SUZETTE COOK/Alachua County Today

Newberry Fire Rescue and Alachua County Sheriff's deputies responded to a two-car crash at the intersection of SR 26 and Main Street (SR 45) in Newberry on Aug. 22. According to Alachua County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer, Art Forgey, the accident happened at 4:10 p.m. "Vehicle number one was traveling was eastbound," Forgey said. "Prior to the intersection, the driver made a u-turn from the lane intended for straight travel. This abrupt action occurred in front of vehicle number 2, which attempted to avoid collision. The driver from vehicle number 1 was taken by Alachua County ambulance to the hospital. Two children in the car were not injured. The driver of vehicle number two who tried to swerve out of the way, was unharmed. But the vehicle suffered major damage. SR 26 was closed for about an hour while emergency personnel from Newberry Fire Rescue prepared the driver for transport and waited for an Alachua County ambulance to arrive.

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Photo by SUZETTE COOK/Alachua County Today
The Santa Fe High School Raiders football team got their first workout in on Aug. 25 since the completion of a state of the art 12 station workout room made possible by patrons. Nose guard Steven Williams, above, takes his turn.

 

BY SUZETTE COOK/Today Editor

 

ALACHUA – It is 8 a.m. and Building 25 at Santa Fe High School is about to fill up with the Raider Varsity Football Team.

Head Coach Bill Wiles has his list ready. Jog, Raider jacks, plank, side bridge, leg throw, bench bar, squat bar, shrug, iso neck with partner. 

This is the first full workout for the Raider team in the school’s new weight room that is about four times bigger than it was a few months ago. Walls are down and with the help of fundraising leader Faye Zuidema, local businesses and patrons stepped up to support the request for a better way for all Raiders to build strength.

“We had a vision,” said SFHS Athletic Director Michele Faulk. “It was going to cost about $52,000, and Faye Zuidema got a lot of community business leaders involved. In less than two months, we raised $62,000.”

On Aug. 21, patrons were invited to Building 25 to see what their donations turned into.

“You can do so many different things with this,” Faulk said and pointed to one of 12 universal workout stations that cost about $5,000 each.

Coach Wiles came in for a quick visit before kickoff and shook hands with platinum sponsors Greg Waitcus of Santa Fe Ford and Alan Hitchcock. He made his way around the room and greeted and thanked all of the patrons involved.

Faulk addressed the attendees, “We wanted you to see, this is what your money went for and our kids can’t stay out of here. This community amazes me beyond words. You are so giving in less than two months we raised this money.”

On the donor wall, plaques list the sponsors: Santa Fe Ford, The Hitchcock Family, Darrell Timberlake, Coach Warren Buck, O'steen Brothers, Inc., The Crane Foundation, High Springs Electric, Inc., Zac Zedlais, Bev's Burger Cafe', Rothseiden Family, Jack and Faye Zuidema, Cedar Lane Farms, Inc., Rembert Family Foundation, Inc., Hitchcock's Foodway, Santa Fe High School Advisory Council, Captial City Bank, Raoul Wallenberg, Reverend Hillery & Donna Bassriel, The Thomas Family:Clay, Kevin and Jackson, Renasant Bank, Custom Lighting, Inc., Bottita Family, Gussie M. W. Lee and Family, Main Street Pie Co., Mason J. Hancock, Alachua Farm & Lumber and Joel DeCoursey, Jr.

Former Raider athletes and coaches names are on the wall. Former SFHS Coach Warren Buck is standing next to one of his players who also donated to the project. Darrell Timberlake, class of 1989, broke the record in points in a game, Coach Buck says. Buck graduated from SFHS in 1964 came back to coach in 1974. “I coached for 30 years,” Buck said. “We’ve never had anything this nice before. I know they’ll utilize it use it real well.”

He pointed to Timberlake said, “He still holds the record 54 points in one game against Interlachen.”

Timberlake was a forward for the Raider basketball team, and he also helped support the expansion with a substantial donation.

