Top Stories

Grid List

RAY CARSON/Alachua County Today


HIGH SPRINGS ‒ The City of High Springs and Anderson’s Outdoor Adventures (AOA) are calling it quits to their arrangement for AOA to manage the Santa Fe Canoe Outpost after the City found that AOA was launching the majority of their vessels from their other locations. At the May 11 High Springs City Commission meeting, in a somewhat surprising turn of events, City Manager Ashely Stathatos announced the change. Instead, the Canoe Outpost will operate as a city park open to the public.

Both parties agreed to part ways by the end of June. “AOA has agreed to honor all reservations,” said Stathatos. The Canoe Outpost will still serve as a launching point to the Santa Fe River, but there will not be an exclusive agreement with any one outfitter.

City Coffers Get Extra Dollars

In other City business, High Springs will be receiving an additional $3 million from the Suwannee River Water Management District to apply to the expansion of the wastewater treatment facility project. The City had set aside American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, impact fees and reserve funds for Phase 1 of the project. If ARPA funds will not be needed for this project, the funds can be used for other projects.

Stathatos announced that the City has been seeking a state legislative appropriation for the Priest Theater. “The Senate has agreed to give us additional funds as well so right now, between the House and Senate, they are recommending to the Governor’s Office funding of $1.04 million towards the project,” she said. “This still needs to go to the Governor’s Office, but we anticipate that he will not veto the request.”

Utility Easement Vacated

In other business, the Commission approved vacating a utility easement on first reading at the request of Gary and Patricia Grunder. In 2003, a 50-foot alleyway was vacated by the City and deeded to the Grunders. At that time the City reserved a 15-foot utility easement in the mistaken belief that there was an existing water line in the easement.

The Grunders propose building a garage and attached green house in that area and are unable to do so unless the City vacates the easement. Stathatos said there were no plans to run water lines in that easement now or in the future. City staff recommended the easement be vacated as it serves no public purpose.

Commissioner Tristan Grunder recused himself from voting on this issue as the petitioners are relatives.

New Sign for Historic Building

The Historic High Springs Elementary School and Community Center at 23760 N.W. 187th Avenue will soon be home to a free-standing sign featuring Thomas “Pop” Diedeman and Essie Mae Williams Gassett. The sign will be placed in front and to the left of the main entrance of the building. Lighting and landscaping are also proposed to highlight the sign, which is an unattached mural painted during the recent Walldogs event.

As the building is considered to be part of the Parks and Recreation facilities, the item was presented to the Commission by Parks and Recreation Board Chair Linda Hewlett following their Board’s approval of the action. The request will also be considered by the City’s Historic Preservation Board.

Waste Pro

In other business, regarding commercial recycling, Waste Pro’s Dayna Miller informed the Commission that due to state statutes, commercial accounts may set up their own recycling arrangements directly with Waste Pro.

Waste Pro will be increasing the number of times they are emptying shared dumpsters to help the company gauge how often they need to be emptied in the future.

#     #     #

Email cwalker@

Add a comment

NEWBERRY ‒ In a move that will bring a commercial center and storage facilities to Newberry, the City Commission on May 8 unanimously approved a rezoning application on second reading for property located on the south side of West Newberry Road/State Road 26 between Southwest 218th Street and Southwest 226th Street. The approval amends the City’s Official Zoning Atlas to change the zoning from Commercial General (CG) to Commercial Intensive (CI) zoning district on 8.28 +/- acres of land.

“Plans are for the site to be developed as a commercial center up front and additional boat and RV storage to the south, with possibly mini storage in-between,” said Planning and Economic Development Director Bryan Thomas. He explained that Commercial General is usually reserved for small scale commercial, while Commercial Intensive is usually for automotive uses.

In his recommendation to enact this change on second reading, Thomas said that the CI Zoning District is compatible with the mixture of uses in the area along State Road 26 and is consistent with the Corridor Study and community visioning indicators. This application was unanimously approved by the Planning and Zoning Board on March 6 and unanimously approved again on first reading by the City Commission on April 10.

In other City business, Thomas presented the proposed timeline for revising the Newberry Comprehensive Plan, something the Commission has been talking about reviewing for some time.

The Comprehensive Plan is the community’s expression of its vision for future growth. The Plan is intended to provide guidance from a high-level perspective, while the Land Development Regulations are the tools to implement that vision. Newberry’s Comprehensive Plan has not been thoroughly revised since 2006 and contains elements that are no longer applicable to the current environment, as well as very specific language that is more suitable to being in the Land Development Regulations.

The process will bring multiple public and Commission open houses to provide the community with ample opportunities for input. In addition to public input, the revised Plan will incorporate the recently adopted Mission, Vision, and Core Values that were developed during last year’s visioning workshops.

All workshops and meetings will take place at the Municipal Building and are scheduled to occur from 6 – 9 p.m. Public workshops and meetings will be held May 24, June 6, July 10 (provide update to the Commission) and Aug. 14 for a Commission workshop.

Upon approval by the Newberry City Commission, the Comprehensive Plan will be sent to the state for review and approval, which can take up to 45 days.

In other business, City Manager New announced that the City was awarded a $55,000 USDA Rural Business Development Grant. It will be used to fund a development business plan for the Agtech Park and also to “further develop our stakeholders to get enough momentum to get the initial round of infrastructure constructed and the first facilities, which we think will be the incubator building”.

