May 31st edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government

 

This Issues Features:

Plum Creek Foundation Grant
National HIV Testing Day
County Participating in “Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days” Event
Celebrating Older Americans During the Month of May
What’s On “Alachua County Talks”
Foster Grandparents “Rock the Chair”
Crisis Center Offers Rape Trauma Support Group
June Extension Programs
Commission Highlights

Plum Creek Foundation Grant

The Environmental Protection Department’s 2013 grant application to the Plum Creek Foundation has been funded.  The Foundation will provide $10,000 each of the next three years towards with each award going to offset the costs of a different recreational access projects. The projects are a Sweetwater Preserve pedestrian bridge, funded in 2013; the Barr Hammock Preserve trailhead boardwalk in 2014; and a vehicular bridge at the Turkey Creek Hammock Preserve in 2015.

Sweetwater Preserve was acquired through the voter-approved Alachua County Forever (ACF) Program in 2006 and opened to the public in 2008 for hiking, biking and nature appreciation.  It has the highest visitation of all ACF Preserves due to its accessibility to town and its adjacency to the Downtown Connector of the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail.  Sweetwater Branch flows through the property ending up in Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. Unfortunately there is no bridge over Sweetwater Branch, therefore the Preserve is separated into two sections with separate trailheads and trail systems.  The East Trail is accessible from the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail and the West Trail is accessible from Williston Road and SE 16th Avenue.  Funding this project will assist the County build a bridge over Sweetwater Branch connecting both portions of the Preserve, providing a safer, more enjoyable visitor experience. The bridge will increase pedestrian use of the preserve and provide a user-friendly bicycle route for commuters and recreationists.  The County posted questionnaires at both trail heads in the spring of 2012 asking visitors if they would support having a bridge over Sweetwater Branch; 705 of 706 people responded positively to the survey as of January 19, 2013.  The balance of the funding for this and the other projects comes from the 10% set-aside of the ACF bond referendum that can only be used for initial capital improvements.

The bridge will eliminate a security problem for Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.  The State Park has a bridge over Sweetwater Branch immediately south of the Sweetwater Preserve Boundary.  Historically trespassers cut the fence to use the State Park bridge to cross Sweetwater Branch.  This is a problem for the State Park because breaches in the fence may allow large animals, such as bison, Cracker Ponies and Cracker Cattle, to access Williston and Waldo Roads potentially causing chaos and possibly accidents.  Staff are working with the project’s architect on the final plans at this time, but the conceptual design includes a 4-foot wide by 57-foot long arched bridge.  The bridge is required to be this long so its landing foundations are safely set back from the creek bank and not be endangered by erosion and peak storm flow.

Barr Hammock’s main trailhead is expected to open early 2015 and will service the 6,000-acre Barr Hammock Preserve from SW 175 Ave/CR 234. The northern tract was opened this past February with access from Wacahoota Road and has seen tremendous visitor use. The grant will be used for the design, permitting and construction of a 4-foot wide by approximately 340-foot long pedestrian boardwalk that will provide initial access to the main body of the Preserve from the trailhead over a wetland.  The boardwalk minimize environmental disturbance to the wetlands and the material selected will include pressure treated lumber and recycled plastic decking.  Staff is considering utilizing community or children’s art within the deck boards of the boardwalk.

The final grant will be used in the design, permitting and construction of a new bridge across Turkey Creek.  This project will require removal of a structurally unsound wooden bridge dating from the late 1940’s and replaced with a bridge suitable for vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and equestrian users.  The proposed bridge will be approximately 14-foot wide by 35-foot long.  Staff is considering a pre-fabricated metal bridge because it is the most cost effective route and the site conditions lend themselves to this option.  However, it would be ideal to find a decommissioned historical bridge that we could bring to the site.  Construction of the bridge will eliminate the safety issues associated with the old bridge.  In addition to providing walking, cycling and equestrian access from the adjacent neighborhoods, the bridge will improve access for management of natural, cultural and timber resources on the preserve and allow the development of a mid-20th century cattle ranching exhibit that will be incorporated into the educational programing on the Preserve.

