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ALACHUA ‒ A plan to refresh and reimagine the City of Alachua’s Theatre Park is underway. On Alachua’s picturesque Main Street, the hidden gem known best as “Theatre Park” has seen better years. An overgrowth of vines, a dilapidated arbor, and structural uncertainty have left the park in a less attractive condition.

The Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board (CRAAB) as well as the City Commission sitting as Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) met separately Monday, May 6, 2024, to consider alternatives for renovations to Theatre Park. A variety of designs were presented to the boards by Monarch Design Group. Among the plans were two overall design themes for the entry to the park. One plan would utilize Corten steel, providing a weathered, rustic metal façade in both the gap above the front wall as well as in portions of the archways. A second entryway design called for a black powder coated façade for a wrought iron appearance in the gap above the front wall and the archways.

In addition to entryway designs, Monarch Design Group presented a variety of accompanying interior elements for the park, such as brick pavers or concrete across the entire ground level of the park, lighting, a stage, seating, and Florida friendly landscaping.

The CRAAB discussed concerns with the park’s use and design. Without a roof over the park, rainfall can become trapped and potentially seep through into adjoining buildings. Use of landscaping requiring irrigation in the park exacerbates flooding concerns. Vines, which have largely since been removed, posed a risk of damage to the historic brick walls. The arbor, which once served as a tranquil and picturesque backdrop appears to be on the verge of collapse. Hosting live music in the park is untenable without sufficient shade and protection from the rain.

Based on discussions at the CRAAB meeting, Monarch Design Group and the City’s Public Services department plan to narrow the wide array of design suggestions and engineering options. While the plans have not been nailed down, the CRAAB seemed to settle on the black wrought iron aesthetic, a small stage with handicap access, and the ability to install a temporary overhead screen or shield to protect performers from the elements. Board members were also in favor of Florida friendly landscaping, maintaining the footprint of the current walkway in lieu of concrete or brick pavers from wall-to-wall. For areas where the concrete is to remain, the board members stated that they were in favor of clay-fired bricks or similar brick veneers rather than stamped concrete and other brick types.

Assistant City Manager Rodolfo Valladares, who is a Professional Engineer, said the City was planning to develop solutions to divert or dispose of rainwater, possibly using a French drain system. Valladares commented that the projected cost of dealing with the structural concerns together with needed renovations to other elements of the park vastly exceed the CRA’s budgeted $150,000, noting that it would likely become a multiphase project, with solutions starting from “the ground up.”

Located at 14900 Main Street, Alachua, Florida, what is now an openair park was once a drycleaner and then a movie house, according to a walk tour developed by Alachua County Historical Commission and the Alachua County Tour Service in 1986.

In March 2011, the Alachua City Commission authorized structural modifications to Theatre Park in order to make the structure safer. For several months, the park remained closed as a scaffolding system was installed over the brick archways on the streetside opening where there were structural concerns over the ability of the entry to withstand high wind loads.

The 2011 project included removing the top portion of the walls to reduce the wind load on the structure as a whole. The removal included the top 12 feet from the front wall and up to six feet from the side walls.

A report from Driscoll Engineering at the time stated that the outer walls of the theatre park constituted an “immediate safety hazard” because of the lack of support and risk of falling debris. The scaffolding system was a temporary measure to protect pedestrian traffic until more lasting repairs could be completed.

Costing in excess of $40,000, the renovations, which included repairs to the east wall of the park, construction of two new columns and reinforced fiberglass rods, were paid for by the Downtown Redevelopment Trust board (DRTB), which was the City’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) at the time.

The park, which is frequently used for special occasions and is one of the most photographed spots in Alachua was reopened in June 2011.

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HIGH SPRINGS – An issue that has been brought up numerous times during High Springs City Commission meetings may finally see a resolution. During the May 9, 2024 City Commission meeting, the Commission voted to modify a long-standing ordinance with a new ordinance that will allow alcohol sales by Special Permit on some Sundays by a business that doesn’t derive more than 51 percent of their revenue from the sale of food and non-alcoholic beverages.

Currently, the City’s ordinance does not allow a business to operate on Sunday to sell alcohol unless the business also sells food.

