HIGH SPRINGS – Residents may soon begin to notice improvements to the city’s playgrounds. New mulch and barriers have been delivered and are just about ready for installation, said City Manager Ed Booth.

The labor needed to install new items at city playgrounds, prepare the water plant for painting, pull weeds and provide general maintenance to the community are being provided by community service personnel.

While the city has a contract for mowing ball fields and city property twice a month, the city manager has had to find creative ways to improve the ball fields and get additional work accomplished to properly maintain city grounds and buildings, Booth said.

“The city just does not have the money in the budget to do everything that needs to be done to maintain our property in a safe condition,” he said.

Booth made an inspection of all of the city’s property when he first joined the staff in late 2012.

“Some of the items I found were scary,” he said. “I had to shut down one playground immediately due to potentially unsafe conditions.” The playground is now up to code, Booth said.

This year’s budget included funds for materials to improve the playgrounds, but not the manpower to do it.

“As I was formulating the budget, I started looking for alternative ways to get the work done,” Booth said. Community service personnel turned out to be the answer for free labor, he said.

The county court system was looking for jobs for those people who worked full-time, but still needed to complete community service hours. Using standby personnel from public works to supervise six to 12 community service workers on Sundays, the city has received the benefit of the extra labor, Booth said.

In another example of how the city is finding cheap or free ways to maintain its property, Booth said he came up with the idea to grow sod on the city’s spray field. As part of Booth’s earlier survey of city-owned property, he realized the city’s ball fields needed to have sod replaced.

Booth located a sod grower and made an arrangement to have sod grown on the spray field by his company in exchange for three acres of free sod for city recreation areas.

“It was a win-win situation for both of us,” he said. “We got the sod we needed, and they got free land and watering for their portion of the sod, which they could then sell.”

Growing sod on a spray field also removes some of the nitrates that build up and would eventually cause the city to have to locate another site, he said.

“Growing sod helps us to use our resources wisely and extend the life of our spray field a few more years,” Booth said. “Everybody benefits from this arrangement.”

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HIGH SPRINGS – Former High Springs attorney and Circuit Court judge, David A. Glant, died at his home in High Springs surrounded by friends and family on Wednesday, Oct. 23, following a lengthy illness.

A long-time resident of High Springs, Glant announced his early retirement from the bench on Thursday, June 13, at the age of 63. He said at that time he had been suffering from cancer and felt he had become physically unable to meet his own high expectations.

In 1989, Glant set up his law practice in High Springs. He lived in Ft. White for four years and then moved to High Springs in 1994, where he remained in private practice until he was elected as one of 13 judges to the Eighth Judicial Circuit of Florida in 2002.

During his third year at the University of Florida, he clerked for the Honorable Judge John A. H. Murphree.

“I traveled with him to the six counties he covered,” Glant said in June. “It really gave me a fire to want to do that job.”

He was practicing law in High Springs when the state legislature created a new seat in this district. He ran for it against a couple of other opponents and won the 2002 election. Glant continued to live in High Springs and was eventually also appointed as an administrative judge in the criminal division in 2009.

“I have had two satisfying careers and I did the best I could in both instances,” Glant said after retirement. “I don’t feel I need to accomplish anything else.”

Glant’s wife of 13 years, Casey, remembered how loved her husband was in the community.

“He was an extremely loving and kind person who was always considerate,” she said. “He was a real gentle man with impeccable integrity, which is why I believe he was so well loved and respected.”

Glant had a great sense of humor, Casey said. His writing had quick wit, but never at anybody else’s expense.

“I feel very honored and blessed to have had him as my husband for 13 years,” she said.

Ed Garvin, Glant’s close friend, fellow musician and the best man at his wedding remembers Glant as a person who had faced more tragedy in his life than most people, “but handled it always without bitterness.” David was the same person in tragedy as he was in triumph, he said.

“He was the kind of person you hope your children grow up to be,” Garvin said. “He treated all people with the same consideration and kindness, whether they were important officials or ordinary folks.”

