March 16th edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government


This Issues Features:

Alachua County and Plum Creek Oppose Sector Plan Bills
2014 Annual Report Available
Alachua County Fire Rescue Station #25 Ribbon Cutting
“NW 16th Avenue Transformation” March Project Update
O’leno State Park to Host Chili Cook-Off and Springs Celebration
Keep Alachua County Beautiful Highlighted on Alachua County Talks
Animal Services Foster Parent Orientation
City of Gainesville Election – March 17, 2015
2015 ACCESS Spring Classes
March Extension Programs
Commission Highlights

Alachua County and Plum Creek Oppose Sector Plan Bills

Both the Alachua County Commission and Plum Creek Timber Company are in opposition to two Sector Plan bills: Senate Bill 832 and House Bill 933. The bills would drastically weaken the County’s home-rule authority concerning Sector Plan projects of 15,000 acres or more.

Plum Creek is currently involved in the Sector Plan process with the County.  In a letter to SB832 sponsor Senator Wilton Simpson, Plum Creek’s Todd Powell said, “Due to significant concerns raised by Alachua County regarding SB832 and its compantion HB933, and at the County’s request, Plum Creek wants to go on record as opposing the proposed legislation.”

Read the full letter.     

Principal concerns with the proposed bills include:

To learn more, click the links below:
Summary of Issues
Full staff analysis
SB 833
HB 933

We urge citizens to contact bills’ sponsors:
SB 832 – Senator Simpson, 850-487-5018 -
HB 933 – Rep. La Rosa, 850-717-5042 -

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2014 Annual Report Available

Alachua County Manager Lee A. Niblock is pleased to announce the release of the Alachua County 2014 Annual Report. The report offers citizens a detailed look at County finances and departmental accomplishments. It is available in an all-digital format.

In a letter for the report, Manager Niblock wrote, “I encourage you to read our 2014 Alachua County Annual Report.” He continued, “A very small investment of your valuable time will yield a very good understanding of your County government, its finances, and the myriad services it provides.”

A limited number of print copies are available for pick up at the Alachua County Communications Office (12 SE 1st Street, downtown Gainesville).

View/download the 2014 Annual Report (PDF).

For more information, contact the Communications Office at 352-374-5204.

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Alachua County Fire Rescue Station #25 Ribbon Cutting

The Alachua County Commission, along with Alachua County Fire Rescue and Alachua County Facilities Management, held the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Alachua County Fire Rescue’s Station #25 in Hawthorne on March 9.

Speakers included County Commission Chair Charles “Chuck” Chestnut IV, County Manager Dr. Lee A. Niblock, Fire Rescue Chief William K. Northcutt, County Facilities Director Charlie Jackson, and City of Hawthorne Vice Mayor Tommie Howard.

The repaired 8,475 square foot facility includes the following features:

“We are excited about our return to the City of Hawthorne,” said Chief Northcutt. “The majority of our responses in this area are in the City, and this places our resources next to our north/south response route on US301.  The renovation work was outstanding, and being back here gives us a facility that will allow us to be able to stay close to the community, even during a major storm.”

“Major repair and renovation of this existing solid structure makes good business sense and is a good investment of limited dollars,” said Charlie Jackson.

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

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“NW 16th Avenue Transformation” March Project Update

Alachua County Public Works is keeping citizens informed about the “NW 16th Avenue Transformation Project” by issuing a monthly press release giving updated information on the project’s progress.

The 4 mile project includes milling, resurfacing, and reconstruction of NW 16th Avenue from NW 57th Terrace to NW 13th Street. It also includes widening 16th Avenue to 4-lanes from NW 57th Terrace to NW 55th Street, widening the sidewalks, upgrading the pedestrian facilities to meet current Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, addressing safety and operational issues through intersection and median opening modifications, and stabilizing the retaining walls along the corridor.

