Staff report/Alachua Chronical

GAINESVILLE – Jose A. Coronel, 45, was arrested late Thursday night, Aug. 31, 2023, and charged with six drug-related felonies, two drug-related misdemeanors, money laundering, and using a two-way communications device to facilitate a felony after a man died of an overdose after allegedly purchasing drugs from Coronel.

Alachua County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a medical emergency at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night; the patient died, and deputies found evidence of drug use. The death is being investigated as a potential overdose. The victim’s parents reportedly gave consent to search his phone, where deputies found messages between the victim and Coronel from two days before his death about buying “a pack.” Previous messages between the two reportedly discussed weights, quality, and prices.

Deputies matched the phone number to Coronel and used the victim’s phone to arrange a narcotics deal. When Coronel came outside to meet them, he was taken into custody. A search incident to arrest reportedly produced a small bag with residue that tested positive for methamphetamine.

A search warrant was issued and reportedly produced 18.8 grams of marijuana, 29.2 grams of methamphetamine, 8 alprazolam pills, 8 amphetamine pills, $1,600 in cash, a scale, baggies, glass pipes, and straws.

Coronel’s home is located 880 feet from Metcalfe Elementary School.

Coronel has been charged with trafficking in methamphetamine, possession and possession with intent to sell of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school, money laundering, maintaining a drug dwelling, possession of amphetamines with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of a school, possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, unlawful use of a two-way communications device, and possession of alprazolam with intent to sell. Additional charges may be added later.

Coronel has traffic citations in Alachua County going back to 2006 but no local criminal history.

#     #     #

Email editor@

Add a comment

HIGH SPRINGS ‒ The High Springs Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) met on Aug. 24 to address an update of the CRA’s Façade Grant Program and consider hiring a lobbying group to work with the City.

City Manager Ashley Stathatos discussed the new application for the Façade Grant program and requested an increase in the amount of matching grant funds from $5,000 to up to $10,000.

Stathatos said staff believed that the increase in construction costs and materials over the past couple of years merits an increase in the funding amount to allow property owners to consider larger projects. She reviewed the eligibility requirements and the reimbursement process in her presentation and also suggested that the CRA announce a “call for projects” initiative in October to stimulate project consideration.

Following discussion, Board members voted unanimously to approve the new façade grant package, the increase from $5,000 to up to $10,000 in matching funds and to conduct a call for projects initiative in October.

Board members also approved a request to act on Sun Rise Consulting Groups agreements for the purpose of using them to help the City locate funding for a new police station building. Stathatos said that Sun Rise has helped the City identify legislation that would impact smaller towns like High Springs. She suggested that their company would be looking at appropriation opportunities to fund the police station.

The cost for their services would be approximately $2,800 per month. Board member Ross Ambrose asked that the County be consulted to determine definitively if the City can use CRA funds for this purpose.

In other discussions, High Springs Public Works Director Thomas Henry said that the lighting in the downtown area will soon be brighter as his department will be replacing the current bulbs with 150-watt bulbs. Another option was considered, but the cost would be prohibitive. This alternative would improve lighting at night and cost the City less.

Also discussed was the removal of trees in the downtown area between Railroad Avenue and old First Street. The existing trees have increased in size to the point where the roots are undermining sidewalks. The sidewalks in that area are the responsibility of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and they come by periodically to regrind the sidewalks to level them after tree roots have raised sections making the sidewalks dangerous for pedestrians. “The Florida Department of Transportation has been consulted and they have approved the removal of those trees,” said Assistant City Manager Bruce Gillingham.

Henry also explained that FDOT will be redoing the sidewalks and roadways in 2026 and would have to remove the trees anyway to complete their project. Planters will be installed in that area as part of the revitalization of the downtown area. Gillingham said the planters have already been planted.

Although the Board could have voted at this meeting to remove the trees, they opted to put the issue on their next CRA agenda. Gillingham and Henry said they would provide photos of how the planters will look in the downtown area at the next meeting.

