ALACHUA COUNTY, FL - Alachua County encourages residents to take advantage of legal assistance available through the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), which offers services to renters who may be experiencing tenant issues, including evictions or legal barriers affecting their housing stability.
There are three ways for people to receive assistance.
1.   County residents who make 50% or less than the area medium income (AMI) can receive direct legal aid and representation when facing eviction by reaching out to:
  • Florida Legal Services eviction prevention helpline - 888-780-0443
  • Three Rivers Legal Services - 352-372-0519
The AMI is based on household size and gross income. Check AMI income amounts.
Alachua County Tenant Legal Assistance Info Sheet
2.   Florida Legal Services (FLS) and the county are offering monthly tenant legal workshops that are available to the public where county residents can ask questions and speak with attorneys on-site to discuss their own situation. For information on upcoming workshops, call 888-780-0443.
3.   Those who make 80% or less of the AMI and have additional questions concerning landlord/tenant issues are encouraged to call the FLS helpline at 888-780-0443.
Since January 2021, Alachua County has received more than $32.9 million in grants to go toward various ERAP initiatives, which include rent, utilities, housing stability, affordable housing and administrative costs. To date, Alachua County has received more than 4,600 applications for ERAP assistance.
For more information, contact Alachua County ERAP Case Manager Yvonne Herring at 352-264-6720.

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ALACHUA ‒ While the day after Thanksgiving is typically reserved for recovering from overindulging in too much turkey and pumpkin pie or joining in the holiday season shopping fray, there is a group of dedicated individuals who are on a mission. And odds are they wear green and gold and proclaim themselves “Hornets.”

Just as surely as Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November each year, by the following day, A.L. Mebane High School alumni are busy putting the finishing touches on their homecoming celebration, which traditionally commences on Friday and continues into the weekend.

This year was no different as the A. L. Mebane High School Homecoming Reunion put into motion a full schedule of weekend festivities that brings former students and the community together as each graduating class boasts its preeminence over the others.

Sponsored by the A.L. Mebane High School Alumni Association, the event serves to keep the school's history alive. In 1996, the Alumni Association held their first Homecoming event. For the Alumni Association, keeping their history alive is a matter of community pride with an eye to the future.

This year on Saturday, Nov. 25, crowds began to gather on the sidewalks along Main Street in anticipation of the upcoming parade. Alumni classes designed a float or decorated a car, along with some community organizations and churches that also participated. Led by a police escort, the parade kicked off with sirens wailing and lights flashing.

Sidewalks were lined with spectators as cars and trucks carrying homecoming queens and dignitaries were interspersed with floats sponsored by the various alumni classes, many tossing candy for the excited children attending the parade.

The A.L. Mebane High School Alumni Association holds various fundraisers and community projects throughout the year in Alachua and surrounding communities. Money raised during the weekend’s festivities contributes to the scholarship fund of the alumni association.

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L-R: Alachua Chamber President Mitch Glaeser, architect Paul Stresing, Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper, Tower Hill CEO Kirk La, Scherer Construction President Erik Otte, and CHW President Robert Walpole turn the dirt marking the official start of construction of Tower Hill’s new headquarters building.

ALACHUA ‒ One of Florida’s largest residential property insurers will soon be calling Alachua home. A groundbreaking ceremony took place on Tuesday, Nov. 28 for Tower Hill Insurance’s new headquarters in Alachua.

Tower H Rendering

The state-of-the art 65,000 sq-ft two-story building will feature more than 25,000 sq-ft of energy efficient glass and was designed by local architectural firm Paul Stresing Associates. When completed, the facility will house 300 of the company’s 500-plus employees. Tower Hill currently has offices in Gainesville, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and Lexington, Ky, and operates in 17 states in the U.S. Anticipated construction completion is planned for spring 2025.

The soon-to-be headquarters for the 50-year-old firm will be accessed from U.S. Highway 441 at Northwest 167th Boulevard traffic signal south of where the Alachua Publix is located. CHW serves as the project civil engineer and Scherer Construction is the project contractor.

