November 16, 2007 edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government

 

This Issues Features:

County unveils web-based GIS services for building permits and inspections
Energy Commission to host climate change presentation by Dr. Sam Brody
Florida Communities Trust Funds Two Local Projects
Homeless Night Out and Service Fair held on Downtown Community Plaza
County provides disposal of unwanted medicines
Regional water supply forum to be held in Ocala
Alachua County’s Veterans Day Ceremony was held
Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry begins Annual Fall Blanket Drive
Fire Services workshop - See the video here!
P.A.T.H. support group for women
D-Day Veterans Group dedicates new memorial to WW II veterans
Stand Down Resource Fair for Homeless Veterans
Supervisor of Elections parades with Gator Spirit
What’s on Alachua County Talks?
County Event and Meeting Reminder
Commission Meeting Highlights
Let’s All Get Involved - Alachua County Advisory Boards

 

County unveils web-based GIS services for building permits and inspections

Alachua County recently unveiled a set of web-based applications that has transformed the operations of the building permits and the building inspections processes. In real time, they integrate the field activities of inspectors, office activities of staff, and the Automatic Telephone Request system, into a single geospatial web framework. For the first time geographic intelligence has been added to building activities in Alachua County and real time access to the entire construction process has been made possible for anyone with an internet connection.

Builders, contractors, homeowners, and homebuyers can now monitor the entire process of construction, from start to finish, from their homes or offices, in real time. They can view the results of plan examinations, schedule inspections, view inspection results, and identify County staff assigned to their construction site. From twenty-five years ago to the present, anyone can create maps that are dynamically linked to the full history of building permits and inspections in Alachua County. In addition, anyone can create maps and download reports in Excel or Text format for building activities, inspections, field entry results, and telephone messages for a specific area of the county.

In speaking of the new system Adam C. Bolton, Executive Vice President of Robinshore Incorporated said, “I was happy to help with the testing of the on-line building inspection request system. The web-based inspection request system is a great improvement over the phone system, as it clearly shows all the requested and pending inspections as well as the previous inspection results. One of the most useful features allows contractors to attach notes to each inspection to provide the building inspectors with additional information without having to reach them by phone.”

Currently these new applications are processing 600 to 700 transactions per day. The implementation of this project, in addition to enhancing services to the building community and the residents at large, has also increased the efficiency and the performance of six departments within the County.

As a proprietary vendor does not own this product and it is copyrighted by Alachua County, the County is saving upfront acquisition costs of approximately $500,000 and $50,000 per year in ongoing costs.

Following are the links to various parts of the applications.

http://cpd.alachuacounty.us/gis/applications/permits.php

http://cpd.alachuacounty.us/gis/applications/reports/

http://cpd.alachuacounty.us/gis/applications/schedule_inspection.php

For information and/or assistance, contact Alachua County, Growth Management Department GIS Manager Juna Papagorgji at 352-384-3180.

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Energy Commission to host climate change presentation by Dr. Sam Brody

The Alachua County Energy Conservation Strategies Commission (ECSC) will host a special presentation on the capacity of communities to enact climate change policy November 19, 2007 from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.. Dr. Sam Brody, Texas A&M will present geographic models and demographic analysis related to Alachua County. The results of his work provide important information to policy makers interested in mitigating the adverse impacts of global climate change on local communities.

The presentation titled, Distribution of Risk from Climate Change will be held in Grace Knight Conference Room Alachua County Administration building, 12 SE 1st Street Gainesville, FL 32601

This presentation is an initiative of the ECSC, and is open to the public. UF, County and City staff are encouraged to attend.

The mission of the ECSC is to draft by May 2008, a comprehensive report on energy use, its relationship to climate change and local socio-economic impacts, including recomendations of actions that may be implemented by the Board of County Commissioners and the community at large.

Immediately following the presentation the ECSC will have its regular meeting in the same room. The public is encouraged to attend.

For more information on this presentation, please contact Sean McLendon, Alachua County Environmental Protection Department 352-264-6802.

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Florida Communities Trust Funds Two Local Projects

The Florida Communities Trust (FCT) Governing Board funded 20 of the record 118 applications submitted this year. Alachua County Forever, the County land conservation program, submitted three applications; two of which were funded.

