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Preview: Lady Cats volleyball begins August 28

Even before the start of school you can hear the squeak of sneakers on the gym floor as the BCHS Lady Wildcat volleyball team gets ready for the start of its season on Aug. 28 versus Oakleaf.

The Lady Cats are digging, spiking and setting and getting used to working together as a team after the roster was picked by Coach Heather Sulkowski earlier this month. Sulkowski is encouraged by what she has seen so far.

“We have a very well-rounded team this season and our hitters are doing very well so we should have more fire power,” said Sulkowski.

One of the areas where they have needed improvement over last year is serving and they have been trying to rectify that.

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BCHS alum performs at Olympics with Gator band

Taylor Hartley at Victoria Park performing before the opening ceremonies.Baker High alum and member of the Florida Gators marching band Taylor Hartley returned from London on July 31 after performing in the Olympics and squeezing in some sightseeing during a very busy week-long trip.

The Press caught up with the 19-year-old Glen St. Mary native now attending the University of Florida and studying tourism and hospitality upon her return for an interview via e-mail.

She is a 2011 graduated of the high school and the daughter of Rhonda and Mark Hartley, also of Glen.

Press: Had you ever been abroad before?

Hartley: I actually have never been abroad before. This made the trip even more exciting. I had flown before, but not more than about 2 hours, so a 6-hour flight seemed crazy. I really enjoyed the trip. My favorite part of the flight was having access to movies and games. A few of the band members and I played trivia on the flight there. I was really nervous about flying over the water, but I just said a little prayer to myself right before take off and that helped calm my nerves.

Press: When and how did you find out the Gator band would be going to the Olympics?

Hartley: We were told about the trip at band practice during the fall. At first, we were just in awe, then there were a few screams and jumping up and down. It was one of the most exciting days. However, we were still not sure it was actually going to happen. Therefore, we tried to stay as calm as possible until we knew for sure. They announced our news to the entire Gator Nation at one of the home games during halftime.

Press: What is your role in the band? And what was the band’s role in the Olympics?

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Voters elect Croft, Weeks and Dwight Crews, again

Candidates' supporters line N. 6th St. last weekend during early voting.The primary election Tuesday ended with two siting school board members retaining their seats and James Croft, a former county commissioner in the 1980s, defeating incumbent commissioner Michael R. Crews to return to the board in November.

“I appreciate Commissioner Michael Crews and his service to the county,” said Mr. Croft just before the final results came in at the elections office. “It began long before he was a county commissioner as a county deputy, wounded in action. He deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done for the county …”

HEAR CANDIDATES’ REACTIONS IN FULL HERE.

The Olustee evangelist lost his two previous bids for a county commission seat in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but won this week’s open primary 53.3 percent to 46.7 percent, which he considers miraculous.

“I give the Lord total credit,” said Mr. Croft, 53. “We were outspent and outmanned with volunteers. This is a God thing. God worked a miracle. This is kind of like David and Goliath … This is major stuff and God gets the credit for it.”

Despite spirited campaigns to unseat long-time school board members Dwight Crews and Patricia Weeks, political newcomers Andy Johnston and Clayton Griffis lost their races by 17.8  and  12.7 percentage points, respectively.

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Sand mining reviews far from finished

With a week to go before the Baker County Commission considers approval of two sand mining proposals, ongoing reviews of the mining plans by regulators and a consultant commissioned by the county and paid for by the mining companies both appear far from finished.

The commission delayed voting on the mining projects last June and some board members have said they want to gather as much information as possible before making a final decision.

Nonetheless, commissioners remain set to consider on August 20 two zoning exceptions sought by the mining companies, County Manager C.J. Thompson confirmed early this week.

If approved, the zoning exceptions would allow mining to occur on property zoned agriculture, which generally prohibits the activity.

The county’s land development regulations require that the mining companies — Old Castle Southern Group of Tampa and E.R. Jahna, Inc. of Lake Wales, FL — also obtain permits from regulatory agencies before beginning operations.

Old Castle Southern was the first to apply for a 20-year Consumptive Use Permit from the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) to withdraw about 2 million gallons per day from the lower Floridan Aquifer during the first five years of mining and about 100,000 gallons per day for the next 15 years.

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