, Zink is helping students look into opportunities in the business world. Besides being on several boards, including the Ocala Civic Theatre, Zink has returned, after a brief hiatus, as an emeritus director with the board of the Marion Cultural Alliance (MCA), which she helped found 20 years ago in conjunction with Horse Fever. MCA executive director Jaye Baillie expects it’ll be like old times. “I’m really lucky in my career path, having worked in education, with the business community, now in arts and culture. In all of those arenas I’ve worked with Laurie,” says Baillie. “She is one of the most energetic,

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smart, lively individuals that I’ve encountered, a good person to have on your team.” In still another arena, Zink has been named development and community outreach director at the Institute for Human & Machine Cognition. Zink explains that it’s not very different from the arts and entertainment scene. “I do believe science is an art,” she offers. “What I want to do is figure out a way to do something like the art of innovation. I’ve been playing around with those ideas right now. Arts and sciences are like combining two parts of your brain. It’s very cool.” As she continues to map out a trail of new projects, it’s no wonder Zink was honored at Ocala’s third annual International Women’s Day celebration, which was held on March 8th. As part of the 100-year-old international celebration, the local program recognized more than two dozen women. Among them, Zink stood out as a trailblazer behind numerous cultural events and social services that generated millions of dollars for the community. Manal Fakhoury, logistics chair for Ocala’s event, sees Zink as a “go-getter” with a “global vision.”

This page, photo courtesy of Laurie Zink; opposite page, photo courtesy of Ocala Star-Banner

By Marian Rizzo


“Laurie is a wonderful asset to any team,” asserts Fakhoury. “She’s creative, has a large outward vision and is willing to take on new ideas and work hard to deliver value. Plus, she’s fun to work with and learn from.” A highlight for Zink was the Horse Fever project she worked on with fellow arts enthusiast, Paula King. They, and a small group that included Jessica McCune, Ellen Gilchrist and Stew Robinson, planned the twoyear endeavor, modeled after such community-based public art exhibits as Cows on Parade and others, that featured painted fiberglass animal statues, that were sweeping the nation. “We literally operated out of Paula’s and my garages,” Zink chuckles. “Then we worked out of a closet in the original Chamber [Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership] office. Two things we did different from everybody else—it was a juried horse art show, and, at the auction, half of the proceeds automatically went to MCA, and the other half to any charity of the buyer’s designated choice. That created such a collaborative feel and got people to spend more money. At the actual auction, the amount [raised] was close to $900,000.” Zink’s co-chair Paula King can’t help but reflect on the sensitive timing of the project.

“Horse Fever debuted on Sept. 27, 2001, two weeks after 9/11,” says King. “I remember the phone call Laurie and I had. Who was going to care about painted horses? What we learned is that art always has relevancy, never more so than when people are feeling vulnerable. We had the unveiling and our town came together in a moment of joy.” To King, Zink was a key partner on the project, which ultimately came to life through the combined efforts of the hundreds of others that lent their time and talents to ensure it was a success. “I have a lot of admiration for Laurie, not only for the arts, but whatever she’s doing,” King shares. “You can’t really talk about her without talking about her commitment. When she does something, she’s all in.” The success of the first Horse Fever project ended up being the impetus for a second installment 10 years later. So, will there be a Horse Fever III next year? “We’ll see,” Zink replies. “The city would very much like us to do something.” Another highlight for Zink was a two-day, youthcentered entertainment event called Kidfetti that took center stage in March 2009. “It was a huge, one-of-a kind event,” Zink recalls. The wildly successful Horse Fever fundraiser was co-founded by Laurie Zink

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“More than 20,000 people came. All the entertainers were kids—headliners, like Jordin Sparks, the Naked Brothers Band, and Hunter Hayes. We involved about 100 organizations. Every group had an activity they actually did with the kids. The symphony brought recorders for every kid that came through and taught them how to play the recorder. The whole idea was to bring every aspect of the performing and fine arts to kids who would never have the understanding of all that.” Former Ocala mayor Gerald Ergle was involved in Kidfetti, though he recalls everything was pretty much planned out by Zink before anyone else came on board. “Laurie knows where she wants to go and she knows how to get there, and if you want to be there, you’ve gotta keep up,” laughs Ergle. “She had me on speed dial for years. She sent me an email one day and said, ‘I lost my phone and I can’t send any calls for a few days,’ and I said, ‘Thank you, Lord!’” Ergle also joined a whole team of people who promoted the Silver Springs International Film Festival. The Ocala Film Foundation was simultaneously created to put on the festival and several other ventures, including Jump/Cut, Cinema Sundays, and the Walk of Fame. For Zink, the film festival was number one. “It grew from being a $65,000 budget the first

year to more than $400,000 by the fourth year,” Zink declares. “We had nine filmmakers the first year, and by the fourth year, 78 filmmakers came from all over the world. The only reason why we’re not doing it anymore is because this community cannot support a half-million-dollar budget every year. We cannot move forward, on our own, as a group of volunteers.” State Farm agent Angie Lewis was in on the ground floor, when the idea was to keep it small. “It grew up into this huge thing,” Lewis recalls. “Laurie is amazing. The thing I love about her, it’s not just about having ideas, she makes them come to fruition. She wants the crowd to have an amazing time, and she pulls it off so it looks simple, but there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff.” Zink’s passion for the arts, it seems, has spilled over onto her daughter, Brittany Visser, who is 29 and lives in Los Angeles. “She was extremely active in Ocala Civic Theatre and has performed at Opera Orlando,” Zink proclaims with motherly pride. “Brittany went to Syracuse University and kept up with her acting and that’s what she’s doing in L.A., and it all started at Ocala Civic Theatre. All that is partly my influence because of my involvement in the arts.” Zink’s son, Dylan Menard, is a graduate of Forest

Clockwise from above: Zink with Joey Pantoliano at the Silver Springs International Film Festival; Laurie Zink is shown with one of the equine statues from Horse Fever II.; Zink with her children Dylan Menard and Brittany Visser.


Photos far left, opposite page, courtesy of Laurie Zink; Right, opposite page and this page, courtesy of Ocala Star-Banner.

The Silver Springs International Film Festival was one of many community efforts for Laurie Zink

High School and has had EMT training. “He’s in that place that 20-year-old boys are when they’re trying to figure out what to do,” she explains. “He’s thinking of pursuing nursing.” Zink also worked for many years at The Centers, a behavioral health facility, which gave her yet another opportunity to be involved in the arts. Through a collaboration of The Centers and the Mental Wellness Coalition, the “Healing Heart” art project partnered professional artists with a variety of social services. Also for the benefit of The Centers, several fundraisers, including One Night Off Broadway and a series of musical dinner shows, combined with government funding, added a building for the Children’s Crisis Stabilization Unit and 50 additional beds for the adult residential substance abuse program. Ocala attorney Stephen Spivey notes how difficult it is to keep up with Zink, having collaborated on many of the same projects. “What you see with Laurie is pretty much what you get,” Spivey offers. “She’s just a genuinely good person—by that I mean, she thinks of others before she thinks of herself. She is an unending ball of energy. It can be exhausting being around her, and I say that in the most loving way.” Zink’s pioneering spirit didn’t suddenly bubble up when she moved to Ocala. It started while she was studying speech communications at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. “In college, I was very, very active volunteering for

a lot of things, so this illness I have started there,” she quips. “I was involved in music and started a little group that helped underprivileged kids by bringing music to their lives. A big group of us worked very hard for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. We started a summer camp from nothing, raised all the money and had a camp that was just for the kids. That camp is still in existence today in Virginia. It pretty much sealed the deal for me to continue on those paths when I could.” Zink moved here in 1997 from Hillsborough, North Carolina. The owner of a thoroughbred horse business at the time, she says she was drawn to Ocala because of its title of “Horse Capital of the World.” She worked for a couple of years for the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association. It was during trips to Lexington, Kentucky, that she encountered a similar project that inspired her to adapt the concept and help bring Horse Fever to our community. But, Zink’s interest in horses strays in yet another direction, at times. “When I first came to Ocala, I ended up being chairman for two terms for the Marion Therapeutic Riding Association,” Zink says with a touch of nostalgia. “It was during that time we were able to build the greenway facility. As I wind down with these other things, that is where I want to go back to. I want to become a certified instructor. At this point, I don’t have that kind of time, but at some time in my life that would be on my bucket list. See how weird I am? My bucket list is to still be volunteering.” May ‘ 2 0

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Riding High

Gold medalist para-equestrian Lauren Barwick, whose Bridging the Gap Farm is based in Reddick, is aiming for the 2020 Summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Her inspiring journey has been one of overcoming unforeseen challenges, one stride at a time. By JoAnn Guidry | Photography by Dave Miller Hair by Carissa Pearson | Makeup by Amber Odle, both with Face The Day Spa & Salon

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auren Barwick always expected to go through life on horseback. And she has, just not exactly the way she envisioned. Growing up in Vancouver, Canada, Barwick progressed from a childhood pony who loved to bolt at a full gallop back to the barn to three-day eventing, fox hunting, show jumping and training young horses. “I loved all things horses and especially enjoyed working with challenging horses,” says Barwick, who pronounces her first name as la-REN. “But I also loved

cooking and acting. I graduated high school with a level one chef ’s apprentice and then spent several years working in kitchens while still riding. Then I finally decided on a career with horses and acting.” Off she went to a movie studio ranch to work with stunt horses and hone her acting skills. During a sixmonth internship program, Barwick logged time as a movie extra. One of particular note was portraying a ranch woman, riding in a scene, in The Pledge, which starred Jack Nicholson. When the internship program


