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W_-_Mebane_Teacher_Tour_10-26-2012_2_copyJamie Krames, reading and language arts teacher/8th grade team leader; Heather Bates, school counselor; Heidi Kling, 6th/7th grade math teacher; Melissa Armstrong, reading and language arts teacher/6th grade team leader; Lisa Bailey, media specialist; Chief Joel DeCoursey; Damon Messina; Manda Bessner, Mebane

ALACHUA – Several Mebane Middle School teachers and the school’s principal and assistant principal recently took a tour of the city of Alachua to become acquainted with the community.  Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper, Police Chief Joel DeCoursey and City of Alachua Recreation Assistant Damon Messina escorted the group throughout the town, passing through Alachua’s residential neighborhoods, businesses district, and the Progress Corporate Park area as well as the sites of other schools located within the city limits

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Alachua woman pens book of dreams and visions

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ALACHUA – For Linda Walker, it all started with a dream.

In 1995, the Alachua resident decided to keep a dream journal to record dreams and visions she believes are from God.

“I didn’t write every dream down, but as many as I could remember I did write down,” she said.

Fifteen years later, she’s recorded hundreds of dreams, visions in prayers in a book entitled “My Journey.” She said she received a revelation from God about a year ago to write the book.

“I just started typing it, and it took me about a year,” she said. “I never in a million years dreamed I would write a book. He’s the one who has given it to me.”

She said the book includes a lot of details about her life, but she said she thinks anyone who reads it will be able to relate.

“Even though it’s about my life, I wrote it in a way...that I feel will be a help for people,” she said.

Walker said she knows people may be skeptical of supernatural encounters, but she said she knows her experiences are legitimate.

“I knew when it was the Lord,” she said. “I also knew if I didn’t get up and write it down, I usually would forget it.”

Walker said she hopes her book helps readers in their spiritual walks.

“I don’t know what people are going to say. I don’t know what people are going to think,” she said. “It’s not for me. It’s really for other people to be encouraged.”

She said she wants every reader to realize God cares about every aspect of their lives.

“Maybe people wonder, ‘Can God speak to me through dreams and visions?’” she said. “God is speaking. Are you listening?”

Walker will be hosting book signings throughout November and December. And she welcomes anyone who is curious about her book to come to a signing.  On Nov. 10, from 1 – 4 p.m., she will be at Books-A-Million in Ocala.  A bit closer to home, on Nov. 16, she will be at Garden Gallery in downtown Alachua from 6 – 9 p.m., which coincides with the Alachua Chamber of Commerce Shop, Dine and Stroll activities along Main Street.  She will be having another book signing at the Garden Gallery on Dec. 7, and on Dec. 15 from 11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. she will be at Hitchcock’s Market in Alachua.

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ALACHUA – What is considered to be an eyesore by many may soon be replaced with a Zaxby’s restaurant.  City of Alachua officials have confirmed that staff met with Brooks Haisten, a Zaxby’s franchisee, to discuss the property commonly referred to as the “Huddle House.” The site is the location of a former Huddle House restaurant and fronts U.S. Highway 441 at the Interstate 75 interchange in Alachua.  City staff reportedly recently met in a “preplanning” conference with Haisten.

Haisten owns Chicken Foot Development, Inc., a Florida Corporation, which also owns a Zaxby’s in Lake City, Fla. and additional locations in Tallahassee, Fla.

Haisten said he can’t say Zaxby’s will definitely open in Alachua, but he did say he has shown interest in the property.

I’m very interested,” he said. “It would benefit me.”

He said he will submit plans to the City of Alachua by the end of November.

As of Oct. 31, the property remained under the ownership of Sally Franklin, who had a long-term lease agreement with the Huddle House.

Through her representatives, Franklin has been trying to sell the property for several years although the property had been leased.  The Huddle House, which closed its doors more than a decade ago, has unsuccessfully attempted to sublet the site on a number of occasions.  Franklin’s lease agreement with the Huddle House expired May 2010.

