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GAINESVILLE ‒ About one in 20 residential properties in the city of Hawthorne are at risk of entering the costly and lengthy probate legal process. The Alachua County Property Appraiser’s Office will be hosting its second Probate and Estate Planning Summit on Aug. 18, 2022, at 6 p.m. at Hawthorne Middle/High School, 21403 S.E. 69th Avenue.

This event will feature an interactive panel discussion led by representatives from the Alachua County Clerk of Court, the Alachua County Tax Collector, Alachua County Commissioner Anna Prizzia, the University of Florida Levin College of Law and Three Rivers Legal Services Inc.

Each panelist will discuss how their respective offices are directly impacted by the extensive probate process and how many individuals can opt to create estate plans that are aimed at allowing assets to pass outside of the probate process.

“In February 2022, we launched our initial summit to help families affected by the financial burden of the probate and estate planning process,” said Alachua County Property Appraiser Ayesha Solomon. “This momentum spurred us to share approaches and evidence-based practices that have shown promise for reducing the 6.5 percent of properties in the area that are currently at risk of entering the probate process.”

The Alachua County Property Appraiser’s Office formulated this initiative through a dual data driven approach that identified all the parcels that are classified as heirs’ property throughout the county, as well as parcels with only one remaining owner listed on the property suggesting a lack of proper estate planning.

After successfully analyzing both data sets, two heat maps were created to showcase the “hot spot” areas in the county that are affected the most by these issues.

Hawthorne City Manager Wendy Sapp said, “We hope that our community will benefit from this initiative and be able to walk away with information and resources that will help them navigate through probate and estate planning.”

The Alachua County Property Appraiser’s Office will be practicing social distancing measures to minimize the risk of COVID-19 to guests.

The Alachua County Property Appraiser’s Office ensures that all taxable property in the county is assessed equitably and at its fair market value in accordance with Florida statutes. The Property Appraiser’s Office has two locations: 515 N. Main Street in Gainesville and 15010 N.W. 142nd Terrace in Alachua.

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Alachua County ‒ With schools now open in Alachua County, school bus safety is vitally important to motorists and students. Motorists should also be aware that as of Jan. 1, 2021, the penalties for failure to stop for a school bus double. The penalty for failure to stop for a school bus goes from a minimum $100 to $200, and if a second offense is committed within five years, the person’s license will be suspended for up to one year.

The penalty for passing a school bus on the side where children enter and exit when the school bus displays a stop signal goes from a minimum of $200 to $400, and if a second offense is committed in five years, the person’s license can be suspended up to two years.

School bus safety tips for motorists:

  • Motorists are required to stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and stop arms extended. (See the different situations in the diagram)
  • All drivers moving in either direction on a two-way street must stop for a school bus displaying a stop signal and must remain stopped until the road is clear of children and the school bus stop arm is withdrawn. (see diagram, two-lane)
  • On a highway divided by a paved median, all drivers moving in either direction must stop for a school bus displaying a stop signal and must remain stopped until the road is clear of children and the school bus stop arm is withdrawn. (see diagram, multi-lane)
  • The only time traffic approaching an oncoming school bus does not need to stop is if there is a raised barrier such as a concrete divider or at least five feet of unpaved space separating the lanes of traffic. (see diagram, divided highway)
  • On a highway divided by a raised barrier or an unpaved median at least five feet wide, drivers moving in the opposite direction do not have to stop for the bus (painted lines or pavement markings are not considered barriers). However, these motorists should slow down and watch for students loading or unloading from the bus. (see diagram, divided highway)

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ALACHUA COUNTY ‒ An historical marker will soon be installed in the city of Alachua. The Alachua/Newnansville Subcommittee of the Alachua County Community Remembrance Project, chaired by City of Alachua Commissioner Shirley Green Brown, requested to install a marker within the County right-of-way on County Road Northwest 121st Terrace, at the intersection of State Road 235. The marker will memorialize the lives of lynching victims who lived around the former town of Newnansville and the present-day city of Alachua. The Alachua County Public Works Department recently approved the location to install the new historical marker.

The marker for the Alachua/Newnansville site is currently being created by EJI in Montgomery, Alabama, and will be installed with a ceremony once the County receives the marker.

During the site selection process by the Alachua/Newnansville Subcommittee, the committee noticed that the proposed marker would be located near the hard-to-find historic Newnansville African American Cemetery. During the meetings with Public Works staff, Commissioner Brown and Reverend Debra Sermons asked if the County could help by installing wayfinding signs to the cemetery.

Wayfinding signs help the public find their way to important community features. Supervisor of the Traffic Maintenance Division in the Public Works Department John Nazal and his team designed, manufactured, and installed the signs in accordance with Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Device standards. On July 12, members of the Alachua/Newnansville Subcommittee and the Newnansville African American Cemetery Association held a small ceremony to unveil the new wayfinding signs installed by the County.