#     #     #

Email cwalker@

Add a comment

GAINESVILLE ‒ Nearly three in 100 residential properties in the northwest Gainesville zip codes 32605 and 32653 are at risk of entering the costly and lengthy probate legal process. To help combat these issues the Alachua County Property Appraiser’s Office will be hosting its fourth Probate and Estate Planning Summit on Sept. 14, 2023, at 6 p.m. This will take place at the Eldercare of Alachua County Senior Center located at 5701 N.W. 34th Blvd., Gainesville, FL 32653.

This ongoing collaborative initiative serves as an opportunity to be more accessible to residents who may be impacted by these issues. This interactive panel discussion features representatives from the Alachua County Clerk of Court, the Alachua County Tax Collector, the University of Florida Levin College of Law, and Three Rivers Legal Services Inc. Each panelist will discuss how their respective offices are directly impacted by the extensive probate process, provide insights on preventative measures to help avoid these issues, and answer any questions the audience may have about these processes.

“With this being the fourth summit, we have had the opportunity to travel the county with this information and provide insights on resources,” Property Appraiser, Ayesha Solomon said. “Now we are back in Gainesville, which is a major hot spot area for these issues and hope to assist as many residents as possible.”

Iechia Houston, a city of Gainesville resident, began the probate process in July 2022 for a family home located on the southeast side of town. Although it has been over a year since Houston initially started this lengthy process, it is still not complete.

“The most challenging part of this process is not knowing the outcome,” Houston said. “You need to have a plan for when that final day comes so your family doesn’t have to fight to try and keep your property.”

The Alachua County Property Appraiser’s Office formulated this initiative through a dual data-driven approach that identified all the parcels that are classified as heirs’ property throughout the county as well as parcels with only one remaining owner listed on the property suggesting a lack of proper estate planning.

After successfully analyzing the data sets, heat maps were created to showcase the “hot spot” areas in the county that are affected the most by these issues. This event is free and will be open to the general public. In addition, this event will be recorded and is subject to later use

#     #     #

Email editor@

Add a comment

ALACHUA ‒ With approaching Hurricane Idalia expected in less than 24 hours, the Aug. 28 City of Alachua Commission meeting was shorter than usual and sparsely attended.

The City Commission on second reading approved increasing rates for water, wastewater and reclaimed water to generate revenue sufficient to meet operating expenses. Proposed new rates will meet the expenses for providing utility services to Alachua residents and to compensate for inflation and higher costs. The new rates will also cover water meter installation charges, as well as water and wastewater facility charges.

The Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) annually publishes a Water and Wastewater Price Index. The latest FPSC approved price index is 7.07 percent for water and wastewater. The City’s proposed rate increases are 7 percent for water rates and 5 percent for wastewater and reclaimed water. The proposed rate also includes a 7 percent increase for water meter installation charges and the associated capital facility charges for water and wastewater. The City’s rates were last modified in 2022.

The Commission also approved establishing a fee to cover administrative costs for lien requests that are fulfilled by the City. City staff routinely receives requests for lien searches on properties located in the City regarding open code enforcement cases and liens against real property, open and expired building permits, and requesting a listing of utilities provided by the City to real property. The fees have been set at $75 for a regular lien search of 7-10 business days and $150 for a rush lien search of 3-5 business days.

In other business, even an approaching hurricane didn’t keep some students of the Bhaktivedanta Academy from being honored with a special presentation from the City Commission. The attending students who had their artwork featured on display in the foyer of City Hall received certificates from Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper and Bhaktivedanta Academy teacher Ms. Danka. The students also had their pictures taken with the City Commission.

In other business, the Commission on first reading approved an amendment to the City of Alachua Land Development Regulations (LDRs). The proposed amendment revises use specific separation requirements for certain businesses that fall under the category of Warehouse and Freight Movement and those uses can only occur in business districts within the City. These include parcel services, truck or freight terminals and warehouse distribution or storage.

The current LDRs require a minimum separation of 250 feet from schools, day care centers, residential uses, or vacant land in residential zone districts. The proposed amendment allows for a reduction in separation distance that could be permitted when an intervening arterial or collector street exists between the proposed warehouse and freight movement use and the school, daycare center, residential use, or vacant land in a residential zoning district.

The revision reduces the minimum separation to 100 feet and to 50 feet when an enhanced landscape buffer is provided, but not closer than 150 feet from the nearest exterior wall of an existing residential dwelling.