City of Alachua officials and others have considered the Huddle House property to be an eyesore for a variety of reasons.  Chief among those is the state of disrepair in which the site has been kept.  There was also vocal opposition to an adult novelty store, Adult World, which briefly opened in the building, but was shut down in 2004.

Neighboring hoteliers have decried the appearance of the property saying that it harmed their businesses as travelers often avoid their lodging establishments upon seeing the vacant site.  At the time, the property was reportedly being used as shelter by several homeless people and as a tractor-trailer parking area.

In 2008, the City of Alachua enforced several code violations against the property, urging that the owner take responsibility to clean up the site, keep the doors secured and grass mowed.  That prompted the owner to take some action, including blocking the parking lot entrances to prevent truck parking and loitering.

Franklin would not comment on Wednesday, Oct. 31 as to a possible sale of the property.

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Email astewart@alachuatoday.com

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ALACHUA – Alachua will celebrate its 10th annual Harvest Festival on Sunday, Nov. 11, as Main Street comes alive with a multitude of things to see, do and eat.  From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., vendors, children's activities and entertainment will top the ticket.

The annual event is sponsored by the Alachua Business League with support from the City of Alachua and local businesses.  With sunny skies and the high forecast to reach nearly 80 degrees, the weather is cooperating fully with festival planners, participants and visitors.

If this year’s event is anything like in years past, a large crowd can be expected to mingle up and down Main Street, stopping to peruse vendors’ wares of jewelry, art, doggie treats, ornaments and all variety of arts and crafts.

And when festival goers look for food or drink, they won’t have to go far as there will be a good supply of beverages, treats and food.

A number of local not-for-profit groups will be offering specialized services and raising funds for their organizations.  The Alachua Business League has been working with area groups to honor U.S. military veterans at the festival, which falls on Veteran’s Day this year.

Alachua’s Cub Scout Pack 88, which is sponsored by the Alachua Lions Club, will be hosting veterans at the "Veteran's Tent" located near the south stage on Main Street.  And in support of the Alachua County Military Support Group’s mission to send care packages to soldiers serving overseas, items such as toiletries, magazines, candy, hair ties, Wet Wipes, beef jerky, Kleenex, Band Aids, and old cell phones as well as monetary donations will be collected.

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HIGH SPRINGS – The High Springs City Commission ranked Edwin Booth as their top city manager candidate and agreed to offer him the position, contingent on an acceptable background check, during the regular commission meeting held on Thursday, Oct. 25.

While Scott Lippman was chosen by all five commissioners, Booth was the only one to be ranked number one by the majority of the commission.

All five candidates interviewed during the Monday, Oct. 22 meeting scored well. But Lippman’s inability to relocate to High Springs was concerning to Mayor Dean Davis and Commissioner Sue Weller, who said they ranked him lower for that reason.  Booth, who presently lives in South Carolina, indicated his willingness to relocate to the area if he selected by the commission.

Following the ranking, Commissioner Weller moved and Vice-Mayor Bob Barnas seconded a motion to offer Booth the position as part of the next step in the hiring process; once again stressing the offer would be contingent on an acceptable background check.

Following discussion about the method and cost of conducting the background check, the commission directed City Attorney Scott Walker to have his firm vet the candidate.  Negotiating a salary agreement was discussed, but was not assigned.

Contingent upon successful negotiations, it is anticipated that Walker will draw up a detailed agreement stipulating the terms and length of the contract for both parties to approve.

As reported in the Oct. 25 edition of Alachua County Today, Booth holds a BS in Management from Columbia College, a MA in Public Administration from Webster University, a MS in Military Science from Command & General Staff College.  He is a retired U.S. Army Colonel with more than 20 years experience in all phases of utility management, police, fire and rescue experience, budget planning and preparation, master planning, economic development and staff management.  He also has had extensive experience in zoning and planning issues and served on the Board of the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council for three years.

