July 03 , 2007 edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government

 

This Issues Features:

Video On Demand goes live
Commissioners Long and Pinkoson ACC
VCB Director appointed to VISIT FLORIDA
ADA Expo Celebration 2007
Lifeline Assistance/Link-Up Florida
Curbside collection services delayed
Countywide Burn Ban Lifted
County offers Prescription Discount Card
NIGP 5th Annual Reverse Trade Show
What’s on Alachua County Talks?
Jehovah’s Witnesses Conventions
Commission Meeting Highlights
Let’s All Get Involved - Alachua County Advisory Boards

 

Video On Demand goes live

No matter where viewers may be, access to the Internet now equals access to important meetings and programming through Alachua County Video On Demand.

With the help of San Francisco-based Granicus, Alachua County is making its television programming available online at the County website at: http://www.alachuacounty.us . Click on the Community Spotlight to access Alachua County Video On Demand. This programming was previously available only to residents of Alachua County who subscribe to Cox Cable. Both live events and archived events are available.

Speaking of Alachua County Video On Demand County Manager Randall H. Reid said, “Being able to provide accurate and timely information to citizens and employees is very important to Alachua County government and this Commission. Alachua County Video On Demand gives more citizens than ever access to their County government.”

For more information on Alachua County Video On Demand, call Alachua County Communications Coordinator Mark Sexton at (352) 374-5226.

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Commissioners Long and Pinkoson ACC

The Florida Association of Counties (FAC) presented Alachua County Commissioners Rodney J. Long and Lee Pinkoson with the Advanced County Commissioner (ACC) designation following their completion of “The Florida Forum for County Leaders,” a comprehensive study program developed by the association. Commissioners Long and Pinkoson received the designation along with 24 other county commissioners on June 14 during an awards ceremony held at the FAC Annual Conference in Orlando, FL.

ACC certification is not a requirement to serve as a county commissioner in Florida. However, county commissioners who have completed the Certified County Commissioner program may voluntarily enroll in the advanced program and complete a three-part series of courses totaling 27 hours. The coursework is designed to provide information and enhance leadership skills relevant to a commissioner’s duties and responsibilities as an elected official

“This inaugural year of the Leadership Forum was a success,” said FAC Executive Director Chris Holley. “These commissioners are committed to advanced education and becoming the best to better serve their county and citizens.”

The ACC program coursework is covered in three intensive sessions focused on leadership with emphasis on growth and development in Florida. FAC has announced that the 2007-2008 Florida Forum Program will be sponsored and hosted in conjunction with the University of Florida, IFAS Extension.

Commissioner Pinkoson commented , “The inaugural class of the Advanced County Commissioners gives us an opportunity to be better Commissioners. At the same time it gives us a chance to mingle with other County Commissioners throughout the state to learn how they do things.”

For more information about the Advanced County Commissioner and the Certified County Commissioner program and courses, visit the FAC web site at http://www.fl-counties.com .

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VCB Director appointed to VISIT FLORIDA

Roland Loog, Director of the Alachua County Visitor and Convention Bureau, has been appointed by the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors to serve on the Visitor Services Committee and the Nature Based Tourism Committee for the next year.

VISIT FLORIDA is the state’s official source for travel planning for the Sunshine State. It is not a government agency, but the operating company of the Florida Commission on Tourism, which is a private/public partnership, made up of top state government officials and representatives of the Florida tourism industry.

Created by the Florida legislature in 1996, VISIT FLORIDA receives part of its funding from the public sector, in the form of a 15.75% share of the state’s $2.05 per day Rental Car Surcharge. Much more of its funding comes from the private sector as direct investment from tourism industry Partners, strategic alliances, cooperative advertising, and media equivalency from promotions.

VISIT FLORIDA markets to consumers, both in the U.S. and abroad, works with the world’s major travel journalists, represents the state at domestic and international travel trade shows and promotes the state to travel agents and tour operators all over the world. VISIT FLORIDA has many programs to help the state’s many tourism businesses and destinations market themselves more effectively and affordably.

The committees Loog has been appointed to act as advisory boards to VISIT FLORIDA. The Nature Based Tourism Committee advises on how VISIT FLORIDA will promote nature-based tourism. The Visitor Services Committee advises on how VISIT FLORIDA’s roughly 3000 partners can get involved with Florida’s five welcome centers, with the goal of directing traffic to the individual partner destinations.

Loog commented, “It’s nice to have a closer contact to VISIT FLORIDA. Their concentration is normally South Florida, so the more advisory boards we can sit on the more likely we are to get added publicity for Alachua County.”

