Last updateWed, 22 Jun 2016 9pm


High Springs trash fee increase, decrease in services on tap

Buzz2012 HIGH SPRINGS – It is almost a certainty that High Springs residents will not see an increase in city levied taxes this year.  Last year’s millage rate of 6.15 mills will likely be maintained into the 2012-2013 fiscal year, unless changes are made during the final workshop, scheduled for Thursday, Sept, 13 at 3 p.m. or the first public hearing, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. the same evening.

The City previously advertised a tax millage rate increase to 6.39 mills, but over the past few weeks the annual budget has been reduced by $507,000 to a new total of $6,166,805.  But the reductions are coming at a cost, as the commission slashed line item after line item of the original budget.

Although residents may not feel the pinch of higher taxes, they will notice an increase of $2 per month in the cost of solid waste pickup fees after Oct. 1.  The additional charge is expected to garner the City approximately $40,000, which will help offset the budget amount.

Changes residents will more likely notice include a possible four-day work week at City Hall as hourly employees may see their work week – and their pay – reduced from 40 to 32 hours weekly.  If that budget reduction plan stands, City Hall will likely be closed on Saturday, Sunday and Monday of each week.

The commission has requested High Springs Finance Director Helen McIver to show them various amounts of across-the-board hourly employee reductions while not increasing the total budget amount.

That request was made by Commissioner Linda Gestrin during the Tuesday, Sept. 11 special commission meeting following comments by Vice-Mayor Bob Barnas that he would like to see the part-time position in the city clerk’s office, previously cut from the budget, funded.  The position, presently filled by a temporary employee, would disappear as of Oct. 1.

If an across-the-board pay cut goes into effect, City Hall is expected to remain open a full work week, but hourly employees will be paid less per week.

The pay cut would not affect police, who are represented by the Police Benevolent Association (PBA), with a new contract currently being negotiated, but would affect all other hourly employees.  One option expected from McIver is the percentage of decrease in hourly wages needed to maintain fire and police at full-time status.

The City is also reducing expenses by replacing its current health insurance plan by offering employees a “barebones” policy with a $2,500 deductible and no prescription coverage.  In order to have a better plan with more coverage, employees would have to pay the difference between $290.41, which is the amount the City has budgeted per employee, and the cost of one of the other plans, which would be $40-$150 more per month per employee.

If the proposed budget is approved following the first and second public hearings on Sept. 13 and 24, employees will no longer have access to compensatory time or overtime pay as overtime pay was not budgeted.  Salaried employees are not eligible for overtime pay and are required to work until the job is done.

Gestrin, vowing to stop compensatory time accrual, spearheaded a motion to end an employee’s ability to obtain compensatory time as of the end of this fiscal year, Sept. 30, and specified employees must use any accumulated compensatory time prior to Jan. 1, 2013.

During the Sept. 6 special commission meeting, Barnas suggested that $10,000 be transferred from the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) fund to the City to pay for a half-time executive director at approximately $17.25 per hour.

Commissioners approved the transfer pending the CRA’s approval, which was obtained from CRA members at their meeting, held immediately thereafter.

For last minute updates on the final budget to be presented at the Sept.13 first public hearing, visit

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How sweet it is …

W_-_Fudge_1_IMG_5029_copyOwners of Vintage Fudge are joined by family and High Springs Chamber of Commerce members and City officials as they open the doors to their shop.

HIGH SPRINGS – The proud owners of Vintage Fudge, Donnie and Shauna Lee Smith, were joined by well-wishers on Saturday, Sept. 1 as they cut the ribbon, opening doors to what may be the sweetest business in town.  The grand opening was celebrated by the Smiths and High Springs Chamber of Commerce President Sandra Webb as well as several City of High Springs dignitaries.

Following the ribbon-cutting, the Smiths served up samples of their tasty treats to guests.

Vintage Fudge is located at 90 North Main Street at the corner of Main Street and 1st Avenue in High Springs.  The shop is offering more than a dozen types of fudge, and promises to make special seasonal flavors as well.  It is expected to be open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.

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Hippodrome Theatre presents Tony Award–winning ‘Other Desert Cities’

GAINESVILLE – The Hippodrome’s 40th Anniversary season opens with one of Broadway’s most acclaimed productions of recent years, the Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tony award-winning “Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz. In a carefully manicured world of power and privilege, her story will rock one Hollywood family to its core.

Meet the Wyeths. A family that appears to have it all - wealth, political influence, and A-list connections. They are "living the dream" in Palm Springs, California. But their carefully crafted facade is on the verge of shattering when daughter Brooke reveals the impending publication of her "tell-all" memoir.

