NEWBERRY ‒ The City of Newberry's Finance and Administration Department has been awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting. This accolade, presented by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada, recognizes the Department's Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR) for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2022.

The City’s annual comprehensive financial report underwent evaluation by an impartial panel, which confirmed its adherence to the program's rigorous standards. These include a constructive “spirit of disclosure” to communicate the City's financial narrative clearly, encouraging engagement and comprehension among various users and user groups.

This marks the City’s fifth receipt of this prestigious award, an honor achieved by fewer than five percent of government entities.

“The successful preparation of our financial report clearly reflects our team's unwavering commitment to financial integrity and excellence,” said Dallas Lee, Newberry Assistant City Manager and Chief Financial Officer. “This accomplishment is not merely about meeting standards; it's about surpassing them to ensure the utmost clarity and accuracy in our financial reporting for our community.

“The collaborative efforts of our staff across all departments have been instrumental in achieving this standard of excellence. It's a collective endeavor that honors our commitment to ethical financial management and sets a benchmark for excellence in governmental accounting.”

The Certificate represents the pinnacle of governmental accounting and financial reporting. Attaining it is a significant achievement for the City, underscoring a commitment to transparency and clear disclosure in handling City funds.

“It is a tremendous honor for the City of Newberry to be recognized with this award once again,” said City Manager Mike New. “Recognition with this prestigious award for the fifth time is a testament to the dedication and expertise of our finance team. Their meticulous work, rooted in financial integrity and excellence, has been vital in maintaining the city's reputation for transparent and responsible financial management.

“This achievement is more than an award; it's a reaffirmation of our collective commitment to upholding the highest financial reporting and management standards. Congratulations to our finance team for once again demonstrating the exceptional skill and diligence that Newberry is known for.”

The Government Finance Officers Association initiated the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Program in 1945. The program encourages state and local governments to exceed the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles. It focuses on preparing comprehensive annual financial reports that embody the spirit of transparency and full disclosure and recognizes governments that successfully fulfill these criteria.

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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ The High Springs Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) hopes to extend its sunset date to 2046 and voted unanimously to approve a CRA 2023 Plan update, which also includes an expanded designated area. The CRA is responsible for implementing redevelopment activities in specific areas in High Springs.

The original High Springs CRA Plan was adopted in 1986. Discussion and agreements in 2020 with Alachua County regarding extension of the “sunset” provisions set in motion subsequent updates. In August 2021 the board completed a Strategic Action Plan undertaken in March through June of that year.

The High Springs CRA 2023 Plan Update includes an added expansion area that meets the criteria to be classified as blighted. On Jan. 15 2024, GAI Consultant Community Solutions Group (CSG) Senior Advisor Thomas Kohler addressed the High Springs CRA board to request approval of updates to the CRA Plan.

Kohler said that Florida Statutes Chapter 163 allows the CRA to be extended for a total of 60 years, which would extend it to 2046. “I don’t know if Alachua County would agree to that,” said Kohler, “but they could say they’ll go 5 years or 10 years, but right now we’re asking for the full 60 years.”

Kohler reviewed the plan, indicated the expansion area and explained what the potential revenue to the CRA fund might be during various optional expanded time periods.

In other business, High Springs Police Chief Antoine Sheppard addressed the Board to report that he, City Manager Ashely Stathatos and Mayor Katherine Weitz recently traveled to Tallahassee to meet with state appropriation board members and the lobbyist hired by the previous city commission to garner support for a police station funding request. High Springs is requesting a three-year appropriation of $800,000 annually.

Farmers Market Survey

Results from the recent Farmers Market Survey prompted CRA Manager Amy Bohannon to suggest additional signage and adding musical performances might help to make the High Springs Farmers Market (HSFM) more of a destination. The survey was developed to garner customer insights, what attracts customers to the High Springs Farmers Market (HSFM), customer preference as far as products and activities and customer loyalty.

City Manager Ashley Stathatos also suggested increasing the variety of produce sold at the market, and that adding sellers who carry olive oil, homemade breads or specialty spices may attract more visitors. She said the Board should provide some direction as to what they want to do based on the survey results.

