ALACHUA – According to Art Forgey at the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, these two horses were found wandering in High Springs and were called in to the High Springs Police Department on Friday, Aug. 21. Then they wandered away and the ACSO found them ans transported them to the Rural Service Livestock Impound area in LaCrosse where they wait to be claimed by their owners.


One is a sorrel colored gelding and the other is a black and white gelding. Call the Rural Services deputy with any questions or to report details baout these two horses. If unclaimed, they will be auctioned off. 352-955-1818


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NEWBERRY – In a move that Newberry City Manager Mike New says is, “By far the most aggressive business and customer friendly utility deposit requirement that I have observed,” the Newberry Commission unanimously voted to approve the return of more than $40,000 in utility deposits to Newberry residential and commercial utility customers.

Ordinance 04-15 was approved on June 22, making Newberry the only municipality in Alachua County to take a chance on both its residential and commercial utility customers by rewarding those with at least one year of perfect payment history a credit of their initial deposits in an upcoming billing cycle.

While several municipalities in Alachua County do offer waivers or refunds of residential deposits based on payment history and credit rating, all but Newberry now hold commercial utility deposits until a business closes an account.

Last year, Mike Layman, owner of The Gourmet Rodent in Newberry requested the city waive his utility deposit of more than $24,000 as he assumed ownership of the company from previous owners who already had a utilities account with Newberry. The city couldn’t transfer the account, so Layman was told he had to open a new one. The reptile breeding facility expanded over decades to more than 10,000 square feet and its utility bill had increased to an average of about $12,000 per month.

  Newberry’s policy for establishing a commercial account requires that a deposit of double the average monthly utility bill be held in a non-interest bearing account. Now, if Layman’s company has paid on time for twelve consecutive months, his initial deposit will be applied to his utility account during the hottest months of  summer when most utility bills are at their peak due to non-stop air conditioning.

“Our City Commission is very committed to developing the right economic climate in Newberry,” New said. “Industry experts would advise our City to go the other direction with utility deposits. Our City Commission understands the risks associated with this policy and decided this calculated risk was worthwhile. It is impressive legislation.”

New, who served as utilities director for the city of Alachua was hired as city manager of Newberry last year. He said he has worked in the utility business for more than 28 years. He spent 17 years with Gainesville Regional Utilities, 10 years with the City of Alachua and 1 year in Newberry.

Local businesses are glad to hear the news.

Chris Mack, owner of Pawn Pro located at 25040 W. Newberry Rd. cools and lights up 9,000 square feet of retail space each month, and his utility bill ranges from $900 to $1,300 a month.

“That’s awesome,” he said about the commission’s decision. “It’s a great idea. If I get it (the deposit) in the summertime, it’s a huge deal. It’s one of my biggest bills of the year, I certainly won’t argue with it.”

Mack, who moved his store three years ago from Alachua to Newberry, said he is impressed with the new ordinance.

He said when businesses are just starting out, it’s hard to come up with a large commercial utility deposit when you’re not open and generating revenue.

“Everything helps,” he said about the upcoming refund that the city expects to be credited to commercial and residential accounts in the next billing cycle.

Commissioner Jason McGehee owns a business in Newberry and said he and the commission know they are taking a risk, but they think the 1,800 residential utility customers and 200 commercial utility account holders will appreciate getting the money back, and it will, in turn, help the community.

“We said we were going to try to be more pro-business,” McGehee said. “The money was sitting in an account and, we know we are taking a risk by doing so, [refunding deposits], but I think it’s a calculated risk.

“We looked at the number of write offs we’ve had, and we thought it was in the best interest of our businesses and residents to give them their money back.

“If you’ve proven you can pay your bill for a year on time, then you deserve your money back.”

McGehee said the accounts will be monitored and they city can revert back if a customer starts missing payments.

The ordinance gives discretion to the city’s billing department to collect a deposit if a customer defaults on payments in the future.

There’s a lot of ordinances we have that we are slowly chipping away at and cleaning up,” he added.

“The next one we have, will be the sign ordinance.”

 Mayor Bill Conrad said the commission looked closely at default accounts before making a decision.

“Our write offs for utility deposits have been less than one percent,” Conrad said.

“We felt like we could return some of the money to the customers as a show of appreciation.”

“We can’t do anything with that money, so we’re going to go ahead and get that back to them.”


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 chief oath


SUZETTE COOK/Alachua County Today
Alachua's new Police Chief Chad D. Scott is sworn in on Monday, July 13. APD's former chief Joel DeCoursey, right, served as Scott's mentor.


ALACHUA -- When Alachua Police Department Chief Chad D. Scott finished his oath during the swearing in ceremony held on July 13 at Alachua City Hall, the room erupted in applause and K-9 barking. APD officers, Alachua County deputies and law enforcement from neighboring communities, including High Springs, were in attendance.