Barwick with husband Fabian Brandt and their daughter Viola

ended, she was hired full time. Two weeks later, on June 17th, 2000, Barwick’s life was forever changed. “I was feeding horses in the barn when a 100-pound hay bale fell 10 feet from the hay loft and landed on me,” recounts Barwick, 42, with the matter-of-fact distance 20 years of perspective allows one. “It broke my back and severed my spinal cord. At 22, I was left paralyzed from the belly button down. My life was different from that moment on.” But Barwick would soon learn that with even with devastating change also comes new opportunities. And what she did with those would reshape her life. “Of course, I was very angry that riding was over for me,” admits Barwick. “When I thought of riding, all I saw was me being led around in a circle. And that was not for me.” But even without riding, Barwick wanted to be as active as possible. She tried different sports, clicking with sailing, and even raced sailboats. Barwick gave back, volunteering to take disabled children out on the water. “All of this was a big part of my recovery, learning I could still be active and help others as a paraplegic,” Barwick offers. “But I found myself missing being around horses. So, I started teaching riding students from my wheelchair. Then, one day in the arena, I just started crying uncontrollably.” When Barwick tried to wheel away out of the riding arena, two people picked her up and put her on a horse. “It was my worst nightmare come true. There I was slouched over the saddle with absolutely no sensation of sitting on a horse and being led around the ring,” she recalls. “That night, I knew I had a decision to make—

either get over my pride and self-pity or stop being around horses altogether. The next morning, I went back to the barn and asked to be put back on a horse.” Learning to ride all over again as a paraplegic was arduous for Barwick. “Riding is all about balance, being in touch with the horse through your seat and legs. Now I had no feelings in my sit bones or my legs. But I could still communicate with the horse with my hands through the reins,” explains Barwick. “I started back riding on a Western saddle, basically secured to it by horse leg wraps to keep me from tipping out of the saddle. Then it was a very slow transition back to an English saddle. Eventually, I got a customized English saddle with knee rolls and a handlebar to keep me from tipping forward so I could maintain a seat. I started using voice commands and riding with two crops to cue the horse.” As her riding progressed, Barwick was contacted by the Canadian paralympic team and joined it. In 2003, only three years after the accident, Barwick found herself flying with Team Canada to Portugal for the World Equestrian Games and competing in dressage. In 2004, she competed with Team Canada at the Summer Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece. “Despite those amazing experiences, I still felt like something was missing. Other people were training the horses I rode and I just felt like a passenger,” she reveals. “I wasn’t happy and something needed to change for me to go on.” Barwick got just what she needed in 2005 when a friend put her in contact with natural horsemanship trainer Pat Parelli. Along with his wife Linda, they maintain horse training centers in Colorado and Ocala. May ‘ 2 0

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Barwick and daughter Viola

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“I spent two weeks in Colorado, being introduced to the natural horsemanship program. I herded cattle and rode in the mountains,” Barwick recalls. “I was re-energized and could see a way forward. The natural horsemanship program showed me how I could train my own horses from my wheelchair. I moved to Ocala, managed the Parelli barn for six years and became a 4-Star Senior Parelli Instructor.” With the Parellis as her sponsors for the next seven years, Barwick also continued to compete on the international stage. In 2008, her talent and persistence paid off with a gold medal in freestyle para-dressage and a silver medal in individual para-dressage at the Summer Paralympic Games in Beijing. Barwick’s mount for the medal-winning performances was Maile, a Dutch Warmblood mare owned by the Parellis. “It was truly such a special moment,” Barwick offers. “It was the moment that I had been riding to since becoming a paraplegic.” Among the other significant moments she experienced are the 2014 World Equestrian Games/Normandy, France (silver and bronze medals); 2015 World ParaReining Champion and induction into the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame; and her 2017 Team Canada Gold/World Para-Reining International Championships/ The Netherlands. Outside of the competition ring, Barwick moved on

with other aspects of her life. In 2013, she established her Reddick-based Bridging the Gap Farm and teaches natural horsemanship clinics there as well as on the road. In 2015, Barwick married Fabian Brandt, and they are parents to 2-year-old daughter Viola. Barwick and Brandt also serve as trainers for the Horse Protection Association of Florida, which is based in northwest Marion County. They use the natural horsemanship method to retrain rescued horses and make them more adoptable. “Getting married and having Viola have had a major impact on my life,” says Barwick, who still loves to cook. “There have been lots of obstacles and challenges, but I’m also very grateful for my life.” Barwick, who still competes with Team Canada, is working toward qualifying for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, now rescheduled to August 2021. “There are four international and six national shows that are qualifying events,” notes Barwick. “It’s a very rigorous schedule; you need good horses and lots of luck too.” With Tokyo on her mind, Barwick is also reflecting on upcoming life changes. “I’d like to transition to retiring from competition and stay home more with my family. I do want to continue teaching, particularly teaching people to have fun with their horses,” she asserts. “And when I do retire, I want it to be on the best riding day of my life.”

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Sponsored

Byerly with her horse Zachary. Photo by Dana Rasmussen

Holding the Reins Busy Shires Byerly Brings Conservation Expertise to Horse Farms Forever By Sherri Cruz

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usy Shires Byerly grew up on a horse farm with rolling hills and moss-laden oak trees near Alachua, where riding her pony through the fields with her mom is one of her happiest childhood memories. As she was growing up, she watched as the scenic countryside was broken into smaller tracts of land and developed. This inspired her to begin a career in land conservation. After 14 years of land preservation work with Conservation Florida, a statewide nonprofit land trust, she founded the Horse Country Protection Program in 2017. The mission of the program was to advocate for policies that would help preserve horse farms and rural agricultural land in Marion County. During that time, she organized numerous educational workshops and capped the effort with a series of forums with 40 community leaders to discuss the need to protect the rural economy and natural

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resources from the unintended consequences of unplanned growth. “Urban sprawl has paved over many of Marion County’s historic horse farms,” notes Byerly. “If we don’t create new growth management policies, they will all be gone 50 years from now.” In 2018, the horse community was facing an immediate threat—the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) had proposed the Coastal Connector toll road. “The toll road was going to plow through some of the most iconic horse farms in Marion County, including through the middle of the Farmland Preservation Area (FPA),” she recalls. “That was Marion County’s wake-up call.” After the 2018 announcement from the FDOT about the proposed route of the toll road, a group of like-minded advocates joined together and formed Horse Farms Forever to raise awareness and education


Photo courtesy of Horse Farms Forever

about the importance of horse farms and the FPA. The organization’s original purpose was to stop the route of the toll road through the heart of the horse farms and the FPA. With the strong support of landowners, local businesses, and the Marion County Commission, they accomplished that goal. Horse Farms Forever has now taken the leadership role in raising awareness about the important role that horses and horse farms play in the Ocala/Marion County community. The organization is actively monitoring road and development threats to the FPA in coordination with all the community stakeholders. In January 2020, Horse Farms Forever and the Horse Country Protection Program joined forces to protect the best of Marion County’s farmland for future generations. “It was a perfect match. Busy is great at creating relationships and bringing people together,” offers Bernie Little, one of the founders of Horse Farms Forever. “She is tenacious and passionate.” There are many conservation tools that can be used to save farms. Preserving horse farms is primarily about preventing land from being subdivided, which is accomplished with conservation easements. If landowners choose to protect their land with a conservation easement, some landowners qualify for powerful financial incentives such as cash payments for their development rights or income tax incentives. But it also requires proactive growth management policies at the county level. Lexington-Fayette County, Kentucky has a successful agricultural land program that has protected over 277 farms totaling nearly 30,395 acres. In 2000, LexingtonFayette County adopted a Rural Land Management Plan, which serves as the guiding document for its rural area. Under Byerly’s direction, Horse Farms Forever is working with community leaders and landowners to establish a Rural Land Management Plan to help protect the nearly 1,200 horse farms in Marion County. In addition to protecting the land for farms, these new policies hope to protect the horse industry, which contributes over $2.6 billion to the county’s economy and employs more than 20,000 people. “There is nothing like Marion County in the whole state of Florida,” Byerly adds. “Without horse farms, there are no horses, and Ocala would look like any other city. Horse Farms Forever is dedicated to preserving the horse farms, our irreplaceable soils, and especially the FPA to ensure that what makes our community unique is protected.” This effort will require sustained leadership, and Horse Farms Forever has emerged as a strong and natural leader to hold the reins.

Conservation Summit Date: To Be Determined

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his fall, Horse Farms Forever will hold a Conservation Summit for community leaders in partnership with the American Farmland Trust (AFT). Billy Van Pelt, II, AFT Senior Director of External Relations, will be the keynote speaker. He will present the “State of the States” report about the loss of prime agricultural lands, not only in Florida, but also across the southeast. This summit will also be a call to action for community leaders. The goal is to move forward with developing new growth management policies in Marion County to protect the horse farms, agricultural lands and unique natural springs that are fundamental to the allure and brand of Marion County. A focus group will be held after the summit to discuss how other communities have developed long-range plans that balance economic development with protecting agricultural lands and quality of life.

To learn more and get involved, visit www.horsefarmsforever.com May ‘ 2 0

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A New Breed Trailblazers in the cattle industry, the Lettelier sisters have been facing off against all comers since childhood and are now challenging top-level competitors. By Susan Smiley-Height Photography by Alan Youngblood

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hen they were about kindergarten age, sisters Lauren and Emily Lettelier were often found toddling along in the dust of their daddy’s boots as he tended to his prized herd of cattle. Now, they command center stage in arenas such as the prestigious Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, piling up awards and honors for their own Brangus and Ultrablack cattle. The Lettelier sisters are rising stars in the beef cattle industry, in which they are continuing to gain respect for their showmanship skills, marketing approaches and contributions to bettering the genetics of cattle herds worldwide. The Early Years

Joe and Beverly Lettelier are from Pompano Beach, in South Florida. It was there they began to raise a family while he was a general contractor and raised cattle on the side. “He always had cattle; we just loved cattle; my grandfather had dairy cattle,” Beverly notes. “We used to lease land and would have to drive to see our cattle and he hated to do that. He always said you have to keep an eye on your cattle to make sure everything is OK.” Emily says her dad decided to “retire” into farming and moved the family to Mississippi, where “he ran some cows.” But it wasn’t long before Beverly began to miss her 62

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beloved Sunshine State. “Dad was fine in Mississippi, but Mississippi is not where my mom wanted to live,” Emily says. “She was a Pompano Beach girl through and through (Lauren speaks up in the background, “Florida girl through and through!”). The Ocala area was the only place they could settle on and so they purchased 160 acres. It was all cotton. He cleared out the cotton and left most of the trees. He did all the fencing and planting. Mom wouldn’t take it back for the world. She loves it.” At the time, Lauren was 5 and Emily was 4. The sisters attended St. John Lutheran School and then Trinity Catholic High School. Lauren earned a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications/news broadcasting from the University of Florida and Emily got her AA degree in nursing from Santa Fe College. “I remember going way back, bottle raising babies and riding horses bareback,” Emily shares. “I don’t remember a boring day. We loved it.” Both girls participated in 4-H, with Lauren beginning to show animals at age 8 and Emily at about 6 or 7 years old. “We did the Southeastern Youth Fair (the oldest and largest such fair in the nation, now in its 80th year) up through our senior year in high school. We did steers, beef heifers, lambs, chickens… Home Ec, which was one of our favorite things,” Emily recalls. “I remember one year I won Best in Show for my kumquat jam. And