New also reported that the City was funded for two $1 million grants for a water storage tank and for a wastewater treatment plant expansion by the Florida Legislature in the 2023 Session that ended on May 5. He said the funding “will have to go before the governor’s veto pen”.

#     #     #

Email cwalker@

Add a comment

Staff report/Alachua Chronicle

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Timari Deloris Biddle, 20, and Theodore Isaiah Martin, 16, were arrested May 13 and charged with nine business burglaries over a three-hour period.

Cabrera Business Burglary Spree Timari Deloris Biddle 5At about 1:40 a.m. on May 12, the pair allegedly shattered a window at the Dollar General at 1080 N.E. 16th Avenue with a baseball bat, with damages estimated at $1,000. The pair allegedly entered the store and stole about $100 in tobacco products. On the way out, Martin allegedly hit two computer monitors with the bat, shattering them and causing another $1,000 in damage.

They also allegedly shattered the glass on the front door of the Department of Children and Families office at 1000 N.E. 16th Avenue with a baseball bat, with damages estimated at $500. They allegedly entered the office and smashed multiple computer monitors, knocked down two security cameras, and stole a laptop, a laptop case, and an iPhone. The damage inside the office is estimated at over $1,000, and the stolen items are valued at about $1,600. The laptop and laptop case were later recovered at the scene of another burglary.

At about 1:50 a.m., the pair allegedly broke the glass door of Three Rivers Legal Services at 1000 N.E. 16th Avenue with a bat, with damages estimated at $1,000. The pair allegedly entered the business but were scared off before they could steal anything.

At about 2:00 a.m., the pair allegedly entered Public and General, 1000 N.E. 16th Avenue, through an unlocked front door. While inside, they allegedly stole a tip jar containing $20-$40 and a U.S. Treasury check made out to Public and General.

At about 2:40 a.m., the pair allegedly tried to break the drive-through window of the Popeyes Chicken at 1412 N. Main Street but left on bicycles when the window didn’t break. Damages are estimated at about $500.

At about 2:54 a.m., the pair allegedly broke the glass door of Fly Smoke Shop, 1212 N. Main Street, with a bat, causing damage over $1,000. They allegedly entered the business and stole $500 from the register and “numerous” other items, with the total loss valued at over $2,500.

At about 4:30 a.m., the pair allegedly tried to break the glass door at Smoke City, 2107 N.W. 13th Street, with a bat, but they were unsuccessful. They allegedly knocked down two exterior security cameras, causing damage of about $200.

The pair also allegedly smashed glass on the front of Urban Thread, 1236 N.W. 21st Avenue, causing about $300 in damage. They allegedly entered the business and stole $100 from the cash register.

They allegedly broke a back window at Adam’s Rib Company, 2109 N.W. 13th Street, with a bat, with damage estimated at $200. They allegedly entered the business and stole $170 from the cash register and a Gatorade from the cooler.

TB Goods Pawn Shop at 325 N.E. 23rd Avenue is also listed as a victim, but details are unavailable.

The pair were reportedly caught on video surveillance cameras. Hours later, Martin was reportedly found at the Wash King, 210 N.E. 16th Avenue, still wearing the clothes shown in the video.

Post Miranda, he reportedly admitted to all of the burglaries and implicated Biddle in the thefts.

At about 5:45 p.m. May 13, Biddle was found outside her residence in the 1800 block of Northeast 15th Street, wearing the same clothes shown in the video. She reportedly had the same backpack from the video and had “numerous” stolen items in her possession, including the iPhone and a large amount of cash in mostly small denominations. She was reportedly intoxicated and could not be interviewed.

Martin is listed as a co-defendant on all of the arrest affidavits, but his exact charges are unavailable. Biddle has been charged with seven counts of burglary of an unoccupied structure, two counts of burglary with property damage over $1,000, four counts of theft, three counts of property damage over $200, two counts of property damage over $1,000, and two counts of grand theft over $750.

Biddle was previously arrested in January 2021 and charged with five car burglaries with a different juvenile co-defendant. She entered a plea of nolo contendere to the charges and was sentenced to three years of probation, with adjudication of guilt withheld; she was also ordered to pay restitution to the victims. She was arrested again in January 2022 and charged with threatening to shoot another student at A. Quinn Jones School. She was found incompetent to proceed with trial by reason of intellectual disability and was committed to an Agency for Persons with Disabilities training facility. In October 2022, she was found competent to proceed with trial and was released to the care of a family member after entering pleas of nolo contendere to making a threat to kill and five counts of probation violation; her previous probation was revoked, and she was sentenced to two years of probation with a Mental Health Plan.

After she was removed from her mental health treatment group in January 2023 for being uncooperative and for “escalating” behavior including a physical altercation, she was re-arrested for violating the terms of the probation. She was released with a new Mental Health plan in February 2023.

Biddle is currently on probation on the January 2021 and January 2022 charges, which includes a requirement to not violate the law. Bail information was unavailable.

*   *    *

Articles about arrests are based on reports from law enforcement agencies. The charges listed are taken from the arrest report and/or court records and are only accusations. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

#     #   #

Email editor@

Add a comment

NEWBERRY ‒ Richard Henry Kautz, 32, was arrested on Wednesday, May 10, and charged with five counts of possession of child pornography and five counts of transmission of child pornography.

