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ALACHUA ‒ The crack of the bat, the cheers from the crowd, and the smell of freshly cut grass filled the air as the Babe Ruth 38th Opening Day Jamboree kicked off on Saturday. Good weather and a full schedule of baseball drew crowds to the much-anticipated opening day of the season at Alachua's Hal Brady Recreation Complex World Series Field.

Babe Ruth Baseball is one of the largest and most respected youth baseball organizations in the world. Catering to players ages 4 - 18, the program offers a range of divisions suited to players of all skill levels, from T-Ball for beginners to the elite Cal Ripken Major/70 division for experienced players.

The jamboree, which brought together young athletes from various schools and communities, was designed to foster sportsmanship, teamwork, and healthy competition. All teams participated from Tball to Seniors (13-15). Afterwards, games were played throughout the remainder of the day.

Ben Boukari served as the jamboree emcee, offering enthusiastic commentary highlighting the determination and skill of the young athletes. Dignitaries present for the opening ceremony were City of Alachua Commissioners Shirley Green Brown and Ed Potts. Also attending were Alachua Police Department Sgt. Hunt, Recreation & Culture Assistant Director Stephanie McDonald and Crew Leader Jack Hansen as well as Parks & R.E.C Director Jennifer Applebee. High Springs Police Chief Antoine Sheppard attended representing the City of High Springs.

“The Babe Ruth opening day celebration is an exciting and fun experience,” said Commissioner Brown. “It’s always a pleasure to see the children.”

Al Beckelheimer Jr., received the “Hal Brady Award” for his service to the community. Beckelheimer served as president of the league during the 2014 World Series when the local boys team came in third place. Also, before becoming president, Beckelheimer volunteered as a league advisor, player agent and vice president.

“Thank you to all the volunteers how put in countless hours for the event,” said City of Alachua Recreation & Culture Department Director Damon Messina. “Santa Fe Babe Ruth’s Will Moore and his board did a great job.”

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ALACHUA ‒ The Alachua Chamber of Commerce welcomed members and guests to a social gathering touted as the Big Alachua Social Hour, or B.A.S.H., last Thursday evening.

Hosted by the Good Life Station Smart City Café at 14933 Main Street, guests were treated to the strains of a strolling violinist, refreshments by Susie’s Homemade and a sneak peek at the high-tech informational displays throughout the building.

Billed as an unforgettable evening of discovery, the Chamber promised delectable treats fresh from the oven to cutting-edge technology demonstrations, and the evening did not disappoint.

While currently open on a limited basis, the Good Life Station has targeted an early April official opening. The new business will feature a tourist information center, community center and coffee shop. Co-owner Michele Lee said, “Our digital assets are meant to be a community hub…to show of the history of this community and the events that are happening in our community.”

Thursday’s event was well attended and drew a diverse crowd of business leaders and owners, as well as the public. Under beautiful skies in concert with mild spring weather, tables decorated with spring flowers were set up outside the storefront business for guests to enjoy food, drink and conversation.

Inside, a veritable cornucopia of sandwiches, sides, and desserts prepared by Susie’s Homemade awaited for guests to sample. The gathering served as a platform not only to highlight a new business joining Main Street, but also to foster connections and partnerships among attendees.

Alachua Chamber of Commerce President Adam Boukari offered a warm welcome, expressing gratitude for the strong turnout and underlined the organization's commitment in supporting local businesses and driving economic growth.

“We are thrilled to see so many familiar faces and new friends joining us this evening,” said Boukari. “The Alachua Chamber is dedicated to serving as a catalyst for prosperity in our community, and events like this provide an invaluable opportunity for collaboration and innovation.”

After the event, the Good Life Station released a statement, “The networking event by Alachua Chamber of Commerce was a success! Susie's Homemade was welcomed with open arms and we are lucky to have her on Main Street.”

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NEWBERRY ‒ In the aftermath of a shooting incident that left a Newberry High School senior dead, law enforcement is searching for answers. According to information provided by The Alachua County sheriff’s Office (ACSO), around 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 23, 2024, ACSO deputies responded to a report of a shooting near 100 N.W. 253rd Street in Newberry.

Upon arrival, deputies spotted an adult male suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. ACSO Deputies rendered medical aid until the victim could be transported by Alachua County Fire Rescue. The victim was later pronounced dead at an area hospital.