Photo courtesy of Lettelier family

I still think, out of everything, that’s the thing my mom was most excited about.” In their teen years, when many young ladies would be thinking of boys, the Lettelier sisters say they only thought of them as who to beat in the show ring. “We were so competitive and so in the zone that we weren’t really thinking about chasing boys when we were at the cow shows,” Lauren offers. “We wanted to win, and we did very well that way. Emily and I are very competitive, even against each other. It’s really been a great thing in life to learn how to be a good loser and how to be an even better winner, being gracious to everyone… even when you’ve won.” Those early days of traveling the cow show circuit brought the petite twosome into close competition with full grown men. “There are probably more young ladies in the show and travel world than one would think,” Emily offers. “We’d be 8 years old showing with grown men, so that taught us we can do anything a man or boy can do. But this still isn’t really a woman’s industry, the cattle industry or farming in general, so you have to be able to work alongside and work with men and be able to handle that.” “Yeah,” Lauren asserts, “I don’t want to just be in the Cattlewomen’s Association, I want to be in the Cattlemen’s Association too.” “My hat is off to these young ladies. I am very proud of them,” offers Jo Ann Smith, of Wacahoota, which straddles the Marion/Alachua county line. Smith was, notably, named president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in 1985. Smith also served as president of the Florida Cattlewomen’s Association from 1970 to 1972, was named Woman of the Year in Agriculture in 1985 by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and was founding chair of the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board. In 1989, President George H. W. Bush appointed her Assistant Secretary

of Marketing and Inspection of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1982 and 1988, she was named “Man of the Year in American Agriculture” by Progressive Farmer Magazine. In 2015, she was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and the International Meat Association. “The Lettelier sisters were very active in 4-H,” Smith recalls. “I watched them show animals. I give a lot of credit to 4-H, as participants learn at an early age how to groom, feed and produce animals that will show well. I attribute that to what they are doing today. Their hard work and education has enhanced their ability to create a productive business. It is wonderful to see women doing so well in beef production, especially such young ladies.”

Competitive Spirit

“Emily is most certainly a female force in our world. There are very few cattlewomen in our industry who are so accomplished at such a young age. She’s 27,” Lauren, 28, offers. “Under Emily’s leadership, Lettelier Brangus won the title of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association (FCA) Premier Brangus Female, Premier Brangus Bull, Premier Brangus Exhibitor and Premier Brangus Breeder for the 2018-2019 show year. These are the four highest honors given by the FCA, and are tabulated from the results of six shows across the state of Florida.” In March, the sisters competed in the 2020 International Brangus Bull Show during the massive annual show and rodeo event in Houston and won first place in a class with a Black Spade bull and second in a class with a Grader bull. “The third-place bull in that class was the Fort Worth Grand Champion bull,” notes Lauren, which was “very exciting for us Florida folk.” “For two women from Florida to go to Texas and hang with the big guns out there is really a testament,” she adds. “It’s like the Super Bowl for us.” And, in another connection to the revered show in May ‘ 2 0

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Texas, Lettelier Brangus owns full possession and half semen interest in MC Low Rider, the two-time Grand Champion Ultrablack Brangus Bull of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Brangus cattle are three-eighths Brahma and fiveeighths Angus. The Ultrablack MC Low Rider is 50 percent Brangus and 50 percent Angus. Emily, who manages the daily operation of the family’s 160-acre farm in Citra, in northeast Marion County, says they are currently running about 150 head of registered Brangus cattle and raise 15 to 20 2-yearold bulls every year for a sale in Lakeland. “We are a feed stock producer, meaning we are raising heifers and bulls for people to better genetic their beef herds and put food on tables,” she explains. Lauren, who works full time as director of public relations and communications for the North Florida Regional Medical Center in Gainesville, and helps on the farm as time allows, says all of the work done by her, Emily and their parents, Joe and Beverly, is “trying to make a product for our customers, but it’s also about showing the work that goes into these animals. This is what our industry is about.” Both sisters say the farm life is “24/7, 365,” meaning long hours, with precious few days off. 64

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“Some days you might go 7am to 5pm and then some days you’re up till midnight watching cows or calves. There is no set schedule,” Lauren notes, her voice rising in pitch when she adds, “and there are no vacations!” The cattle herd ranges on specially planted Tifton grasses and is fed supplemental grain and hay as needed. The sisters say that the day-to-day work of running the farm has not been impacted by the coronavirus. The pandemic has, however, impacted the industry as a whole. “The market has fluctuated a bit,” Emily explains. “Cattle market prices have gone down. Even though beef is high in the store, the cattleman is not getting payback for their product. So, we just hope that the higher beef demand will eventually reflect on us and increase on the hoof demand.” An important angle at Lettelier Brangus is their involvement in artificial insemination (AI) and Emily and Joe both are certified AI technicians. Emily says that is important to the Brangus breed because it’s making it easier for the short-haired, heat-tolerant cattle to grow more hair, through the Angus genetics, and be able to withstand cooler temperatures up north. “So now we are able to market Brangus to northern


states and it also produces meat tenderness and meat quality as well,” she explains. “With AI, you are able to get some of the best genetics from around the world and implement it into your cattle herd.” Emily says the first set of MC Low Rider’s calves born at their farm will soon be weaned and halter broken by Beverly, and then she and her sister can begin exhibiting them on the show circuit in hopes of earning even more awards and honors as they promote their industry. Giving Back

Both Emily and Lauren say an important part of their life is being able to share the things they have learned with others, particularly youth. They hold a summer showmanship clinic at the farm each year, during which they teach students 4-H showmanship techniques and help them develop feeding schedules they can apply to their projects with steers, heifers and bulls. “We had our vet come out and talk to them about vaccinations and deworming,” Emily notes. “There is a lot that goes into each one of these kids’ projects. We also try to get at least two juniors in the Brangus Association each year, and some of the kids travel to

shows with us and exhibit the Brangus cattle and teach the public about the beef industry and the daily work that goes into it.” Prior to taking the position at the hospital in Gainesville, Lauren was the public information officer for the Marion County Sheriff ’s Office. “I think getting youth involved in agriculture is one of the best things you can do,” she says. “When I was working at the Sheriff ’s Office, there were so many kids going through the system that I looked at and thought, ‘If they had had a different influence, or if they had had some responsibility they were upheld to, they would be in a completely different place in their life,’” she recalls. “And I just really thank our parents for giving us that tremendous gift. I don’t think you can realize that until you grow up.” Fellow cattlewoman Laura Lee Taylor served on the International Junior Brangus Breeders Association board of directors from 1996 to 2000 and as president for 1998-1999. She says her family has been raising Brangus cattle since 1993 and was one of the first families to start showing Ultrablack cattle in 2017 in Florida. “I came to know Lauren and Emily during the mid-‘90s, when they started showing Brangus cattle. Their parents have raised Brangus cattle for more than May ‘ 2 0

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40 years in Florida and have one of the premier Brangus operations in the Sunshine State,” Taylor declares. “The Letteliers and our family have diligently worked with several shows since 2017 to allow for Ultrablack cattle to show as a division of the International Brangus Show.” Taylor says that during the 2017 Florida State Fair, her daughter Carlee, age 7 at the time, had a stall next to Emily. “Carlee loved the opportunity to learn from Emily that week and she has been thankful for her friendship with Emily and Lauren ever since,” Taylor recalls. “Lauren and Emily have a passion to help kids learn about the importance of showing and raising cattle and livestock. They created a clinic called ‘Champion Drive Cattle Camp’ that my children, Carlee, now 11, and Truman, 8, took part in. They also helped my daughter’s team compete at the National Junior Brangus Show Salesmanship Contest, where the Florida Junior Team was named Reserve Champion for 2018 and 2019. My daughter competed at the 2019 National Junior Brangus Show in Texarkana and was named the High Point Junior Exhibitor for her placings in more than 10 contests. This award would have not been a reality without the mentorship and support of Emily and Lauren. We are thankful they have a passion to help youth.”

Beverly notes that the affinity for cooking also comes naturally to her daughters. She says she always regretted not pursuing a career as a baker. So when Emily and Lauren went off to college, she embraced her passion. “I always wanted to be a professional baker,” she admits. “So, I took some classes and learned to decorate cakes. I make these outlandish cakes and no one can eat them all. It’s something I can do with my hands. It is intricate, artistic work. Both girls are that way. They are creative. They enjoy doing something nobody else does.”

They can talk to people who have been in this business their whole life and they can educate those people. For two young ladies to be successful beef producers, that’s a huge deal.

Sweet Determination

Beverly Lettelier says she and her husband made sure both of their daughters were involved in lots of activities because “we feel like busy kids don’t get in trouble.” She says all of the family members are competitive and that once the girls got going, “they had to have every animal and had to enter every contest.” “I’m afraid I forced them many times to do things they didn’t want to,” she notes with a chuckle, “but they say they loved it. I feel like kids should learn everything when they are little because they are like sponges and you can just throw everything at them. The girls stuck with the cattle and they both love to cook.”

No Restrictions

Beverly says her daughters have become adept at navigating their way around the beef industry, “in this - Beverly Lettelier world really run by men,” in part because they were raised to believe they could accomplish anything that males could. “We always told them they could do anything they wanted to do and I think that’s especially important for young women,” Beverly explains. “They were raised driving tractors, and once you pull an animal behind you that weighs a ton, you can do anything. They always had that great confidence about them. “From years and years ago, men have been prominent in agriculture. But the girls have taken strong steps to be able to promote the business and have taken a fresh approach to the whole business—to sell and market cattle,” Beverly continues. “They can talk to people who have been in this business their whole life and they can educate those people. For two young ladies to be successful beef producers, that’s a huge deal.” “I was always made fun of because I was this dorky kid that showed cattle,” Lauren admits. “But I loved to show cattle,” she adds, her tone growing stronger with every word. “I think, especially for kids, if you have some passion, love to do something, keep doing it. Now, I have never been in a better position in life. My choice to get involved in agriculture made me who I am and I’m really proud of that.” For more information, visit www.lettelierbrangus.weebly.com

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Sponsored

A Red Carpet Welcome at Paddock Ridge At this very special senior living community, making sure residents feel at home is their priority from day one. By Lisa McGinnes Photography by John Jernigan, Bruce Ackerman & Meagan Gumpert

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oving to a new home is a transition. At Paddock Ridge, they know that transitioning from your own home to a senior living community is a big, life-changing decision. They want you to know that the move to assisted living or memory care doesn’t have to be the end of your independence—it can be the beginning of an enjoyable, carefree lifestyle with the personal assistance you need to make it a joyful celebration of a well-lived life.

