January 19, 2021
On Friday, January 14, an event was held to honor the life and legacy of the late Judge Stephan P. Mickle by renaming the Alachua County Criminal Courthouse after Judge Mickle. The event was at the Main entrance of the Criminal Courthouse located at 220 S. Main Street, downtown Gainesville.

The event featured speakers from Alachua County, the City of Gainesville, and the Judiciary as well as music, a color guard. and words of inspiration. Alachua County middle and high school students participated in an essay/poetry contest based on a theme pertaining to Judge Mickle’s impact on history, society, and the future. The winner of this year’s contest shared their essay during the ceremony.

Vaccination Gift Card Program Runs Until February 28
Because the science is clear that getting the shot will drastically decrease your chances of getting sick or dying, the County Commission urges residents to get vaccinated and, for those eligible, to receive a booster shot. The County’s program offering $25 gift cards for vaccinated people runs from January 12, through February 28, 2022. The gift card is available for those getting initial shots or the booster. The gift card is not retroactive to those already vaccinated.

Commissioner Ken Cornell on Alachua County Talks
A new edition of Alachua County Talks featuring an interview with Alachua County Commissioner Ken Cornell is now available.

Alachua County Commissioner Ken Cornell has finished his second stint as the Chair of the Alachua County Commission. He was born and raised in Gainesville, educated in the public school system and, while working full time, graduated at the top of his class from the University of Florida’s Fisher School of Accounting. He has owned and operated a number of small businesses in Alachua County.

In speaking of the interview, Alachua County Talks host Mark Sexton said, “In looking back over the last year, Chair Cornell gives residents a good look at the County's accomplishments, goals, and challenges.”

Alachua County Adds 3,936 Acres to the Lochloosa Slough Preserve
Alachua County Forever, the County’s environmental land acquisition program, has closed on the largest single land acquisition in the program’s 22-year history. The 3,936-acre purchase from the Weyerhaeuser Company bridges the gap between the 1,861-acre Lochloosa Slough Preserve and the 385-acre Fox Pen Tract.

Together with properties owned by the St. Johns River Water Management District and Alachua Conservation Trust, these lands form a contiguous protected corridor of more than 10,000 acres. All of these lands are within the state-designated Florida Wildlife Corridor.

ACFR Adds New Rescue Unit
Alachua County Fire Rescue (ACFR) is proud to announce the addition of a 24-hour Rescue Unit. This rescue unit is an Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance equipped with life-saving medical equipment. It is staffed with at least one State of Florida Certified Paramedic and one State of Florida Certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). This unit will join the other 14 24-hour rescue units and five 13-hour Peak Load Rescue Units in responding to over 45,000 incidents per year in Alachua County. The County plans to place a 16th 24-hour Rescue Unit into service later this year.

The unit will be designated as Rescue 36 and will be placed into service on Monday, January 17, 2022, at 8 a.m. Rescue 36 will be located at 4000 SW 20th Avenue in Gainesville.

Arbor Day 2022
Volunteers and participants of all ages are invited to join the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department and the Newberry City Parks Department to celebrate Arbor Day 2022. The event is on Friday, January 21, 2022, at 3 p.m., at the Easton Sports Complex (24880 N.W. 16th Avenue, Newberry). 

Participants will plant 15 new trees. Free trees will be available to anyone interested in planting new trees at home. Demonstrations and information will be provided for proper tree planting and care. Community leaders will help commemorate the celebration, and there will also be a special guest reading from The Lorax.

Free Parking for Alachua County Public Meetings
Citizens attending Alachua County public meetings downtown can enjoy free parking in the S.W. Parking Garage. In partnership with the City of Gainesville, citizens parking in the S.W. Parking Garage (105 SW 3rd St, Gainesville) will be issued a parking validation code for publicly noticed meetings.

To obtain parking validation, download the “Passport” app on your smartphone and pay for your session. Then visit the Alachua County Manager's Office, located on the 2nd floor of the County Administration Building, on noticed public meeting days to receive a validation code.
County Crisis Center Seeks Crisis Line Volunteers
The Alachua County Crisis Center seeks volunteers to become Crisis Line Counselors. The next training class begins on Saturday, January 22, 2022. After the initial session, training continues for seven weeks on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. There is no fee for training, and applicants do not need to possess specific degrees or certifications. Training is held online and can be done remotely. After training is complete, the Crisis Center asks for a commitment of 24 four-hour shifts.

“Volunteers learn active listening, crisis intervention, suicide prevention, community disaster response, and more,” said Alachua County Crisis Center Director Alexandra Martinez. “Volunteering is an opportunity to impact the lives of fellow community members and gain life-enhancing communication skills.”

For more information, contact Alachua County Crisis Center Training Coordinator Kevin Sosa at 352-264-6781 or ksosa@alachuacounty.us.
Omicron COVID-19 Variant Impacting County Operations
The very contagious Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus is beginning to impact Alachua County staff and operations. As of this morning, approximately 25 employees have tested positive. We are approaching the point where County services (such as trash pickups and road maintenance) may be impacted.

Alachua County staff are working diligently to provide uninterrupted government services and appreciate the understanding of County citizens during this challenging time. For those who must visit County buildings in-person, face masks are strongly encouraged regardless of vaccination status. For those attending meetings in the Jack Durrance Auditorium or Grace Knight Conference Room, masks are required.
Alachua County Health Department Expands Access to WIC Services
Leveraging the extended hours support provided by the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners, the DOH-Alachua is expanding Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) services to Wednesday evenings, beginning January 12, 2022. 

“In addition to services provided during regular business hours five days per week, our staff are pleased to be able to improve access to vital educational and nutritional services to our pregnant, new mothers, and children under the age of five on Wednesday evenings,” stated Paul Myers, Administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County.

Conservation Easement Adds Protection to Santa Fe River
Alachua County Forever, the County’s environmental land acquisition program, recently closed on the purchase of a 2,274-acre conservation easement from the Hitchcock family. This property, with a long agricultural history, will now be permanently protected from development to help maintain water quality in the Santa Fe River and habitat for wildlife. 

The property provides a vital link between the County’s Mill Creek Preserve and riverfront properties owned by Alachua County and the Suwannee River Water Management District. Together, these properties provide over 4,700 contiguous acres protecting creeks, sinkholes, and seeps that feed the Santa Fe River. The conservation easement will also facilitate the movement of wildlife between protected habitat areas.

Broccoli is January’s Plant of the Month
The UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office is pleased to announce that the January “Plant of the Month” is broccoli.

January is a good time to grow broccoli in North Central Florida. Check the Plant of the Month website for information on planting, harvesting, recipes, and more on this nutritional vegetable.

The Plant of the Month program is a collaborative effort between Alachua County Board of County Commissioners, UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County, Alachua County Master Gardener Volunteers, Alachua County Public Library, and Working Food.

January Extension Programs