Tower Hill Insurance was founded in 1972 by William T. Shively as a mobile home insurer based in Miami. His son, Bill Shively, now carries on the family business. Bill Shively has long had a vision of building Tower Hill’s headquarters in Alachua on the property he has owned for some 30 years.

When founded, Tower Hill offered only mobile home insurance. Today its portfolio has grown to include residential and commercial property insurers offering homeowners, rental property, condominium, and flood insurance, among others.

On hand for the groundbreaking was Tower Hill Insurance Group CEO Kirk La who spoke of the company’s vision for the property and its corporate responsibility as a member of the Alachua business community. La said that in the face of insurance woes that have plagued Florida, Tower Hill is unyielding in its commitment to the state in which it was founded.

Also present at the groundbreaking ceremony was Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper who included in his remarks that many people know the property as the former home to an ostrich farm. Joining Coerper representing the City of Alachua were Alachua Vice Mayor Dayna Miller and Commissioners Jennifer Blalock, Shirley Green Brown and Ed Potts. Also on hand was a large contingent of the Tower Hill executive team and employees.

Alachua Chamber of Commerce President Mitch Glaeser also addressed the crowd of well over 150 people about the impact of Tower Hill on the Alachua community. Glaeser likened the groundbreaking as a moment in time that in the future will be remembered as a watershed moment marking a turning point in the economic evolution of the city.

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NEWBERRY – Some Newberry residents are unhappy about a solar development that will be located near their homes. At the Nov. 27 Newberry City Commission meeting, a presentation by Florida Renewable Partners (FRP), a solar development company operating in Florida, garnered a number of citizen comments. RFP’s representative, Scott Scoville, met with citizens prior to the meeting and addressed the Commission in a presentation designed to respond to citizen concerns.

FRP recently acquired land in Newberry with intent to develop a solar farm. The property is located in southwest Newberry, west of County Road 337 and south of Southwest 30th Avenue. In August, residents in the vicinity of the proposed solar farm transmitted a letter to the City expressing concerns about the development and identifying suggested conditions for solar farm developments, including the proposed FRP project.

FRP plans construction of a Newberry sited solar farm in 2027 after necessary upgrades to the transmission system have been completed by Duke Energy. FRP anticipated submitting an application for site and development plan consideration in 2026.

Concerns voiced about solar farms included that transmission lines may impact pacemakers, pollution from runoff of solar panels, excessive concrete under the panels and other structures would make the land non-permeable and fences that would negatively impact wildlife as well as the proposed size of the vegetative buffer.

Scoville responded to those claims by saying he had not seen any studies showing negative impacts to pacemakers. He also said the only studies he had seen about panels polluting soil had to do with grinding up the panels for recycling and distributing on soil, which they had no intention of doing. He said they would consider planting a vegetative buffer with smaller plantings now so that they would grow into larger plantings by the time the site was operational.

Concrete under the panels was not an issue, Scoville said, because there was a minimal amount of concrete used on the site. He said the panels were on steel poles planted into the ground and the poles would be removed along with the panels when dismantling the site.

Scoville said the planned fencing would be six feet high near the right-of-way, but was “red top” fencing at four-feet high everywhere else, which would allow deer and other animals to jump the fence line. He showed photos of a panther and birds that had re-inhabited a solar array site after construction was completed.

In March 2019, the City Commission approved land development regulations for solar farms in Newberry’s agricultural zoning districts. Changes to the existing solar panel ordinance will be reviewed during the first quarter of 2024. While Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlow said this was an opportunity to consider “tweaking” the existing solar farm ordinance, he cautioned that any changes would not be required of FRP as they were approved under the existing ordinance.

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This information is public record and the booking report is provided by the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Department of the Jail.  The charges listed are at the time of arrest and and all suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. For more details on a specific inmate use the Sheriff’s Office inmate search (for inmates currently at the jail). More specific information on charges is available by searching court records.