Glant, Garvin and about eight more musicians would get together as a gospel group called WSU, “Whoever Shows Up,” about six or seven times a year and perform at different churches in the area. Glant was the leader and organizer, where he would play his guitar and sing.

Donations were always given back to the church hosting their performance, Casey said.

“We did it out of love,” she said.

Stacy A. Scott, public defender for the Eighth Judicial District, described him as a person of great faith. “He was very kind and had very strong moral beliefs,” she said.

“I enjoyed the time we were able to spend together outside of the courtroom, and I will miss him,” she said.

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W - PumpkinA child loads a pumpkin onto a wagon at the pumpkin patch in Alachua. Thirty percent of the profit from sales helps impoverished families.

ALACHUA - Dave Risi spent the better part of an afternoon walking through the pumpkin patch located right off U.S. Highway 441 in Alachua, just past Hitchcock's. With his wife, he watched his 13-month-old daughter go through the patch and admire the pumpkins.  

“She's having a good time,” he said. As much as she enjoyed the pumpkin patch, though, it has a purpose other than light-hearted fun.  

For several years, the First United Methodist Church of Alachua has organized the pumpkin patch, which features hayrides, games and a hay maze up until Halloween. It sells pumpkins and pumpkin-based treats to raise money to help rebuild homes in the Appalachian Mountains.

Some of the houses the church has helped rebuild in the past were without septic tanks or even floors, said Brett Bultemeier, whose wife is the youth director for the church.

“It's kind of shocking,” he said.

Bobbie Ellis went on one of the church trips to the Appalachians. When she went to deliver food to a family, she was upset by what she saw.

“They have nothing,” she said. “I have never seen somebody so poor.”

Seeing the conditions the family lived in caused her to cry, she said.

The pumpkins are grown by the Navajo people in New Mexico, Bultemeier said. The Navajo set the prices and take 70 percent of the profits, while the other 30 percent goes toward helping the less fortunate, said Anne Gay, a member of the church.

This is the 13th year for the pumpkin patch, but it still seems to be popular.

Over the span of an hour, Bultemeier said he had seen seven or eight whole families come to the patch, which is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. The busiest times are when school buses bring in children during the middle of the day, said one volunteer.

During a Monday evening a parent and her child loaded up pumpkins of all sizes onto a little wagon. The money from the pumpkins is desperately needed to help the less fortunate, Anne Gay said. There are many ways to help, and some are as simple as buying a pumpkin, she said.

"That's why we're here, to share with others," she said.

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ALACHUA COUNTY – Alachua County is going green and saving the taxpayers' money in the process.

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department's Hazardous Waste Collection program issued special recycling drums to food vendors at the Alachua County Fair, which occurred from Oct. 18 to Oct. 26.

The drums were used to collect vegetable oil waste, which can be used to create biodiesel fuel to power emergency generators and county vehicles.

The program also offers five different collection stations around the county for residents to drop off their vegetable oil waste.

Around 150 gallons of vegetable were collected during the fair, said John Mousa, environmental programs manager with the county's Environmental Protection Department. The program plans to continue expanding by collecting vegetable oil waste at other county-wide events, such as the upcoming City of Gainesville's Downtown Festival and Art Show on Nov. 16 and 17, and at the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire on Jan. 25, 26 and 31 to Feb. 2.

“This encourages residents and homeowners from not putting the waste down the sink, which causes sewage problems,” Mousa said.

The program, which started in 2010 with a student project making biodiesel at Oak Hall High School in Gainesville, was expanded when the county received federal and state grants to obtain the right equipment to upscale the process.

The recycled vegetable waste is converted into biodiesel through a machine, and then mixed with methanol, a catalyst and is then burned into petroleum diesel which is used to fuel the county trucks.

The burning of biodiesel is a renewable fuel and is cleaner, with less harmful emission, Mousa said. The petroleum diesel is just as effective as regular diesel, with half the price.

“This is a win-win in terms of what we are doing, its impacts, and what the costs are,” said Chris Bird, director of the Environmental Protection Department in Alachua County.