During the month of February, the contractor completed the water main relocation, clay removal for the north side of the roadway, and gravity wall replacement from NW 31st Drive to NW 22nd Street. Curb, sidewalk, driveway, and pavement replacement will continue from NW 31st Drive to NW 22nd Street during the month of March. Motorists should expect nighttime lane closures along the project corridor and daytime lane closures at NW 51st Street. Additionally, the corridor has been reduced to one lane in each direction from approximately NW 31st Drive to NW 22nd Street. The contractor is scheduled to complete the north side of the roadway this month and will switch traffic to the south side. Staff encourage motorists to adhere to the reduced speed limit of 30 MPH through this section for the safety of construction personnel, and for the safety of motorists entering and exiting the roadway.

In addition to previously mentioned nighttime lane closures and lane reductions, traffic patterns will be regularly altered from approximately NW 58th Boulevard to NW 54th Terrace to complete roadway widening and reconstruction. Drainage work has commenced immediately west of the Richmond subdivision and will continue this month.

The contractor is scheduled to have traffic restored to four lanes by the end of May. In order to assist with meeting this date, staff have authorized a 6-day work week, Monday through Saturday. The final layer of asphalt, final striping, and final punch list, which will have minimal impact to the traveling public, are scheduled to be completed by the end of August.

Click to view the Northwest 16th Avenue Transformation project report (PDF). This document will be updated monthly and changes/new information will be highlighted in red.

For more information, contact Alachua County Transportation Engineering Manager Brian Singleton at 352-548-1306 or

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O’leno State Park to Host Chili Cook-Off and Springs Celebration

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department, Florida State Parks, and the Friends of O’Leno invite citizens to the eighth annual O’Leno Ole’ Chili Cook-Off (from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and Springs Celebration (from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), on Saturday, March 28, 2015, at O’Leno State Park (410 SE O’Leno Park Road).  Admission to the park is free with the donation of one can of food per person to benefit a local food bank. Chili tasting kits will be on sale for $5. All proceeds assist the Friends of O’Leno, Inc., a non-profit organization, with their mission of supporting the park.

The event includes a chili cook-off, live music from the Weeds of Eden, model railroad displays, a guided walk, children’s activities, and environmental exhibits.

“The Springs Celebration is a great event for learning how our actions are connected to the health of our springs, even when we live tens of miles away from them,” said Alachua County Environmental Protection Water Conservation Coordinator Stacie Greco.   She continued, “When we use a lot of water and fertilizer on our farms and yards, we may be harming the springs of the Santa Fe River.”

View the event flyer and the schedule of events.

For more information, visit the Alachua County Springs Protection website, the Facebook event, or contact Stacie Greco at 352-264-6829.

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Keep Alachua County Beautiful Highlighted on Alachua County Talks

A new edition of Alachua County Talks featuring an interview with Keep Alachua County Beautiful Executive Director Gina Hawkins is now running on Cox Channel 12, YouTube, and Video on Demand. Hawkins discusses the organization’s efforts to eliminate litter in Alachua County and improving civic pride through community beautification efforts like the Alachua County Great American Cleanup on March 21, 2015.

In speaking of the program, Alachua County Talks host Mark Sexton said, “The Alachua County Commission has made litter reduction a high priority. The work of Keep Alachua County Beautiful is both laudable and essential to the effort to eliminate litter in our community.”

In the interview, Hawkins discusses the Great American Cleanup which takes place on Saturday, March 21, from 8 a.m. to noon at Albert Ray Massey Park (1001 N.W. 34th Street, Gainesville).

Visit the Keep Alachua County Beautiful website.   For more information, call 352-371-9444.

View Alachua County Talks: Keep Alachua County Beautiful/Litter Reduction.

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

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Animal Services Foster Parent Orientation

Alachua County Animal Services is currently seeking volunteers to foster animals. Foster parents temporarily care for animals that are not yet ready for adoption. This includes underage kittens, heartworm positive dogs (undergoing treatment), under-socialized animals, and more.

Alachua County Animal Services is hosting three Foster Parent Orientations in March, 2015. All orientations are held at the Animal Services Headquarters (3400 N.E. 53rd Avenue, Gainesville). Animal Services encourages volunteers to register for orientations before attending, but registration is not required.

