Zoning and Poe Springs top list

HIGH SPRINGS – High Springs City Manager Edwin Booth is kicking off 2013 by meeting with County Manager Richard Drumm on Thursday, Jan. 3. Booth initiated the meeting before Christmas as a sort of “meet and greet” to get to know one another and begin discussions on some items in common to both governments.

One of the items on Booth’s list is enclaves, which are county areas surrounded by city-zoned properties. “That’s something we need to work on getting cleaned up,” said Booth in an interview the day before his meeting with Drumm.

Another area of mutual concern is Poe Springs. “We are not quite ready to take that over yet, but it certainly seems like they are putting some money into it and it is probably something we should take over at some point,” said Booth.

Concerns about not having a recreation director or department to maintain the spring is one item holding up progress on taking over management of the popular recreational spot. “We need to get that taken care of and in place before we have the responsibility of maintaining the spring,” said Booth, who is expected to bring the High Springs City Commission up-to-date on the joint city-county meeting prior to their next meeting on Thursday, Jan. 10.

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HIGH SPRINGS – A local roadway has become a point of controversy for some in High Springs. In 2010, the High Springs City Commission approved a resolution prohibiting traffic along the roadway behind City Hall. On Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, the issue was brought before the commission again, in the form of a new resolution, which if approved, would have repealed the 2010 resolution prohibiting traffic along the roadway and would have formally re-opened the road around James Paul Park to vehicular traffic.

The new resolution was prepared by City Attorney Scott Walker, at the direction of the sitting commission prior to the November election, in order to formalize a controversial 3-1 decision to reopen the road which was made during the Oct. 18, 2012 City Commission meeting.

With the failure of the new resolution, the road remains closed and no further action on re-opening it is currently anticipated.

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HAWTHORNE – The Hawthorne Area Historical Society will be hosting their second Annual Hawthorne Heritage Day on Saturday, Jan. 19. The event will be a include antique cars, old-time family activities including candle dipping, rope and corn husk doll making. Great “local” barbeque by Pop Herring and music for singing and dancing will also help celebrate Hawthorne’s history. Special guest Sharon Ferraro of the Old House Network will talk about “Preservation – Opportunity from our Past for our Future at 2 p.m.

Hawthorne Heritage Day will be held at the Hawthorne Museum and Cultural Center located at 7225 S.E. 221 Street in Hawthorne from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. For further information call 352-318-1265 or 352-494-3790.

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 W - Alachua Hair Salon Wide DSCF7534RTim Manning (Right) reently opened Shear Fusion hair salon on Alachua's Main Street.

ALACHUA - If you’re in Alachua and need a haircut, there’s a new salon creating a lot of buzz.

Owner Tim Manning opened Shear Fusion on Nov. 2. He said he decided to open the salon after finishing cosmetology school.

“I’ve always wanted to have my own business,” he said. “I’m really good at doing hair. It just seemed like the logical thing to do.”

He said he also wanted to save money and avoid a long commute. The salon is located on Alachua’s Main Street.

“It made more sense to open something on my own that’s literally right down the road from where I live,” he said.

Manning said he’s received positive feedback from customers so far.

Alachua resident Diana Felver said she first started visiting Shear Fusion after she found out her hairdresser was relocating. Although Felver said she hasn’t had her hair done at the salon yet, she’s bought hair products from the salon.

“The products we’re getting from them -- I’m like a walking advertisement,” she said. “Everyone’s asking, ‘What did you do to your hair?’”

She said her 19-year-old daughter, Jillian, visited the salon for a haircut and dye and loved it.

“She said it was the best haircut she ever had,” Felver said. “The color is really gorgeous.”

Felver said her daughter enjoyed the salon for the atmosphere as well.

“She said Tim was the most humorous hairdresser she’s ever been to. She said he made her laugh the entire time. It was a really fun experience for her, too.”

Manning said the salons prices are affordable with highlights priced at $65, hair color at $45, women’s haircuts at $25 and men’s haircuts at $10.

Local police officers, firefighters and EMTs receive half-priced haircuts at the salon. Manning said it’s done to show gratitude.

“They’re our local heroes,” he said.

City of Alachua employees receive a 10 percent discount on services at Shear Fusion.

