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Features

  • It’s been a long road but Rocky Kuznik has finally arrived with the publication of his first novel The Never Pals. Kuznik signed copies for readers Saturday at the Victorian Tea Room, along with his wife Joydel. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Kuznik has lived in Florida for years and lived in Morriston for a time before moving to Ocala. A self-proclaimed “short story guy” the novel is a witty tale of an odd couple and their relationship.

  • It was an evening of gold and garnet, of friends and colleagues, of memories and laughter as hundreds paid tribute to retiring Judge Joseph Smith.

    Smith, who will officially leave the bench of the Eighth Judicial Circuit Dec. 31, was feted with a reception last week to mark more than 37 years of service to the people of Levy County and 16 years on the bench.

    Master of Ceremonies Luther Beauchamp regaled those in attendance with humorous stories of his past with Smith, a former law partner.

  • In life, we learn soon enough that just about the only thing that doesn’t change is the fact that everything changes. But some things don’t change as quickly or as often as others, and Ann Thompson is here to prove it.

    “Here” is Williston Rehabilitation and Nursing Center (once known as Oak View Care Center, then as Oak View Rehabilitation, then as Williston Care Center.) But no matter what the changes in name or ownership, for 36 years Ann Thompson has been showing up to take care of people in the big building under the oaks at 300 NW 1st Avenue.

  • For the last 15 years, it has been my custom to focus on the survivors of cancer as a way to promote the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life fund-raiser.

    The first time I did it was in April 1996 and it was my first assignment at a new newspaper.

    The survivor was Miranda Fleming, then about 30 who had survived Hodgkin’s Disease, or cancer of the lymph nodes when she was about 20.

    Little did I know that only five months later, my son, Nick, just three months shy of his 12th birthday would receive the same diagnosis.

  • When Brandon Bonaccorso of Williston had to decide on an Eagle Scout project, he looked no further than his drive to work in Micanopy.

    Each time he went past the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church Community Cemetery located on Hwy. 318, he was confronted by years of neglect on the eight-acre tract of land.

  • It is often the case that life gives with one hand and takes with the other. One thing life gave Gertie and Booker T. Mann 50 years ago is each other; more recently, one thing it has taken is Gertie’s health.

  • It had been a lot of work and a long haul, but the new Williston Animal Group facility near the airport celebrated its grand opening on Thursday evening – and a joyful occasion it was.

    WAG showed off its new dog kennels to a crowd that included city officials, generous donors and the members of WAG who have put so much time and effort into the fulfillment of this dream.

    The first set of 12 kennels is ready for occupancy, with clean accommodations, individual dog runs and a common play area. The second set of 12 lacks only fencing to be complete.

  • Williston Mayor Gerald Hethcoat presented the Williston Junior Woman’s Club with a framed proclamation honoring the group for its distinction of receiving the Mary Clark Award for being the best Junior Woman’s Club in Florida. “This makes the town shine,” Hethcoat said last week, “because of the good they do. They train young women to be leaders.”

  • Despite a change of property owners, Tomorrows’ Equestrian Center has been given a reprieve and Sunday held an open house to showcase what they offer.

    Sandy Arbour, president of the non-profit organization that provides recreational and therapeutic riding to the physically, mentally and emotionally disabled, said the group is faring well but is in need of both volunteers and participants.

  • Cross Brand Cowboy Church held its First Kids Ranch Rodeo Series on June 6 at the Williston Horseman’s Park.

    There were 38 contestants ages 12 and under.

    The events included Clover Leaf Barrels, Goat Roping Flipping and Branding, Mutton Bustin, Goat Tying, Calf Roping, Flipping and Branding and Shoot Doggin. The age groups were 8-12-year olds and 7 and under.

  • What better portrays the heart of Independence Day than active duty soldiers, dressed in uniform, participating in a parade?

    Last Friday, as people flocked to Williston for the pre-Fourth holiday parade, two soldiers from Ocala were enduring the sweltering heat as they prepared to escort Harley White and Sarah Dykstra in a genuine Army Humvee.

    Laterryio Curington is a 17-year veteran of the Army and is currently stationed in Ocala as the Army recruiter there.

  • Webster defines them as “the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere.”

    Some rescued dogs find these days to be quite satisfactory, thank you. They are housed in the new Williston Animal Group (WAG) facility adjacent to the airport, on SW 18th Street, and life is pretty good.

    They live in large kennels, comfortable beds, lots of food and water, and are treated to human contact at least twice a day.

  • Barbara Gordon is a woman who knows all about starting over from scratch. In her early 30s when her marriage of 17 years ended, she scraped together $150 to buy an old station wagon, packed up her four children, and left Indiana for North Miami Beach. There the woman who had never before worked outside her home became a merchandiser for Woolworth’s and later K-Mart, while she finished bringing up her children.

  • About eight months ago, 45-year-old Polly “P.J.” Jensen noticed a lump under her left arm.

    She was unable to afford health insurance and ineligible for Medicaid.

    “So I kind of set it aside at the time – something I should have never done,” P.J. said. “Something every women should never do.”

    After a while, the mild discomfort became painful tenderness. “It got to the point that I couldn’t wear anything tight around that area.”

    She finally went to the doctor early this month.

  • By 11 a.m. Saturday, the six-foot table was teeming with canned goods and pantry staples as the Youth from Williston First United Methodist Church braved the humidity to collect goods for the food bank that is housed in their church.

    “The need is so big, we are running low,” members said, taking the time to thank shoppers who dropped off one item, or a dozen.

    Five churches support the food pantry and more than 40 families are helped each month with its bounty.

  • Joseph E. Smith, a normally relaxed person, was positively ebullient as he welcomed the visitor to his office.

    The room reflects his persona with Florida State University memorabilia always in view. The judge is known for his devotion to the garnet and gold, so much so a daughter is named Garnet.

    And why not be faithful to the school that launched the love story of his life? Smith met his wife Bobbie when the two attended FSU. They have two children, Garnet and a son, Scott, a Methodist minister, and six grandchildren.

  • It all began with a birthday.

    A birthday, almost 20 years to the day from this week’s edition.

    The way Lorraine Liebenau remembers it, her husband Fred ventured into a Hallmark card shop Dec. 9, 1989 to pick up a birthday card for his loving wife, and walked out with not only a card but the first of what would become a collection of Christmas village pieces.

  • It’s been almost 30 years since Pat Wilson graduated from Williston High School, but the boy who became the man Jim Pitt has never forgotten the town, community, school and friends that helped shape his character.

    Pitt, an actor who plays a space shuttle captain in James Cameron’s Avatar that opens Friday, dropped in last week to catch up with old friends and remind people he is still the person they knew.

  • Raymond Smith is what they call a natural born storyteller. If you were to put him alone in an empty room for an hour, after he came out, he’d tell you a story about what happened in there. And it would be a good story, probably one that would leave you both chuckling.

  • Since 1969 Ethel Penny has been feeding the patients and staff at Nature Coast Hospital.

    Last week the tables turned and someone provided refreshments for her to honor her 40 years of service and dedication.

    Penny, a Raleigh resident, heard of the job opening from a friend, and since she had some restaurant experience, she applied.

    The rest is, as they say, history, as she worked her way up from an aide to a cook and even a manager–a position she held for 10 years.