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GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Below are the updated City of Gainesville traffic impacts scheduled for July 12-19, 2024. 

 New Notices

NW 12th St.: Northwest 12th Street will be closed (with detours) from Northwest Fourth Avenue and Northwest Fifth Avenue from July 15-18.

SW 12th St.: Southwest 12th Street will be closed (with detours) from West University Avenue to Southwest Alligator Alley from July 15-17.

SW 12th St.: Southwest 12th Street will be closed to thru traffic only, between Southwest First Avenue and Southwest Alligator Alley from July 15-17.

Continuing Notices 

NW Sixth Ave.: Northwest Sixth Avenue, between Northwest 13th Street and Northwest 12th Terrace, will be closed until Aug. 1.

NW 12th Ter.: Northwest 12th Terrace will be closed except for local traffic between Northwest Seventh Avenue to Northwest Sixth Avenue until Aug. 1.

NW 12th Dr.: Northwest 12th Drive is one-way southbound only from Northwest Fifth Avenue to Northwest Third Avenue, ending Aug. 1.

SW 10th St.: Southwest 10th Street, between West University Avenue and Southwest First Avenue, the northbound lane will be closed and only have southbound traffic on Southwest 10th Street, from April 3 until August 15, 2024. 



Note: All lane and road closures are subject to change due to unforeseen conditions, such as inclement weather.

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 ‒ On June 18, 2024, the National Association of Conservation Districts Southeastern Region honored Archie Matthews, a longtime member and officer of the Alachua Soil and Water Conservation District Board, by inducting him into the Southeast Region Conservation Hall of Fame.

Matthews has dedicated 40 years of service to the District Board, holding roles as Supervisor and Secretary/Treasurer. His commitment extends beyond local efforts, having served as Treasurer, President-Elect, President, Area Deputy Vice-President, and Parliamentarian for the Association of Florida Conservation Districts.

During the induction ceremony, a presentation video highlighted Matthews' life and contributions. Raised on a farm where he still resides, Matthews reflected on the evolution of farming practices and the influence of his parents and grandparents, who instilled in him the importance of land stewardship. “If we take care of the land, the land will take care of us,” Matthews said.

In his remarks, Matthews recounted how local farmer and cattlewoman Belle Jeffords invited him to join the board, a position he never anticipated holding for four decades. His enduring commitment has been a testament to his dedication to conservation and community service.

The Alachua Soil and Water Conservation District, comprised of five elected Supervisors, is committed to providing conservation information and education to farmers, ranchers, and homeowners throughout Alachua County. The Board meets on the last Monday evening of each month at 5:30 p.m. at the Alachua Chamber of Commerce office in downtown Alachua.

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~Youth Council highlights July 4 with patriotic flag displays~

HIGH SPRINGS ‒ In anticipation of the upcoming Fourth of July celebrations, the High Springs Mayor’s Youth Council has taken the initiative to adorn the city with a patriotic display of flags. Spearheaded by Mayor Katherine Weitz and Commissioner Wayne Bloodsworth, along with the enthusiastic participation of local Boy Scout Troop 69, the youth council embarked on a collaborative effort to line the streets with American flags.

The project was made possible through the generous donation of flags by ACE Hardware, a gesture that was crucial in bringing this community initiative to life. Elva Bryant played a pivotal role in coordinating the logistics, ensuring that every detail was meticulously planned and executed.

“This is more than just a display of flags; it's a symbol of our community coming together to celebrate our nation’s independence,” remarked Mayor Weitz, emphasizing the significance of civic engagement among the youth.

The flag display not only adds a festive touch to the city streets but also serves as a reminder of the values and freedoms cherished by the residents of High Springs. As the Fourth of July approaches, residents can look forward to a vibrant display of patriotism, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Mayor's Youth Council, local officials, community volunteers, and supportive businesses.

The Mayor's Youth Council is composed of students in grades 8-12 who live within the city limits of High Springs. Students interested in applying for a future opening on the Mayor's Youth Council, can complete the form at and return it to the City Commission office, Monday-Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. located on the second floor of City Hall, 23718 W U.S. Highway 27.

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GAINESVILLE – A 43-year-old Archer man was denied bail in Gainesville on Tuesday, June 25, 2024, after prosecutors argued that he would pose a threat to the community if released.

Joel Bruce Searby, who led the campaign to convert three Newberry public schools to municipal charter schools and has served as a basketball coach at Oak View Middle School, was arrested on Friday, June 21, and charged with luring a 15-year-old boy to his home for sex.

The State Attorney’s Office filed notice at Searby’s First Appearance hearing on June 22 that they would file a motion for pre-trial detention within three days. The motion was filed the same day with the hearing set for June 25.

The State Attorney’s Office has been filing these motions in any case that qualifies since Jan. 31, 2024, when an appeals court ruled that defendants are entitled to be released on bail in a reasonable amount and that the amount should not preclude the probability of an ordinary citizen being able to post bail.

Traditionally, prosecutors would have asked a judge to set a very high bail in a case of this sort. Now that they are limited by the appeals court ruling, it is more common for prosecutors to argue that the defendant would be a danger to the community if released.

The motion for pre-trial detention in Searby’s case stated that one of the charges against him – lewd or lascivious conduct with a victim under the age of 16 – qualifies under Florida statutes for pre-trial detention without bail and that a prosecutor would argue at the hearing that there is a substantial probability that the defendant committed such crime, the factual circumstances of the crime indicate a disregard for the safety of the community, and there are no conditions of release reasonably sufficient to protect the community from the risk of physical harm to person.

At the hearing Judge James Colaw agreed with prosecutors and granted the motion for pre-trial detention, which means that the defendant will remain in jail until his case is resolved, whether through a plea agreement or a trial.

Two Alachua County Sheriff’s Office detectives presented testimony, according to the memo that summarized the results of the hearing. Five letters of support for Searby were submitted but are not yet public.

