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NEWBERRY ‒ Alachua County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a report of stolen goods at a Newberry residence. Upon arrival Deputies found multiple people who either had active warrants or were in possession of drugs. Jared Adam Butler, 33; Wanda Shelly Snelgrove, 50 and Earl Lee Star, Jr., 43 were arrested and booked into the Alachua County Jail on July 4 just after midnight.

Deputies responded to a 911 call from a woman who said that Star and his daughter had items that had been stolen from her, that the items were at their residence in the 27000 block of West Newberry Road, and that they were refusing to give her belongings back. She also told the dispatchers that Star had an active warrant.

When deputies arrived, they encountered a car coming down the driveway, leaving the property, and they stopped it. Snelgrove was reportedly the front seat passenger. Butler, who was seated in the back of the car, had an active warrant and reportedly had methamphetamines on his person.

The drugs that were found led to a search of the car, which reportedly produced pills that tested presumptive positive for fentanyl, within reach of Snelgrove. Post Miranda, Snelgrove reportedly admitted that the pills were hers.

The deputy reported that a man who came out of the residence told him that Star was inside. However, Star allegedly refused commands to come outside and place his hands behind his back. He was eventually tased and taken into custody. Star has been charged with resisting arrest without violence. According to Alachua County records, he is being held without bond.

Butler was wanted on a warrant from Dec. 29, 2021, for violating multiple provisions of his probation for a petit theft charge. He is being held on $10,000 bond on the drug charge and without bail on the probation violation, pending first appearance.

Snelgrove has a pending criminal traffic case for driving without a valid license; she is being held on $5,000 bond on the drug charge.

Star was arrested in June 2021 on a felony drug charge. He pled nolo contendere to the charge, and adjudication was withheld. A warrant for his arrest was issued in March for violating the conditions of his probation by possessing methamphetamines. He is being held without bond pending first appearance.

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ALACHUA ‒ It was a star-spangled extravaganza Monday as live music, food trucks, and kids’ activities set the stage for a dazzling fireworks show. For the 22nd year, the largest small town fireworks show in America lit up the skies on July 4th at Legacy Park to a crowd of thousands.

This is the first year since 2019 that featured all the activities that are traditionally scheduled for this well-known event. Along with celebrations nationwide, COVID shut down local get-togethers entirely in 2020. And in 2021, the City of Alachua limited the event to an abbreviated celebration with just the fireworks display and social distancing among the crowd due to the continued threat of COVID.

This year, local officials brought back the event in full form with the help of 14 sponsors that provided funding and services to ensure that the show would go on. The gates opened at 3:30 for families to enjoy an afternoon in the park, including a kids corner with numerous free activities for children and a variety of food trucks and beverages.

Over the course of the evening the crowd filtered in, filling the field by showtime. The 10-piece band, Uncle Morty's Rhythm Cream, provided two long sets of music featuring a variety of popular songs from R&B and Funk and Rock. At one point, Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper joined the band on stage playing guitar for one song.

Despite some concerns for the dark clouds that drifted in near showtime, there was no rain, just nature adding its own fireworks with occasional lightning and thunder in the distance.

The band stopped playing at 9:20 p.m. to allow Antionette Hunt to sing the National Anthem and a tribute song to America as the crowd stood and held up cell phones, creating a cell phone light show filling the dark field with thousands of pinpoints of light.

Event emcee Ben Boukari, Jr., and Alachua City Manager Mike DaRoza spoke briefly, thanking the many event volunteers and sponsors and introducing the fireworks show put on by Kynexplosions Inc.

Boukari also spoke about how the show has become so popular and well known that people come from all over to see it and asked the crowd where they were coming from. In addition to people from the Alachua County area and surrounding counties, people came from Alabama and Georgia and one couple was visiting from Canada.

Promptly at 9:30 p.m., the sky lit up as the fireworks began, building to a climax at 10 p.m. that did not disappoint.

“We celebrate this event every year both for the community and to honor the founding fathers’ creation of our country. It is also dedicated to the men and women who have help preserve and maintain our freedom through their bravery and sacrifice,” said DaRoza. “Because of them, we ae a blessed nation where the freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of press are among the countless other freedoms so many of us take for granted every day.”

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ALACHUA ‒ Sitting on Main Street in Alachua, a stately Victorian house reminiscent of San Francisco’s finest Victorians on Postcard Row, is Teatime, Tranquility and Treasures at Willow's Rest. The charming tea house with steep, gabled roofs, decorative woodwork and a turret offers fresh pastries and sandwiches in a relaxing setting that beckons back to yesteryear.

For owners Louis Blair and wife Yvonne Fort, the tea house is the realization of a dream. Blair has been nurturing the vision of a tea house for 30 years. But his life went in a much more dramatic and stressful direction.

