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Ocala's Rapid Report

Apr 15, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

Tax Day Is Today!

 

Tax Day is the day on which individual income tax returns are due to be submitted to the federal government. Since 1955, Tax Day has typically fallen on or just after April 15. What happens if you file taxes after April 15?

For every month that you file late, you'll have to pay an additional 5 percent “failure to file” penalty on the total amount you owe. It's also important to note that a month doesn't mean 30 days to the IRS. Nope, filing your return even one day late means you'll still be hit with the full 5 percent penalty.

So join the long lines at the post office tonight or submit your taxes online. Either way, you’ve got to get it done by today or pay!

 

 

“Painted Ocala” Now At The Bryant House

 

"Painted Ocala" is an exhibition of oil paintings and watercolors of the homes and houses, gardens and interiors of the charming Ocala Historic Districts by Milly Sheffer and Dana Fox Jenkins. Paintings that capture the charm, the light and colors of Ocala. The paintings are exhibited in the historic Bryant House located at:  712 E. Fort King St.

 

The paintings are on display for the public to see as well as to purchase. For more information call:

(352) 484-0502 #BryantHouse #HOPS

 

 

Exceptional Mornings In Ocala

 

Join the Ocala CEP for their exCEPtional Mornings Breakfast at the Reilly Arts Center on Wednesday, April 17th at 7:30 AM -9:00 AM!

 

Each month local business leaders and speakers from Ocala and throughout Florida will discuss upcoming changes to the area and what is going on right now at a local and State level.

 

The 2024 series sponsor for exCEPtional Mornings breakfast is presented by HCA Florida Ocala Hospital. RSVP today to or www.OcalaCEP.com/events

Apr 12, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

Dunnellon BoomTown Days Is Tomorrow

 

Please join us for the 2024 Boom Town Days and Art Show brought to you by the Dunnellon Chamber & Business Association and The Rainbow Springs Art Co-op is tomorrow Saturday April 13, 2024, from 9-5.

 

Archaeology Day At The Fort Tomorrow!

 

Join Gulf Archaeology Institute archaeologists as they excavate Fort King looking for artifacts. You’ll be able to see how excavations are done, data is recorded and how the information is used to learn about the past. This event is free and open to all ages.

This is at Fort King National Historic Landmark tomorrow, Saturday April 13th from 9am to 3pm. #FortKing #Ocala

 

 

The 2024 Levitt AMP Ocala Music Series

 

Presents Clover’s Revenge with opening by Gainesville Dance Academy on Friday, April 12 from 7 – 9 p.m. outside at Webb Field at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Complex.

The performance is FREE. Please bring your chairs and blankets. Food is available from local food trucks and dessert brought to you by our sponsor Kona Ice Ocala. Fun field games and activities with the Ocala Recreation and Parks Department along with local non-profit organizations will be present.

Each concert in the series also features live painting by local visual artists and a local non-profit organization intermission. This week’s featured non-profit is Ocali Storytellers of Marion County Public Library.

More information is available at www.ocalafl.gov/levittamp or contact Ocala Cultural Arts at 352-629-8379 or artinfo@ocalafl.gov.

 

Apr 11, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

Date Night At The Discovery Center Friday Night

 

This interactive date night experience can only be described as: “Hands on!” Enjoy light refreshments as you take part in hands-on science activities, games and explore their exhibit. End the night under the stars of the StarLab planetarium show!

I have to tell you that my husband and I spent our Friday date night at the Discovery Center before and it was absolutely unforgettable. Sign up to get registered for a fun and different way to spend date night tomorrow night! The event goes from 6pm-8:30pm, and I would suggest dressing comfortably. Doors open at 6:00pm, and the event begins promptly at 6:30pm. Must be 18 years or older to attend. $30/per couple(two tickets). For any questions call the Discovery Center at 352-401-3900.

 

Ocala Geek Fest At Ocala Downtown Market

 

Come out to the Ocala Downtown Market for the Ocala Geek Fest!! Sunday, April 14th from 12pm-4pm! Comics, cards, vintage toys, anime, tabletop gaming, collectibles, DND, DC, Sci-Fi, Disney and more! Come out and shop local!! This is going to be a great time with special guests and so many fun things to do!

Over 50+ carefully selected vendors, Food trucks, Deadpool car and character, Cosplay contests, A Real life Pikachu, a DJ, Larping in the grass, Special guests

Entertainment and much more! Admission is free! Parking is free! 

Apr 10, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

Blueberry Season In Central Florida!

 

It’s about the sweetest time of year here in Ocala! The blueberries are ripening up and you can easily find u-pick blueberry farms throughout Central Florida.

My family and I have always enjoyed the beauty and serenity to be found over at the Abshier Family Farms blueberry picking, but you can find your favorite blueberry farm for your family all over the Central Florida area.

 

 

Live on the Square: Stephen Perry & Nate Mercado
 

Come to the Downtown Square for Ocala Recreation and Parks presentation of live music from Stephen Perry Friday and Nate Mercado Saturday while you shop, dine, & unwind! This event is free and open to the public. Every Friday and Saturday night from 6pm to 8pm!

Don’t forget to get a ride from the parking garage on one of the complimentary golf carts driven by local volunteers! Courtesy of Ocala Main Street.

