April 17th edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government

 

This Issues Features:

Commission Chair Cornell Appointed to NACo Committee
Gopher Tortoise Day
2017 Fair Housing Expo
Alachua County Talks: Mental Health First Aid & County Court Services
Upcoming Forum on Alachua County’s Proposed Stormwater Requirements
Road Renamed for Alachua County Medal of Honor Recipient Dewey
Firefighter for a Day
New WIC Clinic in Gainesville
Turf Swap Rebate Program
April Extension Programs
4-18-17 Special Meeting
Commission Highlights

Commission Chair Cornell Appointed to NACo Committee

Alachua County Commission Chair Ken Cornell has been appointed to the National Association of County’s (NACo) Environment, Energy, and Land Use Steering Committee (EELU). This appointment runs until July 31, 2017.

The EELU advises the NACo Board of Directors on matters pertaining to air, water, energy, and land use, including water resources/management, stormwater, pesticides, air quality standards, climate change, solid, hazardous and nuclear waste handling, transport and disposal, national energy policy, renewable/alternative energy, alternative fuel vehicles, energy facility siting, electricity utility restructuring, pipeline safety, oil spills, superfund/brownfields, eminent domain, land use, coastal management, oceans, parks and recreation. Members of the EELU can introduce policy resolutions and platform changes and vote on other proposed resolutions and platform changes. They participate in conference calls and receive regular updates from NACo staff.

In speaking of the appointment, Chair Cornell said, “It is an honor to serve on this committee.  I look forward to working on these critical issues and influencing NACo on behalf of the public that the County Commission serves.”

View the EELU’s current platform and resolutions.

Learn more about the EELU.

For more information, contact the Alachua County Commission Office at 352-264-6900.

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Gopher Tortoise Day

Monday, April 10, 2017, is Gopher Tortoise Day in Alachua County and Florida. Gopher Tortoise Day is a newly-launched effort to highlight the importance of conserving this species currently threatened in the state, whose presence goes back 60 million years. Gopher tortoises live in every county in Florida and are known for their extraordinary digging skills. These gray or brown tortoises use shovel-like forearms to carve out burrows averaging several yards deep and 5 yards long. Their burrows give shelter to hundreds of other native species.

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (EPD) encourages the public to be aware of the gopher tortoise as a Florida keystone species and learn how their actions can strengthen recovery efforts. From now through May, for example, the gopher tortoise is increasingly active, leaving its underground burrow in search of spring greenery to eat and, in many cases, a mate. People can help by watching out for a tortoise crossing the highway and, if it’s safe to do so, picking it up and placing it on the roadside in the direction it was heading (Don’t put this terrestrial animal in the water).

“Many Floridians and visitors to the state are knowledgeable about gopher tortoises and willing to take actions to help them. We’re excited about Gopher Tortoise Day as a way to get more people involved,” said Deborah Burr, who leads the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) gopher tortoise management program.

“We are fortunate to have nature preserves in Alachua County that harbor and protect these great animals,” said EPD Natural Resources Program Manager Stephen Hofstetter. “You can visit the many nature parks and preserves in Alachua County to see this incredible species.”

For information about parks and preserves, visit the Parks and Conservation Lands website

Citizens can help protect the species by using the Florida Gopher Tortoise app, which gives people a chance to report gopher tortoise sightings while learning about the species.

Read the County Commission Gopher Tortoise Day proclamation.

Learn more about gopher tortoises.

For more information, contact Stephen Hofstetter at 352-264-6811 or shofstetter@alachuacounty.us.

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2017 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 2017 Fair Housing Expo. The expo is Thursday, April 27, 2017, 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 “Building Equal Housing Opportunities in our 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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Alachua County Talks: Mental Health First Aid & County Court Services

This edition of Alachua County Talks features an interview with Alachua County Court Services Director Peria Duncan. The program focuses on Alachua County’s efforts to provide mental health first aid training to all County employees in order to help those experiencing mental health issues.

Watch the video.

In speaking of the program, Alachua County Talks host Mark Sexton said, “Alachua County has made an extraordinary effort to become a leader in this highly important but often overlooked aspect of community health. These efforts are increasing mental health literacy in Alachua County, and helping the public to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness.”

For more information, visit www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org, www.alachuacounty.us/courtservices, or call 352-338-7390.

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Upcoming Forum on Alachua County’s Proposed Stormwater Requirements

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Advisory Committee (EPAC), the League of Women Voters, and the Alachua County Emerging Leaders are hosting a panel discussion on the proposed Alachua County Stormwater Treatment Manual. The discussion is on Thursday, April 20, 2017, at 6 p.m. at the Alachua County Senior Recreation Center (5701 N.W. 34th Blvd, Gainesville)

The panelists for the discussion are Mark Clark (University of Florida), Eric Livingston (Watershed Management Services, LLC), Rory P. Causseaux (Causseaux, Hewett, & Walpole, Inc.), Matt Surrency (Mayor of the City of Hawthorne) and Jim Gross (Florida Defenders of the Environment). The discussion will be moderated by Marihelen Wheeler.

