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Alachua Lions Club awards scholarship to Santa Fe High School student

W_-_Alachua_Lions_SFHS_scholarship  L-R:  Santa Fe High School student Marisa Richardson, Alachua Lions Club member Tommy Harris and Santa Fe High School Principal Bill Herschleb.

ALACHUA – On May 24, Alachua Lions Club members Tommy Harris and Gib Coerper attended Santa Fe High School’s end of year awards ceremony to award a $1,000 scholarship.  This year’s Lions Club scholarship was awarded to graduating senior Marisa Richardson.  Richardson was selected not only for her outstanding academic record, but also for her involvement in student activities and in the community.

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Alachua Youth Council visits State Capitol

W_-_City_of_Alachua_Youth_Advisory_Council_copy W_-_Alachua_Youth_Council_Tallahassee_4_copyPhoto 1: (L-R): Andrea Monday, Joni Perkins, Chad Osborne, Bennet Myers and Hollie New, members of the City of Alachua's Youth Advisory Council had a full day at the Florida State Capitol, visiting various government buildings and offices.

TALLAHASSEE – Members of the City of Alachua Youth Advisory Council traveled to Tallahassee on May 15 to learn about state government.  The group toured the Old Capitol Building, New Capitol Building, Florida Supreme Court, Florida League of Cities Headquarters and Florida Museum of Florida History, including a special viewing of the State Archives.  The students were accompanied by Assistant to the City Manager Adam Boukari, Charmagne Manning of the Deputy City Clerk’s office and City Commissioner Ben Boukari, Jr.

The students were appointed to the newly formed Youth Advisory Council by the Alachua City Commission during the May 7, 2012 city commission meeting. All of youth council members are students of Santa Fe High School.

The purpose of the youth council is to advise theAlachua City Commission on issues important to youth in the community and recommend policies and actions that promote youth involvement in the local government process

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Alachua Chamber of Commerce celebrates community and volunteerism

W_-_Chamber_banquet_2012Walgreens’ store manager David Flinchum accepts the Alachua Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award from Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper and Chamber President Jim Brandenburg.

ALACHUA – The room was packed to capacity for the Alachua Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet held Thursday evening.  The banquet featured award presentations as well as the ever popular silent auction.  And before the evening was over, outgoing President Jim Brandenburg passed the gavel to newly-elected President David Pope, and a new Board of Directors was installed.

Brandenburg presented a year in review accompanied by a video highlighting a variety of historical locations, landmarks and businesses throughout the community as they appeared years ago.

Alachua City Manager Traci Cain delivered a state of the city address, outlining achievements over the past year.  In spite of the economic downtown, and decreases in revenues, the city is in a strong financial condition Cain said, pointing to the most recent audit of the city’s finances.

Annually, the Alachua Chamber of Commerce names a Business of the Year.  Thursday, the Chamber bestowed that award upon the local Walgreens.  Accepting the award was David Flinchum, manager of the store located at the intersection of Alachua’s Main Street and U.S. Highway 441.

Presenting the award to Flinchum, City of Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper lauded Flinchum and Walgreens for their strong involvement in the community.

The local Walgreens routinely contributes to various school and community functions, and each Christmas provides at no charge photos of area children taken with Santa at the downtown Hitchcock’s Park.

The prestigious Officer of the Year award went to Jesse Sandusky, a detective and the public information officer at the Alachua Police Department (APD).  APD Chief Joel DeCoursey presented the award to Sandusky.

Volunteer of the Year was awarded to outgoing Chamber President Jim Brandenburg, who served as the longtime principal of Alachua Elementary, and retired at the end of the 2010-2011 school year.

Brandenburg handed over the gavel to incoming Chamber President David Pope.  Pope then conducted an installation of the 2012-13 Board of Directors and Officers.  The 2012-2013 Board of Directors are President, David Pope; Vice-President, David Flinchum; Treasurer, Sandy Burgess and Secretary, Bob Page. Board members include Marvin (Rack) Bingham, Jim Brandenburg, Bud Calderwood, Linda Rice Chapman, Julius Davenport, Crystal Hancock, Alan Hitchcock, Amanda Payne, Merrie Shaw, Jerry Smith, Ted Wilson and Gib Coerper, who serves as the city liaison.

