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ALACHUA - Summer is here, and in Florida, starting July 1, the second annual Freedom Week kicks in. runs from Friday, July 1 through Thursday, July 7.  Consumers can purchase qualifying recreation and outdoor items and admissions to entertainment and cultural events exempt from tax during the 2022 Freedom Week Sales Tax Holiday. Passed by the Florida Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the sales tax holiday begins Friday, July 1 and extends through Thursday, July 7. 

Included are entertainment purchases as well as recreational items such as fishing, camping, sporting, boating, and pool supplies are included in the list of eligible items you can take advantage of purchasing during the seven-day tax-free holiday.

S include event and performance tickets for concerts, sporting events, and plays scheduled to be held between July 1 – Dec. 31 as well as admission to museums, state parks—and season tickets are also included.

This tax-free holiday does not include purchases made at theme parks, entertainment complexes, public lodging establishments, or airports.

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See below for detailed information provided by the Florida Department of Revenue. https://floridarevenue.com/taxes/tips/Documents/TIP_22A01-04.pdf

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ALACHUA COUNTY - The North Florida Livestock Agents Group is hosting the 2022 Livestock & Forages Field Day on July 14, 2022, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Santa Fe River Ranch (29220 N.W. 122 Street, Alachua).
 
The field day provides equipment and livestock demonstrations and presentations from UF/IFAS Specialists and County Agents. Topics include drone scouting of forage crops, soil mapping for precision management, heifer selection and conditioning, variable rate fertilizer application, and electric fencing.
 
The early registration fee is $20.00, with a $2.85 additional fee (includes lunch). Participants must register online by July 13. The registration fee after July 13, or if paying at the door, will be $50.00. There are no refunds for the registration fee.
 
For more information, contact Dr. Cindy Sanders, Director/Livestock Agent, UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County, or Dr. Kevin Korus, Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent, UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County at 352-955-2402.

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ALACHUA – Winning teams got bragging rights as well as prizes during the Alachua Chamber of Commerce’s Sportsfest Golf Tournament June 18 at the Turkey Creek Golf Course in Alachua. In a long running tradition, area teams participated in the 32nd annual event sponsored by the City of Alachua Chamber of Commerce.

Area golfers began the scramble early Saturday morning in shotgun style. Teams of four players each played as best ball scramble, each group using the best shot of their team’s four shots for the following shots to pin. The teams worked their way around the course at Turkey Creek for about four hours completing 18 holes.

New Generation Builders lay claim to the winning shootout team with players Mitch Hall, Devon Ross, Sam Stark and Scottie Langford. Santa Fe River Ranch nabbed 1st place gross while New Generation Builders took 2nd place gross and Capital City Bank came in with 3rd place gross.

The winners for net were Conestogas taking 1st place net, Edward Jones - Ed Potts -Matt Surrency taking 2nd place net and Easy Dumpster claiming 3rd place net.

While the golfers undoubtedly enjoyed their time on the course, it was also for a good cause. Funds raised from this tournament have typically supported youth in the community through City of Alachua Legacy Park Recreation programs. Over the past several years, tournament funds were donated to the Alachua branch library for enhanced study space.

The Chamber also recently donated $15,000 to provide cases for the laptops and computers that were provided to all elementary and middle school students in Alachua. They will also fund any needed replacements and provide for new students each year.

“While our chamber focus is on supporting our local business community, we also want to be a partner with the city and our community service organizations to improve our schools,” said Alachua Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Sportsfest Committee Chair Ed Potts. “None of this would be possible without the support of our long-term sponsors, particularly Dollar General and Capital City Bank.”

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ALACHUA COUNTY — The voter registration deadline for the 2022 Primary Election is July 25. This deadline is now one month away.
 
Florida is a closed primary election state, meaning that only voters registered with a political party can vote for that party's candidates in partisan races.
 
However, there is something on the ballot for everyone.
 
All registered voters, regardless of party affiliation, can vote on issues and nonpartisan races.
 
Here is an idea of how a voter's ballot may appear for the Primary Election depending on their party affiliation: 
 
  • A voter registered as a Republican may only vote in Republican and nonpartisan contests.
  • A voter registered as a Democrat may only vote in Democratic and nonpartisan contests.
  • A voter registered as No Party Affiliation (NPA) may only vote in nonpartisan contests.
 
Election Day for the Primary Election is on August 23, 2022. Any individual who would like to participate in the Primary Election must be registered to vote by July 25, 2022.
 
Additionally, any voter who wishes to change their party affiliation must do so by the July 25 deadline for the change to take effect for this year's Primary Election.
 
If you are not yet registered to vote, there are numerous ways to register:
  • Online: Florida residents can register to vote online. The online voter registration portal — found at RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov — is a safe and secure option for voter registration. You will need a valid Florida State ID (Florida Driver's License number/Florida ID Card number) AND the last four digits of your social security number.
  • In person: The Alachua County Supervisor of Elections office, which is located at 515 N. Main St. on the third floor, is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Voter registration forms can also be completed and turned in at any Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles office or any Alachua County Public Library.
  • By mail: Forms are available online at VoteAlachua.gov. Completed forms must be received by the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office before 5 p.m. on the July 25 deadline.
 
Already registered voters are encouraged to verify and update their voter registration status. This can be done at https://www.votealachua.com/My-Registration-Status, by calling 352-374-5252, or by visiting the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections office in person. Voters are encouraged to make any changes to their voter registration in advance of election day as changes could impact a voter's assigned polling place.
 
