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GAINESVILLE – Motorists traveling U.S. 441 through Paynes Prairie next week should expect a traffic shift as construction crews prepare to start a new phase of the road resurfacing project.

One lane of northbound traffic is scheduled to be shifted to the newly rebuilt northbound lanes on Monday, August 2, weather and unforeseen circumstances permitting. Currently, traffic is configured in a way that both directions of travel are on the southbound side of the roadway while the northbound lanes were being reconstructed and repaved.

By the end of the month, it is expected that both directions of travel will be moved to the newly paved northbound side of the roadway, which will allow crews to reconstruct the southbound side of the U.S. 441.

The $13.9 million project is expected to be completed in Spring 2022. The approximately 12-mile resurfacing project, which takes place between Southwest Williston Road (State Road 331) and the Marion County line, also includes the addition of guardrail through Paynes Prairie and additional signal and lighting upgrades at County Road 234 in Micanopy.

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GAINESVILLE – Members of the Gainesville-Alachua County Association of Realtors® (GACAR) gathered at Splitz Bowling Alley on Thursday, July 29, to enjoy a night of friendly competition to conclude weeks of fundraising for charity.

At the time of publication, GACAR has raised $18,065 to help St. Francis House and Arbor House update their playgrounds and facilities. “We are so appreciative and grateful that GACAR selected St. Francis House and Arbor House for their annual charity event this year,” said Lauri Schiffbauer, Executive Director of St. Francis House.

“Proceeds raised will go toward enhancing our existing playgrounds for the children in our programs. We cannot thank GACAR enough for helping us provide a fun and safe play area, where the children can be kids with no worries!”

St. Francis House and Arbor House provide homeless women and families with children the tools needed to obtain permanent, sustainable housing. Because of the support of the surrounding community, St. Francis House, Inc. was able to house 108 families and over 150 children in 2020. Patti Moser, 2021 GACAR President, was on hand to celebrate the association’s first in-person event since the pandemic. “I am incredibly proud of our members and business partners and how quickly and enthusiastically they have mobilized. It is an honor to work with and help St. Francis House and Arbor House continue their efforts to aid families in need of safe and stable housing.”

For more information on how GACAR supports local housing charities and affordable housing efforts, contact 2021 GACAR President Patti Moser at 352-538-1773 or president@gacar.com.

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GAINESVILLE — Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV) gathered today with dignitaries, community leaders, well-wishers and staff to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony for its 15,200 square foot, two-gate passenger terminal expansion and improvement project, less than two years after breaking ground.

The expanded terminal provides a variety of passenger amenities and services to accommodate increased passenger traffic and demand. New amenities include expanded restrooms, a second food and beverage area, mother’s lactation room, quiet/reflection room, an outdoor pet relief area, and connectivity features in every passenger chair.

In his opening comments to guests, GNV’s CEO Allan Penksa expressed gratitude to those who have “been instrumental in shaping the vision for this great community asset,” and paid homage to the local construction teams “working hard through all types of conditions” to realize the almost $16 million project that is part of the airport’s master plan.

“This project has been years in the making and is an important milestone in our continuing efforts to provide high quality air service and passenger facilities to our region,” Mr. Penksa said. “The fact that all involved were able to do this so well and uninterrupted despite the challenges of a worldwide pandemic is simply amazing.”

Gainesville Alachua County Regional Airport Authority (GACRAA) Chairwoman Grace Horvath said as the community comes out of the pandemic, passengers are truly responding to the airport’s enhanced service and GNV’s “Fly Easy” experience. “Beyond the capacity improvements and ability to support new service, this project provides an even more beautiful front door to our region, one we can all be proud of.”

The terminal expansion was paid for by a combination of state and federal grants, along with passenger facility charges, or PFCs collected by the airport’s carriers, Delta and American Airlines. The terminal expansion and boarding bridges are the second and third phases of terminal investment, with final phases including additional parking options, new outbound, baggage screening/ handling system and additional airline operations space to better accommodate existing and future carriers.

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ALACHUA COUNTY - Due to increased infection rates, the Alachua County COVID-19 Dashboard has returned with the latest COVID-19 infection and vaccination information. The link will be available on the home page of the Alachua County website and will be released weekly on social media. The source of the data is the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 Weekly Situation Reports. This report replaced the daily reports on June 11, 2021.