Similar historical markers have been placed throughout the County as part of the Truth and Reconciliation process started by the Alachua County Commission in June 2018. The process was prompted by research completed by the Alachua County Historical Commission (ACHC) in response to the national Equal Justice Initiative’s (EJI) lynching research in Alachua County.

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ALACHUA COUNTY ‒ The early voting period for the 2022 Primary Election will begin on Saturday, Aug. 13 at 9 a.m. and run through Aug. 20. Registered Alachua County voters will be able to vote early at any of the county's seven early voting locations between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Additionally, during the early voting period, voters will be able to deliver their completed vote-by-mail ballot to any of the secure ballot intake stations located outside of each early voting site. The secure ballot intake stations will be available during early voting hours, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and will be continuously monitored by trained ballot intake station attendants.

Early voting ends on Aug. 20. Voters can still return their vote-by-mail ballot on Aug. 21 and Aug. 22 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. to the secure ballot intake station located at the Supervisor of Elections Office. On Election Day, Aug. 23, the secure ballot intake station will be available only at the Supervisor of Elections Office from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Here are the seven early voting locations:

  • Supervisor of Elections Office: 515 N. Main Street, Gainesville, FL 32601
  • Millhopper Branch Library: 3145 N.W. 43rd Street, Gainesville, FL 32606
  • Tower Road Branch Library: 3020 S.W. 75th Street, Gainesville, FL 32608
  • Orange Heights Baptist Church:16700 FL-26, Hawthorne, FL 32640
  • Legacy Park Multipurpose Center: 15400 Peggy Road, Alachua, FL 32615
  • J. Wayne Reitz Union: 655 Reitz Union Drive, UF Campus, Gainesville, FL 32611
  • Alachua County Agriculture and Equestrian Center: 23100 W. Newberry Road, Newberry, FL 32669 (New for this election.)

Voters must present valid photo and signature identification to vote early. To find a full list of acceptable photo and signature ID, please visit VoteAlachua.gov or call the Supervisor of Elections Office during normal business hours at 352-374-5252.

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NEWBERRY ‒ The Newberry Garden Club has chosen Brenda Kay Bader’s yard at 475 S.W. 254th Street as Yard of the Month for July. “We are all rewarded by her efforts in making her yard such a fun place to see,” a garden club spokesperson said. “It is evident that she is a very creative in placing yard art and potted plants around to attract one's eye to her space. The pollinators enjoy it, too.”

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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ The City of High Springs, on July 28, tabled discussion of an ordinance to amend design standards for murals. The delay was requested by City Attorney Scott Walker who said the item needed more work. Commissioner Linda Jones voiced concern about the delay, “We don’t have any protection in place and we need it.” Jones wants to see it on the next commission agenda. The subject of outdoor wall murals has been a topic of controversy in the community, with opposing viewpoints leading to continued friction.

Solar Farm Zoning Final Approval

In other business, the Commission approved in a 4-0 vote second reading of an ordinance changing zoning on some 735 acres from County Agricultural to City Agriculture to clear the way for construction of a solar power facility proposed by Duke Energy. The property is located south of Northwest 174th Avenue on the southwestern outskirts of High Springs. The related Comprehensive Plan Amendment was approved by the state a few weeks ago.

Commissioner Ross Ambrose recused himself from the vote although he maintains he has no conflict of interest, but since he had recused himself from the first vote on the related application, he thought it best to do so again in an abundance of caution.

Emergency Repairs of Sewage Lift Station

In other city business, the Commission authorized staff to move forward with emergency repair of a section of piping, fittings and valves at the City’s main lift station that serves as the main point for all city sewage. Public Works Director Thomas Henry said, “You can touch a bolt with your fingers and it just crumbles in your hand.” Assistant City Manager Bruce Gillingham said he would bring back prices to the next Commission meeting for authorization to proceed with the emergency repairs.

Chamber Freebie Questioned

In other action, the Commission is questioning whether the High Springs Chamber of Commerce should continue using City-owned facilities free of charge. A facilities fee waiver for the use of the Civic Center by the organization was pulled from the Consent Agenda for discussion. Previously, the City approved a fee schedule for use of City buildings and facilities that allowed for a 50 percent reduction in cost to non-profit organizations.

Commissioner Ambrose said it was not appropriate for a 100 percent exemption to be allowed for the Chamber so they can hold their monthly meetings, referencing the Chamber’s growth and ability to pay. He pointed out that originally the Chamber said they couldn’t afford to rent the building.

Reading from an email sent out by the Chamber president on June 17, Ambrose said that the communication talked about starting out with only 30 members two years ago but now boasted 100 members. With a significant growth in membership, Ambrose wondered why the Chamber couldn’t afford to rent the Civic Center at the 50 percent rate.

Commissioner Jones asked for a list of organizations that rent City facilities that have not paid. The Commission voted unanimously to allow the Chamber to use the Civic Center for their August meeting and to address the issue again when the list Jones requested was available.

