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GAINESVILLE ‒ Alachua County Fire Rescue (ACFR) reported that one person was extricated and four people were transported to the hospital following a high-speed rear-end collision at the intersection of Northwest 43rd Street and U.S. Highway 441 between Alachua and Gainesville. The incident occurred at approximately 8 p.m., Oct. 26.

ACFR responded with Gainesville Fire Rescue and multiple law enforcement agencies. All northbound lanes of U.S. Highway 441 were closed until 10:30 p.m. while the accident was cleared.

According to a Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), a 2007 Lexus, driven by a 45-year-old Alachua person, was traveling north on U.S. 441, after turning left from Northwest 43rd Street. The Lexus had two passengers, a 20-year-old Alachua man and a 44-year-old female, also from Alachua.

A 2002 GMC pickup truck driven by a 20-year-old Branford man disregarded the red light and struck the rear of the Lexus. After the initial collision the pickup truck came to a final rest in the left northbound lane. The Lexus came to a final rest on the east shoulder.

A third vehicle, a 2017 Nissan driven by a 41-year-old Alachua woman, was traveling north on U.S. Hwy 441. The driver failed to notice the disabled/stopped pickup truck in the left lane until the front of the Nissan struck the rear of the pickup truck.

A fourth vehicle, a 2017 Toyota driven by a 40-year-old Gainesville woman failed to slow or stop in time. The front of her Toyota struck the rear of the Nissan. Two passengers were also in the Toyota, a 10-year-old female and a 12-year-old boy, both from Gainesville.

Significant damage was done to two of the vehicles and FHP listed the driver of the pickup truck and the driver and passengers in the Lexus as serious. One patient was removed with the “Jaws of Life,” and ACFR reported that four patients were transported to the hospital with injuries ranging from minor to severe. The driver/passengers in the Nissan and Toyota were listed with no injuries based on the FHP report.

Alachua Police Department reported that three patients were transported in critical condition.

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NEWBERRY ‒ The Newberry City Commission on Oct. 24 approved the Developer’s Agreement for Avalon Woods LLC Phase 2 and a resolution for approval of construction plans related to Phase 2.

Phase 2 is located east of US 27/State Road 45, on the north side of Northwest 16th Avenue and consists of 26.59 +/- acres. The proposed population density of Phase 2 is approximately 10 persons per acre, with a building density of four per acre.

Conditions included in the agreement call for provision of utility infrastructure improvements, as well as who is responsible for which items and when. A total of 106 single-family residential units are planned for Phase 2.

The agreement calls for the City to provide potable water and sewer and the developer will extend service lines to accommodate the development. The Home Owners Association (HOA) documents are required to stipulate that the development is located next to a regional park with ball fields and other recreational uses from which lighting and noise may affect neighboring properties.

In a second action related to Avalon Woods Commissioners also unanimously approved a resolution for approval of construction plans related to Phase 2. Newberry Planning and Economic Development Director Bryan Thomas said the application was reviewed by the City’s Development Application Review Team (DART), and no objection was found with the request. The developer plans to develop the area defined as green space prior to beginning another phase of construction.

Lakota Subdivision

The Commission unanimously approved the Preliminary Plat and a special exception for a Small-Scale Rural Subdivision application for the proposed Lakota subdivision. The subdivision proposes 15 lots on 45.53 +/- acres with a density of one dwelling unit per three acres. The minimum lot size is two acres, and average lot size is 2.85 acres. Access is provided along the internal roads in the subdivision, which will be privately owned and maintained by a Homeowners Association (HOA). Electric utility services will be provided by Clay Electric. Potable water and wastewater services will be well and septic systems.

The developer voluntarily agreed to increase the undisturbed buffer from 25 feet to 40 feet along the western plat limits in lots five – eight and has agreed to a 50-foot perimeter buffer around the entire property. Ingress and egress is to 15th Avenue and the subdivision will be a gated community. Concern about turnaround for emergency vehicles has been addressed, but will be considered further at a later hearing.

Prior to the acceptance of application for Final Plat, the developer is required to provide paving, grading and drainage drawings showing road access to lots five – seven.