“We want to do something in return for all the people who bolster us up,” he said.

Manning said he hopes to keep the salon on Main Street for a long time. He said he loves the camaraderie local business owners have.

“We’re gonna be here,” he said. “I absolutely love Alachua.”

Manning thinks a small-town salon might make customers feel more at home.

“You get to know the people and you get to know their stories,” he said. “Essentially, you end up with not just customers, but friends all over the place.”

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W - HSPD Holiday Cheer DSCF7495 4

Christmas was merrier this year for some area youngsters thanks to the High Springs Police Department’s annual gift giveaway. Police Department officers and employees loaded up a truck with presents for an early Christmas delivery last Wednesday.

HIGH SPRINGS – With massive support from the High Springs community, clubs and businesses, as well as the High Springs Police Department, 20 children in High Springs will have a merrier Christmas this year. High Springs Police Department Dispatch Supervisor Stephanie Hall organized this year’s gift giveaway for children who may not have had gifts without the help of the police officers and staff. “This is an annual event for the department,” explained Hall.

The gift giveaway, which began about one week prior to Christmas, is intended for children from 10 months to 16 years old, who were identified by their school or church as being in need of some Christmas cheer. “One person, who was a victim of a crime, had three children. We included her children as well,” said Hall.

More gifts and large stockings full of candy and other treats were also distributed on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 19, 2012, as uniformed police officers, Police Chief Steve Holley and Hall herself handed out beautifully wrapped packages to the children. Each family also received food items such as corn, green beans and stuffing to help round out their holiday meal.

“The Rotary Club went above and beyond as Heather Clarich obtained the donated use of the High Springs New Century Woman’s Club building, provided tons of Rotary Club volunteers and facilitated dinners for 35-40 people who met to wrap presents,” said Hall. The Rotary Club brought wrapping paper, tape and other items needed to wrap presents as well as three tables stacked with gifts.

“We had 15 people from our department, which included some family members, previous employees and one student doing ‘ride a longs’ with the department, and the Rotary Club fed us all as we wrapped presents,” said Hall.

High Springs Chamber of Commerce President Sandra Webb said she donated two big boxes of unused toys and candy canes received from Dollar Tree for the Chamber’s use in the Christmas parade as stocking stuffers for the kids. “We just didn’t use it all, so I thought it should go to others who could use it.”

The rest of the items were provided by “lots of citizens,” explained Hall, as well as from Camp Kulaqua, which donated 50 gifts, the Interact Club at Santa Fe High School, which donated toys, Eastern Star Santa Fe Chapter which donated 15 pairs of pajamas, cash and several toys, employees of the High Springs Police Department, who donated Christmas stockings, time and various other items, and cash donations from the High Springs Bridge Club, and Eric Shupe and Richard Piz of AllStar Tattoo who donated money to the department from the Halloween Tatoo Haunted Maze proceeds in October. “A very generous cash donation from High Springs Fence & Construction was also received,” said Hall. Also providing donated items were Dollar General and Family Dollar, with both companies contributing huge boxes of toys. Winn Dixie also made toy contributions and Pizza 2 Go made a financial contribution.

Two children’s gifts were donated from a detective from Gilchrist County who has a relative that works with the High Springs Police Department. Decorations and two small bags of canned goods will be passed out as well.

“There were too many donations to list them all,” said Hall, “but we used each and every donation to help make Christmas brighter for these children.”

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HIGH SPRINGS – High Springs City Manager Edwin Booth is expected to request the City Commission to schedule a public hearing sometime between the Jan. 10 and Jan. 24 regular commission meetings to receive comments and input from citizens regarding their ideas for the use of the old school building.

“In the past,” said Booth, “the Civic Center has acted as the community center.” Suggesting that the refurbished school building might be more centrally located, Booth said he thought the various size rooms might be ideal for meetings and other community events. However, Booth is adamant that the Commission needs to hear how the citizens feel about the use of the building before any decision is made.

Booth said he also looked into the possibility of venting and installing a stove to accommodate cooking classes or other events where food might need to be prepared. “The cost is prohibitive,” he said. “It’s in the $100,000 range, which is way too much for the City to consider.”

Due to a lack of cooking facilities at the school, the elder program will most likely remain at the Civic Center.