On Jan. 23, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received tips about two Snapchat accounts with child exploitation material. Another tip was received about an Instagram account on March 3 with one of the same images and a third tip was received on March 23 about an Instagram account that also had the same image.

A subpoena for the owner of the IP address associated with the uploads produced an address in Newberry where Kautz lives. His photo reportedly matched the photos on the Instagram accounts. A search warrant was executed by Alachua County Sheriff’s deputies at that address on May 10 and the residents were interviewed.

Post Miranda, Kautz at first denied any knowledge of why the deputies might be at his address, but he later admitted that he is attracted to child sexual abuse material. He reportedly admitted owning the Snapchat and Instagram accounts and said the other residents of the house were not involved.

Bail was set at $2,500 for each one of the 10 counts that he was charged with for a total of $37,500. Bail was set by Judge Mark W. Moseley.

#     #     #

Email cwalker@

Add a comment

HIGH SPRINGS ‒ Walter Bickmeyer and Gracie were inseparable. For the past 13 years, people never saw one without the other. Bickmeyer had multiple health issues and Gracie always kept an eye on him whenever they went out, making sure he was okay and making sure everyone else was also aware of her concern for him and dedication to his wellbeing in case she needed help. That devotion and dedication went both ways as Walter always made sure Gracie was okay as well.

The duo was well known in High Springs, especially Gracie, who was friends with everyone, meeting new people every time they went out in public while watching Bickmeyer as well. Everyone at various restaurants and venues knew both of them, especially Gracie who became somewhat of a local celebrity. They traveled together as well, taking a seven-week trip across the country to California in 2021, along with multiple smaller trips, always together, sharing adventures.

Gracie was not Bickmeyer's spouse, significant other, or girlfriend. She was his dog, with a unique calm and friendly disposition that everyone who met her was attracted to.

“I got her as a puppy from the pound, but on the way home she pooped on my car seat and I questioned whether I made the right decision,” Bickmeyer chuckled. “But it never happened again, and she grew to be a calm, well-trained and intelligent dog that became my constant companion. We understood each other perfectly.”

But one of the unfortunate facts of life is that our pets never live as long as we do, and last week Gracie passed as she lay on Bickmeyer’s lap. Anyone who has pets knows this loss, but with Gracie it affected the community beyond just her owner.

The Pink Flamingo Restaurant in High Springs was a popular stop for Walter and Gracie. Upon learning of her death, the staff and management planned a tribute to Gracie.

“She brought a lot of joy to both the staff and the customers, greeting people at the tables, never intrusive, just quietly greeting each one. She was a very loved dog by our entire staff and customers, and I know it was the same at other places as well,” said Pink Flamingo employee Laura Jean Knight. “We decided we wanted to host a celebration of life for her in tribute. Walter and we decided we wanted it to be a fundraiser to give money to organizations helping animals in honor of Gracie. We picked the Alachua County Animal Resources and Care (ACARC),” Knight said.

On May 15, the Pink Flamingo sponsored the Celebration of Life for Gracie. There was no special events or speeches, just a gathering of people to remember a special dog and show support for Bickmeyer and his loss of a partner.

The Flamingo also encouraged people to bring their dogs as well and at least nine people did. Over the course of the afternoon, over 100 people stopped in to pay their respects and donate to the cause of helping other animals in Gracie's name. Over $300 was donated as well as animal food and toys to go the ACARC facility.

“For the pet supplies and toys, we have a large barrel, and it will stay here for donations until it is filled,” said Knight. “We also have a painting of Gracie that we are going to hang in the restaurant as a permanent tribute to her.”

Anyone who would like to pay tribute to a unique and dedicated dog by supporting the shelter and the animals there, can call the Alachua County Animal Resource and Care facility at 352-264-6870 to arrange a donation. It is suggested you mention Gracie's name, so they know it is in tribute to a dog helping her fellow pets that don’t have a loving human companion like she did.

#     #     #

Email rcarson@

Add a comment

The Newberry High School Baseball team heading to the Final 4.


NEWBERRY, Fla. - The Newberry High School Panthers Baseball team headed to the 2023 FHSAA State Baseball tournament in Fort Myers on Tuesday morning and received a spirited sendoff from fans. The team boasts a 16-8 season heading into final four tournament play. The Panthers will face off against the Chipley Tigers, 20-7 on Wednesday, May 17. If Newberry wins, they will next play on Thursday, May 18 at 4 p.m. in the Championship title game.

#     #     #

Email editor@

Add a comment

Nearly two years after a father killed his young sons, burned the family's vacation home and fatally shot himself, Florida's Legislature is nearing passage of a new law that would shield details of autopsies of children.  Sponsored in the House by Rep. Charles “Chuck” Clemons, R-Newberry, and Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, the effort in Tallahassee is on behalf of the boys' surviving mother, 44-year-old Minde O'Sullivan of Gainesville. She said she never wanted to learn details of her sons' murders that were described in media coverage in the case that drew public interest across Florida. The bills would also ban release of photographs, audio or video in all cases when a minor is killed by anyone, not just in domestic violence crimes. The Senate has already passed a version of the bill. The House is expected to vote on the bill Thursday.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Nearly two years after both her sons were killed by her estranged husband, a surviving mother is picking up the pieces of her life to move forward as untold storylines about the murders are just emerging.

