August 17, 2007 edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government

 

This Issues Features:

Local Eagle Scout lost in service
Chief Cliff Chapman receives award
Environmentally Friendly Landscaping
Erosion and Sediment Control Workshop
Commissioner Long garners appointments
Springs Celebration a success
Springs Protection signs a reminder to all
EPD focuses on soil and water clean-up
Alachua County Forever gets $6.1 million
County Update TV on Channel 12
Public meeting to discuss SW 62nd blvd.
What’s on Alachua County Talks?
Volunteers sought for Victim Services
County Event and Meeting Reminder
Cat Sanctuary Item Postponed
Commissioner Chestnut presents to NACo
Commission Meeting Highlights
Let’s All Get Involved - Alachua County Advisory Boards

 

Local Eagle Scout lost in service

All of us in Alachua County Government extend our condolences to the family of Specialist Christopher Todd Neiberger. Chris lost his life while serving with the United States Army in Iraq on Monday, August 6, 2007. He was the son of Mary June Neiberger of the Alachua County Equal Opportunity Office and Dr. Richard Neiberger. Chris graduated from Gainesville High School in 2003. He was a member of Boy Scout Troop 454 and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. He joined the Army after spending two years at Florida State University.

In addition to having worked with Chris’ mother I am familiar with the Neiberger family and their commitment to their church and to scouting. It is difficult for a young man to reach the rank of Eagle Scout today, more so than in my generation due to the many competing activities offered to young people. However, anyone who reaches the rank of Eagle has internalized a set of values that reflect America at its best. These values are reflected in the Scout Oath and Scout Laws that a scout recites at every meeting and must demonstrate for advancement many times in his scouting experience. As a frequent speaker at Eagle Scout ceremonies, I know many elderly men who use scouting values as an ethical guide their entire life. Chris showed his commitment to those values by making the ultimate sacrifice for his countrymen.

Christopher was a patriot who served his country. He will be deeply missed by his family and friends. His compassion for others, love for his family, and camaraderie with his fellow soldiers will not be forgotten.

A memorial service was held on Sunday at Trinity United Methodist Church, and a proclamation from the County Commission honoring Christopher was read.

I often blog about civic education. Sometimes civic education means coming to a public meeting, attending a class, or working on a community issue that interests you. Unfortunately, there is no better civic lesson than attending the funeral of a young man in the military who died in the line of duty to his country.

- Randall H. Reid, County Manager

 

Civic Thought

“But, the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world better than you found it, and when your time comes to die you can die happy in the feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best.”

- Lord Baden Powell of Gilwell, Founder of the Boy Scouts

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Chief Cliff Chapman receives award

Alachua County Fire Rescue (ACFR) Assistant Chief Cliff Chapman recently received the prestigious Mark Fingeret Award for Administrative Excellence in Emergency Medical Services. Awarded by the Florida Association of County EMS (FACEMS), this honor recognizes the nearly three decades of leadership and dedication Chapman committed to the promotion and advancement of pre-hospital care throughout Florida.

On Thursday, July 19, 2007, Chief Chapman received this notable recognition following his work as a judge at the Bill Shearer International Advanced and Basic Life Support Competition in Orlando, Fla., which is the largest EMS competition in the world. In addition to serving as a judge, Chief Chapman was also co-chairman of the committee responsible for writing the in-depth medical scenario used in the competition.

Chief Chapman, who will be retiring from ACFR at the end of August, has spent the last 16 years with ACFR striving to advance the critical field of pre-hospital care, which is the care provided by EMS professionals until patients reach a hospital or other medical facility. Prior to joining the ACFR family, Chief Chapman worked tirelessly as a paramedic throughout our region.

According to Putnam County Fire Rescue Chief Mike Patterson, “He has benefited literally thousands of lives, instructed countless EMS related classes, and has served faithfully both locally and on a statewide level.”

In addition to the many years Chief Chapman has dedicated to hands-on patient care, he has also played a critical leadership role in shaping EMS management and education in the state of Florida.

