Last updateWed, 25 May 2016 8pm


'Star Wars" fans line up at the Priest Theater

Priest TheaterDSC 3519

Photo by RONN JONES special to Alachua County Today

"Star Wars" is back, and now it's official that High Springs has its share of devotees as evidenced by the winding line outside the Priest Theater and the "sold out" sign in the ticket window.

HIGH SPRINGS - A “SOLD OUT” sign was posted Saturday evening at the front of The Priest Theater in High Springs for that night's feature film, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

“A number of people arrived on Friday evening to purchase tickets for the following night,” said one observer. The Priest Theater's Facebook page listed that night's movie as “Sold Out” by 2:47 p.m. that afternoon.

“The Force Awakens” has shattered U.S. and European box office records since its December 18 release, accumulating almost $2 billion in sales worldwide.

Although some theaters raised the price of admission for this record-breaking movie, tickets were at a flat rate of $5 for all showings at the Priest.

The movie, rated PG-13, is scheduled to run again this weekend.

Times are 8 p.m. on Friday and Monday, and 6 p.m. on Saturday.

The box office opens 30 minutes prior to show time for ticket purchase. Advance and reserved tickets are available at Sheffield's Hardware, 50 N. Main St. or call 386-454-2200.

This is a cash only theater with no provisions for debit/credit card payment.

The science fiction and fantasy, action and adventure runs slightly over two hours.

The Priest Theater is located at 15 N.W. First St. in High Springs, around the corner from City Hall

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Archer picks Folston as city manager


ARCHER – The Archer City Commission selected Zeriah Folston as its new city manager at a special meeting last Thursday.

The sole reason for the convening was to interview the five finalists for the job, and Commissioner Doug Jones said Folston was the best of a good group.

“When he got to the podium, it was pretty obvious who our choice would be,” Jones said. “He filled the room with energy.”

The city remains in contract negotiations with Folston but hopes to be finished within the next two weeks.

Folston is currently the Assistant Supervisor of Elections for Alachua County. His previous experience spans a wide spectrum within city and county government, ranging from work as a budget analyst with the county to an internship with former Alachua City Manager and current State Representative Clovis Watson, Jr.

Folston was one of an initial 18 applicants that included current Archer Interim City Manager John Glanzer and other city managers from around the state.

Despite his lack of direct city management experience, Folston was the top recommendation of a management consulting service employed by the city according to City Manager Selection Committee minutes from Nov. 20.

Jones said the city commission agreed with the committee once the process moved from looking strictly at resumes to interacting with the candidates personally.

“His energy is infectious, and I am really looking forward to working with him,” Jones said. “He has a lot of local experience, having mentored under Clovis Watson when he was manager with Alachua and Randall Reid when he was county manager. And he brings depth of experience and expertise – his budget experience is a huge bonus for the city.”

Jones was hopeful that Folston will bring his enthusiasm to bear on Archer’s recreation department.

“I suspect he will be very involved in the community,” Jones said. “He mentioned many, many times during the interview wanting to get the recreation program really up and running. He has a 14-year-old son and seems to be very active recreationally.”

Folston will look to bring stability to a position that has seen rapid turnover over the previous year: former City Manager Al Grieshaber, Jr. and Assistant City Manager John Mayberry both resigned at the end of June following controversy surrounding Facebook posts Mayberry made which drew protests from the local NAACP branch.

Grieshaber was initially replaced on an interim basis by Xavier Bishop, who in turn resigned after only six weeks over family concerns. Glanzer – who had previously served as Archer City Manager from 2009 to 2012 – then replaced Bishop as interim manager while also submitting an application to fill the position permanently.

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Progress Park marijuana operation?


ALACHUA – A medicinal marijuana processing and development facility could soon be located in Progress Corporate Park.

Robert Wallace, owner of Chestnut Hill Tree Farm in Alachua, announced the potential project while presenting a status update on the farm to the Alachua City Commission Monday night.

The Florida Senate passed a bill legalizing medicinal marijuana in June 2014, and the City of Alachua has been working on its land development regulations to address the change in state law since January 2015.

