Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Back to Where I Started out before Joining Marines

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Back to Where I Started out before Joining Marines

Article excerpt

Byline: KEN PLATO

I suppose it is a sign of the times when someone is asked to write a recurring column on the Middleburg area. When my family moved to Clay County in 1964, Middleburg was just a tiny hamlet. I'm not sure it even had a stoplight.

As I set out to record some of the more interesting aspects of Middleburg, allow me to briefly introduce myself and tell you a little bit about what I hope to accomplish with this column.

My family moved to Orange Park from Norfolk, Va., following my father's retirement from the Navy. My three brothers, my sister and I are products of the Clay County school system - all graduates of Orange Park High. Middleburg students were bused to OPHS back then as Middleburg High School was still a few years away.

Upon graduating from the University of Florida's College of Journalism, I returned to the area to work at The Florida Times-Union as a general assignment news reporter. A year later, I left to join the Marine Corps.

Twenty-eight years later, I retired from the Marine Corps and my wife, Lorie, and I returned to Clay County to settle down and build a long-planned cedar log home.

I spent the first 11 months after my military retirement building the log home with my oldest brother, Bill, in the Ginhouse Landing area of Middleburg. To be honest, Bill was the real knowledge and talent in the building process. I was an extra pair of hands and the checkbook. And when I say, we "built" the log home, I mean we actually built the home. We dug and formed the foundation, poured concrete, stacked the log wall, and did most of everything else required to build a home. It was our full-time jobs.

So, now that the kids are grown and out of the house (mostly), we have settled into our log home and Middleburg.

This may seem like a rather insignificant event for the first subject of my first column, but I found it puzzling several months ago when a contractor for the state Department of Transportation scraped the top layer of sod from the median strips and utility easements between the sidewalk and curbs down Blanding Boulevard through Middleburg. …

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