April 14 , 2006 edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government

This Issues Features:

Maddie's Pet Rescue Project of Alachua County

Taking Government to the People

Alachua County Affordable Housing Forum

CHOICES offers Open Enrollments

Community Workshop for Rutledge Area

Students Honored for Home Fire Preparedness

2006 National Tourism Week

Impact Fee Assistance

Outstanding Waterway Project

Urban Search and Rescue Training

Splash into Science Night at Duval Elementary

Rock -A-Thon 2006

Commission Meeting Highlights

Get Involved - Alachua County Advisory Boards





Maddie’s Pet Rescue Project of Alachua County Deemed Outstanding

“No More Homeless Pets in Alachua County, the Maddie’s Fund Project, is a very ambitious and worthy project.
It is a project that has done more to help the Alachua County Animal Shelter find homes for abandoned and unwanted animals than any other project in the history of Alachua County Animal Services.

The challenges faced in meeting the adoption objectives of the No More Homeless Pets in Alachua County Project become increasingly difficult as the Project progresses over the years. It was relatively easy to meet the adoption goals in the early years of the project. As more animals must be adopted each year, the task becomes harder.

We have been very fortunate to have five outstanding Animal Welfare Organizations working directly with Alachua County Animal Services to take animals from the shelter and place them for adoption in the community. Our partners, Alachua County Humane Society, Gainesville Pet Rescue, Puppy Hill Farm, Helping Hands Pet Rescue, and Haile’s Angels Pet Rescue, have helped immensly,” said Ray Sim, Alachua County Animal Services Director.

Total Progress after three years:

• 11,363 adoptions
• 364 spay/neuter surgeries
• 7,529 fewer shelter deaths

“We are very proud of what Maddie’s Pet Rescue Project in Alachua County has accomplished so far. The Project is way ahead of its lifesaving goals in reducing shelter deaths. Thanks to the outstanding work of the entire coalition, only 35 healthy cats and dogs died in Alachua County shelters in 2005.” --- Rich Avanzino, Maddie’s Fund President

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Taking Government to the People

The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners is taking government to the people. The Commission is holding a series of open meetings in municipalities throughout the County. Upcoming meetings include:
• Joint Annual Alachua County/Town of LaCrosse Meeting - June 11, 2006 at 7 p.m., in LaCrosse
• Joint Alachua County/City of Waldo Special Meeting in Waldo - June 13, 2006 at 7 p.m., in Waldo

For more information, please call (352) 264-6900.

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Alachua County Affordable Housing Forum

To address the growing need for affordable housing in the Gainesville/Alachua County metropolitan area, the Alachua County Affordable Housing Coalition will host its first Affordable Housing Forum to discuss “The State of Affordable Housing.” This forum will bring together the major stakeholders from both the public and private sectors to one table to discuss issues and brainstorm solutions for Alachua County. The Alachua County Growth Management Department is a member of the Coalition.

This forum will be held Wednesday, May 17, 2006 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Eastside Community Center, 2841 E University Ave., Gainesville. The forum will include a keynote address from a representative of the Florida Housing Coalition, as well as a panel discussion including Edwin Dix of EDix Investments, Inc., Jack Kolberg of SunTrust Bank, Marilyn Mason of Vantage Mortgage, Ishmael Rentz of SL Construction, Inc., Leslie Suskin from the Gainesville Alachua Association of Realtors, and Dr. Bob Stroh, Director of the Shimberg Center for Affordable Housing at the University of Florida.

For more information and to confirm your attendance, please contact Teresa Osoba, President of the Alachua County Affordable Housing Coalition at osobatd@ci.gainesville.fl.us or (352) 334-5026.

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New CHOICES for workers with ‘unaffordable’ health insurance


Open Enrollment

Mondays 7 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

Tuesdays 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Wednesdays 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Thursdays 3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

All open enrollment sessions are held at the Dept. of Community Support Services/Health Department Building, 218 SE 24th St, Gainesville.

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Community Workshop for Rutledge Area

There will be a community meeting for the Rutledge area on Monday, May 1, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the First Church of the Nazarene, 5020 NW 23rd Ave. The boundaries of the area are NW 39th Avenue to the north, NW 23rd Avenue to the south, NW 43rd Street to the east, and NW 83rd Street to the west. The County Commission recently approved this Rutledge area as the pilot for the new Community and Neighborhood Planning Program.

At this meeting community participants will be asked to identify needs and areas of concern, and information will be provided about the County’s new Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Regulations. Based on this information, the next step will be to develop strategies and actions to address identified needs and concerns.

Senior Planner Kathleen Pagan notes, “Alachua County strives for open communication with citizens and sharing of ideas in the decision-making process. This Community and Neighborhood Planning process will include partnerships with public and private organizations, neighborhoods and employees of Alachua County.”

