The Good Life

by Ruth Ward Small Town Living… WILLISTON, a quaint bedroom community of Gainesville and Ocala is a hidden gem located just 25-minutes southwest of e University of Florida and 45-minutes to the More »

Current Issue

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Getting to Know the Doctors

Spotlight: Christopher Balamucki, MD The doctors at the Cancer Center of North Florida take the time to get to know you. Here’s your opportunity to get to know more about the doctor More »

Harmless? Thank Again.

by Jill Pease Electronic cigarette use is rising among adolescents, say University of Florida researchers, who found that 12 percent of Florida high school students reported trying e-cigarettes, up from 8 percent More »

In Gear

by Trish Utter The sound of an engine roar can stir up passion for any car enthusiast. People take pride in their cherished automobiles and what you drive can say a lot More »

A Missie with a Gun

by Trish Utter How does a beautiful girl who wears feminine clothes and looks every part a model end up in camo with a rifle? Missie Schneider sat there and watched a More »


Current Issue

Click Here to see the Current Issue Online!



The Good Life

by Ruth Ward

Small Town Living…

farm1WILLISTON, a quaint bedroom community of Gainesville and Ocala is a hidden gem located just 25-minutes southwest of e University of Florida and 45-minutes to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s like stepping back in time with a slower pace and a friendly lifestyle yet so close to the chaos of big city life. ere are quaint new homes in Williston and still miles and miles of unspoiled rural areas for the farmer in you, whether that is hundreds of acres of cattle or peanuts or a small mini farm of 5-acres with a few chickens and a garden.

farm2Small Town Life. If you love driving past fields of wild flowers, horses and farmland but don’t have time for farm animals or crops and want a country lifestyle you can have the best of both worlds in Williston. Landon Oaks is a new mini subdivision that oers beautiful brand new homes on ¼ to ½ acre lots with all the comforts of new construction and technology. It is located in the heart of downtown Williston on a quiet tree-lined cul-de-sac with rocking chairs on the front porches. Within walking distance to churches and schools including the new state-of-the art middle & high school which has already broken ground just 1.5 miles away. e homes start at just $139,900 and qualify for USDA financing.

Farm Living…

farm3Farm Life. If the serenity of living in wide open spaces is appealing, Williston is where you will find it. ere are hundreds of acres available to the avid farmer looking for crop land or a cattle rancher looking for pasture. If you’re thinking more of a “farming lifestyle” there is not a better place. ere’s plenty of 5-acre mini farms set-up, all you have to do is bring the animals, and sometimes they even come with the farm.

farm4Marilyn Deas & Rhonda Sweat have 30-years of experience helping people nd the perfect home. They average selling over thirty homes a year. Marilyn & Rhonda are a Real Estate Power Team that can assist you in finding a place to live the Good Life whether right in town or on one of the many country roads. Marilyn and Rhonda take their time to understand what their clients are looking for and spend hours doing research to match the perfect home to their client’s needs. Not only do these women have a vast knowledge of Real Estate but they also have firsthand knowledge of rural life. Marilyn and Rhonda both come from multi-generational agricultural backgrounds and live on Ranches today. Their understanding of country life is valuable to those in search of tranquil country living. As Real Estate Developers they can also assist you in building a brand new home of your dreams!


Saving a Billion Bees

by Michaela Steakley

beesChappie McChesney refers to himself as a lifelong beekeeper. “I’ve always been fascinated by bees,” McChesney said. “I know how important they are to our food crop.” Though McChesney has been working with bees for most of his life, he is not immune to the stings. He estimates that he gets stung between 20 to 30 times a day. “It never ends,” McChesney said. McChesney does not wear protective clothing when he works with the bees, but if he gets more than 5-10 stings in a day, he wears a veil to protect his face. He tries to avoid wearing gloves, which prevent him from feeling the bees.

McChesney is the founder of beekeepers clubs in North Central Florida, and he has mentored hundreds of new beekeepers. He is also the Florida State Representative for National Honey Bee Day.

ough beekeeping takes up a large portion of his time, McChesney is also a minister.

