November 25 edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government

 

This Issues Features:

Public Safety Director Chief Will Gray May Announces Retirement
Mill Creek Nature Preserve Viewing Area Seating Completed
Turkey Frying/Thanksgiving Safety
Alachua County Cooperative Extension Service
What’s On “Alachua County Talks”
West University Ave. Sidewalk Project
Health Department Seeks Information on Animal Attack
County Update on Channel 12
Trashformations Winners
Florida 4-H Turns 100
Commission Meeting Highlights

 

Public Safety Director Chief Will Gray May Announces Retirement

Alachua County Manager Randall H. Reid announced on Monday, November 16th that he had received a retirement memo from Public Safety Director Chief Will Gray May. In the memo Chief May stated, “… I am formally announcing my intention to retire from my position with Alachua County as the Director of Public Safety effective January 31, 2010. The last 34-plus years serving in the Fire and Emergency Services agencies of Alachua County and Gainesville have been both enjoyable and rewarding to me. I now look forward to a more relaxed schedule in retirement that will include travel, more time with my family, and continued policy and program work in both fire and emergency services.”

To view Chief May’s retirement memo click here.

Speaking of Chief May Reid said, “Chief May is leaving a legacy of efficient management and professional public service serving not just Alachua County residents but the residents of the many places around the country he has volunteered to be deployed as a part of our contribution to national emergency management and relief efforts. To call him just Fire Chief may be a term of respect but his responsibilities in the arena of emergency management over the past decade are his overwhelming contribution and unseen by the public at large. Chief May is a dependable leader in an emergency. He shines. You get to know a person real well in the many hours at the Emergency Operations Center when you are a part of a team preparing to get hit by a hurricane that could cause loss of life or alter your community’s future.”

Chief May was born in Alachua General Hospital and grew up in Gilchrist County/Trenton, on a farm.

Everyone in Alachua County government sends the Chief best wishes for his retirement.

An appreciation event is planned for January, in recognition of his service to the County.

For more information call the Alachua County Communications Office at 352-374-5204.

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Mill Creek Nature Preserve Viewing Area Seating Completed

The long awaited completion of the Alachua County Forever (ACF) Mill Creek Nature Preserve marsh wildlife viewing seating has been completed. The project was designed and led by ACF Environmental Specialist Kevin Ratkus and installed with assistance from ACF Environmental Specialist Bob Kennedy and Community Service Workers from the Alachua County Court Services Department. The new area provides hikers a resting spot with a view of the marsh and the open sky above the marsh. It is also set up to provide a location for a relaxed in-depth discussion about the Preserve when we lead a group of visitors on a hike from the trailhead/parking lot to the marsh. The walk can then continue through the rest of thepreserve.

Notes about the materials used:

This project is consistent with the ACF Program’s efforts to be more resource efficient by making use of invasive exotic species like the Camphor trees (making lemonade out of lemons), donations, locally available resources and free labor. It also visually blends into the surroundings. This project is the first of its kind for us and a bit of an experiment. Please send us any comments.

For more information, click here or call 352-264-6800.

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Turkey Frying/Thanksgiving Safety

The following tips are designed to ensure our citizens have a safe and enjoyable holiday season. 

Thanksgiving is a time of celebration and cooking as millions of people across the United States come together to share food and good cheer.  A variation of cooking the traditional Thanksgiving turkey has gained in popularity in recent years.  Deep frying a turkey can be done safely, but there are some safety tips that should be followed.  Post the following deep frying tips near your favorite deep frying turkey recipe.
  
• Oil inside turkey fryers can overheat, splash onto the fryers’ open flame and gnite causing house fires and property damage.
• Fryers overfilled with oil may spill when the turkey is placed into the cooking pot causing severe burns and possibly starting a fire that can swiftly engulf the entire fryer and spread.
• Turkey fryers should always be used on a flat surface, outdoors and at a safe distance from buildings
• Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks or in garages.  It can be tempting to fry your turkey on the porch if the weather is inclement, but this is very dangerous and can result in a house fire which could ruin your holiday
• Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls, so you must watch the fryer carefully to keep an eye on the oil temperature.  Remember that the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire 
• Generally, it is best to keep the temperature at 350°F.  If any smoke at all is noticed coming from a heating pot of oil, the oil is overheated and the burner should be turned off immediately.  According to the National Turkey Federation, cooking oils with high smoke points should be used when frying turkeys.  Peanut oil, which has the highest smoke point (425°F) is highly recommended
• Keep children and pets away from the fryer when in use. Even after use, bear in mind that the oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot for hours after use.
• To avoid oil spillover and splashing, do not overfill your fryer and be extremely careful when lowering your turkey into the pot
• Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles and wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
• Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water don’t mix, and water may cause the hot oil to spill over, igniting a fire or even creating an explosion hazard.
• Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby and know how to use it
• Never use water to extinguish an oil or grease fire and mmediately call 9-1-1 for help if a fire should occur

