March 31st edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government


This Issues Features:

Southwest Health Clinic Ribbon Cutting
Panel Blasts Legislature on Amendment 1 Plans
April is Water Conservation Month
EPD Yard Waste Reminder
Buck Bay Flatwoods Preserve Management Planning Meeting
Florida Department of Health in Alachua County Addresses County Health Rankings
April Extension Programs
Gainesville Run-Off Election Information
Commission Highlights

Southwest Health Clinic Ribbon Cutting

The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC), the Southwest Advocacy Group (SWAG), and the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County (FDOH-Alachua) held a Ribbon Cutting for the SW Health Clinic on March 16 at the SW Health Clinic. The event featured speakers and a guided tour of the facility.

SWAG and the BoCC have worked together since 2010, when the two entities, along with Partnership for Strong Families, created the SWAG Family Resource Center.  The SW Health Clinic began to move forward in August 2012, when the County and SWAG joined with the FDOH-Alachua, who received a $300,000 operational grant from the Florida Blue Foundation. The BoCC allocated $190,000 to renovate a building that it had purchased for a future clinic in the southwest community. The project received a $60,000 Rotary Wild Game Feast grant, and raised an additional $73,000 for the renovation efforts.  Additionally, in-kind donations from the Martin Kids Dental Health Team, and Charles Perry Partners Inc. made the project possible. 

Renovations on the SW Health Clinic started in the fall of 2014, and were completed at the end of February, 2015.  The clinic contains five general exam rooms, a rash exam room with exterior door access, as well as four dental exam rooms.  It provides an assortment of public health services including programs focused on disease control, children’s health, WIC, Florida birth certificates, adult health, and increasing dental capacity.

Dr. Lee Niblock, Alachua County Manager says, “The County’s relationship with SWAG has been a great example of public/private partnerships at their most effective. Following the success of the SWAG Family Resource Center, the County is proud to be a partner in the SW Health Clinic, which will provide much needed health services to our citizens in this area.”

“This clinic will be such a blessing to so many people in the SWAG neighborhoods,” says Dorothy Thomas, SWAG Special Projects and Fundraising Chair.  “Everyone deserves the chance to be healthy.  This clinic will create access to the services that people need to make that happen.”

“This collaboration and partnership is consistent with the Florida Department of Health’s mission to promote, protect, and improve the health of all people in Florida,” stated Paul Myers, Administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County.

SWAG is a community-based organization that strives to improve living conditions, educational opportunities, and quality of life for residents in the Tower Road corridor just west of I-75 in the 32607 zip code.

Learn more about SWAG.

Learn more about FDOH-Alachua.

Learn more about the Rotary Clubs of Gainesville Foundation.

View a complete list of the Renovation Partners.

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

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Panel Blasts Legislature on Amendment 1 Plans

Some of the driving forces behind the Amendment 1 referendum blasted state lawmakers Thursday evening for budget plans that would put a tiny fraction of the money set aside by the initiative toward the purchase of conservation land.

During a panel discussion sponsored by The Gainesville Sun and the Bob Graham Center for Public Policy organized on the University of Florida campus, Graham, a former Florida governor and U.S. senator, said budget plans in the Florida Senate and House were “an insult” to the 75 percent of the voters who approved the water and land conservation measure.

The referendum is projected to set aside more than $700 million for the state’s land acquisition trust fund next year, and advocates saw it as a way to restore funding for the Florida Forever program. For decades, that land acquisition program received $300 million annually for land conservation but saw major cuts after the recession.

Even with Amendment 1 in place, a House budget panel recommended $10 million for Florida Forever, and a Senate panel has a plan for $2 million to go into the program.

Continue reading the article on the Gainesville Sun website.

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April is Water Conservation Month

Alachua County joined with other counties across Florida to declare April 2015 as Water Conservation Month. The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (EPD) celebrated Water Conservation Month with the Springs Celebration and Chili Cook-Off at O’Leno State Park on Saturday, March 28. There was music and children’s learning activities about water conservation and the springs.

“We depend on the aquifer for our drinking water, as do our springs, rivers, and lakes,” said EPD Water Conservation Coordinator Stacie Greco. “We all need to do our part to use less water every day. The best way to leave more water for our springs and future generations is to replace thirsty landscapes with ones that can survive on rainfall alone once they are established.”

