August 15, 2008 edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government

 

This Issues Features:

County Commissioners cut ribbon on SW 24th Avenue Project
Sheriff and Property Appraiser races decided August 26
Self-Defense Class to Benefit Victim Services & Rape Crisis Center
Cabot-Koppers technical documents available online
Back to School vaccination guidelines for parents
What’s on Alachua County Talks?
KidCare available for uninsured children under age 19
Horticultural Extension Agent wins national Ag award
Students work for the County over the summer
Haile Plantation jogger makes donation to County
Retirees and disabled vets have unclaimed stimulus payments
New County Jail water reduction project is underway
Alachua County Advisory Boards

 

County Commissioners cut ribbon on SW 24th Avenue Project

The Alachua County Public Works Department is pleased to announce the completion of the SW 24th Avenue Project. County Commissioners and staff attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 12 at the roundabout on the corner of SW 24th Avenue and SW 38th Terrace. Speakers included Alachua County Manager Randall H. Reid, Alachua County Commission Chairman Rodney J. Long, and Public Works Assistant Director David Cerlanek.

SW 24th Avenue is a 1 mile east-west route between SW 34th Street and SW 43rd Street. A major portion of the roadway, 0.8 miles, was an unpaved limestone road and required continual maintenance. The SW 24th Avenue project included paving a two lane divided roadway with drainage improvements, landscape medians, bike lanes, sidewalks, decorative crosswalks, street lighting, a roundabout at SW 38th Terrace, a mast arm signal at SW 43rd Street and relocation of overhead utilities below ground.

In 1997 a group of Alachua County Citizens participated in the 20th Avenue Charrette and recommended the construction of a paved two-lane road along SW 24th Avenue from SW 43rd Street to SW 34th Street. The Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization endorsed the project as part of their Transportation Improvement Program in 1999. The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners supported the project and design of SW 24th Avenue began in 1999 and, after numerous modifications, was completed in 2006.

In addition to SW 24th Avenue, SW 38th Terrace was realigned, widened and paved to a two lane undivided roadway with a 12-foot-wide multi-use path. SW 20th Avenue was widened to accommodate a turn lane to SW 38th Terrace and included drainage improvements.

The cost to construct the project was $7,562,070.75. Construction began on April 2, 2007 and was substantially complete on July 31, 2008. The project was completed with minimal delays and under budget.

The project was funded by Campus Development Agreement, a Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Incentive Grant, Gas Taxes, and unused Debt Service Funds.

For more information, please contact the Alachua County Public Works Department at 352-374-5245.

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Sheriff and Property Appraiser races decided August 26

Some voters may be surprised when they see the Sheriff and Property Appraiser’s race on their August 26th Primary ballot. Normally during a Florida Primary Election, voters can only vote for candidates within their party affiliation or for non-partisan races and issues. However, because the winner of the Sheriff and Property Appraiser’s race will have no opposition in the November 4th General Election, they will appear on everyone’s ballot. This is known as a “Universal Primary Contest.”

“It is important that every voter make their voice heard in all elections especially in the August 26th Primary Election, as there are only two candidates in each race and the races for Sheriff, Property Appraiser and School Board District 2 and District 4 will be decided in the Primary. The County Judge Group 2 race, which also appears on all ballots, could be decided if one candidate receives more than 50% of the votes. If this does not occur, then the top two candidates will appear on the November ballot”, said Pam Carpenter, Supervisor of Elections.

Voters may continue to update their voter registration information, update their signature online, or register to vote for the November election at www.VoteAlachua.com. Voters may download the application, sign it, and mail it to the Supervisor of Elections Office at P.O. Box 1496, Gainesville 32602.

