NEWBERRY ‒ The Newberry City Commission talked budget, finances and water rates at the Sept. 6, City Commission meeting, tentatively increasing electric and water rates. All proposed budgets and rates were tentatively approved with a final vote set for Sept. 25.

The Commission approved a tentative millage rate at 5.9000 mills for the City for Fiscal Year 2023-24. The current 2022-23 fiscal year millage rate is 5.9244 mills. Millage is a tax rate assessed for each $1,000 of value; one mill is one dollar per $1,000 of assessed value.

The Commission also approved a proposed budget for the City for Fiscal Year 2023-24 with revenue and other financing sources of $43,167,065. City officials say that increased financing sources include an increase in grant funding, implementation of impact fees by the Newberry City Commission and an infrastructure sales surtax.

“The proposed operating budget expenditures are 22.84 percent more than last year’s total,” said Assistant City Manager and Chief Finance Officer Dallas Lee, which he said relates to new grants and the infrastructure sales surtax passed by voters.

These amounts were determined following five public hearings on the proposed property tax and operating millage rate.

Although these rates were approved tentatively, a final vote will take place at 7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 25, at the next scheduled City Commission meeting.

Electric and Water Rates Increased

The Commission unanimously approved increasing residential electric rates by approximately three percent. City officials estimate that the average residential impact will be an increase of $3.42 per month. There were also slight changes to solar interconnections. “Even after these proposed rate changes, the City will offer competitive rates when compared to other utilities,” said Lee.

Also unanimously approved on first reading was Ordinance 2023-27, which approves a seven percent increase in the water charges.

Regarding wastewater, Ordinance 2023-28 was approved on first reading which increases residential customer charges from $9.18 to $10.10 per month. Non-residential customer charges increased from $13.84 to $15.22 per month.

Wastewater usage charges for residential service for Tier 1 (all consumption) increased from $5.98 to $6.58 per thousand gallons (capped at 15,000 gallons). Wastewater usage charges for non-residential (commercial and industrial services) for Tier 1 (all consumption) increased from $7.21 to $7.93 per thousand gallons.

City officials say that additional requirements placed on the City of Newberry by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are a primary driver of the rate increases in the wastewater system.

Water Storage Project Funding

The Commission also unanimously approved Resolution 2023-51 concerning a loan application for additional water storage capacity that is estimated to be needed within the next five years.

Last year the City of Newberry was awarded funds from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s State Revolving Fund (SRF) to complete a Water Facilities Plan. Of the three alternatives evaluated for providing additional water storage capacity, construction of a new 500,000-gallon elevated water storage tank was the most cost-effective.

The resolution authorizes the City to submit a loan application for project design funds for $566,178. The project will also include construction of a 12-inch water main.

In June 2023, the City was awarded $1 million in a State of Florida Legislative Appropriation, which will be used to pay off the remainder of the planning loan through SRF at $179,300 as well as the engineering design and project management/administration during design fee at $566,178.

The remaining $254,522 from the Legislative Appropriation will be applied toward the estimated $5 million construction phase of the project. City officials say they plan to apply to other funding sources to help defray the construction costs. A waste compensation study was also included on the agenda, but was tabled to the Sept. 25 meeting.

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ALACHUA ‒ The Alachua County Area Association of Pharmacy along with the American Pharmacists Association and the Florida Pharmacy Association were recognized Monday, Sept. 11, 2023, by the City of Alachua Commission by proclaiming October 2023 as American Pharmacists Month. The proclamation read as follows:

Whereas    pharmacists are the most accessible health care providers delivering critical services to patients and contributing to the health and well-being of all people; and

Whereas    pharmacists are best positioned to be the health care provider that ensures optimal medication therapy outcomes, and helps to ensure patients are adherent to their medications; and serve as providers during public health emergencies; and

Whereas    with a community pharmacy located within five miles of nearly all Americans, pharmacists and pharmacy personnel are best suited to work collaboratively with other health care providers and are making an impact in helping patients overcome illness and live healthier lives through chronic disease management and the fully effective use of their medicines; and

Whereas    today, there are over 300,000 licensed pharmacists, over 400,000 pharmacy technicians, and 47,000 student pharmacists providing care and serving as patient advocates for ensuring access to the best and safest therapy to the patients they serve; and

Whereas    the American Pharmacists Association, Florida Pharmacy Association and the Alachua County Area Association of Pharmacy have declared October as American Pharmacists Month.