Road Vacated

The City Commission has unanimously approved vacating a portion of Southwest 2nd Avenue on first reading. The road is a 50-foot public right-of-way and runs between CSX Railroad right-of-way and Southwest 252nd Street. It was created by plat dedication on the Original Newberry plat.

As the applicant was Mark and Betty Clark, Commissioner Clark stepped down from the dais and recused himself from consideration of the matter. The Clarks live at 180 S.W. 252nd Street. Larry Lund, who lives at 210 S.W. 252nd Street, is the owner south of the right-of-way and has signed the application consenting and accepting the vacation.

A power pole located in the middle of the right-of-way will remain and the City will maintain the easement. In vacating a roadway, the two property owners will receive half of the property or 25 feet each.

Entrance to Newberry

In other City business, the Commission has approved an “Entrance to Newberry” sign for approximately $40,000. City Project Manager Armon Lowery showed Commissioners three options for “Entrance to Newberry” signs. Commissioners voted for Option 1. The cost for masonry only is $22,800. However, by the time all is completed, the total cost will be approximately $40,000. An architectural drawing of the proposed sign will have to be completed prior to construction. City Manager Mike New said the funds are in the budget to pay for this expense. Commissioners also approved installing the sign at 202nd Street and State Road 26/Newberry Road.

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NEWBERRY ‒ A second individual has been arrested for a Sept. 19 carjacking in High springs. Justin Will Croft, 29, of Live Oak, was arrested in Suwannee County and transferred to the Alachua County Jail on Oct. 12. He has been charged with carjacking, along with Justin Lee Rimes, 24, who was arrested on Sept. 21.

An Alachua County Sheriff’s Deputy responded on Sept. 19 to a report of a carjacking in High Springs. The victim said that Croft, a friend of his, had come to his house recently with Rimes and that he had given the two men a ride to Lake City in a pickup truck owned by his father.

The victim said that during the drive, Rimes started yelling at him and hit him in the face. The victim said he stopped the truck and got out in High Springs. Rimes got into the driver’s seat and drove away. The victim called 911 from that location.

License plate readers showed that the truck had been driven to Marion County.

On Sept. 21, the victim reportedly told deputies that he had been contacted by Croft over Snapchat. The message reportedly asked for the victim’s address so the truck could be returned. Later that night, Croft and Rimes reportedly returned to the victim’s home with the truck.

Deputies responded and took Rimes into custody. They also made contact with Croft, who reportedly told them he lived with the victim and had borrowed the truck. Deputies released him at the time but later issued a warrant for his arrest after the victim recalled that Croft might have been the one who drove the truck away.

Judge Lorelie Brannan set bail at $250,000 for Croft. Rimes remains in the Alachua County Jail, with bail set at $90,000 by Judge Kristine Van Vorst.

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NEWBERRY ‒ Newberry residents once again came out and expressed concerns about a 258-acre proposed development under consideration by the Newberry City Commission on Oct. 24.

The proposed Westone development straddles Southwest 15th Avenue and Southwest 266th Street/County Road 337. The Planned Residential Development (PRD) is laid out into two areas of residential development, with detached housing types located on the west side of CR 337 and a combination of attached and detached housing on the east side.

Citizens voiced concerns, including a request that the City require developers to hold a meeting with neighbors prior to considering a large development by the Planning and Zoning Board, overall loss of green space and traffic issues. Mayor Jordan Marlowe asked the developer to consider designing the crosswalk for golf carts as well as pedestrian traffic and that a roundabout might be considered to slow traffic in that area.

Area A, which is located on the west side of Southwest 266th Street, contains the open space and proposes 590 detached single-family dwelling units. Area C, located on the east side of Southwest 266th Street, contains no open space and proposes 260 detached and attached single-family dwelling units such as townhouses or row houses.

An application for a large-scale amendment to the City’s Future Land Use Plan Map was presented by JBPro Group, Inc.’s Director of Civil Engineering Chris Potts, acting as agent for property owners Jason, Mary, James, Connie, Paul, Tammy and Lewis Coleman and Austin, Emma and David Mattox. The amendment request changes the Future Land Use from Agriculture to Residential Low Density on the 258.3 +/- acres.

