Archive for August 2011
Evergreen Missionary Baptist Church will hold a spaghetti dinner fundraiser on Friday, Aug. 26, beginning at 11 a.m.
The meal will consist of spaghetti with meat sauce, green beans, corn on the cob, a side salad with dressing, garlic bread or roll and iced tea.
The cost of the dinner is $7 per tray with all proceeds going to the building fund.
The event will be held at the church, located on Highway 53 North. If you would like local deliveries to your place of business with multiple orders, please call (850) 973-4029 or (850) 973-6352. Leave a message.
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Madison County may end up owing the state of Florida more than $22,000 in back sales taxes accrued over the last five years, if the Florida Department of Revenue has its way.
The issue came to light when the DOR questioned why the County of Madison was not collecting sales tax on rental charges for the “green boxes” used by businesses in solid waste removal.
At the Board of County Commissioners meeting Wednesday, Aug. 17, Commissioners stated that the reason the sales tax was not collected was that providing the green boxes was believed to fall under the category of a “service provided” by the county – receptacles for containing and removing of solid waste – and the money charged for placement and use of the boxes was a fee for service provided rather than a rental charge, and therefore not subject to sales tax.
The Department of Revenue, however, may see things a little differently. DOR may want to go back five years, auditing the county’s records regarding the green boxes. The question hinges on whether the money is indeed a service fee, and therefore exempt like the county thought it was, or if it is a rental charge and therefore subject to the tax. If DOR decides the latter and wants to collect sales tax retroactively for that time, Madison may find itself socked with the tax bill.
In other business, the commission proceeded quickly through its agenda, ending up with a total of five items moved to the next meeting’s agenda. The board also appointed Marianne Green to the Madison County Value Adjustment Board, as the one citizen member owning homesteaded property. The other two members, from the BOCC, are Commission Chair Renetta Parrish and Commissioner Justin Hamrick.
The purpose of the Value Adjustment Board is to hear appeals regarding denied exemptions, petitions relating to assessments and appeals concerning ad valorem tax deferrals. Green said she would be honored to serve on the board and happily be of service to the public in that capacity.
Greene Publishing, Inc.
The National High School Rodeo Association brings thousands of teenagers from around the nation to their competitions each year. These rodeo stars all travel across the country to show off their talents in front of the judges.
Seth Richardson of Madison County was one of those talented teenagers competing for top prizes at this year’s National High School Finals Rodeo.
Richardson, along with his partner, Blaine Courson of Lake City, finished with an overall average of 26.06 in the team roping competition. This qualified them in 21st place, just one spot shy of reaching the next level of competition. The pair competed against over 150 other teenagers. This means that their 21st place finish put them in the top 25 percent overall.
In order to reach the National Finals the boys had to finish in the top four overall in their state. There were 26 rodeos throughout the year that they had to compete and place in to be honored in the top four. Richardson and Courson qualified and were sent to Nationals. This year Finals took place in Gillette, Wyoming.
Richardson has competed in other nationally ranked competitions, but when asked how he felt competing for the NHSRA he said, “It was exciting and very prestigious. It allows you to be recognized and get free stuff. We were even on TV.”
In total Richardson estimates that he has competed in over 200 rodeos. He has traveled to Jacksonville, Memphis, Tenn., Oklahoma City and Shoney, Oklahoma and many other places for rodeos. He traveled to Alabama Aug. 19, for another rodeo and following that will travel to Mississippi. He is a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, and several of the rodeos he competes in are sponsored and hosted by the PRCA.
When asked what his favorite part of roping is, Richardson said, “I like getting to spend one-on-one time with my dad. I also like winning the money and prizes.” He is the son of Epp and Micky Richardson.
Richardson plans to pursue his Associate Arts degree and continue roping a lot. After receiving his AA he plans to slow down a bit on roping to focus on becoming a radiologist. However, after he gets his degree in radiology Richardson days that he will be back at it full force with rodeo. “My dream would be to compete in the NFR (National Finals Rodeo). But my main goal is to just rope 100 percent,” he said.
Greene Publishing, Inc.
“Pray, Fight, Win.” That is the motto that has pulled Catherine Maultsby and her family through the last six months. Catherine, or Cat, as she is known by friends and family, is a Madison girl that has taken over the hearts of so many through her powerful story.
Now it is time for the community to give back a little of the hope and strength that Cat has shown. On Saturday, Sept. 24, there will be a blood drive called, “Cat’s Blood Drive.” It will take place from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Winn-Dixie parking lot.