 

Vote Early

Weekdays

Monday, August 11 - Friday, August 15 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Monday, August 18 - Friday, August 22 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

 

Weekends

August 16 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

August 17 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

August 23 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Early Voting Ends

 

Early Voting Sites

Millhopper Branch Library

3145 NW 43rd Street, Gainesville

 

Tower Road Branch Library

3020 SW 75th Street, Gainesville

 

Supervisor of Elections Office

County Administration Building Location

12 SE 1st Street, Gainesville

 

Vote By Mail

To request an absentee ballot to vote by mail, please visit our website at www.VoteAlachua.com or call our office at (352) 374-5252. Requests can also be made in person, by mail or by fax. All requests for ballots to be mailed must be made no later than 5:00 PM on August 20, 2008.

If you have any questions or need additional information, contact the Supervisor of Elections Office at (352) 374-5252.

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Self-Defense Class to Benefit Victim Services & Rape Crisis Center

After a woman was attacked while jogging in Haile Plantation in May, the Gainesville Health and Fitness Center’s (GHFC) Women’s Center recognized that many Gainesville residents were needing to take action.

Shelly Barbic and the staff at the GHFC Women’s Center decided to provide a self-defense class open to women and girls in the community, not just members of GHFC, and they wanted the money raised during the class to go to the Alachua County Victim Services & Rape Crisis Center (VS&RCC).

Three classes have been offered so far, and the last class is scheduled for August 23. The $10 fee for the class will be donated to the Alachua County VS&RCC.

The Alachua County VS&RCC congratulates the staff at GHFC Women’s Center on the work they are doing to empower the community and raise awareness on safety, and they send sincere appreciation for the donation to their agency. So far, the GHFC Women’s Center has raised over $800 for the Alachua County VS&RCC.

The Alachua County Victim Services & Rape Crisis Center has been helping victims of crime since 1977. The agency offers a range of free and confidential services with an emphasis on supporting the victim’s full recovery. The donations made to the agency will go to fund medical exams for survivors of sexual assault, support groups for children and adult rape victims, non-traditional services that are not covered by victim’s compensation, and violence prevention programs.

For more information, or to register for the self-defense class, call the Gainesville Health & Fitness Center’s Women’s Center at 352-374-4634.

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Cabot-Koppers technical documents available online

Alachua County has provided citizens internet access to a library of selected technical documents concerning the Cabot-Koppers Superfund site. The public can now access these technical documents by using the following link in their internet browser:

https://govconnect.alachuacounty.us/sites/doc/epd

Alternatively, this Cabot-Koppers public view library can be accessed from the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department Cabot-Koppers Superfund site website by following the link to the library on the webpage:

www.alachuacounty.us/cabot-koppers

The public view Cabot-Koppers library contains only selected, recent technical documents and is not a complete public record of documents. Some technical documents are not available on this new website because of electronic file size or other factors. A more complete selection of technical documents concerning Cabot-Koppers Superfund site can be viewed in paper or electronic form at the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department offices. Please contact 352-264-6800 to schedule a file review.

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Back to School vaccination guidelines for parents

It seems as though summer has just begun, but students will be returning to school before we realize it. The Alachua County Health Department would like to advise parents and guardians that this coming school year brings about several new immunization requirements for all children Kindergarten through grade 12 entering and attending public and non-public school.

Students entering/attending Kindergarten will be required to have completed 2 doses of the Chickenpox vaccine. (This would also include any child who is retained in Kindergarten.) Both doses are to be documented on the DH 680, blue Certificate of Immunization.

All students in Kindergarten through grade 12 must now have 2 doses of Measles, 2 doses of Mumps and 2 doses of Rubella vaccine. These 2 doses must be documented on their DH 680, blue Certificate of Immunization. In the past, students were only required to have documentation of 2 Measles doses. Most students should have had the required doses, as they most likely received 2 MMRs (measles, mumps and rubella vaccine). Students coming from other states or countries sometimes only have documentation of 2 doses of Measles vaccine and one dose of Mumps/Rubella.

