In The Spotlight
ALACHUA ‒ On a busy Friday night on April 29, customers at Sonny's in Alachua were greeted by some unusual waiters. Four police officers from the Alachua Police Department (APD) volunteered their time as “Celebrity Waiters” to collect tips at Sonny's restaurant to support the Special Olympics program.
Officers Thomas Stanfield, B. Railey, T. Brown and Sgt. C. Hunt joined the regular wait staff to serve beverages and interact with the customers to raise money for Special Olympics Florida in an event known as “Tip a Cop.”
Accompanied by three athletes from the Special Olympics, Jason Cacciotti, Richard Sullivan, and Gabby Taylor, the officers went from table to table introducing people to the athletes, explaining the significance of the program and collecting donations to help fund the athletes’ training and events.
The Special Olympics was the vision of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a member of the Kennedy family that included Rosemary, who had an intellectual disability. The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for people with intellectual disabilities who wish to participate, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness and gain confidence in themselves.
Neither athletes nor parents are charged a fee to participate in the program, and activities exist for those of all ability levels, from the highly functioning to the severely challenged.
The programs are funded by donations and organized by volunteers. Each state has its own Special Olympics organizations with all funding raised staying within the state. Special Olympics Florida serves over 60,000 athletes and offers training and competition in a variety of team and individual sports, with the help of over 38,000 coaches and volunteers statewide. However, besides state events, there are national and international competitions as well.
The “Tip a Cop” event is an official Law Enforcement Torch Run Campaign fundraising event that is organized throughout the country with law enforcement officers and department personnel volunteering their time as “Celebrity Waiters” to collect tips at a restaurant in support of Special Olympics.
In Alachua, Sonny’s Restaurant offered to sponsor the event and the restaurant was at full capacity for most of the evening. Many of the customers were there especially for the event, but there were more than a few surprised patrons who did not expect to be served by police officers in full gear and uniform during their dining night out.
“The Alachua Police Department with the help of Sonny's and the Special Olympics Florida Athletes raised $1,757 and 100 percent will be given to Special Olympics Florida,” said Officer Stanfield. “In addition to this event, all the law enforcement agencies in Alachua County will be participating in a “Torch Run” on May 6 in Tioga to raise more funds for the Special Olympics. The race route will start at Jonesville Publix and end at Tioga Towne Center,” Stanfield said.
On May 20 the Special Olympics State Summer Games will be held in Kissimmee, Florida and from June 5-12 the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games will be held in various Florida cities.
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ALACHUA ‒ There is a new member of the City of Alachua Commission as Ed Potts was sworn in at the April 25 commission meeting. Interim City Manager Mike DaRoza administered the oath of office to both Potts and incumbent Mayor Gib Coerper, who ran unopposed in the April 12 election. Potts beat out opponent Gregory Pelham for seat 2 with 715 votes representing 53 percent of the 1,340 votes cast while Pelham received 625 votes representing 47 percent of the vote.
Commissioner Jennifer Blalock assumes the duties of Vice Mayor as the Commission voted unanimously to appoint her to position. Blalock joined the Commission in 2021 after winning seat 5 in a three-way race.
In other business, the Commission honored Alachua Police Department Officer Zachary Flaherty. On Feb. 25, Flaherty received a call of a medical emergency at the Alachua McDonalds Restaurant. Upon arrival, he found several people gathered around an unconscious man in the restroom. Flaherty recognized the symptoms of a drug overdose as he examined the unconscious man whose breathing was becoming labored and his lips were turning blue.
The man had ingested cocaine that had been laced with fentanyl, a Schedule II controlled substance similar to morphine but about 100 times more potent. Flaherty stabilized the man using Narcan, a prescription medicine used for the treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose. By the time the EMT's arrived the man was beginning to respond and Flaherty was told that his actions saved the man's life.
The Commission presented Flaherty with an award as Alachua Police Department officers applauded from the commission chambers. Flaherty said that what he did was not heroism—he was simply doing his job as any police officer would have done.
The Commission turned their attention to petitions regarding development and land use. Clay Sweger, of EDA Consultants, Inc., agents for JTFA, LLC and Kevin & Shima Carter, property owners, requested amending the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) on a 162.5-acre property from Agriculture to Community Commercial for seven of the acres, a Low-Density Residential designation for 115.5 acres, and Moderate Density Residential for the remaining 40 acres.
The property is located south of the intersection of Northwest U.S. Highway 441 and Northwest 188th Street. The property is undeveloped and is primarily comprised of lands used as a tree farm and planted pine. Low density allows for one dwelling per acre or a potential of 115 new houses while moderate density allows for four dwelling per acre or 160 houses for a potential of 275 new houses along with 4,000-square feet for a neighborhood amenity center and commercial businesses along U.S. Highway 441 frontage.
The Commission approved the FLUM request as well as an accompanying rezoning request on first reading and will consider the matter again at a second and final reading to be scheduled.
The Commission also issued final rezoning approval to a planned development – residential (PD-R) for Fletcher Trace. Ryan Thompson, of CHW, Inc., petitioned on behalf of Waco Properties, Inc. for consideration of rezoning the property from Agricultural to PD-R. This project was previously known as Savannah Station Phase 3, but is now named Fletcher Trace.