The High Springs Brewing Company, located at 18562 N.W. 237th Street in High Springs, sells beer and wine, but no food. However, they have an assortment of food trucks that park on their property to serve their patrons. In addition, Prohibition Pizza, which opened their doors within the past year, is located directly across the street from the Brewing Company. Prohibition Pizza can only seat a small number of patrons on their property and relies on the Brewing Company to provide a place where their patrons can grab their pizza and have a place to sit, possibly have a beer and share with others.

On the other hand, some citizens argue that Sunday should be a day of rest and quiet in the community and that allowing the Brewing Company to be open on Sunday will lead to loud amplified music, increased traffic and increased noise. However, there has not been a history of noise complaints, rowdy or drunken behavior lodged with the High Springs Police Department in the past.

In an effort to reconcile these two factions, the City has drafted an ordinance revising the existing alcohol ordinance, providing for a Special Permit Application Process for businesses that derive less than 51 percent of their revenue from the sale of food and non-alcoholic beverages. The ordinance is designed to permit businesses like the High Springs Brewing Company to operate outside the hours established by the original ordinance.

During the City Commission meeting Mayor Katherine Weitz read several letters into the record from citizens for and against approval of the amended ordinance. Some clearly thought there shouldn’t need to be a need for a Special Permit at all, and there should be no barrier to the Brewing Company serving on Sundays.

When the item was opened to the floor for citizen comments, some 15 people addressed the Commission on behalf of the Brewing Company being open on Sundays. Four audience members spoke against approval.

One of the people addressing the Commission was former City Commissioner Sue Weller who brought up technical questions she thought needed to be addressed by the Commission prior to approval of the ordinance. Her suggestions were added to the ordinance.

The ordinance originally specified that the “Special Permit must be applied for in connection with a special event such as a City sponsored event or a Federal holiday and is subject to administrative approval; if the Special Permit is not applied for in connection with a special event it shall be subject to City Commission approval, and the Special Permit shall not be issued for a time period exceeding 48 hours.”

As a point of clarification, the term “city sponsored event” was changed to “City-wide event” with Pioneer Days referred to as an example. “Federal Holiday” refers to the Sunday prior to any Monday-observed Federal holiday. Also mentioned was that the applicant could apply for several Special-Event dates at one time.

Requests are subject to administrative approval without the necessity for Commission approval. However, if the Special Permit is not applied for in connection with a special event (city-wide sponsored event, Federal holiday) it shall be subject to City Commission approval, and the Special Permit shall not be issued for a time period exceeding 48 hours.

Following approval in a 4-1 roll call vote with Commissioner Wayne Bloodsworth casting the dissenting vote, the ordinance passed on first reading and the city attorney was tasked with modifying the ordinance prior to second reading at a future Commission meeting.

Vice Mayor Tristan Grunder made a motion to amend the agenda to include a discussion to put the item to a vote at the general election in November, but the motion died for lack of a second.

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ALACHUA – Law enforcement authorities are on alert following a robbery at the Royal Inn located at 16305 N.W. 162nd Lane in Alachua. On Saturday, May 11, at approximately 10:28 a.m., an unidentified individual entered the establishment, stole cash and left the hotel clerk in fear for her life.

The robber entered the motel lobby, proceeded to walk past the clerk, go behind the front desk and steal cash from the register. The suspect told the clerk multiple times not to move or he would kill her. The suspect then exited the lobby and fled the scene, running eastbound toward the Circle K/Wendy's at 16130 N.W. U.S. Highway 441.

The suspect is a black male, approximately 5 ft. 10 inches tall, of slender build and was wearing an unzipped black hoodie, no shirt, light-colored blue jeans with designed rear pockets, black shoes, a gold chain, a red bandana around his face and gloves.

The Alachua Police Department is requesting anyone with information contact the Alachua Police Department at 386-462-1396 or the Alachua County Crime Stoppers Inc anonymously at 352-372-7867, or their website at Anonymous tips can also be listed on the website at

Citizens may wish to download the phone app from your phone's app store to stay up-to-date and receive emergency notifications.

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NEWBERRY ‒ A 28-year-old Kentucky man was arrested for driving while intoxicated on Wednesday, May 8, at 11:50 p.m. after he crashed his semi-truck into a parked car and the front of Main Street Sweets and Eats, a bakery/café in Newberry.

According to the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO), driver Scott Mitchell Renslen was found with heavy damage to the front end of his truck, which was resting partially on a sidewalk. There was extensive damage to a fence railing, street lamp posts and two newspaper stands. ACSO deputies were on the scene assisting with traffic and gathering information to help with the investigation.

