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HIGH SPRINGS — City of High Springs Police officers and City Recreation Department personnel surprised several children Saturday morning, Dec.21, as they drove through town blaring Christmas music from police cruisers. Surprising children was their goal as they were delivering gifts to several households as part of “Operation Holiday Cheer.”

High Springs Police cruisers with lights flashing and a High Springs Recreation Department truck towing a trailer laden with gifts wove through town as the gift-bearing visitors waved and called “Merry Christmas” to everyone they passed as they traveled to each home.

Children still in their pajamas, a few of whom were still groggy from sleep, received deliveries of large bags of presents. Children tore open colorfully-wrapped gifts as fast as they could to find clothes, shoes, stuffed unicorns, a hoverboard, skateboards, bicycles, hot wheels and more. Police officers helped keep things tidy as they gathered shredded wrapping paper, which the kids had strewn around their yards as they tore into their gift bags.

The joy on the children’s faces made the entire event worthwhile said Recreation Director Damon Messina, who rode shotgun as Dave Sutton drove the Recreation Department truck.

In addition to the participation of the police officers and City personnel, Police Chief Antoine Sheppard’s son, Noah, and Officer Treese’s son, Camden, also rode along to help.

This event was months in the making by Angela Robertson, Administrative Assistant to Police Chief Antoine Sheppard. Robertson communicated with parents and business owners in the area to make sure the appropriate gift items would be provided to each child. In one case, her quick thinking saved the day as a cousin of the children she had provided gifts for showed up unexpectedly. “We just couldn’t give a gift to the others without including the extra child as well,” she said. She grabbed a gift in the trailer and gave it to that child to make sure he wouldn’t feel left out.

She is reluctant to take credit for her efforts preferring instead to talk about the church group who helped wrap each of the gifts and the employees who donated the gift, which they had received from the City (a turkey or ham,) to help out families with limited food resources.

In addition to gifts for the children, each family received an envelope from the City that contained gift cards from Walmart and Winn Dixie and another for a pizza night out from Hungry Howie’s Pizza.

One of the officers involved in the gift distribution was High Springs Community School Resource Officer J.T. Taylor, who likely was the person who helped determine which families were most in need this Christmas. All of the children and parents were familiar with him and with Chief Sheppard. Although some of the other officers were less familiar to the children, each child thanked them one by one for the gifts, and in many cases, the officers were rewarded with hugs as part of the children’s appreciation.

Quietly, and in the privacy of his vehicle, Officer Taylor talked with Robertson saying that he had observed that a sibling of one of the children who had received a significant gift item did not have one of their own, either. Although Robertson thought there might be $20 left in the gift fund, Taylor said he would buy one more item for that child out of his own money and would return later in the day to deliver it.

Although Taylor may not have wanted others to know of his observation and decision, it is symbolic of who he is and how much he cares about the children he sees at school every day.

Other officers and staff at the High Springs Police Department involved in the gift giveaway were Suzy Mowery, Officer Williams and Sgt. Hampton.

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ALACHUA – On Saturday afternoon, the Santa Fe Lady Raiders volleyball team defeated Bishop Kenny High School, in a Class 6-A Final Four showdown. The Lady Raiders swept Bishop Kenny in three sets (25-20, 25-19, 25-17).

The Lady Raiders advanced to the State Championship for the first time since 1976 and the first time any Santa Fe team has advanced to any state championship game since 1994 when the Raider football team won their second State Championship.

With the win over Bishop Kenny, the Lady Raiders earned a berth in the Class 6A State Title match this coming Saturday, Nov. 17.

First year Head Coach Eric Marshall (an alum of Santa Fe High School himself) said that, historically, Bishop Kenny’s team of exceptional players has been nearly impossible to beat, so this victory was especially exciting and encouraging.

Santa Fe High School Athletics Director Michele Faulk stressed that the win was the result of a true team effort, not a one-person show.

“Our girls were so well balanced it threw them off guard. This year we don’t have one standout player, we have a whole team of standout players. It keeps opposing teams on their toes.” Faulk also noted how proud she is of them, saying, “Not only are they exceptional volleyball players, but they are exceptional girls as well.”

The girls on the team range from freshmen to seniors, and according to Marshall, when volleyball is concerned, they are very superstitious. He says they plan to prepare for the State Championship by maintaining their exact routine and regimen, down to making sure they start practice at the exact same time. He said, “I encourage them to do that, because it not only makes them comfortable, but it makes them more confident when game time comes.”