The 118.2-acre property is located east of CR 235, north of Northwest 110th Avenue, and south of the Pilot Forest Subdivision. The PD-R zoning permits a maximum of 472 residential units on the property. The development will consist primarily of single family detached structures, but approximately 22.5 percent of the units could be developed as single family attached units, with up to eight units in a single building. The proposed development will be constructed in one or more phases.
The Alachua City Commission next meets on April 9.
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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ Almost every kid dreams of being a treasure hunter at some time in their childhood. Hollywood fosters that dream with movies such as Indiana Jones and National Treasure that portray treasure hunters as larger than life characters on dangerous missions that result in successful quests to find fabled treasure. In real life, few of us will ever realize that dream or find any treasure.
But for Shawn Cowles, treasure hunting and adventure in faraway lands is a lifelong career. On April 21, he shared his adventures through a lecture at the High Springs Museum to a packed crowd. On as table next to him he displayed the tools of his trade and examples of the treasures he has found including a large black mass of silver coins found in the most famous treasure find in modern times.
He worked for the Mel Fisher organization on Florida’s 1622 fleet shipwrecks, Atocha and Santa Margarita, where he helped recover $420 million worth of gold, silver and jewels. As an independent consultant and diver, Cowles has been involved with prominent land find and shipwreck projects in North America, South America, and the Pacific Ocean. Some, like Guam’s Nuestra Senora del Pilar, were in waters up to 350 feet deep, using mixed gas and closed-circuit technology. He has been searching for treasure since the age of 21.
His passion for treasure hunting began as a child when he and his father were renovating their ancestral home and Cowles found a 300-year-old coin from 1798. From then on treasure hunting became his passion and career. After college he tried his hand in the music industry, eventually winding up in Key West, Florida. He was also a trained diver and ended up joining Fisher's expedition on one of the biggest treasure finds in history.
Over the years, Cowles also worked as a consultant on several treasure expeditions and became a consultant for Discovery Channels Treasure Quest show for two seasons searching for a possible treasure in the Bolivian mountains at Sacambaya. The legend is that Jesuit Priests buried a vast amount of treasure somewhere in the valley that is estimated to be worth $2 billion.
Cowles’ knowledge led him to become the featured star of the show in the 3rd season in 2019. “The environment in the Bolivian Mountains is pretty extreme and remote, so the crew had to travel light while still having the necessary tools to identify any possible locations,” said Cowles. Although they used five tools, the main tool was a metal detector that could identify metal deposits underground.
“We also used lightweight Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to look for caverns or empty spaces that could be vaults,” said Cowles. “Any metals we found were then checked with an alloy tester to see the composition of the metal.”
The expedition was stationed at Sacambaya a for six months and made significant finds, but not the motherlode—yet. Season 4 has been put on hold due to the COVID pandemic, but Cowles believes they are close to finding the fabled treasure.
Although treasure hunting is a career, adventure and travel are a way of life for Cowles and his wife, Adele Williams. Originally from Australia, Williams is a motorbike enthusiast whose quest for adventure and travel matches that of her husband and they have traveled extensively including several cross-country trips on their motor bikes. After season 3 ended, they took their dirt bikes on a grand adventure traveling from Key West to Bolivia.
“I figured that this would put us down in Bolivia prior to season 4 and give is a chance to travel, interact with local people along the way and hear their history and legends,” said Cowles. “We are both very interested in hearing people’s stories and culture.”
By the time they reached Bolivia, the pandemic had put the whole world in quarantine and they were stuck in Bolivia for 40 days. They wound up leaving their motorbikes there and flying back to the United States. With their Key West house rented, they hit the road in an RV and traveled America. As they returned to Florida at the end of their trip, they stopped in High Springs.
“We instantly fell in love with this area,” sad Cowles. They were attracted to the friendly people with a small-town attitude of community and the beautiful landscape. “Adele is also into horses so we wound up deciding to stay and buy a farm that also had room to expand to a B&B, said Cowles. The couple still plans to travel, but High Springs has become their home. “I may be a treasure hunter, but this area is a treasure in itself,” Cowles said.
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ALACHUA ‒ After a two-year hiatus due to the Covid Pandemic, the Relay For Life Cancer event has returned to Alachua. This year the venue was moved to the new Legacy Park Amphitheater but the dedication of the volunteers and supporters remained unchanged. Despite the hiatus, the event and support of the community came back even larger than before.
Relay for Life is a team fund raising event featuring team members walking around a track. Each event is four to 24 hours in length and each team has a member on the track at all times to signify that cancer never sleeps.
In Alachua, 21 teams and nine sponsors fielded teams and made additional donations or had items for sale including the City of Alachua, Waste Pro, Campus USA, UF Health, Cisco, Santa Fe Kiwanis Club and Santa Fe High School. The school's FFA brought a pig, that based on donations, was to be kissed by a city official.
The concept behind the event is that no one has to fight cancer alone and that the community supports and celebrates the accomplishment and struggles of cancer survivors and caregivers. Many of the runners are survivors or people memorializing loved ones who died of cancer. Every year, Relay events are organized, staffed and coordinated by volunteers in thousands of communities and 27 countries to remember those who have succumbed to the disease, honor the survivors of all cancers, and raise money to help the American Cancer Society make a global impact on disease.