Native plants can be purchased at the Go Native Spring Plant Sale at Morningside Nature Center (3450 East University Avenue, Gainesville), on April 4, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and at the Master Gardener Plant Sale on May 16, at the Alachua County Extension Office (2800 N.E. 39th Avenue, Gainesville), from 8 a.m. to noon.

For more information, visit the Alachua County Water Resources website, or contact Stacie Greco at 352-264-6829 or

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“EPD Yard Waste Reminder

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (EPD) is reminding residents that improper disposal of fallen leaves and landscaping debris can be a source of water pollution and flooding. EPD encourages everyone to collect leaves and use them around existing plants as mulch, add them to compost piles for future use, or place them in paper yard waste bags or reusable trash cans for curbside yard waste collection.

EPD is receiving numerous complaints regarding homeowners and contractors raking or blowing leaves and landscaping debris into streets and stormdrains. Alachua County’s Water Quality Code prohibits disposing of any materials into the stormwater collection system (which includes most roads).

Gus Olmos, EPD’s Water Resources Manager explains, “Improper disposal of lawn clippings and leaves clogs stormwater collection systems, and leads to flooding and increased maintenance costs for taxpayers.” Olmos continues, “The stormdrains connect to our creeks, lakes, or stormwater treatment basins.  As leaves and grass clippings decompose in the water, they can cause water pollution.”

Residents can report Water Quality Code violations by calling 352-264-6800.

For more information, visit the EPD website, or contact Alachua County Water Conservation Coordinator Stacie Greco at 352-264-6829 or

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Buck Bay Flatwoods Preserve Management Planning Meeting

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department invites residents to the Buck Bay Flatwoods Preserve Management Planning Meeting today, Tuesday, March 31, 2015, at 6 p.m. in Conference Room A of the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department Office (408 W. University Avenue, Suite 106, Gainesville).

Alachua County acquired approximately 464 acres located at 6502 North County Road 225 in Gainesville, within the Alachua County Forever Buck Bay Flatwoods Project. The property was acquired to protect, preserve, and enhance the unique natural resources found there, and to provide an enjoyable and educational passive recreation experience. A management plan is being developed for the property, and citizen input is requested.

View/download the Management Plan Draft (PDF).

A paper or electronic copy of the plan may be requested by calling 352-264-6835. Citizens may provide input at the meeting or by submitting written comments via mail or email to the Environmental Protection Department Land Conservation Program by April 10, 2015.

Written comments should be mailed to:
Alachua County Forever Program
Alachua County Environmental Protection Department
408 W. University Avenue, Suite 106
Gainesville, FL 32601

For more information, contact Alachua County Senior Environmental Specialist Susanna Hetrick at 352-264-6835 or

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Florida Department of Health in Alachua County Addresses County Health Rankings

The Florida Department of Health in Alachua County recognizes the value in measuring health outcomes and today acknowledged the Sixth Annual County Health Rankings & Roadmaps tool released by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This study highlights the many community factors that influence health and uses established data, much of which is available from the department at

“The Alachua County Health Department collaborates with numerous community partners to improve the health of all county residents and visitors,” stated Paul Myers, Administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County. “Efforts focused on healthiest weight, emergency preparedness, communicable disease control, access to care, and environmental factors energize our daily quest in making Florida the healthiest state in the nation.”

These rankings are a snapshot of the health of counties across the country and they emphasize that health is not a singular effort but a combined work in progress involving all community partners. The department works in collaboration with local governments, non-profit organizations, health care facilities, business groups, schools, faith-based organizations, and many other stakeholders to improve the health of all people in Alachua County. These rankings use data related to physical environments, social and economic factors, health behaviors, and clinical care.

In Alachua County, the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) is designed to address specific opportunities for improved health that have been identified by the community. The department has partnered with many stakeholders to implement the CHIP and collaborates regularly to track progress. FDOH-Alachua’s disease management and emergency room diversion projects with UF Health have improved CHIP measures associated with these identified challenges. The control of influenza through the school-located influenza vaccination program, locally known as the  FLUMIST Program, in concert with the Alachua County Schoolboard, various University of Florida colleges, and multiple community partners, has demonstrated a reduction in flu-related illnesses, deaths, and healthcare costs. Access to care has been improved in partnership with the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners, specifically in underserved county populations.

“The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners views our community health as a priority and directs resources to ensure public health is supported,” stated Charles “Chuck” Chestnut, IV, Chair of the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners. “Our efforts toward improving our built and natural environment, in addition to our partnership with the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County, serve as a testament to our commitment to improving the health of everyone in our County.”