The man was later identified on Monday as 18-year-old Jermaine Godbolt, a senior at Newberry High School.

The circumstances surrounding the shooting remain unclear, and authorities are seeking assistance from individuals who may have witnessed or heard anything relevant to the case

As ACSO officials appeal to the public for any information that may assistance in their investigation, they encourage people to contact them at 352-955-1818. Callers can remain anonymous by contacting Alachua County Crime Stoppers Inc at 352-372-STOP (7867), or by downloading the Crime Stoppers P3 Tips app or visiting https://www.stopcrime.tv/

The investigation is ongoing at this time.

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Front L – R: Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper, Finance and Administrative Services Director Robert Bonetti, Accounts Payable Specialist Katelynn Bayles, Accounting Manager Heather Carter, Accounting Manager Tyler Williams, City Manager Mike Daroza. Back L-R: Commissioner Ed Potts, Commissioner Shirley Green Brown, Vice Mayor Dayna Miller, Commissioner Jennifer Blalock. Not Pictured: Senior Accountant Regina Reed

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ALACHUA ‒ The City of Alachua has been honored for the 13th consecutive year with an award for excellence in financial reporting. The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) awarded a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to the City of Alachua for its Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR) for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2022.

In order to be awarded a Certificate of Achievement, a government must publish an accurate, easily readable, and efficiently organized annual comprehensive financial report. This award is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting.

The audit report must satisfy generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), applicable law, and GFOA requirements. Members of the GFOA Special Review Committee must unanimously recommend the awarding of this certificate.

Alachua City Manager Mike DaRoza credits the City’s dedicated team of financial professionals for their unwavering commitment to accuracy and accountability. Alachua Finance and Administrative Services Director Robert Bonetti garnered praise from both City staff and City Commissioners for his team leadership, tireless efforts and dedication to excellence.

“This is not the first, second, tenth or twelfth time this award has been given to the City of Alachua,” said DaRoza. “This is the thirteenth consecutive year the City has achieved this prestigious award.”

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HIGH SPRINGS – A family in High Springs awoke to smoke and flames when a candle that had been left burning began to spread through a bedroom in the home. According to a statement from local fire officials, the blaze erupted during the early morning hours of Saturday, March 23. Thankfully, the homeowner had a fire extinguisher and was able to bring the fire under control before the arrival of firefighters.

Once on scene, firefighters ventilated smoke out of the home and conducted “overhaul” operations, where crews sifted through the area the fire started in to ensure the fire was fully extinguished and had not spread elsewhere in the home.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), during the five-year period of 2018-2022, candles were the second leading cause of bedroom fires and fifth leading cause of living room fires, as well as the eighth leading cause of all home structure fire civilian injuries.

U.S. fire departments responded to an annual estimated average 5,910 home structure fires started by candles during that same time period. These fires cause an annual average of 74 civilian deaths and 558 civilian injuries, as well as $257 million in property damage. The rate of 94 injuries per 1,000 reported candle fires was nearly three times the rate for all home structure fire causes.

Half of all candle fires started when a flammable piece of décor – such as furniture, mattresses, bedding, curtains, home decorations, paper, or clothing – was too close to the lit candle. In 21 percent of home structure candle fires, the candle was either left unattended, discarded, or otherwise misused. 

Over one-third of candle fires (36 percent) started in the bedroom. Sleep was a factor in 10 percent of home structure candle fires, 15 percent of candle fire deaths, and 18 percent of candle fire injuries.

Authorities are now urging heightened vigilance and adherence to safety protocols to mitigate the risks associated with candle usage. The High Springs Fire Department reminds the public to blow out all candles before leaving a room or go to bed, and to keep exits clear and unlocked.

Items that block doors and windows in a home could keep occupants from escaping in the event of a home fire and could mean the difference between life and death. Start by identifying two escape routes out of each room, if possible, and then make sure that each of those escape routes can be used safely by everyone.

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NEWBERRY ‒ In recent months the City of Newberry implemented a new program to help their customers more accurately monitor water and electric utility usage. The system, which is called Advance Metering Infrastructure, or AMI, can communicate with the City’s front office for more accurate meter reading while also communicating with the customer to help them monitor their usage.

