GAINESVILLE ‒ On Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024, Assistant State Attorney Nicole Reed presented to the Alachua County Fall Term Grand Jury State vs. Amanda Marie Jazen.

On Dec. 25, 2023, the Gainesville Police Department responded to Walgreens 3909 N.W. 13th Street in reference to a shooting investigation.

Amanda Marie JanzenOfficers arrived and observed the victims, Anna Haslup Terrill and Thomas Lepread Williams, in the parking lot suffering from gunshot wounds. Officers observed a fleeing vehicle that Amanda Jazen, dob 6/29/1985, was driving.

The Gainesville Police investigation determined that Jazen unlawfully shot and killed Haslup and attempted to unlawfully kill Williams.

While Jazen fled from the scene, she had five of her children with her as she led law enforcement on a 15-mile chase.

The Fall Term Grand Jury reviewed all the evidence and returned a True Bill indicting Jazen for first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, fleeing or attempting to elude law enforcement, and five counts of child neglect.  

Jazen was remanded to the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Department of the Jail without bond on the first degree murder charges.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – North Florida Regional Medical Center, one of the state’s largest hospitals, is abruptly suspending surgeries for at least four days to deal with significant concerns about its processes to sterilize surgical instruments.

The suspension affects operations in Gainesville at one of the flagship hospitals for HCA Florida Healthcare, which has 510 beds, sources said. It treats more than 50,000 patients each year and has more than 1,000 employees.

The hospital announced its decision internally late Wednesday. A spokeswoman said in a statement Thursday the move was proactive and described it only as an unspecified “operational matter.”

“We are proactively addressing an operational matter at HCA Florida North Florida Hospital that resulted in the need to temporarily reschedule certain elective surgeries and have notified impacted patients,” communications director Lauren Lettelier said. “Our commitment has always been and continues to be to provide the highest quality of safe patient care to the citizens of North Central Florida and the surrounding area. We thank everyone affected for their patience and understanding.”

Lettelier declined to answer questions or provide any further information.

The hospital directed Alachua County Fire Rescue not to transport patients to the hospital for surgeries but told the agency to disregard that warning early Thursday, assistant fire rescue chief Misty Woods said.

The hospital’s concerns involve the activities of its Sterile Processing Department, the unit that cleans and sanitizes equipment, such as drills and other precision medical tools, that are reused after surgeries, sources said. Its chief medical officer told doctors and others the hospital wants to ensure it has sufficient numbers of instruments that have been sterilized properly before it reopens its surgical bays.

The hospital said it began diverting emergency surgeries to other area hospitals late Wednesday. Some cardiac surgeries were still scheduled to take place Thursday at the hospital. It said it hopes to resume all types of surgeries as early as the weekend and said it may only be functioning at half its expected capacity next week.

UF Health Shands did not immediately have any information on the transfer plans from the neighboring hospital, communications manager Peyton Wesner said.

Such suspensions are highly unusual but not unprecedented at U.S. hospitals coping with issues involving sterilization procedures and equipment. At least some surgeries were suspended for those reasons last year at hospitals in California, Texas, Massachusetts and Kansas. In southwest Colorado, patients in December sued Mercy Hospital, an 82-bed acute care facility, over allegations they contracted infections about the time that Mercy suspended elective surgeries two years earlier.

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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ The High Springs City Commission will remain one commissioner short following a special commission meeting held Thursday, Jan. 4.  The Commission voted unanimously not to appoint a fifth commissioner and to continue with only four until a special election could be held in February or March to fill the empty seat.

The special City Commission meeting was scheduled after former Commissioner Steve Tapanes, who was elected in November 2023, resigned on Dec. 30.  Tapanes said he had issues with the State Commission on Ethics financial disclosure form referred to as Form 6, which was required to be filled out in order to continue in the position. 

In 2023 the Floria Legislature passed a law requiring mayors and elected city or town council members to file Form 6.  Prior to the new law, those elected officials were required to file Form 1.  Form 6 requires a more in-depth report of the filer's finances, including disclosure of net worth, information not required by Form 1.  Form 6 filers must also disclose assets over $1,000, while the Form 1 threshold is over $10,000.  Form 6 also requires filers to disclose clients that make up more than 10 percent of the filer's income.

The High Springs city attorney explained that the City Charter allows the commission to appoint someone to fill the position until an election could be held.  With Tapanes’ seat empty, the city charter mandates a special election to fill the seat.  The election must happen within 60 to 90 days of the vacancy, between Feb. 28 and March 29.  

