May 2nd edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government


This Issues Features:

The 2017 Looking Forward Report
Countywide Burn Ban Implemented
Car Seat Safety Program Price Changes
23rd Annual Recycled Latex Paint Giveaway
Saving My Alachua Recognitions
Alachua County Talks: Mental Health First Aid & County Court Services
May Extension Programs
Commission Highlights

The 2017 Looking Forward Report

On April 20, County Manager Lee A. Niblock presented his Looking Forward report to the County Commission.

In the report he states:

“It is my pleasure and honor to present the 2017 Looking Forward Report. This annual report has grown into a document that serves many functions. It provides an overview of the County’s financial picture, highlights the significant accomplishments of the last year, outlines the important goals for the next, and acts as an essential component of the continuing conversation that will lead to the adoption of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget. This report is a clear, concise, and transparent look at the things that matter most. It is a useful tool for the Alachua County Commission (Commission), employees, and most importantly, our citizens.”

Read the Looking Forward report.

Watch Manager Niblock present his report.

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Countywide Burn Ban Implemented

A countywide burn ban has been issued (as of April 25, 2017) for Alachua County due to the unusually dry weather conditions increasing the probability of wildfires. The mandatory ban affects all of Alachua County, including rural and municipal areas. It will remain in effect until formally terminated by a majority of the Alachua County Commission.

The burn ban prohibits all outdoor burning that has not been specifically permitted by the Florida Division of Forestry, as well as the use of any fireworks, sparklers, flares, or other pyrotechnic devices except for public displays requiring a permit. Campfires may be permitted within designated recreational areas only, pursuant to applicable regulations and guidelines.

Although the use of LPG/LNG grills and charcoal grills is permitted, the public is encouraged to keep a constant watch for any stray sparks or embers while cooking outdoors. Additionally, due to the potential for accidental ignitions, the use of motorized equipment such as ATVs and dirt bikes is discouraged during times of high wildfire risk. Please bear in mind that lawnmowers, both push and riding, also pose accidental ignition risks. Citizens are asked to exercise extreme caution during the burn ban.

Homeowners can reduce the risk of damage from wildfires by clearing the area around their homes of underbrush or dry plants/vegetation as these items create fuel for wildfires. It is also important to ensure that roofs and gutters are clear of trees and debris.

Alachua County’s Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) is currently 323 with nine percent of the County above 400. The KBDI is a continuous reference scale for estimating the dryness of the soil and duff layers. The index increases for each day without rain (the amount of increase depends on the daily high temperature) and decreases when it rains. The scale ranges from 0 (no moisture deficit) to 800. As the index rating increases so do the chances that a wildfire can occur and spread. 

“We are still seeing a modest index rating in Alachua County, but each day without significant rain that number increases,” said Alachua County Fire Chief Bill Northcutt. “It is important that we are proactive in preventing wildfires from occurring locally as State resources are being redeployed to assist with a large number of fires actively occurring in Florida.”

Any burning within the County during the imposed ban will be in violation of Chapter 27 of the Alachua County Code, sections 10.08 and 10.09 and section 252.50 of Florida Statutes. It will be considered a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a 60-day imprisonment and up to a $500.00 fine. Persons responsible for unlawful burning could also bear costs associated with extinguishing fires.

For more information, visit the Alachua County Fire Rescue website or contact Alachua County Fire Marshal John Adler at 863-781-1452.

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Car Seat Safety Program Price Changes

The Florida Department of Health in Alachua County (DOH-Alachua) has made a change to the car seat safety program. Beginning May 2017, the cost of a new car seat will increase (due to funding changes). Car seats will no longer cost $45.00, and $20.00 for those on public assistance. DOH-Alachua will continue to carry the Evenflo Titan 65 (rear facing 5-40 lbs. and forward facing up to 65 lbs.) and the Evenflo SecureKid (forward facing up to 65 lbs. with a harness and up to 110 lbs. as a belt positioning booster). The Titan will cost $56.00, and the SecureKid will cost $74.00. The prices are for cost recovery from purchasing the seats directly from the manufacturer. The only method of payment accepted is cash.

The car seat safety checkpoints are held every third Tuesday of the month, by appointment only. Participants can have their car seat checked for correct installation for free or purchase a new car seat and have it installed. The car seat safety checkpoint is held in the front parking lot of the Health Department (224 S.E. 24th St, Gainesville).

“Although the cost of the car seat has increased, we will still be providing education for free. That is what matters,” stated DOH-Alachua Community Program Manager Diana Duque. “Our mission is to decrease infant mortality and childhood traumas and increase car seat safety awareness. We have inspected and installed over 113 child safety seats in the past year. We look forward to continuing to serve our community.”

For appointments, call and leave a message at 352-225-4354. Calls are returned by the following business day.

For more information, contact Diana Duque at 352-225-4355 or

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23rd Annual Recycled Latex Paint Giveaway

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department’s 23rd Annual Recycled Latex Paint Giveaway will be Saturday, May 6, 2017, beginning at 8 a.m. at the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center, located at the Leveda Brown Environmental Park and Transfer Station (5125 N.E. 63rd Avenue, Gainesville, 2 miles north of 39th Avenue, off Waldo Road). The Hazardous Waste Collection Center offers free recycled paint to all Alachua County residents on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a 10 gallon limit per household or a 20 gallon limit per vehicle. Paint will be available in five-gallon pails in the following colors: off white, beige, gray, terra cotta, green, and blue.

Recycled latex paint is distributed as part of the Hazardous Waste Collection Center’s Reuse/Recycle Program. Paint is collected from residents throughout the year and shipped to Scott Paint in Sarasota, where the latex paint is sorted by color, blended, and then pigments are added to create five-gallon buckets of recycled paint.

