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Local News

  • Finding a sketching niche

    Ronda West has been drawing professionally for years,  but it wasn’t until recently she started to “play around with celebrities.” Before moving back to Florida with her husband, historical western fiction author Charles West, she was doing commissioned portrait work for customers, which she still does.

    After moving to Oak Run,  she tried her hand at drawing famous faces and found her niche. West’s first celebrity pencil portrait was of actor John Wayne.

  • What was your ‘first time’ after age 60?

    Did you go skydiving for the first time in your 60s? Or did you get married at age 61 for the first time? Did you change careers after age 60, or discover a helpful health- or financial tip? Did you start a new hobby, or find a great recipe geared toward seniors?

    If so, we want to hear from you.

    We are looking for first-time accomplishments after age 60 for an upcoming special section called “Savvy After 60” and a special page, “You’re never too old.” Share your information with our readers.

  • Silver River Museum a goldmine of history

    There are, at my last count, six museums in Marion County. I’ve asked several friends to name them. Most knew of two, a few named three and one came up with four.

    Apparently we have some great places to visit – but some of these Marion County museums need to be excavated. So I’m going to tell you about one of these lesser-known collections. It’s a terrific place that adults and kids alike will find truly awesome.

  • Not the typical saddle tramp

    If people thought about it a bit, “everybody’s got a least one book in them,” said Charles “Chuck” G. West. But getting it published is a different story.

    For West, the road to getting his first manuscript in print was not an easy one. In the early 1980s, the former print shop owner decided to start penning a medical science fiction book. “It’s so hard to get published,” he said.

  • More are ‘living on the edge'

    With a dwindling economy to blame there is an ever-growing number of homeless people and at-risk residents in Marion County. The recent increase of people needing assistance and shelter is keeping organizations like  the Salvation Army of Marion County and the Annie Johnson Senior Services very busy.

    Alice Hodgkins, director of the Center for Hope at the Salvation Army of Marion County, has seen an increase in single men at the shelter. She attributes the increased male population to job losses.

  • Mall foreclosures • ‘no way’

    Rumors have been swirling through the Corridor recently about the foreclosure of the Market Street at Heath Brook and Berkshire Oaks, but representatives of the properties are saying “no way.”

    To Trent Comer, marketing director for United American Realty, the rumors surrounding the Market Street at Heath Brook are nothing new. He has been hearing various tales about shopping center problems for more than a year now.

    And the latest one about the open-air mall going into foreclosure is another one to add to the list.

  • TPO hoping for roads 'stimulous'

    Marion County Commissioners, city officials and members of the Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) recently gathered in the commission auditorium to discuss “priority” road projects, which will hopefully be funded by President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

  • Parents and kids get a night out

    “It really is a trend,” said Tom Whatley, director of the education at Ocala Civic Theatre. The concept of “Parents Night Out” is not a new one. In fact, other theatres have been doing it for a while.

    The idea for the evening is to give parents a chance to get out of the house and enjoy a live theatre production, while being able to bring the children along also – solving the age-old babysitter dilemma. So Ocala Civic Theatre has adopted the family outing combination for their current performance of The Baker’s Wife.

  • Our Web is reaching out to readers

    Many of our readers have learned the joys of navigating the electronic highway along with its frustrating software detours, potholes and crashes. Personal computers, using e-mail mailboxes and Web surfing have trickled up to the greatest generation via their kids, the baby boomers, and the grandchildren, who don’t know life without PCs.

  • Town hall meetings will discuss school budget cuts

    Superintendent of Schools Jim Yancey will present possibilities for next year’s district budget cuts – estimated at $25- to $33 million for operations alone – at a series of town hall meetings.

    This series of meetings gives parents, employees, and community members the opportunity to offer suggestions on budget-cutting ideas and which school and student programs they consider most important. Meetings take place from 6 to 8 p.m.

    Feb. 17 at Belleview Middle. Feb. 19 at Dunnellon Middle, Feb. 23 at West Port High. Feb. 26 at Horizon Academy.