Sat12102016

Last updateWed, 07 Dec 2016 9pm

Upgrades on Tap for Newberry's Fire Station

NEWBERRY – Upgrades to the City of Newberry’s fire station received approval at the Aug. 22 commission meeting following a presentation by Facilities Supervisor Travis Parker.

Parker said the main changes included the addition of an ambulance bay and modifications to the sleeping quarters.

Other changes include relocation of the fire chief's office, and in future, that space will be the office and sleeping quarters for the lieutenant. Currently, the open sleeping quarters area has room for four beds. Renovations will increase the bed capacity to five and allow for more privacy.

The changes are expected to increase the overall size of the facility to 2,270 sq. ft., including the ambulance bay.

In an effort to move the project along, Parker told commissioners he already advertised for bid, but said he could add any changes the commission might want to make. Hearing no changes, the plans will move ahead to a bid opening Sept. 14 and a request for acceptance of the winning bid at the commission meeting of Sept. 26.

Parker estimated it will take 180 days for construction, which means the project should be completed by late March 2017.

The City's firefighters have offered to perform some of the construction work to help save the City time and money in updating the facility, said City Manager Mike New. “Who knew we had so many contractors working as firefighters,” he said with a chuckle.

The ambulance bay is estimated to cost approximately $70,000, with the balance of the fire station renovations estimated at $215,000, said New.

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Camp Kulaquqa Connecting to City Sewer

Q - HS Commission check IMG 2554

 Photo special to Alachua County Today

A check for Phase 1 of the $50,000 grant for the upgrades to the Walter Howard Park was presented to the City of High Springs. L-R: High Springs City Manager Ed Booth, Vice-Mayor Gloria James, O'Leno State Park Manager George Paxton (holding check) and High Springs Recreation Director Robert Basford.

 HIGH SPRINGS – O'Leno State Park Manager George Paxton was on hand at Thursday's High Springs City Commission Meeting to present a check for $50,000 from the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP). The grant is for Phase 1 of the Walter Howard Park upgrades.

In other city business, the City's Building Inspector, Scott Thomason, introduced some minor changes to the Code of Ordinances to update some of the fees for the Building Department's services. Although the changes are “modest,” Thomason hopes they will bring High Springs in line with some of the other municipalities in the region with similar populations.

“We want to make sure our department is self-sustaining,” said Thomason. “There are some services we provide that needed to be clarified, and we have hopefully done that with this new list of updated municipal fees.”

There are no fee increases associated with fire inspection services at this time, said Thomason.

Builders should be able to apply and pay on line for the services they want from the City's Building Department soon.

“Our software company is working on this and we hope to have it operational in the next couple of weeks,” said Thomason. It is expected to help streamline the department's ability to serve the builders in that community.

Commissioners approved a contract to continue to have Carol Rowan manage the Farmers' Market for another year.

Mittauer & Associates, Inc. received a thumbs-up from commissioners to design, permit and construct a pump station and install a force main to connect Camp Kulaqua to the City's wastewater system. A Suwannee River Water Management District grant in the amount of $250,000 has been awarded for this project. Mittauer is expected to receive approximately $50,000 for their portion of the work.

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Burglaries Hit Area Homes and Businesses

   HIGH SPRINGS – The High Springs Police Department (HSPD) is searching for a burglar who has been active over the past three weeks.  
   At least six burglaries have occurred at residential and business locations.  The majority of the business-related crimes have happened at night, while residential burglaries have taken place during daylight hours.
   “Not all burglary attempts have been successful,” said HSPD Executive-Operations Lt. Antoine Sheppard.  “A burglary alarm went off at the High Springs Emporium, as well as other businesses and residential homes.  That seemed to scare away the intruder.”
   During a number of these incidents, a young, white male, smaller built, was seen in the area on a bicycle.
   Burglary locations are located in the southern quadrant (Northwest State Road 45), in the northwest quadrant (U.S. Highway 441) and in the downtown area of the city.
   Residential burglaries or attempts have occurred at 24600 N.W. 188th Avenue, 18700 N.W. 243rd Terrace and 24500 N.W 172nd Avenue.  Business burglaries have occurred at Community Outreach, the High Springs Emporium, and the Great Outdoors Cafe.
   Although the Alachua County Sheriff's Office (ACSO) received a complaint Sunday night on the outskirts of High Springs, “There has been no uptick in burglaries being reported in the county area surrounding High Springs,” said Art Forgay, ACSO spokesperson.
   HSPD is taking several investigative measures to apprehend the person(s) responsible for these burglaries and encourage citizens to be vigilant and to report all suspicious activity to law enforcement.  Furthermore, HSPD officials ask that citizens take all preventive measures to ensure that they do not become a victim of a crime.
   Anyone having information about these incidents may contact the HSPD at 386-454-1415 or the Combined Communication Center at 352-955-1818.


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Alachua Man Dies in Two-Car Crash

ALACHUA – An Alachua man was killed in a two-vehicle crash late Friday night at the intersection of County Road 225 and County Road 1475, according to the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP).