“It’s fantastic,” Timberlake said about the facility. “We’ve been very blessed and very honored to help the school out.”

Principal Dr. Beth LeClear joked that the place “looks like a college locker room,” and added, “Our community knew that we needed something for our children, and look at what we got. It’s amazing. No other place than Santa Fe.”

Assistant Track Coach and Algebra Teacher Basil Wetherington said he is excited to get his athletes on the equipment.

 “These are half-rack multipurpose, so we can do all of the Olympic exercises, the traditional static, all the compound exercises, suspension training,” Wetherington said.

“You’re talking about complete 100 percent total body exercise, all confined in a small space that you can get 3 or 4 athletes at each rack. With 12 racks, that’s 48 to 50 athletes working out at once, plus excess space to do our other exercise.

Platinum sponsor Alan Hitchcock said he has always been a fan of the Raiders’ sports teams.

“It’s very exciting,” he said. “Because it’s really a state of the art, brand new, first class facility that I hope the kids will really be excited about building their bodies and making themselves into bigger stronger athletes.”

Hitchcock said he was a basketball player and that he continues to follow SFHS sports.

“I’m a big supporter of Coach Wiles,” he added. “And I hope this really helps him take us to the next level.”

Wiles knew exactly what to do with the new equipment as he took over the workout room on Aug. 25.

“Front plank hold for 30,” he shouted out directions. “On your front, 30, on your right, 30, on your left, 30. Make sure your body is straight.”

Then he introduced his athletes to the equipment. “Take those off, lay them on the floor,” he said about weights on the rack. “Put them on about two or three, there you go,” he instructed.

Clink clank clink clank, metal on metal sounds took over the room.

The players dug into the workout.

“It a good atmosphere, said Isaiah Cromarty, 16. “It makes me want to work out.”

Junior Tryston Dejesus agreed. “It’s really nice, way better than we used to have.

Senior Defensive Nose Guard Steven Williams said his exercise of choice is the bench press. “It looks good,” he said about the new facility and added what he plans to get out of it.

“A lot of strength, a lot of team building.”

At the end of the workout, the team gathered in the center of the room and built up to the same team cheer they execute before taking the field. “Raiders, Raiders, Raiders,” they yelled in unison.

They showed up for that first workout filtering in one by one, stopping at the sponsor wall and reading the names of the people and businesses that made the workout space a reality.

They left Building 25 in a group, as a team and headed to class with more energy than they arrived with.

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SUZETTE COOK/Alachua County Today
The Santa Fe High School Raiders football team got their first workout in on Aug. 25 since the completion of a state of the art 12 station workout room made possible by patrons. Nose guard Steven Williams, above, takes his turn.

 

ALACHUA – It is 8 a.m. and Building 25 at Santa Fe High School is about to fill up with the Raider Varsity Football Team.

Head Coach Bill Wiles has his list ready. Jog, Raider jacks, plank, side bridge, leg throw, bench bar, squat bar, shrug, iso neck with partner. 

This is the first full workout for the Raider team in the school’s new weight room that is about four times bigger than it was a few months ago. Walls are down and with the help of fundraising leader Faye Zuidema, local businesses and patrons stepped up to support the request for a better way for all Raiders to build strength.

“We had a vision,” said SFHS Athletic Director Michele Faulk. “It was going to cost about $52,000, and Faye Zuidema got a lot of community business leaders involved. In less than two months, we raised $62,000.”

On Aug. 21, patrons were invited to Building 25 to see what their donations turned into.

“You can do so many different things with this,” Faulk said and pointed to one of 12 universal workout stations that cost about $5,000 each.

Coach Wiles came in for a quick visit before kickoff and shook hands with platinum sponsors Greg Waitcus of Santa Fe Ford and Alan Hitchcock. He made his way around the room and greeted and thanked all of the patrons involved.

Faulk addressed the attendees, “We wanted you to see, this is what your money went for and our kids can’t stay out of here. This community amazes me beyond words. You are so giving in less than two months we raised this money.”