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NEWBERRY ‒ American Legion Post 149 conducted its elections of officers for the 60-member organization on July 1. American Legion Post 149 is located at 26821 West Newberry Road, Newberry. Election of Officers also took place the same evening for the Auxiliary Board members.

Installation of officers took place on July 6, with Elizabeth Chavous inducting the Auxiliary group and Vickie Van Buren inducting the American Legion officers. Officers of both groups will each serve one-year terms.

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GAINESVILLE — After a hiatus last year due to the pandemic, the Gainesville-Alachua County Association of Realtors® (GACAR) is proud to host its seventh annual charity bowling tournament at Splitz Bowling Alley today (July 29th) from 5:00pm to 8:00pm . This year’s tournament is benefitting St. Francis House and Arbor House, charities that focus on assisting homeless women and families with children on their journey to have stable and permanent housing. At the time of publication, GACAR has raised $15,700.00 to help repair and improve the playground facilities at both charitable organizations. Below is a tentative timeline for the event, please note we currently have the check presentation to St. Francis House scheduled for 7:00pm tonight.

5:00pm

·        Registration Open

·        Networking for Members

5:15pm

·        Practice Bowling

5:30pm

·        Welcome/Announcements

·        1st Game begins

7:00pm

·        Check Presentation

·        50/50 winner

8:00pm

·        Event conclusion

For more information on how GACAR supports local housing charities and affordable housing efforts, please contact 2021 GACAR President Patti Moser at (352) 538-1773 or president@gacar.com.

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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ The City of High Springs has opted not to purchase the Priest Theater. The Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Board had earlier asked staff to explore the possible purchase of the community landmark. City Manager Ashley Stathatos presented a report on the request on July 8 and reviewed the significance of the theater as an historic building, the costs involved in not only the purchase, but also required renovations and the appraisal value of the theater.

The building seats 240 people and has an appraised value in 2020 of $111,658. The market value according to the current appraisal is $325,000. Local architect Paul Stresing performed a condition assessment on the building and provided a list of recommended improvements.

Those improvements include Code Compliance Improvements, which he estimated could be up to $9,500 and Good Conscious Improvements which he estimated could be up to $271,750, excluding the bathroom building or up to $400,000 for the bathroom building. Additional recommended improvements include Advanced Improvements and Enhancements estimated at $94,200 and Future Improvements and Enhancements at a cost estimate of up to $165,000.

The total cost of improvements is $940,450. The total cost of the project if the CRA were to offer market value of $325,000 plus perform all the improvements is $1,265,450. Operating and maintenance cost would be the responsibility of the organization that operates and runs the theater.

Stathatos said that during the purchase contract period, the City could send out a request for proposals (RFP) to solicit proposals from organizations interested in a partnership. “A draft RFP has been written should the Commission decide to head in that direction,” she said. The CRA Board decided not to pursue the purchase of the theater at this time due to current pending projects. However, they said they want to continue to explore options to save this historic building. Should another organization purchase the building, Commissioners talked about possibly partnering with that organization to help in any way they can.

In other business, the CRA Board is considering an ad valorem tax exemption for historic properties within the CRA District. Stathatos will be drafting an ordinance for the CRA Board to review at their next meeting. Should the ordinance pass, an exemption from ad valorem taxes of up to 50 percent of the assessed value of a historic property can be granted.

To qualify for the proposed exemption, the property must meet other requirements in addition to being historic. The property must be used for commercial purposes or a not-for-profit organization and it must be open to the public. More details will be available when the ordinance is presented to the Board, and it was noted that the proposed exemption could possibly benefit the Priest Theater.

Stathatos was also asked to bring back specific information on a CRA business improvement program. The program would include façade improvements, tenant improvements and structural rehabilitation grants.

The Board decided that the CRA Residential Improvement Program would be limited to paint only with a 50/50 split between the property owner and the CRA.

The Board approved $8,000 for holiday decorations and banners, opting to rent rather than purchase. In addition to not having to store these items, the provider will do the installation and removal as well.

CRA Board members voted to allow the City’s Building Department to buy the old train depot, which they already have offices in, from the CRA. The CRA office will remain in the building and will pay rent to the City. This action puts more funds into the CRA, which can be used for other projects.

In upcoming business, on Aug. 5, the CRA Board will review the strategic plan developed over the past several weeks for the CRA District.

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