http://www.smcitizen.com/todaysnews/rss.xml en Driver injured in SW wreck http://www.smcitizen.com/content/driver-injured-sw-wreck <img src="http://www.smcitizen.com/sites/www.smcitizen.com/files/imagecache/thumb85/0616_pic_page_1_accident.jpg" alt="The SUV of Justin Griffis lies mangled against a utility pole at Southwest 60th Avenue and 95th Street." title="The SUV of Justin Griffis lies mangled against a utility pole at Southwest 60th Avenue and 95th Street." align="left" hspace="6" width="113" height="85" /><p> <strong>By Jim Clark</strong></p> <p> A 31-year-old man was hospitalized in critical condition early Tuesday after his car smashed into a utility pole in Southwest Ocala.</p> <p> At 12:50 a.m. Tuesday, Marion County Fire Rescue Team was dispatched to reports of a motor vehicle accident near the intersection of Southwest 95th Street Road and Southwest 60th Avenue, Ocala. The 911 caller reported that a vehicle hit a power pole and the vehicle was possibly on fire.</p> New emergency director speaks at Friday Forum http://www.smcitizen.com/content/new-emergency-director-speaks-friday-forum <img src="http://www.smcitizen.com/sites/www.smcitizen.com/files/imagecache/thumb85/0519_pic_friday_forum.jpg" alt="Preston Bowlin, newly appointed Marion County Emergency Management Director in the Sheriff’s Bureau of Support Services." title="Preston Bowlin, newly appointed Marion County Emergency Management Director in the Sheriff’s Bureau of Support Services." align="left" hspace="6" width="64" height="85" /><p> Preston Bowlin, newly appointed Marion County Emergency Management Director in the Sheriff&rsquo;s Bureau of Support Services, appeared at the May 12 Friday Forum on his first day in that position to discuss hurricane and other disaster preparedness with three representatives of Marion County Public Schools. They were Dr. Craig Ham, Deputy Superintendent of Operations; Charles &ldquo;Steve&rdquo;Huffstutler, Emergency Coordinator and Risk Inspector; and Dennis McFatten, Safe Schools Coordinator.</p> West Port student seeks future in ballet http://www.smcitizen.com/content/west-port-student-seeks-future-ballet <img src="http://www.smcitizen.com/sites/www.smcitizen.com/files/imagecache/thumb85/0512_pic_ballet_dancer_1.jpg" alt="" title="" align="left" hspace="6" width="93" height="85" /><p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <em><strong>By Augie Salzer</strong></em></p> <p> There is one young man in Dunnellon with the brute strength, balance, flexibility, endurance and the strong core muscular development to be a professional dancer in the ballet.</p> <p> William Welch, 17, has been working diligently for the last seven years just to obtain this status.</p> Friday Forum to discuss storms http://www.smcitizen.com/content/friday-forum-discuss-storms <p> Hurricane season doesn&rsquo;t start until June 1 but the National Weather Service has declared this Hurricane Preparedness Week to make sure people give themselves enough time to put a plan in place to protect both their family and property from the effects of a potential natural disaster.</p> <p> Erin Miller , Deputy Director of Emergency Management in the Sheriff&rsquo;s Office, will discuss local preparedness efforts and disaster relief when the May 12 Friday Forum of Marion County meets at 11:30 a.m. at the Golden Corral, 2111 SW State Road 200, Ocala.</p> Burn ban now mandatory http://www.smcitizen.com/content/burn-ban-now-mandatory <p> The Marion County Multi-Agency Wildland Task Force unanimously recommended a mandatory burn ban for Marion County.</p> <p> Marion County Administrator Mounir Bouyounes approved and signed the emergency declaration, making the burn ban effective as of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 25, 2017.</p> <p> The mandatory ban is due to the hot, dry and windy conditions that continue to exacerbate and threaten wildfires within Marion County.</p> <p> This measure is intended to help protect the health, safety and property of the citizens and visitors of Marion County.</p> State Road 200 development advances http://www.smcitizen.com/content/state-road-200-development-advances <img src="http://www.smcitizen.com/sites/www.smcitizen.com/files/imagecache/thumb85/0324_pic_ranch.jpg" alt="" title="" align="left" hspace="6" width="129" height="85" /><p> <em><strong>By Jim Clark</strong></em></p> <p> The mammoth new subdivision planned for State Road 200 just north of the Citrus County line has cleared its first hurdle with the County Commission.</p> <p> Despite a barrage of complaints from the floor and an 80-person petition, all protesting the proposal, commissioners voted 4-0 to let the developers of the 5,400 single-family unit site, plus multi-family, independent living and assisted living facilities, advance the project to state officials for review from various agencies. Commissioner Michelle Stone did not attend.</p> Trauma Center honored http://www.smcitizen.com/content/trauma-center-honored <p> Ocala Health&rsquo;s Trauma Center has been verified as a Level II Trauma Center by the Verification Review Committee (VRC), an ad hoc committee of the Committee on Trauma (COT) of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). This achievement recognizes the trauma center&rsquo;s dedication to providing optimal care for injured patients.<br /> Message to the graduates 2017 http://www.smcitizen.com/content/message-graduates-2017 <p> This is a yearly column, updated with latest information.</p> <p> 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.</p> <p> 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.</p>