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February 29, 2024

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These highlights will give residents a quick review of the commission meeting and provide video, agenda, and other useful links.

Pilot housing program for homeless

The County Commission approved a new permanent housing pilot program that will convert shipping containers into homes for unhoused residents.

The idea to build container housing was first initiated by Commission Chair Mary Alford and draft plans call for up to 29 units to be placed along Southwest 13th Street in Gainesville (on the north end of the Scottish Inn property).

The containers will provide permanent housing in addition to the 67 apartments planned at the recently purchased Scottish and Budget Inns that the county is renovating for permanent housing. The new units are expected to be completed in 2025 and will also serve the community’s most vulnerable population.

Read the complete highlights for this meeting.

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FEATURE STORY- Alachua County’s Journey to Truth and Reconciliation

As Black History Month comes to a close, Alachua County would like to take a moment to highlight the vast and continued efforts being made around the community on a particular subject. This month’s feature story from PIO Andrew Caplan is titled “Alachua County’s Journey to Truth and Reconciliation.”

From the story:

“Beginning in 2018 and continuing over the past six years, Alachua County and hundreds of community members have embarked on a Truth and Reconciliation project in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama. The project shines a light on the dark side of our county’s history and looks for healing.

The result of that work has led to the creation of a unique county-wide effort unlike anywhere else in Florida – and arguably the nation – at a time when talking about race relations and slavery has been considered controversial by some.”

Read the full story.

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2024 Alachua County Citizens Academy Spring Classes

Alachua County believes citizen engagement is fundamental to effective government. As such, Alachua County is hosting the 2024 Alachua County Citizens Academy this spring. Residents are encouraged to sign up for the free Citizens Academy. Participants learn how county government and constitutional offices operate and how each of us, as citizens, can most effectively engage and participate in our county's future.

The program starts on April 4, 2024, and takes place on consecutive Thursday mornings for eight sessions. The registration deadline is March 17.

To view a complete schedule of classes, learn more about the program, and register online, visit the Alachua County Citizens Academy website.

"Informed citizens are the cornerstone of local government," says Alachua County Manager Michele L. Lieberman. "We would like you to join this award-winning, fast-paced and information-packed program." 

Topics include:

  • County Departments, including Fire Rescue, Animal Services, Environmental Protection, Community Services, Solid Waste and others.
  • Constitutional Officers, including the Sheriff's Office, Tax Collector, Supervisor of Elections, Clerk of the Court, and Property Appraiser.
  • Judicial Offices, including State's Attorney, Public Defender, and the Eighth Judicial Circuit.
  • Alachua County Library District
  • Department of Health – Alachua County
  • School Board of Alachua County
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Cuscowilla Summer Camp Registration Opens March 1

Registration for summer camp at Cuscowilla Nature and Retreat Center opens on March 1, 2024. This year's theme is "EPIC Summer Adventure. Where campers will Explore, Play, Investigate, and Create!" Those registering for summer camps should visit the Camp Cuscowilla program page. Links to register will be available starting March 1, 2024 at 8 a.m. 

Day camps will be offered for seven weeks from June 10 to July 26, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Children ages 7 to 12 can register for one week or the whole summer. Each week offers archery, swimming lessons and recreational swimming, outdoor skills, arts and crafts, kayaking and more. Campers will also attend field trips once a week to places in Alachua County, such as the Santa Fe Zoo, the Alachua County Sports Complex, Poe Springs, the Cade Museum and more.

Read more about the Summer Camps.

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Fire Station 80 Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

On Friday, March 1, 2024, at 10 a.m., the Alachua County Commission is holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new Alachua County Fire Station #80 (10180 SW 24th Ave, Gainesville). The ribbon cutting is open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

The program at the event includes comments from Master of Ceremonies Alachua County Manager Michele Lieberman, Commission Chair Mary C. Alford, Fire Rescue Chief Harold Theus and Public Works Director Ramon Gavarrete.

“A new fire station isn't just a building – it's a testament to our commitment to protect and serve,” said County Manager Michele Lieberman. “It ensures that help is always within reach when it's needed most.”