Catherine, daughter of J.P. and Julie Maultsby, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her left lower leg on March 10. Her leg was amputated on June 2, and she now refers to it as “Peggy.” On Aug. 11 Cat got her “bionic leg,” or “bobonica,” as Cat affectionately refers to it. This gave her the ability to walk for the first time in five months. Cat and her parents and family have relied heavily on the prayers of this community to help her pull through her battle. Now is the community’s chance to make a difference in other people’s lives as well.
All blood types are welcome and everyone is asked to come help out. Not only will you be helping out Cat, who gets “credits” for each donation, but you will also be helping someone in need of blood.
To make an appointment to be a part of “Cat’s Blood Drive,” call Summer Jones at (850)673-9719.
No, this isn’t a diatribe about another sports scandal at the University of Miami, although I’m not certain who is more professional, the Canes or the Dolphins. And can anyone tell me why the UM mascot is a duck? Some things just defy explanation.
Instead, this is about Florida’s most serious natural threat – tropical cyclones or hurricanes. With Irene bearing down on the southeast, I’m worried about a couple of issues.
First, we have a lot of new Floridians who have never experienced a hurricane. After getting blasted in 2004 and 2005, we haven’t seen a hint of a big storm since. And in those six years, Florida has continued to grow. The 2010 census lists our population at 18.8 million. In a couple of years, we’ll pass New York as the third most populous state. That means a whole lot of folks don’t understand the intensity of these storms and how to prepare for a big blow.
They don’t understand how to plan for an approaching hurricane – food; medications; cash; a full gas tank; batteries and a radio; food and water for three days; etc.
They don’t understand the counter-clockwise rotation means that the worst area of the storm is in the northeast quadrant. They don’t understand how you need to evacuate way ahead of time so you’re not caught in the mother-of-all traffic jams in deteriorating conditions. They don’t understand that you need a place to evacuate to and people who will take you in. They don’t understand that you might need to drive for 500 miles to find a vacant hotel room.
They don’t understand that the wind will destroy things but water kills. They don’t have a plan to take care of their pets. They don’t understand that once you evacuate, it may be weeks before you’re allowed to return to your home.
In short, they are green, and that is a dangerous thing on the peninsula of Florida during the second half of the year – the Atlantic hurricane season.
Second, a lot of real estate, particularly in coastal zones, is insured by the taxpayers of the state of Florida. After those two devastating years (in 2004, we were hit by five storms including three major hurricanes; four struck Florida the next year including two major storms), property insurance rates went through he roof. Homeowners complained to the politicians who were all too quick to put a band aid on the mess.
Led by newly elected Governor Charlie Crist and a compliant Legislature in 2006, the Florida CAT fund became the primary source of insurance and reinsurance in what was then a booming real estate market. Private insurers bailed out of the Florida market faster than illegals in an ICE raid. As we’re discovering with health insurance, private companies cannot compete with the government behemoth because politicians make sure that the government doesn’t charge market rates. Instead, government goes belly-up when the bill comes due.
The Legislature has been pecking away at this problem for the past three years, but I’m deathly worried that when (not if) we get smacked by a big storm, the resultant bill will devastate our state budget. Then watch our bond rating dive like opening day of scallop season.
Here in North Central Florida, it is easy to be complacent. Nowhere in the peninsula is there anyplace more protected. The shallow waters of the Big Bend are not conducive to attracting big storms. Ernest Page, who was quite a historian, once told me that the only storm that was still a hurricane (winds above 75 mph) when it arrived in our county was the 1935 hurricane that first devastated the Keys. If memory serves me correctly, that was the most powerful storm to strike the US mainland in the 20th Century.
But the damage from a major hurricane striking an urban area like the Gold Coast would affect us all in ways we cannot imagine. The people who live in these hurricane-vulnerable areas must pay the insurance tab to protect their property. The fact that vote-greedy politicians bought their support by buying down insurance rates betting the state wouldn’t get struck, at least on their watch, is just another example of political malfeasance.
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Beginning Wednesday evening, Aug. 24 and continuing every Wednesday evening after that, from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m., a brand-new support group for women will begin meeting in the conference room of the Madison Public Library, at 378 NW College Loop.
The group is being organized and hosted by Candida Rogers, and is free and open to all women who wish to attend and talk about the kinds of pressures and stresses they face in their lives as women. Rogers is using her own personal experience to organize this group to help other women, and said the group will address a wide range of topics, from abuse and domestic violence, to stress management, weight loss, marriage, parenting, child care and work-related issues.
The very first meeting on the 24th is a “get-to-know-you” meeting, where women can register with whatever name they would like to use during the group sessions; Rogers will ask that everyone write down goals they would like to reach, but need encouragement for, so she can plan the next meeting to address those issues. After seeing how that meeting goes, she will plan for the third meeting, and from there, the fourth meeting, and so on. Some meetings might even have a guest speaker addressing whatever topics of concern the group has.
