Ocala Style | October 2022

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Health WOMEN’S OCT ‘22 F Issue the Arts & Culture MENTORS History Alive KEEPING Florida

Country Club of Ocala

Contemporary home where neat interiors ebb and flow throughout, making it family friendly and perfect for entertaining. Drenched in light from numerous full pane windows, the stunning Fabulous custom-built Arthur Rutenburg model pool home with spa and outdoor living at its finest. Beautiful open concept floor plan with many custom upgrades. Chef’s kitchen, summer kitchen, pocket sliding doors allowing free flow from inside to outside for perfect entertaining and enjoyment. Spacious master suite offers access to pool area. 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath home. Our today!Listthemselves.speakresultsforwithJoan Joan RealtorPletcher, 352.804.8989 Laurels at Bellechase

29+/- Acres just 8 miles from WEC

Beautiful custom pool home on 29+/- acres in prestigious NW Marion County. This 3 bedroom 3.5 bath home is only 8 miles to the World Equestrian Center and is ready for any discipline. Home features: chef’s kitchen, coffered ceilings, large windows, gathering room with fireplace, sliding glass doors opening to lanai, summer kitchen and entertaining areas. This property is perfect for you to design your own stables, arena and paddock layouts.

Come and live your equestrian dream in this beautiful 26.75 +/- acre farm. Farm features 10-stall barn, dressage arena, polo field and lush green pastures. All paddocks are four board fencing. Property also has two one-bedroom apartments for you and your staff to live in while you build your dream home. Easy drive to Florida Greenway, Florida Horse Park and The Villages.

Close to the Florida Horse Park

Expect an unparalleled combination of professionalism, integrity and relentless commitment to her client’s unique needs, interests, and desires.

Joan is a residential, equine property and land development REALTOR® since 1985 and a horsewoman herself so her clients have the benefit of experience and specialized expertise.

“The Ocala region is home to the most beautiful equestrian estates and horse farms in the United States and the natural beauty of the area, along with an amazing variety of equine-centered activities and venues, such as the phenomenal new World Equestrian Center, makes this a place that more and more people want to call home,” says Joan.

What should you expect working with Joan Pletcher? Call or Text: 352.266.9100 | 352.804.8989 | joan@joanpletcher.com | joanpletcher.com Southern Grace and Charm greet you on this 5.5+/- acre farm Located in equine friendly community of Summit II. This 4 bedroom, 5.5 bath home is close to town and all of its conveniences and boasts a three-stall center isle barn with automatic waterers, hot water and tack room, lap pool, fire pit and all the amenities Ocala is famous for. The home is perfect for entertaining and features a chef’s kitchen, great room with lanai access, owner’s suite has multiple walk-in closets, ensuite baths accompany additional bedrooms. Property is bright and spacious with fine details in trim and molding throughout.
Host your next event on the grounds of our beautiful Vintage Farm. Weddings, Corporate Events, Reunions and More Ŋ CF.edu/VintageBarn Æ 352-291-4441 º VintageBarn@cf.edu –an equal opportunity college–Now taking bookings for N2023! ow taking bookings for 2023! Our professional team is ready to assist you in planning your next event. For packages, amenities and booking information, visit CF.edu/VintageBarn Conference Services

ctober always feels like the start of an agreeable season for me. The combination of hopefully cooler weather, a joyful arts scene ramping up and more opportunities to spend time with friends and family members energizes me just enough for the final push to achieve the goals I set earlier in the year.

And when it comes to setting goals and achieving them, we bring you the story of a young Ocala woman who has a lot to be proud of. Zaniyah Williams, who graduated from Vanguard High School earlier this year, amassed a stellar number of scholarships—18—in pursuit of her higher education and shares with readers how she did it.

And speaking of education, Ocala’s opportunities for art education are expanding, such as with the Ocala Symphony Orchestra’s Community Music Conservatory at the Reilly Arts Center. A central goal for the conservatory is music for all ages and thus far students from 6 years old to 80+ have signed up for classes.

In this issue we also explore the history of performing arts education and enrichment at the Ocala Civic Theatre and the inspirational story of how the late Mary Britt, the theater’s longtime and much-loved director, hand-picked Terry LeCompte to lead the current programs.

There is little doubt that the new Community Music Conservatory and the long-standing Ocala Civic Theatre will continue to produce talent that can ascend to the national level. After all, when an Ocalan has talent and the help of a nurturing community behind them, all things are possible.

This issue also introduces you to one of Ocala’s most fervent history keepers. Brian Stoothoff, a former assistant fire chief with Ocala Fire Rescue, is the collector and researcher behind the Ocala Fire Museum, which is now open to the public at the new first responder campus on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.

Everyone in our company appreciates the efforts of those who lend a hand in making sure local history is preserved and we plan to continue spotlighting the folks who are taking up this cause. We also see ourselves as history keepers, recording the lives and happenings of our town, and always with the lingering thought that 100 years from now someone will be interested.

Publisher’s Note

Publisher | Jennifer Hunt Murty jennifer@magnoliamediaco.com

PO Ocala,


Amy Harbert amy@magnoliamediaco.com

PHOTOGRAPHERS Bruce Ackerman Eighteenth Hour Film Dave Miller Katelyn Virginia Alan Youngblood

ILLUSTRATORS Jordan Shapot David Vallejo

CLIENT SERVICES GURU Cheryl Specht cheryl@magnoliamediaco.com


Susan Smiley-Height susan@magnoliamediaco.com

CREATIVE CONSULTANT Nick Steele nick@magnoliamediaco.com

ASSOCIATE EDITOR Greg Hamilton greg@magnoliamediaco.com


Belea Keeney Scott Mitchell Jill BethLeahDavePagliaSchlenkerTaylorWhitehead

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Evelyn Anderson evelyn@magnoliamediaco.com Ron Eddy ron@magnoliamediaco.com Rick Shaw

D istribution
Box 188,
FL 34478 Magnolia Media Company, LLC (352) 732-0073 ocalastyleocalastyle.comocalastylemagazineocalastyle VILLAGES352.251.0418WILDWOODCROSSING352.987.8511GAINESVILLE352.661.2650 Whether it’s fine dining and luxury spa experiences or personalized care and endless events you’re seeking, our luxury senior living communities in Central Florida have you covered. This is HarborChase. Come celebrate with us. YOURELEVATELIVING HarborChaseLivingExploreat CAROLINECOUNSELINGKING individual + couples Caroline King, MA, 352.509.5576www.ckingcounseling.comcaroline@ckingcounseling.comRMHCI


Join us in celebrating local brides grooms.



Meet Terry LeCompte, OCT’s director of education and enrichment programs.


MUSIC FOR ALL The Reilly Arts Center’s Community Music Conservatory is off to a rousing start.

THE HISTORY KEEPER Brian Stoothoff is the collector and researcher behind Ocala’s Fire Museum.

THE CANOE CARVER OF SILVER SPRINGS Cypress a rich legacy of native culture.

in this issue

15 EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE Zaniyah Williams amassed 18 scholarships in her pursuit of higher education.


WOMEN CARING FOR WOMEN The Women’s Health Center offers cutting edge robotic in-office surgery and high-quality obstetrics care.



We profile HUGS Charities and The Cancer Alliance of Marion County.



A trip to NYC offers poignant lessons as Dave and Amy adjust to an empty nest.


ALL ABOUT BALANCE Jill Paglia says it’s okay to mix a little decadent comfort food into your healthy menu.


CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT Leah Taylor shares some of the things that are important to her.


CULTIVATING THE CARNIVOROUS Some plants can be downright scary!

ON THE COVER: drs. poorti Riley and Michelle Wood

Photo by: John Jernigan

This page: Top, by bruce ackerman

Middle and bottom, by John Jernigan

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BLOCK PARTY WITH CHRIS MCNEIL World Equestrian Center, Expo Center December 9, 2022 | Block Party 4:30 PM | Concert 7 PM www.never give up on country.eventbrite.com Live! CONTESTS, PARACHUTE SHOW, FOOD TRUCKS, BEVERAGES AND MORE! WITH SPECIAL GUESTS To benefit our nation's recalibrated veterans through the Travis Mills Foundation Sponsored by At world equestrian center
10 ocalastyle.com Appleton Museum of Art | Ocala Cultural Arts and Sciences Division Circle Square Cultural Center | Ocala Main Street | Ocala Downtown Market Marion Cultural Alliance at Brick City Center for the Arts Magnolia Art Xchange | Reilly Arts Center | Ocala Calligraphy Guild Ocala Symphony Orchestra | Marion Theatre | Marion County Center for the Arts Dance Alive National Ballet | Fine Arts For Ocala | Ocala Spoken Word ART4ALL at Ft. King Presbyterian Church | Discovery Center | Sean T Music Global Webber Gallery-College of Central Florida | Ocala Civic Theatre College of Central Florida Theatre | Ocala Art Group | Signature Brands 8th Ave Gallery | Shapot Art Studio | NOMA Gallery | Arts in Health Ocala Metro On Top of the World Communities, LLC | Ocala Cars and Music Show Art Army @ Magnolia Art Exchange | Marion Literacy Council Mcaocala.org #artoberfestocala2022 Coordinated by Marion Cultural Alliance and sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and the National Endowment for the Arts


Photo by Bruce Ackerman Longtime Ocala Style and Ocala Star-Banner columnist Dave Schlenker, with his wife, Amy, autographed copies of his new book, Little Man Big Mouth, during a packed debut party at the Ocala Civic Theatre.

n August 19th, the Ocala Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association renamed its PACEsetter Award in honor of Toni James, APR, CPRC. The luncheon event also honored past chapter presidents and 15 were in attendance.

OCALA GOLF CLUB Photos by Bruce Ackerman Paulette Millhorn, Devon Chestnut and Carole Savage-Hagans Greg Davis, Kevin Christian and Allison Campbell Toni James and Heather Danenhower-Nelson Donna Hogan Delahunty and Karen Jensen Tina Banner and Toni James
12 ocalastyle.comToniOHonorJames

Book Release


he August 29th release party for Little Man Big Mouth, Dave Schlenker’s book of newspaper and magazine columns, was standing room only. Guest readers included Amy Mangan, Macey Mac and Reverend Billy C. Wirtz.

OCALA CIVIC THEATRE Photos by Bruce Ackerman Brad Rogers, Harriet Daniels and David Moore Macey Mac Grant Schlenker and Dave Schlenker Lorraine Stout and Dave Schlenker
October ‘22 13 INSIDER

Ocala Cars & Co ee

T he September 4th event again drew plenty of vehicles, including sleek and powerful high-end rides and custom-craft ed rebuilds. Held the fi rst Sunday of each month, the gathering features live music, coff ee and espresso, vendors and a kids’ zone.

WAR HORSE HARLEY-DAVIDSON Photos by Bruce Ackerman Logan and Tyler Galloway Greg Bohner, Gage Bohner, Joey Palermo and Joe Palermo Charles Radawich with his dogs Molly and Spencer Rene Avila, Lucia Rodriguez and Isabel Avila

Educational Excellence

Zaniyah Williams amassed 18 scholarships in her pursuit of higher education.