Jail booking logs are removed from the Alachua County Today website after 30 days.

Alachua County Sheriff Booking Log 12052023 Page 1

Alachua County Sheriff Booking Log 12052023 Page 2


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Photo courtesy of Gainesville Sports Commission

NEWBERRY ‒ With the Champions Park management and operations contract with RADDSports set to expire on Dec. 31, 2023, the Newberry City Commission on Nov. 27 tabled renewal talks to the December meeting.

Director of Parks, Recreation and Facilities Travis Parker addressed the Commission requesting renewal of the contract with RADDSports. Parker said that the interlocal agreement with Alachua County on the park was set to expire in September 2025. He also said that the park was second, behind UF Gator games, to put “heads in the beds” of hotels in Alachua County, leading to a large return to the County’s bed tax. Parker initially suggested the City renew the agreement for a two-year term with a renewal option of three years.

Options at this time include either an extension of the current contract with no alterations or going out to bid for the management and operations of the park. Considering the timeline, future planned events, and the interlocal agreements expiration date of September 2025 with the County, Parker recommended granting an extension and revisiting the arrangement at the end of 2025. “This approach provides stability while allowing for a thorough reevaluation of the future of Champions Park,” said Parker.

In consideration for operating rights, RADDSports annually pays the City five percent of gross tournament revenues and 20 percent of gross non-tournament revenues. Monthly payments of $25,000 are made to the City. Those funds are specifically designated for capital projects at the park, designed to ensure ongoing improvements and maintenance. Parker cited substantial turf repairs at the batting circles and pitching mounds during 2023.

Parker also said that approximately $2 million would be required to bring the park up to the standards it should be. However, the organization holding the event gets most of the funds along with bed tax allowances.

In talks with Alachua County regarding funding of the park, Parker said they suggested the City use Newberry’s Wild Spaces Public Places funds for the park. Parker said those funds have already been allocated to other projects.

Parker said that contract terms provide flexibility for extension by means of entering into a new agreement, contingent upon the condition that no alterations, amendments, or modifications are introduced to the original contract. If ownership of the park transfers to the County, the City may terminate the agreement with RADDSports immediately without penalty.

The City Commission expects to make a decision regarding the RADDSports contact at its December commission meeting.

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ALACHUA – The City of Alachua Youth Advisory Council (YAC) has become aware of a need among their fellow students. In cooperation with Santa Fe High School, the YAC has learned there are students coming to school in need of basic hygienic supplies. The YAC is deeply concerned about these students and is asking for your help in restoring their dignity. The YAC is collecting the following items:

  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Bar soap
  • Underwear (all sizes, men and women, new)
  • Socks (all sizes, men and women, new)

Once collected, all items will be packaged by the YAC and distributed at Santa Fe High School. Businesses have partnered with the YAC to host drop-off points. Supplies can be dropped off at the following locations through the months of December and January.

  • Alachua City Hall
  • Alachua Family Eye Care
  • Douglas M. Adel, DDS, P.A. (Alachua)
  • Decades on Main (High Springs)
  • China Express (Alachua)
  • Great Clips (Alachua)
  • HCA Florida Hospital (Gainesville)
  • Hitchcock’s Markets Pharmacy Desk (Alachua)
  • Infinite Wellness Gym (Alachua)
  • New York Pizza Plus (Rolling Oaks Plaza)
  • O2B Kids (Alachua)
  • Publix (Alachua)
  • Santa Fe High School Guidance Office (Alachua)
  • Tony & Al’s Deli (Alachua)
  • Walgreens (Alachua)

The YAC serves as advocates for issues and initiatives to positively impact the lives of youth, discusses issues and offers suggestions for improvement to benefit youth in the community.

YAC members must be enrolled in a public school, private school or a home education program within the City of Alachua in grades nine through 12 or must be a City of Alachua resident enrolled in a public school, private school or a home education program in grades nine through 12 that is not within the City of Alachua's corporate limits.

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