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NEWBERRY – The City of Newberry has gone through a lengthy process of grant applications in an attempt to obtain funding from the State to repair one of their iconic historic structures…the Little Red Schoolhouse. The structure, which was built in 1909, now serves as a museum and administrative offices for the City’s Building, Planning and Code Enforcement offices.

The building is currently suffering from structural failure due in part to the bricks having not been fired to a high enough temperature and also due to masonry and mortar wear through the years. In 2015, an architectural assessment of the interior and exterior of the building was performed. One of the findings from the assessment was that the brick and mortar joints on the exterior of the building had deteriorated to the point that water was collecting and migrating into the interior of the wall.

The City’s Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan calls for remodeling the interior and repair of the exterior. Originally, the City sought help from the State and submitted grant applications for assistance. Although the last grant application appeared to bear fruit, half of the state funding dollars that were awarded went to the Florida Panhandle to help with hurricane disaster remediation.

After three grant application attempts, the Newberry City Commission opted to have the City make the repairs and this year budgeted approximately $100,000 toward that goal. Approximately $70,000 of that money was earmarked for masonry repairs.

At the Jan. 27 City Commission meeting, City Manager Mike New reported that the City put the project out to bid as directed by the Commission and received three bids to perform the work. The low bidder was the Rose Group LLC with a bid of $38,000.

“The City has checked their references thoroughly and had received excellent reports about their work,” said New.

In addition, All Pro Masonry, a company acting as a subcontractor to the Rose Group, had also been vetted as they will be performing approximately $14,000 of the work. In a meeting with staff earlier on Jan. 27, both companies assured the City that they understood the project and were ready and able to complete it.

Although the bid amount is for $38,000, New asked for and received authorization for a not-to-exceed amount of 20 percent for overages. Due to the nature of the work, it can be difficult to assess the potential for additional brick and/or mortar damage. “We really don’t know what we’re going to find until we get into this project, and the usual 10 percent change order process may not be adequate in this case,” he said.

“Work should begin on the Little Red Schoolhouse repairs within the next 30 days and be completed in the next four months,” said New.

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GAINESVILLE — Due to high demand, the popular IdentoGo TSA Pre✓® Mobile RV event is returning to Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV). The event will run from Mon., Mar. 16 – Thurs., Mar. 19, 2020. The Mobile Enrollment Center will be located on the airport property at 3880 NE 39th Ave., Gainesville, Fla., 32609, at the east end of the terminal.

IdentoGo, the company that manages the event, offers 12 appointments per hour. Applicants should note that appointments are limited and are available on a first come, first serve basis, so register as soon as possible. Please note this event is for TSA Pre® only, not Global Entry.

GNV has hosted two previous enrollment events, allowing 2,449 people to easily enroll in the popular expedited screening program without having to drive to Jacksonville, Orlando or Tampa. To accommodate increased passenger traffic, GNV added a second screening lane in May 2018 and added TSA Pre✓® in October 2018. TSA Pre✓® is now available for all flights at GNV.

TSA Pre✓® enables identified low-risk air travelers to enjoy a smart and efficient screening experience. For TSA Pre✓® travelers, there is no need to remove shoes, 3-1-1 liquids, laptops, light outerwear or belts. Today, TSA Pre✓® has more than 450 lanes at 200+ U.S. airports.

The TSA Pre® application program allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to directly apply for TSA Pre®. Once approved, travelers will receive a “Known Traveler Number” (which can be added to a travelers airline profile and reservations) and will have the opportunity to utilize TSA Pre® lanes at select security checkpoints when flying on over 70 carriers that currently participate in TSA Pre®.

 To participate in GNV’s enrollment event, follow these steps to pre-enroll:

  1. Visit https://www.identogo.com/precheck to access the application page
  2. Click “Start Application Now”, then click “New Enrollment”
  3. Fill out Steps and choose “Next” at the bottom of each screen
  4. Type in your location at Zipcode/City/Airport Code box – search
  5. Choose location “Gainesville, FL - RV Pop-Up: GNV - Gainesville Regional Airport 3/16-3/19” and click “Next”
  6. Select your desired appointment time (Please be sure to make note of your appointment time, no reminders will be sent out.)

The hours for the IdentoGo TSA Pre® Mobile RV Event at GNV will be:

Monday - Thursday: 9 a.m. - noon, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. (closed from noon to 1 p.m. for lunch).

Convenient parking will be available in the “Long-term East Overflow Lot” (employee lot).

IMPORTANT! To complete the application process, you will need to bring documentation proving identity and citizenship status! If you have a valid U.S. passport, that is all you need for ID! You will finish the process onsite by providing your fingerprints for a background check.

The application fee is $85 and can be paid by credit card, money order, company check, or certified/cashier's check. Cash and personal checks are not accepted.

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ALACHUA COUNTY - The third annual "Artwalk for the Animals" is on Saturday, April 18, 2020, from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Alachua County Animal Services (3400 N.E. 53rd Ave, Gainesville). Proceeds from the Artwalk for the Animals are used for the Heart 2 Heart program, which provides medicine for heartworm positive animals. 

Irby Elementary School students have painted original portraits of shelter animals, and the shelter animals themselves have created their own original artwork, which will be on display in the shelter lobby. Community artists will also be onsite to sell their art during the event. There will be chances to win prizes throughout the day.

Donations of non-toxic acrylic paint, canvases, art supplies, and prizes for the event can be dropped off at the shelter during normal business hours (Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.).

For more information about the Artwalk for the Animals, visit the Facebook event, call Alachua County Animal Services at 352-264-6870, or contact Samm Wehman Epstein at sammwehman@gmail.com.