Thanksgiving is just a week away and extensive cooking can result in kitchen fires and other dangerous mishaps like burns and scalds. Serving a traditional turkey requires extra attention to safety.  The following tips are meant to lessen the chance of common holiday accidents or injuries occurring in your home. 
• Start your holiday cooking with a clean stove and oven.
• Turn pot handles toward the rear of the stove.
• Don’t wear dangling jewelry or clothing with loose sleeves when cooking. Sleeves can catch on fire and jewelry can snag on pot handles causing spills in addition to severe scalds and burns.
• Nearly 50% of house fires across the nation start in the kitchen, so never leave your cooking unattended, even for a moment.
• Have a working fire extinguisher nearby and know how to use it.
• In the event of a fire or medical emergency, always call 9-1-1.
As Thanksgiving approaches, The Alachua County Department of Public Safety and Gainesville Fire Rescue encourages everyone to have a safe and happy holiday. For more information concerning fire safety or fire prevention, call 352-384-3101.  

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Alachua County Cooperative Extension Service

The Alachua County Cooperative Extension Service is a partnership funded both by the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners under the Community Support Services Department and the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Cooperative Extension, established by the Smith-Lever Act in 1914, was designed as a partnership of the USDA and the land-grant universities. State legislation enabled local governments in each county to become the third legal partner of this educational endeavor. The Alachua County Cooperative Extension Service has been educating citizens of Alachua County for over 100 years. Education is our business. Our mission includes, “…to aid in diffusing among the people of the United States useful and practical information on subjects relating to agriculture, home economics, and 4-H youth development…”.

It is important to remember that while some of us spend the lion’s share of our time in the urban areas, Alachua County has large rural sections. Agriculture is an important and viable industry in Alachua County, bringing in approximately $92 million dollars per year in sales of crops and livestock, based on the 2007 Census of Agriculture.

Educational programming at the Alachua County Cooperative Extension goes far beyond livestock. We provide programming in the areas of home horticulture and gardening, commercial horticulture, family youth and consumer sciences, agriculture and natural resources, and 4-H youth development. The office currently has 300 volunteers, donating time as Master Gardeners, 4-H leaders, school garden educators, and home educators. Our Extension Agents provide services in organic gardening, financial management, protecting our natural resources, and youth development in one of the largest youth organization in the United States, 4-H.

I would encourage citizens of Alachua County who are not familiar with the educational opportunities that we offer to visit our website at http://alachua.ifas.ufl.edu . Most of our programs are free.

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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.

Click here to watch Gretchen McIntyre, co-founder of the “Food Co-op Project” in Alachua County and Maya Garner, co-founder of the “Kitchen Incubator Project” in Alachua County discuss the benefits of these projects to local food growers and producers, small businesses, and the community at large.

Click here to watch lachua County Purchasing Manager Larry Sapp discuss County purchasing philosophy, policy and procedures, including discussions on how businesses can learn about and compete for County contracts.

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West University Ave. Sidewalk Project

Alachua County Public Works is scheduled to begin the West University Avenue Sidewalk Project, which will construct a six foot wide concrete sidewalk along the south side of the road right-of-way, starting at the east side of SW 75th Street (Tower Road) and proceeding to the east to terminate at Castle Drive. Construction is to commence on Monday November 30, 2009, and is expected to be completed in four months.

The sidewalk will be half a mile long and will provide for safe pedestrian travel along West University Avenue.

This project is funded by the additional local option gas tax fund.

For more information, contact Ron Folmer with Alachua County Public Works at 352-374-5245 ext. 245 or rfolmer@alachuacounty.us.

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Health Department Seeks Information on Animal Attack

The Alachua County Health Department is investigating a reported attack by a wild animal on a twelve year old male. The incident allegedly occurred between the 3700 and 5100 blocks of SW 13th Street (US HWY 441 South) in the early evening hours of Tuesday, November 17, 2009. The report alleges that the victim was attacked while riding his bicycle and then defended himself by killing the animal with a brick.

