July 5, 2022
It can be challenging to know the difference between County, City, and State governments. This video does a deep dive into the accomplishments, goals, and challenges of your County government. We encourage you to watch the Alachua County 2022 Annual Report.

Animal Shelter Emergency Intake Shutdown
Due to crisis-level overcrowding and low staffing levels, the Alachua County Animal Resources and Care (AR&C) Shelter has ceased 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." 

Sweetwater Square Affordable Housing Ribbon Cutting
Alachua County and residents of Sweetwater Square recently celebrated the ribbon cutting of the newly renovated affordable housing complex. The event celebrated the completion of the County bond-funded renovation project that completely refurbished and updated the development formerly known as Forest & Village Apartments in Gainesville. 

In 2020 the Alachua County Commission approved $26.5 million in bonds for the Sweetwater Square Project. Partnering with developer Fairstead, the bonds allowed the financing to acquire and completely renovate and rehabilitate the development. The project provides residents with 200 beautiful and affordable homes.

Landscape Fertilizer Ban in Effect through February within Alachua County
Alachua County’s landscape fertilizer regulations prohibit using landscape fertilizers with nitrogen from July through February and require that fertilizers containing nitrogen contain no less than 50 percent slow-release nitrogen. New regulations also prohibit phosphorus unless a deficiency is verified. The three numbers on a fertilizer bag are nitrogen, then phosphorus, and finally potassium. This means the middle number on the bag must be zero unless you have conducted a soil or tissue test to verify the need for phosphorus. In addition, signage about the fertilizer rules must be displayed at all stores that sell fertilizer. Alachua County Environmental Protection staff are currently distributing signage.

The July Plant of the Month is the Pepper
The UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office is pleased to announce that the July “Plant of the Month” is the pepper.

Peppers are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which protect against the development of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes while providing a combination of tangy taste and crunchy texture. In addition, peppers are an excellent snack since they provide very few calories because they are mostly water.
July is a good time to grow peppers 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 to get further insights on the Plant of the Month.

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. 
Court Services Receives Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities Accreditation
The Alachua County Department of Court Services Metamorphosis and OPUS programs were recently awarded the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) Accreditation. To become accredited, the Department of Court Services demonstrated that it focuses on quality improvement, the best possible outcomes of its services, and customer satisfaction. The accreditation lasts through May 31, 2025. 

The Metamorphosis and OPUS programs spent the past year working on updating policies and ensuring they are utilizing best practices in preparation for their accreditation. They went through the final stages of their accreditation process on May 19 and 20, 2022, when CARF International sent a team of professionals called surveyors to visit the site and evaluate its services for quality. The surveyors consulted with staff members and interviewed people using Metamorphosis and OPUS services. Surveyors Desiree Rodgers and Robin Shorter were impressed with both Metamorphosis and OPUS and recognized them each as outstanding programs. In addition, they were impressed with how Court Services programs blended treatment and criminal justice aspects into a cohesive program.

Court Services Director Michael Arizmendi stated, “The successful completion of the CARF survey was a team effort and was the result of many hours of planning and preparation over the past year.”

Achieving and maintaining accreditation involves a great deal of commitment and work. CARF surveyors identified areas the programs may improve and provide better service to its clients. Michael Arizmendi has directed Court Services staff to remain steadfast to preserve this esteemed accreditation for the organization. This is Metamorphosis’ and OPUS’s initial accreditation and a critical milestone towards making Court Services a premier Department. 
July Extension Programs