• Summer has arrived and if you’re like me, you’ll be spending more time outside, soaking in all the natural beauty Florida has to offer. This time of year, especially as we approach our national Independence Day, marks the start of the season most associated with the use of fireworks. While it is important to have fun and to celebrate our nation’s freedom, we must be cautious and remember that fireworks can be dangerous when used improperly.

  • The story is not a new one. The plot remains the same. Once again, SCARC Inc., serving Sumter’s developmentally disabled citizens, is facing budget cuts from the state that threaten to damage the invaluable program headquartered in Bushnell.
    Once again, the voices of the needy are being overlooked. And once again, there is a plea from program operators and  supporters for help.
    A story appears on this week’s front page about the cuts.

  • Summer hits in Sumter County and along with it comes an opportunity for a bit of positive contact between community youngsters and local law enforcement officers.
    Throughout the county, various cities and locations hold what’s been known as Cops and Kids Day.
    These events provide some very positive opportunities for youngsters to get up close and interact with local sheriff’s deputies and police officers.

  • The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) recently announced, in a public-private partnership with GEICO Insurance, and unveiled a statewide safety campaign to tackle the problem of distracted driving on Florida’s roads. As part of a national effort to encourage drivers to pull into a safe location to use their phone for calling, texting and accessing mobile apps, Florida has designated 64 Rest Areas, Welcome Centers and Turnpike Service Plazas throughout the state as “Safe Phone Zones,” more than any other state.

  • It’s a good thing. They get together through the year to laugh and raise money and plan. They meet, sometimes rowdy and sometimes dressed funny. They taste different foods, hold yard sales, host breakfast and so much more.
    It’s all for me  …  and you.

  • Seeds of Hope ends their 10th anniversary Food Drive with a celebration by presenting the Wildwood Soup Kitchen and Wildwood Food Pantry with a check for $22,656.11 each, plus over 24,000 pounds of food to divide.
    Our seven concerts were huge successes with over 3,500 guests attending.
    It takes a whole community to accomplish great things. Seeds of Hope, The WWFP and WWSK wish to thank everyone that helped make our campaign the success it was.

  • As the baby boomers and their elders contend with all the different Medicare and health care options that are available, there is one group that can help smooth out some of the snarls  and complications along the way and help steer you to a desirable health care plan.
    The organization is called SHINE. It’s short for Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders.
    SHINE isn’t a private company. Its representatives don’t make profits on the health care decisions that they help their clients make. They gain no financial reward from your decisions.

  • The City of Bushnell deserves some kudos for its attempts to breathe some life in to the city’s new downtown park.
    It’s a shame not to see more people taking advantage of the park.
    With benches, a nice gazebo, an impressive fountain and green areas, the park often remains empty for most of the day.
    But city leaders have been busy attempting to increase usage of the park. They’ve had several events on the grounds and are planning more.
    We think that’s a good idea.

  • You probably have your own inner vision of a homeless person. Maybe someone who can’t be too far from the bottle. Maybe someone who talks to people that only they see.
    Maybe you’d be very surprised. Maybe you’d be very wrong.
    Coming in May is an eye-opening experience. It’s an event called the 2015 Face of Homelessness Gala.
    While the event isn’t until May ticket sales are beginning now online.
    Hosting the event, is  The Refuge at Jumper Creek. The facility is Sumter County’s only homeless shelter,.

  • Florida has experienced an alarming increase in the number of fatal hit and run crashes during the last two years. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is partnering with the Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA), the Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA), the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) to get the message out that fleeing the scene of an accident can result in tougher penalties.

  • The Florida Department of Health is working with other state and federal officials to monitor individuals who may have been exposed to measles cases across the state. In the past two weeks, four cases of measles have been identified and reported among travelers with unknown or no measles vaccinations who visited Florida. Two cases involved international travelers.

  • When you buy locally grown food you are investing in your community while enjoying the fresh/delicious bounty grown by local farmers.
    One of the main benefits of buying locally grown food is: it’s fresher, tastier, and more nutritious plus you are buying directly from family farmers which helps them stay in business.  

  • In 2013, there were over 130 traffic crashes in Florida that involved motorists who violated the Move Over law. Of those crashes, 81 resulted in injuries and 2 in fatalities. This month, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is reminding motorists of the state’s Move Over law.
    The Move Over law was enacted in 2002 to help protect law enforcement officers, emergency workers, and tow truck drivers when they are performing their duties along the roadside. In July 2014, the Move Over law was expanded to include sanitation and utility vehicles.

  • The deal is done. Starting the beginning of February, the county will no longer be involved in the pet adoption business - at least not directly.
    Instead, the Sumter County government has channeled its pet adoption responsibilities to the Humane Society of Sumter County.
    While the county has received some stinging criticism about its decision and some harsh comments about its pet adoption operations, this move is very likely to be beneficial to not only the county and the Humane Society but most importantly to unwanted and discarded pets in need of good homes.

  • If you’re thinking of launching the new year off by volunteering some of your time, the following opportunity may fit the bill.
    Florida LAKEWATCH is looking for volunteers in Sumter County who are ready to roll up their sleeves, get their elbows wet, and make a valuable contribution to the future of Florida lakes.
    If you have a boat (almost any kind) and a couple of hours a month you may be a candidate for the Florida LAKEWATCH volunteer lake monitoring program.
    Florida LAKEWATCH Regional Coordinator for Sumter County, Dan Willis, describes how the program works.

  • The Florida Department of Health urges Floridians to take precautions to prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning as there have been several recent incidents leading to multiple deaths and hospitalizations in Florida.

  • An Environmentally-Friendly
    Guide to Gifting
    By Jason Mahon
    Florida Department of Environmental Protection

    Finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list can be stressful and costly, not to mention the effect all those plastic toys and electronics have on the environment. This year, try something different by going green for the holidays. Use these green gifting tips and ideas to find exactly what you need this holiday season.

  • By Wyatt Fraas,
    Center for Rural Affairs
    Farm to School programs appeared in the ‘90s with a three-way focus: fresh, local foods in schools; agriculture and nutrition education in classrooms; and purchases that support local family farms. Years since have seen these programs grow to include 40,000 schools and 23 million students.
    However, the focus has slipped from ‘local family farms’ to ‘local food.’

  • Decades ago, the community of Lake Panasoffkee was filled with volunteers of all sorts participating in a variety of activities to raise money for a variety of local causes.
    Community volunteers got out to help raise funds for the local fire department, the local library and the community center not to mention a variety of special community events.
    But times change, and situations change. Oh, Panasoffkee still has its community volunteers, but it just doesn’t have enough of them.