First Impressions

On your first visit to Paddock Ridge, you’ll notice bright, airy open spaces with plenty of natural light; cozy living rooms with plush sofas and fireplaces; and beautifully landscaped courtyards offering natural green spaces to 68

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enjoy the fresh air and Florida sunshine. You may notice the curated artwork, thoughtfully selected to inspire and spark imagination. Or the carefully planned gourmet menus with a variety of fresh, nutritious palate-pleasing selections. It may be the many thoughtful touches that catch your attention, like hydration stations in each neighborhood offering chilled, fruit-infused water. But you’ll also notice something else—the warm, caring, atmosphere that envelops you like a soft blanket. It’s a feeling of being nurtured, and it emanates from the genuine smiles on the faces of the care staff. That’s how you know you’ve found your new home. “We’re here to give you peace of mind,” says Operations Coordinator Cody Mansfield, “to address your concerns, and give you assurances that we care


about your family. It’s a reflection on us and our commitment to the community.” He explains that the local owners, his family and the Ryan family, created Paddock Ridge after seeing other senior residences and deciding “none of them were good enough” for their own family members.

A Grand Welcome

At Paddock Ridge, your move-in day is all about you. The care team will be waiting for you with welcome balloons and a card signed by each team member. You’ll personally meet each of the directors who are always available to answer your questions, and you’ll be introduced to the other residents in your neighborhood when you share a meal together. You’ll also be presented with a plush, cozy, embroidered blanket as a “welcome home” gift. “When you come into your room it’s all set up, so you don’t have to worry about a thing. You just get to enjoy your space,” explains Brittney Graham, Paddock Ridge’s director of sales. The staff recommends to new residents that before they downsize, they consider bringing more than just family photos and mementos to make them feel connected to loved ones, but also consider bringing their framed art to decorate their walls and a few key pieces of furniture that made them feel comfortable in their own home.

From left, Ruth Korteum, Frances Cangelosi, Don McKinney

Transition to Memory Care

The decision to move to memory care is difficult for those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s and for their families. Familiarity is key and Paddock Ridge’s care team recommends that families set up their loved one’s room to be as similar as possible to their previous home. Their experts offer each family thoughtful recommendations for downsizing while keeping items that bring the resident comfort. Mansfield shares the story of one memory care resident who finds joy every day in the precious remembrances of loved ones she’s collected. “Her room is so homey,” he remarks. “It was so touching to go in there and see she’s fit a lifetime of memories into a china cabinet. She goes through old pictures and tells you all her grandchildren’s names and all her family’s names. She just ran with it and made it home.” Discover a variety of studio and one-bedroom apartment floor plans, and see for yourself how they roll out the red carpet on your personal tour of this one-of-a-kind community. The caring staff is ready to welcome you home to Paddock Ridge. Paddock Ridge › 4001 SW 33rd Court, Ocala FL 34474 › (352) 512-9191 › www.paddockridge.com

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Year of the Nurse As the global pandemic tests our health care system, the heroes who devote their lives to caring for the sick are leading the way for our community to come together as one. Every year, nurses are celebrated during Nurses Week, beginning on May 6th and ending on May 12th, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Now the American Nurses Association has declared 2020 the Year of the Nurse. By Lisa McGinnes

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ast May, Ocala nurse Drumeka Rollerson posted a portrait of herself on Facebook—a beautiful outdoor pose of her in scrubs, with a vibrant smile. It was a post to wish other nurses “Happy Nurses Week,” with hashtags like #dopenurse, #differencemaker and #nurseboss, and an inspirational quote by Rawsi Williams: “To do what nobody else will do, that nobody else can do, in spite of all we go through; that is to be a nurse.” It was an uplifting post that was liked and shared well over 100 times, and it drew smiles and comments from friends and fellow nurses. She had no way of knowing exactly what “doing what nobody else will do” would mean just 11 months later. Rollerson answered the call in March when nurses were needed to help with COVID-19 testing, and she

went to work at the drive-up testing site at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center, which opened March 25th. Every morning, cars were lined up when they opened at 9am. Rollerson and the other nurses, outfitted in protective gowns, masks and face shields, were ready—with smiles on—to swab-test 250 scared citizens a day. That’s what a dope nurse boss does. A graduate of the College of Central Florida’s bachelor’s of nursing program, - Lyn Brinson Rollerson now serves on their Nursing Programs Advisory Committee. She’s a critical care nurse and has 15 years of experience in the field. But no amount of experience could have fully prepared any health professional for the current pandemic. “Working on the front line with COVID-19 has

The community can also show continued honor and support by sending supportive notes, prayers and videos.

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Opposite page: photo courtesy of Ocala Health. This page: photo courtesy of Drumeka Rollerson

outweighed every type of illness I’ve ever come across in my 15 years of nursing,” this wife and mother reveals. “I can see the fear in their eyes.” When asked on April 9th what the community can do to honor these healthcare heroes for Nurses Week, her answer is simple. “Stay at home,” she urges, but adds that someone looking for a way to help could “be a blessing” by sending a care package of snacks or cleaning products to the front-line health care workers. “By the time we get off work, the shelves are bare,” she explains. “Keep us in your prayers. Our community needs us.” There’s no doubt our health care system is being tested right now, and providers are giving their all to save the sick. And it’s in dark days that their caring spirit shines brightest. “Passionate people who care without reservation or limits” is how Ocala Health describes its nurses as well as all its other employees—“courageous people who show up ready to face new challenges daily. People who protect vigilantly, give selflessly and support one Drumeka Rollerson, BSN, RN another tirelessly. People who bring calm to chaos. What we’re made of is incredible people.” Groups such as the Black Nurses Rock Ocala Chapter and the Marion County Nurses Association were founded to provide support, mentorship and education for nurses. Support from their peers and from the community is appreciated now more than ever, when nurses are, as the United Nations recently called them, the “backbone to health services worldwide.” “During these trying times the community may not be able to celebrate nurses as usual,” acknowledges Lyn Brinson, president of the Black Nurses Rock Ocala Chapter. She, like Rollerson—also a member of the nonprofit organization—says nurses are grateful for the community’s appreciation of their dedication to caring for the sick. “Our community can continue to support and honor nurses during Nurses Week with essentials like hand sanitizer, wipes and masks,” she shares. “The community can also show continued honor and support by sending supportive notes, prayers and videos.” If you would like to share your own message of support for our local nurses and health care heroes, please visit our post on Facebook or Instagram.

Great 100 Nurses of Marion County A special Nurses Week celebration was being planned for this year by the Marion County Nurses Association. As the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, 2020 was declared Year of the Nurse and Midwife by the World Health Organization. With pandemic restrictions in place, the association will instead combine this celebration with their Great 100 Nurses of Marion County event in November, coinciding with National Nurse Practitioner Week, November 8th -14th. Local organizers say the event will happen as planned, even if it has to be virtual. Nominations for the Great 100 Nurses of Marion County will be accepted beginning May 6th. Visit www.marionnurses.nursingnetwork.com or follow Marion County Nurses Association on Facebook for more information.

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From left, Timothy Quick, Ronald Oliver, Deanna McDaniel, Emma Baird, Christasia King

Paying It Forward

Marion County’s future nurses receive scholarships to help them pursue a career in our community. By Alyssa Ramos

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mma Baird has roots in Ocala. She was born and raised here. Now that she’s moving toward adulthood, she’s ready to give back to the community. Baird, now in her second year at the College of Central Florida, is one of six students who qualified to receive the Angelica G. Muns Nursing Scholarship. Other recipients include: Timothy Quick, Ronald Oliver, Deanna McDaniel, Lovely Elein and Christasia King. Baird is the first in her immediate family to pursue nursing. She credits her parents who, she says, have

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exemplified service for others. She expects to graduate in December and, like all scholarship recipients, will be required to work at least one year at a Marion County hospital. The Muns scholarhip, administered by the Community Foundation for Ocala/Marion County, was born out of a local nurse’s drive to support those wanting to pursue a career in the field of nursing. A U.S. Air Force Lt. Colonel and registered nurse who served during World War II, Muns and her husband felt compelled by their love of service and the


excellent healthcare they received in Marion County to create a nursing scholarship. They wanted to provide opportunities for students planning to stay in Marion County and working at a Marion County acute healthcare facility to attend school to earn an RN or BSN degree. Each applicant must also be enrolled in a nursing program in Marion County and maintain a 3.0 GPA. A total of $2,000 is awarded to scholarship recipients in August and January of each year. Baird, who has now applied and received the scholarship twice, plans to work for a year and a half at a local hospital. She said she’s eager to give back to the community that shaped her. “Something as simple as helping someone brush their teeth or helping them get a bath— it really makes a big difference, especially if they’re not able to do it on their own,” Baird offers. “Those small things that you don’t think have a big impact really do. ”

Ronald Oliver, who also received the award, understands the importance of his career. Oliver, who was born in South Africa, moved to the United States, where, he says, he jumped from job to job. He’s done everything from working as a prison guard to delivering pizza. But his caring personality, a trait his friends recognized, prevailed and nursing became a natural outlet for his talents. “I want to be a nurse to give myself to complete – Ronald Oliver strangers, being kind and compassionate during what may be the most difficult times of their lives,” Oliver explains. As a husband and father of two children, the Muns scholarship has been a blessing for him in a very meaningful way beyond professional advancement and a more financially rewarding career path. “My children see me studying all the time,” he shares. “I believe this is instilling a love of learning in them and showing them that hard work will pay off.”

My children see me studying all the time, I believe this is instilling a love of learning in them and showing them that hard work will pay off.

For more information, visit www.ocalafoundation.org

It takes a team! Celebrate 2020 National Nurses Week May 6-12 is their special week. At Hospice of Marion County, every week and every day is special to our team of dedicated nurses. Reach out to a nurse you know and show them your appreciation. Hospice of Marion County - taking care of our residents since 1983 www.hospiceofmarion.com | (352) 873-7400 | Your not-for-profit hospice May ‘ 2 0

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CANCER

INNOVATORS By Nick Steele

You may think that breakthroughs in cancer research only happen on a national level or that you have to travel outside our area to receive cutting edge treatment, but there are some top physicians, here in our community, who are playing a vital role in bringing innovations in cancer care to the patients who need them right here in Marion County.