The Santa Fe Raiders will play in the State Championship game this Saturday, Nov. 17 at 4 p.m. in Fort Myers, Florida against Merritt Island.
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TALLAHASSEE. – Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam today announced that there are currently 33 active wildfires in Florida burning 33,605 acres.

Significant Wildfires in Florida:

Greenway, Collier County: 17,957 and 95 percent contained.

Firebreak, Gulf County: 8,080 acres and 90 percent contained.

Old Blade Line, Polk County: 450 acres and 60 percent contained.

Mud Dauber Road, Polk County: 139 acres and 100 percent contained.

The Florida Forest Service is urging residents to be cautious with fire and heat sources and to remember the following:

Develop and implement a family wildfire action plan;

Call 911 or a local Florida Forest Service field unit office immediately in the event of a wildfire;

Obey Florida’s outdoor burning laws;

Never burn on windy days;

Always keep a water source and suppression tools on hand when burning yard debris;

Never leave an outdoor fire or hot grill unattended; and

Avoid parking vehicles on dry grass.

The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at FloridaForestService.com.

For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.

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ALACHUA – The Turkey Creek Golf Course restoration is moving forward. The course has been aerated and calcium has been applied to stimulate root growth. In addition, the recent showers are helping.

The next large project is to get the sprinkler system operational again. Currently there is an initiative to replace all 362 sprinkler heads at a cost of $300 per sprinkler. The cost includes installation, wiring, and the electronic computer boards. If anyone is interested in a sprinkler sponsorship they are available.

Also, the Turkey Creek Golf LLC has decided to sell partial shares. As little as one-tenth a share ($500) can be purchased. Some restrictions may apply, but dividends will be paid.

It is anticipated that in the middle of May 2018 the former Mulligans will be reopened as the “Chef Brothers at the 19th Hole” restaurant.

Last, but not least, there are a variety of advertising and promotional opportunities available from the Leaderboard to the tee markers. All reasonably priced and sure to be seen by a great many people as they play our course.

For more information please call 386-518-6815 or stop by the office located at the entrance of the subdivision.

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TRENTON – Trenton’s Suwannee Valley Quilt Festival greeted visitors with a beautiful Florida spring day and with fun and good spirits fostered by celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

In downtown historic Trenton, thousands crowded north Main Street and the charming old railroad depot. Seventy-two craft, six antique and 13 food vendors displayed wares and offered fare, and 17 participating quilt groups sold quilts, quilting materials and supplies, and demonstrated quilting techniques.

Inside the Florida Quilt Museum, a visitor could enjoy meeting renowned quilting author Mary C. Kerr and master doll maker Charlie Patricolo, peruse antique quilts offered from Marie Miller’s collection, see feed sack materials displayed by Cecilia Reed, and enjoy expert quilt turning lectures by collectors Kathy Cray and Teddy Pruitt.

“We had a wonderful turnout, and I think our vendors had a good day, said Crafter Coordinator Pat Watson. “We had many vendors return who have been with us several years now, but we added 25 new vendors so that gave us a mix of the familiar and of new offerings to enjoy and explore. We are always pleased to hear from vendors that tell us that they view us as their favorite festival.”

Festival founder and Quilt Coordinator Stephanie Metts added, “We explored some new things this year, like Hawaiian quilting by Elaine Nemeth and the Japanese craft of Kimekomi by Bettie Rowe. We continue to have many quilt groups who support us every year from around our area. We are grateful for their participation.” Stephanie noted, “This year not only did the festival coincide with St. Patrick’s Day, it was held on National Quilt Day as well.”

Dan Sierra, Director of Merchandising for Best Drugs of Trenton, was delighted with their experience as featured sponsor this year. “We met people visiting from as far away as Wisconsin and enjoyed chatting with longtime customers. Our pharmacy experienced record breaking gift sales and the Life South Mobile Blood Collection unit in our parking lot exceeded their goal by more than 20 percent. All around it was a fabulous day for us,” said Sierra.

Festival visitor Stacy Clifton said, “It was great! The creative craft ideas were exciting. My friend, Teresa, bought some beautiful fabric from the quilt shop, and my daughter, Megann, thought the selection of food vendors was terrific.”

Food offerings included made-on-the-spot brick oven pizza, fresh off the grill barbecue, and deep fried seafood. Many others offered meals and baked goods, while the Suwannee Rose Cafe featured a back room Irish Pub experience.