#     #     #

Email rcarson@

Add a comment

ALACHUA COUNTY - The Alachua County Commission will conduct its Regular Meeting on Tuesday, September 12, 2023, in the Jack Durrance Auditorium on the second floor of the Alachua County Administration Building (12 S.E. 1st Street, Gainesville). The meeting begins at 11:30 a.m. The evening meeting begins at 5 p.m.
Meetings can be viewed on Cox Channel 12, the AC TV app (Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku), or the County’s Video on Demand website
During the Regular Meeting, the public can make comments at the meeting in person or call in during the 12 p.m. (noon) comment period. Callers will have three minutes to comment on anything not on the agenda and three minutes to discuss anything on the agenda. Callers can choose either or both. Those commenting on items on the agenda will not be allowed to comment again on agenda items if attending the meeting in person later in the day. The call-in number is 1-929-205-6099. When prompted, enter meeting ID 873 5974 1977. Callers can hear the meeting while on hold and can use the system to listen. If you wish to comment, Raise Your Hand by dialing *9 (star nine). Once you are called on by the last four digits of your phone number, unmute your phone by dialing *6 (star six).
Daytime items of interest:
  • Approval of a Proclamation declaring September 2023, as “Suicide Prevention Month”, in Alachua County, Florida
  • Affordable Housing Advisory Committee Resolution
  • Victim Services and Rape Crisis Center Advisory Council presentation
  • Rural Concerns Advisory Committee appointments
  • World Masters update
  • Stormwater update
  • Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) Housing Stability Services
  • Public Hearing to consider an ordinance to repeal Residential Rental Unit Permit Program
Evening items of interest:
  • Adopt Fiscal Year (FY24) Proposed Millage Rates and Tentative Budget Public Hearing
  • Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Sugarfoot Oaks Cedar Ridge Final Non-Ad Valorem Assessment Rates Adoption Hearing
  • Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Fire Services Non-Ad Valorem Assessment Final Rate Resolution
  • Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Stormwater Non-Ad-Valorem Assessment Final Rate Resolution Adoption Hearing
  • Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Solid Waste Non-Ad Valorem Assessment Final Rate Resolution

#     #     #

Email editor@

Add a comment

NEWBERRY ‒ The City of Newberry Board of Adjustment (BOA) on Aug. 14 approved three site and development plans. The BOA is made up of the same members as the Newberry City Commission.

The Board first considered two items regarding property located in the Avalon Woods Mixed Use zoning district.

The applications for both Avalon Woods-related requests were submitted by JB Pro, agent, on behalf of S&T Newberry Holdings, owner. Avalon Woods is located east of U.S. 41/State Road 45 and north of Northwest 9th Place.

One site plan application was for a 4,500-square-foot warehouse and outdoor storage yard for Shore Builders on 1 +/- acre of land within that zoning district. This property will be used as the builders’ office and warehouse. A question about connectivity resulted in a comment by the developer stating that there will be direct access between the residential and commercial properties and property owners will not have to go to SR 45 in order to access commercial properties on this site. This item was approved in a 3-1 vote with Board Member Monty Farnsworth casting the dissenting vote.

The second item was for Town Center Self-Storage to allow construction of a 49,500-square-foot self-storage facility on 3 +/- acres of land. The project will include a total of 10 buildings of varying dimensions.

Development of this property will be phased in with the utilities and infrastructure installed for the first four buildings in the front of the project. The second phase will include the remaining utilities as the other buildings are constructed.

“Because the second phase is a condition of approval for this item, the developer must apply for a building permit within five years for Phase 2 (by Aug. 14, 2028),” said City of Newberry Senior Planner Uma Sarmistha.

This item was approved in a 3-1 vote with Board Member Monty Farnsworth casting the dissenting vote.

Both items were heard by the Planning and Zoning Board on July 17 and were unanimously recommended to the BOA for approval at that time.

The third site and development plan request was for a 5,000-square-foot industrial building and related site improvements on a 1.28 +/- acre site (Lot 4) within the Newberry Commercial Park. The application was made by eda consultants, inc., agent, on behalf of Jorge Villalobos and Susan Ulloa, owners. The petition is for The Best Restoration, a home and business restoration company.