“Results have been amazing,” said City Manager Mike New. “I have 39 years in the industry and this is clearly the best, most successful endeavor that I have ever been associated with.”

New shared information provided by Utility Customer Service Manager Tammy Snyder that highlights the success of the AMI program.

“We have had 534 contacts for leaks or high-water consumption for the period of Jan. 1, 2023 – Jan 1, 2024,” said Snyder. She said she only reaches out to customers three times. After the third notification Snyder discontinues notifying the customer until they reach out to the City.

“When a leak occurs, AMI enables us to become aware within hours so that we can advise our residents. Using traditional meter reading techniques, it typically takes 45 – 75 days for a leak to become apparent,” said Snyder. “During that period of time, we can waste a substantial amount of water and the customer incurs significant charges. AMI genuinely greatly helps our customers save money on their utility bills.”

Based on her observation, Snyder said 85 percent of the leak notifications are for leaking toilets and/or leaking irrigation systems. “There is a very small percentage of the remainder that are leaking meters (less than 2 percent) while the remainder are simply people using their irrigation systems or other legitimate usage, i.e., left a hose running, filling up a pool or left a spigot on.”

For customers who have experienced a water leak, there is help. For those who have legitimate leaks, the City requests the property owners bring in documentation indicating the leak has been fixed. With that information, the City credits the wastewater usage amount.

In the past, the City used a three-month average to “guess” the credit and it would take up to two months to get the customer a correction. “AMI provides us with more accurate information which we use to compare usage patterns and provide corrective bills in a timelier manner.”

As an example, Snyder mentioned a customer whose usage went from 5 kgal to 14 kgal, resulting in a bill increase of $167.51 for the month. Unfortunately, the leak was gradual, so it did not reach the threshold for the City to catch it.

“When the customer came to pay her bill she questioned why her bill had increased so much,” Snyder said. “Upon investigation, we determined she had a leak and provided her with the blue dye tablets to check her toilets,” said Snyder. “The customer called and reported she checked her toilets, and they were not leaking. We did some other trouble shooting and ended up sending crews to check the meter. It was determined the meter was not leaking.”

Snyder said the customer had a plumber come out who found the leak and made a repair. “The customer provided the plumber’s receipt on Feb. 5 and a corrective bill was created within an hour,” said Snyder. “The customer now has a credit of $42.46, which is huge because this customer is on disability and only gets paid once a month.”

“Ultimately, we did it [implemented AMI] to benefit our residents, so that they could make decisions that would save them money and serve them better,” said New. “It’s been amazingly successful so far, and we plan to build on our system for bigger and better services for our customers.”

The AMI installation began in May 2022 and was completed in September 2022.

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TALLAHASSEE, FL - Looking for a way to show your support of Florida panther conservation? Consider getting the newly designed Protect the Panther license plate whether you are renewing your Florida plates or licensing your car in the state for the first time.

Staff with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) worked with photographer Carlton Ward and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida to design the new plate. The latest design features a stunning photograph taken by Carlton in 2018 depicting a well-known panther — the first female documented north of the Caloosahatchee River since 1973 and also the first female documented to have had kittens north of the river in over 40 years. The Caloosahatchee River has long appeared to be an obstacle to the natural expansion of the population, including the northward movement of female panthers.

The new license plate can be purchased at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles or by checking with your local tax collector office for availability. When renewing vehicles, Florida motorists can exchange their old plates for the new Protect the Panther plate by going in person to your local tax collector office or the FLHSMV. At this time, the new plates are not available through online renewals but can be purchased in person.

Fees from the Protect the Panther license plate go directly into the Florida Panther Research and Management Trust Fund, which is a critical source of funding for the state’s panther-related research, monitoring and conservation efforts. The long-term public support of this fund has had a direct positive impact on the FWC’s management and research efforts, resulting in timely, science-based information needed to guide current and future conservation actions for Florida panthers. The FWC and conservation partners have made significant progress with panther recovery and the FWC’s panther program relies upon sales of the license plate to continue these conservation efforts.

Florida panthers are native to the state, with the majority of panthers found south of Lake Okeechobee. Florida panthers are listed as an Endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act. There are approximately 120-230 adult panthers in the population.