Advanced Metering Infrastructure Interim Financing

The Commission approved on May 12 an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project and now City Finance Director Diana Wilson wants to use the General Fund to foot the costs until financing is obtained. Wilson presented a resolution to formalize the request. The Request for Proposal (RFP) for financing is pending, but has not yet been finalized. Meanwhile, Utility Services Co., Inc. a/k/a Suez is ready to begin the project.

Wilson said formally taking this action makes the reimbursement of funds “transparent” and appropriate. Commissioner Katherine Weitz opposed the action because a specific dollar amount that would need to be reimbursed could not be determined at this time. The motion passed in a 4-1 vote with Weitz casting the dissenting vote.

FY 2022-23 Budget in the Works

The Commission unanimously approved the proposed tentative not-to-exceed millage rate for FY 2022-23 at 6.25 mills and the rolled-back-rate at 5.5251. Wilson is preparing next fiscal year’s budget based on last year’s 5.99 millage rate. “The rolled-back rate is what a city would need to set the millage rate at to collect the same amount of revenue as the previous year,” said Wilson.

Budget workshops are set for Aug. 4 to discuss the General Fund, Aug. 16 to discuss other funds and Aug. 23, if needed. Budget hearings are set for Sept. 8 for First Reading and Sept. 19 for Second Reading. Budget hearings will take place at 6:30 at High Springs City Hall Commission Chambers.

Water Pressure, School SRO, Summer Arts Camp

The Commission also approved awarding low bidder General Underground out of Chiefland to improve water pressure and flow on the west end of town. This Suwannee River Water Management District Water System Interconnect Project is a grant funded project that will connect West U.S. Highway 27 and U.S. Highway 441 water lines through River Run Plantation and Riverglen subdivisions. It will eliminate the need for flushing of the water system in this area and will help reduce non-revenue water loss. The City is providing a financial match for the project.

Commissioners approved an agreement to provide one High Springs police officer to act as a School Resource Officer (SRO) for First Christian Academy. The School Board agrees to pay up to $53,071 as its share of funding for this SRO for the 2022-2023 school year.

Good News Art Director Jessica Caladas addressed the Commission to review the Summer Arts Camp, which was in held in partnership with the City’s Parks and Recreation Department. Caladas said that 130 youth from kindergarten to eighth grade participated in the program over the summer with 60 – 80 children participating per week. She said the Children’s Trust of Alachua County provided scholarships to those children who couldn’t afford to pay as well as helping to provide lunches and snacks.

Caladas reviewed the field trips the group took to Poe Springs, Cade, Harn and Florida Museums and thanked the Parks and Recreation Director Damon Messina for his help and support. Caladas invited everyone to attend the Summer Arts Camp Art Show at Good News Arts on Aug. 6 from 5 – 7 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

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GAINESVILLE ‒ Based on news accounts, it may seem there are more shark sightings — and attacks — than usual along the northeastern shores of the United States, but a University of Florida shark expert says that’s a misleading perception.

“Every summer, stories about shark attacks tend to get amplified, which can generate the false idea that things are different this year,” said Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History. “Globally, we’re on track for a very normal shark-bite year, with about 70-80 unprovoked around the world.”

Unprovoked shark bites have increased slightly over the last 30 years, but Naylor attributes that to the growing number of people enjoying recreational ocean activities.

“Sharks don’t target humans,” he said. “Nearly every bite is due to mistaken identity. Sharks can’t see very well, especially in murky water, and they are simply following food.”

Naylor said changes in local conditions can contribute to increased marine activity within a region. Long Island, New York, is one area that has experienced five non-fatal attacks within two weeks in July.

“I’m sure for people in New York, it can feel like there is an uptick in shark attacks, especially when several occur in rapid succession at their beaches,” he said. “Five unprovoked bites happening in an area is odd but not a trend and shouldn’t cause people to avoid beaches around the world.”

Naylor, who is also program director of the “International Shark Attack Files,” is in high demand by reporters this time of year as media fascination and high-rated shark week TV programming capture the country’s attention. Naylor sees the elevated interest as an opportunity to teach people about the fish he has studied for nearly three decades.

“People are interested in sharks because they like to be frightened,” he said. “If we can help the general public see that they are remarkable animals that have been here for 400 million years with intriguing qualities, like one species that can live as long as 400 years and another that can clone itself, then maybe they’ll be amazed and forget to be frightened.”

Those wanting to learn more about sharks can visit the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), which is the world’s only scientifically verified database of all known shark attacks, covering the period from the early 1500s to the present. The ISAF provides an abundance of data and resources for those interested in understanding shark attack trends, the odds for being attacked by a shark and how to reduce your risk. Tips include avoid being in the water during low light hours, like dawn or dusk, when many sharks are most active and feeding; not wandering too far from shore; and always staying with a buddy since sharks are more likely to approach a solitary individual.