It has been rumored that the bee population is dying but McChesney said it is mostly sensationalism. “e only ones losing bees are commercial beekeepers,” McChesney said. Colony collapse disorder, a syndrome that occurs when bees from a bee colony disappear abruptly, only happens when there are too many chemicals involved. Commercial beekeepers often use chemicals to get rid of parasites and to prevent the other diseases that can plague the bee colony, but those chemicals help to kill or weaken the bees the same way they kill the bad bugs.

“Commercial beekeepers are necessary to pollinate, but they could do better,” said McChesney, who teaches chemical-free beekeeping. As he sat in an apiary on his property, just yards from his house, McChesney stressed the importance of being educated about bees.

McChesney teaches the public about bees locally, but he has also traveled across the country to share his knowledge. Every year the American Beekeeping Federation holds the North American Beekeeping Conference and Tradeshow around the country. Next year, the conference will be held in Jacksonville, so he hopes that people in North Central Florida will go to the conference and learn something new. “It’s all about public education,” he said. McChesney also wants people to stop killing bees. Swarms of bees, which form when bees are repopulating, are common in the spring.

bees2McChesney gets calls from firemen, police and home owners about swarms of bees. “Anytime bees are swarming somewhere, people panic,” said McChesney. He encourages the public to call him when they see swarms or when there are bees around a person’s home, rather than calling an exterminator. He just removed a swarm of bees from Hidden Oak Elementary School. At the end of the day, McChesney’s favorite thing about being a beekeeper is the bees themselves. “It’s a super-organism,” McChesney said. “They work for the good of the whole and we can learn a lot from that.”

At 69 years old, McChesney will not be able to work with bees much longer, but he hopes that the beekeepers he has trained will continue the chemical-free practices he has taught them and continue to teach younger generations.

“I’ve never saved a human being as a minister, but I’ve saved billions of honey bees,” McChesney said. While most people probably will not see that many bees in a lifetime, it is important for everyone to be educated in order to learn the best practices for dealing with and saving bees.


Getting to Know the Doctors

Spotlight: Christopher Balamucki, MD

The doctors at the Cancer Center of North Florida take the time to get to know you. Here’s your opportunity to get to know more about the doctor behind the white coat in this issue with featured physician Dr. Chris Balamucki.

doc1Q: What made you want to become a doctor and choose this field in medicine?

A: Since nearly everyone in my family has an engineering degree, there was clearly a strong family influence on my initial career path, which led me to graduating with a chemical engineering degree from Virginia Tech. Near the end of my college experience, I found myself reflecting on my own aspirations in life, and I realized that I wanted to work more with people. This initiated my desire for a career change and drove me in the direction of becoming a physician at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

I discovered my passion for Radiation Oncology during a medical school research project after my 1st year as a medical student. In the end, I fell in love with the specialty and knew that it was the perfect match for my personality. Specifically, I love helping patients who are looking for hope as they navigate through a cancer diagnosis. I also really enjoy the complexity of the clinical reasoning process and evidence- based medicine practiced in Radiation Oncology in addition to the utilization of cutting-edge technology.

Q: Has cancer affected you personally?

A: My mother underwent treatment for DCIS of the breast. It was a difficult time both for her and our entire family, but I am happy to say that she is currently cancer free and doing well.

Q: How do you keep up with new technology and medical breakthroughs in your field?

A: Radiation oncology is a very dynamic specialty in which treatment decisions are shaped by evidencebased medicine, and the technology is always evolving. I keep up-to-date with the field through my daily interactions with colleagues, weekly multidisciplinary tumor board conferences, reading journal articles, and attending national meetings.

doc2Q: Where did you grow up?

A: Marlborough, CT, which is a small town.

Q: Do you have kids and pets?

A: I have two children, Lucas (7 years old) and Zachary (20 months old), who are both amazing in every way. My lovely wife’s name is Jeanne. We also have two cats, Stella and Mickey.

Q: What is your hobby, where do you do it, how long have you been doing it etc.?

A: I play competitive tennis in the local USTA tennis leagues in addition to playing the occasional round of golf with friends. I started playing both of these sports in my youth and still really enjoy the challenge. I also love to ski and try to plan at least one ski trip out West every winter. For expert terrain (steep trees, chutes, and bowls), my favorite mountains include Jackson Hole, Alta, and Snowbird.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do in our local area?