The new fire station was completed in February 2024 at a total budget cost of $6,500,000. The single-story concrete masonry facility features energy-efficient equipment and sustainable design building features, with 100% backup generated power. It is an 11,500-square-foot state-of-the-art building that will last 50+ years. The Lunz Group from Lakeland provided architectural and engineering services for the project, and the D.E. Scorpio Corporation is the construction management firm "At Risk."

This new fire station provides adequate space for the existing Fire Rescue crew and will enhance the service delivered to this growing area of unincorporated Alachua County. Building and opening this facility provides critical space for staff and equipment. 

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The March Plant of the Month is Thyme

The UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office is pleased to announce that the March "Plant of the Month" is thyme.

Thyme has a peppery and earthy scent, but the flavor is earthly floral but spicy with hints of clove, lemon, mint, and camphor. It is a member of the mint family and is mostly native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean.

"Embrace thyme's growth, and you'll harvest not just leaves but a wealth of flavor, wellness, and garden serenity," said Alachua County Commission Chair Mary Alford.

March is a good time to grow thyme in North Central Florida. Check the Plant of the Month website for information on planting, harvesting, recipes, and more. Listen to the Extension Cord Podcast for further insights on the Plant of the Month.

The Plant of the Month program is a collaborative effort between the Alachua County Board of County Commission, UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County, Alachua County master gardener volunteers, Alachua County Public Library, and Working Food.

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The Wild Spaces Public Places Infrastructure Surtax Citizen Oversight Board Vacancies

Alachua County is seeking applicants for the Infrastructure Surtax Citizen Oversight Board, also known as the Wild Spaces Public Places (WSPP) board.

Passed by voters in 2022, the 10-year, one-cent WSPP sales tax helps pay for parks, conservation, roads and housing initiatives throughout Alachua County. The sales tax is expected to generate roughly $500 million for projects throughout the county before sunsetting. Each of the nine municipalities receives a share of the WSPP sales tax.

To accommodate working schedules, the 10-member board, which includes three alternates, meets quarterly at 5:30 p.m. to ensure the surtax proceeds are invested in eligible projects, per state statute and county ordinance.

Learn more about the board vacancies.

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2024 Alachua County Youth Fair & Livestock Show

The Alachua County Youth Fair and Livestock Show Association is pleased to announce the upcoming 2024 Alachua County Youth Fair & Livestock Show from Feb. 29 to March 5, 2024, at the Alachua County Agriculture and Equestrian Center (23100 W Newberry Road, Newberry). The event is free and open to the public.

The fair is an educational platform for the youth in Alachua County interested in agriculture. Youth will exhibit both livestock and non-livestock 4-H & FFA projects.

“The youth fair benefits agriculture and the local community by providing an educational opportunity for youth to learn about production agriculture,” said Dr. Cindy Sanders, UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County director. “Working with livestock and other agriculture events through the youth fair prepares future citizens of Alachua County to be knowledgeable about agriculture production and land use. This benefits Alachua County by providing citizens the opportunity to see our 4-H & FFA youth projects.”

Learn more about the Alachua County Youth Fair and Livestock Show.

View the complete schedule of events.

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March Extension Programs

Environmental Horticulture Program

Agriculture and Natural Resources Program

Commercial Horticulture Programs

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County Seeks Advisory Board Volunteers

Are you looking for the ideal way to get involved and make a difference in our community? Joining a County Advisory Board is the perfect way to discover your ideal volunteer role tailored to your passions and interests! Are you an avid animal lover? Dive into the rewarding world of the Animal Welfare Board, where you can make a tangible difference in the lives of our furry friends. Perhaps you're captivated by the rich tapestry of local history - in that case, the Historical Commission awaits your expertise and enthusiasm. With a myriad of board openings available, residents across the county are invited to explore and uncover the perfect match for their skills and passions. Join us in shaping a brighter future for our community - one volunteer opportunity at a time.

The County Commission relies on input from these boards to make informed decisions and set policies. Over 250 citizens serve on the advisory boards, advising county government and local agencies on many topics. 

Find out more about Advisory Board openings.

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