Mainstreet’s top feature stories of 2022 

2022 Top feature stories collage
Mainstreet staff selected our top 2022 feature stories of the year that include (clockwise top right) behind the scenes at LifeSouth, Dennis and Joan Blay raising money for hospice care, the ownership transition at Picture This! Frameshop and Gallery and Jenny Baxley Lee becoming the new director of UF Shands Hospital's Arts in Medicine program.

With 2022 winding down, the Mainstreet Daily News staff selected what we consider the top feature stories of the year.  

Professional horse trainer Cat Zimmerman had 100 days to tame Tuff, a Bureau of Land Management rescue, for the Extreme Mustang Makeover competition in Ocala in April.
Photo by Suzette Cook Professional horse trainer Cat Zimmerman had 100 days to tame Tuff, a Bureau of Land Management rescue, for the Extreme Mustang Makeover competition in Ocala in April.

There are an abundance of interesting events and people that bring life to the community and can easily be overlooked by the daily news cycle. Plus, our audience is growing. So whether you are re-reading these stories or reading them for the first time, we think they are worth your time here at the end of the year.  

One of our goals at Mainstreet is to take readers to places they may not have been and to introduce them to people they may not have met. We hope the following stories accomplish that goal.  

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Mustang makeover: 100 days and counting 

Tuff, a 4-year-old gelding who once roamed the hills of Nevada, is in a new home in Archer under the care of a professional horse trainer, Cat Zimmerman. Zimmerman worked with Tuff through a 100-day Extreme Mustang Makeover (EMM) to help build his confidence and prepare him for the makeover competition.  

Couple raises nearly $50K for hospice care 

A passion for finding unusual items at the charity resale shops and selling them came after Dennis Blay found an antique watch in the Haven’s Attic Resale Store. Seven years later, Dennis and Joan have sold hundreds of items, raising nearly $50,000 for those who cannot afford hospice care.  

Faith Spotlight: Pastor pushes for racial unity  

Julio Diaz instructs at fencing class
Photo by Seth Johnson Julio Diaz instructs at fencing camp.

The Rev. Alex Farmer’s persistent pursuit of unity gained momentum on the heels of the 2015 mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in South Carolina.  

Fencers cross foils at local training camp 

Referees have started enforcing attacks in preparation for fencing competitions. Julio Diaz explains the technical rule and demonstrates the different attack options with a foil to 24 fencing attendees. 

Aging Matters: Active aging extends vibrancy for seniors 

Gainesville provides ample opportunities for senior activities as more people embrace active aging. From bocce ball to excursions and continuing education, retirees are doing more for longer.  

Nesty builds swimming juggernaut at UF 

The American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) named UF’s Anthony Nesty the George Haines Coach of the Year. Nesty has turned Gainesville into a destination for the nation’s top swimmers.  

UF swimming coach Anthony Nesty at pool
Photo by Courtney Culbreath/UAA Anthony Nesty, UF’s men’s and women’s swimming coach, was named the Haines Coach of the Year by the American Swimming Coaches Association. (Photo by Courtney Culbreath/UAA)

UF grad spurs empowerment, confidence in girls 

Shareen Baptiste wants to see junior high and high school girls dream beyond the four walls of their classroom or bedroom. Through the non-profit Dream on Purpose, Baptiste and others Gainesville teens find the confidence to dream.  

New director paints picture of arts in medicine  

Lakeland, Florida, native Jenny Baxley Lee became the new director of Shands Hospital’s Arts in Medicine (AIM) program this past spring. She brought a wealth of knowledge and a passion for the arts.  

Framing shop transitions to new management  

Lindsay Woodward Meade took over as the owner of Picture This! Frameshop and Gallery on June 1. The transition occurred after Picture This! Founder Karen Kearney decided she is ready to start retirement and travel. 

Blood donations entails more than needles 

LifeSouth Community Blood Centers provides the majority of blood to area hospitals like UF Health Shands or HCA Florida North Florida Hospital. Reporter Seth Johnson explores the process of blood donation, including the required steps, checks and pieces of specialized equipment. 

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