Purchasing a Protect the Panther license plate isn’t the only way you can help panthers. Drivers can also help by following all posted speed limits, particularly in panther zones, which are in place in several counties across south Florida to coincide with areas where panthers are known to cross. Panther speed zones help protect both Florida panthers and motorists from vehicle collisions and potential injury. You can also donate directly to the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida’s Florida Panther Fund to support the rehabilitation and release of injured panthers and help FWC staff and partners locate and protect panthers, including their dens and kittens.

To learn more about Florida panthers and the FWC’s work to conserve the species, visit MyFWC.com/Panther.

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~Suspect crashed ambulance and fled on foot after his photo was taken by in car camera ~

TAMPA, Fla.- Early this morning at approximately 2:00 a.m., a supervisor with American Medical Rescue (AMR), a private ambulance service, observed a vehicle that appeared to be involved in a crash located on the Interstate 75 (I-75) Southbound exit ramp to Interstate 4 (I-4) Westbound in Hillsborough County.

The supervisor, who was driving a Chevy Tahoe marked as a rescue vehicle, decided to check the welfare of the individual involved.

Rolling down his window, he asked if everything was ok. The driver of the crashed vehicle approached the ambulance and began throwing himself at the window, gaining access to the ambulance. Once inside, the subject started fighting with the ambulance driver and took control of the vehicle. The ambulance driver, fearing for his life, exited the vehicle and called 9-1-1.

FHP 3 22 2024 Ambulance Carjack SuspectWhile attempting to flee in the stolen ambulance, the suspect collided with a Nissan Altima on the ramp for Interstate 75 Southbound to Interstate 4 Westbound. As Deputies with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) responded, the suspect fled in the marked ambulance. The HCSO pursued the ambulance but lost contact with it and terminated the pursuit.

The ambulance's in-car camera system reported a vehicle crash at 2:09 a.m. and took a photo of the suspect inside the vehicle. The suspect fled the scene of the crash, and the ambulance was later recovered. 

The suspect is described as a white male who appeared to be under the influence of unknown drugs. To view video of the incident click here.

 

 Anyone with information regarding this incident or the identity of the carjacking suspect is asked to call *FHP (*347) or Crime Stoppers at **TIPS.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a milestone in Florida’s continuing economic success: Florida’s statewide unemployment rate has been lower than the national rate for 40 consecutive months. The national unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent for February 2024; Florida’s rate did not rise and outperforms the national rate by 0.8 percentage point. And while Florida’s private sector job growth rate increased by 2.3 percent (+194,200 jobs) over the year in February 2024, the national rate grew by only 1.6 percent over the same period.
  
“Florida continues to outperform the nation,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “We have proven that bold, conservative leadership across the board produces booming economic results—more jobs, lower taxes, less regulation, and fiscal security.”

“Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida continues to provide an economy for our residents that is primed for opportunity and secure for future growth,” said J. Alex Kelly, Florida Secretary of Commerce. “Florida’s strong talent pipeline and skilled workforce are the building blocks of Florida’s economic growth and stability. February’s economic data is more absolute evidence that Florida is on the right path.”

Florida’s economic data continues to indicate economic strength and confidence among Florida’s workforce as the state’s labor force grew by 2.0 percent (+217,000) over the year in February 2024, which is faster than the comparable national rate of 0.7 percent.

The education and health services sector gained the most jobs among all major industries, adding 57,500 jobs over the year. The trade, transportation, and utilities sector performed second best, adding 48,300 jobs. And importantly, leisure and hospitality (tourism) added 35,000 jobs.

Data in the month of February continues to indicate there are many job opportunities available for every Floridian who wants to work, with more than 443,000 jobs posted online. Floridians in search of work and new job opportunities can utilize the CareerSource Florida network for help. Floridians can find guidance on how to register with Employ Florida and search listings of available local job openings. Career seekers can also improve their employability by enhancing resume writing and interviewing skills, establishing career goals, and pursuing customized career training. These services are provided at no cost to job seekers by the State of Florida. 

To view the February 2024 jobs reports by region, please see below: 
•    Fort Lauderdale
•    Jacksonville
•    Miami
•    Orlando
•    Pensacola
•    Southwest Florida
•    Tampa
•    West Palm Beach

To view the February 2024 employment data, visit: https://www.floridajobs.org/workforce-statistics/workforce-statistics-data-releases/monthly-data-releases. 
  