The survey, developed by Sharon Yeago, was sent out in utility bills and posted on the City’s web page. Some 420 survey responses were received (260 paper and 160 online).

Specific questions asked included how citizens heard about the HSFM, where citizens routinely shop, what citizens like most and least about the market, how they feel about the variety of products available and what the shoppers specifically seek to purchase when they visit the HSFM.

Questions were also asked about what types of educational activities visitors might like to see at the market and what, if any, price they would be willing to pay for those activities. Questions also included the responder’s familiarity with the market and how often they shopped there.

The Board tabled this item to the next meeting to give staff further time to suggest a plan of action and to share the survey results with the current HSFM director.

In other CRA business, Bohannon said she has received only one application for the façade grant, but has heard from others who expressed interest. She suggested that she might extend the deadline to give more people time to respond.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Below are the updated City of Gainesville traffic impacts scheduled for Feb. 16-23, 2024. 

New Notices

 NE Fourth Ave.: Northeast Fourth Avenue from 2325 NE Fourth Ave. to NE 22nd Ter. will be closed from Tuesday, Feb. 20-Friday, Feb. 23 between 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

NE 13th Street: Northeast 13th Street from Northeast First Avenue to Northeast Third Avenue will be closed from Tuesday, Feb. 20-Friday, Feb. 23 between 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Continuing Notices  

SE Fifth Ave.: Southeast Fifth Avenue will be closed with detours between Southeast Third Street and Southeast Sixth Terrace until Feb. 23.

NW 12th Drive: Northwest 12th Drive from Northwest Fifth Avenue to Northwest Third Avenue is currently closed northbound, but is open as a one-way street heading southbound. This is expected to end March 1.

SW 52nd Street: The eastbound right turn-lane onto Southwest 52nd Street from Southwest 20th Avenue is closed until March 25.

Southeast First Ave.: Southeast First Avenue (eastbound only) will be closed between South Main Street and Southeast First Street until April 1.

Clark Butler Blvd. area: The new traffic signals at Clark Butler, Southwest 62nd Boulevard, Southwest 43rd Street are turned on (in flashing mode). The traffic is guided through the intersection with traffic control devices.

Please be advised that this report covers the roads maintained by the City of Gainesville. For roads within Gainesville maintained by other agencies, please visit the following:

 

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GAINESVILLE - Alachua County Youth Fair and Livestock Show Association is pleased to announce the upcoming 2024 Alachua County Youth Fair & Livestock Show from Feb. 29 to March 5, 2024, at the Alachua County Agriculture and Equestrian Center (23100 W Newberry Road, Newberry). The event is free and open to the public.

 The fair is an educational platform for the youth in Alachua County interested in agriculture. Youth will exhibit both livestock and non-livestock 4-H & FFA projects.

 “The youth fair benefits agriculture and the local community by providing an educational opportunity for youth to learn about production agriculture,” said Dr. Cindy Sanders, UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County director. “Working with livestock and other agriculture events through the youth fair prepares future citizens of Alachua County to be knowledgeable about agriculture production and land use. This benefits Alachua County by providing citizens the opportunity to see our 4-H & FFA youth projects.”

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GAINESVILLE, FL - More than 160 students from elementary and middle schools throughout the district will face off in Alachua County Public Schools’ annual robotics competition. There will be two robotics tournaments running simultaneously at the Lincoln Middle School Gymnasium, 1001 S.E. 12th Street.

Close to 50 registered teams will demonstrate their skills in developing, building and operating robots to perform specific tasks, all before event judges. There will be team skills contests as well as a Teamwork Challenge in which teams from different schools must work together to earn points.

All teams are vying for a spot in the Central/North Florida State Vex Competitions held in late March, with the chance to possibly compete at the Worlds Competition in May.

The competition is being sponsored by Gas South, whose donation over many years helps to fund the robotics competitions. In addition, the ACPS Robotics Program received money from Info Tech and other local businesses.

On Thursday, Feb. 15, the Opening Ceremony kicks off at 10 a.m. with competition running from 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., followed by the closing ceremony and awards.