On the donor wall, plaques list the sponsors: Santa Fe Ford, The Hitchcock Family, Darrell Timberlake, Coach Warren Buck, O'steen Brothers, Inc., The Crane Foundation, High Springs Electric, Inc., Zac Zedlais, Bev's Burger Cafe', Rothseiden Family, Jack and Faye Zuidema, Cedar Lane Farms, Inc., Rembert Family Foundation, Inc., Hitchcock's Foodway, Santa Fe High School Advisory Council, Captial City Bank, Raoul Wallenberg, Reverend Hillery & Donna Bassriel, The Thomas Family:Clay, Kevin and Jackson, Renasant Bank, Custom Lighting, Inc., Bottita Family, Gussie M. W. Lee and Family, Main Street Pie Co., Mason J. Hancock, Alachua Farm & Lumber and Joel DeCoursey, Jr.

Former Raider athletes and coaches names are on the wall. Former SFHS Coach Warren Buck is standing next to one of his players who also donated to the project. Darrell Timberlake, class of 1989, broke the record in points in a game, Coach Buck says. Buck graduated from SFHS in 1964 came back to coach in 1974. “I coached for 30 years,” Buck said. “We’ve never had anything this nice before. I know they’ll utilize it use it real well.”

He pointed to Timberlake said, “He still holds the record 54 points in one game against Interlachen.”

Timberlake was a forward for the Raider basketball team, and he also helped support the expansion with a substantial donation.

“It’s fantastic,” Timberlake said about the facility. “We’ve been very blessed and very honored to help the school out.”

Principal Dr. Beth LeClear joked that the place “looks like a college locker room,” and added, “Our community knew that we needed something for our children, and look at what we got. It’s amazing. No other place than Santa Fe.”

Assistant Track Coach and Algebra Teacher Basil Wetherington said he is excited to get his athletes on the equipment.

 “These are half-rack multipurpose, so we can do all of the Olympic exercises, the traditional static, all the compound exercises, suspension training,” Wetherington said.

“You’re talking about complete 100 percent total body exercise, all confined in a small space that you can get 3 or 4 athletes at each rack. With 12 racks, that’s 48 to 50 athletes working out at once, plus excess space to do our other exercise.

Platinum sponsor Alan Hitchcock said he has always been a fan of the Raiders’ sports teams.

“It’s very exciting,” he said. “Because it’s really a state of the art, brand new, first class facility that I hope the kids will really be excited about building their bodies and making themselves into bigger stronger athletes.”

Hitchcock said he was a basketball player and that he continues to follow SFHS sports.

“I’m a big supporter of Coach Wiles,” he added. “And I hope this really helps him take us to the next level.”

Wiles knew exactly what to do with the new equipment as he took over the workout room on Aug. 25.

“Front plank hold for 30,” he shouted out directions. “On your front, 30, on your right, 30, on your left, 30. Make sure your body is straight.”

Then he introduced his athletes to the equipment. “Take those off, lay them on the floor,” he said about weights on the rack. “Put them on about two or three, there you go,” he instructed.

Clink clank clink clank, metal on metal sounds took over the room.

The players dug into the workout.

“It a good atmosphere, said Isaiah Cromarty, 16. “It makes me want to work out.”

Junior Tryston Dejesus agreed. “It’s really nice, way better than we used to have.

Senior Defensive Nose Guard Steven Williams said his exercise of choice is the bench press. “It looks good,” he said about the new facility and added what he plans to get out of it.

“A lot of strength, a lot of team building.”

At the end of the workout, the team gathered in the center of the room and built up to the same team cheer they execute before taking the field. “Raiders, Raiders, Raiders,” they yelled in unison.

They showed up for that first workout filtering in one by one, stopping at the sponsor wall and reading the names of the people and businesses that made the workout space a reality.

They left Building 25 in a group, as a team and headed to class with more energy than they arrived with.

