February 15, 2008 edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government

 

This Issues Features:

Citizens offered backstage pass to Alachua County government operations
County awarded $999,000 criminal justice grant
Free electronic scrap disposal available for businesses –Two days only!
Jonesville Fire Station #17 to be built “Green”
Citizens can participate in the Evaluation and Appraisal Report to assess the Comprehensive Plan
What’s on Alachua County Talks?
Visitors and Convention Bureau offers funding to conference planners this spring
Pretrial Services: 1st non-sworn accredited in Florida
Employees participate in Wear Red Day
Expect traffic delays on County Road 1474
Male Survivors of Sexual Assault Support Group
Cell Phones for Soldiers Celebrates 2nd Anniversary
Special Section: The benefits of the food stamp program
Forage Management Basics Workshops
County Event and Meeting Reminder
Commission Meeting Highlights
Alachua County Advisory Boards

 

Citizens offered backstage pass to Alachua County government operations

Alachua County invites citizens to take part in the Alachua County Civic Education SerieS (ACCESS), a behind-the-scenes look at Alachua County Government.

Participants will learn about local government programs and issues, many resulting from global, national or state trends. Participants will meet the women and men who serve the County and learn about the services they provide, visit key County departments such as the Jail, Public Works and the Courthouse, and get a behind-the-scenes look at County operations. Participants will gain a comprehensive understanding of County government.

This is the 8th year Alachua County has offered the ACCESS Program. Each graduating class produces a group of citizens that is equipped to become engaged in ways that help local government become more vibrant and representative of the needs of its citizenry.

ACCESS begins March 17, 2008 and runs for seven sessions. Members of the media and other government officials are encouraged to attend.

ACCESS is free but space is limited. Particiapnts should register by February 29, 2008. Citizens can Register Online or register by phone at 352-374-5219.

Visit the ACCESS webpage for more information.

 

2008 ACCESS Schedule

 

Session 1

County Overview

Monday, March 17, 2008 (8:30 am - Noon)

 

Session 2

Work Release and Jail

Monday, March 24, 2008 (9 am - Noon)

 

Session 3

Land Use, Tourism, Information Services, and Administrative Services

Monday, March 31, 2008 (8:30 am - 2 pm)

 

Session 4

Public Works

Monday, April 14, 2008 (8:30 am - 2 pm)

 

Session 5

Judicial System, Clerk of Court, and Court Services

Monday, April 21, 2008 (9 am - Noon)

 

Session 6

Community Support and Health Department

Monday, April 28, 2008 (9 am - 1 pm)

 

Session 7

Fire/Rescue, Parks, Library, Sheriff, CDC

Monday, May 5, 2008 (8:30 am - 12:30 pm)

 

Return to Top

 

County awarded $999,000 criminal justice grant

The Florida Substance Abuse and Mental Health Corporation in partnership with the Florida Department of Children and Families has awarded Alachua County a 3-year grant totaling $999,000.

The purpose of the Criminal Justice, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Reinvestment Grant Program is to provide funding to counties with which they can plan, implement, or expand initiatives that increase public safety, avert increased spending on criminal justice, and improve the accessibility and effectiveness of treatment services. The grant targets for adults and juveniles who have a mental illness and/or substance abuse disorder, or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders and who are in, or at risk of entering the criminal or juvenile justice systems. Up to 70 persons will receive services at any given time. The project will serve approximately 150 persons annually, with services provided to assist participants for a period of 4 to 6 months.

In speaking of the grant, Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth, said, “This much needed funding will allow Alachua County to address one of the Department’s greatest priorities head on. It is critical that at-risk adults and children have easy access to substance abuse and mental health treatment services before they ever have a chance to break the law.”

Alachua County Commission Chairman Rodney J. Long said, “The Alachua County Criminal Justice, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Grant Planning Committee has been working long and hard to address the issue of mental health and the criminal justice system. It is gratifying to see these efforts bear fruit.”

According to Alachua County Court Services Director, Cyndi Morton, “The funds provided by this grant will meet a long-standing need. The availability of treatment services has not kept up with the growth in the community and there are many unmet needs.”

Commissioner Rodney J. Long served as chairperson for the collaboration of community agencies that comprised the Alachua County Criminal Justice, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Grant Planning Committee. Circuit Administrative Judge Martha Ann Lott, Administrative Judge of the Criminal Division of the 8th Circuit, was the chair of the inter-agency subcommittee that prepared the successful grant.

