GAINESVILLE, FL - More than 160 students from elementary and middle schools throughout the district will face off in Alachua County Public Schools’ annual robotics competition. There will be two robotics tournaments running simultaneously at the Lincoln Middle School Gymnasium, 1001 S.E. 12th Street.

Close to 50 registered teams will demonstrate their skills in developing, building and operating robots to perform specific tasks, all before event judges. There will be team skills contests as well as a Teamwork Challenge in which teams from different schools must work together to earn points.

All teams are vying for a spot in the Central/North Florida State Vex Competitions held in late March, with the chance to possibly compete at the Worlds Competition in May.

The competition is being sponsored by Gas South, whose donation over many years helps to fund the robotics competitions. In addition, the ACPS Robotics Program received money from Info Tech and other local businesses.

On Thursday, Feb. 15, the Opening Ceremony kicks off at 10 a.m. with competition running from 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., followed by the closing ceremony and awards.

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Photo of typical landfill Special to Alachua County Today

On Feb. 9,2024 the Sierra Club Suwannee-St Johns Group issued the following press release concerning dumping in southeast Gainesville.

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GAINESVILLE, FLA - On Friday, Feb. 9, 2024, seven organizations representing hundreds of residents in Alachua County, sent a letter to the Alachua County Commission urging the County to not honor the Legislative Extension of the Special Use Permit (SUP) that Southeast Landholdings, Inc. had filed. Their original SUP had a stated expiration date of January 22, 2024.

On Dec. 6, 2023. the County learned of Southeast Landholdings intent to exercise the hurricane-related tolling and extension granted under Section 252.363(1)(a), Florida Statutes (2023) [“Tolling and extension of permits and other authorizations”] of Special Use Permit # Z-19-01 for a C&D Landfill Facility on approximately ~48.48 acres located at 3003 SE 15th Street, Gainesville, Florida.

If the Legislative Extension is honored, this action effectively circumvents any public hearing process before the County to vet the continuation of their permit to operate for another 4 – 5 years.

If allowed to continue to operate, the Florence C&D Landfill will expand to double its present height, from 35 feet to 70 feet, all while being situated in the middle of an urban neighborhood in SE Gainesville.

The body of the letter:

We, the seven below-signed organizations ask you to not honor the Legislative Extension of the Special Use Permit for the Florence C&D Landfill.

Approval of this permit would allow the operation to increase in height, nearly doubling the current height of the facility, which operates without a liner, in violation of "design requirements" in FAC Rule: 62-701.730.

  • This site was never properly designed to serve as a C&D landfill.

Historically, this site was first permitted an excavation facility called Feagle Fill Dirt (FFD) and according to records FFD had been illegally dumping on the land from the late 1960’s-1983.

When the Department of Environmental Review enforced a closure plan, FFD claimed economic hardship, with the inability to complete the closure plan, unless they were allowed to continue charging for dumping. The FFD operators filed for a variance requesting all regulations that prohibit disposal of inert materials, specifically road construction debris, in standing water.

  • Water quality and public health for neighboring residents is threatened by continued use of this unlined construction and demolition debris landfill.
  • Records of the pollution plume from the facility demonstrate the flow moving towards Boulware Springs and Paynes Prairie, both important public resources.
  • There is no requirement to continue the use of Florence C&D Landfill.A recent presentation from the Alachua County staff shared information that shows the present waste sites for disposal have at least 20 years of life, without the Florence C&D Landfill. This provides enough time for zero waste programs to come online to assist with appropriate waste reuse and recycling of these materials.

“Zero Waste” is the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.

  • By disproportionally burdening Southeast Gainesville residents, a predominantly Black community, with the noise, dust, and pollution associated with C&D waste greatly hinders efforts to attract both safe and clean investments into this neighborhood.

The residents of Southeast Gainesville have been subjected to the noise, dust, and pollution from this landfill for more than 50 years. This is an environmental injustice that our community must make right.

To protect the health and safety of Southeast Gainesville residents, and to preserve water quality throughout Alachua County, we respectfully ask that you not honor the Legislative Extension of the Special Use Permit for the Florence C&D Landfill and enforce a closure plan in 2024.

Signed by,

Sierra Club Suwannee-St Johns Group

Alachua County NAACP ECJC

Saint Peter Saint Paul Community Council

M.A.M.A. Club

Alachua County Labor Coalition

North Central Florida Indivisible

Florida For All

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This information is public record and the booking report is provided by the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Department of the Jail.  The charges listed are at the time of arrest and and all suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. For more details on a specific inmate use the Sheriff’s Office inmate search (for inmates currently at the jail). More specific information on charges is available by searching court records.  Jail booking logs are removed from the Alachua County Today website after 30 days.

