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ALACHUA COUNTY - The Alachua County Clerk's Office can help those needing information on their fines and fees and whether the fines need to be paid to restore their voting rights.

Those needing this information can find out more information and fill out a request online.

Requests are processed in the order that they are received, with most completed within three to five business days. This information is only available for Alachua County cases. Information about cases in other counties is available at that county's Clerk's Office.

For more information, contact the Alachua County Clerk of the Court's Office at 352-374-3636.

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GAINESVILLELiterary heir Rick Smith will bring his father’s novel “A Land Remembered” to life with a multimedia expedition through Florida’s past at three Alachua County Library District branches on Wednesday, Feb. 26 and Thursday, Feb. 27.

In this program, Rick Smith will introduce you to his father and the life experiences that prepared him to chronicle the world of Florida pioneers. His show incorporates photos, videos, paintings, and music to enliven Florida history while telling Patrick Smith’s story. Rick Smith’s program titled “Florida is A Land Remembered” will be held as follows:

  • 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26 at the Millhopper Branch, 3145 NW 43rd, Gainesville
  • 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26 at the Hawthorne Branch, 6640 SE 221st St, Hawthorne
  • 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27 at the Newberry Branch, 10 South Seaboard Drive, Newberry

Patrick Smith’s best-selling novel spans the modern state’s formative years from 1858 through 1968. The acclaimed book follows the MacIvey family’s struggle from poverty to wealth over three generations as the family grapples with Florida’s untamed landscape. Often called “Florida’s favorite book,” the novel remains Patrick Smith’s crowning work. He passed away in 2014.

This program for teens and adults is free and open to the public. Rick Smith will take questions following the presentation and sign books.

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HIGH SPRINGS — High Springs City Commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance on final reading to change language in the Land Development Code which would allow mobile food vendors to temporarily conduct business in allowable non-residential zoning districts.

There was a slight modification made from first to second reading of the ordinance to allow state permitted toilets to be used where flushable toilets may not be available.

Although time was allotted for a public hearing to allow for citizen comments, no one addressed the issue prior to the commission vote. The item has generated considerable controversy during previous meetings so the absence of input may have been unexpected.

One of the owners of the High Springs Brewing Company, a proponent of the change to the Land Development Code, addressed commissioners following their vote and thanked them for working together to resolve this issue.

Persons wishing to set up mobile food trucks must meet all other Land Development Code requirements and would be required to submit a site plan prior to setting up.

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HIGH SPRINGS – Sometimes what seems like a logical and responsible decision can go horribly wrong and have a profound effect on a person’s life. 