The Comprehensive Plan requires the establishment of the Community and Neighborhood Planning program to prepare geographically focused action plans throughout the unincorporated area of the County. The plans are intended to address the specific needs and circumstances of a particular area in a manner consistent with the goals of the Comprehensive Plan. Each plan will include provisions to achieve the following:
• Enhanced community livability
• Protection of neighborhood character
• Provision of amenities for neighborhood residents
• Plan for neighborhood traffic management
• Protection of natural resources

For more information, please contact Kathleen Pagan, Senior Planner, at the Alachua County Department of Growth Management at (352) 374-5249 or send an email to kpagan@alachua.fl.us.

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Students Honored for Home Fire Preparedness

Alachua County Fire Rescue and Shands Safe Kids North Central Florida recognized 19 local elementary school students for their fire preparedness at the County Commission meeting on April 25, and at a special lunch at the main Alachua County Library.

The students are winners of the Home Escape Plan contest, a program developed to show the importance of having a home fire safety plan. As part of the eight year old program, more than 15,000 Alachua County school children were given a grid and asked to develop and practice fire escape plans for their homes. Entries were judged to ensure they showed two exits from each room in the home and designated a safe, outside meeting place for family members.

“Although we honored the best fire escape plans at the board meeting, every child is a winner if his or her family has a home escape plan and has practiced it,” said Alachua County Fire Rescue Public Education Coordinator Shirley Copeland.

In addition to educating children in Alachua County about the importance of home fire escape plans, the program also stresses the value of working smoke detectors in the home. Ultimately, Copeland believes education that reaches a child has the power to reach an entire family.

2006 Home Fire Preparedness Contest Winners:

Natalie Johnson - Hidden Oak
Nikia Clark - Duval
Ethan Arnold - Queen of Peace
John Michael - Fearney Wiles

First Grade
Aiyana King - Hidden Oak
Keiyesa Parker - Duval
David Hong - Hidden Oak
Keisha Wilcox - Stephen Foster

Second Grade
Amber Borrero - Hidden Oak
Logan Carpenter - Hidden Oak
Zachary Carpenter - Hidden Oak
Jennifer Kaercher - Littlewood

Third Grade
Ashton Lassetter - Idylwild
Raven Turner - Littlewood
Sarah Peace - Williams

Fourth Grade
Thadeisha Carr - Anchor Center
Spencer Coleman - Newberry

Fifth Grade
Catilin North - Newberry
Michelle Adams - Newberry


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2006 National Tourism Week

The Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau and The Hospitality Council will celebrate 2006 National Tourism Week, May 15-20. A variety of events will be held throughout the week with the aim to promote greater public awareness of local hospitality service providers in the Alachua County community.

National Tourism Week is an annual event where hundreds of cities and towns across the nation promote greater public awareness of the powerful economic, social, and cultural impacts of travel and tourism through local events and celebrations.

Year after year, one of the most highlighted events of Alachua County’s celebration is the Annual Bed Making Contest at Wayne’s Bedding, 3265 SW 34th St., Gainesville. This year marks the 14th Annual Bed Making Contest, which will be broadcast live via KISS 105.3 remote on May 15, 2005. The Bed Making Contest affords local accommodations the opportunity to showcase some of their most talented staff who compete in a fast and furious contest that challenges the contestant to be the fastest bed maker for prizes.

For more information, contact the Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau at (352) 374-5260.

2006 National Tourism Week

Monday, May 15
9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. - 14th Annual Bed Making Contest
at Wayne’s Bedding, 3265 SW 34th St., Gainesville

Wednesday, May 17
Noon to 1 p.m. - Hospitality Council Luncheon and TDC Meeting
at the Santa Fe Community College Zoo, 3000 NW 83rd St., Gainesville

Thursday, May 18
2 p.m. – Server’s Contest in the Gainesville Downtown Community Plaza
6:30 p.m. – UF Baseball vs. LSU at McKethan Stadium, UF Campus

Friday, May 19
2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Tourist Development Open House
6:30 p.m. – UF Baseball vs. LSU at McKethan Stadium, UF Campus

Saturday, May 20
4 p.m. – UF Baseball vs. LSU at McKethan Stadium, UF Campus

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Impact Fee Assistance

The Impact Fee Assistance Program provides funding for the cost of impact fees for income-eligible homebuyers. Funding will be provided as a 0% interest, soft second mortgage for a five year term. You will have to repay a portion of the loan only if you sell or rent the home or refinance within the first five years of owning the home. Only income eligible homebuyers are eligible to participate in this program.

You may be eligible for up to 100% of the cost of impact fees if you meet the following general guidelines:
A. Your household’s gross annual income is less than 80% of the Area Median Income, adjusted for family size.
B. You intend to purchase an eligible housing unit. Mobile homes built before 1976 are not eligible for assistance.
C. Sales price may not exceed $131, 603 through September 30. Effective October 1, 2005, maximum sales price will be $140,000.
D. You intend to own and occupy the home as your principal residence. The home is not a rental unit. The assisted housing unit is eligible for homestead exemption.