One in three Americans will be diagnosed with cancer. Even if the cancer is defeated or put into remission, the specter of the disease remains, as does the fear it could return. In 2021, there were 1.9 million new cancer cases diagnosed and 608,570 cancer deaths in the United States. That equates to over 1,600 deaths a day.
Although each community puts individual touches to their Relay For Life Event, there is a general format they follow. Each team and sponsors set up a fund-raising tent where people can make donations and sponsor a runner. Some teams also offer items for sale like baked goods, food, stuffed animals or even offer a service people.
After the opening ceremony, the relays begin in a specific order with the first one featuring the cancer survivors walking, The second one features their spouses and caregivers. This year, the third walking team was comprised of police, first responders and military members, several of whom were survivors as well. After that, the teams take to the course as well as the general public.
This year prior to the walk, there was a tribute to Robin True, who had been heavily involved in the previous Relay For Life events. True was a victim of Ovarian Cancer and had fought it for six years until she passed in 2021. Before the first walk, her extended family, friends and supporters gathered before the stage to accept an award from Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper as True’s son played the harmonica in tribute to his mother's life.
The event is always held when the sun sets and darkness falls, representing the darkness of the disease. Bringing honor and remembrance as well as hope, luminaries glow in dedication to cancer victims and survivors. Each luminary carries the name of a survivor or someone who has died of cancer as well as information about that person.
Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society's signature fundraising event that represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported, and that one day cancer will be eliminated. Alachua’s Relay for Life at Legacy Park was organized to remember those lost to cancer, celebrate cancer survivorship and to raise money for medical research and programs conducted by the American Cancer Society.
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NEWBERRY ‒ There are hundreds of commercial ziplines in the U.S. and Newberry is poised to add one more as the Board of Adjustment approved a zipline application on May 9. The Special Exception application allows a zipline course, accessory uses and off-site signage on approximately 59.75 acres located east of Northwest County Road 235, approximately a half-mile south of the intersection of Northwest County Road 235 and Northwest 46th Avenue/County Road Northwest 36.
The application was submitted by Spain Development LLC, acting as agent on behalf of property owners Ann, Carl S. and John Salmi.
The Planning and Zoning Board heard this application on May 2 and approved it with 11 conditions proposed by the City’s Planning and Economic Development Department. Those conditions include:
Prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy or Completion, the owners must obtain all necessary Florida Department of Health permits for the construction of a well and septic system, and, should City water and wastewater services be extended to a distance of 800 feet from the property, the owners must connect to City services within 12 months of notification of the availability and pay all applicable fees.
Prior to the issuance of a building permit, the owners shall obtain an access easement from the subject property to Northwest County Road 235 in a form acceptable to the city attorney which shall be recorded into the public records of Alachua County.
If the access road is gated, the owners shall coordinate with the Newberry Fire Department and Alachua County Fire Department on installation of a Knox-box for emergency access.
Prior to an issuance of an off-site sign permit, the owners shall provide evidence of authorization from the landowner upon which property the sign is placed to construct and maintain off-site signage in a form acceptable to the city attorney.
Prior to issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy or Completion, owners shall provide to the City of Newberry Building Official and display in a conspicuous location on the property a valid Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) annual permit and record of the last inspection by same.
Prior to making modifications of operations, the owners shall notify FDACS and the City of Newberry Fire Department and Alachua County Fire Department by written and verbal report before those changes become operational.
All defects, manufacturer bulletins, or failures of inspection shared with FDACS must also be sent to the City of Newberry Fire Department and Alachua County Fire Department and the last 14 daily inspections must be made immediately available upon request by same.
The proposed use shall not be enlarged, increased, intensified or altered without further review by the City of Newberry Board of Adjustment or other board designated in the Land Development Regulations (LDRs) as amended from time to time, and discontinuation of the use for a period of 12 consecutive months shall render the special exception null and void.
No use of public address systems shall occur prior to 8 a.m. or after sunset, except under emergency circumstances.
The owners shall comply with and maintain an up-to-date an operations and emergency plan that is kept on file at all times with the City of Newberry Fire Department and Building Department, and same shall be notified by written and verbal report with fourteen days of any changes to the operation and emergency plan.
In accordance with the facility’s most current approved operations and emergency plan, owners shall: Provide, at the owners’ expense, the Fire/Rescue/EMS services specified and as may be determined necessary by the City of Newberry Fire Department, for all events, including all event days; provide adequate emergency medical services for all events, as required by their insurance and, as applicable, provide emergency vehicle access to all areas of the site and all event activities, allowing safe routes of passage prior, during and after events; not obstruct or impede emergency services access; provide on-site fire suppression capability and emergency medical service capability; ensure personnel are familiar with and can implement appropriate safety, maintenance, and emergency policies and procedures; obtain at least $1 million liability insurance; comply with all health requirements for the provision of restrooms and food handling, and ensure all mobile food vendors attain and hold a current mobile vendor license; and not permit open fires.
Karl Spain said there would be nine towers built on the property and a 1,064-sq. ft. building that includes bathrooms, concession stands and other required spaces.
The BOA added two more requirements including a $1 million policy per incident insurance policy and dark sky friendly lighting.