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 ALACHUA COUNTY - A reported second wave of flu nationwide has the Alachua County Health Department and Alachua County Schools once again offering students free flu shots at school. 

Flu season in Florida has not yet reached its peak, and unfortunately hospitalizations and even deaths of children from the flu continue to be reported. Due to the prevalence and potential severity of this year’s flu virus, the Alachua County Health Department and Alachua County Public Schools are offering a second round of flu vaccinations in schools.

This round of vaccinations will be flu shots only. As always, the shots are free, safe and will be administered at school during the school day. If a student received a flu vaccine earlier this school year, he or she does not need another vaccination.

For students to participate, they must return a completed consent form to their school by Feb. 21.

The application is available online at (https://bit.ly/2OUW8Ro. There is also a parent information letter, a vaccine information sheet and a privacy notice.

Anyone with questions should contact the Alachua County Health Department at 352-334-7916.

Clinics have been scheduled at all schools so that the process will be completed prior to Spring Break, which starts March 20.

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ALACHUA COUNTY — Nearly 22,000 vote-by-mail ballots for the 2020 Presidential Preference Primary and City of Gainesville Regular Election will be mailed by Feb. 6.

Voters signed up to receive a vote-by-mail ballot should expect to receive their ballots no later than Monday, Feb. 17. Domestic vote-by-mail ballots are being mailed today, while overseas ballots were mailed Jan. 31. Any voter who does not receive their vote-by-mail ballot by Feb. 17 should contact the elections office at 352-374-5252 or email Vote-by-Mail Coordinator Mike Bruckman at mbruckman@alachuacounty.us.

The deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot is 5 p.m. Saturday, March 7. Vote-by-mail ballots can be requested online, in person, or by phone, fax, mail or email. Until the deadline, vote-by-mail ballot requests will be filled as they are received. Any voter can sign up to vote by mail.

The Supervisor of Elections must receive domestic vote-by-mail ballots by 7 p.m. on Election Day (Tuesday, March 17). Voters who vote by mail are encouraged to have their completed ballots mailed by Tuesday, March 10, to ensure ballots arrive at the Supervisors of Elections Office by the deadline. Voters should also make sure that their voter information and signature are updated before they return their ballot if they have moved or their signature has changed.

Additionally, voters are encouraged to be alert when filling out and mailing a vote-by-mail ballot. Advice from the Supervisor of Elections includes:

Completely color in the oval next to your choice on your ballot — do not circle or mark an “X” over the oval.

If you make a mistake on your ballot, call the Supervisor of Elections at 352-374-5252.

Be sure to sign your own mail ballot certificate envelope.

Return your mail ballot in the official envelope provided. Return postage is prepaid.

Any voter who does not sign their ballot or whose signature on the vote-by-mail ballot certificate does not compare to the signature in their voter record will be contacted by the Supervisor of Elections and provided the opportunity to correct the ballot. According to Florida Statutes, voters have until 5 p.m. Thursday, March 19, to complete an affidavit to correct a vote-by-mail ballot that does not have a signature or has a signature that does not match the person’s voter record signature.

Starting Sunday, March 8, voters may authorize another person to pick up a vote-by-mail from the Supervisor of Elections’ office. A designee must have a note signed by the voter and a picture ID. They must also complete an affidavit, which is available online at https://dos.myflorida.com/media/701775/dsde37.pdf. Designees may not pick up more than two mail ballots per election, excluding their own ballot and ballots for their immediate family.

Voters can drop off completed vote-by-mail ballots at the Supervisor of Elections office, located in Gainesville at 515 N. Main St., during normal business hours — 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday — or can use the secure, white afterhours drop-box located outside of the office’s main entrance. Voters have until 7 p.m. on Election Day to deliver vote-by-mail ballots to the Supervisor of Elections.

For more information, contact the Supervisor of Elections at 352-374-5252.

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ALACHUA COUNTY - Alachua County Fire Rescue invites residents to the Fire Rescue Station #25 Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, at Fire Rescue Station #25 (12825 N.W. US Highway 441, Alachua) beginning at 10 a.m. Light refreshments will be served. The event is free and open to the public.
Over the past two years, the County has been actively taking steps to place a fire station, with Advanced Life Support (ALS) capabilities in the area locally known as Hague. While the project has been discussed for several years, it was approved by the County Commission in 2018.
On Jan. 31, the crew and engine moved to the new location. Once the engine bay is constructed, approximately 1,500 homeowners will be eligible for a reduction in their home-owners insurance as the Public Protective Class issued by the Insurance Services Office (ISO) will improve from a Class 9 to a Class 3. Citizens will see quicker response times to all emergencies, including life-threatening calls, which translates to a safer community.
"We are excited about reducing response times and improving service delivery to this area of Alachua County," said Alachua County Fire Rescue Chief Harold Theus. "I am thankful that our Board places importance on public safety, and as a result all the citizens will benefit from the new fire station location."
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ALACHUA – Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers were called to U.S. Highway 441 at Turkey Creek Boulevard in Alachua at 6:45 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 28, following a truck vs. pedestrian accident.

George Metz II, 58, from Lake Butler, was driving a 2009 International truck heading in an easterly direction on U.S. Highway 441. William Moore, 45, from Alachua, was walking across U.S. 441 in a northerly direction.

For unknown reasons, Moore entered the path of the truck and was struck by the truck’s front. Moore was transported to UF-Health Shands Hospital where he was later pronounced dead by hospital staff.

It is currently unknown whether alcohol may have played a part in Moore’s actions, but the FHP indicates that it was not considered a factor for Metz.

Charges in this case are pending while FHP completes their investigation.

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