The meetings are intended to offer encouragement and support, and anything said in the meetings is private and confidential.
For more information about the support group, email Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org. For directions to the library, call the attending librarian at 973-6814.
By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
In the Treasures of Madison County Museum on Range Street, next to the RATT Pact Theatre, Bill Bunting sits amid tangible pieces of Madison’s history, greeting museum visitors as he pores over volumes of reference books, history books, letters, diaries, and countless other materials. His goal is to compile as complete a history as possible on the Confederate Units that formed in Madison County. How many men were there in these units? Who were they? Where did they come from? And what eventually happened to them at the end of the Civil War?
It is a huge undertaking, and Bunting estimates he is about 35 to 40 percent finished. In the end, he hopes to have a day-by-day account of each and every man who came to Madison for the Confederate Army; what day he joined up, what company he was assigned to, what battles he was in, when he got sick, what day he died, where he died, and where he was buried – or, if he survived the war, what day he came back to Madison to be paroled, take the oath of allegiance back to the United States and reapply for the right to vote.
There were perhaps 10, or maybe even 11 Confederate Army companies formed in the Madison area, each comprised of roughly 120 men. Armed with rosters for each company, Bunting can determine which battles the men fought in, and by cross-comparing the dates of those battles with lists of men who were sick and wounded in area field hospitals, he can also determine which battles they were not in, how many people were actually present at a battle, and which companies were not able to fight at full force that day. In any given battle on any given day, a company could be down by as many as 30 or 40 sick and wounded. From various other records, it is possible to determine which companies fought to the left and right of each other, how many men they were able to muster, how many were wounded and how many died.
Through this intricate matching of lists of names and dates, it is possible to trace the path of one soldier (he enlisted in Madison on this day, was wounded on this day, was in the hospital on this day) from day one to the end of the war; or to the date of his death, if he did not survive until the end of the war.
In addition to army records and countless reference books such as the six-volume Biographical Roster of Florida’s Confederate and Union Soldiers, by David W. Hartman and David Coles, Bunting also finds much information in other history books such as Wiregrass to Appomattox, by James Parrish, and Florida Cowman, A History of Cattle Ranching in Florida, by one of Madison’s own, the late Joe A. Akerman, Jr.
There are papers from the archives of the University of Florida, Florida State University and the State of Florida Library – old records as well as more recent theses and dissertations on the Civil War years in Florida.
There are letters from soldiers to their families which prove to be a rich source of detail and information, such as the collection of letters the three Livingston brothers, Archie, Albert and Theodore, wrote back and forth to each other (present day Livingston Street in Madison is named for them). Bunting has an entire binder filed with copies of other soldiers’ letters from the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia. From these letters, it seems most of the young men who enlisted in the Confederate Army, did so for three basic reasons: for the honor, glory and adventure of war; for Southern Independence; or for the right to keep their slaves.
Diaries and journals, from the soldiers and from the townspeople, are another window into the daily happenings of the Civil War years and what the people of Madison saw. There are details of meals and sometimes even banquets that were prepared for groups of soldiers coming through by train, as well as stories of days when there was no time for meals and the soldiers had to grab what they could and eat on the way. There are accounts of units that smuggled in guns up through Smyrna (Daytona). There are anecdotes of the young woman who took off the shoes she was wearing that day and gave them to a young recruit, the company drummer, who was barefoot. There is the story of the sleeping soldier who woke up to find flowers on his chest, and wondered if someone thought he had died. It was only a gift from a local girl who did not have the heart to awaken him, and simply left the flowers with him while he slept.
There will be parts of the book that will deal with what happened on “this date in history.” For example, on May 15, 1865, there is a list of all the activities that took place that day in Madison, including a complete list of men who were paroled, with names, ages and descriptions.
With another five or so units to go through, laboriously checking and cross-checking hundreds of names against endless lists, Bunting still has an enormous amount of work ahead of him. As of yet, he has no idea when his book might be finished and ready for publication, but he keeps steadily working on it.
“It’s a hobby, a thing I enjoy doing,” he said. “It’s really interesting to find out what happened to all these people.”
By Jacob Bembry
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Bob Williamson can sit in his library and look out at part of the vast domain that belongs to him. On one side, he can see beautiful trees and hills. If he glances out of his office to the windows on the other side, he can see Honey Lake.