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W - Gentle Carousel Horsese  DSF3995 4

By special request, Debbie Garcia-Bengochea and her husband, Jorge, will be taking their miniature therapy horses on the road to Newtown, Conn. to help the families who lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

HIGH SPRINGS – While church groups and canine therapy organizations are traveling to Newtown, Conn. on their own to offer assistance to the community coping with the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings, personal requests have been made directly from affected family members, public officials, municipal organizations and citizen groups to bring Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses to Newtown to work directly with those most directly affected by the massacre.

As one Newtown parent told Gentle Carousel, “We want our kids to dream of minis, instead of monsters.”

“How do you say no to that?” said Debbie Garcia-Bengochea who, with her husband Jorge, founded the all-volunteer nonprofit charity, located in High Springs and Alachua, in 2002. Presently, the organization has 32 tiny therapy horses, each one of which has two volunteers working with them. The therapy teams work with over 18,000 local adults and children each year in hospitals, hospice programs, assisted living programs, schools and libraries to bring their special love where it is needed most.

“Normally, we would be winding down somewhat after the holidays,” said Debbie Garcia-Bengochea, “but we were contacted by organizations and families in Newtown, so we’re preparing to go to Connecticut just after Christmas instead. It’s the kind of call you can’t say no to,” she said.

“We are scrambling to put money and everything else together,” she added. “Expenses have to be covered and arrangements have to be made. We’re not sure how we’re going to do it, but we could not turn down such earnest requests,” she said.

Families, organizations and first responders are “guiding us through,” explained Garcia-Bengochea. “Everyone is talking about it up there. I guess a lot of people are aware of our horses through Facebook,” she said. “They [people of Newtown] have been fundraising, setting up itineraries, scheduling private times with families, children and first responders and setting up other “pretty major things” that Garcia-Bengochea says she is not free to discuss at this time.

“I think the private things we will be doing with individuals will be the most helpful,” she said, but “Gentle Carousel Horses will be available to do whatever the community identifies as a need.”

Although the trip was not planned and the request only came in on Dec. 19, 2012, “just at a time when we were winding things down for the year,” some things seem to be falling into place so far. Several youngsters have been doing fundraising. A small school in Brazil put their money together and sent it to them to help defray costs. One child sent $1, explaining that it was her “hole” allowance. School children from Australia also sent a donation to help. “There has been an outreach from all over to help get us there,” said Garcia-Bengochea.

People are doing whatever they can to help. A group of volunteers from Maryland with a heated horse ambulance will be meeting Gentle Carousel in Newtown so the Florida horses will stay warm. A Newtown horse farm will have stalls and pastures for the horses to relax in after work. A horse transportation company is helping get the minis part way to Connecticut.

Magic, the most well-known of the Gentle Carousel Horses, was selected by AARP’s magazine as The Most Heroic Pet in America, and will be among the horses traveling to Connecticut. “Our horses have been featured in all kinds of magazines,” said Garcia-Bengochea. Magic was also selected by TIME Magazine / CNN as one of History’s Ten Most Heroic Animals (the only living animal on the list), as well as Reader’s Digest / Americantowns’ Power of One Hero (the only non-human Power of One Hero) and was one of Newsweek / The Daily Beast’s Ten Most Heroic Animals in America of 2010.

“Hugh Jackman even talked about our horses on Broadway,” said Garcia-Bengochea. “He was very gracious,” she said, and even invited her husband, Jorge, on stage to dance.

“Aladdin, our all white horse, will be going as well,” she said. Others are still being determined, but a total of four horses, including Magic and Aladdin, six volunteers plus Jorge and Debbie Garcia-Bengochea are expected to make the trip.

While the couple and their volunteers are clearly moved by the request, there are still a lot of details that need to be worked out. “We will be staying until well after school starts up again,” said Garcia-Bengochea. “We are usually running in the red,” she said. “We’re somewhat used to that. But this trip will be especially costly.”

The Gentle Carousel program is dependent on donations to help accomplish all the visits made by the organization each year and this visit is no exception. Although donations are coming in, more is needed.

Anyone wishing to donate directly to Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses for the trip to Newtown, Conn. may do so through their donation link at www.facebook.com/TherapyHorses or their website at www.Horse-Therapy.org.

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