April 25, 2008 edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government

 

This Issues Features:

Mill Creek opening ceremony and ribbon cutting held on Earth Day, April 22
Growth Management releases new online Code Enforcement Tracker for the public
Public update of Cabot-Koppers Superfund Site to be given by USEPA during special joint meeting
Tax Collector holds online Tax Certificate Sale
Guardian Ad Litem seeks volunteers
Public Works discusses inmate labor on SW 8th Ave
Splash Into Science Program concludes with hands-on water education event
Elections Office remains open during hotel construction
County Update TV on Community 12
Youth participate in Alachua County Youth Fair
What’s on Alachua County Talks?
County Event and Meeting Reminder
Commission Meeting Highlights
Alachua County Advisory Boards

 

Mill Creek opening ceremony and ribbon cutting held on Earth Day, April 22

The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners celebrated Earth Day with the opening of Alachua County Forever’s Mill Creek Preserve. A ribbon cutting ceremony to formally open the preserve was held on Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22 at the preserve.

Commissioners were joined by County Manager Randall H. Reid and staff of the Environmental Protection Department. After the ceremony, attendees hiked the trails.

Mill Creek Preserve was the first acquisition of the Alachua County Forever Program and will be the first preserve managed by the County. Alachua County Forever is the $29 million local land conservation program approved by the voters in 2000. To date, it has conserved over 13,000 acres.

For more information about Alachua County Forever and Mill Creek Preserve, please go to www.alachuacounty.us/government/depts/epd/land/ or call Ramesh Buch at 352-264-6800.

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Growth Management releases new online Code Enforcement Tracker for the public

The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Division of the Department of Growth Management has added a new GIS service to Growth Management’s website. Developed by Growth Management staff, the Geographic Code Enforcement Tracker (GeoCE) is a web-based application that allows both County staff and citizens of Alachua County to report code violations and track Code Enforcement activities in the field and office in real time.

GeoCE provides internet users access to all Code Enforcement information from 1994 to date for the first time. Previously, this information was not readily available to the public. Code Enforcement Officers in the field are able for the first time to access information via laptop computers as they perform their daily work. GeoCE allows County staff and other county local governments access to Code Enforcement data.

GeoCE can be accessed by following this link: http://maps.alachuacounty.us/geoce .

GeoCE users can view, query and download information on code violations. Searches can be made by parcel, address or Section Township Range. Queries and information can be obtained by violation type, violation category, frequency of violation, status of case, etc. GeoCE gives users the ability to create different types of maps online that are linked to the full County code violation history since 1994 with no need for GIS expertise or software. Users can also report code violations by following this link: http://cpd.alachuacounty.us/zoning/zoning_index.php .

GIS staff worked closely with its GIS users as well as Code Enforcement Officers in developing this service.

If any accommodations are needed for persons with disabilities, please contact the Equal Opportunity Office at 352-374-5275 or 352-374-5284 TDD.

Citizens who need assistance working with this new tool can call Juna Papajorgji, Alachua County Growth Management GIS Manager, at 352-384-3180.

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Public update of Cabot-Koppers Superfund Site to be given by USEPA during special joint meeting

A public update on the Cabot-Koppers Superfund Site will be provided on May 1, 2008 at 5:00 p.m. at a special joint meeting of the City of Gainesville and Alachua County Commissions in Room 209 of the County Administration Building located at 12 SE 1st Street, Gainesville. The update will be given by representatives of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Region 4. The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department and Gainesville Regional Utilities will present a brief overview of site issues of local interest. The purpose of the USEPA presentation is to update the Commissioners and the general public on the status of ongoing investigation activities and the progress and schedule for developing a remedial plan for the Koppers portion of the Cabot-Koppers Superfund Site. The Koppers Superfund site has groundwater and soil contamination of wood preserving chemicals.

USEPA will summarize the recent site investigation activities completed since 2001 that have helped to further characterize and define the depth and extent of contamination in the groundwater and soils on the Koppers Superfund Site. Site activities have entered a more intensive and critical stage in 2008 where technologies will be selected and risks will be defined as part of the USEPA proposing a Remedial Plan scheduled for the spring of 2009. Update on further investigations plans for the Cabot site will also be discussed.

Representing USEPA Region 4 will be Mr. Scott Miller, Remedial Project Manager and Mr. David Keefer, Chief, Section C, Superfund Remedial Branch. Representatives of Beazer East Corporation, and the Cabot Corporation , the principal responsible parties for clean-up of the Koppers and Cabot portions of the Superfund site respectively, will also be present. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will additionally have representatives at the presentation.

The meeting will be broadcast live on Community 12 TV and on Video on Demand on the Alachua County website. It will also be archived on the Video on Demand site for future viewing.

