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Performers take stage as forbears

From left: Denny Wells, Mallory Chauncey, (front) Harper Archambault and Julia Archambault, and Shelly Neri.“I was about to step on stage in my seersucker suit and I had to stop for a second. I thought, ‘I’m about to play my grandfather.’”

Denny Wells, who plays City Manager Frank Wells in the Baker County High drama and Baker County Community Theatre production of Baker County, Fla.: 1861-1961, was one of several performers with personal connections to the people in the play.

When he was asked to portray his grandfather, who had a big hand in helping stop moonshining in Baker County, he paused for a moment before saying, “You can’t imagine what an honor this is.” He then went out and bought a seersucker suit, which was his grandfather’s signature apparel.

For Mr. Wells, playing the role has been like channeling his grandfather. The two were extremely close and he remembers seeing his grandfather in the self-same suit. Others also remember it fondly.

Wells was leaning against the front of the stage after the sold out performance January 13 and a passing audience member commented, “I saw your grandfather dressed like that many a day.”

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MES marks Florida Arbor Day with tree planting

County Forester Andy Lamborn plants a river birch tree at Macclenny Elmentary.Florida Arbor Day arrived at Macclenny Elementary the afternoon of January 19 when students lent many a helping hand to plant four river birch trees in the school’s backyard while learning about them from county forester Andy Lamborn of the Florida Forest Service.

Two hundred and sixty nine students in all were briefed about the history of Arbor Day and trees themselves — how they clean the air, soak up water and nutrients from the soil and contribute to many, many things we use everyday, including toothbrushes and paper products.

Groups of four classes at a time gathered outside their classrooms around a pre-dug hole and potted river birch tree, which Mr. Lamborn said was chosen over other varieties because of its heartiness.

“It can handle just about anything,” he said.

The soil at Macclenny Elementary is rich with clay, likely used as fill material during the school’s construction, but the river birch can still thrive there. It’s also cold tolerant.

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Raysor sinks buzzer beater

The Lady Wildcats basketball team got a last second basket from Tianna Raysor to snatch a 54-52 victory on the road at Yulee on January 23.

The win helped ease the pain of losses to West Nassau and Bishop Kenny earlier in the month.

Raysor hit a jump shot with 1.5 seconds left on the clock to give BCHS a 53-52 lead and added to it by sinking a free throw attempt to end the game.

The Wildcats got a big offensive effort from Chelsey Ruise, who had 28 points that night. Defensively, Niesha Givens was all over the court, blocking shots and making steals that set up baskets on the offensive end.

Yulee jumped out to an early lead with 8 points from center Jalisa Thompson. But Ruise answered with 10 points of her own in the first period. The Cats erased an early deficit to lead 25-23 at the half.

They kept the lead through the third period but Yulee stormed back near the end of the game and led by a point with seconds remaining. Raysor got free for a shot and was fouled in the attempt giving the Wildcats the 2-point win.

Ruise led all scorers with 28 and Givens had 6 points.

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‘Sense of the board’ needed on cuts in next year’s budget

There’s a time-honored practice used by Congress that conveys the sentiment of a majority of members. It’s not legislation and it’s not binding, merely an expression of the will of members. It puts the House and Senate on record.

It’s call a Sense of Congress resolution.

Now that the new year is underway, it’d be a good time for the Baker County Commission to consider what we’ll call a Sense of the Commission resolution.

The board should go on the record soon, a full half-year before 2012-13 budget deliberations begin, on what it expects from its department chiefs and from the county’s five constitutional officers.

How about this? A ten percent reduction from the 2011-12 budget approved last fall — across the board, every department.

The goal is to avoid a debate again this fall over whether — and how much — the county can dip into a reserve fund that has shrunk from $12 million three years ago to about half that.

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