Blair spent almost two decades as a flight paramedic on helicopter life flights in Colorado, saving lives of critically injured patients and surviving two helicopter crashes in the process. The couple eventually moved to South Florida where Blair was the patient access manager for an emergency room and Fort ran a geriatric care center they founded.

Six years ago, the couple left the drama of emergency care and retired to Ocala with thoughts of raising and training race horses on their own farm. But fate stepped in, when on June 1, 2016, Blair suffered a massive heart attack. This was a wakeup call for both of them, and they moved to small town life in Alachua and finally opened that tea house they had dreamed about for so long.

“When we first decided to open the tea house, we were very interested in the Manor,” said Blair, referring to the name of the building’s former business. “But it wasn't available at the time, so we opened in a smaller space on south Main Street.”

Blair says they wanted to create a special place where people could come for tea, pastries or sandwiches. “In our endeavor to calm our own lives, we determined that maybe there are others who long for that break in their hectic, pressured life, and take a few moments to slow down and enjoy a special time that we can disconnect and just breath,” said Blair.

His strong interest in antiques led the couple to incorporate a store within the tea house stocked with a variety of items ranging from fine China and pottery to sunhats, antiques and linens. Most are for sale, but some are just to create a relaxing environment and ambiance.

“I like going to auctions and antique sales and have collected all these over the years,” said Blair. “We decided to name the store ‘Teatime, Tranquility and Treasures’ to represent all the aspects of our shop.”

But Blair says the space had its limits and was at the far end of Main Street with less foot traffic. “We still wanted to add the Victorian feel to the tea shop and kept our eye on the Manor.”

When the “Manor” house was offered for lease, the couple jumped at the chance. “We saw our original vision for the tea shop become a reality,” Blair said. While maintaining the Teatime, Tranquility and Treasures name, Blair has renamed the building “Willows Rest.”

“This gives us the ability to expand the business and offer other services as well,” said Blair. The downstairs area features a variety of rooms where people can meet for tea and food. Each room is separated, offering a sense of privacy for gatherings. “We offer a variety of fresh pastries and sandwiches as well as displays of our antiques and pottery, most of which are for sale,” said Blair. “The Victorian décor of the house adds a quiet ambience to the rooms.”

Blair and Fort have plans to become an event venue for weddings, celebrations and business meetings. The upper floor will be used as guest rooms for wedding parties and business meetings along with a library where customers can relax with a cup of tea and read as well as an expanded store. Blair says that for weddings there are also the outdoor garden and gazebo for the ceremonies.

Teatime, Tranquility and Treasures at Willow's Rest opened to the public two weeks ago and is already so popular that the owners suggest reservations during the lunch hour. “We have been swamped in the two weeks since our opening with almost five times the business than at the previous store,” said Blair. “But being that busy is a good thing, and we believe we made the right choice.”

The tea house will be offering a version of a British “High Tea” which features a three-tier tray featuring tea and sandwiches on the bottom level with scones and specialty pastries on the other two. “However, since each High Tea is unique and made to order, reservations are required,” Blair said.

The Teatime, Tranquility and Treasure at Willows Rest is located at 14603 Main Street, Alachua, and is open Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.to 4 p.m. Additional information or reservations can be made by calling 386-243-9199.

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GAINESVILLE - Below are the updated City of Gainesville traffic impacts scheduled for July 8-15, 2022. 
 
New Notices
NW 14th Street: Northwest 14th Street will be closed between Northwest First Avenue and West University Avenue on Tuesday, July 12.   
 
NW Fifth Avenue: Northwest Fifth Avenue will be closed between Northwest 16th and Northwest 17th Streets from Friday, July 8 through Sunday, July 31. 
 
Continuing Notices 
NW 13th Terrace: Northwest 13th Terrace from Northwest Fifth Avenue to Northwest Sixth Avenue will be closed through Sunday, July 17 for wastewater improvements.
 
NW Second Avenue: Northwest Second Avenue will be closed between Northwest 16th and 17th Streets through the end of August 2022.
 
NW Fifth Avenue: Northwest Fifth Avenue will be closed between Northwest 12th Drive and Northwest 12th Street through the end of August 2022. 
 
SE Second Place: There is a single lane closure (westbound) on Southeast Second Place between Main Street and Southeast Second Street. Southeast Second Place will be a designated one-way street for eastbound traffic only. This closure is expected to last until the end of August 2022 to allow for development of a hotel.
  
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 2022.  
 
NW First Avenue: The 1600-1700 block of Northwest First Avenue will be closed until August 2022 to allow for construction of a new development.
l lane and road closures are subject to change due to unforeseen conditions, such as inclement weather.
 
