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TALLAHASSEE - Consumers can purchase qualifying back-to-school supplies exempt from tax during the 2021 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday. Passed by the Florida Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the sales tax holiday begins Saturday, July 31 and extends through Monday, Aug. 9. 

The sales tax holiday does not apply to the rental or repair of any of the qualifying items. Additionally, the sales tax holiday does not apply to sales in a theme park, entertainment complex, public lodging establishment or airport.

For more information on implementing the sales tax holiday, please see the Department of Revenue's Taxpayer Information Publication on the 2021 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday or the 2021 Florida Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday FAQs for Businesses.

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ALACHUA -- RTI Surgical, a leading surgical implant company providing blue-chip OEM customers with a portfolio of tissue-based, synthetic and metal implants, has today announced it has entered in a long-term strategic agreement with leading global medical device OEM Exactech, related to the development and supply of biologic bone substitutes.

As part of the agreement, RTI Surgical has acquired Exactech's Optecure®, a 510(k)- cleared demineralized bone matrix for use as a bone graft extender in the spine, pelvis, and extremities. Optecure® will complement RTI Surgical's market-leading portfolio of bone graft substitutes.

"Biologic materials that support joint replacement surgery are an important facet of Exactech's business," said Exactech CEO Darin Johnson. "This collaboration with RTI allows each company to focus on our unique strengths. RTI has specialized expertise in the procurement, processing and manufacturing of human-derived tissue-based implants and Exactech markets and distributes the clinical solutions to help surgeons treat patients. We are pleased that this deal strengthens our long-standing partnership and positions us to have a more stable supply to support our selling efforts."

"Having a partner like Exactech trust us to become a preferred supplier for their bone graft portfolio is a key milestone in our journey to become the market leading private-label implant supplier to OEMs. Growing our partnership with Exactech and developing Optecure® enables us to achieve our vision of enhancing the gifts of life, and we thank the Exactech team for this partnership," said RTI Surgical CEO Olivier Visa.

Optecure® is RTI Surgical's first product acquisition since the company was acquired by Montagu in 2020.

About RTI Surgical
RTI Surgical (RTI) is a global, industry-leading surgical implant supplier that provides design, new product development, processing and manufacturing services in support of patients and leading medical technology companies. With expertise spanning tissue, biologics and hardware, we serve OEM partners across a diverse set of market segments, including but not limited to, Dental, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Sports Medicine, Spine, Trauma and Urology/Urogynecology. RTI is headquartered in Alachua, Fla., and has four manufacturing facilities throughout the United States and Europe. RTI is accredited in the U.S. by the American Association of Tissue Banks. For more information, visit www.rtisurgical.com.

About Exactech  
Exactech is a global medical device company that develops and markets orthopaedic implant devices, related surgical instruments and the Active Intelligence® platform of smart technologies to hospitals and physicians. Headquartered in Gainesville, Fla., Exactech markets its products in the United States, in addition to more than 30 markets in EuropeLatin AmericaAsia and the Pacific. Visit www.exac.com for more information and connect with us on LinkedInVuMediYouTube and Instagram.

About Montagu
Montagu is one of Europe's leading private equity firms, specialising in finding and building businesses the world needs. With over 50 years' experience of investing in private markets, Montagu's investment strategy is focused on partnership with management in buyouts of high-quality companies that provide products and services that are must-have for their customers. We work with our companies to achieve their growth ambitions and unlock the value of their business.  ESG is an integral part of our strategy, and our commitment to responsible investment is fully integrated into our investment and value-creation process. Montagu partners with companies with enterprise values between €200 million and €1 billion and has €9bn assets under management. For additional information on Montagu, visit www.montagu.com 

 

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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ The City of High Springs may be purchasing the Santa Fe Canoe Outpost. At the June 24 City Commission meeting, Recreation Director Damon Messina provided updated information regarding the possible purchase of the property.

“What is for sale is the business, land, building and assets,” Messina said. The land is 2.5 acres and includes a two-story building with one bathroom inside and two more attached to the outside of the building. Purchase by High Springs would serve to preserve and protect the area’s natural resources. “Should the owners sell the property to someone else, even if they promise to maintain it as it is, it’s possible they could sell to another entity which doesn’t have to abide by the same directive,” Messina said.

The business has been open for more than 30 years and has operated at a profit. Messina pointed out that the land has gone up in value 20 – 25 percent in recent years and there is a high demand for this type of recreation.

If the City doesn’t want to manage the Outpost, Messina suggested that a request for proposals (RFP) be issued for an outside agency to manage the facility. The property has been appraised at $600,000, said Messina. If the Commission chooses to purchase the Outpost, the City will be able to continue to offer watercraft rentals, camping and shuttle service.

