Last updateTue, 24 Nov 2015 12am


There’s a new safety patrol in town

W - safety patrolALACHUA – John Maloney watched from the audience as his stepdaughter, Kaylee Mines, followed in his footsteps and took the pledge.

Kaylee, a fifth-grader at Alachua Elementary, was one of almost 30 students to become a part of the safety patrol in Alachua during a ceremony, which took place at 9 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 20 at Alachua Elementary School. The students were called up in three groups and took the pledge to honor and uphold the responsibility given to them through this title.

The newest wave of safety patrols was sworn in by Joel DeCoursey Jr., chief of police at the Alachua Police Department.

“She has wanted this for over a year now, and it’s really something that makes her mother and I very proud,” Maloney said.

The main goal of the program is to maintain order in the school as much as a student can, DeCoursey said. There is a reason these kids were chosen and placing this kind of trust in them is only going to help them to grow, he added.

The young students pledged: “I promise to do my best to report for duty on time, perform my duties faithfully, strive to prevent accidents, always set a good example, obey my teachers and officers of the patrol, report dangerous student practices and strive to earn the respect of fellow students.”

It was really something special for Maloney to experience watching Kaylee become part of the safety patrol, just as he had done when he was in school, he said.

Alachua County has been a part of the program for over 35 years, DeCoursey said. It is a country-wide program as well, he added, and it acts as a reward for fifth-grade students who can meet the standard.

Kelly Maloney, Kaylee’s mother, was proud her daughter has been able to meet that standard and has a desire to help others.

“I know that they only pick the best students to receive this title,” she said, “and it will be great for teaching her how to handle this type of responsibility.”

Christine McCall was another mother on hand at the ceremony where her daughter, Allison McCall, also joined the patrol.  

To be selected, a student has to have good grades, act in a mature manner and do the right thing, McCall said. This will be something that teaches her to behave well when other people look up to her, she said.

Each student is assigned a post, and they ensure that the safety rules of the school are upheld in that area, said Eva Copeland, principal of Alachua Elementary.

One of the posts a student could receive is the car-pickup area. This is the zone where parents can get their children after school. A safety patrol would be responsible for making sure that each student got to his or her car safely at this post, but they would probably not open doors or load students, Copeland said.

DeCoursey has been involved with the program in the city for over 20 years and he has seen it be a tremendous help for some students. It gives them a sense of pride in something. They all had to work for this and seeing that work culminate in this reward really means something, he said.

There is an additional reward for the children. At the end of the year they will be going on a trip to Washington D.C. as a part of the program. About 1,300 students from around the county take the trip every year. It’s basically a bonus for them, DeCoursey said.

Most of them don’t really care that it is Washington D.C., they just enjoy the excitement of going on a trip, he said.

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Medical Manager property up for lease

ALACHUA – As many as 250-500 new jobs may become available in Alachua County if the former site for the company Medical Manager is leased by a new company.

The 16-acre property, still owned by Medical Manager’s developer, Mickey Singer, is available for lease, according to Michael Ryals of Bosshardt Realty.

“We hope to attract a business that will bring with it jobs, added revenues and some sort of business synergy to the community,” Ryals said.

[CW1] The 83,738 square-foot, five-building complex is located at 15151 NW 99th Street in Alachua. It is expected to lease at $83,738 per month.

Ryals is trying to attract the right company to this “gem in Alachua County,” as he describes it.

“It would be an ideal location for several different types of businesses. I could easily see it being used again by a technology company, like Medical Manager used it, a school or as a medical campus,” he said.

An improved economy is one reason the property is being put on the market to lease at this time.

“Now that the economy is recovering, it’s time to get active and get the property back into the pipeline,” he said.

The two-story buildings were constructed as Medical Manager grew from the years of 1993 to 2002. The smallest building in the complex was built first at 14,501 square feet. The largest building in the complex was built last at 21,044 square feet. The campus-like setting houses offices, large meeting rooms and features fully-networked computer wiring and a generator backup.

