WUFT News

Bryant House To Become Historic Resource Center

By on March 23rd, 2015 | Last updated: March 23, 2015 at 6:04 pm
Suzanne Thomas points out aerial photos of downtown Ocala hanging in the front parlor of the W.R. Bryant house located on the historic East Fort King Street.

Suzanne Thomas points out aerial photos of downtown Ocala hanging in the front parlor of the W.R. Bryant House located on the historic East Fort King Street. Christina Hunt/WUFT News

At the turn of the 20th century, Ocala’s Fort King Road was a prominent thoroughfare lined with homes belonging to lawyers, doctors, generals and city councilmen.

One of the homes is in the process of being restored and turned into a public historic resource center.

The Historic Ocala Preservation Society (HOPS) purchased the house at 712 E. Fort King St. in August 2013 for $54,900, said Suzanne Thomas, the society’s president.

The society’s next goal is to turn the front parlor into a resource center for historic research, Thomas said. They plan to start moving files to the house next week in an effort to open the room by summer.

The home was built over 120 years ago by prosperous land owner and farmer W.R. Bryant.

Bryant’s son, Charles, was Ocala’s first certified public accountant. His grandson, Cecil Farris Bryant, became the 34th governor of Florida, said Julie Felter, Cecil’s daughter.

“I was really delighted (the Bryant House) came back on the market and that HOPS bought it,” Felter said. “HOPS did a fantastic job of renovating it and decorating it for the Christmas tours, just beautiful. So that was very exciting to me.”

Felter can recall memories of visiting her great-aunt at the home on what is now East Fort King Street.

“My (great-) aunt Reba made literally all of my clothes, and so I would be over at the house all the time,” Felter said. “She also babysat for me. I grew up being in that house until she passed in 1974.”

Thomas estimates that the society has already invested about $40,000 into restoring the exterior and first floor of the Bryant House. This number does not include volunteer labor and donations from the community and HOPS members.

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The W.R. Bryant House sits on East Fort King Street, once a prosperous boulevard of homes built by Ocala’s most prominent citizens. Christina Hunt / WUFT News

The back room on the first floor of the Bryant House is going to be an office for HOPS, Thomas said. The dining room is used for meetings.

Brian Stoothoff, a HOPS board member, is helping to create this resource center by basing it upon centers he visited in historic cities like Charleston, Savannah and St. Augustine.

“Ocala is one of the largest historic districts in Florida,” Stoothoff said. “We have such a rich history that is just invaluable, and we really wish to share that with the people of Ocala.”

Initially, the resource center will be available for the public to come in by appointment and look through files and computer databases to find information on individual homes and the different historic districts, Stoothoff said.

Information on the 255 dwellings in the Ocala Historic District is the first priority, Thomas said. After all of that information is compiled, they will start gathering material for the city’s other historic districts: Tuscawilla Park, downtown and West Ocala.

As the resource room grows, Stoothoff said he hopes to have more people dedicated to volunteering their time there so that it will be possible to have scheduled walk-in hours.

Stoothoff said he thinks there will be an interest among local people, especially those living in the historic districts, to learn the history of their homes and other buildings in Ocala.

“What we hope to do is have a resource room that will make us proud to have the material available for both the residents of the historic district and our citizens to appreciate the history of Ocala,” Stoothoff said.

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Hampton Residents Mistakenly Receive Expensive Water Bills

By on March 23rd, 2015 | Last updated: March 23, 2015 at 4:06 pm

The city of Hampton is working hard to correct an issue many residents found in their mailboxes at the beginning of the month. Some in the Bradford County city received a hefty utility bill– with some more than 100 times what people usually pay.

An example Davis posted on Facebook showing a resident who was billed for about $10,800.

Amy Davis, former Hampton city clerk, posted a resident’s bill on Facebook showing an irregular bill of about $10,800. Residents in the city of Hampton have been receiving hefty bills more than 100 times over their last bill. Zak Dahlheimer/WUFT News

Amy Davis, a former Hampton city clerk, took to social media to express frustration about the bills, some of which reached four figures.