ACSO deputies had the truck driver standing in front of their patrol vehicle at the rear of his truck and asked what happened. Renslen said he had fallen asleep.

When ACSO deputies first approached the driver’s door they observed the driver passed out in the front seat. The officer made several attempts to wake the driver and was finally able to do so. When the driver opened the door he told the deputy he wanted an attorney.

One witness said she went out to check on the driver after the crash and asked him if he was okay. ACSO records report, “She said Mr. Renslen was sitting in the driver’s seat and would only stare at her and not speak.”

The driver said he would be willing to perform a series of field sobriety exercises, which were conducted on a relatively flat asphalt surface. Based on the totality of the investigation, the driver was placed under arrest for DUI.

His Miranda rights were read to him.

At first appearance, Judge Susan Miller-Jones set bail at $20,000 and mandated that within 72 hours of release, Renslen will be fitted with an electronic monitoring device with service to Alachua County.

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HIGH SPRINGS – On Monday, May 13, members of the High Springs Fire Department teamed up with crews from Alachua County Fire Rescue to hold a brief vehicle rescue course.

In this exercise, firefighters deployed several pieces of specialized equipment and simulated stabilizing and lifting a school bus.

“For our more senior guys, today's evolution was an opportunity to brush up on their skills and mentor several new firefighters who joined the session,” said a spokesperson.

Continuing inter-agency training among area partners ensures a cohesive operation during an emergency situation.

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On Saturday, May 4, members of the High Springs Fire and Police Departments joined in with the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe to help earn money for a good cause. At the annual Kids and Family Mini-Golf Tournament at Pink Flamingo, both departments got to show off their putt-putt skills in full force. It was a beautiful day to get outside and play while also supporting the kids of today and the future.

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On Wednesday, May 8, High Springs Firefighters joined forces with members of the High Springs Police Department, FDOT Northeast Florida and UF Health Shands Children's Hospital, at High Springs Community School for Bike & Roll to School Day.

Students who walked, or rode their bikes or blades, received free giveaways!

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HAWTHORNE ‒ A 62-year-old Hawthorne man was killed at about 5:45 a.m. on Friday, April 12, in a three-vehicle crash on U.S. Hwy 301.

The crash, which resulted in one death of one, occurred near Southeast 165th Avenue, and left another individual injured, according to reports from the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP). While details from the ongoing investigation are still forthcoming, initial information indicates that a 26-year-old man from Melrose, Florida, who was driving a pickup truck sustained minor injuries in the crash.

Occupants of an SUV, a 38-year-old man and his 74-year-old male passenger, both from Charlotte, NC, were uninjured.

The 62-year-old Hawthorne man was driving a pickup truck and was pronounced deceased at the scene. According to the FHP, while the two pickup truck drivers were not wearing seatbelts, the uninjured occupants of the SUV were wearing seatbelts.

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GAINESVILLE ‒ Although plenty of Florida’s craft brewers advertise their libations as brewed with state-grown ingredients, a vital ingredient – hops – is not readily available within the Sunshine State. A University of Florida study currently underway, however, may help pave the way for a robust crop of Florida-grown hops.

Beer HopsAromaTesting0006Researchers with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) believe they have identified a method for making hop-growing viable despite Florida’s incompatible climate: greenhouses.

“This has never been done in Florida,” said Katherine Thompson-Witrick, an assistant professor in the UF/IFAS food science and human nutrition department and the leader of the study.

In 2021, the Florida craft brewing industry generated $4.1 billion for the state, the fourth-largest amount in the country, according to the Brewers Association, a Colorado-based organization that monitors the industry.

Since January 2023, when the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services awarded Thompson-Witrick and her team a grant, they have harvested two crops of hops from a greenhouse at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka. In June, they hope to harvest again. Their objective is to develop cultivation practices that maximize aromatic and flavor characteristics comparable to those associated with traditional craft beer-brewing regions like Yakima Valley in Washington.

Thompson-Witrick’s team planted 20, 2-inch-tall seedlings of Cascade and Chinook varieties in April 2023. By July 2023, the plants had reached 20 feet tall, and the vines had to be manually separated to prevent them from becoming tangled.

“We saw a substantial amount of growth in the first nine months of this project, which is really outstanding and amazing for us,” Thompson-Witrick said.