“Everything we built was top of the line,” said property owner Mickey Singer.

“Everyone says it is a gorgeous piece of property,” he said. The same architecture was used for all the buildings. “We wanted to build not only a beautiful work environment, but one that had optimal conditions for our employees.” The layout of the workspaces was carefully designed with employees in mind, Singer said.

“As our employees walked between the buildings, we wanted them to be able to experience the calming effects of the natural environment,” he said. “It is a unique setting for a business.” Everything in the building is modern, including the fiber optics.

Ryals agreed, noting how each building is interconnected by covered walkways through landscaped gardens with break areas and even ponds. Singer still maintains the property and landscaped gardens to the same standards as when Medical Manager occupied the buildings.

“It is truly a campus,” Singer sad.  

Two weeks ago, Ryals brought in a group of business-minded community members to tour the buildings and grounds.

“We went to them for ideas on where we should focus our attention in marketing the property,” he said. Among those who toured the facilities were Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper, Alachua City Manager Traci Caine and Alachua Assistant City Manager Adam Boukari, as well as representatives from Innovation Square, the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Gainesville Council for Economic Outreach and the University of Florida.

Ryals said they are looking at real estate representatives on a national level who may have additional contacts in the U.S. and abroad for input. He also plans to research a state database, which is currently in the early stages of development by Enterprise Florida. When the listing is complete, business owners interested in locating in Florida will have a website to access available properties within the state that meet their requirements.

Medical Manager’s software was developed by Singer in 1979. “It hit the market in 1981, when the economy was going strong,” Singer said. Medical Manager went public in 1997. The company was sold in 2009 to Sage Software, one of the largest software companies in Europe.

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 [CW1]The # of sq. ft. & the monthly lease amount ARE correct. It’s $12/sq. ft. divided by 12 months.

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Deadline for flu vaccine extended

ALACHUA – Schools will be combating the flu virus for its fifth year in a row this season for all grade levels from pre-kindergarten to the 12th grade.

Schools will be giving out free flu vaccines for students with consenting parents. The vaccine will be administered through a nose spray known as FluMist, which has been used each year for the last five years with few issues.

The program deadline has been extended to Sept. 30. Alachua County has extended its deadline because it has not yet met its goal of getting at least 70 percent of students vaccinated.

University of Florida pediatrician, Kathleen Ryan, encouraged vaccinating children for the flu to prevent it from spreading throughout the community.

“The reason we aim for that 70 percent is because there are modeling studies, computer mathematical models that show that if you can immunize 70 percent of children in the community,” she said, “you can protect the entire community from the flu.”

This process is referred to as community immunity or herd immunity. The idea behind it is to protect older and younger citizens from picking up the virus from children that are in school and are exposed to it regularly.

In the five years that the FluMist has been used in Alachua County schools, Ryan said she has seen more and more parents opt to give schools permission to vaccinate their children.

While Ryan said that high school students are the hardest to get vaccinated at school, there are still around 15 to 20 percent of high school students that receive the vaccine through their doctors rather than the school.

Unfortunately, some parents will not be giving their children the FluMist vaccine due to health issues.

One parent said that since her daughter is asthmatic that she can’t receive the vaccine in the FluMist form, but will most likely be taking her to get the actual shot.

Children with active asthma and other respiratory diseases cannot be given the FluMist vaccine, Ryan said, but she advised they go to their pediatricians to get the shot.

“We encourage them to do that because they really should have follow up with their doctor, especially because they have a chronic illness and they need to get the vaccine,” she said.

At Irby Elementary, the FluMist will be given out at its Health Fair Day where students from first grade and up have their height and weight measured and have their vision and hearing tested.

Health Fair Day has been set up so that children will have updated physicals without interrupting too much of class time.

Nurse Melissa Lopez at Irby Elementary said the Health Fair would last until noon and health screenings would take 20 minutes for an entire class. Once health screenings are done, Lopez would then go down the line of children and give them the vaccine.

