There wasn't an empty seat, or floor space.
On Monday, residents of Haile plantation beat a path to a meeting to try to beat the proposed "archer Braid Trail."
It's been a concept since 2000, but now, Alachua County has the money, and they're working on the designs.
Three million "Federal Transportation" dollars will be used to build the first two phases of the ten-foot wide trail, which starts in Archer and eventually will end at the University of Florida.
Dale Johnson lives in Haile plantation and says the trail is what brought her there.
"When that comes in, i'll have that connectivity, and I just need to suffer, for a year or two," she said.
However many can live without the trail, and are trying to put an end to it before it even starts.
"We have many trails in Haile already, we don't need another one," said resident Rita Lake.
Residents packed a neighborhood meeting to hear more about the ten-foot-wide trail that would run through two miles of the Haile community along the public right-of-way.
"There will be clearing, there will be additional vegetation that will be taken out for it--understood, not just for the path itself, but also the engineering and draining that will be needed for this path," said resident Kevin Bzoch.
The Homeowner's Association's markers of the trail are not exactly accurate, according to County Planner Jeffrey Hays, who says staff hasn't finished designing the trail.
Still, many feel it should be re-routed out of Haile.
"We don't want the public having access through our plantation because you never know who that public is comprised of," said resident Arthur Teixeira.
However, Johnson feels people may just be opposed to change.
"Criminals don't carry big screen tvs on their bike with their family, so the people that use the trail aren't the ones that are going to bring a negative element if you will," she said.
County Commissioner Susan Baird owns property in Haile plantation and was at Monday's meeting.
She says she's concerned about the trail and isn't sure that it will enhance property values in Haile.
The county commission will hold a public meeting on April 24 to get more feedback from residents
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NEWBERRY – In the early days of American baseball, fans who didn’t want to pay the quarter to get in, would look through the cracks and knotholes of the outfield wall to check out the game.
Though it is now 2012, as Newberry’s Nations Baseball Park falls slightly behind schedule, some are wondering what exactly lies beyond that outfield wall.
Lou Presutti, who has worked closely with the City of Newberry to bring the magic from his Cooperstown Dreams Park in New York to Newberry, has a positive attitude about the park. He said the youth baseball park is about 80 or 85 percent complete.
The groundbreaking for the $7 million project was held in March of last year. The 16-field park on the corner of Southwest 30th Avenue and State Road 41 has lighted fields and a turf-grass combination that will allow kids to be able to play even when the weather isn’t ideal.
A dark green outfield wall encloses each field, and there is a section partitioned off in the corner of each field for parents to sit in chairs. Presutti said the 1920s Americana feel inspired the design for the park.
While Presutti admitted that the project has had some unanticipated construction delays, he said these were minor in the big picture.
Part of these issues had to do with a $25,000 relocation of endangered gopher tortoises at the site. Other charges came from sinkhole problems.
According to City Manager Keith Ashby, available funding should be able to pay for these charges, including a combination of revenues from Alachua County’s Tourism Development Tax and contributions from the City of Newberry and Presutti.
These delays set construction back several weeks, Presutti said. There may be a “soft” opening celebration in June and a tournament in the late summer, but it will probably be November before the park is fully operational, according to Presutti.
Despite this, he believes the economic benefits of the park will make up for these delays, and that the park’s website is an indicator of the enthusiasm for the park around the country.
The web site, which features the score from the classic western film “The Magnificent Seven,” is averaging over 10,000 hits per day, Presutti said.
Ashby also sees the value of the park to the city. “It’s just as much of an economic development project as it is a recreation project,” he said.
The park has already begun to spur other businesses to take a closer look at Newberry. Firefly and the Red Wok are two restaurants that opened this year. A new commercial and residential complex just south of Oak View Middle School has also been approved.
As far as perspective goes, Presutti said his enthusiasm is beyond optimistic. “It’s not a glass half-full kind of thing, it’s spilling all over the place.”
Alachua County Health Department officials were right to bar unvaccinated children from attending the Alachua Learning Center after an outbreak of chickenpox at that charter school. The ban was later extended to several public schools.
Outbreak? More like an epidemic; with 70 cases reported so far.
Moreover, it is a mistake for parents to neglect to have their children vaccinated because they think chickenpox is a common, and not very serious, childhood illness.
While chickenpox-related deaths are very rare, they do occur. And thanks to mandatory vaccinations, they have become rarer still.
Two years ago, the Centers for Disease Control researchers found that chickenpox-related deaths declined from about 105 annually to fewer than 20 a year since 1995, when widespread vaccinations began.
And it isn't just the occasional fatality that makes chickenpox something more serious than a "common" childhood disease. Adults who have been exposed to chickenpox are more vulnerable to shingles. And potentially dangerous complications from chickenpox exposure include pneumonia, encephalitis and blood infection.
"This is something that's preventable through a very safe vaccine," Interim County Health Director Paul Myers told The Sun this week. "It's a disease that can lead to very serious consequences. And it's a disease that's been allowed to gain a foothold in our community.
