January 18th edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government

 

This Issues Features:

Fairgrounds Update
County Manager and County Attorney Get Standing Ovation
Crisis Center Seeks Crisis Line Counselors
Little Orange Creek Preserve and Nature Park Grand Opening
Environmental Protection Advisory Committee Vacancy
Storm Spotter Class
The Alachua County Housing Programs Office has Moved
County Victim Services & Rape Crisis Center Seeks Crisis Line Counselors
Flu Vaccine Available at the Alachua County Health Department
County Commission Decisions and Actions
County Commission Chair Cornell Featured on Alachua County Talks
1-19-17 Special Meeting
January Extension Programs
Commission Highlights

Fairgrounds Update

During the January 3, Special Meeting, the County Commission moved forward with the Fairgrounds project at the new site near the Leveda Brown Transfer Station off Waldo Road. They chose to build the larger of the two proposed exhibit halls in order to expand the variety of future activities like indoor track meets, and volleyball and basketball tournaments.

There was a huge outpouring of public support at the meeting from the hospitality industry and supporters of sporting events.

In a related move, the Board listened to the staff report and authorized staff to move forward with working out the “Land-Swap” between Weyerhaeuser (Plum Creek) and the County. This will swap the existing fairgrounds land for forestland in the eastern portion of the county. This will facilitate economic development in east Gainesville at the current fairgrounds site and add valuable conservation land to the County’s inventory.

Watch the January 3 County Commission Special Meeting.

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County Manager and County Attorney Get Standing Ovation

The Alachua County Commission hires two employees, the County Manager (Dr. Lee A. Niblock) and the County Attorney (Michele Lieberman).  All other County employees work for these two professionals.  Each year the Commission conducts an annual performance review. At their January 10, 2017 meeting, the Board discussed the performance of the Manager and Attorney. 

Commissioner Robert Hutchinson made a motion that, “We declare the Manager and Attorney to be outstanding; that we place their evaluation score sheets in their personnel files; and, upon passage of this motion, we give them a standing ovation.” The motion passed unanimously. 

In expressing their gratitude for the Commission’s support, both the Manager and the Attorney praised their employees for their talent and hard work. 

“When I think about their performance,” commented Commission Chair Ken Cornell, “what I do is look at the staff and the team that they have built ... and I believe that we have the best staff, across the board, in the state.”

In speaking about the meeting, Communications & Legislative Affairs Director Mark Sexton said, “In my 12 year’s of watching this process, this is the first time I have witnessed a standing ovation at the conclusion of the evaluation.”

View the video of the evaluation discussion

Click the links below for annual performance review backup documents:

Item Summary Report
2016 County Attorney Accomplishment Report
2016 County Manager Accomplishment Report
2016 County Manager Accomplishment Report - Sun Article
2016 County Manager Evaluation Form
2016 County Attorney Evaluation Form
County Manager Evaluation Instructions
County Attorney Evaluation Instructions
CA Eval - Byerly
CA Eval - Chestnut
CA Eval - Cornell
CA Eval - Hutchinson
CA Eval - Pinkoson
CM Eval - Byerly
CM Eval - Chestnut
CM Eval - Cornell
CM Eval - Hutchinson
CM Eval - Pinkoson

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

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Crisis Center Seeks Crisis Line Counselors

The Alachua County Crisis Center is seeking volunteers to become Crisis Line Counselors. The next training class begins Saturday, January 21, 2017. After the initial all day session, training is on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (for six weeks). There is no fee for the training, and applicants do not need to possess any specific degrees or certification. Training is held at the Alachua County Crisis Center (218 S.E 24th Streets, Gainesville). After training is complete, the Crisis Center asks for a commitment of 24 four-hour shifts .

Volunteer counselors learn active listening, crisis intervention, suicide prevention, community disaster response and more. Volunteering is an opportunity to impact the lives of fellow community members and gain life-enhancing communication skills. 

Find out more information about the Crisis Center and apply online.

For more information, contact Alachua County Crisis Center Training Coordinator Jan Greene at 352-264-6782.

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Little Orange Creek Preserve and Nature Park Grand Opening

The Alachua County Commission invites the public to the Grand Opening of Little Orange Creek Preserve and Nature Park. The celebration is on Saturday, January 21, 2017, beginning at 10 a.m., at the Preserve Visitor’s Center (24115 S.E. Hawthorne Road, Hawthorne).

The Grand Opening Celebration includes a ribbon cutting, guided hikes, hay rides, tree planting, lunch, music, kids games, and a City of Hawthorne and Hawthorne Chamber of Commerce Wine Tasting.

