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Last updateWed, 17 Dec 2014 11pm

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International players in U.S. presidential election

W_-_Obama_Denmark_DSC_0050L-R: Obama campaign supporters Beverly Camock of Alachua and Jakob Rukov and Kirstine Larsen of Copenhagen, Denmark awaited election results at Southern Soul Restaurant in High Springs Tuesday evening.

HIGH SPRINGS – Kirstine Larsen and Jakob Rukov of Copenhagen, Denmark, were in High Springs observing voter turnout at the Civic Center on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

However, the couple was more than just a little interested as they explained they had traveled to the United States using their own money to campaign for President Barack Obama’s re-election.

Larsen, a journalism major in her final semester, and Rubkov, a molecular biologist, said they had been in Lake City previously.  “They needed some help here,” said Larsen, “so we came to help.”

Larsen said they had been manning the High Springs Obama field office, located inside Southern Soul Restaurant, for the past few days.  “We have been talking with citizens about the national campaign…sending out volunteers, going door-to-door, making phone calls and generally doing whatever needed to be done to help get the president re-elected,” she said.  “The response has been very good,” added Rubkov.  “Mostly we’ve spoken with people who already lean towards the Democratic Party and there has been a good atmosphere.  People seem quite motivated.  I think we’ve had a very good experience here,” said Rubkov.

“It helps to say ‘We are from Denmark,’” said Larsen.  “Once they know we have traveled 20 hours to be here, I tell them they should wait a couple of hours in line, if they have to, to vote,” she said.

Rubkov explained that U.S. politics and Danish politics are quite closely connected.  “Since we have soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, when the U.S. makes a decision what to do over there, it impacts us as well,” he said.

In addition, Larsen commented that “the U.S. is a major player internationally.  “Who is the president of the United States…it sort of sets the tone for international politics in general.  It’s very important,” she said.

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High Springs sewer decisions pushed to Nov. 8 meeting

Buzz2012HIGH SPRINGS – Agenda items relating to water and sewer rates and the future of the sewer system in High Springs, which were listed on last Thursday, Oct. 25, regular commission meeting agenda, were postponed to Tuesday, Oct. 30.

In a sparsely attended commission meeting to discuss the future of the sewer expansion, Greg Lang, Vice President of Community Development for Mittauer & Associates, Inc., was on hand to answer questions regarding the possible expansion of the wastewater plant and to discuss updating the city’s water and sewer rates.

Lang told commissioners he did not think at this time that it was necessary to move ahead with Phase 4, but suggested the City monitor the situation to determine when future expansion would be needed.

After discussion about whether to send a letter to USDA Rural Development stating the City was not going ahead with Phase 4, commissioners decided to hold off to allow time for City Attorney Scott Walker to look into the developers’ agreements.  A report from Walker on this issue will be forthcoming and the decision to send the letter was put off until the Nov. 8 meeting.

Following concerns expressed by Commissioner Sue Weller as to whether the City would still be able to meet the capacity guaranteed in the developers’ agreements, and whether developers might have some recourse if the City does not move forward with Phase 4 at this time, Walker said he would review the developers’ agreements for those issues as well.

Lang also suggested a geological study be performed to address concerns about a sinkhole, but no action was taken on that issue during this meeting.

Lang also explained they would be ready to go out to bid shortly on the “Tweener’s” project.  “Tweeners” is a term coined to identify the approximately 70 homes that were built after the sewer installation cutoff date for the grant.

The remaining grant money will be used to hook up those homes.  Interim City Manager Lee Vincent will be working with Tim Norman, P.E., at Mittauer to get information to him so Mittauer can go out to bid.

Water and sewer rates were discussed briefly and will be addressed further at the Nov. 8 meeting.  The commission would like to have an updated study done by Florida Rural Water Association (FRWA).  Bill Secoy of FRWA conducted the last study completed in March 2011.

Mittauer’s engineers will reexamine some of the studies by FRWA and offer their opinion on their studies and recommend what, if anything, should be done.

A resolution about water conservation was discussed, but also received no action during this meeting.

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Bargain hunters seek deals at Chamber yard sale

W_-_Citywide_Yard_Sale_S5000258_copyHIGH SPRINGS – Dozens of vendors and more than 200 buyers were on hand Saturday, Oct. 13, at the James Paul Park in High Springs to participate in the Chamber of Commerce Fall City-wide Yard Sale.  The semi-annual event attracted sellers and bargain seekers from Williston, Hawthorne, Archer, Alachua, Ft. White and, of course, High Springs and the surrounding unincorporated areas.

The yard sale is a fund-raiser for Chamber events.  Although it is unclear exactly when the Chamber began the project, Chamber President Sandra Webb said the Chamber has been sponsoring and organizing the event for at least the past 10 years.

Buddy and Cyndi Roban of Ft. White said this was their third year participating in the yard sale.  “We sold quite a bit today,” explained Cyndi Roban.  “They really like glass stuff,” she said and “they’ve bought quite a bit of tools from us today as well.”

John and Jennifer Pruitt, owners of Alachua Door Co. in Alachua, seemed like seasoned pros, although they indicated they were first time sellers.  When asked if the event was a lot of work, John Pruitt laughed and explained his wife organizes a large consignment sale in Gainesville called “Just Between Friends” in early December.

“This was easy compared with that,” he said.  “We’ll definitely be back to do this again,” Jennifer Pruitt said.  “We enjoyed it,” she added.  “Our biggest sellers here seemed to be knick-knacks and housewares.”