The defendant has hired an attorney who has filed a plea of not guilty and a waiver of a right to a speedy trial on behalf of Searby.

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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ The City of High Springs has appointed Jennifer Applebee as director of the City’s recreation department. A native of Fort White, Applebee joins High Springs from the City of Alachua, where she spent 10 years working with Alachua’s Recreation and Culture Department and soccer league.

Applebee volunteered as the Santa Fe Soccer Alliance President for several years before taking the job as the City of Alachua’s Recreation & Culture Program Coordinator. During her time in Alachua, she oversaw an array of programs including youth soccer, volleyball, basketball, dance, football, cheerleading, concert series, and several fundraising and outreach events.

“During her tenure in Alachua she reached hundreds of residents on our social media outlet, created flyers and campaigned tirelessly for our local programs,” said Alachua Recreation and Culture Director Damon Messina. “She also emceed plenty of the City’s events such as 399’s opening ceremonies and end of the year banquets

Applebee’s commitment to community enrichment extends further, as she has actively contributed to the High Springs Playhouse for eight years; directing multiple productions and currently holding the position of treasurer. She has been an executive officer for the Alachua County Task Force on Recreation for approximately five years.

Expressing her enthusiasm for her new role, Applebee said, “I'm excited. Right now, I'm doing a lot of listening — listening to staff, residents, and players about their vision for the future of High Springs Parks & REC and how we can collectively realize that vision.”

Outside of her professional achievements, Applebee is a devoted mother of three daughters: Riley, 20; Morgan, 16; and Dylan, 15. She is also an avid outdoorswoman, spending her free time hiking, camping, fishing, and scalloping. Her passion for theater continues as she frequently visits various theaters to enjoy diverse performances.

“The City of High Springs welcomes Jennifer Applebee and looks forward to her leadership in enhancing community recreation and cultural experiences for residents and visitors alike,” said High Springs Public Information Officer Kevin Mangan.

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HIGH SPRINGS – The High Springs City Commission on June 27, 2024 tackled recommendations by the Charter Review Committee. Following a lengthy dialogue, the Commission approved four of the eight items recommended by the Charter Review Committee to be on this November’s ballot.

Charter amendments approved include:

No. 1 Updating Corporate Boundary to that of the present-day boundary and provide for the ability of the City to change its boundary as prescribed by law.

No. 6 Updating Public Notice Requirements to allow for electronic advertisement of public notices in the event the City has followed the requirements of Fla. Stat. 50.0311 and require five weeks of online publication in the event of electronic advertisement.

No. 7 Updating Oath of Office and Ability to Alter Appropriations and Reductions to require commissioners and charter officers to assert they are not precluded from holding office pursuant to Article VI, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution prior to taking office, and allow the City Commission to make supplemental appropriations or reductions and require the City Manager to inform the City Commission when revenues will be insufficient to meet appropriation amounts.

No. 8 Updating Public Owned Lands to update the names of public parks and add the Sports Complex to the list of public owned lands.

Other Charter Review Committee recommended items will be discussed further by the Commission for possible inclusion on the 2025 ballot for citizen consideration.

Of the failed recommendations, issues regarding forfeiture of office and censuring a commissioner for not adhering to the Charter appeared to be of most concern. Several commissioners and a few audience members along with Commissioner Andrew Miller expressed concern about Item No. 3: Commissioner Salary, Mayor Term, and Unified Commission to Instruct City Manager to allow for the salary of commissioners to continue at the same rate if the commission does not act on same, limit the term of the mayor to one year absent supermajority vote of the commission, prevent a single commissioner from ordering the City Manager to act, preventing the City Manager from following the instructions of a single commissioner, and provide for the ability of censure.

Miller said he believed those three items should be voted on separately.

Miller initially made a motion to strike Items 2, 3, 4 and 5, which died for lack of a second. Vice Mayor Tristan Grunder made another motion to put all of the items suggested by the Charter Review Committee on the ballot. That motion also died for lack of a second.

Following comments by the city attorney that commissioners could choose the items that they were all in agreement on for this year’s election ballot and discuss the remaining items for next year’s ballot, Miller made another motion to strike items No. 2 – 5 from Ordinance 2024-04. The motion passed 3-2 with Grunder and Commissioner Byran Williams in dissent.

Miller made another motion to approve the Ordinance with items No 2-5 deleted, which passed in another 3-2 vote with Grunder and Williams in dissent.

Items 2-5, which will not be on this year’s ballot are: No. 2 Commissioners, Voting, and Notice; No. 3 Commissioner Salary, Mayor Term, and Unified Commission to Instruct City Manager; No. 4 Adding Forfeiture of Office Section; No. 5 Disallowing Individual to Serve as both Manager and Clerk, Residency Requirements for City Manager and Candidates

In other business, the Commission unanimously approved two agreements related to School Resource Officers (SROs). The first was an agreement between the School Board of First Christian Academy and the City of High Springs for the City to provide SROs for their school.

The second agreement was between the School Board of Alachua County and City of High Springs which provides funding for SROs.

Also receiving unanimous approval was the City’s finance director request for approval to sell the 2021 CRA vehicle to the Building Department for the amount that was paid for the vehicle originally. The funds for the sale of the vehicle will go back into the CRA’s budget.

In still other business, Tree Committee Chairperson Linda Hewlett talked about a recent meeting in which the County’s arborist attended. She has been planting and maintaining trees in the community and offered to plant 70 more native trees in High Springs during the next two years. Commissioners unanimously voted to approve that action.

In final comments it was revealed that High Springs Police Officer Minor and Sgt. Moore attended to a woman who was not conscious. Using their emergency equipment, they were able to revive her and send her to the hospital.

The next High Springs City Commission meeting is scheduled for July 11 at 6:30 p.m.

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TALALAHASSEE - The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Division of Law Enforcement along with other law enforcement partners participated in Operation Dry Water’s heightened enforcement weekend July 4-6. With the Fourth of July falling on a Thursday this year the heightened patrol efforts extended through Sunday, July 7.