The County is proposing advanced stormwater treatment requirements to protect water quality, restore watersheds, and achieve pollution reduction goals. As authorized by the County Charter, the County is proposing to adopt minimum County-wide requirements for advanced stormwater treatment to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from new sources of urban stormwater runoff. The County proposes to encourage “best practices” for managing stormwater by incorporating updated treatment technologies into system design, operation, and maintenance. The proposed performance standards include best practices for low impact design, operation, and maintenance of stormwater infrastructure. The proposed standards require newly constructed urban stormwater infrastructure to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution discharges to varying levels, depending upon site-specific factors and the existing pollutant levels of the receiving watershed.

Citizens are encouraged to participate in the conversation by submitting questions in advance to Gus Olmos at gus@alachuacounty.us and to attend the forum to continue the conversation.

EPAC is one of 34 boards that provide guidance to Alachua County government. EPAC provides an opportunity for citizen involvement in 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 responsible management of public lands and resources.

The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan, grassroots political organization that works to improve our systems (local, state, national) of government by impacting public policies through citizen education and advocacy. The ultimate goal of the League is to empower citizens to improve the quality of life in communities worldwide.

Alachua County Emerging Leaders is a resource for and about young people in Alachua County. Their vision is for this community to become an increasingly desirable place for diverse, talented young people to flourish.

For more information, contact EPAC Chair David Moritz at 352-332-2385 or davidmgf@bellsouth.net.

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Road Renamed for Alachua County Medal of Honor Recipient Dewey

Alachua County has renamed S.E. 174th Place as Corporal Duane E. Dewey Place. The community held a Renaming Ceremony on Friday, February 10, 2017, at 10 a.m. 

Corporal Dewey was issued the Medal of Honor by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953. The Medal of Honor is the United States of America’s highest military honor, awarded for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. S.E. 174th Place in Cross Creek is the road that Corporal Dewey has lived on for the past 30 years.

Watch the video.

For more information, contact Kim Smith at 352-264-6740 or kismith@alachuacounty.us.

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Firefighter for a Day

Alachua County Fire Rescue is hosting its second annual “Firefighter for a Day” on Saturday, April 22, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This free event is at Loften High School (3000 E. University Ave, Gainesville), and includes activities for all ages.

There will be fire truck and ambulance tours, search and rescue demonstrations, CPR demonstrations, and concessions for food and refreshments. Participants can spray a fire hose, put on fire gear, watch the “jaws of life” in action, and have all their questions about Alachua County Fire Rescue answered by professional firefighters. All proceeds from the concessions will be donated to the Loften Professional Academies Magnet Fire/EMS Program.

Alachua County Fire Rescue Diversity Recruitment Officer Karem Scott-Kotb said, “Please come out and enjoy yourself with your local firefighters from Alachua County Fire Rescue.”

For more information, contact Karem Scott-Kotb at 352-384-3124 or Kristina Patten at kpatten@alachuacounty.us.

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New WIC Clinic in Gainesville

The Florida Department of Health Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) has a new clinic in Northwest Gainesville. This location is WIC’s fifth clinic in Alachua County and is located within the Tower Hill complex (210 N.W. 75th Drive Gainesville). This clinic will be replacing the previous Park Avenue location. Prospective and current clients may call to inquire about the program or schedule an appointment at the local number 352-225-4343 or 1-800-494-2543.

“We invite all those participants that were going to our Park Avenue location to come check out this beautifully renovated clinic conveniently located off of Tower Road,” said Florida Department of Health in Alachua County Community Program Manager Diana Duque. “We would also like to encourage those who are pregnant and mothers of children less than five years of age to contact the WIC program for eligibility assistance.”

For more information, contact Diana Duque at 352-225-4355 or Diana.Duque@flhealth.gov.

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Turf Swap Rebate Program

Alachua County’s Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has received $300,000 in funding from the St. Johns River Water Management District to reduce water use by replacing irrigated turf with Florida Friendly Landscaping. A 50 percent rebate, up to $2,000 is available to property owners that meet program criteria while funds are available. The program is open to homeowners, commercial properties, and Homeowner Associations within Alachua County, including the municipalities.

Participants are encouraged to call EPD staff at 352-264-6800 to make sure they fully understand the program requirements before making changes in their landscapes. Work must be conducted by qualified “SWAP Shops” and must include at least partial removal of traditional irrigation.

“Newer homes with irrigation systems use over 350 gallons per day on average,” said EPD Water Conservation Coordinator Stacie Greco. She continued, “The goal of the Turf SWAP program is to help property owners replace part of their high water use landscapes with those that use less water and fertilizer.”

Learn more about the Turf Swap program on their website.

Learn more about conserving water, visit the County’s My Yard Our Water website http://www.alachuacounty.us/Depts/EPD/WaterResources/myyardourwater/Pages/default.aspx     .

For more information, contact Stacie Greco at 352-264-6829 or sgreco@alachuacounty.us.

