Thu02232017

Last updateMon, 16 Jan 2017 3pm

Alachua Public Services Center Under One Roof

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Photo special to Alachua County Today

 

City of Alachua elected officials and staff were joined be representatives from the construction and architect firms in turning the soil marking the official start of the project. L-R: Assistant City Manager Adam Boukari, City Manager Traci Gresham, Commissioner Gary Hardacre, Commissioner Ben Boukari, Jr., Vice Mayor Robert Wilford, Mayor Gib Coerper, Commissioner Shirley Green Brown, Concept Construction President Brian Crawford and Walker Architects Senior Designer Joe Walker.

 

ALACHUA – Construction began in August to ultimately combine the City of Alachua’s five public services divisions under one roof. Different divisions are currently housed separately, but often need to interact and communicate with each other directly.

When the new Alachua Public Services Operations Center is completed in July 2017, the facility will allow the divisions to be more efficient and provide a good home base for field personnel, say City administrators.

More than 30 personnel from the Water, Electric, Meter Reading, Facilities and Public Works Divisions will be housed in the facilities section, while main parts and infrastructure items will be located in the warehouse.

“We discussed this in our strategic planning meetings, and it's great to see it finally come to fruition,” said Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper. “They will have the materials, vehicles and equipment they need in one place, which should streamline their work considerably,” he said.

City Manager Traci Gresham agrees. “The facility is a great opportunity for the City to consolidate several operational locations that will encourage collaboration and realize operational efficiencies.”

The building, which will cost $4,026,911, is being built by Concept Construction, a Gainesville area builder. Walker Architects, another area business, designed the building.

“The new building will also be the primary facility for storm or disaster response for the City,” said Assistant City Manager Adam Boukari. “The city has in place very good response plans for storms or natural disasters. This facility will allow us to improve upon the plan and facilitate a more efficient response,” he said.

A Groundbreaking Ceremony took place on Thursday, Aug. 25, at the facility location, 13144 N.W. 104th Terrace, just off of U.S. Highway 441, in Alachua.

Mayor Gib Coerper, Alachua City Manager Traci Gresham, Boukari and Alachua City Commissioners were on hand to welcome various business leaders, members of area Chambers of Commerce, design and construction team members and interested members of the public.

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Exercising the Right to Play

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HIGH SPRINGS – The City of High Springs has been working diligently to improve its parks and playground equipment for the past few years. Its efforts to obtain grants to help pay for those improvements are bearing fruit.

City grant writers have submitted grant requests to the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP) to help bring playgrounds and playground equipment up to a higher, safer standard in High Springs.

An FRDAP grant in the amount of $150,000 has been awarded to the City, along with a 25 percent match by High Springs, to create a handicapped accessible playground at the Civic Center.

“Although anyone can use the playground,” said City Manager Ed Booth, “it will be designed as a state of the art facility to better accommodate anyone with physical limitations.”

This playground will extend the recreation area at the Civic Park when it is completed.

Three other FRDAP grants in the amount of $50,000 each have been awarded to the City to improve playground equipment at the Civic Center Recreation Center and Park located on U.S. Hwy. 441 between Northwest Second Street and Fourth Street; Catherine Taylor Park, located adjacent to Lee's Preschool on Southeast Douglas Street between Adams and Taylor Avenue; and Walter Howard Park, located on Northwest 13 Street and Second Ave.

The only remaining task to bring the first two parks up to standard is some rubber matting, said Booth.

Walter Howard Park improvements have not been started.

“We still need to go out for bid on that park,” said Booth.

The Land and Recreation Grants staff administers grants to local governments through the FRDAP and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. These are competitive, reimbursement grant programs which provide financial assistance for acquisition or development of land for public outdoor recreation. Eligible participants include all county governments, municipalities in Florida and other legally constituted local governmental entities, with the responsibility for providing outdoor recreational sites and facilities for the general public.

In addition to the FRDAP grants, the City was also recently awarded Suwannee River Water Management District grants to improve the city’s centralized sewer and water systems.