At Scott’s request, Alachua County Court Judge Susanne Wilson Bullard conducted the swearing in.

As Former APD Chief Joel DeCoursey Jr. stood by Scott’s side holding the Bible that Scott’s left hand rested on, Scott raised his right hand and pledged to “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the chief of police of the city of Alachua, Florida, so help me God.”

Scott then addressed the city staff and commission and provided his background in law enforcement.

“I started in law enforcement in 1990,” he began, and then he made a list of positions he has held in law enforcement.

According to the APD, “During his tenure at the Sheriff's Office, Chief Scott served in several capacities to include Patrol Deputy, School Resource Deputy, Detective, Special Operations, and SWAT. In 2008, Chief Scott began serving the citizens of Alachua as a reserve police officer. After a short time in the reserve program, Chief Scott was hired on as a full-time officer. He was assigned to the Patrol Division until his appointment to the Traffic Safety Unit.

“In March of 2010, Chief Scott was promoted to the rank of Detective and assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division where he investigated multiple high profile cases. In May of 2011, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and assigned to the Patrol Division as a supervisor. Chief Scott also supervised the Traffic Safety Unit until his promotion to the rank of Lieutenant in November of 2011. As a Lieutenant, Chief Scott was responsible for the oversight of Police Operations and Administration. In August of 2014, he assumed the position of Deputy Chief of Police and was responsible for the day to day operations of the Police Department.”

Scott said during his speech that he enjoyed his time working for the ACSO, but that God directed his path in another direction.

“What I thought was my worst day,” he said referring to his dismissal from his position after being accused of allegedly filling out timesheets incorrectly. He paused for a minute and took a deep breath before he continued, “Turned [out] to be my best day ever.”

The State’s Attorney was unable to substantiate the claims, and after Scott left the ACSO, he was hired by the city of Alachua.

Scott said he is grateful for the opportunity to continue to grow in his new position.

“Law enforcement was my passion ever since I was a teenager,” he said. He described himself as a kid who always talked with local law enforcement, and asked a lot of questions, learning about the career by listening to officers’ stories.

“My work ethic has always spoken for itself,” he said. “I just think the city of Alachua noticed my work ethic. They recognized it as an asset to the ‘Good Life Community.’ ”

Scott told the commission and staff that he knows what it takes to be a chief with passion.

“You have to be engaged in your community,” he said. “That consists of, at times, of being a big brother or a big sister, a mentor…a counselor, a dad or a mother, a teacher. Sometimes you have to be a minister or a deacon. And my most favorite is being a coach.”

Scott made a promise to Alachua.

“We are always going to be professional and treat people fair,” he said and added, “I want to humbly thank you for this opportunity.”

Scott recognized retired Police Chief Joel DeCoursey Jr.

“Now Chief Joel DeCoursey will always be chief,” Scott said. “But I’ll always be the new chief.”

DeCoursey Jr. then declared from the podium: “You have a new chief. God is truly blessing this community.”

People lined up to speak about Scott. They all had positive comments to make.

Burt Wetherington of Gainesville said he met Scott while attending Lake Forest Elementary School 25 years ago. “He’s always been a part of my family,” Wetherington said. “He is a great leader.”

Pastor Natron Curtis of Mount Zura Full Gospel Baptist Church in Newberry said, “Leadership, fairness, integrity. I look forward to working with him as a pastor also in this community. Congratulations sir, well done.” 

Gainesville City Commissioner Charles Goston said, “Chad is one of the last of the men who is truly a man. He has impeccable ethics and great morals.”

Former County Commissioner Rodney Long said he remembered talking with Scott after Scott lost his job with the ACSO. “This is a vindication to you for all that’s been done bad to you,” Long said.

Law enforcement advocate Bruce Borders said “Usually when you all see me, something’s going bad,” he joked. “If you wouldn’t have made this fine man chief,” he turned to look at Scott, “I would have been up here.”

Borders then congratulated the city for hiring local talent.

“You didn’t get somebody from up north or down south,” Borders said. “You all made a good decision.”

Then Scott’s family took turns congratulating him. “That’s my son,” Scott’s father said. His aunt was next to wish him well.

Then his sister congratulated her “baby brother” and said that she remembered combing Scott’s hair when he was a child. “God bless you,” she said.

His daughter thanked the city for giving her father a chance. “Always my hero,” she said as she turned to her father. “Make Alachua proud,” she added.

James Sheppard, assistant principal at Eastside High School in Gainesville said, “We’re not brothers by blood. But I love this man with all my heart.”

Tara Malone, Chief Scott's administrative assistant then addressed the commission and staff.

“He has been a leader for us. It really is a family here. A lot of people don’t have sight of that or lose touch of it,” she said. “I think we have someone who is going to help us hold onto it.”

