Last updateSun, 23 Oct 2016 8pm


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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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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Waldo's July 4th Gala and Railroad Museum grand opening

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ANDREW FLOYD/Special to Alachua County Today

L-R: Rhett Harris and Waldo's Clay Brooker, a country/county-rock guitarist and singer, enterained most of the afternoon.

WALDO – Families gathered from Waldo and surrounding areas to tour the Railroad Museum and attend the first ever July 4th Gala in Waldo Park.

The Waldo Historical Society had been working to complete the museum display’s inside of the City’s train caboose. “We have a lot more to install in our museum, but we're still working on getting it ready for display,” said Lucy Roe Cook, who describes herself as “founding mother” of the Historical Society. She and Penny Dodd were co-founders of the organization, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Right next door to the caboose is a shaded city park with picnic tables and benches. The city planned this first ever gala celebration in the park, and Dodd said their organization rushed to be able to get the museum open in time for both events to take place simultaneously.

Children toured the museum first and then walked to the park next door and enjoyed the water slide, ate hot dogs and corn on the cob. The slide, which was paid for by the City of Waldo, was a big hit with the children.

The park's picnic tables were filled with children and their families, as well as other visitors, many of whom were enjoying a snack on a hot dog or butter-dipped corn on the cob.

Clay Brooker, Waldo country/country-rock guitarist and singer, entertained most of the afternoon. He was later joined by another local entertainer, Rhett Harris, in a rendition of “The Waldo Song,” a song written by a local musician.

A sculpture, created by former Waldo resident and master sculptor, Nick Biggins (deceased), was sent to the historical society from Biggins as a gift to the organization. A contest to name the sculpture was held through The Waldo Phoenix, a historical society newsletter. The winner of the “Name the Sculpture” contest, Heather Waugerman, of Waldo, was announced around noon. Her winning entry was “The Nails that Tie Us Together.” The sculpture was on display inside the museum throughout the event, and Waugerman received “a crisp $10 bill, a Waldo Historical Society calendar and one-year membership to the historical society as her prize.

Grand Opening gifts for children were handed out and raffle prizes of a railroad clock, furnished by Tom's Cypress, and two horseshoe/spike toilet paper holders, also created by the late Biggins.

According to a Waldo Historical Society handout, the red caboose was acquired by the City of Waldo from the Seaboard System Railroad (CSX Corp.) in 1986. “It serves as an inspiration for the annual Waldo Railroad Days held in April. Two historical markers located nearby give a brief history of the town and information about Waldo during the Civil War.”

Opening remarks were provided by Historical Society President Vera Mauldin and Vice President Charles Griffin. Following an invocation by Rev. Jim DuBois, Mayor Louie Davis addressed the crowd and told a story about how the caboose came to be in Waldo. City Manager Kim Worley took time to explain where everything was located and directed folks to the park's food tables. Other comments were provided by Historic Society Board Members Millie Keirnan and co-founder Lucy Roe Cook.

Cook, dressed in a patriotic red, white and blue top hat, conducted tours of the caboose and told stories about the various aspects of the museum and how it functioned.

Handouts were available which explained what each of the different train whistles meant and how they were used for communication to railroad flagmen. Another handout touted the various duties a conductor had to perform while on duty and followed up with a list of Firemen, Trainmen, Flagmen, Brakemen and Conductors throughout the years.

“It was a great way to celebrate the July 4th holiday in a small town,” said Worley. “We enjoyed the opportunity to help our city celebrate Independence Day and also to see all the hard work our volunteers are doing on behalf of our new museum.”

“The Waldo Historical Society meets every Tuesday and Friday at 14402 Northeast 140 Avenue in Waldo and,” said Dodd, “we welcome anyone who wants to stop by for a visit or get involved in any way in the Waldo Historical Society.”

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Micanopy celebrates with parade, fireworks and more

Micanopy  Parade crowd Barnett IMG 0764

RAINA BARNETT/Alachua County Today

Spectators line the historic streets of Micanopy on Monday morning to watch the 4th of July parade as it winds through town. Later in the afternoon, crowds gathered at the Micanopy ballpark for music, food and games as they anticipated the upcoming fireworks.

MICANOPY – The small, historic town of Micanopy, nestled between Ocala and Gainesville, brought in Independence Day with style with several events Monday.

The annual parade, showcasing the fire department, police department, stallions, old vintage cars, and Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty in the flesh, began at 11 a.m. with a fish fry hosted afterwards at the Micanopy Historical Society Museum.

Following a small dirt road off of U.S. Highway 441, further events were held at the Micanopy ballpark later in the evening.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m., country music, classic American food like shaved ice, cotton candy and hamburgers, and sports like soccer and Frisbee were enjoyed by local families.

Micanopy Middle School hosted concessions for the first time, teaching the students who volunteered valuable hands-on experience in a job-like environment.

“This is a great experience for the kids, and they’re really excited to be out here and in charge,” said Kristin Black, a teacher and volunteer leader at Micanopy Middle School.

A bounce house for children was free and the main attraction for many of the younger visitors.

Wendy Liopiros and her husband, Stefan, have been residing in nearby Reddick since they were children, and brought their daughter, Alena Sophia, to the event.

“We used to trick-or-treat around here,” Wendy Liopiros said. “And I’m really happy it’s not raining, my friend in Virginia said her 4th of July celebrations got rained out.”

Debbie Gomano, a Micanopy town administrator, gave tractor hay rides to children until fireworks started.

“This is my first time doing this,” she said. “I really love it, it’s so fun!”

The night ended with families gazing into the night sky as fireworks blazed in celebration of America’s 240th birthday.

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'Little Red Schoolhouse' quilt part of the Florida Quilt Trail

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HIGH SPRINGS – Suzie Ann Clark, a well-known area quilter, addressed the High Springs City Commission to announce the placement of a quilt block on the street side of the Historic High Springs Elementary School and Community Center. The building also houses the High Springs Historic Museum in which several quilts are hung in the hallways for display.

In addition to announcing the placement of the quilt, she took the opportunity to thank the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) for their help and support in producing the quilt.

“There are approximately 1,000 quilt blocks in 30 states and Canada,” she said. “It all started as a movement to paint quilts on the sides of barns and slowly progressed to being placed on city buildings as well.”

The quilt, entitled “Little Red Schoolhouse,” will become part of the Florida Quilt Trail, created in 2013 by Stephanie Metts of Trenton. The Florida Quilt Trail is linked to the American Quilt Trail Movement.

In addition to Trenton and High Springs, White Springs, Madison, Live Oak and other communities throughout Florida are joining the Quilt Trail. “Trenton has 17 quilt blocks and two more on their docket,” said Clark. “Little White Springs has 20 already and Madison and Live Oak are in the process of producing quilts as well.”

In conjunction with Trenton, a map of the tri-county area indicating each quilt block's location, along with a short history of each quilt block, is being produced. High Springs will be one of the locations listed in the brochure according to Clark. “Cities which have quilts have seen an overall increase of 20,000 – 30,000 visitors,” she said.

Talking specifically about the quilt in High Springs, the quilt design was first seen in New Jersey in 1870. “We thought it was appropriate considering the building was an old schoolhouse,” she said.

Regarding the quilts inside the museum, Clark said they would be changed approximately every six weeks to help keep the display fresh.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony and presentation of the history of the old schoolhouse building was held in conjunction with the Music in the Park event held at the building on June 19.

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