ODW is a year-round national effort to educate recreational boaters about the dangers of Boating Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs and their mission is to reduce the number of alcohol- and drug0related incidents and fatalities on the water.

The Northeast Region of the FWC DLE consists of 12 counties including St. Johns County on the north end, down to Indian River County on the east coast, and west over to Sumter County. The region’s officers and staff were proactive in getting boating safety messaging out to the public prior to the holiday and they continued educating the public while remaining on the lookout for reckless or impaired operators during the popular Fourth of July boating weekend.

Between July 4-7, FWC officers in the Northeast Region cited 157 vessel operators for boating safety violations, issued 778 boating safety warnings and removed 11 vessel operators from the water for BUI. The highest Blood Alcohol Content reported was .11. In Florida, it is illegal to operate a vessel with a BAC of .08 or higher, the same as in a vehicle. Operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal on all bodies of water and the use of both legal and illegal drugs impairs judgement and reaction time, whichcan lead to serious injuries and consequences. Statewide, over 50 vessel operators were removed from the waterways of Florida for BUI during the heightened enforcement and holiday weekend.

“Our message over the Operation Dry Water weekend was the same as it is all year long,” said Maj. Jay Russel, Northeast Regional Commander. “Never boat under the influence. The Fourth of July holiday has been known for increased boating activity as well as increased alcohol consumption, every hour our officers spent on the water was aimed at educating and safeguarding everyone out enjoying our waterways. We know the potential our presence has to save lives and we take that very seriously.”

The FWC reminds all boaters to enjoy time with friends and family but do so safely and don’t forget to designate a sober operator before departing from the dock. More information about boating and boating regulations in Florida can be found by visiting and boaters can learn more about boating under the influence and the Operation Dry Water campaign by visiting

To report dangerous boating activity the public can submit anonymous tips by texting 847411 (Tip411) with keyword “FWC” followed by the location and any information about the violation or call 888-404-FWCC (3922). Additionally, there is an easy-to-use downloadable iPhone or Android app: “FWC Wildlife Alert.”

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GAINESVILLE ‒ Although plenty of Florida’s craft brewers advertise their libations as brewed with state-grown ingredients, a vital ingredient – hops – is not readily available within the Sunshine State. A University of Florida study currently underway, however, may help pave the way for a robust crop of Florida-grown hops.

Beer HopsAromaTesting0006Researchers with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) believe they have identified a method for making hop-growing viable despite Florida’s incompatible climate: greenhouses.

“This has never been done in Florida,” said Katherine Thompson-Witrick, an assistant professor in the UF/IFAS food science and human nutrition department and the leader of the study.

In 2021, the Florida craft brewing industry generated $4.1 billion for the state, the fourth-largest amount in the country, according to the Brewers Association, a Colorado-based organization that monitors the industry.

Since January 2023, when the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services awarded Thompson-Witrick and her team a grant, they have harvested two crops of hops from a greenhouse at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka. In June, they hope to harvest again. Their objective is to develop cultivation practices that maximize aromatic and flavor characteristics comparable to those associated with traditional craft beer-brewing regions like Yakima Valley in Washington.

Thompson-Witrick’s team planted 20, 2-inch-tall seedlings of Cascade and Chinook varieties in April 2023. By July 2023, the plants had reached 20 feet tall, and the vines had to be manually separated to prevent them from becoming tangled.

“We saw a substantial amount of growth in the first nine months of this project, which is really outstanding and amazing for us,” Thompson-Witrick said.

The key was supplemental lighting installed within the greenhouse. Hops grow best when afforded at least 16 hours of sunlight, which is available at latitudes of 35 degrees and above; Florida’s uppermost latitude reaches just 31 degrees. The UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm has conducted breeding studies to develop Florida-compatible hops capable of adapting to the state’s shorter days.

Based on Thompson-Witrick’s preliminary research, the growth and flowering rates of the Apopka plants suggest her method could obtain the same yield of hops – per plant – as Yakima Valley.

But is the product as appealing to the senses?

Thompson-Witrick uses a gas chromatography mass spectrometer to detect the chemical compounds contained within the hops, the alpha and beta assets that quantify how bitter a beer brewed from them would be. For a more subjective analysis, she recruited human volunteers.

Throughout UF’s spring semester, 14 students met regularly to pry open the lids of condiment containers and carefully stick their noses inside.

The contents, resembling shredded alfalfa, were heady, but layered beneath the strong earthy odor were hints of citrus, spice and floral notes. Students took deep sniffs and recorded the strength of the various scents they detected. They smelled both the Apopka hops as well as commercial ones, but they did not know which hops were which.

The repeated sensory trainings will eventually lead to official blind testing and comparison between commercial varieties and Thompson-Witrick’s product.

“We want to disseminate our findings to growers to help with diversifying the state’s agricultural crops and to provide information that would be critical to further cultivating hops,” she said.

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TALLAHASSEE - Today, Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director Dave Kerner issued the following statement regarding an early morning crash in Marion County between an International Bus transporting 53 people and a Ford Ranger truck:

The Florida Highway Patrol is currently investigating a traffic crash which occurred at approximately 6:35 am, on State Road 40, approximately 500 feet west of SW 148 Court. The collision involved a 2010 International Bus, transporting approximately 53 employees of a farming company, and a 2001 Ford Ranger private truck.

Initial investigation reveals that the two vehicles made contact in a sideswipe type collision. Post collision, the bus traveled off the roadway, through a fence, and then overturned. Currently, eight people have been confirmed deceased and approximately 40 people have been transported to local medical facilities.

At 1:47 PM today, State Troopers assigned to the FHP Northern Region Specialized Investigations and Reconstruction Team (SIRT) arrested Bryan Maclean Howard, the driver of the private Ford Ranger truck, on the following criminal charges – Eight (8) counts of Driving Under the Influence – Manslaughter.    