“We have added an interactive shark attack map, so you can choose any period of time going back more than 100 years and see for yourself the trends in unprovoked shark bites in any given area of the world,” Naylor said. “You can even narrow it down by species.”

Five facts from the 2021 ISAF:

  • The 2021 worldwide total of 73 confirmed unprovoked cases was in line with the most recent five-year (2016-2020) average of 72 incidents annually.
  • The U.S. has the most unprovoked bites in the world, with 47 last year.
  • Florida had the most unprovoked bites in U.S., with 28 last year.
  • Most bites are related to surfing and board sports.
  • The odds of getting bit by a shark are less than 1 in 4 million.

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MIAMI — Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis on Friday joined hundreds of competitors to kick off the 2022 Florida Python Challenge®. Over 800 participants and counting, from 32 states and Canada, are beginning their search to find and remove invasive Burmese pythons from the Everglades ecosystem. Participants are eligible to win thousands of dollars in prizes while removing Burmese pythons from the wild as part of the competition that kicked off today at 8:00 a.m. and runs through 5:00 p.m. on August 14. Additionally, the First Lady announced the milestone of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)'s python removal contractors removing more than 10,000 Burmese pythons from the wild in Florida.

“I am excited to kick off the 2022 Florida Python Challenge® by going out into the Everglades to join those coming from near and far, both novices and professionals, to hunt pythons – today marks another year of innovative conservation strategies to protect Florida’s beautiful natural resources for generations to come,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “This is significant because every python removed is one less invasive species preying on our native birds, mammals and reptiles. Our family will continue to support conservation efforts in the Everglades, and today I’m doing that by being one of the first out to hunt this invasive species.”

Under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis, FWC, South Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida host the Florida Python Challenge® to increase awareness about invasive species and the threats they pose to Florida’s ecology. The annual competition encourages people to get directly involved in Everglades conservation through invasive species removal.

“Florida’s wildlife and unique landscapes are like nowhere else in the world," said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto.  "The proactive leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis has been instrumental in providing us with the resources we need to remove harmful invasive species such as the Burmese python, and events like The Florida Python Challenge® provide an opportunity for the public to become personally involved in this important effort to protect our spectacular natural resources.” 

“Thanks to the tremendous support of Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis, conservation and the protection of our natural resources in Florida remains a top priority,” said FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton. Through the partnership we share with the South Florida Water Management District, python contractors, and the dedicated participants of the Florida Python Challenge®, we remain unified to explore and implement the methods to control this invasive species in order to make a lasting impact in the protection of our treasured Everglades ecosystem.”

“Removing invasive pythons from the Everglades ecosystem is one of our agency’s most important goals,” said Florida Depatment of Environemntal Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “We are grateful for the Governor’s leadership in coordinating this effort among state agencies, the South Florida Water Management District and researchers to address the Burmese python infestation, and for giving the public an opportunity to engage in ecosystem restoration. The participants in this year’s Python Challenge will play a pivotal role in helping to preserve and protect the Everglades.”

“I thank Governor Ron DeSantis and our First Lady Casey DeSantis for fighting to save America's Everglades and protect Florida’s natural resources,” said SFWMD Governing Board Member “Alligator Ron” Bergeron. “With the strong support we receive from the DeSantis Administration, we are removing record numbers of pythons from the Everglades while restoring this important ecosystem. Everyday citizens play a big part in this fight through the annual Python Challenge and add to the important work of our hardworking professional python removal agents. Let’s save the Everglades!”

“Wow, more than 10,000 pythons! Florida is making monumental progress on our Everglades restoration efforts and the fight against the harmful Burmese pythons thanks to the support of the DeSantis Administration,” said SFWMD Executive Director Drew Bartlett. “We are grateful for our partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the public during this year’s Python Challenge. Your efforts make a difference, and we appreciate the Governor’s and First Lady’s commitment to our precious natural resources.” 

Participants in both the professional and novice categories can win cash prizes of up to $2,500 for removing the most pythons. There will be additional awards for the longest pythons removed in both categories. This year, Edison National Bank is sponsoring thousands in cash prizes awarded to eligible active-duty military and veteran participants.

People interested in competing can still register through the final day of the competition, August 14, at FLPythonChallenge.org. There is a $25 registration fee and participants must complete a free online training to compete.

Visit FLPythonChallenge.org to register for the competition, take the online training, learn more about Burmese pythons and the unique Everglades ecosystem and find resources for planning your trip to south Florida to participate in the Florida Python Challenge®.

About invasive Burmese pythons

Burmese pythons are not native to Florida and negatively impact native species. They are found primarily in and around the Everglades ecosystem in south Florida where they prey on birds, mammals and other reptiles. A female Burmese python may lay 50 to 100 eggs at a time. More than 17,000 Burmese pythons have been removed from Florida since 2000. For more information on Burmese pythons, visit MyFWC.com/Python.

