April 18th edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government

 

This Issues Features:

Alachua County Closes Loophole in Minimum Wage Ordinance
2016 FMNP Coupons Available
County Website Notification System
Expanding the Conservation Mindset
Bike Sharing and Safety Lunch and Learn
Interstate 75 Nighttime Northbound Detour
Foster Grandparent Program Recognized for Service
Alachua County adopts anti-fracking ordinance
2016 Fair Housing Expo
04-19-16 Special Meeting
April Extension Programs
Commission Highlights

Alachua County Closes Loophole in Minimum Wage Ordinance

The Gainesville Sun ran a story on April 13, 2016, about the decision made at the County Commission Regular Meeting on April 12 regarding the minimum wage ordinance.

“County commissioners on Tuesday gave unanimous approval to a minimum wage ordinance, voting to close a loophole in existing law that allows public contractors to pay workers less than the $12 hourly rate required for county employees.

After the vote, organized labor was championing the measure as the “strongest and most comprehensive living wage ordinance of its kind in the state, and maybe in the nation.” The ordinance will become law in 10 days, and will not affect the private sector. The expanded requirement is estimated to impact more than 100 employees who work for companies that contract with Alachua County, but who previously have not been entitled to the county employee minimum wage.”

Continue reading on the Gainesville Sun website.

2016 FMNP Coupons Available

The Florida Department of Health and The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) kicks off their seasonal Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) in April 2016. Coupon booklets are available at all Alachua County WIC Clinics. The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program provides eligible WIC participants with coupons to purchase fresh Florida fruits and vegetables, locally grown. The program is administered by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, in cooperation with the Florida Department of Health.

“The purpose of the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is to improve the health of women and children and to encourage the purchase of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables directly from local farmers,” stated Candi Morris, Vendor Manager at the Alachua WIC Program. “These direct purchases increase the farmers’ share of the food dollars, keep more of the consumer dollars in local communities, and help to revitalize rural areas.”

For more information, visit the USDA’s WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program website or contact Candi Morris at 352-225-4375.

Current clients may call to inquire about the coupons, or schedule an appointment at the local number 352-225-4343 or the toll-free number, 1-800-494-2543.

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County Website Notification System

The County’s goal is to provide excellent customer service. To that end, the Alachua County website offers a “Contact Us” notification system.

On the Alachua County website, users can access the system by selecting “Contact Us” from the top menu bar. A drop down form will appear allowing users to fill out and submit concerns directly to the proper County department.  These forms allow citizens to submit general “Comments” as well as notifications for “Dangerous or Stray Animals,” “Dangerous Road Conditions,” “Illegal Dumping,” “Sinkholes,” and “Waste Collection Problems.”

This notification system, created by the Alachua County Information and Telecommunications Services Department, helps County staff stay informed about community issues, and allows citizens direct access to the County for issue resolution.

For more information, contact Alachua County Information and Telecommunications Director Kevin Smith at 352-338-7300.

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Expanding the Conservation Mindset

Keeping utility costs low and conserving our Earth’s resources are important to Alachua County.  Each department in the County has leaders in these efforts called Conservation Champs. The Champs promote competitive interoffice challenges, during which employees make changes at home and work to save energy, reduce waste, and live sustainably.  Champs also report problems with excess energy or water usage.  Surveys of co-workers are coordinated by Champs with the goal of promoting behaviors that turn off lights and computer equipment.

Water Energy and Waste Opportunities for Conservation (WEWOC), launched in fall of 2015, expands on the goals of the Conservation Champs to include a new series of outreach events for both citizens and County employees.  The WEWOC program, through the Office of Sustainability, supports the County’s conservation goals and sustainability initiatives.

“Lunch and Learn” events are a new component of the WEWOC program.  At these one-hour events, citizens and County staff learn about a variety of sustainability related topics such as how to improve their health by eating low carbon foods and how to reduce their carbon footprint. Alachua County’s community partners lead these workshops. To date, citizens and County employees have learned about home weatherization, climate change, solar energy, and low-carbon diets, bike safety, sustainable home gardening, and upcycling.

To learn about upcoming Lunch and Learn events or the WEWOC program, contact the Rachel Wayne, Program Development Specialist in the Office of Sustainability at 352-264-6986 or rwayne@alachuacounty.us.

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Bike Sharing and Safety Lunch and Learn

The Alachua County Office of Sustainability invites citizens to a “Lunch and Learn” about bike sharing programs and cycling safety, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016, from noon to 1 p.m. The free event is in the Community Treasures Conference Room, on the first floor of the Alachua County Administration Building (12 S.E. 1st Street, downtown Gainesville).

Jacob Adams of UF’s Office of Sustainability, Scott Wright of the City of Gainesville, and Joseph Floyd of the Active Streets Alliance will discuss the bike sharing and rental programs available in Alachua County. The event will also provide information on safe cycling.

This Lunch and Learn is part of a biweekly series of workshops on a variety of sustainability topics.