The 2018 festival was sponsored by the City of Trenton, Gilchrist County’s Tourist Development Council, Ameris Bank, Best Drugs, Capital City Bank, Drummond Community Bank, Gray Construction, McDonald’s-Trenton, Trenton Animal Hospital, Trenton Hardware & Farm Supply, Trenton Wine & Spirits, Tri County Metals and the Suwannee Valley Quilt Shoppe.

Looking ahead, the 13th annual Trenton’s Suwannee Valley Quilt Festival will be held Saturday, March 16, 2019, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information about the festival, visit the festival website, www.TrentonQuiltFestival.com, or contact the Suwannee Valley Quilt Shoppe at 352-463-3842.

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HIGH SPRINGS – Spring is a great time to enjoy North Florida’s springs. From Wednesday, April 11 through Sunday, April 15, 25 local and out of town emerging and professional artists will be painting the springs of the Santa Fe River as part of the 2018 Santa Fe Springs Plein Air Paintout.

The schedule for painting includes details on Public Viewing Days. Artists will paint during normal operating hours at each location.

Wednesday Apr. 11 – Artists Painting Days

Various Springs locations - Artists Choice

Thursday April 12 – Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park, 7450 NE 60th St, High Springs, FL 32643

Painting - Public Viewing Day (State Park fees, $4 per person or $6 per car.) Artists will be painting throughout the park.

Friday April 13 – Ginnie Springs, 7300 Ginnie Springs Rd, High Springs, FL 32643

Painting - Public Viewing Day ($12 Entrance Fee) Artists will be painting throughout the park.

Saturday April 14 – Artists Painting Days

Various Springs locations - Artists Choice

Sunday April 15 – Downtown High Springs

Painting - Public Viewing Day - Artists will be painting throughout downtown High Springs followed by a Special Art Preview Pop Up Show at Great Outdoors’ Opera House

Exhibit Schedule

Once completed, the paintings will be available for viewing and purchasing at three art receptions and during two exhibits through July 30th:

Saturday, April 14 – The Great Outdoors Restaurant, Opera House, 65 North Main Street, High Springs, FL 32643

Special Art First Preview Pop Up Show 5 - 8 pm.

Sunday, April 15 – Lanza Gallery & Art Supplies, 23645 W US Hwy 27, High Springs, FL 32643

Opening Art Reception, 5pm - 7pm

Paintings for exhibit and sale April 15 thru June 20

Saturday, June 23 – Rum 138 Springs Gallery, 2070 SW CR 138, Fort White, FL 32068

Art Reception 6pm - 8pm

Paintings for exhibit and sale June 23 thru July 30.

The Santa Fe Springs Plein Air Paintout is sponsored by Lanza Gallery & Art Supplies. Maps and information are available during the event at Lanza Gallery & Art Supplies, 23645 W US Hwy 27, downtown High Springs. Hours are Tuesday – Thursday and Saturday from 11am to 5pm and Friday open 12 Noon - 6pm.

For more information, visit www.lanzagallery.com or call Lanza Gallery & Art Supplies at 352-474-9922.

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GAINESVILLE – As part of its commitment to assist motorists traveling on Florida roadways, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) this week expanded its Road Ranger program into the Gainesville area.

The Road Ranger program provides free highway support services during incidents to reduce delay and improve safety for motorists. Since the program’s inception in 2000, the Road Rangers have made more than 4.3 million service assists, with more occurring daily. Road Rangers provide services to motorists by quickly clearing travel lanes of minor incidents and assisting motorists, which include providing a limited amount of fuel, assisting with tire changes, and other types of minor emergency repairs.

The service has existed for many years in the Jacksonville area.

The expansion onto Interstate 75 in Gainesville began Monday and service hours are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The patrol area currently includes I-75 between Micanopy and Alachua and includes one Road Ranger unit. A second unit is expected to be added in the coming weeks.

Motorists can request Road Ranger service by dialing *347 (FHP).

FDOT expects to expand the Road Ranger program before the end of the year to include all of Interstate 75 between Gainesville and the Florida/Georgia line, as well as Interstate 10 between Jacksonville and Madison.

FDOT also has plans to expand its RISC (Rapid Incident Scene Clearance) Lite units in the coming months on Interstate 75 in Gainesville. These units are used primarily to remove passenger vehicles involved in crashes

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