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Opinion

  • 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.

  • After staggering through the many debates on both the Republican and Democratic side, I think I’ve got it analyzed pretty well.
    The candidates are giving us name calling, finger pointing, constant insults, making disparaging remarks, etc. Each time the audience likes what the candidate says, they cheer wildly. If they disagree, you hear a lot of hissing and booing.
    These reactions bog down the debates, causing candidates and moderators alike to pause until they can be heard.

  • If you see a dozen or so drummers wandering the streets, you might want to see if you can lend them a hand. After all, recent events have left them trying to figure out whether the beat goes on.

    It’s very simple … the large retail stores, particularly the chains, have determined that the 12 days of Christmas no longer exist. They are now pretty much just the weeks before Christmas, and that’s it.

  • There’s a move afoot to help rectify significant traffic issues on Interstate 75. A group dubbed the I-75 Relief Task Force recently formed for the purpose of helping the state in addressing transportation needs.
    One of the considerations involves a road that many in Marion County don’t even know exists. It’s called the Suncoast Parkway, and connects the highway maze in Tampa to U.S. 98 in Hernando County.

  • The other day, I was walking down the aisle of a bustling department store here in Ocala, generally minding my own business, heading for the area that had my interest.
    Approaching me in the opposite direction was a woman who had a boy with her. He looked to be about 8 years old.
    As we got close to one another, the boy looked up at me, smiled, and said “Merry Christmas.” I responded with a “thank you, Merry Christmas to you.”
    We both continued on our separate paths, never to see each other again.

  • Some time ago, Dr. Lee Niblock announced his resignation as the Marion County administrator. He was accepting a similar job in Alachua County.
    That set the wheels in motion to replace him in the county’s top job.
    A lot of money was spent in a nationwide search, and the delays were many. Finally, commission members settled on some finalists, and from that group one man was chosen as the top candidate.

  • Years ago, the federal and state governments established what is commonly called “Do Not Call” lists. You can add your phone number to a list, and telemarketers, etc., are not supposed to call you.
    Like so many other government programs, these are a complete joke.
    I get so many calls on both my home phone and our office newsroom phone, both of which have been on the list for quite some time.

  • What kind of parents would let their kid bring a suitcase with batteries and wires to school? And why would they be shocked when the kid is arrested?
    Personally, I don’t care if the boy’s name is Ahmed or Joe Lunchbucket … he’s supposed to be smart, but he brings a suitcase as described above to his school. His teacher turned him in, and authorities were called and handcuffed him.
    Good for them.