GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Below are the updated City of Gainesville traffic impacts scheduled for January 27-February 3, 2023. 

New Notices

Clark Butler Blvd. and SW 43rd St.: Roadway reconstruction work on Clark Butler Boulevard from Southwest 42nd Street to Southwest 43rd Street, and roadway reconstruction work on Southwest 43rd Street from Clark Butler Blvd to Southwest 24th Avenue will be performed under a complete roadway closure. This closure will remain in place from Feb. 1, through July 31, 2023.

Traffic will be detoured via Southwest 24th Avenue and Plaza Boulevard. Southwest 42nd Street and the crosswalk on Clark Butler Boulevard immediately north of Southwest 42nd Street will remain open at all times. 

Continuing Notices 

NW Fifth Ave.: Northwest Fifth Avenue will be closed from Northwest 14th Terrace to Northwest 15th Street for curb and gutter repairs, sidewalk improvements and repaving from Monday, Jan. 23-Monday, Feb. 2. 

 SW Ninth Terrace: Southwest Ninth Terrace will be closed between Southwest First Avenue and University Avenue due to the construction of a new development. Construction is expected to last through August 2023.

 Note: All lane and road closures are subject to change due to unforeseen conditions, such as inclement weather.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. ‒ Have you experienced prejudice or discrimination in your life? Those moments can be hard to talk about and hard to share with other people.

Connect with a collection of people who are willing to discuss openly their personal accounts of discrimination at the Human Library event on Feb. 5, 2023, in Gainesville. The event will be held at 2 p.m. in Santa Fe College’s Blount Hall located at 530 West University Avenue.

During the event, volunteers, known as “human books,” will represent different groups in our society that are commonly discriminated against. According to the Human Library, there are a total of 13 groups that make up the “Pillars of Prejudice.” The pillars are mental health, addictions, gender, religion, lifestyle, family relations, ethnicity, disabilities, health, occupation, sexual orientation, social status, and victims.

The human books will share their stories of prejudice and members of the audience, known as “readers,” will have an opportunity to ask questions. The intent is to spark a conversation, challenge stereotypes, and create dialogue between the readers and human books that can bridge social divides.

There will be a range of sensitive topics discussed during the event. Some of the topics could be triggering to certain individuals. Please be aware that anyone attending the event will be involved in frank discussions about discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry. Parental discretion is advised

Last year, the Human Library was held at the Cone Park Branch of the Alachua County Library District. This year, Santa Fe College will provide a larger venue for the event. With more space and more human books, this year’s event will be an even more impactful experience for all who attend.

The Human Library Organization, which created this event, is a non-profit learning platform developed in Copenhagen. The organization partners with groups around the world to put on events designed to create a safe space for dialogue. At these events, traumatic experiences with prejudice and discrimination are openly discussed in a respectful manner.

This event is sponsored by Altrusa International of Gainesville in partnership with the Alachua County Library District, Santa Fe College, and the International Human Library Organization.

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GAINESVILLE ‒ On Thanksgiving morning in 2021, a crash on Interstate 75 claimed the lives of two High Springs residents, a 13-year-old girl and an 83-year-old woman. Demiko Montrell White, Jr., 24, has been sentenced to 18 years in state prison after entering a plea of nolo contendere to two counts of driving under the influence causing death (DUI manslaughter), driving without a valid license as a habitual offender and possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.  

Two counts of vehicular homicide and a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon were dropped in the plea agreement.  White was sentenced to four years on one DUI manslaughter charge and 11 years on the second DUI manslaughter charge, followed by three years for the marijuana possession charge.  He was sentenced to 273 days time served on the charge of driving without a valid license.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), at about 10:40 a.m., White was driving a black sedan south in the center lane on I-75 at mile marker 397.  The sedan tried to change lanes into the right lane and struck the left side of a semi truck.  At the time, an SUV was traveling south in the left lane.  Passengers in the SUV were a family from High Springs, including a 55-year-old man, a 50-year-old woman, the 13-year-old and the 83-year-old woman. 

When the sedan struck the semi truck, it swerved toward the left lane and struck the right rear of the SUV, which caused the SUV to swerve onto the shoulder and overturn several times, resulting in the fatalities.

White was released on $15,000 bond four days after the crash.

An FHP investigation found that White was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the crash.  An arrest warrant was issued on Dec. 15, 2021, and on Jan. 6, 2022, White had contact with members of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, who arrested him on the warrant and added two counts of resisting arrest without violence.

Assistant State Attorney Daniel Ley represented the State of Florida in the case.  Judge William Davis presided over the court hearing and sentenced White.

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ALACHUA COUNTY, FL - The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (ACEPD) is offering the Florida Stormwater, Erosion, and Sedimentation Control Inspector Training and Certification Program on January 31 and February 1, 2023, at Gainesville Regional Utilities (4747 N. Main Street, Gainesville). The training is free, but participants must register online by January 30.
Participants learn why preventing construction site sedimentation from polluting local water bodies is important and become familiar with techniques to minimize erosion.
ACEPD Hazardous Materials Program Manager Christopher Gilbert said, “Sediment from construction sites can clog fish kills, degrade habitats, increase stormwater management costs, and increase the risk of flooding.”
This certification program was developed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and is team-taught by numerous professionals. This class is co-sponsored by the Gainesville Clean Water Partnership.
Qualifying participants can earn eight (CEUs) Continuing Education Units for their contractor’s license and/or eight (PDHs) Professional Development Hours for their Florida Professional Engineer’s license.

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NEWBERRY ‒ Kobe Deon Delima, 22, of Newberry, was arrested early Saturday morning, Jan. 7, and charged with property damage over $1,000 after allegedly breaking multiple car windows with a brick. Delima is currently on pretrial release following a previous arrest.