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C

ancer is currently the second leading cause of death in the U.S., exceeded only by heart disease, but death rates have been steadily declining. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), U.S. cancer death rates have declined by 29 percent from 1991 to 2017, which includes a 2.2 percent drop from 2016 to 2017—the largest single-year drop ever recorded and reported through ACS statistics. A decline in lung cancer deaths was the biggest driver for the record drop, though lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths. In 2020, an estimated 1.9 million new cancer cases are projected to be diagnosed in the United States, the equivalent of some 5,190 new cases each day and approximately 630,000 Americans are predicted to die of cancer—which is a staggering 1,720 deaths per day. During the last decade, significant advances in research, education, early detection methods and treatment have boosted cancer survival rates while new therapies continue to be developed. Though options for treatment were once somewhat standard, no matter the type of cancer a patient had, there are currently an ever-expanding variety of treatment options available, depending on the type of cancer you have and how advanced it is. According to ACS, there are more than 100 different chemotherapy drugs alone. But chemotherapy is no longer the preferred treatment of physicians nor is it being used in the same ways it once was. Many specialists, right here in our area, are employing more modern treatment options that have led to higher survival rates, are employing state-of-the-art equipment to benefit patients and exploring new radiation approaches that are producing remarkable results and successful immunotherapy protocols. These providers also are hosting clinical trials on a local level that are producing notable results. “We’re doing a lot of cool stuff,” offers Dr. Vipul Patel of Florida Cancer Specialists (FCS). “Traditionally, cancer care was just generic chemotherapy and generic radiation. What I mean by that is that if you had lung cancer or breast cancer, whatever cancer you had, you would be treated with chemotherapy with the hope that it worked. And we knew that some chemo worked better on some types of cancer, so there was some methodology to it,” he continues. “It’s important to know that not all medicines and drugs to treat cancer work the same way.” Patel is a dynamic member of the FCS team in Ocala and I learned firsthand how capable and what a forwardthinking a physician he is when he treated my own father. “In the last five to seven years, we have moved on to something called next generation sequencing and molecular profiling,” he explains of one of the specialized treatments and technologies employed by the practice. “What we do is take the cancer itself, pull the DNA

out of it and look at the genetics of the cancer. The genetics of the cancer are different from the genetics of the human; even though evolved from the person, it has changed. And, based on the genetics, we can pursue treatment that is specific to that patient. If you came to me 10 years ago with lung cancer, you would get the same treatment no matter what. Now we can pick the chemo based on the patient’s particular genetics.” “Another thing that we just started at our office is stereotactic radiosurgery to the brain, so we can target lesions in the brain and essentially use high energy to radiate or fry them out of there,” he offers. “It’s almost as good as surgery, but it’s a much less invasive option. We can also do that in the body with stereotactic body radiosurgery, so if a patient is not a candidate for having a tumor removed from their lung, we can treat them this way. So, there will be no surgery, no downtime and it only takes five treatments.” Patel is also excited about FCS’s work with radiopharmaceuticals. Using a state-of-the-art imaging system, radiopharmaceuticals are injected into the patient and can be used to precisely locate and treat a tumor, and with pinpoint accuracy. Most Dr. Vipul Patel

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Dr. Luis Carrascosa, Dr. Kamath Sachin and Dr. Vipul Patel

radiopharmaceuticals consist of a small amount of radioactive material—called a radionuclide—which is combined with a cell-targeting molecule. Once injected into the bloodstream, the radiopharmaceutical travels to and delivers radiation directly to the disease site, killing cancer cells and relieving pain, while limiting exposure to healthy tissue. “The radiation is attached to target antibodies and they direct the radiation right to the cancer, sort of like a payload,” he enthuses. “We’re also able to do it with chemotherapy. With old school chemotherapy, you inject an IV with chemicals. It goes everywhere and because it is not targeted to the immune system, it goes around and starts killing off the immune system. But now we can attach the chemotherapy molecule to an antibody and deliver it right to the cancer and minimize toxins.” But the “other cool thing” Patel is keen to talk about is immunotherapy. “It has been out for a while, but didn’t really get a real head of steam until about five years ago,” he asserts. “With chemotherapy, we inject you with a chemical that essentially kills the cancer cell via some sort of mechanism, either by ripping apart the DNA or inhibiting the way it replicates. It’s kind of like poison. It comes with toxins, so it makes you sick and nauseous. It has gotten better, but there are still a lot of side effects. What we’re able to do [with immunotherapy] is stimulate the patient’s immune system now and it actually goes after the cancer and kills it in a more natural way in which your body tries to eliminate it,” he continues. “And the side effects are much, much less. In fact, a lot of people don’t even notice anything. The survival rates are also much better. For example, six years ago the average person with stage 4 lung cancer lived a year. Now we have some patients that are cured and living for years. We’re able to do that here and it has really changed things.” Patel has many notable success stories that illustrate the tangible benefits of some of these new therapies. 76

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“I had a patient with lung cancer and it had spread into his liver and his bones,” he recalls. “Before this specific type of immunotherapy, he would have been dead within a year. I did the next gen molecular profiling and determined which chemo was going to work and treated him with a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Now he is four years out and he is cancer free. I had another guy who had melanoma and was actually sent to hospice by Moffitt (Moffitt Cancer Center). He came to me and I gave him immunotherapy with a combination of radiation treatment and he is five years out,” he continues. “And then I had a second man who was also sent to hospice by Moffitt. I treated him with chemo and antibody therapy and then surgery. He is also five years out and cancer free. Occasionally, there is something you can try and it’s a success story,” he adds, cautiously. “But if we look at this in reverse, obviously there are those patients where we tried the same types of things and they died anyway.” My father was a Patel success story, so I can attest to the fact that the efforts of this congenial and intrepid doctor are deeply meaningful and can be life changing. Linda Lord of Silver Springs feels the same about Dr. Rama Balaraman of Florida Cancer Affiliates (FCA), who she affectionately calls “Dr. Rama.” “She’s amazing!” Lord booms about the hematology specialist who saved her life when she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2012. “I was being treated for a constant cough. Then I had a cyst on my head and I went to a dermatologist. Next thing I knew, they were putting me in the hospital,” she continues. “That’s when I found out that I had cancer. They gave me six months. Dr. Rama came in when I was in the hospital and I became her patient. Thank God that I did, because here I am!” “She had metastatic lung cancer, which was stage 4,” Balaraman recalls. “We treated her with conventional chemotherapy. Response rates for that are generally about 25 percent to 30 percent. We had


an immunotherapy study open here at the time. We put her on the study. She was one of the first clients we treated with immunotherapy, and I believe one of the first patients in Florida to participate in the study. She went into remission, but we kept her on the study. With the study, we treat the patient for two years after they go into radiological remission. And we continue to follow the patient after that to see if their cancer comes back or they are in remission. She has been off therapy now for two years and her cancer has not come back. Most people think of that as a cure, but we don’t know yet. There is no evidence on her scans. She’s perfectly normal, at the moment, without any treatment. She was one of the first patients to be on the study, so she’s a landmark patient,” she continues, referencing the clinical trial that the practice was selected to conduct based on their history of conducting such trials. “And she was able to do that here in Ocala in our office. Now that treatment is available without being on the study.” Balaraman explains that they have done a lot of educational programs in the community for primary care doctors to make them aware there are therapies other than chemotherapy available. And she believes this treatment option can change the way patients deal with a cancer diagnosis. “Patients don’t have to take a pessimistic view of a stage 4 disease or be frightened now, because a lot of the patients are being offered these options,” says Balaraman. “Before, when we were treating patients with chemotherapy, we were always asking how long can we keep them alive. Now we are asking can we cure the patient and can we avoid chemotherapy. This is my 20-plus year in practice and both the treatment and the conversation has changed.” Lord, who has been cancer free since October 2018, explains that she was “amazed” by the treatment and agrees with Balaraman in the belief that “attitude has a lot to do with the healing.” “I didn’t dwell on it, even when I was given the diagnosis,” she recalls. “The treatment made sense to me and I knew she was capable of making the right decisions for me. I knew I was in good hands.”

things that differentiates us from a lot of other practices is that we all work very closely together,” he explains. “The nice thing is that when patients come to the centers, the patient can see the medical oncologist and the radiation oncologist all in the same day. Oftentimes, we’ll see the patients together, which is really good for the patient. Imaging has become so critical today, so it is important the radiologist is right there. What that translates to is better communication with the patient and less stress for the patient.” – Dr. Rama Balaraman Kamath stresses that this sort of intentional culture of collaboration is actually a significant innovation itself. “The biggest thing in cancer care is doctors working together to get the best outcomes for our patients. If you look historically at oncology care, it’s been kind of fragmented. We’ve had surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and all the other specialties,” he offers, citing that the patients also had to update their primary care doctors, at each turn, as well. “It was all different practices and the patients have had to basically go from office to office and be the messengers that carry the information around. It’s

Before, when we were treating patients with chemotherapy, we were always asking how long can we keep them alive. Now we are asking can we cure the patient.

Dr. Rama Balaraman

A Collaborative Approach

Dr. Sachin Kamath of FCS believes that the feeling of being in “good hands” is the key to success for the comprehensive care center where he specializes in radiation oncology. “For us at Florida Cancer Specialists, one of the May ‘ 2 0

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Dr. Norman H. Anderson

bad enough, what they’re already going through, but then they also had to make sure that the doctors know what is going on. You can get better outcomes with a comprehensive care approach. If it is easier for them, that leads to better outcomes.”