“You never send a $10,000 water bill,” said Davis. “Common sense says don’t mail a $10,000 water bill to a customer who’s regular bill is $28 a month.”

The former Hampton city clerk said she’s received at least six complaints from residents who received bills ranging anywhere from $2,000 to $12,000. Hampton City Council Chair Dan Williams said it was a common mistake that was overlooked after reading city water meters.

Another example of a bill, this one totaling more than $2,000. The average monthly water bill for Hampton, according to Davis, is $28.

A Hampton residents bill totaled more than $2,000 for March. The average monthly water bill for Hampton, according to Davis, is $28. Zak Dahlheimer/WUFT News

“You had meter readings that last month were maybe 41111, and then this month it was 041111,” said Williams. “The zero should have been dropped and it should’ve maintained the same numbers.”

Williams said residents can still come in to Hampton City Hall to receive a credit on their initial water bill.

But Davis says the correction should’ve been run differently. Last year the city was almost dissolved by the state following an audit that revealed more than 30 violations at the federal, state and local level.

“These records are going to be audited by a financial auditor and an operational auditor. And what is the excuse that they’re going to use to (tell) the auditor when they run either the pre-bill or final billing, and it’s several hundred thousand dollars in revenue that doesn’t exist,” said Davis. “The correct thing to have done was to have back that out and rerun the bills.”

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March 23, 2015: Afternoon News in 90

By on March 23rd, 2015 | Last updated: March 23, 2015 at 2:16 pm

Amanda Jackson produced this update.

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In The News: Jameis Winston Missing Draft, Guns Versus Alligator Attack Debate, UF Physician at White House, Tallahassee Shuts Out Medical Marijuana

By on March 23rd, 2015 | Last updated: March 23, 2015 at 1:54 pm
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Two Dead After Murder-Suicide In Ocala Early Monday Morning

By on March 23rd, 2015 | Last updated: March 23, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Chad Alan Miller, 38, and Kristi J. Musick, 44, were found dead Monday morning.

According to a press release from Sgt. Angy Scroble of the Ocala Police Department, the preliminary investigation indicated Miller shot Musick before shooting himself in an apparent murder-suicide. Officers responded to a call at approximately 4:51 a.m. at the victims’ shared residence at 1032 NE 32nd Terrace.

Officers found both victims deceased on the kitchen floor with gunshot wounds to the head, according to the press release.

The Ocala Police Department is still at the scene and will be releasing more information as the investigation continues.

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March 23, 2015: Morning News in 90

By and on March 23rd, 2015 | Last updated: March 23, 2015 at 10:13 am

 

Briana Erickson produced this update.

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In The News: Florida Prison Uses Brutal Discipline, A Florida County Keeps Red Light Cameras, Amendment to Limit Gay Adoptions, Ted Cruz Announces Presidential Campaign

By , , and on March 23rd, 2015 | Last updated: March 23, 2015 at 9:20 am
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Get To Know Some Of The 2015 TEDxUF Speakers

By on March 20th, 2015 | Last updated: March 20, 2015 at 6:30 pm

This year a total of eight speakers will take the stage at the Philips Center as part of what has popularly become known as “TED Talks.”

The locally organized annual event, a branch of TED known as TEDx — the “x” standing for independently organized events — brings together what they call “ideas worth spreading.”

These talks can be as long or as short as they need to be and vary on topics.

The Speakers

Jill Sonke is a researcher and Assistant Director of the UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine program.

Her topic is on art and medicine, and how the combination of the two can be used to help heal.

Chris Hass is an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology at the University of Florida. He directs one of the most dynamic clinical-research programs in Parkinson’s disease and Movement Disorders in the country.

His topic is on empowering those with Parkinson’s and the people around them.

Michael Morris is the Academic Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He founded the Entrepreneurship and Empowerment in South Africa program in 1997 at the University of Cape Town.