The Health Department is asking that anyone with information regarding this or any other similar event along SW 13 Street to contact the Anthony Dennis at the Alachua County Health Department at 352-258-0257.

“We are concerned about the potential for rabies transmission to the victim” stated Anthony Dennis, Environmental Health Director. “A dead coyote was found in the vicinity of the alleged attack and test results were unsatisfactory.”

Rabies is a viral disease transmitted through the saliva of an infected mammal. If not treated promptly, it almost always results in death.

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

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County Update on Channel 12

County Update is a half hour news program providing in-depth information on County programs, services and initiatives. County Update airs on Community 12 and the Video On Demand website. Click here to view this month’s show.

Features This Month

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Trashformations Winners

The eleventh annual “Trashformations” student recycled art competition was held the evening of Friday, November 20, 2009, at the Florida Museum of Natural History. This year 48 entries were received. All artwork entered in the contest was comprised of 70% or more recycled/recyclable/reused materials.

The Alachua County Office of Waste Alternatives and the Florida Museum of Natural History are pleased to announce this year’s winners:

Cash prizes were awarded for winning entries in each category. Gift certificates were given to artists receiving honorable mention and donated by Central Florida Office Plus.

The winning art will be on display at the Florida Museum of Natural History wthrough December 6.

For more information, contact the Alachua County Office of Waste Alternatives at 352-374-5213.

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Florida 4-H Turns 100

The Alachua County 4-H Program has played a significant role throughout the history of Florida 4-H and the University of Florida. In 1862 and 1890 the federal government gave thousands of acres of land to each state to support agricultural colleges. In turn, the colleges were to perform agricultural research and teach agriculturalists and farmers new and innovative practices.

However, there was a problem. Farmers were not adopting the new agricultural practices. Youth and children were then targeted to learn these new practices. The first youth clubs in Florida were ‘corn clubs’. Alachua, Bradford, and Marion counties were the first counties to have a 4-H program in Florida. 4-H’ers have represented our 4-H program well, with many members winning state and national events, earning scholarships, and participating on the 4-H State council. There are 15 clubs in Alachua County with almost 1,000 Alachua County youth participating in 4-H. Over 200 adults volunteer with the Alachua County 4-H program, donating 4,000 hours annually.

To mark the Centennial birthday of Florida 4-H, Alachua County 4-H members participated in the 2009 UF Homecoming Parade. Over 40 4-H’ers and volunteers helped prepare the float. The float featured the major project areas of Alachua County 4-H: food preparation, sewing, livestock, horse, gardening, health and safety, and technology. Happy Birthday Florida 4-H.

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Commission Highlights

Announcements
The Board heard announcements by Mark Sexton. Communications Coordinator
Attachments:
Announcements

Regional Block Grant Application
The Board
heard the presentation on the preparation of a regional block grant application to enhance energy conservation, train a green collar workforce, and prime new work in the construction community.  They encouraged Alachua County Sustainability Manager Sean McLendon to move forward with the application.

The Board authorized the County Attorney to coordinate the County’s participation as a named party plaintiff in a lawsuit against the State of Florida challenging the enactment of House Bill 227 regarding impact fee legislation.
Attachment: 
ImpactFeeHB227.pdf

Inmate Medical Care
The Board heard the update on Inmate Medical Care negotiations with local hospitals.  They instructed staff to move forward with the negotiated contract with North Florida Regional Medical Center and instructed the Manager to arrange a meeting with top Shands officials to work on similar pricing agreement,

Hunger Abatement Plans
The Board heard the Community Service Group’s recommendations that the County implement all the Hunger Abatement Plan (HAP) recommendations directed to County Government with the exception of the recommendation regarding Public Works/Fleet Management, and directed the Manager to proceed with implementation of the remaining HAP recommendations directed at County Government.
Attachment: 
HAP CSG for BOCC Nov 24 2009.pdf

Airboat Curfew
The Board conducted a public hearing and considered adopting an ordinance imposing a curfew on the nighttime operation of airboats.  Two motions did not reach the needed 4-1 vote and failed.

Attachment: 4_AirboatEmailfromSheriff.pdf
Attachment: 
5_AirboatReportandResearch.pdf
Attachment: 
1_AirboatHBexcerpt.pdf
Attachment: 
2_AirboatAGopinion.pdf
Attachment: 
3_AirboatCurfew.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.