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TALLAHASSEE – Florida's Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis warns Floridians of a recent cryptocurrency scam known as “pig butchering” or “pig slaughtering” in which victims are enticed to put more and more money into a fake cryptocurrency investment scheme only to “fatten them up” before a scammer disappears with vast sums of their cryptocurrency. This cryptocurrency scam is reportedly most often perpetrated on dating sites and social media as a new form of a romance scam.
 
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “In Florida, we embrace emerging technology and innovation, but consumers must always stay on guard for scams especially as new financial products like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies become increasingly popular. Reports say cryptocurrency scams have bilked millions out of unsuspecting crypto investors; many of which were scammed through online dating apps over the course of several months. Just like with any major financial decision, consumers should do research and never transfer funds to someone you think is suspicious, untrustworthy, and whose identity you haven’t verified. You may as well kiss your money goodbye. If you feel you have been the victim of a scam, report it immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com. Always remember, if an opportunity sounds too good to be true, it is.”
 
Three tips from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to avoid crypto scams:
 
• Only scammers demand payment in cryptocurrency. No legitimate business is going to demand you send cryptocurrency in advance – not to buy something, and not to protect your money. That’s always a scam.

• Only scammers will guarantee profits or big returns. Don’t trust people who promise you can quickly and easily make money in the crypto markets.

• Never mix online dating and investment advice. If you meet someone on a dating site or app, and they want to show you how to invest in crypto, or asks you to send them crypto, that’s a scam.

For more tips on how to avoid cryptocurrency scams, click here.

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TALLAHASSEE - On May 22, Florida angler, Dale Dew, caught the first pink-tagged bass of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) TrophyCatch 10-Tag Celebration. Dew will receive a $5,000 gift card to Bass Pro Shops and $1,000 to shop at AFTCO. This catch also means he has a chance to win an additional $10,000, which will be awarded at a ceremony this fall.

FWC biologists tagged this specific largemouth bass in February on Lake Griffin. Dew caught the fish near the same spot it was tagged, using a plastic worm. He successfully submitted his catch according to TrophyCatch rules.

Dew is originally from Antiqua and he and his family now live in central Florida. While he was not originally going fishing for the pink tag, he saw a sign about the promotion that day.

“It was the first time we heard about it, and we were like, ‘Whoa what’s this? We aren't going to catch it. We’re two guys who can’t fish!’” said Dale Dew, the first lucky angler to catch a pink-tagged largemouth bass. “We don’t have all the nice equipment or a nice bass boat but we got lucky and caught it! So, it could be any ordinary person who catches it. You never know, it’s crazy.”

Nine more pink-tagged bass are swimming in other waterbodies across the state: Newnans Lake; Lake George; Lake Talquin; Lake Walk-in-Water; Tenoroc Fish Management Area; Lake Trafford; Lake Istokpoga; Lake Rousseau; and Johns Lake. Anglers have until the end of September to fish for these special, prized fish.

To celebrate Season 10 of the TrophyCatch program, biologists with the FWC tagged and released 10 largemouth bass with bright pink tags in 10 different locations across the state. Anglers should check the TrophyCatch website for rules and updates.

The TrophyCatch program rewards anglers who provide documentation of their catch and release of largemouth bass weighing 8 pounds or heavier in Florida. To be eligible for prizes, anglers are required to submit photos or videos of their catch to TrophyCatch.com, showing the entire fish and its weight on a scale, before releasing it back into the water. Participants are also automatically entered in a free boat drawing just for registering. FWC biologists use TrophyCatch data for bass research to make informed decisions about the management of Florida bass fisheries and to promote the catch and release of trophy bass. The associated TrophyCare program promotes best handling practices for trophy bass to ensure that each TrophyCatch bass is released alive.

For the latest news about the TrophyCatch 10-TAG Celebration subscribe to the program’s topic email (select “TrophyCatch” under “Freshwater Fishing”). For more information about the TrophyCatch program or the 10-TAG Celebration, email KP Clements at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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TALLAHASSEE, - Today, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) is encouraging businesses throughout the state to prepare for the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which begins June 1. DEO urges businesses to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season by visiting FloridaDisaster.biz, which provides business owners with resources to prepare for potential disasters, critical updates during a disaster, and post-disaster resources to help Florida’s businesses recover and Floridians return to work.

 During the Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday, which runs from Saturday, May 28 to Friday, June 10, business owners can also purchase some equipment to prepare their businesses for a disaster tax-free, including batteries, tarps and generators. A full list of eligible tax-free items is available here.

 “Thanks to Governor DeSantis’ strong leadership, Florida businesses have access to the resources they need to prepare for disasters and make a quick recovery following a disaster,” said DEO Secretary Dane Eagle. “FloridaDisaster.biz enables businesses to make the best decisions for their employees and business operations during disaster events, and DEO encourages all businesses to utilize this valuable tool.”