For more information contact Alachua County EPD Pollution Prevention Manager John Mousa at 352-264-6800.

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Tax Collector holds online Tax Certificate Sale

Alachua County Tax Collector, Von Fraser has announced that the 2008 Tax Certificate Sale for the 2007 delinquent real estate taxes will be held online. Since there will not be a live auction, all bids will be placed by registered bidders on the certificate sale website http://alachua.taxsale.com . This site is jointly hosted by the Alachua County Tax Collector and Bid4assets.

The bidding will begin Wednesday, May 14, 2008 and continue until the sale closes Friday, May 30, 2008 at 9:00 am EDST. Certificates will be awarded to those bidders entering the lowest bids. The Tax Collector’s office will provide computers for registered bidders who do not have internet access and want to participate in the tax certificate sale.

The tax certificate sale process ensures that a majority of the 2007 unpaid property taxes are collected and distributed to the various taxing authorities, allowing for the continuation of services. Last year’s sale netted $7,511,110.02 from the sale of 4,325 individual certificates.

Training for bidders and interested parties will be held Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 2:30 p.m. in the Jack Durrance Auditorium located in the County Administration Building, 12 SE 1st Street, Gainesville, Florida. Registration for training requires an RSVP to: cammie.joiner@actcfl.org . Please RSVP by April 24, 2008.

Please note the internet tax certificate sale will have a mandatory bidder deposit requirement. Since bidders will not be physically present the day of the auction, a 10% pre-deposit of total intended purchases will be required. Please see the Tax Collector’s website www.actcfl.org or attend training for detailed information regarding deposits and bidding.

The delinquent real estate advertisement will be published in The Gainesville Sun on May 14, 21, and 28. The advertising list is also available for download on the Tax Collector’s website.

To avoid a certificate being issued, property owners with delinquent taxes are advised to pay at any of the three Tax Collector’s Office locations before 5:30 p.m. May 29, 2008. Cash or certified funds are required.

For additional information, please visit the internet sale website at http://alachua.taxsale.com , the Tax Collector’s website www.actcfl.org , or call (352) 374-5236.

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Guardian Ad Litem seeks volunteers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guardian Ad Litem training consists of 30 hours of in class and on-line training sessions and 4 hours of dependency court observance, to become the voice for a child. The next volunteer training sessions will be May 29, June 2, 4, 10, 18. Classes are 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. Training is offered every other month.

For more information or to sign up, call Renee Marshall 352-374-3656 ext. 2238 or email her at renee.marshall@gal.fl.gov . Also visit the GAL Program’s websites at www.gal.alachuacounty.us . and www.gal.fl.gov .

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Public Works discusses inmate labor on SW 8th Ave

Alachua County is using Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) inmates to work on a sidewalk being built on SW 8th Avenue, which will stretch over 1/2 of a mile between the Cobblefield subdivision and SW 75th Street. Some local residents have voiced concerns over the use of inmate labor on the sidewalk.

Lewis King, Road Superintendent for the Alachua County Public Works Department, wants to allay these concerns. According to King, Alachua County has used DOC inmate labor for 20 years. To do so, the County must comply with a strict set of regulations.

The inmates are screened by DOC officials before they are allowed to participate in the County work release program. No violent offenders are accepted, and all participants are screened for drug use. The program only accepts inmates who are near the end of their sentences and offers them an incentive to work hard.

“The way the program works, they are given time off of their sentence for work in their community,” says King. “DOC calls it ‘Gaintime.’”

The inmates are housed in a DOC facility on SR 26, and are picked up each morning and dropped off each afternoon by County employees. The County uses a total of 35 inmates. They are separated into seven teams, with each team supervised by a DOC-certified County employee.

A DOC inspector visits each of the inmate crews once a day to inspect the work area and make sure the inmates are being well taken care of, have the proper safety equipment and are being properly supervised.

Since the program’s inception, there has been only one incident involving inmate labor. No citizens were injured and no public or private property was damaged.

“The inmates have to be within what is called sight and sound,” says King. “That means the supervisor has to be able to see and hear the inmates at all times.”

This helps prevent inmate contact with citizens. Other precautions taken by the County include moving work crews from school zones during appropriate hours and restricting inmates from entering any public facilities, including public rest rooms.

Additionally, inmate supervisors are required to contact DOC officials every 30 minutes with a current crew roll call and location.

Part of the motivation behind using inmate labor is cost. The County annually saves over $750,000 using inmates, and hopes to save over $50,000 alone during the building of the sidewalk.

Emanuel Baker, Supervisor 1 for the Alachua County Road and Bridge Office, and supervisor of one of the two crews working along SW 8th Avenue, thinks both the County and the inmates get a benefit from this partnership. The County gets extra laborers to help cut trees, maintain roads and lay concrete. The inmates get their own reward.