Foster parent orientations in March include:

Before taking animals home, all foster parents are also required to attend a general volunteer orientation held the third Saturday of every month. This month’s general orientation will be on March 21, at 9:30 a.m.

View the Foster Parent Orientation flyer.

For more information or to register, call 352-264-6870 or contact Alachua County Shelter Supervisor Jane Grantman at  or Alachua County Animal Services Office Assistant Dory Rosati at

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City of Gainesville Election – March 17, 2015

Ready? Set………..Go Vote!

Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter would like to remind all voters in Alachua County, especially those residing in the City of Gainesville, to be prepared for upcoming elections.


Make sure your voter information is current.  Florida Law requires that you vote the ballot assigned to your legal residence address.  If you have moved and have not notified the Supervisor of Elections Office of your new address, please go online at to make a change of address or contact our office at (352) 374-5252.  A new voter information card will be mailed based on the updated information.

Make sure your signature on file is current.  If you sign a petition or vote by mail, your signature will be compared to your signature on file.  Your petition or mail ballot may not count if the signature does not match the signature on record.  You may update your signature by filling out a voter registration application form in person or by going online to  You will need to print the application, sign it, and drop it off or mail it to the Supervisor of Elections Office.  All signature updates for use in verifying absentee and provisional ballots must be received in the Supervisor of Elections Office prior to the start of the canvassing of absentee ballots by the Canvassing Board.


View sample ballots for the March 17, 2015, City of Gainesville Election online at on our home page by clicking on “Elections & Records” from the menu on the left side of the page then “Sample Ballots”, or you may view your individual ballot by clicking on “My Registration Status” in the upper right hand corner.

Now………… Go Vote!

Remember………go vote on March 17, 2015!  To be eligible to vote in this election, you must be a resident of the City of Gainesville.  City voters may vote in the precinct of their residence between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, March 17th.

If you are voting by mail, be sure your ballot is received in the Supervisor of Elections Office by 7 p.m. Election Day, March 17th.   Voters have the option to bring their ballot to the Supervisor of Elections Office at 111 S.E. 1st Avenue or drop their ballot in the after-hours mail drop located at the main entrance of the Supervisor of Elections.

If you need to locate your precinct, go to or call the Supervisor of Elections Office at (352) 374-5252.

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2015 ACCESS Spring Classes

The public is invited to participate in the annual Alachua County Civic Education SerieS (ACCESS). Classes begin April 6, 2015. The free program runs Monday mornings for seven sessions, but space is limited. The registration deadline is March 27.

Participants receive detailed information about the operations of County departments, special districts, and constitutional officers. The sessions include presentations, handouts, tours, hands-on activities, and question and answer periods. The ACCESS program provides valuable information whether someone is already active in local government or new to government involvement.

County Manager Dr. Lee Niblock invites ACCESS participants to, “Meet the men and women who serve the County, hear about the variety of services offered, and learn about the impact of national and state trends on local government programs and issues.”

To view a complete schedule of classes and to register online, visit the ACCESS website.

For more information or to register by phone, contact the Alachua County Office of Management and Budget at 352-374-5262.

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March Extension Programs

Environmental Horticulture Programs

These programs are being offered by Wendy Wilber, Environmental Horticulture Agent, at the UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office (2800 NE 39 Avenue, Gainesville) unless otherwise indicated.

Vegetable Gardening: Grow Great Tomatoes – March 18, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

This class will cover growing tomatoes in the garden and in containers. Learn the basics of how to grow tomatoes in Florida’s challenging environment. Topics include: tomato pest control options, including non-chemical choices of combatting the scores of tomato insects and disease problems.

Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Lawns & Turf Alternatives – March 24, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Tower Road Library Branch (3020 SW 75 Street, Gainesville)

This class covers lawn mowing, watering, fertilizing, and pest management.