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Photo courtesy KIM WORLEY/Special to Alachua County Today
Left to right, Florida League of Cities President and Hawthorne Mayor Matt Surrency, Diana Davis, E. Harris Drew Award Winner Waldo Mayor Louie Davis, Florida League of Cities First Vice-President and Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie.

 

BY CAROL WALKER

HAWTHORNE/WALDO – Alachua County stood out this year as two local mayors were honored at the Florida League of Cities 89th Annual Conference in Orlando.  Hawthorne Mayor Matt Surrency was sworn in as president of the Florida League of Cities, which acts as a united voice for Florida’s Municipal Governments. 

This year's conference, “Florida Cities – A Public Conversation,” drew a crowd of approximately 1,000 city officials from across Florida.  Participants gather to share ideas, attend educational workshops and sessions, discuss strategies for Florida's future, determine League policies and visit the Municipal Marketplace.

The League's goals are to serve the needs of Florida’s cities and promote local self-government.

Surrency became second vice-president of the Florida League of Cities in 2013 after campaigning throughout the state.  In 2014, he became first vice-president of the organization and this year will serve as president.

Each year a presidential initiative is proposed for the League.  “This year, we're organizing throughout the state and promoting cities to work together on regional issues to solve issues state and federal government agencies are usually responsible for solving,” said Surrency. 

A good example of that is the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact.  “A federal grant was available to deal with sea level rise.  Instead of three or four cities in southeast Florida competing for the grant funding, the cities worked together as a unit to compete for the grant for the city that would benefit the most from winning it.  Because of the joint effort, it threw a lot more weight behind one community fighting for the grant against the rest of the country,” he said. 

Surrency was elected as commissioner in Hawthorne in 2009, elected as vice-mayor in 2010 and has served as mayor since 2011.  When he is not serving the needs of the people, he is in sales at Florida Septic, a local concrete manufacturer in Hawthorne.  He and his wife met in high school and have three sons.

Waldo Mayor Louie Davis also was honored as he received the prestigious E. Harris Drew Award during the League conference.  The award, sponsored by the Florida League of Cities, recognizes and honors a local elected official who has made a lasting and worthwhile contribution to the citizens of Florida through their efforts and dedication in the performance of their duties on the local level, thus fulfilling the FLC’s motto, “Local Self-Government - Keystone of American Democracy.”

“This is pretty much a Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Ben Boukari, Alachua City Commissioner.  “It's a really great honor to win this award.  We are very proud that this year's recipient is from Alachua County,” he said

Each year an honoree is chosen from nominations received by the three-person selection committee appointed by the League's president.  Mayor Davis’s name will be added to the permanent plaque located at the FLC's office in Tallahassee.  Davis has served the City of Waldo for 33 years, 29 of which were as mayor. 

During that time, Waldo has seen many changes, some more positive than others.  “One of the best things we did was to get a branch of the Alachua County Library in Waldo,” said Davis.  Another issue he feels has improved service in Waldo is that the city “went with the county for fire/rescue services.  I think we are experiencing better service now.” 

Davis also sees the development of the recreation parks in the city as a wonderful change.  “The city established the Sid Martin Park in the 1980s.  We decided to name the park after Sid Martin since he helped us to get it,” he said.

Some of the less than desirable changes he's seen during his tenure include the closing of the train station in Waldo, closing of the police department and the closing of the school.  “We're hoping to get another school here at some point,” he said.

Davis became Waldo's mayor in 1985 and has remained in that position ever since with the exception of two years serving on the council.  He also has served as a member of the Volunteer Fire Department and acted as Fire Chief for a while.  “I grew up in Waldo and I have enjoyed serving the public for a lot of years,” said Davis.

He says he is thankful to his wife, Diana, and his family for their support throughout the years.  He proudly announced, “We will be married 50 years this December.”  Of his family, he just as proudly said, “We have two girls, six grand kids and two great grand boys.”

