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Friday, September 17, 2021

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Polar Patrol police ice cream truck starts service Thursday

The Polar Patrol, a new ice cream truck initiative by the Ocala Police Department, will start serving sweet treats around the city later today. Ocala Police Department Chief Mike Balken says he believes officers visiting neighborhoods and handing out free ice cream will enable children and families to talk, listen, and build trust with police.

City of Ocala agrees to pay nearly $400,000 in settlement over public sleeping arrests

The city of Ocala has agreed to pay nearly $400,000 in attorney’s fees and costs for what a judge ruled "cruel and unusual punishment" in arresting homeless individuals sleeping outside without first checking availability at local shelters.

Litter Task Force requesting public feedback through survey

The newly established Marion County Litter Task Force is looking for public feedback about the state of litter in the county.

102,000 pounds of litter collected in Marion County during July

Over 102,000 pounds of litter was collected in Marion County during the month of July. During the month, code enforcement officers investigated nearly 40 cases of littering and illegal dumping throughout the county and issued two civil fines for illegal dumping of waste weighing less than 15 pounds.

Ocala Fire Rescue hiring firefighters, EMTs, paramedics

Ocala Fire Rescue is looking to hire Florida certified firefighter/EMTs and firefighter/paramedics. In addition to job opportunities with Ocala Fire Rescue, the city of Ocala currently has a large collection of positions available across multiple departments including 911 dispatchers, building inspectors, fleet vehicle technicians, planners, and police officers, to name a few.

Marion County hosting weeklong 9/11 Commemoration Event

Marion County will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the events of Sept. 11, 2001 with a series of activities, programs, and presentations honoring first responders and veterans. The event kicks off on Friday with a motorcycle escort of Remembrance Wall from War Horse Harley-Davidson to Veterans' Memorial Park and a wall-raising ceremony. Read the complete list.

State releases new Walt Disney World specialty license plate

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) announced its new Walt Disney World specialty license plate is available at tax collector offices and license plate agencies statewide.

MCSO deputies volunteer to help Louisiana residents devastated by Hurricane Ida

"Keep these deputies, and keep those folks in Louisiana in your thoughts and prayers, as they are going through a tough time right now. Be proud as a Marion County citizen that we do not leave these folks stranded, we are sending help" - Eight deputies from the Marion County Sheriff's Office have volunteered to travel to Louisiana and help residents devastated by Hurricane Ida.

Ocala resident, late husband honored for serving combined 36 years on Ocala Historic Preservation Advisory Board

James and Claudia Tatom, who have a combined 36 years of service on the board, were honored during the board's regular meeting on Thursday, September 2. 

9/11 Commemoration Ceremony at Ocala/Marion County Veterans Memorial Park

The Ocala/Marion County Veterans Memorial Park will host a ceremony to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. 

Volunteer to help clean the Ocala National Forest

The U.S. Forest Service of Florida is encouraging residents to participate in an Ocala National Forest Cleanup event in recognition of National Public Lands Day.

Navy conducting live tests at Ocala National Forest site

The U.S. Navy will conduct live testing at its Pinecastle Range Complex, which is located in the Ocala National Forest, on Wednesday, September 1.

Governor appoints retired business owner Donald Browning to Marion County School Board vacancy

Governor Ron DeSantis has appointed retired business owner Donald Browning to the Marion County School Board seat that was vacated by Beth McCall earlier this year. 

Resident says Dunnellon Middle School gym is in disrepair, needs upgrades

"The middle school [gym] at Dunnellon looks like a ghetto. It has lights that are probably in the 40 to 60% on and working. It needs paint" - local resident Gary White asked the Marion County School Board to look into upgrading the Dunnellon Middle School gym that he says is in disrepair.

Marion County mother cites spike in cases, quarantines in request for stronger COVID-19 mitigation at schools

“I’m just here trying to stand up for all the parents that do want to require all the kids to wear masks, if we can…because last year, I do think it made a big difference. There seemed to be a lot less spreading of the virus" - A Marion County mother, whose daughter was sent home this week after another student in her class tested positive for COVID-19, says the county should keep masks in place until case numbers subside or children of all ages can receive the vaccine.

Marion County Fire Rescue Chief says calls, transports have increased over 20% during ‘all-time high’ number of COVID-19 cases

“The drastic increase over a short period of time can overwhelm any EMS system" - Marion County Fire Rescue Chief James Banta says that transports and call volume have both increased by over 20% and over 50 employees have had to miss time because of positive COVID-19 test results. 

U.S. flag retirement box installed at Ocala Police Department

The Ocala Police Department is now providing a new option for the disposal of worn U.S. flags.

Marion County parents cite individual rights in rebuke of school district’s mask mandate

“Whether you choose to relieve your child from the bondage of a muzzle, or whether you choose to have your child wear one, that is a right as a parent to choose for our child and our child alone" - Justin Godwin and several other parents took to Tuesday night’s Marion County School Board meeting to express their opposition to the recently implemented mask mandate.

Matthew Wardell thanks residents, staff; highlights city accomplishments during final Ocala City Council meeting

“Form-based code downtown, that’s a big deal for the development of downtown. That getting through is really changing the way we redevelop downtown. We’re seeing the fruits of that labor now with all the housing coming in and all the new businesses, and it’s really exciting to see" - Matthew Wardell, whose District 4 seat will be up for grabs along with three others during next month’s election, recognized city staff, residents, and colleagues while highlighting some of the city's accomplishments during his final Ocala City Council meeting last week.

City Council work session to discuss $891 million Ocala budget

The City of Ocala will host a public work session to review a preliminary presentation of the city’s $890 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year, with a general fund at just above $128 million.

Ocala Police Department increases fees for fingerprints, records checks

Ocala Police Department has a new schedule in place for certain fees, including records checks and fingerprints, after Ocala City Council adopted an ordinance to provide "periodic changes" to the fee schedule because of "budget considerations, increased growth, and increased cost of providing certain services."

College of Central Florida faculty donate award funds to mental health organization

Faculty from the College of Central Florida Humanities and Social Sciences Department recently paid forward an award they received to further advance mental health awareness.

Citing recent train derailment, Ocala Downtown Business Alliance asks city to convert rail corridor into pedestrian, bike trail

The Ocala Downtown Business Alliance is asking the city to convert the active downtown rail corridor into a “paved recreational and pedestrian/bicycle trail,” citing a recent train derailment that has allegedly left the track in need of repair.

Silver Springs man says he’s called OPD ’50 times’ this year, asks council to reconsider panhandling repeal

“I must have called Ocala Police 50 times this year. We leave our subdivision, we’ve got panhandlers" - Silver Springs resident Stephen Janoski asked Ocala City Council members to reconsider repealing sections of the city code related to panhandling and begging during Tuesday's meeting.