Growing Blueberries – March 26, from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Alachua County is one of the top blueberry producing counties in the state. Learn to easily grow rabbit-eye blueberries. This class covers planting, fertilizing, and pruning.

Fruit Production Workshop - March 28, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., (registration at 9 a.m., program begins at 10 a.m.), at the Straughn IFAS Extension Professional Development Center (2142 Shealy Drive, Gainesville), with Aparna Gazula, Commercial Horticulture Agent

This workshop is intended for fruit enthusiasts and small farmers. The latest information from UF/IFAS experts will be offered on variety selection, production, and pest and disease management for peaches, blueberries, and citrus.

The registration fee is $10.00 (includes lunch). Registration can be paid at the door or online (with additional fee).

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

Family and Consumer Sciences Programs

These programs are being offered by Brenda C. Williams, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, at the UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office (2800 NE 39 Avenue, Gainesville).

Food Safety and Quality Program (ServSafe®) – March 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

This program is dedicated to providing training which enables food managers and staff to offer Florida consumers food that is prepared in a clean and safe environment. For more information and to register, visit the Food Safety and Quality website, or call toll-free at 1-888-232-8723.

Canning Workshop – March 24, from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and repeated from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Basic information on canning foods using the boiling-water canner and steam pressure canner. Directions and tips will also be included on making jams, jellies, and pickles.

No registration fee; printed materials will be available for $3.00 per set. Please pre-register for this class by calling 352-337-6209 (voicemail).

Agriculture & Natural Resources Program

This program is being offered by Barton Wilder, Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent, at the UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office (2800 NE 39 Avenue, Gainesville).

Worker Protection Standard: Train the Trainer Workshop – March 26, from 9 a.m. to noon, with Aparna Gazula, Commercial Horticulture Agent

Registration fee is $10.00 (includes light refreshments). 

Register by calling 352-337-6209 (voicemail) no later than March 23.  

For more information about these programs, please call 352-955-2402. Visit the Extension Office calendar for additional programs offered by the UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office.

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Commission Highlights

History of Ambulance Service in Gainesville
The Board heard the Alachua County Historical Commission 3 minute reading of local history titled “History of Ambulance Service in Gainesville, Florida.”

Gina Peebles, Administrative Services Director
The Board confirmed the appointment of Gina Peebles as Administrative Services Director in accordance with Article II, Section 21 (a), (b), and (c) of the Alachua County Administrative Code.
Attachment: NiblockPeebles.pdf
Peebles Gina application.pdf

Business and Economic Growth Action Plan
The Board heard a presentation on the revised Business and Economic Growth Action Plan and Implementation Matrix, and direct staff to move forward with implementing recommendations.
Attachment: Revised Business and Economic Growth Action Plan 3.2.2015.pdf

Community Agency Partnership Program
Concerning the Community Agency Partnership Program, the Board:
Accepted the FY2015/16 CAPP Executive Summary document.
CAPP sponsored programs involving client/family referrals require grantees to ask clients specifically about the need for the EBT program, and require grantees to back the number of referrals made to the EBT Program throughout the course of the CAPP sponsored program.
Set CAPP eligibility guidelines at 150% of the federal poverty level unless the applicant can show extenuating circumstances above this level that are necessary and applicable.  Eligibility shall not to exceed 200% of federal poverty level regardless of circumstances. 
Retain that families needing assistance are potentially eligible for services with children in the family being age 18 or younger.
Summarize the advisory board recommendation and CAPP category breakdown, and add a category for multiple CAPP categories.
Continue governmental interagency collaboration to offer the Board opportunities to expand purchasing services to the public and provide feedback as to the evidence based best practices within our community.  
Establish a base line funding goal of $1,150,000.00 with an analysis of what additional community benefits could occur with a 5% increase in funding.  