 

Horsin' Around Exhibit Opens at Discovery Center

 

The Discovery Center's "Horsin’ Around" exhibit opened to the public on April 9 and will run until June 16. The exhibit is open from Tuesday to Saturday, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This hands-on exhibit provides an immersive experience into the horse industry and equine care, featuring activities such as plushie pony rides, a chance to play equine vet, and designing jockey silks. Visitors can also view historic horse race footage and try a hobby horse dressage and jump course. General admission is priced at $8 per person or $28 for a family of four, with annual memberships available for both individuals and families. For more details, you can contact the Discovery Center directly at 352-401-3900

Apr 9, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

Mayor To Host Public Meeting Wednesday Night

 

If you are concerned about traffic, especially downtown near SE Watula Ave and SE 22nd Ave. The City of Ocala’s mayor is holding a public meeting that will cover the existing issues including crash history, speed data, potential traffic measures, and pedestrian and bicycle improvements.

There was a recent traffic study performed in the area and the findings will all be presented and discussed. This meeting is free and open to the public. The meeting will be tomorrow Wednesday, April 10th at 5:30 pm and located at IHMC 15 SE Osceola Ave.

Experience India at Brick City Center for the Arts



Experience India: Artist Talk

Tomorrow Wednesday, April 10th from 4-6 pm at 23 SW Broadway Street at Brick City Center for the Arts

Meet Ms. Binal Wala, an accomplished dancer and choreographer from India who will introduce the audience to the history and evolution of the Indian classical dance form of Bharatnatyam. Through the artist’s journey of learning, practicing, mastering, and teaching this ancient art form for the past three decades, the audience will appreciate Bharatnatyam’s grace, elegance, and ability to express ideas and stories.
The artist will describe how she creates stories through the myriad patterns of this visually aesthetic dance using its core components – “Bhava” (expression), “Ragam” (melody), “Talam” (rhythm), and “Natyam” (drama). This is a rare and unique opportunity for the residents of Ocala and surrounding communities to learn about the authentic Indian classical art form from one the top artists of Bharatnatyam Indian classical dance. This event is FREE but you will need to RSVP to reserve a spot.

Apr 8, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

Matthew Wayne Keel Is Wanted By MCSO!

 

Do you know where Matthew Wayne Keel is? If so, it's time to speak up and turn him in!

If you remember the disturbing scene that was uncovered at the home on NW 6th St with dogs living in deplorable conditions, this is the person responsible and he has run away instead of facing up to his crimes.

Matthew is wanted on a felony warrant for 23 counts of Aggravated Animal Cruelty and 19 counts of Animal Cruelty.

On Feb. 1, 2024, Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) and Marion County Animal Services found 53 dogs living in deplorable conditions, with one dog found deceased and others in dire need of medical attention. Deceased dogs were even discovered in the freezer.  MCSO Agricultural Detective Burgess was able to obtain a warrant for Keel’s arrest, but they have been unable to locate him and he may have left the state.

 

These innocent animals deserve justice, and Keel needs to be held accountable for his actions. If you have any information on his whereabouts, please call MCSO at 352-732-9111. You can also provide anonymous tips to Crime Stoppers of Marion County at 352-368-STOP, referencing 24-12 in your tip.

 

Squatting Scam Now Criminal in Florida

 

Are you going on vacation? Maybe taking a week or two to visit family out of state. Awesome! Sounds like fun! But what happens when you get back to your home, you are tired from traveling and thinking about the stuff you need to do tomorrow. When you pull up to your home, you notice there are different lights on, some of the windows are open and you get scared!

Someone has broken into your home! You immediately call the police! The police show up, and there are people actually living in your home! You have never seen them before in your life! They are not only going through your belongings and using them, but as you peek into the house since they won’t let you or the police in, you see that they are trashing your house! There’s food and dogs and cats everywhere!

Then the people show a signed lease to the sheriff with your name on it as a landlord. It’s not your signature, and supposedly you signed it while you were across the country! The sheriff tells you there is nothing they can do, you have to file an eviction! The squatter gets to stay there for free, trashing your home daily as you wait for the court process. Come to find out, they are pros at this scam and already have a dozen evictions! They delay the inevitable eviction for months through the systematic manipulation of the court system so that they can continue to live on your dime while also selling your possessions and appliances on websites like Facebook marketplace and Ebay.

When you eventually get the eviction after thousands of dollars in court costs and attorney fees, there is tens of thousands of dollars in damages to your home. The squatter is long gone and even though you have a judgment against them, they don’t have a job or wages to garnish.

 

This would never happen right? It can’t happen, that’s not fair or right.

It happens all the time. I have personally seen this happen right here in Ocala, especially on vacant homes for sale. In some States, it is incredibly easy to do and can take up to a year to get through the eviction process as there are laws protecting ‘Squatters Rights’ which supersede the rights of the homeowner.

 

 On March 27th, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the "Property Rights" bill (HB 621), which seeks to provide homeowners remedies against squatting and increases penalties on squatters.

 

“We are putting an end to the squatters scam in Florida,” DeSantis said in an announcement.

 

"You are not going to be able to commandeer somebody's private property and expect to get away with it. In the state of Florida, we are ending the squatter scam once and for all."

 

House Bill 621 authorizes property owners to request action by the sheriff's office to immediately remove unauthorized persons from your home, according to the bill analysis.

 

With a simple form, the sheriff's offices can assist to keep the peace while the property owner or agent of the owner changes the locks and removes the personal property of the unlawful occupants from the premises out to the curb.