“I am proud to have played a role in the advancement of pre-hospital care for more than thirty years,” Chief Chapman said.

“But, after observing many of Florida’s up and coming paramedics, I know that they share my passion. Without a doubt, pre-hospital care in Florida will continue to advance and we will become more knowledgeable and continue to provide the best possible care to the many citizens and visitors to our great state,” he concluded.

Although Chief Chapman will be retiring from ACFR, he has left an indelible mark on EMS, our department, Alachua county and Florida as a whole. The Mark Fingeret Award distinguishes Chief Chapman’s invaluable influence and recognizes his innumerable contributions to EMS and our community.

For more information on this prestigious award or to schedule an interview with Chief Chapman, please contact Alachua County Public Information Officer Megan Crandall at (352) 494-8600.

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Environmentally Friendly Landscaping

Wendy Wilber, Environmental Horticulture Extension Agent at the UF/IFAS Alachua County Extension Office, will be teaching a class entitled “Selecting Groundcovers for the Landscape” on Thursday, August 30, 3 p.m. - 4 p.m. at the Alachua County Extension Office, 2800 NE 39th Ave., Gainesville.

Participants will learn how to choose the right groundcover for a low maintenance landscape. There is no cost for this class.

Those interested should call (352) 337-6209 to register.

Later on in the year, Wendy will also be offering Garden Tours of Local Florida Friendly Landscapes on Saturday, October 20, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Participants will learn about creating a Florida Friendly landscape and then take a tour of four Gainesville home gardens that demonstrate these environmentally friendly techniques. Alachua County Master Gardeners will be at each tour site to describe plants and gardening practices. The featured landscapes are in the Northwest, Southwest, and Westside of Gainesville and in the Duckpond neighborhood. There will be an interesting variety of low maintenance and native landscapes featured.

Class & tour will begin at the Alachua County Extension Office. There is no cost for this tour, and interested citizens should call (352) 337-6209 to register. Carpooling for tours is encouraged.

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Erosion and Sediment Control Workshop

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department and the Gainesville Clean Water Partnership will present an Erosion and Sedimentation Control Refresher Workshop on Thursday, August 23, 2007 at the Alachua County Health Department Auditorium, 224 SE 24th Street, Gainesville, FL 32641. The workshop itinerary:

SESSION 1: Erosion and Sedimentation Control for the Regulated Community

SESSION 2: E&S for the Regulators

To register for this free event contact Stacie Greco at 352-264-6829 or sgreco@alachuacounty.us Please specify which sessions you wish to attend.

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Commissioner Long garners appointments

At the National Association of Counties (NACo) Annual Business Meeting on Tuesday, July 17, 2007 Eric Coleman, the president of NACo , announced his appointments to the NACo leadership team. Included on the team is Alachua County Commissioner Rodney J. Long. Long was appointed to the Community & Economic Development Steering Committee, as Vice-Chair of the Economic Development Sub-Committee. He was also re-appointed to the Transportation Steering Committee.

In speaking of the appointment Long said, “It is an honor to receive this new appointment as well as continuing my work on the Transportation Steering Committee. NACo assembles some of the most innovative and creative minds in the country and provides a forum for an exchange of ideas that benefits all of us and the communities we represent.”

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Springs Celebration a success

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (ACEPD), St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) Watershed Action Volunteer Program (WAV), the Santa Fe Springs Working Group, and the YMCA made a splash with the first annual Springs Celebration at Poe Springs County Park on August 4, 2007. The goal of the event was to teach the importance of Florida’s springs and to foster appreciation for the state’s natural resources.

It is estimated that over 800 folks took advantage of this free day and came out and visited the park. There was a steady stream of interested citizens visiting the booths of the exhibitors which included: Brasingtons, Current Problems, Florida Yards and Neighborhoods, Florida Septic, the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, and many more. Entertainment included live music from Palm Valley, Dim Lights, Shana Banana, and Boilin’ Oil along with an inspirational speech in which Wes Skiles reminded us that we are all sources of pollution.

