December 17th edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government


This Issues Features:

ACEPD Deploys Citizen Based Smart Phone Applications
Composting 101 at the Downtown Farmers' Garden
What’s On “Alachua County Talks”
Pine Tar Removal From Creeks
Tax Collector's Office Collects Cell Phone for Soldiers
ACHD Awarded Dental Grant
New Mill Creek Trail Opens
Home Renovation Ribbon Cutting
January Extension Programs
Commission Meeting Highlights

ACEPD Deploys Citizen Based Smart Phone Applications

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (ACEPD) recently deployed two free applications for smart phones that empower citizens to help identify and report environmental problems in the County.

These smart phone applications include: What's Invasive (What's Invasive empowers citizens with smart phone to help the County map the location of invasive, exotic plants that are damaging local natural areas and farmland. Click here to read more), and Creek Watch (Creek Watch allows users to locate and report the present of trash and other pollution in area waterways. Click here for more information).

"This is amazing. Citizens can now use their smart phones to help Alachua County identify environmental concerns. Due to County budget cuts, we have less staff and resources available for environmental field response, creating a void that concerned citizens can help fill." said Chris Bird, ACEPD Director. "The smart phone applications we deployed for this purpose are currently available free of charge."

To report an environmental concern using a smart phone, the user opens the application, takes a GPS-tagged photo, sends the report to the host site for automatic data processing and mapping. Reported data is then compiled onto web-based maps for use by citizens and the County's Environmental Protection staff.

County staff is currently reviewing additional free smart phone applications. This smart phone technology works with cell phones to utilize the phone's Global Position System (GPS), high resolution cameras, web access, and data entry capabilities. This process, called, "Participatory Sensing" is a citizens based approach to data collection that involves citizens and community groups in the process of sensing and documenting where they work, live, and play.

Click here to read more about Participatory Sensing.

For more information, contact Chris Bird at 352-264-6801.

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Composting 101 at the Downtown Farmers' Garden

The Alachua County Sustainability Program and The Florida Organic Growers invite residents to attend a free composting workshop entitled "Composting 101" on Saturday, December 18, 2010, from 2p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Downtown Farmers' Garden located at the County Administrative Building (12 SE 1st Street, Gainesville).

Workshop schedule:
2 p.m. - 4 p.m. How to build a three-bin composter
4 p.m. - 5 p.m. Composting basics

"Compost is one of nature's best mulches and organic soil amendments. Best of all, compost is cheap." says Alachua County Sustainability Program Manager, Sean McLendon. "Using compost improves soil structure, texture, and aeration and increases the soil's water-holding capacity."

The Downtown Farmers' Garden is supported through community volunteers and a donation of the Downtown Rotary Club.  All food grown is given to the needy and local food banks.  As a teaching garden, youth groups and community organizations are encouraged to use the space to build awareness of good nutrition and the importance of local farming to the sustainability of our County.

Click here to find out more about the Downtown Farmers' Garden.

For more information, contact Sean McLendon at 352-548-3765.

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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 Angela Pate, Executive Director of FloridaWorks, the workforce board for Alachua and Bradford counties, provide a broad overview of the services provided by FloridaWorks that can assist citizens in finding employment.

Click here to watch Alachua County Environmental Protection Director Chris Bird discuss the Environmental Protection Department, its duties, programs, and the services it provides.

Click here to watch Alachua County Public Safety Director Ed Bailey discuss the Public Safety Department, its duties, programs, and the services it provides.

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Pine Tar Removal From Creeks

City of Gainesville and Alachua County officials have approved a voluntary plan by Cabot Corporation to begin clean-up and removal of pine tar deposits from segments of Springstead and Hogtown creeks beginning in January 2011.  The pine tar deposits are historical residue from a discharge from the former Cabot site that occurred 44-years ago.  The clean-up will focus on 17 isolated creek areas containing pine tar buried 18 to 24 inches underground, which were previously identified by the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (ACEPD).  The proposed locations for tar removal are identified in the attached FACT sheet map. 

