• Way back in the dark ages, when I was a little kid, I lived in northern New Jersey. Nearby, at the Cresskill-Dumont border, there was a tall Washington Monument-like obelisk called the Camp Merritt Monument.

    It was centered in a large (at least to a little kid it seemed large) traffic circle where two low-speed roads, Madison Avenue and Knickerbocker Road, intersected.

    As I got older and got a driver’s license, I learned to hate that circle.

  • 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.

  • The gathering of the Florida Department of Transportation recently at the Ocala Hilton was a case of a nice dog-and-pony show (pardon the cliché) but completely lacked substance.

    In case you missed it, DOT is going to add two left turn lanes to the intersection of Interstate 75 and State Road 200 with some other lanes to help with right turns.

    If you think this is going to help, come on over to our office and we’ll sell you the Brooklyn Bridge (we used to say we’d sell you swampland in Florida, but that swamp is now worth millions).

  • 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

  • We all have types of TV shows that we like, whether we’re willing to admit it is a different story.
    For me, I like stories about time travel.
    I’ve often fantasized what it would be like to go back in time. Could I change the world? Save JFK? Stop 9-11?
    That’s why I’ve practically got the “Back to the Future” trilogy memorized.

  • 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.

  • After suffering through another “debate” Sunday night, I’ve come to the conclusion that nothing I say or do is going to make a darn bit of difference in this political race.
    However, I do feel that a lot of people locally are ignoring the important races, the ones that can affect us every day.
    On the ballot in Marion County we have one County Commission race, various state legislative races and the sheriff’s race.
    There are also Congressional races and a U.S. Senate race.

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

  • Mother’s Day always brings back memories, some good, some sad, of my mother, who died in 1997. I still think of her a lot, especially on the anniversary of something involving her.
    This Sunday, May 8, is Mother’s Day.
    One of my earliest memories of celebrating this day was going to church and wearing a carnation. I was raised in northern New Jersey, and almost everyone going to Sunday Mass wore a flower.

  • Back when I was in a college prep high school, my classes were pretty well set. The few choices I had involved which language to take (I took Spanish), or whether I would take Latin 3 or chemistry (either way, I was in trouble).
    Don’t get me wrong. I had to take two years of Latin, and I think everyone should take at least one year. It is the language upon which much of our vocabulary is built, and people need to understand the background of words to become a more effective speaker of English.

  • Accountability. It’s a word we’ve heard a lot this campaign season and, although it’s a bit late, it’s starting to creep in to the discussion about the local option sales tax.
    Next Tuesday, March 15, the presidential primary will take place in Florida. Here in Marion County, there’s an additional item on the ballot – an initiative to raise the amount of the local sales tax one percent.

  • It may be a promise that’s hard to keep, but I’m going to do my darndest never to complain again about traffic in Ocala and Marion County, particularly on State Road 200.
    You see, I just spent a weekend in Lakeland.
    I moved out of Lakeland just under 35 years ago. I was the news editor of The Ledger and was named editor at another paper in the same group in Palatka.

  • After staggering through the many debates on both the Republican and Democratic side, I think I’ve got it analyzed pretty well.
    The candidates are giving us name calling, finger pointing, constant insults, making disparaging remarks, etc. Each time the audience likes what the candidate says, they cheer wildly. If they disagree, you hear a lot of hissing and booing.
    These reactions bog down the debates, causing candidates and moderators alike to pause until they can be heard.

  • This may come as a political shock to those of you who have lived in Florida all your life, but the method of governing public schools isn’t the same throughout the country. In fact, in many places, it’s the opposite of what it is in Florida.
    Here in the Sunshine State, according to the Florida Constitution, there are 67 counties in the state, and there are 67 school boards in the state. Each county has its own board.

  • There’s a move afoot to help rectify significant traffic issues on Interstate 75.
    A group dubbed the I-75 Relief Task Force recently formed for the purpose of helping the state in addressing transportation needs.
    One of the considerations involves a road that many in Marion County don’t even know exists. It’s called the Suncoast Parkway, and connects the highway maze in Tampa to U.S. 98 in Hernando County.

  • Years ago, the federal and state governments established what is commonly called “Do Not Call” lists. You can add your phone number to a list, and telemarketers, etc., are not supposed to call you.
    Like so many other government programs, these are a complete joke.
    I get so many calls on both my home phone and our office newsroom phone, both of which have been on the list for quite some time.

  • Do you remember where you were 52 years ago this past Sunday? I’ll bet when I remind you of the date, you will recall everything.
    Sunday was Nov. 22, the 52nd anniversary of the shooting death of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas.