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ALACHUA COUNTY ‒ The Alachua City Commission honored two Turkey Creek residents for saving a life at the Turkey Creek Golf Course. The Aug. 9 Commission kicked off with the recognition of Nancy L. Baumann and Georgina Kassebaum, avid golfers and volunteers at the golf club’s pro shop.

The two women were preparing to leave the pro shop to play golf when they began talking to a man who said that while he loved to play golf, his health made it hard to walk the course tracking the ball after each swing. The women offered to let him come with them and help him out. Suddenly, on the fourth hole, the man collapsed in full cardiac arrest.

Baumann had learned CPR as a Girl Scout but never expected to use it. But that day on the golf course, that knowledge was a lifesaver. As Baumann applied CPR to keep the victim's heart pumping, Kassbaum called 911 and helped direct medics and an ambulance from the Hague Fire Station to their location.

Lt. Ron Lewis of the fire station spoke about their efforts. “In many cases, help arrives too late to help major cardiac victims. Without the heart pumping blood and oxygen to the brain, a victim begins to suffer oxygen depredation to the brain within four minutes and by eight minutes they will be brain dead,” said Lewis. “Without these women's efforts to apply CPR and direct us to the location, this man would not have survived.”

Lewis added that efforts of bystanders offer rescue crews an increased chance of saving victims in critical time. “We wish to acknowledge those bystanders that help us save lives, so I contacted Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper.”

Coerper presented both women with a certificate for their heroic efforts as they were joined at the podium by the crews of Alachua Fire Station 21 and Hague Fire Station 25, as well as the entire commission.

In other city business, Lisa Kanarek, J.D., Outreach and Education Coordinator for Elder Options, was on hand to offer updates on the organization’s activities. Elder Options is the state-designated area agency on aging, and the Aging & Disability Resource Center. Kanarek presented the commission with an outline of services offered by the organization, especially regarding COVID-19 and vaccination efforts.

She spoke of the detrimental effect that misinformation about the vaccine has on the community and the huge surge of cases among unvaccinated people. “While our main focus is on the elderly and most vulnerable population, COVID infections, especially the Delta variant among the general population, affects everyone around them,” said Kanarek. “We want to help the entire community so our services are not just focused on the elderly, but helping anyone who wants it, to get vaccines.”

Elder Options offers information on where to get tested or receive the vaccine and is working with Hitchcock’s Grocery stores to provide vaccines in rural areas. The organization offers rides to vaccine locations for those without transportation and can even arrange for shots to be given at a person’s residence if they are housebound.

“The goal is to get as many people safely vaccinated as possible regardless of age for the safety of all those around them,” Kanarek said. Elder Options can be reached at 1-800-262-224.

The City Commission has approved increasing water and wastewater rates in the upcoming 2021-22 fiscal year. The City’s public services director, Rodolfo Valladares, said that the City establishes water, wastewater and reclaimed water rates to generate revenue sufficient to meet its operating expenses.

The water, wastewater, and reclaimed water rates were last modified in 2020 for the Fiscal Year 2021 budget process. Rates are evaluated annually during the budget process. Valladares said that the City is proposing a three percent increase to water rates, and two percent increase to the wastewater and reclaimed water rate. The Commission approved the increases Monday night on first reading and the matter will be heard about on second final reading at the Aug. 23 meeting.

The Commission also approved two financial measures for the City of Alachua Police Department (APD). The Commission approved an agreement between the School Board of Alachua County (SBAC) and City of Alachua to continue School Resource Officer Program (SROP) with the City of Alachua for the four schools within the City’s jurisdiction.

The agreement includes Santa Fe High School, Mebane Middle School, Alachua Elementary School and Irby Elementary School and five School Resource Officers. Each elementary school and the middle school will have one officer, with Santa Fe High School having two officers. The share of funding for Alachua schools remains level from the previous fiscal year at $300,000, with payments made in 10 monthly installments.

The other law enforcement issue was acceptance of $11,070 in federal funding assistance through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program. The JAG Program provides agencies with the flexibility to prioritize and support a broad range of activities to prevent and control crime based on their own local needs and conditions. JAG funds may be used for state and local initiatives, technical assistance, training, personnel, equipment, supplies, contractual support and information systems for criminal justice. APD will use the money for upgrading equipment with the department.

The Commission also approved renewing the insurance package with the Florida Municipal Insurance Trust (FMIT) at the base premium of $486,093, the FMIT Group Health Insurance plan at the base premium of $1,323,511, the Dental, Vision, and Life group plans at a combined base premium of $76,968, the storage tank liability, law enforcement death and disability policies, which now includes an “at work” coverage for all City employees at total extra cost of only $190 per year.

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