It is important to know the distinction between biodiesel fuel that is made from raw vegetable oil and waste, Bird said.

“If you use raw product, you take away a food source,” he said.

During irrigation, the production of vegetable oil uses a lot of water, and it is more efficient to produce biodiesel with the recycled waste.

Throughout the past two years, over 700 gallons of waste vegetable oil have been collected at community events by Alachua County for biodiesel production. Because people bring the discarded oil to the county, it doesn't have to spend money picking up or purchasing the main ingredient.

Many local residents in downtown Gainesville are also participating in the recycling, helping to create fuel for the county.

“One lesson learned through this process is to start small," Bird said. "If it is successful build on it, and then expand.”

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W - HSPD RescueHIGH SPRINGS – In a hurricane or other serious emergency, the High Springs Police Department (HSPD) is now able to reach stranded travelers, ride over flooded streets, remove or run over fallen trees and reach people in difficult to access locations, with the help of a donation from the United States Department of Defense (DOD).

The police department spent about $2,000 to pick up a nearly 22-ton, $600,000 armored vehicle from Camp Shelby, Miss.

The DOD has about 20,000 armored vehicles coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Their only use in this country would be for police departments and emergency situations, said High Springs Police Chief Steve Holley.

The vehicle, known as the BAE Caiman, is semi-aquatic and can travel in water almost four feet deep. It was built in 2008 for military use and has only 7,000 miles on it, Holley said. With a diesel engine and transmission similar to an RV, he expects it to last many years into the future.

Previously, the city has not had a four-wheel drive vehicle.

The BAE Caiman is equipped with an infrared headlight system, a Halon fire suppression system to stop the spread of flames, self-inflating tires, a 75-gallon gas tank and has ballistic protection.

The purpose of this vehicle is to provide emergency services in emergency situations. In a rescue situation, the BAE Caiman will hold 12 to 15 people, which is important when several people may be stranded during a storm, Holley said.

Though the vehicle was built for war, its purpose in High Springs is peaceful, he said.

“It will not be used during routine patrol and has no weapons," he said.

In the coming months, HSPD will be coordinating with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, which also received one of the vehicles, and the Gainesville Police Department, which is expecting to receive one soon, to obtain appropriate training at Camp Blanding.

“Although it is not difficult to drive, we want to be well-versed in all of the capabilities of the vehicle so it can be fully utilized during major emergencies,” Holley said.

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W - Good groundbreaking photoGovernor Rick Scott answers questions from the press after the ground-breaking ceremony. The new facility is expected to be operational in early 2015.

ALACHUA – Riding in a limousine, the governor pulled up to the site in Alachua that promises to add new jobs to the city.

Governor Rick Scott spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 23, for the biotech company Nanotherapeutics’ new research and manufacturing facility, which the company expects to bring 150 jobs to the city of Alachua.

“That’s a big deal anywhere in the state,” Governor Scott said.

The 165,000 square-foot facility, located at 13200 NW Nano Court, is being constructed with money secured by a contract between Nanotherapeutics and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)that was awarded earlier this year.

The contract charges Nanotherapeutics with developing countermeasures to protect against biological terrorism and epidemics, particularly for the military.

Nanotherapetuics got $135 million, and could get up to $358 million over a span of 10 years from the DoD.

In late September, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also committed to a contract with Nanotherapeutics to increase the national capacity to develop flu vaccines.

At the ceremony, Governor Scott presented James Dalton, CEO of Nanotherapeutics, with the Governor’s Business Ambassador Award.

The state of Florida’s economy has turned around since Scott took office, he said, with the help of companies such as Nanotherapeutics.  

“Florida is experiencing an incredible economic turnaround thanks to our job creators like Nanotherapeutics,” Governor Scott said.

The site of the new facility has historical significance for Alachua, said Mayor Gib Coerper.

It is where the Copeland Sausage plant used to be located. Copeland Sausage employed about 400 workers who lost their jobs when the plant closed down in 1978.