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Relay for Life honors and remembers survivors, patients and victims

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The High Springs Civic Center was humming with activity last Friday evening and into Saturday morning as hundreds participated in the Alachua/High Springs 2012 Relay for Life.  It was a community affair as numerous teams comprised of local businesses, not-for-profits and individuals formed teams to participate in the annual event. One such group, the High Springs Yellow Bellied Sliders Bicycling Society, was on hand with plans to ride the track around the Civic Center and raise money for research and programs of the American Cancer Society.

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High Springs librarian Roberts retires after 40 years

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HIGH SPRINGS – The bare walls of Martha Roberts’ office reveal evidence of spaces where picture frames used to hang. Trinkets and gifts that once dotted the desk have been packed away and taken home. A room rich in memories cleared and left behind by the woman who affected so many lives.

After 40 years at the High Springs’ Library, head librarian Martha Roberts retired on Friday, April 27. In her honor, the City of High Springs dedicated the day to her, proclaiming it Martha Roberts’ Day.

“It’s been such a wonderful trip,” Roberts said.

Roberts started her journey in 1971 in a small, two-room building next to the Priest Theater.  With such small quarters, her office extended inside a closet. She worked 16-hour weeks as the only employee. Still, even with limited shelving, the library collection housed 300 books, said Phillis Filer, Roberts’ former supervisor.

The community dreamed of a real library, and it pulled together to make those hopes a reality. In 1976, Roberts said the town raised enough money between donations from Friends of the Library and the City of High Springs to start construction on property donated by Loncala Phosphate.

Roberts has fond memories of the move from the old space to the newly finished City of High Springs Library. Children from the town celebrated the day by forming a human chain and moving the books from one building to the next. By allowing the community to literally touch each book as the collection was moved, everyone felt like it was really their library, Filer said.

Ten years later, the City of High Springs gave the library property to the Library District. Roberts remembers this as one of the greatest and most challenging moments in her career.

Even though Roberts felt the library fought for its existence every year before merging with the Alachua County Library District, others in the community have different thoughts.

Filer said prior to that time, Roberts was the library.

“Sometimes I don’t think Martha really realizes the impact she’s had on the community and the library district as a whole,” Filer said.

Roberts believes the staff behind her made her years a success. If not for all the individuals and organizations in the community, she said the library would have never been a reality.

“I’ve just had a love of the people and a love of books,” she said.  “High Springs is my town.”

Roberts thought of the library as the “living room” of High Springs, where the people of her community could visit, hang out and explore the books offered. She said she’s always felt like High Springs was a big family, her family.

Even though Roberts never imagined herself as a babysitter, Filer said children in the community constantly flocked to the library to play games, participate in the summer reading program and involve themselves in other services available for youngsters. Many of the children learned important lessons from Roberts, Filer said, such as if he or she played with a game, it should returned to its designated spot.

The children Roberts read to during the library’s popular Story Hour years ago now have grandchildren coming to the library. She said they were really what inspired her to be a librarian. She used to work at High Springs Elementary for a reading program and part-time at the library, but the library always had her heart.

She knew she wanted to have an influence on the lives of children in her small town, helping them to have a safe place and to create fond memories of High Springs.

For Roberts, deciding to retire was the one of the hardest decisions she’s ever had to make. The library is updating to a new system, and she doesn’t want to learn everything over again.

“It’s a good time to bow out,” she said.

But she will still be around, visiting the library and participating in the same organizations. She will still be involved in the Garden Club, the Women’s Club, AARP, the High Springs Theater and her High Springs’ church, First Baptist.

“Martha put her whole heart into this place,” Filer said, looking around at the pale purple walls that were home to the woman that turned the library into what it is today.

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