“They love coming out, getting away from the yard,” he says. “It’s almost like a vacation for them from the prison.”

Mr. King agrees, explaining that the inmates also learn valuable job skills they can use upon their release.

“Some of the inmates we have trained—we encourage them to stay in the area,” he says. “They can go on any construction job and basically do what we do.”

Mr. King estimates the sidewalk will be completed by the middle of May.

For more information call 352-374-5245.

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Splash Into Science Program concludes with hands-on water education event

A unique learning experience was recently created for Lake Forest Elementary School students and parents as they were exposed to the importance of conserving water and keeping pollution out of our waterways. The St. Johns River Water Management District Watershed Action Volunteers (WAV) Program designed and delivered the Splash into Science program in which WAVs visited each classroom to teach lessons ranging from “Don’t Teach your Trash to Swim” to “Waste Not Want Not.”

The program concluded with “Splash Night” on the night of March 6 when 175 students and parents braved the rain to enjoy dinner provided by the Clean Water Partnership (Alachua County, City of Gainesville, and Department of Transportation) and water related games and activities. One highlight was the “edible aquifer” in which ice cream, soda, and other treats were used to make delicious and educational models of where our drinking water comes. Stormwater Twister taught participants that pollutants like fertilizers and oils that go down the storm drain end up in our creeks.

City of Gainesville Nature Operations and Florida Wildlife Care made a lasting impression with the live animals they brought to remind folks of the critters that also depend upon the environment in which we all live. The Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center brought some antique cell phones and chemical containers to display the types of materials they collect from citizens to recycle. Gainesville Regional Utilities even had containers of sewage in various stages of treatment to demonstrate how they clean up our wastewater.

The WAV Program Science Splash Night occurs at a different Alachua County school each year. This event and other hands on learning experiences could not happen without the dedication of the WAV volunteers and the funding partners (Alachua County, Clean Water Partnership, and St. Johns River Water Management District).

To learn more about the WAV program and giving back to our community, contact Linda Krause at wavalachua@sjrwmd.com or 352-264-6826.

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Elections Office remains open during hotel construction

Although construction is well underway for a new hotel next to the office, the Supervisor of Elections Office is still open for business preparing for the fall elections.

As part of this construction project, S.E. 1st Avenue has now turned into a one-way street heading west and fencing has taken up some of the parking spaces around the Supervisor of Elections Office. Free two hour street parking is available, and there are two 30-minute spaces directly in front of the office.

The entrance to the office is not easy to find, but signs have been posted on the construction fences directing citizens and voters to the entrance of the Elections Office. The intention is to do everything possible to keep voters informed and aware of any changes and to make voting more accessible and convenient.

The Supervisor of Elections welcomes any suggestions to help better serve the citizens and voters of Alachua County.

Residents needing directions to the office especially during this construction period, please call 352-374-5252. Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

 

Important Elections Dates

Register to vote or change party by Jul. 28

Early Voting for Primary Election starts Aug. 11

Primary Election Aug. 26

Register to vote deadline Oct. 6

Early Voting for General Election starts Oct. 20

General Election Nov. 4

 

For more information, call 352-374-5252 or visit http://elections.alachuacounty.us .

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County Update TV on Community 12

County Update is a half hour news program providing citizens in-depth information on County programs, services and initiatives. County Update airs on Community 12 and the Video On Demand website.

Features This Month

Click here to watch.

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Youth participate in Alachua County Youth Fair

The 26th Annual Alachua County Youth Fair & Livestock Show was held March 28 - April 1, 2008 at the Alachua County Fairgrounds. This year, approximately 450 youth were involved in the youth Fair. Youth from 4-H and FFA organizations within the County came to exhibit their livestock and non-livestock projects. Project areas included: market steers, market hogs, market goats, rabbits, chickens, breeding beef, breeding goats, dairy, and non-livestock demonstrations/activities.

Some of the highlights of the Youth Fair included a Celebrity Milking Contest. This year the winner of this contest was our very own Von Fraser, Alachua County Tax Collector. He had stiff competition.

The Grand Champion Steer went to Tina Weber of Alachua; the Grand Champion Hog went to Dustin Atha of Micanopy. This year there was a large beef heifer show, with Tina Weber taking the Grand Champion with her Angus heifer. Whitney Hines exhibited her Grand Champion Mature Cow. Catherine Bowman and Megan Whitehurst took the top honors in the goat shows. Best of Show in the rabbit division went to Heather Green, and poultry Best of Show went to Ashley Massagee and Jeffery Kirby.

The last day of the fair all of the market animals are sold. This year, approximately 100 local businesses participated in the market animal sale. These 4-H and FFA youth are paid off for their hard work thanks to the help from local businesses and individuals. Without the support and sponsorships from individuals and businesses of the Alachua County Youth Fair & Livestock Show, this educational activity would not be possible.

