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‘Writing lesson’ on Declaration of Independence

Westside Elementary 2nd grader Malorie Pippins transcribes an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence.This week students at Westside Elementary School are learning about the leaders, documents and origins of the United States of America as the nation marks 225 years since the Constitution was signed.

Like many of her colleagues, second grade teacher Heather Jacobs orchestrated hands-on lessons to demonstrate the challenges the Founding Fathers faced, including writing documents like the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence with quill and ink.

After lunch on September 18, Mrs. Jacobs’ students used brightly colored feathers and small cups of black paint to replicate the endeavor.

“Aren’t you glad we don’t have to do all our work like this,” she told the group of about 20 pupils struggling to write the second paragraph of the Declaration: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all me are created equal …”

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16 months for violating probation

PritchettA circuit judge sent a Bryceville woman to prison for 16 months after she pleaded no contest on September 12 to violating probation stemming from drug possession and sale cases dating back to 2009.

Melissa Pritchett, 41, gets credit for 149 days she has been in county jail since violating terms of a two-year probation by being arrested for drunk driving and failure to pay restitution.

Court records show that Ms. Pritchett sold methadone in the parking lot of Walmart to a buyer working for the sheriff’s department in March, 2009, and earlier that month sold methadone and other controlled drugs in a pre-arranged meeting in the parking lot of Ace Hardware in east Glen St. Mary.

She was arrested a third time in November, 2010 for possession of drugs after her vehicle was stopped for erratic driving on US 90 in downtown Macclenny. She was taking her children to school at the time.

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Retailers say Tractor Supply will hurt them

Competition in the business world is generally regarded as a good thing, at least from the consumer point of view. But it can be hard on locally owned businesses in small towns that have to go head-to-head against national retailers — especially in today’s tough economy.

That was the message some local business owners gave to the Macclenny City Commission last week as the five-member board discussed a proposed rezoning to pave the way for a new Tractor Supply Co. store in space formerly occupied by Food Lion in the Cornerstone Shopping Center on South 6th Street.

Local merchants said they ordinarily support free enterprise and competition but were concerned, nonetheless, about the potential impact a Tractor Supply outlet would have on their businesses.

“It’s going to greatly, greatly affect the little Mom & Pop stores out here,” Steve Williams, owner of Cycle & Marine Inc. on South Lowder Street, told commissioners at a board meeting on the evening of September 11. “We’re already struggling.”

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County to pay up front for inmate housing, saving $120,000

Baker County commissioners are one step away from adopting a $28.2 million budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year, including a new method of paying for county jail inmate care that officials say will save taxpayers up to $200,000 a year.

The proposed budget was unanimously endorsed during a meeting on the afternoon of September 17, following a workshop to discuss a plan with the City of Macclenny to pave Buck Starling Road adjacent to the 10-acre site of a future public transportation center operated by the Council on Aging.

A final public hearing and adoption of the new spending plan, which holds the line on taxes and fees and was balanced by a roughly $1.5 million transfer from the county’s dwindling reserve fund, is scheduled for 6 pm on October 2 — one day after the new fiscal year begins.

Included in the $28,213,239 budget is $3,782,945 for county jail inmate care, which the commission in the past has paid in advance quarterly payments in exchange for a discount of about $80,000 a year. By paying the entire amount up front, as Sheriff Joey Dobson proposed two weeks ago, officials said the county could save up to an additional $120,000 a year.

After the sheriff pitched his idea to the board on September 4, Commission Chairman Gordon Crews noted that the plan enables the county to balance the budget without having to take quite as much out of reserves to fix a projected $1.6 million deficit.

The additional $120,000 in savings, Mr. Crews said, would require a transfer of only $1.48 million from reserves to balance the budget instead of $1.6 million. As of August 27, the reserve fund held about $7.8 million.

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