The Alachua County Health Department is asking parents to check their child’s shot record now and make an appointment with their medical provider if their child needs additional shots. Required shots are also offered free of charge at all Alachua County Health Department sites. The main office, located at 224 SE 24th St., Gainesville, offers a walk in clinic, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The phone number is 352-334-7950. The Alachua and High Springs clinics are by appointment only. The Alachua clinic can be reached at 386-462-2542 and the High Springs clinic can be reached at 386-454-2421. Please bring your child’s shot record with you.

The Alachua County Health Department will also be participating with the School Board of Alachua County’s “Back to School Fair” being held on Saturday, August 16, 2008 in the O’Connell Center located on the University of Florida campus. This event will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The goal of the Alachua County Health Department is to promote, protect, maintain and improve health and safety of all the citizens and visitors. For more information, call the Alachua County Health Department at 352-334-7950.

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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 to the right to view streaming video of the episodes.

Click to watch Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter discuss the current elections cycle.

Click to watch Dr. Stephen Mulkey discuss carbon sequestration, a technique for mitigating carbon in the atmosphere.

Click to watch County Engineer Dave Cerlanek give viewers an update on County road projects.

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KidCare available for uninsured children under age 19

During the month of August, the Alachua County Health Department is promoting Florida KidCare, the state health insurance program for uninsured children under age 19. Displays have been set up for residents to complete applications with available staff assistance at the Alachua County Health Department (224 S.E. 24th St., Gainesville) and the Health Department satellite clinics in the cities of Alachua (15530 N.W. US Highway 441) and High Springs (245 N.W. 2nd St.). The Health Department will also be on hand to assist citizens at the back-to-school event being held at the O’Connell Center on August 16, 2008, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Some of the services Florida KidCare covers are doctor visits, check-ups, shots, hospital visits, surgery, prescriptions, emergencies, vision, hearing, dental, and mental health.

There are several ways to apply for Florida KidCare:

Call 1-888-540-5437 to request an application or update your information if you’ve applied before

Apply online at www.floridakidcare.org

Print and mail an application from www.floridakidcare.org/print-application.html

Stop by one of the Alachua County Health Department locations

KidCare information has been disseminated to local medical providers, pre-K programs and Head Start. The School Board of Alachua County will mail information to the home of each student. The Health Department coordinates with the Florida Department of Children and Families on any applicants encountering problems.

The goal of the Alachua County Health Department is to promote, protect, maintain and improve health and safety of all the citizens and visitors.

For more information, please visit www.floridakidcare.org call Florida KidCare at 1-888-540-5437, or call the Alachua County Health Department at 352-334-7900.

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Horticultural Extension Agent wins national Ag award

Wendy Wilber was recognized in Greensboro, NC on July 15, 2008 at the National Agricultural Agents Conference as a National Finalist for her monthly newsletter, “Gardening Tips” . Wendy is the Urban Horticulture Extension Agent at the Alachua County Extension Office, Community Support Services Department. This newsletter is sent to homeowners and gardening enthusiasts here in Alachua County. Cindy Sanders is the Alachua County Extension Director, she also serves as the National Vice Chair of the Communication Awards for the National Agricultural Agents Association, therefore was present in Greensboro to present Wendy with her award. Check out the newsletter here:

http://alachua.ifas.ufl.edu/lawn_and_garden/monthly_tips/index.shtml

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Students work for the County over the summer

Over the summer, Alachua County put teenagers to work as part of the Florida Works Program. Thirty-seven Alachua County teenagers ages 14-18 were employed for a total of 80 hours each over a 10 week period from June 10 to August 15. They worked in a variety of positions such as building mechanics, grounds keeping, warehouse inventory, and energy management.

Students were placed with Alachua County through Florida Works, a local non-profit organization that helps job-seekers find employment at no charge through job searches, career counseling, computer training, and transportation assistance.

George Kleckley, Facilities Readiness Specialist for the Facilities Management Division, who was one of the employees administering the program, commented on the students’ motivation. “Some students participate for the money to buy school clothes, some to stay busy during the summer, and some take part as a great learning experience.”

