Last updateWed, 28 Jan 2015 11pm


Santa Fe's Bednarek signs with Jacksonville University

W - Bednarek JU Group SigningCenter: Surrounded by family, friends, teammates and coaches, Matthew Bednarek signs his National Letter of Intent to play for the Jacksonville University Dolphins

ALACHUA – Santa Fe High School senior Matthew Bednarek has signed his National Letter of Intent to play football at Jacksonville University (JU).

Bednarek, who graduates from Santa Fe in June, will major in marine science and will move to Jacksonville in early August to start working out with the JU Dolphins. Bednarek was starting offensive lineman and left tackle, and assisted in earning a winning season for the Santa Fe Raiders.

Family members credit Santa Fe Head Football Coach Bill Wiles for being instrumental in molding Bednarak into a well-rounded student, player and teammate. He has been an honor and Advanced Placement student since starting his high school career, and his GPA currently stands at 4.3.

Matt expressed thanks to his parents, Nancy and Tom Bednarek of Alachua, his family, coaches, friends and school administrators for all of their support throughout his high school career. He attributes his faith and strong community support as having been and will continue to be key to his success.

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Thousands in unused equipment at HSPD

ALACHUA – An independent review of the High Springs Police Department (HSPD) has revealed thousands of dollars wasted on computer equipment.

A list of computer equipment purchased by the High Springs Police Department was provided to commissioners during the April 10 commission meeting. Items listed as still in the box or out of the box but not in use totaled $11,622. Items characterized as unnecessary and greatly out of character with remaining equipment totaled $11,354.

After explaining why the money could have been better spent, the report was summarized, “...if the department had made more reasonable purchases for the laptops, and kept the existing, functional keyboards, hard drives, and operating system, the department could have easily saved $6,800. These savings, paired with the unused hardware/software...would have equated to total savings of over $18,000 to the department.”

The review of the status of the HSPD was recently conducted by the Florida Police Chief's Association. Retired Chief William A. Liquori interviewed officers and visited each department as part of his assessment process. A written report detailing his findings is expected to be received by the city this week.

In a related matter, City Manager Ed Booth delivered an interlocal agreement to Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell on April 14, which would allow county personnel to assist the city by conducting an independent audit of the city police department evidence room. The audit was originally scheduled to begin on Tuesday, April 15, but was changed to April 16. The audit could take as long as one month to complete according to Art Forgey, Public Information Officer, Alachua County Sheriff's Office.

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City testing emergency notification system

HIGH SPRINGS – On the heels of citizen complaints that some people were not aware of the “Boil Water Alert” when it was issued by the city a couple of weeks ago, staff has started using an alert service called Nixle. Approximately 100 citizens who already had Nixle activated on their cell phones received a text message when the city sent out notification of the temporary road closing on Main Street on April 8.

Although the city is using the free alert system at this time, it is limited to notification via text and email alerts only. The paid version, which will cost approximately $1 per citizen, according to High Springs Fire Chief Bruce Gillingham, would also enable the city to send recorded messages directly to home telephones as well.

While consideration is being given to switching to the paid system at some point, anyone with the ability to receive a text or email message may sign up for the free service right now. There are two ways to sign up.

If signing up on a cell phone, residents may type 888777 where the address of the person being texted would normally go. The body of the message should contain the zip code for the area in which the sender lives. Once the Send button is hit, a message will be returned from Nixle indicating a successful contact.

If signing up via computer, residents may either go directly to or to the city's website at and follow the directions to complete the sign up process.

“Citizens need to be proactive and sign up for the service if they want to receive notifications in this manner,” said Gillingham. The sign up process takes five minutes and is easy to do.

The cost to the city for the initial set up of the paid system, should they decide to switch to it at some point, is $6,400 the first year and $4,900 thereafter, according to Gillingham, who has researched the Nixle service on behalf of the city.

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Veterans parking woes eased

HIGH SPRINGS – Veterans and others with physical limitations will have an easier time getting around in downtown High Springs in the future due in large part to a grant in the amount of $4,000 from The Home Depot® Foundation.

IRISHWATERDOGS WARRIORS (IWDW) Outreach Program, located at 45 NW 1st Ave., recently received the grant through Home Depot's Community Impact Grants Program. The money will be used to help provide two handicapped-accessible parking spots near the IWDW storefront location.

“We are excited to be able to undertake this project to ensure the safety of our wounded veterans,” said Karen McInerney, Community Outreach Director, IWDW. “We were delighted to receive the grant and our veterans are grateful to The Home Depot® Foundation for caring enough about them to help out in this way.”

The IWDW Outreach Program works with veterans suffering with physical and mental injuries. Their therapeutic kayaking program helps keep returning veterans physically active and engaged with their peers and encourages family participation as a way to strengthen family bonds.

“The Home Depot® Foundation is committed to ensuring that every veteran has a safe place to call home,” said Kelly Caffarelli, President, The Home Depot® Foundation. “We are proud to work with IRISHWATERDOGS in our efforts to give back to those men and women who have so bravely served our country.”

Through Team Depot, the company’s associate-led volunteer program, thousands of Home Depot associates volunteer their time and talents to positively transform neighborhoods and perform basic repairs and modifications to homes and facilities serving veterans with critical housing needs.

Since its formation in 2002, The Home Depot Foundation has granted more than $340 million to nonprofit organizations improving homes and lives in local communities.

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Land development codes may change

HIGH SPRINGS – On April 10 City Manager Ed Booth reported to the city commission that he has asked Scott Koons of the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council (NCFRPC) to review the city's current Land Development Code (LDC) with an eye toward eventually revising it. Land development codes generally guide various planning and development matter such as zoning, subdivision regulations, signage and landscaping.The current LDCs were modeled after one that had been devised for a larger city with a more urban population. Booth favors LDCs tailored more specifically to the size and type of population in High Springs.

NCFRPC representatives are expected to attend a meeting in May to talk about the process of updating the LDCs. Although Booth said the city has been able to accommodate the developers' needs so far, he said he can foresee situations in which there may be confusion and would like to address those issues in advance through the LDCs.

Revising the city's LDCs may take as long as 18 months to complete, explained Booth, as the process generally requires meetings with the public, revisions, more meetings and more revisions until a final draft of the LDCs are approved by the city’s planning board. Following their approval, the document is then sent to the city commissioners for their review and final approval.

Suggestions to combine the planning board with the commission for public input and review may be possible, said Booth, in order to speed up the process. However, NCFRPC will most likely advise the city whether that can be done according to state regulations.

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