An Alachua County sheriff’s deputy responded to a criminal mischief call at a Newberry residence just after midnight and reportedly found Delima standing next to a car with a brick on the ground next to him.

Witnesses said Delima had shown up uninvited and had been driven home but later returned, saying, “You gonna learn about respect,” before striking the car with a brick. The deputy reported that the two passenger side windows were completely broken out and the paint below the window was scratched in the imprint of a brick. The front windshield also had an imprint of a brick on the shattered glass. The brick’s edges appeared to be freshly chipped.

The cost of the damage is estimated at about $1,100, not including labor.

Delima has no criminal convictions but was arrested in October 2022 for allegedly fleeing a traffic stop and crashing into a fence on private property, then fleeing on foot. Two handguns were reportedly found in the car. He posted $30,000 bail and is still awaiting a resolution of that case.

Florida statutes require individuals on pretrial release to refrain from criminal activity of any kind. Delima was also arrested in 2020 for stealing a weed eater and entered into a deferred prosecution agreement. That agreement was revoked for failure to comply with conditions, and the case was scheduled for a change of plea, but the charge was dropped and the hearing was canceled.

Delima is currently in the Alachua County Jail with bail set at $60,000.

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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ While Christmas presents come in all shapes and sizes, High Springs resident Sara Hannah was not prepared for the unexpected Christmas present she received. Hannah had previously purchased a new roof for her daughter's house from Worthmann Construction and at the same time had filled out an application to win a free roof for her own house.

Around 2,000 local people had applied online for the free roof giveaway, and Hannah had forgotten about the contest. “On Christmas day, they had called and said I won a new roof,” Hannah said. “I really thought this phone call was a joke, but they convinced me that I had actually won the contest.” Hannah says winning the roof for her older house is a blessing as she couldn’t afford to buy another roof.

Three years ago, Worthmann Construction, which was founded in 2014, created the contest to give away a free roof to the local community to thank them for their support and business. Worthmann General Manager Eli Ott said that the giveaway is aimed at helping a community member in need by replacing their roof for free.  “We saw a need in the community for affordable, high-quality roofs, so we decided this is the least we can do for the community to thank them for supporting our business,” said Ott.

This is the first year that a winner has been from High Springs, which coincidentally will also be home to the company’s new 60,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility being built for 100-150 Worthmann employees. The new facility is expected to be finished in late 2023.

On Jan. 13, Worthmann Construction owner Drew Worthmann along with company staff members, City of High Springs Commissioners and staff gathered in front of Hannah's house. After a brief introductory speech, Worthmann presented Hannah with an oversized check for a free roof as the crowd applauded. After the small ceremony, workers climbed onto Hannah’s home and took measurements of the roof’s surface area for the new installation. The crowd was treated to free hot dogs and drinks provided by Stevie's Dog House, courtesy of the Worthmann Construction Company.

“We are looking forward to continuing the free roof giveaways every year and completing our facility in High Springs to become part of this great community,” said Ott.

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HIGH SPRINGS – The High Springs City Commission on Jan. 12 voiced its opposition to the structure of the Opioid Awareness Campaign Committee, but voted unanimously to approve an agreement with the Children’s Trust of Alachua County, the entity that manages and dispenses funds. Commissioners expressed concern about how the program was structured and noted that the group added another level of bureaucracy in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

The agreement was presented to finalize an arrangement that several Alachua County communities, including High Springs, voted to participate in along with the Children’s Trust of Alachua County to create an awareness campaign to educate the public on opioid addiction and treatment.

Each participating city is being asked to contribute $10,000 for a seat on the committee with the $10,000 contributed by each community to be spent on awareness efforts in their community.

However, concerns were raised about the lack of local control of the funds as the Awareness Campaign Committee will decide how and when to dole out the money. Instead of joining forces financially to pool the $40,000 in contributions to address the overall problem, each community gets their $10,000 donation back, with the Awareness Campaign Committee making disbursement decisions.

Although some Commissioners didn’t approve of the structure of the project, they voted unanimously to approve the interlocal agreement because they said they had already approved the expenditure in June 2022 and did not want to withdraw from their earlier commitment after voting to move forward.

Parks & Recreation Board

The High Springs Parks and Recreation Advisory Board currently has two vacant alternate positions available. One expires in 2023 and the second one expires in 2024. Commissioners considered and unanimously approved the appointment of applicant Mary B. Sears to serve as an alternate on the Board until the 2024 expiration date.

Sears has been a resident of High Springs for 14 years and is a Workers Compensation Claims Adjuster and current treasurer for the FGWC High Springs Woman’s Club.

Other City Business

In other City business, small road repair and replacement paving projects are set to begin in High Springs the week of Jan. 23. Citizens are asked to be patient when trying to get around town as these projects are under construction.

Roads to be repaired are Northwest 237th Street, Northwest 240th Street, Northwest 233rd Street, Northwest 222nd Street, Northwest 244th Street, Northwest 210th Lane and Northwest Railroad Avenue. The work is to be undertaken by Florida Fill & Grading at a cost of $195,882.

The room erupted in applause when Assistant City Manager Bruce Gillingham announced that High Springs Police Chief Antoine Sheppard has been selected to be the new District #17 Director for the Florida Police Chiefs Association.

The Mayor’s Youth Council is accepting applications from students from the 7th – 12th grades. Applicants must be residents of High Springs. Applications can be obtained through the City Clerk’s Office.

The next City Commission meeting is scheduled for Jan. 26 and is expected to take place at City Hall.

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