Identities of the deceased will be released pending next of kin notification. Our sympathies and prayers are with the families of the deceased. Consistent with our duties, the Florida Highway Patrol will conduct both a thorough and exhaustive traffic crash and criminal investigation.

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TALLAHASSEE, FL - Looking for a way to show your support of Florida panther conservation? Consider getting the newly designed Protect the Panther license plate whether you are renewing your Florida plates or licensing your car in the state for the first time.

Staff with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) worked with photographer Carlton Ward and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida to design the new plate. The latest design features a stunning photograph taken by Carlton in 2018 depicting a well-known panther — the first female documented north of the Caloosahatchee River since 1973 and also the first female documented to have had kittens north of the river in over 40 years. The Caloosahatchee River has long appeared to be an obstacle to the natural expansion of the population, including the northward movement of female panthers.

The new license plate can be purchased at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles or by checking with your local tax collector office for availability. When renewing vehicles, Florida motorists can exchange their old plates for the new Protect the Panther plate by going in person to your local tax collector office or the FLHSMV. At this time, the new plates are not available through online renewals but can be purchased in person.

Fees from the Protect the Panther license plate go directly into the Florida Panther Research and Management Trust Fund, which is a critical source of funding for the state’s panther-related research, monitoring and conservation efforts. The long-term public support of this fund has had a direct positive impact on the FWC’s management and research efforts, resulting in timely, science-based information needed to guide current and future conservation actions for Florida panthers. The FWC and conservation partners have made significant progress with panther recovery and the FWC’s panther program relies upon sales of the license plate to continue these conservation efforts.

Florida panthers are native to the state, with the majority of panthers found south of Lake Okeechobee. Florida panthers are listed as an Endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act. There are approximately 120-230 adult panthers in the population.

Purchasing a Protect the Panther license plate isn’t the only way you can help panthers. Drivers can also help by following all posted speed limits, particularly in panther zones, which are in place in several counties across south Florida to coincide with areas where panthers are known to cross. Panther speed zones help protect both Florida panthers and motorists from vehicle collisions and potential injury. You can also donate directly to the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida’s Florida Panther Fund to support the rehabilitation and release of injured panthers and help FWC staff and partners locate and protect panthers, including their dens and kittens.

To learn more about Florida panthers and the FWC’s work to conserve the species, visit

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~Suspect crashed ambulance and fled on foot after his photo was taken by in car camera ~

TAMPA, Fla.- Early this morning at approximately 2:00 a.m., a supervisor with American Medical Rescue (AMR), a private ambulance service, observed a vehicle that appeared to be involved in a crash located on the Interstate 75 (I-75) Southbound exit ramp to Interstate 4 (I-4) Westbound in Hillsborough County.

The supervisor, who was driving a Chevy Tahoe marked as a rescue vehicle, decided to check the welfare of the individual involved.

Rolling down his window, he asked if everything was ok. The driver of the crashed vehicle approached the ambulance and began throwing himself at the window, gaining access to the ambulance. Once inside, the subject started fighting with the ambulance driver and took control of the vehicle. The ambulance driver, fearing for his life, exited the vehicle and called 9-1-1.

FHP 3 22 2024 Ambulance Carjack SuspectWhile attempting to flee in the stolen ambulance, the suspect collided with a Nissan Altima on the ramp for Interstate 75 Southbound to Interstate 4 Westbound. As Deputies with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) responded, the suspect fled in the marked ambulance. The HCSO pursued the ambulance but lost contact with it and terminated the pursuit.

The ambulance's in-car camera system reported a vehicle crash at 2:09 a.m. and took a photo of the suspect inside the vehicle. The suspect fled the scene of the crash, and the ambulance was later recovered. 

The suspect is described as a white male who appeared to be under the influence of unknown drugs. To view video of the incident click here.


 Anyone with information regarding this incident or the identity of the carjacking suspect is asked to call *FHP (*347) or Crime Stoppers at **TIPS.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a milestone in Florida’s continuing economic success: Florida’s statewide unemployment rate has been lower than the national rate for 40 consecutive months. The national unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent for February 2024; Florida’s rate did not rise and outperforms the national rate by 0.8 percentage point. And while Florida’s private sector job growth rate increased by 2.3 percent (+194,200 jobs) over the year in February 2024, the national rate grew by only 1.6 percent over the same period.
“Florida continues to outperform the nation,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “We have proven that bold, conservative leadership across the board produces booming economic results—more jobs, lower taxes, less regulation, and fiscal security.”

“Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida continues to provide an economy for our residents that is primed for opportunity and secure for future growth,” said J. Alex Kelly, Florida Secretary of Commerce. “Florida’s strong talent pipeline and skilled workforce are the building blocks of Florida’s economic growth and stability. February’s economic data is more absolute evidence that Florida is on the right path.”

Florida’s economic data continues to indicate economic strength and confidence among Florida’s workforce as the state’s labor force grew by 2.0 percent (+217,000) over the year in February 2024, which is faster than the comparable national rate of 0.7 percent.

The education and health services sector gained the most jobs among all major industries, adding 57,500 jobs over the year. The trade, transportation, and utilities sector performed second best, adding 48,300 jobs. And importantly, leisure and hospitality (tourism) added 35,000 jobs.

Data in the month of February continues to indicate there are many job opportunities available for every Floridian who wants to work, with more than 443,000 jobs posted online. Floridians in search of work and new job opportunities can utilize the CareerSource Florida network for help. Floridians can find guidance on how to register with Employ Florida and search listings of available local job openings. Career seekers can also improve their employability by enhancing resume writing and interviewing skills, establishing career goals, and pursuing customized career training. These services are provided at no cost to job seekers by the State of Florida. 

To view the February 2024 jobs reports by region, please see below: 
•    Fort Lauderdale
•    Jacksonville
•    Miami
•    Orlando
•    Pensacola
•    Southwest Florida
•    Tampa
•    West Palm Beach

To view the February 2024 employment data, visit: 
Visit Florida Insight for more information on labor market and economic data. Additionally, the Department has provided a video to assist users in explaining the data provided through Florida Insight. 

