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Opinion

  • There’s an old quote with many variations that is one of my favorites. Here’s one of many choices: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
    In our schools, both public and private, we are great in STEM, science, technology, engineering and math. It seems that we have gotten away from some of the core learning that many of us experienced when we were in school.
    I’ve always felt that English and related subjects should be emphasized. Social media have destroyed grammar and spelling. Is anyone still teaching these?

  • There are two weekends that I despise every year. Many others talk about changing them, but one is here again. Can you guess what they are?
    Here’s a hint: Turn your clocks ahead this weekend.
    I have railed against the time change for years. I want it one way, I don’t care which, just be consistent.
    The state Legislature has taken up the cause, and this year considered different proposals. However, I was not in favor of any of them.

  • It’s a little tough to write anything that hasn’t been said after Valentine’s Day’s terrible shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, in which 14 students and three faculty members were killed. But I’m going to give it a try.

    Fifty-five years ago, the Supreme Court, under liberal Earl Warren, ruled against prayer in the public schools. Since then public school educators are almost paranoid about teaching any type of morality in the schools, lest some misguided parent go after them if they do.

  • The Marion County School Board has decided to put the renewal of a local tax on the primary ballot in August.
    So if you’re a snowbird who will leave to go up north this summer, and you’re registered to vote here, make sure you get information about absentee ballots before you leave.
    The issue will be decided before you come back.

  • The debate over removing everything from our culture that can be linked to the Confederacy has reached a new ridiculousness.

    In a move designed to avoid controversy, supposedly approved by the subject, announcer Robert Lee was switched off the University of Virginia football game this weekend because of his name, similar to the military leader of the Confederacy. The university is in Charlottesville, site of recent clashes between demonstrators. Instead, he’ll do the ESPN game in Pittsburgh.

  • Some years ago, I was between newspaper jobs (it’s a long story) and I was working as a convenience store clerk in a beach community.

    It was a busy store (location, location, location) so there were always at least two of us on duty at all times. We were open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., so two shifts of eight hours each took care of it.

  • Let me tell you about my non-adventure with last Monday’s eclipse, and about what I feel is the anniversary of an even bigger sun event.

    Monday is production day around here for the West Marion Messenger, the other paper we put out in this part of the county. That meant I was up at some ridiculous hour getting it done.

    I finished about noon, which is early for me, and stretched out on the couch, put on The Weather Channel to watch the event.

    I fell asleep.

  • 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.