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Shelia Mader

Shelia Mader

Sports Editor

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Sneads Lady Pirates are headed to state

  • Published in Sports

The Sneads Lady Pirates traveled to Holmes County last week and had their work cut out for them. They went into battle fully prepared and it paid off with a 3-1 win over the Lady Blue Devils that paved the way for a run at a first ever state championship for Lady Pirate softball. 

For this pivotal game, coach Shawn Graham sent his senior ace Marissa Baxter to the circle. Baxter threw 107 pitches with 70 of those for strikes. She allowed one run on eight scattered hits, no walks and struck out two batters through seven innings of work. 

It was a slow start offensively with the Pirates going through the lineup without a hit or a walk. In the fourth inning, the jitters were gone and they were down to business. Abby Perkins started things off with a single and moved to second when Baxter helped herself out with a single that put runners at first and second. Michaela Edenfield hit into a fielder’s choice that got Perkins going to third. Kiara Garrett sacrificed runners to second and third before Lacee Glover came through with an RBI single down the left side. A flyout ended the inning but Sneads had drawn first blood and led 1-0. 

A leadoff singled by Hannah Stephens started the fifth inning but a double-play ball followed by a groundout resulted in no runs crossing the board. Holmes County knotted it up in the bottom of the fifth inning. 

Sneads knuckled down and plated two runs in the top of the sixth inning. Abby Perkins led off with a single but was out on a fielder’s choice by Marissa Baxter. Have no fear of that out for Michaela Edenfield came through with a shot over the centerfield fence to add the game winning runs.  A two out singled by Lacee Glover was the only other offense in the sixth. 

Hannah Stephens led off with a single and moved to second on a grounder by Taylor Lanphere.  A double-play ball ended the inning but the Lady Pirates had enough to secure the win.  Although Holmes County threatened in their half of the seventh, the defense knuckled down and shut down the threat. 

Sneads left Sunday for their run at a State Championship.  The TIMES will update game scores as they are available on our website, TIMES ALERT and Facebook.

Marianna softball is headed to state after 2-0 shutout

  • Published in Sports

The Marianna Lady Bulldogs shut out Baker County Friday afternoon to advance to the State Championship for the first time ever. The monkey is off their back and they can proudly claim the Regional Championship that sends them to the final four.  Ironically, it’s 20 years following Marianna baseball’s only state championship.  The team traveled to Baker County with fans and supporters following and handed the home team a 2-0 shutout behind the pitching of senior Chloe Temples.

Temples went the distance in the circle, giving up no runs on four hits, two walks and fanned nine batters. Marianna threatened in the first inning but could not plate a run. With two outs, Gabby Bess singled and moved to third when Amari Brown took advantage of a Baker County miscue. Both runners were left on base when a fly out to centerfield ended the inning.

The Lady Dawgs had a one-out single by Chloe Temples in the second inning. She moved to second on a sac by Anni Beebe but a strikeout ended the inning.  Marianna had a pair of baserunners in the third inning but the goose egg remained on the scoreboard. With one out, Deana Holland singled, stole second followed by a two-out walk to Amari Brown. A ground out left both runners stranded on the bag. 

The Lady Dawgs came ever so close to picking up their first run in the fourth inning but didn’t quite make it. Angel Curry led off with a double and went to third with one out on a passed ball. With two outs, she was out heading for home on a fielder’s choice by Anni Beebe. 

They erased the zero with a run crossing the plate in the fifth inning. Lauren ‘LuLu’ Brock led off with a triple. Deana Holland did her job with a successful sac bunt to score Brock.  Gabby Bess drew a walk and moved to third on a two-out single by Lexie Spooner but a flyout to centerfield ended the inning with two on the bags. 

Marianna’s Anni Beebe had a one-out single in the sixth inning and moved to second on a sac by Jayden Sorey.  Lauren Brock drew a walk, followed by a single by Deana Holland but no runs crossed the 

plate.

The final run came in the seventh inning when Amari Brown drew a leadoff walk, stole second before scoring on a double by Lexie Spooner. Two outs ended the inning but the Lady Dawgs had all the runs they needed to move on to the final four!

Marianna softball was scheduled to leave Tuesday to travel to Vero Beach for State Tournament play. Their first game is at 7:35 CST 

Bill Conrad delivers inspirational graduation speech

Jackson County had eight graduating classes this year with school personnel, board members and superintendent in attendance at each one. They are pretty much in agreement that none were more inspirational than the Jackson County Adult Ed graduation with speaker Bill Conrad delivering his speech. 