Minde O'Sullivan, 44, of Gainesville said her new marriage to the University of Florida baseball coach, Kevin O’Sullivan, and a non-profit foundation she created in honor of her boys, Rex Reinhart, 14, and Brody Reinhart, 11, have given her a new purpose in life. 

Meanwhile, her sons’ legacy may be legislation – “The Rex and Brody Act” – that is so far sailing through the state Legislature. One bill passed the Senate 39-0 earlier this month, and the House is expected to vote Thursday on another, after it passed unanimously through three committee votes. Similar efforts failed in Tallahassee last year.

The bills would ban the public release of autopsy reports for minors killed by domestic violence – and also ban release of photographs, audio or video, such as police body camera recordings or in reports by child abuse investigators, in cases when a minor is killed, no matter the circumstances.

Minde O’Sullivan’s estranged husband, Paul Otto Reinhart, 46, fatally shot the couple’s sons in May 2021 at the family’s waterfront vacation home in western Florida then set the house on fire and killed himself. The family, which ran a lucrative medical device sales company, was prominent in the region’s social and political circles.

The boys’ autopsies, which were released publicly, revealed that their father had shot both sons before he shot himself and set the fire – even though Minde O’Sullivan had initially assured a 911 dispatcher that her husband did not own any guns during the frantic hours when authorities were still searching for her missing family. Sheriff’s investigators also believed Paul Reinhart didn’t have a gun, based on their review of recent firearms transactions. But detectives later found two 9mm Glock pistols in the burned home in Suwannee.

“I was unaware he bought one two weeks prior,” she said in a recent interview. “I had no idea that he was capable of doing anything like this, or else I never would have left my children with him.”

Court and investigative records showed that the murders happened after Reinhart learned about an extramarital affair, the two traded angry texts about her wishing her husband dead and he made moves to withhold the family’s millions of dollars from her.

“You changed your life insurance policies so I don’t get any f***ing money,” Minde O’Sullivan told Reinhart in a conversation that Reinhart apparently recorded, according to a sheriff’s office report. She later said during a deposition in a related court dispute with Reinhart’s family that she had been unaware of Reinhart’s efforts to change his $4 million in life insurance policies.

When the boys’ autopsies were made public under Florida’s public records law, in August 2021, investigators had not yet released any details about how the boys had died three months earlier. Most media coverage then focused on the disclosure that Reinhart had shot the boys, without graphic descriptions. A local television station went further, detailing in a brief news article published on its website how many times and where on their bodies each boy was shot. Photographs and videos taken during autopsies are already blocked from public view under existing Florida law.

Minde O’Sullivan made clear to lawmakers she did not want to learn details of her sons’ tragic deaths – in a case that generated public interest across Florida – because it would be too upsetting.

The proposed law would have kept details secret. A surviving parent or spouse who was not involved in their child’s death could review an autopsy report. The legislation said such reports contain “highly sensitive descriptions of the deceased” and “could result in trauma, sorrow, humiliation, or emotional injury to the immediate family and minor friends of the deceased, as well as injury to the memory of the deceased.”

The bills would also ban release of photographs, audio or video in all cases when a minor is killed by anyone, not just in domestic violence crimes. The ban would cover accidents, such as car or boat crashes or cases when a child falls off an amusement park ride. It would cover killings even by police or sheriff’s deputies and even if there were questions about whether they acted lawfully in such cases. It would also cover evidence of deaths of children in cases that may have been handled or mishandled by government regulators, such as Florida's Department of Children and Families. 

That provision – which was not in the version of the bill that failed last year – was added last month by the House Judiciary Committee, saying it worried that release of recordings of killings may encourage others.

The bills were sponsored by two Alachua County lawmakers: Rep. Charles “Chuck” Clemons, R-Newberry, and Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville.

Clemons said he supports Florida’s public records law, sometimes known as the Sunshine Law, because it shines a light on government programs and activities. “What I’m asking you to do today, with this bill, is to put into the shade the gory photographs, the descriptions, the videos, etc…of minors who have been murdered,” he told lawmakers on the judiciary committee last month. 

Minde O’Sullivan pleaded with lawmakers to draft a bill so no surviving parent has to undergo the same hurt ever again, Clemons said. This year, the Senate version passed on April 11, Minde O’Sullivan’s birthday. When the Senate voted, she broke into tears in the Capitol as her mother, Tammy Prince, put her arm around her to comfort her.

“This was just the biggest birthday gift that I could ever imagine,” Minde O’Sullivan said. “It was so emotional.”

Clemons said he looks forward to Gov. Ron DeSantis signing the law once it passes the full Legislature, as is expected on Thursday. He said it would have prevented young friends of Rex and Brody learning graphic details online about the deaths of the boys. DeSantis is widely expected to sign the measures into law.

“Think about the psychological impact and the hurt it has not only for those young boys but for the surviving parents, the grandparents, the friends, the close-knit community – it's all out there and it's out there forever,” Clemons said.

Under the bill, a judge who finds good cause could disclose autopsy reports in certain cases. The court would have to evaluate the intrusion into the family’s right to privacy and consider whether there is similar information available in other public records.