Although things of beauty surround him, there is nothing pretentious about the man or the things in his home. Things that may cost much surround him but this writer’s eyes are drawn to a football signed by Mark Richt and a guitar, which sits on a stand in a corner. To the writer, the football and guitar seem to fit the easygoing attitude of the man he is interviewing.
Bob Williamson has not always had it so good. He grew up in a family, where his father served in the military and was always having to move. Even after his father left the armed services, the family continued to move. He had gone to 19 different schools. Bob became an alcoholic by the time he was 15. At 19, he became an intravenous drug user and was walking the streets of New Orleans, La., packing a .357 Magnum. He used methamphetamines to get high and heroin to bring him back down. He was booted out of the Army after being diagnosed as a sociopath. He became a hardened violent criminal, committing armed robberies and ending up spending time in Parish Prison in Louisiana. He recounts the tales of his violent life in his autobiography, Miracle on Luckie Street.
How did this former drug addict and alcoholic kick those nasty habits and end up where he is today?
During the interview, Williamson recounts how he learned the law was after him in New Orleans, so he headed to Atlanta, Ga., in order to hide out. When he got there, the first thing he did was sell a pint of blood, because he was flat busted. He got a job cleaning bricks. One day, he borrowed a car from someone and ended up totaling it. During the long stay at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, he befriended a nurse, who would bring books to him from the library every couple of days. She would also bring him the list of the bestselling books in the world. He noticed the Bible was always at the top of the list and although he did not believe in God, he asked her to bring him a Bible.
“I began reading it,” he said. “I started with the Old Testament, but it was too boring, so I began reading the New Testament.”
When Williamson got to Philippians 4:13, he read: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” He got angry and tossed the Bible aside.
When the nurse who had befriended him entered the room, he told her, “That thing is full of lies. God can’t do anything with me. I’m a drug addict and an alcoholic.”
“Listen here,” the nurse answered. “He is God and He can do anything.”
Eventually, Williamson surrendered his life to Christ.
“I found God was different than what I had been told,” he said. Finding Jesus to be kind and fair, Williamson decided to follow his lead.
Later, Williamson got a job in a paint factory, keeping up with labels. The job was not glamorous.
“I was stuck in a dark basement all day,” he said. “I asked them if I could paint the room.”
Working at nights and on weekends, for no pay, he painted the room white.
Following six promotions at the paint factory, Williamson decided to start his own business. His wife and his friends tried to dissuade him from doing it, but he went on anyway.
An artist, Williamson went into the airbrushing business and invented a new airbrushing tool that was recognized as the best in the world.
Williamson was about to go public and put the company he had started on the New York Stock Exchange when he had his heart ripped out. He learned that some of his employees had been stealing from him and plotting to start their own company.
Bankrupt, disheartened but undaunted, Williamson made payment arrangements with all his creditors and began paying them off. He also embarked on a career as a serial entrepreneur, founding 11 companies, which he was able to sell for millions.
Williamson sold his last business for $70 million and decided to retire, but it was too much for the man who admits he is an insomniac, sleeping only three to four hours a night. He decided to expand Honey Lake from just a private residence for him and his family into a resort area. He acquired 2,000 more acres to add to 2,700 acres he purchased from Pansy Poe, owner of Pebble Hill Plantation in Thomasville, Ga.
Williamson said Honey Lake Plantation would officially open for business in late October or early November. He plans to add more people to the company’s payroll, including people who can clean rooms, cook and other things.
The beautiful plantation has an antebellum theme throughout and features include a conference hall, which will be built soon, horses, a smokehouse with wild game processing, a salon and spa and a wedding chapel. The wedding chapel features the stained glass windows from the old Presbyterian church in Madison. At the front of the church, behind the speaker’s rostrum is a cross in the center, with picture windows looking out on beautiful Honey Lake.
Today, Williamson is happily married and has three sons, who are all college graduates. One of his sons helps run Honey Lake with him and another is developing software with him that will help schools. The software will compare each school in the country and show what each failing school needs to do to pull up its grades.
On Nov. 4 and 5, Williamson will teach a success seminar at Honey Lake Plantation west of Greenville. He will share what he has learned in his 40 years of business. To learn more about it, go to www.seminar.williamsongroupusa.com.
Among the principles he will share during the seminar are principles he has learned since becoming a Christian.
Williamson said one thing he had learned from Philippians 4:13 was that it said. “I can do all things through Christ,” not that Christ can do it. He said we have to be willing to do our part.
“If I can do it,” Williamson said, “then I know that anyone can.”
To learn more about Williamson, you can visit his blog at www.wordstoliveby.com or www.miracleonluckiestreet.com. To learn about Honey Lake Plantation, please visit www.honeylake plantation.com.