 Taking the steps to build a business disaster continuity plan, as well as encouraging employees to create a family emergency plan, can reduce the financial and physical impact that a disaster can have on businesses. 

For information about how to create a plan, what to include in a disaster kit, where to find storm updates, and more information, please visit the resources below:

  •  FloridaDisaster.org is maintained by the Division of Emergency Management, with resources and information about what businesses should do during and after a disaster.
  • FloridaDisaster.biz is a partnership between DEO and the Florida Division of Emergency Management that provides a hub for businesses before, during, and after emergencies.

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GAINESVILLE – The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention invites applications for its 13th Annual Cade Prize for Innovation. Inventors and entrepreneurs in Florida, Georgia and Alabama may apply June 1 – August 1, 2022. 

“The Cade Prize for Innovation supports an ecosystem of invention throughout the Southeast,” said Richard Miles, Cade Prize Committee Chair. “It rewards early-stage ideas with the promise to change the world and fuel billion-dollar economies.” 

This year’s Cade Prize is one of the largest cash prize competitions for innovation in Florida, awarding $64,000: $34,000 for first place, $13,000 for second place, $8,000 for third place, $5,000 for fourth place, $3,000 for fifth place and $1,000 for the People’s Choice. Each winner also receives $2,000 of in-kind legal services. 

Designed to help early-stage inventors move beyond invention and into the marketplace, the Cade Prize provides capital to help secure patents, licensing, manufacturing, distribution and marketing.  

The Cade Prize awards candidates whose work addresses critical issues impacting the Southeast: Agriculture/Environment, Health Care/Biomedicine, IT/Technology, Energy and a Wild Card category. Applicants do not need to have a working prototype. 

Since 2010, hundreds of inventors with groundbreaking inventions have applied for the coveted prize. Some have achieved great success. “Winning the Cade Prize helped take us from an invention to a sustained business,” said 2010 Cade Prize winner, Ethan Fieldman, co-founder of Tutor Matching Service.  

 Fieldman and his team developed Tutor Matching Service, a website and Facebook application matching college students with educators from around the world. “Winning the Cade Prize validated our proof of concept, led to industry-wide support and an explosion of sales,” he said. After many universities partnered with the company, it attracted a multi-million dollar investment from several venture capitalists to expand its offering to an app. In 2021, Fieldman sold the business to the Carlyle Group and enjoys staying connected with the Cade Museum team. 

To be eligible, individuals or companies may have no more than $500,00 in outside investment such as funding from investors in exchange for stock or convertible notes. R1 research universities in Alabama, Georgia and Florida are invited to nominate one entry for automatic inclusion to the first round of judging. Applications may be submitted virtually at cadeprize.awardsplatform.com with a $55 application fee. 

The first round of judging, to determine the 21 Fibonacci Finalists - named after the 11th century Italian mathematician who created the building blocks of Western mathematics – is August 15, 2022. The Fibonacci Finalists are invited to the Cade Museum in Gainesville, Florida for a public Q & A about their inventions on September 8, 2022. The Cade Prize Awards Ceremony takes place at the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention on September 29, 2022.  

This year’s Cade Prize is sponsored by Scott R. MacKenzie, Florida Trend, Modern Luxury, James Moore Certified Public Accountants and Consultants, Community Foundation of North Central Florida, and Saliwanchik, Lloyd & Eisenschenk law firm. To learn more about the Cade Prizevisit cademuseum.org/cadeprize

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It’s high time the local business owners speak up. I am a small business owner in High Springs for seven years now, and before that, helped run the High Springs Art Coop for six years. As we all know, our area is growing at a crazy rate. People have discovered our area for the treasure it is, as we all have at one point, so we have to learn to accept change in a reasonable way. The key word is reasonable.

Landlord greed with unreasonable rents kills business, most of all small business. Even big business suffers. I remember a story before Covid of the famous Barney’s of NYC, an icon for years that closed because the owners of their building raised the rent. They were already paying a million dollars a month!

Locally, look how the lovely town of Alachua went from being a vibrant historic downtown that we in High Springs envied and now it struggles to make it. Why? I feel it is because of large land owners who own the majority of real estate. They get renters in the first year at a low rate and after a year jack up the rent. I was told by a previous store owner than they over charge for utilities, too. These small places can barely make $1,000 to $1,500 a month total and most don’t bring in a monthly salary for themselves. How are they going to pay over $2,000 a month rent? Shame on what has happened in that lovely town.

Micanopy is another depressed town because of unreasonable people and then just look at downtown Gainesville. I wonder how long all those huge apartment houses will sit empty because of the humongous rents they are charging.

We can still save High Springs. We can make it a model historic small-town success. Here we have a few local hero landowners who are logical, honest and smart business owners. They charge rents that these small businesses can sustain.

The Barber and Grady families in our town are a blessing to all who rent from them—unlike some of the newbies who have bought up some of our buildings. The newbies’ unrealistic expectations can kill small businesses, or no one will pay such high rents, so their structures remain empty.

