WALDO – Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers were called to the scene of a crash at 3:35 a.m., Feb. 12. Waldo resident 34-year-old Daniel Joe Russell was traveling south on U.S. Highway 301 when his Harley Davidson left the roadway.
The Sportster became airborne and came to a final stop in the southern entrance of Mugshots Bar. Russell was located in the ditch north of the southern entrance to the bar. He was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident.
Routine blood tests are underway to determine if alcohol may have played a part in this incident.
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ALACHUA – Alachua residents will soon stand to benefit from the City’s new call center. On Aug. 6, 2019, the City solicited formal bids for companies to partner with the City to establish a Customer Service Call Receipt and Response Services (Call Center). Services would include call answering, alarm monitoring, and utility dispatching support services. The call center will also allow for development of a database of residents’ phone numbers and emails. Among other benefits, this new capability will allow the City to notify utility customers in case of power disruption.
At the Feb. 10, 2020 Alachua City Commission meeting, the City accepted and authorized a bid from Interactive Utility Communications at an approximate cost of $24,000 that will be drawn from the City's Electric Fund. The awarded bid will include a contract effective through Sept. 30, 2020. The contract will automatically renew on Oct. 1, 2020 for one of four successive years, unless the automatic renewal is canceled by either party.
The Commission also took action on an Interlocal Agreement with the City of High Springs for Building Official Services. Currently the City of High Springs does not have a building official, and had requested to utilize the services of Alachua's building official. This agreement would provide a qualified building official to handle building permitting and inspections for High Springs.
Those services would include building inspection services for permitted construction activity related to building construction, repair, remodeling, demolition, or alteration projects that are subject to the Florida Building Code. It would also provide all permit holders a record of the inspection results as required by state statute. The City of Alachua will charge High Springs $55 for each inspection as well as for other services. Although the Alachua City Commission approved the proposal, final approval is to be considered by the City of High Springs City Commission during its Feb. 13, 2020 meeting.
The Commission also approved the $155,600 purchase of an underground cable puller for the city's public services department electric division. The Hydraulic Duct Dawg is the only manufacturer of an underground cable puller., which has unique safety features including an articulated three-axis boom, which keeps the user from having to move the boom manually, and a fully wireless remote control, which keeps the operators safe from potential electrical touch during equipment operation.
The Commission also approved entering into a contract with D & M Mowing, Inc. to provide services for the Annual Powerline Tree and Vegetation Maintenance Services. While the actual cost will not be known until the work is completed, the contract states it is not to exceed $100,000.
In other business, the Commission approved a revision to the FY 2020 Compensation Plan for the position of Human Resources Manager. During the initial approval on Dec. 9, 2019, the range for the position was listed at a minimum of $69,000 and a maximum of $103,500. The correct amount should been a minimum of $59,000 and a maximum of $85,550.
One ordinance was considered for rezoning property within the McGinley Industrial Park from Alachua County Planned Unit Development (PUD) to City of Alachua Industrial General (IG). McGinley Industrial Park is located north of County Road 25A (Northwest 120th Lane) and the CSX railroad and to the south of Northwest 128th Lane. The developed portion of the park is comprised of 17 lots ranging in size from approximately one acre to approximately two acres, with most lots approximately one acre in size.
Under the current PUD designation, no development, redevelopment, or expansion can occur until a City Future Land Use Map (FLUM) Designation and zoning are applied to a property. Several property owners within McGinley Industrial Park have jointly submitted this application to rezone the properties to place a zoning designation on the property that is consistent with the underlying FLUM Designation. The Commission approved this ordinance on the first reading with second and final approval to be considered at the Feb. 24, 2020 commission meeting.
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NEWBERRY – Most people would agree that the Newberry High School Varsity Volleyball Team had an amazing season ending on a high note with a District win of 9 – 0. Under the leadership of Coach Sherrod Moseley, the team achieved various awards and milestones as they represented themselves, their parents and the school with poise and good sportsmanship.
City of Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlow congratulated team members during the Jan. 27 City Commission meeting and highlighted a few of the players with details about their year.
Grace Oelrich was second runner-up for Player of the Year honors and First Team All-Area team. She led the team in 254 kills and 102 blocks, is fourth in 1A and 27th in the state.
Abby Pace was First Team All-Area, led the team in 541 digs and was second in 1A and eighth in the state. This is a record at Newberry High School for a season.
Sarah Miller was First Team All-Area and first ever Newberry Volleyball Player of the Week in the state of Florida. She provided 43 assists in the Regional Championship game and is Max Prep Player of the Year for the 2019 season.
Rylee Coleman was Scholar Athlete of the Week on TV 20 and Second Team All-Area. She led the team in assists 529 times, was third in 1A and 83rd in the state.
Kalen Bennett was Second Team All-Area and a three-year starter. She never lost a District game.
Paige Dinges was Second Team All-Area, had 228 kills and had 13 kills in the State Championship game.
Nicole Everson was Second Team All-Area for the entire year with 169 kills and 60 blocks.
Lily Haugh was HM (Honorable Mention) All-Area, led the team in Aces, was seventh in 1A and 100th in the state.
Katie Oxer was HM All-Area.
“Additionally,” said Marlowe, “we wish the two seniors [Bennett and Coleman] good luck in all future endeavors. We will miss you next year, but know you are doing well and enjoying life after high school, whatever path you may choose.”