Before she graduated from Vanguard High School in May, Zaniyah Williams had already been awarded 15 scholarships during the Evening of Excellence, an annual event to recognize the academic achievements of Marion County Public Schools (MCPS) seniors.

Kevin Christian, APR, CPRC, Director of Public Relations for MCPS, and the event’s emcee for the past 10 years, says he does not recall “a single student receiving so much recognition at one“Manyevent.”students receive one or two scholarships

(at the annual event), some maybe three or four,” he offers. “Zaniyah’s 15 is certainly a record for recentSincememory.”then,Williams’ award total has risen to 18 scholarships, including the University of South Florida’s Green to Gold Grant. At USF, she is majoring in biomedical sciences with a double minor in public health in women’s and gender studies, and Spanish.

Williams, a first-generation college student, was raised by Terri Haynes, a single mother and MCPS employee, and her father, Willie Williams, a


small-business owner. She says she knew finances would constrain her dreams, but she had a plan for college and worked it well.

According to Sallie Mae’s report, How America Pays for College 2021, parents’ income and savings contribute the most, at 45%. The rest comes from scholarships and grants (25%), borrowed money (20%), the student’s income and savings (8%), and relatives and friends (2%).

Get Connected

To make her dreams a reality, Williams used the power of connection. She began pursuing excellence in the eighth grade.

“It is not what you know, it’s who you know,” she professes.

Terri Haynes, a bus driver at Forest High School, inquired about a math tutor when Williams was in middle school. Haynes was introduced to Raymond James, an FHS math teacher, who began weekly tutoring sessions with Williams free of charge through her senior year. Williams says James has become a mentor for life.

Williams also was fortunate to participate in the Take Stock in Children mentoring program, which qualified her to apply for one of six annual Leaders for Life scholarships. In December 2021, the organization’s benefactor, Mark Asofsky, made an 11th-hour decision to make Williams his seventh recipient that year. That scholarship, the largest of all of Williams’ awards, valued at up to $10,000 per year, will pay for her college tuition.

Community involvement opened other doors. Williams was a member and officer of the Pink Ladies & T-Birds Service Club at Vanguard for four years. Club sponsor Debra Lipphardt, who also was Williams’ career coach, frequently reminded the teen about the free money that is available for college

“Shestudents.preached it,” shares Williams. “She would say, ‘There is this scholarship you qualify for. Go And,apply.’”within two days, Williams says, she would have the application in the mail.

Williams also participated in activities such as #CAP (College Admissions Process), sponsored by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and earned a scholarship.Shesaysshe encourages students to “make those connections with the people. Don’t be afraid to make your appearance visible.”

A young woman wise beyond her years, Williams further admonishes students to advocate for themselves. She proactively emailed the Take Stock in Children director and the Vanguard principal for letters of recommendation to accompany

her“Iapplications.amprettyindependent,” she notes.

She also stayed connected to her supporters, visiting Vanguard regularly while taking full-time college courses during her senior year, often to see her “school mom,” Amanda Stinski.

Family Values

Williams says her mother was her biggest supporter. She was determined not to ask her parents to get financially involved unless one of her scholarships did not pay for something she needed. That probability is small, as Williams is frugal, a trait she says she learned from her father.

“He always said, “Don’t spend money like you got it,’” she explains. “Always save for the unknown.”Shesays she did not understand his words until she got to college.

“I didn’t even know books were $200,” she says withBothanimation.momand daughter share the same approach to hard work and frugality. Williams says students teased her about “always wearing her work clothes” instead of the latest fashions, but she did not mind. She says she told classmates, “I am always Septemberworking.”marked Williams’ fourth anniversary as a Publix employee.

Working two jobs and going to school concerned her mother, however.

“I was worried about her health,” shares Haynes. “But she planned it out.”

Williams kept her grades up, graduating with a weighted 4.3871 GPA.

Terri Haynes, Zaniyah Williams and Willie Williams

Williams says her parents’ sternness grounded her and made her a responsible young woman. She recently completed an accelerated six-week program at USF. She does admit there can be a temptation to overindulge in college frivolities, but she says she understands her purpose.

Her catalyst for higher education is to help find a cure for cancer. When she was 7, her grandfather, Joe Haynes, died of prostate cancer. Her loss is now her motivation.

She has a new job at a Tampa hospital and is volunteering at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center. She says she plans to become a physician’s associate or a medical doctor.

Apply Anyway

In 1643, Lady Ann Radcliffe Mowlson, a wealthy merchant’s widow in London, was the first to contribute a financial aid scholarship to Harvard University. Then, as now, scholarships are necessary for middle- and lower-income students to achieve a competitive secondary education.

Nya Brigham, a 2021 summa cum laude graduate from West Port High School, with a 4.53 GPA, can


received 15 scholarships, including Florida A&M University’s prestigious Presidential Special Scholarship. Like Williams, she received her associate degree while in high school. Brigham is on track to graduate from college in a year and a half with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing.

Her mother, Monica Edwards, a local healthcare professional, says Brigham used the Marion County scholarship directory, scholarships posted via MCPS high school websites, her wasformouthnetchurch,counselor,guidancetheinter-andwordoftosearchscholarships.Brighamrelentless,

applying for 40 receivingandscholarshipsultimatelyenough

“free money” to pay for her BS degree. Edwards says this would not have been possible without financial assistance, adding that her daughter “should be able to graduate debtWilliamsfree.” says she doubted she’d get certain scholarships, but thanks God she applied anyway. She believes students should not have a negative, defeatist mindset about the competitive process. Her biggest regret is not taking the initiative to apply for more scholarships because she might have been awarded more. She recommends that students “apply for whatever they are qualified for,” which is sage advice from the recipient of more than $55,000 in scholarships.

Trending Excellence

Stress about funding a college education is legitimate. Brigham believes it is essential to talk to high school students about planning for college. She says there is a difference between planners and“Mynon-planners.peerswho planned fared better in the sense that they weren’t as limited and were able to experience everything they wanted,” she offers. “They also didn’t have as much of a financial burden to worry about.”

Both Brigham and Williams circumvented those anxieties with similar plans. They studied hard, earned good grades, took accelerated courses, which boosted their GPAs, and were dual-enrolled, allowing them to gain college credits for free. Both were involved in extracurricular activities, did volunteer work and held jobs in order to gain experience and earn money for their education. They put in the work to reap the numerous scholarships necessary for their educational


Williams is not in a rush to graduate. She has curated another plan to excel. She articulates her desire to reflect on her college years as enjoyable, “not drudgery.” So, although she could graduate in two years, she is looking towardWithin2026.that time frame, she says, “I can pick up a few minors, maybe double major; the sky is the

Nya Brigham

On the Scene

A guide to our favorite monthly happenings and can’t-miss events


Downtown Ocala

Oct. 7

The monthly art walk runs through May and features artists and entertainers. Have dinner at a downtown restaurant or food and snacks from a vendor. Stores are open late for shopping. For more info, ocalafl.org


World Equestrian Center

Oct. 7-15

Classes and trials include conformation, agility, scent work, herding and obedience. Parking and admission are free. For more info, worldequestriancenter.com


Ocala Police Department Headquarters Oct. 8

Check out classic, modern and muscle cars, along with the police SWAT vehicle. DJ music, vendors and food trucks. Trophies in 24 categories, including Most Likely to Get a Ticket, Best Jeep and Best Classic Ford, Mopar and GM vehicles. Free to spectators. The event benefits United Way of Marion County.


Grumbles House Antiques & Garden Shop, Dunnellon Oct. 8

This fall festival features the artists and craftspeople who offer creations throughout the year in the gift shop. Live music and vendor booths. Free to attend. See dunnellonfloridaantiques.com for more info.


Reilly Arts Center Oct. 8

Enjoy tapas, cocktails, art experiences and music as the Marion Cultural Alliance cel-

ebrates our area’s artists. Art grant awards will be announced. The event theme is A Whimsical Wonderland. For more info, check out mcaocala.org

MARION COUNTY PARKS & RECREATION CARNIVAL Southeastern Livestock Pavilion Oct. 8

This county fall carnival will include bounce houses, food trucks, costume contests, candy treats, giveaways and more. Family-friendly and free to all; call (352) 371-8560 for more info.

CHAMPAGNE DREAMS GALA CF Vintage Farm Campus Oct. 14

The Transitions Life Center hosts its annual fundraiser gala, with entertainment from Radlin Rootz, known for their eclectic sound, rich covers and original music. Tickets are $150 and include dinner and dancing. For more info, tlcocala.org

TWO RIVERS MUSIC FESTIVAL & FOOD TRUCK RALLY East Pennsylvania Avenue, Dunnellon Oct. 15

Live bands will appear in Ernie Mills Parks. Vendor booths and food trucks will be set up along Bostick Street. For more info, FB.com/tworiversmusicfestivaldunnellon


Using music, puppetry, dance and storytelling, this troupe presents Victorian horror with a modern-day celebration of Edgar Allan Poe’s work. The show includes The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart and Annabel Lee. Tickets are $25; see reillyartscenter.com for more info.

18 ocalastyle.com
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Tuscawilla Park

Oct. 15

Enjoy food trucks, music by Left on Broadway, Glass Onion and the Kimber Davis Band, and more. Jenkins Auto Group sponsors this free event. Arts vendors include Magnolia Art Exchange, Ocala Arts Group, NOMA Gallery and the Marion Cultural Alliance. See reillyartscenter.com


Ocala Downtown Market

Oct. 16

The Senior Resource Foundation sponsors this event, with costume contests, vendors, food trucks, music and demonstrations. Pets will be available for adoption. Proceeds benefit Marion County Animal Services and Meals on Wheels. Free to all. For more info, see srfofocala.org/events/


Southeastern Livestock Pavilion Oct. 21-22

This event features holiday shopping, food trucks, snacks and drinks, and raffles. Tickets are $15 for the Friday evening opening event; $5 for the Saturday market. For more info, ocala.jl.org


Florida Horse Park Oct. 22

Tennessee Walking horses are the stars of this event, showing off their unique running walk and other breed-specific gaits. Classes include Show Pleasure and Trail Pleasure. For more info, flhorsepark.com


Downtown Ocala Oct. 22-23

More than 150 artists are expected to show their wares, including featured artist Kwang Cha Brown. The square bandstand will feature a variety of musicians. Food trucks scheduled are Big Lees BBQ, Papa Pineapple, Curbside Cuisine, Kona Ice, HumbleWood and the Krafty Kettle. Free to attend. For more info, fafo.org/festival


Southeastern Livestock Pavilion Oct. 26

Treats, games, kids’ activities, refreshments, vendors and a costume contest are on tap for this Halloween celebration. $5 for adults; free ages 12 and younger. Proceeds benefit the Humane Society of Marion County. For more info, thehsmc.org


Reilly Arts Center

Oct. 29-30

The Ocala Symphony Orchestra starts its season with classic performances of music that will chill and thrill you, such as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice , Night on Bald Mountain and The Golden Spinning Wheel . Tickets are $15-$40; see reillyartscenter.com for more info.