"This is an interim removal plan to address areas of the creeks containing significant tarry deposits and address citizen concerns about potential contact with the deposits.  It is not the intent of this interim action plan to address all site related contamination in the creeks nor is this action the final Superfund remedy," said ACEPD Director Chris Bird.

The Cabot Corporation pine tar removal work plan has been reviewed and tentatively approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), ACEPD, and the City of Gainesville.

The work is expected to take one to two days at each clean-up area with a total project duration of approximately 7 to 8 weeks, weather permitting.  The clean-up is scheduled during a traditional period of dry weather when creek water levels are low.  Weston Solutions has been contracted by Cabot Corporation to perform the work.  Cabot and Weston Solutions will seek property access from affected property owners adjacent to the creek segments identified for tar removal during the next few weeks.

They are informing the public about the proposed work by providing a fact sheet describing the project and a frequently asked questions list.  The fact sheet will be distributed to the property owners near creek work areas and to residents who have been identified by the various mailing lists maintained by the EPA, City of Gainesville, and Alachua County.  Once finalized, the work plan and fact sheet and other project details will be made available to the public on the City of Gainesville and the Alachua County websites.

Click here to view Fact Sheet and map.

Click here to view the Frequently Asked Questions.

General questions about the proposed work can be directed to:

Detailed questions about the proposed work plan can also be directed to: 


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Tax Collector's Office Collects Cell Phone for Soldiers

The Alachua County Tax Collector's office, with the help of the citizens of Alachua County, has collected over 9,231 used cell phones for the Cell Phones for Soldiers program. Through this project, cell phones are sent for recycling and the money raised helps Cell Phones for Soldiers buy calling cards for military personnel.

The Tax Collector's Office has a goal of collecting 10,000 cell phones by the end of 2010.

Cell phones, accessories, chargers, batteries, Blackberry PDA's and pagers may be dropped off at any of these locations during normal business hours.

Representatives of the Tax Collector's office have been attending the meetings of the Military Support Group of Alachua County to give them the calling cards to be included in the care packages sent to the troops.

If citizens know of a military person in need of a care package, contact the Military Support Group of Alachua County at

For more information, click here or contact the Tax Collector's office at 352 337-6228 or 352 264-6935.

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ACHD Awarded Dental Grant

The Alachua County Health Department (ACHD) will receive funds from the DentaQuest Foundation to support an Oral Health Coalition. The Coalition will consist of community representatives including: ACHD, University of Florida College of Dentistry, School Board of Alachua County, Alachua County Dental Society, Santa Fe College, Alachua County Department of Community Support Services, United Way of North Central Florida, and other community members, including providers of oral health services.

The Coalition will conduct a needs assessment which will include use of available data, as well as collection of new data. The project will include a survey with low-income adults regarding their access to services, perceived needs, and experiences, as well as a screening survey of children. Based on the results of the needs assessment and a review of best practices of other communities, the Coalition will develop an Oral Health Plan for Alachua County.

This grant will benefit citizens of Alachua County by helping develop an understanding of the oral health needs and resources of residents. Like the rest of Florida, Alachua County has no surveillance system. However, the Alachua County Needs Assessment included a phone survey of 400 households, conducted in the winter of 2009, which queried county residents about health issues. Over 40% said paying for dental care was difficult, and 13.5% of the 400 respondents ranked access to dental care as the biggest health-related problem in the County.

Frank Catalanotto, DDS, Chair of the UF Department of Community and Behavioral Dentistry, said, "Toothaches are one of the top reasons for children to miss school. We estimate 200 or more children a year are actually admitted to the hospital for a life-threatening dental infection in the State of Florida."

The 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) reported 22.9% of Alachua County adult residents were unable to see a dentist in the prior year because of cost. The data show that access is worse for minorities and those with lower socioeconomic status, and lower than comparable state rates. The 2002 BRFSS found that 38.9% of adults had lost at least one tooth due to disease. The data, again, suggest that tooth loss was worse among adults with low income and low educational status.