Wallace said Chestnut Hill is one of only five businesses in the state licensed for growing medicinal marijuana.

“We have a deadline of Feb. 7 to apply for a license to cultivate,” he said. Chestnut Hill will start growing marijuana in early spring at its farm located off NW 94th Avenue in Alachua.

Wallace stated that preparation of the farm has been extensive, including the construction of 10,000 sq ft of state-of-the-art greenhouses and expansive security measures.

“We have a 10 foot high Fort Knox-style fence with three rows of concertina wire and are working with GRU and Shands to install cameras for surveillance, and will also have 24-hour on-site security,” he said.

After the marijuana is grown and cultivated, it will need to be processed into medicinal form.

“Our processing plan is for medicine that is very unique and is a new development in combination with some international pharmaceutical companies, and we would like to put our processing facility at my property at Progress Park – essentially a pharmaceutical development operation,” Wallace said.

Wallace made a point to emphasize that the kind of marijuana that will be grown is low-THC, non-psychoactive and high-CBD designed very specifically for use in patients with epilepsy and particular forms of cancer.

The site for dispensing the medicine will be in Gainesville at a location next to Shands Hospital.

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Joel DeCoursey sworn in as High Springs Police Chief

DeCoursey IMG 1852

Alachua County Judge Susanne Wilson Bullard (left) swears in Joel DeCoursey (center) as Chief of the High Springs Police Department. The ceremony was conducted at the beginning of the Jan. 14 High Springs City Commission meeting. Alachua Police Chief Chad Scott (right) looks on.  City and county dignitaries, as well as officers from Alachua County Sheriff's Office, the High Springs and Alachua Police Departments turned out to witness the event.

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Three arrested in Archer shooting

Archer Arrested  

Ringgold                           Rowe                                      Williams

ARCHER – Four suspects have been charged in a Jan. 11 shooting in Archer. Shortly after 1 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 11, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Combined Communications Center (ACSO) received a 9-1-1 call from an individual stating that his brother had been shot.

Multiple patrol units responded to the area and located a black Nissan Titan overturned in the 14000 block of SW 175th Avenue. Deputies found the victim, 24-year old Joenathan Young, III, inside the vehicle, partially clothed and bleeding profusely from an apparent gunshot wound. Young was transported to UF Health at Shands Hospital in Gainesville for treatment of his injuries.

At approximately 1:45 a.m. that same morning, ACSO patrol deputies attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a vehicle in the 500 block of SE 13th Street for an unrelated traffic infraction. After attempting to elude deputies, all occupants of the vehicle fled on foot resulting in a coordinated search of the area involving both Alachua County Sheriff’s Deputies and the Gainesville Police Department.

Through the course of the investigation, ACSO detectives were able to establish that 22-year-old Faheem Sharod Ringgold, of 16470 N.E. 60th Street in Williston, was connected to both the shooting as well as the attempted traffic stop, labeling him as a person of interest.

ACSO detectives reached out to the Levy County Sheriff’s Office for assistance in locating him. On the morning of Jan. 12, deputies with the Levy County Sheriff’s Office spotted Ringgold in a vehicle traveling toward Alachua County and relayed that information to ACSO.

ACSO deputies soon located the vehicle and took Ringgold into custody. Investigations revealed that Ringgold, along with three other accomplices, conspired to rob the victim, luring him from his home. In that robbery attempt, 17-year-old Ta’Vione A. Williams brandished a firearm and shot the victim and stripped the victim of his clothing before fleeing the scene along with Ringgold, 17- year-old Kasey M. Rowe, and another juvenile accomplice.

Ringgold remains in the Alachua County Jail on charges of Grand Theft, and will face additional charges of Robbery and Attempted Murder. Rowe was taken into custody late Tuesday evening and Williams was arrested by deputies Wednesday morning. Both face charges of Robbery and Attempted Murder. The fourth suspect has been identified and detectives are in the process of obtaining an arrest warrant.

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