St. George Anglican Cathedra

Oct. 30

This show kicks off the new season with patriotic selections to honor the military. Concerts are free to attend and donations to fund the Grat L. Rosazza music scholarship are welcome. For more info, marionchorale.org


World Equestrian Center Dec. 9

This benefit concert for the Travis Mills Foundation, which supports injured veterans and their families, features Colt Ford and Kidd G, with headliner Jimmie Allen. A pre-concert block party with Chris McNeil will have contests, food trucks, a parachute show and more. Tickets are $78-$202. For more info, travismillsfoundation.org

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square feet of living space. The property, having been completely renovated, will certainly appease the senses. The fireplace is plumbed for gas or can be used with traditional logs. Adorned with river rocks, the fireplace is a focal fixture in the home. River rock adornment will also be seen on the exterior of the home. Still keeping with the use of the natural elements from the river, the wood flooring is Riverwood, reclaimed from the Suwannee River and restored by a local lumber company. Enjoy cooking in the kitchen with the commercial appliances, along with the look of the Quartzite stone countertops. Antique fixtures are throughout the home as the seller enjoyed the décor of historic San Francisco hotels. The mounted 1920’s reclaimed light fixtures and sconces in the home have been restored and are used throughout.

The master bathroom was inspired by the owner’s love of secret agent James Bond. The tub has a ceiling flow water feature and a round deep tub, perfect for soaking. The shower features black subway tile, two shower heads and a sauna feature.

Enjoy the outside while inside the home with the ceiling to floor windows giving you unobstructed views of the river. Enjoy entertaining from the main home to the boathouse. Completely redone along with the main home, the boathouse features beautiful cedarwood cathedral ceilings, along with the screened-in sitting area, dock, and boat lift. The lift can hold a 26-foot boat up to 6,000 pounds.

An incredible property and rare find. Contact Tunisia for additional information on this home. Suwannee River Gem”

Tunisia Abraham, Realtor ABR, MRP, GRI Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist 813.613.7544, Tunisia.abraham@premiersir.comphone

Women Caring for Women

This month, Dr. Michelle Wood joins Dr. Poorti Riley to bring obstetric care back to the Florida Women’s Health Center, again ensuring that women of all ages can find comprehensive obstetric and gynecology care in one location.

Dr. Riley has been in practice for more than 23 years and has served more than 40,000 patients in Marion County. In 2008, she stepped back from obstetrics to focus on gynecology. She says the decision to bring back obstetrics to the Women’s Health Center was an easy choice based on local “Thereneed.are very few female OB providers in Central Florida. With the recent loss of obstetric practices in Leesburg and female OB’s in Ocala, we have decided to start this specialty again so that women who prefer to be delivered by a female OB can stay in Ocala for their obstetric

care,” she explains.

“I am incredibly excited to join Dr. Riley,” says Dr. Wood. “Her dedication to women’s healthcare is inspiring. I am thrilled to add obstetrical care to her amazing team and look forward to enhancing Florida Women’s Health as well as the entire Ocala community.”

The duo says their combination of six female practitioners and list of services makes them stand out from other obstetrics and gynecology practices in Central Florida.

Riley performs robotic hysterectomies and pelvic surgery utilizing the cutting-edge daVinci technology. These less-invasive procedures typically allow patients to go home the same day and back to work in a week.

“We also do many other in-office surgeries and treatments, with anesthesia, for heavy bleeding

Florida Women’s Health offers cutting-edge robotic and in-office surgery options as well as high-quality obstetric care.

and gynecological issues in the office without having to go to the hospital,” Riley shares.

“We take care of women of all ages and specialize in doing minimally invasive surgery where patients have procedures done in our office without going to the hospital, same-day hysterectomy with people going back to work in one week and the treatment of all routine GYN issues, such as incontinence, pelvic floor therapy, ultrasound, prolapse, heavy irregular bleeding, painful periods and contraception, including IUD placement and infertility,” Riley adds.

One client’s testimony bears witness to the care provided by the Women’s Health Center team: “I highly recommend Dr. Riley. I came to her office in excruciating pain from a 22-centimeter fibroid that was pushing on my organs, distorted my uterus and caused severe bladder incontinence and other health issues. The initial process was friendly and compassionate, and staff were always kind and respectful. Dr. Riley took great care to see that my surgery would be as safe as possible. I even left the hospital the same day as my surgery. Dr. Riley literally saved my life and has given me back a life of much better quality. If she can help someone with as severe a case as mine, please

know you are in the best hands.”

When asked how being an all-female health provider impacts patient care, Riley quickly shares, “Empathy. Being women, we can understand their needs.”

Wood and Riley say they treat patients the way we all want to be treated.

“We treat our patients with respect, dignity and compassion. We want Ocala to have a place where women go to feel nurtured, important and valuable so we can keep them healthy to be the best moms, partners and professionals they can be,” Riley adds.

West Marion Medical Plaza 4600 S.W. 46th Court, Suite 150 Ocala, FL 34474 Phone: (352) 369-5999

Dr. Poorti Riley utilizes daVinci technology for cutting-edge surgeries.

Caring For Those With Cancer

HUGS Charities helps people take care of basic needs so they can focus on healing.

ith cancer, the little things matter just as much as the big things. That’s the philosophy of HUGS (Heartfelt Unconditional Giving) Charities, which was formed in 2009 to help Marion County residents who are actively undergoing cancer treatment and are experiencing a financial hardship.

Along with Manal Fakhoury, Michael Koontz founded the nonprofit after his nephew died of cancer. Koontz said he felt there were not many organizations in Ocala spreading awareness about cancer, so he created HUGS Charities to fill in the gap.

The goal of HUGS is to provide immediate temporary relief while helping find long-term financial solutions through collaborative efforts with The Cancer Alliance of Marion County.

Funding for HUGS comes primarily through an annual fundraiser, which recognizes a cancer survivor or someone who died from the disease, and individual donations.

The organization offers grants for a selected applicant’s greatest need, such as paying the rent,

keeping up with the utilities or filling up the gas tank so they can get to cancer treatments. The theory is that having the basics covered allows patients and families to focus on cancer treatments and healing.

An applicant must provide verification from a treatment center that they are under care for a cancer diagnosis or provide a copy of a bill for which they are requesting help. Funds are paid to the agency, such as a utility company, landlord or mortgage company. Help for food and gas is given in the form of gift cards.

“It’s crazy how little it takes to be of great benefit to some people,” Koontz says. “That niche is sort of where HUGS falls—the smaller amounts of money that really are vital but harder to come by. One of the nurses we honored at one of the events said they had a woman who missed her treatment because it was raining and she didn’t have windshield wipers. So, you know, little things like windshield wipers would be so beneficial to people like that.”

Dr. David Willis, Lisa McGuire, Amy Roberts, Al Lugo, Leigh Blair and Jessie Driggers
24 ocalastyle.comW

The nonprofit is volunteer-driven. Koontz is one of about 20 board members who devote their time to the charity.

Amy Roberts is chair of The Cancer Alliance of Marion County. The alliance leadership committee consists of representatives from local agencies such as the American Cancer Society, Robert Boissoneault Oncology Institute, HCA Florida Ocala Hospital, AdventHealth Ocala, Tobacco Free Florida Partnership, Hospice of Marion County, Sabal Direct Primary Care, Heart of Florida and We Care, Marion County Medical Society, Langley Health, Department of Health, Crippen and Company, and the Rural Women’s Health Project.

One recent example of an alliance outreach took place August 24th, when several team members gave an educational presentation about lung cancer screening to residents of the VFW Veteran’s Village in Fort McCoy.

“Basically, the cancer alliance is comprised of any agency healthcare system nonprofit that feels they want to help or has some impact in helping cancer patients,” Roberts explains. “The primary function of all the funds raised is to help the Patient Assistance Program.”

Next year’s HUGS fundraiser is set for February 23rd at Bank Street Bar & Grill in downtown Ocala.

To learn more, go to hugscharities.org

Jack Hall The Cancer Alliance of Marion County members accept a proclamation from Marion County
October ‘22 25 DOING GOOD CountyMarionofAllianceCancerTheofcourtesyphotoBottomAckerman.BrucebyphotoTop

Awareness and Action

The Cancer Alliance of Marion County, in partnership with HUGS Charities, works to help and support local cancer patients and their families. The alliance, in recognition of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, recently shared these statistics:

• In the United States, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and it is the second-leading cause of death from cancer.

• In Marion County, the age-adjusted death rate from breast cancer is 14.5 percent, compared to the state rate of 9.8 percent.

• The recommended screening test for breast cancer is mammography and it has been proven to significantly reduce breast cancer mortality risk by 30 percent.

• Screening utilization rates for women 40 and older in Marion County are below Florida as a whole and have been decreasing since 2007. Roughly half of Marion County women of screening age obtain their yearly mammogram, but increased awareness of the disease, access to prevention and early detection can save lives.

Amy K. Roberts, a licensed clinical social worker with the Robert Boissoneault Oncology Institute and chair of the alliance, says early detection outcomes may include decreased stress, better quality of life and“Forsurvival.those diagnosed with breast cancer, the institute offers social work programs free of charge

to anyone living in Citrus, Lake, Marion and Sumter counties, regardless of where they choose to have their cancer treated,” she shares. Those services include mental health counseling, support groups and a resource room with wigs, hats, scarfs and literature.

“We believe in giving back to the community and supporting anyone coping with a cancer diagnosis, struggling to adjust after a cancer diagnosis, or a family member of those dealing with cancer,” she offers.

According to Roberts, those needing assistance to obtain breast cancer screenings locally may find help through Michelle-OGram, which provides screenings for the unfunded or needy (michelleogram.com) and the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program, through the Florida Department of Health, which may provide free screenings for those who qualify cancer/breast-cancer/bccedp.html).(floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/

Jennifer McKathan, a regional Cancer Support Strategic Partnerships Manager with the American Cancer Society, says they provide one-on-one breast cancer support (Reach to Recovery) a 24/7 cancer support hotline, transportation and lodging assistance, and other patient programs and services (cancer.org/about-us/local/florida.html).

The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc., offers additional information and resources, including a full October calendar of daily discussion topics (nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancerawareness-month).