Kleckley also said, “We take pride in participating with Florida Works, who employs a large number of teenagers after school is out, to assist them in developing work ethics/skills for the future. In our summer program, students have each been assigned to a supervisor, and have their own special jobs. At the end of the students’ 80 hour work commitment, Facilities will honor each student at a special awards ceremony, and thank each of them for a job well done.”

For more information, contact the Administrative Services Department at 352-374-5219.

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Haile Plantation jogger makes donation to County

In an act of kindness and demonstration of compassion for fellow survivors of sexual violence, the woman who was beaten and sexually assaulted in May while jogging in Haile Plantation has made a financial donation of $10,000 to the Alachua County Victim Services & Rape Crisis Center. The woman plans to make an additional donation by year’s end once the final costs associated with her attack have been determined.

In the days and weeks following the assault, the survivor received a tremendous outpouring of love, sympathy, and support from the Gainesville community. In an additional show of support, a trust fund was established by concerned citizens to assist the victim with various costs associated with the attack. In a press release issued May 26 to TV 20 the family stated, “After paying for the expenses associated with the assault, the family plans to donate the remaining funds to our community’s rape crisis center.”

In making this donation, the Haile jogger hopes to ensure that sufficient financial resources are available to assist other survivors of sexual violence, particularly those who are not be able to pay for the costs associated with medical care and mental health services.

“Her desire to provide financial support for the Alachua County Rape Crisis Center shows that love and generosity can overcome the devastation that is left in the aftermath of a sexual assault,” said Loretta Golden, the Center’s director. “It also shows that one person truly can make a difference in the lives of others.”

The Alachua County Victim Services & Rape Crisis Center has been helping victims of crime since 1977. The agency offers a range of free and confidential services with an emphasis on support to the victim’s full recovery. Additional information on the center’s services can be found by visiting www.alachuacounty.us/government/depts/css/vicserv/ or calling 352-264-6760 or toll free (866) 252-5439.

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Retirees and disabled vets have unclaimed stimulus payments

The Internal Revenue Service has announced a new summer campaign to reach those retirees and disabled veterans who qualify for the economic stimulus payment but have not filed to claim it. New statistics released indicate about 74 percent in this group are accounted for in the stimulus payments currently being sent, leaving about 5.2 million potential recipients remaining.

For all taxpayers, the IRS has issued 76.1 million payments worth $63.8 billion based on 2007 tax returns processed so far. The agency expects to issue 124 million payments to Americans by year’s end. Eligible individuals are receiving up to $600 ($1,200 for married couples filing joint returns) plus $300 for eligible children younger than 17.

“The IRS has delivered. Only 70 days after the legislation became law, the IRS started putting the money in the hands of tens of millions of Americans. This summer, we will go the extra mile to help the remaining retirees and disabled veterans get their payments,” said Doug Shulman, IRS Commissioner.

A special stimulus category includes recipients of certain benefits from Social Security and Veterans Affairs who do not normally have a requirement to file a tax return. However, these individuals must file a tax return before Oct. 15 this year to receive their economic stimulus payments. The IRS has accounted for 74 percent of Social Security and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries out of about 20 million initially identified as being potential stimulus recipients. All but 5.2 million of those have been accounted for as either having filed a return, having filed a joint return, or as not being eligible for a stimulus payment (for example, they were claimed as a dependent on another’s return).

Most people only need to file a tax return as they normally do. The IRS will calculate eligibility and the payment amount. However, many retirees and veterans do not normally file a tax return because their benefits are not taxable. This year, they must file in order to receive an economic stimulus payment.

Shulman also stressed to retirees that receiving the stimulus payment should have no impact on other federal benefits currently being received. The stimulus payment is not taxable. Absent any other filing requirements, filing a tax return to receive a stimulus payment does not mean that retirees will have to start filing tax returns again.

The IRS has identified 5.2 million retirees and veterans beneficiaries who potentially are eligible for the stimulus payments. Later this summer, the agency will send them a special letter that explains stimulus payment eligibility and how to claim it. The letter will include a sample tax form and an actual tax form that people can complete and mail to the IRS. This will be the second special mailing to reach those individuals.