“We are excited about our success again this year and grateful for our strong partnerships,” said Ramesh Buch, Program Manager of Alachua County Forever. “The County is keeping its commitment to leveraging local investment. Including these two grants, Alachua County Forever has successfully applied for over $18 million from FCT alone since 2002. It brings the total in partnership funding to $43 million to match our local investment of $23 million.”

The Levy Prairie project at 3,317 acres is one of the largest ever funded by FCT. The State’s $3 million will match the County’s $1.2 million and the seller’s $800,000 donation to acquire this critical property. It was submitted in partnership with the Conservation Trust for Florida. FCT awarded this project the maximum 10 Project Excellence points.

The 675-acre Phifer Flatwoods project was submitted in partnership with Alachua Conservation Trust. FCT is awarding Alachua County $1.2 million to reimburse the nearly $3 million purchase price. FCT also awarded this project the maximum 10 Project Excellence points.

Alachua County’s third application, Lake Alto, was not selected. It would have protected of over 671 acres of Lake Alto shoreline and watershed and provide wildlife connectivity to conservation areas north and south along the lake shoreline. FCT awarded this project 8 Project Excellence points.

A total of $272 million was requested by all applicants. The annual appropriation for these project is $66 million. The funding break point occurred in projects receiving 170 points, 5 points higher than last year’s funding cycle, and four fewer projects were funded.

Also at the meeting, FCT announced the winners of their annual photo contest. Two local photographers were among the winners: Larry Kohrnak’s “Barr Hammock Sunset” and Mac Stone’s “Barr Hammock Kayaker” and “Barr Hammock Lilypads” took top honors.

For final scores, project information and photo contest photos go to the Alachua County Forever website at: http://www.alachuacounty.us/government/depts/epd/land/ or for more information contact Ramesh Buch, Program Manager of Alachua County Forever, at 352-264-6800.

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Homeless Night Out and Service Fair held on Downtown Community Plaza

The Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry and the City of Gainesville/Alachua County Office on Homelessness are hosting “Homeless Night Out and Service Fair” on the Downtown Community Plaza on Wednesday, November 7, 2007. The Homeless Service Fair will be 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., with dinner 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Homeless Night Out will be from 6:30 p.m. - 12:00 a.m. The event is designed to provide direct services to the homeless and to raise awareness of the plight of those who are homeless or hungry in the area.

Nearly 1,000 students from organizations from the University of Florida will participate in the event by serving food to Alachua County’s homeless community. The coalition of student organizations has been coordinated by University of Florida student liaison to the County Commission, Dirk Sampselle. Sampselle organized a donation competition for the participating students.

The Office on Homelessness will be awarding Alpha Tau Omega, the winner of the competition, with a plaque for their helpful donation contributions. Other participating student organizations include Delta Gamma, Chi Phi, Alpha Omicron Pi, Sigma Chi, Gamma Eta, Kappa Alpha Psi, Kappa Alpha Order, and Habitat for Humanity. In addition to handing out the goods they have donated, students will be meeting and greeting the homeless, serving food, and helping to connect the homeless with various service providers at the event.

In speaking of the event Sampselle said, “I believe that the key to social change is social participation. This marks an important step in the evolving relationship between University of Florida student organizations and the homeless community.”

Click on the link below to view a list of the events that occured:

http://www.alachuacounty.us/assets/uploads/images/Communications/pr_images/HNO_Schedule.pdf

To view the media advisory sent out by Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry, Inc. & The City of Gainesville/Alachua County Office on Homelessness, click the following link:

http://www.alachuacounty.us/assets/uploads/images/Communications/pr_images/coalition_homeless_night_out_2007.pdf

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County provides disposal of unwanted medicines

Since 2004, the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department has provided a free service to Alachua County residents to drop off old or unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications for proper disposal. Four locations in the County accept old medications for disposal through the County’s service: the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center located off of Waldo Road in the Leveda Brown Environmental Park and Transfer Station, 5115 NE 63rd Ave., Gainesville, and the three Wise Pharmacies in Gainesville.

Residents may drop off mediations during normal operating hours in the container provided at each location. Items accepted include prescription drugs, chemotherapy agents and over-the-counter mediations that are expired, damaged, are no longer needed, or are otherwise unusable for their intended purpose. Only products in pill, capsule or liquid forms are accepted, and no narcotics or controlled substances are allowed to be accepted per DEA regulations.