While also serving as mayor, Davis also worked for the University of Florida as Facilities Director for the Department of Zoology for 35 years.  Although he retired from that position seven years ago, he still can't seem to sit still.  Currently, he is working as purchasing agent and maintenance manager for Ray's Metal Works in Alachua.

“I am honored to receive this recognition from the Florida League of Cities. Throughout my career I have worked closely with the Florida League, as well as the Alachua County League of Cities and the Northeast Florida League of Cities to try and make Waldo a great place to live, work and play,” said Mayor Davis. “I am grateful for the help and support I’ve received along the way from Florida League staff, the Alachua and NE Florida League of Cities, the City of Waldo, my wife Diana and family. We’re all in this together and together we can accomplish great things.”

There is only one thing Davis would like to have changed about his lifetime of work and service.  “I wish I had kept a journal all these years so I could write a book about small town politics,” he quipped.  “That would have been a real barn burner.”

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By SUZETTE COOK/Today editor

ALACHUA – While the Cady Studios photographer from Lake City was lining up the Santa Fe High School Raiders Varsity Football team last week for yearbook portraits, SFHS Head Football Coach Bill Wiles was trying to get the message across to his players that the change in district competition for the 2015-2016 season is not something to underestimate.

In January, Wiles said the new map was drawn and announced.

“We'll be playing a difficult schedule, Wiles said. “What worries me, is that we changed districts. So our kids are perceiving it as we were in a district with Suwannee and North Marion, and now, no longer we are. Our kids’ perception is that it’s going to be easy.”

Preseason practice for Raiders started on Aug. 3. And the team is gearing up for its first game on Aug. 21.

This is Wiles’ fourth year coaching at SFHS.

“We should have a good football team,” he said, but added, “Nothing is given to you. We live in a society where people expect things for nothing.”

“Every year you have to rebuild your team,” Wiles said. “Last year’s team has nothing to do with this year’s team. Whatever they want to be. They’re either listening to us, and they’ll take coaching. This team is starting from scratch."

Then he listed the new lineup of top teams that the Raiders will meet up with on the line of scrimmage soon. “Bradford County, Keystone Heights, P.K. Yonge, Interlachen,” he said. “We open the season with Newberry.”

Then it will be on to Charlton County , Georgia “to play one of the best teams in the nation,” he said. “I don’t know if the kids are ready. We play a 7A school from Tallahassee and we’re a 4A team. We play a brutal schedule.”

Then coach sent over players to talk about the upcoming season.

Captain Caysaun Wakley, 17, is a linebacker, a senior, and has a goal of making to the NFL

“I feel like we’ve got a really good chance,” Wakley said, “I’m feeling confident. If we just come out and play our game, we can succeed and possibly get a state championship.”

Wakley said he has been taking in 5,000 calories a day to pick up an extra 20 pounds.

“Give it your all, it’s about how you’re going to show up and what you’re going to be remembered for,” he said.

Captain Tyler Hughey, also a linebacker and senior said, “We’re coming out of a pretty tough district. It’s going to be the same challenge. We’ve got to play every game like we’re playing against the best team in the state. We’ve got to be able to go out there and make plays.

“Our goal is to win a state championship. Intensity, leadership, encourage my teammates, lead by example,” the 17-year-old said about how he plans to make the best of his senior year at SFHS.

Senior running back Kenyatta Patterson said, “I’ve got heart and pride. I try to do the best for our team.” His advice for his teammates: “Give it everything you’ve got on that field.”

Senior Jamari Markham, 17, said he thinks the district changes “eased the competition.”

“It’s still good,” Markham said. “I’m going out with the same mentality as last year. We’re playing for each other, trying to go to state,”  the offensive tackled said. “I made the best out of my high school career.”

Jack-of-all-trades Walter Jenkins plays tight end, fullback  defensive end, linebacker and on special teams.

“Make sure you go full speed, the whole time,” is the mantra Jenkins plays by. “This is my last year,” the 17-year-old senior said. “Come out here and play fast, strong and got to be together. I’m not that vocal,” he said. “I lead by example.”