Although Commissioners Tristan Grunder and Byran Williams both expressed concerns that a stalemate might occur with only four commissioners voting on matters, citizens overwhelmingly expressed a desire to elect the person who will fill Tapanes’ seat.

With the presidential primary election also falling within that window on March 19, it is making it difficult for Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Kim Barton to schedule elections for the smaller municipalities facing election requirements.

High Springs City Clerk Angela Stone has contacted Barton for an election date for High Springs.  Although it would seem ideal to add High Springs’ election to the ballot for the presidential primary, Stone said the ballot for that election has already been set, dictating that the City election be held independent of the presidential primary.

Stone said she expects to confer with Barton and have a firm election date selected prior to the Jan. 11 regular city commission meeting.

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ALACHUA ‒The A. L. Mebane High School Alumni Association, Inc., recently recognized first term college students by awarding scholarships. The program was held Dec. 31, 2023, at Atlas A.M.E. Church/Monteocha Community in Gainesville.

The A. L. Mebane High School Alumni Association provides social services, cultural enrichment and scholarships. The Dec. 31 event marked the “Silver Anniversary” Celebration of the Alumni Association awarding scholarships to area youth. At the event, students were challenged by Mrs. Deborah Schumpert Harris, Educator/Trainer; DEI Director with a theme “Stay in Your Books.”

Scholarships were presented by the A.L. Mebane High School graduating classes of 1963, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968 and1970.

Students receiving scholarships were Zakya Simmons, Trinity Johnson, Zelmarria Davis, Mayah Gainey, and Ke’Mari Howard, all of whom plan to attend Santa Fe College. Also awarded was Michaela Cromarty who plans to attend Claflin University; Don’Trell Jenkins, who plans to attend Davis & Elkins College; Auntrell Ross, who plans to attend Keiser University and Kyren Washington, who plans to attend Oklahoma University.

The Alumni Association expressed their gratitude to their many sponsors for continued support of first term college students by saying, “You Make It Happen!”

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WALDO ‒ Two men were arrested at 11:50 p.m. on Dec. 29 after the pair broke into Right Price Auto Sales, 16240 N.E. US Highway 301, Waldo. During the break in, the pair stole keys while the business owner watched the break in on his security camera.

Jalon Ezekiel Williams, 21, and Daven Cole Garner, 26, exited the business location in a 2013 Silver Toyota Forerunner using the stolen keys. An Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ASO) Deputy and K-9 were in the area and located a vehicle matching the description next to a wrecked gold Cadillac sedan, where personal items were being transferred from the Cadillac to the Forerunner.

The deputy attempted contact, activating the overhead emergency lights of his K-9 marked patrol vehicle. Once the emergency lights were activated, Williams, who was driving the Forerunner, put the vehicle in reverse and slammed into the Deputy’s patrol car in an effort to flee.

Following the collision, Williams continued to flee from the ASO Deputy, driving through thick underbrush before eventually crashing into a tree. After the secondary collision, Williams and Garner exited the Forerunner and fled on foot.

According to the ASO, the pair were both apprehended after a K-9 track through the swampy terrain, without incident.

Following apprehension, it was discovered that the Gold 2006 Cadillac and the Florida License Plate were also stolen. The Cadillac was reported stolen out of Polk County and the license plate was reported stolen out of Largo, Florida. The suspects were in possession of both the license plate and vehicle prior to burglarizing the auto sales business.

Post Miranda, Williams admitted to burglarizing the business through an exterior window, after pushing the window air conditioner unit out. He also admitted to stealing the key to the Forerunner, stealing the vehicle itself and knowing the Cadillac and license plate were stolen. Garner refused to answer any questions during a Post Miranda Interview.

Garner is charged with Grand Theft of a motor vehicle, stolen tag and resisting arrest without violence.

Williams is charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle, stolen tag, burglary of a business, fleeing and alluding, resisting arrest without violence, aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and a law enforcement K-9. Both men were listed as homeless on the arrest reports.

Bond was set at $315,000 for Williams and Garner’s bond was set at $60,000. The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office released a video of the incident at

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NEWBERRY ‒ An 18-year-old Newberry man was arrested on Monday, Jan. 8, on a warrant for residential burglary of an unoccupied dwelling and charged with drug possession when arrested.

Edwin Lee Daniels was on pre-trial diversion for a June 2023 incident in which he was charged with possession of a firearm and a separate extended magazine after being convicted as a juvenile of a crime that would be a felony for an adult.