Even those of us that live miles away from the springs can still affect the water quality of this resource. To learn things you can do to minimize your impacts on the springs and water quality see the springs protection article on the next page. To learn more about protecting springs view Current Problems, Inc’s Solutions for Protecting our Springs brochure. To learn more about the springs of the Santa Fe River visit http://www.santaferiversprings.com.

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Springs Protection signs a reminder to all

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (ACEPD) wants to spread the word about springs protection. Over the next few weeks the citizens of northwest Alachua County will begin to see blue and white “springs protection area” signs appearing on many of our county roads. This is part of ACEPD’s springs initiative, being implemented to protect springs along the Santa Fe River. These signs are a reminder to citizens that everyone contributes to pollution of the springs and care is needed to protect and improve this resource. This is especially critical in areas where the Floridan aquifer is unconfined, most of the land area in Alachua County west of I-75, and in areas where streams drain to sinkhole, entering the aquifer.

How To Have a Positive Affect on Our Springs:

Lawn Care

Stormwater

Septic Tank Systems

Volunteer

To help protect these resources volunteer your time with the Alachua County Watershed Action Volunteer (WAV) program (352) 264-6826 or Current Problems/Adopt A River (352) 264-6827. To learn more about the springs of the Santa Fe River visit http://www.santaferiversprings.com .

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EPD focuses on soil and water clean-up

Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (ACEPD) scientists and engineers in the Petroleum Management Program are focusing increased attention on the clean-up of soils and groundwater contaminated with petroleum products at several high priority and “Imminent Threat” sites in Alachua County. Working under a contract funded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), Alachua County staff currently perform technical oversight and management of site clean-up and testing activities for over 96 active clean-up sites out a total of over 300 petroleum contaminated sites in Alachua County. Of these active sites, three sites in the Gainesville have been designated as “Imminent Threat” sites by the FDEP because of the threat they pose to human health or the environment: 1) the Shell-Hogtown Creek site along NW 13th Street behind the current Lowes store and the old Gainesville Mall, 2) the AT&T site along SW 2nd Avenue in downtown, and 3) the former FDOT- Tacachale site along N Waldo Road.

At the Shell-Hogtown Creek site, migration of petroleum contaminated groundwater from a former Shell gasoline station along NW 13th Street threatens the waters of Hogtown Creek. Several active treatment systems have been installed that are designed to treat the groundwater before it enters the creek.

At the AT& T site, petroleum contamination from old underground leaking fuel tanks generated a large plume of contaminated groundwater that caused petroleum fumes to enter building spaces. A large groundwater treatment system has begun to significantly reduce the level of contamination in this area.

At the former FDOT –Tacachale site, petroleum and solvent contamination from the old FDOT facility posed a contamination threat to drinking water wells at the Tacachale state facility across Waldo Rd. A multi-million dollar clean-up system using innovative, multilevel horizontal treatment wells that extend under Waldo Rd. has been installed to begin the clean-up of both petroleum and solvent contamination. Costs for clean-up activities at these three “imminent threat” sites are paid for by the state’s Inland Protection Trust Fund and currently exceed $4.5 million.

ACEPD also continues to pursue clean-up at all other active clean-up sites in the County. Of particular note, citizens may have recently observed South Main Street lane closures and construction activities associated with the installation of cleanup systems at several former gas stations in the 200 – 400 block of S. Main Street in downtown Gainesville. These cleanup efforts are being expedited in an effort to clean up S. Main Street contamination before road resurfacing begins in the next 1-2 years. Clean-up of these sites will also lessen the potential threat from contaminated groundwater to the new Depot Park stormwater basins.

For more information regarding the Environmental Protection Department’s Petroleum Cleanup Program, cleanup status of the Imminent Threat sites, or the location of other active cleanup sites in Alachua County, contact Tim Ramsey or Prasad Kuchibhotla at (352) 264-6800 or go to http://www.alachuacounty.us/government/depts/epd/pollution/petroleum.aspx .