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PENSACOLA, FLA.- Today, Troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), while conducting traffic enforcement in the area of Interstate 10 (I-10) near mile marker 10 in Escambia County, observed an individual driving a white Chevy Avalanche with Texas tags following a dump truck too closely.

Troopers pulled the vehicle over and discovered weapons, including handguns, ammunition, and antisemitic memorabilia.

The driver, identified as Ronald Lee Murray Jr., 42, of Cypress, Texas, was confirmed to be a convicted felon with multiple felony convictions out on bond in Orange County, Florida. Murray also holds no valid Florida driver's license.

Passengers within the vehicle were released, and Ronald Lee Murray Jr. was arrested and transported to the Escambia County Jail without bond on the following charges:

The investigation remains active and ongoing; additional information is not available at this time.

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Photo of typical landfill Special to Alachua County Today

On Feb. 9,2024 the Sierra Club Suwannee-St Johns Group issued the following press release concerning dumping in southeast Gainesville.

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GAINESVILLE, FLA - On Friday, Feb. 9, 2024, seven organizations representing hundreds of residents in Alachua County, sent a letter to the Alachua County Commission urging the County to not honor the Legislative Extension of the Special Use Permit (SUP) that Southeast Landholdings, Inc. had filed. Their original SUP had a stated expiration date of January 22, 2024.

On Dec. 6, 2023. the County learned of Southeast Landholdings intent to exercise the hurricane-related tolling and extension granted under Section 252.363(1)(a), Florida Statutes (2023) [“Tolling and extension of permits and other authorizations”] of Special Use Permit # Z-19-01 for a C&D Landfill Facility on approximately ~48.48 acres located at 3003 SE 15th Street, Gainesville, Florida.

If the Legislative Extension is honored, this action effectively circumvents any public hearing process before the County to vet the continuation of their permit to operate for another 4 – 5 years.

If allowed to continue to operate, the Florence C&D Landfill will expand to double its present height, from 35 feet to 70 feet, all while being situated in the middle of an urban neighborhood in SE Gainesville.

The body of the letter:

We, the seven below-signed organizations ask you to not honor the Legislative Extension of the Special Use Permit for the Florence C&D Landfill.

Approval of this permit would allow the operation to increase in height, nearly doubling the current height of the facility, which operates without a liner, in violation of "design requirements" in FAC Rule: 62-701.730.

  • This site was never properly designed to serve as a C&D landfill.

Historically, this site was first permitted an excavation facility called Feagle Fill Dirt (FFD) and according to records FFD had been illegally dumping on the land from the late 1960’s-1983.

When the Department of Environmental Review enforced a closure plan, FFD claimed economic hardship, with the inability to complete the closure plan, unless they were allowed to continue charging for dumping. The FFD operators filed for a variance requesting all regulations that prohibit disposal of inert materials, specifically road construction debris, in standing water.

  • Water quality and public health for neighboring residents is threatened by continued use of this unlined construction and demolition debris landfill.
  • Records of the pollution plume from the facility demonstrate the flow moving towards Boulware Springs and Paynes Prairie, both important public resources.
  • There is no requirement to continue the use of Florence C&D Landfill.A recent presentation from the Alachua County staff shared information that shows the present waste sites for disposal have at least 20 years of life, without the Florence C&D Landfill. This provides enough time for zero waste programs to come online to assist with appropriate waste reuse and recycling of these materials.

“Zero Waste” is the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.

  • By disproportionally burdening Southeast Gainesville residents, a predominantly Black community, with the noise, dust, and pollution associated with C&D waste greatly hinders efforts to attract both safe and clean investments into this neighborhood.

The residents of Southeast Gainesville have been subjected to the noise, dust, and pollution from this landfill for more than 50 years. This is an environmental injustice that our community must make right.

To protect the health and safety of Southeast Gainesville residents, and to preserve water quality throughout Alachua County, we respectfully ask that you not honor the Legislative Extension of the Special Use Permit for the Florence C&D Landfill and enforce a closure plan in 2024.

Signed by,

Sierra Club Suwannee-St Johns Group

Alachua County NAACP ECJC

Saint Peter Saint Paul Community Council

M.A.M.A. Club

Alachua County Labor Coalition

North Central Florida Indivisible

Florida For All

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