The Office of Sustainability offers the Lunch and Learn events as an opportunity for community discussion and empowerment. Participants are urged to walk, bus, or bike to the event. Parking is also available in the City parking garage (105 SW 3rd St, Gainesville). City parking garage tickets may be presented for validation. Participants are welcome to bring a brown-bag lunch. Lunch is not provided.

For more information, contact Alachua County Office of Sustainability Program Development Specialist Rachel Wayne at 352-264-6986 or rwayne@alachuacounty.us.

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Interstate 75 Nighttime Northbound Detour

Beginning Friday, April 22, 2016, from midnight to 4 a.m., drivers traveling north on Interstate 75 will be detoured to Archer Road (Exit 384), then to S.W. 34th Street (State Road 121), then to Newberry Road (State Road 26), and finally to Interstate 75 North.

The Archer Road Interstate 75 northbound on-ramp will be closed. Drivers will be detoured to Tower Road, then to Newberry Road (State Road 26), and finally to Interstate 75 North.

The detour is needed to move construction equipment across the Interstate 75 northbound lane and position it on the shoulder.

For more information, contact Karen Harrell with Quest Corporation of America at 800-927-0062 or info@CelebrationPointBridge.com.

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Foster Grandparent Program Recognized for Service

The Alachua County Commission proclaimed April 5, 2016, as “Recognition Day for National Service” and recognized the Alachua County Foster Grandparent Program (FGP) for their work in the community.

April 5, 2016, is recognized nationally by the Corporation for National and Community Service as the annual Mayor and County Day of Recognition for National Service. The goals of this day are to highlight the impact of national service in addressing some of the most pressing challenges facing cities and counties and to thank those serving in AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs.

In Alachua County, FGP volunteers are actively engaged in efforts to address important community needs. Notable contributions made locally include:

The Alachua County Foster Grandparent Program is currently seeking volunteers to work one-on-one with children, especially in Head Start classes, elementary schools, and after school programs.

FGP was established in Alachua County in 1973. It is part of the Corporation for National and Community Service and is sponsored locally by the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners.

For more information, call the Alachua County Foster Grandparent Program at 352-264-6731.

 

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Alachua County adopts anti-fracking ordinance

On Friday, April 15, 2016, The Gainesville Sun published an article about the County’s anti-fracking ordinance.

“Take your fracking business elsewhere.

That was the sentiment behind an anti-oil and natural gas extraction ordinance adopted this week by the Alachua County Commission.

The ordinance, approved unanimously, prohibits both oil and natural gas extractions and prohibits disposing of extraction waste by well-injection methods into the earth. County officials cite concerns over water quality from the extraction process as their reason behind the ordinance.”

Continue reading on the Gainesville Sun website.

 

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2016 Fair Housing Expo

In celebration of April as Fair Housing Month, the Alachua County and City of Gainesville Equal Opportunity Offices, the Alachua County and City of Gainesville Housing Authorities, and the Alachua County and City of Gainesville Housing Divisions are hosting the 2016 Fair Housing Expo. The expo is Thursday, April 21, 2016, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Martin Luther King Jr. Multipurpose Center (1028 N.E. 14th Street, Gainesville). It is free and open to the public.

The theme for this year’s expo is “Shared Opportunity in Every Community.” It showcases lenders, services, housing programs, realtors, landlords, builders, and other housing professionals. The expo promotes awareness of fair and equal opportunities in housing and brings together consumers and providers.

For more information or to reserve a vendor table, contact the Alachua County Equal Opportunity Office at 352-374-5275.

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04-19-16 Special Meeting

The Alachua County Commission will conduct a Special Meeting on Tuesday, April 19, 2016. The meeting begins at 10 a.m. in the Jack Durrance Auditorium (room 209), located on the second floor of the Alachua County Administration Building (12 S.E. 1st Street, downtown Gainesville).

The meeting agenda includes:

1. FY17 Budget Development Update - Fiscal History

2. FY17 Budget Development- FY16 Level of Service

3. FY17 Budget Development - Columbia County model for funding Sheriff

View agenda and backup.

The public is invited to attend the meeting. It will be available to view live on Cox Channel 12 or the County’s Video on Demand website.

Free parking is available for citizens attending this meeting. Please park in the S.W. Parking Garage (220 S.E. 2nd Ave, Gainesville) and bring your parking stub to the Alachua County Manager’s Office, located on the 2nd floor of the County Administration Building, to receive a chaser validation ticket.

Citizens are encouraged to stay engaged by clicking on and signing up for the following products: Facebook Twitter Newsletter/Press Release

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

 

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April Extension Programs

Environmental and Community Horticulture Program

The UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office is pleased to announce the following Environmental and Community Horticulture Program for April 2016. This program is being offered by Denise DeBusk, Environmental & Community Horticulture Agent, at the UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office (2800 NE 39 Avenue, Gainesville).

Growing Blueberries – April 21, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Alachua County is one of the top blueberry producing counties in the state. Rabbiteye blueberries are easily grown in this area. This class covers planting, fertilizing, and pruning.

There is no cost to attend these classes unless indicated, and space is limited. Pre-register at least three days before class by calling 352-337-6209 (voice mail).

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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Thank you for your continued interest in County Government!

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