• The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) is urging Floridians and visitors to protect themselves against West Nile Virus. The FDOH last week confirmed the first case of West Nile virus illness in Florida for 2015 in an adult female resident of Walton County. West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that causes mild to severe illness and there have been 38 other states with confirmed cases in 2015.

  • County commissioners came through for SCARC recently. The board has agreed to fund the organization with the more than $40,000 that state legislators recently hacked from SCARC funding during recent state budget cuts.

  • The Florida Department of Health this summer invites residents to get active and enjoy the natural wonders Florida has to offer.
    Get Outdoors Month encourages residents to fully enjoy Florida’s 161 state parks, 10 state trails and 12 national parks.
    “Getting outdoors with friends and family, whether it be hiking, biking, swimming or just having fun, truly strengthens Florida’s communities,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong. “Get Outdoors Month is a great reminder to get outside and be active.”

  • 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.