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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 Clif Copeland, Public Affairs Specialist with the district Social Security Office, discuss Social Security issues.

Click to watch Angela Pate, Executive Director of the Florida Works Board discuss the Florida Works Program.

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County Event and Meeting Reminder

Cabot-Koppers Superfund Site special joint meeting

CHOICES Community Health Expo

14th Annual Recycled Latex Paint Giveaway

2008 Tax Certificate Sale online

Community Emergency Response Team

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Commission Meeting Highlights

Presentations, Proclamations and Recognitions

Announcements - Mark Sexton, Communications Coordinator

The Board proclaimed May 2008 as "National Drug Court Month" in Alachua County, Florida.

National Drug Court Month.pdf

The Board recognized the team of March of Dimes march for babies 2008 and their efforts. The team was lead by Eric Steele and the members were Chele Aulabaugh, Crystal Howard, Donna Murray, Sally Palmi, Matt O'Brien, Mary Neiberger, Mandy Nichols and Lori Hiebert.

The Board recognized the Fire Prevention Escape Plan Winners and Program Sponsors

The Board proclaimed April 27-May 3, 2008 as "Cover the Uninsured Week" in Alachua County, Florida.

Cover the Uninsured Week 2008.pdf

The Board proclaimed May 5-11, 2008 as "Building Safety Week" in Alachua County, Florida.

Building Safety Week.pdf

The Board proclaimed May 2008 as "Negro National League Month" in Alachua County, Florida.

Negro National League Month.pdf

The Board proclaimed April 2008 as "Library Appreciation Month" in Alachua County, Florida.

LibraryApprMo2008.pdf

The Board approved the award of Bid #08-366; Project No. 6311, Mill and Resurface of SW 8th Avenue from SW 122nd Street to SW 75th Street, to John C. Hipp Construction Company, in the amount of $2,016,430.48 (base bid plus Option B and Alternate 1), as the lowest responsive and responsible bidder meeting specifications and authorize staff to negotiate a contract. Amount: $2,016,430.48

08 366 FR.pdf

The Board heard a presentation on the FY07/08 Teen Zone at Kanapaha Middle School and Ft. Clarke Middle School. The Board directed the Manager to

1) coordinate w/stakeholders to identify funding beyond FY 07-08, 2) report back, Teen Zone 2007.ppt
Teen Zone 2007 Power Point Handout.pdf

The Board approved the award of Bid #08-365; Park Restrooms and an Interpretive Shelter, to Oelrich Construction, in the amount of $489,712.00, as the lowest responsive and responsible bidder meeting specifications and authorize staff to negotiate a contract. Amount: $489,712.00

08 365 FR.pdf

The Board approved theAlachua County State Fiscal Years (SFY) 2009-2011 State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) Local Housing Assistance Plan (LHAP) As staff recommended with modification to strike Pg 22 II HA 2nd sentence and Pg 24 IIH1F bullet 6. 2).They stipulated that the developer fee would be a grant not loan. The Board authorized the Chairman to sign a Resolution and to sign Certification to Florida Housing Finance Corporation attachment.

SHIP LHAP Board Approval Presentation.ppt
Alachua County SHIP Program LHAP Presentation April 22.pdf
SHIPLHAPFinal.pdf

The Board heard the County Manager's Report concerning structural problems At the historic Scott-Phifer House. The Board ask to refer the issue to the Historic Commissionand ask them to hold an emergency meeting for a specific recommendation to deconstruct the Scott-Phifer House Chimney in regards to funding and to determine the cost to deconstruct entire building. The Board made it clear that they are not willing to spend more than the $6,000 that remains in the project budget.

The Board asked that interested parties meet with the Manager to discuss acquisition/maintenance of the church property on the corner of SW 24 Ave. and Tower Rd for use as a Community Center. The Board asked the Manager for a cost estimate to build a similar building at Kanapaha Park. The Board asked the Manager to investigate the possibility of a universal insurance policy for community events at public school.

Th e Board convened as the Land Development Regulation Commission and found the proposed ordinance consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. The Board approved the ordinance adopting changes to the Alachua County Sign Code and other sections of the Unified Land Development Code.

LDRRevision6Ordinance042208.pdf
LDRRevision6_ExhibitA_42208.pdf
SignsDraft_42208.pdf
LDRRev6_Powerpoint_042208.ppt
ADVULD.pdf
LDRRev6_Powerpoint_042208.pdf

The Board adopted the Resolution to vacate a portion of the B. F. Hamptons plat.

ADVHamptons40808.pdf
BFHAMPTONS_PLAT_VAC_04222008.ppt
HamptonResoFinal.pdf
ADVHamptons40108.pdf

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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.

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Thank you for your continued interest in County Government!

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