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Outstanding Waterway Project

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (ACEPD) walked the red carpet of the Keep Alachua County Beautiful Awards Banquet on March 11 to receive the Gold Award in the Outstanding Waterway Project category for the three shoreline restoration workshops held at Poe Springs County Park last winter.

During the workshops, 140 participants enthusiastically planted over 800 trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. Participants also helped establish “no mowing zones” along the river to allow native vegetation to act as a filter and aid in the trapping of pollutants from the watershed.

Current Problems Inc. received the Silver Award for a shoreline restoration project ACEPD assisted with at the Lake Alto County Boat Ramp. The shoreline was re-vegetated to improve water quality and to serve as an educational illustration of good shoreline management.

The Santa Fe Springs Working Group, of which ACEPD is a member, received the Bronze award for pulling 18.4 tons of garbage out of an abandoned phosphate pit located between the two counties. The pit is a direct conduit to the Floridian Aquifer, and will soon be fenced off to prevent future pollution of our groundwater resources.

ACEPD would like to thank all of the partnering organizations and citizen volunteers that make all of these projects possible.

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Urban Search and Rescue Training

As part of North Central Florida Task Force 8, one of only nine Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams in Florida, Alachua County Fire Rescue USAR technicians recently spent three intense days honing their skills.

Working together with USAR experts from Gainesville Fire Rescue, Marion County Fire Rescue and Ocala Fire Rescue, ACFR’s technicians practiced wall shoring, breaching, breaking and cutting techniques in the controlled environment of the old Tackle Box store on SE Hawthorne Road.

Although ACFR’s USAR team members have already responded with Task Force 8 to disasters like Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan, opportunities for extensive practice in safe environments like the Tackle Box are rare and afford unique training that significantly sharpens their technical skills.

In addition to urban search and rescue scenarios practiced at the Tackle Box, the team is also equipped to respond to other extraordinary situations including high angle rescue, confined space rescue and extrication following vehicle accidents. Whether the situation that arises is straightforward vehicle extrication or an extensive emergency requiring multiple skill sets, Alachua County Fire Rescue’s USAR team is ready at a moment’s notice.

“In Gainesville, we have more than 90,000 people at the University of Florida football games,” said Task Force 8 Team Leader Ed Kennedy. “If we had a significant emergency like a terrorist threat at the stadium, Gainesville and Alachua County could immediately request technicians from Ocala and Marion County to respond and vice versa.”

Ultimately, the recent drill at the old Tackle Box further honed the already sharp skills of USAR technicians throughout Alachua and Marion Counties and prepared them to respond quickly and effectively to any kind of emergency in our region.


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Splash into Science Night at Duval Elementary

Splash into Science, a program sponsored by Alachua County’s Environmental Protection Department, the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Watershed Action Volunteer (WAV) Program and the Gainesville Clean Water Partnership (GCWP), teaches students and their parents about protection of water resources and water conservation. The program includes two main parts: classroom presentations and a Splash into Science Night event.

Alachua County WAVs gave water-related classroom presentations at all grade levels at Duval Elementary School — a total of 24 classroom programs reaching 500 children — during March 2006. The students learned about stormwater pollution prevention and water conservation.

The month of activities culminated in an educational festival and celebration. The first-ever Science Night at Duval Elementary was a big SPLASH! Approximately 475 people, including students, their families, teachers and community volunteers, gathered at Duval Elementary’s auditorium to enjoy a hot dinner and a multitude of hands-on activities. Students and parents had fun learning about local water resources through art, music and science. They discovered “Gyotaku,” the Japanese art of fish printing on T-shirts, the physical properties of water through building Cartesian diver toys, and they created “aquifer” ice cream soda treats and enjoyed them for dessert! Festival participants learned how to make water music, created animals from recycled materials, learned about “creek trash,” and made take-home water cycle wristbands.

In addition to all of the fun activities, participants had the opportunity to interact with live creek creatures, including macroinvertebrates collected from our local creeks and live baby alligators! While the alligators were not actually let loose with the kids, Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park volunteer Harold E. Nugent and his wife, Susan, brought an engaging and entertaining presentation to the event that students will not soon forget. At the end of the presentation, Harold and Susan brought out two tiny alligators to visit with the children.

In all, this month of activities and the Splash into Science Night festival were a great success. Alachua WAV and the GCWP reached a large audience with important information regarding keeping our local water bodies clean and healthy. A good time was had by all in the process.
The Alachua County WAV Program is funded by the St. Johns River Water Management District, the Gainesville Clean Water Partnership and the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department. For more information, please visit gainesvillecreeks.org or contact Alachua County WAV Coordinator Lesley Leader at (352) 264-6826.