While Minde O’Sullivan attended legislative hearings in Tallahassee, she also founded and focused her efforts on the Rex & Brody Foundation. The charity honors her sons, who were avid baseball players, to support youth and school baseball teams. Brody regularly served as the unofficial batboy for the University of Florida baseball team. She married baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan on Sept. 24. The two were friends for years and began dating after the murders.

Some details about Reinhart’s actions – and interactions with Minde O’Sullivan – ahead of the murders have not been previously reported.

Eight days before the murders, Reinhart filed paperwork to change two life insurance policies to keep his wife from collecting money after his death. At the time, the couple was separated and intended to divorce. The policies were worth $2 million each and permitted full payouts even in a case of suicide.

The changes by Reinhart named his sons as primary beneficiaries and one of his brothers, Konrad Reinhart of Gainesville, a secondary beneficiary if the boys died. After the murders, Minde O’Sullivan settled a federal lawsuit with Konrad Reinhart last summer over the $4 million. Court records did not specify how the money was divided.

Separately, Paul Reinhart also updated his will 15 days before the murders to prevent his wife from receiving any assets after their 19 years of marriage. He named his brother, in place of his wife, the beneficiary of a retirement account worth more than $600,000.

Two days before the murders, Paul Reinhart began moving large sums of money from the family’s bank accounts: He transferred $299,000 from his business account to a personal account controlled by himself and Konrad Reinhart. He moved $100,000 out of Brody’s account and $100,000 from Rex’s and transferred it to the same account controlled by him and his brother, according to court records. 

The same day, Paul Reinhart used his phone to search: “selfish and having an affair” and “how to break someone psychologically, mentally and emotionally,” according to the final Dixie County Sheriff’s Office report. 

“The thing that is so upsetting is that it was planned out weeks before,” Minde O’Sullivan said in an interview. “It wasn't like he just snapped on a whim. He was still walking around with a smile on his face while he was planning all of this.”

The morning of the murders, Paul Reinhart emailed her a message that read, “You got your wish and you can keep the millions.” Attached to the email was an audio recording Reinhart made of the two arguing. 

In the recording, Paul Reinhart said, “Honestly wish I were dead.” Minde O’Sullivan responded: “Yes, I do. I do, but you know what sucks? Is you changed your life insurance policies so I don’t get any f***ing money,” according to the sheriff’s office report.

As part of their bitter family legal fights over the estate, Konrad Reinhart accused Minde O’Sullivan of a role in Paul Reinhart’s violence. The sides settled their probate fight in July, according to court records.

“Paul told me that she told him… to go kill yourself multiple times, and Paul said, ‘Are you serious?’” Konrad Reinhart said in a deposition. “And she said, ‘Yes,’ and then she got angry because the life insurance was changed into the boys’ name, and that’s all she was concerned about was the money.”

Minde O’Sullivan’s charity, which raised $82,222 last year, pays for baseball facility improvements and sponsors local teams to compete in national tournaments. Its next major fundraiser is Sept. 23 at UF’s football stadium. 

Minde O’Sullivan said the charity gives her a purpose, staying involved with youth baseball. She still attends high school games, she said, and stays in contact with her sons’ teammates.

“I wake up every single morning and think, ‘This is not real, this didn’t happen,’” she said. “But you have choices to make: You either get up and get going, or you choose to give up. And I've never chosen to give up.”

She added: "Staying involved in sports and baseball, which was their true passion, has helped a lot. It gives me a purpose. I knew I won't have my own ever again, but I have hundreds of other children and I'm going to continue to help."

#     #     #

Email editor@

Add a comment

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — This summer and fall, UF/IFAS Extension will host the Ag Entrepreneurship Series, a program designed to help aspiring and beginning farmers sow the seeds of success.

“Extension offices across the state often hear from residents who are interested in starting a small farm or related business. However, many of these folks don’t have an agricultural background and need help getting their idea off the ground,” said Tatiana Sanchez-Jones, commercial horticulture agent with UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County. “In response, a few years ago we created the Ag Entrepreneurship Series, and it’s still going strong,”

Sanchez co-leads the program with Kevin Athearn, regional specialized agent for rural agribusiness development.

“Even those with business experience can benefit greatly from the program,” Athearn said. “That’s because agricultural enterprises are quite a bit different from other types of businesses. Our program helps people factor in those important differences and be in a better position to get financing for their farm and make the most of that investment.”

The program is open to anyone in Florida. Registration for the 2023 Ag Entrepreneurship Series is available through UF/IFAS Extension Online Learning.

The award-winning Ag Entrepreneurship series first launched in 2018 and has since expanded to include three workshops. Each workshop starts with a two-week, online course that includes recorded presentations, case study videos, worksheets and a discussion forum where workshop members can ask questions of the workshop leaders and network with each other.

  • Starting a Farm (June 16-30): Introduces learners to the basics of starting a farm business and includes setting a vision and goals, assessing financial readiness, evaluating suitability and feasibility of the enterprise, and the ins and outs of business structures, registration and regulations.
  • Farm Business Planning (Aug. 10-24): Takes learners through the more technical aspects of developing a farm business and includes conducting market research and a SWOT analysis, developing a mission statement and plans for marketing, operations, human resources, finances and risk management.
  • Marketing for Your Small Farm (Oct. 13-27): Walks learners through business plan implementation and includes marketing and promotional strategies, avenues for selling to consumers, and technologies for taking orders and accepting payment online.

