Three women were crowned as part of the Miss Gainesville Scholarship Competition's 15th anniversary.  All three will represent the Gainesville area at this summer's upcoming Miss Florida competition in Lakeland, Florida, an affiliate of the Miss America program.

GAINESVILLE, FLA., Jan, 16, 2023 – On Saturday evening, Alexandra de Roos, age 19, was chosen as the new Miss Gainesville. Held at Lincoln Middle School, the Miss Gainesville Scholarship Competition featured 16 candidates from around our state.

Moments after being selected, de Roos shared her excitement about winning the Miss Gainesville title. “I am already looking forward to my year of service in this wonderful city, traveling, meeting new people, and getting the word out about bridging the gap in funding for the fine arts through my non-profit, Peace Love Leotards, Inc.”

As Miss Gainesville, de Roos receives a $1,000 scholarship and the opportunity to compete for the Miss Florida title later this summer in Lakeland, Florida. Currently a student at Columbia University, de Roos is majoring in psychiatry as part of her pre-med studies and one day hopes to work as a sports psychiatrist. During her year as Miss Gainesville, de Roos will travel throughout the area advocating for her social impact initiative.

As a classical ballerina who has was trained at the School of American Ballet in New York City, the issue of funding the fine arts in our schools is an issue of great personal importance. She will talk to various government representatives, business leaders, community groups and citizens-at-large, urging them to get involved in the fight for funding of the fine arts.

“Alexandra de Roos embodies the qualities a role model for all young women and girls should have,” said Rachel Dickhaus, local executive director of the Miss Gainesville Scholarship Competition. “She is talented, ambitious and accomplished. We are excited about working with her this year, especially after her Top 15 finish at last year’s Miss Florida Competition. I have no doubt that she would not only make a fantastic Miss Florida, but a fantastic Miss America.”

Crowned alongside de Roos was Anna Katherine Risalvato, age 19, who was crowned Miss Gainesville’s Outstanding Teen, and Amelia Grace McDonough, age 17, who was crowned as Miss Florida Gator’s Outstanding Teen.

McDonough returns to Gainesville after previously serving as Miss Florida Gator’s Outstanding Teen from 2020-2021. A competitive dancer, McDonough hopes to one day serve her community as a surgeon. She rejoins Gainesville after a successful Top 5 finish in last year’s Miss Florida’s Outstanding Teen competition in Lakeland, Florida.

Risalvato joins the Gainesville area titleholders for the first time after being selected as first runner up for Miss Florida’s Outstanding Teen over the past two competition cycles. A competitive dancer, Risalvato hopes to work as a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall and to earn a doctorate in Kinesiology.

Established in 2008, the Miss Gainesville Scholarship Organization provides opportunities for young women to achieve their personal and professional ambitions. Candidates participate in community service activities and develop leadership skills that help them excel in their chosen career and life goals. A not-for-profit affiliate of the Miss America Organization, the Miss Gainesville Scholarship Organization has made available more than $30,000 in scholarships and in-kind funds to dozens of young women throughout the State of Florida.

Winners of the annual Miss Gainesville Competition are eligible to compete in the Miss Florida Competition, held every June in Lakeland, Florida. The Miss America Organization, a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization, is the nation’s leading advocate for women’s education and the largest provider of scholarship assistance to young women in the United States, awarding millions of dollars annually.

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  • A 2021 study showed that breast milk of lactating mothers vaccinated against COVID-19 contained a significant supply of antibodies that may help protect nursing infants from the illness.
  • A new follow-up study found these antibodies in the stool of infants who consumed the breast milk of vaccinated mothers.
  • These findings are another piece of evidence suggesting that the breast milk of those vaccinated against COVID-19 may help protect babies from the illness.

GAINESVILLE, Fla., J an. 12, 2023 ‒ A new study from the University of Florida provides more evidence that the breast milk of people vaccinated against COVID-19 provides protection to infants too young to receive the vaccine.

This latest study follows up on findings published in 2021 showing that the breast milk of vaccinated people contained antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The new study, published in the Journal of Perinatology, analyzed the stool of infants that consumed this breast milk and found SARS-CoV-2 antibodies there as well.

“Our first study showed there were SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the breast milk, but we couldn’t say if those antibodies were getting through the babies’ gastrointestinal tract and possibly providing protection there,” said Joseph Larkin III, senior author of the study and an associate professor in the UF/IFAS department of microbiology and cell science.