Challenging The Standard Of Care

Dr. Norman H. Anderson, founder of the Robert Boissoneault Oncology Institute, is a man on a mission—the problem is that his mission disrupts the conventional thinking of much of the academic and medical communities. It sounds simple enough. Anderson contends that twice a day radiation treatment rather than once a day is a superior treatment option for certain types of cancer, specifically metastatic malignant melanomas. It’s an approach that has led to amazing results for many of his patients. “When we talk about twice a day radiation therapy, we are not talking about something I discovered. This was actually developed by Dr. Rod Million, the former Chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Florida, about 45 years ago,” Anderson explains. “Rod’s thought was, ‘Let’s take a treatment that has proven to be effective for head and neck malignancies and make it better.’ His theory was, if we reduced the amount of radiation that was given each time, but gave more treatments, could we safely increase the total amount of radiation given and, as a result, increase the cure rate. Rod proved that when you give the radiation at lower doses, twice a day, and you increase the total dose by as much as 10 percent, you increase the cure rate by 25 percent for head and neck malignancies than what 78

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once a day would have offered.” A challenging case set Anderson on a path that he couldn’t turn back from. “Malignant melanoma is a skin cancer unlike other skin cancers. The first case I ever treated twice daily for metastatic with malignant melanoma, actually the first person in the world treated with this approach, was 25 years ago,” he recalls. “It was a man who had a previous history of having a melanoma removed from his back. The surgeon told him he’d gotten it and he was cured. One year later, he was in the emergency room with severe headaches and unable to stand. They did an MRI. He had 23 separate masses in his brain. The neurosurgeon biopsied two of the lesions and calls me at 2am and says ‘I have a patient you have to see right now.’ I said, I‘d be glad to see him, but you know as well as I do radiation doesn’t work on malignant melanoma. He said, ‘Norm, I don’t care what you do, but we’re not gonna let him die without doing something. He’s 38 and has three children, oldest is 12 and the youngest is 5.’ When I was driving into the hospital I thought, we do have to do something. If I do the same thing we’ve done for decades, he is going to die. So, I thought, we’re going to try twice a day, low-dose radiation on him. All 23 lesions completely disappeared. When he left the Ocala area eight years later, there was no recurrence. Now he’s watching his grandchildren grow up. Since then, we have treated about 50 more patients for metastatic malignant melanoma with twice a day. Are we curing everyone? No, but we’re doing a heck of a lot better than we ever did before.” And although he has recently published his


in Tampa informed him he had probably a five percent work and received several patents related to the likelihood of survival. treatment protocol, he is coming up against hurdles to “I’ve known Norm for 40 years. I’m a pediatrician mainstream acceptance. and I took care of his kids growing up,” Morse explains. “I am faced with this dilemma. No one thinks that a “Norm urged me to do the twice a day, so I did. That private practitioner is going to discover something that was seven years ago. I have not had any recurrence. no one in the academic world has discovered,” Anderson I credit Norm with confides. “If I had been saving my life. I’ve on the staff at any been a physician for academic center and 45 years and not only come up with this, it do I think he is really would be all over the on to something with world now. But they the melanomas, but he look at me and think, is one of the top five ‘You are not qualified to doctors I’ve ever known discover anything. You as far as just the quality should merely duplicate – Dr. Norman H. Anderson of the man.” what we have discovered. If there is one common thread that unites the local You don’t come to us with a discovery.’ Hopefully, we can physicians we spoke to, it is that they are all dedicated to change that.” improving treatment options, access to the best therapies, But looking through his catalog of success stories, it’s survival rates and quality of life for cancer patients. difficult to argue with his results. Dr. Kenneth Morse of Ocala can attest to the effectiveness of his treatment For more information, visit the American Cancer Society firsthand. After developing a probable metastatic at www.cancer.org and the National Cancer Institute at lesion on his lung, that likely developed as a result of a www.cancer.gov previous melanoma on his arm, Moffitt Cancer Center

I am faced with this dilemma. No one thinks that a private practitioner is going to discover something that no one in the academic world has discovered.

See Neil’s story at FindHopeHere.com Proud to serve patients at our two Marion County locations. Patrick Acevedo, MD Luis Carrascosa, MD Mohammad K. Kamal, MD Sachin Kamath, MD

Shilpa Oberoi, MD Vipul Patel, MD Craig Reynolds, MD

Where hope is powered by science.™ FindHopeHere.com

Worl orldd-Class Medicine. Hometown Care.

Neil Breitenbach, Patient & Breast Cancer Fighter May ‘ 2 0

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DINING GUIDE

Wawa Catering #5272 | 1001 S. Pine Avenue Ocala

OPEN FOR PICK-UP, DELIVERY AND CATERING

#5291 | 3312 W. Silver Springs Ocala #5305 | 4025 SW College Rd Ocala #5336 | 3601 E. Silver Springs Blvd Ocala #5273 | 5726 SE Abshier Blvd Belleview

Place a catering, carry-out or delivery order right in store. From coffee and bagels, to freshly made hoagies, and light bites – we’ll make it all fresh for you!

El Toreo

3790 E Silver Springs Boulevard, Ocala

(352) 694-1401 › 7 days 11a-10p SR 200, Ocala › (352) 291-2121 › 7 days 11a-11p New lunch specials include Taco Salad on Mondays, $5.45; Speedy Gonzalez on Tuesdays, $5.45; Quesadillas on Wednesdays, $7.95; Chimichangas on Thursdays, $6.95; and Burrito Supreme on Fridays, $5.95. New dinner options include Fajita Mondays, $10.95; Chimichanga Tuesdays, $8.95; Alambre Wednesdays, $9.95; and Tacos de Bistec Thursdays, $9.95. Plus $1.95 margaritas on Mondays. On Sunday, kids 12 and under can enjoy $1.95 children’s meals (take-out not included). Wednesday is Special Margarita Day, 99¢ all day. Saturday is 2-for-1 margaritas all day. Happy Hour daily, 3-7pm. Everything is 2-4-1 (exceptions

Wednesday: 99¢ House Margaritas All Day Thursday: Trivia Night, 7-9pm (Blvd. location) Thursday: Mariachi band at the 200 location, 6-9pm OPEN FOR TAKE-OUT DAILY 11a-9p

may apply).

Pasta Faire Italian Ristorante 10401 US Hwy 441, Belleview (352) 347-3100 › pastafaire.com Mon-Sat 11a-10p › Sun 11a-9p

Serving Marion County for over 25 years, Pasta Faire is here for our neighborhood from 11 am to 8:30 pm with curbside takeout or limited delivery. Choose from our amazing Family Packs for two or four people or our delicious BOGO of large New York style pizzas and imported pastas! Our full menu of Italian classics, scrumptious desserts, and decadent bottles of wine are all available for takeout! Buy a $50 gift card and receive a free $20 gift certificate. Make your order today by calling 352-347-3100!

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Full-service catering & dropoffs. Call for catering (352) 347-3100.


DINING GUIDE

$3 Beer 7p-close & Live Music at 8pm every Thursday Ask about our whiskey club Full-Service Catering for Special Events, Rehearsal Dinners & Weddings.

Brick City Southern Kitchen & Whiskey Bar 10 S Magnolia Ave., Ocala

(352) 512-9458 › brickcitybbq.com 11a-8p CURB SIDE & DELIVERY THROUGH DOOR DASH Located in downtown Ocala’s historic town square, Brick City Southern Kitchen’s aroma is recognized for several blocks around. Once inside, you are met with a wall of over 400 whiskeys from around the world and a collection of custom folk art from Nicklos Richards. To the rear of the restaurant is their scratch kitchen where all the sides, barbecue sauces, dressings and seasonings are prepared. But the heart of this kitchen is the custom-built smoker, where the low, slow heat of burning hickory smokes beef brisket, ribs, pork shoulders, whole chickens and turkey breast.

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Louie’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant 422 South Pine Avenue, Ocala (352) 304-5199 11a-9p

Have you had a good piece of pizza lately? If not, it’s time to try Louie’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant. This family owned and operated restaurant uses only the freshest ingredients and everything on the menu is made to order. If you crave it, chances are they make it. You have to try the hand-tossed pizza. Pile it high with your favorite toppings or try the Sicilian with its one-of-akind meat sauce. No matter what you order, you’ll be satisfied and ready to call Louie’s a new family favorite.

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La Cuisine

48 SW 1st Ave, Ocala

(352) 433-2570 › lacuisineocala.com La Cuisine Downtown Ocala is providing you with curbside pick up in a safe manner, during the restaurants shut down. Please call us for hours and orders, check our website for updates every day. Regular Dinner menu, specials and cocktails to go, to help you break your daily routine!

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DINING GUIDE

Morevino Restaurant and Bar

Full menu @ morevinowinebar.com

(352) 304-5100 › Tues-Sat 11a-8:30p

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for specials events

Morevino is located on Ocala’s Historic Downtown Square,

Happy Hour Specials 4:306:30pm Tues-Sat

11 East Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala CURBSIDE PICK-UP

directly across from the gazebo. Whether you’re celebrating, dining with business clients, or want a quaint evening with loved ones and friends, we have created the perfect ambiance with a menu created by Proprietor, Sommelier and Chef Brian Morey, inspired by family recipes and local ingredients. We have a wide

Monthly Educational Wine Series and Wine Pairings Visit us on Facebook for daily family dinner specials

selection of hand-picked wines from around the world, including our own label. Our bar is rich with history boasting fun and creative cocktails to include Santos Trail Punch, Ghost of 11 East, and Hilltop Groves Old Fashioned.

Nino’s Pizza Stop 8721 SE 58th Ave. #5, Ocala (352) 307-4332 Tues-Fri 11a-7p

OPEN FOR CALL-IN PICK-UP Follow Nino’s Pizza Stop on Facebook for daily specials and full menu

In Southeast Ocala, Nino’s Pizza Stop is the place for authentic, hand tossed, New York-style pizza with the freshest meats, cheeses and toppings. Enjoy fresh-baked customer favorites including savory garlic knots, huge calzones and strombolis; piping hot, classic Italian dishes such as lasagna and chicken parmigiana; and fresh antipasto and garden salads. Be sure to save room for sweet, flaky, handmade cannolis. Daily specials and catering available.

Scooby’s Subs & Old School Ice Cream

8685 SE 58th Ave. (Baseline Rd.), Ocala

(352) 203-2384 Scooby’s Subs Tue-Sat 10:30a-7:30p › Sun 12p-6:30p › Closed Mon Old School Ice Cream Tue-Sat 12p-9p › Sun 12p-8p › Closed Mon When you start with high-quality ingredients—Metro Deli meats and cheese, hand-picked vegetables fresh from the market, and Mom’s heritage recipes—you just know that eating at Scooby’s Subs will be a “Wow!” experience. A few steps away, Old School Ice Cream proudly serves Blue Bell ice cream in sundaes, malts, banana splits, waffle cones and hand-spun milkshakes; Dole Whip in two flavors; and soft serve ice cream. For a stellar sub sandwich meal or a delectable dessert, check out Scooby’s Subs and Old School Ice Cream.

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OPEN FOR PICK-UP Please practice social distancing


DINING GUIDE

Curbside Takeout Home Delivery: Bite Squad

Sonny’s BBQ

1845 SW College Rd, Ocala (352) 629-2663

4102 E Silver Springs Blvd, Ocala (352) 236-1012 Sun-Thur 11a-8p › Fri-Sat 11a-9p

Please be aware that we are open at Sonny’s BBQ and are offering several options for service. We also have limited our hours from 11:00am – 8:00pm daily for curbside or 3rd party delivery. Our drive thru is open till 9:00 on Friday and Saturday. Business Delivery: Catering@iservbbq.com or 866-697-2872 Order online: OrderSonnys.com

View weekly menus and order online www.thefierychefstore. com Follow The Fiery Chef on Facebook for specials

The Fiery Chef

2637 E Silver Springs Blvd, Ocala (352) 421-9205 Mon-Fri 9a-4p

Your go-to for meals to go! Chef Loring Felix’s gourmet, fullycooked prepared meals are perfect to take home, heat and eat—for one person or the whole family. Choose from good and good-for-you classic meals, keto, paleo, Whole 30 and vegan options. New Family Dinners offer comfort food entrees with two side items, mixed green salads and garlic rolls—reasonably priced for families stuck at home and tired of cooking.