He’s discussing the possibility of “what if” everyone starting a venture.

Participants will have an opportunity to tell their story at “The Lab,” which will allow them to record a message for an interactive time capsule.

You can read more on them and the other five speakers on TEDxUF.com

You can watch the live stream of TEDxUF here on March 21st.

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Hawthorne Community Welcomes Fire Station’s Return

By on March 20th, 2015 | Last updated: March 20, 2015 at 6:00 pm

Hawthorne residents might notice lower insurance rates now that a local fire station moved back into town.

The station, at 7405 SE. 221st St. in Hawthorne, opened on March 9. Alachua County Fire-Rescue Station 25 is 5 miles closer than the previous station at Grove Park, which had been serving the community for six years.

The new location of Alachua County Fire Station #25 is now in a community in hopes that they can respond to calls quicker. The Hawthorne station is three miles west of its old location, said Bill Northcutt, Alachua County fire rescue chief.

The new location of Alachua County Fire Station #25 is now in a community in hopes that they can respond to calls quicker. The Hawthorne station is five miles west of its old location, said Bill Northcutt, Alachua County fire rescue chief. Rebecca Rubin / WUFT News

Those who live within several miles of a fire station could potentially see lowered insurance rates because of the quicker response times, said Ellen Vause, Hawthorne’s city manager.

Vause explained that timing is key and said the more centralized downtown location will hopefully offset costs from the Grove Park location, which is farther away. 

Firefighters hope to respond to calls from city residents quicker now that they will be in a neighborhood, said Bill Northcutt, Alachua County fire rescue deputy chief.

The Grove Park station was a doublewide mobile home that was not able to weather storms, Northcutt said. Now, the new brick building can endure the severe storms, meaning firefighters can stay on location regardless of the weather conditions.

Amos Mayes, who has lived in Hawthorne for over 40 years, said he appreciates the fire station being back in the community.

“It’s closer,” he said. “It’s more convenient that it’s right here in Hawthorne. I prefer it being up here than back in a trailer.”

The 8,475-square-foot facility offers fire and medical services, which will benefit the large elderly population in Hawthorne, Vause said.

“We have numerous senior (citizen) calls, so we are really excited to have that station occupied again,” she said.

The city of Hawthorne site closed in 2009 due to insufficient funding during the recession.

Now, Alachua County has funded a remodel of the abandoned station with money earmarked for fire rescue services, Vause said. Northcutt said they spent around $800,000 on renovations.

“There are certain pots of money that can only be used for the Fire Department,” he said. “We didn’t compete with anyone for those funds.”

The renovations focused mainly on hardening the building, including adding a backup generator and hurricane-proof windows, Vause said.

“We’re really glad to know that during a major event, the county made preparations for the units to be able to stay in the building,” she said.

The centralized station also has new air conditioning and the latest technology.

The initial stages of design took a little over a year, and the actual construction took about six months, Northcutt said.

“It was completely gutted,” he said. “Everything was stripped all the way down to the walls. In essence, it is a brand-new building.”

The Hawthorne station was initially built in the 1970s with a grant for the volunteer Fire Department. A few years later, Alachua County used the building to house a fire department but left in the early 2000s to open the Grove Park unit, Vause said.

The city of Hawthorne then started its own department, which had to close down in 2009 after the poor economy affected the population’s tax base. The department stayed vacant until the city and the county entered into an agreement in 2013 to give the county the building. It remains a county building today, Vause said.

“It actually puts us back in a community,” Northcutt said. “Grove Park was not really a community.”

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UF Organization To Host Barrels For Boobs Surfing Competition For Breast Cancer Charity

By on March 20th, 2015 | Last updated: March 20, 2015 at 5:59 pm
Marley Boerema (left) and Jenna Curtis talk about what they look to accomplish with Barrels for Boobs while sitting under a covered half pipe.  Curtis said the hope is that the philanthropy will be something carried down for years in Wahines of the Waves.  RJ Schaffer/WUFT News
Marley Boerema (left) and Jenna Curtis talk about what they look to accomplish with Barrels for Boobs while sitting under a covered half pipe. Curtis said the hope is that the philanthropy will be something carried down for years in Wahines of the Waves. RJ Schaffer/WUFT News

 Jenna Curtis was sitting at home on winter vacation when the name came to her: Barrels for Boobs.

