May 16th edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government

 

This Issues Features:

County Stormwater Assessment Featured on Alachua County Talks
Countywide Burn Ban Update
County Awarded Information Technology Achievement Award
Memorial Day Ceremony
Empowerment Center Oversight Advisory Board Citizens Work Group Vacancies
Bill Harlan Retires
County Memorial Day Hours and Waste Collection
Mill Creek Preserve Temporary Closure
Senior Corps Open House
County Kennel Quarantine Ends
May Extension Programs
Commission Highlights

County Stormwater Assessment Featured on Alachua County Talks

This edition of Alachua County Talks features an interview with Alachua County Environmental Protection Director Chris Bird. The program focuses on Alachua County’s Stormwater Assessment proposal, how it will impact citizens, and how it will improve our environment.

In speaking of the program, Alachua County Talks host Mark Sexton said, “Every day, pollutants found in stormwater runoff into our creeks, rivers and lakes, directly affecting our quality of life. The Alachua County Commission, County Environmental Protection and County Public Works are working hard to insure the proper steps are being taken to make our water is clean for people, plants and animals, while also making sure the proposed stormwater assessment is both equitable and effective.”

View the interview online.

For more information, visit www.alachuacountywater.org, email stormwater@alachuacounty.us, or call the Stormwater Hotline at 352-264-6850.

Return to Top

Countywide Burn Ban Update

During the May 9, 2017 Regular County Commission Meeting, the countywide burn ban was extended. It was originally signed on April 25, 2017. The ban will continue to be extended until fire conditions change and it is no longer needed. The ban was issued 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 454 with ninety 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. 

Alachua County Fire Chief Bill Northcutt said, “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.

Return to Top

County Awarded Information Technology Achievement Award

The Alachua County Information and Telecommunications Services (ITS) Department was awarded the National Association of Counties (NACo) Information Technology Achievement Award for the County’s “Hazardous Materials Inspection and Public Information Portal.” The web portal was developed by the ITS Applications Team for the County’s Environmental Protection Department (EPD). This application streamlines the process of inspecting facilities and tracking hazardous material violations. It also makes it easier to access and download this information for citizens, visitors, and business owners.

“This is the second year in a row that this team has been honored by NACo for their work in developing applications that benefit County citizens,” ITS Director Kevin Smith said. “I want to thank Chris Bird, EPD Director, and his team for working with us in developing this application. We are happy to receive this recognition from NACo.”

For more information, contact Kevin Smith at 352-338-7300 or kgsmith@alachuacounty.us.

Return to Top

Memorial Day Ceremony

On Monday, May 29, 2017, Alachua County will hold the annual Memorial Day Ceremony at the Forest Meadows Cemetery (3700 S.E. Hawthorne Road, Gainesville). In case of inclement weather, the alternate location will be Trinity United Methodist Church (4000 N.W. 53rd Ave, Gainesville). The event begins at 11 a.m. It is free and open to the public. There is often a large crowd, and it is advised to come early and bring seating.

The Memorial Day Ceremony is a respectful commemoration to military service members who lost their lives serving their country. The event features multiple patriotic presentations from various veteran and military organizations. Presentation of Colors by the Milton Lewis Young Marines, a flag folding demonstration, Congressional, Alachua County and Veteran Administration greetings, special Remembrance Ceremony, recognition of Gold Star Mothers and active duty personnel, wreath laying, a rifle salute and taps by the Korean War Veterans of America. Forest Meadows is providing a free barbecue to attendees.

Alachua County Veteran Services Director Kim Smith Davis said, “The privilege of freedom and liberty are bestowed upon Americans because of the sacrifices of American service members. Memorial Day is when we honor the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.” She continued, “All are welcome to attend this honorable ceremony where we remember and pay our respects to those who gave all so we may be free.”

For more information, contact Jim Lynch at 352-538-3119.