The collaboration of key stakeholders and citizens was crucial in developing the successful grant application. Partnering agencies included Alachua County Board of County Commissioners, the Department of Children and Families Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, the Office of the State Attorney, the Office of the Public Defender, Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, North Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Gainesville Police Department, Alachua County Department of Court Services and Peaceful Paths.

Meridian Healthcare President and CEO Margarita Labarta commented, “As a mental health and substance abuse treatment provider, Meridian is very excited by the opportunity to work with our criminal justice system and law enforcement to make treatment an alternative for this very needy population.”

For more information, contact Alachua County Court Services Director Cyndi Morton at 352-338-7390

Return to Top

 

Free electronic scrap disposal available for businesses –Two days only!

An Electronic Scrap (E-scrap) Collection Event targeting businesses is being held free of charge February 27-28 by Alachua County’s Environmental Protection Department (ACEPD) and Office of Waste Alternatives as part of their new E-scrap outreach program. This program kick-off event will be held 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. at the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center, located at 5125 NE 63rd Ave. in Gainesville, two miles north of 39th Avenue off Waldo Road.

Electronic components often contain a variety of heavy metals and other substances known to pose hazards to human and environmental health when disposed of improperly. Many of the components are highly recyclable.

“E-scrap is a growing concern from an environmental standpoint, and Alachua County has been at the forefront in the proper collection and recycling of unwanted or obsolete electronics since 1999,” said Kurt Seaburg, Hazardous Waste Coordinator for ACEPD.

If the electronics cannot be reused by family and friends or donated appropriately, businesses and institutions can bring them to the two day collection event at no cost. Although the Hazardous Waste Program accepts E-scrap on a regular basis from businesses, there is normally a charge for the proper disposal of monitors and televisions. Also on site during the event will be The Dignity Project, a local non-profit organization that will accept higher value computer components for their program that repairs and donates complete, working computers to people with special needs.

Optional educational sessions will explain where and how E-scrap is recycled and what Alachua County is doing to protect our environment through proper end-of-life management of electronic waste.

A business card is required, and the County reserves the right to limit quantities businesses may drop off during the collection event.

The event is made possible through funding provided by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

For more information, call Kurt Seaburg, Hazardous Waste Coordinator at 352-334-0440.

Return to Top

 

Jonesville Fire Station #17 to be built “Green”

In 2006, the Alachua County Commission approved the funding for the construction of a 6,000 sq ft Fire Station. On October 23, 2007, the County Commission hired GMC Construction Company to serve as the Construction Manager who will be responsible for ensuring that the construction of the Fire Station is completed on time and within budget. The total project cost is approximately $2.9 million and is scheduled to be completed in the January/February 2009 time period.

Alachua County’s Design and Construction Team recently held a Green Building workshop to determine how the County could have the Jonesville Fire Station #17 certified as the County’s first Green Building under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEEDS) program. The workshop was led by Ms. Bahar Armaghani, who currently works with the University of Florida Facilities Planning and Construction Department. Ms. Armaghani is also an active member of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and is a LEEDS certified professional. Participants in the discussion included GMC Construction Management Company, CH2M HILL Architectural Firm and County staff.

Green Building certification is assessed by reviewing qualifications in five categories: sustainable sites; water efficiency; energy & atmosphere; material and resources; indoor environmental quality and invocation & design process. During the workshop, the group reviewed the project and determined that with some minor revisions to the design the County could certify the building, anticipating gaining 31 points in the five categories.

The one question most frequently asked by customers is, why build Green?

In response to that question, Charlie Jackson, Alachua County Facilities Manager states, “Building Green makes very good business sense as it reduce solid waste; reduces operating cost over the life of the building; minimizes water consumption; enhances asset value and profits; lowers utilities cost; improves employee productivity and satisfaction; offers recycling opportunities; produces a healthy building, provides opportunities to use native plants for landscaping; and many other benefits, ultimately providing the County with a sustainable building.”

A study performed by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in Menlo Park, California revealed that the Return on Investment (ROI) on Green Improvements pays for themselves in three years with an approximate annual return on investment of 25 to 40 percent. Currently there are LEED projects in all 50 states and 41 countries.

CH2M HILL designed the Fire Station and will assist the County during the construction phase ensuring that the project is built according to design specifications and construction documents.

Alachua County Board of County Commissioners has been an active member of the USGBC for many years and through the designing, constructing and operating energy efficient and profitable buildings, it provides a healthy place to live and work.