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ADA Expo Celebration 2007

The Alachua County Equal Opportunity Office along with the City of Gainesville Equal Opportunity Office, the Center for Independent Living and Alachua County School Board will host an ADA Expo to celebrate the 17th year anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Passed in July, 1990, the ADA creates an equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in employment, education, transportation and accommodations.

This 3rd Annual ADA Expo will feature agencies and organizations that offer service to individuals with disabilities. Many vendors will also be present displaying the latest assistive technology devices, methods and information in health, accessibility or accommodation. Speakers from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, state and civil rights departments will address going “Beyond Barriers Towards Independence.”

Individuals will also be able to register with Alachua County Emergency Management for special needs assistance in the event of a hurricane or disaster and experience accessible voting machines with the Supervisor of Elections Office.

The Expo will be held from noon to 4:00 pm, Thursday, July 26, at the Sidney Lanier Center, located at 312 NW 16th Ave., Gainesville, FL. It is free and open to the public.

Free transportation will be available for persons with special needs. For more information, contact the Alachua County Equal Opportunity Office at (352) 374-5275 or the City of Gainesville Office of Equal Opportunity at (352) 393-8481.

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Lifeline Assistance/Link-Up Florida

A Lifeline Assistance/Link-Up Florida Rally/Partnership Luncheon, part of a statewide grassroots effort, will be held to inform low-income Floridians about financial assistance available to them for installing a phone line and lowering their monthly phone bills. The Alachua County Foster Grandparent Program will be a participant in the luncheon, which is free to the public. The luncheon will be held at the Savannah Grand Reception & Conference Center at 301 N Main St. in Gainesville on Thursday, July 12, 2007, beginning at 11:00 a.m.

The Foster Grandparent Program brings together adults who are 60 years of age or older to volunteer their time working with special needs children throughout the County. The Program Coordinator will present information about the program during the event, and current and potential foster grandparents are invited to attend the free luncheon.

The Lifeline Assistance/Link-Up Florida Rally/Partnership Luncheon is part of a statewide grassroots effort to increase awareness about the availability of financial assistance and emphasize the importance of sharing the information with neighbors and friends. The Lifeline Assistance and Link-Up Florida programs provide eligible consumers with up to a $13.50 reduction on their monthly phone bill and a reduction on the cost of installing a phone line.

Consumers can qualify and sign-up during the luncheon. Consumers who receive Medicaid, SSI, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Section 8 Housing, Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or who have kids on the National School “Free Lunch” Program may self certify and qualify on site without documentation. Consumers who do not receive these benefits, but are at 135% of the federal poverty guidelines may qualify by presenting verification of their household income.

Participants are required to reserve a free seat by July 6. Free transportation will be available. To reserve a seat or for more information, please contact Shirley Parker of Linking Solutions, Inc. at (866) 899-7106 or contact@linking-solutions.com.

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Curbside collection services delayed

Due to the observance of Independence Day on Wednesday, July 4, residential curbside collection service for solid waste, recycling and yard trash will be delayed one day for Thursday and Friday collection routes. Monday collection on July 2 and Tuesday collection on July 3 will occur as normal. The regular schedule for these services will resume the following week. The five Alachua County Rural Collection Centers and the Leveda Brown Environmental Park and Transfer Station will also be closed on Wednesday, July 4.

If you have any questions, please contact Milton Towns, Alachua County Office of Waste Collection at (352) 338-3233.

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Countywide Burn Ban Lifted

The start of the summer weather pattern has brought some precipitation to Alachua County over the past several weeks and countywide drought conditions have improved. Consequently, the Alachua County Emergency Services Director recommended on Monday, June 25, 2007, that the countywide mandatory burn ban be lifted.

With the lifting of the ban, residents may once again burn yard debris and use legal fireworks. However, residents are urged to use extreme caution. Even with the improvement of our local conditions, a wildfire may still be ignited.

Additionally, before you decide to burn your yard debris, be sure to review the Florida Division of Forestry debris burning guidelines. These regulations may be viewed at http://www.fl-dof.com/wildfire/laws_trash_burning.html. Citizens can also call their local DOF office at (352) 955-2010. Municipal residents intending to burn debris should contact their municipal government to ensure that the burning of yard debris is legal within municipal limits.

Throughout the summer, the public is encouraged to keep a constant watch for any stray sparks or embers while cooking outdoors and to remember that the use of motorized equipment such as ATVs, dirt bikes and lawnmowers poses risks for accidental wildfire ignitions. Bearing these things in mind, Alachua County Fire Rescue and the citizens of Alachua County can work together to keep our county safe.