"My concern is that people may be incubating the disease one to two days before the rash appears and coming into contact with people who have medically compromised immune systems," he added.
Fast action was justified following the outbreak at Alachua Learning Center. It is no credit to this community that Alachua County trails the state average in the rate of children who enter kindergarten with the full range of vaccinations.
Parents, please have your children vaccinated; for their sake and for the sake of the children and adults they will come into contact with.
"When you get vaccinated, you protect yourself and others in your community," advises the Centers for Disease Congrol. "This is especially important for people who cannot get vaccinated, such as those with weakened immune systems or pregnant women."
By WUFT-FM Staff
Florida law requires counties to pay more than $300-million dollars in disputed medicaid bills. Florida Association of Counties spokesperson Cragin Mahsteller says Alachua County will go from paying $400,000 thousand dollars annually to more than $6-million in the first year.
An effort to define funding criteria for the Community Agency Partnership Program ended Tuesday with a vote to make older residents and households with children priority recipients of certain services.
The Alachua County Commission voted 4-1 to include age-related eligibility requirements for health care and housing provided through CAPP. Commissioner Susan Baird dissented.
The language says that priority for these services will be given to people who are 60 and older and to households with at least one child who is 18 or younger.
CAPP provides money to nonprofit agencies for programs that focus on reducing poverty.
Commissioners had considered a proposal for the criteria that had been stricter. It said recipients of these services “must” fit one of these categories. The age limit for older residents also was set higher at 65 years old.
But some people affiliated with CAPP and programs that benefit from it raised issues that there might be situations where people who need help wouldn't be able to get it because of the stricter wording. Others commented on how well the process had worked last year and asked why the commission needed to adjust the criteria.
Jeff Lee, who manages program operations for ElderCare of Alachua County, suggested the new wording. He told commissioners it would allow programs to address a gap in services to certain groups, such as the homeless who do not have children, while still stressing the need to prioritize help for children and older residents.
The proposal to change the wording came after commissioners earlier this year talked about a plan to narrow CAPP's funding eligibility. Commissioner Lee Pinkoson proposed focusing CAPP's criteria on the specific populations.
Pinkoson, at the time, said he wanted to put the focus as much as possible on the root of the poverty problem.
Commissioners needed to make a decision on the criteria's wording or it would have made it impossible for the fiscal year 2012-13 CAPP process to be completed on time, officials said.
Commissioners made no commitment on funding for CAPP at the meeting. But discussion still touched on the county's budget concerns this year.
In comments to commissioners, Gordon Tremaine, the director of the Early Learning Coalition of Alachua County, said the commission had to look at what vulnerable populations they wanted to target and serve because ultimately the budget is going to limit who can receive services.
“The dollars are going to include some and exclude others,” he said. “A whole lot of someones aren't going to get the services that are needed by this community and that are needed by these people because the dollars will run out. So it is a matter of how do we target.”
Generally, in the past, the commission has put about $1 million annually toward CAPP or about 1 percent of the general fund.
This year the county is facing a $2 million drop in taxable property value, county staff has told the commission. Under changes to Medicaid billing practices, the county also will be responsible for disputed backlogged bills and annual bills related to Medicaid costs.
A worst-case scenario has put those costs at about $8.5 million.
By Dina Lewis – WUFT-FM
CashMobs have sprouted up throughout the United States and are modeled after Flash Mobs, events where large groups of people gather to celebrate artistic expression. Cash mobs add the element of supporting local businesses by encouraging people to spend money. Floridas’ 89.1, WUFT-FM’s Dina Lewis explains how the Florida Organic Growers are promoting local economic development with a Cash Mob this evening at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza.
Participants in tonight’s Ca$hmob event include the Florida Organic Growers (FOG), Alachua County’s Sustainability Department, Blue Oven Kitchens, Buy Local North Central Florida, the Lunchbox and the Union Street Farmers Market. The event will run through 8:00 p.m.
This family event will have a bounce house, kids’ activities from Morning Meadow and Heart Pine schools, science demonstrations presented by Physics Factory, prepared local foods from The Lunch Box restaurant, hula-hooping, the Waste Watcher recycling superhero and live music from Flat Land Bear Band. A short film highlighting the past successes of Ca$hMobs will be screened at the end of the event.
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By Rachel Stern- WUFT-FM
Construction to turn the Residence Inn on the corner of Southwest 13th Street and Williston Road into a drug addiction and eating disorders facility will now begin. Planning Project Manager Craig Brashier says Shands and the University of Florida are now able to move forward after the unanimous approval of the proposal last night.
Brashier says Shands’ main goal is to create a campus lifestyle and a way for participants to stay on site and not worry about transportation.
A review of crash data, injuries and traffic volume over a three-year period show that such intersections as Northwest 34th Street and Northwest 39th Avenue in northern Gainesville and West University Avenue and Northwest 22nd Street near the University of Florida campus are among the 10 most hazardous in the county.