The agency also reminded people that it has more than 400 local Taxpayer Assistance Centers operating normal business hours Monday through Friday. These centers can provide assistance to retirees and veterans trying to receive their payments. A list for addresses and office hours can be found at “Contact My Local Office.”

“Some retirees and others who normally do not file a tax return may be eligible and not know it. And, that’s where we could use the public’s help as well. If you know of a retiree or a disabled veteran who might qualify, please pass along the information to them,” said Shulman.

The Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 generally provided for payments of $600 ($1,200 for married couples filing joint returns or the amount equal to the 2007 net income tax liability, whichever is less, ), plus $300 for each qualifying child. Payments also begin to phase out for individuals with adjusted gross incomes greater than $75,000 ($150,000 married couples filing jointly).

For people who have no tax liability or no tax filing requirement, there is a minimum payment of $300 ($600 for married couples), plus the $300 for each qualifying child. To be eligible for the minimum payment, individuals must have at least $3,000 in qualifying income. Qualifying income includes any combination of earned income, nontaxable combat pay and certain benefit payments from Social Security, Veterans Affairs and Railroad Retirement.

People not otherwise required to file an income tax return should file Form 1040A with basic information to ensure they receive the economic stimulus payment. This information includes name; address; dependents, if any; amount of qualifying income (which must be $3,000 or more); direct deposit information and signatures. Forms 1040A and instructions are available at the IRS Web site.

The types of Social Security benefits that are considered qualifying income include retirement, disability and survivor payments. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is not qualifying income. The types of Veterans Affairs benefits that are considered qualifying income include disability compensation, disability pension and survivor payments. Qualifying Railroad Retirement payments include the social security equivalent portion of Tier 1 benefits.

For more information, contact Alachua County Veterans Service Director Jim Lynch at 352-264-6740.

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New County Jail water reduction project is underway

The Facilities Division of the Alachua County Administrative Services Department has recently installed an ICON Water Reduction System at the Alachua County Jail. The newly installed ICON Water Reduction System includes:

Installation of waterless urinals to reduce water usage and maintenance cost

Replacement of existing 3.5 gallons-per-flush pneumatically controlled toilets with new electronically controlled 1.6 gallons-per-flush toilets containing security lock out controls

Replacement of controls and valves for lavatories and showers throughout the facility with tamper resistant timer controls that automatically perform shut off functions

The water reduction project was initiated by the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners when it adopted a County-wide Energy Reduction and Water Conservation Program in 2002. The County’s Support Service Group (SSG) headed by Alachua County Administrative Services Director Betty Baker lead the project and recommended to County Manager Randall H. Reid that staff submit this initiative to the Board for consideration. On May 13, 2008, the Commission approved a contract with Florida Power and Light and directed staff to accelerate the implementation of a major water conservation project at the County Jail.

This project is one of several water reduction initiatives approved by the Board designed to curb water usage in County facilities. Based on historical data, the jail is using an average of approximately 36 million gallons of water per year, costing nearly $230,000 for water and over $240,000 per year for natural gas to heat it. It is estimated that the ICON Water Reduction System will conserve between 16 and 17 million gallons of water per year, lowering utility bills by over $109,000 per year.

Charley Balanis, Alachua County’s Energy Management Specialist, commented, “The primary goal of this project is to reduce the consumption of water supplying a jail population varying between 900 and 1000 inmates. In addition, the County is expanding the jail by adding a 168-bed barrack facility, and because of this GRU assessed upgrading the existing sewer lift station to support the addition. However, the reduction in water consumption brought on by installing the ICON System will possibly eliminate the need to install a sewer lift station that could have cost the County an additional $275,000 on top of the $5.4 million barrack project.”

Charlie Jackson, Alachua County Facilities Manager stated, “What’s good for the environment is also good for the bottom line.”

For more information, please contact the Alachua County Facilities Division at 352-374-5229

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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.