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The Calhoun-Liberty Journal
Bristol, Florida
March 9, 2016     The Calhoun-Liberty Journal
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March 9, 2016

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8mall Town Newspapem Paul Jeffko 217 W Cota Street Shelton WA 96584-2263 _ _ . .._,~JL*.JL.,JL~..II II 332 0includes tax "1 II | | WEDNESDAY March 9, 2016 VOL. 36 NO. 10 by Teresa Eubanks, Journal Editor The pop of a champagne cork may set the mood for a romantic Valentine's Day date, but it's the hiss of something deadly swimming through waters of the Everglades that provides the soundtrack to a couples night out for Tom and Melanie Aycock. "Like other couples, we go out on dates on hol- idays...we just head to the swamps," Tom says. This past Feb. 14, they set off to search for the invasive creatures that are filling the Everglades and chowing down on the native wildlife. They are python hunters. Their Feb. 14 excur- sion into the swamp was extra special because it was the final day of this year's 2016 Python Chal- lenge. Tom became interested in the effort to remove live pythons after meeting a crew of snake-snatch- ers known as the Swamp Apes. Now, he does the python wrasslin' and Melanie photographs his ad- ventures, filling the quiet moments by capturing images of the landscape and the animals that share the Everglades. Their willingness to find, grab and turn over the live pythons is helping to restore the natural bal- ance of creatures in the Everglades. Tom's python pursuit began after he crossed paths with Swamp Apes founder Tom Rahill dur- ing a volunteer trail clearing in May 2014. The Swamp Apes led veterans on wilderness experi- ences to help them reconnect with their lives af- ter their service time. With the motto "Endure, See PYTHONING continued inside on page 10 .: The Aycocks call Blountstown home but spend most of their time in South Florida, where Tom serves as the operations sergeant major with the 50th Re- gional Support Group, one of the five major subordi- nate commands (MSC) in the Florida Army National Guard. Melanie handles training and administrative tasks for the commanders, command teams, and fam- ily readiness volunteers of the MSC's 21 subordinate units, which are spread around the state from Home- stead to Pensacola. When he's not on the job, Tom volunteers to show visitors around the historic Nike Hercules Missile Site, which was built during the Cold War in the mid-1960s as a defense during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Many of our readers know Melanie from her time in the Calhoun County Courthouse where she worked as Assistant Supervisor of Elections. During that time, Tom worked with the Florida Army National Guard in Tallahassee, Marianna and Jacksonville before being deployed to Iraq. They are parents of two sons, T.J. Aycock, 27, of Blountstown and Austin Aycock, 23, of Tallahassee. by Teresa Eubanks, Journal Editor Family members are offering a cash re- ward for information leading to the arrest of the driver who left a Bristol man lying in the middle of SR 20 after hitting his motorcycle Friday. Christopher Hansford, 22, was heading to work around 6:45 a.m., just east of Bristol when he passed a green car that he said was traveling around 45 mph in a 60 mph zone. After he got in front of the eastbound car, he spotted a log truck pulling onto SR 20 in the distance. Hansford told FHP Trooper Craig Gaines that as he began slowing down, his 2013 Harley Davidson Heri- tage Softail Clas- Christopher Hansford sic was struck from behind. "He said he tried to hold on to the bike," according to the trooper. "It fell to the right and started sliding down the road." The crash happened about 400 feet east of White Springs. The motorcycle traveled about 300 feet from where Hansford was ejected, leaving him injured on the pave- ment. He narrowly missed being run over mo- ments later. "It took everything I had to swerve and miss him," said Melisa Nobles, who drove up on Hansford. "It was still pitch black," she said. He was wearing dark clothing and a black helmet, she said. She had just left her house in Bristol to head to work in Tallahassee when she spot- ted what she thought was a piece of a tire on the road. "As I got closer, I realized it was some- thing bigger," she said. As she pulled offthe left side of the road to go around the obstruc- tion, she it was a PrerSon, and then almost hit his motorcycle. "I did an immediate U-turn in some- body's yard and went back to him," she said. She turned her flashers on, called 911 and got out to check on him. "I grabbed his hand, told him to calm down. He was very coherent," she said. When she asked how he was, he replied, "Everything hurts." Nobles said she saw taillights in the dis- tance but could not identify the vehicle. A second driver stopped and put a blanket on the injured man as they waited for help to arrive. Another driver pulled up, activated his blinkers and parked his truck in the road to block traffic. Hansford was transported by ambulance to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital with a badly injured foot and road rash on his legs. He has already undergone one surgery and he and his wife, Karen, are waiting to hear from doctors about his options for fur- ther treatment. He was scheduled for anoth- er surgery on Tuesday to amputate the big toe on his right foot. Hansford works with the Department of Education in Tallabassee as a property con- sultant. Anyone with information about the hit and run driver is urged to contact the Florida Highway Patrol or the Liberty County Sher- iff's Office. Worrell joins school board race; Wise to seek Commission job One new candidate comes forward in both Liberty County and Cal- houn County while another decides to withdraw. Derek Creamer notified The Journal Monday that he has dropped out of the Altha Mayor's race. Danny Ray Wise of Blountstown has made it official that he is seeking the District 1 seat on the Calhoun County Board of County Commissioners. In Liberty County, Chris Worrell, 49, of Bristol has added his name to the list of candidates for the District 1 School Board seat. For the complete list so far, see page 2. See page 14 for details on L Sheriff's Log ............. 2 Church theft .............. 2 Events and Community Calendar. .............. 4 & 5 Sen. Montford on wastewater grant ................. 6 [7 Illl!!U!!ll!!!!!! 1118 ] Rep. Graham reads to Hosford students ........... 7 Garden with straw bales .... 9 CLH Stickers ..... 10 Obituaries ..... 13 Job Mkt ..... 15 Banquet ...... 16