For more information, contact ACHD Director of Program Development, Diane Dimperio at 352-334-8814.

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New Mill Creek Trail Opens

Alachua County's Environmental Protection Department, Land Conservation Division announces the opening of a new hiking trail at Mill Creek Preserve. The 1,230-acre Mill Creek Preserve, the first property acquired through the Alachua County Forever Program, was opened to the public in April 2008. The new trail traverses scenic hardwood hammock forest, pineland, and crosses tributaries of Townsend Branch Creek.

Speaking of the new trail, Land Conservation Manager Ramesh Buch said, "Lofty trees and a quiet setting accompany the walker into the heart of the preserve where visitors can see the southernmost population of American beech trees, observe wildlife, and take advantage of splendid hiking weather."

Features of the trail include a 2.5 to 3 mile loop depending on the path taken, with benches, interpretive signs and a unique pedestrian bridge with designs by local artist and metal sculptor John Patterson. Keeping fiscal integrity and resource efficiency in mind, much of the trail system's amenities have been creatively constructed from recycled material, local stone, and logs of non-native invasive trees. Additional savings came from utilizing labor from UF interns, volunteers, and court appointed community service workers. In the near future, this trail will also include a botany walk with labeled trees.

To view the Mill Creek Preserve Brochure, click here.

A guided walk along the new trail will be lead by Alachua County staff on Saturday, January 22, 2011 from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Walkers will meet north of the City of Alachua in the Mill Creek Parking lot located on the south side of CR 236 ¼ mile west of the intersection of CR241 and CR236.

To sign up for the guided walk or for more information contact Alachua County Senior Environment Specialist, Kelly McPherson at 352-264-6848 or

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Home Renovation Ribbon Cutting

The Alachua County Growth Management Department held a Ribbon Cutting at the home of Effie Theus on Thursday, December 16. The ribbon cutting marked the completion of improvements to her home, which were made possible by the combined effort of Alachua County Growth Management, Alachua Habitat for Humanity, and Alachua YouthBuild.

The improvements were needed because of serious code violations on her property, including an electrical hazard. A site visit by County Housing Programs Office staff revealed that the household had no heating or cooling, and problems with roofing, septic system, electrical and plumbing systems. She was unable to afford the improvements, and risked losing her home of nearly 50 years. The County utilized funds from the State's Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP), as well as Habitat for Humanity's volunteers to correct the problems.

Rick Wolfe, Assistant Director for Growth Management for the County explained, "We were able to look for other avenues. In this case, through grants, assistance, and collaboration with Alachua Habitat, and we were able to make the home safe."
Habitat for Humanity's local Executive Director, Scott Winzeler commented, "We were happy to provide assistance. With our experience and our volunteers, we were able to fulfill our mission - helping families in need."

A key contributor to the volunteer force were students from Alachua YouthBuild, a program managed by the Florida Institute for Workforce Innovation. YouthBuild targets out-of-school youth between the ages of 18-22 that lack a high school diploma/GED and would like assistance attaining educational, occupational and leadership skills enabling them to become economically self-sufficient. While partnering with Habitat, YouthBuild participants not only learned construction but gave back to their community with their newly acquired construction skills.

Click here for more information about Alachua Habitat for Humanity.

For more information, contact Tom Webster, Housing Programs Manager, Alachua County Growth Management at 352-337-6285, or Scott Winzeler, Executive Director, Alachua Habitat for Humanity at 352-378-4663.

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January Extension Programs

All of these programs are held at the Extension Office (2800 NE 39th Avenue, Gainesville).

Commercial Horticulture Programs

Green Industries Best Management Practices Workshop January 20, from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
This workshop is designed to provide training in Best Management Practices for anyone working in the lawn, landscape, pest control, or municipal grounds areas. This is a required training class for all commercial and institutional fertilizer applicators in Alachua County according to the Alachua County Fertilizer Standards and Management Practices Code.