Although Spain said he planned on purchasing a $5 million umbrella, the City wanted to make sure the wording included at least $1 million insurance policy per incident. The other addition was dark sky friendly lighting on the building and structures. Spain said for special events he intended to light the cliffs, but on non-special event lighting he said he would agree to the dark sky friendly lighting requirement.
Additional items included a weight requirement of 70-275 lb. limit for riders on the zip lines, double line attachment to people on the zip line, a helicopter landing pad for emergencies, natural trails that would be constructed, towers constructed in steel, a handicapped line, wheel chair accessibility, staff training in basic life support and the inclusion of Automated External Defibrillator (AED) equipment on site.
Spain’s cost estimate at this time is $50-$55 for half-day riders and $95 for a full day. He said there would be an area for events such as weddings and that environmental education may be a part of the project at some point. Currently, he hopes for 90 – 200 visitors per day, but that the facility was rated to accommodate 350 visitors with upgrades in the number of employees on site.
The BOA unanimously approved the Special Exception with the addition of the dark sky lighting and insurance per incident requirement.
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The Cade to launches into Outer Space this Summer
At a museum not so far way, visitors of all ages will soon experience the stellar amazement of our mysterious Milky Way galaxy.
Wandering the Milky Way: A Tour of the Solar System is set to take off as the new summer theme at the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention on Thursday, June 2, invading every space of the Cade through January 2023.
With immersive experiences and hands-on discoveries, Wandering the Milky Way offers the perfect escape from Florida’s sweltering summer heat. Museum visitors can cool off in climate-controlled, state-of-the-art comfort while delving into the lives of inventors who made breakthrough discoveries about our neighboring planets, as well as other far-out features of our solar system and beyond.
Expect to travel from Jupiter’s swirling red spot to the icy geysers on Neptune’s moon Triton. Learn about the inventors who’ve used robots, rockets, and rovers to take the people of Earth on a tour of our galactic neighbors. Perhaps, most exciting of all, Wandering the Milky Way provides a glimpse of how humanity explores outer space. In the featured exhibit, Voyages: A Trip through Time and Space, guests will learn about Voyagers 1 and 2 and how they are still broadcasting back to Earth as they travel farther into space than any manmade object.
The new museum-wide theme will feature not just exhibit panels and interactives, but also a host of space-themed activities. Little ones get a chance to construct a spacesuit from a plastic egg, make galactic slime, and find out why potatoes make excellent astronaut fuel.
Families, jet to the Petty Gallery, where the Astronaut Academy is enlisting kids for an out-of-this-world mission. In the area designed especially for the Cade’s youngest guests, kids can send a parachute flying in a wind tube and crawl around an obstacle course.
Of course, no museum exploration would be complete without an introduction to Neil Armstrong (1930– 2012), an American aerospace engineer, test pilot and astronaut who flew on the Apollo missions and first set foot on the moon. To get a sense of what it was like to take that famous lunar step, one activity invites kids and kids-at-heart to make an impression in a pile of moon sand.
Even the Cade’s Fab Lab has gone outer limits to investigate how technological innovations will lead to even larger leaps for humankind. In the lab, guests can build a rover and test it on alien terrain, while discovering the secret code hidden on the Mars rover. Ye olde printing press is getting in on the action too, printing stories for guests that cover topics related to space.
“The Cade Museum offers a learning experience that you won’t find anywhere else,” says Bailes. “We call it our Inventivity™ Framework. We take a non-traditional, multidisciplinary approach to teaching science. We teach STEM concepts with art, creativity, and play, and most importantly through the lens of invention. When kids ask ‘why do I need to know this?’ we can show them a product they really care about or an invention that has changed their lives. We bring that science concept to life in a way that is meaningful. And most importantly, it’s fun. Everyone loves to create and build and stretch their imaginations. We hope our visitors have a blast launching into the world of space exploration.”
For more information about the Cade Museum’s upcoming exhibits and programming, visit cademuseum.org.
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HIGH SPRINGS - The High Springs Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) will host its inaugural social soiree on Tuesday, May 17th at 6:30PM. Area residents and business owners are invited to The Opera House, located above The Great Outdoors Restaurant, 18587 High Springs Main Street for an evening of fellowship and education. Joe Cirulli, founder of Gainesville Health & Fitness, will be our guest speaker. An update on the High Springs downtown/CRA master plan with CRA Coordinator David Sutton and Assistant City Manager Bruce Gillingham will also be provided. Admission is free. Light refreshments will be served.
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NEWBERRY ‒ Ozell Rasheem Hoyt, 29, was arrested on Tuesday, May 3 following two separate assault incidents at the same location the previous night.
According to arrest reports, shortly after midnight on May 3, Hoyt arrived at the home of a woman he had previously been in a relationship with. The woman reportedly didn’t let him in because she thought he was high. About an hour later, the woman’s mother let him in and he entered the woman’s bedroom, then went to the kitchen, picked up a steak knife and went back to the bedroom while attempting to conceal the knife in his shirt. He allegedly threatened to kill the woman while walking toward her with the blade of the knife protruding from his shirt.
The woman’s mother told deputies that she was able to convince him to leave the bedroom and he put the knife in the kitchen sink. The woman’s mother pushed him out of the residence and locked the door.
