Fri12192014

Last updateWed, 17 Dec 2014 11pm

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Coquí Radiopharmaceuticals contracts for Alachua facility

CORAL GABLES – Coquí RadioPharmaceuticals Corp., a medical isotope company working to become the first U.S. commercial producer of Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), has signed a contract with INVAP to design its Medical Isotope Production Facility (MIPF) in Alachua, Fla. The new 100,000 square-foot facility, with a capital investment of $227 million, is the only of its kind in the country and one of only three or four in the world. The average annual compensation for workers will be $70,000.

Mo-99 is the parent isotope of Technetium-99, which is used in 80 percent of nuclear medicine procedures worldwide. The medical isotopes are used in nuclear medicine for the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases including Alzheimer's, cancer, renal disease, and occult bone traumas. The company chose Alachua because it provides an attractive location given its proximity to the University of Florida's research reactor, potential for collaboration with the Colleges of Engineering and Medicine and setting within a research park oriented toward complementary biomedical-related activities. In 2012, Congress passed legislation making it a national priority to produce Mo-99, an isotope necessary to detect a wide range of diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

“The signing of this contract cements a key step in implementing proven technology to produce Mo-99 for patients requiring lifesaving medical diagnostics,” said Carmen I. Bigles, Coquí Pharma President and CEO. “Today, Coquí Pharma together with INVAP has built a bridge between the U.S. and Argentina, uniting our efforts to ensure the availability and reliability of the most essential radioisotope in nuclear medicine and with the added benefit of making the world a safer place for generations to come by utilizing proven non-proliferation, low-enriched uranium technologies.”

Coquí Pharma is preparing its construction permit application for submission to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Coquí Pharma will utilize existing commercially proven technology with tested designs to license and build a facility that has the capability of reliably supplying a large portion of the U.S. market and international needs.

Due to recent and future projected shortages, the issue of U.S. domestic medical isotope production has been discussed at great length within the industry and U.S. federal government. Coquí Pharma reviewed options available to manufacture Mo-99 and determined that only the INVAP process provides a real, tangible and reliable solution to solve the medical isotope crisis.

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Marcus Enfinger awarded Eagle Scout

Enfinger Eagle 20141108 184046ALACHUA – Marcus Enfinger of Alachua, Florida, has earned the highest advancement award the Boy Scouts of America offer in scouting. Enfinger was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout on Aug. 26, and was formally recognized at an Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 8 at 5 p.m. at the Alachua Lions Club.

Enfinger is a member of Boy Scout Troop 88, chartered by Alachua Lions Club. To become an Eagle Scout Enfinger organized and led a community service project that included over 160 service hours for the City of Alachua in two of the city’s parks. Along with his many scout activities he earned 29 merit badges.

His project involved procuring donations and volunteers to build and place two concrete benches in the Hitchcock’s Theatre Park on Alachua’s Main Street and six benches in Copeland Park. The benches provide a place for people visiting the parks to have a place to sit and relax. Enfinger’s leadership skills were valuable in helping him complete his project.

The son of Mark and Loretta Enfinger, Marcus Enfinger is a student at Santa Fe High School. He is the Senior Patrol Leader of Troop 88 and has served as Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, Historian and Librarian. He has been in scouting for over 10 years, starting off in Tiger Cubs. He earned the Arrow of Light Award, the highest award offered at the Cub Scout level, and then moved up to the Boy Scout level.

Special guests attending the Court of Honor from the City of Alachua were Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper and City Commissioner Ben Boukari, Jr. Representing Boy Scouts of America were Alachua District Chairman of Eagle Board Mr. Pat Whitmer, Alachua District Eagle Chair Mike Grantham, and Alachua District Unit Commissioner Mike Rhodes. Among other special guests attending were grandparents Mr. and Mrs. Harold Blalack, Mr. and Mrs. Max Enfinger and Rev. Bryant and Susan Bechtold.

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More victims step forward, swim coach arrested again

HIGH SPRINGS – As the investigation of a High Springs Community School behavioral resource teacher for kindergarten through fourth grade and part-time swim coach continues, investigators have determined that seven young boys so far have fallen prey to sexual overtures by their coach. More victims have been rumored, but Gainesville Police Department (GPD) investigators will not substantiate a specific number until the investigation has been completed.

Joseph Michael Diaz, 31, 3003 NW 30th Terr., Gainesville, was arrested late Thursday afternoon, April 24, after a teenage boy told GPD detectives that Diaz had pushed him to take inappropriate photos and videos of himself using Diaz' cell phone.

Although Diaz bonded out of jail Friday morning at 3:15 a.m. after posting his $65,000 bail, he was again arrested that same afternoon after a younger teenage boy alleged Diaz had sexual contact with him several times a month over a three-year period beginning when the child was 10 years old.

Diaz was booked into the Alachua County jail on a charge of sexual assault by an adult on a victim under 12 years of age and is currently being held under $750,000 bond according to the Alachua County Sheriff's Office website. He remains in jail as of press time.

Diaz has been placed on administrative leave by the Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) pending the results of the criminal investigation. ACPS spokeswoman Jackie Johnson said, “Law enforcement officials said they don't believe any students at High Springs Community School are involved.”

However, school principals at High Springs Community School and at other schools where Diaz has taught in the past are taking no chances. High Springs Community School Principal Jeff Means sent a letter home with students telling parents Diaz was placed on administrative leave Friday pending results of the criminal investigation.