Don’t forget their free doggie sundaes and baby cones, with purchase, for children under 40 inches. Banana Thursdays: Bring your own banana and get 1/2 price on a banana split! Event catering? Just call us, we’ll bring the party!

Bruster’s Real Ice Cream 2707 E Silver Springs Blvd, Ocala (352) 622-2110 › brusters.com Sun-Thur 12p-10p, Fri-Sat 12p-11p

DRIVE-THROUGH IS OPEN!

You scream ice cream, we scream Bruster’s. More than just any ol’ ice cream parlor, Bruster’s knows how to satisfy the needs of any ice cream lover. Their large variety of premium flavors and desserts is made right in the store where they are served, including crunchy handmade waffle cones, customized sundaes, candy-filled blasts, thick milkshakes, frozen yogurts and no-sugaradded flavors. If you really want to crank up a party, Bruster’s will bring their scrumptious sweets to you. Sweeten your next big day with Bruster’s, and choose from endless flavors such as White Chocolate Oreo, Butter Pecan and Triple Chocolate Oreo.

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THANK YOU HEALTHCARE WORKERS, JANITORS, FOOD WORKERS, TRUCK DRIVERS, SANITATION TEAMS, SECURITY GUARDS, GROCERY STORE CLERKS, HEROES AND HELPERS.

PaddockMall.com | @PaddockMall |

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LIVING

My Journey to Healthier Habits Local photographer, yoga instructor, mom and entrepreneur Meagan Gumpert talks about the commitment she made in recent years to reach a new level of wellness and maintain a healthy routine, free of mommy-guilt and fad diets. By Lisa McGinnes Photography by Dave Miller Fashion Styling by Nick Steele Hair & Makeup by Nicole “Nicci� Orio, Pretty n Pinned



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What does health mean to you, and why did you decide to make some changes toward a healthier lifestyle?

To me, health is a balance of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. After spending years in the trenches of early motherhood, I felt like a wreck in all these areas. And I was finally over it. No more pity party. I wanted to be healthier for me. I wanted to be healthy for my kids.

How and when did you make health and fitness a priority?

Things really changed for me in December of 2018. I had been feeling extremely frustrated with how I was feeling physically and mentally. I was working out. I was eating healthy. But something just didn’t feel right. I talked to several doctors. They all assured me I was a healthy weight, and there wasn’t any reason to be concerned. But I knew my body and something was off. I found doctors at Absolute Health who took the time to listen to me. This was huge! There were blood tests, referrals to specialists, supplements, prescriptions and lots of appointments. They put together a plan that was customized for me, my body type and my personality. It took a lot of work, and the changes were gradual. But I went into this with an attitude of wanting to find a new, sustainable lifestyle, not a fad diet or trendy exercise.

You’re a busy professional mom. How have your healthy lifestyle changes helped you in your family life?

Working out is a priority in my life, not something I do when there’s time. It is literally scheduled on my calendar. But this is where the mom-guilt can creep in if I don’t keep it in check. When my boys were younger, I picked my gym based on the childcare options available. (Thank you, Zone Health and Fitness.) The more I went, the more my kids got used to the routine. I want regular exercise, healthy food choices and occasional treats to be a normal part of life for my kids. I’m also careful about how I talk about this in front of my boys. I explain that I’m making choices to be healthy and strong, not to be skinny or look a certain way.

You recently became certified as a yoga instructor by Ocala Yoga Center. How does yoga impact your day-to-day life?

Yoga isn’t about bending your body into crazy positions. It’s more about what you can learn about yourself through the process of bending your body into crazy positions. Often the way you approach a challenging pose in yoga is the same way you’d approach a stressful situation at work or at home. Is there resistance, fear, excitement, anticipation, anger, joy? Being aware of these personal tendencies is the first step. From there, you can learn to process and let go, creating new, positive habits.

Any advice for other supermoms who aren’t sure how to begin or get back to a more active routine?

If you’ve tried many things unsuccessfully, your brain is almost programmed not to believe that you can change. So, you need to start with something relatively simple and specific. I suggest drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every day for 30 days. This may seem simple, or irrelevant, but, on a deeper level, your subconscious needs to know and trust that you can commit and follow through. Once you’ve done this (and you can do it), then gradually add to it. Maybe you kick soda for 30 days, or walk four times a week—whatever is the next level for you. You’re going for a new, sustainable lifestyle, not a 30-day, 30-pound fix. Changes may be slow and gradual. Count each healthy snack or meal or days of activity, as a win. Those wins will eventually add up. And be patient and kind with yourself. Yes, I still hide from my kids in the pantry and stress-eat chocolate, but I don’t let this send me into a spiral of other bad decisions. May ‘ 2 0

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Things to Know:

I now do a combination of weightlifting, highintensity interval training (HIIT) and yoga four to six days a week. I teach power yoga at 6am on Friday mornings at Zone Health and Fitness. I no longer regularly count calories. I did this and tracked macros for a couple of months when I started with my doctor, but stopped when I felt I had the hang of it. I will occasionally track a day or two now to just

keep myself in check. I avoid eating gluten and dairy, per bloodwork results from my doctor. And, Ugh!, I can totally tell when I cheat and overdo it. While not all individuals will achieve similar results based on avoiding gluten or dairy or changes to your physical routine, we share Meagan’s insights to provide inspiration for achieving optimum wellness. Consulting your family physician before making any major changes to your diet is advised.

For more inspiration, check out the following digest of wellness recommendations from leading experts, compiled by registered dietician nutritionist Brigid Titgemeier at www.beingbrigid.com/2020-wellness-intentions/ 88

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Finding Balance Traditional stand-up paddleboarding and SUP yoga can provide recreation, exercise and even help create a more mindful workout.

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lways up for an adventure, we asked Gumpert to join us at Lake Weir for a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga and photo session. While she is a certified yoga instructor, she says she is a novice at SUP yoga and enjoyed the opportunity to challenge herself in this unique way. “I took a paddleboard yoga class with personal fitness trainer Jen King back a couple of years ago. It was a fun workshop,” she explains. “Since then, I’ve occasionally rented boards when we’ve gone to the beach, but that’s it. I definitely wish I did it more though.” Although that program is no longer offered by King, Marion County Parks and Recreation has been offering traditional SUP classes and camps over the past few years. While on hold for the moment, they should resume later this year. To learn about those offerings, visit www.marionparksrec.org. Historically, paddleboarding has been a staple on local waterways including the Rainbow, Silver, Ocklawaha and Withlacoochee rivers, and Lake Weir, with participants often renting boards through local vendors. While experts say that SUP yoga can be a challenging discipline that takes training and practice, when mastered it can be a peaceful yet fun way to take your yoga practice outdoors and onto a f loating mat of sorts. According to Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI Co-op), the nation’s largest consumer cooperative of outdoor gear, expert advice, classes and adventure trips, doing yoga on a SUP engages muscles you may neglect during onland practice and can help develop mindfulness because of the challenge. For a comprehensive guide to SUP yoga featuring expert advice, visit rei.com/learn/expert-advice/sup-yoga.html May ‘ 2 0

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Women Helping Women The 150-year-old Philanthropic Educational Organization is more than a fundraising group. Local members call it a sisterhood and say it’s all about helping one another.

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are for a few chocolate-covered pecans? How about a braided coffee cake? Maybe you’d like to have a discount coupon for a department store. These are a few of the fundraiser items local members of the Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) sell every year to help other women realize their educational and entrepreneurial dreams. Emboldened by the motto, “Women Helping Women Reach for the Stars,” five Ocala P.E.O. chapters donate their profits to the main office’s program of scholarships, low-interest loans, grants and awards. But it’s more than a fundraising organization, says Fran Kolonia, a publicity chair for one of the Ocala chapters. “It’s a sisterhood,” Kolonia says. “There’s a lot of closeness and looking out for one another in times of need, especially when somebody has been hospitalized

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or is sick at home. If they can’t prepare meals, our members will pitch in and help them personally.” Member Kathy Dinkins knows what it’s like to depend on her “sisters.” While taking down Christmas decorations, she fell from the ladder, injured both of her legs, and ended up in a wheelchair for two months. “Another P.E.O. member lent me her wheelchair,” Dinkins said. “Other members called, of course, and they came by and brought food.” Dinkins’ chapter has stuck with the same fundraiser for years—selling pecans in bags containing halves, pieces and chocolate-covered nuts. “A lot of people wait for them every year, because they’re so fresh and good,” says Dinkins. “Those chocolate ones in particular make very good gifts, but we do eat a lot of them,” she sheepishly admits. As her chapter’s historian, Dinkins says members

The founders of P.E.O. collage courtesy The P.E.O. Sisterhood

By Marian Rizzo


LIVING

range in age and sometimes three or four generations from one family are involved in P.E.O. chapters. Dinkins’ daughter, Michelle Dinkins, belongs to a younger group than the one she is in. “We’re all sisters, so it doesn’t matter,” Dinkins explains. “It’s great, because when you move, there are P.E.O.s everywhere. Lots of members, all over, have B&Bs for members who are traveling. My mother used to host them all the time. That is a good way to meet some new people. You’ve always got a friend wherever you go.” Headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, P.E.O. was founded in January 1869 at Iowa Wesleyan College by seven female students who wanted to support other women in their pursuits. Since then, more than 109,000 women have benefited from P.E.O.’s programs that also offer scholarships to various colleges and universities, including Cottey College, a Nevada, Missouri, institution owned and supported by P.E.O. The organization’s scholarship grants have assisted women of all ages, from high school graduates to older women who want to pursue a higher education. According to the P.E.O. International website, Savannah Guthrie, co-anchor of the Today Show, is a former P.E.O. Scholar Award recipient. She spoke during the organization’s 150th-year celebration last September. Local member Lynda Fagan started her college education with a scholarship to Cottey College. She later completed her degree at Florida State University. Now a Vanguard High School science teacher, Fagan is president of one of the Ocala chapters. She has interviewed several P.E.O. scholarship applicants, including students from Vanguard. Fagan says her mother and her sister also are members of P.E.O. chapters. “Some chapters have a grandmother and a mother and a daughter, all in one chapter,” says Fagan. “It’s a tradition in most of the chapters, at least in Ocala. But no matter where you go

in the country you have ‘sisters.’” More than 500,000 women belong to chapters in the United States and Canada. In Ocala, approximately 165 women belong to the area’s five chapters. Lorraine Stout was first initiated into a chapter in Miami, 55 years ago. After moving to Ocala in 1971, she helped start two chapters here and has served in every one of the seven offices, starting with guard, which, Stout claims, is an easy position reserved for newcomers. “You just have to make sure the door is closed,” giggles Stout. She recalled how that initial duty was the first step in helping her overcome shyness. “Being a member of P.E.O. has helped me grow in confidence and leadership ability,” says Stout. “About a year after I was initiated, they asked me to do a program for their Founders Day. I was very nervous about speaking in public. In P.E.O. you’re not supposed to say no.” Stout says she got around her fear of public speaking by creating a poster board with images of the original founders, then she pasted a paragraph about each one on the back. “I hid behind the poster board and read the little scripts,” she admits. “I didn’t have to look at the audience. They loved it, and that’s how I began speaking in public. “We do a lot of laughing and have a really good time,” she adds. “The reason the girls that started it called it a ‘sisterhood’ is because it felt like they were more than just friends. They were sisters to each other, and I really feel that way, too. The ladies I see at the meetings are much closer than friends.” To locate a P.E.O. chapter in your area or to be sponsored for an application for benefits, visit www.peointernational.org