The site is located at the northeast corner of Northwest 8th Lane and Northwest 235th Terrace within the Newberry Commercial Park.

This item was also heard by the Planning and Zoning Board on July 17 and recommended for approval with the inclusion of a voluntary condition offered by the agent. The condition was to improve the terminus of Northwest 253rd Terrace within the Newberry Commercial Park, including, but not limited to, parking stalls within the public right-of-way and additional landscaping to provide additional buffering between the commercial park and the northern residential neighborhood of Newberry Corners.

“The developer has agreed to the conditions and has planned a heavy vegetative buffer along the northern portion of the site,” said City of Newberry Principal Planner Jean-Paul Perez.

The request was unanimously approved by the Board of Adjustment.

#     #     #

Email cwalker@

Add a comment

GAINESVILLE, FL -- The Gainesville Fine Arts Association (GFAA) is celebrating its 100th year anniversary this year. GFAA will be celebrating this milestone with two big events this month. 

The first celebration is their 100 Year Anniversary Party on Saturday, Sept. 23rd from 6 to 9 p.m. at the newly restored 1908 Grand located at 215 N. Main Street, Gainesville where “history meets modern elegance.” This historic building was built in 1908 as the Gainesville Masonic Lodge No. 41, whose members were instrumental in the building of several historic downtown Gainesville structures, including the Gainesville courthouse and the University Auditorium.

 This is a ticketed fundraiser event. Tickets are $50 per person and include dinner provided by Blue Gill (with vegetarian options) and a drink, as well as a cash bar.  In addition, the event will feature an artwork raffle, and dancing to music provided by the Gainesville String Quartet and DJ Elio.

Tickets must be purchased by Sept. 16 at

The second is the reception for GFAA’s History Exhibition: 100 Years of Art being held on Sept. 29 from 7 to 10 p.m. during Gainesville’s Artwalk. The reception will include live music and refreshments. The exhibition tells the story of the organization and includes original art from members through the past 100 years, including old newspaper articles and works by one of the founders, Emmaline Buchholz on loan from the Matheson Museum. The 100 Years of Art exhibit will be on display free and open to the public at GFAA Gallery from September 29th to November 18th, 2023.

These events are funded in part by Visit Gainesville, Alachua County, in part by the by the State of Florida through the Division of Arts and Culture and the National Endowment of the Arts and in part by a grant from the City of Gainesville, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department.

The history and impact of Gainesville Fine Arts Association

GFAA was formed in 1923 by three close friends, Mrs. F.W. Buchholz (Emmaline), Miss Nelly Trezevant and Mrs. C. Addison Pound (Annie) to “foster and encourage the study of the Arts theoretically and practically through every medium.” During its early years, it brought exhibits to the city and presented art lectures. The Association’s monthly meetings were held on the second floor of the Thomas Hotel.

In the 1930s a studio of three rooms was rented at 131 Union Street (on the south side of the “courthouse” square) where travelling exhibitions and classes were taught. Continuing through the war years and the growth of the 1950s, the Association offered painting classes for adults, children, sidewalk art shows, art jamborees, auctions, and children’s exhibits. The first Newsletter was sent out in 1963, and in 1973 the Association was re-chartered by the state of Florida and granted tax exempt, nonprofit status in 1978.

Over the decades, GFAA has held many events that have contributed to Gainesville’s art and culture in its long history including: the original Gainesville Mall Art Show, Art Festival at Thornebrook, the Winter Fine Arts Fair at Tioga Town Center, and many different exhibits at the Thomas Center, Santa Fe College, Oak Hammock, Trinity United Methodist, and other area businesses and restaurants. GFAA creates community, support, and opportunities for exposure and connection for Gainesville Artists, as well as professional exhibitions where art appreciators can view and buy local art.   

In 2016, GFAA secured their first ever gallery space, the GFAA Gallery, located at 1314 South Main Street. The Gallery is supported by GFAA’s 300 artist members active in the Gallery’s robust programming including monthly exhibitions, workshops, artist meet-ups, weekly shared studio time in the gallery, concerts, and other events. The Gallery is free and open to the public, and the exhibitions include local artists in all different phases of their practice.

For more information, please visit

#     #     #

Email editor@

Add a comment

More Articles ...