June 15 , 2007 edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government

 

This Issues Features:

Quality of life programs face cuts
Become a Guardian Ad Litem
Clerk cautions citizens on deed offer
County animals need volunteers
Santa Fe Hills Drinking Water Report
Old Florida Heritage Highway workshop
County Update TV on Channel 12
What’s on Alachua County Talks?
Enviro/Ag Tour of Alachua County
Resident Awarded F.S.A.S.E. Scholarship
Commission Meeting Highlights
Let’s All Get Involved - Alachua County Advisory Boards

 

Quality of life programs face cuts

A new economic study shows Florida’s counties will be forced to slash funding for a wide range of quality of life programs such as parks, libraries, social services, arts/cultural, and transportation by a statewide average of 60 percent if the Legislature’s proposed property tax reform plan is approved.

The study was conducted by economist Dr. Hank Fishkind of Orlando, one of the most knowledgeable sources on the economy and real estate activity in Florida. Dr. Fishkind is well respected by both government agencies and private developers. In this study he examines the impact on county programs and services if property tax revenues are cut by 20, 30, or 50 percent.

In speaking of the study, Alachua County Manager Randall H. Reid said, “I would encourage all citizens to read the new study on the impact to our local quality of life of the current property tax reform proposals being discussed in special session. Depending on your perspective, you may consider this report a scare tactic or you may consider it wise counsel, but I ask you read the results of Dr. Fishkind’s analytical review, consider his reputation, and envision the quality of life you desire in the future.”

To read the most recent letter from the Florida Association of Counties to Governor Crist, Senate President Pruitt and Speaker of the House Rubio go to:

http://www.fl-counties.com

Immediately above the letter, you will see a link to the Dr. Fishkind study entitled, “Impact of Proposed Roll Back of Ad Valorem Tax Revenues on Florida’s Counties.”

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Become a Guardian Ad Litem

Alachua County’s Guardian Ad Litem Program is seeking volunteers to make a lifelong difference to a child by acting as a Guardian Ad Litem. A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is a court appointed volunteer who advocates for the best interests of a child. The GAL becomes familiar with the child and the child’s case and makes recommendations to the court to help ensure a safe, caring, stable and permanent environment.

All children should grow up in a safe, permanent home. Unfortunately, nearly 1,100 children in Alachua County are not so lucky. Through no fault of their own, children in the GAL Program have been removed from their homes because of alleged abuse, abandonment or neglect. They are placed into the dependency court system with no voice of their own.

A Guardian Ad Litem volunteers to be their voice. The role of a Guardian Ad Litem is:

Information Gatherer: Collects all pertinent information and interviews family, friends, neighbors and other persons involved in the child’s life.

Community Advocate: Works with community partners to ensure the child is receiving the assistance and support needed to be successful.

Courtroom Advocate: Based on the information gathered, makes independent recommendations to the court and becomes the voice of the child, communicating the best interest of the child.

No special or legal background is required--just a willingness and passion to help a child. Many children are in need of an ordinary person to do an extraordinary thing--to become a child advocate.

Guardian Ad Litem provides 30 hours of classroom and online training, to become the voice for a child. The next volunteer training sessions will be June 14, 19, 21, 25, and 27. Classes are 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.

For more information or to sign up, please call Renee Marshall (352) 374-3656 ext.2238 or email her at renee.marshall@gal.fl.gov. Please also visit the GAL Program’s website at http://www.gal.alachuacounty.us.

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Clerk cautions citizens on deed offer

Alachua County Clerk of the Circuit Court and County Recorder, J. K. Buddy Irby, has received several inquiries regarding a private company that has mailed out a solicitation directed to property owners in Alachua County offering to obtain a copy of a property owners deed for $59.50. Clerk Irby is reminding property owners that they may obtain a certified copy of their deed at the Clerk’s Office for $2.50 (add $1.00 for each additional page).

In addition, residents may order a copy over the internet website www.MyFloridaCounty.com for only a few dollars more. Deeds are recorded with the Clerk’s Office and Clerk Irby assures all property owners that, regardless of what the solicitation implies, a copy of all recorded deeds will be available at the courthouse in perpetuity should a copy ever be needed.

For more information contact the Clerk of the Court at (352) 374-3636.

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County animals need volunteers

Whether you are a doting pet owner or just enjoy being around cats, dogs, or any animal, becoming a Maddie’s Pet Rescue of Alachua County volunteer is a great way to spread your love. Hundreds of animals each month would benefit from your service and kind heart.