Visit Florida Insight for more information on labor market and economic data. Additionally, the Department has provided a video to assist users in explaining the data provided through Florida Insight. 

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TALLAHASSEE, FL - The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is sharing the reminder that sea turtles are starting to nest on our beaches. Residents and visitors can play a big part in helping to protect vulnerable nesting sea turtles this spring and summer while visiting Florida’s coastal habitats.

Because our state’s shorelines provide important nesting habitat for several species of threatened and endangered sea turtles, beachgoers can have a significant impact on their nesting success. To help nesting sea turtles, people can take easy steps to protect them, including giving them space, minimizing disturbances and keeping beaches clean and dark.

Clear the way at the end of the day: Female sea turtles expend large amounts of energy crawling out of the surf and far enough up the sand in order to dig and lay nests in spots that are less vulnerable to the tides. Obstacles on the beach can entrap and prevent them from nesting as they crawl across the sand to lay their eggs. Trash, holes in the sand and other obstacles can also prevent sea turtle hatchlings from reaching the water once they emerge from their nests. Food scraps attract predators, such as raccoons and crows, that prey on sea turtle hatchlings. Litter on beaches can entangle sea turtles, birds and other wildlife. What can you do to help?  Properly stash or recycle all trash, fill in human-made holes in the sand, and remove all beach toys, gear and furniture from the sand before sunset. Fishing line can be deadly to sea turtles, waterbirds and other wildlife, so be sure to dispose of it properly. To find a monofilament recycling station near you, visit mrrp.myfwc.com.

Lights out: Any lighting can misdirect and disturb nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings, leading them away from the ocean and toward potential danger. To prevent this, beachgoers should use natural starlight to see when on the beach at night and avoid using flashlights or cellphones. Anyone living along or visiting Florida beaches can do their part by putting porch, parking or deck lights out and closing curtains after dark to avoid disorienting nesting and hatchling sea turtles on the beach. If lighting could still be visible from the beach, be sure it is long, low and shielded

Admire from afar: While it can be exciting to witness sea turtles on the beach, getting too close (50 feet or less) to nesting sea turtles can cause them to leave the beach before they complete the nesting process. If an animal changes their behavior, you’re likely too close. Remember – it is illegal to harm or disturb nesting sea turtles, their nests and eggs, or to pick up hatchlings.  

Sea turtles typically return to nest in March along Florida’s southeast Atlantic coast from Brevard County south to Broward County, while nesting begins on Gulf Coast or north Florida beaches in April or May.

For more information about nesting sea turtles and how you can help, visit MyFWC.com/SeaTurtle or see the FWC’s “Be a Beach Hero” brochure. Other ways to help sea turtles include reporting those that are sick, injured, entangled or dead to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

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TALLAHASSEE, FL - As the weather gets warmer across the Sunshine State, alligators are becoming more active and visible.

The American alligator is a conservation success story in Florida. Florida has a healthy and stable alligator population, which is estimated at 1.3 million alligators of every size. Alligators are found in all 67 counties, inhabiting all wetlands where there’s adequate food and shelter.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) works to keep Floridians and visitors informed and recommends the following precautionary measures near alligators, including in or near the water, to reduce the chances of conflict:

  • Keep a safe distance if you see an alligator. If someone is concerned about an alligator, they should call FWC’s toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286), and we will dispatch a contracted nuisance alligator trapper to resolve the situation.
  • Keep pets on a leash and away from the water’s edge. Pets often resemble alligators’ natural prey.
  • Swim only in designated swimming areas during daylight hours and without your pet. Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn.
  • Never feed an alligator. It’s illegal and dangerous. When fed, alligators can lose their natural wariness and instead learn to associate people with the availability of food. This can lead to dangerous circumstances for yourself and other people who could encounter the alligator in the future.

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 TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the first rescue mission from Haiti with evacuees who were otherwise unable to return home due to the ongoing political crisis in Haiti. Florida brought 14 Floridians home from Haiti to Orlando Sanford International Airport via emergency flights coordinated by the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Watch Governor DeSantis' remarks here.
“This is the second time that Florida has stepped up to ensure that Americans have a way out of an unstable political situation abroad,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “I am proud of the work we have done to get Floridians home and reunite them with their families. We will also continue to dedicate resources to prevent the flow of illegal immigrants from reaching our shores while the situation in Haiti deteriorates.” 
“Thanks to Governor DeSantis’ swift leadership, the Division is expediting resources to do whatever it takes to bring residents home while protecting Florida’s border security,” said Florida Division of Emergency Management Executive Director Kevin Guthrie. “We will continue to work with local law enforcement partners and run more flights to evacuate citizens trapped in Haiti.”