 

According the bill, it will create severe criminal penalties for violators, including:

 

A first-degree misdemeanor for making a fraudulent lease.

 

A second-degree felony for unlawfully occupying or trespassing in a residential dwelling and intentionally causes $1,000 or more in damages.

 

And a first-degree felony for advertising the sale or rent of a residential property without legal authority or ownership. To clarify, an example of a first degree felony is battery on a law enforcement officer. So in Florida, as of March 27th, running a rental scam on Facebook Marketplace could get you up to 30 years in prison. For the many families that have had their identities stolen by fake applications and thousands of dollars taken from this type of fraud…I don’t think they will lose any sleep over this severe penalty.

 

These criminal charges will potentially end the squatter/scammer cycle if the sheriff is able to see the prior criminal charges for past squatter offenses.

 

What are your thoughts? Share them on the Classic Hits Ocala Facebook page!

 

Apr 5, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

Baskerville is now playing LIVE at the Ocala Civic Theatre
 

One review on the OCT Facebook page gave great advice about the show: “DO NOT MISS BASKERVILLE. One of the funniest shows..5 actors did it all…acted, moved furniture around, played great comedians, each one changed costumes several times, and each one had at least 3 or more parts…You will laugh through the whole show…don’t miss it!!! You will be sorry if you do”

Ken Ludwig’s BASKERVILLE is live on stage from March 21 – April 7 at Ocala Civic Theatre.

TICKETS: (352) 236-2274 / ocalacivictheatre.com #OcalaCivicTheatre #OCT

 

 

Letters From The Frontlines Event At Tuscawilla Park

 

Remember loved ones and those abroad by listening to readings of the letters collected through the years. Volunteers from the Marion County Veteran's Exhibit and Education Center will host a morning with memorabilia and memories. Participants will be encouraged to write a letter to their sweetheart, grandparent, or friends.

This event is free and will be tomorrow Saturday, April 6th from 10 am to 12 pm at Tuscawilla Park. For more information, visit OcalaFL.Gov

 

Levitt AMP Ocala Music Series

 

Jumpstart your weekends from March 15 to May 17, 2024, with the Levitt AMP Ocala Music Series, every Friday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Webb Field. This 10-week, free, family-friendly event on the lawn at 1501 W Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala, FL, showcases diverse music and cultural programming. Enhance your experience with food trucks and vendor booths. The 2024 Levitt AMP Ocala Music Series tonight presents Metalachi with opening artist El Trio Rosal on Friday, April 5 from 7 – 9 p.m. outside at Webb Field at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Complex.

The performance is FREE. Please bring your chairs and blankets. Food is available from local food trucks and dessert brought to you by our sponsor Kona Ice Ocala. Fun field games and activities with the Ocala Recreation and Parks Department along with local non-profit organizations will be present.

Each concert in the series also features live painting by local visual artists and a local non-profit organization intermission. This week’s featured non-profit is Strategic Community Alliance, Inc.

More information is available at www.ocalafl.gov/levittamp or contact Ocala Cultural Arts at 352-629-8379 or artinfo@ocalafl.gov.

Apr 4, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

Rotary MultiClub Social Tonight!

 

The much-anticipated Rotary MultiClub Social is happening tonight April 4th! The festivities kick off at 5:00 PM at Brick City Center for the Arts. Rotarians and prospects, be ready for an unforgettable evening of fun, connection, and the authentic spirit of Rotary. Create lasting memories and be part of something special! #Ocala #ServiceAboveSelf #RotaryFunNight

 

 

Baskerville is now playing LIVE at the Ocala Civic Theatre

 

It’s the last chance to see Baskerville! One review on the OCT Facebook page gave great advice about the show: “DO NOT MISS BASKERVILLE. One of the funniest shows..5 actors did it all…acted, moved furniture around, played great comedians, each one changed costumes several times, and each one had at least 3 or more parts…You will laugh through the whole show…don’t miss it!!! You will be sorry if you do”

Ken Ludwig’s BASKERVILLE is live on stage until April 7 at Ocala Civic Theatre.

TICKETS: (352) 236-2274 / ocalacivictheatre.com

Apr 3, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

CF Presents: “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”

 

CF's spring musical production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame will be performing tomorrow night at 7:30 pm. Repeat performances will be on Friday and Saturday nights also at 7:30pm with a final matinee performance on Sunday April 7th at 3pm.

You won’t want to miss the spectacular play based on the classic book by Victor Hugo with music from the Disney film.

                                             

K9 Rex Is A Contender!

 

Rex, a K-9 officer from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, has successfully advanced to the next round of the Florida Sheriffs Association's K-9 March Madness competition, aiming for the "Top Dog" title among Florida's sheriff's offices. Winning his first-round match on Sunday, Rex outperformed Highway from the Holmes County Sheriff's Office. Then, in a thrilling face-off, Rex competed against Miami-Dade Police Department's K-9 officer Dottie. Currently, Rex has moved on to the next round against K9 Tank of Nassau County and is a contender for “Top Dog.” Fans and supporters can cast their votes for their preferred K-9 on the K-9 March Madness webpage as the contest continues to highlight the skills and dedication of these law enforcement canines. Visit the Classic Hits Ocala Facebook page to cast your vote today! We have to prove Rex is no one's underdog!