“UF Health works with many community partners in Alachua County, North Central Florida, and the State of Florida to improve health, increase access to care and ensure proper use of hospital resources,” said Dr. David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Vice President for Health Affairs at UF, and president of UF Health. “Our collaboration with the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County reflects our collective daily efforts to control communicable diseases.”

“The School Board of Alachua County recognizes the role that student health plays in scholastic performance and devotes significant resources to ensure health issues are appropriately addressed,” stated Dr. Owen Roberts, Superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools. “Our school nurses, in collaboration with the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County, manage chronic and communicable disease issues on a daily basis, and provide health screenings that identify manageable conditions that have been shown to have a direct correlation to student achievement.”

To view the Annual County Health Rankings data for Alachua and all other counties in the United States, visit

For more information, contact Roger Dolz at 352-334-8873.

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April Extension Programs

5th Annual Agriculture Tour

The UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office will be conducting the 5th Annual Agriculture Tour on Friday, April 10, 2015, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office (2800 NE 39th Ave., Gainesville).

Agriculture adds $255 million dollars to Alachua County’s economy each year. Agricultural products in Alachua County range from beef cattle, vegetables, fruits, nurseries, goats, chickens, and more.

The tour bus leaves the UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office at 8:15 a.m. (please arrive by 7:45 a.m.). The registration fee is $30.00 (includes lunch and bus fee). Registration will be limited to the first 50 pre-paid registrants. To reserve a seat, pay in advance at the UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office.

View/download the event flyer (PDF).

Northeast Florida Livestock Agents Program

The UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office is pleased to announce the following Northeast Florida Livestock Agents program.

Master Herdsman Series – April 13, April 20, April 27, May 4, and May 11, 2015, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center Farm (8202 CR 417, Live Oak).

This series will cover the following topics: goats, poultry, equine, cattle, economics, and forage production.  Participants must attend at least 4 workshops to become a Master Herdsman.

The registration fee is $50.00 (includes light refreshments) for the entire series or $20.00 per class (late registration fee is $30.00).  Registration is available on-line (with additional fee).  Pre-register at least 3 days in advance by calling 352-955-2402.

Family and Consumer Sciences Programs

These programs are being offered by Brenda C. Williams, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent (with Muriel Turner, Levy County Extension Agent).

Canning Workshop – April 14, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and repeated from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the UF/IFAS Extension Levy County Office (625 N. Hathaway Avenue, Alt 27, Bronson).

Call 352-486-5131 to pre-register.

Canning Workshop - April 21, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and repeated from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Dixie County Public Library (16328 S.E. Highway 19, Cross City).

Call 352-498-1219 to pre-register.

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

There is no charge, and printed materials will be available for $3.00 per set.

View/download the event flyer (PDF).

Commercial Horticulture Programs

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

Building Your Own Farm’s Food Safety Manual – April 14, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the UF/IFAS Straughn Extension Professional Development Center (2142 Shealy Drive, Gainesville).

This is a one-day workshop to help growers develop their own food safety manuals. At the end of the workshop, farms will have a ready-to-print copy of the main components of a food safety manual and farm plan.

The workshop will be done on computers (one laptop will be provided for in-house use per farm if necessary) using a web-based food safety manual development program. The workshop will be limited to 20 farms on a first come, first served basis. Each farm may bring an additional person for computer assistance.

The registration fee is $35.00 for the first person representing a farm (primary participant), and $15.00 for an additional attendee (secondary participant). The registration fee includes refreshments and lunch for the day. All educational materials in the Food Safety Tool Kit are provided. Registration is confirmed when a registration form and payments are received.

Registration is available on-line (with additional fee), or contact the UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County office. Registration forms with payment should be made out to “ACES” and sent to: 2800 NE 39th Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32609.

Microgreens Workshop – April 16, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Frequently called “vegetable confetti,” microgreens are young, tender greens that are used to enhance the color, texture, or flavor of salads, or to garnish a wide variety of main dishes. Harvested at the first true leaf stage and sold with the stem, cotyledons (seed leaves), and first true leaves attached, they are among a variety of novel salad greens available on the market that are typically distinguished categorically by their size and age. Participants will learn about producing microgreens for home use, commercial, and local markets.

There is no registration fee.

Beekeeping Program – April 25, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Plant Science Field Classrooms (located on UF campus behind 1301 Fifield Hall, Gainesville).