Now, therefore, be it resolved that I, Gib Coerper, Mayor of the City of Alachua, representing the City and City Commission, do hereby proclaim October 2023 as American Pharmacists Month and urge all our citizens to acknowledge the valuable services of pharmacists to provide safe, accessible, affordable, and beneficial patient care services and products to all residents and protect the public health of our communities.

In witness whereof , I have hereunto set my hand the 11th day of September 2023.

Gib Coerper, Mayor

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ALACHUA—Beaker & Flask Fine Wine and Craft Cocktails, North Central Florida’s newest destination for wine enthusiasts, is delighted to announce the launch of its Wine Academy in partnership with the Society of Wine Educators. This alliance is set to lead wine education in the region by introducing cutting-edge blind-tasting courses, wine-tasting classes, and certifications that provide enthusiasts and professionals an exceptional opportunity to deepen their knowledge and appreciation of wine.

Beaker & Flask's Wine Academy is a significant addition to the state's educational landscape, as it is one of only three wine academies in Florida. This distinction reflects the academy's commitment to elevating the wine education experience and further solidifies its position as a premier destination for wine enthusiasts.

"Our goal is to create an educational platform that doesn't just convey knowledge but fosters a profound connection with the intricacies of winemaking, service, pairing, and tasting,” said Beverage Director and Operations Partner Melody Wilson.

The Beaker & Flask Wine Academy will break new ground with its exclusive curriculum, designed to encompass various topics, including the art of blind deductive tasting, wine theory, and service. From mastering the art of sensory evaluation to identifying complex aromas and flavors, participants will be guided through an immersive experience led by sommeliers, accomplished winemakers, and industry veterans.

“The establishment of Beaker & Flask's Wine Academy is not just about education; it's about building a community of best and next practices in the world of wine," said Elliott Welker, Founder of Beaker & Flask and Certified Specialist of Wine.

This partnership with the Society of Wine Educators ensures that the Wine Academy's curriculum aligns with the highest standards of wine education. As a globally recognized authority in advancing wine knowledge, the Society of Wine Educators brings a wealth of experience and credibility to this collaboration.

"We are thrilled to join forces with Beaker & Flask to establish a destination for preeminent wine education," said Ben Coffelt of the Society of Wine Educators.

Enrollment for the inaugural sessions at Beaker & Flask’s Wine Academy has commenced. For detailed information on course offerings, academy faculty, and registration details, prospective students are encouraged to visit Beaker & Flask’s website at

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ALACHUA - Dexter and Sarajo O’Steen will host a second classic show for charity of the year. The Sept. 30 event runs from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. and will raise funds for Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Dubbed the Fellowship of Christian Athletes D&S Classic Car Show, the event will feature classic cars, trucks and motorcycles, food tents, raffle and awards. The event will be outside at the O’Steen’s Barn, 16811 County Road 241, Alachua. Admission and parking as a spectator to see the car show is absolutely free. There will be a food tent and a 50/50 drawing (cash only) and raffle opportunity. Those wishing to participate may enter their cars, motorcycles and trucks with a $25 cash registration fee per vehicle at the gate. Registration is from 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. with awards at 1:30 p.m. Award categories include GM, Ford, Mopar, Imports, Best of Show, Peoples’ Choice (as voted on by participants), and Spectators’ Choice (as voted on by spectators). Up for grabs are also two Florida Gators vs. Vanderbilt football tickets and two Florida Gators vs. Arkansas football tickets. In addition to the car show featuring participants from across the area, the O’Steens will also allow attendees to enter the barn to view their extensive private collection of classic cars and request only that spectators consider a donation to FCA. The event promises to be a hit as the O’Steens hosted a similar car show for First Global Missions 365 in April, which attracted more than 100 participants. For vehicle registration questions contact Sarajo O’Steen at 352-318-4810. All proceeds go to the ministry of FCA in North Central Florida. Visit to learn more about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes..  

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ALACHUA ‒ San Felasco Tech City (SFTC) will soon be bringing arts and culture into the heart of the innovative development.

San Felasco Tech City Co-developers Mitch Glaeser and Rich Blaser of San Felasco Tech City (SFTC) have announced that Momentum Dance Arts, LLC, will establish a 7,250 square foot dance school and studio in the Alachua location. Momentum Dance Arts (MDA) will occupy space in the newly completed Phase II of the Tech City development and open their new location at SFTC in January 2024.

According to MDA, their mission is to foster a lifetime of love for dance and fitness under the guidance of passionate, dedicated dance instructors who have trained extensively with the world’s top educators, mentors, and teachers. MDA offer a wide variety of dance and fitness classes that allow children to explore the art of dance and find their own path.