The crowd knew they had a special graduate following Director of Career and Adult Education Phyllis Daniels.  Daniels said of Conrad, “It has been my privilege to know tonight’s speaker for approximately 45 years. In that 45 years he has acquired many titles...husband, father, grandfather, farmer and now graduate. Having acquired an interest in farming at a very early age and having a work ethic second to none, Mr. Conrad has become somewhat of an Agricultural Icon.  I’d like to share just a few of his agricultural awards as provided by Jackson County Extension Agent Doug Mayo: 1996 Hog Farmer of the Year, 1999 and 2000 Corn Farmer of the Year, 2013 Outstanding Farm Family, 2014-2018 Hay Farmer of the Year (5 consecutive years). And recently, at the request of the Auburn University Agricultural Department, Bill served on a Hay and Forage Advisory Panel. Clearly, the awards he has amassed in his agricultural career are impressive.  More impressive is Bill Conrad the man.  Not only is he a humble man with amazing character, he is a servant leader who shows integrity in all walks of his life.  In addition to operating his own farm, for many years he supplemented the farm income as a custom service provider.  In business, there is always the risk of misunderstanding, but I have never heard a single story regarding Bill Conrad that was anything but complimentary.  C. M. Ward said, “A man is not responsible for his name, but he is responsible for what people think when they hear it.”  When I hear “Bill Conrad” I think exemplary family man, accomplished farmer, impeccable character and now high school graduate!”

Conrad lost his wife of 30 years in 2017. They had five children and all were present Monday night at their father’s graduation. He accomplished the one mission his wife wanted him to accomplish and that was to obtain his high school diploma. 

His speech said it all to everyone there and left few dry eyes, “Welcome graduates, family and friends, In August of 1969, my parents started me on my official educational journey.  It was the first year that Malone School offered kindergarten class. My parents assumed 13 years later, that they would see their son receive his high school diploma. Well we know that didn’t happen. I remember in elementary school I liked math and history. I had a hard time learning to read, and having a speech impediment didn’t help any either. I did go to therapy and my speech improved some, CAN’CHA TELL. I like third grade so much, I had two years of it. In middle school, I did okay in math, history and science, but English was getting harder. I was still struggling to read, but I figured out how to get by and made it to high school. Math was my best subject until we had to learn algebra. Well, that was the last straw. I persuaded my parents that it was time for me to join my father on the family farm. So, I quit school and was helping my father and bought my first farm land at the age of 17.”

Conrad continued to a silenced crowd, “Around 18, I went to night school at Malone High School and learned to read. Wow, what a difference being able to read made. I remembered when I took my written driver’s test at 16, I had to take it a couple of times and I barely passed it. When I took it again after learning to read, I passed the first time with a 100. Being able to read changed my life. I should have stuck with night school and got my education, but between work and girls, I just didn’t have time. In 1985, I bought the family farm, the next few years proved to be every bit as challenging as they were rewarding.” 

Conrad brought a little laughter to the audience, “In 1987, I did something I said I would never do. I married a Yankee and visited New York City.  My wife Donna was from Long Island, New York and had a degree in music therapy. She adjusted well and fit right in here. Donna was working at Florida State Hospital where she worked with the criminally insane when I met her. My friends used to joke with me, asking if that is where we met. NO, we met at church. Over the next 12 years, we had five children. My wife stayed home with them for 18 years, then she went back to work at Sunland for extra money and health insurance. With her education, she was able to get a state job. She would often say to me, you need to get your GED, and I would respond back to her saying I don’t have time, I got to work and make money to feed all these kids.”

On a more serious note, Conrad continued, “You know life doesn’t always go the way we plan. We learned how important health insurance is when I got sick in 2008 and could barely walk in 2009. In October of 2017, my wife of 30 years was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in December, 2017. If it was not for my faith in God and support from my family and friends, I don’t know how I would have gotten through this event in my life.  With that life changing event, I had to make some choices about my education. So, I could be able to get a job with insurance. So, in September 2018, I enrolled in the Jackson County Adult Education Program. It was a challenge to go back to school after so many years. I’m a lot older and my eyes and memory are not as good as they once were, but it was time for me to finish this journey. Over the course of the next six months, countless hours and with the support of great teachers and family, I earned my high school diploma. I’ve received several awards and recognitions over the years for farming, but none of them felt as good as getting my GED.”

