Sun02012015

Last updateWed, 28 Jan 2015 11pm

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Alachua Celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Tenth Anniversary Celebration

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Dr. King was a true prophet who spoke to the true consciousness of this nation

--Pastor Natron Curtis

‘Recognize all we have accomplished together’

-- Alachua City Manager Traci Cain

‘Create a dream that you have’

-- Master of Ceremony Wilma Rogers

‘We are living the dream’

--Chief of Police Joel DeCoursey, Jr.

‘Everybody can be great - everybody can serve’

--Pastor Natron Curtis

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High Springs MLK march

HS MLK IMG 0007The High Springs community came together Monday, uniting in their commitment to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

HIGH SPRINGS – The High Springs Community Development Association (CDA), in conjunction with the City of High Springs and McDonalds in Alachua, sponsored a Commemorative March in celebration of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday on Mon., Jan. 19. The march began at City Hall and culminated at Catherine L. Taylor Park.

Master of Ceremonies at the park location was Rev. Byran Williams, CDA President. Speakers included Rev. Morris and Gloria Kelly. Music and singing were also part of the celebration. Refreshments were provided to help celebrate the event.

“We have been conducting events around MLK's birthday for at least 15 years,” according to Rev. Williams. “We have a weekend of events to celebrate each year.”

In addition to the march, which attracted about 75 people, an open service was held on Thursday, Jan. 15, King's actual birthday, at Allen Chapel AME Church, 10 S.E. MLK Blvd., and a 4 p.m., Sunday worship service was held on Jan. 18 at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, 948 S.E. Railroad Avenue.

Church service offerings, donations and proceeds from the weekend events are donated to the High Springs Child Care MLK Center, 125 S.E. Douglas Street.

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alachuatoday.com

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Coquí Radiopharmaceuticals receives 25-acre land transfer from UF

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Coquí Radiopharmaceuticals President and CEO Carmen Bigles will be leading the company's operations.

ALACHUA – Coquí Radiopharmaceuticals has officially secured a 25-acre plot of land for their future facility in Alachua.

The University of Florida transferred the land to the company with the conditions they develop the road needed to access the land and they receive approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

President and CEO of Coquí, Carmen Bigles, said she is thrilled about the land transfer.

“I’m ecstatic,” Bigles said. “I’m so happy to be part of Alachua, and I can’t wait to break ground.”

Coquí Radiopharmaceuticals is a medical isotope company and will be the first commercial company to produce Molybdenum-99, an isotope used to create Technicium-99m.

Technicium-99m is used in the diagnosis of many illnesses such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, coronary disease and even Parkinson’s. According to Bigles, it is used in approximately 50,000 medical diagnostic procedures per day in the U.S.

Technicium-99m is currently not being produced in the U.S. and many major producers of the isotope are shutting down.

Bigles said there are many other benefits to producing Technicium-99m domestically. The isotope has a very short shelf life and cannot be stockpiled, Bigles said. Therefore, producing it within the U.S. will make it more readily available to patients around the country.

The production of Technicium-99m within the country will benefit more than just the patients who need it, Bigles said.

“[It] is really important, not just for the patients that need it, but it’s also really important to progress in medicine,” she said. “You need this to also do the research and studies of it.”

When deciding on a location for their facility, Bigles said they originally wanted to do it in Puerto Rico. When it became apparent that would not work, she said they were drawn to Florida because of the University of Florida.

She said they were excited about the possibility to partner with the university’s research groups and scientists.

Bigles also said she felt a pull to the area when she came for her first meeting. Rick Staab, who is part of Tyler’s Hope Foundation, had offered her his boardroom to hold the meeting.

Staab’s children have Dystonia, a neurological movement disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions. Tyler’s Hope is a foundation working toward the cure for dystonia.

Bigles said when she went into the building, there is a poster Tyler had made in the third grade perfectly describing what Molybdenum-99 was and what it did and why it was important.

“I always think of it as if it was meant to be,” Bigles said.

Win Phillips of the University of Florida said the university agreed to the land transfer because the growth of business is exactly what that land was intended for. According to Phillips, the parcel of land is adjacent to Progress Corporate Park.