This new fire station, soon to be constructed adjacent to the Soccer Field in the Jonesville Park Complex, will replace the existing Fire Station #17 currently located behind the Publix Grocery Store near the intersection of 143rd and Newberry Road. Building this station will provide critical space to house staff and equipment, enhancing fire services for citizens in this portion of Alachua County.

Return to Top

 

Citizens can participate in the Evaluation and Appraisal Report to assess the Comprehensive Plan

The State of Florida requires all local governments (counties and municipalities) to adopt Local Government Comprehensive Plans that guide future growth and development. The State’s Growth Management Act (Chapter 163, Part II, F.S.) also requires each local government to adopt an Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) once every seven years to assess progress in implementing the local government’s Comprehensive Plan and identify recommendations for update of the Plan. The adoption due date set by the State for Alachua County’s EAR is September 1, 2009. This is a multiphase process beginning with a series of community workshops in February 2008 to identify the issues that the EAR will address. All interested citizens are encouraged to participate.

For more information visit

www.alachuacounty.us/ear , email at

EAR@alachuacounty.us , or call 352-374-5249.

Return to Top

 

What’s on Alachua County Talks?

Check out the latest editions of Alachua County Talks on Community 12 TV by viewing the Channel 12 Show Schedule , or click on the images below to view streaming video of the episodes.

Click to watch Jeff Bielling, Alachua County Fire Rescue’s Wildfire Mitigation Officer, discuss the County’s Wildfire Mitigation program.

Click to watch Alachua County Commission Chair Rodney J. Long’s interview on the State of the County.

Return to Top

 

Visitors and Convention Bureau offers funding to conference planners this spring

The Gainesville/Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau (G/ACVCB) is adding a spring cycle to their 2008 Conference Grant Program which will award a total of $40,000 to qualified meeting planners who conduct their meetings or conferences in Gainesville/Alachua County.

The Bureau also offers planners a Conference Grant in the fall which offers up to $75,000 in funding. The Conference Grant program, now in its eighth cycle, has awarded approximately 91 grants totaling more than $628,000 in funding.

“Our conference grant program demonstrates our commitment to our meeting partners and the success of their events in our destination,” said Nancy Fischer, CMP Director of Sales of the G/ACVCB. “ Planners have used the grant funds as reimbursements for a variety of meeting expenses such as transportation shuttles, program printing as well as audio-visual rentals,” Fischer said.

To qualify, meeting professionals must complete the grant application, which is available on line at www.visitgainesville.com/grants and satisfy a number of criteria including confirming that their meeting or event produced hotel room nights in Gainesville/Alachua County between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2011. Individual grants cap at $10,000 and are available to corporate, association, or non-profit, public or privately-funded planners.

Although online now, applications may only be submitted during the official grant cycle which opens Tuesday, April 1 with the deadline on Wednesday, April 30 at 4 p.m. All qualified applications will be reviewed by the County’s nine-member Tourist Development Council (TDC) in May, with recipients announced at the following month’s TDC meeting.

Gainesville is conveniently and centrally located less than two hours from Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville and is the halfway point between Atlanta and Miami. Gainesville offers planners more than 4,600 hotel rooms and approximately 200,000 square feet of versatile meeting space.

For additional information, planners may contact Nancy Fischer nfischer@visitgainesville.com or John Pricher jop@visitgainesville.com at the Gainesville VCB at 352-374-5260 or toll-free at 1-866-778-5002.

Return to Top

 

Pretrial Services: 1st non-sworn accredited in Florida

The Alachua County Pretrial Services Program has been recommended by the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission to receive accreditation status on February 19, 2008 at the FLA-PAC Conference to be held at the Belleview Biltmore Resort, 25 Belleview Blvd. in Clearwater, Florida.

The Alachua County Pretrial Services program is the first non-sworn Pretrial program in the State of Florida and the nation to receive this honor.

Completing the accreditation process offers Pretrial programs the opportunity to evaluate their operations against standards developed by the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission in conjunction with the Association of Pretrial Professionals of Florida. The Pretrial Justice Institute and the National Association of Pretrial Service Agencies located in Washington, D.C. were also instrumental in providing guidance, ensuring that those standards implemented were the two agencies’ current best practices

Pretrial Services Manager Gerie Crawford of Alachua County Court Services stated, “Florida has set the standard by being the first state in the nation to offer accreditation of Pretrial programs. Alachua County, a leader in the field, recognized the value of earning this honor and is proud to receive this recognition.”

