First Year Reflections

Trinity Catholic celebrates their win over Westminster in the FHSAA State Volleyball Championship game on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, at Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers.

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Posted July 2, 2021 |

Trinity Catholic celebrates its win over Westminster in the FHSAA State Volleyball Championship game on Nov. 14, 2020.

As a weekly newspaper, the Ocala Gazette marks its first year of publication this week.

With 52 editions under our belts, we begin a new year of fair and honest coverage of the people, issues and events that shape our community.

Over the last year, we have celebrated our triumphs, mourned our losses and kept a vigilant watch over the people and issues that affect our community.

We take a moment to reflect on our coverage this past year.

Jordan Preston speaks in favor of an emergency face mask ordinance during the Ocala City Council meeting in July 2020. [Bruce Ackerman/OG]

The Gazette started during the biggest public health crisis in a century. When we published our first edition, the COVID-19 pandemic had been roiling for four months. It had already changed the way many of us lived and worked.  

We wrote more than 150 stories on the pandemic. We marked the breakthroughs and successes but also tracked the deaths and struggles that touched so many.

Crystal Keele, a registered nurse, gives a COVID-19 vaccine to a resident in this  Jan. 5 file photo. [Bruce Ackerman/OG]

We documented the efforts to vaccinate tens of thousands and the logistics needed to keep the effort going. The Gazette provided extensive coverage when the court system ground to a halt. We were there the first day when jury trials resumed.

As the country is poised to return to a sense of normalcy, we will continue to report on the lasting effects of such a transformative time.  

The Gazette sent reporters to more than 100 sporting events covering local high school and college sports. We were there when Trinity Catholic won the state volleyball title and followed the Forest High boys’ basketball team and North Marion baseball team flirted with state titles as well.

Forest’s Elijah Russell celebrates rhw Wildcats’ win in the FHSAA Class 6A-District 1 regional championship on Feb. 26, 2021. [Bruce Ackerman/OG]

We captured the action through hundreds of photos across all sports and got personal looks at some of the coaches and athletes that shined.

Our reporters covered city and county politics closely, offering in-depth reporting on some of the more controversial stories.

After a court ruled the Ocala fire service fee was unconstitutional, the city was faced with having to refund more than $81 million to residents. We explored who could be stuck paying the bill and how the city wound up in the situation.

We studied how more than $64 million in federal CARES relief was used by the county and how the cities felt left out. We scoured the county’s financial records to let you know how they spent it and where they missed opportunities to help.

A homeless man lies on the ground in the rain in August. [Bruce Ackerman/OG]

Our extensive coverage of the homeless situation in Ocala put a spotlight on the struggle to handle the situation. We spoke to the homeless and heard their stories. We also heard from those whose businesses were impacted by the issue.

We reported on the federal court’s rebuke of the city’s ordinance allowing police to arrest the homeless for sleeping in public. We continue to follow the pending lawsuit against the city’s panhandling ordinance.

In short, we covered Ocala, warts and all.

As we move into a new year, we rededicate our pledge to inform and uplift our readers by reporting on the events, issues and stories that shape Ocala with accuracy, fairness and passion. We will also continue to strive to serve as a forum where all voices can be heard and to chronicle our community’s history.

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