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Rock-A-Thon 2006

The public and the media are invited to join the Alachua County Foster Grandparent Program for its tenth annual Rock-A-Thon on Friday, May 12, 2006 on the front porch of the Cracker Barrel restaurant, 4001 SW 43rd St. (just west of I-75 on Archer Road).

Volunteers from the Foster Grandparent Program, along with celebrity rockers, will be raising money for the Program. The goal is to keep the chairs rocking from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Foster Grandparents volunteer every day, working one-on-one with children who have special needs in elementary schools, day-care centers, the Boys and Girls Clubs, and other locations.

Come visit with our Foster Grandparents and celebrity rockers, some of whom include:
• County Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut
• City Commissioner Jack Donovan
• WKTK’s Storm Roberts and Chris Wells
• GPD’s Sadie Darnell
• Rosa B. Williams

Donations are made on behalf of the rockers with all proceeds going to the Foster Grandparent Program.
This event is co-sponsored by the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners, WKTK and WSKY, Cox Communications, The Village, and Shands Senior Advantage.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining the Foster Grandparent Program, please call, (352) 264-6757.

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Commission Meeting Highlights

Proclamations, Presentations and Recognitions

Proclamation declaring “April 27, 2006” as “Alachua County Employee Recognition & Appreciation Day” in Alachua County, Florida.

The Board recognized “Fire Prevention Escape Plan” winners and Program Sponsors.

The board heard a presentation by The Kiwanis Clubs of Gainesville titled the “World’s Greatest Baby Shower”. The Board voted to provide $2,000 annually in funding for the World’s Greatest Baby Shower through the Department of Community Support Services. The Board also authorized the drafting of a proclamation for Chair Pinkoson to read at the event on May 6.

Advisory Boards

Rural Concerns Advisory Board:

• Wesley Carter was appointed as a citizen actively involved in agriculture and/or siviculture to a term ending in September 2007.
• Ward Scott was appointed as a citizen actively involved in agriculture and/or siviculture to a term ending in September 2007.
• Gailen Hodge was appointed as a Farm Bureau member to a term ending in September 2007.
• Cindy Sanders was appointed as an IFAS member to a term ending in September 2007.
• Jane Segal was appointed as an alternate to a term ending in September 2007.

County Manager

The Board authorized the County Attorney to seek an injunction requiring that Tara Brown surrender her dangerous dog “Omega” to Alachua County Animal Services and to make related claims as necessary in this action.

The Board authorized up to $2,000 in funding to support Commissioner Rodney J. Long’s candidacy for Florida Association of Counties Vice Presidency and the National Association of Counties Board of Directors.

CHOICES Health Services program performance update.


Community Planning Group

The Board approved an amendment to the Alachua County Fee Schedule to include a fee for petitions to establish a Community Development District.


Community Services Group

The Board approved a budget amendment to purchase a new information system for Court Services to replace the existing 15-year-old system, needed in early FY 2007. The Board requested that the County Manager communicate to Constitutional Officers that future ITS purchases be compatible with the Court Services and County Clerk’s systems, and also be coordinated through the County Manager. Amount: $250,000.00

The Board heard a presentation on Fire Protection Level of Services (LOS).

The Board heard a presentation on Ability To Require Local Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems.


Public Hearings

The Board conducted a Public Hearing and adopted the Amendment to Indigent Health Care Sales Surtax Ordinance (CHOICES): Alachua County Code of Ordinance Section 39.10.05. This change makes people eligible for CHOICES who have health insurance offered at their place of employment, but they cannot afford it.

The Board approved the CHOICES Policy and Procedure for health insurance affordability criteria in eligibility determination. The policy establishes affordability criteria of the employer-provided health insurance for potential CHOICES Enrollees.


Community Services Group

Chair Pinkoson requested that the County Manager present policies for the County Commission to adopt governing the transition of services after an annexation at the May 9th Commission meeting.

Commissioner DeLaney requested that the County Manager assemble the public service budgets and number of employees for police and fire in High Springs, Alachua and Waldo for the May 23rd Commission meeting.

Commissioner Byerly spoke of the US 441 “Old Florida Heritage Highway” Corridor Management Council and asked the Manager to appoint a project manager who will prepare an RFP to hire a master plan consultant.

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Get Involved - Alachua County Advisory Boards

The Alachua County Commission is committed to citizen involvement on its 33 advisory boards
and is soliciting applications for the following vacancies:

Applications are available in the County Manager's Office on the second floor of the County Administration Building, 12 SE First St., Gainesville, or on the Web at: http://boards.alachua.fl.us/app/application.aspx


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Thank you for your continued interest in County Government!

Community Update is produced by the County Manager's Communications Office.