The evening of Jan. 25 began on a festive note as Jessica and Rickey Haslam went to a party at a friend’s house. They had some drinks and to get a ride home with someone else and pick up their car the next day. They hitched a ride with a friend of a friend who they did not know but was heading their direction.
They climbed into the backseat of her truck and headed out. The Haslams describe themselves as headed down CR 138 at up to 80 miles per hour, and they both repeatedly asked the driver to slow down. As the driver came into an S curve on the road, both the Haslams knew that this curve had been the site of multiple accidents.
The driver did not negotiate the curve and lost control, slamming head on to trees and flipping the vehicle on its side. Amazingly, despite the massive damage to the car, both front seat passengers escaped major injury due to the air bags. The Haslams were not so lucky. Without seat belts or airbags, they were slammed around the back seat.
Jessica was the worst. Her liver was bleeding; she had head injuries and at least four broken vertebrae in her neck and back. Rickey broke his right wrist and hand. Both were taken to intensive care where Jessica remained for several days with Rickey sleeping by her bedside.
Jessica had to be put in a full body brace unable to sit up and is expected to wear the brace for at least two months. Her husband will need major surgery on his right hand and will be unable to work as a mechanic. The Haslams are in their 30s with three children. Both parents will be unable to work for several months to support the family, and they face major medical bills. Jessica's parents, Andy and Terry Phelan, are helping as much as they can with the kids and meals, but monetary resources are limited with no prospects for either of the Haslams to work, and the immediate future looks grim.
High Springs is a small community with many people who are willing to help when their neighbors need support. As word spread of the accident and the dire situation, the community pitched in.
“Not only did people we knew help out, but strangers also stepped up to offer support,” Andy Phelan said. “I was amazed at the huge outpouring of support that materialized in the community.” Within a week, a bank account was set up at Ameris Bank in the Haslam’s name to raise funds. Mike Loveday, who works at the bank and runs the High Springs Music in the Park series, provided funding from both sources and other people came by to add donations.
A Go Fund Me Account was set up by Sharon Yeago, which has raised $1410 so far. Other people organized a meal train for volunteers to take hot meals to the family since neither parent is able to cook. Volunteers have offered to do house cleaning and yard upkeep while they recover. Currently enough people have offered meals that the family is covered for several weeks.
Both the Santa Fe Bar and Rum 138 also offered support and will be holding fund raising concerts with the musicians at both locations donating their performances for free to benefit the family.
For anyone who would like to offer support, monetary donations can be made at Ameris Bank in High Springs in the Haslam's name or on the Go Fund Me page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/jessica-phelan-and-rickey-haslam. Those interested in volunteering to cook for the family can go to Mealtrain.com and sign up under the Haslam's name. On Feb. 16, the Santa Fe Bar will host a fundraising event with a raffle, live auction, food, and music provided by In The Moment. The event will start at 2 p.m. A week later on Feb. 22, Rum 138 Canoe Outpost and Gallery will hold a second benefit concert starting at 7 p.m. featuring music by In The Moment and Quartermoon. This event will have a $10 entry fee with all proceeds going to the family.
The accident was a heavy blow to the Haslam family, but the community has shown its compassion by coming together to help a young family in need. “There have been so many people who have come forward and offered to help and it's great to see that no one has to face trying times like these alone,” said Andy Phelan. “We are so grateful to everyone for helping this young couple.”

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HIGH SPRINGS – Since 2013, the North Florida Presidents Council (NFPC) and the Military Vets Motorcycle Club has held the annual Poker Run motorcycle charity event. The ride is to raise money for Herry’s Kids Pediatric Services. 

Each year motorcycle riders gather at the Gainesville Harley Davidson store to begin the charity ride. All motorcycle riders are welcome, not just club members. Each rider brings a new toy and pays a $10 entry fee, or $20 without a toy. The ride begins at 10 a.m. There are five locations for participants to stop during the day, and at each spot they will be given a playing card. The final location is the High Springs Lions Club, which also helps sponsor the event.
Each rider will have collected five cards, and the highest poker hand wins a cash prize. The toys and money raised from this event go to Herry's Kids, a nonprofit pediatric hospice that serves 12 counties in Florida. Herry’s Kids Pediatric Services provides specialized services to children and teens with life-threatening illnesses and offers grief support and therapeutic camps to young people who have experienced a loss. Herry's is a program with the Hospice of Citrus and The Nature Coast, a nonprofit organization that offers free programs and compassionate end-of-life services for terminally ill children and teens as well as their families.
This year, the NFPC was not involved and the Military Vets MC club (MVMC) and the High Springs Lions Club took over all duties to keep the charity event alive. Although this led to a smaller turnout and less money raised, both these organizations felt it was important to keep the event going to raise the money to help the cause.
On Jan. 29, members of the Lions Club and the MVMC gathered at the The Diner in High Springs to present a check for $8,200 to representatives of the Hospice of Citrus and The Nature Coast. A popular restaurant, The Diner has hosted the check presentation for the past three years and is one of over 20 businesses that that helps sponsor the event by contributing funds or services to make the Poker Run successful.
In the past, the Diner has arranged for a band and beer bar outside on their patio for the event. The cold rainy weather this year took its toll on attendance, and the event was moved inside with a much smaller but dedicated crowd.
For both the MVMC and the High Springs Lions Club, service to others and helping those in need is an important part of their mission, and the Poker Run represents the positive qualities of humanity.
Although the poker run could be considered a good day for a long ride and celebrations, the riders participate for another reason. The annual Poker Run is their chance to make life a little better for critically ill children and bring them joy while letting them know there are others that care.