Help is available locally for those diagnosed with breast cancer.
October 8–December 11 COLLEGE OF CENTRAL FLORIDA Appleton Museum, Artspace and Store Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, noon-5 p.m. 4333 E. Silver Springs Blvd. | AppletonMuseum.org an equal opportunity college BLOW UP II: Inflatable Contemporary Art www.RAOcala.com 352-671-4300 Schedule MammogramYourTodayCLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Jennifer Fowler, Site Manager; Jammie Jones, Site Manager; Michele Barkley, Breast Cancer Survivor and MRI Supervisor; Carrie Law, Manager of Clinical Training and Development; Shawn Devilbiss, Human Resouces; Yvonne Seymor-Palmer, Breast Cancer Survivor and Scheduler; Amanda Yancey, Manager of Digital Marketing; Dr. Amanda Aulls, Director Of Women’s Imaging; Dr. Ridgely Meyers, Breast Imaging Specialist; Lindsey Caudill, Manager of Scheduling and Medical Records Br eastBr east Let’sLet’sIInvestigatorsnvestigatorsTheTheClosetheCaseonCancerClosetheCaseonCancer


February 22nd, 2022

Venue: Licciardello Farms

Photographer: Katelyn Virginia

Hair: Maria Agresti

Makeup: Soniyah Medina

Her favorite memory: “I remember feeling so blessed to be marrying my best friend and spending the evening celebrating our union with the ones closest to us. That, plus so many butterflies!”


April 23rd, 2022

Venue: Enchanted Oaks Farm and Lakehouse

Wedding Planner: Missy at Blessed Magnolia

Photographer: Eighteenth Hour Photography

Floral: Floral Architecture

Beauty Team: Truluck Studio and Studio Chic

Catering: La Casella Catering & Steph’s Sweets Boutique

Their favorite memory: “We walked down a dirt road at the end of the night toward our glamping A-frame, hand in hand, listening to the jovial sounds of loved ones dancing to live music which filled the air. There were glowing campfires speckled throughout the entire property and we had a moment together where it was just us two, able to process together everything our day had meant to us.”



For more than 70 years, the mission of the Ocala Civic Theatre (OCT) has been to uplift, inspire and entertain our community by providing quality theatrical experiences and offering performing arts education and enrichment programs. The educational offerings are available year-round and are open to learners of all ages through skill-building and performance classes. To those of us who have never availed ourselves of these programs, Terry LeCompte, the Director of Education and Enrichment at OCT, may seem like a bit of a hidden figure. But to those in the know, she is a force of nature behind the scenes...and occasionally center stage as well.

Left Photo: Terry LeCompte. Above from left, front row: Liam Ortiz and Caroline Overly; middle row: Grace DeClerk, Alessandra Mastroserio, Alexa Blanco and Bentley Johnson; back row: Benjamin Burnette, Tyler Ruiz, Aubrey Bush and Kiersten Farley.

Hair and makeup by Nicole “Nicci” Orio of Pretty n Pinned Select wardrobe by Dillard’s Market Street at Heath Brook Ocala
October ‘22 31

Terry LeCompte radiates a spirit of positivity. When she smiles, which she does often, her powerful grin travels up and lights her expressive eyes with a joyful exuberance. She has an easy laugh and frequently replies in an enthusiastically positive way, often adding an encouraging “right” to the end of each sentence—as if punctuating it with an affirmation. In a less sincere person, it might come across as an affectation, but spend a little time with her and it becomes clear that LeCompte’s zest for life is the real deal.

“I love, love, love, love learning,” she enthuses. “I’m ridiculous in my love for learning things.”

After attending Rutgers University in New Jersey, she studied acting at the famed HB Studios and The New School in New York City. But she calls herself a work in progress and a lifelong Andwantedsaywas“Whenlearner.mygrandmotherinher80s,shewouldstillshedidn’tknowwhatshetobewhenshegrewup.mymom,who’snowinher 70s, says the same thing, even though she had a full career as a teacher,” she explains. “I love school. When I lived in New York City, I was a working equity actor, but I still took classes. If I had $10 in my pocket, I would use it to drop into a musical theater or acting class. Right now, I am looking at an online program for business certification. I’m never going to say I’m finished learning. And I try to really impart that to our learners here, too. I mean, you don’t take one class in tap dance and now you’re a tap dancer, right?”

She says she is reminded of her desire to stay open to all the possibilities on a daily basis.

“I realize from talking with so many people in this community, it’s not that easy for people to figure out what they want to be...what they want to do.”

Given her passion to continually expand her own horizons, it is particularly fitting that LeCompte heads up OCT’s education and enrichment program, a role that she says helps prepare her students to build confidence and life skills that will serve them in any field they choose.

“You’re going to be successful whether you decide to be an actor, a store manager or a lawyer,” she asserts. “Because when you are here, we are building your crucial skills, communication skills and your character.”

LeCompte was hand-picked for the role by Mary Britt, the theater’s longtime executive director, shortly before her death in the spring of 2019. Britt was a visionary leader and beloved by the community.

“Mary was a driving force for the theatre and the arts community. She spearheaded, along with a cadre of dedicated individuals and dreamers, a drive to build a quality facility,” OCT board member, actor and director Fred Mullen says of Britt. “The result of her efforts over the years has taken the Ocala Civic Theatre from a small local troupe to a theater now regarded as one of the top 10 community theater groups in the country.”

That reputation and Britt’s passion were a big part of what attracted LeCompte to relocate to Ocala and take on the challenge of growing the theater’s education

“There’sprograms.alwaysa struggle with theaters to balance art and education,” LeCompte offers. “If they’re smart, they realize that education is what funds the art. Mary knew that. Anyone who was friends with her will say that Mary knew that education was where it was at. She brought me here from New York, so she made a really big commitment. The program was in need of a complete overhaul. I feel incredibly fortunate that Mary trusted me with the program. I’m forever grateful for that.”

As director of education and enrichment, LeCompte creates the programming and training opportunities available at the theater and oversees a staff of eight paid teaching artists and a part-time arts program coordinator.

“We create programming that’s differentiated based on age and experience levels. The important thing to note is that all of the training that we do here for youth and for adults is practical and hands on. We’re not a princess party babysitting thing. You come here and you learn how to act, how to sing and how to dance,” she explains. “All of the training that we do here is practical and hands on for children as young as 5, all the way up to adults who are 105 years old. I’ve taken this program to pre-professional training.”

But she doesn’t just administrate. She teaches, directs and runs extension activities, as well as the programming that goes into schools. She also has some ambitious ideas about programs she would like to develop to help grow the reach and offerings OCT provides, but still struggles with funding, even with the education and enrichment endowment Britt gifted them when she died.

“There’s some seed money, but not money to develop the wing that I would love to have,” LeCompte says with a laugh. “It is needed because we are growing all of the time, growing beyond what our resource capacities are in terms of space, time and

We’re not a princess party babysi ing thing. You come here and you learn how to act, how to sing and how to dance. All of the training that we do here is practical and hands on.
32 ocalastyle.com

teaching artists. Currently, we only have from about 4:30 until about 7 o’clock every evening to provide programming here and that’s because that is when this building shifts into getting the productions up. So, that’s not a lot of time when you’ve got 125 students.”


What is especially meaningful for LeCompte are the people with whom she has formed relationships through her role at the theatre.

“I appreciate the sense of community within the families that are involved here, because I didn’t have a lot of experience in that before,” she shares. “I really, truly love that we’re so close.”

And the feeling seems to be entirely mutual.

“Terry gives all she has to the theater, and then she gives some more,” asserts OCT board member Jeanne Henningsen. “That’s just who she is. Terry devotes her heart and soul to the theater. Our daughter Juliana has taken classes and has thoroughly enjoyed her experience. In fact, every parent I know who has a child involved at OCT has been very impressed by the talent, professionalism and supportiveness of the staff. She loves those kids like they are her own.”

For 16-year-old Aubrey Bush, it’s the example of “how she is the true version of herself and doesn’t care what others think of her” that has made a lasting impression and ignited her passion. “She makes learning enjoyable,” Bush explains. “She makes me love theater more and more.”

But LeCompte also is helping them to develop vital life skills and build community.

“My experiences with Mrs. LeCompte and the education program at OCT have helped me become more confident” 13-year-old Alessandra Mastroserio shares. “She has helped me pursue my love of acting in a great environment where I can be myself. I feel that it’s my home away from home and I’ve made wonderful friends. I love being there!”

Included in that community, which LeCompte lovingly calls the OCT family, are the teaching artists she has brought on board during her tenure.

Mario Villella is one of those artists, who first came to the theater as a performer.

“I am a parent of two of Terry’s students and I was impressed with the way she was able to immediately influence the culture of whatever room she is in. It seemed that she was able to teach lessons, off the top of her head, that would have taken me hours to prepare,” Villella explains. “Unlike most of the parents who send their kids to theater arts camp, I actually got to watch how she taught my kids. My children participated and loved it!”

This opportunity came when LeCompte offered Villella a position to join her team.

“I worked with Mario on OCT’s production of Beauty and the Beast. Since we were not in many scenes together, I was able to observe his work ethic while he rehearsed,” she explains. “We had a couple of good conversations where he shared his collegiate

From left: Alexa Blanco, Grace DeClerk, Bentley Johnson, Caroline Overly, Aubrey Bush, Alessandra Mastroserio, Tyler Ruiz, Kiersten Farley, Liam Ortiz and Terry LeCompte.
October ‘22 33

theater training with me, his work as an actor and teaching artist, his journey to youth ministry and then pastoral call. I have always joked that actors, lawyers and clergy have the same job. Except it isn’t a joke. The three occupations share the same skillset and they are part of what I look for in our education team. To be a teaching artist at OCT, you must be equal parts educator, artist and youth developer. We require a minimum of three years post-high school training in your theater discipline, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, professionalism inside and outside the classroom, and a background in directing or education.”

Another individual who has benefited from LeCompte’s mentoring is Kiersten Farley, who is both a student and OCT’s arts program coordinator.

“Not only are students able to develop their theater techniques, they are also learning how to be kind and supportive individuals to one another,” Farley offers. “Having the chance to work closely with Ms. LeCompte has given me the chance to see how a room should be run in a fun, educational and professional manner. What makes her so special is that she really cares about each individual person. Whether you’re in her class, coming to see a show or running into her at the coffee shop, she will take the time to listen and

Terry gives all she has to the theater, and then she gives some more. That’s just who she is.
Jeanne Henningsen
34 ocalastyle.com

be there with you in the moment. Being a part of the program has changed me for the better as a teaching artist, a performer and a person.”


LeCompte was fortunate to discover her chosen vocation early in life and realize that her road to success would be in melding two distinct elements into one fulfilling career.

“When I was in third grade, I did a report about wanting to be a teacher like my mom,” she recalls. “I arranged a photo shoot. I had props and costumes. I created this whole story, this scene, for this teacher. And, at 11, I did my first play and that was it. I was the King in a version of Huckleberry Finn. Right after that I was cast as Pinocchio. And the rest is history.”

But what made her journey from there forward unique was her drive to unite her two passions.

“What I’ve been so fortunate to do, because of the right mentors in my life, is to realize that I can be a professional performing artist and I can be an educator,” she shares. “There’s a whole career that is called ‘teaching artist.’ The first time I remember taking a leadership role as an educating artist was after high school. My drama teacher asked me to come back and help coach their theater competition teams. Throughout my career, it has been about what opportunity is presenting itself.”