The Florida Division of Emergency Management will continue to lead efforts for additional flights bringing Floridians home. Upon landing in Orlando, citizens are able to access resources from multiple state agencies, including: 

  • Meals
  • Lodging
  • Transportation
  • Basic health and medical screenings
  • Care supplies for infants, toddlers, seniors and pets
  • Family reunification center 
  • Hope navigators and counselors
  • Children’s activity center
  • Florida License on Wheels (FLOW) center for replacement of identification
This effort follows Governor Ron DeSantis’ announcement earlier last week directing more than 250 additional law enforcement, Florida National Guard and Florida State Guard resources to the Florida Keys in preparation for an influx of illegal immigrants from Haiti.

Read Governor DeSantis' Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency and authorizing FDEM to execute rescue operations here.

If you or someone you know is a Florida citizen who is unable to leave Haiti due to the current situation, visit FloridaDisaster.org/Haiti to fill out a form to let us know. 

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Medication reconciliation is a term used in healthcare that describes the process of comparing a patient’s medication orders in a healthcare institution (hospital or nursing home) to what the patient has been prescribed and taking at home.

The purpose of this short column is to point out that many times patients are admitted to an institution, sometimes in an emergency, and it is difficult to determine what medications have been taken at home. Often when asked about their medicWilliam-Garst-HS.jpgations the response is “I take a blood pressure drug, a blood thinner, something for cholesterol, and something occasionally for arthritis pain.”

Just those four categories of medications probably describe several dozen, if not more, potential medications. What is needed is an exact listing of the medications with their dose (strength), how often they are taken, and when they are taken.

 

The perfect list of medications would be an official one from the patient’s primary care physician or provider. However, often what is presented at the institution is a handwritten list with the barest of information.

I am suggesting in this short column that a person, each time they see their primary care physician, request a current list of their medications with doses and instructions, to be printed for them or even emailed to them for reference in case of an emergency.

This list would also be helpful to take to their pharmacist for comparison to what the pharmacy has on file in their computer profile. In this way, the pharmacist could request a prescription to be there at the pharmacy before it is needed, if there have been changes to the drug, dose, or how often the medication is taken. In addition, the pharmacist may want to notify the primary care physician of other medications that have been prescribed that are not on the primary care physician's record.

This brings up another important aspect: sometimes other physicians (specialists or emergency department physicians) have prescribed medication for a patient and the primary care physician is unaware and would need to know this addition, even if temporary, for a complete listing of medications.

It is vital that medication regimens be accurate as patients transition between healthcare environments as a matter of safety and proper medication administration. Keep the list handy or scan it into your computer for ready reference.

I hope this column was informative; prosper and be in health.

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William Garst is a consultant pharmacist who lives in Alachua, Florida. He is semi-retired and works part time at Lake Butler Hospital in Lake Butler, Florida. William received his pharmacy degree at Auburn University and a Doctor of Pharmacy from Colorado University. The Pharmacy Newsletter is a blog where you can find other informative columns. He may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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The Editorial Board of Alachua County Today has rarely taken to endorsing candidates in local political races; however, there are times when it becomes necessary. Such is the case in the City of High Springs commission races scheduled for Nov. 7, 2023. Up for consideration are four candidates in two races. In Seat 1, electors in High Springs will have the opportunity to select between the incumbent, Ross Ambrose, and Andrew Miller. In Seat 2, voters will consider incumbent, Gloria James, and Steven Tapanes.

For many years, the City of High Springs experienced considerable political tumult, so much so that it created harsh divisions within the community. Over the last few election cycles, voters have managed to regain control of their commission, placing on the dais community-minded, non-partisan commissioners who have been focused on moving High Springs forward, into a more fiscally sound and responsible direction.