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NEWBERRY — Dennis Dingman of Summit Professional Services, Inc., addressed the Jan. 27 City of Newberry Commission meeting to provide a status report on a Community Development Block Housing Rehabilitation Grant (CDBG). Out of 22 applicants requesting assistance through this grant, Dingman said 10 properties qualified.

Of the qualified applicants, five properties were identified as homes that could be rehabilitated and five more were identified as homes that needed to be demolished.

Due to a $25,000 shortfall in the budget from the State, Dingman said he then began talking with State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) Program administrators to determine if the City might be able to apply to their program for $40,000 in SHIP matching funds.

Florida Housing administers the SHIP Program, which provides funds to local governments as an incentive to create partnerships that produce and preserve affordable homeownership and multifamily housing. The program was designed to serve very low, low and moderate income families.

Because SHIP is in the business of keeping people in housing, they are only able to consider funding for rehabilitation and not for demolition. According to Dingman, SHIP only allows $20,000 per home and only to those homeowners who have not received SHIP funding in the past.

The application for this SHIP funding cycle must be in by Jan. 30 and awards are given on March 2.

Dingman suggested that seven of the 10 properties could be accommodated with the funding from the CDBG grant funds and the other three may be accommodated if funding from SHIP is awarded to the City.

The two lowest bidders to conduct the work on the properties are Johnson’s from Newberry and Florida Homes from Alachua, said Dingman.

In response to questions concerning whether the bidders would be able to stick to their bids or would end up needing additional funding because of price increases, Dingman assured them that both bidders were aware of their commitment. He did mention that change orders might be necessary if something previously unknown is found during demolition or construction that needs to be addressed. Otherwise, he said he has not had any problems with contractors previously and has worked with several around the state.

Some homeowners have expressed concern about where they would go during construction, should leaving their homes be required. Dingman assured commissioners that provisions have been made for storage and temporary housing, should that be the case. He also said he talks with the homeowners regularly to make sure they know exactly what’s going on and when.

At this meeting, the Commission approved Dingman to proceed with the seven homeowners for which he has funding and to come back to the Commission for approval for the other three property owners, should funding become available for their projects.

Approval was conducted by roll call vote and Commissioners Tim Marden and Monty Farnsworth provided the dissenting votes on this issue.

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ALACHUA – City of Alachua elections for mayoral and city commission seats are held on the second Tuesday in April. This year, Election Day will be on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. In the event no candidate receives a majority of votes, there will be a runoff election held on Tuesday, May 5, 2020. 

In 2019, incumbent Robert Wilford retained his Seat 2 commission seat while Mayor Gib Coerpor won his re-election in a runoff. This year, Seat 3, currently held by Dayna Miller, will be up for election. She first came to the commission on an interim basis to replace Ben Boukari, Jr., who had resigned. Subsequently, Miller won the seat in the 2017 election, garnering a three-year term, which ends this year. 

The Commission also proclaimed Jan. 27, 2020 as Alachua Lions Club Day to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Alachua chapter of the Lions Club. The Lions Club is a not for profit service organization that raises funds for five global issues and also works in the community to help those in need. The local Alachua chapter has been involved in the community for over 80 years although they were officially recognized by the organization in 1940. In recognition of their service and the upcoming anniversary, Mayor Gib Coerper read the proclamation into the record.

The Commission also authorized the city manager, chief of police and city attorney to renew the Mutual Aid Agreement with the City of Gainesville Police Department (GPD). This agreement allows each organization to provide support to the other when needed. The existing agreement between the two cities expired June 18, 2019. GPD provided Alachua with a new agreement, which the City accepted. The new agreement will continue through Jan. 2, 2023.
City staff also requested the Commission to allow updates the City of Alachua Comprehensive Plan for the Period 2019-2035. Proposed amendments to the plan include revisions to certain goals, policies and definitions. These changes would be for administration, Future Land Use, Housing, Community Facilities and Natural Groundwater Aquifer Recharge Conservation and Open Space, Recreation, Intergovernmental Coordination, Capital Improvements and Public School Facilities. These changes comply with changes in Florida Statutes since the last Evaluation and Appraisal Report-based amendments were adopted in 2013. The Commission authorized city staff to transmit the proposed Comprehensive Plan Text Amendments to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and reviewing agencies under the State Coordinated Review Process.

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