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April Extension Programs

Commercial Horticulture Programs

These programs are being offered by Dr. Tatiana Sanchez, Commercial Horticulture Agent at the UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office (2800 N.E. 39th Avenue, Gainesville).

Made for Shade – April 19, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens (4700 S.W. 58th Drive, Gainesville)

The class covers plants used for areas with shade, including groundcovers, perennials, shrubs, and trees. After a presentation in the classroom, participants explore the Camellia/Azalea garden on a guided tour highlighting shade plants. The class will be led by Master Gardeners, Lissa Campbell and Irma Velez.

The class is free, but participants must pay the entrance fee into Kanapaha Botanical Gardens ($8.00) at the door and can explore the rest of the garden after the class. There is no cost for members. Participants can register online. This class is limited to 30 participants.

Florida-Friendly Landscaping Series: Attract Wildlife – April 25, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Participants learn what can be added to the landscape to attract birds, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other wildlife.

Registration cost is $5. Participants can register online (for an additional fee). There are no refunds for registration costs. This class is limited to 30 participants.

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4-18-17 Special Meeting

The Alachua County Commission will conduct a Special Meeting on Tuesday, April 18, 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:

1. FY18 Budget Discussions - Historical trends, FY17 Level of Service Matrix, FY17 Budget allocation breakout by focus area, and ACSO update to Board questions on Evergreen implementation

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.

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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Commission Highlights

Child Abuse Prevention Month
|The Board proclaimed April 2017 as “Child Abuse Prevention Month” in Alachua County, FL
Item Summary Report
Child Abuse Prevention Month

Fair Housing Month
The Board proclaimed April 2017 as “Fair Housing Month” in Alachua County, FL
Item Summary Report
Fair Housing Month

Mark Frantz Day
The Board proclaimed April 11th, 2017 as “Mark Frantz Day” in Alachua County, FL
Item Summary Report
Mark Frantz Day

Water Conservation Month
The Board proclaimed April 2017 as “Water Conservation Month” in Alachua County, FL
Item Summary Report
Water Conservation Month

National Public Safety Telecommunications Week
April 15th, 2017 as “National Public Safety Telecommunications Week” in Alachua County, FL
Item Summary Report
National Public Safety Telecommunications Week

Mental Illness Relapse Prevention
The Board heard the Mental illness relapse prevention presentation and gave the following directed:

Staff to work with the Chair to develop a list of meeting invitees (Mayor, Sheriff, Hospital Administrators, Mental Health Providers, and Key Staff) to have the initial discussion about how to proceed in a better strategic position. 

The County Manager to develop a team to visit the facility in Miami called the Leifman and any Commissioners who wish to attend should do so. Advertise the trip so that anyone who wishes to attend may. 

Chair letter to the Legislative Delegation to determine what their position is on using Sadowski Funding for permanent supportive housing for people in recovery.

Item Summary Report
Presentation

Sustainability Council Quarterly Report
The Board heard Sustainability Council Quarterly Report for April 2017
Item Summary Report
Council Quarterly Report
Water Initiatives PPT

Archer Braid Trail
The Board made its first successful purchase at the tax deed sale under the County’s new policy. A piece of property that will allow the expansion of the Archer Braid Trail was purchased. A citizen of the County made a contribution, which covered almost all the expense of the property. The County owes $34.00 for the doc stamps.

Tower Road SUNTrail
Concerning the Tower Road SUNTrail Funding Agreement, the Board:

Adopted a Resolution for the Tower Road Florida Shared Use Non-motorized Trail Network Agreement which includes authorizing the Chair to execute the agreement and authorizing the County Manager, Public Works Director or County Engineer to execute subsequent supplement agreements.

Approved the budget amendment for the Tower Road SUNTrail Grant Approve an interfund loan of $500,000 to be paid back after completion of construction for the Tower Road SUNTrail.

Wild Spaces Public Places
Considering the City of Gainesville partnership projects funded through the County’s Wild Spaces Public Places allocation, the Board approved funding the Sweetwater Branch Recreational Trail and that the remaining 4 million in funding is up to the City of Gainesville to spend on a project from exhibit A.
Item Summary Report
Interlocal Agreement
Chair Letter
City of Gainesville Presentation
Revised Exhibit A

New Transportation Technology
Commissioner Hutchinson stated that he just became aware of a project that the University of Florida is working on to test new transportation technology and that he would like to see if the County could cooperate or partner with them on the matter. 

Travel Authorization
The Board approved the travel authorization for the VCB director and that an email report to the Board with the accomplishments of the trip.
Item Summary Report
John Pricher Travel Authorization
DMAI Registration and Schedule
SS 125.0104 Section 9 - International Travel

GREC Bio-Mass Plant
Concerning the City of Gainesville’s purchase of the GREC Bio-Mass Plant, The Board directed County Attorney look into the County’s legal rights as an affected party, neighboring municipal government, and/or as a significant customer, and provide up to $2,500.00 to seek advice of outside council experienced in utilities matters as necessary.

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