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Reflections on 96 years in Baker County

Mertie Mae Loadholtz celebrated her 96th birthday on August 6.

Mertie Mae LoadholtzI visited with her a few days later and she told me she had recently seen someone she had not seen for a very long time.

“You know what they told me?” she asked. “They said I hadn’t changed in 40 years!”

She got a kick out of that.

Her birthday party was a small family gathering, unlike the fancy affair that marked her 90th birthday for which she wore an elegant pink gown with embroidered flowers and dragonflies.

She urged me to have some of her birthday cake which still displayed two candles, one shaped like the number nine, the other, the number six.

“My son made me a deal,” she said. “He told me if I make it to 97 then he’s throwing a really big party for me.”

She’s lived in the same house since 1955. It was built in Olustee out of lumber salvaged from a Methodist Church and moved to Glen St. Mary by Gilbert’s House Moving Service.

It’s a sweet house, filled with photos of her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren.

“There are so many now I’ve lost count,” she said looking at the photos.

Mertie Mae was born in Baker County in the early part of the Twentieth Century. She remembers walking to the school located beside the fire observation tower out in Taylor.

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Wildcat band ranks ballooning

Band director Mike Warren during a recent practice at BCHS.Commitment to community is a fundamental part of what drives Mike Warren, the bank director at Baker County High School.

In the year since the young teacher took over the position, the number of participants in the school’s marching band has increased from 20 to the current 50 members.

Even record breaking heat didn’t stop the dedicated group of music students, along with majorette and color guard auxiliary units, from giving it everything they had during the recent week-long band camp August 1-5.

The group is gearing up for a colorful half-time show inspired by the musical Grease.

During camp, as students worked on one of the show’s compositions, Mr. Warren talked about his experience in Baker County so far and what the future holds.

“Segments of the Grease-inspired show will start appearing at football games as soon as the 2011-12 school year begins. The show, in its entirety, should be perfected by October,” he said.

It’s all part of a bigger plan to dazzle the judges in the up-coming Florida Bandmasters Association competition.

“The football games will be our dress rehearsals,” he said.

The turn-around in the marching band program is certainly worthy of note. After all, Mr. Warren is only 24 and Baker County is his first teaching position.

 

So what exactly has he been doing to increase interest and cement that kind of commitment from students?

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Summer’s Way Too Short Story Contest

The Baker County Press is inviting young writers to submit entries for its first “Summer’s Way Too Short Story Contest.”

One winning short story will be selected by the newspaper’s staff from each school level — elementary, middle and high school — for publication in The Press. The author of the best overall story will also win a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble.

Short stories may be fiction or nonfiction, but no more than 500 words, and writers must be students residing in Baker County, regardless of whether they attend home school, public or private school. The stories will be judged based on common story-telling pillars like plot, characters, setting and flow, but also grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Entries can be hand delivered to The Press office, 104 S. 5th St. in Macclenny, mailed to P.O. Box 598, Macclenny, FL 32063 or e-mailed to reporter@bakercountypress.com.

Leon Clardy, 61, was a machinist

Leon Joseph Clardy, 61, of Taylor died May 7, 2011 at his residence with family by his side. He was born in Lake City, FL on November 24, 1949 to Forrest Leon Clardy and Lovey Crawford Clardy, and was a resident of Baker County for 23 years after moving from Jacksonville.

Mr. Clardy was an industrial machinist for many years at Millwright Union Local # 2411 in Jacksonville. Leon had a wonderful sense of humor, and enjoyed socializing, telling stories, and visiting family and friends. He also enjoyed tinkering with old cars, bartering, trading and fishing.

He was preceded in death by father Forrest Leon Clardy; son Sean Joseph Clardy.

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