The next opportunity she found not only allowed her to hone her craft, but she credits it for changing the course of her life.

“I started working professionally for this company called the Shoestring Players while I was still in New Jersey. It was a theater company for young audiences and was nationally renowned. We would do four international folk tales. They were hysterically funny. Eight actors would play 25 roles and create all the things the story needed with nothing but basic costumes and percussion instruments. We would have to be whatever was

called for...the drawbridge, the spooky forest, a blizzard,” she explains. “The physicality of that kind of work just expanded everything for me. I worked for them as an actor and as a teaching artist. We went into schools where we would direct different Shoestring stories and then they would present their own shows. So, I’ve directed hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people over my career just from that alone. That was my first professional job and even after we moved to New York City I still worked for them because I loved it so much.”

LeCompte and her husband, Jim Foster (who is the production manager at OCT) first met in high school and, as she says, they “made all of the big scary jumps together” towards their goal of each being a part of the New York theater community, albeit in very different areas.

“We met doing theater when we were teenagers,” she shares. “Making all these moves with my husband was very fortunate for me. His career in theater has always been in production management and technical direction. He went right from college to one full-time job after another. He was never eager to leave New York City because he always had such

Terry LeCompte with Conley Todd in OCT’s Beauty and the Beast. An 11 LeCompteyear-oldin Pinocchio.
October ‘22 35
Clockwise from top: From left, Caroline Overly, Aubrey Bush, Bentley Johnson, Benjamin Burnette, Grace DeClerk, Tyler Ruiz and Liam Ortiz; Daniel Boodoo and Aubrey Bush perform in Xanadu Jr.; the cast of Seussical Jr. on stage.; Terry LeCompte with Alexis Benitez in Matilda.

prestigious work. But my ‘prestigious’ work always took me out of the city.”

Some of those opportunities found her working with such esteemed talents as musical theater lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz, who has written such hit musicals as Godspell, Pippin and Wicked

Over the course of the next 15 years, their careers flourished and brought them much joy, as well as some challenges. Through it all, LeCompte seized all kinds of opportunities and decided what direction she wanted her life and career to take.

“9/11 happened and everything changed,” she remembers. “The theater world shifted and when it started to revitalize an interesting thing happened. They started bringing in TV and movie stars. So everybody, wherever you were on the ladder, got knocked down a couple of pegs because the top tier has now gone to Ethan Hawke, Nathan Lane and these giant stars. The thing is, I had so many other interests and I was still acting. But I didn’t have the drive to get up and get in line at 4 o’clock in the morning in February, in a snowstorm, and stand in a line around the equity building to get my appointment for the day. So, I started doing shows if somebody asked me to, like offBroadway stuff. I did a lot of singing with groups and at cabarets. But I stopped going to equity Broadway calls. I had friends who were doing Broadway and I saw that it was so hard. They didn’t have any life outside of it. Eight shows a week and you sleep in between. But I was always flexing my acting muscles and still teaching. I have always been able to shift gears and luckily not have to wait tables.”

In addition to performing, she was a tour guide at Lincoln Center and had an opportunity to train future teachers at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

“A woman who I was friends with worked there and was a writer. She asked me if I could coach her because she had to go to these conferences to pitch her books. Then she brought me to Columbia to teach this workshop called Classroom Presence. I went in and I taught them how to just communicate in a room, how to change the energy and those sorts of things. I got to do that for a few years.”

She also discovered that she could get paid to act and practice her improv skills as something called a “standardized patient” and “standardized client” performer for medical schools and law schools, where she would play the part of someone suffering

with certain medical symptoms or going through a divorce in order to allow the students to develop their interpersonal skills.

She also had opportunities that took her on the road to direct productions such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in places like Alaska and Colorado.

And as much as she enjoyed each new challenge, she ultimately found it unfulfilling going from one project to another and bidding farewell to her collaborators each“Itime.wasalways freelance and I was always saying goodbye. That’s exhausting,” she admits. “And I didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted one community. Jim was getting to the point where he could also see a life outside of New York City, so we just made a decision to throw our resumes in the air. I’m not here because I didn’t make it in New York. I’m here because I wanted to have a different kind of life. I did it for 15 years, so I bring a lot to the table. It’s New York City training right here in Ocala.”

She also still gets to perform occasionally and has been praised for her willingness to jump in to sub for an actor when the need arises.

“My first year, they lost Mrs. Phelps in Matilda during tech week, so I stepped in,” she explains. “And then, the morning of our final performance of Seussical Jr. for our Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory, I got a call that the actress playing Mrs. Mayor had tested positive for COVID. Everybody was already on the way to the theatre so I was like, ‘Well, I guess I’m playing Mrs. Mayor today.’”

But she was also persuaded by several of her students to play Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast earlier this year.

“I definitely got a charge from doing that” she says. “Some of my students were in it, so it was a blast!”

Here in Ocala, she has found that community she was looking for and a way to utilize her many talents.

“I just love it. I love the students, the youth and the adults. I love the families. I love having this as my playground. I love that my husband is here,” she enthuses. “When people say something nice to me about what I do here, my response, from my heart, is ‘Are you kidding?’ It’s my honor to do it. It’s my privilege. Like, how lucky am I, right?”

For more information, visit ocalacivictheatre.com/ education-enrichment

I’m not here because I didn’t make it in New York. I’m here because I wanted to have a different kind of life. I did it for 15 years, so I bring a lot to the table. It’s New York City training right here in Ocala.
October ‘22 37
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m usic for all

The Reilly Arts Center’s OSO Community Music Conservatory is off to a rousing start.

The Reilly Arts Center is named in honor of Robert Reilly, a philanthropist and patron of the arts who donated a large sum of money toward the initial renovation of the former city auditorium in memory of his late wife, Bonnie.

That renovation was completed in 2015 and another renewal and expansion project was launched in late 2020. In between those endeavors, Pamela Calero Wardell, executive director of the Reilly, which is the home of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra (OSO), recalls boardroom conversations in which “Bob Reilly wanted to see something that brought together seniors and youth.”

When floor plans were defined for the recent expansion, they included plenty of space for educational programming. The OSO

Community Music Conservatory, a gift of the David and Lisa Midgett Foundation, has succeeded in meeting Bob Reilly’s goal. Since classes began in June, the conservatory has seen a range of ages and interests in students.

“Our oldest student is in his 80s and our youngest is 6,” shares Margaret Dixon, the Reilly’s director of education and community outreach. “We’ve had students join who have played one instrument and are hoping to play another, some who are picking up an instrument for the first time and others who are just coming for more help on an instrument they are already playing. We even had grandparents and their grandkids home from college come to our Music with the Maestro lecture series together.”

Linda Howell, 67, is taking violin lessons

Kathryn Poore and Annaleigh Kosuchowski
October ‘22 39

through the conservatory. She says she tried group lessons eight years ago but was disappointed with the results.

“When I saw what they had to offer was one-on-one, it interested me,” she says of the conservatory. “The fee is reasonable and I liked how the program beareshemorewantstoprovidingcommitmentwebackground—leveltheeducationtocentralconservatory’sWardellteaching.”andlovewellprogram.advantagepeopleImusiciansplaysometosongsit.Iisplayingpresented.wasIfeeltheviolinachallengeandlovethesoundofTherearemanyIwouldlikemasterand,atpoint,maybewithotherforfun.wouldencouragetotakeoftheItisveryorganized.ItheteacherhermethodofCalerosaysthemissionisprovidemusicforall.“Nomatterage,skilloreconomicmaintainatoaccessanyonewhotolearnaboutmusic,”notes.“Wefortunatetoableutilize the unique weandopportunitiestalentthathavewiththe

Ocala Symphony Orchestra and Reilly Arts Center in this endeavor. This includes instruction by world-class musicians, opportunities to perform with members of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra and enriching classes that enhance daily life and concert experiences.”Theconservatory, or CMC, offers private

instruction on almost every band and orchestra instrument, as well as for guitar, electric bass, folk strings, piano and drums. There are group classes for younger musicians in orchestral strings (violin, viola and cello), bucket drumming and brass


our community, and building the student scholarship program. It is our ultimate goal that at least half of the spots in our classes and lessons are available to those who need financial support (and that we have that support to give them).”

Dixon says the curriculum for conservatory classes was created by the instructors and

No ma er the age, skill level or economic background— we maintain a commitment to providing access to anyone who wants to learn more about music.
— Pamela Calero Wardell
40 ocalastyle.com

revolves around the specific ability and progress of each individual student or class of students.“Thestructure and offerings of the CMC as a whole are things that I had spent several years brainstorming and putting together,” she shares. “After close to two decades of working with schools and community programs and teaching privately, I kept running into the same basic community needs over and over again. And that’s what I based our structure and class offerings off of. What is it that people need and how can we bridge the gap between music and school, and music for life?”

She says the overall goal is to teach anyone who wants to learn.

“There are different classes to reach different age groups and skill levels,” Dixon explains. “With our scholarship program, we hope to target young students who really want to learn but need the financial support. Additionally, the conservatory is a place where we hope to see a family unit growing together in their love and appreciation of music. Through the various group classes and lifelong learning style lectures, there’s a fit for Performanceeveryone.” spaces at the Reilly include teaching studios, the 700seat mainstage auditorium and

the NOMA Black Box theater. In that space one Saturday morning in late July, about 20 students in grades 3-8 participated in the Buckets and Boomwhackers class, which is an introduction to basic rhythm and percussion. And when you put eager youngsters together with drumsticks, upside down buckets and plastic tubes, you will experience plenty of percussion!NatalieDib, whose son Oliver, 10, was among the group, said he had been taking drumming lessons at a local church.

“He has never played in a group before and I wanted him to experience music with a group so he could see where he is and have
Buckets and Boomwhackers class Margaret Dixon

interaction with other kids his age and with the same interests,” she offers. “We’ll see how he likes Dixonthis.”says the group classes “will grow with our students.”

“A family may enroll in a mommy and me class with their infant and, after a few years, that child may go into a bucket drumming class and then into a steel pan ensemble and maybe into a community band or orchestra group,” she enthuses. “In private lessons, each lesson should push you further in your playing and development. We hope that lifelong musical learning will happen at the conservatory.”LisaMidgett says she and her husband, David, made their sponsorship gift for the music conservatory in memory of their mothers, who both were singers. His mother also was an educator. She says the conservatory’s goal of offering access to affordable lessons fulfills the mission of their foundation.“Welove any initiative that makes art accessible to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay,” she explains. “A child’s involvement in the arts is important to all of us, as statistics have shown that a student who participates in the arts outperforms

their peers from 14 percent to 20 percent in English, math and social studies. For the next generation of leaders, the arts are a necessary part of their education.”

As for the long-range goals for the program, Calero Wardell says, “I always like to say that, in a nutshell, the goal of the CMC is to provide quality music education from birth to earth!”