The Newberry burglary took place on Dec. 3, 2020, when Daniels was 15-years-old. It was moved to the adult judicial system in December 2023, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

When Alachua County Sheriff’s Deputies served the warrant at Daniels’ Newberry residence, they reportedly saw a bag of marijuana in plain view on the floor of his bedroom.

Post Miranda, Daniels reportedly said the substance in the bag was “weed” and that it was for his personal use.

Daniels has been charged with burglary, possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Daniels has juvenile convictions in 2019 and 2020 but no adult convictions other than the pending pre-trial diversion case.

Bail was set at $75,000 on the burglary charge, $1,500 on marijuana possession and $1,000 on drug paraphernalia by Judge Susan Miller-Jones

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NEWBERRY ‒ The Newberry City Commission on Jan. 8, 2024, received an in-depth briefing about a controversial Florida Commission on Ethics form that has caused some elected officials to resign.

City attorney Danielle Adams of Folds Walker law firm reviewed the Florida Commission on Ethics Form 6 Financial Disclosure that is required for mayors and elected members of governing bodies of municipalities. The disclosure form has led to a number of resignations by elected officials in Florida, including some individuals in Alachua County.

Adams said that those officials serving as of Dec. 31, 2023 must file Form 6 in 2024. Controversy among public officials stems from the public nature of the document and some individuals find the disclosure of private information to be over reaching.

Adams said financial disclosure forms will be filed electronically in 2024 via the Commission on Ethics Electronic Financial Disclosure Management System (EFDMS) and that all disclosures filed in EFDMS will be published on the Commission on Ethics website.

Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe questioned why the City Attorney and City Clerk were specifically not able to help filers with questions, to which Adams said she did not know. However, filers may use their own attorney or accountant to aid them in completion of the form.

In other City business, the Commission unanimously approved on first reading a Comprehensive Plan Amendment changing the future land use classification on 161 +/- acres voluntarily annexed to the City from Alachua County Rural/Agriculture to City of Newberry Agriculture.

The property owned by Whitehurst Cattle Company is located east of County Road 337/Southwest 282nd Street and south of 67th Avenue. This is a like-for-like change that allows less than or equal to one dwelling unit per five acres.

Following approval of the Comprehensive Plan Amendment, the Commission approved on first reading a request to rezone Alachua County’s “Agriculture” classification to City of Newberry “Agriculture” zoning on the same 161 +/- acres.

The Commission also unanimously approved on first reading a Comprehensive Plan Amendment submitted by Herbert A. Marlowe, Jr., owner of 29 +/- acres of land located along County Road 337/Southwest 282nd Street.

The amendment changes the future land use classification from Alachua County Rural/Agriculture to City of Newberry Agriculture on 29 +/- acres voluntarily annexed to the City. This is a like-for-like change that allows less than or equal to one dwelling unit per five acres.

Following approval of the Comprehensive Plan Amendment, the Commission approved on first reading a request to rezone Alachua County’s “Agriculture” classification to City of Newberry “Agriculture” zoning on the same 29 +/- acres.

In other City business, Mellina Parker was appointed by the Commission to both the Planning and Zoning and Historic Architectural Review Boards to fill out the remainder of the term. This action comes following the resignation of board member Jordan Fairfield, who is moving to another city.

Seats on both boards come up for appointment in 2025. At that time, the City will advertise for applicants for those board seats.

Looking ahead, City Hall will be closed on Jan. 15 in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and waste pickup will be adjusted accordingly. Participants walking in the Martin Luther King, Jr. march are to meet at the Martin Luther King Community Center on Jan. 15 at 11 a.m. and will walk to the city’s Municipal Building for a presentation.

This week the Florida Public Utilities Corporation is beginning construction on natural gas facilities in the city. They will start working on Northwest 3rd going over to their office on State Road 45. Connections are planned in subsequent phases for Newberry Oaks and New Town 1895.

On Feb. 15 the City will hold a State of the City event with a Taste of Newberry event to be held first. With four new restaurants in town, it is expected that they will want to participate in this event.

City Manager Mike New distributed handouts to the Commission on items as part of the 2024 State Legislative Session. New recommended that Commissioners monitor several matters that involve agri-tourism and municipal water and sewer rates.

On May 13 at 7 p.m., a joint City/County Commission meeting has been scheduled.

The next Newberry City Commission meeting is scheduled for Jan. 22 at 7 p.m.

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