#MCSO #FloridaSheriffsAssociation @MCSO

Voting link: https://bit.ly/3vpd7Ug

Apr 1, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

CITY SPLASH PADS ARE OFFICIALLY OPEN!

 

The City of Ocala splash pads are located at Citizens’ Circle, 151 SE Osceola Ave., and Lily’s Pad, 2200 NW 17th. They are officially open. If you haven’t taken your kids to one of these splash pads before, you are missing out! Splash pads are free to the public.

Open daily from sunrise to sunset. Let your kids wear themselves out having fun while staying cool.

For more information, please contact the City of Ocala Recreation and Parks Department at 352-368-5517 or visit www.ocalafl.gov/aquatics.

Square Dancing at Mary Sue Rich Community Center


Monday, April 1, 2024,  1:00 pm -  3:00 pm
At the Mary Sue Rich Community Center 1821 NW 21 Ave, Ocala, FL 34481
Cost: Free
Modern square dance class combines tradition with a contemporary twist! This class is available for anyone 13 and up! For more information just call: 352-401-6980
If you have never been to the Mary Sue Rich Community Center you absolutely have to stop in to see the state-of-the-art facilities! What an amazing asset for our citizens here in Ocala!

Mar 29, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

Baskerville is now playing LIVE at the Ocala Civic Theatre
 

One review on the OCT Facebook page gave great advice about the show: “DO NOT MISS BASKERVILLE. One of the funniest shows..5 actors did it all…acted, moved furniture around, played great comedians, each one changed costumes several times, and each one had at least 3 or more parts…You will laugh through the whole show…don’t miss it!!! You will be sorry if you do”

Ken Ludwig’s BASKERVILLE is live on stage from March 21 – April 7 at Ocala Civic Theatre.

TICKETS: (352) 236-2274 / ocalacivictheatre.com

 

 

Blueberry Season In Central Florida!

 

It’s about the sweetest time of year here in Ocala! The blueberries are ripening up and you can easily find u-pick blueberry farms throughout the area.

My family and I have always enjoyed the beauty and serenity to be found over at the Abshier Family Farms located at: 3960 SE 115th St, Belleview,  but you can find your favorite blueberry farm for your family all over the Central Florida area. 

@AbshierBlueberryFarm

 

 

Crones Cradle Conserve Natural Foods Festival

 

Tomorrow from 10 am to 3 pm there is a natural foods gala and sustainability festival over at Crones Cradle Conserve Foundation located at 6419 NE 217th Pl, Citra. If you’ve not visited Crones Conserve before, you are missing out. It is an amazing opportunity to see how living with the land naturally can be done here in Central Florida.

#CronesCradle

Mar 28, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

MISSING ENDANGERED JUVENILE – KAYLEE SHEFFIELD

 

Kaylee Sheffield just turned 15 in December and according to the MCSO she is missing and in danger. Kaylee was last seen yesterday Wednesday, March 27, 2024, at around 2:00 a.m. Kaylee was at her residence, located at 3918 NE 16th Court, Ocala, where she removed a small A/C unit in her room to exit the home. She is believed to have left on foot in an unknown direction. Kaylee’s phone was found and concerning images were located that have caused her family and law enforcement to be concerned for her well-being. If you have any information that can help us find Kaylee, please call 911 immediately.

#MCSO #Missingchild

 

 

The Horse That Ocala Police Chased Down SR 200

 

 In case you were wondering what happened to the horse that greeted Officer Bellamy at 4:30 in the morning on March 24th while parked at Ollie's Bargain Outlet to write a report. The horse led officers on a brief chase down the middle of SR 200, and the pursuit ended with officers safely corralling the horse in the parking lot of the College of Central Florida. The Marion County Sheriff's Office Agricultural Unit responded with a trailer to transport the horse to more suitable pastures. Apparently the unnamed owner of the beautiful stallion has come forward to claim the delinquent horse and take him back home. Hopefully with a stronger fence this time. #HorseCapitalOfTheWorld #OcalaPD

 

 

Five New Police Officers Join OPD

 

OPD just announced the swearing-in of five new police officers joining their team. We want to congratulate Ofc. D'Ambro, Ofc. Armstrong, Ofc. Fairbrother, Ofc. Gagnon, and Ofc. Grimes on their accomplishments.

Also, congratulations to the newly promoted sergeant, Sgt. Diesso!

With a solemn oath administered by Mayor Ben Marciano, these men and women have pledged to serve and protect our community with integrity, courage, and character.

Please welcome and congratulate our newest Ocala police officers and also a huge congratulations to the newly promoted sergeant. We wish them all the best in their new roles and look forward to the great things they will accomplish as they work to keep Ocala safe for everyone. #Ocalasafe #OcalaPD #Ocala 

Mar 27, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

Marion Sheriff’s Office Hosting Self-Defense Classes for Women in April

 

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office is offering a free R.A.D. course next month, designed to empower women and girls with self-defense skills. This 12-hour program, split into four 3-hour sessions, will take place at the MCSO Training Building, 692 NW 30th Avenue, Ocala, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The sessions are scheduled for April 11, 16, 18, and 23.
Starting with awareness and risk reduction strategies, the course will progress to hands-on defense training. The program ensures confidentiality for participants, creating a secure space for learning defense techniques against various threats. It's open to individuals aged 13 and above, and attendees are advised to wear comfortable clothing suitable for physical activity.
For registration, interested parties can contact MCSO Corporal Shelby Kinsey at skinsey@marionso.com.