She says the conservatory fills the gap between learning an instrument in school and being proficient enough to play in a community ensemble or a professional ensemble.“Weare the place where adults can come to pick up a new hobby, family members of all ages can bond through music, or where an aspiring band student comes to get the help they need to get into their dream school,” she notes. “The music industry can be cumbersome and difficult to navigate without the right connections. We provide those connections and serve to level the playing field; we ensure that everyone has access to quality music education and the tools that they need to be successful.”

To learn more about the Community Music Conservatory, go to community-conservatoryreillyartscenter.com/

Kathryn Poore and Linda Howell
42 ocalastyle.com


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History Keepers Brian Stoothoff

Meet the researcher and ByresponsibleprimarilycollectorfororganizingtheimpressiveOcalaFireMuseum.

In 1827, Fort King was constructed east of present-day Ocala. Marion County was established in 1844, with Fort King as the county seat. In 1846, Ocala became the county seat. The city consisted of a sprawling 80 blocks around a public square, with mostly wooden structures ranging from homes to businesses to hotels.

On Thanksgiving Day 1883, a fire began to rage at the Benjamin & Company Store and quickly spread. The inferno consumed buildings over an area spanning about five blocks.

After the disaster, some residents were inspired to lobby for an organized fire brigade. Fire bonds were sold to raise funds and, by 1885, Ocala had its first fire department. The rebuilding effort also brought the town the nickname of Brick City.

The 137-year history of the fire department can now be explored through the Ocala Fire Museum, located at the city’s first responder campus at 505 NW Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., which also houses Ocala Fire Rescue (OFR) administration offices and Fire Station 1, an Ocala Police Department substation, a basketball court and a community room.

The museum has been a labor of love for more than three decades for former OFR Assistant Chief Brian Stoothoff. It also is the perfect endeavor for a man who has an abiding appreciation for firefighting as a career and a staunch commitment to preserving history, which is also carried out through his involvement with the Historic Ocala Preservation Society.

Amassing Memorabilia Stoothoff grew up on Long Island in New York. As a child, he loved history and traveling. His father was a New York City firefighter and Stoothoff says he grew up knowing it was a noble profession but not “initially on my radar” as a career.

October ‘22 45

Stoothoff moved to Ocala in 1978 to attend college “and enjoy the Florida weather.” He graduated from what was then the Central Florida Community College and later from the University of Florida (UF).

“It was while I was attending UF that I realized accounting might not actually be the best profession for me,” he recalls. “I wanted to do something with my life that was truly exciting, and I really liked the idea of helping people in their time of need. Thus, I enrolled at the fire college.”

After he graduated from the Florida State Fire College in 1982, he began working for the City of Ocala as a throwout.’attic‘Gonewchief,shares,firefighter,paramedic.certificationafter,technician.emergencyfirefighter/medicalSoonheobtainedasaAsanewStoothoff“Thefiremebeingtheguy,wouldsay,cleanouttheandthrowstuffButIcouldn’titout.”Eventually,heamassed a huge assortment of memorabilia.“Asanavid researcher, I have been reading and learning about the history of the fire service since I became a firefighter. I have visited fire museums and fire stations throughout the world and have learned something from each one,” he shares. “Although originally it was not my intention to be the curator of a fire museum, in retrospect it was probably inevitable given my interest and growing collection of memorabilia. The Ocala Fire Museum was made possible due to support from city management and fire administration. Olivia Ortiz helped me in creating the first museum, which was in the prior fire administration building.”

Ortiz is married to OFR Capt. Anthony Ortiz. She knew Stoothoff had collected a lot of material and when she saw it, she told him, “You have enough stuff to do a museum.”

“And he said, ‘I was hoping you might want to help me,’ and I said, ‘Sure,” she remembers. “He had so much cool stuff. It started out with a little display case at Station 1 and then we worked on it for a year and half, two years, and by the time you knew it, we had a whole dang fire museum.”

The Museum

Firefighters have contributed the majority of the items in the museum, but some were donated by citizens.

On a recent morning, Stoothoff received a visit from Ocala native Patti Jo Lynn, whose father Chuck Spray was fire chief in the 1970s and ‘80s. She donated a full-page article printed in 1962 in the Ocala Star-Banner , which pictured her father and discussed safety on the water during summer vacation.

“I decided to donate this because I thought everybody should see it,” Lynn offers. “My daddy was a member of search and rescue. He would go and save a lot of people. I’m very proud of my dad.” Stoothoff says the museum organizers are grateful for the thousands of artifacts that are now on “Somedisplay.of the museum’s oldest items date back to the 19th Century,” he marvels. “I have two favorites: the oldest item and one of the newest acquisitions. The oldest is the only known fi reman’s badge that still exists, which dates from the 1880s. Although the name of the wearer is unknown, I envision that person was physically fi t, brave and had a desire to help other people; similar traits to those who wear a badge

“Thetoday.other item special to me,’’ he continues, “is a piece of severely distorted steel from the collapse of the World Trade Centers on Sept. 11th, 2001. I was able to obtain the 40-pound steel segment from the Port Authority after visiting New York. Sadly, 343 FDNY firefighters died that day, but to me it represents the commitment that first responders make every day to help others, even in the face of grave danger.”

The Ocala Fire Museum is designed to be viewed as a progressive timeline.

“These are some of our earliest artifacts,” Stoothoff says, pointing to one wall as a starting point. “This is an original photo from 1891. It has all the firemen’s names on it. It was photographed on the downtown square. You know where the new hotel is? Well, there’s been a hotel there since 1846. This shows the firemen in front of it and how they pulled the fire hose cart by hand.”

Pointing to a large piece of engraved marble, he adds, “This came out of the fire station that

The Ocala Fire Museum tells a story and helps preserve history for future generations. Perhaps a child who visits the museum will one day become one of our hometown heroes.
46 ocalastyle.com
Brian Stoothoff displays an artifact from the World Trade Center

was downtown, where the parking garage is today. It was constructed in 1894, of brick.”

A few feet away, he indicates a segment of the brass sliding pole from that station.

Bringing attention to a framed newspaper article, he continues, “Ocala burned down in 1883, on Thanksgiving Day. It burned five square blocks downtown, including the newspaper office. So, they sent a rider on horseback to Palatka, which was the nearest printing press, and this was printed two days later. This is a copy of the Ocala Banner , which became the Ocala Star-Banner , and it describes the great fire.”

Stoothoff says post-fire efforts raised enough money to form the fire department and to build three fire stations. Numerous historic photographs document those buildings, and subsequent ones, along with the faces and names of the firemen of the time.

Among the earliest artifacts is a fire rattle, a wooden device that emits a shrill grating noise

when activated by hand. Over time, the rattles were replaced with fire alarm boxes, and there are several, all painted bright red, in the museum.

“In the 1800s, there was no telephone, there was no way to report a fire, other than the rattle, so they started to install fire alarm boxes,” he says. “Ocala had ones just like this on the downtown square.”

Fire alerts also came in the form of fire bells. A massive one was part of the station built in Ocala in 1894. That bell, manufactured in 1889 in Baltimore, is now mounted for public viewing near the Institute of Human and Machine Cognition campus in downtown Ocala.

Among the varied displays in the museum are competition ribbons from the late 1800s, receipts from organizations the fire department did business with back in the 1920s and ‘30s, fire department patches and helmets from around the world, and a handful of mounted metal plaques that pique interest.

“Back in the 1800s, when you had fire insurance on your home, you would mount one of those to your house,” Stoothoff notes. “If the fire department showed up and you didn’t have an insurance plaque, they didn’t put out your fire.”

Along with several fire hydrants, there is a section of an old wooden log.

“Back in early 1800s, they would take a log pole and hollow it out and that was your water line,” Stoothoff says. “In the event of fire, they would dig down through the dirt and puncture the log to get water for the fire hose. After the fire, they took a wooden plug and plugged it back up, which is why we still call them fire plugs today.”

One display, which he calls a “pretty neat find,” is a hose table, which stands on a spindle about 4 feet high and has a rotating wooden top that is supported by a wooden wheel spoke and is used as a platform on which to wind up the heavy fire hoses.

“For years we used this; never really gave it any thought,” Stoothoff reminisces. “When I saw this one day by chance, I thought, ‘This is really old.’ I found a newspaper article from 1933, where the firemen hand-built this. I believe it’s a wheel from a chief’s decommissioned vehicle. It works just as fine today as when it was made,” he says, grinning as he gives it a spin.

One of the largest items on display is a life net, which would have been used to catch someone

48 ocalastyle.com

jumping from a structure. Other artifacts include early medical equipment and rare fire extinguishers, toys, fire suits and memorabilia from a fire at a church.

“The largest fire I know of in Ocala, other than the great fire, was an arson fire at the First Baptist Church in 1991… a guy burned 23 churches in the southeastern U.S.,” he offers. “He is still serving time in federal prison.”

Past And Future

Marion County’s resident movie star John Travolta is featured in a fire museum display with a poster and autographed script from the film Ladder 49, starring him and Joaquin Phoenix.

And speaking of movies, Stoothoff also has put his affinity for historic research to work in documenting films made in Ocala, including It’s The Old Army Game , a 1926 silent comedy starring W.C. Fields and Louise Brooks.

“It was filmed almost entirely in Ocala,” he says. “It has the fire department in it. You can see the fire alarm box like we have here. There are scenes in what is now Harry’s. You can see the old courthouse, old hotel. It’s a fabulous movie.”

As for how he feels about being a documentarian and history keeper, Stoothoff says he considers himself fortunate to appreciate the“Ipast.have been described as being detail oriented, which makes this passion as a historian easy and enjoyable for me,” he expresses. “I

believe the world is a better place when we do something well that enriches the lives of others. I am grateful I have been surrounded by good friends and a supportive wife, and that I have been given the opportunity to create a wonderful exhibit for the citizens of Ocala and visitors to our community to explore.

“I believe for a while, certain stories may be passed along to others verbally; however, often with time, the message can get distorted, or even worse, may get lost forever,” he adds. “Conserving, preserving and maintaining the history of the fire service promotes an understanding of the similarities and advancements the profession has made during the past two centuries. The Ocala Fire Museum helps inspire and educate people. It tells a story and helps preserve history for future generations. Who knows? Perhaps a child who visits the museum will one day become one of our hometown heroes.”

OFR Chief Clint Welborn concurs.

“In a profession where traditions are upheld and progress is largely obtained through lessons learned,” he offers, “I believe that preserving and sharing our history is of utmost importance.”

