March 05 , 2007 edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government

 

This Issues Features:

Springhill Meeting May 1st
New Vet Center to be built
Traffic Lane Closures
Cell Phones For Soldiers celebrates
Don’t install an Air Fence
Gopher Tortoise status upgraded
Commission Meeting Highlights
Let’s All Get Involved - Alachua County Advisory Boards

Springhill Meeting May 1st

On May 1st, at 5:00 p.m., the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners will be conducting a public hearing to consider the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan Amendments and a revised Development Order for the Springhills Development of Regional Impact (DRI). The Springhills DRI includes 596 acres and is located within all four quadrants of the intersection of I-75 and NW 39th Avenue.

The Hearing will be held at the Santa Fe Community College E Building Lecture Hall (auditorium), 3000 NW 83rd St., Gainesville.

For more information contact The Alachua County Growth Growth Management Deptartment at (352) 374-5249

Click here for a map to Santa Fe Community College: Santa Fe

Click here for a map of the campus: http://admin.sfcc.edu/~information/maps/AccessibiltyMaps/nwmapaccess.pdf

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New Vet Center to be built

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson today announced plans for a new veterans center in Gainesville that will assist returning combat veterans with readjustment counseling and outreach services. It is expected to open in 2008.

“Our vet centers lead the world in helping combat veterans successfully readjust to life at home,” Nicholson said. “It’s an important service which combat veterans have earned. VA continues to expand into more communities with our vet centers to bring our services closer to the veterans who need them.”

The center planned for Gainesville is one of 23 new vet centers planned in the next two years as part of a major program expansion across the country. These facilities are an important resource for veterans returning from war and their families.

Decisions on the exact location for the new Gainesville Vet Center are pending.

Jim Lynch, Director of Alachua County Veteran Services, was pleased, saying, “With a county veteran population of over 20,000 this new facility will be a tremendous asset to our community. Nothing can be more important than taking care of our returning combat veterans.”

All vet centers are community-based. They provide counseling on mental health and employment, plus services on family issues, education, bereavement and outreach, to combat veterans and their families. They are staffed by small teams of counselors, outreach specialists and other specialists, many of whom are combat veterans themselves.

The vet center program was established by Congress in 1979 in recognition that a significant number of Vietnam veterans were still experiencing readjustment problems. Today, all veterans who served in combat are eligible for care at a VA vet center at no cost, as are their families for military-related issues. Also eligible are veterans who were sexually assaulted or harassed while on active duty and the families of service members who die on active duty.

Currently, VA maintains 209 vet centers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

For more information, citizens can call Jim Lynch, Director of Alachua County Veterans Services, at (352) 264-6740.

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Traffic Lane Closures

The Petroleum Management Program of the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department is overseeing the construction of cleanup treatment systems at several petroleum contaminated sites located along South Main Street in Gainesville.

Starting Monday, February 26, 2007 treatment system construction activities began at three cleanup sites located at 223, 403, and 404 South Main Street. Treatment system construction will involve trenching, piping, and well installation in the sidewalks and northbound traffic lanes of South Main Street. Traffic lane closures will occur during the next 90 days primarily between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.

Please contact Prasad Kuchibhotla or Tim Ramsey at (352) 264-6800 if you have any questions regarding this construction activity.

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Cell Phones For Soldiers celebrates

The Alachua County Tax Collector’s “Cell Phones for Soldiers” program has been a huge success. With the help of the citizens of Alachua County, the Tax Collector’s office has collected over 3,100 used cell phones and about the same number of accessories. Cell phones are sent for recycling and the money raised helps Cell Phones for Soldiers buy calling cards for military personnel.

The Tax Collector’s office began collecting used cell phones and accessories began in February 2006. Representatives of the Tax Collector’s office have been attending the twice-monthly meetings of the Military Support Group of Alachua County to give them calling cards to be included in the care packages sent to the troops.

The Tax Collector’s office extends its appreciation to the citizens of Alachua County. Thanks for your contribution to the success of the program. Visit the “Cell Phones for Soldiers” website for more information www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com. Citizens can continue to drop off used cell phones at any of the locations of the Tax Collector’s office. Call (352) 491-4436 for office locations.

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Don’t install an Air Fence

We all know what air guitar is, but do you know what air fence is? The black fencing that should be around most construction sites is called silt fence, and it is designed to keep sediment (i.e., dirt) on the site and out of the road, stormwater systems, and creeks. When this fencing is not properly installed (trenched into the ground) it flaps in the wind and does nothing to keep sediment on-site. If you can put your foot under a silt fence, it’s an air fence!

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (ACEPD) recently held a two day Florida Department of Environmental Protection Stormwater, Erosion, and Sedimentation Control Inspector Training Course, during which 49 people became Qualified Stormwater Management Inspectors. The goal of the course is to educate staff, contractors, engineers, and citizens on construction Best Management Practices and their importance in keeping sediment out of waterways. Sediment increases the chances of flooding, increases maintenance costs, and harms the animals that live in our creeks and lakes.

This free class was so popular that ACEPD may be offering another class in the future. For information on future classes or on erosion and sediment control in general contact Stacie Greco at sgreco@alachuacounty.us or (352) 264-6829.

To find out about other exciting ACEPD happenings visit: http://www.alachuacounty.us/government/depts/epd/.