Tax increases are rarely, if ever, welcomed by the taxpayers, but tax increases are sometimes necessary. The City of High Springs, like every other small town, is feeling the financial pinch of inflation. We all feel the financial pinch of inflation. Without an increase in taxes this year, the City of High Springs would be setting itself up for financial straits in the years to come. Simply put, the City has to pay someone to fix water pipes, respond to emergencies, put out fires, and maintain the City’s infrastructure. That is to say nothing of the business of running the City. There is no doubt that there are some, including former commissioners, who want to sow divisions, but these efforts are not productive for the citizens.

Some candidates, and one commissioner, who is not up for election this cycle, have criticized the incumbent commissioners for approval of the FY 2023-24 budget, which did include an increase in the millage rate. It’s easy for one commissioner to sit by and criticize, without solution, a budget which she knows will pass while she avoids the political hit by voting against it.

To be sure, there is always work to be done on tightening the belt on government, reducing waste, and finding new and innovative ways to deliver governance and the services the citizens have come to appreciate and expect. The City of High Springs does not exist in a vacuum however, and for that reason, there are simply some economic conditions the City cannot avoid.

It is because of the work done by commissioners like Ross Ambrose and Gloria James that the City has reached a state of stability, a posture that is allowing the City to get its legs underneath it. After years of political disarray and infighting, the City is finally beginning to make headway on projects that hold great promise for the City of High Springs and its residents.

This is not the time to pull the rug out from underneath the commission and management. Instead, voters should reelect Gloria James and Ross Ambrose while encouraging them to seek common ground on budget issues, attempt to increase efficiency, and hold themselves and management accountable.

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I am writing in support of Ross Ambrose for High Springs City Commission. First let me say that I have nothing negative to say about his opponent, and I’m grateful that we have wonderful people willing to serve our great little town. That said, I have plenty of positive reasons to support Ross in this election.

I have known Ross for at 15 years as a neighbor and friend in town. Ross showed his commitment to this town for years by serving on city boards before he ever ran for office. He has always taken anything he does seriously and professionally and that goes for the City Commission as well.

Ross makes it his business to understand every issue and the effects of city, county and state law on the issue, and how everything works together. When he makes a decision one way or the other on anything, I expect that he has researched it thoroughly. I feel like I don’t have to understand everything little thing that comes before the city, because he literally does that hard job for us. He has run a successful business for 10 years and he understands fiscal responsibility as well as investment and looking at the big picture to prepare us for the future. 

Perhaps the biggest reason I support Mr. Ambrose is that he is truthful, even when the truth is not what I want to hear. My example is that I emailed him about the proposed Bridlewood subdivision, coming out strongly against it. Like many in High Springs, I love our small town, and the surrounding open spaces. I don’t want the town to be swamped with traffic and see the beauty around us turn into South Florida-style crowding and sprawl. I want to protect the springs at all costs. I would be very happy to see zero new large-scale subdivisions here.

Ross took the time to email me back and carefully explain how the property that was Tillman Acres/proposed Bridlewood was zoned for crazy-dense zoning many years ago, and that the City can’t undo that and could be subject to a lawsuit if we tried. He was hoping to get the most palatable deal out of a bad situation.

He also told me about several other subdivisions: one along U.S.441, one adjacent to Bailey Estates, where the City had refused to allow an up-zoning to higher density for all the same reasons I state above.

I believe Mr. Ambrose wants to preserve the unique character of High Springs, but is also realistic in knowing you have to play the hand you were dealt.

I went to a candidate forum and one of the other candidates said High Springs needs better infrastructure before any new development is allowed. That sounds great but isn’t always possible, for reasons like the one above and the need to find funding for said infrastructure. I know that Ross Ambrose leaves no stone unturned in looking for funding sources aside from local tax revenue. The effort he puts into this job is Herculean.

Frankly I think we are extremely lucky to have such a dedicated, knowledgeable and hard-working commissioner. 

Stacey Breheny

High Springs, Florida

An election will be held in High Springs on Nov. 7. There are two seats up for election. Since this is an odd-numbered year, the turnout will be poor. Every registered voter in the city needs to read up on the candidates; do the research to see what each is for, and vote.

Things have been running smoothly in the city for some time. Voting for someone merely because they are new is not a good idea.

Ross Ambrose and Gloria James do their homework, are knowledgeable and make decisions for all of High Springs. They are not driven by politics but by what they think is best for the city. For the good of the city, let’s keep them doing what they’ve done so well. Just remember that you need to vote.