This program covers hive disease and pest management. There will be demonstrations with live bees (protective clothing is required).

No registration fee.

Green Industries Best Management Practices – April 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 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.

Registration is $25.00, and includes materials and lunch.

View/download the program brochure (PDF).

Environmental Horticulture Programs

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

Fruits for Alachua County – April 14, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. (presented by Aparna Gazula, Commercial Horticulture Agent).

This program shows techniques to successfully grow fruits such as persimmons, peaches, pomegranates, figs, grapes, and more.

Native Plants for Your Landscape for Earth Day – April 22, from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (presented by Alachua County Master Gardener Volunteer)

This program teaches the correct use of native plants (putting the right plant in the right place).

Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Pruning – April 28, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Tower Road Branch Library (3020 SW 75 Street, Gainesville). This program is presented by Wendy Wilber, Environmental Horticulture Agent.

This program explains techniques and timing for correct pruning, and placing the right plant in the right place.

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

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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Gainesville Run-Off Election Information

Election Day - April 14, 2015
Polls Open 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Early Voting Information

Early Voting for the April 14, 2015, City of Gainesville Run-Off Election will be available starting Monday, April 6, 2015, through Saturday, April 11, 2015.

Early Voting will be available Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The City of Gainesville now has 3 early voting locations:

Millhopper Branch Library
3145 NW 43rd Street, Gainesville

Cone Park Library
2801 E. University Avenue, Gainesville

Supervisor of Elections County Administration Building Office
12 SE 1st Street, Gainesville

Florida Law requires voters to present current and valid picture and signature ID, or vote a provisional ballot.

All eligible voters registered within the City limits of Gainesville may vote in the At-Large Seat 1 race.  Only voters living in District 1 are eligible to vote in the District 1 race.

Vote by Mail

Any voter may request a ballot and vote by mail.  Voters may make their request online at or call the Supervisor of Elections Office at 352-374-5252. Voters will need to make sure their address and signature on file with the Supervisor of Elections are current. Your mail ballot may not count if the signature does not match the signature on your voter record. You may update your signature by filling out a voter registration application form in person or online at All signature updates for use in verifying absentee and provisional ballots must be received in the Elections Office prior to the start of the canvassing of absentee ballots by the Canvassing Board.

If a voter realizes they have returned their absentee ballot without including their signature, they may submit an affidavit and ID to the Supervisor of Elections office no later than 5 p.m. the day before the election to cure the unsigned ballot.

To request a ballot for another voter, you must be directly instructed by the voter and be a member of the voter’s immediate family or the voter’s legal guardian. Immediate family means the voter’s spouse or the parent, child, grandparent, or sibling of either the voter or of the voter’s spouse.

Requests can be made online, in person, by mail, by telephone, or by fax. All requests must include the voter’s name, residence address, and date of birth. The request must also include the requestor’s name, residence address, relationship to the voter, and driver’s license number, if available. Mail or fax requests must also include the requestor’s signature.

The last day to request your ballot be mailed is Wednesday, April 8, 2015, by 5 p.m. 

All absentee ballots must be received in the Supervisor of Elections Office by 7 p.m. on Election Day.  The Supervisor of Elections address is 111 S.E. 1st Avenue, Gainesville.

Based on the United States Postal Service’s new delivery standard, we recommend you mail your ballot no later than the Friday before Election Day to meet this deadline.

A voter may designate in writing another person to pick up an absentee ballot starting Thursday, April 9, 2015. The designee must have a note signed by the voter, a picture identification of the designee, and must complete an affidavit. The affidavit is available for download at The designee may not pick up more than two absentee ballots per election, not including the designee’s own ballot, and ballots for members of his or her immediate family (per F.S. 101.62 (4)(c)4).

The Supervisor of Elections may not provide an absentee ballot to a voter or a voter’s immediate family member on the day of the election unless there is an emergency, to the extent that the elector will be unable to go to his or her assigned polling place.  In order to provide an absentee ballot on Election Day, an affidavit is required which is available for download at

Vote at Your Precinct

Any voter may vote in the precinct of their residence between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, April 14th. Florida Law requires voters to present a current and valid picture and signature ID, or vote a provisional ballot.  If you need to locate your precinct, go to

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

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Commission Highlights

Water Conservation Month
The Board proclaimed April 2015 as “Water Conservation Month” in Alachua County, FL.
Attachment: Water Conservation Month 2015.pdf