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Gopher Tortoise status upgraded

The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is proposing to upgrade the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) from a Species of Special Concern to the status of Threatened. The reasons for this change, which will increase the protection and regulation of this species, are based on habitat loss and a decline in the numbers of gopher tortoises over the last 30 years.

The FWC has prepared a draft management plan for the gopher tortoise, and is now seeking comments regarding conservation recommendations and expected economic, social, environmental and ecological impacts of implementing the management plan. The management plan provides the framework for conserving and managing the gopher tortoise in Florida. The goal of this management plan is to restore and maintain secure, viable populations of gopher tortoises throughout the species’ current range in Florida by addressing habitat loss.

Here is the link to FWC’s press release: http://myfwc.com/whatsnew/07/statewide/gt-pccdrafts.html

The press release includes discussion about the Panama City Crayfish which does not apply to Alachua County.

This is the direct link to the management plan: http://myfwc.com/imperiledspecies/plans/draft_gopher_plan.pdf

The document is large, 121 pages. The plan includes details about improving habitat, increasing protected habitat, restocking gopher tortoises and reducing the number of gopher tortoises that die on development sites.

FWC has issued a call for interested persons to take a look at the draft management plans for gopher tortoises over the next 45 days, until April 4, and share their thoughts about how to make the plans better. Written comments on the gopher tortoise management plan should be addressed to Gopher Tortoise Management Plan, 620 South Meridian Street, Mail Station 2A, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600, or submitted to the following email address: gt_plan@myFWC.com.

FWC staff will incorporate comments into the plans before the agency’s Commissioners review them at their June meeting.

If you have any questions, please contact Stephen Hofstetter, Senior Environmental Planner at (352) 264-6811 or Michael Drummond, Senior Environmental Planner at (352) 264-6812.

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Commission Meeting Highlights

Presentations, Proclamations and Recognitions

The Board proclaimed March 4, 2007 as “PASSAGE Family Church Day” in Alachua County, Florida.

The Board accepted the update to the Downtown Master Space Needs Plan and provided staff with direction concerning options A, B, or C. The Board directed the Manager Reid to locate the best possible site for the Supervisor of Elections Office as quickly as possible and report back in 30 days.

 

Advisory Board & Committee Appointments

Health Facilities Authority
The Board appointed Michael Bailey to a term ending Sept. 2010.
The Board appointed James Williams to a term ending Sept. 2008.

Land Conservation Board
The Board appointed Benjamin Bukata, III to a term ending Dec. 2008.
The Board appointed Debra Chandler to a term ending Jan. 2009.
The Board appointed Jack Hauptman to a term ending Dec. 2010.
The Board appointed Thomas Hoctor to a term ending Dec. 2010.
The Board appointed Robert Simons to a term ending Dec. 2010.

Gainesville/Alachua County Cultural Affairs Board
The Board appointed Yvette Clarke to a term ending Sept. 2010.
The Board appointed Sheila Dickison to a term ending Oct. 2009.

Veterans Services Advisory Board
The Board appointed Jesse Bishop to a term ending Aug. 2008.
The Board appointed Bob Gasche to a term ending Aug. 2008.
The Board appointed Karen Myers to a term ending Aug. 2008.

Health Care Advisory Board
The Board appointed Jane Holland to a term ending Dec. 2008.
The Board appointed Marilyn Mesh to a term ending Dec. 2008.
The Board appointed Diane Dimpiero to a term ending Dec. 2008.
The Board appointed Toni Phillips to a term ending Dec. 2008.

 

Other Governmental Units

The Board heard a presentation by Judge Frederick D. Smith concerning alternative programs for dealing with the mentally ill in the criminal justice system.

The Board heard a presentation of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the FY 2006 Audit, and the Citizen’s Financial Report.

 

Community Planning Group

• The Board approved the submission of a Comprehensive Plan Amendment (both text and map) and a Zoning Amendment (both text and map) to the City of Gainesville for the current Fairgrounds property; and authorized the Chair to sign the City’s application forms.

 

Public Hearing

• The Board approved the settlement agreement with the Colby Cheese Corporation concerning the retail; take out, adult bookstore north of Waldo.

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Let’s All 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:

Board of Adjustment : One citizen-at-large

CHOICES Health Services Advisory Board : One Health Policy Professional, one Hospital Employee, one Certified Public Accountant

Citizens Disability Advisory Committee : Three citizens-at-large

Community Agency Partnership Program: One citizen-at-large

Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee : Three citizens-at-large, one alternate

Cultural and Environmental Funding Advisory Board : One Heritage organization member, one Alachua County resident alternate

Economic Development Advisory Board : One representative of UF

Environmental Protection Advisory Board : One alternate and seven citizens-at-large

Fair Housing Human Rights Board : One lending institution representative, one alternate

Health Care Board : One Alachua County Dental Association representative, one citizen who is a Low Income Health Care Consumer, two citizen representatives of Community Advocacy Groups

Historical Commission : One citizen-at-large

Local Planning Agency and Planning Commission: One citizen-at-large, one Building Industry Related citizen

Poverty Reduction Advisory Board : Two citizens-at-large with a disability, one citizen 55 or older, one low income citizen, one representative of faith-based organization

Regional Transit System Advisory Board : One senior citizen

Tourist Development Council : One alternate citizen-at-large

Veterans Service Advisory Board : One citizen-at-large, one citizen-at-large (alternate), one VFW Representative

Victims Services and Rape Crisis Center Advisory Council : Two citizens-at-large, one alternate

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Thank you for your continued interest in County Government!

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