At the end of the two weeks, participants attend a two-hour presentation and Q & A session with industry experts, including representatives from program partners Farm Credit of Florida and the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement. Participants can attend these sessions in person or via Zoom.

People can sign up for one or more workshops in the series. Each workshop is $45, and participants who register for all three get a discounted rate of $100. Workshops are capped at 35 people, so early registration is recommended.

#     #     #

Email editor@

Add a comment

TALLAHASSEE – This morning, the Lauren’s Kids foundation kicked off a 42+ hour continuous advocacy walk at the Florida Capitol to honor the 42 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse living in the U.S. today. The “42 Hours” event will close out National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month by bringing advocates, survivors and state leaders together to walk inside the walls of the Florida Capitol while raising awareness and advocating for change.

“We are walking together over the next 42+ hours to honor survivors, advocate for change, and bring awareness to something we know unfortunately impacts 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys before they graduate high school,” said Senator Lauren Book, Founder and CEO of Lauren’s Kids. “Every 98 seconds, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted – which means that over the course of the next 42 hours, more than 1,500 people will be victimized. We will be shining a light for each one of those survivors to help amplify the messages of prevention, hope, and healing.”

Every 15 minutes, walkers will light a candle on a wall of the “42 Hours” display to symbolize the 10 survivors of sexual assault who were victimized during that time.

“The Florida Council Against Sexual Violence works to ensure victims and survivors have a voice in the Florida Capitol, and to ensure prevention and treatment programs are present in communities throughout the state,” says Jennifer Dritt, Executive Director of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, a “42 Miles” event partner. “Even if we do not realize it, statistically, each one of us knows someone who has experienced sexual violence – and each one of us likely knows a perpetrator, too. It is up to us all to educate ourselves and become a part of the solution.”

Armed with the knowledge that 95 percent of childhood sexual abuse is preventable through education and awareness, Lauren’s Kids offers familiesschools, and youth-serving organizations free tools and EMMY Award-winning video lessons to help teach personal safety from a place of fun and not fear. The Foundation has also created free resources for survivors, including the Guide to Hope & Healing, which helps families navigate the time following a child’s disclosure of sexual abuse.     

This will be Lauren’s Kids’ third year hosting the “42 Hours” event, an offshoot of the Foundation’s 1,500-mile “Walk in My Shoes” statewide awareness walk from Key West to Tallahassee, completed annually from 2010-2018. To learn more and watch the “42 Hours” event livestream, visit

#     #     #

Email editor@

Add a comment

OCALA, Fla. - A GoFundMe account has been set up for an 8-year-old Ocala girl to purchase challenge coins to give to first responders.  According to GoFundMe Regional Spokesperson Claudia Curiel,   Aubryn has a huge appreciation for first responders and everything that they do. She's been hosting first responders at her home on Christmas Eve for the past five years. She serves them hot chocolate/coffee, treats and pastries. She plays games, colors and has made ornaments with the first responders that have shown up.

The Marion County sheriff presented her with a challenge coin thanking her for going above and beyond in thanking those who serve her community. She ended up collecting coins from each agency that stopped by. In January, she asked her parents if she could give them something to carry as a reminder that they are loved and appreciated. They had a challenge coin made for her to hand out.

She has since been invited to the Department of Corrections meeting and was honored by them for showing her appreciation. Now she's been invited to participate in a state meeting to honor elite first responders and asked to hand out her coins there. She's also been asked to present her local SRO's (School Resource Officers) with coins.

Her mother has set up a GoFundMe account to help support Aubryn's efforts.  "We would love to take part in these events but we are lacking the funds to have more coins made," said Aubryn's mother.  "We would like to have 300 additional coins made for these events and possibly more to have on hand for her annual events."  Aubryn's mother says that donations will be used to purchase more coins, and if there are any additional funds they will be used for her first responder events and will directly benefit first responders such as firefighters, police, sherriff, Department of Corrections, nurses, doctors, EMTs and veterans.

To view the GoFundMe please visit:

#     #     #

Email editor@

Add a comment

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 21, 2023) – Southeastern Grocers Inc. (SEG), parent company and home of Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie grocery stores, is issuing a voluntary recall for 563 Deli Breaded Fish Sandwich products sold in Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie stores. The recall is due to the presence of undeclared allergens (milk and soy) in the products.

The Deli Breaded Fish Sandwich products did not include milk and soy ingredients on the label. The products were offered for sale as a hot item at the deli hot case and/or deli hot grab-n-go display in certain Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie stores in Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Louisiana with a shelf life of four (4) hours. The products were packaged in a food-safe paper bag as further depicted here:

No illnesses have been reported to date.

The product name and SLU code below is for all impacted stores:

Deli Breaded Fish Sandwich – 57052

Customers with milk or soy allergies should not consume the product and should either dispose of the product or return to any Harveys Supermarket or Winn-Dixie store for an exchange or full refund.

Customers with questions about the recalled products may contact the Southeastern Grocers Customer Call Center toll free at (844) 745-0463 Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST.