Cost $25.00 (includes materials and lunch). Pre-register by January 18th.

Integrated Pest Management Update January 25, from 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
This statewide video conference is designed to provide training in Pest Management Updates for anyone working in the lawn, landscape, pest control, or municipal grounds areas. CEU's will be awarded.

Cost to attend this class is $5.00. Pre-register by January 21st.

Private Applicator Pesticide License Workshop January 26, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
This workshop is designed to provide training in practices related to Private Applicator Pest Control License for anyone working in the agricultural industry.

Registration fee is $10.00 per person. Please pre-register by January 21st. A complete brochure with registration form can be found at: .

For more information contact Aparna Gazula, Commercial Horticulture Agent, 352-955-2402.

Family & Consumer Sciences Programs

Building Your Financial Future January 13, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Attendees will learn basic concepts that will aid in handling financial resources responsibly and building a financially secure future.  This program has been approved to issue certificates evidencing completion of a personal financial management instructional course in compliance with the Bankruptcy Code. You must bring your case number with you.

Cost to attend this class is $10.00 (cash only) for course materials. Pre-register by January 7 by calling 352-955-2402.

Food Safety and Quality Program (ServSafe®) January 19, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This program provides training which enables food managers and staff to offer Florida consumers food that is prepared in a clean and safe environment.

For further information and to register, please visit, or call toll-free at 1-888-232-8723.

Before You Tie the Knot January 24 & 31, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Before You Tie the Knot is a premarital preparation course.

Completion of this course is required to receive a $32.50 reduction of marriage license. Attendees will receive a certificate of completion and a copy for the Clerk of the Court. There is no cost to attend this two evening class. Pre-register by January 19 by calling 352-337-6209.

Equipping Your Financial Toolbox Series
There is no cost to attend these classes. Pre-register one week in advance for one or all sessions by calling 352-337-6209.

For more information about these programs call 352-955-2402. Visit for additional programs offered by the Extension Office.

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Commission Highlights

Announcements by Mark Sexton Communications Coordinator

Health Care Board
The Board extended the sunset date for the Health Care Board from December 31, 2010 to December 31, 2018.
HCAB Resolution 2010 FINAL.pdf
HCAB Resolution 2010 TRACKED.pdf

2011 Alachua County Legislative Program
The Board Adopted the 2011 Alachua County Legislative Program.

Community Service Work Crew Proposal
The Board viewed a presentation on the Community Service Work Crew Proposal for the New Normal and directed staff to flesh out the program and report back.

 County Manager’s Report
Amount: N/A
Recommended Action: Accept County Manager’s Report

Compassionate Outreach Ministries Church Day
The Board proclaimed December 18, 2010 as “Compassionate Outreach Ministries Church Day” in Alachua County, Florida.
Compassionate Outreach Ministries.pdf

Non-ad Valorem Assessments
The Board held the Public Hearing and adopted the Resolution of Intent to use the uniform method of collecting non-ad valorem assessments for collection, disposal, recycling and management of solid waste throughout Alachua County and for community maintenance in the Sugarfoot Oaks/Cedar Ridge Preservation and Enhancement District for Fiscal Year 2011-12.

South Pointe Planned Development
The Board approved the Replat of the Recreation Area, South Pointe Planned Development, Phase I, Unit IV.

Special Use Permit
Board approved the item to renew an existing special use permit for an excavation and fill operation on SW Archer Road and approve Resolution Z-10-18
Adjacent Surface Waters Map.pdf
Florida Department of Environmental Protection Permit.pdf
ZOS0610 Powerpoint Presentation.pdf
Resolution for ZOS0610.pdf
ZOS0610 Staff Report.pdf
County Application.pdf
Gopher Tortoise Survey.pdf
Soils Map.pdf
Waste Pro Aerial.pdf
ERA Checklist Plant Species Report.pdf
Special Use Permit Justification Report.pdf
Waste Pro Topographic.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:

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.