Maddie’s Pet Rescue of Alachua County is a non-profit organization consisting of six area animal rescue groups: Alachua County Animal Services, Alachua County Humane Society, Gainesville Pet Rescue, Inc., Hailes Angel Pet Rescue, Helping Hands Pet Rescue and Puppy Hill Farm Pet Rescue. This local organization finds permanent, loving homes for about 300 animals each month. While the homeless animals are waiting for a family to take them home, there’s a lot to be done to ensure their health and well-being.

Enjoy interacting with animals? Artistic? Business-minded? Detail-oriented? Whatever your talent, there is a volunteer opportunity for you. Choose from animal-based volunteer opportunities such as becoming a foster parent (which includes free training as well as food and animal health services), walking and playing with the animals, and helping to keep their temporary homes clean, to talent-based opportunities such as public relations, fundraising and coordination of various events, retail, and so much more! The volunteer schedule is flexible, allowing you to commit based on your free time. Experience is not required. However, Maddie’s Pet Rescue welcomes any experience you can bring. Be a part of a rewarding experience by becoming a volunteer.

Maddie’s Fund is a family foundation funded by PeopleSoft Founder Dave Duffield and his wife, Cheryl, to help create a no-kill nation. The first step is to help develop programs that guarantee loving homes for all healthy shelter dogs and cats throughout the country. The next step will be to save the sick and injured pets and animal shelters nationwide.

The organizations goal is to end the euthanasia of healthy and treatable shelter dogs and cats in Alachua County by June 30, 2011. In the first five years of Maddie’s Pet Rescue Project of Alachua County, the partners were able to significantly increase adoptions and drastically decrease the number of pets euthanized; adoptions have gone up from 692 pets to 2,708, and the total euthanasia of pets has gone down from more than 8,000 pets to just over 4,000 pets annually.

Maddie’s Fund is named after the family’s beloved Miniature Schnauzer who passed away in 1997.

For more information about becoming a foster parent or a volunteer, contact Alachua County Animal Services at (352) 264-6870 or Chase Wiley at the Alachua County Humane Society, (352) 373-5855, ext. 15, or visit www.maddiespetrescueofalachua.org.

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Santa Fe Hills Drinking Water Report

The 2006 annual Santa Fe Hills drinking water quality report from the Alachua County Department of Public Works is now available to the public. The report was mailed to customers of the system on June 6 and will certify to the EPA that the report has been posted to a publicly accessible internet site.

To view the report click on this link:

http://www.alachuacounty.us/assets/uploads/images/PW/2006-CCR-Santa-Fe-Hills.pdf

For more information, contact Susan Wilson, Alachua County Public Works at (352) 374-5245 ext. 229.

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Old Florida Heritage Highway workshop

An important public workshop will occur at the Paynes Prairie Visitors Center on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 beginning at 6:30 p.m. All persons are welcome to share ideas for the “Old Florida Heritage Highway,” a nearly 50-mile roadway corridor in southeast Alachua County designated an FDOT state scenic highway in 2001. The corridor includes the historic communities of Micanopy, Evinston, Cross Creek, Rochelle and Island Grove, and traverses Paynes Prairie.

Funded by a federal grant, Alachua County is working with EDAW, Inc., landscape architects and environmental planners, to prepare a Master Plan that will provide a guide for future development, such as open space and recreational opportunities and preservation of the Corridor. The subcontractor consultant team also includes Conway Conservation, Inc.; Lewis Environmental Services, Inc.; Causseaux & Ellington, Inc.; Armstrong + Cohen Architecture, and NorthSouth Studios, LLC.

The Master Plan process will include design themes, sketches for parks and access locations, interpretive plans and traffic calming scheme. According to County Senior Planner Kathleen Pagan, “We know many local organizations promote and support our scenic highway and our state parks, agriculture, history and culture, and we hope for participation by all these groups and any interested persons.”

Paynes Prairie Preserve Visitors Center is east of US 441, located 10 miles south of Gainesville and about 1 mile north of Micanopy. The main entrance (100 Savannah Blvd., Micanopy) of the park is posted with a brown sign.

For additional information, please contact Kathleen Pagan of Alachua County Growth Management, at 352-374-5249 or kpagan@alachuacounty.us.

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County Update TV on Channel 12

This month’s County Update includes features on the Alachua County Tax Collector’s Office Cell Phones for Soldiers program, Alachua County Jail Alternatives Community Service program, County Fire rescue tips for the curent hurricane season and Waste Watcher tips from County Waste Management. Plus a look at the Gainesville Community Playhouse.