Messina said partial funding would be possible through Wild Spaces Public Places funds. A private donor through Alachua County Trust has also offered to provide $175,000 toward the purchase.

Costs involved would include flood insurance, which is estimated at $2,000 annually. Insurance for the vehicles, dock and pathway will cost approximately $2,750.

Upgrades to the facility are estimated at $150,000. Those costs include replacing the boardwalk and adding secure railings, replacement of the dock, remodel the bathrooms to make all replacement and renovations A.D.A. compliant, plus improve signage on the U.S. Highway 441 entrance.

Messina listed some of the goals of obtaining this property which included providing educational services to the community, partnering with local schools and organizations to offer programs and events, continuing as care takers of the river and natural surroundings, continued protection of an environmental asset and extending its economic force in the community bringing thousands of visitors to the area. Messina also sai the City would be seeking state and federal grant and program opportunities.

Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) Executive Director Tom Kay was on hand to talk about possible funding options through grants and other programs. He will assist the City in obtaining funding from Florida Communities Trust Parks and Open Space Program. This program is a state acquisition program that provides Florida Forever funds to local governments and environmental non-profit organizations for purchase and upgrades of greenways that further outdoor recreation and natural resources.

As part of his presentation, Kay pointed out that the City only needs to put $150,000 down on the property. He also said their organization has had some success with grants that would be available to the City should the Commission decide to make the commitment.

City Manager Ashley Stathatos pointed out there would be income from rentals plus the opportunity for grants once the City obtains the property. Commissioner Scott Jamison pointed out that a splash park or one of the other items on the City’s initial agenda for Wild Spaces funding can be done later.

“Overall,” said Messina, “this acquisition might provide added opportunities for a Rails to Trails future purchase. One of the rail lines ends next to the U.S. 27 bridge which would provide additional riverside access.”

Current owner Jim Wood also addressed the Commission and said he would like to sell the property to the City to protect the land and all they have put into this area. He also stated that he would continue to run the business until the City prepares an RFP and obtains someone else to run the facility.

Stathatos said that if the City signs a contract in July, it might be possible to close by October. The Commission took no action but will continue to review information about the potential purchase of the property

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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ Awards of Valor were presented to Sgt. Gary Moore and Officer Mayuly Nodarse by High Springs Police Chief Antoine Sheppard at the June 24 City Commission meeting.

The two were recognized for their actions at on April 28, 2021 at 17427 N.W. 266th Street. At 6 p.m., Moore and Nodarse responded to a suspicious activity call and observed an individual in the bathroom holding a knife in a threatening manner. The victim was yelling for help after hearing announcements from outside.

After several commands from the officers, they forced entry into the bathroom. The armed suspect was uncooperative and “appeared to be in an altered state of mind,” said High Springs Police Department Sergeant Taylor. The officers were able to disarm and detain the suspect using non-lethal force tasers.

“These officers displayed a significant amount of courage and bravery,” Taylor said. “The High Springs Police Department is honored to present these awards to Sgt. Moore and Officer Nodarse.”

Chief Sheppard read the Award of Valor to Commissioners, “This award is presented in recognition of your unselfish actions during an emergency situation which resulted in the saving of human life. Your proper application of training, experience and equipment exemplifies your dedication to duty, preservation of life and services to the community.”

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ALACHUA ‒ Hurricane turned Tropical Storm Elsa swept across the peninsular of Florida slamming into the Big Bend area, bringing bouts of wind and waves of downpours to the heartland communities. The Northwest 105th Avenue bridge crossing Turkey Creek in Alachua was inundated by early afternoon Wednesday. As expected, the tropical storm left many without power and roadways closed due to flooding and downed trees, with the High Springs area experiencing numerous roadway blockages for a variety of reasons including downed trees and localized flooding.

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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ People yearning for a taste of N’awlins music need wait no longer than this weekend. On July10 and 11, North Florida will be treated to a taste of New Orleans unique musical style as the High Springs Lions Club hosts a two-day concert featuring some of the top session musicians from Louisiana.

Nicknamed the “Big Easy” and “The Crescent City,” New Orleans is known for its round-the-clock nightlife, vibrant live-music scene that mixes musical genres of Funk, Jazz, Blues, Rock & Soul as well as its spicy, singular cuisine reflecting its history as a melting pot of French, African and American cultures.

This show, called the FloraNola Festival, was the brainchild of national touring and High Springs native Jesse Smith who has gathered a few of his favorite musicians to bring the finest musical GUMBO around.

Like everywhere else, live performances disappeared this past year due to COVID-19 restrictions and entertainers were suddenly out of work.

“We've been locked down so long, we’re ready to explode,” Smith said. “This was an opportunity to get back on the road and introduce my hometown to some of the unique New Orleans style played by some of my favorite New Orleans musicians.”