Conrad concluded, “Challenges will come in life and it’s how we react to them that defines us as a person. To my fellow graduates, please don’t focus on the circumstances that brought you here tonight, focus on the fact that you are here. My parents thought I would be in the Malone graduate class of 1982, but her I am 37 years later, an Adult Education graduate, class of 2019. Congratulations to all the graduates.  We did it!”

Conrad’s five children were all smiles as their dad stood before the crowd, Joseph, BJ, Elijah, Rachael and Heidi. 

Daniels summed up Conrad, “His life changed when he learned to read.  Linda Hall, former teacher and Principal at Malone taught night school for a while.  She taught him how to read.  Secondly, of all the awards he’s won in his career as a farmer, none felt as good as earning his diploma. You won’t find a finer fella anywhere.”

Governor Ron DeSantis comes through with Bridge Loan for ag producers

The TIMES received a call from a very excited Senator George Gainer last week in reference to a major signing by Governor Ron DeSantis to aid the agricultural producers in the wake of damages left by Hurricane Michael.  Senator Gainer said, “This is historic for our ag industry and we couldn’t be prouder of Governor DeSantis for what he has done for the Panhandle since he took office.”

Senator Gainer was referring to Governor DeSantis activating the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support agricultural producers impacted by Hurricane Michael. The program will have $25 million to help agricultural producers prepare for the upcoming growing seasons as part of ongoing recovery efforts from Hurricane Michael.

The counties included are Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Okaloosa, Wakulla, Walton and Washington counties. The application period opened Wednesday, May 15 and runs through June 30, 2019.

Governor DeSantis said, “Since day one, my administration has been laser-focused on making sure Floridians in Northwest Florida completely recover from Hurricane Michael. The activation of the Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program will provide much-needed relief to Florida farmers whose crops were decimated by this storm and will help in our efforts to bring Northwest Florida back stronger than before.”

The press release went on to say, “The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) currently administers the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program with the Florida Small Business Development Center Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation to provide cash flow to businesses damaged by a disaster. The short-term, interest-free loans help bridge the gap between the time damage is incurred and when a producer secures other financial resources, including payment of crop insurance claims or federal disaster recovery appropriations.”

“We appreciate Governor DeSantis’ leadership as communities in the Florida Panhandle are continuing to recover from the impacts of Hurricane Michael,” said DEO Executive Director Ken Lawson. “This loan will provide agricultural producers in the impacted areas the opportunity to prepare for the upcoming growing seasons.” 

Florida agricultural producers with land in production that has suffered physical damage and/or economic injury as a result of Hurricane Michael can apply for the short-term loans up to $200,000. To be eligible, the agricultural producer must have been established prior to Oct. 7, 2018.

“As agricultural producers are preparing for the upcoming growing seasons, we want them to know we are here to help walk them through the loan process as they pick up the pieces from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Michael,” said Mike Myhre, CEO of the Florida SBDC Network. “We appreciate Governor DeSantis for working to find solutions for these small businesses. It is a pleasure to partner with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to help small businesses throughout the Florida Panhandle.”

Jackson County Cattlemen’s Association President Jeff Snell applauded the Governor’s actions, “On behalf of the members of the Jackson County Cattlemen’s Association, I would like to thank Governor DeSantis, Senator Gainer, Representative Brad Drake, Commissioners Clint Pate and Jim Peacock, the representatives from Florida Farm Bureau, the Jackson County Farm Bureau President Jeffrey Pittman, Bud Baggett, The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, and Jackson County Cattlemen’s Association members Andy Andreasen, Billy Bigham, Ken Godfrey and Mack Glass for all of their hard work and dedication to the ag community of Jackson County. Countless behind the scenes hours have been devoted to seeing this program come to life. This program will be instrumental to the continuation of the local ad industry until federal legislation is passed.”

Local farmer Bud Baggett was extremely pleased with the announcement by Governor DeSantis, “I thank Governor DeSantis for his diligence in looking after the agricultural community and I’d like to add a special thanks to Richard Pinksy for all of his help to arrange our meetings with Governor DeSantis and legislators in Tallahassee.”  

To complete an application by the June 30, 2019 deadline, or for more information on the program, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org. For questions regarding the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network at 866-737-7232 or email . The phone line will be answered during regular business hours; all voice mails and emails will be responded to within 24 hours. Applications can be submitted beginning May 20th, 2019.

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