Though accreditation is not mandatory, this process allows Pretrial programs to standardize their practices, eliminate deficiencies and upgrade the quality of Pretrial Services based on the aspects of Florida law and best practices providing pretrial justice to the citizens of the State of Florida.

For more information about the accreditation process, contact the Pretrial Services program at 352-338-7348 or the website of the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission at http://flaccreditation.org.

Return to Top

 

Employees participate in Wear Red Day

Cardiovascular diseases are America’s No. 1 Killer and a leading cause of disability. On February 1, 2008, Alachua County joined the American Heart Association’s fight against heart disease by hosting Wear Red Day. National Wear Red Day is an important part of the American Heart Association’s, Go Red for Women Movement. This movement strives to build awareness and urge both women and men to take action to reduce their risk of heart disease.

On Thursday, January 31st, Alachua County’s employee wellness program, Wellness Works, in collaboration with the North Florida Regional Medical Center and Interventional Cardiologists of Gainesville hosted a free luncheon to employees. The luncheon featured Dr. Arthur Lee, who spoke on heart health, heart disease prevention and treatment, and the differences between men and women’s heart disease symptoms.

On National Wear Red Day, Wellness Works also hosted body composition screenings and private consultations with Dr. Timothy Hipp for all employees who wished to make dietary and lifestyle changes. Both events were very successful in raising awareness to Alachua County employees regarding heart disease and maintaining a healthy heart.

Ten Ways to Love Your Heart

(Source: American Heart Association)

  1. Get regular checkups.
  2. Know your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers.
  3. Follow your doctor’s recommendations for diet and exercise.
  4. Take prescribed medications as directed.
  5. If you smoke, quit now.
  6. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day.
  7. Eat a heart-healthy diet, including fruits and vegetables, whole-grain food and fish. Wear Red Day Luncheon Featuring Dr. Arthur Lee
  8. Limit foot high in saturated fats and dietary cholesterol.
  9. Limit your sale intake to 2300 mg of sodium a day.
  10. If you drink alcoholic beverages, drink in moderation – an average of no more than one drink a day for non-pregnant women.

Return to Top

 

Expect traffic delays on County Road 1474

On February 11, 2008 the Alachua County Public Works Department began the milling and resurfacing of County Road 1474. Construction is expected to last 120 calendar days. Daily lane closures may be in effect during this time period. Anyone traveling through this area should expect delays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The length of the project is 4.25 miles. Four foot paved shoulders will be added to the existing road. The cost of the project is $2.7 million. It is being funded from Gas Tax Bond Revenues approved by the Board of County Commissioners in April of 2005.

For more information, please contact Antonio Vergara of the Alachua County Public Works Department at 352-374-5245 ext. 308.

Return to Top

 

Male Survivors of Sexual Assault Support Group

The Alachua County Victim Services and Rape Crisis Center is forming a support group for adult male survivors of sexual assault. Male survivors of sexual assault suffer trauma that may take months or years to cope with. Survivors are urged to join with others in learning how to recover and reclaim their strength. The group will meet weekly for 10 weeks, and will encourage discussion and provide information about common reactions and strategies for coping and healing.

For screening or for more information please call (352) 264-6764 or our hotline at 1-866-252-4539.

Return to Top

 

Cell Phones for Soldiers Celebrates 2nd Anniversary

The Alachua County Tax Collector’s “Cell Phones for Soldiers” program has been a huge success. The drop-off locations in Gainesville started to collect used cell phones and accessories in February of 2006.

With the help of the citizens of Alachua County, the Tax Collector’s office has collected over 4,894 used cell phones. Cell phones are sent for recycling and the money raised helps Cell Phones for Soldiers buy calling cards for military personnel. 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 and help them package them in the care packages sent to the troops.

The Tax Collector’s office extends its appreciation to the citizens of Alachua County. “We could not have done it without your help”, says Roxanne Watkins of the Tax Collector’s office. “Thanks for your contribution to the success of the program”.

The Tax Collector’s office goal is to collect 5,000 cell phones by February 22nd.

Visit the “Cell Phones for Soldiers” website for more information www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com, or you may contact Stephanie Kelly or Roxanne Watkins at (352) 374-5236.

Return to Top

 

Special Section: The benefits of the food stamp program

Helping Low-Income Families

Stretch food dollars. Those receiving food stamp benefits spend more money on food than other low-income households. Every additional dollar’s worth of food stamp benefits generates 17 to 47 cents of new spending on food.