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17000 NW US 301 Semi Fire2

 ALACHUA COUNTY - Crews from Melrose Fire Department, Windsor Fire Department and Alachua County Fire Rescue responded to a reported commercial vehicle fire on Feb. 10, 2024. 

Upon arrival crews found a semi-tractor trailer 75 percent involved. It took crews several hours to extinguish the fire due to the cargo on board. U.S. Highway 301, southbound was partially blocked creating heavy traffic in the area. As clean up was anticipated to take several hours, fire officials asked that the public avoid  the area if possible. The cause of the fire appears to have been due to a fire in the trailers brakes.

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GAINESVILLE, FLA. - The Eighth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission has selected applicants for interviews for the vacant Alachua County Judge seat created by the retirement of Judge Walter Green. The interviews will be held Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024, beginning at 9:00 am, at the Alachua County Criminal Courthouse, Gainesville, Florida.

The applicants selected for the interviews are as follows:

Time Slot Applicants
9:00 – 10:00 Katherine Floyd, Jonathan Ramsey, Shawn Thompson
10:15-11:15 Eric Atria, AuBroncee Martin, Adam Lee
11:30-12:10 Cary Torres, Dorene Inkeles
1:00 – 2:20 Adam Hapner, Yolanda Means, Adam Stout, Evan Gardner
The interviews are open to the public. Deliberation sessions, which generally occur before the
interviews begin, during breaks, and at the conclusion of the interview session, are confidential.

JNC Commissioners

Rebecca Shinholser, Candice Brower, Christopher Elsey Brent Siegel, Norm D. Fugate, Chair, Lindsey Turner, Vice Chair, Brian Kramer and Robert Woody.

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ALACHUA COUNTY - Crews from Alachua County Fire Rescue and the LaCrosse Fire Department were dispatched to a reported structure fire in the 18000 block of NE CR 225 on Feb. 10, 2024. Upon arrival crews found a single wide mobile home completely destroyed due to the fire. The fire had extended into the woods around the property and crews were able to quickly contain and extinguish the fire. Unfortunatley three dogs died in the fire. The cause of the fire is under investigation. 

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Science lovers are invited to attend the free Girls Do Science event at the Florida Museum of Natural History on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Hosted in celebration of the United Nations’ declaration of Feb. 11 as International Women and Girls in Science Day, the museum will host a plethora of fun and engaging activities with local scientists. These include interactive games, biology lessons featuring real specimens and displays of research equipment.

“I’m very excited about all the new tablers we are having this year,” said Janelle Peña-Jiménez, the Florida Museum’s public programs coordinator and Girls Do Science organizer. “Each tabling organization showcases achievements of women in science, which promotes the idea that science is for everyone, regardless of gender. By providing opportunities for girls to engage with female scientists, this event hopes to inspire more girls to pursue careers in STEM fields and to help close the gender gap in these fields.”

Along with participating in activities, attendees will have the opportunity to see live critters and meet people representing a variety of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics organizations like the University of Florida Thompson Earth Systems Institute, the UF department of anthropology, the museum’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity and the UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s Aquatic Animal Health program. Each group will bring a unique set of knowledge and activities for all ages.The McGuire Center will bring tools for attendees to build their own device to capture small insects, also known as aspirators, as well as drawers of butterflies and insects.

“We hope to inspire people to stop and take a closer look to appreciate the insects around them,” said Kristin Rossetti, conservation coordinator at the McGuire Center. “Lepidoptera researchers are excited and passionate about their work, and when you get to speak to other people who are interested in what you do, it allows that excitement to spread!”

In honor of her recent retirement and monumental career, this year’s event will be dedicated to emeritus Allyn curator of lepidoptera for the McGuire Center, Jacqueline “Jackie” Miller. An internationally recognized researcher, Miller has authored or co-authored three books and more than 158 papers. She served as the first female president of The Lepidopterists’ Society in 1989 and is a fellow and honorary life member of the Entomological Society of America.

“Jackie is such an inspiration,” Peña-Jiménez said. “I can’t wait for this event to happen already!”

For those who cannot attend the in-person event, the Florida Museum has developed a Girls Do Science! activity book, which is free and available for download online. The book was created by scientists and includes projects for a variety of ages. Activities range from coloring pages highlighting influential female scientists to a step-by-step strawberry DNA extraction guide.

While Girls Do Science hopes to inspire female engagement in science, the event is open to all. The Florida Museum invites anyone interested, regardless of age, gender or background, to attend the festivities.

For more information on the event or to download the activity book, visit www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/event/women-girls-in-science-day.

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