At about 3:25 a.m. the same night, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call about a man trying to force entry to the same home by throwing a cinderblock into a window.
When the deputy arrived, he found Hoyt with a large piece of cinderblock in his hands behind his back. After Hoyt reportedly refused multiple commands to drop the cinderblock, the deputy drew his Taser and told Hoyt he would be tased if he did not drop the cinderblock.
The deputy reported that Hoyt then assumed an aggressive posture, holding the cinderblock out to one side. When the deputy repeated the command to drop the cinderblock, Hoyt allegedly said, “You will have to shoot me” and started moving toward the deputy. The deputy deployed his Taser, and he was able to handcuff Hoyt.
Post Miranda, Hoyt denied the verbal argument occurring with the woman and stated that he never was in possession of a knife. However, both the mother and daughter allegedly saw Hoyt with the knife.
Hoyt has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill, assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest. He is being held on $155,000 bail.
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GAINESVILLE ‒ Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) has extended the deadline for parents to notify the district if their students need a laptop and/or Internet connection at home.
Thanks to federal funding, the district has the opportunity to provide thousands of students with a laptop, Internet service or both at home beginning this fall. However, families need to let the district know what their students need by filling out the Home Technology Survey
More than 1,800 of the surveys have been returned so far. The original deadline of May 13 has now been extended to May 20 to give more families time to respond.
Hard copies of the survey were sent home with all students at the end of April, but parents can request another by contacting their child’s school. They can also respond to the survey online at https://www.sbac.edu/techsurvey. The online version can be completed on a cell phone, tablet or desktop. All responses will be confidential.
The district is hoping to order, receive and distribute devices to students in time for the beginning of the school year, although that will depend on the availability of devices and other supply-chain issues.
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TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today announced a settlement agreement with a commercial fishing captain. Darrell York of the commercial fishing vessel, Watch Out, agreed to pay $22,300 restitution for resource-related crimes dating back to 2015.
“This case is a great example of our commitment to working with our state and federal partners in bringing those who show complete disregard for Florida’s natural resources and are actively evading officers to justice,” said Col. Roger Young, FWC Division of Law Enforcement.
Officers with the FWC’s offshore patrol vessel program first encountered York in 2015 when he and his crew discarded their catch of illegal red snapper and grouper during a pursuit. Through multiple encounters and tips from the public, officers determined the captain had constructed a hidden compartment on the vessel. During a stop in January 2021, officers discovered 13 red snapper and one gag grouper in the hidden compartment. Case information was presented to special agents with NOAA and, in April 2022, York and prosecutors with NOAA reached a settlement agreement for a restitution payment of $22,300.
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GAINESVILLE – The Friends of the Library Spring Book Sale will be held Saturday, April 23 through Wednesday, April 27 at the Bookhouse, 430-B N. Main Sreet, Gainesville. Profits from the popular sale support the Alachua County Library District and community literacy projects.
Shoppers are advised to bring their own bags or boxes. Cash, checks, and cards are accepted for payment. Masks are encouraged for all shoppers while inside the building and capacity will be limited.
Spring Book Sale hours are:
- Saturday, April 23, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
- Sunday, April 24, 12-6 p.m.
- Monday, April 25, 12-6 p.m.
- Tuesday, April 26, 12- 6 p.m. – All items in the general collection are half price.
- Wednesday, April 27, 12-6 p.m. – All items are 10 cents.
The Collector’s Corner, which includes first editions, signed works, and unique finds, is open Saturday through Tuesday.
Friends of the Library’s book sale proceeds support the Alachua County Library District in many ways, including purchasing materials, paying for special programs for all ages, funding scholarships for staff, and supporting remodel projects.
To learn more or volunteer, contact Friends of the Library at 352-375-1676 or www.folacld.org. The Fall Book Sale is scheduled for Oct. 22-26, 2022.
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GAINESVILLE – Santa Fe College is investing an additional $500,000 in scholarships for non-traditional students to remove barriers to college enrollment and achievement. These new scholarships are in addition to the $1.5 million awarded annually by the SF Foundation. Anticipated scholarship outcomes include expanding the region's college-going culture, improving student success, and increasing economic and social mobility.
Based on student and community feedback, the new scholarships were created to address the needs of these underserved students. In mid-April, the electronic application will open for the following new Board of Trustees scholarships:
- Adult Education Scholarship: Helps community members prepare for the GED exam through the College’s Educational Opportunity Center.
- Baccalaureate Scholarship: Supports community members who have already earned an associate’s degree go on to pursue a baccalaureate degree at SF.
- Family Support Scholarship: Assists community members who serve as caretakers for elderly or disabled adult relatives.
- Finish at the Top/Last Mile Scholarship: Supports SF students who previously stopped out but only need 12 credit hours or less to graduate.
- Gap Scholarship: Assists currently enrolled SF students who need funding to complete prerequisites to transfer into the university of their choice.
- Part-Time Scholarship: Provides support to community members who are unable to take a full load of classes, but are committing to earning a degree on a part-time basis.
- Workforce Continuing Education Scholarship: Provides job skills and certification in preparation for employment in specific high-demand areas. Supports non-degree seeking students in the college’s Continuing Education program.
- Study Abroad Scholarship: Help students participate in SF’s study abroad experiences.
