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ALACHUA – There was a special staff at Alachua's Mi Apa Restaurant on Feb. 19. The mayor, city commission members and city employees had a new job for the day serving food to customers at the poplar eatery.

They weren't changing careers, instead they were doing it as a fund raiser for cancer research as part of the Annual Relay for Life.

Mi Apa restaurant sponsors the “Stick a Fork In Cancer” day annually and the city employees raised $1,311 in a single day. The City of Alachua staff is one of 19 volunteer teams that help raise funds in advance of the Relay for Life event, which will be held on April 3 at the Hal Brady Recreation Complex. Combined, the 19 teams have already raised $21,098 in advance of the event with 39 fundraising days still to go.

Relay For Life is the signature fundraiser cancer walk for the American Cancer Society. Relay is staffed and coordinated by volunteers in more than 5,200 communities and 20 countries who give their time and effort taking action against cancer by funding research.

Relay For Life is a team-based fundraising cancer walk event where team members take turns walking around a track or designated path. Each event is 6-24 hours in length and each team is asked to have a member on the track at all times to signify that cancer never sleeps. Cancer patients don't stop fighting because they're tired, and the walkers want to symbolize their fight. Each team sets up a themed campsite at the event and continues their fundraising efforts by collecting donations for food, goods, games, and activities. This money will count toward their overall team fundraising goal. Many of the volunteers are cancer survivors in remission, family caregivers or those who have lost loved ones and walk in remembrance. The goal is to continue to fund research to eradicate cancer and to remember those who have lost the battle against a form of cancer.

The American Cancer Society was founded in 1913 by 10 doctors and five laypeople in New York City. It was called the American Society for the Control of Cancer (ASCC). At that time, a cancer diagnosis meant near-certain death. Rarely mentioned in public, this disease was steeped in fear and denial. Doctors sometimes did not tell their patients they had cancer, and patients often did not tell their friends and families that they had been diagnosed with it. The Society’s founders knew they had to raise public awareness about cancer if progress was to be made against this disease. The society started by writing articles for popular magazines and professional journals; publishing a monthly bulletin of cancer information and recruiting doctors throughout the country to help educate the public.

In 1945, the ASCC was reorganized as the American Cancer Society. Philanthropist Mary Lasker and her colleagues helped to raise more than $4 million for the Society in 1946 – $1 million of which was used to establish and fund the Society’s groundbreaking research program. They also helped establish the link between cancer and smoking; demonstrated the effectiveness of the Pap test; developed cancer-fighting drugs; dramatically increased the cure rate for childhood leukemia and promoted the use of mammography to identify breast cancer. Since 1946, the American Cancer Society has invested more than $4.9 billion in research. The Society was instrumental in the development of the Surgeon General’s report on the link between smoking and cancer and pushed for the passage of the National Cancer Act in 1971.

The Relay for Life event began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, wanted to raise awareness of cancer and boost the income of his local cancer charity. He spent 24 hours circulating a track in Tacoma, Washington, and raised over $27,000. This event showed that one person really can make a difference. Since then, Relay For Life has become the largest fundraising event for cancer in the world. Celebrated by more than 4 million people in over 20 countries, this overnight event empowers and unites local communities to fight cancer.

In Alachua there is a series of events and fundraisers leading up to the actual walk. Besides each team separately finding ways to raise money and awareness, there is a Survivor Dinner on April 1 to honor the survivors who have battled cancer and their caregivers. Then, on the evening of April 3, volunteer teams and other community members will gather at the Hal Brady Recreation Complex. Each team, along with other organizations, including student groups from Santa Fe High School, will have a tent or area set up to help continue to raise money. Some will sell food or craft items, others will hold raffles or sponsor activities such as petting zoos or bike races. Each year there is also a dunking booth where local personalities and leaders will give people a chance to dump them in the water tank, with a donation for each try.

But the main focus is the walkers and survivors. At the end of the event, luminaries are lit around the walking path in memory of those who lost their battle. The goal of the Society and the Relay is to try and make sure that these lives were not lost in vain and that one day cancer will be eradicated.

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PALATKA — With the change of the seasons, the St. Johns River Water Management District’s year-long #WaterLess campaign has shifted to focus on springtime watering needs and a timely reminder to give your sprinkler system a checkup.

“As spring approaches, the Water Less campaign emphasizes taking control of your sprinkler system to make it work for you while also saving water,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “When the clocks change to daylight saving time on March 8, it’s an ideal reminder to inspect your automatic sprinkler system and timer.”

More than half of all residential water is used outdoors for lawn and landscape irrigation. The year-long Water Less campaign focuses on water-conserving strategies to help curb outdoor water waste while allowing for beautiful, vibrant landscapes.

If you do water your lawn and landscape, you can reduce the amount of water you use by with a well-designed irrigation system and regular maintenance. To make sure you don’t just set it and forget it, the district offers a few easy tips:

  • Check timing devices regularly to make sure they are operating properly.
  • Ensure your system is set to follow watering restrictions, if you need to water at all.
  • Florida law requires that all automatic irrigation systems installed after May 1991 have a functioning rain sensor shut-off switch, which senses when a preset amount of rain has fallen.
  • Install the most water efficient spray heads designed for different uses (turf areas, planting beds, etc.).
  • Fix any broken or misdirected sprinkler heads.
  • Check that water is only spraying on the landscape. 
  • Look for leaks and clogs.

