June 23 , 2006 edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government


This Issues Features:

Grant Opportunity Tool Recognized

North Central Florida Makes National Top 10 Smart Conservation List

Countywide Burn Ban Continues

“Flags For Our Classrooms”

Cell Phones for Soldiers

Value of Urban Parks




Grant Opportunity Tool Recognized

The County’s Grant Opportunity Tools (GOT) program was recently selected by The Innovation Group to receive an Outstanding Achievement in Innovation Award for 2006. The award was presented during their Annual Transforming Local Government meeting on June 1, 2006 in Dayton Ohio and was accepted by Commissioner Paula Delaney and County Manager Randall Reid on behalf of the County.

The Grant Opportunity Tools program grew out of efforts by the County Manager, County Commission and the Grant Opportunities Team to streamline the internal grant search process. The Team determined that the eCivis Grants Locator program was an ideal tool. With support from the Manager and Commission, the program was expanded and the decision was made to offer the Grants Locator program to public and private non-profit agencies and groups in Alachua County to assist them in finding potential grants to directly benefit the citizens of Alachua County.

There are also intangible benefits: consistent with County values and objectives, this program supports, enhances and reinforces the goals of community partnerships and empowerment.

Since implementation in September of 2003, eight municipalities, four public agencies and more than 100 community based organizations are participating in the program. Since inception, grants totaling $2.8 million have been identified. All of these represent “new money” found through using Grants Locator. Increased productivity related to using the program for quick access and download of the files necessary to apply for a grant cannot be easily quantified but is another recognized benefit of Grants Locator.

In addition to providing access to Grants Locator, Alachua County developed a website and listserv to facilitate conversation and relationships between participants of the program. The GOT website lists important news and information and provides letter-of-support templates that municipalities and CBOs (Community Based Organizations) can utilize in support of their grant applications. This ensures that all applications contain the quality information they need to compete as well as allows them to show broad based support for the application.

The program continues to grow in size and scope. Applications for funding under the Community Agency Partnership Program now include use of Grants locator as one of the evaluation criteria.

For further information contact John Johnson jdj@alachua.fl.us, (352)338-7392 or Vicki Vargo,vvargo@alachua.fl.us, (352)384-3000

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North Central Florida Makes National Top 10 Smart Conservation List

The Conservation Fund recently unveiled its list of America’s Top 10 Places with Potential to Advance Smart Conservation, providing national recognition to communities working to integrate land protection, development, infrastructure planning and smart growth and North Central Florida was on the list.

“We have a land-use crisis in the U.S.,” said Ed McMahon, member of The Conservation Fund’s National Council and Sustainable Development Chair of the Urban Land Institute. “Communities all across America are faced with the same challenge—how to grow without sacrificing the natural, historic and cultural features that improve quality of life for residents, attract visitors and new business and bolster the economy.”

The award to North Central Florida was based on the following:

• Population growth, soaring land prices, and the loss of rural land to development have placed North-Central Florida’s great green heartland at a conservation crossroads.

• Conservation programs have identified a connected North-Central Florida ecological system linking existing conservation lands and strategic unprotected open spaces. Once identified, lands are incorporated into state, regional and local projects that are then reviewed, prioritized and funded through existing land conservation programs, such as Alachua County Forever, Florida Forever and the Florida Communities Trust.

• The aquatic preserves and other natural communities of the Big Bend Coast.
• Natural communities in Alachua County including pinelands, hardwood hammocks and prairies, and marshes providing critical habitat for many species.

• Alachua County Forever, a land conservation program that has provided $29 million in funding since 2000.
• “Emerald Necklace,” an Alachua County land conservation initiative establishing a network of greenways, open spaces and historic sites.
• Florida Forever land conservation projects through out the area.
• Florida Ecological Greenways Network identified best opportunities to protect large, connected landscapes and identified ten Critical Linkages statewide; three are within this region.
• “O to O” a cross-region land conservation project linking the Ocala National Forest to Osceola National Forest and the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Includes two critical linkages, potentially two million acres and 200+ miles long, likely the largest and longest proposed network of protected conservation lands in the eastern United States.

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Countywide Burn Ban Continues

Although Tropical Storm Alberto brought approximately 4 inches of rain to Alachua County, Alachua County’s mandatory countywide outdoor burn ban remains in effect. The recent rainfall, provided some relief, but our area is still suffering from ongoing drought conditions favorable for wildfire and, current forecasts are not predicting any significant rainfall in the coming week. The County’s present drought rating on the Keech Byram Drought Index is 590. Until a significant amount of rainfall occurs and our wildfire conditions lessen dramatically, the mandatory countywide burn ban will remain a necessary precaution.

The extended ban, which originally went into effect by County proclamation at 5 p.m. May 8, 2006, will continue until formally terminated by a majority of the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners.
The mandatory outdoor burn ban affects all of Alachua County, including rural and municipal areas. The Florida Division of Forestry will also be withholding burn permits on a case-by-case basis, as issued under their jurisdiction within the County.