“This is a model project for how counties, cities, and non-profits can work together to protect and preserve our precious earth,” said Alachua County Commission Chair Ken Cornell. “I encourage the public to join us for a great day of celebration.”

The Little Orange Creek Preserve and Nature Park is the result of a partnership between governments and organizations including Alachua County, the City of Hawthorne, Alachua Conservation Trust, Putnam Land Conservancy, Friends of Little Orange Creek, and the Conservation Trust of Florida. It encompasses more than 2,873 acres of flatwoods, mesic and hydric hammocks, forested swamps including cypress domes and open freshwater marshes. The preserve is crucial for local water resources, Florida Black Bear habitat, rare pitcher plant bogs, and other wildlife and native plants.

View/download the Grand Opening Program (includes a map of the preserve).

For more information, contact Alachua Conservation Trust Executive Director Tom Kay at 352-373-1078.

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Environmental Protection Advisory Committee Vacancy

Alachua County is seeking applicants to fill one opening on the Environmental Protection Advisory Committee (EPAC). The committee meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m., at the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (408 W. University Avenue, Gainesville). EPAC provides an opportunity for citizen involvement on environmental issues and concerns affecting residents of Alachua County. It advises the Board of County Commissioners on appropriate measures to safeguard air and water resources and on the responsible management of public lands and natural resources.  EPAC currently has one at-large position vacancy.

Interested applicants may apply online (scroll down the page to Environmental Protection Advisory Committee).

For more information, contact Alachua County Environmental Protection Water Resources Manager Gus Olmos at 352-264-6806 or gus@alachuacounty.us.

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Storm Spotter Class

Alachua County Emergency Management, in cooperation with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, is sponsoring a Storm Spotter class on Wednesday, February 8, 2017, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The class is at the Alachua County Emergency Operations Center (1100 S.E. 27th Street, Gainesville).

The training teaches volunteers how to identify, describe, and report significant local weather events. This information helps the National Weather Service fulfill their mission to protect lives and property.

Alachua County Assistant Emergency Management Director Jeff Bielling said, “A network of trained volunteer observers are the eyes and ears on the ground that provide information which is used to improve weather watch and warning services.”

For more information or to register, contact Jeff Bielling at 352-264-6520 or jbielling@alachuacounty.us.

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The Alachua County Housing Programs Office has Moved

The Alachua County Housing Programs Office has moved to the Alachua County Department of Community Support Services (218 S.E. 24th Street, Gainesville). The office is no longer at the Alachua County Department of Growth Management.

The goal of the Alachua County Housing Programs is to preserve and expand the availability of safe, sanitary, and affordable housing for low to moderate income households. Funding is received from federal and state grants for housing programs such as down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers, home repair and replacement, and rental assistance. Programs include State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP), Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Housing Rehab and local Housing Finance Authority programs.

Learn more at the Alachua County Housing Programs website.                   

For more information, contact the Housing Programs Office at 352-337-6284.

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County Victim Services & Rape Crisis Center Seeks Crisis Line Counselors

The Alachua County Victim Services & Rape Crisis Center seeks volunteers to serve as crisis phone line counselors. Spring volunteer training is held over the course of nine weeks on Wednesdays, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., beginning on February 1, 2017.

Volunteers serve as helpline counselors who answer the agency’s 24/7 crisis phone lines while the office is closed (nights and weekends). Potential volunteers will undergo over 40 hours of training in crisis intervention, advocacy and the dynamics of sexual violence, and be certified in Advocacy Core Training through the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence. In addition to an online course, volunteers will meet weekly for group classes and interactive role plays facilitated by the agency’s staff.

Sexual Assault Program Manager Jessie Lazarchik said, “Many people want to help, but they aren’t sure how. Becoming a helpline volunteer gives them a great opportunity to learn the skills that allow them to support and serve survivors in our community.” She continued, “We are seeking caring and compassionate volunteers to make a difference in the lives of individuals hurt by violent crime.”

Visit the agency’s website for an online application and more information.

For more information, contact Jessie Lazarchik at 352-264-6767.

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Flu Vaccine Available at the Alachua County Health Department

The Florida Department of Health in Alachua County (DOH-Alachua) continues to offer the influenza vaccine and encourages residents to take advantage of dwindling supplies.  “Receiving an influenza vaccine is the primary preventive measure against influenza infection.” stated Paul Myers, Administrator of the DOH-Alachua.  “In addition to getting a flu shot, staying home when ill, practicing proper cough etiquette and washing your hands are effective personal means to protect yourself and the community from a variety of illnesses.”

