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Opinion

  • At the risk of bragging, I was a pretty smart kid when I was in elementary school (insert sarcastic comment “what happened since?” here).

    I don’t recall ever being told what grade level I was reading, but I knew I was ahead of all my friends.

    When I entered kindergarten, I was given the honor of setting the clock, since I was one of the few who could tell time.

    Along the way I won spelling bee titles, did well in a geography bee, etc.

  • Go back in time about 500 years or so and pretend you’re one of Marion County’s native inhabitants.

    You get up one morning, and your biggest worry is about getting some food. You don’t worry about traffic or pollution or North Korean bombs.

    But suddenly your day changes. It’s getting dark very early, and you stare up at the sky and there is a black circle moving across the sun. You watch mesmerized as the son disappears and you think that this is some sort of omen from the gods.

  • For years, I’ve been questioning some of the moves made in downtown Ocala. I wondered whether some of them serve the majority of residents in this area.

    When I moved here almost 20 years ago (and my folks lived here long before that), the Square was the focal point of downtown. There were some great gatherings and festivals, crowds abounded and the area seemed to flourish.

    Gradually, things started to change, not necessarily for the better. Not necessarily in chronological order are:

  • This is a yearly column, updated with latest information.

    This week is big for many young people in Marion County, as they leave high school and move on to the next phase of their lives.

    Graduation ceremonies are scheduled for local public high schools, a landmark day for a few hundred young adults who are ready to venture out into the world.

  • Last week was a bad one for two major airlines, United and American. Both had incidents that make you realize how arrogant some of the personnel who work for these companies are, and why they need to be reined in. Both raised all sorts of questions.

    First, United. Take your favorite and biggest sports facility.Let’s say it seats thousands of people for baseball and basketball, more for the National Football League, or the University of Florida football for about 80,000.

  • Vacations are a good thing. They give you a break from the routine and let your mind and body get refreshed while you supposedly spend some time doing some activities that you don’t normally get to do.

    Vacations are also a bad thing. Why? Because they end.

    Last week I spent a few days in the Clearwater-Dunedin area. If you know me at all, you might guess that it had something to do with baseball. And you would be right.

  • Sometimes you go to cover an event not knowing what to expect. That was me just a couple of weeks ago.

    One of our Congressmen, Republican Ted Yoho, was holding a town hall meeting at North Marion Middle School. Many GOP representatives have run into major protests across the country, so I was ready for a big afternoon.

    It didn’t happen.

    Except for a couple of people in the audience who felt they had to interject loud comments over other people, the crowd was a bit tame.

  • The Marion County Commission has gotten itself into a bind in a situation involving a proclamation for Black History Month.

    One group submitted a proposed proclamation, but commissioners, led by Chairman Carl Zalak, changed the wording.

    That didn’t go over very well.

    I’m not going to dwell on this one proclamation, but I will dwell on the whole process. For the most part, I don’t understand why we need proclamations.

  • It’s a heck of a way to spend a holiday weekend, yet that’s what I did … reading the attorneys’ report on the conclusion into the investigation of Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham, all 35 pages of it.

    While clearing Graham of harassment charges, thereby allowing for his reinstatement, it contains descriptions of some other activities that are not what we should expect of our city employees, whether or not they are police officers.

  • By Sheriff Billy Woods

  • Saturday morning dawned beautifully clear but a little cool. So I grabbed my jacket, which I hadn’t worn since last winter, and headed out to the Fine Arts Festival of Ocala, better known as FAFO.
    I took my cell phone and put it into the inside security pocket of the jacket, you know, the one you have so pickpockets can’t get to you.

  • In the old days of television, there was the “Perry Como Show,” which featured a segment where the introduction went like this:
    “Letters, we get letters, we get stacks and stacks of letters. Dear Perry, would you be so kind, to fill a request and sing a song we like best?”
    We may have to adopt that as our theme song. We get lots of letters, many of which are nasty containing personal insults, etc. of politicians.

  • Last week the Florida Department of Transportation held a public hearing concerning the proposed widening of State Road 200 from County Road 484 to the Withlacoochee Bridge, which is at the county line with Citrus County.

  • We try to remember those who died in wartime. We mark the historic days and the anniversaries. We fly the flag, we hold parades, we visit the cemeteries, we report on the observances through TV and print. Television and movie makers even try to re-create the feeling of what it was like to fight.

  • It was Saturday, the second of two brutal news days in which we saw a sheriff suspended, a new one appointed, and two sheriff’s officials put on paid leave.
    I had spent much of the day working on the story you see on the front page that was first posted on our website. When it got to be 4 o’clock, I collapsed into my recliner and turned on the Mets game.

  • Mother’s Day always brings back memories, some good, some sad, of my mother, who died in 1997. I still think of her a lot, especially on the anniversary of something involving her.
    This Sunday, May 8, is Mother’s Day.
    One of my earliest memories of celebrating this day was going to church and wearing a carnation. I was raised in northern New Jersey, and almost everyone going to Sunday Mass wore a flower.

  • Back when I was in a college prep high school, my classes were pretty well set. The few choices I had involved which language to take (I took Spanish), or whether I would take Latin 3 or chemistry (either way, I was in trouble).
    Don’t get me wrong. I had to take two years of Latin, and I think everyone should take at least one year. It is the language upon which much of our vocabulary is built, and people need to understand the background of words to become a more effective speaker of English.

  • Accountability. It’s a word we’ve heard a lot this campaign season and, although it’s a bit late, it’s starting to creep in to the discussion about the local option sales tax.
    Next Tuesday, March 15, the presidential primary will take place in Florida. Here in Marion County, there’s an additional item on the ballot – an initiative to raise the amount of the local sales tax one percent.

  • It may be a promise that’s hard to keep, but I’m going to do my darndest never to complain again about traffic in Ocala and Marion County, particularly on State Road 200.
    You see, I just spent a weekend in Lakeland.
    I moved out of Lakeland just under 35 years ago. I was the news editor of The Ledger and was named editor at another paper in the same group in Palatka.