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Back to School in Alachua County

IBack to school Irby MG 1382  ALACHUA COUNTY – Students were back to the books, back to the buses and back to climbing the learning curve Monday morning  for the start of the 2016-2017   school year.
  While students may have prepped for a few days leading up to the start of school, teachers, administrators and the School Board have been at work for weeks and months in getting ready for and planning out the new year.
  Among the key dates on the calendar for this school year:
  Nov. 21 through 25 will mark the district’s Thanksgiving break;
  Dec. 19 through Jan. 2 will mark the winters break;
  March 20 through March 24 will be spring break; and
  June 2 will be the final day of classes.


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High Springs Commision Race Over as Weller Withdraws

W - HS Linda Jones

HIGH SPRINGS –Linda Jones will fill High Springs City Commission Seat #3, previously held by Sue Weller.

Prior to the end of last Thursday's qualifying period end time of 6 p.m., Weller withdrew her name, thereby leaving Jones with no opposition and the City with no need for an election.

Most recently, Jones was active on the City's Charter Review Board, which she said rekindled her interest in the workings of her city. She also has been active in the Edgemoor Home Owners Association.

Formerly a Gainesville resident, Jones moved to High Springs with her husband nine years ago.

“I used to attend many of the city commission meetings until other family-related duties took up more of my time,” said Jones. “Now I'm excited to be able to be more active again. I guess the Charter Review Board got my juices flowing again. I had to do more background research in order to recommend changes to the Charter. It was very interesting and exciting for me.”

Jones said she has no particular agenda except to help the City of High Springs move along smoothly and progress in ways in which the citizens want to see their city grow.

Jones' work experience has been in Gainesville with two different engineering firms. She worked her way up through the ranks during her 15 years at CH2M Hill, followed by 20 years at Jones Edmunds.

Husband Bob Jones was a teacher at Gainesville High School for 37 years. Both are retired now and are enjoying living in High Springs along with her son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.

“I know I have big shoes to fill with Commissioner Weller stepping down from her seat,” said Jones. “I have never served as a commissioner before, but I think the City is doing a very good job and I'd like to be part of that.”

Jones will be sworn into office during the November reorganization meeting.

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High Springs National Night Out a “great success”

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  HIGH SPRINGS – High Springs' National Night Out (NNO) was a major event for children and their families Tuesday, Aug. 2.  
Although the event was scheduled to run from 6 – 8 p.m., several hundred people began showing up at 5 p.m. and children's face painting had to be stopped at 8:30 p.m. due to lack of light.  
  “It was a great success,” said High Springs Police Department Sgt. Adam Joy, the event organizer.  “A lot more people came out this year.  The High Springs Country Inn donated 400 bottled water and Gatorade drinks, but we ran out and had to get more.”
  He estimated more than 500 people flocked to Citizen's Field to take part in NNO fun and games.
  According to the National Night Out website, this event is an “annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, better places to live.”
  NNO is held the first Tuesday of August in neighborhoods across all 50 states, United States territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide.
“Several civic clubs, organizations and businesses donated time, money and effort to make this a memorable night for kids and their families,” said Joy.
Game booths were set up by the GFWC High Springs New Century Woman's Club and Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe with prizes awarded to participants.  The High Springs Masonic Lodge took photos and created free identification cards for kids.  Global Impact Charities gave away school supplies.
  Kids were treated to free hamburgers, hot dogs and buns provided by the High Springs Police Department, the Woman's Club and Winn-Dixie Supermarket.  The High Springs Fire Department and the High Springs Lions Club handled grilling duties.
Jumping Jack Bounce House and jumbo slide were provided by the High Springs Chamber of Commerce and were available for kids with energy to burn.  The Chamber also set up a coloring table for kids to color and play, while music was provided by Music in the Park's Michael Loveday.
  Gift certificates for raffle drawings were provided by Alice's Parkside Restaurant, Great Outdoors Restaurant and Pizza to Go.
Fire trucks and police cruisers were provided for kids to crawl through and see up close.
“All in all,” said Joy, “it was a great success and the kids really seemed to have a good time.”


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