I’d like to take a moment to tell you ladies out there that my teenage daughter and I took this class and it was the absolute best self defense class that I have ever been to. There were teenagers and ladies in their late 60’s in this class and we all learned a lot!

To have these volunteers give their time and to have a sheriff that cares enough about us to provide this program and location to us is absolutely amazing. In most places you have to pay for this program and rightly so because it is just that good. The fact that we have it available to us for free and at a central easily accessible location is amazing. Please ladies, I beg of you, please take this class. Not only that, but bring your daughters, your sisters, your mothers, your aunts and your female friends. 

To save your seat, email: skinsey@marionso.com.

Blueberry Season In Central Florida!

 

It’s about the sweetest time of year here in Ocala! The blueberries are ripening up and you can easily find u-pick blueberry farms throughout Central Florida.

My family and I have always enjoyed the beauty and serenity to be found over at the Abshier Family Farms blueberry picking, but you can find your favorite blueberry farm for your family all over the Central Florida area. Don’t forget to look into the Brooksville Blueberry festival coming up in April. More info on u-pick farms and the Brooksville blueberry festival can be found on Facebook events!

Mar 26, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

MCPS Children Have Early Release Tomorrow!

 

If you have children in the Marion County Public Schools, just a reminder: They have early release tomorrow! They will be getting out of school two hours earlier than their usually scheduled release time.

 

Square Dancing at Mary Sue Rich Community Center



Monday, April 1, 2024,  1:00 pm -  3:00 pm
At the Mary Sue Rich Community Center 1821 NW 21 Ave, Ocala, FL 34481
Cost: Free
Modern square dance class combines tradition with a contemporary twist! This class is available for anyone 13 and up! For more information just call: 352-401-6980
If you have never been to the Mary Sue Rich Community Center you have to stop in to see the state of the art facilities! What an amazing asset for our citizens here in Ocala!

Mar 25, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

Marion County Shelter Dogs Enjoy Expanded Play Area

 

Marion County Animal Services has nearly doubled its dog play area, enhancing outdoor enrichment for shelter dogs. This expansion, announced on March 1, aims to alleviate the severe overcrowding and improve animal welfare ahead of a new shelter opening in December 2025. The current facility, facing an urgent need for adopters and volunteers due to an influx of animals, including 53 dogs from a cruelty case, is located at 5701 SE 66th Street in Ocala. For adoption or volunteer information, visit the Marion County Animal Services website.

Prime Location in the Works For New Animal Shelter For Dogs & Cats.

 

The donor of the 137-acre farm that was declined by county commissioners for a new enhanced animal shelter, has now offered an additional 20 acres of land located north of the Ocala International Airport with prime frontage on State Road 40 for a new domestic animal shelter facility. The newly donated property is partially located within the city limits of Ocala and would replace the over 40-year-old outdated and extremely outgrown location for Animal Services at 5701 SE 66th St., Ocala.

 

According to preliminary information received from the city, the donated land would need to be annexed to be completely within the city’s jurisdiction as well as reviewed for land use and zoning compliance.

 

At this point, the incredibly generous donor has reviewed the concept for the facility. To keep this project moving swiftly, the commission approved the recommendation to grant the county commission chair the ability to execute the donation agreement once approved by the county attorney, rather than waiting for the document to be presented for approval at a consecutive county commission meeting.

The preliminary plans feature an extensive walking trail, a 5.3-acre dog play area, a 29,000 sq ft state-of-the-art veterinary, administration, and adoption center, and plenty of garage space for the animal control vehicles, the neuter commuter, and other vehicles used daily by the shelter. There are also hundreds and hundreds of kennels. The preliminary plans also have space set aside for future expansion. While we may not think we need this right now when you consider that we have not built an animal shelter in Ocala for over 40 years. So what will be the needs for our furry Ocala residents in the year 2064? The current facilities do not meet the needs of our county today, much less for another 40 years. 

Mar 22, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

Marion County Day 2024 Tomorrow!
 

Food trucks, local arts & crafts, fun activities, and more — come join us as we celebrate Marion County's 180-year history at Marion County Day! Saturday, March 23, from 10 am to 2 pm.

 

Admission is completely free, so bring your friends and family listen to presentations from local historians, and view artifacts from Marion County's history. Kids of all ages will enjoy multiple bounce houses, a petting zoo, archery, and other fun activities throughout the day.

So please come out and celebrate everything that makes Marion County a great place to live, work, & play!

                                                              

Marion County Sees Higher Kindergarten Readiness Scores

 

Marion County has seen a notable rise in kindergarten readiness, with 64% of Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) participants demonstrating readiness, compared to 35% of non-participants. This success follows the expansion of VPK to all public elementary schools, focusing on early literacy and math. The county progressed to 37th in the state from 66th last year, with 49% of kindergarten students meeting readiness levels, surpassing last year's performance by 14 percentage points. Superintendent Dr. Diane Gullett attributes this achievement to the district-wide implementation of VPK, emphasizing its role in improving early learning outcomes. Statewide, kindergarten screenings are conducted within the first 30 days of the school year, utilizing the FAST Star Early Literacy as the screener, to customize education for each student's needs. 

