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Last updateWed, 17 Dec 2014 11pm

Thanks to the Alachua Lions Club and Alachua Chamber

Thank you for your kind and gracious recognition at the Alachua Chamber of Commerce annual banquet.

The Lions motto is "We Serve" and no one does it better than The Alachua Lions Club. The Melvin Jones award I received was a tribute to all of our members.

  The Alachua Chamber is "The Can Do Business Organization" in the heart of Florida, and receiving the Volunteer of the Year was extra special. But it also was a reflection of each and every member and "The GoodLife Community's" willingness to be the best it can be.

  Gib Coerper, Mayor

Alachua, Fla. 

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Serving alcohol sets poor example

The April 25, 2013 issue of Alachua County Today showed photographs of Mayor Coerper and Mayor Weller serving booze at The Great Outdoors Restaurant. Some people joke about the consumption of alcohol. But, thousands of people are killed every year by drunk drivers and millions of lives are ruined in other ways.

I was married to an alcoholic. I know firsthand about its devastating effects. My former wife became an alcoholic during her student days at UF. Thousands of naive, inexperienced youth could be influenced by the photographs in Alachua County Today.

I urge Mayor Coerper and Mayor Weller to think about what they have done. If they think about it they will realize that their egregiously poor behavior is directly opposed to the interest of their constituents.

Jody David Linch

High Springs, Fla.

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Time for High Springs to move forward together

I commend Commissioner Barnas for apologizing to Suzie Clark.

There have been uncivil and even mean things said on both sides.  Well, the time has come for all character bashings to stop.

Stop the name calling.

Stop the blame game.

Stop trying to prove you are right.

Let the commissioners do their job without constant badgering from the constituents.

Even though I haven't lived in High Springs a long time, I remember when I came here seven years ago things were lot different.  People worked together.

Now it seems nobody wants to do anything because they are afraid of being criticized.

Let's face it folks - everyone makes mistakes.  To prove this is true, just look at your pencils and you'll find even you have used your erasers.  No one is perfect.  The big person corrects those mistakes and moves forward.

I am not sure how to turn all the negativity into something positive, but I do know that we have some extremely intelligent, hardworking and creative people in High Springs and their talents should be used for the good.

Mr. Barnas has taken a good first step.  Won't there be others of you who will follow that footstep?

 Arlene Levine

High Springs, Fla.

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Ethics Guide for High Springs City Commissioners

There is a proposal before the High Springs City Commission: Resolution 2013-C. It was drawn up based on other cities’ codes to call for appropriate conduct and ethics for City Commissioners.

Why? Why is this an issue?

The reason is that one of our commissioners, Bob Barnas, has set up a website to “trash” citizens who do not agree with him.

Former High Springs Commissioner Eric May had a “blog.” There were two important features: accuracy and the opportunity for citizens to post their opinion agreeing or disagreeing with the information. May’s “blog” did not come before the Commission.

Why then does the community and some commissioners have a problem with Barnas’s website? It is filled with descriptions, including photos of people and their place of employment that he describes as “bi atche,” “witches,” “liars,” “gossips,” “bribers,” and insinuates three of the commissioners took action as political payback. And there is no way to give your side of the story on this website.

It is of benefit to our community to have intelligent discussion, different opinions, and an informed exchange of ideas. However, there is no intelligent benefit to “name calling.” My husband and I have put in hundreds of volunteer hours for our High Springs community. Barnas’s website calls me “a liar,” and says we have tried to take over James Paul Park, and we have “bribed three Commissioners.” None of that is true. We have campaigned for two of the current commissioners and bribed absolutely no one.

In my experience a leader is an articulate person, who listens respectfully to others, and has positive ideas. Mrs. Gestrin, during the debates at the Woman’s Club, called for a return to civility. I totally agree with her. There should be a culture of civility. Citizens should speak to the Commission with respect and the commissioners should look at the person talking and appear to listen. Unfortunately, when a citizen is not respectful, the commissioners (like teachers, health workers, police and firefighters) must take the higher road and remain respectful, not vengeful.

Mr. Barnas, we have such a marvelous community, filled with incredible people. Why not change your website to a “blog” and encourage bold, intellectual and factual discussion? Why not bolster and encourage, even cheer on our community volunteers? They are working at the theater, the parks, the schools, etc. Then you will be the constructive force of our community.

Linda Hewlett

High Springs, Fla.

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Rebirth needed in 21st Century Catholicism

Now that Pope Benedict XVI has resigned, and the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church are in conclave to select his successor, I offer the following comments and suggestions to a beleaguered and corrupt church as a way to effectuate a new modern age genesis.

First, the cardinals should choose a pontiff from a small country that has not been rocked by recent clergy sexual abuse scandals. Choosing Benedict’s successor from the Americas, England, Ireland, or from a European country will be totally unacceptable and unquestionably a travesty of justice.

Admittedly, all of the church’s cardinals are eminently aware of the church’s unspeakable cover-up of clergy sexual abuse crimes that have been committed over the centuries. However, a “conspiracy of indifference” has recently manifested itself to a much larger degree in certain countries of the world.

A cardinal from any of these countries should not receive any consideration as the next leader of the Catholic Church since each of these cardinals was actively involved to some extent in perpetuating the cover-up of sex crimes committed by members of the clergy in his respective jurisdiction or country.

Many cardinals were egregiously culpable in failing to report clergy sexual predators to the law and by reassigning these known predators from parish to parish instead of having them laicized (defrocked) from the priesthood.

Selecting a pontiff from an African country would be a wise choice since the church is growing on this continent despite the sex abuse scandals confronting the church all around the world. In addition, there is a rise in the number of individuals in Africa seeking the priesthood.

Once a new pope is selected, the first act on day one of his papacy should be to make the following statement to the world which I also challenged Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI to make during their individual reigns:

‘We, the popes, cardinals, bishops, and priests of the Roman Catholic Church, have been grievously and sinfully wrong since the beginning of the church’s history by protecting predator clerics at the expense of the victims of clergy sexual abuse. Humbly, we openly admit our culpability and, in professing our shame, ask for forgiveness from God and all humanity for the unspeakable crimes we have committed against sexually victimized children and their families throughout our history as a religious institution.”

On day two as pontiff, he should immediately take steps in rescinding the canonization process for Pope John Paul II since this pontiff failed to institute any meaningful action in addressing the clergy sexual abuse crisis confronting his church. Canonizing a person who had the ultimate responsibility as well as moral obligation of ridding the church of rapists of children, and who did very little, is unimaginable and outrageous.

I challenge the church’s new leader to have the courage to affect change in Catholicism by starting meaningful dialogue regarding married priests, the ordination of women priests, the taking of communion by Catholics at other Christian churches, and the taking of communion by members of other Christian denominations at Catholic Mass.

Priests were allowed to marry well into the 12th Century and women fulfilled the role of deacons in the early church. I implore the church to bring back these “Christian” practices to today’s church and go one bold step further by embracing women into the priesthood. It is simply the “Christian” thing to do!

Encouraging and allowing the sharing of communion among believers of the same Jesus Christ is a “no brainer.” It is simply the “Christian” thing to do!

It is time for renewal, reformation, and rebirth in the Catholic Church. It is simply the “Christian” thing to do!

Will the new pope have the courage to lead a broken and corrupt church into a new genesis of transparent righteousness? I can only hope and pray.

Robert W. Wilford

Alachua, Fla.

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