This report covers the roads maintained by the City of Gainesville. For roads within Gainesville maintained by other agencies, please visit the following:
 
University of Florida campus road closures:
 
Alachua County right-of-way road and lane closures: www.alachuacounty.us/depts/pw/pages/currentreports.aspx
 
Florida Department of Transportation right-of-way road and lane closures: https://myfdotnefl.wordpress.com/2016/01/01/laneclosures/

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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ The Santa Fe Canoe Outpost is once again open for business—and pleasure. The City of High Springs bought the property in August 2021 from owners Jim and Sally Wood, who had been running the business for some 31 years. During that time the Outpost became a popular spot to launch trips on the river for both locals and tourists.

High Springs agreed to purchase the business for $600,000 and also to make upgrades to the property, bringing the total to $750,000. While the city had purchased the Outpost to preserve the land and keep river access available to the public, they did not have the staff and services to manage the operation. “We may have some limited hours here and there,” said High Springs spokesperson Kevin Mangan. “There might be a few days that when traditionally the canoe outpost was open for business, that it may not be in the interim. It’s a process and there’s going to be some growing pains along the way.”

Mangan says the daily management of the Outpost will be a team effort between the High Springs Parks and Recreation staff and Anderson’s Outdoor Adventures (AOA). “AOA is currently handling rentals for Poe Springs Park, among others, and will handle a majority of the operations for the Outpost,” said Mangan. “The name ‘Santa Fe Canoe Outpost’ lives on and we keep that spirit alive.”

The City earlier issued bids for a management services firm with extensive experience in the local environment and materials to keep the canoe business going. Anderson's Outdoor Adventures run by Paul Spiller and Charles Anderson was selected to run the operation.

Both men are veterans with Spiller serving eight years in the Marines and Anderson serving in the Air Force. Both men are Florida natives, growing up in the rural areas around Melbourne, and have known each other since their teens.

Spiller and his wife moved to rural Virginia after military service and Anderson had started a business providing services and management for state and regional parks. The Spillers moved back to Florida, and in 2012 along with Anderson, they formed Anderson Outdoor Adventures. The company provides services including food, building and campground maintenance, canoe and kayak rentals, and trip packages. Within a year they were awarded service contracts for Manatee and Fanning Springs.

In 2015, they expanded their services to included transportation for drop offs and pickups at various parks and they were awarded contracts with the state, including Hart Springs, Santa Fe River Park, Gilchrist Blue Springs and Poe Springs. In addition to on-site services, they expanded their business to include pontoon rentals, golf cart rentals, RV rentals, camping equipment rentals, guided river tours and transportation services.

“Both Charles and my family have always been outdoors orientated, growing up fishing, hunting and hiking, canoeing and outdoor living,” said Spiller. “We are conservationists who want to preserve Florida's natural environment while helping others experience our unique land and recreation on the rivers while preserving it for future generations.”

Spiller says they want to maintain the historic feel at Santa Fe Canoe Outpost while updating facilities such as the boardwalk and parking. “Our motto is ‘Adventure today, memories forever,’” said Spiller.

The Santa Fe Canoe Outpost is located at 21410 U.S. Highway 441, High Springs, FL 32643 and is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Information and pricing on various services and canoe trips can be found at aoafun.com or by calling 352-507-0059.

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NEWBERRY – The City of Newberry is set to move forward with a new wastewater treatment facility plan. On June 15, the City Commission voted unanimously to move ahead with the plan as described by Woodard & Curran Project Manager Justin DeMello and to also send the plan to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

State law and growth management best practices require the City to monitor the capacity of its wastewater system to ensure that the capacity is not exceeded as a result of growth and new development. The wastewater treatment facility is authorized to operate and discharge its effluent into the environment via its Florida Wastewater Operating Permit. Newberry renewed its operating permit in 2021. As a condition of the 2021 wastewater permit renewal, the City is required to comply with higher treatment levels for nutrients and biosolids than the existing facility can accomplish.

Currently, Newberry’s wastewater treatment facility has a capacity of 560 million gallons per day (mgd). Based on an evaluation of anticipated growth rates, the City will need to bring additional wastewater treatment plant capacity online between 2025 and 2030.

Newberry will be working to secure project funding. DeMello said that with Commission approval, his firm will be exploring funding opportunities with USDA, FDEP and various other funding agencies.

He estimated total project costs at 40,897,55 including a new tertiary wastewater treatment facility, construction contingency, engineering and permitting services, construction administration services, and fiscal administration and legal at $849,000.

Florida Statutes provide for loans to local municipalities to finance the construction of wastewater facilities. The Florida Administrative Code requires the authorization by the City Commission to formally adopt a facilities plan outlining necessary wastewater facility improvements to comply with State of Florida funding requirements.

“The Facilities Plan for Clean Water is the basis for future funding to help the City obtain funding to keep citizens costs down,” said deMello. “This is a funding application we are moving forward with tonight.”