Mar 21, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

Marion Sheriff’s Office Hosting Self-Defense Classes for Women in April

 

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office is offering a free R.A.D. course next month, designed to empower women and girls with self-defense skills. This 12-hour program, split into four 3-hour sessions, will take place at the MCSO Training Building, 692 NW 30th Avenue, Ocala, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The sessions are scheduled for April 11, 16, 18, and 23.
Starting with awareness and risk reduction strategies, the course will progress to hands-on defense training. The program ensures confidentiality for participants, creating a secure space for learning defense techniques against various threats. It's open to individuals aged 13 and above, and attendees are advised to wear comfortable clothing suitable for physical activity.
For registration, interested parties can contact MCSO Corporal Shelby Kinsey at skinsey@marionso.com.

I’d like to take a moment to tell you ladies out there that my teenage daughter and I took this class and it was the absolute best self-defense class that I have ever been to. There were teenagers and ladies in their late 60’s in this class and we all learned a lot!

To have these volunteers give their time and to have a sheriff who cares enough about us to provide this program and location to us is amazing. In most places, you have to pay for this program and rightly so because it is just that good. The fact that we have it available to us for free and at a central easily accessible location is amazing. Please ladies, I beg of you, please take this class. Not only that, but bring your daughters, your sisters, your mothers, your aunts, and your female friends. 

To save your seat, email: skinsey@marionso.com.

Don’t Miss The Stage Kiss At Noma Black Box in April!

 

She’s an actress who hasn’t worked in a while. He’s an actor she hasn’t seen in years. And they’re paired during the revival of a forgotten 1932 melodrama. It was an overwrought flop – and so were they, years ago. But during rehearsals, as they play reunited lovers in a doomed romance, they’re drawn back together. And as they fall under the spell of the romance they’re acting out onstage, they quickly lose touch with reality as the story follows them offstage. Is it art imitating life – or life imitating art – in this play within a play? Saucy and a little surreal, STAGE KISS is a wickedly witty romantic comedy.
There will be 10 public performances, Thursdays through Sundays, April 11-21 at the Reilly Arts Center in the NOMA Black Box.

Mar 20, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

Were you aware that we don’t have snow in Ocala? But we still have hockey! If your kids were in a league up North and are missing the ice, Skate a Way South has you covered!

Youth roller hockey! Join their Olympic Roller Hockey program. Practices are currently in effect. In-house leagues will be for ages 10 & under, 12 & under, and 14 & under.
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm

Skate A Way South: 2008 E Silver Springs Blvd
$6 per youth

If you are thinking for even a second that it is not the same or shouldn’t be taken seriously…I will remind our listeners of the names: Erin Jackson, Brittany Bowe and Joey Mantia they grew up learning to skate at our local roller rink and ended up competing in the 2018 Beijing Olympic Winter Games. They are Olympic gold medalists and have broken numerous national records. 

Be A Part Of The Plan!

 

Are you concerned about changes you have seen in Ocala recently?

Are you interested in things like:

 

Economic Development

Downtown Expansion & Redevelopment

Tourism & Sports Areas & Events

Housing Solutions

Workforce Development and Talent Retention

Specialty & Advanced Manufacturing

Logistics & Distribution

 

These are just a few of the topics that will be discussed during the upcoming annual sister city trip. Join business and community leaders on the Quest Trip-Intercity Visit to this year's location: Savannah Georgia to gather best practices and to generate ideas to make the Ocala Metro an even better place to live, work, and play. This is an incredible way to make key connections with the area's most influential civic and business leaders. CEP's Quest trips provide numerous interactions among attendees to build relationships with each other, fostering opportunities and addressing local challenges.

 

You'll learn how Savannah earned the nickname "Hostess City" and hear about revitalization and initiatives to address the downtown riverfront. Additionally, the group will discover how tourism has driven growth at their airport and been enhanced by the efforts of their sports commission.    

 

Additionally, exploration of manufacturing, growth issues, and how Savannah is addressing tomorrow's workforce challenges. As always, you'll also get a taste of the area's history and culture.

The dates for this trip are: April 30th-May 2nd

For more information, be sure to contact the Ocala CEP today!

Mar 19, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

Ocala CEP Exceptional Mornings

 

Join the Ocala CEP on Wednesday, March 20th 7:30 AM -9:00 AM at the Reilly Arts Center, 500 NE 9th Street for their monthly exCEPtional Mornings breakfast!

You won’t want to miss this Panel Discussion to learn about the Development and Economic Vitality of downtown. Ocala Main Street (OMS) is a volunteer-driven, nonprofit organization for improving and maintaining the heart of our community and working to revitalize downtown Ocala.

The 2024 series sponsor for exCEPtional Mornings breakfast is presented by HCA Florida Ocala Hospital?. The March monthly breakfast sponsor is Geo-Tech, Inc.

RSVP today at the Ocala CEP Facebook page for this incredibly popular and informative event.

Free Crafting Projects For Free on Sundays

 

Do you have the crafting bug but don’t know where to start?

Did you know that on Sundays Michaels on College Road has you covered?

Sunday, March 24, 2024,  2:00 pm -  4:00 pm

Location: 2701 SW College Road, Ocala, FL

Join Michaels in-store for a fun craft each week! This event is free, and all supplies are included.

Website: www.michaels.com   Phone: 352-414-1009

Craft classes for free

March 18, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

MCPS Children Go Back To School Tomorrow!

 

If you have children in the Marion County Public Schools, this is a great time to remind you that it is nearly the end of spring break for them. Spring break started Saturday, March 9th and the kids go back tomorrow Tuesday, March 19th.