Michael Ryon, who owns Gypsy Palace in Gainesville, and lives in Alachua, was also a first-time seller.  He said the “traffic was good.  People seemed most interested in buying DVDs, women’s clothing, incense and other small items.”

Bob and Mary Fitzgerald, who live between High Springs and Ft. White, agreed there were a number of lookers.  Mary Fitzgerald said, “Buyers were steady all day with a few lulls here and there.”  The Fitzgeralds had small children’s stuffed toys, household goods, a Christmas tree and other small Christmas items for sale.  “People were not really ready to buy for Christmas,” she said.  “But we sold enough to want to do this again,” she said.

Another first-time couple, Patti and Terry Bird, who live just past the Santa Fe River in Columbia County, characterized the traffic as “sporadic” during the day.  They brought furniture items, including a rocking chair, fishing gear, plant stands, toys, old bottles and antiques.”  Patti Bird said sales were “good.”  “We would definitely come back,” said Terry Bird.

Cheryl Thacker and Danny Gouge of Williston have been selling at the yard sale for the past four years.  “We will definitely do this again,” said Thacker.  Housewares and yard items seemed to sell best at their table.

Mason Marvel from High Springs was assisted by his daughter, Margaret Marvel, from Monticello.  Mason Marvel said he has done the yard sale about three or four times.  With a chuckle, he characterized the experience as “The best way I know to clean house…short of a fire.”

He brought smaller items they no longer used.  Pottery, ceramics, knick-knacks, tools and various wood items like old orange crates that people love to use to create a shabby chic style were his specialty items.

“A lot of these items are sort of nostalgic for me,” he said.  Pointing to a metal crate used to bring his two daughters’ cats back from Southeast Asia in 1972 he said, “We’ve never used the crate since, but it just brings back memories.  “These items aren’t hard to part with now because I have no use for them anymore,” he said, “but the memories still linger.”

The High Springs Chamber of Commerce will schedule another city-wide yard sale for spring, said Sheila Smith, event coordinator.  “Folks who didn’t participate this time can look forward to doing their spring cleaning and doing so next time,” she said with a smile.

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High Springs welcomes Southern Soul

W_-_SouthernSoul_5999_1_copyHIGH SPRINGS – Saturday, Oct. 13, High Springs Chamber President Sandra Webb cut the official red ribbon signaling the grand opening of Southern Soul Restaurant & Lounge, 15 NE 2nd Avenue.  Owner Joe Darlings and her staff looked on as Webb cut the ribbon with Chamber members and area business owners looking on.

“We are all here to help welcome and support new businesses to High Springs,” said Webb with a smile.

A buffet of Southern Soul’s signature foods was featured as part of the celebration.  Garlic blue crabs, garlic shrimp, deviled eggs, greens, corn bread and an assortment of chicken wings were served as the Southern Soul Trio entertained the crowd musically with a jazz, R&B, Top 40 and light rock musical assortment.

The trendy restaurant/lounge has a jazz theme throughout the menu, the décor and the entertainment.  Photos of jazz greats dot the walls and the menu boasts Charlie Parker Sweet Catfish Dinner, Bo Didley Southern Fried Chicken and Duke Ellington’s Pork Chop.

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High Springs narrows city manager applicants, begins interviews with city attorneys

Buzz2012HIGH SPRINGS – The High Springs City Commission has selected three candidates to interview for the city manager position last occupied by Jeri Langman.  Applicants Scott Lippman, Kathleen Margoles and Isabel Smith will move forward in the City’s hiring process.

Each commissioner reviewed all of the 16 submitted resumes and narrowed the applicant pool, as agreed upon at the commission’s Sept. 27 meeting.  However, confusion about whether a possible applicant for the interim city manager position, Lee Vincent, was also interested in applying for the permanent position, led to his name being chosen as one of the candidates as well.

Vincent initially indicated he would not consider the position permanently as he is retired.  During the Sept. 27 meeting, Vincent indicated he was willing to serve in the temporary position for up to six months.

Meanwhile, commissioners agreed to review four more applicants’ resumes and come back to the next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 9, ready to name two more candidates.

Andrew DeCandis, Edwin Booth, Marty Simone and Douglas Hewitt are applicants currently under review to add to the shortlist.

City whittles list of attorney applicants

On another hiring front, commissioners held a special city commission meeting Tuesday, Oct. 2, and interviewed two out of five of the attorneys vying for the vacant city attorney position

City attorney applicants Crystal Patterson Talley, currently assistant state attorney for felony prosecutions for the Third Judicial Circuit, Hamilton County, and Steven Warm, currently serving as city attorney for Bronson were on hand to answer questions and discuss their experience and availability to take on the position.

Tally, a graduate of the University of Florida, has worked as a misdemeanor and felony prosecutor for Suwannee and Hamilton counties, respectively, since 2009.  Tally indicated she would like to move her family back to Alachua County, where her husband currently works, and would not continue in her present position if hired by the City of High Springs.

Warm, a graduate of Rutgers University, Newark, NJ, has been and will remain city attorney for the Town of Bronson, and also maintains his own law practice in Gainesville.  Meetings in Bronson occur twice monthly on Mondays, so both city’s schedules would be compatible, he indicated.

Interim City Manager/City Clerk Jenny Parham was asked to contact the remaining three applicants and request they appear at another special commission meeting to be held on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 6:30 p.m.

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