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ALACHUA – Students from the Bhaktivedanta Academy recently had an opportunity to show off original artwork they created as part of a two-month long project. At the Feb. 10, 2020 Alachua City Commission meeting, Mayor Gib Coerper presented certificates to 15 students at Bhaktivedanta Academy for their photographic project entitled "My Family, Friends and Me – Creative Portraits,” which is currently on display in City Hall.
Bhaktivedanta Academy is a Montessori school, which also emphasizes spiritual traditions and culture of ancient India among the Hare Krishna community. The seventh through tenth graders at Bhaktivedanta Academy study in the International Baccalaureate (IB) system, which is a worldwide program with the goal providing students with the opportunity to receive an education fit for a globalizing world.
The art project was an exploration of students finding creative ways to express themselves through photography. The students took hundreds of pictures in different genres, including landscape, still and "forced perspective" photos, and created photo essays about topics they felt strongly about. They then focused on unique ways to photograph their family, friends or self.
The creative project was a perfect match for IB schools that specifically educate students to be risk-takers and good communicators, as well as creative thinkers.
As part of the school’s visual arts program, instructor Kristina Danka developed the idea of creating unusual portrait concepts for the students to explore. The assignment was to show new ways of viewing people they knew, themselves or to create portraits of the student’s idols, mirroring other photography or art over the centuries. Other than these basic guidelines, it was up to the individual student to decide how to accomplish this.
If the student was to show a portrait of family, friends or self, they were to create a triptych of three photos showing head, hand and feet in ways that reflect the person’s personality. If it was recreating an image of an artwork or famous person, they could emulate it or create a portrait that reflected their view of the subject.
“I have found that this ‘freedom within boundaries’ methodology works very well for this age group, they get just enough guidance so that they know what they are doing and don't feel lost, but to execute the tasks they need to take their own initiative, explore new territories, and dive into creative challenges,” Danka said. “We have found that these photography exercises gave our students a great opportunity to tap into their own, often unexplored well of creative energy.
“This project was a way to get them to focus on composition, self-expression, and exploring the power of observation that enables us to find uniqueness in ordinary objects, or people we see every day instead of simply taking pictures,” said Danka.
Danka began teaching at the Bhaktivedanta Academy four years ago. She is a European-born filmmaker and academic who moved from New York to Alachua with her husband who was a screenwriting professor at NYU, and also works in Hollywood as a story analysis. She has produced over 30 award winning documentaries and videos and is the author of three books.
Most of her documentaries have been about socially conscious issues, humanitarian causes and the environment. “The first time we visited Alachua County was in 2015, when we were working on a documentary job. We immediately fell in love with the people and the climate here, and were especially impressed by the wonderful atmosphere of the Bhaktivedanta Academy in Alachua,” said Danka. She went on to explain that the next year when their daughter turned six, they decided to move to the area and enroll her in the school.
“This was supposed to be a one-year experiment for us due to concerns about being distant from family, the Florida environment and weather and moving to a rural area after years in the big city,” said Danka. “It has been four years now, and although we still do a lot of back and forth traveling between New York and Florida, we feel settled and happy here.”
Danka had taught adults at college level for over 10 years, and said she was concerned about entering a classroom full of teenagers. “But I must say, these kids are truly amazing, we get along very well,” Danka said. “Day by day, I am inspired by them and feel very privileged to be able to facilitate them opening new doors of self-discovery and witness their creativity.”
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L-R: GFWC High Springs New Century Woman’s Club Executive Board Members Historian Vickie Cox and Trustee Carole Tate deliver 76 “Snack Packs” in honor of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and an assortment of beautifully-decorated valentines for Ronald McDonald House to distribute to families of sick children staying in their facility while their child is being treated at Shands Hospital.
HIGH SPRINGS — GFWC High Springs New Century Woman’s Club members have been hard at work again.
This time they have taken the time to assembled 76 “Snack Packs,” which they took to the Ronald McDonald House in Gainesville. The packs were in honor of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday earlier this month.
The bags were given to family members to take with them while visiting their children at Shands Hospital. Additional bags will be placed in the family visiting room at the hospital.
While they were at it, the group also created hand-made Valentine cards, which will be given to the Ronald McDonald House residents on Valentine’s Day.
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HIGH SPRINGS — High Springs School Resource Officer Jason Taylor received a standing ovation during the Jan. 23 High Springs City Commission meeting. Taylor was presented with a High Springs Police Department Life Saving Award for saving a student’s life in an emergency.
On Nov. 19, a third grade student had food lodged in his mouth during lunchtime at the High Springs Community School. Complete blockage of the student’s airway endangered the student’s life.
Taylor was present when the student began choking and was able to successfully perform the Heimlich maneuver and dislodge the blockage. He then helped the student to the nurse’s station where the student received further treatment and evaluation.
Because of Taylor’s quick action at such a critical time, Police Chief Antoine Sheppard awarded him the Life Saving Award and read the plaque to the audience.
“We are not only proud of what Officer Taylor did that day but for the many other ways in which he serves the students as well as the ways all our officers serve our community,” said Sheppard.
“He should be further recognized for his humility in saying, ‘I was just doing my job,’” said High Springs Police Department Sgt. D. Shenk, the officer who nominated Taylor for this recognition.
Although Taylor is a man of few words, he thanked his family, who he said was filling up the whole front row, and thanked the City for believing in him, “in my agency, in my chief and letting us do what we do and love every day.”
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Cont: Taylor perform the Heimlich maneuverAdd a comment