Rum Island Park In New Tourism Film

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rumisland spring panoramapost In: Rum Island Park In New Tourism Film | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River*

Rum 138 bldgs small 1 In: Rum Island Park In New Tourism Film | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe RiverRum Island Park, as well as OSFR headquarters Rum 138 and Ichetucknee Springs are all mentioned in a new tourism film “How to do Florida,” to be shown locally Aug. 3.

Unfortunately, what we are missing in the newspaper article are pictures of the springs: “We’re here because of the springs,” Schroeder said. “It’s one of the things that we definitely wanted to highlight…”

See the original article here in the Lake City Reporter.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-


Week of Sun., June 9-15, 2019

Section C Columbia, Inc. Your marketplace source for Lake City and Columbia County

‘How to Do Florida’ takes on Columbia County

Soon the entire state will see what makes our area so special.

By TONY BRITT [email protected]

Act NOW!*

Put the Right to Clean Water Amendment on the 2022 ballot


Diving in Ichetucknee Springs State Park Blue Hole, shopping and taking part in a cooking clinic at Fifth Generation Farms as well as touring the downtown area and paddleboarding, snorkeling and kayaking at Rum Island park are all activities local residents can enjoy on a weekly basis.

While residents are familiar with the activities and venues, soon the entire state will have the opportunity to get a glimpse at Columbia County. Several of the activities mentioned above will be featured on an an episode of “How to Do Florida,” a 30-minute television show that showcases different areas, events and activities around the state with show host Chad Crawford.

The television show specializes in showcasing the unexplored areas of Florida. Wednesday and Thursday the film crew, show host and producer traveled around Columbia County filming a variety of activities and scenes from the area. “We’re kind of all over the place, but yeah, it’s two days of production,” said Katie Schroeder, “How to Do Florida” producer. The crew was filming episode 10 for this season.

The show is scheduled to air 1 p.m. Aug. 3 on the Gainesville ABC affiliate and later on the Jacksonville Fox affiliate. No broadcast time was given for airing on the Fox network. Paula Vann, Columbia County Tourist Development Council Executive Director, said Visit Florida representatives introduced her to “How to Do Florida” representatives in September at the Governor’s conference.

“We kept in touch and I told them a little bit about what we do and have here in Columbia County and they were interested in coming here,” she said. “We went through a few different scripts of what would work and what we wanted to highlight, what makes us unique and what people might not know. We’re happy to have them here.” She said the project to film and highlight the county is being funded by the TDC.

“We’re here because of the springs,” Schroeder said. “It’s one of the things that we definitely wanted to highlight and dive down into, pun intended — just to show off all the different experiences you can experience in the springs here.” Wednesday the film crew and Crawford spent most of their day diving with Mark Fowler in Ichetucknee Springs State Park’s Blue Hole, before heading into town for a film session at Fifth Generation Farms where they talked about the store’s history and were scheduled to take part in a cooking clinic.

On Thursday the film crew shot scenes from the downtown area including capturing local icons and landmarks such as the work on the Blanche Renovation Project, Columbia County Courthouse, Halpatter Brewery and Marion Street Tavern, the Welcome to Lake City gates and concluded their day at Rum Island Park.

The film crew was expected to interview Merrillee MalwitzJipson at the Rum 138 restaurant and art gallery and then go kayaking, snorkeling, paddleboarding and explore the Santa Fe River during its visit to Rum Island Park.

“We’re really excited to go downtown to Lake City,” Schroeder said. “We feel there are up and coming things coming about. We know there are a lot of new businesses popping up, so Chad is going to be exploring downtown on Marion Street. With our show, ‘How to Do Florida,’ it’s really important for Chad and all of us to promote getting out and exploring all of these different places.”

*photo by Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson

tourism film1 In: Rum Island Park In New Tourism Film | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River tourism film2 In: Rum Island Park In New Tourism Film | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River tourism film3 In: Rum Island Park In New Tourism Film | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River


