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ALACHUA COUNTY - The Alachua County Commission will conduct their Virtual Regular Meeting on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, at 11:30 a.m. The evening portion of this meeting is canceled. The Meeting includes a COVID-19 discussion, Charter Amendments, and other items.
The public may attend virtually through Cox Channel 12, Facebook, and the County's Video on Demand website. For meeting audio-only, call 301-715-8592, and when prompted, use code 670 965 3024.
 
The public may submit comments to the board through email (bocc@alachuacounty.us) or by calling into the public comment message line when prompted to call during the meeting. Public comment will be taken by telephone for all non-ministerial items on which the Commission votes.
 
Once public comment is opened for an item under discussion, please call 929-205-6099 (enter meeting code 273 174 8038). Callers will be put in a queue and prompted when it is their turn to speak. TO AVOID FEEDBACK, SPEAKERS MUST TURN DOWN THEIR MEETING SOUND WHEN ADDRESSING THE COMMISSION. Callers should state their name and limit comments to two minutes.
 
The Commission will allow up to a total of 30 minutes for citizen comments on each item opened for public comment. In addition, the Commission will open phone lines for one 30-minute public comment session for the public to discuss items not on the Commission agenda. The public is encouraged to submit any written or photographic documents prior to the meeting to bocc@alachuacounty.us.
 
The meeting agenda includes:
  • Discussion on COVID-19
  • Request Repayment of City of Gainesville Wild Spaces Public Places (WSPP) Funding for the S.W. 40th Project
  • Flint Rock Agrihood Preliminary Development Plan
  • Park Lane Phase 2A Preliminary Development Plan
  • Public Hearing on Proposed Charter Amendment Regarding County Land Use Planning for Rural Area
  • Public Hearing to Consider Whether to Place a Proposed Charter Amendment on the November Ballot Addressing the Identification and Mitigation of Racial, Economic, and Gender Bias in County Policies
Citizens are encouraged to stay engaged by signing up for the following: FacebookTwitterInstagram, and subscribe to the County's https://visitor.constantcontact.com/manage/optin/ea?v%3D001LBos8BrBhyq7a9DXsuW_2A%3D%3D&source=gmail&ust=1591634182369000&usg=AFQjCNF6JdaWTBg2-45p6pPDX5l__FlZAQ">Newsletter/Press Release
For more information, contact Alachua County Communications Director Mark Sexton at 352-264-6979 or msexton@alachuacounty.us.

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ALACHUA – Duke Energy Florida is in the process of completing a transmission upgrade project from Trenton to Newberry, Fla., along State Road 26 requiring temporary lane closures beginning Monday, June 8, which will continue for three to four months.

Because this roadway is heavily travelled during the day, the work will be performed at night between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. to reduce the impact to traffic.

This is a two-lane road. Only portions of one lane will be closed, with alternating lanes of traffic passing. There will be appropriate flag personnel, barricades and signs placed to direct traffic through the work zones during the lane closures. Drivers should expect delays and use alternate routes, if possible, while work is being performed between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6.a.m.

Adverse weather conditions and other unforeseen circumstances may impact the schedule.

The transmission upgrade project involves replacing approximately 75 wooden power poles with steel poles to improve reliability and meet the increasing demand for energy in this area.

For customer questions about the project, contact Duke Energy at 877-840-0101 or FLTransmissionEnhancements@duke-energy.com

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HIGH SPRINGS – For many Americans, Memorial Day is a three-day weekend to travel, enjoy the outdoors or party. The original meaning of the holiday may be acknowledged, but oftentimes little is done to honor it during their weekend plans. Locally, the springs were packed with people enjoying a weekend outside after a month of stay-at-home restrictions, and for many, that was the main focus for the holiday weekend.

For others, the true meaning of Memorial Day carries a more somber quality.  Memorial Day is one of three holidays designated to honor the men and women who serve in our military. We celebrate Armed Forces Day on the third Saturday in May to honor those currently serving. On Nov. 11, which was the day World War I ended, we honor all veterans who served their country in the past on Veterans Day. On the last Monday in May we remember those who served and did not return, as well as those who came back but have since passed. This is the real meaning of Memorial Day.

Since the Revolutionary War, over 1,355,000 have made the supreme sacrifice for their country and the values they cherished. Every community has lost some of its youth to war and many families have lost a slice of their future. In many towns, there is a monument or statue to those who paid the ultimate price in some conflict.

The COVID-19 pandemic put lives into a period of isolation. To try and contain the spreading virus, it was necessary to issue stay-at-home orders for over a month. All events over 10 people were canceled, so all the traditional ceremonies for Memorial Day didn't happen. While the state partially reopened last week, there are still restrictions on crowd size and social distancing for any event, and many people are still cautious about going out in crowds.

But some local businesses and organizations wanted to make sure those who made the sacrifice were honored despite the restrictions. The High Springs Ace hardware gave free small American flags to all customers on Monday to place at home, graves or memorials, such as the High Springs Veterans Memorial next to City Hall.

The monument was built in 1980 by American Legion Post 97, which used to be in High Springs but is no longer active. On one side of the six-foot granite monument, which is shaped like a headstone, there is a tribute to all of those veterans who have fought in war. The other side contains the names of High Springs residents who answered the call to arms but never returned. The High Springs Lions Club and the Military Vets MC club help maintain the monument and hold ceremonies to honor the veterans on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to social distance, this year the ceremony was canceled due to crowd size and health concerns for some of the older participants. The Lions Club did set up a station at the monument and give out free flags and silk poppy flowers that were donated by the Newberry American Legion Post 149 to place at the monument.

