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Splash Park  - DSC 0531

ALACHUA -- A busy place this time of year, the splash park at the Hal Brady Recreation Complex in Alachua offers a refreshing playground for area children to cool off. Dozens of kids played in the water Wednesday afternoon.

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HS Vigil

HIGH SPRINGS – A brief vigil was held Saturday evening, June 18, at the Gazebo in James Paul Park in remembrance of the 49 people slain on Sunday, June 12, in Orlando. The names and ages of all 49 people were read aloud as people held lit candles in memory of those lost in the shooting at Pulse, an Orlando nightclub.

Bob Watson, Christine New and her daughter, Kaitlin New, organized the vigil with help from other community members who supplied music, flowers, and candles. Christine, Kaitlin, Suzie Ann Clark, Chandler Sheffield, Leda Carrero and Amanda Rodriguez took turns reading the names until all had been read. “The youngest person slain was 18-year-old Akyra Monet Murray,” said Christine.

The names of the other 48 people killed in Orlando are as follows: Stanley Almodovar III, 23, Amanda Alvear, 25,Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26, Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33, Antonio Davon Brown, 29, Darryl Roman Burt II, 29, Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28, Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25, Luis Daniel Conde, 39, Cory James Connell, 21, Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25, Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32, Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31, Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25, Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26, Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22, Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22, Paul Terrell Henry, 41, Frank Hernandez, 27, Miguel Angel Honorato, 30, Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40, Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19, Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30, Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25, Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32, Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21, Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49, Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25, Kimberly Morris, 37, Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20, Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25, Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36, Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32, Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35, Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25, Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27, Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35, Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24, Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24, Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34, Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33, Martin Benitez Torres, 33, Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24, Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37, Luis S. Vielma, 22, Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50, Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 and Jerald Arthur Wright, 31.

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Q - HSPD alligator officers

Photo Special to Alachua County Today

The High Springs Police Department conducted over 100 traffic stops over the Memorial Day weekend holiday. But the incident creating the most interest was an alligator feeding on a dead deer on the side of U.S. Highway 441. L-R: HSPD Sergeant Dustin Shenk and Office Adam Joy responded to the alligator incident.

HIGH SPRINGS – High Springs Police officers had their hands full this three-day Memorial weekend with everything from multiple arrests, traffic stops, an alcohol-related accident and an alligator holding up traffic on U.S. Highway 441.

“It was busy, that's for sure,” said Lt. Antoine Sheppard.

The High Springs Police Department (HSPD) deployed additional officers during the weekend in anticipation of a busy holiday. “Gilchrist and Alachua County Sheriff's officers also assisted in traffic enforcement along County Road 340,” said Sheppard.

HSPD conducted more than 118 traffic stops over the course of the holiday weekend, netting eight arrests. Charges ranged from drug-related issues to administration of active arrest warrants.

With all the excitement and traffic in the area, the item that garnered the most attention was a video and photos posted on the HSPD's Facebook page of a young alligator feasting on a dead deer by the side of U.S. Highway 441 near Bev's Better Burgers.

“This thing has gone viral,” said Sheppard. “We have had a lot more hits and comments than ever before since we uploaded the videos and photos of the incident,” said Sheppard. “It has also been picked up by WJXT Channel 4 in Jacksonville.”

The incident occurred Monday when a juvenile alligator meandered over to the dead animal along the highway. Cars stopped as the alligator crossed the road.

With assistance from the Florida Wildlife Commission, HSPD officers were able to safely capture the loose alligator as it was becoming a hazard. The gator was moved and relocated to a safe area away from the public.

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Q - High Springs Womans Club Award Spc To

Photo special to Alachua County Today


Carole Tate, President of the GFWC High Springs New Century Woman’s Club, accepted the GFWC Florida 2015 Club of the Year award on behalf of her club members.


HIGH SPRINGS – The 84-member GFWC High Springs New Century Woman’s Club received recognition for their club's efforts during the GFWC Florida Federation of Women's Clubs 121st Annual Convention on May 20. The state organization has more than 400 clubs in Florida and singled out the High Springs club as GFWC Florida 2015 Club of the Year.

At the same convention, held at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando, the GFWC New Century Woman's Club also received recognition in several areas within Category 4, which is the second largest category.

They received first place for Legislation and Public Policy, Membership and for their informative Newsletter. The group took second place in the areas of Communications and Public Relations, Conservation, Domestic Violence Awareness and Education and third place in the area of Presidents Projects for their Canine Companions project. In addition, the group received Honor Score for fundraising and other donations provided to the federation organization.

In the Arts and Crafts area, Katherine Rothgeb took first place for her mixed media entry, Debbie Wolnewitz took third place for her floral design and Karen Wheary received honorable mention for her portrait photo. Photos of these arts and crafts were featured in the April 7 edition of Alachua County Today Newspaper.

“Our group really works hard all year long and I am extremely pleased the state organization recognized our efforts,” said Carole Tate, President, GFWC New Century Woman's Club. “We have women in our organization who are dedicated to helping our community in several different areas. It is a delight to represent such a hard-working group of women,” said Tate.

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NEWBERRY – On May 23, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) presented commissioners with alternative suggestions to help move traffic through Newberry more efficiently.

Although their Project Development and Environmental (PD&E) study is not yet complete, FDOT presented alternatives as a way to obtain feedback from the City's public officials regarding the alternatives under consideration.

FDOT began the study in late 2014 and has since conducted three public meetings to obtain comments from Newberry's citizens. Those comments were taken under consideration in developing the alternatives.

An earlier PD&E study conducted in 2007 examined several alternative alignments for increasing the capacity of State Road 26. One alternative considered at that time was construction of a bypass around Newberry's downtown district. Another alternative was construction of one-way pairs (a split highway featuring two lanes of traffic moving one-way east and west through Newberry).

Due to lack of state funding, the earlier study was put on hold.

The bypass alternative suggested at that time is no longer viable due to the cost of land acquisition, approximately $150 million.

“At this time,” said Bryan Thomas, Newberry Planning Director, “the town has grown in such a way that some of those lands originally considered for a bypass are no longer available.”

FDOT said they want to preserve the historic district while improving mobility on State Road 26. The road is part of the evacuation plan for the west coast in case of emergency evacuation.

Some of the alternatives being considered include removal of on-street parking in downtown Newberry. Additional side street parking and acquisition of additional paved and signed parking areas could be one answer to the parking issue. One benefit of removing on-street parking is that it would make room for a third turn lane to be installed at intersections.

If the one-way pairs concept is chosen, it would begin at Northwest 264th Street, west of downtown Newberry, and end near the park & ride lot east of U.S. 41. State Road 26 (West Newberry Road) would become a one-way eastbound street, with two 12-ft. travel lanes, a bicycle lane on the south side of the street and on-street parking on the north side of the street. Northwest First Avenue would become a one-way westbound street, with two 11-ft. travel lanes and a bicycle lane on the north side of the street.

The proposed improvements could also include a roundabout at CR 337.

In discussing the alternatives, Thomas said, “There are some very good potential benefits and some potential downsides to all of the alternatives. The downsides can be mitigated with advanced planning.”

Commissioners were not asked to make a decision as to which plan was best for Newberry, but were asked to provide adequate feedback to FDOT to allow them to go back to the study and come back later with more detailed plans for consideration.

The limits of the PD&E study extend from the Gilchrist County line to County Road 26A, approximately four miles, and is being funded by FDOT.

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