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Alachua County Forever gets $6.1 million

In July, Alachua County Forever received $6.1 million from Florida Communities Trust (FCT) for the 2,309-acre Barr Hammock Ledwith Prairie continuing the long and successful partnership between the County and the State. Barr Hammock was purchased from Rayonier Timberlands in September 2006 for just over $10 million. The County and the Conservation Trust for Florida (CTF) jointly applied to FCT to reimburse the County for 60% of that cost. Last fall, FCT awarded the grant to the County and in mid July, the County received the check.

For more information on Barr Hammock, go to the Barr Hammock fact sheet , and the photo gallery for photos taken last winter on the property. County staff is implementing the Barr Hammock management plan with help from CTF and community resources.

Since 2000, the Alachua County Forever Program has leveraged $18 million in local taxes with over $36 million in outside funds to acquire and manage the County’s conservation portfolio. The County and its partners have submitted applications to FCT for 2007 totaling almost $6 million, continuing the pledge the County made to the voters to leverage their local investment. FCT should decide on those grants this fall. For more information, please call Ramesh Buch, Land Conservation Manager for the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department at (352) 264-6800.

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County Update TV on Channel 12

This month’s County Update includes features on County RSVP, Dance Alive National Ballet, Americans with Disabilities Act Expo, Poe Springs celebration, school safety tips from Alachua County Fire rescue, and County Waste Alternatives tips on how to buy eco-friendly products.

You can also view archived episodes of County Update at the County’s Video On Demand webpage here: http://alachua.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3

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Public meeting to discuss SW 62nd blvd.

The public is invited to a meeting to discuss options for extending SW 62nd Boulevard from SR 26 (Newberry Road) to SR 24 (Archer Road.) The meeting will be held Wednesday, August 22, 2007 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the auditorium of the Doyle Conner Building, located at 1911 SW 34th Street, Gainesville.

“We encourage citizens to attend the meeting to learn about the project and offer their ideas and suggestions,” said Jennifer Spagnoli, the County’s project manager. “Citizens will have the opportunity to suggest alternative routes for the project,” she said.

Detailed information about the project will be presented on display boards in an open house setting. Staff will be on hand to address questions and concerns. No formal presentation is planned and participants may come and go as they please at the meeting.

The SW 62nd Boulevard Connector project is a study of alternatives for a north-south connector between Archer and Newberry Roads to relieve congestion on I-75, SR 24 and SR 26 and SW 20th Avenue. This study is being funded by the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). This legislation included a specific item for the funding of this project for $6.5 million. This funding is not anticipated to be sufficient to fund the construction of the connector from SR 24 to SR 26.

“A number of groups have discussed the best way to handle increased vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle traffic in this area over the past years,” said Spagnoli. “Public input is important as we study the best way to protect the quality of life within the study area and meet the needs of a growing University of Florida student population,” she said.

For more information contact Jennifer Spanoli, Alachua County Public Works Department, at (352)374-5245 or e-mail her at jspagnoli@AlachuaCounty.us Anyone attending the meeting who has special needs should contact the Alachua County Equal Opportunity Office at (352) 374-5275 or TDD (352) 374-5284.

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What’s on Alachua County Talks?

On the latest editions of Alachua County Talks, Jim Lynch , Director of Alachua County Veterans Services, discusses the Veterans Services division and the benefits it provides to Alachua County Veterans. And Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau (VCB) Director Roland Loog discusses various events facilitated by the VCB.

Alachua County Talks is shown on Community 12, Your Local Government Channel, so tune in. To view show times click here: http://www.alachuacounty.us/government/depts/comm/schedule.aspx

You can also view archived episodes of Alachua County Talks at the County’s Video On Demand webpage here: http://alachua.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3

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Volunteers sought for Victim Services

The Alachua County Victim Services and Rape Crisis Center seeks volunteers. Duties are based on the volunteer’s interests and availability, and include immediate outreach to victims, short-term counseling, telephone and online hotline counseling, facilitating support groups, providing therapy under supervision of a licensed supervisor, giving community presentations, and assisting with special events and projects. Thirty hours of training are provided in crisis counseling and advocacy skills, with additional training as needed for certain positions. The next training is scheduled for September, so apply now!