The countywide mandatory burn ban prohibits:

*** Please note ***
The ban does not affect agricultural burning permitted by the Florida Division of Forestry

Exercise Extreme Caution :

Although the use of LPG/LNG grills and charcoal grills is permitted, the public is encouraged to keep a constant watch for any stray sparks or embers while cooking outdoors. Additionally, due to the potential for accidental ignitions, the use of motorized equipment such as ATVs and dirt bikes is not suggested during times of high wildfire risk. Please bear in mind that lawnmowers, both push and riding, also pose accidental ignition risks. Citizens are asked to exercise extreme caution during the burn ban.

Working together, Alachua County’s citizens and local fire suppression agencies may avoid a repeat of the 1998 wildfires which scorched 7,100 acres locally.

For more information on barbecue safety as well as other summer safety tips, please contact Megan Crandall at (352)494-8600.

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“Flags For Our Classrooms”

Alachua County has been awarded a National Association of Counties Achievement Award for the “Flags For Our Classrooms” campaign. The award will be formally given during the National Association of Counties meeting in Chicago, IL on August 6, 2006. The campaign was carried out by the Alachua County Office of Veterans Services and the Alachua County Veterans Memorial Committee, in cooperation with the School Board of Alachua County, Santa Fe Community College, the University of Florida, and area businesses.

The “Flags For Our Classrooms” campaign began in response to the Florida Legislature passing an unfunded mandate that every classroom in Florida must display a 2’x 3’ U.S. flag. Jim McCawley, then chairman of the Alachua County Veterans Memorial Committee, and Jim Lynch, Director of Alachua County Veterans Services, coordinated the effort to count the number of Alachua County classrooms that needed flags, and to raise funds to purchase those flags. Volunteers from the Veterans Memorial Committee raised over $13,000 in just a few months. As a result, Alachua County was the first county in the state to raise necessary funding to purchase a flag for every classroom in the county school system. They even raised enough funds to provide flags for every classroom in Santa Fe Community College and the University of Florida.

Additionally, they furnished screws and mounting brackets to mount the flags, and flags were delivered and installed in presentations conducted by area veterans representing WW II all the way through the Iraq War. Over 2,800 County classrooms received flags.

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Cell Phones for Soldiers

The Alachua County Tax Collector’s office continues to collect donations of used cell phones that will be recycled by the non-profit organization Cell Phones for Soldiers. Funds generated from the recycling will be used to purchase telephone calling cards and video phone calls for soldiers stationed in the Middle East. The Tax Collector’s office has so far collected 800 phones, and they have set a goal of 1000 phones collected by the 4th of July.

Cell phones can be donated at three locations of the Tax Collector’s Office: downtown at the Alachua County Administration Building at 12 SE 1st Street, the Northwest Office at 5801 NW 34th Street, and the Southwest Office at 3946 SW Archer Road next to Old Navy.

Any make or model of cell phones, accessories, chargers, batteries, Blackberry PDA’s and pagers may be donated at any of these locations during normal business hours.

Cell Phones for Soldiers is a registered 501c3 non-profit organization that was started by two Norwell Massachusetts teenagers to help buy pre-paid calling cards to send to U.S. Armed Forces people serving overseas. Started in April of 2004, Cell Phones for Soldiers has raised more than $800,000 and has sent more than 75,000 pre-paid calling cards to U.S. service people.

For more information, call (352) 337-6228 or (352) 264-6935 or visit www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com

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Value of Urban Parks

The children living at Linton Oaks in southwest Gainesville recently had a field trip to the Cofrin Park courtesy of the Women for Wise Growth, a local environmental group. Cofrin Nature Park is on NW 8th Avenue near Newberry Road. It was bought with money from the Alachua County Forever program, the city of Gainesville and the state.

Alachua County Forever Manager Ramesh Buch said the field trip for the children shows the value of having urban parks.

It’s so accessible. This may be the kids’ only exposure to a place like this,” Buch said.

For more information on the Alachua County Forever Program, please call Ramesh Buch at (352) 264-6800.

For more information on Alachua County Parks, visit http://www.parksandrec.alachua.fl.us/

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Commission Meeting Highlights


• The Commission provided certificates of completion to the 22 graduates of the sixth class of the Alachua County Civic Education SerieS (ACCESS) Academy.

Advisory Boards

Child Care Board:
• Barbara Beaulieu was appointed as a citizen-at-large to a term ending in May 2009.
• Gussie Lee was appointed as a representative of a government funded center to a term ending in May 2009.
• Marilyn McCall was appointed as a representative of a faith based center to a term ending in May 2009.

Child Care Board:
• Jack Donovan was confirmed as the City of Gainesville representative to a term ending in July 2008.

Constitutional Officers

Support Services Group

Community Planning Group

Community Services Group

County Manager Reports

Commission Comments

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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.