“The whole intent of Progress Park is economic development and attracting business and opportunities in this town,” Phillips said.

“The deal is that Coquí locating there brings appreciation to that property. And the fact that they are willing to bring in development of that property increases the value of that property and the adjacent lands and the opportunity that other companies will locate there,” he added.

Phillips also said the university is looking forward to the partnering of their researchers and resources with Coquí.

“We think it’s a great opportunity for the joint development between Coquí Pharmaceuticals and ourselves,” he said.

Bigles said the facility is expected to bring 200 new permanent jobs to Alachua with average salaries around $80,000. This facility will draw new families to the area as well, creating more business.

Bigles says they hope to have all the necessary documents submitted to the NRC by the end of 2015. The NRC will then look over and evaluate the plans. If everything goes accordingly, Bigles said they hope to break ground in 2017, being operational by 2020.

“I’m just ecstatic that we will be part of all the brainpower that is emerging from Alachua.”

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Email jhundley@

alachuatoday.com

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County’s top educator listens to Alachua

Dr. Owen Roberts takes educational pulse of community

W - Alachua school forum DSC 0022Alachua County Superintendent of Schools Owen Roberts responds to community members attending the Alachua school forum and explains his vision of achieving excellence in education

ALACHUA – Alachua County Superintendent of Schools Owen Roberts has been front and center listening to communities voice their thoughts about the local school system. High Springs held the first forum in Alachua County on Oct. 16 and since then Roberts has been on the circuit throughout the county conducting listening sessions. The latest such session was held in Alachua on Thursday, Jan. 15.

A crowd of parents, teachers, administrators and community members turned out at the Alachua Woman’s Club to participate in the forum that centered on local schools Irby Elementary, Alachua Elementary, Mebane Middle School and Santa Fe High School.

Participants were divided into working groups that tackled a series of questions posed by Jackie Johnson, Public Information Officer for the school board. Johnson transcribed comments onto oversized yellow paper that was mounted on easels for group discussion. Roberts told meeting participants that he would listen to their input and he was prepared to consider every recommendation or suggestion made.

Issues raised included the existing economic disparity in the area as compared to Gainesville, the potential for crime due to ease of access from I-75, excessive school testing and that a school’s grade could be detrimental to future local economic development.

Many comments were in a positive vein and spoke about the strong faith-based aspect of the community, the importance of agriculture, the educational pipeline starting with elementary school through high school and then to college, referencing the Santa Fe College Perry Center for Emerging Technologies located across U.S. Highway 441 from the Progress Park and the Sid Martin Biotech Center. A number of participants agreed the area is a tight-knit community where there is a sense of familiarity amongst the residents and community leaders are involved in the schools. Hailed as areas of excellence were the recreation program, the public library and the community’s population diversity.

Suggestions to improve educational opportunities included additional tutoring programs for students, increased parental involvement, additional partnering with local businesses, conducting school activities on Saturdays and encouraging schools to have school-wide activities and celebrations rather than restricted to a single grade or classroom.

In closing the session, Roberts referenced districtwide strategies including a renewed focus on language development. “A child’s achievement is tied to their ability to use language, and that is critical,” Roberts said. He also noted that while schools are a vital catalyst for positive change, it takes commitment from all parts of the community to make transformative changes in schools.

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alachuatoday.com

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Publix site work begins

W - Publix 1 DSC 0612A much anticipated Publix supermarket slated for Alachua appears to be underway as site preparation has begun on the property located along U.S. Highway 441 and adjacent to Santa Fe High School in Alachua. Land clearing crews were at work on the property where the proposed Publix is to occupy 46,031 square feet of a 56,431 building. It is expected that another 10,400 square feet will be divided among eight retail bays. Michael Ryals of Bosshardt Realty confirmed that the developer has closed on the real estate, and that they have commitments on roughly three quarters of the retail spaces. Among the shops planned for the space is a restaurant, salon services, nail services and a liquor store. On Nov. 18, the City of Alachua’s Planning and Zoning board gave the nod to a site plan presented by developers of the property. Ryals said actual construction could begin as earlier as this month or next.

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