- International “SOS” - Student Opportunity Scholarship: Assists international students at SF on an F-1 or F-2 student visa who are experiencing a crisis beyond their control.
- SF International Resident Scholarship: Assists international students with financial need who are not studying with an F-1 or F-2 student visa.
To apply, please go to https://www.sfcollege.edu/fa/scholarships/college-scholarships/. Completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Financial Aid (FAFSA) is an eligibility component for most of the scholarships.
In addition to these new scholarships for non-traditional students, Santa Fe College developed the SF Achieve program to foster a college-going culture in the local community. Students attending public high schools in Alachua and Bradford counties may participate in the program.
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ALACHUA COUNTY, FL - If you missed Earth Day, it’s not too late to celebrate with Keep Alachua County Beautiful at Cuscowilla on Saturday. KACB turned 30 this year and, to celebrate, is partnering with the Friends of Cuscowilla, UPS and Alachua County Parks and Open Space to plant 30 Live Oak trees on Saturday, April 23.
Cuscowilla is the new youth camp property located at 210 S.E. 134th Ave Micanopy, FL 32667. The anniversary and Earth Day celebration will run from 9 a.m. until noon and include activities for all ages. Support from a Keep America Beautiful/UPS grant will allow for $500 worth of free trees to be given away to attendees at the event.
A children’s butterfly garden will also be installed and tours of Cuscowilla will be offered. Alachua County is coordinating the installation of the Live Oak trees by KACB volunteers, members and directors, and the Friends of Cuscowilla. Several of the Live Oaks will be planted in memory of KACB directors Florence Cline, Bob Gasche, Fritzi Olson, and Jeanne Rochford who served for more than a decade each.
“The success of KACB is in large part due to the commitment each of these individuals had for preserving the environmental legacy of Alachua County,” according to Gina Hawkins, executive director of KACB. KACB, the local Keep America Beautiful affiliate, has worked to protect the environmental legacy of Alachua County through litter cleanup events, graffiti removal, tree plantings, community gardens, recycling, environmental education and other projects for over thirty years.
KACB has already removed 400 bags of garbage from a single right of way easement this month. The easement was one of 11 illegal dump sites targeted during the year-long Great American Cleanup, the signature event of KACB. KACB volunteers removed over 1,000 bags of trash from roadways since the first of the year and the GAC continues until June 30.
KACB is engaged in planting efforts at six community gardens. Great American Cleanup events were scheduled for each weekend in April and May in nearly all of the municipalities in Alachua County and, through the generous support from sponsors, volunteers were treated to food, prizes, and volunteer recognition awards.
The City of Gainesville and Alachua County are the primary sponsors of the Great American Cleanup and GFLenvironmental and Waste Pro donate thousands of dollars in hauling equipment, staff, services and other support for these events.
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BIG BEND, FL - On Tuesday, April 5, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers aboard the FWC’s offshore patrol vessel Fin Cat along with FWC aviation unit officers were jointly conducting an operation to monitor for stone crab vessels fishing in the closed areas of the Big Bend stone crab – shrimping zones.
The FWC aviation crew advised they had viewed a stone crab vessel in closed zone 2. That vessel began making circles in the area to retrieve their traps from the bottom, actively fishing their traps in a closed area.
“When the vessel crew of the Nauti Crab noticed our patrol vessel headed toward them, the crew dropped all of the stone crab gear to the bottom,” said Lt. Scott Smith. The captain stated they had broken down and just fixed their vessel. They insisted they had not been crabbing in that area.”
“All crew members were wearing ‘slickers,’ a common practice when working stone crab traps. There were also boxes of bait all over the deck of the vessel,” said Lt. Smith. “They were using a long line gear setup, with 60 to 80 traps all connected on one line under water and invisible to the eye. Each line should be marked by a buoy; however, not a single line we located was marked.”
FWC officers documented the evidence and followed the stone crab vessel back into its home port of Hernando Beach. The vessel’s GPS units along with drugs and paraphernalia were seized and placed into evidence. FWC officers later returned to the location of the GPS coordinates where the crew stopped working and, dragging a grapple behind the patrol vessel, located 57 stone crab traps. Officers continued to discover traps in the closed zone. More than 525 traps have been documented, all belonging to the vessel captain.
This investigation is ongoing.
Andrew Bertine, 54, of Lecanto, Scott Lefke, 53, of Homosassa, Matthew Bransfield, 40, of Citrus Springs and George Boynton, 48, of Homosassa were arrested and transported to Citrus County Jail. They were charged with 10 misdemeanors and two felonies for the following:
- Possession of undersized stone crab claws.
- Possession of methamphetamine.
- Possession of drug paraphernalia.
- No aerial display of stone crab numbers or buoy.
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May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As a volunteer and advocate with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, this month I am asking everyone to join us and demand #MoreForMentalHealth.
I am doing more by calling on my legislators at the federal and state levels to support legislation that will fund the implementation of 988 and the suicide and mental health crisis system across our nation, particularly for those in underserved communities.
Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255 and de-escalates the crises of tens of thousands of callers each day. On July 16, those in distress and those that support them will be able to reach the Lifeline through a simple 3-digit number: 988.
