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Shelia Mader

Shelia Mader

Sports Editor

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Sneads weightlifting making noise early in the season

  • Published in Sports

The Sneads Pirates weightlifting team wasted little time making noise in the 2019 season.  Their first meet of the year was at Wakulla last week.

Anthony Terry tied the state bench press record for his weight class. He will have to tie or lift more than that at the state meet to become the record holder officially. According to his coach, Bill Thomas, “He should blow it away by then.” Terry’s total was 50 pounds more than the 139-state champion from 2018. 

Alonzo Hill had a 570 in 154 class, 35 pounds more than the 2018 state champion.

Thomas said, “We are hoping for a team title this year. I won the team championship three times when I was at Arnold.  With that said, Terry and Hill may be the best two lifters I’ve had.”


  • Published in Sports

The Hope School Falcons are the 2019 State Special Olympics Basketball Champions.  This is seventh time the Falcons have claimed the championship.  Hope School is home to nine state championships. 

The Falcons swept through the tournament, taking game one on Friday before winning it all in game two with a 38-22 win. This gave the Falcons back-to-back state champions, having captured the championship in 2018.

Hope School didn’t stop with a state championship but had four place in the skills team competition. Nick and Devin received a gold medal. Isaac received a silver while Hunter received a bronze.

The faculty and staff of Hope School will be hosting a celebration at Hope School recognizing these athletes, cheerleaders, coaches and sponsors at 10:00 a.m. Friday.  

Congratulations from the publisher and staff of the TIMES on your awesome accomplishment. 

Tung oil trees are making a comeback

Local entrepreneur Charles Reiff remains on the cutting edge of technology so it was no surprise when he opted to revitalize a successful ‘crop’ from the early 1900s. Reiff chose to go with an expert in Greg Frost of Gulf Coast Tung Oil out of Tallahassee.  

The TIMES toured Charles Reiff’s 60-acre tung oil field last Friday to get a hands-on look at the operation.  We talked with Pat Minogue, University of Florida professor of Forestry, “Back in the 1930s and around that time, there were 12,000 acres in this area. It was a band that was about 80 miles wide that goes across Florida and into Mississippi that was planted and some of the 12,000 acres in Mississippi but there was ever bit of 10,000 acres in Florida. The industry grew from just one little plant in the 30s, it’s easy to grow, it’s not prone to diseases, it doesn’t require a lot of nutrition and it’s not really invasive.  If you go from Jackson to Gadsden and other counties you will see tung oil trees. Just recently, they have said they have some concern but what we are doing is best management practices. Tung oil is a fast-producing crop, unlike pine trees that take 15 to 20 years for the crop to mature to harvest. Tung oil trees will have nuts on them within two full years of maturity, not enough to gather for crops but by age four to five years, they are producing well enough for harvest.” 

Minogue and his staff were here last Friday getting the ground ready for a new crop of tung trees that are scheduled to be planted in March. Tung trees have a beautiful bloom in the spring and they are harvested in the fall. The tung tree produces a nut and from that nut, seeds are pressed into what becomes tung oil. Frost says, “Tung oil has been used literally for thousands of years as a wood finish and that’s one of the primary uses still today.”

Greg Frost talked about the tung-oil production in years past, “This area back in the twenties and thirties had tens of thousands of acres of tung trees. It was a very large industry all along the gulf coast pretty much from Mississippi to Gainesville.”

Reiff, Frost along with the University of Florida and the Florida Department of Agriculture have high hopes of bringing the crop back to this area. They are especially excited about this venture in light of the devastation left by Hurricane Michael with all the pine trees that were destroyed. They feel like although they have some trees that are close to two years old, the timing for the project is perfect. 

Minogue said, “Since the hurricane we’re looking for alternates. Crops that grow quickly, that are high value and tung is one of those.”

Frost said lots of people in north Florida and the panhandle are at a loss for what to do with their acreage, “A lot of folks are trying to figure out, what do I do with my farm, how do I go from here, how do I optimize the income that I can have from my farm, and tung oil offers that.”

Frost says, “Tung oil has been used literally for thousands of years as a wood finish and that’s one of the primary uses still today.”

Frost says it is also used in a variety of electronics including batteries which leads them to think the demand for tung oil is only going to grow. 

“Overall we’re trying to support this as a new business opportunity for the cities in the county,” says Pat Minogue of University of Florida. 

It is the hope of everyone that this venture will recruit growers in Jackson County because much of the soil in the area is perfect for this crop.

Minoque says, “A soil that has a sandy surface and a clay layer below that, that would have a good moisture holding capacity and nutrient holding capacity.”

Reiff said, “We probably have 40 good acres in this field.”  Frost said the initial research into bringing back tung oil began about seven or eight years ago and that he and Charles (Reiff) began pursuing the idea of bringing it back to the area.  

Debris clean up on Chipola River begins

Passer-byers on the Caverns Road Tuesday morning, your curiosity was peaked when you saw a couple of very large barges, one equipped with a grapple on the Chipola River at Yancey Bridge. We talked with Parks and Recreation Director, Rhett Daniels about the reason for the barges.

Daniels said the county had a couple of contractors to remove debris from the Chipola River left from Hurricane Michael. Daniels said, “There are two phases involved with this. First, as you can tell, the river is kind of high so they’ll be getting what they can now and then they’ll be making another pass when the river is down to try and get everything.” 

Daniels said one issue they are facing is establishing hurricane debris and long-lasting debris, “If it was there pre-storm, they are instructed not to remove it based on DEP and US Fish and Wildlife guidelines. Daniels said a lot of that will be determined by the monitoring company that is a third-party contractor but overall, they will be able to remove several yards of debris. Daniels says in talking with one of the project managers, “They anticipate this will take several months depending on the extent of what they are allowed to remove.  There are several state agencies and federal agencies working on this project as far as guidelines as what can be done. If Northwest Florida Management District were to allow them to work out into the flood plane to remove debris with the water high, that will obviously consist of a lot more debris to be taken out of the waterway.” 

Daniels said for the most part they are starting at Yancey Bridge and going to Johnny Boy’s which is outside Jackson County but is still in Calhoun and going all the way out to Wewa. Daniels said a factor that complicated the river was the sever amount of rainfall they had after the hurricane, coupled with all the downed debris has restricted the river flow. That has allowed the river to back up into properties where you typically wouldn’t see any flooding. This has increased the duration of the flooding that Jackson County has seen. 

Daniels reiterated that there were several departments involved, DEP, US Wildlife, Northwest Water District are the primary ones involved. Daniels said he was very grateful for it getting started this soon, “It was actually a lot sooner than I anticipated so hopefully by summertime, it won’t be completely cleared but hopefully we will have that additional economic boost that we need right now with people coming to utilize our rivers.”

Daniels said there are approximately 74 miles of river, including all the way up to Christoff Fairy, which is the northern most access where you can put in a boat.

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