The groundbreaking ceremony is celebrated on the same site that taught Alachua a lesson about the importance of attracting diverse businesses, Coerper said.

Now, Alachua has a wide range of businesses in the bioscience fields, Coerper said, boasting the third highest concentration of bioscience companies in the state.

“We strive to make Alachua business-friendly,” he said. “Today is a great day for your company, and a proud day for the City of Alachua,” he told CEO Dalton.

Nanotherapeutics started in the Sid Martin Biotech Incubator, but quickly grew. It eyed several states as potential hosts for the new facility, including California, Michigan and North Carolina. In the end, it chose to remain in Alachua.

“We are grateful to Nanotherapeutics for wanting to stay,” said Mitch Glaeser, chairman of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.  

The Nanotherapeutics Advanced Development and Manufacturing Center should be operational by March 2015, said CEO James Dalton.

As the speeches finished up, Governor Scott, Mayor Coerper and Dalton thrust their shovels into the ground to complete the ceremony, marking the start of construction on the facility.

The plant will be a huge opportunity for Alachua, said Adam Boukari, assistant city manager, in an earlier interview.

“Nanotherapeutics is going to be a big part of Alachua’s future,” he said.

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ALACHUA – A major medical manufacturer is making a move to bring a more efficient office facility to Alachua.

NovaBone Products, a leading developer of orthopedic and dental biomaterials, has begun relocation into a 30,000 square-feet building in Alachua.

“This move will mainly be about building good communications within our operations,” said Rick Davis, director of quality assurance and regulatory affairs for NovaBone. “Furthermore, it will allow us to be speedy and nimble in manufacturing processes.”

The relocation provides significantly more manufacturing space to support the greater than 40 percent sales growth the company has experienced for each of the past four years, said Arthur Wotiz, CEO NovaBone Products.

Moreover, the relocation combines the company’s manufacturing with research and development operations under one roof, greatly improving the process of new product development and introduction, Davis said. The move to the new facility has started and will be completed by the end of the year.

The move to Alachua is something that has been in the works for several years now. The roots of the company have always been in Alachua, despite the headquarters being in Jacksonville, Davis said.

There is currently a 12,000 square-foot facility in Alachua already, Wotiz said. This improvement will be a huge step forward for the company making it possible to continue the growth they have always enjoyed in this area.

NovaBone Products was established in 2002 with a focus on developing bone graft substitutes based on advancements in biomedical engineering that would meet the specialized needs of orthopedic and dental surgeons.

The North Florida Regional Medical Center is just one of the agencies that will see a benefit from the relocation of resources, Wotiz said.

“In addition to meeting the needs of companies in this area, we will also see an impact in the way of jobs,” Wotiz said. “We currently employ around 25 people in Alachua, but that should increase with the larger facility.”

The move will also bring up to eight more scientists to Alachua, Davis said. The biggest impact this type of improvement creates is by joining the research and development aspect of operations with the marketing side of things, Davis said.

“This facility will be built for purpose,” Davis said. “It will give me access to more application and product knowledge now than ever before and that will go a long way to ensuring the quality of our products.”

There will be an open warehouse design that will accommodate the process used to create the bone graft material. “In our field, it is always better to change in a way that will meet the needs of a growing product, than it is to modify a product to accommodate existing desires of the company,” he said.

“In the end, I look forward to being capable of leveraging the expertise of the research and development department and their scientists, in order to understand the needs of our customer better,” he said.

Alachua will be the biggest facility now on a list of operations including Jacksonville, Shanghai and Bangalore. While the majority of the company’s operation will soon be run out of the Alachua building, the headquarters will remain in Jacksonville.

“The president and the financial offices will still be held in the Jacksonville site,” Davis said. “This is an improvement to the research our company can do and the efficiency with which it is done.”

“We have been in Alachua for some time now, so this is more of a consolidation of offices and an improvement of labs,” Wotiz said. “I am more than anything excited for the future and the pride I get from seeing NovaBone continue to grow.”

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