Recent newspaper articles have highlighted the improper disposal of pharmaceutical products as an emerging area of environmental concern locally and worldwide. There are potential health risks to aquatic life and to humans by long term exposure to minute quantities of pharmaceuticals that could make their way into surface and ground water systems after being discharged by sewage treatment plants or through improper solid waste disposal.

“It is advised never to flush medications down sinks or drains,” said Kurt Seaburg, Hazardous Waste Coordinator with the County. “Wastewater treatment plants currently do not have the capability to treat or eliminate residuals of pharmaceuticals in waste water.” The sludge that is a byproduct of wastewater treatment plants and is applied to land as a soil amendment may contain residuals from improper pharmaceutical waste disposal.

Since January 2004, the County’s disposal service has resulted in the collection, proper management and disposal of over 800 pounds of medications.

For more information, please contact the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Center at 352-334-0440.

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Regional water supply forum to be held in Ocala

The Heart of Florida Regional Coalition will conduct a Regional Water Supply Forum on November 29, 2007 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Marion County Growth Management Training Facility, 2710 E. Silver Springs Blvd, Ocala.

The purpose of the Regional Water Supply Forum is to discuss regional and state water supply issues and brainstorm possible immediate and long-range direction.

Invitations to participate in the leadership roundtable discussion will include: a representative from both the Alachua and Marion County Commissions, a representative of the Gainesville City Commission and Ocala City Council, Gainesville and Ocala Mayors, representatives from the Alachua and Belleview City Commissions, Alachua County Manager and Marion County Administrator, members of the Heart of Florida Regional Water Committee, representatives of the University of Florida, Alachua and Marion County Legislative Delegation, and other designated guests of the Heart of Florida Regional Coalition.

Although participation in the leadership roundtable discussion is limited to the invitation list, there will be limited seating for public observation.

The Heart of Florida Regional Coalition is a regional leadership organization from Alachua and Marion Counties whose mission is to promote regional collaboration that supports economic vitality and quality of life for the region.

For more information on the Heart of Florida Regional Coalition, contact Ron Barnwell, Executive Director at (352) 854-2322 ext. 1535.

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Alachua County’s Veterans Day Ceremony was held

Alachua County’s Veterans Day Ceremony was held on Saturday, November 10, 2007 at Kanapaha Veterans Memorial Park in Gainesville.

Events included:

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Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry begins Annual Fall Blanket Drive

The Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry (ACCHH) is beginning its Annual Fall Blanket Drive. ACCHH estimates that approximately 400 persons in Gainesville lack adequate shelter on any given night. ACCHH is asking citizens to donate clean, used blankets, or new blankets, to help the homeless population stay warm. Donations may be taken to the following locations:

For more information, contact Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry Executive Director Jim Wright at 352-378-0460 or e-mail at achomeless@yahoo.com.

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Fire Services workshop - See the video here!

A Fire Services Workshop was held on November 6, 2007 at the County Health Department in Gainesville. The public and epresentatives from the County’s nine municipalities were invited to participate in this important workshop to plan for the future of fire service in Alachua County.

Click here to view a video of the workshop.

The workshop agenda included:

For more information, contact Chief Will Gray May, Jr., Alachua County Emergency Services Director, (352) 384-3101.

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P.A.T.H. support group for women

Alachua County Victim Services and the Rape Crisis Center are encouraging participation in the P.A.T.H. support group. P.A.T.H., or Passages through Addiction and Trauma to Healing, is a support group for women who have histories of sexual assault, addiction, and lifestyles that are at high risk for victimization, like trading sex for drugs or money.

In speaking of the support group Rita Lawrence of Alachua County Victim Services said, “Sometimes women who have been abused as children cope by eventually turning to addiction and the streets.”

Please contact Rita Lawrence at 264-6760 or toll free 1-866-252-5439 if you are interested in participating in P.A.T.H.

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D-Day Veterans Group dedicates new memorial to WW II veterans

The D-Day Veterans Group of Alachua County dedicated their new veterans memorial on November 8. This new memorial is dedicated to all WW II veterans and is located next to Fire Station #4, 10 SW 36th St. in Gainesville. Speakers included veterans who served in both the Pacific and European Theater of Operations, including D-day veteran Frank Towers, who served in the U.S. Army.