More recently, Booth has been the Town Administrator for Surfside Beach, SC.  Previously he served as the Town Administrator for Malabar, Fla., the City Manager in Ayden, NC, Commander, Dugway Proving Ground, UT, with 1,200 housing units under military control, City Manager, West Point, NE and Community Manager Fulda Military Community, with 1,800 housing units under military control.

Email Cwalker@

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W_-_Car_Show_DSC_0052Dustin and Elizabeth Simmons of High Springs, joined by sons Logan, 5, and Lucas, 2, checked out the cars on display at the car show on Saturday.

HIGH SPRINGS – The 20th Annual High Spring Rotary Car Show held Oct. 27 in the historic downtown area along the railroad tracks was a major hit.

Saturday’s balmy weather of breezes and a lightly overcast sky was the perfect setting for the much anticipated event.  The day of family fun started with a donation-based breakfast provided by the Rotary Club and continued with a ticket drawing and good food all day long, said Rotary Club president Heather N. Clarich.

Over 100 vintage, muscle and sports cars were on display. The specialty award Best Auto Paint went to Jim Hopkins and his 1971 Chevrolet Nova, and Best Custom went to Bonnie Moran with Drop Top Customs and her 2010 Dodge Challenger. Best of Show for Stock went to Don McCullen with his 1961 Bentley S5. Best of Show Modified went to Greg Murray and his 1932 Ford 3-Door Coupe. Best of Show Cycle went to Robin Hendrickson and her 2009 Yamaha V-Star 1300 Stock Metric. Many other awards were given, including to the top 25 picks by those who registered in the show.

Almost $200 was given away for the 50/50 ticket drawing, which splits the dollars raised between the ticket holder and the Club. Proceeds from ticket sales, registration fees, shirt sales and food sales benefited, among other programs, the Rotary Club Dictionary Project that aims to provide every third-grader in the district with dictionaries.

“It was a great year for funds raised, and we’re looking forward to putting those monies right back into our community!” Clarich said. “We’re looking forward to next year’s show!”

Clarich also said that thanks go out to the Rotary Member volunteers, advertisers and sponsors, including the Santa Fe High School Interact Club and High Springs Boy Scout Troop #69.

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cgrinstead@alachuatoday.com


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HIGH SPRINGS – In a 3-1 vote, the High Springs City Commission has approved placing advertisements for applicants to serve on the city’s Charter Review Board.  At the Oct. 25 commission meeting, Commissioner Sue Weller provided the dissenting vote.  Citing inconsistencies between the Charter and the City’s Procedures Manual, Mayor Dean Davis said a charter review was long overdue.  Commissioner Scott Jamison was previously excused from attending this meeting due to a family commitment.

Commissioner Linda Gestrin moved and Vice-Mayor Bob Barnas seconded a motion to request the city clerk advertise for committee members who wanted to serve and also post the item on the city’s website.

In answer to a question regarding the usual advertising period for committee or board appointments, City Clerk Jenny Parham said it was usually “two to three weeks.”

Commissioner Weller explained that since a new commissioner would be sworn in on Nov. 20, and noting the usual advertising time for most appointments, suggested the commission abide by the 2-3 week advertising period to make sure anyone interested had enough time to apply.

Commissioner Gestrin disagreed, saying the issue had been talked about all year and she thought the commission should not only advertise for a shorter time period, but also should appoint the committee at the Nov. 8 meeting.

Hearing from City Attorney Scott Walker that the commission was not bound by any regulation as to length of advertising period and could, in fact, appoint without advertising for applicants at all, commissioners voted to appoint applicants at the Nov. 8 meeting.

Interested parties must be electors of the city, holding no other office, appointment or employment in the city government, except on advisory bodies as described in Section 5.01 of the City Charter.

Applications may be obtained Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. at City Hall, 110 NW 1st Avenue, High Springs, or on the city’s website at www.highsprings.us.  Applications will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 7.  Members will be appointed by the City Commission at the Nov. 8 City Commission meeting.

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Email Cwalker@alachuatoday.com

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