For more information on registering to vote or making changes to your party affiliation status, please contact the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office at 352-374-5252.

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NEWBERRY ‒ A man was found dead from a gunshot on Thursday night, June 16, around 10:25 p.m. Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Deputies responded to 911 reports of a man lying on the ground next to a vehicle near Champions Park in Newberry. 

Upon arrival to the location at the 24000 block of Southwest 30th Avenue, they discovered 53-year-old Newberry resident Joseph M. Malone was deceased and had suffered a gunshot wound to his torso.

The type of gun used in the homicide was unknown but will be determined following an autopsy.

Alachua County Sheriffs’ deputies are urging the public to contact Alachua County Crime Stoppers if anyone has information about this incident.  A person can remain anonymous and still be eligible for a reward by contacting Alachua County Crime Stoppers Inc at 352-372-STOP (7867) or by downloading the Crime Stoppers P3 Tips app.

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ALACHUA COUNTY - Due to crisis-level overcrowding and low staffing levels, the Alachua County Animal Resources and Care (AR&C) Shelter will immediately cease taking both owner surrenders and healthy, free-roaming animals. This temporary closure will be in place until the animal population aligns with the shelter's capacity for care. The shutdown will allow staff time to work with the animals in their care to assess their behavior and match them with adopters. It will also allow staff the time to focus on foster care and continue working with rescue partners to assist in transfers. 
 
"I am ordering this shutdown for the sake of the animals and our staff. We are seeing nationwide staffing shortages, and unfortunately, Alachua County is not immune," Alachua County Manager Michele Lieberman said. "Working at the animal shelter, particularly when severely overcrowded, is physically and emotionally exhausting for existing staff doing their best to take care of the animals."
 
"I fully support the Manager's decision. The number of animals at the shelter exceeds the staff's capacity to provide humane care," said Alachua County Commission Chair Marihelen Wheeler. "The overcrowding crisis must be addressed for the welfare of the animals and the health of our dedicated staff."
 
"I support this action. Shelters nationwide are challenged by too many animals, understaffing, and inadequate space," explained Dr. Cynda Crawford, the Director of the Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine. "For many shelters, we have utilized this temporary emergency shutdown strategy to focus shelter resources on community placements of the animals in their care. This strategy has successfully returned shelters to a more balanced state resulting in good animal care and staff welfare."
 
The shelter will remain open to the public for adoptions and reclaims. The Animal Resource Officers will continue to respond to calls from the community concerning public safety. Residents should call 911 in the event of an emergency. The shelter staff will still be available to assist animals (brought in by bystanders, not owners) needing immediate veterinary treatment. 
 
If you find a free-roaming pet and choose to get involved, please attempt to locate the owner. Here are some tips for reuniting pets with their owners: 
 
  • Think LOST, not STRAY.  Many animals never return home because the finder assumes the animal has been abandoned or dumped when the animal has just accidentally gotten out.
  • Their owner may be frantically looking for their pet but doesn't know the best way to go about it. Pets that have been out for even a short time may start to look neglected and may appear frightened or skittish, giving the impression that they were abused or abandoned.
  • Secure the pet, look for any injuries, and provide water. Note the exact location you found the pet. If possible, walk the pet around the neighborhood, asking others if they recognize it.
  • Check for an identifying rabies tag or name tag. Call and text the owners OR call AR&C with the rabies tag number.
  • Check for a microchip at any vet clinic.
  • Take a photo of the pet in good lighting. Get a front-on nose shot that shows the pet's face and complete a “Found Pet” form on https://24petconnect.com/.
  • After filling out the “Found Pet” form, please also post the found pet on your neighborhood and local lost and found social media pages.
  • Gainesville Pet Finder is one of Alachua County’s main Lost and Found Facebook groups
  • along with https://NextDoor.com, where you can post specific to your neighborhood.
  • Do not mention gender or collar details. Remember, the goal is to locate the owner, not re-home the pet immediately. If you are contacted by another person directly claiming to be the owner, ask for proof of ownership before returning the pet. If you aren't sure what to do, contact AR&C for assistance.
  • Post signs in the neighborhood. Include a photo and your contact info.

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ALACHUA ‒ Betty Ann Terry, 46, of Alachua, was arrested on Tuesday, June 14, after allegedly flinging hot grease at a fellow employee at Popeyes Restaurant in Alachua.

On June 9, Alachua Police Department officers responded to Popeyes about a dispute between two employees. During their verbal argument, Terry allegedly said she was going to throw hot grease on the victim, another female employee.

The store manager said he had attempted to stop her, but he backed away in fear of having hot grease thrown on him. Terry then allegedly grabbed a tool from the fryer that had hot grease on it and she threw the grease at the victim. Witnesses said that Terry threw grease at the victim approximately three times. The regional manager told police that the grease is set at 330 degrees.

The victim had burn marks on her left side and left arm and there was damage to the business that had to be cleaned up, along with losses from having to close the business early. Terry reportedly fled before police arrived, but she was located on June 14.

Terry has been charged with aggravated battery causing harm or disability and damage to property under $200. She is being held on $75,150 bond.

Terry was previously arrested on Sept. 5, 2021, after allegedly threatening her nephew with a knife. The charges were later dropped on the same day her lawyer filed a motion requesting a reduction in her bond. Authorities report she has served five state prison terms and was most recently released in 2019 after serving a seven-year sentence on a conviction for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

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