Visit WaterLessFlorida.com for more outdoor water saving ideas. Join the conversation on social media: #WaterLess #waterconservation #sjrwmd #watermanagement.

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The Humane Society of the United States assists the Dixie County Sheriff’s Office with a large-scale alleged severe neglect case of approximately 140 dogs on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, near Old Town, Fla. (Photo by Meredith Lee/The HSUS)

Feb. 25, 2019 -- The Humane Society of the United States is assisting the Dixie County Sheriff’s Office in rescuing approximately 140 dogs in a large-scale alleged severe neglect situation on a residential property in Dixie County, Florida.

Local authorities served a search and seizure warrant on a five-acre property consisting of multiple structures including a dilapidated mobile home and several campers at approximately 8 a.m. The dogs appeared to suffer from a lack of basic care and were living in filthy, poor conditions typically seen in severe neglect situations. The animals were primarily found living outside, contained in hutches which were caked in feces and leaking in the rain, some with no apparent access to food and water. The majority of the dogs were suffering from skin conditions characterized by missing fur, sores and itchy skin.

The Humane Society of the United States is transporting the rescued animals to an undisclosed shelter location where they will continue to receive veterinary exams. RedRover responders will be assisting in the caretaking of the animals at the shelter location.

“This is a tragic scene-- it is intensely sad to see these dogs suffering in obvious misery and pain,” said Laura Koivula, deputy manager of animal crimes for the Humane Society of the United States. “We are thankful to all of the agencies involved today for working through the rain to get these dogs desperately-needed help.”

The assistance of the Humane Society of the United States was requested by the Dixie County Sheriff’s Office after concerns about the welfare of animals on the property were raised.

"In my nearly 20 years as sheriff, I have never seen conditions of this magnitude,” said Dewey Hatcher, Sheriff of Dixie County. “We appreciate the assistance from the Humane Society of the United States and everyone involved in getting these animals care today.”

All but three of the approximately 140 dogs rescued from the property were surrendered to the Humane Society of the United States. The three who were not surrendered will be expertly cared for along with the surrendered dogs as the court process decides their eventual custody.

A generous donation has been made by the Alex and Elisabeth Lewyt Charitable Trust to help support the expert care and supplies needed for the rescued animals. The Humane Society of the United States thanks our long-time partner, GreaterGood.org for donations of food for the dogs.

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ALACHUA COUNTY, FL - The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department, Florida State Parks, and The Friends of O'Leno will host the annual O'Leno Ole' Chili Cook-Off and Springs Celebration on Saturday, April 4, 2020, at O'Leno State Park (410 S.E. Oleno Park Road, High Springs). Event organizers are now recruiting chili competitors. Trophies and cash prizes will be awarded for a meat category, vegetarian category, and the People's choice award.
For contest details or to sign up, visit the Friends of O'Leno event page or email E.J. Bisch at info@friendsofoleno.org.
The event includes a chili cook-off, live music from the Weeds of Eden, a guided walk along the River Trail, children's activities, art vendors, and environmental exhibits. Chili tasting kits will be on sale for $5, and refreshments will be on sale throughout the day. All proceeds assist the Friends of O'Leno non-profit organization with their mission of supporting the park.

For more information, contact Alachua County Environmental Protection Department Senior Environmental Specialist Hollie Greer at 352-264-6827.

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Gainesville, Florida – One of the rising stars of contemporary dance, Cuba’s Malpaso Dance Company will stage two world premieres in a multicultural program of four dances at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21, 2020, in the Fine Arts Hall at the Northwest Campus of Santa Fe College, 3000 NW 83 Street, Gainesville. Premiering are “Duo de la Escoba – Revisited (Broom Duet),” choreographed by Daileidys Carrazana after Alberto Alonso’s “El Solar,” and “woman with water,” a revisiting of “Wet Woman”—originally performed by the world-famous ballerina Sylvie Guillem—with choreography by Mats Ek.

Tickets are $15 for adults; $9 for University of Florida students with a UF identification card, seniors over 60, and children 12 and under; $5 for Santa Fe College students with a valid SF ID card; and free for SF faculty, staff and retirees with a valid SF ID. For information or tickets, call 352-395-4181 or visit sfcollege.edu/finearts.

“Malpaso is a contemporary company that collaborates with the world’s top choreographers and they are bringing to Gainesville the kind of global show that you don’t see very often,” explained SF Fine Arts Department Chair Alora Haynes. “Dances by American, Cuban, Israeli and Swiss choreographers are on the program. The renowned Swiss choreographer Mats Ek is coming out of retirement to be here for a week to create a new version of one of his world-famous works, ‘Wet Woman,’ one of his masterpieces. He’ll be spending time with our students, plus invited students from the University of Florida and Florida State University, while he’s here.”

In addition to collaborating with internationally known choreographers, Malpaso is actively committed to nurturing new Cuban choreographers. With a growing reputation and an increasing international profile, Malpaso tours with 11 dancers and is an Associate Company of Joyce Theater Productions.

