Ocala News

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Fort King National Historic Landmark Announces Opening of Archaeology Center

Post Date: 09/23/2020 12:05 PM

OCALA, Fla. (Sept. 23, 2020) – The Fort King National Historic Landmark, 3925 E. Fort King St., announces the opening of its Archaeology Center Friday, Oct. 2.

The Archaeology Center showcases artifacts found on-site at Fort King. It offers education about the archaeological process that took place for the re-creation the Fort King replica and future projects like the blacksmith shop. The Center also features new artifacts that have never been seen by the public and were discovered during the blacksmith shop excavation. New exhibits are planned quarterly.

The Archaeology Center will be open Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. Due to the COVID-19 concerns, capacity will be limited to five visitors at a time and all guests must wear a face covering and adhere to a physical distance of six feet apart. To tour the Archaeology Center, guests should check in at the Fort King Visitor’s Center. Continue reading

Post Date: 09/22/2020 10:36 AM

OCALA, Fla. (Sept. 22, 2020) – The Ocala Recreation and Parks department will host the annual Boo Bash at E.D. Croskey Recreation Center, 1510 NW Fourth St., Saturday, October 31, 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. This family-friendly Halloween event is free to attend.

Boo Bash will offer games, spooky activities and plenty of candy! Costumes are encouraged, and all ages are welcome. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Due to health and safety measures, guests must reserve a time to attend. To reserve a time slot, email jbaker@ocalafl.org or call 352-401-3920. Capacity will be limited to 50 people in each time slot to allow for proper social distancing.   In between each reserved group, stations will be sanitized and cleaned in preparation for the next reserved group of visitors.  Guests will be required to wear a face covering inside the center. Children under 3 are not required to wear a face covering. Continue reading

Post Date: 09/18/2020 9:04 AM

OCALA, Fla. (Sept. 18, 2020) – The City of Ocala announces Preston Pooser as the new director for Ocala Recreation and Parks.  After a nationwide recruitment process, Pooser accepted the role of director in August, and began his duties as director of Ocala Recreation and Parks Sept. 8.  Prior to joining the Ocala team, Pooser served as the Parks and Recreation Director for the City of Deerfield Beach, Florida since April 2019.

In his role as director, Pooser is responsible for a department of 65 employees and operations that include management of parks operations and maintenance; central business district maintenance; recreation and aquatic facilities and programming; event services; golf, tennis and other sports facilities; and cultural arts and sciences facilities and programs. Continue reading

Post Date: 09/15/2020 10:31 AM

OCALA, Fla. (Sept. 15, 2020) – The City of Ocala Public Works department recently received the results from a satisfaction survey that randomly sampled its residential and commercial sanitation customers.  The survey was designed to gather feedback and better understand the opinions of the city’s collection practices.  Survey responses will guide Public Works in its decisions regarding sanitation collections moving forward.

The local survey, by Baldrige Group, LLC, was conducted in early August on behalf of the City of Ocala.  The survey was primarily conducted by telephone, however, an internet-based survey was added this year and included a cross section of businesses and residential customers.

A total of 52 surveys were conducted among Commercial customers, providing an overall satisfaction rating of 98 out of 100 percent; residential customers provided an overall satisfaction rating of 94 out of 100 percent with a total of 92 surveys conducted. The results collected from these surveys are compared to the year-over-year results and help determine what improvements can be made in service delivery.

“We always appreciate our customers willingness to provide feedback on services. These results determine the effectiveness of how we are delivering service to our customers and will serve as a roadmap for how we address sanitation needs for the city over the course of the next business year,” said Darren Park, Public Works Director, City of Ocala. “Seeing the overall satisfaction numbers in the upper percentiles lets us know that we are on the right track as we move forward.”

For more information, please contact the City of Ocala Public Works Department at 352-351-6733.

Post Date: 09/15/2020 2:44 PM

OCALA, Fla. (Sept. 15, 2020) – The Ocala Recreation and Parks Department has made the decision to cancel the Fort King Haunted Trail event Saturday, October 31, due to the continued uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, including restrictions for attending public gatherings in Florida.  This event was scheduled to take place at the Fort King National Historic Landmark, 3925 E Fort King St.

“As a department we are committed to creating safe experiences that families may enjoy together,” said Keifer Calkins, Historic Resource Program Supervisor, City of Ocala. “The decision to cancel a popular event is always difficult, however, public health and safety are the driving factors behind this decision.”

The Fort King National Historic Landmark is open daily seven days a week from sunrise to sunset. The Visitors Center is open on a limited basis, Fridays and Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. In accordance with current recommended health guidelines, only five visitors at a time will be allowed inside the Visitor’s Center. All guests must wear a face covering while inside the Visitor’s Center and adhere to a physical distance of six feet apart.  Continue reading


Post Date: 09/15/2020 10:40 AM

OCALA, Fla. (Sept. 15, 2020) – The City of Ocala recently completed construction for the new conservation area known as the Ocala Wetland Recharge Park, 2105 NW 21st St.  The park will officially open to the public Monday.  Hours of operation will be sunrise to sunset daily.