For example, in downtown High Springs there is the corner spot where River Run Olive Oil sat. It is a prime location, and here it is another year that it sits empty. The original owners sold because they wished to retire.

Across the street from me is the largest group of modern local store spaces. There was a quilt store there for a bit, but she couldn’t sustain the high rent. The same with rentals on the other side of her, the buildings have sat empty for years now. The owner is from Miami and thinks she is going to get Miami prices. All of these are prime real estate, front and center on Main Street and empty.

The main inspiration to this letter is The Florida Springs Institute. It is our local nonprofit, which does so much good protecting and bringing awareness to our local waters. I understand they are being kicked out of their corner space by their landlord. I heard they weren’t even given the offer to stay at a higher rate. The landlord is going to put someone in there at a huge increase in rent.

Although the landlord professes to support the springs, it seems that is the bottom line is taking precedence. We will see if the “new” business can sustain the ridiculously high rent or will downtown have another empty store front?

I had to say something and bring attention to this issue, even though I don’t think there is much we can do. The town is at the mercy of landowners who decide the bottom line. We can only hope and pray that our little town of High Springs continues to grow with sweet businesses that add to our charm with newbies coming who want to add to our world.

We are not against “reasonable” change. We welcome new and younger people looking to share in our small-town dream. Younger entrepreneurs bring vitality and freshness. We are just asking new and old landlords to keep it real and not let the over inflated prices for everything else invade common sense business practices. We expect you to make “reasonable” incomes, just not overpriced ones.

The future is determined right now. We either jack up rents, run the little charming business out and we get replaced by offices, empty stores and decay, or we support the small-town flair, encouraging the entrepreneur and make a small local business possible for everyone.

Remember that a store that sits empty for years produces zero rent. The more spaces that are filled, the better it is for all businesses.

Tina Corbett

High Springs, Florida

It is a great honor to serve High Springs as your new Postmaster. In my years with the United States Postal Service, I have seen firsthand the role the Postal Service plays connecting neighbors and our community to the nation.

Our Post Offices serve as a lifeline for our small businesses to reach customers no matter where they are. Under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s leadership and Delivering For America, the Postal Service’s 10-year plan, we are maintaining universal six-day mail delivery and expanded seven-day package delivery, stabilizing our workforce, and spurring innovation to meet the needs of our modern customers.

Just as the Postal Service continues to provide a vital service for our nation, the staff of the High Springs Post Office will proudly continue that same public service in this community.

On behalf of the 650,000 women and men of the United States Postal Service, I thank you for continuing to support the Postal Service. Providing reliable mail delivery while strengthening the future of this treasured institution is our commitment to you.

Angel Cruz

Postmaster High Springs, FL 32643-9998

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As a volunteer and advocate with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, this month I am asking everyone to join us and demand #MoreForMentalHealth.

I am doing more by calling on my legislators at the federal and state levels to support legislation that will fund the implementation of 988 and the suicide and mental health crisis system across our nation, particularly for those in underserved communities.

Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255 and de-escalates the crises of tens of thousands of callers each day. On July 16, those in distress and those that support them will be able to reach the Lifeline through a simple 3-digit number: 988.

By making the Lifeline more accessible through this shorter number, calls, texts, and chats to the Lifeline's network of crisis call centers are expected to increase. It is vital that the federal government work with states to ensure callers in distress will have: 1) someone to call, 2) someone to come help, and 3) somewhere safe to go.

We must act NOW to secure funding to equip call centers and community crisis response services throughout the country with the staff and resources to respond to everyone in crisis.

Join me this month in urging our federal and state public officials to do #MoreForMentalHealth. You can start by visiting moreformentalhealth.org.

Together, we can help #StopSuicide.

Peggy Portwine

Alachua, Florida

“I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” These words are as moving today as when first spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the passionate and influential civil rights leader who stood as a “pillar of hope and a model of grace” in his fight towards equality for all.

On January 17, we will reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. King, who, with his brave supporters, stood in strong opposition to racial discrimination, as well as the wrongful and unequal treatment of people who differed in national origin and religious beliefs.

The State of Florida continues to carry Dr. King’s legacy forward, committed to ending discrimination and ensuring all within our state have fair and equal access to employment and housing - because every person deserves to live the American Dream. The Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) was established in 1969 to enforce the Florida Civil Rights Act and address discrimination through education, outreach, and partnership. Annually, the FCHR recognizes and honors Floridians who advance civil rights throughout the state in the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame.

As we take this time to honor Dr. King, let us consider how we can improve our own communities. Everyone should have the opportunity to live the American Dream. Dr. King paved the way for our society to embrace equality, and it is our job as Americans and Floridians to ensure the civil rights of all people.

