March 20th edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government


This Issues Features:

Builders Can Receive Rebates for Saving Water
Community Weatherization Coalition Featured on Alachua County Talks
Public Defender’s Office Building Ribbon Cutting
Annual Springs Celebration and Chili Cook-Off
Florida’s Healthy Babies Meeting
DOH-Alachua Promotes Healthy Eating During National Nutrition Month
3-21-17 Special Meeting
Prevent Poisonings in Homes During National Poison Prevention Week
March Extension Programs
Commission Highlights

Builders Can Receive Rebates for Saving Water

Builders in Alachua County now have an opportunity to receive a $700 rebate for saving water. The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has received funding from the St. Johns River Water Management District to incentivize the Florida Water Star Program for new construction (including construction in the County and municipalities). A rebate of $700 is available to builders for each home and commercial structure that receives Florida Water Star Certification while funds are available. Florida Water Star is a voluntary water conservation certification program for new residential and commercial construction.

“Florida Water Star homes save an estimated $530 on annual utility bills and almost 50,000 gallons of water per year compared to typical homes,”  said EPD Water Conservation Coordinator Stacie Greco. “The goal of the program is to encourage construction practices that reduce water use demands on our groundwater so that there is more water available to replenish our springs, rivers, and lakes.”

To learn more about the rebate program and conserving water, visit the Alachua County Water Resources website.

For more information, contact Stacie Greco at 352-264-6829 or

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Community Weatherization Coalition Featured on Alachua County Talks

View this episode of Alachua County Talks.

A new edition of Alachua County Talks featuring an interview with Community Weatherization Coalition (CWC) Program Coordinator Alane Humrich premiered Friday, March 10, 2017, on Community 12 TV (Cox Cable Channel 12) at 7:30 p.m. The program covers the range of services provided by the CWC to improve home weatherization and energy efficiency for low-income households through education, volunteer work projects, and community-building.

In speaking of the program, Alachua County Talks host Mark Sexton said, “Through free home energy surveys the Community Weatherization Coalition saves County residents money and energy. Whether it is by providing home heating and cooling tips or by supplying energy saving light bulbs, the CWC is helping citizens.”

The latest editions of Alachua County Talks air on Cox Channel 12 at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. every night except Thursday, and at 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. and 12 a.m. every day. Special or Regular County Commission and Gainesville City Commission meetings may preempt any showing.

View the complete Channel 12 Schedule.

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

For more information, visit the Community Weatherization Coalition online or call 352-450-4965.

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Public Defender’s Office Building Ribbon Cutting

Watch the video.

This edition of Alachua County’s “Take 5” highlights the recently opened Alachua County Public Defender’s Office Building. The new building is located at 151 SW 2nd Avenue in Gainesville, Fl.

Public Defender Stacy Scott said, “Moving into this modern facility allows us to better serve the public. My staff and I are thrilled to see the project successfully completed.”

The Office of the Public Defender, 8th Judicial Circuit, represents adults and children charged with criminal offenses and clients held in civil commitment under the “Baker Act” and the “Sexually Violent Predator Act.” The 8th Circuit is comprised of Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy, and Union counties.  In FY 2014-15, circuit-wide the Public Defender’s Office represented a total of 13,985 clients in a total of 16,541 cases. In Alachua County, the office represented 8,835 clients with 10,387 cases. The office employs 68 people, with 50 of those employees working in the Alachua County headquarters.

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Annual Springs Celebration and Chili Cook-Off

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department, Florida State Parks, and The Friends of O’Leno invite citizens to the 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.). The event is on Saturday, April 1, 2017, at O’Leno State Park (410 S.E. 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.

The event includes a chili cook-off, live music from the Weeds of Eden, a guided walk along the River Trail, children’s activities, and environmental and art exhibits. Chili tasting kits will be on sale for $5. All proceeds assist the Friends of O’Leno non-profit organization with their mission of supporting the park

“The Springs Celebration is a great event for kicking off Water Conservation Month this April,” said Alachua County Environmental Protection Water Conservation Coordinator Stacie Greco. She continued, “When we over-water our crops and yards we may be harming the springs of the Santa Fe River by reducing the amount of water available to recharge these valuable resources. Come to the event to learn how to be part of the springs protection solution.”

View the event flyer and the Facebook event.

For more information, contact Stacie Greco at 352-264-6829.