We thank the Foundation for their support in providing recreational access to these important conservation areas.

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National HIV Testing Day

The Alachua County Health Department is participating in the annual “National HIV Testing Day” by offering free HIV Rapid Clearview and STD testing on Thursday, June 27, 2013, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Health Department (224 S.E. 24th Street, Gainesville). All sexually active individuals, both males and females, are encouraged to be tested for HIV, because this disease does not discriminate by gender, race, age or sexual orientation.

National HIV Testing Day is a nationwide awareness campaign promoting prevention, education voluntary HIV counseling, as well as providing testing and referral to those at risk for HIV. The theme this year is to encourage people to “Take the Test, Take Control.” Knowing one’s HIV status reduces the risk of HIV transmission and empowers people to get the care they need.

Every 9.5 minutes, someone in the United States becomes infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Over 1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and of those persons 1 out 5 does not know that they are infected. Based on data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 56,300 Americans became infected with HIV this year. In the state of Florida, it is estimated that 5,550 Floridians are infected with HIV each year.

Taking the test and taking control is an important step in preventing the spread of HIV. The Alachua County Health Department supports this vital initiative and encourages community-based organizations, local health departments and health care providers to help control the spread of HIV.\

Click to find a testing site near you, or text your zip code to 477493.

For more information, visit the Alachua County Health Department website, or call 352-334-7960.

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County Participating in “Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days” Event

Alachua County Animal Services, along with the Alachua County Humane Society, Puppy Hill Farm, Haile’s Angels, Gainesville Pet Rescue, Helping Hands Pet Rescue, and Operation Catnip is participating in the Maddie’s® Pet Adoption Days, on June 1, and 2, 2013. All of the participating shelters will be offering cat and dog adoptions free of charge. 

Maddie’s® Fund will pay participating organizations between $500 and $2,000 for each adoption: $500 per regular adoption, $1,000 for each adoption involving a dog or cat who is seven years of age or older or who has been treated for one or more medical conditions and $2,000 for each adoption involving a dog or cat who is seven years of age or older and who has been treated for one or more medical conditions. This is a significant opportunity for all participating shelters in our community to receive major donation funds. 

Alachua County Animal Services will be adopting animals on these days from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., at the Animal Services Headquarters (3400 NE 53rd Avenue, Gainesville).  All other participating shelters will be offering cat and dog adoptions at locations throughout Gainesville including Petco, PetSmart, Gainesville Pet Rescue, Haile’s Angels and the Humane Society.

Click here for a list of times and locations for all participating agencies.

Alachua County was chosen as one of eight communities across the United States to participate in the Maddie’s® Pet Adoption Days event.

For more information, contact Alachua County Animal Services at 352-264-6870.

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Celebrating Older Americans During the Month of May

When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only 17 million Americans had reached their 65th birthday. About a third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. Interest in older Americans and their concerns had grown, however, and by April of 1963, President John F. Kennedy’s meeting with the National Council of Senior Citizens served as the catalyst for designating May as “Senior Citizens Month.”

Thanks to President Jimmy Carter, what was once called Senior Citizens Month, is now referred to as “Older Americans Month,” and has become a tradition wherein the nation acknowledges the contributions of older persons, past and present -- especially those who served our country. Every President since JFK has also issued a formal proclamation paying tribute to older persons and recognizing the variety of contributions that they make to their respective communities.

During May, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal program sponsor of such Older American programs as Senior Companions, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and the Foster Grandparent Program (which is administered locally by the Alachua County Commission), also focused attention during a single week in May on the contributions that older volunteers make through these Senior Corps programs, working with children, the elderly, veterans and disaster survivors. Last year, 360,000 volunteers around the country contributed more than 80 million hours to members of these target groups.