 

 

Pack Walk At Silver Spring State Park

 

Join the Marion County Animal Shelter at the historic Silver Springs State Park and help a shelter dog! This will be on March 24th from 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM

 

A busload of Ocala’s homeless dogs get to enjoy a nice Sunday morning at their favorite State Park. Attendees can walk these dogs through the park or just sit and socialize with them. All are welcome!

 

The park entry fee is just $2 per person.

 

The walk is for shelter dogs only. All dogs there are adoptable!

Mar 15, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

The Levitt AMP Ocala Music Series Is Back Tonight!

 

The Levitt AMP Ocala Music Series is a joint partnership with the City of Ocala to bring free, accessible music to citizens and residents in our community. Each year we provide 10 shows with 20 performing artists, 10 cultural arts non-profit intermissions, and one public art project, all complete throughout the 10-week Levitt AMP Ocala Music Series. In addition, we celebrate and activate Webb Field, a central public green space within the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Complex.

 

For some, the series is the only opportunity to access cultural arts programming. Through the series, attendees access ten genres of music with national, regional, and local artists as well as learn about ten not-for-profit local organizations that are providing year-found programming for our community. Levitt AMP Ocala Music Series is a safe community space that transcends barriers and unites our community with the love of free live music.

 

Website: www.ocalafl.org

 

Rain can’t stop the music! Inclement weather will move the concert series indoors to the E.D. Croskey Center. We have new sound panels to improve the sound indoors and need your support to help keep music in public spaces. Stay tuned on our Facebook page for a rain relocation announcement.

 

Free Monthly Kids' Workshops at Lowes!

 

Did you know you can bring your young do-it-yourselfer on Saturday, March 16, 2024, 10:00 am -  1:00 pm to any of the Lowes Locations here in Ocala to participate in a Free monthly Kids' Workshop with your mini-DIYer Register your mini-DIYer for upcoming workshops.

 

Not only that, but if they

- Complete 6 workshops they become a Junior Builder

- Complete 12 workshops and become a Senior Builder and get a FREE tool bag

 

To register and find out more visit their Website: www.lowes.com

 

According to Indeed.com the starting salary for an average general contractor here in Florida is $20-$30 per hour. Depending on the area they work in and their experience level, your child could make a six-figure salary. You never know what may spark their interest.

 

Both CF and MTI offer some amazing educational opportunities for vocational fields in plumbing, electrical, and contracting, so if your child loves to work with their hands, they may have an amazing career and get ahead of their peers who will still be spending years in college before they can even get started.

 

If nothing else, you both may just have a wonderful Saturday morning activity together that will probably teach you both something new.

Mar 14, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

The Levitt AMP Music Series Is Back!

 

The Levitt AMP Ocala Music Series is a joint partnership with the City of Ocala to bring free, accessible music to citizens and residents in our community. Each year we provide 10 shows with 20 performing artists, 10 cultural arts non-profit intermissions and one public art project, all complete throughout the 10-week Levitt AMP Ocala Music Series. In addition, we celebrate and activate Webb Field, a central public green space within the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Complex.

 

For some, the series is the only opportunity to access cultural arts programming. Through the series, attendees access ten genres of music with national, regional, and local artists as well as learn about ten not-for-profit local organizations that are providing year-round programming for our community. Levitt AMP Ocala Music Series is a safe community space that transcends barriers and unites our community socially and civically with the love of free live music.

 

Website: www.ocalafl.org Contact Phone: 352-629-8447

Rain can’t stop the music! Inclement weather will move the concert series indoors to the E.D. Croskey Center. We have new sound panels to improve the sound indoors and need your support to help keep music in public spaces. Stay tuned on our Facebook page for a rain relocation announcement.

 

Don’t Miss The Stage Kiss At Noma Black Box in April!

 

She’s an actress who hasn’t worked in a while. He’s an actor she hasn’t seen in years. And they’re paired during the revival of a forgotten 1932 melodrama. It was an overwrought flop – and so were they, years ago. But during rehearsals, as they play reunited lovers in a doomed romance, they’re drawn back together. And as they fall under the spell of the romance they’re acting out onstage, they quickly lose touch with reality as the story follows them offstage. Is it art imitating life – or life imitating art – in this play within a play? Saucy and a little surreal, STAGE KISS is a wickedly witty romantic comedy.
There will be 10 public performances, Thursdays through Sundays, April 11-21 at the Reilly Arts Center in the NOMA Black Box.

 

Mar 13, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

Appleton Artspace Spring Break

 

All day today Wednesday, March 13, 2024, 10:00 am -  5:00 pm

At the Appleton Museum located at 4333 E. Silver Springs Blvd.

The Artspace engages adults and children in hands-on art experiences through colorful activity stations and projects that promote the understanding of art. Make a mosaic with magnets, build with Lego®, or draw on our glass wall — there’s something for every age and ability! The Artspace, supplies, and activities are free for Appleton members and included with the museum admission fee for nonmembers.

Adults: $10 |Youth (6-17): $5 |Children 5 & under: Free |Members: Free

Website: www.appletonmuseum.org

Contact Phone: 352-291-4455

Pop, Lock, and Dance

(Ages 13+) at Mary Sue Rich Community Center

Wednesdays and Fridays in March  6:30 pm -  7:30 pm

Location: 1821 NW 21st Ave, Ocala, FL 34475

The best news is this is completely Free!