Return to Top

Empowerment Center Oversight Advisory Board Citizens Work Group Vacancies

Alachua County is seeking applicants for the City of Gainesville/Alachua County Empowerment Center Oversight Advisory Board. The two vacancies are on the Citizens Work Group to assist with homelessness related issues impacting the Empowerment Center. The Citizens Work Group gathers information from those served and acts as policy experts on broader homelessness issues. The work group reports its recommendations to the Oversight Board and helps to establish short and long-term priorities. 

The Empowerment Center (2845 N.E. 39th Avenue, Gainesville) includes the Grace Marketplace which provides an indoor shelter, an outdoor shelter pavilion, showers, storage, meals and supportive services, including mental health and substance abuse treatment services for area homeless and those in danger of becoming homeless.

For more information visit the Grace Marketplace website.

Members appointed to the Citizens Work Group must comply with all provisions contained in the City of Gainesville and the Alachua County Advisory Board Participation Handbooks, including but not limited to the Florida Sunshine and Public Record Laws.

Applications must be received by Monday, May 22, 2017, to be considered for selection at the Empowerment Center Oversight Advisory Board’s May 30, 2017 meeting.

For more information and to obtain an application, call the Alachua County Community Support Service Department at 352-264-6700, or contact Staff Liaison Tom Tonkavich at ttonkavich@alachuacounty.us, or Marie Small at mdsmall@alachuacounty.us.

Return to Top

Bill Harlan Retires

At the May 9, 2017 County Commission Meeting, Senior Assistant County Attorney Bill Harlan was recognized for his retirement after 15 years of services with the County. Bill came to the County with previous experience in the military.

During the recognition, Harlan expressed his gratitude to his coworkers and the Commission. County Attorney Michele Lieberman expressed her thanks to Bill for helping her when she began working with the County, and joked that it was necessary to hire two attorneys to replace him.

Bill Harlan is going to be missed by many in the County.

Return to Top

County Memorial Day Hours and Waste Collection

Other than essential services, all Alachua County offices will be closed on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2017.

Residential curbside collection service for solid waste, recycling, and yard trash will be delayed by one day due to the Memorial Day holiday. The regular schedule for these services will not occur on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29. Monday’s regular collection will occur on Tuesday, and so on through the week ending with Thursday’s collection on Friday. Regular collection schedules will resume on Monday, June 5.

The five Alachua County Rural Collection Centers, the Leveda Brown Environmental Park and Transfer Station and the Hazardous Waste Collection Center will also be closed Memorial Day, Monday, May 29. All facilities will resume regular hours of operation on Tuesday, May 30.

For more information, contact Alachua County Waste Alternatives Manager Patrick Irby at 352-338-3233.

Return to Top

Mill Creek Preserve Temporary Closure

Alachua County’s Mill Creek Preserve (14505 N.W. CR 236, Alachua) is closing temporarily on Friday, May 19, 2017, for approximately one month. As part of the ongoing management and natural community restoration of the preserve, a timber thinning is planned in and near the public use areas of the Preserve. For public safety reasons, the preserve will be closed while heavy equipment is on site for the timber thinning operation.

Thinning of dense pine stands is an important part of the ecological restoration of the preserve. It improves forest health, reduces excess fuels to lessen the risk of severe wildfire, creates better habitat for wildlife, and increases water recharge of aquifers by allowing more water to reach the forest floor and removing trees that utilize that water. Proceeds from the timber harvest are used for management and improvement of the preserve. 

For more information, contact Alachua County Parks and Conservation Lands’ Kelly McPherson at 352-264-6800.

Return to Top

Senior Corps Open House

The Alachua County Foster Grandparent Program is hosting an Open House on Thursday, May 18, 2017, from 8:30 a.m.to 10 a.m. at the Senior Recreation Center (5701 N.W. 34th Blvd, Gainesville). The Open House will highlight both the Foster Grandparent Program and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). These programs are part of the Senior Corps program. Senior Corps is a branch of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Refreshments will be served.

Current volunteers will give firsthand accounts of how involvement in these national service programs has impacted their lives. Those 55 and over are invited to come learn how to make a difference in their local community.

Mayor Pro Tem Harvey Budd will join the event and instate current members into the Senior Corps family by administering the official Senior Corps Pledge.