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Medication reconciliation is a term used in healthcare that describes the process of comparing a patient’s medication orders in a healthcare institution (hospital or nursing home) to what the patient has been prescribed and taking at home.

The purpose of this short column is to point out that many times patients are admitted to an institution, sometimes in an emergency, and it is difficult to determine what medications have been taken at home. Often when asked about their medicWilliam-Garst-HS.jpgations the response is “I take a blood pressure drug, a blood thinner, something for cholesterol, and something occasionally for arthritis pain.”

Just those four categories of medications probably describe several dozen, if not more, potential medications. What is needed is an exact listing of the medications with their dose (strength), how often they are taken, and when they are taken.


The perfect list of medications would be an official one from the patient’s primary care physician or provider. However, often what is presented at the institution is a handwritten list with the barest of information.

I am suggesting in this short column that a person, each time they see their primary care physician, request a current list of their medications with doses and instructions, to be printed for them or even emailed to them for reference in case of an emergency.

This list would also be helpful to take to their pharmacist for comparison to what the pharmacy has on file in their computer profile. In this way, the pharmacist could request a prescription to be there at the pharmacy before it is needed, if there have been changes to the drug, dose, or how often the medication is taken. In addition, the pharmacist may want to notify the primary care physician of other medications that have been prescribed that are not on the primary care physician's record.

This brings up another important aspect: sometimes other physicians (specialists or emergency department physicians) have prescribed medication for a patient and the primary care physician is unaware and would need to know this addition, even if temporary, for a complete listing of medications.

It is vital that medication regimens be accurate as patients transition between healthcare environments as a matter of safety and proper medication administration. Keep the list handy or scan it into your computer for ready reference.

I hope this column was informative; prosper and be in health.

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William Garst is a consultant pharmacist who lives in Alachua, Florida. He is semi-retired and works part time at Lake Butler Hospital in Lake Butler, Florida. William received his pharmacy degree at Auburn University and a Doctor of Pharmacy from Colorado University. The Pharmacy Newsletter is a blog where you can find other informative columns. He may be contacted at

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The Editorial Board of Alachua County Today has rarely taken to endorsing candidates in local political races; however, there are times when it becomes necessary. Such is the case in the City of High Springs commission races scheduled for Nov. 7, 2023. Up for consideration are four candidates in two races. In Seat 1, electors in High Springs will have the opportunity to select between the incumbent, Ross Ambrose, and Andrew Miller. In Seat 2, voters will consider incumbent, Gloria James, and Steven Tapanes.

For many years, the City of High Springs experienced considerable political tumult, so much so that it created harsh divisions within the community. Over the last few election cycles, voters have managed to regain control of their commission, placing on the dais community-minded, non-partisan commissioners who have been focused on moving High Springs forward, into a more fiscally sound and responsible direction.

Tax increases are rarely, if ever, welcomed by the taxpayers, but tax increases are sometimes necessary. The City of High Springs, like every other small town, is feeling the financial pinch of inflation. We all feel the financial pinch of inflation. Without an increase in taxes this year, the City of High Springs would be setting itself up for financial straits in the years to come. Simply put, the City has to pay someone to fix water pipes, respond to emergencies, put out fires, and maintain the City’s infrastructure. That is to say nothing of the business of running the City. There is no doubt that there are some, including former commissioners, who want to sow divisions, but these efforts are not productive for the citizens.

Some candidates, and one commissioner, who is not up for election this cycle, have criticized the incumbent commissioners for approval of the FY 2023-24 budget, which did include an increase in the millage rate. It’s easy for one commissioner to sit by and criticize, without solution, a budget which she knows will pass while she avoids the political hit by voting against it.

To be sure, there is always work to be done on tightening the belt on government, reducing waste, and finding new and innovative ways to deliver governance and the services the citizens have come to appreciate and expect. The City of High Springs does not exist in a vacuum however, and for that reason, there are simply some economic conditions the City cannot avoid.

It is because of the work done by commissioners like Ross Ambrose and Gloria James that the City has reached a state of stability, a posture that is allowing the City to get its legs underneath it. After years of political disarray and infighting, the City is finally beginning to make headway on projects that hold great promise for the City of High Springs and its residents.

This is not the time to pull the rug out from underneath the commission and management. Instead, voters should reelect Gloria James and Ross Ambrose while encouraging them to seek common ground on budget issues, attempt to increase efficiency, and hold themselves and management accountable.

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I am writing in support of Ross Ambrose for High Springs City Commission. First let me say that I have nothing negative to say about his opponent, and I’m grateful that we have wonderful people willing to serve our great little town. That said, I have plenty of positive reasons to support Ross in this election.

I have known Ross for at 15 years as a neighbor and friend in town. Ross showed his commitment to this town for years by serving on city boards before he ever ran for office. He has always taken anything he does seriously and professionally and that goes for the City Commission as well.

Ross makes it his business to understand every issue and the effects of city, county and state law on the issue, and how everything works together. When he makes a decision one way or the other on anything, I expect that he has researched it thoroughly. I feel like I don’t have to understand everything little thing that comes before the city, because he literally does that hard job for us. He has run a successful business for 10 years and he understands fiscal responsibility as well as investment and looking at the big picture to prepare us for the future. 

Perhaps the biggest reason I support Mr. Ambrose is that he is truthful, even when the truth is not what I want to hear. My example is that I emailed him about the proposed Bridlewood subdivision, coming out strongly against it. Like many in High Springs, I love our small town, and the surrounding open spaces. I don’t want the town to be swamped with traffic and see the beauty around us turn into South Florida-style crowding and sprawl. I want to protect the springs at all costs. I would be very happy to see zero new large-scale subdivisions here.