"Momentum Dance Arts opened in 2016 in Alachua,” said MDA owner Jamie Perez. “After almost eight years here, it was one of the best decisions we ever made. 

“We love this city and as our programs continue to grow, we are so excited to grow our facility and have the opportunity to stay in Alachua for years to come.

“We are really looking forward to relocating to Tech City January 2024. The energy and innovation surrounding this community is exactly what we were looking for.  As a creative company with a focus on the performing arts serving ages 2 to adult, we invite everyone to give their child the gift of dance and join us at our new state of the art new facility here at Tech City.”

Perez added, “We can’t wait to get here and start getting our tutus on.”

Mitch Glaeser, CEO, Emory Group Companies (Owner of San Felasco Tech City) says that adding a performing arts company as a tenant like Momentum Dance Arts, meets their goal and commitment to integrating art in many forms at San Felasco Tech City.

Dan Drotos Senior Vice President, Colliers, who represented San Felasco Tech City in the transaction, said “Tech City caters to a wide variety of individual needs and interests and MDA will provide yet another wonderful service for the residents and visitors of Tech City and the region.

“We are excited to facilitate Momentum Dance Arts to join the ever-growing list of innovative companies that have decided to call Tech City Home.”

According to Tech City officials, Momentum Dance Arts, LLC will be joining over 50 innovative companies that call SFTC home, including Vobile Inc., Okito America, Neurotronics, Anamar Environmental Consulting, Inc., TIMCO Engineering, Nextgen Biologics, Fracture, Novapproach Spine, Daft Cow Brewery, and Beaker & Flask among others.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the appointment of James Coats IV, Robert Karow, and Eric Lawson to the Gainesville Regional Utilities Authority. These appointments are effective October 1, 2023.
 James Coats IV
 Coats is the Chief Executive Officer of Phalanx Defense Systems. Active in his community, he serves as a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society and was awarded the “Spirit of Gainesville” Award by the Alachua County Chamber of Commerce. Coats earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in business administration from American Military University.
Robert Karow
 Karow is currently retired, previously serving as the Manager, Legal Counsel, and Contracts Manager for Oleoductos de Crudos Pesados. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Earning his bachelor’s degree in economics and business administration from Chapman College and his juris doctor from the University of Florida, Karow has over 40 years of energy experience with an emphasis in oil and natural gas, pipelines, facilities, and power generation.
 Eric Lawson
 Lawson is the Chief Executive Officer of HCA North Florida Regional Hospital. Holding multiple executive leadership positions in hospitals over the past 30 years, he most recently served as the Division Chief Financial Officer for HCA TriStar. Lawson earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Tennessee Technological University.

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GAINESVILLE ‒ A new facility at Santa Fe College will soon help address the severe state-wide shortage in welding and HVAC certified skilled labor. Shovels were raised and dirt was flying as the College held a ceremonial groundbreaking on Monday, Sept. 11 for the Ralph W. Cellon Jr. Institute for Skilled Trades and Advanced Manufacturing.

Construction on the facility is expected to begin next year with a projected opening of fall 2025. The institute will be built on SF’s Northwest Campus located at 3000 N.W. 83rd Street across the street from the SF Gymnasium. It will more than double the college's capacity in the Welding and HVAC programs and the college will also begin a new degree program in Advanced Manufacturing.

The event was well attended by the Florida Legislature with State Senator Keith Perry, State Representative Chuck Clemons and State Representative Bobby Payne attending. Many members of the Cellon family, Santa Fe’s District Board of Trustees, Santa Fe’s Foundation Board members and other dignitaries were in attendance as well.

The facility is being named in honor of Ralph W. Cellon, a longtime supporter of the college. Cellon has been a central figure throughout the college’s history. He helped lead the effort to secure the land where the college’s Northwest Campus is located, served as an inaugural trustee on the college’s District Board of Trustees, and has continuously served for 54 years on the Board of the Santa Fe College Foundation.

“Ralph Cellon has been integral to the growth of Santa Fe College since its inception and it is fitting that this new facility be named in his honor,” Santa Fe President Paul Broadie II said. “He knows the power of a college education, and the need for highly skilled workers in the trades. As demand continues to grow in these industries, students graduating from our programs will be able to enter their career field knowing that they have been trained utilizing the latest technology and are poised for success.”

The new facility will increase space needed for students in SF’s Welding and HVAC programs. When the facility opens, the increased space will enable the college to see a 275 percent increase in the number of students that can be trained in HVAC and Welding.

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