Autism Awareness Month
The Board proclaimed April 2015 as “Autism Awareness Month” in Alachua County, FL.
Attachment: Autism Awareness Month 2015.pdf

Audit Reports
The Board accepted the audit reports from the County’s independent certified public accountants Carr, Riggs, and Ingram, LLC, as well as the FY2014 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), and the Florida State Comptrollers Annual Financial Report (AFR).  The Board authorized the Chair to sign the management response letter and to certify the AFR to the state.  The Board also authorized the Clerk of the Court to transmit the completed CAFR and Single Audit Report to the Auditor General.
Attachment: AFR Certification Letter request.pdf
2014 Alachua County CAFR.pdf
Management Response Letter 2014.pdf

Combined Communications Center Debt
The Board authorized the Chair to sign the letter demanding payment by the City of Waldo for its outstanding Combined Communications Center debt. The Board approved a 5-year repayment plan.
Amount: $78,855.81
Attachment: Waldo A R Detail FY10 to 14.pdf
Waldo Budgets FY10 to FY15.pdf
Chair Letter for Waldo Debt.pdf

Human Resources Director
The Board confirmed Karen Gerding as Human Resources Director for Alachua County effective March 24, 2015, and approved the designation of the Human Resources Director classification as Senior Management Retirement Service Class.
Attachment: Gerding K resume.pdf

Alachua County Solar Financing Strategies Report
The Board received the Alachua County Solar Financing Strategies report.
Attachment: SolarFinancingReport_032415.pdf

County Rooftop Solar Assessment
The Board accepted the information regarding the solar assessment of County rooftops and provided staff with direction to review the top ten project areas.
Attachment: Solar_Presentation_032415.pdf

Hawthorne Fire Station Solar Project
The Board authorized funding of the Hawthorne Fire Station solar project in an amount not to exceed $57,000 from the Utility Reinvestment Fund 210.  The Board directed staff to accept the rebate from Florida Power and Light in the amount of $40,640.  The Board found that the County accepting the duty to indemnify in the terms and conditions of the rebate is in the best interest of Alachua County, and accepted the duty to indemnify.  The Board authorized the Chair to sign a purchase order for the project, subject to an emergency purchase certification, and procurement effort by the Purchasing Manager.  The amount is not to exceed $57,000, and once the rebate is received, the funds will be placed in the Utility Reinvestment Fund.
Amount: $57,000.00

Lawn Alternatives
The Board adopted the recommendation to convert lawns to an alternative to St. Augustine grass.  The Board also directed staff to return with ROI information on how much will be saved by reducing and/or eliminating irrigation for a different ground cover.  The Board set a policy not to irrigate sod.

Wage Recovery Program Report
The Board accepted the report on the Wage Recovery Program.
Attachment: 2014WageRecoverySummary.pdf

Quarterly Financial Report
The Board accepted the Quarterly Financial Report.
Attachment: Qtr 1st 2015 Financial Reports BoCC.pdf

Purchase Order to Hall-Mark Fire Apparatus
The Board approved the Finance Report and Purchase Order 151217 issued to Hall-Mark Fire Apparatus, Inc., for the purchase of one (1) 2015 Level I Custom Pumper (E-One Custom Built Rescue Pumpers Built on a Typhoon 4-Door Chassis) and authorized the Chair to sign the Finance Report and the Purchase Order.
Amount: $343,661.00.
Hall-Mark Fire Apparatus FR.pdf
Hall-Mark Fire Apparatus PO.pdf

Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant
The Board authorized the Chair to send a letter in support of the Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant Application to continue funding for Rural Station Staffing.
Attachment: Letter of Support for 2014 grant request 03242015.pdf 

Lussier Dairy Storm Water and Agricultural Run-off
Concerning the Lussier Dairy storm water and agricultural run-off issue, the Board directed the County Manager to:

  1. Put Lussier Dairy and associated property owners on notice that their stormwater and agricultural run-off has damaged County property (road and conservation land) and requested they cease and desist this long-term and on-going violation of County ordinances.
  2. To cooperate with the dairy or associated landowners in seeking grants or other funding options to remedy the situation.
  3. To cooperate with Alachua Conservation Trust, Inc. as an affected party in any of these actions.
  4. To schedule the item for the first regular meeting in April.
  5. Request staff provide a chronology of events and that the County Manager allow appropriate County staff to attend and participate in any meetings and to review potential solutions.

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