The key was supplemental lighting installed within the greenhouse. Hops grow best when afforded at least 16 hours of sunlight, which is available at latitudes of 35 degrees and above; Florida’s uppermost latitude reaches just 31 degrees. The UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm has conducted breeding studies to develop Florida-compatible hops capable of adapting to the state’s shorter days.

Based on Thompson-Witrick’s preliminary research, the growth and flowering rates of the Apopka plants suggest her method could obtain the same yield of hops – per plant – as Yakima Valley.

But is the product as appealing to the senses?

Thompson-Witrick uses a gas chromatography mass spectrometer to detect the chemical compounds contained within the hops, the alpha and beta assets that quantify how bitter a beer brewed from them would be. For a more subjective analysis, she recruited human volunteers.

Throughout UF’s spring semester, 14 students met regularly to pry open the lids of condiment containers and carefully stick their noses inside.

The contents, resembling shredded alfalfa, were heady, but layered beneath the strong earthy odor were hints of citrus, spice and floral notes. Students took deep sniffs and recorded the strength of the various scents they detected. They smelled both the Apopka hops as well as commercial ones, but they did not know which hops were which.

The repeated sensory trainings will eventually lead to official blind testing and comparison between commercial varieties and Thompson-Witrick’s product.

“We want to disseminate our findings to growers to help with diversifying the state’s agricultural crops and to provide information that would be critical to further cultivating hops,” she said.

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TALLAHASSEE - Today, Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director Dave Kerner issued the following statement regarding an early morning crash in Marion County between an International Bus transporting 53 people and a Ford Ranger truck:

The Florida Highway Patrol is currently investigating a traffic crash which occurred at approximately 6:35 am, on State Road 40, approximately 500 feet west of SW 148 Court. The collision involved a 2010 International Bus, transporting approximately 53 employees of a farming company, and a 2001 Ford Ranger private truck.

Initial investigation reveals that the two vehicles made contact in a sideswipe type collision. Post collision, the bus traveled off the roadway, through a fence, and then overturned. Currently, eight people have been confirmed deceased and approximately 40 people have been transported to local medical facilities.

At 1:47 PM today, State Troopers assigned to the FHP Northern Region Specialized Investigations and Reconstruction Team (SIRT) arrested Bryan Maclean Howard, the driver of the private Ford Ranger truck, on the following criminal charges – Eight (8) counts of Driving Under the Influence – Manslaughter.    

Identities of the deceased will be released pending next of kin notification. Our sympathies and prayers are with the families of the deceased. Consistent with our duties, the Florida Highway Patrol will conduct both a thorough and exhaustive traffic crash and criminal investigation.

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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

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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: 
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

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 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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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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Special to Alachua County Today

GAINESVILLE – The Humane Society of North Central Florida will be holding a Pop-Up Thrift Shop. It will be held at the Humane Society’s South Campus location at 5403 S.W. Archer Road in Gainesville on Saturday, Jan. 25.

The Pop-Up Thrift Shop will be open to the public on Jan. 25 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Items that will be available include jewelry, clothing, toys, household goods, books, electronics, and more. All proceeds will go toward the Humane Society of North Central Florida’s mission and will aid in our life-saving efforts.

“Our thrift store is one of our most important sources of revenue. People can shop a great selection of items and save money while also helping to save our community’s pets,” said Ricky Scricca, Development Coordinator of the Humane Society of North Central Florida. “We are very excited to bring our thrift store to another part of town.”

The Humane Society of North Central Florida is a limited intake, no-kill animal rescue shelter. The animals in the facility are transferred from open-intake and/or managed admission municipal shelters across North Central Florida. The Humane Society of North Central Florida is an independent, local 501(c)(3) organization. It does not receive funding from federal agencies, nor is it affiliated with any other state or national organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States or the ASPCA.

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GAINESVILLE – Santa Fe College was recognized by Safe Campus as one of the safest college campuses in the nation in their Top 25 University Departments ranking. The Santa Fe Police Department (SFPD) was ranked second in the country, behind only California State University, Fullerton. Safe Campus ranks college police departments based on increased safety and security measures. 

“Santa Fe College Police is being recognized for the deployment of the of the Safe Santa Fe campus safety program,” said Linda Shaw, director of Safe Campus, the organization which announced the list recognizing the top 25 college and university departments for accomplishments in improving campus safety.