The athletes will be sharing the field with cheerleaders and the Raider Regiment Band.

“It’s mostly sophomores, cheerleader Kassidi Tillman said about the squad this year. “The team is rebuilding this season. We have a lot of new people, so we are teaching the basics and practicing a lot.”

Tillman said the cheer team looks forward to interacting with fans this year. “We try to get interactive,” she said. “Yell back at us when we have cheers, when we have signs, yell what they say. We want them talking back.”

Band Director Nate Bisco said the production this year is called “Time Flies” and it is his brain child. “We’re portraying the history of aviation,” he said. “Going back to DiVinci to hopefully Mission to Mars,” he added.

Songs to listen for include “Come Fly With Me,” “Leaving On A Jet Plane,” and Rocket Man.”

“Our color guard will be starting as mechanics,” Bisco said. “Half of them are going to then become flight attendants and pilots and the other half are going to then become astronauts in the last piece.”

“We’re very excited about this show, and it should be another great season of the Raider Regiment.”

According to Coach Wiles, the football team is in charge of its fate for the 2015-2016 season.

 “They got to care about each other, take coaching,” he said.

“In Florida, there are 500 and some football teams, and at the finish line, eight are going to cross it. Depends on how hard they work, how they live their life from day to day.There’s a lot of things that go into being a good football team.

“You got to be a good person first.”

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By C.M. WALKER

Today Reporter

HIGH SPRINGS – On May 7 of this year, the State of Florida Department of Legal Affairs (DLA) filed suit against former commissioner, Robert J. Barnas, in the Circuit Court of the Second Judicial Circuit, Leon County, Florida.  Barnas was served a summons notifying him of the suit and providing him with notice that he had twenty calendar days in which to respond in writing to the court. 

DLA filed the suit on behalf of Sharon L. Yeago, who had previously made a claim against Barnas in an effort to recover damages of nearly $47,000 in attorney's fees and expenses.  This was the cost Yeago and her lawyers incurred defending her against charges they felt were unsubstantiated, but were still brought against her by former commissioner Bob Barnas. 

Barnas originally filed his complaint against Yeago with the Florida Elections Commission (FEC) on April 1, 2013.  Noting that Yeago was acting as spokesperson for Concerned Citizens for a Better High Springs (a.k.a., Concerned Citizens), he filed it against her personally.  Barnas' complaint charged that the group was formed for the purpose of opposing a High Springs Charter amendment referendum and to support certain candidates running for commission seats in the Nov. 6, 2012 general election.  The charges were made despite the fact that the group clearly identified itself as a non-political group when it was formed.

Barnas further alleged that such activity had violated various provisions of Chapter 106, Florida Statutes, since Concerned Citizens did not register as a political committee or appoint a treasurer, a registered agent, file reports of financial expenditures, and did not keep records.

The FEC summarily dismissed Barnas' original complaint against Yeago as being “legally insufficient” and, in July 2013, Yeago filed a counter petition against Barnas to attempt to recover attorney's fees and costs challenging Barnas' tactics in filing his original complaint against her.  In Yeago's counter petition she argued that Barnas maliciously filed the complaint knowing that its allegations were false or that it was filed with reckless disregard for the truth. 

Lengthy hearings were held in Tallahassee to consider Yeago's petition to be reimbursed for attorney's fees and expenses for the legally insufficient case brought by Barnas against her.  Following those hearings, Administrative Law Judge Diane Cleavinger wrote a detailed 27-page Recommended Order (RO) in support of Yeago's claim against Barnas. 

After receiving the RO ruling in Yeago's favor last year, Barnas submitted 55 pages of exceptions and challenges.  FEC members reviewed all of Barnas' exceptions and objections in October and at yet another hearing in Tallahassee on Feb. 24, 2015.  Following this extensive review, the FEC in a 5-0 vote substantially upheld the RO and rejected the bulk of Barnas' exceptions.