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What’s on Alachua County Talks?

On the latest edition of Alachua County Talks, both County Manager Randall H. Reid and County Commissioner Rodney J. Long discuss property taxes and the potential effects changes in tax laws could have on local government budgets. So tune into Alachua County Talks on Community 12 Your Local Government Channel.

For more information about property taxes, click http://www.alachuacounty.us/government/depts/comm/pressreleases.aspx?pr_id=5137

To view show times click here: http://www.alachuacounty.us/government/depts/comm/schedule.aspx

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Enviro/Ag Tour of Alachua County

The Alachua County Rural Concerns Advisory Committee is a citizen committee established by the County Commission to provide guidance and advice regarding rural concerns and issues within the County. As part of their 2006-07 Work Plan, they have organized an Enviro/Ag Tour of Alachua County for the County Commission, local municipal representatives, the state legislative delegation, Constitutional Officers, and County staff on Thursday, June 21, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.. The public is welcome to attend.

This year’s tour is in the southern part of Alachua County and focuses on the relationship between Environmental and Agricultural issues such as control of invasive species and management of conservation lands. The tour will begin at 8:00 a.m. at the Alachua County Cooperative Extension Office, 2800 NE 39th Ave., and will include stops at several locations in the south. The tour will end back at the Extension Office at 12:30 p.m. for an hour of discussion.

Go to http://growth-management.alachuacounty.us to see the agenda/itinerary and a map of locations. Please contact Ken Zeichner in the Alachua County Department of Growth Management at (352) 374-5249 if you have any questions.

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Resident Awarded F.S.A.S.E. Scholarship

Alachua County resident Carla L. McKnight was recently awarded a $1200 scholarship from the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections.

Each year the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections Scholarship Foundation awards three $1200 scholarships to deserving full-time students to assist in furthering their college education. Applicants must be enrolled or accepted in a senior college or university in Florida and majoring in the field of political science/public administration or journalism/mass communications. All sixty-seven (67) counties may participate by nominating an outstanding student to represent their county. The scholarships are named in honor of past Supervisors of Elections.

Pam Carpenter, Alachua County Supervisor of Elections, stated, “We are extremely proud that our own, Carla L. McKnight was selected to receive the Dorothy Walker Ruggles scholarship and that someone of Carla’s caliber serves as the first Alachua County scholarship recipient. Her enthusiasm and commitment to democracy mirrors that of Ms. Ruggles, who helped increase voter participation during elections in Albania and Bosnia.”

Carla, a junior majoring in Business Administration at the University of Central Florida comes from a 6th generation Alachua County family with a rich tradition that includes voter registration activism. She was selected because of her strong commitment to get-out-to-vote efforts in her church and in neighborhoods with low voter participation. Carla understands the importance of voting and has voted in every election since she was 18 years of age.

The daughter of John and Phyllis McKnight of Gainesville, Carla is a graduate of Santa Fe Community College and has been recognized nationally for her outstanding academic achievements. She was inducted into Santa Fe Community College Hall of Fame and received numerous Academic Excellence Awards. As a student at the University of Central Florida, Carla continues to maintain a strong academic record and was selected as one of two Service Learning Leaders, a Department of Management program.

Her plans are to graduate with a degree in Business Administration and to follow with a Masters Degree in Business Administration. Her desire is to ultimately work in Higher Education Administration and teach Business Administration courses. She looks forward to returning to Alachua County and giving back to her home community.

For further information please contact the Supervisor of Elections Office at (352) 374-5252.

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Commission Meeting Highlights

Presentations, Proclamations and Recognitions

County Attorney

County Manager

  1. Accept the report of the County’s financial advisor, Public Management, Inc.
  2. Accept the recommendation of the Economic Development Advisory Committee, and
  3. Waive the requirments of the Section IV (b) of the Guidelines and Procedures for the issuance of Industrial Development Revenue Bonds requiring minimum denominations of $100,000 and authorize a minimum denomination of $5,000.

Community Planning Group

Closing Comments

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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:

Get Involved - Click here for an application: http://www.alachuacounty.us/government/bocc/advisoryboard.aspx

Applications are also available at the County Manager’s Office on the Second Floor of the County Administration Building, 12 SE 1st St., Gainesville. For more information, call (352) 264-6904.

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Thank you for your continued interest in County Government!

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