The crash killed 30-year-old Christopher Thomashunis of Alachua, who was a passenger in a 2015 Hyundai Sonata driven by 31-year-old Luisa Adams. Other passengers were two one-year-old children. All individuals in the vehicle were from Alachua.

Adams was taken to UF Shands Emergency in serious condition and the children were taken to UF Shands Pediatric Emergency Room, also in serious condition. Christopher Thomashunis was pronounced dead at the scene.

The 18-year-old driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash, Chase Pinner, of Middleburg, Florida, also suffered injuries and was taken to UF Shands Emergency in serious condition.

According to FHP, Pinner was driving a 2002 Nissan pickup south on County Road 1475 approaching the intersection of County Road 225. The Hyundai Sonata driven by Adams was traveling west on County Road 225 approaching the intersection of County Road 1475. The front portion of Pinner's pickup collided with the right portion of Adams' Sonata.

Everyone in the Hyundai Sonata were either wearing seat belts or in car seats. It was not clear whether Pinner was wearing a seat belt.

The FHP report indicates the crash was not alcohol related, but the accident is still under investigation.

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Candidate Forum Held at Newberry City Hall

NEWBERRY – Newberry City Hall hosted an expansive political forum Tuesday, Aug. 2 in which several candidates for a number of elected positions spoke.

The forum was organized by various businesses in the area and moderated by Scott Costello, Alachua County resident and owner of Advantage Publishing.

Primary elections will be held Aug. 30 and the general election will be Nov. 8.

Florida State Senate, District 8 candidates Keith Perry (R) and Rod Smith (D) were both present, as were candidates for State Representative, District 21 Chuck Clemons (R), Wenda Lewis (R), and Tim Rogers (R).

Incumbent U.S. Representative Ted Yoho (R) attended, and his challenger Ken McGurn (D) was represented by Campaign Manager Bryan Eastman.

Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell (D) and challengers Lt. Jack Jacobs (R), and Zac Zedalis (D) were present at the event and again at a special debate held just for the Sheriff’s Office candidates Thursday, Aug. 4.

Alachua County Clerk of Court candidates J.K. “Jess” Irby and Sam Collins spoke, presenting their cases to succeed longtime Clerk of Court J.K. “Buddy” Irby.

Several Alachua County Board of County Commissioners candidates attended. Kevin Thorpe (D) is challenging Mike Byerly (D) for County Commission District 1. Larry McDaniel (D) is challenging Robert Hutchinson (D) for County Commission District 3, while Charles “Chuck” Chestnut IV (D) is running for re-election to County Commission District 5.

An Alachua County School Board race was also represented, as Juliun Kinsey is challenging current School Board District 2 member Eileen Roy.

Dozens of flyers, brochures and informational packets circulated during the event.

Mathew Burke, leader of Newberry Martial Arts and founder of veteran and family outreach organization Christian Adventure Network, spoke to help introduce candidates and spread news of his organizations’ upcoming events.

The purpose of hosting the event was to offer a platform for candidates to speak to citizens and share their beliefs and advocate for their cause. The forum’s structure gave each candidate one minute to answer questions raised by audience members.

Perry, the current House Representative of District 21, and Smith, a longtime former State Senator, are both running for State Senate, District 8. Smith said that too many politicians point fingers and blame each other rather than get something done. His platform is “responsibility matters.”

Clemons (R), Lewis (R), and Rogers (R), who are all running for State Representative, District 21, all have a similar conservative idealism.

Clemons believes conservative ideas result in the best solutions. Lewis is a large business owner as part of her family business, Lewis Oil.

Rogers is a pharmacist with the University of Florida Veterinary Hospitals and president of the Florida Pharmacy Association's board of directors.

McGurn, who is taking on current U.S. Representative Yoho, is a Vietnam veteran with a doctorate in real estate from the University of Florida’s College of Business. He said he is running for office to help unify the country.

Yoho’s background includes being a small-business owner. He earned his undergraduate degree in animal science and doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Florida.

The three candidates running for Alachua County Sheriff had different viewpoints on what success meant. Zedalis disagreed with Darnell that the Sheriff’s office was doing its best. He said, contrary to her claims, the department was not underfunded and needed to stop asking for money.

“We need get back to the basics,” he said. “You have people sitting in their offices making more than the people actually out in the field doing their job.” Zedalis is running on multiple promises, one of which is reducing the budget by nearly $4 million during his first year.

Darnell has over 30 years of law enforcement experience, however, bringing a large amount of familiarity to the table if re-elected.

Jacobs said he would boost services by cutting waste and red tape while also modernizing the agency’s technology.

Kevin Thorpe, incumbent Mike Byerly’s opponent in the County Commission District 1 race, said it is time for a change.

“Sixteen years is too long for anyone to be in office,” said Thorpe, referring to Byerly. “It’s time for new ideas, time for a change.”

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