The analysis comes from a review that ranked intersections based on the number of crashes, crash severity and the crash rate from Jan. 1, 2007, through Dec. 31, 2009. The rate is calculated as the number of crashes in relation to traffic volume.
Based on the analysis, Northwest 34th Street and Northwest 39th Avenue ranked as the worst in the county. Crash reports showed there were 72 crashes over the three-year period with 26 injuries at the intersection during that time frame. The crashes involved 149 vehicles, one pedestrian and one bicycle.
"I hear a lot of horn beeping out there," said Eula Thomas, 73, a Gainesville resident who lives near the intersection. She said the area has changed drastically since she moved to her home near the intersection more than 45 years ago. Now she hears the sirens going as emergency responders head to accidents at the intersection.
There's more congestion and traffic at the intersection, but Thomas said she thinks the main problem is the drivers themselves who aren't paying attention and end up in wrecks.
"I think it's just mainly driver distraction," Thomas said.
The report showing the county's most dangerous intersections and the types of crashes at each was compiled and presented last month to the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization, which is made up of city of Gainesville and county officials.
Other intersections listed in the top 10, starting with the second most dangerous, were:
- Southwest Archer Road and the north Interstate 75 on and off ramps.
- Southwest Archer Road and Southwest 37th Boulevard.
- West University Avenue and Northwest 22nd Street.
- Southwest 20th Avenue and Southwest 62nd Boulevard/Southwest 52nd Street.
- Southwest 16th Avenue and Southwest 13th Street.
- Southwest 34th Street and Southwest 20th Avenue.
- Southwest 13th Street and Southwest Williston Road.
- Southwest Archer Road and the south I-75 on and off ramps.
- Southwest 40th Boulevard and Southwest Archer Road.
- Newberry Road and Northwest 75th Street.
The last three intersections tied at ninth place based on the number of crashes, crash severity and the crash rate.
All but two of the intersections — Southwest 13th Street and Southwest Williston Road and Newberry Road and Northwest 75th Street — are located within the city limits.
Staff completed an analysis for the MTPO that looked in more detail at the types of crashes at intersections where no modifications had been made or were planned that could help reduce collisions. Those include Northwest 34th Street and Northwest 39th Avenue, West University Avenue and Northwest 22nd Street, Southwest 34th Street and Southwest 20th Avenue, Southwest 13th Street and Southwest Williston Road, and Newberry Road and Northwest 75th Street.
Crash data from these intersections showed accidents tended to occur during peak travel hours when there was more congestion on the roadways, said Deborah Leistner, the transportation planning manager for the city of Gainesville.
Leistner noted the review found that the majority of crashes at these locations were rear-end and angle collisions.
Distracted driving came up as one of the most common factors behind crashes at these intersections, along with careless driving and failure to yield the right of way, according to the analysis.
At Northwest 34th Street and Northwest 39th Avenue, rear-end crashes accounted for 54 percent of accidents, with angle collisions taking place in 32 percent of wrecks. Most of the accidents at the location occurred on weekdays either from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. or 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sixty-eight percent of the crashes at West University Avenue and Northwest 22nd Street were eastbound rear-end collisions. The intersection was ranked the fourth worst in the county with 59 crashes and 17 injuries involving 122 vehicles, three pedestrians and one bicycle during the analysis' time frame. The majority of the accidents occurred on weekdays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The review found similar types of crashes at Southwest 34th Street and Southwest 20th Avenue, Southwest 13th Street and Southwest Williston Road and Newberry Road and Northwest 75th Street.
"That's people not paying attention to their surroundings," Gainesville Police Department Sgt. Joe Raulerson said about these type of crashes. Raulerson is head of the police department's traffic unit.
Raulerson said these wrecks often are because people are distracted and not able to react as quickly as necessary to avoid an accident. "We do a lot of things in our cars nowadays," he said.
Dealing with driver inattention is difficult for law enforcement to address, Raulerson said.
But one thing officers can and often do to address this issue is increase their presence in areas where these traffic problems have been documented, he said.
"The more we can be seen and are visible, the more people will think to pay attention to their driving," Raulerson said.
Raulerson said his office uses reports like the one produced for the MTPO to set up traffic details at certain locations.
For these intersections, Leistner said staff has recommended and is working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on low-cost improvements that could help prevent future accidents.
One solution being worked on is the addition of flashing yellow arrows. The lights help eliminate driver confusion over when a left turn is permitted, reducing angle collisions, according to the study.
Another suggestion from staff on reducing collisions at these intersections is to evaluate yellow and red light intervals. These intervals should correspond with how long motorists expect a light to remain yellow or red.
Leistner said staff also will be looking at installing signs that could help drivers anticipate traffic patterns at certain locations. The visibility of the traffic signals at these intersections also will be reviewed to make sure there are no obstacles or other problems that make it difficult for drivers to see them.