Last updateTue, 23 Aug 2016 6pm


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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Poll Workers Needed for Upcoming Primary and General Elections

GAINESVILLE – Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter invites registered voters to be a part of this year’s historic elections by working the polls. Poll Workers are needed for both the Aug. 30 Primary Election and the Nov. 8 General Election.

Poll Workers are the guardians of democracy. These are paid positions and training is required.

If you are registered to vote, able to speak, read and write the English language; have transportation to the polling place and Poll Worker training; are not a candidate whose name appears on the ballot; and can work at the polling place from 6 a.m. until after the polls close at 7 p.m., then we need you!

The duties and responsibilities of a Poll Worker include verifying a voter’s identification, address, signature and issuing the correct ballot; conducting the election in accordance with the law; providing assistance to voters as needed; and setting up and packing all voting booths, signs, and supplies on election day.

If you are interested in serving as a Poll Worker, please call the Supervisor of Elections Office at 352-374-5252 or you may fill in the Poll Worker application on our website at www.VoteAlachua.com

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High Springs Election Qualifying Period Reset

HIGH SPRINGS – The qualifying period to run for an open High Springs City Commission seat to be voted on Nov. 8 has been reset.

Candidates may qualify to run for election for Seat #3, currently occupied by Commissioner Sue Weller, by filing with the City Clerk for the City of High Springs during regular business hours from Monday, Aug. 15 - Thursday, Aug. 18.

The winning candidate will serve as commissioner for a three-year term.

Although the election was set by unanimous approval during the City Commission's June 9 meeting, a scrivener’s error in listing the qualifying period caused the City to start the process over again to correct the error and set a new qualifying period.

During the July 14 commission meeting, Mayor Byran Williams opened a public hearing to receive input from audience members on an ordinance amending the Code of Ordinances. Receiving no input from audience or commissioners, Ordinance 2016-07 was unanimously approved. The ordinance modifies the qualifying period for city elections from five business days to four to accommodate the city's four-day work week.

Commissioners also unanimously approved Resolution 2016-M, which set the dates of Aug. 15 – 18.

Incumbent Weller previously announced she was running for her seat again at this election.

Anyone interested in running for a City Commission seat must be a resident of the City of High Springs, be a registered High Springs voter and must specify the seat for which they are running.

Filing procedure is for prospective candidates to pick up a qualifying packet from the Office of the City Clerk and name a campaign treasurer. The candidate may act as their own treasurer, if they so choose. Candidates must then open a campaign account with a bank, pay their fees to the Office of the City Clerk and sign a statement attesting that they have read Florida Statutes, Chapter 106, which pertains to campaign financing.

The paperwork and one percent of their anticipated salary must be submitted to the City Clerk’s office by the end of the qualifying period.

Given that High Springs commissioners earn $6,000 annually, the fee would be $60, according to Parham.

Campaign finance reports must be filed by the treasurer each month. Parham said she provides a list for each candidate as to when their reports are due in her office.

If no one else qualifies by the close of the qualifying period, the incumbent will remain in her seat and no city election will be required, although state and federal elections will continue as planned.

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Relay for Life 2016 Team Captains Receive Commendations

W - Linda Hewlwett HS Antoine Sheppard FullSizeRender 9


Photo by TOM HEWLETT/Special to Alachua County Today


On behalf of the Alachua/High Springs 2016 Relay for Life, Linda Hewlett presents a Certificate of Appreciation to High Springs Police Department Lt. Antoine Sheppard for HSPD Team Captain Adam Joy.


HIGH SPRINGS – Three team captains for city-based teams, which participated in the 2016 Alachua/High Springs Relay for Life, received Certificates of Appreciation for their hard work during the event. The presentations were made at the beginning of the June 23 High Springs City Commission meeting.

Linda Hewlett, a member of the 2016 Relay Leadership Team, presented a certificate for City of High Springs Team Leader Courtney Odum. Recreation Director Robert Basford was on hand to accept the Certificate on her behalf.

A second Certificate of Appreciation was awarded to High Springs Police Department (HSPD) Team Captain, Sgt. Adam Joy. HSPD Executive-Operations Commander Lt. Antoine Sheppard accepted the Certificate on Joy's behalf.

A third Certificate of Appreciation was awarded to High Springs Fire Department (HSFD) Team Captain Lt. Kimberly Wilson. HSFD Lt. Kevin Pearson accepted the Certificate on Wilson's behalf.

“All of our team captains went the extra mile to get the word out to the public and raise money for cancer research,” said Hewlett. “We are very proud of their efforts and wanted to let them know in some tangible way,” she said of the commendations.

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Historic Grady House Damaged in Semi-Truck Crash

W - Grady House Honda and milk truck


PAUL REGENSDORF/Special to Alachua County Today


The Grady House, an historic landmark in High Springs, was damaged when the driver of a semi-tractor-trailer on U.S. Highway 27 made a right hand turn, hitting a parked car, a retaining wall and porch pillar before coming to a rest on the lawn.


HIGH SPRINGS – A vehicle and historic structure were damaged in the early morning hours of Saturday, July 9, by a semi-tractor-trailer traveling west on U.S. Highway 27.

A legally parked, unoccupied 2007 Honda CRV, owned by Lucie Regensdorf, was struck first, according to a High Springs Police Department (HSPD) accident assessment. “Thereafter, the semi made a hard right turn and subsequently struck a [block] retaining wall and the western portion of the Grady House Bed & Breakfast,” said HSPD Lt. Antoine Sheppard.

The driver, James R. Laughlin, Jr., Lake City, was cited for failure to drive within a single lane. HSPD initially estimated damages to the vehicle and property at over $15,000.

“The empty milk truck smashed into my wife's car,” said Grady House co-owner, Paul Regensdorf. “Then spun it [the car] around smashing it into the retaining wall in front of the Grady House. The truck [driver] then lost control and crossed the sidewalk in front of the Grady House, taking out the mailbox and obliterating the concrete retaining wall and railing.

“The truck then climbed onto the front yard at the Grady House, crashed into a pillar of the porch, moving it and damaging it, but not knocking it down, and then came to rest with the truck's nose almost against our front fence and the trailer across the front yard,” said Regensdorf.

The Grady House is a significant structure in High Springs. “Originally, the Grady House was a one-story bakery,” said Regensdorf. It opened as a railroad boarding house in 1917 following renovations to add a second story. “The house will be 99 years old this year,” he said, “and is listed on the National Historic Registry.”

Although Regensdorf believes his wife's car is “totaled,” the house will only need some relatively minor repairs. He is talking with structural engineers and others to make sure repairs are done properly to maintain the structural and historical integrity of the building. There were no injuries to the driver of the vehicle.

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