Commissioner Tim Marden moved to adopt the resolution and authorize staff to proceed. Commissioner Rick Coleman seconded the motion and it was unanimously approved.

In other business, the Commission also unanimously approved sending a loan application to the Florida State Revolving Fund Loan Program for Drinking Water Facilities and authorized staff to initiate development of a planning document/facilities plan with a qualified firm. The cost for the planning process is estimated to be $150,000.

Director of Utilities and Public Works, Jamie Jones said Newberry needs an additional elevated tank for fire flow. He said if the larger of the two existing elevated tanks needed servicing, the smaller tank might not be adequate. The City’s FY 2021-2022 approved budget includes funding for construction of additional water storage facilities.

Because of the low interest loan rates and the opportunities for grant funding, staff recommended utilizing the state’s financing program for the project. The City Commission approved the submission application.

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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ The High Springs City Commission has approved the site plan for Duke Energy’s proposed solar facility. In June 2021, Duke Energy announced plans to build a solar power plant on 700 acres in High Springs. At that time, company officials said that once operational, the 74.9-MW facility will consist of approximately 216,000 single-axis tracking solar panels and the plant will be capable of effectively producing enough electricity to power approximately 23,000 average-sized homes at peak production.

At the June 23, 2022 City Commission meeting, CHW’s Gerry Dedenbach represented Duke Energy to obtain approval for the solar power plant facility to be located on 735 +/- acres of property in the southwestern quadrant of High Springs.

Dedenbach presented an in-depth, step-by-step assessment of Duke’s plan listing each plan review and approval that had been obtained during the process leading up to a request that would result in a zoning change of the property and place it under the City’s regulations rather than the County. As part of that review process the Planning Board also reviewed the application and unanimously recommended approval to the City Commission.

City Manager Ashley Stathatos reported that the site plan had been reviewed by the City Engineer and the site plan review committee. She said the plan has been found to be safely planned and that it meets all applicable City regulations.

The Commission approved on first reading 4-0 an ordinance amending the text of the City’s Land Development Code creating the AG Agriculture Zoning District. Commissioner Ross Ambrose abstained from voting as his company will likely be involved in the construction aspect of the solar array facility.

An additional ordinance also impacting the Duke Energy property was approved on first reading to amend the Future Land Use Plan Map and change the Land Use Classification from County Rural/Agriculture to City Agriculture on the 735 +/- acres south of Northwest 174th Avenue. To the north, south and west of the property is County Rural/Agriculture and to the east of the property is City Rural Residential.

Transitioning from County AG to City AG is a compatible land use change. The AG District is intended to depict those areas of the City that are characterized as rural/agriculture in nature. “This is a zoning district referenced in the Comprehensive Plan and, as such, needs to be created,” said Stathatos.

As a large-scale amendment to the City’s Comprehensive Plan, the proposed ordinance must be forwarded to the state of Florida for review. If no comments are received by the state agencies within 31 days, the ordinance will be considered for second reading by the City Commission.

An additional ordinance to amend the Official Zoning Map and rezone the 735 +/- acres of Duke Energy tax parcels from County Agricultural to City Agriculture was also approved on first reading, but is contingent on state and City approval of the previous ordinance.

To the north, south and west of the property is County Agricultural and to the east of the property is City R-1. Duke Energy’s proposed solar power facility is allowed by right in County and in the City’s AG. Rezoning the property will put it under City regulations rather than County regulations.

By state statute the City may enforce buffer and landscape requirements for solar facilities, but that those requirements may not exceed the requirements for similar uses in agriculture land use and zoning categories.

“Since the City does not have another solar facility,” she said, “staff researched a variety of ordinances from other cities. The buffers and landscaping in this site plan exceeded the requirements in other city ordinances.”

Dedenbach said there is a 150-foot setback around the perimeter of the facility and a 50-foot vegetative buffer as well. Near the residential neighborhood to the east, there is a 100-foot vegetative buffer.

As part of citizen comments on the issue, a list of suggested landscaping items was produced by Janet Evans. Todd Yoho said he had met with project manager Cory Graham, and he seemed agreeable to plant in such a way as to block the solar panels.

Dedenbach emphasized that the site plan is an enforceable document and Stathatos stressed that City staff would follow up to ensure that the plans were enforced.

Vanessa Goff of Duke Energy said they would conduct a preconstruction site visit and would give citizens more say as to the buffering plants used.

Commissioner Linda Jones made a motion to approve the site plan with Vice Mayor Gloria James seconding the motion. The motion was approved 3-1 with Commissioner Katherine Weitz casting the dissenting vote saying she wanted more detailed information. Commissioner Ambrose abstained from voting.

The next City Commission meeting is scheduled for July 14 at 6:30 p.m.

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