Potts said that the developers will provide a crosswalk across CR 337, a road which has been identified as dangerous because of curves. Alachua County has jurisdiction over CR337, and the developer must consult with the County regarding a crosswalk.

Conditions of approval included traffic calming measures, the CR 337 pedestrian crosswalk and completion of the open space prior to Phase 2 commencement.

Commissioners unanimously approved the large-scale amendment application and directed staff to transmit the application to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) in Tallahassee for state review. The review process usually takes 30 – 45 days.

In a related matter, the Commission approved 3-1 to rezone the same 258.3 +/- acres from Agricultural (A) and Residential (Mixed) Single-Family/Mobile Home (RSF/MH-2) to Planned Residential Development (PRD). Commissioner Tony Mazon cast the dissenting vote.

The zoning change will allow detached single-family dwelling units on Area A and a combination of detached and attached single-family dwelling units on Area C.

Citizen concerns expressed were that a 10-foot buffer was not adequate unless a wall was also included at the front of the property. Residents also called for sidewalks and traffic mitigation. But the issue of greatest concern was that although an environmental study of the property had been performed, one resident said there was toxaphene on the property that should be mitigated prior to construction.

According to Potts, the Department of Environmental Protection would be reviewing the application and the City will get feedback from the County if they believe the environmental study was not adequate.

A traffic study will be done during the final development approval stage and that will dictate what improvements need to be made to the road to mitigate traffic issues. Potts said the traffic study would determine what improvements need to be made to the road prior to each phase of development. If improvements are not made, the development will not continue into the next phase until the required improvements for that phase have been completed.

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GAINESVILLE ‒ Ny’trell Eugene Perry, 23, was arrested on Oct. 20 and charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon following an investigation into the shooting death of Michael Reed, Jr., on May 1. The shooting occurred at the Southwest Downtown Parking Garage in Gainesville. Perry was charged with swinging at a man from Ocala with his gun, at which point the gun accidentally went off. A few minutes later that man reportedly saw Perry pointing a gun at him and fired in self-defense, killing Reed.

The altercation began just before 2 a.m. on May 1 when a group of four men from Hawthorne and Gainesville got into a verbal fight with a group of four people from Ocala. Tensions escalated while two members of the Ocala group smoked cigarettes before getting into the car to leave; the owner of the car, which was reportedly new, would not let them smoke in the car, so the group waited for them to finish smoking while both groups were yelling back and forth.

Micah Sexton of Ocala, reportedly fearing that the verbal sparring could escalate, retrieved his gun from under the seat in the car and put it into his pocket, although he did not have a concealed carry permit.

Reed had gone to a different floor of the parking garage during the altercation, but another member of the Hawthorne group called him, and video surveillance reportedly shows Reed quickly running down the stairs to join the rest of the Hawthorne group. After he arrived, the four men reportedly walked toward the Ocala group’s car. Video surveillance reportedly shows Perry with his hand hovering over his left hip while they walk toward the car.

Video surveillance reportedly shows Sexton putting his hands up as the other men approach. His hands appear to be empty. Video also reportedly shows one of the Hawthorne men, Marvin Zackary King, hitting one of the Ocala men with a “sucker punch,” causing his head to snap back quickly. The groups began fighting at that point.

Video reportedly shows Perry raising a Glock 19 with a 30-round extended magazine, then swinging the gun toward Sexton. The gun fired accidentally and the bullet struck the wall behind Sexton. Perry’s gun reportedly malfunctioned at that point, making it inoperable.

Sexton reportedly took his gun out of his pocket and looked for the source of the gunshot. Perry reportedly saw Sexton holding his gun, then raised his gun and pulled the trigger, allegedly attempting to shoot Sexton, but the gun did not fire. Sexton reportedly reacted in self-defense by shooting at Perry, but the bullet hit Reed in the chest. Reed later died from the gunshot wound.

After the gunshot, the parties sought cover behind cars. Perry then reportedly ran down to a lower floor of the parking garage, where he met up with the other two members of his group. According to an account from one of those men, Perry did not tell either of the men that he saw Reed dying on the ground.

King, the man who delivered the “sucker punch,” was charged with simple battery via sworn complaint in May, but the charge was later dropped.