This is for ages 13+.

Get ready to groove, master moves, and discover your unique style.

 

- Fundamentals

- Choreography

- Hip Hop, Jazz & Contemporary Styles

 

Website: www.ocalafl.gov

Contact Phone: 352-401-6980

Mar 12, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

Live Oak International March 14-17

 

From March 14 to 17, the Horse Capital of the World will showcase international combined driving teams and show-jumping individuals during the 33rd annual Live Oak International.

The Live Oak International is a thrilling annual equestrian event nestled in the heart of Ocala, Florida. With top-notch show jumping, mesmerizing combined driving, and graceful dressage performances, it's a celebration of equestrian excellence like no other.

Come experience the magic of horse and rider in perfect harmony as they tackle challenging obstacles and showcase their skills with finesse. But it's not just about the competition – there's plenty of entertainment, educational sessions, and vibrant vendor booths to explore, making it a delightful experience for everyone.

Enjoy a weekend filled with excitement, camaraderie, and the beauty of the equestrian world. We can't wait to welcome you to Live Oak International.

 

Spring Break Shenanigans at HQ Ocala Public Library

 

Starting Monday, March 11, 2024,  4:00 pm yes, I know it started yesterday, but I did tell you there was lots of stuff going on all over, this is just some of the details. Don’t miss out! Free activities and events are going on all over town this week during spring break!

Headquarters-Ocala: 2720 E. Silver Springs Blvd. Ocala, Florida 34470

Free activities!

Celebrate spring and keep boredom at bay! Ages 5-12 with caregivers.

Tuesday Art in the Afternoon Wednesday Cardboard Construction Thursday Books! Books! Books! Friday Movie Time!

Website: library.marionfl.org

Contact Phone: 352-671-8551

 

Preschool Parenting Program with ELC

 

Tonight Tuesday, March 12, 2024,  5:30 pm -  8:00 pm

At the Lillian Bryant Community Center-2200 NW 17th Place for the grand price of Free, you can join a new parenting program! It's a FREE Preschool Parenting Program for families with children 3-5 years old. Does your preschooler have challenging behaviors such as whining, temper tantrums, or struggles sleeping? Join the early learning coalition where you will receive resources and education to address these issues, plus many others.

 

Child care and dinner are provided. Receive a $50 bonus when you attend at least 11 sessions. Space is limited. Contact Phone: (352) 369-2315

Contact Email: ParentingPrograms@ELC-Marion.org

Mar 11, 2024 Ocala's Rapid Report

Giselle Presented by Dance Alive National Ballet At Reilly

 

The ultimate Romantic Ballet, Giselle is the tragic story of a beautiful young peasant girl who falls in love with a prince disguised as a commoner. Ultimately dying of a broken heart, she becomes one with the ‘Wilis’, ethereal ghosts of unmarried girls. Giselle features DANB Principal Dancers Carla Amancio as Giselle and Roberto Vega as Albrecht.

 

The performance will be this Thursday at 7:30 pm at the Reilly Arts Center

Marion County Animal Shelter At Capacity

 

Imagine for a moment, you are placed in a cage so small that you can not stand up, you can not stretch out. You are to remain sitting or lying down for not days or even weeks, but months.

During those months, you are fed sporadically, if at all. You start losing weight so much that your bones are seen everywhere and anyone could easily count your ribs. You are no longer able to get a shower, and there is nowhere to defecate so your feces gets all over you and the small cage you are confined to. You are surrounded by the sounds and smells of others in similar cages around you who are just as miserable and depressed. So many months pass that your teeth get sore so it hurts to eat when you are fed and some of your teeth are rotten now. You are stuck like this until you inevitably die.

This is the actual scenario that Animal Control walked into last month. 53 dogs in deplorable conditions in a 2-bedroom home right here in Ocala. They rescued those dogs from that. In as much as they are getting food and medicine, these hard-working people are completely overwhelmed with the 350 animals already in their care. Adding another 53 with severe neglect and considerable emergency health needs is too much.

Our animal shelter can not sustain over 400 pets. Just picture that for a moment. Not ten, not twenty, not even one hundred. FOUR HUNDRED ANIMALS. Not only that but what about any animals that are lost or wandering the streets or nuisances right now? Can they answer your call about a wandering aggressive dog, when they have nowhere to put him if they do come and catch him? Considering that in 2023 animal control handled over 23,000 calls for service, the chances are pretty high that they will be needed or are needed right now and there is no room left to bring these animals. The situation has been steadily getting worse, but it is now getting dire.

 

I know you want to help. I know because the people in Ocala have kind hearts and we love our pets here. If you are not in a position to adopt a pet right now, can you foster one? Just one? If a few people can answer this plea today and foster some of these dogs that have had such a miserable existence the last few months and show them the love that humans are capable of, I know that we will all be better off for it. Please contact the Marion County Animal Shelter and look into adopting or fostering at: Animalservices.marionfl.org/home-animalservices

 

If you can’t have a pet or foster one but still want to help, you can volunteer at the shelter or you can contact your county commissioner about building a new facility for these furry Ocala residents. Our current animal shelter is much too small and is over 40 years old. Having a larger more updated facility with plenty of play areas won’t take away the trauma, and isn’t the same as having a home, but it will make their little lives a little more bearable as they wait to be found by their future family. Until then, today, like every day, they wait in the Marion County Animal Shelters' slightly larger cages.

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