“The Spanish word ‘malpaso’ means ‘misstep’ and refers to what some people in the dance world think of people who are trained in classical ballet who then choose to move into contemporary dance,” Haynes explained. “That choice isn’t a misstep, though, because classical ballet training enables your body to do anything and that brings a whole new dimension of movement to contemporary dance.” Dancers in the Malpaso troupe chose that “misstep” when they broke away from the National Ballet of Cuba to perform contemporary dance.

The directors of Malpaso are Osnel Delgado, Fernando Sáez and Daileidys Carrazana. Before founding Malpaso in 2012, Delgado danced with Danza Contemporanea de Cuba. He graduated from the National Dance School of Havana, where he is now a professor of dance studies. Sáez graduated from the School of Performing Arts at the Superior Institute of Arts (ISA) in Havana and is also a founder and actor of Estudio Teatral de Santa Clara. Carrazana graduated from the National Ballet School in Havana and, like Delgado, danced with Danza Contemporanea de Cuba before founding Malpaso. Delgado and Carrazana also dance with Malpaso.

Press reports about Malpaso are full of generous praise. Laura Bleiberg of the Los Angeles Times described a performance by Malpaso as “…a pinch-me moment, one of those times when you catch an artistic dawning...Malpaso’s dancers were exceptional." Adrienne Totino of the Pittsburgh Examiner wrote, “Malpaso’s aim is to bring ‘Cuban contemporary dance into the 21st century.’ Clearly, they have already arrived.”

“Malpaso’s directors credit the Cuban choreographer Alberto Alonso, who taught at SF for many years, with creating an opening in the dance world for new choreography—an opening that enabled them to form their company,” Haynes said. The revisited version of “Broom Duet” that Malpaso will premiere pays tribute to Alonso and his wife, Sonia Calero-Alonso, who originally performed that piece about daily life in Cuba in Alberto’s dance “El Solar.”

In addition to the premieres of “Broom Duet” and “woman with water,” the other dances on the program are “Elemental,” choreographed by Robyn Mineko Williams of the USA, and “Tabula Rasa,” choreographed by Ohad Naharin of Israel. “‘Tabula Rasa’ is a 30-year-old piece that’s spellbinding!” Haynes exclaimed.

“In a time when so many people are divided, it’s important to realize what we can do when we work together,” Haynes concluded. “I cannot think of a better experience for a young dance student than to be deeply immersed in an effort like this. And I can’t think of anything more inspiring for our community than to see the results of these multicultural collaborations.”

The performance of Malpaso Dance Company is sponsored in part by Joyce Theater Productions; by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; and by the Santa Fe College Fine Arts Department.

For more information about Malpaso, see malpasodance.com or call Alora Haynes at 352-395-5296.

For more information about tickets, call the Santa Fe College Fine Arts Hall Box Office at 352-395-4181.

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ALACHUA COUNTY - The Florida Department of Health in Alachua County (DOH-Alachua) is informing residents that it is imperative for any individuals who believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) to contact the Alachua County Health Department at 352-225-4181 during regular business hours or at 352-334-7900 after hours, before traveling to any physician's office, emergency department, hospital, or urgent care center. This is to ensure proper protective measures are taken to prevent further risk of spread to others.

Learn more about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) from the Florida Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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NEWBERRY – Newberry’s citizens will soon go to the polls to consider the future of the City, how it will be run and by whom. The election of candidates to fill three Newberry City Commission seats is part of what they need to decide on April 14 as they file into the voting booths.

In addition to filling commission seats, changes to the City’s Charter and lengthening the terms for the mayor and commissioners are also on this year’s election slate.

The Group One and Group Three seats are currently occupied by Rick Coleman and Monty Farnsworth, respectively.

The Group Two seat was recently filled by Rocky McKinley upon the departure of Matt Hersom, who relocated out of the area.

The candidate qualifying period begins at noon on Monday, March 2, and ends at noon on Thursday, March 12. According to the election proclamation, “Candidates for the municipal election shall qualify for office with City Clerk Judy Rice at City Hall, located at 25440 West Newberry Road, Newberry; Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on Monday, March 2nd when qualifying begins at noon and Thursday, March 12 when qualifying ends at noon.”

The state required election assessment fee of one percent of the annual salary of the position sought is $108 and will be required as part of qualifying. Newberry City Commissioners receive an annual salary of $10,966, paid biweekly at $4228.

In addition, the City’s proclamation also details the voting precinct location, opening and closing times for the polls and a list of the clerks, deputy and inspectors of the election.

Following a year of review of the existing City Charter by a Charter Review Committee and workshops with Commissioners, proposed changes have been recommended to modify and simplify the Charter.

The first issue voters will consider on the April ballot is whether to replace the existing Charter with the newly-proposed 2019 Charter.

The second issue for voter consideration is whether election term lengths should be increased to three years commencing in 2021.

A copy of the proposed changes to the Charter can be viewed at Newberry City Hall.

A complete 2020 Newberry City Election Calendar was included with the proclamation and may be obtained from Clerk Rice.

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