Ross took the time to email me back and carefully explain how the property that was Tillman Acres/proposed Bridlewood was zoned for crazy-dense zoning many years ago, and that the City can’t undo that and could be subject to a lawsuit if we tried. He was hoping to get the most palatable deal out of a bad situation.

He also told me about several other subdivisions: one along U.S.441, one adjacent to Bailey Estates, where the City had refused to allow an up-zoning to higher density for all the same reasons I state above.

I believe Mr. Ambrose wants to preserve the unique character of High Springs, but is also realistic in knowing you have to play the hand you were dealt.

I went to a candidate forum and one of the other candidates said High Springs needs better infrastructure before any new development is allowed. That sounds great but isn’t always possible, for reasons like the one above and the need to find funding for said infrastructure. I know that Ross Ambrose leaves no stone unturned in looking for funding sources aside from local tax revenue. The effort he puts into this job is Herculean.

Frankly I think we are extremely lucky to have such a dedicated, knowledgeable and hard-working commissioner. 

Stacey Breheny

High Springs, Florida

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An election will be held in High Springs on Nov. 7. There are two seats up for election. Since this is an odd-numbered year, the turnout will be poor. Every registered voter in the city needs to read up on the candidates; do the research to see what each is for, and vote.

Things have been running smoothly in the city for some time. Voting for someone merely because they are new is not a good idea.

Ross Ambrose and Gloria James do their homework, are knowledgeable and make decisions for all of High Springs. They are not driven by politics but by what they think is best for the city. For the good of the city, let’s keep them doing what they’ve done so well. Just remember that you need to vote.

Thomas R. Weller

High Springs, Florida

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This letter is to express my support for Steve Tapanes and Andrew Miller for City of High Springs Commissioner.

I have watched several of the commissioner’s meetings on line and have noticed on several occasions that although the audience is jammed with people who are concerned about certain issues, that their concerns seldom make a difference in the decisions made because the decisions appear to have been made prior to the meetings.

I would like to see new blood on the board of commissioners as I feel the incumbents get in a rut and although they claim to have the best interests of the citizens in mind some of them don’t seem to be listening. The newer members seem to be the ones listening.

Steve and Andrew both have businesses in High Springs and I feel their freshness would more closely represent the majority of citizens’ current views.

It’s time for a change, time for the younger generation to have a say in what happens for High Springs’ future. Vote Steve Tapanes and Andrew Miller.

Leah Currier

High Springs, Florida

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The High Springs Chamber of Commerce would like to send a special thank you to all our volunteers and local businesses who gave their time, talents, and treasures to bring our community together for the annual Fall Festival.

Please support these businesses and tell them thank you the next time you see them. Decades on Main & Renee;

Oliver & Dahlman; Thompson Flower Shop; The Birds Nest; High Springs Church of God; LifeSpring Church; Plantation Oaks Assisted Living & Memory Care; Dawn Cross, Photography; McDonald's in Alachua; Ronald McDonald House; Hardee's in High Springs; Hillary Cowart the Magic Man; Line Dancing Debbie; Bryan's Ace Hardware in High Springs; Winn-Dixie in High Springs; Fort White Garden & Produce; Jennifer Lee & Caleb Henderson, The Perfect Home; Troop 69, Boy Scouts; Willard's Restaurant & Lounge; BlueStar Grill; Nancy's Bake Shop; Chantels' Cakery; Station Bakery & Café; Tom & Sue Weller, Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe; High Springs Police Department; Aunt Lydia Springs, Cake; Louanne Rigano, Cake; Vella Miller, Ballon; Don Decker, Trains; Museum for being open during the Fall Festival hours

There are so many who came together to make this year's Fall Festival one our community will cherish for years to come.

I love our quaint little town with all its southern charm.

Sharon Decker

High Springs Chamber of Commerce

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PALM BEACH, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 117, which allows for the public release of grand jury documents, such as those related to the 2006 Florida investigation into Jeffrey Epstein. Two victims of Epstein joined Governor DeSantis in Palm Beach to celebrate the justice that was being delivered.
“The public deserves to know who participated in Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Nobody should be protected from facing justice due to their wealth or status, and those who harm children should be exposed and punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Palm Beach County and the victims suffered from Epstein’s vile behavior before the world ever knew his name,” said Representative Peggy Gossett-Seidman. “I followed the story as we parents kept our kids close, but we never stopped seeking the truth. The police investigated relentlessly, and now the Governor opens up the last chapter of this sordid story.”
After a 2006 investigation into Jeffrey Epstein, the Palm Beach Police Department asked the State Attorney to charge Epstein with multiple felony charges, including unlawful sexual activity with a minor and lewd or lascivious molestation. Rather than charge Epstein directly, the State Attorney at the time chose to present evidence to a grand jury—ensuring the names of those involved and the details of the accusations were kept sealed. 
HB 117 will allow disclosure of grand jury testimony if the following conditions are met: 
  • The subject of the grand jury inquiry is dead.
  • The investigation was about sexual activity with a minor.
  • The testimony was previously disclosed by a court order.
  • The state attorney is notified.
 Because all the above apply to the Jeffrey Epstein Florida case, this legislation will authorize release of the Epstein grand jury documents when it takes effect on July 1, 2024.

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TALLAHASSEE - A new Protect the Panther license plate is now available to Florida motorists. The new design features a striking photograph taken by Carlton Ward in 2018 of the first female panther documented north of the Caloosahatchee River since 1973, along with her kitten. The new license plate can be purchased at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles or by checking with your local tax collector office for availability.

Staff with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) worked with photographer Carlton Ward and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida to design the new plate. The photo depicts a well-known panther — an adult female who was also the first female documented to have had kittens north of the river in over 40 years. The Caloosahatchee River has long appeared to be an obstacle to the natural expansion of the population, including the northward movement of female panthers.