A: I really enjoy spending quality time with my family. Whether we are cheering on my son, Lucas, at his GSA soccer academy games, hanging out at the park, or swimming in the pool on a hot summer day, life is perfect when I am with my family.

Q: 8-Do you have a favorite healthy meal?

A: I have always loved Italian cuisine, but I like so many different types of food that it is difficult to pick a true favorite.

Q: What do you do for exercise?

A: I really enjoy working out when I have the time; however, free time is rather limited these days! On that note, I try to be efficient with my work-outs, utilizing home work-out regimens, such as Focus T-25, P90x, and P90x3, in addition to dumbbell workouts with my Bowflex system.

Q: How do you get rid of stress?

A: My outlet for stress is typically on the tennis court during my weekly matches.

Q: What do you listen to in your car on the way to work?

A: I enjoy a wide variety of music, but my favorite bands include Nickelback, Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy, and Evanescence.

Q: What is your favorite gadget?

A: It would be very difficult for me to function for an extended period of time, both in my professional and personal life, without my iPhone. I have accumulated many contacts, pictures, videos, and music over the years, passed on from phone to phone. This data basically represents a snapshot of my life. I am guessing that going “dark” without a phone is possible for a day or two but probably not long term. My favorite app on my iPhone is “Nike Running” since it can accurately track my distance and pace with GPS, in addition to logging runs in order to track my performance. My other favorites include Pandora (music wherever I go), GolfLogix (provides yardage information on the golf course and tracks golf statistics), and Yelp (helpful in finding restaurants).

Q: What are some of your favorite TV shows?

A: My favorite TV shows include Marry Me, Scorpion, and 24 (with Jack Bauer).

Q: Where do you go for a weekend break?

A: Family beach trip to St. Augustine Beach!!!


Devils and Divers

by Katherine Odom-Tomchin

devilsShafts of sunlight filter through the opening of the cavern below, laminating the crystal clear water. The Devil’s Den is a natural cavern that dates back thousands of years. It was a skinny dipping hole before it became a diving site. Excitingly, it was the destination for me and my three friends.

Devil’s Den, is located in Williston and is about thirty minutes from Gainesville. Public Relations manager, Prince Johnston greeted us and talked about the prehistoric cavern and the Pleistocene Age (2,000,000-10,000 years ago!) bones of a saber tooth cat and the find of a skeleton of a man dating back to 7,500 B.C.

We each decked ourselves with a snorkel, flippers, and goggles that were rented from the dive shop. As you enter it is dark and a bit eerie and then you see the beauty that is underneath the ground, lit by a hole in the ceiling, and everything is glorious again. The water is 72 degrees year round. My friends and I submerged ourselves and discovered a new underwater world. What took me by surprise the most were the fish and the bubbles. You wouldn’t think that fish would be in a cave but they are. The cave is fed from the aquifer for 80 to 100 feet before circulating back down and moving on. As for the bubbles, there was nothing as fun as letting them wash over you and tickle your skin. My friends looked part mermaid in the mystical setting. We all had great fun, in and out of the cavern, and made all of our friends jealous with stunning pictures of us inside the cave.


Harmless? Thank Again.

by Jill Pease

e-cigsElectronic cigarette use is rising among adolescents, say University of Florida researchers, who found that 12 percent of Florida high school students reported trying e-cigarettes, up from 8 percent the previous year.

e research team also found that teens that used e-cigarettes were more likely to use other tobacco products, including traditional cigarettes and hookah. The findings are troubling because they indicate that e-cigarettes may be serving as an introduction to smoking for a group who may have never started, said lead investigator Tracey Barnett, Ph.D., an assistant professor of behavioral science and community health in the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions, part of UF Health.

“We had been making good strides in preventing tobacco use in adolescents,” said Barnett. “e concern is we don’t want a whole new generation of users.”

The study findings were recently published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

While other studies have shown a connection between e-cigarette and cigarette use in young people, the UF study, which was conducted in collaboration with the Florida Department of Health, is the rst to show that e-cigarette smoking is strongly associated with hookah use.