Mayor Gib Coerper then thanked former Chief DeCoursey Jr. for his service and welcomed newly sworn Chief Chad Scott.

Commissioner Robert Wilford said he was in favor of Scott taking over. “I know you’ll do an outstanding job,” he said.

Vice-Mayor Ben Boukari Jr. thanked the city staff for finding the best candidate for the job and said he was grateful that Scott was promoted. “You can look within and find great leaders,” Boukari said.

Commissioner Shirley Green Brown gave her blessings.

City Manager Traci Cain said to Chief Scott, “I’ve always had the utmost confidence in your abilities and who you are as a person. And you have so much respect from everyone at the city…and especially the officers,” she said. “I found that out years ago, when you first started here.

“I have all the confidence in the world in you, and I’m so proud of you.”

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citizen of yearEach year, the Gainesville Sun with the Alachua County School Board, Partners for a Better Community, and the local Kiwanis join together to sponsor the Citizen of the Month program in our elementary schools.

Using the criteria of scholastic standing, attitude, conduct, and community service through clubs and extracurricular activities, a winner of the Citizen of the Month is chosen by their teachers and peers in each of the County's elementary schools. At the end of the year, each school chooses its Citizen of the Year from amongst the award winners of Citizen of the Month.

Sharing the pride and appreciation of his family, teachers, and peers, the City Commission on behalf of the City of Alachua wish to congratulate Alachua Elementary's Citizen of the Year, Jackson Bryan. Honoring his academic and civic achievements, the City presented young Mr. Bryan with a Certificate of Appreciation to recognize him as his award as Citizen of the Year at the July 13 City Commission meeting. He also received a laptop bag, complete with solar-battery charger, donated to the City by SunState Federal Credit Union through the Youth Advisory Council.

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jungleeee 7

SUZETTE COOK/Alachua County Today
The High Springs Playhouse 2015 Youth Production is directed by Kayli Figueron and stars local youth from High Springs, Alachua, Fort White and Gainesville. There are three more opportunities to see the play on August 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. and August 16 at 2 p.m. Call 386-454-3525 or visit for more info.

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publixSUZETTE COOK/Alachua County Today

Alachua Publix is expected to open in the fourth quarter of 2015.



ALACHUA – Publix is nearing the completion of its Alachua location and is ready to start the hiring process next week.


According to Dwaine Stevens, media and community relations manager for Publix, “There are approximately 80 jobs available ranging from part-time to full-time opportunities in various departments.”


Publix has been promoting a job fair by handing out fliers at locations throughout Alachua County.  The job fair is scheduled to be held at Santa Fe High School in Alachua at 16213 U.S. Highway 441 on Aug. 4-6 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


“We are asking anyone that has any experience in retail, as well as candidates seeking their first job, come to the job fair to find out about career opportunities with Publix,” said Stevens.


He estimated start date for training the new hires as the beginning of September.


“They will be training at other stores in the area,” he added so the staff will be prepared when the store officially opens. “The stores they will train at are still being confirmed.


Alachua Market Place, where Publix will serve as the anchor business, consists of an approximate 46,000 square foot Publix Supermarket, 9,100 square feet in adjacent retail stores and an outparcel with a 3,500 square foot fast-food restaurant.


This is the second time Publix has held its job fair at SFHS. “We have decided to use SFHS because having attended previous career fairs, there, we had an established relationship and wanted to continue that great partnership.”


SFHS Principal Dr. Beth LeClear is happy to host the job fair in the media center.


“They came and asked if they could have some space," she said. “I feel it's a benefit because many of our students would like to apply.”


Stevens said candidates are not required to apply online before the job fair. “It's not mandatory but an option,” he said.


Interested applicants can schedule an appointment by registering at and selecting Alachua. “Walk-ins are welcome but to avoid lines, you may register,” reads the flier.


“We are excited to be there,” added Stevens.


A grand opening date has not been officially announced, but according to Stevens, Publix is projecting for early in the fourth quarter.


“The City is pleased to have another major employer in the area to offer opportunities to our residents,” said city of Alachua Assistant City Manager Adam Boukari. “Economic development and job creation are a top priority of the city commission and the city administration and this is another example of the results produced.”


City of Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper said he is excited about store opening soon.


“I’ve been here for 41 years, and for 41 years, it’s been ‘when are we going to get Publix?’ and here we are, it’s 2015, and we are going to get a Publix,” he said.


Coerper said he thinks residents of Heritage Oaks which is located directly behind the marketplace have an advantage.


“Now they can walk to Publix,” he said.


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SUZETTE COOK/Alachua County Today

Florida Fish and Wildlife Hunting Areas Biologist Matthew Chopp measures the antlers of a deer during the Alachua Farm & Lumber fall hunting sale. 

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