Fees from the Protect the Panther license plate go directly into the Florida Panther Research and Management Trust Fund, which is a critical source of funding for the state’s panther-related research, monitoring and conservation efforts. The long-term public support of this fund has had a direct positive impact on the FWC’s management and research efforts, resulting in timely, science-based information needed to guide current and future conservation actions for Florida panthers. The FWC and conservation partners have made significant progress with panther recovery and the FWC’s panther program relies upon sales of the license plate to continue these conservation efforts.

Florida panthers are native to the state, with the majority of panthers found south of Lake Okeechobee. Florida panthers are listed as an Endangered Species under the federal Endangered Species Act. There are approximately 120-230 adult panthers in the population.

Purchasing a Protect the Panther license plate isn’t the only way motorists can help panthers — drivers can also help by following all posted speed limits, particularly in panther zones, which are in place in several counties across south Florida to coincide with areas where panthers are known to cross. Panther speed zones help protect both Florida panthers and motorists from vehicle collisions and potential injury.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With $1 million in support from University of Florida President Ben Sasse’s strategic funding initiative, investigators at the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute will launch a new project that combines basic and clinical research with artificial intelligence to improve stroke treatments.

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and the No. 1 cause of disability in the United States, and it presents a growing health care challenge among Florida’s aging population.

“We are grateful for these strategic funds, which will further propel our multidisciplinary research efforts in stroke prevention and treatment,” said Jennifer Bizon, Ph.D., the director of the McKnight Brain Institute and the chair of the UF College of Medicine's Department of Neuroscience. “This project, under Dr. Brian Hoh’s leadership, exemplifies our mission to build research collaborations among clinical and basic science investigators across our UF and UF Health campuses to improve outcomes and change lives.”

The Transforming Stroke Care initiative will unite investigators across disciplines and colleges who will benefit from UF and UF Health’s exceptional resources, including the HiPerGator supercomputerthe UF Health Shands Comprehensive Stroke Centerthe OneFlorida+ Clinical Research Network, and the McKnight Brain Institute.

“We are thrilled that President Sasse has given us this opportunity and the resources to transform stroke research and care for the future,” said Hoh, a UF Health neurosurgeon and chair of UF College of Medicine’s Lillian S. Wells Department of Neurosurgery. “As the flagship university in the state, where stroke is particularly prevalent among Florida’s aging population, the University of Florida is uniquely positioned to lead the nation in stroke research.”

By forming teams of investigators (studying all aspects of stroke, from prevention and treatment to rehabilitation and imaging) and pairing them with experts in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science, the project will provide a multidisciplinary learning experience for students. This will position UF as a leader in training the next generation of stroke researchers.

“We need more experts to specialize in stroke research, and the Transforming Stroke Care project is illuminating that need,” Sasse said. “We want this initiative to help create training pathways for UF students to become stroke AI researchers, and that is a critical step toward innovation.” 

UF Health recently became the first in Florida to launch a Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit program, featuring state-of-the-art stroke ambulances equipped with a computed tomography (CT) scanner and clot-busting drugs to save lives and reduce disability. Hoh — who is also leading the Comparison of Anticoagulation and anti-Platelet Therapies for Intracranial Vascular Atherostenosis (CAPTIVA) stroke-prevention clinical trial — believes the new research project will help propel UF’s stroke research efforts to new heights.

“Our vision is to create the top stroke AI research center in the country,” Hoh said. “It will expand UF Health’s reach and impact to patients, clinicians, and researchers throughout the world, and attract the top scientists and faculty for the future.”

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TALLAHASSEE ‒ Beginning Monday, July 24, and running through Sunday, Aug. 6, Florida families can save taxes on clothing, footwear, backpacks, school supplies, personal computers, and more. The traditional tax holiday has expanded this school year to include a second tax-exempt period from January 1 through January 14, 2024.

Frequently Asked Questions for Consumers

1. What items will be exempt from sales tax during the 2023 and 2024 Florida Back-to-School Sales Tax Holidays?
During the 2023 and 2024 Florida Back-to-School Sales Tax Holidays, certain clothing, footwear, and accessories with a sales price $100 or less per item, certain school supplies with a sales price of $50 or less per item, learning aids and jigsaw puzzles with a sales price of $30 or less, and personal computers and related accessories purchased for noncommercial home or personal use with a sales price of $1,500 or less, are exempt from sales tax. The 2023 tax holiday begins on Monday, July 24, 2023, and ends on Sunday, August 6, 2023; the 2024 tax holiday begins on Monday, January 1, 2024, and ends on Sunday, January 14, 2024.

A list of items that are exempt from tax during the 2023 and 2024 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holidays is provided in TIP No. 23A01-06. These include:

• Personal computers or personal computer-related accessories purchased for noncommercial home or personal use having a sales price of $1,500 or less:
o Personal computers* include:
 Electronic book readers
 Laptops
 Desktops
 Handhelds
 Tablets
 Tower computers
* The term does not include cellular telephones, video game consoles, digital media receivers, or devices that are not primarily designed to process data.
o Personal computer-related accessories* include:
 Keyboards
 Mice
 Personal digital assistants
 Monitors
 Other peripheral devices
 Modems
 Routers
 Nonrecreational software, regardless of whether the accessories are used in association with a personal computer base unit
* The term does not include furniture or systems, devices, software, monitors with a television tuner, or peripherals that are designed or intended primarily for recreational use.

