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County launches search for fire chief’s successor

Chief DolanAbout seven years after Richard Dolan became Baker County’s first full time fire chief in charge of an all-volunteer firefighting force, the county is now searching for his successor. Mr. Dolan plans to retire at the end of this month, ending a career that began in 1979 as a volunteer firefighter in Jacksonville.

After 34 years in the stressful, physically demanding job putting out fires at all hours of the day and night, plus responding to countless car crashes and other accidents, Mr. Dolan said he wants to retire while he is still relatively healthy.

“I had six bypasses (heart surgery) three years ago,” the 60-year-old chief said last week after discussing the matter with county commissioners during a workshop session on April 2.

During a regular board meeting immediately following the workshop, the board voted 4-1 to seek a full-time replacement for Mr. Dolan, whose annual salary is $43,000, after rejecting a proposal offered by Commissioner James Croft to hire someone part time to do the job for $12,000.

During the workshop County Manager C.J. Thompson said the actual work performed by Mr. Dolan and the time he invests in the job clearly demonstrate that it is a full time role.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen him respond (to an emergency) in the middle of the night after working all day. It’s a 24/7 job,” Mr. Thompson said.

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15 lifters qualify for state

Blayne MerchantThe BCHS Wildcat weight lifting team hosted the final sectional meet for the FHSAA State Qualifying series on Saturday, April 6 and continued their dominance of the section, qualifying all 15 lifters allowed by the state for this meet.

In sectional competition the first place finisher gets the automatic bid to the state meet. The second, third and fourth place finishers’ totals get put in a pool for the 9 at-large bids left for the state competition. Read More »

Change your life; quit today

I’m a man of many vices — bad sci-fi and horror movies, pizza, beer, shoes, the list goes on. But one vice I kicked to the curb some five years ago was smoking.

I was never a heavy smoker. Even after 10 years I couldn’t puff away a whole pack in 24 hours without some help. I was nearing 30 years old and needed to get healthier, lest I end up six feet under before my time. That and the love of a good woman was enough motivation for me.

I’m not going to get all preachy on you about the dangers of smoking and other tobacco use. Suffice it say, tobacco use will shorten your lifespan. It’s a scientific certainty.

It’s also a certainty that while smoking rates in Baker County have fallen in the last decade or so, many folks still smoke. According to 2010 survey data, about 20 percent of adults, or one in five, reported smoking.

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Funeral Wednesday for Danny Willis

John Daniel “Danny” Willis Sr., 62, of Starke died on April 6, 2013 at his residence. He was born in Jacksonville on December 25, 1950 to the late Daniel “Willie” Willis and Delores Crews Willis. He was a resident of Starke for the past three years after moving from Macclenny where he resided since 1972. Danny served his country proudly in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and he retired from Haskell Steel Company as a foreman after 25 years. He loved spending time with his family and also enjoyed fishing, golfing and vacationing in the mountains.

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