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GAINESVILLE ‒ Judges for the Cade Prize for Innovation selected six teams to advance to the final round and are vying for $67,000 in cash prizes. The winners’ rankings will be revealed at the 13th Annual Cade Prize Awards Ceremony on Sept. 29, at the Cade Museum in Gainesville. If there is inclement weather, the event will take place on Oct. 6.

“The field of this year’s competition was exceptional,” said Cade Prize Committee Chair Richard Miles. “We are excited to announce the winners and watch how their groundbreaking innovations could change the world in the years to come.”

Two teams tied for one position this year, resulting in six teams making it to what is typically the final five.

One team is from Alachua County. An innovation from Sustainable Landfill Solutions LLC, Newberry, developed RO BOX – A modular on-site landfill leachate treatment system.

Other teams include Ambulero, Inc, Miami, whose innovation is a gene therapy for rare vascular diseases, Ilika Geospatial, Orlando, whose innovation is Earth Observation Indices, transforming raw satellite data into simple metrics, NEPTUNYA Ocean Power, Boca Raton, whose innovation is OCTOPODZ, a technology to unlock offshore renewable energy, Polymer Solutions Inc., Atlanta, whose innovation is Transient, Self-Immolative Polymers and SG Endocrine Research, LLC, Athens, Georgia, whose innovation is Nanoparticles for non-surgical spaying and neutering.

The Cade Prize is a capstone initiative of the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention in Alachua County. The museum is named after Dr. Robert Cade, a physician and professor of medicine at the University of Florida, best known as the lead inventor of Gatorade in 1965. The museum’s mission is to transform communities by inspiring and equipping future inventors, entrepreneurs and visionaries.

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ALACHUA ‒ James Allan Garrison, 62, was arrested on Saturday, Sept. 17, after allegedly grabbing an Alachua Police Department officer around the throat and resisting arrest.

The officer responded to a verbal altercation in the 13300 block of Northwest 151st Place in Alachua. Garrison allegedly pushed and grabbed the officer around the throat while trying to get past him while the officer was trying to prevent him from attacking another person. The officer reportedly told Garrison that he was under arrest and to put his hands behind his back. Garrison allegedly refused to comply until the officer displayed his Taser.

Garrison has been charged with resisting arrest without violence and battery on a police officer. He is a registered Career Offender with 13 felony convictions, 26 misdemeanor convictions and eight state prison sentences. His most recent release was in March. He was arrested on July 31, 2022, for battery and released on $5,000 bond. He is being held on $30,000 bond on the current charges.

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ALACHUA ‒ After 10 years in the making, the City of Alachua’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is finally breaking ground o a major project that will significantly change the city’s downtown. The project aims to add 42 new parking spaces over a underground stormwater retention basin as well as underground utilities serving nearby businesses.

The project comes after numerous property owners in the project’s vicinity donated land, and the CRA purchased a shuttered daycare facility. The project is the largest by the CRA since the reconstruction of Northwest 142nd Terrance and Northwest 150th Terrace near City Hall and the tennis courts

Funding for the project came from a $150,000 grant by the United States Department of Agriculture – Rural Development as well as funds from the City of Alachua’s general fund and the CRA tax increment financing funds. An official groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 26 at 9:30 a.m. in downtown Alachua.

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NEWBERRY ‒ A Newberry High School assistant football coach has been sentenced for an incident at a football game last October.

Geronnie Rollins was ejected from a game in Lake Butler. Union County Sheriff’s deputies had to tackle him after he refused to leave.

A jury found him guilty of trespassing and resisting an officer without violence. Rollins was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, Judge Mitchell Bishop suspended the jail sentence if Rollins performs 50 hours of community service. In addition he will be on probation for six months.

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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ In a 3-2 vote, the High Springs City Commission opted to keep the City’s current attorney. At the Sept. 19 commission meeting, they continued the discussion begun at the previous meeting on hiring an additional attorney. In reviewing the 2016 contract, City Attorney Scott Walker noted that a three percent cost of living increase per year was part of the contract. He said that amount has not been charged to the City since it was approved in 2016. The way the contract is structured the City has paid $5,300 monthly and has not included the cost-of-living increase.

Commissioner Linda Jones questioned Walker, asking him if he was expecting the City to make up for that cost of living increase since 2016. Walker responded “no,” but said he thought it should be included from this point forward.

In response to a question about whether special attorney services would need to go through his firm, Walker said it would and explained that this has happened in the past when a bond issue or other specialized issue has arisen.

Commissioner Katherine Weitz pushed to issue a request for proposal (RFP) for a second attorney at the next Commissio meeting. Weitz said the City “was not getting the needed attorney, representation or backup” they should have.

Commissioner Linda Jones agreed with Weitz and brought up issues relating to murals and the mural ordinance. Mayor Byran Williams intervened by reminding Commissioners that the subject was not on the murals but instead it was on hiring a second attorney. Commissioner Ross Ambrose said he was not interested in having two attorneys guiding the City.

Weitz made a motion to include sending out an RFP for a replacement attorney on the next city commission meeting agenda. Jones seconded the motion. However, the motion died in a 2-3 vote with Commissioner Ross Ambrose, Vice Mayor Gloria James and Mayor Byran Williams voting against.

In other City business, following a brief presentation by High Springs Finance Director Diane Wilson, Commissioners unanimously adopted Resolution 2022-M establishing the final millage rate for FY 2022-23 at 5.99 mills. This rate is an 8.2 percent increase from the current rolled-back rate of 5.5251 mills. In a separate action, Commissioners also unanimously adopted the FY 2022-23 budget of $17,630,150.

