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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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More than just man’s best friend

Cookie pulls Crystal Crosby.Cookie may not have the horsepower of her equine neighbors, but she can certainly imitate them.

With help from Crystal Crosby, Cookie’s amateur trainer and owner, the Australian Shepherd has learned to pull a buggy-like contraption with two wheels, a seat and reins.

“She’s really an intelligent dog,” said Ms. Crosby, 17, who first met Cookie at 8 weeks old.

Back in 2007, her father, Wayne Crosby, brought the puppy back from an Amish farm in Ohio as a birthday present for his daughter. He was struck by how well the breed followed commands and herded cattle on the farm.

“That’s what sold me on them, really,” said Mr. Crosby, who moved his family here from Jacksonville in 1999.

Even in the nearly 100-degree heat, Cookie had no problem getting strapped into a harness and towing Ms. Crosby up and down their gravel drive known as Penelope Lane south of Macclenny to show-off her skills on July 9.

The buggy and the harness that Cookie uses to pull it weigh about 30 pounds. They’re made by a Perry, GA-based company, Chalo Sulkey. The company’s motto: “Because dogs love to pull.”

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Independence Day Celebration in Macclenny Park

After the annual Independence Day celebration at Northeast Florida State Hospital was canned due to state budget cuts, local officials with the Chamber of Commerce, City of Macclenny and Baker County Commission organized a new festival at the city park on West Boulevard the evening of June 30. The event concluded with fireworks and featured more than 30 food, arts and crafts and entertainment vendors. Pictured are some of the many people and sites from that day. See more photos and order prints here.

Faith (left) and Vanessa Yale sing with their mother Marlayna Yale during karaoke.A blooming onion and many other fried foods were available to attendees.BBQ chef Robert Parker.

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Teen volunteers at nursing home during summer break

The Press will be profiling young volunteers in our community donating their time this summer to benefit others. At the end of the summer, we’ll also select the most dedicated volunteer and award them a prize. The first volunteer in the series is Keltni Davis, 15, of Macclenny. She’s the daughter of Felicia Hodges and Williams Davis.

Keltni Davis gives resident Alvin Melton a manicure.Keltni Davis hopes to study nursing one day, but she’s getting a head start this summer by volunteering at Macclenny Nursing and Rehab.

Her mother works there, so Ms. Davis often tags along to spend time with patients. She reads to them, paints the nails of female residents, tidies up their rooms or serves refreshments and movies for them to keep them entertained.

“I really enjoy listening to their stories. They’re the absolute best story tellers,” said Ms. Davis, a soon-to-be 10th grader at Baker County High school, by e-mail last week.

She began volunteering at the facility at the request of her mother, but was enthusiastic about it nonetheless.

“Most teens wouldn’t want to spend their time volunteering, especially their summer vacation!” Ms. Davis wrote. “However, I enjoy volunteering at Macclenny Nursing and Rehab.”

When she’s not volunteering, the youth enjoys spending time with family and friends and “soaking up the sun’s rays at the beach.”

After high school, Ms. Davis plans to study nursing in college and pursue a career in pediatrics.

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