Entry to the Ocala Fire Museum is free and open to the public 8am to 4pm Mondays through Fridays. To request access, call (352) 629-8306. To learn more about Ocala Fire Rescue, go to ocalafire.org

October ‘22 49
50 ocalastyle.com Membership is open to anyone in Alachua, Marion, Lake, Levy, and Sumter counties.2 1. Credit approval and initial $50 opening deposit required. Member must elect to receive eDocuments. 2. Credit approval and initial $5 deposit required. 3. U.S. checking or savings account required to use Zelle®. Transactions between enrolled users typically occur in minutes and generally do not incur transaction fees. Zelle® and the Zelle® related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC and are used herein under license. Insured by the NCUA. CAMPUS CHECKING IS THERE FOR YOU NO MONTHLY FEE or minimumrequirementbalance1 ONLINE & MOBILE banking with online bill pay and mobile deposits ZELLE® Transfer funds instantly between accounts with Zelle®³ Open a free checking account today¹ Open an account at campuscu.com Call 352-237-9060 and press 5 Visit campuscu.com to find a CAMPUS Service Center “CAMPUS is there through all the game changing moments in your life.” Steve Spurrier - Head Ball Coach Member


Fresh and Delicious Seafood

Florida’s Big Bend area is famous for its wide variety of seafood, which will be showcased during two upcoming festivals.

Celebrating Seafood

Fall in Florida usually brings with it a slight cooling of summer’s hot temperatures and some amazing sunsets. The season always brings with it a variety of festivals to celebrate everything from antiques to zucchini.

Two of the most popular, and longest-running, fall events in this region highlight the delectable seafood that is native to the Big Bend area of our beloved Sunshine State.

The 52nd annual Cedar Key Seafood Festival is set for October 15th and 16th and the 41st annual Yankteetown Art, Crafts & Seafood Festival will take place November 19th and 20th.

Cedar Key Seafood Festival

This annual fundraiser is organized by the Cedar Key Lions Club. It includes arts and crafts, entertainment and a parade, but it is best known for the local seafood offerings, which are prepared by people who live on

and near the island community.

“This is one of the oldest such festivals in the state,” says club member Rory Brennan. “It started and remains a fundraiser for local nonprofits. There are no outside food vendors. It’s very real, very local.”

“You’ll see Uncle Jimmy frying fish and oystermen cooking oysters,” echoes Anna Hodges, who comes from a family of Cedar Key clammers. She has helped organize the festival for years and is the current executive director of the Cedar Key Historical Society and Museum. “It’s beautiful. Those oystermen will donate those oysters, which have a high value this time year, to sell to keep their association going strong, for example.”

Hodges says the arts and crafts vendors pay the Lions Club for their spaces and that money also goes back to the community.

“This is the biggest fundraiser of the year and helps every nonprofit in Cedar Key,” she shares. “I think this is one of the last festivals where a community comes to-

Two fall festivals will showcase local clams, crabs, fish, oysters and shrimp.

gether and works together for a common cause.”

The festival will run 10am to 5pm on Saturday, October 15th, with the parade stepping off at 11am. It continues from 10am to 4pm on Sunday, October 16th. The festival occupies parts of State Route 24, which is the only road onto the island, as well as most of Second Street and Beach Front City Park. The island is 50 miles southwest of Gainesville.

Festival admission is free. Some free parking is available. Some area organizations and individuals may offer parking for a fee.

Festival Food in the Park vendors only accept cash. Other vendors accept cash, checks and credit cards, however, because the microwave tower sometimes get overloaded, mobile credit card units may not work.

To learn more, go to FB.com/cedarkeylions

Yankeetown Art, Crafts & Seafood Festival

The Inglis/Yankeetown Lions Club organizes this event.

“It’s in the quaint town of Yankeetown, with beautiful tree-lined streets on the edge of the Withlacoochee River,” shares Steve Norton, chairman of this year’s festival. “We have unique arts and crafts, such as artistic driftwood and custom furniture. One guy who build birdhouses actually lives on the festival site. And, of course, we’ll have delicious seafood and other festival

delicacies, like gyros and funnel cakes.”

Proceeds from the festival, which includes live entertainment, support charitable causes such as the Lions Club’s Eyesight Assistance Program.

The festival site is 6301 Riverside Drive, Yankeetown. Admission is free. There will be free and paid parking. Hours are 9am to 5pm on Saturday, November 19th and 9am to 4pm on Sunday, November 20th.

To learn more, go to yankeetownseafoodfestival.com or leave a message at 352-505-7936 to receive a return call.

Visiting the Nature Coast

The Levy County Visitors Bureau offers a wealth of information about the many activities along the Big Bend area, which includes Cedar Key and Yankeetown, both in Levy County. The area has a long history of reliance on shellfish, such as oysters, crabs, shrimp and clams. Today, clam aquaculture has replaced gill net fishing as the mainstay for many watermen.

As you stroll the neighborhoods of these coastal towns, a common site will be stacked crab traps. Succulent clams, freshly shucked oysters, soft shell crab or stone crab claws can be found on many menus. And, with every bite, you get a taste of the sea and a sense of history.

To learn more, go to visitnaturecoast.com

Sponsored Brennan.RorybyPhotosFestival.sCraftandArtsright,LowerParade.SeafoodGirlsSpiced,leftLowerBoil.ClamKeyCedar,leftTopBureau.VisitorsCountyLevyofCourtesynetting:castSunsetright,Top

The Canoe Carver of Silver Springs

rom the 1920s through the 1960s, families of Seminole and Miccosukee people from South Florida traveled to Silver Springs to work in the tourist camp there. The camps vaguely resembled their traditional family camps in the Everglades, but with electricity and gawking tourists. Tribal members would stay at the camps for short stretches of time to demonstrate traditional crafts such as patchwork sewing and to sell souvenirs.

Visitors saw a limited version of a traditional “clan” camp, where an extended family or clan lived together. The cook fire was the center of the camp and was arranged in a special pattern—four logs, like spokes, each burning at the hub, were pushed together or pulled apart to control the heat. Individual chickees, covering raised platforms, were for sleeping, sewing and making crafts. Mosquito nets were essential for sleeping.

Camp life was a way to make a living when Native Americans in Florida did not have many other options. The Glades had been heavily altered to create new farmland and vast swaths of South Florida were now fenced, ending the days of open ranges and living off the land by original Floridians. During the 20th century, Seminole and Miccosukee people faced discrimination and many jobs were not open to them. Working as a laborer or hunting guide or posing for photos at a tourist camp were how most folks got by.

The earliest camp at Silver Springs was Metzger’s Seminole Village, run by a fellow named Charles Metzger. He was not popular with the families at the camp. One story helps explain why.

Charlie Cypress, a well-known canoe carver, was seriously injured with an axe while hewing out a cypress log. He needed medical attention and Metzger ignored him, which was not only

wrong but quickly resulted in the failure of his business operation in Silver Springs. Ross Allen, who ran the Reptile Institute at Silver Springs, took Charlie to the hospital in Ocala and likely saved his life. After the accident, Charlie’s family refused to deal with Metzger, and the camp became part of Ross Allen’s Reptile Institute. Older tribal members in South Florida still speak of the event today, and Ross Allen is remembered fondly.

Ocala was one of the northernmost sites where visitors could see and learn about the Seminole people and their culture. In its heyday (pre-interstate and mega-attractions), Silver Springs was a major destination that saw hundreds of thousands of visitors

Historically,annually.travel by water has been vital to the Southeastern Indians, who have used canoes for at least 5,000 years. Early dugouts were made from pine, using fire to hollow out the log. After the

Leigh Cypress and her family at Silver Spings 1950s (from L to R, Charlie Cypress, unknown girl, Leigh Cypress, Mary Billie, Mary Jene Billie).
54 ocalastyle.comF

introduction of metal tools, the Southeastern Indians (and many non-native settlers) carved these boats from the massive trunks of bald cypress trees.

Charlie Cypress, who was born around 1868 and lived until 1960, and his family were mainstays of the Silver Springs tourist camp for years. He demonstrated carving full-sized canoes with simple tools and made smaller models to sell. By the time he passed, the iconic Seminole canoe had been replaced by motorized airboats and “swamp buggies” for traversing the vast Everglades.

The Silver River Museum is lucky to have a full-sized canoe and several of the smaller models made by Charlie Cypress (the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum at the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation and the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida also curate examples of his work). Visit the Silver River Museum any weekend to find the Seminole exhibit and be sure to explore the Dugout Canoes: Paddling the Americas exhibit, which includes local prehistoric examples.

Scott Mitchell is a field archaeologist, scientific illustrator and director of the Silver River Museum & Environmental Education Center, located at 1445 NE 58th Ave., Ocala, inside the Silver Springs State Park. To learn more, go to silverrivermuseum.com.

Charlie Cypress
October ‘22 55

Empty Nest Syndrome

The woman who offered us sandwiches in a New York City subway car had a sweet face. If I were to accept questionable food from a stranger in the bowels of Brooklyn, this would be the time.

Fact is, you should never accept food from strangers. On a subway. Or anywhere.

Such is the one lesson we imparted to our college-bound daughter this summer during a trip to NYC. Caroline did not need the lesson, especially as she stared at the crumpled, baggie-wrapped sandwich in her lap.

The woman did not speak English and I assumed she was trying to sell the food. While I stressed “No, thank you,” she shoved one in my lap and moved on to my wife and daughter.

She then circled back, plucked the sandwiches and redistributed them, often to the same person. Street vendors are everywhere in NYC, but this one felt different. Was she a grandmother trying to make a buck, or was she an angel trying to feed the masses in tough times?

No matter. We declined her food and handed it back as she left more in our laps as we considered the line between kindness and common sense.

Then I bought a $12 hot dog from a sweaty stranger manning a cart above the subway.

The woman handing out her PB&Cs–“peanut butter and COVID sandwiches,” my wife called them–was a great story from a great trip.

The voyage was a high school graduation present for Caroline. We met celebrities, saw a Broadway musical, paid our respects to John Lennon in Central Park, avoided a headless Mickey Mouse in

Times Square, shed tears at the 9/11 museum and did all the goofy stuff tourists do in the Big Apple. This was our time with a brilliant arts student headed to the University of Central Florida in a matter of … well, too soon.

I write this two days before we move Caroline, when we will tote her luggage, desk and used foosball table up three flights of stairs. Two weeks earlier, we dropped off our University of Florida alum, eldest daughter Katie, in Virginia, where she will work in campus ministries.

An empty nest. But …

As we consider what the hell to do with an empty nest, I wonder–every second of every day–if we left these young women with effective parental advice.

When my parents dropped me off at UCF in 1986, I clearly remember the last words my mom whispered in my ear: “Eat your vegetables. It’s what kept you skinny.”

Wise words. I scramble to find anything more substantial.“Makesure you have your insurance card,” and, “Do not eat PB&C sandwiches.”

Seems a bit, “No duh!” but it is the best I have in moments that have me wiping away tears.

But they are Schlenkers. They have the wit, wisdom and smart-alecky savvy to thwart threats to common sense.

They also know that Mom and Dad are one text away from smacking down sandwich schemes that threaten Southern princesses.

In the meantime, Amy and I struggle: What, exactly, do we do now?



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The French Market

Located in the heart of downtown Ocala, Harry’s offers traditional Louisiana favorites like Shrimp and Scallop Orleans, Crawfish Etouffée, Jambalaya, Shrimp Creole, Blackened Red Fish, Louisiana Gumbo and Garden District Grouper. Other favorites, like French Baked Scallops and Bourbon Street Salmon, are complemented with grilled steaks, chicken, burgers, po’ boy sandwiches and salads. Their full bar features Harry’s Signature Cocktails, such as the Harry’s Hurricane, Bayou Bloody Mary or the Cool Goose Martini. They also feature wines by the glass and a wide selection of imported, domestic and craft beer.