Sexton was charged with carrying a concealed firearm without a permit via sworn complaint in May, but that charge was also dropped.

Perry has a juvenile criminal history.

Judge Thomas Jaworski set bail at $50,000, with a requirement for a GPS monitor.

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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ It was a day of fun celebrating the autumn season as High Springs held its First Annual Fall Festival on Saturday, Oct. 22 under a clear sunny sky and mild fall weather. Several local organizations combined their efforts and events to produce a city-wide collection of activities celebrating the fall and Halloween.

The Fall Festival was organized by the High Springs Chamber of Commerce, and the event was located on the grounds of the High Springs Museum, which also sponsored several other events in conjunction with the festival. The chamber brought in vendors selling a variety of art and products along with several food vendors including the High Springs Lions Club. But the festival was just part of the variety of a full day of fun in the downtown area.

The High Springs Museum also sponsored a BBQ contest, gave tours of the museum, displayed a model train exhibition for the kids and later hosted a ghost tour around town. The ghost tour started at the Museum, which is allegedly haunted by a former teacher when the building was the town school, and ended at the Grady House, another place in town with a reputation for being haunted. The model train exhibition featured several train collectors who set up displays with running trains inside the museum.

The BBQ contest attracted a number of competitors for prizes and bragging rights in categories for pork, chicken and ribs, as well as an over-all winners award for “Pit Boss.” Winners in each category were: Pork and Chicken - Jeannee Que; Ribs and Salads - Good BBQ; and the “Pit Boss” winners were Jeannee Que and Gary Blevins. Cash prices were awarded for 1st to 3rd place in each category with $100 for 3rd place, $150 for 2nd place and $200 for 1st place. The Pit Boss winner received $300.

The High Springs New Century Women's Club sold sandwiches, hot dogs and baked goods to provide funding to a local day care center and an environmental organization with a focus on river cleanups and other environmental issues.

In the downtown district, 15 businesses offered candy to young trick or treaters who came by in costume. The Kiwanis Club held their annual pumpkin decorating contest held at the Farmers Market off Main Street. Local residents brought in 36 pumpkins they had decorated, many by children involved in art classes at the Good News Art Gallery. To keep the competition fair, there were three age groups consisting of up to 6 years old, 7-12 years and 13 to adult. There were also two groups for organizations or businesses.

Josephine Web won 1st place in the up to 6 category. Elise Knutson won the 7-12 category as well as a $50 prize from the High Springs CRA for the best representation of High Springs with her carved out pumpkin filled with blue jello and miniature figure representing Poe Springs. Local artist Larry Behnke took first place in the 13 and up category with his “Purple People Eater” pumpkin.

Prizes were given for 1st to 3rd place winners in each category. For the younger children, they received a Halloween basket full of candy, prizes and ice cream certificates from Fla Creamery. The older children's group received Halloween baskets with candy, crayons, prizes, coupons from Hardees and free Ice Cream from Florida Creamery. The 13 and up group received woven baskets with a candle and shirt from Bird’s Nest, a gift certificate from Lanza Gallery, and coupons from Lion’s Lair, Pink Flamingo, Steak Out, Woman’s Club spaghetti dinner, and Bambi’s Cafe. There were also awards given to Reva Huey for Refined Furniture for the business entry and a coupon for $100 in pizza was awarded to the High Springs Parks and Recreation Department for the city employees’ entry.

Joining forces by combining multiple events provided visitors a wide variety of activities and entertainment throughout a busy day. “We were very pleased with the results and efforts of everyone to make this a success,” said Chamber President Sharon Johns Decker. Everyone had fun and the vendors did well on sales. They were all asking to sign up for next year’s event already.”

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ALACHUA ‒ Gabriel Adonis Gutierrez, 56, of Alachua was arrested on Oct. 18 on a warrant and charged with sexual battery or attempted sexual battery with injury on a person under 12 and lewd or lascivious molestation on a person under 12.

Alachua Police Department said that the incident happened at Sherwood Oaks Apartments in Alachua on April 23, 2021, but no other information is being released at this time.

Gutierrez is being held without bond.

Anyone with information pertaining to this case or possible victims is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Howell with the Alachua Police Department.

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