Using a technique called a neutralization assay, the researchers showed that the antibodies found in the infants’ stool offered protection against the virus. The assay begins by isolating antibodies from the stool and adding them to a special line of cells that have the kind of receptors the SARS-CoV-2 virus uses to enter the cell. The researchers then introduce a SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus, which acts like the virus that causes COVID-19 but is safer to use in the lab. The pseudovirus is fluorescent, so when it binds to a cell, the cell lights up.

“We saw that when the antibodies were present, there were fewer fluorescent cells compared to our controls where no antibodies were present,” said Lauren Stafford, one of the study’s first authors and a UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences doctoral student in Larkin’s lab.

“The antibodies run interference and don’t let the virus get to the cells,” Larkin added.

While the virus that causes COVID-19 is often thought of as mainly affecting the lungs, it can also invade the gut, which is why finding antibodies there is significant, the researchers said.

“The antibodies ingested through breast milk may provide a protective coating in the infants’ mouths and gastrointestinal tract,” said Dr. Vivian Valcarce Luaces, the study’s other first author and a postdoctoral fellowship trainee in neonatology.

The study also measured and tested antibodies found in the mothers’ blood plasma and breast milk soon after vaccination and then again about six months later. The researchers found that the antibodies in the plasma and milk of vaccinated people were better able to neutralize the virus, though they also observed that antibody levels decreased at the six-month mark, which other vaccine studies have found as well.

Dr. Josef Neu, one of the study’s co-authors and a professor in the UF College of Medicine department of pediatrics, division of neonatology, said the first and second studies together give a more complete picture of how vaccinating against COVID-19 during pregnancy and breastfeeding may be protective for parent and child.

“In our research, we’re following the journey of the antibodies, from the time they are produced in mom after vaccination and now through the baby’s digestive system. The next question is whether those babies are less likely to get COVID-19,” Dr. Neu said.

The researchers say larger studies are needed to answer that question, as this latest study included 37 mothers and 25 infants, a relatively small number of participants.

However, this study adds to a growing body of research revealing how vaccination against COVID-19 during pregnancy and breastfeeding may protect newborns, the researchers say. Currently children under sixth months of age cannot receive the vaccine, so breast milk may be the only avenue for providing immunity.

The study was funded by grants from the Children’s Miracle Network and The Gerber Foundation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends COVID-19 vaccination for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant or who may become pregnant in the future. According to the CDC, as of late November 2022, just over 70% of pregnant people in the United States had completed the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines, though only 14% had received the bivalent booster.

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WALDO ‒ Amir Jamal Jackson, 33, of Waldo, was arrested on Sunday, Jan. 1, and charged with attempted burglary of an occupied dwelling, making a threat to kill a former girlfriend and possession of scram/MDPV with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of a park.

An Alachua County sheriff’s (ASO) deputy responded to a home in Waldo, where Jackson allegedly jumped a fence to bang on the window of a woman he previously dated. He also allegedly yelled through her window and threatened to kill her. The deputy noted that ASO responded to the property on three other dates in December when Jackson was there without permission to be on the property.

On the same day a neighbor also completed a sworn statement saying that he heard the yelling and stepped outside to see what was going on. He said that when he saw Jackson, Jackson jumped the fence between the properties, entering his property. The neighbor said he scared Jackson off his property and saw Jackson jump the fence back over to the original property.

Jackson was located at a park in Waldo. ASO reports that post Miranda, Jackson admitted being on his former girlfriend’s property and on the neighbor’s property and that he had words with both parties. He claimed he was there to collect his belongings, but the deputy noted that another deputy had previously accompanied him to collect his belongings. He denied making any threats toward his former girlfriend.

In a search incident to arrest, the deputy reportedly found six bags of white rocks that Jackson said were “scram,” also known as MDPV. The deputy noted that the scram was packaged for distribution.

Jackson has three felony convictions, including a conviction for sexual activity with a 16- or 17-year-old, for which he served a state prison sentence of six years, seven months and 15 days after violating the original sentence of sexual offender probation by using marijuana and not paying the required costs of supervision. He was released in December 2021.

In addition, Jackson has violated probation on four separate occasions from 2014 – 2018.

Jackson is currently in the Alachua County Jail under an $80,000 bond

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SPIRIT OF THE SUWANNEE MUSIC PARK AND CAMPGROUND, LIVE OAK, FLA – Looking for a great weekend with music in the Music Hall, dancing, hiking, camping and more? Make your reservations now for the weekend of Jan. 20-22! The weekend begins Thursday night with karaoke hosted by Ted McMullen from 7-10 p.m. with great Georgia country artist Liz Faith Friday, Jan. 20 and one of Jacksonville’s best multi genre singers, Godiva, Saturday night, Jan. 21!