As Barnas has not complied and paid the amount approved by the Administrative Law Judge and the Florida Elections Commission, the Department of Legal Affairs is authorized by Florida Statutes to take on the task of forcing compliance with the Administrative Law Judge's order, a process that will increase the amount owed with additional court costs and attorney fees.  Barnas has not yet filed an answer, but has asked the court to halt the action to enforce payment against him until his appeal of the FEC's order is over.  That effort to stay the DLA's case is still awaiting judicial action.  This case has been assigned to Judge George Reynolds in Tallahassee.

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BY SUZETTE COOK/Today Editor

ALACHUA – The Alachua City Commission agreed on Aug. 10 to replace Alachua County Sheriff Office deputies with Alachua Police Department officers in a unanimous vote to insure continued staffing of the School Resource Officer Program.

In a contract prepared as an agreement between the School Board of Alachua County and the city of Alachua, the SBAC agrees to pay the city $82,805.12 for the 2015-2016 school year. The funds will be used to place an SRO at Santa Fe High School, Mebane Middle School, Alachua Elementary School and Irby Elementary School.

APD Chief Chad Scott, a former resource officer, addressed the commission about creating three part-time positions to continue to serve local schools.

“I believe that with these additional positions to the police department, we will be able to implement a school resource program and still accommodate staffing needs and patrol functions,” Scott said.

“I feel this is a huge opportunity for the Alachua Police Department to continue to build a positive relationship with our community."

Scott said he served as an SRO at Lake Forest Elementary, Fort Clarke Middle School, Oakview Middle School and Newberry High School.

“I still hold close relationships with students,” he said.  “As the Chief of Police, I look forward to keeping the public schools in the city of Alachua safe.”

Santa Fe High School Principal Dr. Beth LeClear said she looks forward to working with the APD.

“I am very excited,” LeClear said. “Chief Scott and I have already met. His priority is the safety of the children of Alachua.  I am very happy to work with Chief Scott and his team. We have previously hired City of Alachua [officers] and they are always professional, positive and great role models for the students of Santa Fe.  I am looking forward to a great year.”

 According to the contract, the city of Alachua “reserves control in determining staffing levels for the SROP in each of the four schools.”

 Commissioner Gary Hardacre said he is happy to have that control in the city’s hands.

“I’m glad we’re taking this away from the sheriff. I think it’s in the best interest of our citizens that our police chief, with the help of the city manager, makes these decisions. That way, our citizens really have a voice. If we have a problem in our community, I feel a lot more confident it will be handled the way it should be [having] direct control over that.”

Vice Mayor Ben Boukari, Jr. said he has fond memories of the resources officers from schools he attended.

“I think this is actually fantastic,” he said. “When I was in elementary school, I remember 'officer friendly.'  I remember her talking to us about stop signs and how important they were. That sounds so small, but it’s huge to a little kid learning.”

Commissioner Robert Wilford said his sister was an educator for 30 years, and he believes in the SROP. “The idea of children seeing a police officer in a positive light,” Wilford said. “I am very exciting with us taking the lead and cutting out the middle man.

Commissioner Shirley Green Brown is a retired educator.

“Just to see the partnership between the school board and our city police department,” she said. “What a wonderful relationship you will have with the students in this community. Thank you to the city, thank you to the staff.”

Mayor Gib Coerper congratulated the city on “making this happen before the school year starts.”

“All of us have been involved with the school,” Coerper said. “I see what a difference it makes. You will also be the recipient of the third grade letters this year,” he reminded Chief Scott of the tradition of having elementary students write letters to the mayor and police chief each year.

SBAC Public Information Officer Jackie Johnson is also excited about the agreement.

“We're glad of the opportunity to strengthen our relationship with the city of Alachua and the Alachua Police Department through this contract,” she said.

“Having the city's own law enforcement officers working with the students, families and staff in their community will certainly be a benefit.”

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