Using this recycling method, approximately 3,400 gallons of 75% post-consumer recycled latex paint is available to community organizations and residents with special needs free of charge. During the past 12 months, some non-profits benefitting from this Reuse-Recycle Program include Sisters Helping Sisters in Need, City of Archer, Holy Temple Church, Paradise Community Church, and Keep Alachua County Beautiful.

“This is an excellent opportunity for the citizens of Alachua County to beautify their property while recycling a product that still has value,” said Alachua County Hazardous Waste Coordinator Kurt Seaburg. “The program continues to be very successful and benefits the community in a variety of ways.”

Residents unable to attend the event can pick up non-recycled free paint of varying quality and quantity (as well as other household products) at the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center’s Recycle/Reuse Area. Regular business hours are Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon.

For more information, visit the Hazardous Waste Collection Center’s website or call 352-334-0440.

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Saving My Alachua Recognitions

At the Tuesday, April 25 County Commission Regular Meeting, the Board recognized those students selected as winners in the County’s fourth annual “Saving My Alachua” Environmental Art Contest. Winners from each grade were recognized.

The contest was open to all K-12 students in Alachua County, including homeschoolers, and encourages students to create artwork depicting their passion for the environment. Their artwork addressed many environmental topics including water conservation, stormwater pollution, natural habitat protection, wilderness and wildlife protection, and proper disposal of toxic waste. Ribbons were awarded for first, second, and third place in each Kindergarten through Eighth Grade category and a High School category. Selected winners will be featured in the 2018 Saving My Alachua Calendar and will also contain tips on protecting the environment.

Alachua County Environmental Protection Department Director Chris Bird said, “It is inspiring to observe the environmental awareness of our community’s emerging citizen artists.” He continued, “Their work communicates environmental themes that are often confused by scientific jargon.”

For more information, contact Eliana Bardi at 352-264-6810 or

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Alachua County Talks: Mental Health First Aid & County Court Services

Watch this video.

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.

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,, or call 352-338-7390.

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May 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. 39th Avenue, Gainesville).

Florida-Friendly Landscaping Series: Protect the Waterfront – May 4, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Participants learn what happens when the waterfront is not protected and what can be done to protect it from environmental concerns. The class will include a soil erosion demonstration and an activity where participants select plants that work around waterfronts. Participants will receive handbooks and materials.

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.

Maintaining Your Citrus – May 11, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Participants learn to maintain delicious oranges, tangerines, lemons and grapefruit trees. The class also covers variety selection, fertilization, freeze protection, and pest control. Participants will create a management plan for their citrus.

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.

Planting & Maintaining Trees & Shrubs – May 20, from 8:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. at the  2017 Ag Fest & Master Gardener Plant Sale

Participants learn how to plant and successfully establish plants, shrubs, and trees. The workshop topics include proper planting, fertilizing, watering, and pruning.

This workshop is free, and participants do not need to register.

Growing Blueberries – May 20, from 9:45 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. at the 2017 Ag Fest & Master Gardener Plant Sale

Alachua County is one of the top blueberry producing counties in the state. Participants learn to grow rabbit eye blueberries. This class covers planning, fertilizing, and pruning. This class is taught by Jeff Popowski, Master Gardener.

This class is free, and participants do not need to register.

Manage Yard Pests Responsibly – May 23, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Participants learn about the pests and diseases that can plague a landscape and what can be done about them. Participants will develop an integrated pest management plan for tackling their most common pests.

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.

Introduction to the Master Gardener Volunteer Program – May 30, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Those interested in becoming an UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Master Gardener volunteers learn more about the program and what it takes to become a Master Gardener.

This class is free, but participants must register online.

Livestock Program

This program is being offered by Dr. Cindy Sanders, Livestock Agent, at the UF/IFAS Extension Office (2800 N.E. 39th Avenue, Gainesville).

2017 Small Ruminant Workshop - May 13, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Topics for this workshop include evaluation of meat goat breeds, checking for parasites, forages and toxic weeds, FDACS – milk and cheese regulations, and FAMACHA training. There will be a special guest speaker, Dr. Richard Browning, from Tennessee State University.

The registration fee is $10.00 (includes meal). Participants must register by contacting Dr. Cindy Sanders by May 8, by calling 352-955-2402. Registration fees can be mailed to (make checks payable to Alachua County Extension Service) UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County (2800 NE 39 Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32609) or pay at the door.

View the workshop flyer.

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. 39th Avenue, Gainesville).

Food Safety and Quality Program (ServSafe®) – May 15, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

This program is dedicated to providing training which enables food managers and staff to offer Florida consumer’s food that is prepared in a clean and safe environment. Participants can register online, or call toll-free 1-888-232-8723.

Commercial Horticulture Program

This program is being offered by Dr. Tatiana Sanchez, Commercial Horticulture Agent, at the Suwannee Valley Ag Extension Center (8202 County Road 417, Live Oak).

Vegetable Disease ID for Field and Protected Agriculture – May 18, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This program provides basic information on plant pathology, macro and microscopic diagnostic procedures, hands-on identification of plant diseases and nematodes in different protected agriculture structures, and open field vegetable crops. The program concludes with a discussion on plant disease and nematode management.

Continuing Education Units will be offered in the following categories: 4-Private Applicator, and 4- Agriculture Row Crop (the maximum will be 4 CEUs).

Registration cost is $75 for the primary participant and $50 for a secondary participant. Participants can register online (for an additional fee). There are no refunds for registration costs. Participants can also register by mail, send form and payment to: (checks payable to) University of Florida, 7580 County Rd. 136, Live Oak, FL 32060. This class is limited to 30 participants.

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

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

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.