Here in Alachua County, senior volunteers working as Foster Grandparents are engaged on a daily basis with youngsters with special needs in elementary school classrooms and Head Start Programs, as well as in after school and day care center environments, encouraging, motivating, reinforcing, tutoring and otherwise helping these children acquire school readiness and/or basic academic skills that empower them to experience success in school and beyond.

This past year, Alachua County’s 114 Foster Grandparents contributed nearly 92,000 hours of volunteer service at 39 different school and program sites around the County. Estimated most conservatively, these hours were valued at nearly $716,000.

In recognition of the important role that our Foster Grandparents play in helping youngsters with their education, the School Board of Alachua County, adopted a proclamation in May in support of Senior Corps Week, May 6 – 10, recognizing the contributions of Foster Grandparent and RSVP volunteers for their considerable positive impact on school programs and the quality of life in our community.

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What’s On “Alachua County Talks”

Click here to view this edition of “Alachua County Talks.” It features an interview with Blue Oven Kitchens President Val Leitner is available.

Leitner discusses the creation of the nonprofit Blue Oven Kitchens commercial kitchen rental service as well as future plans for the establishment.

Click here to view this edition of “Alachua County Talks.” it features an in-depth interview with University of Florida Performing Arts Director Michael Blachly.

The interview focuses on this year’s ongoing season as well as look back at the history of University of Florida Performing Arts.


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Foster Grandparents “Rock the Chair”

More than 80 of Alachua County’s Foster Grandparents turned out in force earlier this month, taking turns keeping their rocking chairs moving as part of the Alachua County Advisory Council’s 17th annual Rock-a-thon fundraiser. The Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Restaurant provided the front porch and the rocking chairs used by the senior volunteers, who were also joined by “celebrity rockers” from Alachua County and City of Gainesville governments and the School Board of Alachua County on May 10. Participants rocked the morning away to increase public awareness of the Foster Grandparent Program and to help raise money which is earmarked by the Advisory Council for Foster Grandparent recognition and training activities throughout the year.

The public rocking chair event at the Cracker Barrel is the culmination of several weeks’ worth of effort on the part of the Foster Grandparents to secure monetary pledges from friends, neighbors, family and area businesses in support of the Advisory Council’s annual fundraiser.

According to Gene Tysowsky, Foster Grandparent Program Coordinator, “This year’s event was extremely successful, with Foster Grandparents raising $6,750 from pledges, raffle ticket sales and donations collected during the day of the rocking chair event – more than a 50% increase over the prior year’s fundraising effort.” As Tysowsky noted, “The seniors bring the same level of enthusiasm and commitment that they display working with their assigned children to this annual fundraiser. We’re very proud of their efforts and their dedication to the Program.”

The Foster Grandparent Program provides volunteer opportunities for economically disadvantaged seniors 55 years of age and older to work one-on-one with special needs children in elementary schools, Head Start Programs, day care centers and after school programs throughout Alachua County. By focusing on the educational needs of these children, these dedicated seniors help the youngsters develop basic academic skills, a positive attitude toward learning and the emotional and behavioral support needed to experience success in the classroom and beyond.

This past program year, more than 100 seniors volunteered at nearly 40 different host sites, donating almost 92,000 hours of community service. Estimated conservatively, this volunteer service was valued at approximately $715,000.


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Crisis Center Offers Rape Trauma Support Group

Alachua County Victim Services & Rape Crisis Center is offering a 12 week support group for Survivors of Rape Trauma (SORT). The group begins June 26, 2013, and will allow survivors of sexual assault to come together and explore issues related to healing. The support group is offered free of charge. Participants must register beforehand, and are required to attend the first meeting.

Alachua County Victim Services & Rape Crisis Center is a certified rape crisis center and the group is facilitated by counselors from the center.