Thomas R. Weller

High Springs, Florida

This letter is to express my support for Steve Tapanes and Andrew Miller for City of High Springs Commissioner.

I have watched several of the commissioner’s meetings on line and have noticed on several occasions that although the audience is jammed with people who are concerned about certain issues, that their concerns seldom make a difference in the decisions made because the decisions appear to have been made prior to the meetings.

I would like to see new blood on the board of commissioners as I feel the incumbents get in a rut and although they claim to have the best interests of the citizens in mind some of them don’t seem to be listening. The newer members seem to be the ones listening.

Steve and Andrew both have businesses in High Springs and I feel their freshness would more closely represent the majority of citizens’ current views.

It’s time for a change, time for the younger generation to have a say in what happens for High Springs’ future. Vote Steve Tapanes and Andrew Miller.

Leah Currier

High Springs, Florida

The High Springs Chamber of Commerce would like to send a special thank you to all our volunteers and local businesses who gave their time, talents, and treasures to bring our community together for the annual Fall Festival.

Please support these businesses and tell them thank you the next time you see them. Decades on Main & Renee;

Oliver & Dahlman; Thompson Flower Shop; The Birds Nest; High Springs Church of God; LifeSpring Church; Plantation Oaks Assisted Living & Memory Care; Dawn Cross, Photography; McDonald's in Alachua; Ronald McDonald House; Hardee's in High Springs; Hillary Cowart the Magic Man; Line Dancing Debbie; Bryan's Ace Hardware in High Springs; Winn-Dixie in High Springs; Fort White Garden & Produce; Jennifer Lee & Caleb Henderson, The Perfect Home; Troop 69, Boy Scouts; Willard's Restaurant & Lounge; BlueStar Grill; Nancy's Bake Shop; Chantels' Cakery; Station Bakery & Café; Tom & Sue Weller, Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe; High Springs Police Department; Aunt Lydia Springs, Cake; Louanne Rigano, Cake; Vella Miller, Ballon; Don Decker, Trains; Museum for being open during the Fall Festival hours

There are so many who came together to make this year's Fall Festival one our community will cherish for years to come.

I love our quaint little town with all its southern charm.

Sharon Decker

High Springs Chamber of Commerce

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TALLAHASSEE – This morning, the Lauren’s Kids foundation kicked off a 42+ hour continuous advocacy walk at the Florida Capitol to honor the 42 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse living in the U.S. today. The “42 Hours” event will close out National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month by bringing advocates, survivors and state leaders together to walk inside the walls of the Florida Capitol while raising awareness and advocating for change.

“We are walking together over the next 42+ hours to honor survivors, advocate for change, and bring awareness to something we know unfortunately impacts 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys before they graduate high school,” said Senator Lauren Book, Founder and CEO of Lauren’s Kids. “Every 98 seconds, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted – which means that over the course of the next 42 hours, more than 1,500 people will be victimized. We will be shining a light for each one of those survivors to help amplify the messages of prevention, hope, and healing.”

Every 15 minutes, walkers will light a candle on a wall of the “42 Hours” display to symbolize the 10 survivors of sexual assault who were victimized during that time.

“The Florida Council Against Sexual Violence works to ensure victims and survivors have a voice in the Florida Capitol, and to ensure prevention and treatment programs are present in communities throughout the state,” says Jennifer Dritt, Executive Director of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, a “42 Miles” event partner. “Even if we do not realize it, statistically, each one of us knows someone who has experienced sexual violence – and each one of us likely knows a perpetrator, too. It is up to us all to educate ourselves and become a part of the solution.”

Armed with the knowledge that 95 percent of childhood sexual abuse is preventable through education and awareness, Lauren’s Kids offers familiesschools, and youth-serving organizations free tools and EMMY Award-winning video lessons to help teach personal safety from a place of fun and not fear. The Foundation has also created free resources for survivors, including the Guide to Hope & Healing, which helps families navigate the time following a child’s disclosure of sexual abuse.     

This will be Lauren’s Kids’ third year hosting the “42 Hours” event, an offshoot of the Foundation’s 1,500-mile “Walk in My Shoes” statewide awareness walk from Key West to Tallahassee, completed annually from 2010-2018. To learn more and watch the “42 Hours” event livestream, visit www.laurenskids.org.

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