“is is important because both e-cigarettes and hookah are appealing to adolescents and have fewer policy restrictions in place regarding avors and public smoking, which could lead to re-normalizing smoking for youth,” Barnett said.

Some experts see the potential for e-cigarettes, which produce a nicotine vapor that users inhale, as a smoking cessation device for long-term smokers. But it is unlikely that teens would be using them for that purpose, Barnett said.

“Even if scientific findings eventually show that e-cigarettes help the majority of adults who use them to quit smoking, which still has not been found, this wouldn’t be the reason for the uptick in use of e-cigarettes by youth,” she said.

e UF study findings are based on data from the 2013 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, an anonymous, annual survey administered by the Florida Department of Health to a random sample of public middle and high schools. e 2013 survey was completed by 12,600 students.

In addition to e-cigarettes, the survey asked about use of other tobacco products. More than one-fourth of high school students (grades 9 through 12) said they had tried traditional cigarettes and 35 percent of those respondents also reported e-cigarette use. Among high school respondents, 17 percent said they had tried hookah. Of hookah users, 43 percent had also used e-cigarettes.

A 2014 Florida state law bans the sale of nicotine dispensing devices, including e-cigarettes, to minors. UF researchers will continue to monitor rates of adolescent e-cigarette smoking to assess the law’s effect on e-cigarette use.

Hookah and e-cigarettes are available in a variety of avors, some of which may be particularly attractive to adolescents, such as watermelon, bubble gum and gummy bear, Barnett said. e Food and Drug Administration does not yet regulate flavorings for tobacco products other than traditional cigarettes. e UF scientists say future research and regulation should consider the role flavorings play in youth tobacco use.

“e rates of e-cigarette use in Florida youth are going up fast,” Barnett said. “E-cigarettes are becoming popular even faster than hookah did.”


Do You Know What You’re Really Saying?

By Katherine Odom-Tomchin

phoneNearly everybody knows what TTYL and LOL mean (though if you think LOL means “lots of love”, then you are definitely a few steps behind most of us). But when it comes to acronyms such as IMO (in my opinion) and POS (parents over shoulder), how many of us can actually identify their denotations without doing a google search? And, in the case of these little known acronyms, how useful is it to put them into use if the people we are trying to contact have no idea what we are talking about?

You might be saying to yourself, of course I don’t know the meaning behind such obscure acronyms—I passed the age of 20 quite a few birthdays ago! But let me tell you, many of us young people are just as in the dark as you are! I once thought the acronym SMH (shaking my head) meant “So Many Haters” because many people used it in the context of complaining about negativity while on twitter. e question is, how well do you know your acronyms?

Compiled below is a list of abbreviations I found while just scrolling down my twitter feed, excluding some of the hashtags (and, again, if you don’t know what a “hashtag” is, then it might be best for you to use it in the context of its original significance, being that it denoted distinct meanings in information technology). See if you can tell the true meanings apart from the meanings made up by yours truly.


Brighten Your Day with a Delicious Cake

by Trish Utter

cake1_01No bakery is complete without its cakes. Although Hitchcock’s has a few on display, they offer many more. They have design books to look through for ideas or bring any photo of your cake idea in and they can create a one of a kind cake just for you at a surprisingly low cost.

Hitchcock’s talented cake designers can make beautiful wedding cakes. From modern, trendy square cakes to traditional styled designs. Just schedule an appointment to bring your unique cake idea to fruition.

The bakery carries such a tasty variety of other items. French bread and Cuban bread are baked fresh along with a wide selection of donuts. Double Deck Brownie Sundaes are really popular in the bakery department as they look spectacular.

cake2_05Hitchcock’s Deli department carries Kretschmar meats and has a large case of homemade entrees ready to go. It’s no secret that locals will be seen standing in line for the chicken pot pie, stew, meatloaf, barbequed, roasted or fried chicken and catfish. For just $4.99 you can pick up a home cooked meal that includes vegetables and desert! They also do a great breakfast with eggs, bacon, biscuits, ham, grits and more.

Hitchcock’s understands that customers have become far more health conscious, and now uses less salt in their deli foods. The deli offers baked chicken and all the meats are low sodium.