#     #     #

Email editor@

Add a comment

WASHINGTON -- FEMA has provided more than $1 billion for 380,000 Florida survivors of Hurricane Ian, as part of the $5.5 billion in federal support the Biden-Harris administration has provided to help families and communities in Florida jumpstart their recovery.

The FEMA Individual Assistance funds, which go directly to applicants, are for rent, basic home repair and other disaster-related expenses. In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved $1.68 billion in low-interest disaster loans and the National Flood Insurance Program has paid $2.29 billion in claims. FEMA’s Public Assistance program has obligated $552 million to the state to reimburse debris removal and emergency response costs.

In continuing support to Floridians, FEMA is undertaking an extensive housing effort that includes funds for rent, home repairs, hotel stays, apartment leases, travel trailers and manufactured housing units.

More than 70,000 Florida households have been approved for $647 million in financial assistance for rent or basic home repairs, and more than 4,500 households have stayed in hotels temporarily under FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance program. Additionally, FEMA is placing eligible applicants in 313 apartment homes, under its Direct Lease program, and is also working to lease apartments, repair them and place hurricane survivors in them under its Multi-Family Lease and Repair program.

In addition to financial assistance for housing, 366 families have moved into travel trailers, manufactured housing units and apartments in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Lee, Sarasota and Volusia counties. More temporary housing is being prepared for occupancy.

#     #     #

Email editor@

Add a comment

Today, we pause in reverence to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his unyielding courage in the face of adversity, his boundless love in the face of hate, and his servant leadership in the face of supremacy. This great American not only chartered a new course in the fight for civil rights, he also illustrated how we should boldly advocate for our causes while exhibiting grace and humility. 

 Our nation and the City of Gainesville are still grappling with many of the same issues Dr. King fought valiantly for more than 68 years ago. While we face serious matters – lack of affordable housing, poverty, racial and social inequities – I truly believe this community has the talent, heart, drive and resolve to find lasting solutions. Like Dr. King eloquently proclaimed in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1964, "I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits." I also believe we can pay our neighbors a living wage and provide desirable housing that is affordable for all. 
So, as we observe this holiday in honor of Dr. King, I implore you to commit with me to be stalwart in efforts to alleviate inequities in our community. Join me in protecting the unique charm of our beloved Hoggetowne, while building a city in which all its neighbors are able to thrive. Together, as One Gainesville, we can do this.
Harvey Ward
Mayor, City of Gainesville
Add a comment

As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, the Alachua County Labor Coalition typically avoids weighing in on electoral contests. And we never endorse political candidates. But a recent dark-money mailer attacking one of our dedicated activists who is running for office and two of our signature policies he worked on requires us to speak up.

Residents of Gainesville Commission District 2 recently opened their mailboxes to find a cowardly postcard attacking Commission candidate James Ingle. It was paid for by the so-called Responsible Leadership Committee, Inc.—a dark money PAC. Two of three false claims made in the mailing are that Ingle “worked to limit our private property rights” and “fought for more government control over our wages.” These are references to the Alachua County Renters’ Rights and Wage Theft ordinances, respectively.

The Renters’ Rights ordinance does not limit private property rights any more than do laws prohibiting retail shops on your neighborhood cul-de-sacs or rats in restaurants. The reality is that the ordinance offers three simple, commonsense protections for Alachua County’s tenants. First, it requires universal inspections of rental properties. This merely ensures that landlords are adhering to the rules and regulations of the building code that ALREADY EXIST. Without universal inspections, tenants are forced to choose between blowing the whistle on hazardous living conditions or risking retaliation from a minority of bad landlords. Second, it requires landlords to inform tenants of the rights they ALREADY HAVE. Why should landlords be afraid of their renters knowing the law? Third, it sets reasonable water and energy efficiency standards for rental properties. These are necessary to lower utility costs for renters, reduce greenhouse emissions that cause climate change, and protect our aquifer. Why landlords would want to deplete our aquifer, unnecessarily spew harmful emissions into the air, and subject their tenants to unaffordable utility bills is beyond our understanding. But the bottom line is this: the landlord-tenant relationship is a business relationship, not a relationship between a landholder and their serf, and it should be regulated as such.

Describing the Wage Theft ordinance as “government control over our wages” is possibly more bizarre. This ordinance merely provides an avenue for workers to ensure the contracts between them and their employers are enforced—an avenue much cheaper than seeking recourse in the courts. The ordinance does not limit how much an employer can pay their workers, which is what I presume the mailer attempts to falsely imply. What’s more, the program has been a smashing success! Since, 2014, the ordinance has allowed the Office of Equal Opportunity to win back over $100,000 of unpaid wages for 152 workers.

It should be clear by now that the folks over at the so-called Responsible Leadership Committee, Inc. are not trying to protect your freedoms. They are promoting serfdom!

Lastly, the mailer asserts that James Ingle’s leadership has “failed us.” While we cannot endorse James or any other candidate (and this letter is not an endorsement), readers should know this is as big of a lie as any other in the mailer. James Ingle has been a great leader in the Alachua County Labor Coalition, the AFL-CIO, and his own union—International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 1205. In fact, the basic protections afforded to tenants in Alachua County and the over $100,000 returned to workers would not be possible without him. We thank him for his leadership on these issues. Perhaps the best description for James is, in fact, responsible leader.

