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Last updateWed, 30 Nov 2016 11pm

Annual Masonic Lodge Widows Luncheon

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Photo Special to Alachua County Today

High Springs Masonic Lodge hosted their Masonic widows on Saturday, March 12th, with a luncheon in their honor. L-R: Angie Hargrove, Thelma Gillis, Worshipful Mike Hinson, Dot Reeves, Verdelia Elbon, Wanda Kemp and Mildred Copeland.

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O'Leno State Park to host chili cook-off and springs celebration

ALACHUA COUNTY – Alachua County Environmental Protection Department, Florida State Parks, and The Friends of O’Leno invite citizens to the O’Leno Ole’ Chili Cook-Off (from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and Springs Celebration (from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), on Saturday, April 2 at O’Leno State Park (410 SE O’Leno Park Road).

Admission to the park is free with the donation of one can of food per person to benefit a local food bank.

The event includes: a chili cook-off, live music with the Weeds of Eden, Water Ventures interactive display, a guided walk, children’s activities and environmental and art exhibits. Chili tasting kits will be on sale for $5 and all proceeds assist the Friends of O’Leno, Inc., a non-profit organization with their mission of supporting the park.

“The Springs Celebration is a great event for learning how our actions are connected to the health of our springs, even when we live tens of miles away from them,” said Stacie Greco with the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department. “When we use a lot of water and fertilizer on our farms and yards we may be harming the springs of the Santa Fe River.”

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Status quo as LaCrosse cancels election

LACROSSE – Three members of LaCrosse’s town council will keep their seats after they were unopposed for an election that was scheduled to take place on March 8.

Mayor Dianne Dubberly, Vice Mayor Tom Ewing and Councilwoman Jennifer McLendon will each be returning to office.

Dubberly said no other candidates qualified to run for those seats.

“We’re a small town and really getting people to serve is not the same as it is in a large town,” she said. “When you’re a town council person, it is not unusual not to have any opposition when your term ends.”

McLendon said the town's efforts to advertise the elections included a Facebook page, a notification on LaCrosse’s website and newspaper advertisements.

“I was also passing it around word of mouth as well,” McLendon said.

She said she believes the lack of participation is due to a general apathy toward local government.

“In towns this size, it’s very common not to have elections because there’s not enough people to generate interest in the election,” she said.

The only time she recalled a turnout of more than five to six people at a council meeting was during discussion over LaCrosse’s fire department.

“But, as for day-to-day governing, there’s not a whole lot of interest.”

The council members will be sworn in for another two year term in April.

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Alachua Prevails in Lengthy Lawsuit

ALACHUA – The City of Alachua has prevailed in a seven-year litigation with the developer of the Heritage Oaks commercial and residential development adjacent to Santa Fe High School on U.S. Highway 441.

“On March 9, less than 24 hours after presenting its argument before the First District Court of Appeal, the City received an opinion upholding the final judgment rendered in favor of the City by the trial court,” said Alachua Assistant City Manager Adam Boukari in a press release.

The case has undergone several twists and turns, including the City's appeal of the original results of a jury trial in which $3.9 million was awarded to developer John Curtis, Jr. on the grounds that the City interfered in the development of the subdivision.

Curtis was forced to abandon the project after the City banned him from working on the subdivision.

In the case, Heritage Oaks residents were able to show the damages that had occurred to their homes since he left the project, noting sagging roofs and unpaved roads as some of the issues that the development faced, according to reports.

Curtis alleged the city breached contract and interfered with the development. The trial called attention to issues relating to quality of construction, such as improperly paved roads. Photos at the trial showed that wastewater pipes had been repaired using duct tape.

According to reports filed by the court, Judge Hulslander set the jury verdict aside and called for an appeal because he felt that the City did not interfere with the construction, said David Theriaque, attorney for the City handling the lawsuit.

“He believed the jury verdict form was flawed and that a new trial needed to be held,” Theriaque said at that time. “It invalidates the $3.9 million jury verdict.”

The judge then made a summary judgment in favor of the City, which was upheld March 9 by the Florida District Court of Appeals after they heard attorneys from both sides present their cases.

“The City is pleased with the Court's decision and the conclusion of the lawsuit,” said Boukari.

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High Springs Police Department Chaplains sworn in

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Photo special to Alachua County Today

HIGH SPRINGS – Following a program instituted by previous High Springs Police Chief Jack Anterio, two police chaplains were sworn in by current High Springs Police Chief Joel DeCoursey to serve members of his department.

Pastor Derek Lambert of the First Baptist Church of High Springs and Evangelist Jessica Hall were sworn in at a ceremony that took place during the High Springs City Commission meeting last Thursday.

In addition to commissioners and audience members, High Springs Police Department Executive Lieutenant Antoine Sheppard and Chaplain Program

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