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Opinion

  • If you live in one of the disaster-designated Florida counties (Sumter is included) and experienced property damage or loss directly caused by Hurricane Irma, register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for disaster assistance – even if you have insurance. This can be an important step to begin the process of recovery.

    You may register for assistance the following ways:

    • Online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov 

  • At a time when workforce demands for technical skills and industry certification are at an all-time high, Sumter County schools increased the number of students earning industry-relevant credentials by 31 percent with 266 industry certifications awarded this school year. 

  • The Sumter County School District offers a number of exciting Career and Technical Education opportunities to students.  

    The district offers numerous programs, which typically consist of three to four courses in an articulated sequence, that are aligned to entry level job skills.  

    The programs and some of the industry credentials can also articulate into college credit at various state colleges in the area.  Local employers recognize many of the industry credentials as well.

  •  Sumter County youngsters head back to the classroom this week with classes getting under way on Thursday.

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  • Since it’s July and “kitten season,” according to the Humane Society, I thought it would be a good time to tell you about Walter ... the cat.

    The agency is pushing for adoptions this month, even offering a deal of two cats for a total of a $50 adoption fee - apparently, lots of kittens are born in the summer and there are already an abundance of cats available.

  •  While a few rain events during the past week may have given the impression that drought conditions are easing, Sumter County remains under drought conditions and will likely stay that way until water levels begin to rise again.

    In the meantime, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences experts are suggesting ways to maintain your landscape during this drought, including an irrigation audit and knowing the watering laws in your area.

  • The Humane Society/SPCA of Sumter County (HS/SPCA) currently has funding available for 100 free spay/neuter pet vouchers for qualifying Sumter County residents through May. 

    This community assistance program is a vital necessity in reducing the pet over-population problem facing Sumter County animals who are then at risk for potential euthanasia. 

  • Your email tells you that you are the recipient of unclaimed riches. Callers on your telephone are either telling you that you’ve been pre-selected for a fantastic opportunity or that you’re in trouble with one governmental agency or another and need to pay up.

    Seems like wherever you turn these days, someone is out to either offer you something for free, give you money or threatening you in some way unless you pay out money.

  • Emergency health care may never cross your mind, until your life depends on it. But when an emergency arises, the availability of potentially life-saving services becomes a top priority.

     It’s scary to realize that when fast transportation is essential to receive critical help, residents of rural counties across Florida may be at a disadvantage. They may not realize how limited access to trauma centers can be until an accident occurs and they or loved ones need to drive hours for vital treatment.

  • Identity theft, especially during tax season, is a serious threat to Floridians. Attorney General Pam Bondi is releasing an Identity Theft Resource Guide that offers a wealth of information about the many forms of identity theft, ways consumers can further protect private information and steps to take if identity theft occurs.

  • If you’re looking for local fun at the annual county fair, get ready, ‘cause it’s here. It’s a week filled with local fun and talent - from the royal court that was selected last week during the Miss Sumter County Pageant to the live entertainment set for the stage, Sumter County is out to shine in a journey from Wagon Wheels to Ferris Wheels.

  • The Humane Society/SPCA of Sumter County is asking its community for help with the larger than usual medical expenses for a recently rescued year old Labrador mix puppy they named Rane.

     In mid-January she was found as a stray dog struck by a car with no owners coming to claim her at the county facility. 

    Upon availability, the HS/SPCA pulled her out and brought her for immediate medical attention and discovered she had a dislocated hip and three pelvic fractures. 

  • Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam encourages Floridians to be wary of tax-related scams during this tax season. According to the Internal Revenue Service, common scams include: tax preparer phishing scams, IRS-impersonator phone scams and e-mail phishing scams. 

    Last year, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services received 31 tax-related complaints, with 17 specific to IRS scams. 

  • For decades, The Sumter County School Board has always meet at its headquarters in Bushnell.

    The meetings may have moved to different locations in the area, but they were always held in Bushnell.

    Well, things are about to change.

    Last month, the board unanimously approved a revision to the 2017 meeting schedule that shifts some of those meetings to the Wildwood area.

    That’s a good change. 

  • Sumter County Walmart stores are set to host a “Fill your Heart by Filling the Van”  events for rescued pets in February.

    Shoppers will be able to show their love of their own pets and help local animals in need by donating to help fill a wish list for shelter animal needs. Sumter County Humane Society/SPCA volunteers will provide the list on the event dates at the Bushnell and Villages Walmart stores, where shoppers can purchase and donated the items during the same trip.

  • Get your running shoes ready.

    There’s a great fundraising event coming up in March that deserves as much attention and support as it can possibly get.

    We’re letting you know early and we’ll be reminding you often in hopes that supporters and participants will be plentiful for this unusual run.

    The colorful event is called the Dyeing to Run 5K and it’s planned for Saturday, March 18, at the Lake Panasoffkee Elementary School.

  • Florida governor Rick Scott apparently doesn’t get it. He keeps trying to monetize the state’s parks and keeps running into barriers. These barriers - also known as Florida’s citizens - have stopped his various attempts to turn state park land into RV camps or timbering areas or hunting preserves or grazing lands. 

  • The Ocala-based non-profit school Crossroads Academy is having a huge benefit at The Villages Polo Club to create awareness for special needs students and raise some much needed funds for their organization.

    The Second Annual Winterfest Arts and Crafts Faire will be held on Saturday, February11th from 10am to 4pm, and will include over 65 arts and crafts vendors from all over Florida and beyond. Like last year, admission is free, parking is free and all are welcome to attend.