The project broke ground in June 2018 was completed in 27 months. The 60 acres of conservation area will provide greenspace for the west side of Ocala. Funding for construction of the park was made possible through grants received from the St. John’s River Water Management District, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Legislative Springs Funding, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Recreation and Trail Program, and Florida Department of Environmental Protection 319 Non-point Source Pollution.

The Ocala Wetland Recharge Park features educational kiosks, two and a half miles of walking trails and scenic boardwalks. This environmental landmark receives approximately three million gallons of treated wastewater and stormwater daily.  The engineered ecological system of the park will reduce nutrients and other pollutants in the water it receives. The newly polished water will recharge or give water directly back to the aquifer. An additional benefit of the park will be outdoor passive recreation, indigenous flora and fauna, and educational components.

For more information, please contact the City of Ocala Water Resources department at 352-351-6772 or visit Ocala Wetland Recharge Park on Facebook and Instagram.

(OCALA, Fla.) Sept. 11, 2020 – Ocala Fire Rescue (OFR) responded to reports of a fire alarm at Canterbury Circle apartment complex at 7:38 p.m.

Post Date: 09/11/2020

OFR Engines 3, 4, and 6, Rescue 3, Squad 7, Battalion Chief 22, and a Safety Officer were dispatched to the call at the 3500 block of SW 38th Terrace.

Upon arrival, crews encountered a strong smell of smoke near the unit that triggered the fire alarm. Without residents to facilitate access, firefighters forced entry into the unit. Upon entering, crews found a dog attempting to exit the smoke-filled staircase of the second-floor duplex unit.  The dog was removed and taken to safety.

Engine crews made their way up the stairs to find a fire in the kitchen and an active sprinkler system dousing the flames. The fire was under control by 7:52 p.m. and extinguished by 7:56 p.m.

The sprinkler system was deactivated, and overhaul operations began.

Four people (two second-floor unit residents and two from the first-floor unit) were displaced due to significant water damage. No injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

The Ocala Police Department, Ocala Electric Utility, and Marion County Fire Rescue also responded.

Post Date: 09/11/2020 9:30 AM

OCALA, Fla. (Sept. 11, 2020) – The City of Ocala, through its Cultural Arts and Sciences Division, announces the completion of a “living art mural” in the downtown area.  International, Miami-based artist, Ernesto Maranje, began painting the west-facing wall at the Brick City Center for the Arts, 23 SE Broadway, May 18. The project, commissioned by the Cultural Arts and Sciences Division through public-private funding, is a collaboration between Maranje, artist and fabricator Mike Zeak, and horticulturalist, Suzanne Shuffitt. Maranje’s concept was approved by the Ocala Municipal Art Commission (OMAC).

The concept for the mural is a unique blend of street art, incorporating horticulture into the design. The mural makes use of attached, custom-fabricated plant trellises that house carefully curated plants and plant materials.  The selection of plants installed for the final phase of the mural will grow and change throughout the seasons, attributing to the project’s significance as a ‘living’ art mural.

The project was completed in late August.

(The original release, distributed Thursday, May 14 is below for reference) Continue reading

Post Date: 09/11/2020 3:18 PM

OCALA, Fla. (Sept. 11, 2020) – The City of Ocala will resume parking meter operations in the downtown area beginning Monday, Sept. 14.  In March, the city chose to suspend the collection of parking meter fees in response to COVID-19 and to support local businesses remaining open during the pandemic.

The parking meter rates of 50 cents per hour will be in effect during this time; and a time limit of three hours per space, for most spaces, will be enforced. Accepted forms of payment include coins, credit/debit cards, Passport Parking app or call in service, and Apple or Google Pay.

The parking meters downtown are in effect weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are approximately 159 parking meters located throughout the downtown and midtown areas. The goal of the parking meter program is to provide a steady turnover of convenient parking spaces located near downtown businesses.

In addition to the metered parking spaces, free parking is available daily at the downtown parking garage located at 296 SE Broadway St.

For more information, please contact the City of Ocala at 352-629-8201.

Deadline for Nominations September 27, 2020

Now in its fifth year, the MCA Arts Awards will honor those individuals and organizations who enhance our quality of life through outstanding service, vision, and commitment to our creative community.

Award Categories

Service: Recognizes an exceptional individual for their dedicated volunteerism in the arts and contribution to the arts community as a whole.

Vision: Recognizes an individual or organization in Ocala/Marion County for
their outstanding advocacy of the arts.

Education: Recognizes an arts educator who utilizes the arts as a tool for achieving excellence.

Self-nominations are welcome. The online nomination forms can be found at mcaocala.org. Click here for more information about the awards process and Applaud the Arts.

For more information contact Jaye Baillie, MCA Executive Director, 352.369.1500 or at jaye.baillie@mcaocala.com.

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