Citizens interested in volunteering or seeking additional information should call (352) 264-6760 or toll free1-866-252-5439.

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County Event and Meeting Reminder

Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary discussion

 

Public meeting to discuss SW 62nd blvd.

 

Erosion and Sedimentation Control Refresher Workshop

 

Selecting Groundcovers for the Landscape class

 

Garden Tours of Local Florida Friendly Landscapes

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Cat Sanctuary Item Postponed

The item concerning the “Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary” (ZOX-04-07 Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary) was pulled from the agenda for the August 14, 2007 Alachua County Commission Public Hearing. The item was not properly advertised therefore it has been moved to the August 30, 2007 public hearing, beginning at 5 p.m., which will allow time for the required, legal advertising to take place.

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Commissioner Chestnut presents to NACo

On July 16, Alachua County Commissioner Cynthia Moore Chestnut presented on Alachua County’s CHOICES Health Services Program at a symposium during the National Association of Counties (NACo) 2007 Annual Conference and Exposition, which was held this year in Richmond, VA, July 13-17. The symposium was entitled, “47 million uninsured and growing: Solutions for your county,” and had a goal of exploring local, state, and federal health care reform options. In speaking about the CHOICES program, Commissioner Chestnut was representing local efforts on the symposium panel.

Commissioner Chestnut’s presentation focused on how local initiatives can address access to health care for the working uninsured. Commissioner Chestnut found the presentation very well received and said, “Many county commissioners are finding that in order to address access to health care, the solution is going to have to be a local one. That is the reason attendees were very interested in the CHOICES model and in finding out how they could apply some aspects of it to their own communities. Alachua County was applauded for taking measures to address the access issue for their citizens.”

Commissioner Chestnut serves on NACo’s Health and Human Services Steering Committee. Alachua County Commissioner Rodney J. Long and Alachua County Manager Randall H. Reid were also in attendance at the conference, and were among over 3000 elected and appointed officials from across the country attending. A representative from the White House was also in attendance of the presentation.

CHOICES Health Services is a program designed to provide health care for workers in Alachua County who do not have health insurance. Health care services are available throughout the County in existing clinics, medical and dental offices. Enrollees pay a $10.00 co-pay for each health care visit and a $5.00 co-pay for each covered prescription filled. The program is paid for by a voter-approved 7-year 1/4-cent sales tax.

Commissioner Chestnut noted that one of the reasons the interest is so high in local health care initiatives is that there are now close to 50 million uninsured citizens in the U.S., and she said, “Therefore, it is going to be incumbent upon local communities to begin to address this issue.”

Commissioner Chestnut also noted that, “there was particular interest in the planned implementation of the disease management component of CHOICES because the program will serve a broader community.”

Former CHOICES Director Mike Shine said about the disease management component, “There is enough empirical evidence that there has been limited success in addressing the underlying cost of care in a reactive methodology. If we can instruct the community through the educational component of CHOICES, and concurrently work with impacted individuals to manage their chronic conditions through the CHOICES Disease Management program, we will have a much better formula for success. At the end of the day, the care falls to the local providers. CHOICES is giving the community options to work with the provider community to improve the overall health of all the residents.”

For more information about CHOICES Call (352) 264-6772 or go to http://www.acCHOICES.com.

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Commission Meeting Highlights

Presentations, Proclamations and Recognitions

 

County Manager

The Board adopted a resolution modifying various fees on the County’s Fee Schedule.

 

Community Planning Group

 

Appointments to Advisory Boards and Committees

Alachua County Historical Commission

Scenic Roads Advisory Committee

Florida Works Board

Regional Transit System Advisory Board

Criminal Justice, Mental Health & Substance Abuse Grant Planning Committee

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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.