Bobby Mermer, Gainesville, Florida, PhD, ACLC Coordinator


Add a comment

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

Add a comment

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

Add a comment

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

Together, we can help #StopSuicide.

Peggy Portwine

Alachua, Florida

Add a comment

“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

#    #    #

Email editor@

Add a comment



Search Florida Public Notices



National News

ALACHUA COUNTY – The Alachua County Tax Collector’s office has been awarded the 2022 Governor’s Sterling Award for performance excellence in management and operations.

The Sterling award is presented annually to organizations and businesses that meet or exceed the Sterling/Baldrige National Criteria for Performance Excellence – a framework for achieving and sustaining organizational performance excellence and efficiency. The Tax Collector’s office is the only organization in the state of Florida receiving the prestigious award this year.

The award follows a rigorous assessment process based on criteria from seven categories:  leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement analysis, and knowledge management; workforce focus; operations; and results. 

The Sterling Council’s panel of judges consists of six judges that are nationally and internationally recognized experts on organizational performance excellence in the Sterling/Baldridge Management System.  Throughout the last four years, the Alachua County Tax Collector’s office boasts high performance ratings exceeding their comparative peer groups.

“We are an organization focused on continual improvement with the goal of mastering all aspects of organizational efficiency. This award shows the citizens of Alachua County our office is committed to excellence and is achieving great success,” said Alachua County Tax Collector John Power. “I respect and admire every member of our team and thank them for their dedication and hard work. Receiving this award from the Sterling Council is an honor for our team and the entire community.”

The Alachua County Tax Collector’s office acts as an agent for multiple local and state agencies, providing a wide range of services to the public.  Total collections are approximately $390 million annually in taxes and fees, which are distributed among 25 taxing authorities.  The Tax Collector also provides services for Motor Vehicle titles and registrations, Driver Licenses including road tests, Concealed Weapons licenses, and Birth Certificates.

#     #     #

Email editor@

Add a comment

TALLAHASSEE – With the 2022 Hurricane Season quickly approaching, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis is urging Floridians to use the 2022 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday to save money on hurricane supplies. Beginning this Saturday, consumers will be able to purchase much needed hurricane-preparation supplies tax-free. This 14-day tax holiday allows Floridians to prepare for hurricane season while saving money on disaster preparedness items such as flashlights under $40, batteries less than $50, tarps under $100, generators less than $1,000, and more.
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “The 2022 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday starts this weekend and now is the time to prepare for what is predicted to be a busy hurricane season. I am encouraging Floridians to take advantage of the special savings between May 28th – June 10th on emergency supplies, such as batteries, flashlights, generators, items for your pets, and so much more. There is nothing more important than having a disaster plan in place to protect you, your family, and your home. As we’ve seen before, hurricanes can intensify and develop fast so don’t wait until it’s too late. Prepare now to keep your family safe during storms while saving money in the process.”
More information and a full list of tax-free disaster preparedness items can be found here.
CFO Patronis’ disaster preparedness website, Prepare Florida, contains a host of resources to protect your home and help you insure, secure, and recover in the event of a storm. Visit for more information.

#     #     #

Email editor@

Add a comment

Tallahassee, Fla. – On May 19, 2022, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement (OALE) arrested Terrance Jamahl Allen of Wyoming, Michigan after approximately 1,900 pounds of cannabis was found in his vehicle following his failure to enter and submit for inspection at an Agricultural Interdiction Station off Interstate 10 in Suwannee County.

OALE officers stopped Terrance Jamahl Allen of Wyoming, Michigan, for failing to enter Agricultural Interdiction Station 6A and submit for inspection. Allen, driving a rented six-wheel U-Haul truck, was found to be transporting a large amount of cannabis (64 boxes for a total weight of 1907.8 lbs). Allen was booked into the Suwannee County Jail on the following charges with bond set at $1,037,000:  

  1. One count FS 893.135.1a Trafficking cannabis over 25 lbs.; Felony 
  2. One count FS 322.212 Possession of Fictitious Identification; Felony 
  3. One count FS 322.212.1a Possess or Display Fictitious Identification; Felony 
  4. One count FS 570.15 Failure to Stop for Agricultural Inspection; Misdemeanor  
  5. One count FS 843.02 Resisting Arrest Without Violence; Misdemeanor

#     #     #

Email editor@

Add a comment

TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today announced a settlement agreement with a commercial fishing captain. Darrell York of the commercial fishing vessel, Watch Out, agreed to pay $22,300 restitution for resource-related crimes dating back to 2015. 

“This case is a great example of our commitment to working with our state and federal partners in bringing those who show complete disregard for Florida’s natural resources and are actively evading officers to justice,” said Col. Roger Young, FWC Division of Law Enforcement.  

Officers with the FWC’s offshore patrol vessel program first encountered York in 2015 when he and his crew discarded their catch of illegal red snapper and grouper during a pursuit. Through multiple encounters and tips from the public, officers determined the captain had constructed a hidden compartment on the vessel. During a stop in January 2021, officers discovered 13 red snapper and one gag grouper in the hidden compartment. Case information was presented to special agents with NOAA and, in April 2022, York and prosecutors with NOAA reached a settlement agreement for a restitution payment of $22,300.

#     #     #

Email editor@

Add a comment