Flu shots are being offered at the Health Department’s main clinic in Gainesville located at 224 SE 24th Street, phone number (352) 334-7950, the City of Alachua satellite clinic located in the Hitchcock’s shopping plaza located at 15530 NW US Hwy 441, phone number (386) 462-2542, and the SW Clinic located at 816 SW 64th Terrace, Gainesville, phone number (352) 225-4320.  Walk-ins are accepted at the Gainesville site, Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Appointments are required at the Alachua and S.W. Clinics.

This year’s flu vaccine is effective against the major circulating strains of flu.  The cost for the vaccine is $25.00. If citizens have Medicare part B, there is no charge if they bring their Medicare B card and any supplemental insurance cards with them.  Citizens who normally receive their vaccines from providers other than the Health Department should contact them for vaccine availability.  Those between the ages of 6 months and 18 years who are uninsured, have Medicaid or an insurance that does not cover the immunization may receive the vaccine at the Alachua County Health Department at no cost to them.

For more information, including forms to expedite your visit, visit the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County’s website.

For more information, contact the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County Senior RN Supervisor Michael Smith at 352-334-8827.

 

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County Commission Decisions and Actions

Commission Approves Reduction in Eastside Fees to Spur Development

The Commission gave preliminary approval for applicants in the east side of the unincorporated County to receive a 50 percent reduction in application fees for Comprehensive Plan amendments, Zoning Changes, or Development Review applications. The reduction will apply to the areas within the eastern portions of Urban Cluster where new developments are served by water, sewer and other services. The intent of the reduced fees in this area is to help incentivize economic development on the east side. The Commission also gave preliminary approval for reduced building permit fees for lower income residents for the entire unincorporated County. If an existing home has an adjusted just value of $50,000 or less and has a homestead exemption, then any building permit fee will be reduced by 50 percent.

Commission Moves to Enhance Water Quality

The Commission discussed the status of several water quality improvement initiatives. In response, County staff is proceeding to draft amendments to the County’s Water Quality Code to include minimum standards for wetland protection and stormwater treatment, as authorized by the County Charter. Since these standards are proposed to be applicable throughout the County, including municipalities, the BoCC requested staff to inform and engage the municipalities in the Water Quality Code amendment process.

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County Commission Chair Cornell Featured on Alachua County Talks

The latest episode of Alachua County Talks, features an interview with Alachua County Commission Chair Ken Cornell. The interview covers a number of important issues currently facing Alachua County and the County Commission.

In speaking of the program, Alachua County Talks host Mark Sexton said, “Chair Cornell discusses issues of public safety, funding for roadway repairs, board-approved millage rate reductions, the importance of economic development, the voter approved Wild Spaces/ Public Places Referendum, and minimum wage increases for County employees and employees of contractors working with the County.”

View the Interview Online.

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

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1-19-17 Special Meeting

The Alachua County Commission will conduct a Special Meeting on Thursday, January 19, 2017. The meeting begins at 10 a.m. in the Grace Knight Conference Room, located on the second floor of the Alachua County Administration Building (12 S.E. 1st Street, downtown Gainesville).

The meeting agenda includes:

2. FY18 Budget Development Guidelines

View the agenda and back-up items.

The public is invited to attend the meeting. It will be available to view live on Cox Channel 12 and the County’s Video on Demand website. If the meeting runs past 1 p.m., it will be preempted by the City of Gainesville’s Regular City Commission Meeting.

Free parking is available for citizens attending these meetings. Please park in the S.W. Parking Garage (105 S.W. 3rd Street, 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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January Extension Programs

Environmental Horticulture Programs

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

Designing Your Edible Landscape – January 19, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Learn how you can incorporate edibles into your existing landscape, including fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs. Bring photos or a sketch of your current landscape.

This workshop is limited to 40 participants. Registration is $5.00 for class. Participants can register online (with an additional fee), or call 352-337-6209.

Vegetable Seed Workshop – January 31, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

This workshop will provide information on growing seeds for vegetable gardens, as well as how to make an inexpensive seed light. Participants will plant seeds that will be ready for their warm-season garden, as well as take home additional seeds for direct seeding.

This workshop is limited to 30 participants. Registration is $15.00 for the class or $20.00 per couple. Participants can register online (with an additional fee), or call 352-337-6209.

Commercial Horticulture Programs

These programs are being offered by Dr. Tatiana Sanchez, Commercial Horticulture Agent.

Florida Agriculture Network January Meeting (Topic: “Growing Leafy Greens on Small Acreages for Local Markets”) – January 30, from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., at 1930 N.E. CR 225, Lawtey

Attendees will meet farmer Ben Strong and tour a production area to observe how greens are produced and direct marketed in Lawtey. Chef James Jackson, from the Call Street Café in Starke, will prepare a meal from local foods and discuss his desire and need to source local food for his restaurant. Purchasing a meal is optional, but it must be paid for by January 23. Attendees who do not wish to eat are welcome to attend the workshop. UF/IFAS researchers will share a stink bug insect pests update and cole crop cultural practices. There will also be allotted time for farmers to network.