Purchase and Sale Agreement
The Board approved the Purchase and Sale Agreement with C. Douglas Miller for the surplus property known as the 7.6 acres in Melrose be approved and executed by the Board. Also, approved that the Chair be authorized to execute any additional documents approved by the County Attorney necessary to complete this transaction. Approved that the proceeds from the transaction be placed in an acquisition and appraisal fund.
$12,500.00 (revenue)
Attachment: Miller_maps.pdf

Emergency Shelter Services - Second Amendment
The Board approved Second Amendment to Inter-local Agreement between Alachua County and the City of Gainesville for Emergency Shelter Services
Attachment: COG Emerg Shelter 2nd Amend Final.pdf
Approved and Signed Minutes of Empowerment Center Oversight Advisory Board Meeting Held on 01142015.pdf

Emergency Shelter Services - Third Amendment
The Board approved the Third Amendment to Inter-local Agreement between Alachua County and the City of Gainesville for Emergency Shelter Services
Attachment: Approved and Signed Minutes of Empowerment Center Oversight Advisory Board Meeting Held on 01142015.pdf
COG Emerg Shelter 3rd Amend Final.pdf

Empowerment Center Oversight Advisory Board
Concerning the Empowerment Center Oversight Advisory Board regarding Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry (ACCHH) recommendation for unspent FY14 funds, The Board moved to:
Release the portion of carry-forward funds to the Coalition to be spent on project expenses as the Oversight Board and Coalition determine .
Referred to the Oversight Board the issue raised by Commissioner Pinkoson regarding some form of residency requirement for receiving services to be researched by staff and added to the agenda at the appropriate time.
Attachment: Approved and Signed Minutes of Empowerment Center Oversight Advisory Board Meeting Held on 01142015.pdf
Empowerment Center Oversight Advisory Board Meeting Minutes of February 11 2015 DRAFT.pdf

Federal Legislative Program
The Board heard the report on the Federal Legislative Program and made comments.  The report will be revised and finalized.  

Social Work Month
The Board proclaimed March 2015 as “Social Work Month” in Alachua County, FL.
Attachment: Social Work Month 2015.pdf

National Transit Driver Appreciation Day
The Board proclaimed March 18th, 2015, as “National Transit Driver Appreciation Day” in Alachua County, FL.
Attachment: National Transit Driver Apprecation Day 2015.pdf

B. F. Hamptons Subdivision
The Board adopted the Resolution to vacate a portion of the B. F. Hamptons subdivision as requested.
Attachment: B_F_Hamptons_PP_pdf.pdf

Small Scale Map Amendment
Consistent with the Board of County Commissioner’s review and direction on October 10, 2014, and the Board’s findings as set forth in the adopting ordinance, the Commission found that the small scale map amendment for a parcel at the intersection of Newberry Rd./NW 122nd Rd. is consistent with the Alachua County Comprehensive Plan and Unified Land Development Code.
Attachment: CPA Application Newberry Road and 122nd.pdf
PowerPoint for CPA0214.pdf
Ordinance for CPA0214.pdf

Prairie Commons
Concerning CPA-02-15: Prairie Commons small-scale comprehensive plan amendment, the Board approved Ordinance 15-xx, a land use amendment from Tourist/Entertainment to Commercial.
Attachment: CPA0215 Powerpoint.pdf
CPA0215 Staff Report.pdf
CPA0215 Powerpoint.pptx
Ordinance for CPA0215.pdf

Rezoning to PD District
The Board approved Resolution Z-15-2, approving ZOM-02-15, a rezoning to the PD district.  The Board added to the motion to change build-to line to 10 to 40 feet, remove corner of buffer as testified to, and not be required to connect drive-thru to building.
Attachment: Resolution for ZOM0215.pdf
ZOM0215 Powerpoint.pdf
ZOM0215 Staff Report.pdf
ZOM0215 Powerpoint.pptx

Florence Landfill
Concerning ZOS-02-15: A request to amend the special use permit (Florence Landfill SUP) to extend the SUP an additional five years, the Board adopted Resolution Z-15-06 approving the requested five year extension.
Attachment: ZOS0215.pptx
ZOS0215 Powerpoint.pdf
ZOS0215 Background Materials.pdf
ZOS0215 Staff Report.pdf
Resolution for ZOS0215.pdf

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