For more information regarding the lifting of the burn ban, please contact Megan Crandall, Alachua County Fire Rescue Public Information Officer, at (352) 494-8600.

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County offers Prescription Discount Card

Alachua County, in conjunction with the National Association of Counties (NACo), is now offering a discount card program to help residents with the cost of prescription drugs.

The Alachua County Prescription Discount Card is free and available to all County residents regardless of age, income or existing health coverage. There is no enrollment form, no membership fee and no restrictions or limits on frequency of use. Cardholders and their family members may use the card any time their prescriptions are not covered by insurance. Most commonly prescribed medicine is covered, as is pet medication.

The discount cards are accepted at more than 57,000 pharmacies nationwide. The overall average savings are about 20 percent. The savings range from 13 percent to 35 percent on purchases of drugs at a local pharmacy and up to 50 percent on mail order purchases. Savings differences are based on brand-named prescriptions vs. generic.

The card is a benefit of Alachua County’s NACo membership. There is no cost to NACo, no cost to the County and no cost to the citizens using the discount card.

Citizens do not have to fill out any forms to participate and, therefore, the County does not maintain a database of who has the cards. The card will be given to citizens with a brochure and can be used immediately.

The discount card program is administered by Caremark Rx, Inc.

Cards are available at Alachua County Social Services, located at 218 SE 24th St. in Gainesville. Social Services will also mail out cards. For further information or to have a card mailed to you, please contact Alachua County Social Services at (352) 264-6750.

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NIGP 5th Annual Reverse Trade Show

North Central Florida businesses have a chance to turn the tables on local governments. The North Central Florida Chapter of the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, Inc. (NIGP) 5th Annual Reverse Trade Show will be held at Central FL Community College on Wednesday, July 18, 2007.

Instead of setting appointments and spending days to travel to each of the government agencies represented, businesses will have the opportunity to introduce themselves and meet with purchasing representatives from all the agencies in one room during a four hour period. They will be able to get pointers on dealing with the government and ascertain which entities may have need for their services and/or products.

“The government agencies participating in the reverse trade show are eager to tap the largest possible pool of vendors when they make purchases,” Alachua County Purchasing Manager Larry M. Sapp, CPPB, said. “We’re especially interested in reaching small business enterprises (SBE’S).”

Approximately 250 visitors took advantage of the opportunity to meet with purchasing professionals representing 19 government agencies including cities, counties, state agencies, US GSA, community colleges and universities, water districts, school boards, and utilities. We heard many positive comments from our vendors who are delighted to be able to meet with so many agencies at one place and at one time.

Governmental agencies participating are:

Visit the website of the North Central Florida Chapter of NIGP at http://www.ncfcnigp.org to pre-register.

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What’s on Alachua County Talks?

On the latest edition of Alachua County Talks, Alachua County’s Parks & Recreation/Open Space Superintendent Rob Avery discusses current topics regarding Alachua County’s parks. So tune into Alachua County Talks on Community 12 Your Local Government Channel.

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

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Jehovah’s Witnesses Conventions

The Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau, the University of Florida, and the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, hosted the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses the weekend starting Friday, June 29, 2007 - July 1, 2007 and will be hosting again on the weekend of July 27 - July 29. Based on attendance figures from last year, some 7,500 people per day will attend the convention.

Hosting the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses has a significant economic impact on our community. The convention will generate approximately $2.2 million dollars into the local area economy during these typically slow weekends. Patience and understanding from UF faculty, staff, students as well as the general public, is requested as we welcome these guests to our community. Traffic will be particularly heavy during the morning rush hour between 7:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. on Friday, June 29, and Friday, July 27. As in the past, intersections to avoid if possible are SW 34th Street and University Avenue, as well as 13th Street and University Avenue.

In speaking of this type of event Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau Director Roland Loog said, “We want to extend a special thank you to the Board of County Commissioners, Alachua County Legal Department and the Tourist Development Council for the development of a county-wide convention grant that assists us in our negotiations to bring events like the Jehovah’s Witnesses Convention to our community.”

For information on the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses Convention, call the Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau at (352) 374-5231.

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Commission Meeting Highlights

Presentations, Proclamations and Recognitions

Constitutional Officers/Other Governmental Units

County Manager

Support Services Group

Community Planning Group

Community Services Group

Appointments to Advisory Boards and Committees

Rural Concerns Advisory Committee

Victim Services & Rape Crisis Ctr Adv. Council

 

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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.