Jim Lynch, Director of Alachua County Veterans Services, commented on the new memorial, stating, “We cannot honor our ‘Greatest Generation’ enough. In my opinion they saved the American way of life we all enjoy today.”

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Stand Down Resource Fair for Homeless Veterans

Sponsored by the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners, Florida Works and North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, the annual Homeless Veterans Stand Down/Resource Fair was held on November 16, 2007 at the C.R. Layton Army Reserve Center,\ in Gainesville. Homeless veterans were welcomed.

The original Stand Down for homeless veterans was modeled after the Stand Down concept used during the Vietnam War to provide a safe retreat for units returning from combat operations. At secure base camp areas, troops were able to take care of personal hygiene, get clean uniforms, enjoy warm meals, receive medical and dental care, mail and receive letters, and enjoy the camaraderie of friends in a safe environment. Stand Down afforded battle-weary soldiers the opportunity to renew their spirit, health and overall sense of well-being. That is the purpose of the Stand Down for homeless veterans, and achieving those objectives requires a wide range of support services and time.

Services included:

For more information, please call John Skelly, Alachua County Poverty Reduction Program Director, at (352) 264-6749, Vianne Marchese, HCHV Coordinator, at (352) 379-7461 or James Mash at (352) 244-5102.

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Supervisor of Elections parades with Gator Spirit

Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter, her staff and volunteers showed their Gator spirit and raised voter awareness by participating in this year’s UF Homecoming Parade. Decorated in patriotic colors of red, white, (orange) and blue, the election workers encouraged the Gator nation to “Become Champions of Democracy and Vote!”

As Lady Liberty greeted the crowd, staff and volunteers encouraged the parade watchers to get involved in the elections process. The vehicle displayed educational information reminding voters of the upcoming election dates and that there are three ways to cast their ballot. The message “Voting Is As Easy As 1 – 2 – 3: Absentee Voting, Early Voting and Precinct Voting” will be an important theme in 2008. Additional details and absentee request forms may be found on the Supervisor of Elections website at: http://election.alachua.fl.us.

The Elections Office would like to thank the Micanopy Friends of the Library and Penny VanMier for the use of the beautiful robes and to Clark Wheeler for the use and design of the vehicle. The robes can be seen annually at the Micanopy 4th of July Parade. The vehicle, on the other hand, can be seen in Mr. Wheeler’s driveway as he is now retired from Santa Fe Community College.

The Homecoming Parade provided a great opportunity for the Elections Office to interact with the University of Florida, its student body, and the community as a whole. Go Gators!

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What’s on Alachua County Talks?

On the latest editions of Alachua County Talks, Elmira Warren, Director of Alachua County’s Community Support Services Department, outlines in detail the services provided her department.

Also, Alachua County Court Services Director Cyndi Morton gives a detailed overview of the Court Services functions.

You can view the videos by clicking on the images to the right.

Alachua County Talks is shown on Community 12, Your Local Government Channel, so tune in.

Channel 12 Show Schedule

Alachua County Talks Video Archive

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County Event and Meeting Reminder

Regional Water Supply Forum

Climate Change Presentation by Dr. Sam Brody

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Commission Meeting Highlights

Commission Chair Paula M. DeLaney passed the gavel to new Chair Rodney J. Long. Commissioner Mike Byerly was named Vice-Chair.

Presentations, Proclamations and Recognitions

The Board heard and accepted an Alachua County Wildfire Mitigation Program

The Board approved the Revised Preliminary Development Plan and issuance of a Revised Preliminary Certificate of Levels of Service Compliance for roads only for the Springhills Holiday Inn, project number 2007062507.

The Board approved item ZOM1707 - a request to rezone from ‘A’ (Agricultural), ‘RE-1’ (Single family residential) and ‘R-1c’ (Single family residential) districts to residential ‘PD’ (Planned development) district on approximately 118 acres.

 

Commission Comments

Commissioner DeLaney asked the chair to send a letter of support on behalf of the Trust for Public Lands. The Chair Agreed.

Commissioner Pinkoson asked the Manager to look into Commission e-mail problems based on citizen complaints.

 

Advisory Board Appointments

Victims Services & Rape Crisis Center Program Advisory Council

Recreation & Open Space Advisory 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 31 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.