Fight obesity through education. Nutrition educators teach food stamp participants the importance of a quality diet, how to prepare healthy foods, and how to make healthy choices.

Put food on the table for their children. Food stamp benefits are an investment in our future. More than fifty percent of participants are children.

Keep elderly family members independent. For the elderly, participation can help improve nutritional status and well-being and increase independence. Nine percent of participants are age 60 or older.

Transition to self sufficiency. The Food Stamp Program (FSP) helps participants become financially stable and provides needed support as they transition to self sufficiency. Half of all new participants will leave the program within nine months.

 

Helping Businesses and Workers

Achieve Optimal Performance. Employees whose food needs are met at home may have higher productivity and take fewer sick days for themselves and their children.

Attain Self-Sufficiency. Food stamp benefits supplement the food budgets of low income workers so they can stay independent and work toward self-sufficiency.

 

Helping States and Local Communities

Support Local Food Retailers. The average monthly food stamp benefit is approximately $200, which is spent in local grocery stores.

Generate economic activity. Every $5 in new food stamp benefits generates $9.20 in total community spending.

Support farms. On average, $1 billion of retail food demand by food stamp recipients generates 3,300 farm jobs.

Leverage Federal funds. Food stamp benefits are Federal funds. By increasing the number of people in the FSP, communities can bring Federal money into their States and communities.

 

For more information go to:

www.fns.usda.gov/fsp/applicant_recipients

Return to Top

 

Forage Management Basics Workshops

The Northeast Florida Beef & Forage Group (NFBFG) will offer a workshop on Forage Management Basics on Tuesday, March 4, at the Alachua County Extension Office, 2800 NE 39 Ave. in Gainesville from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Topics will include:

In addition, there will be a Pasture Management Field Day at the North Florida Research and Education Center - Suwannee Valley in Live Oak, FL, April 5, 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., to demonstrate techniques, products and equipment used during pasture establishment and management.

Please contact Cooperative Extension Director Cindy Sanders at 352-955-2402 to register. There will be a $10.00 registration fee which will include a meal and handouts.

Return to Top

 

County Event and Meeting Reminder

Free Business E-scrap Collection Event

Forage Management Basics Workshop

Alachua County Civic Education SerieS (ACCESS)

Return to Top

 

Commission Meeting Highlights

Presentations, Proclamations and Recognitions

Librarian Cindy Dorfeld-Bruckman accepted the proclamation declaring February 17-28, 2008 as “Engineers Week” in Alachua County, Florida.

Engineers Week.pdf

The Board proclaimed February 10-16, 2008 as “United Way 2-1-1 Week” in Alachua County, Florida.

The Board heard announcements by Mark Sexton , Communications Coordinator

The Board agreed that Chairman Long should get with Manager Reid to review the language in the FY 2008 Board’s Strategic Plan and Guiding Vision.

 

Public Hearings

The Board approved CPA-08-08: A Small Scale land use change amending the Future Land Use designation from Heavy Industrial land use to Tourist/Entertainment land use on approximately 1.88 acres

The Board approved transmittal to the State Department of Community Affairs - CPA-02-08: A request by Gerry Dedenbach of Causseaux, Hewett & Walpole, Inc., agent, for Gainesville Country Club, owners, for a land use change from Recreation to Medium Density Residential on approximately 24.99 acres

The Board approved of the plat for Provance Residential Subdivision.

The Board approved of the plat for Wilds Plantation Unit 4.

The Board approved the plat for the Porches Subdivision.

The Board approved ZOS-02-08: A request by the Einstein Montessori School to amend an existing Special Use Permit to allow a private school on approximately 2.9 acres on Archer Road

The Board approved ZOM-01-08: A request to amend an existing ‘PD’ (planned development) district (Arbor Greens PD) adding 3.8 acres to the existing PD and permitting non-residential uses.

The Board approved ZOM-19-07: A request to rezone approximately 30 acres located south of the Jonesville Activity Center from ‘BP’ (Business/professional) district to ‘R-1a’ (Single family residential) district.

 

Advisory Board Appointments

Ms. Willa Drummond was appointed to serve as Alternate on the Scenic Roads Advisory Committee, term ending May 2009.

Return to Top

 

Alachua County Advisory Boards

The Alachua County Commission is committed to citizen involvement on its 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.

Return to Top

 

Thank you for your continued interest in County Government!

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