• The voters of Florida made it a little harder, several years ago, to amend the state’s Constitution. To be sure, there are still amendments constantly being proposed and being put on the ballot, but now it takes a 60 percent approval vote to get them passed.
    This all came about after an amendment was passed to protect pregnant pigs. What’s that, you ask? Yes, pregnant pigs. If you weren’t here then, we’re not going to even attempt to explain it to you.

  • This item was submitted by Capt. James Pogue of the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

    Since the inauguration of Sheriff Chris Blair, the Sheriff's Office has undergone extensive scrutiny and regeneration began. It started with the hiring of an experienced command staff which included Chief Deputy Fred LaTorre, Major Tommy Bibb and Major Don Maines: returning 134 years of law enforcement experience to the agency while eliminating the need to promote 16 current employees, resulting in a saving of approximately $148,000.

  • This is a yearly column, updated with latest information.
    This is a big month 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 high schools, a landmark day for a few hundred young adults who are ready to venture out into the world.

  • Years ago, when the Florida Legislature, under pressure from the Feds, adopted a mandatory seat belt use law, they made it a secondary offense. In other words, police couldn’t stop you for not using a seat belt.
    They had to stop you for something else before you could receive a seat belt citation.
    Eventually, someone realized how silly this was, so they made it a primary violation. Now if you drive down the road without your seat belt hooked up, you can be pulled over.

  • The year was … well, it was in the late 1940s, I’m not sure exactly what year it was.
    I was just a little kid then, but I remember going out in the car with my dad and mom. We went to a vacant parking lot and, shock of shocks, my folks switched positions and mom got behind the wheel.
    She was learning to drive.

  • One of the services that law enforcement agencies provide a couple of times per year is the “pill take-back day” that was held last Saturday.
    On that day, people can drop medication, usually unwanted or outdated, off at any of the sites and it will be disposed of properly. Nationally, the Drug Enforcement Administration pushes the event, and local law enforcement agencies cooperate.

  • They are among the most dedicated workers anywhere. They are extremely important to the community and the families within.
    They take your children, some at a young age, and try to mold them into productive citizens, making sure they learn the basics.
    They are, of course, the teachers in our schools.
    Next week is Teacher Appreciation Week in the Marion County Schools.
    Most teachers are hard-working people. Some of the problems they have to endure are not of their own making.

  • When asked if he had any political affiliation, humorist Will Rogers used to quip: “I am not a member of any organized party. I’m a Democrat.” If he were alive today, Rogers could claim membership in either of two disorganized parties.
    Republicans didn’t learn much from their disorganized politics under presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, which led to the Great Depression (1929-1939). During those three presidencies, Republicans controlled both houses of Congress (1921 to 1933).

  • When I was a kid, living up north, I always wondered how, on Feb. 2, some silly little animal in Pennsylvania could predict the weather.
    It was Groundhog Day, and supposedly if the groundhog saw his shadow and scurried back into his hole, there would be six more weeks of winter. If he didn’t see his shadow, there would be an early spring.
    The biggest celebration is in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. In fact, a cult movie starring Bill Murray was made in 1993 featuring this festival and, indeed, a festival has built up around this holiday.

  • When I was a young boy in Catholic school, we sang a hymn, “Long live the pope his praises sound, again and yet again; his rule is over space and time, his throne the hearts of men.”

    The pope in those days was Pope Pius XII, and I always thought that Pius was a strange name, and it was even stranger that there had been 12 of them. Of course, he was followed by John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who is still pope today.

  • At this writing congressional lawmakers are reported to be “cautiously optimistic” about producing a new immigration law. That’s Washington talk meaning the effort could collapse if Congress or the White House has an ego tantrum.

  • Quick now! On Interstate 75, where is Exit 341? Anybody? That’s what I thought.
    Electronic signs have popped up on all major east-west roads near the Interstate in the past couple of weeks, with large letters blinking at you: “Exit 341 closed 02/11/13.” Then it flashes to something about detours.
    To me, these signs prove one thing, that there is a major disconnect between government bureaucrats and the common man, residents such as you and me.

  • In a nation where the words “race fans” assume either the pounding of hooves at the horse races or the roar of the engines at NASCAR tracks, it’s a stark contrast when people attend bicycle races.
    It’s the sound of silence as bikes quietly zip along the streets where the race is being held.
    The silence of the sordid side of bicycle racing was broken last week when Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France winner and Olympic silver medalist, sat down for an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

  • Reportedly, there’s a Legislative Delegation meeting on Jan. 8 at 1 p.m. at the college’s Klein Center. I say reportedly, because the only place it’s shown up on is the “Sunshine notice” put out by the County Commission anytime more than one commissioner might be at some sort of function together.

    So far I have received no notice of the meeting from chairman Dennis Baxley or any other legislator, nor have I seen it publicized anywhere else. So, I would suggest calling before going.

  • Well, we knew it all had to end sometime. The world is evolving, and one of these days everything will come to a conclusion as we know it.
    I’m talking, of course, about the Mayan prophecy that the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012, or 12-21-12.
    Of course, none of the Mayans who made that prediction about 1200 years ago or so are still around to see if it comes true. Their world ended long ago.

  • Just when you think you’re going to have a nice, positive, post-election column, something happens to gum up the works.

    I guess I can still legitimately praise George Tomyn and Dr. Diana Greene for the school superintendent campaign they ran.

  • Sometimes the calendar can be a little bit unfair with its listing of dates, holidays and remembrances. Take this week, for instance.

    Thursday was Nov. 22. Because it was the fourth Thursday in November, it was Thanksgiving Day in the United States, the earliest date it can be. It was a day for giving thanks for all that we have in this great nation, whether you agree with everything that is going on or not.

  • When a top political candidate comes to visit your area, it’s a public relations boon, especially when someone like vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan opens his comments by saying what great Florida weather he was experiencing.
    But Ryan’s visit to Ocala last week has me thinking of some things, just coming up with some questions without answers. So let me present some of those to you.

  • Experience means been there; done that


  • An election message that’s worth repeating


    There are a lot of people who immediately think “no” when the prospect of a new tax appears on the ballot. They don’t take the time to figure out how much, or how little, it would cost them, or how much the rejection of that tax could affect their lives.