In Gear

by Trish Utter

gear1_03The sound of an engine roar can stir up passion for any car enthusiast. People take pride in their cherished automobiles and what you drive can say a lot about your personality, it can also bring back fond memories of days gone by. Many locals have found others that share their automotive obsession by joining Gainesville Street Rods. is eclectic group started over 30 years ago and now has 60 members. Some members have bought antique vehicles and painstakingly have brought them back to showroom condition or modied them into beautiful Street Rods. Young members enjoy showing their first car and talk about all the things they want to do to improve performance. 

gear2_11The club is open to all types of cars from Hot Rods to Ricers and Exotic, and some even bring their motorbikes. Gainesville Street Rods meet every 2nd Saturday of the month from 6-9pm for their Cruise In. They have a live DJ and have a 50/50 drawing. is is a terric way to spend a beautiful Spring afternoon. You will find people walking around this group taking photos and chatting about the car they used to have or a vehicle they want to have or modify.

gear3_13Cruise In meets in front of Publix by I-75 and 39th Avenue in Gainesville, registration for this is $3 per car. Annual membership is $20 per person or $30 for a family.

All money raised by Gainesville Street Rods is donated to STOP Children’s Cancer. Photos taken at the club’s 33rd Annual Cruise In, held at Santa Fe College to benet STOP Children’s Cancer.


A Missie with a Gun

by Trish Utter

missieHow does a beautiful girl who wears feminine clothes and looks every part a model end up in camo with a rifle?

Missie Schneider sat there and watched a college boyfriend load his gun while they sat in the stillness of the beautiful woods for hours on end before she finally decided to pick up a gun herself but it wasn’t until she got her own bow that she got the hunting bug.

Schneider joined NWTF (National Wild Turkey Federation) and in 2011 she was asked to start up a local chapter (The Gator Gobblers) and soon became President. Lee Crews, who is a retired FWC officer, suggested that Schneider invite some girlfriends to help give it a go. He said “Girls are way more organized then us guys are, plus you love the outdoors”. Of course, she had to agree with him! “I rounded up a bunch of my girlfriends, some of them hunted and the others just enjoyed the outdoors…we even invited their husbands and guy friends to join, and we started planning our first Hunting Heritage banquet.”

Q: How old were you when you started shooting?

A: I didn’t start hunting or shooting until I was in college. Being raised in the city, no one in my family hunts or even owns a gun. They scratch their heads, wondering how I turned out this way.

Q: Do you get teased for being in a so-called man’s sport?

A: I can’t say I get teased much. More times than not, people are shocked when I tell them I love to hunt. They always say, “you don’t look like a hunter.”

Q: Are there many other women in this?

missie2A: The Gator Gobblers are well-known for all of our outreach hunts and events, to try and get more women, kids and disabled involved in the outdoors. I understand that there are not very many women who are interested in hunting, however, there are quite a few who enjoy shooting guns, or want to become more comfortable shooting a gun. We host events such as, Girls and Guns Night and Ladies Shotgun Clinic which caters to both the hunters & non-hunters. For the gals that do want to participate in our hunts, the Gator Gobblers host four outreach hunts a year, located on various Alachua county forever properties. In most cases, I try to pair the lady hunters up with one of our female guides, in order to help them feel more comfortable and to show them women can do this sport too. We always promote safe and ethical hunting…teaching the new hunters about gun safety, hunter safety, conservation and wildlife management.

Q: What advice would you give a woman that wants to start?

A: If they just want to get into shooting, Harry Beckwith gun range is the place to start. They host numerous women’s classes and groups there. If they want to get into hunting I would suggest they take FWC’s Hunter safety class then, contact us, to find out what women’s events we have coming up.

Q: How can people find out about joining?

A: Between the Banquet, hunts and other various events that the Gator Gobblers put on each year, we were named the 2014 “Chapter of the year”. Achieving that title would not have been possible, without having a fantastic team of committee members. There are several different ways that you can get involved with the Gator Gobblers. Whether you just want to become a member of the NWTF and attend our events, to becoming a committee member and helping put on these events.