  1. I recognize that I will get push back because people think we are profiting from the natural resource. Yes, we own and operate a fun recreational tourism business that promotes loving our springs and rivers. I do welcome people to enjoy what we have all enjoyed from the freshwater systems in the hopes that if they love them nearly as much as I love it, so that the springs will be here for the next generation. The primary thing I do is to educate the public. In fact, you can ask Chad and the production crew about how much I shared with them about pollution, conservation, restoration and protection. If anyone knows me well, they would be as surprised as I was that the Columbia County Tourism Council allowed me to be filmed in this production, as it was their production, not mine.
    Blaming me or OSFR for the construction of a septic tank type of permanent bathroom in the wetlands of Rum Island Park is absurd, especially if you followed any of that debacle for the past 10 years. Just where are the workshops the Columbia County Board of County Commissioners promised the public?
    Humans are coming, it is not because of me and my business. If not me, then someone else without my sincere consciousness would be doing the same thing I am doing on the water. As for food, everyone has to eat, if not us feeding them, then someone else would be doing this work. Our food is served in compostable disposables and we ask our customers to be mindful if they do take trash on the water (from us or somewhere else) to bring it back and dispose properly. I suppose this anonymous person would argue that they would be shocked to know that we sell masks, as we would not want our customers to see the algae under water. Blaming the algae on me is ludicrous. As for tubes, it is not our main source of income, again if not us then someone else would be selling tubes. As for music, we offer music or live performances 1-2 times a week; the lighting is minimal; and then we try hard to keep the noise down and cut off at 11 pm at the absolute latest. We consider our Rum 138 a destination, a community place in Fort White. Fort White is a town in Florida that has 3 public schools yet has little to no entertainment establishments, no theater, very few take out food restaurants, heck, it is a one light town that does not even have a grocery store.
    Right now, I am fighting against a massive highway project, if there was any truth in whatever this fake named person is saying about me, they would think I would want more roads to bring more people. I do not. I need a lot of help to stop that project.
    I do not hide behind fake names. Anyone who wants to gripe about me, my business or anything I do knows where they can find me. Suffice it to say that I am very busy and I will not respond again. Anyone who knows me, knows I am fighting the big fight to stop nutrient loading at the source and to limit consumptive water use permits. Essentially, I am fighting against development.
    I am surprised the fine art work that I support, promote and sell here about the springs and rivers did not get disparaged in the commentary by fake named person. Those sales also keep artists working with incomes.
    You can be with others like me, or against me. Your choice, just as it is my choice to run a business and employ people in the United States, while I still can do so.

  2. Actually, Rummy, OSFR and Rum 138 pushed for updated cleaner portable bathrooms, an idea that was manipulated by the powers that be in Columbia County into a grant/contract opportunity. No one asked for or expected a septic system in the floodplain. I understand your concerns about pollution but grousing won’t help anything – come to one of OSFR’s meetings and engage with others that are interesting in cleaning up the river.

  3. The sad and hidden part about the story is they don’t talk about how polluted the river is, they dont say the only aquatic vegetation that’s left in the river is algae, the whole bottom of the river is covered in algae, and you can smell it, they dont want to tell you how polluted the river is because they will lose money and business, I really dont see how the turtles and fish can live, there is nothing left to eat, I suppose the wildlife have adapted to eating algae, they don’t talk about how Rum 138 is a huge part of the impact by inviting 1000s of strangers just to make money off them renting cheap inner tubes and kayaks, selling fast food along with the disposables that end up in the river, between all those people in the summer months, its no wonder the river is polluted with so many people peeing in the river every day, also the making of loud noise and light pollution on a stage they built, how they sell disposables and tacky inner tubes that end up in the river, they don’t talk about how a Non profit group called Our Santa Fe River and how Rum 138 Pushed to get a toilet House Built 8 and 1/2 feet below the 100-year floodplain and now they changed their minds because they have there name all over it, but it’s too late, no longer when you go to the bathroom you have to call it the John, now you can say, mommy, mommy I have to go to the Merrillee. it’s all hypocrisies and know one wants to hurt our friends feelings, so no one says anything, it’s all about profit over water, nothing else, it’s all hush, hush until someone gets a staff infection from the pollution that is in the Santa Fe River, only then just maybe the truth and totality of this OSFR story with be complete.

    1. I agree and am appalled by how commercialized the river has become recently. This is exploitation not conservation.

    2. In reply to Rummy, I would echo Mike Roth and say we did not ask for a major development at Rum Island. Columbia Co. took it upon themselves to spend their money that way, promised us a workshop to hear our input but never gave it.
      Also as Mike says, quit hiding behind your penname, come and join us and work to help the river. Easy to gripe, harder to work.

      As for Rum 138, it’s true they put people on the river, but those people also get maps, advice and a short but good education about the problems of our springs, rivers and aquifer, and the need for concern about our water fragility. They may come Rum 138 for a kayak, but they leave with new information and knowledge of the river and its needs. And an appreciation of our Springs Heartland.

      As for Merrillee, if you were to do a fraction of her environmental work, you might have a credible gripe. What have you done? Tell me something solid and we will go from there. Otherwise, do this: follow her around one week and she what she does, the meetings she attends, the consultation she give government agencies and environmental groups, the emails and phone calls. Also note the hours she puts in. Write that down, then write back here and tell us. Then tell us what you have done for the Santa Fe River.
      Jim Tatum, OSFR historian

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