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Florida’s Healthy Babies Meeting

The Florida Department of Health in Alachua County (DOH-Alachua) is hosting a Florida’s Healthy Babies meeting in collaboration with the Child Fatality Prevention Partnership. The meeting will be held on Thursday, March 30, 2017, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Thomas Coward Auditorium (224 S.E. 24th Street, Gainesville). Those wanting to attend must RSVP by March 24.

The meeting includes presentations from the Florida SIDS Alliance, Ounce of Prevention, Car Seat Safety Program, WIC Breast Pump Program, and other updates from local community initiatives.

All those interested are encouraged to attend.

To RSVP or for more information, contact Diane Duque at 352-225-4355 or

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DOH-Alachua Promotes Healthy Eating During National Nutrition Month

March 2017, is National Nutrition Month, and the Florida Department of Health in Alachua (DOH-Alachua) is promoting healthy eating and encouraging Floridians to make informed food choices. National Nutrition Month is sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and this year’s theme is “Put Your Best Fork Forward.” The campaign serves as a reminder that making small changes in food choices can add up over time to big health benefits.

“A balanced diet and regular physical activity are important to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of chronic disease,” said Health Department Administrator/Deputy Secretary for County Health Systems Paul D. Myers.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests the following to put the best fork forward:

Start the family’s day with a nutritious breakfast.

During each meal, fill half the plate with fruits and vegetables.

Make at least half of the grains eaten whole grains.

Talk positively about eating healthy foods around children, and lead by example.

Improving overall well-being also requires a lifelong commitment to healthful lifestyle behaviors, including daily physical activity. Parents can provide opportunities and encourage their children to spend time each day playing fun, physical activities. Families can plan an activity hour twice a week where parents and their children can participate in a physically active game together.

Healthiest Weight Florida is participating in the school districts celebration of National Nutrition Week by providing education about simple things children can do to make their plates more colorful with fruits and vegetables. FDOH-Alachua is providing health information during the Wellness Walks at Fred Cone Park (2841 E. University Avenue, Gainesville) on Monday nights. The Women, Infant, and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC) will be encouraging the public to lead a healthy lifestyle (by making informed food choices and being physically active) in their clinics. They will also set up booths at the Spring Festival and Vendor’s Fair on March 11th at Sidney Lanier Center School (312 N.W. 16th Avenue, Gainesville) and the Newberry Spring Festival (Downtown Newberry) on March 25th. Residents can also find them at the Children’s Day Event at the Early Learning Coalition of Florida’s Gateway (104 S.W. Main Boulevard, Lake City) on March 31st.

For more information about nutrition and National Nutrition Month, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.

For more information, contact FDOH-Alachua Health Communication Specialist John Gonzales at 352-334-7914 or

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3-21-17 Special Meeting

The Alachua County Commission will conduct a Special Meeting on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. The meeting begins at 1:30 p.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. Review of the Evergreen Solutions, LLC, Classification and Compensation Study for participating constitutional officers.

5. Replat of Buckingham South, Unit 2, Lot 5

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.

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.

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

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Prevent Poisonings in Homes During National Poison Prevention Week

During the 56th National Poison Prevention Week, celebrated March 19-25, 2017, the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County (DOH-Alachua) is sharing tips to ensure the safety of homes and communities and help prevent poisonings.

In 2016, nearly 38,000 poison exposure calls reported in Florida were regarding children age five and under. Poisonings are preventable, and it is every adult’s responsibility to keep children safe from harmful exposure to medications and chemicals around the home.

Florida’s Poison Control Centers handled 146,664 incoming calls during 2016. Poisonings can happen quickly, and it is important to know how to prevent poisoning and what to do in case a potentially dangerous product is consumed. Always keep the Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222 visibly posted in homes or classrooms in case of an emergency.

The Florida Poison Information Center Network recommends the following tips for poison prevention.

The Poison Help Line is free, confidential, and multilingual and automatically directs the caller to the poison control center covering their geographic area.

Download the poison patrol checklist to help identify and safely store household poisons.

For more information, contact DOH-Alachua Environmental Administrator Anthony Dennis at 352-334-7931 or


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March Extension Programs

Environmental & Community Horticulture Programs

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

Self-Watering Container Gardening – March 23, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

This workshop teaches how to build self-watering tomato containers with supplies that can easily be found locally. Additional information on how to use the containers and what grows in them will be presented. A self-watering container is provided as well as a tomato transplant with everything needed to grow healthy, tasty tomatoes. 

Registration is $20.00 for class and container; $5.00 for class only. Participants can register online (for an additional fee). There are no refunds for registration costs. The workshop is limited to 25 participants.