The poppy as a symbol for fallen soldiers dates back to a poem written by John McCrae, a Canadian officer who served as a brigade surgeon for an Allied artillery unit in World War I. After witnessing the carnage of the Second Battle of Ypres, which left 124,000 men dead, wounded or missing, McCrae wrote a poem called “In Flanders Fields.” McCrae was struck by the contrast of the pretty red poppies that sprouted on the battlefield where so much death had occurred. The poppy became a symbol for fallen soldiers. McCrae himself did not survive the war, dying near the end in 1918.

In America, the tradition dates back to the American Legion Auxiliary's first National Convention in the early 1920s when the red poppy was adopted as The American Legion Family's memorial flower. On Sunday and Monday members of the High Springs Lions Club tended to the monument for six hours to give people a chance to place a flag of remembrance at the granite monument.

Over 30 people came during the course of the two days, many doing it in honor of a family member who served. On Monday an older couple stopped by. They have come every year to honor a particular fallen soldier. They brought a beer and a Dixie cup to place on the monument along with the flag and poppy. Asked why they left a beer, they responded, “It's who he was and how he would want us pay tribute to him with a toast.”

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ALACHUA COUNTY - All businesses opened in the Governor's order may open in Alachua County at 50% occupancy and are subject to OHSA and CDC guidelines. The County still requires retail, grocery stores, and gyms to remain at a maximum of 50% occupancy, groups in public to be ten or less, and facial coverings in businesses and outside where social distancing is not possible.
For more information, contact Alachua County Communications Director Mark Sexton at 352-264-6979 or msexton@alachuacounty.us.
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ARCHER – The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) was called to the scene of a one-vehicle deadly crash on May 25 at 1:40 a.m. The incident occurred on State Road 24 and Southwest 135th Street, east of Archer.

The 29-year-old passenger was killed and the 24-year-old driver suffered critical injuries.

The two-door vehicle was traveling east on State Road 24 when it traveled off of the roadway to the left and struck a mailbox and multiple trees. The passenger was ejected from the sedan and was pronounced deceased on the scene by Alachua County Fire Rescue.

The driver was transported to UF-Health Shands Hospital in critical condition.

Both the driver and passenger were Gainesville residents.

FHP reports that the passenger was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, however the driver was wearing a seatbelt.

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HAWTHORNE – As part of the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) widening improvement project on State Road 20 from the Putnam County line to SW 56th Avenue, access to Gordon Chapel Road from State Road 20 is scheduled to close temporarily Monday, June 8 through midJuly, weather and schedule permitting. The closure is necessary to complete drainage and reconstruction work.

Eastbound and westbound traffic will detour via County Road 20A to Orange Avenue and Old Hawthorne Road to access Gordon Chapel Road. The improvements include widening State Road 20 from a two-lane roadway to a four-lane urban roadway with curbs, gutters, grassed medians, bicycle lanes, 5-foot sidewalk on the north side of the roadway, 10-foot multi-use path on the south side of the roadway and 5-span bridge at Fowlers Prairie. This segment will complete a 12-mile span of improvements on State Road 20 from Alachua County to Putnam County.

Lane closures will be allowed Monday through Friday after 8:30 a.m. Intermittent detours may be necessary to complete reconstruction work at access points to State Road 20. Periodic traffic shifts will be necessary to allow the contractor to safely complete work. Motorists should stay alert and adhere to posted construction and regulatory signs while traveling through the active construction zone.

Anderson Columbia Co. Inc is estimated to complete the $49 million widening improvements by late 2022, weather and unforeseen circumstances permitting.

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ALACHUA/HIGH SPRINGS – The cities of Alachua and High Springs are partnering with the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County to provide COVID-19 testing to residents ages 10 and older.

The tests will be available by appointment only to ensure residents receive important information and to increase the speed of the testing process. The Florida Department of Health of Alachua County will administer the nasal swab test, which takes less than a minute to perform. Results are not available immediately and are typically available within 3-7 days. Residents should not bring any pets with them during testing.

While not required to receive a test, individuals with health insurance should have that information available when scheduling an appointment. There is no out of pocket cost, insured or not, for testing.

In High Springs, testing will be offered on Wednesday, June 3 from 9 a.m. to noon by appointment only inside the High Springs Civic Center, 19107 N.W. 240th Street. To make an appointment, High Springs residents should call City Hall at 386-454-1416. City staff will be available 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for scheduling. For additional information, High Springs residents are encouraged to visit https://highsprings.us/2020/05/26/free-covid-19-testing-in-high-springs/

In Alachua, drive-thru COVID-19 testing will be offered on Monday, June 8 from 9 a.m. to noon at Santa Fe High School. Tests can be administered to multiple people in one vehicle if members of households want to be tested at the same time for convenience. Residents will remain in their vehicle during the process. To make an appointment, Alachua residents should call 386-418-6147 Monday through Thursday between 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m., or email covid19testing@cityofalachua.org anytime. Appointments must be scheduled no later than 5 p.m. on June 3.

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