By making the Lifeline more accessible through this shorter number, calls, texts, and chats to the Lifeline's network of crisis call centers are expected to increase. It is vital that the federal government work with states to ensure callers in distress will have: 1) someone to call, 2) someone to come help, and 3) somewhere safe to go.
We must act NOW to secure funding to equip call centers and community crisis response services throughout the country with the staff and resources to respond to everyone in crisis.
Join me this month in urging our federal and state public officials to do #MoreForMentalHealth. You can start by visiting moreformentalhealth.org.
Together, we can help #StopSuicide.
Alachua, FloridaAdd a comment
“I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” These words are as moving today as when first spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the passionate and influential civil rights leader who stood as a “pillar of hope and a model of grace” in his fight towards equality for all.
On January 17, we will reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. King, who, with his brave supporters, stood in strong opposition to racial discrimination, as well as the wrongful and unequal treatment of people who differed in national origin and religious beliefs.
The State of Florida continues to carry Dr. King’s legacy forward, committed to ending discrimination and ensuring all within our state have fair and equal access to employment and housing - because every person deserves to live the American Dream. The Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) was established in 1969 to enforce the Florida Civil Rights Act and address discrimination through education, outreach, and partnership. Annually, the FCHR recognizes and honors Floridians who advance civil rights throughout the state in the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame.
As we take this time to honor Dr. King, let us consider how we can improve our own communities. Everyone should have the opportunity to live the American Dream. Dr. King paved the way for our society to embrace equality, and it is our job as Americans and Floridians to ensure the civil rights of all people.
Angela Primiano, Vice-Chair
Florida Commission on Human Relations
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This week, I announced the new Mental Health Care Service webpage on the Department of Financial Services (DFS) website, which aims to provide resources and assistance to mental health services for consumers. This past legislative session, HB 701 was signed by Governor DeSantis and establishes new communication duties for health insurers and HMOs and creates reporting requirements for DFS.
I’m proud to provide Floridians with resources they need to seek vital treatment so they can live a healthier life. As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, mental health challenges are on the rise nationwide, especially within our first responder and front-line healthcare communities. Thank you to Governor Ron DeSantis, First Lady Casey DeSantis and the Florida Legislature for stressing the importance of mental health resources in our communities.
On Tuesday, I recognized, October 12th, as National Savings Day and urged Floridians to make saving a priority to secure their financial well-being. Saving is the cornerstone of a strong financial foundation. Setting money aside each month allows families to handle unexpected costs or prepare for future expenses, like college tuition. As your CFO, I remain focused on ensuring all Floridians have the tools they need to make their hard-earned money work for them. For information about financial literacy programs available through the Department, please visit Your Money Matters, which is a one-stop shop for tips and resources to help Floridians manage their finances wisely.
Lastly, in recognition of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, I encouraged Floridians to 'Be Cyber Smart' and raised awareness in an effort to stay safe and secure online. Recently, officials are warning consumers of a new scam where fraudsters are creating fake Google Voice accounts to scam people without being detected. Scammers are always searching for new ways to trick their next victim and using fake Google Voice accounts is their latest ploy. I encourage all individuals and businesses to take action today to 'Be Cyber Smart' and learn how to protect your identity online to ensure you don’t fall victim. Learn about the latest scams and report signs of fraud immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com
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With Memorial Day behind us and Independence Day on the horizon, I’m happy to report that our state parks have never been more popular.
Our beaches – two of which were recently named among the 10 best in America by beach guru Dr. Beach – and our springs have attracted a record number of visitors, and we expect that trend to continue in the weeks and months ahead.
Not only that, but our campsites are filling up too as more people discover the joys of camping and RVing.
As it turns out, now is a great time to plan an overnight stay. June is National Camping Month, and the Florida Park Service has just launched a new reservation system that provides our visitors with quicker, easier access to their favorite parks.
The new system shows clearly which parks and sites are available for camping and provides online users with a streamlined process for making reservations. Additionally, campers can now reserve same-day accommodations, which is something that we’ve been wanting to implement for a long time.
The changes will also be apparent at each park’s ranger station, as we’ve updated our point-of-sale system to be more modernized and, most importantly, faster. That means less time at the park gates and more time inside the park.
You might also notice welcome additions such as the ability to be notified when a site becomes available. And, in the future, we’ll be looking to add expanded reservation capabilities for Florida residents.
When thinking about your favorite parks, you might remember an unforgettable paddling adventure or boat tour. But take a moment to consider the park operations needed to offer our visitors the best experiences possible.
Food sales, camp stores, kayak rentals, ferries and trams are services that we could not provide if not for a specially selected group of businesses – many of them owned locally. These companies and their employees are a part of our park community, and they’re just as committed as regular park staff to making your visit safe and enjoyable.
The business that helps us with reservations is just one of our partners that help make 800,000 acres, 30 springs and 100 miles of beaches special places to visit.
Director, Florida State Parks
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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is on June 15. On this day, and throughout the month, communities, seniors, caregivers, governments, organizations, and the private sector unite to prevent the mistreatment of and violence against older people.
Social Security imposter scams are widespread across the United States. Scammers use sophisticated tactics to deceive you into providing sensitive information or money. They target everyone – even the elderly – and their tactics continue to evolve.