“The title came to me and I go, ‘Marley, what do you think?’ and she loved it and said, ‘Let’s make it happen,’” Curtis said.

Marley Boerema is one of the co-creators of surfing competition Barrels for Boobs along with Curtis. The event will be held on March 28 at Butler Beach near St. Augustine. All of the proceeds will go to the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation.

Boerema and Curtis are part of an organization called Wahines of the Waves, an all-female surf, skate and wakeboard club at the University of Florida. The group has never had any kind of official philanthropy until Boerema started brainstorming.

She based the idea off a friendly surf competition the women have competed in with the UF surf club in the past. She wanted to mimic the relaxed attitude of that competition while still being able to raise a sizeable amount of money.

“I assumed it would be as easy as that to plan because that gets thrown together in a week. Then I realized because we have sponsors, we owe a lot to those sponsors and [fulfilling those obligations is] the part that becomes a problem,” Boerema said. “We felt the stress to constantly get the word out and to constantly be contacting the sponsors to make sure they don’t forget about us.”

The sponsors were necessary to add the extracurricular parts of the event. The competition itself has identical divisions for both genders in the categories of beginner, short board, longboard, tandem and even the category of “weirdest thing you can surf.”

Curtis said they have also considered adding a division of “best wipeout” to encourage those who are new to surfing to come out to try the sport.

Before the 9 a.m. event, there will be a session of beach yoga, led by Boerema’s mother. It will also feature a raffle with items donated from sponsors such as Salt Life, Flomotion, O’Neill, Serengetee and LUV SURF Apparel, among others.

Locking down those sponsors came under the guidance of Dixie Smith, the president of Wahines. Smith learned how to interact with sponsors after her work with other organizations at UF such as the wakeboarding club, of which she is also the president.

She said the inspiration to create a philanthropic event for the organization stemmed from the steady growth they have had the past few years. The group now has up to 80 active members. Curtis said the Wahines membership nearly tripled at the start of the fall semester, which she attributed to a great freshman class filled with women looking to get involved in action sports.

Advanced registration to compete is $15, but the event is open to the public. Curtis and Boerema called and emailed their favorite brands in hopes of soliciting donations. Some of the prizes that will be raffled off include three Penny skateboards, two $200 Fugoo speakers, a $60 boogie board and possibly a longboard surfboard.

An after party will follow the competition with the chance of live music and food, depending on what sponsors donate.

​Curtis noted they had issues going through the county government to rent the beach, which is in St. Johns County. The first problem stemmed from a $300 fee the county said is needed to host it, which the women hope will be waived since all of the proceeds are going to charity.

​“We had to find a place where we could have a lot of people,” Smith said. “There were so many legalities. … The biggest thing has been trying to work with the county and not be held back by the rules.”

The county told them if more than 150 people come, police will need to be hired for the event. Because it is the first time they are doing this, the Wahines are unsure of how many people will come out, though they are confident they will break that threshold with help from other surfers like those that Boerema knows from home and surf clubs from other universities.

However, coordinating with the county can be difficult. Boerema and Curtis’s schedule doesn’t always match up with the county’s representatives’ schedules. St. Johns County representatives only work Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m..

“There’s a lot of not knowing,” Boerema said.

Curtis would prefer to focus on other issues like getting Gainesville citizens to the venue via carpooling, which they are promoting on the event’s Facebook page.

“Breast cancer is a huge problem,” Curtis said. “We’ve seen so many improvements in breast cancer research and treatments over the past however many years, so we definitely think this money will go to good use. If we can’t cure cancer, we can always learn more about it.”

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