• Items having a sales price of $100 or less per item:
o Wallets or bags*, including
 Handbags
 Backpacks
 Fanny packs
 Diaper bags
* Briefcases, suitcases, and other garment bags are excluded.
o Clothing
 Any article of wearing apparel intended to be worn on or about the human body, excluding watches, watchbands, jewelry, umbrellas, and handkerchiefs
 All footwear, excluding skis, swim fins, roller blades, and skates
• School supplies having a sales price of $50 or less per item:
o Pens
o Pencils
o Erasers
o Crayons
o Notebooks
o Notebook filler paper
o Legal pads
o Binders
o Lunch boxes
o Construction paper
o Markers
o Folders
o Poster board
o Composition books
o Poster paper
o Scissors
o Cellophane tape
o Glue or paste
o Rulers
o Computer disks
o Staplers
o Staples used to secure paper products
o Protractors
o Compasses
o Calculators
• Learning aids and jigsaw puzzles having a sales price of $30 or less:
o Flashcards or other learning cards
o Matching or other memory games
o Puzzle books and search-and-find books
o Interactive or electronic books and toys intended to teach reading or math skills
o Stacking or nesting blocks or sets

Please note: The 2023 Florida Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday overlaps with the 2023 Florida Freedom Summer Sales Tax Exemption Period (taking place Monday, May 29, 2023, through Monday, September 4, 2023), which includes tax exemptions on several similar products. During the Florida Freedom Summer Sales Tax Holiday, the retail sale of various children’s toys and children’s athletic equipment is tax-exempt, as is the first $35 of the sales price of pool toys. See TIP No. 23A01-03 for specific information.

2. If I purchase an item that costs more than the limits stated above, do I only owe sales tax on the portion of the price that exceeds the limit for that item?
If you purchase an item that would otherwise qualify for the sales tax exemption but costs more than the limits listed above, the item is not exempt, and you must pay sales tax on the entire price of the item.

3. Is there a limit on the number of items that can be purchased exempt during the sales tax holiday?
No. The exemption is based on the sales price of each item, not on the number of items purchased.

4. How exactly are learning aids defined?
“Learning aids” are flashcards or other learning cards, matching or other memory games, puzzle books and search-and-find books, interactive or electronic books and toys intended to teach reading or math skills, and stacking or nesting blocks or sets. Examples of tax-exempt learning aids are the following items with a sales price of $30 or less per item:

• Electronic books
• Flashcards
• Interactive books
• Jigsaw puzzles
• Learning cards
• Matching games
• Memory games
• Puzzle books
• Search-and-find books
• Stacking or nesting blocks or sets
• Toys that teach reading or math skills

5. What types of items are not exempt?
The 2023 and 2024 Florida Back-to-School Sales Tax Holidays do not apply to:
• Any item of clothing with a sales price of more than $100;
• Any school supply item with a sales price of more than $50;
• Learning aids and jigsaw puzzles with a sales price of more than $30;
• Books that are not otherwise exempt;
• Computers and computer-related accessories with a sales price of more than $1,500;
• Computers and computer-related accessories purchased for commercial purposes;
• Rentals of any eligible items;
• Repairs or alterations of any eligible items; or
• Sales of any eligible items within a theme park, entertainment complex, public lodging establishment, or airport.

6. If I buy a package or set of items that contains both taxable and tax-exempt items during the Back-to-School Sales Tax Holidays, how is sales tax calculated?
If a tax-exempt item is sold in a package with a taxable item, sales tax must be calculated on the sales price of the entire package or set.

7. If the store is offering a “buy one, get one free” or “buy one, get one for a reduced price” special on coats and I purchase one for $200 and get another for free, will the transaction be tax-free because I am effectively paying $100 for each pair?
No. The total price of items advertised as “buy one, get one free” or “buy one, get one for a
reduced price” cannot be averaged for both items to qualify for the exemption. In this case, the purchase of the coats is taxable.

8. If I purchase a gift card during the sales tax holiday, can I then purchase a qualifying item tax- exempt using the gift card after the tax holidays end?
No. The purchase of the qualifying item must be made during the sales tax holidays to be tax- exempt. However, when qualifying items are purchased during the tax holidays using a gift card, the items are tax-exempt; it does not matter when the gift card was purchased.

9. If a store issues me a rain check during the sales tax holiday, can I use it after the sales tax holidays to purchase the item tax-exempt?
No. The purchase of the qualifying item must be made during the sales tax holidays to be tax- exempt. When a rain check is issued, a sale has not occurred. The sale occurs when the rain check is redeemed and the item is purchased.

10. If I place an item on layaway, is it eligible for the tax exemption during the sales tax holiday? Yes. A layaway is when an item is set aside for a customer who makes a deposit, agrees to pay the balance of the purchase price over a period of time, and receives the merchandise at the end of the payment period. Qualifying items placed on layaway during the sales tax holidays are tax- exempt, even if final payment of the layaway is made after the tax holidays. If a customer makes a final payment and takes delivery of the items during the tax holiday, the qualifying items are tax- exempt.

11. Do the Back-to-School Sales Tax Holidays also apply to items I purchase online?
Yes. Items purchased online are exempt when the order is accepted by the company during the sales tax holidays for immediate shipment, even if delivery is made after the tax holidays.

12. I purchased an exempt item during the sales tax holiday period, but the seller charged sales tax. How can I get a refund for the tax I paid?
You should take your receipt to the selling dealer and request a refund of the tax collected in error. If the dealer does not issue the refund, you may report this tax violation to the Department of Revenue.

13. Who is responsible for determining which items are exempt and which aren’t?
The 2023 and 2024 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holidays are established through the lawmaking authority of the Florida Legislature. Sales tax holidays, and the items exempted by them, must be passed into law by the Legislature.

14. How can I request that a certain type of product be added to the list?
Sales tax holidays, and the items exempted by them, are passed into law by the Florida Legislature. You may wish to contact your local representative regarding your suggestion. You can find your representative at

15. I didn’t see my question listed here. Where can I find additional information about the 2023 and 2024 Florida Back-to-School Sales Tax Holidays?
If you have a question about a specific item that is not listed in TIP No. 23A01-06, contact the Florida Department of Revenue at (850) 488-6800.

16. I heard there were several sales tax holidays this year. Where can I find more information about the other holidays?
House Bill 7063 from the 2023 regular legislative session was signed into law on May 25, 2023. The new law contains six tax relief holidays and specifies the timeframe for each holiday. For a printable calendar of the tax relief holidays, you can visit our website: Florida Dept. of Revenue - Tax Holidays and Exemption Periods (

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