Each administrative department was nominated based on its efforts and improvements in campus safety. All 4,298 U.S. accredited higher-education institutions were eligible. The SFPD’s program includes the Safe Santa Fe app, community policing partnerships, Safe Spring Break and other events the SFPD participates in at the college to increase safety for students, faculty, staff and visitors.

Because of the recognition from the National Campus Safety Summit, the SFPD is also a finalist for the Department of the Year award, which will be announced at a conference in Las Vegas at the end of February.

Safe Campus’ mission is to improve safety and emergency planning and response at U.S. higher-education institutions. The full Top 25 list is below, and more information can be found online at: 

Questions about Safe Campus can be directed to Linda Shaw at 702-483-1721.

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Tallahassee, FL – Florida retail businesses joined Senator Joe Gruters (R, Sarasota) and Representative Chuck Clemons (R, Newberry) today to demand the Legislature act on SB 126 and HB 159 this session. 

“Right now, out-of-state and foreign businesses have a leg up on Florida retailers,” said Sen. Gruters. “Florida businesses will lose out unless we modernize Florida’s outdated tax system.”

Currently, out-of-state and foreign companies are able to capitalize on Florida’s outdated tax laws, which have not been modernized for the online sales era. They are not required to collect and remit sales taxes on purchases made in Florida, leaving the burden on the back of the consumer. 

SB 126 and HB 159 fix this problem, restoring the free market and leveling the playing field for Florida businesses to compete. 

“We know that Florida businesses provide jobs for Florida families and support Florida communities,” said Rep. Clemons. “But right now, Florida retailers are competing with two hands tied behind their back. This legislation will level the playing field for them to compete in a global marketplace.”

Florida retail businesses were in Tallahassee today as part of an advocacy day hosted by the Florida Retail Federation. Shannon Collins, Vice President of Badcock Home Furniture & More, spoke about the impact to Florida retailers. 

“Badcock is proud to have more than 100 stores in communities all across our home state, along with a robust online shopping experience,” Collins said. “We stand with the Florida Retail Federation to bring a level playing field for our Florida-based business, so that we are able to compete in our state and across the nation without being penalized by an outdated tax system.”

“Currently, foreign companies are taking advantage of our outdated system, putting Florida businesses at a severe disadvantage,” said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “I’m hopeful the Florida Legislature will choose to back Florida businesses this session. Until they do, foreign companies will continue to win this fight.”

The Florida Retail Federation was joined by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and Florida TaxWatch, who are advocating for the proposed legislation. 

“Currently, our system in Florida puts the burden on the back of consumers. Many consumers purchase goods from out-of-state businesses not realizing that they are burdened with the cumbersome task of independently remitting the taxes they owe to the state on their own. And this system does not work,” said Dominic Calabro, TaxWatch President & CEO. “Every state in the nation but two – Florida being one of them – have fixed this problem. Now, we need to catch up. This legislation can put the burden where it belongs—on the seller.”

“Closing the internet sales tax loophole will help ensure Florida’s brick and mortar retailers remain competitive, and will do so without creating a new tax,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

“Florida, as one of only two states that has not updated its tax laws for online retail, is not promoting the economic climate for our businesses on Main Street to be successful and competitive,” said Brewster Bevis, Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs for Associated Industries of Florida. “We must move this legislation forward to help our businesses right here at home instead of leaving them at a disadvantage to foreign companies.”

“A sale is a sale regardless if it takes place on Main Street or on the Internet,” said Jennifer Platt, Vice President for Federal Operations for ICSC. “Retail sales support millions of jobs across our state, and a fair tax structure will help provide for our communities’ needs.”

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January 24, 2020 – Santa Fe College’s My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) will host their annual Black Male Enrichment Conference Monday, February 10, 2020, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on the Northwest Campus. The event gives Alachua and Bradford County black male students in 7th through 11th grades an exclusive opportunity to access important information about college, financial aid, scholarships and programs of study at SF. Additionally, they will hear from MBK students and alumni, and a keynote address that will highlight their potential and the importance of mentorship.

Registration forms are available at Alachua and Bradford County guidance counselors.

For additional information, contact MBK coordinator Javan Brown at or call352-381-3801. You can also follow MBK on social media on Facebook at or on Instagram at MBK_SF.

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