Many of the musicians joining him onstage originally met at Florida State University while seeking various music degrees. After performing, recording and creating for several years, Smith and bassist Ron Williams moved to New Orleans to improve their skills in the Crescent City. “This was the beginning of a beautiful time of our lives, and a journey that took us around the world performing the traditions of New Orleans R&B, Funk, Blues and Jazz” Smith said.

Over the next few years, another musician from Florida State University joined them in New Orleans as multi-instrumentalist Joe Goldberg on saxophone, flute, and keys began touring with them. “This is where we all found our voices, where we found our gigs to pay the rent, and the jumping point of which led to our travels,” Smith said. While on tour in Savannah, they were introduced to Kenny Murphy who played bass, guitar and vocals and he joined the band on tour.

“One thing that New Orleans is known for is their special breed of drummers/percussionists,” said Smith. “The heartbeat of the city dances to a special kind of rhythm, one that is not easily mastered and comes from generations of passed down lineage. Luckily the first couch I had to crash on during my first visit to the city was none other than New Orleans native Nick Solnick, a world class drummer in his own right who completed our band.”

“Fast forward a few years and we've all spend thousands of hours together on the road, on the stage, in the studio, at the back yard barbecue, on the side of the road, at a hang around the holidays and everywhere else you can wind up with a few of your best friends,” said Smith. “We've become our own large family and that's what this FloraNola Festival is all about.”

While the concert is free, it is not just about the musicians performing some great music. The event is also about raising money for the Lions Clubs mission to benefit local charitable needs in the surrounding communities. An effect of the COVID pandemic was the cancellation of charitable events, which limited the ability of many organizations to raise funds. “We are doing this to help get the charitable causes back on track,” Smith said. “The concert is free, but we are asking people to make donations to help others.”

The Lions Club will also be selling food and drinks to raise money. Due to this, they ask that while people are welcome to bring chairs, they leave all food and drinks at home and enjoy the affordable food and drinks offered by the club. The concert will begin on Saturday, July 10 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. with the gates opening at 4 p.m. and continue on Sunday, July 11 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. with the gates opening at 12 noon. The High Springs Lions Club is located at 26900 U.S. Highway 27, High Springs. Additional information can be found by calling 386-454-4521.

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ALACHUA ‒ The skies around Alachua were once again bursting with flashes of dazzling lights as the city’s annual Fourth of July celebration returned Sunday evening to a crowd estimated at some 17,000 spectators.

For 20 years the City of Alachua has hosted an annual July 4th celebration billed as the “Largest Small Town Fireworks Display in America.” The event is so popular that it attracts thousands each year, oftentimes doubling the size of the town’s nearly 10,000 population.

Historically, the event lasts all day, featuring food vendors, children’s activities, games and several bands through the course of the day and evening. The crowd grows throughout the day culminating with the highest numbers for the fireworks show, which rivaled the size and expense of larger metropolitan areas.

But last year, everything changed due to COVID-19. All mass events were canceled or restricted in size and people stayed home to avoid spreading or catching the virus. The City of Alachua canceled the enormously popular event due to concerns for everyone's safety.

This year, the City of Alachua vowed to bring the tradition back. But due to the time it takes to organize the event, with planning starting six months out, and no guarantees about what the situation would be in July, the City opted to stay true to the “Largest Small Town Fireworks Display in America” and focus on the fireworks. Also different this year was the location of the event, as the show was moved from the Hal Brady Recreation Complex where it has been held in previous years to the adjacent Legacy Park and amphitheater.

The day was wet as rain and thunderstorms rolled in throughout the afternoon leaving the Legacy Park field soaked and muddy. But by evening, the skies began to clear, and if there had been any doubts about whether people would show up, those doubts were quickly dispelled by the sheer size of the crowd. After a year of quarantine, social distancing and lack of activities, thousands came out to celebrate the holiday and fireworks. Many brought chairs to avoid the wet ground while others simply stood throughout the show.

The larger than anticipated crowd did cause issues with parking as the ongoing rain left much of the parking area too wet and muddy to use. The reduced parking area at Legacy Park was filled and closed by 7:30 p.m. with traffic backed up on Peggy Road for more than a mile. Police directed people to the Alachua Main Street area, which also quickly filled, leaving many to walk a mile to the park.

The evening’s entertainment consisted of one band, reduced from the multi-band format in the past. Crooked Council performed an energetic set to get the crowd up from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. As they ended their set, the sky exploded in a barrage of multi-colored fireworks and the show began.

For the next half hour, a continuous display of fireworks lit the night sky over Legacy Park as thousands celebrated the Fourth of July. The celebration looked different this year, but one thing is certain, Alachua’s Largest Small Town Fireworks Display was back.

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