“Other Desert Cities,” is a richly satisfying exploration of the faultlines that exist between privacy, artistic expression, explosive family secrets, and the truth. This fast-paced production brings together an unforgettable cast of characters, razor-sharp wit, and a jaw-dropping plot twist. With crackling wit, razor-sharp one-liners, a fierce cast of characters, and a storyline that grabs you and won’t let go - “Other Desert Cities” is a "must-see" way to kick off the Hipp’s 40th Anniversary Season.

“Other Desert Cities” opens Friday, Aug. 31with reduced price previews Aug. 29 and 30. Showtimes are Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets on sale now at 352-375-HIPP (4477) and

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The buzz about honey bees

W_-_chappie_Bee_Alyssas_Visit_Day_IV_018_copyAlachua Mayor Gib Coerper, Earlea Bee and American Honey Queen Alyssa Fine shared a few minutes at Hitchcock’s Markets in celebration of National Honey Bee Day.

ALACHUA – The 2012 American Honey Queen, Alyssa Fine of Monongahela, Pennsylvania, recently made a stop at Hitchcock's Markets as a part of her promotion of National Honey Bee Day.

This event is held each year as a public service to educate the public on what each of us can do to help save the honey bee, the disappearing pollinators.

Alachua's Mayor Gib Coerper stopped by to enjoy some of the delicious food Fine prepared using honey. Mrs. Bill Irby also stopped by with her daughter to say “hi” to club mascot Earlea Bee.

Many have heard of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and other problems bees face each day as they go about pollinating the crops that provide most of the foods we eat.

When unwanted pests on our flowers or in our gardens are killed, the honeybees that ensure a crop each year are killed as well.

There are alternative methods to rid crops of unwanted pests without dumping poisons on the plants and in the air. Next planting season try spraying crops with cayenne pepper mixed in water or with flour to dust the crops. It keeps away the sucking insects, but allows the honey bees to do their job of pollination.

When bees visit the plants they pick up any poison and take it back to the hive where it can kill the larvae that is being reared to replace the older bees. According to scientists, the average life span of a worker bee is about 30 days or less.

Buying local honey helps the bees in the area and the beekeepers that spend their time and efforts to give the bees a safe place to live. In addition to the quality honey produced by Chappie McChesney’s bees, there are others as well, who have joined the Alachua County Beekeepers Club to learn more about the fascinating honey bee.

Visit the website of the newly formed North Central Florida Beekeepers Association to find a bee club near you. The members are always willing to help interested people get started as beekeepers or just share information that will help become a part of the solution to saving our bees.

Visit or give Chappie McChesney a call at 386-462-2637. If you find bees in your yard, he will come out and remove any honeybees free of charge.

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Mosquito borne Encephalitis detected in Alachua County

Buzz2012  ALACHUA COUNTY, FL – The Alachua County Health Department has detected mosquito borne diseases in its surveillance network. "Eastern Equine Encephalitis has been detected in a sentinel chicken." stated Anthony Dennis, Environmental Health Director of the Alachua County Health Department (ACHD). "The risk of disease transmission to humans and animals has increased. Citizens are encouraged to avoid exposure to mosquitoes."


DRAIN standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying.

  • DRAIN: water from garbage cans, house gutters, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
  • DISCARD: Old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren't being used.
  • EMPTY and CLEAN: Birdbaths and pet's water bowls at least once or twice a week.
  • PROTECT: Boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don't accumulate water.
  • MAINTAIN: The water balance (pool chemistry) of swimming pools. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.

COVER your skin with clothing and use mosquito repellent.

  • CLOTHING: If you must be outside when mosquitoes are active, cover up. Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and long sleeves.
  • REPELLENT: Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing. Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535 are effective. Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months.

COVER doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out.

Keep mosquitoes out of your house. Repair broken screens on windows, doors, porches, and patios.

Other Prevention Measures

  • Limit outdoor activity at when mosquitos are most active.  Avoid areas where there are a lot of mosquitoes.
  • Contact your local mosquito control agency if there is a significant mosquito problem where you live or work.
  • Fill in holes or dips in the ground that collect water.  Level the ground around your home so water can run off.
  • Stock your ornamental water garden with mosquito-eating fish (minnows, gambusia, goldfish, or guppies).
  • Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before applying a repellent to skin.  Some repellents are not suitable for children.
  • Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET are generally recommended.  Other EPA-approved repellents contain picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535.  These products are generally available at local pharmacies.  Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label.
  • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin or onto clothing, but not under clothing.
  • In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age-appropriate.  According to the CDC, mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of 3 years.  DEET is not recommended on children younger than 2 months old.
  • Infants should be kept indoors or mosquito netting should be used over carriers when mosquitoes are present.
  • If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to your clothing.  Again, always follow the manufacturer's directions.

Repellent Information

For more information, see the CDC's guidelines or the EPA guidelines.

For additional information, contact the Alachua County Health Department at 352-334-7930.

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