Angela Primiano, Vice-Chair

Florida Commission on Human Relations

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Floridians,

This week, I announced the new Mental Health Care Service webpage on the Department of Financial Services (DFS) website, which aims to provide resources and assistance to mental health services for consumers. This past legislative session, HB 701 was signed by Governor DeSantis and establishes new communication duties for health insurers and HMOs and creates reporting requirements for DFS.

I’m proud to provide Floridians with resources they need to seek vital treatment so they can live a healthier life. As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, mental health challenges are on the rise nationwide, especially within our first responder and front-line healthcare communities. Thank you to Governor Ron DeSantis, First Lady Casey DeSantis and the Florida Legislature for stressing the importance of mental health resources in our communities.

On Tuesday, I recognized, October 12th, as National Savings Day and urged Floridians to make saving a priority to secure their financial well-being. Saving is the cornerstone of a strong financial foundation. Setting money aside each month allows families to handle unexpected costs or prepare for future expenses, like college tuition. As your CFO, I remain focused on ensuring all Floridians have the tools they need to make their hard-earned money work for them. For information about financial literacy programs available through the Department, please visit Your Money Matters, which is a one-stop shop for tips and resources to help Floridians manage their finances wisely.

Lastly, in recognition of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, I encouraged Floridians to 'Be Cyber Smart' and raised awareness in an effort to stay safe and secure online. Recently, officials are warning consumers of a new scam where fraudsters are creating fake Google Voice accounts to scam people without being detected. Scammers are always searching for new ways to trick their next victim and using fake Google Voice accounts is their latest ploy. I encourage all individuals and businesses to take action today to 'Be Cyber Smart' and learn how to protect your identity online to ensure you don’t fall victim. Learn about the latest scams and report signs of fraud immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com

Jimmy Patrons

State of Florida CFO

With Memorial Day behind us and Independence Day on the horizon, I’m happy to report that our state parks have never been more popular.

Our beaches – two of which were recently named among the 10 best in America by beach guru Dr. Beach – and our springs have attracted a record number of visitors, and we expect that trend to continue in the weeks and months ahead.

Not only that, but our campsites are filling up too as more people discover the joys of camping and RVing.

As it turns out, now is a great time to plan an overnight stay. June is National Camping Month, and the Florida Park Service has just launched a new reservation system that provides our visitors with quicker, easier access to their favorite parks.

The new system shows clearly which parks and sites are available for camping and provides online users with a streamlined process for making reservations. Additionally, campers can now reserve same-day accommodations, which is something that we’ve been wanting to implement for a long time.

The changes will also be apparent at each park’s ranger station, as we’ve updated our point-of-sale system to be more modernized and, most importantly, faster. That means less time at the park gates and more time inside the park.

You might also notice welcome additions such as the ability to be notified when a site becomes available. And, in the future, we’ll be looking to add expanded reservation capabilities for Florida residents.

When thinking about your favorite parks, you might remember an unforgettable paddling adventure or boat tour. But take a moment to consider the park operations needed to offer our visitors the best experiences possible.

Food sales, camp stores, kayak rentals, ferries and trams are services that we could not provide if not for a specially selected group of businesses – many of them owned locally. These companies and their employees are a part of our park community, and they’re just as committed as regular park staff to making your visit safe and enjoyable.

The business that helps us with reservations is just one of our partners that help make 800,000 acres, 30 springs and 100 miles of beaches special places to visit.     

Eric Draper

Director, Florida State Parks

 

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TALLAHASSEE – Florida's Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis warns Floridians of a recent cryptocurrency scam known as “pig butchering” or “pig slaughtering” in which victims are enticed to put more and more money into a fake cryptocurrency investment scheme only to “fatten them up” before a scammer disappears with vast sums of their cryptocurrency. This cryptocurrency scam is reportedly most often perpetrated on dating sites and social media as a new form of a romance scam.
 
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “In Florida, we embrace emerging technology and innovation, but consumers must always stay on guard for scams especially as new financial products like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies become increasingly popular. Reports say cryptocurrency scams have bilked millions out of unsuspecting crypto investors; many of which were scammed through online dating apps over the course of several months. Just like with any major financial decision, consumers should do research and never transfer funds to someone you think is suspicious, untrustworthy, and whose identity you haven’t verified. You may as well kiss your money goodbye. If you feel you have been the victim of a scam, report it immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com. Always remember, if an opportunity sounds too good to be true, it is.”
 
Three tips from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to avoid crypto scams:
 
• Only scammers demand payment in cryptocurrency. No legitimate business is going to demand you send cryptocurrency in advance – not to buy something, and not to protect your money. That’s always a scam.

• Only scammers will guarantee profits or big returns. Don’t trust people who promise you can quickly and easily make money in the crypto markets.

• Never mix online dating and investment advice. If you meet someone on a dating site or app, and they want to show you how to invest in crypto, or asks you to send them crypto, that’s a scam.

For more tips on how to avoid cryptocurrency scams, click here.

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