In other matters, the Commission considered issuing $2.35 million in water and sewer revenue bonds to provide funding for capital improvement to the water and sewer system, which also included advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). Assistant City Manager Bruce Gillingham said the City is not currently able to account for 38 percent of the water being used. The use of “AMI will bring in at least 10 percent more on water and sewer,” he said.

Finance Director Wilson explained the City would be borrowing $2,350,000 at a 3.2 interest rate with $2,310,000 for direct project costs and $40,000 for the cost of issuance for Bond Counsel, Financial Advisor and Bank Counsel. Wilson said payments have already been included in the FY 2022-23 budget. The term would be for 15 years, but could be paid off earlier with a penalty. The closing date on the bond has been set for Sept. 29.

Commissioner Weitz disagreed with issuing bonds, contending that the City should use ARPA funds to offset the amount the City would have to borrow.

The measure, Resolution 2022-P, authorizing the issuance of the water and sewer revenue bonds was approved in a 4-1 vote with Weitz casting the dissenting vote.

The Commission approved unanimously to amend the Land Development Code to add impact fees for new construction for roads, parks and general services for police, fire and other City facilities at the maximum allowable amount. The new fees are in response to a 2021 study by Duncan and Associates to establish the need and determine the appropriate amount to assess impact fees to pay for the costs associated with new development.

According to the results of the study, the maximum impact fees that the City may assess on new development are for single-family detached dwelling units at $4,989, multi-family dwelling units at $3,130, retail/commercial units per 1,000 square feet at $4,502, office per 1,000 square feet at $3,242, industrial per 1,000 square feet at $1,448, warehouse per 1,000 square feet at $549 and public/institutional per 1,000 square feet at $1,498.

Funds from impact fees may only be used on costs associated with new development. They may not be used for maintenance, rehabilitation, repair or replacement of existing facilities, or the acquisition of vehicles or equipment with a useful life of less than five years, provided that the minimum useful life does not apply to public safety vehicles.

The Commission will consider Ordinance 2022-17 again on Nov. 29 due to state mandated notification requirements. City staff will be emailing the impact fee study in electronic format to residents, but should anyone desire a hard copy, Stathatos said City staff will provide one.

Gillingham provided an update on projects being funded with ARPA funds. These projects include roofs for City Hall and the fire station, law enforcement body cameras, elevator replacement, and lift station pumps. The second half of the funds are expected to arrive on Sept. 22. At the next City Commission meeting, Gillingham will provide an list with assigned priorities.

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ALACHUA COUNTY ‒ Crews from Alachua County Fire Rescue, Gainesville Fire Rescue and High Springs Fire Rescue were dispatched on Friday, Sept. 16 at just after 8 a.m. to a semi truck fire at the northbound I-75 392-mile marker. Crews arrived to find a semi parked on the shoulder with heavy fire coming from the cab and front of the trailer. Authorities were able to extinguish the fire with two hose lines.

The driver of the truck escaped unharmed and said that the fire started in the brakes of the rear wheels of the cab. Both fuel tanks ruptured during the fire, which caused extensive damage to the truck and the front of the trailer.

All lanes of I-75 northbound were shut down while the fire was being extinguished, but were reopened as soon as the rescue vehicles and truck were removed.

The trailer was loaded with drinks (lemonade and Coca-Cola products).

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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ Zachary Hodge, 18, was honored during the Sept. 8 City of High Springs Commission meeting for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. Hodge has been a member of High Springs Troop #69 for some five years. Scout Master Kathy Bloodsworth describes Hodge as “a real leader in the community and a good student.”

Hodge, who is a senior at Santa Fe High School, is considering going into the Navy after graduation. After that he is considering becoming a game warden or going into welding, but has ample time to consider his options.

Hodge’s Eagle Scout project, a rigorous requirement to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, began with cleaning up the outdoor classroom at Mebane Middle School. Due to COVID, the classroom had not been used in some time and was overgrown. The project evolved to include cleaning up the cemetery at Mebane Middle School as well.

Hodge and his team of helpers were able to increase the area of the outdoor classroom with some tractor work and also repaired the benches. “Younger Scouts water sealed the benches as they were repaired,” said Bloodsworth. The group of five Boy Scouts and eight adults cut up limbs, cut grass, fixed fences around the cemetery and chain sawed and removed a large branch that had fallen into the cemetery.

According to Bloodsworth, the Eagle Scout project involves obtaining funding for the project, if needed, obtaining and overseeing personnel to do the work and generally managing the project start to finish.

In all, the project took approximately 5.5 hours of on-site work to accomplish.

Eagle Scout is the highest rank a young person can reach in Scouting. In fact, only around five percent of all scouts who join ever reach the Eagle rank. Becoming an Eagle Scout is an exceptionally difficult challenge, even for scouts who can complete merit badges and rank requirements quickly.

“A lot of leadership skills and earning 21 merit badges are what is required in order to qualify to do an Eagle Scout project,” said Bloodsworth. “It is not easily accomplished,” she said.

When asked about the benefits of achieving the rank of Eagle Scout Bloodsworth said, “Eagle Scouts that join any branch of the military start at a higher rank than those who do not have the Eagle Scout designation. Higher rank means higher pay. If an Eagle Scout desires to pursue a career in the military, they'll begin as an E-3 instead of an E-1. In addition,” she said, “most college admissions officers recognize the Eagle Scout as an exceptional achievement. It can give the Scout an advantage over other applicants.”

Hodge and the other members of his troop were present to lead the pledge of allegiance at the opening of the City Commission meeting and Hodge received a round of applause for his accomplishment.

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