Alachua County Victim Advocate Counselor, Ashley Cortez said, “Many survivors suffer in silence, afraid to tell anyone.” She continued, “Some will experience the effects of abuse for years afterward. A few of these effects might be depression and intrusive memories of the assault. Survivors experiencing rape trauma are encouraged to seek support.”

Click to view the support group flyer.

For more information, contact Ashley Cortez at 352-264-6765.

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June Extension Programs

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

Environmental Horticulture Program

This program is being offered by Wendy Wilber, Environmental Horticulture Agent.

Weeds & Other Plants That Can Ruin Your Weekend – June 5, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and repeated on June 6, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Participants will learn to identify and control the most common weeds and invasive plants. 

There is no cost to attend this class, but space is limited; pre-register at least 3 days prior to class by calling 352-337-6209 (voice mail).

Livestock Program

This program is being offered by Cindy Sanders, Livestock Agent.

Equine Management Workshop – June 20, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Topics will include: Pasture Management, Equine Nutrition.

Click to view the event flyer.

There is no cost to attend this workshop and refreshments will be provided. Register by June 17, by calling 352-955-2402.

Agriculture & Natural Resources Program

This program is being offered by Barton Wilder, Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent.

Private Applicator Pesticide School – June 21, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Applicants who are interested in obtaining the Private Applicator Pesticide License are encouraged to attend.  Topics include: private applicator and regulations, equipment calibration and pesticide arithmetic, pesticide safety and principles of pest control.

The full day registration fee is $10.00 (includes lunch), and half day registration is $5.00 (no lunch).

Register by calling 352-337-6209 (voice mail) by June 14.

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

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Commission Highlights

Community Action Month
The Board proclaimed May 2013 as “Community Action Month” in Alachua County, Florida
Attachment:
Community Action Month 2013.pdf

Civility Month
The Board proclaimed May 2013 as “Civility Month” in Alachua County, Florida
Attachment:
Civility Month 2013.pdf

Fiscal Year 2012-2013 Non-Bargaining Pay Plan
The Board approved the addition of the new classification to the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners Fiscal Year 2012-2013 Non-Bargaining Pay Plan (Investigative Analyst: Non-Bargaining, exempt, pay grade 18, $22.3311 to $35.7297 hourly wage) and approved the addition of 0.5 FTE, Equal Opportunity Specialist (Non-Bargaining, exempt, pay range 13, $17.2492 to $27.5987 hourly wage) to the Department of Administrative Services, Division of Equal Opportunity.
Attachment:
Equal Opportunity Specialist Memoranda.pdf
Attachment:
Investigative Analyst Memoranda.pdf
Attachment:
Reserve adjustments for FY13.pdf
Attachment:
REVISED FY2013 NON BARGAINING PAY PLAN.pdf

SW 8th Avenue Multi-use Path
The Board approved the SW 8th Avenue Multi-use Path 60 percent design plans and direct staff to finalize design and proceed with construction bidding.
Attachment:
SW8thAve60Plans.pdf
Attachment:
60Presentation.pdf

Plum Creek Foundation Grant
The Board accepted the first of three $10,000 the Plum Creek Foundation grant checks presented by Rose Flagler.  The money will be used for conservation project infrastructure improvements.
Attachment:
Exhibit 1 County map the 3 sites.pdf
Attachment:
Exhibit 3 Sweetwater Bridge Shatkin.pdf
Attachment:
Plum Creek Letter of Award.pdf
Attachment:
Exhibit 2 SWP Bridge Project.pdf

Meadowbrook Planned Development
The Board approved the replat of Lot 21, Meadowbrook Planned Development, Hills of Santa Fe - Phase II
Attachment:
HSF_BS_L_21.pdf
Attachment:
HSF_L_21_RP.pdf
Attachment:
HSF_Plat.pdf
Attachment:
HSF_L_21_CHSR.pdf
Attachment:
HSF_L_21_GMSR.pdf
Attachment:
HSF_L_21_PP.pdf
Attachment:
MBK_ZMP.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.