Most recently, Social Security’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has received reports of phone scammers creating fake versions of the identification badges most Federal employees use to gain access to Federal buildings. The scammers may text or email photos of the fake badges to convince potential victims of their legitimacy. These badges use government symbols, words, and even names and photos of real people, which are available on government websites or through internet searches.
If you receive a suspicious letter, text, email, or call, hang up or do not respond. You should know how to identify when it’s really Social Security. We will NEVER:
- Text or email images of an employee’s official government identification.
- Suspend your Social Security number.
- Threaten you with arrest or other legal action unless you immediately pay a fine or fee.
- Require payment by retail gift card, wire transfer, internet currency, or cash by mail.
- Promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment.
- Send official letters or reports containing your personal information via email.
We only send text messages if you have opted in to receive texts from us and only in limited situations, including the following:
- When you have subscribed to receive updates and notifications by text.
- As part of our enhanced security when accessing your personal my Social Security account.
If you owe money to us, we will mail you a letter with payment options and appeal rights.
We encourage you to report suspected Social Security imposter scams — and other Social Security fraud — to the OIG website at oig.ssa.gov. You may read our previous Social Security fraud advisories at oig.ssa.gov/newsroom/news-release. Please share this information with your friends and family to help spread awareness about Social Security imposter scams.
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The first drug developed to treat alcohol use disorder (AUD), the modern term for alcoholism, was disulfiram (Antabuse). Today disulfiram is still used, but as a second line drug behind acamprosate (Campral) and naltrexone (Revia, Vivitrol). Disulfiram works by blocking the enzymatic breakdown of alcohol and allowing a metabolite to build up in the blood, producing very unpleasant effects. People taking disulfiram will be deterred from ingesting alcohol because they know they will become very ill. The drug is used as an aid to help alcoholics overcome their cravings and addiction.
Disulfiram (a compound that contains sulfur) was first synthesized in 1881 as an industrial chemical, and in the early 1900s was introduced in the manufacturing of rubber. Adding sulfur in rubber manufacturing produces varying degrees of hardness in the final rubber compound.
During the late 1930s sulfur compounds, including disulfiram, were being investigated because of the antimicrobial effects of drugs containing sulfur, and the search was intense. Two scientists at the Danish firm of Medicinalco, Erik Jacobson and Jens Hald, began investigating disulfiram for treatment of intestinal parasites. This company had a group of employees called the “Death Battalion” who would experiment on themselves.
During this phase of testing the drug on themselves, they discovered they became ill after ingesting alcohol. This discovery was made in 1945, but a few years later disulfiram was considered to be used in the treatment of alcoholism as an aversive-reaction drug therapy. Jacobson and Hald’s work was finally published in 1948 and disulfiram was approved by the FDA in 1951.
The discovery of disulfiram led to a renewed interest in the metabolism of alcohol in the body. It was known alcohol was metabolized in the liver and broken down to acetaldehyde then to acetic acid and carbon dioxide by unknown enzymes. In 1950 it was discovered that disulfiram blocked the action of the enzyme that converts acetaldehyde, thus causing an accumulation of acetaldehyde in the bloodstream, which is the cause of the unpleasant effects.
Effects that occur when disulfiram is taken with alcohol include flushing, sweating, nausea and vomiting, chest pain, shortness of breath, and lightheadedness. One should not take disulfiram within 12 hours of alcohol ingestion or 14 days from the last dose of the drug. In addition, products that contain alcohol such as aftershave, cologne, perfume, antiperspirant, and mouthwash can produce unpleasant reactions for people taking Antabuse. Other products to avoid are paint thinners, solvents, and stains, along with dyes, resins and waxes, because even small amounts of alcohol absorbed through the skin can produce the effects.
Other drugs can produce adverse reactions, commonly called the “antabuse-like reaction.” The most notable of these drugs are metronidazole (Flagyl, an antibiotic), griseofulvin (an antifungal), and some cephalosporin antibiotics. If a drug is known to have this side effect, it should be pointed out to the patient by the prescriber and the pharmacist. Always read the drug information given to you when starting a new medication that tells you about side effects that may occur and how to avoid them.
Substance abuse of any kind is not good, but alcohol abuse has been especially devastating to society, families, and individuals because of the convenient availability, relative inexpensiveness, and its association with festivities. In addition, the abuse of alcohol leads to lack of inhibitions and unpredictable behaviors, which are many times violent and destructive. When people take disulfiram, they are acknowledging their problem, and they know that very unpleasant reactions will occur if alcohol is consumed, thus it helps to deter the first drink.
The history of disulfiram is still being written. Currently, it is being studied to treat certain cancers, parasitic infections, HIV, and Covid-19.
Stay informed and stay healthy.
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William Garst is a consultant pharmacist who resides in Alachua, Florida. He received his B.S. in Pharmacy from Auburn University in 1975. He earned a master’s degree in Public Health in 1988 from the University of South Florida and a Master’s in Pharmacy from UF in 2001. In 2007, he received his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Colorado. Dr. Garst is a member of many national, state, and local professional associations. He serves on the Alachua County Health Care Advisory Board and stays active as a relief pharmacist. In 2016, he retired from the VA. Dr. Garst enjoys golf, reading (especially history), and family. He writes a blog called The Pharmacy Newsletter (https://thepharmacynewsletter.com/). William Garst can be contacted at communitypharmac
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