Harry’s Seafood

Bar & Grille

24 SE 1st Avenue, Ocala

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Happy Hour Specials: 2-7p every day

$4 Draft Beer

$5 House Wine & Premium Cocktails

$6 Super Premium & $7 Harry’s Signature Cocktails

Head to El Toreo for the best Mexican food this side of the border! Enjoy all of your favorite traditional Mexican dishes in a friendly and festive atmosphere. Specials: Mondays and Wednesdays, Margaritas are $2 Saturdays, 2 for 1 Margaritas All Day Dine-in or take out available BUSINESS COMES FIRST IN “BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY” We’ll take care of your tech… So you can take care of your business.Connect with Technology.jmco.com352-369-1120us:support@jmcoit.com » Security » Data Protection » Cloud Solutions » Managed IT Services » Technology Planning » Microsoft Exchange Services




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Were you or a loved one the victim of an online scam? Tricked into believing you won the lottery or gems? Did your banker let you wire money to the scammer?

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Please Call Attorneys David Weintraub or Matthew Thibaut

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All About Balance

It’s OK to mix a little decadent comfort food into your healthy diet.

To me, comfort food can take you back to childhood, to that amazing and innocent time when calories didn’t count. Decadent comfort food is rich food that is sooo worth the calories because it feeds your soul, your psyche and your happiness.

I am primarily a pescatarian, meaning I incorporate seafood into my mostly vegetarian diet. But I love a double-stacked burger like my Patty Melt with Charred Scallion Chipotle Mayo once in a while.

Most readers know that I’m a proponent of healthy eating and using organic ingredients, but I also feel that life is all about balance. Many have heard of the 80/20 eating plan, where you eat healthily 80% of the time and allow yourself to splurge the other 20%. That is where my Decadent Sweet Potato Parmesan Fries and Caramel Apple Semifreddo would round out the menu with the patty melt, which I make with healthy farm-raised beef.

Part of achieving balance is being adaptable. With this decadent patty melt, for example, you

could use less bread and cheese or cut it in quarters for light eaters or the young ones at the table.

We often dine out here at home in Ocala and when we are in the Florida Keys, where we have a competitive professional fishing team. Even when dining out, you can balance a healthy meal with a bit of decadence, like when the chef prepares a buttery lemon sauce for the freshly caught swordfish steak, or if you have the ultra-rich dessert but eat only a couple of bites and then share the love with others.

I think we are all programmed to feel guilty when we eat something with lots of calories, but I also feel the body needs a variety of calories to function optimally. I think moderation is the key. We can’t be strict all the time, but we can’t be decadent all the time either.

Life is to be lived, so include a little decadent comfort food once in a while, then be sure to work out later! I want people to have fun and find balance because I feel that to truly live a happy and successful life, it’s all about balance.

Decadent Sweet Potato Parmesan Fries

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oven to 400. › Cut the sweet potatoes into sticks about ¼ to ½ inch wide and 3 inches long. › Mix the garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl. › Coat the potato slices with olive oil and the spices. › Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

› Spread the potato slices out over both baking sheets. › Bake until brown and crisp on the bottom, about 15 minutes, then flip and cook until the other side is crisp, about 10 minutes. › While they are piping hot, place the slices on a serving platter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Patty Melt with Charred Scallion Chipotle Mayo

1 pound 80% lean ground beef

8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into eight slices

1 bunch scallions (6 to 8 scallions), root ends trimmed

1 loaf of bakery white or rye sandwich bread, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1/2 cup mayonnaise, divided 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chiles, plus 3 teaspoons adobo sauce from the can 1 teaspoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon, plus a pinch, of kosher salt, divided 1 teaspoon, plus a pinch, of black pepper, divided

Shape the ground beef into eight thin patties to match the size and shape of the bread slices and set aside. › On a plate, lay out the scallions and sprinkle with olive oil, then add a pinch of salt and a pinch of black pepper and coat evenly. › Heat a large skillet over medium-high. › Put the scallions in whole and cook them until they are a bit charred, turning as needed. › Put the scallions on a cutting board and give them a coarse chop. › Put the chopped scallions in a bowl and add 1/4 cup mayonnaise, chipotle chiles and adobo sauce, and mix. › Wipe the skillet clean and add the butter and melt it over medium-high heat. › Add four beef patties and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. › Cook for about two minutes, using a spatula to press down to keep them thin and flat. › When they are browned, flip them over and repeat for the other side. › Then cook the other four in the same way. › Place the patties on paper towels to absorb excess fluid. › Spread about one tablespoon of scallionchipotle mayonnaise on four bread slices. › Top each with one slice of cheese, one patty, one more piece of bread, one more slice of cheese and one more beef patty, then another slice of bread. › You may need to use toothpicks to hold the sandwich together. › Wipe your skillet clean again and put it back on medium heat. › Spread one side of each sandwich with the rest of the mayonnaise mixture and put it, mayonnaise side down, in the skillet. › Cook until golden brown, using a spatula to press down as needed. › Carefully flip the sandwich over and repeat. › To serve, cut in halves or quarters.

1 1/2 quarts vanilla ice cream, softened

1 12.25-ounce jar caramel sauce

9 whole cinnamon graham crackers

6 tablespoons butter, melted

3/4 cup plain apple butter

1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

Nonstick cooking spray

Chopped chocolate almond toffee, such as Almond Roca

Preheat the oven to 400. › Lightly spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. › In a food processor, mix the graham crackers until finely crushed. › Add the melted butter and process until it resembles wet sand. › Press the mixture into the bottom of the springform pan and bake until

golden brown around the edges. › Set aside to cool.

› In a medium bowl, stir together the apple butter, cinnamon, salt and caramel sauce, and set aside. › Put the softened ice cream in a large bowl, add the caramel mixture and almonds, and fold everything together with a rubber spatula or whisk. › Pour the mixture over the crust. › Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the cake and put it in the freezer for at least 8 hours or overnight.

To serve, put the frozen cake pan on a serving dish or cake pedestal and carefully remove the plastic wrap. › Run a thin knife around the edge of the springform pan and then release the sides. › You can drizzle more caramel if you wish, otherwise, just sprinkle with the chopped almond toffee before you slice and serve.

Apple Semifreddo

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Some plants are kind of scary and some actually eat living things. Here’s a look at some creepy flora and fauna that can grow in our area.

With Halloween approaching, some gardeners give thought to the creepy aspects of plants. And some plants can be a little scary: Poisonous flowers, stems and leaves; herbs that are toxic if ingested. Even some common houseplants are known to be really bad for humans and pets, including the popular philodendron, pothos and peace lilies.

It’s one thing to consider a plant that’s scary if you eat it, but have you ever thought about plants that are Kennycarnivorous?Cooganisthe author

of the upcoming release, Florida’s Carnivorous Plants, from Pineapple Press. He is the co-founder of the Western New York Carnivorous Plant Club, the education director of the International Carnivorous Plant Society and runs his own nursery in Tampa. He has been interested in these fascinating plants since childhood.

“The most appealing aspect of these plants is not their meat-eating adaptation but how beautiful they are,” Coogan says. “Venus flytraps have contrasting colors and many have long lashes—to entrap their prey. Sarracenia pitcher plants look like beautiful vases with delicate veining. Sundews

sparkle in the sunlight, inviting insects to drink their nectar to only be deceived and trapped in their adhesiveFloridaglue.”has more than two dozen native carnivorous species that typically grow wild in the bogs and wetlands of North Florida and the Panhandle. But they are actually fairly easy to grow “in captivity,” Coogan says. Some can even do well on a sunny windowsill. Coogan keeps more than 1,000 plants both indoors and outdoors at his Tampa nursery.

He says there are three basic rules for success with these plants: Flood them with water, either distilled or rainwater, never tap water; do not use fertilizer or any chemicals; do not set off the traps deliberately, which essentially forces them to eat and is not good for their overall health.

“Water is the trickiest aspect. If you can provide rainwater or distilled water you can easily grow most carnivorous plants that are in cultivation,” Coogan shares. “Venus flytraps require full sun (6-8 hours) as do sarracenia (pitcher plants.) For those with shade, nepenthes (tropical pitcher plants) are a great option. I think nepenthes are a great gateway carnivorous plant since they don’t die back or slow down in the winter.

The adaptationmeat-eatingtheseappealingmostaspectofplantsisnottheirbuthowbeautifultheyare.
– Kenny Coogan

They grow year-round and are very charismatic.”

As for his favorites? In his book release, Coogan writes, “Sarracenia species and hybrids are stunning plants that are often first to sell at my table at plant sales around the state. For a long time… they were my favorite. The extensive research needed for this book has enlightened me and renewed my interest to all the wonders that each genus provides. It is too difficult now to have a true favorite. But a three-foot towering pitcher is a hard plant to dismiss.”

Laura Perdomo, owner of the Peacock Cottage plant store in Ocala, suggests avoiding several plants, including the oh-so-pretty angel trumpet vine, which is part of the nightshade family. Its alkaloid content is highly poisonous to humans and animals. Experts even suggest wearing gloves while handling them.

Also to be avoided, Perdomo notes, is oleander. Though hardy once established and able to bloom nearly year-round, every part of the oleander is highly toxic, including leaves, stems, twigs and sap. The ingestion of even one leaf can kill an adult and smoke from burning it can cause severe reactions. When I think of my childhood home in south St. Petersburg, our neighborhood had dozens of these as foundation and specimen plantings, and I have to wonder: What the heck were people thinking?

For October, Perdomo suggests, consider the bat plant for a seasonal touch of fun creepiness. Part of the orchid family, bat flowers bloom on a stem with two risingbractsfrom the flower that look like bat wings. The typical black bat flower has deep purple bracts but there also is a white version. The flowers should be left on the plant to die naturally and aren’t suitable for cutting. They can bloom up to eight times in one season. They do well in the same environment as orchids: high humidity, strong airflow and low to moderate light conditions.


Florida’s Carnivorous Plants is filled with great photos of plants that eat meat and is an inspiring review of their history, including their success in Florida. Author Kenny Coogan mentions the fun fact that wild “rogue Venus flytraps” do quite well in the Panhandle, along with carnivorous bromeliads. Some can be cultivated to grow two-inch traps, large enough to swallow substantial insects. Coogan offers how-to tips on growing Venus flytraps, pitcher plants, bladderworts and other species. The lively photos make it easy to identify the plants and the green touches in the graphic design help make this a fun read.

Florida’s Carnivorous Plants is set for publication in November by Pineapple Press.

For more information, go to


and lifelong gardener, Belea spends her time off fostering cats and collecting caladiums. You can send gardening questions or column suggestions to her at belea@magnoliamediaco.com


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