FFL Series: Water Efficiently – March 30, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

This workshop provides information on how to water yards efficiently and use irrigation systems properly. It will include hands-on training on calibrating irrigation systems and micro-irrigation. Participants should bring their water bills and will receive handbooks, materials, and snacks.

Registration is $15.00 for class or $20 per couple. Participants can register online (for an additional fee). There are no refunds for registration costs. This workshop is limited to 30 participants.

Family and Consumer Sciences Program

This program is being offered by Brenda C. Williams, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, at the UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office (2800 N.E. 39 Avenue, Gainesville).

Growing for Profit – Spring Series – March 25 and April 1, from 8:50 a.m. to noon

Small farmers or those considering starting a new farm business are encouraged to attend. Invited speakers from UF/IFAS Extension, SBDC, Florida Department of Agriculture, Water District, Farm Credit and more will help set the basis for a successful business.

View the series flyer.

Registration cost is $15 per class. Participants can register online (for an additional fee). There are no refunds for registration costs.

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

Mr. Fay’s Retirement
The Board recognized Mr. Fay for his thirty-four years of dedicated service by presenting him a token of appreciation.
Santa Fe CIED & GTEC Economic Development Incubators
Santa Fe College Associate Vice-President for Economic Development Doug Jones presented the Local impact of Santa Fe CIED & GTEC economic development incubators.
Item Summary Report
Mission Statements For The CIED
Environmental Testing, Mold Remediation and Repairs of Plumbing Issues
The Board approved the amendment to transfer funds to Facilities from County Reserves that were used for
environmental testing, mold remediation and repairs of plumbing issues in the showers/restrooms at the Consolidated Communications Center (CCC) and Work Release Buildings. Estimated cost at this time is $336,228
Item Summary Report
General Fund Reserve Sheet
Budget Adjustment For Restroom at CCC
Zegel’s Analysis Report for CCC
Zegel’s Cost Proposal for CCC
CCC Restroom/Shower Repair Photos
Sunshine Plumbing Initial Repair
Oelrich CCC Restoration Cost Proposal
Work Release Plumbing Chase Damage Photos
Zegel’s Report for Work Release
Zegel’s Cost Proposal for Work Release
BBI Construction Contract
CCC & WR Mold Remediation Spreadsheet for Costs
Sheriff Darnell’s Letter
Redevelopment, Cottage Neighborhoods, and Planned Developments
The Board gave staff direction to advertise public hearings to consider amendments to the Unified Land Development Code pertaining to Redevelopment, Cottage Neighborhoods, and Planned Developments.
Item Summary Report
Stepping Up Together Alachua County
The Board heard presentation on Stepping Up Together Alachua County by the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Health Care Services in San Antonio Texas Leon Evans and Captain Bella Blizzard of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office. The Board directed staff to put an item on the April 4, 2017, Policy Discussion agenda regarding current expenditures on mental health.
Staff should present the following:
What is the County currently spending on mental health issues? Present on March 23, 2017.  
Who are the recipients of these funds,  
The implications of the bill that gives the County responsibility for a central receiving facility for people with mental health/substance abuse issues and what are the requirements are so that the Board can have a broad discussion about the mental health including budget implications.  
What are the demands going to be for the central receiving facility? Present on March 23, 2017.   
Airbnb Properties
By consensus, the Board directed staff to request the Tax Collector Office to brief the Board regarding the collection of taxes from Airbnb properties as part of his presentation at the Constitutional Officers Special Budget Meeting.
Local Government Minimum Wage
The Board directed staff to return to the Board of County Commissioners as soon as feasible with a recommendation for ensuring that employees of County contractors are made aware of the Local Government Minimum Wage and their rights under the Wage Recovery Ordinance.
Net Neutrality
Communications And Legislative Affairs Director Mark Sexton advised the Board that the FCC has decided that the Internet will be treated as a common carrier which will require that the services must be sold to everybody on a non-discriminatory basis at reasonable prices, the same as airplane travel and train travel. He addressed the pros and cons to the Net Neutrality Bill. The Board directed Mr. Sexton to add support of Net Neutrality to the 2017 Federal Legislative Agenda
Internet Services the County
Communications And Legislative Affairs Director Mark Sexton advised the Board that the County staff is recommending that the County participate in the ongoing study to improve internet services in areas of the County. Staff will be participating in on going meetings and report back to the Board with developments that arise.


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Thank you for your continued interest in County Government!

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