If you like to camp, come spend the weekend! Music is every Thursday-Saturday night in the Music Hall where you can enjoy good food, a good time, meet your friends and DANCE!

Popular country artist Liz Faith returns Jan. 20 to the Music Hall stage! Liz, who has thrilled her many fans multiple times at the SOSMP, brings that Georgia country music you love and plenty of it too! This Georgia girl began her singing career as a teen, has headed up a very successful band of her own and currently performs solo all over Georgia and North Florida. Come on out Friday, Jan. 20, and enjoy this wonderful artist.

Saturday, Jan. 21, another one of the most loved artists who performs at the SOSMP, Godiva, will take the stage in the Music Hall. An actress who auditioned for national talent contests, has been trained by a former Nashville artist, won a place in the Suwannee River Jam last year, competed in many talent contests and is an all-around singer who brings pop, jazz, country, gospel, classic rock, standards and writes alternative pop and tropic rock. gospel, jazz, blues and country. Godiva is among the many great artists who perform at the SOSMP! You will not want to miss her performance!

Performers Thursday, Friday and Saturday night take the stage from 7-10 p.m., doors open at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 5 p.m. only on Thursday for supper.

Karaoke is held each Thursday night in the Music Hall with Ted McMullen as host. Ted and karaoke singers entertain from 7-10 p.m., doors open at 5 p.m. (only on Thursday nights!) to the Music Hall for supper and a chance to visit with others before karaoke begins. Bring your own CD, music or use Ted’s vast music library! If you haven’t visited Karaoke, try it! You will find many new and old friends of all ages there having the time of their lives. Come Join them!

The SOS Café is open daily Thursday – Saturday for breakfast, lunch and supper. Live music Friday and Saturday nights in the Music Hall from 7-10 p.m. For Music Hall reservations, please call the SOS Café at 386-364-1703 Thursday-Saturday. During live event performances, a minimum of $5 per person is required unless otherwise specified.

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NEWBERRY ‒ The year’s first Planning and Zoning Board meeting was kicked off by a request for preliminary plat approval for Morlynn Properties, LLC. Morlynn Subdivision is proposed on 1.69 +/- acres located at 25749 S.W. 1st Avenue.

The Morlynn Subdivision was recently rezoned from Residential, Single-Family (RSF-2) to Planned Development (PD) on July 11, 2022. This property is wholly or partially located within the Urban Service Area, Community Redevelopment Area, Historic District, Economic Development Opportunity Area and Transportation Enhancement Project Area.

The subdivision will contain 15 lots for construction of detached single-family residences. The existing home on the proposed Lot 15 will be preserved and incorporated into the Planned Development. Access to the homes will be by a private alley. Maintenance of the “open space” and alley will be controlled by a homeowners’ association. Electric, potable water and sanitary sewer services will be provided by the City. Utilities are proposed to be located in the alley.

Newberry Principal Planner Jean-Paul Perez said that the proposed request is consistent with the City of Newberry Comprehensive Plan and the Land Development Recommendations and he recommended that the Planning and Zoning Board forward a recommendation for approval to the City Commission.

Following discussion, the request was approved with two recommendations; the first of which was that the Commission require that the engineer consult the County arborist regarding the best way that sidewalks could be constructed with the least harm to the existing trees. The second recommendation was that the Commission requires that foundation surveys be conducted. The second recommendation followed discussion regarding two individual homes that were built by two separate contractors and were found to have their foundation locations inconsistent with the original plans.

In other business, the Planning and Zoning Board next considered four applications for changes to the City’s Comprehensive Plan that would clear the way for the City Commission to approve rezoning of the properties.

As part of the process to incorporate properties into the city limits of Newberry, each request must go through annexation, Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPA) and rezoning from County designation to City designation. The four properties were annexed into Newberry on July 11, 2022.

All four CPAs were unanimously approved for recommendation by the Planning and Zoning Board and are scheduled to be heard by the City Commission at their Jan. 23 meeting.

The first application was for 22.75 +/- acres owned by Joshua P. and Tracie A. Blackford. The property is located on the west side of the intersection of Northwest County Road 235 and Northwest 46th Avenue.

The next application was for 4.35 +/- acres owned by Clifton A. and Shari D. Brown. The property is located on the west side of Northwest 32nd Avenue.

An application for 20.68 +/- acres owned by Richard Marion Fowler II was also approved. The property is located on the southwest corner of West Newberry Road/State Road 26 and Southwest 266th Street.

The final application was for 40 +/- acres owned by Martin and Martin (20 acres) and Todd and Lori Martin (20 acres). The property is located on the east side of Northwest 298th Street (County Line) in the southwest quadrant of Section 19, Township 17 East, Range 9 South.