Wiles Elementary Principal Barbara Buys sent a letter home to parents of students who would have come into contact with Diaz when he taught second grade from 2009-2013. The letter noted that the investigation is ongoing and that parents who suspect their child might have been victimized by Diaz should contact police detectives.

Littlewood Elementary School Principal Jen Homard sent a similar letter home to parents of fifth-grade students as Diaz was a fourth-grade teacher at Littlewood during the 2008-2009 school year.

The investigation into the allegations involving the younger teen is ongoing. Although GPD investigators originally said they believed it was likely additional victims would be identified as their investigation continued, they reported earlier that they expected two more incidents of children coached by Diaz in which he might have engaged in sexual conduct or sexual promotion of minors. “We have physical evidence and statements that lead us to believe there may be more victims,” said GPD Public Information Officer Ben Tobias on Friday, April 25.

However, on Tuesday, April 29, Tobias confirmed seven cases had been reported at that time and said, “We are still interviewing potential victims and the case is unraveling very slowly.”

Diaz was a part-time swim coach at Makos Aquatics Club of Gainesville, presumably the location where he met the young boys. However, one of his victims said the actual sexual encounters with Diaz occurred at the coach's residence. He was able to describe the street, the layout and the inside of the house in detail for investigators.

According to Tobias, the first arrest came after police were contacted by the Florida Department of Children and Families on Wednesday, April 23. Officials said that a confidential report had been filed with their agency alleging that a teenage boy was involved in an inappropriate relationship with Diaz. The following day, a bench warrant was issued on charges of cruelty toward a child by directing the sexual performance by a child and possession of child pornography.

GPD investigators praised the first victim for coming forward. “We understand that this must be a very difficult and embarrassing time for him, but he deserves justice and his coming forward has likely saved other children from being attacked by Diaz,” said investigators.

Due to the sensitive nature of the investigation, GPD issued a statement Wednesday that they will not be providing a running tally of possible victims in this case.

“The investigation is complex and very involved and will continue until we have identified each possible victim. We understand that these allegations may be extremely embarrassing or confusing for the victims, and we don't wish to put them through any additional grief,” said Tobias.

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Archer mayor back on job

ARCHER— Archer Mayor Frank Ogborn opened the Oct. 27 special commission meeting by recognizing Vice Mayor Doug Jones for taking on the responsibilities of mayor during his absence. Ogborn then thanked the other commission members and apologized to the citizens for the breakdown of the technology that he and the city had planned on using to make sure he could virtually attend meetings while out of town.

“There have been some people that have questioned my commitment to this city,” Ogborn read from a prepared statement. “But I assure you that my commitment has not wavered.”

Ogborn attended his first commission meeting Monday night after being out of town for the past four months. The Oct. 27 meeting was a continuation of the meeting from Oct. 13 that ran out of time as per the city’s policy for prodecural time limits.

According to Ogborn, he had been on vacation for the past four months with his wife, which had been approved before he had left. It was brought up at the last meeting that some citizens were unhappy with the mayor’s absence.

Commissioner Fletcher Hope had asked at the Oct. 13 meeting to discuss the mayor’s “excessive, unexcused absences” as well as the city managers overdue annual evaluation and review.

The meeting was cut short after it extended past 10:30 p.m., the procedural cut off time for commission meetings, which is why the Oct. 17 meeting needed to take place.

Despite the controversy surrounding the previous meeting, Mayor Ogborn thought that the meeting on Tuesday went well.

“I think it was business as usual. I did not feel any tension,” Ogborn said.

Ogborn walked into the commission meeting and jokingly asked, “Where do I sit?”

Several citizens and commissioners welcomed Ogborn back and several commented that it was good to see him.

Ogborn held up a check made out to the City of Archer in the amount of $800 and said in his statement that because he was unable to attend the meetings as planned, he was returning his salary for the past four months to the city manager.

He then handed the check to City Manager Al Grieshaber, Jr. who accepted it.

“I think my gesture of returning the money to the city… diffused any criticism or comments that could have been or might have been said,” Ogborn said.

At the commission meeting, the issue of the overdue evaluation of City Manager Al Grieshaber was tabled indefinitely. According to Ogborn, he had only received forms from two of the commissioners and the city would wait and give the remaining commissioners time to fill out their forms as well.

There was no mention of the mayor being dismissed at this meeting or any mention of the conflict from the previous meeting. The meeting covered all the topics on the agenda, and finished in less than an hour and a half.

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Students brighten up City Hall

W - City Hall Art DSC 3562

CARL MCKINNEY/ Alachua County Today

These pieces now hang in City Hall. The art depicts various animals native to Australia, created by students of Irby Elementary.

ALACHUA – The City of Alachua partnered up with some students from Alachua Elementary to redecorate City Hall.

Students of the school worked on art that was given to the city last fall. The students learned how colors relate to each other, how to match them and how to use the color wheel.

At the Jan. 27 city commission meeting on Monday, the city officially acknowledged the art and awarded the students certificates.

“The kids have done a great job,” said Kathleen Requesens, art teacher at Alachua Elementary.

Fourteen students were presented certificates from the city, including one who will have his work displayed at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

“I’m very proud of these students,” she said. “Wait till you see what’s coming next.”

The Alachua Elementary students got their art back, and new works from students of Irby Elementary are now on display.

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