Kathy Dinkins and daughter Michelle


Marking History Historical murals depicting African American history debut in West Ocala’s Legacy Park. By Lisa McGinnes Photography by Bruce Ackerman

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egacy Park is a small but bright spot of green space in West Ocala. Near the railroad tracks a few blocks northwest of the busy intersection at Southwest 10th Street and Pine Avenue, this tranquil neighborhood park offers a paved walking trail that gently curves for a half mile under a canopy of oak trees dripping with Spanish moss and around the pond historically known as Thompson’s Bowl. Recently some new artwork was installed, offering another reason to slow down for a stroll in nature: four huge, brightly colored painted mural panels inspired by historical photographs of African American life in Central Florida. Installed along the path by a team from the City of Ocala Recreation and Parks Department at dawn on March 9th, the four aluminum panels are large-format oil paintings inspired by black and white photographs from the State Library and Archives of Florida. The vibrantly colored scenes celebrate African American life in the region in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Pamela Zeljak, the City of Ocala cultural arts supervisor, explains that this mural is part of a larger effort to beautify Ocala’s public spaces and honor local history. “About three years ago we decided the area really

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needed more activation for the arts and culture, and the Levitt [Levitt Foundation AMP Music Series Grant Awards] grant kicked that off,” Zeljak explains. “We started by moving some sculptures to the MLK complex, things the community could enjoy all the time and which enhanced the Levitt [summer concert series] experience. We also added a visual art component to the Levitt art experience during concerts: street artists to paint panels to go in the skate park. While they were building the skate park we didn’t want to keep them in storage so we installed some in Legacy Park. When the skate park was built, we moved them over. Then we thought, what can we do to replace those in Legacy Park?” In response, the City of Ocala put out a call for a Marion County artist to create new art representing Florida African American history and local painter Jordan Shapot was selected. “We wanted to complement what was on the mural at Webb Field,” Zeljak explains. “That shows the local history, and this expands into state history. Jordan had really great ideas.” Shapot has a way of seeing the beauty in what he calls “everyday people doing everyday things” in


a larger-than-life format. He has always enjoyed studying history, and when he heard about the City of Ocala project, he jumped at the chance. “I really love art projects when I’m required to do research and some digging around,” he reveals. “It makes me feel much more connected to the subject matter and I think the artwork often turns out to be more heartfelt.” The four panels he painted in February are scenes of African Americans in everyday life: railroad workers in wide-brimmed hats holding their hand tools; a group of families picnicking at Paradise Park near Silver Springs, with brilliant fresh oranges and fruits; Black Seminole women, with their colorful, full-length skirts and scarves; and a timeless portrait of a young boy fishing from the banks of the Withlacoochee River, among the cypress knees under a bright blue sky. If the other side of these panels looks like graffiti, don’t worry, it is—but it was planned that way. Last year, before Shapot created his paintings, the other side of the panels were painted during an urban calligraphy workshop with hip hop artist DJ Cavem, also known as Vegan Chef Ietef, who, along with a musical performance, demonstrated his art. Shapot says this duality and modern influence further enhances the vibrant culture he wanted to celebrate. To learn more, visit www.ocalafl.org and visit Legacy Park at 825 SW Ninth Avenue, Ocala.

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The Flip Side According to a recent editorial in Forbes magazine, street art is no longer rejected as merely deleterious graffiti or vandalism, but can be the source of civic pride, public artistry, and outdoor engagement in cities across America. And they are not the only ones who think so. “Graffiti is a rogue art and I believe has its place as part of an expression of free speech,” Maria Stefanovic, director of The Leesburg Center for the Arts, recently told reporters when she made a public appeal for a graffiti artist who uses the tag “Mute” to come forward so she could connect with him on future art projects. “We have no idea who Mute is, but the use of colors are exquisite. I think this individual has a unique perspective of our community, and I want to hear it.” Stefanovic is just one of many curators and art advocates around the world who are campaigning to develop controlled environments to help foster graffiti artists and create a showcase for their work. Here in Ocala, the art community is already staging such collaborations—elevating graffiti from an illegal subculture to a legitimate public art form. Last year, the Marion Cultural Alliance (MCA), in conjunction with the City of Ocala’s First Friday Art Walk, staged the workshop Urban Calligraphy: Climate Solutions Through Graffiti Art in the courtyard of The Brick City Center for the 94

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Arts, led by eco-minded hip hop personality DJ Cavem, with the goal of educating young people about urban farming, environmental sustainability and food justice. “Factory farms have destroyed the Amazon rainforest,” Cavem explains. “Pesticides and herbicides have destroyed our soil and microorganisms and contaminated our water. Our oceans are becoming acidic, and we are losing the coral reefs. I believe that art will inspire and educate and change that. And I believe the seeds will be planted, literally.” Local young people helped plant those seeds and became a part of creating the artworks that are now on display, literally back to back, with artist Jordan Shapot’s historical murals in Legacy Park. Cavem not only left his mark on our city, but on the young people he inspired to change the world through art, music and community engagement. Kids of all ages were invited to pick up a can of spray paint and add their own art—a personal “tag” or their design to the aluminum panels. Even Cavem’s medium of choice, Ironlak Sugar aerosol paint, reflected his environmental message—it’s made from sugarcane rather than petroleum to be environmentally and health conscious. Jaye Baillie, MCA’s executive director, recalls that the event was a vibrant and engaging one. “He was a huge hit.” For more eco art, music and inspiration, follow DJ Cavem on Facebook and @ietef on Instagram.


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Now on View This month Appleton Museum of Art Curator of Exhibitions Patricia Tomlinson talks about why museums rotate art. Tomlinson, a former professional archaeologist, joined the Appleton in 2016 after serving as curatorial staff in the New World Department at the Denver Art Museum. By Patricia Tomlinson

Photo courtesy of the Appleton Museum of Art

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pring is often considered a time of renewal. In the past, spring cleaning occurred yearly and houses were cleaned from top to bottom to sweep away the dust of winter and refresh for the coming summer months. Museums often do something similar. The holiday season is usually very busy with lots of visitors and events and so there is little or no time to make changes. After the festivities are over, a curator has the opportunity to rotate the art in the galleries. What I mean by rotate is that some art is taken off view and other pieces are put in their place, creating a fresh, new look. This serves the dual purpose of allowing artworks time to rest in the dark, which helps preserve them, and puts other great art on display for everyone to enjoy. Art rotations also help keep the museum exciting because there is always something Ovation II by Beth Garcia, 2017 interesting to see. For example, a while ago, I created a small gallery of Alexander Calder’s works on paper. Because paper is inherently fragile, it was time to rest the prints and take them off view. In their place, I designed a gallery that presents various artists’ interpretations of our state. Visions of Florida includes photographs by Clyde Butcher, Mac Stone and Carlton Ward Jr., paintings by Christopher Still and Mark Messersmith, pottery by Beth Garcia and other works. The Modern and Contemporary galleries have also experienced some spring cleaning recently. The

Appleton is lucky enough to own pieces by the terrific artist cooperative known as Los Carpinteros, based in Havana, Cuba and their work is now on view. Often incorporating humor into their work, the artists are known for creating visual contradictions and exploring themes such as functional versus impractical. One of my favorite artworks by Los Carpinteros is a pair of very large flipflops that are carved with a relief map of Havana. In keeping with their familiar themes, the artists marry the functionality of a commonly worn item such as flip-flops with the impracticality of a deeply incised map of Havana, which makes the sandals impossible to actually wear. Among other items now on display is one of artist Sharon KerryHarlan’s art quilts. Woman with Roosters combines her mastery of quilting with beautiful wax-resist images of roosters around the quilt border. Intricately carved woodcuts of Annelies Dykgraaf ’s childhood in Africa are also currently on view. So, you see? Museums also participate in the refreshing and renewing of spring cleaning. Due to COVID-19, the museum is closed until May 15th. Visit www.appletonmuseum.org for updated information. Appleton Museum of Art, 4333 E Silver Springs Blvd., (352) 291-4455.

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Day in the Life By Meagan Gumpert

In observing the beauty that exists in the here and now, we can ďŹ nd the extraordinary revealed within the ordinary. Each month we invite you to see our community with fresh eyes through the lens of our talented photographers.

I absolutely love capturing the mundane but beautiful aspects of daily life when I am working on a family photo session. I encourage them to think of it as quality time together. This allows me to be an observer and capture personal, candid moments. This couple was thoroughly into the music and laughed about how they would soon hear the tiny footsteps of their ďŹ rst child running through their home.


WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS CHALLENGING TIME

TOGETHER FRANK DELUCA PRESIDENT/OWNER

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SR 200 Ocala, FL 352-732-0770 • DELUCATOYOTA.COM

PAYMENTS MAY BE DEFERRED FOR THE FIRST 90 DAYS; INTEREST ACCRUES FROM INCEPTION. MAXIMUM TERM 75 MONTHS.DELUCA TOYOTA WILL PAY THE REMAINING THREE MONTHS UP TO$499. THIS OFFER APPLIES TOWELL-QUALIFIED BUYERS AND REQUIRES APPROVED CREDIT AND FINANCING THROUGH SOUTHEAST TOYOTA FINANCE. NOT ALL BUYERS WILL QUALIFY FOR THESE RATES. MAY NOT BE COMBINED WITH CERTAIN OTHER OFFERS.EXCLUDES TAX, TAG, REGISTRATION, TITLE AND $897 DEALER FEE. OFFER EXPIRES 5/31/2020.


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