Once the CPAs were approved, the Board considered changing the zoning from Alachua County Agricultural to City of Newberry Agriculture (A).

All four zoning applications were recommended for approval as well and will also be heard by the City Commission at their Jan. 23 meeting.

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HAWTHORNE ‒ A pile of burning debris in Hawthorne got out of hand Monday afternoon, Jan. 9. Units from Alachua County Fire Rescue’s (ACFR) Station 62 in Hawthorne were dispatched to the small brush fire off of Southeast 171st Street in Hawthorne.

Upon Engine 62’s arrival, crews found a large debris pile on fire that had gotten out of control. The fire caught approximately 100 large hay bales on fire and was spreading into the field. Engine 62 immediately requested assistance and additional units from ACFR, the Windsor Fire Department and the Florida Forest Service responded to the scene.

After knocking down the fire, crews established a tanker shuttle due to a lack of fire hydrants in the area and Florida Forest Service used their bulldozers to break down the burning hay bales.

Crews remained on scene for over four hours. Alachua County Fire Rescue would like to remind citizens to please use caution while burning outside in dry conditions.

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NEWBERRY ‒ The first Newberry City Commission meeting of the year began with a light agenda on Jan. 9. The Commission considered increases to building permit fees on an annual basis, a new Public Facilities zoning district and vacating an unimproved right-of-way.

Commissioner Monty Farnsworth was absent from this meeting. Commissioners Rick Coleman was also not in attendance during the first part of the meeting, but was on hand to consider and vote on two agenda items.

The Commission unanimously approved an ordinance on second reading that removes the building permit fee schedule from the City’s Code of Ordinances. As part of this action, the new Building Permit fee schedule will be reviewed annually as part of the City’s “Fees, Rates, and Charges” schedule considered as part of the annual budgeting process. The current Building Permit fee schedule has not been amended since 2003.

The Commission conducted a Legislative Public Hearing to consider an amendment to the Code of Ordinances to establish the Public Facilities (PF) zoning district to align existing and proposed public buildings and uses with the Public future land use classification. Following discussion, the amendment was approved on first reading.

According to City of Newberry Principal Planner Jean-Paul Perez, the Public future land use classification consists of areas that are used for public buildings and grounds, other public facilities including facilities for sewer, solid waste, drainage and potable water, public health facilities, solar energy facilities/solar farms and educational uses.

Perez said that the proposed Public Facilities zoning district provides flexible land development regulations for local, regional, state and federal agencies and entities to provide diverse services and facilities necessary to serve Newberry residents.

The proposed text amendment modifies the site and development plan process to require City Commission, in lieu of the Board of Adjustment, approval of proposed development within the Public Facilities zoning district. The Planning and Zoning Board will still function as a recommending body. This allows the City Commission to have final approval authority on City projects which may have budgetary implications and history and development by other governmental agencies and entities.

This district may only be applied to government owned or leased land which serves a public purpose.

In other business, following a quasi-judicial public hearing on second reading of an ordinance to vacate a portion of Southwest 2nd Avenue, the Commission approved the request with one condition.

“Following staff review it was found that an overhead electrical line and utility pole encumber the southern portion of the subject right-of-way. This line provides service to the southern abutting parcel,” said Planning and Economic Development Director Bryan Thomas. “Therefore, staff is requesting the ordinance shall not become effective until a replacement utility easement to the benefit of the City for proper purposes is recorded into the Public Records of Alachua County.”

The application was made by Mark L. and Betty D. Clark to vacate a portion of a 50-foot public right-of-way between the CSX Railroad right-of-way and Southwest 252nd Street, and was created by plat dedication on the Original Newberry plat (Plat Book A, Page 129, ACPR). Vacating this right-of-way will return the lands it encumbers to the adjacent owners, the Clark’s, who are owners of the property located at 180 S.W. 252nd Street, the abutting parcel north of the subject right-of-way. Their application contains the signature of the owner south of the subject right-of-way consenting and accepting the vacation.

The unimproved right-of-way is not included on any future right-of-way maps, nor is improvement of it scheduled in the Capital Improvement Plan.

Commissioner Mark Clark was the applicant requesting vacating a portion of Southwest 2nd Avenue, and he abstained from voting on the issue. Commissioner Coleman was present during the hearing, maintaining the required quorum to hold a vote on the matter.

City Manager Mike New announced that City Hall would be closed Jan. 16 in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. A celebratory march will be conducted on that day to begin at Martin Luther King Center to the Municipal Building, where a lunch will be provided for the participants.

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