Registration fee (including meal) is $12 payable online (with additional fee), or mail registration fee to UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office, 2800 N.E. 39 Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32609 (payable to Alachua County Extension Office) by January 23. Those interested can attend the workshop only (free/no meal) by calling 352-955-2402.

For more information, contact Jim DeValeiro, UF/IFAS Extension Bradford County at 904-966-6299 or Tatiana Sanchez, UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County at 352-955-2402.

Those interested can join the Florida Agriculture Network’s Facebook group.

Hydroponic Vegetable Nutrient Management – January 31, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center (8202 CR 417, Live Oak) 

This Small Farms Academy short course will cover topics such as plant nutrient basics, water quality and media selections, fertilizer mixtures, water pH, nutrient solution monitoring and fine-tuning, injectors, equipment and meters, and hands-on sessions.

This short course has a cost of $85. Register by Wednesday, January 25 payable online (with additional fee), or mail registration fee to 7580 County Road 136, Live Oak, FL 32060 (payable to University of Florida).

For more information, contact Dilcia Toro at 352-362-1725 ext. 102, or dtoro@ufl.edu, Karen Hancock at 386-362-1725 ext. 101 or khancock@ufl.edu, and Tatiana Sanchez at 352-955-2402 or tatiana.sanchez@ufl.edu.

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

SHIP Incentive Strategies Report
The Board accepted the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee SHIP Incentive Strategies Report.
Item Summary Report
AHAC Housing Incentive Strategies
Resolution 08-40
Resolution 08-67
Current LHAP 2014-2017
Wild Spaces Public Places
Concerning direction on Wild Spaces Public Places, the Board directed staff to go forward working with Clerk’s Office/Finance Department, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Legal Department to create an optimum borrowing schedule for the acquisition of land so that County is not paying interest rather than purchasing lands or making improvements while being mindful of the current interest rate market 

Item Summary Report
County Project List
Wild Spaces Public Places Joint Project Grant
Concerning the Wild Spaces Public Places Joint Project Grant, the Board approved the following:
Examples of PRIMARY eligible items are the construction of courts, ball fields, recreational lighting, playground equipment/safety surface, picnic facilities, fishing piers, conservation projects, linear parks, projects that connect to or have the potential to connect recreational areas inside and outside the municipalities, trail acquisition, and other recreation-oriented facilities.
Examples of Support eligible items are restrooms, parking signage, water systems, irrigation and drinking fountains. Professional services such as environmental permitting and engineering services are also eligible.
Assistance provided by the County will be on a reimbursement basis, not to exceed 50 percent of the approval grant element(s), however other funding formulas will be considered during the review of the application.
All facilities must be open to all County residents with an equal fee structure to Unincorporated Resident users.
Upon project completion, on-site signage must recognize the contribution of the Alachua County Citizens.
All projects must meet current ADA access requirements for the intended project.
The County Manager is to establish a schedule for grants working with the Land Conservation Board, Open Space Recreation Advisory Board, and Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Board on a Deadline of end of July consistent with the budgeting process.
Add the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens to the list of eligible facilities and return to the Board with any other public facilities that are eligible.
Item Summary Report
Ordinance
Joint Project Grant Application
City of Gainesville Letter 071316
County Manager’s and County Attorney’s Annual Evaluation
Concerning the County Manager’s and County Attorney’s Annual Evaluation, the Board declared, “the Manager and Attorney to be outstanding; that we place their evaluation score sheets in their personnel files; and, upon passage of this motion, we give them a standing ovation.” The motion passed unanimously.
Item Summary Report
2016 County Attorney Accomplishment Report
2016 County Manager Accomplishment Report
2016 County Manager Accomplishment Report - Sun Article
2016 County Manager Evaluation Form
2016 County Attorney Evaluation Form
County Manager Evaluation Instructions
County Attorney Evaluation Instructions
CA Eval - Byerly
CA Eval - Chestnut
CA Eval - Cornell
CA Eval - Hutchinson
CA Eval - Pinkoson
CM Eval - Byerly
CM Eval - Chestnut
CM Eval - Cornell
CM Eval - Hutchinson
CM Eval - Pinkoson
Property Access Discussion
Concerning Mr. Ronnie Everett property access discussion, the Board referred this matter to the County Manager and County Attorney to come back with some sort of License Agreement that includes transferability for the Board to consider with the preferred route to be the staff recommended route. Further staff should have discussions with Mr. Everett regarding the feasibility of a sale of the property.
Item Summary Report
Power Point


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