Lopez also encouraged the vaccine because it can help keep both children and parents healthy and productive. By receiving the vaccine, children will be less likely to get sick and require their parents to stay home from work with them. This can also cause the spread of the virus.

“Last year, we probably had like five students that had the flu viruses,” she said. “In the years past, we’ve always had more. It’s been up in the 30s. By getting as many children vaccinated as possible, the community can drastically reduce the number of cases, she added.

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Remembering Jack Parrish

ALACHUA – John “Jack” Parrish, once a member of the Alachua Police Department, is now a name that will exist in the hearts of many Alachua officers as a reminder of what it means to be a leader.

Parrish became the first Chief of Police for the Alachua Police Department in 1976 after he left the Florida Highway Patrol. From there, he changed a community by instilling a moral and professional code that would resonate for the next 37 years, according to friends and family.

Current Chief of Police, Joel DeCoursey, Jr., saw Parrish as a mentor. In DeCoursey’s office, in a chair pulled away from a table, sits Parrish’s picture, acting as a commemorative piece.

DeCoursey recalled Parrish as a gentle giant and a protector for the people who couldn’t protect themselves. His legacy as a protector, he said, will last for years to come.

While DeCoursey never actually worked with Parrish, he had a strong relationship with him. So strong that he was able to consult him when tough situations arose.

“He was a resource for the community,” he said. “If something was going on that I needed to know about, he would inform me. If there was something he could help me with, he would tap into his resources or his knowledge base.”

Parrish’s love for the Alachua community kept him involved even after his retirement, DeCoursey said. Since Parrish’s wife, Patricia Parrish, continued to work at the police department after her husband retired, this meant he would often come around the police building.

“He was one of those sounding boards, he and his wife, they were very supportive,” DeCoursey said.

Even on the days when he didn’t need to tell DeCoursey about something, he still would stop in and check up on the officers, mainly the new ones.

“He would always take a vested interest in who was hired and how the department was going,” he said.

He may have hung up his work boots, but staying away from his old life all together was just too hard, so helping the new guys out became a regular thing for Parrish.

However, as he got older, he spent less time at the department and more time with his wife traveling and fishing.

Parrish died earlier this month at North Florida Regional Hospital after a lengthy illness at the age of 73.

Many young officers didn’t know Parrish well, but the officers that did know him have heavy hearts, DeCoursey said.

The Alachua Police Department has been trying to help Parrish’s family in this difficult time. DeCoursey has been in touch with Patricia Parrish regularly to check on her and see if she needs anything. Some officers have even been taking shifts and personally going to her home to check in.

To remember Parrish, the department will be holding a memorial for him in the future. A time hasn’t been decided yet.

Parrish’s love for his community is the reason that the Alachua Police Department has become so reputable and well-working, DeCoursey said. His work in growing the department and being a morally right leader are only two of the numerous everlasting effects he left on Alachua.

“He loved this community,” he said. “He loved the people in this community.”

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Hawthorne student arrested after bringing gun to school

HAWTHORNE – A 16-year-old student was arrested Friday, Sept. 20, after bringing a gun to Hawthorne High School and Middle School.

At 7:42 a.m., the Alachua Sheriff’s Office received a call about a young man driving a maroon Chevy Impala that had pulled out and fired a gun on Southeast 152nd Street, according to reports.

Deputies responded to the call by searching the area, but were unable to find the vehicle or the young man.

Deputy Joshua Mitchell, the school resource officer, was waiting for the school bell to ring when he noticed the Chevy Impala sitting in the parking lot of Hawthorne High School and Middle School.

When more deputies got to the school, Mitchell confronted the 16-year-old suspect when he got out of the car to put a white gym bag in the trunk, according to reports.

Law enforcement identified the gun in the gym bag as a .380 caliber semi-automatic handgun.

The police discovered the suspect was a sophomore at the school. According to reports, the boy did not intend to use the gun while at school.

The suspect was arrested and taken to the Juvenile Resource Center where he was charged with possession of a firearm on school grounds, possession of a firearm by a minor and discharge of a firearm in public.

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