The Foster Grandparent Program is sponsored locally by the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners, and the local RSVP is sponsored by Experience Works.

For more information, contact the Alachua County Foster Grandparent Program Coordinator Samantha Fleming at 352-264-6751 or sfleming@alachuacounty.us.

Return to Top

County Kennel Quarantine Ends

Alachua County Animal Services has been under a self-imposed quarantine of their dog kennels for nearly three weeks due to a highly contagious, but treatable, upper respiratory infection. They reopened the kennels on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, and are asking citizens considering adoption or fostering of a shelter dog to visit the shelter. The shelter is offering free dog adoptions until May 20.

Available dogs are those that have either come through the illness and no longer have symptoms or were exposed but did not get sick. Each dog available for adoption is examined, vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and microchipped before leaving Animal Services. The shelter is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

“We have many wonderful dogs available for immediate adoption, fostering, or foster-to-adopt if preferred.” said Animal Services Director Ed Williams.

For more information about fostering or volunteering, contact Alachua County Animal Services Shelter Supervisor Jane Grantman at 352-264-6870 ext. 2563 or jgrantman@alacuacounty.us.

Return to Top

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).

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.

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.

Return to Top

Commission Highlights

Announcements
The Board heard announcements by Mark Sexton Communications and Legislative Affairs Director concerning the renewed Burn Ban and the dog quarantine at the Animal Services facility.

National Bike Month
The Board proclaimed May 2017 as “National Bike Month” in Alachua County, FL.
Item Summary Report
National Bike Month

National Drug Court Month
The Board proclaimed May 2017 as “National Drug Court Month” in Alachua County, FL.
Item Summary Report
National Drug Court Month

Assistant County Attorney Bill Harlan’s Retirement
The Board recognized the retirement of Assistant County Attorney Bill Harlan.
Item Summary Report
Bill Harlan Retirement

2017 Management Academy Graduates
The Board recognized the 2017 Management Academy graduates.
Item Summary Report
List of 2017 Management Academy Graduates

Children’s Services Advisory Board
The Board accepted the report from the Children’s Services Advisory Board.
Item Summary Report
F.S. 125.907 Children Services
Childrens Services Advisory Board Meeting Minutes for April 12 2017

Hidden Heroes County
The Board heard a presentation from the Elizabeth Dole Foundation Hidden Heroes Campaign, which is seeking to have Alachua County be identified as a Hidden Heroes County. The Board referred the item to the County Manager.
Item Summary Report

Combined Communications Center
The Board approved the use of 9­1­1 reserves to fund the Combined Communications Center (CCC) emergency telephone equipment Request for Proposal (RFP). The cost is estimated at between $825,000 and $1.4 million.
Item Summary Report
Budget Amendment - BCC2017-00002113

Comprehensive Plan
The Board heard the Work Plan for the Evaluation and Appraisal, Report and the update of the Alachua County Comprehensive Plan.
Item Summary Report
Work Plan for Evaluation & Appraisal and Plan Update
Presentation of Evaluation & Appraisal Work Plan

Regional Solid Waste Management Authority
The Board approved the inter-local agreement with Marion County for evaluation of the feasibility of a Regional Solid Waste Management Authority.
Item Summary Report
Signed Interlocal Agreement
Alachua Marion SWA Interlocal Agreement (Updated 5/2/2017 MLL)

Champions Park
The Board approved the 3rd Amendment to the Interlocal Agreement with the City of Newberry for the use of the remaining $100,000 for improvements to Champions Park.
Item Summary Report
Letter from City of Newberry re: Water at Champions Park
Interlocal Agreement with City of Newberry
1st Amendment to the Interlocal with City of Newberry
2nd Amendment to the Interlocal Agreement with City of Newberry
Balance Sheet for Champions Park Reimbursement
Reimbursement Ledger for Transactions for Champions Park
Reimbursements to City of Newberry re: Champions Park
Third Amend to ILA with City of newberry for Champions Park Approved to Form by AC CAO

 

 

Return to Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for your continued interest in County Government!

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